Thursday, January 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday Quilt Edition: Baby S's Quilt

I just realized it's Thursday again. The days just fly by. Time to share another quilt I made before I started blogging. Today's is another baby quilt. I made this one in the summer of 2010 for my grandniece, who was born in July that year. I made it to match her nursery colors, which I think were part of a forest theme with a birch tree mural on the wall. 

Love those quilts with legs pictures

The blocks are 7 inches and the sashes are 1 1/4 inch wide, which makes the quilt (before washing) about 42 1/2 by 50 3/4 inches plus a little extra to allow for the binding. Back then I tied baby quilts with perle cotton. On this one I used orange and green. The batting is polyester. 

When S's little sister T was born in 2013, I made S a little doll quilt with the leftovers of her baby quilt. It was one of my practice pieces to learn FMQ.

In other news, here's the fabric I selected with my gift certificate from Fat Quarter Shop that I won in the Blogger's Quilt Festival this past fall. (Thanks to both FQ Shop and Amy from Amy's Creative Side).
I plan to use the last 5 on the right with the fabrics I showed Tuesday to make a fun donation quilt. 

Oh, and one more thing--I was at my local library the other day, and they were having a book sale, 50 cents a book. When I got to the check out table with these two books, the clerk laughed and said, "Oh quilt books--you can have 'em." I wasn't sure whether to be insulted or what, but I got out of there quickly before she changed her mind. They're kind of old books, but have some simple patterns that I think could translate nicely to more contemporary quilts. Lucky me, no matter what that woman meant by her comment. 

Okay, that's it for this week. I'm linking up with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday. Have a good weekend, everybody!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Fix and Some Starts

Now that I'm back from new grandbaby lovin' and preschooler playin' it's time to get to work on some new projects.

First up is tackling a fix for my treadle sewing machine. It broke in mid-December while I was quilting. I decided to wait until after my grandson was born to fix it because I didn't want to risk having it torn apart while I left town for 2 weeks. I was afraid I'd forget how to put it back together. The part I needed to replace was the bracket you see just below the spring on the presser bar on the left in the picture. 

Please ignore the gunkiness you see in the picture. When I bought the treadle I was so excited to just get it working that I never properly cleaned it. That may have led to the demise of the bracket. There is a little arm on the bracket that the presser bar lift lever pushes up to raise the presser bar. It cracked off. I could still use the machine but had to lift the bar by hand--difficult and annoying, and if I hadn't been quilting with a hopping foot, I wouldn't have been able to use it because it greatly increased the pressure on the presser foot. 
Poor bracket arm
Fortunately, I was able to find a replacement online, so this week I worked up the nerve to take apart the presser bar system. It took a long time to work everything loose, but with lots of DW-40 and sewing machine oil, I did it. My husband helped me hold everything together and lined up right to reconstruct it. The most challenging part was adjusting the height of the presser bar so that it would lift smoothly. But I got it done, and it feels so good to be able to say I fixed my machine myself. (And I'm not mechanical at all.) I must say I never could have done it without all the great resources on the internet for working on vintage sewing machines. Anyway, my machine is considerably cleaner now, and I'm back in business.

So, what's next? Right now I'm planning a BIG quilt--the biggest I've ever made--for my son and daughter-in-law. It's for a queen size bed, but the mattress is 24 inches thick (!). I'm agonizing over just how big to make the quilt, allowing for some drop below the mattress (I think most of the box spring will be covered by a wooden frame) and quilting and batting shrinkage. I'm thinking I might have to go with 120 by 120 inches. Does that sound like too much??? If anyone has any suggestions of how to plan for the quilt to be big enough, but not too big, please share. 

Here's a preliminary drawing of the plan:

Mostly it's chevrons with varying widths, but I've added some other little divisions here and there. I'll probably fiddle with them as I go. The quilt will be made with Kona solids. I just ordered the swatch card to help me plan the colors. I've wanted one for a long time and just came into a little gift money, so I decided to treat myself. The quilt is based on a pillow that my daughter-in-law admired on

The other thing in the planning stage is a donation quilt. I'm using fabric I won in a giveaway. (Thank you, again, Southern Fabric and Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts!) I used the gift certificate to buy some Gypsy Caravan fabric by Amy Butler along with some coordinating fabrics from Freshcut by Heather Bailey and Chinoiserie Chic by Dena Fishbein. 

I plan to use Gently Down the Stream, a pattern by Christina Cameli from the Quilter's Newsletter's Best Fat Quarter Quilts 2014. I love the pattern, and will likely use it for several quilts. I like using ready made patterns for donation quilts to move the process along faster than I can work when designing myself.

So that's the plan for now. I'm linking up this week with Freemotion By the River for LInky Tuesday, with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday and with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Best Kind of Finish

I don't even have a start to show let alone a quilt finish to share this week. (There's been no quilting here the last two weeks.) But this is the best kind of finish. My grandson--Baby C (no, he's not Melman, as my granddaughter called him for most of Mommy's pregnancy) was born two weeks ago tomorrow. Thought you might like to see him on his quilt. He's definitely not camera-shy. I'm just protecting his privacy. He is adorable (my granddaughter said so, and she is right.) and such a contented baby. 

It will be awhile before I have a quilt finish to share, but it's back to quilting this week, even though I'll miss all the baby cuddling--and the Candyland playing with his big sister.

I'm linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday (I noticed that AmandaJean posted about small projects--well this is our family's small project) and with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop. 

Hope to share a work in progress next week. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday--Tropical Rainbow

No quilting going on here right now, and that's just fine with me. I'm spending my days cuddling my new grandson, playing with my granddaughter, and helping out my daughter and son-in-law. So I'm going to share another old quilt for Throwback Thursday. 

I made this one for my daughter sometime around 1990. Her room at the time had curtains with hand-drawn fabric crayon rainbows on them. Those curtains set the color theme for the quilt. The tropical fabric for the back had similar colors and was a fun complement to the front of the quilt. The name of the block escapes me, and I can't remember if I used someone else's pattern or my own idea. It was definitely made when my eyesight was much better. I can't believe I hand quilted on black fabric. 

I forgot to measure the quilt. I think the blocks are about 6 inches with 1-inch sashes and maybe 4 to 5 inch borders. It's probably a little over 40 by 48 inches overall. I pieced it on my Singer Featherweight and hand quilted it with black cotton thread, except for the black border. I used various colored threads on that. The batting is polyester. The quilt was a topper on a bedspread for several years and then was put away when we moved to a new house. Because it's had little use, it has held up well over the years. I'm not even sure we ever washed it. 

I'm linking up today with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday. 

Next week baby cuddling and games of Candyland will sadly be over, but I'll be back to work on quilting, so I'll try to be back with some initial planning for a new quilt. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday--Snowball quilts

Since it's January (and winter where I live), I thought that for Throwback Thursday Quilt Edition, you might like to see some snowball quilts I made. There's a little story to go with the first one.

In the 1980's and early 90's we lived in a little old bungalow. It hadn't been updated since the 70's, and some of the appliances had seen better days. One of those was a double oven. It looked pretty awful--some of the knobs were missing (we had to turn the stems with pliers and kind of guess at the temperature setting), and the florescent light on it was quirky. During thunderstorms and hot humid weather, it flickered. It wasn't in the budget to replace it, and it was really convenient to have two ovens, so we put up with its quirks. 

The stairway to our bedroom under the eaves started in the kitchen, right next to that oven. Our kids' bedrooms were on the first floor. And our daughter was distressed by thunderstorms, so sometimes at night she would run through the house and up the stairs to our bedroom when she was afraid. She was also afraid of that flickering light, which, as I said, flickered during thunderstorms. She was more afraid of the thunderstorms, so she was willing to run past the oven, but it freaked her out. 

So, what to do? Aha. I had the solution. I would cover the ugly, quirky oven with a quilt!! And that is how the snowball quilt came to be. 

The oven light still flickered, but when it did, it made the pretty colors of the quilt glow. My daughter still didn't like thunderstorms, but it wasn't quite so scary to run through the kitchen. And the quilt hid all the quirkiness of that oven. I hung it on a little curtain rod so I could take it down easily when I needed to bake something. We don't live in that house anymore, but the quilt is still on display, now in the entryway from our garage to our house. I made this quilt in 1986 on my featherweight sewing machine. It's cotton with polyester batting, and is hand quilted with cotton thread. It's about 23 by 38 inches.

I enjoyed making that quilt so much, that I made another one of the same pattern a few years later after we moved to a new house (I don't remember the exact date, but it was after 1995).

During the winter and spring months, it hangs at the bottom of our stairway to the second floor. It's about 24 by 28 inches.

Hmm, winter light is pretty good for taking pictures on the floor in my hallway. 

I'm linking up today with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Late Finish--or Early?

So I'm still in a holiday mode here. (Oh wait, I said that on Wednesday). But really, I had so much fun starting the FMQ on the quilt that I spent ALL DAY working on it on Wednesday, and hand stitched the binding to the back yesterday. So much for thinking that maybe slowing down to learn FMQ this year would be a good thing. And really, what else can you do but quilt when the weather outside is frightful? 
This is either a late holiday finish or an early one for next fall.

First, I finished the red and green bracts on the poinsettias. Then I did the flower pot and background. The background was the only part I did with cotton quilting thread. The rest was plain old polyester sewing thread. For the border, I decided to follow the outlines of the poinsettias. I was planning to do it carefully, but by that time I was in a finish-it-up frenzy, so I scribble quilted them (sort of following the lines but not really). Is that a quilting term or did I just make that up? I like that. Scribble quilting. Kind of like doodling. I'm a major doodler when I'm on the phone. No piece of paper nearby is safe from my pencil. I wish I could say that my doodles are Zentangle-ish, but they're not. They are fun, though, so maybe that's why I had so much fun doing this border. I just scribbled away. 


The back's a little wonky looking. You can see where I started and stopped some of the lines of stitching. I was inconsistent in how I quilted the bracts. And there's a little thread nest that I discovered when I was done with the border. But I'm fine with it. I'm happy with how the front turned out, and that's all anyone's going to see. (Well, except you, in this picture.)

So what did I learn with this one?
1. Yup, I still like paper piecing.
2. Once I get going on FMQ, it's hard to take my time. I just want to keep going and going. I probably sacrifice some accuracy, but, oh well.
3. Scribble quilting is FUN.
4. Even though I like the look of heavier quilting thread, I don't mind using thinner thread--and even regular sewing thread works on my machine.
5. I like using a chalkoner for marking lines if I need to--at least it worked well with the fabrics in this quilt, and rubbed off easily.
6. I like black fabric, but even the little bit of black in this quilt was a challenge to work with with my middle+ age eyes. From now on, I don't think l'll use a lot of black in a quilt.
7. I used Clover Wonderclips for the first time ever to hold the binding down. They are Won.Der.Ful. Why didn't I ever use them before?
9. In the winter, I can get halfway decent pictures indoors in front of my storm door--some slight shadows, but the light is good to show quilting on little quilts.
8. It's okay to work on a holiday quilt after the holidays are over, and it's okay to put it up for display then, too. It will brighten a wall until, oh, maybe Valentine's Day. 

This quilt was pieced on my Singer Featherweight and quilted on my Singer 115 treadle. The pattern is from 1994 by Eileen Bahring Sullivan. You might be able to still find it online. After squaring and binding it, the quilt measured 26 inches by just under 23. I don't plan to wash it. 

I'm linking up today with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday, with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get A Whoop Whoop, and with Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing for Free Motion Mavericks. 

Now I'm going to put my feet up and catch up on everyone else's blogs that I wasn't reading because I was in the FMQ zone.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Throwback Thursday--Hetch Hetchy

My Dad's 91st birthday was last Wednesday--the last day of 2014. We had a fun breakfast celebration with some of our family, but it wasn't as big a party as for his 90th birthday in 2013. That birthday was a biggie, although Dad would tell you that they're all biggies now. Anyway, Dad asked me when I was going to do a blog post about the little quilt I made for him for his 90th. So I'll write about that today for Throwback Thursday--Quilt Edition. 

First, a little history. In the northwest corner of Yosemite National Park is the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, formed by the O'Shaughnessy Dam, which was completed in 1923 and enlarged in the late 1930's by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. The 8-mile long reservoir supplies water to the city. 

My grandfather was a building contractor in California, and in the 1930's, he did a number of projects for the Commission. One of those projects was a lodge at the Hetch Hetchy reservoir for members of the Commission to use as a retreat center. My father, who was a young high school student at the time, would drive my grandfather (who was in fragile health) over rather treacherous mountain roads in the wilderness to the building site about 125 miles from his home. My father remembers those trips fondly as they were a special time with his father, who passed away several years later while my dad was in training in the army. 

In 2002, I had an opportunity to visit Hetch Hetchy with my dad. Once again, he drove the winding mountain roads, assuring me that they were in considerably better condition than they were in the 30's. We weren't able to get inside the lodge, but we spent some time prowling around the property and eating lunch on the patio. The reservoir is controversial because the dam flooded a beautiful valley. It has always been opposed by conservationists. And I'm sure some would question why the Commission needed a lodge there. But it is a hauntingly wild and beautiful area, and the lodge (the only cabin right on the reservoir as far as I know) overlooking the expanse of pristine water and mountain peaks is a connection to the grandfather I never knew. 

(Side note: I found some more recent pictures of the lodge online last year, and it looks like it's still in use. It's been updated with central air conditioning and tech access since I visited it with my dad. Last year a wild fire raged near Hetch Hetchy, and for a time we feared the lodge would be lost, but it survived.)

Anyway, when it came time to celebrate my dad's 90th birthday, I decided to make him a little primitive style quilt of the lodge at Hetch Hetchy to remind him of his time with his dad in the 30's and my time with my dad on a very special trip in 2002.

I don't remember the exact dimensions of the picture, and right now I can't find my original pattern, but the frame is 8 by 10 inches, so I'm guessing the main part of the picture is a little under 6 by 8 inches. I foundation and freezer paper pieced parts of it, machine appliqued some of the foreground, added straight stitch machine quilting details with my Singer Featherweight, and hand embroidered railings. By the way, that isn't snow in front of the lodge, but the brilliant stone outcropping that it was built on. I really can't imagine how that construction was done in such a precarious location. 

So there you have it: a little piece of history and a little quilt to remember it. 

I'm linking up today with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

FMQ practice

Still in holiday mode here. Actually, I'm just in the beginning stages of designing a BIG bed quilt (as in queen size, but with a very thick mattress to accommodate, so probably king size), so in the meantime, I'm finishing up a holiday quilt.

I think maybe I was going to hand quilt this when I first pieced it because it has Mountain Mist Cream Rose batting, which is my favorite for hand quilting. But I got to thinking this week that this is the perfect project to practice treadle FMQ. It's little, so easy to manipulate, and the bracts on the poinsettias provide a good place to practice sort of free form quilting. I am using a Chalkoner to mark a few lines here and there, but otherwise I'm winging it and not worrying about the pattern too much. FUN. And because this was a spur-of-the-moment decision, I'm also using regular sewing thread from the drawer. I didn't have any red or green machine quilting thread on hand. My stitches are oh-so-tiny--I think because I'm going pretty slowly--and the back's not always real neat, but it's a wall quilt and not a gift, so that doesn't matter to me. 

When this is done, I'll get back to designing that queen quilt for my son and daughter-in-law. I have a picture of a pillow that was their inspiration for it. They like it because the pattern is assymmetrical and crisp, and it has a color palette they like. So that's my assignment. 

I'm linking up today with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday, with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Be Social. 

Check back tomorrow, and I'll have a tiny Throwback Thursday quilt to share.

Friday, January 2, 2015

New finish for a New Year

One more nursery project. When my granddaughter was born three years ago, I made a little pillow for the rocking chair in her nursery. My daughter used it for back support during many night-time feedings. In recent months my granddaughter has taken it over for her personal pillow, so it's still getting a lot of use. 

The other day my daughter mentioned that she would need to get a new pillow for the rocker for baby number two. Duh. I forgot all about that. So yesterday, I whipped one up with leftover fabric from grandbaby's quilt. I made a pillow form from the fiber of an unused bed pillow, foundation quilted a top to some leftover batting, and made an envelope closing. Such fun!

Looks pretty good on my rocker, doesn't it?
It's a little finish, but it's a new finish for a new year.

Oh, and since my last post about the quilt, I used a Magic Eraser to easily remove the metal smudge marks left by the sewing machine, and I washed it. It turned out nice and crinkly. 

I'm linking up today with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday and with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop.

(Update: I forgot to add (for my own documentation) that the washed quilt now measures 46 by  52 inches, 2 inches shrinkage in each direction from before washing.)