Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Making Do

I'm in Week One of my multi-quilting experiment.  So far so good. But. There was a little unanticipated problem. Last year, I decided to move most of my fabric from plastic boxes on closet shelves to the six drawers of a low dresser in our guest room. Then when I wanted to make a quilt, I could just open the drawers, see everything at once and pull out what I wanted as I planned or pieced. Well, this week I was planning to start a fall maple leaf quilt. I have a basket of fabric that I had set aside over the last couple of years, and I planned to supplement those fabrics with others from my stash. 

And then it dawned on me. I couldn't get at my stash. 

I have a wonderful set-up for quilting. I move my treadle in front of the dresser, and the whole top of the dresser and a card table do a great job of supporting the quilt. Right now it's all set up for one of my other multi-quilting projects: The Big Quilt. But see those drawers behind the treadle and card table? Oops! 

The treadle is heavy, and I didn't really feel like moving it and the table to get to the drawers. Also, the leaf quilt will take a little while to make, and I would have to remove the drawers from the dresser to be able to get at the fabric whenever I need to. That would make more mess than I want (and already have). So, I have challenged myself to make do with what fabric is available, at least for the interior of the quilt. Besides the fabric in the basket, there are a few pieces that might be big enough in some scrap bins in the closet. Actually, this challenge is kind of fun. And having a limited number of fabrics to work with is even a little easier than having access to many fabrics and more decisions to make. I might have gone with more modern fabrics, but now I'm glad my range was limited because these batik, mottled and tone-on-tone patterns really make me think of fall. Here's what I have done--and I've only repeated one fabric with my limited choices. The first step is laying out the whole quilt. The sewing comes later.

This quilt is a Ruth B. McDowell pattern from her book Piecing Workshop. Although I enjoy and make more baby quilts, and throws or bedspreads, my real passion is for pieced and quilted pictures of nature or buildings. I love the challenge of finding just the right bit of fabric to interpret a scene. And using Ruth's patterns is a good way to practice the freezer paper technique and keep my piecing skills sharp. Next up on this quilt are the blue fabrics for the background. At some point, I may need to get into the drawers (or go shopping, but I think not) because I'm not sure I have fabrics handy that will frame the picture the way I'd like. I'm thinking that when the quilt top is finished, I'll hand quilt the leaves (and maybe the border) and do a tight little free motion meandering in the background. 

So that's one part of my multi-quilting. I've also made good progress on the Big Quilt. A couple of observations about that: first, I'm not a real fan of using a lighter weight thread in my bobbin. I shred it sometimes when I pull it up to the top. (Maybe I shouldn't use my seam ripper for that!) But I don't have to rewind bobbins as much and I'll keep using it on this quilt now that I started with it. Second, I notice that my quilting style with free motion varies a lot when I only do a little each day. On some days my quilting is more relaxed and widely spaced, and on others it's more dense and "tight" even though I don't really feel any different. I'm hoping that the two styles distribute evenly across the quilt so the difference isn't too noticeable. 

Finally, my baby quilt project that I can't share is going really well. I have most of it cut out and about 1/3 of it pieced. In fact, it's a little hard to tear myself away from it to work on the other two projects. 

I would rate the week as a success. I've enjoyed going from one type of project to another, and now I remember why I used to regularly have three projects going--cutting, piecing and quilting (It used to be hand quilting, though). A good combination. (I've even figured out how to keep the messes separate.) But if I want to continue multi-quilting, I will need to rethink the fabric storage vs. treadle "problem." Hmmm...

Here's one flower picture for you this week. We have a volunteer snapdragon in the coleus garden. Don't know where that came from, but it's cute.

I'm linking up this week with Freemotion by the River, Freshly Pieced, Sew Fresh Quilts and My Quilt Infatuation. Buttons are on the right. Go see what else is there, and keep quilting.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Multi-Quilting. Me?

Here's my quilting this week. I have a nice little chunk of the central block done on the Big Quilt. I can't believe I picked the hottest week of the summer to start this, but it hasn't been too bad. I have good support for the quilt and haven't had to pile it on my lap at all. My treadle is handling the size really well.

Hard to get a clear picture of the quilting without a flash washing it out
I'm waiting for a fabric order to arrive today so I can start my grandbaby's quilt. I've decided that I'm not going to show my work in progress on that one on the blog until after baby's arrival in October. That's going to be hard, but I don't want the recipients to inadvertently see it before baby is born. (Or some relatives who don't know the gender yet.) Sigh. I will need to find something else to write about, because I can't just keep posting a picture of the Big Quilt every week. 

I do have some new material that I might do something with. I recently won a gift certificate to Shabby Fabrics through Freshly Pieced (Yippee!), and these half-yard cuts are what I bought with it.

On an old school desk--appropriate for this time of year, right?
I'm also thinking of making a fall maple leaf quilt. I started buying fabric for it nearly two years ago and added more last fall, so it's time to begin! Maybe I can work on that one day a week and share that progress.

And there are lots of other fabrics in my stash to supplement

And then there are some pillows that want to be made...

Multi-quilting. That's so not me. We'll see how it goes.

Meanwhile, here are some garden pictures. Things are starting to wind down, and as usual, I'm in danger of losing interest. But there are still some new blooms to keep me going. 

Giant Lobelia is a new plant this year

The turtlehead is just starting to bloom.

I do love the vivid colors of the coleus plants. This picture is from a few weeks ago, and they are bigger now. Looks like a palette for a marsala quilt, yes?

I'm linking up with Freshly Pieced and with Sew Fresh Quilts for their linky parties. Buttons are on the right. 

I hope you're having a fun week, multi-quilting or not.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


I took a little vacation from the blog this past week. Well, lets just face it. I was distracted. It all started with this chair.

My mother-in-law sent it home with us last time we were there because she said it was just in her way. Her father bought it and a few others from a sale or auction of furniture from the 1933 Chicago World's Fair after the fair ended. He had used the chairs in his grocery store for customers to sit in while waiting for their orders to be filled (this was pre-supermarket, although he did modernize the grocery store later). I wish I knew who designed it. It looks a lot like a Rohde chair. It has probably lost a lot of value because it has been reupholstered, but it looks the way it did originally. 

Honestly, we weren't sure we wanted the chair. Our home is decidedly traditional, with overstuffed furniture and items we've collected at used furniture/antique stores. I joke that it's become vintage just through our aging and not changing things much. But once the chair was in the house, we started looking at what we had in a new way and suddenly had the urge to lighten up and minimalize a bit. And so started the game of musical chairs (without the music). Out went the big couch from the family room, an accent chair from our bedroom, and a recliner from our son's old room. (They're all in the garage waiting for a thrift store to pick them up). We sent a wooden rocker and an accent chair from the living room to replace the two chairs in the bedrooms. After lots of furniture shopping, we came across two chairs at a kind of unusual little store that sells hotel liquidation and estate furniture.

This chair and its partner were hotel chairs but never used. They had been stripped and had new cushions and were just waiting for stain or paint. My husband finished them this week and now they look like this:

While we were at that store, I spied two cute little estate sale chairs from sometime in the mid-century. I couldn't get them out of my head, so the next day we went back and got them. 

My husband's in the process of cleaning them up, but they're in pretty good shape.

So now these chairs all live in our living and family rooms. We're still looking for two smaller chairs to replace some big overstuffed chairs that we use for TV watching, but we haven't found what we're looking for yet. I do love the new little chairs, though, with their clean, simple lines. I was going to change the cushions, but they're in good shape, so I think we'll keep them they way they are for now.

So why am I showing all of this? Well, partly to show that one thing leads to another. After we got the chairs, I looked at the living room curtains and decided they needed to be changed. During the weekend, I made some valances out of curtain panels I found at a discount home store. After I put them up, I decided that they were a bit too long to suit me, so I folded the bottoms up all the way to the curtain rod and stitched them down, turning the valances into cornices. And again, I like the simplicity.

And those chairs? They are begging for new, modern pillows in case anyone needs a backrest. I found some vintage-y looking fabric that I might use:

Or this might be inspiration for a modern quilt! I'm sure something related will pop up on this blog someday. The plan is already forming.

So there you have it. We lightened up. What's our style now? Is it modern? Or vintage? Both? Whatever it is, it will definitely prompt more sewing projects. And it definitely distracted me from quilting, which is the other reason I showed our furniture adventures.

But there's more! The Big Quilt is now basted! When I wasn't furniture browsing, I worked on it for much of last week--the most time I've ever spent in my basement. Having all the space to tape the backing to the floor really made it easy to get a nice smooth sandwich, but it truly is a boring environment, and I can't say it was all that fun crawling around on the floor. It took some time to get everything done. The backing is all one fabric. (That's not my style lately) I did take time to match the pattern so that the seams aren't as noticeable. And then when I Iaid out the batting, I discovered that I had been sold queen size instead of king size width, so I had to go back to get more, which meant having to piece the batting, too. Oh well, now I know why that first piece of batting seemed like such a bargain! 

I started quilting today. First I made a little plan using a photo of the central block and some Quilter's Preview Paper (I won it in a giveway last year, and it's coming in handy). I'm using four motifs because I've heard that if I use four, I should be able to mix them without having the same motif next to itself. We'll see how that goes. Today I noticed that I inadvertently drew the same one on two adjoining patches, so I will have to depart from the plan just a bit. 

I also made a little thread sample so I could decide which thread I wanted to use on each fabric. I just laid swatches on batting and backing and doodled. It will be a good reference while I quilt. 

The darker thread is at the top of each swatch and the lighter at the bottom. I'm still a little uncertain about the variegated darker thread on the darkest fabrics, but I'm going to go with it anyway. I don't think it's worth waiting for another order to use a darker solid thread. 

Today, I did straight straight-ish lines with the walking foot, a hera marker and the lighter thread (I'll have to make the wavy lines really wavy so you'll be able to see the difference), and then I doodled some flowers with the free motion foot and the darker thread. I have good support under the quilt so it went pretty well, and I'm happy to know that I can fit it all in the harp space of my treadle.

I'm going to take my time with the quilting and focus on just one patch at a time. And I'm going to make sure I have another project to work on so I can alternate between piecing and quilting. I'm looking forward to it. 

Have a good week everyone, and watch out for those distractions. You never know where they might lead. 

I'm linking up this week with Freemotion by the River, Freshly Pieced, Sew Fresh Quilts and My Quilt Infatuation. Check out their buttons on the right.