Wednesday, October 28, 2015

He's here!

Our new grandson has arrived! He was born yesterday afternoon. He's 20 3/4 inches long, weighs 7 pounds 12 ounces (same as his daddy did) and is cute, cute, cute. What I can't tell you is his name. I wouldn't anyway to protect his privacy, but he doesn't have a name yet. His parents are waiting to get to know him a bit before they pin one on him. We've been spending lots of time holding and admiring him. We are over the moon!

So now I can finally show you what I made for him. Get ready for a long post. I have a pent up need to share after keeping this a secret for so long. (And no, I did not write this all today. I actually pre-planned a post. Hurray for me.)

My inspiration came from Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl. Yup, I shamelessly copied. She made this quilt for a baby awhile back. I was really struck by the crisp color and design. The pattern is Diamonds in the Deep by Kirsty at Bonjour Quilts). There was more inspiration for the back, but I'll get to that in a minute.

I added a block to the width of the baby size to make the quilt square. My fabrics are Kona cottons in Prussian, White, Lagoon and Breakers. The dark blue matches the carpet in Baby's room. At the time I started the quilt I wasn't quite sure what color the room was going to be, but my daughter-in-law thought it would be a bluish green. (She had paint left over from another project.) It turned out that the paint color had a bit more yellow in it, so I included that in the quilt backing. I found a stripe on sale (I'm sorry, I can't remember what it is and can't find any printed selvage. I must have thrown it out--please don't tell any selvage savers. I also did an online image search, but the fabric didn't show up.) I also added in some greens from my stash. 

Speaking of the back, I got all caught up in everyone's Dog Gone Cute Quilt Along mania from Lorna at Sew Fresh QuiltsSince Baby will have a buddy, Samson, I just knew I had to include Samson in the quilt. So he got his own block on the back. 

Did I mention I put a Dog Gone Cute block on the back?

Even closer!!
I used Lorna's pattern, but I wanted it to look a little more like Samson, who has a longish snout. So I did kind of a mash up of several blocks to get the ears and head style I wanted, added a little to the length of the block, and changed the nose just a bit. (His nose wrinkled a bit after washing, but that's okay. He's a crazy dog.) I think it's still unmistakably Lorna's pattern, though. It was so fun to make. There is also a cat, Harvey, in the family, but he doesn't much care for Samson. In fact, he's downright mean to him, so I left him out. (Sorry Harvey. If you make nice, maybe you'll get to be on the next quilt.)

More pictures, because I can't stop sharing:

Wrinkly goodness

As close to a label as I get these days
Here are some other details. The quilt was about 52 by 52 inches before washing and 49 by 49 after washing. The batting is Warm and Natural, which I had on hand. The quilting thread is Superior King Tut in Mint Julep. I bound the quilt in Kona cotton Prussian using this technique. I still prefer hand stitching to the back, but this quilt will get washed a lot, so machine stitching it was. I used the Mint Julep thread to sew it because I thought that fit in well with the quilting in the body. (Never mind that I didn't have any thread to match the dark blue.) I pieced the quilt on my Singer Featherweight and quilted it on my Singer 115 treadle. It's is a little stiffer than I'd like, but I know it will wear well and get softer with use and more washings. 

Whenever I make a quilt, I like to note how things went and what I might do differently in the future. So here are my notes on this quilt:

--I did have a minor crisis while quilting--you can read about it and how I solved my problem here). Here's a close up of the area  (See that narrower stripe to the left of the horizontal stripes?: 

It turned out okay, but I certainly learned to double check my pin basting and to pay attention to what's going on on the back as I go. Also, I might think twice about using a strong stripe in a backing because any distortion really shows. 

--I don't often follow patterns from other quilt makers to make quilts that have blocks in them (I usually draft my own patterns from looking at a picture of a block), so this was an interesting experience for me. The instructions said to make the blocks with a scant quarter inch seam and then trim to the correct size after the blocks were finished. That made me nervous because I wasn't sure if my scant was the same scant the designer had in mind. My first set of blocks were barely the right size, and then I had to trim quite a bit from the remaining blocks. Maybe I overcompensated? If I make this pattern again, I'll probably figure out what the dimensions of each round should be on each block so I have a better idea of how I'm doing as I sew them. (Perfectionist tendency showing, you think?)  

--I need to work a bit on my squaring up when the quilting is done. Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl, put up these tips the day after I squared my quilt, and those will help next time.

--Working with a strong blue and white was a little scary. But I had no trouble with bleeding or crocking when I washed and dried the quilt. This makes me really confident about using Kona colors. 

--Meandering is still my favorite FMQ for getting a quilt quilted quickly! And baby or throw size quilts (or smaller) are definitely a good fit for me. I've been bogged down on working on a large quilt for awhile now. I just don't like spending time isolated at my machine for hours (and days) on end. Either I need to move my treadle (not going to happen) or keep working smaller so I can get a quilt finished with just a few little sessions. 

I haven't had a chance to get a picture of Baby on his quilt yet. (They keep babies really busy in the hospital what with needle pokes, hearing tests and the like.) But soon I'll try to get one that respects his privacy. 

I'm linking up this week with Sew Fresh Quilts (Let's Bee Social), Crazy Mom Quilts (Finish It Up Friday), Confessions of a Fabric Addict (Can I Get a Whoop Whoop), Faith and Fabric Design (TGIFF) and Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing (Free Motion Mavericks). Buttons are on the right. Also, finally putting that Dog Gone Cute button up because I can without anyone wondering why.
Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, October 26, 2015

Nesting Gramma Style

Nope, that grandbaby is not here yet. And now I can say it's officially overdue. Well, by one day, anyway. 

So here's how I've been passing the time waiting. I was going to make some bibs but just wasn't that into it. Then I came across this post by Andrea at Mouse in my Pocket. I dug around in my scraps and came up with ribbon and fabric to make my own little taggie blankie. What fun! (Thanks for the idea, Andrea!!)

A lot of the fabric is from quilts I made for this little baby's cousins. The solid blue and vehicle fabrics (Daddy's an automotive engineer, so yeah) are flannel, and the tags are ribbons left over from decorating for Mommy and Daddy's wedding rehearsal party. I cut fabrics 2 and 3 inches wide and variable lengths to make the strips. The whole thing (without the tags) measures about 10 1/2 by 12 inches. 

Here's the back (fleece leftover from a sleeper I made for L's doll):

I did some minimal quilting to hold it all together. 

While I was rooting around in the fabric bins, I came across just enough flannel left over from C's bibs that I made in December to make a couple more. So I got into bib making after all. 

Mommy and Daddy both went to MSU, and Mommy likes animals.

Minimal quilting as seen from the back.
Okay, I'm done. I'll link this up with Cynthia at Quilting is more Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap!  (Whoa, two scrap projects in a week. I may need to post her button.) If I'm not otherwise occupied later this week, I'll link up with some other parties. Buttons are on the side.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Scrappily Restless

We're waiting restlessly this week for our grandchild's birth. I've done a little FMQ on the Big Quilt, but not much else. Then I remembered that my favorite quilt gathering organization (Margaret's Hope Chest) has a project going this month that's just right for me to work on. They are collecting long scrappy strips to make into some special quilts to give away. I have a batch of charm squares I received last year in a giveway from Susan Emory at Swirly Girls Design. (Thanks again, Susan!)  I had set them aside for a donation quilt, but wasn't sure what to make. This project is perfect for them along with other scraps I have stashed in baskets in my closet. 

The instructions for the scraps are to cut them 1 1/2 inches wide and of variable lengths of 4 inches or less and to sew them into one long strip. They will be sewn into strip-pieced 15-inch square blocks, which will be set on-point in the quilt(s). 

This would have been a snap if I was an organized scrap keeper with a neatly cut scrap stash. No matter. I happily kept busy yesterday evening cutting my charm squares and odd pieces. Today I'll sew them up and send them on their way. Or maybe make more. It's a good way to pass the time while waiting...

I'm linking up this week with Freshly Pieced and Sew Fresh Quilts. Buttons are on the right. 
Also, Cynthia's Oh Scrap Linky Party on Quilting is More Fun than Housework.

Have a fun week quilting with your scraps or whatever!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mug Rug Hugs

I was going to call this post restless, because that's what I am this week. I've tried working on other projects but just can't settle down. So last night I pulled out some scraps and fat quarters and started two little projects to try to focus a bit. 

I have a friend who has had kind of a  no, a really rough summer, and I decided she needed a little something just for her, so she could take time to relax a bit. Then I heard from another friend who also has some rough stuff going on. 

What to do? I decided to make them each a mug rug. My inspiration was the neat one Amanda showed last week.

My goal was to make something bright with some yellow, orange and turquoise fabrics I had on hand. Typically, I'd use white, black or gray with these, but I really wanted to use brown. I thought it would make the colors look festive. I went with a Kona cotton--Espresso to be specific. Sounds right for a mug rug, doesn't it? I was going to bind them with a yellow print, but it detracted too much from the other prints. I didn't have enough of the dark brown for binding, so I skipped it. If I did this again, I'd either use a lighter weight batting scrap, stop the batting short of the seam where I sewed the front and back together, or actually bind it, but it worked out okay. They lie flat, and that's what matters. I did the quilting with my walking foot and regular sewing thread. 

Crazy how light shows every wrinkle!!

Here are the backs:

I'll pop them in the mail tomorrow. Two mug rug hugs.

Imagine that! I actually have a Friday Finish!! Maybe tomorrow I can settle down to my other projects.

I'm linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict  and The Carpenter's Daughter Who Quilts (TGIFF). It's been a long time since I could say that!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A New Project

Yippee!! I have a finish. But I can't show you quite yet. Soon, though. Grandbaby's due anytime in the next week or so. 

I also finished hand quilting the leaves on the Fall Maple Quilt and started working on the background. 

I was going to do the background in a tight little stipple by machine. But I've enjoyed the hand quilting so much in the evenings that I'm going to do it by hand instead. I'm not in a hurry to have it done (I have another fall quilt already hanging up that I finished about a year ago), and I've decided that I'd like to always have something available to work on by hand, at home or away. This is a good project for that. 

If you look at where the yellow and orange come together, you can see a tiny bit of quilting in the blue triangle below them. I started that last night. It was kind of a slow process because I couldn't see where I was going. I kept turning the quilt over to check it on the back. And then I had an inspiration. I can quilt the background from the back side! Because the leaves are all finished, I can see exactly where I need to go. Genius, right? I can save my eyesight and get the texture I want on the front.

See those squiggles? Now I'm so glad I used the pale gray on the back. 

Tomorrow I'll get out the Big Quilt to work on again. But today I got started on a new project. And I got out the fabrics I needed before I blocked my fabric drawers. (Remember what happened here?) My daughter has asked me to make her a new quilt for her office. She loves Lake Michigan, so it was an easy decision to make a landscape quilt. I made a tiny one as a Christmas ornament for her family last year.

I usually make these quilts (based on Accidental Landscapes by Karen Eckmeier) quite small, but I'm going to try one approximately 30 inches tall. Today I threw some fabric up on the wall to audition.

There will be lots of rearranging and viewing in grayscale before I start cutting and pinning the layered curves. And I'm sure there will be some embroidery, too. The rulers are there to help me visualize straight edges. I'm considering some foliage-looking fabrics as sort of side borders to give the scene some depth. I'll have to figure out how to do that.

And now I'll leave you with a picture of my granddaughter coloring. (The grandkiddies were here with their parents over the weekend.) I don't usually put photos of the grands on my blog, but I thought this was so cute, and it protects her privacy. She found this old straw hat on my treadle and thought it made the perfect accessory. As she colored, she explained color mixing. Did you know that red and blue make purple? Hmmm, maybe someday she'll want to mix some fabric colors.

I'm linking up this week with Freemotion by the River, Freshly Pieced, Sew Fresh Quilts and My Quilt Infatuation for their linky parties. Buttons are on the right.

Have a good week. And have fun with your take-along projects. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Follow my blog with Bloglovin These weeks fly by so fast, I can't believe it's Wednesday already and I've been home a week since vacation. I have only a little project I can show you. When I got back from "up north" I remembered that I needed to fulfill a little promise to make some heart blocks for quilters in California that lost their homes to wildfires. I had read about the project in a post by Bernie at Needle and Foot. Pastel heart blocks are being collected by Kerrie's Quilting to make into quilts for the displaced quilters. Here are what I came up with (please pardon the wrinkles. I forgot to press them after signing):

I used graph paper to cut a six-inch heart pattern. I don't have a zigzag function on my sewing machines. I was going to hand stitch the hearts but didn't trust my sewing to make them both neat and secure, so I pressed them around a freezer paper template and then removed the paper and straight stitched them down. I signed them with FMQ on my treadle machine using pastel thread that was already in it. That was my favorite part of the project. I love doing handwriting in FMQ because I like stitching tiny designs in FMQ, and handwriting is such a natural feeling motion. Also, my FMQ handwriting is a lot like my cursive writing from my middle and high school years--so much neater than my college and present day writing. Back then, I guess I concentrated more on presentation than message. 

Anyway, these were fun to make. I did find, though, that I don't have a lot of pastel fabric in my stash (at least in large enough pieces for a 10-inch block). I might need to change that. I think tomorrow is the deadline for mailing blocks for the project so you still have time today to make one (or more), especially if you can zigzag the hearts. Just head over to Bernie's blog for the information and mailing address. I hope they will bring a spot of cheer to some quilters who probably feel quite overwhelmed right now. 

In other WIP news, I finished quilting my grandbaby's quilt this week. It was not without a crisis, however. After I finished quilting the third quadrant, I turned the quilt over to admire my work...and there was a big wonky pleat where two quadrants came together. WHAT??? I have never had that happen before. I've always prided myself (therein lies the problem--you know what they say about pride) in having nice tight basting and have never had a problem with the backing shifting. But it happened. If the fabric had been a busy all-over pattern, I might have let it go, but it's a stripe and the pleat wobbled back and forth because it happened as I was making a turn at the end of each row, so of course the stripe wobbled, too.

(Side note: I like to take those little personality tests online. The ones that determine whether or not I have OCD tendencies make me laugh because they always say that I am almost too laid back. It's just that seeing a picture of one piece of candy in the wrong container of a set of carefully sorted candy colors feeds my artistic whimsy. Ah, but when it comes to sewing, well that's a different story. Points have to match and seams line up, etc.) 

At first I thought I would have to unstitch the whole quadrant. But I came to my senses, and painstakingly unpicked all the stitches just over the wobble. Then I carefully folded a neat little pleat down the side of one stripe and hand stitched it down with tiny stitches (ironic, since I didn't trust myself to applique those hearts, above). I could tell that the fourth quadrant had the potential for the same problem, so I took a seam in a little deeper in the backing before rebasting (to the nth degree) the last part of the quilt. I requilted, matching up all the ends of the parts where I had removed stitches, and then I finished the quilt. AND IT WORKED!! Yippee!. You can still see where a stripe is narrower than it should be. I will have to talk myself into believing that it is a bit of artistic whimsy to keep the OCD part of me calm, but at least the wonkiness is straight instead of all over the place. After the baby comes (won't be long now), I'll have pictures up and you'll be able to see how it turned out. I have no pictures of the fixing--I was too freaked out to grab the camera. 

Now it's time to make some baby quilt binding. 

Have a great week, and remember, you still have time to make a heart block if you'd like. 

This week, I'm linking up with Freemotion by the River, Freshly Pieced, Sew Fresh Quilts and My Quilt Infatuation for their linky parties. The buttons are on the right. 

 And this week, thanks to the gentle encouragement of some fellow bloggers, I'm finally figuring out how to use Bloglovin'. (I had no idea how many blogs I had bookmarked. This will be much more efficient. Who knew? Obviously, everyone but me!) 


Thursday, October 1, 2015

My First Hand Quilted Quilt

Well, this was going to be a quick post. But it ended up taking a LOT of research to figure out just when I made my first hand quilted quilt. I started a diary in 1980 (the year I was pregnant with my daughter), and I kept it up fairly well until about mid-1984, when my son was about a year old. I'm glad I did because those were definitely years of pregnancy brain, new mama brain, and mother of toddler and preschooler brain, and if I didn't have those diaries, I would have only a fuzzy memory of my life at that time. Actually, I should have kept up a diary longer because I have since discovered that there is also working mother brain, mother of teenagers brain, pre-menopausal brain, menopausal brain, and now retiree brain. Did I leave any out? Or maybe it's just me?

Anyway, I knew that this was my first hand quilted quilt, but I had no recollection of just when I made it (my quilt labeling has been sporadic at best), so today I got lost in a previous life, reading through those old diaries. It turns out that in the early 1980s, I was heavily into counted cross stitch, and although I was making baby quilts, there wasn't as much quilting going on as I thought. Maybe it was because I could pick up the little cross stitch projects and work on them here and there instead of hauling out my sewing stuff. But after diligent reading (and finding out that I sure vented a lot about lack of sleep) I found the start date for this quilt: November 6, 1981. I started the quilting on November 19 and ended on January 25, 1982, adding tabs for hanging on January 27. I do remember that I wanted to do a simple design so that I could really concentrate on practicing the quilting.  

The quilt is about 30 inches square. I used stencils for the quilted feather circle, irises and cable in the inner border. I used either a chalk pencil or a white lead pencil to mark the quilt lines, and in some light they still show up on the rust colored fabric. According to my notes in my diary, I used a leather thimble. Haven't used one of those in years! The batting is polyester and the quilting thread is cotton, off-white in the muslin areas and rust colored on the green and rust fabrics. The binding is the backing turned over to the front. I did my first miters on this quilt, and I'm pretty proud of how they turned out. I must have been in a hurry when I made the hanging tabs because they are sewn with white thread. 

This quilt was the perfect size and design to practice hand quilting. I used a 14 1/2 inch hoop that I still use today. The hardware on it has worn out but I hold it together with rubber bands. I've tried other hoops since then, but they don't have the wonderful patina that it has from years of holding it in my hands. I learned to hand quilt from a book called Fine Hand Quilting by Diana Leone. (I still have it.) At some point, I also took a one-day workshop with Pepper Cory where I learned to quilt with found objects for making designs, but I don't remember when that was. 

I must have really caught the quilting bug that January long ago, because the day after I finished my first quilt, I started quilting a large double wedding ring top that a relative of my sister-in-law had made from a kit. Wow! Ignorance about what quilting the size of that project would be like was probably a good thing. That same week I started making a Block-of-the Month quilt project from a 1982 calendar. How to I know? My wonderful brain diary told me so. 

And you know what else? I still have this quilt hanging in my upstairs hallway each fall. The green has faded a bit (but evenly) over time, but I still like it--if only as a reminder how long I have loved quilting. 

I'm linking up with Jenn at A Quarter Inch from the Edge for Throwback Thursday. The button is to the right. I hope you're having fun going down Memory Lane with your quilting this week, too.