Friday, February 27, 2015

Fun Friday Finish

I love when I have a finish to share, and this quilt was just so much fun! I know I will make another one (or more). I don't usually say that. I rarely repeat a pattern. If you've been following along with this project, you'll know that I had some indecision about how to finish the edges. I ended up cutting off the triangle sides on this one, but I'm thinking that next time, I'll adjust the length and width a bit and leave them on for a jagged edge. Maybe.

We ventured out into the cold yesterday to try some photos. The camera did not like it and balked a bit, but we got 'em. 

The pattern is Gently Down the Stream by Christina Cameli from Quilter's Newsletter Fat Quarter Quilts Fall 2014

The quilt is straight--fence goes downhill
I pieced the quilt on my Singer Featherweight and quilted it on my Singer 115 treadle. It's cotton with Quilter's Dream Select white cotton batting, and Superior King Tut cotton quilting thread in Papyrus. 

I'm keeping track of the changes in size of my quilts to help me figure out sizes of future quilts when it matters. The quilt top finished at 41.5 by 48.5 inches. After quilting, it was 40.5 by 47.5, and after washing (cold water and low dryer), it was 38.25 by 44. 75, shrinking 8% in both length and width or 15% in area overall. 

Here are some more pictures. (We're still learning about staging outside.)

And some inside shots after washing and blocking:

And one more outside:
Blame the snowman for the cold, snowy weather. It all started right after I put him outside.
If you are new to this blog, you can read other posts about this quilt hereherehere, and here.

Soon this quilt will be on its way to Margaret's Hope Chest for their Mother's Hope program, which helps mothers working through postpartum depression. 

I'm linking up today with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and with  Persimon Dreams for TGIFF.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday Quilt Edition: A Bit of Summer

Today I was going through some old photos to see what I might show for Throwback Thursday, and I came across one of a quilt lying on the grass. Since we haven't seen our grass in quite some time, I knew that was the picture I wanted to show. A bit of summer in this cold, cold winter. 

My daughter graduated from college in 2003 and moved into an apartment that was just her own, not shared with roommates. It was a tiny studio, so the cute metal daybed she bought would be quite visible to anyone visiting. It was time to make a quilt. She had seen a postage stamp quilt online that was described as "vintage" by the big retailer that was advertising it. She liked how it looked, but we both knew a store-bought quilt would be inferior to handmade. 

I printed out some graph paper and started coloring it with pencils in the soft sherbet-y shades J was imagining. Amazingly I still have those plans. This was the first one, a Trip Around the World setting. 

You can see that it is square, but we obviously wanted a rectangular quilt (says 60 by 90 on the plan). This one would have been much easier than what we settled on--just nine patches, but our final plan was this:

Still nine-patches, but with sashes to make sort of interlocking blocks of one-color nine patches. Oh yipes! I had no idea at the time how complicated that would be to sew together. You can see lots of random numbers on this plan that must have meant something to me at one time. It looks like the final measurement for the quilt was 64.5 by 94.5 inches, which means that each square was 1.5 inches. I numbered the columns and lettered the rows, so I think I must have used labeled plastic zip close bags to keep all the colors straight while I sewed. Aside from all the numbers, there's one other little mystery note near the bottom of the plan in my daughter's writing: "wacky wall walkers!" I wonder what that meant. If I remember correctly, those were cereal box toys. No idea why that's on there. Anyway, this gives you an idea of how I plan quilts. Lots of notes to organize my thinking while I'm working, but nothing much that would really help replicate this quilt in the future. Oh well. 

So, finally, here's how the quilt came out:
Doesn't it look pretty and summery on that green grass?
The background fabric (and binding) is a variety of tone-on-tone off-whites and the back is muslin. The batting is a light polyester, and the quilt is tied with perle cotton. (You can see the pattern of ties in the little diagonal marks on the plan.) And thanks to the computer print-out of graph paper, I can tell you that I started the quilt on June 29, 2003. and I'm sure it was finished by the time I went back to work in the fall. 

I'm happy to say that one marriage and two moves later, the quilt is still in use. In fact, I've slept under it at my daughter and son-in-law's house. It was a lot of work, but I still love it. 

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

See you tomorrow with a finish!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How My Bathrooms Got Cleaned

I've sort of set aside my major ongoing project for a bit. My designing just wasn't going where I wanted it to, and so I'm back to the consultation phase with my daughter-in-law. That means that I'm also back to the little quilt I started a few weeks ago, and it's almost a finish. 

When I work on a FMQ project, I tend to get obsessed with getting it done. My shoulders tense, my hips get stiff from treadling without breaks, and (with my less-than-stellar eyesight) my vision gets blurry from too much staring at one spot and not enough blinking. I also get sloppy because I try to go too fast (not that my stitches are so even anyway). So I decided that this time around I had to do something about that. I would take breaks after every section of quilting. 

And that's how my bathrooms got cleaned. 

I like a reasonably clean house, but I don't like the reasonable amount of cleaning that's needed to keep it that way. It just seems a waste of time to clean something that is just going to get messy and dirty in a few minutes again. Especially when I'm sewing, which is pretty much all the time. I feel the same way about cooking. Why spend hours making something that will get eaten in less than ten minutes? I'd rather make a quilt that I can give to someone and have it last than make a big meal that just gets consumed. When I said that to my husband, who does a LOT of the cooking around here--or we might go without food--he was not amused. Oops. Digression. Anyway, throughout my adult life, I've had to make lists and schedules to get myself to do mundane household chores. I even joined Flylady, an online support community, to try to get into some good habits. (The only habit that has really stuck is making my bed every day; I do like getting into a made-up bed at night. And think about it. If you are a quilter and have a quilt on your bed, isn't it nice to have it all smooth and pretty during the day?) 

So today, after each section of quilting, I did a little bathroom chore--cleaning mirrors, counters, toilets, and before I knew it, the quilting and the bathrooms were done, I still had my vision and I wasn't stiff. Woo hoo! The rest of the house is kind of a disaster, but I guess that just means I need to find something else to quilt. 

So here's what I've got:

The sashes are quilted as suggested in the pattern I used (Gently Down the Stream by Christina Cameli). I'm going to call them organic wavy lines, because that sounds a whole lot more sophisticated than saying that they are a bit unintentionally wobbly. They were fun to do, and by stuffing the whole quilt under the harp area of my machine and quilting my way out, I was able to keep quilting across the whole length of the quilt without stopping. The pattern also suggested a stylized floral design in the printed fabrics, and I tried a free-form version but I wasn't happy with my effort, and the designs didn't really show that much on the front or the back so I ended up just meandering. I like the contrast between the squishy meandered quilting and the tighter quilting on the sashes. 

Next up is the binding--that strip you see there. I can get that machine sewn yet today, and then I'll hand stitch it to the back tonight while watching TV.

I'm linking up today with Freemotion by the RiverFreshly Pieced,  and Sew Fresh Quilts.
Check back tomorrow for a Throwback Thursday quilt. And I think on Friday, I'll have a finish to show. Yippee!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday--Wedding Gift

Continuing my Thursday habit of showing a quilt I made pre-blogging, here is one I made in the spring of 2003 as a wedding present for my nephew and his wife. 

I remember much more about the beautiful wedding and our adventures getting there and back home again than I do about the quilt. The wedding was in April at the top of a mountain in eastern Pennsylvania on a chilly, fogged-in day. (It's a good thing it wasn't an outdoor affair.) And by the end of the weekend, a huge snow storm was predicted for back home in the Midwest. Rather than taking our time (it was the beginning of my spring break from work), we drove straight home late into the night, getting there just before the storm hit. (Forgive me. I digress. Snow on the brain lately.)

Anyway, back to the quilt. I can't find any notes about it in my files (ahem, random folders), and I don't remember whether I found the pattern somewhere or designed it myself. I'm guessing that it's about 30 inches squarish give or take a couple of inches. I pieced it on my Singer featherweight and quilted it by hand with my own signature (at the time) vine design. The batting is polyester. I chose the colors to complement a taupe decorating scheme. They're somewhat richer than in the picture, which looks like it was taken on a cold, dark day. Must have been some spring, huh? .

My nephew and his wife now have four cute little kiddies, all of whom have quilts I've shown in previous Throwback Thursday blog posts. 

I'm linking up today with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday. Have a good weekend, and if you live in my part of the world, stay warm. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Quilter's Block

I'm sort of stuck this week trying to figure out a quilt design. I've spent a lot of time but really don't have anything to show for it. Well, at least anything I want to show. I'm going to blame my lack of creativity on the weather. I think I have permanent brain freeze. 

I have spent a lot of time on the computer, and I even figured out how to get hex codes for my Kona cottons and some other solid fabrics I'm planning to use. I tried to find a list of codes for lines of fabric online, but I couldn't. Instead, I uploaded screen shots of fabric swatches to Palette Builder by playcrafts, and got the hex codes from them. I had read a lot about Palette Builder from other bloggers this past week, so I also admit to spending a little copious amounts of time just fooling around with palettes and my own photos. Thanks to everyone that blogged about it. I think. (What else is there to do for entertainment when the temperatures hover in the single digits Fahrenheit ?) That website is awesome, though. The reason I was looking for hex codes was because I was coloring in design ideas on my computer's Paint program. I've had some good advice this week from other bloggers about programs to use to plan and color my designs more efficiently, but since I'm generally really low-tech and frugal (cheap), I'm determined to use what I have for the time being, and that is Paint. And the hex codes really helped me use the custom colors I wanted in my design. 

Alas, I didn't like my design. I'm still messing with it. So I did what any quilter with quilter's block would do. I went shopping, venturing out in the cold to the closest quilting store (really close--like a few blocks away), and I picked out these for the backing and binding of the flimsy I finished last week. 

The green/pink/aqua print is for the back, but I'm going to include a strip of the yellow in it and then use the yellow for binding, too.  

I don't often have two quilt projects to work on at once, but this worked out well because I definitely need a break from planning. After basting, I'll try to FMQ my way out of quilter's block and then maybe that other quilt idea will work out better for me. 

If anyone knows of a list somewhere of hex codes for the colors of various solid color fabric lines, I'd appreciate it if you'd share. I know there's a way to download swatch colors to some of the illustrator/picture software programs (for example, playcrafts has a tool), but I don't have those programs on my computer. (Yet.) Otherwise, I'll keep building my little file.

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

Thursday, February 12, 2015

WIP thursday? And an oldie

The week has gotten away from me, and I never got around to a WIP Wednesday post. Sometimes I think I just try to get things done so I'll have something to write about. But I don't really need to do that. Don't want it to become like homework--or deadlines. I had enough of those in school and my job. This should be fun. And my week has been good--a good dental checkup, a little antiquing, some Valentine sewing/gift box filling. Even a little bit of housework because I kind of let that go lately. And I have been working on a quilt, but I just don't have much to show for it. Mostly the work has been in my head. Here are most of the fabrics I'm working with:
Some of the colors are a little off in this picture (the blue is really a dark teal), but they're a combo of pastels and rich dark fabrics. I was afraid of color transfer but they pre-washed just fine. (Yup, I'm a pre-washer). 

I've been trying to teach myself to draw on a grid in the Paint program on my computer. It's slow going. Last time I designed a quilt in Paint, I imported a photo of a drawing I had done with marker on graph paper. I didn't want the marks to show on this quilt because I really want to see how the colors work next to each other and the black lines will detract. Hence, the laborious drawing and light gray lines. I've got this much done (one fourth):

If you can hardly see it, that's a good thing. I could just start cutting fabric and trying things out on the design wall, but it's a big quilt, and I can't afford to waste fabric. So I'll keep drawing. And then I can start playing around with the colors. 

Since it is Thursday, I also have a Throwback Thursday--Quilt Edition item to share. This is a quilt I made around 1996 or '97. My daughter's room had a sunflower theme. Okay, confession time: it still has a sunflower theme because I haven't gotten around to updating the decor--and besides, it's now my quilting room and makes me happy when I'm working in there. So we planned a sunflower quilt based on instructions in Jean and Valori Wells' book, Everything Flowers, which has a copyright date of 1996 (that's how I dated this quilt--no other good documentation) 

Notice sunflower wallpaper border, too. Yup, still there.
Paper foundation patterns for the sunflowers were provided, as well as a general plan for the background blocks (which were foundation pieced on muslin), but it was up to us to decide where to put the flowers and to random piece the background blocks. The sunflowers were supposed to be more fragmented, but we liked them whole. This was one of my first experiences with paper piecing and improvisational piecing. I found that I really enjoyed the paper piecing, but I wasn't confident about the improv piecing. I still like how it turned out, though. Because there were so many seams, and muslin under some parts, it was pretty thick, so I did minimal hand quilting in the ditch around major pieces and a leaf pattern in the border. 

The quilt is 28 3/4 by 34 3/4 inches, cotton with polyester batting, muslin on the back, and cotton hand quilting thread. It's never been washed. It's on a wall that gets little direct sunlight, so it's held its color well. 

I'm linking up today with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social and with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday. Have a good weekend, everybody!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Flimsy Finish--I think

Whew! It's Friday, and I just finished a flimsy. At least I think I did. I'm still mulling it over. And I'm not crazy about the term flimsy, but I like how it sounds with "finish."

This is the quilt I showed pieces of earlier this week. At that time it looked like triangles put together in diamonds. Now it's more of a zig zag. The quilt pattern is Gently Down the Stream by Christina Cameli from Quilter's Newsletter Fat Quarter Quilts from Fall 2014. 

Washed out picture. The sun was shining until I finished sewing. Then it got dim in the room, so I had to use a flash. Boo!

The instructions with the pattern say to trim off half of the side triangles (diamonds) and make the edges straight. But there is another pattern in the magazine that keeps the jagged edge, and I've also seen a quilt tutorial by Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts that I like, and I was seriously considering doing the jagged edge instead. 

Two problems with that idea: First, if I bind the quilt the way it is, the sides are asymmetrical, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. To make it more even, I'd need to add a row of diamonds along one side and another row to either the top or bottom. And that would be tricky because I'd have to strip piece the fabrics in a certain way to keep the fabric patterns going in each pair of triangles. (Hmm... that first problem sounds like three problems to me. Oh, well) Second, when I was doing a final pressing, I realized that all of the diamonds on the right side have the same or similar fabric in them. So much for balanced colors--and I walked by that quilt a million times when it was on the design wall and even looked at it through the "far away" end of binoculars and never noticed until it was sewn. Should have taken a photo and looked in gray scale. Chopping off the sides would help fix that problem somewhat, I guess.

Now this next paragraph is sort of just for me, so I remember what I did if I make a version of this quilt again, but feel free to read if you'd like. I know that pressing seams open is a trend in quilt making now, but I'm kind of old fashioned and am more comfortable pressing seams to one side. I like the "click" of nesting seams when I sew and I think they make my work a little more accurate than it would be if I didn't nest (but not always). When I joined the first two rows of this quilt I thought I had it figured out, but I didn't and matching all those strips was kind of challenging. So when I laid out the next two rows I really worked to figure out how to press my seams. When I did the strip piecing I had ironed all the seams away from the white strip. (You can see those strips here.) I had to change the direction of ironing on some of the triangles when I joined them. Here's what I did to figure it out:

I laid out two rows and numbered the triangles by their positions, 1, 2, 1, 2 in the first row and 3, 4, 3, 4 in the second. Then I messed around with pins and found out the following:

Triangle 1: press toward the white strip
Triangle 2: press away from the white triangle
Triangle 3: press away from the white strip
Triangle 4: press toward the white triangle

When joining triangle 1 to 2, press toward triangle 1; when joining triangle 2 to 1, press toward triangle 2. When joining triangle 3 to 4, press toward triangle 4; when joining triangle 4 to 3, press toward triangle 3. Sounds complicated, but maybe the picture helps.

Sewing worked out pretty well, but I did have to pay close attention to placement of the strips in the triangles. I became close friends with my seam ripper on one row when I chain pieced the wrong edge of the triangles. 

I'll be mulling this top over for a bit to see what I want to do with those edges. I have lots of the fabric left and am thinking of making another more scrappy version without matching fabrics in the pairs of triangles to make the diamonds. Maybe I'll make this quilt as the pattern directs and then make a jagged-edged one for the second quilt and the extra width and length. 

So there you have my finish. Here's one last little thing. I ordered some fabric this week. This is what the package looked like in my mailbox (well, except for the fabric that I took out). 

It was a pretty stuffed envelope, with 8 1/2 yards of fabric, but still. There was no note of apology from the postal service. I have no idea if it happened in transit or by a mail carrier who tried to shove it in my mailbox instead of bringing it to my door. At least the fabric was okay!

I'm linking up this week with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, and with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Throwback Thursday Quilt Edition--Lap Quilt

On Thursdays I do a new post about a quilt I made before I started blogging. It's a way to document what I've done in the past. I have enough old quilts to keep this going for quite some time. 

Today's quilt is one I made for my niece's mother-in-law last spring. She was in an auto accident that left her paralyzed, and I decided that she needed something quickly to use in her wheelchair while waiting for therapy sessions. 

I found this pattern, All in a Row, by Leni Levenson Wiener, in her book 3-fabric quilts. It was perfect for my purposes--fast, a good size, with clear instructions and a pleasing graphic quality. I chose colors that reminded me of life by the water, as C divides her time between the shores of Lake Michigan and the gulf coast in Florida. 

This quilt drove home to me the idea that FMQ was a worthwhile technique for me to learn for quilts that were needed quickly. It was so much faster than hand quilting--and prettier and more satisfying than tying. It was one of the first projects I FMQ'd for someone else. 

The finished quilt measured 36 by 40 inches before washing. I pieced it on my Singer Featherweight and quilted it (meandering) on my Singer 115 Treadle. The batting is cotton (I've forgotten what brand--this was pre-blogging, and I wasn't paying attention to all the details.) The thread is Superior King Tut Cotton--probably Papyrus.

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

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But my home is so delightful,
And since I've no place to go,
Let me sew, let me sew, let me sew.

Well the sun was shining there when I took the picture on Monday, but it's still messy out and cold, cold, cold. A good day for sewing.      

While I'm waiting for a fabric order for a big project (I found half of what I needed in my local stores, but had to order the rest), I'm working on a sweet little quilt, Gently Down the Stream, by Christina Cameli from Quilter's Newsletter's Fat Quarter Quilts Fall 2014. It's an equilateral triangle quilt--my first, but I'm pretty sure not my last. 
The strips are all cut and sewn together.
Starting to cut triangles

If it wasn't so cold out, I'd probably go to the store and treat myself to one of those nifty 60-degree triangle templates. But I've figured out how to tape some guides to my ruler to help me cut. 

I don't  know why that picture is rotated, but you get the idea. If you look really closely, you might be able to see faint registration lines on the templates to help me line up the seams on the strips so I cut them the right way.   

Here's what the triangles will look like when sewn together:

Fun way to spend a snowy week. I'm linking up this week with Freemotion by the River for Linky Tuesday and Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. Oh, and Freshly Pieced, too, for WIP Wednesday. (Wasn't sure she be here this week, but she is.)