Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Round and Round

Remember this piano stool?

I got it so I could have an adjustable seat when I'm sewing. Well, now it looks like this:

My husband, aka Eldin the painter (more about that here), painted it to match some other things in the sewing room, and I set out to make a new cover for the cushion. Awhile back I saw one of those videos that was making the rounds on the internet of a person drawing a design with repeated straight lines that turned into curves. What do you call that design? I was thinking of Spirograph or Magic Designer (remember those old drawing toys?) but it's not really made like those, and it's not really like Zentangle either, although it could be used as part of one. Anyway, I decided I wanted to do it in quilting with my walking foot. 

Here's my work near the beginning of the quilting:

First, I drew a hexagon with a protractor on a piece of fabric, layered the piece with batting and a backing, and sewed one line of stitching along the hexagon. Then I "drew" a few lines at a time with a ruler and followed them with my walking foot. If you look closely, you can see one of the lines on the left side of the hexagon in the middle. I was going to use my hera marker to draw, but it's kind of wearing out and doesn't make a sharp line anymore, so I used a bamboo skewer instead. It worked great!

Here's the order of stitching (please excuse really bad drawing): 

And I just kept going round and round until I reached the middle. My hexagon turned into a pentagon at the end, but I don't mind. Then, to fill out the rest of the space I quilted some scallops around the hexagon, and because I couldn't leave well enough alone, I added a wonky FMQ flower in the middle and some better FMQ flowers around the scallop. I trimmed the piece into a big circle, stitched the edges into a casing, and threaded a scrap piece of elastic through. Voila! Slipcover all done!

And it's even reversible to a kind of yellowish green on the back, although the bobbin thread is thinner and not as nice.

This whole project cost nothing (except for the old stool). All the materials were in my stash. I love that. I sat on the stool while I was treadling, and it was so comfortable having my elbows up to the right height. Fun to spin the stool round and round, too!

Speaking of before and after, remember this "before?"

Now my closet looks like this!!

I'm not quite done, but what a difference. And--true confession--I haven't sorted and tossed out/donated any fabrics yet. Maybe I won't need to. There's plenty of room in those bins. I'll show more pictures when I'm all done so you can see the left and right sides of the closet, too. Those bins were quite a find. They are a little smaller than the ones you usually find for cube storage so they fit just right on the bookcases. They came in lots of bright colors, but these golden yellow ones were cheaper than some of the other colors. They look great with my green carpet and with the decor of the bedroom (with some sunflower themed stuff from years gone by). The paint on the shorter bookcase and a little chest that you can't see here is leftover from our living room in our old house. It was still in good condition (after probably 25 years!) and a yummy "country cream" color that I'm thinking I'll need to match in new paint for the walls in the bedroom sometime. (Eldin hears me calling him for another paint project!) It's the kind of color that makes me think of butter mints that used to come in nut cups at weddings years ago. Yum!

Well, time to get back to work. I have a quilt top to finish. But I just have to leave you with a couple of spring pictures. Our ancient tulips are still coming up--and blooming!

I'm linking up today with Freemotion by the River for Linky Tuesday (yeah, I know I'm a day late) and with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. Click the links to their websites or click on their buttons on the right.

Have a good week and enjoy your befores and afters.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Leftovers! Quilt

Val over at Val's Quilting Studio asked us to share what's on our design wall this week. My design wall is a bargain bin window curtain hung on a rod with leftover seam binding. (I thought I could hang it with the grommets, but it was too wavy.) I keep meaning to get some clips, but I just never get around to it. I basted some quilt batting to the curtain with big hand stitches. I've been meaning to stitch lines to make a nice grid, but I just never get around to it. (Is there a theme here?) Oh well, the curtain wall works fine for me, and I can take it down quickly when I need to use the guest room.

So here's what's on it this week:

The squares are leftovers of the Old Fashion Values top I was working on last week with just a few pieces thrown in from my stash. Do you see where two sashing strips fell off before I took the picture? I didn't even notice them until I posted this. There will be sashing strips going the other way, too, and a strip around the outer edge. This quilt will be donated with its partner when I'm done. I'm hoping it will appeal to a man who doesn't care for florals. But now that I'm looking at this picture, I might rearrange the squares with the values more in mind. I have an idea. Stay tuned. Oh, and there's another funny little story attached to these charms. I can't tell you about it yet, but I will next week. 

Meanwhile the great closet clean-up continues. I can't even bring myself to take a picture. I took out the bookcase so my husband could paint it. I've been calling him Eldin the Painter after a sit-com character on the Murphy Brown show in the '80's and '90's who worked for years on a never-ending house painting project. Of course, I had to pile up all the stuff from the bookcase. (I know. I need to sort it.) Then I decided to have him paint a small chest, so all the stuff from that is piled up, too. Someone did comment recently that it gets worse before it gets better when you reorganize your sewing space, and boy, does it ever!. I have managed to sort some files out, so that's good. I also ordered some pretty storage bins, so I'm slowly getting there. Oh, and Eldin has painted my piano stool turned sewing stool, but I'll wait to show that until I get a new cushion cover made. 

Meanwhile, spring has sprung. 

And remember those silly ducks I mentioned awhile back that were thinking of building a nest by our neighbor's pool? Well, they did eventually build a nest in another neighbor's yard behind us. Eleven eggs!

Unfortunately, the nest was raided the other night, and we have found the eggs scattered around our two yards. Such is spring in the animal kingdom. But what pretty eggs! New paint color name idea: Mallard Egg Green.

And on that cheery thought, I'll get this posted on Val's site as well as Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. I hope you are enjoying your design wall, or curtain or floor or whatever this week. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Big Quilt Photo Finish

Yippee! I finally got an outdoor picture of the Big Quilt. Last week Friday everything came together for just a little while--bright overcast sky, reasonably calm breeze, and my neighbor being home so I could borrow her and her high deck to help display the quilt. She and my husband held the quilt and I shot as fast as I could as they began to groan about holding their arms up. That quilt is heavy!! Within two hours, the snowflakes began to fly and we had several snow storms over the next few days. But here's what I got in my small window of opportunity: 

I don't think my neighbor will mind that she's peeking over the quilt. She had to stand on a bench to be able to reach high enough. It's kind of like the next door neighbor on the old TV show "Home Improvement." It was a running joke that he was always partially hidden behind something--usually his fence. But I digress. Here are some close-ups: 

(The quilt is square, but even the slightest breeze made it blow.)
 Shortly after the photo session, this was happening:

After I took the pictures, I took the quilt to a laundromat to wash and dry it before an indoor photo session. The weather has cleared up considerably. In fact, we are looking at temperatures of at least 70 this weekend. But the grass is soggy and anything I might drape the quilt on outside is grimy. Plus, it's just too heavy to lug around and drape gracefully. So indoors it is--on our guest bed, which I had to put up on risers to make it high enough (more about that later). 

Lots more photos, and then I'll give the quilt details and share some thoughts.

Note wrinkles in foreground--more about that later.

I fell in love with the backing material when I was using it for a quilt for someone else. I found out it was available locally--I needed a lot! I even matched the pattern when I pieced it.

More close-ups:

And my initials and date to prove that I really did finish it this year:

Here are the details: 
  Quilt planning started: early 2015
  Construction started: April 2015
  Quilting started: August 2015
  Last stitch in binding: April 5, 2016

Kona Solids in Black, Bordeaux, Cayenne, Celestial (including binding), Coral, Curry, Deep Rose, Dusty Peach, Eggshell, Espresso, Latte, Light Parfait, Paprika, Salmon, Silver, Snow, and Tan. 
Moda Bella Solids in Amelia, Fog and Orange.
Solid fabric carried by Joann (Country Classics?) in Honeydew
Backing: Retro Morocco Bud Vines Wild & Free Studios by Elizabeth Olwen 

Batting: Warm and Natural

Quilting thread: Superior King Tut Cotton in Canaan on light fabrics and Pumice on dark ones. (There's a little Masterpiece in Granite on the back, but my machine preferred the King Tut in the bobbin, so I used Canaan in the bobbin for most of the quilt.

Quilting motifs: Walking foot straight lines and wavy lines
    FMQ foot meanders and free form flowers (inspired by Lori at the Inbox Jaunt)

Pieced with a freezer paper technique in 9 40-inch square blocks on a Singer Featherweight. Quilted on a Singer 115 treadle.

Design is original, but the center block is based on a photo of the Right Angles pillow on I used Palette Builder by Play Crafts to figure out the fabric colors.

Binding from 2 3/8 inch strips, sewn on front and hand stitched to back. 

Dimensions: 120 by 120 inches before quilting; 117 by 117 after quilting and 115 3/4 by 115 3/4 after washing. And drying. And rinsing. And drying. 

Here are some thoughts: 

--I like the quilt much better hanging vertically than on the bed. Maybe that's because it's really a one-block design--kind of an art quilt. It's really imposing on the bed and the starburst-like design gets lost. Having said that, as I get used to it on the bed, I like it better and better. And it can't hang on the wall--it's too tall.

--I planned this quilt to shrink. I was hoping for about 7% shrinkage on a side ( to 112 inches) and I only got about 4%. That doesn't seem like much difference, but due to some miscommunication about the size of the mattress and boxspring, I overestimated the original dimensions of the bed. There's a simple solution: My son and daughter-in-law could go out and buy a king size bed. It would be perfect!! But expensive. They are planning to build a wood frame, so that should take care of the excess quiltiness. I hope. Putting our guest bed on risers helped for the photo shoot. But really, why didn't that quilt shrink? I washed it on cold and dried it on low to medium to high as I got braver and braver at the laundromat. It seemed like it had shrunk until I got it home. Not enough.I jammed it into my home machine and rinsed it on warm and jammed it into my dryer and dried on high. But I overdid it with the drying and set in some wrinkles in my smaller home machine. I'm sure they'll hang out over time. No further shrinkage though. My theory is that the close quilting and the whole bias thing going on with the quilt had something to do with it. 

--In my excitement to get the binding on, I forgot my practice of trimming the batting and backing 1/8 inch wider than the top, so my finished binding is 1/4 inch on the front and 1/2 inch on the back. Looks fine, though, especially with the match between the binding and the blue in the backing. 

--The more I quilt, the more I think I prefer quilting with a neutral (off white) thread or a dark gray solid thread. I stumbled a bit with my choices of variegated grays. They look fine, but weren't quite what I pictured as I planned the quilting  

--I found that freezer paper piecing eliminated any problems with working with a quilt that is entirely on the bias. And using a method of folding the paper while sewing made taking it off a snap. 

--I now know that I can quilt any size quilt on a domestic (treadle) machine. (Not that I'll be doing one this big again!) As long as I support every square inch on tables and bunch it loosely, it is easy to manage. 

--I'm also really comfortable now quilting with both my FMQ foot and my walking foot. I was really slow at first, but I picked up speed, especially in the last few weeks when I worked every day. I also learned that I was much faster if I waited until the end of the day to bury knots/thread ends. That was a good little activity while I watched TV. I might not always tie/bury knots, but for this quilt it worked better.

--Doing FMQ without worrying about symmetry or perfect lines is the best! I can see why graffiti quilting or flow quilting or whatever word you have for it is catching on. It makes the meditative aspect of quilting that much more satisfying.

--I Love, Love, Love working with modern solids. No color bleeding at all, even with the really strong colors. And now I have a batch of fabrics to start my super-sized swatch collection. Yippee!

Finally, I'm really glad I'm finished!!! If you are at all interested in my journey, there are at least 25 posts (including this one) referencing this quilt--and a few more not labeled from my beginning planning. Yipes! You can click on the label at the bottom of this post or on the sidebar (a new feature I'm working on; hoping to reduce and organize all the labels soon and make some tabs for the top of the page. I'm really slow at blog development).

Have a great weekend, everyone. (I'll be hugging my grands and handing this quilt over to my son and daughter-in-law, who certainly won't have to fight over who has the bed covers.)

I'm linking up today with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop, Needle and Foot (subbing for Lizzie Lenard) for Free Motion Mavericks and Faith and Fabric for TGIFF. 


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Old Fashion Values Top

Well, here it is less than a week since my last post, and I have a new top to share. Wow, did this go fast!

Last week I shared this pile of charm squares. 

There's a little story that goes with them. Back in October I got an email from Shelley over at The Carpenter's Daughter Who Quilts. She had noticed on Facebook that the Moda company was trying to locate someone named Janine Marie for a giveaway. She thought that person might be me. I enter a lot of giveaways, and I can't always remember what ones I've entered, so I contacted Moda and told them my name and that I didn't know if I was the person they were looking for and that I honestly couldn't remember entering their giveaway. But I jokingly said that if they wanted to give me their fabric bundles, I'd happily take them They said my profile picture didn't match their information, and I figured that was that. But then they contacted me and said that since they couldn't find the winner, they'd send me the bundles. 11 charm packs!! That's a lot of fabric squares!!

So, I finally am getting around to using them. This week I laid out and sewed a quilt top for the Hands2Help Charity Challenge hosted by Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. I thought it might be hard to do. You see, these fabrics are not really my current style, but I am committed to using them. And someone else might like them a lot--maybe someone who is really into historic looking fabrics or antiques. 

First, I looked around for ideas for sewing charms. I found the Flower Patch Quilt by Kathryn Ludowese at the Moda Bake Shop, which seems appropriate since I'm working with Moda fabrics. The quilt was made with a layer cake (10-inch squares) and 7-inch squares, but I knew I could scale it back to use the charms. That pattern became my inspiration, although I constructed it differently, as you'll see below.

All of the packs-even though they were from different fabric collections--coordinated quite well with each other. So here's what I decided to do. I ignored the colors and patterns for the most part and divided them into values. First, I put the darks and mediums on the wall in columns:

Then I took my lighter fabrics to make triangles in the corners of the dark squares. The pattern called for a Stitch and Flip (sometimes called Flip and Sew) technique--sewing across a smaller square diagonally in the corner of each larger square and then flipping it to make a triangle. If I had done that, I would have wasted a big part of the smaller square and run out of my light charms, so instead I cut each light charm in half diagonally. Here's how they looked laid out to get an idea of placement: 

And here's what I did to sew them together. (I still sewed with the Stitch and Flip technique, but with a triangle instead of a square.)
Dark charm with half light charm

Triangle marked off on a ruler--forgot about seam allowance so my finished light triangle turned out a bit bigger than planned, but it looked fine.

Triangle pinned in place

Quick mark of the quarter inch line with a pencil since my machine doesn't have a quarter inch foot

Ready to chain piece

Zipping along, and then I discovered...

that if I turned the patches around, the other side of my foot is a scant quarter inch. Who knew?? Could have saved myself a step marking the seam allowance. 
 After sewing all of the triangles, I flipped them and trimmed them up even with the base square. (Forgot to take a picture). By doing the triangles this way, I could get two triangles for each light charm (with very little waste) and had just enough light squares for the quilt. The rest of the construction was just squares--so easy!! Here's how everything came together, super fast:

I don't know if you can tell, but I tried to put most of the lightest values of triangles along the edges and down the center with more tannish ones in the other two columns. The finished top is 54-1/2 by 68 inches.

As I was working, a name for the quilt came to me: Old Fashioned Values--not as a political, religious or cultural statement or anything, but because the fabrics seemed old fashioned to me and I was working with values. Quilt names aren't important to me--I never named my quilts until I started writing about them--and then it became convenient as a way to reference them on the blog. Anyway, this quilt pretty much named itself. It was really good practice in working with values. I only made a few changes in fabric placement after putting the patches on the wall, using my trusty old binoculars to reduce the quilt and compare the values. 

I used part of 8 charm packs to make this, and I have enough charms left to make another quilt. What about the other 3 packs? I set them aside and plan to send them to Shelley as a thank you gift for helping me "win" this windfall of charms. In a later post I'll tell you the names of the charm packs.

I'm linking up today with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social, and on the 17th I'll link up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for the Hands2Help Linky.

Confessions Of A Fabric Addict

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Throwback Thursday Quilt Edition: College Quilts

During the past two weeks I've been at both of my kids' homes, which gave me a perfect photo opportunity for a TBT post. 

When my daughter left for college in 1999 I had to make her a quilt. Of course! I tried not to play matchy matchy with her dorm room--I didn't want it to look like I decorated her room, although if she had asked me to I would have. I will admit to sitting on the floor with my nose two inches away from her interesting tweed carpet to see what colors were hiding there. I decided to make something fairly simple and unobtrusive. And dark because who knew when that quilt would get washed. Here's the result:

The back fabric was the basis for the rest of the fabric choices. It was really fun finding neutrals with similar print colors. The darker colors were pretty representative of what is still often my way of using prints that read more as solids. The quilt is about 56 inches square with 36 8-3/4 inch blocks (1-3/4 inch logs) and a 1-3/4 inch border. The batting is polyester, and the ties are perle cotton.The binding matches the backing.This quilt can still be found various places in my daughter's house depending on who needs it. 

My son left for college in 2001. Another quilt--a little trickier because I definitely didn't want it to look like I decorated his room! Dark colors again, for same reason as above.

I forgot to measure this one, but I'm pretty sure that it's about 72 inches square, with 4-1/2 inch blocks from 1-1/2 inch strips. Again, polyester batting and perle cotton ties. I made a strip pieced binding on this one from leftover fabrics. It can be found on various couches around the house. 

Finally, a quilt for my daughter's boyfriend when I was pretty sure this relationship was going to last. (Around 2002?) I certainly wasn't going to waste my time on a quilt for a guy who wouldn't be around forever. Ha! This was the trickiest of all. Would he like it? What would he like? Was it too much from his girlfriend's mother? Yipes! Scary!. But I made it anyway. And I'm glad I did. He's been our son-in-law for more than 10 years now. 

Hmm...don't know why that picture turned. Oh well, the quilt's symmetrical.
Dark colors again. (You know why.) Again, polyester batting, perle cotton ties, solid looking prints. The squares are approximately 3-1/2 inches, and the overall quilt is about 73 inches square. Big enough to keep him warm in an old off-campus house. This quilt is also on various couches or by the trundle bed in the guest room.

I'm thrilled that these quilts are still all in use. They are cozy, and they still look great. Maybe that's because they don't get washed much.(At all?) Anyway, making college quilts was fun. 

You might see that one quilt is missing. I never got around to making a quilt for my daughter-in-law when she was dating my son. Never mind. I'm making up for it. I just finished a quilt for their bed. (Photos coming soon.) I'll call it hers.  

Oh, and one more picture for those of you who have cats in the family. I don't, but my son and daughter-in-law do. Meet Harvey. 

He used to run and hide when we came. Now he comes running to greet us (me), and he snuggles next to me on the couch! I just might become a cat (-ish) person after all. 

I'm linking up today with Jenn at A Quarter Inch from the Edge for Throwback Thursday. I can't wait to see your throwback quilts!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Mid-week Randoms

First of all, I have a finish. But I can't show you yet. Okay, I'll just show the corners. 

The flowers and wider binding (more on that later) are on the back.
I want to get some good pictures outside, but the weather has been abominable here--wind, rain, sleet, snow. Typical Midwest spring. Maybe by Friday--otherwise next week. Anyway, the Big Quilt is finished. I didn't even jump up and down when I put the last stitch in the binding last night. I seem to have tweaked something in my back, maybe from all the repetitive sewing motion and sitting in too soft a chair. So I mostly just sighed, smiled and adjusted the heating pad. 

Now my mind is full of Nexts. I know I'll get back to the Lake Michigan quilt, but I need something else to work on. I have these charm square bundles set aside for a donation quilt (or maybe two). The fabrics are not my current style, but I think they would appeal to someone who likes antique-looking fabrics.

How I got them is a fun little story. I'll share it when I get going on a quilt. I have a plan for the quilt already. 

I also planned a little quilt for that bundle of fabric I won a few weeks ago. 

Hexagons! Yes, me, even though I said I was kind of tired of seeing them. I've never made a hexagon quilt, and I certainly don't plan to do EPP--that's just not for me. I'm going to make the biggest hexagons I can to maximize what I can cut from fat quarters (I'm thinking four per quarter?) and then I'm going to machine piece them. I bought a few coordinating fat quarters and I might also supplement with some solids. 

Speaking of antiques, we did a little antiquing last week, and I found this piano stool: 

Really, I had my pick of four in the antique mall.Two were totally refinished wood and super expensive. One was off white and a little wobbly. This one had some chipped paint on it, but it was sturdy and just right for my wallet.  I had been looking for one for a few weeks to replace a desk chair I use when I'm sewing. The desk chair, even with a pillow on it, is just a little too low. I knew that a piano stool could be adjusted to just the right height. (Yes, I'm Goldilocks.) I had thought of changing the color from black to dark brown, but then I decided to have a little more fun. I noticed that I have a few pops of chartreuse in my living room (where I do a lot of sewing) and my guest room (where I machine quilt). So chartreuse it will be. Those claw feet on the glass balls still freak me out a bit, but I'll get used to them. And they'll be friendlier in green. My husband has already sanded the stool, and when the weather warms up a bit, he'll spray it with paint we already have on hand. The little toile seat cover is cute (and comfy), but it doesn't really fit my style, so I will make a slipcover. I already have a plan. (Can you tell I had a lot of time for making plans while I put that binding on?)

Finally, you might be wondering how the great clean-up is going. (Or maybe not, but I'll tell you anyway.) I am pleased to say that I have over 286 magazines (yes, I counted them, and there are a few others lying around that I plan to toss) and at least 19 binders ready to recycle or donate. What magazines are left easily fit into just three binders. It was hard to do, but I set myself some rules and stuck to them. I paged through each magazine and only kept it if it had a pattern I had used, a picture of a quilt that directly influenced a quilt I made or had an article about my favorite quilt artist or a few other specific quilters. As I suspected, it was easiest to go backwards through time. I'm less emotionally attached to the newest magazines--plus, I can find much of that material online. Most of the magazines I kept were the oldest. There were lots of articles with methods, calculations, and tutorials or styles of quilts, but I just kept telling myself that I could find that information online if I looked a little. It was at times a rather somber task. There were so many quilters that I admired when I first started quilting that are no longer with us. And there were others I didn't know of, but I wonder what became of them and their quilts. It was interesting to get a quick history of quilting over the last 30-some years. I particularly noticed the cycles of quilting, and the connections between what we think of as vintage and modern. I had a lot of emotions which I really should try to sort out and write about someday. But the task is done now, and I have about 50 inches of "new" shelf space in my closet. I'm still sorting things out, but I have to admit that my fabric stash is still the elephant in the room. That will probably be the last thing I work on. Meanwhile, I'm thinking about how I might want to store what's left. I think there will be two more painting projects in my husband's future so I can at least streamline the look of the storage units. 

I'm linking up today with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. And tomorrow, look for my Throwback Thursday post. Until then, I hope you are happy planning something.