Sunday, February 12, 2017

February Projects

Having a very playful cat in the sewing room created a big problem whenever I loaded a quilt on the midarm frame. My cat would find the batting hang from the frame to the floor a big play area. I would come back to find the batting completely torn apart. I had seen quilters rig up a pole hanging from their longarm frames to hold rolls of batting. I took that idea and bought a galvanized 1" x 10' metal pipe to hang with "S" hooks from my gardening supplies.  


It did the trick and was an inexpensive solution. I later basted all the layers together and am now ready to start the actual quilting.

Finished up another cross stitch ornament, a Gardening Santa. I am anxious for less winter though I won't be getting my hands into any dirt outside until May.


I have been getting back into the habit of working on my Bucilla kits in the evenings. They really do come together rather quickly when you work on them a little every evening. Most of Santa is complete so it is time to start layering a reindeer into place.


I finally got Bonnie Hunter's specialty ruler in the mail so was able to get to the block construction phase for her En Provence design. I have to make 16 of these blocks. I think this first one took me 45 minutes with all these points to match up. This is the first time I have made one of Bonnie's mysteries and I would definitely say these are for advanced quilters.


Even though I have many of my own quilt designs I should be working on...I really like making designs from other quilters when they have different techniques for me to try. I used the three rulers she recommends and they gave me very accurate components so it is all coming together smoothly...always a bit of stitching and ripping to get those points where you want them.  

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The First Finish of 2017

"Northwood Stars"
74 1/4" x 90"


I made this quilt from fabrics in my stash. The border fabric is from a Robert Kaufman line called Northwoods. There have been several variations released over the years. 

The blocks were made from a template set and book from Karen Montgomery.  I made the top in 2014 when this template set and book were the project featured at that year's September Breakfast Club meeting. So glad I had my blog to check the date.

 

The quilt design, "Big Sky," was my inspiration.


The book suggested a secondary star as an option with a color change in the background fabrics. As I recall it was very simple to make and went together very quickly.


A fun look at the backside. 
I discovered a quilting line that was overlooked and will fix that missed area in one of the stars.


Logan was such good boy for this photo. Often, as soon as I call him to get his attention for a photo, he starts running to me but this time he took a beat to see if I had further instructions.


Although the sun is finally high enough in the sky to shine on our house for a few hours a day, it is still just skimming the tops of the mountains so it is a challenge to get a great photo that shows the fabric colors.


I used two layers of Hobbs bleached cotton batting. I used Bottom Line thread in my bobbin, sticking with the same silver color for the entire quilt, even when I changed to darker thread colors. I find the double batting really alleviates the top and bottom threads from showing to the other side when I am quilting.

I plan to hang this in my bedroom for the heart of Alaska's winter months...but of course I have to wait until I share it at the February Breakfast Club meeting.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Too Busy to Talk

The last three weeks I have been diligently staying on task...trying to finish a quilt. I'm in the binding stage...so close. I tried three new techniques with this quilt and I am counting at least two of them a success.

The quilting design on the outer border is a technique called "Curved Echo Border." You can find a wonderful tutorial for the design on Kathy Schwartz's blog Tamarack Shack. She has a wonderful blog and I encourage you to visit her if you have never been to her site. Wonderful quilting along with Aurora photos and some quilting designs in snow.


The second new technique I tried on my latest quilt is marking with ordinary chalk. I got this tip from Margaret Solomon Gunn when I met her at the International Quilt Show in Houston. I even tried colored chalk and it worked beautifully too. Just sharpen with an ordinary pencil sharper with a larger pencil option. This is such a treat to work with...cheap, easy, washes out completely and I can actually see my marks no matter what color of fabric I am quilting. Most batiks are of medium value so this has been a issue for me in the past. Such a simple solution. 


The third technique was also one I got from Margaret. Wash the quilt before sewing on the binding. I'll decide if I like that technique when I actually finish the binding and see how it lays.

Sunshine is in the forecast for tomorrow so I am planning on a quilt photo session in the snow.

In an effort to stay on task with my machine quilting, I have started getting the next quilt ready for loading on my quilting frame. This quilt top has been waiting so patiently for me to quilt her that I had to spend some time ironing out all those hard creases from having her crammed on the shelf for many years. I had a lot of paper-pieced points in this design and I had to spend some time getting seams pressed for the least amount of bulk.


Don't worry...the iron is unplugged...a habit I am trying to instill in my routine since my quilting space is shared with a cat that loves all things quilty.


And I just had to share a puppy picture. Logan is four months old. He still loves to cuddle. When my husband is out of town the puppy gets to spend a few minutes in bed with me before we go to sleep.


I never made it to the January Breakfast Club gathering. That morning I woke up to the sound of rain...the worst possible weather when you have snow-packed roads. Many cars slid off the main road I would have had to drive that morning...it was a wet ice rink everywhere. Fine the next day...so frustrating! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Weekend of Snow Leads to Quilting Progress

Today was beautiful and sunny after four straight days of nonstop snowing. I snapped this photo at the end of my driveway to post on Facebook for one of my neighbors who is vacationing in Maui. Too bad she will have to come home to this. It is beautiful but the temperatures have gone sub-zero and will be there for most of the week. 


I faithfully watch the weather report so Thursday I stocked up on groceries. When I got home late Friday afternoon from my Jazzercise class, the flakes were just starting to fall. I just happened to have a quilt top loaded on my frame with a snowflake theme. I'm pleased to be getting lots of time on my mid-arm quilting machine. I may have a third of the quilting done. I am really hoping to finish it for the Breakfast Club meeting on Jan. 26th.


I will venture into town tomorrow but hurry back home to quilt some more.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Week One

Welcome 2017...but first a little recap of the last few projects of 2016.

We had a fantastic Breakfast Club gathering on Dec. 29th. It is a tradition for us to tackle a mystery on our last meeting of the year. Our leader, Marcia, picked a pattern and made it into a quick mystery because we only have a few hours to work on it before it is revealed by the end of our quilting day. We had to show up with brightly colored rectangles, 2 1/2 x 5 inches, and about 4 yards of a dark background. We each made one block to determine if we were happy with our background fabric in relation to the rectangles we had gathered. Here's my block.


This is not the background fabric I brought to class with me...as soon as I walked into the quilt shop I saw this darker grey and grabbed the rest of the bolt. It is perfect with all my little rectangles that were cut from a Bali Pop called, "Splash." I did add a few pieces from my stash.


After we all completed our block, Marcia revealed the her top...borders still to be added. Marcia really did use her scraps for this as there is not one single repeat of fabric in her rectangles! All batiks. 

Now the majority of the day is spent doing other things than quilting...like shopping and eating. There is always great food and company but the shop also had a big sale on fat quarters. Huge selection and if you buy 100 fat quarters they are only a dollar a piece. You are allowed to combine with you quilting partners to come up with 100 fat quarters. I came away with 27 batik fat quarters.


Back to the mystery pattern details. Here is the pattern as it was made up by the designer, Cory Yoder. Marcia's twist is a great version!



It is just one of 15 quilt designs in this new book which I highly recommend. I'm sure our quilt group will be making a few more quilts from this book. I counted six other designs in the book I would like to make. 


There were other projects I tried to wrap up before the end of 2016. I needed to make a little bear for a stocking called, "Bear to the Rescue." I have made several bears for stockings and I never seem to get faster...this little devil took me four hours to make. Ridiculous! And I still have three more to make.


But he sure looks cute when he is all done and sitting in the little firetruck.


And...I just finished tacking green wool backings to all of the cross stitch ornaments I finished in 2016. My cat was obsessed with trying to pull down all the cross stitch ornaments I had hanging from garland on my stairway railing. I'm trying to figure out how to hang them out of "cat range," next year. Very difficult decorating dilemma as I have 168 cross stitch ornaments...so far!


Here's a quick look at one backside. The instructions call for gluing the felt onto the backside but since I've had some of these ornaments for almost 20 years...I have found the glue does not hold up for many years of storage. It just needs to last for my lifetime!


I am working away on Bonnie Hunter's "En Provence." Love it...but lots of piecing left to finish before I even start putting blocks and rows together.  You know how it is...sew many projects in progress and new ones I would love to start. I'm looking forward to getting lots of quilting done in 2017.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Sanity Requires Quilting

I did it...I jumped into a new quilt project. I've started Bonnie Hunter's mystery, "En Provence." I'm linking to her Monday progress post here.


I didn't have enough off-white fabrics or magenta yardage so I am awaiting a package from Hancock's of Paducah and also awaiting the template Bonnie is using for the mystery. That probably translates into no further action on this project until the weekend.

But I can pull out the quilt I was working on before the new puppy arrived and Christmas preparations took all my time..."Full Bloom." I managed to get all the big blocks cut and glued in November. Each of these blocks took at least two hours to put together.


I have 48, 8-inch blocks to make of single flowers. I need to glue all those parts into place. Then I will start doing the top stitching to permanently hold everything in place. 


I've also resurrected a set of dresdan plates...I think there is common train of thought in all my current projects...colors. A bit dreary this time of year but not in the studio. I found this background green batik on sale for $5 a yard and I think it was just what I had been searching for the last few years.


My first job today will be to take down the Christmas tree which the animals used as a base for playing tag with each other. I only had one ornament causality. I put up handmade ornaments that wouldn't lead to an emergency room visit if a puppy ate part of it. I made that mistake the last time I got a puppy in December. 


Oh...and Breakfast Club meets on Thursday to make it's annual mystery quilt. I'm still on the fence about attending...I better decide pretty soon.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Christmas Delivery

I picked up my present last weekend...


This is Logan...11 weeks old. He's a Gordon Setter just like my girl McKinley.


McKinley visited the groomer yesterday...so pretty!

It is a little crazy at my house this holiday season...because I also have a a seven-month-old kitten, Eli, who thinks he's a dog...when he's not playing tag with the dogs...he sneaks into Logan's crate. Eli doesn't look much like a kitten anymore. I know he weighs over 12 pounds at this point and can reach the top of the kitchen counter tops when he stretches his full length. 


I have delusions that I might still start Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt, "En Provence,"...it could happen! I really love the colors and the name of the quilt. Her inspiration photos call to me!

In the meantime...finishing up a few projects during "nap time."  Got the backing and hanger on this Bucilla stocking called, "In the Workshop."


Instead of cross stitch, I took some little redwork projects to stitch on when traveling. These are from a set of 12 ornaments from an Australian designer, Lynette Anderson. A cute little button will finish each ornament...or I may combine them for a mini quilt. I can't make up my mind but since I have nine more blocks to make...I've got some time to think about it.



Not sure how much posting I will get done for the rest of 2016...just to be on the safe side...

I wish you a Merry Christmas.
I think it will get here much too quickly!