Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Snowflake block construction

It has been my good fortune the last couple of days to have time for working industriously on my Snowflake quilt. I need 30 blocks and have 5 totally done, and several more in progress. That might seem like a slow pace to some, but I am pleased with that progress. For me, it's remarkable, believe me!

Here are the steps of construction. First, each block needs 4 4-patch units.

Next, there are 4 flying geese units.

Finally, these units are sewn together with a 4-1/2 inch center square in 9-patch fashion.

I am trying a technique I've never tried before on those flying geese units. Customarily, I cut away both excess fabrics when a the corner square is sewn diagonally onto the 2-1/2 x4-1/2 inch rectangle. This time, though, I am just cutting away the middle layer. This leaves the full rectangle intact, and really affords me greater precision when it comes to joining the two geese together with a crisp point. I like that. Since this quilt will most likely be machine quilted, I don't think the extra layer of fabric will make much of a difference, but it makes a huge difference in the accuracy with which my blocks are coming together. Here are a few shots of the flying geese units I've just described.

It's a bit hard to see the stitching on the back of the middle photo, but while I am sewing this step, I can see exactly where I need to place the needle to get the point just right.

One of my rules MUST be to use only the fabric in my stash. I prefer using what I have except in dire circumstances. In digging through the closets, bins, tubs and drawers, I found 2 fabrics that I might use for the alternate blocks and the side and corner triangles (blocks are set on point). Here is what I've decided for now. I figure I have time to change my mind, so it's tentative, but likely, I suppose.

The paisley will be the side and corner triangles, while the other will be the alternate blocks. If I change my mind on either, it will be the dot fabric. It is from a Christmas line by Robyn Pandolph by Moda, and while I have no problem with it on it's own, I think I would like to have little navy blue dot clusters as opposed to the green ones.  Also, my neutral in the snowflake block is more gray, and the dot is a bit more beige.
The jury is still out. Opinions welcome.

Fabrics in the snowflake:
Navy paisley: Faye Burgos by Marcus Brothers
Neutral: Peace in the Country by Carole Endres and Benartex

Fabric for side and corner triangles:
Paisley: Butternut and Blue by Brackman and Thompson plus Culpepper Courthouse for Moda (what kind of name is that?) 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Keeping Busy

I finally allowed myself to begin a new project. The work on UFOs had to be done, but I'm much happier when I get to start a new quilt. (Strange how I can start so many, and finish so few!)

Here is my cutting phase:

And, I just couldn't wait to make a block, so here it is:

So, the fabric is from my stash. I had 2 different cuts of the blue, which means I bought it twice. I must have really liked it! And I still do! The pattern is a Thimbleberries one, called Patchwork Snowflake, from the book Cottage Comfort, I believe. I've liked this pattern ever since I bought the book, and I am  happy to be making it, finally! My snowflakes will all be this blue paisley, whereas the pattern shows a variety of fabrics for a scrappier look. I will try very hard to make myself finish this quilt and not get sidetracked onto other stuff. I am notorious for starting things and never finishing them.

I do tend to get sidetracked...for example, I love to read, so if I have a good book going, the rest of the world might as well just wait, because there's no hope of getting much out of me until it's finished. Then, there's the usual mom-and-family stuff that tends to take priority, as it should. I imagine that I am no different from most quilters. The hobby has to be fit in around the obligations.

Walked 2 miles this evening with Vickie and really enjoyed that. We have only this week left before the time change, so we felt sort of pressed to make the most of the lovely evening.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Did You Know That I Retired??

Well, I don't like to brag about all this free time I have, but...

Actually, what my retired friends have been telling me is true: it's hard to believe a retired person can be so busy! How did I ever get anything done when I was working?

At the end of May I completed 30 years of teaching high school English at CHS. That being a Friday, my dear GFs had a little shindig at a local eating establishment - one that featured a lovely patio for outdoor dining. We wore tiaras and boas; what a raucous group we were!

The tradition with this group of friends has been that the retiring friend gets a quilt made by the rest of us in ssshhh...s-e-c-r-e-t! After about 4 retirements, though, it was sorta' hard to keep that secret. We have used the same quilt pattern for every retirement quilt, and I suspect that we will continue to use it, as it is fun to see how totally different each retiree's quilt is from the others. We typically select fabrics based on the retiree's interests or color schemes.  One friend loves blue and white quilts, so naturally that was what we used for her quilt. Another decorates with a lot of Americana, so hers was red, white and blue. 

Here's what they made for me:

Once upon a time, I would only consider traditional fabrics and quilts. That all changed when I discovered they eye-popping intensity of Kaffe Fassett designs. I became an extreme fanatic. Isn't this a beauty?

Doing this in secret is quite an accomplishment. One or two will take the lead and cut fabrics for all the stars, then distribute to the rest. Generally,  individuals are assigned 2 stars to make by a given deadline, and then, somehow, the group schedules a secret sewing day for construction of the top. It works pretty well, actually.

The pattern is from Lynette Jensen's Thimbleberries book, North Bay Quilts. It is featured on the cover and is called Christmas Confetti. I ought to get all the other retired girls to bring their quilts on an outing so we can get pictures. The study in contrasts would be interesting.

Here's the label they signed and attached to the back. Isn't the swirly quilting a nice touch for this very lively quilt?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

UFO List is Shrinking!

A shrinking UFO list certainly brightens my day, because that means I have been productive! Last weekend I finished the 2nd baby quilt, and now I am celebrating this weekend with the completion of Erin's Urban Chic quilt top!! Yippity-doo-dah!

After much quilt math, I cut the borders. You know how my brain cramped up with that - I taught English for 30 years. No math for me!!

The fabric, from what I can tell, is all by Joel Dewberry from Westminster. I thought some might be Amy Butler, but in looking at all selvages, I see only JD represented.

What makes a person succumb so dreadfully to procrastination? There is no viable excuse to make up for taking 2 years to complete this quilt. Appalling! I shopped with dear friend Sharon on a beautiful, sunny October afternoon in Columbus back in 2007 and found this fabric. Over the course of the next several weeks, I made the top, and stopped at the point where borders were needed. In order to add borders, I was going to have to buy more fabric. (The usual result of buying fabric with no clear purpose or pattern.) With Erin's input, we selected the pieces she wanted and ordered them online. I wrapped the border fabrics and backing as a Christmas 2007 gift to Erin. My plan was to whip out those borders and give the quilt to her quickly!! And the work thus far was indeed done remarkably fast for me.

Loooonnnnng paaaauuuuse. . .in November 2008, I packed this project off to an overnight quilting party that one of the GFs has each year. It never made it out of my bag. Instead, I worked on a different UFO. When summer 2009 rolled around, with this project so near to being completed, I knew I had to get in gear!! Newly retired, I was determined not to start any more quilts before getting some UFOs taken care of first.

So now we find ourselves in October 2009, and the sweet "Urban Chic" (my name for it, not the pattern) quilt has finally acquired its borders!

I've made the call to Linda, the local long-arm quilter friend, and she will be able to work it into her increasingly busy schedule the week after next. Erin may just have this quilt on her bed before Christmas!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Here's What I Bought

It's a gray day here in south-central Ohio. Rain is due in later. Perfect day for working on a quilt. I am going to quit procrastinating as soon as I finish off this post. My plan is to get the borders on Erin's quilt - the one I refer to as her Urban Chic quilt. I will get good pics as I get it out and make progress.

In Monday's post, I chronicled the outing to Belpre, OH, with a group of quilting friends. I failed to take any pictures of the day's haul, however, and wanted to share said haul here. Incredibly, I bought only one little charm pack. Isn't she gorgeous? I have a good bit of the Aviary fabric for a quilt I want to make. This pack will go toward a Schnibbles.

Instead of buying fabric, I was inspired by the delightful store displays to begin my Christmas shopping! Don't tell any of the GFs, but here's what's going into their Christmas gift bags. Santa did good, right?

Do you think there's something wrong with me? I mean, going all the way to a Belpre quilt shop, nearly 3 hours one way, and I only buy a charm pack? That might mean I've come down with some dread disease? Or, it could just mean that I know I have enough fabric, already, and I am just being super- selective with my stash-building?  Hmmm...

Time for borders...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Baby Quilts Finished and a Shopping Trip

Yesterday we celebrated the 2nd birthday of my sweet nieces. I was able to get the second quilt done in time, but barely! I was stitching in the car on the way to their house while DH did the driving. I committed the BIG SIN: I did not put labels on either quilt. I figure that at some point I will get 2 labels prepared, and when I am over there, I can stitch them on.

Today, the fun quilting group I've joined took a field trip to Neff's Country Loft, a shop in Belpre, OH. I'd never, to my knowlege, been over in that area of the state, so this was an adventure for me. In addition to carrying a healthy assortment of reproduction fabrics, Neff's had a lot of country-oriented decorating and gift items. The array was so vast that I began my Christmas shopping!! It was a satisfying excursion. After a delicious soup and salad lunch in Athens, we headed back home. Made a stop at a very unique store in Jackson which sells discount fabrics, both upholstery and quilt varieties, as well as a fair amount of fleece.

We were back home by 3-ish, and I was able to meet my walking friend, Vickie, and get our 2 miles in before dark. For such a wonderful day, it certainly started out with a bit of alarm. My 17-year-old daughter woke up with a fever and achiness. Needlesss to say, she missed school, and I was prepared to miss the outing. Within an hour, though, she was asking for breakfast before going back to bed. So I knew the flu wasn't a concern. She assured me it was fine with her that I take off, so I did. (No bad mother guilt, either!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Such a shame...

This beautiful building is my alma mater, Hillsboro High School, in Hillsboro, OH. She has reigned over the west end of Main Street since 1934. Today, the front page of the local newspaper shows the beginnings of its demolition. The community voted for a new school several years ago, and as a consequence, this lovely building is meeting its demise. With the slow economy, there were no offers made to purchase or rent the structure. The school board could not afford to keep it maintained, so the only alternative was to have it razed.

Three generations of our family are HHS graduates. My mother was a member of the class of 1954, as was 3 of her 4 siblings. I graduated in 1975. My 2 brothers and 2 sisters graduated from there: 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981. All of my sisters- and brothers- in-law are graduates. Six of my nieces and nephews are HHS graduates. It was a big part of our lives, a common thread, if you will.

So, as progress takes beautiful, stately buildings such as this, I accept it, but do so with a fair amount of nostalgia.  Those of us who knew her will miss her sorely.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Under a Week; Right on Target!

A tiny little celebration occurred last night as I took the 2nd baby quilt out of the quilt frame. I now need to machine stitch the binding on, then sit for an evening hand sewing it in place. The twins' birthday is Sunday, and I am lining myself up for the finish with time to spare!

Here is a picture of the sweeties, taken last Wednesday, when I babysat them for an evening. Do you know how difficult it is to get 2 kids this age to sit side by side long enough to snap a picture? And they were being cooperative!! Meet Mary Jean and Anna Rose.

Sidebar story of interest: I had a chance to babysit the little darlings today, but (I can't believe this next part!) I declined. Oh, what a decision! First, I'd have had to be out of the house before 6:30 AM!, as they live about 45 min. away from us. That would mean hitting the shower before 6, leaving Kevin and Emma without breakfast (I'd promised them French Toast today). And, as if all that wasn't enough, I collected essays from my 3 classes last Thursday, and I'd set aside today to read and grade them before returning to class tomorrow. (Remember, I took that little job at the branch; 2 days per week; 3 classes; freshman comp; stash enhancement funding.) And finally, the little ones are unable to go to day care because they are feverish with sinus infections. So they wouldn't exactly be pleasant and fun , as they usually are.

Last week I managed a quick trip to Waynesville's Fabric Shack, for a glorious hour of browsing and touching many, many fabrics. Here is what I bought:

I don't have the foggiest clue what I will make with these fabrics, but I had to get something!! :-)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Next Big Finish

I am so very close to taking the second baby quilt out of the quilt frame! I might even get the final stitches into it before turning in for the night. It would be a hugely satisfying accomplishment, let me tell you.

And, the near-completion on this quilt has led me to begin thinking of the next UFO on my list. Here is the fabric:

I believe it is a combination of Amy Butler and Joel Dewberry fabrics from about 3 years ago. In my UFO list on the right, I am referring to this as Erin's Urban Chic quilt, as it is for my older daughter Erin's Columbus apartment. I have it finished up to the borders. The pattern I used was ... maybe Turning Twenty?? I'm thinking it was a different one, but equally fast and simple. Anyway, here it is:

I should be ashamed of myself for taking so long to finish this quilt. Erin  helped me pick out the fabrics she wanted featured in the borders and on the back. It should have been done at least a year ago. Anyway, as soon as the baby quilt is finished, this is the one I am going to finish up next.

About the quality of my photos...I do not have a photo editing program, so what I've used on this blog so far has been straight out of my camera. I anticipate that in the next week or so I am going to have an editing program, so I will work hard to learn how to use it. Eventually, the quality of my photos should show significant improvement.