Sunday, January 31, 2010

Finishing Strong in January

January is over! My, that sure was fast. I've ended the month getting a lot of sewing completed on the Broken Dishes blocks. Rather than to describe it all, pictures will do...
Squares are placed right sides together and a diagonal line is drawn - to guide 1/4-in. stitching and for cutting.

Next, I complete the quarter-square blocks. Another diagonal line has to be drawn. It is a big job when so many are needed.
After pressing the blocks open, arrange them in a pleasing arrangement to be sewn. You might be able to see the clear 12"-square ruler under there. After pressing, I have been putting them on the ruler to transport them from ironing board to sewing machine.

Here is my growing stack of broken dishes blocks. All Kaffe Fassett fabrics, as it's a pattern featured in  his book, Kaleidscope of Quilts.

These blocks are laid out on my kitchen counter. That blue one in the upper left is what the border is made of - larger quarter-squares than the interior. I am about half  done with all the interior blocks. I don't have any great driving urge to have this done quickly, so it's hard to say if I will stay at this for awhile or not. I may, or I may get motivated to do some other project. If that occurs, I will at some point come back to continue working on this.

Do any of you blogger friends work with such little purpose? I think I ought to get more done, and I probably would if I had more drive and determination. Oh well...

Marathon Session

Friday, yesterday, was about as perfect a day as a quilter can have. My excellent friend Sharon took a personal day to spend at my house. What did we do? We quilted! Our marathon quilting is something we have done before, and we always wonder why we don't do it more often. That bond between best friends is so special, but when you add the love of quilting to that friendship, well, special hardly describes how wonderful the day was.

Sharon still works full time and is especially busy this year with new classes to teach in the high school and two evening classes at the university. Because of her grueling schedule, her desire was to sew without having to think about it. Her choice was to machine quilt a UFO (several years old, she said) - a wall hanging that she wants to put in her bedroom. Stitch-in-the-ditch doesn't really require much more than concentration to sew straight; so it perfectly fit her needs.

To finish her wall hanging, Sharon used masking tape to stitch straight line out to the edge. Again, requires very little thought. Here is her finished wall hanging. She thought she'd just pull the back round to the front to bind it, but decided she wouldn't be happy with the final look. There's just a hint of red in this quilt, and she really thinks the binding has to be red, as well.
So, that is what Sharon accomplished. Isn't it pretty? It's a blended quilt. Very floral and the red is striking in its placement.

My day was spent working on the Broken Dishes quilt by Kaffe Fassett - with Kaffe fabrics, of course. I had a bunch of quarter-square units prepared...
And I turmed them into these...
The pattern requires 42 inner blocks - smaller pieced broken dishes blocks. In the foreground my one border block shows how much larger those blocks will be- and simpler to make!

Lots more to do, but so, so, so glad to get to work on this with Sharon's company on a marathon day!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Progress on Cheddar Cheese and Crackers

Working a bit in the evenings, I have managed to finish nearly all the cheddar blocks for this darling doll quilt.
Having a lot of fun putting these together, and looking forward to adding the 4-patch blocks.  While I have done all stitching so far by hand, I will likely do the 4-patch blocks by machine.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Quilt Group

Quilting just naturally lends itself to groups. Just how long have there been quilting bees, I ask you?

In a curious twist of fate back in June, I made the reacquaintance with a quilting friend from about 20 years ago. At that time, she was co-owner of a quilt shop in a town we frequently found ourselves passing through. In the course of reminiscing, she invited me to join her little group of quilting friends for a Friday morning get-together they have every-other week.

I accepted her invitation, and have come to find great joy in the hours spent with this little group. In addition to our Friday mornings, we have taken a couple of outings to quilt shops around Ohio, we had a day-long sewing marathon, and one of the girls had all of us and our husbands over for a dinner party.

The initials of our last names spells out "CHHOW."  A good name for a group, yes indeed.

On Friday, we had the following "show and tell."

This is Terry's quilt, which she made for her daughter.

JoAnn showed off this beauty. Notice her piano key boarder.

And Sheryll had this to share with us. I regret that I didn't get a picture of Sharon's little wall hanging.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cheddar Cheese Doll Quilt

I have thrown away scraps that are bigger than the pieces I am now stitching!

The allure of Lori's (Humble Quilts) precious doll quilt had me upstairs going through the stash, pulling a boatload of fabrics. I enventually found myself cutting a 1 7/8-inch square diagonally. Do you know how small that is??? That is a teensy-tiny  peice! So small that I couldn't even see myself sitting at the sewing machine to make these blocks. For me, hand-piecing is the only way to go when pieces are so small.

I have not enhanced these pics with PhotoShop, so you're seeing them as my camera saw them.)

So, I hunkered down, fully expecting these to be quite a bear to piece, but guess what?! It's easy! I couldn't believe how quickly I got my first block finished.

So, I am happily picking up needle and thread whenever a moment presents itself. This is the beauty of hand-piecing -- a seamstress can do it in the family room, socialize with loved ones, watch tv, or fill a few extra minutes while waiting on the roast to finish or the dryer to buzz. I am going to get a bunch of squares ready to sew and take them with me to the Friday morning quilt group get-together that I've joined. (This group really needs to have a name...)

I am also working on a back for a quilt that has long needed to get to the longarm gal. Plus, tomorrow begins the Ben Franklin sale, at which time I intend to buy 8.5 yard to back my Snowflake at Dusk quilt.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Decisions, Decisions - and a Few Loose Ends

What will I work on next? Now that the Snowflake at Dusk quilt top is finished, I am in a quandary as to what to focus on next.

I ought to get the backs ready for 2 quilts that have been waiting to go to the long arm quilt lady.

I ought to finish those 2 pillow tops. I intend to give these to 2 friends who have barn quilts.

I ought to make a bag for my laptop and one for Erin, too, while I'm at it.

I ought to start one of those charity quilts I agreed to make for the James Cancer Center at Ohio State.

I ought to go back to cleaning up and re-organizing my sewing room. I was on a roll a couple of nights ago, but now I am sputtering out of the mood.

My indecisiveness will be the end of me, honestly. I must get my act together if I am to use up the stash the way I hope to!

Instead, do you  know what I think I want to start? The darling little cheddar cheese doll quilt that Lori over at Humble Quilts is demonstrating. It finishes to 24" square, so it shouldn't take too long to complete it, right? And it would be great fun to select the variety of fabrics. And what's retirement for if not for cutting loose and doing something on the spur of the moment?? And wouldn't it be sweet if I made 2, one each for the twin nieces to play with when they come to Aunt Jayne's house?

Okay, I've talked myself into it!

The loose ends portion of this post is to add a  pic that should have been included in yesterday's post. My 2nd picture yesterday was of the snowflake block in its setting or alternate blocks. I should also have included a picture of the fabric used in the half-square and corner-square triangle blocks that surrounded the center. This outer edge was paisley, as well, and it complimented perfectly, IMO, the navy paisley in the pieced blocks.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Snowflakes at Dusk

Ta-daaa!! I finished a quilt top!

Yep, you heard me. I did. I finished it. The Snowflake quilt top is complete!

I won't be earning any awards for overachieving or industriousness. Dragging out projects is a particular specialty of mine. I can procrastinate better than just about anyone around, but I did actually get my snowflake quilt top finished yesterday! An accomplishment!!

This is one GI-NORMOUS quilt!! It measures 96x114! It requires 8.5 yards for backing. I hope to buy that at Ben Franklin next week when they are having their 30% off sale. I looked over the selection today when I was there, and I found a couple fabrics that will work very nicely with my quilt.

This quilt is going to be especially memorable for me. It is the first quilt made in retirement. I began it at the very end of October '09 after several months of focusing entirely on finishing off several UFOs.  Eventually, though, one gets really tired of UFOs and I was so ready to start a new project!! This is it!

When I retired, I knew I would focus on making a lot of quilts. (Considering the enormity of my stash, it is pretty much a given!) I made a rule for myself: use as much of the existing stash as possible. It would be a challenge, but it was necessary, really. The rule wouldn't be steadfast, but I would try to adhere to it as much as possible.

So I decided on my pattern, Thimbleberries Patchwork Snowflake. I then had to make decisions on fabrics, a particularly fun part of the process. Instead of following the pattern's suggestion to make the snowflake blocks in a variety of fabrics, I opted to go for one really appealing paisley fabric. The neutral I chose to compliment it with was darker than the typical neutral. At this early stage of planning I also selected a different neutral to use for the alternate blocks. I was not entirely thrilled with it, but in keeping with my plan to use up the stash, I would be satisfied with it.

In an earlier post, I described the creative use of blue paisley. I was roughly a quarter yard short of what I needed, so I ended up sewing scraps together to get pieces large enough to use on the last 2 or 3 blocks. It slowed me down A LOT, but now that I'm past it, I am glad I stayed with the plan.

In the weeks I spent sewing the blocks, I came upon an end-of-the-bolt sale. This was the kind of situation that warrants breaking the rule to use from the stash. Lucky, lucky, lucky find: a bolt with enough for the alternate blocks as well as the backing. Well, after cutting the alternate blocks and the inner border, I discovered that I would be short 1 yard for backing. Oh, well, I've come this far, a suitable back will be found.

This close up shot of one block shows the 3 main fabrics more clearly. Because the neutrals are so dark, I've named this quilt "Snowflakes at Dusk." I have it scheduled to go to the longarm quilter next week.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dealing with Setbacks

I have a long and consistent history of NOT dealing with setbacks. My sewing room shelves are full of projects which ran into any of a variety of roadblocks. Instead of dealing with them, I just put them away; a setback presents a bigger problem than I am willing to face, apparently.

One such project is a quilt I was making in '06 for my daughter-in-law, and now she's not my d-i-l anymore. What do I do with that UFO? I stopped working on it because I sewed about 80 2-piece units together backwards, so rather than begin the stitch removal process, I just packed it away -- out of sight, out of mind.

Another is one that I was hand-piecing. I really enjoy handwork, but I ran out of one of the fabrics (it is a 2-color quilt). I put the project away until I was able to locate more fabric. After a lengthy search, I did find the fabric I needed, but by that time, I'd forgotten the measurements of the pieces I needed. So, I continued to ignore it. I did eventually work on it, but then some other bump in the road popped up. I have so many blocks finished on this project, it is really a crime that I haven't made myself finish it. I will, I will. I promise!

So the current project, the Patchwork Snowflake, has presented some roadblocks, and I am forcing myself to keep my focus on finishing it anyway! I am determined to do it. The problem that was most challenging was that I was short by about 1/4 yard on the blue paisley used in the pieced blocks. I went through the trash and sewed some tiny discarded scraps together in order to get the final 3 blocks made. Her are a couple of photos of the "creative" piecing.

I hated the very thought of doing all this crazy salvaging of scraps, and I could so easily have chucked the whole thing into a storage tub. Whatever made me work through the adversity? I think it was the satisfaction of being able to see it through to the finish. Plus, this quilt represents the first new project of retirement. I spent the first 5 months of retirment focused on finishing UFOs. At the end of October, I began this and I was so excited to be doing it! It's a landmark quilt for me, and it has to be completed. If I don't, I set myself up for wasting my freedom! Don't want that, do I?

I am so close to having the top entirely pieced. Hopefully, tomorrow's post will feature a picture of the completed top. I have not decided on border fabrics yet. That presents a potential setback, but I think I am going to be able to overcome it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Shop Hopping in Jacksonville

Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, I made two trips to Jacksonville, Florida, to see my son, a sailor at Naval Air Station. He'd wrecked his car, and needed his mom which necessitated the first trip. The second trip was to deliver a truck to him that my brother had sold him.

Anyway, in the free time I had on the first trip, I found 3 quilt shops very close to my hotel. Below are pics of 2 of the shops. The third was called The Old Green Door (or something like that) and I was totally enthralled with it!! Exactly the kind of shop I could spend many hours in, and many dollars, too! Below those is a pic of the fabric purchases.

This is the interior of a really nice restaurant Adam suggested that is within walking distance of his house. (*Primi Piatti on Park Street. Added after I found my receipt.)  It had a very upscale menu, but the feel of the place was very comfortable and unpretentious. I need to find out the name. We had delicious meals with fabulous service and the establishment had great ambiance.

This is the base where Adam is a Medical Corpsman.

And this is dear, goofy Adam, dressed for work and looking quite spiffy.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Back in Business!

Playing around with a new computer is fun, but I am definitely a slow learner when it comes to technology, so getting my pictures out of my camera and into my laptop was a process. I learned that is called uploading (I can never remember the difference between upload and download). Anyhoo, the pics are in the laptop, and I assume that when I get ready to add one here in a bit, I will be able to perform the task. I think I am back in business. Whew!

For Christmas I received a few quilting-related items. One friend gave a little grab-bag of assorted goodies, while another added a ruler and a deck of Ricky Tims cards to her gift of wool socks. Here are the items, combined:

The pretty little thing with flowers and button centers is a needle book that a third quilt friend made. It is sweet in its simplicity, and I actually needed a needle book.

One of the really wonderful things to happen to me in 2009 was meeting up with a distant acquaintance quite by accident, and being invited to join her small group of quilters. She and 4 other gals meet every other Friday morning to sit and stitch. Upon learning I had just retired, she invited me to come join them. That was in July, and I have been with them ever since. The location rotates from kitchen table to kitchen table. The other three ladies have become brand new friends, and I am truly enjoying this group.

At our last meeting, the hostess asked us if we'd be interested in quilting for charity. She offered us the choice of any fabrics in her closet stash and had several simple quilt patterns copied for us. I selected 2 patterns and 2 fabric groupings. We are going to try to have these done in 2 or 3 months. I'm really sketchy on the details, and I really should get this straight...the exact charity; the exact finish deadline; does finish mean to a top or a totally quilted quilt? I will definitely need to confirm these details. At any rate, here are the 2 sets of fabrics I selected for the 2 I volunteered to make.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Computer: A Laptop, Finally!


Finally, my computer woes will be going, going, gone! My desktop died on Thanksgiving weekend, and here we are after New Year's and I have just now become a laptop owner. Pretty cool, and I am pumped! It's been a long wait, but I definitely studied them carefully before deciding on this one.

I hope I will be satisfied with it. I am still setting up the basics, but hope to be able to have my camera unloaded on here before too long. Then we will be viewing quilt-related pics as opposed to these "canned" images.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Buckeyes Win!

Is it cool to let my sports love overlap into my quilt love?

My Buckeyes win the Rose Bowl over the Oregon Ducks! OH! IO!

Happy New Year!

I am so pumped to make 2010 a great year. I am heading upstairs to my sewing room with the plan of making some order out of the chaos. While at it, I will make a mental list of the projects I hope to accomplish this year. I will have a pleasant mix of full-size quilts with wall hangings, traditional and contemporary; Christmas, and 2-color quilts, which I love. So, here's to getting a new year off to a great, productive start!