Monday, January 31, 2011

January's Gone!

The way time flies so doggone fast just amazes me. It seems absolutely impossible that one whole month of 2011 is behind us already. How does that happen??  In looking back at the month, I surely wish I'd gotten more accomplished, but instead of dwelling on what didn't get done, I prefer to celebrate what I did manage to accomplish!! Always the optimist - that's me!  *grin*

All weekend, whenever I had a few moments to spend in the sewing room, I was working on cutting out these:

That's a ginormous stack of 1 1/2-inch strips of lights and darks for the log cabin blocks that are to border my Dressmaker's Quilt. If you recall, a few weeks back I was having an absolutely terrible time getting the blocks to lay flat and come out square. It was quite discouraging, and when I get that way about a project, I just drop it like a hot potato. (Consequently, we could number several UFOs in my sewing room that have never been finished for this reason!)

But I digress! I questioned some quilter friends, read some quilting books, and did some quilting searches to arm myself with potential remedies. I need 36 of these blocks, and I began with making 6, so those are the ones that were my "tester" blocks. I went ahead and finished those, and have made 2 more this morning, and I am happy to report that they are turning out just fine. My diagnosis: I was pulling too much when pressing, for one thing. The second was my piecing method. Instead of cutting pieces to the exact size and then sewing them together, I am using a chain piecing method (one long strip of fabric, add the centers onto it, one after another,then cut). Does that make sense? I think the seasoned quilters will follow. If not, I will take a pic of what I'm attempting to describe.

In my last post, I shared my finished doll quilt top, Midnight Stars. I mentioned that I had some other doll quilts that I'd never blogged about. Let's take a quick tour, shall we?

Here are 3 doll quilts that I made for my girls back in the late '80s or early '90s. Erin was born in 1985; Emma was born in 1992. I suppose I made them for Erin, and Emma got to play with them as she grew up. They wrapped up lots of dollies over the years.

If memory serves, I think Erin made this. A typical scenario was my finding something to keep her occupied while I got in a little bit of sewing time. The 8  hearts are appliqued with big chunky stitches and raw edges. The binding, too, has big chunky stitches. It's tied, but only in about 4 places. I am so glad I saved this creation. I will have to question the girls to see if indeed, Erin is the maker. I will update with any interesting tidbits I am able to gather.

My grandmother was quite a prolific quilter in her day. She quilted out of necessity for a lot of years, but enjoyed it and continued to quilt up to age 91. She is now 94, and hasn't quilted in 2 or 3 years. She made this little Sunbonnet Sue 2-block doll quilt. Again, I am uncertain if it was given to me for Erin or for Emma. There is some damage on the lower block - no idea what caused it. Grandma made hundreds of quilts and never owned a rotary cutter or mat. She hand-traced and  hand-cut her pieces. Isn't that incredible?!

A quick sidebar, this little wall hanging was in the same bin as the doll quilts. Grandma made each of her great-grandkids either a Sunbonnet Sue or Overall Bill pillow or wall hanging. This is my son's. Grandma made lots of Sues and Bills over the years.

Getting back to doll quilts, this is the one I treasure the most:

My mother made this for me and my sisters when we were girls back in the 60s. It's a whole-cloth, machine quilted treasure, much-loved as you can see from the worn and tattered binding. It hangs in my sewing room.

That concludes my doll quilt history tour.

Have a great February!!!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

And Just Like That...

 . . . we have a doll quilt top finished. And I must say, I totally love it and am so glad to have started off my 2011 with a sweet little project like this. I give you Midnight Stars - A Doll Quilt:

I certainly had no plan to make it - I just happened across it when I was browsing the blogs. What a happy accident!

The background consists of 2 dark blues; I was using scraps. The outer triangles are of one navy; the central squares are of another. The picture makes the difference seem more pronounced than they really are, I think. The flash must have enhanced the differences. No biggie. I am pleased with it, and will decide about quilting it now.
Thanks, Lori!! This has been fun!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bit by Bit Things Get Finished

Sometimes a quilter doesn't get a whole lot of time in the sewing room. Sometimes a quilter finds a project that doesn't require a lot of time in the sewing room. Blessings.  I've finished step 5 of Midnight Stars.

Love, love, love it, don't you? *sigh*

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Midnight Stars - Step 4 Complete

This will be a brief post today. I've finished off the stars for the Midnight Stars doll quilt.

I'm just loving how this is coming together. As I've been sewing, I've been thinking about Lori, the blogger at Humble Quilts, who is hosting this quilt-along. How does one's brain have to be wired to be able to come up with the measurements for quilts this small??? My brain is certainly wired some other which way, that's for sure. There's probably a reason that I excelled in the language arts areas, and not in the mathematical areas.

My hat's off to you, Lori, for making the complex so easily understandable for this math-challenged quilter!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Obsessions, Anyone?

I've been rather preoccupied lately with something other than quilting and piecing.
It's driven me crazy, so I just gave in and worked the daggone thing until I finished it. Took me about 2 weeks, I'm guessing. I was even having dreams of this thing!

Here's a real problem. . .

The pen is pointing to a missing piece. I don't remember leaving a piece on the floor - I tried to be really careful! But if one got away from me, then I'm blaming Gracie, our cat, with pouncing on it - if that's the case, then I will need to start pulling furniture out because she could have batted it into countless places. Maybe it wasn't in the package, but I really think it's in this house somewhere.

DD Erin gave me this puzzle as a Christmas gift. I nearly didn't open it; the very thought of tackling it was daunting. But, it was a gift from my little girl! (in her 20s, but still...) So I did it, not knowing how obsessed it would make me!

Do a little research on Jackson Pollock. I'm no art critic, but I think we have drop cloths in the garage that look just as artistic as this.

So, now it's done, and I can get back to what will result in something a bit more substantial - quilts!! Here is my step 3 for Lori's/Humble Quilts doll quilt-along called Midnight Stars. I am prepared to do step 4 tonight or tomorrow.

My entire efforts on this doll quilt, steps 1, 2, and 3. I cannot believe I am working with such tiny pieces. Thankfully, it's a doll quilt; I'd be just as obsessed as that puzzle made me if it were any bigger!

Have a great Monday, quilters!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Birthdays and Stash Enhancement

Here's an invitation for you! Come on in and fondle the fabric I have acquired lately.

Saturday was my birthday, and like true quilting friends, one ingenious girlfriend, Kay, gave me a gift wrapped in fabric, and tied with a bias strip bow. Now how cool is that? (Inside the package was a really cool serving dish made out of a melted-down wine bottle, complete with the cork!)

Another friend, Sherrie, gave me an assortment of supplies.

Yesterday was Terry's birthday. She and Sheryll and I took the day to go quilt shop shopping in Columbus. One shop, Quilt Beginnings, gives a discount off fabric cut from the bolt to shoppers who come in within 7 days of their birthday. I bought two fabrics:

This is a 3-yard cut of a Jennifer Paganelli line called Queen Street. I  have no plan for this, but it seemed to want to come home with me . . .

. . . as did this 1-yard cut from a company I've never heard of before-Riley Blake Designs.

Another shop we visited was Red Rooster, where I held a very valuable coupon--20 FQs for $40. They're regularly priced at $2.79, so I saved a tidy little sum. Here's my take:

A lovely assortment of Civil War fabrics--some Joe Morton, some Nancy Gere, some Judie Rothermel, some others that I can't remember.

Now, don't think for a moment that we're done! I have also done some online shopping . . .

I just could not resist getting a few yards of La Petite Ecole by French General.

I should have rotated the pic, but it's still the same fabric...Barbara Brackman's Morris Tapestry.

And since I can't seem to get enough Civil War reproduction fabric, I increased my stash with some Embers, Reds and Evergreens by Jo Morton.

Can you feel the lusciousness?? I've petted and fondled it quite a bit. I hope you've enjoyed the party!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bits and Pieces

At the moment, I don't seem to have the mental capacity to handle a huge, involved project, so I have been working on smaller, less taxing ones. Is it a mood thing? Is it partly due to an extremely cluttered workspace that prohibits major jobs? Is it knowing that a few UFOs ought to be finished before starting something new? Yes. Yes. And yes.

Here is my progress on the Midnight Stars doll quilt I'm doing with Lori's Humble Quilts quilt-along.

Here is a long-buried UFO that I worked on at the quilting get-together this moring at Terry's. (Gosh, I love our bi-weekly sessions. We can gab away 3 hours faster than anything!)

This is a project I've hand-pieced entirely out of my stash. I wish I could say with certainty how long ago I began making these blocks - 4 years ago? 5? more? Anyway, I have 54 blocks, and I think I'm gonna stop. I will lay them out on the bed and if they come anywhere close to looking okay, I will stitch them together and begin adding borders until I get it to an acceptable size. It's been on my UFO list for far too long!!

I will be getting back to those darned log cabin blocks in the next day or so. I've got a few commitments over the long MLK weekend, though. So it might be Tuesday before I'm back!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hinky Happenings on 1.11.11

We are a family who really likes the show NCIS - on every Tuesday at 8 on CBS. One character on that show is Abby, the brainy, goth scientist on the team. 

A word Abby uses when evidence just isn't adding up is "hinky." Well, I've had some "hinky" things going on today in my sewing room as I've been making log cabin blocks. Take a look at these blocks.

They are anything but square - if my high school geometry serves me correctly, I believe the word polygon might apply. The more strips I added, the wonkier they became. Just look at the wavy edges on this bad boy.

I swear, honest! I cut the strips exactly the size that was called for. So, log cabin whiz kids, what's going on? Does it have anything to do with cutting on the crosswise or lengthwise grain? That's my first guess. So, anyway, I don't know whether to go ahead with the rest or start over. I need 36 to make the border on my Dressmaker's Quilt; I made 6 "hinky" ones today.

I've mentioned the Dressmaker's Quilt in several blogs, so I really ought to identify it better. The pattern is by Terry Clothier Thompson, and it makes a 90" square quilt. Here is the picture from her homepage.

Another little bit of work I did today was to make another North Star block for the Civil War Quilt that I've been doing. No wonkiness here!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Two Blog Projects

In an effort to get back into the swing of blogging, I've found 2 projects being featured on other blogs that have piqued my interest - and consequently, I'm participating.

One, I've already mentioned: the Civil War Quilt hosted by noted quilt historian, author and designer Barbara Brackman. The first block was called Catch Me If You Can. I made 2 of this block; here is my second version of this block - the one I hand-pieced.

The other one, pictured a few days ago, was machine-pieced.

The second block in the Civil War Quilt project is North Star. I might make a second one of this block, too, as the featured block on Brackman's blog uses 3 fabrics, instead of the 2 that I've used. Here is my finished block:

The second project is from Lori's blog, Humble Quilts. I've followed her blog for a long time. In fact, last year she hosted a doll quilt quilt-along called Cheddar Cheese and Crackers, which was lots of fun to make.

This year, she's doing another doll quilt called Midnight Stars. It's quite stunning, with it's colorful red and cheddar pieces sprinkled through the blue background. I'm happy to report that I am caught up and ready for the 2nd installment of instructions with my tiny half-square triangles all pressed and trimmed.

Take a look at the fabrics I've pulled for this doll quilt project. I hope I will be pleased with how they come together; the blues are very similar, so that concerns me a bit.

Now, there is a 3rd blog event that seems like it's going to be fun, and also there are giveaways for lucky followers. It's called the Be Mine Blog Tour, in honor of Valentine's Day. The bloggers involved are featuring a simple project - or a couple of them! - and also sponsoring a giveaway. So, if the wintery weather and c-c-cold temps are keeping you indoors, you might check out these little diversions.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Sputtering Start

Thanks to a rather aggressive head cold, 2011 is getting off to a sputtering start for me! I had hoped to be well into the process of making the log cabin border blocks for my Dressmaker's Quilt. Alas, I've not even dug out the fabrics yet!

Here is my center part of said quilt. I worked on it so diligently in early December. It was an obsession, actually.  It was so much fun to make. Each fabric is one that I bought, some ages ago and some quite recently. I used one fabric from my mother's stash - I remember that we had kitchen curtains out of it! (Or was it an apron? Maybe both!) Also, there is a fabric in there that was a blouse I wore the night of our rehearsal dinner, 31+ years ago!  I am looking forward to getting those borders on. This will hopefully be my first finish of the new year.

Hopefully, the head cold/sinus pressure/sore throat/stuffy nose symptoms will ease up today or tomorrow. All I want to do is sleep!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Catch Me If You Can

Getting back into the sewing/quilting groove has been a bit of a process for me. Since finishing up the last gift project around 6pm on Christmas Eve, I've only entered the sewing room to iron a shirt and hide some clutter!

Too much other stuff needed my attention: Christmas cooking and baking; Christmas/New'Year's hostessing;  and bowling - the Sugar Bowl variety - GO BUCKS! - I just had to put sewing on the back burner for a week or two.

Oh what a thriller that game was!! I was a nervous wreck!! I was multi-tasking with some hand-piecing, but did not get much done because the game was so exciting!!

What was I piecing??? Well, remember back on the first of January, I mentioned finding the Civil War quilt blog of Barbara Brackman; this piqued my interest! I thought to myself that I could stitch this block by hand while watching the Buckeyes, so I rummaged through a few drawers, found fabrics that pleased me, and went to work on "Catch Me If You Can." Here is an unpressed, in progress photo...

I was not overly pleased with the way it was turning out, so I cut out another set of triangles, and this morning put a block together on the machine. I do like it.

I will finish the hand-pieced block, but I might "unsew" a few stitches in the process.

Here is the link to Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilts blog.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Getting Started on a New Year

I've spent a bit of time catching up with quilting blogs that I once followed faithfully, but in my recent funk, have lost track of. (This retired English teacher knows that sentence is terribly convoluted!)

In that catching up process, I discovered something that I think sounds like a lot of fun from Barbara Brackman. She has always appealed to me in that she is such a devoted historian. The traditional quilts have always been my favorites, and for a long, long time, those were all I would ever consider making. I also have an immense interest in reproduction fabrics, so my stash is well-stocked with them. I learned that Ms. Brackman is beginning a new project, the Civil War quilt. I think I will attempt to make the weekly blocks.

A quick follow-up to my previous post:
I found another picture of my Hourglass Quilt - it's a close-up of the border fabric. The hourglass blocks become so monotonous, and I am really happy with the "zing" added by the feathery outer border. Many of you seasoned quilters will likely recognize the fabric. I suppose I've had it for 8 or 10 years. It's been waiting patiently in the stash for just this quilt.

Here are some other things I've worked on in recent months:
Mug Mats or Candle Mats. I made about 20 of these in a variety of blues, greens, reds and creams/golds. The pattern came from a Thimbleberries book from several years ago. Most were given as gifts. I grouped 4 together and gave them with a set of 4 Christmas mugs, or I gave a single one with a candle. All seem to have been appreciated.

Another Thimbleberries creation - a Christmas tablecloth. I bought a fat quarter pack of Christmas prints earlier in the fall, and on a whim, when I finished my mug mats, this pattern caught my eye, so I made it! In this picture, the back and front haven't been sewn together yet, but I love the results. And soooo easy! A bunch of 6.5-inch squares attached to a 42-inch square of off-white. I ask you, what could be easier?

One more pic of Christmas before it becomes old news:
My "grandcat," Rocky, posed for a Christmas portrait. Isn't he a pretty boy? I think you will also note the lovely backdrop: my red and beige churn dash quilt, which serves as a tree skirt. It was hand-pieced by me, and hand-quilted by my Grandma. I think DD Erin should use this pic as her Christmas card for next year, what do you think?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 1.1.11!

I know! If anyone out there actually remembers this blog, then I hope you've not fallen off your chair! Sorry for surprising you like this, but I thought maybe I would attempt to start up the blogging again. My last post was in June! "Goodness gracious sakes alive!" as my mother would say.

While I've been missing in the blogging realm, I have not been missing from the sewing room. Here is one quilt top I've worked on. It is a Thimbleberries design called "Hour Glass." I was glassy-eyed by the time I got all those triangles sewn, pressed and assembled, let me tell you.
What do you think of the border? I am really pleased with it, and think those feathers really make a stunning statement. I followed through on one of my 2010 resolutions to use only fabrics from my existing stash. I am very pleased with my finished top. It's getting added to the pile of quilt tops I'm amassing as I attempt to justify a "someday" purchase of a long-arm.

This is a picture of my friend Terry's quilt called "Dressmaker's Quilt." Isn't it gorgeous??? I love it so much that I borrowed her pattern, and am making one of my own! I have the center portion finished. I had to put it away for the Christmas holidays. I am ready to begin those log cabin border blocks. Of course this is another quilt that I was able to stick to that stash-use only resolution. YAY!!

So, I guess I'm back for blogging. I really can't explain why I lost interest in it for so long. And I'm not entirely "gung-ho" on it now, really. If anyone has any words of wisdom, I'd sure like to hear it. Do bloggers get into funks like this?