Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day Quilting

How cool is it to get an extra day this month for quilting? I am going to try to get in some quality sewing time this evening. I need to be making faster progress on a quilt that I'm making for friend Terry's guild mystery quilt class. I'm using some really luscious blues from my Kaffe Fassett and Westminster Fibers stash.

Wanna' take a peek? Dumb question; of course you do! Who can resist those blues?

I do love working with Westminster's blues . . . I made 2 blue quilts last summer, and added another in multi-florals of all colors after that.

I can never remember the name of the quilt I'm making for Terry. I will report in as I make some progress.

Spent the biggest part of today at Grandma's - still cleaning our kitchen cupboards and drawers. I brought home a few treasures today: a measuring cup she's had since my mother was a baby, some carving and paring knives, a crock and other miscellaneous utensils like spatulas, ladles and slotted spoons.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Frienzies and Argentinian Fabric

My friend and former teaching colleague Pam recently returned from a trip with her DH to Argentina. Their daughter is currently studying there this quarter as part of her requirements for a Spanish major from THE Ohio State University. They used this trip as both an opportunity to see their daughter and also a chance to see some very exotic places! I think they loved it, however Pam is not sure she is chomping at the bit to go back, while her DH says he would. Anyway, about the fabric...

A quick bit of background: All the Frienzies got together on Saturday afternoon for our monthly catching-up-and-staying-connected get-together, and ALL of us attended!! Our friendship goes way, way back. We seven gals all taught together at CHS, and shared the same lunch period for years. We made lunch an event!! We would even work to arrange a scheduling change if one of us happened to get scheduled for a different lunch period! Devoted, indeed! Sometimes that worked, but sometimes not.

As the years marched on, one by one we had retirees. First Kay, then Sherrie. We rarely got to see those two, and I for one, missed having them as a regular part of my life! At some point, we agreed that we should work to stay close, and the idea for a once-a-month dinner or lunch at a local restaurant idea was born. Eventually, we had a couple more retirements - me and Lyn. Then Pam. Then Sharon. Now only Susan and Hettie are still teaching, and Hettie switched from CHS to another local school district, Southeastern. So we really are scattered now! Even after all this time, however, we still make every effort to meet once a month, at which time we celebrate our continued friendship. It's incredible how we seem to just pick up right where we left off; like not even a day as passed since our last visit. I just love these girls!

Ok, so back to the fabric...Pam, knowing that we are all quilters and seamstresses, brought back 1-mitre cuts of 7 different fabrics as souvenirs from her Argentinian trip. She laid them all out together and told us to pick! Oh how I wish I'd had the foresight to photograph all of them together!! They were all so colorful. Perhaps over time, I can snap some shots of the others' fabrics as they turn them into projects. I can, however, show you the fabric I selected.

The minute I saw it, I knew this would make cool cushions for my screened-in porch. I made a bunch last year, but one can never have too many, right? The yellow is very soft - like a buttery yellow. The blues are varied in pleasing colorations. It will be perfect. Now, this Argentinian fabric is not 100% cotton fabric. The feel of it is very different. We all wondered if it is made there, or if it is imported, and if so, from where?

The fabric drapes very nicely, like you would want a skirt to drape. I am certain this is not 100% cotton, but it could be a blend of cotton and polyester. Regardless, it is neat to have some international fabric in the stash, and I already have a plan for it, so it won't have to sit in the stash forever and a day.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Good Monday Morning!

Oh my goodness, what an absolutely beautiful day we are having here in southern Ohio! The mild winter is giving us April days in February, and it is wonderful! I am planning to get in a 2-mile walk later this afternoon. Doesn't that sound refreshing?

Today would normally find me quilting with Sharon P, but she is sick, doggone it! I was with her on Saturday evening and she was coming down with something, then. Get well soon, my friend! I am going to be sewing all by myself today.

On Friday, the Frankfort quilty girls came for some stitching. JoAnn was absent, but the remaining 4  had a nice visit over sticky rolls and coffee. Here are the projects we worked on.

Sheryll stitched this applique basket for a really pretty quilt she's working on. Here's the pattern:

I should have written down the name and date of the magazine, but I regretfully did not. This is quite an appealing quilt to me, and even though I tend to avoid applique quilts, I think I would like to try a black, beige, gold and tan color combination. Those churn dash blocks are pretty and would pair nicely with 9-patches, also in this quilt. I could just eliminate the appliqued baskets, perhaps?? Well, I love this quilt in these colors, nonetheless, and Sheryll's work is always neat as a pin.

ADDED LATER: a wonderful pay-it-forward kind of thing! AnnieO left a comment identifying the magazine! McCall's Quilting, September/October 2010. Annie is actually also working on this very same project and has it pictured on her blog, here! How's that for synchronicity?

Terry continued working on her needlework from the last several get-togethers. The project is a month-by-month affair; this (obviously) is for February.

A quick side note - Terry, bless her heart, is doing the quilting for me on the flannel quilt we are giving to Alexis, the young cancer patient I've recently been blogging about. Aren't friends just the greatest?? Read about Alexis here and her see quilt, here.

Sharon O. was doing some hand-piecing, and I love, love, love the yellow and blue combination of colors.

Sharon, help! I don't think I recall what this is going to become! Did we even talk about that? I am really going to have to start writing things down; my memory just goes blank sometimes.

Above is a recently finished wall hanging that Sharon showed us. It was a kit purchase made in the 80s or 90s, she said. Some of you will recognize that red plaid from your own work from that era, correct? I sure do. And I imagine I've still got a bit of that fabric up in my stash, as well. Anyway, Sharon was in the mood to get some UFO projects crossed off her to-do list. Way to go!

I continued hand-piecing the little doll quilt called Pink Lemonade that I began in January when Lori at Humble Quilts put up her annual quilt-along. Most of those who participated have finished theirs and shown their work weeks ago, but I just put the final stitches into my quilt top this morning.

This is the 3rd doll quilt I've done with Humble Quilts. Cheddar and Crackers was from early 2010; Midnight Stars was from early 2011. Now I have Pink Lemonade for early 2012. I love 'em!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Sweet Little Change Purse

Are you suffering from TPA? It's the newest epidemic spreading across the country, and my illness began last July. TPA, Total Pinterest Addiction, grabs the unsuspecting victim in its clutches and continues to lure her (or him) back for more and more and more.

 One of my favorite and often-used pinboards I've labeled 'Potential DIYs.' The number of ideas I've gathered there has grown so fast that there can't possibly be enough time to make/do all of them. It's sorta' like that stash of quilt fabric upstairs - more fabric there than time enough to make that many quilts.

That doesn't prevent me, nonetheless, from pinning more ideas to this board. And, every now and then, I get psyched to make some of the ideas, and today just happened to be one of those days. This is the beauty of Pinterest. I knew exactly where to look for a little gift item I need for an upcoming birthday. I really like the idea of giving a homemade gift, too, one that is nicer than ordinary. So this caught my eye, and I proceeded to buckle down and whip it up. What do you think?

I pictured it with my rotary cutter to give perspective on the size. The zipper opens into a pocket for change, or keys, or business cards, and the like.

Then, there's the snap-shut opening at the top.

I dismantled a carpenter's metal tape measure, and cut 5" lengths of the "tape" to use as the closures. The pattern called for tape that was 3/4" wide, but I could not find that in town, so I bought one that was 1/2" wide. Mine is probably not as strong as it would have been with the wider tape, but it still closes. Kinda' cool, actually!

It easily hold my Blackberry. In addition, it's roomy enough that I could insert a little notepad and more, if desired. I'm really pleased with the results. I'm taking it to book club tonight to get some feedback on it. I hope the girls there will give me honest critiques and suggestions on my little purse.

Added later: Requests have been made for the link to this pattern.

How's winter been where you live? Everyone here in Ohio has marveled about how mild ours has been. I can hear spring birds chirping in the backyard some mornings, and our crocuses, tulips and daffodils are all up and the crocuses are even blooming! This morning, a really strange thing happened in the woods to the east of our house. From safe in the confines of my quiet home, I could hear a loud cacophony - and when I went to investigate, I discovered that a huge flock of starlings had swooped in for a visit. I went out with the camera to try to get a picture of the swarm, but they were simply not interested in moving. They were, however, interested in noisemaking! Ohmygoodness!! What a racket! It was, indeed, quite a sight, one that I'll not soon forget. They did eventually move on, thankfully. I wouldn't want them taking up residence out there - the noise would be unbearable.

The picture probably doesn't adequately illustrate the incredible number of birds in these woods, and I sure wish I could share that racket with you! On second thought, be glad you can't hear it - no pretty songbirds here! Just noise - incessant noise!

The Frankfort quilty girls come here tomorrow morning! I ought to be running the sweeper and clearing away my sewing mess!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

USPS Delivers!

Saturday's mail delivered a real homerun - a giveaway prize I won recently arrived all the way from Leeds, UK.

Sue Abrey, aka Quilt Sue, is both the author of this book and the author of a wonderful blog, Quilt Times. She and I have followed each other for awhile now, and we are working together to host the Lone Star Quilt Along.

But I digress! She had a little give-away, like I said, and I was the lucky winner! Isn't it great? Getting Sue's book was on my Christmas list, but Santa didn't come through for me. Santa Sue did, though!!

And, in true Santa fashion, Sue added an extra-special bonus in her package! I'm just loving this quilted journal cover!

Pretty, isn't it? I wonder if I have pretty enough thoughts to write in such a fine journal? I just love stuff like this. When I taught English at CHS, my students journaled every day. Writing is something our kids just didn't do often enough, so I made sure they did a bit each day. They weren't particularly thrilled with this activity, but we did it anyway.

Ah, there I go again, digressing. Sue wrote a lovely sentiment inside both the journal and her quilt book.

Thanks, Sue! You're the best!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Much to Cover

Since I have been rather a slug about posting in recent days, I appear to have a full agenda today. Here we go!

Item 1: On Monday, Sharon came over for sewing. She brought 3 newly finished quilt tops with her! My, my! Has she been productive! Take a look.

The light-colored one is from an old Thimbleberries book - the original is pictured as a navy and tan shower curtain. Big pieces + big blocks = fast quilt. Nice. The darker one is similar, but from a different book. The one on the foot stool is another Thimbleberries pattern, which I've pictured in an earlier post. Isn't this an impressive display? Gracie thought so; she made a beeline to them to test them by walking and "wallering" in them.

Yes, I'm talking about you!

Item 2: The purpose of our sewing on this day was to construct the flannel quilt for Alexis, our former student undergoing cancer surgery and chemo treatment. I had my stack of 6.5" squares and Sharon brought hers. We laid it all out on the front room floor, tinkered around with it a bit to get the randomness just right (does that make it less random???), sprinkled in a few 4-patch blocks for variety, and stitched 'er up! The speedy, Eleanor Burns method really favors one seamstress on the job to prevent mix ups (and Sharon and I would SURELY get mixed up!), so while Sharon sewed, I cut borders and made more 4-patches. Later, I sewed the borders on and here it is!

Again, color issues. I hang these quilts out on the screened porch to get natural sunlight. However, only the top half looks "natural." Our porch has more screens than walls, but the washed out part is (I think) from the shadows cast by the short walls. Anyway, the colors at the top are truer than those at the bottom of the photo. The only newly purchased fabric here is the solid pink inner border (and a few inner blocks). I found it on the flat-fold table at Ben Franklin, drastically reduced. I was looking for backing flannel, which I found, and that was purchased, as well. Looking now for a quilter.

Item 3: I spent a few hours Wednesday at Grandma's house, helping her clean out a cupboard. Mostly, we trashed old household records from 1993-2008. Whew! What an organized lady my grandma is! We had a great time just chatting and visiting. She gets a bit lonely, at times. Even though much family lives near and she's checked on daily, she says the days get awful long when there's no one to talk to. I am going to take the old documents to be shredded, so she doesn't have to sit over her little shredder. She was dreading that job! I would be, too! In putting away things afterwards, she handed over this old quilt to me.

Grandma could not remember any particular history on this quilt. She said she does not know who made it. A woman gave it to her because she knew Grandma quilted. Grandma said her plan was to cover it with fabric, using it as batting in a coverlet that she would have tied. It is terribly worn. I would guess that most of the fabrics are feed sacks, however some of them may be remnants from dresses or shirts. It appears to be a utility quilt; by that I mean that the 9-patches are so randomly colored, the border has been pieced with several different fabrics, and the quilting is not as close as it should have been to keep the batting from separating. It's not very big, but it is heavy. I suppose that is indicative of the kind of batting used back then. When is "back then?" Again, I'm guessing, but I would say the 1930s.

Now what should I do with it???

Item 4: Here are the flowers from my Valentine. Thank you, Sweetie! I will always remember these! (There's a cute story behind that, but that's just between us!) *wink*

Item 5: Above  you met Gracie, our cat. I also have a "grandcat," Rocky. He lives with DD#1 in her apartment in Columbus. Rocky sent me an email yesterday. I think you will like it; I sure did!!

Deer granmah,
I fink u makes the best kwiltz. I fink dem r reely comfertible.
I has sleept a lot sinse I wer at ur howse. I got wor owt!!
I luv u!

Now, how about that?? A cat who can take his own picture, write a letter, and send an email!! We have such talent in our family. :-)

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's hoping there's some chocolate or champagne or smooching in your day!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

F. F. G. Q. G.

Friday Frankfort Girls Quilting Group.

Yes, we got together Friday morning at Sharon's house for some stitching. We were missing Sheryll, who had another appointment come up.  Here are a couple of pics of our recent projects.

This project came from JoAnn's talented hands. I remember when she bought this group of fabrics and pattern last April at the Cincinnati quilt show. The picture doesn't really show enough of the pink that is in this quilt top. I really am sorry it doesn't show the true colors - in real life, the colors are softer than this ; the greens are softer and the pinks are more prevalent. (Perhaps I need to learn how to better operate my camera!)

This adorable child's quilt is for Sam, Sharon's newest grandbaby. I believe she said he is now 4 months old. Isn't this a great, fun baby quilt? Sam will surely love this quilt.

My camera batteries ran out at this point, so I didn't get pictures of the other things we had for show and tell. Terry was continuing some embroidery work that she's trying to stay caught up on; I did some hand piecing, which I can show you, because once I got home, I replaced my batteries! :-)

I want you to see how small these pieces are; that's the reason I'm hand piecing. I suppose some people feel comfortable sewing such small pieces on the machine, but I'm not one of them.

 These little squares measure about 4.5 inches.  I think I will keep a secret, and not tell just now what I am doing with these tiny things. I am working on it, though, so it won't be long before I show you a happy little finish.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Quilt for Alexis

Life sends some giant bumps into our lives every now and then. My former student, 20-year-old Alexis is dealing with a very serious one right now. She had surgery yesterday to remove an epithelial sarcoma. I have not heard any news from her family or friends, so I am just praying for the best until I do hear something. She has pretty-much been on my mind 24/7 since Monday, when I last spoke to Alexis on facebook. She is being so brave, bless her heart. She has lots of faith, has a strong church family, and support beyond even what she knows. Her dad told me they've heard from complete strangers about prayers being said for them. What strength that must give them!

Sharon also had Alexis as a student, so together we are teaming up to make a comfort quilt for her. The simple 6.5" square. We attacked my flannel stash, pulling out lots of pinks. Sharon then searched her own stash and did the same. Our plan was to sew this on Monday when we met for our day of sewing, but I was still sick and had to miss; so we have our squares all cut and ready to go for next Monday.

In the lower left corner is a stack of 3.5" squares. I thought that we might consider sprinkling in some 4-patch blocks here and there, just to give a bit of interest to the quilt. If we decide not to, then I've got a nice stack of squares ready for a different project.

Alexis is the second young person close to me to have a cancer diagnosis in recent months.  My former colleague, Diana's daughter, Ellen, has just been given the all-clear pronouncement for her non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Ellen, 24, was diagnosed last spring, so Sharon (also Diana's colleague) and I got to work on a flannel quilt for her.

Remember this? Sharon actually did all the work on this; the sewing had to follow a certain pattern (obviously), so it was just easier keeping is straight with one seamstress on the job. I don't know if we will do the same pattern for Alexis; probably not, since we are relying so heavily on our stashes, we will most likely have to just do a random, scrappy quilt.

Think how often we complain about all sorts of things in our lives; then think about those who have much bigger and scarier battles to fight.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Meet Chantilly

Yes, the easiest quilt in the world to make is finally finished. I sure did drag my feet on it, but, oh, how pleased I am with the results!

The border is yellow. My photo looks a bit washed out. Since we are having such gorgeous weather, I took the quilt top out on the screened porch for the photo shoot. The morning shadows must have had a play in the lack of color in the bottom half of the picture. Anyway, you get an idea of my finish. I am so pleased with it. The picture in the book was perhaps a bit more muted and subtle in coloration, whereas I've got some definite lights and darks, but I still like it - a lot.

A careful study of the original to mine will also show you that in addition to making mine larger, I also changed the way the borders were done. I used a narrow inner border then the wide outer border, whereas the original has a wide inner border and a narrow outer border.

I went way overboard on making blocks for Chantilly. The leftover pile has enough in it to make an entire second quilt, I am sure.

Maybe I will make another one. Or perhaps I will save them for some future, as yet unknown project. It's possible that I will stitch a few of them into the backing for this quilt. We shall see.

So, what to work on next? I still have work to do on Mom's signature quilt. I need to put a zipper in a jacket for my FIL. I have agreed to make a mystery sample for Terry. Sharon and I are making a flannel quilt for a former student who is undergoing chemo treatments. And I think I'm hearing some blue and white fabric calling to me from up in the sewing room. Hmmm...

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Gee whiz! I sure hate getting sick; and this is so mild compared to sickness that many suffer with, but this head cold has really had me whipped for a couple of days.

I've been remiss in reporting the progress I've been making on Chantilly. Here is 1/3 of the quilt top, taken about a week ago. I have worked on it this week and currently have the inner border on, the outer border cut and ready to put on. Close! I will post a pic of it tomorrow.

I've had a few Mondays with Sharon that I've not reported on, either. She's got some fabulous finishes to brag about!

No, you are not looking at 2 pictures of the same quilt; Sharon has been madly stitching on two of these 9-patch/snowball quilts.

Aren't they wonderful? The blocks are nice and big, so the construction goes fast. She was able to use up a lot of fabric from the stash and has definitely created a couple of great looking scrappy quilts.

Sharon recently picked this quilt up from Linda's, a longarm quilter near here who does beautiful work. The quilt was made with an Aviary layer cake. It's just dreamily soft and feminine, isn't it?

So, while we sewed last Monday, we draped our pretties around the family room to inspire us. On the floor is the Thimbleberries top that Sharon began several weeks ago. I know I pictured it on an earlier post, but I can't remember how far back.

Tomorrow, I'm scheduled to go to Sharon's to sew with her. If I can, I'd like to get a binding cut out and sewed onto the Ohio State t-shirt quilt. I then could just take that quilt to Sharon's and not drag my sewing machine out. We'll see if I get as much done this evening as I hope. The Super Bowl is on, and I've got a book that's calling to me, plus I'm running some laundry. I am a known procrastinator, so we shall see.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Quilt Along Updates

First, I want to thank everyone who has come out to play in our Lone Star Quilt Along. We are going to see some beautiful quilts coming together. It will be such fun watching everyone's progress.

Second, I want to apologize for being a rather absent hostess today! I woke up with a really awful head cold or upper respiratory infection (whichever one makes your head feel like there's a balloon in there waiting to explode). I got up around 7:30, but was back in bed in short order, and stayed there until nearly noon!! (Unheard of for me!) A shower helped things, and I will be off to the drugstore shortly for some meds.

Enough whining. I want to talk about all the pretty Lone Stars that are going to be made through our little quilt along! We are going to have some stunning results based on the fabrics I'm seeing selected.

My previous post explained how I handled the Y-seams that will result when the rays of the stars are attached. I just visited Elizabeth's blog, Sand and Sun, and I saw that she has a tutorial on how to avoid these seams. Very good advice; if I hadn't already had my rays all stitched together, I would have tried this!

Here's a picture for Quilt Sue.

Using your handy spray starch will be a must when constructing this quilt, IMO. Care must be taken, though, not to pull or push when pressing, but using the Best Press has been crucial for me.

Another must, IMO, is pinning, which I mentioned in the previous post.

But, I'll mention it again...pinning is essential. The sheer number of places that will need matching and the potential for bias issues surely makes pinning worth the extra time.

I had a question about the size of my Lone Star, if my setting blocks are just 12 1/2" square. My quilt is actually a variation of the Lone Star called Broken Star. Here is the picture from the book I'm using.

The smaller inner star radiates out to these starbursts. The setting blocks on the outer corners are also 12 1/2". The side triangles have me a bit concerned - the bias edge is on the outside. Usually, quilt pattern designers avoid this, I believe.

ADDENDUM!! A couple of things I wanted to add, and forgot (blaming the balloon in my head). Tonya over at Hillbilly Handiworks has some suggestions that you Lone Star quilters will want to read about.  ALSO, if some of you are just discovering our quilt along, try putting "Lone Star" into the search box; both Sue and I use labels, so a plethora of posts should pop up for you.
Happy Quilting, Friends!

February Lone Star Quilt Along

Good morning, Lone Star Quilters! Are you ready to check in on all of us to see how we are progressing? Sign in here with Mister Linky, post your pictures, go over to Quilt Times where you can visit with Sue, the other half of this quilt-along team, and leave comments for us! We want to hear both your triumphs and tribulations as you've undertaken this Lone Star Quilt journey with us.

Here is the progress on my quilt. I've cut all the 12.5" squares for setting the star and starbursts as well as the 8 side triangles. I have attached the center star to its setting squares. It was fast and easy, but not without some challenges.

I'm a bit uneasy about how this section is not laying flat. Alas, I know there has been some stretching. I'm going to keep going, though, with the hope that any waving can be "quilted out" and will not result in spoiling the overall effect.
The challenge in this portion of construction was the Y-seam, which I alluded to yesterday. My first attempt resulted in this rather unattractive, "un-square" corner.

First Y-seam attempt.

As I hoped, though, practice did make somewhat perfect, and the remaining setting squares went in without too much effort.

Second Y-seam attempt.

Here's what I discovered. Back years ago, when I began this UFO, I sewed the starburst units together all the way out to the end. When you want to insert a fabric into this angle, however, it is helpful to stop the seam 1/4" from the end of the fabric. See if the pictures below illustrate what I mean.

Pencil points to seam; all the way out to the end.

Pencil points to seam which ends 1/4" away from the end.

I started at the outside point of the star and stitched toward the Y-seam. When I got to the place where the Y intersects, I stopped and backstitched to secure the stitching. Then I removed the fabric from the machine, pivoted the fabric a bit, and pinned from the Y intersection out to the point of the star. It is very important that you don't stitch through the seam allowance at this Y intersection, or you'll end up with some puckering. I won't guarantee that all my corners are perfect, but I am satisfied. I left that first "un-square" attempt just as you see it pictured above; in the overall effect of the quilt, it will be negligible.

I pinned - a lot! Why take risks on such an involved quilt?

Hopefully, this little heads-up on Y-seams will benefit those of you who are embarking on this journey with us.

 So, quilters, fill in Mister Linky, upload your pictures, leave us your comments, and show off your stuff!!