Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sewing With Friends

I have made many posts about the wonderful friends I have who are quilters. We get together often to sew, which makes for a very pleasant time and offers invigorating encouragement. I try to go whenever I can to sew with the girls for I always come away inspired and eager to make new things.

Last Friday, we Frankfort girls met at Sharon O's home for our regular 9-noon session. Most everyone was working on UFOs for the little challenge we are doing this year. I fear with all my "starts" in these  quilt alongs (see recent posts), I will come in last place in our challenge. Oh well. Let's take a look at what the girls were working on.

Terry is quite charged up to finish lots of UFOs.
Here is the first of several holiday projects she's finishing.

And another.

This is Sheryll's full-size quilt finished for the UFO challenge. Pretty!

Another Terry project.
I can't wait to see how she uses all of these next December!

Our hostess Sharon was completing a very spring-inspired quilt.
In the negative numbers for temperatures, this sure makes me wish for April!

Sheryll is finishing this wall hanging for the challenge.
And finally, yet another finish for Terry - this sweet table topper.

I need to get in gear! I've pulled my UFO, the backing and batting, and that's about all I've done! I need to get going!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Repairing A Well-Loved Quilt

A week ago, DD1 gave me a quilt that needed repairing. It was one I gave her in August 2010, so in under 3 years, she has used, laundered and practically worn out this quilt.

This is the 2010 picture of the day I gave the quilt to her. It had been a long-time UFO, so she was pretty happy to get it, finally. It went to live at her apartment, and from the looks of things, I do believe it was laundered every single week! 
Nearly all the binding needed to be tacked down again. I think this photo shows the fading that has occurred from so much laundering. The upside, however, is that it is very soft and comfy. I can't say that I minded a bit having it on my lap these recent evenings when the temperatures have been sub-zero! I was quite cozy!
The trouble it that it won't take much more abuse. The stitches that I took were into some very threadbare fibers, so I think when I return this to DD, it will have instructions to launder no more than twice a year from here on out. Maybe it can have a longer life that way.
Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Constructing the Burgoyne Block

I have been a bit absent from blogging for a few days, but trust me when I say I am working diligently on the Burgoyne Surrounded blocks. I seem to have found a rhythm to it, and truly, I am enjoying the process.

The trick is to have enough cutting done so that you can get nice scrappy combinations of the three colors - red, blue and background. At first I thought I'd try to have each block use the same red and blue throughout, but it required too much stopping and starting - I'd get almost done only to find that I needed one more 1.5" square. Do you know how hard it is to make yourself go cut more fabric for a 1.5" square??? It didn't take me long to decide that mixing up my reds and blues would be okay.

So let's take a look at the construction of the subunits. Broken down into these steps makes the formation of the entire block seem so much simpler.

To be most efficient, the instructions say to sew many 1.5" neutral strips to 1.5" red strips and cut them down to 1.5" pieces and 2.5" pieces. Then when sewn together in the design shown above, you will have the subunit that will eventually help to form the circular pattern in the block.

You need 4 of these subunits, and they go together very quickly once all the cutting is done.

Next, let's look at the center block. Of course, only one of these is needed.

Select a nice scrappy combination of background neutrals to go with the blues, and construct a 9-patch block. Easy-peasy.

The most involved subunit is the OTHER 9-patch block - I will refer to it as the blended 9-patch - where the diagonal navy line intersects with the red circle.

 I see that I have the "parts" placed incorrectly in the photo above. but the units are correct. (Just envision the 4-patch  turned a quarter turn so that blue is in the center, not white.) The little blue and white 4-patch is needed in each corner of each Burgoyne Surrounded block, so a lot of them are being constructed. We also need 4 4-patches to make 4 of these blended 9-patch bocks, and here is how it looks when constructed properly. (I should go take another picture with these parts arranged correctly, but I will trust that you'll see how to construct it by looking at the finished block.)

See how the blue runs diagonally through the block? This is important as it creates the larger design of the diagonal through the entire quilt. The reds are placed in such a way as to help create the circle in each block. Four of these 9-patch units are needed.

Above are the subunits needed to make one block. In addition to these, there are a number of plain background pieces in various dimensions that must be used, as well. Here's the tally sheet:

4 blended 9-patch blocks
4 blue 4-patch blocks
4 red narrow rectangular blocks
1 center 9-patch
Additional plain background pieces

This illustrates very clearly why it takes so doggone long to get one Burgoyne Surrounded block constructed, doesn't it? Here is a rerun of a picture that illustrates what I am talking about when I refer to the red circle in each block and the diagonal blue line that runs both through the blocks and also, eventually, through the entire quilt. Can you pick out the subunits?

AACK! I see a mistake!! I have a blended block going all wonky! Can you find it? I guess this illustrates just how very careful you have to be when constructing these blocks. Dangit!

My total currently is 7 blocks completed. By day's end, I'd like to be at 10 or 11. I worked yesterday to get plenty of cutting done and subunits prepped.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tell It To The Stars

Well, I went ahead and made the first 2 blocks in yet another quilt along. It's called Tell It To The Stars, and it is hosted by Judy L. at Patchwork Times. She posts a lot on her blog, so if you go looking for it, you will  have to browse quite a bit. Or, you could look for the quilt along logo either on the side bar or bottom bar.

Emma helped me pull the fabrics earlier this month. You may recall the combination.

I was concerned that I didn't have enough contrast in the grouping, but threw caution to the wind and just did it.

And I have to say I am rather pleased with the look! It will be a pretty quilt, in my opinion! It will definitely be one that Emma will like, as she has always been a purple girl.

You may recognize some of the fabrics as very old Thimbleberries - the background, the center green and the darker purple. The light purple is from one of Barbara Brackman's collections, and the navy is unknown.

The quilt along will last all of 2014, and from what I can gather, we will make 2 of the same blocks each month. So here are the January blocks.

This quilt will be a nice break from the tedious work on the Burgoyne Surrounded quilt along. These pieces are nice and big, so the construction goes really fast. Nice. Very nice.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

More Burgoyne Surrounded Blocks

I have already showed you what the girls were working on Friday at Terry's, but I did not show you what I was doing. I really had hoped that I would be able to get 4 blocks made that day, but I seriously hampered my progress by forgetting the cord and foot pedal for my sewing machine. I only live about 6 miles from Terry, but still that took about 30 minutes out of my morning to return home, grab the cords, and zip back. Grrr.

It may have slowed me down, but it didn't deter my goal of getting 4 blocks completed. At Terry's I did one entirely, and back here at home, the next day, I finished the other two. So now I have a grand total of 4 Burgoyne Surrounded blocks, with just 16 more to make!

At the risk of repeating myself, I will tell you that these are some tedious, time-consuming blocks! There are so many sub-units to make before you can even begin sewing together the block.  But, I will say, that this is just such an appealing quilt design - classic and traditional - that I must make myself keep going on it. I will be so happy after it's done. The satisfaction of making and completing it will far outweigh the time spent on tedium.

Remember, it's the process we love, right?

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sewing Day at Terry's

Wonderful times when a quilter can spend a day with other quilters, stitching, visiting, cutting, and creating. This was my day last Friday. Terry hosted 5 of us and we had a wide variety of projects going.

Poor Sharon O. wanted to applique, but with her new machine, was having trouble getting the tension set just right. After a valiant effort at figuring it out, she opted to do some hand stitching, and I did not have my camera out before she had to leave for a family obligation.

Next around the table was Sheryll who was beginning a new project. By the end of the day, she had the prettiest stack of little red and cheddar 9-patches bordered with black. And you know what? I didn't take a picture of those either! I am seriously remiss in my duties. Just take my word for it, though, they were perfect! Here is a shot of Sheryll at work on creating said perfect blocks, with the quilt she is making there beside her.

Laura was busy working on finishing up a double 9-patch quilt top of reproduction fabrics.

Across the table from Laura, Susan was creating stars from these blocks.

This will be part of a mystery quilt at an upcoming guild retreat, therefore I cannot give you any further details.

Terry, our hostess, tackled her UFO for the challenge we are doing together. This is a big, full-size quilt! And she told me twice what the name of it is, but darned if I can remember it! When we do our UFO reveal in early February, I will be sure to make note of it.

The borders don't show up in this photo, but I will be sure they do when I get another chance to showcase this quilt. They are very unique. Terry plans to quilt and bind this quilt before the UFO deadline.

I worked on my Burgoyne Surrounded blocks. I took enough cut parts to make 3 blocks. I got one done. But I had the sub-sections stitched, so getting the other 2 finished won't take long.

Fun times with these girls! We listen to oldies on the radio, share recipes, talk about old movies, the conversations just rambled on all day! And the sewing machines hummed right along with us!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Early Years

The quilt along 'Tell It To The Stars' finally makes sense to me now. There are going to be questions asked about your history with regard to quilting, and you are to "tell it to the stars" or just record the information so that some distant offspring or future historian will know a bit about you, the quilter, of some old and fading quilt that had been tucked away.

I 'm following the quilt along on Patchwork Times, a blog by Judy Laquidara. Notice I said I'm following; so far I am not participating. I have fabrics pulled for if I might participate, but so far I'm refraining.

Back to the questions. The first question, which was posted over a week ago was "What year did you begin quilting? What made you start quilting?

The second question was posted a couple of days ago. "What fabrics/styles were in style when you began quilting?

I am going to answer these questions, but I must do a bit of thinking first, and I need some more time to pull my thoughts together. However, in the midst of pondering these questions, a very early creation of mine surfaced from the bottom of an old chest, and it seems fitting that I share it here.

 Early on I was enamored with Amish quilts. I visited Ohio's Amish country frequently, as it's near my husband's hometown. There are many great quilt shops there, and as far back as the 1980s I was beginning to collect fabric. This wall hanging consists of three fabrics - black background, red houses and teal roofs and border. I machine pieced it, and there's not a lick of quilting on it anywhere. Consequently, when I pressed it earlier, batting has bunched up in some places. I am trying to recall where in our previous residence I displayed this wall hanging, but I cannot picture it anywhere.

I do remember that my friend Sharon made one, too, and hers was of those lovely plaids of the '80s - navy and red. And perhaps some of those little print hearts? I will ask her if she remembers.

Did we make these at my house? At the home ec. room at school? Was it a quilt camp creation? I do not remember, but I think Sharon will, so stay tuned for the answers.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


I will take a break from cutting fabric to ask a burning question.

Do you snack while you sew? Confession: sometimes, I do.

Pistachios and Jolly Ranchers. Strange combination, I know. When I want something salty, I go with the nuts. When I want something sweet, I go with the hard candy.

Back to cutting.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Burgoyne Surrounded

Did you ever think you'd be a glutton for punishment? I certainly never did. But, doggone it, that Tone It Down quilt along sponsored by American Patchwork and Quilting magazine just kept calling to me. Knowing that each block has a ga-zillion tiny pieces meant that I would definitely be voluntarily signing on for some tedious work.

I just couldn't stop thinking about it, though! A few days ago I decided that if I did this quilt along, mine would be patriotic. I put together a nice collection of fabrics, just in case I actually did go ahead with participating.

I finally took the plunge on Saturday. Ultimately I decided that the diagonal lines would be blue, while the circular designs would be red. As far as backgrounds go, I decided that I would aim for a very scrappy combination of neutrals - everything from light to tea-stained would be jumbled all together in each block.

I spent a good portion of the afternoon cutting out fabrics for one block, but I intentionally cut more than I knew I would need so that I could get a good mix of backgrounds.

I made sure that I kept my pieces as organized as possible. With so many pieces to keep track of, I knew that being diligent would be beneficial. I'd read some of the blogs, too, explaining the necessity of being organized with this quilt. That was advice I was willing to take!

Another thing I did to help myself was to study these instructions till I practically had them memorized. I knew that I'd get all mixed up with colors so I wrote myself notes to keep my reds and blues where they belong. It really did help.

And here's my first block. There are 89 pieces in it. Yeah, that's a lot. And I may well be a glutton for punishment for doing this, but I think I will be so thrilled with it once it's done that it will be totally worth it. It's the type of quilt that made me fall in love with quilts so many years ago. Traditional designs. Traditional fabrics. Traditional colors. Even though I have evolved into appreciating more modern fabrics and colors, my original preferences were always traditional. I hope this quilt looks old and antique-y when it's finished. 

I have a full day of sewing at Terry's coming up on Friday. I would like to have much cutting done so that I can concentrate on sewing more of these blocks then. 

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

First Finish of the Year

As we finished out 2013, I was working on Tapestry using the wonderful Barbara Brackman fabrics Morris Apprentice. It's the easiest quilt in the world to make; after all it consists of large hour glass blocks. I do know how to drag out a project, don't I?

Well, I did have a little something going on to occupy my time, if you recall...

I probably should have been a bit more deliberate in the placement of the blocks to do a better job of distributing colors more evenly. I see imbalance now; I did not when I had it laid out on the bed.

It's good to have Tapestry finished. It was fun to do, and I loved working with those gorgeous fabrics. There are some leftovers, so you may see them showing up in something one of these days.

Now, though, I'm ready to move on to my next project! It's a new year, and I'm feeling energized! I have been working on some other things that are both challenging and fun. I will be back tomorrow to show you one of them!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Home On Break

Our DD2, Emma, has been home on break between semesters, and I have loved having her here. She has been so helpful, and cheerily so; I marvel at what a wonderful young lady she has become.

One of the big jobs she helped me with is tidying up in the sewing room. I have no pictures to show you, but surely all of you seamstresses and quilters have a fair idea of a messy sewing space! In addition to all the various sewing projects I had laying around, I did the Christmas wrapping in there, so all the paper and gift bags were cluttering things up. Emma sorted and folded fabric, lifted heavy tubs and ran the sweeper. Oh, how I love the space when it's tidy.

I also needed laundry done, so she did the heavy work of lifting baskets, sorting and running up and down steps. I folded. We got four loads done last night. What a great feeling.

She also did some cooking for me, and I do have a picture of that.

We found a recipe on Pinterest that we really like - One Pot Cheesy Sausage Pasta. It is fast and delicious. I think she might make this for the roomies back at her apartment. She said she'd probably not go with Polish sausage, but instead use chicken. She has always been a chicken lover. Besides this dinner, she also made some dishes for holiday partying, and learned some valuable kitchen knowledge (She didn't know the difference when a recipe lists 1T or 1t. Can you believe that? Where did I go wrong??)

Someone else has been awfully glad Emma was home. Gracie gets lots more cuddles and attention while Emma is here.

After we had the sewing room tidied up, I felt energetic about getting more projects going. So I used Emma's strong arms and back to pull fabrics for me. Those quilt-alongs that I have been pondering have just kept niggling at my brain, and so I decided to get fabric squared away for two more.

Tell It To The Stars required real effort, in that we had to find the last 3 fabrics in light, medium and dark color variations. It'll be interesting to see how this turns out. There isn't going to be much contrast, is there?

Tone It Down is the quilt-along that is being featured in American Patchwork and Quilting magazine. There are 6 or 8 bloggers who are doing the quilt, and each one is, of course, putting her own spin on it. I've looked at everyone's blog examples and have decided that mine will be patriotic. I have pulled as many of my reds, whites, and blues as I could find. I am sure I will need to pull more - especially the whites, which are really creams and beiges, - but I think I will like the result.

Emma left for OU today around noon. She was scheduled to work this afternoon and evening, and classes begin Monday. We went to breakfast together, did some shopping, then her ride picked her up and off they went. Sad to see her go, but so grateful for the wonderful time we spent together while she was home.

Happy Quilting, Friends!