Sunday, July 31, 2016

July Concludes

My posting for the month of July has been erratic at best. Like most months, I begin with renewed focus and eager anticipation of what all can be accomplished in the new month. Some months end up being more productive than others; honestly, this is the normal ebb and flow nature of the quilter's work.

It's funny how so much of what we do requires a certain mindset - one that is positive; an all-systems-go sort of outlook. July 2016 found me having sad news to face, and it has been difficult to focus my attention on both quilting and blogging. Just to try to get July tucked away and move on to a happier August, I will share the sad news with you readers; not to garner sympathy, but more just to move on and adjust.

Early in the month I learned of the passing of Mary Harwood, the fun lady with the cute little barn (above) in Grove City who opened her doors for quilters a few times each month. Not only had I sewn at her place 4 or 5 times, she had come down to Frankfort to sew with us at Terry's on more than one occasion. Click here to read about my first trip to her barn.

In the photo above, Mary is showing off a quilt she was preparing to bind. This was taken on one of the trips to sew at her barn.

What a wonderful lady, and no truer friend could you find. While I did not know her as well as other quilters in my extended circle of friends - she was as genuine as could be. She announced back in January that she had been diagnosed with a particularly aggressive cancer and would be suspending her barn gatherings; soon she announced encouraging news that the diagnosis was not as dreadful as earlier suspected. Well, 6 months later, we learned of her passing. Apparently, it was aggressive, and many quilting friends were caught unawares. Here's a link to another blogger's tribute to Mary.

While digesting this news, our own family was dealing with a tragedy - the death of my Aunt Margaret - or Maggie, as she'd come to be called. Maggie is my mom's younger sister; the one who helped out so much during my grandmother's final months in 2015. After retiring in the spring of '15, helping with Grandma's affairs in the summer of '15, and moving with her husband, Uncle Nick, from Kansas back to Ohio in the fall of '15, Maggie began to have some mysterious health issues - mostly sleeplessness. The real alarms began this past May, when by the end of the month she was in the hospital and being tested for all sorts of neurological problems. The preliminary diagnosis was rapidly progressive dementia. Later, after some very specific test results, we learned a name for this disease - CJD, a terminal condition with no known treatment. She died on July 20.

This 2012 picture is possibly the most recent I have of Maggie - along with my mother and me. We were celebrating an OSU football victory at IU. Maggie was fun-loving; she quilted; she loved a party; she loved family. We are just so devastated by her sudden passing - from diagnosis to death was just 3 weeks.

Above is Maggie with her son, my cousin Sam at his wedding (1997), one of hundreds of pictures we enjoyed in a slide show at Maggie's memorial service yesterday. One of her very dear friends who came all the way from Wyoming made a few remarks and ended with this Native American prayer, which was particularly touching:

I give you this one thought to keep -
I am with you still - I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the sweet uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not think of me as gone -
I am with you still in each new dawn.

And now to my ambivalence about quilting and blogging.

My focusing issues have been exacerbated by troubleshooting how to quilt the big commission I need to be finishing. I've felt in a quandary for weeks now. Ugh!

I do think I have turned a corner, however. Elisa's quilt is beginning to come together more successfully, and an end is in sight. Above I have one of the sections in a prepping stage on the kitchen counter. I pressed the backing and stretched it out using painter's tape to keep it secure. I then pressed the top to the batting, and I used a lot of spray starch to give it some stiffness. Then I pinned the three layers together. I've been quilting and having some pretty decent success. (I will keep quiet about any "unsewing" I've done.)

Let's look forward to August, and see if I can get my mojo back!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

This Awaits

I go on and on quite a bit about gorgeous fabrics. Generally, the current quilt is the most beautiful ever. So I've gone from any of the French General fabrics to Roman Holiday to Kaffe Fassett and so on. My current love is Lorraine by American Jane/Moda and Lorraine's older complementary line, Savonnerie by the same designer.

I gaze at this lusciousness every day I'm in the sewing room, as it adorns my design wall. Some of the rows are sewn together, some are not. I think a bit of rearranging will occur before it all comes together, but what a feast for the eyes in the meantime!

Lorraine must wait in the wings until I finish 2 more urgent projects. First, I am machine quilting Elisa's quilt and having the most devilish time of it. I'd rather not admit to how much unsewing I've done lately. This coming week I will get it right!

Positive Mental Attitude!

The second is my hand quilting on the 6-point star quilt. I am so, so close to being finished. Mostly just the edges remain to be quilted; I am so anxious to remove it from the frame do the binding.

Have a great Sunday, folks, and stay cool, if you can!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hexagon Variety

In the last post, I shared a picture of the the little hexie quilt - likely a table topper - that I worked on at Jan's last Friday.

It was wrinkly and unkempt-looking, from being toted about in a bag and scrunched up in the stitching process. When I had a chance back at home, I took it to the sewing room and gave it a good pressing. Improved the looks tremendously.

I also discovered that I needed just one more hexie block to have a finished quilt top.

My options were limited. When I cut out all these hexagons, I had no plan in mind; rather, I was simply interested in having some handwork to do when I met with these ladies. I scrounged around and found a bit of fabric from the original grouping and cut one more hexagon for the space. If you look closely, you will see a bit of selvage on one corner; I really was out of fabric.

So now this is sewn in and the little quilt top awaits its batting and backing, its quilting and binding. In due time; in due time. It might see the center of the porch table next year.

One of the reasons I was so limited in my options for this quilt, is because I went off on a bit of a tangent and made these:

The three large flowers are made with the same blocks as I used in my table topper. I was curious about how they'd look set together this way, so I gave it a go. I really like them.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with them next. I haven't a clue at this time. That's why those smaller red flowers are still on the design wall; I made those way back in March, and they don't yet know what they are going to become, either. Same goes for the POTC block down at the bottom. Suggestions, anyone? Leave a comment, if so.

If making a hexie quilt - large or small - is something you think you'd like to try, I invite you to take a look at this post which offers a bit of a tutorial.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Frankfort Girls

Last Friday we met at Jan's for sewing and fellowship. All were present with the exception of Terry, whose husband was recovering from recent knee-replacement surgery. We had a productive morning, so let's take a look at the various projects we were working on.

Our hostess Jan had a finish to share. She makes Crown Royal bags into quilts. Jan and her husband own a golf course; they serve Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey at the clubhouse. (I could spread rumors and tell you that Jan has a drinking problem; I'm ornery, but not that ornery! *wink*)The fabric is flannel; she deconstructs the bags, cuts the squares, adds a second flannel fabric in a pleasing color, and comes up with a bundle of gorgeousness like you see above.

A variety of deconstructed Crown Royal bags. 
A bag in its original state. Jan is deconstructing one in the background.
Sheryll was working on this rather ambitious applique quilt. Impressive, for sure. I always feel that these sorts of patterns are just more than I can handle, for some reason. They intimidate me. But it sure is gorgeous. Sheryll hopes to enter this into her guild's upcoming quilt show.

Above, JoAnn is completing the binding on her All In A Row quilt. Do you recall that we all made this quilt at the Canter's Cave retreat back in April? I had trouble with my outer border, but eventually got it all worked out. Both JoAnn and Sharon O. have theirs quilted and bound (or nearly bound).

Above is Sharon's version. She finished her binding while we were together and showed off her finish.

Makes me want to get mine quilted. Maybe soon.

I worked on finishing that hexie table topper - it started out as 2 small ones, but I decided they'd have more impact as one big one. It has been fun stitching.

After I had added quite a few hexies, I stopped to see my progress. The only good place to lay it out was on the floor by the table where we were working. Ha! Look at Jan's kitchen floor! Hexies! I posted this pic to both FB and IG with the caption 'hexies on hexies."

Now we are all caught up on the Frankfort girls!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Pretty Pictures

I have had some pictures to share for awhile now, and since I don't have any really awesome stuff to show you from my sewing room, I figured today would be a good time to bring you a few non-quilting pictures of various goings-on around my world.

Most morning DH and I drive over to Frankfort and walk on the very well-maintained bike path. We started going in May very regularly, and have gone from just over 2 miles each time, to 3 miles, and occasionally 4 miles. I like to stay around 3 miles; that seems like just enough, and I don't feel completely wiped out like I do when we do 4 miles. DH is a runner, so he walks with me for a bit and then runs a portion of his routine.

Anyway, the picture above is of a cornfield that we pass. I notice on exceptionally bright mornings that the sun glistens off the corn, giving off an almost twinkling, gleaming appearance. It is quite a pretty sight, and it made me think of the way the sun glistens on the ocean. So I went back through pictures from our June Myrtle Beach trip to bring a sunny, glistening picture of the Atlantic.

Now, not all of our walks occur on the Frankfort bike path. Over this past weekend, to change things up a bit, we drove to Chillicothe where there is a very nice flood wall along the Scioto River. We had no plans for going over 5 miles, but since we were there, and it'd been ages since we'd been to the end of the path, we went for it. Five and-almost-a-half-miles later, totally exhausted, I collapsed into the car. Here is a picture DH took of the scenic Scioto River.

He used the panoramic view to take the picture, but in translating it to Blogger, I've lost some of the effect. Still pretty, however.

Finally, I will show you a cute little school house we found tucked away on Lake Erie's Put In Bay Island -- we visited there about 2 weeks ago for a quick getaway.

I do get out of the sewing room, and I do see some pretty sights. Nothing terribly awe-inspiring, but I hope these were as appealing to you as they were to me.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Let's Check on Claudia

It has been awhile since I've shared anything from Claudia, the very willing and increasingly skilled student I had last year. She and her new Bernina appear to be just as happy as can be together, stitching up all sorts of loveliness.

When we last had a student-teacher get together, she wanted to get the basics for making a quilt for which she'd recently purchased a pattern. I wrote about it; so click here if you want the details.

A more vibrant quilt could not be had! I love that Claudia is using the most basic blocks - the plain square, the 3-row bar, and the 9-patch. These pieces work so well and afford such variety. Setting them on point just adds to the impressiveness of the effort.

Isn't she doing a great job? Her intersections are spot-on, and each block looks even and square. Well done!

Here's one more project she recently shared with me - not so much sewing as it was gluing and folding.

This box for electronic devices keeps them all corralled and in neat order near their chargers.

Keep up the great work, Claudia! And keep those pictures coming, too!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Hello Cabbage Patch

Back about 2 weeks, if you recall, Sharon, Kay and I celebrated summer and Kaffe Fassett by coming together to make our own versions of his pattern Floral Columns. You can refresh your memory here.

In the days following that, I made a second version for the backing, which will make it a reversible quilt. However, knowing that one has to be larger than the other, I needed to add one more column. I did that last week.
My tubs of KF fabric were still sitting out, and so I began sorting through looking for something suitable. Cabbage Patch, above, seemed a perfect addition to the springier side of my quilt.

And here is a picture with the additional column. I like it next to the yellow column. The first version ended with that yellow column and I just added that Cabbage Patch fabric right onto it and I like it better as the edge. Happy. Happy.

Did you notice a different bed in my guest room? This is my grandmother's bed, which I've had sitting in our garage for about 3 months. DH and I finally switched out the old bed last week. We moved up the matching dressers and night stand soon after we got them, so now the room is complete. 

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Change Of Pace

I think my continual posting about the gray quilt I'm doing for Elisa is leaving readers/viewers wanting something different. And I didn't have to look far to find it.

Sharon was here for sewing last Tuesday and continued work on her Lorraine quilt. It is going to look spectacular. Click here to read some history on it, if you like. Here's an even earlier one.

These colors are just so fantastic; it would not matter what pattern a quilter used with fabric so gorgeous, but this hourglass block and the surrounding sashing is sure looking mighty fine.

I have done a bit of stitching on my own Lorraine quilt. I will try to get some good pics to share in the coming days.

Hope you're having a great Sunday! We are off to visit DD2 and her boyfriend today. They have a new apartment that we have not yet seen! Should be a great day for a little road trip.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Making Adjustments

Further preparation for all the machine quilting I am beginning involves setting my machine up in such a fashion as to make it as easy as possible to accomplish the job.

I've noticed that with previous quilting projects I've done, it has been difficult to overcome the drag that the weight of the quilt gives me as I guide it through the machine. Now most of my projects are small and don't cause a great problem for me, but I knew that with this upcoming quilting I will be doing, it would definitely cause me some grief.

I put my brain to work trying to figure something out, and here is what I've come up with.

I've always kept a TV tray next to this table. Generally, the sewing machine is on the table (facing the other direction), and the TV tray would be on my left and serves to hold just whatever. When quilting, it holds the weight of the quilt, but because it is shorter, the drag was problematic. I got to thinking about the difference in the heights of each surface. It appeared that the TV tray was shorter than the table at about the same amount as the sewing machine's detachable shelf was from its base.

If the sewing machine were to be turned around and set up on the TV tray and the shelf set up edge-to-edge to the taller table, then I would very likely eliminate the drag. Another benefit is that the lower sewing machine is going to give my shoulders relief as I quilt. I should find myself much more comfortable even after quite a long haul at the machine.

This picture shows just how even the two surfaces are. I am pretty happy to have figured this out. Maybe someday I will get a proper table with a dropped shelf surface for my machine, but until that time, I think this will be an adequate temporary fix.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Now To Begin Quilting

The quilting will soon be commencing on Elisa's big quilt.  To make sure I knew what I was doing, and that all would go as intended, I did a little trial run with some bits cut to a little quilt size.

My plan is to make vertical stitching lines at random widths on each panel. I don't want to mark anything; instead the intent is to "eyeball" the lines, and keep them as vertical as I can. I did mark the first line I stitched, just to make sure I began with a line that would be perpendicular to all the horizontal rows of fabric. The rest is total randomness.

I took several pictures because some of the stitching shows up better on certain fabrics from different angles.
I sent all the pics to Elisa for her opinion, and once again I got a very positive response. I just love how we have been on the same page with this quilt almost from the very beginning.

The backing will be flat sheets. I know. That is like blasphemy to a long-arm quilter. I wasn't so sure I could do it on my little Bernina, either, but above is the backing made of sheeting, and I did not have the slightest trouble with it.

One thing I did before quilting this little quilt was to very heavily spray starch and press both the top and the back. I think my results worked so well because my fabric was so stiff. I plan to do this with the quilt, as well.

Last evening, Elisa and I texted back and forth quite a bit about the loft of the batting I should get. I am going to go with a poly-cotton blend in a loft on the high side. Not totally puffy, but she wants this to look like a bedspread, so I mustn't get one that is too low-loft. I am headed out to make the purchase now!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Custom Design

This week I have finally made some really significant progress on the commissioned quilt for Elisa. One might thing that I'd been ignoring it, but in reality my head has been working overtime on it. Once I finally thought through the entire process for finishing this quilt, I felt better about getting actual, physical work done on it. Click here for a post that includes our inspiration photo.

I finally have all the columns constructed. In previous pictures I've used here on the blog, the columns had been in sections. The pictures here show just three columns, but in actuality there are five. The bed I use for my photographs is a double bed; this quilt will be for a king bed. I will need to use the floor - or better yet, go outside and use the yard - in order to show all five columns fully.

My brain work was mostly focused on how to finish the quilt - the quilting, in particular. I would normally sew all the columns together and then prepare a back, buy a batting and then send the entire business off to my longarm quilting friend for some loose meander-style quilting.

However, Elisa is an artist, and as such has an eye for design. Her thinking is that this very linear quilt needs to have linear quilting done on it. And I have to say I agree with her. So my plan is to quilt it myself.


This is the frightening part for me. I think I know how to do it, but the actual doing it is a difficult step to take. Taking the plunge into the unknown is just a bit daunting.

I will do a trial run with some remnant ends of these strips. I think I can construct a little quilt in the 12"x15" range, make my layers, and run it through my machine using the walking foot to quilt it. This will give me a visual of how the larger quilt will look. I am both apprehensive, yet eager, to do it. I've never created something so original - ever!


Happy Quilting, Friends!