Thursday, August 31, 2017

Frankfort Girls

A week ago Friday, three of our group of six met at Jan's for fellowship, good food and productive stitching. This was the second meeting in a row that we've had low attendance. It is always something to celebrate when the entire group can attend - my goodness, the catching up!!

Here are some things we worked on. I feel so inadequate sometimes when I think of the amazing work these girls do. Case in point, look at the undertaking Sheryll has begun. This pattern is called Stars Upon Stars by Laundry Basket Quilts and is being offered as a BOM at one of our local quilt shops, Old Town Fabrics. Check out the link to the full quilt picture - depending on your frame of reference, it is either very impressive or very intimidating, possibly both!

The photos above are Sheryll's successfully completed first block. The two pictures below represent her mistake block. This star, while absolutely beautiful, ended up way too big for the pattern, so she had to remake it - yes, remake. I would have freaked out and chucked the whole thing.

Next, Jan shared some of the EPP blocks she has prepared for her Annette Williams pattern called Caesar's Crown. I looked at Annette's webpage, but could not find this pattern, however I do have a picture of her standing in front of the Caesar's Crown at the Hillsboro Quilt Show from this past July.

She only needs to prep one or two more and then she will be ready to being appliqueing them onto background squares. Jan is really efficient with how she works; she is a firm believer in establishing a process and simplifying steps. (My brain does not work this way, unfortunately.)

The two pictures above are just an example of Jan's storage system for EPP projects. The next one on her to-do list is Pretty Plates, and she has all her little fabric packs stored in the tub, ready for easy access.

I worked on the POTC block and learned that new stitching technique from Jan. I talked about that in an earlier post. This block is now finished and I have moved on to glue-basting more hexies. Finally, I will show you something fun. A year ago while at Jan's, I was hand-piecing the hexies for this table topper. It is now finished - my August UFO! - and I returned to Jan's with it to be photographed on her hexie kitchen floor. Click here to see the first photo.

We've reached the end of another month, dear quilters. Gracious! Where did summer go?? I will try to do my August wrap-up in tomorrow's post; stop on back!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Flag Day Farm Update

I have an entirely new appreciation for all those quilt pattern designers who crank out multiple patterns every year. My brain hurts from all the thinking I'm doing! I know for certain that I do not have a future as a pattern designer!

My dilemma: creating a medallion quilt for my very well-aged Minick and Simpson panel called Flag Day Farm, and I am having the hardest time coming up with possibilities that satisfy me. Here's a good laugh:  Click here for a 2010 post about this panel. I've had this in the incubator for a long, long time!!

I am limited, in part, to using just the Minick and Simpson fabrics I have on hand, which is mostly precuts - jelly rolls and charm packs, to be exact. As far as actual yardage goes, I have a neutral, a navy floral, a red and cream floral and a couple of fat quarters of another navy.

To this point, I have attached the flying geese around the center panel as well as a 2.5" strip of the neutral. I like what I've got. The next unit I will add is this navy triangle with star. The trouble is that it doesn't fit the sides of the center section, so I need to add some element to make it fit correctly. I've spent this whole last week thinking about what that element should be.

The star/triangle units just after cutting; these are sewn and trimmed now.
The units I've made are stacked here.
(I removed the setting triangles from the 4-patches; too white for this quilt.)
I auditioned four possibilities yesterday. I am not totally enamored with any of them, so I am still pondering other options. You might give me some feedback or ideas after seeing these.

Option 1: red pinwheels on point.

Option 2: 4-patches, darks horizontal.

Option 3: 4-patches, darks vertical.

Option 4: 4-patches, only blues vertical.

I like the 4th option the best, but it seems too busy as the next element on this quilt. Like that neutral strip around the flying geese, I am now considering taking a strip of the red yardage to add to the triangle-star units. The red (hopefully) would serve to define that element before moving on out to the blue 4-patches on point. 

This idea will have to simmer awhile today. I have classes this afternoon/evening. Hopefully, the eureka moment will come, and after a very long time in the making, this quilt will at last be a reality. And I will rest my overworked brain. *grin* 

I've linked up with Sew Fresh Quilts and their Let's Bee Social linky party, as well as Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation. Have a look!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Block Exchange Update

Several months ago, the group I fondly refer to as The Frankfort Girls, agreed to do a block exchange project after seeing the book The 4" x 5" Block Anthology. Read about our swap here. Some of the girls have their blocks finished, so I decided that since all my commissions are caught up I should go ahead and finish mine while I have the time.

Listening to the others, I learned a few tricks and tips. Most importantly, several recommended that all the little parts be drenched in starch, left to dry overnight, and then pressed.

As orderly as possible, I spread out the parts of the blocks on a towel and saturated all with starch. When dry, I pressed and stacked in neat piles ready to take to the sewing machine.

Each of us selected two blocks to make for the swap. My blocks are both stars. If you clicked that link above, you saw that my fabrics combine to make what I hope results in a muted, almost dusty-looking quilt. 

My Block 1
My Block 2
I have discovered that I cut a few blocks incorrectly. Some blocks are missing the correct number of pieces, while others are the wrong size. I am not the only one who has had to re-cut; we are bringing our fabrics with us to our meetings so that re-cutting can be done.

Above are the Block 1s that are correct. I need a few pieces to make Sheryll's and Sharon's.

And these are the Block 2s. The ones on the left are completed correctly. On the right are two blocks that need some additional work. Becky's block is missing 2 pieces, and Jan's block needs 4 parts to be re-cut. Do you see what I mean by cutting things the wrong size? I placed my boo-boos there to show how I messed up.

I hope the girls are forgiving in the shape of the blocks I give them. I surely do have some wonky sides and missing points.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Claudia's Impressive Progress

Not long ago, former quilting student Claudia sent me some pictures of a project she had recently finished. And when I say finished, I mean she did it all - piecing, quilting and binding. My, how far she has come on her quilting journey.

Below is the quilt - look at all those pieces! And all those bias edged triangles! She found this wall-hanging-size kit drastically marked down, so she bought it and promptly made it. (Unlike your truly, who would have let it age for many months before tackling it.)

Claudia's story, for those of you who are not long-time followers, is nothing short of remarkable. She came to me as a bona fide neophyte to a class I offered on hand piecing. She continued one-on-one with me for the better part of two years, gave up hand piecing in favor of machine piecing, upgraded her sewing machine twice, and is now entirely confident in her ability to take on just about any project. She has a definite penchant for bright colors, and a special fondness for patriotic. I cannot see her ever making anything with the darker sedate colors of reproduction prints. Give her orange and yellow and fuchsia anytime!

Today, I head back to my part-time teaching gig at the local branch of Ohio University. I will teach two freshman composition courses on Mondays and Wednesdays through early December. Tomorrow, DH starts another year as a bus (van) driver for four Mennonite families. Their school is too far for the little ones to go alone on bike or buggy, and he loves doing it. The children are delightful.

Hope your week is productive!
Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Slow Stitching

Good day to you all! I have learned so much this past week. On Wednesday, I took my maiden voyage on a longarm quilting machine and quilted an entire quilt with really satisfying results. That was an extraordinary learning experience.

On Friday, when the Frankfort girls met at Jan's house, I learned a better way to attach hexagons so that the stitching is entirely hidden. I have Jan to thank for this little tip, and I will continue to make my hexies using this method.

I finished off this POTC block, and while it is nearly impossible to see any differences in stitching from a distance, there is quite a bit of difference when you see it close up.

This portion of the block is sewn my original way. Can you see the tiny stitches all around this neutral hexagon? I didn't like that they showed, but told myself to be assured that once the papers were removed and the fabric could move around more freely, the stitches would bury into the fabric. That may be the case, but with this new method that Jan uses, the stitches don't show even with the papers still in, so they surely won't show later when removed.

Doesn't that look neater? I am much happier with this look than my previous look. I will definitely continue to use this method.

What is the difference, you ask? Well, I will try to describe it. Maybe I should have taken pictures of this - we shall see if I can make it make sense.

Originally, I would take my hexies and lay them together facing each other (right sides together) and my needle would be perpendicular to the hexies as I stitched down the sides; then I would open them up all stitched together.

My new method: lay the pieces you are attaching side by side, flat up against each other and clip them together with binding clips. (Picture of clips in this post.) Instead of stitching with your needle perpendicular to the edge, your needle will be parallel to the back, with all the stitching done on the back.

Can you visualize what I mean? I may revisit this post with a couple of pictures of the two methods.

I have also glue-basted more hexies for the Lake Effect quilt. I am looking forward to getting started on the stitching, but I still need to make a lot more hexies first.

Hope you are having a pleasant day! Make this final week of August a great one, okay? I have linked up with Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitches link party.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Sharon's Latest Flimsy

Tuesday is still our day for getting together to sew, but we have had a full and busy summer, so this past Tuesday was the first we'd been together in some time. The last time we sewed together, Sharon was working on this 9-patch quilt using blues and cream/neutrals from Laundry Basket Quilts maker Edyta Sitar. Now the quilt top is complete. Here are some shots of it.

If you recall, Sharon was inspired by a quilt Terry was making back in April at our Canter's Cave Retreat. Here is a link to that quilt. (Scroll down a bit.) Sharon's is nowhere near as big as Terry's, but the pattern and the fabrics are the same. Sharon said she was ready to be done with this, and it's big enough to suit her. Move on!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Ecstatic Might Describe It

I've just consulted the thesaurus for an appropriate word to describe the new quilting experience I had on Wednesday. I took a quilt top, backing and batting to Mendelbrights in Cynthiana, where after shop owner Rita gave me a lesson on her long-arm quilting machine, I QUILTED A WHOLE QUILT!!

Yes, I was ecstatic, elated, joyous, jubilant, overjoyed and thrilled. (Thank you, Roget.) Each time I completed a lengthwise pass on the quilt, I could barely contain my urge to happy dance all over her shop! I settled by having little fits of excitement there at the machine. So it's true. Old dogs CAN learn new tricks, and this is one trick I am so stoked to continue! (Pardon me for the excessive use of exclamation marks - this post warrants them, I assure you!)

Both pictures above are taken as I was in the middle of my last pass over the border. All that is rolled on that bar you see there has already been quilted. By the time I had done all of this, I was feeling a lot less tense and much more comfortable with the machine. I still have so much to learn, and I am certain I could really love doing this!

Rita took a picture and a video while I quilted. Having never loaded a video here on the blog, I will attempt.

I finished this 72"x88" quilt in about 3 hours. Later that same evening I cut the binding strips, attached them and stitched them down. All in one day I went from flimsy to finished quilt - now that is motivation enough to go back to her for more quilting practice!

And that is precisely what will be happening! If you recall, I have 3 baby quilts still to be quilted, and I have already made plans to revisit Rita next Thursday to try to do all of them. The best thing for me is to practice this and make myself really comfortable with it. I can't say that a long-arm quilting machine is in my future, but I am certainly happy to know how to do it and understand this part of the quilt making process from a whole new perspective.

Added later: I meant to include this in my opening, but it slipped my mind. I can't believe I forgot it, as it's possibly the best part of the day! As I first stepped into the shop, a bit late for my noon appointment, Rita was sitting at her work table with two other quilters. After we exchanged greetings, Rita explained that they were just about to pray as they ended their visit, and I would be welcome to join in their moment of prayer. Now if ever there were any doubt that I was in the right place at the right time, this was the all the sign I needed to confirm I was right where I belonged! Thus, I began my first ever long-arm quilting session with voices lifted to the Lord and blessings all around. I learned later that the women were friends of Rita's - Terri and Betty Jo - both quilters and Betty Jo is new to our rural area, having been assigned to two small churches nearby as an ordained United Methodist minister. Wonder of wonders. How strange and mysterious things happen, you know? I felt especially certain that I was meant to be quilting with Rita on Wednesday.

To see full pictures of the quilt, check out yesterday's post. I took several shots from various angles so that the quilting would show pretty well.

Next up for me is to get that UFO from June finished - it's the only one I haven't finished in the month it was (loosely) assigned.

I have linked to Let's Bee Social over with the girls at Sew Fresh Quilts. Have a look!
Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Another Finish

The last of the commission projects that I agreed to do this summer has been finished; I will deliver it later today. Hooray! This project has turned out to be one that is rather special in that it is my very first quilt for which I did my own long-arm quilting! It was a fun day of learning, and I will write more about it tomorrow; today's post is about the quilt and the finish.

The eventual recipient of this t-shirt quilt is Abby, a recent high school grad and current student at the University of Cincinnati. Her grandmother plays bridge in some of the same clubs as my mother, and in this roundabout way, I was commissioned to do this quilt. Strange how those things work, you know? I brought the t-shirts home with me in the spring and finished the binding last night. What a sense of accomplishment - and a sense of freedom! To have all three commissions done feels really good.

The backing and binding fabric is a very nice flannel of red and black plaid on white. Because of its weight, this will be one extremely warm and cozy quilt in the cold days of winter. I can see this being well used in a college dorm or apartment. It is roughly 72" x 88" - more than ample for a dorm bed, I would think. It will serve regardless of the size of her bed.

I took several pictures of it, mostly because I quilted it!!! I stitched those quilting curlicues! And, the customer did a fantastic job of placing the shirts exactly where she wanted them - I always like to have good separation of colors, and that is certainly accomplished here.

Come on back tomorrow for I will share with you all the excitement of my first ever long-arm experience. There might even be a video! (never done that before, so we'll see...)

I am linking with Needle and Thread Thursday; hope you'll skip on over there to see what some other quilters have been working on.

Happy Quilting, Friends!