Sunday, February 28, 2021

Slow Stitching to Finish February

 Last day of February! Winter is waning, and spring is just around the corner! Yippee!

We had a dreadfully cold and snowy February, and this last week has provided just the hint of warmer weather we so anticipate. We still have patches of snow on the ground, but for the most part it has all melted and is draining away, invigorating dormant roots into soon popping up fresh new growth.

The quilting room has been abuzz all month with new quilt tops, scrap containment, long arm quilting, planning future projects, and gearing up for our sew along. Big news on that will be the topic of tomorrow's post, so be sure to come back.

Today, it feels good to just relax awhile with needle and thread. I am happy to report that I am working on the last applique panel. Very soon all the vines will be done. I do not remember doing it, but when I prepped the vine on the panel I just finished, I must have also prepped the vine on this one. So I will finish the vines then move on to leaves and berries. The very last bit I'll do is the two remaining birds.

My basket is one I recently emptied of scrap fabrics in my ongoing efforts to bring some order to scrap situation. I wonder if you have heard of Longaberger Baskets? We in Ohio claim the company as a homegrown product, although I believe they are no longer in business locally, but have been acquired by a New York-based company. My husband's hometown is near Dresden, the original home of Longaberger. Have been through there countless times.

But I digress.

I am linking up with the fine ladies over at Kathy's Quilts weekly party, Slow Sunday Stitching. Won't you go have a look around? 

Tomorrow we officially launch our little sew along. Are you going to join in? It would be lovely if you do. The beauty of this sew-along is the lack of any pressure. You can begin when you like; make your quilt as big or small as you like; finish when you like; be as randomly scrappy as you like; or be as controlled and orderly as you like. A stress-free endeavor, for sure. More tomorrow!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, February 27, 2021

A Long Arm Success, At Last

 After Thursday's debacle in the long arm room, and yesterday's trip to McArthur, the day ended with my having a small victory.

The baby quilt was already loaded onto the frame, so I simply needed to readjust things that were disrupted when I removed the machine, and I was off to the races! The idea was that I'd do this long-overdue baby quilt first, as it would not only reacquaint me with that free-motion quilting groove, but would also be a fast finish.

Mission accomplished. I was done in no time, and felt relatively comfortable with the motions necessary. I must admit that after all the complications I'd been experiencing with the Tin Lizzie, I felt a definite sense of satisfied relief to finish so effortlessly. 

Just look at that - lint! A lint-filled bobbin area means that quilting has been accomplished. Nice.

I will take a lot more time on the next two quilts in the queue as they are wedding gifts and must look really good. Baby quilts, on the other hand, are for throwing on the floor and occasional baby messes, consequently they must simply be sturdy and comforting. Perfect for me to get back into the long arming groove.


Today, another quilt will go onto the machine. I plan to finish February with a flurry - and the humming purr of Miss Tin Lizzie.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Friday, February 26, 2021

Well, Pfffttthhh.

Talk about a day that was a big fat bust - yesterday. Zero. Epic fail. 

I loaded the baby quilt onto the long arm, as planned. I fired up the Tin Lizzie, and daggone if that control was malfunctioning - AGAIN! This was the exact same problem I was having when I last took the machine in for repairs. The problem was evident from the 'needle down/needle up' routine that brings the bobbin thread to the top. I wasn't even able take one stitch on the baby quilt.


I stewed about the predicament for awhile, then called Terry over at the McArthur Quilt Shop. He'd just fixed this in January, for goodness' sake. From that last repair, I could very easily describe to him the issue, and his 'fix' - replace the sensor - so he wanted to take another look. That's what we've done this morning.


Have you ever seen the inner workings of a sewing machine or quilting machine? Here ya' go! Above, we are looking at the 'mother board' or computer chips that control needle up, needle down, start, stop, speed and a couple more things. He'd replaced a sensor in January, but with a used one. Today, he installed a new one.

Here's the other side of the machine - the electrical side, I'm thinking. He had to plug in the sensor here on this side, thread it through the machine, and insert the computer chip on the side shown in the picture above.

Terry, a mechanical genius, is behind my machine, checking the connections. We started her up and she did what she was supposed to do when I pushed all the buttons in question.  Thank goodness! Now, I hope I am in for a good, long stretch of long arming!

No charge. 

He didn't charge me for the hour or so that he spent fixing me up. Thank you, Terry.

The drive time to and from McArthur is about 2 hours. After the umpteenth trip over there for various needs, it becomes inconvenient. Hopefully, now, all systems are go. The machine is back on the frame, and here in a little bit I am heading back upstairs to quilt that baby quilt. 

Life's little curve balls - we all have them, and many have them worse than this, so I can totally deal with such little hiccups.

Happy Quilting, Friends!


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Changing Directions

I finished the quilt top for our sew along last evening. Gosh it looks fantastic. I will show you the pretty creation on Monday when we officially kick off our sew along event. Click back through recent posts to see bits of it. (This is teasing at its best!)

So what to do with myself between now and then? I have two other projects on my radar - the blue Kaffe Fassett stars and the red and white stars. I've made blocks for each of those quilts and their respective tubs are close at hand in the sewing room. I could so very easily immerse myself in either of those and be just as happy as can be. With a couple of audio books in the queue, I could spend hours stitching.

But other needs are rather pressing at the moment. In the adjoining room, sits a Tin Lizzie long arm quilting machine, and I need to be cranking out some quilts. Four top candidates are draped across the bars in this picture.

The one I am likely going to do today is the little baby quilt on the far end. Something small will be just the ticket for getting my muscle memory back for working free-motion quilting designs. I have backing ready to go, and by evening I could be applying the binding.

The other three quilts here also need to be done. One is way overdue for a wedding quilt (they've been married more than a year now!); one is for an upcoming wedding, and the t-shirt quilt is the commission that must be finished by May. I'm sure all of these are pictured somewhere on this blog; I will share more complete pictures once they are quilted. 


That's a promise. 


Start with the smallest; get my groove going, then bing!bing!bing! Knock out those other three like a pro. Well, maybe someday I will do them this effortlessly; currently, I'm still a tentative novice. 

The only way to move beyond novice is to practice. Make some true effort to master this business. 

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Sew Along Prep

We are less than a week away from the official start of the sew along. March first is the day we begin, and since that is a Monday, I am going to try to make Mondays my day to check in with fellow sew along stitchers here on the blog.

Before I get to the details of the sew along, let me first tell you about the gorgeous weather we are having. After weeks and weeks of colder than normal temperatures and many inches of snowfall, we are at last experiencing a warming trend here in southern Ohio. Check out these sunny pictures taken just outside our back porch. Refreshingly warm at around 40 degrees.


Sharon was here yesterday and gosh, did we get a lot of sewing accomplished! She is still working on her French General version of Lucy. She took a big step by finishing the 25-patch blocks and began the half-snowball blocks. Her hope is to be constructing the quilt top by our next sewing day. I can't wait to share pictures of her Lucy; it will look so very different from mine.

Before allowing myself to work on the sew along, I needed to finish the last border on the t-shirt quilt. It is now ready for quilting. Could I possibly have this quilt finished a full 2 months before the deadline?? It might happen!

The rest of the day was spent on the sew along. I finally completed a rather thorough recipe for sew along stitchers. For as much math as is required in quilting, I am forever counting, recounting, and then recounting my recount.

That first official post coming on Monday will detail a whole lot of numbers for 4 sizes. I am fairly confident in my figures; I did tell Sharon that perhaps all my figures should come with an asterisk indicating no guarantee of accuracy. *grin*

Finally, I put away the pencil and paper, and got to sewing! Have a look! Sashing strips of the prettiest green, and cornerstones of a sweet little calico. I simply love the combination.

With a good stretch of sewing time today, I could have this quilt top together. I am making an 8x9 quilt (72 9-patches). I am so encouraged by how the early rows are looking. I can't wait to show you!

If you are at all interested in a sweet, easy little diversion in the sewing room, why not join us? You can click back to these earlier posts - here and here - for how we hatched this virtual project. The difficulty level is about as basic as can be - any quilter who can cut 2.5-inch strips and squares and can make 9-patches will feel no stress; it's all about the visiting while we create a very easy, yet beautiful quilt.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Red and White Dreams

It may be a firmly held belief among quilters that the red and white quilt is the loveliest of all.


Back in 2011, the American Folklore Museum featured this beautiful color combination with a spectacular exhibit called "Infinite Variety, Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts." Below is a widely distributed picture of the event and it's massive variety. Wouldn't this have been an impressive sight to see in person?

A quick search of Pinterest or hashtags on IG will surely bring up thousands of examples of red and white quilts to admire and enjoy. That is exactly how I came across a quilt that had me smitten from the very first time I saw it. I shared it last month when I listed my goals for 2021

 I did a little searching and discovered that it is actually a pattern by Cotton Way. Had I not already begun the effort to create replicas of these blocks, I would have bought the pattern.  I certainly have bought my fair share of Cotton Way patterns as well as her daughter's patterns, Thimble Blossoms. I probably should have just bought the pattern, but gosh, the blocks already exist in my possession - it's just a matter of hunting them down in the sizeable book, magazine, and pattern collection I already have.

Earlier this week, I just couldn't stop thinking about this quilt, so I began pulling fabrics for the someday (this year!) when I would make it. I teased a little with this picture. 

 Well, scroll on, for I have succumbed to the temptation of 'let's start another project.'

My neutral and one of the red fabrics.

More of the reds; lots of variety!
I have had such an entertaining day making two of the blocks in this quilt. Have a look. 

I found both of these blocks in the very helpful book by the late Judy Hopkins, 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks.


While I don't think I need to continue on this quilt until I finish a couple of more pressing projects, I am glad to have spent a wintry morning (and afternoon!) playing in the fabric and prepping for a much-anticipated quilt.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Sew-Along, Anyone?

The wintry weather most of America is currently experiencing has us all cooped up indoors, bracing ourselves from the snow and frigid temperatures. I just read a report which said that 73% of the country is covered in snow, the most widespread coverage in over 15 years. Yowza!

While it is pretty to look at from the confines of a warm, cozy home, I feel for those who must go out in it daily - farmers, road crews, law enforcement, and so many others. I'm glad to be retired and staying out of the elements.

From within the confines of my warm, cozy sewing room, I have been putting quite a lot of brainwaves to work on the sew-along that Sharon, Dee and I are going to begin soon - March 1, to be precise.

This sew-along is not exclusive to the three of us. We welcome others to join us, if it suits a particular need for diversion. We are attempting the sew-along for more social reasons than for anything else - it is pure sewing circle-type activity for this little project. If the three of us were able to more easily visit together in person, the project before us would be of secondary concern. Camaraderie is the goal. That is why we've selected such an easy, simple quilt to make.

As you decide if you want to join our experimental little sew-along, you might want to know some project details.

Size of quilt - determined by one's preference. The inspiration quilt looks to be about 30-ish" square, as best I can tell. Helen Philipps' blog has several posts in which this quilt shows up as a table topper. I plan to make mine a full, bed-size quilt. Dee and Sharon will soon share what they have in mind.

Our inspiration; pic by Helen Philipps from Instagram.

Fabric needs - I have no intention of providing a yardage recipe (too much math involved in that, and I'd surely miscalculate!). I will, however, share my method. I determined the look and size I wanted, and then pulled from my stash tubs and drawers about 20 different fabrics that seemed to work together in a complimentary way for the quilt I have in mind. 

Anther fabric option: Use a jelly roll or partial jelly rolls, if you have left over from previous projects.

Cutting: The primary number to remember is 2.5 inches. That is why jelly rolls make a good option. If using the strip-piecing method (above), subunits are cut at 2.5 inches. If using individual squares to make the blocks, use 2.5-inch squares. Easy-peasy.

The two blocks above illustrate a quilt that will have a totally scrappy vibe to it. I used individually cut 2.5-inch squares and tried to be as random as possible with the fabrics and still keep within a "spring" color-way. These will be used for my sample quilt.

The 'real' quilt I am making for the sew-along will be lots less scrappy. I have a consistent white-on-white fabric for the background. A picture up above shows my strip sets. Below you can see some of the construction process for my blocks. These blocks are ready to have the third stripset added to them.

Does any of this entice you to join the fun? 

The long and the short of it: join us if you so desire. We don't have any prizes; we don't have a hard, fast deadline (although a long-range target for finishing is June 21, summer equinox). We just want to have an excuse to visit!

I am going to begin sharing some details on Instagram. I also will make an attempt at contacting Helen Philipps to share with her our enthusiasm for her little quilt. Wouldn't it be fun to get her thoughts on details she considered as she decided to make her sweet little quilt? 

I'm looking forward to doing this! It gives me something to eagerly anticipate at we survive the winter of '21.

Happy Quilting, Friends!


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

My Very Own Wintry Mix

 Around these parts - well, around the entire country, it seems - we are having winter in a very pronounced way. A veritable wintry mix wherever one looks! Snow and frigid temps from Texas to the Atlantic! We Ohioans were blanketed by about 8 inches of snow last week, 3 or 4 more inches added this past weekend, and then Monday  it was all topped off with a layer of ice. Nice wintry mix if ever I saw one!

In the sewing room, my attention span is as random as the weather. I flit from one project to another to another. 

For handwork, I reach for Lake Effect. I finished the vine I wrote about in the last post. Next up is to prepare for leaves. 

I have promised myself to work on the commission t-shirt quilt, and I have been. Today I finished construction on the center portion. Next up is a narrow inner border, followed by an outer border that will incorporate more t-shirt parts.

While I was pretty well focused Tuesday,  I enjoyed my own sewing room version of a wintry mix on Monday. I must have dabbled in a dozen different directions. I wanted to write a blog post, but my brain simply would not focus on a topic. I gave that up, at last, and spent time in the sewing room, making numerous efforts to settle on a task with absolutely no success. Instead, I did 'parts' of things.

Let me show you a little pictorial of some of the varied 'parts' accomplished. 

 First, I made 20 more 9-patch blocks for the sew-along we will be starting here with Sharon and Dee come March 1st. I now have a total of 50 completed. I felt the need to have a bit of this done in advance so that I'd have photos ready for when we officially begin.

Next, I thought about some additional pictures I could use for the sew-along, so I made some extra blocks. Then I thought about sashing for those extra blocks, so I did a bit on that, as well. These extra sample blocks are much scrappier than those I've made for my actual quilt.

After making the scrappier sample blocks, I added sashing. I have a few opinions about this little sample, and as we get into the sew-along, I will expound on all that. 

The sew-along was definitely my most-focused on project, but I was all over the place with my efforts. After working with the sample, I tried to figure out sizes. I didn't bother taking a picture of that attempt of diagrams, numbers, dimensions, and eraser crumbs on 2 smudged graph paper pages. What a mess.

Another part of the sew-along I pondered was sashing fabric for my quilt. My original thought was to use a polka dot, and I found 2 with potential. I have added a third option that is not dots. In the photo below, I've stretched the 3 contenders across my strips to see which one I like best.

While I was digging in the fabric stash, I began thinking about a quilt on my goals list - a red and white quilt. I have an inspiration picture in mind, so I also pulled some fabrics for that future effort. I've stored it and labeled it; you'll have to wait to see the array of reds I've selected.

Had enough of my wintry mix? It took me all day to finally get busy working on the one thing I ought to have been doing all day - the t-shirt quilt. After supper, I headed back upstairs and forced myself to cut the sashing strips and cornerstones. That little bit of effort put me in the mood to stitch some rows together. I stopped around 11pm with two rows finished.

Thankfully, the ability to focus returned on Tuesday, and like I said up top, I finished the center section of the t-shirt quilt. I'm so glad! The sooner I get this quilt finished, the sooner I can get going on that sew-along quilt and then that red and white quilt, and a whole bunch of others that I have lined up.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Slow Stitching; Still Lake Effect

I tried calculating the length of time I have been working on this quilt. It was on my radar in April of 2017 because I bought the fabrics for it in Jackson while we were on our Canter's Cave Retreat.  So I am coming up on a 4-year anniversary for Lake Effect, a project that I call a 10-year project in jest, knowing that it will be one of those long-haul quilts. I am trying to stay reasonably well-focused on it.

 Here's a picture of my pattern with some additional marks indicating the areas I have been working on since early autumn. Not overly zealous with my efforts, but I do return to it periodically.

Today I hope to finish this last bit of stitching on the vine for this panel. The black basting stitching indicates the remaining applique needing done. I am almost ready to begin on the leaves and berries! 

Here's a larger view of the area I have been working on this past week. I am slow; I don't pick it up every day, and will sometimes go for several days before getting back to it. 

 I had quite a few of those deep concave curves in this last section and I do believe I am getting better at them. I am not as fearful and reluctant when encountering them, which proves the point we all know - practice makes perfect; well, I am not anywhere near perfect, but improving.

I will link up with the fine friends in the Slow Sunday Stitching party over at Kathy's Quilts. She is celebrating Valentine's Day by sharing many of the little quilts she's made over the years to celebrate the day. I will add a celebration of my own; I found that Fat Quarter Shop offers several free patterns for Valentine's Day. I found one that I liked and you might, too.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

A Virtual Sew-Along

Friends for over 40 years - Dee, Sharon, and Jayne. We three go way back to our first years as English teachers at CHS. (To read additional history on our friendship, this post will provide basic details.) Now retirees and free from the constraints of our jobs, we are prohibited from enjoying sewing time together because of this dang pandemic. 

After a couple of calls and texts in recent days, we have devised a plan not too far removed from what most teachers (and just about everyone) have been doing during this pandemic - virtual meetings. We are preparing to sew together - virtually.

 We will officially start our little sew-along on March 1st and finish on June 20th, the summer solstice. I don't think we will in any way stress ourselves over that finish date, but it's something to shoot for. 

Here's a bonus for blog followers - we would love to have you sew along with us. PAR-TAY! As retired teachers, we think it'd be particularly fun if we had other teachers join us, English or math or home ec or elementary - the more the merrier - retired or not. 

Since we start in just two weeks, if you do want to sew along with us, the first order of business is to pull fabrics. The photo above shows what I have selected; it is far more fabric than I will need, but I want variety, so I will be cutting from them all. It's entirely possible that I will even add a couple more. 

Now for the quilt we are going to make. Something simple. Something that requires no advanced skills. Something that will allow us to be social while we sew. I don't think any of us will obsess about too much in this endeavor - we can make our quilt as small as a table topper or as big as a king size quilt.

We have selected this quilt for our sew-along. Made by Helen Philipps and pictured on this blog post (scroll to the bottom), it features easy elements: 2.5-inch squares, 2.5-inch strips, 9-patch blocks. I have not seen where she has a pattern for this quilt; with elements this basic, I suspect she made it up to suit herself. We will be doing likewise.

Good eye if you think this picture looks familiar. I showed it as a possible inspiration quilt for use in a scrap quilt when I shared my 2021 goals. A simple, easy quilt, it offers plenty of versatility. As the picture shows, it lends itself to scrappiness, but would work just as successfully in a planned color scheme. 

Stay tuned for more on our sew along. The three of us have been sharing potential fabrics back and forth through text messages. I have done some initial prepping. I 'm even going to attempt to contact Helen Philipps to share our excitement over her pretty inspiration quilt. 

We promise to share all of our activity here starting March 1.

Happy Quilting, Friends!