Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Goodbye March

What a whirlwind (emphasis on 'wind') month this has been! The Spring Dreams Sew Along has been my main focus both here on the blog and in the sewing room. What fun it has been and - a bonus! - productive, too!

Besides the Sew Along, I have been occupied with fixing minor issues with the long arm, then quilting a gift, and finally, finishing the gift. The collage for this month shows the highlights.

Top Row: The original Spring Dreams quilt; I just adore how it turned out. It truly is a dreamy quilt, and very indicative of spring with its soft green sashing and flower-like pops of color. The middle picture is my scrappy version of Spring Dreams, and it is just table-topper size, or wall hanging. The final picture shows my continued work on the appliqued panels for Lake Effect. 

Middle Row: The Lulu Lane Spring Dreams quilt; my impromptu quilt came together super-fast, and I (almost) love it as much as the original! The next two pictures are from the wedding for our neighbors' daughter; you see the happy couple as they exit the altar, and then the group of dear friends with whom I play cards (Dorothy, mother of the bride, me, Cheryl, Rhonda, Mindy). We did have masks on! We removed them for the photo! 

Bottom Row: And the latest of the Spring Dreams quilts - Patriotic Dreams. I used mostly fabric from my mom and grandma. The size is suitable for a patio table, which is how I hope to use this. The final two pictures show my work on Meadow Lily, the gift for the bride and groom (collage center). I will be so incredibly happy if I ever get to the point where I am proficient on this long arm! At present, it still intimidates me, frustrates me, and unnerves me. I need to buck up, take charge, and master this thing! I did finish it, but not without some aggravations.

What a fun month March has been, even with the long arm headaches. And I have a lot to look forward to in April. The Frankfort girls will spend a week away at a quilt retreat over near Nelsonville, OH. Gosh, I can hardly wait. After having last year's retreat cancelled, this is a much-anticipated event! My intent, too, is to make significant progress on the long arm machine. I have a commission to finish and a couple of others that I want to do - for me!

I hope March has been a good month for you, dear readers! We now can anticipate April, warmer weather, sunnier days, and the rebirth of flora and fauna! Hallelujah!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Bridal Quilt

 I will stop in today for a quickie post just to share the fully completed quilt I gave to our neighbor's daughter for her very recent wedding. You all are probably tired of seeing pictures of this quilt, as I've bemoaned several issues with it over the years. All that is behind me now as it's in the hands of John and Dorothy, our neighbors and parents of the bride.

The quilt is already old, if we go by when it was started - that would be 2006. I was excited to work on it and eager for the finish, until I made the decision to increase the size. If you note, the quilt is quite narrow on that queen bed, and I figured that adding a row to the width would make it more suited to most beds nowadays.

Well, I did not have enough fabric to do that, so I went completely cold turkey on this quilt. Boom. Into the storage tub it went, and stayed for at least 10 years. At that point, I couldn't even remember why I stopped working on it, and just assumed that I'd sewn some parts wrong, and had a lot of 'unsewing' ahead of me.

In 2019, I finally tackled fixing things. It was at this point after being unable to find errors, that I recalled my plan to increase the size. Well, pfht! Make it according to the pattern, and be done with it!!

And so I did, and now it's quilted, and now it belongs to Sarah and Jason.

The pattern is Meadow Lily by Thimbleberries, from the book At Home With Thimbleberries Quilts. The blocks finish at 10 inches, and the quilt dimensions are 72 x 92 inches. I just love that special border feature on the corners. Those partial lily blocks really give the quilt presence.

And, that's a wrap! A quilt done and delivered. Feels mighty good.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, March 29, 2021

Sew Along Update - Week 5

Good Monday morning, dear readers, sewists and quilters! Are you here for your weekly installment of the Spring Dreams Sew Along news? 

You are in for a treat today, gentle readers, as Dee has provided me with a wonderful snapshot of her history with all things sewing to use for today's post. I have always loved Dee's way with words, and have 40 years worth of saved correspondence from her as proof. She writes beautiful prose, often with powerful images that help the reader see the ordinary with new eyes. Throwing away her letters would be the equivalent of burning a book. I can do neither! See if you agree with me...

Though I’ve lived for decades in a place where there may be more cows than people, certainly more cornstalks than people, I did not grow up on a farm or in a village, and neither did my parents or both sets of grandparents. My maternal grandparents worked in tall office buildings.  My grandmother made the lined and tailored jackets, fine fitted skirts, and crisp many-buttoned blouses she wore to work downtown in the capital city of our almost Midwestern state.

By the time I knew her, the dressmaker’s dummy in her second floor sloped ceiling sewing room wore only the occasional “church dress.”  Yet all the bits of wool and satiny lining and muted shirtings showed up in my Christmas presents of beautifully made doll clothes.  My dolls were “dressed for success,” and parties and weddings and church meetings.

I knew what a sewing machine and a pattern could do making clothes, and made many of my own, when I moved away from the capital city and was fortunate to meet colleagues Jayne and Sharon.  Their long experience fashioning beautiful quilts, and their generosity, kindness, and intelligence, have inspired me over and over for a long time.  Thanks for the invitation to sew along, my friends!

My Spring Dream quilt is a bit different. The fabrics I’ve chosen are saturated with color; I wanted to use a jelly roll of soft white I bought on sale to offset them; and I’ve long admired the diagonal line in the 5 dark 4 light nine patch.  I’m also a fan of “white space” or open space if deep color is used.  Jayne long ago showed me how she sketched designs on graph paper, and that’s what I did to get an inkling of what my idea might look like.

My drawing also tells someone more experienced with words than numbers, yours truly, how many of the different pieces I’ll need. I played around with some multiplication, but there’s nothing like a picture to give a person confidence in a story problem!

As to fabric choices, I have designer bundles to thank, a bit of over-buying, and a long time standing by the cutting table where all the pieces were posed and auditioning for me.  In the end I kept two many-color florals and balanced them with those of less color variety and those with even less.  Will the finish be a “dream?”  I hope so! 

With all the strip sets sewn, I’m ready for 2.5 inch slicing, a full bobbin, a Jayne-recommended audio book, and the lovely puzzle of stitching together 72 squares with nary a repeated fabric in any 5 darks grouping.  Here we go!

Here we go, indeed! Isn't it exciting to begin, finally, stitching these carefully constructed units into actual blocks? Dee is at this fun point when the mental picture and graph paper sketch becomes real, tangible blocks. The design takes shape and comes to life.

Some housekeeping details to bring to your attention, especially for those who are sewing along with us.  First, I mentioned in a post this past week that the chart on Day 1 of our sew along might have errors. To clarify, the errors are only in the dimensions of the completed quilt tops. All the counts on the numbers of corner stones and sashing strips are correct.

Second, I have plans to write up a post which will pull all the pictures of all the sew along quilts together. This will prevent folks from having to hunt down certain quilts. It will also be simpler for my linking purposes to have just one to link, rather than several.

Stitch away, my friends! Please contact me if you need us to address something that we have not covered. We will continue with our creations, too, and by the end of spring, we will all have wonderful new quilts to share.

Happy Quilting, Friends!





Sunday, March 28, 2021

Slow Sunday Binding

Slow stitching for real this Sunday, and it is NOT Lake Effect, for a change! The quilt - Meadow Lily - which came off the long arm on Thursday night is getting its final side of binding tacked down today. Then, I plan to drive over to the neighbors' and drop it off for their daughter and new son-in-law.

A little over a week late on the gift. Not too bad, I guess. My track record is improving, at least. I have another quilt intended as a wedding quilt, and that couple has celebrated an anniversary and a baby. *geesh* Still needs to be quilted. Then bound. *double geesh*

Room for improvement, eh?

Of course, I am linking up with the weekly hand-stitching party over at Kathy's Quilts. Today's installment of Slow Sunday Stitching talks specifically about binding, so it is fitting that I am posting this today.

Have a great Sunday, dear peeps! 

Happy Quilting, Friends!


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Whining; Long Arm Woes

Learning something new takes dedicated hard work and focus. I have told my composition students this repeatedly over the years, and I now need to take my own advice. Since receiving the gift of the Tin Lizzie in the fall of 2016, I have taken way too much time in dedicating myself to focusing on learning how to successfully use this machine. I know I can't just step up to the machine and quilt a quilt with the skill of a professional. I must allow myself to progress on a natural learning curve.

Easier said than done.

I was told by one shop owner/Tin Lizzie dealer that I am "chicken." He would be correct. I am afraid  of it! Afraid to make mistakes; afraid of messing up a quilt; afraid of breaking or misusing the long arm machine; afraid of yet another repair trip. All of it is intimidating. I want to learn, but there is so much to learn. It becomes overwhelming. 

I have had a few successes. Gosh, those have been great. Most have been quilts I've made for others, like the ones shown above; baby quilts and t-shirt quilts. The mistakes and missteps I encounter in between those successes are what seem to intensify my fears. I let the possibility of mistakes stop me dead in my tracks. I will never learn and improve if I am paralyzed by my fear of failure.

 I just took Meadow Lily, a wedding gift, off the frame, after putting it on February 28th. My intention was to have it quilted and off the machine within a week. Definitely by the time of the wedding on the 20th. It suffered many setbacks, the biggest of which resulted in picking out the quilting of one long pass of stitches. See below for what I removed. Ugh. Is it any wonder I am slightly gun shy? This quilt will be late to the newlyweds. (It's not the first; nor the last, I'm sure.)

The problem had a couple of layers. First I did not leave enough space for the machine to quilt freely to the edge of the quilt. Second, I was sloppy in loading the backing as well as the batting. My fix for the top of the quilt as it is put onto the frame is to use a header. I sewed a long strip of stiff fabric together, and then hand basted it to the quilt. The header was then pinned to the leader on the frame/bar, this gave me space to work out stitching and creases and such. It worked like a dream and I think I will continue to do this on future quilts. Here's a couple of pictures showing what I did.

Another concern that is going to have to be addressed before quilting another quilt is to figure out why I have occasional long stitches. See the picture below; the seam ripper is pointing to the big, long stitch.

I think this can be attributed to dust (yes, this is a dusty job) and/or an old needle. Below is a picture of the dust that accumulates in the area around the bobbin after one pass of the machine down the length of the quilt. Incredible how much dust is created. I will do a thorough cleaning/oiling and insert a new needle before starting the next quilt.

I do feel I am becoming less of a chicken. It is a constant inner battle with myself. One minute I can be so determined to master this thing; the next I can procrastinate and drag my feet. Woe is me!

YouTube videos have been great at motivating me. Instagram Reels are also giving me confidence. Those gals do this so seemingly effortlessly! I tell myself I can be that confident, too, if I would just work at it.

Okay, enough whining. I have a quilt to bind!

There is a page dedicated to all the quilts I have actually quilted on the long arm. Click over in the side bar (if viewing on a laptop) or in the drop-down box (if viewing on a smartphone). Small steps.

Happy Quilting, Friends!


Friday, March 26, 2021

A Quilted Quilt, At Last

 I do hope I can count on you fine readers to celebrate my completion of this quilt. It was to be done by a week ago for a wedding. I missed that deadline. One week late on a wedding gift isn't too bad - the couple will just be returning from their honeymoon. I hope to deliver to the bride's parents this weekend.

Let's look. Pictures galore, but you know I am excited to have a quilt fresh off the long arm, right?!!

The quilt went onto the long arm frame on February 28 (or thereabouts). So for nearly a month I have procrastinated over this quilt. I had a bad experience about 2 weeks ago when I had to pick out a whole pass of quilting. That increased my reluctance to try again. 

I am short on time today; I will provide more details on the pattern, the making, the setbacks, etc. soon.

Have a great Friday!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Patriotic Dreams

A spurt of creative energy has me making Spring Dreams Sew Along quilts one after another. Yesterday, I finished the patriotic version, and gosh, it looks so festive! 

While sewing it, I was struck by the chaotic nature of the fabrics - almost garish in the variety. Just keep on stitching, I told myself. It's supposed to be a celebration of the USA! Think fireworks, banners. parades, streamers - all the stuff of the Fourth of July. So, I think this works quite nicely.

Draped over the front porch settee, I like the way it pulls out the red of the shutters and chair cushions along with the white of the wicker. This quilt is square (6 blocks x 6 blocks) so will make a nice porch throw.

And if I don't use it as a porch throw, I can always use it as a table cloth. I won't have to work too hard to decorate for the Fourth; this quilt will go a long way to adding a festive punch to the decor.

The fabrics that make up the 9-patches are all from a jelly roll with a couple of minor exceptions. The sashing and the cornerstone fabrics came from my late grandmother's stash. She was exceedingly fond of patriotic quilts, so there was a hefty collection from which I could pull.

Here is Patriotic Dreams all folded up and waiting her turn in the long arm queue. (That's a long, long queue, but she might get bumped up.) This photo gives you a closer look at the fabrics. Busy, isn't it? With so few blocks (36), this throw-sized quilt went together quite fast. I love making this pattern!

You can see earlier renditions of this quilt through these links. They will also provide information about joining us in this sew along.

Original Spring Dreams Quilt

Scrappy Spring Dreams

Sharon's Paris Flea Market Spring Dreams

Lulu Lane Spring Dreams

The Inspiration Picture from blogger and Instagrammer, Helen Philipps.

Important note: I am double-checking my math on the chart provided in a couple of those links. I have a sneaking suspicion that I may be off with some of my numbers, so proceed cautiously until I provide an update one way or another.

Happy Quilting, Friends!


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

An 'Ah-Ha' Moment

After all these years of making quilts, it seems rather unlikely that I would discover something new, but I believe I have. And maybe it isn't new at all; perhaps it is just a new-to-me revelation. Read on to see if you are aware of this occurrence in your own quilting.

"The very act of working on a quilt causes the quilter to dream up plans for making more quilts."

There. What do you think? Could this be an actual phenomenon? Have generations of quilters known this to be true?

I was at the sewing machine yesterday, working on my patriotic version of the Spring Dreams Sew Along. I am currently at the stage where I am attaching sashing strips to cornerstones, and making rows. 

Before too long, I was daydreaming about the next Spring Dreams quilt I will make. It was effortless, I tell you. The idea of making another quilt came to me as naturally as breathing. In September, my sister's son and d-i-l will become first-time parents; that baby will need a quilt. What simpler quilt could be called for than a baby version? I will wait until we have a gender reveal, then get cracking on it.

And you might think - well, that is entirely normal. Everyone knows that making baby quilts is what quilters give to new parents. True; I have recorded making several over the years right here on this very blog. The revelation, at least to me, is the timing of the idea. It came to me whilst nearing the finish of a quilt top. 


But I wasn't done! No! I kept on dreaming. It is clear that I am going to have quite a bit of patriotic fabric remaining when this current quilt is done, so I began planning the next quilt to make with these remnants. Since there are still several jelly roll strips, I supposed a 9-patch would make sense, but perhaps with the yardage I would add hourglass blocks, and then stitch them up for a fun and festive quilt. And just like that, I planned yet another quilt.

Remaining 2.5" strips

Remaining yardage - all from Grandma's stash

See what I mean? Working on a quilt begets plans for more quilts.

This seems rather harmless, and not overly astounding. Just thinking and planning, after all. However, in considering things a bit more thoroughly, it occurs to me that I have been consistently doing this for years - so long, in fact, that my "To Do" list grows significantly with each quilt I stitch. That goals list I share every January becomes laughable by March. I've penciled in so many more quilts to make that an addendum might be in the works.

I don't think this is peculiar just to me. Sharon might have this tendency, too. (Or else we feed off each other!) 

The last few times Sharon has been here to sew, we tossed around ideas for 2-color quilts using solids. This, despite the fact that we were stitching away on our Spring Dreams quilts, and having several other WIPs (works in progress) waiting to be finished. Before too long, we were pulling out fabric tubs and deciding to make Double Irish Chain quilts. 

Mine will be blue and creamy white!

If it sounds like I am complaining about this "condition," I assure you that is definitely NOT the case. The very idea of making more and more and more quilts appeals to me on absolutely every level. This pastime provides so much satisfying enjoyment, that it never, ever grows old. 

Wanna' make a quilt? *wink*

Happy Quilting, Friends!



Monday, March 22, 2021

Sew Along Update - Week 4

How is everyone doing with the Spring Dreams quilt? Are you finding it as addictive to work on as I am? It seems to go together so fast that "making just one more block" takes no time at all.

It seems prudent to say here as we are now almost a month into the sew along that rushing is not the objective. We are enjoying the process - the many processes - involved in quilt making.

Take your time to find the fabrics you want. Whether you are restricting yourself to your fabric on hand - your stash, as it's known, or whether you are off to your local quilt shop (LQS) to touch and dream and consider all the myriad options, or whether you are loading an online shopping cart - all of these options for fabric choices comprise a process that is an enjoyable one.

And speaking of considering options, perhaps you also want to factor in your individual need. Maybe you need a baby quilt in the near future. Maybe you want to make a quilt to fill a design need in your home. Maybe you want to use up some of a burgeoning stash.  Sometimes, the need is to simply make a quilt that requires very little thinking and planning - just cutting and sewing! Hey, enjoy those processes, too. *wink*

To inspire you in this sew along, scroll through here for pictures of the quilt tops finished so far. First, let's have a look once again at the picture of Helen Philipps' quilt which is serving as our inspiration.

Click for source.

Helen's quilt is a table topper. Perhaps that was her need, or perhaps she was using up leftover fabrics. Or perhaps her need was to make a little quilt fast. Who knows? I certainly don't, but regardless, she made a pretty quilt that I wanted to imitate.

My particular need was more desire than need: make a quilt that looked like Helen's using fabric from my existing stash. No buying! It was such an enjoyable quilt to make! It makes me so happy just staring at it. This original Spring Dreams quilt is 72 blocks (8x9). Strip-piecing the 9-patches made for a very fast finish.

As Sharon was beginning the sew along, her desire was to use some favorite fabric in her stash - Paris Flea Market by 3 Sisters/Moda. She selected a complimentary polka dot fabric by Robyn Pandolph for the sashing, and came out with this breathtaking beauty, so whispery soft and feminine. Her quilt contains 16 blocks (4x4); she was limited by the sashing fabric and made her quilt as big as that fabric would allow.

While working on my first quilt, I thought it might be fun to limit myself to using only the scraps I have recently been cutting and sorting. That became my rule: totally scrappy, no yardage. When Spring Dreams was done, I began work on Scrappy Spring Dreams. At just 9 blocks (3x3), it was so very fast to make.

It was right about this point in the sew along that I was nearing obsession. (That's a good thing, by the way.) After browsing in an LQS, I was inspired to use my Corey Yoder collection (tucked away over a year ago). The CY tub had enough fabric for another full-size quilt, so I jumped in and made Lulu Lane Spring Dreams.

Currently, my need is to have a patriotic quilt, and I am working on that one now. I envision it being in the range of a lap quilt, but I will be flexible concerning size. It will end up being determined by my sashing fabric.

One thing I hope you are NOT doing is concerning yourself with hurrying. I know all too well how limited one's time can be, and it's hard to show a lot of progress if you also have a job and a family and additional obligations. In my case, I am not working this semester, so I am free all day, every day (this pandemic!), consequently I am finishing these quilts rather quickly. My speed is just that - my speed. You do your speed, as fast or as slow as that may be. Just enjoy!

Happy Quilting, Friends!