Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tiny Tuesday Returns

 Jill has started doing Midget Blocks and inspired me to pull mine out again.  It's been ages since I worked on one.  I think it was the Postage Stamp Blocks that got me side tracked.  Nobody is awake to take a picture, so the Christmas tree held up the block for me.  Such a nice tree. 
This is number 35 and is called Butterfly.  It seemed to have more seams than it needed, though I could see it done in lots of different fabrics. I almost substituted in some solid purple and yellow fabrics for the middle section of each wing, but decided to keep it simple.  It's one of those blocks that it would be fun to embellish with embroidery, but I won't 
I also finished off the next step in the RRCB mystery.  I'm using blue instead of pink to use up the extras from DJ.  I'm starting to sound like my husband who speaks in acronyms.  They actually supply them with a manual that list them all out at work.  He's gone next week again and I'm starting to get a little stressed about getting everyone to all of their activities at the right times. I think I've got it all down, but time will tell.  I made a little cheat sheet to keep it all straight. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Half a Tree but a Whole Lotta Quilting

We started getting the tree up this evening. We'll need a ladder for the rest, so it will have to wait until tomorrow. It's pouring rain right now, so getting the ladder out doesn't seem like a great idea.  All the neighbors got their outside lights up over the weekend so our house looks a little sad and lonely by comparison. 
I've been busily working away on the Elm Creek quilt. I've got most of the blocks quilted and started on the inner border. I'm still not sure how I'll quilt the outer piano key border, but the nice part about hand quilting is that I've got lots of time to figure it out as I quilt along. I'm trying to decide if I've got enough energy in me to hop up and start on the next step of RRCB, It wouldn't take much to at least go and rummage though the 3.5 inch strip drawer.  I could probably get at least that much done. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

No Place Like Home

As nice as it is to go and visit with family, it's always so nice to come back home again.  We ended up leaving last night after dinner so that we could go partway and then get up in the morning for the second half. That got us back in time today to make ice skating practices and get unpacked and settled in again. 11 hours is quite a drive so it was nice not to have it all in a single sitting. 

While we were there, I had my mother-in-law show me her Crazy quilt. It belonged to her mother, and according to the embroidery, it was finished in 1884.  It is full of velvets and laces and ribbons and adorned with lots of lovely handwork.  Some of the bits are beginning to wear away, but considering its age, I'd say it's still in pretty good shape. 
When she had it appraised, she was told that the chintz backing was one of the things that added to its value as it had to be shipped all the way from England. It's never been washed and the fabric is quite crisp. 
While we were there, she also got a family tree in the mail from a relative who has done quite a bit of genealogy.   I dabble with the family tree from time to time, so I'll have to compare his tree with mine and add in the missing relatives. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Give Thanks

Today I am thankful for family.  We spent the day together celebrating and visiting and watching old home movies.  Nothing makes you feel older than looking at the babies in you wedding video and hearing about the babies they have had.  We combined Christmas with Thanksgiving today so the kids were all on santa behavior.  The men are playing golf in the morning and we'll all see a movie in the afternoon.  Sydney has taken a liking to the corn hole game that her cousins got as a gift so I am seeing a lot of that in our immediate future. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

11 Hours in a Car

I sewed.....by hand..... and it wasn't even applique.  Such a nice way to pass a long car trip.  This is Midget block 50 I think, it's called Nosegay.  Check out all those nifty set in seams!  It is in desperate need of an iron, but there wasn't one in our hotel room.  I also brought along my Elm Creek quilt and got quite a lot of hand quilting done.  Then it got dark and I read Anne of Avonlea on the i-pad.  Hardly seemed like 11 hours at all.

Midget Block Prep

I'm hoping to have some time this weekend to work on some hand sewing.  In preparation, I spent some time tonight getting a couple of Midget Blocks prepped.  I had to scan ahead quite a bit to find blocks that weren't paper pieced, but finally found numbers 40 and 58.  40 is called Nosegay and it is sort of a LeMoyne variation with inset seams best done by hand.  58 I started on our last car trip.  It is called Diamond Field, but is really a Grandmother's Flower Garden variation.
I've been trying for the past hour to add pictures, and ^&%#@ blogger won't let me.  So just use your imagination.  I took a pretty picture of lots of little bits of fabric nicely organized into adorably cute page protectors.  Got it?  Good!  I'm giving up on photos for now.  

Monday, November 22, 2010

Design Wall Monday Nov 22

Any reasonably bright person would have picked one set of blocks to focus on in order to have an entire top finished before the end of the weekend.  However, I was using scraps before cutting into yardage and so ended up with some alternate blocks for each of two quilts instead.  Hopefully I'll be able to whip up the rest  before Thanksgiving, though I fear that things will get too busy in the next few days.  I will still need to play with the layout a bit, but the general idea is coming together.  The top quilt is my muted Christmas sampler, and the one below is my bright Christmas sampler. Maybe coming up with better names should be on my "to do" list somewhere.   I think I'll add a couple of borders to each and maybe find a nice soft flannel to back them with. 

Make sure to pop over to Judy's to see what everyone else is up to on Design Wall Monday. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekend Wrapup

I finally got Double Delight loaded onto the frame this afternoon.  I've been saving it until I got better at machine quilting.  Eventually I just wanted to get it done though.  I am doing a continuous nine patch pattern in the star blocks and a flower kind of thing in the setting triangles and pink squares.  The inner yellow border is getting a ribbon candy treatment and the big blue border is getting saved for later.  I found out after I got it started that the blocks on point are just bigger than the available quilting area, causing me to make some adjustments as I figure out how to quilt half a block at a time.  I think I got it about half done before it was time to take Anna to ice skating.  Ryan's year end football party was after that, so most of the afternoon was spoken for. 
I took the extra fabric from Amy's BOM to the iceplex and started trimming fabric for the alternate squares.  I'm going with an Irish  Chain sort of block to give the sampler squares some room to breath.  I've got the blocks separated into 10 kind of bright and 10 more muted.  It should make a nice pair of Christmas snuggle quilts. 
I have been enjoying free books on the i-pad.  The first one I downloaded was Anne of Green Gables because  I thought it might be a nice one for Anna to read.  I'm not sure how I missed this series as a kid.  It is just such a delightful story.  I've been laughing out loud as I read it.  I'm sure people think I'm a bit odd, but there are worse things to be than a bit odd. 
I couldn't let a post go by without another silly picture of Sydney.  She decided to use sidewalk chalk as make-up.  Anna and Ryan both have field trips tomorrow and Sydney is going to the dentist to have a tooth pulled.  She's a little bit bummed about that.  Maybe we'll go out for ice cream after. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

RRCB Step 1

It seems like ages since I've had any sewing to post.  I've just finished off step 1 of the Bonnie Hunter mystery though and am feeling the need to get some sewing done this afternoon.  I'm using blue and green and brown color scheme. 
The girls have been busy with ice skating lately.  They are both going to be in the Christmas show this year, so there have been lots of extra rehearsals for that.  I've been borrowing Kurt's i-pad and getting quite a lot of reading done.

Ryan has joined a Lego Robotics league and had his first tournament this morning.  I don't entirely understand exactly how it works, but he seems to enjoy it, so that is the most important thing I guess.  Kurt has been helping out with that and so has been pretty busy lately balancing football and OM and the Lego thing. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And Not a Stitch was Sewn

I am beginning to feel human again although afternoon nap still seemed to help me get through the day.  There hasn't been any extra energy left over for sewing in a while.  I've got lots of projects left dangling along the way that I'm anxious to get back to.  I was over at Ramblings of  a Fabric and Yarn Obsessor and saw that Jill is doing a sew along with the Midget Blocks.  It's been a while since I worked on mine, and I'm anxious to get back to them again.  Is anyone else thinking about joining in?  More people and more blocks are more fun. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Best Camping Weekend Ever

I really wanted to skip camping this weekend.  I've been sick all week and could have happily studied the inside of my eyelids for several days. My good friend Meisje was planning the event though, and I've been trying to help her out a little along the way.  So I went to the drug store and asked for the good stuff that they keep hidden in the back and packed up my box of tissues and my happy face.
Meisje was driving and we did an amazing job of loading up five people and two families along with the regular camping stuff like tents and food and the event stuff like craft and game supplies.  The weather was perfect, the campground was beautiful, the people were friendly and helpful.  There wasn't much that could have made it a better weekend. 
Meisje and I were sharing a site which was adjacent to our friends Sue and Ashlyn.  We all took turns cooking meals and had lots of tasty food without a lot of effort. We all have 11 year old daughters and they enjoyed spending some time together. 
Friday evening was arrival and unpacking.  The girls made team flags to mark their campsites and then went trick-or-treating for trail mix.   We then had a campfire with delicious s'mores and jiffy pop.  There were giant marshmallows that were sinfully delicious.  Sue cooked hard and soft tacos.  Food always tastes so much better when it is eaten outside next to a campfire. 
Saturday morning Ashyln cooked pancakes and bacon and then we went on a nature walk with a ranger in the morning and learned about the native vegetation.  The girls chewed on teeth tree which is used to make Novocaine and nibbled on salt pickle and sea wart. 
After that there was a presentatation on local animal life followed by games and crafts. I didn't get many pictures after that because I was helping out. 
That afternoon Sue and Ashlyn took the older girls to Ripley's Believe it or Not while Sydney and I stayed back to set up for the campfire and dinner.  Dinner was catered by a local barbeque place and was delicious!  It is so nice to camp with a group of Girl Scout leaders because everyone is always so ready to lend a hand.  Every time we turned around, someone was finishing what we had started or putting away the pieces.  The big group campfire and sing along followed, and the girls got team prizes for chips that they had earned doing good deeds. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mystery Solved

When I was making the postage stamp quilt, I knew I had gotten the idea from a tutorial I saw online, but I couldn't remember from where.  I really need to be more systematic about keeping track of where I see things.  Every day I see great quilts, and so often think I should make one just like it.  It doesn't happen very often though, that I actually follow through and do it. 
This one struck me just right and ended up turning into a quilt.  I was pleased as punch to get an e-mail from Cyndi at Seems to you and me who wondered if her tutorial hadn't been the one I saw?  Sure enough, there it was, clear as day, even with a nice little link on the side.  So I went back to my Nov 4 Tutorial and added in links and credit for the original source of the idea.  I think I will leave it there though, because mine turned out a bit different with smaller blocks and sashing strips.  Go check out the original though, if you are thinking of doing postage stamps, because it is a bit more authentic than mine.  So thanks Cyndi, for the great idea. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lollipop Washed and Life Goes On

 Yesterday I stayed home sick.  Kurt brought a hacking cough and noxious cold back from New Orleans and was nice enough to share.  I stayed snuggled up in bed with a good book and slept the morning away.  My friend Meisje who is an avid reader suggested  a new book which I am thoroughly enjoying.  She also suggested Sex Lives of Cannibals a couple of years ago, and that one was so funny.  I'm enjoying this one, it has a nice Forest Gump kind of simplicity that is very appealing.  I keep expecting each chapter to end with the main character saying, "And that's all I have to say about that."
 Today I got a redbox movie so I could sit down and sew the binding on Lollipop.  Lizzie didn't want to let me have my chair though, or my favorite t-shirt quilt.  I'm on the couch now, quiltless, listening to her happily snore the evening away. 
On the bright side though, Lollipop just came out of the dryer.  The raw edges of the quilt applique as you quilt circles are raveling nicely, giving the quilt a casual and comfortable feeling.  I was having tension issues during the quilting process, but they seemed to have resolved themselves in the wash.  I love the butterfly fabric that Sydney chose for the back.  I think it will go great with the butterfly pillowcase I made for her a couple of weeks ago. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lollipop Finshed

I was planning to cut a binding for Lollipop from the same fabric collection as the backing.  I took a quick peek in the extra binding drawer though, and there was plenty of binding already cut that would do the trick quite nicely.  So on it went and I'm calling it done.  As soon as the washer is free I'll pop it in and see what happens with the raw edge applique.  Wish me luck.

Design Floor on Monday Nov 8

 The end of a year always makes me want to cross things off the list so that I can start new projects with the new year.  Spinning Stars was one of the projects I started near the beginning of last year.  I'm glad I wrote down a plan or I never would have remembered exactly how it was supposed to come together. 
My plan calls for 3.5 inch strips between the quadrants and then all the way around before a double border of four patches.  I've got the four patches all ready to go, so I just need to decide on a color for the strips.  I think I know what I want, but could use some votes.  Beige or green, which one looks better? 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quilt in a Day

 From start to finish, this truly was a quilt made today.  It is just a rectangular piece of background fabric with circles of fabric scattered.  The circles were cut with my Accuquilt GO cutter and then temporarily glue sticked down by my seven year old daughter. 
They were sewn on as the top was quilted on my HQ 16.  I'll have to attach the binding tomorrow, but other than that, it is done.  It isn't huge, but I think it will be a nice size for the kids to snuggle under on the couch during this cold snap we've been having.  I'm excited to get the binding done so that I can throw it into the wash and see how the edges fray.  This is my first foray into raw edge applique and I'm curious to see how it will turn out. 

Tangential Quilter

Last night Kurt was in bed by 8 (still recovery from his business trip), so after the kids were asleep I decided to catch up on ironing.  I went though most of the scrap basket and a couple of flimsies and some yardage that had come out of prewashing.  Taking advantage of daylight savings, I thought I'd use my extra hour last night instead of this morning.

My original plan for the morning was to cut up some more scraps with the GO.  I laid out all the dies and sorted everything out into stacks.  Instead of actually cutting anything though, I shot off on my first tangent of the day. 
Part of the ironing last night was four quadrants of a spinning star quilt that I was making for our bed.  Kurt requested something warmer for our harsh Florida winters, so I've been looking into ordering some wool batting (it's not something they sell here).  I pulled the sections out and was auditioning sashing colors when I stumbled across the fabric that I bought for a raw edge applique quilt I wanted to try out. 

I had already cut out circles from scraps, they just needed to be placed randomly onto the background fabric.  Sounds like a perfect job for a 7 year old.  Sydney was happy to be my quilt designer and helper for the morning.  She arranged the circles to her liking and then went back with a glue stick to make sure they would stay in place until they could get sewn down. Then she chose fabric for the back and binding, all while singing Lollipop
She is a pro on the handiquilter and was anxious to get to the quilting part.  It's the first time I've used it since the new carpet though, so it still needed a little set up and adjustment.  By the time the quilt was loaded and ready to go, her 7 year old attention span had been spent and I had to go find her to help with the sewing.  I've never done raw edge applique before, so I'm a little anxious about how it will turn out after the wash, but time will tell.  I did a little spiral in the circles, staying about a quarter inch from the edge and then filled in the background with swirlies.  It's not quite done yet, because the afternoon was booked solid.  I'm debating now whether to go finish it or just call it a night.  First though, I'll go take a peek at what other people got done over the weekend. 

Friday, November 5, 2010


Last week a couple of the neighbors were getting new trees put in.  Last winter was unusually cold and there were lots of dead palm trees around the block.  What started as a couple of trees to replace the dead ones, ended up as a whole landscaping package with rocks and edging and shrubs.  It is done now just in time for it to get cold again.
The air has taken on a definite flavor of fall, motivating us all to pull out our jackets and long sleeved shirts.  There was not a single child at the bus stop this morning in pants that fit.  Everyone was wearing last years clothes, leaving lots of sock and ankle showing. I guess we'll do some wardrobe organization this weekend. 
Last night I used a couple of hours of evening time after the kids were in bed to continue sorting through my scraps. I still have a stack of shirts from the Goodwill clearance center that I was using to cut tumbler blocks with my GO cutter. I'm not ready to start sewing them together yet, but they will be ready next time I want to start a new scrap project. The basket is getting emptier, little bit by little bit.

Amy's Quilt Festival

 This quilt arose out of nothing more meaningful than an urge to use up some of the 1.5 inch strips I had collected while trimming down scraps. I keep all my scraps in plastic drawer organizers, and that particular drawer didn't want to close anymore.  I was going to just throw some of them together to make quick donation quilt and move on with things.  As I started randomly sewing strips together, I had fun remembering where all the fabrics had been used before and watching them come together in unlikely combinations.  The more I sewed, the more I enjoyed the results until I was out of strips and still wanting to make more blocks.  I even put together a tutorial so other people could follow along. 
If you have a few minutes to spare, head over to Amy's Quilt Festival and check out some of the other entries. Be careful though, you might get lost.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Postage Stamp Tutorial

I was inspired to make a postage stamp quilt by a tutorial I saw on Seems to be you and me's blog.  I lost it again for the longest time and then made it from my own remembered version which ended up a bit different.  Don't you hate it when that happens?  Anyway, I made some changes to the original tutorial, some because that's how I remembered it, and some because I wanted to do it my way.  Several people have kindly commented that they are now starting postage stamp quilts of their own (isn't that fun?)  So I thought I'd elaborate on the process so that other people can read my tutorial, forget where they read it, and make an entirely different quilt of their own. 
Step 1 
Go to your tub/drawer/box/bag of 1.5 inch strips.  I'm a huge fan of the Bonnie Hunter scrap users system and routinely trim down my extras into usable sizes which I store in nifty plastic drawers.  When a drawer won't close anymore, I come up with a way to use that size.  I guess you could also get some fabric and cut lots and lots of 1.5 inch strips (or even squares!), but boy does that seem like a lot of work. 
Step 2
Start pulling out strips and matching them up by size.  Don't think about color or style.  Just pair long strips with long and short with short until you get bored or tired.
Now go to the machine and sew them together.  Don't bother to get up and iron anything at this point.  Just take the paired strips and match them up again into groups of 4.  The original tutorial I read had you sewing sets of 4 together to get an 8 strip set.  This seemed too big to me, so instead I decided to go with sets of 6.  When the sets of 4 come out of the machine, just find another pair and add it onto one side or the other.  When I get to 6 strips sewn together, I toss it on the floor so I know it's ready for the ironing board.  I don't look at the fabrics or colors except to make sure that the same fabric doesn't end up in a set twice. 
Step 3
Now you are ready to iron for the first time. Gather all the little sets of 6 strips up and go to the ironing board. Press all the seams in the same direction.  Try, if at all possible, to keep the seams straight. Then, just to keep it all nice and neat, I like to turn it over and press it from the front as well.
Step 4
When you have a set of strips ironed, take them over to your cutting mat. You can stack them if you are feeling confident, though I tend to cut them one at a time. I match the lines on the ruler with the seam lines to try to keep it all square.  Go ahead and cut the strip sets into 1.5 inch sub cuts. As you cut them, stack each set of strips separately because it will make the pairing up easier in the next step.
Step 5
Start pairing up the sub cut strips, making sure that the same fabrics don't end up near each other.  The easiest way to do this is to make a little assembly line. I number them in my mind and then start matching set 1 with 2 then 3, then 4.  When 1 has been matched with all the others, I move it to the end of the line and start working on 2.  My goal is to get as many different combination going as possible so that it isn't excessively obvious that the blocks are sewn in strips instead of individually.  This is great TV work, mindless and repetitive.  When you match them up, alternate the seam allowances so that one points up and one points down.  These nestled seams are so much easier to match up as you feed the pairs through the machine, giving you nice neat corners. I am not a pin lover, so I just stack them neatly and match the seams manually as I feed them through the machine. 
Step 6
As the pairs get sewn together, match up pairs to make sets of 4 and then add another pair to make a set of 6.  It's the same process you followed with the strips, but now you are working with squares.  Again, I don't iron the pairs.  The rule is that you can't sew over an unpressed seam, but all of these seams run parallel.  Even the quilt police would agree that ironing isn't needed. Keep peeking as you add the pairs on, making sure that you aren't repeating the same fabric in the same block. 
Step 7
As the blocks reach 6 by 6, I toss them on the floor so I know they are done.  Whenever you get bored or tired, gather them all up and make another trip to the ironing board.  Press all the seams in the same direction and then turn them over to make sure everything is nice and flat. Now peek to see if you have duplicate fabrics.  Drats, the blue with white pineapples showed up twice in this block!  Ooops, so did the light blue with flowers.  That's the way it is though, I don't like reverse sewing unless it is REALLY necessary. 
Whenever you run out of strips or patience, you are done.  Throw your blocks up on the wall and decide how you want them put together.  The original tutorial I read had them sewn straight together to make a quilt of just 1.5 inch squares, I think this is a more authentic postage stamp.  I didn't want to mess with that many seams and so decided to add a 1.5 inch sashing strip and cornerstones.  The sashing strips were cut at 6.5 inches and the cornerstones were square. At this point it's all about design decisions.  It's your quilt, how do you want it to look?
I sewed the sashing strips and cornerstones to the right and bottom of each square and then decided to use a darker sashing strip along the outside.  The best part of all?  My 1.5 inch strip drawer closes again.