Saturday, August 23, 2014

Working in the basement...........

Work a little, play a little, or maybe this was really work and I thought it was play.  I did some cutting for kits a couple years ago and had 2 shelves of batiks not in any kind of order.  I needed them sorted by color, just for my sanity, and yesterday was the day.   Another shelf has the browns, multicolors, light, and reds.  It was fun so I'll call it play.
Also while down there I finished cutting my striped sashing pieces and chose a cornerstone color for another quilt.

This has been up on a small design wall for 4 months and it is time to actually finish designing it and sew it.  I think it will be about 54" x 69" and maybe I'll add a border instead of making more blocks.  It all depends on how much fun it is.  If it is lots of fun, I could certainly add a couple more rows of blocks in both directions.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Continuing on........

I'm still sewing cross seams on this quilt.  I get about 2 a day done and there are 12 seams.

Quilting continues on the first spin wallhanging.  I'm about a third done with it.

Meanwhile the vacuuming is done in the basement and 2 tables are cleaned off.

We got a little rain overnight into yesterday morning.  I went out to check the rain gauge, a little less than a tenth of an inch, and checked the tomatoes at the same time.  This is my second big Brandywine Pink tomato.  I gave the first one to a friend so I don't know if they taste any different than the others.  We got another shower, again a little less than a tenth of an inch.  Areas around us got 2-4".

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A couple side-tracks...........

 I got a new book, so I had to take time to glance through it.  Then it was time to go to lunch with friends and then to stop at an antique and collectibles store.
When we came back to my house we looked for more Monarch caterpillars and there weren't any but later in the evening I went out and there was a new one.  It is smaller than the ones I saw in previous days.

The stems near the top of the Swamp Milkweed were covered with little orange wiggly things.  I looked it up on the Internet and they are Aphids.  One article said they will suck the life out of the plant and that guy just hoses them off with water.  I'll take another look this morning and decide what to do about them.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Prep work...........

It is time to start cleaning the basement for the art quilters' visit next week.  While I was down there I wound the bobbins for the two spin wallhangings.  I will alternate between quilting and cleaning the next 5 days.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Petting my stash........

I designed the quilt with my night sewing blocks, took them down immediately in rows and clipped the numbers on them.  I have started sewing it together.....about a third done.

My Kaffe fabrics have been needing a good straightening.  I keep them in numerical order. This post shows 2 of the boxes.  This group is duplicate pieces so I kept them out to play with.

I also pulled out a bunch of the light fabrics as I was sorting and straightening.  I have already made 2 quilts with an assortment similar to this here and here.  I think I may need to do another one.
I needed the shelf the blue assortment has been sitting on for a few years so I either need to find another location for them or file them back in to the boxes in numerical order.  There are a few Phil Jacobs fabrics here too. 

Yesterday my daughter and her husband celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary.  My son and his wife will celebrate their 30th in October.  30 years, 5 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.  I am truly blessed.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hand basting with needle and thread............

I had been hand basting, and had taught it to hundreds of students for almost 20 years when I read in a new book about machine quilting that you must never, ever hand baste for machine quilting.  Huh!!  What is more natural than using a needle and thread.  The thought of opening and closing 500 safety pins is just not appealing.  The first thing I do is tape my backing to my banquet tables.  I am lucky to have the older, really sturdy tables that don't dip in the middle like the new white lightweight ones do.  Note: I did the basting on my hands and knees on a cement floor for many, many years before getting the tables.
Next I smooth the batting out on the backing.

Now the top is smoothed out and checked many times with rulers to be sure corners are not distorted and edges are straight.  Note that the backing and batting are always larger than the quilt top by at least 1".  That is insurance in case the top grows a little in basting or quilting.

Most people who don't like hand basting have simply used too short of a needle.  These needles are 2.25" long.  The size 7 is sturdy but not too fat.  I tried size 9 but snapped them in half all the time.  I also use a lightweight thread, 60 weight, 2 ply so it will break when pulling it out (and it won't break a quilting stitch). Your basting thread should always be weaker than your quilting thread.  Some people use a grapefruit spoon with the little teeth to slide the needle onto as it comes out of the fabric (and to raise it up).  With these long needles there is plenty of needle to get hold of to pull the stitch through the layers.
You will have to click on this photo to enlarge it see the stitching.  I use a padding stitch instead of a running stitch.  The running stitch allows the fabric to move back and forth on the stitch whereas the padding stitch holds it very securely.  Each stitch is taken parallel to the last creating a diagonal thread on the surface.  If you take your stitch diagonally the surface thread will be straight.

I have some people asking if my stitching doesn't puncture the basting thread and my answer is that I would rather stitch through a thread than a safety pin. 

I have to admit that a free motion quilting foot gets caught on the threads, but stop and take out your safety pins in the area you will free motion, so do the same thing with the thread.
You can see the basting lines better in this photo from last year.

My basting rows are approximately 6-7" apart, about the length from my thumb to little finger, so that is my measuring stick. If the pattern is 6" blocks, then it is along the edge of every block, so sometimes I am able to just use the quilt pattern to gauge the distance. I never baste over the top of a seam where 2 blocks join, always to one side of it when I do a row of basting.
You always baste from the center out so find the center of the quilt and do one row to the top, one to the bottom, and one to each side. These are your center lines which all other basting will start from. When I am finished I have rows going both directions all over the quilt, in other words it looks like squares, or a plaid. Your basting rows are your guide when quilting to see whether the top is moving. If, as you approach a basting row, the top starts humping up, you know you have to ease it in before you reach the basting row. 

This post probably didn't interest about 75% of you, those who send out all of your quilts to be quilted by others, and those who use a longarm, since you don't have to baste for that.  I do a lot of ditch quilting, which I love to do, and I do it on my regular machines.  See this post for all of my machines that I quilt with.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

30 blocks and flower pots.............

I sewed 30 blocks last night so now I have 119 done and I can start playing on the design wall later today.

I have some favorite plants in my pots this year that I want to remember for next year.  I love this spotted leaf plant and the double petunias.

Of course I'll want to repeat the lime green sweet potato plant.  I will put it in a taller planter next year though.

This is 3 small wintered over Coleus plants.  I thought maybe I wouldn't winter over so much this year, but after seeing this pot, I know I will.

I was a little disappointed that the wave petunias didn't do better in this 3 tier planter.  The plant to the lower left though is a winner.  I need to go out and read the tags and make notes of the ones I like best.

 Sharon W, if you are reading are a 'no reply'.  You can fix that by going to your profile and putting a check mark in front of "show my email address" and then scroll down and SAVE.  I took photos to show the basting set up and procedure and will post them tomorrow.  I label each post and there is a label on the Label List (right side bar) for basting.  I realize there are lots of posts tied to it and you have to scroll back many pages to see where I have shown this before.  By updating it tomorrow it will be at the top of the list and easier to find.