Saturday, February 28, 2009

A good day

These pictures aren't so great because they were taken at night on the design wall that doesn't have enough light. I'll try to get a better one today. I sewed these blocks together last night and now I will play with border possibilities. This one just needs a frame or possibly no border at all. It is 36" square right now. I decided to border Cobblestones 3. It has a design flaw that only a border would fix. Here again I need better lighting to show off its beauty.
I also finished cutting the stacks of fabrics to send to Jackie to have cut with the Accuquilt cutter. It is kind of like a drunkard's path pattern and it has notches cut at the centers of the arcs. That is something I couldn't do with a rotary cutter. If you click on the link it will take you to the page where she has cut some for herself.

We're down in the deep freeze again for the weekend. Next Wednesday back in the 40's again. Every cold spell seems so much colder after a few warm days.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The "leftover" story

I showed this one a few months ago. I had taken the blocks off the design wall and put them in a stack which I was searching through yesterday. I decided to cut another 5 blocks from my crooked strip piecing. Here is what is leftover. Now life would be considerably simpler if I could just throw them away, but you know I can't do that. I will have to figure out something to do with them.
I had 2 students that I remember from my 30+ year teaching career that always got rid of all of the leftover fabrics when they finished a project. They didn't want any mess around. They sincerely enjoyed making things but had no creative ideas of what to do with scraps. They never wanted the same fabrics in the next project. I guess it takes all kinds of people, but I have more fun with the leftovers than I do with the original project. So my house isn't neat and tidy. It is full of leftovers waiting to be made into great things.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Patchwork from the 1970's-part 2

I still have a few of the quilts from the late 1970's-early 1980's when we had our first quilt shops in my little town. Many of us had never owned a hand made quilt so we didn't really have the background which included hand quilting. We came into this new, as seamstresses who made our own clothes and household items and we used a sewing machine. Most of the calico fabrics were 100% cotton but we used polyester batting on everything. The newer versions of cotton batting were not available yet. Most of the cotton battings from this time period had to be quilted as close as 1" or they would start deteriorating in the washing machine.
This quilt features the Card Trick pattern shortly after it was designed and published by the Gutcheons, husband and wife team. I made the blocks with all of the same fabrics in the red part, and 2 different fabrics for backgrounds. Then I alternated the backgrounds and also turned the blocks of the opposite background a half turn so the reds wouldn't all be in the same position so it would have a little interest. It is 47" square and would make a great floor quilt for a baby. I would only use cotton batting for a baby quilt (fire safety).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Busy work

I just wanted some no brainer busy work to do last night while I listened to the president's speech. I finished cutting all of the scraps of flannel into whatever size I could get out of them. These pencil boxes were on sale for 50 cents each so I bought a bunch to use for storage until I am ready to sew. I used a little post-it flag on top of each with the size of the squares in it.
I am going to sew the 4" squares first so I didn't bother to put them in a box.
Our temperature was all the way up to 40 yesterday. It may not sound like anything to celebrate but after our cold December and January it is a treat. We have also had a lot of sunshine in February to make the days seem warmer even if they weren't. Today is supposed to be even warmer than yesterday.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Patchwork from the 1970's

In the late 1970's we had an art league in our little town. 12 of us from the league started a little shop called the Village Gallery where we each took turns working. We were each other's best customers too. I made several of these table toppers, my version of a doily, all in the same pattern, Carpenter's Wheel. They were just the patchwork block, sewn pillowcase style with a poly/cotton solid color backing. This one, although it was my favorite, was the only one that didn't sell.I had used that "large" print in there in this time of tiny calico prints and it didn't appeal to any one. Now 30 years later I still like it.

Through many washings the 100% cotton block has shrunk a tiny bit and the backing hasn't so it doesn't lay flat any more. I think I will take the back off and put on a new one of 100% cotton.

Cathi has made a similar block and showed her progress the last few days and it reminded me how much I enjoyed working with this block. The traditional name for my block is Carpenter's Wheel which is made with diamond pieces. A similar block made with half square triangles is called Dutch Rose.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sorting and pressing

I spent the evening sorting pieces to send to Jackie for her to cut with her Accuquilt. There is no way I would rotary cut enough of those shapes for a decent size quilt. She will do it in very little time with her little cutting machine.

I am going through my pile of small pieces first but then I am going to cut 9.5" strips off some of my favorite batiks. I should be able to get them all together and pressed well to send out by the end of the week.
I'm looking forward to the 40 degree temperatures we are going to have in a few days. At least at this point in the winter, the snow doesn't keep piling up.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Laurel Burch bags

I'm sorry about the confusion yesterday about my Laurel Burch bag. I didn't make it. I was showing the picture of it packed for a class. It is an original Laurel Burch bag from the 1988-1990 time period and the reason I use it is because it is one of the biggest and sturdiest bags I own. You can see the shine on the picture because it looks almost like oil paint in person. The printing process was a thick coating where the color is. I take other totes also to class so they can see how to take measurements off the size they like when they want to make their own. Here is my other LB bag from the same time period.
Here are some of the other LB things I have. All but the salt and pepper shakers are from the 1990 time period too.
I found this tray and the salt and pepper shakers about 5 years ago.
I have all of LB's machine embroidery patterns for my embroidery machine too and have used some of them here.
We got a little more snow during the day yesterday, just enough to coat the driveway again. It is going to be cold today but the sun is shining so maybe it will melt off.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Packed and ready

I am teaching a basic "how to" on making a tote bag today with a brief color lesson at the beginning. I am packed and ready. This is my struggling Christmas cactus. I have had it for at least 10 years, a little piece started from my mother in law's plant. I set it outside all summer every year. In 2002 a cat chewed on it and almost destroyed it. In 2003 we had a hail storm that destroyed my roof and part of the plant. I have saved it from casualties since then but it really got its best growth this past summer. I don't have any blooms most years and maybe 5 blooms on a good year, in March or April.I have 6 buds on it now, 2 of them visible here and the one on the left is the largest. I moved it to full light at an east window about a month ago so maybe it likes that.
Of the 12 amaryllis bulbs from previous years, the one from last year has a bud. That isn't a very good success rate but I'll keep trying.
We had snow early this morning. I haven't shoveled yet but it looks like about 3". I hope this is all we are going to get.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cobblestone perspective

I think a lot of my readers thought these were large quilts. Here are all 3 in the series on a 7' tall x 8' wide design wall. They are art meant to viewed full on, not laying flat where all you see is pieces of fabric but not the design. I never look at the previous one when I am building the next piece so I am surprised how they all look so different and yet connected.

Unwinding time

Yesterday ended up being very busy and tiring. When I got home from computer club I watched TV and finished these 2 quilt tops for the preemies. When I am cutting all of our scraps (that are left from cutting preemie kimonos) I cut several sizes of squares, whatever I can get out of it. Then I spend one evening piecing all of the squares that I have and if it doesn't end up close to 20" square, I add borders from the long scraps left from cutting the receiving blankets. I just put a layer of flannel on the back (no batting) and stitch with a zig zag stitch on every other seam line in both directions. Then I serge around the edge. A binding is too stiff on a quilt this small. Someone suggested to me that I use satin on the edge but these little preemies aren't holding their blankets and feeling that satin edge and that is not an easy, fast edge for my stack of little quilts.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Almost done

I added the extensions on the too short rows and sewed the rows together. I will have to stare at it a few more days before I decide if it is really OK or not. I'm not sure I like the red block near the bottom and it may get picked out or resized with another new block below it. I ended up getting called in to work at the sewing machine store for a few hours yesterday so I didn't get much accomplished at home. Today I have a hair cut, grocery shopping, birthday luncheon for a sister in law, and computer club at night. Oh and go to the pharmacy to see if they gave my mother the wrong prescription or a generic of a different shape and color than she usually got at the pharmacy that closed last week. Prescriptions were "purchased" by another drugstore that I'm having a hard time liking.

We only got a dusting of snow and missed the big storm again. Yay!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vertical rows sewn

First of all I want to thank Denise for telling us how the opossums communicate with each other. I figured the little one had to be making a noise that the mom could hear once she came to the tree where he was.

Last night I sewed together the vertical rows of the Cobblestones 3 quilt. Now I have to add pieces on the ends of the short rows or trim the long ones to get them all the same length. At this time I also will make sure I don't want to change any of the blocks before I sew the rows together.
I stole a few blocks from this one for my other project which I am still making blocks for. Now I need to get one of these quilted so I know how I am going to finish them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Binding finished, label on

I propped this finished piece on my red chair in the living room. I will get its official photo later. The purples look blue in the morning light so I will try again in afternoon light. I bought these woven labels with my name printed on them in the 1960's. To get the best price you had to order 100 of each. I have 5 different styles, 3 of which I ordered the 100. For small pieces this is all I do for labels, no name for the quilt and usually no date, although I sometimes write the year with permanent pen on the label.
The sun is shining again today. It didn't get above freezing yesterday but my basement was warm with conversation and quilt making with my art quilters group. Today is supposed to be in the 40's and that precedes snow and colder weather later in the week. Winter is not over.

Last night the 2 opossums were back. The baby ran up into a tree. The mother was running frantically to the right, the left, to the back, toward the house, going in circles. Then the baby must have made some noise because then she was down below him getting up on her 2 back legs and looking up at him. Finally she went up the tree and coaxed him down. Then he sat very obediently 4 feet from her while she cleaned up under the bird feeder. I wonder what kinds of noises they made as she scolded him. I've never heard opossums language. It was fun to watch anyway.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Binding partially done

I have the quilting done and the binding done on 3 sides. Many people wondered yesterday in comments how I would quilt this. I always think I am repeating myself when I tell how I do things, but then there are always new readers, and some readers who will never go back and read any of my entries in the archives (or by clicking on a subject in the LABELS list on the right sidebar) so I will explain what I do.

Since this pieces is small, about 18" on a side, ditch quilting is all that is necessary to start out with. I have done that already and as I am sewing the binding I am deciding whether it needs a few more lines in the right side border. If any free motion is added it will be very little.
Here is the mass of flowers on the one amaryllis. Someone asked a few days ago if the flowers only last a couple days. The answer is no, it is more like a couple weeks. There will be 9 flowers on these 2 stems when they all open.
One of my friends gave us little poinsettias last November and mine is still doing well.
The art quilters will be here soon. The sun is shining even though it is only supposed to get a few degrees above freezing. It will be nice and warm inside with all of the conversation and show and tell.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Time to quilt

I have moved this little piece too many times and it is time to quilt it. It is the leftovers from a large quilt that I also have not finished. When the security lights came on at 8 p.m last night I had 2 visitors, mom and baby opossums. This is a blurry picture but the best one I got from the kitchen window. They were cleaning up under one of the bird feeders. First the mom was eating and the baby was trying to play with her. Then she came closer to the house to groom and the baby started eating. If you click on the picture you will see that her nose really is pink.
The sun is shining again today so the cold is bearable. The snow melted off the driveway yesterday but there is still a little left on the grass.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Here is another of my antique Valentine postcards. They are so different from today's cards. This is a repeat that I showed last year when I showed a series of heart quilts in February. If you are interested in its construction, click on Prismatic Garden on the Label list on the right side of the blog and it will take you to the whole series I have made as well as some in progress pictures of some.
It's just another day for me, cleaning the house for the company on Monday, continuing to make blocks for my next project. We got a coating of snow last night which should melt today. Hurray, no shoveling!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sorting system

The mess on the table eventually got to me so I went to the basement for my sorting rack. We rented for 11 years before buying a house and the rental houses had very little closet space. I bought 2 of these pants racks back in the 1960's. I gave the other one to someone years ago but kept this one, just in case I would need it.I sort the strips from dark at one end to light at the other.
I'm still making blocks in between cleaning the basement for my art quilters on Monday and cleaning off all flat surfaces in the house. If every surface had a slight tilt to it would we not be pilers? Or would we just use the floor to pile on?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Organizing my project

I am still making more cobblestone blocks. It makes such a mess on my table that I can't stop and clean it up to do anything else when it has to be spread out all over again to make more. So I will sew blocks for a few more days. These are for a large project so I need a lot but in only 4 widths. I'm bagging them by size as I go. I showed this one before one before on my design wall but haven't sewn it yet. I may just steal all of the blocks that are the right size for my other project so this one may never get sewn.
The Dr. visit for my parents went alright yesterday, but I'm not sure the Dr. diagnosed my mother's problem. Time will tell I guess. It rained for quite awhile yesterday so I left my car out of the garage and got a free car wash. Today the sun is shining, the snow pile on the driveway is much shorter and we are staying above freezing for the next few days.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pure Beauty

Look at all of those buds. 4 out of 5 on the original stem are blooming and there are 4 buds on the second stem. I'm working on more cobblestone blocks on the creative front, but I didn't get a good picture. My parents have to go to the dr. this morning so I will take along a good book for the waiting room.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Monday night mess

I took a few very neat piles and bags of strips to the machine and in less than an hour......... I have a mess to clean up again. But what a delicious mess.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Got my homework done

I brought home some homework for our church sewing circle. We had gotten behind sewing the preemie items with all of the bad weather this winter. We meet today so I finished up a little pile. I have 3 more little quilts made of scraps in the works, so maybe I'll get one more done before I leave at noon. My sister-in-law gives me an amaryllis every year. This one started blooming a couple days ago. It has 5 buds on this stem, you can see a second bud stem to the left of the open flower which will probably open in a couple days, and it has a third bud stem starting to grow. This one is called Charisma. It is a beauty!
I had some comments yesterday from people with a Blogger account but I couldn't reply to them because they don't have their email enabled. So.....If you have a Blogger account, if you go into EDIT PROFILE, there is a box to put a check mark in, in front of Show My Email. If you do that, then when you leave a comment I can answer your questions. It only shows the word Email on your profile page, not the actual address. I like to reply to the people who comment even though I know some bloggers never do. So.....if you leave a comment and want a comment back, enable your email link.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Finished last night

I know I complain a lot about the hand sewing on my bindings, but a good percentage of them are batik fabrics. If you have never hand sewn on a batik, you might not realize they are a high thread count fabric and very tough to push a needle through. The batik I used for this binding was especially tough. I use a very thin needle, a small crewel embroidery needle, that has a long tapered eye instead of a round one (which makes the top of the needle fat) so threading is a "lot of fun" too, LOL. My fingers were so sore I didn't think I could stick with it but I did. I have never learned to use a thimble but my fingernails are very tough so I push the needle through with my thumbnail.
I'm just repeating this picture from a couple days ago so I will have them both in the same post when I look back into the archives for it some day. The Kaffe Fassett fabric was perfect for the back of this one.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sunset and strata

Here is the sunset last night. Being in town with so many trees in my back yard I never have a clear shot of sky like I see on so many blogs. I thought this one was rather breathtaking with all of the branches crisscrossing in front of the beautiful colors.Yesterday in the comments Jackie mentioned that she had her strata sewn for her Strips and Curves class today with the author Louisa L. Smith. I recommended that she take a picture of the strata before she cut into it. Then I remembered that I hadn't taken a picture of the black and white one (which I have one left over) for

this quilt.
Until I read the comments when I first showed this one, I didn't realize how many people didn't even know there was pieced strata in it. I have been guilty of that too, looking at the beauty of a whole quilt and not even realizing the amount of work that went into the piecing.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Binding AGAIN

I have decided to do another binding by hand on the back. I'm not sure why because this is a twin size quilt and might get used up. I guess the Kaffe fabric on the back made me think it was important enough to take up 4 evenings of my time. You can see the whole quilt top here. I think the seaside quilt I showed yesterday would make a good baby quilt for a seaside baby. When I finish it that is the pile I will put it in, the baby quilts.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Seaside quilt

It was amazing to hear all of the references to a seaside theme yesterday. Several saw starfish, one saw fish net in the blue. All I had seen were the literal things, the fish in the multicolor fabric and the seashells in the border. I am not a water person, never learned to swim. I stay as far away from water as I can. Gayle Bong who wrote the book with this pattern in it is coming to the quilt guild in my town to do a workshop in a couple weeks. I'll have to stop by and say hi to her. It has probably been 10 years since I saw her last. I might have found the backing fabric in my stash. It is the same print as the border except that it is in multicolor.
I had three bindings waiting to be done, so I chose to do the tiny quilt first.
For play time I sorted that leaning pile of quarter yard or less into color groupings.
I will be starting on a fairly large project before the week is over. I am not going to show it until it is done because it is a design as you go and a lot of decisions have to be made along the way. I'll still be hopping from project to project though with my limited attention span, so never fear, I'll have something to show almost every day.