Friday, January 31, 2014

A beautiful sunrise.............

This was the sunrise yesterday morning.  I rarely ever see one this pretty.  Maybe that is because I'm not usually up at the right time, but in reality I think it is a rare thing.
My friend Mary asked yesterday what would happen if I turned the blocks in the second row a quarter turn.  I tried it and I'm not sure if this is what she meant but I like it.  It is a zig zag superimposed over a stripe background.  Now I have 3 layouts to choose from: twisted rail, stacked spools and this one.  I will be making 16 more blocks.
I had to get a better shot of the pale pink cactus bloom.  There are 20 buds on this plant this time.  I read that they like to be pot bound and this is one of the smaller pots.  It bloomed the first time in Sept., again in late Oct, and now in Jan.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Last 2 days of the month.......

I made another 6 blocks and started the layout on the design wall.  I have all of the strip sets sewn and pressed.  I just realized this is going to look like stacked spools.  We are down to the last 2 days of the month so I have to decide if I am going to get one or two more quilts quilted or just finish making this top.
With several days and nights below zero, Jack Frost came to visit again.

The little ice paintings are 3" tall at the tallest spot.

This little group of ice trees is between 1.25" and 1.5" tall.  Jack can do pretty intricate work in miniature.  Did you notice the blue sky?  Absolutely cloudless.  Three days in a row with 100% sunshine according to the weatherman.  We had a heat wave too, 21 degrees. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

One more quilt top done, another on the way.......

I moved a few blocks to new positions and decided it was time to sew it together.  If you haven't been following along on this one, here is the link to the tutorial.

Both of these new Stack and Slash quilts are about 56" x 70".

I have 6 of the strip sets for the Twisted Rail quilt sewn now and pressed.  I took 2 of them and layered them like I show in my tutorial and cut them.  These are ready to take to the machine.

If you have your machine in a cabinet with an insert around it or have a table that fits around your machine to create a flat surface you shouldn't have any trouble with stretching on this seam.  After I sew it I take it to the ironing board and set the seam by setting the iron on top without sliding.  Then I press the seam to one side pressing with the grain of the fabric, not with the bias seam.
I had two reasons to make this pattern again.  One was because I need a few fast flannel quilts for gifts and the other was to try out another layout.  This is the original layout in the tutorial which works really well when you have an uneven number of blocks in one or both directions.

This is another layout that would work in a quilt with an even number of blocks in both directions.  I'm planning this one 6 blocks x 8 blocks so I may use this layout.

My orange cactus is still blooming and has a few more buds.

The pale pink one that has bloomed twice already has just started blooming again. Unfortunately in the photo I cut off the open flower at the bottom.  I have a 2 tone pink and white and a red one with buds, and the cutting from my mother-in-law's plant has buds.

I fought off a headache all day yesterday so I hope it doesn't hit me today.  Snow predicted tomorrow and the headaches sometimes come with moisture storms (and barometric pressure changes).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

On the design wall..........

All of the barometric weather changes in the last week have zapped my energy.  I know we are in for a few more changes this week too.  Yesterday I managed to get these blocks sewn together and up on the design wall.  I was too tired to decide if this is the final layout so I'll look at them again this morning.  There are 4 blocks of each of the fabric combinations and I have them in diagonal rows right now.  I think they might need mixing up.
While watching the 10 p.m. news I started sewing the strips for the Twisted Rail quilt.  I have 4 out of 12 sets sewn.  I'm using 3" strips for this one.

Monday, January 27, 2014

An experiment.......

I have read Rayna Gillman's blog for a long time and have admired the little free form art pieces that she makes.  She travels all over to teach her methods and shares class results on her blog.  When I saw her book I knew I had to own it.  It looks a little lumpy in this photo because I have a pile of fabric folded inside of it; it really lays flat.

One of her exercises uses a block you no longer love being sliced up and getting a new life.  I knew this block was not going to go into my Blazing Star quilt and I couldn't wait to slice it.

I pulled out a bag of leftover strips and a couple sections of strip piecing that are possibilities for altering the block.

It looks better already.....

Then I shuffled the pieces.......

I started putting inserts in between the sections.

A few more strips added and then inserts in the other direction.

Turned a quarter turn.  I'm not sure which way I like it best or whether I'll add some more pieces to it. 

In Rayna's book she talks about how to cut into your "precious" fabrics.  To quote her (with her permission):
"Cut a 6" strip from every half yard or more that you have purchased, dyed, or printed.  Put aside those strips and consider the rest fair game to be used.  That way you'll have a mini collection of your precious fabric if you ever need to fondle it or, perish the thought, use it again".  I can see that I have had it backwards, I always thought the piece I cut off was the one to use and save the rest.  I think I'll be able to use more of my precious collection now.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Quilt top one and number two progress..........

I finished the blocks for Stack and Slash 1 and got the top sewn together.  Most of the reds are more of a burgundy and only one is a true bright red.

Then I got the first step done on the blocks for quilt number two.  I always make a positive/negative combination of blocks from each two fabrics that I pair.  I cut all of the fabrics at once, then choose pairs, sew the blocks and then choose five piles of four blocks I like together for the stack and slash part.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cut, cut, sew.............

I finished the cutting for two flannel quilts yesterday.  This is the first one.

I used 5.5 yards in each quilt.  The leftover section of the 4.5" strips was cut into squares for another quilt.

Last night I watched Netflix for almost two hours and got the first part done on this Stack and Slash quilt.  Then I sorted them into groups of 4 and they are ready to stack and slash and shuffle.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Still playing with flannel.......

Yesterday I cut 10" strips off the 40 fabrics I had chosen for the two Stack and Slash quilts.  I pressed all of them and started cutting the one 7" square from each piece.  Today I will cut two 4.5" strips from the remainder and cut it into two 7" lengths and two 15" lengths.

The photo is my purple flannels.  They are Moda brushed fabrics and lots of them are the yarn dyed woven plaids.  I don't know what color I will mix them with for another quilt.  They look pretty good with beige and tan so that is a contender.

I have two tall piles of pieces of flannel that are less than 1/4 yard.  I need to press all of them and then cut pieces with my Studio die cutter.  I think I'll save that for a day when my friends come over to sew.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


What do you do on a frigid day in Illinois?  Play with flannel fabric!  I pulled out all of my bins of flannel and started sorting.  This pile is all printed flannels.  My other flannels are yarn dyed woven plaids and stripes.  I have sorted out enough to make two stack and slash quilts from this stack.  I want to make fast and easy quilts from all of the flannels.

This group will be another stack and slash.

I think I many have shown this group before, and probably about 5 years ago and I still haven't made the quilt.  This will be a Twisted Rail flannel quilt.

I got some fun mail a couple days ago.  A reader who knows I love zebras saw these at a quilt shop and bought them for me.  Aren't they cute?  Thanks friend!!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A test block.......

I made a test block yesterday to make sure all of the dies I had chosen were the right ones.  The last time I made this block I used 1980s calicoes so it has been a long time.  I have always liked this block and it would be a good one to fussy cut centers for.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Too clean...........

When I walked downstairs after the art quilters left, it was TOO clean!!  I'm going to have to mess it up, make it look like a working studio.  OK, it will be easy.....
Even though it was predicted to have a big temperature drop during the day it stayed at 33 and sunshine the whole time the group was here.  Then last night the snow started and it was down to 16 by 11 p.m.

I have finally finished the binding on this quilt started around 1998.  It is my favorite of all of the trip around the world quilts that I have ever made.  I have to say that it is one of my favorite quilt patterns to choose fabrics for.  I think I have probably made about 20 of them over the years with all of the ones I started to demonstrate the work in progress for my classes.  I made a king size in multicolor batik and sold the top in Houston when I worked at a booth in 1996.  I think I would like to do one in all batik again (but not king size!).
Last night while watching TV I finished one dishcloth and started two more.  I almost always have 2 on the needles at the same time.  If I had 3 pairs of that size needles I would probably have 3 going at the same time.  Variety is the spice of life.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sneak peek........

I really didn't work on anything yesterday except the 4th side of the binding.  I was too busy baking 2 batches of cookies and doing 2 loads of laundry.  This is one of my next projects.  The snowball GO! die came out late last year and I had $13 in points to use toward it plus new dies had free shipping.  I pulled out the box of quarter yard or less Kaffe fabrics and cut a few snowball shapes.  I'm trying to determine the corner color before I cut a lot more.  The fabric on the right was used in one in a Kaffe book.  The fabric on the left is the same print, different colorway.  Another book has assorted shot cottons for corners.  There is a lot of thinking and auditioning to do yet.  But for today I'll enjoy the art quilters visit and lots of inspiration.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Am I the only one that didn't know?...........

A lot of my friends know that I am a Charley Harper fan.  I have purchased the engagement calendar for the last 5 years, bought the postcard calendar one year with tear out postcards.

Somehow I totally missed hearing (or totally forgot) that there was a Charley Harper fabric line coming out.  I saw some of it on a blog......

and immediately did a search for it.  All of the fabric stores in the search were out of stock but 3 etsy shops had some.  I got mostly quarter yards, a couple half yards.

This one has a variety that I can cut up for small projects or centers of blocks.

I think this one was called "at the bird feeder".

I am still waiting for the package with my piece of the all over cardinals.

These 2 pieces are canvas.  It also comes in interlock knit and flannel as well as quilting weight cotton.  The drawback?  $16.50 a yard; I guess because it is organic cotton.

I can see using the selvage in a project.  If it wasn't so expensive I would have to have the all over cardinal print in flannel for the back of a quilt. 

I am doing the binding all by machine on the Trip Around the World quilt.  I got three sides done yesterday.  I also mixed up 2 batches of cookie dough which are in the refrigerator to bake today and finished cleaning the basement.  Oh, yes, and shoveled the new 3-4" of snow off the sidewalk and porch.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Cleaning off the sewing cabinet.......

I needed to clear off my sewing machine cabinet so I can sew the binding on the Trip Around the World quilt.  There were 3 mug rugs waiting for quilting and binding so I took care of that while I watched TV.  I cut the quilt binding and pieced it together and brought the quilt up from the basement.  By then it was too late to sew it on so I'll do it today.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Taking it easy.........

Thanks everyone for the good wishes yesterday.  I was exhausted (the trip to Chicago always does that to me) and didn't do much all day except finish a book, continue knitting a dishcloth and start cleaning off tables in my basement.  I also trimmed the quilt that I just quilted.
While I was cleaning up in the basement I found 2 large pieces of plaid fabric which has me second guessing whether I will piece the back out of leftover plaids.  The top one, black and white, is about the same weight as the fabrics in the quilt top.  The darker plaid on the bottom is a little heavier.  I have enough of the dark plaid for the whole back.  I have enough of the black and white plaid for one complete length and enough left over to use with some piecing for the rest of the back.  I will have some time to think about it because the art quilters are coming Monday which means I am switching over to basement cleaning and straightening up for a couple days.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Big day yesterday....

Last night I searched for fabrics for binding for the Trip Around the World that I just quilted.  I didn't have very many fabrics that go with these mid 1990s fabrics in the quilt.

Yesterday was a long day, trip into Chicago, 3 hours at the eye dr., and trip back home.  The tumor in my eye has shrunk a little more so I was happy and so was the dr.  On the way home we stopped to eat lunch (2:30 p.m.) and my son called to tell me my granddaughter was in labor with her first baby (my first great grandbaby).  Around 11 p.m. after a few complications a little boy was born.  I don't know many details yet (I type this around midnight and set it to post at 5 a.m.).