Saturday, December 22, 2012

The finish is in sight

LIfe keeps getting in the way of my good intentions - or is it procrastination? I've loaded my GD's quilt and looked at it for several days. Finally, last night I quilted a row across the top border. I'd been practicing with a pantograph for awhile, but this particular design had no practice because my hand/eye coordination finally started to work. I discovered that if I squeeze my body with my elbows, following the lines and getting smooth curves is much easier. So I just jumped in and did it.

This turned out much better than I expected. It is not perfect, but neither is anything else (but God) so I qm delighted. This queen-size has a long way to go, but this border took less than ten minutes, so maybe this will be finished before the end of the year?? Stay tuned... 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: Build Your Best Log Cabin by Fons & Porter

Fons and Porter are offering a free .pdf ebook of 24 pages showing three examples of log cabin quilts plus a few variations of each of the three. The ebook also includes patterns and instructions for four quilts from beginner to challenging, several charts and illustrations, as well as some tips. It begins with a well-designed cover photo that hints at the many variations that can be done with the log cabin blocks.

While not a fan of vintage quilts, I found the photos and brief history of log cabin quilts interesting and thought it was a good idea to include these examples. 

The strength of this ebook is the detailed instructions and charts for each pattern. Directions are in simple, easy to understand steps. The block diagrams are numbered and colored as are the cutting charts. I particularly appreciated this for it makes it easy to substitute my own color choices. 

Another positive feature is the sewing tips added to the patterns. Some are brief but helpful. Others are accompanied by excellent step-by-step photographs.

Two things could be added. A beginning quilter would appreciate the insertion of a labeling tip on page 11 showing 1-2 ways to label cut pieces so as to keep track of them. Also, on page 15 there is a chart for “Chimneys and Cornerstones Courthouse Steps” but no photograph of a quilt using this block. I kept looking for it.

The instructions for binding with piping and for joining ends of the quilt binding are excellent, as are the photographs for these instructions. 

I am an art quilter, but occasionally do something pieced from a pattern to give the creative side of my brain a bit of a rest. This ebook has been printed and filed to use for that very purpose! Download it here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Progress on Japanese quilt

Life keeps interrupting my other plans, but there is progress in the sewing room! This top is ready to quilt. The backing and batting are also cut to size and ready. I'm practicing a panto for the main part and have to find a border and figure out what to do in the kimono, likely follow one of the designs in the fabric. 

I've also decided to quilt the background, then sew on the crests. It seems easier that way rather than trying to stitch the design up to the circles and keep the pattern straight. The photo shows a side view where I've placed them and marked the spots with chalk. Oh, how it hurts the knees to work on the floor, now that I don't have a ping pong table that will hold it. (We sold our house and left the pool/ping pong table for the new owners.)

I procrastinated working on this project for a long time, fearful I couldn't quilt it properly and not wanting to send it out ($$$), but dear Lisa encouraged me to practice using a panto. I'm a "scribble" quilter and love to make it up as I go, but wanted this one to be more precise. Amazing how practice makes it easier, and thankful for the confidence Lisa has in me.

One of my other blogs gets a new post every day. Is that my excuse for not posting here more often? Or is it because if I have to pick quilting or blogging --- well that's an easy answer. But I am reading others...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Maybe next Christmas?

Some time ago, our local quilt shop asked me to help one of the staff with CorelDraw so she could improve their newsletters. What fun! She was an eager learner, a delight to work with. 

The shop paid me in gift certificates. I bought a new book, but then pondered what to do with the rest of it. Then, a couple weeks ago I was looking for a pattern for someone else and found one called "Splendid Stars" that I liked myself. 

The LQS had a Christmas quilt on display with a lovely wintery border by Jayson Yenter (In the Beginning, no link. I may have bought the last yards left on the planet)... so putting the two together, I have a king-size in mind... and used the remaining certificates for the fabrics below. Maybe it will be done for next year?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Progress on Kali's quilt...

The top is pieced so I'm working on the Japanese crests. There will be seven of them, one red on black and the rest are black on red. I'm using Steam a Seam II to lay down the pieces, then going around them with a tiny blacked stitch. This isn't as 'soft' as hand applique, but it will be much sturdier for this bed quilt.

The top one is finished and ready to sew on the background. The bottom one has more leaves and some cherries to stick down. Then I'll do the blanket stitch, then put a freezer paper circle on the back, trim and turn under the edges.
I still don't have a name for this quilt. One suggestion was nice, but since the cherry tree on the right side of this page is also for this dear GD, cannot call it that. Maybe the GD will have an idea.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Japanese Queen-Size

Finally, this top is nearly done. It needs two borders and some appliqued Japanese family crests, then will be ready for quilting. 

Here are a few of the crests. If you search "Japanese Family Crests" you will find hundreds of them.
It was a special order for my GD who at first wanted the cherry tree (at the right). After the tree was finished, we decided it should go on the wall and this queen-size would look great with a kimono. She has never been to Japan but has studied the language and culture.

I don't have a name for it yet. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Splash go the Flowers

This one took forever to quilt, but I'm so happy with the results. Again, it is a top that Wanda made, and now will have a place in my dining room. Every time I eat there, I will think of this lovely lady who keeps so many of us encouraged on her blog, Exuberant Color. It is about 32" square. 

Splash go the Flowers

Detail of Splash go the Flowers
 The bottom detail shows how easy it is to use up a few hundred yards of thread in even a small quilt!

Friday, October 5, 2012

So what is a sandwich?

We are still on holidays and I could not bring any sewing (didn't want to start another project in hand sewing just to have something to do), but I have been working on something. I've had several non-quilters ask me to make them a quilt. However, most of them have no idea what they want. So I've started a booklet on "Selecting Your Quilt" (or some such title) with sections about the options, such as size, use, color, fabrics, style (traditional, modern, art) and so on, with sample pictures. 

I first wanted to do it so I would remember what questions to ask these folks, but it began to grow into a pictorial options document. I can save it to .pdf or print out hard copies to help customers think about their choices. While some just want to pick one from my pile of finished quilts, others have a "quilt in their head" and I cannot see their vision without a clear explanation. Non-quilters often do not know the "lingo" to use as they try explain their ideas.

My question for anyone reading this today is: Would you even bother with a vague custom order (like a pink quilt for my daughter's twin bed, or a landscape to remind me of my dad's fishing trips)? Or would you politely decline? Of course, when they add up the price list, they might gasp and say "no thanks" anyway! LOL.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Center section is quilted

This top (from Wanda) is being quilted day-by-day using Glide thread that I purchased locally (from the Man-Quilter, Matt Sparrow). This thread is lovely to work with... no tension problems and no breakage. I've just started the corners using a different background stipple to go around the floral motifs.

If you double-click, you can see this better. The darker squares are about 5" x 5" so gives an idea of the scale. While this is taking lots of time, I like the way it looks!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Splash go the Flowers

Some time ago I purchased a quilt top from Wanda. She is such a nice lady and I just had to have something she created! 

Anyway, it became time to sandwich and quilt it. I'd taken a class from Claudia Pfeil and saw her quilts live and up close. Wow. I might never do one as large as some of hers, but micro quilting is calling, at least on a smaller scale. I decided it would be perfect for this top. 

 After selecting a design, marking it became a puzzle. Light markers show on the dark fabric and dark markers shows on the light fabric, but that made my head ache. I decided to try Press 'n Seal... again. 

When it first came out, quilters were all excited, but we discovered that the marks from whatever pen was used often transferred to the quilt top as the sewing machine needle punctured this sticky stuff. Also, it was a pain to remove and it gummed up the needle.

For me, it was not available in Canada at first, so one of my daughter's friends went to the USA and brought me about 8 rolls! I tried it as above, and then left the boxes in a cupboard. 

However, this seemed my only solution to marking an intricate pattern on a quilt with contrasting values. So out it came, and lo and behold, sitting in the cupboard for a few years lessened the glue factor so no build up on my sewing machine needle! 

Also, I'd learned before that the permanent marker will not transfer if left to dry for a few days before sewing. So I did that and am putting the main design on the top. I also found out that sitting in the cupboard made this sticky product easier to remove! 

This photo shows the product on a corner, with the stitching done. If you double-click, you might be able to see the stitching in the lighter center. Lots more to do, but the main areas are ready.

As for the name of this quilt, the floral design on those blocks reminds me of tossing a flower in the water and watching the ripples. This is already fun, and I'm not tossing out all those boxes of Press 'n Seal!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Life, rugs, and squirrels

The desire to quilt sometimes does not match life's events. Last week, Thursday, we went to the Rockies and all the lazy, nothing-pressing time there, I wished I had my sewing machine. Then when we got home and I had the machine, interruptions and unexpected events, calls and chores kept me from using it. Finally, yesterday I whipped off a finish, this Mug Rug. It was still hot off the machine when I put it in an envelope and sent to my DIL for her birthday. Since they lives on an acreage with a treed yard and a great dog who loves to chase things, I'm not sure she will appreciate the squirrel, but she can always cover it with a hot cup of java!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Easy Being Green

 This 'strips made of scraps' quilt is about 60" x 72" and will go to a wounded soldier through Quilts of Valour Canada. I still have some green fabric left but it was fun to use up the pieces that were too small for much else. I quilted it on my HQ 16 in a random leaf pattern, easy for me. 

Now that this one is finished, I'm working on another UFO, a top that I got from Wanda. I've marked a more elaborate quilting pattern and am anxious to get at it. After that, a flowery experiment is sitting in the wings, but other inspirations might take over and keep it in that unfinished pile!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Latest finish plus new studio pictures

My last post was more than a month ago, mainly because we moved to a new home. However, I did finish a quilt (photo soon) and now have a larger studio! 

Here are some pictures. The one at the left is the challenge quilt - it didn't win a prize but was so much fun to make. The theme was "garden" and the size had to be 6" x 24". I love these challenges for they give direction but few restrictions. This is raw-edge applique with a few beads.

The next six pictures are of my new studio. The floor is cork. It is a basement, but has a big window and lots of light. 

The first picture is the fabric cupboards. The rest are views around the room with my desk at the last. These were taken soon after we moved so the room is not quite what I want it to be, but such a blessing to have all this space.

The second one shows the latest finish as a top - lying on the floor. (No, that is not a rug!) It is now quilted and bound, but I haven't taken a fresh picture yet.


 Now I must get back to work, but have decided to be more faithful with this blog and post something at least once a week. I also took a couple classes from Claudia Pfeil and now know how to quilt that cherry tree hanging on my design wall!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Current Project

Besides moving, or maybe because I need a break from boxes, this is my current project. I took all my scraps of green fabric big enough to make strips of different widths and sewed them together. Some have 90 degree seems, others are 45 degrees. The strips on the floor are sewn, those on the bed are waiting for the needle! Since the moving truck is coming next Thursday, I need to mark and pin them in order and put everything in another UFO box, so it might be a long wait. Sigh. 

Also, it will be cut into three pieces and sewn together with the stripes going three directions. I'll likely call it, "It's Easy Being Green."

The photos below were taken last week after a thunderstorm/downpour. The sunset produced the rainbow. What caught me was the color, which my camera could not catch very well, and the size. It shot almost straight up and began its arch nearly overhead. Gasp, it was unreal!

 Back to my boxes...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

You must go to Charlotte this month!

Yesterday was a highlight of our trip to South Carolina. My daughter drove me a little way across the border into Charlotte, NC where we went to the Ciel Gallery and were privileged to meet Wanda, from Exuberant Color. How delightful to be able to hug this lady who gives me and other quilters so much encouragement and inspiration from her daily blog. We chatted for almost an hour, looked at her incredible quilts, and enjoyed the mosaic work in the studio. Much of it was created by her daughter, Vicki who is also an artist and part of this studio that is featuring these brilliant quilts until the end of the month. Sorry, no pictures because I left my camera at home, but pop over to Wanda's blog and you will see a little of what we enjoyed.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Oh for a long rest...

My past few months have been filled with weddings, illnesses, accidents, and a host of other "not on my agenda" events. However, I am sneaking into my studio now and then, lest I lose my sanity. 

All the green (or close to green) scraps of any size are getting cut into strips, depending on what I can get out of them. Some are 1.5" and up to 3.5" with square or 45 degree angled ends. I'm sewing them into longer strips that will go together to about 60" square... I hope. It is mindless in some ways, and suitable for my present situation. I hope to quilt it sometime soon but...

We are also downsizing to move. Notice the box of books in the bottom photo? (If you thought I was a bit daft before, now you know for sure!) The new place is only 7 minutes away but eliminates yard work and snow shoveling. Also, I will have a bigger space for my studio. Exciting, but our calendar is full (daughter married last Friday and son marries on the 23 of June). We are going for a nine-day holiday soon and I get to meet Wanda (Exuberant Color)! 

Oh, these emotional ups and downs are a real test!

Monday, May 14, 2012

An emotional weekend

This past weekend was a memory maker! We drove four hours south for my sister's 50th wedding celebration with family and friends. They had an open house at her church for a few hours in the afternoon, then family and a few close friends went to a place called the Pheasant Farm for dinner and more visiting and laughter. If you check the link, you can see that this is an incredible place out in the middle of nowhere. 

On Sunday, Mother's Day, our youngest son wanted to take me for dinner. We were still in the town where my sister lives, not too far from the farm where we grew up. My father farmed there for many years, but after the four children left home, he got tired of the dust blowing from the neighbor's fields. At the age of 50, he sold the farm and moved north, taking some "homestead" land in the trees, clearing it, and starting all over. My dad was an awesome man.

The farm where we grew up was purchased by the same sort of enterprising, hard-working person. He turned it into a camp ground, greenhouse, nursery, with a restaurant in a train car. This place has become famous, with 4 1/2 star ratings in the restaurant guides. I had not been back to that farm since my father sold it more than 50 years ago.

When I suggested we go there, our son called them. They were 100% booked for Mother's Day but have a patio that is 'first come, first served' so we set off, about a 30 minute drive, again, out in the middle of nowhere, to Aspen Crossing. (The website is currently under reconstruction, but if you search, it will pop up and show other links.)

We ate our delicious lunch with me fighting to control my emotions. As soon as the owners found out who I was, we were given freedom to explore. The memories were like a flood. The buildings my dad built are still in use. The house was remodeled but still there. The trees my dad planted also still growing. 

The best places were the pump house that is exactly as I remembered it, and my father's old shop where he taught me how to make boats and repair broken bridle reins. The smell of it was still the same, his distinctive hardware holders still on the walls. The grainery I helped shingle as a child stood nearby. Dad's barn also stands, still used. The woman who waited on us asked about a board in the barn wall with a brand on it. I said, "Is it a 'lazy H L?" She was surprised and said yes. That was my father's brand.

My mother had created a tennis court in the yard, and a bigger, more complete court had been created, almost in the same place. She would have been so delighted, as would my dad to see how his farm had become what it is today.

I am so thankful. My Mother's Day was about as perfect as a day could be.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

I've been working on a challenge quilt and finished it a couple days ago. Since it is not yet judged, I cannot post it. In the meantime, we are downsizing and preparing to move (about 10 minutes from here). It is a bungalow condo with a loft and a larger lower level. My studio loses some daylight but gains area!

Thanks to Julie for her "no pin" notice. I'm using a similar one. 

Also reading your posts, and soon hope to put something up about my projects that I can show you! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mariner's Sunset is finished

Some quilts are like a monkey on my back, keeping me from doing new projects, but also scary enough that progress is very sloooow. This one is large, finishing at 72" x 96" and putting on the facing and sleeve by hand took several sports shows and a few editions of NCIS. 

But it is up on a wall, and FOR SALE. I'm hoping for a hotel or some other business with a large space will be interested in it. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the thing, even if it overwhelmed me, particularly the colors and the waves.

And I've started another quilt... more later!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I'm hand sewing the facing to the back of Mariner's Sunset. It is about 28 feet around so will take a few days. I'll post a picture when it is finished, but I'm very happy with how it looks (as long as no one looks too closely). Getting this one finished will set me free from the nagging so I can move on...

And in that department, I have a question...

The quilt to the right, Kali's Cherry Tree, needs to be quilted. I've been procrastinating on this one too. I have decided how to mount it (it will be framed) but am not sure about the quilting. I don't want it to take over the design, but also don't want to do an all-over panto-type either. 

Any ideas? Email me, or put them in the comments for this post. All suggestions welcome!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Love Knots

This is another Celtic Table Runner that I just finished for my daughter. She saw the first one and asked for it in black and cream. I've never made the same thing twice, but for her... It is named, "Love Knots for Karen" and is about 16 x 40" with the bias strips sewn on by hand. I quilted beside them with invisible thread. Then I used twin needles and made a rectangle around the Celtic knots and finished it with a small meander on the outside edges. This gives those outside 'borders' a nice texture. Also, I put on a facing instead of a binding.

Health update: Heart clinic here says that my a-fib is  caused by an enlarged atrium which was caused by a leaking mitral valve. No fix. Valve replacement is too risky. They put me on three medications, all of which have side-effects. I have not felt well and couldn't do much, but something amazing happened last Thursday. I was praying for strength for the day and suddenly all my symptoms and side-effects left. Don't know exactly why that happened, but I've never felt so good for a long time. It could be that my body adjusted to the meds and at the same time, they really kicked in. As Charles Spurgeon once said, "God never uses miracles when He can use ordinary things!" That is fine with me — and I am very thankful.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Leader Grips

For health reasons, I'm not doing much quilting or much of anything. However, I'm feeling much better and hope to be back at it soon. In the past, one of my biggest procrastinations has been pinning a quilt to my HQ longarm. It takes forever, and I always poke myself with the pins. A few weeks ago, after a visit to Matt Sparrow's studio (aka The Man Quilter) and seeing a product called "Leader Grips" - I put them on my "must have" list. Hubby must have peeked at the list because a set of these was included in the gifts he gave me for my birthday. Check them out! If you have a longarm, you will want these! Sorry, I didn't take a photo but if you search using "images" you will find lots of them. I've set them up, but have not put a quilt on yet. Soon!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Progress Report: Mariner's Sunset

I know, it has been a while. We were on holidays the first part of January and planned to be away the whole month, but circumstances changed and we came home on the 16th. During this time, my a-fib started acting up. Instead of being predictable (caffeine/chocolate intake) it was hiccuping for no reason, and lasting for a day or two instead of a couple hours. I've been in the ER three times for cardioverting (not a lot of fun) and have an appointment with a cardiologist on the 8th. I'm on meds that slow the heart and regulate its rhythm, but make me "excessively drowsy" so moving at snail's pace. Otherwise, I feel okay and am not emotionally worked up about all this.  That wouldn't help anyway!

All that said, sewing is relaxing. I've pinned the leaves in place on Mariner's Sunset and am happy with the look of it. I will quilt them down when my ambition catches up. 

I've also finished the stitching of the bias strips on another Celtic Table Runner, so it is ready to sandwich and quilt. This one is at the request of my daughter. Picture later. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chomping at the bit...

Being away from home without my sewing machine -- what can I say? It is a patience-builder, at least. However, there are quilt shops! Yesterday we went to two, and one of them is still whispering to me, "Come back, come back..."

The shop is Sunshine Sewing Company in Margate, FL, near Fort Lauderdale. It is tucked away into a business park and almost invisible. Without a big WE ARE OPEN sign on the door, we might have missed it. However, Fay Nicoll knows her stuff. I asked for "geraniums" and she took me to five places in her humongous collection (at least 12,000 bolts) and found exactly what I wanted in the "end of the bolt" section. 

Some of this I bought in other shops, and I did buy other pieces, but love this set and am eager to get home and sew! I also bought some quilt books and another Patsy Thompson DVD.

We have to go home early (as in Monday) because one of our kids got a long-awaited call for repair surgery on a very painful shoulder. While it is 80 degrees here and below freezing there, we are okay with that.