07/4/14

New Subscribe Button

After a series of problems I am breaking up with my subscribe button. I thought he was cute. Clean-cut with a polished, simple style.  And he was easy for me to understand. But he wasn’t supported by his designer, so all his beautiful features started falling apart. Irritation set in, and we began fighting. I wanted him to do things he wouldn’t do, or couldn’t do – like send notifications of new posts to my subscribers. I gave him a second chance. He got the times wrong, he skipped subscribers – for no good reason, and he sent duplicates to others. Was he playing favorites, or was he trying to get me to break up? My frustration built to a crescendo and I finally took him down. I slid him over to the unused widgets area of my website where he stayed in timeout while I cooled off.

Today, I went looking for someone new. I am optimistic about this new relationship but wanted to warn you that the new guy looks and acts different the other. In the long run, this should be a good thing!

If you were a follower when I was with the other guy and would like to once again receive e-mail notifications, please re-enter your e-mail address and click on the subscribe box.

06/25/14

Day of Stars

Okay, so here’s the deal – on Nov 1, 2013 I began hand piecing tiny, little 3″ eight pointed star quilt blocks. The idea was to sew one block a day and at the end of the year I would have 365 blocks – enough to make a full sized quilt. Sounds great, right?

And it has been. Most days.

All winter I stayed on task, completing seven stars a week. Then spring arrived and travel started and new deadlines cropped up and before I knew it I fell into a pattern of dropping behind, and getting caught up, then falling behind again.

I missed reporting on my blog about reaching the halfway point – and the halfway point really was one of my favorites.

Halfway point May6, 2014

Past the halfway point May6, 2014

Then I missed reporting about block #200. And it was really special – 200 little star blocks all sewed together hanging on the design wall. I didn’t even get a picture!

And I missed posting a May report and a June report. If you’ve been following this project you may have thought I stopped altogether.

Nope. I have continued stitching my stars on airplanes, in the car, during meetings, and from my favorite chair at home with the evening news on TV. I make a few stars, sew a few stars together, make a row, sew the rows into a section, quilt a section, sew two sections together. Day after day, star after star – marking each one on my little pocket calendar.

In spite of myself and my schedule, the quilt is growing.

It’s just that instead of a star a day I need an occasional day of stars!

06/23/14

Color Cats

My design wall hasn’t been very busy this spring and early summer but today there’s something to talk about.

I drove to and from Denver last week and, as all quilters know, a road trip isn’t complete without a stop at a fabric store or two! At a quilt shop in Colby, KS, way out on the western edge of the state, I found a panel of happy cats. I’ve been keeping my eye out for pre-printed designs that I could use with back basting applique and thought these cats looked fun.

Printed on a cream background the lines show through on the back side which means I don’t have to draw a pattern on the wrong side for Back Basting Applique, I can just start right in with the basting step!

See how well the lines show on the reverse side?

See how well the lines show on the reverse side?

This fabric has been out there for awhile, I think it was printed in 2009, but if you want to try this you may still be able to get a panel from the shop in Colby. Click here for their Facebook page. Here’s the fabric’s identifying information.311I’m appliqueing my cats in solids and making samples for a color theory lesson at the same time. Here are my fabrics for the first cat. I use an old Grumbacher color wheel that I bought years ago in a art supply store.317And because I didn’t have to worry about enlarging a pattern or drawing it on my background fabric I started right in with the basting step and got to work which brings us to Design Wall Monday. And this is what’s on my design wall today – a partially completed color cat!327Let’s link in with Patchwork Times and see what others have on their design walls today. Click here to go to Design Wall Monday.

And check back later for a full report on the Denver trip and an update on my Star A Day project!

05/12/14
A completed block

Design Wall Monday – After the Quilt Show

Does your quilt guild hold an annual quilt show? Mine does. It was a week or so ago. So, although it’s not on my design wall today I thought I would share a quilt I put in the show.

Beyond the Cherry Trees, 96 x 96. A reproduction quilt from Sentimental Stitches

Beyond the Cherry Trees, 96 x 96. A reproduction quilt from Sentimental Stitches

It’s called, “Beyond the Cherry Trees” and it’s huge! 96″ x 96″. The quilt was hand appliqued with the  Back Basting Applique technique described in my book, Back Basting Applique Step by Step. The project was offered from Sentimental Stitches as a block of the month, I faithfully downloaded the patterns each month for over 2 years. I did a pretty decent job of staying caught up as the block of the month was in progress, that is, until I got to all those berries in the borders!

For years I have collected red and green reproduction fabrics, just waiting for the right project to use them in. I’ve seen other interpretations of this quilt done in more modern fabrics but I adore these funky blocks, especially when stitched in the reproduction fabrics. So there was no doubt in my mind that I would be keeping it traditional.

When I completed the top a year or so ago, I took it to my friend Theresa of Always Quilts. Theresa does incredible machine quilting but I wanted this quilt done a little differently. I like to think of those funky blocks as the Baltimore Album Quilt’s country cousins. Being a country girl myself, naturally, I’m attracted to them. So I didn’t want dense, perfect quilting with balanced feathers and swirls. I wanted funky. And I just wanted the background between the blocks to be quilted. That way, when it came home, I too could have some fun adding quilting to this long term project. Poor Theresa. My request was WAAAAAY outside her norm. But she did what I asked. The day she finished her part, she sent me a text saying it was ready for pick up. I replied, “Are we still friends?”

When I got the quilt back I spent hours and hours at my HQ Sweet 16 quilting in the ditch around each and every applique motif, then adding quilting on top of the appliques.

As I quilted in the ditch I added a few more swirls and tendrils and whatever else moved me to fill in the space evenly.

A completed block

A completed block

For a grand finale, I added a tiny piping of gold and a red binding. I would like you to think it was for the special finishing touch but the truth is that I was down to the deadline for getting it done in time for the quilt show. Adding the piping allowed me to stitch the binding on entirely by machine. Voila! Finished in time.

I like this quilt with it’s quirky blocks and uneven borders. And apparently visitors to our quilt show liked it too. It came home wearing a 3rd place viewers choice ribbon in it’s Bed Quilt category.

About that Bed Quilt category, I don’t expect anyone will be sleeping under this quilt – at least not in my lifetime!

Let’s link to Judy’s Patchwork Times today and see what others are working on. Click here.

04/17/14

Machine Quilting As I Go – Tiny Stars Tutorial

Awhile back I wrote that my plan was to machine quilt my Star-A-Day quilt in nine panels. Some of you have asked me how that was going so I thought it was time to post a little tutorial showing the method I’m using.

The first thing I did was read Marti Michell’s book on machine quilting in sections.

1. As I complete my stars I sew them into Nine-Patch blocks with the 3″ alternate, plain squares. When I have nine of those blocks, I connect them in three rows to create a nine block section. It will take nine of these sections to complete the quilt.

Here's an example of one completed section

Here’s an example of one completed section

2. Layer and baste the completed section with batting and backing. Leave at least 1″ of excess batting and backing on all sides. I’m using Hobbs Heirloom Cotton 80/20 because it’s my favorite batting and I have a whole bag of smallish pieces leftover from other projects. Either pin baste with 1″ safety pins or use basting spray – I really like the Sulky temporary spray adhesive.

3. Using my sit down, Handi Quilter Sweet 16 I do all of the background quilting and the in the ditch stitching.

Start out by quilting in the ditch

Start out by quilting in the ditch

4. I stitch in the ditch working across the quilt, stopping to stitch around each star as I come to it.

Continuous curves around the outside edge of the stars

Continuous curves quilted around the outside edges of the stars

5. When the stars are completed I go back and do any in the ditch stitching that I missed in the first pass.

6. I tried several different designs in the 3″ alternate squares before settling on a sort of free form flower. Using free motion stitching and not worrying about making every flower exactly the same I can manage without marking anything. Of course each flower looks a little different but I’m okay with that. Start by quilting a 1/2″ circle in the center of the background square. Then quilt a four petal flowered bringing the petal to a point at each corner of the block.

Quilt a circle in the center of the square then add four petals.

Quilt a circle in the center of the square then add four petals.

7. Add a second row of stitching around the flower echoing the shape of each petal.

Stitch a second row of quilting around the outside edge of the flower filling in the space to the edges of the block.

Stitch a second row of quilting around the outside edge of the flower filling in the space to the edges and corners of the block.

8. Stitch around the center circle again, stopping at each petal to add a line of accent stitching in each petal. Cut the threads when you get back to where you started the second lap of stitching around the circle.

Quilt texture lines inside the petals. Cut the threads after each flower.

Quilt texture lines inside the petals. Cut the threads after each flower.

9. At this point I switch machines and move my work to my Bernina where it is much faster to change the color of thread. Using thread that matches the fabric, stitch continuous curves in the star diamonds. I’m quilting inside four of the eight diamonds. I found it works best to start in the center and quilt the first diamond, then the diamond directly opposite it ending in the center. From there I can move on to stitch the other two diamonds starting and ending in the center. When I tried quilting them one at a time in a clockwise manner the centers shifted and I ended up with a bubble. By anchoring the center first, I can keep my stars flatter.

With matching thread quilt four of the diamonds with continuous curves. I am leaving the other four un-quilted.

With matching thread quilt four of the diamonds with continuous curves. I am leaving the other four diamonds un-quilted.

I quilt each section leaving the edges that will be connected later unquilted.

Which brings me to connecting the sections and here’s how I attacked that job.

1. Working on one panel at a time flip the backing of the edge you are going to connect out of the way and trim the excess batting even with the edge of the quilt top.

Fold the backing out of the way.

Fold the backing out of the way.

Trim excess batting even with the front of the quilt.

Trim excess batting even with the front of the quilt.

2. Now fold the front of the quilt out of the way and keep the backing folded out of the way. Use pins if needed.

Fold both the backing and top so the batting is a single layer.

Fold both the backing and top so the batting is a single layer.

3. Trim the exposed batting one more time, this time cutting away 1/4″. The edges of the batting will be butted later. By trimming this 1/4″ now, you won’t have the bump of overlapping batting.

With the top and the backing folded out of the way, trim another 1/4" of batting.

With the top and the backing folded out of the way, trim away another 1/4″ of batting.

4. Smooth the layers so the extra backing shows beyond the edge of the quilt top. Trim away any excess. Theoretically you should be able to trim the backing even with the quilt top but I felt more comfortable leaving a little extra.

Trim the backing. You can cut it even with the top at this point but I was nervous so left a little extra.

Trim the backing. You can cut it even with the top at this point but I was nervous so left a little extra.

5. Repeat steps 1-4 for the second panel.

6. With right sides together and the backing and batting folded and pinned out of the way, pin and stitch the two sections together.

Fold the backing and batting of each section out of the way and pin in place. Match and pin the seam that will connect the two sections.

Fold the backing and batting of each section out of the way and pin in place. Match and pin the seam that will connect the two sections.

The backing and batting of both sections is left free.

The backing and batting of both sections is left free.

7. Press the seam. I prefer to snip into the seam allowance and release the seam so I can press toward the alternate plain squares. You can see from this picture that it’s the way the seam wants to go!

Press the seam

Press the seam

8. Unfold the batting letting the two edges come together. Use batting tape to fuse the two edges in place.

Smooth the batting in place. The edges should meet without overlapping.

Smooth the batting in place. The edges should meet without overlapping.

I'm using this batting tape to connect the two layers. Fuse it in place over the batted edges that are butted up to each other.

I’m using this batting tape to connect the two layers. Fuse it in place over the batting edges that are butted up to each other.

9. Smooth the backing in place over the fused area. Because I left excess when I trimmed the backing I had too much fabric so went back and trimmed a little away. You only need enough to turn under the raw edge on one side.

If there is too much excess backing fabric, trim it now by folding the quilt top and batting out of the way.

If there is too much excess backing fabric, trim it now by folding the quilt top and batting out of the way.

10. With one side of the backing smoothed into place, turn under the raw edge of the other side and overlap the two edges of the backing. Pin in place. I gave it a quick press at this point.

Smooth the backing of one section and overlap it with the backing from the other section. Turn under the raw edge and pin in place.

Smooth the backing of one section and overlap it with the backing from the other section. Turn under the raw edge and pin in place.

Edges ready for hand stitching.

Edges ready for hand stitching.

11. Using matching thread and a blind hem stitch, stitch the edges together.

Hand stitch with a blind hem stitch using matching thread.

Hand stitch with a blind hem stitch using matching thread.

Hand stitching is completed.

Hand stitching is completed.

12. Machine quilt the section, leaving any edge that will later connect to another section unquilted.

Machine quilt the stars and alternate plain squares in the area where the two sections were connected to each other.

Machine quilt the stars and alternate plain squares in the area where the two sections were connected to each other.

13. When you turn the panels over and look at the back you will see that the machine quilting covers the area where the batting was butted and fused and the backing was hand stitched together. It helps to choose a backing fabric that will hide the stitching!

Back after quilting was completed. See the hand stitched seam?

Back after quilting was completed. See the hand stitched seam?

I am using this quilt as you go method because I didn’t want to wrestle my full sized finished quilt under either my HQ Sweet 16 or my Bernina. If you want to try this I highly recommend you get a copy of Marti Michell’s book and read it cover to cover. It is full of tips and several other ways of quilting as you go. Click here to see the book.

There. That’s three sections done, six to go!

04/15/14

Once in a Red Moon

Do you know the moon names? A blue moon is when there are two full moons in the same calendar month. The second one takes the name -  Blue Moon. But it’s just a name – the moon doesn’t actually turn blue.

The Harvest Moon is the full moon in the month of September. The closest full moon to the autumnal equinox, it is different than others because it rises the earliest in the evening, and hangs low to the horizon appearing brighter and bigger. It’s my favorite full moon of them all!

But a Blood Moon? Yesterday was the first time I’d heard the term.  A lunar eclipse was to take place in the early morning hours – it would be visible from my home in Kansas. The totally eclipsed moon would appear blood red – so they said. This I had to see! In my time zone the full lunar eclipse would begin at 12:55 am. I set my alarm. But somewhere between going to sleep and the alarm ringing I came to my senses. Really? Did I want to get out of my warm bed in the middle of the night and go outside in the frigid air just so I could say I had seen the Blood Moon? No. Resetting my alarm clock for my normal morning rising, I rolled over and went back to sleep. Until, 1:45 am, CST when I found myself awakened.

The dogs were in the yard barking. So were the neighbor’s dogs. What the heck, I was already awake and the lunar eclipse was occurring right outside my front door. The dogs apparently thought it was worth it, so I figured I might as well have a look.

I pulled on my winter coat over my nightgown and slipped my feet into snow boots that were left by the front door. The door creaked closed as I slipped out onto the porch. The air was calm and not as cold as I expected. Looking through the bare branches of the elm tree I saw it – there, in the southern sky, a full lunar eclipse was taking place right before my eyes. A sliver of golden moon shone through on the edge telling me the eclipse was not quite complete. But was the moon blood red? Not really. But it wasn’t it’s usual light yellow either. It was more of a peachy tan color. Satisfied to have seen it, I smiled up at the moon then climbed up the two steps to my porch and went into the house. Attempting to be quiet, I crept back to bed, trying not to wake Dale.

Settling on my pillow I thought about the Blood Moon and couldn’t fall asleep. The red color apparently comes from reflected sunsets around the world. I wondered who else was watching besides me and all the dogs on our street. An hour later, still awake, I couldn’t resist going back out. I wanted to see it again. Maybe the eclipse had to be complete before the moon turned red.

This time my rustling awakened Dale so I said,”I’m going back out to see the eclipse, do you want to come?”He grabbed a sweatshirt and followed.

I pointed through the trees to the place I had seen the lunar eclipse an hour before. It wasn’t there. In the dark of the night with my nightgown brushing my bare legs, I walked out to the driveway, searching for the moon. Suddenly, the clouds drifted revealing the moon in full lunar eclipse. We stood in awe and agreed that although it was not blood red, it’s peachy tan color was certainly unusual.

There will be three more lunar eclipses this year – will they pull me from my slumber too? Hmmm, Twice in a Red Moon? I could do that!

04/14/14

The Dog Ate My Homework

When I was in school I never used the “dog ate my homework” excuse. We had outdoor dogs on the farm – they didn’t even know about homework. I don’t think my kids used that excuse either, although they could have because we once had a beagle, Sydney,  who ate anything left unsupervised to include a pair of my son’s pajamas and my daughter’s jeans. And one time, another dog, Millie, a cute mixed-breed golden something or other, saw my bowling alley punch card sticking out of my wallet and pulled it out and ate it. It was brand new with only two punches on a $40 card. Grrr. But homework, no, not really. Unless you count making a star a day as homework.

I was busy on my guild challenge quilt and fell behind 4 stars but my goal is 7 per week and I thought I could still meet it last week, if I made four stars on Sat night while watching a movie with my husband. Great plan. Dale got the movie while I traced star parts.

One Star, traced ready for cutting and sewing.

One Star, traced ready for cutting and sewing.

By the time I went downstairs I had a neat pile of all four stars traced, ready for cutting out and stitching. Surely I would be caught up by the end of the movie.

But my dog, Holly, wouldn’t leave me alone. She has needed more affection than usual after 12 days at dog camp while we were in Florida. So I set my sewing aside and gave her a bit of attention. Satisfied, she went off to find dog friend, Tommy.

Finally settled in my chair I reached to the end table where I had set my basket of work. My sewing kit was there, the scissors were there, and my glasses were there. But where were those fabric pieces with the traced shapes? Did I drop them? I retraced my steps to the sewing room. Nope. They were in the basket when I brought it downstairs. Right on top. I looked at Holly with suspicion. She’s always trying to steal my sewing. I think she likes it because it smells like me. It’s one thing if she just wants to smell it but oh no, not this dog. With her mighty, ant eater like tongue she can sweep up a whole pile of cut out pieces and swallow them whole. Did she eat my homework? Or did Tommy steal them? I didn’t see either dog at the sewing basket. I must have misplaced them.

Holly, did you take them? Or was it you, Tommy?

Holly, did you take them? Or was it you, Tommy?

I looked around but couldn’t find a sign of those fabric bits. Four little stars worth. Traced and ready for cutting. Twelve different pieces of fabric. Where did they go? I looked at the dogs once more before giving up and going back to the sewing room to start over. The week ended and the delay set me behind by two stars.

The next day Dale found some of my fabric pieces in the yard. He offered them back but I politely declined.

Don't be fooled by her cute ears. She is a fabric stealin' theif!

Don’t be fooled by her cute ears. She is a star eatin, fabric stealin’ thief!

Tommy is the good dog for a change!

Tommy is the good dog – for a change!

 

 

04/14/14

4/9ths and 20/20

On this snowy Monday in April my design wall is 4/9ths full of Tiny Stars! (plus two more small projects to round out the picture) That’s right! It snowed in KS today. And that’s right, I have completed four out of nine sections – one star at a time!

4/9ths finished!

4/9ths finished!

And there’s more! Not only am I completely up to date on making a Star-a-Day, I also made twenty yellow stars for my quilt guild challenge. The Sunflower Piecemakers Quilt Guild, is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year so the challenge was to make a quilt with 20 blocks or a block with 20 pieces. I thought, why not use my Star-A-Day templates and make 20 little 3″ blocks and turn them into sunflowers? And why not use 20 different yellow fabrics? And go ahead and add at bit of wool work with 20 different brown wool centers.  20 appliqued leaves seemed sort of skimpy spread throughout four borders so I grouped them in short vines on opposite corners and used 20 different greens.

Anniversary Challenge quilt wearing a third place viewer's choice ribbon. Ribbon made by talented guild member, Joelyn.

Anniversary Challenge quilt wearing a third place viewer’s choice ribbon. Ribbon made by talented guild member, Joelyn.

Quilting like a maniac I got it done just in time – why do I do that? I had a WHOLE year! Using 20/20 vision next year I’m starting earlier! But I like the finished quilt. And apparently the guild members liked it too as I won the third place viewer’s choice award at our meeting. Look at that beautifully handcrafted ribbon made by guild member and friend Joelyn!

If you live nearby you can see this little quilt on display at our quilt show on May 3, 2014 from 9-4 at the Lansing Activity Center, Lansing, KS. The other challenge entries will also be on display. Come visit!

In the meantime, let’s hop on over to The Patchwork Times by clicking here to see what Judy and friends have on their design walls and check back later for a post about quilting those stars as I go.

 

04/11/14

A Teapot of Gratitude

There are thank you notes, there are hugs of gratitude, and there are expressions of appreciation such as “from the bottom of my heart”. Last night at my local quilt guild meeting residing President, Peggy, had thank you gifts for outgoing board members. She wanted to say thanks from the bottom of her heart in a unique way and did so with teapots. The gifts, tokens of Peggy’s appreciation for the time and talent her board members have given to our guild over the past year, were carefully selected for each person. Each teapot was different – collected at second hand stores, estate sales and yard sales over the course of the year. Each wrapped with a fat quarter of teapot printed fabric and packaged carefully with a note.

Having taken a year off from the board I was surprised when, with the last bag in hand, Peggy called my name. “But I didn’t do anything this year”, I protested. But she insisted I did and forced the bag into my hands. Apparently an encouraging e-mail or two and serving on the nominating committee was enough to earn Peggy’s gratitude.

By then several board members had opened their gifts and I could see from across the room teapots shaped like sewing machines, country cottages, there was a chicken teapot with long legs wearing an expression exactly like that the recipient displayed when she opened it, there were teapot and cup combos in bright and cheerful colors, teapots with flowers, tall teapots and short teapots. I peeled the fat quarter away and uncoiled the bubble wrap to find this

Teapot of gratitude

Teapot from Peggy

A Blueberry Pie Teapot of gratitude! How perfect is that?

Thank you Peggy, from the bottom of my teapot.

So, stop by for pie …. and tea!