Monday, June 29, 2009

What's On My Design Wall and a Handy Spoon

Yesterday I worked on getting caught up on the nine patches for the One a Day Quiltalong at crazy mom quilts. The goal I think is ninety blocks and I'm almost there. I put all the finished blocks on the wall to take stock of what I've done and I'm pretty pleased with it. Just a few more will get me to ninety. I've used a lot of bright, mostly kid prints.

If you want to see what lots of other bloggers are working on, check out Judy at Patchwork Times. Each Monday she hosts a "What's on Your Design Wall" post.

The nine patches won't be up there for long because this morning I started sewing together the blocks for my blooming nine patch. It's going together really fast, but I need to use the wall to keep track of all the blocks as I go.

This afternoon I worked on getting the Mexican Star quilt sandwiched and basted. I really dislike this part of quilt making, which is the reason why I have a box full of quilt tops waiting to be basted. Today I tried something different. It didn't make it any easier, but at least it went a lot quicker.

My usual method is to tape the backing down on the floor, layer the batting and flimsy on top, then use a needle and thread to baste the whole thing together. The problem is that it's really, really hard to push the needle down through the layers and then get it turned around so it will come back up.

This time, I tried a spoon. I think I must have read about it somewhere. You push the needle through the sandwich as if you are taking a big fat quilting stitch, then push the bowl of the spoon down and into the fabric just ahead of where the needle should come back up. The point of the needle magically reappears over the top of the spoon and it's easy to grab the tip and pull it through. Once I got into the rhythm of the motion, I was able to zip along pretty quickly.

Now, once my back recovers from crawling around on the living room floor all afternoon, I can start hand quilting!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Flimsy Done!

At long last, this top is done!

I found the block pattern in a book titled A Quilter's Companion, by Dolores A. Hinson years and years ago. Let's just say pre-rotary cutter days. Ms. Hinson said she was never able to find out if the block had a name. Some years later, after I had made most of the blocks, I found this pattern on the cover of The Quiltmaker's Gift, by Jeff Brumbeau, and Gail de Marcken (it forms the green and white band across the bottom of the cover). In Quiltmaker's Gift it is called Peace and Plenty.

The blocks are hand sewn, but I machine pieced the setting blocks and the borders. The eight triangles that hang over into the border are appliqued on because, as I mentioned in a previous post, I couldn't figure out the math to set them into the borders. The setting is my own design, done in desperation because I was worried that I would never piece enough blocks to make a bed sized quilt. Somehow it's grown large enough to fit a full-sized bed.

It's going to my longarmer Kim next week.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What I'm Working on Wednesday

A little bit of this, a little bit of that...I've got so many projects going that I'm starting to feel a little overwhelmed.

I worked on the Blooming Ninepatch this afternoon and got the last set of strata put together. I set up my Featherweight in the dining room (pleasantly cool with the air conditioner going practically non-stop while my upstairs sewing room is roasting) and sewed while I washed and dried a few more fat quarters for the Quiltalong ninepatch. I put off doing the subcuts until tomorrow when, I hope, it will be a little cooler. This is for the LAST round, so once I get these cut, I can begin sewing the top together.

I found a few more fat quarters for the ninepatch and I guess I'll get these cut tomorrow, too. Today is day 59, and I'm just a little bit behind. As I think I've mentioned, these colors are not my usual choice, but I'm beginning to love them. This is going to be a really bright, cheery, scrappy quilt.

Tonight I am determined to finish appliqueing the last triangle on the blue and white pinwheel quilt so I can call it finished. I need to move something from the WIP column to the finished column.

Monday, June 22, 2009


My husband and I drove up to visit our daughter Sunday afternoon. We also went to take care of some business that, as it turned out, had been postponed for a couple of weeks. Rather than just turning around and driving back--after all, a visit with our daughter is a treat under any circumstances--we decided to stay over and come back today.

Just as we were leaving this morning the clouds thinned out and patches of blue started to show in the sky, so we decided to take the scenic route back. With an eye toward visiting a quilt shop that is off the main route we usually take, we headed in a generally southeastly direction and meandered our way home.

The southern quarter of Indiana is filled with rugged hills which make driving the back roads an adventure. But, oh, the things you can see. With all our recent rains the countryside is lush and green, the wild flowers are in bloom, and the rivers and creeks are running high and fast.

We stopped at a convenience store in a little town to get directions to a covered bridge that was mentioned on the map we had. The girl in the store told us where it was and then stopped and asked someone if the river had flooded. Someone answered, "No, they haven't put the flags out." It was close, though. The river was almost up to the level of the road.

This covered bridge hasn't been in use since 1972; the new bridge is right next to it in the picture.

My husband climbed down the hill to get a look at the inside.

Then, we drove around to the other side. By this time the clouds were becoming ominous and we could hear thunder in the distance.

Somehow we managed to miss the worst of the rain and wound around through the hills to Salem where we stopped for lunch. I even managed to find a little deli called the Cheddar Depot (no website) that a friend has mentioned and we had a sandwich and coffee sitting on the front porch.

They had a beautiful display of Amish baskets and I couldn't resist this Lazy Susan which is now on my kitchen table.

After that, we drove over to the quilt shop and I spent a good amount of time checking out what they had (the only boring part of the trip, according to husband). Of course, just a little of what they had needed to come home with me.

After that it was supposed to be a straight shot home. We were on a state road that practically leads to our front door. Ha! Just a few miles down the road we came upon a line of traffic that had completely stopped and seemed to go on for a long way. We ended up turning around and backtracking a few miles while my husband checked the map for alternate routes. Our "alternate" route took up high up in the hills again along a road that turned either 90 degrees to the right or the left every half mile or so as it sketched the borders of farmers' fields.

We arrived safely--our scenic route took more than twice the amount of time than our usual direct way, but it was a wonderful way to spend the day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thundery Thursday

We had a terrific thunderstorm blow through here this morning. High winds, hail, lots of lightning. There are many trees and limbs are down (though not in my yard) and many people are without power. They are predicting another bad one this afternoon, so today seemed like a good day to stay close to home and get some sewing done.

Earlier in the week I got two borders attached to the blue pinwheel quilt--a navy blue inner and a Kona snow outer. That's what I intended to do many years ago when I started this quilt, so I'm sticking with the original plan. That plan called for some triangle points to extend out into the border as you can see below.

I couldn't wrap my mind around the math that was necessary for me to cut and sew these into the border, so I decided to applique the outer triangles on. It actually seems to be working out okay.

The method I'm using is from an older post by Judy at Quilting with Ragdolls. I wish I could link to it, but the original post seems to have disappeared. What you do is make a paper template the size you want your applique piece to be. Take your fabric and turn the seam allowance over the paper and sew the piece right onto the paper (I'm using freezer paper so it won't slide around). You sew through the paper up until you get to the corner. Fold the fabric over at the corner, and make a couple of slip knots to hold it there, but DON'T sew through the paper at that point. When you finish, press it well, clip the basting threads, and slide out the paper. Since the corners are not attached to the paper and will still have the slip knots in them, they will stay in place and the rest of the piece will be nicely pressed with the seam allowances folded over where you want them.

I have five more triangles to sew. I'm pretty pleased with the way this is turning out and hope to get it finished today.

By the way, if you use Bloglines, you can "clip" blog posts that have good instructions like Judy's and save them. At the bottom of each post that shows up on Bloglines, there is a "clip/blog this" button. If you click on it, you can save it to a clip file which is accessible from the menu on the top of the feed list. I use my clip file as a source for inspiration and for techniques I want to try, like Judy's excellent applique basting technique. Thanks, Judy!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Quilt Show, Part 4

I saved the best one for last. This is hand pieced and hand quilted. Again, we're not sure who made it, but we are assuming it was my husband's grandmother, maybe in the twenties or the thirties.

If you click on the picture, up near the top to the left you can see a blue embroidered star. If you look closely at that part of the quilt, you can see the name Julia embroidered with quilting stitches. That was the name of my husband's great grandmother. After we saw that, we took a closer look at the other parts of the quilt.

It's hard to see in the picture below, but there are blue French knots going across the red hexes. Embroidered in these hexes, again with simple quilting stitches is my husband's great grandfather's name, Peter.

We kept looking and found their family name and 1879, the year they were married, embroidered into the top. Did she intend to add other family members? I guess we'll never know.

There were a few repairs made to the top. The one below is pretty unusual. Someone made a petal with the red and white material, then appliqued right onto the top.

There is another repair on one of the sides, but not so ingeniously done. Other than that, the quilt is in very good condition. No stains, no places showing wear. The red is very bright, so I am assume it wasn't washed very often.

I was out of town for most of last week, so I haven't done much sewing. I'm hoping to get back into the sewing room tomorrow and get started on the borders for the blue and white pinwheel quilt I "found" last week. I appreciate all the kind comments on that post. At the time it felt like a disaster, but now, looking at it, it doesn't seem quite as bad as I thought it was.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What's On My Design Wall? A Wonderful Surpise

This morning the mess in my sewing room was getting to me. I can stand some messiness, well, a lot of messiness, actually, but it had gotten to the point where I couldn't find things I knew I had.

A bit of straightening up seemed in order.

Now, years ago my sewing area was a corner of the kitchen table and I kept my all my fabric in a big plastic container, the kind that most people use to store clothes. Over the years, I have appropriated a bedroom for my sewing, and my stash has migrated (exploded!) onto the shelves. But I have kept the big container to hold large pieces of fabric.

This morning I began going through all that mess. It's kind of like an archaeological dig in there, layer after layer of fabric, going back years. At the very bottom I found an old project--at least ten years old. It's a quilt I began when my daughter was in high school. I hand sewed the pieced blocks here and there in spare minutes when I had a chance. When I finally got tired of sewing blocks, I came up with a method of setting them together, began sewing, and then? I just stopped.

There are seven long rows--if you look to the left in the picture, you can see where I helpfully pinned a row number to each one. This morning, when I pulled this out, rows 4 through 7 were sewn together. The first three rows were still in strips.

In 30 minutes while I was waiting for a load of clothes to finish in the washer, I sewed those three rows on to the top. 30 minutes!

It's too big to fit on my design wall!

To be honest, as I sewed I began to remember why I put this thing away. First, I didn't like the fabric I had chosen for the setting squares. Still don't, as a matter of fact. Second, I got really frustrated trying to get all those points to match at the intersections. Guess what? They still don't match, but I DON'T CARE! I'm taking the galloping horse on this one.

There is enough fabric to finish those triangle points around the outside. There is more than enough fabric to put a border beyond that. And taken as a whole I think it looks pretty good, even with that swirly blue/gray fabric I chose for the setting squares. (What was I thinking?)

I am going to get this one finished...

Edited to add: I almost forgot to mention that I'm participating in Judy Laquidara's "What's On Your Design Wall" Monday. Check out what everyone is working on by clicking on the link.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Quilt Show, Part 3

Today there is some actual quilt content on this quilting blog.

Here are a couple more of the quilts that belong to my mother-in-law. As I said before, we're not sure who made these. Some of them were made by her mother, but at least two of her sisters quilted, so they could have made some of them. I think most of them were probably made in the thirties or forties.

This nine-patch is probably hand pieced and is hand quilted. If you click on the photo you can see that it is pretty scrappy; some of the nine patches are made with several different fabrics.

Here is a detail of the quilting. Each of the pink setting squares has this four-pointed flower quilted into it. The nine patches were quilted 1/4 inch inside each square.

This pattern is usually called Drunkard's Path, but I'm sure they must have called it something else, since my husband's grandmother didn't hold with drinking. Again, hand sewn (probably) and hand quilted. What I find interesting is the beautiful quilting on all of these quilts. She took so much time and put so much into the quilting.

And there's more. I'll post about it soon.

We've spent a lazy weekend here at home. This morning I cut out all the remaining pieces for my Blooming Ninepatch quilt. I have everything except the last round done. All that remains is to sew the last round of nine patches and then start putting it together. I really like it so far, and it's been fun to get all the nine patches sewn. I think, though, that I've spent more time cutting fabric than I have actually sewing it. I've tried several times to get pictures of it, but for some reason, the camera just washes out all the colors. When I do get it all together I'll take a picture of the whole thing to show.

Next week I'll be out of town for a couple of days, so I'll probably just be working on some hand sewing, or maybe start a new sock.

Friday, June 5, 2009

15 Books

Nicole at Sisters Choice Quilts posted a day or so ago about listing 15 favorite books in just 15 minutes. I have a lot of favorites, so I'm listing 15 that I like so much that I've gone back to reread again and again.

Here goes:

1. All the Kings's Men, Robert Penn Warren

2. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

3. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen

4. Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie

5. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry

6. The Accidental Tourist, Anne Tyler,

7. Murder Must Advertise, Dorothy L. Sayers

8. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner

9. The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett

10. The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein

11. The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

12. And Ladies of the Club, Helen Hooven Santmyer

13. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle

14. Rebecca, Daphne DuMaurier

15. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Our book club chose The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett, to read this summer. It seems to be on a lot of people's lists as a favorite. I am also planning to read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, one of our book club picks which I didn't get to this past year.

So, what books are on your bedside table?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Six Unimportant Things

Meggie at life's free treats asked what six or seven unimportant things make your world happy.

Some days, it is important to think about things like that. So, in no particular order:

small containers filled with tiny things I like small tin and wooden boxes to put pins and buttons and clips and other things in. I have a wine glass filled with little shells I found on the beach on Sanibel Island. Baskets are good, if they have a lid. Boxes with little drawers are excellent.

a new notebook Spiral bound, sewn in binding, lined, unlined. All good.

ginger ale I like the bubbles.

sleeping with the windows open
The leaves rustling, the occasional car driving by, a (hopefully) distant dog, the breeze lifting the curtains: peace and serenity.

the tick of a clock I don't know why.

when my husband says the EXACT thing I was just thinking Spooky.

Try it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

What's Up On My Design Wall

Design wall seems a little grand for a $3 flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth from Meijers tacked up on the wall of my sewing room. But, oh well. I'm playing along with Judy at Patchwork Times, posting a photo of what I've been working on.

I'm auditioning the background fabric I chose for the 8 pointed stars. Two are completed so far, and I have pieces for about 3 more cut out. I don't use a lot of green, but I like the green background with these stars. Since I only have a two fat quarters of each of the fabrics, this is going to be a small quilt, but a little fabric goes a long way with this block.

The nine-patches on the right are the latest ones I've made for the quiltalong at crazy mom quilts. I am surprising myself by keeping up. Actually, I think I may be a little ahead. These are bright, bright, bright...totally out of my regular color range. But, I like it so far.

Today was the last day of school for students. Yay! I have to go in tomorrow and pack away everything for the summer, and then I'm officially on vacation for the summer.