Sunday, March 27, 2011


...a quilter's gotta do what a quilter's got to do.

Just finished cutting a much larger version of a stencil I bought for quilting the Ohio Star, simply because it needed an extra 3.5" - all the way around!

Three-and-one-half inches!!! That's seven inches of too tiny!

Was I sleeping when I read the description? Was the description worded incorrectly? Should I not be allowed near my PC with a credit card and a wish list? I don't know!

Perhaps it's a little from column "a" and a smidge from column "c". Maybe it's all column "b".

All I do know is that I am very happy to be at the point of actually stenciling the quilt now. It's all downhill from here, baby. ;)

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Handwork can be good for the soul.

This is one of two attempts at hand quilting (for myself). From the top it looks grand, but I have to do a lot of pulling and re-stitching (a second, and sometimes third time) to make it look as good on the back as it does on the front.

My great-grandmother was a hand quilter, and I imagine she got a lot of practice to refine her handwork.

In all honesty, I do not specifically remember the hand stitching on the quilt my great-grandmom made for me, because somebody walked away with it years ago while at a volleyball tournament. But I do have childhood memories of tracing the stitching with my fingers, and I do remember they were straight and prominent on both sides of the cover.

I will finish my two little (and I mean "little") projects (this Amish-style offering and a miniature Triple Irish Chain), but then... never again. I will save my hand stitching for my crazy quilting and binding application.
Oh, and maybe a wee bit of applique'.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Good point

Jean pointed out the fact I seem to be most concerned that the navy and green Flower Baskets is in the most needful condition (that is to say, I am concerned for the raw edges unraveling any further), so then - the decision has already been made.

OK...I will piece together a backing and get busy with the navy quilt next! (Besides, there's nothing that says I can't also work on assembling more blocks for Karl's quilt on the there?

Thanks, Jean.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Re.: My quilting time

I think I've devised a plan that will let me divide my time among the things that need doing and the things I would like to do (as far as quilting goes - thbbppppt to the rest of it).

Without starting anything new, I can work on quilting the Ohio Star and get another quilt sandwiched (basted), which would require either assembling backs for one of two finished tops, or...............continue assembling the squares for Karl's quilt so that I can put that top (and backing) together while I finish quilting the P&BOS.

See, then I can just move on to quilting the next project and keep this whole process going. I do have a good selection of projects to choose from....but where to begin?

Simply put, I think this method will allow me to conquer the pile of existing projects more efficiently, whittling them down and not leaving anything in the dust. In theory I should be able to tackle the bulk of the existing projects (in their various stages) and come up empty-handed by the end of the year - free to begin new quilts (yea!) without guilt.

A new project without guilt! [squeal of joy] That sounds grand.

So, what do you think? Which of these should be next on the assembly line?

Flower Baskets: Navy and Green

Snail's Trail 1: Orange and Brown

ORDouble Nine Patch: Funky Cats

ORKarl's quilt: Jewel Bugs


Sunday, March 13, 2011


I couldn't stay up and lean over the quilt frame any longer last night, so I tidied up loose ends and went to bed somewhere around one o'clock in the morning. Falling asleep was not easy, but it did finally happen - and here we are!

This morning my fingers were sore from opening, manipulating & closing safety pins for hours, but I was eager to finish this process and move on. Perseverance paid off.

Step 1C - pinning backing sides #3 and #4 to the frame for stretching.

Brian went to work almost an hour ago and Karl (oddly enough) rose early, so I cajoled him into assisting me with the final bits of pinning (in place of his big brother).

No! Karl didn't pin anything, but he did help to un-pin and roll the frame making it easier to reach the center of the quilt and perform the last of that evil deed! A major milestone with this project, let me tell ya. Usually, I begin to pin from the center and move out to the edges, but the size of this quilt made that routine impossible to stick to.

I do have to admit I am disappointed with the way the mitered seams of the backing do not match the points of the corners of the top. Try as we might, no amount of shifting could make them match. At times, two sets of corners and seams would be spot on and two would be off. So....we'd make adjustments and then all of them would be off again, so I resignedly made the final decision to be happy with "close but not perfect." Ah well.

The distances are less than 1/2" all the way around, so it isn't too bad a mismatch. [heavy sigh]

It's just such a relief to have the grueling basting done, so now I can move on to quilting the beast. I will post photos as the quilting takes shape, 'til then I hope these inspire (or amuse) you.

For the time being, I need to move the furniture back in place; it's nice to be able to go from kitchen to front door without having to crawl under the frame (and suspended quilt) to get there! Then, I need to get busy and slipstitch the excess backing to the front (over the edges), to keep the top from fraying while it is quilted.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Other sewing projects

When I am stalled on a quilt (as I am currently with the Ohio Star), or if I am waiting in an office for Karl or for car maintenance, I take along handwork to keep busy.Quite a while ago (years and years) I began making Christmas stockings, table runners, wall hangings, ring bearer pillows, etc., using Crazy Quilting as the medium. I fell in love with the art form quite unexpectedly. <

As a younger woman I always found Crazy Quilts to be especially unattractive, and wondered "what would possess someone to create such monstrosities?" Then, one day while shopping in my first true quilt shoppe, I found a CQ sampler hanging on a wall, with a sign-up notice for a class.

There was something about this woman's work that made me really stop and look at the mixture of materials and embroidery work with curiosity and excitement instead of the typical dismay and repulsion. It was beautiful and compelling, and no longer a gruesome mash of confusion and mayhem. I wanted to learn this art form...I wanted to Crazy Quilt!

I signed up right on the spot! These are some of my Christmas stockings, with a close-up view of my needlework: Sometimes the stockings have themes; either color, or a specific idea.

This particular stocking centers around fishing. For children the themes can be based on toys or cartoon characters, or even Santa himself. Or, perhaps something reflecting what it is they would like to "be" when they grown-up.

Of course, a good theme could be sports- or hobby-related, too. Perhaps a favorite team....or all about travel.

This purple and cream colored confection was my first attempt at creating a stocking pattern of my own. I drew up a stocking shape pattern (with a shape and size I could work with) and set to work collecting remnants of many types of material other than cotton to use.

Sometimes I broused flea markets or barn sales and had great luck. Other times I had to stick with sorting through remnant bins at the local chain fabric stores.

Then I began to add beads, laces, pieces of doilies, old hankies, ribbon and the like to my stash. It's just the thrill of finding another way to use material, and combining different material textures and threads in one place, that keeps me working with it.

This piece is still in process (a lot of stockings are in process), and the yellow thread you see is my method of basting - to keep the pieces in place while I quilt them down.I was taught to use long straight pins to hold the edges over and everything in check while embroidering, but I found it painful to work around all of the straight pins, so I adopted the practice of basting the edges very loosely to accomplish the task.

I don't mind pulling the threads out as I work, and I certainly don't mind not being gored every time I handle the work! As you can see, it doesn't compromise the final results in any way, either.This last little sample is simply to show that I also use traditional blocks in creating stockings. Although, I do allow myself the fun/luxury of adding beads and gold thread to the quilting process. The fun is in the selection of materials for the blocks, and then embellishing like mad on the top (in this case, the front of the stocking). If you look closely you'll see I stitched a holly leaf and berry design at the intersection of the half squares, then echo-quilted the holly leaves with a matching cream thread before adding the gold beads as specular highlights.

Anyhow, besides making clothes every once in a while, I do have other sewing projects besides the quilts. And, as my sons have pointed out, if I would finish them I could sell them (which I have done a time or two in the past). So here goes nothing!

Monday, March 7, 2011


Strange as it may seem, I cannot stretch this quilt successfully here at home. I need more room than I have available to build the frame to the necessary 8'x8' measurements - even with moving furniture and putting things away here and there.

So tomorrow I am going to call the local senior community center and inquire as to whether I may use their roomy facility for a few hours one day this week (and, I am going to have to enlist the boys' help that day, too, because it takes more than one set of hands to stretch the bars and clamp them together, at near perfect right angles, to get the work done right and expeditiously).

I am very anxious to get going on the quilting, but with this delay it isn't going to happen as quickly as I had wanted. Rats!

While I sat spinning my wheels on this project, I decided to use the extra time wisely and return the pile of materials culled for the quilt to my stash wall. After sorting and folding I reclaimed a lot of 'real estate' on the table, and a dining room chair, and....

For such a small task, it felt great to get just that little bit of cleaning done, even if it is only a temporary thing. It left me feeling so energized, I attacked a stack of papers and a storage box and purged the living daylights out of them! Aahhhhhh.

What did you accomplish today? I hope it left you feeling pleased with yourself.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A quick "thank you"

Hey, Maria!

Thank you!!!

I had fun last night, and enjoyed your great company. Thanks for allowing me to barge in and stay for so long, and for the lovely - and fun - material! I am looking forward to being able to return the favor some time in the near future. I know you want to check out that restaurant here in town, too, so let's plan on a warmer day in the month (at least drier), we can walk there (it's not far) and 'kill a few birds' all at once. Good exercise, good food, good company....whadaya say?

- - - - - - - - - - - -

On my quest to finishing abandoned projects I am doing well. Quite well, in fact. The pink and brown Ohio Star is moving along - I am at the point where I can now baste it and begin quilting in very short order.

Then, I have the backing and top completed for an orange and brown Snail's Trail which needs to be 'next up' just because it is the next closest thing to completeness (those pieces have been done and laying around for the better part of a year now, so it's about time).

After that will be (or, should be) either an old navy blue Flower Baskets or Funky Cats Double Nine Patch. Those last two are completed tops, but have no backs, yet.

The navy quilt top is one of those projects begun in haste during the demise of my marriage, packed away and not thought of until discovered last fall while cleaning out the garage (it was hanging out in a box with the Ohio Star, which at that time was just a pile of assembled blocks and good intentions). None the worse for wear, the navy top just needs ironing and attention. It's been in its present state of 'undone-ness' for at least the last ten years, and should be turned into a quilt before time and handling see it continue to ravel away at the edges.

So, if you're keeping track, that's three full-sized quilts (or very large lap quilts) that require attention before I cut out another thing.


Oh, and I nearly forgot! I already have a pinned Log Cabin, a queen-sized cover which I use as an extra blanket all the time, even though I have never quilted or bound it. So there's a fourth quilt in the queue.

Of course, I also began a quilt for Karl last fall - brilliant jewel tones based on an imaginative chameleon printed on a gorgeous, rich brown background. I assembled many of the necessary color blocks last year, pulled together the corresponding whites, creams and off-whites to build the additional blocks needed for the layout, then piled them together (in the way, of course) so as to pick up and finish something else. What?? Who knows....I can't remember.

It's about at that time I lost track of what I was doing and which direction I was marching in project-wise.

Oh, yeah, and I had several jobs that kept me away from the table and machine, we are!

So, as you can see, there are numerous things to do before beginning anything new, which only makes me itchy to really start something else. Oh, it's all so psychological, ain't it?

Sheesh, and I still have that other new thing I began just a few short months ago (um...4 or 5 months ago), when I had hopes of entering a contest to win some money. Yup, those haunting little one inch squares are nagging at me, too. So between Karl's quilt and the little project already living in the living room, I guess I am booked solid at the old sewing machine for a while.

What's on your plate?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Soon, my pretty. Soon.

Soon enough, these two corners (and all of their sibling corners) will be basted together, then quilted!

Front (or top)