Sunday, May 20, 2018

Basting Before Applique

I'm on to Block B of Linda Brannock's "Flowers" quilt.  It took me nearly a week to play with fabric and colors before deciding which to use.  Even now, I may make changes. 


Nearly all the pieces for the block are cut and I've basted the edges of some of them.  Needle-turned applique seems beyond my abilities.  Instead, I loosely baste the edges and when stitching the piece to the background, I cut the basting threads as needed--to improve a curve or make an edge narrower or wider, etc.

If I have any time to stitch today this is what I'll be working on.  I think this is a very fanciful flower.  Linda calls it "Volunteer Bloom and Berries."

I will link this post to Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts when she posts the link-up.

I hope you have a quiet restful Sunday.  If yours are like mine, they are a time to go to church, remember the Lord, and rest in preparation for the coming week.  Happy Sunday to you!

--Nancy.
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Friday, May 18, 2018

Triangles and the Eagle

I started with the simplest blocks for Cheri Payne's Everyday Patchwork sampler.  Oh, it's easy to sew squares and rectangles together.  But some of the triangles are killing me.


I'm trying to be precise but there are corners where four seams and eight pieces of fabric meet.  I'm not yet good enough for them to meet exactly.  I'm trying to accept that I don't sew perfectly.  At some point I have to accept blocks as "good enough" and move on to the next one.


 Some blocks have fewer triangle corners to match




and others have more.




One thing I like about this sampler quilt is that I only have to make the blocks once--and I'm sure there are several that I will never make again!  I have 10 more to cut and sew but they should go faster as I get toward the end because I've saved the easiest for last.  It didn't take me long to make that decision.  (Do you also eat the food you like least first and save the best for last so that's the flavor that stays on your palette?  I do!)  If I do one a day for the next two weeks I should have them finished by the end of the month for my One Monthly Goal.

The quilt has 25 blocks in a 5 x 5 layout.  Cheri added a wider border on top and bottom to include applique.  I've decided to add another row of 5 blocks to make the quilt a little longer.

I'm looking forward to at stitching at least one block today/tonight.

If you've read my blog for the past several months you'll remember that some time in February I finally decided to join Lori's Sweet Land of Liberty sew-along at Humble Quilts.  I reasoned that I would be only a month behind.  I found an eagle pattern and stitched it.  And then it promptly disappeared.  (Please tell me I'm not the only one with that problem.)  This week it reappeared, still wanting its star (or stars), an eye, and maybe some writing.  He's not a grand eagle, but he'll do.


I'm going to join this quilt-along even though I'm way behind.  Deciding fabrics sometimes takes me as long as sewing them.  Maybe this sew-along will help me overcome my indecisiveness.  Maybe.  Or maybe not.  Still, the whole process is fun.

I'm linking this post to
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts and
> Friday Night Sew-In at Sugarlane Designs

Happy sewing, happy weekend to you!

--Nancy.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Plain and Simple: Flowers, Block A

Block A of Linda Brannock's Flowers pattern

This block went really quickly after taking too long to choose colors and fabrics.  I went back and forth about the background--light or medium, print or not.  I lightly printed background would have been fine because of the plainness of the block.  I'll be thinking about that as I choose fabrics for the next block.

I switched out the fabric for the vase from the one I originally chose.  You can see the other fabric for the vase here.  I liked it, especially the colors, but when realized it was a batik I know I couldn't like stitching through such tightly-woven fabric.

These are photos of the fabrics I used.  There's nothing like close-up photos to see what my old eyes miss.  Stray threads, not-quite-tight stitches, etc....

hand applique

The pattern called these blue tulips but I've never seen blue tulips so stitched red ones.  The leaves aren't quite tulip leaves, either, but I used them anyway.

appliqued flower

Ready for Block B.  Maybe I'll start it today.

I'm linking this post to
> BOMs Away at What a Hoot Quilts
> Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Blocks for My First Sampler Quilt

This is one of those times when I'm low on creative energy, maybe because I'm still recovering from that bug I had, or--who knows why.  When this happens I'm grateful to others who host online sew-alongs, make patterns available for free, and for quilting books and magazines.  They help me move forward when I don't have my own great ideas ready to begin.

One of the admins in Cheri Payne's Facebook group recently began a sew-along using the patterns from Everyday Patchwork on her blog.  It's a sample quilt and suggested we choose any nine and then she would give us the next step.  When I looked at the patterns I decided to make all the blocks and turn them into a quilt following her pattern for finishing the quilt. 

These are 6" blocks but Cheri adds a 1" border (cut at 1½") around each making each block 8".  It's an interesting addition, I think.  She also uses sashing between the blocks.


I started making the easiest blocks first and then realized I'd be happier to have the hard ones finished first--smooth sailing downhill, so to speak--so I cut and stitched the green, blue, and lower left block,  I don't know if those are the hardest but they are certainly not the easiest, at least for me.

The blocks that have multiple small triangles will be a challenge for me.  Somehow, the blue one, center row left, and the red and tan one, lower left, are both at least ¼" too large.  My diagonal seams are a true ¼" but the others must not be.  At least that narrow border around the edges will help compensate with these two blocks but I'll have to take more care on the others.

I like this sampler quilt because the blocks are small and I can use scraps to make them.  I can see the value in making a sampler quilt as I work on these.  It's a great way to try out blocks I might not be inclined to make otherwise.  And they push my skills a little, too, I think. 

My One Monthly Goal for May is to make the other blocks to reach a total of  25.  I may make enough to have a quilt that's 5 blocks x 6 blocks but I'm claiming only 25 blocks total as my goal this month.

Do you ever run out of creative energy?  Do you notice if it happens, such as when you're tired, have been sick, have personal or family challenges, or at other times?  What do you do when your creative energy runs low?

I'm linking this post to One Monthly Goal - May Goal Setting Link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Thank you for hosting, Patty.

I'm also linking this post to Oh Scrap! and Quilting is more fun than Housework.  Thank you, Cynthia.

--Nancy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Something New, and Something Old, too


I had several false starts on the background for this block and finally settled on the one above.  (Close-up below.) 


I still have to settle the placement of the pieces, including the leaves at the bottom, and trim the strips across the bottoms of the flowers, before I can start stitching the appliques in place.  The background for this block is 16½" x 19½", which seems huge.  I've never worked with such a large block and wasn't sure how to square it up.  I finally used the lines on my cutting mat.

This is a block of the month sew-along of Linda Brannock's "Flowers" quilt.  (I'm already behind a few months.  It feels like I'm always late these days.)  I love some of the blocks, others I could leave, but I thought there was plenty of variety to give me more applique experience without the challenge of creating the patterns myself.


I go through cycles of wanting to make my own patterns, then wanting to use ready-made patterns.  Both can be a challenge for me.  With the ready-mades, I struggle to use a pattern as is, often choosing to make changes.  And sometimes I find it hard to get beyond the colors the pattern shows.  When creating one's own pattern there is lots of trial and error to make it the way one wants or imagines, but then there's plenty of play and fun involved with that, too.


I went to a little quilt show a few weeks ago.  It was in a small town, inside a house that had become an art center.  There were perhaps two dozen quilts, most were folded over furniture.  The lighting was so poor that I didn't take photos.

The two best things about the show were quilter's yard sale (I couldn't resist) and this great old quilt which was folded over a railing at the front of the house.  The color in this first photo is most accurate.


I fell in love.  It was so scrappy and I thought the quilting was interesting, too, with its imperfect Baptist Fans.


The batting was very thick.  It was the kind of quilt I'd like to nestle under on a cold winter day.  Is super thick batting available these days?  It's interesting that the stitches were as small as they were considering having to go through so much thickness.


Also at the show they were handing out this flyer about folding quilts on the bias instead of with the grain.  I hadn't heard that suggestion before but I know that when I pull out a quilt that's been folded for a time it doesn't like flat as it did when it first came out of the dryer.  Nor do my quilt tops lie flat when I pull them out.  I'm going to try this diagonal fold and see how it works.

The next project I need to think about is which top to quilt and what backing to use.  I like to have a quilt in a hoop at home and applique to take in the car so I always have something to do.

I wish you well!

--Nancy.
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Friday, April 27, 2018

A Finish!

I am always so pleased when I put that last stitch in the binding of a quilt.  There's such a sense of satisfaction.

Scrappy quilt with Uneven Stars or Morning Stars or stars in the sashing

Next, I lay it on the floor and measure it, then toss it in the washer, then into the dryer, then measure it one last time.  Truly done then!

I started this quilt in mid-January both because I didn't have anything else in the works and because I was on color overload.  Maybe it was the brightness of Christmas, or maybe it was seeing quilts with a jumble of colors.  Whatever the reason, I wanted to make a calm, soothing quilt--and prove to myself that it could be just as beautiful, though in a different way, than quilts with lots of colors.

This has been a hard quilt to photograph.  The photo above was taken inside with a flash; the ones below outside.

Scrappy quilt with Uneven Stars or Morning Stars or stars in the sashing

I used JoAnn Soft 'n' Crafty batting, 3/8" thick, 80% cotton/20% poly.  I used thread I had on hand--it was probably rayon--then ran out and bought a spool of cotton.  I put pins in the blocks that had cotton thread but couldn't tell any difference between those and the others after the quilt came out of the dryer.  Whew!  That could have been close.  I should probably be more careful about thread from now on. 

The measurements of this quilt were crazy.  And how about square?  How is it one starts with square blocks and ends up (after quilting) with a quilt that is off by 1/4" to 5/8"?  I squared the corners as much as I dared but I suspect the quilt does not yet have precise measurements.  No matter:  it will never be in a quilt show to be evaluated.  After wash and dry it measures 60¾" x 78½".

Scrappy quilt with Uneven Stars or Morning Stars or stars in the sashing

At one point during the quilting it occurred to me that this quilt looked like it could have been mass-produced and sold in a big box store, probably because of the plain diagonal rows of stitching in the center of the blocks.  I convinced myself that no, it couldn't, because of all its imperfections. 

Scrappy quilt with Uneven Stars or Morning Stars or stars in the sashing

I love the texture these lines created and the puffiness between the stitching.  Those should create lots of air pockets to keep the warmth in on a cold night.  I used masking tape from corner to corner for the first stitching lines, then quilted the other diagonals "free-hand," so to speak.

You can't really tell it from any of the photos but the binding is about ½" wide.  I thought about an even wider binding but decided this was the best width.  You can read about my wide binding woes here.

And here it is with the early cherry blossoms.  It will have to wait for use till next fall unless it becomes a picnic blanket this summer.

Scrappy quilt with Uneven Stars or Morning Stars or stars in the sashing

Finishing this quilt was my goal for April so I'm linking to One Monthly Goal - April Finish Link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Patty.

I'm also linking this post to
> finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
> Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday (TGIFF) at Celtic Stitches
> Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

I hope you have a great weekend!

--Nancy.
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Saturday, April 21, 2018

A Day's Work & Slow Sunday Stitching

 

I spent most of today pressing fabric for binding; measuring, cutting, and stitching it into one long length; measuring the quilt and binding; then pinning the binding to the front of this quilt one side at a time and sewing to the front of the quilt.  It should have taken less time than it did but I'm still a little under the weather so I work more slowly.  (I know some quilters lay the binding along the side of the quilt at stitch it at the machine but I always end up with waffly edges when I do that, so I take the time to measure and pin each side.)

I wrote before that I was considering a wide binding, possibly 1", but I decided that a ½" binding would look better.   I calculated then cut the binding fabric at 3" -- 1½" to go around once, then double that because I double folded the fabric.  I thought about it several times -- will that be wide enough, should it be wider? -- but in my less-than-good-health state, I didn't think clearly enough.

You experienced quilters will immediately understand the problem I had.  It would seem to be wide enough but it didn't leave space for the thickness of the quilt.  Thank goodness I stopped to check it after attaching about 6" of the binding.  It was too narrow.   


I knew I could cut the edge a little narrower but instead I unstitched the 6" and began stitching a little left of the ½" line.  It worked.  The binding will be narrower than ½" but at least I'm ready to begin hand sewing it to the back of the quilt.  Hooray!  I have hand stitching again.


The binding fabric I finally found came from JoAnn.  I bought 5/8 yard of a grunge-style fabric and a yard of Kona Celestial.  I cut the grunge fabric first knowing I would have no other use for it.  When I realized I needed only about 60" more, I used a small piece of blue left over from the stars.  Together, they were just long enough.  I don't know what I'll do with the Kona but at least it's a shade of blue I like.


I'm looking forward to having this quilt finished!

If I have a chance to stitch on Sunday, this is what I will be slow stitching.  Linking up to Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Kathy.

--Nancy.

P.S.  If  you're wondering about the safety pins, they identify the sections in which I used Gutermann cotton thread after I ran out of the spool of (probably) rayon thread.
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Friday, April 20, 2018

Ken Burns's Quilt Collection

Who knew Ken Burns collected quilts?  He commented that he makes films for others, he collects quilts for himself.  He has an exhibit at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska, through May 5.

Here's a quick tour through some of his quilts.




And here's a slightly longer 5-minute video with commentary by Burns.



For more youtube videos of Ken Burns and his quilts on exhibit in Lincoln, look here.  In one of the videos (maybe one of the above) it shows that he stores many of his quilts by hanging them with several front to back in the same place.  I thought that was interesting.

I'm not an avid collector of antique quilts but when I find one I love and the price is right, it comes home with me.  I need to take some photos and share the ones I have.

Did you know Ken Burns collected quilts?

--Nancy.
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