Wednesday, May 29, 2013

225 square inches of gorgeous color

Oh, I am getting very fond of making these little quilts.  Nearly instant gratification!  This one isn't quite so little, 15" square, and has batting and a regular binding, unlike the ones for the teddy bears.  What you can do with some leftover charm squares and batting, and a couple of fat quarters!

I found those jewel tone charm squares and knew immediately what I wanted to do and love how it turned out.  You can't really see the machine quilting, but the wine thread follows the zigzag lines in the Courthouse Steps blocks.

Now to find an appropriate display spot for a while - until I launch into another one, of course.  

P.S. - you're going to laugh, but I made another smaller one for the bears!
Here they are on the corner of my desk.  This one's just 10 inches square.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The world of small

I'm currently infatuated with making mini quilts for small doll and teddy bear displays.  I was prompted to do this when I found a teddy bear bed made by Boyd's that is darling but TINY.  So I investigated what it would take to make a very small quilt, and now, here I am eight quilts later and planning more in my head as we speak!

Here are what I've made so far.  Three of them are in vignettes that I didn't want to disassemble so the photos are of more than the quilt, but you can see the details.  The quilts are about 10" x 12", or 10" x 10" to 11" x 11".  The piecing is difficult working that small because the seam allowances are so thick they distort the quilt somewhat.  I'm learning more as I progress.

Now, here's the show:

A log cabin with 3/8" wide strips.  This might be my favorite:
 A nine patch with 1 1/2" blocks:
 A Trip Around the World with 1" squares, the first one I made (don't you love that tiny quilt rack?):
Crosses and Losses with 2" blocks:
 More 2" blocks, this time baskets:
Hourglass variant, 2" blocks:
 Amish strip design:
 My original design, inspired by the colors of a Kim Brackett quilt in "Scrap Basket Beauties":
I have two quilts, a zigzag set Jacks on Six and a Darting Birds design, in mind next.

These quilts only consist of top and backing, no batting since it would make them too stiff to drape over a doll bed or small quilt rack.  If I wanted to display them hanging I would have used batting.  I've started eyeing those small standing display racks that hold a quilt up to 12" square.  Hmm............

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Itty bitty blocks

That is a 2" finished basket block.  No, all the points aren't perfect but I'm absolutely tickled pink it turned out as well as it did.  Eight more of them and I'll have enough for a miniature quilt like this:

These little quilts are intriguing and cute as a button but boy, are they hard.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Another bear quilt

Because you never know when someone new might need a little warmth.

I bought another bear bed on Ebay today - it looks like an old-fashioned iron bed frame.  So cute!  Now I need to make another set of sheets too.

Only the best for the bears

I have a few teddy bears around the house.  The one my brother gave me on my first Christmas, a bear dressed as an aviator that my husband gave me for my birthday after I fell in love with it, the little bean bag teddy bear that traveled with me when I went to business functions out of town, the one that rode in my car with me for 10 years (unfortunately, there's no good place for him to sit in my new car).

I'm not really a bear collector, but if I see one that tickles my fancy or a cute accessory for the vignettes I'll get it if it's cheap.

They sit around the house:

 On the hearth:
 On my filing cabinet:
 In the corner of the dining room (his chair matches the decor):
 On top of my sewing room bookcase:
 Beside the magazine stand:
 Inside the bookcase by my old textbooks:
My current project is for this guy:
 The bed came with a red checked mattress and pillow.  Well, you know he needs a quilt, and if he needs a quilt, why not sheets?
And yes, that bottom sheet is fitted.  With elastic corners.

I'm making a "Trip Around the World" quilt for him right now.  And then, he'll get a nightshirt to match.  Excess, that's my name!

And here is the bear quilt:
No batting because it's already stiff, but quilted in the ditch and lined to the edge (no binding):
Even bears need a quilt!

Friday, April 26, 2013

A sign of things to come

You see a lot of signs on telephone poles.  Lost Dog, Garage Sale, Even, nowadays, Cash for Houses.  But this one was a first:
 Can you read it:?

"Cash for Diabetic Test Strips".

Oh God.  Is that the new black market item?  Diabetes has touched my life in several ways, and this makes me a bit sick.

You can tell exactly what's going on here.  If you're on Medicare and Social Security with the Part D prescription coverage you can get test strips at a reduced rate.  If you're trying to live on Social Security any addition money is a blessing.  So you sell half your test strips for extra cash and only test your blood glucose half as much as you should, even though testing is necessary to determine if your medication is working correctly and to make sure you are not getting into trouble health-wise.  But you've got the money to buy groceries.

Or you're one of the working poor who make a little too much to get Medicaid or assistance.  Test strips are expensive, some of them around $1.00 a strip depending on the brand, and depending on your condition and your medication you may have to test your blood glucose three or four times a day. So you buy test strips more cheaply on the black market, where they may be expired or have been kept in extreme heat or cold, which affects their accuracy.  You don't know if the results from those strips are correct or not.  You may be calibrating your insulin injections using a bad number.  But you can't afford to go down to the Rite Aid and buy them for full retail.  Not and pay the light bill too.

I can't drive by this sign every day and not almost cry.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Linda Hahn mystery, Lazy Sunday mystery

These are two mysteries that I have talked about but I don't think I've posted photos yet.  So here goes:

Linda Hahn's mystery on

and Lazy Sunday from the Quiltmaker magazine mystery:

We have ventured WAY outside my comfort zone with these colors!  But I have to admit that they are lovely.

And just so you know, I have NO IDEA where either of these designs are going.  Just along for the ride, folks.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Whoops - forgot the cheddar bow ties!

In my haste during the winter to finish UFOs I forgot one:
Cheddar Bow Ties!

I didn't notice that Bonnie Hunter was doing a giveaway and link-up based on the bow tie blocks until I saw the winner of the giveaway announced in the group digest today.  And I have't thought about my lovely bow tie blocks for months and months.

Oh, man.  Now I HAVE to finish them!

Anyway, I am probably about a quarter of the way done with enough 4" bow tie blocks to make a king size quilt (why, oh why do I have to make them so LARGE!).  Unless I add a border I need 576 of them, so with 170 done there's a lot of bow-ing and tie-ing in my future.  I probably should finish the binding I have started on Easy Street and get to it!

Friday, April 5, 2013

You're not from around here, are you?

Of all the strange things to see out my front window this morning as I sat sewing, this is what I found:
Two Canadian geese wandering around in my front yard, enjoying what I am sure is a plethora of bugs in my new spring grass.  Perhaps they stopped on the flyover for a snack before continuing north.  Or perhaps they are a pair that live around here near the river.  There seems to be quite a few year round residents, especially around the power plant where I worked.  

In either case, this pair was headed toward the busy road that borders my property and I was worried about them.  I have seen geese in the streets near the greenway beside Chicamauga Creek stopping traffic and it always scares me that a driver won't see them.  So I grabbed my camera and my shoes and went out to shoo them back up the hill.

Here they are crossing my driveway and heading up the side street:
If they just keep going that direction they will be safe.
 I have to admit that while I was goose-shooing, I was keeping a safe distance.  These are pretty big and can be cranky.  They can peck and pinch!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

News flash - I'm not crazy!

See the post yesterday for details - I just got an email from the mystery designer who realized that she had written the instructions to allow for trimming and then didn't tell the user to trim to size.  That was the problem with the dimension discrepancies.

What a relief - I'm not nuts.  Things like this really test your sanity when someone verifies they are looking at the exact same inputs that you are using and then comes to completely different conclusion.

On another front - this is what I get for being smug.  I'm churning along on part two of Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville magazine mystery, thinking to myself how quickly I'm completing this step when I remember that I was planning to make 25% more of all the pieces to increase the quilt to king size instead of twin size like the instruction.  So I'm not almost finished after all.  Back to the cutting table.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Am I confused?

I just had one of those "down the rabbit hole" email exchanges that leave me doubting my sanity.  I'm working on an online mystery which shall remain nameless.  This month's block is 9 1/2" unfinished, laid out like a nine patch, with piecing in the center and edges and plain squares in the corners.  The instructions said to cut four 2 1/4" squares and sew them together in a four patch for the center of the block.  It also had you sew two 2 1/4" x 3 1/2" rectangles together to make the edge patches.

The block is supposed to look like this:

Now, the corner squares are cut out as 3 1/2" square (3" finished), so if the block is 9 1/2" unfinished, the rest of the parts of that blocks better also be 3 1/2" before joining them (3" finished) or it won't turn out the right size.  But when you sew two items together that are cut 2 1/4" the resulting piece is 4" wide, right?

Am I confused?  Am I crazy?  If you sew a four patch of 2" squares together you get a 3 1/2" unfinished patch.  If you sew a four patch of 2 1/4" squares together you get a 4" unfinished patch.  If you sew two 2 1/4" x 3 1/2" rectangles together you get a patch that's 4" x 3 1/2".   And if you use these to make that nine patch it will be 10" unfinished, NOT 9 1/2".

What am I missing?

Can't leave well enough alone

I've been monkeying around with border ideas for another Kim Brackett quilt, which is currently being completed.  Here are the EQ mock ups to illustrate;  I'll post a photo later.

This is the design:
Really nice but it needed to be MUCH bigger.  I added another vertical row and debated making it a 5 x 5 instead of a 4 x 4 design, but I was running out of the batiks I was using in the blocks.  I had plenty of the border fabric however so I brainstormed how to bring it into the quilt.  This is what I came up with:
I like how the outer points match the wide border and look like it is poking through the maroon inner border.  It also makes the quilt king size.  I love it!

Here is the quilt as it stands (before the rest of the blocks with the border fabric were made, and also before I changed my border fabric selection):

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Christmas Picnic quilt

Here it is, in all its wrinkly glory (needs a good pressing):
I like the border and the way the red stripes look like ribbons, but the border colors are reminding me of the Italian flag.  Perhaps I should call the quilt "Buon Natale"?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

It's a picnic

Kim Brackett's pattern called Picnic, that is.  Since I finished that Storm at Sea quilt top I have been wanting to try another allover design and this one appealed to me.  I also had a bunch of Christmas fabric scraps to use.  Here are the blocks so far:
This pattern is definitely well named as it applies to ease of construction because the blocks practically fell together.  Cutting out the patches was also simple.  It is so easy that I would be tempted to make another one.

The published pattern does not have a border but I am tempted to add one.  Here's my idea from EQ:
I like the way the red bands seem to cross in the corners like ribbons.

Or should I leave it borderless like the pattern?  Either way it's not very big - 60" square without a border and 72" with one.  By the time I have the rows joined I'll decide.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What to do, what to do.......

OK, I'm in a quandary again.  I'm making blocks for a Blue Ridge Beauty quilt and have two possible settings.  There's the one in Bonnie Hunter's book:
 and then there's this variation:
I was planning to make it just like the book but recently finished a quilt that has a lot in common with Bonnie's original design (this quilt, from a kit by Connecting Threads, is folded in quarters, but you get the picture;  it's symmetrical in both directions.):
The blocks in the Connecting Threads quilt make a large X instead of a big square on point, but the impact is the same - the units form one shape versus several smaller shapes across the quilt top.  I think I'm also inspired by the Storm at Sea quilt, which has a smaller allover pattern.

Has anyone made a Blue Ridge Beauty and varied the layout like this?

Addendum:  I had another idea:
but, husband likes the diamond pattern better.  Guess my decision is made.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Self tracking" or self absorbed?

Sometimes I hear stories on NPR that leave me frozen in place with my jaw dropped in amazement.  This is one of them:

The "Self Tracking" movement allows you to quantify and chart everything about yourself and what you do.  How many steps do you take daily, how much REM sleep, how many calories burned, when are your most productive hours, how many phone calls do you make each day, how does your mood fluctuate, what is your heart rate - you name it, you can track it.  It gets even more invasive with companies which are handily providing blood tests on self-supplied samples.  Doctor, schmoctor, who needs him?

It's beyond creepy.  "Know thyself", indeed.

This is what happens when narcisicism and obsessive-compulsive disorder mix

Sunday, March 10, 2013

One sure sign I'm getting older

Lose the book.  Look everywhere.

Buy the book.  Used bookstore had a replacement.

Find the book.  Right under my nose.

Yep.  That's what I did.  Anybody want a quilt book?

I think I'm going to give it as a Christmas present to a relative.

Friday, March 8, 2013

"Sea" sick

While I was finishing all my UFOs I remembered a Storm at Sea quilt that was started so long ago that I can't even remember the date.  It was after I moved into this house, so after 1993, but long before I got my Juki sewing machine in 2001.  I think the diamonds were cut out using templates so it predates my serious entry into the rotary revolution.  I'm guessing early 1995.  The fabrics support this because they are in large part very early 1800's reproductions and plaids, and I remember buying what we now call layer cakes of both, 10" square collections, around that time.  The light background fabrics contain Thimbleberries prints and I was making a lot of Thimbleberries quilts back then too.  So, spring of 1995 at the latest.

That makes the project 18 years old.


(Is there a prize for oldest UFO?)

Anyway - I remember moving this project when I sorted or relocated my stash closet, first in a cardboard box, then in a zippered plastic cube from the purchase of some sheets, and finally in a plastic storage bin neatly labeled.  I didn't remember how much I had done or even if all of it was there so last year I got the box down, sorted and counted the patches and bagged them by category.  I had made all the square in a square blocks but not the diamond in a rectangle sashing blocks.

Two nights ago just as I was drifting asleep I thought about the Storm at Sea quilt again and resolved to dig it out in the morning, which I did.   It looked scrappy and promising so it became my next piecing project.  I marked the seam intersections on all the diamond sashing block corners and sewed the lot of them, 60 in total, finishing this morning.  Finally I could lay out the center of the quilt and see what I had:
It's quite pretty.  HOWEVER - it's going to be a nightmare to construct.  First, because it was started on another sewing machine (which will affect your seam allowances no matter now careful you are - at least it will with me) and second because of that template cutting of the sashing diamonds and skinny triangles, which renders them slightly less accurate than I would have wished, not to mention what can happen when trying to mark seam allowance intersections and make the corners come together right.  There's some fudging to be done.  Perhaps a LOT of fudging to be done.  The thought makes me queasy.

I have joined two rows of sashing and one row of blocks and it's a headache, to be sure.  But I love the look of it so I will persevere.

Oh, yes - the edge has a border which consists of a row of blocks/sashing with the colors reversed - light diamonds with dark corners and single square in a square blocks with dark center and light corners.  It adds to the design but means that I have 54 more diamond sashing blocks to make later.  I wish they were foundation paper pieced, which is how I would attempt this design if I were ever to make another one.  The added accuracy is worth the trouble.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A baby quilt for Mother's friend

The gentleman who owns the garage where my mother has her car serviced, a very nice man named Steve, is going to be a father in May.  Steve has some serious health issues, and Mom always asks about him and his family whenever she needs her car looked after.  He's been very good to her - where else have you seen the mechanic come and pick up your car, and then deliver it back to you when it's done?  Nowhere I've lived!

When she found out that Steve's wife was expecting we decided that they needed a baby quilt.  I had several made up in the drawer waiting for quilting so I photographed some possibilities, mailed them to her and we picked the favorite.  It came back from the longarm quilter yesterday and I started the binding very early this morning.  I just finished it:
The little images are cartoons of baby animals playing in the park (bunnies, puppies and kittens, elephants and bears, mice, hedgehogs and even a crocodile or two! - dressed in children's clothes) and were clipped from a panel, framed with bright colors and set with sashing and striped borders.  The quilting is a delightful  pattern of ABCs surrounded by squiggles, a design which my amazing longarm quilter found for me..  I can ask for almost anything and she comes up with it. Where she gets them all I can't imagine.  Here's an example of the quilting:
 Now to call mom and get the particulars for the label - I don't know their last name!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Eat up the leftovers

Leftovers, whether they're in the refrigerator or in the sewing studio, should never go to waste.  Here is what I did with my Panier de Fleurs blocks that did not go in the border of the other quilt:
A little hocus-pocus - add a four patch in the center, cut some grey patches from the leftover border fabric, and voila - a new design that plays with the other one but comes out new.  I have the makings for four more blocks.  Then if I want it to be bigger I have to pick out all the seams of the seven I made the old way for the other quilt's border.

Or I could put them on the back of the quilt.  That might be more rip-rip-rip than I'm up for doing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sometime it works, sometime it doesn't. . .

.   .   .and sometimes it's "What was I thinking?"

In my quest to finish all my UFOs, my next project was a quilt made from the Panier de Fleurs line using a Carrie Nelson pattern.  I didn't want to use a plain border so I concocted this variation on the center blocks:
 I thought it was rather clever, until I made the first row of border blocks and laid it out on the floor.  Then it hit me just how wrong it was.  In conception it made sense, on EQ it looked good.  In person - ugh.

So I sat down at the computer this morning and tried to come up with a use for the navy blocks I had made. First I put them alternating with the grey blocks:

 Not bad, but it still didn't hit the mark.  I checked how much of the grey print and red solid I had left, and drew up a very simple border:
This works well.  It's not cutesy and it's not clever but it works.  So I'm powering ahead trying to get this done in the next few days.

I'll figure out something to do with the navy blocks later - don't know what yet.

Yikes, I just made another UFO!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fifty ways to mess up your quilt block

Well, forty nine, at least.
This is another of my UFOs that have been languishing in my closet.  I made up the main block inspired by a similar one that I saw on the Connecting Threads website about three years ago.  At the time I sewed four of the main blocks and about lost my mind, so I put it away for a while.  The quilt was going to also use the string blocks that were left over from Roll Roll Cotton Boll after I designed a different alternate block for that one, but I didn't like the string blocks in this either.  The strings went back in their baggie and will appear somewhere else.  Well, they will if I can ever learn to love string blocks.  I have to use them somewhere, they took forever to make.

After a number of false starts on the alternate block I came up with this one, so I made a few of them and laid out what I had on the floor.  Pleased with the result, I sewed up a few of them and then resumed work on the main blocks.

That's when I discovered that with 49 separate little squares in a block there were oh so many ways you could get them turned and tumbled and end up with a mess.  Oh so, many ways.  All the little blue arrows are supposed to point toward the center but it is very easy to rotate one when you pick it up and then it's rip, rip, rip.

Has anyone seen this block before or did I actually invent it?  It looks like a super augmented Shoo Fly block.  I think I'm going to call it "Fly Away Home",  The little blue triangles are like homing pigeons all converging on the brown square in the center of the block, their roost.