Monday, November 23, 2015

A Handstitching Weekend

It was 12 degrees outside this morning - yikes!  I need to double-down and get the remaining three borders quilted on The Blockade quilt so we can add it to the pile on the beds to keep us warm!  And "they" said El Nino would bring us a warmer than normal winter!

It's all about hand stitching these days.  The sewing machines are covered until it's time to stitch the binding on the two quilts in the hoops.  My goal is to finish both before the end of the year.  The big stitch quilting on the giant hexie quilt is coming along nicely, nearly half done now.

And today begins week three of making the Quilty 365 circles.  These are the ones completed last week.

I found some scraps from the Thanksgiving table napkins I made a few years ago, so this week's circles will have a theme.  I'm thinking this finished quilt will be a quilt of seasons, we'll see how that theme progresses as the months go by.  Are any of you already thinking about setting options for all these circle blocks?  The possibilities occupy my mind around 3 a.m. on those nights when sleep seems elusive, and there are many - possibilities and sleepless nights it seems.

With grocery shopping tomorrow and baking on Wednesday I think those couple circles sewn ahead of time will keep things nearly on schedule.  Wishing all of you a blessed Thanksgiving filled with happy laughter with friends and family.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Circle of Life

Yesterday our 18-1/2 year young kitty Shyloe passed from this earth.  Already considered elderly when we adopted her eight years ago, she surprised us constantly with her resilience and love for life, a warm fire, a sunny spot by the sliding glass doors, and parmeson chicken.

She never met a quilt she didn't love, and kept herself occupied helping to arrange blocks and baste many a quilt,
Considered herself chief inspector of the finished product,
and slept soundly on all the little kitty quilts scattered in her favorite places.

She sleeps now by the edge of the woods, cradled by her little quilts, next to the forsythia we planted last spring.
today's circle - for Shyloe, my quilty kitty

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Trunk Show

Online Quilt Trunk Show | Whims And Fancies

Whims and Fancies is holding a trunk show linky party!  So, in the spirit of November quilty fun, here are a few of my favorite things.  Lets open up the trunk, or in this case cedar chest, shall we?
A couple vintage tops rescued and quilted by me

It all started a very long time ago, shortly after I graduated high school and began working.  I made all my own clothes back then, and being brought up in a very frugal household saved all my fabric scraps.  So, when my son was about two years old, I decided to make him a quilt from all those fabric scraps, loose weaves, polyester fabric and all!  Having no idea how to make a quilt this assemblage of 4 inch squares was filled with an old thermal blanket and "quilted" with fancy embroidery stitches, crazy quilt style.  He loved it, wore it to shreds, and ever-after asked me again and again if I could "fix" it!  He'll be 40 in a couple months, and the quilt as far as I know no longer exists, and no photos either.  Thankfully!   Seven years later, when my daughter was a newborn I took her along to my first quilting classes.  This is the quilt that eventually emerged from those lessons some 33 years ago:
And I was hooked on quilting, and have been ever since.  A few of my favorites over the years:

Wall quilts:
Husband's lighthouse quilt along with a couple of my handwoven pieces

Grandchildren's quilts:

Donation quilts:

Comfort quilts - this is my favorite:

Doll quilts:

Marriage quilts:

Just a few of my favorites over the years.  I hope you'll join in and post a linky of your own trunk full of favorites over at Whims and Fancies!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Around and Around in Circles

Circles everywhere!  Four days into Quilty 365 and so far keeping up.
Quilty 365 - First Four!
Liking the pink and brown combos a lot, so there will be more of them scattered around this eventual quilt.  The pink and brown designs are from an old partial panel from a scrap bag of yard sale fabrics.
And, I know there will soon be days when no sewing is accomplished, so I've cut a few circles ahead from a couple different scraps and have them pinned on the design wall ready and waiting for any opportunity to work on them.
 Next batch of circles to be appliqued
The key to success in this project for me is going to be to not get very far behind.

And, I lied.  I said there would be no additional photos of The Blockade quilt until it is finished. After hand quilting on this queen size monster over the summer, the blocks are finally all quilted; and as I laid it out on the cutting table to repin the borders, couldn't resist a few photos.
My retro quilt - The Blockade
The quilt top was purchased several years ago on eBay, it came from the estate of an Ohio Mennonite lady who was a prolific quilter in her time.  This top came with the border quilting designs already pencilled onto the white muslin.  The blocks were made with a mix of mid-century fabrics, with a few older pieces likely from the 1930s or early 1940s.
I was able to complete one hoopful of the border design last evening.
Hoping I can get by with just quilting the border as drawn and that it won't demand additional background quilting.  I'm using Hobbs Polydown batting which according to one source can be quilted as far apart as six inches.  None of the spaces are that large, so we'll just have to make a judgment call after all the border design is quilted.  We're in need of an additional quilt on the guest bed for winter and I'd like to have this one completed before the Christmas holidays if possible.  And there's white stuff falling from the sky intermittently with possible accumulation later tonight, so an extra quilt is going to be very welcome, very soon!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Monday Prepping

Today after putting the sewing room back in order after the weekend grandkids' visit, I spent some time prepping two projects.

First, the appliques for the Autumn Leaves quilt need to be stitched down.  Recall that when I first cut the applique pieces I discovered the tight angles and curves are way beyond my skill level for hand applique.  So, the Janome will be pressed into action and they will be satin stitched to the background.  Rather than pinning the pieces in place I'm trying Roxanne Glue Baste-It for the first time.  Here's the first applique block laid out before glueing any pieces.  As usual, the color rendering isn't great, but you get the idea:

Next up, I made a start on Quilty 365.  Audrey of Quilty Folk recently came up with a quilt-along that will take an entire year - hence the name Quilty 365.  The premise is really quite simple and fun, every day for a year choose a piece of scrappy fabric, cut it in a circle and applique to a 4 1/2 inch square.    You can see Audrey's post announcing this quilt-along here.   Why not play along and grab the button from her blog and join in the fun?  I'm planning to practice needle turn applique stitching the circles in place and by the end of a year, who knows, there might yet be hope for appliqueing more complicated shapes.

This is a project that can potentially make use of a LOT of scraps that have lingered far too long in various bins, boxes and bags.  For instance, this pile of former 10-inch, more or less, squares that make up the first 110 or so of my background squares.  Not even sure where these came from but they don't seem to be from a formal layer cake (no pinking, oddly cut, etc.)  They've been hanging around for far too long, so now they're about to find a home.
Next. some high-tech work cutting an appropriate size circle template.
That little cracker box was saved from the oblivion of the wood stove in the shop just in time to enjoy a new and higher calling.  Have always used cereal boxes in the past, but we didn't finish all the Special K this morning ...
Making the templates (including quarter and half circles made just in case, though it might be easier to just stitch fabrics together and cut from the full circle template - we'll make that determination later!)

Then it was on to a bit of hand quilting on both hooped projects, the giant hexies and The Blockade quilts.  Nearly finished with the blocks on the Blockade and hope to start the borders - finally - in another day or so.  As promised months ago, no more photos til this monster is finished.

With leftovers for supper and no big kitchen commitment, one last little project for the day-
First little slightly wonky Quilty 365 block on the design wall.  
A sweet quilty day indeed!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Trying out Big Stitch Quilting

Yesterday I sandwiched and pinned the giant hexie quilt, and marked a big Baptist Fan quilt design over all.  Began big stitch quilting (for the first time) last night.  I'm loving the result!  It's quicker and easier than regular hand quilting, even doing one stitch at a time rather than attempting to rock the needle. Here's what I have completed so far:
I'm using DMC Pearl Cotton #8 and a Fons and Porter utility quilting needle for this first attempt.

I wondered if doing the larger stitching would affect my regular hand quilting stitch size, but I've been switching back and forth between the two quilts currently hooped, and am not finding any change in my normal hand quilting stitches so far.

So, I'm wondering, if you do big stitch hand quilting, what have you found to be an ideal stitch size as far as ease of stitching, overall appearance, and longevity of your finished item?  I'm finding that about 6 stitches per inch is quite easy for me to do, and the stitches don't look as if they will snag on little toes or other items. I'm hoping this will be durable for a young child's bed and heavy use.

My other question concerns the pearl cotton.  I'm finding that the thread seems to be untwisting the plies as I stitch along and the unknotted end is unravelled before I've stitched along more than 12 inches or so.  I've tried knotting the cut end as well as the lead end of thread and find it doesn't seem to make much difference.  Is this a characteristic of pearl cotton due to a looser twisting of the plies or ??  This inquiring mind would like to know.
The three youngest grands will be here for the weekend so today I'm spending my time making the sewing room toddler and preschooler-proof.  Not much quilting to be accomplished in the next few days but lots of hugging and chasing!  A grandma's happy time!