What’s new?

Well, we asked our favorite appliance repair company to come to check out our broiler and give us lessons on how to run our oven/broiler.  It turns out the broiler is fine.  It’s the users who need a little work.  While he was here, I asked him if he could order a replacement for the flange in the disposal that was missing.  If I ran the disposal, I had to place something above it, or wear what it threw back at me.  He couldn’t  help us with that, but offered to install a new disposal for us.  Normally I would have said “No” to an offer like that, but I went for it.  The inside of the disposal was rusted, and it sounded as though it was going to shake apart the counter when it ran.  It turns out it was a good choice.  There were signs of leaking at the bottom.  So, we are now the proud owners of a much quieter, cleaner, neater garbage disposal!

We’re going to resume Cookie Day!  I have probably less than half the space that I once had, and only one oven, but with careful organization, we should be able to do this.  I plan to bake the day before, and leave one refrigerated cookie ready to bake first thing that morning  We’ll use the eating area off the kitchen for some prep, as well as the dining room table.  I can clear the trestle table in the living room to store baked goods.  I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.  So far, there will be four of us, plus a five year old.

I finished two blocks for my great-nephew’s Minecraft quilt, and just kept on working on other projects.  I have a 25 block whirligig lap quilt in blues and yellow ready to be sewn together.  I want to add white, yellow and blue borders to bring it up to about  44 inches square.  It will be the first quilt finished for the 2015 season of Scraps on a Mission.

While I was at it, I pieced two blocks for a “Missing U” quilt, the large blocks that are crazy pieced from a single color per block.  The first is from strips of medium to dark blue.  When I began the second block, I had a handful of fuchsia triangles, so I sewed them to a variety of fuchia/pink fabrics to make squares, and then pieced them into two strips.  I was total happy just playing with fabric!  :-)

Let’s see if this works…

I’m working with one of my nieces to make  Minecraft quilt for her son.  There are twelve blocks, and nine of them are based on an 8 by 8 grid.  The most difficult thing about those blocks is having enough solid colors to accomplish the design, and then having to cut them into 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ squares.

This is the quilt we are creating:  Minecraft

I’ve made the sword and the diamond pick axe blocks which are the same size block but on a 16 x 16 grid.  Each square finishes out at one inch.

If you can see the quilt, then the link worked! lol

Bunny Faces

I have a wonderful quilt top almost finished for my newest great great niece.  Actually, it’s been finished for a couple of months, waiting for me to figure out how to do  eyes and mouths for the bunnies that grace the quilt.  I’m very aware that it is inappropriate to sew  on small buttons for the eyes, so that left me in a quandary.  Should I try to do something with my sewing machine, or try to draw faces with permanent markers?

Well, I’m not much at drawing things.  I’d hate to ruin a block that is already sewn into a quilt top. (Yeah….I know….I should have done the faces and THEN sew them together.)  Everything about this quilt is a new experience for me.  This is the first time I have ever tried my hand at machine applique, including trying Stitch Witchery and Heat and Bond and other types of  sticky things. I’ve learned to use a blanket stitch, and learned that  I might want to consider putting the stitch into proportion with the pattern I’m  making.

Today, I spent about three hours at my sewing machine trying to see if I could sew  eyes or a wink, and a smile, or at least a mouth.   I’d choose a design and sew it.  Then I’d alter either the length or the width and run it again.  At that point I’d mark the design number and the changes.  And then I’d make some more changes.

(I think my new sewing machine can make waffles, but I haven’t found that button yet.)

I  took time to read through the manual.  It’s large and not very well written, but I did find a magic button that elongates a pattern, and that was just what I needed!  I practiced a bit, and think I’m ready.  Now, should all the  mouths and winks be in black, or white?

Decisions, decisions, decisions.  Thank God for all these babies who have joined my family.  I learn new things with each quilt I make for them.

 

Quilting Bee

Seven ladies who quilt come to visit at my house the first Friday of each month. We don’t have an official name, and we all seem to have our own specialty within quilting.  We bring new acquisitions and old and new projects to share, and we chat.  We chat and we eat.

Usually at the meeting close to the Fourth of July we have an indoor picnic.  Everyone signs up to bring something to share, and Dear Husband and I provide the meat.  This year three of our members were going to be away, so we moved the picnic to the August meeting.  Despite the shift, we still had just five members in attendance tonight, but it was a very pleasant gathering.

Knowing that some of the ladies would be away, I decided that I should cook a bit more than usual.  Another quilting friend had shared a recipe for pulled pork that I wanted to try.  I planned to broil bratwurst and hot dogs for those who might not care for the pulled pork.  I made a cold corn salad, deviled eggs, hamburger baked beans and Hot German potato salad.  I also made a peach pie, just in case the dessert lady was one of the absentees.

By 4:00 or so my feet really hurt, and I still had an hour of preparation to go.  The back door opened and Dear Husband walked in, home from the lake.  I had expected him around 8:00, but it was rainy, so he came home early.  DH took over the broiling duties while I finished the potato salad.

One lady brought spinach dip as an appetizer.  Another brought ciabatta rolls.  A third brought romaine, avocados and a wonderful lemony vinaigrette., and the fourth provided Key Lime pie.  I knew we would have way too much food, so I’d picked up containers that I could use to send food home with each of the ladies.

One of the ladies washed the plates and serving pieces for me, and another dried.  I put things away and made a second container of iced tea, and we sat down to chat.  It was a very laid back, lovely meeting.  Oddly, no one bought anything to work on. Hopefully, that will make next month’s show and tell that much more exciting!

Labor Day 2011

And I am laboring! Saturday and Sunday I spent a good part of each day in my quilting studio, working on pieces of five different quilts. I made binding for one baby quilt and sewed the binding on to two others. I cut out the sashing strips for a quilt that will go to Scraps on a Mission, and assembled all of the horizontal rows of a 6 x 6 block quilt. Yesterday afternoon I sewed the first three rows of that quilt together, and hope to finish it tomorrow.
I was in the kitchen, making the first zucchini bread of fall when the back door opened and in walked Dear Husband. He came home from the lake a full day earlier than I had expected, and told me that wind and waves forecast for today were going to make it too unpleasant to stay on the boat, even moored in the harbor. He also said his stomach was a little on the fritz. I hate to sail. My stomach is ALWAYS on the fritz when I am on a boat, so I just figured the weather was really whipping up and didn’t give the comment about the upset tummy much attention.
Well, it seems he has the flu. Until the past year or two I would have told you that Dear Husband NEVER gets sick, but now that he’s in his mid-sixties he picks up little bugs now and then. Or, perhaps he was just more stoic about them before and hid them well. At any rate, he’s home for the day, taking it easy, reading a science magazine.
I got up early this morning, intending to go out to weed as soon as the sun was up, but I stalled. It was about 56 when I checked the temperature at the NOAA site. DH and I had breakfast together and we talked about meals for this week and next. I checked to see what we needed from the store.
Usually the first thing I do when I go out to work on the gardens is to feed the birds. I was working on that when I realized the mice and chipmunks had made a mess on the shelving above the seed bins. I cleaned that up, mixed up more seed, filled the bird feeders and then headed out with the weedeater. I got the area at the front of the house finished and then pulled the spent day lily stalks. I had the chance to look over the beds and plan my attack over the next few days.
The budlea that I thought would never amount to anything is suddenly a blooming shrub. My sister, Frankie, has warned me that it will grow out of hand, and that I may regret having planted it where it is. I’m pretty sure she’s right :-( (But, it’s a really pretty plant!)
Later today, I’m going to use the weedeater in the back, around the herb garden and finish potting up some mums for the front of the house. I’m eager to make the front of the house more inviting for fall. Maybe it’s time to pull out the tomato plant that’s creeping across the sidewalk! *G*
Happy Labor Day to you all!

Last Quilt of 2009

My sister, Frankie, has been working on her first quilt in about fifteen years. She called me one day in late June or early July, to say that she was standing in the middle of a fabric sale, and could I help her figure out how much she needed to buy!?
She decided to do one of Eleanor Burns’ “Quilt in a Day” quilts. This one is the log cabin block. She’s made 24 blocks in shades of turquoise and tan/brown. She wanted to create the idea of sand and waves.
The lovely part of all this is that we have shared the work on the top. Over three visits, I did the sewing, and she pressed the blocks and handed me the next strip to be added. I think if we had had one long day without any obligations, we might have gotten it done, but both our lives are so busy that we had to take a little time here, and a little time there. Frankie gets to assemble the blocks into the top, and add borders. She will also be making a variable binding from the strips that were left over ( you know…..”Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without). We both love saving money and being frugal with what we have.
I’ve really enjoyed this time with my sister. I wish I could have this same experience with all the ladies in my family. Elegante Mother appliqued several things that I quilted, but she is the only other member of the family with whom I’ve collaborated.
I have pictures of the blocks, laid out on the floor in the pattern Frankie liked for her quilt. I need to download them and send them off to her. With a little bit of prompting, perhaps I can get her to post them for you at her blog. And when I get pictures taken of MY last quilt for the year, I’ll post them, too.

Fairy Godmother

My sister, Frankie, of Just My Opinion, is not happy to be just my sister. She has also applied to be my Fairy Godmother and I think she may beat out all the other contestants!
Last weekend, Frankie and her youngest daughter, our artist-in-training (AIT) came for a visit. It was MUCH too short, but they were able to arrive Friday night, and could stay until Sunday morning. Believe me, if you could see the Day-Timers for these two women, you would know how blessed I was to have even that much of their time.
I THOUGHT that the reason for this visit was to blitz the sewing of a new quilt top for Frankie. This summer she called me while she was standing in the midst of a fabric sale (be still my beating heart!) and asked me how much fabric she needed for a log cabin quilt. I was surprised to be able to give her any kind of sensible answer, but she seemed happy with my response, and brought the fabric to show, the next time she visited.
I’d cleared off the table in the quilt studio in preparation for cutting the strips. I thought we would start early Saturday morning and zip right through this to give her a completed top to take home. She had other ideas.
It was supposed to rain on Saturday. The clouds were out west, and I thought it would be rainy all Saturday. Frankie had mentioned that she wanted to help me clean up my gardens. It’s about a month too early to put them to bed for the winter, but they were looking pretty woolly, and needed attention. She decided that we needed to get out and put a couple of hours in before the rain came.
“But, the quilt…” “We’ll get to it.”
So, we put on our gardening clothes and gloves and trouped out. Frankie decided to start in the herb garden, which of all my gardens needed the most help. The herb garden sits to the north of the house, even with the kitchen. I can look out over it as I work at the sink. She asked me what could go, and what needed to be trimmed, and went off to collect her tools. She brought the entire compliment of loppers and rakes and hoes and shovels from home!
The area immediately to the east of the herb garden (on the north side of the garage) is rather like the poor relation in my yard. It really needs to be cleared, so that I can have a paved patio installed, but at the very least, I should put down landscaping paper and mulch or gravel. It was a mess of weeds and equipment, and it was driving me crazy.
While Frankie cleaned up my herb garden, I used the string trimmer to cut back all the weeds. Then, I moved three different sizes of Weber grills, the sieve I use when cleaning dirt from pots, the saw horses, and some potted plants onto the newly cleared area. (Frankie, I planted chrysanthemums in that little box at the front of the garage!)
The front of the house looks vastly improved, and so does that area north of the garage. But, the herb garden…….WOW! Frankie cleaned the walkways. ALL of the walkways! I tend to get one side or the other when I get to working on the garden, but she got the entire path! Even the little areas that lead to the lawn, where I traditionally heap up weeds waiting to be picked up! It looks astonishing! I know…a picture is worth a thousand words. I promise to take pictures and post them here.
Frankie cut back the rudbekia, and the oregano and the chives, and the lemon balm. She ripped out the spent basil plants, but had the sense to leave the lemon verbena and the columnar basil. We decided to leave the purple coneflower, which looks really untidy right now, but it feeds the finches, so it gets to stay another month. We both like the look of the lamb’s ears that has escaped the formal bed to grow in the walkway, so we agreed to leave those, too. It looks absolutely wonderful.
I should also sing the praises of AIT, who got out of bed to pick up loads of weeds and run them to the back in a wheelbarrow that had a tire going flat! She made things fly for us, and I can’t praise her enough for her part in all this.
We worked for close to four hours! I was really glad to “tweet” and call a halt. We were both at places where we were willing to quit, in other words, DONE! My herb garden is glorious! Thank you dear Sis and Niece for all you did!
Oh…I forgot to mention that they spent about half an hour pulling grapevines from our shrubs. I can’t wait to see the finished project that Frankie is working on. I believe she is creating a grapevine Christmas tree.
As for the quilt top, it was interrupted once more. We all showered and had lunch and the girls went to buy a pair (or more) of shoes for AIT. She is a college student and has discovered the necessity of having good shoes. She found a pair of shoes and a pair of winter boots. Frankie found a pair, too, so shopping was a success.
When they returned, tired, I cracked the whip, and insisted that we work on cutting the strips for the quilt! I ironed fabric and handed it to Frankie, and she cut the strips. We were two thirds of the way through the project when I had to fix dinner, so she kept cutting and got it all done. AIT and I worked on dinner, and we put out a bowl of mixed fruit, tuna melts on English muffins, and a huge bowl of salad with strips of chicken and practically every veggie in the house!
After dinner, Frankie thought she was going to be allowed to rest. There was some mention of aching muscles, and how long a day it was, but I was of a mind to SEW! I told her she could sit, but I wanted to make up at least one block to see what it looked like. Well, with the method she was going to use, I actually ended up with three finished blocks and part of eleven more, but who’s counting?
I know she was exhausted, but there was a satisfaction in being able to put up those blocks to see what her quilt was going to look like. She was surprised, as we frequently are until we can see them on the design wall, but not unhappy with how they looked. I wish she had left them to me. I’d have been happy to complete the blocks for her in return for all the gardening help she gave me. Perhaps, when the project is further along, Frankie will post pictures of the quilt.
We breakfasted together Sunday morning, before seeing our visitors off. AIT needed some time to work on her homework, and they have a long drive home. I always hate to see them go. Dear Husband and I will drive down to their home in Indiana in October, and their entire family will be with us for four days at Christmas, but I’ve been spoiled this summer, seeing my sis several times a month. We may need to live closer together when we are all retired!
It was a GREAT weekend, and it’s been a good week so far. Thank you, Frankie and AIT, for all you did. Don’t you all wish you had family like this!???

Quilted Purses

I mentioned some time ago that I was working on quilted purses for my nieces. I finished them, and they were given as gifts late last year. I have a picture of one to show you. My niece has always been interested in frogs and things of that sort. I found an incredible fabric that had chameleons or newts on it, and bought it even though I didn’t have a project in mind.
I found a pamphlet with instructions for quilted totes, duffel bags, purses, and accessories, and figured that would be great for quick gifts. Unfortunately, what I didn’t stop to think about was that I was going to have to quilt the fabric, rather than using a pre-quilted fabric. Of course, I did it by machine, but it took me days to get it right. I needed to work out tension and the needle size to get my very ancient machine to cooperate. I ripped out a lot of stitches and re-did them, until I got them right. And having said that, the job was still that of a novice at machine quilting.
This is a picture of the bag I did for my frog-loving, artistic niece:
Beccas Purse for Blog.jpg
I did a similar purse for her older sister which was in red and black with gold Japanese calligraphy. She is very into anime (or was….I hope she still is), so that’s what helped me to design her purse. I may have a picture of her purse to share one day.

Sewing Days

January is very often taken up with organization of papers, and preparation of taxes, and it usually leaves me little time for sewing. I have a number of projects that I have been working on that I want to finish. (So I can start NEW projects, of course!) To that end, I managed to steal two or three afternoons to work on a tote bag for Frankie, my youngest sis.
I made the mistake of not choosing pre-quilted fabrics for this project. I let Frankie choose three Batiks that are quite beautiful, so I had to layer them with batting, and quilt them before I completed the project. A friend who quilts helped me with a problem I was having with skipped stitches (I needed a lower number needle, a thinner one), and that helped me move through part of the quilting. Once I had the strips for the handle quilted, I decided to finish making the handle. Imagine a strip four inches wide by 110 inches long. I had to turn the long unfinished edges to meet in the center, and then fold the strip in half one more time, to enclose those raw edges. Then I had to sew them together parallel to each edge and down the middle.
Apparently, my machine can stitch through four thicknesses of batting and eight thicknesses of Batik, but I forgot a rule you learn early on in sewing: Do not PULL the fabric through the needle. I changed the foot. I changed the needle, I tried re-threading the machine, to no avail. I had messed up the timing, and it had to go to the sewing machine doctor.
He’s a good kid. Before him, his dad worked on this machine. I sew on a Singer 301A which is almost as old as I am, and I love it. I’ve told them that they have to make this machine last as long as I do, and so far, they have. He had it a day and a half, before the called to tell me it was ready to pick up.
This weekend I have a little more time to work on the tote, so I’ll share a picture when it’s done. Thank goodness for good sewing machine doctors!

Bazaar things

My mother has joined the Empty Nester’s group at church. A group of the ladies who belong to the Empty Nester’s meet here once a month to do charitable sewing. For the past few months, they have devoted their time to making things for the church bazaar. I’ve offered my help with a few of the projects that needed to be quilted.
At the same time, I’ve been working on three bed-sized quilts of my own. When you have finished the quilting the last two steps in your project are sewing on a label and binding the edges. Binding is simply a method of enclosing the raw edges of a quilt. I happen to prefer bias binding, and I make it the old fashioned way, cutting one strip of bias fabric at a time. This is what the project looks like when I start:
Binding for Blog 2.jpg
I made the bindings for four projects one morning, and for three more the following day. This is what the first batch of binding looked like when it was ready to be applied to the quilts:
I’ve finished the bindings on two of the three large quilts. I’ll have to bind four large lap quilts before the end of the month. I took the time to measure the binding I had made, and there is 145 FEET of it! I’ll have to work fast to get those four lap quilts done!