Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday Wip

Every week we have Wednesday Wip on the Quiltsy Team blog - I've been enjoying participating in that and thought you might like to go over and have a peek, too!

Quiltsy WiP

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

111 Blocks, 12 months, 1 Big Quilt!

 Could you hear me whooping and hollering around 5:00 this afternoon?  Yes, there was a lot of happy dancing going around after that last border got added and pressed carefully quickly.  Then all 97 1.2 x 108 1/2 inches of this quilt got thrown over the top of my queen size bed for a photo shoot.  Yes, it's still raining here, so the pictures aren't all that fabulous, but I wanted to share the finish!  This quilt is for a king size quilt, and you can tell by the amount that hangs off the size of my queen size bed that it will fit very nicely on a larger bed.  I love how cheery it is with those nice yellow circles on the center of the plates! (But how I hated cutting all those freezer paper circles, ironing them on the fabric squares, trimming the fabric, ironing the seam allowances over, basting the edges, then appliqueing them onto the plates....

This top will be picked up tomorrow by the owner, then it will be long-arm quilted.  At that point it will likely come back to me for the final binding (probably in the green)  I'm relieved that I won't be doing the quilting - this is one large quilt!  And I'm sooo ready to work on another project!
I think Betty would be very pleased with how her quilt came out.  I was able to alternate all of the blocks she did (100) with the blocks I did (11) and you really can't tell who did which blocks unless you look really close.  She used white thread for her applique and I used a soft yellow.  And I know that her son and daughter in law will treasure this quilt and enjoy it!  I'm happy to have had the experience of working on it - I've really fine-tuned my applique skills and have learned that when faced with a large project that I need to work at a steadier pace.  Just think, if I'd have done just one block a day 5 days a week it would have been done several months ago and my poor fingers wouldn't have been sore at all!  I'm going to try to put that into practice on my Dear Jane project and start doing that one block a day...that will help me to cross that one off my list.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"The 'Burbs" goes home (Good-bye Doll Houses)

I feel like I've been obsessively posting about this quilt, but I promise, this is the last one.  I've been calling it the Doll House Quilt, but it's proper name is "The 'Burbs" from the Material Obsession book.  It was fun to work on, and I really enjoyed the big stitch quilting done with Perle Cotton.  I've got plans for doing more of that for sure!  The shy lady got her apron tacked down so it can't go up over her face anymore.  All 42 flowers are stitched and clipped every 1/4 inch.

This quilt was finished with machine stitched binding, and a cute label with hats on it because it reminded me of Carla. I added that it was the most fun quilt she ever made and that it was a pleasure for me to finish it for her family. 

 Her daughter picked it up today before the party her friends planned as a memorial.  The quilt was to be displayed there along with some of her other quilts and painted projects.  She was very artistic, and a wonderful lady.  I know she will be very much missed, but the beauty she created will live on.  I think that's partly why many of us love to create.  So that we will leave something behind for our loved ones to remember, a legacy so we aren't quickly forgotten.  I'm glad I can leave something tangible behind for my loved ones, to comfort and cheer them. 

And that I can watch my friends and family enjoy the work of my hands now is also a sweet thing!  Definitely something to be cherished and enjoyed.  I hope you enjoy creating something special this week - have fun and make something joyful!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sun Break!

Oh yes, we have a window of sun this morning! Too much rain makes me grumpy so a bit of blue sky and sun is definitely a cause for rejoicing here.

I got so much done yesterday - finished quilting the rest of the dolls and houses, the last two borders and pinned the circles on - I think there were 42 of them. I even got about half of them sewn down with buttons!  I will need to clip all the edges, but decided that would be easier to do all at once.  I think I'll be adding a bit more stitching, some of the houses will get paths and some of the circles will get tree trunks.

I even cleaned up my sewing room a bit, cleaned off the bar in the kitchen and put up my Easter tree (which delighted a certain 12th grade girl).

Today I need to take the valentine quilt down and replace it with the Irish Chain, a bit late but I do like to give all the seasonal quilts a turn.  The bunny quilt will go up right away because my sister is going to come for a visit with her daughter and grandson!  What fun that will be, I'm sure we'll have a grand time and maybe even sneak in some quilting?  I guess we'll have to see, at least we can talk about it if nothing else.  It feels lovely to be getting some things done, both as far as finishing projects, and in getting my house in shape.  It's been a long winter, and I'm looking forward to spring! 
Hope my pictures look all right - just took them right off my iphone - pretty handy to run off a quick blog post.  



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Doll House Quilt

***Please excuse the bad photographs.  We have been getting an average of 1 inch of rain a day for the past several days and there is no good light for picture taking.  I do my best to edit them, but I know it's not the same!  Hopefully by the time I finish this quilt we'll have enough of a sun break to take some better pictures!***

 I've been hard at work trying to finish this project up this week.  The top was made by a lady from my quilt guild (Carla).  It is from the book Material Obsession.  Carla told her daughter it was the most fun quilt she has ever made, and I believe it!  You can see the joy in the fun fabrics and bits and pieces she added.  The pinks are so joyful, and it's surprising that even though the quilt has a lot of brown and tan that it has such a happy feeling to it.
 I am using chocolate brown perle cotton as the the instructions call for to outline all the dolls and houses.  It is my first quilt done with this technique and I really like it!  It's a bit hard to pull the needle through the layers sometimes, but because the stitches are big it goes really fast!  I've enjoyed watching Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons while I stitch (so glad for Hallmark Channel!).
 Please excuse the shy lady with her apron covering her face.  I'm not too sure why she is so embarrassed, after all she is cute as can be!  I think I will have to be nice and stitch it down for her so it doesn't cover her head anymore.
 I nick-named this quilt "Little Pink Houses" because most quilts end up being associated with songs in my head.  A fun song for a fun quilt! 
Only 5 more blocks to go and the main part of the quilting will be done!  Still have to add some pathways around the houses and some circle flowers to the border.  I ended up deciding to use pink cotton for the border as it is a dark color and the brown thread doesn't show on it.  I figure if I'm going to do the stitching I want it to pop!

The really sad thing is that I am trying to finish this quilt for this weekend so that it can be a part of a memorial service for Carla.  Unfortunately, she lost a long battle with cancer, and one of her last requests was for me to finish this quilt for her.  It brought her comfort at the end of her life to know that this project was to be finished and enjoyed by her family.  I was glad to be able to do that for her.  I know that each one of her four daughters will love seeing this quilt finished and hope it will make them smile knowing how much she enjoyed working on this project.  We will all miss Carla, she was a sweet lady, a very talented toll painter, and had a great love of quilting. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Last Dance

I love Dance season!  It's so much fun watching my daughter dance - she is wonderful.  We are so proud of her, she was chosen as one of a few All State dancers and was outstanding in her performance.  She has put in a lot of work this year and so has her team.  All of that effort was rewarded with a nice trophy - Second place in their division!
My husband, the Dancer, Me and our oldest daughter - she flew in from Boston to see her sister in her last Dance Competition!  In fact all 4 of her sisters were there to see her dance.  In all there were 13 of us there including both of our grandsons, the two son-in-laws, a boyfriend, and couple of other friends.  We took up a whole row and had a grand time screaming and cheering on our Marshfield Upbeats!  Woooo!

It's been fun, but I'm ready to be finished.  As a team captain's mom, I've been responsible for quite a few things, including making a quilt for the coach.  The girls all made a signature block and I sewed them together into a nice quilt - just a tied one, but it came out very nicely! 

Between me and the other mom we've brought meals and snacks and just tried to make sure all the girls were well fed and cared for at the competitions and between all of that and lots of practices I am a little worn out and miss being able to concentrate on my quilting.   This is my girl's senior year, and all these events are full of emotion - the last time we'll go through all of the fun, drama, and work of raising her up.  The empty nest is looming, and we are looking forward to it, and dreading it.  We'll miss these times, but look forward to new things, new routines and maybe a little less responsibility! 

Hopefully now, I'll be posting more projects here.  (But track season starts tomorrow.....) 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Little Pink Houses

Hand stitching with perle cotton!

Defy Gravity - Dance Team Quilt

Today I am working on finishing up a quilt that will be a gift for my daughter's Dance Team Coach.  My daughter is one of the captains and she put forth the idea of making a quilt for the coach that each of the girls signs.  I was secretly hoping to make one for her, so I was really glad to have the idea come from the girls!  I prepared 18 squares of white fabric with freezer paper ironed on the back (10 inch squares with a 9 inch square of freezer paper).  We told the girls not to write outside the boundary of the paper and I included pre-tested pens to write with.  The girls did a good job, but some of them wrote right up to the edge of the paper, which makes the blocks very tight for trimming.  So - next time I would give myself a little more margin and make the paper smaller than the finished block!  (I really do believe that you learn something with every quilt!)

Since there were 18 girls and 3 blocks by six blocks is a long skinny quilt I decided to add 2 additional blocks to make a 4 x 5 quilt (which ended up at around 46 x 58 - a pretty nice lap quilt).  I made up a picture collage of some pictures of the girls dancing, plus their "trophy shots" from the last competition.  I printed this up on printable fabric sheets, then made a block that has the year and their theme for this years dance, along with their team name:  Upbeats.  I put these two blocks in the center, with the four senior girls above and below for the center of the quilt, then the rest of the team arranged around that.

This quilt has two layers of poly batting because Debbie is always cold!  It's going to be tied with orange embroidery floss and the girls plan to present it to her Friday Night at dinner.  I'm hoping to be allowed to be there to take pictures, but if not hope someone else will!  This will be such a special gift because the girls wrote such sweet things in their squares.  You can sure tell they love their coach!  I was thrilled to be able to create this for her because I know it will be a tangible reminder of how important she has been to them, and she will always know how much she is appreciated for all her hard work.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Wouldn't It Be Nice?

Wouldn't it be be nice if all the things I wanted to get done in a day would get done?  I certainly think so.  Seems like most days my list is way longer than my day is.  For instance, today I had several phone calls to make, planned to work on sorting stuff from the garage for my rummage sale on Saturday, stitch a few more Dresden plates and go to my daughters dress rehearsal for the Dance Competition.  Then my husband had to stay home from work with a sore back and my daughter had to be picked up early from school because she was feeling unwell.

I did get about half of the stuff from the garage sorted, but no phone calls or Dresdens got done.  The dress rehearsal went perfectly, though!  I am excited about going to the competition next week.  (Yahoo, three days of no cooking!!)  Plus, after this weekend my house will be less cluttered.  I hope I can get some time to clean out the sewing room a bit also.

I have the center panel of the Dresden plate quilt together (sorry, no picture!) and we picked out the next border fabric. then I have to add two more rows of dresdens and I am done!  I'm not sure if I can finish it next week, but I sure would love to.  I'm starting to think of what my next quilt will be.  I have a UFO that I'd like to work on for my bed - it's a round robin that I've designed a final border for that will be awesome on my bed!  I've also been thinking of a star quilt in blues and whites.  Hmmm... possibilities!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Joan's Vintage Butterfly Quilt - Finished!

I am so glad to be able to report that I've finally finished this quilt!  It's been an interesting project from start to finish and I am excited to be able to hand it off to its owner now as a very usable quilt in good condition.  When I first saw this quilt it really was in a sorry state - a still damp ball of wadded up cloth with huge lumps and shreds of batting inside.  At least it smelled good!

After examining it, I called the owner and told her that I could repair the pieces that were torn, but in order to replace the batting I was going to have to take all the ties out of the back and basically re-do it.  She said, "certainly, do what you need to" so I took it home to begin the journey of bringing this lovely quilt back to life.  A fellow butterfly fan was in the shop while I was looking at it and we got really excited because neither one of us has seen this block before.  We both liked the curve of the wing, because it gave a graceful look to a potentially very geometric block.

Over the next couple of months I would take the quilt out while watching television and take out some of the ties.  They were hard to remove, tied through the back of the quilt right into the seam allowances of the butterflies - no yarn showing at all on the top surface!  How on earth the maker of the quilt accomplished this, I can't imagine!  Then I started unpicking the edges - the backing (a blue percale sheet) was just wrapped over to the front and stitched down.  A nicely done, very serviceable finish.  As I got the back loose I started pulling out handfuls of shredded batting.  Several wastebaskets full by the time I was done!  None of it in any kind of usable condition, wouldn't even have made good pillow stuffing.  It took a while to get all the little shreds out of the seams, but I just worked on it a little at a time.  When I got it all cleaned up I was able to check out the repairs needed.  Quite a few of the black pieces needed replacing, and there were holes in some of the white background pieces.  Not too many popped seams, though.

I drafted a block pattern to make it a little easier to cut out the pieces I needed to replace.  That was kind of fun, and I pieced a block of my own, just to see how hard it was to put together.  A little tricky, but not too bad, really.  Not that I'm about to make 90 of them!  That's how many this quilt has in it - it's a 9 inch block, so the finished quilt is about 81 x 90 inches.  A little small for my queen size bed, but quite pretty.  I used a solid blue sheet for the backing.  After finishing the repairs I quilted it by machine - I quilted loop the loops in the background, then stitched each block in the ditch, matching my thread color to the solid color in the butterfly wings.  I had wanted to quilt some swirly lines in the butterfly wings, but since the quilt wasn't really flat, I decided that the stitch in the ditch was the best way to deal with those puffy wings.  It worked out fabulously!  I thought a black binding would really add to it, but in the end and added a blue binding as the customer requested.
  I take a pretty liberal stance in my decision on how to approach repairing/refurbishing/renovating an old quilt.  I take into account the age of the quilt with the sentimental and/or historical value as well as monetary value and let my potential customers know my advice, and how the options will affect the value, lifespan and kind of care the quilt will require.  If this quilt would have been quilted originally (well, then we wouldn't have had the batting problem either, most likely!) I would have advised just to make the basic repairs and leave the old backing on it.  Because we ended up taking it down to the top I could have hand quilted or machine quilted it.  The owner confirmed that it was from the early 60's, not a family heirloom, but a quilt she had purchased and she wanted a quilt that she would be able to use and not spend a lot of money on the quilting.  So we decided that machine quilting was the best way of finishing the quilt.  In other circumstances I have advised no repairs, or limited repairs.

So glad this is finished, and I can't wait for my customer to see it!  I hope she loves the quilt and that she will enjoy many years of the use of this lovely quilt!  If you'd like to make this lovely block, I've uploaded the pattern to my Craftsy pattern shop - let me know if you make it and how it comes out!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Piles of Plates

No, not in my kitchen sink (at least not on this night for a change!). Piles of Dresden Plates. I am nearing the end of the great Dresden Plate project. I have a few more to applique, but I have enough to start putting the quilt together, and hopefully sometime next week I will have a quilt top finished and ready for quilting -which will be the next great adventure - it's going to be a king size!
One of the things I have been concerned about with this project is that I am starting with about a hundred blocks that were made by my friend who started this. She became ill with cancer last year and asked that I finish this for her - it was to be a gift for her daughter in law. I said yes, of course. Betty passed away not too long after that. It's been a little hard to work on at times and I feel a heavy responsibility to make sure this comes out like Betty would want it to. I have had to add to her scraps and sometimes have wondered if anyone will be able to tell the blocks I made from the ones she did.

After sewing a few blocks together tonight, my mind is at ease - every other block was made by me, but they all look just fine together and I honestly can't pick out the ones I did from the ones she did! So happy that our blocks are going to live side by side happily! The blocks are 7 inches square (6 1/2" finished). There are 212 of them in this quilt - so it's been a long road, but I'm excited to see it coming together at last. I think it will be a lovely quilt, and I know will be a keepsake for her family. Miss you, Betty, and it's an honor to have my work beside yours.