Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sometimes I make it up as I go…

I have a plethora of bonus half square triangles from several projects I have made in the past 2 years.  Bonus half squares are made when you sew a second seam to a square you are adding to a rectangle to make a triangle be on the corner of the rectangle.  Clear as mud I know.  But when the thought of making tiny half squares for a project seems overwhelming, it is a wonder to get them as a bonus when you take the time to sew the extra seam! I learned this trick from a class I took from Bonnie Hunter years ago.  She has lots of tips and tricks on her web site that make so much sense. Waste not want not is probably her mantra.

Stars over Challotte
I made a quilt last year from one of Bonnie’s books called Stars over Challotte.  It used up a huge number of bonus half squares and then of course I made a few more quilts that netted me many more bonus half squares. My little box of them is overflowing and I wanted to come up with something for using them up.  

9 patch stars
I decided to make a little 6” star with a 9 patch in the center.  The 9 patch is surrounded by half square triangles that make star points. I had lots of blue and brown and green and brown half squares so I made my little stars have brown points.

When I drafted my original pattern I needed somewhere in the vicinity of 72 stars.  I decided the stars would be pretty busy so I went back to the drawing board and made my pattern have a second block that would create the look of chains between the stars.

Yuck, back choice.

I liked the little tan and blue 9 patches that created the center of the star and decided to make the chain blocks from four red and tan 9 patch blocks.  I made four of them and sewed them together but there was now too much red to go with the blue and green so I went back to the drawing board.

make lots of sets and sub cut all at once. saves time!
My EQ7 program really got a work out this morning as I refigured the layout of the quilt. I settled on making the chain blocks from red and cream 4 patches. I will set 5 of them into a 9 patch using cream squares to separate them, and the chain will still be red but not so overpowering.

Even with all the stars I barely made a dent in the half square bonus box.  I am not even making a noticeable dent in my red and cream bags of strips as I create the four patch blocks.  

red and cream bags of 1 1/2" strips
I still need to round up the cream background to make squares to set the red and cream four patches together, but I have a handle on what I want to do now.  

How I remember things (grin)
The little cutie red and cream squares are being worked up in sets of 10.  I need 250 units to make up 50 blocks my pattern requires.  I have 40 units done.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Emily's Project

When the girls were young they spent their summer vacations here and we played between my quilting jobs.  As children interested in what any adult is doing, they wanted to learn to sew.  I taught several young ones how to make quilts and Emily and Laura were quick learners.

By the tender age of 6 Emily was seated at a sewing machine with the pedal on a stool so she could reach it.  Laura followed the summer after with the same setup. 

By age 7 both girls had sewn at least 3 quilts each and when they got tall enough I let them quilt the quilts they made on my longarm.

I do a lot of charity quilts and often they ask to quilt and a charity quilt goes on the frame and they feel good doing a good deed for someone in need.

Emily is a senior now and one of her classes is community service oriented.  She visits an elementary school two times a week during her school day and she helps the teacher with 2nd graders.  

The youngsters think she is an old lady and she enjoys helping them.  Talking with her about her experiences is very enlightening.  She fields difficult questions at times and answers them with maturity and wisdom.

She took my book of 1000 quilt blocks in to them one day with the idea of showing them the varied types of quilt blocks and is having each child in the class design their own block.  Emily has taken on a huge task of building the blocks each child designs and will turn all of the blocks into a quilt.  I’m not quite sure what will become of the quilt after she is finished but she tells them about making quilts for charity.  I think this may go into the charity pile.  

The blocks on paper are colored in by each child who designs it.  Emily asked me recently how she should go about resizing the ones that won’t fit nicely into her 9” block scheme when they are specifically 8” as drawn.  We solved that by her adding a border to the finished block.

She spent this past weekend building the first 4 blocks of the 23 that she expects from her students.  One in particular is very intricate and the finished block is quite stunning.  She spent the entire weekend sewing the four blocks pictured, saving the hardest for last.  I’m very impressed with the precision she has achieved on this very noble project she has undertaken.

We talked about how to make the different units and I explained how much extra fabric it takes for a half square triangle block and the hour glass blocks.  She went away with her verbal instructions and came back with 4 very beautiful blocks.  

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Resolutions part II

It is August 30th and I have not finished as many of my tops in the tub and the cupboard as I had hoped, but I am making a dent in my stash.  

The Rest of Bill's White Shirt

I have pieced a few tops and quilted a lot of customer quilts. 

Detail of Line Dancing I use on the little crib quilts

My vacations every quarter have not included much of my own quilting.  I did 3 in March but I did none in June.  I have a week off coming up in September but I think I might be up to my armpits in alligators and the bathroom redo upstairs should be in progress if the mid -September start happens as promised. Mid to late July got backed to September because of the weather slowing the crew down on the job before mine.

I have almost finished sewing the bindings down on my pile of quilts and I thought I’d get the girls to help me hang them on the port-a-stand so I could get pictures of them to post. I have one left to sew the binding down and I will have to motivate myself to start quilting something of my own again for continued hand work in the evenings.

Red and Blue Big Block Log Cabin Queen size

The first quilt I pieced this summer was the red and blue queen sized log cabin.  This big block pattern has captured my attention and I have made 5 so far.  #4 is the R&B one and I also got crazy and cut tumblers out of reds, white/creams, and blue from fabric that finds its way into my house and made the backing from the tumblers. 

Tumbler backing for Red and Blue BBLC #4

I was delighted with the outcome so I forged ahead and cut out a green and brown pile of tumblers and sewed big block log cabins from my green and brown bags of 2” strips.  I found when I did the R&B one that the little log cabins I did for the border didn’t work out as well as I had hoped because the short sides of the quilt used an uneven count of blocks and the little log cabins wouldn’t pattern out properly for me. I put a plain block on each short end to solve my dilemma.

Green and Brown Big Block Log Cabin Queen size
On the green and brown big block log cabin, I made the small block border into Court House Step blocks and I was much happier with my results.  The tumbler backing on it is stunning and the border fabric I found in my stash was a perfect blend of the correct brown covered with little squares of color that were in the quilt blocks.  It was serendipitous to say the least.

Tumbler backing for BBLC #5

The twin quilts are from my box of bricks and my box of 5 inch squares.  These will find their way to new homes in the next run to the quilt shop to drop them off. It seems there is always a disaster or a person who could use some TLC and a quilt hopefully conveys the thought that someone “out there” is thinking of someone for a moment in time.

Brick sidewalk tile design Twin

I still have at least 2 dozen crib quilts in my tub of tops my sister made for me several years ago (she did about 250 tops for me from 5” squares) that await quilting and then I think I will be done being charitable for a while.  

5 inch squares Twin

I will need to think up a new quilting resolution for 2016 that involves getting the fabric out of here before I can’t see the door anymore.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

And That is a Wrap!

I am working on a custom quilt this week.  I scheduled 6 days for it but by Friday I was thinking I’d better work on it Saturday so I won’t be overwhelmed on Monday.  I’m glad I made that executive decision.  This quilt is just a bunch of blocks, but there sure is a lot of quilting on it. 


I have never made a quilt like this, many of the small blocks are the same size, but there are various sizes up to at least 36” square for a single block.  I think my brain would have been on overload trying to work out the logistics of assembly.

The quilting could have been daunting as well, but I asked my client just what exactly did she have in mind.  She told me the inspiration quilt for this project  was done in modern quilting.  She did not like the quilting on that. I did breathe a huge sigh of relief, as I’m capable of doing straight line quilting, but I don’t think my inaccuracies would have been unnoticed in this quilt with only plain fabric.  There is no pattern on the cloth that would detract from a wobble in a straight line!

My favorite block is this yellow and white one.

It was still a study in patterning for me, though; mixing stencils with feathers and some back fill.  The quilt itself lends itself to a creative mindset and it has been a wonderful challenge to mix it up and make it beautiful.  It was already beautiful; perfectly pieced.  There is not one point that is lost or cut off.  This woman is a master sewer.

Decades ago I amused myself with drawing.  I favored pen and ink.  Looking back at the self-taught artistry, I realized that medium lent itself to no fixing mistakes.  So I either didn’t make any, or I found creative ways to overcome them. This realization of what I choose to do to amuse myself makes me see I set pretty lofty goals for satisfaction.  I am pleased with the outcome of this quilt.

As I mused over the progress I kept thinking of the drawing and how hard it was to know when a picture was finished. It's all about balance. I knew then, as I am aware again, there is a time to stop with the process, as you can do too much.  It is a fine line to know when you need a little more, or when it is just right.  I hope she is pleased.  I love how it turned out.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Happy Birthday Tom

Today was a special milestone for Tom, he turned 70.  I tried to tell him he was going to be 80 a couple of days ago, but he was slick enough to catch my error.  Thank goodness for that, it means I’m younger, too!

We went for a day trip today for a fun birthday kind of day and did some things we both enjoy doing together.  One of my favorite quilt shows is in Coshocton, Ohio each year.  It isn’t a big show by any means, but I try to go each year because there is usually something special going on that always makes it worth the 2 hour drive there and back again.  I have gone with several different people over the years, and the show has been held in a few different venues.

Last year and this year (and possibly a year or two I missed the date for one reason or another) the show has been held in a church in town, right across from the town square.  Something fair like is going on in the square at the same time and the street gets blocked off and it’s hard to find the entrance to the church parking lot, but there is always plenty of parking and the church is a nice venue. 

You get to wander through almost the entire church and you get to see lots of beautiful things.

The special display this year took my breath away.  Walking into the chapel, the pews were covered with an amazing collection of antique quilts.  I was so taken by the display I forgot to read the labels.  Tom was talking to one of the white glove ladies and she explained that many of the quilts were made by “unknown maker” because they had no identifying label.  I took lots of pictures and tried to get close ups of the ones that spoke the loudest to me.

After we exhausted ourselves looking at the quilts we decided to walk the square and see what was going on.  When we had pulled into town, we stopped to ask directions of a couple of ladies waiting to set up their booth.  The place we wanted to be was on the other side of the blockade and we had to figure out how to get around it.  The ladies had 3 goats in the truck.  One goat was in the front seat and 2 in the back of the truck bed. It was the goats we went looking for, but alas, we did not find them on the square.  (Of course I did not think to take a picture of the goats in the truck.) The heat was oppressive and the street fair was full of children getting faces painted and singers on the square; it was noisy and we figured the best thing was to work our way back to our parked truck.  We drove around town looking at all the business that Tom used to deliver product to in the good old days.  Most of the businesses are no longer in business!  The town is quaint.  The houses are magnificent Victorian mansions in various states of disrepair.  A whole lot of them need TLC.

We wandered the back roads to the freeway and came home.  It was much greener in that part of Ohio and we could see a marked difference in the lushness of the trees about the time we crossed into the county just to the south of us.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tidying Up

I have been busy these past few months on various projects.  The chaos needs tamed and the clutter needs to be attacked and organized again. Yes, again.

I have this zipper bag full of bonus half square triangles that I have gotten from various projects I worked on in the past 18 months.  

It is amazing how many bonus half squares you can get just from one quilt!  I did two with lots of rectangles that had squares sewn at an angle on each end of the rectangle and I think I had over a thousand bonus HST’s from each.

I am currently working on another project making more bonus HST’s and I decided to trim and sew them as I do each block so I don’t end up with the plastic bag full of “stuff to do.” It just won’t go away by itself. The current project is Bonnie Hunter’s Boxy Stars. A free pattern on her website.

I didn’t have the energy to do pressing it was going to take to empty this bag and today I decided I just needed to get it done. 

Now I have a very full box of bonus half square triangles and I need to find another project to use them in.

I used a lot of them in the Stars over Challotte quilt I found in a Bonnie Hunter book.

I liked the zig zag of the setting triangles.  The dark fabric really lets the stars shine.

I also figured out how to make a bear paw block using the half squares as well and that is a pleasing manly quilt. I found the perfect fabric in my stash for the large square and had fun matching the four I needed for each paw.

I’m sure the mess will never go away but I feel better knowing I no longer have that bag of unpressed triangles looking at me.

I’m going to go outside and enjoy this perfect summer evening.