Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Finish--Shocking but True!

Well, finally I am finished with my heart quilt. I refuse to go back in my blog and see when I started it. It underwent many changes as I worked on it, going from a rail fence to a heart, then a heart with a red center. I also did my first long-arming on this quilt. Had to rip some out because I had railroad tracks on the back, then do my own FMQ on my domestic machine. I think it looks fine after washing though. So, I guess you can say this is my first true, not practice, FMQ.

Today was the first sunny day in awhile, but a cold, cold wind was blowing as we took these photos.

Tallulah came over to investigate...actually to see Yud who is just to the left of this photo, but I couldn't resist including this photo even though the wind was really not helping me with my photo. If you ever meet my husband, don't tell him you saw his bald spot. He is trying to pretend it doesn't exist.

In this photo of the back, you can really see how the wind was blowing and more of the bald spot. :-)

Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 Finish Along

Adrianne at On the Windy Side is hosting the 2015 Finish Along and I am excited! You link your WIPs to the quarterly linky party and then link back to your finished projects at the end of the quarter. I am hoping this forces me to finish some really old WIPs, including a Christmas wall hanging I did in one of the first classes I took after I got my sewing machine.

All the details are available on Adrianne's blog linked above. Prizes are along involved, so link up those WIPs.

Below are the three projects I hope plan to finish in the first quarter. Two baby quilts. There is actually a third I need to do, but I don't have fabrics pulled yet.

I don't have a pattern here, but I am doing half-square triangles in a diamond pattern. Hope that is enough information for the Finish Along.

The upside down Christmas quilt. OMG...the mistakes I see on this quilt. I have actually enjoyed getting it out again because I can actually see how much I have learned about quilting in two years. And how much my style has changed.

I may have more projects to add before January 7th because several are "in the works," but they are not complete enough to include here yet. One is pulled with a pattern, but I am not feeling that quilt today, so don't really think I would complete it during the first quarter, so I am leaving it off.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate Christmas! From my family to yours....

Debby and Dolph
A short trip to Yellowstone before Christmas

Tallulah, Yud, Jaspyrr, Mandu, Willow, and Honeynut

Willow (bottom left) is my quilting buddy. She never leaves my side when I am quilting, often sleeping off to the side gently snoring away. Shhh...don't tell the others...but she is my BCF (best cat forever).

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mondrian Riff Mini-Quilt Tutorial

I am not quite sure this is a tutorial. I think it is more of a "this is how I did it" explanation. If you have questions, just let me know.

This is an easy quilt, so beginners who know how to rotary cut and sew 1/4" seams will have no problems with this quilt, especially if you like to stitch in the ditch. If you do not know how to stitch in the ditch, check out this video from Quilty with Mary Fons. Of course, depending upon your color selection and patience with burying threads, you might choose to do another type of stitching when you are ready to quilt your pieced top.

I used a design-as-you go approach for this design, starting with color selection - bright, bold solid colors. I went with red, yellow, orange, blue, and green to begin.

Use your design wall or a dining room table and start by laying out two1.5 inch black strips. Size doesn't matter at this stage. Choose something bigger than your expected finished quilt top. I chose strips that were  1.5 x. 27.5 and 1.5 x 43.

I like asymmetrical, so started with the off-center cross below. My design wall is just a cheap plastic table cloth turned backwards and tacked to my sewing/office room wall so that the flannel backing is on top.

Now just start cutting your fabrics. I tend to choose 5", 4", and 2.5" strips because I can easily use the leftovers in other projects. When I get to a random spot that needs color, I measure the area I need filled and cut a strip to match.

 I also pull strips off the design wall and use them to measure for cutting too. This is where design-as-you-go really comes into its own. By putting the blue rectangle on top of the green I wanted to add, it was easy to see know where to cut the green.

Once I add a few pieces, I back up, take a photo and decide if I like the pattern or if I need to change something.

For me, this is too square and does not have any white. I may need another black strip somewhere too. So off to cut some white strips/blocks and we will see what we have. I think I am going to build this "sideways" and then turn it later. I am going to add more rows/strips to the left of the long vertical black strip.

Still a little square, but more white. I also do not like the white strips that are parallel to each other in the same locations.

This is the rectangle I am looking for, so I am pleased with that. I have one more piece to add in (see the design wall peaking through under the lavender). I think I want another red piece or even a random different color. If I go red, I am probably going to have to move a few pieces around to make that work.

Notice that I do not care about the uneven ends. They will be easy to even up with I am finished sewing the sections - the areas between the black strips - together.

Piecing is easy. Just section off the areas around the black stripes and use a 1/4" seam. Once you have a set either horizontally or vertically completed, you can begin to add in the black stripes. On this mini-quilt, I added the strips horizontally first, then cut so that I could add the longer vertical strip.

I just used gray on the back (Kona Pewter) and used straight line quilting to quilt. Quilting is still my weakest area. My goal for 2015 is to improve my quilting and become less afraid of FMQ.

Because I was in a rush to finish my Secret Santa gift (and this was it), I have no photos of the back of the quilt. I do have one with the binding. I used a 2.5" black double fold binding and machine stitched it. For machine stitching, stitch the binding to the back first, then fold over and iron and stitch close to the edge on the front. 

The only finished photo I have is from our guild Secret Santa swap and is not great, but at least you can see it with binding and after washing/drying. Using color catchers in the wash meant I had no problems with the bright colors bleeding at all!

If you look back at the design I decided would work, you will see that this is different. I also think I have the colors of the Irish/Ivory Coast flags in the top right corner. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mondrian Riff Mini-Quilt/Wall Hanging

So, if you know Piet Mondrian's work (above) and you quilt, you have likely had the same idea - ohhh, I could make a quilt like that. This weekend, after thinking about it for awhile, I decided to give it a try. Below is my first attempt. 

I chose colors and then created the design on my design wall (a reversed plastic table cloth). I like it a lot, but learned one VERY important lesson. Do NOT, I repeat do NOT steam press a light-colored square without first removing all the black thread remnants. I do not pre-wash my fabrics and the black just melded with the yellow in one tiny, irritating spot. ARRGGHHH!!

I was making this as a Christmas swap gift, so back to the drawing board. The tiny black dot that would not bother me if I were making this for myself is just too irksome as a swap gift.

I am making a tutorial for my next Mondrian. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Porter Flea Market - Nashville

I am going to my first pop-up Modern Handmade Market tomorrow - the Porter Flea Market. It should be really, really good. It is a juried show with multiple vendors, including some sewists. Craft South, Anna Maria Horner's company will be there. Oh Just Dandy looks really cool if you have babies who need Christmas presents. She has baby bibs and burp cloths made from Cotton & Steel fabrics!

Some of the items will be totally affordable - $8 for a Cotton & Steel baby bib. Other things will be beyond what I am willing to pay - e.g., small absolutely adorable earrings for $150. Everyone should be paid for their work, so I actually think $8 is too low and $150 acceptable for some, but not for me. Both vendors likely know their markets, so I guess the prices are fair for them. How do you decide on a price?

I have had two people ask me to make quilts for them. Both have said they will pay for the quilts. I declined both offers because how do you charge a fair price for your labor, the material, and your creativity? I agree with Sam Hunter and her We are $ew Worth It post. However, I do not feel that I am up to Sam Hunter's level of creativity and skill. So, what would I charge?

The local guild members here say 7 cents a square inch is the going rate - that is $400 for a twin-sized quilt. Whoa! Hmmmm. I do not think my quilting is up to a $400 level. I may get there, but for now I am just going to give my quilts away and enjoy the process.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Long Arm Quilting Experience

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I went back and used the long arm quilting machine (HQ Avante) at the LQS that rents them out. It was quite a different experience from having an instructor beside me all the time. From 10 paces on a fast horse, the quilt looks fine (if you don't look too hard at the bottom left corner).

Below are my mistakes. First the close-ups that show the funky quilting pattern and the wrinkles.

Now for the specifics: 
  1. Loaded machine backwards, despite instructions I wrote and photos I took during the lesson.
  2. Had a terrible time with the basting stitch designed to hold top of quilt in place, so I have some very wrinkled quilting near that basting stitch. I am going to assume that washing will make the quilt all wrinkly.
  3. Had a mess on the back of the quilt from a bobbin issue that I didn't see until I got the quilt off the machine. Thank the gods it was only a small part of the quilting. I had to rip that part out. Ripping out thread after you have quilted is TIME-CONSUMING!
  4. Shop did not have the color thread I needed, so used a color I am not that enthused about, but I am living with it.
  5. My quilting pattern is funky to say the least, but functional (see above photo). I was trying for waves and ended up with sort of waves and circles.
  6. Quilting when you are renting a machine is tiring. No time outs for tea or to think about what to do. Just quilt, quilt, quilt. I was dead tired at the end of the session - 4 hours to do a lap-sized quilt. It took so long because I had to wait to get help because I kept making mistakes. LOL.
  7. I have decided to quilt the red section in red, so I am in the process ripping out thread because the contrasting color just looks tacky. While quilting I thought I needed to do red, but then thought, but I will never finish it, so went back and quilted it in same color as the rest. Big mistake! You can really see the funky quilting pattern here. Looks horrific. The other is somewhat hidden because of the thread color.
Will I rent the machine again?
Probably. I would prefer to have my own midsize quilter, like an HQ 16. However, that is unlikely to happen anytime soon because of cost and space, so I am going to have to get better at free motion quilting without a stitch regulator or get creative with straight line stitching.

Lessons Learned
  1. Use thread color that matches. 
  2. Don't try new patterns on a quilt you are giving to someone :-).
  3. Take matching thread with you.
  4. Take a quilt to practice on that you will keep and abuse.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Baby Vests

Our quilting guild (Music City Modern Quilt Guild) makes vests for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital twice a year. This year we brought some home to work on after our sewathon a week ago Saturday.

On this cold, rainy Sunday I decided to work on some of the vests, despite the looming mass of presents to make/complete for Christmas. The vests are just so sweet that it is a pleasure to work on them. A friend at a baby in a NICU unit, and she would have enjoyed seeing her little one in a colorful vest.

It takes as long to turn the vests inside out as it does to sew them - the little shoulders are so tiny.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Silly Cat!

Willow update: She will sit on flannel, but not quilting cotton. Comfort over beauty. A cat after my own heart!

Silly Willow refused, absolutely refused, to sit on her new window seat cover today. Now, it could be because it is wicked cold outside for Tennessee and the air from the window is cold. It could also be that she is just picky. I vote for the latter.

So, I am going to make a her new cover in flannel with wool batting. This is one spoiled cat.


First, however, Tallulah gets her cat pad with wool batting. She sleeps in the basement because she attacks Jaspyrr, and it is a little chilly down there. No worries though, she has her own little house that is also covered with blankets. The cats have us trained!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thermal Cat Pads for this Cold, Cold Winter

It is too cold for November in Tennessee. I am freezing; my cats are freezing. So...I decided I could do something for the cats. Thinking about how to make something that would keep them warm and was not electric, I remembered the mylar rescue blankets I had seen used in the Alps while I was living in Switzerland--light weight and heat reflecting. Suddenly a light bulb went off. I have hoarded  collected various quilting supplies as I was figuring out what I wanted to do with quilting. At one point, in a fit of insanity during a Joann's sale about a year ago, I bought way too much Insul-Bright. I thought I was going to make oven mitts. That never happened. Insul-Bright is also heat reflecting and, best of all, quiltable! Yes! 

So today, when I realized that I had to leave the ugly cat window seat as I was rearranging my quilting space from an office with quilting to quilting room with a laptop, I though AH HA - now is the time to test the thermal cat pad.  

Below is the UGLY and DIRTY cat window seat that Willow loves. I swear to you I vacuum it, but the cover, due to installer (me) error, is not removable. 

To make the thermal cover, I pieced together some Christmas charms I won at my quilt guild meeting  yesterday. Added the batting and just quilted the middle part--two rows of charms--(with fabric that is not my favorite as the backing with Insul-Bright as the batting). Found a baby crib tutorial on YouTube, cut 2 1/2 inch corner pieces out of the sides to made it rounded--watch the tutorial--it will make sense then, sewed a channel, added elastic and VOILA!--non-electric thermal cat pad.

I used it to practice free motion quilting. The cats won't care. Here is the back - the Insul-Bright is under the quilted part.

The front before putting over the old dirty cat bed. Yes, I know the dirt is just hidden, but it looks so much nicer.

In the interests of full disclosure, Willow refuses to sit on the thermal cat pad. She just doesn't know how warm it will be. She is upset by the entire furniture-moving-around day, so I will see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Quilting Help - Worried about Back to Front Mood Conflict

Below are photos of my IB front (soft, sweet, bird-filled) and back (vibrant, slightly chaotic). The moods strike me as really, really off. Plus the birds on the front are more orange-red and the red on the back is definitely a blue-red.

Do I save this back for another quilt? Don't want to, but I am afraid I am going to have to.

P.S. I also need to get better with photos. The last ones have looked blurry to me.

Quilt Guilds & Sewing Circles

I have to no one photos to share, thanks to quilt guilds and the PMS sewing circle. I LOVE being around other people who enjoy quilting. They help with fabric selection and tricky bits you are working on.

Ignore the triangles to the side...I just have to square it up.

I should have done this sooner. I joined the Music City Modern Quilt Guild last month and went to my first meeting. Great people, beautiful quilts. The blog is not very current, but you can check out their page on Facebook too.

I went to my first PMS meeting at The Quilting Squares Quilt Shop in Franklin, TN. Lovely people and lots of help on my triangle quilt. I finished putting it together and got most of the back pieced, until I realized that I had sewn long ends on opposite sites. Kay ripped it out in a heartbeat, so all I have to do is sew another straight line and I am done! I would have NEVER gotten that much done at home - too many distractions. Really nice to sew with other quilters.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Moving Right Along!

Finished up a mug rug for the Two for Teal 2014 swap for ovarian cancer. Was great to participate at least in a small way for such a worthy cause. Hope my partner likes her mug rug.

Also working on my quilt for Rachel of Stitched in Color's Angled Camp. Still have to cut some more rows. I am slow because I keep changing fabrics. I have NEVER been able to choose fabrics and stick with those fabric choices. Ah well...that is part of the fun of quilting. I love, love, love the Charley Harper fabrics from Fabric Worm. Great store if you live in California. For those of us who don't, fabulous online store also!

And finally Textile Fabrics in Nashville is having their big Fall sale - 40% off all fabrics and 70% off sale fabrics. You cannot get better than that. Sad that I cannot go on Monday, which is the first day of the sale, but Tuesday will definitely include a visit!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Memorial Quilt Delivered

Memorial quilt - quilted, washed, delivered. I promised my father I would not post his photo online. He did not quite believe me, so would only show lower the quilt to his eyebrows. I think he would approve of this photo.

The quilt is in honor of my mother who died in a house fire on February 1 this year. If you follow my blog, you have seen the quilt in progress. My mother and I picked out the fabrics and pattern during Christmas 2013, so after the fire I continued with the quilt to give it to my father. I love my quilts soft, so didn't quilt this one heavily at all.

I love the quilt and every time I see it I am reminded of our last Christmas together--happy thoughts, not sad.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Kaffe Fassett Nine Patch Beginnings + Charley Harper Fabric

Heart quilt pieced; not ready to quilt. So, I started a nine patch with some Kaffe Fassett fabrics that have been waiting for me to use them. My first block may be slightly insane, but I think I am going to like it once I can mix and match blocks. I've added in some other fabrics for variety - don't think Kaffe would like that, but I just couldn't resist. The white is just my design wall (the back of a cheap plastic tablecloth tacked to the wall.

I love, love, love my Charley Harper fabrics (Birch Fabrics Organic) from Fabricworm. I had a fabric meltdown and bought way too much of it. However, I've been looking at the fabrics for a year and finally decided to buy some before I can't find this line anymore. I may use this to make the Indian Blanket quilt from the ::Angled:: camp. There is also a wall hanging in the latest Modern Patchwork magazine (Summer 2014) that would look good with these fabrics. Hmmmm.

Heart Quilt Photo

So here is the front of the heart quilt finally pieced. I have to say that it was sort of a pain to make the seams match, but at least after all of this I am getting better at it. The last three long rows I had to glue AND pin. The blue squares are from a chain-pieced jelly roll. I was going to just make a random square quilt of the blues in 10-inch squares, but my husband said it was "not the best quilt you have ever made," so I changed to the heart, which I like much better. This is a gift for friends who recently got married. I'm late with my gift - per norm if it is a quilt.

I pieced it in squares and then sewed the squares together. The final seams were the long vertical ones - with pinning and glue basting. Took me awhile to match seams.

Here is Jaspyrr who watched the entire photo shoot with absolute distain! Love my Jaspyrr. Yes, we know the deck needs to be stained again. It is just too hot to do it right now.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Heart wants what the Heart wants!

Well, piecing off and on all day. Ripping out seams, re-gluing seams, having a good sewing day. The front of my Heart quilt is finally done. I will post a photo tomorrow when day comes again.

Now, the question becomes do I have enough time to quilt it before the ::Angled:: Camp begins. Answer: No! All of my sewing has to be finished by Wednesday evening. I am hoping (fingers crossed) to get the back done before then.

My husband and I are headed to Arkansas to consult with my dad on final choices on the house that is being rebuilt. If you go back far enough on the blog, you will see that we had a major tragedy in February and rebuilding the house in Arkansas for my dad has consumed a lot of my time and energy. I have even started meditating, which I really enjoy, to help with the stress of it all. The stress is now more bearable.

It also really helps that the house is coming along, so now decisions about color, bathroom fixtures, curtains, granite all come pouring in. I am overwhelmed by choice. Just looking at bathroom mirrors today threw me into a tizzy. It doesn't help that we are 7 hours away. My dad, who is 82, cannot make all the decisions alone.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Quilting Road Trip!

I'm off, I'm off, I'm off on a quilting road trip that include Spool - the home of the Bad Ass Quilters Society! I've been wanting to go there for ages! My fabric budget is limited right now, but no doubt I will end up with some fabric from Spool.

If we feel up to it, my friend and I will continue on to Ikea in Atlanta (another 2 1/2 hours away). If we do that, we will be on the road for about 11 hours and I am not quite sure we are up for that. I don't mind driving, but at some point, you have to say enough is enough. Spool and a look around Chattanooga may suffice for this trip. It is only 2 hours away.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Well, these mug rugs count as finishes even though they are really small. This is the final installment of prizes for my summer class, so now back to my heart quilt. At least I have cut out the remaining 20 gray squares, so I plan to finish piecing it this week.

I used the mug rugs to practice blocks I had never made before and they aren't bad. I must be getting better. I still follow the ten paces rule though - if you don't see the mistake at ten paces, carry on without a seam ripper. I also got slightly more creative with my quilting, at least on the two teal rugs. Before all I would do is quilt straight lines that were quite far apart. Quilting has been difficult on larger quilts with my small harp space, but I have a Juki now, so I am hoping that quilting will soon be the icing on the cupcake instead of the burned bits on the bottom of the pan.

I am still having trouble cutting text fabrics so they don't look wonky. I swear the one I tried to be straight on, even cutting part off, looks worse than the one I just cut. Hmmm...maybe there is a trick I don't know yet.

Ah well, now to see if I can manage to stitch a few gray squares together before bedtime.