Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The parts are complete!

Now all I have to do is sew together the last three rows of blocks and the last four rows of sashing. I couldn't get a picture of the entire quilt on my design wall because I kept running into the cutting table. It's a good thing this isn't larger - it fills every square inch of my design wall. I moved the big board and iron into the hall last Saturday so I could use the entire wall. I think Fred will be very glad to have them back in the room where they belong!

As you can see I didn't begin to use up my red and white fabrics. The first picture shows the stack I started with and the second picture shows what is left. Once I get the top together I'll contemplate border treatments. I may decide to add a half-square triangle square inner border, which would use a bit more fabric. I certainly have enough red to piece a back! What I'm pretty sure I don't have is a fabric for the last wide border. A shopping trip may be in order once I finish stitching the center together!

I never intended to finish this top so quickly - I thought I'd just make a few blocks here and there. Instead I got wrapped up in the project and couldn't stop. It will be nice to get back to my other projects - Dear Jane, the Civil War Diaries quilts, and all those UFO's.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Red and white progress

I've sewn 41 red and white blocks. 40 of them have been sewn into the first five rows of the quilt. There will be eight rows total so I need to sew 23 more blocks. I'm hoping that I can cut those out today and finish stitching them together tomorrow. I'm eager to cut out the last two border appliqués for "It's a Wonderful Life", but can't do that until I get all the red and white fabrics off my cutting table LOL!

1. Good results from the cortisone shot in my knee
2. Front flowerbeds edged nicely and free of weeds
3. Iris blooming everywhere
4. Retirement!
5. A second granddaughter on the way!

Good morning!

I can't believe it's been over a week since I last posted. Where does the time go? Seems like there just wasn't much of anything to talk about. Seven days of baby sitting in a row really emphasized why God gives children to young people! I've not mentioned that I've been having trouble with my left knee since the end of March - both arthritis and bursitis - and the knee took a real beating chasing babies for a week straight. I wasn't able to walk without a limp, and had trouble sleeping due to the pain in spite of taking Ibuprofen several times a day. Wednesday morning I got a cortisone shot in that knee, which gave me relief almost immediately. There is still some pain now - I've probably been on it too much since the shot - but it is much better.

Not much to report in the way of quilting. I'm still working on the red and white quilt, sewing blocks and sashing together, so it isn't enough progress to justify posting a new picture. I have been doing some appliqué also, and that I can show you.
It's been over a year since I last worked on "It's a Wonderful Life" - Jan Patek's Girl Gang quilt for 2006-2007. It was almost finished - all I needed to do was appliqué the borders. I started cutting out the winter border for the bottom right corner, and decided I didn't like Jan's design. I got discouraged and just put it away. As it's one of the few unfinished tops remaining on my list I decided to get it out and finish it. I started with the spring border in the upper left corner, then moved on to the three stars that comprise the summer border. Unfortunately, while I was sitting in the recliner stitching away watching the Mariners lose yet another game I caught the quilt in the chair and ripped a small hole in it right below the stars. Thank goodness it is a primitive quilt! Apparently I've used the last of the gold and cream plaid when making this house block, so I had to patch it with something else. It's impossible to tell in the picture, but the patch is a narrow stripe of gold and cream. It looks a bit odd now, but should be more or less unnoticeable when the quilt is quilted. I said a few choice words when I discovered the tear, but I'm over the shock now.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I'm still here

Just a quick note to let everyone know I've not disappeared. This has turned into a very busy week with no time at home and no time for quilting. Due to an unfortunate attack of the flu at Joseph's others grandparents' house - hope you feel better soon, Katelin! - I've been a full-time baby sitter all week. I'd planned to go to Quilt Market in Portland tomorrow but I guess it's just as well I can't. Since I'm not a shop owner I couldn't have done any buying anyway!

I am getting some appliqué done on a UFO during nap time but that's about it. Of course I'm loving every minute with Joseph - we are having a lot of fun. And Sophie will be with us all weekend - really looking forward to that!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Almost halfway there

I've finished 28 red and white blocks. I've decided I need to make 64 blocks, which should give me a quilt just under 100" square. My husband's only comment is "it's bright". He needs to get used to it, because this will be on our bed at least a month or two each year. It will certainly be perfect for February, don't you think? As you can see, I've run out of room on my design wall. I need to start sewing blocks and sashings together in order to fit an eighth row down the right side. So far I've pretty much flung the blocks and sashing strips up willy-nilly. I think it's time for some serious arranging so I can sew these together before I make more. I've used about 75% of my fabrics so far - the second picture shows the "used" pile. The third picture is of the fabrics I've not yet used. It's looking very much like I'll have red and white fabrics left over - time for a scrappy back ala Bonnie I think!

I've not shown any grandchild pictures for awhile, so on this Mothers' Day I'll post new pictures of Joseph and Sophie. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday today with their mothers, their children, or both.

1. Showers of pink cherry blossoms blowing in the wind
2. Wonderful memories of my mother
3. Brunch out with my husband

Friday, May 9, 2008


I managed to make four more blocks today in between a doctor appointment and running some errands. I wanted to make enough blocks so I could start playing with settings. The barn raising setting required that I make some three-quarter triangle squares for the sashing cornerstones where there is a bend in the light-dark pattern. Once I figured out that was what was needed it was pretty easy to make the required parts. I think I'm going to really like this arrangement - no surprise, as this has always been one of my favorite log cabin arrangements also. Hopefully I can make a few more blocks this evening. The Mariners are playing so badly that it sure isn't worthwhile sitting in front of the TV. I can listen to them lose on the radio just fine.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A start

I finished only eight blocks today - but I did take a few breaks so I guess that's a good start. I made them two at a time so I could them as leader-enders for each other. The first picture shows the blocks without sashing and the second with sashing. I cut sashing pieces at the same time I cut the block parts because I'm pretty sure I'm going to use sashing. I just like how it looks - it makes the pattern looks much more complicated. I'm partial to the barn raising set so that's probably how I'll arrange the blocks, but I'll play with other settings too before making a final decision. I have lots and lots of fabrics I've not yet used - I don't think that one dark fabric will stand out nearly so much in the final quilt as I have several more dark reds to use.

I like how this is looking!

I'm up for a challenge!

Of course, you will probably think I'm nuts - starting a new project when I have so many others in the works. I completely agree. But then that's what we quilters do, right? Nicole at Sister's Choice has issued a two-color quilt challenge. I felt I had to take up her challenge, because I've been collecting red and white fabrics for four years now - ever since I saw this basket quilt at our guild quilt show in 2004. The quilt was made by a very prolific member named Mary Jo, and since we had similar tastes I always loved every quilt she made. Originally I thought I'd do a basket quilt also, but have since realized that I can achieve the same visual impact with many different blocks, and thus needed to take my own red and white path.

I have been in love with the quilt on the cover of Marsha McCloskey's book On to Square Two ever since I bought it in 1992. I loved the way she split this simple star block into dark and light halves, thus creating a new block similar to a log cabin block - a block that could be set together in dozens of ways, each one different. I knew that I wanted to make these blocks someday. So when I accepted Nicole's challenge I immediately thought about this quilt and decided it would be perfect.

The blocks consist of both half-square and quarter-square triangle squares, so I thought this presented a great opportunity for a little tutorial. I love Marsha's method because it creates precise, perfect blocks. I know some people think this method is a lot of work, but I find it fast and easy just because everything goes together so perfectly. The measurements I list are for this particular block. The measurements vary depending on the size of the triangle squares being cut. A good rule of thumb is to make the second and third cut as far from the first cut as the size of the squares being cut. For example, if you are cutting 2 1/2" half square triangle squares then you would make the second and third cuts 2 1/2" on each side of the first cut. The size of your initial square varies also, depending on how many half square triangle squares you need from the specific two fabrics.

Place a dark and a light right sides together, pressing to help them adhere together slightly while cutting. For this block I cut a nine inch square.

Cut the square diagonally from corner to corner. Separate triangles slightly and cut each triangle again 3 1/2" away from the first cut.

Sew the strips together, alternating light and dark. Sew the remaining small triangles together. Press to the dark side.

For this block I need four, 3 7/8" half-square triangle squares. I cut these first from the "strata". I also need three, 3 1/2" square triangle squares. I cut one from each of the small squares and a third from the remaining piece of the larger strata.

To make the four quarter-square triangle squares I match pairs of 3 7/8" half-square triangle squares together, alternating light and dark. Since all the seams were pressed to the dark the square "nestle" together very nicely due to opposing seams. I cut these diagonally, then stitch them back together with a scant 1/4" seam. (If you use a full 1/4" seam they will be slightly too small.) Press the seams to one side. This results in four perfect quarter square triangle squares - or hourglass blocks.

The resulting squares, along with one dark and one light 3 1/2" square make up the blocks. The rest of the construction is a simple nine patch construction. I press the final seams open to lessen bulk.

I love the way these blocks are turning out! I wonder how many more I can get done today?

1. Hot tea with milk
2. A fun day with my grandchildren
3. Sleeping in
4. A happy ending to my daughter's mishap
5. Good health insurance

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What do you know!

Funny how writing the previous post helped me make decisions about this quilt. As soon as I finished the post I tossed all but five of the blocks into the garbage. I tucked the red oak leaf wreath in my basket for handwork, took the silver thread out of the peacock's tail, took the funny braid off the apple basket and the edge braid off the red and gold basket. I pulled out my basket of rolled up Baltimore patterns, found the appropriate patterns, matched them with the kept blocks and put them back into the drawer.

Then I started reading the comments being left on the post. Call me silly - but it never occurred to me to put the twelve finished blocks together into a quilt top. I my mind Baltimore album quilts are square, so I needed either sixteen blocks or twenty five blocks. I started thinking about the comments that had been left and realized that the quilt police would not come arrest me if I constructed a simple twelve block album top from the finished blocks. I pulled out the five blocks I had saved and took another look at them. And decided that I didn't want to spend my precious time finishing them when there are so many other projects I'd rather do. So I pulled out all the pins, took the needles off the thread, and tossed the remaining five blocks into the waste basket.

I had several possible border choices in my stash so I chose one and went to work. I trimmed the blocks to 15 1/2", sashed them with 1" strips, cut cornerstones from the edges of the tossed blocks, and sewed the top together. As I worked on this top I felt a marvelous sense of relief. My oldest UFO is now a finished top - one that I can use for practicing machine quilting on appliqué. The appliqué itself is far from perfect as these are the pieces I learned on, so it makes sense to learn new quilting patterns on the top.

Thanks to everyone who helped me work toward this decision. I couldn't possibly be happier!

Baltimore Blocks

Since I can't find the quilt top that I want to hand quilt I need to decide on my next appliqué project. I have several new projects that I could start, but with so many still unfinished that is NOT a good idea. I could prepare more blocks for my Mid-Century album quilt, but a little nagging voice in my head says "Why do that when you have a bunch of appliqué blocks that need to be finished?"

Of course the little voice is talking about my oldest UFO - the Baltimore Album Quilt - which I blogged about here. Next year it will be twenty years old. Surely it has aged sufficiently that it now deserves to be finished. Or at least turned into a finished top before it's twentieth birthday. Unfortunately I'm having a hard time drumming up interest in finishing it. I have completely finished twelve blocks for the quilt. The problem is that I have a bunch of partly finished blocks that need completion, and none of them really speak to me any more. Most of them were done in classes that I took - several from the queen of Baltimore album quilts herself - Elly Sienkiewicz. Elly is a delightful, creative lady, and I took the classes not because I was necessarily thrilled with the blocks but because it was so much fun to be in her classes. A couple of the blocks were started in classes with a former Tangled Thread member, and when I see them all I think about is her not so delightful personality and how glad we all were when she dropped out.

So, the big question is this - do I finish some or all of these blocks? Many are much more elaborate than the blocks I've already finished. One choice would be to finish four of the more elaborate blocks, which could go into the middle of a sixteen block quilt. The other blocks could be finished and put into a smaller wall hanging. Or I could make four entirely new blocks - simple ones that fit with the ones I've already finished - for a sixteen block quilt. I could toss some or all of these partially finished ones - which part of me wants to do, but the other part of me is horrified at the idea. I can't imagine tossing them in the garbage, but I'd happily toss them to another quilter who might actually finish them. What is a quilter to do?
So, without further ado, here is each block in turn, along with my thoughts. All pictures should be "clickable" in order to better see the details. Any thoughts or input would be appreciated. And if you would like one or more of the blocks that I want to toss off my hands just let me know. I'll happily send it off to you with my blessings!

This is an oak leaf and acorn wreath done in simple cutaway appliqué - easy to finish but rather boring. My plan was to do an ink sketch of our home in the center of the wreath. I'm sure I'll finish this one - it's probably the best choice for handwork at Tangled Threads meetings.

This peacock is also one that I will most likely finish. It was started in class with J__ and not touched after that. I know what I don't like - the silver metallic thread for the embroidery. If I take that out and choose a nice color of DMC then I should be able to finish this one without a problem.

I did this much of a block in another class with J__. We learned three dimensional roses and woven baskets. I really don't care for this block at all. I don't like the shape of the basket and I think the lower petals on the rose are out of proportion. I thought I'd tossed this in the garbage years ago, and was surprised to find it in the drawer. I really don't want anything more to do with this block.

This cutaway lyre wreath is completed except for a three dimensional ruched rose at its base. Note the block is now stained - I must have spilled tea on it when I was working on it. No point in finishing it unless the stains will come out. I have already cut all the strips for making the ruched rose. They are all fancy fabrics - satin, taffeta, rayon, etc. - fabrics I just don't ever use in my quilt making. It would be a beautiful block finished, but not at all my style. My impulse is to toss this one also.

Another peacock in a rose tree, also started in a class with J__. The three dimensional roses are pinned on and ready to appliqué. The peacock tail is fussy cut from an old paisley print. It will be beautiful when finished, but I think would look inappropriate in the quilt because most all the blocks are much simpler. I could finish this one and then use it for the center of a small wall hanging or a very elaborate pillow.

This is another lyre wreath started in a half-day class with Elly. At the moment I can't find the pattern and I have no memory of what the block is supposed to look like. Since I've completed very little of it my impulse is to toss this one also.

This apple basket is definitely "beyond Baltimore" - Elly's words about some of her more recent designs. It is an interesting block because of the three dimensional braids on the basket. One apple and some of the leaves are all that is actually stitched down. The braids and basket are just pinned into place because I really have no idea how to stitch them down. Just tacking them would be very insubstantial, but I think stitching them down tightly would take away from the three dimensional effect. I have no idea what I should do with this block other than toss the braids and finish the rest.

This last block is another of Elly's "beyond Baltimore" designs. The pattern for this one isn't in the drawer either, though I think I know where it is. The basket is interesting as it has that three dimensional braid across the top. It's not yet sewn down - I'm thinking maybe there are flower stems that I planned to tuck under it first. The thing is that I can't remember what is supposed to be in this basket. Maybe it's not flowers at all, but fruit instead. The leaves at the bottom of the basket also need to be stitched - as you can see those are done with cut away appliqué. This is another block that I just might finish - if I can find the pattern!

If you have stuck with me this long you now understand my quandary. After almost twenty years I need to decide once and for all what I'm going to do with this project. And sticking it back into the drawer for another five to ten years should not be an option!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My Choice

I chose to spend my day making Civil War Diaries blocks - sort of by default, actually. Since I'd chosen fabric for one block several days ago, and it was sitting on my cutting table, I decided to make at least a one blocks so I could put that fabric away. As it turned out I made three blocks, and they took me most all the day, so I didn't get anything else quilty accomplished. That's OK - it's not a race!

The first block is "Sad and Lonely Days" - easy because it's just half square triangle squares. I press the diagonal seam open on little squares like these as it makes the block lie flatter.

The second block is "Hateful Old Thieves". I paper pieced the center then rotary cut the rest of the block.
The last block is the first one in the book, "Alarming Conditions". Paper pieced and not at all fun. I had to take out a couple seams which made one of the foundations separate a bit so one of the points is off. I've decided it's good enough for me because I sure don't want to make this one again!

I did take time to run to Rebecca's and Rick's during Joseph's afternoon nap so Rebecca could help me tighten up the baby seat in our CRV. She also helped me figure out how to make some changes to my blog I've been wanting to make. I really like how it turned out!