Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tour de France . . . Fibre . . . Fleece . . . .

 How many of you watch the Tour de France?  It was four or five years ago that I first started watching so I could see the beautiful countryside as the riders "toured".  Much to my surprise I also got wrapped up in the race too, and have been watching it ever since.  If you watch, who is your favorite rider?

Then there is the Tour de Fleece.  Hosted on Ravelry, a fabulous website for knitters, crocheters and spinners, the Tour de Fleece provides many challenges for hand spinners, who make yarn while watching the race.  Last year I participated on 12 different Tour de Fleece teams and spun over 8 pounds of fiber while watching.  It was great fun!

Then there is the "Tour de Fibre", hosted by Hanne and May.  Their only requirement is a daily blog post, but the idea is to work on quilting projects while watching the tour.  Easy enough to do!

Yesterday's race was unusual to say the least, with a team bus getting stuck under the finish line banner  15 minutes before the race end, and a huge collision about 2 km before the finish line which took out the sprint favorites.  The first three days this year are on the island of Corsica - what an incredibly beautiful place!

I did a bit of cleaning and straightening in the sewing room while watching, but spent most of the day hand quilting a Jo's Little Women top I made earlier this year.  I can easily finish the center today, and hopefully by that time the border will have told me how it wants to be quilted.  I know I've said it before, but I just can't get over how very much I'm enjoying all this hand quilting.  And, thankfully, my hands are holding up well with no pain, even after several hours.  I should be able to finish most if not all the quilting today.

Thankfully, yesterday wasn't as muggy as the day before and the sewing room was relatively cool compared to much of the house.  Gave me a great excuse to spend the day there.  The forcast for the next few days has changed from the high 90's to the low 90's, also better. 

The recording of today's race has finished, so I think it's time to get back to quilting!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The best laid plans . . .

aren't going to happen - at least for now.  We are having a heat wave here in the Pacific Northwest, which is almost unheard of in June.  It comes with a humidity index far above normal.  Yesterday was 89 degrees, but with the humidity it felt at least 10 degrees higher.  By Monday and Tuesday we are predicted to hit 99 or even higher.  And we have no air conditioning.

All this means that work in the sewing room is almost at a standstill.  The last thing I want to do is turn on the iron.  It is amazing how quickly an iron can send the temperature in the room skyrocketing.  So much for the applique prep I planned to do.  So much for making binding.  At 10:30 last night it finally cooled off enough for me to tolerate fabric on my lap, so I started quilting another quilt.  Thursday night I finished quilting the fourth quilt this month, but binding will just have to wait, as it is 95 degrees upstairs in the room where my Pfaff and its walking foot live.

So, while I wait for the temperatures to revert to normal, I'll just post some pictures.  The first is the quilt I just finished quilting.  Instead of an all-over grid, I did a background grid with applique details quilted.  The curving quilting on the flag gives the illusion of movement.  I'm amazed how quickly I finished this.  The border quilting isn't white - I've not yet sponged off the chalk.

Visiting the three quilt shops in Bend, Oregon was a highlight of our camping trip last week.  I started my stash of batiks in anticipation of combining them with reproductions for the "Edyta Sitar" look.

I also purchased a nice selection of beautiful hand dyed Prescentia "Finca" threads, something I've wanted for some time.  I'm using them to hand quilt the small quilt started last night.

On Thursday I kept my friend Kim company on a trip north to "Momma Made It" - our favorite quilt shop in Longview Washington.  Of course I took advantage of the opportunity to fill a couple holes in my stash, and add to my growing batik collection.  Sharon, the owner, has added batiks to the reproduction fabrics that are the backbone of her shop offerings.  I can tell right now - it is going to be hard to keep track of what batiks I've already purchased so I don't duplicate any on future quilt shop trips.

I see a blue quilt in my future with either sashings or alternate setting squares of cheddar - I'm just not sure what quilt block I want to base it on.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Oh my goodness!

How the blog posts pile up when one is gone!  I have 482 posts to get through, so I probably won't be leaving many comments until I've caught up.  I can hardly wait to see what everyone has been doing while I've been gone!

Monday, June 24, 2013

We are home again

 On Wednesday morning we hitched the tent trailer to the Highlander and took off for a 5-day camping trip.  This time we  went to La Pine State Park - 27 miles south of Bend, Oregon, in the high desert.  This was our "anniversary trip" to celebrate 44 years of marriage.  When I made the reservations the extended weather forecast called for temperatures in the 70's, with the weather getting warmer each day.  Instead the temps were in the 60's with a cold wind blowing, and rain at night.  Finally on Saturday the skies cleared and the warm weather arrived, followed Saturday night and Sunday by rain.  We aren't having the best of luck weather-wise this year!

Nevertheless we had a great time.  We went into Bend on Friday for an anniversary dinner at Balthazar's Mexican Seafood Restaurant (no website).  We had one of the most fabulous eating out experiences we've had in a long time!  We went into town early enough that I was able to visit all three Bend quilt shops - fun!

I focused on big stitch quilting while there, and was able to finish another quilt top and start quilting a fourth.  It feels so good to be getting so much accomplished!  Once I finish quilting the fourth quilt - the one I'm doing now - I'll get them all bound.  I should be able to do that by the end of the month even if I don't accomplish anything else.

Angel Dance, designed by Jan Patek

 I'm feeling the desire to applique again, so I've tucked the featherweight into the bottom of its cabinet and put the table top into place on the top.  I hope to prep a bunch of applique this week  in addition to quilting and binding.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Quilting progress

Before I started playing with EQ7, I was cutting 30's prints for more baskets.  We tend to think of quilting as a sedentary activity, but when one is rotary cutting, piecing, and pressing, there is much getting up and down, prolonged standing, and walking back and forth between the machine and the pressing station.  My machine and pressing station are about 7 feet apart, and often the only exercise I get is walking back and forth during a marathon piecing session.

Wednesday afternoon I received cortisone shots in both knees for arthritis, which means I was to stay off my feet as much as possible for three days.  Once the three days are past I'm still supposed to eliminate any unnecessary walking and/or prolonged standing for 3-4 weeks.  In my mind that means I can't spend much time piecing or rotary cutting if I want the shots to have the best effect.

So, since Wednesday afternoon I've been hand quilting.  I've finished two tops, and am ready to start a third.  Here are pictures of what I've done.


For once the quilting shows up quite well in the pictures, especially when enlarged.  I'll wait a bit before binding them, as that will involve two or three trips up and down the stairs plus what at this time I'd call unnecessary walking and standing.  After all, I have quite a few more tops basted and ready for quilting.  That's what I'll be doing the next few days at least.

Whoops!  We are more than half way through the month and I've yet to write my report for "The Year of the Finished Project".  About time, don't you think?

I've done well this month so far - I've crossed 4 of 9 goals off my list.  Here are the rest of the things I expect to finish by June 30th.

1.  Finish knitting the Monkey Socks - one sock is halfway done

2.  Quilt, bind and label four small quilt tops - the quilting is finished on one and almost finished on a second.

3.  Finish 24, 30's basket blocks - partly rotary cut

4.  Complete first month's installment of Flower Basket - I should have time to do this.

Stretch goals?  Yes.  Can I get them done?  I should be able to - only time will tell.

Do you EQ?

I wanted Electric Quilt for years before I finally bought it.  Our computers were always Apple products, and an Apple version has never been written.  Finally, after our kids graduated from college, we switched to a PC and I got my wish.  That was EQ4 in the mid- to late-1990's.  Since then I've bought each upgrade.  However, I never managed to stop sewing long enough to learn how to use it.

When I started keeping this blog and making yearly quilting goals I decided to make mastering this software one of my goals for the year.  By then EQ6 was the latest version.  I followed through and started working with the program.  It was an invaluable resource when I started Civil War Diary and Civil War Love Letters, as it allowed me to print foundation papers for the blocks in the books.  However, I didn't use it to design quilts I actually made.

And then I started to knit.  And hand spin.  And quilting faded into the background of my life for almost three years.  I stopped using the software and forgot most of what I'd learned.

Now that I'm back to quilting, I decided to upgrade to the newest version.   It arrived in the mail about 10 days ago.  I sat down at the computer, loaded the software and started playing.  I discovered many lessons to help one learn, and many demonstration videos were included.  I immersed myself in learning.  And I'm still learning.  I've been having a great time, with only one problem.  Doing this gave me nothing to blog about.  Which is why I've been MIA.

And now you know the rest of the story.

I would love your comments telling me how you like to use this software.  Do you just play for inspiration, or do you design quilts that are eventually made?  If you design a quilt, do you  plan it down to the last detail by "coloring" it with the fabrics you will use?  Do you scan your own fabrics to use in the software?  What else do you do with it?  Curious minds want to know.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Design Wall Monday

It is still Sunday to me, as I've not yet gone to bed, but it is also 12:08 am.  So I figured I'm OK to post for "Design Wall Monday".  Judy at Patchwork Times hasn't put up her post so I'm not linked yet - I need to remember to do that on Monday.

Here is the part of my design wall that is "new".  Thirty 9-patch blocks made for swapping on our "30's Fabric Quilting" yahoo group.  Half are "X" blocks and half are "O" blocks, which when fit together make a checkerboard top.  I'm hoping by the time I receive blocks back I've figured out a different setting for the blocks - I'd like something a bit more unusual.  So far I've not been able to think of anything.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

June entry in "A Lovely Year of Finishes"

Here is the quilt top I've chosen to finish for June's entry into "A Lovely Year of Finishes".

Five Hearts, designed by Jan Patek

I've already started quilting this one - big stitch quilting using Cebelia crochet thread.  I shouldn't have any trouble finishing it - I hope!

Thank you!

Many sincere thanks to Julierose, Raewyn, Kelly, Teresa, Vivian, Grace, Regan, Annie, and Joanne, who took their precious time to consider my border options for Dulcinea and leave me a comment.  I so appreciate each one of you!  Your opinions really did help me make my final decision.

I played around a LOT more with the triangles and framing borders, and still couldn't come up with anything that appealed to me.  This afternoon I finally put all the half-square triangle squares into the 2 1/2" box and settled on the simplest border.  The original has a pieced border, and I was trying to come up with a different one using the fabric I had left.  We all know that sometimes simple is truly the best way to go, and I think that was the case with this quilt top.  After all, it was the border fabric that drew my attention to this fabric line to begin with.

It's always hard to show any detail in a picture of an entire top, so here is a close-up of the border for your viewing pleasure.

This is the fabric I fell in love with.  And despite looking to the contrary, there are NO solids in this top.  All but the narrow border and yellow background are prints from "Posh" by Chez Moi for Moda.  The background is a pale yellow pin dot, even though it looks like a solid.  Here are closeups of a few of the blocks.

Again, thanks to my nine commenters -- your input helped me make a decision that I really didn't want to make.  If it weren't for you I probably would still be playing with a pieced border that wasn't meant to be.

Scrap basket Sunday, a little bit early

Remember this basket?  This is what my scraps looked like when I started participating in Scrap Basket Sunday.

After making 99 blocks - 44 positive and 55 negative  . . .

the basket looked like this . . .

Doesn't look like I used any of it!  And this was just a week ago.  Now the basket looks like this . . .

I wish I could say that quilting fairies made the rest of my scraps into blocks while we slept.  If only that were true!  Instead, the contents of the basket met this . . .

And now they look like this . . .

Doesn't look like that much when it is pressed and laying flat, does it.  Over the years I've learned how deceptive a stack like this can look.  It will take many hours to cut this fabric into the squares and triangles required to make the necessary 165 more shoo fly blocks.  That will take several Sundays - probably into the middle of July!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Please - help me decide by leaving a comment. Thanks!

I should have known better - when I'm on a roll I can't drop a project just to use triangles as leader-enders.  So I sewed all my half-square triangle squares.  I had to use two background colors as I didn't have enough of either one for all the squares I needed.

Originally these were going to make a border directly outside the teal-turquoise border.  No matter how I placed the triangles it was just too busy.  Alternating the two backgrounds was too spotty.  I couldn't seem to make random work either.  And the number per side was 13, so they all had to go in the same direction.  So I've added another "coping border".  First the dark green, which was too dark, then the pink.  That gave me 14 squares per side, so I was able to arrange the triangles going outward from the center of each side.  The outside border was still way too busy next to the triangles so I added the green "stopper" there.

Now I think the border overwhelms the center.  and I still don't like the triangles with two different background colors.

Would it be better to just forget the triangles, toss them into the 2 1/2" triangle square box, and go with simple?  This border certainly doesn't overwhelm the center.  It is also very plain.  But maybe that's what I want, as I think the border on the pattern picture's quilt is too busy. The border is subdued due to the more lively center - I never thought I'd call this print subdued! - but maybe that's what the quilt needs.

What do you think? 

Do you like either of these better than the other?

Can you think of a different way to include the triangles in the border?

Thanks ahead of time for your input.

This is it . . . for now . . . .

My Dulcinea blocks are sewn together and the first border and cornerstones are attached.  That's all any of us - including myself - are going to see for the time being.  I'm using the pieces for the next border as my leaders and enders for the rest of the month.  I've got a general idea of how that border will look, but I won't work out the specifics until the pieces are finished.  I also have a back-up plan in case I hate how the first one looks.

This quilt is made from "Posh", a line by Chez Moi for Moda that came out quite a few years ago.  The inner border and the background are the only fabrics that aren't part of this collection.  Why I didn't buy yardage from the same collection for the border I don't know.  I imagine that yardage was probably not available for any of the fabrics I considered for this border.  It is a bit darker and not quite as bright, and now that I've sewn it together I think this makes a better "frame" than one of the collection pieces would have done.  As for the background, I was originally planning on white, but I'm running low on that and this pale yellow needed to be used.

Right now I have no idea what I'll work on next.  I have so many choices!  More piecing?  Some hand quilting?  A bit of applique (though no projects requiring applique are on my current "to do" list).  (As though I'll let that stop me if I decide that applique is what I really want to do!)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Some progress

I unexpectedly spent most of the day away from home - coffee with a friend, who suggested we make a trip to Fabric Depot.  So we did, spending almost two hours there!  A nice lunch together followed, and I made it home by 3:00.  Printed fabric and notions were both on sale, so I bought fabric for a sundress for each of my granddaughters, plus some needed quilting notions.  No quilt fabric was bought, though the scraps from the sundresses will go into the scrap box and will feel right at home.

So my plan to sew the June Schnibbles top didn't materialize, but I did finish 13 of the 16 blocks.  I like how they turned out, but in retrospect I wonder if I wouldn't have liked a white background better.  This will be fine - it is what it is - and I'll tuck this bit of "learning" into the quilty part of my brain where it will - hopefully! - not get lost.

9 of the 13 finished blocks

My plan for tomorrow is to finish the rest of the blocks, sew them together and then add the borders.  I don't have enough charm squares left to border the top as the pattern shows.  I'm fine with that because it seems a bit busy to me.  So I'm trying something else, and have a backup plan if that doesn't work.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Yes, I've been sewing.  That is no surprise.  However, "Sewing" is the name of the last block in row 3 of Civil War Diary.

3-11:  Sewing

I took a second picture so you could see how small the half square triangles are.  They measure between 5/8" and 3/4", but bigger than 11/16".  Just a thread or two under 3/4".  No way to sew those accurately except for paper piecing.  (I suppose one could use templates, but just trying to hold onto pieces that small would be a big challenge.)

I'm happy to report that I did NOT have to stand on my ironing table to put this row on the design wall.  Kneel, yes, but not stand. I could keep my head straight up without bumping into the ceiling.  I think I'll be able to pin the fourth row from the stool itself.  Much better!

3 rows - click on picture to see details
Now I'm putting this away until next month at the earliest.  I'll shoot for finishing another row in July.  Four of the eleven blocks needed for the next row are finished.

Now for the big question - what do I work on next?  I'm taking hand quilting to quilt group tonight, but what is the next project for the machine.  I'm thinking the June Schnibbles.  My fabrics are so far from what I normally use, but I really love them!

It is simply amazing!

A foundation block goes together so easily when one cuts all the pieces large enough!  Since I will never use my stash in my lifetime, I need to stop worrying about conserving 1/4" cuts of fabric when they make all the difference in ease of construction.

3-9:  Beginning of War
This definitely needed blocking to flatten out all those little seams and stretch to equal a 6 1/2" block.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


3-7: Remembrances

This block drove me nuts!

I looks like a simple enough block.  Squares and triangles except for the one long green piece that occurs 4 times, once in each quarter of the block.  I figured "no sweat - I'll just cut a rectangle, then fold back the paper foundation to cut the angle of the attached triangle.  Figured I could do this in less than two hours - no problem, right?

3-4:  Robbers
Wrong!  Two things are happening here that tend to give me fits.  Primarily, it is not a symmetrical block.  Trying to reverse it in my brain so it looks like the foundations is something I've never been able to do well.  See that large brown triangle?  Took me at least 3 tries before being convinced that the hypotenuse didn't go in either of the places I was trying to put it while sewing on this triangle.

Secondly, it involves fairly large half-square and quarter-square triangles.  I know my triangle math - add 7/8" for half square triangles and 1 1/4" for quarter square triangles when figuring the cutting sizes.  I figured adding an extra quarter-inch more on each leg was enough.  Wrong!  I needed to add at least 1/2" in order for the triangles to be big enough in all directions.  Especially on quarter-square triangles.  So all but the smallest triangles were barely big enough, and had to be placed perfectly to give adequate seam allowance on all edges.  Needless to say, placing them perfectly was almost impossible.  I did so much ripping that my poor paper foundations were falling apart.  I didn't want to waste fabric by cutting bigger pieces, so instead I wasted several hours.  I did recut several pieces towards the end - I just wanted it to be over.

And now that it is over, I did some investigating in Electric Quilt.  Low and behold - it is possible to make a mirror image when printing foundation papers.  It would have helped so much on a few of the blocks I've already finished.  At least I know it now for all the rest of them!

I figured I could finish this second row easily today, but now I'm not sure.  I really want to, so I can move on to another of this month's goals.

Design wall - er, floor! - Part II

I didn't want to take the civil war diary blocks off my design wall - it involves standing on my ironing table or the top step of the stool, and I don't like heights.  I figured for this shot the floor works OK.

Here is the current "shot" of the shoo fly blocks.  This is all the blocks I've made, minus the 10 "negative blocks" that don't have "positive blocks" to partner with.  I definitely need to keep better track the next time I'm cutting for these quilts.

If you compare this picture with the last one, you'll notice that the addition of reds and a few yellows really perk up this quilt.  Hopefully there are more yellows in the scrap basket - if not I'll need to supplement from the shelves.  I know there are many greens in the basket, which is what this quilt needs the most right now.  I'll focus on those in the next cutting session.  I have no idea if there are any purple or orange scraps in the basket - if not I'll pull from the shelves for those also.  Pinks likewise.

I'm loving how this is coming together!  Now I'm thinking of a pieced border from half square triangles to use up all those I've added to that box.  I'll play with that when the time comes.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Design wall Monday - Part 1

Two full rows of Civil War Diary, plus 7 of 11 blocks of the third row, are currently on my design wall.

As soon as I press the shoo fly blocks I made yesterday I will add them to the design wall.  That's why this is part 1.  I'll post part 2 this afternoon.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Scrap Basket Sunday

I took time to make one more Civil War Diary block this morning, and then switched my focus to shoo fly blocks.  Remember this picture?

This is what these squares and triangles look like now.  One finished block and 51 almost finished blocks.  All that is needed are the two crosswise seams in each block and then a good pressing.

I should have gotten at least another 20 blocks from these scraps, but I ran out of pairings.  Squares left with no triangles to match, and vice versa.  Sets of  three triangle squares instead of four.  Now the remainders are residing in the totes for 2 1/2" half-square triangle squares and 2 1/2" triangles.  No worries - there are certainly plenty of scraps left in the basket for dozens more blocks.
3-3:  Bad Box
This block went together quickly, as the only parts I paper pieced were the corners.