Friday, April 30, 2010

What's in a Name?

Not quilt related, but along the line of "things I think about while working"...



As a medical transcriptionist, I come across lots of names.  Mostly names of old people because I work for a physiology department and that means lots of echocardiograms, vascular studies, and pulmonary function tests.  It seems to me that the first quarter of the 1900's dispensed a lot of very unusual female names, many of them just plain unattractive (to me, anyhow!).  There are many I am sure will never rise again in popularity.  Now, I'll start with my very own grandmother's name: Thelma.  My grandma, however, was never called this by her family, she was always Sis.  Later, she was called Aunt Sis by her nieces and nephews.  Her sisters were Ella May and Clara--not so bad. 

Another one on the top of my list: Ethel.  Who looks at a newborn baby girl and thinks that is a lovely name?  or how about Mildred, Millicent, or Myrna.  Elsie.  Doris.  Ora.  Eudora.  Eunice. Bernice. Bertha!!!   Where did these names come from?  My mom hypothesizes they came from books or plays.  Then there were all the flower and gem names: Pearl, Ruby, Violet, Lily--but those have been recycled through the decades.  I have a niece named Lily. I can't see a new crop of babies, however, named Opal, Pauline, Eula, Maxine, Beulah, Fern, or Agnes. Oh! and the men's names--Herbert? Floyd? Clarence? Willard? Who came up with these?



Just stuff that goes through my head, and of course, just my personal taste...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thoughtful designer

About a month ago I was visiting designer Sandy Gervais' blog, Pieces From My Heart.  She started her blog last year and I have been reading it regularly.  Very creative, funny and talented lady.  The quilt I made Grant was one of her designs, so I have been a fan for a long time.  Sandy posted that they had some scary news about her mom, who was diagnosed with colon cancer.  I expressed my sympathy and concern, as did many other commenters.  Upon checking back, this post gave the news that her mother was able to come home from the hospital and as appreciation, she had gathered the comments, cards and emails and picked some names for a giveaway.  What a thoughtful thing to do, I thought, as I continued reading.  Then, my name was on the list!  Well, sort of my name.  I sent an email and Sandy confirmed that I was indeed selected to receive a Turnover of Frolic.  I love Frolic and had been petting a layer cake in my LQS just the week before.  A package arrived within a week and I am the happy and grateful recipient of this:
80 precut 6" triangles of Frolic, a line that has so many of my favorite colors.  I have already bookmarked some Moda Bakeshop ideas but for now am just happy to look at it.  The caramel popcorn was half gone by the time I took this photo last night and is now 3/4 gone!  It was really yummy (company name is The Chocolate Season).  So, thank you again, Sandy Gervais, for your thoughtful and unexpected gift in your time of worry and concern. I hope your mom is feeling okay and getting the care she deserves. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Gardening and sewing

Can you guess which one I worked on this weekend? 
New Zealand Flax
Manzanita tree

Nope, it wasn't gardening!  My mom and I did, however, volunteer as docents on a garden tour fundraiser by Ventura Botanical Gardens, which is trying to raise money to build a public garden up in the hills surrounding the Father Serra cross--otherwise known as Grant Park (we were married there!). These pictures are of the Mediterranean house and garden where they held a dinner and silent auction.  It is way up on the hill above downtown Ventura and the place was spectacular!

Front driveway, and below, view down the steep drive to the hillside abloom with wild mustard.


This home is owned by a cardiologist and his oncologist wife.  I often hear the doctor's voice as I do transcription for the physiology department.  He's one of my favorites!

Beautiful, large Spanish tile fountain at the back of the house's large patio.  The outdoor kitchen was about the size of my entire downstairs.

I have never had quite this perspective on our coastline before.  You can see in the distance the breakwater for our marina.  It was a gorgeous day. 

Dragon sculpture in a sheltered patio between wings of the home.

Mom and I visited one other garden before spending our afternoon at another lovely home, volunteering as greeters in different parts of the garden.  It was fun to chat and joke with people and be outside for hours, a rare occurrence in my life at present!  I saw several folks I knew and met some lovely others.  As for sewing, I spent all of Sunday afternoon putting together the backing for the zig zag quilt.  I think I will end up with a pile of scraps large enough to make a potholder maybe, after all the pieces I cobbled together to make the backing large enough!  And now I am off to get the thing pinned together which will probably take me two hours.  My deadline is May 1 so I gotta get to it.

P.S. What do you think of my new profile pic?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

At last, a finish!

The Quilts for Kids charity quilt got finished last night.  It took three nights for me to get the quilting done and label put on, binding made and attached; last night the binding was stitched down and the little quilt got its bath.  Here's my method for machine applying binding on a quilt that I know is going to be washed a lot.

After making the binding and ironing it in half lengthwise, I accordion pleat it like so:




 
 
 
Then I put it into a drawer of my sewing desk (ignore the chipped paint and missing handle--this is mid century metal furniture I inherited from Grant, who had it since he was a kid) and close it almost all the way, leaving the tail ready to be pulled up to my machine.
 
 
 
 
 
 
     
 I stitch the binding to the back of the quilt, following a line of basting sewn a scant 1/4" from the edge of the quilt top. I do this after I complete the machine quilting. The binding is sewn on in the traditional fashion, turning the corners and joining the tails diagonally.






After trimming away the excess batting and backing, I turn the binding to the front.  The only thing I pin are the corners, as I come to them.  I have long fingers so I can hold down a good section of the binding as I sew.







This is a three-step zig zag stitch and as you can see, it holds down the binding very securely and looks good. 









For the machine quilting, I just did simple diagnoal "cross hatch" with a wavy line (no marking needed), outlined the border, and did a couple of wavy lines in the border.  I called my quilt "Spotbot's Day Out", as there is a little robot dog on a leash held by one of the robots in the print.  Now the hard part will be getting this in the mail! 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Plethora of Projects Pending

Oh, that bane of my existence, having too many projects going at once!  But still I make small steps toward a finish.  First up, since Erica's Edict is still on my whiteboard, silk prep and cutting of about 3/4 of the needed squares took place, followed by some actual sewing on the blocks. 



In this pic above, you can see a bit of the cream on cream print, and the sheen of the dupioni, both of which are hard to photograph.  I love this Collections for the Cause print.  It is now difficult to find!

The blocks will be 12 inches finished; that makes a big quilt very quickly.  I likey that!  I used my spray bottle quite often to deal with the silk owing to the woven stabilizer.  It is a bit thick but is laying flat so far.  These were fun to do block by block, just chain piecing the 6 triangle squares and then attaching them to the large square for near instant gratification.

Next, realizing the deadline to mail back the Quilts for Kids quilt is nearing (and oh boy I will not hit it), I quickly put on the borders and pinned the sandwich.  Some simple quilting will paste this baby together and I'll slap it in the mail as soon as I can.

What's that you say? Terrible photo?  I agree...not so cute wedged into the opening to my master bedroom's vanity area but the light was better here than in my sewing room.

Progress on a UFO from last year also resulted in borders and a sandwich.  This is from a now defunct quilt site's online mystery pattern.  I simplified it to make this small wallhanging.



Finally, the zig zag quilt received its borders...

I went with a 5 inch finished border.  There was a lot of trepidation as the assembly of the zig zag rows meant bias edges on all four sides once the points were cut off. 

Of course it is hard to tell where the border ends as it is lying on my red coverlet, but you get the idea.

Now to piece a backing, get a sandwich made, quilt, bind and label.  When did I say I was going to have this finished?  Oh, yeah, end of April.  Yikes!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Zig zag progress

The previously-interrupted-by-quilt-assistant project has been humming along.  The diagonally pieced rows I put together in two sections so I didn't have to wrestle with a lapful of fabric every time I sewed a new row on.

I sewed the "chunks" together to complete the top but I'm feeling it's a bit small, at 46 x 61, so I'll add a 6" border.  I have plenty of the red print.  My goal is to get this all done by the end of April. 

On other fronts, for Erica's quilt, last night I cut 186 pieces of background fabric in two different size squares, plus a small pile of setting and corner triangles...whew!  Only about 100 more pieces to cut from the silk (after I get it washed, ironed, and the stabilizer attached) before I can actually start sewing! 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An order

On my sewing room's new whiteboard, purchased to help me remember monthly goals, there is an edict for the month of April stating "Erica's quilt only--start to finish!" written by none other than herself.  Seeing as how she just picked out the last piece of fabric for the top on Sunday last, I'm pretty sure that task will be spilling over into May quite a ways.  The pattern Erica chose is from the Fall/Winter 2009 Quilt Sampler magazine, called Material Matters  (photo link from Honey Run Quilter's shop website), which included dupioni silk for the triangle squares around large four patches, and velvteen for the border and binding--very luxurious!  The magazine quilt had very modern splashy big prints from the Free Spirit line called Tree Top Fancy, with dark chcolate for the silk and velveteen.   Erica is a more traditional girl so we picked out lots of 1/3 yard pieces from designer lines including Primrose Inn and Collections for a Cause, with a couple from Eva.  Later we picked out the cream background at another quilt shop.  Still later, after a fruitless search at several more stores for the right color of dupioni and velveteen, we ended up at JoAnn's fabrics where we found an upholstery level "suede" in a pretty purple.  Erica didn't find a silk she liked so she went back to a previously visited shop where she picked up the dupioni in a coppery shade.  We played around with the layout of the squares and this was my fave:

 But my girl has her own mind and she liked this one below best:


The four-patches will have triangle squares around them as a whole, then the single squares at the compass points will have triangle squares all around.  Luxurious suede will border the center along with a row of flying geese in silk as an inner border.  I have never worked with either dupioni silk or the suede so this will be all new to me!   The instructions call for washing/drying the dupioni and then adhering a fusible woven stabilizer before cutting the pieces.  I believe there will still be lots of shedding while handling this hybrid, however.  Cutting directions were easy for the large squares we laid out, but a bit daunting for the background and silk--many many squares in two different sizes.  Yet I am looking forward to the challenge of working with these new fabrics. I haven't quite spent what the kit costs from the website, but it seems it will be close by the time the backing fabric is added...but she's worth it, I swear! 

Monday, April 12, 2010

IHAN giveaway

Have you seen this blog/website?  There are only a few days of the 30 days of giveaways left and one of the best prizes has now appeared--an AccuQuilt Fabric Cutter, the GO cutter.  I Have A Notion sells a lot of wonderful quilting aids in addition to the cutter.  Now, it's great to have extra chances to win, so that is the reason for my post.  Check out all the giveaways and enter until April 15th.   I've put my name down for quite a few!  

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Trial

I made this collage of my quilts some time ago but this is sort of a trial to see if it works!


Whaddya think?
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Monday, April 5, 2010

Lucky.....and jealous

Just when I thought I would never be lucky in a giveaway, I was selected for Quilt Hollow's book and fabric giveaway, by having the closest birthdate to the draw!  Yay for me, as I love books and I love fabric, so its a double dip.  Thank you so much, Mary, for having the giveaway.  Check out Quilt Hollow and her newest post on a new blog called Stash Manicure.

And now for the jealousy part...I talked to my sister tonight and she said she is going to Kentucky for the quilt show.  "You mean PADUCAH?" I exclaimed.  Yep, the very same.  J-e-a-l-o-u-s spells "I wanna go too, wah!"  Well, living in St. Louis means she's a lot closer to Kentucky than I am so I guess its alright.  But we're looking forward to another trip to the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach in late July.  Anyone else planning to be there? 

On the sewing/quilting front, I have now partially prepped two wool applique blocks for Greenpiece and cut out all the backgrounds.  Some of the pieces are so tiny I'm already getting palpitations about having to buttonhole quilt around them.  Seriously, one looks like a hole punch dot, and there are three stars no bigger than a nickel.  Maybe I'll put those pieces on at the end, after I've gotten a lot more practice with my buttonhole work.  Gulp.

In other news, the following is the last "squishy" item I got in the mail.

These are my received swap blocks for the Jewel Box swap through the Quiltbiddies Yahoo Group I belong to.  One gal who allegedly held up the swap included some fat quarters with her package, so sweet of her!

I'm thinking of setting these blocks in a barn raising style but will need to make about 12 more blocks to get the effect I want of at least three complete rounds.  I have plenty of fabric and they go together pretty quickly.  Isn't there another name for this block?  Sometimes I get it confused with Jacob's Ladder. 

Pardon me if I have shown this pic before of the finished center of the Quilts for Kids.org kit quilt.   Now to get the borders on and get it put together.  I found a perfect sized piece of batting in the leftovers pile so that's sorted.
We spent Easter having BBQ with our kids, my mom and dad and Grant's mom.  Elaine and Chris brought Scully the granddog, wearing his new flannel.  He braved Russell the dog's incessant chasing and barking at him and appeared to have a good time despite that treatment.  I was too tired to sew after our guests left so retired to the bed and read the book Elaine gave me for Christmas, Water for Elephants.  Good story and characters, but pretty graphic in several different ways (sex, violence, etc).  Gritty times and deplorable conditions they had, those circuses in the Depression Era.  All in all, I would recommend it, but only if you don't mind being a little shocked and horrified!  I am a very fast reader and also cannot stop reading once I am into a story so I was through the book in two nights.  The books I won will be welcome addition to my library.  Lucky me.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Working...

Since the weekend I have been spending time at my cutting table and sewing machine.  I have started turning this pile of parts

That's two colors of Moda Basic Grey--solids with sort of splotches of other colors here and there--and a Kona green.






The goal is to make this quilt from Crazy Mom Quilts tutorial that appeared here:

I was really sorry to have found Crazy Mom's blog just before she stopped writing it.  And the Bee Square Blog has also petered out.  Bummer.






I got as far as laying out the first row before my quilting assistant Mini carefully walked across each block and then settled.  I shooed her away and tried to lay out some more blocks.  After shooing her away five more times, this was the result:

And she was NOT moving...

....until this additional visitor arrived. 

What follows is a guest blogger tutorial.  The title of this tutorial is "How to Heckle a Cat", by EricaO


By the way, I hate when people call me "Erica O" because it reminds me of being at work and having my name read aloud to me off of my name tag. Yes, thank you, I know my name already. Anyway...more to the point.
So, here I am, during the beginning stages of cat hecklation. I first put the kitty in an extremely uncomfortable and undesirable position. You of course must be VERY EXCITED because it enchances the discomfort for said hecklee.

I then move on the most dreaded move of all: the combination face/paw scrunch. For each cat, you may have find their specific weakness. For Mini, the face touching is a no go...so obviously a thumbs up for heckling!
Here I am with my own cat whom I have long hours of heckling practice with. I like to pull the corporal cuddling move on her, which causes quite a bit of meowing!
And more cuddling, more tightly bound to ensure your cat knows JUST HOW MUCH you REALLY love them. When I do this, Amelie meows and it sounds just like "NOAW" (ie "no" for you non-kitty speakers), which clearly inspires me to hold on just a little longer :)
Finally, when they have really had enough, you set them free and they disappear into an "I hate you" place, while still keeping a good eye on you (in case you decide you haven't finished with them!)