Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Another Clue, Patriotic Fields

Clue #5 of Judy's Mystery Quilt was posted yesterday and I got right to work sewing my pinwheels and matching flying geese to the specified parts. 
Along with the pieced bars, Judy cleverly turned them into stars (hey--I just rapped!) and I am loving them in all the different fabrics.

Next week we'll get the layout for the top.  I'm hoping the chains will intersect in a beautiful way around these pinwheel stars!  On other fronts, the Strawberry Fields quiltalong project is a completed top, which I am calling Patriotic Fields.  I would have liked to have this done for the Independence Day holiday, but with my plan to hand quilt it, I'm not seeing a finish in the next four days!

This watermelon-y fabric was a gift some time ago from my newly married friend Tanya, with whom I'm having dinner Thursday night.  I might bring the top to show her.  Although not entirely in keeping with the vintage idea of the little quilt, it was the right color and was on hand!

I think the roses in the corner don't stand out as much now that the borders are on.  What say you--Aye or Nay?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Don't say Fire

See why I should never mention fire? We've had our first one of the season, and it was of the beloved landmark hill behind Ventura, Two Trees, so named because of the two Coast Live Oak trees gracing it.  I noticed the smoke on Friday when I went to lunch about 2 p.m.  Later there were helicopters and planes making water and retardant drops (photos courtesy of my mom).



 This fire was started by a 16 year old who was hiking with some friends from a local park and "found" a lighter. Stupidly he decided to see if it worked and the fire got started accidentally.  He tried to stomp it out but couldn't so called 911 and then warned some other hikers nearby about the fire.  There were 150 firefighters who battled the flames for about 4-5 hours until it was out, with some staying overnight to make sure there were no hotspots to flare up.  The 16 year old was cited by police and released to his parents. The trees were not damaged but there is an ugly black scar on the hill now--14 acres were burned.  Just a reminder of what a little idiocy can cause.  This land is all private property, hard to get to by vehicle as there are no direct roads.  There are gates and warning signs to keep people out, but obviously that doesn't stop them.  At least they should bring their brains.  I'm sure the youth did not mean to do what he did, but lighter-plus-dry-grass-equals-fire in a fairly linear fashion.  So be careful out there, people!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

June Bugs

We actually haven't seen ANY June bugs this month but it has been too cool here yet, I think.  Not that I miss them, but that snap-squish they make when you smack 'em can be satisfying!  However, I digress from the purpose of this post--sewing progress!  First up, all the flying geese borders are on Erica's quilt top.  I only had to adjust the seams on a couple of the geese on one side to make them fit properly. That was one bug squished!
A close up of one of the corners.  This happens to be my favorite block (but not Erica's, which is why it is not in the center!).  I like how the corners came out.  The next border will finish at 7" and is a deep purple.  That's my next bug to squash, cutting that slippery suede-like material into 87" lengths.  Scary! 

Here's part of my Clue #4 pieces for the Mystery Quilt.  I love the large block.  How serendipitous that it turned out to be my favorite colors mixed in the one block for this Mystery Quilt.  Half of the flying geese I made now have the green bar on the bottom.  Judy is planning two more weeks of clues.  The bug for that is that I have to WAIT, now that I am all caught up with the sewing. I have a lovely pile of 17 of the big blocks that are making me very happy!
Now I'm off to cut purple suede borders and also work on an exciting idea I have for the back of Erica's quilt which I will share once she approves the plan.  I promise this one will work out a lot better than my last try at something special! 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Garden Tour and a Cat on a Mat

I am not much of a gardener but these plants are like iron and even I can't kill them: Mexican sage and daylilies.  I love orange!

This peachy orange is just yummy.


Golden Rain tree, just about to bloom.  This tree is less than 10 years old, I think, and started out as a stick no wider than my thumb in a 5 gallon pot. Someday it will shade the front of the house, though now it only its the driveway and garage!
Covered with yellow flower spikes.
Mini holding down my cutting mat for me.
Tonight is the once a month Bunco night again--the last four weeks sure have flown!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jimmy Crack Corn and a Quilt Show

Saturday I picked up my mom to accompany me on some quilty outings.  On the way I was making up my own lyrics regarding my outfit, to the tune of Jimmy Crack Corn..."My legs are white and I don't care, my legs are white and I don't care, my legs are white and I don't caaarre, I'm wearing a skirt anyway!"  Seriously, wear your sunglasses.  Sorry, due to surface glare, no pics are possible.  

We went first to a charity quilt show/sale and silent auction fundraiser for a maternity home, with Amish style quilts by an acquaintance of my mom's.  Ardelle, who must be in her 80's, told us she went to an Amish exhibit in San Francisco several years ago and was inspired.  She has made over 400 table topper sized quilts since then--all hand pieced and hand quilted.  There were close to 200 quilts displayed around the church hall, all for sale for $25 or less.  I was stunned and wished I'd brought my checkbook, but did immediately plunk down my $20 bill for this lovely one:

My photography assistant, Mini, helped immensely of course.

The colors are not exactly coming through in these shots but she used a dulled down green, warm purple, and of course that orangey-red, and quilted it with purple thread.

Prior to discovering Amish quilts Ardelle used a lot of plaids and thrifted or donated fabrics.  I own a little square quilt of hers that I cover my sewing machine with.  Here's one of her "before the Amish" log cabin quilts, in a typical size (pic from several yrs ago). 

I hope Ardelle's quilts sold like hotcakes and a lot of money was raised.  At those prices for that kind of work, who could pass it up?

We then went downtown to the County Museum where a juried quilt show has been hanging for months--this was the last weekend so we barely made it.  Very interesting art quilts, most of them small but incredibly detailed.  I loved this one the most:
It was probably the most traditional of all the quilts displayed.  The thread work for the leaves was amazing.
This pic below does not convey the intense colors of the quilt, which was probably 24-30 inches square and just gorgeous.
It was fascinating to read the "process" stories of the quilts.
A nearly bed-sized quilt was on display but this closeup shows the "quilting".
It is a quilt of paper advertisements, attached to a paper backing and quilted with brads.  Very clever.  I hope you can read the description below.  The pic should be somewhat clickable.
After the quilty fun, Mom and I had lunch at a little outdoor cafe and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  I visited with my dad too and admired the work they've been doing on their yard, with the help of my nephew.  Late that night I finally got to some sewing and stayed up until 1 AM to finish all of the Mystery Quilt Clue #3.  The little four patches are now a chain.  
I have no idea where Judy is going with this, but with geese, pinwheels, chains and bars, it is going to be one dynamic quilt!  Tomorrow Clue #4 is posted and I'll find out what to do with the last of the unsewn building blocks. Very exciting!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bad Company

Friday I left work a bit early so Grant and I could have a date with Paul Rodgers.  Well, there were several hundred other people there too, but it was still just the two of us together.  We drove about an hour and a half north to the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez.  The Indian casinos are everywhere in California now and are hugely popular.  The Chumash were the Native Americans who lived in much of the Southern California coast when the Spanish explorers arrived in the 1700s.  It was a beautiful drive along the coast from Ventura to Santa Barbara, then we turned inland over the San Marcos Pass.  We took this road home from our trip to Pismo Beach for our anniversary in February and I shared this picture:
It was very green and lush in February, which is typically our rainiest month.  This is what it looked like on Friday, four months later:

All that green has turned golden and dry and the deep green of the Coast Live Oak trees really stands out. 

It has not been too hot yet but the fire crews are all tuned up and we fervently hope that they don't stay very busy this year. 

We ate at a steakhouse in the quaint little downtown and then filed into the smoky casino for the show.  Luckily there was no smoking allowed in the theater.  Paul Rodgers, of Bad Company and other bands, known as 'The Voice', still has it going on at age 60.  It was a great show, though of course too short for all the fans.  Grant and his bandmates cover several of his songs in their playlist, such as "All Right Now" and "Bad Company".  It's great to see live music any time, especially great rock and roll!  Grant and his bandmates have a chance to play at the County Fair this year.  He should hear in a few days if they made the cut.  It would be great fun to see them sing these songs in the open air bandstand at the Fair!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Design Wall and other orts

My design wall is up!  I have been meaning for months to buy a flannel-backed tablecloth to use as a design wall.  This one I purchased at Big Lots for $3.50 and it is 52 x 90 inches.  I used those 3M stick on hooks and some curtain clip hangers.  Sorry the photo is a bit fuzzy. I hung it on the wall behind where I sit at my machine, so I can just turn and slap things up there as I sew.
By some mini miracle I hung it at exactly the right height to clear the floor.  If I had tried to do this on purpose, I'm certain it would not have worked out as well! 

My return trip to the store also resulted in exchange for the right length curtain panel.  I also used the stick on hooks for the tie backs.  Luckily the curtain rod was already at the right height!

Clue #2 sewing is nearly done for Judy's Mystery Quiltalong.  Although her instructions didn't include it, after sewing background and accent strips together and ironing to the darker fabric, I nested the strips in pairs and did the 2" subcuts for the 4 patches, meaning they were all ready to go under my needle without having to match each pair--a big time saver when you have 136 pieces to cut!

I'm ridiculously pleased with these little red 4 patches!
This red print is from a Minnick & Simpson line called  American Primer.  I have no idea when it came out, probably several years ago.  It has the cutest little flower inside the circle, if you can make it out.  I also own a fat quarter of this same print in green.  I only have just enough of the red print for Judy's cutting instructions but have not yet made all the cuts as many of them are for borders and I may want to do something different at that point in the Mystery.
OK, now before I sew some more tonight, I'm off to finish readying the items for the donation truck tomorrow.  I have continued adding to the piles over the past week bit by bit.  There's still plenty that can be weeded out but I'll be happy to see some more space in some of my cupboards for now!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Plugging away at production

Another productive couple of days, though still not enough sewing to satisfy me!   Even if I am a little tired on weeknights and sick of sitting, which I do entirely too much of at both my jobs, there is enough getting up and down to iron and cut and trim that I find my "at least 15 minutes" of sewing per day stretches longer.  My Clue #1 pieces are nearly done for Judy's Mystery quilt.
The flying geese and pinwheel blocks are completed for two of the colors...
...and not yet completed for these, but close!  My goal is to cut for the rest of the Clue #2 after completing the pinwheel blocks.  I am liking my color choices so far.  The no waste method for flying geese is terrific  (click on the link for a downloadable pdf some smart person shared!).  I also completed two more flying geese borders for Erica's quilt, only one left to go and then I have to do the next part which is trimming the quilt top to 66 1/2" square before adding said border.  Scary!

Yesterday I took a trip to a local fabric store and found this blue print for an outer border to go with the Strawberry Fields patriotic top and I am thinking of using one of these two reds for a skinny inner border.  I like the darker red but may not have enough of it.  We'll see.








In the same shopping center I visited the Big Lots and found a lidded, divided organizing bin which I thought would be perfect for my fat quarters.  It is meant for CDs, DVDs, etc. 
I bought the larger size that is shown at the bottom of the instructions. It fit into a dresser drawer and you can see below where you could insert the plastic separators within the sections.  I think the sections can be switched to the other direction but I left them as is.
(Ignore my messy quick restuff of the fat quarters into the box)
I'm going back for a couple more of these boxes, which were $10 at Big Lots.  Another find was Waverly drapery panels for $15 apiece. 
I bought two of the panels for my sewing room window, ironed the first one, drug out the stepstool and hung it up, very pleased.  Then I ironed the second one, which seemed to go much quicker, and hung it up. 
Um, it went quicker because it was NOT 84" long like the package said, which I double checked afterwards.  So deflated that I spent the time to iron it! Good thing I was already planning to return to the store, I guess.  The last thing I bought was a flannel backed tablecloth so I can finally make myself a design wall.  I'm going to use those 3M hangers and the clip rings I just took off the rod.  

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Strawberry Fields Quiltalong top

Lori has put up her Mr. Linky for all the quilters who played along for this doll quilt project.  I have let mine stew for a week and I'm not going to change the corners.  I like the "make-do" aspect, in vintage fashion, though I do know where I could get more of this fabric line (Bonnie Blue Quilts website has it, for inquiring minds!).  Lori included in her post the EQ drawing she made originally, in which she included a narrow border.  Oh my.  Now I have to rethink my finish.  How great would this look with a narrow red border?  Hmmm, pondering. Anyway, it was great fun to play along and I plan to hand quilt this with Baptist fans, a pattern which I have never tried before.  I'll use a perle cotton and probably just freehand the fans.  People like Bonnie and Tonya and Julie make it look easy. 

You're right, I haven't trimmed the corners yet!  But pop on over to Humble Quilts and see the many different versions of Strawberry Fields.  Thank you for this little adventure, Lori!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Early June doings

It has been a good weekend.  Friday night I stopped at the mall and did some clearance rack shopping at Sears.  Their store brand is decent and some of the lines they carry are really nice, a Liz Claiborne line, Lands' End, etc.  Plus they sure know how to mark down things!  I got a couple of light cotton tunic-length shirts for only $12 apiece.  We are starting our typical weather pattern here for southern California beaches.  AM fog and low clouds, burning off to a nice mid 70's temp by early afternoon at the beach; much hotter inland.  Sometimes the fog comes back again around 4-5 PM, but since we live about 5-6 miles inland, it stays nice and sunny afternoons for us most of the time.  So you have to change your clothes about four times a day.  I like to throw on a tank top and lightweight shirt with my jeans so these were perfect.

When I got home it was nearly 7 PM and Grant was taking a nap since he had a band gig that night.  Mini was hanging out there with him.  
She was holding all his calls.

(Not a posed photo--I found her like this and ran to get the camera before she moved!)

Grant's band gig was at the local neighborhood bar just down the street and half the Bunco gals were there with their hubbies so there were lots of people to lend their support.  I joked to the waitress that I'd heard they were now carrying Pepsi and that's what drew me in.  The band sounded good as usual and it was fun to spend time with friends.

Saturday after a late breakfast and transcription work, I spent some time in the kitchen and yard, talked to my mom, called my sister, answered some emails, wrote a letter, and generally pottered about the house for awhile.  Grant crashed for another nap in the late afternoon since he didn't get to bed until 2:30 AM and I took off to do some errands.  Naturally that involved visiting a fabric store.  I bought myself a new seam ripper and a few random remnants.  Though I really wanted to find something I liked at my second stop, Cost Plus World Market, nothing jumped in my arms. 

Saturday night Grant went off to hear a favorite local band (I declined his invite to come along) and during that time I wrote down all the instructions for Judy L's Mystery Quiltalong and started pulling out fabric.  I commandeered some that had been set aside for another project and pulled different fat quarters from my stash.  I am happy to say that I will not need to buy anything to play along (barring any disaster!).  Here are my selections:
The cream is the background and the red and green the two main fabrics.  The six other colors will be cut into sets of three for a total of 18.  I am way behind but now that I have picked my fabrics I can start cutting tonight and hopefully be caught up with sewing by the time the second clue is posted on Wednesday. 

I've been feeling the weight of too many possessions lately and this morning while my laundry was going, I started emptying cabinets and pulling things from my clothes closet.  A pile of shoes, purses, unwanted clothing and knickknacks will join this grouping of trays, platters with chips, flotsam and jetsam for the giveaway box:
It felt good to pick through and just keep what is really going to be used.  I think this drive to get rid of stuff is also stemming from the thought of having to move a lot of things around when we get new flooring later this summer (fingers crossed).  Every cupboard, shelf, and closet needs attention at present...not to mention the garage, front porch and side yards as well.  Too much stuff.  But I've made a start and as we all know, that is usually the hardest part!

Erica was dog sitting Scully all weekend so was not here to flick her whip, but I did work on her quilt, getting the rest of the silk prepped, cutting the last of the rectangles for the flying geese and starting to sew them.  I'll finish them up after I post. 
Of course I had to buy the green seam ripper.  It has a cap, which is nice, and I like the ergonomic style.  I've already had to use it once while sewing these! 

Finally: GO LAKERS!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Strawberry Fields Fumbling

The 1/2 yd cut of navy print I bought at my LQS turned out to have a surprise inside. 

This lovely scalloped border!  I got very excited about using this scallop in the corners of the quilt.  After cutting the larger setting triangles from the field of the print, I carefully cut the size squares I needed from the scallop for the corners.
  
Ooh, pretty! Let's see what the other corner looks like.






 
Bummer, it's going the other direction.  OK, let's rearrange.  Then I thought I would use the larger setting triangles with the scallop on the outer edges.  Dang!  Not enough fabric to cut six triangles--only enough for one side.  That won't look good.  Discard that idea.  Try as I might, the corners would not match and I did not like the horizontal/vertical distraction.  So I ended up using some of the larger flowered portion of the border to make my corners.  So disappointed that my great idea didn't pan out!
 
The corner pieces haven't been trimmed because I am still not sure about them. I may want to swap one of the big roses on the top to the bottom, opposite corner.  Or discard the idea entirely and cut the same as the zigzag.  Opinions, anyone?

 Otherwise I am pleased with the deep navy for the zigzag and the scrappy fun I've had with the red, white and blue blocks.  Lori is going to put up a Mr. Linky for all the quilt-alongers next Monday.  I'd like to call my top finished before then!