Thursday, May 31, 2012

May UFO Progress

No finish for me this month by today's deadline for Judy's UFO Challenge, but a good deal of progress on Caramel Blues, which at the beginning of the month was only the center of the top.  I cut and added borders, a pieced backing, made the binding, and I'd say it's got about 1/3 of the quilting completed. 

Slowly more basting pins are being removed.

All the 9 patches have pumpkin seeds in the corner and center blocks.   Some of the rectangular pieced squares have Xs quilted through...

...and I'm liking the Xs through the alternate squares on the 9 patches, but am torn about stippling in the framing triangles.  I don't want to overpower the 9 patches.  In the meantime some stitch in the ditch around all the hourglass blocks is giving me time to ponder.  My DH really likes this quilt and is happy I said it's for us, unlike so many of the quilts I make that fly out the door the second they are completed.  I'll be really pleased to add this, when completed, to my dream goal--a stack of handmade quilts in my home!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Holiday Work

Holidays are sure nice to spend at home, doing whatever one pleases!  I puttered about all morning with some household chores, blogging, and thumbing through magazines for quilting ideas for Caramel Blues.  It was decided the quilt really deserves custom quilting for its traditional bones.  I remembered a recent post by Kathie  I really liked those pumpkin seeds and felt they would look good in the 9 patches.

Some 2" squares drawn on a scrap of muslin and attached to the excess batting around the quilt sandwich were my practice piece.  I'm a "no mark" kind of gal so this was all by eyeball.

At first I was twisting the sandwich back and forth to stitch the same side of the pumpkin seed in each square, but then I remembered this post by Elizabeth Hartman of Oh Fransson regarding her orange peel quilting.  However, since I was using a walking foot and working on a diagonal, I decided a serpentine would work better.  And it did.

Some of the pumpkin seeds are nice and fat and others are a bit slimmer, but they turned out pretty well.  Only the center square will have crossed seeds (try to say that three times fast!).  Once all the 9 patches are completed, the framing triangles around each will receive some sort of stippled type design from the Free Motion Quilting book, alternating designs between the caramel and cream sections.  Not sure about the borders yet but that can be decided later.  Can you tell I'm not much of a pre-planner?     

Monday, May 28, 2012

Design Wall Monday--Memorial Day 2012

Happy Memorial Day! 

My design wall is not up yet in my newly rearranged sewing area, so it is a design table this week.  Late last night I pulled out the Cocoa Baskets project box and what was left of the Steam A Seam fusible package and got to tracing baskets.

I like the Steam A Seam because until it is ironed down, it is repositionable.  (Note the nice big scrap I saved myself by lining up the applique on the far edge!)  Although the package directions state it is not required with this fusible, I'll zig zag the edges of the appliques with invisible thread. 

Six yummy baskets ready for stitching.  Laying out all the completed-so-far 9 patch, churn dash and basket blocks will help me determine what colors/fabrics can be repeated in the setting I chose.  I do have some other backgrounds to cut from and am really liking the striped ones.  See more design walls on Judy's Patchwork Times.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


TGIAHW--Thank Goodness It's A Holiday Weekend!  Finally a long weekend with time for some quilty stuff.  Grant helped me set up my tables so I could get Caramel Blues pinned.  The quilt is about 58" square so fit on my two portable tables just fine.

All my sewing room pictures the last year and a half have included either a drum set or amplifiers in the background, so the corner seems a bit empty.  I'll soon remedy that with a design wall using a flannel-backed tablecloth.

My quilt inspector made sure the clamps were fully secured.  Thanks, Mini.

All pinned and ready to go.  Now the hardest question--how to quilt this?  I'm thinking an all over design on the largish side, mostly because I'm lazy but also since a deadline is approaching--this UFO needs to be finished by May 31!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Hey, that was really fun yesterday--thanks for all of you who piped up and let me know what your computer was seeing :)  And guess what?  Today, I can see my favicon in both the address bar and the "tab" showing what site I'm on.  It also shows up in my Favorites list for IE.  Wonders never cease! 

I used the site to create my image.  Although you can start from scratch with just blank squares to color in, I uploaded a smallified version of the photo I snapped of the house block.  The image comes up pixelated into squares and you can change the color of the squares, etc to make your image look just as you want.  I saved it to my hard drive, then I went to the Blogger dashboard Layout, and at the top of the layout it says "favicon".  I uploaded my favicon file from my hard drive and it worked!  If I ever want to change my favicon, this one can be removed and I can make another the same way.   

The house block was made for a swap, and I have bunch that sadly are yet to be put into a quilt. They were fun to make, though!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Can you see it?

I just spent about an hour making a favicon, uploading it, messing with the template, spiffing up a new background, etc, and I can't see the favicon!   First I had to search to even remember what a favicon is (it's the tiny image next to a blog's name).  Please let me know if you can see a little red house block with two chimneys and a green door.  I took it from this image:

Bummed that it is not working from my view!

Tuesday's Orts--May 22, 2012

Tuesday's Orts--bits and scraps of thoughts and events that land here semi-regularly...
  • Saturday's room rearranging felt like those children's puzzles where you slide tiles trying to complete an image.  We had to repeat aloud the order we needed to do things several times as we shifted boxes, bags, bundles, hanging items, and heavy pieces of furniture, but made a satisfying solution.
  • I did find two things I had been looking for--the removable free arm cover for my sewing machine, and a kit of Australian fabrics I bought in Cairns.  Hopefully I will not lose them again!
  • Traffic rant:   Drivers who creep and speed up, creep and speed up, looking for an address, street, or other unknown object, and then suddenly stop or turn but don't bother to signal.  Maybe this is why:
  • Son Nick came over Sunday with his laundry and wearing his Kings hockey shirt and couldn't believe the game wasn't already being watched.  Grant remedied that immediately. 
  • I forgot all about the solar eclipse until Nick and I noticed the sunset was odd looking and we headed to the front yard to watch.  A neighbor had set up a mini telescope on a patio chair and was having to relocate further and further down the street as the sun sank behind some tall Eucalyptus trees.  She ended up right beside Nick's truck.  Suddenly all the neighbors were gathered in front of our place, talking, laughing, and sharing news.  We all peeked at the eclipse safely through the telescope: 
Very cool small telescope! 

    The neighbor was snapping images with her camera every few minutes for her students.  Another neighbor stacked five pairs of sunglasses together to view the eclipse directly, a sight I wished I'd gotten a photo of too! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Design Wall Monday--May 21, 2012

On my design surface today is a curiosity-driven project from leftovers.  I wondered if I would go mad from assembling these tiny half-square triangles that I thought would square up to one inch.  Luckily, even the smallest was able to be squared at 1 1/8", giving me a few extra threads to work with.  

To keep each row's layout, I "webbed the top" a la Bonnie Hunter, only on a miniature scale.

Pressing each seam open helped with the bulk.

The HSTs are nearing "Omigosh" size.  And it didn't drive me mad. 

Well, I don't know, you think this one inch border is too wide? :)

See more Design Walls on Judy's Patchwork Times

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Keeping Busy

Now that we have an empty nest, albeit with a reserved room for Erica's visits, rearranging of some functions has taken place.  We finally decided on letting the family room downstairs remain my sewing area, and yesterday moved some furniture and music equipment around from different rooms to try to corral my sewing stuff to only TWO rooms instead of four (that's a work in progress!).  Grant's music room moved upstairs so that means no more amplifiers in my sewing area.  I'll finally get to have a design wall again, too--very excited about that.  Meanwhile, progress has been made on a couple of quilts this week:

All the borders are on the Caramel Blues UFO, the backing fabrics are pressed and ready to piece, and the binding has been cut, sewn and pressed.  I always like to make the binding in the middle of the project.

Blocks have begun to be assembled into rows for the Jewel Box quilt, but are not sewn together yet.  These purple triangles coming together will be the "heart" I am so fond of putting in my quilts.  Four rows to go!

Of course, moving stash around leads to playing with leftovers.  Earlier this year I completed these pinwheel blocks from cutoffs from the Rick Rack Road quilt and want to set them with half square triangles in two colors that will form stripes.  The 6x8 setting will require 24 HSTs that finish at 7" and if my MATH is correct, about 3/4 of a yard of each fabric is needed. 

The purple-y blue is about 10 years old, the green a recent remnant bin find.  I think they work but don't want them to overpower the pinwheels.  Opinions?

More leftover HSTs from a baggie, these from the Bowtie quilt I made for a brother two years ago. 

These will be squared to 1" before assembly.  Sounds insane, right?  I'm curious to see if I can tolerate sewing squares that tiny!  It will be a micro-mini for sure.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival--Spring 2012

Hi, Festivalers and Quilt Lovers!  Welcome to my little corner of blogland. 

My entry for the Blogger's Quilt Festival is a quilt I made for our youngest daughter, Erica, and gave to her when she moved away to attend college in Arizona.  The pattern I fell in love with was from Quilt Sampler Fall/Winter 2009, called "Material Matters", from the shop Honey Run Quilters in Chico, CA.  It featured the use of dupioni silk and velveteen with Bear's Paw blocks.  Having never worked with these materials before, I was interested in seeing what would happen.  Erica picked out all the fabrics, with some help from me with scale and color, and we searched high and low for the right mix.

The dupioni is the "claws" and was machine washed first and then attached to an iron-on stabilizer, per pattern directions, before being cut and sewn into the HSTs.  I let the grain run this way and that to maximize the shine edging the big 8" squares of fabric.

Layout of all the blocks and setting triangles.  That was a lot of points to match!

We could not find any velveteen that would match, so ended up with this luscious purple "suede" from the home decorating department, for the outer border.  It had the desired texture and same weight.

Prepping for basting in my mother's studio.  I used a wool batting for the first time in this project, which was recommended by the designer due to the extra weight of the unusual materials. 

Erica likes the fleur-de-lis motif and I used it in the big blocks.  I had her trace the design 24 times onto tracing paper with a light box, then I pinned the paper to the quilt and free motion quilted on the lines.

It was a bit tedious to remove the paper but I felt the design looked great.  I stitched a "cornerstone" in the center and in the ditch around each block. 

All the white parts were stippled and I left the dupioni unquilted.

The finished quilt required two tall men standing on a curb to hold it off the ground.  This is a big one!

On the back, I used leftovers to piece Erica's initials and add some interest.

Lots of texture from the quilting.

The cross-hatching I did in the suede border shows up better here on her queen sized bed.  My girl loves her quilt although she recently mentioned that it doesn't have a label.  I told her I don't know what to name it.  "Erica's Quilt", said Erica.  Well, okay then, that's simple enough! 

See more amazing quilt stories on Amy's Creative Side, Blogger's Quilt Festival.  Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Little Night Music

Tuesday night some John Mellencamp on CD was the night music while I cut and sewed borders for the Caramel Blues UFO.  Yes, a CD--I don't own an i-Anything and either listen to the radio or CDs while I cut and stitch.  I'm a throwback to simpler technology, but at least I don't have to work by gaslight or candlelight as my ancestors did :)

I did manage to get three of the four border strips on before an electrical incident caused a work stoppage.  While preparing to press this second border, the iron began to make loud popping/clicking noises that even drew the cat's attention.  In fact, Mini gazing upward at the iron was what made me notice the smoke coming out of the steam vent!  The iron had shut itself off but the smoke was alarming and I quickly unplugged it and took it outside onto the concrete patio, afraid that flames would begin pouring out.  But they didn't.  I checked on it numerous times for 10-20 minutes and it cooled off by then so I could go to bed without worry.  Scary moments, though!  Tonight I plan to get the final border strip on and begin piecing the backing.  I have a cheap backup iron that will work just fine :).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday's Orts--May 15, 2012

Tuesday's Orts--bits and scraps of thoughts and events that land here...
  • Son Nick swapped out big and bulky furniture for more compact pieces for his new digs, including a dresser I offered which has been my stash storage for a few years. However, the plastic bins which were perfect for that dresser don't fit in the big and bulky furniture as I assumed they would.  Oops!
  • I just realized yesterday afternoon that the egg dish I made for Mother's Day Sunday brunch was lacking the diced ham I specifically purchased for it.  Oops again!
  • Traffic Rant:  Knuckleheads who have 70 empty parking spaces to choose from in the lot but pull into the ONE spot left open between your vehicle and another. 
  • Lunchtime quote from Barb, regarding fashion trends:  "You can't call it Retro if you were there and wore it the first time". 
  • The games in London are coming up fast.  Our local Ralph's grocery store is in the spirit:
I couldn't resist the Olympic rings! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Design Wall Monday--May 14, 2012

Wow, middle of May already!  Better get cracking on my UFO of the month that I showed last week.  No progress was made on that project, since I left town on Wednesday, got back late Friday night, played catchup with paying work and we shopped and cleaned all day Saturday, and had 13 guests for Mother's Day brunch yesterday.  But I did have some time with needle and thread on my out of town trip:

This wool penny mat from Primitive Gatherings was purchased and started on last year's trip to the International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati.  See the X in the center of the smaller squares?  While sewing on the plane, the ride was so rough my pieces were bouncing around so I tacked them down in place until I could get the buttonhole stitching done.  I actually like that big X as a design feature too, and may leave it in.  This is a pretty small mat, only about 12 inches across.  Aren't all the plaid wools great?  See more design walls on Judy's Patchwork Times.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Desert Delivery

My quick trip to the Arizona desert was good!  DD Erica drove and even provided "Mom-friendly" music, as she put it, via her i-Pod.  We approached downtown Phoenix just as a terrific storm blew in. 

Erica thought at first that it might be a haboob, or massive dust storm, but with the wind came rain, thunder and lightning.  "Welcome to sunny Phoenix!", said Erica.

It was fast moving and lent a beautiful tinge to the sunset as we headed out to dinner at a favorite local Italian restaurant called Andreoli's, where we celebrated her best friend and roommate Christy's birthday.

I met Lucy, Erica's very friendly 8 month old kitten.  This is one of her favorite perches, among many, including the top of the refrigerator, and Erica's shoulder.   

Lucy found the plastic bag holding my handwork very interesting as well.

My brother Ted and sister in law Laura are in the middle of having a house remodeled and led me on a tour.  This is the great room, which is open to the kitchen.  French doors on the left and right walls will open to the front courtyard and the back patio, respectively.  The wood beams were stained very dark and give a Spanish feel to the two rooms.  Travertine floors keep it light and bright and I just love all the arches.  They added a partial second story with a balcony off their master suite with amazing views of the surrounding desert valley and mountains of Scottsdale.

The house's original living room got a beautiful coved ceiling and is such an inviting room with all of its windows and light.  It may become the formal dining room but that has yet to be decided.   While I was in town the outside of the house was painted, hence the plastic covering the many windows and doors.  Ted was impressed with how cool the house felt with the new double glazed windows and insulated walls.  Though it was about 95 degrees outside, the house was comfortable without any air conditioning.  They should be able to move in by July, and Ted said, "But no one will want to visit then because of the heat!" 

Palo verde tree and blooming ocotillo outside the restaurant we lunched at yesterday, where Laura was kind enough to invite me to join her and her friends Barb and Ellen.  They have regular crafting days together and will soon get to enjoy the views from the Lady Cave studio upstairs at the new house.

My brother Ted posing with his flannel-backed quilt in 99 degree weather. The coffee beans quilted into it were roasting!

And an Indian blanket style pose.  He loved the quilt and I'm glad I delivered it in person.  

Lucy liked it too! 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Design Wall Monday--May 7, 2012

On my design floor today is the UFO Challenge pick of the month, #2, which in my case is a quilt I'm calling Caramel Blues.

These nine patches were from a swap I participated in over a year ago (two?).  The pattern is Carefree Romance, from Quilt Sampler magazine, Spring/Summer 2010.  I like how the hourglass blocks frame the nine patches and am happy with my color and fabric choices pulling the blocks together. 

The pattern calls for two plain borders, one narrow and one wide.  These are my selections left to right for inner border, outer border, backing, and binding.  I will have to do some creative cutting of the yardage to get my outer borders all going the same way with the stripe, and will be piecing leftovers for the backing.  I've already done all the MATH for a cutting list and just hope my calculations are good!  What's not on my design floor is the Jewel Box quilt--I finally got all the blocks made (see yesterday's post) and the rows stacked up for assembly.  See more design walls on Judy's Patchwork Times.

Design Wall Monday--Catching Up

 Design Wall Monday --See more design walls on Judy's Small Quilts and Doll Quilts blog.  I disappeared for awhile, due to computer issu...