Monday, December 21, 2015

Design Wall Monday--a finish to share

A bit late, but I do have a finish to celebrate for DWM!  I finally got all the quilting done on the Christmas Quilt and it is ready to snuggle under on the couch.
I had to bump up the contrast to get the border to show as green and not black due to the nighttime shot, but here is the throw fresh off the sewing machine. 
 The back is pieced to keep the script print right side up :) 

Although initially I didn't think I really liked it, I persevered with the circles in the pieced blocks and most of them got a holly leaf detail in the center.  This was a very easy free motion design to do.  I felt the circles made the quilting a bit more modern.
I repeated the holly leaves but added berries in the border, and used green thread to keep the focus on the center blocks and not interrupt the dark green dotted print.  Desiring to use the green dot for the binding as well but having limited amount, the dreaded MATH dragon raised its head.

I had little of this red candy cane print that I used for the cornerstones and figured I had just enough of it to use on the corners.  I cut 12 inch sections of the red print at 2.5"wide and ironed them in half lengthwise like the other binding pieces.  I folded the red print binding segments in half and aligned the folded edge with the raw edge of my quilt top and pinned it in place.  Then I sewed the green dot  binding pieces to the free ends of the red print using a straight seam instead of a diagonal, measuring and cutting the green print binding only to proper length.
You can see in this picture where I joined the red print to the green print binding.  This procedure I did one at a time as I approached the corners while attaching the binding to the quilt sandwich.  I had to make a couple of straight joins in the green dot binding but they are really invisible.

This worked out perfectly and each corner detail measured the same.  It is so great when an idea and a sketch come together just the way one planned!  Unfortunately, when I washed the quilt for the first time, despite using a color catcher cloth, some of the red and green prints in the blocks ran--obviously a sign of not having been prewashed. My practice is to always wash all my fabrics before cutting and sewing, and certainly for any blocks that I might swap.  I'm sure more of this will wash out in subsequent laundering--this is a quilt for me and I'm not particularly concerned.  These blocks have been waiting to become a quilt for about 8 years.  So happy they are a real quilt finally.

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas Quilting

This Christmas Quilt got more attention, first with the very tedious stitch in the ditch which takes so long and barely shows on the front.  I'm not a perfectionist and this quilt is for me, so there was very little ripping involved--only for big mistakes! 

  Then I started in on the sashing and cornerstones. 

I free-motion stitched a sort of candy cane wiggle in the sashing and holly leaves in the cornerstones, all in white thread. This took a lot longer than I estimated, partly due to using a thicker thread and having to wind bobbins frequently.  Plus breaking two needles.   I had already decided just to outline any of the appliqued shapes, so that was the next task, fairly quickly accomplished.  While doing the boring quilting, I came up with the decision to treat all the pieced blocks with a simple circle of quilting.  I traced around a small plate on few of the blocks.

I'm not sure I like it.  I may need to add some stippling to the outside of the circle and then stitch in the ditch around the center square. 

The quilt will rest while I decide, and decorate the Christmas tree, which has remained strung only with lights for two days.  We went to Costco on Friday night because they had $46 Noble Fir trees, meeting our DD Erica there. We quickly found out why they are that low price when we saw the trees, completely bound in twine and leaning against a trailer.  No, you are not allowed to open the trees.  "It's kind of like gambling", the attendant told our daughter before we got there.  No thanks, I don't like the roulette version of selecting a tree! So off to Home Depot and the fun of picking out a favorite and comparing it to the others' favorites. Mission accomplished. 

In other news, grandson Cove's early Christmas present arrived and his mom and I put it together after he went to sleep.  I got this picture the next morning upon request.  Strapped in!   He had his first trip to Disneyland yesterday and I can't wait to see what he has to say about it :)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Design Wall Monday

There was very little sewing being done the last little while, so my design surface has been empty.  My sewing room had become completely unworkable with stuff piled everywhere. But having cleared out the whole room for the large crowd we hosted for Thanksgiving dinner, a fresh start was afforded once again!  I spent a lovely couple of hours on my High Cotton quilt (Kim Diehl, Simple Comforts book).  After counting up all the colors already made, I decided to add more green blocks.  No surprise there, as green is my favorite color :)
These Civil War prints were the the last hoarded fat eighths from a set I bought years ago, I think at the International Quilt Festival when it was in Cincinnati.  I now need 13 more pieced blocks to match the 63 the pattern requires.  The quilt dimensions are a little shorter than I like, so I may add another row once I get the top laid out.

Then I worked on a Guild charity quilt.  I picked up the kit with completed top, backing, and batting a couple of months ago.  Last weekend at our Guild Sew-In I started pinning the quilt, only to find the backing was several inches too short, but luckily extra wide. That ended the pinning session until I could cut off the extra width and stitch it onto the bottom.  Yesterday I accomplished that task and began quilting.  A spool of pink Aurifil thread from the thread bin matched perfectly and I used my favorite wiggly line to cross hatch the top. 
 Really cute layer cake quilt pattern, with sewing motifs, text prints, buttons and graphics on the fabrics.  I wish I knew the designer.  Another guild member constructed the top at a previous Sew-In.

I love the ombre striped backing.  I tried to make the crosshatch a little more modern by skipping every other diagonal to make rectangles rather than squares.  Binding and a label will be completed this week.  I've been elected Secretary for next year's Board and look forward to getting more involved.  Surprisingly few people wished to jump in, but we are a new guild still building membership--I've only been a member for a year. Hopefully I'll do a good job!

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving Weekend Wrap Up

 One last autumn photo before the Christmas onslaught!
Pumpkin Field, photo by Donald Jahadamy
It was a wonderful, crazy, packed and loud Thanksgiving feast.  We ended up feeding a total of 28 at dinnertime, and had an additional 13 people stop by (two more ate!).  It was too cold to eat on the patio so we all crammed into the house.  Thank goodness I took a day off work for clearing out my sewing room.  It was restaged with a table for 7, a seating area, all the dishware on my sewing desks, and the desserts on the pull out table of the Hoosier.  The remaining 21 were at three tables in the living room, including three visitors from Perth, Australia, a family friend and his two teen-aged boys. The boys are are experiencing their first visit to the US--I'm sure Thanksgiving was an experience they'll remember!  There was enough food, even though I later discovered I forgot to open the olive cans and the vegetables served were pretty light as only one bag of french beans got used.   I'm hoping we host a more reasonable 18-20 people next year:)

On Friday my sister Kathy and sister in law Laura invited me to join them for some shopping in the old downtown.  We had a lovely time poking through gift shops and antique malls and thrift stores.  I found a bunch of brand new boxes of Christmas cards for really cheap, which will be great for my husband to hand out to his customers.  Score of the day was a new old piece to add to my beloved Grandma's set of Franciscan Apple dishes that I use every Thanksgiving: 

It was grimy and has a small flaw in one of the sections (black dot), but the hand painting is gorgeous on this three section relish tray.  It is about 12-14 inches long in the middle section.  I also had fun combing through a rack of old postcards, and paid $2 for this Birthday Greeting: 

 The embossed and colored birds and garland, deer and stream were so sweet. 

It looks like this went to Mr. Newton B. Ward in West Lafayette, from Mrs. Nettie Peterson.  The postmark reads March 13, 1908 Millville, NJ, received in W Lafayette on March 14, 1908--only one day to travel that far in 1908!  I love that this dear little greeting has survived for 107 years.  My sister Kathy and I had a very memorable trip to Lafayette in 2006 when we attended a quilting workshop by Ricky Tims that was held at Purdue University.  We never traveled on Russell Street, that I recall, but the street still exists according to Google Maps, and is just west of Purdue.  Such fun to randomly find a connection to a place I've been to.

I spent some of yesterday repacking Grandma's Apple dishes and reassembling the sewing room. Then I did something entirely selfish.  I pinned a quilt for ME! 

This Christmas quilt has been folded on a hanger with the finished backing for over a year.  The blocks came from a long-ago swap when I belonged to an on-line group called Quiltbuddies. 

Can't wait to have this hanging on my railing for the season!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Erasing the 80's

I've been busy working, but no sewing or blogging seems to be happening, unfortunately.  This past weekend my daughter Erica and I took on a project I've been longing to do for some time--erasing the 80's fake "aged" brick fireplace.  Of course this ended up being one of the hottest weekends ever in November, but we pressed on. Having done many painting projects, we are well aware that prep takes five times as long as the fun painting part.  There was a lot of cleaning, wire brushing, vacuuming, soot removal, and washing. We let the brick dry overnight, then Erica did all the taping.
 She did a really good job and we commenced with brushes and rollers. 
First coat went on fairly quickly and we let it dry for about 3-4 hours.  
Second coat made the transformation even better.  There was some touch up after a few more hours, including wiping off some of her cat Lucy's dusty fireplace exploration paw prints, but by Sunday night the 80's were gone forever. I couldn't wait to start staging the mantel.

An idea I pinned on Pinterest worked out sublimely with these doilies my husband's maternal grandmother crocheted so many years ago.

 Love the filet crochet one with its curly fringe. 
The rest of the room is a complete disaster, but the mantel is ready for the holiday!

Last year my sister-in-law Laura gave me the beautiful linen towel and the pheasant gravy boat.  Paired with a length of grapevine garland and a glittery pumpkin platter, the fireplace is ready to glow over the 27 we are feeding this year for Thanksgiving.  Lots of work to get ready for the crowd, but looking forward to the love and laughter and fun of being together. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tuesday's Orts

Tuesday's Orts--bits and pieces of events and thoughts that land here occasionally.
  • One of my two jobs had an office move, luckily while I was out of town, and things are slowly coming together.  Here's hoping the 90's reception room furniture will be gone soon, as it is killing the buzz in the newly painted and carpeted space.  
  • Traffic Rant:  For heaven's sake, pull all the way forward into the parking space, especially if you have a big ass vehicle and are parking in a tiny lot--other people would like to get by.  Sheesh!
  • Despite the incredible disaster area my sewing room currently is, I have been sewing.  After carefully measuring and cutting, the first of two outer borders went on to the Bullseye quilt for my brother.  I did have to ease the borders a bit, but it worked out.  Then the second outer border side sections went on.  I laid out the remaining border pieces over the quilt top and cut them to length.  Only then did I notice I had cut duplicates of the side pieces--which would be too short for the top and bottom sections.  I took the high road and decided this gave me a DESIGN OPPORTUNITY for corner blocks.  Since I had so many extra circles from cutting out the centers of so many blocks, it was natural to continue the theme in the corners.

The acorn print worked well with the brown inner border and the green final border fabrics, I thought, and unified the corner bullseyes.

 Lucy agreed.

After a local search for dark green print, the outer border fabric I ordered from an Ebay seller.  It is a Kansas Troubles print from a line a couple of years old and the fabric is simply yummy in quality and hand.  I think it goes well with the Thimbleberries print that was originally the outer border before I started expanding the quilt to queen size.  Both have small leaves scattered all over.  
  • Halloween on Saturday night--that brought a mixed bag of  trick or treaters.  In years past we have had literally hundreds of visitors to our door.  This year was about 100.  DH Grant again resorted to giving out handfuls of candy, even earlier than last year.  My favorite costume was a little girl in a one piece unicorn with floppy legs that "ran" when she did.  Adorable.  My favorite trick or treater, of course, was Cove. 
  •  Once again, DD Elaine and her friend came up with a great costume idea for their two boys.  
Here are Hans and Franz, ready to Pump You Up (Saturday Night Live lives on!).  Cove/Hans is flexing pretty hard right there. My contribution was making the weightlifters belts. 
 Cove appears to have gotten at least some of the chocolate in his mouth!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Design Wall Monday

The Timber Quilt is still hogging all of my cutting table/design surface, but the small Halloween wall hanging I shared a couple of DWM ago is finished.  


I buttonhole stitched around most of the larger elements, and did a tiny zigzag around those windows and the door.  The house was made from leftover charm pack scraps.  The whole wall hanging is about 16x20ish.  Binding and hanging sleeve were completed Sunday and it is now gracing the powder room.  In other Halloween themed news, at long last my version of Any Witch Way, a quilt I started in 2009, is finally hanging up in my dining room for the season. 

This is from Quiltmaker magazine and is available as a PDF on their website now.  I changed the borders and added free-pieced names a la Tonya Ricucci (Word Play Quilts book).  

My witches have eyebrows and noses in addition to the lips the pattern called for.  Quilting was done by Georganna Hawley.  The black border has pebbling and cobwebs in the corners, which look great in person but are hard to photograph.  I'm so happy with how it turned out and look forward to seeing it every year.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Not a Pinterest Fail

Pinterest fails are famous on the web, but once in a while a trial works out.  I saw these pumpkins made out of canning jar lids on several websites, and remembered the large bag of leftover lids from the mason jars that my daughter and son-in-law gave out as favors at their wedding--four years ago--which I still had in a closet. 

Getting the lids evenly coated took about four coats, but I'm not a very experienced spray paint user.  The pumpkins called for 24 canning jar lids.  After watching a couple of videos, I chose to use large zip ties to hold them into the pumpkin shape. Fortunately, I also had some of those on hand.  The only thing I purchased for the project was the spray paint. 

That worked pretty well and was more secure, I thought, than raffia or yarn. 

I had just enough cinnamon sticks in the cupboard to make two pumpkin stems.  I hot glued the sticks together and into the center, and used the raffia to cover up the glue.  I also cut a couple of circles of scrapbooking stock and hot glued those to the pumpkin bottoms to help keep the sticks in.  Pretty cute, huh?  I gave DD Elaine one and kept the other.  I haven't got any real pumpkins yet, but grandson Cove (20 months) visited the pumpkin patch the other day with his mom and dad. 

He had a good time riding in the cart with the three big family pumpkins and carrying around a warty gourd.  Not pictured is a tiny pumpkin that represents his baby brother arriving in March.  Cove spent the night with Mimi and Papa last night and the better part of today and we had a great time playing, as usual. We look forward to meeting our next grandson in another few months!  This grandparent gig is the best :)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Spooky Break

I'm taking a short break from the Timber Quilt, which has progressed to a lot of completed sections:
And just four additional blocks before assembly into a top. However, since my new deadline for this quilt is Christmas, I'm paying attention to a long neglected small project for Halloween. 
I designed this to use up some cherished charm pack scraps of a Minnick & Simpson Halloween line. Everything else came from stash and my own scraps. I've pin basted for black buttonhole stitching/quilting and may bring the backing to the front to finish. I'm happily home from work this morning as my doctor is out of town today and Monday. 

After being sick and then out of town, not to mention the dang heat, there has been little sewing happening. Time to remedy that!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Weekend Bliss

Grant and I left town early Friday afternoon, heading north away from the record-breaking heat. We had two events,  a celebration of life for a longtime childhood neighbor of mine, and the wedding of DD Elaine's best friend. Luckily, though both on the same day, in different cities, they were at least in the same direction from home:). 

We stayed in Arroyo Grande the first night. It's hard to describe what a relief an air-conditioned room was to our long-baked nights of this summer and fall. We had dinner with my old neighborhood family, some of whom I hadn't seen in decades. Their lovely mother had a massive stroke and passed away a few months ago. It was wonderful that her five children were all with her at the hospital. 
We reluctantly left our cooled room at checkout and drove the short distance to Pismo Beach for the Celebration the next day. Being a bit early, we parked at a charming city park in Shell Beach and walked the cliffside path. This view is towards Pismo. Our selfie pic was from this spot. 
And looking west. It was a beautiful day and we greeted other old neighbors with joy. Two of my brothers made it to the celebration too. Grant and I had to leave early to head inland to Solvang/Santa Ynez for the wedding, which was at a winery beside the grapevines. 
It was hot but what a lovely setting. DD Elaine was the Matron of Honor. 
I caught her walking down the aisle. 

The beautiful bride and her groom were married by a very good friend who did a lovely job. The happy couple were cheered and applauded. The reception took place outside as well. Our table was on the lawn beyond a covered patio, near a huge Live Oak tree.  We had a good time chatting with our dinner companions as the sun sank. Just at dusk, a thick concentration of flying insects rose out of some bushes, followed quickly by a squadron of small bats. It was entertaining to watch them swoop and whirl. The rest of the evening went by with plenty of dancing and conversation. It was lovely. 

After another air-conditioned night in a hotel, and breakfast out with our kids, we hit the highway and returned to our hot house , where I promptly took a 2 hour nap. We wrapped up the weekend with another beach visit late in the afternoon, followed by fish tacos at our favorite restaurant. Monday is here too soon, but we'll revisit our fond memories of an enjoyable weekend away. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Still Timbering

Lots of sewing and cutting and double checking parts and diagrams happening here. 

The center section completed, I moved on to multiple other sections. 
None of these are entirely complete but it looks like progress, doesn't it? Speaking of Timber, a couple of weeks ago my brother texted, asking if I were home, and then said he was coming over with his chainsaw. The prolonged drought had killed our ornamental pear tree and it needed to come down. 

Within about 15 minutes our view changed forever. 
Someone else likes the debris still in the yard:
Mini finds this a great scratching post!

I'm home sick today with a fast moving cold and if I can stay upright for long, will stitch and cut on Timber. I'm pretty tired of blowing my nose already!

Some Sewing and Scenery

I've been spending little time in the sewing room lately, sewing a few blocks and rows together here and there, but not making much prog...