Monday, May 31, 2010

Rooster Tales

I started this quilt a couple of years ago in a Bethany Reynolds Stack-n-Whack workshop. After making seven blocks, I didn't much care for it so I buried it in the closet. A few weeks ago I decided it was time to either rejuvenate the project or get rid of it, so I added it to my Power of Ten rotation.

Over the last two days I spent a few hours here and there sewing the last five blocks. I'm adding these red and blue triangles to the corners of the blocks, and the top row is sewn together. Now I've decided I like the project well enough to finish it. No idea what I'll do for borders yet. I'll leave that for the next work session.

Even if the fabric is nothing special (like mine), it's still fun to see what the kaleidoscopes will look like when they're assembled.

Memorial Day

"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost." ----Arthur Ashe

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Interchangeable Bag

I had such a fun day yesterday at quilt group. We had a workshop to make these interchangeable bags, and all of them turned out so cute. It's a great way to use those novelty fabrics that are too small for a pillowcase and you can't think what else to do with them. What's unique about the bag is that the knobs at the ends of the handles unscrew so you can slide the handles out of the fabric casing and switch out the bag bottom with another one.

The bag bottom was pretty easy to make, and it wound up being about a four-hour project. Now that I know how to do it, I expect the next one would go faster. There are four pockets inside the bag, which are just the right size for a cell phone, a tissue pack, keys, or whatever. If you wanted to, it wouldn't be difficult to alter the pocket dimensions to accomodate the things you like to carry in your purse.

There are a couple of commercial patterns available. We used this one called "Sassy Snappy Purse" from Pleasant Pond Studio. You can contact the designer at

Knitting Problem Fixed

The original photo probably wasn't the best to identify the problem with the hoodie; but if you guessed that the neck shaping was done incorrectly, you were right. This is a better photo of the front of the hoodie. Looks like a turtleneck, doesn't it?

The instructions were crystal clear that shaping was to begin at the center front, and I did it exactly backwards so that the shaping is at the shoulders instead of the neck. I can't tell you what thought process went through my head; but, hey, at least I was consistent--I knitted both front sections the same wrong way.

This is how the neck should be shaped--like...well, a neckline. Even the top buttonhole wound up where it's supposed to be. It wasn't nearly as complicated or time consuming to fix the knitting as I anticipated. Now maybe I'm ready to start sewing the seams together.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Christmas Lights

Yesterday I worked on Quilt #3 in my rotation, which is Bonnie Hunter's "Christmas Lights" quilt that appeared last year in Quiltmaker as a mystery quilt. It's been sitting on my design wall since then, and I finally got the last 8 blocks sewn together. Next time I work on it I'll be sewing the rows together.

Later in the day, I realized one of the four patch units in the bottom row was turned the wrong way, but it's fixed now. I wish all my mistakes were so easy to correct.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Okay, this is a test for all you knitters out there. I've been working on this little hoodie for my niece for the last month, and I was very happy to finish knitting the second sleeve this morning. Obviously I still have to seam it together. My niece is due on June 1, so I thought I had just enough time to finish the seams and get it in the mail. Not!

As I was contemplating how to start sewing it together, it suddenly dawned on me that I made a very big mistake in the knitting. Anybody see the problem?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

String Quilt

I redid my Power of Ten list (in the sidebar) last week and resolved to make it work better for me than it did last year. I got the idea from my good friend Barb, and I dutifully made up my list but it never really got off the ground. The original idea was to choose ten quilts and work on each one in succession for only three hours, but I may or may not have a chance to work on the quilts every day.

The first quilt in my rotation is the Double Hourglass. I blogged about this one not too long ago, and all I've done since then is get it loaded on the frame. It won't actually come up in the rotation again for a little while, but I'd like to try and start quilting it on Sunday. I don't like to have a quilt on the frame for too long.

This string quilt is the second quilt in the rotation. It's called "Loose Change", and my son saw it in a book called String Quilts With Style by Bobbie Aug. He loves the pattern, so I'm making it for him. It started out as a leaders and enders project, but I was having such a good time with it that I wanted to spend more time on it, so I added it to the list.

Not only is this quilt a great way to use up a bunch of scraps, but I don't have to struggle with fabrics and colors. I can just pick up a scrap of fabric and sew it on. I keep the scraps I'm using for this project in a shallow plastic bin so they're easily accessible. As the scraps get used, I replenish the bin with bits and pieces from other projects, from friends, and from my regular scrap bins; so there is an ever changing variety.

The blocks are pieced on a foundation that is cut 4" x 8". I'm going to sew them together just as they are in the photo from the book, with a burgundy batik in between the string pieced blocks. The original quilt called for 90 blocks, but I'll need 144 blocks for my queen sized quilt. I have a stack of about 80 done now. Got a ways to go.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Second Finish for May

I put the last stitch into the binding of my Hourglass Log Cabin this morning. The top sat unfinished for nearly a year while I tried to decide how I wanted to quilt it. The quilt measures only 24" x 24", so it seemed a little silly to load it on the long arm, nor did I want to stitch in the ditch or hand quilt. I'm no good at free motion quilting either, so there weren't a lot of other options.

I considered trying to machine embroider a quilt design in each set of four blocks but decided there might be too much of a learning curve. I'd still like to try that at some point, just not right now.

I finally decided to try stitching a design through the Golden Threads paper. Golden Threads quilting paper is a thin, translucent, gold-colored paper that is used as a no-mark method of creating a quilt stencil. It's available on a 20-yard roll in three different widths, and I'd guess it's available in most quilt shops. It's like tracing paper, but it seems to be more durable. I pinned and repinned the paper, stuck tape on it, rolled it and rerolled it, and generally abused it in the quilting process, and it never tore. However when I was ready to remove it, it tore off very easily and cleanly. It even came off pretty easily in those tight places where there was a concentration of stitches.

Here's how I did it. I chose a design from Electric Quilt's Quilting Designs series. After I drafted the log cabin into my EQ program, I imported the quilt design and sized it to fit my blocks. Then I printed out the design and traced several sequences of the pattern to create a small continuous-line pantograph. Next I pinned it to my quilt ready for quilting. Because the paper is translucent, I could see exactly where I wanted to position it. The pins poked me too many times, so I switched to double sided tape which worked just as well.

I used a walking foot to quilt the design, which meant I had to pivot the quilt round and round to stitch on my line. It might have been tedious except that I got pretty engrossed in it. I suppose you could do this on a larger quilt too, but if the quilt were too big it would more difficult to roll it up and maneuver around the needle. Free motion quilting would probably make it much faster.

This method worked so well for me that I'm excited to try it again, so I dug out the Pineapple Blossom quilt to work on, which will also measure 24" x 24".

Friday, May 14, 2010

Star Crazy BOM, May

With this set of blocks, I'm all caught up now and glad for it. I like these little 4-inch blocks in the centers so much that I'm tempted to start a miniature quilt. I bought a couple of Fat Quarter Quilting patterns by Lori Smith on our road trip Wednesday that make up into small quilts 16" x 20", and the blocks finish at 4 inches square. They're so cute!

There were 15 of us that went on the road trip to Pickering Farms quilt shop in New Hampshire, and we did have a great time. The owner Diana has a great collections of 30s reproductions, Civil War prints, and more; and I stocked up on the Civil War prints. Most of the new ones are for an upcoming mystery quilt I want to do.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Star Crazy BOM for April

Here are my April blocks, and the companion triangles are done too. I love the star in a star block--my favorite so far. Tonight I cut out all the pieces for the May blocks, and I'll start knocking those out on Thursday. Almost there!

The Tacoma Lakes Quilters are taking a road trip tomorrow to a quilt shop in New Hampshire. Lunch and supper on the road, and it should be a fun day.

My finger is healing well. It's still bandaged to protect it, but I downsized the bandage so it's not so awkward that I can't get back to some handpiecing. I'm two weeks behind with the hexagon blocks, and I'll get those caught up too.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Star Crazy BOM, March

I'm behind with my blocks, but I'm not worried about catching up. Now that I've finished the two big quilts that had the deadlines, I have more time to work on these blocks.

I finished the March blocks this evening plus the requisite half square triangle units, another 48. There sure are a lot of those in the borders. I use them as leaders and enders while I'm sewing the blocks, and that makes them go much faster.

I have lots of cutting to do over the weekend for some new quilts, but I hope to get some more Star Crazy blocks done on Monday.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May Finish

The deadline for the Morningstar quilt challenge was today, and I put the last stitch into the binding at 8:00 am. We had a lovely show and tell of fifteen Morningstar quilts at the Tacoma Lakes meeting this morning, and there were a few we hadn't seen before. The ladies all did a great job.

I used the Frisky Feathers pantograph from Willow Leaf for the quilting. Since I hadn't stitched it before, I practiced on a little strippy first. Still have to bind the strippy, and it will become a donation quilt.

I like to play around with my quilt labels, and I get bored pretty quickly with the same ones every time. The other day I happened to see a post on the Selvage Blog about a quilter who used some selvages in her label. I still like my embroidered labels the best, but it did occur to me to use the selvage from the border fabric to bind one edge of the label. I like having both the copyright date and the color dots on this selvage.

Yes, I know tomorrow is May 6--I actually finished a day early. Too late to change it now!