Wednesday, November 19, 2014

On The Merits Of Motivation

Procrastination gets a bad rap from all those high-energy pundits that would have you go, go, go, right out straight all the time. I say you should loaf a little. It's good for ya!

While I am avoiding selecting a binding fabric for my Celtic Solstice ( that's right, I haven't even decided yet), my sewing machine has the constant lure of little pieces itching to become more Sunny Lanes blocks. It looks like a small Civil War confetti-bomb went off.

Charlene, over at The Golden Gese quilt shop in Concord, New Hampshire, had given me a bagful of her personal culls of Civil War stuff. Thank you, Charlene!!! Look at these pretties!

Up against the rough plywood wall by my machine, I pinned up a single Sunny Lanes block as an example to look at as I sew along.
It helps prevent sewing pieces "bass-ackwards," with the subsequent ripping out afterwards. The tricky part are the mirror images in the parallelograms.

Because I'm doing those 3" Bonus HST's, it goes slowly.

We'll see what comes of those! But in the meantime, slow projects can keep you busy for a long time, without a finish. So maybe your mojo needs a booster shot.  Ahh, then it's pillowcase time!  The tutorial is here if you need it. Here is one of a pair that I did at The Alton Senior Center on Tuesday.

Keep a mindful eye on pacing yourself so that you don't get burned out. Remember to give yourself lots of pats on the back for your progress. Chocolate helps, too, LOL!

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Working On Celtic Solstice

Both yesterday and today, I worked very hard on my Celtic Solstice. It is a great quilt and I'm very proud of how it's coming out even though it isn't quite finished yet.

THANK YOU to Bonnie K. Hunter for great designs and great instructions!!! If you have never visited her blog, Quiltville's Quips & Snips, then you should go and explore it!

Yesterday was my "piece the backing" day. Lately, I've gotten fat and lazy about my backing fabrics by just buying oatmeal-colored wide woven cottons. But I had a fabulous 8 yard piece of forest green flannel with cream colored stars by David Textiles that had been bought at Marden's of Sanford, Maine. I took it to the local laundromat to prewash it as a whole piece in one of their front loaders. An 8 yard piece would kill my old top loader with it's agitator.
Flannel shrinks. Period. You gotta prewash it in hot water and dry it HARD to make it safe to use on the back of your quilt. But I was fearful that with this big 89" square queen quilt top that I might not have enough length of backing to use it after prewashing.
So I held my breath. After all that, I measured out 41" width-of-fabric swaths that were in three even lengths. My neighbor, Ilse, helped me with the big folds until we got it perfectly even. It measured 99" for each swath! Yippeee!
That was enough to sew two long seams on the three pieces for a backing. I did trim the third swath to a 20 1/2" wide width to remove the excess. Ahh, a 99" square!

I also had some angst about my queen sized packaged batting of Warm & Natural by the Warm Company. It listed the contents as  90" by 108", which made me fearful that there would not be enough extra width for quilting on a longarm.

At Ellen Peters' "Cat's Whiskers" quilt studio in Laconia, New Hampshire, we were delighted to open the package to find that the actual measure of the width was 96". Yippee!! Thank you, Warm Company!

So today, Ellen got me all loaded up on her 24" HandiQuilter Fusion and I was off to quilting the top.

Ellen is a wizard at loading the quilt.

There are several steps to it, and they must be done in the right sequence. For all the quilts that I've done there, I am as stupid at loading quilts as Jonathan Gruber (Obamacare author) thinks I am as a voter, LOL!

For the quilting, I tried my very best to do Angela Walter's Paisley Feathers in the wide green borders. Her video is wonderful and I watched it over and over to learn her technique. Thank you, Angela!  Her link is here. 

Those feathers consume more time, effort, and thread than I wanted to invest on the whole quilt, so I just did the feathers on the borders and big loose spirals in the body of the quilt's center, instead of the paisley feathers. It was challenging to go back and forth between the two patterns as I worked across the panels of visible work area.

My thread choice was a variegated antique tan with a black bobbin thread. I was going for a very subtle look. It was important to me that the quilting did not obscure the piecing patterns.

Ellen wound four bobbins for me, one at a time, and also helped me to remove the quilt when it was done. A huge THANK YOU to you, Ellen!

I spent three solid hours quilting this quilt, and Boy, Howdy, was I ever tired and sore at the end of it!!!
But it was worth it!

When I got home, I made a fresh pot of New England Coffee's Chocolate Cappuccino, poured myself a mug of it and just sat. It felt great. I got my second wind and had just a bit of daylight left to trim the quilt on the dry driveway.

Tomorrow rain and possibly sleet are predicted, so it made sense to seize the day. I lopped off the excess batting and backing with titanium scissors. And a kneeling pad. I'm careful to work counter clockwise so that I am always kneeling on top of the quilt itself, too. That extra cushioning helps. Fifteen minutes later it was done.

I re-measured the quilt, now that it was quilted, and it came out 89"x 90". Go figure. The quilting didn't shrink it up this time.
As Scarlett O' Hara would say, "I'll think about binding tomorrow."

Happy sewing!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Snow, Sun,Wind, and Quilts To Be

For the moment, I have dropped off working on Sunny Lanes blocks in spite of my delight that they are now officially a swap over at Blockswappers.

What greeted me this morning was another delight; our first dusting! Yippee, SNOW!!!!!

The distant shapes beside the orchard trees are the garden's tomato cages and a few bales of mulch hay that were unused extras. Last night, Felix harvested the last straggler leaves of bright green and red Swiss Chard. We love it lightly steamed and then served with balsamic vinegar and a few shakes of Parmesan cheese. Yummy!

My self-imposed deadline is approaching for Celtic Solstice, as we near the one year mark for it, and the start of the newest Bonnie K. Hunter mystery, Grand Illusion Mystery.

I had some trouble smoothing out my final borders on the center of the quilt top to get the perfectly fitting measure of the borders.
No, it wasn't the snow that stopped me! It was quickly gone and the asphalt dry by 10:00 in the morning. But oh, that wind! See how it wouldn't even give me a few seconds to snap a picture for you? LOL! Here you can make out that only two of the green borders are attached.

By the way, I am thrilled to tell you that I auditioned fabrics like mad crazy for those final borders and nothing looked right to me, UNTIL I shopped my stash of the Civil War shelves. Buried under some Prussian Blues was this Moda design by Terry Clothier Thompson called "Louisa." It's a green and tan modified gingham that just hit the spot!

After I waited for the wind to die down a wee bit, I was able to get the last border measured and cut, then pinned and sewn.

It was almost dusk and I was losing my light for the pictures.

It measures 89" by 89" before quilting, and I know that it will "shrink up" a bit from that. I am so very happy with the way that it looks!!!

In the above picture, please ignore the camera strap that was dangling into the base of the photo. I can't wait to get this top quilted and bound, it is so pretty! Thank you, Bonnie for another marvelous mystery!

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Joyous Veteran's Day!

Although I forgot to take a picture of it, I made up a really nice potted plant with a sign that said, "Thank you for your service!" to give to Matthew's 86 year old veteran father in the nursing home.  It was an easy-to-care-for pothos foliage plant that I had grown myself from cuttings.
Matthew took it down there today and when he returned, he was grinning and said that his father, John Abraham, was delighted with with the plant!
John served in World War II and, later, in the Korean War as well. We are indebted to all our veterans, young and old, men and women, who have put themselves in the service of our country.

This not-quite-patriotic small quilt is now finished. It measures 17" by 31" which is such a queer size that I may wash it in the hope that it might shrink to something more normal.

Although I may have shown it before on this blog, what is new is that I have quilted my signature and the year onto it with Free Motion Quilting. Leah Day and her wonderful  FMQ free videos on her website have given me the confidence to keep trying FMQ. I needed to be very fresh and sharp to do it and it requires lots of stops and starts between certain letters. It looks better than a label on a small quilt.

My quilting is still pretty herky-jerky but it adds lots of character to my little primitive style pieces. This one has a plain tea-bag tan muslin backing.

I quilted it from the front or top, as it were, and that allowed me a view of the large quaint old vintage florals to outline them.

Miss Tanner loved the whole effect!

As I had a "finish", I felt that I had earned a new "start." My palms have been itching to begin a "Sunny Lanes" quilt in a 12" block size with Civil War scrappy four-patches. If you'd like to sew along with me, the block instructions are on Quilter's Cache. 
The four-patches for it began with 2" squares, which I have been hoarding for years! Yippee! A use for them at last!

And my new mechanical pencil, given to me by my friend, Grace, sure came in handy for marking diagonals across the 3 1/2" squares. Thank you again, Grace!

The "lanes" are that lovely creamy white of Kona Snow that Missouri Star Quilt Company offered on their Daily Deal a few weeks back. So glad that I bought 2 yards! They have neat Daily Deals!

The golden tone-on-tone tan is by Kansas Troubles by Moda. It has just enough pattern to not be boring without overpowering the Civil War selections.

So far, I'm very pleased with the blocks, but amazed at how long they take me to put together and press them. I can do two a day.
Harrumph! Somehow I always feel like I'm not fast enough. Do you ever get those critical little inner voices, too, LOL? Hush, hush, and pass the Hersey's Milk Chocolate Nuggets, please.

Happy sewing!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Saturday's Filtered Rays

The blessed sun shone today! It had been gloomy and rainy for several days. My neutrals for the upcoming swap December 15th just got their final rinse through it all and were dry at last.

Yesterday at the Golden Gese Quilt Shop in Concord, New Hampshire, I sewed with The Friday Quilter's.

Maureen was working on some cute machine applique snow men.

Maureen was happy to show  her finished quilt, too. She had put a light blue minky-type fabric on the back for the extra cuddle factor, but she said she really noticed that all the quilting dulled her needle in her sewing machine.

Beverly was doing the snowmen, too.

Her quilt was back from the quilter and looked great!

With a satin backing, the loops, hearts and flowers really show nicely.

Beverly had her bright batiks Drunkard's Path quilt back from the quilter and it looked terrific!

As for me, I was worn out just from pressing Celtic Solstice and putting on the inner border. I must need more chocolate!

Miss Emma Lynne and Mr.Tipper enjoyed the walk back to the house from the clothesline with me. I loved the view of the Rambling Rose hips that will feed the cardinals this winter.

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

All Seven Rows Sewn!

The weather has been cooler and the skies are grim, but the wind has died down at last! Only the hardiest oak leaves are left on the trees. My hazelnut bushes' leaves are still on, but all crumpled up.

 No wind and no precipitation means my driveway is available for a layout. Yippee! So more progress was made on my Bonnie K. Hunter's design of Celtic Solstice.

I was very worried about my brilliant turquoise "pops" being nicely distributed throughout the quilt top's center, so I rearranged the rows three times.

It also made perfect sense to me to be spreading out and lifting up sewn rows instead of individual blocks. Why didn't I think of this before?!?!! If you have 49 blocks, that's a lot of bending and stretching to position each one individually, but the seven rows were a breeze to move to switch them. Here is the final arrangement that I settled upon:

This quilt had filled me with fear. When my sister, Suzanne, saw my two stacks of blocks beside each other on my ironing board, she could not believe that they were intended for the same quilt. The blocks looked so unrelated in both their colors and patterns. But the genius of Bonnie K. Hunter is that it does all work!! Thank you, Bonnie, for your fabulous design! I love this now!

Meanwhile, over at The Pearson Road Community Senior Center in Alton, New Hampshire, we had a great time sewing away and chomping chocolates!

I have learned that one bag of Hersey's Milk Chocolate Nuggets fits perfectly into an empty rinsed-out Parmesan cheese shaker. That is best for transport so that none of them escape into my tote bag. Ask me how I know, LOL!

Sue and Margorie were there but not in the picture. I am seen working on four patches made of  5" charm packs in a Moda pattern called Clermont Farms. I'm not using any pattern, just sewing four charm packs together for a random top.
I say "random", but in truth, I do edit the lights and darks for a good distribution. Each block is a 9" giant 4-patch. I plan on setting them 6 blocks by 7 blocks and then adding borders to the center for a couch-potato throw.

Hope your weather is cooperating with you, too!

Happy sewing!

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