Sunday, January 30, 2011

Guilty of EBay

There are times when I just sit like a slug in front of the computer for hours! One thing that I love to do is to look at all the completed quilts that are for sale there on EBay from all over the country. I study the designs and fabrics in the pictures. Seeing ANY quilt in a thumbnail picture will tell you almost instantly if the patchwork design has good impact.

At first, I was horrified that so many quilts were listed as, "cutter" quilts, to be cut up for crafts. What a sacrilege! Large numbers of quilts are being sold by quilt dealers and general antique dealers that were acquired at estate sales. Imagine; an estate and NO family member wanted the family quilts. That is so sad! It makes me wonder what will become of my handiwork. But I learn a lot about quilts, prices, and what is popular right now.

I have not bought quilts, but did fall in love with a few sets of contemporary made-up block sets that I got for under $20. I figured that I would not have been able to buy the fabric for that price. LOL At least, that was my justification! I put the blocks together with some sashing and borders from my stash and had lots of fun. I firmly believe that the blocks were probably made by illegal aliens for piece-work. Oh well.

I also have a weakness for signed baskets. Alright, almost ANY basket! I spent $5 on a Peterboro, NH basket that the Virginia owner had to charge me $8 to ship it to me back here in NH. It was still cheaper than I could have bought it at the factory. I really must go this year to their tent sale!

I also fell for a basket from a dealer who said that they had acquired it from a Halifax, Nova Scotia estate sale. To me it looks Native American Indian and old. I hope I can figure out how to do some research on it.
It is a wrapped coil construction that is 12 1/2" across and 4" tall in perfect condition. I just love it!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Roll, Roll Cotton Bowl Progress Continues!

Well, the 120 sawtooth strips are DONE!!!! Whew. That was such a struggle for me and I'm so glad to be sailing along on a new part of the mystery quilt.

Now I am working on what I know will become the fancy Seminole style border, which is the second part of Step 6. I got all 344 little Quarter Square Triangles (QST's) cut out. By using the Companion EZ Angle ruler on the 1 1/2" strips of chocolate brown fabric and cutting 8 layers at a time, it went very quickly. Usually I would cut fewer layers but I had gotten a great deal on EBay for Olfa 60mm replacement blades in December. So with a bright sharp blade, I sliced right through all those layers!
I sewed the brown triangles, chain-pieced, to one end of each of the "three-sies" and then pressed and clipped the dog-ears. I discovered that I had made 186 rather than 172, so I'll have a few extras. Maybe tonight I will begin sewing all the brown QST's onto the other end of the three-sies. I love to stack them into piles of ten to bask in the achievement of so many done. I sure am not the fastest on this mystery quilt, but I sure do know how to feel good when I've made progress!

This block layout is not sewed yet, you can see that's a good thing because one of my sawtooth strips, the one along the bottom does not match the others. I was playing with which way I like them. I also tried flipping the dark brown and pink HST's to the outer position, too. No idea what I'll do yet.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Poking Along on RRCB

Today is bright and sunny but cold! I sat outdoors for about 10 minutes and then ran in for more hot decaf tea.
I went downstairs into my basement Quilting Cave, determined to break the inertia problem of not having worked on RRCB, Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll mystery quilt in several days. In combining steps 5 & 6, I think I created a monster. I need 120 units of 5 HST's sewn together. I had 80 done. This morning I got another 10 done so that's 3/4's done! Focus on the positive, focus on the positive...
Sometimes as I am sewing on this project, I am using the next item to be sewn as my leader/ender. But I also keep a nice lil handful of pretty scraps just to the right side of the White Sewing Machine to piece together into little pouches for sachets. I make them about 3"X5" but they vary a bit. I fill them with natural potpourri in one of three scents; French Lavender, Dried Rose Petals, or Balsm Fir Needles. I sell them for $3.00 each or two for $5.00.
But I love to give them to distant friends by tucking one into a birthday card. I made two dozen as a gift for each person in Hospice Care locally. They are marvelous for hospice because the sense of smell in humans is one of the very last things to cease functioning in the process of dying, and these are fine for anyone who is bedridden. This little pouch had bright red, so I put dried Rose Petals into it. Sooooooooo nice!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Status Symbol

We all have to take pride in some areas of our lives. We need our status symbols. When I was in Foxboro High School, it was a status symbol for a girl to have the longest hair, or to wear nylons to school. When I was in high school, pantyhose had not yet been invented. We used garter belts!
Now that I'm 61 years old, I find that my status symbols have changed a lot. My big status symbol now is having a great big flag on a flagpole in my front yard. My flagpole is just slightly taller than the one for my town hall, now how's that for boasting?
My beat-up car is a 1989 Mercury Marquis sedan that is old enough to buy me an alcoholic beverage. But my flag is beautiful!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Step-by-Step Devil's Puzzle

To make the Devil's Puzzle block, with it's 16 HST's (Half Square Triangles), start by cutting 2 1/2" strips from your light, medium, and dark fabrics to use with your favorite right angle triangle ruler. Mine is an Omnigrid but there are several other brands.
Stack the the light strip on top of the dark strip with right sides together and trim the left side square.
Then turn the ruler to make your first cut; a diagonal running from northwest to southeast, or upper left towards lower right. On my ruler this is lined up on the 2" mark inside the little yellow circle. That's because these HST's will finish at 2"when sewn into a quilt. Please notice that at the upper edge there is a built-in notch.
After your first cut, flip the ruler around so that the two inch mark line is against the very top of the strip-set. Please note that the little clear pointed tip of the triangle ruler is SUPPOSED TO hang off the edge of the fabric. It is actually eliminating one set of dog ears to be trimmed. Now make your next cut, which is straight up-and down.
Make four light/dark sets of triangles and handle them gingerly to keep them together as you sew on the diagonal edge, or the hypotenuse.
Then make four of the same sets using medium/dark strip sets.
Then make eight of the same sets using medium/light strip sets.
Press all 16 open to the darker side.
Because this design is easily confused, I kept a small diagram right beside me at the sewing machine and double checked it as I sewed pairs, then pairs into four-across rows, then rows together. I had no mistakes! Yippee! Do the best you can making the seams nest.

Then it is off to the ironing board! I am guilty of slipping into back-and-forth ironing sometimes instead of lift-up-and-down pressing. Here is where you want true pressing! I do back and front, finishing with a bit of starch.

If you try this block, I hope you have as much fun as I did! It's also known as Winding Blades or Flyfoot.

Happy Epiphany! Happy Twelveth Night!

Hooray, the blessed sun is shining again today here in New Hampshire! Because I do seem to have some Seasonal Affective Disorder, I make it a point to bundle up and GO OUT and sit in the sun EVERY sunny day for 15 minutes. My winter sun is best in front of the garage doors, also protected from the northern winter wind.
I've been having fun the past few days with the "Devil's Puzzle" block from Barbara Brackman's new Civil War website:

The very first block uses Half Square Triangles and I was thrilled that my Omnigrid ruler cut them perfectly! My darling niece, Michelle, had given me a huge hatbox full of Keepsake Quilting scraps for my Christmas present from her. So here are my blocks! I think I just needed a short break from the intensity of the Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll Mystery quilt. Now I'll get back to the last 40 of the 120 sawtooth strips that I need to make.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Felix, Matthew, & I enjoyed a quiet evening at home with a yummy cheese fondue over crusty French bread. But the real coupe for me was that twenty minutes before midnight, I was able to finish hand-hemming the binding on Yankee Christmas, my version of Carolina Christmas!!!! Wow! I have been working on this big quilt for 13 months now. And it took  me a week to hem it.
Linda Monasky of The Bear Paw Gallery did a marvelous job on the quilting. She used "Mose's Home" as the all-over pattern in a varigated gold thread. It looks so good to have curvy lines breaking up the straight angles of the top.

The backing is a gold and cream-colored yarn-dyed flannel, and the batting is Warm & Natural cotton. This is a big heavy quilt to go on our master queen-sized bed. We struggle on fixed income with these terrible fuel oil bills, so keeping the thermostat setting low is a MUST. Warm quilts are welcome!
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