Monday, November 28, 2011

And On To Step One And A Half...

I know, I know, you're saying, "But you were already on Step Two, weren't you?" Well, yes. This afternoon I finished sewing and pressing and trimming the last batch of the 72 little purple string blocks. The only thing that I haven't done is to pull the paper off the back, so they still look a little curly. I like to leave the papers on until the last minute before using them. That way their shape stays true. So here they are! Hooray!

But something has been bothering me about my Step 1 quality control. I think that my fast & furious campaign to get all 224 done quickly meant that my 2 1/2" measure was off too much to ignore. Then, rummaging around in my ruler holder, I found the perfect thing! A 2 1/2" square ruler! How cute! I do not recall buying this one, unless it was part of that big 4 or 5 piece set of Omnigrid square rulers that I got a few years back with a Joann's 50% off coupon.

So I foresee at few sessions of sliver trimming on my QST's for the next days. I hope that I do not discover any that are undersized! So quality control work is my "Step 1 1/2" for now.
As for CyberMonday, I was pretty good. But when Keepsake offered 20% off, I did order one more package of "Chocolate & Creams" 2 1/2" strips to go with the one I already owned from this past summer's sale. I was so pleased with the quality and the fact that they did NOT have pinked edges which I personally dislike. I want to use these in one of those cool prairie braid quilts. There is the plain braid or the Texas braid with the red square accent and I'm not at all sure which design I prefer. So I's jus' cogitatin'! We'll see, and that's final! LOL!
Who can resist Chocolate and Cream? LOL!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Very First "Real" Quilt

For ten years, I was a "wanna-be quilter". I would talk about quilts. I would buy tons of cotton yard goods and quilt books and magazines. I would go to guild meetings. But I never actually made a quilt that was quilted.

So when I quit smoking December 31st, 2008, I discovered that I needed something to do with my hands and went back to piecing in earnest. My UFO was a matchy-uppy design made from hand-dyed orange fabric that I had made at a workshop on fabric dying. I allowed myself to arrange to have the top quilted by Linda Monasky of The Bear Paw Gallery She did a fabulous job and my life was changed. I had a quilt made, not just talked about! It went to my sister in Connecticut for Christmas and she still loves it dearly.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Orca Bay Two-Step

We enjoyed a lovely, homey Thanksgiving with hubby, Felix, son, Matthew, and me with a stuffed twelve pound turkey with all the fixings. At grace, we each gave voice to what we are giving thanks to God for. It did not surprise me a bit that the top of everyone's list was each other. No pictures, you'll just hafta trust me.

As for today, although I an NOT usually a Black Friday shopper, I did go up to Laconia to Joann's for some fine bargains on 100% cotton flannels that I like to piece together for my quilt backs. They are sooooooo snuggly! Most of the available selections were very loud and garish or hopelessly juvenile. But I did score these three, a solid brown, 8 yards, a solid denim blue, also 8 yards, and a very funny brown pawprints that was a scant 7 yards.

I got all the way home and was proudly showing Felix my bargains and when I began to describe the larger 15 yard bolt that I had passed on getting, it made me wish I had gotten it. It ate at me. I gave up and got in the car and drove all the way back! The bolt that I wanted was still there and a few more bolts had been added to the wheeled cart. There was a deep brown and cream flannel print that was a PERFECT match to the cream colored one. So I just grabbed both! At $1.49 a yard, how can I go wrong?

That off-white cream color I just love to pieces but I fear that it will show every speck of dirt and doghair which is why I had hesitated to buy it in the first place. Maybe I can make the edges of the backing in the brown? I hafta piece it anyway, right? Hmmmm, we'll see.

We had a delish supper of leftover turkey meat mixed with egg noodles, gravy, and pimentoes (the guys both love mushrooms, so they added those to theirs on the plate, out of respect that I don't care for them). We polished off the last of the green bean & French's fried onion casserole, too. Yes, I know that it is made with Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup, but honestly, it doesn't taste like mushrooms! So I love it. LOL!!!

Then it was on to Step 2 of Orca Bay. I cut the 72 foundation papers out of my $2 tag sale bonanza of a ream of Stratford duplication master paper. It is translucent so it also works as a heavy weight tracing paper. Since it is 8 1/2"x14" there was very little waste. And since I have exactly 72 papers cut, I will not need to count them as I go.

My Orca calls for purple instead of blue and I keep my yardage uncut until the need arises. So it was time to create a mess of purple strings! Yahoo, jellybean colors!

I got 12 little string blocks all made and I love the way that they look!

Maybe tomorrow I will do a bunch more, but whenever my shoulders start to ache a bit, I realize that it's time to give it a rest. I only want to do this when it is fun, not a chore. When it stops being fun, I quit. LOL!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yippee! Snow Day!

Big silver dollar-sized flakes and about 6 inches of wet sticky snow fell last night and this morning. It turned everything into the marshmallow world famed in song. I love it! Perfect weather for quilting.
This is looking down the driveway at a very slippery Route 140, and the next picture is of the DWARF (sigh, it just kept growing) Alberta Spruce that is our Christmas tree.
And here's the back deck, care for a picnic lunch? LOL!
I also wanted to tell you about what I learned using the Companion Ruler while working on Bonnie's Orca Bay. When I bought the ruler, either there were no instructions, or, more likely, I threw them away. As I looked at Bonnie's blog pictures, I thought that I was supposed to slide the ruler over horizontally to make the next cuts, one up the right, then down the left (which is very awkward). Now I think that this is wrong and that you are supposed to flip the whole ruler upside down to make the next cut.

In the last photo, it shows where I slid the ruler over to the right on top of the stack of starched strips, but went far enough to allow for the blunt tip on the bottom space for seam allowances. So I would cut upwards on the right side and downwards on the left side. I don't think that this was correct.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Visiting The Golden Gese Quilt Shop

One of the best kept secrets in Concord is The Golden Gese Quilt Shop owned by Nancy Gesen (hence the unusual spelling in the shop's name). The quaint little building on 22 Liberty Street is kinda near the Concord High School and has quite a history of it's own. It was originally the stables of the Concord Fire Department. Later, it was bought by a family who ran an abattoire (slaughterhouse) and butcher shop. Now it is clean and modernized but it retains that country charm of well-worn and much treasured older buildings.

On November 5th, I enjoyed myself at The Golden Gese's sponsored workshop put on by one of their employees named Charlene. It was Bonnie's Patches & Pinwheels that you have been reading about as I have posted on making the 16-patches and pinwheel blocks. I like to do the final layout of completed blocks on the nice clean asphalt of my own driveway, but today was just a tad too breezy for that!

It being that Charlene works on Mondays, I called the shop (603 228-5540) and was immediately encouraged to come right over to do my layout on the big table in the workroom at no additional charge.

Laying out a quilt, even on a table rather than the ground, is still a lot of physical effort. By the time that I got this big beauty arranged, I had broken into a full sweat and needed a shower! LOL!

The gal in the photo was from the upstairs sit and sew group who came down to see the layout and was admiring it.
Charlene was very helpful, making certain that nothing was turned the wrong way. After it was laid out and photographed, I took little slips of paper, numbered from 1 through 15, and pinned them to the first leftmost block all the way down the columns. So there were 15 columns down.
Next, I picked up all of Row 1, taking great care to always place the first block on top of the next one as I went all the way across the 13 blocks of that particular row. When that row was done, I set it aside and continued working on picking up the next Row until I had them all picked up into stacks that were labeled with the slip of paper right on top. I put Row 15 into the bottom of my green deep basket and placed 14 on top of it next, and so forth. I think it took me about half an hour to place all the blocks on the table, and then another half an hour to carefully pick them all up.
Soon, I had a quilt-in-a-basket!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Generic Best Press Recipe

In my last post, I mentioned pressing with my own homemade bestpress starch solution and I've been asked to give the recipe.

In a clean large jug, mix:

4 Cups of water
2 Cups of liquid starch
4 ounces of Vodka
10 drops of essential oil fragrance

Many quilters have questioned me about the Vodka. As an alcohol, it acts as a natural preservative, but in addition to that, it will chemically mix with BOTH the water and the oil of the scent to emulsify them together. I keep my jug right on the cellar stairs and it keeps for a year that I know of, I hafta make more after that because I use it up. I fill my little spray bottle often and always shake it before using because the starch settles.
I bought the liquid starch at my grocery store and it cost $3 in March of 2010 and I still have almost half a jug.
Today I threw my shoulder to the wheel on my last group of pinwheel blocks and completed 37 in a couple of hours. That means that I've done 97 pinwheel blocks and I think it was 100 of the 16 patches in two weeks, exactly. Whew! That's like lightening for me because I'm a slow sewer.
I wanted so much to get them done to empty my pie basket so that it can now hold my Orca Bay quarter square triangles.
I'm up to 120 done now, so I only need another 100 or so. Yippee!!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Orca Bay Excitement!

Oh my! Today was the very first clue, and it was a DOOZY!!! 224 Quarter-Square Triangles. Husband Wonderful, Felix, made me a special breakfast to call me up from the Quilt Cave to eat. It was my favorite, sauted shaved steak and eggs with English muffins!
I had planned to use red, purple, & green for Orca Bay, but when I saw the first clue used blacks with neutrals for the QST's, I became concerned that perhaps none of my colors would be a dark enough note for the design.
So I decided to go ahead and use some blacks for this step.

I sliced and diced and sewed and pressed! I got about 20 QST's done, but it sure was slow to feed them through the machine. They kept slipping out of alignment. Then it was time to go get Matthew from college to come home for the weekend and his job at the recycling center here in town. After his classes, he just wanted to loaf a little with Raven.
I admit to feeling a little annoyed that I had to leave the patchwork fun to go fetch Matthew, but it turned out to be a very good thing!
While I was gone, Subee posted in our group a couple of neat tips; stack and STARCH! OMG! I was stacking my strips to cut four layers at a time, but I had not been using my homemade bestpress! I tried it in the afternoon and I was really impressed with how the starch made cutting crisper and feeding through the machine much easier. Thank you, Subee!
By the time my after-supper session was done, I had 70 QST's made. That's about a third, I guess.

Trimming all those dogears on the corners of the ends of the seams sure does make a big linty mess on the ironing board. But I had recently bought some Scotch lint removers at Joann's and I tried running that over the whole mess. It picked it up wonderfully and it only used one sheet from the roll, so I was very happy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trucking Along

Today, after my Zumba dancing class, I did some more piecing on my Patches & Pinwheels scrap quilt. This one I began on November 5th at the Saturday workshop at the Golden Gese quilt shop in Concord. I'm staying very busy with it until Bonnie comes out with the first clue for Orca Bay, her newest mystery quilt.
Last night I had completed all the 388 HST's to do the pinwheels:

I put them all into this nice pie basket that I had gotten this summer over in the Shaker village. It is wonderful because it holds all 388 with lots of room to see which one I want to pick up next, or even to rummage around a little bit looking for a particular color. Isn't it funny what we do to try to achieve the very best scrappy "RANDOM" look????? LOL! I cheat on the random look all the time!

So today I was putting four half square triangles together to make the pinwheel block. The instructions call for 48 spinning to the right and 49 spinning to the left so that they can go into alternating rows. I got all 49 done today of one kind, the lefties, I guess.

Each one of these has been pressed with my own homemade bestpress. Mine is loaded with carnation flowers essential oil fragrance. I love it! I press away in a big cloud of the scent. I swear it gets me high. I'm not allowed to use it for any of my swaps due to deference to the anti-perfume killjoy crowds. So whenever it is just for me that I'm pressing, I get out the good stuff.
 If you look at this very last picture carefully, you will see that one block has been pinned up on the plywood for reference. That one is spinning in the opposite direction from the 49 that I just completed. So now I need the 48 of these. I may not be able to get them done before mystery time but I'll try!
My Blue Ridge Beauty is temporarily banished to the, "Yuck, this is too hard" department. We'll see if it ever gets done. It may become part of my estate! LOL!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Methodist

Although I call myself a Unitarian, my work habits on making these 388 HST's has developed some fine tuning. So I'm all about methods. I mean, a quilt pattern reads, "Make 388 light/dark HST's." Then, you are on your own!

What I learned, when I'm making so many with the Omnigrid right angle ruler, is to stack up FOUR of the 3 1/2" wide strips so that I'm cutting two pairs at once. Nobody mentions that. You hafta figure it out for yourself.

And I like to stack 5 of the doubled pairs to carry them over to the sewing machine from the cutting table so that I know that that stack will be 10 HST's when sewn. I chain piece them, one right after another, to save thread.

But here's another methodist finer-point that I learned today; ALWAYS stack the DARK ON TOP OF THE LIGHT at the cutting board!!!! This way, when you are finished sewing them in chains, they go right to the ironing board oriented in the correct direction for the dark to be on top for pressing to the dark side.

If you think I'm nit-picking, just look at the way I did yesterday's with the one turned wrong way around. I had to cut it out of the chain to be able to reverse it. See what I mean?

The green one on the far right is upside down for pressing to the dark!
Another little trick that I use is to keep my count straight at all times. I count and recount my set of ten completed units, so that I'm sure there are ten on the pile. Then, the next ten units are placed kitty-corner on the pile for a count of twenty. I build piles this way until there is a stack of fifty units in the pile and then I start a new pile. More than fifty usually gets too tippy and you don't want them to all fall over. So here is a row of HST's that are four rows of fifty-unit stacks for a total of 200 done! yippee!
Here are the two 50-unit stacks of the 16-patches all done! Wheee! Now to do some more of the HST's.

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