Saturday, June 22, 2013

So It's Official

As of yesterday's Summer Solstice, it is official that summer is really here.

The hot humid hazy weather has arrived and I put the two window AC units on at 6pm when I JUST COULD NOT STAND IT any longer! UGH I hate summer. Bugs dirt sand pollen heat humidity and all your food spoils so dang fast. I love winter! Make it snow.

I was delighted to hide downstairs in my Quilt Cave where it is so cooler. I decided to play with one of my late-at-night Ebay purchases for around $15 counting postage. Here it is; a Moda Scrap Bag of "Cattails and Clover" by Kansas Troubles, full of selvedged trimmings from where they made pre-cuts to sell.
I wanted to make a Quilt-As-You-Go strippy quilt. I'd never tried it before so this was new to me. I had a two yard hunk of the gold/brown print to use as the backing and I spread it out right side down on my driveway. Then I laid out some leftover high loft polyester Mountain Mist that I've had stored in my attic for at least 10 years and cut it to size.
I lifted up one half of the end of the thick batting to be able to spray baste the backside of the backing fabric with the June Taylor Basting Spray and smooth it and pat it into place. Then I did the other half.
Next, I trimmed off the excess backing fabric with scissors at approximately 48" which had been the width of the roll of batting. The fabric had been approximately 41" wide.
Now I was ready to try it. Off to the Quilt Cave!
First, I was a little disappointed to find that the strips in the scrap bag were NOT full width of fabric, so I needed to splice them together. I started at the short end of the right hand side and attached my first strip by placing it face down and offset to the very edge by about half an inch.
I stitched through all three layers to attach that first piece, and then flipped it over the stitching to have it facing right side up. I smoothed it flat with my hands and joined the next strip, face down on top of the first. Then I just kept adding more strips in the same way.
This is very similar to sewing string blocks onto a cloth foundation but you do need to spend a lot of time smoothing and fluffing. I only stitched about 6 inches at a time and then stopped and smoothed and fluffed the awkward backing/batting piece before continuing on the next 6 inches.
Each strip I added created a new vertical channel of quilted fabric. Notice that I am working from right to left here, with the blank batting to my left.
As I worked along, I rolled the already-quilted right hand side up and kept smoothing as I stitched. I found the unwashed fabric strips to be a little slippery to hold onto, so I used some rubberized cotton garden gloves that I had gotten at Walmart for $5. Be sure to pick up a pair while they are in season because they pack them away in warehouses after summer. Ask me how I know!
After I had progressed about halfway across the backing/batting piece, I switched it around and sewed down the other direction. Notice that in the above photograph, the white field is to my right now. I just kept stitching those strips down for an hour and then took a break and came back for another hour. It's easy but it takes time!
The last strip was this burnt orange floral and it got sewn twice; once here (above) from the wrong side, then again on the top of the right side to secure it to the end-edge (below).
It looked pretty good front and back, only a tiny pucker in the backing, not worth bothering about. It wouldn't have happened at all if I had ironed out the backing folds. I'll know next time not to be quite so slovenly, LOL!

Then I raced up to the driveway again to trim the edges as evenly as I could with scissors.

The top and bottom edges are definitely a little wonky but the overall effect is charming. I just love it!
There is only a little pile of slivers for waste.
 Here is what the fabrics look like:
This will be fun to share with The Sunshine Girls who did meet on Friday. Here is Pauline admiring Sue's Le Moyne Star at The Alton senior Center in New Hampshire.
Norma was pressing her hand piecing I think.
And on Kitty Patrol:
My Matthew was arguing with me that the kittens are not still nursing on Spooky. I beg to differ! This was taken yesterday and shows all four kittens suckling. You can't see the fourth head hidden under Spooky's leg. What a great Mom she is!
Happy sewing!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Spring Blessings

If you are a purist about quilting blogs, then skip off to the next blog on your list, for here there is very little quilty today.
It was the penultimate late spring day full of all the blessings of the season. I wish we had smell-o-vision for you to sit on the deck as the mild tempered breezes waft their scent towards you from a wall of climbing roses.
To give you a sense of how tall these common climbers have grown, here is a reference shot of an peach tree  beside them.
This is the back yard, fenced for Raven's safety against the traffic on Route 140. Raven has had a great deal of unfettered curiosity about these kitties! When she must pass through the garage to use the dogyard, there are high tensions on both sides of the canine-to-feline worlds.

This evening at dusk, the kittens had decided to explore a bit of the great big world of outdoors when Raven came bumbling through and was startled to see them in the tall grass. The kittens squeaked and practically jumped out of their furry little skins they were so afraid. They ran at top speed back into the garage to the safety of the dark caverns of underneath the old stored furniture there. Whew! 
I stopped Raven from chasing them, but she would have gone as fast as her old arthritic bones might allow. 
Earlier in the day, I snapped some snack and nap times.
This group photo lasted a nano-second, but it shows all four babies. If the sex-linked tricolor rule is applied, there are three girls and one boy (on the far right, he is all tiger stripes with no white).
I had quite a surprise when Spooky deliberately rubbed her head against my wrist as I was putting out food and milk today and yesterday. I gave her a polite but cautious response of a very brief rub of where she had touched me.
I want to thank my dear blogger friend, Nann, for helping me to identify Spooky and her litter as Abyssinian cats as per PetMD's website.
The only way that I can tell the kittens apart is to look carefully at their noses. In the shot above, from left to right, is Spooky, the mother cat, then Tiger, who has no white on him at all, then Blossom (or Pinkie), then Tipper (with the tiny spot of black on the tip of her nose), and last is Tanner, who has a tan nose but has a white bib. My anti-cat husband groaned to hear me name them all, LOL!
Most of these cats run and scatter when they hear me coming. I've learned that it helps calm them for me to hum little old lullabyes and talk out loud soothingly. Spooky's favorite sound is me unscrewing the plastic cap from the milk jug.
My clematis needs retying onto the trellis, and the field daisies that I stole from the highway slopes are a joy to view!
But if you'd really like to lower your blood pressure, just gaze at this image of a quintessential cat nap, compliments of Tipper.

Happy sewing!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Sunshine Girls

The little group of quilters that have begun to meet at The Alton Senior Center in Alton, New Hampshire have decided to call ourselves "The Sunshine Girls." Both times we have met so far, were rainy so we made our own sunshine by having fun quilting!
From right to left are Pauline, me, Sue, Margy and Norma, (Fran had warned us she couldn't make it). 

It's a very friendly group with everybody willing to help everybody else if they can.

The director of the Center, Amy Braun, said that we can use that name as long as we also say that we welcome men, too.
Pauline was happily working on her three dimensional hummingbird/log cabin kit quilt that is coming out terrific.
We passed the basket of chocolates, too, and I did a brief demo on turning the corner of the hand sewing of the binding of the Birds in America wallhanging.
I talked about the importance of labels and showed how to iron freezer paper onto the back of some light colored fabric to stabilize it to be able to write on it nicely with a pen. I got a few pieces done on my next group of 16 scrappy Civil War log cabin blocks, too.
As the group ended, the sun came out! We had lunch together at the center and thoroughly enjoyed the special roast beef dinner for Father's Day Luncheon.
Back home, I've started a second 5" tumblers quilt top, but no pictures of it yet, just a couple of rows done. I'm going with 20 units cause I want it a little wider than 58" this time. My first effort was only 17 units across.

Also, I'm trying using more lights by alternating light to dark side by side. This one above, I went three dark, then a light, more or less.

On Kitty Patrol, I spent hours gazing at kittens as they were fed, washed, and scolded for straying too far from their Mom, Spooky. I kept trying to get photos that show all four kittens at once in one picture. If you count carefully you might see them all, LOL! They are constantly wiggling.
The nicest compliment that I received today was when the exhausted Spooky had finished her milk drinking, she lay down with her back toward me and fell asleep!

Wow! She really has relaxed a bit.
Happy sewing!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Census Miscount!

Wednesday night was fun as it was Guild night of the Belknap Mill Quilter's Guild. I was up as the last person for Show'n'Tell and I was very proud of my three log cabin quilts for my friend's triplet grandchildren.
I also told the story of Ilse's blind brother in Germany, who will be receiving this little quilted American Birds wall-hanging and how I had sewn black pony beads onto the eyes for him to feel with his fingertips.
I'm such a ham and I loved the applause! I was laughing as the above was taken, me and my big mouth!
The little wallhanging is deliberately UN-finished on the binding of the last corner, so that I can take it with me for tomorrow's Friday Quilters at The Alton Senior Center. The group is so new and I'm still learning what they would value for my teaching them. But I know that Bonnie K. Hunter had just recently shown cutting off the little bulky area across the inner corner before you stitch backside of the miter. It really helps it lie smoother!

As for the other quilty news, I had bought, you may recall, a big bunch of pre-cut tumblers at the Keepsake sale.

I knew when I got them that they were a slightly smaller size from the Missouri Star Quilt Company 5" charm pack sized one. The Keepsake ones are only 4" tall. What to do, what to do?
I opened one package and took out a single fabric tumbler. With a pen, I traced around that with a ruler onto a piece of cardboard from my recycling bin (Plumrose Bacon's pasteboard box) and cut it out with my "paper-only" rotary cutter.

I know that I could've just used the cardboard template, but instead, I took it to Richard Houle of Belmont Glass. He made up a fine acrylic ruler out of my pattern in cardboard. I was delighted with it!
Sorry, I haven't peeled the tape and blue backing off of it yet, so that it would show up better in pics. Here are the two stacked on top of each other to have you see that they are quite different shapes.
There had been a giveaway at the Missouri Star Quilt Company last week and I collected their mini version at only 2 1/2" tall. Here they all are together.
I'm having so much fun cutting tumblers!

In the meantime, it has been fascinating to view Spooky, the mother feral cat living in my garage. And there was definitely a miscount on the kittens. Now I count FOUR, LOL! Please, please, I hope that's all there are!

You can click on any picture to enlarge it to see it better.
Happy sewing!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Spring Miracles!

Tonight is my regular guild meeting and when I looked up the program scheduled I also found this item:

"Did you know that the Jeanne D’Arc credit union donates $1,500 every quarter to a worthy area non-profit organization through its "Give a Click" program? The non-profit with the most votes will receive $1,500. Voting ends June 30th.

The New England Quilt Museum is one of the nominees for this quarter's Jeanne D'Arc donation. Please take a moment to register your support for the museum. Click here for more info or to vote. "

In the meantime, I have been busy adding two more rows onto the Tumble Inn quilt to give it a better length. Two rows finish at 8 1/2" lengthwise, so now, in this picture, I'm up to 58" x79".
My informally adopted 23 year old son, Matthew, has complained that his Broken Dishes quilt is too short, although he loves it dearly. I measured it this morning at 79" long, which is pretty skimpy. Here are the suggested sizes (although I am clueless as to just where I found this listing, sorry!):

 Quilt sizes

MINIATURE: Usually less than 36" square.
WALLHANGING: Any size can qualify for a wallhanging.
BABY: Usually between 36" X 36" and 52" X 52". This size can depend on whether the quilt will be used in a crib.
CRIB:  Usually between 30"x 46" and 36" x 50".
COT:  Usually between 58" x 90" and 72" x 108".
BUNK:  Usually between 66" x 89" and 74" x 103".
WHEELCHAIR LAP QUILT: Approximately 38" x 47".
LAP: Usually between 52" - 68" wide and the length can be from about 52" - 78".
TWIN: Usually between 64" - 72" wide and the length can be from about 86" - 96".
FULL: Usually between 70" - 88" wide and the length can be from about 88" - 100".
QUEEN: Usually between 88" - 99" wide and the length can be from about 94" - 108".
QUEEN WATERBED:  Approximately 76" x 104".
KING: Usually between 94" - 108" wide and the length can be from about the same, 94" - 108".
CALIFORNIA KING:  Usually between 100" x 98" and 114" x 117".
KING WATERBED:  Approximately 88" x 94".

I had started this quilt for ME as a snuggler on the futon, not sure if it is right for Matthew anyway. He says he wants a "darker" quilt in navy blue, not light blue. When I showed him the Tumble Inn top, he did not seem to love it. I think that what is really going on is that he has outgrown some of the raucous brights in the borders of the Broken Dishes. 

That's normal. Tastes change as we mature, or even on a whim, with me, LOL!  This quilt looks great in a photograph, but in person, that highway-safety-cone orange is a little hard on the eyes. The more I think about it, the more I'm thinking that he might like some of the Indigo Crossing that I've accumulated from Ebay dealers.

But the biggest news around the farm concerns the Spring miracle of birth. Somewhere in the depths of all the junk out in my garage, Spooky gave birth to three kittens!
She is still very leery but trusts me a bit now.

She had been out hunting in the rain and was rather wet.
I am able to photograph her now without her staring at me and hissing and growling.
The kittens are even shyer. We have seen three at once, so we know there are three, but we are totally unable to get good pictures yet! Here is the ONLY picture that we got of a kitten so far.
Their eyes are so bright blue! This one was devouring the haunches of a chipmunk who had worried my birdfeeders all last winter, while another kitten (not pictured) was growling wanting a turn at the tasty bit. This is as close as I ever get to Spooky.
Happy sewing!

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