Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Amish Quilts in Delaware

This past weekend we visited friends in Milford, Delaware.  My friend, Diane, has a friend, Nancy, a quilter who is so creative and somehow does loads of sewing in between babysitting for her grand-dog.  So on Saturday we all drove to a little Amish quilt shop, Shady Lane Selections, in Dover.  It is small, but packed with wonderful things -- not just quilty stuff, but wonderful kitchen things and just fun stuff.  I am not a recreational shopper, but this place was amazing.

The shop is lit by lots of windows and skylights and has gas lights as well.  The only concession to operating in an English (non-Amish) area is that there is electricity for a credit-card reader.  The floor space is half quilt-related.  This countertop was full of fat quarters, and when I turned around, there were just as many behind me.  The selection was beautiful.  

There were rows and rows of lovely fabrics -- you get just a glimpse of a few of them on the right side of this photo.  There were racks of gorgeous Amish quilts, all hand-made, of course.  I was a little surprised not to see any of what I think of as traditional Amish, black background with solids in bright, bold colors.  Most were fairly traditional patterns, exquisitely made.

This log cabin quilt just popped, all scrappy with such a variety of colors and prints.

This little embroidered panel was, I think, from a previous Row-by-Row.  

On the non-quilting side of the store were wonderful children's toys, some commercial (Melissa and David puzzles) and many handmade.  The doll clothes were lovely.

Some items weren't exactly Amish, but most of the clientele are "English."

 I loved the handmade signs by a local woodworker.  My favorite was the 4th one down, "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass.  it's about learning to dance in the rain."

Back home again, with recent projects completed, I've been trying to make progress on the twin-bed Otsego quilts.  Lots done, the end is (sort of) in sight.  But I can only take so much -- time to branch out to something new.  

Speaking of something new, I'm headed out to the Left Coast in a couple of days to spend a week with my new granddaughter, June.  No sewing will be done, but my heart will be is full.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

National Quilting Day

March is National Crafting Month and the 18th was National (and Worldwide) Quilting Day.  

And where was A Quilter's Path?

This month quilters get to celebrate with knitters and crocheters and other needleworkers, not to mention rug-hookers and stampers and jewelry-makers and scrapbookers.  As you can tell, I fall firmly in the needlework category.

Sadly, though, very little sewing has been happening.  As it turns out, this month is also when the hubster and I headed down to Florida and Tennessee to visit family.  The morning after we returned, our new refrigerator was delivered.  We spent a fair chunk of the day removing packing materials and moving food around. Today and tomorrow we are having central air installed -- my entire stash had to be removed from the closet, and my sewing room is temporarily unusable.

So, all good things, but no quilting so far.  But I did manage to finish up a few projects before I headed south.

Welcome, Leo!

My niece's second baby, Leo, was born in January.  His quilt was all done except for the quilting before he was born -- a new record!  It's the same disappearing nine-patch that I made for his cousin, JJ, just in different fabrics.  Aren't these little guys cute?

I took it to my local quilting group at Riverhead Vac and Sew, my new LQS, to help me choose a border fabric.  Never would I have thought of yellow, but these wonderful ladies picked this one, and I just love it!  It has red, orange and blue flowers that pick up the main colors in the quilt.

I used a simple cross-hatch to quilt the main part, but I decided to try a free-motion vine motif in the border.  To say that there were imperfections would be putting it mildly, but it was [mostly] pretty nice.  And finished not a moment too soon!

My Funny Valentine

My mini-quilt for February was (surprise!) a Valentine.  Actually, it was to be four small Valentine blocks going in four directions, but in the end, only one block turned out well enough to submit to public scrutiny.

I had a jar full of narrow (1"-1-1/4") red and pink strips that I hadn't used in my failed attempt at teeny-weeny four-patches.

I wanted to string-piece them and then sub-cut to make the patches for the heart blocks.  Bonnie Hunter suggests using pages from an old phone book to stabilize the strips.  Phone books are hard to come by these days, but I had last year's copy of one of those local Yellow Pages books that they drop on the end of your driveway.

I sewed the strips to the pages until I had enough to make the patches.
Mistake #1:  I should have sewed the strips on straight and then cut on the diagonal.  Sewing on the diagonal required longer strips.  No biggie, but annoying.

Mistake #2:  I pressed as I went along, after sewing on each strip.  With the paper still attached, the seams of course had to be pressed to one side.  With such tiny strips, the units ended up being almost entirely three layers thick.  This was bad enough for the square units, even worse when making the HSTs.  The thickness made it difficult to get nice points when sewing the units together.  That's why three of the four blocks ended up in the doggie bed.  Yes, you could see the missing points from the Brooklyn Bridge!

Mistake #3:  Nah, never mind.  I won't go into sewing units wrong sides together.  You understand.

Still, the remaining block looked festive and got its moment on the quilt hanger before March rolled in.

March Hints of Spring

Several warm periods during the winter had the crocuses and daffodils peeking through by late February.  I didn't want to think about March winds, and St. Patrick's Day is, after all, only one day.  So this month's mini-quilt is a daffodil.  I love the border fabric!  Only the flower is quilted, with straight lines creating the look of the ruffled trumpet.

And check this out.  The AC guys had to move the table with the quilt stand.  They backed it up to a south-facing window.  The shadows from the seams make it look like a stained-glass quilt, if you can ignore the lines from the window behind it.  Lovely.

See you soon!  Happy Spring!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Geese Redux

So.  The Otsego quilts that I started several years ago (when I had far more ambition than knowledge) had all these flying geese units.  I had never even heard of flying geese.  Anyway, I ended up having to get more fabric to make more geese.  Fortunately I was able to find the two fabrics I needed on line.  Now it's time to get them cut and use the geese as leaders/enders for other projects.

I had originally cut a bazillion triangles to make the geese.  Not only were they poorly cut, but I managed to distort them while sewing and again while pressing.  For these final units, I wanted them to be perfect, or at least much better.   These can go on top of the bed, the ugly ones can go against the wall, right?  I decided to use the 4-at-a time method.  That meant figuring out the sizes of the cut pieces.

I used ugly scraps from my stash to make the test units.  The first set were WAY too big!  I think I had mistaken the cut size for the finished size.

Well, yeah.  These are clearly too big, but there's plenty of room to get a nice 1/4" seam allowance on the top of the dark triangle.


 Now to trim the unit up.  The unfinished height should be 2-3/8" and the width 4-1/4".  Height good.

Width, not so much.  About 1/8" off, but the whole point is to make units that are correct.  I had made oversize units on purpose, but clearly this was not going to work.

OK, second try.  It seems that I had mistaken the finished size and the unfinished size of the pieces when I calculated the first units.  Time for a second go.

These worked out great!  And the only trimmings are the dog-ears and a couple of threads.

Plus, i got rid of some scraps that I was pretty sure I never would use.  I am now convinced that Bonnie Hunter's Scrap Users' System is the way to go.  Even if some pieces are just too ugly at whatever size, they are perfect for making test units and blocks.  I am so over the Civil War reproduction fabrics, but they did the job here just fine.  And they won't go to waste.  Doggie bin!

Bonus!  When the last geese were done, this was my bobbin.  Absolutely DONE.  Can you see the tiny piece of thread still hanging in there?  How often does that happen when you are trying to just get those last pieces through the machine?  

So now all set to quilt a baby quilt for someone who arrived when I was away from my machine and then move on to other projects.  Can't wait!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Some Things Aren't Worth Finishing

For the last couple of years -- about half of my quilting life -- I have saved skinny strips left from squaring up yardage or left over from cutting strips for piecing, even strips of backing that remained when a quilt had been quilted and trimmed.  Creative or cheap?  You be the judge.  The jar you see below was crammed with skinny strips (at least 1", not quite 1-1/2").

The little pink and white rectangles at the back of the photo were left from Annie's Women Heart quilt.  I don't even recall why I have so many.  Did I cut the wrong size?  Or just too many?

I had the bright idea that I could use these scraps as leaders and enders to make a postage-stamp quilt.  This past weekend I started sewing some up, just to see whether the project was worth pursuing.  Funny, what seemed like a lot of fabric turned out to be not so much.  I thought I had a lot of variety, but ended up making little piles of two-patches to be sure there weren't a lot of the same fabric in a row.

Of course, when half of each square ends up in the seam allowance, they do end up tiny!  That's OK.  I don't know what this might turn out to be.  Maybe a doll quilt?

But I forgot how unforgiving small units can be.  A wobbly stitch or two will throw the whole thing off.  It doesn't really matter, of course, if this is just going to be a doll quilt (the doll will never know).   i could continue by foundation piecing to add stability, I guess. But with so many other projects in the queue, is this really worth continuing?

If I just take the time to cut the remaining yardage for the flying geese in the Otsego quilts, I can be using those as leaders and enders and maybe even get the quilt tops finished this year.

So maybe I'll just toss all these strips and squares and this little 5" piece into the doggy-bed bin.  Still, it's been fun to revisit so many other quilts.  Finished:  Annie's Women Heart quilt; the Civil War block swap (now on my bed!); my niece Molly's baby quilt and her blended-family applique wall hanging; and the first quilt I ever made. Unfinished:  the Otsego quilts; Easy Street (the first Bonnie Hunter Mystery that I tackled); blocks from a class I took at Pieceful Quilting (R.I.P.); placemats that I've cut but haven't even started sewing.  And up there in the upper-right-hand corner is a dark green fabric from the early 1980's.

If every quilt has a story to tell, this one surely tells the story of A Quilter's Path, a journey that continues.

By the way, this is the doggie-bed bin where I toss scraps of fabric and batting that are bigger than lint.  When there's enough, I'll sew up an ugly piece of yardage and stuff it with this stuff and give it to my friend who volunteers in a shelter.

Those foam squares?  Oh, I got those back around 1975 to make soft blocks for my daughter.  Never got those finished, either.  She's now 42.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Snow Time

Snowy Days and Paper Piecing

So over a year ago I posted that I wanted to learn paper piecing.  That didn't happen until just last week.  As part of my seasonal mini-quilt project, I decided to make a snowman for January, and the one that I found was a paper-pieced pattern.

I was going to tackle it by myself, but had the opportunity to get some expert help from Elizabeth at Riverhead Sew and Vac, my new local LQS.  Good thing -- I think I would have gotten frustrated if she hadn't been able to help me out.

This little guy is more than twice the size of the original pattern, and I still had to add a 2" border to make it fit on my 12" quilt hanger! It's got a snowflake pattern in the white-on-white, but it doesn't show up here.  (It also went from white to beige in the editing process.  Whatever).  I had plenty of embroidery floss and #5 pearl cotton for the eyes, nose and arms, and a nice assortment of buttons, but something was still missing.

i knitted him a little scarf (3 stitches wide) with some sparkly red yard that seemed to do the trick.  Happy January, Mr. Snowman!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

More Projects Done Before the Holidays!

A Holiday Mini-Quilt

This small and mini-quilt thing is going well!

To follow on the autumn mini-quilts, I wanted to make some for Christmas.  I saw this cute quilt in the Keepsake Quilting catalogue.  It looked easy to copy, which is one of my favorite ways to learn how to deconstruct a block pattern.  I'd like to give appropriate credit, but the catalog didn't indicate the pattern designer or whether it was a Keepsake original.

I photocopied the picture in the catalog and then blew it up so it was easier to read.  Then I drew grid lines to see how the blocks were created.

The catalogue description indicated the size of the finished quilt (it was a kit), but I knew that I wanted the mini-quilt block to be smaller than it would have been in the kit quilt.  I thought I had it figured out, but was I ever wrong.  So I ended up with an oversize block and now have a small wall hanging in addition to the mini that I completed on the second try.  I still had to do some trimming, resulting in the outer green squares being a little smaller than the inner ones.  Can you see it from the Brooklyn Bridge?  Well, yes.

The block finished at just over 12" square.  None of my Christmas fabrics looked right as a binding, but this firethorn print from an autumn fat quarter collection was just right.

Too bad I forgot to swap out the red bobbin thread.

The hanging sleeve is sewn right in with the binding.   And I'm thrilled with how the mitered corners turned out.

Greta's Christmas Pillowcase

We were visiting friends in Delaware last week and I was forced, entirely against my will (!) to visit a quilt shop.  It was fabulous, wonderful fabrics everywhere (include upstairs).  If you ever have the chance, visit the Serendipity Quilt Shop in Dagsboro, Delaware.  I was determined not to add to my stash until I made more progress on my UFOs, but I couldn't resist a pillowcase kit to make for my granddaughter.

The kit was for making a pillowcase as a tube.  There are lots of videos on the web (a popular one is at Missouri Star Quilt Company, and Serendipity has written instructions on its website,

Since the fabric was already cut (except for the red insert strip), it only takes a few minutes to put together.  Mine took a little longer because I decided to do a French seam on the side.

Another cute find at Serendipity was this bin full of scraps.  Most had been cut to about 9" squares, perfect for a 5" charm and some 2" squares.  And so much variety -- fun!

Last, But Not Least

My daughter sent for a dozen fabric samples before finally deciding on the ones she wants for the Roman shades that I'll be making for her.  Sweet fabrics and only $1 each, but we both hated to waste them.  I sewed around the edges and voila! cocktail napkins!  Quilting started as a thrifty way to make warm bedcovers out of leftover fabrics.  The trend continues...

That's it for now.  Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope Santa is good to you and brings you something quilty!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Just in Time for JJ

My favorite baby quilt pattern is a Disappearing Nine Patch.  It is easy and quick.  So when my niece announced that she was having her first child, I went straight to my stash and dived in.  For once I'd have a quilt ready when the big day arrived.

Once again, I went with primary colors.  I didn't have to buy a thing for the nine-patches, there were lots of choices in my scrap bins.

I used the blue print for the focus fabric, the one square that doesn't get hacked up when you "disappear" the nine-patch.  And what fun -- this was the fabric that I used in the very first quilt I ever made!  It'll be a nice I Spy quilt, with toys and animals and numbers and lots of colors.

Here's the uncut nine-patch.  The squares that I want to keep whole are in the corners.  Cut each block in half vertically and horizontally.  The square in the center will be the smallest unit in the final block. Arrange the smaller blocks as you like.

I tried a couple of different arrangements.  This seemed a little boring to me.

This was better, but still not quite what I wanted.

Ta-da!  That's more like it, more movement, not quite so linear, with the blue squares offset.

This arrangement also has the added benefit that there are NO seams to match until you have the rows all made and you're ready to sew them together.

As I pieced the top, I made more flying geese for the Otsego Lake quilts as leaders and enders.  With any luck, the baby who gets this quilt will be able to sleep under an Otsego Lake quilt by the time he's in high school!  😃

Once the top was pieced, I got a little bit stuck.  I thought about just binding it in red and moving on, but the quilt would have been a little to small.  I debated between blue and yellow for an outer border, but just wasn't sure.  So I posted a photo of the top on The Quilting Board and asked for suggestions.

If you aren't familiar with wonderful group, please do visit the site.  It's a moderated bulletin board with discussion threads and photos of quilts for inspiration.  Members range from total newbies to professionals with decades of experience.  You can sign up for their "Daily Digest" to get an email every day to see the busiest threads.

Anyway, they came through as they always do.  Several people suggested going with green for the border, which I really hadn't considered.  Someone else suggested departing from the primary colors and using a black-and-white binding.  I am so happy with the final result!

The green really frames the pieced center.  It keeps your attention on the blue squares and keeps the quilt brighter than it would have been with the yellow.  I chose a print with swirls, to balance out the geometric blocks.  The center is straight-line quilted in a variegated thread.  It's hard to see now that the quilt has been washed.  The border is free-motion curly cat-tails that echo the swirls in the print (you can barely see it in the photo below).

And check out the border -- zebra stripes!  I just love it!  The back and the binding are both flannel.

The label got sewed on along with the binding, two birds, one stone.  It's my usual label, just a charm square folded over.  I left the top open to include a note to the parents.  Who knows, maybe some day the tooth fairy will be able to use it!