Thursday, June 15, 2017

New beginning, old quilts!

A couple of weeks ago we were in Memphis for our grandson's graduation from 5th grade.  We are so proud of him, accepted to a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) middle school for next year, and he's really looking forward to it.

After the ceremony, at a beautiful church with an amazing pipe organ, many of the kids and their families headed over to Central BBQ downtown.  I love this place -- they have three restaurants in Memphis, one just a block from my daughter's house -- so we were pumped to go there.  We heard that they have been bought out by Holiday Inn (which started in Memphis).  I so hope that it won't get "chained out."  It is just a fabulous place to eat.  If you get to Memphis, do head for Central.  There are more famous spots, but don't overlook this great place!

We ate in a big room for a large crowd.  While waiting in a loooong line to chow down, I noticed that the curtains in the room were old quilts.  Authentic, and most interesting.

This first one wasn't a creative masterpiece, but very nicely stitched.  In spots just out of the photo, you could see that some of the fabric had worn through.  I hope that there was some sun protection on the back.

At the next window was a hexie quilt.  Grandmother's Flower Garden?  Hard to tell.  It was really just a top with some kind of backing.  It doesn't look like it had actually been quilted.

I'm not sure about this next one.  The fabrics look old, but it was hard to open out the curtain to get a good view of the quilt itself.  The windows were very tall, and the bottom of the curtains/quilts came down only to my chin.  I had to enlist some other people in line to help hold them open, but this one wasn't a great photo success.  Still, it looks like something that was very utilitarian -- totally scraps.  I wish I knew more about its history.

Here was a wonderful Dresden plate quilt, probably made in the 1930s (?).  Again, all scraps, so that few elements were the same.

Finally, this beauty.  Not only were the colors and construction lovely, but the sun was shining through it at a perfect angle.  It was too difficult to peek at the back to look at the construction, but it certainly was the highlight of the window quilts.

I've been working on a couple of UFOs, and finally finished a set of Roman blinds for my daughter.  More on those projects next time!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Little Projects

So, there's been a lot of sewing going on (finally!), but not much exciting to post.

I've continued working on the Otsego quilts, more or less as leaders and enders.  I ran out of every fabric except  the main ones for the block center squares.  Fortunately I was able to find more of almost everything.  But I did have to resort to similar fabrics for the last few blocks.  Anyway, you've seen enough of those, I suspect.  I'll post on that project when it's time to put the blocks together.

Meanwhile, no big finishes, but there have been some small ones.  The May miniquilt started out as lilacs.  Everything was coming into bloom, and it seemed an appropriate choice.  I didn't have any fabrics that actually looked like lilacs, but I pulled some purples.  No patterns, either, so I threw the purples into a basket (could have been pansies or grape hyacynths, whatever).  The flower area had a square in the center.  I broke that up into HSTs to give it more variety.  I'm not thrilled with the end product, but it's OK, I guess.  I haven't actually quilted it yet.  It's small, and I may replace it for next year.

Next up, pillow covers for my daughter.  She picked the fabrics.  The apple one frayed like crazy, but it is pretty.  The pattern is super-easy, one that is all over the web, with subtle variations.  Basically, you have a front, then two pieces for the back, put them together with a zipper, sew it all together.  Voila!

There are also Roman blinds under the presser foot, also for my daughter.   More on those when they are ready to hang.

Meanwhile, I am looking forward to starting an entirely new quilting project -- no UFO, no home decor.  I have a Kaffe Fassett jelly roll calling my name!

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!