Thursday, April 28, 2016

"April Showers" is finished

I put the last stitches into the lap quilted I started quilting earlier in the week.  It's so nice to finish!
Here's the front, and the back is below.  I tried to get the pictures to line up side by side, but alas!  You can see that I pieced the back, and I'm really pleased with the quilting (which you can see better on the back).  It's listed on my etsy shop,

Now on to sewing the bindings down on two more pieces.  There are four more quilt tops in the closet waiting to be quilted, but I want to go back and do a little more on one of the pieces that I have already bound.  More photos as they get finished!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Working steadily

Monday I sandwiched a small throw made with a bundle of fat quarters and some additional fabric.  It has a springy French theme, quite a few raindrops, and gray tones, so I'm calling the quilt April Showers.  I like the linen look of the Moda Basicgrays; the tulips and bicycles seem very Dutch to me, except that there are baguettes sticking out of the basket.  I found the easy pattern called Summer Slice  by Cluck Cluck Sew in a magazine quite some time ago and saved it until I found the right fabric.

I've been quilting it fairly simply so far, using the walking foot and outlining features in the blocks.  My new Elna has a larger harp, which is great.  Now I'm almost ready to add some fancier lines and find my painters tape doesn't stick well anymore.  Guess it's too old.  Today I'm taking a friend shopping, so I'll get a new roll and maybe some "Contact" paper (recommended in a new book I got) to cut out some shapes.  We have overnight guests coming Saturday and I hope to be finished by then.  It's useful to have a deadline!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Round robin is home

Last fall, I made four pineapple blocks as the center of a round robin.  I have always wanted to make a pineapple quilt but hate paper piecing.  I made it through the four blocks, and that was enough for me.  I find taking the paper out at the end a real chore - and messy.  The center was packed away with a lot of miscellaneous scraps and a bunch of shirting, and then it made the rounds of five members of my local quilt guild.  We had the reveal the other night, and I'm really pleased with the result.
Marie, Lynn, Margaret, Paula, and Pat each added her own stamp to the quilt.   At the guild meeting, the last person to work on the quilt got up and explained what was done during each round.  This was the first time the owner had seen her quilt, and there were lots of oohs and aahs.  I love all the different quilts I worked on this year.  Maybe we encouraged a few more people to give it a try.

Now the challenge for me is how to quilt it.  I have hung it in the closet with the other UFOs.  I think I now have five waiting.  This summer I hope to make some headway.  My sewing room has air conditioning so is sometimes the best place to be on a hot day.  On this one, I will probably stitch in the ditch to hold the rounds together and then do a variety of quilting.  It should be fun.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Long-standing UFO finished

It may not seem like much, but it has taken me months to make these four 9" blocks which I am sending off tomorrow for a swap.  It took me a while to decide what to make and then to choose the fabric.  But I've been working steadily on them for a week or so, in between other projects.  Both blocks are from the Lori Holt "Bloom" quilt that I'm doing in some wild colors.  I used stash for these, and I hope Linda and Cindy will like them.  Just glad to check another thing off my to-do list!  I

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Bloom blocks

I finished the fourth Bloom block over the weekend.  I'm way behind (this is week 13!), but I'll catch up eventually.  Once I get working on a block, it is fairly easy, and I'm enjoying working with some wild fabrics.  I forget the designer's name...  Amy.....?
Each block measures 9" finished, and then Lori Holt, the pattern designer, suggests going around each block with 2.5" sashing and cornerstones, resulting in a double sashing that looks very scrappy.  I only put the sashing one side and the bottom.  I figure I can always add more when I have more blocks done and see if it's not too busy.  I'm using scrappy cream backgrounds which makes it fun, too.

I actually have made only 3 blocks of Holt's design.  The one on the bottom left is a Dresden Plate flower that I made using her templates.  Holt's plastic templates are really perfectly sized and, while I thought it a bit extravagant to buy them, they look like they will be handy in the future.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

What to do?

I've been pecking away at the 365 Challenge all year, but I must say it has been tough.  I started out the year in fine fettle by gathering lots of scraps in blues and greens and keeping them in a project box.  I could get out the little bits I needed each day to make that day's block.

The first months' 3" blocks used mostly darks and medium-darks.  When I laid them out, they were quite gloomy, so my enthusiasm waned a bit.  I knew they were to be a border, but, after we got back from Alabama, I didn't make any more.  I have about 30 so far.

While I was away, the directions for the center medallion appeared online, and I printed it out for a day in the future.   That day came a couple of days ago.  I worked feverishly on that center, partly because some of the measurements were as tiny as 16ths of an inch.  Quite a bit of precision needed!  When I put the finished center on my design wall, I noticed many of the seams just didn't match up and one side was on backwards.

I decided to make a new center and, perhaps, use parts of the old one in another way.  The block I ended up with is from Quilt in a Day and ends up at 10.5" finished.  Now I need to decide what to do next.  Should it be straight or on point?  I'll let it sit on the wall for a while before I decide what to do next.

The original design has a 6" border using flying geese, diamonds, and more dark blocks, but I think I'm going to expand this center with some scraps and then use the blocks I have as a border.    Maybe I'll catch up again with the 365 Challenge when the lighter blocks start appearing on the website.  Then again, maybe I'll just make some blocks in my green and blue scraps.  I have lots accumulated.  Sigh.  This is how UFOs are made!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Busy times

It's been chilly these last few days, so whenever I get a chance, I've been sewing.  I finished quilting the zigzag quilt (must come up with a name) but now need to sew the binding to the back.  I'm not exactly sure if I am really finished quilting.  Will have to look at it for a while.

Now I'm putting together a purple row robin, and it is many shades of soft purple with some turquoise here and there. I am waiting for a round robin that is also in purples to return home.  Thought perhaps they could be sandwiched together to end up with a reversible quilt.  Will have to wait and see.  I still love my new Elna!  It feels so comfortable to just sit and sew, and I love the 1/4" foot.  With older eyesight, this seems important.

Cindy is still in the rehab facility in Northfield so I try to get over a few afternoons a week.  She is hoping to go home sometime next week (it has been 6 weeks between the hospital and rehab), and I will be glad, too.  I'm planning to make her some meals but need to get to the dollar store for containers.   Meanwhile, she's gobbling up all the books I bring and playing solitaire on Chris' tablet.  She is so ready to go home.

Community events are keeping me hopping, too.  Sunday, I was a "celebrity judge" at the Will It Waffle? cookoff at the library.  It was fun, but a little chaotic.  The tastes were good, though, and the little girl (age 10-11?) who won did a great job.  Tonight I'm helping with a public forum on homelessness, so I have made a batch of handouts and a batch of cookies.  If everyone who has responded to the publicity shows up, we will have a packed house.  I think the speakers will be good, and people in town are really concerned about the issue.  Perhaps we relate more because it's so cold for so long here.

Friday, April 1, 2016

And now for the Elna

I had a horrible week getting used to the Juki which I concluded is not for me.  Even though it sewed two layers of fabric together beautifully, I had to go back to the shop twice for help with the walking foot.   Last weekend, I used Juki to quilt a  36" x 36" quilt with a large cross hatch and also to sew the binding on.  It worked pretty well although it made a lot of noise going over seam intersections.   It just wasn't that smooth a "drive."  Toward the end, there was a lot of noise coming from the tension knob.  Thinking it maybe needed oiling, I did so and that noise went away.  The quilt is for the Parkinson's Comfort Project and looked pretty good after washing.

Monday, I decided to pin baste the zigzag quilt (I had had four piled up since my Rose died).  When it came time to start quilting, it was a disaster.  Quilting in the ditch was next to impossible as the walking foot didn't like not being on the level.  I had to tighten it a couple of times.  Using the free motion foot was no problem, so I took a break and used it for a while.

But I really needed to use the walking foot to anchor the quilt since it's 60" by 60".  Now it would stitch a few stitches and come to a grinding halt.  I rethreaded, changed the needle, cleaned everything I could, and rewound and reseated the bobbin.  Nothing helped, and on Tuesday morning, I threw in the towel and packed everything up.

When I walked into the shop with the machine, Carl (so kind and patient!) agreed Juki isn't for me.  He offered me an Elna Excellence 720 that they've had in the shop for demo purposes for a while, and encouraged me to take it home to put it through its paces.  So far it's great.  I love the dual feed foot, the start/stop and stitch lock feature, and the visible bobbin.  The quilt is almost completely anchored in the ditch, and I've even used the walking foot to quilt a few curves.  I will probably never use all of the embroidery/special stitch features, but at this point it looks like Elna will be staying with me.  I'll take the weekend to decide, but I'm happy to be able to sleep more soundly now.