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Posts from the ‘LongArm Quilting’ Category

Bears and Tongs

My mother left behind a lot of good intentions and ideas in the form of partially completed quilt tops, left-over blocks and a few completed tops just awaiting quilting and binding. My father also left behind a lot of good intentions and ideas and partially worked out projects in the form of metal work, a forge, welding equipment, a metal lathe and assorted scrap metal pieces.

While I am not inclined to finish any of those metal projects- or deal with the left-overs from Dad’s garage and basement doings—that was brother Rick’s task, I am dealing with all the fabric bits and bobs left in Mom’s sewing room.

moms20irish20chain-mirish20chain20detail-mSometime this week, a package will arrive on a small boy’s doorstep—a great grandchild–and my great nephew—two lap sized quilts—one with tiny farm animals in an intricate Irish chain pattern and another one featuring my dad’s welding tools set against a background of the junction of Plum Creek and Shanghai Ridge.


There are still more to complete but the stack is slowly diminishing and there may be an end in sight-.

Thanks to my dear husband who willingly served as quilt holder-upper for these photos.

The pile is shrinking

In a fit of organization, I catalogued, organized, and labeled all the undone projects in my sewing room. I also did the same with the quilt tops awaiting quilting. Cleverly I even added dimensions, the need for a back or label. That stack was embarrassingly high and did not include twenty some quilts for my mother’s grand-children—left for me to quilt and gift on the occasion of their wedding.

There are four of those left and maybe one wedding in the near future, but my stack of tops has been cut in half.

In the past, I signed up for a lot of workshops at the local guild; and then there were all the exchanges so a lot of parts and starts—and they all glare at me insisting upon completion. I must admit, though, I have cheated just a bit, well perhaps more than just a bit. Now those bits and pieces become covers for Marble notebooks.

Layering and basting was always a challenge requiring clearing off of the dining room table, getting out pins and masking tape and popsicle sticks (that PVC pipe method looks intriguing) but now Vivian the Gammill makes short easy work of that task. I like to load the backing and leave it stretched overnight before quilting the next day…smooth…no wrinkles..and ten minutes of work instead of two hours or more.

I also drape the top over the rails, letting it dangle and relax some of the fold lines from being in that stack.


This was an exchange with the Happy Scrappers. There was some really ugly fabric in there (most of it mine!) but look how pretty it is..and it is bound, folded up into one of those closet storage containers ready to gift when the right occasion presents itself.

Feathered Kisses

img_1412-mTwo or three times a year, I like to buy a new pantograph or two. I’ve bought them from the Gammill dealer in Texas and from Urban Elements, an on-line store. I was surprised to learn I really like doing these edge to edge designs; after the first two or three rows, they become very meditative.

This panto is called Feathered Kisses; somehow the ability to do decent feathers has escaped me despite several attempts. This particular one undulates across the quilt, leaving little sections unfilled. Instead of doing random loops and twists to fill in the space, I employed the use of a Venetian blind header (they were really cheap and the header which covers up the mechanism for drawing the blinds up/down broke and fell off. I had been using it as a straight edge to cut sections off the batting roll.

However, I was able to place it so I could follow the lines of the design and fill in all those little sections with pattern.

Unfortunately, I discovered I mistakenly used the top of the undulation as the TOP of the pattern when actually it is low point of the undulation that is the top—–really technical hear….but I ended up with a gap of about 3 inches to fill in somehow and make it look like I intended to do this.

So one point for figuring out how to do the blank sections and minus one point for not figuring out where the top of the pattern was…….Now there is a dot at the appropriate spot and no more 3 inch gaps in the pattern.

That quilt has just three more rows to do—and then there will be another to add to the needing binding stack.

Circular SunBursts

img_1290-mAs I noted yesterday, I have not been idle.

This is another piece that was on the UFO list—but somehow I ended up signing up for the same UFO challenge but with another group and was shamed into not using the same projects for both—although no-one would really be checking. I do want to clear out these projects–I’ve made fairly good progress—the trick is to not start new ones while working on the old ones.

This was a workshop project several years ago. We used stamps to mark the size and seam allowance of the pieces. It was a hand-piecing project–which was a relaxing change from ones in which we hauled in sewing machines and yards of fabric and  rulers and rotary cutters and thread and so forth.  For this one, we needed a gallon bag of fabric, scissors, needle, thread, and pins–easily carried in with room on our arm for a sack lunch and maybe even a cup of coffee.

I had pieced the sunbursts and appliqued them onto background—alas, as I found when I began to quilt it—each circle was not exactly in the center of each square. I managed to do the feathered circle around each sunburst but the grid was a lot more challenging.

Still it is finished and moved to the done pile!

Back to the UFO list!



It is done!

Some years ago–and I’m not telling how many, my dear friend and I hit upon the idea of working through EQ (a quilt designing program) to come up with a sampler quilt. Each of us would make two rows, we set the finished size of the quilt and therefore the rows and chose a group of blocks–primitive style—we would select from. We each contributed background fabric. Our rules were that we could use other fabrics of our choice to finish each block but that we would each have the same background for the blocks.

We prepped the backgrounds and slipped the pattern into a packet with each background.

I worked away at mine for a few weeks; but then got interested in other projects and set it aside.

American Patchwork has a challenge each year—to complete UFO’s; you select twelve, number them and they draw a number each month–and you work on the corresponding project. I did this last year and got 8 projects completed; this year I am a bit behind–only 4 so far but most of them this year were barely started. This was one of them.

I learned a lot from this project.

Some blocks are not meant to be huge.

Some blocks are not meant to be tiny.

I am better at embroidery than applique.

It is much easier to make the label for the back when you are working on the top–I use leftover blocks and fabrics, print out the pertinent information, trace it (my handwriting is not neat) and then it is ready.

But this huge monster is now completed and bound.



I’ve been busy

moms20irish20chain-mIt has been awhile since I have written a bit but I have not been idle.

It is prime honey bee season and the bees need attention this time of year. We now have 7 hives. Husband has been doing the majority of work with them as he is still in town; having a few medical issues to deal with before he heads to the great Northern expanse and much cooler weather.

However, I have been working on quilting up a few things while letting my eyes rest from my latest art project.

This is a small quilt my mother pieced many years ago. It has fussy cut animals in some of the squares; all of them oriented in the same position. (I would not have been so careful).irish20chain20detail-m

It has now been bound and after a viewing at the local quilt guild will be shipped off to one of my mother’s great-grandchildren–numbering 7 at this time. There are still a few more pieces of hers to work through destined for those great-grandchildren and I still have three grandchildren quilt tops to go—there were 17 of those!


I should have looked back–I did show these photos in April; however, it is now bound and labeled and ready to ship….

Grandma’s Nine Patch

My grandmother was a practical woman and I adored her. I remember her as always laughing despite a life that was full of hard work, scrimping, and managing on next to nothing. She never balked at doing work; work that might have been done by someone else or in her time, a male.

Grandma raised cucumbers for the pickle factory and she was in charge of the cucumber sorting. The bins were on the side wall of an empty bay in the fire engine’s garage. That bay still housed the canning equipment from World War II on the back wall; Grandma had run that in those times. She also repaired sewing machines and had the contract to cut grass and otherwise maintain two local cemeteries.

Although her older sister made quilts for a living at a $1 a spool, Grandma made quilts for beds to keep warm. My first quilt was one she made for me–strips sewn together for a central panel, and then circled round with strips, bound in purple, with an old wool blanket as batting, and tied with red yarn.

When my mother died, I was left with all of the quilt tops and parts and pieces and fabrics and the carefully rolled up leftovers from dresses, skirts, and blouses. This top was made from many of those rolled up scraps as I recognize some of the fabrics but many others I do not—and the combinations are so colorful, I know they are the ones my Grandmother made on her old Singer treadle–bought by my Grandfather when she was expecting her first baby–my aunt—-in those days, according to my grandfather, even the women did not talk about babies and he took a lot of grief from his parents for being so extravagant as to buy a sewing machine.



Traditional quilts were made from scraps; scraps from dresses and aprons and blouses and shirts. Ready-made clothing bought in stores was expensive, custom-made clothing accommodating longer arms or any body shape other than what was considered ‘normal’ was just not available.

And then there were the people who had lived through the Great Depression where nothing was wasted.

My grandmother was one who was frugal; my aunt remembered her wedding cake as being very small due to rationing during World War II. Both of these ladies sewed; my grandmother repaired sewing machines in the day when sewing machines were not portable and women did not have men in their homes without their husbands being present.

My mother also sewed and she and her friend taught me and her friend’s daughter-Judy- sewing for a 4-H project. I still have that first project–a brown print apron. We learned to cut out dresses and blouses from cotton prints–polyester was just arriving in the stores, and saved all the scraps, rolling them up into little bundles and either tying them with a bit of selvedge or using a straight pin. These little bundles were then tossed into a bin; the idea was that these could be used to patch or repair–and of course rarely if ever were used for that purpose.

img_1109-mThe quilt top I am working on now was pieced by my grandmother. There are fabrics in there that my mother must have given her–as I recognize two fabrics that were dresses I made for my first year in college; and dresses I remember my mother wearing–she liked black and white and gray fabrics.


img_1111-mThis is a simple pattern; my grandmother loved vivid colors and assembled this top in her later years–still loving color and wild combinations. She bordered it with a bright kelly green to make it big enough for a bed. She had made me a quilt when I was 8–bordered in purple and tied with red yarn; the ‘batting’ was an old wool blanket; it was heavy and warm..a good thing for a Wisconsin winter in a home heated with a single pot-bellied stove.

And so I work on this quilt top, remembering my grandmother and my mother and our careful saving of all those scraps.

Farm Animals on an Irish Chain

My mother took up quilting in her middle years, making a hand-pieced/appliqued and hand-quilted quilt for each of her six children. Then she made quilt tops for each of her 18 or so grand-children, leaving them to me to quilt for her and gift on the occasion of their wedding.

I have been working away at this project and have three left to quilt, two are quilted and ready.

But then there are the bits and pieces and the pieces she made for fun.

This is an Irish chain with fussy cut farm animals. I finished quilting it yesterday. It will go a great-grandchild–I am a few  behind on that project–four at present….and two step-grandchildren. And I didn’t include my five.

She left plenty of fabric and lots of starts.


Number Three

My mother was a quilter and left me quite a few unfinished projects along with her fabric—lots of rust and turquoise==my least favorite colors. I’ve been working on finishing the little pieces as baby quilts for her great-grandchildren–but it has been slow-going.

There were quilt tops for each grandchild to be given on the occasion of their wedding–I have four left–two handed out this year.

And then there was this piece.

She had a class of quilting students–and together they decided they wanted to make a smallish wall quilt commemorating the establishment of Prairie du Chien–I think—I really don’t remember what event they were focused on—but here it is—-

I put it on that UFO list I talked about yesterday—and wouldn’t you know it–but it was number three and the number that was drawn for the month of January.

I had hoped it wouldn’t be the very first month—but here it is—and I’ll have to figure out how I want to finish it—and then take it to the new library in town and see if they have a place to hang it.UFO203202019-M