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Posts from the ‘LongArm Quilting’ Category

Grassy Creek, a Bear and a Book

For several Thanksgiving/Chrismtas holiday seasons, Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville has graciously posted a mystery quilt. Each Friday and maybe a day or so extra she posts directions to complete units for a quilt she has designed. I’ve done all of them except the very first one.

They are always large which stretched the ability of my Gammill to quilt but I finished last year’s quilt this past week.

She uses paint chips as a method of choosing colors—and her colors are always (unless they involve teal/turquoise/aqua) quilt lovely together and there is a rush to the paint store to pick up those particular paint chips and then to the fabric store to buy fabrics.

With a wealth of fabric, I have not bought new—unless it is backing and definitely batting.

I pull out colors I think look okay together and depending on how much I have and how much she suggests, I put them into zip-lock bags and label them as the ‘new’ colors—it is a bit disconcerting for her to say start with your red–but my ‘red’ is blue. But this system seems to work fairly well for me.

These fabrics were the last of my ‘modern’ fabrics from my brief stint in the Modern Quilt Guild. They have now leaned toward traditional patterns with a graphic look from the 30’s and 40’s.

This quilt is now ready to be bound–and I will have it done before Thanksgiving weekend.

and here is a closeup

And because I had some backing and batting leftover I quilted some satin pieces—choir robe scraps and a covering for one of those Marble notebooks.

That backing–that rust with the spots–was fabric from my mother’s quilt shop days in the early 90’s. It looks modern though, doesn’t it?

Grassy Creek Up Next

Yesterday I wrote about finishing up a Block of the Month. I am not sure why I take these on, I have many projects awaiting my attention. LIkewise I am not sure I take on Mystery Quilts—ones in which you have no idea what the finished project will look like–you just make parts for a long time–different ones every week or so–and then the grand reveal comes–and you think—I wish I had chosen a different fabric for this part—and then some of the parts are just beyond un-fun—if that is even a word.

However, each Thanksgiving/Christmas season i find myself following along with others on Quiltville trying to keep up with the clues.

I don’t always follow her suggestions for colors—and now that I think of it—have never used her suggestions—that is challenging as the directions will say put a pink square with a green triangle—and I have chosen purple to be pink and black to be green—.

But here is last years—this one is called Grassy Creek and it was supposed to be mostly orange and teal. I gathered up all the fabrics labeled ‘modern’ and put them in bags, labeled them a color—and proceeded. The backing is stretching before I begin quilting—it is quite large–90 inches square—a real stretch for my Gammill.

And of course I will be waiting for the suggested colors to be posted in the next few weeks—and winidng a few bobbins to be prepared to take on those clues in mid November.

Rajah and what was I thinking

For some reason, I decided I would work on the Block of the Month offered by The Quilt Show annually. The first one was a Sue Garman paper pieced star quilt—the center made and the fabrics and patterns neatly sequestered in a nice hinged plastic box. The next one was Rajah, a quilt made by convicted women on their way to Australia. My version was not nearly so complicated and considerably smaller. The designer/re-creator of the pattern suggested starting with something I liked—and so I did. I surrounded it with some indigo dyed fabrics and some from Africa. It is now quilted and in line for the binding process.

On the left side you can just barely see one of my favorite fabrics–a batik made with circles of color overdyed with black. There are two giraffes facing the dancing woman (also a batik). Those were done pantograph style using my hand-drawn giraffe. Unfortunately I used the raw measurements of the area they are in–not the finished sizes—–but it is done.

I think I skipped one or two Block of the Month but then once again decided I would make the next one regardless of its requirement for paper piecing or applique—-and it was Afternoon Delight—a combined pieced—-TINY ITSY BITSY pieces—and applique. But that is now done, quilted, bound and I am putting on the sleeve and the label—all ready for the next local quilt show—where it will win no prized except for tenacity in taking on a project that challenged my skills.

Rainout Construction

Rainy dreary chilly days in the Emergency Room meant a day spent with respiratory therapist treating asthmatics and other folks with pulmonary/breathing problems.

Rainy days in the clinics meant construction workers showing up for their blood pressure medications and any other health issue that could wait a bit–but now they had a ‘free’ day to come to the doctor in a clinic–much cheaper than an emergency room.

My construction efforts have also come to a stop. Last month I completed twenty four tall buildings. I’m waiting on the plans for the next eight—and although my buildings are mostly completed, it is far too dark in my sewing room to work today.

High cost of building materials and scarcity were challenging–I had to do a bit of digging to find the appropriate materials—-like most quilters I have two lifetime supplies of materials or more.

Interesting though–the fabrics I though particularly ugly made the best buildings. The ‘sky’ part will be added after I finish all the remaining buildings–eight small houses and four skysrapers so I can see where I need to put the night and dusk and day ‘skies’. And I ran out of the black shadow fabric—-now I have an excuse to go shopping!

Afternoon Delighted to be at this stage

Many people make New Year’s Resolutions; some choose a word, some list projects to be completed. I’ve done all three at times. In December of 2019 I decided I would make the 2020 Block of the Month hosted by The Quilt Show. Once that promise was made to myself, I felt obligated!

Much to my chagrin it featured double nine-patches and a lot of applique with teeny tiny pieces. But I did it!

And now it is on the quilting frame; after spending some time agonizing over the proper way to quilt it. I am not expert at custom quilting and somehow a pantograph–all-over row pattern didn’t seem right.

After a lot of thinking–and procrastination, I loaded it up; and began. I used straight lines for the borders, cross-hatching for the nine patches, and stippling for the applique blocks.

I’m about half way though.

My back is not happy standing and so I bought a very nice office chair to rest on while I do the stippling and cross-hatching—this is not exactly a sit-down machine—but it seems to work okay for me.

Isn’t that back pretty? The quilt shop in Warren posted it on one of their ‘new fabric just in’ and I had to have it. I think it is perfect for the

Purses and Baskets

Sometimes I get an idea for a project and it is just an idea but then somehow it becomes a project and then it transforms into a guilt-associated un-done object that seems to point fingers and laugh derisivlely every time I go into my sewing room. I try hiding it in a box but even the box knows what is inside.

With the pandemic in full swing—this project destined for Quilt Festival in Houston several years ago–finally emerged from that box and became reality. I studied recessed zippers, cut head foam and linings and some vinyl along with some lovely hand-woven Guatamalan fabric.

Here are four purses—I have one too—but it returned to the box to stare accusingly at me.

And at the same time–just because who doesn’t like the excitement of starting a new project? I combined two projects–a set of 8 inch blocks from a block resource guide book and baskets from the same book; I’m not so fond of basket quilt block especially whey they involve a lot of smallish triangles–I used some hand-dyed fabrics from Ricky Tims Scrap Bag Sale AND some hemp/cotton blend batik fabric I had made to set between the more colorful blocks.

It is quilted, bound, and labeled—-a new rule—I have made for myself—a finish or two must occur before embarking on a new project—although some projects are still just ideas.

More cleaning and sorting and uploading

Hot days are here—with the occasional downpour.

My back is still not happy with life and so I alternate more active things on my to-do list and the more sedentary.

Today I attended church—-and for the first time in well over a year I wondered what I should wear. I”m of the belief that you should dress up a bit for church–not to extremes—but better than every day wear.

It felt strange; pews were marked as ‘no-sit pews’, no music, no after service coffee.

In the distant past, I would mow—a solitary contemplative activity with less traffic as I have frontage to mow. I didn’t mow today but I did pick a bag full of tomatoes.

And now I am sorting through files and photos and uploading a few.

Here are a few I’ve finished up in the past few months. My new photo site is a clothesline strung along the front porch. Sometimes I have to take multiple photos as it seems that the dead calm while hanging ceases and I have corners blowing up.

This is ‘Frolic” a Bonnie Hunter winter mystery quilt. I wanted it to look like Texas spring flowers–the primrose, echinacea, and blue bonnets.

This is a Star quilt made from crumb blocks. I pulled every block that had some pink in it from a huge box hoping to make a nice dent—nope didn’t do it. The pink is from my mother’s quilt shop–a nice bubble-gum pink–the lime green and white were my additions.

And here is the back–still trying to use up those crumb blocks. They are my leader-ender pieces; I assemble them at night while watching Netflix, and sew in between my ‘regular’ sewing to prevent pieces from crawling down the needle-plate. It doesn’t take long to make a huge stack of them–then they are trimmed and ready for additions. I make them 6.5 inches square–and try as I might, I never seem to get to the bottom of the scrap bucket.

Mom’s UFO’s

There may be one or two quilters who can claim no UFO’s. I certainly have my share—and I’m not divulging exactly how many that is—I will admit to working on shrinking that stack–they seem to glare at me with accusing eyes demanding to know when I will get to them.

Some of the quilt group I have belonged to have issued UFO completion challenges. We have traded UFO’s–I think that is fun—but I’m not volunteering to take on more. Some require a commitment at the beginning of each year writing down the names of the projects, some involve a random selection by drawing a number each month. Most require visible proof of completion–and that is always fun to see the line-up of the finished projects and the dates started.

Starting a new project is always exciting and fun—but then there are those accusing piles of bags and boxes—not to mention boxes of scraps demanding attention.

Most of us have found extra time on our hands–with no visiting or trips to museums, movies, restaurants, family gatherings, or even the grocery store or doctor’s office. I’ve worked on a couple of new projects but also worked on finishing up—including some of my mother’s unfinished pieces.

One thing I tried was quilting two pieces at one time. I am limited by the size of my frame; I can comfortably quilt a 72 inch wide piece…but using the wide backing fabric means i have about a hundred inches of length to work with—so that means several small pieces will fit.

I finished Mom’s little quilt top—it was a variation of a New York beauty and then worked on something I made featuring baskets and a variety of blocks combining it with some batik fabric I made with some tjaps from Thailand–and then a very old UFO of mine along with another new piece. They are quilted but not bound—good evening television projects.

Mom’s New York Beauty Variation
working on two at a time with one pantograph and the other custom
my birdhouse quilt meant to suggest looking out my kitchen window on a snowy wintery day
I think this is probably my oldest UFO dating from my life in Georgia
tthis is the basket quilt

If this last one makes you feel a bit dizzy–I rotated it in WordPress—usually I upload from my Smugmug account where I can manipulate the photos with greater ease–but to avoid neck strain on all of you I turned it. The plainish blue squares are from a length of fabric I batiked—and yes I like to use a lot of color in the quilting thread–it is a dark variegated blue/purple thread.

Cleaning up Crumbs

Maybe it has something to do with the way I was raised–rarely throwing away anything or maybe it is a fondness for these bits of fabric or just the soothing rhythm of my sewing machine as I stitch or the fairly mindless relaxation of combining these fragments together—but last year I was amazed and appalled to find I had an entire document box full of 6.5 inch sewn scrap squares.

I sew bits together, then trim them and re-combine until I have a square 6.5. I have lost and bought three of these rulers in the past few years. The pile of scraps never seems to diminish but they make good leader-ender pieces for all the other things I do.

While this may not seem too monumental, this year I put ‘doing something’ with these squares as my #7 on my UFO list—the number drawn in January for the American Patchwork UFO challenge. I’ve done this challenge three years in a row and while I didn’t always work on the UFO drawn for the month, it has been surprising how many of them have been completed—along with some others that never made it on a list.

There are still many more blocks to use in another project—and more crumb blocks are in process; but I was pleased with this final pieced top. Now all I have to do is think about a backing and get it quilted and bound.

crumb quilt in process

As it is now February, a new number has been drawn—and I am happy to report it is now completed and ready for quilting…I have a backing ready for it and will get its label done this afternoon. Photos will be posted after it is complete.

Bated Breath

Some time ago, I wrote about my experiment with batik and then the resulting fabric.

Here is what I did with the hemp//cotton blend.

close-up of one corner

The pale blue squares are that hemp/cotton blend. It sewed like an absolute dream—I really like the feel of it, the hand, and the subtle texture of the fabric. Then there’s the subtle batik imprints as well.

Some of you may be familiar with The Quilt Show hosted by Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims on the internet. Alex has been doing a series of Quilt-Alongs. This piece combines two of them, a sampler block and then a basket sampler. I used a scrap bag of hand-dyes by Ricky Tims as the solids and a layer cake of Tim Holtz grunge as the neutrals.

The next project Alex is presenting is a Christmas Quilt. She just finished one of wonky faces to be used as an Avatar—so many fun faces–I haven’t tried one—maybe this weekend. Along with the Handmade Book Club weekly facebook live postings, seeing their smiling faces makes some of the other things about current life less onerous.

It isn’t quilted yet but joins a very small stack of tops.

In other news; I injured my left shoulder while at work two weeks ago. That has put a significant hamper on a lot of activities I would normally be doing this time of year. It has improved—I can now brush my teeth sort of normally but it is still a challenge to comb my hair. Although I am not truly ambidextrous, that left arm is more than just a place holder. Hand works fine though, so life is not too bad.