Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Spurts of sewing

     For a whole host of reasons, I have only been able to sew in small spurts. I made a set of wine coasters as a birthday present for a friend who loves dachshunds, and a sample of scrappy bowties with partial seams in two sizes- one starting with 3 1/2" squares and one with 5" squares. I like them, even with the fussiness.

Love was blind

     Two years ago, I bought a kit from Quilters Corners in Ithaca, NY when I was on vacation. I fell in love with the fabric. The quilt made with the fabric was up high on the wall. There was no more of any of the fabrics because they cut up the bolts to make the kits. The kit package was all stapled together with the pattern (proprietary) inside. 
     As a rule, I don't buy kits. Maybe when Connecting Threads has lap size ones that I use for comfort quilts, but still, I can say I have never been enamored with the completed quilts. That is ok, I give them away to people who love them.
     However, this was an expensive kit, and the fabrics were from all different manufacturers. I caved because I fell in love with the collection of grays and the values. I bought it. When I opened it up at home, to my dismay, the instruction called for making blocks, slicing on the diagonal, swapping sides, sewing together and FUSING the contrasting strip and zig zagging it down. Yikes- I hate fusible and I hate raw edges, especially an entire quilt of slashes. I asked advice and experimented and had to recut the size of the centers, cut 1" strips, sew them in, try to match up the other side (marking, pinning, etc), to get them in order. No matter how hard I tried, the squares don't align. I finished the light value borders and have a border of darks with light centers (just need trimming) and then bigger blocks- med. borders with dark centers. 
    I still love the fabric but loathe working on this due to the difficulties lining things up. Here are the light blocks.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Rainbows on the Wall

    I got nabbed by a rainbow color jelly roll recently on MSQC and thought I would use it to make the Cutting Corners quilt by MSQC. I sewed strip sets, warm and cool, five strips to a set. They were then trimmed into 10" blocks. White 10" blocks were layered on them, right sides together, and they were sewn all around the perimeter. Then they were cut diagonally and ironed opened. I trimmed all of them the same size with the Bloc Loc ruler (love it). 
This is the 10" square strip set of 5, sewn all around
Front of the sandwich- a white 10" square
Sliced diagonally
Opened out- two blocks with strips parallel to center line,
2 with strips perpendicular to center line
Trimming with Bloc Loc
Trimmed blocks with scrap trimmings-
those little bits mean a lot in fitting
   When I put them on the wall, it did not look right as the colors were so different and it did not make a cohesive looking, block by block, quilt. I removed them and tried the Starburst Quilt, MSQC, and it did not read as a cohesive design due to all the colors. 
Design does not cohere together due to fractured colors
     I looked through my files that I keep in Evernote of quilts I like and their tutorials. I found one that I modified. There are two kinds of blocks in these sets- ones with the strips parallel to the HST angle, and another where the strips are perpendicular to the angle. I played with that idea and grouped them accordingly in the secondary design.
Main block arrangement, cool colors
First try, whoops, one center diamond strips at top is not oriented right, and whoops, two blocks short, have to make another set
Everything oriented right, extra blocks made and added.
Love the look! Now it is off the wall,
clipped by column ready to web sew

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Don't have the words

   In the photo is a frame I bought at a farmer's market in Old Forge, NY on vacation last week. It was made from a 100 year old barn that is being repurposed. It has a patina and character that you can't manufacture. Behind it is a wall quilt I made. I think this speaks to me on how I view quilts.
     I don't have the words for what I am reading is going on in the quilt world. Stores closings, magazines shutting down, book publishing ceased, blogs given up. I don't know what to say.
     I am a quilter. I have had a lot of different jobs and did all kinds of art, but I am in my heart, a quilter. I love fabric. Everything about it- color, texture, shape, pattern, feel. I love cutting up scraps and reassembling in a credible composition. I love making and giving comfort quilts and seeing the difference a quilt makes in a life. And those are only the ones I hear about. I have devoted time and resources, learning from blogs, classes, books, and shows to make me a better quilter - one who can handle fabric better to make unique quilts that give something nothing else does. I have read the Generation Q article. other bloggers views, and the interest waning in blogs over Instagram. What can I even say?
   Why I blog and read blogs and not Instagram:
* They have content and process which are a lifeblood to my work and progress.- they are communication. 
  Photos alone are a consumption of images, but no story or sharing or how to accomplish. 
  I need to know how people work and how they think. It gets me out of myself and enables me to be more creative in my quilting. I say without a doubt that without quilters' blogs, I would be a slave to kits or making the same mistakes over and over. There is so much I do not know, and the quilters out there are relentless in sharing and communicating a better way, a twist on the old, a path out of frustration. 
  Quilters put a lot of themselves into their blogs to educate people like met. Without Wanda, Sarah, Bonnie Hunter, Missouri Star Quilt Company, and many others on my reading list, I would not be a very good or very creative quilter. I have so much to learn, and hopefully share with readers.
* My blog documents my process and working for myself and others who are looking to expand their horizons.
* They are personal, you get a flavor for how a person looks at things and how their life flows.
* Over times and seasons, they form a human thread woven through their posts.
* They bring me into the worlds of people I will never get to meet or have a one on one conversation with.
* They show mistakes, dead ends, eureka moments, and work over time, progress, insights. 
* Blogging forces me to write and to simplify and explain instead of just charging ahead, unthinking, unreflective. I am not a writer, it is work for me to write. But work is good because it pays dividends.
     There is so much in my heart and head I would love to say, but there are no words that underline my life in quilting. 
    It is therapy when chronic pain and migraines would have me pull the covers over my head. 
    It is joy to give, mostly anonymously, to those so needing comfort and care. 
    It is always new and there are so many ideas in my head that sometimes I think I will burst. 
    In my quilt guild, I have met the most caring and sharing people. In classes, I have met strangers and become friends. 
    In fabric stores, I have experienced excitement and anticipation of creating. 
    In books, I have seen concrete steps to take and ideas to try. 
    I buy patterns from independent designers and am able to communicate with them via email. 
    I have been the recipient of quilters generous scraps and yardage to keep me going. I have the joy of restoring vintage machines and keeping them purring flawlessly sewing quilts. 
    So it is with sadness I see that the quilt world is shrinking and people would rather view thousands of Instagrams and Pinterests (they have their place) and not want the content of blogs nor participate, books, shows, and classes. I earnestly hope I can continue to share my process and ideas and receive the same. 
    I am a quilter.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Spa Time

     No, not for me, for a sister in law of a quilting friend. Actually for her Featherweight she recently purchased. It was kind of grungy, not well cared for. Alarming was the white smoke that came out of the motor when I ran it. Yikes. I took the motor apart (thanks to Elizabeth for her great tutorial) after I found a bit small enough to get the set screw off the pulley. There was so much carbon residue in there that it looked like someone dumped a pencil sharpener in there. The one carbon brush was stuck in the tube which is why I attempted to take the motor apart. I am not usually brave enough to do that. I swabbed all the dust out, scraped it out of the grooves in the commutator, got it back together (miracle), and when it ran, it was incredibly fast for a 221!! 
     It got a new belt and an LED light bulb. It took copious elbow grease to clean the gears, polish the metal and paint. Also lots of rags.  Also cleaned the case. It looked entirely different than the beginning. I emailed the before and after photos to Carol, so I hope she likes it. 
     I get this great satisfaction to bringing an old, excellently manufactured machine back to use and looks. It sews marvelously. Ahh.
Dirty before
Oxidized, rough finish paint, partially disassembled 
Gunky gears, yuck
All pretty now! 
Look how much light that LED gives!
Clean and greased gears
Ready to sew!

Tuckaway totes and pocket scarf

     I bought this pattern a while ago from McKenna Linn and made some of these totes. I had some presents to give and I thought these totes would be wonderful. I used mine at the AQS Syracuse show and it was very useful. When it was folded I could use it for my water bottle and when I made purchases, I had a non plastic, very strong (and pretty) tote. I made two at a time and loved the way they turned out. I only sew flat things, so for me these were not difficult.
Choosing colors and sizes 
Tote opened full size 

All folded up
     I also kind of fabricated an infinity scarf with a zipper pocket so it can hold money, cards, etc. I looked at a lot of them online, and came up with a version that needs NO handsewing. I basted the zipper in the seam with scotch tape and it is not an ace job (Andrea will laugh), but I am a quilter, what do I know about zippers? It was also a gift and my friend really loved it. It was a smooth knit that looked like rayon batik. Wish I had one.
Doubled up to wear
The zipper pocket in the seam.

Those two words- Stash enhancement

     They either strike fear or joy into your heart. Maybe a bit of each. I received a box of donated fabric from a friend for my comfort quilts. The fabrics were from a closed quilt store. Sob. Nice big pieces for backings and loads of batiks. Drooling starting when I opened the box.
      The other fabrics I bought from Wanda. I added to my reds and yellows and bought teal, blues for a king size quilt for my daughter. Now I have to get them folded and put away. Need to make a trip for more plastic boxes. Just folding fabric makes me happy. Cutting it out and making a quilt makes me delirious. 
      Just looking at the photos inspire me. Thank God I have the eyesight to see colors.
Whatever is inside??
Can Wanda pack fabric or what?
Blues for King Size
Red enhancement
Yellow enhancement
Extra bits of blues

Scraps tucked in

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What followed me home from AQS Syracuse

     I was fortunate to travel to AQS Syracuse, NY for the show with some women from my quilt guild. It is a shame AQS pulled out after this year. This show was better than last year- more vendors, better hanging of the quilts. Since I lost my two LQS, it is great to have so much available to look it. I did not impulse buy anything- it was all on my list or I had a purpose for. I have always loved the Lotta Jansdotter prints and they had a fat quarter bundle for a reasonable price.  I don't buy fat quarters anymore, but it was the whole line, $40 for 23 of them. The black, grays and creams are mostly from Jennifer Sampou's line and one booth had a great assortment of yardage. I did resist buying a custom thimble from TJ Lane. It was great, but it was $100. Nothing was real cheap, but I could look at it and touch it. When you look at the photos, it doesn't seem so much, but the receipts are painful.
Bundle of Lotta Jansdotter fat quarters and
assortment of yardage for a new project
Clover adjustable thimble, needles, Pearl cotton size 8 variegated and solid- from Wonderfil, Premo soft thread, Needle nanny to hold scissors, extra leader grips, replacement blades for seam ripper, tacky adhesive for rulers, blue line marker