Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Slow, but moving forward

      Progress on UFOs and other stuff is being made, but I wish I had superpowers for just one day to get it done. The mystery quilt from Alycia, Dakota Inspired (A12) has been sewn for a long while, but I finally got it quilted over the weekend. I made the binding, which is glued on now, and hope to get it sewn. As soon as the quilt was trimmed off the longarm and hit the floor and I got my camera, the newest inspector was already on the job.

Binding made, now glued, ready to sew
     I confess, I could not wait to the retreat to web and sew Rolling Stone. It has a 1 1 /2" white border on it, but it needs more. I tried a many fabrics (2 shown here), but they do not let the fabrics in the blocks shine. I have no more of that fabric as it was a layer cake I got on Etsy. I just don't know how to finish it off, so this is stalled.

     I appreciate when people tell of good purchases that are useful and reasonable, so I am giving a recommendation here for light. I always need more light. My husband put in one of those puff LED  ceiling lights that does help, but when I am sewing, I need more light around the machine. I was browsing on Amazon for lights that were adjustable and not chunky. I got this Micomlan LED adjustable 2 light clampable lamp and am happy with it so far. It has different levels of brightness (I use the brightest) and different colors (I use the coolest). It twists to fit exactly how I want it positioned. Where I have it clamped, it can rotate over to the Singer 301 where I do small piecing and it can be readjusted. I like to have light on the needle area, but also all around the fabric so I don't feel like I am sewing in a hole. There are many kinds of these. I read the reviews, that day there was a small coupon, and just tried it. The fact that there are 2 lights on the bars, makes a big difference on the surrounding fabric.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Moving some forward

     Looking through my bags of projects, I moved some forward. I finished the blocks for two quilts, arranged on the wall, and got them ready for webbing, clipping them in colums, and bagging them. Quilt retreat is at the end of March, and I find if I take quilts that need webbing and assembly, I get them sewn as there are no interruptions and they feed us. These two will be assembled there.
     First, I finished the black and white Oh my Stars swap quilt. A friend gave me enough B&W prints to finish it. My order from https://ineedfabric.com/ never has arrived. I have to try and get a refund. I did about 20 arrangings, but settled on this. I know I will use a border, but undecided how to do it yet.

     The other quilt was Rolling Stone, a free pattern from Jordan Fabrics  I still need to sew the sashing on before I take it off the wall and clip it for webbing. Border unknown yet also. Great use for a layer cake with little waste.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Unexpected Treasures Part 2

      In making comfort quilts, there are times that, I hate to say, I worry about having the resources to keep making them and the bags to give away. For a number of years, I repaired and gave spa days to vintage sewing machines people needed help with. I only asked for a donation so I could purchase what I needed for the quilts and it was totally up to the machine owner to give as they wanted. I was able to finance buying batting, fabric, thread, the bags and books, etc. to keep providing comfort quilts on referral. During the pandemic, that all dried up and has not returned. I don't mind buying it out of pocket, I just worry I won't be able to as prices climb. It is stupid to worry, I always have enough to keep going.
      A friend I met at a quilt class almost nine years ago, Gwen, has at times, sent me big boxes of fabric for backings. A number of times, Quiltdiva Julie has sent me tops, backings, and fabric to finish and distribute to recipients. These are an incredible blessing. In the last month, Julie asked me if I wanted some quilts she had cut out, but found her interest had dwindled in them as her other quilt work pulled her in. I said, YES! and she mailed me two huge boxes with 4 quilts cut out and backing fabric. Can you believe it? I am overjoyed.

     I sewed one together, Scrappy Color Bars (free pattern), and decided to add some leaves blowing across to move the quilt up a design notch. The leaves are pinned and I am sewing them on- no fusible. I sewed the leaves by pairing the fabric and feather weight interfacing, cutting a slit in the interfacing, turning and pressing the leaf flat. I am going to use my 70s Bernina 830 to applique them on with a blind stitch using invisible thread. Hope it works! It is quite large- 70 x 90. Can't wait to start the others!
All ready to sew the Burnt Orange kit on the speedy Juki
for chain piecing!

On the wall

I have added more leaves since this photo, most smaller, and am ready to start sewing them down. I pinned them with safety pins.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Unexpected treasures Part 1

      There are plenty of unexpected things that happen that are a "uh-oh" instead of a happy dance (car dashboard light pop on for example). I have been incredibly blessed out of the blue by some caring people.
     The first one was a bowl presented to me by a member of my Bible study class at the beginning of class after Thanksgiving. The bowl was a thank you for teaching and a pun on the bowls in Revelation (those aren't so good). Joe is a woodturner and owns a woodturning supply store. At the time, he was building a store so he could stop renting and have more room. Costruction was a daunting task, yet he found the time to make this bowl, get signatures from people in the class, and somehow transfer them to the bottom of the bowl. It is cherry and large and totally wonderful. I was speechless which was not good because I had to teach as we are working our way through the book of Revelation. I think Quiltdiva Julie may have an appreciation for it because her husband is a woodturning wizard.

     Aren't the colors and designs in the wood just the best? Cherry is my favorite wood and every square inch of it is so varied and gorgeous.
     Because Christmas was delayed/cancelled due to the Buffalo Blizzard and my mother's hospital/rehab emergency, it was a while until I got together with my friend Elizabeth. She made me an incredible tote bag using some orphan blocks from her Pickle Clamshell quilt. She used the foamy interfacing and the whole bag is of high quality and impeccable workmanship. She had all kinds of goodies in the bag including fabric. I almost am afraid to use it and get it dirty.
Similar designs on the other side.
     And then, just last week, I got a box in the mail from a place I never heard of, Southern Seasons. When I opened the cardboard box, this was inside. It had a note in it from Joy wishing me a Happy Valentines Day! Can you believe it? Wow. Inside were items from Graham, NC. Roasted peanuts, dark chocolate pecan toffee, and a cookie in a beautiful photo box.

     I am grateful that all the unexpected happenings were bountiful blessings. Now about that car dashboard light....

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Crazy crumbs, but why?

      Sometimes I have no idea how I get down a rabbit trail (squirrels). I saw Jo Kramer's post and video on red center crumb blocks, so I cut some small red squares and used blue, green strips to create blocks as leader enders. I used the cut off triangles from attaching binding strips to sew around 1 1/2" red squares. Then I added strips to build blocks. Lots of fun. I have a pile of blocks in various sizes sitting here.
     I haven't the faintest idea how to put them together. I enjoy sewing them as leader enders, but I need to stop and make a real comfort quilt as the leader project, so I selected Triple Treat- Bonnie Hunter's leader ender of the year to make. The crumb blocks will sit until I can somehow think how to connect them.

Have about double this amount and some bigger

Plain blue strips, a border maybe

Two sample blocks. I have plenty of squares cut for the 4 patches,
have to cut 2/12" strip scraps into the 2 1/2" and 6 1/2" lengths yet

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Making the Valentines

      Every year, I make Christmas and Valentines cards. It is always a stretch to get them done, but I have been able to do it so far. There probably will be a time I will not be able to make so many. I kick myself because there are always people I could add to the list, but I just cannot add any more and be timely.
     This year, I decided to make the fronts in one large piece that I could longarm and save wear and tear on me. I started with a large piece of washed cotton sheeting. I laid it on a table covered with plastic drop cloth.
      First, on dry fabric, I used cookie cutters dipped in soy wax and stamped designs all across the fabric. Soy wax melts at a low temp. It comes in flakes and I put a metal bowl in an electric fry pan and the wax melts on low temp. I dipped the cookie cutters into the melted wax and stamped one at a time. Soy wax removes with hot water and blue Dawn.
     After that, I wet the whole piece and dropped on acrylic paints that were watered down to act like watercolors. I used a variety of reds, pinks, oranges and violet. When it dried, it was a bit pale for my taste, so I sprayed it with water and dropped the paint again. I think thickend dyes would have been more intense, but I never used them before. When dry, I scraped some metallic paint over it. When dry, I washed all the wax out with hot water and Dawn. I let it try and then used big chunky foam stamps (from when I was an art teacher) and sponged on acrylic paint, stamping all over the fabric.

     When totally dry, I drew in chalk a grid the size of the card fronts. I loaded it on the longarm using heavy white felt as the backing and batting. I later realized that Rosie the cat had ripped out part of the batting (she loves shredding battin) which  did not notice until I had longarmed over the area, so it was not as padded there. I used black thread and quilted over the grid lines so I could cut the pieces apart. I should have quilted more lines, because when I cut them apart, sometimes there was not enough stitching to hold the edges together and I had to re sew on my Singer 301 the edges of the heart piece, adding more time. I free handed the hearts on the longarm and echoed over them.
     As a result, no two cards are exactly the same, but have a lot of different character across the surface which is precisely how I like my quilts and why I love to use so many fabrics or scraps.

Finally, the card assembly
     I wish I had more in process photos. However, I was trying to handle a lot of materials, especially messy ones, and I had to concentrate every step to avoid disaster. This made it hard to add taking photos to the mix. For those who received the cards- remember I love you! I have a couple of cards left over if you just have to have one even after the day.