Monday, November 28, 2016

Plan for J. I. Case Quilt

A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from one of my brothers.  I couldn't take the call, and the transcription was totally bizarre, but I now know that in addition to COPD, he has emphysema.  He and his wife live in South Carolina, and I think I've seen him only two or three times in the last 25+ years.  He's spent much of his life as a big rig driver, and the last time I saw him was when he had a load from California that took him through here on I-40.  Most of his driving was much farther east.  Once he retired, he taught driving for some trucking companies and schools.  At this point, he's digging water wells.

Despite the fact that he's been smoking for at least 45 years, or maybe because of that, I think he should have a prayer quilt. I have a J. I. Case/International Harvester panel that reminds me of a shop/lumber/supply business that we used to patronize in Gridley, Illinois--back when we were the farmer's kids.

He was driving a tractor by the time he was seven or eight years old--and would have been happy to be a farmer all his life if Dad hadn't sold the farm.  After all, his name, George, means farmer.  Fortunately, he also loves driving big rigs, and that was a good career for him.

 As luck would have it, these are not my usual colors, so I had to go shopping.  Kokapelli Quilts/Southwest Decoratives just off I-25 and Paseo del Norte in Albuquerque had a well-timed $2.00 fat quarter sale.  (I discovered last summer that I have almost no real reds.)

Ann Silva's Bernina had some lovely grays, which I chose because our soil was rich, black loam, but my aging eyes didn't want to contend with a lot of black.  I just might tease him that these were the colors we found in his ears at the end of each day on the farm.

This is my starting plan; the plain blocks are approximately where the colors are in the panel.
These patchwork blocks and their placement may very well change, and I may substitute some other blocks.  At least I now have a plan, although not much time to execute it.  I really hope that when I retire, I'll have boundless energy, and many, many years for quilting.  For this quilt, however, I'm figuring a much tighter timeline.  Three weeks until winter break.

Happy quilting, knitting, sewing, and crafting,

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Which Flying Geese Method Is Faster?

Because I decided to add flying geese to the fishing panel, I was curious about which of my usual three methods was faster.
I did not try the "four at a time" method, because I didn't think I wanted four of each fabric.

I have Eleanor Burns Flying Geese 3x6/1.5x3 ruler, so I tried that method.  Here are the steps in photos:
 Eleanor's method is extremely accurate and starts with two squares of different sizes.

 Stitching 1/4" on each side of the drawn pencil line.

 Cutting on the pencil line.

 To my small homemade pressing board, which is why there are lavender stripes.

 Pressing seams toward the background fabric.

 Laying them edge to edge and drawing diagonal pencil line.

 Pin and sew 1/4" on each side of line.

 Cut on pencil line.

 Note space between flying geese.

 Align ruler with flying goose and trim.

 Do the same for other goose.  The rotating mat was quite helpful.

The other method I tried was to cut goose fabric into rectangles and background fabric into squares.
 Strips of background.
 Sub-cut strips into squares.

 Align tape with needle.  Ruler helps be sure the tape is perfectly aligned.  (My Jansjo light from Ikea is reflected in the ruler.  Sorry about that, but it gives me a chance to mention how much I love using those lamps; much better than the lights on most sewing machines; of course, there are no lights on my treadles.)

 Place background square on goose rectangle and sew diagonally across square.

 Keep corner of square aligned with the edge of the tape.

 Oops!  Be sure to insert sewing machine needle in the correct place and do not try to just chain feed without lifting presser foot.

 Ripping/frog stitching tip.  Place the red ball of the seam ripper on the underneath side and keep the longer tip on the top of the fabric.  Much faster to rip, and since I don't use dull seam rippers, I don't have to worry about cutting fabric instead of thread. (If you've not tried this, do.  You'll love it!)

Trim seam allowance and sew the second square on. Check against Eleanor's ruler.

Verdict:  The second method saved over five minutes per pair of geese.  The second method also gave me four more half square triangle blocks for some other project.  I make that seam before I press and trim off the excess.

I did sew together too many flying geese units on one side, so I used my ripping technique again.  I think most people have been taught to keep the red ball of the ripper on top, but ripping with it on the underside saves sooooo much time.

The other two methods of making geese are perfectly fine, but now I know which method is faster.

I have the fishing panel with its flying geese borders finished, and am waiting for batting and backing to arrive. While I was hopeful that my college girl would hold it so I could get a photo while she was home for Thanksgiving, that didn't happen, but we had a joyful Thanksgiving.
I need to figure out a way to create a wall for taking photos of my quilts somewhere in this small house.  I've photographed a lot of quilt tops and quilts outside, but with winds up to 55 mph today, the outside is definitely not a choice. (Driving to and from church was a bit unpleasant today; we're experiencing the first of three consecutive storm systems.  Hopefully, they'll be through here by Thursday or so!)

Happy quiltmaking, knitting, sewing, and crafting,

Friday, November 25, 2016

Quick Snapshots of Christmas Quilt

I do need a wall that's big enough and free of other things so I can do quilt photos.
This is a Christmas quilt--despite the fact that over 35 years ago I said I'd never make a Christmas quilt! Too much time required to make one for too little time to use it, I reasoned.

I changed my mind two years ago when I found these pre-printed panels, mostly because I knew from previous "Bob Warr" quilts that the piecing would go quickly..
 I added two borders to each block.  Except for the red triangles, the fabrics are from my treasured fabrics from the late 1980s.

 Then I added a border of a wintry gray fabric from the 1990s. (No, I did not choose the best spot to photograph, but the fact that I didn't notice, says something about how forgiving the fabric is.)  I was not especially pleased with the gray quilting, so I tried something different in the other three borders.

 There I used a pale blue thread that just lit up the gray border fabric.

 For the quilted areas around the blocks I used swirlies that go quickly and are ever so much fun to do.

For the binding I cut the red fabric 1.75 inches wide and the green fabric 1.5 inches wide.  After seaming them together, I pressed the seam allowance toward the red and then pressed the edges together--which created faux piping about 1/8th inch wide.

I used Glide quilting threads.

Binding on at last--after the quilt languished for about two years! Now that it's bound and ready for snuggling, I'm thinking there's a good possibility that I'll make another Christmas quilt--or at least a winter themed quilt.

So, I'm quite happy to have a Christmas quilt with colors that will make it useful well into January. I'm just as happy to have a binding on it that required no hand stitching!  (Back when I did hand piecing and hand quilting, I think I was in denial about my own mortality and didn't realize that the ideas will always come much more quickly than the time to execute them!)

Thanksgiving weekend is flying by!  I spent yesterday baking several batches of rolls before we joined friends for Thanksgiving dinner with our twenty-something children, friends, and loved ones.
This morning the college girl and I were at Busy Bee Quilts shortly after seven for the only Black Friday sale that interested me and then went to East Mountain Grill for a little breakfast.  She studied for a while and then went off to see the latest Harry Potter movie with friends while I worked on quilt binding. I'm hopeful that in three weeks when winter break begins I'll have plenty of energy for more quiltmaking.

I hope you all experience a very blessed weekend as well!

Happy quiltmaking, knitting, and creating,

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Why It's an Insult to Offer $100 for a Quilt

 Center panel....

with coordinating fabrics...over $100 already.
Still to go...undoubtedly a few more fabrics, a coordinating backing for the quilt, batting,  thread....
and when finished it will be big enough to use while watching TV but not big enough for a bed.
Shall we count the hours it takes to make it?

I'm not being grouchy.  I'm just pointing out that we need to respect the investment quiltmakers have in fabric, design, supplies, time, talent, skills, and creativity.

Happy quiltmaking, knitting, and handcrafting,....

P.S.: In response to those who have asked, I've decided to post my progress on this quilt as I go along.  I'd like to have it finished by the end of November.  That means that instead of working on multiple projects, I'll try to focus on this one.  That means if you know a family getting a handmade quilt for Christmas or a birthday, you can direct them to these posts so they will have some idea just what is involved in making such a precious, albeit often unappreciated, gift.

Also  in response to those who have asked, yes, you may share a link to this post on your blog or on Facebook.

While people balk at the idea of paying $25 per hour, there are quite a few quiltmakers charging even more--and rightly so.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Another Part of Autumn Inspiration

As I was thinking about the fabrics I've been piecing, I was reflecting on the autumn quilt I made a couple of years ago for my childhood friend Pat Orr's husband as he awaited a transplant.  It contained a variation of the Maddie-and-Isabella-inspired colors, but I never posted about the finished quilt.

I had just gotten my Nolting longarm when I quilted it--and the quilting reflects that.  It speaks fall to me since it reflects my youth on the farm near El Paso, Illinois.  I realized I had purchased the fabric in 2010 and not used it until Pat's husband needed a prayer quilt.  He went home to be with the Lord before he was able to receive the transplant but not before he had some time with the quilt. In fact, it was the urgency of getting it to him that prevented me from taking more pictures and posting about it.

I have enough fabric panels to make another quilt, and hope to make it soon.  Ahhh, so much inspiration, so many fabrics, so many quilt designs in my head and in EQ7....and so little sewing and quilting time!  At least I'm in good company!

Happy creating,.....

Friday, October 7, 2016

Autumn's Song

I'm still squeezing in time for quiltmaking, knitting, tatting, etc. between therapies for my knee and teaching full time, although that would be difficult to discern from my blog posts.

Yesterday, in addition to physical therapy, I made a quick run to Busy Bee Quiltshop at Edgewood, NM to add some oranges to my supply for autumn quilt blocks. This may be somewhat shocking since I absolutely do not like orange (except in my juice glass and a few other things).

Over the last several weeks my sweet students Maddie and Isabella have worn a some very distinctive clothing in these colors to school. (Isabella even has a pair of amazing heliotrope shoes.)

So, I had to come home and piece some blocks in honor of autumn.  The little quilt below was made mostly from stash.  Some of you may recognize one of Jinny Beyer's Palette  fuchsia blenders, from the late 1980s, I believe.  It's one of those fabrics I treasure and occasionally add to a quilt.
 I have a good friend with a birthday later this month, so I need to get the binding on this so she can use it to celebrate autumn.

 This was so much fun to piece and quilt!  However, since my happy heart has not yet had enough of these blocks, I've revised it as shown above in the second photo. I'm thinking of making another revision as well.

 The border is adorned with happy feathers and vines, and the next little quilts are expected to receive the same kind of border treatment.

I'm still carrying my tatting with me for when I get stuck in other people's time warps, and since I started a sweater, via Myra Wood's Craftsy class, The Perfect Fit Seamless Crazy Lace Cardigan,
 I usually have some knitting with me.  I seem to get caught in those other-people's-time-warps whenever I leave my knitting or tatting at home!

My daughter has decided to pursue her master's degree in materials science and engineering with an emphasis in metallurgy.  Nineteen years ago today I was in China, frustrated by the things my agency had decided I must see and do before I could actually meet her and hold her in my arms.  She has come far in countless ways.  I admire her determination, her intelligence, and, most of all, her fine character and inner beauty.  In many ways she is a Phoenix. She's beautiful on the outside, but it's the inner beauty that is the blessing she brings to the world.

Happy quilting, knitting, and creating,..
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