Monday, December 31, 2012

DWM: year-end edition

This daisy bouquet wallhanging is for a P.E.O. sister who recently moved from here (Chicago suburbs) to Atlanta. Another member of our chapter, who is also a quiltmaker, will attach the binding. The pattern is by Linda Sullivan, d/b/a Linderella's Design Studio, and was published in McCall's Quick Quilts (July, 2006).

Do you remember these blocks from last week's DWM?  Set all together they were too dark.  I tried purple/lavender squares and found that those were too dark, as well.  [Note to self: next time cut just a couple of squares to audition rather than the entire piece of fabric in case you discover that it's not right for the project.] I rootled deeper in my batik stash and found a yard of yellow for the squares and a brighter purple for the setting triangles.  I've had the purple-and-yellow batik (border fabric)   for six years or so.    (The flimsy is approx. 66 x 73 and used 3-1/2 yards.)
Here is Easy Street, Step 6.  Pairs of 2" strips cut into 3.5" bricks.  128 of 'em? No problem!   Bonnie has just posted Step 7 of Easy Street. Yikes -- it's time to put the units together and I still haven't cut the lime green squares. 
You can see what other quiltmakers are working on at Judy's Patchwork TimesJudy's Patchwork Times. 
And tune in to this blog tomorrow for my Annual Reckoning post!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It followed me home!

This time of year many quiltmakers (and nonquiltmakers) are chatting about the need to simplify, which includes cutting down on the amount of stuff we have.   My efforts to destash and declutter can be summed up as "one step forward and two steps sideways."

I always have a Salvation Army donation box going and last week I dropped the most recent box off at the local store.  My husband did his part last week by deaccessioning 14 t-shirts. (When I posted that fact on Facebook, and mentioned that among the 14 was the t-shirt from the Three Dog Night concert that was the ALA Scholarship Bash in 2001, there were several comments to the effect of "How could he?  I remember that concert!" and "That's still my favorite t-shirt." I may have to rescue that one from the rag bag.)

I kept a coat and a dress of my mother's, thinking that I'd use the fabric for a memory quilt or something. It's been 10 years since she passed away and I haven't done anything with either.   I took them out of the closet when my sister and niece came for Christmas dinner.  My niece tried them on and they fit perfectly!  And so they went home with her. 

The coat is Ultrasuede, that "miracle fabric" of the 1970's. It is still very expensive ($69/yard at Vogue Fabrics).  Circa 1980 my mother found out about a factory in Chicago that made Ultrasuede clothing and had an outlet store (back when factory outlets were really at the factory).  She got this blue coat, which has a sort of ruffled collar and a self-belt (no buttons).
The dress is cotton. Mother made it about 1960.  There's a lot more detail in the pattern than I'd ever have patience to sew today, with an attached, pleated skirt and a shaped collar. She sewed all the buttonholes by hand because the Greybar sewing machine was straight-stitch only.

For her turn, my sister brought these pieces of Royal Copenhagen that Mother specifically left to her.  Mother inherited them from her cousin Savina.   My sister was willing to part with them because they don't go with her decor.  I remember Mother saying, "They're quite valuable."  I looked them up, and they are.   Though they do go with my decor, I would never use them for fear I'd chip them.  I'm going to try to sell them -- that's a 2013 project. :)

And finally:  here's what followed me home today.  This string quilt has a few ripped patches, but for $4.08 at Salvation Army I could not resist. I don't think it's a made-in-China cheapie (the fabric is too eclectic and the batting is heavy cotton).  It was a made-in-China cheapie and I gave back in a box of thrift-shop donations. There's a name tape label on the back: "G. Lemieux" but no date. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

DWM: the day before Christmas edition

Here's what I accomplished during my first week of vacation.
*  36 Churn Dash blocks in 19th century reproduction fabrics for a BlockSwappers' exchange. I've sent them off to Victoria though they aren't due until February 15.

*  65 Care Bags.  You can read more about this nonprofit project here.  In one of their newsletters they said they distributed an average of 100 bags a month, so I decided I'd contribute 100 bags a year. I did that for three years and then I got off track.  This week I pulled out the box with what I'd made in 2010:  35 bags.  I pulled out a tub of "miscellaneous" fabric (not quilting, not fashion) and began cutting and sewing.  I mailed two big boxes, with 100 bags, on Saturday.
For the 2013 batch of Care Bags!
-- Care Bags notes:  they can be made with handles or drawstrings. Drawstrings bags are quicker! I use clothesline for the drawstrings (.50 for a 20-yard hank at Big Lots, sufficient for 5 bags).  Home dec or corduroy are about the right weight -- if I use quilting cotton I add lining.  I try to have a fair number of Care Bags that will appeal to boys (=no flowers, hearts, etc.).

*  Easy Street, Step 5.  These were easy indeed!  I still can't figure out how all the units will fit together.

*  A few more 5" batik Puss-in-the-Corner blocks.  I'm still not sure where this project is going. 

You can see what other quiltmakers are working on at Judy's Patchwork Times  and Bonnie's Quiltville.

Monday, December 17, 2012

DWM: Easy Street 4, log cabins, and crossed stars

 Here's Easy Street, step 4. I whipped up the purple-and-turquoise geese....and then found out I had cut them all too big!  Well, I had only to trim them down.  Here is one guess for setting the blocks. The color scheme is pretty snappy!

 This 60 x 60 flimsy began with log cabin blocks from the estate sale I went to last week.  There was just enough of the red print used in the logs left to make the 36 3" nine patches. I was pleasantly surprised that the on-point setting fit around the log cabin blocks.  The outer border is a Thimbleberries print I've had for quite some time--another one of those "I can't cut this!" pieces. It was just right. 

This month's Block Lotto is "Star Crossed."  The directions were to use any three fabrics as long as the values contrast. That forced a good exercise as I selected the fabric.

This is a vacation week for me, so I'm late getting this posted to the
Quiltville link-up and to Design Wall Monday at  Judy's Patchwork Times.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A thank you note (and my 300th post)

What a nice topic for my 300th blogpost!

Like many other quiltmakers, I donate quilts to community organizations for fundraising events.  This fall I donated A Little Bit Liberated to Literacy Volunteers.  This lovely note arrived in my library e-mailbox this week.

Greetings Nann,
I am writing to thank you for the wonderful quilt you donated to the Literacy Volunteers of Lake County. On the day of the walk, I was the lucky winner of that beautiful piece of handwork. My granddaughter and I enjoy looking for matching squares. It keeps me comfortably warm on the evenings I am home relaxing. It is being put to very good use.
Thank you for sharing your talent and giving me a very special gift.
Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
J____ B____, Board Member of LVLC

Sunday, December 9, 2012

DWM: Step 3, L&E, and a new project

Easy Street, step 3.  I think I've gotten the hang of using the EZ Angle ruler.

The estate sale fabric included a log cabin quilt in progress. There were 16 completed blocks, 9 small blocks that were assembled differently from the 16, some cut strips, a partial FQ of the red fabric, and an entire FQ of the floral (outermost strip). I thought the small blocks might be a border but there's not enough fabric to make more of them. The straight furrows set works best because the shift from light to dark is too abrupt to set them with lights or darks in the center. My stash turned up a medium-dark blue print (with little red cherries) that coordinates, but now I think that the 3" strippy border is not wide enough.....I realized that there is no urgency to finish this. It's only been in my possession 48 hours. I can let it sit.   (Can you tell that I didn't make these blocks?  The clue: they are all the same. My style is scrappy--the more fabrics, the better.)

 Here are my current leaders-and-enders. I have two boxes full of nickel squares, so called because they are 5". I pulled out all the reds. I cut 5" squares from white fabric (using up partial FQs and other scraps).  I paired red & white, cut twice diagonally, and sewed/pressed/trimmed.  I now have quite a stack of 3-1/2" units.  If I add green I'll have a Christmas quilt. If I add blue I'll have a patriotic quilt. Or I may use some other color.

The Sept./Oct., 2005, issue of Quiltmaker has a pattern called "Heritage Squares." The blocks finish at 4.5" (thus 5" unfinished). I thought this would be a good way to use up bits and pieces of batiks. The pattern calls for 132 blocks blocks alternating with 5" squares.   I don't know how many I'll make.  No rush on these.

Check out other Step 3s on Bonnie's Quiltville  and see what's on design walls near and far on Judy's Patchwork Times.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Estate sale and antiquing: what I did and didn't buy

A library colleague emailed me earlier in the week to say that his mother, a quiltmaker, had passed away and that the estate sale would be this weekend (December 6-8) in Crystal Lake. "You won't believe how much fabric she had," he wrote.  Well, yes, I would!    I wasn't able to go until Friday afternoon -- after a morning meeting and picking up this year's shipment of grapefruit and oranges for Rotary.  Crystal Lake is about 30 miles away.

        It was just as well that I went on the second day. The fabric was bagged in 2-gallon plastic bags, marked at $8.00., stuffed in higgledy-piggledy. There was less to choose from (so I was assured by two women who'd been there Thursday). The estate sale woman was amenable to dealing, so I got the fabric for half price. I didn't know until I got home what treasures I'd gotten. I weighed the packages and reckon 55 yards, for $31.00.

 I also got a stack of quilting books....and this charming china rose bouquet, 2" tall, no broken petals.  

On my way home I stopped at the Volo Antique MallBonnie Hunter posts about her antiques mall finds and I was channeling her.  Look what I discovered!  

This is a Wheeler & Wilson treadle, Civil War-era.   Here is more about the company -- if you scroll down a ways there is a drawing of this very model.   The price for this was $200.  It's a beauty but I have NO place for it.

Nor do I have a place for this thread cabinet -- at  $1100 I couldn't afford it.

 Marshall Field's boxes are collectable now.  (I keep cookie cutters in a MF&Co. box because that's what my mother did. She did so because it was expedient; I do so because of sentiment.)  

There was a nice Sunbonnet Sue quilt.

This is what I did buy, for $2.57 (with tax). It's a cotton hankie that may be WWII era.  (I recently read Wearing Propaganda which is about WWII-era textiles in the U.S., Europe, and Japan.) 

(I got the soldier-print silk hankie at an estate sale last summer.)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Design Wall Monday: Step 2, Christmas gifts, and a flimsy

My accomplishments this week: 
*  128 Flying Geese for Easy Street, Step 2.   I usually use the cut-off corner method for FG.  This time I am following Bonnie's directions as well has her pattern so I used the EZ and Companion Angle rulers for these geese.  Despite what I consider to be careful cutting and sewing, I had a dozen under-sized units and I had to trim a few others. Practice makes perfect!
*  Five potholders that will be Christmas gifts.  The block is an Ohio Star variation -- 9" finished.  It was fun to choose different Christmas fabrics for each one.  I used Insul-Brite and a piece of batting inside.

*  Blue/brown D9P blocks assembled and bordered. The flimsy is about 78 x 78.

Don't miss other bloggers' posts about Easy Street  and Design Wall Monday.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Design Wall Monday: Christmas projects and Easy Street

(Note to self: be sure to save blog posts while typing....I was just about finished when I pressed a key and the entire post disappeared.)

We had a pleasant and unevent-filled Thanksgiving.  I took Wednesday off and enjoyed the extra day.  We avoided shopping on Friday but I succumbed to the appeal of Joann's "25% off total purchase" on Saturday and got some good bargains.  DH joined me on a beach/woods walk on Thursday when temperatures were still mild.  I bundled up for walks on sunny but chilly Saturday and Sunday.

Each year I make ornaments for the library staff, trustees, and volunteers.  These "Texas Tears" blocks are 3-1/2".  They used  1-3/4 yards of Christmas stash and two skeins of perle cotton that I've had for a long, long time. (Thanks to blogger Kathy for the idea!)

On Friday Bonnie Hunter revealed step #1 in her new mystery, Easy Street:  192 3-1/2" four-patches in gray and black-on-white.  The units were simple to make, but that quantity is tedious!  If previous experience holds true, the subsequent steps in this mystery will be more complex.

Several years ago I assembled this pieced rail fence from fabric left over from a Christmas project.  It languished in the orphan blocks box.  I leafed through a quilting book at Joann's on Saturday and got an idea.  (I didn't buy the book, but I remembered the concept.)  I removed three rows, added borders, and added appliques.  This 24 x 48 table runner will be my contribution to the P.E.O. ornament exchange at the December holiday potluck.  ("Ornaments don't have to go on the tree.")   (The P.E.O. emblem is the star and there were 7 founders, hence the 7 appliques.)

And, finally, here's the quilt I totally did not intend to begin this weekend.  Sew Many Swaps had a recent  exchange for 9-patch blocks in brown, tan, and blue, as seeds for Disappearing 9-Patch.  I got to cutting and sewing (leaders-and-enders while I was making all those Texas Tears blocks).   The brown-and-tan setting/border fabric was a Joann's bargain at 60% markdown plus 25% off. 
I keep rearranging the blocks to better distribute the lights and darks, but this gives you an idea of the design I have in mind.

It's Easy Street Monday on Bonnie's blog , and as always, take a look at Design Wall Monday on Judy's blog. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Design Wall Monday: piece in haste....

 The Zion-Benton Leadership Academy is an initiative to equip individuals with skills they can use as active, contributing members in community agencies and organizations.  I was the co-chair of the program which had its inaugural class this fall.  The 12 participants met for four three-hour sessions, every other Saturday. Each was matched with a mentor who is a community leader who provided coaching and encouragement.   The graduation was Saturday -- a beautiful sunny morning at the Winthrop Harbor Yacht Club.  The photo shows all of the participants and the five ZBLA committee members.  The participants are eager to put their skills and new connections into practice!   

The library's 8th annual craft fair was also on Saturday.  My shift at the library staff table was 3-4 p.m., the closing hour of the show.  I sold two quilts at $60 each.  (I spent $47 at other crafters' booths, so I came out ahead.)

Sunday afternoon DH and I went to see the new movie Lincoln.  It was excellent. 
 As for this week's quilting: 

Henrietta left a comment on my DWM post last week. I looked up her blog and found this quilt in progress.  She in turn posted a link to a pattern for that design by Cheryl Malkowski for Timeless Treasures:  here    It was just right for a raffle quilt for the AAUW holiday luncheon next month.  I pulled out reds, greens, and cream-on-cream.  Cheryl's instructions made cutting the "chisel" pieces easy.  I used two Christmas prints for a pieced back.  I free-motioned in a medium-sized meander.  The binding was easy, and I was done!    [Stash used:  6-3/8 yards.]

Then I took the photo.  And looked.  And found that two of the chisels are pieced the wrong way.  Drat.  I will still take it to the AAUW party and hope that no one will notice the mispiecing.

I made the pattern according to the directions, with 4 reds and 4 greens cut into 3.5" strips. If I made it again I would use at least 6 of each color and I'd cut the strips smaller. That would make smaller blocks, of course. 

Take a look at what other quiltmakers are working on this week at Judy's Patchwork Times.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

DWM: Winnings, and a finish

"Hope of Hartford" was the NLCQG block-of-the-month for October. The center and the background fabrics were supplied.  They're 12-1/2" (unfinished).   I won half the blocks -- here they are. I'm not sure how I'll set them, but I know to wait a month or two because it is likely that a few more blocks will be turned in later. 

This year the BOM has had a different 12" star block each month.  Participants are invited to make samplers in colorways of their own choosing. I've saved the patterns in case I'd like to give that a try.

Here is this weekend's finish.  The scrappy hearts were a Block Swapper's exchange.  I set them and added a white border (see here ). When I pulled the flimsy out of the box I thought that the  all-white border was rather boring. I tried a matchstick border (red with white tips) but that had too much red.  In the end, I made a checkerboard which turned out just right. I quilted hearts in the hearts, meandering in the background, and more "almost feathers" in the border.  The finished quilt is 48 x 54. 

See what other quiltmakers have on their design walls at Judy's Patchwork Times.
(And leave a comment! They are appreciated.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Easy Street: the fabric

Easy Street is Bonnie Hunter's 2012 mystery quilt.  Her colors are apple green, turquoise, and purple with a gray constant and black-on-white as an accent. 

Fat quarters + yardage
I have all the green, turquoise, and purple well-represented in my stash.   The instructions call for 2 yards of one gray, and I don't think I have 2 yards of a 'suitable' gray.  Fabric shopping is not a hardship! 

See? I really like the combination!

The first clues will be posted November 23.  I'm looking forward to this project! 

DWM: triangles, HeartStrings, and a finish (already!)

Triangles in waiting

"Round up and trim down" is my preferred method for making half-square triangles (or, more accurately, triangle-squares).  The trimming was always tedious: press open, cut two or three or sometimes four times to square up the unit.  I'm grateful to Nancie V. for introducing me to Eleanor Burns' Triangle Square Up Ruler.  The trimming is done prior to pressing. Two cuts, every time. 

The open-toe quilting foot broke after about five years and miles of quilting.  The nearest Pfaff dealer is 30 miles away. Fortunately a replacement foot was in stock. While I was there I bought another quarter-inch foot. (One of the pins in the foot I've been using is getting loose; when it comes out the foot is not usable.)  Look at the difference between the old (left) and new (right). There's more to grip and hold the fabric to the feed dogs. Good idea.

old and new feet
Before I got the new quilting foot I pulled out 2" strips and made another HeartStrings quilt top.  I start with 10" foundation squares that are miscellaneous fabric (uglies or poly-cotton....not suitable for a quilt top).  Click here for more information about the HeartStrings Quilt Project.

And, finally, a fast finish!  Homespun Friendship is quilted and bound.  I meandered in the stars and sashes.  I'm getting more proficient with "almost feathers" in the border.  (See the previous blog post to see the entire top.)

I've used 14 yards of fabric this month! 

You can see what other quiltmakers are working on at Judy's Design Wall Monday.