Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WIP: Getting Ready for Autumn

I am busily working away, preparing for the visit of my four-month-old granddaughter, Autumn. 

My husband already has gotten the crib and changing table from the attic and scrubbed them thoroughly. He downloaded all safety requirements from the  internet and scoured them to be sure the crib meets all of them. Our son-in-law is not only a first time dad but also a safety engineer. My husband has also rearranged the guest room to make room for the crib and changing table. We bought new crib sheets (polka dot, of course) and a car seat base. While there I sneakily added some books and toys to the shopping cart at Babies R Us. We ordered a new pad for the changing table and I am about to sew a flannel cover for it.

I plan to use this flannel.  I still have 2 1/2 yards left after making burp cloths.

My choice of print is because Autumn, just like her mom, is a bit partial to kitties.
Notice her fascination in the next photo. 
Look closely. I used my newly learned photoshop skills to call attention to the cute parts.

Since Easter will be just a few weeks after she leaves, I would like to sew up these two cloth books to send back to Oklahoma with her.

I also want to sew up a few floor cushions.  With Autumn's mom and dad here AND my son and his wife up from Southern California AND my other son here, the house will be full and we will need extra floor lounging comfort.

Enough blogging.  I have a BABY to get ready for! (Plus her parents, her uncles, and her aunt.) Here are my stats.

Completed projects:  
  1. Shopping at Babies R Us
Ongoing projects:  
  1. Shopping at Babies R Us
  2. Cloth books
  3. Floor cushions
  4. Cleaning
New projects:  
  1. Shopping at Babies R Us
Stats since last WIP post :
     Who cares!  My granddaughter and WHOLE family will be here soon!
Now I am off to check out what the rest of you have been up to at:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Went Shopping

The Bay Area Quilt Craft & Sewing Festival was at the San Mateo County Event Center this weekend.  I really like this show because it is large enough to be inspiring and have a wide array of vendors; many vendors are familiar faces by now. You can see the extent of the show from the flyer below.

However, the show is not so large that I get lost in the aisles or overwhelmed by the creations of other artisans. An artisan is a whole different arena to me than a quilter.  I revel in the beauty and comfort of quilts and enjoy them as wall hangings but some creations at some of the larger shows, Pacific International for example, are so elaborate I get overwhelmed. This Bay Area show often has a display of quilts made from the same pattern by quilters, young and old, in different color combinations.  Very often they are traditional quilts and I like seeing these down home variations. And I really enjoy the shopping.  And I love that my husband comes along and enjoys me enjoying myself. He wears his special shirt with this embroidered above the chest pocket.

One of the vendors at the show gave him a very important title.
She said he was a CEO... stands for "Carries Everything Out". 
Here are my purchases that he carried out to the car.

These are two of twelve pages to be made into a cloth book.  It is about things you can do inside on a rainy day. The cartooning is really cute though in my opinion they could have been a bit brighter to stand out more.  I bought it on an end-of-bolt clearance and the ends are pinked a bit too close – on some the page numbers were trimmed off!  It is challenging, but not impossible, to figure out what order the pages go in and I may need to take a larger seam allowance but I think I can make it work.  

The poem is precious.  Here are the words. Part of me typing out the verses was to help me figure out the page number order.


What to do, what to do, 
when the sun can't peek through?
When the sky is all gray & it's raining all day,
what do we do when it's to wet to play?

Can you name some games we can play inside?
The first one could be "I'll seek & you hide".
We could play simple games like tic-tac-toe,
with just pencil and paper and X's and O's.

We could play board games like checkers or chess;
Mom would like these 'cause they don't make a mess.
We could play card games – there are so many kinds,
It might take some time just to make up out minds.

We could play a memory game – match 1 to 1, 2 to 2.
Turn over the cards – where was red, where was blue?
We could play marbles or we could play jacks,
Or we could read books – kick back and relax.

We could make music with old pots for drums –
we could all sing along or maybe just hum.
We could even build forts with pillows and sheets,
where we could start over with go-hide-and-seek.

When the sun comes out, maybe later today, 
We'll all run outside with our friends to play.

Another panel I bought was to make a book of nursery rhymes. The rhymes are Humpty Dumpty, The Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe, Hickory Dickory Dock, Hey Diddle Diddle, and Jack and Jill.

The link to the fabric panel is  at Henry Glass Fabrics.

Here are the front and back covers. This should be fun to sew up.

I did not realize it till I started to blog about my purchases that I was in a small project, get-it-done-quick-for-instant-gratification mood.  Other fabrics I bought were also panels, two of which I thought would also make cute, although atypical baby cloth books.  This first one would help in learning the vegetables. It only would have six pages but I am hoping I can use some veggie fabric I have to stretch the book. I bought this panel and the following grill time panel from the Laurel Leaf.

The larger panels could make interesting front and back inner and outer covers. I need to figure out a way to get the printed word on the front.

The next panel has some cute images for a summer time barbeque. I thought I would make it into a cloth book, also.  I discovered upon looking at it more closely once I got it home that, although there were eight images, only four are unique.  I have to rethink this one.  This would be too short a book.  It would make adorable potholders though and I could practice my FMQ around those daisies and bugs and zig-zags!

And here is yet another panel I purchased.  Neither I nor my husband are coffee drinkers but how could I pass up something with my signature polka dots and the name of my husband so prominently emblazoned on the fabric? I bought this at the Twisted Scissors Quilt Shoppe from Sparks Nevada. I am somewhat confused though. The selvage says the line is Tidings of Great Joy but when I poke around Quilted Treasures website it looks like the name of the fabric line is Daily Grind.

The vendor had made up some place mats that were really cute.  She used a wonky tilt technique and had a pocket for the napkin. She encouraged me to go ahead and take a picture of them.  She did not have a pattern and insisted how else would I remember?  I thought this was very nice of her since, at most of these shows, photography, videos. and even sketches are forbidden. Here are the somewhat blurry cell phone snapshots but I think you  get the idea.

I wish now I had bought some of the coordinating fabrics – it had some lovely shaded polka dots – but I didn't pick up on that fact at the show.  I did raid her bargain bin, though. Here is a yard of a stripe that I think will make a killer binding on a nautical themed or primary colored quilt...

... and a pretty green Christmas print with metallic gold highlights. I just have a 1/2 yard but I might fussy cuts the trees and incorporate them that way in a Christmas wall hanging or table runner.

There was a vendor at the show call Second Chance Fabrics.  The concept was kind of interesting... sort of like a used book store.  She was selling fabrics from other folks' stashes.  It had never been used, just traded in for other fabrics. I think this is a great idea. Since it came from people's stashes there was a wide variety and year span. Fabrics were not so old as to lose desirability but recent enough that there was a decent chance of getting a discontinued fabric that you happened to like.  I picked up this Santa flannel.

Even though presented near the end of this post, the first vendor I bought from at the show was A Quilter's Dream.  This is the person who designed the pattern for my Color Play of the Day quilt.  I bought two more of her patterns, Square Root of Nine and Box of Stars. Sorry the pattern on the right is hard to see due to the glare in the photo, but you can get a better view of them at the links for their names in the previous sentence. I also bought  two half yard pieces of orange and pink batiks that caught my fancy.  I love her triangular folding technique, too.

From the vendor The Rabbit Hole Quilt Shop, I bought these three one yard pieces. Guess I like swirls, orange, and Christmas... and obviously also fabric shopping.

Finally, I also purchased two twin size and one lap size bamboo batting from Winline Textiles.  I really like how 100% bamboo drapes and it only needs to be quilted 8" apart, though I do stitch it closer. Also, with no polyester content you do not sweat underneath the quilt. Shrinkage is advertised as 3%-5% but I think it does not scrunch up as much as cotton and I prefer the not quite so antique look.  Their website has a good comparison of batting types.

Well that sums up my purchases. Hope you enjoyed shopping vicariously with me. At least YOU did not spend any money!  :•)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WIP: Binding, Backing, Batting

My work in progress is cleaning out my closet of unfinished projects. I sewed the binding on the Doll quilt, but still need to add my initials and year 2013 to the binding. The basket weave binding and the paisley border were purchased in different places at different times yet they seem to really go together. Since the doll blocks were contributed by several members of a quilt guild I belonged to many years ago I still am puzzling over what to do for a label. I have the  ladies' signatures on the wrong side of separate swatches of fabric.  Maybe I should crazy patch or paper piece them together and sew the collage of signatures on the back? Maybe instead I will make a pillow using the same backing fabric as the doll quilt.  I am liking that approach. It means starting a new project but it also means that I will be able to declare the Doll quilt finished! 

I also added strips to widen the backing fabric for my Color Play of the Day quilt. I originally rejected the heart batik shown below for a backing because I did not have enough and would have to seam it.  It would have bugged me if the print at the seams did not match - yes, even though the seams would be on the back. On closer study I realized I was only shy a few inches on the width and with a couple of strips on each side it would look fine.  I decided to make those extra width strips out of a completely different fabric so seam matching would become a non-issue. I picked up the purple color in the batik with a mottled solid that adds a bit of contrast but still blends. I made the binding out of the same mottled fabric so I am content it will look fine.

The weather has been rainy here so I do not have a photo of the assembled top that shows the colors off to best advantage but I will post one soon.  I inserted an old picture of some of the blocks just to spark the memories of those readers who have been following my blog posts. I have decided to send this quilt out to be long arm quilted.  It is 50" x 60" and I want to still build up my FMQ skills on smaller quilts.

It was a decisive week. I also cut the backing for my quilt from the Earth, Wind, and Fire pattern and made its binding. I chose to use the extra wide backing fabric that I had initially rejected as having too much brown. When I looked at it again, it reminded me more of frost patterns on a window pane. Ice seems to fit the earth/wind/fire theme – sort of. I compared the fabric to the pale strips in the quilt and reconsidered it as a backing since it seemed to pick up those colors very well. I am considering naming my version of the quilt Sunny Spring Frost. Those swirly rose centers look like suns with rays extending outward. The pale strips are kind of frosty, like just before the morning's sunny rays hit your window pane, and the jewel tone strips are so spring like in color. It too is in line to be long arm quilted. It measures 72" x 72" and too big for me to want to FMQ it.

I think in an earlier post I said that this backing fabric reminded me of an oil slick on a puddle in the road. Yuk! I must have been in a bummer of a mood that day. I like it now and my opinion has done a real about face. I think it quite dainty and delicate. In a related anecdote... a friend of mine thought that White Shoulders was such an elegant name for a woman's fragrance.  She pictured someone with lovely skin in a luxurious satin strapless evening gown. I said White Shoulders made me think of dandruff.  I guess these are both examples of how marketing can put a positive or negative spin on something.

I stuffed seven Christmas ornaments and whip stitch closed their openings. They had been hanging around goodness knows how long.  I had about a quarter of a bag of polyester stuffing but that was not quite enough.  I supplemented by shredding pieces of polyester batting I had leftover from my earliest quilts.  I was so glad to finally use up the stuffing and batting and to finishing the ornaments. I like the interplay of elves and mice.  Aren't they cute?

A new project I started, and completed, this week were six burp cloths for a little baby boy due in April to friend of my son and daughter-in-law.  These sew up so quickly and I love putting together the fabric combinations.  One side is a feature print and the other has a contrasting or coordinating center section that is triple thick to absorb all those milk bubbles and spit ups or other unmentionables. Here are the front and back of three pairs of burp cloths. The mom-to-be is a vet so I thought this appropriate.

The nursery has a jungle theme so I liked this print.

And what little boy does not like dinosaurs- especially ones that play with cars. Roar!

That's it for this week. Here are my stats.

Completed projects:  
  1. Six burp cloths
  2. Seven Christmas stuffed ornaments
Ongoing projects:  
  1. Doll quilt - awaiting label and intitialing
  2. Color Play of the Day - awaiting long arm quilting
  3. Sunny Spring Frost - awaiting long arm quilting
  4. Halloween pumpkin wall hanging - awaiting FMQ
  5. Grinch quilt - on design wall for assembly and creative sashing solution
  6. Scarecrow - on this list as a filler task
  7. Baby bunny book - barely started at last WIP
New projects:  
  1. Burp cloths
Stats since last WIP post 2/06/13:
     Completed  projects - 13  (I count generously)
     New projects - 6 
     Currently in progress - 7

Now I am off to check out what the rest of you have been up to at:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

WIP: Unexciting But Still Progress

Sometimes you have to look for advancement in little things.

I downsized my Halloween pumpkins wall hanging and assembled it.  I decided to leave well enough alone and be finished by NOT changing out the beige pumpkin stems to green ones. I also cut the backing out of this crescent moon fabric.  I think it goes with a Halloween night theme.  I made the binding out of the leftover blues from the Halloween night sky of the wall hanging. You can see a picture of the assembled wall hanging toward the end of my most recent post.

I was clearing surfaces to have a large working area and found this fabric for a child's book.  I was going to make it into a quilt but my daughter-in-law saw it and remarked it would make a very cute book. She pointed out that not all cute fabrics had to be a in a quilt.  I trimmed it up in preparation for sewing it up as a cloth book.  It will be a small project when I want to snatch a bit of time to sew and do not want to be ambitious.


I got the courage to trim my doll quilt in order to prepare it for adding the binding. I seem to always get stalled at this step. First, there is the clearing factor. I need to clear an area big enough to lay the quilt out, at least a large enough edge section to be able to trim it.  It is so easy to get sidetracked at this clearing/cleaning stage (hence the aforementioned book).  Second,  there is the courage factor. If you mess up anything while cutting for the piecing stage, you can set your creative juices flowing by finding another fabric to substitute.  If you sew a wrong seam or intersections do not meet quite right at the assembly stage, you can rip it out and do it over.  But trimming that extra batting up and squaring up the quilt(?)  ... one slip of the rotary cutter and there is no recovery.  I took my time and all trimmed well. Actually, I took the opportunity to admire the little FMQ details Mary Ann worked into this doll quilt. I love these little hearts on each doll's front.

Now that I have a space cleared I am going to cut the backing for my Color Play of the Day quilt. I spent the time I could have been cutting and seaming the backing watching the Super Bowl with my husband instead.  I mentioned that the design reminds me of the strategy diagrams in football so this was an appropriate re-direction of my time. It was an exciting game but alas, we are 49er fans, and our team lost.

I finally found my green polka dot extra wide backing to my Grinch quilt,  I'd been going crazy looking for it.  It was not with my extra wide backing fabrics.  I made sure to put it away this time with the rest of the fabrics for the Grinch fabric.

One last thing.  I was using my last machine needle and knew I would be so mad at myself if I broke it late at night or early in the morning when the stores were not open.  I went to my local quilt shop and bought machine needles. No big deal you say? Well, I did NOT buy any more fabric while I was there.  Now THAT is an accomplishment!

Completed projects:  
  1. Finally found Grinch backing fabric!!!!  A major accomplishment that had been driving me crazy
Ongoing projects:  
  1. Doll quilt - trimmed, awaiting binding
  2. Color Play of the Day quilt - cleared space to cut backing
  3. Halloween pumpkin wall hanging - backing and binding prepped
  4. Grinch quilt - on design wall for assembly and creative sashing solution
  5. Christmas stuffed ornaments - on this list as a filler task
  6. Scarecrow - on this list as a filler task
New projects:  
  1. Baby bunny book
Stats since last WIP post 1/30/13:
     Completed  projects - 1  (not really, but sort of, since it was bugging me)
     New projects - 1 
     Currently in progress - 6

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Saturday, February 2, 2013

With a Wee Bit of Encouragement

Two posts ago I blogged about a Halloween pattern by Dorie Whipple (shown) that had lost its appeal to me, purely because of my poor fabric selections.  I had made one cat that came out awful and never even began to assemble the other cat, the two bats, or the witch. I had a lovely comment from Ginette encouraging me to finish the pumpkins saying my granddaughter was sure to love them.  A wee bit of encouragement goes a long way to spark inspiration. Today I repurposed all those precut 2" blue squares and created a wall hanging with just the Jack O' Lanterns and I am back to liking the results. 

First I laid out the three Jack O Lanterns and figured out just how many blue squares it would take to make a rectangle.  It was not overwhelming. Here are my calculations.  I needed 6 strips of 6 joined squares, 1 strip of 7 joined squares, 2 strips of 13 joined squares for top and bottom. (How Halloween-y a number!) Arrows are pressing directions of the pumpkin blocks.

Then I made strips of the needed length from the blue squares.  Before ironing those strips, I laid them out among the pumpkins and noted which way to press the seams to reduce bulk with the pumpkins.

In some ways with the advent of "Modern Quilting" and "negative space" this pattern from 1995 seems rather dated.  I do not think Flying Geese borders are still "in" but I have always loved their whimsical flavor and that is probably one of the things that attracted me to this pattern in the first place.  Unwilling to invest a lot of time in a project I had been close to abandoning, I compromised by making only a top and a bottom border of flying geese.

The technique for the flying geese border in the original pattern was a method I had not used for quite a while.  Instead of sewing two squares on adjacent corners of a rectangle and then slicing off the corners, in this approach I was directed to cut all the triangles before sewing them together.  Doing this means you really have to have a light touch when running them under the pressure foot to avoid stretching the bias. But this project has been around a long time and I had already painstakingly cut all the many, many, many triangles.  I used what I'd already cut. I like the rectangles and square method much better.  It wastes a bit more fabric but is much less touchy to assemble.

Borders on only the top and bottom helped elongate the wall hanging so it does not appear as if it just missed being square. So here is what the downscaled top looks like after I assembled it.

I thought I would swap out the beige pumpkin stems for bright green ones and bind it in the same bright green.  I mentioned this to my husband and he just said "Oh", a bit glumly.  He liked the beige stems and doesn't think green will go. He has a point.  The green could add a pop of color and show off the stems more, but then it could also distract from the key players, the Jack O' Lanterns. Stay tuned. And yes... my bottom left corner is crooked. Blame it on the bias.

Here are the cut pieces I have left.  Just look at all those blue and orange triangles and all those blue and black squares!  I counted 46 blue squares remaining. Other piles outnumber that figure. All will go in baggies and take up less space in storage.  I do not have the heart to throw them out.

And the camouflaged black cat?  I think I am going to throw a backing on that kitty just as he is and use him to practice my free motion quilting.  Maybe if I cover him in black thread the distracting white will take back stage.