Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WIP: Handcrafted Over the Generations

As for work in progress this Wednesday, I did a minuscule amount this week. I sewed on a button. Yep. That is all. I sewed one button on a football themed diaper cover, which I did not even crochet. But I have a very good reason for my low productivity. I was in southern California visiting my new granddaughter, Vivian, just born April 6th, 2014. Vivian was named after her mom's maternal grandmother. At the ripe old age of three weeks, Vivian is contemplating using this quilt I made for her (see also February 8, 2014 post) for her next tummy time .

This was a nostalgic time for me. On this visit I brought with me the christening gown my son wore when he was baptized. I'd hand washed it and the embroidered sheer fabric came out sparkling white after 31 years in the closet! All I'd needed to do was replace the elastic in the sleeves since it was brittle, cracked, and no longer stretchy. It is now as good as it was when my son's godmother sewed it over three decades ago.

I also brought Vivian two blankets, each hand knitted about 45 years ago by my mom, Vivian's great grandmother Martha. Although my mom passed away before any of my three children were born, her handiwork had been passed to my children after use by my older two siblings' children. These blankets have warmed each of my three nephews, my one niece, each of my two sons, and my one daughter. That generation then passed it on to my one grandnephew, each of my four grandnieces, my granddaughter via my daughter, and now to my granddaughter via my son. Fourteen babies!

This pink blanket is out of a worsted weight yarn. I believe the knitted border was my mom's own idea. The blanket measures 38 inches square. I have shown one fourth of it and a close-up.

This mint-colored blanket, also knit by my mom, is a much lighter weight. It measure 34 inches by 39 inches without the hand knotted fringe. My mom loved using fine gauge yarn and intricate stitches and was undaunted by the time involved to complete. 

Not only do I remember seeing my children with these blankets, but I remember watching my mom knit them for my nephew or niece to be. She was a night owl and I recall many an item being knitted or crocheted while the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson was playing on the television in the wee hours of the night. These blankets are heart-warming as well as body-warming for me. Blogging obviously did not exist in my mom's era but I could fill many a post with the items of her handiwork. Here she is at my wedding with her mother of the bride gown that she had hand-beaded herself. She'd sewn my bridal gown also and had hand-beaded the bodice, the train, and the veil, too. 

So this week I was busy holding my new granddaughter and walking down memory lane. I started no new projects this week and completed none. Since I made no progress on my list of ongoing projects, I will not repeat it here. It is unchanged from my post for April 23, 2014. No apologies. To parody that poem that advises "quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep"...  I was "rocking my grandbaby and grandbabies don't keep".

Not only quilting but Life itself is a continuous Work In Progress. But that will not stop me from poking around this week and seeing what quilting others have been up to at Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

WIP: Bantams, Basting, and Books

In working through my ongoing projects list, I prepped the backing for the monkey quilt and spray basted it for free motion quilting. While I was on a roll, I spray basted the chicken quilt as well. I have not shown the chicken quilt yet and here is a sneak peek of one section of it. 

One small dilemma, though, is that I'd completely forgotten that those little chickens still needed their legs embroidered and their beaks and wattles sewn or appliqued on. Cutting myself a little bit of slack, I think my original intention was to send this quilt out to a long-armer and add the appliqued beaks and three dimensional wattles later since they would have gotten in the way. Realizing the wings were 3-D too, the 3-D wattles would not have been the only culprits; sending it out to be long arm quilted would still have been problematic. So I changed my mind and decided to FMQ it myself. This decision, however long ago it was made, does not explain how I also forgot to embroider the legs. Maybe I wanted them to be on top of the quilting lines... ? Here is the diagram for adding beaks, wattles, and legs  

This is a pattern from 1994. Not remembering after a couple of decades is allowed – especially with three kids to care for back then. Having just spray basted it prior to embellishment, I now have two choices. I can do this embroidery and applique after it is quilted or I can peel the top away from the spray-basted batting and backing and work on the top alone. I use 505 spray and I tested it a bit. The top will peel off easily so I think I may go that route. I will need to see if the exposed surface is too tacky to work with though. At first blush it does not seem to be.

While contemplating recovery from my premature basting episode, I sewed another cloth book titled My Baby's Day which has precious Joy Allen illustrations. You can see the inner pages of this book in my December 27, 2012 post.

Thinking back to those three kids running around... when my middle child was growing up, one of his many aspired occupations was that of a marine biologist. I'd bought a fabric panel called Ocean Babies to make him a quilt since he was quite fond of dolphins and other sea life. As can happen to a young mother with other chores, priorities, emergencies, etc., I never did get around to making that quilt.  But this week I did sew the fabric as a book, the original intent for the printed panel. Seeing the clever rhymes in the poems and the bright colors in the pictures again reminded me just why I'd liked this panel so much.

My son did not pursue becoming a marine biologist. He did become certified as a scuba diver but chose the unrelated career path of a licensed architect and construction manager instead. Go figure. I guess land won out over sea. No matter what job choice he made, he is now an adult and a new father. Maybe I did not finish this book in time for his childhood, but at least he can read it to his baby daughter. I am traveling to visit her for the first time this week. She was just born April 6th, 2014. Here she is gazing at a quilt I made for her. (See post for February 8, 2014.) I can hardly wait to hold her!

Enough reminiscing about recent decades! Here are my stats for the past week.

Completed projects since 04/16/14 WIP post:
  1. Ocean Babies cloth book
  2. My Baby's Day cloth book
Ongoing projects:
  1. Monkey on a bike quilt (April 2, 2014 post)  - spray basted awaiting FMQ
  2. Chicken quilt - spray basted, awaiting embellishment and FMQ
  3. Classic Cars strip quilt (August 3, 2013 post) - need to back, quilt, and bind
  4. Grinch quilt (May 22, 2013 post) - all borders added, need to back, quilt, and bind
  5. Overlapping square wall hanging - awaiting FMQ
  6. Mask quilt (October 19, 2011 post) - hidden away awaiting inspiration for arranging hexagons
New projects since 04/16/14 WIP post:
  1. None.
  2. But I did buy fabric. Shame on me. (It was 50% off ...)
Time to hop over to Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday and check out what has been keeping other folks busy this week. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WIP: FMQ Auditioning and HQ Class

Although I have not made any physical progress on my monkey on a bike quilt from a couple of weeks ago I have been mulling over different options for the FMQ on it. Here is one fourth of the quilt top. The center panel FMQ will be directed by the scene and critters on the panel but what to do on the border? I took a two day class on the Handi Quilter longarm machines this weekend and what a source of inspiration and practical tips it was!

The teacher was Megan Best. She showed us a method to audition and practice our quilt patterns before committing to them on our quilt. Here is a photo I took of my quilt border. I printed it out and slipped it inside an 8.5" x 11" sheet protector. Using a dry erase marker I can try out and practice different designs. They erase easily using just a scrap of batting. I can use my cell phone to snap a quick picture of the ones I like and consider keeping.


It just occurred to me that I can avoid the printing out step, too. Those printer ink cartridges can get expensive! If I take the photo with my iPad, I can slip the iPad itself inside a sheet protector and doodle away. Sorry about the photo quality. It is difficult to hold the iPad with one hand inside its slippery sheet protector and take a picture with my cell with the other while angling so that the reflections do not obscure the point I am trying to illustrate. But I think you get the idea.

My purpose in taking the class was to become better informed about my possible purchase of a sit-down long arm machine – a Handi Quilter Sweet 16 or a Baby Locke Tiara. The class was very good for that. What was totally unexpected was the education I got on threads and tension, the numerous tips shared like the one above, and the wealth of inspiration I absorbed from Megan Best's quilting styles. Her website is not very extensive but that is because she is so busy creating beautiful quilts! I recommend taking a class from her if you have the opportunity. She is an educator for Handi Quilter and travels around the country teaching. I snagged this picture from her website, to encourage you to take a peek.

In the meantime this week I drifted to an old standby, cloth books, so I can be productive while letting my brain churn on that monkey on a bike quilt. I began with an old panel called Ocean Babies. When I first start buying these book panels I had considered making them into quilts. The fabric quality is such however that they are better off as books. For Ocean Babies I have pinned the pages to be sewn right sides together, matching the corners – the photo shows the wrong side of the fabric. And all those bumps you see? They are because the panel was not printed square. I will be doing a bit of bias stretching to coax it square when I add the batting for the book pages. The weave is loose enough that I will probably be fairly successful in distorting it back to square.

This book My Babies Day is the second one of its kind I will be making. I already made one over a year ago for my now 18 month old granddaughter (see December 27, 2012 post) and this will be for the granddaughter just born this month. Each pair of pages is pinned right sides together by matching the corners. These pages lie much flatter than those in Ocean Babies but the fabric is still rather thin and more suited to a book than a quilt.

When I lay these six pinned rectangle out on the batting I will trim them and the batting all in one step. I will then sew around each, turn each, and stitch around the four outer edges. Once I put the pages in the right order, align the spine, stitch each spine and backstitch again ... Voila! Two more books will be ready to be scrumpled, stuffed in a mouth, drooled on, and oh, yes, hopefully read out loud.

Completed projects since 04/09/14 WIP post:
  1. Mailed DianeLoves2Quilt – Vol. 2 to my sister (April 14, 2014 post)
Ongoing projects:
  1. Monkey on a bike quilt (April 2, 2014 post) 
  2. Chicken quilt - awaiting FMQ
  3. Classic Cars strip quilt (August 3, 2013 post) - need to back, quilt, and bind
  4. Grinch quilt (May 22, 2013 post) - all borders added, need to back, quilt, and bind
  5. Overlapping square wall hanging - awaiting FMQ
  6. Mask quilt (October 19, 2011 post) - hidden away awaiting inspiration for arranging hexagons
New projects since 04/09/14 WIP post:  
  1. Ocean Babies cloth book
  2. My Baby's Day cloth book

I will now link up to this week's WIP link party at Freshly Pieced.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Second Volume of Blog Books and Granddaughters

My blog book DianeLoves2Quilt – Vol. 2 arrived and I am very pleased with its quality. I am a happy repeat customer of SharedBook having used their blog2print service. The glossy hardbound book covers blog posts from March 2013 – February 2014. The front cover shows my granddaughter (from my daughter and son-in-law) and signifies the chronological start of the time period covered by the blog book.

The back cover hints at my granddaughter-to-be (from my son and daughter-in-law), not yet born at the time of publication, and marks the closure of the time period encompassed by the blog book.

The color of the book cover was intentionally chosen as pink for two granddaughters. I decided to change the cover color with each volume. Not only does this make each volume distinct, but I will not become frustrated if a certain cover color option is discontinued in the future. The dedication for Volume 2 reads:

This was the year of the baby. My Granddaughter Autumn in Oklahoma (front cover) was rapidly changing from a baby to a toddler, 5 months to 16 months old. My granddaughter to be (still in hiding on back cover) is due to enter into the world in Southern California at the end of March, after this book is published.

For Volume 2, I did select the large picture size option instead of the default size and am quite happy with it. My blog online has extra-large pictures selected but I do not think the super size is an option for the blog book. I am also continuing the habit of giving dates for my posts or spelling out an entire URL so hard copy readers still have a way of looking up my references since clicking on a link is not possible. I also included comments with the posts this time, which I think adds to the fun. For a review and lessons learned from DianeLoves2Quilt – Vol. 1 see my April 17, 2013 post about my first blog book. Here is a page midway through Volume 2 that shows how the post headings, pictures, comments, and footers are handled. Everything in the side borders when viewed online, such as ads, are excluded.

My second granddaughter (Vol. 2) has since appeared, nine days past her due date, on Sunday, April 6. Here is Vivian at two days old, daughter of my son and his wife.

And here is the most recent picture of my first granddaughter (Vol. 1), her cousin, 18-month old Autumn, daughter of my daughter and her husband.

Pardon the pun, but these two photos speak volumes. I dare say these two adorable little girls will play a large role in my sewing projects in the year to come. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

WIP: Home Decor Items

This week I finished the piecing on my son's Monkey quilt and made the binding. The piecing went very quickly, taking less than two afternoons. I have not yet decided how to quilt it. This is the central panel section. It is from the Lollipop collection by Sandy Gervais for Moda.

I will save the reveal of the whole top until after I've it quilted. In this central section I think I will outline the critters and leaves. I am lukewarm about doing a meander or loops in the borders (shown in my previous post) so I'm waiting for other inspiration to strike. I set this quilt aside until I have a better sense of how I want to quilt it. In the meantime I am working on some home decor projects - napkins, a lampshade, and a couple of pillows.

I am a person who is really into color, so it is unusual that something black and white appeals. But I think if it has a quirky aspect about it and does not take itself too seriously, I like it. A good example is this set of dishes I own and love called Barnyard Toile by J. Willfred Ceramics. Here is the pig plate from the set. There is also a cow, a sheep, and a rooster.

I have a red tablecloth that I can use with these dishes, but when I want all the leaves in my dining room table, the only color I really have for the longer size is a white tablecloth. White does not display these dishes to their potential. But yellow! Yellow goes really well with white and black, so I ordered a tablecloth in lemon from the online site Then I spotted this fabric. I thought it would make really cute napkins to go with those plates set against a yellow tablecloth.  I do not have a serger but I figured that hemming eight napkins would be a good way to build my skills with my hemmer specialty foot for my Pfaff. I bought 2 1/4 yards of Taxi Black Viney Stripe by Alice Kennedy for Timeless Treasures to make eight 20" square napkins.

The last time I used my hemmer foot was for the hem of a silky chiffon dress in my post for May 20, 2013. In that post I cited a "trick" someone had told me about feeding a thread through the spiral toe of the foot to start off your hem. Well, that trick was pretty worthless. This time I watched some YouTube videos on how to use a hemmer foot and learned a few things that made my life much easier. One video stated that the hemmer foot was the most frustrating specialty foot to learn. That made me feel a bit better. Both this video and this video were good. First off, by looking at the underside of the hemmer foot there is an indented channel. I was unaware of this. Here is a good image of the underside I found at From the size of the channel you can tell for what hem width the foot was designed.

Second, several videos concurred that to start off you fold over your hem by hand for a short distance, finger press it in place, and place it under the spiral toed foot, not coiled in the entrance funnel. Once you have sewn an inch or so, you stop, lift the foot, and then coax the raw edge over the toe and at the start of the funnel entrance. It feeds itself from there with just your finger to gently guide it. I sewed eight napkins with ease and, after starting at 32 corners, it was a piece of cake. Here is what the rolled edges look like from the right side and the wrong side.

Here is a table setting with the tablecloth I just bought. I've displayed the plate both with a folded napkin peeking out of a water goblet and an alternative napkin folded beside the plate.

Although the napkins here are all alike, I can easily see myself making a coordinated set of six or eight out of six or eight fat quarters. Next time I buy a coordinated bundle that I find hard to split up, I might just make it into napkins and enjoy the fabric as it is. Hmmm ... but then I might need to buy dishes to go with the napkins ... and then a tablecloth to go with the dishes ...

In keeping with my "I-don't-like-black-and-white" theme I set out to cover a lamp shade and make a modern looking lamp a little less severe. Here is an image of the lamp before I altered it.

This video,, showed me how to cut out fabric and apply it to the existing shade with spray adhesive. I also had my husband drill a hole in each finial so I could add two striped draw pulls I got from from Land of Nod. Here is the lamp after I recovered the shade with a Seuss wavy stripe and doctored the finials.

The oval shape still fits the side table for which it was intended yet, for very little effort, I think I turned what was a modern piece into a whimsical bit of fun that does not take itself so seriously.

I also sewed two pillows this week. I sewed a zipper in the bottom seam so they can be easily removed from the down pillow forms they cover. Come to think of it, it has been a long time since I have used a specialty zipper foot. I fell in love with the large scale graphic bird print. It is so cute how the mama bird is feeding her baby! Each pillow is 25" wide, so I got two pillow fronts out of one width of 54" wide upholstery wide fabric, even with generous 3/4" seams. The fabric is rated for indoor/outdoor use so hopefully the pillows will wear well. I fussy cut so that both the pillow front and back are the same. That way they will always match when side by side on the couch. I had planned ahead and decided a pillow height that would fit in well with the fabric repeat without a lot of waste. The pillows are about 16" tall.

Here are my statistics for this week's Work In Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced. I did not work on what I thought I would. Still, I enjoyed what I did do – and I felt productive.

Completed projects since 04/02/14 WIP post:
  1. Black vine stripe napkins
  2. Seuss striped lampshade
  3. Grey bird pillows
Ongoing projects:
  1. Monkey wall hanging kit (April 2, 2014 post) 
  2. Chicken quilt - awaiting FMQ
  3. Classic Cars strip quilt (August 3, 2013 post) - need to back, quilt, and bind
  4. Grinch quilt (May 22, 2013 post) - all borders added, need to back, quilt, and bind
  5. Overlapping square wall hanging - awaiting FMQ
  6. Mask quilt (October 19, 2011 post) - hidden away awaiting inspiration for arranging hexagons
New projects since 04/02/14 WIP post:  
  1. Black vine stripe napkins
  2. Seuss striped lampshade
  3. Grey bird pillows

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

WIP: Monkeying Around

I saw this rug being offered on sale. Instantly the color palette reminded me of a quilt kit I'd bought a couple years ago. I bought the rug.

I dug the kit out of deep reaches of my closet and was amazed at the similarity. Plus, the rug and the quilt kit both have bananas. I have a special needs adult son who loves monkeys and bananas. "Mun-kee" and "na-nuh" are actually two words in his fairly limited vocabulary so I think he will like this quilt. I've been wanting to make up this kit for him but seeing the rug clinched it and moved it up on my priority list. I began it this week.

A monkey on a bicycle is featured on the center panel. Often panel quilts are tricky to make at first because the picture or scene is rarely printed square. The instructions to this kit had a clever solution that is obvious only now that I have read it. Normally instructions direct you to sequentially attach strips of a prescribed width, often ignoring the non-squareness of the panel, making it worse as you build outward. This kit provided a bit extra fabric so that the first border of strips could be cut oversized in width. Once they were attached by matching the inner edges of the panel picture, the center panel with its first border attached was then squared up to a particular length and width. No decorative printed borders got clipped off. Adjustments were less obvious since they occurred in the strips and not the featured central panel. Adding progressive outer borders of a pre-cut width then flowed smoothly.

Here are the corner stone blocks for the monkey quilt. I was consistent on which edges I added the short border strips and on which edges I added the long border strips so that the lengthwise grain of the dotted fabric could be oriented the same on all four corners. Those bubble dots are somewhat in rows along the grain of the fabric and not just random.

The outermost border around the panel is a piano keyboard design. Here are the components parts. Yellow bananas go with lollipops and green bananas go with fish. Very logical of course!

The assembly is going very quickly. I just need to trim the central panel and join the borders. Here is how the pieces will be oriented in the corners.

This was a productive week for me. I finished my Jack O' Lantern Trio and showed it in my previous post. With Paisley Pearl (February 8, 2014 post) and The Ghastlies (March 17, 2014 post) my number of FMQ'd quilts for this year is at three. FMQ'ing at least three quilts was one of my quilting goals for 2014 so I can check that off. Another goal was to assemble at least two quilt kits from the many I have in my closet. This monkey quilt is starting me off on that goal.

Completed projects since 03/26/14 WIP post:
  1. Jack O'Lantern Trio (See March 31, 2014 post.)
Ongoing projects:
  1. Chicken quilt - awaiting FMQ
  2. Classic Cars strip quilt (August 3, 2013 post) - need to back, quilt, and bind
  3. Grinch quilt (May 22, 2013 post) - all borders added, need to back, quilt, and bind
  4. Overlapping square wall hanging - awaiting FMQ
  5. Mask quilt (October 19, 2011 post) - hidden away awaiting inspiration for arranging hexagons
New projects since 03/26/14 WIP post:  
  1. Monkey wall hanging kit
I will now link up to this week's Freshly Pieced WIP.