Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Start 'em Early before Heading Home

I am heading back home to California after spending 2.5 weeks with my daughter's family in Oklahoma for the birth of their second child, a boy they named Isaiah. I did some serious baby holding while my daughter worked on the dinosaur themed quilt she is making for her son. She has published a post about it in her blog RobinLovesQuilting. Here is the fabric I bought to make a coordinating crib sheet.

In my previous post I shared a quick picture of Isaiah. In my July 24th post to my other blog WanderOrPonder I told a bit of his birth story and included more pictures. But this is a quilting blog so what do I have to report this week that is fabric related? My daughter and I visited  Sooner Quilts in Guthrie, OK yesterday, the day before I returned home. I am bemused to reveal my grandson in his first quilt store among the bolts of fabric at the ripe old age of 12 days.

Isaiah was quite content during his refreshment break from his mom in the rocking chair next to the patterns.

But this is what happens when you shop  too long. You get a preview of a quilter's husband in training.

I bought some fabric for place mats, a couple layer cakes, a binding stripe, and a book. Thank you Sooner Quilts for having such a great selection and for making my grandson's first shopping experience a welcoming one.

It is good to be heading home and I am itching to get back in my sewing room, but I sure will miss the little guy and his big sister.

 I will get back in my sewing and blogging routine by linking up to this week's WIP at Freshly  Pieced.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Nursing Curtains

My grandson arrived 7/16/15 at 10:09 AM, weighing 9 lbs 1 oz and measuring 20.5 inches. His name is Isaiah. When I picked him up, his two and a half year old big sister told me "no" I was not allowed to hold him because, "That's Mommy's baby". There has been a lot of baby rocking going on around here and obviously not a lot of quilting nor a lot of sleeping!

This week's WIP for me was shortening seven pre-purchased privacy curtain panels to be used in the circular alcove off my daughter and son-in-law's bedroom. While baby and mom were still in the hospital, I shortened the curtains temporarily by folding the bottoms up several times and then affixing binder clips lengthwise. From the right side, the curtains kind of looked liked  they were pleated near the bottom. The tops were held in the window opening with tension/compression rods. This would do for a few days.

Then, when the alcove was not being occupied, I swooped in to hem them more permanently. I cut them off with a rotary cutter and mat. The curtains had been made from a rubbery type thick fabric and would not hold a crease - except of course for those creases imparted by being folded in the package the curtains came in. I ran a stitching line at 5/8 inch from the bottom to guide me as the fold line for the raw edge. I drew a line twice the hem depth and pinned that folded over edge up to the line.

I stitched close to the folded over edge and did not press until the very end. This method seemed to work out fine for this awkward blackout shade type fabric. Here are the curtains hung in the nursing alcove.

I am linking up with this week's WIP at Freshly Pieced to share the good baby birth news, but for my immediate future, I will be doing some baby holding rather than blog surfing.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bugs R Us Completion

In my previous blog entry, Post July 4th Sewing I had just begun the FMQ on Bugs R Us. The grid work in the checkerboard blocks was easy to decide so I began there but I stalled with indecisiveness at the bug blocks. I'd wanted to do arcs in the bug's tummies but my curves were wobbly and jagged and looked awful. I had to pick them out.

I moved forward with the borders instead. A blue flitting-bug inset border has flight paths of the bugs that I wanted to accentuate with the quilting. I sketched the following arc ideas. In the top row the curves alternate between concave and convex. I was afraid this would look too regular and any inconsistency I introduced might degrade the overall look. In the middle row, the curves all face one way. My husband  said this looked like shark's teeth. I thought it looked like waves. Neither of those go with bugs. I chose the third lowest row where the direction the curves face is random and so is their length.

Knowing my proficiency with gentle, smooth, arcs is very low, I decided to use my Versatool Ruler. Its arc echoes the flight paths of the bugs.

Here is a better look at the ruler I used to make the arcs in the blue border. I was not slavish to the bug paths but captured the general idea.

 I had to fudge around the corners a bit but it turned out ok.

I did have to go back and FMQ the five big bugs themselves. No alternative stitch pattern other than the arcs appealed. There is a saying that goes something like, "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" I answered myself - those arcs. So I helped myself out by using a ruler. This large band is from a half-circle ruler set I requested for Christmas from my son and daughter-in-law specifically for a certain quilt. I have used them at least twice now for purposes other that the original intent so I guess they are more versatile than I thought.

I gave the bug his tummy ribs and then inverted the arcs to use up on his face. I kept the arcs parallel more or less but did not fuss about keeping them equally spaced and think they look more natural that way.

I kept avoiding it but I had to do the area around the antennae. I wanted to echo the two spirals but I was not steady enough and the appliqu├ęs edges were not smooth enough. The result of my efforts looked like the furrowed brow of ET or Yoda and not at all the effect I wanted. I picked out all but the first echo. Luckily I had made the mess on only one block. On the plus side, I noticed that my stitch length is getting pretty consistent for not having a stitch regulator.

Instead of echoes, I added more orange peel type grid work to fill in most of the area. I only echoed each spiral once, so wobbliness would not be as noticeable.

I did a few diagonal squiggles in the legs, or wings, or whatever they are. I left him noseless and did not circle the eyes. He looks somewhat like he is wearing a mask.

I added my title and signature labels.

A section of the binding, backing and border are shown here. I pieced the binding from all four colored spots of the checkerboards.

I finished Bugs R Us before my grandson arrived and in time to take to Oklahoma with me. It measures 34" x 46", a good infant size. I got a lot of FMQ practice on this one!

Now I will link up to this week's Freshly Pieced WIP.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Post July 4th Sewing

We had visitors this Fourth of July weekend – my 15-month-old granddaughter with her mom and dad – so I did not get much sewing done. I adjusted a couple garments and mended a pillow for my daughter-in-law but the pack-and-play was in the sewing room. I am not complaining in the least. Granddaughters definitely get first priority!

Monday, after I cleared out my sewing room, I spray basted two quilts and planned my FMQing on Bugs 'R Us (May 31, 2015 post). Here is my practice doodling image for the gridded checkerboards.

I'd like to have it quilted to take with me when my highly anticipated grandson is born in Oklahoma this month and that is remotely possible if I can be decisive and do not dawdle. Here is the progress I made yesterday on the checkerboard blocks.

I used a pale yellow thread. It shows up well on the orange and blue and darker green. I am getting braver with thread contrast as my FMQ improves. Here is a closeup of the last grids I quilted. I also followed on later by quilting the same orange-peel pattern in the bright green narrow border strips.

My initial plan for the bug blocks was to echo the antennae area and make parallel arcs on the bellies to look like ridges. Actually if I remember my high school biology from a very long time ago, insects have three body parts – the head, the thorax that contains the wings and legs, and the abdomen.  More anatomically correct, I wanted a ridged thorax, not a ridged belly.

Belly or thorax does not matter – I got neither. When I attempted to stitch the arcs, the lines came out wobbly and awful. I had to pick them out. What was I expecting? I could not draw them well to begin with. I need a new plan that I can execute successfully. Hopefully I will come up with one and complete it before I need to leave for Oklahoma. I do not think I will have enough time to bind the quilt before I leave but I can take the prepped binding with me and do that there if timing permits with arrival of said new grandson. My daughter is a quilter, too, so I can use her sewing machine to attach the binding. Wish me luck. If I quilt instead of blog I have a finite chance of completing the FMQ. If not, there is always the United States Postal Service after I return home.

I am linking up with this week's WIP at Freshly Pieced.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

An ♬ Octet of Burp Cloths ♬

These little projects are quick mood boosters and I have such fun pairing up the fabrics. Here are eight burp cloths for my grandson-to-be. As is my norm, I make them in complementary pairs and fold them in thirds for the photo. The back of each is the same as the edge fabric. Each burp cloth takes two fat quarters. I'd posted a tutorial on how to make them June 18, 2014. Each one reminded me of a song as I sewed it.

My daughter has a penchant for elephants so I paired this pachyderm print flannel with some agile giraffes.
♫ ... Animal crackers in my soup, Lions and tigers loop the loop.
Gosh, oh gee, but I have fun, swallowing animals one by one ...

These hot air balloons went well with a polka dot companion print. I can just hear that 1967 hit by The 5th Dimension.
♪... Up, up, and away in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon ... ♫

I liked these funky felines. They seem to be tom cats to me but I cannot explain why. I thought their plaid, houndstooth, or dotted fur coats would play well with a champagne bubbly background that echoes their googly eyes.

Those little bug eyes make them look like they are a bit tipsy... perhaps from an over-indulgence in cat nip!

These cool cats remind me of the patterned pachyderms in the dream sequence Pink Elephants on Parade in the Disney movie Dumbo.

♪... I can stand the sight of worms, and look at microscopic germs,
but technicolor pachyderms is really too much for me ... 

This final burp cloth pair also sports a black background. My daughter bought a ½ yard of a reindeer flannel and passed it on to me with a holiday burp cloth request. I paired it with an imprecise diagonal candy cane stripe that made me think holiday wrapping paper. Of course this pair of burp cloths inspired this classic holiday tune, none other than ...

♬ ... Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose ...

I daresay I may have taken longer to blog about these than I did to make them. But I also enjoy sharing the random thoughts and tunes that ramble through my mind as I sew!