Friday, August 29, 2014

A-10, Dear Jane

A-10 is done!  It was a dandy too.  What is it about the A row?  I should have started this when I was 40.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dear Jane, A-9

After another hour today, that little block is done.  A little wonky and I had to use a different fabric to finish the outside row, but done is better than perfect, right?  I always underestimate how much fabric paper piecing requires, so ran out of the background after doing the center.  Here it is in all of its tiny glory.

     Have a great Labor Day week-end.  I hope you have time for some stitching.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer's Swan Song

     Summer is coming to a close and even though it still feels like August, September is just around the corner.  It has been a pretty slow week around here.  We had a full week-end with company from Colorado, and had a great time.  Lola and I traveled to Stover and Excelsior for a little quilt shopping, so that was fun too.  Sunday was something of a let-down, as they left Sunday morning, so in the afternoon I went to the sewing room and started quilting on a project that had been sandwiched since May.  It has some mistakes in it, which I refuse to point out to you, so I haven't had much enthusiasm for finishing it.  But once I started the quilting it began to look better, so now I am pretty happy with it, mistakes and all.
Here is the finish.  Don't look too close.
I found this stencil at one of the Mennonite shops Saturday and
it fit perfectly in the big blocks.  It was easy to adapt to free motion quilting.
I had never used this pounce pad, but it worked well.  Messy though.

Here is a close-up of the stitched block.

I always have several things going at once.  I'm still working on those Halloween blocks.  I was given these adorable vintage post card prints a couple of years ago.  I would pull them out and admire them, but wasn't sure how to use them.  

I now have a plan.

Stay tuned for the big reveal.  

    I signed up for a challenge on my Dear Jane Yahoo group, one block a month.  You would think that would be very do-able, right?  Then I chose A-9 for my block.  Two hours later, it still isn't done.  How can one little 4 1/2 inch block take that much time?  Here are the ones that are done, but no A-9 in the group.
If I get it finished tomorrow, I'll share it in a quick post.  You can help me decide why it took so long.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer Sabbatical 2014

     I don't know why I can't keep up with this blog in the summer.  I suppose I just need to let everyone know I'm taking the summer off instead of just disappearing for several months.
    I had a great vacation in June, visiting Williamsburg and Washington DC, traveling with a quilting friend.  We looked for antique quilts everywhere we went with no luck in finding them.  Not in Williamsburg, believe it or not.  We did see an occasional one in the historic homes we toured, but I suspect most were modern reproductions, as they were on beds, not behind glass.  I thought, for sure, we would see them in the Smithsonian.  They did direct us to a certain gallery, but the only quilt there was a small doll quilt (behind glass), that was a reproduction of a four patch, made for the bicentennial in 1976.  I'm sorry, that is not an antique quilt to someone who was making quilts in 1976. ( I also made matching bicentennial dresses for myself and my two daughters in that year.  The girls were adorable in them, by the way.)  We finally found someone who told us there were antique quilts in the Smithsonian collection, but they were in storage, and not on display.  So much for our tax-supported National Museum in Washington DC.  We did finally find a quilt museum on our way home in Harrisonburg VA, which was very nice, albeit small.
It was in an old house close to the center of town.  I'd recommend it if you are in the area.  No photos were allowed inside, of course.

    I have done some sewing this summer.  I managed to get one quilt quilted of the two that I sandwiched in May.  I had a deadline on this one.  It was my UFO challenge for my guild and was due at the August meeting last week.  These were the birthday blocks from 2012.  I really like the setting.
Here is a close-up of one of the blocks.

    Speaking of Quilt Guild, here is a picture of some name tags I made for new members.  They finish at 4 inches.  There's not much room for error in a 4 inch block.

     I went to a one-day sewing retreat in July and had a great time.  It was in Brunswick, MO, the location of Sew Sweet Quilt Shop, which has a beautiful new retreat center., where we were privileged to meet Victoria Findlay Wolfe, visiting Missouri from New York. She makes some beautiful quilts and was a super nice person, in the bargain.  
     Here is what I was working on:
I picked up the pattern and bunting fabric in Atlanta in February and thought it was appropriate to work on in July.  The star fabric came out of the scrap bins.

    I needed some handwork for the summer, for those long summer evenings when I want to be outside, but have difficulty just sitting in a lawn chair watching fireflies.  Here was the stitching project for those times.
This is a pattern by Shelly Pagliai  Shelly taught at Arrow Rock Quilt Camp last spring and also organized the little retreat in Brunswick with Victoria Findlay Wolfe.  Shelly does a lot of the quilting for Victoria.  I wish I had pictures to show you of those.

     One of my biggest projects of the summer was buying and refurbishing another vintage sewing machine.  I had long admired the machines called the "Pink Atlas".  They were a class 15 Japanese clone modeled after the Singer 15-91 and other class 15 machines.  Mine is a 1953 model, so would have been making its debut about the time I started sewing at age 9 or 10.  
It is really more peach colored than pink, but has as much chrome as a cadillac of the era.  The case was in terrible shape with termite damage and a peeling cover.

And here is the transformation;


     The machine also required some work, a new bobbin tire, tension check spring, foot controller, re-wiring, etc.  She is now running well and has been named "Blossum".

     I haven't neglected my treadle with all the excitement of a "new" vintage machine.  Lest she feel forgotten, I took a paper piecing project to her this week, and she sewed like a champ.  Talk about control when you need to start and stop in a particular spot, she's the girl.  
Notice the colors?  I'm thinking Halloween!  My favorite holiday.
    Stay tuned and keep on stitching.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A week of treadling

     This week has been one of those limbo weeks.  I am going on vacation next week and this week was a short one due to the holiday, therefore I haven't been able to get into anything of any consequence.

I  did spend a couple of hours in one of our community buildings sandwiching a couple of quilts, using two 8 foot tables pushed together.  It sure is better than crawling around and around on the floor, especially for a larger quilt.  I haven't wanted to start the quilting because of being gone next week, so was looking around for something to sew on that wouldn't require much concentration and could be easily interrupted.
     I pulled out the Split Nine Patches and brought them upstairs to the Singer 127.  I knew my treadling skill could use some improvement, so decided to concentrate on getting more comfortable with that process.  Here's the things that needed improvement; my 1/4 inch seam was inconsistent, my seams weren't very straight, the treadle belt was slipping and I would frequently break the thread because I would start the treadle movement backwards.
     I set up my sewing space and started addressing these issues.  I had bought a 1/4 inch piecing foot that was supposed to fit the 127, but if I used it, the fabric wouldn't feed through right.  I tried adjusting the presser foot pressure, but it still wouldn't feed properly.  I put the original presser foot back on, but then my seam wasn't a consistent size.  After trying several ways of marking the throat plate, I ended up with masking tape plus a magnetic business card.  Whenever you change the bobbin, you open the bobbin cover and disrupt the magnetic card, thus the need for both.
     Next, I shortened the treadle belt by about a 1/4 inch.  That helped with starting the machine going in the right direction.  I am happy to report that I haven't broken the thread all week.
     Now to work on the straight seam issue.  I seem to need to pin a little more with the treadle.  Otherwise, when I take my right hand off the fabric to give the flywheel a push, I get a little zag in my seam, or maybe its a zig, anyway it zig-zags.  I also think practice will make perfect.  The more I do it, the more control I feel I have.  I don't seem to think about the treading as much as I did.
    I love these split nine-patches.  Everyone of them is unique.  I have 70 now, on my way to 196.  That will give me a quilt 84 X 84.  The blocks finish at 6 inches.  Here's some of them;

I love how the shades of color blend on each side of the diagonal line.  I do find it difficult to just pick up the units willy-nilly and sew them together.  I find myself planning the color arrangement of each block.  I don't think that is the intent of a scrappy quilt, but just can't help myself.
     I will try to post about vacation, but not sure I can do it with my phone or i-Pad while on the move.  If I can't figure it out, I will post when I get home.  Meanwhile,
keep on stitchin'.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Road Trip

  Today was a day much anticipated by the members of my guild as well as myself.  We have been planning a day trip to three quilt shops in northwest Missouri for several months.  One of them was Missouri Star Quilt Co., the shop which is featured in numerous You tube tutorials, as well as making the national news in recent months because of the transformation they have made in this small town off  the beaten path.  This is a small town familiar to me because I grew up in this part of Missouri and was a frequent visitor to the town.  I had watched it suffer the same gradual decline affecting many small rural towns in the U.S.  It has been so exciting to see the almost overnight success of this town, especially because it has been achieved by QUILTING!
    Here is a little photo tour of our day.  We started with a shop called "By the Yard"  which is located on a narrow, winding, hilly blacktop road in the middle of nowhere.  But, Wow, what a shop.

    The loft houses her long arm and is a great workspace.  Her prices were very good.  I bought the fabric to finish a large quilt, that "row by row" that has been on the back burner so long.

Our next stop was in Cameron MO, which was a great little shop...

with a nice selection of Halloween fabrics….

and a great selection of Civil War fabrics.

    Then, traveling east on Highway 36, we arrive in Hamilton, home of Missouri Star.

Numerous cutting stations, four cash/wrap stations and lots of friendly, helpful staff.  I bought the daily deal, a Jo Morton jelly roll and asked about some coordinating fabric and here is where a a lovely young lady took me….
stacks of unwrapped bolts of fabric just waiting for me to choose the perfect coordinate.  She told me it had just come in from the company and they hadn't had time to stock it.  I felt like I had found hidden treasure.  

Here's what I chose.

    We had lunch at the cute little bakery next door (chicken salad on fresh baked flatbreads), then walked down the street to check out the other Missouri Star shops.  Yes, there are currently three shops and a retreat center, with two more shops under construction.  

Sew Seasonal, selling Halloween, Christmas, and Patriotic fabrics.

The original J.C. Penney store, which houses Missouri Star's solids, blenders and batiks.   The original sign hangs inside. 

I shopped this J.C. Penney store while growing up and bought many fabrics there.   I think its great that they saved the old sign. 

This is the retreat center.  The first floor is a huge sewing space and kitchen with two handicapped bedrooms and baths.  The second floor is all bedrooms and baths.  They can accommodate over 20 quilters.  This building was a former photography studio where I had my senior picture taken.  It is so heartwarming to me to see these shuttered buildings from my childhood brought back to life. 
    We had a great day.  With all of the fabric I bought I will surely need to…
keep on stitchin'

Friday, May 16, 2014

Quilt Camp 2014

 WOW!  What a great time we had at Arrow Rock Quilt Camp this year.

Everything was perfect, the projects, the meals, the weather and best of all, the company of quilters who attended this year.  I have lots of pictures to share, so lets get started.

First, quilters at work.

Now, quilters at play.

I taught the mystery quilt project and had a great time with about 12 students over three days.  Here is the picture of my version of the finished project and following is Sheri and I, with her completed top.

It's hard to believe it is the same quilt, isn't it?  Again, it is all about fabric choices.  
It is made with 88 charm squares and some coordinating fabrics.  Fast and fun.

Next, here is a Featherweight that came to camp.  It is tan, not white, and was adorable.  She played with my 301 for the day.  The case even matches it.

There were several black FW's at camp, they make such a happy sound while sewing.  One of my students and I even had a chance to work on hers.  She hit a pin and that "tooth" on the bobbin race jumped out of position.  We took the needle plate off and fixed it and she was soon sewing again.  What a great machine!  Had it been a modern computerized machine, she would have been out of commission for the rest of camp.

Here are some pictures of the challenge projects.  We had some very creative people at work on this.
The floral fabric in the inner border is the challenge fabric.  
This is the winner of the small quilt category.

This is Lola's quilt, the winner of the large quilt category.

And this is the winner of the "most creative use of fabric" category.

This is Julie's quilt.  She used the pattern from last year's mystery quilt and scaled it down.  You can actually see the challenge fabric better in this one.  It is the green floral.

That's all from quilt camp for now.  The next two pictures were found on Facebook.  I just thought they were fun.  
This is a picture from the 1960's.  It is a float made by the Dressmaker's Union.  I wish I could tell if the women on the float are real models or mannequins.

And this one is hilarious!  I wonder if Zeke would like a quilted coat.

That's all for now.  Keep on stitchin'.