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'.

Friday, May 2, 2014

May Day

    When I was a child, the children in my small hometown celebrated May Day on the first day of May.  
I spent several days before the big day planning my baskets to deliver to my friends, hopefully in secret.  The baskets were always homemade, using whatever container was at hand, decorated with crepe paper and ribbons and filled with flowers.  I no longer make May Baskets, but I still look for flowers on  the first of May.  Here is a dogwood tree blooming in our little town.

Our lilac bush in the back yard is blooming, the peonies are bursting in their buds, and the long struggling pansies are finally happy.  
      I have been getting some sewing done.  I finished quilting the quilt camp challenge/granddaughters comfort quilt and am happy with it.  I quilted it lightly, so it would be soft and cuddly.  Here is a picture of it.

I have a cropped version of the picture somewhere in this computer, but can't seem to find it.  This is one of the Missouri Star quilt patterns, called Garden Party.  I changed it a bit by giving the flowers a yellow center.  It is basically snowball corners on charm squares, then sashed.  

     I have been keeping a notebook in my sewing room with goals and accomplishments since January and find it is very encouraging to review them at the end of the month.  I think we all accomplish more than we think, just don't take the time to document it.  In April, I made 56 total blocks.  Here's the breakdown:  30 Camp Windemere blocks for the Barbara Brackman fabric quilt, 10 Split Nine Patch for the Bonnie Hunter quilt, 6 Dear Jane blocks and 10 Uneven Nine-Patch for the Row by Row Quilt I have been working on for years.  In addition to that, I machine quilted two quilts and machine embroidered 13 tea towels for a local shop to sell.  Also did some clothing alterations for my husband and a friend in town.  Here's my goals for May:  finish the Row by Row quilt, finish Row A of Dear Jane, machine quilt my UFO challenge for Quilt Guild and start the Guild Quilt Show challenge.  The challenge name is Reach for the Stars and I plan to challenge myself to paper piece some stars for it.  I have struggled to become proficient at paper piecing, but working on the Dear Jane has given me more experience and confidence.   If you would like to see what our active guild is doing, we have recently established a web site.   It also will give details of our Bonnie Hunter visit in September 2015.  

Enjoy your Spring, I certainly am.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pickin ' in the Ozarks

     I couldn't seem to find this picture when I was doing the earlier post, but wanted to include it.  We'll call this an addendum.  We stopped at a couple of flea markets on our way home from Quilt Camp in the Ozarks and I found two little sewing collectibles.  We also found a Singer 15-91 in pretty good condition for $35.00, but passed it up.  I have had non-buyer's remorse for days.  That is almost worse than buyer's remorse.  So, here is what I did buy, a sock darning kit in a wooden case and a needlepoint pincushion.

Here is the other side of the pincushion and a little better view of the darning kit.  The thread post fits into the wooden case. 

Its not a very long drive back to the flea market with the 15-91 and Gina is always ready for a road trip. 
Stay tuned for the next installment.
Keep on pickin'.  

Camp for Quilters

       Ok, picture this…mature (some of us, very mature) women in a car loaded to the roof with sewing machines (4), projects (?), snacks (chocolate), suitcases (3) and scarcely contained excitement, hitting the road for quilt camp in the Missouri Ozarks.  Three uninterrupted days of sewing, giggling, continuous snacking, and great meals (believe it or not).  The dinner meal requires tramping up the road to the dining hall (remember church camp?) and tramping back to the sewing room and sleeping lodge.  But, after a day sitting at the sewing machine, that tramp to the dining hall was a welcome diversion.  Our weather was beautiful, the first 80's temperatures we had seen this spring.  Following are some pictures of the facility and then I will move on the focus of the week…QUILTS!

The public rooms are beautiful!  The lodging rooms are pretty basic, bunk beds and bare bones bathrooms.  Thats when you realize you're at camp.

Here is the group from our guild that went on this adventure.

And here we are sewing and playing…
Beth in her baseball cap.

Gina, Mary and Patti
 Some of us took our vintage machines.  I took my Singer 301and there were also some featherweights.   They received plenty of attention from the other quilters.


The group at large.  I think there were 46 of us.

You'll notice the snacks readily available.

And sometimes, girls just want to have fun

Beth put this together while at camp.
The blocks had been pieced by friend, Marty, as a
trade for some long arm quilting.

It's hard to see the embroidery, but Beth II pieced
the sashings and put these
embroidered blocks together during camp.

Here's my finish, from the Metropolitan Fair
layer cake.

Patti did the mystery project.

Gina put this together as a gift for her husband.

Show and Tell was on Saturday night and there were some real beauties.
This was a favorite of mine, it was wonky stars with a
border of three rows of five inch squares.  Simple,
but very effective.

Isn't this lovely?
This is Gina's Bonnie Hunter quilt.  I think the pattern
is Easy Street.  Gina, correct me if I'm wrong.
And the back!

And Michelle's beautiful Farmer's Wife!
Love this setting for her Sampler.  They are
courthouse steps blocks.  Of course,
I love her colors, too.

I apologize for the random placement of the photos.
I have had a terrible time writing this post as the photos
go where they decide, instead of where I want them.
As you can see, this is being entered as a caption instead of
narrative.  Just bear with me.  Maybe the next one will go better.