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.