Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Farmhouse Flowers

Why does it take so long to make a pieced back for a quilt??? Huh? Why is that?  As you may recall, I recently realized that the quilt show is coming up this Saturday, April 2, and all year, I've had my mind set to enter my embroidered Farmhouse Windowsill quilt in this show.  I had the top completed so I now have less than a week to get it finished and entered in the show.

Sunday afternoon was spent in the sewing room making the back for this quilt.  Of course, I was short on backing fabric so had to piece one.  And that's what took so darn long.  Could I simply stitch together blocks and/or strips to get the size I want?  Oh no, that would be way too easy. Instead I came up with this design which involved inserting a rectangular piece in the very middle of the backing.  That took a few hours by itself.  

But, by the end of the day, it was completed and ready to get pinned the next day. 

Above is the top, laying on the floor of the Rec Center.  

And here's a close up of the FMQ I'm doing in the embroidered  blocks. Nothing too fancy but it's something I feel comfortable doing.  I also stitched in the ditch around each of the embroidered sections and around the entire quilt along the large turquoise  flange. Then I put on my FMQ foot and began stitching around the embroidered flowers.  I chose to use a meandering vine and leaf design that I'm just making up as I go along.  I managed to finish two of the squares before I realized I was getting tired, so I put it all away for the day.

I also made up the label for the quilt on Sunday after I pieced the backing.  I decided to call it "Farmhouse Flowers" and stitched the label on my machine. I love using the various fonts to make up a label--it's much more fun than simply writing it out on a piece of fabric.

I plan on finishing the last 2 embroidered blocks this morning and then I'll tackle the thousand and one pinwheels I have in the sashing.   I've been struggling with how to quilt up all those pinwheels and coming up with no good ideas. So last night I checked in with Prof. Google, and got a couple of ideas that I'll try out today.  What did we ever do before Google?  

A few things to do in the house and then I'm in the sewing room for the rest of the day. Oh, I may take a little break and go for a walk since it's sunny and supposed to get to the high 60's today. Could it really be Spring?  

Friday, March 25, 2016

Happy Easter!

I know this is an early Easter greeting, but I expect the next couple of days will be a bit busy and I may forget to post, so here it is.

In looking at images for Easter, there were so many of daffodils, tulips, bunnies and chicks. Seeing these things made me long for spring here in Northern Wisconsin.  Yesterday, I woke to about 6" of fresh snow on the ground!  What's with that, I asked!  This is the view from my door this morning--almost all melted and with luck, and a cooperative Mother Nature, all will be gone by nightfall.  

Even without the snow, spring is still a bit of a way off in my neighborhood.  The only sign of new life is about 3" of new growth on the iris plants, and a swelling of the leaf buds on the maple trees. Still, hope springs eternal that one day--soon!--spring will arrive and I'll be basking in warmth, sunshine and gentle breezes.

But, until that happens, I'll be working on my hundreds of quilting projects that cry out for attention in my sewing room.  Here's an update of what's been accomplished in the past few days.

I knitted a cardigan sweater for an 18" doll. This will be put up for sale in November when the guild has its shop as part of the Quilt Tour that we participate in.  I used a variegated or  ombre colored yarn and I like how it turned out.  I may have enough left to knit a beret or stocking cap for the doll and make it a set.

Below is Felicity wearing the sweater over her Colonial dress!  Somehow I don't this they wore sweaters in Colonial Williamsburg, but she agreed to model for me anyway. Ha!

I also finished the throw quilt that daughter Jo asked me to make for her friends' wedding next month. It's a throw-sized one in cream with scrappy brown four-patch diamonds, and a piano key border made out of the brown fabrics I used in the diamonds.

This closeup shows the freehand spirals I stitched in each cream diamond, and you can just make out the floral design I put in the brown diamonds.  

Here on the dark side of the pieced backing, you can make out the overall design of the quilting.  I just stitched a circle pattern between the center and the border of the quilt and straight lines along the piano keys of the border.

Here's the pieced back  and below, the machine lettered label I attached to the quilt.  It says, 
                                         "For a Lifetime of Snuggling
                                           A wedding quilt for 
                                           Alissa and Clayton
                                           May 21, 2016

                                           Barbara Hauck   Menomonie WI"

  Hope the new couple likes it!  I liked working on this one especially since I didn't have to purchase anything to make it up. I had all the fabric I needed including the backing, the batting and the perfect threads for the quilting.  And now my stash is just a little bit leaner than before!  Love it!

I also managed to assemble the rows of blocks for the Civil War Jubilee quilt that I'm doing for the guild.  The last day of the guild quilt along is this Tuesday so I'd like to have the top finished by then.  The border is a pieced one that shouldn't take too long to assemble and attach, but I've learned the hard way that those can be famous last words, if you know what I mean!

Before I work on that border, I want to take out this quilt top and begin the quilting on it.  If it's finished in time, I want to enter it in a local quilt show coming up in a couple of weeks.  I doubt that it'll take any prizes but I want to know what the judges have to say about it.  I feel as though I'm sticking my neck out and it might get chopped off, but then I remember that the judges are quilters and quilters are nice so there will be nice comments.  Criticisms will be put in the nicest terms, don't you think?  I'm hoping that entering my quilts in shows will help me improve my quilting skills.  

The last thing I want to include in this rather lengthy post is the Craftsy sale that began today!  

All their classes ar $19.99!  I think that's a great deal so I went over there immediately and ordered a couple of classes on machine quilting that I think I'll learn a lot from.  

And now, it's time to get on with the day since I see that it's half over already!  Happy Spring and Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

World Quilting Day

I was told that yesterday, March 19, was World Quilting Day, and we quilters are encouraged to visit the LQS to celebrate--with wallets wide open, I suspect!  Well, I didn't do that. Instead, I quilted!

My guild offers several days a year where we get together and spend the day sewing and working on our projects. It's like a one day retreat.  Yesterday about a dozen of us gathered together for a day of sewing, chatting and giggling.  My husband asked me what we do at these "Sew Ins" and I explained that we get some sewing done but it's mostly talking and laughing.  And all without any wine at all!

I took my trusty Lily sewing machine with me and began the quilting on the brown and cream scrappy lap throw that I'm making for my daughter's friends who are getting married in a couple of months.

I'd gone to the Rec Center on Friday afternoon to pin this quilt sandwich as well as another one shown later in this post.  I go there so I can use their big tables and not have to crawl around on my knees on the floor.  So much better on my back--and my knees--and my dignity!  The $5 fee is worth every penny!

First, I used a dark thread to stitch straight lines through the dark 4-patches.  I stitched both ways and I thought about going in the ditch around each 4-patch, but decided to let that wait until I'd finished the entire center and then see if it was needed.

After I finished the straight line stitching, I changed to a free motion foot and a creamy white thread and began stitching spirals in each of the cream squares.  I was only able to get one row finished before it was time to pack up and head for home.  I've decided that I'll alternate rows so the spirals will go in opposite directions.  And I must say, my Lily held up very well--no broken threads so far.  Keep your fingers crossed that I don't run into the same problem I've had in the past where the thread breaks every few inches as I stitch the curves.


This is the other quilt sandwich I did up the other day at the Rec Center. It's a Disappearing 9-Patch that the guild did as an exchange a couple of years ago.  I'd made up the top but never got it quilted. It's on the list of Tops to be Quilted on my side bar.  I'll be happy to cross one of those tops off the list!

Anyway, I got the thing pinned but now I have no idea of how I'll quilt it up.  I'll have to let it marinate in my brain while I quilt the brown and cream quilt and I'm sure I'll have ideas when I need them.

The other task I've been working on this week has been to catch up with all the Civil War Jubilee blocks that I did not do while I was in the South.  It was too much to bring all my CW fabrics with and it only took 2 afternoons of sewing and I was caught up.  Now I get to start assembling them into rows. I hope to have the entire center finished, if not the borders as well, by the next Guild meeting on April 5th, since this was a block of the month project that I was in charge of.  I know some of the other participants in this project have finished their tops and one even has hers quilted up.  I'm not even aiming for that at this point! (She has a long arm machine in her house which is much faster than the quilting on my domestic machine, but I'm not jealous or anything!) 

And I just realized that April 8-10 is the spring retreat that the Guild sponsors so I have to have some things ready to go for that event.  I have so much quilting to do that I don't want to begin another pieced top but wonder if there's enough room on the tables for me to work on a bed sized quilt. Just had a thought!  I'll bring supplies to make up several items for my Etsy shop, Jolly Ruby, so I'll have more things for sale in the shop. Table runners and place mats are easy to make and quilt up in the smaller spaces available at the retreat.

That's it for today. Lots of little chores that have to get done before I get to head for the sewing room, so I'd better get on it.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Back home again

Well, I've been gone for 6 weeks, traveling and lazing along the Gulf of Mexico coast.  Don doesn't do winter very well and it's for his sake that I leave my home and journey south. He loves the warm and being able to go outside to play golf. Me?  I can take it or leave it. I grew up in Minnesota and spent much of my adult life in the northern half of the state where winter is something to be embraced and not whined about.  I was quite happy to be back in my own home where we were surprised to find warm temps (70 degrees F) and virtually no snow.  This sojourn to Southern Alabama makes for a very short winter. Indeed!

So, what did I accomplish in the way of quilting while I was gone?  First off, 2 fantastic days of class with Bonnie Hunter, making Jared Takes a Wife and Roll Roll Cotton Boll, two quilts I'd already make up on my own. It's so interesting to use different fabrics and colors and see how the quilt changes!  I managed to make all the turquoise pieced blocks for Roll Roll and have yet to make up the string pieced blocks in neutral.  When this one is finished, it'll be donated to my guild's charity project for this year. We're making quilts and pillow cases for the local children living in foster care.

I also was able to make up all the blocks for the Jared quilt, using my deep purples, plums, and merlots with gold fabrics.  I like this so much better than the one I made before which was every color under the sun!  Way too disorganized for my taste.  I was able to assemble most of the quilt before I ran out of sashing fabric.  I remember that I'd bought the fabric at the Busy Bobbin in Rice Lake, WI so will drive up there tomorrow to see if they have half a yard left for me.  Wish me luck!  If not, I'll have to take it apart and use something else for sashing. (Big sigh)

While I was on the Gulf Coast, I found this pretty fabric of green vines with pink flowers.

 I made it up into a table runner which is for sale in my Etsy store, Jolly Ruby.  I think it's just the right touch for a home in spring time.  And I have enough of the flower fabric to make a dress for an American Girls doll. I think a pink sash would look very good with it. 

I also spent a few hours embroidering a design by Crabapple Hill Studio and made  up a table runner for Easter. It also is for sale in Jolly Ruby.

This is the finished quilt on my dining table. I did the embroidery while I was gone and quilted it up after I got home where I have all my quilting supplies.  I did a simple cross hatch as background in the two end panels where the embroidery is, and I did 4 little nests with eggs in them in the center panel.  

Here's a close up of the embroidery--you can just make out the silver accent on the ribbon and the eggs.  I did this with Cosmo floss and I really like working with the glistening thread.  I hope to find another design where I can use it--or I can make another Easter basket and turn it into a decorative pillow.  Who knows?

I also worked on making up this flowery quilt for myself. I'd bought the fabric a couple of years ago but kept putting off working on it. It's a printed panel of these stylized flowers. I cut them out into approximately 6" squares and made coordinating flying geese units to make the star points. These blocks come out to about 12". I have coordinating border prints of butterflies, dragonflies and bumblebees along with more flowers to use for sashing and the final border. I got a lot done, but there's more to do here at home.  When I find time!

I also finished the top of a throw sized quilt that my daughter Jo had asked me to do as a wedding gift for her friends.  I'd begun making four-patches out of scraps of browns and blacks that I already had and I had the perfect creamy colored fabric to go with them, so I was able to assemble the top while I was gone. I'd brought along extra brown fabrics and used them to make a piano key border for it. Now I need to get it quilted up so it's ready to be given to the couple at their wedding.  Hope they like it--Jo says she thinks they will! I like how I was able to use up so much brown fabric, including the fishing lure design.  I hope they get a laugh out of it!

I also need to work on quilting up the Farmhouse Window Sills quilt if I'm going to get it done in time to enter it in the show next month. I think I'm going to do a little more embroidery on it, outside of the embroidered blocks.  Maybe in the turquoise inner border (not the flanges around the blocks)--some lazy daisy flowers and leaves, I'm thinking. I'll try it out and see if I like it.

On the way home from Alabama, we stopped in Paducah to see the National Quilt Museum  Oh My! What a treat that was!  I'd never been there and was surprised that Don wanted to see the quilts with me.  He absolutely loved it!  And I got lots of ideas on how to make my quilts better than they are now. I was especially thrilled to see some quilts made by some recognized quilters whose blogs I follow.  If you haven't been there yet, please try to make it.  You'll not regret it, I guarantee it!   

Whew!  This is a long post, but it's been a long time since I posted anything.  Too busy on the beach and cooking up Gulf shrimp, I guess!  Anyway, I'm back home and settled into a routine again.  Got to go and get my hair cut right now, so that's it for today!