Monday, June 27, 2016

Trying to Stay Cool

It has been very hot here, but then it's the Midwest and it's almost July. Heat is to be expected. It's the humidity that's the killer, though. Yesterday the temperature was in the upper 90s and it rained twice. Very sticky. But, we have a well functioning A/C system, so all is frosty cool within. I started another small quilt for our guild's Comfort Quilt project using up some charm packs that have been ageing in a shoebox on an upper shelf. Out of sight, out of mind. Last week's trip to Hamilton, MO reminded me that there were quite a few precuts in my stash and that it was time to put them to good use.

Some simple broken dishes blocks make an easy small quilt.

I finished (or thought that I had) my hexie challenge quilt. It's all spray basted to the batting and backing and the edges are machine basted. And, guess what? It's not a hexie. It has 12 sides, not six. Sigh. Back to the drawing board. I think it can be saved by (hand) sewing six small black triangles where there are the blue edges. Not a big disaster, just a pain in the keester.

Off to the side you can see the X and O baby quilt. It is just about sewn together and will be ready for quilting soon.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Changing Gears

I'm taking a bit of a break from baby string quilts. Our guild's 2017 show will be upon us before you know it and the quilt show chairman has set a challenge to make a hexie quilt. This is rosette #1 from Katja Marek's New Hexagong Quilt-Along. Only two of the "rows" have been made and already the piece is reaching the size limitation of 25" x 25". The center two "rows", minus the three trial pieces sticking out, measure 16" at the widest point. I think I will stop here and add triangles to fill in between the six points to bring it into a hexie shape.Those three other pieces are not adding anything to the overall design anyway. I will reuse the papers and start over with other fabrics for Katja's project. By the way, I saw the pack of paper pieces for rosette #1 on the MSQC web site for half the price. Click here.

You can order the paper pieces for the entire project from Paper Pieces. The first rosette is the largest and therefore is the most expensive at $21.00. When English paper piecing I normally print and cut out my own papers but I decided to splurge this time. The packet of papers was totally accurate and if there were two of the same shapes (such as the diamonds) but of a slightly different size, two different colors of paper were used to make them very easy to differentiate.

This is the mural on the side of the retreat center at Missouri Star Quilt Co. (MSQC) in Hamilton, MO. I was lucky enough to get into Carmon and April Henry's Featherweight maintenance class at MSQC this week. You can read more about them and their workshops here. I highly recommend this class to anyone who wants to learn how to service their own Featherweight machines. The Henrys were accompanied and assisted by their two teen aged children, Christian and Ruthie. Christian is a memory bank of Featherweight history and as good a technician as his father. Ruthie demonstrated how she restores Featherweight cases to pristine condition. It's very refreshing to see such two well-adjusted youngsters that seem genuinely happy to be spending the summer traveling around the United States working with their parents.

The first evening we were treated to a trunk show by Jenny Doan. The woman is a veritable powerhouse of energy and a very good speaker. I am not a big user of precuts, which she loves and which is the focus of her company. There are bolts of fabric, to be sure, but there are TONS of precuts. After her presentation I have been won over a tiny bit to her way of thinking. Since there are boxes of charm square packets on my shelves (can't resist at Connecting Threads when they are $2.00 or less!), I will be combing through back issues of Block magazine to find patterns for the baby quilts I have been making.

Unfortunately, while I have a few photos, I don't have much to report about MSQC because the shops close at 5:00 p.m. during the week. On Monday I got checked into the workshop after 3:00 p.m. By the time setup was finished, there was less than an hour to shop. The mercury was close to 100, so frankly there was not a lot of incentive to go outside and walk around in the heat. The second day class let out at 5:00 p.m., so again there was no time to shop. I left to drive home immediately after class. What I did see of the main shop and the reproductions shop was very nice and inviting. The staff are super friendly and helpful. MSQC has certainly revitalized this tiny Midwestern town. They employ 300 with many coming from the surrounding farm communities. Amish country is close by, and Kansas City just an hour away, so you could easily make a trip to Hamilton something for the entire family to enjoy.

This is the newly remodeled and just this week re-opened main store. As you can see from the photo it is very large, open, and airy. There are big screen TVs in the store which air Jenny Doan's tutorials; there are nice, big cushy arm chairs for resting and watching the videos.

This is a new spool doily I scored at the class. I love the watermelon theme and the little black seeds are tiny black seed beads crocheted into the doily. The Henrys have a woman who crochets these doilies for them in all sorts of patterns and colors. There was a red, white, and blue star for the Fourth and many other designs. They had an entire case of these things, so the little crochet lady must just be hooking her little heart out.

Friday, June 17, 2016

In the Pink

Small string quilt #6 completed! Easy as these are, I want to try something different. If I can find the roll of adding machine tape that a friend gave me some time back, I will cut 36"strips and make long string pieces. They will be sewn with strips of whole fabric in between to make small coin quilts. Crazy Mom has a tutorial on her blog if you are not familiar with the pattern. If I can't find the roll of paper tape, I will use more of the telephone book pages and sew the sections together.

I have started a new baby quilt for a friend's grandson; no pattern but the one I have made up. There are a number of these X and O quilts on the web. The blocks finish at 8" and are made with a stitch and flip process that yields a lot of "bonus triangles."

These small pinwheel blocks finish at 2.5" although from the comparable size of the photos it's hard to tell the actual size until they are placed side by side.

The little pinwheels will go into a doll-sized quilt for another little girl.

Next week I will be in Hamilton, MO at Missouri Star Quilt Company for a Featherweight maintenance class. Inasmuch as I have two Featherweights and a Singer 301, I am eager to learn more about these machines. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Seeing Red

Almost there. This little string quilt lacks just one lonely block. I made the right number, but in trimming them up, I grabbed two blocks instead of one and whacked away with the rotary cutter. I did this once before and thought that I had learned my lesson. Obviously not. When i get a moment I will make the last one.

Tomorrow I will be working on our guild's 2017 raffle quilt. Four of us worked on it today and got the first skinny 1/2" border sewn on. The next border is 3" wide and has a row of hexies appliqued down the middle of it. It will require some finagling to get it to fit the existing top. Perhaps I am a bit cocky after my success with "My Blue Heaven" putting on a pieced border, but I volunteered to do this. Nothing will be cut and nothing will be machine sewn; I will be marking with chalk and only hand basting the borders until certain that everything fits. Guild meeting is Friday evening and we want to have the top out for display to show our progress. Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Stringin' Along

The blue and green string quilt for Nurses for Newborns has been sewn together. These small 6" blocks sew up quickly, even though I am using my treadle and taking my time. I hope to get this one sandwiched and quilted in the next day or so. Soon I will prepare the papers and select strips for this evening's sewing. Red and neutrals come to mind.

This behemoth of a quilt top is very nearly finished. The last border needs to be sewn on, but the pieces are all sewn together. This quilt was started in a workshop with Bonnie Hunter last fall and is my rendition of her free pattern, "My Blue Heaven." The original is done in blues and neutrals. As there were not enough blue strips in my scrap drawers, I branched out and chose the additional analogous colors of green, purple, and aqua. All well and good if I had paid closer attention to value. As it turned out, with the additional colors and a good many of the star points disappearing into the background because they were too light, the effect of setting the blocks immediately next to one another was a big visual mess. Hence, the sashing was introduced. That, of course, changed the dimensions of the quilt and required some figuring with paper, pencil, and calculator to figure out how to compensate for the extra inches created with the sashing.

I was pleasantly surprised (actually startled is more like it) when everything fit together so well. It was almost scary how well the border fit. I used the broken dishes blocks from the original pattern which mirror the centers of the interior blocks, each of which features a broken dish block. However, I decided to make them in the same gray and white tones of the sashing and cornerstones to bring some cohesion to the quilt top. The idea came to me from reading Mickey Depre's latest book, "Half Scrap Quilts". She has a couple of quilts in this book (which I highly recommend) that use this coloration. This quilt is huge. It easily covers my queen sized bed with enough to actually completely cover the mattress and with enough to tuck under the pillows. Needless to say, I will not be quilting this one.