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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Back to little nine patches!

Finally I am back to working on that little 1-1/2" nine patch quilt. There is still a lot of sewing but it's going to become a favorite of mine. I'm putting together the rows from the top corner and the bottom corner of the quilt. I can't wait until I get to the middle!
 
 
I have way too many UFO's and I have had them laying everywhere! I've been quite intrigued by the UFO challenges out there so I started to make a list thinking I may do one of those challenges. When I got to 20 projects and still had lots more I thought I needed to do something more drastic than a list. I put away all my UFO's except the ones I am working on right now. They are in a bin up high in the closet so I can't see them. For the next many months I am going to work on one machine pieced project until it is finished and one hand work project. I'm allowing small projects to creep in that can be done in a day or if its a gift I am making. 
 
My handwork project is the borders of the applique quilt I had been working on last year. Since rheumatoid arthritis came into my life I can't do a lot of handwork at one time so this will be slow going but it will get done and I am enjoying it.
 
 
The hard part of this is the temptation to start another new project. That is the hazard of blogs and Pinterest...there is always something to catch your eye and send you off the rails!
 
I'll be happily following UFO progress in blogland!
 
Happy stitching!
 
 
 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Peace and Healing and a little precision piecing

In early December, a friend sent me  the link to a Bock of the Week she was starting from Piecing The Past Quilts Although I probably should not have taken on another project (my UFO list is completely out of control), I thought one block a week was reasonable to get done.
 
 
Week 1
 
 
I decided to do mine in scrappy reds and white/cream all from my stash.
 
Week 2
 
 
 
All the blocks are 6" so some precision piecing is needed!
 
Week 3
 
 
I made 2 of these. My first one did not have enough contrast!
 
Week 4
 
 
This one was fun and cute!
 
Week 5
 
 
The easiest block so far!
 
A little about precision piecing...the last couple of years many of my quilts have been easy piecing. This project is a chance to keep my piecing skills working - if you don't use them you lose them as they say!
 
Here are a few of my basics to keep your piecing on track. I think most quilters know these tips but if any of you are like me you get lazy once in a while, especially when making easy blocks.
 
  • Check your seam allowance before starting to piece. It's easy to take a little too much or too little.
  • When piecing 1/2 square triangles I always cut my squares a little bigger and trim once the triangles are pieced together. So if you are cutting squares 2-7/8" I cut mine 3" and then cut into triangles. Sew those together and trim to size keeping that diagonal line perfect (here it would be 2-1/2").
  • Be careful starting and stopping stitching so that your starts and stops are where they should be. Often we don't get the beginning of the seam lined up perfectly with the needle and a sewing machine wants to drift at the end of the seam. Even a little bit can really affect how a block turns out.
  • Press carefully and for construction. Often the seam will hint what direction it wants to go. I always try to figure out my pressing so that it makes sense for the whole block. Sometimes that means pressing to one side and sometimes it means pressing open. And I always try to be aware of bias seams and to take extra care when pressing them.
  • A little starch sometimes goes a long way. I used to hardly ever use starch because I was mostly a hand quilter and I didn't want to quilt through starched fabrics. Now with my arthritis hand quilting will be something that is rare so I have started using starch here and there. In this quilt I decided to use light starch on my fabrics. I still want my fabric to feel like fabric  (not stiff paper) so I'm careful. It does help keep the fabric from stretching so when piecing small components it can be helpful!
 I'll be practicing all these tips while doing this Block of the Week!
 
What kind of tips do you use to get perfect blocks?
 
Happy Stitching and Happy New Year!
 
 
 
 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Buried Treasure

It is a TREASURE and yes it was buried (in my sewing room!)!
 
It is my record of gifts given and received from long ago! As I flipped through, all these memories came flooding back to me. So many quilts, bags and table runners; so many Christmas decorations; and even a record from when I did a Secret Santa all year long  back in 2000. There were knitted toys and crocheted afghans, and so much more!
 
 
I remember I made the cover for the notebook so I could try stitching with metallic threads. Metallic threads were so much more finicky than they are today.  As I remember it did not work out well in the beginning.
 
 
 
I started keeping the record in 1998. It seems so long ago. I haven't added to the book in a few years. I started it at a time before digital cameras and I don't have many photos for what I have made and given from back then. I think in the new year I will dig through some of those old photos...
 
And maybe this would be a good year to start this tradition again!
 
And here is a quick project I've been working on while I have been visiting with my dad. A small granny square afghan to enjoy. I may even have it done by Christmas!
 
 
 
I LOVE the colors! These would make a spectacular quilt too!
 
 
And meet Sylvester...my new pet snake. I made a pair of them for my step son and his friend for Christmas and I was smitten. I knew I had to have one for me! They are fast knits with self striping sock yarn. The pattern is in Susan B. Anderson's book Itty-Bitty Toys. One snake took less than 2 evenings in front of the TV. He ties perfectly around my Ott-Lite  but until the pair are opened on Christmas morning he has to hide.

 
 
Now I am home all week and don't have a lot to do except take care of my Mr. who is recovering from shoulder surgery.
Christmas gifts are done and wrapped. The baking is almost done and the menu's for Christmas eve and day are almost figured out.
 
I think I'll enjoy some Christmas movies while quilting!
 
Merry Christmas and Happy Stitching!
 
 
 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Theme is Getting it Done!

I confess that I have absolutely no idea where my motivation is coming from. I am getting things checked off my UFO list at lightning speed!
 
First I fixed my snow angel cross stitch or at least I improvised the fix!
With a leap of faith I took apart the frame. It really wasn't too bad.
 
 
 As it turns out I had missed 2 whole rows of the urn. I ended up stitching right over the green stem. I didn't take out that single green stitch because it would have meant taking out a lot of stitches.
 
 
It actually hid quite well under the gold.
 
 
And now she is ready to hang for Christmas!
 
 
Next I finished two pairs of woolly socks for my Dad for Christmas. I make him socks every year. He wears them every evening watching TV and wears them to bed to keep his feet warm. When I ask him what he wants for Christmas his first answer is always socks! It makes me so happy to know that I can make him something that he loves so much and that is such a part of his daily life!
 
 
The next finish is this adorable knitted and felted cat. I had bought this Mary Mayhew pattern and the wool when I was in New Hampshire this past spring visiting relatives.
 
I have named him Felix. My husband thinks I should make an orange cat as a companion!
 
 
 
My little machine applique quilt is all ready for quilting! I am not quite sure how I want to quilt it yet so this may wait until the new year to finish.
 
 
I really enjoy the sweet birds and I am enjoying the neutrals as well.
 
 
And finally not quite finished but some progress has been made on these felt Santa ornaments.
The more I stitch the cuter they get!
 
 
This one is ready to embellish!
 
 
Happy Stitching!
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Motivation!

I LOVE it when motivation strikes! I have thought of updating my blog often the last couple weeks but I have been so busy and happy accomplishing things I haven't gotten around to it. So here are a few things I've been doing...
 
 
It all started with spray basting quilts for the first time! I got five quilts basted. (The one above I am going to quilt next - I am hoping to get it hung in my sewing room for the winter) I still have two from my pile left to baste but I have to piece a backing first. These 5 will keep me busy for a while though. I'll give some thoughts on spray basting in an upcoming post and after these 5 are quilted, bound and washed.
 
 
Above are two of the smallest ones, machine quilted and ready to sew the binding...
and here they are all done and washed.
The pinwheels are already living on the bottom shelf of my coffee table.
 
 
The Bear Paw (love, love , love it!) is hanging in my sewing room.
 
 
I also added some decorative stitching to some of the raw edge machine appliqued blocks.
 
 
And here they are trimmed and ready to sew with the sashing. Finished the blocks are just 5" square and now that I see them altogether I am liking them more.
They still seem flat to me but quilting will help.
 
 
I also sewed a lot of bias stems for the borders of my hand applique quilt. It seems as if it has been a long time since I touched it so I am looking forward to getting back at it.
 
 
 
This little knitted creature will be a cat as soon as it dries. I just finished felting it and stuffing it so now it s drying before adding the finishing touches.
 
 
Finally my thoughts have turned to Christmas. Yes I have been making a few gifts though not as many as I usually do. This cross stitch has been done for a few years. The first year I hung it and part way through the season I realized that the urn on the right had no handles and it was supposed to! Arrrrr!
 
 
So my thought at that time was that is ok...part of its charm...I haven't hung it since because it BOTHERS me to no end. In a mad cleaning session last week I found it tucked away and I knew it had to be taken apart and fixed.
 
 
Wish me luck...it was professionally framed so hopefully I get it all back together looking as good as it does now. 
 
Happy Stitching!