Sunday, March 27, 2016

GO! Workout

When I think of things I'm grateful for, that I picked up quilting as my hobby of choice always makes the list. It's brought me good times, helped me through hard times, and invited the friendship of wonderful women into my life. I love, too, how quilting lets us bring gifts to others as well. A friend is fighting cancer and so I've been collecting well wishes from co-workers. This weekend it's been all about sewing up those blocks.  (I whited out the names to protect people's privacy).

These have been great blocks for my leaders and enders tumbler project. Wow, have I made progress this weekend!

They may not look like much all neatly folded up (there's some more strips out of the camera image as well), but I have the rows for the lap quilt nearly all finished. Just a few more patches to add and then I'll be joining the rows together. I'm excited about that -- all part of my current need to finish the old as well as start the new.

The working dies for this week:

I love when dies play well together -- like how the 3" finished half square triangles line up so perfectly with the signature die.

And there is a new Big gadget in my sewing room!

That was an indulgence that nearly had me hyper-ventilating before I clicked purchase. Though there is at least some reason to the madness. My doctor has a habit of starting sentences with "Well, at your age . . . ." And what being an old gray mare of my age means is that those repetitive stress injuries are way too easy to come by. I can feel it on occasion when I'm doing a lot of GO! work -- cranking that handle again and again. I feel it with rotary cutting as well. My elbow and shoulder just ain't what they used to be. So I'm hoping the GO! Big can keep me quilting away with a little less wear and tear, since I am a woman of a certain age (and then some).

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Two Colors, Too Fun

It's been a good week. To begin, I finished the miniature blue and white quilt.

I am so happy with how that came out.  I'm really loving that I hand quilted it.  So sweet.

And I made progress on the next red and white. I'll probably branch out with my red and white minis, but to start, I'm pulling patterns from Miniatures in Minutes. This next one is the Everlasting Tree foundation. The red and white print-out is my EQ mock-up.

And here it is with the top sewn up. White fabric. White snow.

I think I'll probably machine quilt this one.  I seem to be on a mission to begin anew and finish the old, so the little pincushion below is the finish of a little five by five block I had sewn up quite a while ago.

And with all the red and white going on, I decided it was finally time to order Infinite Variety. It came this last week. Oh, those quilts. Be still my heart! And look, here's a red and white version of the blue and white mini quilt I showed up above:

I'm pretty sure I'll need a red and white version of my own!  I was playing with this design in EQ and wanted to see if I could work a two-color with triangles in the larger squares. This is what I came up with:

I like that quite a lot. And then, what should I see as I was browsing Infinite Variety, but this variation:

I love that as I play with quilt design, I'm just following the footsteps of all those quilters who came before.  It really is a living tradition.

And because I need to show I haven't forgotten about the GO! Sew Challenge, I have to say my tumbler die has been getting a work out this last week. I've been cutting new and sewing the old. This is only part of the show:

Every bit of progress counts! I do LOVE to start new quilts, but it sure is satisfying to work on the older projects and see them move closer to completion. I have so many unfinished projects, they feel like a burden or a weight of guilt. Working on them definitely helps get rid of that bit of unnecessary emotional baggage. And besides, pretty fabrics, pretty quilts!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

What's GO!ing On?

I'm still following my GO! Sew Challenge and this week the GO! has been getting a workout. First off, I finished the little red and white 13-Square miniature quilt.

The GO! has been busy cutting signature patches for a quilt I'll be making for a friend.

And there's some bright and cheerful tumbler patches coming along, too.

And it's March,  which means it's time, of course,  to bring out the miniature Irish Chain quilt.

I wrote about this quilt ages ago -- about my Irish roots here, and how I used the 13-Square foundation from Miniatures in Minutes (the same one as the red and white quilt above) here.

And now that I've finished one red and white miniature, I'm pondering which one will come next.  Let's hear it for Spring Break!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

More Progress

It was just so much fun working on the red and white mini, I couldn't stop. I'm hoping I can finish it off this week. Right now, I'm hand quilting the border. For the pieced center, I machine stitched in the ditch.

Here's a few process shots just because.

The patches all added and starting Fold and Sew on the rows:

Once the paper is off, I like to press the seams open so they lay flatter:

At this stage, it is really easy to distort all that tiny piecing. I try my best not to do that, but I almost always need to do a little pressing to get the quilt back into square. I press freezer paper onto an ironing surface and draw a square that allows me to size the block exactly.

I aim to be really careful as I add borders. Still square. Yes!

Yup, that makes me happy.

And here I am:

Not the kind of stitching that's going to win any awards, but it's making me surprisingly happy to hand quilt again. Something I haven't done in ages.

Meanwhile, the sewing room continues to come together bit by bit. My shelf for the wee decorative things.

Oh, some of that goes way back. The little red top was given to me by a beau when I was in second grade. The vintage rick rack and thread bits go back to my grandmother's sewing basket, as does the pincushion on the top shelf. I made the red needle book for my mother back when I was in third or fourth grade, I think -- perhaps my first sewing project. There's a wee ancient Alice in Wonderland that was given to me by a dear friend in college. Add in sewing gifts from quilting friends and a couple Dalmatians in honor of the first dogs my husband and I shared our lives with.

It's what makes a room really special, isn't it? All those bits of history, all the love, and all the connections -- past and present. Every time I look at the bits and pieces on this shelf, I smile.

More practically, there's the cutting table. So clean, too!

It's hard to tell from the photos but the walls are a cream color, a very soft yellow. I'm loving it. In fact, I'm loving my sewing room so much at the moment, I just want to move in food stuffs and a sleeping bag and live there. Of course, I do have other demands on my time. My husband, for one. That's fine -- a nice quiet evening at home with wine and chocolate ahead. I'm not complaining.

Not to mention there are classes to teach, students to meet, and papers to grade. It's nice to know the sewing room is there all pretty and new when I've got the time though.

One last thing: Emmy asked how I hang my quilts on the wall. So, nothing fancy.

In the past, I sewed hanging sleeves onto the backs of my minis. Now I sew triangles (just a square folded on the diagonal) into the binding. There's a lot to like about this method: it's easy and there's no hand sewing. It also makes it really simple to switch between little quilts of different sizes.

I stab two push pins into the wall a little less than a couple inches apart. (I use a level to make sure they are even). Then a narrow little dowel slips into the triangles and balances on the pins. Easy peasy.

For my older little quilts with hanging sleeves I just cut out a rectangle from the center top of the sleeve -- that allows me to still use the dowel and pins. Not a particularly elegant solution, I grant, but hey, it works.

Oh, wait. One last last thing. The latest Westering Women block from Barbara Brackman.  All blues and browns for me with this sampler.


Friday, March 4, 2016

Bits and Pieces, This and That

Let's hear it for progress in the sewing room. There's a lot to do yet, but there are corners shaping up.

I've been having fun deciding what quilts to bring out for a change. Those three quilts above? I don't think I've ever had them out for display.  Now, that's just wrong.

Meanwhile, some things remain the same. Lulubelle is back in her corner.

I've taken squatter's rights to the spare room and a bunch of stuff that used to be crowded in this spot is now out for good. Even my own true love noticed. "Wow, that shelf is a whole lot neater." So, yeah, when even the DH can see the difference, I know it's dramatic.

I'm also working on finishing up some of those little quilts in process. Hand quilting!

I'm also playing with the idea of making a grouping of little red and white quilts. I thought I'd run through a bunch of the foundations from Miniatures in Minutes and see how it goes. I'm starting with the 13-Square foundation. In retrospect, this is the foundation I wished I had used in the book to illustrate the Fold and Sew technique.  It's the easiest of all the foundations. Works like a charm.

An additional plus? It's another foundation I can use the AccuQuilt GO! for as well. Since the patches for the 13-Square are just one inch squares, I use the 1" Strip die. I run a length through once to get 1" strips and then run the strips through cross-wise in order to get the squares. (The ruler just helps me insure I've got the strips at a 90 degree angle.)

Two passes through the GO! and I have two satisfying little piles.

This is how far I got on the foundation tonight before it was time for evening socializing and wine.

So between this, that, and the other thing, the sewing room is a regular beehive of activity. Color me thrilled.