Saturday, January 30, 2010

Smooth Joinings on Quilt Bindings

Heather Finnell of Burning the Midnight Oil Quilts has a great tutorial for binding quilts that includes instructions for how to finish the beginning/end of the bindings so that spot looks the same as the other joins in the binding.  You'll find it here:

I admit that because of the idiosyncrasies of the sewing machines I have in my home and because of the relatively thin batts I prefer, I usually subtract 1/4-inch from one end of the binding so that the binding is stretched ever so slightly over those joining inches.  However, I don't measure the quilts to be sure their sides vary by no more than one millimeter, and I'm not entering most of the quilts I make in competitions, so no one is going to get too picky with them; most of my quilts are prayer quilts that will be laundered countless times over the course of their existence.

Happy quilting.....Happy blogging.

My Daughter's Dream House & Winter

Mu daugher mentions almost every day that she wants to live in Illinois.
The other day she took a picture of her "dream house."
I asked how that might work, since this house is just east of Albuquerque.  She replied, "Oh, I think I'll just have to figure out a way to airlift it to Illinois."
Unlike my daughter, I miss all the wooden farmhouses from the early 20th century.  I seriously doubt that I would be  able to afford either an early 20th century home or a reproduction.  It's mind-boggling how with all the burst bubbles of the housing market, those homes still have astronomical price tags.

My daughter also snapped this picture of the west face of the Sandias.
Although that mountain might not look a whole lot different right now, the eastern slope of the Sandias and the eastern plains received a battering.  Areas of our little town have received as much as eight inches, according to one of the TV stations--so I suspect there are areas that have received even more.  We received plenty, but given the winds, it's impossible to measure.
This is turning out to be a long, cold winter, but the snow probably protects us from the below-zero temps we had a few years ago.  (Good thing, since we've had 50% increases in natural gas cost.)
Hmmmmmm, I think I should go look through some cookie recipes......or soup recipes.....

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sewing Machine & Chickie O, Cherry-Oh, Cheerio, Baby

 I offered to take a look at this for someone who lives near me.  It belonged to her aunt. She was hoping someone had an unused machine she could use. She said this one stopped working several years ago.  I changed the needle, took out the hand quilting thread, cleaned and oiled it, and rethreaded it with sewing thread. Adjusted the thread tension slightly.  It works great!
I know there are thousands of wonderful vintage sewing machines in closets, garages, nooks, and crannies which need no more than a little basic attention in order to be working well again.  Countless machines have ended up in landfills because they were "old" or "old fashioned" or needed the tiniest amount of attention.  It's heartbreaking.
I'll return this to its owner when our storm has moved on to another state.  I hope she gets another 50 years' use from it.

Here's Chickie O, Cherry-Oh, Cheerio, Baby:

It's for a young friend who loved spending time with my baby and who will soon have her own.
It's such a happy little quilt! Hope it makes her baby happy too!

And, lastly, here are some of the plump little birds who enjoyed cubes of bread from the whole wheat loaf I made last week:

I watched them from my treadle as I put the binding on the quilt.
I did spend a half hour on the treacherous roads yesterday morning, thinking I'd make it to work.  I decided it was better to take a personal day, and then spent a half hour returning home on a slightly different route, thinking that if I went skidding, I'd have a better chance of regaining traction on the two-lane than I would along I-40, much of which closed by the end of the day.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Quilting Group

Once a month our prayer quilt group gets together in person.  Sometimes we work on similar thing or even the same type of thing.  More often, we all work on something different.

Often I feel I've been terribly non-productive at our gathering, but I love the time for us to be together and enjoy the camaraderie every bit as much as quilting.

Below are some shots of the prayer quilt I was working on.  I've used most of these fabrics before, but they're not out of my system yet.

I love putting things together in unexpected ways, but I think I'd do it even more if I could learn how to make EQ6 Custom Layouts work in the way I really want.
This is what I finally chose, but haven't finished sewing yet.

Ah, so little time.  Soooooo many quilts I really, really want to make!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Birds and Breezes

The front of our house is an L-shape, and it contains what most people around here call a "trash tree", a Chinese elm, one of the few trees that seem to sprout naturally across New Mexico, frequently where little else will grow.  It was here when we moved in, and although I've pruned it, I've not replaced it--a "someday" project.  However, that little tree (which isn't so little any more), is often a haven for birds.
Because of where we live, we frequently experience high winds that have tumbled down from the Sandias or Manzanos that make even moderate temperatures seem frigid.
That L of our house makes for great collections of tumbleweeds when the winds are just right.
In fact I showed them in a blog post just about a year ago.
Frequently, the winds that follow storms, enable our "trash tree" to be a welcome haven for birds.

I think I should make a quilt in honor of these hardy creatures.  However, as much as I love the fact that our tree provides a shelter for them, and as much as I love Birds-in-Air blocks, I don't enjoy making half-square triangles.  Over the last 3+ decades, I've tried every method anyone has told me about.  I just don't like to make them! I love them when they're finished and are in quilt, however.
I do love looking up from my 66-treadle and seeing that these fluffy little creatures have found shelter from the winds at least for a while!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sunshine and Frost - Another Quilt

Here's Sunshine and Frost, another kaleidoscope quilts that was years in the making.  Sometime around 1997, when I was teaching and living on the Zuni Reservation, I made a blue and yellow quilt for a friend who frequently invited me to stay at her home when I had to be Albuquerque.  It was perfect for her bedroom, and I fell in love with blue and yellow.  However, I did not start buying these fabrics until 2000, although I had already begun dyeing a lot of my fabrics.

Here's a smaller section, just a little closer.

and closer:

Before I left for my retreat to the Appalachians last summer, I ordered thread for this quilt, but only part of it arrived before we left.  I did start some of the quilting in the mountains, but the rest was done over the course of several weeks whenever I could squeeze in some time to quilt for myself.
Here's one section of the back:

I pulled it out at the beginning of the month, thinking I still needed to finish quilting it.
But all that was left to do was trim and bind it.  The binding is now on, and I have another finish!
Now I think I should start another blue and yellow quilt; do you agree?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Something Old and New

A couple of decades ago I could not imagine that [with the exception of Nine-Patches] I'd ever use the same pattern or block twice.  About 15 years ago I figured out how to cut identical patches from several layers of fabrics.  That was about the same time Bethany Reynolds was developing her Stack'n'Whack method.--But we lived on opposite ends of the country and had never heard of each other.  She usually worked with eight layers of fabrics; I worked with six.
I've lost track of how many quilts I've made with this method.  I still have some I've made, and I've made several for gifts for others.  I've always used my own hand-dyed fabrics for the triangles between the kaleidoscopes, and have used several variations of sets.
In fact, I recently finished the binding on a blue and yellow kaleidoscope quilt that I had begun quilting in Tennessee last summer.  (That will be the subject of a later post.)
I remember that the Hoffman print in the photo above was purchased on a trip to Illinois in 2000.  I don't remember when I began cutting and piecing the patches.  They've been sitting in a plastic box for several years.  (Hey, at least they weren't a PIG [project in grocery sack]!)
Now I'm working on getting them sewn into strips and am thinking about how I'll set the strips together.  This will be a lap quilt--good for reading or watching TV. I need to get some of these quilt tops finished and quilted or they might be confused with aging wine or brandy!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Using Cone Threads on Domestic Sewing Machines

I do have a thread stand--it's often on a different sewing machine from the one I want to use for a particular task.  So today I'm going to share some hints and ways I use the cones.  I'm very grateful to other sewers and quilters who have shared little hints that have made it easier to use.

The first photo shows the cone stand behind my treadle, the thread coming up to the top of the stand, back down to the sewing machine and under the spool of thread, then on through the normal thread path.

When I was sewing fast, I used to have problems with the thread jumping off the top of the holder and then breaking.  A couple of other sewers shared their solutions to that problem, so I'll pass on what I have found works for me. Because the Fil-Tec Bobbin Line thread I was using here is so fine that it's barely visible, I used some yarn to show the path a bit better.

When I bring the thread up to the top of the cone holder, I twist it once so that as it moves the twist helps keep it on the ""hook of the holder. Then I bring it down to the spool holder on the machine, bring it to the front of the spool holder, and set a spool on top of it.  Because the Bobbin Line (and Superior's Bottom Line) thread are so fine, this spool of Mettler cotton works fine.

When I first began machine quilting, I often used Sulky Rayon thread.  I've always loved variegated thread, and they had one of the few that were widely available.  Because of the way the spool is wound, the thread needs to come off the end of the spool, so using the machine's spool pin caused some problems.  At that time I sat the thread in a skinny, empty olive jar on the back of my sewing table.  That worked well for those skinny spools of threads.  When I began using the large cones of thread, I preferred the cone stand.  However, when I was piecing and quilting, the cone stand seemed to always be in the machine I was using for piecing.  Below is a photo of what I now do with the machine where I quilt.

The cone of thread sits in a somewhat larger plastic jar on the back of my machine table, comes up through the top of the clothespin on top of the handle of my Ott lamp, forward to the spool pin, under a heavier spool, and continues along the normal thread path.  Here I just used an empty King Tut spool, but an older wooden spool of about the same size would have worked as well.
At the base of the spool pin to the right of the empty spool, you may be able to see a closed safety pin.  I used to use the hole created by the twist at the bottom of the safety pin as a loop for the thread (and that's why it's still there), but I think just running the thread beneath the heavier spool works even better.
Happy Quilting!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Another Judy Quilt--and an "ooooops!"

Here's another "Judy" quilt for our Victory Quilts prayer quilt ministry.The blocks are comprised of two 4-patches and two hatchets. Again, she used a variety of fabrics spanning over 20 years in manufacture date.
Here are closeups of some of the blocks so the quilting can be seen:

The previous two photos above show the two quilting designs I used in the blocks.  If you wish, you can right-click on each photo and open it in a new tab, which will give you a larger, more detailed view.
The second block is that "nut-cross-section" variation that my friend Bobbie and I copied from a 1903 Triple Irish Chain back in the 80's.  It's gone through a few variations as I've adapted it to make it more friendly for machine quilting.

Because the border was so busy and so narrow, I decided it was time for me to create something simple for narrow borders.
It's kind of a twisted cable, and as I stitched it, I envisioned a few variations for the future.  As it stands on Judy's quilt, it's extremely similar to narrow cables I hand quilted back in the days I had time and space to handquilt.

The oops is, in part, that I almost didn't realize that I hadn't published a blog post this morning.  It's been a crazy week.  Just the fact that we had a school holiday on Monday should have enabled me to predict that the week would seem long.  A couple of storms that led to school cancellations/late starts for my daughter (but not for me) added complications.  But the most serious and unexpected complication was that on Tuesday on the way home from work, when I stopped to make a purchase my daughter needed, I also stopped for a diet soft-drink.  At the time I did realize it tasted a bit different, but I just attributed that to the likelihood that the mix of soda water and flavoring was off a little.  By the next morning, I realized the "off-a-little" was really off a lot! That was the second ooops. In the middle of the night my joints swelled up to the extent that I could barely move the next day.  About 30 years ago, an extremely bright young internist realized that my body was depositing antigens in my joints.  A couple of years later I figured out that it happened only when I consumed products containing corn and its derivatives.  At that point, a trip to the grocery store became as much about sleuthing and avoiding those products as about buying food.  (The positive aspect of that is that I cook a lot "from scratch" since I know almost any product containing any form of corn will set off the reaction.)
In the intervening years even more products have substituted HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) for sugar, and corn-geneticists discovered they could genetically modify corn so that instead of needing pesticides to fight corn-borers, farmers could plant a genetically modified corn that would cause the intestines of the corn borers to explode, thereby decreasing the population of corn borers and increasing their corn yields.  They swear it has no effect on the intestines of humans. 
Unfortunately, what I've experienced over the last several days suggests otherwise.

Now I'm moving slowly and once again will be very, very careful about what I buy and consume !

Friday, January 22, 2010

Judy's Garden Shop

Here's Judy's Garden Path, minus binding, because I didn't get any from her:

Is this a darling quilt or what!  It's what I quilted on our MLK holiday.  It's another Victory Quilt by Judy, who is a master at mixing fabrics.  There are fabrics in this quilt that span well over 20 years, and she has brought them together to create a most pleasing whole.

She created one appliqued flower block:
Next are the threads I used to quilt:

The large cones in the back are Fil-Tec Glide, my favorite thread, because of the way it really does glide through the needle and the quilt.  The variegated threads are from Thread-Art, which always gives me such fast service that it takes my breath away!  Both types of thread are beautiful, lustrous size 40 polyester, originally designed for machine embroidery; however, I like the quilting to shine too.

Here are some photos of some of the sections of the quilt showing Judy's superb fabric choices and details of the quilting:
The quilting design in the section above is one my friend Bobbie and I found on an Oklahoma Triple Irish Chain made in 1903. I've always thought of it as an interpretation of a cross-section of an elongated walnut; and I've altered it even more to make it fit the space and work for machine quilting.
And here's one more look at a slightly larger section:

I tried a new quilting design in the border--knowing it wouldn't show up in the busy, busy print, but wanting to expand my repertoire.  I thought I'd take a picture of the back, but since that print was so busy, the stitches didn't show up there either.

Our spring will arrive.  We just need to hang on for a couple more months!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mary Jane's Farm

I picked this issue up at the supermarket a few days ago.
It's a fairly new magazine that's part of Mary Jane Butter's Farm enterprises.
If you love friendly quilt blogs, finding ways to live a simpler but more meaningful life, friendly, positive people and writing, you might want to look for this magazine.
This is the second issue I've found, and, as much as I love magazines, I was still surprised to realize that this was one in which I read almost every word and will undoubtedly reread it a few times!  Not often I find a magazine I enjoy that much or in which even the advertisements are new and interesting.
This one also contained a rather interesting article on treadle sewing machines. Fortunately, it used a machine I'm familiar with, so it didn't make me wish I could sew on that one too.  However, I'll admit that I'm really starting to long for a handcrank machine I could carry with me when I need to sew places other than home.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More of Blanche Potter Roberts' Tulip Quilt

But first, a photo of sleeping sweetness last week when she was home with that airborne virus.  When she saw the picture, she said, "Do you realize that when I was little, you took a picture of me sleeping under the same quilt?" I'd forgotten about that.  I think it also means I should try to do a little work on the quilts I've been dreaming of making for us ("dreaming" as in "aspiring").

And here are four pictures of Blanche Potter Roberts' Tulip quilt top now that it has triangles and borders.  I love the fact that the corners have varying types of triangles.--I also suspect that may have been the reason the top was never finished and quilted.  If so, that was the protective factor that has extended the life of the quilt and assured that it will be around to be enjoyed by at least a couple more generations of the Roberts Family.

I planned to get the backing pieced and and the quilt layered this weekend, but then I messed up one length of the backing and will have to fix it, so I folded it up to do later.

We were going to rejoice in the promise of at least a few hours of 50 degree F temperatures--but there are more winter storms headed our way!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More of Dolly's Baskets

Here's the quilt on the bed.  This set is intriguing but I'm not sure it can be easily seen by someone who doesn't know what it is.  I do hope that someday I can have a good place to take quilt pictures!

Next are some of the basket from the quilts done in each set of fabrics.

And here is as much of the center quartet of baskets as I could get:

A little more quilting detail:

And a couple of border closeups:

Now that I've had so much more experience quilting now, due in large part to all the Victory Quilts I've worked on, that I know that with the kinds of batting I use, I really don't need to do that incredibly heavy background quilting around the feathers.
The batting: In this quilt I used Warm 'n' Natural.  Nowadays I use Mountain Mist White Rose or Quilter's Dream
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...