Uh Oh, I Think I’m In Trouble Here

So, when I get frustrated or overwhelmed, I tend to stop creating and start cleaning and organizing. Yesterday was no different. I am a bit overwhelmed in the garage – to the point where I can now not get my car OUT of the garage. Sigh.

Also, my home office was rife with clutter, to the point where I couldn’t hardly get to any of the computers. Much less sit down and try to be productive.

So, out came the organizing bins and with that, the ‘attic closet’ that I store them in had to be organized so that I could get empty ones out and full ones back in. We started there. Pretty much pulled everything out of the ‘attic’ and made quick decisions on what could be kept and re-stored and what could be donated or thrown away.

With much of that done, I had the boxes I needed to work on the office. All the empty boxes that had been collected in my office were sorted by which ones needed to be kept (and organized in a container) the ones that no longer needed were broke down and readied for recycling. That was pretty easy. Carried the containers up to the ‘attic’.

Next came putting everything back into the attic storage (quick definition, the ‘attic storage’ is not actually the attic, but space behind the closet in the guest bedroom. It feels like an ‘attic’ because it is unfinished and cold, but the real attic is a floor up.)

We had a pretty large pile to be donated and that went into the truck for the next trip. The containers all went back in nicely organized by size. But then the brakes were hit!photo 4

Quite a few months ago, I organized the quilt tops that had been finished and awaiting quilting. I sent one large box off to my friend Gloria for quilting and set the other box back into the guest bedroom closet (closet, not the ‘attic storage’). I really had thought that there was only one box left. I really felt like I was making a dent in getting quilts quilted and then bound and completed.

In yesterday’s flurry of organization, more boxes were uncovered. First it was one. I sighed. Then another was uncovered (it began to feel more and more like an excavation). I called The Kid over. We removed more boxes and there was number three and four. Holy cow!

I also took one box and loaded into it all the denim quilts awaiting the discovery of someone who is willing to take them on. I think I broke Gloria’s machine with one of the last denim quilts she quilted. :-( For this I feel really bad.photo 2

So, I moved all of these boxes into my sewing room. I have to figure out something. And until I do, I cannot – CANNOT – start any more. This is nuts! I also have a large armoire in the guest bedroom which was my baby’s storage in his nursery. It stores TONS of quilts. It is now pretty full. And another dozen or so finished (at least they are finished!!) are sitting on top of the guest bed. I suppose this is where I am grateful that I don’t often have guests!!

I am planphoto 5ning on counting all the unfinished quilts which should allow me to do some math. I am beginning to believe that I could invest in my own long arm machine and would be cheaper in the long run than paying someone else to do it.

Oh, by the way, I did some searching on the internet to find someone to hand quilt my rescued quilt top and I found one woman who priced a queen sized quilt at $15,000. No, there isn’t too many zeroes or any typos. Good grief… if I thought I could get someone to pay me those kinds of numbers, I would totally do it! I can’t imagine! Can you?

I am hesitant to even mention the dozen or more quilts that are already in process… I’ve either cut for blocks or have the blocks and just need to assemble. I am so overwhelmed by all of this that I have decided to go watch a movie and do more cross stitch. Right?!?!

julie

Celebrating My 200th Post (And a Whole Cloth Quilt)

MacCupcake200thThis posting makes a grand total of 200! Who would have guessed that when I started chatting with people all over the world about the wonders of crafting and sewing that I would last this long.

I have been wanting to make some visual changes to the blog but first I wanted to celebrate this momentous occasion. Ha! (Okay, that’s done.)

While The Kid and I were cruising Texas, we stumbled across signs for an estate sale that had just started. Outside of Corpus Christi (if I recall correctly). If you know about me and The Kid, you know that we love just that sort of thing. Of course we went.

Was the cutest little house you could imagine. I mean tiny. If I had to guess, I would say the whole house couldn’t have had more than 500 square feet. And I doubt it was that big though. From all appearances and overheard conversations, it was an older woman, probably a widow, who lived in the home. Lots of wonderful knickknacks and very high quality furniture. In fact, everything I saw was the highest quality – from the dishes in the kitchen to the rugs in the living room and everything in between.

Squeezing into a closet between the bathroom and the bedroom, I came across three quilts folded on a shelf. One quilt was  quite new in a Sunbonnet Sue pattern. The other was a typical 2″ square patchwork that had obviously been used. It piqued my interest, but at the same time I spotted the third quilt. A soft yellow backing, I kept turning back corners trying to uncover the pattern. It took a while, but it finally dawned on me that it didn’t have a pattern, that it was a whole cloth quilt.

It was big and had a big price tag. But I knew that I had to have it. I did negotiate a little discount, but even if they hadn’t been open to me making an offer, I would have paid full price.

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It looks like it had been folded and sitting on that shelf for quite a while. I am going to have to figure out how to encourage those creases out.

The more I look at it, the more I am coming to believe that it has machine quilting – I had hope for a hand quilted cloth. But the machine stitch is whimsical and of high quality and I have been using it on my bed and boy oh boy, is it warm. It is very large, probably a king sized quilt and is the same cloth for front and back and the binding.

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Isn’t the color awesome? Reminds me of buttercream frosting.

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The motif is leaves and feathers, and repeats about every 20 – 25 inches. Beautiful, isn’t it? Just beautiful.

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I’d like to think that someday I will hand quilt a whole cloth quilt for myself. Its not as far fetched as I might like to think… I have so many quilt tops finished, then quilted and more that need to just be finished that I probably shouldn’t start anything new for a longggg time! LOL

julie

 

 

Useful Little Red Side Table

A while back, I had to replace the sofa in the main living room in my house. Having had an active dog and a pre-teen who then became a teen, the old red couch just got worn out. So off to the local big box furniture store to pick out a new one.

I really had my heart set on finding another red couch, as I still have the matching chair and a half with its matching ottoman. I knew it was going to tough to find one that will match the chair just with the color, let alone the style. And when I didn’t find a red one that I really liked the style, we opted to go with a complimentary color, a sort of golden brown with wood accents.

Well, its not been the best decision. For one thing, it hasn’t worn very well. The Kid doesn’t like it as it isn’t very deep, such that I makes it difficult to lay on the couch, like to take a nap. And for me, I miss the flat arms. The way that our living room is laid out, there isn’t room for end tables. And I don’t have an sofa table, but rather a big soft ottoman before it.

So, why is this important? Well, the flat arms on the old sofa used to be the place I would set my Diet Coke. But since we replaced it, I have tried a number of spots to rest my can.

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There is setting it on the footstool/ottoman. But this is a soft surface and someone putting their feet up can knock this can over…

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The edge of my computer was chosen just one time. Although it is more solid, it is still sitting on the soft unstable surface of the ottoman. I knocked this can over once – all over the keyboard – and I knew that wouldn’t be doing that twice. (BTW: Computer was fine once it dried out. Whew!)

photo 1

Here was habit kicking in… back to the arm of the sofa. But the arms are rounded and nothing sits here long. I cannot begin to count the number of times I’ve knocked the can off.

photo 5So, then I went to setting the can on the floor. This is nice and solid, but also out of sight and forgotten so I am oft kicking the can over. Or forgetting it there and grabbing another.

I needed a solution to this issue. And in comes The Kid. I gave him the challenge to design me something to be able to set my can of soda. I had seen an arm “sleeve” made of wood and suggested that. He went into work mode.

photo 3

And this is what he came up with. Of course, I painted it my favorite shade of red. Then its just a matter of taking it into the living room and installing it at the end of the sofa.

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It has been working well for about the past two weeks (I know, I know, what took so long to write about it?). I finally knocked over a can sitting on the table when I tossed the pillow over to the side (see the towel sopping up spilled Diet Coke?). Before installing the table, I had probably knocked over a can at least once every two to three days. Now it took two whole weeks before I managed to. I think that is definite improvement.

julie

Reclaiming and Restoring an Old Quilt Top

Our vacation was pure joy and absolute fun! But there is always the let down of returning home when it is all over.

But!… always so much going on and never enough time to get things done. But always enough time to get things started! LOL

A few months back, on one of our abandoned house hunting trips, I found an old quilt top. It was absolutely filthy but through the dirt, I could see the beauty and the talent and the resolve that someone had spent in hand stitching all those triangles.

2015-02-18 16.45.07There was no cheating in this quilt, this one done one triangle at a time, producing those pinwheels. Often, there wasn’t enough fabric to complete a full square. Some of the squares have faded and there are places where the fabric has split. Most of the squares are not really square, and have puckers, but I think that just adds to the charm of the quilt.

There is the remnants of a border on one side, which I am planning on removing, perhaps using some of it to replace faded triangles. I am going to use this as my hand work while watching television – in addition to my humungous cross-stitch that I am still working on. Always have to have something to work on, just can’t sit still and do nothing while watching movies.

Let me point out some of its quirks and charms. First, here is a block that needed a bit of help to fit into the triangle, and the maker didn’t match the pattern quite right:

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This block is demonstrate that our sewer was definitely short on matching material. In this block she uses 6 different fabrics:

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This block is another example. Although the sister pieces are the same, She uses four different fabrics here:photo 8

This one only has one nonmatching triangle and she did a good job with color value:photo 7

This block is an example of the fading that is evident in this quilt. I don’t know if it is sun damage or it was just time and washing… either way, it does change the color value:photo 6

Just one more example of how our quilter ‘made do’ with the materials she had. Although the color value is essentially good, there is a definite change in color:photo 5

Here is but one of many examples of the damage to the quilt. Like I said above, this entire quilt was sewn by hand, mostly with the neatest little stitches. Because I have no history of the quilt top, I don’t know if it had been used for warmth while unfinished or if he had been damaged more by animals or insects or just the ravages of time.photo 2

This was a worse example, this isn’t simply where seams were pulled apart but actually damage. Not sure how to proceed with repair of this block. It also has unmatched colors and fabrics, and there is fading damage. These are the sort of block I almost think should be replaced.photo 1But that brings me to the essential question, should blocks torn or faded be replaced? What about simply mismatched fabrics? Should they be left alone or also replaced? To what extent should fabrics be replaced if they are faded or damaged? How should damaged fabrics be repaired? I am planning to do most of the repair by hand, just to keep the look and feel the same.

And another question about repairing the quilt, with the hand sewing, the quilt doesn’t really lay flat. After washing it, I attempted to iron it as flat as possible and there is just so many puckers, I know this would be difficult to quilt. I am tempted to simply tie it, but I really want to do as much as I can to be able to make it wear well. But I don’t want to change the essentially of the quilt, instead opting for as much of its originality as I can.

So, fellow quilters, help me out. Give me suggestions or hints or ideas. How should I approach this delicate challenge. I will be sure to share my progress as I go.

julie

 

 

That’s Right, I am On Vacation!

4fd166203866b91161bc5ed53d4747beThat’s right! I am spending some quality time with my son, AKA ‘The Kid”.

Be back soon!

julie

Final Quilt Wrap Up (For Now)!

So, even though The Kid and I are not home, but out on the open road, I uploaded photos of all the quilts that I spent the previous last ten days completing.

Here is a quick rundown of them. The first one is a very fun piecing project. Gave me a chance to dig deep into my green fabrics. The great thing about green is that there is such a variety of choices: light, dark, deep, yellow-green, blue-green, kelly green and of course, all of the patterns and designs.

 

 

DSCN3104This one has an awesome backing fabric, totally the opposite of the front. Sort of. Its a kind of camouflage in shades of green.

DSCN3103To be able to just sit and sew strips is so therapeutic and allows me to watch old classic movies and really be able to zone out. Might not be for everyone, but for me, this is pure relaxation.

DSCN3102Up next is this strippy quilt. These were the left over pieces from another quilt (still yet to be quilted) that I wanted to use up. Simple and easy around a large red center.

DSCN3100A leftover star block ended up in the middle of the back which really shows off the quilting.

DSCN3101Another “mini” quilt made up of the leftover blocks of a larger quilt (and also another one waiting to be quilted). This turned out so well, I am so anxious to see the full sized quilt.

DSCN3097This one also had an orphan block end up on the back. And as before, the red solid backing really shows off the quilting.

DSCN3098And one more courtesy shot. I took these photos the day after our “blizzard” in Kansas City. It was forecasted to receive 2 to 3 FEET of snow and I think we had a grand total of two to three inches. And by the next day, most of it was gone.

DSCN3096And drum roll please:   tatatatatata dum! The last quilt in this series.

DSCN3095This was done mostly with a pre-printed fabric and some piecing in the middle. A wonderful little patriotic quilt.

DSCN3094I was gifted this fabric and I really didn’t know how I would use it. I really felt like I couldn’t cut the flags – so I wanted to use them whole and I figured what better way than as the border.

DSCN3093It might be hard to see, but the center quilting is sorta a flag motif. The blue and white represents the stars of the flag and then the results of the red and white stripes. Okay, I know it is a bit of a stretch, but hey, it is the thought that counts right?

Okay, since we are on our adventure and far from my sewing machines, I will probably not post for the rest of this week. But I will be back at it sooner than I will realize.

Thanks for taking this ride with me!

julie

The Big Finish… Part Uh, Four? Five? Oh, Whatever!

So, want to show off a few more quilts that I was able to finish this week. See, you don’t get anything for ten days and then you get bombarded! Sigh.

First up is a quilt I had done with something new. It was an iron-on fusible material laid out in a grid pattern. I believe it came in 1″, 1 1/2″ and 3″ grids. I purchased the 1 1/2″ grid as I thought any smaller and it would have become a bit bulky and the 3″ didn’t seem like enough challenge.

DSCN3115This required 2″ squares that sewed down into 1 1/2″. Its quite a nice cheat, you lay the pieces on the fusible and iron. Then you simply fold on each line, top to bottom and sew your seam. When all the horizontal lines are sewed, you simply press the vertical lines and sew them.

DSCN3114The only “trick” that I can share with this process is that you need to keep the seam straight and uniform or you get funky folds.DSCN3113When done, I added a border. The border didn’t seem as, oh, you know, substantial, so I simply ironed more of the same gridded stablizer. It is supposed to wash out in two to three washings, so I figure it will soften uniformly across the quilt.

DSCN3112The backing is a nice solid that when brought to the front for the binding, has a small contrast. This quilt is going to be one of those soft, broken-in lap quilt that will do nicely on the sofa.

`6 blockThis next quilt is for a friend of mine who along with his wife, welcomed a second baby into their life. I started it and completed it before sending it off to be machine quilted.DSCN3110This is what happens sometimes. When I sent them off to be quilted, I also sent about 12 or 15 more along with it. I let Gloria do them as she wanted, choosing the thread color and sewing motif or theme. Every once in a while on special quilts I’ll define this, but we sort of fell into our relationship because she wanted to try new stitch patterns and I just wanted my quilts done.

DSCN3109So, long story short, this quilt was for the new arrival of baby Maxine but now that it is done, I think the baby is about three years or so!DSCN3108The color isn’t really true for this quilt, these are very strong shades of violet or even purple. It looks more like shades of blue. But I still love the way it turned out. What I like to call 16 block inside and out!DSCN3107I can’t say that I love all my quilts. Some are downright ugly! But mostly I am pleased with the results and little things that I try and am pleased when it works out.DSCN3106Here is a standard nine patch, this time in pinks. I tend to do a lot of pink quilts for some reason, maybe because I never had a daughter of my own to be the recipient. I find that no matter the pattern or shade of pink, they all blend together beautifully.

DSCN3105So, that’s my son helping (and hiding) behind the quilts. There are a few more to be revealed in one more post.

Sometime tomorrow morning, The Kid and I are heading south, ultimately to visit The Alamo in San Antonio. We plan to just take our time and see the sights and do dumb stuff. I love that he is still willing to do things like this with his ol’ Mom.

But, that means there won’t be as many posts on this blog… maybe I will have to play a game and find fabrics that reflect the trip (where I can) along the way.

julie

Binding: How Do You Do It?

I think I’ve talked about this before, but for those new, this is an old habit (?) of mine. Every now and then I get stuck and don’t seem to have any forward momentum. When this happens I do one of two things… either I clean and organize or I jump head long into finishing up long overdue projects.

Well, over the past week and a half, I have been doing some serious finishing. I vowed to not start anything new (even though I went out and bought some new triangle templates and even some fabric. Let me just tell you that I have not bought new fabric in forEVER – at least a full year. But you also know that I have a small store of my own upstairs in my quilting room. Ha.

The guest bedroom’s bed was covered with quilts that had been quilted but needed binding. And my design wall has been covered in at least two layers of orphan and test blocks.

So, almost without a break, I have been binding and finishing quilts. And finished two orphan quilt tops.

But first…. we have to talk a little about binding. I recently posted the question about binding on a DIY site called HomeTalk about preferred methods of binding (you can see it here). As a self-taught quilt maker, I never knew exactly how to approach binding. My earliest quilts were bound by using the pre-made, pre-cut, pre-packaged binding pieces. That got costly quickly.

When I started quilting, the internet was still very much in its infancy and I guarantee that no one was talking about quilts on what was out there. It was either books or other quilt makers and I didn’t really know any quilters. So, I tried some things. First, I thought if I could fold each layer in on itself and make a seam, that would work. And it did, but seemed like a lot of work. So then I went with making the back larger and folding it over to the front. That worked much better. Sometimes I thought that I had ‘invented’ it.

Recently I posted the question about the preferred or better way to bind quilts. A serious debate ensued. I left the post with my opinion that everyone is entitled to bind their quilts in whatever way suits them.

I had come to this crossroad in a kind of funny way. See, Gloria – my long time long-arm quilter – parted ways with her equipment – and she retired. Actually, I think one of my denim quilts broke her machine and she saw it as a sign to quit! But she had a friend of hers finish what I had sent.

In the process, I think it wasn’t communicated to the newest quilter that I did the fold-over binding. You see, the quilt top needs to be centered onto the backing material or there isn’t enough material to fold over. So one of the quilts didn’t have the requisite material and I thought I would give (separate) binding method a shot. Someone in the online discussion had posted a good tutorial about how to do such binding, so I jumped in and completed this quilt in just that way.

Let’s just say that I am still not a fan. I purchased pre-fold binding and attached it to the back and then hand stitched the front. It was supposed to be invisible stitches, unfortunately my skill was somewhat lacking and invisible the stitches are not.  And it seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to do the hand work and this was a small baby quilt. I couldn’t imagine working on some of the very large quilts I do… I think I could have been there for days!

Here is the baby quilt with the separate binding:DSCN3090

The backing is a solid pink and the binding is white, which I think gives it a nice contrast while still coordinating.

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And one more courtesy shot:

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Notice the last vestiges of our “blizzard” two days previous. I think we ended up getting like 3″ when they were predicting 2 – 3 feet of snow. Temps today reached into the low 50’s. And who said Mother Nature doesn’t have hot flashes!

Over the next week or so, The Kid and I will be doing some sightseeing. We are headed south (from Kansas City) and the ultimate destination is The Alamo in San Antonio Texas. I have uploaded all of my photos of the finished quilts and will post one every day while we’re traveling. I know I have been absent as of late, but I was just not feeling up to sitting behind a keyboard after being at the sewing machine most of the day. You understand, I know.

julie

A Crystal Cut Glass Covered Cake Plate (say that three times!)

The weather here in the midwest has been phenomenal! And when it gets this way, it is so hard to stay indoors, so The Kid and I have been spending more time away from home and outdoors.

One thing that I did manage to complete was ‘the accidental cake plate’. I absolutely love the crystal cut glass in whatever form, but mostly I like the covered plates or bowls. On occasion, I have an epiphany with pieces and I can bring them all together to make another item that was never expected.

2015-01-27 14.27.21This is one of those pieces. While attempting to put pieces away, it just came to me. A little E-6000 and those four pieces became this great and elegant cake dish.

2015-01-26 18.44.03So, what I have is a plate, a large bowl (pictured upside down), a candlestick and the glass cap of a coffee peculator.

2015-01-26 18.45.11The percolator is glued to the bottom of the bowl and the candlestick is glued to the bottom of the plate.2015-01-27 14.27.42Viola`, a covered cake plate.

2015-01-27 14.27.53If I hadn’t told you just now what all these pieces were, you probably wouldn’t have guessed what they were. :-)  I’m probably going to hang on to this until a girlfriend’s birthday and give it to her along with a small cake.

I’ve also been able to get a few more quilts bound. Here is one that I finished yesterday and managed to get The Kid to help me get a photo.Strippy Sash QuiltThis is built sort of backwards, as the sashing was the part pieced, while the blocks were just plain black. I think it is stunning! I have always been a big lover of piecing and I use just about every piece of fabric that is left over, down to doing tiny doll-sized scrappy quilts. Another quilt I am just finishing up is a postage stamp quilt, the original blocks were an inch and a half, so the finished block size is 1″. Wait ’till you see it!

I’ve also been working on the cross stitch, there is a very large area towards the bottom that is deep green and although I have been working on that area all week, it still seems like I am not getting ahead. I’ll provide an update soon!

julie

 

And the Work Goes On

I can’t seem to stay on any one project for very long these days. Maybe it’s clichéd to say, but I think winter has dragged on for far too long. Or maybe I’ve been house bound too many days.

I continue to work on the cross stitch, seems to me that I’ve made progress, but when I stop to take photos and report, it seems so insignificant to the whole.

2015-01-21 15.59.53Been working on the top. Greens, lots and lots of greens. I know it doesn’t look like much, but this hours worth of stitching. I am determined to complete this, though. I don’t think I will start another for a while.2015-01-21 15.59.46Took a little time and completed the binding on three more quilts. I am amazed at what I found in the last box of quilts to arrive quilted… it is almost like opening a box of quilts completed by someone else. I swear, some of these I don’t hardly remember making!

On the other hand, today’s quilts, I do recall. In fact, one was supposed to be a graduation present for my The Kid. He graduated almost two years ago! LOL

2015-01-21 15.55.30That is the Staley High School Falcons and he is Class of ’13. Yep and yesterday I finally got the binding done. I actually had to get the school’s permission to use the likeness (well at least to get Kinko’s to make the printed version so I could get the outline large enough). Maybe I will just donate it to the school and then can raffle it or maybe hang it in the school or something. That’s the downside of making so many quilts.

2015-01-21 15.56.28This quilt – and the next one – are a couple of my all time favorites. Orphan Quilts. Those leftover blocks from other quilts that you just don’t know what to do with. I mean, you can’t throw them away, and just how many can you make into hot pads and and cup coasters!?

So, I tuck them away neatly in this trunk I made over and that sits in the hallway. And when I can no longer add anymore or I can’t find inspiration, I pull these out, sort them and make orphan quilts.

As you can tell, I do make a lot of pink quilts. I suppose that is because I never had a real excuse to make one (a daughter of my own). But I do love the pink and make them in abundance for other folks’ kids or grandkids.

2015-01-21 15.54.27Here’s a an honest-to-goodness Orphan Quilt. It is really kind of fun to figure out how to get these blocks together to get a good size with no gaps.  Much like fitting a puzzle together. I like this one as well, once the binding was done, it was really fluffy, and I can tell that this will be a warm comfortable quilt to sleep under.

I was asked today to curate a clipboard on one of the popular websites. I am going to have to research it a little to figure out how much time and energy it is going to require. Maybe I might have to go out and buy some!

julie

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