Small projects go quickly

Or so I thought when my group, Queen Bees, started this in January. Before we even knew what was happening in 2020, a couple of us came up with an idea to make fidget quilts for a local nursing home patients. Well….timing is everything they say.

Back in January we made a lot of blocks!

Fidget blocks
I think there were about 120 blocks made.

We used 5″ squares and a 4.5″ square of fusible fleece on the back. That gave some support to the various pieces that were being stitched on. It was so fun to see what people put together.

We had planned to do some “assembly” at our March bee, but 2020 took a left turn and everything got cancelled. Our bee has been meeting again, monthly since July, in a large gazebo at a town park where we can space out. Not doing any sewing at these gatherings, but we are doing a bit of show & tell and being “socially distant”. (Thanks Carole Carter, I like that turn of phrase so much better) Anyway…last month I hauled the bag of squares to the bee and we put them out on a picnic table and those that wanted to took a stack. I brought home the rest, and decided to work on them this week. I made two fidget quilts, each with 25 squares. It finished around 22″ square and will fit in a lap or table . I added a couple of ties to secure to a wheelchair if need be.

fidget quilt
Finished fidget quilt
making fidget quilts
fidget quilt with ties anchor

When we made the blocks the idea was to use texture, and add things that the fingers can stay busy with while it sits in the lap. There are bits of elastics, various pieces of lace, ribbons with beads, buckles on ribbon, bits of zipper ends and even a working zipper along with empty thread spools, fleece, corduroy, felt, satin,and tape measures. We anchored all the bits down on the blocks and by having fusible fleece underneath, they should be secure. Some attachment points are in the seam, and the items were stitched down as the blocks were assembled, and then once together, I top stitched using a wavy stitch over the seams to give a little more texture.

finished fidget quilt
finished fidget top with some quilting.

I used a zigzag stitch on some of the plain blocks to make certain there was some texture in the block.

I put these two together one evening after dinner, using a piece of flannel on the back. I enjoyed making these, and it was fun to put the various blocks together that the bee members had created so many months ago. I still have a bag full of “pieces and parts” and may have to arrange “another 25” for a bit more fun.

What are you doing to keep your fidgety fingers busy??

347,514 stitches

Do you gasp at that number? I did!! My wonderful sister-in-law, Carolyn, (AKA https://OneBlockWonderWoman.wordpress.com//) did the custom long arm quilting on my Allietare quilt.  She messaged me after the quilting was complete and told me how many stitches went into the quilting, 347,514.  That is overwhelming really. The quilt is 111″ wide by 99″ long.   I wanted the extra width for the sides of the bed. Those thick mattresses add to that width. 

I’ve posted about this quilt project in the past, but I would like to report now that the quilt is finished, ready for show & tell and for the bedroom!  To catch up, here is what has been going on this summer.

I mailed the quilt top and the backing fabric to her in July and I got it back last week.  I ordered  Quilters Dream Natural Cotton Select Mid Loft batting from the Fat Quarter Shop, and that took a while to arrive.  I usually use Warm & Natural, but I do like the feel of this mid-loft batting.  Quilters Dream is the batting that Carolyn prefers. She knows what her machine likes best!

Carolyn did an amazing job on the quilting and you can see some little peaks of it here and there in the photos that accompany this post. 

While I was waiting for the quilt to come back to me from California, I made the binding and some pillow cases from left over fabric.

Ready to use

4 queens and 2 standard

I had enough fabric to make 4 queen size and 2 standard pillow cases.  

Want a peek at the quilting?

Back of the quilt

The texture of the quilting really shows on the gold on the back of the quilt.

Carolyn did a beautiful job quilting, free motion on her long arm, Greta the Gammill.  Each area of the quilt was custom quilted freehand.  I think she did an amazing job.  

a peak at the back

Custom quilting freehand

I spent one afternoon trimming the quilt.  Then I made a hanging sleeve from the leftover backing fabric.  I attached the hanging sleeve at the same time as I put the binding on the quilt.

Ripping the stitching

For some reason, I put the hanging sleeve too low, and it didn’t get caught in the first round of binding stitches, so I did a second run…..and those stitches were too wide, so out came my trusty seam ripper.   Took the binding off, moved the sleeve all the way up and reattached it to the back of the quilt. I got in too big of a hurry I think.  I needed to take a break and try again.

Stitching the binding on the back

The burgundy is “flange/piping” part of the binding, and gets stitched to the back of the quilt first.  

Over 400 inches of binding going on.  I love those handy little clips.  I had enough clips to go 3/4 of the way around a king size quilt, which is fantastic.  That meant I didn’t have to stop stitching very often, and drag it all back to my big table very often.   

attaching the binding

This binding is what I call “Susie’s Magic Binding” and is my GO – TO style of binding.  I love the pop of color you get when you have that little flange showing. I also love that you can stitch it down entirely by machine.  Check out the tutorial at the link above.  I use my walking foot when attaching the binding and on this machine, I have an extra help with a special “ditch” foot for the walking foot, that keeps my stitching “in the ditch” of the burgundy fabric.

Manhandling a big quilt to put the binding on is no easy job. The “shipping weight” was 10 pounds, and I can attest to that fact that it is heavy! I had to set up my ironing board next to me to help hold the weight of the quilt.  I also had a table behind my machine table to support the weight.  I am so glad my machine is set in the table and I didn’t have to ‘lift’ the quilt. 

manhandling a large quilt

Stitching the binding

I did the “final” hand stitching yesterday, making certain the label was stitched down and that the sides and bottom of the hanging sleeve were attached.  I put some fusible behind the label to make it extra tough for someone to “remove it”.  Two edges are encased in the binding too.  

Ready to see it?  Here is the back — where you can really see the texture. (Note – those pillowcases were made using some of these backing fabrics)

Can you “see” my hanging sleeve at the top??  It matches the backing and pretty much disappears.  

back of the quilt

And this is what I told Carolyn was the “beauty shot”…..

king size allietare

Five years in the making and finally finished!!!  This is a Bonnie Hunter /Quiltville mystery quilt pattern and was presented in 2015.  The pattern is currently available at Bonnie’s store as a digital pattern – https://quiltville.com/shop.html#!/Allietare-Digital-Pattern/p/59334161/category=13038426

Want more details on my version?  Just use the search function for “ALLIETARE”  on my blog, and you will find all the previous posts. Be sure and check out this post and see why I chose the colors I did.  You will see a hint if you take a closer look at the label on the back of the quilt too. https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/progress-on-a-ufo-allietare-mystery-quilt-circa-2015-16/ 

What’s going on in your stitching life?  Any random acts of  quilting? 

A HOT time making masks

A Hot Time making masks – Having a heatwave in Delaware this past week, where outside temps are in the nineties every day. The humidity has been over 80% most days as well. I have a freestanding Haier air conditioner in my sewing room and it isn’t keeping up with the heat. Temps have been over 80 in my studio space all week. We live in a 117 year old house without central air and this morning, my kitchen a/c said it was 80 when I got up. Trying to sleep last night in the bedroom at 80 degrees was miserable. Our pool was 95 last night and I am ever so grateful for the brief downpour we had this morning, to add cool water to the pool, bring up the water level and cool off the surfaces, decking, roof and more. The morning temp dropped from 81 to 77 so that was quite nice. So, time spent in my sewing room studio above the garage is “weather dependent” right now.

I was creating a few masks for my granddaughters last weekend and posted some photos on Facebook. The 3 below are size small, and took me about 3 hours from start to finish. This is my absolute favorite style of mask to make, and although very time intensive is the best style for fit I have made.

small masks for little people

The ones in the photo below I made on “speculation” a few would be purchased. I spent Sunday and Monday making 10 masks in my sewing room where the temperature was nearing 85 degrees.

Medium masks
amazing cats
Laurel Burch fabric
mint with teal green purple

Medium turquoise

My grand kids don’t know yet if they are going back to school “physically” in the fall, but if they do, they will need to be wearing masks all the time for the foreseeable future. One of the granddaughters liked some of the “speculation” masks I made and I made the elastic adjustment to fit her face properly.

Since I was having the kids for a pool time one day this week, they all came up to the sewing room (85 degrees in the late afternoon) and picked out 5 fabrics each from the “quilters resource center” (aka – stash). The are elementary and middle school age and the fabric choices were so interesting.

Masks for a middle school boy
Middle school boy…(middle fabric is more maroon than pink)

The fabric on the far right is official Boy Scout fabric with words.

Masks choices
Artsy middle school girl picked fabric with a vine theme
Second grader masks
Elementary school child choices

The nearly 8 year old elementary child came over yesterday morning and she learned to iron. She loves the OLISO iron with the pop up feet. Close supervision kept her from burning any fingers. She mastered spritzing the fabric with the spray bottle and loved watching the steam roll up off the fabric when she press it. She also learned about proper rotary cutting. Once the pieces were cut for 4 masks, she pressed the pleats using the pleating guide and enjoyed working with all my little binding clips to keep them in place. She also did the stitching on the ear channel (where the elastic goes) on my Janome 8900. She could sit on my stool, and I could sit behind her. It was easier for her to sew with the stop/start button. I made sure the plastic guide was set up, and she learned to chain piece. She really likes my little snips.

I was able to rotate this design on the screen in my machine. The pattern was purchased from Creative Appliques

The pleating template is part of the pattern, and there are multiple sizes in the pattern, so chose carefully based on your own machine hoop limitations. There is a 4×4 hoop option at Creative Appliques, along with other mask styles.

Using my Janome 11000 and the MA hoop(8×12 adjustable), I could get 4 of the small masks in one hooping. I like to conserve stabilizer by maximizing the number in the hoop. Mediums can be stitched 3 in a hoop with careful adjustments to mask placement on the screen and in the machine. I’ve mentioned “windowing stabilizer” on other blog posts. Link to that post – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2020/04/22/windowing-stabilizer-the-twist-and-more/

I also have a video on removing items from the hoop for windowing – https://www.flickr.com/photos/92296158@N02/49789624736/in/album-72157712813350817/

Mediums in the hoop
3 mediums in my MA hoop

When I make this particular style mask, my husband creates nose wires for me from copper electric wire he has. He strips the plastic coating off the wire, pulls out the copper wire and strips it bare, cuts it to my desired length and curls the ends.

Cutting and prepping the fabric for these masks is much more time consuming than the donation masks I made back in March, April and May. They take longer because each mask has 5 pieces of fabric, and every piece is a different size. Each piece is prepared a differently before they are stitched, pleating folding, pressing etc.

Beyond the directions provided by Creative Applique, I add machine stitching on the ear channels so nothing “ravels” in the wash, and I add extra stitches to hold the nose wire “in place”. I also have been cutting into my $14/yard fabric for these masks. So, they are time consuming and rather expensive to make when you consider all the stabilizer, thread, and extra stitching I do. These masks have such a nicer fit than a typical 6×9 rectangular mask. There are 5 different pieces that go into the one mask, all cut to various sizes.

prepped and ready
Taped and stitching

When I am working on these masks, you can’t take your eyes off the machine for a minute, and there is a lot of taping things in place so the foot of the machine doesn’t get caught.

My daughter and I think it is important for the children to be “invested” in the process of making masks. Their labor and efforts will be remembered, and help them to have a better understanding of what actually goes into what “grandma” made. The “big” kids will get their turn, individually, to come over and spend some time making their masks.

I stopped making masks in May because I was burnt out and depressed. I am ONLY making masks for my family now. When asked by friends, I will sell them masks, because it is a lot of work. The idea of “selling to friends or strangers” can be a contentious subject. Believe me, I am not profiteering on COVID-19. If you are new here, understand that I have made and donated nearly 200, and many went to friends when you couldn’t BUY a mask anywhere back in early April. I stopped making donation masks in May because I was burnt out! I have invested a lot of money since the outbreak of COVID-19 in supplies, and charging people now is a way to recover the costs and enable me to continue to move forward and to supply masks to charitable groups. There are still groups asking for mask donations.

I set my price for these masks based on the time it takes me to make a high quality product and to offset the costs of fabric, elastic, stabilizer. You can buy a cheaper mask online and if money is your issue, then buy a box of disposable masks. You will get something made in a factory and it will go in the landfill.

masculine fabric for masks
Medium size masked prepped for stitching

Fun with kids and a final finish

Had some fun this week with a grandchild. My very youngest granddaughter  (age 4)  and her mom invited me for a bike ride around our favorite trail. The weather was perfect for getting out and getting some fresh air.  The state parks require you to still bring a mask and wear it whenever you are near other park users.  It gets a little tricky to pull the mask up over your mouth and nose when riding, but we managed. Sadly, not another person we saw had masks, around their neck, on their face at all. The park has big signs when you enter, but virtually ignored. We try to do the right thing, and that’s the best we can do.  My daughter and I feel like we don’t want to hear about people complaining about those “bike riders”, so we follow the rules.  Anyway, we had a great mid day ride, and then treated ourselves to a “take out lunch”.

a little exercise

Our take out lunch was from a little restaurant downtown (Cafe on the Circle, Georgetown DE). I phoned ahead and ordered the special for the day. It was a wonderful grilled chicken with avocado, bacon and ranch on a soft kaiser roll. My daughter chose potato salad and I chose coleslaw. The sides were both delicious. The Cafe on the Circle has lovely outdoor seating behind the restaurant.  Highly recommend if you are looking for a take out lunch. I’m planning to pick up lunch again later this week. (We have only done take out twice since March, and I am SO ready to not be cooking every day!) 

After lunch, my granddaughter and I went up to my sewing room to see about repairs to a much loved “unicorn backpack”.  It seems that the poor unicorn had lost a leg, in what her mother referred to as a “shark attack”. (Kid shark, baby shark, doggie shark???) The bag also had a critical “loop” come undone that helped hold the straps in place.  My granddaughter helped me with the sewing while her mommy took pictures. 

Sewing with a 4 year old

  It only took me two tries to get it right….Goofy Moofie!  I forgot the first time thru to loop the plastic bit over the strap, so we did a little unsewing and re-sewing. She loved the pink thread I used to close up the lining.  I did do a little reinforcement stitching on the other straps attachments. (Makes you wonder why they weren’t tacked down better!)

Then, we had to figure out what to do for the poor unicorn who had lost it’s leg in that “shark attack”.  Did we want to make a new leg, remove the remaining leg, or perhaps we could learn about differently abled bodied unicorns…..Mommy and child discussed and we repaired where the leg had come off, and she has a great tale to tell of her one legged unicorn!

A little hand sewing

We learned how to use a needle threader and she and I stitched together, sewing up the wounded parts, just like a doctor would. Four years old and wanting to sew. Those little fingers did a great job holding on to the needle and thread. She got the concept pretty quickly of pushing the needle through. 

All and all a great kind of Stitching Grandma day!  (Don’t judge the messy sewing room….)

Finished the binding on Mama’s Garden and hand stitched the label and hanging sleeve too! I did the “binding with the flange” also known as Susie’s Magic Binding.  

Binding on Mama's Garden

Just love the way that little pop of color looks.  

mama's garden completed

Mama’s Garden is officially complete!

  Just in time to take to the Material Girls Quilt bee on Wednesday morning!  We are having an “outside” / “in the garage in case of rain” quilt bee with appropriate social distancing and wearing our wonderful hand made masks!  It will be fun to have “something finished” to show !  It will be nice to catch up in person with conversations, and see how others are coping. 

It is fun teaching a young person to do something you love!  Last week I babysat and taught two grandchildren how to play backgammon. (They both beat me!).  A year and a half ago I taught my husband to play while we were on a cruise.  I love the game, and it is very fun to play.  Next time I play with the grandkids, I am not going to give them all my “favorite moves”….but while they were learning the ins and outs, they learned all my secrets!

We are keeping our family circles pretty tight for a while, when things are starting to “open back up”.  None of us want to be the guinea pig for the COVID-19 virus, so we are taking steps to ease back into community life very carefully, and not put the rest of the family at unnecessary risk. This way, we can spend time together, which we desperately missed in the months of March, April and May.  We are “bouncing contact situations” off of each other to make certain none of us do anything the others are not comfortable with. It is MUCH more fun to see them in person than over a video chat!  Social distancing from friends is not fun, but as long as we can see “each other” in the family, it is tolerable.  We will “avoid” restaurants and hair salons, and such for just a little longer to see how the area responds to things opening up. My enjoyment of food is getting kicked up a notch with the take out lunch following the bike ride, and family dinner with pizza made by someone else, and NOT out of the freezer!!!  

 How are you doing with the “distancing”??  Have you had any fun with a project lately?  Taught a youngster a thing or two??  

Mama’s Garden nearly finished

Last week, we left off with the applique pieces all fused on, and ready to stitch. https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/2015-was-a-good-year/

stitching around

Fun with blanket stitching

thread fun

Playing with variegated threads

applique stitched down

Top stitching completed

Once all the applique was stitched down, I had to start thinking about borders. I re-read all the instructions, and I looked at lots of “other quilters projects” that had been made, including Pat Sloan’s. I decided to dig out my container of Pat Sloan “Bobbins and Bits” fabric by Moda and lay it all out around this project. In doing so, I shared photos on Facebook and got input from some friends.

more choices

Each of the potential border fabrics was in the background

Fun fabrics

Decision time

fabric to chose from

Tough decision for a 4-5″ border

The favorite by far was the red background sunflower. However, I listened to the advice of three people, one non-quilter and two quilters, and decided to follow their suggestions.

I went with a fabric that was NOT in the project, and did so to give a frame to the busy piece. The recommendation to NOT use a piece already in the project was strong and the logic was it would draw your eye directly to it’s matching bit instead of framing the project. I think the advice was exactly what I needed, so I changed direction entirely. My non-quilting daughter suggested finding a color that was in the project but not overwhelmingly so. That was also great advice. My other quilting buddy said pick a fabric that will give your eye a “resting spot”.

Borders are on

Border is on – ready to quilt

The green was a good choice, and I was quite happy to fold up the remaining fabric for another project.

I had fun with the quilting and thread choices on my domestic sewing machine. I did mostly “walking foot” but some free motion.

Quilting on my domestic machine

Fun with flowers

 
fun with the quilting

Hanging sleeve ready

The back of the project – hanging sleeve

I used the same fabric on the back of the project as I did for the borders and had “just enough”. It is a neat fabric and I love the way the quilting shows on the back. I made color choices for the front with the thread, but stuck with Superior bottom line silver in the bobbin.

When I put the binding on, I will stitch down the hanging sleeve by machine along the top edge, and hand stitch the bottom and sides of the sleeve. I even have the label finished. I did it on my embroidery machine, and still have some “alignment learning curve” to get past, but I had to try and do the label and preserve the signature that was already on the fabric.

Quilt label

Pat Sloan signed this fabric 5 years ago!

When I made this label, I added a strip of the backing fabric to the white on the top and the bottom, so it would fit in my embroidery machine hoop. I trimmed off the excess when I was finished with the stitching. Then, I used a technique I learned from Pat Sloan years ago for making circles. I laid a piece of fusible interfacing with the sticky side facing the label stitching, and stitched all around the edges of the label. I slit the fusing and turned it around to the back of the piece. Now, I had a nice finished edge along my label, and I could press the label to the back of the project. I will add some hand stitching to the label after the binding is finished.

Trimmed and ready to bind

Ready to bind

Overall I am very pleased with the project. The binding will be put on today, using my favorite Susie’s Magic Binding technique. This has been a fun project.

What have you been working on?

2015 was a good year

Lots of discussion around the web about just fast forwarding to 2021 and totally skipping 2020. I decided to make my time spent in 2020 productive, so I am pulling out small (and large) UFO’s.

2015 was a good year for starting things, and not finishing them all. Do you remember https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/wild-and-free-and-bluebirds/ ? I had fun taking a 2 day class in person with Pat Sloan at the Quilters by the Sea Quilt Guild in Ocean Pines Maryland.

One of the projects was called “Wild & Free”. Really, go take a look back at that blog post I linked above. We had a great time getting wild with making a background for a small applique project. The second day of the class we did a different project, and believe it or not, I FINISHED that project in the SAME DECADE! https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/my-little-blue-bird/

My Little Blue Bird

Anyway, back to the “Wild & Free” – Pat Sloan was seen “HOLDING MY PROJECT” – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2015/11/09/such-a-groupie-moment/ and needless to say, I was tickled. We all made our backgrounds to use for one of Pat Sloan’s patterns called Mama’s Garden. One student even started the applique the night of the class.

Marti started her applique
Pat Sloan holding ” my version” of the background during the Wild & Free class. The pattern is Mama’s Garden designed by Pat Sloan
Marguerite’s
Anna’s project

I got to sit next to Anna during this class and learned that she was a “machine embroidery wiz”. She invited me to come and play with her group and I am SO glad I met her and have.

You know me, you know that I put the project away after the class, sort of, and haven’t touched it since. Oh, I did all the tracing of the applique pieces on Heat & Bond Light, and saved them in a zip lock bag, with the background piece. I had the background ready to go, with a stack of fabric that I wanted to use for the applique, and there it sat on top of my cabinet for the last 5 years.

Since I am digging my way through UFO’s, I thought a “smaller” project was in order after I got the border on my Allietare. (Note, Allietare distracted me back in 2015-16). I pulled down the box this Wednesday and started the process of picking fabrics for each of the applique elements. By the end of the evening on Thursday, I have all of the elements fused to the background and it is ready to start stitching down those pieces.

Mama's Garden

The pattern calls for 2 borders, and I think I need to figure out which fabric I will use for them. I have to go back and “re-read” the pattern instructions. I can’t remember if I stitch the applique first, or add the border first. I think I will use some stabilizer “behind” the fabric to give a little “heft” to the project and allow for a better outcome with the machine applique stitching.

This is a raw edge, fusible applique project, and it will be fun selecting thread colors to stitch with. The majority of the background fabric is from Pat’s line called Bobbin’s and Bit’s by Moda (again – circa 2015 or earlier). The applique pieces are from yardage, fat quarters and scraps.

I don’t know if those in the class finished their projects right away or not, but I know that this was a LOT of fun to work on, and will be a lot of fun to do the stitching too.

Still no UFO list in my life, too many to count. Lots of projects I have in mind to make, but I am keeping my eyes focused on the old projects and feeling quite good about moving forward with things.

Not sure what I will do with this when it is finished….but I am enjoying the process.

So, I’m not skipping ahead to 2021, I will make 2020 the year I finish some of last decades projects! How are you spending your week??

UFO Complete — Get to the Point!

Not too long after I retired, I signed up for a series of “beginner quilt classes” at the local quilt shop.  We used two books by Pat Sloan, and made several patterns from “I Can’t Believe I’m Quilting” and the advanced book .  One project has been “fermenting” on my shelf. The pattern was called Get To The Point, and  I originally wrote about it in an early 2013 post- A Good Sewing Week.

A few weeks went by and it got mentioned – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/on-point-with-borders-wip-still/  . 

Later in 2013 I started to feel a little bugged by “unfinished class projects”  – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/unfinished-projects-starting-to-bug-me/

That doesn’t mean I finished them all, because a few years later I mentioned this quilt again again – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/such-a-follower/   and then again early the next year –https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/on-point-and-setting-triangles/

Looking back at all those blog posts (do that later), I realized I had multiple projects going on, and a lot of indecision about how to proceed with many of these projects. I’ve learned a lot with those projects, and one thing I learned about me is l love to piece quilt tops, but get stuck with the borders and the “finishing”.   

With this project, I decided to try my hand at “free motion quilting” not long after I put the top together and I hated the result, so the project got folded up and put on the shelf.  A few years later, it was one of my UFO challenge projects, and I took it off the shelf and worked at removing all of the free motion quilting. Oh, my seam ripper and I became very good friends.  Back on to the shelf it went to continue the fermentation process.  

This past week, I went out to my sewing room thinking I would work on my Vintage Christmas blocks, but somehow, that project caught my eye and I pulled it off the shelf and unfolded it to have a look.  I’d done some basic “stitch in a ditch” after removing the free motion quilting (or maybe that was before the free motion, I don’t remember). Anyway, I decided I could tackle this top and clear it off the shelf for good. 

Machine quilting

Because the quilt had been well anchored with the “stitch in the ditch”, I started with the borders. After the borders I moved into all the setting triangles, while thinking about how to quilt the sashing blocks.

Fun with quilting big spaces

These big squares got a squared off spiral, starting on the outer edge of the block and working around to the middle.  The quilt had poly bat and I remember the disaster I had with “not enough quilting” on another project, so I went with a lot of stitching to really anchor this top.  (No I don’t use poly batting any longer, but I didn’t want to totally take this apart).

I spent a lot of hours at my machine this week, with the walking foot on, and did a lot of “straight line” quilting. I used at least 4 bobbins of Superior Bottom Line silver thread, as I worked my way across the quilt, down the borders and around and around the triangles points. I also used Silver (Masterpiece by Superior) on the top of the quilt.  I like the silver because it pretty much disappears into the quilt and you see the texture but not a lot of the stitching.

IMG_20200527_205054458_HDR

The back of the quilt really shows off the quilting. The original “stitch in the ditch” quilting was a different thread, so it tends to be more visible on the back, but I am ok with that. 

IMG_20200527_121907055_HDR

 I finished the last block, trimmed the quilt and got the binding on yesterday, too. 

lots of quilting

I am SO happy that I had tucked away fabric for binding inside the folded quilt to use for the binding.   I did my favorite “binding with a flange” also known as Susie’s Magic Binding.  (The purple for the flange came from a scrap leftover from the Senior Quilt 2020 backing).

Get to the point

It finished at  57×74 (who knows why? Not me).  It is a great throw size for snuggling under in the recliner or on the back of the couch.  In this photo it is on top of the queen size bed in the guest room which currently has (gasp) a comforter on it, not a quilt. (It made a nice neutral backdrop.)  Before the evening was over last night, I ran it through the washer and dryer, and was able to sleep under it !  Ok, still needs a label, and I will try to do that today. 

Oh, one more thing — I assembled the Scrap Dance TWIST and put on one narrow border.  It is now an official UFO/waiting on borders! The pattern is by Carole Carter on her blog From My Carolina Home

Twist assembled with one border

It is 86×98 and I plan to put a 6″ border of some kind all around, but it needs some thought (oh geez) and a good pressing! (Shooting for a generous king size of course).

If you are interested in the Scrap Dance Twist pattern, it is available on Carole’s blog for another week or so, before she takes it down and publishes it for sale. Honestly, if you like scrappy patterns, this is a great one to make.  

Speaking of UFO’s….I took down off of hangers in my sewing room a bunch of them yesterday, to do a little show and tell during a zoom quilter chat.  There are a bunch, and when my friend asked how many I didn’t count the ones in bins.  Borders seem to stop me. I don’t know why, searching for the perfect fabric to set things off?  Realizing I have been making KING SIZED quilt tops (at least 5 or 6), and the idea of quilting them maybe is what stops me.  I ordered some grey wide backing in February, and have enough to finish at least 2 king sized. Perhaps my next UFO will be one of the oldest tops .  I’ll have to get back to you on that. Don’t hold your breath!  

Disclaimer….if you go back to those old posts that I shared in the links at the top of this post, the CROSSROADS and the 9 patch CUPCAKES, Friendship Star table runner are really finished!  The Allietare is still “waiting on borders”, as are several other “Scrap Dance mystery quilts”. 

What are you working on this week?

The Twist – A Scrap Dance Mystery -My Reveal

Last Friday (May 15) the  Scrap Dance Twist – The reveal was posted on the From My Carolina Home blog.  I have to tell you, I was expecting all those half square triangles we made in a previous step to turn into star points, so I was VERY excited to see the TWIST blocks!  Go over and take a look at the link above, but don’t forget to come back~!~

When I did Step 6 of the Scrap Dance Twist, making some wonderful 9 patches with my 4 patches and back ground fabrics, I put them up on my design wall, as there were so many, and they were now “too big” for the box.  I studied on them for 4 or 5 days and KNEW I had to take them apart and change out one of my white fabrics.  Honestly, WHAT was I thinking using that particular white fabric that was SO thin.  Honestly, how did that get in my stash…??????   Well…anyway….in the last couple of days, before I went on to Step 7 – The Reveal, I decided to rip out all those pieces.  I think what put me “over the edge” was the post Carole had done on Quilt Repair by hand.  She was repairing a vintage quilt that really had some horribly worn fabrics.  Reading that post convinced me to get rid of the inferior fabric!  Honestly….it was plain white, but was just not nice. I didn’t want my quilt shredding because of poor fabric.  Out came the seam ripper, and I spent an evening watching movies and taking out those pieces. Then I dug into my big tote of white fabrics and cut a big stack of replacement squares, and put the “Block A’ back together.  All but about 6 blocks had the crummy fabric, so you can imagine there was a lot of taking apart etc.  It wasn’t as bad as you might expect and in the course of a couple of afternoon’s work I had all my A blocks reassembled and I was ready to move on to Step 7!

As soon as I opened my box of remaining “parts” I discovered the big stack of background fabrics that also had some of that “inferior” white fabric.  I removed it all, and dug back into my giant bin of white fabric, cut some more background pieces from several different pieces, and got busy making the “B” block”.  Carole calls it the FOOTPRINT block!    My 28 “B” blocks went together nicely, and after clearing room on my design wall, I got all 56 blocks (A&B) up on the wall.  (Note; my design wall is a queen size flannel sheet, pinned to the wall with giant push pins.  I use pins to hold my blocks on the sheet, but only pin to the sheet, not the wall.)

TWIST - king size

There are a few blocks to move around, as suggested by Carole in her post.  I have some darker “center” squares and I want to balance them out a little bit more, as well as move some of the pieces that have the same prints a bit further away.  Scrappy can get tricky that way, and I could spend days moving things around.  I played with the photo on Google photos a bit, and with Flickr too.  I like to look at the blocks in black and white (B&W) to see if the darkness jumps out at me in any way.  I do find it helpful and will be using the B&W below as I start to move things around a bit.

Black and white twist

Looking at the blocks on the design wall in a photo doesn’t really let you see much of the prints that were used.  I took some pictures of my fabric pull earlier in the year, so this might help you see more clearly how very scrappy the pieces are.

Fun with  4.5inch squares

Those blocks in the above photo were the centers for all the 9 patch blocks in A & B.

Below are the fabrics I used for the little 4 patches in Block A.

5 inch squares

I have to say this pattern has been fun to work on, as are all of the mystery quilts that Carole designs.  I’ve enjoyed seeing what is happening on the Friends of From My Carolina Home Blog Facebook group.  If you are following Carole’s blog, consider joining the Facebook group.  You would be amazed at all the different background fabric choices people have made, and color choices for their blocks.  I always say mine is “all scrappy all the time”, but I do admit to cutting yardage for the background fabrics.

So, next up is moving blocks around to please me, then assembling the rows.  I was asked in the group if I would put borders on, and if so, what.  My plan will be a narrow white border to start with, then I will dig in my stash to come up with an outer border of some sort. Fingers crossed I won’t leave this one on a hanger to “ferment” while I agonize over those borders! That is where I always seem to get “stuck”.  The layout should be 84×96 before borders, so I have to play with the quilt-math, and decide how big I want to go.  I just bought some wide backing but don’t remember if it was 108 or 90 wide, and that will be important when it comes time to add those borders.

I’m really happy that Carole moved this project along to the “every two week” point with the clues.  If you haven’t done so yet, go download them from her blog. It won’t be long before the free pattern goes away and gets published for sale.

Are you doing the “TWIST” too?  How’s your progress?

Bits and pieces and more masks

Last week was a struggle to have any fun. I had “two emergency” visits to the dentist and another set for today.  Seems an old woman with an old root canal and crown must say goodbye to the tooth instead of getting it repaired. Getting in to the dentist, endodontist and the  oral surgeon are all tricky escapades during the global pandemic of Covid-19. The bright side is that once the antibiotics started to work, I could reduce all the pain relief medications; but it did take through the weekend.  Slowed me down on having fun.

I was able to do a little stitch out on a couple of dish towels, one for each daughter.

Home in Delaware

The towel above was fun to do. I’ve found that the secret to doing applique on the embroidery machine is using Wonder under or Heat n’ Bond light on the back of the fabric before you place it. Then when you trim after the tack down stitch you get a nicer cut. That said, I should have used some water soluble stabilizer on top of the towel before the applique. It would have made close trimming easier, without fighting with the nap of the towel.  I chose this design for my daughter who moved “home” to Delaware recently, after moving around the country and world for the last 12 years with the US Military.  (Years ago, while in Texas, she and I were shopping and saw “TEXAS” state towels and discussed how they were made and could be done for every state, and if they would be “marketable” .  When I saw this design I scooped it up!)

Heather's towel

This towel, for my youngest daughter, was a LONG stitch out. Over 30,000 stitches, and I forgot to take a photo before I gifted it. My daughter was sweet to send me a picture back for the blog.  This towel has more of a woven weave and I had to use a LOT of tear away stabilizer, plus water soluble on top.  I have a couple of “oops” moments and can see them in the picture, one being an orange thread dangling above the back wheel, and one being a “skip” of stitches on the front wheel.  Why is it you don’t see those things until after it comes out of the hoop??? Snipping the loose thread can be done now, but fixing that front wheel is never going to happen. You can only hope the rider doesn’t feel the bump in the road! (Oh, and don’t get me started on the beak of the bird…..it’s not there….).  Anyway, both towels were fun to do and I tried to pick a design that suited each daughter. My youngest daughter loves to ride, and her “cruiser” is orange and white.  Both embroidery designs came from Oh My Crafty Supplies

In the midst of my dental emergency, I was committed to pick up kits from the local quilt shop for another batch of masks.  This batch was quilters cotton and batik fabric with ELASTIC !! YAY, no ties. No flannel.  So, I picked them up on Wednesday and was able to hand them off on Sunday afternoon.  My friend Pam offered to deliver this batch to the local hospital.

Batik for masks

I told my hubby that this batik looked like a virus. When I cut these I layered the two fabrics  right sides together and made short work of matching pieces together.  I thought I was being efficient.  After doing the first one, I changed my method a bit.  I marked a dot where the elastic was to go on all the pieces, and tack stitched the elastic in place. I did this rather than trying to pin in place and hope it didn’t wiggle out while I was stitching the two pieces of fabric together with the elastic inside. It was taking a lot of time to “pin” the elastic and fabric.  So, marking the placement gave me consistent placement of the elastic, and I could just “hold” the elastic in place while I tacked it down on the edges of the mask.

More masks production

Once the elastic was managed it was easy to put the fabric pieces right sides together and just sew around the edges, leaving a gap for turning.
I used my pleating template and clips again and lots of steam to pleat the masks.  The walking foot is the best foot for me when top stitching to secure the pleats.

28 completed masks

Did you know with careful cutting you can get 28 masks out of 2 yards of fabric? (These are cut 6×9″) I was happy the quilt shop was able to provide elastic.

I just got an order in on Monday of some nice soft elastic and used it for masks for my son-in-law. He has to go daily out for his work, all day wearing a mask, and I made him 4 new masks yesterday. I much prefer making the masks on the embroidery machine using the Creative Appliques pattern . I was able to get 4 mask “fronts” and ear flaps from one fat quarter, and using two other batik fat quarters the pieces for the inside. I tried to “mix up” the insides a bit when I assembled so he could distinguish from one to another, though they look similar.

Creative Appliques style mask size large

I have a bunch more mask parts cut out and pre-pleated and ready to stitch out.  I took a break though and made some “ear saver mask extenders” using another pattern from Creative Appliques.

Extenders

I used black vinyl on top and black felt on the bottom with medium tear away for stabilizer. The idea here is to keep the elastic off the ears which can be a problem for wearing for long periods of time. I used 9″ elastic and knotted it into a loop.  The loop goes into the mask flaps and gets snapped into the extender.  The Creative Appliques pattern is a fast stitch out.  A couple of weeks ago I tried another pattern and it was way more stitches than necessary, but pretty!  The tan ones were the original ones I made and I used buttons and snaps.  (Of course I sewed the buttons on using my sewing machine.  The tan ones are only about 4″ long, and the black ones from Creative Appliques are 7″. They come in a variety of lengths at C.A., the pattern gives you lots to choose from.

various extenders

Of course, I had to “test drive” the mask with extender. 

Creative applique mask

The good thing about a mask is it hides all the wrinkles, and you can blame the mask for COVID-19 bad hair! 

I really like this mask because it fits close on the nose with a wire, and the part I called ear flaps (where the elastic goes through) hold it close to the sides of your face. Because of the shape it is a much nicer fit.  Making them on the embroidery machine uses a lot of stabilizer, but I have said before how I manage that with the “windowing technique” I use.  If I was more efficient I could probably “mass produce” them like I did the ones for the hospital, but I am only doing this style for “special requests” as they take me longer, but give you a better mask.   Creative Appliques sells this style pattern for the home sewing machine also.Creative Appliques sewing machine mask pattern

I’ve seen masks for sale all over the place from $8 to $15 or more.  I don’t think I could “earn a living” making them.  I might make some to sell to help recover the expense of all the elastic, twill tape, stabilizer I have used in the last 2 months.  Are you selling masks?  What style?  How much?

Senior Quilt 2020 (A peak)

Every year I coordinate a project for my church which involves making quilts for our graduating high school seniors.

I started my quilting journey in 2008 when the Pastor handed me a ziplock bag full of 8.5″ squares, gave me some basic instructions and sent me on my way. (I was NOT a quilter, and had only “bound” quilted panels with the help of You Tube and Google).

One thing led to another and at the end of that Spring, I had made 5 quilt tops, and learned to layer and tie the quilts too.  Then Pastor John retired and I was asked to coordinate for the coming year.

Thankfully, with the guidance of an experienced quilter, Kristin S.,  I learned all about cutting and chain piecing and much much more.  My first official quilt shop class didn’t come until 4 years later.

Over the years we have made a lot of those “senior quilts” with a team of willing volunteers.  One year we had as many as 15 students graduating.  The next year, I took a year “off” from coordinating and Kristin stepped up to manage everything that year. (Burnt out?  Probably).  Sometimes you need a new perspective, and new energy and new leadership.

This year, is quite different, with just ONE senior.  When I gathered together with my quilt making volunteers in February, we had a great time selecting fabric from “accumulated stash”.  One church member had donated her entire sewing room of fabric and we had a lot to choose from.  A feature fabric was chosen, and the quilters chose companion fabrics, picked out two blocks that they wanted to make.  This was the first year we didn’t do a basic 8.5″ block for our quilt.  One graduate, and lots of sewers, and big ideas.  A little work on EQ8 and we had a pattern.  (I was tickled to get to use those skills I learned in my January class).

Fabric selection

More fabric choices

In the process of working with the fabrics, I discovered that one of the colors was bleeding all over my ironing table as I was steaming the fabric. I stopped what I was doing, took the strips into the kitchen and soaked them in Retayne and rinsed them clear.

Bleeding blue

I was thankful I had a small bottle of Retayne that came in January with an order, and was amazed how it worked. The picture above is just after I put the strips in a glass bowl of warm water.  The picture below is after the recommended soaking time and after I rinsed with clear water.  I threw a color catcher in the bowl for “good luck”.

After the soaking

Thankfully they were only strips, not pieced into the blocks with the white fabric adjacent.  Did you know that your salad spinner is a great place to wash and “spin” pre-cuts and small pieces like fat quarters.  This experience has made me a big believer in pre-washing.  I put the larger piece of yardage in the washer and did a similar process with the Retayne too.

We got together two more times to cut and sew as a group.   And, as anyone who has ever worked on a group project, sometimes there are other problems.  Working with the “same 1/4” can cause construction challenges, so I made sure to mark with tape and a seam guide everyone’s machine. Several people worked on making half square triangles and others cut various fabric units.   Our feature fabric got cut the wrong size for the pattern and in desperation to replace it, I went in a frantic search online. I finally found it for sale on ETSY and bought all they had, just in case.  A little recutting and reconstructing, and all was well again. The “miss-cut” will get used somewhere else along the line and working together, we adapted and overcame the challenge.

Quilters working at Reformation

Then in mid March, the concern about COVID-19 stopped us from meeting and sewing together. Our last group sewing day was a very productive day.  Luckily most of the blocks were either finished or near completion.  I finished up the last few blocks and one willing quilter took the blocks, and a photo of the layout, and put the top together.  Thanks to Judy M.G. for that big job! She did that in between making masks for the local nursing home and her family, while waiting on the outcome of her own COVID-19 test results. (Negative thank goodness!)

 

When I got the assembled top back from Judy M.G.,  I added the borders, the embroidery blocks and photo of the church.  Using our best “social distancing (across the width of three banquet tables), two of us got together in the empty church fellowship hall to layer and tie the quilt.

Tying the Senior Quilt 2020

Usually we have 4 or 5 people doing this, and can tie a quilt in an hour, but in order to “be safe” we had to limit how many and stay on “opposite” sides of the banquet table.  It took the two of us nearly 3 hours.  But, we got it done!

I brought it back home, and did some machine quilting on the borders to anchor them, trimmed the quilt and got the binding on.

Big wide white borders

The quilt is ready, 2 weeks ahead of my “scheduled deadline”.  (Yes, that is Susie’s Magic Binding that I always do, completely by machine!)

verses on the quilt

There are 3 verses on the quilt this year. Again, we only had one quilt to make, and thought this would make it extra special.  This students parents picked the verses back in January.  Many thanks to Designs by JuJu embroidery company for their wonderful ministry , making these digitized verses available for free.

And now, we have to wait again.  Ordinarily it would have been out in church on Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday and the remaining Sunday’s in April for the members of the congregation to sign and write messages of love and inspiration. Just as soon as we are able to gather again for services, we will have the quilt out to have the members sign.  I hope they fill those big wide white borders with wonderful messages.

Our time line has turned upside down, but we are going to make certain our one graduate knows how special she is and that she is loved by her church family.

Presentation normally would have happened in mid May, but that timeline is a bit fractured too.  Our Pastor will work with the family and determine an appropriate time to present the quilt.

The service where this is done is always very moving.  Parents wrap the quilt around the shoulders of the student, just like they did when they were young. Prayers are said asking God to guide the young graduate in the coming years, and to help them know that the church family is always with them as they go off to college and start new lives.  The quilt has a photo on it of the church, and the parents picked a verse that they felt was important to be remembered. It is our hope that the student will always feel wrapped in the loving arms of Christ, and when they may need a boost of faith, they can wrap up in the quilt which is covered in prayer and messages of inspiration.  Many prayers get sent heavenward during the creation of the quilt, and I always want the graduate to know that their church wraps them in God’s love as they go onward in life.

Once our graduate has a chance to see the quilt I will post more photo’s so you can really see it.  The quilters who have gathered together every year to work on this ministry vary from year to year and new quilters have joined in this year. All together there was Judy M.G.; Judy S., Kristin S., MaryLu W., Karolyn H., and Lydia P. and myself working on this project.  It was fun to do something very different than any quilt we had done in previous years.

Do you do a special project or have a tradition at your church for graduates to honor them as they move ahead in life?