A finished small project

Last week I worked on some blocks that I picked up off my “pile” on the corner of the cutting table. I mentioned them here – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2021/01/24/little-between-projects/ .

I would like to report a FINISH for that pile of blocks! The disappearing 4 patches have been completed, and joined up and turned into a nice size throw the lady that started them 2 years ago.

Backstory, in case you missed it…..I ‘used to‘ volunteer at an assisted living facility where my friend June is in residence. I would take boxes of squares that had been donated to the quilt guild, and let the ladies choose their own colors and fabrics. This was easier than trying to work with shaking hands and rotary cutters, and a bit safer.

I would go once a week to sew with whoever showed up in the activities room. One resident, Stella, only came to sew a few times and then just quit coming a couple of years ago. I kept bringing her bag of squares every week, hoping she would turn back up. She never did. Stella only sewed for 20-25 minutes and then would leave, even though I was there for 2+ hours. I don’t think she could concentrate for much longer, and other residents told me she was like that in every activity. So, when I came across her bag of squares, I pondered what to do with the blocks she had sewn. I probably am repeating myself, but here goes. I took Stella’s squares apart because her stitches were loose and very crooked. I’m certain her stitch length had been set on a basting stitch (5.0 stitches per inch) because she just could see those “tiny” stitches. Many times I would catch even my friend June, cranking the dial because she couldn’t see the stitches that were 2.5, and I had to “dial” her back. I always promised them all, if there were stitches to rip out, I would do it! Anyway, if you read the blog post about the little in between projects, you know I put Stella’s squares back together as 4 patches, then cut them up again.

More switching
Disappearing 4 patch

The method involves taking a squared up block, then cutting it apart and rearranging the pieces. I cut 1.5″ from the center line, 4 times. My previous blog post has information and links to better explain the method.

I took the pile of blocks I made during a zoom retreat with my blogger friend, Carole, (https://frommycarolinahome.com//) and arranged them on the design wall.

Disappearing 4 patches

Last Tuesday, I had a “ZOOM QUILT BEE” with the Queen Bees. During that bee, I added an “alternate block” in the layout, and worked on getting the blocks sewn together. Since I have all of June’s fabric, I dug in her boxes and found some pieces that I wanted to use up.

work in progress

Once the blocks were put together I decided I needed to break up some of that PINK with another color. Hubby suggested green and I thought that was perfect idea for the borders.

6x7 layout

I dug through June’s stash again, and found a nice green! Borders went on, backing was made, again from June’s stash, and the quilt top got pin basted and ready to machine quilt.

I spent Thursday on another Zoom Retreat with Carole and got the quilting done. (It’s amazing how much you can get done while chatting with others during a day of sewing and zooming!)

Disappearing 4 patch finished

For quilting, I used my walking foot. I went in the ditch down the rows working from the center out, and then went across each block on the diagonal, in both directions. For the border, I switched thread and used the wavy serpentine stitch with my walking foot.

quilting

It doesn’t take long to put on the binding because it is all done by machine, using the Susie’s Magic Binding technique http://www.52quilts.com/2012/05/tuesday-tutorial-susies-magic-binding.html . (Save that link, as it is my GO TO binding method and SEW EASY!!!).

Here is a close up of the binding if you haven’t seen it done before – my hubby tells me it is his favorite because it adds an unexpected pop of color!

close up of quilting and binding
Susie’s Magic binding method – also known as “binding with a flange”

Threads for quilting – Superior Fantastico , colors 5021 (40 wt) blue/purple/green varigated; and Superior Fantastico color 5025 (40 wt) pink green yellow blue varigated. On the back, the bobbin thread was also Superior Fantastico color 5031 ( 40 wt) varigated pink. The pink was also used top stitching the binding in the flange. I love how the thread has a bit of a shine, and on the back of the quilt it all but disappears in the pale pink fabric. When doing the patchwork, I usually sew with a grey or beige thread, Superior Masterpiece which is a cotton 50 weight.

As a side note; while zooming with Carole in December we were chatting about favorite threads. I really love my Superior threads and a favorite I use is Bottom Line Silver # 623. It is a 60 weight and my 3000 yard cone was nearly empty. I went shopping for thread and found it available at the Fat Quarter shop. (I usually buy my threads at quilt shows). It took a few weeks, but my thread arrived on Friday and I can adjust my “inventory” on my spreadsheet (what a geek). It’s true, I keep track of the thread I use and when and where I bought it and the price. Much nicer to buy in groups of 3 at quilt shows as there is a discount usually!

I plan to make a label using my embroidery machine in the next day or two and getting this quilt delivered. Won’t Stella be surprised when the staff takes it to her apartment! Before I head to the assisted living though, I think I will make a couple of placemats for June and her hubby, using the same method of “disappearing 4 patches”. I probably will do them out of reds and whites/creams so she can use them all of February.

RANT – warning….not for the weak of heart…….

I can only “drop off” in the lobby as the facility is still in lockdown for COVID-19. My dear friend June and her husband just tested positive, even after they had round one of the vaccine 3 weeks ago. Hoping that having had the vaccine means they won’t have as severe of a case. Over 53% of the deaths from COVID-19 in our state have been residents of Long Term Care facilities, and 911 out of 1090 deaths in Delaware were people over 65. Those are some frightening numbers and I get angry when I think about staff bringing the virus into the facilities. My friends have been in isolation from their family and friends since early March of 2020, yet now, they have COVID. Obviously , the precautions are not working, staff is not following proper protocol, and these dear old ones are at risk! Sigh…rant over, anger is steaming out my ears yet!

Snowy day in So. Delaware
1-5″ forecasted for this storm

Do you have any weather coming in? You know, my sewing room is “out there” on the 2nd floor of the detached garage, so I will probably do some hand stitching of hexi’s in my recliner today! What’s under your needle today?

Autumn Jubilee Tote bag

I’ve been following along with the From My Carolina Home #AutumnJubilee2020 this month, and this week was time to finish the tote bag in the sew along. Directions for the finish can be found on the blog here – https://frommycarolinahome.com/2020/10/18/autumn-jubilee-sew-along-finishing-the-bag/

When I read through the instructions, I decided for I did not want to do a Velcro closure on my bag, so I ordered some “magnetic” purse closures on Amazon. I was “waiting” for that delivery on Tuesday so I could finish this project. (Note...local friends…I have extra magnetic closures if you need them….they came in a pack of 20 and it will take me that many years to use them.)

I showed details on my chosen fabrics and progress recently on a post – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2020/10/06/stars-and-strips-autumn-jubilee/

Stitching is completed
Strip set sewn together and quilted with deco stitch

I waited a while to come up with my “panel” for embellishment. I was supposed to insert it before quilting, but I could not decide on the fabric for a few days. I chose the linen multi color block fabric that is in the middle of the strip set for my panel and got the embroidery done a couple of weeks ago.

Panel for inset on bag
In hind site I should have stabilized better because I had a lot of pulling of the linen fabric with the embroidery.

Yesterday I sat down to follow those “bag finishing instructions” (linked at the top of the page).

I had to first add fusible fleece to the back of my embroidered piece and then insert it in the strip set. Once it was in, I decided it needed quilting. I did some straight line quilting using the same thread as the ‘fancy stitches” on the strips, using Superior Threads Fantastico “CASHMERE” thread. (My all time favorite color!) The quilting and the fusible fleece helped make the wrinkles around the edges of my embroidery disappear.

panel inserted and quilted
Panel inserted and quilted

Once that was done it was time to trim up the piece. I just could not bring myself to cutting it down to the “pattern size”, so I squared it up, trimmed and measured and went with a bigger size bag. I ended up with about 16 1/4″ by 44″.

IMG_20201020_162449746
The fusible fleece and boxed corners help the bag to stand up nicely

I dug into my Autumn Jubilee bin of fabric and chose my bag lining and handle fabric.

As I was deciding on which fabrics to use, I decided that the bag NEEDED pockets inside. I had enough fabric of either color to make pockets. I used the fabric that was left after making straps and made two pockets for inside.

pocket for the lining
The pockets are attached to the lining before the lining is inserted into the bag.

I added the magnetic closure to the lining before putting the lining in the bag. I put a small square of fusible fleece behind the lining fabric where the magnet prongs go through the fabric to keep it from pulling out.

Inside the bag magnetic closure
small disk is the magnetic closure, one above each pocket
IMG_20201020_171901327
Bag finished and ready to be used
IMG_20201020_172019675
Ready to be used

I was very happy with this project and my modifications along the way. One thing I would have changed is the width of the straps and the method for doing them. These straps are about 1 1/4″ wide finished, which is ok for a bag this size, but I like a thicker strap. I know the idea was to use those 2 1/2″ strips from jelly rolls, but I cut from yardage and could have done bigger. They do have fusible fleece inside the handles, so they are going to be comfortable to hold. You might remember my story of the puny strap bag last year https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2019/06/09/taking-care-of-some-odds-and-ends/

I am dashing off to an outdoor quilt bee and will be taking this bag for show & tell. This evening I am going to practice on muslin for hem-stitching / rolled hem for a scarf. Wish me luck, and tell me your tips!

What is on your sewing table today?

Labels for old projects and Autumn Jubilee

As I was changing out a table runner this summer, I remembered that the project didn’t have a label on it. If I make something I usually put some sort of label on it to remind me later of “when” I made it and “what” I referred to it by on my blog posts, in my photo collections etc. I was also moving a wall hanging his summer and when I looked at the back of it I discovered it was lacking a label. I made a mental note to “make labels” and immediately carried on doing other things.

While I was out in my sewing room, working on the never ending scrap clean up (oh…do I have a mess…..) I took a break from cutting things up and grabbed a piece of fabric and made a couple of labels on my embroidery machine.

I have to tell you I haven’t totally figured out the Janome 11000 that I have been using now for a solid year. I can’t figure out how to get more than one line of text on the screen, so I sat down at the computer to work it out. I am using the software called Embrilliance, in EXPRESS MODE, which is FREE.

I’m learning more and more all the time about how to use it. When I started with this set of labels, I found a “frame” built in to the software options. I tripped over it while poking around in the program, and can’t tell you where I found it. (Don’t you just hate when you find something cool and can’t repeat it!) Anyway, I had this green and yellow variegated thread already on the machine, and thought it would make a fun stitch out.

Variegated thread frame
fun with variegated thread
Blue bird label with frame
Finished label

I am having a little “bobbin thread” issue, with the bobbin thread showing on top with this blue thread for the words, but I’m not going to sweat the little stuff…the label is finished, stitched on.

My Little bluebird

I use the same method all the time when making a label to have a nice “finished” edge. I mentioned before that I learned the technique from Pat Sloan https://www.patsloan.com/ when she taught how to make a nice ‘circle’ for an applique project.

Essentially, you lay a piece of fusible pellon over your label, with the glue side facing the RIGHT side of your label. You stitch all around the edges, then cut a slit in the pellon and turn it “right side out. You smooth the edge where the pellon is stitched to your fabric with your finger tip and you have a nice finished edge. I iron the label to the project, then hand stitch around the edges. Most of the time two edges are enclosed in the binding, but since this was adhered after the project was made, I had to hand stitch all the way around. The beauty of the fusing is it holds your label in place while you stitch; no pins! Also, it is an extra security to keeping your label on the project. Not quite so easy to remove, depending on the type of pellon you choose to use.

circles on bluebird
Circles for applique
Close up blue bird
Lots of circles with this machine applique project

The circle turning method was used on the wall hanging the label went on. So, after 5 years of hanging around with no label, it is “FINISHED”. I did this project in a class with Pat Sloan and wrote about it several times https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/wild-and-free-and-bluebirds/ while it was “in progress”.

The second label I made was for my FIRE AND ICE table runner. I used the same green fabric, but switched to bright orange thread to complement the “fire’ on the runner. It’s a funny name for a project, but the ice blue and the bright oranges were the inspiration for the name.

Fire and Ice label
label ready to stitch on

I had pins in it all around because I thought I would bring it in the house, pin to the back of the runner and hand stitch on last night. I decided to wait, and get the runner out of the closet and bring it to the sewing room to press on first. I hate to battle pins! And, I think the edge will be much sharper and crisper when I press it on first.

Note, this time I had NO problem with the bobbin thread peaking through. Sometimes those machines can be a bit finicky.

Batik table runner Fire and Ice
Fire and Ice table runner
Back of the table runner
Back of the runner

To see more about this runner, look for my previous post – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2018/08/27/fire-and-ice-batik-table-runner/

It’s been fun looking back on older projects, and getting the labels done.

Batik placemats
2018 batik placemats

I just love the different bright colors in batiks. Some can feel really dark, so they have to be used “sparingly” I think.

More placemat fun
Placemats in 2018

I can’t remember if I made 12 or more of these placemats back in 2018. I think I had given them all away to my daughters. When I was looking for a piece of fabric to use for the 2 labels I tripped over a basket of “partially made” placemats. That basket has been sitting around since 2018, so I must have thought about making more. I need a dozen for my “summer” table. I think they will all be a bit different from these I made early on. Something else to go out and work on I think. I really have to get rid of these baskets of partial projects in my next “effort” in my never ending clean up.

I am lucky to have the space, but the “clutter” is bogging me down. I am trying to spend a few hours every day this week to clear up and clean up a bit. I am on a self imposed deadline. Next week starts “Autumn Jubilee on the FROM MY CAROLINA HOME ” blog, and I always look forward to working with fall colors. Carole Carter did a Facebook Live Chat on the Friends of From My Carolina Home page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/591941124470566 ) last week and gave us a hint at what she has planned for October. She mentioned we might want to get a small “leaf” print, at least 1/2 yard in fall colors. I was able to pick up a piece this week that I hope will work. When the shop was unrolling it from the bolt, I realized it was the “end of the bolt” and took what was left. I got about 1 3/4 yard, so I will have plenty.

fabric for Autumn Jubilee 2020
Small print leaves for Autumn Jubilee

Since Carole has been doing Autumn Jubilee, I have kept a container with fall fabrics, and her patterns. It was always my “go box” when I had a quilt bee. I worked on bits and pieces for fall projects for years, and have made plenty of table runners and placemats. This week I took the bin out, sorted things, refolded and assessed what I had on hand. I have another similar sized tote with fall colors that were not “specifically” for Autumn Jubilee. I know I have used up my favorites over the years. Next blog post will be a compilation of my Autumn Jubilee projects from previous years, while I wait for the 2020 edition. I heard there will be opportunity for “machine embroidery” to be included, and I am excited to start something new. Meanwhile, I best get busy cutting up scraps and finishing up another old project left lying around.

What is happening in your sewing room this week?

 

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?