Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Stress Relief

When you've had a week like I had last week, you need to take care of yourself, so when my friend Mary invited me up to Wolfeboro NH to visit on Saturday I didn't need much convincing. I got up, showered, got dressed and had breakfast, packed a few quilts (OK, six quilts and two tops) set my GPS and was on my way. When I left it was cool and overcast, but once I got into the Lakes Region the clouds parted, the sun came out and the temperatures went up. It was an absolutely perfect day.

Mary and I had a great day talking about quilts, family angst and any other thing had happened to crop up. After we were done looking at quilts, we gathered stuff for a lunch and she brought me to her town's private beach (above.)

This was our view as we sat at the picnic table and ate lunch and talked and talked and talked. I had really needed to "get out of Dodge" and spending the afternoon looking out on this calm scene really helped.

The biggest hurt from last week is gone, but the effects will linger on. (It happened in my house and now, sadly, a once-loved piece of artwork has a very negative connotation.) Thank you all for your positive words and kind thoughts. I love Carols' description of the Crazy Train and will do my best to remember not to supply any water or coal. I love Riann's idea of the Fix Up Crazy Kin project. I'll surely keep it in mind.

Thanks all, and I am going to remember the image of the placid lake and mountains if the Crazy Train visits again.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Dear Lynne, We Don't Remember...

The world can be a funny place. Last week I got this postcard in the mail. I've never been to Montana and I don't know anybody who lives there.

"Dear Lynne, This is from Karen and Al from Oregon... Sorry, we have your name and address in our book but we can't remember who you are or where we met. You must have given us your address for a reason, so we want to do our part and re-connect.." They signed their full names, left their mailing address, email address and a telephone number.

I looked at the card and laughed. I didn't remember them either! Who were these people? The card arrived properly addressed to my new address where I have lived for four years. Although I have family in Oregon, I haven't visited Oregon in almost 10 years. I did a Google search on their address, and looked at the street view of their address. Nope, I had NEVER been there. The couple's name did not ring any bells. I supposed I could have met them at a quilt show somewhere, but although I am not all that great with names, I am pretty sure I would have remembered meeting this couple.

So I started to write an email, but then looked at the clock. It was just after 7 PM or so Oregon time, so I picked up the phone and gave them a call.

They answered right away, and put me on speakerphone. They sounded like a nice couple. After both sides determined our connection was not geographic, I said, "Now, I make quilts, have a blog and sell tutorials on Etsy..." but didn't get any farther than that because Karen interrupted me, "I KNOW! I remember now! I bought your bird tutorial. I couldn't figure out Etsy, so I emailed you and mailed you a check!"

I did remember that, and we embarked on a discussion about quilts and free pieced birds and had a really nice talk. I told them I was going to put their postcard on my inspiration wall in my studio and invited them to visit the next time they came to the East Coast. I received an invitation to meet them should I ever return to Oregon.

I hung up smiling. That was fun. It's always nice to hear from my blog readers and quilters who have bought my tutorials, but to really HEAR from somebody in real life and the sound of their voice, and the joy, well, let's just say that made my day!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Family Drama Angst

Oh My Freaking Whatever!  There is such family drama going on around here right now I want to scream. It has me tied up in knots and I am so seriously NOT A HAPPY CAMPER!

I tell you this so you will know that I have not fallen off the edge of the earth, but that I have been stupidly DISTRACTED from doing anything worthwhile while this crap is flying around. Honestly, it's a good thing I don't drink or I'd get myself good and drunk.

And my friends, NO!  You will NOT get to hear what it is. It is not life-threatening or anything drastic, but it is annoying the hell out of me and I have to find a way out of this because I am tired of wrestling with it and having it suck up every available minute of my brain's free time.  To soothe myself I have been reading beach books one after another in rapid succession.

Anyway, the world will continue on and when this big mess dies down I shall be back blogging and sewing and doing something wildly (or not so wildly) creative and messy.

Maybe the time is ripe for me to make a free pieced four letter word a few dozen times to express my frustration. Yes. THAT four letter word.  I use it frequently but have never been brave enough to put it in fabric.

 So fear not. I'm not dead and I'm not ignoring you.  I'll be back.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Binding On! Thread Up!

I made the binding for the little binding tutorial quilt last night, and applied it to the quilt, turned it over to the front and pinned it all around. Since this will be a demo quilt, I will hand sew the binding onto the quilt with one of these brightly colored threads. I don't quite know which one yet, but I want on that will show up equally against the black and the white. Right now I am leaning towards the orange.

If I'm good as I claim to be, you won't see my stitches no matter what color I use unless you have the quilt in your hands and pry the binding apart from the quilt.

And sorry everybody, but there will NOT be a video unless somebody comes to visit me at my house and holds the camera to take pictures. I cannot do my blind-stitching one handed.

I am putting together a binding class proposal so maybe (maybe) I'll be teaching this somewhere soon and you can come sit in a room with me and watch me do it, and learn that way. I learned from watching my Mother. (My Dad, btw, calls this the "looky looky" method.

PS, Linda, I never use a "flange" binding, but if I did I'd finish it on the front by machine.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Binding Fabric Audition

I almost never choose a binding fabric for a quilt before it's quilted, mostly because I always get it wrong.  So I wait.

I knew the binding for the little Scrap Slab Triangle quilt would not be a color, but be some kind of black and white fabric. I tried 18 fabrics. Here is a sampling.

This one seems OK
This one almost reads as "gray" so this isn't going to work.
This isn't any better.
Nope. This print is too choppy.

This one isn't working either. It's too dark.

This is really bad! It's way too light.
This is not good. It's really blah.
Ooh! I like this one!
I like this one too!
Let's see both of them together...
YUP! This is the one I like the best!
Under normal circumstances, this would be a done deal. HOWEVER, the whole point of this little quilt is to show how to do my hand stitching, and that's a bit hard to do with a black binding. I want to be able to illustrate (with good pictures) how I do my stitching, and that binding fabric may not help me with that.

Or maybe not. I'll have to wrestle with this a bit. Generally, when I have a situation like the photo above where the binding and the quilt are different colors, I use thread that matches the binding. Since my stitches are generally invisible, maybe I'll use a different color so everybody can really see what I am doing.

Dunno. Like I said, I'll have to think about it.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Office

These pictures may not mean much to you, but they mean a lot to me. This is my office at home. I am good at a lot of things, but managing what my pal Julie calls "The Paper Tiger" isn't one of them. I spent much of the day yesterday cleaning up in there. I emptied the shredder at least three times.

This is the view from the door of the room. The room faces east so it gets the early morning sun. When the weather is cool, Millie spends most of her mornings on the kitty condo in here.

I still have some files to sort through and organize, but those are small tasks.  Yes, that's a dog crate under the folding table. When I have to bring Millie to the vet I can never get her into the usual small cat carriers, so I bought a crate. I haven't got much storage space so I just keep it out.

You can see my collection of bowls on the top of the bookcase. I have to put them somewhere! You can also see the rest of the house through the doorway on the left.

The small quilt on the door at the right was made by Gemma, from Wales.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

That Was Quick!

I brought the little Scrap Slab Quilt (henceforth to be called "Arrowheads") I made to Janet-Lee to be quilted. "This is darling," she said, holding it up. "Oh heck, I can do this right now."

"Really? Are you sure" I asked?

It was interesting to watch her get it all set up. She picked the thread color (which I always let her do), and then we picked a quilting design.

This is the back of the quilt, showing the quilting pattern.
 Usually when I have a quilt that's all straight lines, I like the quilting design to have a lot of curves. 

I found it interesting that the computer knew exactly where it was at all times, and the areas that had been stitched were a different color on the display than what was left to do.

Once it was all set up, the computer driven machine did its thing.

All told, it took less than an hour.

It's funny, because when I designed this little quilt, I set it up so the colored triangles pointed to the right, with the orange row across the top, but when Janet-Lee set it up, she turned the quilt on its side, like this.

Either way is fine, of course, but it's always interesting to see my work through somebody else's eyes.

If you would like to make a scrap slabs quilt of your own, you can get my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop. It's an instant download, so you can get started right away.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Binding Project

You know how you lose a glove and keep the other for-ever, until finally you throw it out, and then a week or so later, you'll find the one you "lost?"

Well, AFTER binding five quilts, I decided that my next tutorial would be about quilt binding. I have lots of pictures I can use, but I need to take more how-to pics of my actual blind stitching. 

That meant I needed to make a smallish quilt and get it quilted. So I finished up some of my scrappy slab triangles and played around with the white and black side triangles. I'll get this quilted and then I'll take many photos of how I sew my binding down in hopes of getting some terrific how-to photos.

My plan is to tell everything I know about adding binding to quilts and how I do my blind stitching. You have to know that my hand sewing skills aren't the only thing that makes the binding on my quilts look the way they do. It's a combination of all the other little details that, added together, make my bindings look good.

How did I learn all this stuff? I've made over 310 quilts with bindings. That means I've made 310 invisible joins, and mitered 1240 corners, so Scarlett, yeah, I know how to get them to lie nice and flat.

I figure the new tute is a month to six weeks out!

By the way, if you like these scrappy triangles, you can get my tutorial here at my Etsy shop. It's an instant download, so you can get started right away.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

One, Two, Three...

I finished sewing the binding on the last Slashed Squares quilt while watching the tennis yesterday. Then I gathered all three quilts and took them outside to take pictures.

This is the still as yet unnamed Slashed Squares tutorial quilt.

This is the pink Slashed Squares quilt, which I have named Pink Quartz.

This is the Slashed Squares quilt I made from mini blocks, called Jigsaw Puzzle. It's a scrappy quilt, and I was surprised at how much I liked it.

All three quilts are 56" x 56".

If you want to make a Slashed Squares Quilt, you can get my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop. It's an instant download, so you can get started right away.  I've updated the tutorial to include photographs of the Jigsaw Puzzle and Pink Quartz quilts. If you purchased the tutorial in the past, you can log back into your Etsy account and download the new version at no charge.

Scarlett, You can find details about my binding here. I cut the strips 3" wide, but it's how I sew it to my quilts that helps set me up for success. You can read more about that here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Pink Binding

This is the pink Slashed Squares Quilt. I made it as a sample quilt. The blocks are 14" square so this quilt is 56" x 56".

I made the back one big block, and I used fabrics from my stash to do it.

When it came time to find fabric for the binding, I didn't have enough of any one thing I really liked, so I decided to continue the stash-busting quality of this quilt by piecing the binding as well. There are seven fabrics in the binding, and although I only needed six WOF (width of fabric) strips, I didn't have that, so I used some scraps, and cut each strip half that length, then joined them at a 45 degree angle.

Once I had the strips all sewn together, I arranged them so no join would land on a corner, and the striped fabric on the binding did not line up with the striped fabric on a block on the front of the quilt.

This is where the beginning and ending binding strips joined together.

Actually, though, the fabrics in the binding are not represented in the quilt itself, either on the front or the back.

I've been hand sewing it down while watching the tennis at the US Open.

If you want to make a Slashed Squares quilt of your own, you can get my tutorial here on Etsy. It's an instant download, so you can get started right away.

Monday, September 3, 2018


I had been doing a lot of thinking about what design I wanted to paint on my oil tank. I wanted a design that would be interesting and not fussy to paint. Although the designs I liked were kind of 60's-ish abstract I really wanted something organic, so I went through my stash again and found some fabric with a leaf design I liked.

I liked it because I could paint it easily freehand and it didn't have to be exact.

 I didn't want to paint the whole tank, but I did want to break up that vast expanse of white.

I have no trouble handling a brush and getting it to do what I want it to do.

It looked good, but the more time that passed made me realize that the paint I was using wasn't designed to stay where I put it, unlike artist oil paints which are generally stiffer than toothpaste.

Even though the design looked good when I painted it, a short time later, drips appeared.

I tried to wipe the drips with a rag, and almost made it worse. I have to decide how much touching up I want to do.

Because in the grand scheme of things, it looks fine.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Binding Dark Majesty

I went back and forth choosing binding fabric for the Dark Majesty diamonds quilt. Finally I selected this Kaffe fabric - it's  dark grey with colors, and I think it will tie in with the quilt nicely.

This is such a big quilt that "quilt wrangling" is an apt description of getting the binding sewn on. I'll get it sewn on all around, and then it will be relaxing to hand sew it down on the front of the quilt.

 Two things here. 1. I love the binding, and 2, yes, Millie has already been napping on the quilt.

I painted the second coat on the oil tank, and took apart that plastic shed that bugged me. I think it looks better.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Tank, Day One

Never in a thousand years would I have expected a post about painting my oil tank to generate such interest!

I had two concerns. The tank is 9-1/2" away from the house. Not enough space to squeeze into, and there's an old plastic storage shed on the other side, making access from that side difficult as well. The other was a label on one side of the tank. Closer inspection of the label solved that problem. "Do not paint over this label." OK!

The weather report told me that Friday would be a good day to paint. The weather would be a lot cooler and drier. The rest I knew from studying Oil Painting in college, and working at hardware stores during those years. I'd already prepared the surface by brushing off any debris and cleaning the tank.

As soon as I painted the first stroke, I knew two things. One, the paint was nice and I was going to enjoy working with it. The second, I love painting. There's something about pushing paint around with a brush that I find incredibly soothing. Not for nothing did I focus on Oil Painting in college.

Painting the side of the tank against the house was tricky. I used a roller and a long handle. I did brush up against the tank and got white paint on my upper arms a couple of times, but at least I didn't get paint on my house.  For the bottom of the tank, there was nothing I else could do but lie on the ground and use the roller. I had made sure to spray myself with insect repellent before I got started.

To my everlasting delight, the job took one hour. I cleaned tools and put everything away. The paint needs 24 hours to dry completely, so I'll do the second coat tomorrow, and the fancy design stuff the day after that.

This was taken a few hours later when the afternoon sun hit the tank. Yes, it is white!

And about that fancy design stuff - I really haven't decided what to do. Zebra stripes would be fun, just as a bar code design of varying vertical stripes would be too. One thing I do know is that I don't want to get overly complicated. For this, I think less is definitely better.