Sunday, May 31, 2009

Laughing in the Sun

This is my wonderful son with the Laughing Out Loud quilt top. As you can see it was sunny and bright out, making it hard for me to frame the quilt (and my son) properly. This is for all of you who asked to see the entire quilt.It was a breezy day, and he was trying to keep the quilt from blowing away while he admired it. The color is very close to real life in the second photo, and you can click either photo to enlarge and get all the detail. I haven't compressed either one.
I want to thank all the wonderful women who left very thoughtful comments on yesterday's post. I really appreciate it. You ladies make up the best quilt guild anybody could ask for!

I will definitely be using the sashing fabric as an inner border. I liked Mimi's suggestion about using the jewel tones as the borders. I agree with Wanda and others who felt I needed three rows of strips. Those three rows of strips will have to be very carefully chosen and precisely placed. I am also thinking I might use the sashing fabric as the binding too.

Today, though, I've got catch up on housekeeping.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

With or Without?

Gwen and Freddy's Reading In Bed quilt has three rows of random strips of fabric as a border. It's the inspiration for my Laughing Out Loud quilt, so I set out three rows of strips next to mine. I'm not quite sure if it works for me.So I tried adding a thin strip of the black and white sashing fabric as the innermost strip.I think I like it better. I think it's more unifying and gives the blocks a bit of space to breathe.
What do you think?

**It's got to have a border, it isn't big enough without one. It needs about six inches on either side. It's actually about 6" too long right now, so I may trim 6" from the bottom.

I want the top to "breathe" and I think a dark inner border would restrict it. I'm not 100% sold on the scrappy borders either.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Cheap Fix

My sewing machine sits on an old fashioned student desk, only 18 by 24 inches. It's fine for sewing individual blocks, or strips, but when I have to sew bigger things, it's tough. Larger things just fall over the edges, making sewing a straight seam difficult. Usually I just move the machine to my dining room table, but that's a pain in the neck.A 20 x 30-inch piece of tempered masonite, scavenged from the basement, and a couple of 99-cent spring clamps from the hardware store,

solved the problem.It's not perfect, but it made sewing the Laughing Out Loud Quilt top so much easier.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Joke's on Me - Laughing Again

Here's Millie with the fabric I will use for the backing of my Laughing Out Loud Quilt. (you can click the photo to enlarge.)

Now, you all have to remember that when I started this quilt, my intention was to make a wonky, fun, loud, break-the-rules, in-your-face quilt. When I saw this backing fabric on sale, I knew it would be perfect, because it too was loud and in-your-face. Since most of my quilts don't have filling, aren't quilted, live between the sheet and the blanket on the bed, and never get seen by anybody, I thought it was the ultimate joke.

I have to add the three narrow borders on all four sides (and actually it's a bit long, and I might trim off 6" or so), and my plan for the binding is a black and white stripe, so it will look like piano keys all around.

Well, the joke is on me. I never imagined the quilt would be so -beautiful-. I really didn't.

I had planned for the blocks to mesh with the sashing fabrics, creating a more abstract design. But when the top was sewn together, the sashing actually disappears, and what my eye sees are jewel tones that pop all over the quilt. It's really brighter than in the picture on Monday's post.

Well, it's so beautiful, I don't really want to hide it. Which means I am seriously considering having it quilted. So I can use it as a bedspread.

For all the world to see.

Go ahead. Laugh!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Plan for a Housing Development

I have been falling in love with wonky house quilts. I love Clare's, and Sarah's, and Lisa's, and Laura's. I have to make a child's quilt and I was wondering if I should make houses.

Sarah had specific rules about one of hers, yellow windows, dark roofs, etc. I went into the sewing room and started pulling fabrics, but, as Emeril says, I just wasn't feeling the love.

I love the bright happy colors in Laura's. I love the whites in Lisa's. I love the divine wonkiness of Clare's.

But my head hurts from working on my Laughing Out Loud quilt (about which I am in a quandary, but more about that another day), and I have learned that if I can't think, then the thing to do is to do something else.

Last night I was chatting with a friend and I thought of the kids coloring.

BINGO!I grabbed a sharpie and a stack of copy pager and roughly and quickly drew some wonky houses. Tomorrow I shall bring them to work and make several photocopies of each, then I shall mail them to my nephew and niece and ask them to color them, and then mail them back to me.

I can then interpret their color choices in fabric, and the result will be a meaningful quilt for their sibling!

NOW I'm excited.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Laughing Out Loud Top

I finished sewing the top for my Laughing Out Loud quilt on Sunday. Here it is, draped across the fence in my yard. (The "points" on that bottom edge will be trimmed away.) I will be adding thin borders all around.

It's funny, but looking at this now, it doesn't seem LOUD. It seems more "user friendly" and a lot less "in your face" than I thought it would be. I am very pleased with it so far.

Only after I sewed the two halves of the quilt together did I realize that I had forgotten to add the little sashing square at the end of one of the rows. Oops!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Five Rows Laughing

I sewed five rows together. Doesn't look like much, but I also:

Bought potted herbs (basil, parsley, rosemary, mint, oregano, catnip, sage, thyme) bell pepper and tomato plants and planted them in my container garden.

Stopped by the local Panera Bread to buy bread for dinner.

Roasted red peppers and made Muhammara.

Made a Lemon Angel Food Cake (from scratch).

Did the laundry.

Changed the sheets on my bed.

Bought groceries for dinner with my son and parents.

Cleaned the pots and pans.

Neatened up the rest of the house.

Made Spaghetti with Parsley Sauce, and enjoyed dinner with my family.

Cleaned up after my guests left, and ran the dishwasher.

Later today I can watch The French Open! Woo hoo!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

First Laugh

With a three day weekend here, it makes sense to spend as much of it in my sewing studio as I can. So when I got home yesterday, I moved my dining room table over to one side of the room and started laying out the blocks for my Laughing Out Loud Quilt. I still have to add sashing to some of the half square blocks around the edges, and the quilt will have three narrow borders, but I'm not worried about those yet. I just wanted to get the blocks laid out on the floor to get a feel for how the quilt was going to look.I think it's going to look good. This layout is by no means carved in stone. Looking at these photos I can see three blocks lined up that should not be so close together, and I think the top half has more "busy" blocks than the bottom half, but unless I get it all down, I can't see it.

I think this might be one of those quilts where you almost can't do anything wrong when you lay it all out. It's so wild and so crazy (so LOUD), that almost anything will work.

I like the look of the blocks with the black and white outer fabrics a lot more than I thought I would. I love the way they play with the sashing by almost disappearing.

So, a fun couple of days ahead!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Half Squares with Sashing

I really don't do very well when I don't have much to do. Sure, I could be doing the dishes and folding last week's laundry, but where's the fun in that? Last night I laid out a bit of my Laughing Out Loud Quilt, and figured out where the half square blocks needed sashing strips. I might just try laying the blocks out over the weekend.

Guess it's time for the blue tape.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No More Must Do's

Everything I said I would make for anybody is done. If I was supposed to make it, it's made. If I was supposed to ship it, it's gone.

I have exactly -nothing- on my Must-Do List. Yes, I still have to work on my son's Sunshine Quilt and my Laughing Out Loud quilt, but neither of those have any type of deadline at all. They are fun projects and will be completed at my own pace, at my leisure and for my pleasure.

This doesn't mean my creative juices will be going to waste. I've got this other thing that's been rumbling around in my brain and lately it's been demanding a lot of attention.

So I'm going to give in, and switch gears for a bit. I'll still be sewing, because sewing is a stress relief from my job, but my posts will likely be a lot less regular.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Solution to a Quandary

I love to watch Tennis. This morning Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are playing in Madrid, and it's being televised on the Tennis Channel. I only get the Tennis Channel on the TV in the living room. So how can I watch and get something constructive done?Set up the ironing board in there, and use the time to press the scraps and bits I've stuffed in the little bins.
Yes, I'm crazy, I admit it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Exquisite, Finished

The Exquisite Quilt is all finished. My son took this picture of me holding it, with Gina's wonderful quilt from DQS5 in the background. This quilt is for my godchild, who is due in September.
It finishes out at 39-1/2" x 44-1/2". You can click the photos to enlarge.

(It's not very bright out, so the colors might appear duller than they really are. I'll try again later, but I am sure the Sun has its own plans.)The Sun came out and brought the Wind with him!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lesson Learned

I learned an important lesson last night...

When go to your nephew's 6th grade strings concert at his school, and you will be sitting in the bleachers...

Bring a pillow.

How do I know this? Two hours after it ended, and two painkillers later, it still hurt.

(On the other hand... I sense a fun little quilting project. A pillow... made from selvages? Or maybe with some wonky letters... saying something saucy perhaps...?)

My nephew played great!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

In The Corner

Sara, I got to a corner on my quilt last night. I got out my camera and took pictures, just for you.

Alas, except for this one, they were all out of focus. Sorry!

One corner left, and I won't get to it until the weekend.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I can't remember if it was my mother or my grandmother who taught me how to blindstitch. They were both excellent seamstresses. I think it was my mother. This picture is a good one. You can click it to make it even bigger.

The thing I remember my mother telling me, was, "You don't work right on the top edge, you work inside." Yesterday's picture might show it a bit better. You can see that I have gently pulling the edge of the binding towards me very slightly...

(An aside here... I use double fold binding. I cut 3" wide strips, join them at a 45 degree angle, and press it wrong sides together. I line up the raw edges to the raw edge of the back of the quilt and then sew using a 3/8" seam. I miter the corners, and then join the binding ends together at a 45 angle, so you can't see where it starts and where it ends. I have seen this described as "bumpless." Then I simply fold the edge over to the front of the quilt and pin.)

You do your blindstitching just inside the binding. You are working right to left (assuming you are right handed.) Your needle comes out, and then you insert it just to the right of where it came out (a little back stitch), grab a little of the quilt, then go right into the binding, and come out again. Pull your thread snug (but not so tight you see a little pucker), then insert your needle just to the right of where it came out, and do it all over again.

This is partly successful for me because I am not paranoid about making the binding VERY tight or full, but there is a little bit of breathing room. Because this is hand work, it can vary the edge away from straight, so you have to be careful to keep your tension even so the binding gets sewn parallel to the edge of the quilt, and doesn't look like a sawtooth.

To do the mitered corner, Sara, sew one side down, then pivot, grab the other side of the "L", sew a bit of that down, then go back and sew the diagonal line created by the fabric overlap. I probably didn't describe that very well. Will try to get a picture when I reach the corner later tonight.

Thank you all for being so concerned about my arthritis. My problem spot is at the base of my right thumb, where the red arrow is pointing.I got it in my early 40's, and yeah, it really sucks. It's the position, not the pressure, so anything that brings my thumb and forefinger together is going to aggravate it. The hardest thing to hold is a needle.

I use the fattest pens I can find, and generally try to do anything to avoid that position for an extended period of time. It doesn't give me pain, but if I were to do any hand sewing for longer than my allotted 30" or 30 minutes, then my thumb just feels really stiff, and it isn't much good for anything the next day.

So I take it easy, and do lots of stretches to keep my fingers and hand limber. If I overdo it (overdoing it is defined as doing anything long enough until my hand really really hurts), the best thing to do is massage it with ice, and then rest, neither of which is any fun.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Binding the Exquisite

I've added the binding to my Exquisite quilt. I sew the binding on the front using a blindstitch. Because I have arthritis in my right hand, I can only sew about 30" a day. It will take me a few sessions to finish.

I've read many blogs where quilters do their handsewing on the back of the quilt. I was giving a quilting demo many years ago and an older lady examined my quilts thoroughly. She asked where did I handsew the bindings, on the front or the back? I replied that I did it on the back so nobody could see my stitches.

"Well," she said, "I can't see any stitches anywhere."

Ever since then I have been doing the stitching on the front.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Four Letter Word

Here is my four-letter word for Tonya. I didn't want to do it in all caps, because I didn't want it to seem like a command: GROW! I wanted it to be encouraging, so a capital G and lower case for the rest. And the block is 6-1/2" x 12-1/2".

My sister and I made a quilt for our mother. How do you make half a quilt? We divided up the quilt into 24 blocks, 18-1/2" x 24-1/2". We bought about 12 to 16 1/2 yard cuts of fabric, divided them half and used fabric from our own stashes and the chosen fabrics. The plan was to made 12 blocks each, and alternate them.

I made 12 perfect 18-1/2" x 24-1/2" blocks. My sister, bless her, made her blocks bigger than that, and each one unique and individual. I had to square them all, then trim them all down to the right size. It drove me absolutely crazy.

The quilt was a great hit with our Mom. You can't tell where my sister's blocks end, and mine begin, unless you look very closely, and even then it's pretty tough. My sister LOVES to tell the story about how I had to trim all her blocks to size.

And I still roll my eyes.

Which is why the block for Tonya is -exactly- 6-1/2" x 12-1/2".

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Finally - SLITHER

It's finished. (It's huge!) You can click the photo to enlarge for more detail. The panel is about 15-1/2" tall by almost 60" wide. The skinny parts of the letters are 1/2" finished, and the wide parts are 2-1/2". There's a lot of extra background fabric so Tonya arrange it to her heart's delight.

I think the letters do the slither movement rather well. I like the way they seem to compress through the L-I-T, and the way the H-E-R seem to be more stretched out, and of course I like the leading and ending "tails" on the "S" and the "E".
Remember this diagram from yesterday's post? Look pretty clear, doesn't it? Well, sorta.

Actually, because in the diagram the letters are dark and the background is green, and in the panel the letters are green and the background is dark, I often got mixed up and caught myself making blue letters! I did get confused a couple of times, and put things together wrong, and had to tear stuff apart, but nothing major. I also made a couple of big changes, adding tails to the "S" and "E". I'm pretty happy with it.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers out there!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

SLITHER begins

This was my final plan for the layout of the letters for SLITHER for Tonya's Halloween Noises Quilt. As you can see, the letters fit into each other, so I can't just make them normally and sew them together. To get them to fit the way I wanted them to, I have to put them together differently.
Which takes a lot of planning. I hate wasting fabric, and time, so I worked it out in detail. After dinner last night I got started. Here's what I have so far. By way of reference, each letter is 2-1/2" high and 7-1/2" wide. You can click the pictures to enlarge.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Exquisite, Quilted

My Exquisite quilt is back from the quilter, Chris. She quilted it in a variegated yellow thread in an allover pattern.
I got home from work, and tossed the quilt on the neighbor's fence to take these pictures. It was cloudy, so the quilting shows up nicely. I'll post a picture of the entire quilt when it is bound and finished.

You can click the photos to enlarge.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Small Detour

Two years ago, when I started making what have come to be called "Gizzy Quilts," I heard from a lot of cat owners asking if I needed fabric. Michaela, from London, asked if I could make use of some fabric she had bought, but never used. I said sure.
Over the course of the next year Michaela sent me four packages, each filled with fabulous fabrics, in one or two yard cuts. In all, there was at least fifteen yards. Her only request? That I make two quilts for her two tuxedo kitties, Lyra and Caesar. She was very specific about which fabrics she wanted for their Gizzy quilts, but she asked me not to start until she had sent me everything.Well, the USPS is raising postage prices on Monday, so I thought I had best get the quilts finished and shipped before the prices went up. So here they are. I quilted them last night, and then made the binding. I hope to finish them later tonight.

So "Slither" is slated for Saturday.

(My son is coming over for dinner on Friday.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gearing Up for Slither

I've been finishing up a few projects in my sewing room, getting ready to make the letters for "slither." I'll never forget the very first time I saw this combination of bright blue and what was then called "kelly green." It was 1968.

My "Exquisite" is due back from the longarm quilter, Chris any day now. I'm very excited and eager to see it! I just sent her a Gizzy Quilt for her little dog, Bella. When I sent the picture of my proposal, Chris sent me an email back... "You do know Bella is a dog, don't you?" I could hear her laughter a thousand miles away!

I think Bella is offended. Bella is a Princess, can't you tell?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Selvage Stash

This was my selvage stash in February, when I first started collecting them. They are in a Men's shoebox sized plastic container from, where else, The Container Store.
This was my selvage stash in early March.This is my selvage stash in April, after I made the two selvage bags. I was in a hurry when I was cleaning up my sewing room.Selvage Bag 1

Selvage Bag 2

My Mom wants a bag too, and if anybody wants to donate their selvages I would greatly appreciate it!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

"S" is for Slither

I am making the word "slither" for Tonya's Halloween Noises quilt. I wanted to make it short but l-o-n-g. Since I generally like to know where I'm going before I start out, I start by doing some little drawings. I have a graph paper notebook just for my quilting ideas. If you click the photos, you can enlarge them. You can see it took me a few tries.
Finally I got the letters the size and shape I liked. These letters will be three times as wide as they are high, and since I can't seem to make a 1/4" strip nice, straight, and even, that means my narrowest strips will be 1/2" finished. The letters will be about 2-1/2" high by perhaps 7-1/2" wide. I drew them all out, then traced them out on tracing paper, so I could see them all together. That was a good start, but I wanted to do something a bit snake-y with them, so I made photocopies of my drawn letters, and then colored them with magic marker, and then made more copies so I could cut them apart and move the letters around. I highly recommend it.I still don't know exactly how I will arrange the individual letters, but I know I don't want them lined up straight. That's not what "slither" is all about. Since they'll be fairly large, I wanted to see how they'd look, "life-sized", as it were. So I started making them, using some fabric from my stash. (My finished letters will be acid green on a dark background.)This red "S" is about 9 inches wide. This means if I laid out all the letters evenly spaced in a straight line, my word would be almost 60" long!

You can click the photos to enlarge.