Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Holiday Time

I've got all my holiday decorations up, including the Happy Holidays quilt I finished last year. Here are the two birds that grace the quilt. I made them from Christmas fabrics, and I wanted them to mirror each other.

The finished quilt also has free-pieced letters and some trees and holiday packages. 

There is no pattern for the quilt, but if you want to make birds like mine you can get my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop. My tutorial for the free-pieced letters can be found here. Both are instant downloads so you can get started right away.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Johnny Barn

A couple of weeks ago I showed you this picture of the barn that inspired my pink barn.

When I brought the pink barn top to Janet-Lee for quilting, I told her it was inspired by the barn at the bottom of her street. "Oh, that's John and Deb's barn. Let me take a picture and send it to them." I asked Janet-Lee what the barn was for. "I think it's just for storage." It turns out John & Deb built it themselves.

So when I drove by that day and the doors were open, I pulled over and ran up to the barn to take pictures.

The barn is post-and-beam construction (the same as my brother's barn in Colorado) and is, in fact, used for storage. I saw bicycles, tools and several surfboards. I was impressed to see a wasp's nest hanging from the second story railing, and not at all surprised to see a UNH hockey jersey hanging in the barn as well (UNH hockey is BIG in the Seacoast area).

After I took my pictures I saw a man working out in the yard, and I went over to talk. It was John. 

"Janet-Lee showed me the picture of your pink barn quilt and asked if it looked familiar. I said, 'That looks a lot like MY barn.' JL said it WAS my barn."

I told him I thought his barn was beautiful. We talked a bit about barns, and how I have had "barns on the brain" for some time, and now looked for and at barns wherever I go. He said he had looked at a lot of barns before he built his. We talked about several features of his barn were typical of New Hampshire barns but are not found in barns in neighboring states. Later I sent him pictures of my brother's Colorado barn and my interpretation of it.

He invited me to stop by on my next visit to JL and see the timber frame screened in porch he built at the back of his house. He also said he's planning to build a 10" x 14" timber frame structure for his wife, a muralist, next spring.

"It will have basically the same feel and proportions as the big barn, but just a bit smaller," John wrote to me in an email later, "The fun never stops!!! Haha!"

Sunday, December 8, 2019

More Binding and The Thimble

I added the hanging sleeve and the binding to the Spring of Teal quilt.

Earlier today I gift wrapped all the packages that are flying to LA next week, including the Diamond Dinosaur quilt. Then I packed them up in boxes and got them ready to drop off at the Post Office on Monday.

I've got all the Christmas decorations up, and later today I will set up the Christmas tree.

When I sew the binding down on the front of my quilts, I always use a thimble. I have two thimbles, but I prefer to use the one on the right. I'm not quite sure why. It's probably just habit. I have no idea where I got it.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Schmetz Needles

Wow! I certainly did not expect that my bulk box of needles would be such a hit.

Mine are 90/14's and they last forever. I should tell you though, that 99.999% of my sewing is sewing patchwork, or two layers of cotton fabrics together. My friend Mary wrote to me and said, "I can't remember the last time I broke one..."

I got mine at Amazon, naturally. The link is here. (While you're at it, get an extra seam ripper. Or two. Here's my story.)

When I am applying binding and sewing through more layers and a layer of batting, I often use a needle that is good for sewing denim or jeans. Especially if I am also sewing attaching a hanging sleeve to a quilt.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

What Do You Want For Christmas?

About a week or so ago I got an email from my pal Steve who lives in Alaska and who quilts. His significant other wanted to get him a quilting present for Christmas. Steve was almost out of his grey thread for piecing and he couldn't remember where he ordered it from before. Could I help him? What did I use?

Well I was only too happy to tell Steve that I use is Presencia 60 wt cotton thread, color # 352. It is a 3 ply 100% mercerized Egyptian cotton. I buy a cone of 4882 yards. One cone lasts me about a year.

It got me to thinking.

About a thousand years ago I worked in retail and at Christmastime I would ask my customers what they wanted for Christmas. What was interesting was the sheer normalcy of the things people wanted. Now I said they couldn't say a winning lottery ticket, or a person real or imagined. It had to be a THING.

After I sent the email to Steve I thought, well hell. Why stop there? So I have put together a list of things I have in my studio that make my life easier. There's nothing wrong in making a wish list. There's not a whole lot of excitement when you open a present on Christmas and think, "oh, what the hell am I going to do with THIS? There are so many other things I would rather have..." So here goes.

1. Pins. I am very fussy about my pins. About 7 years ago I found these. They are fine, long, SHARP and most importantly, STEEL, so I can pick them up with a magnet. Thing is these pins cost five or six bucks a pack. So when I order them (from Amazon, where else) I order five or six packs at a time, and keep them in a drawer in my studio. Because nothing sucks more than running out of something and having to GO SOMEPLACE and get more. Have plenty on hand. I hate going shopping. Look, if somebody gave me six packages of my favorite pins, I'd be thrilled!

2. Bobbins. I understand now that you can buy PRE WOUND BOBBINS! Oh holy hell, how cool is that? Happiness for me is twenty bobbins wound with my favorite grey thread.

3. Rotary cutter blades. Have you checked the price for a pack of 10 lately?  Me too. Hell, that would make a terrific Christmas present as far as I am concerned. Just be sure to specify which ones!

4. I love my Gingher shears, but damn the older I get the heavier they are to use. Did you know that they now have some lightweight ones? Oh gee darn they are terrific.

5. Let me see, my 16 foot long measuring tape just got all kinky and now won't work properly. It was the perfect size, and since it was ONLY 16 feet long, it didn't weigh a ton. Betcha you can pick up a bright colorful one at the big box hardware store for short money.

6. Needles! I practically died and went to heaven when Kathy told me I could get a box of 100 sewing machine needles for half the price I had been paying! So they were $50? I haven't had to buy needles for about six years now, and I have at least another four year supply. Stuff like that really floats my boat! And when I break a needle, all I have to do is open a drawer and I know I have another one!!!

7. So, you get the drift. Think about it. A spare iron, a step stool, a BIG, fresh cutting mat. A drafting table so you don't have to break your back when you cut fabric. Maybe a new 6-1/2" x 24-1/2" cutting ruler because maybe yours is nicked. A cart to lug your stuff around when you take a class somewhere. One of those nifty needle threaders with a little light on it so you can actually SEE the eye of the needle, because your eyes aren't getting any younger... A good light (preferably an Ott light.)... One of those cushy mats that make it easier to stand when you're ironing that five yard piece of fabric for the back of the quilt you are making. Or HEY, how about an ironing TABLE instead of the stupid useless things they sell as ironing boards...

Look, the list of things is long. Don't feel guilty asking for the little (or not so little) things that you really USE and make your life better. Because if you're reading this you know PERFECTLY WELL that quiltmaking is THE best thing in life. I do NOT have room in my house for an air fryer or an instant pot, but I would be THRILLED with a pack of Martingale rotary cutter blades...

Yeah, I know I'm weird. What can I say?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

58 Carats Sewn Up!

This is the Fifty-Eight Carats quilt all sewn up. It's amazing how much the fabrics and colors "blend" so much better when it's sewn up.

I sent a picture to my son and his reply was immediate. "Tell me about the solid black parts." This is where photographs don't work so well. This is not a solid black fabric. It's actually a dark blue batik with gold squares printed on it. I am using the wrong side. It is DARK, which I wanted, but not SOLID BLACK, which I did not want. You can see better in the photo above.

Years ago I read a story and in the story was an art teacher from the late 1800's who wanted to make a quilt. The quilt "looked like it fell out of a kaleidoscope" and that description reminds me of this quilt. I didn't set out to make a quilt that looked like it fell out of a kaleidoscope, but that's the kind of stuff that happens when you let a design develop on it's own and respond to what's happening in front of you.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

A Snow Day

I have a few vacation days to take by the end of the year, so when the forecast was for 12-18 inches of snow, I decided to take one and stay home. I caught up on the laundry, and cleaned out a cabinet that had been overflowing with "stuff." Then I made some binding.       

I have three quilts that need binding, so I figured if I was going to make binding, I should do them all.

Here are the three bindings I made.

I sewed the green binding onto the Jealousy quilt.

Because I have to sew the binding on the Jealousy quilt because it will be going to its home on Christmas, I turned the binding over and pinned it all around the perimeter.

I like to pin the binding all the way around before I hand sew it down. It's a lot easier. It also gives me the opportunity to get a preview of the finished quilt, and OH BOY am I glad I decided on this fabric for the binding instead of the plain orange I originally selected. It is going to be great!


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Dino Diamonds Done!

It doesn't always happen, that a quilt comes out EXACTLY the way I had envisioned it, but this one did. This quilt is exactly what I wanted it to look like.

The quilt is bright, cheerful and colorful the way I wanted it to be, and you can see all that in these photos which were taken outside on a brisk November day. (It was 31F, just below freezing, and slightly breezy when these were taken, so I apologize if they are slightly out of focus.)

And here's the back. If my granddaughter wants to show off the big dinosaur panels, that's OK by me.

Now the quilt is taking a trip through the washing machine to get all soft and crinkly. I shall show this off to my family and friends before packing it up and sending it flying across the country for the big reveal on Christmas.


I can't wait.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Golden Zebras Looking Good

The Golden Zebras quilt looks handsome on the back of the couch with the pillows that inspired it. This quilt is the same design as the Parade of Zebras quilt and the similar to the Jealousy quilt. I'll be working on a tutorial for these quilts after the holidays.

This is as much as a beauty shot as I am going to get for now. It certainly is a golden yellow!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Black Friday with Dinosaurs

I have a rule never to go shopping on Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving. Instead I'll sit on the couch today watching whatever's good on TV while I bind the Diamonds & Dinosaurs quilt.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

More Dinos!

The Dinosaur Diamonds quilt is back from the long arm quilter, and is ready for binding. As you can see the quilting is happy flowers.

It's really pretty (at least I think so.)

For the binding I am using the small dinosaur prints in 20" lengths all around the quilt.

With the long holiday weekend coming up, I'll be able to get the binding sewn down so it will be in the City of Angels for Christmas.

One of my coworkers was giving me a hard time about this quilt. "Well, you've got your marching orders there, Grandma," they teased. They don't get it. I've basically been waiting my whole life to get a request like this.

"Hey, Memere, can you make me a dinosaur diamonds quilt?" 

I mean, like, really?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Fifty-Eight Carats

This is what I'll be sewing together. There are 58 unique fabrics, so I am going to call this quilt Fifty-Eight Carats, because carats is how you measure a gemstone, and a diamond is a gemstone.

For all of you who really want to see differences, here is the first quilt, Magic Carpet, which will be flying to my son and his family later this year.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

One of Those Days

You know how you have a day filled with errands and at the end you think you didn't get anything done? So here's what I did on Saturday.

1. Picked up my Mom

2. Drove to the Portsmouth Fabric Company where I bought lots of fabric.

3. Had lunch at the Pink Bamboo right down the street.

4. I drove to Hampton Falls past the barn I love so much.

5. I picked up a couple of quilts from Janet-Lee.

6. Walked around Portsmouth stopping in a couple of shops... The Elephantine Bakery, Corks &  Curds (wine and cheese).

7. Stopped in at the Flower Kiosk and bought flowers for my house and a wreath for my Mom's door.

8. Stopped in at the Lindt store in Exeter and bought an assortment of their truffles for the bowl in my living room. 

9. Went to Staples and then to the grocery store for a few things I needed.
10. Got home and made dinner.
11. Washed all my fabric.

12. Went into the studio and cut blocks and did some rearranging. This isn't the final final final, but it's damned close. I decided to use the same dark fabric around the colored blocks. It's actually a batik with little gold squares, but I am using the wrong side.

So it was actually a pretty good day.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Getting Closer...

(Remember that line from the very first "Star Wars"? If you saw it in a movie theater, like I did, after waiting in the longest line for a movie you ever saw, in the first two weeks after it came out... yeah.)

This is getting a lot closer. Ignore the diamonds that rest on the floor, they are merely placeholders for some dark fabric to be added later. I have been working on the lower corners, getting them to blend better and show off the rings. The upper left area of pinkish tones is still muddy and mushy. Hopefully my shopping excursion will yield good results.

I left these pictures VERY LARGE so you can click on them and see all the details of the fabrics.

Here is a cropped version so you can see that the finished quilt may look like.