Monday, March 28, 2011

Wish I could see this…

Carrie just wrote a post about the American Folk Art Museum’s exhibit “Infinite Variety:Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts”.  She has various links to articles and pictures about the exhibit but you have to go see the slide show in this link.

Seeing 650 red and white quilts in one place is stunning enough, but the way they have displayed them is really cool.  I suppose nobody will get a really close up look, but it’s still a beautiful way to display these quilts.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Whittling down the UFO list

My Hawaiian quilt pillow is finished!  It only took me 15 years and a couple of months :) 
It came as a kit, with the applique piece already cut out.  I wasn’t very familiar with sewing at the time so it was slow going when I first attempted it.  Knowing what I know now I realize that the poor quality fabric and the very poor instructions that came with the kit probably didn’t help my progress.  I don’t know that I could have gotten the hand quilting done following those directions if I had gotten to that step 15 years ago, so I’m glad I set it aside till more recently.
Here’s how the UFO list stands now:
1.  Leaf quilt – needs basting and hand quilting
2. Swap quilt – needs basting and machine quilting (currently stumped on what I want to quilt on it)
3. Whimsy pinwheel/windmills – needs borders, basting, quilting (hand or machine?)
4. Designing a Canadiana quilt (maybe this doesn’t count as a UFO since there’s no fabric actually cut yet?)
It feels great to have the list whittled down like this.  It’s about as long as I like it. It gives me one of every activity I like to have available: piecing (Whimsy’s pieced border), machine quilting and hand quilting.  I think  the swap quilt will be my next big focus.  Any thoughts about what to quilt on it?  There is an extra 3 inch border and prairie points all around (all in the same fabric as the setting triangles) since this picture was taken.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tackling UFO#6

On Monday evening I decided to take another look at UFO#6, the one I wasn’t sure I even wanted to finish anymore. Here’s where I left it last May, the last time I pulled it out.
I started this at least two years ago, possibly three, with fabric I received for my birthday.  It wasn’t fabric I would have chosen myself, but I stretched a little and decided to make a smaller version of “Whimsy” by Darlene Zimmerman from her book “Granny Quilts”.  Hers was made with scrappy 1930s reproductions.
My first pinwheel came out perfectly so I was encouraged to go ahead and cut up the rest of the fabric.  Since the first one came out so well I figured I had the hang of it and merrily chain piecing units for the remaining 11 and for the sashing units as well.  When I got tired of that I took the units that were finished and started putting them together and discovered that my seam allowances were not as consistent as I had thought.  With this pattern it mattered.  Pinwheel blocks were a smidge too small to fit with the sashing, or points got cut off or wouldn’t meet neatly where they should.  I bundled everything into a box and left it.
Last May, with my new sewing machine and a lovely 1/4 seam guide I took it out again.  I was able to fix some problems but thought I would have to rip a lot of seams to fix the rest.  A lot of those seams were on the bias and I feared I would distort the edges while I ripped,so I decided against it and just bundled the whole thing up again.
When I pulled it out again this past Monday I decided the flaws weren’t as bad as I had thought after all.  I must have been in a very grumpy, critical mood last May!  IMG_4629

By the time I quit for the night on Monday I had pieced all the cornerstone pinwheels and sewn all the green triangle units for the sashing.


Tuesday afternoon I matched points and pinned and pinned and pinned some more to sew pairs of triangle units together point-to-point.  Those points were a thing of beauty!

After the kids went to bed Tuesday evening I sewed units into rows.  So far so  good, all points behaving.  When I sewed the rows together those earlier not-quite-right seam allowances made themselves known again.  I had to do some tugging in places and easing in others, and fudge seam allowances in the new seams to get all the sashing units to line up properly with the big pinwheels.  Sigh.  In some places I can’t quite see why things weren’t fitting. 
IMG_4633_r1There are rippling seams in places where two units were just not quite the same size and more rippling where I had tension issues with my old sewing machine.  There are points that don’t quite meet where they should or aren’t pointy.  No amount of fiddling would make the points in this picture behave without making the quilt crooked in other more obvious ways.
However, the center of the quilt is finished. It isn’t going to a quilt show, so who is going to be looking for the faults besides me? I’ve decided to relax a bit and just enjoy the whole without focusing on the little things (That said it isn’t going to be gifted where I had thought to give it!)
Standing back from it, I think it looks really cool.  It still needs borders, but here it is so far.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Looking at the whole

I spent the last couple of days finishing up a table runner that I started in January. After feeling like I wasted weeks cutting up scraps into useful units I felt the need to use some just to prove it was a useful exercise! I dipped into my bin of conveniently cut scraps for a variety of blue pieces, followed the pattern “Churnover” that I got for my birthday, and promptly decided I was vastly disappointed in it.  It just wasn’t as vibrant as I expected.  I was uninspired to do anything else with it.
Last week I decided to use it for freemotion practice and to try out a few tips from the machine quilting class I went to a few weeks ago. I found a quilting motif that I thought would work and traced it onto tissue paper.
IMG_4617 If you try this, be sure to use tissue paper that is made to tear away easily, like the kind used for tracing sewing patterns.
I pinned the tissue paper onto the runner where I wanted the design to go.
Next I quilted over the lines, right through the paper.
IMG_4619 I’m sure you’ve figured out the next step: tearing away the paper.
IMG_4620 Voila!  A quilted design that didn’t leave behind any telltale markings showing where I didn’t quite quilt on the lines!
What does this have to do with “looking at the whole”?  This is a piece I seriously considered not finishing because it didn’t soar.  Then I started the quilting and fell in love with it.  Then I finished the quilting and felt I really should have done something different along the edges.  Then I added the binding and fell in love with the whole thing all over again.  So, I’m resolving to never again pass judgment on one of my projects until I can look at the whole finished product.
Who am I kidding?  I’m bound to fail at that, but it’s something to strive for, right?  With that new resolve, I’m going to be tackling #6 on my UFO list after all.  Stay tuned :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

All done!

Thank you for all your encouragement in the machine quilting department.  My Christmas quilt is all quilted and bound and I am very pleased with my first effort.
IMG_4607_r1 I decided not to push my luck and try feathers in the borders just yet.  I tried some on practice sandwiches but I haven’t quite figured them out yet.  (Any tips on those are welcome!) Instead I did a free form overlapping drops kind of thing in the inner border and decided the narrow pieced outer border didn’t need any quilting.

Looking at it in my living room, I it actually fits in quite nicely with the rest of the decor.  Maybe it won’t be limited to Christmas after all. 

IMG_4589Back in January I did get around to quilting the pinwheel table runner but somehow never posted a picture.  


I’m enjoying crossing projects off the UFO list.  It wasn’t very long by most standards but it was really bothering me.  Knowing I had projects sitting unfinished kept me from enjoying new ones.  That’s just a personality quirk, I guess.  Anyhow, here’s where the list stands now:
  1. Leaf quilt – needs basting and hand quilting
  2. Swap quilt – need basting and machine quilting (still pondering quilting patterns for this one)
  3. Churn dash table runner – machine quilting in progress
  4. Hawaiian quilt pillow – hand quilting in progress
  5. Canadiana quilt – have fabrics, design is taking shape on paper
  6. Whimsy – do I even want to finish this anymore?
Almost there! I think once I finish #3 and #4 and get #1 basted I’ll be happy to start something completely new again. Or perhaps I’ll be inspired to try to fix all the problems in #6 after all (and trust me, these aren’t subtle!) .  We’ll see…

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Flying Monkeys

No, not unbelievably cute fabric.   Unbelievably cool girls though.  The Flying Monkeys are a team of local junior high age Girl Scouts who competed in this year’s First LEGO League competition.  Half the competition involves LEGO robotics, but the second half, where these girls have really made their mark, is a challenge to come up with a solution to some real life problem. 

The Flying Monkeys designed and built a prosthetic device that allows a three year old girl born with no fingers on her right hand to hold a pencil in her right hand for the first time.  As I understand it, the Bob-1 as they call it is a device that is adjustable and can grow with her to some extent.  Not a bad accomplishment for a group of 6th and 7th graders! 

Here’s where you come in.  The girls are competing for the First LEGO League Global Innovation Award.  This award comes with a cash prize to be used towards patenting their invention and making it available to others.  They have already had enquiries from people who feel this invention could help them in their daily lives.  If you would like to encourage the girls along, please vote for them at You can vote every day until March 18, from as many IP addresses as you have access to.

Go Flying Monkeys!  Go Girl Scouts!