Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hand Quilting and all that...

I tried to figure out a good visual to add to this post on hand quilting. There isn't all that much I can say or photo...hand quilting is what it is. To me, it is what quilting is all about and I love sitting to quilt. For the first time ever, a few months ago I put my quilt frame away with a quilt on it that was just STARTED. I won't do that again. Part of the interest in quilting is the starting. Getting out the new needles...I use new needles on each new project...and threading up the first dozen. Deciding on the stencil for the first border and marking the pattern, usually with my Pounce. Sitting at the frame and looking and looking at the blocks and choosing the way they will be quilted. But here I am, sitting to quilt, and all of the fun things have been done...and I might add...some have been forgotten. I can't find my lamp that clips onto the cross member of the frame, and slides along to be right where I need it. It's not in any of the usual places, and I believe I will have to go and buy another, assuming that I can find the one I want. I can't find the strips which I use to tighten the quilt on the frame. ARGH....I may have to make new ones. Inspiration is oozing away through my pores. This quilt has to be finished for the end of May. I should be INHALING inspiration instead of feeling it depart my body. This is not good. Maybe tomorrow will be better. It can't be any worse!!

There are only a few things critical to successful hand quilting, other than the will to spend the hours it takes to complete a quilt. Good lighting is the most important and for me, that comes from a little lamp that attaches to my frame and moves along with me. I have friends who use an OTT Light on a stand with wheels that can be located wherever they want it. I still prefer the one that warms my nose as I am leaning over the quilt.

Lots and lots of needles and YLI thread comes next. I thread a dozen needles at a time and never get up from my project without checking that there are plenty of needles ready for starting up again. Nothing is worse than sitting down to quilt and finding that the needles aren't threaded. The YLI thread is a must as it doesn't twist or knot and moves smoothly through the layers of your quilt. I have two colors: light brown and ecru. That's it. Since I don't have any white in my stash, I have no need for white quilting thread which I really don't like at all.

Small needle nosed pilers help to pull the loaded needle through the fabric, being careful not to bend the needle as you draw it through. Those little John James #10 needles bend easily enough. I know people who use tinier needles than those, but I can't do anything smaller and there are people who think the JJ#10 are pretty small. They do bend...I go through a couple of packages of needles on a big quilt because you don't want to sew with a bent needle. Right now I am using a jelly thimble and the jury is out on that one. I like it but that little flat-top metal thimble has done just fine for me over the years. For my under finger, I cannot manage with Thimble-its. I cut the little ovals in two and once I got used to them, I never quilt without one.

Add a chair that adjusts and great music and you're good to go. Now I know people doing great quilts on hoops on their laps. More power to them. They are producing more than me. But when I sit to work at the final stage of a project, the items above help me to go at it with enthusiasm and desire.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Opening the Brown Bag

I was in Florida in March and the Brown Bag Challenge came to a conclusion that month at Guild ( Last night I received my bag from Margaret and it was a completed runner! Ready to go!! What a lovely surprise.

This was one of our most successful challenges done by Guild members over the past number of years. Receiving an assortment of fabric from an anonymous quilter in a little brown bag required each of us to put on our thinking caps and decide on a small project which we hoped our person would like. Margaret was certainly on the money with this one. Great job!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

More on the Disappearing Nine Patch

When I first saw the technique to make this quilt, my response was that after sewing a block together, the last thing I wanted to do was slice it through the middle both horizontally and vertically and then puzzle how to put it back together. There are many web sites that show this technique if you are unfamiliar with it (just type 'disappearing nine patch quilt' in the search box and hit enter and away you go) , and after visiting a few, decided to leap in. I now think it's a great little quilt for a few reasons.

There are no points to worry about! That in itself is a great bonus. After sewing the blocks together and measuring them, I found that they were pretty well the same size with a couple of deviations here and there, so I decided to square the blocks up at thirteen inches. An easy task and a very good plan. The block squares up with no problem and the absence of points makes this a real snap.

It's a great stash buster of a quilt. I think that in the future, I will cut some strips of perhaps four inches from each of my fabrics and put them into a box till it's full...and from there I can make one of these dandy little quilts. .. or just cut squares...which is a little more time consuming to piece but still a good way to use up those bits you hate to toss. When I did garment sewing, I would get rid of all the scraps upon completing a task. No more!! Quilters save everything, don't we!?

I think this would make a great miniature quilt pattern. Make a little nine patch...and I mean LITTLE, and then do the magic cuts! Cute!

The DNP is a teriffic beginners quilt; for REAL beginners. Fast track quilting. The down side here of course is the small learning curve. You won't LEARN much about accuracy and piecing when the whole purpose of the quilt is to avoid the points and nesting of seams and not having to WORRY about acuracy. You can line up on either side of this argument. I know a quilter who is into production and not detail. She would love this!!!

My quilt is very scrappy looking although I used the Layer Cake. It's quite country as well. Both are fine with me. Not for everyone, but the DNP has a place in our arsenal. I will likely do another one: first the mini and's into the queue!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Disappearing Nine Patch

Perhaps I am a slow learner/quilter...but I have just pieced my first Disappearing Nine Patch quilt top. Quite some time ago I bought a Layer Cake called Cranberry Wishes. Beautiful dark rich Christmas fabrics...but what to do with them!? One day last week I decided that a DNP might be just the project. I cut the 10 x 10 inch squares into rectangles and started piecing and cutting. The nine patches had dark/light/dark on the top and bottom with the opposite combination in the middle. Quite random. Press and then slice; pin together and then think. I decided to reassemble the original patches so as to have some integrity in the quilt but the process of turning the cut up nine-patches into a quilt can be whatever you want it to be. I am not a 'totally random' kind of a person!! Once together I had a square quilt top, four assembled blocks by four. Added a two and a half inch border and called it done. I may add another narrow border but I am not sure...right now I am enjoying the thought that I used the Layer Cake and have a lovely Christmas quilt waiting to be quilted. What a great combination!!

Two great new purses

Making a purse is a great quilting project. It's small; it uses your stash and it can be a wonderful gift, if you are willing to part with it. Additionally you can use it yourself and people really love seeing a new completed matter how small. Recently my friend Wilma gave me a beautiful assortment of fats and right away I knew I wanted to make something specific with them. A purse was the logical choice. The ladies at Lucy's had also given me a few fats that matched those from Wilma. I was able to make not one but two purses...the larger one was designed to use Bali Pops but fats worked very well. The smaller purse was one of Mary's designs and I think it's great. Shown also are two others...the purple bag is Laura's and is a great little purse for a single event. You can't cram much into it but it's not meant for that. Heather got the smaller bag in our Brown Bag Challenge and I hope she likes it as much as I liked making it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It's Spring. Hard to believe that winter is practically gone; I say practically because here in the east we could get up any morning and find the ground covered with snow. That's just the way it is here in Northern Nova Scotia. Additionally I have to say that I missed winter due to a totally unexpected visit to the emergency room on November 31 and an eleven day stay in hospital. A ruptured bowel. How absolutely unglamorous. In the first days after my surgery as I lay in bed, I thought about the things I would do when I got home. My doctor kept telling me I would be finding the time to read and undertake new tasks....didn't happen. I lost my mojo for three months. I had no interest in reading or writing or sewing or quilting or crafting or doing anything. Looking back, it's hard to believe that anesthetic can do that to you. Recovery was slow and sometimes painful. I was sad and I cried buckets of tears. I was impatient with myself for that behavior, being the over achiever that I am. If someone took two months to recover, I could do it in one. NO I COULD NOT!! I learned lessons I wasn't prepared to learn. Friends fed us for a month. As a child, when I would ask my Mother what we were having for supper, she jokingly would reply "whatever the neighbours sent in". In December, when Left Brain would ask that question, he got the same answer. I would make breakfast for LB every day so as to maintain some normalcy in our lives. His patience was tested beyond belief and he met every challenge graciously. He insisted on a Christmas tree, albeit an artificial one, when I couldn't be bothered with the thought of one. We did our best with the holiday season and on January first, I got dressed up in my Ann Taylor dress that I had bought for the Christmas season, and went out to a Gyro levee. I paid the price for that outing for three days but it was lovely to see friends and feel alive again. Gradually I got better. After two and a half months, I could drive again. And so, ...spring is here and I am back. I have started to sew. In March we went to Florida. We hung out with our son and daughter in law and precious grandbaby Jocelyn; visited with Bonnie and Peter in Perry, Georgia and attended the NASCAR race weekend in Bristol Tennessee. I bought sixteen yards of fabric in Maine and just for good measure, eight more meters at Harbour Quilts in Antigonish ( for my next quilt. I must be back. That's a lot of fabric!! Carol and I walk the Samson Trail again. Life goes on. Life is good! Thank you, Jesus!!