Monday, October 1, 2018

Tumbler Frustration

As mentioned im my previous post, I decided it was time to get my tumbler project off of my sewing room floor and across the finish line.  Knowing that I had a nice quiet weekend ahead with lots of time to sew, I sat down Friday and started assembling rows. Row after row of 57 blocks each.

My little guy decided he would help with pressing...

I continued sewing rows all day Saturday until I noticed that the piles of neutrals were starting to look really low.  So I stopped and counted. I originally planned for this quilt to be 47 rows of 57 tumblers, or around 94" square. I had calculated exactly how many lights and darks I needed and I thought that was what I had cut back when I started this project a couple of years ago. I must have seriously mis-counted my cutting, though, as I found I was almost 300 tumbers short!  I have no idea how that happened.

I scavenged a couple more lights from another Kansas Troubles project and then threw in a couple of fat quarters that worked with the KT colors well and spent Sunday morning cutting more tumblers.  I then resumed row assembly. I kept at it until late in the afternoon, until I was down to this.

I counted and I have enough pieces left to make one more row. That gets me to 43 rows, 8" short of what I planned.

Luckily I have been assembling this thing in sections so I can distribute the new fabrics, but now I have to figure out how to deal with the shortage. There's no way I am cutting more tumblers!  So I decided I have two options.  One is to finish assembling the top, measure the length and lop off whatver I need from the side(s) to make it square (probably around 86"). The other option I am considering is to take three tumblers off of each row and build them into rows.  This would decrease the width by about 5" and allow me to build 2 more rows which should get the length to around 90".

Now to decide which of these options seems less painful....

Monday, September 24, 2018

My Latest Obsession

I have been a great admirer and lover of antique quilts and quilt history for a very long time. I enjoy researching quilt history and have been a "member" of the Missourt-Oklahoma-Kansas-Arkansas (MOKA) group for years (dating back to the Yahoo Group days), but only this year actually started participating in meetings. I was so excited and inspired by the June meeting that I couldn't wait to attend the meeting this weekend in Harrisonville, MO, even though it meant a second long road trip in less than one week.

Fresh off the heels of Baltimore on the Prairie, with my anticipation building for the MOKA meeting, I suddenly got a wild hair to take up quilt collecting.  Maybe it was the pictures of Lisa Bongean's antique collection in the journal my friend Pat gave me at BOTP that pushed me over the edge?  Of course, when I start something I have to jump in with both feet....the UPS guy will be bringing three new acquisitions sometime today. In addition to shopping online, I decided I needed to visit the local antique mall. I don't think I had ever been there before.  It was dangerous....I found several quilts that really wanted to come home with me.

There was this fan with lots of blanket stitching:

And I really loved something about this one, although contrast was not the maker's strongest skill. There was so much work put into the piecing and you can barely see the blocks!

I circled back to look at this strip-pieced star three times.

But then finally decided that this gorgeous blue and white bowtie quilt needed to be the first addition to my collection.  I'm not sure of the age - the fabrics look very similar to antique reproduction fabrics I have in my stash. I need to do some studying on dating and value before I do much more shopping. I have no idea if I paid a fair price for any of my purchases.   

So then it was off to Harrisonville for MOKA.  All three of the speakers (Kelly Cline, Robyn Gragg and Barbara Brackman) were outstanding! I was particularly inspired by Kelly - she is an amazing long-arm quilter who perfected her custom quilting skills on vintage tops she purchased very inexpensively on eBay and in antique shops. Her thinking was that it was far less intimidating to work on a $10 top than one you had spent loads of time and money on. What a brilliant idea! She now does masterpiece-level quilting on vintage linens and is far beyond where I will ever be, but I am totally hooked on the idea. I have two tops that are ready for custom quilting but I have been afraid to start them. I spent Friday evening in the hotel room surfing eBay for cheap tops.  I was lucky enough to win one in the silent auction (more on my other auction successes later). Here's my $14 top that will be my first custom quilting project:

There were loads of beautiful quilts shared in the show and tell sessions. This one particularly grabbed my attention.  What a beautiful log cabin!  The black fabrics include a lot of silks which have deteriorated, but it was still stunning!

Back at home and in the sewing room yesterday I decided that I am really tired of looking at my tumblers sitting in the floor next to my sewing table.  I spent the afternoon watching baseball and sewing rows.  I managed to finish two rows I had started previously and to make two more. I ran out of time and didn't get all of the new rows added onto the second section, but I made it to 20 rows.

That's 20 of 47, so not quite half way there. By the way, I have a remarkable ability to randomly place the same fabrics adjacent to each other in rows.  There are some rows where it has happened three or four times, and some places where I managed to do it three or four rows in succession. I am thinking I should try to sew one row a day until this quilt is finished. Let's see I can put up with the monotony for 27 days....

Thursday, August 30, 2018

August OMG Progress

In spite of a half-crazy work month I did manage to make decent progress on my August OMG project, Hazel’s Diary, even though I didn’t get my post added in time to link up.  I finished center block, added “block two” (pieced borders) and got a good start on the appliqué.  I will be taking this project with me to Baltimore on the Prairie next week, hoping to finish the rest of the block two appliqué and perhaps get a start on block three.

I was able to spend a little time at the machine and finished week two of the pieced summer BOW.  Some of the gray star fabrics don’t have the best contrast but I figure that won’t be too noticeable when all 240 of them together.  So 40 down, 200 remaining.  Sigh!

I am still keeping up with my log cabin blocks.  I’m not sure what month this is but my stack is growing.  I can’t wait to put this quilt together.  I’ve always wanted to do a log cabin - I have no idea why it’s taken me this long to start one!

I’m off to Nebraska next week for four uninterrupted days of stitching.  I spent a good part of the Labor Day weekend prepping projects to take with me and already have enough to last several weeks.  I know I won’t run out of things to do!  

Monday, August 6, 2018

Getting Back on Track

The past couple of months have been completely nuts - so much going on that I have had little to no time to stitch or hook. Between buying a house for my daughter and spending three straight weekends on cosmetic updates (not to over-simplify - there was a little drywall work involved!), putting a contract on a house for us and spinning up all the pre-purchase activities only to run away as fast as we could after seeing the inspection results, and my job being beyond the normal level of crazy I have hardly accomplished anything since mid-June. I knew there was no point in even selecting an OMG project for July but today I am linking up with Elm Street Quilts OMG for August to motivate myself to get back on track.

I did manage to squeeze in a few days of rug hooking with Jayne Hester in July. I wanted to go the neutral route again, this time with a navy background. Janice drew the pattern from an antique rug design that I found online. One of my hooking friends was giving me a hard time about being in a rut - she suggested I name this one "Floral No. 5" since it looks so much like the "Floral No. 7" pattern I did with Jayne last year...  Anyway, I love the design and really think the colors are awesome.  

When I had little bits of time to get to the sewing room I finally finished week one of the pieced BOW.  I started so strong going into week one and then completely crashed and burned. I now have a shopping bag full of pacakges that have accumulated over the summer. It's really a bit daunting!

I have managed to keep up with the Homestead Hearth log cabin BOM. I have been keeping all of my extra strips very neatly organized for mixing in with future blocks.

I finished the blocks for month four sometime in July, so I now have 48 complete.  They are really scrappy and fun!

So as I get back into the swing of things, I participated in a workshop on Saturday with Shelly Pagliai, designer of Hazel's Diary Quilt.  Here's Shelly's version:

It was a fun workshop - really more of a sewing day than a class - but we pieced the block in the morning and then worked on the reverse applique frame in the afternoon.  I was inspired to keep going when I got home and managed to finish nearly all of the stitching on the frame Saturday night.  I basted the center applique onto the block yesterday and started piecing the next "block" in the book which is actually the inner border.  I am really happy with my color choices and how it is turning out so far.

So my August OMG project will be Hazel's Diary.  I want to finish the center block, get the borders on and make significant progress on the center border applique.  I need to get myself back into applique mode in preparation for Baltimore on the Prairie. It's hard to believe that it's just a little over a month away!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Catching Up

It's been a long time since my last post! I actually did finish my May OMG project - assembled my Magic of Christmas top - and had every intention of posting but never had the time. It didn't help that it really isn't all that attractive in its current state, which includes a lot of blank space for applique. I'm still very nervous about the idea of quilting it first and adding applique afterwards, but I really loved the look in the finished version that I saw at Paducah.

The main reason that I didn't get around to posting at the beginning of the month was that I was busy traveling back and forth across the state of Missouri to have fun. I spent the first weekend of June rug hooking at Janice's, working on her Schoolhouse Sampler pattern that has been on my "someday" list for a long time. My lettering really does have more contrast with the background than the picture shows.  I love my colors and am looking forward to getting back to this project.  It seems like it will hook pretty quickly.

We returned home on Monday and after a few days of work it was back to Kansas City for the spring meeting of the Missouri-Oklahoma-Kansas-Arkansas Quilt Study Group (also known as MOKA). I was blown away by the fantastic presentations and fabulous quilts that I saw there!  The theme was signature and chintz quilts and the quilts that the speakers brought along to share were outstanding.

Here's one example of a signature quilt shared by speaker Sandra Starley that I really loved - the pattern is really different from what I am used to thinking of.

In researching this quilt, the speaker found that the unmatching oak reel blocks (there's another on the opposite lower corner) appear to be leftovers from another family quilt that is now in a museum in Denver. The stories she shared about the lives of the people whose names she found on this and other quilts in her collection were fascinating.  I would love to do that type of research - it sounds like a lot of fun!

Sandra Starley did another presentation the second day in which she shared several of her quilts featuring birds and blooms. I absolutely fell in love with this quilt:

I am completely obsessed with it!  She named it "Quilted Joy" because it is such a happy quilt - a very suitable name in my opinion.  I really, really want to make this quilt. Sandra is plannning to release a pattern for a smaller version of the quilt that she created for an AQSG challenge - I'm not sure when, but I have already found my fabrics! The quilt is really complicated when you look closely - lots of applique ovelapping blocks, overlapping the center from the border, etc.

Here are a couple more close-ups I took to show some of the detail:

There were many other gorgeous quilts shared, way too many to post. What was really amazing was the informal show and tell held at the hotel in the evenings.  The quilts shared by the meeting attendees during those sessions were amazing, and the knowledge in the room - so many experts in quilt history - blew me away.  I am so happy I decided to make the trip!

Here's a crib quilt from Samdra's collection that I really liked. Most of the crib quilts made in the 1800s were just small versions of "adult" patterns rather than the cutesy patterns we tend to think of as baby quilts today.

And here's another beauty from Sandra's collection - she's planning to create a pattern for this one also:

So now I am back to reality and back to work (ugh!).  I posted my June OMG project via Instagram but will share it here, too - I want to try to progress my Floral No. 7 rug as far as possible (ideally completely hooked) before I head back to Janice's in the middle of July.  My husband is quite confident that there's absolutely no way I could finish it by then, so of course I am even more determined!  As of last night I have the center completed but there's a lot more left to do.

I will have to work hard to keep myself from getting distracted by too many other shiny objects. My Primitive Gatherings SBOW boxes (yes, plural....) started arriving yesterday. So far I have received the pieced and the EPP versions.  I am hoping the wool one comes today because I would love to get the first block prepped over the weekend. It can join the growing pile of other things I've prepped (all of last year's wool SBOW blocks, Moon Garden blocks....) it's out of control!

Monday, May 7, 2018

May OMG Selection

This month started out a little crazy - a couple days on the road, baseball game, house hunting... Needless to say, not a lot of sewing time!  And I nearly missed the window for linking up to the Elm Street Quilts May OMG challenge.  There are already 105 sign-ups for this month. So many beautiful projects to look at!

Before I get to my selection, I want to post a few photos from my latest quilting adventure. I decided to attend this year's annual TAS meeting since it was being held fairly close to home (up near Chicago) and because I have been wanting to share my thoughts with leadership.  I headed up to Rockford, IL on Thursday afternoon and arrived in time to sit in on the local guild meeting where Linda Halpin was speaking on Little House on the Prairie quilts. It was a really interesting and entertaining lecture - I somehow had previously missed the part of sewing machine history where 19th century physicians thought that treadling could be a little too exciting for women!

The TAS business meeting was great - there were so many fantastic ideas to move the organization forward and offer exciting things to members.  I am very hopeful that we can get something going again and that our local chapter will be able to both contribute to and benefit from the oganization succeeding.  The meeting was followed by a presentation by award-winning quilter and Rockford resident Barbara Clem, who shared her quilting and competitive history and showed us many of her quilts. Her quilts were beautiful!  I was a bit surprised to hear (although I know when I go to shows it feels like I have seen most of the quilts before) that people can enter the same quilt in each AQS show, and that they are eligible to win ribbons at each show. She was excited that there are so many opportunities to win now....whereas I saw this as supporting my dilution theory.  Anyway.... Below is a picture of one of her quilts that really caught my eye - interesting piecing and very intriguing color choices!

After the speaker there was an incredible show and tell session. What an amazing group of quilters!  Many of their quilts have been in Paducah and one was a first place ribbon winner at the most recent show!  TAS founder Anita shared her version of Love Entwined - it really made me want to start my own.

I'm only sharing just a few of the many gorgeous quilts they shared. This William Morris-inspired beauty was created from Dover royalty-free clip art:

And this one, while not applique, was amazing. I am a sucker for hexies anyway, but the binding on this one blew me away! Here's the front:

And then here's a shot of the back edge folded over.  She created a binding of hexie flowers that she attached to the front right sides together like you would a normal binding, and then folded it over and appliqued it to the back.  Unbelievably cool!

Now back to the less exciting world of my current project list.... I forgot to mention in my last post that I also started a log cabin quilt in April. I finished the first 12 blocks of what will become a queen-sized quilt.

I've decided that my OMG project for May will be my Magic of Christmas. I posted a picture of my design wall last week - it is ready to be stitched together - so my goal for May will be to get the top pieced and the applique designed and prepped.

I am dying to applique after all of the inspiration last week, so I will also continue plugging along at my Mosaics project. I need to get back to my rug, too - I have to get those hooking muscles in shape before we head off to Janice's in June! 

Monday, April 30, 2018

April OMG Update

In spite of having what felt like extremely limited time in my sewing room this month I actually accomplished quite a bit. I'm very happy to report that I have converted the piles of Starlite Skies blocks into a top, so I am four for four on my OMG projects!

It still needs to be pressed and there are a thousand threads to pick off of it - that sashing fabric was really stringy - but other than that it is ready for quilting. I would have liked it to be a bit wider - it's currently right at 90"- but decided to exclude the optional border as it is already 106" long. I really hate super long quilts since all of our beds have footboards. My husband suggested bucking convention and adding borders to the sides only but I am pretty sure that would be too much for my symmetry-loving OCD brain to handle!

I haven't decided how I am going to quilt this one. I feel like it needs to be custom rather than an edge-to-edge design, but I have no idea how to quilt those blocks. It might be a while before I load it on the longarm.

This weekend I finished blocks 89 & 90 for Triangle Gatherings. I had only prepped enough HSTs to get to block 90 since that was the original number Lisa had thrown out for the total. I spent a little time in EQ over the weekend and figured out a nice setting that will work with what I have so I decided to skip the last 9 blocks. I have a black fabric that will be perfect for setting this one but will need a few more yards of it so I will be searching for that this week.

I also finished my last Magic of Chrismas block over the weekend.  I had been putting this one off because of the teeny tiny triangles - the little HSTs are 1/2" finished.

As always my photos are terrible - the lighting in my house is not ideal for photography, apparently.  The actual color of my background fabric is somewhere between the block above and the picture below.  Anyway, I saw an absolutely gorgeous version of this quilt in Paducah with wool applique in the center and border and have decided to use a similar setting. This layout uses 42 blocks. I thought about going larger since I have 49 blocks, but once I figured out that I would need to make more to maintain symmetry it was easy to decide to just orphan a few. My design wall isn't quite large enough so this is a bit sloppy, but here's the idea. (Now that I see the photo I see a couple of blocks that need to be moved...)

This will be a bit challenging to piece since some of the more elaborate pieced blocks are a little larger than they are supposed to be....apparently my seam is a little too scant...but I am determined to get it together.  I'm a little frightened of trying to applique after quilting but the one in Paducah was so fantastic that I feel like I want to give it a shot. I still need to come up with my applique design and figure out the quilting so this will be another one that takes a while.

I'm linking up with Elm Street Quilts to share my April OMG finish and now need to decide what I want to choose as a focus project for May. Obviously it should be the one above, but there are a few others calling my name...