Finally A Finished Quilt Top!

@#%*?&#! And whew! Piecing the Jack’s Chain quilt took way longer than I planned. I certainly let other projects get in the way of finishing this top, but happily it is mostly done.

One thing slowing me down, was that the thread on my sewing machine began breaking again. I threaded and re-threaded and re-threaded the machine. I wound a new bobbin, or two! I tried different threads. I changed the needles several times. And finally, I went out and bought Dual Duty thread!!!!!! I am a bit of a purist and I like to sew with cotton thread on cotton fabrics, but I have run out of patience. The threads are breaking in between the chain sewing I am doing. I would say it was the quality of the thread, but as I said, I did try several brands. The bottom thread still seems to be breaking between the chaining, but the Dual Duty on the top is holding. Any ideas on why that might be happening?

I have declared that the top is done. I cannot make myself sew one more nine patch square at this point, so the nice pattern will only be on the center on the bed. (I cropped the picture above so that it looks like the pattern covers the whole bed.) I have had it on and off of the guest room bed the last few days and it just looks stupid – like a project half done. So instead of a bed quilt, I will finish it as a lap quilt. Now I just need to decide on borders.

And here is a close-up of some of the squares. The nine patches are mostly bright hand dyed fabrics, though I did add some of my batik stash. I’m relieved to have made the decision to down-size it and it certainly will be easier and faster to quilt. I will add it to the big stack of tops to be quilted!

 

A Little Project for Valentine’s Day

I live in a wonderful neighborhood! We are far enough away from “stuff”, that we do a lot of things together. I recently started a craft group that meets once a month, for those who are inclined. One month I will be showing them a project and the next they will bring something of their own to work on. I kicked off the year with counted cross stitch – but – cross stitch on perforated paper! I started to make samplers for baby gifts on the paper many years ago when I saw a framed sampler in an antique store. This article in Victoriana magazine on the history of using paper says that it was done as early as the mid 1800’s!

You do need to hold the paper carefully, but other than that, it is the same as using fabric.

Perforated paper

I colored in some heart patterns for Valentine’s Day and copied them off. I think the thread stitched on paper look so special.

Perforated paper cross stitch

And then because so many ladies decided to come, I went to Hobby Lobby to buy some more paper. In the cross stitch aisle, I found a lot of interesting items with perforated holes, including a tiny box! What a cute little gift for someone on the 14th. Most of the group decided to do something with the box and then I discovered that there was room for 10 stitches…which meant the hearts could not have one point and be stitched in the center…

Tiny perforated paper box

So we fussed around with the colored pencils and graph paper, and finally discovered that if 4 tiny hearts were arranged symmetrically, asymmetrically, it would look perfect! (two empty stitches on the left side, three on the right…)

Heart pattern

It was a fun morning and I know a lot of ladies are finishing up their teeny, tiny projects.

P.S. Look what’s blooming today!

First daffodils

Upcoming Fun at Island Quilters!

I have been asked by my friend Beth to lead hexie make and take sessions at her Hilton Head Island store, Island Quilters next weekend. We will be doing English Paper Piecing; a technique where fabric is basted around a paper template. It’s quick and accurate and addictive. Her description made me laugh – Debbie will tell you about her favorite subject – hexagons! It’s true, I do love them, and I am looking forward to sharing this passion with other quilters. Island Quilters is under new ownership and I wrote about it here.

I have been making a lot of hexie units in preparation for the make and take. We’re hoping for a big turnout and I need to keep ahead of the students, like cooking shows and their swap outs. Each participant will get a little sample pack with EPP pieces and bits of fabrics and learn how to sew them. (Big thanks to Paper Pieces for sending us these packs!) Instead of just making random hexies, I do want to make something, so I chose this medallion pattern, which will take shape as the weekend progresses.

Medallion hexie pattern

There are so many ways to be creative with hexagons! You can play with the patterns of the fabric, like the swirling flower on the right. You can make fun shapes, like the (purple) frog’s foot. You can layer the different sizes. You can cut the hexie in half and use two fabrics on each hexagon. And stars and diamonds, oh my! All of this is just Beginning Hexie. Check out Pinterest and Google for a zillion ideas.

Hexie ideas

But the best fun is getting out your colored pencils and drawing a design to make…

Star hexie pattern

In case you are in the area, or know someone who will be, here’s the information:

Island Quilters store, located on Hilton Head island, January 27 and 28

The sessions will start at 10 AM and will be about 45 minutes long.

If you would like to reserve a time, call the store at 843.842.4500.

Next Steps on Rock Around the Block – Jack’s Chain Quilt

Now that December has come and gone, I am trying to spend more time in the studio – and it’s back to the Jack’s Chain quilt. Knowing that I did not have enough of the background blue hand dyed fabric, I had to fiddle around with a final layout for the top. I finally decided that a center 3 square by 5 square strip, with a strip on either side using the new fabric would work for me.  I shopped around a few quilt stores and found a darker, but similar hand dyed blue.The center strip of the quilt top is completed and I am working on the rows with the new fabric. This pattern is not as circular as the original, more difficult pattern; it is more wavy.

Working on strips

A new addition is little hexies that I have hand appliqued in the middle of every other block. {Looking at the photograph, I am now wondering if I should make one for every middle, but will wait until I have finished with all the blocks…}

Hexie middles

It has been hard to find time to work on it, but I am back to making one square a day.

Fun Finds & News…

The other day I had an appointment in Flat Rock, NC and afterwards, drove to Hendersonville to my favorite antiques’ mall. Last time I was there, I whizzed through and didn’t find anything of interest, but this time, there were so many fun things to peruse. I thought I would share.

First up is this amazing lunch box. Not only did I love the charming motifs, but the handle was leather. The tag said it was from the 1960’s and though I am sure I did not see every lunchbox in that decade, I don’t remember any with a leather handle. (Anyone else?) How elegant. The patterns were different on both sides too… I believe I carried a red plaid lunch box that probably was my sister’s. I would have adored one like this.

1960's lunchbox

Keeping to that era, I found a cute sewing machine for the Junior Miss! I learned on my mother’s Singer Golden Touch & Sew, but I am sure I would have enjoyed using this one. I had never seen small and miniature sized sewing machines, until I taught some Japanese women to quilt when we lived in Shanghai. They all brought tiny machines – one was not electric and the wheel needed to be turned by hand.

Singer Junior Miss

And this little car made me think of one of my grandmothers. She had a (gigantic) Chrysler Imperial that was the peachy color of this tiny car! It looked so trendy parked under the car port of her Winter home in Florida. You did not want to drive with her though – she was about 5′ tall and looked through the steering wheel.

Tiny colorful car

This picture is of the (fabulous) top of a tea and coffee tin from Holland. I love the red and those of you who know me will understand why I wanted to buy it so much… I finally left it as it was quite big and I could not really find a use for it. {sigh}

Dutch tea & coffee tin

There were quite a few very nice quilts to look at. This is a yo-yo quilt, sewn together and lined for use on a bed. Quite a beauty and tons of work! For those who research and enjoy old fabric, this certainly is a treasure trove of a woman’s scraps. I photographed it for you, Kerry. Such a disappointment that you only made a table runner…

Antique yo-yo quilt

If you look carefully at this quilt, you will see that it is made of shirting fabric. It’s quite well used so it’s hard to see.When I was a docent at The Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, we had a whole show of quilts like this one. Some of the quilters attended the show and were former Southern textile mills workers, who made shirts. At the end of the day, they would “dumpster dive” and grab all the fabric scraps to make quilts. This pattern is a log cabin.

Shirting quilt

And last but not least, I have been mulling over how to present our news in a clever way, and here it is!

Retirement cross stitch

My DH Peter retired in December and so this year will be a whole new experience for us! He has worked long and hard to “provid for me in the style to which I was accustomed” as my father requested that he do when he asked for my hand in marriage. Congratulations and thanks, dear one… let the adventure begin!

 

 

 

A Thought For The New Year

Hollyhocks

Begin doing what you want to do now.

We are not living in eternity.

We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand –

and melting like a snowflake.

                                                 ~Sir Francis Bacon

Dreaming of Christmas

Me and MLW

A Florida Christmas many, many moons ago!

Here I am hanging the wonderful (Vogue Knitting) stocking that my mother made and my cousin with her “Florida stocking”! My grandparents wintered not far from Disney World and each year sent money to their daughters for a trip to Florida – or to put in the savings account. The two of us, the youngest of all the cousins, loved the (overnight) trip down on the train, from Trenton, New Jersey. Seeing poinsettia growing in the ground, having molded ice cream every night for dessert at the clubhouse and generally being spoiled by all the older people in the neighborhood was our idea of great fun.

Hope you all have a special Christmas…

Gingerbread House Fun!

Finding a Christmas Tree by Julie Bauman

Finding a Christmas Tree by Julie Bauman

 

Year of the Rooster by Gail Oliver

Year of the Rooster by Gail Oliver

 

Poinsettiaville by Glenda Tant

Poinsettiaville by Glenda Tant

These fun gingerbread constructions are the prize winners in The National Gingerbread House Competition at the Grove Park Inn, located in Asheville, NC. The Inn is the perfect place to visit in December and was bustling with guests and those of us who came for dinner and to see the houses. Below is the grand prize winner! Beatris is from Ontario Canada and I have been wondering ever since, how she got her lovely creation to North Carolina!

Dream House by Beatriz Muller

Dream House by Beatriz Muller

Aren’t they great?

Late Fall Colored Placemats

To my mind, Fall has two sets of colors – early Fall when everything is bright and sparkly and late Fall, when the colors are weather-worn and dull. I know many people don’t enjoy late Fall or Winter, but I do! It’s so nice to be indoors and making. (The current trendy name for creating, or crafting, which I do dislike.)

I said I was not weaving rag items for a while, but I have various guests coming who will enjoy a weaving demo and one in particular who is staying long enough and might enjoy weaving a runner or some placemats for herself. I have changed things up a bit though – I’m making some finer ones. I enjoyed the 8/2 cotton that I used for the dish cloths, so I sent for these yummy Late Fall colors from Halcyon Yarn. The color is off a bit – the tube that looks grey is actually a paper bag sort of brown.

Late Fall placemtas

With a finer warp, I need to use finer strips of fabric, so I have been cutting them 3/4″ wide. Here is placemat #1 woven and hemstitched.

Late Fall placemat

I am writing this on a cool, cloudy morning, hoping for some more rain. When I came upstairs, I pulled this cat bed out of the closet and I see Jasmine has already claimed it. I hope you are warm and cozy wherever you are!

Jasmine's basket