Thursday, December 20, 2018

Wrapping Up the Christmas Projects

 Grandson Sam Mo gets a quilt this year.  He's is Marquette MI at Northern Michigan State.  I thought this quilt was finished last January, but then I started to add some hand-quilting to it and couldn't stop.  I love these fabrics and of course this Trip Around the World design.  Sam's dad Mark has a similar quilt.  And you know what?  I'm not finished with these fabrics.  Here's what I have left - and whether I make another trip or do something else, I am eager to finish off this group of fabrics. And keep whatever I make!

This has also been the season of the Hampton Weeked Bag by V and Co. I love its over-the-shoulder or cross-body feature, thanks to the adjustable strap.  I just heard last night from niece Molly about how much she loves her.  And that's how I feel about mine.  The zippered pocket as well as the magnetic closures are great features, too.  I just have two more to complete before Christmas, and they are almost finished. 

My doctor had her first baby almost 8 months ago,and her husband has fallen in love with the baby quilt I made for little Veer.  He asked her to ask me to make a second quilt, a bit bigger in greys, navy, and white (omg, I love this palette so much).  She told him I was sick and probably didn't have time.  But of course this is all part of the surprise as she commissioned this quilt and was delighted that I got it to her before the holidays. 

  What I have made the most of this year has been microwave cozies.  I made some at the Fall Retreat in Racine.  When I actually began to use the ones I made, I realized how very useful they are.  When I finally washed the ones I made, I realized they needed more quilting than I was doing.  So I have modified this pattern to suit my way of sewing and my way of using them.  Currently I am trying to modify this pattern to use for serving bowls and am also experimenting with using Insul-Brite instead of cotton or wool batting. 

No talk of future sewing plans today.  However, my studio floor is covered with piles of greys in all hues.  With one deep red added.  2018 hasn't been a blogging year, but it's been a sewing year.  I'm eager to lay out the various projects for 2019 and get busy on them.  And my table of  SewPowerful fabrics is begging for some attention.  But now?  It's time to enjoy the beauty of the season. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

A Surprise and Two Trips Around the World

 What a great feeling to pull off a surprise that delights the recipient.  One of the quilties is turning 40 on the last day of 2018.  To honor her end of her old age of youth and her entry into the youth of old age, we did low-volume stars and snowflakes.  These blocks were pretty enough, but the quilt came to life with Sarah E's impeccable quilting.  This is one of those quilts, like all others, that needs to be touched and stroked.   Jennifer was beyond pleased, in her own quiet understated way.  What a privilege to be a part of this group of women.

My doctor had her first baby 7 months ago, and of course I made her a quilt - here it is. Her husband loves this quilt, has washed it a lot, and has asked her to ask me for a second quilt to keep in rotation, maybe a bit bigger.  While she has told him I'm too busy, she has told me to use navy, greys, and whites.  And I'm happily quilting this one.  I will get this commission to her in plenty of time for the holiday and do a proper picture when it's finished.  Do I need to say how much I love this pattern and these fabrics?

Doing the binding on the surprise quilt took several evenings, and now I'm finishing a Christmas present for grandson Sam. He goes to school at Northern Michigan State in Marquette, Michigan - average snowfall is 300 inches. I thought I was finished with it last February, but I keep adding more stitches. It's a great combination of machine and hand quilting, an effect I really like.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Gift Bags for Quilties

Every holiday my quilty friends do such clever things for one another.  I tell myself that I'm not a fitsy-fartsy sewer - with the exception being the Sew Powerful period purse project I'm so engaged with.  But this summer I came across this Suzy's Sack pattern and bought it.  Armed with my rolls of zipper tape, some small lobster claws, and the perfect fabric that says "cut sew repeat" I made these bags in November.  The two pink ones are for the daughters of Quilty Beth.  One of the girls has worn her bag to dinner already.  Quilty Melissa filled each bag with a small jar of New Mexican honey.  The perfect quilty gift.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Only Post for November!

 November was a month of constant sewing, most of which I haven't been able to blog about without ruining surprises.  I travelled to New Mexico with a quilty and made three of these bags, The Hampton Weekend Bag from V and Co., for the household I visited.   It's a great pattern - think shopping bag that can be worn over the shoulder or cross-body style.  I carried 5 butternut squash from from the final Farmer's Market of the season easily!

We drove to Orlando for Thanksgiving, and these bags were hostess present for my SIL Chris and my friend Dorothy, who moved to The Villages.  We also spent a lot of time visiting with niece Molly.  So everyone got a shopping bag AND microwave cozies, which have been quite the hit!

(A big insult on the day we arrived home - the driveway had been plowed, but the back door was frozen shut...)

In keeping with my year-long goal of working on all my UFO's, I came across this Christmas Advent calendar.  It's a very clever panel of fabric that had all the daily pockets included.  It is just a matter of cutting them out, doing a big of ironing and top stitching - and of course the quilting and the binding.  One of my new quilty friends has three small children, and I wondered whether this might be appropriate for her.  My inner voice told me it was.  And shortly after she received it, she sent me a picture of it with all the pockets filled.  That inner voice is sometimes right on target!

This project was a constant nightly companion for almost a month.  But it's not really mine to blog about.  My Chicago Modern Quilt Guild is, as it does yearly, contributing a charity quilt that will be displayed at QuiltCon 2019 in Nashville.  This quilt is the brainstorm of Heidi Parkes and Heather Kinion.  Each square of tiny piecing represent something about a hospital bed.  I'm amazed at the depth of emotion in many of these blocks.  And it is being hand quilted in a sashiko big stitch.  I was very happy working on this, although it is a beast to sew through.  I became very creative with my finger gear!

I've done so much more but can't blog about just yet.  Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Projects: Past, Present, and Future

 Back in 2007 I was teaching a Quilt-As-You-Go technique by Sharon Pederson, which she calls Reversible Quilting.  Each one of these hexagons was hand-pieced, worked on while sitting with my college roommate Dodie as she was being treated for her Stage 4 Lung Cancer.  Here's a link showing the quilt I made for her.  And these blocks were left over.  To prove to the class I was teaching that reversible quilting can be used with any shape, I worked on this quilt.

Fast forward 10 years.  Why did I put this away for so long when it was almost completed?  Who knows.  I probably saw something shinier and brighter.

And guildster Debbie Pine's meeting last year about UFO's has spurred me on, too.  (Thank you, Deb - next up is that damn medallion quilt...)

So what to do with this quilt?  It's an odd size - 48" x 70".  And as pretty as it is on both sides, you can't see both sides at once.  But still.  It needs a home. 

In the mid-80's when I was teaching at Hyde Park HS, I had some terrific students.  One of them was Bridgette.  We have become FB friends for several years, and it's been a joy to see her no longer as a bright-shiny teenager but as a woman full of grace, wisdom, and generosity.  She had some terrific damage from one of the recent hurricanes on the East Coast and lost a lot.  When she said she was interested in this quilt, I was thrilled.  It will be on its way to her as soon as her home repairs are complete.   Because these blocks are connected to Dodie, it is special.  And I can't think of someone more special than B to share this with. 
The quilted back of a block

The hand-pieced and machine-quilted front of the same block.

Quilted border, done by me, added after the body was together

Quilting done by me using quilting paper

Meanwhile, I have also been working on more shopping bags.  This pattern, Hampton Weekend Bag, is basically the size of a Mors Bag. But:
  • it has an adjustable strap that can be worn cross-body
  • there is one layer of interfacing
  • there is a zippered pocket inside. 
I'm heading for a few days with a quilty and then J and I are travelling to Orlando for Thanksgiving.  These bags?  Good for hostess gifts - even though one household has said they need no more bags.  Wait until they see this one!

This table of fabrics represent projects of the sewing future.  These are all for Sew Powerful.  The hope is that there will be over 8000 purses unboxed in November.  I sent off my box last week, and I already have six completed for the next deadline.  I am hoping to top what I sent off.

Busy hands, happy hands - past, present, and future.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Adventures? You Betcha!

 I think about the title of this blog.  While what I do may not be daringly adventuresome, my adventure certainly has longevity. And it's highly focused on quilts, bags, and purses.  Quilty buddy Mimi gave me a big pile of wonderfully Asian-ish blues.  I took two of them to pilot this unstructured bag, Hampton Weekend Bag.  It went together quickly - I can see keeping something like this in the car for small shopping trips.  There's a magnet closure, a little zippered pocket inside, and a little slip pocket inside.  The strap has a slider so that it can be a cross-body bag or an over-the-shoulder bag.

Even though I just sent off 34 purses, I needed to make more.  These are an experiment with the various styles of this cross body pattern.  The top three have a gusset joining the front and back.  The bottom three have boxed corners.  They are slightly easier to do. Pink Castle Fabrics in Ann Arbor has a lovely sale with these fabrics at $6 a yard, which is terrific.  It's fun to work with coordinating prints.  Since the whole purpose of this Menstrual Hygiene Management program through Sew Powerful is to encourage young ladies to stay in school, I think the back flap fabric is just so perfect.  I just ordered some more - a lot of future purses are going to include this alphabet fabric.  I am putting purses away (ha, as if...) for a few days and moving on to a couple of other projects.

 As I was working on the previous black and white quilt, I cut 2" logs from the scraps to start a log cabin.  These 9 blocks are on the design wall, and I don't love this.  I think the problem is that the patterns create a "floral" or busy quality.  I am going to work on calming these blocks down by adding more fabrics that read solid.  And as I made this decision, I remember what I love about log cabins:  the variety in layout options.  And it dawned on me that if I had some grey and white blocks and perhaps some black and grey blocks, the design possibilities will be so much more interesting.  I love working on a project like this - one with no particular outcome.  Below is the same layout only with a white diamond in the center. 
Lucky for me that I have a huge amount of grey scraps!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Design Decisions

My collection of black and white fabrics has been growing, and I have been looking for projects.  One for sure is going to be a log cabin, using 2" logs and creating 14" blocks.   I've also been eyeing a quilt of half-square triangles.  Here's that inspiration picture.

So, I began making half-square triangles using a separator strip between the two triangles, like in the inspiration picture.  And here's what I wound up with:
These blocks are in a symmetrical barn-raising design.  And - I don't love it.  What about adding a bit of color? 
I instagrammed this picture and asked "Color - or no."  The overwhelming majority said to for sure add color.  One friend suggested maybe just adding one color.  But the comment that hit home with me asked why add color to a quilt of black and white?  Let the black and white speak. 
So I tried putting the blocks on point, around a center rectangle of smaller half-square triangles.  And adding strips of a greyish-white fabrics. This quilt is going to be for our bedroom.  Using a center rectangle means this design will be bed-shape.  I'm happy with how this is going!

 While dithering about the above issue, I did some simple sewing.  John asked for one of his t-shirts to be turned into a Mors bag and used it for a door prize at the Brookfield Jazz Society. 

And look!  I made bowl cozies.  I did roll my eyes when I first heard of them, but then I saw one and how useful it is.  These have been around for a while, but they are new to me.  Here's the pattern I used.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Reversible Quilting: A Process Post

***If you're looking for pretty pictures, skip this post which is a tutorial***

This is pretty, right?  But here's the problem...

 None of these blocks are connected to one another.  They are lovely - both machine and hand-quilted.  But nothing is attached.

You can see what the backing of the blocks looks like in this picture.

This method is from Sharon Pederson's Reversible Quilts: Two at a Time.  And she has a follow-up book More Reversible Quilts.  I must stress that this method isn't easier or harder than approaching a quilt in a traditional method.  It's an alternative that I have found works for me.  Having a walking foot is essential!

Here's my little cheat sheet reminder of what I need for this process.
  • 2" strips for the front connection
  • 1.25" strips for the back connection
Prepare the front strips by ironing them in half, as if you were preparing binding.

Cut strips the length of your block.  In my case, I cut strips 15.5" long.

The white strips are 1.25".  Those are for my back.  The print strips are 2" and some are ironed in half.

Note:  the measurement of the width of these strips is slightly different from what Sharon suggests in her book.  My sewing is not as accurate as hers, and I find I needed my strips a bit wider that what she suggests.

Lining up the raw edges, pin the folded strip onto the front of your block. 
Flip the block over and clip the narrow backing strip to the same edge you pinned the front bit.

Check your clipping on the front side as well, making sure you have caught all layers.

You can use pins here.  I have found the clips make this slighter easier and more accurate. 
Now sew a 1.4" seam through all the layers:

  • folded top strip
  • block 
  • single back strip
Remove the pins and clips as you go.  
Ironing the back strip out helps with the next step although it's not absolutely necessary.  Because I batted these blocks with wool, they are kind of spongy.  The ironing tamps that down for a bit. 
With the back sides together and the block you've been working on on the top, pin/clip  the single strip to the body of the next block.  You're not going through as many layers, but you have less room to do it in. 

Be patient - the magic is about to happen...

And sew along that seam - see below...

Open up your blocks and go to the ironing board. 

First, tug gently and make sure the edges of both blocks abut (my favorite vocab word with freshmen - "Hey, she said butt!).  Press the edges down. 

Now press the folded flap over this seam.  And pin this flap in place, covering up all the raw edges. 

Topstitch this flap down as close to the fold as possible.  

Admire your handiwork. 

Take a deep breath.

Repeat until your rows are connected.

You will find rolling your quilt handy at certain points.

Here all my rows are connected horizontally.  Now?  Use this same method to join row to row. 

Cut strips the width of your rows.  For this one, it was 62". 

Just use lots of pins and clips.

It's the same process.

Your rolls become longer...

Sometimes I employ the "double-roll" method, especially when joining the last two big pieces of the quilt into one.

Some tips/advice: 

  • Practice this technique on small bits, making your own "cheat sheet" before you tackle a real project.
  • Work with a thread color that will disappear into the backing.  Sometimes my stitching was right on the connecting strip.  But sometimes it was on the backing.  
  • When you think this method is too hard, stop and remember what it's like to quilt a big quilt on your domestic machine.  This method?  Not easier or harder - just an alternative that has worked for me!