Friday, January 29, 2021

Quilting. Literally...

 

While I’m working on current projects, I’m always scheming future ones. These fabrics are a Japanese linen - I’m not sure how they will quilt and wash.  Their feel is so much different from the meaty softness of peppered shot cottons.   But the colors...I love them.


During 2019 I participated in a one block a week sew-a-long with the Canadian Quilters Association - #52blocks52weeks.  The weekly instructions were all in greyscale, which suited my scrap stash perfectly.  At the beginning of 2020, with a couple of extra blocks, I put what I had into a layout with generous sashing to make a napping quilt - 60” x 80”.  The quilting is simple, it’s batted with wool, and the backing is a wonderful soft muslin.  I like how it turned out.  And I may have a buyer. 




The other quilt I just finished quilting is from a charm pack of Zen Chic’s new line Quotation.  I love the other fabric lines she has, and playing with a charm pack lets me see all the fabrics without a huge financial investment.  This pattern was a fun one to do: cut each charm in half, mix up the halves, and insert a one-inch strip.  I think I will add some more border quilting based on what I’m seeing.  

While quilting at my Brother 1500 straight-stitch machine (which I lovingly refer to as my fake Juki), I worked at my Husqvarna on a paper-piecing project for Laura, one of my Chicago Modern Quilt Guild bee mates. I’m not crazy about paper-piecing, but you just cannot get more precise than with paper-piecing.  Speaking of bee projects, here’s a tentative layout of my tuning forks quilt - still missing blocks from a couple of mates...



Saturday, January 23, 2021

Some Political Peace

 I know our nation is not yet out of the woods. The contrast of the capitol attack on January 6 with the normalcy of the January 20 Inauguration of Biden and Harris is stark.  The majesty of all the events on Inauguration Day gives me great hope and some political peace.  The last four years with Trump at our nation’s helm - and those Republicans who enabled him - have been a shit storm.  Disregard for convention has been rampant.  But the three days of the Biden presidency point to a return to political sanity.  So still I sew, but with a deep sense of optimism.  



This quilt has been batted with wool and is incredibly soft.  It’s 60” x 80”.  







And of course more masks.  Still.









Combined with my sense of a growing political peace, my heart is rejoicing for two new lives coming into this world.  And for the baby quilts I’ll be making.  This one is an exclamation point quilt - Get Happy! - for my doctor’s second baby.  

The days are getting longer.  The sun shines more.  It’s still cold, and there are winter storms still to come. But in the paraphrased words of Keats, can Spring be far behind? 

                                                          







Thursday, January 14, 2021

Hand-Quilting Tools: What Works For Me

 


This quilt has been my nightly companion since December 11.  I think in another two weeks it will be finished.  I am loving the texture.  I am loving the sound of the thread being pulled through the three layers.  It's only been the past 6 years that I've been hand-quilting, and now it seems my day is missing something if I don't hand-quilt for a bit.  Let me share with you what I have found works for me.  I am left-handed and do things differently from others.  





My thread of choice is No 8 Perle Cotton.  JoAnn's is not a bad place to get the basic colors.  And you have to be careful because sometimes the No 8's and No 5's get mixed up.  No 5 is, in my humber opinion, just too thick to pull through the three layers.  These are usually $2.99 a ball.

There are fabulous colors of No 8 available, but going on-line has worked best for me.  See that cone of variegated red?  Evans brought that back from QuiltCon for me, and I do love it.  It specifically says Sashiko on it.  The way I learned to quilt was with beige Sashiko thread - think thin butcher's twine.  It's perfect for a primitive look, but it doesn't come in colors.







On to needles.  And Jen BB gave me the best tip:  No 5 Milliner's needles.  They are longish so that you can load 4 or 5 stitches on them.  The eye is just the right size for threading - I've become of master of this, with a lot of patience.  But they are hard to find.  Ordering from Amazon works best.  The packets at Joann's contain sizes from 3 (too large) to 9 (too small).  4, 5, and 6 are all compatible with my hands and skill set.  




On to finger protection.  By trial and error, I have learned that I need to keep something strong on my thumb for pushing and something grippy on my index finger for pulling.  Since my thumb both pushes and pulls, the protection has to be firm but also pliable.  My protection of choice are the black leather cap thimbles (Joann's) used in conjunction with the pink finger grips.  I keep one grip on my index finger and layer a pink grip and a black thimble on my thumb.  It is what works for me.  
Depending on the thickness and the layers, I may also add some little stick-em dots.  For the hand that is under the quilt helping with the tension, I wear nothing.  I have however developed a callous on my middle finger, the one that feels whether the needle has gone through all the layers.

Last but not least, bandaids.  Sometimes for gripping. Sometimes for stopping bleeds.  All I'm saying is keep them handy!  Next time?  maybe we'll talk about the actual process!









Happily Plugging Away


I love jelly rolls.  They are a reasonable way to place with a fabric collection, like this one - “quotation” by Zen Chic.  These colors are not one I gravitate towards, but I really like how this quilt turned out. It’s 60” x 80” and will be looking for its owner once it’s quilted.  And this will not be hand-quilted because the whites are all sort of heavy,  ot the kind of fabric I want to needle.  So I’ll baste this and put it in the “needs to be quilted”









I’m part of a little bee group in my Chicago Modern Quilt Guild, and December was my turn to be Queen Bee.  I asked my bee mates to make tuning fork blocks for my “Piano Tuner’s Daughter” quilt.  And these are finally starting to come in - these blocks are from 3 of us.  I asked for blocks that are 5.5”or 10.5” wide.  And that clever little Laura Hartrich also sent some that are 2.5” wide.  I love these and think the layout will be more interesting with this third size added.  To be continued as more blocks arrive.








And I’m still making masks.  


Saturday, January 2, 2021

Starting 2021 with a Big List of Unfinished Projects






I have a love affair with peppered shot cottons going on.  These are the leftovers from Cristina's quilt.  I couldn't bear to cut them up, so here's this terrific 80" x 80" quilt which I am hand-quilting. It will go to Ann Arbor and my niece Jen.  She went to Fordham and danced professionally in NYC for several years.  Now she is raising her children in a beautifully inclusive way.  This quilt will be perfect for their house.  And I love the touch of this quilt and the sound made as the needle pulls the No. 8 Perle cotton through the layers.  Look at the backing - I bought it years ago, probably because it was on sale, not knowing how I would want to use it.  This quilt?  Perfect. I'm two-thirds of the way through, which means I need to line up my next hand quilting project!
This has been long armed and just needs binding.
This 60” x 80” Chevron just needs quilting and binding.

This is the quilt of blocks made with the Canadian Quilters Association Sew-A-Long in 2019.  Blocks have all been connected, but the quilt needs quilting.

But this is my next hand-quilting project.  Just lots of low volume with a wall batting and an AGF backing.  It will be perfect to hold and fondle as soon as the first quilt above is complete.