Sunday, May 24, 2015

Who done it?


It took me four months but I finally finished Benjamin Biggs block #5.  And then it was hit by vandals.  Nasty red ones.


Something bled but I'm not sure if it was the red print or the red thread.  I've used the red thread in other blocks but I soaked this one longer -- I had things to do so I just left it in the bowl of cold water.  I don't use any fabric without prewashing, but I know it can run even after that.  I soaked the block in a bowl of cold water twice and the water in the bowl had a definite pink look to it both times.  I added a color catcher the second time.  The center of the block was a mess after the first rinse so I ran to the store to buy a box of color catchers.  After the second rinse the center was better, water was pink, and the color catcher was still white. There was more red along the edges of the applique.  I can't figure it out.


So, here is BBiggs #5.  It's finished, it's pink, and it's staying that way, at least for now.  It took me ages to stitch it.  When I put it with the other blocks the background looked a little different so I am thinking I cut it from the wrong fabric in my stash.  If I get this quilt finished I am going to pretend it was a group project - me and all of my other personalities.  This one will be called "Elle Woods."  If you ever saw Legally Blonde you will know what I mean.


Scene of the crime.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Can you imagine...



Can you imagine if you were one of the circle of quilters that sat down to the frame to help...let's call her Eliza...Eliza to quilt her quilt and she said this is what she was planning?  Basically, our girl Eliza told the rest of the group they were going to cover the entire top with their stitches.  Or, do you think Eliza sat alone stitching obsessively away?  Whichever way it happened, I sure am glad to get to appreciate her/their work today.  I've seen better "Prince's Feathers" and I've seen fancier quilting designs, but for shear number of stitches, this is a good one.


I also really like the flowers scattered across the top.  They remind me vividly of the way people toss flowers onto an ice rink after a skater finishes her performance.  Why, the swirling Prince's Feathers could even be that skater twirling away.  Hope she doesn't trip on the flowers laying all over the ice.


Our imaginary quilt buddies should have had a bit of a clue about dear Eliza's obsessive nature when they saw the 38 little green circles around this one stem.

Eliza is merely a figment of my imagination and any similarity to real quilters today is purely coincidental.  Seriously, does anyone quilt like this today?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

And...one...more

It's basketball season...March madness.  The TV in my house is spouting the sound of fans cheering, sneakers squeaking, and announcers talking, talking, talking.  My hubby likes tournament season but it drives me a bit mad.  Still, some of it seeps into my head which is why I could not stop thinking, "and...one," after I finished binding one more small quilt as my alma mater lost its NCAA tournament game.  I almost dunked my quilt when celebrating the turning off of the TV.  At least for a few days.


This is a reproduction of a courthouse steps doll quilt I saw on Pinterest.  It was a snap to put together and has been waiting for its binding for about 18 months.  When I started looking for the "right brown," I was reminded that red goes with everything.  And so it does.  It is also a very cheery color to stitch and I think I set a record getting this one sewn down.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Vernal Equinox


It's here!  It's spring!  It's snowing!  Actually, it's a chilly but sunny spring day today but we did have a wintry day on the official vernal equinox.  In spite of that I was cheery with my new quilt I bought from Bellwether Dry Goods.  I've talked about Bellwether's quilting service in other posts but this time I could not resist a Bellwether made quilt appropriately named, "Vernal Equinox."


It is a new-made quilt from vintage fabrics hand quilted by a woman from their network of Amish and Mennonite quilters.  I love the combo of piecing and applique.  Doesn't it just look like spring?


I took advantage of our late snowstorm to finally finish a few small quilts that just needed their binding.  The two "big" ones were quilted by Bellwether and I did the little one.  I love a hand quilted quilt - no matter what size it is.


This "T" quilt was a kit from Temecula Quilt Company.  I tried taking a picture of the back so you can see the hand quilting.


This red and green four patch has some "issues."  Notice how it is a bit off center?  Apparently, I need to take that "measure twice, cut once" maxim more seriously.  I didn't realize until I was rounding the last corner of binding that I made one side at least 1/2" bigger than the other side.  At that point I needed to decide whether to take off the whole binding and cut the quilt or leave it.  No real decision at that point.  I left it.  Of course, it bugs me now but this quilt is destined to be displayed folded.  I also think the corners need some diagonal lines quilted into them to get rid of the poochy looking fabric.  Right now, however, I just don't want to look at this one.


Another one of these.  I just keep making them because they are such a good way to use up those last little bits of fabric.  I've already got another one ready to be basted and quilted.

I'm binding one last little quilt.  I told Mother Nature I can get it done without her help.  Hopefully, there will be more to post soon.

Monday, March 9, 2015

My holy grail? Nearly!


What do I like most in an antique quilt?  Turkey red fabric, applique, great quilting, half square triangles, fleur-de-lis, excellent craftsmanship?  Yes, yes, and yes some more.  But most of all, I like a quilt that gives me a glimpse into the interpersonal relationships among individuals who shared sentiments of family and friendship.  Today, I got one!  The picture is not fantastic but I just couldn't wait until I had daylight and an opportunity to "stage the shot" to share this new friend.


I've already started looking up the names on the quilt - there are names for both men and women - and so far had the best luck with the surname Shindel.  There is no date I can find on the quilt.  But, thanks to Google and Ancestry.com, I believe this quilt comes from Lebanon, Pennsylvania and is true to the c. 1850 date given to it by the seller.  I am anxiously waiting for any more information that might come from the original owner.  It was a family quilt and I hope I can find out which family.  It might give me a clue as to the quilt's purpose (other than to please the heck out of me).


There is a total of 25 names inked onto the center circles of the fleur-de-lis motifs.  Happily, all are still dark and clear even if not very easy to decipher the handwriting.  There are only four different Turkey reds used (at least I think - I only gave it one fairly quick look) and the border almost perfectly alternates two of those fabrics used in the applique motifs.  Not absolutely perfectly - they get out of order a little.



I particularly like the double line quilting ON the applique.  It's not echo quilting in the background but a perfectly stitched line along the edge of the fleur-de-lis and then again about 1/8" inside the outer line.  It looks great on the back of the quilt.  The rest of the block is quilted in a fairly ordinary grid.


This is a photo of the full quilt taken by the seller.  I think you can see why I like it so much!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Benjamin Biggs block #4


This is a very quick post to show that I finished another Benjamin Biggs block!  This is number 4 and I am already stitching on block #5.  I love red and green applique and the folky-ness of this pattern so am determined to see it through to the end - hopefully before the end of the decade.  Only slightly joking on the timing.  My grandmother's family originated in the U.S. in the same region that the names on this quilt are from: Frederick County, Maryland.  So, I'm practicing my inking on cloth abilities and hope to write her family names on my blocks.

Fast and Easy Scrappy Four Patches


I'm still messing about with four patches.  The blue and white quilt isn't finished but since I started cutting strips for this other project before the blue and white I'm technically not starting something new.  Ahhh, rationalization.  

I wanted to share this technique for easily making very scrappy four patches so I had to work on this other project.


I keep a stash of 1.5" wide cut strips so they are ready when inspiration strikes.  Some days, cutting strips is all I can manage.


I am making 2" x 2" finished square four patches so I cut my strips into 1.5" x 3" rectangles.  I have a pile of darks and a pile of lights.


I found something I actually like about my new sewing machine.  I can move the needle position just a titch to the right.  Moving the needle from the center position to one place to the right gives me a scant 1/4" seam.  It's really cut down on my frustration with this machine.


Pair up a dark and light 1.5" x 3" strips and stitch together on the long edge with that scant 1/4" seam.


Press open with the seam toward the dark piece.


Stitch the pairs together into a long strip.  Alternate the position of the darks in your strips.


Here is a group of strips I made.  For ease of handling I sew about 8 pairs into one long strip.  Do not press these seams.  That comes later.


Lay your strip on your cutting mat and flip the first pair of strips over so that right sides are together and the stitched seam is on your left.


Measure 1.5" and cut.


After this first cut you will have a four patch (piece in center) and two squares sewn together (piece on left).  Set the latter aside for the moment.


Now flip the next little section over so the seam is to your left and cut another 1.5" section.


Keep cutting and flipping and cutting again for the whole strip.  When you get to the end, you will have another piece with just two squares.


                           That can be sewn to the piece you have from the start of this process.


Now is the time to press the seam.  I like to press it open.  It's quick and the four patch lays flatter.


The reason I like to sew with a scant 1/4" seam is so that it is just a bit bigger than I need and I can trim the finished four patch so that it measures exactly 2.5".  Now is the time to trim up the four patches.


It's not much but I got this little pile from trimming about 24 four patch blocks.


Voila!  A bunch of scrappy four patches that are all different and I didn't have to mess with a lot of little squares.  I think I'm going to need 320 of them for the quilt I want to make.
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