Wednesday, December 22, 2010


At last!  Grandson's quilt is finished!  It is quilted, and the binding is finished.  Fortunately I had a box that exactly fit it as well!  This quilt is technically for his birthday, which falls on Christmas Eve, so I scrounged around the house for birthday wrapping paper.  No go.  What to do, what to do.  I didn't want to wrap his birthday present in Christmas paper, so I came up with a creative solution:

I made a pillowcase using some of the left over triangles and strips and a piece of blue and tan checked gingham.  Above is the front view and below is the side.  Hurray!  Now he has two gifts for his birthday!

Monday, December 20, 2010


Some people are wise.  They wrap their presents as they buy or make them.  Me, I like to look at them "naked" (the presents -- not me), imagining the faces of the people as they open them, happy with my selections, comfy surrounded by all my "loot."  So today, I needed to wrap them ALL.  Let me tell you, if you have never procrastinated like this, it is not a pretty sight.  After a few hours hunched over my cutting table and running around looking for boxes and more wrapping paper, and where are those darn bows anyway, I had this great pile of goodies, all spiffied up in their holiday finery, ready to greet and delight my loved ones.  And an aching back.  So I needed a cookie.  And a cup of cocoa.  There.  All better.

DH is usually loathe to wander into my studio for fear I will ask him to try on some article of clothing or hold something up for me to check length on, and I do confess that I have pirated him away from his own interests a time or two to hang curtains or rearrange furniture.  So I understand that when I am in there, I probably won't see him of his own volition.

However, he happened to go by the door as I was finishing ironing the top for young Chris' quilt, and he remarked how much he liked it.   DH is usually not the soul of subtlety, but I got the message.  Thank heavens I bought extra flannel!  Now I'm scrambling to make the second quilt a little sooner than anticipated, so here's a peek at the disarray on my sewing table.  Four strips done, one to go, and then assemble with strips of flannel, put on the border and quilt.  I have three more days to do it in.  I think I can... I think I can... I think I can....


Seven more LOONNNGGGG hours in the garage yesterday, bagging trash, photographing stuff to go on ebay, sweeping, moving stuff around to its proper place until -- voila! -- we have visible floor space!!!

Jet, our male dog, stayed with us as we worked almost all day.  He's a very people-y dog.  Wants to be with us as much as humanly (doggily?) possible.  We were so delighted to see so much floor after our labors that we turned up the radio and danced!  Right there, in our garage, on the once obscured floor!  Jet thought we were attacking each other and paced worriedly, but after he heard us laughing so much, he settled down.

If you will notice in the picture, you can see the '67 Chevy Nova tail to the right of Jet.  That was before we moved that car to the far left of the parking space we had just created.  Move a car?  How?  Well, you jack it up, put (HEAVY!) steel trays on steel wheels under the front wheels, then jack up the back end on a moveable jack and push with all your might until the blasted thing moves its carcass out of one space and into the other.  The front wheels came off their carriers three times during this process, and DH had to patiently jack up each side of the front of the car and reposition each carrier every time, but finally, it was done!!!

In this photograph you can see that the tail of the Nova is to the left now.  All that is left to clean out on this first major go-round are the few boxes you see on the right, which will be done sometime AFTER Christmas.  We are taking a well-earned break from garage cleaning 'till then. 

I almost have room for my car!!!  Oh frabjious day!!  Calloo!  Callay!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

Brrrrr! It is a frosty 27 degrees down here in the south. I'm looking longingly at Florida about now. Or maybe Honduras. Someplace warm. For now my studio will have to do. On to the next lesson on making this quilt.

The four strips, each  measuring 2 3/4" wide by the WOF, have been sewn together to create a strip that's about 9 1/2" high.  This strip in turn has been divided into 9 1/2" squares.  The squares are placed on the cutting table with their strips running in the same order, and then diagonals in each direction are cut.  My 23 sets of four strips yielded four squares each, or eight triangles each, for a total of 184 triangles.  Considering that I only need 13 triangles per strip in the finished quilt, and there are five  strips of triangles in the quilt, that makes 65 per quilt.  But if I want it to have 6 rows, then that would be 78 triangles per quilt.    Either way, I can make two twin bed quilts and still have enough triangles left over for a lap quilt or some other neat little project.

These are some of the strips.  Unfortunately, I ran out of the cream flannel, so I have to go shopping, which is not an easy thing to do since we live in EBF Virginia (don't ask me what that means -- I won't tell you if you don't already know.)  So I'll trek up to Walmart to see what they have.  Later this week we're going back to the Petersburg area to turn in our Verizon phones, which have NO service at all where we live.  Verizon is a wonderful service provider to all but 2% of the USA.  We lucky stiffs are among those blessed 2%, I am sorry to report, but at least it will get me near a JoAnn's if I can't find the flannel closer to home.

These are my scraps so far.  They look absolutely delicious!  I can't wait to make a pincushion or a table runner out of them!  I know I said I throw away scraps, and I do.  But I've always been a pushover for plaids...

Monday, December 13, 2010


Eldest son's eldest son, Chris, just got early acceptance into Virginia Tech!  I had promised him that I would make him a quilt for his bed at college, and as of this morning, I hadn't even started it yet.  Well, I had, several months ago, but I didn't like the colors for him after I got started, so I put it on the back burner.

So when I heard that he had made it into VA Tech, I jumped for joy, called him to congratulate him, and immediately began a search of my books and printouts for a quilt pattern that would look like a guy's quilt but still maintain the warm-and-fuzzies that grandmas are so famous for.  Most quilts appeal to women/girls.  Most quilting patterns are feathers and flowers and the like.  Men may admire them, but they don't want to be seen with them.  So I had to find a pattern AND fabric that was manly.

This is it, only I'm going to increase the size to make it big enough for a twin bed.  This pattern is called Tall Tales, and it's from the book More! Laps From Fats by Good Intentions.  And I had lots and lots of plaids, mostly in cotton flannels.  So this AM I cut 62 WOF (width of fabric) strips of the darker plaids and 30 of the lighter ones.  I then had this amazing pile of 92  two and three-quarter inch wide strips.

The rest of the day was spent sewing these into 23 sets of four strips each in preparation for cutting out the next step -- the triangles from which the long zig zaggy  strips are made.  They have been starched and pressed and are ready for tomorrow's efforts.

Hmmm.  I might have overdone it a little.  I might have enough for three quilts here.  We'll see how things go.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Man cave revisited

We're at it again, making a molehill out of a mountain.

This is the archery side of this particular work bench area in our garage.  The grey wall cabinet has many parts and pieces of arrows, sights, strings, quivers and the like.  Outside, under the wall cabinet sit two small desk top sets of drawers with various sizes and colors of fletches and nocks.  A fletch is a feather, and a nock is the very short plastic tube that holds the end of the arrow on the bow string.   It was my job to gather up all four of these little cabinets, two of which were going on ebay and two of which were being kept.  However, since I had moved the larger of the two that were to be kept first, when I came upon the two that were being sold, they looked like they were just one, larger cabinet.  The last thing DH said was not to tilt the cabinets forwards or all the drawers would fall out.  I knew this.  I had just picked up one successfully, hadn't I?  However, the second "one" was actually two, and, you guessed it, I dropped the lower cabinet.  The drawers obligingly slid open and poured out hundreds of colored nocks.  Rats.  Nocks come in many different sizes.  The only thing that keeps me from finding a bridge to jump off of today is that each size is a different color.  When I can actually get to the area where all the nocks spilled, I will have a fighting chance of getting them back into their proper drawers at least.  Meanwhile, I think I'll stick to rearranging the light bulbs in my hall cabinets.

The center of the bench is occupied by a wood lathe that has been refashioned into a tire lathe for go carts.  Don't ask me why this is important, but it has to do with contact area of the tire suface and ability to grip the track.  TMI for me. The left side of the bench has a wall cabinet that holds all DH's bullet making equipment.  Except gunpowder. 

Actually, DH doesn't make his own bullets anymore, but his gear is very like my fabric.  I have a hard time letting go of a piece that I liked alot when I bought it.  Even if I never use it, at least I still have it.  Some people are like that with scraps from their various projects, holding onto them for the memories.  My friend, Mary, actually uses her scraps effectively, as you can see on her blog, and so does guild buddy Jean, who has made 13 quilts for her "kids" (fosters) this Christmas from huge balls of scraps sewn into 2 1/2" ribbons that must be miles long!  Ya gotta admire that kind of dedication.

Me, I throw mine away.  I know, it's sacrilege.  I get it.  I really do.  But once I complete a project, I'm eager for new "faces" on my fabric.  Come to think of it, I wish DH could get rid of his unused tools (I know it's broken , but I can use it to stir paint with), equipment (one of these days when I retire, I'm gonna fix this), supplies (17 different car waxes is NOT too many!), odd pieces of metal (I can use that for welding!) and the like as easily as I can give up my fabric.

That brings us to this last mechanical wonder that hubby just assembled.  It looks like a short metal baby bathinette.  You know, similar to the softer kind our mothers bathed our baby brothers in that had a sling for the baby to rest on in the water.  When the bath was over, she would take him out and wrap him up in a towel, and the top of the bathinette was then folded down so she could dry the baby and powder him and dress him on it.  So I asked DH -- what are you going to wash in that? -- thinking I was being very clever and cryptic.  His reply?  Parts.

Ask a stupid question...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Braids and curls

Phyllis McK brought me this sweet little quilt the other day.  It's prairie braids in pastels, and even DH said "That looks like a little girl!"  Phyllis is giving this to someone special as a thank you. 

I love prairie braids.  There's just something about them that reminds me of the French braids that my mother painstakingly put into my hair every day while I was growing up.  Oh, how I wanted to have the darling dancing curls of the other little girls, but my straight hair would not cooperate, so braids, or plaits as we called them, were in order to keep my hair out of my face.  Just as they were in my hair, the braids on this quilt are clean and smooth and bright.  Best of all, this is a scrappy quilt -- my favorite.

They gave me the opportunity of using a function on my IQ called Path Pattern.  You create the block, draw a line that becomes the path your pattern will follow, choose a pattern (in this case, I chose the petals of feathers), choose the number of repeats, and voila!  One side of the new path pattern is finished.  Use the copy function to repeat the pattern, flip the Y axis, and again -- there it is!  You have both halves.  Now combine the line and the two halves of the feathers, and the pattern is complete.    I chose feathers because of the upward direction of the braids. 

Phyllis wanted a soft vine-y design in the white strips.  And if you'll look closely at the border fabric, you'll see that it has curliques in it, so I used that as inspiration for the curls along the border.  All in all, it's a dear little quilt, and the recipient is going to love it, I'll bet.

Today I took the day off from quilting and just cleaned the house, paying particular attention to our study.  DH hasn't seen the top of his desk since we moved in three years ago, except for the annual spurt of exasperation that overcomes me and sets me to sorting out the two foot high mounds of paper, tools, glasses and what-have-you's that accumulate almost as if they procreate during the night.

So here it is, sorted, cleaned, polished, arranged logically, and ready for the next year of good intentions left by the wayside.  What?  You think I'm cynical?  Nah.  Just been there.  Done that.  Way too often.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holly Jolly Blog Bingo!


Check it out!  There's a virtual bingo game going on, starting tomorrow, sponsored by The Quilt Shoppe, and it's really easy to sign up for it.  Just click on the blue highlighted shop name and the link will take you to their "In Stitches" blog, where they give the procedure for joining in on the bingo game.  But you have to hurry -- you have to sign up by midnight tonight!

Joy to the world! These quilts are done!

A local quilt shop, Wish Upon A Quilt, donated fabrics to our guild for our annual February month of quilting for charity.  As the chairperson of the Outreach Committee, I decided to audition some patterns to be used during that month's marathon quilting endeavor.  This fabric line is called Jungle Fever, by Free Spirit, and it is truly wild!  I had a hard time figuring out what I could do with it that might appeal to a child or teen, but I found the right venue from Hoffman, which put out a free pattern called Trade Winds using one constant color ( I used a bright batik in yellow) in the basic block, seen below.  It's a great pattern to use up your 2 1/2" strips!

The basic block is NOT the windmill.  It's the square around the windmill.  The quilting is a Baptist Fan pattern.  There wasn't any sense in doing anything fancy -- too much motion in the fabrics to make any but the simplest quilting choice.  Nonetheless, the curves of the fan smooth out all the topsy turvy angles of the Trade Winds pattern and make it not so jarring, don't you think?

And then, after piecing it all together, I needed a coordinating backing.  Well, the donated fabric was just in sample swatches -- not enough for even one piece borders, much less backing.  So I happened to have this swirly, bright fabric in my stash and decided to use it -- just right!

This quilt will join others in being donated to Hannah's Place in Roanoke Rapids, NC, a shelter for women and children.

Then, on the opposite pole of color saturation and design, there was this sedate, muted log cabin quilt that had been sitting in my unfinished basket for a year or so.

Since I wanted this one to go to the VA Hospital in Durham, NC, I thought I would quilt it in an Americana motif, with symbols of our country in a pantograph.

If you click on the picture, you will see the White House, the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, Statue of Liberty, George Washington, the American Eagle, the Declaration of Independence and other reminders of our great country's heritage.  Hopefully the veteran that gets this quilt will enjoy having this tribute to his or her service.

And now, off to my lurkim.  Phyllis McK handed me another of her darling quilts at the guild meeting yesterday, and I am eager to get it done quickly for her.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

We wish you a Merry Quiltmas

One of the nice things about having the IntelliQuilter on my Nolting 24 Pro is that it can be working while I am sewing something else.  This adorable winter wallhanging designed by Pat Sloan was my project this week.  I wanted to finish it before the Christmas guild meeting, so I had something for show and tell.

So, I cut out, pieced, appliqued and assembled this little beauty over the four days of quilting I needed to do to finish my customer quilts.  Above is a close up of snowflakes in the background of the holly applique center.  In the triangles around the center, I put a sweet feathered triangle in the white areas and holly in the red ones.

The only way you can really see the holly is to click on this picture and magnify it.

The outer setting blocks consist of several rectangle bricks sewn together.  I quilted a luscious large feathered triangle over this.  You can barely see it -- too much variation in the colors of the bricks, I guess.  But now I have my Christmas wallhanging quilted, bound, and after tomorrow, hung!

As long as I needed more time to finish assembling the Pat Sloan wallhanging, I quilted one of my works that has been sitting around for years.  It is also bound, and ready to be displayed come July 4th.  The quilting can't be seen, even up close. I used an Independence Day pantograph on these interlocking loops.

And this is another small quilt that had been packed away and pretty much unloved until I quilted it yesterday and put the binding on it today.  It is nondescript, as quilts go, because of the autumn coloring and blah pattern, but I quilted it with a pantograph depicting Noah's Ark, and now it has its own little personality.  The back of the quilt is fabric with Noah's Ark on it, and that's what gave me the idea to use that motif for the quilting.

So this past week I quilted three customer quilts, four of my own (one doesn't have binding on it yet -- I'll show you that one when I finish it), and put together a charity quilt that is now ready to be quilted.  It's from a Hoffman pattern called Trade Winds.  But more about that another day.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hi ho, hi ho! It's off to work we go!

Margaret A made two pretty little quilts and asked me to quilt them for her.  This one she is giving away as a Christmas gift.  Won't the recipient love it?

This one is for her personal use. She asked me to fancy it up with feathers.  That was like asking me to eat chocolate ice cream!  I love feathers!  And doing them with my IntelliQuilter is a breeze.

This is a close up of the borders, body and corner.  I used the same square feathered wreath in the blocks of the quilt and the corners.  The inner border was a squiggly zigzag, and the outer borders were this luscious undulating feather garland.

The back was as pretty as the front with its quilting more visible.  Don't forget that you can click directly on a picture to see it magnified.

Today I'm going to finish a Pat Sloan Christmas wall hanging and hopefully get another of my UFO's quilted.  More pictures tomorrow.  For now, fa la la la la, la la la la!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Deck the garage with lots of shelving...

To continue the saga of the weekend garage cleaning, today I made another storage cabinet.  Now there are three very professional looking cabinets (from Lowe's) residing under the largest of the four work benches DH has constructed in the garage.  This number of workspaces would be untenable in the average garage, but we built a four stall structure with the intent of having a generous area for DH's welding and airbrush painting and body work, etc.  Little did I know that he would take over the whole thing.  As we reorganize the mess from moving, I am ekeing out my own area to use to actually park my car -- at last.  But for now, it's still baby steps.

Here's another small victory.  This cabinet was moved from the very center of the most congested part of the garage storage  mass to the only wall left that had space for it.  It took over an hour and a half to get to it and to create a path from its former location to the new one!  The shelving above was reorganized to allow for convenient access to cleaning (hand, floor, car) chemicals and solutions and safe storage for bug sprays and weed killers.

And last, the piece de resistance, this marvelous rolling 4 1/2 foot high shelving unit carrying the myriads of screws, bolts, nuts, and manly must-haves, carefully sorted and arranged by DH in a fit of uncharacteristic anality.  Don't you just love when that happens?!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Working class

Working.  Labor.  I'm lucky to be doing something that I enjoy so thoroughly and that lets the right side of my brain take a turn.  For over 55 years of my life, I functioned with the left side very dominant, and that's a good thing.  People want their docs to be left brained/exacting/knowledgeable/pragmatic.  So I happily worked with women in their labors for over 20 years and loved every minute of it.

However, people want their longarm quilters to be just the opposite: artistic/tuned in/appreciative of the appeal in each quilt and able to enhance the quilter's often lengthy labor of piecing it all together.  They want someone who can see beyond the blocks and bring something unique to the quilting.  And that's where "class" comes in.  I get to be the person who brings the quilt to life, complementing the piecer's efforts and color scheme and patterns.  I get to have a go at giving each quilt something special, so that it's in a class by itself -- if not to the world, then to the quilter. 

This quilt was a labor of love.  Every day that I went to my lurkim and worked on it, I felt happy to see it.  Phyllis McK did me the honor of asking me to quilt this beauty for her.  I loved the color scheme!  I never think to use black in my quilts, which is a serious shortcoming on my part, because it makes the palette stunning!

So I did continuous curve in the cream spaces of the blocks and a wonderful orange skin pattern for the solid blocks.  Click on this picture to see it magnified for greater detail.

The borders were just at the top and bottom of the quilt -- a nice touch.  I put in tailored piano keys there, and voila!  The quilt just sang!  And my customer was very happy with the end result.  Me too.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I have a honey-do list a mile long.  That's because for six months out of the year, honey isn't home on weekends -- at least, not so as you'd notice.  He races go carts, an expensive avocation in terms of time.  In terms of money, too, come to think of it.  But that's not the issue.

When we moved here three years ago, alot of junk was "stored" in our garage.  You know what I mean -- all the stuff that I didn't instantly KNOW where it was supposed to go.  Add to that all the stuff that DH believes he needs to accumulate "just in case...", and you have an overwhelming pile of extraneous material that couldn't possibly be necessary for life on Earth.  Everyone said that we would NEVER get it cleaned out, but this fall DH admitted that he was unmotivated unless I was riding herd on him, so I decided to dedicate every single weekend to this task once the races were over.

Silly me!  The blasted races are NEVER over!!!  However, DH's participation in them is -- until the garage is clean.  At the rate we're going, he'll be 70 before he can go racing again...  No, don't feel sorry for him.  It's his choice:  clean it up and go back to racing -- or NOT.

After working all day one weekend, this was the sum total of the clearing out process.  There were eight mounts all told that found their way up on one of the walls in the garage, and I have to say that they look pretty neat up there.

Today I built two cabinets for tools and supplies.  They go under a huge, 16 foot long workbench that DH built a few weekends ago.  We also now have a four foot path from the bench to the door of the house -- a major undertaking!  Meanwhile, DH built some shelves of his own, put up long fluorescent lights above workspaces and attached cords with multiple outlets to the fronts of two more work benches. 

I also found the time this week to finish a quilt for one of my guild friends.  Vanessa G brought me a crispy clean looking springlike quilt made from 30's fabric, and I quilted it with a pantograph of feathers and flowers in the middle and put stippling around the applique in the borders.  To enlarge this picture, just click on it, and you will see the details better.  I can just see this pretty thing in a light filled room with white wicker and pastel hooked rugs.

And now off to the showers.  What a productive day!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Catching up

 Do you remember wearing corduroy when you were little?  How it seemed just the right amount of warmth on those crispy fall days?  Well, I came across some corduroy pants in a catalog the other day, and they were in all sorts of colors!  So I bought my favorite -- teal.  However, I have a problem with my measurements.  Besides being queen size, I am also relatively tall, and the 29" inseam measurements of most "store-bought'n" pants are just a scant bit too short.  So I bought the tall size.  They sat on my dresser for weeks, waiting for the sewing bug to hit, but I was taking a hiatus that lasted almost two months. 

Then, finally, last weekend, I dug them out and hemmed them -- just in time for a visit with my inlaws!  And, of course, if you are wearing teal pants, you must have a coordinating top, so I dug out the catalog and got a light teal top to go with them.  Woo hoo!  I'm beginning to feel like I'm in the fashion throes of adult Garanimals! 

On the other hand, this little bit of sewing finally got me spurred on to finishing some of my longstanding and longsuffering projects.  This quilt is called Americana by me, but is called Betsy Ross Sampler by McCall's Quilting (August, 2003).  It was waiting for its outer border, which is now on! 

Although it's hard to see, the beige border is muted writing of the words to the Declaration of Independence.  I have four customer quilts to finish, and then I can quilt this little beauty.

Friday, October 22, 2010

New and old

Pat Sloan is one of my favorite commercial bloggers.  She has radio interviews with quilt and fabric artists from everywhere;  she runs a great blog;  she has whimsical and adorable patterns, and from time to time, she suggests trying a particular tool or method.  This time around, I am trying The Cutting Edge ruler, made by Sullivan, which I discovered on her blog.  The innovative thing about this ruler is that it has a whetstone surface on its right side that is supposed to help keep our rotary cutters sharp.  So far so good with mine.

But I do have some comments:  the ground glass background of the ruler makes it hard to see the fabric edge in some cases.  Also, left handed people have to use this ruler upside down -- it seems the manufacturer should have considered putting the edge on both sides to make it more equitable and user friendly for lefties.  Other than those two criticisms, I like it.

Once a year my quilt guild gets together with other guilds in the area and has a party.  Sometimes it's a tea, sometimes it's an ice cream social, and sometimes it's a great little smorgasbord.  We dress a little more nicely and wear hats if we're so inclined.  This is my "guild hat", whose pins represent various bits of pleasure in my life.  I love to wear this hat, just for the fun of it.  Unfortunately, the Day of Sharing this year occurred while I was on vacation, but I thought I'd share my hat with you anyway.