Saturday, March 31, 2012

Basket progress

My baskets and nine patches are done; now to decide on the setting triangles and final layout. We'll be working to finish our tax paperwork this weekend (tax accountant appointment Monday morning). After that I'm relatively free to play!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Too, too early!

Second day of spring, 87 degree record heat, and we are a month ahead of ourselves, garden-wise.

I'm not worried (nothing you can do about it anyway), but one year when the tender new ferns were at this point, they got a snowy frosting and that was the end of them for that year.

My hostas are even starting to pop out of the ground, and I don't think they are hardy enough to stand cold and snow. I may need to get a bale of straw and give them a layer of protection if it gets cold again (very likely here in West Michigan).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Baskets: Progress peek

 Just showing some progress. This is how I plan to set my baskets. I didn't want to make a bunch of 9 patches then decide I hated them. But these look like they'll do just fine. I'm doing 20 baskets, so 7 more to go!
I'm stitching some while watching Michigan State basketball this afternoon. Hope I don't get too excited and draw blood (my own).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My second quilt: Rail Fence

My second quilt was inspired by the quilts in Middlebury and Shipshewana, Indiana. In the late 1970’s, after seeing lots of beautiful quilts on display at various places, my husband and I decided it would be fun to make a real quilt. We stopped at Gohn Brothers, a dry goods store in downtown Middlebury. They had a wall of fabric (and still do, reasonably priced), both 100 percent quilting cottons and poly cottons.

We told the clerk “we’d like to make a quilt”, so she drew us a rail fence quilt pattern, estimating the size of the rails, and assisted us in our fabric selection. I remember the clerk fussing that we picked two solid colors and two prints, and wouldn’t we like it better with all solids? (This is Amish country, plus this shop caters to the Amish, so solids rule.)

There were no rotary cutters, rulers or mats. My husband offered to cut the quilt pieces if I would sew them, so it was a joint venture. He drew up a cardboard template, drew individual rails on the fabric and cut them out.

I had never taken a quilt class, nor read a quilting book, but we jumped right in. I even borrowed a quilting frame from a co-worker’s friend.  I loved the colors and was pleased with how it turned out, there were a few “minor” problems with quilt number two, too.

Problem 1:  I left the knots of the quilting thread on the bottom of the quilt. After a few years of use, the stitching started coming loose due to the knots being rubbed off.

Problem 2: I quilted it with Coats and Clark all purpose thread, double thickness, just like I was hemming a skirt. I didn’t know that was a problem until someone in my bee a few years later noticed and asked about it.

Problem 3: I never thought to measure my bed, or how far I wanted the quilt to hang over the edge. I just followed that hand-drawn diagram, so the quilt turned out long enough but not wide enough for our full-sized bed. I kept the short side facing the wall (out of view).

Some people might choose to quilt this again and take out the old stitching, but I’m happy to let it be and move on to other things.  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Second time blooming; better photo

 Here's my lovely Christmas cactus again. It's so refreshing to see these blooms when nothing much is blooming outside yet (some people in the area have reported crocuses blooming, but mine are still hiding out).

Friday, March 9, 2012

My first quilt: Biscuits

Jan at Be*Mused inspired me to post about my first quilt (check hers out by the way).

This “biscuit” quilt was made by me in the mid-1970’s;  I used a pattern from McCall’s.  The biscuits were made by stuffing pleated squares and sewing the biscuits together to make the quilt. 

I never liked this quilt. Why? 

  1. I broke a couple of double needles trying to stitch those biscuits into submission, and decided to zig-zag them together instead (doesn’t the stitching look lovely? Yikes!)  
  2. Sewing the stuffed squares together was tedious, and I didn’t do a very good job. 
  3. The quilt was not warm, because I had skimped and put only one layer of poly batting in the biscuits instead of two. The batting rolled up into a ball inside the biscuit and let lots of air through the quilt.
  4. The fabrics were all the calicos I could find (most from J.C. Penney fabric department), likely a poly/cotton blend. Kind of an icky feel. But didn’t those colors hold up?  Barbara Brackman recently introduced a line of Old Fashioned Calicos that are similar to these, but I bet hers are cotton and nicer to touch.   

I even had a death wish for this quilt. I brought it to Michigan State University while I was a student, thinking that “wouldn’t it be great if someone steals this from my room?” Hah. No one wanted it.

So I still have my humble first quilt, and it protects the top of my Grandma’s cedar chest from scratches and bumps.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ready for round two

My Christmas cactus bloomed right after Christmas, and lo and behold, it's ready to bloom again! Must like the cool corner by the windows (southeast light).

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sixteen patch(es)

Lest you think I am all about hand work, I assure you I am not. Machine piecing is my forte. My latest machine stitching project (another long-term one, I'm afraid) is sixteen patches. The working title is Sourdough. Why? Because I bought 8 to 10 fat quarters at a quilt trunk show and once I got them home, I realized they all worked together. Then I added Kaffes, batiks, Australian pieces and others, and the project exploded, just like a sourdough starter out of control! Everything was cut into 2.5-inch strips, sewn together two at a time, cross cut 2.5 inches, turned into four patches, then blocks, four-patch by four-patch.  I have well over 100 blocks done, with 30 or so more to complete.

It's either going to be really, really great quilt top, or a hot mess. Can't wait to see.