Saturday, May 31, 2014

Tic Tac Toe...

Two quilts in a week.  That must be a record for me.  My machine has certainly been humming lately.  I wasn't sure if I would make the deadline, but I've just managed to finish Tic Tac Toe in time for the Schnibbles parade on June 1st.  This is the last parade Sherri and Sinta are hosting before taking a break for the summer.

The pattern is X-Rated by Carrie Nelson and is in the book Schnibbles Times Two.  I actually pieced the top last November, but it's been sitting in an ever growing pile waiting to be quilted.  This was just the push I needed to complete it!  Instead of a Layer Cake, I used 5 Charm Packs of Independence Trail by Minick & Simpson.  I was going for a lap size, but this ended up at 85" square.

I used the pantograph Celtic Braid by Patricia E. Ritter.  This was a fun one to use and a fast one as well.

Now that I've worked through all the issues with my frame, this quilted up beautifully - until the last row.  When I stitched down the bottom edge, I was in a bit too much of a hurry and managed to sew through my finger several times.  It happened so fast, I didn't even realize it until after the needle broke.  I am so very grateful it missed the nail!

This quilt coordinates nicely with the one I just finished for our bed.  I'm planning to keep it over the back of one of the chairs in there to snuggle under (or just to look pretty.)

To sum it up:
  • Size: 85" square
  • Fabric: Independence Trail by Minick & Simpson
  • Batting: Warm & Natural
  • Thread: Aurifil for piecing (#2326) and quilting (#2310)
  • Pattern: X-Rated by Carrie Nelson
When I put the quilt over the chair to take a picture, cats started to appear from all directions.  If you look closely, you can see 3 of them here...

I'm looking forward to this month's parade.  I've already seen some quilts done in some brighter fabrics and they look great.  I think this pattern is one that lends itself to so many different types of fabric.

Do to others as you would like them to do to you. 
Luke 6:31 (NLT)

Friday, May 30, 2014

27 Hours...

That's how long the quilt was on the bed before it was stained.  Honestly, I knew it would happen eventually.  I thought it most likely that one of the pets would get a small cut and bleed on it.  Never did I imagine a fluorescent blue spot.

In an effort to cool our dog after an afternoon walk, my husband wrapped a blue ice pack in a towel and placed it beside her on the bed.  Unfortunately, it leaked.  Although we've used it dozens of times before, this is the time it broke.

My husband was so upset that he had ruined our quilt.  I tried to convince him it's not that big a deal.  Either it would come out or we would have a funny story to tell one day.  After all, no one died.  It's just a quilt.  We looked on the internet and most of what we read recommended repeated washings.  And after 7 cycles through the washing machine, you can barely tell it's there.  In fact, I had a hard time even getting it to show up in a picture.

My husband and I know where it is so we can spot it, but only after carefully looking for it.  I imagine if someone didn't know it had happened, they would never notice it.  And maybe one day, far in the future, my husband will eventually be able to think back and laugh over it.

Simplifying is really about choices - prioritizing what is important - and then sticking to those choices no matter how tempting it is to add more to your to-do list. In fact, take those tempting activities and put them on a list of things not to do. 
 By Rick Warren

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Stepping Stones...

I've been quilting for about 10 years now.  And in those 10 years, I've lost track of the number of quilts I've made.  (I really wish I'd blogged back then so I'd have a record of all of them.)  I've had fun learning/trying new techniques and I've given away more quilts then I've kept.  But in all those years, there is one goal I could never seem to reach - to finish a quilt for our own bed.  It's a king-size bed so it's a big undertaking, but I've actually made a couple of king-size quilts for others in the past.  I think it must be like the cobbler who never has shoes of his own.  However, on Memorial Day I finally finished our first quilt.

Stepping Stones - 113" x 104"
I started this quilt in June 2012.  It was a free Schnibbles pattern that Carrie Nelson was offering to participants in the Schnibbles parades.  I had a Layer Cake of Wiscasset by Minick & Simpson laying around so I decided to make a lap-sized version.  When I finished, I liked it so much, I decided to go even bigger and turn it into a king-sized quilt.  I had to do some searching on the internet to find another Layer Cake since this was an older line of fabric, but I finally found one.  Then I sat down and drew up a layout that would work with the fabric I had and the dimensions I needed.  The rest of the top went together pretty easily.

The quilting though has been  nightmare.  I have never had as many problems with a quilt as I did with this one.  The thread kept breaking on my machine.  I changed needles.  Cleaned it. Changed the thread.  Had my machine serviced.  Replaced the carriage on my frame.  And finally replaced the track on my frame.  (FYI - I have a Grace GMQ Pro frame.)  After all of that, it now purrs like a kitten!  But it was months of frustration where I didn't want to even touch it.

I have to loosen the leaders when I'm not quilting or the cats use it as a hammock.
In addition, the cats were wrestling in there one day and tore a hole through the batting.

This is the first time I've ever had to do a patch job on batting, but I think it turned out OK.

I used the Dusty Miller pantograph from Urban Elementz on this quilt.  It's the first time I've used it.  It's a dense pantograph, but very pretty.  I'll definitely use it again.

As usual, I used one of the blocks from the quilt for the label.  I just added a pre-made label to the top of it and hand-stitched everything to the back.

With 5 pets, I know this quilt is going to get a lot of heavy use and will undoubtedly be washed frequently.  I decided to sew the binding on by machine.  (Also because I don't like hand sewing binding down.)  I glue-baste my binding to the back with Elmer's glue before I sew it down.  It's water soluble and helps me get a nice even finish.  Just a tiny bead of glue and then a press of the iron is enough to make it stay.

Sam was ever so helpful while I was trying to finish the binding...

So, to sum up Stepping Stones:
  • Size: 104" x 113"
  • Fabric: Wiscasset by Minick & Simpson, Kona cotton for the sashing and backing
  • Batting: Quilter's Dream Request
  • Thread: Aurifil for piecing, Superior Threads So Fine #457 for quilting
  • Pattern: Adapted Leap Year by Miss Rosie's Quilt Co.

Because of the patriotic colors, I always planned for this quilt to go on our bed from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  So it was really nice to finish it yesterday and put it on there.  I have such plans of having quilts for our bed for all of the seasons, but considering it's taken me 10 years to produce my first one, there's no telling how long the others will take!  One step at a time...

Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory. 
Psalm 50:15 (NLT)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Good Mystery...

I love a good mystery.  Especially when you can't guess the ending.  It seems like most movies and books are so formulaic that you're pretty sure who did it half way through the story.  I also prefer my quilt mysteries to be true mysteries as well.  Although honestly, it's still quilting so I don't mind as much if I can figure it out before the big reveal.

I've mentioned before that my quilt bee is doing a mystery right now.  We started in February and receive one clue each month.  It's a 6-month mystery so there are only 2 clues remaining.  I think it's a real puzzler for everyone so far, but I'm loving all the blocks!

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I'm hosting the mystery, so I know what the quilt is going to look like.  However here are all the blocks that make up the quilt, can you guess what it's going to look like?

I'm actually making 2 versions.  The neutral one which I'm going to keep and a patriotic version that I'm going to donate to QOV.

I found this mystery on the internet (what can't you find here?).  I'll post a link to it once my bee has solved it, but if anyone else is interested in it before then, send me email and I'll give you the information.

Sam has been very playful lately.  The warmer weather seems to be helping her arthritis and her kidney's have been doing really well too.  It's nice to see her feeling so great. (Getting old is tough.)

Stay tuned - I hope to be back in the next day or two with the reveal of a quilting goal that's taking me 10 years to reach!

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. 
Acts 4:12 (NLT)

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Dutch Hooker...

I have to be honest and admit I hesitated with the title of my post, but it's the name of my latest block so I'm going to go with it.  Funny but true story, when I made Carrie Nelson's 'X-Rated' quilt last year, I started receiving a lot of spam mail after using the name of it in my blog posts.  So much so that I had to turn word verification on.  It's this month's Schnibbles quilt for AYOS, so I wonder how many others are going to experience the same issue.

But back to 'The Dutch Hooker'.  It's one of the ships in Sue Garman's Ladies of the Sea quilt and my most recent finish.  Each block will actually have the name and year of the ship inked underneath them, but I'm going to wait until I've finished them all before adding that.

The Dutch Hooker, 1350
As I've mentioned before, I'm using the back-basting method to applique each of these.  This ship makes 14 I've completed; I only have 2 left (plus all of the borders and compasses of course.)

The blocks I've finished so far
I've already prepped the last two blocks.  I'm just waiting on some matching thread to come in before I start.  I use YLI 100 wt. silk thread for all my hand applique because I love how invisible your stitches become.  I wish my local quilt shops carried it, but when I can find it, they usually only have a couple of spools.  I've found it's great for machine quilting as well.

I'm working on so many different projects right now, but it's nice to see some progress.  Little by little, they'll all eventually get finished.  That's the plan anyway!

Sam has been feeling pretty good lately and has been rather playful.  She even claimed one of the dog's toys for the night.  Despite having a gazillion others and a new bone, the dog was NOT a happy camper.

I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing; make something of me! You can do it; you’ve got what it takes God.” 
Psalm 40:17 (MSG)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Quilt Doodling...

I have the feeling I've over shared this quilt-in-progress.  I thought I would have it finished long before now, but I'm only finding bits of time here and there to work on it over the last 6 months.

Slowly progress is being made on it and I'm now to the point where I get to play with some free-motion quilting designs.  Rather than just use ones I'm familiar with, I thought this would be a good opportunity to practice some new (to me) designs.  I've been trying out several from Angela Walter's book Free-Motion Quilting.  I've already used the Basic Swirl, which I really like and will definitely use again.

I've also been practicing Paisley and Concentric Circles, but haven't added them to the quilt yet.  When I see a design I might like to use, first I draw it again and again and again.

And then I practice stitching them on sample fabric sandwiches until I feel comfortable enough to use it on a quilt.  Sometimes, I never reach that point and then I just move on to another design.

This is another quilt I'm sure I'll feel was worth all the extra time once it's finished, but it certainly does seem to be taking quite a while to reach that point!

While I'm busy quilting, my sewing buddy is content to break in the new chair.  It's getting a lot of use and rave reviews from the four-legged crew.

By the way, I've recently joined Instagram as deetackett.  I'm honestly still trying to figure some of it out, but having fun with it so far.

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” 
Proverbs 4:23 (TEV)