Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blocking

When I am finishing a quilt, I don't always take time to block it. But when I've spent as much time on a quilt as I have this one - with at least 80 hours of quilting - I'm much more careful about getting it squared up, "just so." Blocking a quilt is an extra step I think is worthwhile.

If you've never blocked a quilt before, it really isn't difficult. It just takes a little time. By the way, I blocked this quilt before sewing binding to it. Machine baste along the edges of the quilt sandwich to hold it all together during washing.

Oh, and I also need to say that every fabric in this quilt has already been washed. I've been a pre-washer since the early 80s. I know that every fabric in my stash has been washed, and I'm going to keep it that way.

First, fill the washing machine with cold water. In this case I didn't use any detergent, but if you feel the need to do so, I recommend Quilt Soap. Carefully add the quilt, gently "feeding" it into the machine. On the delicate cycle, let it agitate, occasionally checking under the lid to make sure the quilt isn't getting twisted, and is staying submerged. Then, let the washing machine do it's thing to spin the load, though I didn't let it run the entire spin cycle. Gently, remove the quilt from the washing machine and put it in a laundry basket to carry it to where it can be laid out to dry.

Normally, on a nice day where rain isn't imminent (lately, it's rained nearly every day here in Central Iowa), I'll block the quilt on our back deck, laying one flat bed sheet on the deck, and another flat bed sheet on top of the spread-out quilt, to protect it while it dries. For this large quilt, I moved aside living room furniture, vacuumed (we have a dog), and then laid a large flat sheet on the carpeting. That's where I spread out the quilt.

Trying not to tug on it, I used the palm of my hand to spread out the wet quilt. Since this is a medallion style quilt, I had many reference points - borders - to check that every part was laying on the straight.

I set up a small oscillating fan to dry it. I'm sure it will take a couple days to dry thoroughly with our high humidity and no air-conditioning running.

If you noticed batting showing on the edges, you're correct that I haven't bound the quilt yet. My thoughts are that if you block after you've sewn binding to a quilt, you may also find yourself trying to square a quilt and binding that isn't sewn on straight. 

When it's completely dry, I'll proceed to binding. I have in mind to try a couple new things, based on Sharon Schamber's binding video here. Linda

Monday, June 27, 2011

Winning Weeks

Woo-hoo! I'm on a roll! Where's the nearest place to buy lottery tickets? In the past few weeks I've won two giveaways, and the prizes have been fabric - the best kind of giveaways to win! 

Over the weekend I received an email telling me I won a giveaway through Kool Beenz. My prize is a $25 shopping certificate to the on-line quilt shop, Skye Reve Fabrics. Thanks April and Natasha!

I was the lucky May winner of the "big prize" for the monthly FNSI (Friday Night Sew In - see link at right). From Minnesota, Heidi sent me this book, and two fabric packs - a Moda "Me and My Sister" charm pack, and a Moda "Frolic" mini pack. Thank you, Heidi!

Almost as good as a prize, was receiving fabric for the for the latest MQG challenge. As one of the program-education-swap-challenge co-chairs for our Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild (DMMQG), I'll cut and divide this bundle of eight "earthtone" prints. They're from Free Spirit's "Habitat" collection by Jay McCarroll. At our July 21 DMMQG meeting, fat eighths will be distributed to 13 challenge-takers. We have until September to put together a quilt made only with these Habitat prints, and solids.

Solids! I need more colors of them! Through a favorite on-line store, Marmalade Fabrics, I purchased several Kona solids - khaki, mocha and spice, among others. I also picked up these luscious Anthology prints. For no apparent reason, these days I'm attracted to orange. And when it's paired with gray? Irresistible! Tangerine Kona solid goes fabulously with these.

Marmalade Fabrics also drew me in with these Outside Oslo home dec (canvas-weight) prints for a new bag. While at the eye doctor's office I saw a woman carrying an unusual bag that I quickly sketched. I hope to make my own version. You'll be the first to know when I do!

I'm trying to keep myself from taking off on new projects because my big "Snowflake Medallion" quilt is nearly finished. It just needs blocking, binding and a label. It's been so long since I've had a big finish that I'm looking forward to that luscious and unusual feeling!

Linda

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summertime, and the Livin' is Easy

It's been more than a week since my last post because I was in Kansas for five days, helping care for grandchildren. These are the little people I got to "guggle" with. That's Tay's word for "snuggle."
Aesa, 7-1/2 months; Tay, 20 months
Tay playing peek-a-boo with Aesa.
video
Tay and his John Deere tractor
Aesa's a happy baby.
Like all brothers, they love to tumble.
On Friday we went to Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead.  It's where kids can have a hands-on Kansas homestead farm experience.
Jill, Celina, Tay and Aesa
There was panning for "gold."

Playing in running water.

Ringing those cow bells!

Feeding a goat.
With my time and energies spent on guggles, kid-play, diaper changes and baths, there wasn't a whole lot of sewing going on - several buttons were sewn back onto a duvet cover; and a top for a cheerleader outfit was taken in. Also, a small garden was planted with tomatoes, basil, watermelon and a pepper. In between, Jill took time away to keep appointments and run errands. It's nice to be family, contributing and being appreciated. It was also nice to get to lunch and spend an afternoon with my blogger-friend, Carla!

Being at home is good too! (Can you tell I like it all?) I returned to two waiting parcels, and plans for some cutting and sewing. I'll have more to share soon! Linda

Friday, June 17, 2011

Puzzle Ball Gift

A few weeks ago, using this book, I made several little cloth balls for my grandies. Friends recently became first-time grandparents, so I had a good reason to make another ball. This one is the pattern "Snowball" and measures 4-3/4" in diameter.
I chose red and gold prints to represent the new mom's school colors - Iowa State University.

And then I selected purple and gold prints that represent the grandparents' school colors - University of Northern Iowa. Since that's my DH's alma mater too, I even had some UNI Panther fabric I could use.

So you can see how I covered all the bases to make a bright cloth ball. No partiality here!
Linda

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Enthused About Reading

Our daughter managed to capture on video 20 month-old Tay "reading aloud" his book "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." 
He's saying, "Dried up all the rain! Itsy bitsy spider, dried up all the rain!"
video

We're hoping he always stays this enthused about reading books! Linda

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reunion, Weather, Sewing and Quilting

Last weekend was my high school class reunion in Newton, Iowa. From my class of about 360 students, 75 showed up for the Saturday night get-together; 32 have passed away. 

I'll confess that it's been 40 years since I carried school books through the halls (no one thought of using a backpack), shared a locker and secrets with my closest girlfriends, worked part-time at a grocery store (Hy-Vee), and agonized my way through those hormonal years. 

DH and I spent part of Saturday afternoon at the Iowa Sculpture Festival, where I posed with this giant metal cardinal, the mascot of Newton schools. 

Water has been in our news. Iowa rivers and creeks are spilling out of their banks, a problem that started when excessive snowmelt in the Dakotas innundated the Missouri River. Flooding has impacted people in western Iowa cities like Council Bluffs and Hamburg. Spring has been wetter than usual too, with more than 6" of rain already in June. Rain is making flooding worse.

We've also seen more hail than I can ever recall. Two nights ago we were awoken at 2:30 a.m. to what sounded like softballs hitting our house. It was actually only quarter and nickel-sized hail, but noisy none-the-less.

The past few days have been overcast, rainy and cool - 60s (15-16C). The only thing to do when the weather is so dreary is spend time in my basement sewing room.

Continuing quilting "Snowflake Medallion," I'm making progress. Twenty-four of these flower motifs are in the quilt. While I don't mind quilting the shape, I don't enjoy echo quilting. But, I'm coming down the home stretch with only 12 more flower motifs to quilt, and then one side of the last border. 

It's very satisfying to look at the quilt from the back.


I've had the urge to work on something different too. Ever since I came across this Circle of Geese block and then saw it again on Carla's blog, I've wanted to make it. It's foundation paper pieced and I love the color possibilities. It took me about an hour and a half to make this block which I consider my test block. I'm not happy with my color choices. Next time I'll leave out the brown, gray and black. 
12-1/2" X 12-1/2" unfinished Circle of Geese
Thursday night is the second meeting of our new Des Moines Chapter of The Modern Quilt Guild! Yay! It's a great group of gals. They're interested, enthusiastic, and ready to have fun with new approaches to quilting - both in design and the use of technology. If you're in the area, join us! Bring along your favorite quilting book (or two) to tell everyone about.

Thursday, June 16 - 6:30 p.m.
West Des Moines Public Library - Community Room
4000 Mills Civic Parkway

Linda

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Long Weekend Away

With three grandies less than four hours away (when compared to 24 hours away when they lived in Sydney), we're not away from them for very long. We had two reasons to visit last weekend: Celina's dance recital, and to celebrate DH's 59th birthday.

Here's our dance star, striking a pose at home, after the last performance. 

The bouncing babe in the background of Celina's picture is Aesa (7 months). He's not quite as energetic in the jumper as Tay was, but he enjoys himself. I'm sure this exercise is strengthening his legs for walking.

The birthday boy's special day was Monday (June 6). After our SIL made him a fine t-bone steak dinner, we sang happy birthday and served carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Celina decorated the cake with purple and gold icing, school colors of the University of Northern Iowa.

Tay gets along very well with his little brother and only occasionally takes away a toy Aesa is playing with.

Tay is talking up a storm. Often it's two and three-word phrases that come out of his mouth. Tay is completely taken by Hogan, our beagle-chow dog that we inherited when Jill went overseas for work. One morning when Hogan snorted a couple times, Tay asked, "Hogan neeze?" I said, "Yes, Hogan sneezed." The next thing I knew, Tay was running to open a desk drawer where the box of tissues are kept. Tay said, "Hogan. Keenex?" offering a Kleenex to wipe Hogan's nose.
Tay, 20 months
Tay asks for "read to."

Aesa had bronchiolitis twice over the winter, and is being monitored for possible asthma. Occasionally, when he gets overly rattly-sounding, Jill uses their new breathing machine to give Aesa a five minute, medicated treatment. He likes the soft shushing sound of the machine.

He's a very happy baby.


One of the "pleasures" of being a Nana.
video

This post wouldn't be complete without recent pictures of Austin, our 13 month-old grandson in Tampa, Florida. 

Ironically, this crying picture is my favorite. He'd just had his pacifier taken away. Can't you feel his pain?

A last funny moment to share.... One morning when Tay woke up, I offered to get him from his crib and dress him. In his room, as he was on the changing table having his diaper changed, I found a surprise and commented, "Tay's pooh-y." He answered back, "Holy Moses!"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pizza Pan, Plastic Wrap, and Lessons Learned

Quilting this "Snowflake Medallion" quilt has captured most of my time these days. With the Iowa State Fair deadline looming, I'm determined to put in the necessary hours to quilt this design in the way it deserves. It hasn't been easy.

I've continued to use Golden Threads paper to draw quilting designs, stitch them without thread, and use the pattern to free-motion quilt.

 It's been coming along nicely.

Since I've been working across the quilt, starting at one side and quilting toward the middle, I knew that quilting the center medallion would be the most challenging part. 

I decided I wanted to quilt a feather circle. To get the 16" diameter circle I needed as a template, I raided the kitchen for this pizza pan. 

Then, somewhat like cutting out paper snowflakes, I folded freezer paper so I could give the circle a scalloped edge. Here it's pinned to the center motif so I could check that it fit.

I quilted around the motif.

Then, by eye, I echo quilted about 3/8" from the first quilting.

Next, I designed feathers to flow clockwise along the interior of the scalloped edge. My plan worked, though I didn't expect to prick my finger on one of those super-sharp flower-head pins! Thankfully, the blood - which headed right under the quilting thread! - came out easily with cold water.

So far, so good.

After reading a friend's blog post, I was reminded that this product can be used as a template for a quilting design.
 

With a fine line green Sharpie, I drew the feather motif to flow clockwise around the exterior of the scalloped circle.  Then I patted the plastic wrap to the quilt. It sticks good... but that's where the fun ends.

DO NOT USE THIS PLASTIC WRAP FOR FREE MOTION QUILTING. 

After quilting along the green Sharpie lines, the plastic wrap needs to be pulled off. And boy, does it stick, and catch under the quilting stitches... particularly those that have been stitched over more than once. It was awful to try to remove! Do not use "Press and Seal" for free motion quilting! I may have thought it was difficult to remove Golden Threads paper from under quilting stitches, but this stuff makes difficult seem easy!

I won't tell you about the tears - my own! - and problems I had trying to get the plastic wrap, and the green marker color out. I ended up completely un-quilting that section - thankfully, I'd quilted only the first quadrant - and starting over again with Golden Threads paper. Ahh. Much better.

In low light, with shadows falling across the medallion. . .

. . . I'm really liking how this is turning out.

The quilting is now officially more than halfway complete. Since I'm working across the medallion-style quilt, the rest of the quilting is a repeat of what I quilted on the opposite side. Good progress. Yay! Linda

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