Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Update on Tonga Batik

I don't have much to show for last night's work. We took the dogs for a walk at dusk (not a good idea - dusk is when all of the "fun" critters come out to play). When I got home, Sinbad wanted to play, so I spent about 30 minutes playing with him and the girls. They have a new cat toy that they NEVER get tired of playing with. After that, I cut out 240, 1 1/2" squares and sewed them into four-patches. Thankfully, I was able to work with four strip sets, so it wasn't as bad as it sounds.

We're expecting a bad storm tonight, so I won't be able to plug in my sewing machine (we get hit by lightening too often for me to take the risk). I plan to iron all of those tiny four-patches instead. I'll probably spend the rest of the evening hand quilting around the masks on my African quilt.

Oh, good news! Mom got my heart quilt finished yesterday. It looks great! She did a wonderful job quilting little hearts all over it. I'll take some close up photos and post them later this week. I guess I could square up the quilt tonight and get it ready for binding... so many things to do!

Batten down the hatches, and I'll post again later...


Tonga Batik pattern progress.

This quilt top is going so slowly! Another two weekends and I should have the settings finished on this Tonga Batick pattern. Then I get to start on the borders. Whew! The others were right. The blocks did not take half as long as the settings and border!

 I never use templates. I hate templates. Especially paper ones. Anyway, here is the paper template for one side of the zig-zag pattern for one of the setting sections.

 This is one of the above sections with corners sewn on to make a 6 1/4" x 9" piece. I then trimmed off the oversized corners.
I added the two sections together to get the zig-zag portion of the setting. As you can see in the photo below, there are two of these zig-zags.

Here is a photo of the Tonga Batik BOM pattern. I did pay for and get all of the fabric for this quilt, but I decided to use my own fabrics for two reasons. One, I did not want my quilt to look just like everyone else's, and two, I knew I would make mistakes and wanted to have plenty of fabric on hand to try and try again. Sure enough, I messed up three of the zig-zag pattern blocks and had to make another strip set. I'm not sure I would have had enough material if I had had to use only what was given to me for the pattern. I know my limitations. I can only breathe comfortably if I have plenty of fabric to allow for errors. I think that's why I prefer to make up my own patterns. If I make a mistake and run out of fabric, I can just change the pattern. That's fredom!

I'll keep you posted on progress. Meanwhile, Mom's working hard on getting my heart quilt quilted for me. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Happy stitching...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fabric, fabric, and more fabric...revealed.

Yep. Here was my big purchase. Three yards of the batik on the right and five yard of the one on the left. Oh dear. But aren't they gorgeous?

I thought I'd gotten my red and white obsession out of my system with my last two quilts, but apparently not. I LOVE polka dots, and the other two fat quarters just had to come with them.

More batiks, this time in fat quarters. I LOVE the brownish one on the top! I used a fabric very similar to this one as a border for a quilt for my nephew (you can see it on my Quilt Time page). He called it snake fabric.

I resisted the urge to buy many yards of the fabric on the top. Unfortunately, I know where the shop is. There's no guarantee that more of this won't come home with me eventually. No, no, I must resist! But it's so pretty... and look at it with the polka dot below it.

 My favorite fabric color is green. Especially this shade. Isn't that top fabric just too much fun? The top is a large check, separated from the small check by a ruler. There's a ruler on the bottom as well. Cute.

Miscellaneous brown fabrics. Did I mention that I love polka dots?

Now I need some suggestions for what to do with so many fat quarters. I rarely use fat quarters, but I do love to buy them. Pattern suggestions, anyone? By the way, these certainly don't need to go together - I have a great many fat quarters to choose from.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fabric, fabric, and more fabric!

Oh my. When I fall off the wagon, I really fall off the wagon. Yes, I bought fabric last night. The always wonderful Guthrie's Fabric from Guthrie, OK, was the vendor at our guild meeting last night. Do I need any more fat quarters? I rarely even use fat quarters! Oh well, 20 more fat quarters and several yards of cut fabric later, am I feeling after-binge regrets? Heck no. I'm thinking about all the wonderful things I can do with 20 fat quarters and 8 yards of fabric!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I began quilting in 2005. I couldn't machine sew - at all - so Mom taught me to crazy patch. She assured me that it's impossible to REALLY mess up crazy patch since I could always sew a button over the top of any mistake. That's MY kind of sewing! In August 2005 I joined thequilt guild that Mom belonged to. In September 2005 the guild was threatening to cancel its quilt show since no one would volunteer to chair it. I volunteered. Mom said I was crazy. I had helped hang quilts at the show for years. As the daughter of a quilter, I had worked as a white glove lady (Yes, that's a quilt all right. What? The name of the block? Um, Fred? Alice? I don't know.). I didn't want to lose the show. One month after joinging the club, nine months after learning the name of one type of quilting - crazy patch, I volunteered to chair the bi-annual quilt show. I had never made a quilt.

I chaired the guild quilt show for 2007, 2009, and 2011. Our guild challenge theme for my first show as chair was a one color theme. We each drew a card with a color listed on it. We could use any shade of that color and one other neutral color (white, beige, brown, or black). The primary color had to be predominant. We could use fabrics with very small amounts of other colors as long as the fabric read our color. As you can see from my challenge quilt above, my color was gold. In October 2005 at our guild retreat, I learned how to sew patchwork. By show time in 2007, I still had no idea how to make a wall hanging using patchwork, so I fell back on my "cannot make a mistake" crazy patch. I called the quilt pictured above "Mom's Heart of Gold." The quilt really is square - it's just hanging slightly crookedly. I don't have many ribbons, but I'm proud to say that I won second place with this quilt. It currently hangs in Mom's hallway. Thanks, Mom.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Q.U.I.L.T. guild meeting tomorrow night

Well, I've loaded a few more pictures onto my Quilt Time page, but I could not get one of my camera disks to download. I have another camera at home and will attack its disk later this week, so I'll have some more quilt/cat photos to share then.

Meanwhile, my guild has a meeting tomorrow with Suzanne Kitrell as our guest speaker. She will be discussing Layers of Color, Layers of Fabric. I'm presuming that means she's a fiber artist. I'm looking forward to her trunk show. I enjoy fiber art although I'm not very talented in that direction. I don't have enough talent or nerve to try it!

Speaking of trunk shows, my own mother has been asked to present a trunk show for the Grove,OK, guild on March 2. Her first trunk show! I'm so proud. Of course, that means that my walls are currently bare and my beds are noticeably lower looking. I've been hauling in the quilts that she has given to me over the years so that she will have as many as possible to choose from for her show. She has also raided my brother's house. My sister and her kids' quilts are safe though. Trish lives too far away for a quick raid.

Good luck, Mom! I know you'll do great!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New page and new photos!

I've made a new page of additional photos of my helpful quilt cats. They do love to be photographed! I have also added LOTS of new photos to my Quilt Time page. Check them out. I'll add more new photos to Quilt Time tomorrow.
Got to go!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Last of the Tonga Batik BOMs done!

At last! I finished the last three Tonga Batik BOMs yesterday. I took me all day to complete the last three blocks because I kept getting interrupted by things like housework (yuck!) and dog walks (okay, well, I enjoyed that part). I admit I have to suppress the occassional awakening of the green-eyed monster when I read about quilters who do not have 40 hour jobs. Oh well, teaching is its own reward, right?

October - I think this one would have been better had I swappeded the green and the orange colors.
November - What a strange block... I think I'd better check the layout again. Something doesn't look right.
 December - The brown batiks run straight across the middle just like the blues do, but the mottled batik on the left and right make it look a little confusing in the photo. 
 Here is the whole year laid out. From what the others are telling me about this BOM, the setting and borders take quite a lot of time. Yippee. So if it took me a year to get to this point, it should take me... let's see... carry the one... add vacation time... multiply by lazy days... Yep. It should take me forever.  

If you've read my February To Do list on the right of the blog, you'll notice that this particular quilt is not listed for this month. Unfortuantely, I got bored again. I'm close to getting the African mask wall-hanging done, but I really needed to work on something that wasn't red or orange. The blues and green of this quilt were just the ticket. Now I guess I'll get back to binding the wall-hanging until I get the urge to tackle something more challenging again...

Is anyone else working on something that's a little more challenging than your usual? I'd love to hear from you.

Until later... have a great day, everyone.

P.S. By the way, I added more pictures of my dogs to the Man's and Woman's Best Friends page.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

End of day update

Well, I made some progress today. I completed four more of my Block Of the Month blocks. And there's no problem with my camera's color - I photographed the first two on a light green cutting board and the second two on a dark green board. The latter two definitely show up better. The last photo was also on the lighter board, but was taken last month.

June BOM

 July BOM - I rather like this one.

August BOM This is a rather striking block. The light color is actually not white - it's light blue. 

September BOM I really like this block. I may use it again in another quilt.

Here are the five I already had made. Three more and I can start working on the settings and borders. From what I've heard from the others who have already finished or are currently working on theirs, the blocks are the easy part. I find that hard to believe with as complicated as some of these blocks are, but I'll find out soon enough. I will admit that the setting in the pattern photo looks quite complicated, but beautiful. Keep checking back - eventually I'll have some of it to show.

I got a message from one of my Dogwood Quilt Guild friends this week. She wants to go to next month's Shop Hop with me. I have never been on a Shop Hop, but I've always wanted to. Mom is joining us, so I think we'll have a great time. I am a little concerned, however, about my resolve to cut down on fabric purchases. I've been doing so well lately at keeping my purchases to a minimum, but I have the feeling that I'm about to fall off the wagon. I can't wait!
I think I have finally figured out what has caused my little quilting buddy Sinbad to break out in a skin rash - the diplandia that I had in my sunroom. I removed the offending plants, and Mom and I went shopping for some more cat friendly options yesterday. I bought a nice selection chosen from a vet's good plant list. It's a good thing my new airplane plant is deemed safe since Maxie is dining on it for breakfast this morning.

One leaf is resting in her stomach, but it looks like the entire plant may be in jeopardy now!

And speaking of odd breakfasts, meet Ladybub. She's my determidly outdoor kitty (unless it's cold, of course, then she's a sunroom kitty). She has been leaving breakfasts on our doorstep all week - sometimes several in a day.

And meet Mouser. Sorry the photo is a bit blurry - have you ever asked a rooster to stay still? Anyway, Mouser is so named because when he is in the mood, he clears off the little presents that Ladybug leaves on our doorstep. It's a little disconcerting to see a rooster running across the front lawn with a tail and legs sticking out of his beak! It's even more disconcerting to see him stop and swallow it. Oddly enough, he isn't even our first mouse eating chicken. Who knew?

Well, enough about my pets and plants. I'm in a quilting mood this morning., so I'm heading off to my sewing room. Which will it be today? I'm thinking maybe I'll work on my block of the month. So far I've only finished through May - of last year... I guess I'd better get moving! Especially since Sinbad keeps trying to help me type...

Thank you for visiting, and have a great day. I hope your kitty and quilting adventures as as happy as mine!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fabric Cake

I had forgotten that I meant to include these pictures with yesterday's post. Is this not the best looking cake a quilter can get? My friend Jeanette made this fabric cake for a silent aution for Quilt Congress last year. I don't think that people read the card she had included that said that the five yards of material could be dismantled and used. Not many people were bidding, so I got it at a depressing low price (well, depressing from the fund raising point of view as well as from Jeanette's). With the removal of a few strategically place pins, I could seperate the beads and fabric and go to town sewing this beaautiful material into a lovely small quilt. I could. I won't, but I could. I can't bring myself to take it apart. As it is, I feel like I've walked into a party every time I walk into my sewing room. What a cheerful way to start every sewing day. Thanks, Jeanette!

I hope all of you are having a cheerful day today, too!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I watched the Westminster Dog Show Monday and Tuesday nights. What beautiful dogs! I still managed to get some sewing done both nights though:  hand sewing on a binding Monday night and machine sewing a backing last night. I showed you my finished butterfly quilt yesterday - that's the one I finished on Monday. Today I want to share the backing for my hearts quilt.

This is the hearts quilt that I have challenged myself to finish in February 2012. I started it in October at the Ladybug Retreat with the Dogwood Quilt Guild. I am not a "heart" person; I prefer bolder colors and less organized patterns. When I saw this pattern, however, I decided that it was disorganized enough to appeal to me, so I decided to try it. I think everyone has to try a heart quilt at some time. I also threw in a red fabric with liberal amounts of Christmas green in it to add some pop.

I bought this material to use as the border for the quilt, but then decided that there was more pink in the fabric than I thought would work with all of that red. I decided to border the quilt with randomly cut red scraps instead. Now I wish I'd stuck with my original plan. Wait until you see the backing now!

I had six heart squares left over, so I sewed them together to make a band that would reach most of the way across the back. I knew that I would need more fabric for the ends of the band, so I found this inexpensive flat fold fabric in my stash. Since it is a less expensive fabric, the plaid design is not printed straight. If this bothers you, don't buy crooked fabric. I don't care if it's straight (I think crooked lines give more movement and motion to the finished quilt, so I like them!). I liked the way the ends looked, so decided to add smaller borders to the top and bottom as well.

 I auditioned the hearts flush against the heart backing fabric, but I thought it really needed that red border.

 Yep, this is the right combination for me!

Here is my finished backing, partially laid out on a couple of narrow tables in my classroom. I like it! Now to see if I can con Mom into quilting it for me...

 I promised yesterday to show the backing fabric for my appliqued African mask wall hanging. This fabric is beautiful, but it is heavy, tightly woven, and stamped with gold decorative elephants. All of this makes this material very difficult to sew through - especially by hand. Did I mention that I am hand-quilting the applique squares? And the back side of the binding?
 My binding clips help convince this stubborn fabric that it is supposed to fold then lie flat. If I clip the entire quilt and leave the clips on while I work, the fabric is easier to manipulate.
The right side of this photo shows what the quilt will look like when the binding is finished. I can't decide which I'm having more trouble with, folding and sewing the binding or quilting the inside squares. Oh well, back to work.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! My loving husband brought this lovely Azalea by the school for me before taking Mom and me to lunch this afternoon (He was off work; I wasn't). Unfortunately, it is poisonous to cats, but then so are most of the plants I have in my sunroom. Fortunately, my cats are only interested in eating my African Violets and Catnip plants, both of which are safe for feline consumption. Apparently African Violets are something like a kitty salad - lovely to look at and a treat to eat! : )

Well, we did get some winter weather after all. Well, okay, three days of cold weather, one with snow involved. So okay, it was only about an inch, but it got my husband off work for two days (he works in a small, public school system). It didn't get me off work (I work in a state run vocational school). I went in to my school at 8 a.m. and got sent home at 11 a.m. - just as the weather started clearing. Guess what I did with my suddenly free afternoon...I quilted, of course!

I finally finished the binding on this butterfly fabric quilt that I started about three or four years ago. Maxie helped me display the quilt on the bed so that I could take pictures - of her, of course! 

A quick stretch to test the comfort of this quilt. And I do mean quick - those little paws were moving so fast that they blurred the bottom of my photo! Judging by her refusal to get off of the quilt, it must have passed the comfort test.
I added three simple, straight borders to finish this quilt and bound it in the same blue fabric as the outer border. I did not want an Irish Chain (don't ask me why I didn't, I have no idea), so I swiched the directions of my chains. Again, don't ask me why.

Another project finished, but like the butterfly quilt above, not on my 2012 To Do List. My friend Liz paper pieced this kitty quilt top for me during our 2010 Pizza Box Exchange. Instead of making a block for me, she used the materials to make a compete top. All I had to do was finish it. What a wonderful gift!

Thank you, Liz. Kitty smiles all around.

Liz drew on the kitties' faces with a permanent fabric marker. How cute are they?

I've also been working on machine quilting my completed African mask quilt. I did stitch-in-the-ditch for all of the 2" squares, but I am hand-quilting in an echo pattern around the faces. I am also hand-quilting inside the reverse applique and in the ditch around each face to make it stand out. It may be next year or later before you see the final project at my rate of quilting!

Tomorrow I'll post pictures of the back fabric - you can see part of it on the right side of the quilt in the above photo. I'll also show you pictures of a fabric cake that I bought at a silent auction. Just wait until you see it! So scrumptious that I can't bring myself to dismantle it.

Until tomorrow, have a great day, and hug your sweetie!

Friday, February 10, 2012

It's hard to believe that a year ago today I was looking at my cars and seeing two feet of snow.
Today it's cold and wet, but certainly not snowy. We have have one of the mildest winters on the records. In fact, we have had no measureable snow at all this winter. I really miss it, and not just because I get off of work when the school closes (although, admittedly, that's a bonus).

Sinbad and Tessie are practicing staying warm just in case.

Last summer we added a sunroom to the front of our house. We wanted to be able to sit and watch the snow while being surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers. Or at least by the cats. No snow. Quite frankly, if not for the impending cold snap this weekend, I could probably have left most of these plants outside! 
I always water my plants on Friday since I leave work at noon, so today is watering day. Thankfully, it rained bucketfuls last week, so I can use rain water and not my sulpher and sodium rich well water. That is if I can get Sinbad's head out of the watering can. That can has become his new favorite drinking "cup." I keep having to pick hair and whiskers out of the water!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Non-quilting news

I got some good news at work today. The school has been granted funding to update all of the electronics in my classroom. I will finally have enough computers for all of the students to work at the same time, AND I will have a working printer. I've been told that I will also get a better laptop, but we'll see. I'm also getting new computer tables since some of mine are trying to do the splits under the weight of the old computers and monitors. Let's hear it for our legislators for getting us some much needed funding! Yeah! New equipment for the first time in the 13 years I've worked her - the students will appreciate it. 

I don't have much to report on the quilting front. I'm trying to get the binding done on a quilt that I have not yet shown on this blog. Just be patient for a few more days and I should be able to show the finished project.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I'm feeling ambitious!

I've picked THREE projects from my To Do Quilt List to finish in February. Of course, I'm still binding the quilt that I finished in January, so I may have bitten off more than I can chew. All three projects are now finished tops since I finished my African mask applique wall hanging quilt on Sunday. I am currently planning on machine quilting that project myself. I'll stitch-in-the-ditch between the 2" squares, and I don't know yet what I'll do around the masks themselves. Any ideas? Maybe echo quilting?

I plan on asking Mom to quilt the two larger quilts on her medium-arm quilting machine. I bought several bagged battings on sale last week, so I have the materials I need for both quilts. I do need to make the backings (my least favorite aspect of quilting), but it's not like I'm lacking for fabric. If I can get all of the projects bound in the next three weeks (okay, this part is doubtful), I can feel like I've accomplished a lot.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Updates Today

I've just posted a lot more photos on my Quilt Cats and Quilt Time! pages. I have also added a page featuring some of our dogs. Thankfully, I didn't add any more projects to my To Do List page!

I checked out the blog of a friend of mine and saw that she has implemented a stash control method that I think I'm going to have to adopt as well. She compares her fabric used to her new fabric bought. I don't know how well that will work for me - I'm pretty impulsive - but I'll give it some thought... I know my husband would appreciate it if I could keep my stash under control!

First UFO top finished

 As you can see, I haven't started the new Stash Busters project yet. My better judgement reigned, and I chose to finish one of my UFO tops. These are my beginner's applique squares. I don't usually (read that "ever") follow a pattern, but I decided to do so with this project. I'll have to see which magazine this pattern is in and post the name.

This is my second African art quilt. I'll post some pictures on my Quilt Time page of the first one I made. I used a very small amount of my rather extensive collection of African fabrics in the 2 1/2" squares. Mom bought a bag of African fabric scraps for me at a quilt show she attended, and I used quite a few of them as well.  I'll make the backing and then figure out what I want to do about quilting. Mom does 99% of my quilting for me since she has a long arm. Thanks, Mom!