Monday, January 26, 2009

Finished Geese and Progress

As the Flying Geese top came together I got more and more excited to finish it. I'm so happy with the results of this one. I almost put it aside after I assembed the 4 sets of two rows and realized that with my configuration for the top that two of them were not facing properly for the geese to alternate pointing up and down. I hate having to rip any amount of seams, but ripping seams with paper piecing is even more tedious as I have to be very careful not to destroy the paper foundation in the process. Thankfully it didn't take nearly as long as anticipated and soon I was on my way again. I'm so thrilled with this top that it may be the next one in the hoop!

My other big project of the moment is the applique on the sashing between the posy blocks. The top went together pretty quickly, and marking the sashing didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would. It was a little tricky as, rather than marking the braid from end to end going one direction and from sashing to sashing going the other, I decided I wanted the braids to "weave" where they met and alternate going over and under. I was able to keep my focus in spite of the stops and starts and had everything going the right way when I finished.

As I marked, I had what I thought was a horrible realization. The plan was to pick one of the "strands" of the braid and follow it all the way down until it's stopping point. Except if I did that, the bias tape would show in spots that it should be behind the design. This was going to have to be appliqued in small little pieces to get the desired effect.

I nearly didn't start the applique that day because I was really daunted by that, but decided to forge ahead and see what I'd gotten myself into.

I have to be very careful, as the order of applique is very important so that edges are secured under the proper pieces. I stared at it for quite a while, working out the logistics of it. The first completed section (shown further below) I cut and placed one piece at a time, but by the end of that section I was feeling more confident and this next section I'm pinning in place several pieces at a time, which is cutting down on the time it takes considerably. I don't want to do too many at once as it's hard to maneuver around too many pins. This seems to be just the right amount.
The pieces for each section of braid can be placed in four sets. Only one side gets sewn down and the second side isn't sewn until all the pieces for the whole section are in place. Here it is with the second set in place and ready to sew.
When all the pieces for all four sections are sewn on one side, then I pin everything in place and sew down all the second sides. While I do love the whole process, this part is especially enjoyable because I can just sew, the thinking has already been done.... at least until the next section!
And finally a picture with posies visible so you can get an idea what it will look like.

I'm babysitting this afternoon so there won't be much sewing time. I haven't decided if I'll be hand quilting or appliquing tonight, I'll have to see what I feel like then.

Tomorrow we're doing the grind from the deer hunt, which will take several hours but will leave me with quite a stack of packages of ground meat in my freezer. I'll be babysitting again in the afternoon. Wednesday will probably be my "free" day, though I will grocery shop, if possible, in the morning.

It's more likely I'll be shopping Thursday morning and babysitting all afternoon again. Friday is my quilting bee, and afterwards I need to do the prepwork on potstickers. The Super Bowl has always been a big event in our house and I'll be cooking all day Saturday for it so there won't be so much to do on Sunday except for the final cooking. It will be a busy week! I'm hoping that next week will be a little less full and I'll get to spend some good time on both the braid applique and the hand quilting on the ring flower quilt.

Happy Quilting!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quilting Frenzy

I'm in one. Though in the 10 days since I last posted I've also done a boatload of cooking. Our son turned 22 on Monday and Sunday he had several friends over for playoff football and pretty much all they could eat. I spent Saturday doing all the prepwork, which took most of the day and cooked for most of the day on Sunday, but it was well worth it.

I'll be doing it all again for Super Bowl Sunday, though, as of now, for our family and the two boyfriends.

For the most part, though, I'm in a quilting frenzy. After spending the weekend cooking and cleaning it all up, I decided I'd take Monday "off". It was actually Joshua's birthday that day, but he had to work until 2:30. When he got home, about 3:15, he left here with my husband and other two sons (along with a friend and to drop off Rebekah), Rachel was babysitting. So at 3:30, my whole family was gone except Ruthie and they didn't get back home until 9:00. I had saved leftovers from the day before so I didn't have to cook and I sat and quilted for nearly the entire day. The result was four blocks completed on the ring quilt and I'm thrilled with the results.

I also have 3 tops that are in the works that I want to spend time on. One is the Posy and Celtic top and the next step on that one is to add the sashing and sew the blocks together. I'm hoping to get a start on that later today, but that depends on the flying geese. The blocks are finished and sewn into rows, I cut the border fabric this morning and will spend today sewing that top together. I hope to get it finished this afternoon, but one never knows what will thwart my efforts with all the activity here! At left is a picture of 2 of the rows sewn together and the barely visible border fabric. I went through my entire stash trying to find just the right fabric and I'd nearly given up when I found this one. I'm really excited to see it all put together!

In the planning stage I have an Irish Chain, being done as part of an email group. I've chosen my fabrics, figured out my size requirements and how to make the blocks, and have written out the cutting directions. I'm hoping to have this one cut by the end of the weekend and maybe even have a start on the sewing, but I'll have to see how time plays out. I'm doing a Double Irish Chain and the open white spaces will have flowers appliqued in them. I'm really excited about this project!

I promised myself that I would finish quilting "Joyful" before starting the ring flower quilt, and I did. When I photographed the top, I had a hard time getting the colors to photograph true to color, this time they are spot on.

Here is a closeup of the quilting on the blocks and borders.

And here is a closeup of the back. I enjoy the backs of my quilts nearly as much as the fronts!

And no post is complete without a Ruthie picture. She was quiet for a while so I went to see if she was sleeping and found her all curled up with a blanket and a movie. I never tire of that smile!

I babysit all afternoon today and have to get a quick lunch before he comes. I'm hoping to get some, if not all, of the flying geese top assembled this afternoon and Thursday nights are quiet here so I should be able to finish whatever is not done. Then there is all the paper to pull off since this one is paper pieced. I don't mind that, though, it's great TV work!

Here's to a healthy, productive day, and QUILTY day for all!
Sue and Ruthie

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sewing room changes, quilting goals, and Ruthie update

It's not a clever title, but tells you exactly what you'll get!

Before Christmas, I decided that my sewing room really needed an overhaul. It felt cramped and was very cluttered, as I'd gotten into the habit of placing some storage on the floor in front of existing storage. I also had a stack of bins that looked messy and had a tendency to lean. I was just not happy with it all anymore. I did manage to wait until after the holidays to pull it all apart, I was itching to do it the week before Christmas, but knew I had way too much to do Christmas week to have the room in disarray!

Our bedroom was also getting the same feel, so I tore both rooms apart, moving some storage between them, and revamped both rooms.

In the first picture, the area on the right is the "clutter" spot and tends to gather the bits and baubles that need to be put away. It used to be the cutting area, but I now use my table for that as I can clear it off easily and have plenty of room. The old cutting area tended to be a bit cramped when working with larger pieces of fabric or making larger cuts.

The middle area is a dresser, which contains "office" type supplies, along with some bags and a couple of works in progress. I can put them away out of sight, but have easy access to them. On top of it is a small ironing board, which can also be easily moved to the table if I need more space. For most of the pressing involved in quilt piecing, it will be just fine where it is and be right behind where my sewing machine will be set up, providing easy access.

The second picture shows my table, which has an extra leaf available when needed. I placed it on an angle, which really opened up the room a lot. The shelves full of bins don't look nearly as cluttery in person as in the picture to me, but it is what it is!

The bookshelf is all the way to the right and has a small quilt hanging on it. I plan to make a couple more that size so I can change them out with the seasons. This one says "Let It Snow" much to the chagrin of Rachel (16) who really doesn't like winter once we get past the holidays.

The biggest change is in the third picture. I brought down my chaise/couch (sits like a chaise, looks like a couch) from our bedroom and put it in front of the window. The dresser that was there went to our bedroom. The dresser in the earlier picture was in the corner, but I brought down some storage boxes from our room for that spot. Because of the angle of the boxes, there is a small space between the couch and the boxes that is just perfect for my sewing machine in it's case. It's out of sight, but quite easily accessible. The couch is not only nice for doing handwork on, but will allow me to keep an eye on Lucas and Ruthie when they are outside and I would rather not be. The seat of the couch lifts off and provides a bunch of storage underneath. I took all the basted quilts and finished tops out of the leaning tower of boxes and they ALL fit in this space. Again, easy to access when looking for a project, but totally out of sight.

So now I love this room more than ever. When joined by one or more of the kids, I don't feel like we're all crammed in a small space, and I can't get to what I want/need.

With that big project out of the way, I'm turning my thoughts to my winter quilting. The stained glass quilt, "Joyful", is nearly done. I have 3 1/2 more blocks to quilt and then the small borders. I'm hoping to be binding this by the end of the week. Once it's finished, I'll be taking a couple more pictures and hopefully the colors will be more true. I love the picture, LOL, but the colors are much brighter than the picture shows.

As soon as Joyful is done, the ring block quilt will be next in the hoop. This one will take a long time, it's very large, 98 x 98, and has a lot of quilting on it. I've been looking forward to this one since I finished it and even moreso since I revamped the outer border. I'm hoping to make quite a dent before the weather gets warm and then the small frame might make an appearance again. With my room redone, I should be able to have it out without it being too disruptive to the space.

Also on the agenda is assembling the posy and celtic top. The blocks are finished now and I had planned to put the top together over the weekend but got waylaid so it is still needing to be done. I've decided not to get out the sewing machine until I have to bind Joyful, so this won't be worked on until then. Once out, the machine will stay out for a while as I have a couple of other tops that I want to work on as well.

One is a new strip quilt. This one has background fabric on half of the block and will be set in a zig zag setting once finished. With only half of the piecing of the other quilt, this one should go much faster. There will be a motif quilted in the large triangle and when set together it will nearly look like a continuous design.

I've also pulled out an old project. Many years ago, my first foray into the internet quilting world was an IRC chat line. We did quite a few swaps, and one of them was a flying geese swap. Usually when I did a swap, I made enough blocks to make a whole quilt top, but way too many of these would have been needed. I have several strips of 6 geese from the swap and also traded fabrics with a good friend who designed this paper pieced foundation. We also both received some fabric pieces from other friends, the goal being to have no two geese the same. These were out of sight, so out of mind, but a few months ago I came across them and really want to finish. The blocks are nearly done, will be set into long, vertical rows, and there will be a print strip of fabric between the rows. That's the plan, anyway, I won't know for sure until I lay it all out!

Writing it out makes me even more excited about it all. I've been doing chores while waiting for pictures to upload, so once I'm done posting I should be able to quilt for a good part of the day. It's supposed to snow here again, and I'm hoping it starts while still daylight so I can quilt and watch it fall.

And finally, Ruthie. She's doing so well, and is more verbal every day, it seems. The baby look is totally gone and she's quite the young lady. She looked so adorable dressed for church yesterday so I tried to get some pictures. Of course, getting her to sit still long enough AND look and the camera made things interesting!

At first, she just ran away.

Then she wouldn't look at the camera, though at least she was standing somewhat still.

At right, I coaxed out a smile.

She decided this still displaced storage box (it will soon hold some of the hand-me-downs we've been given for her that are still way too big) was a good place to sit for a picture, though didn't sit there long enough for me to get one!

She's quite the busy girl these days, going from her movies (she sometimes watches two at a time, one on the small TV in their room and one on a portable DVD player that she uses when Lucas is using the TV) to checking out what everyone is doing, playing with her new dolly, and "helping" the kids play games.

With her currently occupied, it's time to fix a quick lunch for me (everyone else has eaten) and get to my sewing! After listing out all the fun things I'm looking forward to, I really want to get to them.
Happy Quilting and Stay Warm!
Sue and Ruthie

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Christmas Wrap-up and Looking Ahead

Whew! It's been crazy here since last I wrote. These couple of weeks at the end of December are always wild, it seems, but not usually quite as crazy as this year.

Ruthie got the stomach flu on Christmas Eve, which put a bit of a damper on things. I was singing at church that night so couldn't stay home with her. Rebekah and Brian offered to stay with her so my husband would be able to go.

She was fine on Christmas morning, though a bit crabby about opening gifts. In the end, a good time was had by all. We had our Christmas feast, which was enhanced further by four 1+ pound lobster tails courtesy of Brian.

If you look in the picture above, you can see the big TV on the bottom. That was my grandma's and it stopped working not too long after we got it. Our family TV, which had been moved to my sewing area, was moved back and it stopped working the Sunday before Christmas. When Lucas got the Playstation 2 from Rebekah and Brian, he glanced over at the non-working TVs, wanting to be able to play in the family room, but able to play in his room if needed. I told him quietly that we'd move my sewing room TV, the 19 inch my kids bought me for my birthday, downstairs so he could play. Brian caught wind of it and took charge.

After some discussion as to whether or not our TVs were worth fixing, it was determined that at 10+ years old, they probably weren't. Brian showed up Sunday with the spare TV from his basement. Were we surprised to see this come through our door!

He installed it and hauled away the two old TVs. The look on Lucas' face later in the day when he turned on his Playstation was priceless.

The night before the TV switch was made, Lucas got the stomach flu. The day after, both Mike and I got it. Rebekah got it New Year's Eve and now the only holdouts are Joshua and Rachel.

The ups and downs of the past December are a little mind-boggling when I think them all through. In the end, I think that we came out feeling more positive about a lot of things than we have in a long time.

So now it's time to look ahead! I realized that over the course of all these difficulties that I withdrew into my quilting. It was a good thing for the most part. It gave me peace and pleasure and helped to protect my aching and confused soul. I feel as if I'm coming out of that fog and one of the results is wanting to spruce up our house.

Change comes little by little. As our kids have gotten bigger, slowly the house has become easier to manage. Instead of fighting fires, I want to prevent them. My sewing room and it's lack of aesthetics, has been bothering me for a while. I love the space in general, I'm just ready to take it to the next step of organization.

Part of that will include making some changes in our bedroom as I move storage pieces between the two rooms. I figure that this will be a project that encompasses a few days and I'm anxious to start, but really shouldn't until Monday, when our schedule is back to normal and it is less likely that we'll have friends floating in and out among my mess. I am going to start getting ready, though, by doing some necessary cleaning out and organizing to make the implementation easier.

I feel like I've been running a marathon. I took yesterday "off", or as off as I can get. I was also able to relax and applique some on New Year's Day and the result of these is the posy blocks are finished!

So in addition to sprucing up and reorganizing several rooms in the house, I'm also looking ahead to my quilting for the winter. The stained glass quilt is in the hand quilting stage and not very big so I expect that one to be done soon. As I reorganize, I'm going to see if there are any other smaller quilts in progress that I can finish before tackling the ring quilt.

My plan is to cut sashing for the posy quilt today and I'd really like to get the sashing and blocks all sewn together today. I won't be adding borders yet as I'm not sure yet what will be in the outer border and don't want to limit myself by having the size chosen and already sewn on.

The marking of the sashing on this one will be a bear if I do it as I hope to and then there is a lot of celtic applique to do before this top is finished. I've been really looking forward to the sewing part, but am a bit aprehensive about the marking part.

I also have another strip quilt in the works as well as some other old piecing projects that I wouldn't mind seeing finished this year.

But first off, I need to get organized. This will allow me to be much more productive, with the added bonus of more enjoyable surroundings.

And then there is Ruthie. Aside from the stomach flu, she's been doing just great. Christmas wasn't met quite as enthusiastically as I expected, but she had a good time and she is interacting more and more with people who come to the house, which is really wonderful. In the next week or so, we're going to attempt potty training. With developmental delays, she hasn't seemed anywhere near ready before now, and I'm not really sure she is now, but you never know until
you try. Santa brought her a whole bunch of pretty underwear, which she loved, stacked and re-stacked and wore as hats. We'll see!

Until next time, I hope you are all happy and healthy and enjoying this quiet, post holiday time.