Recently I worked on my blocks for the Four Seasons quilt group mystery quilt. Pretty Girl was my go-to machine for that. :)
When I shifted back to working on the star quilt, I decided to use some inexpensive fabric to "play" with first since I haven't done this pattern in decades, and the other time I made it I was using a cardboard template, cutting pieces with scissors and hand sewing the pieces together. Phew!
This time I'm following Eleanor Burns' method, so there's a little bit of a learning curve...and I don't want to waste any on trial and error.
Yesterday and today are my Cornell Backyard Birdcount days. Yesterday we had a Carolina Wren show up. Acording to Cornell, these birds have been steadily moving north so aren't considered uncommon, but it was a first for me to see one. :)
Yesterday we had lake effect snow off and on throughout the day, ultimately adding upwards of another ten inches or so of new snow.
Thursday and today are my bird count days for this week regarding Cornell's Project Feeder Watch, so I've been busy watching birds (and others) who show up for a bite to eat or a sip of water.
We have had just a wee bit of fine snow off and on through the day but cold temperatures - so far we've made it up to 12°F - which is actually much warmer than was forecast, so I'm feeling grateful.
Since it isn't much fun to be outside, I've just started looking at the fabrics which are likely to be players in the next quilt I'll be starting soon. It'll be a Lone Star quilt (aka Star of Bethlehem, aka Native Amercan star, and several other names as well depending on just how one does it). Like the double wedding ring this one will be a gift (for a friend this time) and will also be queen size.
Between the colors of the birds, the deer, the squirrels, and the fabric, I've been able to mostly ignore the cloudy skies. :) And since we've made lasagne, beef and veggie soup, home-made bread, and chocolate walnut drop cookies, I'll have plenty of time over the next few days to look for inspirational images, and then begin to cut fabric! I hope to use all three of my machines: Lida, Pretty Girl, and the modern Janome - in piecing this quilt.
As I'm watching fine snowflakes coming down yet again...
The double wedding ring queen sized quilt requested by one of my daughters-in-law is done! I was battling a rotten cold all week, but since I had gotten the binding made and machine stitched to the front just before the germs got me, I was down to just the hand stitching of the binding to the back. So, on the days when I had a little bit of energy, I had the perfect quilt project to work on. Those little bits of time added up, and now...it's finished. Huzzah! :)
The bias binding worked well as it curved in and out, and the quilt lays nice and flat when I spread it out on the floor. I'm also pretty pleased with how the quilting turned out.
Weather wise, we hit 30 °F today -woo hoo! Earler in the week we picked up an additional 8-10" of snow, and every day since we've continued to get an additional 1-2". Since the temperatures have stayed in the teens and twenties for highs each day, it just keeps getting a little deeper each day. Tomorrow night into Monday and possibly even Tuesday our area is projected to possibly get another 10-16" so it could be interesting around here! When the deer came around today, the snow was nearly up to their bellies, so if we get more as predicted, it could be tough going for them. I'm really glad we put burlap around the rhododendrons out back, and around the hollies and azalia out front. Last winter the deer chewed the heck out of these plants. The reality, of course, is that deer will eat pretty much anything when they're hungry.
Here's what it looked like just the other day -
I think that calls for some contrast. Fortunately for me, my Christmas cactus has decided to be a Valentine cactus this year...
Today I mustered up enough energy to cut out the stage one pieces of the mystery quilt for the Four Seasons Quilters group I belong to. Tomorrow I hope to get those sewn together. I also need to get the twin sized Project Linus flimsy loaded on the long arm and get that quilted. After that I need to start on a Lone Star (queen size) quilt for a friend. Lots of good projects for this cold, snowy weather. :)
The Syracuse University basketball game was really good even though they didn't win, so I didn't end up trimming the quilt until this morning.
Once I did that it was time to tackle making continuous bias binding. Missouri Star Quilt Company has a YouTube video which gave me the gist of it but it was early days for them and I couldn't see how and where Jenny D. was "crossing" the marked lines, so I poked around briefly and found text and photo tutorial which I really found helpful: Generations Quilt Patterns . Also look for the link on the page to part one of the tutorial - that has some great charts regarding the amount of fabric you need to create the size and amount of binding you want.
I found the cross-hatch marks to be particularly helpful when I was pinning the "tube" prior to sewing the seam.
This is what the tube looked like after sewing the seam -
Then it was a simple matter of cutting on the line and... voila! continuous bias binding. After lunch we moved my sewing table and my Janome out to the sunroom and I basked in warmth and sunlight (the outside temperature was about 14 °F) while I slowly stitched the binding to the front side of the quilt. It's real progress! :)
Hooray! I finished the quilting on the DWR this morning. There were some glitches along the way, most notably on the 23rd when I thought I would be finishing my last three pantograph areas. I had taken a break for about an hour and a half. That doesn't really seem like enough time for the metals to have changed temperature and therefore tension, but it had. I, of course, didn't check the back...just merrily zipped along doing all three. Then I checked my stitches on the back. The tension wasn't even and the stitches looked really poor (front looked great). Well, no one to blame but my lazy self, so I spent some more quality time with my seam ripper. After that I just needed some away time. Visited with some family on Sunday, and today I zipped out the last bits of quilting with no issues, and with absolutely no adjustment to the tension on the machine. Quilting gremlins, ya gotta love 'em!
So, here we go - more pics of my first DWR as it nears the end of the process:
This is the pre-trimmed top
The "pansy" pantograph. I bought this and several other flower pantos from Urban Elementz several years ago.
Used one of my curved template tools to do the "leaf" shape on the little green squares.
And free motion leaves in the little melon shapes.
Tonight while I'm watching S.U. basketball I'll work on trimming the batting and backing to match the front scallop shape. Tomorrow - deciding which fabric I'll use to bind it, and getting that cut, ironed, and sewn to the front. I almost always stitch it to the back by hand. I just like that process and how it looks. Every now and then I do attach the binding strictly by machine...but not on this one!
Yesterday I started quilting the DWR. I'm very happy with the color of the cream colored thread and how it looks on the quilt. I was not, however, happy with the pink I chose to use on the arcs. Not the thread company's fault...I just did not like the color and how it looked in the areas where I had thread buildup...not to mention all my wobbles which could not be missed on the white backing. I know I should just use a busy fabric on the back, but I also love the convenience of wide backing fabric so I dont have to piece it. Plus, I just really like the look of the "reads as a solid" back on this.
So here was my mess:
I had really wanted to use that pink thread on this, so created plenty of ripping activity. What a fun way to spend hours of the day...and to think I did it to myself! Well, after that I got to do more ripping this morning when a small bit of thread hung up in the bobbin case area. Fortunately, that created a loopy tension issue so even though I didn't realize it for a few minutes since the top tension looked okay, the time it took to rip that wee bit of mess took much less time. Then I was off to the races, although since I'm doing a lot of stitch in the ditch work, and then a panto in the larger cream colored piece, it's more tortoise than hare speed. ;)
While I was waiting for the Fil-Tech trilobal poly thread to arrive for the DWR I decided to get going on a donation quilt for Project Linus. I love a nine patch on point and wanted to actually piece a quilt on my "new" old girl, so I was off and running. I used my Accuquilt Go! to cut the 2 1/2' squares (I hadn't yet received my 2 1/2" strip die from Accuquilt which I had asked for as a Christmas gift), and I already had the 6 1/2" large square die so it was very quick and easy to get my initial pieces cranked out and ready to piece. I belong to Four Seasons Quilt group in nearby Scriba, and we were gifted lots of donation fabric last year with the stipulation that it be used for charity quilts. Charity/donation quilts are common within that group so it certainly fit what many of us like to do. I had waited until others had had a chance to pick out fabrics they wanted to work with...I sometimes like the challenge of having to work with fabric that might not be my first choice. So if you look at some of my other quilts from 2014, you'll see that with this one I'm once again working on using up the striped fabric. There was a whole bolt of this in 100% cotton, and it's nice, not flowery, so it could work well for a generic boy's quilt as well as girl's. Project Linus is a favorite group for me - I like that they donate to a variety of service organizations - and they're always indicating that they have a special need for teens and boys, so for the past year or so I've shifted to making teen sized and try to choose fabrics and colors that would work for a boy as well as a girl.
Well, in just a few days of a bit of treadling, I got the nine-patch to the flimsy [68 1/2"X 51 1/4" pre-quilted] stage:
In the meantime, the thread arrived for the DWR, so I finished up this donation top (my Fons and Porter tool for setting and corner triangles made it fast and easy to cut the correct sized triangles) and now have that to go on the quilt frame once I have DDL's DWR quilted.
Oh, we also have a monthly Take-N-Make project in the Four Seasons group. It has to be quick and easy to make. Although our January meeting date got postponed because of nasty weather, I did actually get the project done before that scheduled meeting date. This month it was a fabric "box" from American Patchwork and Quilting December 2013 issue:
At first I wasn't sure what I would do with it, but I picked fabric and colors that I like just as an incentive. I have found it very useful! My thread cutting scissors when I'm using the "old girl" since her thread cutter isn't very sharp anymore, and my seam ripper lean at just the right angle and stick up just enough to easily grab whenever I need them...more often than I'd like some days! ;)
SO, in the early days of this new year I've already finished a small project, and have a flimsy-in-waiting to be quilted once the DWR is done and off the frame. Not bad, especially for me. Right behind those, I have committed to making a queen size Native American Star/Lone Star quilt for a good friend.
Yesterday I spent a lot of time figuring out how I wanted to quilt the DWR. As a kid in junior high school, there was a test that everyone had to take that showed your apptitudes...you know, to help you decide your career path. Well, it's funny I ended up as a quilter, because I scored in the lowest possible percentile for spatial skills. You know, the ability to "see" and manipulate images in your mind's eye. It means that while most folks can have a sense of how something might look, I have no clue. I do use a piece of vinyl to try sketching out potential quilting, but most often I still end up actually trying several different things and ripping out what I don't like. That was my day yesterday. I didn't take any pics, but I tried serveral different options on the pieced arcs. Ultimately, I decided to go with plain old stitch-in-the-ditch on the arcs. I'm using a pansy panto (square) that I've reduced down to fit the larger off-white areas. I'm *thinking* I may do free motion leaves in the little off-white pieces...the jury is still out on that.