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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Blogging, comments, and quilting


I love quilting and I love writing which is why I started blogging in the first place.

CHQuilts actually grew out of another blog, CHMusings, which is, as the name implies, all about the things I ponder, what matters to me, and all 
that I love in my daily life. No question, CHMusings is personal. It is for that reason that quilting was often times a topic. When it dawned on me that I was writing about quilting quite often, I decided to start CHQuilts.

Funny, one of the most read posts in CHMusings, is about quilting, entitled, “New way to mark the quilt.” Feel free to check it out by clicking the link. 
Marking the quilt has always been a sore spot with me. One day I decided to try a new technique I'd heard about using Glad Press & Seal. 

Most of the posts I write come from my own experience. I try to write about as many teaching moments, or should I say learning moments. I'm learning new things all the time, as a former city girl who lives in the woods after moving to the Arkansas Ozarks. I do believe I have found my niche here.

For the record, I also write two other blogs, CHBlog, which has a political bent and CHontrack, which showcases my interest in NASCAR, have lost some appeal for me lately. I’m sorry to say, they have been a bit neglected lately. I still write in them from time-to-time, but honestly, I’d prefer to spend my days quilting.

I’ve found that the more I learn about quilting, the more I want to learn. There are always new questions, new techniques, and new ideas. There will always be a new quilt inside my head. 

I’m not a professional blogger by any means, I just write about things that interest me, but the one post about marking the quilt seemingly has sparked some interest. I love it when folks make comments. I love the conversational aspect of quilting and blogging. And I love the constant flow of information. It comes in so many forms. Quilters are generally curious and caring. Quilters love to share, and learn from one another. Quilters are a complete inspiration to me. There are so many aspects to quilting that I love, but meeting other quilters certainly ranks high on that list.

So thank you to everyone who reads these posts; thank you to everyone that can relate in any way to quilting, and of course, those who comment on this and all other platforms from Facebook to the Quiltingboard to Craftsy pages, etc. I love the conversations. I love learning from you all, for you make me a better quilter.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Just trying to make a point

I’ve decided to begin a new quilt project—a medallion quilt taught by Lynette Jennings for Craftsy. I remember Lynette Jennings from watching "Simply Quilts," so I'm thrilled to be one of her students.

This was a free class offered as the 2016 Block of the month from Craftsy. Since I wasn’t able to participate when the class was first offered, I am glad to be able to catch up.

The hardest part about this quilt so far, is picking out the colors. There are a lot of them. I could have just purchased the kit, but isn’t that why I buy fabrics? It took a little while, but I think I have this all sorted out finally.

This quilt looks complex, so I’m really anxious to get started. I do love a challenge. The first class was to make the hourglass blocks in the center along with the first border.

I had a heck of a time with all those points and bulky seams. It occurred to me that I have spent so much time practicing my skills in piecing and cutting, that I have neglected part of quilting that is really helpful—the pressing.

As I was putting my rows of three blocks together, I could hear Lynette Jennings' words echo in my head, “Press the rows in opposite directions.” Unfortunately, I heard her voice only after I finished putting the entire center together. I was not happy with my results, so I decided to take apart all the pieces and sew them again, pressing each row in opposite directions. 


Here are the before and after photos:
BEFORE
AFTER

A big improvement! Clearly, the before and after show that this little exercise was well worth my trouble. And despite my husband telling me I’m crazy for ‘unsewing’ that entire middle section, I’m glad I did. Besides, that is just how I roll.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Spray basting, plan B

I admit it; I was pretty bummed about my first attempting at spray basting a quilt, detailed in an earlier post

But that is behind me. What I didn’t reveal, because I only realized it later, is how important it is to read directions. I had no idea I was supposed to finish the bonding process by pressing the piece. Needless to say, my failing to perform that all-important step, resulted in the layers not sticking together. Once I realized my mistake, I was a little bummed. Beyond my own foolishness was the knowledge that I had to spray baste the whole quilt all over again. I knew it would be even be more challenging this time, since I had already quilted an entire motif, right in the center of the quilt that I would have to work around.

I decided that working on the floor was just not an option this time around, so I cleared off the dining room table, put the leaf in it, and set out to flatten out my quilt, upside down. Of course the table wasn’t big enough to accommodate the entire quilt, but I moved it around, folded back some at a time to spray every little nook and cranny, keeping the back as wrinkle-free as possible. Then I pressed it, as it sat on the table. I’m sure that wasn’t good for the table, but a woman has to do what a woman has to do. I made sure I kept the iron moving and it didn’t appear to get too hot three layers down. Once the back was all sprayed and pressed, I worked to secure the quilt top to the bottom fabric and batting which was now one layer since it was stuck together. I walked around that table a gazillion times, folding, smoothing, spraying, smoothing again, and finally pressing. Finally, it was all done. When all else fails, read the directions. So for now, I’m a fan of spray basting. It is so much easier than all those darned safety pins or sewing.

My next challenge is to quilt with or without a hoop. I tried using a large oval hoop, but that was just too cumbersome. Then I dragged out a smaller round one, which was a definite improvement. But, it is actually so much easier to quilt without a hoop at all. Hand quilting got a little easier, once I got the feel of it again. I recently watched Alex Anderson of Simply Quilts and The Quilt Show fame as she spoke about learning to hand quilt. She said to give yourself about 20 hours to get comfortable with hand quilting. I’d say that is about right.

It will be more fun to quilt when it gets cold outside. There is nothing more relaxing than quilting and snuggling all at the same time. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Accommodating my quilting bucket list

I’ve wanted to make a rag quilt for some time. I’ve also wanted to make a string quilt. Add to the mix, my desire to make a little quilted rug for my bathroom. I had a quilted rug before, but decided to use that as a table topper for my new file cabinet. So, I had nothing in front of the sink. That is no place for a naked floor, so I put all my bucket-list desires together and came up with a plan. 

This is the result. 



I took some leftover scraps from a yellow quilt, cut them into strips and made a few blocks. I got tired of that, and figured nine was enough, so I just alternated them with a few neutral yellow blocks. I made them all 6 ½-inch squares. Then I cut the same number of squares for backing, and a similar number of 5 ½ inch squares of batting. I placed all three together sandwiches together and sewed a simple “X” across them to hold them in place. I sewed a ½” seam between the squares.

 It was all done in one day. While watching TV that night, I snipped the seams, rather closely—in fact—close enough to make my fingers sore. I got it slightly wet and threw it into the dryer. The more I wash it the better it will look. For now though, it suits my purpose. I can’t wait to make a full size quilt with this simple method, but not until I invest in some ratchet scissors for all that snipping.

I have been saving old blue jeans just for this purpose. And, I have the cutest pink heart flannel to go with it. One of these days, I will actually get to it.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Quilting never ceases to amaze me

I just realized that one more aspect of quilting--one that I had never even considered--is how it has improved my writing.

No, I don't mean writing as in crafting a blog post, I mean my actual handwriting. I'm a handwriting fan, always have been and always will be. When I heard that some schools wanted to do away with teaching handwriting, I was livid. I think it is a vital communication skill that is also a well-rooted tradition. Imagine if John Hancock and other signers, simply printed their names on the Declaration of Independence. But that is another blog post in another blog. In fact, I already wrote it. https://rural01.blogspot.com/2012/07/cursive-writing-should-always-be-taught.html

But back to quilting. I've noticed that since I've been free-motion quilting, I have to consciously try to keep straight lines straight, without marking the fabric (because I hate to mark). I have learned to judge distance from seams and other lines of quilting; in essence training my eye. I used to be embarrassed about my writing, because it was always uphill. I compensated by always buying stationery with lines. 

I'm old enough to remember when we used to write letters to friends and family. I always loved to communicate, so I wrote lots of them. I used to receive many compliments on my penmanship. When I was in grade school, it was my best class. I remember once my mother-in-law had to send out thank you notes for some occasion. I was honored that she asked me to write them because she liked my writing. Personally, I don't think it is anything special, but I do enjoy writing, even though most of my writing is done on the keyboard now, like everyone else. 
grocery list

I did notice though, while writing a shopping list or addressing an envelope, or whatever I write, that I don't write uphill anymore. Oh, there is still a little hint of it, but not like before. By the way, please don't judge my handwriting skills from this tiny snippet. And by all means, don't judge my spelling skills here either. Who spells strawberries with only one "r"? 

Anyway, you get the point...This is just another reason to love quilting. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

I spray-basted a quilt for the first time

chquilts: ready to quilt
Ready to quilt my purple Dresden Plate quilt

I tried spray basting a quilt for the first time. Whoa, there has to be a better way. Or, I’m just not doing it right.

This exercise reminds me that when I said I loved every aspect of quilting, I lied. It isn’t a lie really, I’m just in denial about this part of the quilt making process. I have never been fond of this fundamental step-- putting a quilt top together with its batting and backing fabric—before the real fun begins. It is a very important step however.

I’ve tried several different ways and haven’t found one that doesn’t make me grit my teeth. I’ve used the traditional safety pin method, where I generally get aggravated or impatient or both, causing me to start skimping on the number of pins I use. I’ve tried Sharon Shamber’s method of rolling the quilt onto boards and then basting the three parts together a little at a time. She makes it look so easy. This is probably one of the best methods I’ve seen, but it remains timely and cumbersome with a large quilt in a small space, which is what I have to work with. This is why I wanted to try the spray basting method. I used 505 adhesive spray.

The only positive thing I can say about this step in the quilt making process, is that it is necessary. Without it, there is no process; There is no quilt. For me, that is just not an option. So, I will continue to grit my teeth.

While I recognize that perfecting this technique would be well worth it, this was just my first time spray basting. I do see the benefits. Admittedly, I struggled with getting all the layers smooth. I disliked all the on-the-floor, off-the-floor, on-the-floor that was necessary. I think hanging the quilt would make it much easier than rearranging all the living room furniture, shooing the cats away, and hoping I didn’t glue all my belongings together, not to mention the bending, stooping, and walking in circles. My only hope is to try Patsy Thompson’s method, which involves hanging the quilt and letting gravity help keep things straight. I will try that next time.

Spray basting was only part of my problem

This is also the first time I used an oversized backing fabric. I had picked out a fabric that I already had, but didn’t really like it. I decided to purchase a nice piece of lavender print that was 104” wide. I bought four yards of it.

I have been looking at this quilt for some time, actually. It was started ages ago. As outlined in a prior blog post, initially I wasn’t happy with it. It was square, so I enlarged it, adding an entire row with four brand new blocks, all the sashing and cornerstones. I was amazed how well that worked. If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know. Then I decided I wanted to add the final border. I love how that turned out. It makes the quilt about the right size and in my mind, sets off the pattern nicely. But working with all that fabric was a headache.

First I got out my iron and ironing board. Yikes! By the time I pressed the last of it, the first part was already wrinkled. I just looked at it for a few days, wondering what to do next. I laid out the back, unrolled the queen sized batting on top, then added the quilt top. There was lots leftover. I trimmed away some of it, which helped a little. The table I was working on was always adequate in the past. I’m not sure why it was such a struggle this time, but it certainly was. Finally, I folded the would-be quilt, with all three pieces and left them for a while. I had to figure out what, where, and how to get this thing basted.

Finally I decided Friday night was it. Tired of looking at this pile of pretty purple fabric, I want to start quilting again. I decided the living room was it. I vacuumed. I moved all the furniture. I used painter’s tape to secure the corners and the middle of the backing fabric. Of course the tape didn’t stick to my vinyl flooring. I did the best I could though and spray basted one half at a time, first the top to the batting, then the batting to the backing. Then the other half. I did the best I could. Finally, I was able to slide a quilting hoop into the middle and secured it into place. Just the look of a quilt ready to be quilted is comforting to me. I placed the quilt hoop onto a wooden snack tray. The quilt drapes onto the floor, but should stay in relatively good form. Ryan, my cat loves new quilts, so I placed a towel on it to protect it from cat hair. Ryan is now its guardian.

I’ve decided to hand-quilt this quilt. I think the traditional pattern deserves traditional quilting. I’ve already taken a few stitches. Oh my, this is not comfortable. I am very rusty. I will need lots of practice, but that will come. I started by drawing a spiral into the middle of one of the Dresden plates. Wow, this is harder than I remembered. So much for quilting being a relaxing activity. Right now, I’m tense, the lighting is terrible where I’m working, my stitches are not uniform, and I definitely need to find my rhythm. That will come. Now, I’m ready for those cold, winter nights. Bring it on!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Lone quilter

People often ask me if I belong to a guild or quilting group. Sometimes they look at me funny when I tell them, no, I’m a lone quilter.

While I’m not averse to the social aspects of quilting in a crowd, lone quilting is more than an activity to me; it is a philosophy. I think of quilting as a form of meditation. It is an activity that allows for deep personal thought. It is therapy. I find I am very busy these days and juggle lots of responsibility. There is seldom enough time in the day to accomplish all that needs to be done, so often times, I don’t even try. I am not the kind of person that frets over a sink full of dirty dishes. I figure they will wait for me. I always get around to the chores that need doing, but I get around to them on my time.

Quilting is one activity I want to make time for. It is a kind of precious gift I give to myself, not unlike baking myself a birthday cake. I relish the alone time, feeling free, as my mind wanders wherever it wants to go.

I am a self-taught quilter who enjoys learning new things, especially something creative that inspires me. And though I’ve been quilting for nearly 20 years, I still consider myself a newbie. There is so much to learn, to try, and to practice. This type of learning requires deep concentration, where all my faculties can engage with little distraction.

But just because I don’t physically go elsewhere to work on a quilt, that doesn’t mean I don’t belong to quilting groups. In fact, I do belong to several on the computer. Modern quilting allows the best of both worlds--lone quilting and social interaction. Internet quilting groups are great for advice, counsel, and camaraderie. Online sources also offer nearly endless learning potential.

Ironically, one of the most inspirational aspects of quilting for me, is its rich history. The quilting bee was a huge part of the history of quilting; its root remains relevant today in various guilds and church groups. I have always been drawn to stories about brave American pioneer families who traveled west to seek a better life. Quiltmaking was a huge part of the American story in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Quilting was a social activity for women of the day, but moreso, handmade quilts were a necessity for survival during long, cold winter months. Women’s use of fabric from worn out clothing and livestock feed sacks was necessary for their survival.

Socialization with other women, as well as the need to finish sewing together the pieces of cloth that would warm their families, was probably as psychologically necessary to pioneer women as lone quilting is to me today.

Quiltmaking has gone through such evolution. No longer strictly functional, the modern quilt story is much more complex. Traditional function remains one of its amenities, but quilts today represent everything from a way to earn a living to the creation of fine art. Quilts come in various sizes, from huge bed quilts to table runners, wall hangings, and candle pads. They use design and color in new ways as well. Modern quilts range from the traditional log cabin, bear paw, and churn dash quilt blocks to the complex computer-drawn star points. There are also new uses of a variety of fabric and thread. The creations are limited only by their creator's imagination and skill.

There is no end to the inspiration, which is largely what intrigues me the most. I want to make a rag quilt, a one-block wonder, bargello, art quilts, and so much more. I want to improve my paper-piecing techniques, and learn new free-motion quilting designs, as well as hone my skills on those I’ve already done. I want to return to hand-quilting, and further experiment with color.

I finished my first quilt in 2003. I have made many more since. I knew then that I loved quiltmaking and I would be a quilter for the rest of my life. My quilting journey has shown me there is no end to this creative process. Every new idea brings about an endless stream of new ideas, limited only by our own imagination.

While I will likely never go to a quilting group, I do belong to several virtual groups. The computer is another tool that has enhanced the quilting experience. I have learned so much because of the ability to watch other quilters on videos. I owe each of them a debt.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

I'm happy now


I like how this quilt is going to turn out. It should be named for Goldilocks, as it will end up being ‘just the right size.’

There is still another border I want to put on it, just to finish it off. I am thinking a darker border; my husband thinks a lighter one. Then again, I may just leave it as is. I like it, so I will just have to audition a few fabrics to determine if I like it better with another border, or not. There are no time constraints on this project, so I will have to simply ponder my options.

Pondering my options is, for me, the most challenging part of quilt making. It is also my favorite. I am definitely a pro-choice quilter.

I’m already so glad I decided to fix this quilt top. It would have been too small, at only four squares wide and four long.

I defy anyone to pick out which row I just added to this quilt top, which has been sitting around unfinished since 2015.
While it was only one row, it turned out to be a bit more than I bargained for.

I had to do a little unsewing. There were some decisions I had made early on that I no longer recalled, like making the center circle of the Dresden an alternate color. I had to review how to applique a perfect circle, since I forgot how to do it.

I initially made the sashing and sewed it on without the cornerstones. I had to rip it out. Then I made the cornerstones, five in all, wrong. I reversed the colors, so I had to rip those out too. Fortunately, much of the fabric from my blunders was reusable. It was just a matter of getting it right.

Once I make the decision on the final border or no border, I will add backing and batting and it will be time to quilt.

Finishing this will probably take at least a year, if I decide to quilt it by hand. I’m starting to rethink that decision, at least partially. There are lots of seams in this quilt, which makes hand-quilting a challenge. Not only that, but I haven’t quilted in years. It will take some time to get regulate my stitches and be comfortable with the tiny needle that I’m no longer used to. The light lavender in the sashing and cornerstones has a silver fleck to it, making it heavier than the other fabrics. That might make for some tricky quilting by hand as well. The solution may be to combine both hand and machine quilting. The time frame will likely remain unchanged because I want to hand-quilt. There is nothing more satisfying than a cold winter’s day with a quilt hoop draped on my lap, a cat or two, or more hanging around, as I work my needle back and forth through the layers of a quilt. It doesn’t hurt that I like this quilt and will enjoy working on it.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Organization and efficiency combine to get things done

Being organized is great on its own. Not only does it add to efficiency, but I’ve found recently that it also will allow me to finish what I’ve started.
CHQuilts: purple Dresden Plate quilt

I began this quilt a couple years ago—a purple Dresden Plate quilt.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. I had toyed with the idea of hand-quilting it rather than quilting it on the machine. Since it is a traditional design, I thought traditional quilting would be fitting.

Not long ago, I unfolded it and was a bit surprised that it was a square, rather than a rectangle. I was bothered by that. I have no idea why I did that.

For a few weeks, I have been thinking about this, wondering if there was enough fabric to finish one more row. I know I had all the material in a plastic container that had been used for this quilt. I hadn’t done anything with it when I was organizing my stash recently.

Without actually really looking in the box, I figured there probably wasn’t enough fabric to add another row. I reasoned that since I had planned to add a border around it in a darker color anyway, I could simply add two borders on the top and bottom with one along the sides. That wasn’t an ideal solution, but it would make the quilt rectangular.

Since I had recently finished my baby quilt, and had a “clean” quilting space, I finally decided to open the box. I was surprised to see enough leftover fabric to finish four more blocks. Not only were there large pieces of fabric, but there were also several of the 4” fan blades or wedges, already cut. One “plate” consists of 20 wedges, which means I needed 80 of them. There may have been that many, although there were only quantities of about 15 different fabrics. I wanted no duplicates, so cut a few more to make up the difference.

In the box, there were also several squares of the background prints--alternating white-on-white and white-on-cream paisley prints—already cut.

The only thing left was to check out the sashing fabrics.

This is where the organization comes in. Since I had just “filed” my fabric by color, into cube shelves, it was simple to take a quick peek. I pulled out just what I needed in minutes.

I have been busy the last couple days, sewing the Dresdens together and hand-stitching them onto the background fabric. The four new blocks are almost completed. Hand quilting this quilt will be a marvelous project this winter.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Is anything better than finishing a quilt?

CHQuilts: Jeff's baby quilt
For the first time since 2015, I can proudly say I finished a quilt. It feels good!

Oh, I have done a couple of small projects since then, some seasonal table runners and pillows, but my last actual finished quilt was my pink flamingo quilt in July 2015. I loved that quilt. And now I love this baby quilt, lovingly created for our nephew and his wife’s first baby.

This was so much more than a gift for a new baby. It was a gift to me as well, a breakthrough, a therapeutic sense of freedom. I needed to get back into the activity I loved—quilting.

When my husband had a stroke a couple of years ago, our lives changed forever. I became a care giver. Between that and daily chores—both his and mine—as well as seemingly continuous doctor and therapy visits, there wasn’t much time for leisure activities. But, we’ve settled into a bit of a routine now. I found myself longing to return to the activity I loved. I still have so much to learn. I have barely scratched the surface in the past 20 years of my quilt making. Besides, I am the kind of person for whom it is just no big deal to leave a sink full of dirty dishes if there is quilting to be done. I know those dishes will wait for me. Same holds true with the vacuuming, laundry, scooping kitty litter, taking out the garbage, cutting the grass, and all the other things that need to be done. I consider life to be a constant re-evaluation of ever-changing priorities. And for me, quilting is toward the top of the list. There are times when other things take precedence, but that is the beauty of flexibility. Basically, my philosophy is to do whatever moves me at the time. There are of courses exceptions, but hopefully, those have subsided for a while.

I enjoyed making this Lemoyne Star quilt. From what I can see, all the white on white fabric is right side up, any seams are in-tact, although I did have to repair a couple that didn’t quite catch the fabric in the flange area, the points haven’t been chopped off, and the quilting looks pretty decent overall. I’m happy with it and will be proud to give it away.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Quilting is not like riding a bike

Lemoyne star
My 8-pointed Lemoyne Star

When I decided to get back to quilting, I figured I’d dust off my sewing machine and with little effort could commence to creating my next masterpiece. I soon found out it wasn’t that simple. I realized that quilting requires not just experience, but practice. It isn’t as easy as it looks, or as easy as it used to be. Taking a hiatus left me (seamingly) skill-less.

My first project would be a baby quilt, using six Lemoyne Star blocks, some sashing, perhaps cornerstones, and borders.

Normally I like all the aspects of quiltmaking, from fabric selection to precision cutting to piecing, to quilting, and finally binding.

With rotary cutter in hand, I started cutting out all the pieces of fabric I’d need. That went pretty well. Then I set out to sew them together. Wow, why did I start with an 8-point star? What would have been wrong with a nice simple design that didn’t include y-seams and points to match, and triangles on the bias. Yikes! What did I get myself into?

I set out to watch some You Tube videos on making the star. Alex Anderson of thequiltshow.com one of my personal heroes, had a great on-line tutorial. I watched it, but when I got ready to make the blocks, I couldn’t find it again. Edyta Sitar had a great tutorial, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qV-LPJpl0JU and so did Jaye Lapachet from her blog at Artquiltmaker.com.

Looked easy enough. When I set out to make my blocks, it wasn’t as easy as it looked. I had made Y-seams before with little trouble, but coming back from a two-year hiatus, quilting was like a new activity. My experience meant nothing. It wasn’t like riding a bike, where you just get back on and the balance, the peddling, and the steering all works again. I was taken aback at how difficult it was to manipulate the fabric so as to not have puckers and to get the blocks to lay flat. The best advice I can give when making these blocks with a Y-seam is do not sew into the seam allowance.

Lemoyne star baby quilt blocks
Lemoyne Star baby quilt blocks
The first day I made two blocks. Yes, there was some seam ripping, and some interesting language emanating from my quilting space, but I managed to get them done. The second day I made two more. Then the third day, I made the final two. It got easier as it went. The points match pretty well. The blocks lay flat, with the help of some spray starch and a very hot iron.

I probably used all the methods in the aforementioned tutorials when creating the blocks, so on the back of the piece, my seams don’t all go in the same direction. I may have some problem with that when I go to quilt the piece, but I will try to remember that. Once I get to the quilting, I'm sure that is a brand new skill to learn as well. 

All in all, I think the blocks look pretty good. I predict this will be a fine baby quilt. At least I hope so.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

I’m back; Once again, I can call myself a quilter

This pile of fabric will soon become a baby quilt

Once I finally made up my mind that no matter what, I was going to return to my beloved quilting, I wasn’t sure how to proceed. It had been a couple years since I did any serious quilting. But when my husband got sick and I became his full time caretaker, there was no longer time for quilting. I was pretty busy running to doctors, physical therapists, and doing my chores and those he used to do. But, I needed to quilt. I had to make time for my favorite thing. Besides, quilting is good therapy.

I wasn’t sure what my first project would be. I have a couple of things started—a Dresden Plate quilt top that is finished—maybe—and just needs to be quilted. I have to decide if I want to leave it as is—square, or if I want to make another row of Dresdens to make it rectangular. That is my preferred option, but I’m not sure I have enough fabric for the sashing and borders. I have a 12-block Block of the Month calendar quilt top, but it is so busy with so many colors and patterns that I really never decided how I wanted to finish it. Just adding backing and batting would create a really small quilt. That may be alright, but I haven’t decided what to do as yet. I also have my Ginny Beyer hand-sewn quilt kit that I had been working on, but I'm not in the mood for that. To me, hand sewing is best for sitting in front of the television. But therapy is what I’m after; I want to retreat to a place in the far reaches of my brain and completely lose myself there. I probably could have started my return to quilting sooner, but the uncertainty of these projects caused me some anxiety. That was definitely not what I was after, so,...

Then I learned that a family member was going to have a baby. Perfect. I would start a new project—a baby quilt. I could complete a new baby quilt in a much shorter time than a full sized quilt. And I love finishing projects. My psyche is happier already.

I looked online for a pattern I liked, but nothing really spoke to me. So, I decided to check out my Electric Quilt software program. Of course, it no longer worked since my computer upgraded to Windows 10. Have I mentioned that I hate Windows 10? The support folks at Electric Quilt were wonderful and solved my problem by sending me a new, upgrade. It works like a champ now. Good support people are the best!

Finally, I decided I'd piece a quilt using quilt blocks. I like the traditional look of a simple quilt. I chose the Lemoyne Star, a 4-color 8-pointed star. I’d make 12” blocks; two across and three down, with sashing and borders. I chose some fabric from my newly-organized stash, picking out a pretty yellow, green, lavender, and pink. I even found a small flower print that had all those colors in it. Perfect. I can't wait to get started.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Taking my first steps back to quilting


fabric stash 

My quilting has definitely been on hiatus of late. When my husband became ill two years ago, I just didn’t have the time for leisurely activities or creative expression, both of which I consider quilting to be.

Between trips to doctors, supervising his exercises, along with the his, mine, and ours chores, not to mention the exhaustion factor, I just couldn’t find the time or concentration to quilt.

Either things are settling down or I’m becoming really efficient at my routine, but quilting is regaining a focus in my life. I still don’t have much spare time to actually sit down at my sewing machine, but my love of quilting is at least working its way back into my thoughts. That is a start. I have begun catching up on the latest quilting videos, and started organizing my fabric and my quilting space.

I recently purchased a couple of cube shelves for my bedroom. I don’t quilt there, but that is where I have some room to store my fabric. I also bought some comic book boards. One day I dragged out my ironing board, turned on some music and began pressing and winding the fabric around the boards. They stacked so neatly. I placed them into the cubes, assorted by color. My fabric now looks so neat and organized. I can see what I have, determine what colors I have or need to purchase for a project. This is an ideal solution for me.

I saw this done online somewhere. I wish I remembered where, or by whom because I would love to thank them for the idea. This is a fantastic organizational method for storing fabric. It works great. I used to keep my stash in a couple of deep tubs in my closet. I could never find what I was looking for, so I moved it to under-the-bed storage containers. That wasn’t ideal either. The containers were bulging and the lids no longer fit.

I have such a variety of sizes, but this method still works. When I started collecting fabric, I generally just bought fat quarters. It didn’t take long before I realized that wasn’t enough for most projects, so I moved up to half yard pieces and then to a yard or two.

Quilters often ask others how much fabric they buy for their stash. The answers are as varied as quilts themselves. I remain very frugal, so I generally buy a yard just of what I like. If it is something I really love, I will buy two yards. If I am gaga over it, I’ll even buy more.

I recently redecorated my room. On one small wall, between the master bath and a closet, I decided to place my fabric cubes. Above them, I hung what used to be a pot rack turned quilt rack. I hung one of my favorite quilts from it. I added a few other quilty things. This tiny area of my room looks like a quilting studio. Ah, something to dream about.

All this is a sign of my strong desire to find my way back to my sewing machine and my next quilting project. For now, I’ll just have to ponder what that next project will be. I can't wait to find out...