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Showing posts with label flying geese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flying geese. Show all posts

Monday, October 23, 2017

Don’t go to a therapist; quilt

Chain-piecing can look like such a mess!
This weekend, I had a gaggle of flying geese to sew. Well, they weren’t exactly flying geese, but a quilt border that was similar. Sometimes I enjoy this mindless, repetitive chain-piecing work while other times, I get impatient and just want it to be done so I can move onto the next step. I’m happy to say the former worked for me on Sunday. I turned on the radio, to listen and even sing along to some of my beloved oldies. The rest of the time, I just let my mind wander.

Perhaps it is because I’m in the autumn of my life or perhaps it was the music that brought me back, but I thought about when I was a little girl, how happy, carefree and different life was back then. It was really nice not to have a care in the world. So, as I pressed my foot pedal and guided my squares under the needle, reliving that childhood experience. Right then, I felt no stress, no anxiety, no worry, just the mechanics of sewing.

At other times, I let my mind wander toward mistakes I’ve made, people I’ve known, or places I’ve lived. I thought about regrets. In 65 years, there are plenty of opportunities where it might be advantageous to go back to travel a different path, to think about the what if’s or the coulda, shoulda, wouldas. But what is the point of that? The unknown along a different path could have led to far worse consequences than any I’ve actually experienced. So, I’ve ruled out regrets. There is just no purpose for them. I’d much rather go about solving whatever problems come up along the way. I think that is more akin to my philosophy. And, I think I’ve done that. Perhaps I didn’t choose wisely at the time, but who knows? It all seems to have turned out alright; here I am, without a care in the world, creating something that hopefully, will be beautiful. What could be better?

From time to time, I would snap back to the present, and wonder, “How many of
The pile really does get smaller, I think???
these suckers do I have left?” I was reminded of the kids in the back seat asking, “Are we there yet?”

That was so annoying, I reasoned, so I dismissed my own question with the conscious thought, “There is still a huge pile. Just keep sewing.”

It was a rainy Sunday, one of my favorite kind of day for sewing. I was able to glance out the window behind my sewing machine as the raindrops bounced off the leaves of my plants. as my mind bounced back into the past. I remembered sitting in school on a rainy day, my feet cold from socks wet from old leaky boots. Turning my head caused my wet hair to tickle the back of my neck, giving me a quick chill. 


I remembered how just after the rain, my friends and I would ride our bikes through the puddles left behind. We had to hurry before the water soaked into the ground. We had to get up to speed quickly so we could glide through the water, our legs spread and our feet far from the pedals to protect them from the muddy water. Sheer momentum kept the pedals turning. Seems to me our feet always got wet anyway. Ah, such great memories.


Half-way there!
While I didn’t utter a sound, there was plenty of talking to myself. And before you know it, my pile of squares was all sewn onto their rectangles. Then, it was time to turn the pile and sew squares onto the other side of the rectangle. Good, there was time to have another meaningful dialogue with myself and more good things to conjure up from my mind chock full of happy times.

This is just one more aspect of quilting that I find invaluable. There are times when extreme focus is required, and yet, this activity is just the opposite. I enjoy both of these extremes, and this is just another reason I love quilting.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Quilting challenges; jumping in with both feet

My quilting pursuit has led to an insatiable desire to further challenge myself. And, there are so many possibilities. It seems there are always new skills to practice and new ideas to ponder; there is always something to try that I haven't done before. From what I can see, quilting has no bounds.

This is such an exciting time to learn, not just about quilting, but whatever our interest. It is easier than ever before to get answers to each question that comes to mind. Just Google it. Someone has probably asked the same question already to which multiple answers are available.

For me, and my latest quilting obsession, my questions are often satisfied by the abundance of You Tube videos filled with instruction and inspiration. I'm so grateful to the many artists that have come forward to share information and techniques with the rest of us.

CHQuilts: Stars on Point quiltMy most recent quilt, 'Stars on Point,' was more to me than a comfy coverlet for the bed. It was a learning experience.

I learned new skills and honed some of those I had already become familiar with. I've already written about some of those in earlier posts, but to summarize, the following are just a few of my challenges from this project:
  • Moving bravely away from monochromatic projects; This is the first time I designed a two-color quilt.
  • More precise piecing; There is no end to the need for practice matching points and keeping seams straight. Precision is necessary in cutting, sewing, and pressing.
  • Practicing paper piecing; Some of these blocks were created using paper-piecing. I hated it when I first tried it. Now, I'm seeing how useful it can be and am anxious to further explore this technique.
  • Practice at free-motion quilting; I will always need to practice this skill. Thankfully, I have noticed an improvement since I first started. I am now more comfortable free-motion quilting. This is the second quilt I have done this way--as a quilt-as-you-go (QAYG) project, where the quilting is done before assembling the quilt rather than after. I'm hooked. I've learned that quilting is more than a way to anchor the piecing. It is a design element all its own, enhancing the look of the design.
  • First steps at modifying and enhancing a design; This was a Block-of-the-Month (BOM) project. When the year was over, there were 12 blocks that if sewn together and quilted traditionally would have made a perfectly acceptable and beautiful quilt. But I wanted more. So, I decided to set the blocks on-point, added 6 additional blocks and matching side triangles, to form a secondary pattern. Because the blocks are the same and form a linear pattern that travels across the quilt, they serve to draw the quilt together providing unity to what would have otherwise been just random blocks.
  • Laying out blocks on point, complete with figuring set in triangles; I have never done this before and didn't have the first idea how to start.
  • Carrying out the desired pattern into the set in triangles; I had no idea how to do this. Math equations, triangles and me, normally do not get along well, but I muddled through it.
  • Practice with Electric Quilt 5 (I bought it years ago and never used it); EQ5 saved me by allowing me to draw a template and figure the size pieces to cut for the setting triangles and corners.
  • Designing a pleasing patchwork backing; I wanted this quilt to be yellow and white gingham on the back, to be reversible, so I needed to follow a pattern on the front and on the back at the same time. I took digital pictures of the layout to help with that task.
The task at hand continues the challenge
CHQuilts: Black and white and pink all over quilt diagramI am currently working on Leah Day's Building Blocks Quilt Along, which I have also mentioned previously in CHQuilts. I've named it simply, "Black and white and pink all over."

The work on these quilt blocks is almost finished. The diagram at left isn't current, since I've already completed three of the six remaining blocks.

I've decided however, that it might be fun to challenge myself on this project as well. The blocks are going to finish at 8" x 8". There are 72 of them, so the quilt will be lap size. I've decided to add a few blocks to it. I have never made a quilt with varied sized blocks before, but that is my aim. I have no idea if this is going to work, or if it will look good until I lay it all out. I will do keep my fingers crossed.

CHQuilts: pink signature blockTo figure out dimensions and what I still need to accomplish my goal, I printed out this diagram. I cut out the individual blocks and pasted them onto graph paper, drawing in the additions. So far, I've sewed a couple of them. There will be a few 16" x 16" blocks, a some  4" x 4's" and perhaps a few 8" x 4" blocks.

My first endeavor was to add my favorite block--the double star block--which I refer to as my signature block. I have made several table runners using it and I have also put it into my last two quilts. This will make the third.

I just love everything about this block and I never tire of making it. I did, however, have to figure out how to cut the pieces to the right size since the instructions I have is for a 12" x 12" block. So, once again, I used EQ5 to draw the block and print out the proper dimensions. After many hours of trying to figure out the program again, it worked! This block is 16" x 16," so it will be one of three large blocks in the quilt.

CHQuilts: pink and black flying geeseI've pieced these three blocks, (left)--the second pic contains two 4" x 8" blocks--that will be used for fillers in this quilt. I haven't quilted them yet, but am thinking of an overall stippling design. I could probably stipple all day long. That is real progress, since the first time I did this overall meander stitch, it was anything but comfortable. Now, it feels perfectly natural.
CHQuilts: pink and black filler blocks
I enjoyed making these blocks. It was a day of mindless sewing as I was practicing making flying geese by sewing triangles together. That worked pretty well and this was the result. I was able to use up some scrap fabric, which also makes me really happy.

Waste not, want not!