Saturday, July 16, 2016

Let's talk feathers.

Not too long ago that word inspired fear and trembling in me. Now I love to apply them to quilts whenever I can.
This little "Crazy Ann" quilt received it's feather border and is now bound and ready to send off to my friend.
Small quilt finish #40 for this year.
Even though this is not my preference in colors, I like it much better than I thought I would.

Then there is the basket wall hanging made from scraps of one of my Mom's quilts.
I hadn't quite finished the ditch stitching, but it was crying for feathers. The feathered wreaths in the black squares are a little hard to see. I used a stencil and pounce pad to mark those.

 On the setting triangle feathers I just mark a spine using a curved ruler, and wing it from there (pun intended).

Feathers were my nemesis when I started free motion quilting and now I enjoy them and look for places to use them. My first venture into free motion quilting was a class I took in October 2011. I didn't try feathers for a few weeks and the attempts were so discouraging that I threw them away. Wish I had kept them so we could have a good laugh. But if you are struggling with feathers, maybe this will give you hope.

This was one of my early feather attempts. I just couldn't figure out how to get the feathers to emerge gracefully from the spine.

Four months after I began my struggle to machine quilt I was involved in the SewCalGal (now QuiltShopGal) free motion quilt challenge of 2012, and February's challenge was feathers.
This is what I finally created in February of 2012. Not exactly a graceful, flowy piece. : )
 So if you are feather challenged as I was, know that it really does boil down to practice. I found the December border challenge from Patsy Thompson In SewCalGal's 2012 FMQ challenge really helped me get the feel for the flow of feathers. 

Even though the challenge was about border designs, Patsy uses a lot of feathers in her borders and this inspired me. I followed some of her feathered border designs and practiced until it clicked. 
 Not perfect, but a definite improvement! And it just kept getting easier from there on out.

There are only two or three feather designs with which I am comfortable. I want to branch out and try some new ones. 
What is your favorite style of feather? And do you quilt it yourself, or does someone else do your quilting for you?

Until next time,
Janet O.

Friday, July 8, 2016

No, You Are Not Lost!

This really is my blog--I know these aren't my usual colors, but this will be a gift (a very long overdue housewarming gift) for a friend that moved to the south end of our state a couple of years ago. Their home is decorated in the colors of the area--red rock (well, they call it red rock, but we would call it rust or orange) and blue sky.
The block I used is "Crazy Ann" because my friend's name is Ann. But I changed the color placement so that the resulting blocks didn't look so much like a swastika. This will finish at about 16" square. I wanted that plain outer border to quilt some feathers. : ) It will be bound in the darker blue hanging to the left side.

Okay, now we are back in familiar color territory. My last two r/w/b finishes are shown below.

This is little finish number 38, made with some leftover HSTs.

And this is number 39 that was made with the fusible grid.
Since the first little quilt I made with the grid wasn't as stiff as I thought it would be once it was finished, I decided to just finish this one without trying any of the trimming methods I had been considering. That was a mistake. It is quite stiff. I need to soak it and see if that will soften it up. My next effort with the 1/2" finished fusible grid will definitely involve trimming of seam allowances!

And here they are in their home for the month of July.
I like that the last quilt is bigger. I think the quilts in the middle are too similar in size, so they don't show up much from behind each other. Lesson learned. I want more graduated sizes for this display.

Look what I found in an antique mall today. No, it did not come home with me--not in my budget. But wouldn't this make a sweet display for doll quilts (the doll buggy, not the book)? Love it!!

Grace will be the recipient of the Mama Said Sew plate. Of all of those who wanted it, I only had email contact for three of you. Most of you have "no reply" settings, so I cannot contact you and could not include you. (If you did not receive a reply from me to your comment, you are one of those with the "no reply" setting.) I'll get it sent off to you, Grace!

Until next time,
Janet O.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

And happy Monday to all of my friends outside the U.S. of A.!

After donating the first little "Patriotic Star" I made from Diane Hansen's pattern, to our family reunion auction, I decided I wanted one--this time I made it from plaid shirts. I knew that would invite a lot of wonkiness, because it would be impossible to keep all of those plaids lined up perfectly on such a little quilt. I decided I could live with that.

I am pretty pleased with the end results. Maybe I will call it "Patriotism in Plaids". This had not been one of the little quilts in the running for #36 for 2016, but it is the winner.


Here we have little finish #37.
As I mentioned in my last post, this is my adaptation of a recent Temecula free pattern offering called Freedom Flag.

This is how they are currently displayed in my sewing room.
Back in 2014 I was gifted a little hand stitching project by my good friend Annie M. It was to keep my hands busy during  some air travel I was going to be doing. This is from the "Building Houses From Scraps" movement. I got the first six blocks finished and made the little quilt on the right I call "Annie's Neighborhood". I have used the other six blocks as my go-to handwork for car trips, but finally decided it was time to "getter done". There were only 1 1/2 houses left to go. (Don't look too closely--I am not the most precise hand stitcher.) I thought I knew just what I would do with these, but now I am debating breaking them up into 2 or 3 projects. I will play with them and see what happens. 

On a recent thrift store trip I scored on vintage men's pants hangers. I love these for hanging little quilts and I only had one. I had actually found myself tempted to abscond with one or two when I saw my Dad's pants were all hung from this type hanger--but I stepped back and took deep breaths and then walked away.
At half a dollar each. I was happy to walk away from the thrift store with the whole bundle.

Two of them now grace the stairwell that leads to our bedroom. To the left is the top view and to the right is what you see as you descend the stairs.

Last of all, are you doing any of the Row By Row shop hop? I just visit my local quilt shops, and these are their license plates this year. The "Fabric Cache" plate plays off of the fact that we live in  "Cache Valley", so named because it used to be a hunting and trapping ground for Native Americans and mountain men. They would bury their furs in caches to come back and collect later.
I have an extra "Mama Said Sew" plate, so if you are interested, say so in your comment. I will draw a name and ship it out. "No-reply" commenters need to include their email in their comment to be included. : )

Until next time,
Janet O.

Friday, June 24, 2016

More of the same... know, those same three colors.

After my last post I realized that this weekend is our big family reunion on my Dad's side. They have a fund raising auction each year to cover the cost of meals and park rental. Traditionally I have taken a small patriotic quilt to the auction and I hadn't begun to make anything for it yet.
Little finish #31 for the year.
This is my adaptation of a pattern by Diane Hansen in BH&G recent Make It Mini magazine--I believe it is called Patriotic Star. The original has flying geese around the edge, and no border, but I wasn't sure if I had time to do the flying geese. Silly me--I underestimate the power of oral steroids to keep me awake all night long!

Not only did that get finished, but these as well.
Aside from the feathers in the border on the one immediately below, the rest of these were all stitched with straight lines.




Now all of these little quilts are nestled in their home, as intended.
There is still one empty slot in the letter holder. But never fear, there are more little R/W/B quilts awaiting a finish. No surprise there, right? : )

The question that remains is, which one will get finished first, or in other words, which will be little finish number 36 for 2016? Will it be one of these two?
The little row of flags on the right is an adaptation of "Freedom Flag", a recent pattern offering from Temecula Quilt Co.

Or will this be crowned #36 of 2016?
Have begun to sew the rows of the TATW on the grid. Hoping for the best. The other little quilt on the grid does not seem as bulky now that it is quilted.

For the answer to this and other burning questions, don't hold your breath! : )
Until next time,
Janet O.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Seeing red...and white...and blue (and a product review, a very loooong product review)

If you have followed me a few years and have seen my other red/white/blue posts (here and here), you may be thinking, "This woman does not need more r/w/b quilts".  You are probably right. So how do I justify these...

...and these?

Well, she went home to Oregon. (Oh, her Mom left, too--sorry, Ang.) 
I had to do something to drown my sorrows.
Time with the local grandkids has helped, and we have had a lot of good times this week.

But when I have been home alone (which, I admit, has been rare), the sewing has been frenetic. Being on a short course of steroids has helped add to the feeling of frenzy. I don't do well on those things!!

I wanted a few really little r/w/b quilts to display in the letter holder from a few posts back. I pulled r/w/b pieces from the scrap baskets. It started with some simple r/w 4 patches, and this was the first result.

Had lots of squares and 4 patches left over.

Then I got the bright idea to try a new-to-me product by Quiltsmart--fusible grid.
I had actually seen this demoed at a trunk show by Carmen Geddes a couple of years ago, and at HMQS I bought some of the 1" finished grid from Carmen's booth. But my friend, Kris, got some of the 1/2" finished grid for when she vends at quilt shows, and I bought a few panels from her. 

I decided on a trip around the world, so I cut bunches of 1" squares (what happened to using the squares that were left from the first quilt? They were too big) and placed them on the grid.
Once I got to this stage I got a little chicken. I decided to test it out on a smaller project first. So I took some of the leftover squares and made up this nine patch mess.

Pressed it well and it was adhering well.

Next, as per the online instructions, I folded it along the dotted lines and sewed 1/4" from the fold. 
I think pinning helps maintain the straight edge of the fold.

When all of the rows are stitched in one direction, you get this.

Now you clip up to each seam on the dotted lines.

And press each row in alternating directions. I don't have a tiny Clover iron, so this was tricky.

Now you fold and stitch along the lines perpendicular to the ones you have already stitched. If you have followed directions, the first seams nest very neatly against each other. Pretty slick.
I still felt pinning was helpful to keep things straight.

This was the finished product. I must admit, there is a lot of bulk  for such small squares (1/2" finished), and it didn't want to lay flat, even with starch and lots of muscle in the pressing.
It had a tendency to want to retract like an accordion. : ) 

I even trimmed the second row of seams down to 1/8" to reduce bulk, but I'm not sure that helped any.

It probably would have been okay after quilting, but I decided to attach borders to help stretch it and keep it flat.
Here it is pinned to my design wall with a binding audition taking place.

Back in Oct 2014, when I attended Carmen's trunk show, she shared some minis she was making using the 1" finished grid. I was able to handle them  and felt that they were still supple and there wasn't undo bulk.

But the 1/2" finished grid seems to be a different story. I am not giving up. Maybe I needed to trim the seams going the first direction, too. I will give it some thought, and hope that if you have any experience with the tiny grid, you will give me your suggestions.
For now, this will stay on the wall. I am not ready to tackle it yet.

Now I had lots of leftover squares in two different sizes. I can't tell you the number of times I arranged and rearranged this to make it balance (so much more obvious on mini quilts than on big quilts), and use all of the blue/white 4-patches (1" finished) I had created from the small leftover blue squares.

I still had LOTS of r/w 4 patches left from the first little quilt. By now I was very tired of the way each quilt was producing another one (for a fun post on that very subject, see Mrs. Goodneedle's post here).

I decided to just sew the 4-patches together, on point.

And then I just randomly put the other leftovers together.May have to tea-dye this one to even out the background tones.

I seem to be determined to keep myself from catching up on quilting all of my little quilts. These are going to have to get very simple quilting so I don't get too backed up again!

Oh, wow. I have been creating this post a little at a time through the day. I just saw how long it has become. Yikes!! I am too wired from the meds to go back and edit it down. So sorry!
If you have used the tiny Quiltsmart grid, please let me know your experience.
Until next time, Janet O.
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