Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Feathers are for the Birds!

There are so many people doing the Free Motion Quilting Challenge that have made beautiful feathers, that I am hesitant to post my efforts. I think I am feather-challenged so I struggled with February's feather challenge, in spite of Diane's great tutorial. However, I'd love to have my chance to win prizes (LQSs don't carry Aurafil thread), so I am swallowing my pride. Here we go. I will admit that they look better in the photos than they do in real life!

Kind of hard to see the darker ones. I kept trying because I thought I would eventually get one I liked. I'll just keep trying. : )
Until next time,
Janet O.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Robots Welcome!

Well, maybe not welcome, but you don't have to prove you aren't one in order to leave a comment!

As you can see, I have most of the Rocky Mountain Christmas (aka Smoky Mountain Stars) flimsy assembled. I am down to borders and wondering if I want to square up all of the little bonus HSTs created in the making of this quilt and slip them in between two of the cranberry colored borders. They are 1 1/2" unfinished. What do you think? I've put the few I have finished on opposite sides of the quilt in different layouts. The original pattern has the two plain borders.
Squaring up all of these little HSTs is not fun, I don't know about you, but on the tiny blocks like this the seam just seems to make a teeter-totter out of the ruler and it is so hard to hold it stable. I'm okay on the larger blocks--the bigger surface area allows more contact, or something. I had seen the Bloc-Loc rulers online before, and it seemed that they would solve the problem. Sandi has posted about them on her blog here, and I thought it was something I wanted to try. Then Bonnie posted about it here. There is a channel cut into them that you place over the center seam. It does kind of lock in place and make the job much easier.
They are kind of pricey for such little things and then to pay shipping besides, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. But when I started considering doing all of these little HST I knew I would be playing teeter-totter again. So I was excited to find that my LQS now carries the Bloc-Loc rulers. They are still pricey, but at least I avoided shipping!

I have had fun playing with my new toy (I have GOT to choose a name!) this week and got my version of Pink Lemonade quilted.

I've played with the name for this one and "Flies in the Mustard" is settling in, I think. I used the Handi Quilter 2" clamshell template to do this. There is a learning curve to get used to it. Masking tape helped hold it securely in place. If you look closely you will see some misshapen shells in the finished product, but I think if you aren't looking for them they don't jump out at you. I unpicked the worst ones, but there are some that I am leaving in place.

Some fun mail lately--I got this LOVELY PURPLE PLAID cotton shirt from Doniene at Now It's Just Quilts blog. What a treat. She knows I am making The Farmer's Wife from plaid shirts and she knows I love purple. Oh, I love this fabric. Thanks again, Doniene. I owe you one!

Then Randy at Barrister's Block blog generously DONATED (she said dumped, but I don't consider this a dump) half of her Christmas scraps to my second set of the FW blocks which I am making in Christmas scraps. This is more than scraps, Randy--this is a prize package! I owe you, too.
Finally, I know many of you follow Judy L. over at Patchwork Times, so you have probably seen this new book. I have her Weekend Quilts book and I think it was her clever border treatments that really drew me in. So when I saw that she had a book devoted to borders I immediately put it on my Amazon wishlist. I checked local shops, but couldn't find it, so I finally ordered. Got it today and it is a great source for border inspiration! It includes 15 quilt patterns, which in and of themselves are fun layouts. But each quilt is paired with 4 different border options. The title doesn't lie--60 borders in all! How cool is that? And there are instructions on how to adapt the borders to any quilts. Judy uses primarily bright tone-on-tone prints for her quilts. Those are not my fabrics of choice, but lets face it--a beautiful quilt is a beautiful quilt, no matter your fabric preferences, and Judy makes beautiful quilts made all the more beautiful by her creative borders. This is a keeper! Check it out! No affiliation, I just appreciate a job well done!
Lots of random stuff in this post. If you stayed with me, thanks! 
Until next time, 
Janet O.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Made to order!

At least that is how this quilt top looks to me on the back of my living room sofa! What a perfect fit!
Recently Lori D. of Humble Quilts blog listed some quilts, tops and patterns for sale for a friend of hers. I was the first to comment and was thrilled to get this log cabin star quilt top very well-made by Jill Reid from New Jersey. Thanks Jill and Lori. The border fabric on the top matches the sofa so well you can hardly tell it is there (I know the sofa looks solid brown, but there are actually flecks of red and green in the upholstery fabric). When I have become more confident with my new toy I will be quilting this up to use in my living room.

Speaking of quilting and my new toy, here is the first finished product--remember that I am relatively new to FMQ and very new to this machine, so I have a long way to go. The tension wasn't the greatest due to the thread I used, and I should have made more curvy, flowy lines around the large butterflies, but I am not unhappy with it. I think there is potential here.
I had blogged about this top here. You can't really see them in the photos, but the outer border has a tone-on-tone butterfly print, so I carried the theme into the quilting. I did stencil the large butterflies but was just winging it on the little border butterflies. (Get it? Winging it--butterflies.) Sorry, it is late and I'm getting punchy. : )

I'm so proud of myself for getting my Farmer's Missing Shirts (aka Farmer's Wife) blocks made the same week Randy posted them. She has been making two of many of the blocks. I decided this time I would follow suit, but I am making my second blocks out of Christmas print scraps. The top row, shown below,  is the first set of blocks Randy posted. The second row is this week's posting. I'm really loving the plaid shirt look. Can't wait to add more to the wall.

These are my Christmas blocks. I have Christmas scraps in brights and "dark & dirty". I think I am going to stick to the latter for these blocks, but the photo makes them look darker than they really are. I have altered one of the blocks to fit the scraps I had. I had to wing it a little on that one, too. It is the angel block. (I know, pretty bad, huh? Winging it--angel block.)
I've been using some Orca Bay pieces as leader enders, so I am making slow progress there. Rocky Mountain Christmas continues to get sporadic attention and I have started sewing together strips for my second Primitive Gatherings Picnic Quilt. You can see the first one here.
One last thing--I don't know how much time is left on this, but my friend, Doniene, from "Now It's Just Quilts" blog listed a fabric giveaway on Wednesday. She said it would run less than a week, but she hadn't posted a winner yet as of this writing. She just wants you to leave a comment about one of your favorite quilting tools to be entered. If you hop on over there you might still be in time to enter. She is planning on posting a small fabric giveaway the 15th of each month.
I was trying to have this posted before midnight. It never works out that way, but I tried. That'll do it for tonight. Until next time,
Janet O.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My New Toy!

Thursday morning there was a delivery at my house. It came on a day where I had next to no time to play with it. Isn't that how things go? But even in the few minutes I did stitch on it, I could tell I loved it!
This is my first real quilt to go under the needle. 

My two favorite features, okay, maybe three--1) the ring of LED lights that shine down over the needle area. I don't have to shine an Ott-Lite there, like I normally do when I sew; 2) the ability to preset my favorite speeds on the touch screen. Trying to FMQ on my regular machine was maddening. It either zoomed faster than I could control the quilt, or it was so slow I could barely move the quilt or the stitches would be toenail catchers! Finding the "sweet spot" on the presser foot was next to impossible and once I found it I hated to stop stitching or it would be lost forever! 3) LARGER bobbins! Yippee!! I love lots of other things about it, but those top the list. Now I have to come up with a name for her. Any suggestions?
I am so grateful that DH was not only supportive of me getting it, he pretty well talked me into it. I was really dragging my feet. It is pricey and it was giving me knots in my stomach thinking about it. But even so, I realize that when I am no longer quilting by check, this little girl will pay for herself before too long!
Today I finally got my Itty Bitty Primitive Pinwheels bound and in place. It is 10" square. What a fun little piece. I really like the look!

Finally--Randy, I'm ready for the second set of Farmer's Wife blocks! Here are the first three.
The first one (on the left)  isn't my favorite. I think my light fabric choice didn't work. But I'm hoping as more get added to the wall, it won't be so noticeable. If it still bothers me after a few more rounds I will have to remake it. : ) I just washed another batch of thrift store shirts today and I am excited about some color combinations that I can see for future blocks. I'm calling this one, "The Farmer's Missing Shirts". In case you aren't aware, this is a "Sow-Along" (that is not a misspelling), using The Farmer's Wife book. This fun event is being sponsored by Randy of Barrister's Block blog. She posts 3 blocks twice a month. It just started this month, so it isn't too late to join in.
That's it for now! Until next time,
Janet O.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Orca Bay (and a few other things)

I decided to get in on Bonnie's last Orca Bay link-up, though my "Bay" is currently not much more than a puddle.
This is less than half of the blocks I will make, but it still won't be as big as the original. You may recall that "Sunset Over the Men's Department" is made from thrift store shirts and there just isn't enough coral plaid and purple stripes to do the full size quilt. It can be tricky to get all of the stripes (and strings for most of you) pointing in the right direction. I've read in blog after blog of quilters realizing that one piece or another was sewn in wrong. I've had to do a little unpicking myself. But I do love the bold graphic design in this pattern. Bonnie hit another home run!
I got my Raspberry Lemonade version of Lori's doll QAL quilted and bound. I used Leah Day's paisley heart design that LuAnn at Loose Threads blog linked me to. It was my first attempt with variegated thread and I'm not sure it was the best choice. When the lighter thread color would come through I couldn't always see my quilting and I would sometimes think the thread had broken. 
The stitching is anything but perfect, but it will have to do. You can't really see it in the photo and that is probably a good thing. 
Now it sits on my hutch beneath my soup tureen. 
I got block number two of "Ramblin' Rose Meets Jamestown" finished. I am definitely messing with the value placement on these blocks. Since I don't have the fabrics specified, I am using a bunch of fabrics from my stash and I don't always have the same number of lights and darks for a block as the pattern indicates.
The one on the right, that looks crooked, is the newest addition.
And finally, my Rocky Mountain Christmas (aka Bonnie's Smoky Mountain Stars) Is coming along. Last time I mentioned that mentally I had divided it into twelve sections. Now I only have 4 sections to finish, but I'm toying with a border idea in my head that may take some time to complete, if I decide to add it. Good thing I have plenty of time before next Christmas. I definitely want it done by then!
It is late and I am typing some pretty silly things as my eyelids droop. I hope I have caught and corrected them all. If not, have a good laugh on me. I'd better call it quits. Tomorrow morning my new HQ Sweet Sixteen is being delivered and I want to be awake enough to understand the training. : )
Until next time,
Janet O.