Saturday, February 27, 2010

Basting....Boring Basting!

I will admit it - I do not enjoy basting a quilt to ready it for quilting. I have used pins, one of those plastic tagger gizmos and basting with thread over the years and not found any that was not BORING! It is time consuming too but thank goodness for the TV in the room where I baste. I watched the last Harry Potter movie this afternoon which help pass the time some.

In the photo above I have everything ready to start basting. I use the method demonstrated by Sharon Schamber in one of her free videos on this web page. Sharon's video is full of details and you can really see what she is doing. Of all the different ways I have tired basting, I find this the easiest for me. The method uses two boards, one you roll the backing onto and the other you roll the quilt top. Only a small portion of the quilt sandwich is basted at a time as you can see on the photo below. I have this section about 2/3 bastedd

The basting stitch looks like the padding stitch used in tailoring but is much larger of course. This diagonal basting holds better than straight line basting - the layers don't shift as much. These lines are about 2 1/2" apart and the stitches are about 1 1/2" to 2" long with a bite into the sandwich of about 1/2".

I guess another thing I don't like about basting is that my fingers get so sore after pulling the large needle through the fabric so many times.

Guess my break is over....back to that basting.....stitch, stitch, stitch.


Basting Thread

Here is the thread I use for basting quilts. It is crochet cotton and looking at the label on the inside of the cone it says it is size 20. I don't remember what I used this thread for originally but it works great for basting. At one time I did do crocheting but nothing too complicated but did make my oldest daughter a pink and white crocheted dress when she was about 9 months old. That was about 35 years ago though...time flies you know.

I dug it out when looking for some type of heavier thread for basting years ago. I have been using it for years and there is still a lot left on the cone. Look at the label, it had 1600 yards to begin with and I am thinking maybe I never used it for crocheting.


Split Nine Patch...Backing Pieced

To jog your memories here is the Split Nine Patch quilt I finished piecing a couple of weeks ago. It is approximately 54" x 66". Some of you may not be able to figure out where the blocks are in the quilt so have posted an EQ6 drawing of what the block looks like.

Each section of the block is 2" (finished size) making the blocks 6" finished. I decided to piece my blocks like this but I have seen this block with the center square made up of half square triangles too with half dark and half light fabrics. If you piece the blocks with the extra half square triangle you get more precise diagonal lines where my look a little jagged which is the look I prefer. (Actually if you really want to know the truth - I just didn't want to piece any more half square triangles!)

I did show you a tentative layout of the fabrics I would piece for the back of the quilt a while ago. It did look like everything would fit together but there was a gap so had to change my plan. The backing is now pieced together and needs to be squared up a little before I baste the top and batting to it.

To keep you all from eye strain trying to figure out what that light print towards the upper left is I have taken a photo of it so you can get a closer view. Yes, it is fabric with hippopotamus on it! I purchased about a half a yard probably 20 years ago and never used it. The colors go with the other fabrics I chose for the back so it is getting used here. A little different style of fabric from the rest of the backing fabrics but who cares - I like it and that is what counts.

Before any of you ask why all the different fabrics I will tell you. I have no larger pieces to chose from for this backing and want to rid myself of all these older fabrics. Since this will be machine quilted all those seams won't matter so why not is what I say.

Mystery Update.....I do have the project for my friend done so will post about it when I get the OK from her. It turned out wonderful!

Until Later,

Friday, February 26, 2010

Atlanta Trip

John and I had a great time while we were in Atlanta for his convention. He is on a board of a rural electric public power company and was attending the national convention. While he was in meetings I attended a few of the speaker sessions they had for spouses. One presenter I enjoyed was Charlotte Stallings who's talk was titled "Today Doesn't Dictate Your Tomorrow." She told us all things which most of us know but forget at times so it was good to be reminded. Another session I enjoyed was presented by Michael Benidt and Sheryl Kay of Golden Compass. I took lots of notes during their presentation titled "Hidden Treasures of the Internet:Get More Efficient With Your Time Online." They gave lots of hints for using Google more efficiently, etc. They do have a blog which I am reading now and you can find the link to it on their website.

Along with all the meetings John had to attend we also got to attend the concert put on by the group Sawyer Brown. We had wonderful seats - were 7 rows from the front and center of the seating. The group is energetic and have been together for many years - Mark Miller being a great lead vocalist. They won the Star Search TV talent contest in 1983, a forerunner to American Idol and the other TV talent contests now. The concert was wonderful!

After the meetings were over we had time to tour part of a day before our plane left the next day. We toured CNN first. It was a very interesting tour and learned a lot about live TV news broadcasting.

The Atlanta Aquarium was next on the list - lots of fish to look at including the very large Whale Sharks.

A photo of my friend Sue and I at the Aquarium. Was nice to have another couple we knew at the convention. We had a great time sightseeing and of course eating out in the evenings.

Atlanta is the headquarters for the Coca-Cola company so took in that tour too. At the end of the tour we could taste about 48 different kinds of Coke products from around the world. Some were good, some OK, and some were just awful! Outside the building the trash cans are even shaped like Coca-Cola bottles - of course John and I had to pose for a photo beside one.

Of course we had to eat out and chose restaurants different than what we can find here in Nebraska, especially rural Nebraska. We enjoyed eating at an Irish Pub - mmm wonderful corned beef and cabbage and at a southern style restaurant where I had a fried chicken meal and pot licker appetizer. If I understood correctly it is a soup/broth like concoction of turnip greens, pork rind cooked in broth and served with corn bread that you crumble up into it before you eat it. It was certainly yummy!

We had a great trip there and back and have now been home for a week trying to still catch up on everything. The only regret I have is that the temperature was not warmer when we were there. We have had such cold, cold temperatures here at home I wanted just a few days of milder weather....oh well, we still had fun.

By the way it is warmer here today - at 2:30 it was up to 43 degrees so some of the snow is melting a little. Still have a lot to go though.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Summer's almost here...
We can now see the deer
moving around the back yard.

Yep, won't be long.

We got this in an email last week and it is how I feel right now. We had snow again over the weekend and even though it didn't pile up too badly it still had to be scooped and moved off the sidewalks and driveway.

The large drift in the back yard just outside my sewing room is still about 7" tall and the entire back yard is covered in at least a foot of snow. I am so tired of looking at white and will be glad when this winter is over and the snow melts away.

I have jumped to a new project this week that I can't show you yet so will have to come up with things to blog about so you won't forget me. The other projects I have bounced around between are on hold for a little bit so I can do this for a friend. It is exciting to be sure and you will want to stay tuned for the reveal, hopefully by next week some time.

This is twice recently that I have held you in great suspense isn't it? I am sure you are all sitting on pins and needles to see and read about what I am doing.

Well off to stitch this mystery.....

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A New Ride

This is the car (Ford Crown Victoria) we have been driving for many years - actually this isn't a photo of our car but a photo of one just like the one we owned. It had 140,000 miles on it when we traded it off for a new car last week. It still looked good and had not had too many problems so far but it was time to get something newer before it did.

Last Friday we came home with a brand new midnight blue Ford Edge. John has wanted to get a SUV for some time and I was the one dragging my feet. The Ford Edge is not technically called a SUV but is labeled a Crossover. Guess it is a cross between a SUV and Station Wagon.

The interior looks like this but is light tan like the second photo. Like anything now days there is a lot of technology built into the Edge. It has a built in navigation system, satellite radio, weather maps, plus lots of other features. One thing it can do is sync my cell phone to the car and I can make and talk without using the phone but use buttons on the steering wheel to call or answer calls.

One of the things I have really enjoyed is the seat warmers. These cold days it is nice to turn them on and get toasty warm in just a few minutes.

We had ordered this car several months ago and it came in just last Thursday. We had to squeeze in a trip to the dealer to pick it up on Friday before we left on a trip to Atlanta, Georgia the next day. You didn't know it but I was gone for a week and posted my blog entries before I left so you would have something to read while I was away. Love that feature on Blogger. (Bet you wondered why I dragged out the border discussion on the split 9 patch quilt over several days.)

We left on Saturday driving the new car to the airport then left it there and flew to Atlanta, Georgia until Thursday this week when we flew home. John had a convention and I went along and hung out with a friend while her husband and mine were in meetings. We did get to see a few of the sights in the city before we left and had some wonderful dinners at local restaurants!

The Edge is a little different to drive than our old Crown Vic but it sure is nice. I think I can force myself to enjoy driving it! Probably the hard part will be finding it in a parking lot after shopping.

I am trying to play catch up now here at home - you know how it is after you have been gone for a while. I did get the laundry done and the backing fabric pressed for my split 9 patch quilt but that was about it yesterday. Today was a wash out though as we went to watch our granddaughters bowl in a tournament with their dad. They were so excited and got scores better than their averages so that was fun for them.

One thing I hated about being gone was missing watching some of the Olympic events. We did see some after we got back to the hotel each night though. I really like watching all the events so have parked in my chair in front of the TV the last two days.

Home again,

Horse on a Snow Mountain

John took Bart on a walk today around the yard and decided to climb on one of the many snow piles. These are not just snow drifts which could be soft and cause the horse to sink in but they are the piles that are very firm as they were piled and pretty well packed by the loader and tractor. This pile has melted - I know it is hard to believe but it was about twice as high at first. There is still a lot to go yet though.

Actually I think he wanted to play on the pile of snow like the grandchildren love to do. He looked over at me standing on the deck to make sure I saw him just like they do too.

Well, Bart didn't mind climbing up and walking on the pile but when John wanted to lead him down he decided that really wasn't what he wanted to do. John tried several times to coax him down, climbed back up himself and gave him some reassurance. Still on top and it didn't look like he would come off the pile of snow. He wasn't upset, just refused to climb down.

John finally walked him around and back the way he came and he went down that way so back up they came for more walking around. Maybe he would walk down the way John wanted now - NOPE NOT GOING TO DO IT! After all it looked pretty scary for him.

I knew John would not stop until he got him to come down where he wanted him to and kept working with Bart. He got him to back down then up they went again and this time he went down front first. Guess he decided it wasn't so bad after all. After going up and down several more times they walked back to the barn for Bart to get some hay as a treat for being a brave boy.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Pieced Backing

Since this is a year of using my stash and the fact that I don't have many large pieces of fabric I am piecing the backing for the Split Nine Patch quilt.

I have laid out the fabrics I want to use for the backing. I lay them out over the top to make sure I have it large enough to make the backing then I will starch and iron the pieces and square them up before I stitch them together. Will show you when I get that done.

Does anyone else piece their backing like this? If you do please give me any hints you may have. I am thinking since I am machine quilting this piece all the extra seams really won't make much difference.

Until Later,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ta Da - It's Done!

Well what do you think? I like the two fabrics I chose for the borders and I plan to use the light green for the binding too.

Deciding how to quilt it, guess that is the next step. I do know I am going to machine quilt this one myself as it is a large lap size and I can maneuver it around in my machine with no problem. I am too lazy right now to get out of my chair and go measure it but will let you know that in another post.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One Border

The Split Nine Patch with one border on now. Rather exciting isn't it? I can just feel the excitement building to see what it will look like with the next border. Stay Tuned!

Until Later,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Floor Rugs?

This is what my living room floor looks like right now. Interesting isn't it? I told John it looked like we had a several floor rugs on the top of our beige carpet, but in actuality they are quilts.

We don't use the living room much as you might guess by the looks of it. We use the family room most of the time when it is just the two of us here so I end up spreading quilts in progress or newly finished ones on the carpet in the living/dining room. It is a great place to keep them from getting wrinkled and to get a longer range view of them. This might be getting a little much though as we have to walk around them to get to the hallway to our bedroom. One of these days someone might actually think they are rugs!

You can see I have started stitching the borders on the Split Nine Patch which is the closest one to the camera. The box on the floor is full of 2 1/2" squares and 2 1/2" half square triangles. Toyed with the idea of using them in a border but they didn't make the final cut.

Until Later,

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Choice Is......

The suspense is over - here are my choices for border fabrics for the Split Nine Patch quilt. I auditioned lots of combinations and finally chose these two.

I am not doing any fancy piecing in the borders as I don't want to spend any more time on this quilt. I WANT IT DONE!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Which Fabrics?

In my last post I asked you all to guess what colors I was going to use for the borders of my split Nine Patch. Today I am giving you a choice and to tell you I chose to attach two plain borders to this quilt. Now you get a look at a variety of choices ..... which two did I choose?

I know, I know, I am stringing you along. I have not had much time to sew so you can see the finished top so guess I am just playing with you and hope I am making you curious. You all have a little more time to let me know which you think I chose.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Split Nine Patch

The center of the split 9 patch is all together now just waiting for borders. I do like the high contrast of most of the blocks and it is indeed scrappy. Some of these fabrics are so old and were purchased back in the 80s and are quite ugly by themselves but in combination are working together nicely. When I get this quilt finished I am going to stop working on scrap quilts for a while I think as I am tired of looking at all these old fabrics and want to work on something else.

I have a guessing game for you - what color/colors do you think I will use for the border/borders of this quilt? I have it figured out myself but take a guess and see if you can read my mind or read what colors I pull from this scrap quilt.

I am going to backpedal a little and say I may work on another old quilt but it is all pieced and partially machine quilted so wouldn't take so much work to get it done. Time will tell what I decided to work on next.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentines for the Grandkids

Today I made Valentines for my 4 grandchildren. These were so easy to make and will be fun to fill with a Valentine message and a mailable treat. Now I must get them mailed soon so they will arrive by Saturday. We could hand deliver them but kids love to get mail so will send them to the kids.

I got the pattern and directions on how to weave it together from this website. I had seen patterns for these woven hearts with 3 cut strips but never with 4 before and thought it was nice to have more of a woven area. Normally these are made with paper but you know fabric is what I have so fabric is what I used.

I fused two pieces of fabric together to give it stability then cut out the two parts for each woven heart. The parts are easy to weave together but I had to keep referring to the diagrams to do them right. The handle is also made of two pieces of fabric fused together then tacked with a stitched heart to the woven hearts. I set my machine to stitch one motif of the heart embroidery stitch to attach the strap to the front and back of the heart.

Until later....

PS - I forgot to say I had seen some fabric woven hearts on the blog Finishing Lines and that gave me the idea to make the ones for my grandchildren.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Back to the Split 9 Patch

Last fall I made many 6" split 9 patch blocks from my stash fabric, some of it I have had since the 1980s. You can read about making them here and here. I got got busy helping with harvest and then took the Scrapaholic class and put the blocks aside for a while. Today I got them out and laid them on my living room floor. What to do, make more or just finish it? I decided I didn't want to make any more of the blocks so now am stitching the 63 blocks together in a 7 block by 9 block formation.

I did have a problem though....look at the two blocks below. The design I chose has the blocks coming together like this. See the problem?

When I made the blocks I pressed the half square triangles open then pressed the block seams the way I thought they should go since at that time I didn't know how I was going to put them together. The problem now is that I have sets of seams that will not nest together like is the optimum way of piecing.

I sure didn't want to try seaming them and having a lump where every seam is as they tend to get pushed along by the presser foot and then the intersections don't meet. I sure wasn't going to rip every block and re-press them either so decided to go ahead and piece them together the best I could.

I did come up with a solution that seems to be working for me though. First I line up the two blocks to be stitched together. Where the two seems meet and go the same direction I flip the top one back and nestle the seams together as if they were pressed in opposite directions. See example below.

I next pined the bottom seam and the top block together as if the seams were pressed in opposite directions. I let the top seam stay un-pinned.

This is what it looks like after it is pinned - notice the top seam is not pinned to anything.

Here is one set of blocks pinned together ready for stitching.

The next step is stitching. I stitched the seams together like I normally do and when I came to the un-pinned flapping seam allowance I just held it down with my stilletto and stitched over it the way it had been pressed. I am not sure why this is working but I have not had any problem with the seams creeping and sliding apart as you can see from this closeup photo of some of the seams. I am wondering if it is working because the pin is holding the two blocks together and there is not a huge lump caused by pinning all the layers together like I normally do.

The seams do press down just fine after stitching too. I just know I am so grateful it is working! If you ever get in a jam like this sometime give this a try and see if it works for you.

I have had a wonderful day of sewing without any interruptions today. John had to be gone all day to a meeting so I took advantage of the quiet and big block of time to sew. I didn't have to have the TV turned on blasting a news show or cowboy movie and I didn't have to cook. (During the winter John spends a lot of time in the office/sewing room catching up on paper work and flips on the TV in the room.) I like to listen to audio books or listen to the quiet as I sew. We are still trying to work out a compromise when we are both working.

When we lived in the house we moved from 5 years ago we shared an office and sewing room - no problem - so we decided to do the same here. The difference is the old house John would leave to do his farming thing over here where his parents lived and would come home at noon and then again in the evening. Now that we live here on the "home place" he is always here and pops in and out of the house all the time. I am still trying to get used to that as I was used to blocks of time with no one coming and going before. This isn't a huge problem but days when I have no interruptions like today are like a mini retreat.

Until Later,

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Around the Twist Finished

I am calling this quilt done! Not my finest work but with a UFO this old I am just glad it is finished. I measured and measured the excess backing fabric I had and came up short about 8" no matter how I figured so could not cut it off to make the binding from it. I have never just folded the backing over to the front for a binding before and don't think I will ever do it again. I found it to be too stretchy and hard to get even. It is done now, thank goodness but was a big pain in the neck. The outside is a little wobbly but after working with it for a while I decided I had better quit as it was getting worse.

I did miter the corners of the binding so it sort of looks like regular binding. Was tricky to get the miter - had to trim out extra bulk to make the folds and fiddle with it quite a bit on each corner. I did machine stitch the folded edge with a small blanket stitch.

I have been asked what I used for batting (Hobbs cotton ) and what quilting thread I used (Bottom line on the top and bobbin). You might ask why I used these give you the simple answer they are what I had here on hand at home. I wanted to start quilting on this piece right away so just pulled my thread stash out and picked out what I thought was the best choice.

As far as the batting goes when I basted this piece I was again not going shopping and thank goodness I found a piece of batting that was large enough so used it. Seems like I am never planning ahead to get my thread and/or batting and when you live an hour away from the closest quilt shop sometimes it is a little inconvenient to say the least.

OK, now what am I going to do with this quilt? I don't have a clue! It is too small for a lap quilt unless a nursing home might want it for a person in a wheel chair. It really doesn't go with the decor in my house either. All I can say tonight is thank goodness IT IS DONE!!!

Until Later,

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sun Dogs

I had intended to post these photos of the Sun Dogs the day I photographed them but got distracted and now it is 3 1/2 weeks later and I am finally showing them to you. We were having blowing of some new snow the morning of Jan 7th. The sun was out and the snow crystals in the atmosphere caused the partial circle of the Sun Dog.

As the sun climbed higher in the morning the circle was more complete and we could see it until almost noon. The colors were so pretty, just like a rainbow. I would look at it with my thumb over the actual sun so I wouldn't ruin my eyesight to see the colored circle as I've been told to never look directly at the sun because it can damage your eyesight. Is this true or an old wives tail?

There were photos in the newspaper that other people took and most of the time they positioned something over the area where the sun was. One photo had a statue located at a local college surrounded by the pretty Sun Dog. I didn't want to bundle up and find something here on the farm to obscure the sun so I just stepped out on my front porch to snap my photos - sun and all.

Until later,

Around the Twist - Quilting Done

38"x 46 1/2"
Finished the quilting on this Around the Twist UFO and now am trying to figure out what to bind it with. Have not found any of the fabrics used on the front and so far have not found any of the backing. I am considering/figuring out if I have enough of the backing on the outside of my quilt to cut off and make binding or if I will just have to fold it over from the back to make the binding. I guess I just need to measure the length of strips I can get after cutting them off and carefully measure how much length I will need to go around the quilt to see which method I will choose.

I quilted an undulating feather design in the navy border and kind of a hook like feathered shape for the corners. The photos of this quilt really don't capture the colors of the fabrics very well. The orange looking fabric is really kind of a burgundy color and the outside blue/navy is really a dark blue that almost looks black. Have tried all kinds of settings on my camera and in Photoshop Elements to get the color correct and it just isn't happening.



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