Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More Melon Seeds

…16 melon seeds, to be exact, and they all belong on one Jane Stickle block, J-10.  The seeds were larger than yesterday’s so they were easier to mold around the template.  The challenge on this block, as  Doreen pointed out in her tutorial, is that they must snug up against the seam line.  I like to super size my blocks while in construction so I can wash out the basting glue without worrying about fraying the block edges.  Once this block is squared up, it will be necessary for me to use a very scant ¼ inch seam in order to avoid catching the appliqued seeds.  I actually trimmed down the template in order to take into account the extra bulk created by wrapping the fabric around it.  It looks like I should have trimmed just a tad more from the length.

I often wonder how Jane did it.  No basting glue, no acrylic rulers with helpful guide lines, no melt-resistant template material and no water soluble markers, just to name a few of the tools I used on this block.

Thank you so very much to all who sent me encouraging get well wishes after yesterday's post.  I deeply appreciate them.  Today is a better day.  Maybe this stuff I’ve been fighting has peaked.   I am staying in through Wednesday.  Hopefully, I will be perky enough Thursday to run some errands including taking both dogs to the vet for routine vaccinations. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Checking In


I guess it must just be my turn to get the seasonal crud.  It started Thanksgiving Day and is now a full blown, nasty cold. Bob, smart man that he is, has beaten a hasty retreat to the ranch to take care of some chores and gather up our Christmas decorations. Given my symptoms I can't say that I blame him, and his absence has at least allowed me to leave all my applique tools spread out on the breakfast table without disturbing him.  About the only thing I have any energy for doing right now is a little work on some Jane Stickle blocks, and the ones shown above are prepped and ready for the handwork.

Most of the blocks I’ve worked on this month have the little oblong shaped pieces called melon seeds. 

I wanted to share this picture of one of the current blocks I'm working on with the template I used for the melon seeds next to a dime.  That’s a pretty small template to work with. 
Here is a picture of the technique I prefer for prepping hand applique.  The melon seed in this picture was much larger than the one in the previous photograph.  I was using a travel size iron and my pressing surface was a ceramic tile wrapped in muslin.  I use lots of spray sizing to moisten the fabric and help it hold its new shape once the template is removed.  The Jane Stickle center blocks finish at 4 1/2 inches.  I had to make about seven attempts before I managed to get four seeds that satisfied me.  If I were to meet Jane, I would have to ask what she was thinking when she designed this block.
Doreen continues to post great tutorials and I am pressing on with the project even though I estimate I am about 17 center blocks and a gazillion border triangles behind her pace.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Retreat Quilt is a Flimsy

The batik quilt I worked on at our in-house retreat last week is a flimsy.  I got as far as the checkerboard border the first day.  The checkerboard border was made from 1 ¼ inch strip sets and turned out to be a real challenge, and I had to finish it at home after the retreat.  It seems I can’t count to 72 the same way twice and I had to do some adjusting when I discovered that one side had 72 blocks, the other had 71, and the corner blocks were mismatched.  After adjusting some seam allowances and adding another unit to one side, it all worked out well.  It finished at approximately 51 X 63".

The design is “Patchwork Bouquet” by Amanda Murphy for Robert Kaufman Fabrics using the Lapis color way.  It was a good project for a noisy, chatty and totally enjoyable gathering of quilting fiends err friends.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another Squishy Envelope


Yesterday I received my mug rug from my “Rugs with Friends” swap partner, Wendi.  She had promised to send me a Florida snowman in response to the Texas one I sent her.  When it arrived I burst out laughing.  This little guy is obviously succumbing to the effects of that balmy Florida winter weather.  Wendi even managed to capture the effect of snow flurries with her quilting.
I couldn’t be happier with her offering and I also appreciate the festive Florida fat quarter.  Thank you so very much Wendi!  You definitely brightened my day.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Playing with Scraps

Like many bloggers I follow, I can’t bring myself to dispose of any but the tiniest of fabric scraps, and even that pains me.  So one evening recently when the house was quiet and I was too tired to concentrate on anything complicated, I pulled out my basket of batik crumbs and produced this little mug rug.  I used a technique described by Connie. 
It was very relaxing play time.  I've found, however, that I consistently struggle with binding small projects like mug rugs.  In this case, one of my corners is distorted and I always have a wrestling match with the final joining of the binding ends.  Some of the mug rugs I've received from others use a binding technique in which the binding is first attached to the back and then secured on the front with a decorative stitch.  I think I will try this method soon.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Time for a New Project

I will be participating in another in-house retreat today and tomorrow at the local quilt store.  The shop owner provides a place for us to work and the evening meal and we get to go home and sleep in our own beds at night…perhaps the best of all possible worlds.  The retreat actually lasts three days, but I had to miss the first due to a conflict.
Because I don’t enjoy working on complicated projects like my Jane Stickle blocks in a retreat setting, I opted to cut into this batik kit that I purchased on sale several months ago.  I was drawn to the fabrics more than the pattern, but the price was just too good to resist.  It would make a nice gift and, hopefully, there will be some remnants for my Jane Stickle blocks as well. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Happy Surprise in Yesterday's Mail

For several months I have been participating in a mug rug swap with a zany bunch of happy-go-lucky quilters I met online.  This is the first swap I’ve been a part of and I was totally caught off guard when this package arrived in the mail this morning, not from my current swap partner, but from Ida and Irene, the “swap mamas.” 


In addition to the eyes of Texas mug rug, my squishy goody pack included an emery board, scissors, Christmas fat quarter, trims, a packet of hot cocoa mix (we’re in a cool snap right now) and a personalized birthday card.  What a nice treat.  Thank you very much, Ida and Irene!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Texas Snowman Mug Rug

I am participating in an on-line mug rug group swap this year.  Last week I sent my winter edition on to my swap partner, Wendi.  I know she has received it so I am at liberty to post it.  You can tell this is a Texas snowman by his hat.

We had a cool front blow through here day before yesterday, so our predicted high today is "only" 82 degrees.  Needless to say, Texas snowmen are something of a rarity right now, but we are enjoying a very pleasant fall. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Christmas Wall Quilt is Bound, Labeled, Done!

My Christmas wall quilt is finished at last.  I am so happy it's actually completed in time for this year's Christmas season.  The pattern came from the book, Table Talk, by Gudrun Erla, and was originally designed to be a table topper.  I probably won’t use it that way, so I added a permanent hanging sleeve to the back.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Colorwash is a flimsy

My first colorwash quilt is pieced.  It began with a 200-piece batik charm kit I purchased from Wanda at Exuberant Color last summer.  She generously shared more charms when I visited her in September and I cut into my stash of batik remnants as well. 

All in all, 233 unique fabrics were auditioned for this piece which has 196 squares. 

Since my primary sewing machine is set up for free motion quilting, I used my Pfaff for this project.  This project finished out at a smidgen under 29 inches square even though I used a quarter-inch foot.  I will need to fine tune my quarter-inch seams before my next project using this machine.

The piece hung on my design wall several weeks and each time I passed by something got rearranged or swapped out.  Both Wanda and Debbie at Stitchin' Therapy kindly shared some ideas which I tried to incorporate.  (Don’t you just love the way quilters encourage each other!)  After it hung an additional week without much change, I decided I was pressing my luck.   Pieces might start getting knocked or blown off at any time, and that would not have made me a happy camper.  So, I began stitching a couple of nights ago.  I am very happy to have it to this point.   Now the search begins for binding and backing fabric.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

October 2012 is a Wrap

It’s time to record progress on my Jane Stickle blocks.  These are the blocks completed in October.  I have now completed 92 of 169 center blocks and 23 border triangle blocks.  I was really pleased with the way most of these turned out.

We are experiencing an unusually warm fall.  Our area had a high of 88 degrees today which tied the record set sometime in the 1950s.  Our trees are losing their leaves, but our lawns have not gone dormant and still no frost.  I'm not crazy about cold weather, but a frost would help knock back some of the mosquitoes that still plague us.

This is the opening weekend of gun season for deer hunters.  Since I got past some of the commitments that slowed my quilting progress in October, I hope to have some time to sew for a few days while Bob and his hunting partner enjoy themselves.