Friday, February 28, 2014

Things are blooming in the quilt cave...


This is what is on my design board today...some new motifs I have been dreaming up while hand quilting away on "Baltimore Rhapsody."  I exercised great restraint in not messing around with them until the hand quilting was finished.  

It may be cold as $%@#* outside with this new wave of polar air blowing through the Midwest, but I am trying to stay positive with thoughts of spring.

I have to stop here and thank everyone for their nice comments on the big reveal of the finished music quilt.  Your words of encouragement...through-out the whole journey, really...were so helpful and comforting.  The encouragement was very much appreciated at times when it was hard to sit down and work on the project for whatever reason.  

More music blocks are coming, but first I had to take time to get this new project to pen and paper.  Then, of course, I just HAD to see how the blossoms would look glue-stick-prepped with actual fabric...naturally, right?


Each blossom is half of a new block for a project that I think I will call "Belles and Blossoms."  Can you guess what the other thing in the block will be?  I know, I am a terrible tease...


The blocks will finish to 8 inches square, and there will only be six blocks in the quilt.  After hand quilting a 96" x 96" quilt, it was time for a smaller, more portable hand quilting project, LOL!


I think the whole project will only be about 35" x 46".  We'll see how I like it as it leaks out of my head and transforms itself into colorful cotton applique motifs.


There are so many project elements on my design wall and in containers on the shelf, which I will catch you up on in later posts.

I look at all these ongoing projects like pretty, painted horsies on a lovely, antique carousel...I hear the calliope music, I watch them all prance and dance around the quilt cave, and I choose one to "ride" for a while before putting it back on the design wall or in its container until the next spark of inspiration hits me.  Wacky, huh?



I really do love my little containers of snip-its and small scraps when I prepare the applique pieces.  These containers hold tone-on-tone fabrics, sorted by color (and sometimes size).  They make choosing fabrics for doing scrappy applique prep SO easy and fast.  

Picking through them using my long forceps takes the clumsiness out of manipulating all those irregular little scraps with my dopey, stupid fingers.


Yahoo!  I hope you get to do something great in your sewing area this weekend!  Maybe I can show you some belles next time...

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)

Monday, February 24, 2014

"Baltimore Rhapsody" - finally, the big reveal...


It is finally done!  (happy dance, happy dance...)


I'm glad I was visiting my parents during the "Girls Gone Wild" southern college road trip...they have the floor space so I could spread it out...I could never do this in my house.


It was the first time I had really seen the whole quilt...I just stood and stared at it for the longest time.


It needs a sleeve, pressing, and folding it properly...I've really been wadding up the borders as I finished hand quilting a couple of blocks in my lap.


I need to get some proper, straight-on pictures, but that won't be easy...it measures 96" x 96".  Once I get some good pictures, I can print the finishing pattern...and start entering this puppy in some big shows.





My daughter and I saw eight colleges...and NO quilt shops, MAJOR sad face (I got to Gastonia, NC AFTER Mary Jo's was closed...next trip for SURE!).  But, colleges were the priority this time...Oberlin, U of NC, Wake Forest, U of NC School of the Arts, Davidson College, U of GA, U of AL, and Vanderbilt...and 2500 miles on the car.  She and I will take off in another direction during spring break...

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Girls gone WILD!

The binding is on Baltimore Rhapsody!  Now I just need to finish outline hand quilting around those darn grapes in the harp block!

But first, my daughter and I are off on a "girls-gone-wild" trip through the southeast to see colleges.  Actually, after the winter we've had, I think it will be more like "Thelma and Louise," hopefully without the suicide plunge at the end. 

We are leaving within the hour from southeast Michigan...before the NEXT 6 inches of snow they are predicting for our house tomorrow...to see schools in N. Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.  She has a winter break from her junior year and we need to make decisions about this next phase of her life.

The quilt is making the trip with us.  I will get those last little stitches done at night when we aren't driving. 

So maybe I should say the "THREE" of us are going!

What will we encounter...ice?  earthquakes?  When I heard about the earthquake hitting S. Carolina and Georgia I just couldn't believe it.  I am hoping for some milder temps before returning to Michigan for the rest of the winter.

I have been hunkering down to finish this quilt...today was my "double-secret-deadline-day."  I came very close (just those darn grapes!)...my apologies to all my friends and family I have forsaken since before Christmas.  Now that it is essentially done, I can leave the house again!  I will get pictures so I can do the big reveal upon returning to Michigan.

Let me know about great quilt shops in N. Carolina...maybe I could talk Riley into a side trip...

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A quilting solution for the skinny inner stop border...


I like using skinny stop borders but I am usually clueless as to how to hand quilt them.


I was recently doodling a palm tree...probably wishful thinking with the winter we have been having in southeast lower Michigan.  I always draw a certain pattern to represent the bark of a palm tree's trunk. Then it hit me...eureka!  


It is something I can do without any thought, measuring, or marking...my favorite sort of quilting pattern.






Here it is sort of crudely drawn out on paper, not exactly what is quilted but enough for you to see what I am doing.  It is very random, and I vary the length of each segment before changing the direction of the slant.  That comes in very handy when approaching a corner.


Now that the skinny border is done, it is time to finish outline quilting the last 3 of 16 blocks




I'm so close now I can taste the end!  Maybe I can get the binding on soon...

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Shhh! Secret deadline...


I mailed off an original block to the Quiltmaker Magazine folks this morning for consideration in one of their "100 Blocks" publications. I wish I could show you the finished block...it is so cool!!... but I have to sit on my hands until it is (hopefully) accepted and published in the upcoming issue.

All I can tell you is that it is an applique block (duh!) and that I used the following fabrics on my crisp, white background.


Meanwhile, the hand quilting continues.  I have finished the outer border...believe me, there was much rejoicing and happy dancing going on for a while in my family room.

Now, I am doing the outline quilting on the remaining blocks.  I worked on the French horn block while watching Olympic Skating yesterday.  

Before outline quilting...




During and after outline quilting...





I know...it is very subtle, but I will know it is done, and I like the way it makes some motifs "pop" and some just "sizzle" in the background. There are some bigger pieces, like the French horn bell, that really need the quilting to keep them from poofing out. 

It is difficult quilting because there are many layers, but it is satisfying.  At this time, I'm glad I chose to cut the background fabric away from under the larger applique motifs.  Also, due to going around little pieces, I can usually only get one stitch on the needle at a time.

But it is fun to re-visit each design close up as I hum along.  You should hear the crap that runs through my head while working:

1)  "#@%$& - what possessed me to draw this tiny flower blossom so small?!?"

2)  "Oh, I really should have put another leaf here..."

3)  "Yikes - not enough French knots in the center of this flower."

4)  "Ooooo - I really like that fabric..."

5)  "Ahhh - I like to run my hand over the surface of the hand quilting..."

6)  "I wonder if I can talk Steve into making dinner?!?"

7)  "Squirrel!!"

We are our own worst critics, aren't we?

Happy stitching,
Teresa  :o)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

ENOUGH ALREADY!!!


ENOUGH ALREADY is an understatement!  We got another messy 6 inches of snow yesterday.  We are running out of places to shovel it!  Our raised gazebo and front porch are now even with the landscape.

The sun came out, innocently, yesterday afternoon when the worst had blown through.  The roads were terrible, and since the heaviest snow came after kids were going to school, we all had to get out in it to get them home.  Southeast lower Michigan has gotten wave after wave of storms this year.  I wish we could give some of it to southern California!



This misplaced southern girl has had enough!

Stay safe out there!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Now you see 'em, now you don't...


I love the delayed gratification of removing two things from the quilts that I hand quilt...the quilting marking lines and the basting thread.

I have finally started trusting the blue, washable Clover marking pens.  I had a bad experience 20 years ago with the first pens of this kind.  This one seems fine...I just spread the quilted area on my plastic table, spray/flood liberally with water, and dab/rub gently with a clean hand towel or paper towels.


I draw the very faintest of lines so this method of removal works for me.  I know a lot of people just wash the whole quilt, but I didn't want to do that.  All of my fabrics are pre-washed, so I don't worry about the fabric bleeding.


And since I am so cheap and work in sections as I go, would you believe I try to dry and reuse the paper towels?  Our house is so darn dry this winter, it takes no time to dry them out and every little bit of moisture I can get into our home air is a good thing...


I was so eager to take these pictures that I didn't wait for the wet areas to dry, so my pressed border pieced seams look a little dark and visible.  It freaked me out at first...just breathe, Teresa.


The quilted heart at the point of the green stop border is not connected to the adjacent 3-leaf motif, it just looks that way from my bad pictures.


I now have seven laurel/note swags to quilt on the last side along with three corners.  I have not outline quilted all of the sixteen center blocks yet, and I will probably come up with something to quilt in the skinny stop border.


The excitement is rising in me every time I sit down to put some stitches in this quilt!  I really am going to get it done...and soon.  I am looking forward to THAT happy dance...it will be EPIC and LOUD!


After adding a sleeve, I will need to address my new problem...getting a very good photo of this quilt.  There is nowhere, no floor, wall or bed, in my house to do this properly.


Sometimes I hang them in my backyard gazebo for photography, but the light and the wind have to be perfect...not easy in the Midwest where there is rarely a still day, and there is a lot of snow and related mess between the house and the gazebo right now (and actually IN the gazebo...sigh...).

Sometimes I spread them on the floor of the carpeted sanctuary of the church where I work and hang over the balcony wall to get a picture...it is not optimal, either.  One day, someone will unlock the church and find me in a heap on a quilt, suspecting suicide...hmmm...not good.

Oh well...it gives me something to think about as I quilt...


Another favorite delayed gratification item for me is removing the basting thread after hand quilting.  I am starting to do that now, and it is fun to see the clean quilt without all the orange basting thread.

Why orange thread?  

Well, my mother used to unwisely keep her sewing thread in an antique, clear glass, pickle jar on a shelf next to a sunny window. When she passed away, I was going to just chuck the spools of her homemade, now naturally variegated thread.  I decided to bring it home and use it as basting thread.  Oh the joys of being the offspring of depression parents...I can't throw anything away if I can squeeze some drop of usefulness out of it, LOL.


When I do counted cross stitch, I wait until the end to do all the outline stitching...another one of my delayed gratification "ticks."  I just love it when the finished projects "pop!"

So, I have been raving and raving about "Downton Abbey," but has anyone been watching Masterpiece Mystery Theater's "Sherlock" this season???  OMG!  The third and final episode of this third season was after "Downton" last Sunday night...all three have been WAY too fabulous to sew or quilt though...too much to miss if those eyeballs aren't glued to the screen!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

And the "Downton" winner is...

The results are in - we have a winner!  Season 4 of "Downton Abbey," part 4, was watched by millions tonight.  I can imagine that was difficult and stressful in houses with one TV and the Super Bowl on!

All of your ideas for cliffhangers were amazing!  I agree with many of you - Thomas needs to be revealed as the snake he is!  I can't believe that he still works there, after what happened in Season 2!

Anyway, using a random number generator on the list of willing participants, Dar of Dar's Patchwork Garden is the big winner. Congratulations!

Thank you to everyone who played along.  I love this show! 

Granted, the first time I see an episode I don't get much stitching done...too busy looking at clothes, characters and locations.  But then as I watch again (and again and again...), I can just listen, looking up occasionally, and get quilting done.

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A "Downton Abbey" giveaway as the snow and quilting continue...


I LOVE "Downton Abbey," and I always order the current season on DVD as soon as it is available so I don't have to wait to see the rest of the season.

Well, I ordered 2 copies so I would have one to give away to my blog readers.  Leave a comment and tell us what YOU would think would make a fake/funny/serious season cliffhanger.  Be creative, and do it by midnight Sunday night, EST.  I will post the winner Monday morning.


We are having yet another winter storm today, but it is warmer this time, right around the freezing mark.  When I was out shoveling, I heard something I had not heard this whole frozen winter...bird song!

The birds have come out from where they are surviving the cold, so I put out a dish of birdseed.  The birds have been excitedly visiting and eating until...

...dunh, dunh, DUNHHH (dramatic music inserted here)...


...I guess they see Mr. Weasley through the glass.  Little do the birds know, he can't get to them and he is a BIG CHICKEN. He wouldn't know what to do with a bird (except maybe wet himself...).  


 Still quilting...sigh.


In stitches,
Teresa  :o)