Friday, May 17, 2013

Hoorah for Finishing Something!

 Celebrating the first of the six (current) bindings that need to be finished--one down! Five to go, but who's counting?

Finished sewing the binding late last night, but waited till today to take its picture. Here it is reposing on a chair and basking in the joy of being finished.

(If you look over in the upper right side, you can see a chair that's full of finished quilts waiting for various destinations.)

Here it is after its bath, all soft and crinkly.
 A close-up. Indulge me, please, while I enjoy the look of a truly finished quilt.
With a corner flipped up, you can see the binding and also the quilting on the back.

Oh, and of course it's already been put to use.

My daughter and her girls came over to help me plant some bulbs that had been sprouting in peat pots on the back deck. Well, of course my daughter is the one who did all the work. The girls found a lot of interesting things to do in the yard, though, including finding worms, squishing holly berries, and pulling all the dead camellias off the bushes.

After dinner while Mom and I talked a bit, they got to curl up with the new quilt and watch a little Netflix.

So, with one WIP done, it was back to work on the pinwheel quilt.

The supervisor did not approve of my work plan. He was quite vocal about it, too.

Okay, I need to be the Krazy Kat Lady here for a minute. I love love love his big white paws! 

No, you will not do this, at least not this way.

This is quite nice in the warm-and-fuzzy department but not really conducive to good quilting seams.

Finally found an acceptable solution--I moved the stack of white fabric out of the way, and that made room for Mr. Widebody.

The pinwheel quiilt is coming along now. I don't have all the white-and-color half-square triangles done yet, but I've started on the last set of colors.

I had to stop and change bobbins twice. Bernina bobbins hold an insane amount of thread, so that will give you an idea of how many of these triangles I'm sewing. I'm actually on the last of the pre-wound (by me, in anticipation of this project) bobbins, so when this one runs out I'll be winding another dozen or so. I do stop and oil the machine and clean the lint out every second bobbin--I'm using cotton thread for this and it is lintier than the poly, but not by much.

There does seem to be an accumulation of cat hair, though. Wonder why that is?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Bit of History

Hand pieced assembly
 In yesterday's post, I referred to a mysterious box of quilt pieces that had been left on my porch.  (The picture is here,) A quick note on Facebook, and posting the picture there, and the "mystery," such as it was, was resolved.

Today I "met" the person who gave it to my friend Holly, who had given it to her son to put on my doorstep. (Can I just say how much I love social media for things like this?) Her name is Linda, and after I took these pictures, I sent her a  link to the ones with writing on them to see if she recognized any of it.
Piecing from the front

She did. While I was taking and uploading pictures, she'd been going through things from her mother's pattern easier family that had handwriting on them. But it turns out, the name on these is actually her father's mother!

She never knew that her grandmother had started this; it was in some of the things her mother had, and so she'd assumed it was from her mother's side of the family.

I think the variety of fabrics is fascinating, and so is the construction.
Juncture of the rings and corners

As I've mentioned (ad nauseam, I'm sure!) I've made a few DWR quilts--a couple of kings, a couple of queens, a 4-ring one for my parents' 50th anniversary, and a couple of shop samples. (I've also taught it as a class.) I still love the pattern, and I've watched a lot of different methods developed to make the pattern easier, or at least less wonky. This one is a pretty standard version.

The pattern pieces are cut out of brown paper, probably traced from a newspaper pattern. I wonder if it was something like the old Kansas City Star patterns?
That little bit of fancy woven fabric--shiny as ribbon!
Judging by the number of pinholes in the pattern pieces, my guess is that she pinned the pattern to a few layers of fabric and cut them out.

Most of the piecing is done by hand, but there's at least one melon that was sewn on the machine. I took quite a few shots of the hand and machine piecing--as always, if you click on the picture, it will pop up bigger.

(You can also go to the Flickr set and look at larger versions of the pictures there.)
This is really stirring up my curiosity about the fabrics, though. The muslin in pretty stiff and is very loosely woven--I can't tell if it is heavily starched, or if it came with that much sizing in it. One of the fascinating things is that there's a chunk of the muslin in the box that has a red binding sewn to it. It looks as if it had been cut from a garment or a bag of some sort.

Somewhere in my "vast" library of quilting books I think I have one that talks about dating fabrics. I think it's time to stop talking about organizing and just do it.
Two rings joined at the corners

I'm going to stop talking now and just make a couple of comments as captions. If you have any input on the possible age of the fabrics, or thoughts about dating them, please do comment!

One last thing: I will probably not try to finish piecing this, at least the way it is now. I'd want to do a wash test on the muslin, for one thing, because I'm afraid that once the sizing is out of it, it will ravel like crazy. I also remember being told (or maybe I read it, much time has passed!) that old unfinished quilts should be left as is, since they are historical "time capsules" and adding modern thread, batting, fabrics, etc., compromises their integrity. Not that I think this one is all that historic--but the thought persists. 

Brown paper pattern

The pattern pieces

This was in the box--looks like instructions for a signature quilt.

A setting corner for the signature block

Another setting piece

Name on the back of the instruction piece, and what looks like calculations for the proposed quilt.

Pieced block that was in the box. Wonder if it was going to be cut up for this quilt?

This fabric is very thin and fine, feels like a Liberty lawn. Pretty sure it isn't Liberty, though!

I'm working with a reproduction that looks a lot like this one!

This plaid fabric has a whole different feel than the other fabrics.

The shape of this shirting piece suggests that it was left over from a sewing project.

The muslin--very coarse and stiff

Muslin scrap with binding on it. Practicing binding, or cut from a garment or bag perhaps?

Some of the piecing stitches are very large and loose.

This looks a lot more like basting than stitching that was meant to last.

And... this melon was sewn on the machine.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Heat Wave

Why yes, we did have a heat wave, which is somewhat but not completely gone. Over the weekend and extending into  Tuesday, the temperature was very close to the three-digit range, the wind was blowing hot and dry, and I spent more time outside moving sprinklers around than was comfortable.

 Of course the roses loved the heat, as long as I could keep their feet cool and satisfy their thirst.

I missed pruning this winter (one of those things that get lost when it's hard to stand up for more than a few minutes at a time without pain) and some of the bushes have gone positively feral. I've been trying to trim a little at a time, and so far have managed to cut back enough of the big orange bush so that I can reach the faucet turn-on without being bitten by the thorns.
This is one of my favorite bushes--it lives in the middle of the "flower bed" on the bank at the front of the yard. It's been pretty happy and is covered in blooms  right now.

 One of the things I can do when it gets really hot out is work on my quilts, so it was back to the cat quilt this"  week.

Naturally, my helper heard the machine and decided to come down and provide his own inimitable brand of technical assistance.

This is the "I can't see you!" attitude, also known as "It's better to pet the cat than to sew on those silly fabric cats."

Can't say I blame him, or disagree with him.
 However, he's amenable to moving.

I moved him over to this part of the cabinet, skritched him behind the ears, and told him this was a good place for him to sit.

So there he sat.

And fell asleep. The sound coming out of him was halfway between a snore and a purr...altogether charming.

He really is a good little buddy. As I'm typing this, he's stretched out about a foot or two behind the desk chair, eyes nearly shut and the rumble-purr going.

Anyway, the cat quilt is now ready to be quilted. I went around all the little appliques with a tiny machine buttonhole stitch with invisible thread.

I wish I could remember where the pattern for this quilt is. I keep trying to make it a block for each month, or assign holidays to all of them, which works fine for Pumpkin Kitty (Halloween), Fourth of July Cat, the angel could be for Christmas and the  cheerleader for football season. I even convinced myself that the couple in the upper right corner are Mother and Father celebrating their Days. But then there's Chef Meow and the ballerina and the turquoise cat...hmmm. And is the stargazer behind the fence another Halloweener? What about the cowboy? The one with mittens and a tail-warmer is a Mr. Winter...

Oh well. That's the kind of thing that my mind wanders and wonders about while I'm doing something that takes concentration but is otherwise rather repetitive.

So it's on to the next project. I've been cutting squares to make the  30's Pinwheel quilt, finally got all the colored ones marked with a line from corner to corner.

I have No Idea how many squares I have here. I hope that there are roughly half as many white ones as there are colored ones--ideally there'd be some extras, but that's asking a lot.

I'm making a stack on the side as I go--one colored one gets paired with a white one, and one goes into the "next round" stack.

The plan is that I'll make the first sets white/colored, cut them in half, and then pair them with another color--thus I'll get the pinwheel effect without having to cut and match up hundreds of little triangles.

Once I'm done, I'll square them up, and go on to the next step. 

See? I'm sewing down one side of the marked line; then I'll flip it over, sew down the other side, and cut on the line. A quick press and I'll have a nice BIG stack of white/colored half-square triangles.

Hopefully I measured and cut correctly. This is what happens why you're flying by the seat of your pants.

I'm copying a quilt I saw a couple of friends make, which I loved, but at the time I couldn't take the class with them, so it's been on the back burner for a while. A long while!

Guess it's time to update the sidebar. Uh oh, I'll be adding a new WIP... well, with any luck, I'll finish at least one binding tonight.

And there is sweater progress, too, but no pictures of mine yet.

These are the parts of a sweater my knitter friend Beth is making for her son Mac. The front is the multicolored panel, the sleeves are the yellow, and the back is olive green. It's all done in Koigu fingering yarn--pretty impressive! 

 Looking out my front window tonight--the Photo A Day prompt was "7 o'clock" and I thought this might work.

Not terrible, but not great either.

On to a small mystery.

When I got home last night, there was a red box on my front porch. It had my name on the front and a heart.
 Inside were these Double Wedding Ring blocks.

No idea who left them. Obviously, old fabrics, pattern is a 20s-30s standby, and yes, I have made a "few" of these in my time. Three queens and a king, plus a 4-ring white and gold piece for my parents' 50th anniversary.

So I did what any modern quilter would do--took their picture and put it up on Facebook! The giver quickly spoke up--my long-time friend, Holly, who now lives out in the desert, had her son drop it off for me.

Foundling quilt blocks are much easier to take in than kittens or puppies! I'll lay them out tomorrow and take more pictures--Holly doesn't really have any information about them, and I want to get a "feel" for the  quilter who painstakingly hand pieced them!

One last picture. Normally at this time of year, my jacaranda tree would be a cloud of purple blossoms. Thanks to the stiff wind, my driveway is carpeted in purple and my tree is looking a little sparse. Ah well, it is blooming at least!