Update on No Paper-piecing Mariner’s Compass

compass labeled

In my previous post, “I Have a Tool For That!”, found here: https://oneblockwonderwoman.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/i-have-a-tool-for-that/ I promised that I would update you on how well, or badly, things went.  And the report is that it went well.  The only problems I had in making my Mariner’s Compass prototype block were all due to operator error, the major one being that at the very beginning, I tried to skip from Step 1 to Step 3, so the Step 3 directions simply didn’t make sense.  It always pays to read carefully, but I tend to skim.  I don’t know why I do that, especially when learning a totally new tool.  Once I went back and read all the directions, everything went together fairly smoothly.  I had a bit of a challenge getting everything lined up perfectly when sewing components together, but after ripping and resewing one set of components (The developer of the tool calls them pies and kites, because those are the shapes they end up being) four times, I finally figured out how much of the little extra tips to leave on the top and bottom of the seams joining them together.  If you don’t get this step right, the edges are uneven and everything ends up looking tweaked.  Here is the resulting “base” unit that I made.

Mariner's Compass base

As you can see from the photo, when this base is assembled, it leaves a hole in the center, the idea being you either applique or reverse applique a circle on that spot, then you applique or reverse applique your finished piece onto a square piece of fabric.  The tool and instruction booklet come with handy template guides for both of these steps.

The next step was to figure out what I wanted to put in the center.  I auditioned several different fabrics that would look good fussy cut, but nothing seemed just right.  So I went to the internet and searched photos of Mariner’s Compasses for ideas.  I saw several that had a smaller Mariner’s Compass in the center that I thought was very attractive.  But if I did that, I would end up with the same hole in the middle, only smaller.  Then inspiration struck!  I have a tool for that!  I have an embroidery machine and a computer program to customize embroidery to size or whatever else I desire.  So I went back to the internet and purchased a Mariner’s Compass digitized design from embroiderydesigns.com.  Then I experimented with resizing on the computer and stitched out a test piece.  The colors and size on the first one came out all wrong, so I resized again and tried different thread colors, and the second one came out perfectly.  Here is a photo of the center piece readied for applique.

Center

And this is a photo of the two pieces pinned together.

Nearly complete

I think this is going to be a lot of fun.  My goal this year has been to add more machine embroidery to some of my quilts.  I have the tools, which weren’t inexpensive, and I should try to get maximum use out of them.  In the past, I’ve pretty much only used my embroidery tools to do labels.

I think this first attempt is going to make a lovely pillow.  Or maybe I’ll save it and do some more compasses and make a quilt out of it.  The website to get the Mariner’s Compass ruler and to watch Robin’s tutorial is http://robinruthdesign.com/

Speaking of embroidery, that is the theme of this year’s quilt show next Friday at the Hall, so there will be all types of embroidery on display along with quilts, and embroidered quilts.  At the beginning of the year, our Guild was blessed to have a speaker/instructor, Leora Raikin, come and teach a class on African Folklore Embroidery.  Her website is: http://www.aflembroidery.com/

It was a lot of fun learning her method of hand embroidery, and her kits have hand-dyed embroidery floss made in South Africa by women who make their living by making the floss.  It is beautiful stuff.  So one of the things that is going to be on display at the Hall quilt show is some of the embroidery work done by women who took the class.

Here is the pillow I made from one of Leora’s kits.

Elephant Pillow

That’s all the news from the Central Coast of California for now.  Praying for all the people that are battling wildfires as well as those who are having to deal with Hurricane Irma and are trying to recover from Harvey.

 

 

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Learning to say no….or maybe not.

For the first six months of this year, I didn’t spend more than a handful of hours working on any quilts that I wanted to make for my own selfish reasons.  Instead, I made quilts for fundraisers or for other people.  This, along with my usual life responsibilities, has kept me so busy, I haven’t even had much time to blog, which I really have missed.  So alert the presses…this is my second blog in less than a week’s time.

Don’t get me wrong, one of the major joys in my life is making quilts to minister to other people by sharing the gifts God has blessed me with, but I do tend to get in over my head.  I guess balance is something I need to continue to work on.  To paraphrase, sometimes you just need to stop and pet the fabric.  I have a lot of blogging catch up to do.  Here goes…deep breath.

The quilt at the beginning of this post was for the winner of last year’s custom quilt raffle that I do every year to support my church’s youth group going to snow camp.  We don’t want any child to not be able to go due to lack of finances.  Usually the raffle brings in around $2,000 and the lucky winner gets to pick any style, size, and general colors that they want, (assuming it’s within my skill level).  The winner of this quilt,  which I named Dancing Leaves, is a good friend and a member of my quilt guild, Valley Heritage Quilt Guild, which I affectionately call Quilter’s Anonymous.  Instead of having me start a quilt from scratch, she asked me if I would be willing to do a log cabin quilt for her, so of course, I said, “I can do that.  Log cabins are a breeze.  I’ll whip it out in no time.”  Silly me.  She then handed me a pack of fabric, and a pattern (Fall Foliage Spectacular by Judy Martin).  The pattern stitched out into a square, but did she want a square?  Of course not!  She wanted it to be a wall hanging to go in a specific spot and wanted it to be about 70 by 42 as I recall.  Then I noticed that instead of just being simple half-square triangles, the leaves were made from different length and width trapezoids, which I had never done before.  Of course, there were directions on how to make the trapezoids in the pattern book, but I couldn’t make them come out right after a dozen tries with scrap fabric, so being a puzzle-solver, I developed my own technique, which I’m sure someone else had already thought of, but was new to me.  Once that puzzle was solved, I got the blocks made, adding many of my own fabrics to give a better variety to the overall look.  I got a little carried away, putting in multiple shades of white and light yellow background fabric, realizing belatedly that Debbie had included a large piece of white that she had intended for me to use for all the background pieces.  Oops.

The next issue that I ran into was the two rows of leaves on the sides of the center medallion were supposed to be repeated on the top and the bottom as well, but then I would have to make the quilt way bigger than she had requested in order to make it the rectangular shape she wanted.  So I pulled out a bunch of quilt pattern books that I have, and I saw a border on one of the quilts that was very similar to the chevron shape I ended up using.  I thought to myself, “I have a tool for that!”  I got out my Strip Tube ruler and went to town, taking a lot of time figuring out the puzzle of how to transition around the corners.  It was rewarding to finally come up with the solution to the puzzle.  I would definitely make this pattern again.  It is really an unusual take on the log cabin.

Continuing on the theme of the yearly custom quilt raffle for my church’s youth group, I got a phone call from a lady that lives about 60 miles north of me who had somehow come across a flyer advertising the raffle.  She had started a log cabin quilt for her son’s dorm room just before he entered college, but she was really unhappy with the way it was coming out.  She wondered if I would be willing to fix and finish it for her…and, by the way…increase it from the twin size that she already had the blocks mostly done for to a queen size and she would pay me.  I told her I wouldn’t accept payment for myself, but she could make a donation to our church’s youth group, and I would help her out.  I now think I should have told her I would advise her on how to improve the quilt, but I wouldn’t finish it for her, but….So we met at the town half-way between where we both live, and I came home with her blocks and a lot of fabric and permission to do what I thought best to breathe some life into it and to take my time.  Which is a good thing.  That was in February, and I just finished the quilt this past Sunday afternoon.  The basic problem is she had almost no wow factor in her block and there wasn’t really a dark and a light side.  Looking at it, I decided it needed a little pop of color because it was sort of blah.  Here is a photo of her block on the left, and how I changed it on the right.

I only changed out two fabrics, but got the color that it needed.  I’ve found the hardest part when working on someone else’s quilt, is that not everyone is very accurate with the quarter inch seam, and most of hers were 3/8ths.   So I ended up having to adjust mine to match rather than taking all the blocks totally.  The photo doesn’t do justice to the color, even in a close up.  I entitled it “Sunshine and Shadows”

And the close up.

I found a receipt in the bag of batting she gave me to use which was dated 1998.  I confirmed that that was when she had started it!  No wonder she wasn’t in a hurry.  I will deliver it to her on Monday of next week.  Sure hope she approves.

Somewhere in between completing these two quilts, my friend Delani and I also made this comfort quilt for one of the elders of our church who nearly died because he lives on a remote ranch, and the ambulance couldn’t reach him and they couldn’t get a helicopter in, so he had to walk out to meet them.  Turns out he needed triple bypass and his gallbladder removed on top of a lung condition that he suffers from.  It’s a miracle he’s up and on the mend.  By the time we got the quilt made for him, he was able to come back to church.

He always wears cowboy boots, so we thought the boot border was appropriate. The pattern is Labyrinth by Calico Carriage Quilts.  I entitled this one “It’s a Bootiful Life”.

Back in May, it was time again for the Dutch Oven Cookoff, which raises money for a rural living and history museum just down the road a piece from us which is still in the development stage with one building up.  The movers and shakers want to put facades on the buildings to replicate the original little country town that used to be here in pioneer days.  For the second year, they asked if I would be willing to host a quilting demonstration set up, and of course, I said yes.

With my friends Delani and Grace helping do sewing demos on machines and Kate doing hand quilting, I got the “brilliant” notion to prepare some strip sets to make nine patches, and let people sit at one of the machines, with supervision if needed, and sew a nine patch or two.  For every block they sewed, they got a chance to win the quilt that I would finish after the Dutch Oven was over.  It was a real hit.

You can see the beginnings of the quilt on the design wall.

Grace, who had brought a hand operated Featherweight machine, was running back and forth between our set up and her husband’s blacksmith demonstration, so Delani and I were kept so busy helping folks make their blocks that we barely had time to run to the restroom and get something to eat when the wonderful Dutch Oven cooked food was ready.   That night, I had my husband draw a name to win the quilt.  The winner was our pastor’s mother who is a fine quilter and told me to give the quilt to someone else because she really didn’t need another quilt and would rather someone who really wanted it to have it.  Very generous of her.  So Delani and I picked a young girl about 12 years old who had come back to our booth over and over again because she loved making blocks.  She had wanted to learn to quilt so badly and didn’t have a machine at home that she taught herself to handpiece from watching YouTube videos.  Here is the quilt she was thrilled to win.

As you can see, I used the same “Strip Tube” border on this one, which is named “Everything But the Kitchen Sink.”  The pattern is Confused Nine Patch from the Big Book of Scrappy Quilts. When I took this to show and tell at Quilter’s Anonymous and told the story of the winner, one of our members, who it turned out only lived a couple miles away from the girl’s family, volunteered to give the young girl an older machine that she no longer needed.  Aren’t quilters wonderful people?

Then, of course, the ladies at the Hall, including myself, taught the kids’ summer quilting class again this year.  We want to make sure the younger generation has exposure to quilting and we have both boys and girls attending, ages 9 to 18.  We had a lot of new kids this year, and a fairly large total number with 9 students and 4 teachers.  Fortunately, because we prefer a one-on-one ratio, a couple of the ladies who have joined our group within the last year and are new quilters themselves, stepped in and helped with some of the returning, more advanced students.  The kids make a communal quilt that is then donated to a charity.  This year’s will go to a kid’s cancer camp.  This is my favorite quilt of all the ones that have been done in the 11 years I’ve been participating as a teacher.

The kids learned not only how to sew together fabric and make half square triangles for the ears, but how to sew on buttons for the eyes, noses, and tags for the collars and to hand embroider the mouths.  By the way, I wonder if any of you know the answer to the question I asked all the students during the button sewing portion of the class.  Why do we sew the buttons on before we embroider the mouth?  The answer:  If the mouth was embroidered first, the animals would bite you when you stuck the needle in to sew on the eyes or the nose. One of our advanced students did machine applique around all the balls and birds that were fused onto the background fabric.  She did it under my supervision, which wasn’t much supervision after I showed her how to do the first one.  She did a beautiful job.  I brought the quilt home to do the quilting on my long arm and did the binding as well.  I  am obsessed with the fabric we used for the back.

The cat fabric was donated to our group.  The dog fabric was left over from the back of the dog quilt I made last year, (see my post “It’s Ruff Making a Dog from Scratch”), and the paw print fabric surrounding them was purchased.

The August meeting of Quilter’s Anonymous was the deadline for finishing the yearly quilting challenge.  This year’s challenge was to make a quilted project with as many fabrics as you could, using at least two of the 5 scraps given to you earlier in the year, which were hidden in brown paper bags.  As an ironic aside, one of the “scraps” I got in my bag was a completed hexagon for a one block wonder.  Made me laugh, but I didn’t use it.  There were two prizes, one for people’s choice and the other for the most scraps used.  As serendipity would have it, in July I took a class to make a “Color Dance” wonky log cabin sponsored by the guild.  It was great.  We each brought piles of pieces of fabric and got to go around shopping in everyone else’s piles.  A really fun exchange.  Anyway, I decided this would be the perfect challenge quilt for me since I didn’t have anything else even started, and this one was small enough I thought I could finish it by the August meeting.  I was able to, by the skin of my teeth, hand sewing the label on 20 minutes before I left home for the meeting.  Here is a photo of my efforts.

I call it “Quirky, Quakey Cabin” the quakey because I live in California about 40 miles from the earthquake capital of the world.  Well, I won hands down for most fabric used, 337 unique pieces counting the border and the two piece Suzy’s Magic Binding, but not including the back.  You could say I had the competition sewn up.  Another funny thing about this quilt is I thought, “Oh, good.  I can use up a lot of my scraps.”  But in my zeal to maximize the number of fabrics used, plus wanting to have the perfect fabrics to transition between the color changes, I ended up buying about 40 fat quarters, so now I have more scraps than I started with.  The best laid plans….

The Hall Quilt Show is coming up on the 15th of September, with all quilts that are being displayed being gathered this Wednesday.  Normally, I have at least six or seven quilts in the show, but this year, the only quilt that I had kept that was finished was the wonky log cabin I just talked about.  So, I scrambled around looking for things that I hadn’t put in the show previously, and found one lap quilt that I had planned to give to the guild as a comfort quilt.  Then I remembered that I had gotten some of the components made for a mystery quilt sponsored by Carole at https://frommycarolinahome.wordpress.com/ called Scrap Dance Two Step.  So I decided I could get on the ball and finish it in a couple of weeks and luckily the mystery reveal had happened in July.   Here is the result called “Super Nova”:

Once again, the colors don’t come out well with my camera lately, so here is a better photo with the quilt on my longarm machine, Rosie.  

Carole comes up with the coolest designs and she says she will be starting another mystery quilt in her Scrap Dance Series soon, so if you’ve never been to her blog, I highly recommend it.  She gives one clue a month, so you can work on it a little at a time, or wait till the end like I did and rush.   I was also able to borrow back one of the quilts that had been auctioned off for a fundraiser, so there will be 4 of my quilts in the quilt show.

So now that most of the rush is over and deadlines passed, I’ve started playing with my Mariner’s Compass ruler that I talked about in my last post.  It is going really well, and will post more about it later.  Also, it is almost time to get raffle tickets and flyers ready for sales for the custom quilt raffle.   So many quilts I want to make, so little time in a day.

Do you have a hard time saying no?

I Have A Tool For That!

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People who know me well are used to hearing this from me on a frequent basis. And as it turns out I usually do have a tool for almost anything I want to do.  My favorite thing to do is to visit the vendors at any quilt shows I go to in order to see what these clever people have come up with to make my quilting easier and more productive.  Another thing that anyone who knows me well will tell you is that I detest paper piecing and will do almost anything to avoid it.  I absolutely love the Mariner’s Compass pattern, and have always longed to make one, but alas, it is paper pieced.  But wait…in the August edition of American Quilter, I saw an ad for a Mariner’s Compass tool that avoids paper piecing.  Of course, I immediately went to the website of the inventor and watched her tutorial to find out if it was for real.  Then I purchased the tool, the companion booklet, and another tool that looks very handy for cutting angles.  Here is a photo of the package I promptly received.

compass labeled

The tool was developed by Robin Ruth Design, found at robinruthdesign.com.  I have been chomping at the bit to try it out, but have been sewing my fingers to the bone trying to get ready for our local quilt show at the Hall where I quilt with a great bunch of ladies on a bi-monthly basis.  We also just finished our summer quilting class for the local young people.  But I will address those things in another post.  There is a lot of blogging that hasn’t been getting done.  I will let you know once I have a chance to try out the tool how it all come out.

Speaking of tools, I also found a handy tool to make it easy to change out the needle on my longarm machine, which has been a dreaded task for the last three years since I got my longarm.  For those of you unfamiliar with longarms, the needles don’t have a flat spot on the shaft like regular machine needles do, and of course it is critical to get it inserted properly, which is very difficult when you really are using the Braille method.  So I avoid changing my needle very often, which has caused problems when it gets dull or slightly bent from deflection caused by the speed of the machine.  Here is a photo of the tool.

needle inserter labeled

As you can see, you just insert the needle into the hole going in the direction that you want it inserted into the machine.  The needle stops at the bottom of the shaft, then you can just push it up into the hole in the machine, and it pushes the shaft all the way up so that it is fully inserted.  Then tightened the set screw on the machine.  There is also a slot in the opposite end of the tool that can be used to make adjustments to the needle so that it is in straight if you aren’t happy with the position once it’s inserted.  What used to take me at least 20 or 30 frustrating minutes took me about 2 minutes yesterday the first time I used it.  Since it is recommended by many expert longarmers that you change out the needle after every one or two projects, this is going to be a tremendous time saver.  I also discovered it works for regular machine needles.  It is manufactured by Creative Notions and I found it at Nancy’s Notions.

Since we are on the subject of tools, I am going to share a few more of my favorite “I have a tool for that” tools.  The first one, or two, are the Tucker Trimmer and Tucker Trimmer II by Deb Tucker at studio180design.net.

trimmer labeled

These tools make squaring up half-square triangles and quarter-square triangles especially a breeze.  Just slap your tool on top of the component you want to square up with the tool’s diagonal line lined up on the diagonal on the component, making sure you have room to trim to size all the way around, trim, turn component 180 degrees and line up the bottom left corner of the size you want to trim to along the corner of the component and trim.  The Tucker Trimmer shown on the half-square triangle is even inch and half inch increments and the Tucker Trimmer II is in quarter and three-quarter inch increments.  These two tools allow me to trim up piles of components without really having to think about it.  They are also great for cutting out squares of fabric from corners of yardage or fat quarters.

These next two are also from Deb Tucker.  This first one is the V-Block Trimmer (also known as a triangle in a square), which is the first of Deb’s tools that I purchased.  Many people feel they need to paper piece these components, but not using Deb’s method.

V block labled

The tool and the instruction book are very easy to use, with all the measurements you will need written right on the tool.  Everything is cut from strips and is slightly oversized so that there is room to trim down with the markings on the tool.  I made this queen sized quilt with dozens of these components in nothing flat using this tool.

The last tool I’m going to talk about is the Corner Beam tool.

corner beam labled

Just like all the other Deb Tucker specialty rulers, the booklet and ruler are easy to use, with everything made from basic strips and squares.  I’ve found these components are great to use in the corners of borders to make a nice transition around the corner.

I want to make it clear that I have no interest, financial or otherwise, in any of these tools or companies.  Just wanted to share some of the things that make life easier for me and hope you find them helpful as well.

Happy Stitching!

 

 

Heading West Once Again

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In January I made a western themed quilt to auction off at a fundraiser  for our rural museum that the community here has been working on for many years.   See my last post, “Playing with Potholders” to view that quilt.  The quilt was so popular that there was quite the bidding war, so the powers that be asked if I could make another one to auction off at their next fundraiser on March 11th.  This time the fundraiser will be dinner and a dance and they are calling the event “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”.  The request was to include a covered wagon in the design, so I set out to search for covered wagon fabric.  It was nearly impossible to find.  I was only able to find one piece of antique fabric, and it just wasn’t what I wanted.  So I decided I would try an embroidered design as the centerpiece since I have an embroidery machine and  digitizing software on my computer.  Everything I tried came out too small.  I guess I could have done applique, but I am too lazy to take that on.  So I searched and searched, and I finally found the panel in the photo above at Ebay.  I just love the old west look of the panel and the composition is simply charming.  It came complete with the printed “border” of triangle squares and the wood look border.  I don’t know the manufacturer since the selvedge only has the title “Point of View” on it.

I plan on adding some sort of additional pieced border at the top and bottom and then adding blocks that I will embroider with a covered wagon, a stagecoach, a ranch scene, a town scene that I purchased and perhaps some cattle and/or horses, then some additional borders..  I haven’t decided exactly what will look right yet, but I need to get a move on since March 11 is right around the corner.

This next photo is the fabric choices that I have to use in the rest of the quilt.  You can see the covered wagon embroidery that I experimented with lying on top of the fabric I intended to use as the backdrop for the embroidery.  I thought it had a nice prairie look to it.  I might also design some additional detail to go into the embroidery design like mountains or something.  Anyway, I was really excited to find the wagon wheel fabric right in front on our trip to town yesterday.

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Time to get my creative juices flowing and get this quilt done.

Playing with potholders

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Sadly, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to quilt lately because I have a lot of end of/beginning of the year responsibilities, including duties as the volunteer bookkeeper for my church, personal income tax stuff to gather for our accountant, 24 fruit trees and around 60 rosebushes to prune!  I have no idea why I decided to plant so many rose bushes, but they are certainly lovely when they are in bloom.  Besides, I have really been at one of those seasons that I’m sure most quilters have where you just feel dry and uninspired. So, I have tackled only a few small projects in the last couple of months.

I found the pattern and instructions for these really cute butterfly potholders above in one of my favorite quilt stores.  The pattern is “Flutterby Pot Holders” by Valori Wells.  Since I needed some items to add to my quilt guild’s monthly raffle basket, I decided these would be a nice addition.  Besides, it gave me another opportunity to use up  a few scraps out of the ever overflowing scrap bins.  They were really fun and pretty easy to make.  I most enjoyed the design opportunities of picking just the right fabrics.  And of course, as always I learned something in the process.  This time I learned the reason to clip you curves before you turn something right side out through a very small opening.  I totally forgot to do that on the purple and orange butterfly, and you can see that the tail and the top of the “head” aren’t nearly as nicely defined as on the peacock butterfly.  But it was so difficult to turn these right side out, that I wasn’t about to fix the mistake.  We’ll just call this, not a mistake, but a variation.

The next set of potholders I decided to make were inspired by a saying I spotted in a magazine.  This Sunday, our pastor is away with the youth group up at a Christian snow camp in the High Sierras, so one of our Elders will be in charge of the service.  He has decided he wants to do an old fashioned Bible quiz, and asked me to figure out small prizes to give out.  Why does everyone seem to think that I am the answerer of all questions?   I don’t know, but I put my thinking cap on, and came up with these potholders.

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Again, using scraps out of the overflowing bins, the one on the left is a raw edge applique technique that I’ve used a couple of times to make entire quilts.  It’s a lot of fun to make and pretty easy.  As a matter of fact, I was asked to teach the technique to the kids during our summer learn to quilt classes at our little rural Hall.  At that time, instead of making an entire quilt, we thought it would be fun for the kids to make them into potholders and did it as a quilt as you go project since the applique technique really lends itself to doing that.

The things I learned doing this project is how to use my digitizing software to make the lettering curve around the design on the blue potholder.  I’ve had my digitizing software for around 17 years, and I am really just now learning how to do more than simple lettering.  The other thing I learned is the tool I use for joining the ends of my binding, The Binding Tool by TQM Products, doesn’t work very well on such small projects since you have to leave a 12 inch opening to manipulate your binding and trim it just the right way.  The largest side of the potholder on the right was only 11 1/2 inches, so that idea was out.  I used my old, far inferior way of joining binding, which involved tucking the last end into the first end which is ironed at the correct angle….very bulky, and it shows at the top right.  But it looked okay, so I let it go.  On the blue potholder, I learned how to adjust the tool, and got it to line up really closely.  The binding, once joined, was about a 16th of an inch too long, so I took up the excess by reworking the nearest corner.  I think it came out much better.

The last project I’ve gotten done recently was this quilt that I made specifically to donate for the silent auction to benefit the rural museum that some of the local residents have been working on getting up and running for many years to preserve the history of our area.  So far they have one building up filled with items on display as well as a couple dozen vintage farm apparatus.  When driving by quickly, the outdoor display kind of reminds me of scenes from Star Wars so bizarre looking is some of the equipment.

Anyway, here is the quilt, which I named “Riding Till the Cows Come Home” since the back it a print of cattle milling about, doing what cows do.

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The learning experience on this one was adapting a pattern that I’ve used before, Labyrinth by Calico Carriage Quilt Designs, Debbie Maddy designer.  I absolutely love the interwoven effect. Here is how the original pattern looks:

Safe Harbor

The bidding was hot and heavy and the quilt was the most popular item donated.  Now they’ve asked me to make a quilt for the next fundraiser in March.  I think I’ve created a monster.  But I don’t mind because I really do love quilting.  The biggest challenge is they hoped I would do one with a covered wagon somewhere on it.  I looked on line and the only fabric I could find was an expensive piece of vintage fabric.  I think they are just going to have to take what they get.  I’m sure as soon as I’m done, a lot of fabric lines will come out with covered wagons.  It always happens.

Dog Bites Quilt Show

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Friday was our annual quilt show at the circa 1890s Hall.  Our quilt show is not judged and there is no voting on favorite quilts, but just is an opportunity to showcase local talent and vintage quilts from local residents.  It also encourages people to buy raffle tickets for the handquilted queen sized quilt that you can get a glimpse of just to the right of the doorway.  One hundred percent of the proceeds from the raffle goes toward scholarships for our local young people.

As you can see, my Fannie Mae von Nubbinwagger was front and center and generated interested from everyone who came by.  There was the best turn out for this event since I became involved ten years ago in the quilting group that meets at the hall to work on the scholarship quilt and various charity quilts.  The event was to open at 2 PM, but our first group came at 1 o’clock.  They were folks from out of the area who were driving by to check out the fire damage from the recent Chimney Fire that I posted about a couple of weeks ago.  They happened to see our signs out on the road, and came out of curiosity.  Of course, we welcomed them in early, and the folks continued to come on a constant stream until 7 o’clock, when we took a break for a potluck dinner and to draw for the donated door prizes for those who purchased quilt raffle tickets that day.  My assignment was to welcome people at the door, hand out programs and “white gloves” for those who wanted to pet the pretty quilts and answer any questions.  I was kept hopping the entire day.

Here is a better photo of our scholarship raffle quilt.  It is done in the Carolina Lily pattern. 007

The rest of the photos are of the quilts on display.  I hope you enjoy the photo tour.005

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The handquilting on this last one was finished while the quilter was evacuated from her home because of the fire.

Busy Bee and New Quilting Gadget Discovery

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Since I last posted, the fire that I posted photos of spread, well, like wildfire, causing our neighbors in the two communities immediately south of us to be evacuated.  Fortunately there were no homes lost in those two areas, but the fire burned right up to many of the homes.  The community even further south, on the other side of Lake Nacimiento where the fire started, lost 49 homes.  My prayers go out to those poor people.  My pastor, who is a volunteer firefighter with our local department, his wife and 15 year old daughter opted to not evacuate their home, but brought their youngest daughter and horses to my community to stay at a friend’s ranch.  The friend, Delani, was looking for ways to entertain her daughter, Cheyene, on the left, and the pastor’s daughter, Abigail, on the right, so I invited them all over to make a project at my house.  The pillows the girls are holding are the results of the day’s efforts.  It goes to show, when the going get’s tough, the quilters get quilting.  Both girls picked out their own fabric, and you can probably tell that they are both horse crazed.  Cheyene even competes in local rodeos.

I had been messing around with Jodi Barrows Square-in-a-Square system, which I recently purchased since I am the Queen of Quilting Gadgets, and I stumbled across Jodi’s easy way to basically make a frame around a feature fabric.  I did all the cutting, but the girls did the rest.  I think they came out really cute.  Definitely a great project to do for a gift.

I am really loving Jodi’s ruler system.  It is incredibly versatile.  I wish I had looked into it more previously.  I could have saved a lot of money on buying specialty rulers that only do one quilting component like triangle in a square, diamond in a square, flying geese and of course square in a square.  I have separate rulers for each of these, plus more!

Following my three- month adventure with my doggie art quilt which I posted about previously, I decided I wanted to do something simple.  So I made this baby quilt totally out of leftovers in my stash.

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Once again, I used the Square-in-a-Square ruler to make the pinwheels which come out already trimmed and squared up when you finish sewing them.  Love it!

I also completed this snail trail quilt using the system.  It’s been on my UFO list since I got my new ruler back in May. It was the first project I started using my new ruler for, so I was ready to be done with it.

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The four patches are made from a fall themed strip exchange that we did at last November’s quilt guild retreat.  I really wanted to make it bigger, but I ran out of the brown fabric.  I thought I had found some more of it on line and ordered it, but when it came, it was 4 shades darker than the original, so I just gave up and made the border with the green that was in my stash.  It now awaits quilting and binding.  The quilt guild meeting where it is due as my UFO for this month isn’t until Monday night, so no sweat.  Hahaha.

This coming Friday is our local quilt show at the 120 year old Hall in one of the communities that was evacuated.  It too survived the fire unscathed.  The quilt show is just a showcase for local quilters and vintage quilts made by people associated with this area.

As an ending note, the wildfire I spoke of is over and the evacuees went home last weekend.  It’s wonderful to be able to breathe smoke free air again and not have ash covering every outdoor surface.  The firefighters are heros for saving so many homes!

This and That

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Maybe I should spend a little less time quilting and a little more time making sure summer squash harvesting is getting done….Nahhh.  These guys really were hidden and totally escaped both my husband’s and my notice.  They are too heavy to wear as bracelets, but will go really well in zucchini bread.  A friend of mine also just gave me a recipe using shredded zucchini in lieu of flour for a pizza crust.  It sounded intriguing and will be worth a try.

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This is the first day of the “Chimney” fire just a few miles from our house.  It’s called the Chimney fire because it started near a landmark called Chimney Rock.  Many homes have been lost.  The fire has been burning for a week now and as of this morning has consumed 15,439 acres and is only 35% contained.  Cal Fire says that they are concerned that Hearst Castle is now threatened.  We have a lot of friends who live in the path of the fire to the north, but the fire remains on the southwest side of Lake Nacimiento at this point and hopefully won’t cross the narrows of the Nacimiento River, which is what it was threatening to do yesterday.  It seems it is moving more in a westerly direction, which is good news for most.

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In one of those good news/bad news situations, My friend and I have been making the above signature quilt for a 16 year-old girl from our church who was shot in the head twice two weeks ago.  It was a gang shooting and she was riding in a car with someone whom she shouldn’t have been with.  One of the bullets went in her eye and the other shattered her cheekbone.  Everyone in the church immediately started praying for her.  The family was told that she wouldn’t survive the first night, and if she did, she would be a vegetable.  Two days later they removed the bullets from her head and did their best to save her eyeball.  There are several bone fragments buried deep in her brain that they can’t remove without doing more damage.  The good news is the next day after the surgery, she was texting her friends and up walking around.  Because she knew sign language, the doctors tried testing her cognitive capacity by asking her to sign the alphabet.  When she did that perfectly, they asked her to sign the alphabet backwards, which she was also able to do.  It’s really a miracle.

Instead of making the traditional signature quilt, I dug out my old X-block ruler from Patricia Pepe, which I hadn’t used in several years and made the tweaked blocks seen above.   I dug through my scrap bins and stash to find the happiest fabrics we could.  We are now gathering signatures and words of encouragement for her.  Even though things are going well, it will still be a long road both physically and emotionally for her.  We wanted her to have something tangible that she could hang on to to reminder her that there are a lot of people who love her and are praying for her.

 

Creating a Dog From Scratch Can Be Ruff

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I have not forgotten about blogging over the last few months, but boy, have I been busy.  In May, I flew back to Delaware to visit my east coast partner in quilting crime, my sister-in-law, Mary of stitchinggrandma fame.  We had the opportunity to go on a four day retreat with Cheryl Lynch, www.cheryllynchquilts.blogspot.com,  at her lake house in the Poconos to learn how to take a photograph of our pet and turn it into a quilt.  I don’t normally do art type quilts mainly because I like to stick with bed sized quilts and I simply don’t have any wall space to hang an art quilt.  But I am game to try anything once, and besides, I wanted to have a quilting adventure with Mary.  In addition I figured that I could make a pillow top out of the completed project.  So I sent off the above photo of our dear Rottweiler, Fannie Mae von Nubbinwagger who passed on at the ripe old age of 12 around 2003.   My first clue that this was too large for a pillow top should have been the fact that we were requested to bring a 56 inch square design wall!   Indeed, the project ended up being 56 or so inches square without borders. Cheryl had us overlay our photo with a grid overlay, and following the grid, make 2 inch squares of fabric.  Sounds easy enough; right?  Well, not quite.  On top of many of those 2 inch squares, other little pieces of fabric needed to be added to make up the details of that particular grid square.  Some of the pieces I used ended up having up to 8 additional fabrics on the little square.

Here is a photo of the end product, minus the binding which I’m still working on.
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I just love the way it came out, but was it ever a lot of work.  I have literally worked on nothing else, except for longarm quilting a quilt for a friend, since I got home just before Memorial Day.  I dreamed about this project.  I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about how I was going to achieve a particular effect that I wanted.  I emailed Cheryl and whined when things weren’t turning out the way I expected. (By the way, Cheryl is a wonderful and patient teacher.  I recommend her Pet Mosaic class if you ever have the opportunity.  We were treated like queens at her home.)  I continually asked my dear husband’s (Quilter’s Support Staff) opinion.  I remade the nose three times.  I totally redid the eyes four times.  I remade the eyebrows once.  I was worried I would make a mess of the actual quilting. I agonized over some of the fabric choices.  It was like being in labor for three months.  It was worth it, but I suspect that making art quilts will go the way of paper piecing in my mind.  Never again.  I saw, I learned, I did, I redid.  I’m done!  I am glad I did it though.  It was a real challenge and helped me develop some skills that will come in handy in other quilting projects.

Here are a couple of closeups of the quilting that wasn’t nearly as challenging as I made it out to be in my mind.  The hardest part was remembering which direction the fur on Rottweilers lays because we lost our last one 5 years or so ago so I didn’t have one to pet.

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When I quilted the nose, I couldn’t see the thread on the fabric so I ended up going over the same spot several times trying to make a pebble effect.  The pebbles came out really well on the mustache area that you can see in the last photo, though, maybe because I got so much practice on the nose?

Now that this project is done, I can go sweep the cobwebs off the walls all over the house that have been ignored for so long, and maybe I can blog a little more often.

Old Time Fun & Quilting Too

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Last Saturday, our little rural community held it’s 11th annual Dutch Oven Dinner where everything from chili verde to cinnamon rolls is cooked in dutch ovens.  Well, the one exception is the homemade ice cream.  This year there were over 100 different dutch ovens going.  The cooks start preparing around noon and dinner is served around 4.  It is a fascinating process to watch.  The photo above shows some of the guys getting the charcoal ready to go.  Once the charcoal is ready, it is transferred to a metal bucket, and taken around to the cooking stations, where a few coals are placed under the dutch ovens and a few are placed on top.  The tops have a little lip all the way around that keeps the charcoal in place.  There are specialized tools to lift the lids to stir or check on the food cooking inside.  The piece of metal under each oven is a part of an old plow.dutch oven 3

This is a photo of a few of the ovens cooking away.  When the coals start disintegrating into ash, more is brought around to keep things going. It’s amazing that a half dozen pieces of charcoal is enough to thoroughly cook a dish.

The great entertainment doesn’t stop at watching the cooks at work at this event.  There are also all sorts of old time craft demonstrations.  This year there was several blacksmiths manning their forge, a couple of Native American drummers doing traditional drum chants, gold panning, and there were even two restored chuck wagons that had been set up as if they were an actual campsite.  The one in the photo below was actually used in the ’50s TV series Rawhide and belongs to one of the founding families in the area.

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Last, but in my mind, not least, for the first time, I was asked to do a quilting demonstration.  Below is a photo of my area while we were setting up.  I am in the red shirt, and the incredibly handsome gentleman in front is my wonderful husband, or as he called himself, the Quilter’s Support Staff.

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The other lady is a quilting student of mine who agreed to help out, and later in the day another lady from our local quilting group came and demonstrated hand quilting and sold raffle tickets for the hand quilted scholarship quilt that our group made.  My intention was to demonstrate the versatility of half-square triangles.  The blocks hung on the design wall all have HSTs in them and look totally different from one another.  In reality, I ended up demonstrating how to make 4-patches and 9-patches to beginning quilters and wannabe quilters.  I was pleased to be able to encourage several people to hang in there or to look into actually taking a class.  More advanced quilters also stopped by the booth, and we had a great time discussing our passion for quilting.  My husband amazed and amused me because when I was busy with other people, he was actually using the pieces I had made to demonstrate the 4-patch to show other interested people how to make them.  He truly is the best Quilter’s Support Staff that I could have.

All the money raised at this event goes to build a rural life museum featuring the history and founding of this area. A good time had by all, and I can’t wait until next year.