Tuesday, January 23, 2018

grandma time

We just returned home from a trip to South and North Carolina.  In South Carolina, we were met by Brita, Ben, Ian, Jack and Leo at a VRBO rental on Folly Beach, just south of Charleston.  It was a great 4 days there!  We played mostly indoors because it was windy and cooler than normal.  But the boys had playtime at the Pirate Playground every day, if you are in that area with kids, be sure to visit there!  We also walked on the beach every day, found new places to eat out, and went for a driving tour of old Charleston.  I really want to go back there when the weather is nicer, there is far more beautiful historic area that I want to explore.

That's me with Jack(3) on the left, Leo (10 months) and Ian (5). 
They all 3 have birthdays coming up in March.

Here's a great shot of happy little Leo when he was swinging at the playground!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

retreat report card

I feel the need to share my accomplishments from my 4 1/2 days of sewing with friends, Nancy and Leisl.  We stayed in a condo at Christmas Mountain Village in the Wisconsin Dells area.  It's a timeshare unit that I was able to use, and it was a 3 bedroom which was a real treat because usually I can only find a 2 bedroom for us.  This was great, we had a whole spare kitchen and living area for stacking all our stuff!
I'll try to follow the order that I posted on my previous blogpost.
First was the Village.  I did sew together all the houses that I had planned and cut fabrics for.  So now with the few I already had done, I'm starting to get a little neighborhood!
Next was the Scrap Hap quilt but it didn't even come out of the box.  I felt kind of bad for it, but it just wasn't meant to be worked on this time!

After that, I showed you the Alphabet Soup book that I wanted to try.  I did get the 3 letters done, which was my goal.  Each still needs to be framed up and finished into a pillow top.  It took some concentration to use the 2 rulers correctly.

I didn't take a picture of my zigzag triangle blocks.  I sewed some more together, and I'm realizing that they are bigger than I envisioned somehow.  I may have more than I need!

The little Travel Case is nearly done, I did get the ribbons all sewn in place and just have a few seams left to finish.  I also wanted to change the closure from velcro (called for in the pattern) to invisible magnetic closure so that took some figuring for placement, etc.

I did make the little Quiltsmart crossbody clutch, and used a purchased handle instead of the cord that the pattern called for.  Nancy modeled it for a picture, but I'm not sharing that one because she may not appreciate sharing her bathrobe fashion statement!

Here's the Alligator Alley quilt top all finished, I like it!  It really went together well.  As I said before, this will be given to my littlest grandson, Leo.  He's 10 months old, and I just got done visiting the family in North Carolina.  He's on the brink of crawling, and we did some work to get the house childproofed again.  Probably the biggest challenge now is the fact that his 2 older brothers need constant reminders to put away the legos and tiny toys and bunchems when Leo is in the room.

I skipped working on Bridget's Bagettes, but I did make the Hang Ons from the Lazy Girl pattern.  They would hook on a doorknob for keys, by an outlet for charging phones, from a Command hook for storing any little thing.

I also finished this Sew Together zipper bag to give to my mom.  In fact, I just wrapped it up for mailing tonight.  Posed in front of the bag is my very handy new travel wine glass!  It's the Corkcicle Unicorn Magic stemless metal beverage container.  It's sparkly!  If you go to their website, they are out of stock.  But if you check on Amazon or elsewhere, they can be found.  Dan gave it to me for Christmas specifically for retreats.  How thoughtful is that!  I think he knows that there has been a spill incident that resulted in wine in the bobbin area, which isn't easy to clean out!  It's now quilter approved!

Here are a couple of things that I did do on retreat but weren't listed on my preparation list.
I made 2 little "busy bags" for grandsons to try out.  There is an assortment of little objects surrounded by plastic pellets.  Through the vinyl window, they can find things.  Might be good for travel, I hope.

 And below are parts of 2 different quilts.  On the left is Nancy's start on an Edyta Star pattern.  On the right are blocks I made for a quilt but can't remember the name.  I'll look it up.  It uses a jelly roll (2 1/2" strips) which is a timesaver for cutting.

I had to leave Nancy and Leisl at the condo so I could drive home and catch our flight the next morning to Charleston, SC.  I hated leaving early, but I loved getting to see Brita, Ben, Ian, Jack and Leo!  I also hated the drive back home because there was new snow and bad road conditions on I-94 most of the way.  It took forever to get home, speeds on the interstate were only 40-45 in some areas.  I was so glad to pull into our driveway!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

retreat prep

I'm going with friends on a quilting retreat on Sunday, and I've been planning what to take along to work on during the 4 days I'm there.  Some new things, some old things.  It does take some planning so I have the correct fabric, specialty rulers, threads in the right colors, zippers, interfacing, hardware for bags, etc., etc.  It's not a chore to me, I like it as long as I have the time for it.

So this was going to be a post about what I'm taking along and how I get it ready.  The first project is something I started working on last spring at another retreat.  I sewn all the blocks, they were made with a package of hexagon pre-cuts from Moda in solids.  I had even sewn the first 2 vertical rows together.  And last weekend, when I was starting to sort my retreat projects, this was on top of the pile.  So, instead of putting it in the "to go" pile, I snuck in a few minutes of sewing time here and there.  And voila, it's all sewn up!  I've really been missing the opportunities to get some dedicated sewing time.  I've been involved with more things at Bear Patch, which means less time at home.  And then, there have been some travels, too, which always puts some things on hold at home.  But it looks like the new year is starting out right! 

I think this pattern might be available on Moda's Bakeshop webpage.
It was an insert with the pack of hexagons I used.
Now, on to the retreat packing!  I do a lot of preparation at home whenever I can, so the cutting is out of the way for the most part.  I use a couple of ways to store these things.  I have some of the large flat project boxes with the hinged lid, about 12" or so.  Those are good for some things, depending on circumstances like size.  Otherwise, I rely on my good ole' ziplocks.

This is a Miss Rosie pattern called Village.  It's all colors of houses, and I've been thinking about making this for awhile.  I've managed to construct a half dozen houses so far, and did the cutting for another 12.  They are all pinned into little bundles so my sorting of colors and sizes of everything stays together.  

This is an ongoing quilt that I am about half done with.  It's my own pattern, Scrap Hap, and I originally made it from batik fabrics.  Then, when I taught a class for it at Bear Patch, I sewed up some sample blocks for demonstration purposes.  I just used some various fabrics from my stash.  After completing the class, I decided to hang onto the sample blocks and keep adding to them.  So this often goes along on sewing trips.  It's about half done.  I use the grid on paper to lay out the fabric placement, and because each block has a different color of logs on all 4 sides, which have to be matched up to the same colors in the adjacent blocks.  The strips are 3/4 inch wide after sewing.

My sorting for the colors for the next row.

I've wanted to try out this book to make letters, so I have the idea to just start with I, J and L for my grandsons.  If it's a success, I could add on the other letters of their names, which are wonderfully short!  It requires 2 specialty rulers, which I hope have arrived at Bear Patch by now.  They're called the Hex 'n More and the Super Sidekick.

Here's another project that travels with me to retreats, and it's just something I designed on EQ7.  It's all half square triangles.  I'm using all solids, and you can see below that I like to use triangle papers.  When I want quite a few matching blocks, this is the way to go.  I have some baggies of triangles all ready to be sewn into bigger blocks, too.

This little project is something I'm making for a Bear Patch retreat.  It's a pattern that I used a long time ago, but unearthed once again to offer as a make-and-take project for retreaters.  I have the pieces cut and interfacing in place, now I just have to do the ribbon embellishment and sew the whole works together.

Here's another little bag for the store display.  It's a Quiltsmart pattern, and is printed on fusible interfacing that is sewn into the bag.  It's just a little bigger than a cell phone, and you can put a cross-body or wristlet strap on it.  I've used other Quiltsmart patterns so I know the process used.

And this quilt is all cut out and ready to sew up.  I have construction themed fabrics so this will be something for little Leo to crawl around with.  The 60 degree triangle ruler made the cutting so easy!

And I still have a few Bridget's Bagettes prepped from a couple years ago when I couldn't stop making these!  I have the fabric all cut and fused to interfacing, clear vinyl cut and ready, zippers and threads color-coordinated.

Another little sorta' bag that I'm testing out, a pattern called Hang On from Lazy Girl.  Fabric and interfacing and threads all picked out and packaged to go.

Lastly, at least for today, is the pieces to make another Sew Together bag.  This will be my third, so it should be quick!  In the second picture below you can see one that I've finished.  It has 3 zipper compartments inside.  Interfacing, zippers, threads, lining, etc., all ready to go.  The fabric on the left is going to be the outside of the bag.  My mom got it on one of their trips in a Central American country, and I would like this bag to go to her when I finish.

There might still be more additions to this list, especially since I have next Saturday at home before leaving on Sunday for the retreat.  I might complete something else before I even leave, and pull in one of the 2 patterns for totebags that I want to make!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

the hand quilting frame-up

When Bob and I were visiting my mom for Christmas, we got to help her set up and mount a new quilt on the frame for hand quilting.  This is going to be a "big boy" quilt for Jack, who is now 3.  It's larger than a standard queen, so she needed new poles that were longer.  They are standard bannister railings from the lumber yard.  
I'll see if I can kind of lay this out in steps for you.  You don't find instructions for this sort of thing very often, she does it all by memory from years ago when her mom did quilting on a frame similar to this.

1.  The backing, batting and quilt top were all laid out smooth and flat on the floor.  We put some pins through the backing into the carpet to help hold it in place and try to prevent it shifting and causing wrinkles. 
2.  We used lots of safety pins to secure the 3 layers together all over the quilt, about 6-8 inches apart.  It's important to get all the way through to the backing fabric but not attach it to the carpet!
4.  Mom had prepared the fabric for the leaders - strips stapled to the wooden poles which then serve as the way to attach the quilt to the poles.  She used a strip of fabric from a sheet, I think about 4" wide and pressed in half.  The cut edges are stapled down, leaving the folded edge for the quilt to be pinned to.  You have to make sure that the strip is real straight on the pole, and this is one reason the hand rails work great.  They have one flattened surface, and we used that as a landmark to keep it straight.  I think this part was the hardest, even with a very good staple gun it was easy to get them only partially punched in.  I'm really glad Bob was handy to help with that.

5.  After the fabric was attached to the poles, we laid the pole on the floor by the quilt.  The backing was just barely big enough on this quilt, but we made it work.  We aligned the raw edge of the quilt top with the stapled edge, then safety pinned through the layers into the leader strip on the pole.  This has to be attached with safety pins only a few inches apart, to keep it from having too much stress or stretch at any one spot.

6.  Repeat the same process with the pole and stapling and pinning on the opposite end of the quilt.
7.  We had 2 people rolling the quilt onto a pole with the other person holding the opposite end to keep it a little bit taut, but not too much.  The rollers have to go slowly and make sure it is staying straight and even as they go.

8.  The 2 poles are then lifted up and someone has to hold them while another person lines up the "legs" of the frame.  The legs are kind of like a cross with a wider base.  The cross piece of wood has openings for the hand rails to be slid into at each end. 

9.  After the quilt is in place and the frame is supporting itself, there are large screws (the thing with the metal ring in the closest part of the picture above) that are tightened up.  This keeps the poles from rolling while the quilting of a section is done.  Then they can be loosened to advance the quilt and roll it around the second pole.  Eventually, the whole quilt gets rolled onto the second pole as the work progresses.  In the picture below, mom uses a screwdriver through the ring to get it good and tight.  I forgot to mention that she also places wooden wedges with the pole into the hole to get it tight.  She taps those in with her pliers.

10.  You can probably see in the picture below that there are some rubber bands laced around little pegs on the top side of the cross piece.  She uses them hooked over safety pins in the edge of the quilt to keep it taut while she's working in that area.  Also, you can see part of the tilting mechanism that allows her to tip the quilt top at an angle to work on it more comfortably.  She listens to a lot of recorded books from the library while she stitches.  She's had some shoulder pain this fall, and has had to sometimes limit the amount of time she can stitch so it doesn't get worse.

So that's pretty much all I know about using a hand quilting frame and how to get a quilt mounted on it.  Now comes the real art of hand quilting!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

yes, I'm still here!

I know, I've been a bad blogger here!
But I do write the blog for Bear Patch, and that has been more of a priority lately!
So, I've neglected my little frayed edge account.
Today, Christmas Eve, I have some minutes available to update here!

First, I love this picture of my son-in-law, Ben, with Jack (left) and Ian (right).  They were visiting the Atlantic Ocean shoreline of North Carolina.  Baby Leo must have been napping.  It makes me so happy to see their happy faces!

Next, here's a big beautiful barn quilt hanging on my house.
Specially made by Jarry and Mary, my brother and sister-in-law.
They make quite a creative team!  I love it!

I got a new rug for my living room, after an unfortunate incident with some red wine on the old one.  I was really actually glad that happened, because I needed to replace it, anyway!
This turns out to be a good replacement.

And I've been sneaking in a little sewing, too, but not so very much.  I did make this contemporary Christmas wallhanging, called Shining Star, from a pattern by Sandy Gervais.  It's part of our Christmas display at Bear Patch for right now.

And here's my only other Christmas sewing, a runner called Crazy Christmas Trees.  It's one of the Cut Loose Press patterns and uses a special ruler called the Spiderweb.  I did a little tutorial on it last fall for a retreat group, and there were a lot of Crazy Christmas trees made that day!

I have been slowly working on some English paper piecing.  This is a block from Sue Daley's Round We Go block-of-the-month.  We're supposed to be making 4 each month, but I think I have made 8 now when I should have completed 16!  Oh well, I might be making a smaller version!  This block is a reminder of my recent trip to Kauai, with turtles, seaweed, bubbles and sunshine!

 This stack of fabric came home with me from Houston Quilt Market in October.  It's called barkcloth, a heavier fabric than our usual quilting cottons.  It's like the old curtains my grandma had, and usually had some large floral motifs.  Most of these prints are on a small to medium scale.  This fabric comes from a company called Ella Blue, and if you click on the link you can read a story about the designer and what inspired her.  I saw a quilt made from these with just a scrappy assortment.  Looking at them like this makes me realize I need to add in some lighter colors.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


I realize I kind of left a big gap in my little travelogue for you!  To continue on with our September trip to the Las Vegas, NV, area---

 We did more hiking and walking in the Red Rocks National Conservation Area, returning to a different area of the park on this day.  This trail was a little hard to follow, as it was a lot of working our way up through bolder fields.  We did this in the morning, so we didn't mind the heat as much.  It was a beautiful hike and a good experience as I'm trying to condition myself to not be so fearful of heights.  Some bright little flowers along the trail, and one of those prickly pear purple flowery things!

I realized I don't really have much to show for quilt shop fun during this trip.  In addition to visiting Quiltique, which I wrote of in my last post, we tracked down 2 other quilt shops in the listings for the city.  Sew Little Time was a small fabric shop in a strip mall, also selling machines.  Not impressive nor friendly, I'm afraid that the name reflects the length of my experience there.  Can't win them all!

The Christmas Goose was another stop, and despite a name that seemed like a flashback to 1980, it did house an impressive collection of fabrics, patterns and samples.  They had an adjacent large classroom area with a group indulging in something creative.  The focus in this shop was a lot more towards traditional and Civil War repro fabrics, but they also had some good seasonal picks.  I also picked up a nice little travel light there.  It did help me accomplish a little more nighttime needlework, although we were winding down on the days (and nights) left in Vegas.
Often, when I visit other quilt shops, I am much more focused on their displays and merchandising than on actually shopping for myself.  So not very interesting to share!  It's things like this method of folding and packaging pre-printed panel cuts in a bag that can be hung and kept orderly.  Those panels have always been a source of frustration for me at Bear Patch.  They are hard to display in a neat and orderly method.  We pre-cut and price the panels individually, and fold them in a basket.  Even if there is one of the panels open and displayed, customers understandably feel the urge to unfold those panels.  That usually leaves a wrinkled mess because they don't end up refolded the same way.  Just like those pesky road maps that never collapse back to their original size!  Well, at Quiltique, I saw their panels done this way with a picture of the entire panel on one side of the bag and the actual size of a portion of the print visible on the other side of the bag.  I need to try this out!

We did take one night to go down to "The Strip" and walk a few blocks, get dinner, and see some of the sights while shouldering our way through the crowds.  We ambled through the Venetian shops, alongside the canals complete with gondolas.  Just window shopping here, as most of the places were very posh designer names that don't really fit with my lifestyle!  I did enjoy seeing a small rare book shop, and admired the 1st edition Mark Twain Huckleberry Finn book priced around $11,000.  I left that one behind for someone else, and just imagined everything I could do with that money if I had it in my hands!

This is kind of dark, but it was part of a beautiful autumn display in one area of the hotel lobby/ casino. 
White pumpkins and gourds with black tendrils and foliage.
This was an art display of thousands of blue/green ribbons hanging from the very high ceiling over a water pool.  They swayed slightly with the air movement. 

We traveled on Spirit Airlines for the first time for this trip, thinking we would test out just exactly what this "no-frills, bare bones" approach to air travel would feel like.  It turned out fine, but there are plenty of little rules to pay attention to.  Luggage and carry-on and personal items became very important to clue in on so we didn't unintentionally end up paying for more than we expected.  Even the timing of when you reserve your spot and plan what you are bringing makes a difference in the fare.  Even though we don't have to absolutely fly the cheapest way possible, it's nice to know up front what we are paying for.  We did have one combined suitcase to check, but with a fee for going over 40 pounds, we had to pack carefully.  That's why I ended up wearing my hiking boots home!  Not such a sophisticated look, but it got those heavy things out of the suitcase!  Which brings me to ask the question-- If their main reason for limiting weight is to economize on fuel, as they state on their website, why does it matter whether those boots travel on my feet or in my suitcase??  They get to the destination either way, but in the suitcase they cost extra!

This trip ends with a very sad epilogue.  We left Las Vegas on Saturday, September 31.  On Sunday night, October 1, the mass shooting occurred.  I learned of it early Monday morning, and couldn't believe that this had happened in the midst of where we had just been vacationing.  Walking on the same streets, by the same hotels, near the concert venue, along with other people who may have become victims that night.  And a black cloud of the thought of that shooter walking amongst everyone, too.  I come away with no great conclusions about the meaning of life, the politics of gun control in our country, nor the culture that sustains such a strange city of contrasts.