Monday, December 30, 2013

Another mystery

Oh dear, these mysteries are a bit addictive. I just discovered a free online mystery that takes place on New Year's Day called Merry Mayhem mystery. You can google it or hopefully find it here. I am trying to figure out how to add links but I am struggling so it may not work.

It sounds like a fun day of sewing and my SIL and I have decided we will FaceTime during the day to keep up with each other's progress. Apparently a new clue is released each hour and by the end of the day you will have a quilt top. But first you need to pull fabric and then do some prep work which involves some cutting, marking and sewing. Since this a just for fun project I pulled from my stash and came up with this selection of 20 med/dks and 20 lights using the large floral as my focus fabric.

Well, I better go start getting ready for Wednesday!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Celtic Solstice Part 5

The work continues on Bonnie Hunter's mystery Celtic Solstice. It has been so fun working on this project and I find that I am also learning a lot. This week we made a split triangle unit that I think I saw someone call birds in flight of something. Lots of bias edges to sew but they came out fine. I find it much easier to only chain piece in groups of ten. It helps me keep track of the numbers and I don't get bored with any one step. It also saves me from lots of unsewing when I make a mistake. Yep, twice I realized I had sewn triangle to the wrong side but at least I only had ten to fix.

I included my inspiration fabric in this photo. When I started pulling fabric for the mystery I was decorating for Christmas and thought a new Christmas quilt would be nice. Hopefully I can use the inspiration fabric for borders but I will have to wait for the reveal to see if that will work.



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Celtic mystery part 4

With Christmas just a few days away I have finally finished the last of the Christmas gifts. And I have been able to grab a few minutes here and there to work on Part 4 of the CS mystery quilt. So happy that this part has been easy and with my color changes it has felt very timely to be working on units in green and red. I am not quite finished but I should be done by the time I head out of town to celebrate Christmas with my middle son and his family.

And I finally finished this little embroidery project. I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with it and ended up just making it into a pillow. As much as I love quilted wall hangings, it is often difficult to find a place for display so hopefully this will be better. I actually love how this turned out and may need to make myself something similar next year. In the meantime I am enjoying it in my livingroom until it gets wrapped. I guess that is cheating but I am sure the recipient wouldn't mind.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Celtic mystery part 2 and 3

I am still working away on Bonnie Hunter's mystery, Celtic solstice. This weekend I finished part 2 and 3 which puts me up to date - for now. Lots of little pieces and units including chevrons and pinwheels. I have changed several of the colors and right now I am seeing a lot of tan. Eek, I hope the next clue brings in more of the green or teal. :)

I decided to try Bonnie's method of making half square triangles using the Easy Angle tool. It is always great to try a new technique and I have had this ruler for years and had no idea how to use it. This picture gives you an idea of how it is used and Bonnie gives a great explanation on her blog. I am not sure if I got as accurate results as other methods I have used but I think it would be a great way to make HST's out of Jelly roll strips.

Looking forward to part 4.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Quilting with my SIL

This year my SIL, who lives many states away from me in Texas, and I had fun completing a project together for our In-laws. It was fun for both of us and when we finished we decided it would be fun to continue quilting "together. Our first project was the Aiming for Accuracy Quilt along and it was great fun sharing each other's progress each week. She finished her project on time and even has it quilted! Unfortunately my back surgery delayed my progress but I am almost finished. Just borders to add now.

So once we finished that project it was time to find another. Though I have never participated in Bunnie Hunter's mystery quilt alongs before I had read about them and wanted to give that a try. My SIL was in and we decided to start the Celtic Solstice Mystery in Jan. But the allure was too strong for both of us and we instead began yesterday. The quilt along started the Friday after Thanksgiving and you can find the details through Bonnie Hunter' blog Quiltville's Quips & Snips. Wow, there is lots of cutting and sewing in these blocks and my rulers were slightly different than the Tri Recs rulers that Bonnie is using so I am hoping that my blocks are OK. I am using Marti Michelle's rulers and they recommend cutting off lots of corners before sewing. Seems to be fine but I am not loving all the extra cutting. So, I finally have 20 units sewn, out of 188 and about 2/3 of the cutting done. I worked almost all day and this is only part one so lots more work to do. Sure hope I like the quilt as I have also changed up the colors from Bonnie's recommendations.

So is anyone else working on this mystery? I actually am having fun and if this quilt is as interesting as Bonnie's previous mysteries, I should love it!


Friday, December 6, 2013

A Pretty Pillow

As the mother of three boys, I have waited years and years to have a little girl to sew for. I think I even started quilting when I realized that making pretty little girl clothes and accessories was not going to be in the cards for me. So now that I am the grandmother to a wee little girl I am so excited to be able to stitch girly things at last.

The last couple of days I put this together. This is a free pattern and tutorial that I got from the "Don't Look Now" designer's blog. My Viking does not like to free motion quilt for me so I have to get out a big heavy machine when I want to do any small free motion projects (which is why I rarely do these type of things) and in this project the appliqué and quilting is done at the same time. The appliqué is fused down and then just stitched leaving the raw edges. It is a fun technique but I think I will only use it on small projects.

I used this for a pillow but because the edges are bound it could easily be used as a little was hanging if the pillow form was removed. I have not finished a pillow edge this way before but I will certainly be doing it again as I love how the binding looks like piping on the pillow.

Just for fun here is a close up of the stitching.

If I have confused you I will try to explain better in my next post as I did not take helpful pictures along the way but I have another pillow coming up and will try to remember to take photos!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A little holiday Stitching

Well the house is tidy and on the market and since my back is feeling a bit better I decidedt to try a little stitching.

First a little embroidery that will be turned into a Christmas gift. Three of these snow people were free patterns from the Bird Brain Designs web site and the little girl snowman was my own design in the same style as I wanted to make a little family.

I found the pattern for these owl pillows online as well. Just Google Snuggly Owl Pillow pattern and you should find it. They were fun and easy to whip up though I did not have enough fleece sitting around and had to go shopping. These will be little grits for the grandchildren as I want to give them some handmade gift each year.

Finally a finished block from the Rachel Meyer quilt. I am adding embroidery to each block and like the added detail it adds. The original quilt had embroidered details as well so I think I am on the right track.

Now that I am back in the sewing room, I hope to get back to a few projects that were abandoned during the time of my surgery. I especially want to get back to LE but that will have to wait as I have few more gifts to make first. I am so happy to be sewing again but really wish we were having activity on the house so we could get moving!


Monday, November 18, 2013

The Good, The Bad and a Thank You

First up a big thank you to my blogging friend Jane from Jane's Threads and Treasures for the sweet little package of goodies. I was away for a few weeks and this awaited me on my return. A little pin cushion, some pretty fabric, chocolates and some lip balm. A lovely gift that just made my day.

And now for "The Good". I am thrilled to be a new grandmother of this darling little girl. Due to adoption laws in the state she was born in, we were on pins and needles for awhile but all went well and she is a wonderful addition to the family.

We were able to go and help out with her older brother right after the birth, because of "The Bad". A few weeks ago, the company that my husband worked for was bought and was closed within a week. All the jobs were eliminated so, less than a year after moving here, we are putting our house up for sale and moving again. This will be the 7th or 8th move in 4 years! It has been a very difficult 4 years and we have decided that enough is enough and it is time to simplify our lives. The good news is that we can move back to be near the grandchildren and our son and daughter-in-law. We will be downsizing again and since my budget will be cut I will have to finally rely on my stash for my quilting. Good job I have a large stash to draw from! Lol

My back recovery continues, though slowly, and this will make the move even harder but I am ready to move forward and hopefully I will be stitching again soon.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Rachel Meyer Quilt

Well no one recognized the blocks I posted previously so I guessing this is a rather obscure quilt but I decided it might be fun to bring it out of obscurity and do my version. I was inspired by all of Esther's work on LE to actually make a quilt that I had seen in a book several years ago and kept speaking to me. Several years ago I was browsing in an antique store in Charleston , SC and came across and old quilting book from 1983 called "American Graphic Quilt Designs" by Dolores Hinson. Now since I am mostly interested in appliqué quilts this title would not have drawn me in at all but the dust jacket showed a photo of the center of a wonderful Baltimore Album quilt. After browsing through the all black and white pictures I realized that this was an early study of Baltimore album quilts with some great quilts I had not seen before. I have followed the Baltimore quilting revival since its early days and had all of Elly Sienkiewicz's books as well as other authors and was startled to discover new, to me, research. Apparently the publisher of this book got it wrong when choosing a title and as a result this work has been overlooked.

Anyway this is the Rachel Meyer quilt as it appears in the book. Just a black and white line drawing and lots of verbiage describing the colors used in the fabrics and embroidery. But the author also went a step further and drew out templates for the blocks as a "pattern". She obviously never actually made the quilt as the templates are not very accurate but a great starting point. A few years later I travelled to Baltimore hoping to see some antique album quilts up close and personal. Unfortunately the Maryland Historical Society had none on display at the time but I was able to get a copy of a book describing the quilts in their collection and voila a color photo of the Rachel Meyer quilt.

I have always loved Jacobean embroidery and the stylized leaves and flowers used and the flowers and leaves in the quilt reminded me of that look. But what also intrigued me was the fun animals and embroidered details on the quilt as well as the medallion setting. It certainly looked nothing like the baskets and flowers I saw in most of the Baltimore album quilts of the time. And so it remained on my wish list until recently.

If you follow my blog, you will know I recently had major back surgery. The severity and length of my expected recovery came as a surprise and I knew I would need something exciting and inspiring to get me through the long days ahead. So in one week I scrambled to prep as many blocks as I could using those templates as my guide. So far it has been interesting work. I have cut the templates as printed anD often discovered that they would not fit together on the block. So In a rather freewheeling fashion, I have resized or redrawn things and made adjustments in placement. And I am finally using the color palette that I was planning to use for LE before my purchase of some beautiful Dutch Chintz sent me in another direction.

So this is not a reproduction quilt for me but one that will probably be recognizable to anyone who has seen the Rachel Meyer quilt. And if you look at the flowers closely you might think they have inspired other modern quilters as some of the elements are very similar to those used in Kim McLean's magnificent work.

Oh and here is a photo of the book. As you can see I used it when creating my own center for the Captain Russell quilt as there are also templates in the book for that quilt. It is a great book for your personal library and an online search shows that it is readily available used at very low prices. I have seen it for as little as a dollar.

So now I am working on 2 exciting appliqué projects, which should really keep me busy stitching!

Update: Well apparently the cheap versions of this book are no longer available. I admit I had not looked online for about a month but when I last looked there were several cheap copies. Now the cheapest appears to be about $35. Sorry!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trying out Blogsy

Well I was hoping to coma post on my inspiration quilt today but before doing that I decided to do a trial post using the Blogsy app on my iPad. I have not been happy with the picture quality of my posts since using my ipad and as I am rather computer challenged anything new has a huge learning curve filled with lots of trial and error.

So here goes. A picture of a few more of the blocks that I have prepped for this quilt.

Perhaps someone recognizes it now!


Monday, October 21, 2013

Finally stitching again!

It has been 4 1/2 weeks since my surgery and I am finally feeling up to a little more stitching. Since this is a quilting blog, I will not bore you with the numerous setbacks in my recovery but I will say it has been very painful and difficult. I saw the doctor today and sure enough an MRI shows that I suffered a stress fracture sometime after surgery. Not sure what caused it and we are just hoping and praying that it heals itself in the next few months, otherwise another surgery! The doctor has only ever seen this once before and while am I certainly not happy about it I was glad to hear that there was an explanation for my severe pain and difficulties.

But enough of that. I did get the last block for the baby quilt finished and hope I can get back to the machine soon to put it together. I also am itching to start part 5 of LE but I have printed it out and maybe I will be up to that soon. As fun and exciting as LE is, sometimes I just feel the need to work on something different and new. Before surgery I decided to prep some blocks that have intrigued me for several years. Here is the first one I prepared.

And here it is with the stitching partially complete.

I will happily show the quilt that I am using as inspiration but first I am just curious if any of you recognize it. I will give you a hint. It is an old quilt from the around 1830 - 1840 and these colors are not representative of the original. In fact here is the fabric that inspired the colors.

One thing about sitting in one chair for long periods of time, for me, is that I start thinking of decorating ideas for the room. I had seen this Decorator fabric and thought I might want to make curtains for my room and had saved a photo to my iPad. Then when I decided to start this quilt I knew that these colors were perfect. And after prepping 6 blocks and sitting for weeks in the same room I have finally ordered the fabric. I love it and amazingly the blocks all blend so well with the colors even though I was only working from a photo. Now I am excited to work on this quilt alongside LE. Hopefully healing will continue and I am able to stitch more often.

Hope you are able to be happily stitching today!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Recovery update

I haven't posted in awhile as I have very little stitching to show. So this is just an update on my recovery. First of all a huge thank you to those that have sent well wishes and kind thoughts. I thought I understood,before the surgery, how difficult this would be but frankly I was not prepared for the setbacks. While my back seems to be on schedule, the muscles that have not been used while I was suffering from sciatica pain are getting quite the workout these days and as a result I am suffering great muscle fatigue pain in my legs. It seems to travel from one muscle group to another with little or no warning so I have had 4 days where I could not stand still without extreme pain behind my knees and now last night and today my butt and hip muscles make getting in and out of a chair very difficult. And everyone says it will be a very long recovery, ha it already feels like forever and it is not yet 3 weeks. But it will be worth it if someday I am able to walk and play with this little guy.

This is my grandson Christopher and I so want to be able to share adventures with him as he grows. My inability to walk any distance the last few years has meant no stroller walks, no trips to the zoo or park. So as I look at this sweet little face I am reminded that my current frustrations will be worth it in the end.

And if all goes well he will soon be joined by a baby sister. My son and DIL have been matched for an adoption of a baby girl who is due Nov 7, my son's birthday! We are praying that all goes smoothly. Another strong motivator in my recovery! I so want to be there to help out when the time comes but sadly that looks unlikely as they are 6 hours away and right now I am not to travel in the car except to doctor's appointments.

I am trying to finish the blocks on a quilt I am making to hang in her room. This is the second to last block and is coming along slowly but surely.

And here are all the blocks on the design wall - pre surgery with many yet unstitched.

Not sure when I will be able to quilt it but I will just consider that to be more motivation to get better!

Friday, September 27, 2013

LE Part 4 finished

Well it is a week since my surgery and I am beginning to feel much better. The pain meds still make me a bit wonky but I feel my motivation returning, enough that I was able to put the finishing touches on LE part 4 this morning.

I used the 1/8 inch bias for most of my stems but added the tiny ones with little embroidered chain stitches and really think they added the perfect finish to the bouquet. I also added a little butterfly to remind me of my surgery and recovery while working on LE. I truly feel this surgery will make my quality of life much better, a rebirth of sorts as I have been in pain for so long and it is fun to add little touches to LE to remind me of the journey. And just for fun here are a few more close ups.

I am glad that I have several things prepped to continue with my hand stitching but I am really looking forward to more broderie perse with part 5.

Thanks again for the well wishes. It has been a blessing to hear from you.

Happy stitching!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The view from my chair

Well. My back surgery is finished and after a few complications, I am home working on recovery. Thanks for all the well wishes, it really has helped.

I am happy to report that I am able to do a little stitching and am able to walk around to house with the aid of a walker. Each day there is a little improvement and already much of the leg pain I have had for several years has declined.

So here is what I see from my chair. You can see I am all set up for a little handwork. Now just to get motivated!

Happy stitching!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

LE and Broderie Perse

At last the excitement really begins with the addition of the flower vase corners in LE. I have looked forward to this part for months! As I have mentioned before, I purchased some Dutch chintz for this project before the pattern was even released, hoping that I would be able to use it for broderie perse and was delighted to find that it was perfect! However before beginning I shopped my stash to look for other fabric options to include as well. I have only used this technique once before and was not concerned with the background color of the fabric because I was just appliquéing individual flowers. However, when looking at antique quilts I saw that usually the background fabric of the floral fabric matched the background of the quilt so that the stitching did not need to be so precise and so that more details could be kept. With that in mind I ended up eliminating most of the fabrics with darker backgrounds and here is the resulting pile of fabric.

The front left fabric is my Dutch chintz focus fabric. I have 1/2 yard of this fabric - I wish I had more but at $40/yd it will have to do. There are 2 fat quarters of different chintz and then a few fabrics from the stash with similar colors and style of flowers.

I first looked at the pattern to determine the approximate size of flowers that I would need and then began cutting and placing a few. The first few I think I cut too small a seem allowance so we will see how the stitching goes. Anyway, using the pattern as a general guideline I just kept cutting and placing flowers. The pattern was on my light box so I was able to see it through the fabric when placing the flowers. Here is the arrangement of flowers.

As you can see the tiny bias stems that I made in the previous post are also in place. Those were added after the flowers in a way that made sense with the design. Originally I wanted to embroider the stems but I am liking these. Once the leaves and flowers are stitched there will still need to be a few tiny stems added and these will be embroidered. I actually selected the vase fabric first as it helped me visualize the arrangement as I went. After completing the arrangement this far I started auditioning fabrics for the hearts.

I decided on these and then added the hearts and filled the arrangement with leaves.

I had trouble deciding about the leaves. Broderie perse or not. As you see I decided to just cut them out green fabric from templates. I just like the look. And the little sprays where the pattern shows stems and berries are just cut from fabric and will be stitched down with the background showing to keep all the detail intact. Hope that works!

And here are a few of the flowers that got rejected for this vase. Some were cut from a fabric with a red background. I love the flowers but they just didn't seem to work well with the others. Hopefully some of the remaining flowers will make their way into one of the next vases. I must say this process has me hooked. It was just so much fun arranging the bouquet. Now to get stitching! Oh and you might notice a pile of blue pointed ovals from part 3, more samples as I am thinking I might be changing out my originals. I have decided not to make that decision til after all the vases of flowers are stitched!

On a final note, thanks to all for the well wishes on my upcoming back surgery. I have lots of handwork prepped for the long recovery and look forward to reading the blogs and seeing progress on LE. Hope to be back soon!

Happy stitching!