Sunday, June 17, 2018

Downton Abbey Quilt Completed

And most importantly it's been delivered to my late friend's husband. He loves it. We cried.

It's roughly 84 inches square, which makes it about queen size. It also makes it difficult to get photos unless two people are holding it up with a third to take the picture. Some wonderful ladies in the quilt club I just joined came to my rescue for these. (I've edited out the personal details on the label for privacy.) I will say that the label starts with "In Loving Memory," and includes: her details and the work she did on the quilt, a photo of her, and my details with credit to "repairs, borders, quilting, and binding." Also dates, because dates are important to the history of a quilt.

For anyone who wonders what pattern was used, well it's like this. She started with The Ladies of Downton Abbey by Needle in A Hayes Stack but somewhere, probably during the early stages of chemo, decided that she didn't want the blocks on point. Honestly I have to think hard about blocks on point without the "benefit" of chemotherapy so I can see why she opted to reorient them.

The picture below shows that she altered the pattern again by making the blocks more scrappy than the pattern called for; three different fabrics instead of two. (Photo was take prior to quilting.) Also when my friend pieced the blocks, her seam allowance was a hair on the large side, so the blocks are a tad bit smaller than what the pattern said they'd be. But their size was consistent.... which told me she pieced them before the chemo really got to her.

As for the borders, they're all my creation. The first just echoes the sashing strips, a 2.5 inch, width of fabric cut (2 per side) all around. The cream border was cut at 3.5 inches so it would be a bit larger and more of a place to rest the eyes from the two busy sections.

The piano key outer border was fashioned by sewing strip sets of all the leftover fabrics and then cutting off 4.5 inch sections perpendicular to the seam lines. I did fiddle with the order here and there and sometimes cut individual 4.5" x 2.5" sections to keep the border from having a repetitive pattern. The corners were capped off with 4.5 inch squares of the binding fabric.

I picked the fabric for the binding because it's purple and that was my friend's favorite color. I also used a large swathe of it on the back of the quilt. Incidentally, you can make over 11 yards of double fold bias binding that is cut 3 inches wide from a 36 inch square of fabric.

I really hope she'd love this if she could see it. And I hope someday when her grandchildren are telling their grandchildren about her, they will say, "making a quilt is so much work and not everyone is worthy of such a gift. You can imagine how much your great-great grandma was loved that someone finished this quilt after she went to Heaven." 

Because she was.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Teaser Revealed and Cuteness

Remember this teaser from last weekend?

Well here's what I've done so far with it.

Originally this was supposed to be a single Dresden plate on a wall hanging, but the teacher in our class gave us the bright idea to turn it into a more utilitarian quilt with four Dresdens. Whoops.

My difficulty was the fabric I'd picked for the sunburst rays for the original singleton. It's an older fabric and I snagged the last fat quarter in the shop when I kitted things up for the class. So I improvised and made each sunburst different. Two have blue backgrounds and the other two have green backgrounds.

As of this extremely lazy moment, all four are appliqued onto their background squares and I've cleaned up all the threads. However I don't have a picture because they're downstairs and it's actually after 1:00 in the morning here. I figured I'd type up the blog now so I can get right to sewing in the morning.

I'm trying to get several smaller projects finished to the point of hand binding, slip stitching, etc before Tuesday afternoon. I'm sending my sewing machine off for cleaning and the pickup is first thing Wednesday morning. I'm hoping I'll have plenty of hand finishing to keep me busy, but if I get desperate I can always piece something on my old machine. It still works just fine, it just lacks all the bells and whistles the new one has. And the rule of thumb with piecing is to start and finish a project on the same machine because they're all a bit different.

I'm actually finished with my friend's quilt, but want to wait until I've delivered it before I post pictures anywhere. So I'll be sharing that next weekend. Until then, have some cuteness to tide you over.

See you next weekend!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Dodging An Expensive Bullet, Completing A Class, A U.F.O., and Another Class

When I left off last week, I was playing with the homework from my quilting class. I was also finishing up reorganizing many of the unfinished projects and fabrics I'd purchased with projects in mind. I had a stack of gorgeous fat quarters that needed put away in my generic quilting stash, so I went to do that. That's when I remembered my stash bin was over full and that I could pull out some of the kitted projects from there and give them the same organizational treatment as the others.

It seemed like a fantastic idea and I started pulling out fabrics destined to be things. That's when I heard an odd noise. Like little rattling things hitting hard surfaces. I started digging. That when I found: seeds.

It seems a mouse decided my stash bin would be the best place to have a larder for winter. After uttering some phrases that would make a sailor stop, think, and turn crimson, I started digging some more... and sniffing as I went. The universe was apparently trying to create some balance for all the recent frustrations I've had because there were no rodent corpses, no feces, no urine, and no chewed up fabric. Just lots and lots of seeds.

FuzzyHusband helped me move the giant bin out of storage and I started sorting by color family. Thankfully I'd also just purchased a box of color catchers by Shout. Those things saved my stash because they caught all the loose dye as I washed every scrap of fabric to remove any mouse taint. Because... ick.

While I was at it, I finally got around to reorganizing the stash into manageable 16 QT bins that are clear and labeled them. Small price to pay to save a few hundred dollars (or more) worth of fabric. Seventeen bins in all and that doesn't count: where the batiks are stored, some fabric I set aside for a mystery quilt, and another 3 fabrics that I have multiple yards of to make some luggage accessories. The last one is tied up in a clean pillow case because I ran out of bins. Once I finish some more small quilted things, I'll free up a bin. No sense in buying more.

Once all the laundry was done and the holiday was over, I was able to go get more fabric to bind my little basket mini quilt. It's finished now and I"m quite pleased with it!

In all of the cleaning I did in the previous week, many old projects rolled back out into the light of day. Remember this one? I just needed to make a label and finish a single corner of the binding... 3 years ago. Its finished now too!

That brings me to today. I took another quilting class and have quite a bit of work ahead of me. I"m only going to tease you with the "before" photo because I want to get back to sewing.

Now I'm going to go finish the quilting on my friend's quilt and then start back on my quilting class homework. See you next weekend! Oh and Ellie says, "zzzzzzzzzz."

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Busy Week

The past week was really busy with appointments, phone calls, and errands. Lots of hurrying up and waiting. And then there was a high school graduation and celebration out of town on Friday.

FuzzyHusband has been encouraging me to get out more and meet new friends in the area. With that in mind, I let myself get talked into a quilting class yesterday. I'd been meaning to try paper piecing for the longest time anyway and the concept was interesting.

Getting some practice with my new machine's free motion foot was nice too. It's not the best quilting job, but I can't get better without practice. I haven't bound it because I didn't figure out until I was already home (and the shop was closed) that the fabrics for the dark border and binding were mislabeled in the kit. So I need a new strip of fabric for my binding. Whoops. That's what I get for being excited to play and not checking the widths against the directions.

After assembling and quilting comes embellishing. I just tossed the flowers, leaves, and bag of beads on the quilt for this photo. It was late and I wanted to get some sleep. I'll be arranging and attaching the pretty bits later today.

All in all it was a fun little class and a great way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday. I'll likely be doing more of these. Every month there's a different mini quilt pattern and they all feature different piecing and embellishment technique, so each one is a skill builder. Plus the other ladies were lots of fun.

And if I'm being totally honest, I needed a mental and emotional break from my friend's quilt. It's been harder to do for me than I realized and I was really fighting with the quilting last weekend. So I promised myself that I'd only work on fun little things for this holiday weekend to give myself a break. Plus I could totally have seen my friend taking this class too. Like me, her favorite color was purple and she loved flowers. And I could hear her in my head telling me to have a bit of a rest. So I listened.

Speaking of resting, two of my ladies were competing for table space and attention the other day. I couldn't resist getting some photos. This one is my favorite.

Stay safe over the holiday and I'll see you next weekend!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Top and Back

The quilt top got finished Wednesday evening. 

I'm quite pleased with the borders.

I finished piecing the back late last night/early this morning. This was an effort to use as much of her Downton Abbey fabric as possible. I did have to buy some more fabric, which was a neat trick since that line isn't made anymore.

Without showing the label, for privacy reasons, here's a closer lok a the details on the back.

The whole quilt gets layered and basted tomorrow afternoon. I'm got a friend coming over to help me since two sets of hands will likely be necessary. Today I'll make the binding because having it done ahead of time will be nice.

While I was out shopping for more fabric and batting on Friday, I picked up another stuffed animal pattern. This fellow is going to be fun!

And His Fuzziness decided to delay mowing the lawn for a few hours yesterday in favor of picking and de-petaling a mess of dandelions. There will be dandelion wine in our future. The spheres are re-hydrated golden raisins. The contents are happily bubbling in the stock pot. Apparently the recipe calls for letting everything ferment together for 3 days before straining the chunks from the liquid and continuing fermentation in another vessel.

That's all for now. I should find breakfast and get to making binding. I'm hoping to have everything mostly quilted by next Sunday. It's going to be a heavy job with all that fabric. There will have to be periodic breaks to rest my arms and shoulders. See you next time!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Forward Progress

I started trying to sew earlier in the week and discovered that it was extremely difficult to get up and down the stairs easily. Stupid knee is being grumpy still. We're thinking it's overwork from me attempting to work on my balance.

In an effort to keep me seated more, FuzzyHusband brought home a tabletop ironing pad. It worked out pretty well.

Once I got going with the blocks I discovered I needed to trim ad square up every single one. Apparently that was a step my friend skipped due to chemo brain. She also made the block seams a bit too wide, so they aren't the size they should be. But that's ok. I will add a bit more size with the borders.

In the effort to square up the blocks quicker, I put together a homemade template. It worked out quite well.

In fact it worked so well I've hinted to Himself that he could make me a few plexiglass versions in different sizes for fussy cutting and squaring up blocks. It gives him an excuse to play with the laser cutter at the makerspace.

At this point the rows are reassembled. They're looking quite nice if I do say so myself.

Next up is the horizontal sashing pieces.

As for the borders, I"m considering cutting a finished 3 inch border from the sashing fabric, as opposed to a 2 inch finished width like the sashing pieces. It would give a bit more size to the quit top. I"m not sure though, but I'll lay it out and ponder it once the rows are fully reassembled.

In other news, FH and I finally bottled the cherry apple cider he made last spring. Most of it's been given away to friends at this point.

It's not as clear as we thought it would be, but it does have a lovely color. If I was to compare it to a wine, I'd say it's most like a rose'.

Once carboy space was freed up, we started a mead. Honey is so pretty when it's pooling. This particular mead used 15 pounds of honey for 5 gallons of mead.

This batch is flavored with fresh ginger and these gorgeous, pink cara cara oranges.

It took a while, but the yeast finally got bubbling. Now we wait for several months.

That's all for now. I need to try and get some sleep and then get back to the quilt once the sun's up again. Hopefully I'll have a finished top and another 5 gallons of mead to show off next weekend. See you then!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Back to Sewing

I started the sad business of taking apart my friend's quilt top this week. As I worked, I could see her husband and I made the correct choice. Many of the seams were close to falling apart already. 

As you can see below, I've made a labeled reference photo and labeled each block individually. The blocks will be put back in the arrangement she chose.

This is where I am now. The replacement fabric needs preshrinking and to do that I must get the current loads of laundry out of the way.

While waiting on laundry, I started this fellow. I found the pattern for him and the fabrics at a new quilt shop in the area while on the hunt for the replacement sashing fabric. I'd originally planned on using a fabric from her stash, but when I did a burn test on the scrap, it melted. It's polyester.

The name of the pattern company is in the "before" photo. I have to say he was lots of fun to make. I may find excuses to made one or two more. I may also find excuses to purchase another pattern or two... or three. I was particularly enamored with the octopus and wombat patterns, but they were out of stock. Happily, there's a website!

The creatures left me alone the entire time I was working. But Ellie appeared in time to "help" me with the photos.

She was quite pleased with herself.

That's all for this week. I'm hoping to get caught back up with laundry and get the quilt reassembled this week. Bonus will be one or both borders.