Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Happy Christmas to All and to All a Goodnight!

This is going to be a busy week here in Constant Quilter land so I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Hanukkah begins on Christmas Eve this year and Kwanzaa is on Boxing Day.

So, to all of you wonderful quilters out there, whatever your faith, I wish you a very Happy Holiday season.

I hope you get lots of quilting time in the coming year! 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Pot Luck on Parade!

 I am having so much fun with this “Pot Luck” quilt! It may not be as easy as I had perceived it to be, but it has been so much fun to work on. Obviously, it would have been much speedier to make a conventional top and have it machine quilted.

(Sorry about the mess on the table, my husband is making a ship model in the living room!)

But, I really wanted to try the potholder method on something that was not simply the same square block over and over. And, I wanted to incorporate hand and machine quilting which is something I rarely do. I have learned a LOT from this project. I’ll try to share some of my experience as I go along. 

The most difficult thing for me is taking good photographs to post. My little Ipad takes great pictures in the daylight, but I don’t have any of that in the winter except on weekends. I also live in an old farmhouse with NO wall space for hanging a design wall. I have a small board for small quilts, but when I want to layout a large quilt I have to do it on a floor. I'm not complaining, I love my old house! I always tell people that I could never live in a "new" house because I would have no one to blame the dirt on but myself. I have nearly 150 years of dirt in my house and only 20 of those are mine! That is a lot of historical dust!

I think I have revised the layout plan at least once a day. Here is the most recent one with a little hand quilted unit.

I cut the backs out of my appliques if I am going to hand quilt over them. Do you? 

Have a great week! I hope you all get a little stitching time in between the baking and the parties!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

SVBAQ Update: Peony

I love peonies, especially the white ones with the tiny pink centers. They remind me of my Nana. I love having them on my table on the deck in the spring when we are dining outside. My husband has an ant phobia so we don’t bring them in the house! As with a few previous blocks, I took a few liberties with this one.

in the hoop, partially quilted

and the back

Please take a look at all the wonderful peony blocks this month on the Shenandoah Valley Botanical Album QuiltBlog. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

It must have been the eggnog!

I mean, why else would I have decided to “start” a new project in the busiest season of the year? Thankfully, no one will miss my cooking, but they might wonder why my tree is half decorated or why the vacuum cleaner is still in the middle of the floor!

I am mesmerized by obsessed with this new “Pot Luck” quilt. I find myself stopping midstream to run to the sewing room to sneak in “one more stitch”.

I have discovered two important things; 1 – I did not have as many “orphan blocks” as I thought I did and 2 – It is easier (and much more fun) to create “new” orphan blocks than to use the old ones. Part of the reason for #2 is that most of the orphans were actually “rejects” from other projects and so to make them look “happy” again, I had to make quite a few adjustments.

 I have had a ball making these crazy mixed up wacky blocks! At first, I tried to “let go” and use whatever came next in the scrap pile. But, it became quickly evident that I was spending way too much time “playing” with scraps. Those of you who make scrap quilts know that there is really a lot more “planning” in a scrap or crazy quilt than one might think.

I am using reproduction “cheater prints” for the backings.

And, did I mention that I have decided to hand quilt all the appliqued blocks? Yet another “time consumer” (but loads of fun). 

So… instead of the easy peasy holiday season quilt, this has become my “winter” go to project. Monday’s blanket of snow is being quickly devoured by today’s fog. But, the warm temperatures won’t keep me from dreaming of a white Christmas and a fun and productive winter!

Hope your day is full of quilty things!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Snow Day!

I woke up this morning to a beautiful blanket of snow. It is just the ticket to get me in the holiday mood.

Do you ever feel like quilting takes a back seat in the busy holiday season? With jobs and family and volunteer work over the next few weeks, quilting seems to be at the bottom of the list.

I currently have 7 quilts in process in different stages (not included in the list of 47 “someday” quilts pinned to the wall). Two require more design work as I go along which involves using the brain as well as the hands.

So, of course the logical thing to do (in order to fit a little quilting into every day), is to start a new project! This one will utilize my orphan blocks leftover from previous quilts. How hard could it be? Most of the work is already done, right?

Here is my preliminary layout. I laid out a simple grid which will allow the quilted and bound blocks to fit together nicely. 

I’m binding all the blocks in a solid red to hopefully tie it all together.

I’ve named it “Pot Luck” which fits my practice of naming all my potholder quilts with some sort of reference to cooking.

And while I was searching through one of the Christmas boxes I came across this photo. This is "Monk" my son's favorite childhood toy. My son was born on New Year's Eve in 1979, so this must have been early January 1980. Do you see the magazine on the end table? It was probably in my Christmas stocking that year. He doesn't dare buy me any books or magazines now for fear I already have them! 

So, what are you doing to simplify your holiday quilting? 
Are you crazy enough to start something new?

Enjoy the day!

Monday, December 5, 2016

To Baste or Not to Baste...

I had so many comments about the fact that I do not baste my quilts before quilting that I thought I had better explain why.

I would like to reiterate that I have mastered the art of lazy quilting and in fact have taken it to new levels. I used to baste. I would carefully layout each layer of the quilt on my living room floor and struggle on my hands and knees to baste (as suggested) every 3” to 4”. But then one day I asked myself “why am I basting this thing when I take out all the basting stitches in the hoop as I go along? Why not eliminate this step all together?

So… here is how I do prepare my quilts for hand quilting now. I still layout all three layers, but instead of basting I simply turn the edge of the backing around to the front and baste it down (o.k., so you caught me in a fib, I do baste a little!).

(This little stain was on the vintage feedsack when I got it so I left it just as is.)

I then start my quilting in the center and simply pull smooth out the 3 layers within the hoop, and away we go. 

The secret is to take a little quilting with you when you move on to the next spot. If you jump around from place to place with your hoop you will most likely have a pucker, but if you make sure that your 3 layers are smooth and tight each time you move, your finished product will be as smooth as a baby’s behind!

Give it a try! It really helps the aging knees!

Disclaimer: This “no baste” method does not work for machine quilting anything over 36” or so. I don’t usually machine quilt anything over 36” so you see I really don’t baste very often.

These little guys from my latest "potholder" quilt project (more to come in my next post) were not basted before quilting.

I guess that is why I like the potholder method so much. I do not baste these little blocks before machine quilting or binding. Because I use wool batting, they stick together quite nicely after pressing the 3 layers together so there is no need to baste.

Hope this relieves all the pondering and the stress of basting for the rest of your lives!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The saga continues with Quilty 365

Well, my little circles are happily all lined up in their perky little rows. There are actually 360 blocks (18 x 20) so I added 5 little circles in the center to make the 365 circles in one year.

I had circle applique withdrawal on November 10! I quickly laid out the whole thing with wool batting and turned the edges over to baste around the edge so I can carry it around for a while without catching the wool batting on everything. I don’t baste my tops if I am going to hand quilt them. I just start in the middle and work out and I don’t have any trouble with puckering. It works for me because I am just too lazy to add the basting step when you just clip out those threads anyway. 

My first block...

And my last one...

My little tin seems so lonely!

My initial thought was to quilt for just 15 minutes a day and make it last for another 365 days, but I like it so much I may end up finishing it sooner. I used a vintage feedsack backing that I found at a flea market and I washed it and used it “as is” with a few little stains and all. It is after all part of its charm!

Audrey (Quilty Folk) is still linking up, so do check out all the great quilts (here).

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Over the River and Through the Woods

To my sister’s house we go! We will soon be on our way to a fabulous feast with family and friends. We are at 33 (and counting) this year. Our record was 42 back in 1982.

For nearly 40 years my family has been making the trek through rain, sleet and often snow to meet up at my oldest sister’s house in the western mountains of Maine. I will head up Wednesday night to help with preparations and then the masses arrive sometime before dinner on Thursday.

It is fun to see the ever so slight changes in this event over the years. We used to take the little ones to the Nutcracker the next day in Portland. Then in a flash the little ones grew up and went shopping in nearby North Conway on Black Friday. Now, that generation has little ones and we are all content to hike up the hill to view the snow on Mount Washington and come back for a nice hot coffee and piece of pie!

I am very thankful for my family and my friends old and new. Thanks to all of you for reading my blog and sharing your quilting life with all of us.

What are your Thanksgiving traditions? However you celebrate, I hope you have a very happy and thankful day.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I won this fantastic magazine from Karen Griska’s Selvage Blog give away. She even signed the block that she designed.

I highly recommend getting a copy for yourself. There are lots of wonderful blocks (uh, 100 in all, I think) designed by very talented people.

Enjoy your day!

Monday, November 14, 2016

SVBAQ Touch Me Not block

Well, this one was a doozie! As I was half way through the applique, I was really second guessing my decision to reduce these blocks from the original 19” to 10”. Look at all these little buds! I eliminated two – can you spot which ones? 

I didn’t think so. There is a red Touch Me Not block coming up, but there are not as many buds on that one. I think Esther made the pink one first and when she came to the red one she figured out it looked just fine with half the buds!

I love the back of this one too. Because I am doing this in the potholder method, all of my backs will be a different chintz type fabric. Fun!

If you read my Blog regularly you know I don’t use commercial patterns very often. They did a fantastic job reproducing these patterns. They really are a pleasure to do. And, the proceeds from the sale of this pattern goes to the Virginia Quilt Museum, so you just can’t go wrong! Hope you will go to the link (here) and see all the great blocks. There is so much creativity out there. You will be surprised at all the different fabrics, colors and methods that some are using to make their blocks. Just plain fun!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thank a Veteran Today!

When I was a little girl, on fair weather days, we visited our family cemetery on Sunday after church. My Dad would weed and water and take care of the graves of my grandparents, my brother, my uncles & aunts and dozens of relations and friends who passed long before I was born. It was a ritual I enjoyed (and still do when I am in my old home town).

So, the day my Dad told me he was to be buried (along with his brother) in the Veteran’s Cemetery in Augusta was the day I realized that his service to his country was the most important thing in his life.

I thank you Dad, Uncle Charlie and all the men and women who serve and have served this country. You are who make America great!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Bloggers are the best!

This 21st century pen pal thing we call a Blog is really tremendous. I have enjoyed so meeting (in writing) so many wonderful people in such a short period of time.

I have enjoyed participating in sew-a-longs and swaps. But sometimes Blog friends send you something just to make your day!

When Randy (Barrister’sBlock) came to visit Maine a few weeks ago she brought me this beautiful pin cushion. Look at those tiny pieces!  

When I mentioned to Janet (Rogue Quilter) that I loved homemade soap, she sent me some of her own. All I can say is mmmm… it smells so good and feels even better! 

 And, when Kevin (Kevin the Quilter) went to Houston last week he sent me this fabulous photo! Vanna could not have done it better! BTW you should check out Kevin's post of some of the sensational quilts he saw in Houston. There is a lot of talent in the quilt world today!

 So, just a big old “thank you” to all of you who read and comment on my Blog. I 
appreciate you all.

and here is another great photo of Teri and Kara (Telling Stories Through the Needles's Eye)

Thanks so much! I keep kicking myself for not going to Houston when I had a quilt there. But, I'm more sorry that I didn't get to meet some of my wonderful Blog friends in person. Next year for sure!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

My Little Quilty 365 tin is nearly empty

There are 360  4” blocks in the quilt. So, I have just one more block and then 5 additional little circles appliqued on top of larger circles to complete the top. 

I started on November 8, 2015 and I have appliqued one circle a day since then. They have become my daily vitamin. I have decided that when I have completed all 365 circles on Sunday, November 6, that I will piece the top together and baste it. It sounds like a big goal for one day, but my DH will be at a boat show in the Caribbean so I will have the entire living room floor to spread it out on. I’m not much of a baster, but I will secure the edges and away we go! I will quilt around one block each day until finished next November! I’ll post my progress until Audrey (Quilty Folk) decides she has had enough of the ”link up”!

I can't thank Audrey enough for the inspiration to keep moving along on this project. Check out Audrey's post (here) for all the wonderful little circles! What fun it has been!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Houston Sighting...

My No Bake Applique “potholder” quilt is wearing white after Labor Day! She is sporting a third place ribbon and I couldn’t be happier. My friend “Potholder” Pam Weeks (NEQM) took this photo for me. Woohoo!

                                     (I can't seem to orient it right side up)

Have been doing mostly Sloooooow hand stitching lately, but I did manage to put together two more tops over the weekend for our veterans. This one is made from blocks that were shared by Dar of (Dar's Patchwork Garden) and used with her gracious permission (actually encouraged by Dar - thanks!). I made this one less scrappy than I normally would have, but am making some more scrappy red, white and blue ones for the next go round.

This one is made from blocks from our members.

We have a few places that we send them. One is a homeless shelter for veterans in Maine. Somehow I just can’t say “homeless” and “veteran” in the same sentence without feeling shock and sadness. How can this be?