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).