Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Look Who Came To Dinner

The Pirate household is in surburbia.  However, we do have a sizeable lot (nearly 1 acre) for suburbia and there is open space nearby.  Our own household animals currently include 3 cats and 20 chickens.  The cats stay away from the chickens. :-)

We have observed, at times, a random deer or two and a flock of turkeys (never around Thanksgiving time, though).   We also know that raccoons live "someplace" and possums are nearby also.

It was last night that Mr. Pirate whispered loudly for me to come to the back door, which leads out onto our deck.  There, enjoying the remains of the cat crunchies were Peter and Paul Possum.

You'll need to excuse the graininess of the photos; I was taking the pictures through the screen door.

The possum in the back is nose-deep in the cat crunchy container.

Possums are really, really homely animals.  They have that pointy rat face, a skinny rat tail and sparse hair.

In fact, their only endearing quality is that the (allegedly) will keel over 'dead' if frightened.

Don't think we didn't give that more than a passing thought, as we watched them through the screen door. :-)

The cat crunchies were nearly gone when Rocky Raccoon showed up.

Raccoons are cuter.  What's not to like about that cute little masked face and clever use of their paw/hands?

Despite what the picture shows, it was not the Peaceable Kingdom on the deck.

There was some 'scarey' noise and Rocky Raccoon was off like an shot.

Peter (or is that Paul? Dang, I can never remember who is who!) calmly remained to munch on the cat crunchies.

Not to worry, though.  After Peter (or was that Paul?) had finished his repast, Rocky returned for the remains of the remains.

Such is the nighttime excitement in the Pirate household. :-)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mary over at Making Scrap Quilts from Stash blog asked "can you take a good self portrait?" and I've seen other bloggers participate, so figured, why not?  :-   (which isn't quite as trivial as that sounds because I currently  do. not. like. pictures of me.  But what the heck .. it's only a thousand quilters who read this blog.  What's a bad picture between buddies? )

Rather than haul out my digital camera and do the 'MySpace' photo, I thought I'd try a snapshot with my webcam ... and here I am. 

Gotta love the reflection off the glasses.  :-)

I keep telling myself that those areas that look like highlighting on my hair is NOT gray but merely blonde.   If, perchance, they do happen to be gray, it's certainly because of Mr. Pirate's children.  :-)

Other than taking frivolous pictures, I've been doing ....

  • waiting for the shipment of Northcott's 'Stonehenge' fabric to arrive so I can finish my French Braid quilt
  • made a charity baby quilt top using a French Braid variant, called "Friendship Braid" from my own 2" noodles from my scrap basket.  Personally, I don't think there's hardly anything new under the sun, so I wasn't to surprised to see LOTS of web pages with free directions to the Friendship Braid.  However, the French Braid is very distinct and I haven't seen any free directions for that.  I would be very surprised if I did find any.
  • continuing to work on my current Forever Project, Beth Ferrier's "Moondance", a BOM from 2004.  Yeah, I'm kinda behind the times on that one.  My excuse rationale is that I was waiting for EXACTLY the perfect background fabric.  I knew what I wanted and waited until I found it.   Moondance has a bazillion flowers appliqued on it and I'm down to the last few.  Then, I need to applique the umpty-zillion dragonflies.  BUT, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel on this one!  I just made a strip set today of all the fabrics I used for the applique flowers and plan to turn that into a bias accent strip along the seamline between the quilt and the binding.
  • because the Pirate family is going to be going on vacation Very Soon, I am also prepping handwork to take along.  God Forbid that I should have no handwork to do!  I would be bored out of my mind and would quite possibly be forced to take a day trip to the nearest town that had a quilt store just to buy something to do.  Much better that I bring stuff from home. :-)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Two of these are not like the others ...

Houston, we have a problem.

So, other than all the French Braid strips being half-size (not to worry, they are only folded in half) ... does anything strike you as odd?

Did you notice that *2* of the strips don't have gray setting triangles?  If so, good eyes!  :-)

I wish I had your eyes.  :-)

It turns out that although *some* of the fabric used for this layout is suitable for FQs, some is not.  And even though the instructions do give directions for when you are using yardage vs FQs, Yours Truly obviously wasn't paying attention. 

It turned out that the setting triangles for the ends of each braid require (2) 7" squares cut in half diagonally, yielding 4 triangles (2 per end).  I had 1 FQ, which was only 18"x20".  I could cut (4) 7" squares ... enough triangles for 2 braids.  Somehow it didn't register that I needed *8* squares for the 4 braids.

That is, until I ran out of gray triangles.  THEN, I re-read the directions and ... duh.  ::thunk head on wall::

At that point, I re-read ALL the yardage and discovered that the FQs I had would NOT be enough for the sashing/columns between the French Braids.  Ooops.  (I also didn't have enough fabric for the final, outer border, but I knew *that* ahead of time, so I'm not giving myself demerits for that one.)

In my defense, as weak as that will be, the book prints the general, basic directions in the front and if the specific layout you are doing differs, the different directions are given at that page.  That means you are flipping back and forth between the pertinent pages in front and the specific pages for your layout.  I understand why they would do that ... no need to reprint the same directions for every layout ... but it *is* annoying.  And in my addled state, confusing. :-)

I called the two quilt stores that are really local to me, i.e. within comfortable driving distance.  One didn't carry Stonehenge at all.  The other one did.  Sadly, of the 3 fabrics I needed, they only carried 1 in the store .. the gray I needed for the setting triangles.  At least I can get the braid columns finished.

I also called the store that I originally bought my roll of FQs from, but since the Stonehenge line is quite extensive, no one store will carry every bolt .... and they didn't have yardage of the two remaining fabrics I needed.

I went online for the fabric I need to complete the sashing/columns.  Using, I was able to see which stores carried which colors.  The first store that had both the fabrics got my business.  I'll need to wait until at least next week before the fabric gets delivered.

In the mean time ... I will finish off the triangles for the remaining 2 braids and start on the sashing/columns with the fabric that I do have.

DO NOT EVEN mention the possibility that the dye lots could be different for the fabrics that are being mailed.  Don't go there.  :-)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What's on the design wall?

Well, not exactly the design *wall* but the design *floor* this time. 

Why?   I'm doing a French Braid quilt.  It's a column quilt and the French Braid column, when done, is all bias along its length.  I'm not comfortable with pinning it to my design wall (the real one!) until the sides of the French Braid have been stabilized with on-grain borders ... and it's not time to do that yet.

I'm using the roll of Northcott's "Stonehenge" FQs, which I bought last month and it was quite the puzzle to come up with a color scheme and layout using ONLY those FQs.  My version may not look quite as dramatic as those in the book, but I'm really trying to minimize any additional fabric purchases.

Why another pieced top when I know I have others ready to be quilted on Lizzie?  Simple ... I know those other tops can wait a little longer.  Ageing, as it were.  But, I got a bee in my bonnet to do SOMETHING with those Stonehenge FQs before I lost them in my sewing room.  Hence, I have put the quilting on hiatus in favor of working on my newest pieced top.

I think it's doggone pretty, so far.  I've gone somewhat astray, colorwise,  from what is suggested in the book, but I really do want to stick with the FQs that I have.  I'm thinking that I will need to buy yardage for the final borders and backing although I'm trying to keep the purchases to a minimum.

Monday, July 12, 2010

YACQ: Sawtooth Stars #1

Yep, this is Yet Another Charity Quilt. :-)

The Sawtooth Stars blocks came from a circa-2000 swap on the Quilting Forum when it was on Delphi (it since moved to  Sadly, the blocks from that swap varied in size; I think people didn't read the directions correctly because half of the blocks were 8" finished and half were 7-1/2" finished.   And, what's even sadder is that many of the star points were clipped.   :-(   I'm pretty sure that's one reason why I put all the blocks away .. there was really no way I could resurrect them.

Fast forward to 2010 ... I realized I could divide the stars into two groups.  One group made this quilt; the other group made another quilt.

I alternated the Star blocks with plain fabric blocks.  The pieced border is equilateral triangle blocks, made from the *neatest* ruler set that I bought YEARS ago and only recently rediscovered.  :-)

I quilted a swirly-curly design in the blue borders, a continuous curve in the equilateral triangles and a pantograph just in the middle.

Once again, I did the pantograph from the front of Lizzie and although I can't make as many passes from the front as from the back, I feel much more confident about where the design is going, *especially* since it is strictly in the middle section of the quilt.

Remember .. these blog pages are just a tease to whet your appetite and prompt you to see ALL the verbage, etc on my webpage. :-)

For all the gory details, links and more pictures, please visit my web page for the Stawtooth Star #1 quilt.

Yes, there actually IS a Sawtooth Star #2, but it hasn't been quilted yet. :-)

Be patient, young grasshopper.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

YACQ: 9-patch Trucks

Here's another charity quilt that has gotten finished.

Originally planned as a pieced backing for different top, when I rediscovered my fleece yardage, I used fleece as the backing and the former backing became a top. :-)

Lots of stuff going on during the creation of this quilt ... I've mentioned in another post how I stabilized the stretchy edge of the fleece so I could use it on my longarm, Lizzie.

I also put together an totally Rube Goldberg contraption so I could do the pantograph FROM THE FRONT (!!!) of Lizzie. I had to attach the laser to the front, as well as working out a panto shelf. It worked out surprisingly well, although there was a small snafu when I quilted the second border. :-)

The DETAILS of how I put this contraption together is on the web page ... link is below.

Pantograph quilting, free-motion ribbon meanders and template continuous curves were all used to quilt this quilt.

The very last remaining scraps of fabric were used to create a strip set so I could have diagonally striped bias binding.

There's lots of verbage ... uh ... substantially more than usual :-) .. and lots of pictures for visual interest.

For all the gory details and lots of pictures, please visit my web page for the 9-Patch Trucks quilt.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Fleece as backing

Occasionally, I like to use fleece yardage as backings for my quilts. Fleece is warm all by itself, so I don't need to use a batting at all. (Winters here in California are not sub-zero, so I have no need to make a super-warm quilt.) Fleece yardage is about 60" wide, which means the quilt can be almost that long and I only have to buy yardage to accommodate the width of the quilt. The fleece is so soft, cuddly and the quilt drapes very nicely when its quilted.

I pin my backings and tops to my leaders. It's a method that works well for me. When using fleece for backings, I like to pin the selvage edge to the leaders because there is no stretch along the selvage. The cut/raw edge of the fleece, which is stretchy, is kept taut by my side tensioners.

However, I recently had a situation where it was better to pin the cut/raw, stretchy edge to the leaders. This really isn't a good idea since the cut/raw edge of the fleece is VERY stretchy ... not what you want when attaching it to the leader.

I did figure out a good solution though ... I needed to stabilize that cut edge. Something that wouldn't stretch. Something that I had on hand. Something that I had a lot of. Something that I wouldn't mind sacrificing. And what would that be?? Muslin! :-)

I cut 1-1/2" wide, straight of grain strips of muslin, the full width of fabric, sewing them end to end to get the length I needed. This long strip was ironed in half, lengthwise ... as though I was making binding. The cut/raw edge of the fleece was then inserted into the folded muslin strip to be "bound" by top stitching with a long basting stitch. It didn't need to be pretty; it wasn't part of the quilt. I just needed the woven muslin strip to be attached to the stretchy fleece to prevent the fleece from stretching.

This "bound" edge was then pinned to my leaders. And, by golly, it worked wonderfully!   In the picture to the above, you see the muslin strip pinned to the leader.  The fleece is that teeny-tiny gold strip directly underneath the muslin strip.  The big, blue expanse is the border of the quilt.

If I wanted to .. or was so inclined to do so, I could remove all the basting stitches so I could re-use the muslin on the next fleece that needed it. On the other hand, the quilt needs to be squared up anyway and that edge will be waste .. so I could just toss it. Yes, I could be just that lazy. :-)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

YACQ: New Wave

Oh yeah ... Yet Another Charity Quilt!

I'm still working on the Freecycle fabric stash and will be for a while yet. This is the latest one I finished. The pattern, New Wave, is from blogland's "Oh! Fransson" blog by Elizabeth Hartman. It's a great new twist on the simple tumbler shape.

I tried some new free motion stuff: spirals and sea shells and feathers, oh my! :-) Some items worked and some didn't.

For all the gory details, links and more pictures, please visit my web page for the New Wave quilt.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Shhh! It's a secret pocket!

When you travel, you need a place to put valuables when you're not in your room.  Short of a safe on the premises,  hiding what you have is all you can do to safeguard them.

And that's where the Hanging Zipper Caddy from Carol A. Brown comes in!  If you read the information at that link, you'll find a PDF file for directions on how to make it.

Although my version has the same purple denim front and back, Carol shows how you can use different fabrics so that the backing fabric emulates a contrast binding on the sides.

Use different colored zippers and surprise fabrics to make the two pockets and your hanging caddy will turn out cuter than a bug's ear as well as being useful!

For all the gory details,  links to the embroidery design and more pictures, please visit my web page for the Hanging Zipper Caddy

Friday, July 02, 2010

I have *how* many tops lined up??

Now that Lizzie is back in fighting form, I've been busily quilting the crisis nursery quilts.  I've done 3 so far (blogged about previously) and just this morning went digging round my sewing studio for the other one.


It was actually MORE than "one" that I found.  There were 7, yeah count 'em SEVEN tops ready to go. It's a wide variety of sizes: toddler quilts, throw size, a *generous* throw and a twin.

Two of the tops have backings.  One of those backings is fleece, so that one won't require batting.

That still leaves 6 tops that I need to acquire batting for and 5 tops that need backings.

Rooting around for what else I can find .... oh geez ... TWO MORE TOPS.  One of them has a backing; both need batting.


Let's mosey on over to the room where Lizzie lives and see what I uncover there. 

Oh yeah .. the fleece yardage.  When Joann's has a sale on fleece, I buy a bunch with the idea of using them as backings.  Some times I simply bind them, do machine embroidery designs in a corner and use as-is ... but these 7 fleece yardage pieces can certainly be used as backings .. no batting required.  I'm not entirely certain that they coordinate with any of the tops I've done, so these might be backings in search of a top.

Returning to the sewing studio ... Geez, Louise!  More backings!  The rainbow is yardage but the 3 plaids are stadium blankets that a local drug store was selling for $2.50 each.  !!!!

You can't BUY that much fleece as yardage for only $2.50!  So, I rummaged around what was on the shelf and picked out the ones that looked more suitable for kid's quilts.  The other stadium blankets they had were much more somber and dull.

These are in search of a coordinating top.

Oh, and let's not forget the OTHER bed sized tops that I have previously finished but not quilted ... there's
  1. the Mardi Gras Mariner's compass from 2002. It's still a single big block with delusions of becoming a quilt.
  2. Wheel of Fortune from 2003. This doesn't count as a top cuz they are just blocks but I probably ought to include them anyway.
  3. Chiclets from 2006. This is a king size top. Oy.
  4. Ah! Real Monsters from 2007. This a double quilt. I think.
  5. God's Eye scrap quilt from 2008. Another BIG quilt
  6. A Stacked-and-Whacked Pirate from 2008. O.M.G. This is huger than huge; bigger than big. This one is the 800 lb gorilla that I'm ignoring.
  7. Faux Stained Glass wall hanging from 2008. I completely forgot about this one
  8. "Journey to Phoenix" from 2009. The top is done but no page to look at yet.
I'm not even counting the "kits" that I've created for myself that are complete with fabric & pattern.  Nor the fabric bought cuz I liked it but don't have patterns or idea.  Nor the patterns I've bought but no fabric.  Nor the sketchbook of ideas waiting for implementation.

I think I have a problem.  :-)

Anyone Out There have a similar problem?  Would you like to talk about it? [grin]

    Thursday, July 01, 2010

    YACQ: the Big Banana quilt :-)

    Another crisis nursery quilt has been quilted and finished from a top that was pieced a while ago!  I'm pleased to say that I'm whittling that pile down.  (I might even get to rediscovering the king-sized tops that I've been procrastinating over.)

    This one is made with Bear Claw blocks, alternating with plain fabric squares.  The sashing between the blocks has contrast squares at the intersections.  Everything is surrounded by the most awesome big banana print fabric!

    How can you NOT smile when looking at those big bananas?  :-)

    I did free motion quilting of flowers in the border, curly-swirlies in the sashing and used templates for a Baptist Fan in the Bear Claw blocks.

    I used the last remnant of a tie-dye fabric as part of the backing ... talk about flashbacks to the psychotic 60's! 

    For all the gory details, links and more verbage, please visit my web page for the Big Banana quilt.