Friday, March 29, 2013

Lovely Year of Finishes: March is done!

As I stated in my previous Lovely Year of Finishes post, this top was pieced in 2008.  And now, I can finally exclaim that it is FINISHED!  woo hoo!!




Web page created!  

done, done, done, done!  :-)

I used a new-to-me thread, "Premium Select" by NanoFiber and is their Soft Antique line. It's a 40wt polyester but is finished to have a matte cotton look. So far, it's working nicely with my Lizzie, not only on this quilt but on subsequent quilts as well.

According to the time that I have to keep track of time, it took me about 9 hours spread over 3-1/2 days to do the quilting. 

Most of that time was doing all the stand along motifs in the scrappy triangles.  Each one of them required its own start and stop because I was using a thread that would have shown on the black if I had tried to sneak through.  Ugh.

I urge you to wander on over the the webpage created for this quilt.  Honest to goodness, there is more verbage and LOTS more pictures for you to look at.  :-)

Those pictures are just teasers! For all the gory details, links and more pictures, please visit my web page for the God's Eye quilt.

Friday, March 22, 2013

another donation quilt finished (almost)

After a quick start on this final donation quilt from the crate, I became distracted (oh look!  a dust mote!) by family photos and my on-going genealogy project.

But finally, I put my nose to the grindstone and finished the quilting today.  It doesn't have binding yet .. only because I don't think I have a good candidate for that.

This started out in 2011 as a mock-up for a Jane Austen quilt.  As such, I was more concerned about how to match up the diamonds across the sashing rather than making a "real" quilt.  So, I just kinda grabbed the fabric I had on hand that would do the job .. which was white sashing and muslin setting triangles.   Not exactly the most scintillating choices in the world.

But, the funny thing is .. the more I looked at it, the more I liked it.  :-)  So, I put some actual *thought* into finding border fabrics to bring it up to a useable size.  Then, it got put into the crate and waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Until now.  :-)   It's finally quilted .. oh, hooray! 

I didn't have enough batting in one piece to use, but I did have a bunch of smaller pieces.  So, I Frankensteined them together and it worked out rather well.

The backing is a lovely, soft, butter yellow flannel.  (I think this fabric contributed to some "issues".)

I loaded it on Lizzie and decided to stitch in the ditch around each and every diamond, as well as the perimeter of the white sashing.  I figured this would stabilize the entire top.  Then I'd stitch in the ditch around the inner border.  And as I advanced the quilt, I stitched down the outer raw edge to secure them, as I always do.

My thinking was that when I got to the end of the top and stitched the bottom edge, I could then release that rail and only have one layer to work with.  I could roll that one layer back and forth to get the rest of the quilting done.

I *KNOW* that I've read of others using this technique.  I'm almost sure that I've done it before.  But this time?  Problems. 

The upper half was no problem ... everything was tensioned nicely and the stitch in the ditch was progressing well.  However, once I got to the bottom half, I realized that the top was unduly "poofing up".  What the heck??  It took me some effort to quilt that without it looking ugly.

It wasn't until I had advanced the quilted part on the take-up rail that I saw there was a horrendous, ginormous horizontal tuck in the backing.  Oh. My. Gosh.  Just let me thunk my head on the wall. Repeatedly.  But other than that tuck, the quilting from the back looks pretty nice!

I have absolutely no frickin' idea how that tuck got there, much less the "poofiness" in the top.  The tuck *is* quilted down rather nicely  but ::sigh::  it's still there.  Yuck.  Dang .. and it seemed to be going quite well.  :-(

I quilted a feathered wreath with curved cross-hatching basketweave in the center.   I saw a picture of a very similar design somewhere/someplace.  Their version was nicer than mine.  :-)  I obviously need more practice on this curved cross-hatching *and* basketweave thing.

All the stitch in the ditch made the white sashing puff up very nicely .. I really do like the effect.

The striped border got widely spaced straight lines that disappear into the printed stripes.  I really hadn't a clue what to do on this fabric.  In retrospect, perhaps I should have continued the diagonal lines from the white sashing, but I wasn't sure how the diagonal quilting lines would look against the striped fabric. 

I put feathers in the setting triangles and feathers in the outer border.  Because the border fabric is a print, you can't see the feathers too well, but by this point, this was really the easiest thing I could think of doing to finish the quilt. 

Once I find some binding fabric, I'll get the label & the binding on and pop it into the washer/dryer.

Then all the donation quilts that I've been holding onto will be given to the Bay Area Crisis Nursery, which is a local one-up charitable organization that I like to support.  When they're gone, that will open a nice, big area in my sewing room.    Current status to the contrary, I really *do* like limiting the visual clutter.  (go ahead and chuckle .. y'all know what I mean!)

Monday, March 18, 2013

the ugly quilt

Well, I think the most positive thing I can say about this child-sized quilt is that it is finished.  Otherwise, I must admit that it must be the ugliest quilt I've ever done.

It wasn't intentional, though.  I'm not even sure when I made the blocks.  I think I was fooling around with strip sets and kaleidoscope/wedge rulers just to see what they were like.

Because you really can't do too much with an octagon shape until you square it up .. oh, wait, you COULD just butt them up against each other like you do with hexagons, but that would have created an ever uglier quilt, if that could possibly be imagined.   So, I squared up each block with a solid and used those same solids for sashing.

I know I picked the rust and brown fabrics simply because I had enough of them in the stash and they didn't look *terrible* with the string blocks.  Is that an awful way to pick fabrics or what? But, again, it wasn't intentional. 

Generally speaking, I like to use the test blocks and the 'fooling around' blocks that I make.  These blocks were of a good enough size that I could actually make a reasonable sized quilt with them.  I know I would have had horrible pangs of guilt had I just thrown them out, although on second thought, maybe I should have cut them down to make veterinarian cage liners ... the animals certainly wouldn't have minded.

But, I didn't make cage liners, so a child-sized quilt it is.  It'll keep some child warm and that counts for something, right?  Can you tell I'm desperately trying to find a silver lining?

I did a lot of free motion quilting on this one.  I probably should have done a pantograph, but pantograph work with my Lizzie is awkward due to the physical place I needed to put her.  So, I tend to avoid pantographs.

In retrospect, I think I just made this entire quilt with the wrong approach.  I'm not terribly pleased with it, although I *am* pleased that the top is quilted, labeled and bound.  It'll be out of my house pretty soon, which clears up some space.

This just shows you that my quilts don't always come out eye-pleasing and I do make errors in judgement .... although not usually all in the same quilt!  :-)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Google Reader ... :-(

You've read elsewhere that as of July 2013, Google Reader is going away.  Apparently it's not pulling its weight, as other Google applications do.  ::sigh::

It works.  It works well.  It does what I want it to do.  Perhaps it's because of people like me who only need a desktop computer Reader?   (I don't have a smartphone, so I obviously don't need a mobile app for that).

But, even if Reader doesn't make any money for Google, why not just let it *stay* as-is?  Don't do any more updates.  Assign one programmer to handle the situations that break Reader, otherwise, just leave it be!   It can happily sit in the background of Google and let people use it.  Let it be a deprecated product.  As long as it still works, users will be happy.

Heck,  I'm such a stick-in-the-mud that my email program has been deprecated for *years*.  I started, years and years and years ago, with Eudora.  I like Eudora. It does everything that I want it to do for a email program.  I'm used to the way it looks and works.  Qualcomm got rid of it years ago and Corel doesn't support it any longer.  But ya know what?  I don't care.  *IT STILL WORKS*.  And so, I continue to use Eudora as my emailer.

 But, except for death and taxes, all things change.  If Google is going to yank Reader, I'll need to find a replacement.  I've looked at the suggestions for an alternative.   There have been many blogs with such suggestions .... just Google for them.

Many of the replacements that I've seen focus on mobile apps.  That doesn't interest me.  What I want is something that gives me the look-and-feel of Reader so that I don't have to jump through a whole bunch of new hoops to figure out how to read my blogs.  And I definitely don't need a touch-screen appearance ... gah!  that would drive me nuts!

Enter "The Old Reader".   The following description is from a Life Hacker blog entry by Alan Henry:
The Old Reader may be in beta, but it was built to be a suitable replacement for Google Reader. And not just Google Reader as we know it now, the old Google Reader, that still had plenty of tools for sharing and organization. You can log in via Google or Facebook, and import your feeds from Google Reader or any other service via OPML. If the interface looks familiar, it should: it looks a lot like Google Reader, complete with folders down the left side, your list of stories in the main pane (click any to read), and one-click subscription to new feeds. You get many of the same keyboard shortcuts, and even get the same ability to follow other Old Reader users and share interesting stories with them—the way you used to be able to with Google Reader. The Old Reader is fast, free, and super simple to use. There are no mobile apps yet, but the web site works well on mobile devices, and the developers behind it note they're working on it. There are, however, Chrome and Safari extensions for it.
Hear that???   It has the same look-and-feel as Reader!   Oh, be still, my beating heart!   Truthfully, I never knew there was a Google Reader appearance before the one I'm currently using.  Or maybe the Google Reader I'm using *IS* the old format.  Who cares?  All I know is that The Old Reader is familiar enough for me to feel immediately comfortable.

Apparently 18,776 other people feel the same way because that's how many are in front of me in the import queue.  I have no idea how many users there are, currently.   The Old Reader people said that their user base increased 7 times at once, so understandably, they are having "just a bit" of an import log jam.  They are very good about keeping users apprised of the situation, so we won't think that our import file has become lost in cyberspace.

Not to worry, Google Reader is good until July.  By that time, The Old Reader will have worked out the queue length; I'm happy to wait.  If I find new blogs between now and then, I can individually add them, just like I currently do with Reader.  When my import file is processed, those individually added blogs  will not be clobbered.

So, I think I've found my replacement.  As much as I really, really, really dislike changing computer components, this one is looking pretty good.

It was National Quilting Day

.. which was yesterday, of course, but I never quite got around to writing a blog entry about it on time.  Story of my life, ya know?

However, I was busy!  Quilting, no less!  When I was excavating my sewing room recently, I came across a long-buried crate that contained 5 quilt tops that were tagged to be given to a local charity that I like to support, the Bay Area Crisis Nursery.

These tops have been ... ::ahem::  "aging" for quite some time.  I decided that it was time I got them quilted.   This would not only allow the Crisis Nursery to have more quilts to give to their charges, but it would free up a crate in my sewing room!  

The top that I actually DID quilt on National Quilting Day was (.. of course ...) finished rather late at night so that there was absolutely NO decent lighting to take a picture.  Y'all will need to wait until tomorrow (or later) to see that particular quilt.

I have 3 of the tops to share with you right now.  One nice thing about all these child's quilts is that, being so small, they do quilt up VERY fast.  It's certainly instant gratification for me!  :-)

Back in January 2012, I participated in a quilt along, called Oh My Stars! 

I made many more star blocks than I needed for the project quilt, so that I was able to create a bonus baby quilt. 

Because I just wanted to get these tops quilted and not spend a whole lot of time devoted to intricate quilting, I actually used a pantograph for this quilt. 

I usually don't do pantographs very often.  The physical constraints of the layout where I have my Lizzie make for a very cramped area.  It's awkward to work in, so I tend not to want to do pantographs so much. 

 This quilt, and the one after, were created from some very unusual yardage.  Back in 2010, I found fabric that had rows of quilt blocks printed from selvage to selvage, rather like a pre-printed row robin.  It was called "Borders and More".  The intent was that you would cut the rows apart and use them as instant borders for centers that you piece yourself.  It was an intriguing idea, so I bought some yardage (I don't remember how much). 

But as time went by, I realized that I was just never going to use the fabric as it was intended.  Instead, I simply used it as-is. 

For the first quilt, I cut off a chunk of the yardage and quilted it, using the edges of the printed blocks as pseudo-seams.  What you see in the picture to the right is exactly what the yardage looked like, right off the bolt, except that .. trust me ... the quilt in the picture at right really IS quilted!

I did "stitch in the ditch" in all the pseudo-seams.  It really wasn't as difficult as you might think ... there weren't any real seams to be concerned with.  I used black thread, which disappeared into the black background, so if my stitch in the ditch was exactly gnat's eyelash perfect, it really wasn't noticeable.

However, this does mean that you can't really SEE any of the quilting at all from the front!   For this quilt, and the next one, I just wanted to get it quilted and wasn't terribly concerned about fancy stitching.  The printed rows were nifty enough; I felt that overt quilting would be a distraction.



The second quilt made from this yardage had a different treatment: because the leftover yardage wasn't large enough to be a quilt on its own; I needed to stretch it with a very wide border. 

I found enough of the purple fabric in my stash for the border.  Although there is no purple in the print yardage itself, I think the border works surprisingly well.  :-)

As with the first border print quilt, I also did a stitch in the ditch along all the pseudo seams.  I quilted an embellished meander in the purple fabric; a double loop-de-loop.

All of these quilts are small .. about 45" x 60" or so.  They are intended for the younger kids that the Crisis Nursery cares for.

I haven't made webpages for these quilts yet, so I can't *quite* count them as 'done'.  And because there are no webpages, there aren't any up-close, detailed pictures nor any of the typical gory details that I usually provide.  All of *those* items will be on the webpages!  You'll just need to wait.  :-)

The main reason for posting the pictures now was to prove that I am still alive and kicking!

Friday, March 01, 2013

Lovely Year of Finishes: March project

Looking at my List of 17 Tops to be Quilted, I have pulled out one of the big ones, the God's Eye top.

This was an attempt at scrap management back in 2008, when I pieced it.  I assume that I went through more than one messload of scraps because not only are there (48) 10" God's Eye blocks but there is a bargello-type border. 

I wasn't paying too much attention to the overall size when I made the top because it finishes with really weird dimensions: at 80"x100", it's either an overly long double or a slightly too-narrow queen.  It'll take a queen size batt, though.

So, the goal for March is to get this thing quilted, labeled, bound, laundered and the webpage created.

I'm anticipating the wonderful feeling of being able to cross another entry off the List.  :-)