Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How This Little Quilt Evolved

I've been working on the Dbl Fourpatch strippy. Once I found the perfect brown things came together really fast. Originally it was going to echo the look of the late 1800's. But it talked to me and told me something different.

I drafted it in EQ6 to plan borders and get an idea of the finished dimensions. It was at that point that a little voice asked- do I want yet another nap sized quilt? The plain borders brought the size to 63" x 76". I don't seem to make bed quilts. They just finish wherever. Well not this time!

I shopped six different stores to find the perfect brown; but while there I also found the perfect red. This is the new proposed layout. The last border is five inches. It finishes at a whopping 108" x 98". Oh my head... what am I thinking? But I'm pysched again and the juices are flowing. I haven't been this excited about making a quilt in a long time.

I've begun cutting the pieced border. Only fifty-five each of red and brown two and a half inch squares. Not as bad as I thought...

Velvet Laprobe

Finished the edge of this for my mom during Christmas vacation. She made the top and hand embroidered around all the patches. I guess she wasn't sure how to bind it and asked me if I'd mind doing it.

It's in the mail to Massachusetts this week. I hope she likes the finish.

The World is Not Left-Handed

My Grandmother was left-handed, my aunt and so am I. I didn’t know any difference until I went to school, age 5. But my scissoring wasn’t on the lines and my Christmas stars didn’t come out as nice as the others. I was thirty five before I got my first pair of true left handed scissors, not just right handed scissors with left handed handles. A light went on and I could *see* the line I was supposed to cut for the first time. So THIS is how it’s done!

When I was 15 I took Driver’s Ed. I’m left side dominate as well; eye, ear, hand and leg so I asked the trainer if there was a car with the gas pedal on the left. He just looked at me strangely and didn’t answer. Come to think of it, the ignition is on the right too. That stinks.

I figured out I was different, but I didn’t think it warranted much thought. As time went on though, I started to realize what it must be like to live as a minority. Turns out only 7% of the world’s population is left-handed. No wonder I was considered clumsy or backward when doing things, I wasn't part of the majority. Tools and environments are not made for left-handers; we have to approach the world, interpret what’s there and adapt.

After college I worked in a packing and shipping warehouse. I remember clearly the day the floor stockman said, “Hey, what are you doing with that box cutter? You’re going to slice somebody if you hold it like that! Here let me show you how to do it.” The box cutter was symetrical, but he wanted me to do it right handed. If I had, I *would’ve* sliced somebody.

As far back as I can remember I’ve been told I’m doing things backwards. There’s an implication there that I soundly refute; not backwards, just reversed. My dish drainer is on the right hand side of the sink, the point of my ironing board is on the left, if you want to cut a slice of bread after I've cut a piece, the cut end of the loaf will be on the left, not the right. If you think about it from my point of view, it just makes sense.

It turns out that research supports the idea that Lefties are more artistic and better at abstract thinking than right-handers. It may be because they have to analyze, decipher, accommodate and respond to a non left handed world. My second son is left handed and I’m grateful he had a Leftie to teach him life skills as a small boy. When you watch a Leftie child struggle to unscrew the lid of a peanut butter jar you’ll know what I’m talking about. – Lefty loose-y, righty tighty becomes your friend, though I didn’t learn that one until I was almost 40.

I’ve told the story so many times I believe it’s true, though I can’t remember for sure, but in grade school the teacher was trying to help the class learn their left hand from their right. “Your right hand is the one you write with, your left is the one that’s left over.” That’s very clever and would be useful for remembering… but you see the problem.

But you know… I wouldn’t trade my left handedness for any other attribute I possess. Sure there are those that don't want to sit next to me at the dinner table ‘cause I might bump them with my elbow, but Lefties hand sew and quilt from left to right and that makes us really useful at a quilting frame. I may not do things just the way you would, but I’m more ambidextrous in general because I’ve learned to adapt. I'm a creative problem solver and I tend to think outside the box.

Next time you see a southpaw juggling packages at the door of a building with a right-handed handle, please help her through and don’t assume she couldn’t manage because she’s clumsy. And just for fun, try brushing your teeth with your left hand tonight. I bet it’ll feel real different.

Left-handed Persons in the Presidency

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Just in Time for Next Year

I've admired this autumn leaves table runner for years. The first of November I found it again in an old magazine I got off the freebee table at guild. When I went to put the pattern in my notebook, I found I had two copies already! Okay, it's time to make it...

Worked on it during my family reunion over Thanksgiving. I had 8 people for almost 6 days - and I have a small house! But it was great to have needle in hand and still be around to talk and visit with the folks.

I love the colors - and the movement. I'll put it away until next year and be pleased to have it done and ready to go.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Isn't it Cute?

I should say up front that I don't do paper piecing. It not that I don't like the results... it's just way to *fussy*. I don't wanna have to think that hard. At the same time I adore Russian Sunflowers and Mariner's Compass patterns, what's a girl to do?

Isn't it cute? This star flower is 3" across. I love it! I have no clue what I'm going to do with it. But I just had to overcome my resistance to pp'ing long enough to make one. ~~ It took me an hour and a half!!

Mousepad Makeover

What do you do when your DS's laser mouse can't read on the holographic surface of the only mousepad you have in the house? You give the pad a make over!

It was Frank's idea. I ironed interfacing to the back of the fabric to stabilize it. Then we used spray photo adhesive to adhere it to the mouse pad. Trim and treat with Scotchguard and away you go!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The seam ripper fell off the shelf above my sewing table.

Now what are the odds of this happening?

Sunday, December 14, 2008


It was rainy today and the temperature never rose above 38. I decided to put my trip to Michael's on hold until my lunch hour tomorrow.

I made two batches of Spiced Walnuts, one with Splenda for my MIL who's diabetic. I'm happy to say that Splenda Blend actually behaves just like white sugar when candy making... I didn't know if it would.

Then I made a double batch of Chocolate-aroos - Imagine Rice Krispie treats with peanut butter stirred in, topped with melted chocolate chips. Yum!
Somewhere in there I had lunch. Then did three loads of dishes. Next I gift wrapped and shipped wrapped above said gifts. I always feel better when the packages to Washington and Oregon are in the mail!

Christmas carols played on the hi-fi until it was time to make dinner. Then I announced I needed something livelier! We put on El Chicano - which is a lot like Santana only with jazz overtones... despite the fatigue. After dinner I created two gift trays of cookies and candy for coworkers. Much sampling of cookies and candy were enjoyed. I'm ready for some down time.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Charm Doll Quilt

The house is full of east coast relatives, the activity level is three fold. But I'm still touching fabric. Hand binding a doll quilt in odd moments. This will be part of the Christmas toy drive held by my quilt guild each year. It's a Charm quilt with each fabric used once.

Click to see quilting

I loved how the double pink and purple borders punched it up.

Enjoy the holiday!

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 10, 2008

Vintage Nines - Alittle at a Time

Remember these circa 1910 blocks? You can read about 'em here and here.

Seems like I work on 'em a little every six or nine months. I'm making progress. I added the blue outline square to show the irregularity of the patches. Prim is one thing but this takes it to new heights. Was the quilter really young, really old or disinterested?

The colors from that century are so droll, but the combinations are amazing. The textures are so rich.

The original set the blocks with indigo blue, but I haven't decided yet...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fat Quarter Wash Day

'Member this eye candy stack I received at my birthday bash? It was time to bring it into the family, time to prewash.

I like to submerge my new fabric one at a time in a tub of hot water in the kitchen sink. I get to know 'em... it's my first chance to be with them. But I also get to see which fabrics bleed or are fully set. This stack of Hoffmann fat quarters did really well till I got to the reds, they ran pink. Makes it worth the effort somehow.

Lookin' like colorful nappies on the line.

Now they're washed and folded on the shelf ready to use. I know a lot of quilters don't want to bother with this step, they want to get right down to it... but I've had more than a few heartbreaks in my quilting with bad bleeds. And this is the nicest laundry I do!

Autumn Bliss

Friday, October 24, 2008

What Was Old is New Again

I like working in the original 1930's pastel palette of fabrics... much better than working with the reproductions. I surf e-bay for UFO blocks at a fair price. These were being offered for a song! Maybe you can see why:

The seam allowance was wonky, the plates didn't lay flat and the backgrounds were cut without attention to the grain of the fabric. I think I paid $4.50 plus shipping for 25 blocks.

The salmon background is a great classic color from that era but it completely drowned the soft prints set against it.

I frogged the plates from the background, the applique had been done with brown buttonhole twist and the stitches were 'toenail catchers'. I didn't feel guilting reworking these blocks. Once the plates were off the background I frogged the blades, pressed and recut them into a different shape. When I started appliqueing the plates I was so glad I chose pointed blades instead of rounded. It made the hand stitching a breeze.

It's been pick up work off and on for a few years, I have 17 out of 20 complete.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Classic Quilt Show '08

The LQG holds their annual show the same weekend our town has the annual Classic Car Show. It makes a good pairing. The men look at the cars and the women go to the conference center near by and look at quilts.

Casting Shadows - Linda McCallum

Mystery Quilt - Linda McCallum

I loved the piping and binding detail on this one, very fun!

Graduation gift - Dede Lediford

I know I've photographed this quilt at another show before. I just love how striking it is.

Lone Star - Kim Sechrest

Kim Sechrest

Traditional Sampler - Betty
This was almost king sized, hand quilted and on sale for $350.00!

Thimbleberries Sampler - Betty

This was a king too, also for sale at a low price. The applique-like blocks are pre-printed, but the patchwork blocks are pieced.

Home and Harvest - Barbara Little

This is felt applique', the contrast was stunning. I recognized it as a block of the month pattern in one of the quilt magazines. I'd considered doing some of the blocks but couldn't imagine taking on the whole quilt!

Manatee's Paradise - Sherry K

Each circle has a manatee cameo.

Marian Drain

It looks like I took a lot of orange-red quilt pictures. I must've had autumn colors in my mind that day. :cD

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Thank you for the comments on the blue quilt in the post - Heat Seeking. Here's a photo showing the whole quilt.

The year was 1992 and I'd been a quilter about nine years. I offered to make Frank a quilt for our anniversary and he was really interested. We talked it over and he said he really liked the Bear Paw pattern but had an idea he'd like to play with to try and make it his own. He was doing tile installation at the time and thought there ought to be a way to get the blocks to appear to visually flow from one to the other.

click to enlarge

This is a scan of his draft. Back then it was quad rule graph paper, colored pencils and a ruler. As you can see I calculated the number of each piece I'd need and from there, set to work.

The blocks set right next to each other and in order for the color to flow the way he wanted, I added more seams and pieced quarter square triangles - the old fashioned way, not speed pieced... and then had dozens of seams to try to match. I got about half the blocks pieced when I figured there was bound to be a better way. We call it BearChase because it looks a little like Bear's Paw and a little like Flying Geese.

Since this was an orignal design I've always thought it'd be fun to draft it out in detail and submit it to some quilt magazine for their consideration... but I just never got around to it. So finally 15 years later I decided to draft it in Electric Quilt to see what the simplification would be.

I started in EQ5 because I wanted calicos. But EQ5 doesn't have all the nice draw tools EQ6 has and I needed those for the border. I created it in 5, exported it, then opened it in 6, which brought in the fabrics I'd used. Once saved as an EQ6 file I added the borders.

Now I think I should make it again with the new piecing and updated colors. I don't think I've made many quilts twice, once made is once enough. But this has possibilities. I could forget the block piecing approach and sew it in rows.

And it's nice to know I really do learn as I go along!