Mission Complete!

Finished Quilt

Finished Quilt

I took an extended break from the blog. The last half of 2014 was extremely busy and stressful. It was full of loss (three extended family members and my beloved Shadow, the cat) and medical issues (my shoulder has become more of an issue) but the new year was full of good news and new starts. Engagements and pets got the year off on a happy note.

Through it all I worked on my lovely quilt. It kept me busy and was a source of comfort. In April, I finally completed the last of the big stitch quilting and the binding. Our two new cats made it a challenge as they take their job as quilt inspectors so seriously they want to check each pin and bit of thread – by testing the strength through play. I had to get creative about keeping the cats from my hand work.

So… here is the finished project. Ta da…

Quilt passes inspection by Xander and Anya

Quilt passes inspection by Xander and Anya

I am entering this quilt in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival : Spring 2015 on Amy’s Creative Side’s blog. Please check out her blog and the links to the other quilts being entered. There are really lovely pieces of art shown. Very inspiring. http://amyscreativeside.com/blog

Thank you for your interest in my adventure. The rest of the year is full of pre-wedding events (two family members recently became engaged), trying to get my shoulder in a better condition – and – wait for it – the NEW quilt in progress. I will dish on the new project in my next post. For today, I want the attention to be on my wonky work of comfort. I love how it came out and I am sold on (1) wonky quits (2) big stitch quilting and (3) modern quilt patterns – the low value fabrics really added a lot to this quilt. I hope you like my piece. I love it.

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Stitching – Day by Day

Official Inspection by Shadow

Official Inspection by Shadow

I have been plugging away on the hand quilting and enjoying every moment. I am able to sit in my chair with a pillow on top of the computer table (laptop stashed away) and the quilt draped on top. The system is working really well.

Getting everything set up for the day's quilting.

Getting everything set up for the day’s quilting.

Quilt is set. Grab the coffee and start stitching!

Quilt is set. Grab the coffee and start stitching!

Big Stitch Quilting and Feline Jealousy

Feeling unsure of where to start? In the middle and work outward, I was told. Fair enough.

I followed Pepper Cory’s DVD class suggestion to place a pillow across my lap/edge of the table to rest my underneath hand/wrist. The hoop went on top and my left hand handles the needle from the top – because, of course, I am a leftie. I’m not just “left handed” – my left SIDE of my body is dominant. There is no faking it. So I set my stitches from left to right and everything seems to work properly.

The stitching isn’t going to earn any awards but I’m happy with it and I really love the process.

The supplies: The quilt top and backing fabric is all 100% cotton. The batting is Hobbs Tuscany Wool.  I  purchased the big stitch needle package, the Presencia Perle Cotton No.8 thread and a Hand Quilting DVD by Pepper Cory at  http://www.handquiltingsupplies.com/

If you have never tried it, I encourage you to start with big stitch quilting. I’m loving the process which is the whole point.

My cat, however, is NOT loving it. There is no room for her to sit on my lap when the pillow, quilt and hoop is in place. I feel that she is looking daggers at the quilt and hope she doesn’t decide to chew an edge or something.

Small beginning

Small beginnings

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Close up of the stitching! Squeeeeeeeee!

Close up of the stitching! Squeeeeeeeee!

 

Layered and In the Hoop!

Layered the quilt sandwich this afternoon as I listened to the beginning of Pepper Cory’s hand quilting DVD. I used basting pins and trimmed away the excess fabric and batting. Then, of course, I learned on the DVD that I should have left more of the excess batting and backing attached. SIGH.

The good news is the quilt sandwich is now in the hoop and tomorrow I will get started. Very excited.

In the hoop

In the hoop

Victory! Quilt Top Complete

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I seriously had the best time making this one. I am completely sold on the Wonky idea.

The plan is to use big stitch quilting on this one. Updates and photos of the big stitch quilting journey will be posted. The backing fabric is scheduled to be delivered on Thursday so while my other materials are lined up and ready to go, everything is in a holding pattern.

My shoulder has made fantastic progress so hopefully layering the quilt will not be extra difficult.

 

Repeat After Me: Wonky is Good

Finally got the center piece, the Modern Medalion, done on the current quilt. The beauty of this pattern is that it is intentionally wonky, so that when you are unintentionally wonky, you can pass it off and smile. I’m smiling.

The colors are pretty and next up is the Plain Jane border and then some drunken geese. I INTEND my drunken geese to be quite confused in their formation. A couple other quilts in our quilt along have done fantastic examples of that – geese going in different directions, off center, etc… It looks fantastic so I want to do something similar.

Wish me luck as I continue my journey!

Centerpiece

Centerpiece

Getting Started on My Modern Medallion in the Quilt Along

After a few delays, I have finished 1/4 of the center piece for the quilt I have just begun. This promises to be a learning experience but a fun journey.

Information on the Quilt Along is available on the Two Little Aussie Birds blog.

I am using quilters muslin for hand piecing this section, as recommended by the quilt pattern designer. It is working great – any inaccuracies are absolutely on the part of the quilter, not the materials. I have made a slight mistake on one side there – you will notice it right away. As Tim Gunn recommends, I will make it work. The colors are a bit new for me, trying something different. There are a number of “low volume” fabrics incorporated into the design, as suggested by the quilt designer. Definitely going out on a limb with this one but I think it will pay off.

I will keep the blog updated on my progress. I am not going to give a tutorial on my “method” as I am in the acute learning phase myself here. 🙂

Here it begins:

1/4 of Center Block

New Project Planning: Modern Medallion Quilt Pattern

I had a quilt in mind for my first hand quilting attempt. Then I caught sight of a quilt that I instantly fell in love with and have to do. A group on Facebook is doing the quilt pattern together, which is a new way of work for me and promises to be great fun. Here is the pattern: http://twolittleaussiebirds.bigcartel.com/product/modern-medallion-quilt-pattern

Originally I was going to pull from my stash but after consulting with my husband on colors (the quilt is intended for our family room), I found myself ordering fabric online. Now the waiting game: where in the world is my quilting fabric? No worries, it will be here soon. The quilt designer recommended that a certain amount of the fabrics use be low volume. That is a little unusual for me, which led to the Internet searches for low volume fabric.

As I wait for the fabric to magically appear on my doorstep, I will go back to planning the next quilt – the concept is a “people, places and things we love.”

I will keep the blog updated as I go along.

Heading into the Home Stretch on quilt “Boxes in Gray and Blue”

Great progress has been made on the graduation quilt I am finishing up this week. Just in time! The recipient graduated from High School last week!

After finishing the quilt top, I layered the quilt with the extra wide backing fabric and wool batting. Amazingly, I was able to layer it on the living room floor and pin the binding. The binding is simple: I folded over the backing fabric, pinned and then sewed it down . I have not been able to get down on the ground long enough to pin a quilt for a few years. I had a double fusion in the lumbar area of my spine and it has made sitting on the ground nearly impossible.  This time I just wanted to try it again so I layered it, rested for a bit, then pinned one side, rested, etc… I repeated the process until the binding was pinned all the way around.

On my wish list is some sort of table that is about the size of a queen size bed that could be folded away somehow when not being used. I keep looking at used tennis tables and wondering if I could create a table cover and use that… In the meantime, it was awesome that I was able to pin on the floor. I have used other methods but this is the easiest way I have found to get out all the annoying wrinkles in the various layers.

Today I begin the process of sewing buttons in order to “quilt” the project. My next project will be hand quilted but this one needs to be finished ASAP. Also, since it is a gift, I don’t want it to be my first hand quilting project anyway.

Here is the current state of the quilt. The next photo I share will be when it has been button quilted and laundered to remove stray threads and cat fur.

Image

Remembering My Sister in the Hand Piecing of a Quilt Top

The steroid shot appears to be working wonders on the tendinitis in my shoulder. While I still have pain, it is muted from just a couple days ago and I am able to hand sew again without worry.

2014 Graduation Quilt in Blues and Greys

2014 Graduation Quilt in Blues and Grays

I began this quilt with pre-cut 2 1/2″ wide strips. I began sewing the strips together as I sat at my sister’s sick bed last March. When I returned home, I put this aside so that I could finish the quilt I was working on for one of my daughters.  (See the last posting for a look at that quilt.)

I finally returned to this quilt top and began putting the lengths of strips I had sewn together. Another break to go back to my sister’s bedside – in the hospital this time. She passed away a couple of weeks ago. Our younger sister, a wonderfully talented hand and machine quilter, took some of our older sister’s dresses when we said goodbye and headed to our separate homes. I look forward to seeing the quilt she makes from the dresses.

I had the opportunity to take some of the dresses, too, but I decided not to. I don’t think of her wearing the loose house dresses she wore in recent years, confined to a wheelchair and later her bed. I think of the beautiful tailored shirts and skirts, the vibrant jewel toned dresses, the crispness of the cuffs… the clothes I grew up with her wearing. She was 14 years older than I (different mothers) and I looked up to her professional, crisp, elegant look. None of those clothes remain to claim, of course, and they wouldn’t be great material for a quilt anyway.

When I returned home, I felt vaguely that finishing this quilt in progress was going to be a sad reminder of our loss: I was wrong. As I measure, pin and begin to hand sew the borders and pieces together, thoughts of conversations with my big sister drift through my mind. I think of things I’d like to phone her to laugh about together – the strange conversation with a stranger in Target, the stupid thing I read on the Internet today. There is a little sadness at the realization that the phone call will never again be made but the memories of past phone calls, of shared box wine and laughs sitting in her living room, the trip to Fiesta in Santa Barbara she and her mother took me on as a teenager, they warm my heart and my needle glides smoothly through the fabric.

My thread isn’t knotting as often as usual. My needle has remained sharp and shiny. I miss her but I am at peace: grateful that my sister’s MS can no longer torture her with its many pains and indignities. Today I sew the last length of dark grey/black border and finish the quilt top. Then it will be time to layer my quilt sandwich and begin the process of finishing my work. This is the last quilt I will button quilt before beginning my first real hand quilting project. I am glad the colors are soothing and comforting. The quilt is intended as a high school graduation gift. I hope the recipient finds it soothing after late nights studying at the University library in the fall.