Friday, February 20, 2015

Settling In

Unpacking is nearly complete and I'm finally able to spend a little time each day at the sewing machine and/or hand quilting once again.  The new sewing space is a lot smaller than my previous room, the closet for storing fabric about half the size of the old one, and to make it all so much cozier, my computer desk ended up being put in the sewing room since it didn't fit in the office area.  But, everything is workable so far, and I love this room for the great natural light we get from the south and west-facing windows.  
That table in the middle of the room is my all-purpose surface, for ironing, cutting, moving behind the Janome for FMQ, and currently spreading all the tax forms and receipts for the annual agony of tax prep.
I love looking at this little quilt remnant, so bright and cheery.
My view of the side yard.
I finished the additional hand quilting on the vintage 1980s(?) dresden plate quilt I picked up last year.    
I do love the great scalloped border the original quilter added to this quilt.
The batting is quite puffy so I chose not to do a lot of background quilting, but just outlined the elements of the dresden plates and bordered each of the blocks with straight line quilting along the seams.
I'll share progress on my campfire quilt next time.  It's great to be blogging again, even if only intermittently!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Biding our Time

It's been so long since I've posted, we'll see if I can still remember how to add some photos.  Thanks to the several brand new followers who added this blog despite the absence of any current posts!

We arrived safely in Western New York, to be greeted by the most gorgeous fall colors we'd seen in years, almost from the time we arrived in late September to this week.  Being retired is a wonderful thing when the weather is prime and you can drop everything and get out to enjoy scenery like this! 

Not so much this - taken about an hour ago ...
Thankfully the latest "color" in the landscape is melting about as quickly as it falls, though a couple hundred feet above us on the hillsides there are 2-3 inches sticking to the ground.  The local ski operations are smiling today!

We're currently 'biding our time' in a tiny townhouse apartment, most of the boxes remain packed and at least half the furniture is in the basement awaiting another move into our next home.  We found a small house on 15 acres near the Pennsylvania border, with a creek running through the property.   Lots of level land for gardens and a small orchard, and even a pond if we decide to add one.  Just about perfect in our list of desires for this new home.   Right now we are just waiting to close on the property, scheduled for mid-December.  We'll take our time moving everything there and will try to schedule trips between snowstorms! 

In the meantime, despite the lack of space I finally just had to unpack one sewing machine.  "Casey Jones" my favorite vintage Singer 301 is now doing duty stitching a huge batch of string blocks, about all I can accomplish right now, but should keep me busy for a couple weeks, at least. Without further ado, my current 'sewing room':
I've also been attempting a bit of hand quilting, mostly in the very early morning while DH is still asleep.  This is a vintage 1980-1990s(?) quilt I picked up awhile back in an online auction.  Though it was nicely hand quilted, there were huge gaps between quilting motifs and the quilt sagged when hung on a rack, so this is a nice easy project, filling in the blank areas with additional quilting.  The original quilter created a lovely scalloped border on this lap quilt, which I'll show you later when the quilting is completed.
So that, my friends, is our current status.  I hope to have some photos of the new sewing room in a few weeks after we've repainted it and moved everything in.  In the meantime, the holidays are fast approaching, there are grandchildren to play with and Christmas preparations to be started.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving if I don't get another chance to post before the holidays.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Last Finish in Oregon and taking a break from blogging

Yesterday I finished stitching down the binding on the light blue utility quilt I've been using for free motion quilting practice.  This top was acquired online from a contact in Ohio who purchased it at a Mennonite estate sale.  I think the fabrics in the top are 1980s or 1990s vintage.  The top was machine pieced and seemed perfect to accomplish some FMQ practice and have something useful to show for it.  Here is the complete finished quilt.  This one was very difficult to photograph, both inside and out on the deck, owing to the pale tiny calico prints and my general lack of expertise in the photography department!

The quilt was backed with a luscious French General print I found on sale recently, and I have to say that I almost prefer the back to the front!  The batting is Hobbs Tuscany 100% premium polyester, which is more dense and thicker than their polydown batting.  After using both, my personal preference is the polydown, although this quilt has a nice soft feel and great loft for the feather borders.
The feathers in the wide outer border were completely free-form, and much fun, although the tiny print calico made seeing where the backtracking needed to go more difficult.  I experimented with several colors of thread while doing the feathers, although the darker shades were more visible, I much preferred the lighter pastels.

The sale of our home is progressing well, and we will be going into full packing mode very shortly, so I'll be taking a break from blogging for the duration until we're settled again in western New York.  Finding a temporary rental property that will accept pets is proving more difficult than we had hoped, but I'm sure the right place will present itself when the time comes. 

One last photo with the big blue pot.
Blessings to you all this summer!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

On the Value of Soaking, and a Win!

Yesterday's mail brought this delightful fat quarter bundle of AMB Solids, courtesy of Clothworks!  AMB stands for American Made Brand cotton solid fabrics celebrating the Farm to Fabric Movement.  These gorgeous fabrics are completely created right here in the United States from domestically grown cotton!  They were featured in the recent AMB Blog Tour, and I was the lucky commenter on New Mexico's entry, created by Dora of Dora Quilts blog.  This particular bundle reminds me of the many hues of the skies and canyons of the American southwest.
Many thanks to Clothworks and to Dora for this bundle of gorgeous fabrics!

After posting the photos yesterday of the completed bow tie vintage quilt, I put it in the bathtub for a hot soak in a bubblebath of Biz and original blue Dawn.  I knew it needed a bath and had a few slight stains, but really ...
This is after a 2-hour soak:
And after 8 hours, even more soil had been released into the water:
After snapping the second photo, I drained the water and gave the quilt an overnight soak in clean cool water.  The initial soak appeared to have removed at least 90 percent of the worst stain.

This morning I moved the quilt to my front loading washer, ran a cold water rinse and spin cycle, then ran it through a complete wash cycle using the delicate setting and with only a small amount of liquid Biz.  Then into the dryer on low setting.  Although the photo probably won't show the vast difference from the photos in yesterday's post, I'm amazed at the snowy whiteness of the background and backing fabrics, and how all of the prints have brightened.  The stain mentioned above is only slightly visible now, if you know where to look for it.   And, it has crinkled up just the way a vintage quilt should.  Very pleased!

Monday, June 30, 2014

June Finish

My one and only June finish, and just under the wire at that.  Last binding stitches put in this morning, then out the door onto the deck we went for some photography on this fine and quite hot day.   Without further ado, here is the vintage bowtie quilt I found partially completed at a small local estate sale last summer.
The quilt finished at about 52x71 inches, large enough for a throw or to cover a young grandchild visiting at our next home in western New York State.  We have accepted an offer on our property here and pending closing date and a host of retirement date details, will be making our move about mid-September.  Current plans call for renting a small house for a few months while searching for an ideal retirement home.

Anyway, back to the quilt.  This was a bit difficult to hand quilt, owing to the very thick and dense poly batting the original quilter chose.  Equally tough hand stitching the binding owing to the closely woven slightly heavy plaid that I chose to blend with the vintage fabrics!  Broke one needle this morning while stitching one of the binding corners. 

Having worked on this quilt off and on for several months now, my thinking is that this was a first quilting project of a fairly young and inexperienced girl.  The hand pieced blocks are uneven and the stitch size varies quite a bit, and her set-in seams are often rounded or puckered.  Her quilting stitches often did not penetrate through to the backing muslin and she generally left the quilting thread hanging and unknotted.  I mended the worst of these areas but chose to leave the vast majority of the piecing just as she completed it, to reflect her efforts.  Since it is not intended for daily use and most of the fabrics appear fairly sturdy, it should be just fine (I hope!).

I really love the vintage 1940s and early 1950s fabrics used for most of the quilt top.  Many of them remind me of my mom's cotton housedresses and dad's pajamas.  A few of the great variety of fabrics found in this top:

Probably one of the last finishes to be photographed with this fabulous huge pot.  The buyers wrote the pot right into their contract offer!
The photoshoot over, the quilt is now happily soaking in a hot tub of Biz and Dawn, and hopefully 50 or so years of accumulated dust, dirt and a few small stains will soak out overnight and she can be fluffed and puffed tomorrow morning.

Wishing you all a happy and safe 4th of July weekend!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Some Progress

We've had several showery cool days and today is promising more of the same, so painting of the big front deck is put on hold until the weather dries up.  I was more than ready for a break, though we're looking forward to having this last big project completed, and the house sold.  We've had an encouraging number of showings in the past couple of weeks and some serious interest, so fingers-crossed that we'll soon be on to the next stage of this big life change.

I've been able to spend a few hours working on the free motion practice quilt mentioned in an earlier post a month or two back.  The nine central blocks are now completed, along with the inner border and sashings.  A few of the most recently completed blocks:

The 10 inch wide outer border is being devoted to freeform feather practice - my favorite kind of FMQ!  Up to this point I had used white thread to quilt the entire top, but the teeny tiny calico print of this outer border made this totally impractical - impossible to see my stitches to backtrack or even see where to head next.  So, after having to mark the outer borders of the first already completed feather with blue washout marker to avoid quilting over it, I pulled several colors of wildly contrasting colors, even a spool of variegated thread, and plan to finish by alternating colors of the feathers.  For the most part, I think this will work out ok since there are several other shades of pinks, greens and even light yellows in some of the other calicoes used in the top.  A section of the completed area, with the variegated thread.  I think the variegated will be used sparingly on the rest of the borders as the color changes are often occurring at the point where backtracking is needed, and looks a bit muddy.
Happily, my Janome is performing beautifully and the tension is staying even for the most part.  There are only a very few tiny dots of thread where the darker top thread shows through to the back on the feathers.  I'm really loving the backing fabric on this quilt.
So, that's our latest progress!  Wishing you a happy, sunny, quilt-filled week, and looking forward to seeing what you've been up to lately.