Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Gem of a Treasure!

I have been quilting for 16+ years.  I love quilting!  I love the process of piecing and have even enjoyed a few projects that involved some hand applique.  But I always struggled when it came to the quilting part.

You know, the part that actually makes the quilt a "Quilt".  Being intimidated in the beginning, I started with just tying the quilts.  A primitive, yet functional way to finish the quilt. I would consider this type much more of a "Blanket" than a quilt, but that is just me.  There was still just as much love poured into those quilts as quilts that have fancy feathers all over them.

I then tried some "Quilt-As-You-Go" quilts which worked well, but I still desired the look of the quilting.

Then I moved on to some "all over" quilting.  Usually just a grid of squares on point or diamond lattice type thing.  I could do this on my 1985 domestic Kenmore fairly easily. 

However, getting straight lines to stay straight on a queen-sized quilt as you are squeezing all three layers of the quilt through the throat area of the machine was a challenge.  So, I would occasionally do wavy lines on purpose instead of straight lines.

Four years ago I got a Babylock machine with a larger throat area and the quilting was so much easier and smoother!  What a difference the 2-3 inches of extra space made!  That was when I ventured into some free-motion quilting.

Somewhere along the line I had "inherited" a collection of quilting books from someone's library.  I had skimmed through some of them, noting certain patterns that I would want to revisit.  But the other day I came across a book that addressed and filled in the blanks for the "Quilt as desired" suggestion that comes with most quilt patterns.

It is a treasure trove of information!  By far the best book that I have ever come across. 


It is by Harriet Hargrave and entitled "Heirloom Machine Quilting - A comprehensive Guide to Hand-Quilted Effects Using your Sewing Machine".

I have no idea why I ever passed over this book!  I have referred to it several times while quilting the individual blocks in my current project.  

I feel rejuvenated and excited to be practicing some new things and learning what works and what doesn't.  Someday I hope to be able to do a perfect feathered circle or fancier borders.  















But for now I am happy to be a work in progress and improving my loops and swirls and adding some longer straight line free-motion to add dimension to the blocks.


So, if you have struggled with the "Quilt As Desired" suggestion go get yourself this book!  

I need to go work on some loopy borders!  Happy Quilting!




Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Lyric - In the Animal Kingdom

I am slowly getting to know and become familiar with my new Baby Lock, the Lyric.  She is a sweet, smooth and super quiet machine!

Of course, in comparison to my backup machine that is all metal and almost clunky loud, but sews great, (and I have used for the past two months) it seems almost as though it makes no noise at all!

I started slowly on Monday with a few four patches and then moved on to adding borders to a few quilts including this sweet little "Animal Kingdom" quilt.  



This was given to me in a bag... most of the nine patches already assembled, but a different size than the animal blocks.  At the same time I had received a large bin of "logs" - 1-1/2" strips of varying sizes and colors.  I dug through them and picked out several that seemed to be a natural match.  I added these strips to just two sides of the blocks.


I added a few borders and then used the left over three-patch parts (that had not been assembled into 9-patch blocks) for the final border.


I am now ready to get this quilt onto my machine and try some free-motion quilting.  I am thinking that I will do an almost spikey pattern - like bamboo, or grass or something like that.  I'll have to see how it turns out.

Happy Quilting!

Melva





Friday, August 14, 2015

For the Love of Log Cabins

Thoughts on Log Cabin Love…

I started the project thinking it would only be a throw size in a furrow layout using blues and browns.  I think I had about 20 blocks done and on the design wall when I changed the layout… and the size!

I had recalled a conversation with my husband about the quilt on our bed and he asked “when are you going to make a new quilt for us?”  Now, how can you turn down such an opportunity?!? So I dug through some pictures and patterns of a quilt I had made a few years ago.


                     
So I started making more blocks… a lot more blocks!  I needed 108 in total.  So I dug through more scrap bins…


And I sewed and sewed and sewed!  I started to worry that I would not have enough brown scraps and a few of the other generous ladies from the Addicted To Scraps group offered to send some of theirs.  As it turned out, I was able to get all 108 blocks completed. 

Finally, I had enough blocks, got them on the design wall and started assembling the rows.







I soon had the top ready for quilting.  A few years ago I had picked up a package of king-sized 100% wool batting for about $10 from an on-line “swap shop”.  I decided that I would use it in this quilt and found it wonderful to work with!  I spray basted the quilt. 



My experience with spray basting in the past is that the needle gets gummed up and causes tension problems.  However, this time, I had no such problem.  I am not sure if it is because of the wool batting or because I let the quilt sandwich sit for a day before starting the quilting.

I was quite excited about the finished quilt.  It was too large to photograph on my design wall so outside we went.  I snapped a picture and then I saw it!



Two mis-placed blocks!  Ack!!!!  I tossed it aside in disappointment. But knew it had to be fixed.  



I pulled out the quilting and un-sewed the two blocks, rotated them and then hand stitched them back into place.




              
All that was left was to replace the quilting in the proper places.



  ALL BETTER!




Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Ups & Downs of the week...

It's been a pretty exciting week here with the Colorado Nolan's!

Up)  We started the week by celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary... Thank you, by the way for the many well wishes and congratulatory comments on facebook!

Wednesday was a really, really big day.  Some background... In April there was a film crew that had visited Dave's shop taping footage for a show on the Outdoor Channel, NRA All Access.  Last night was the prime-time debut of the show!  

Up) We had plans to watch the show with some friends (since the Outdoor Channel is not included in our satellite package). We were going to enjoy dinner and the show.  (It could have been considered a "matinee" given the time of the airing...)

I was "chilling" a bottle of wine in the freezer (don't forget this piece of info) and was prepared to begin our grilled pizza.  

Down) And then Dave got a phone call regarding a need for "emergency" testing of our local water system.  Ugh!  There go the plans!

Plan B was developed and all was good.

Up)  The emergency was taken care of, individual pizzas and salad were consumed and we were off to our friends' house.  We were thrilled with the final outcome of the show.

We then discussed the need to add a link on the NQC web-site to the trailer of the show featuring Dave & Nolan Quality Customs.  I sit down at the computer and quickly figure out how to make this happen (Up).  I begin the uploading of the updates, check to see if it was successful and get an error message. Ack!!! (Down... way down!  Frustrated to tears, down.)

After 45 minutes with tech support of our web-hosting company and zero success, I try one last time, expecting failure again... 

I was then interrupted by our friends dropping off their kitten to "kitty sit" for a few days.  When I checked back to see what the status of the uploading was, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was successful!  Woohoo!  Happy Dance! Happy Dance! (UP!!)

In the midst of all that computer techy stuff I stopped to make myself some lunch.  I open the freezer and see a wine bottle cork laying in the middle of the freezer... Ooops!  ((down)) Yep, I had forgotten the bottle of wine was "chilling" in the freezer before the emergency water interruption.  The bottle was frozen solid! Fortunately, there was no other mess for me to clean up. (Up)  

And, somewhere in the midst of this up and down week, we had received the call saying that my new sewing machine (Baby Lock Lyric) had arrived in the shop in Pueblo ((Up))

So, in the ups and down of the last few days things are up!  The show was successful, the web-site is updated and includes the video clip, despite the frustations. My new machine is in and I have seven quilt tops nearly ready for quilting!  

The latest two tops, MS Quilts


And the Broken Star Quilt is ready for final borders...
  

 After I fixed the pucker problem. You may recall that I had a similar problem with the center of the quilt... a problem caused by the inconsistent sizes of the pre-cut kit pieces.










I think I need to go celebrate... Anybody want to join me with a glass of wine?  It is nicely chilled! ;)

I hope that your week is blessed with more ups than downs,

Melva


Monday, August 10, 2015

30 Years!

Today marks 30 years of marriage for me and Dave. 



  • 946,684,800 seconds
  • 15,778,080 minutes
  • 262,968 hours
  • 10,957 days
  • 1565 weeks and 2 days

  • Thirty years on this journey called life together.  They have been filled with excitement, fun & adventure, tears, fears, love and laughter and I cannot thing of anyone else that I would choose to spend the past 10,957 days with and I look forward with anticipation to what another 10,957 days might hold for us.

    We have shared three addresses, 

    Algonquin, IL

    Carpentersville, IL

    Trinidad, CO
    We bravely purchased a house "sight-unseen"

    and spent hours and hours "sprucing" it up and making improvements.

     


    We raised two beautiful daughters, 



    welcomed a son-in-law and grand-son into our family 



    and just celebrated the first birthday of our grand-daughter.



    From the beginning... We were meant to be together...


    Through all of the ups and downs, 


    the good and the bad, 


    for rich or for poor,


    in sickness or in health...



    Where you go I will follow.

    I love you with all of my heart.

    Let's do this for at least another 30!


    Friday, August 7, 2015

    I Will Soon Be Singing Again!

    It took over a week to finally get a reasonable offer for the replacement of my Serenade.  It came down to the decision between the Symphony for an additional $1300 or a new model they are offering, to replace the Serenade model, The Lyric.  





    In comparing the specs of the Serenade and the Lyric they are very equal and I am quite satisfied with the offer.  I am grateful that my husband, Dave, was persistent with the sales rep and the shop manager to work out the deal.  He is my greatest supporter.  He even took a day away from the shop to drive me to Golden, CO for a brief lunch visit with Bonnie Hunter.  He is quite the man and I love him to pieces!

    So, the Addicted to Scraps column in the Quiltmaker publication is written by Bonnie Hunter and each month there is a new "scrap-busting" pattern featured.  Bonnie was in Golden this week for the filming of a tutorial series  featuring some of these blocks.  

    I had the opportunity to enjoy lunch with her, as well as several Quiltmaker Editors and staff members.  Bonnie is as genuine as they come.  If you have ever followed any of her blog or fb posts, or watched any of her QuiltCam videos, she is exactly like what you see there.  She is a fun gal; entertaining with her stories, curious about others and willing to share her tips and ideas and offers encouragement to everyone.

    Bonnie gave me a tour of the filming studio and discussed the necessary steps taken to prepare for such a video with completed steps, required equipment, etc.  She shared her quilt that featured the Idaho Square Dance block... alternated with log cabin blocks.  It was lovely! It was so well balanced it was almost difficult to pick out the log cabins.  We looked ate several other quilts  that had been sent in and marveled at the variety of styles and layouts.  Each one so unique and inspiring.



    As I readied to leave the office I paused to say thanks, offered a hand shake and got a hug.  It was a good day, Maynard.

    And on our way home we stopped in Pueblo, placed the order for the Lyric machine and I should be singing and quilting again very soon!

    Until then I will be getting borders on the Broken Star quilt so that it is ready to sandwich and then get sashing strips and borders on the two MS quilts for my friend.

    Happy Quilting!

    Melva


    Friday, July 31, 2015

    Feeling Frustrated...

    I miss my Baby Lock Serenade...  It went in for a tune-up/cleaning six weeks ago!  Turns out it needs some special part... that coupled with the fact that they have discontinued the Serenade model means that I am still waiting.  

    When we called on Monday to the inquire the status of the order of said part we were informed that it would likely be another six weeks!  A phone call to HQ soon followed..."This is unacceptable!" was the statement made by my husband to someone at Baby Lock.

    Phones started ringing and conversations started... Between us and the repair shop, and between the repair shop and HQ and the Sales Rep. They quickly wanted to correct the situation by offering me a new machine (Melody model) to replace my Serenade.  Sounded like a great deal! Until I started looking up the cost of the Melody... Turns out I can purchase the Melody for 60% less than what I paid for my Serenade 4 years ago!

    How is this fair?!?  I already passed over the Melody when I was machine shopping.  And since the problem is likely an issue with the mother board of the machine (yep, there is a chance that the part that is on back order is not really the solution at all) it is still under warranty and they MUST replace it.

    Ugh!  Feeling frustrated. Has anyone else had such serious issues with their Baby Lock machines?  The Serenade specifically?

    In the mean time, I have been busy in my studio creating 12 inch blocks... I have 27 out of 40 done and have a plan for a few more specific blocks... and then I will be hitting my block patterns digging a little deeper.  

    I also got the additional borders on one of the quilts that needed to be made larger.



    I chose to use some very special fabric from Indonesia that had been given to me on this very special MS quilt (the orange flowers and dark green leaves are a great complement to the original top) as well as the perfect orange batik style to accent the oranges used in the quilt.  I am thinking that a forest green binding will tie everything together just perfectly.

    All in all, it was a pretty good week!  Productive, despite the fact that I am sewing on my back up machine!  When I do get my machine back or get an upgrade I will be spending lots and lots of time quilting... Current count of tops ready? Three.  By the time we get the machine situation straightened out? Hopefully seven!

    Have a pleasant weekend!  And remember, let me know if you have had a bad experience with BL and how you resolved it.