Monday, September 28, 2015

Getting Back on Track

I was de-railed on a project over the weekend... but now I am back on track and I have moved on to a special quilt that I get the honor of making for a current Air Force Academy Cadet and will be including a shirt with all of the names of the "Class of 2017".  This is, by far, the coolest shirt I have ever had the privilege of including in a quilt!  

I've gotten all of the shirts trimmed down and backed with fusible interfacing but I am waiting for two more to arrive... hmmmm... what to do to next?

I dug out my collection of shirts that have been stored in a variety of places... some in the sewing room closet, some in the basement dresser... and I started trimming.  I started with approximately two drawers FULL of shirts (folded and packed in tightly)...  Here are the leftover scraps...

And here are the various collections...

I have Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avs, CU, Colorado Rockies, Denver Broncos, Trinidad State and...

an assortment of Chicago professional athletic teams.

I can think of several family members that might appreciate this quilt on a cold winter night while watching one of the games!

I also came across this in our personal collection of shirts from vacations and other various favorite shirts we just can't let go of...

A blast from the past!

But until I am ready to actually start each of these different quilts, you be can be sure that I will be shopping the second-hand and thrift shops for more shirts to be included.

Be sure to watch for them!

See what other quilters are talking about at:  Quilter Blogs

Friday, September 25, 2015

It's All In The Math...

I am designing a wall hanging that is to be an anniversary gift from a customer. In my previous post... Rested and Refreshed I shared my plan to include a smaller version of my Pieces of My Heart block that was included in Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, Vol. 8 in 2013.

I wanted the finished block to be a 9" block rather than a 12" block.  No problem... Simply reduce the cutting dimensions by 25%.  

Well, not quite.  My first attempt ended up not even square!

It is 8-1/4 x 9-1/4... What!?!?

Ok, so it is all in the math.  You have to take the finished size of the piece (not the cutting size) multiply it by 75% and then add 1/2" for seam allowances. **Sigh**

Attempt #2...

Much better!  So the solution is all in the math!

And as a bonus... Here is a sneak peek at my wedding ring block! 

It still needs to have some stitching on it to finish it, but I am pleased!

I'll be in my sewing room this weekend continuing work on this project... Happy weekend!

See what other quilters are doing on Quilter Blogs

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Rested and Refreshed!

It has been a good change... The deadline was met, the quilts delivered and then I took a few days off!

I have worked on a few small projects.  Bibs for stuffed animals with all the vital statistics for a baby - name, date of birth, weight and length...

They turned out super cute!  What do you think?

Oh, and I shortened some jeans for my Sweetie.  Yes, I do actually do something other than quilt!

I am preparing to begin a wall hanging that will be an anniversary gift.  It is really quite funny how this project came to be...

My husband is a gunsmith and working on a gun for a customer.  The customer had been looking on our web-site (Nolan Quality Customs).  On our home page there is a small button marked "Melva's Corner".  He inquired about getting a custom quilt... "I am giving your husband some business, so I figured I would get you busy too."

I received a rough sketch of what he was looking for... (aren't his artistic skills stellar?)

I will be piecing a few blocks, but I have a feeling there will be lots of applique. At least is only a wall hanging...  I'll be pulling out my Cricut and using some fancy die-cut letters for the writing.  

I am planning on using my Pieces of My Heart block to anchor the four corners (but in a 9" block rather than the original 12" block). And I think I will be creating some sort of intertwined rings block...

Stay tuned!  

Happy quilting!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Defining Moments in Life

So many times it takes a tragic event to put life into perspective... For the past several weeks I have been busy working on four very special quilts. Quilts that are in memory of a wonderful woman that was taken from this world at far too young of an age.  Tracy, who battled MS for years, lost her battle four years ago at just 38 years old.  She left behind a family that misses her terribly.  Her smile could light up a room.  And she was a fighter.

"Knock me down and I will get back up...
You do not have the power to dictate my life...
You will not be allowed to take my spirit because I will not give it to you...
My smile is more powerful than anything you have...
You will never tear me down...
just let me be..." 
Tracy Kay Weimer Valdez

These quilts are for her four daughters from their Mimi. 

Each quilt includes a photo block of their beautiful Mom

I was in the midst of finishing one of these quilts when we got a phone call telling us that the house owned by some special friends was on fire. We made a few phone calls urgently requesting prayer for them and headed over to support them.  

One simply feels helpless in such a situation... there really was nothing we could do to stop the fire or to assist the firefighters... All we could do was pray.  We prayed for the safety of the firefighters, we prayed that there would be minimal damage to the main level of the house, we prayed, and we prayed and then we prayed some more.

The attitude of the home owners was amazing.  They were grateful that they were out safely (with their little dog)...  grateful that they had the presence of mind to grab their fire safe that held all of their valuable papers and photo cds... grateful that the tenants that lived in the upper apartments were not home at the time and were safe.

As I watched the fire and as I watched them, I was impressed and astounded by their common sense and practical frame of mind.  I was impressed, too, by their faith.  They took care of business... and in the days following they continue to "take care of business".  They view the fire as a small "road block" and continue on walking with the Lord and trusting in Him to see what unfolds.

I'm not sure that I was quite so excited about the road block that we faced a few years ago when we chose to start Nolan Quality Customs, but I do recall that we were able to "just do the next right thing" while walking in faith.

Defining moments in life... the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job or the loss of personal property... there are many ways to respond. 

For the four young women that miss their Momma, I am sure there has not been a day that has gone by that they have not thought of her smile and her love... Now they will have a special keepsake that will wrap they in love and prayers and keep her close to them and to help them face any future road blocks they may face in faith.

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!


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.