Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Two for the Road...and a Bump

I took two small sewing projects with me on vacation, along with Everett, otherwise known as the "O' Brother" machine.
Didn't actually sew as much as I'd imagined.  Some hotel rooms were better laid out for that kind of thing, logistically, and some evenings I simply opted to use the hotel treadmill or pool or watch a movie instead.
Nevertheless, I did get a few Quilty 365 circles done.  My orange stash is pretty much exhausted, as far as variety, so I'm going to have to repeat some fabrics or...something/insert creative idea finish out the month of October.

I also started piecing a quilt using an Aspen Frost layer cake won in the Hands2Help charity quilt project giveaway a few months back.
I finished up the piecing this week.  It was simple and straightforward, a free quilt pattern called Precious Gem, found HERE.  
Got it laid out on the design wall, things looked good, and started to sew the first rectangular pieces together yesterday.

One seam in, I noticed something was not right.
What in the world?  Why was there a good half-inch gap between my corner triangles?  Had I cut my corner pieces too small?  Was I supposed to trim the rectangles from the layer cake to a different size first?

I went back and reread the instructions.  Nope, I had followed them exactly.

*...mumbling and grumbling...will it matter?...maybe not...maybe so...ugh...*
Well, the only way to fix the gap and make the points match was to trim a half inch from the length of each rectangle.  I didn't like the idea of losing several inches in the overall size of the quilt by having to do that, but there didn't seem to be another option.  Other than live with the gap, I suppose, but the way I'd planned the piecing, using two different gray fabrics in the corners, was done to play up the diagonal part of the design.  If there's a gap, then is there a continuous diagonal at all?
So I'm resolved now to giving each piece a haircut before I sew them together.  I'm thankful I didn't sew half the quilt together before I noticed anything amiss.  And I'm still wondering how did  I miss something so seemingly (or seamingly) obvious—if it looks easy, why is it not?

Image source and free printable
Anyway, questions aside, time to grab the seam ripper (or rotary cutter) and carry on.  

How about you?  Hit any bumps in the road this week? 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday Sundry 10-16-16

We took a road trip the first week of October, which came about in part due to a shift in employment for me.  One of my part-time jobs was ending because the doctor was retiring, but before I ramped up my hours on my other job, Norm and I decided to hit the road.  
I'd never been out in the direction of Mount Rushmore, something I've always wanted to see, and it seemed a driveable distance, given our timeline, and a decent time of year to go.  So we headed west!

Some of the highlights were:   Badlands National Park...
Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial...
Devil's Tower, Wyoming...
The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs...
There were so many other interesting things to see.  I wanted to learn more about Native American culture, so we stopped at the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center  on the grounds of the St. Joseph Indian school at Chamberlain, South Dakota.  Fascinating history in the exhibits and information as we toured the museum.  
I found particularly interesting to read about the history of quilting among the Sioux culture.
After we left the museum, we paused to see the new 50-foot sculpture installed along I-90 near Chamberlain.  It's called "Dignity" and depicts a Native young woman receiving a star quilt.  According to sculptor Dale Lamphere, “Dignity represents the courage, perseverance and wisdom of the Lakota and Dakota culture in South Dakota. My hope is that the sculpture might serve as a symbol of respect and promise for the future."
It was 37 degrees and raining steadily when I hopped out and took this photo.  But it's a beautiful and inspiring piece, rain or shine.   

There were a couple stops at quilt shops along the way, notably Calico Hutch in Hayward, MN and Heartsong Quilts in Hot Springs, SD.  I could have spent hours (and more money) at both stores, they were fantastic!  As time was limited and we had to be moving on, I was happy to find out I could visit them anytime online.  
I did some stash replenishing between those two, as well as shopping the 50% off clearance fabric sale at Jo-Ann on Columbus Day when I got home.
I addressed my deficit of low volume fabrics in the stash, and I think I did okay.

The last hotel we stayed at on the way back, Microtel in Rochester, MN, had some interesting carpeting in the hallway.  
Quilt inspiration is everywhere!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday Sundry 9-25-16

It's been awhile since the last Sunday Sundry installment, a space for everything (but not everything in this space).  Let the randomness begin!

(Hunter's Star quilt finish, below)
Food, Glorious Food
As I write this, I'm eating some of last night's dessert, Paleo Rice Pudding.  So good!  Don't let the paleo tag put you off.  I look for paleo recipes because it usually means it's real food and the recipe is likely to be gluten-free and dairy-free and use a minimal amount of natural sweetener.

I've been on a winning streak with the recipes I'm finding on Pinterest and elsewhere lately.  As a side with dinner last night, I made Cumin Cooked Cabbage, and that was terrific as well.

This is not your mother's cooked cabbage.  Not my mother's, at any rate.

Funny how a person's tastes change through the years.  I have liked most every kind of food as far back as I can remember, with the exception of a handful of things, like salmon, cilantro, cooked cabbage, and German chocolate cake (the goopy frosting, specifically). 

(image source)
On about my sixth birthday, a sweltering August day in the '60s, I asked my mother what we were having for dinner that evening.  Cooked cabbage and German chocolate cake, was the answer (presumably among other things).  To which news I threw a small tantrum, pleading her to change menu plans.  "I HATE cooked cabbage and I HATE German chocolate cake!"  It was my birthday, after all, and I felt I deserved some say in the matter.

"I CAN'T eat BOTH of those things, they make me GAG!"  But Mom was not one to be swayed by the emotions of a kindergartner, and she brushed my petitions aside like so many pesky houseflies, shooing me back outside to play, or sulk, in the process.

Fast forward six hours and I am, in fact, bowing to the porcelain throne, my mother standing by with a cool washcloth.  "I TOLD you it'd make me sick," I moaned with beads of sweat on my forehead.  "You just caught a bug," she soothed.  I was not convinced.

As I got older and tried (and tried, and tried again) those "icky" things, I eventually came to love them all.  It was the way it was prepared, in the case of salmon, that I disliked.  That was in the form of salmon loaf, from canned salmon, that the school lunch served once a month or so.  Blarg!  I'd eat it, at least a couple repulsive bites—back then it was that or go hungry—but I detested it.

Then in my mid-20s, with my sister's endorsement, I tried a slab of fresh, wild-caught salmon—and really didn't mind it.  I was wary, so I can't say I liked it right off, but it was definitely tastier and better than the stuff I remembered from the cafeteria days.  So I tried it again...and again...and then I really liked it.  Now I could (and sometimes do) eat salmon twice a week.

Cooked cabbage?  Well, my mother cooked the daylights out of it, usually with a big ole ham hock, and by the time supper rolled around, it was gray, slimy, and bitter.  Cabbage doesn't need to boil for hours, it turns out.  A quick saute or steam is all it needs.  

Now cilantro is a different story, and that chapter wasn't rewritten until about five years ago.  That's when I noticed it was hiding in my "organic mixed greens" and consequently making the whole salad taste like soap.  But being the frugal person I am, I couldn't bring myself to dump a pricey bin of greens, and the stuff was too elusive to pick out of the mix, so I just put on my big girl bib and dug in.  By the next shopping trip, I'd forgotten about the sneaky cilantro and bought another big container of the mixed greens—and again chomped my way through it.  But you know what?  By the third time I made that mistake, I wasn't minding the cilantro.  In fact, my palate kind of looked forward to that zing of weirdness among otherwise snooze-worthy greens.  Soon, I was buying the stuff in bunches and adding it to recipes—somewhat to the chagrin of my husband, who is not yet a convert.

So taste buds (and minds) can change with exposure and openness to experience, I believe.  That said, I'm not going to be rustling up any Rocky Mountain oysters anytime soon.

Getting High (perspectively speaking)
The hubs and I went for a hike last weekend in a new-to-us state park.  I once again demonstrated how to get lost despite marked trails and a map in my back pocket.

The upside:  (1)  We found the observation tower, (2) It was a gorgeous day, and (3) Hiking in circles gets you twice (okay, maybe three times) as much exercise!

A Quilt Finish
I finished the Hunter's Star quilt this week.  It ended up about 56 inches square, a nice lap quilt size.

That funky backing makes me smile, and hopefully it will someone else too.

Got it all nicely packaged and donated.  

It will be among a number of other prizes raffled in an upcoming local event, where combat wounded veterans gather and go duck hunting together and enjoy a weekend of comradery.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Round in Circles

Reader Mary B. hinted for a refresher on how I'm making my Quilty 365 circles.  I'm glad she asked, and here it is.
I had seen this method in a couple other places.  I think the first time I saw it, the quilter was demonstrating making shapes for an orange peel quilt in this way.  I tried it out with a little sample block and it worked slick as a whistle.  Ditto on the circles.
You need a very lightweight, NON-fusible interfacing.  I've bought it twice at the local JoAnn store, and it was a little different each time, but both kinds worked.  It's not a woven fabric interfacing but the usual synthetic type, and the sheerest one (basically no stiffness).  If I knew the exact name of it, I'd tell you, but mine unfortunately didn't come with that flimsy printed plastic sheet that often accompanies interfacing off the bolt, so I don't have the details.  I'm guessing it's a Pellon product. 
Anyway, I trace my handy-dandy, homemade cardboard circle template onto the interfacing with a Frixion pen (marks disappear with heat).  I put a piece of paper underneath the interfacing because the interfacing is so sheer, the ink will transfer through to whatever's underneath it.  Leave space between the circles and trace as many as you feel like, and then rough-cut them apart between.  You don't have to be super fussy about that, just leave a good margin around the traced circles.

The circle template I'm using is just over 3 inches in diameter.  The neutral background fabric squares are 4.5 inches.

Take your scrap that you want to make into a circle and lay one of your traced circle interfacing pieces on top.  I usually pin it once in the center just to hold it together until I start stitching.
Then stitch around the circle right on the line you traced on the interfacing.  You'll probably want to sew slowly here, and I also used a pretty short stitch length, 1.8 on my machine.

Trim around the stitched circle leaving somewhat less than a 1/4-inch seam allowance, probably like 3/16 inch, but I never really measured.  You don't want/need a lot of bulk when you turn it, is the point.
Then carefully pinch the interfacing only, and snip a little slit in it so you can turn the circle right side out through the slit.  The lightweight interfacing is, well, lightweight; you'll want to be gentle as you turn it so you don't rip a bigger slit, which might then warp the shape of your circle.

At this point, I take a a chopstick or my Kwik Clip...and stick it through the slit, shaping and finger-pressing the circle all the way around.
Then I give it a quick press with the iron—use a lower heat setting than you usually do with cotton.  That synthetic stuff the interfacing is made out of does melt with higher heat.  Only had to wreck one circle to find that out.
Pin your circle to your background square, pick your favorite applique stitch, and sew it down.
Now if you want to reduce bulk in your block, you can flip your appliqued square over and carefully pinch the background fabric only in the center, snip a hole so you can fit the point of your scissors through, and then trim both the background fabric and the interfacing, leaving a 1/4 inch margin.

I think the pictures make more sense here than words.

So there you have it, how I do my Quilty 365 circles.  Everybody's got their favorite method for appliqueing circles and other things.  What's yours?
Finally, I'm sharing the song that's been in my head as I've been typing this whole deal.  Will It Go Round in Circles?  You bet!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Weekly Wrap

I'm making progress on a couple of things, kicking the can a little further down the road, as I like to think of it.

On the Quilty 365 circles, I've got last month's group finished up.  I delved from the limited yellows into the tans, which I had planned to be September's color of the month.  I'm just going to consider these August-September's circles, a little bit of both.  

I have scraps rounded up for the oranges of October.  We'll be taking a little road trip in the next month, and I plan to take along the batch of circles to work on, along with Everett, my "O' Brother" sewing machine, the lightest, most portable machine in the bunch.

Everett sure is good company.  I seem to be using the Brother to piece most quilts these days, and to sew and applique the Quilty 365s.  Not bad for a Black Friday lightning deal on Amazon for a lower-end Project Runway machine.  I love that little thing!  

It's given me no grief whatsoever, just hums along like a champ.  I especially like the 1/4-inch foot for piecing, the variety of stitches, and the fact that it sews over bulky seams better than any of my vintage Singers.  I can also join long strips or seams together with no distortion, which I don't dare attempt on my Singer without the walking foot attachment.

Back to the circles for a moment, someone asked whether I might do a tutorial for how I've been making them, and I'll be posting that in a few days.  It's not original or unique, but I'm happy to show you.  Thanks for the "hint"!

Norm decided to mop all the floors earlier this week, so I took advantage of a spic and span kitchen surface and got the Hunter's Star quilt basted.  

Hoo boy, I called it close on the batting!  I have barely a half inch on either side in a couple spots.  If it stays put and doesn't shift in the quilting, I'll be delighted.  Fingers crossed!

Speaking of delighted, I got a nice email from quilter Loyce this week who sent me pictures of her finished Thoroughly Modern Lily quilt that she made with my pattern (still available free--see HERE)!
Loyce doesn't have a blog or Instagram, etc., but gave me permission to share her quilt with you.
Here's what she said about making it:
"I used Luckie fabric by Maude Asbury with a background fabric from JoAnn Fabrics.  The backing is more Luckie.   I ditched each motif and then echoed 1/4".  Also ditched the pink petals of each motif.  My circular piecing left much to be desired and the quilt top was not flat at all.  I opted to keep the edges straight and 'quilt out' the poufiness -- hopefully!  It worked for the most part except in a couple of places between the lilies.  Oh, well.  In the pink petals I echoed the shape of the petal.  In the grey/tan blades I echoed the dip in the top to create crosshatching.  Three lines in the connecting strip.  Then an all-over feather meander courtesy of Sampaguita Quilts.  I used Bottom Line thread in pink, grey, and a pink-y tan because I was concerned that there might be too much thread buildup with the designs I chose."

I think it turned out terrific!  See those cowboy boots in the petals?  And the horseshoe print for the backing?  So fun!  Thanks for sharing your beautiful quilt, Loyce!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Monday, right?

I woke up this morning unsure of what day it was.  That doesn't happen very often, and maybe it was because I was coming down out of a whopper of a dream, wherein I had discovered I had a head tattoo in the shape of a red multi-line zigzag pattern underneath my hair.  When I mentioned it to someone, they informed me I also had a matching tattoo on my back, which I was unaware of.  Why didn't anyone inform me of this before?  Oh right, because it happened during the time I was kidnapped and lost my memory; I forgot.

Yeah, that made sense.

So as the dream faded, I was glad to realize today was Monday, not Saturday, not Sunday, and also that my scalp was tattoo-free.  Not that there's anything wrong with head tattoos, if that's your thing.  I would only hope you remember why they're there.

Perhaps I was dreaming about patterns because I've been binge-watching Vikings, in which there are indeed head tattoos, but more interesting to me are the beautifully simple and colorful patterns on their shields.  I am not much into the battle scenes and ensuing gore, but am happy to zone out during the mayhem whilst admiring the variety of shields.  I am counting it as quilt inspiration.

I had my ancestry DNA analyzed this past summer and was surprised to find in the motley mix a portion of Scandinavian ancestry.  Having known next to nothing, until recently, about Viking history, how far and wide they ranged (to put it politely), it now kind of makes more sense.  

What does not make sense, in terms of the Vikings TV series, is why—why-oh-why—can they not BATHE?!  I mean, they live on the coast of the sea (water).  They pilot great ships to distant lands (in the middle of copious amounts of water).  It rains a lot (more water).  So why does the main character have to constantly look like he just emerged from a coal mine and rolled downhill, past the slaughterhouse, and into a pig sty?  

Granted, Travis Fimmel is quite pretty in real life, so maybe they feel they have to muss him up to look Ragnar Lothbrok tough. 

I said to my husband as we embarked on Season 2, "It's like the makeup department on set has a vat of stuff called 'Viking Grunge' which they apply liberally."  I don't know, but it makes me want to take a long soak in a hot tub on his behalf.

Well, I didn't intend to get so carried away by the Viking theme, but there it is.  And one more thing:  The Last Kingdom.  Netflix it.  That is all.

But wait, there's more:  I finished the Hunter's Star quilt top.
And put together a backing and binding.

The backing is a vintage thrift store find I've had in the stash for years.  Burnt orange and pea green were all the rage in the mid-to-late 1970s.  My first car was a used 1976 Pontiac Ventura muscle car in burnt orange (with genuine rust accents).  Can't say I've seen too many tulips or whatnot in burnt orange/rust, but I love the funky print and am glad to have found a use for a big ole swath of it on the back of this quilt.

I used up a lot of the batik scraps and stash.  It measures about 56 inches square.  A nice throw or lap quilt size, for sure.  I might have liked it a little bigger, and the outer border in the blue batik versus the green, but when you're using up what you have, it is what it is.  Anyway, I like the surprise of green.