Monday, February 17, 2014

New scrap quilt thanks to Pinterest

I've started a new scrap quilt thanks to Pinterest.  It's creator, Deanna of the Wedding Dress Blue blog, named it the "Film at Five" quilt and it is an extremely serviceable design for all sorts of scrap arrangements.  I started looking for a likely candidate design when my scrap box had to be declared totally out of control.

Once I had the design, I dumped the scrap box and began cutting two-and-a-half inch squares.
Having a two-and-a-half inch ruler is a huge help so you can quickly see if you can use the scrap in question.
Slipping is always a problem, but a saw a great idea in the new American Patchwork and Quilting magazine about using shelf liner to help hold a larger ruler still.  It works like a charm.
The blocks in this quilt are twenty-five squares, and the illustrated quilts on Deanna's website were mostly charm style (all blocks different).  I actually had large quantities of several fabrics, so I did some improvising.  The first block I did used an overall floral and difference pink fabrics.
The next one used two different fabrics only.
Putting them together using string piecing went very fast.  You can see the threads connecting the rows.
This block used crayon fabric and then solids in the crayon colors.
Calling the vertical rows one through five, turn row two over onto row one

and then starting at the top, pick up the five pairs (starting at the top and putting the next pair on the bottom) and take them to the sewing machine.

Sew the five pairs together without breaking the thread in between pairs.
Pick up row three as you picked up the first row.
Starting at the top, open the pairs and sew row three to the pairs, again without breaking the thread between the now-forming rows.
Once you've picked up all twenty-five squares, press in one direction for the top row and the opposite direction for the next row and so on.  Pressing is really important as it makes you work more accurate and looks better.

Press the finished block from the right side.

Most of the time, I just cut blocks, but for several of them, I did do "fussy cutting."

Here's the finished Clifford block.
I also "fussy cut" the Cat in the Hat fabric.
This is the dinosaur fabric.
As you can see, the blocks are largely children's fabric.  This one is the exception, but I think it works with the others.
I love all the kitten's green eyes staring out from this block.
For the borders, I decided to use one fabric for the corners. The white fabric is a white on white print of numbers in different fonts.
The rest of the border blocks use solid fabrics.

I'm very pleased with the nine-block size (54 square inches) and I've got other ideas for new color combinations.  I'm an old-fashioned quilter in many ways and using up my scraps is certainly one of them.

Monday, January 13, 2014

My Old Favorite, the African Stripe Baby Quilt

 A new baby girl is coming into the world later this spring and I'm creating yet another African Stripe Baby Quilt.  I found this wonderful inspiration fabric at my local quilt shop, the Studio Stitch.  It's called "Fairy Magic" and is part of the Riddles and Rhymes collection by Tina Givens for Free Spirit by Westminster Fibers.  It will be the wide border around the striped fabrics center.  The dark blue thin border is from my stash. The addition of the borders parts from Kaffe Fassett's original design, but the striped fabric set in alternate directions is all his genius.
I'm getting ready to pin baste the layers together.  The backing fabric is flannel print of sky with fluffy clouds.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Coming up for air

Our last eight months have been spent in a continuing journey of illness and pain for my poor husband, Jim.  It took several months after he initially was plagued with terrible back pain, to discover that he had a staph infection in his back.  Mercifully, it has stayed out of his blood, but that also makes it harder to fight.  He's been hospitalized three times with vomiting so severe, he has become dehydrated. (We finally learned that this is his body reacting to the infection.) He spent three more days in the hospital after an open biopsy around T12.  He just finished his second six-weeks long course of IV antibiotics.  I've learned to start an IV drip bag and use a syringe to administer these drugs and help him get from place to place and help with his personal care.  Last week, we learned that the infection's abscess is still there, but hasn't grown.  We also learned that he has a compression fracture of the T12 vertebra. Now I strap him into a rigid, clamshell, body brace each morning. The doctor hopes that T11 and T12 will fuse on their own while he is in the brace for two or three months.  Pain remains an unwelcome guest in our house.  He has lost nearly 80 pounds during this time which is good for his heart and general health, but not an approved method of weight loss.

Our children, and I include our wonderful daughter in law,  have been great.  Anna has come and spent many weeks with us when Jim was recovering from an open biopsy surgery and at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Dan and Steph came in July and again at Christmas to provide love and support and lots of laughs. Our hearts overflow with love for these amazing young people who make up our family.

I've only been at school about four weeks during this school year.  Everyone at my school has also been incredibly supportive.  Jim's staff and faculty and students have also overwhelmed us with their care and concern and visits.  Over the summer, several of his staff and faculty moved his office to a building with a handicap ramp in the entrance.  And while I was able to help Jim start the school year and teach classes, he was not able to return after the last hospital stay.  This experience would be unbearable without all of them.

 During this time, I've come to appreciate even more the strength of character and compassion of my dad who has cared for my mother for the last three years.  When Jim went to the emergency room with the first case of mysterious vomiting, I was in Florida as my parents transitioned from their home to a retirement center.  While caregiving is tiring and stressful, it's also terrible to see someone you love in pain or distress and feel inadequate and helpless to make things better for them.

Please keep Jim in your prayers or practice.  We are ecumenical and appreciate all offerings. I am hopeful that this will pass away and he will regain his health and strength.  As with all trials, we will be closer and stronger because of it.

My heart is so full of you.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

One ready to be shipped and another on the work table

Jim's great secretary Connie has welcomed a grandson recently, so I've gotten a new African striped baby quilt started for him.  There is so much cute fabric for boys now. The trucks and tools fabrics are the borders and another flannel truck fabric for the back.

The blue striped fabric is for the binding.

Meanwhile, the quilt for Jack, another Single Girl pattern, is in the box ready to be shipped to Anna.  She's going to take it to Alexis when the baby is born.

Here's a close-up of the label.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A very special baby quilt begins

These are some of the lovely new fabrics I'm working with for a new Single Girl baby quilt.  They came from a quilt shop that opened recently right around the corner from me.  It's called Stitch Studio and they are also the Bernina dealership.

The expectant momma has decided on an ocean theme and this is a wonderful fish fabric from Pink Chalk Fabrics, one of my favorite online fabric store.

I noticed in the Tuesday Morning flyer that they were selling these giant mats, so I hustled over and got one before they were all gone.  It's 58 inches long and 38 inches wide which just about covers my work table and means I won't have that break between the two smaller mats I used to have.  The books are weighing down the corners since it was rolled up.

The background fabric features whales, crabs, octopi, turtles, and starfish.

When Anna was here earlier in the month, she pulled fabrics from my stash and then we went shopping and found the inspiration fabrics and thus the basic color palette of aqua, orange, green, and navy blue. By far the most fun fabric is smiling sharks eating chocolate chip cookies!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What I did during my four-day weekend

What a lovely long weekend it's been.  Friday was spent pin basting the new baby quilt and starting a new project for a toddler who loves dolls.

This is an old pattern that I used years ago to make a doll for my dear mother-in-law, Mae, who loved dolls and cats.  I love rag dolls.  My Mama made be a Raggedy Ann and Andy that I love and kept on my bed for many years.  The girl kitty has pantalettes, and a dress that looks like a blouse with an apron over it.

Here's the face all embroidered and bewhiskered.
On Saturday, I finished the body and got started on the clothes.
Here she is all finished on Saturday afternoon.
Sunday has been spent hand quilting the new baby quilt in the hoop.  This has been my idea of a great weekend.  

Snow Day!

Friday was a snow day, but here in North Carolina, that doesn't mean a vacation day for teachers.  Snow days are teacher work days unless you use trade time or personal time off to "pay" for them.  Since there was a big layer of ice under the snow and our driveway was pure ice, I used trade time to stay home.  The blocks beside the driveway are pavers waiting for our new driveway.  Once the weather clears we are getting, not only a new driveway, but new surface for the screened porch and slab patio.

The screens are down, so I got a clear shot of the backyard through the kitchen window.  We are going to have new screens without the view-blocking lattice.  I'm really excited about that part of the project.

I've taken lots of "before" photos, so when the project is completed, I'll share those.  

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Climbing out from under

I have had a bad case of the OCD blues.  My house was a mess.  My studio was worse and I was feeling overwhelmed by the piles of undone things at school and at home.  This weekend, I feel like I climbed out from under the clutter both physically and mentally.  My house is clean (Thanks to Jim for driving the vacuum and the dust cloth in several rooms!) and things are put away.  The furniture is off the porch in preparation for our new driveway and new porch construction.  My studio is clean and I have laid out a new baby quilt for the newest addition to the UNC-G theatre family.  The photo above shows the backing fabric and the borders and bias binding.
This is the body ready to be sewn up.

The refrigerator is cleaned out and I have plans to reorganize the pantry after reading an article Anna suggested to me.  Last night I made chicken cacciatore that we will dine on tonight along with some pasta and our favorite romaine lettuce and mandarin orange salad.

Now if I could only finish the reading and writing the questions for the Battle of the Books and find the time to do all the cataloging at school, I would really feel good about myself!