Monday, August 22, 2016

"Afternoon Delight" during evening Olympics watching...


During my sporadic evening Olympics TV viewing, I was able to finish more "Afternoon Delight" blocks.  I now have 25 of the 40 applique blocks hand-stitched.  These blocks will finish to a little bigger than 6 inches square.

"Afternoon Delight" is a quilt pattern by Sue Garman.  There are quite a few pieced, scrappy blocks in this quilt, which I hope to power piece at a retreat at the end of September.


The Olympics were fabulous!  I wish I could have spent more time watching.  And it was really nice to have the media focus on something else for 16 days.  The next ten weeks of political stuff are going to be brutal in the ol' USA.

I wish we could adopt something like the Canadians have in this country...they have a very limited time of campaigning before elections.  I think I heard that last time it was something like 78 days, which was long for them.

Wow...it feels like it has been 78 months here, LOL!


I have been working on the attached 3-car garage and basement wood shop.  There are a lot of tools and stuff on this property spread between the garage, shop and 6 outbuildings.  It's hard to organize it one building at a time when you don't even have like things together so you know what you are dealing with.


One of my super powers is organizing, but not having everything in one place while trying to do it is making me a little nuts!  And, of course, as you organize stuff things ALWAYS get worse before they get better.  Everything has to be removed and piled so that you can arrange shelves, bins, and wall organizing systems.  

Ugh.


I would much rather be stitching, but things are so spread over the property that we can't find things we need.  Then we go out and buy what we can't find, then almost immediately stumble on what we needed...so frustrating.

This place was a handful, even before adding our belongings to "the mix."  My parents were working physicians right up to the end and they struggled to get a handle on organizing stuff.  Then the seven of us kids and families would visit off and on.  Some of us would work when we visited, but there was always more stuff to do.  And while the 800+ acres were intended to be wild and unspoiled, there is a certain amount of maintenance that needs to be done to keep nature from just completely taking over!


I keep thinking that once things are more organized that I will have more regular time for stitching, designing and quilting.  But for now I am trying to make the most of the time that I have.


It helps to have a pile of blocks like this prepped so that when I have time for a little de-stressing stitching, there is something to pick up immediately.


I have always been attracted to the Reproduction fabrics, but now that I live in the middle of the woods in a log home, it just seems natural to be sewing with these fabrics more and more has I design blocks or work through my "bucket list" of other designer's patterns in which I want to get completely lost.


On top of everything else, with the weird tropical rain systems that have been parking themselves over the southeast, we have discovered that screw fasteners that hold down our nice metal roof have been working themselves out.  We have developed a leak somewhere above the master bath and we have a mildew situation slowly emerging on the ceiling.  Now there is a little drywall to do after we remedy the situation.

I have been entertaining roofing companies submitting estimates for replacing ALL THE ROOF SCREWS...ugh.  Hopefully work will start early next week.

So, it is very nice to have blocks prepped for LOTS of fabric therapy, as I need it GREATLY right now, LOL!

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The "Peace" block...


I started stitching on this block for my "Contentment" anniversary quilt project while watching the opening ceremony for the Rio Olympics.  It seemed appropriate...I love all the International cooperation and participation.  I wish the only battles in the world were the ones between athletic teams with no violence.

The block measures 10-inches finished.  Steve and I are pretty peaceful and wish there was less violence in the world.  I have two more 10-inch blocks to do, then I have to start putting it together.  

This makes me panic because I have not figured out what to put around the center block.  I need to have a 2-inch border of some kind.  I cannot decide...pieced, appliqued...ugh!  I will draw out some possibilities and try and nail down a decision.

Are you watching the Olympics?  I am enjoying all of it.  The most surprising event for me has been the women's rugby...that is such a strange sport with the big ball!  Weird!

I was so moved by the opening ceremonies...it is always so interesting to see what the host nation puts together.  That projection system was amazing!  And I loved the moving sculpture behind the lighted cauldron. 

I wish all nations would act as if the rest of the world was really watching all the time...including us!

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)

Friday, August 5, 2016

More finished blocks!


This is block eleven of my original "Contentment" applique anniversary quilt project.  The block is 10-inches square and represents our shared love of music.


Steve plays guitar and sings, and I play piano, clarinet, and sing.  I decided not to try and represent all those things separately in one applique block...at least not this time, LOL!


Only three more surround blocks to go on the "Contentment" quilt. One is prepped, so I hope to stitch it this weekend.

I am also working on the 40 applique blocks in Sue Garman's "Afternoon Delight" quilt as we all continue to pray for her continued strength in fighting cancer.

This is block #31 and my favorite so far!  I loved the challenge of all the little...what are they, tentacles?  Whatever they are, they are a great design motif and fun to stitch. The blocks are 7-1/4-inch trimmed.


I did not find these little doo-dads hard to hand-applique, but I will admit that cutting out the freezer paper template was a little challenging.  

My paper-cutting scissors are not very good.  I am very picky and careful about my fabric-cutting scissors, but I must admit that my only criteria for paper-cutting scissors is just that they not be my fabric-cutting scissors!

As much freezer paper as I cut out, I will designate a pair...any of you paper crafters out there have a particular brand that you like? Serrated- or straight-edged?


This is block #29.  It was really fun picking out all my favorite reproduction fabrics for all these blocks.  I am using a different repro neutral fabric for each of the 40 applique blocks.


This kind of applique with repro fabrics is fun for me.  None of these "Afternoon Delight" patterns make me worry about shading and perspective the way that my LITTLE TREASURES patterns do.

Now that I live in a log home with wood floors in the middle of the woods, the reproduction fabric color palette better matches my decor.  I've never been too worried about that, as I have a pretty eclectic style.  But it has made me more open to using them!  I have always been attracted to them and think they are beautiful...that is dangerous because every time I have a favorite ANYTHING, manufacturers stop making it (I will rant on THAT subject another day!).

There are a lot of double nine patch blocks that need to be made to set all these applique blocks.  They will be scrappy, which is always fun.  I am going to a retreat at the end of September, and I am planning to pound out most of those while I am there, basking in the company of other quilters.

It looked like a snow storm around my room the day I traced all the applique patterns on freezer paper and cut them out.


When I cut out the freezer paper patterns, I store them in a sheet pocket protector with the pattern sheet until I use them.  

The freezer paper adheres to fabric multiple times, so I store the pieces with the pattern after that first use in case I ever come back and make that block again. That saves a lot of time!


I store all the pattern sheet pocket protectors in hanging file folders in filing cabinets. I tried the notebook thing and it just didn't work for me - too floppy!

I was trying to do too much applique prep in our bedroom...now I am re-thinking that decision and moving more of it downstairs to the new quilt cave.  I am finding little snippets of fabric stuck to everything and everyone in the house.  I need all that mess in a more contained area.

I will still draw upstairs, in addition to glue basting on my light box upstairs.  And it seems that most of my hand stitching is done upstairs, along with tracing patterns on freezer paper.  My quilt book library is also upstairs.  Those are things I can do while watching stuff on the stove/oven or doing laundry.  The laundry was in the basement in the Michigan house, and I had no qualms about announcing that I was going down to do laundry...then totally ignore the clothes and play with he fabric, LOL!

I also just need to spend more time downstairs.  I've got to get over all the feelings of it being new and not yet cozy like my old Michigan space.  If I just spend some time down there it will quickly seem like an old friend.  That is where my main sewing machine is located.  

I have also started to tackle organizing Dad's shop, which is on the other end of the large, long basement from my new quilt cave.  I am trying to incorporate all the tools we moved with what was already there, and sort out tools that need to be housed in other areas on the property (tractor shed, barn, garage, etc.).  Dad and I spent a lot of time in that shop...it has the most ghosts, but also the most great memories, I think.  I have been avoiding it, but now I have been doing some stuff in there.  I am making progress!

My Michigan house was small enough that being in the basement didn't seem like being locked away from the world when I was down there.  In this house, I am very removed when down in the walk out basement.

But that could be a good thing!

I am looking for a better bag or container to carry my current hand-stitching project with me when I leave the house.  It needs to be big enough to carry 10-12 spools of silk thread, scissors, thimble, etc. along with my Beam 'N Read light and some blocks, but not too big.  

When I go to the car place to get the oil changed, those guys always look a little worried that I am starting a sewing bee there, LOL!  I would like it to have compartments, hopefully a see-through one for the thread.  

Right now I use either a ladies travel toiletry bag or this beautiful handmade Shaker oval box with a handle.  Neither one is quite "it." Any suggestions?

In Stitches, 
Teresa   :o)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Another piece of the "Contentment" puzzle...



OK, I can now FINALLY see an end game in this anniversary quilt!

This block, representing Weasley the cat, is the eighth 10-inch block of the twelve that will surround the center square.


I like his little cat feet, desperately trying to keep from falling while climbing...bad little boy!


The color is actually better on the next photo...the flowers are more yellow than orange.


Here is the center, 16-inch block.  All the hand applique is now finished on this one and I have a little bit of embroidery yet to do.


I am still learning about the use of flesh-colored fabrics.  Steve and I both are paler than pale.  The fabric I used on Steve needed to be more like the one I used on me.  He is too pale!  His arms and head almost disappear on the background fabric.  I might have to outline embroider his skin with one strand of floss...


I have decided to embroider minimal facial features on us along with fingers, after much thought and practice.



 All blocks are now drawn.  With eight appliqued, I only have four of the twelve surrounding blocks left to do.  One will represent my science background, and then there will be blocks representing our joint interests in music, books and peace.  (I took this picture before I finished Mr. Weasley.)

I may play with the placement of the surrounding blocks after they are all done.


There will be a 2-inch pieced border between the center block and the surrounding blocks, a skinny stop border beyond the surrounding blocks, a 4-inch applique border around the whole thing, followed by a slender outer border.

It should finish right at or right under 60-inches square.

It feels good to finally have some direction on this quilt!

Thanks for all of your encouragement!

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Stitching while camping...


I know, right?  TWO posts in two days from me, right?  Totally atypical of my life lately, but I will take it!

There are forty appliqued blocks in Sue Garman's fabulous quilt pattern, "Afternoon Delight."  Here are the first fourteen, all stitched, soaked and pressed.  They will be trimmed down to 6-3/4 inches before piecing them into the quilt.

This first block was so FUN!  At first glance, it looks like one red fabric.  Her intention was for us to use FOUR different fabrics in making this one...such a fun, and I must admit challenging, little detail.

Me, and the method I use for hand applique, were up to the challenge!



These blocks were the perfect little sewing project to take along for camping in the great Canadian outdoors for a week or so.  The fabrics and busy reproduction backgrounds were perfect for hiding dirt and accidentally squished little spiders...

...I did wash out a couple of small stains from a squished little spider and two mosquitoes at which, I fully admit, I took direct aim! Take THAT you Zica virus-carrying, Olympics and vacation-spoiling little jerks!

But I digress...back to the blocks...


I love Sue's designs.  These are such interesting shapes...I enjoyed tackling all the little points and inside corners on some blocks and the miniature Hawaiian-like, gently curved shapes in others...

Sue, I found serenity while stitching your designs and I thought about you with every stitch!  We will see if my serenity holds up when I tackle the piecing of all those double 9-patch blocks, LOL!



I had gotten a little tired of picking out reproduction fabrics for my tiny, original applique blocks that I have been designing and stitching lately, but fabric choices for this project were fun and easy.  I just kept grabbing for my favorites from the various reproduction bins.

Some patterns, like this next one, had a single piece making up the design so I was free to go for big pieces instead of poking through my tiny scraps.



Love, loved, LOVED this next one, despite all the tiny circles (about a half inch in diameter).




This one reminds me of Christmas Cactus blossoms...










You can find Sue Garman's pattern for "Afternoon Delight," and all her other beautiful creations, at her web store here.  Here is the finished quilt made by Sue:

Afternoon Delight - Complete Pattern Set

I found this picture on Pinterest of the finished quilt, taken at the AQS Lancaster quilt show and made by Judy R. Williams and Michele Pettorini:

Afternoon Delight, Judy R. Williams & Michele Pettorini at AQS Lancaster:

There are a lot of pictures of this quilt on Pinterest in other color ways...it looks really cool in retro 30's fabrics.

I finished the stitching on the the big block I showed in the last post.  It is soaking in water to remove the washable glues.  I have to make a decision about how much embroidery embellishment to do on it, especially on the faces.  I am really on the fence about that.  I will at least embroider Steve's glasses since I already did that on another block that will be in the quilt.

Happy to be stitching,
Teresa   :o)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Progress on my "Contentment" project...


Today is the 26th anniversary of the day I met my husband, Steve, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. How appropriate that I am working on this center medallion block for the ongoing anniversary project called "Contentment" that I started some time ago.  

The blocks that are currently in my blog header are also part of that project.


The block will be trimmed to finish 16-inches square after the stitching and glue-removing soaking is done.  I chose to draw us as we were then, instead of the older, lumpy way we look now, LOL...

Artistic license...also using modern fabrics and modern style of clothing.  

I glue-basted the larger units together working right on the pattern and even did a little hand-stitching before inserting the pressed background fabric on the pattern and continuing the layout.  I can do this without the light box and it makes the complicated, puzzle-like construction a little easier.

I keep drawing this stuff more and more complicated...at some point, I will have to start re-drawing things in an easier fashion!


My more recent applique efforts have been on small blocks.  I decided to prep and stitch the outer arbor of this larger block first to make the block a little easier to work on when I start hand-stitching.  The outer arbor is made up of two bowers, one containing flowers and one containing hearts.

I love working on my portable light box.  The vintage pattern weights really make the glue-basting easy to manage.  I have been scanning Ebay and have added an additional couple of sets of the weights. I really prefer the hard plastic, old style weights to the bean bag type that are commercially available now...probably because I used, and got used to, the older ones first.

Hopefully I won't find out some day that they contain some dangerous, leeching lead and/or radioactive substance to make them so delightfully heavy.


My light box is 12 x 17 inches...I wish it was a square instead of a rectangle, but sliding the work around on the surface is not a problem.  The pattern weights keep things from shifting around.


After doing the heart bower, I re-positioned my pattern and background fabric on the light box to work on the flower bower on the other side of the block.


I drew the two bowers to tangle over our heads...after all these years, our lives are happily tangled in the same way.


Done and all ready to insert the happy couple with their shared basket of hearts and flowers...






Now everything is glue-basted into place and I am ready to finish the hand-stitching.  As per my usual style, all edges are turned under...no raw edges in this work!  


We were in Canada for our annual trip to family property in the 1000 Islands.  It is a little rustic there, so this was not a good thing to work on while vacationing.


With only a little solar power available on the St. Lawrence River "island," really a peninsula at Grass Creek, pressing of freezer paper or fabric is not possible.  Plus, there is very little room in the car to pack sewing stuff.  So, the light box and iron were out of the question!  

I miss my mini-van, which could hold a lot of my stash on trips, LOL!


I worked on prepping applique blocks for a Sue Garman quilt called "Afternoon Delight" while I was out of the country.  I will show progress on that next time.  Sue is currently dealing with a serious health issue, and I was using her project as a sort of prayer vehicle, like Rosary beads, saying little prayers of healing, strength and comfort as I worked on the blocks.  Send her some love as you say your prayers.

I am working "Afternoon Delight" in repro fabrics with scrappy backgrounds that hide dirt easily, LOL!  A good project for the outdoor, camp feel of Grass Creek.


I did take a small, flat piece of plexiglass, which I used with my husband's Kindle-like device as an emergency light box (some of my neutral, repro fabrics were a little busy to see the paper pattern through during placement without a little help).  

I thought this was genius, if I do say so myself!

Now that we live in Alabama, our annual pilgrimage to Canada now includes almost 1200 miles of driving, ONE WAY (used to be 430 miles from Michigan...).  Our lives seem to revolve around family property.  We stayed in the one cabin on this 11-acre peninsula this year that is not on the river, it is in the woods.  It is called the "Turtle." (Thus called because it sits on a big piece of granite, sunning itself.)


Normally it just has a double bed in it, but we moved a bed in for our daughter as well.  We were cozy...


I am sensitive to the wool blankets there, so we always take quilts. I won the one on our bed as a raffle quilt, back in Texas in 1994. The other one is a scrappy "leftovers" quilt I made for my daughter eons ago (the leftovers include 13 of the intended 26 blocks for an alphabet quilt I never finished, LOL!)  

Ahhh...civilization...home-made, hand-quilted quilts, even camping in the Canadian 1000 Islands with no electricity or running water!



What is behind the second door?


Yep, you guessed it...an indoor outhouse!


This trip was a cool escape from the hot and steamy southern weather. The temperatures at night near Kingston were mostly in the mid 50's...GREAT sleeping weather in the open cabin.  It is so hot and steamy now that we are home...and it isn't even August yet...

When the wind isn't up, the St. Lawrence looks more like a lake than a river...







The "Boat House," with Howe Island "lit up" by the fading sun across the river.


The "Main House," which is the heart of the "island."  It contains the kitchen, eating porch, living room, and store room.  It is slightly uphill and has a great view of the river.


There are two other sleeping cabins and lots of room for tents. Steve's side of the family owns this rustic retreat.  We've missed just one summer in 26 years.  And Steve's family spent so many summer vacations up there before I met him.  It is a lovely family tradition. I love Canada!  It is so beautiful and the people are so nice!

Friends, I have been struggling with this move from Michigan to Alabama.  I have not met local people yet and feel so isolated.  The move-in continues, with trying to establish spaces of our own in this large, family-shared home and property.

There are different things about living in Alabama, and not just the climate.  There is currently a rattlesnake in the detached 3-car garage where we keep some of the work and recreational vehicles, up, away from the house.  My husband went up there yesterday, opened a door and there it was...then it slithered back away from the door, under lawnmowers and other equipment.  Crap!  

Good thing it has been dry here and I don't need to get the riding mower out of there this week!  I did acres of mowing before we left for Canada.  One of the door thresholds needs to be repaired so that critters don't get in there...just add it to the list of things to do.

I guess things take time, and I just need to be patient and take the time to discover the area and new friends.  But mostly, I need to be selfish and carve out quilting time for me.  I need that or I am going to sink.  I did sign up to go to a retreat in late September...that will be fun and something to look forward to!


I left blueberries on a few bushes before leaving for Canada.  That was sad...they were so good this year!


In stitches,
Teresa   :o)