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Wednesday, March 31, 2010


They say change is never easy...but I disagree!  Went to an EQ6 demo Monday night.  It was a small class (4 of us) so we got to ask a lot of questions.  After seeing the demo and chatting with users, I knew I had to buy it. 

Next decision: What to do about my perfectly awful, old, malfunctioning sewing machine? I have a philosophy about staying on a budget: Stay out of the stores, and you won't know what you're missing!  But this  decision requires getting out and testing new machines.  Truly, I was better off not knowing what I was missing. 

After taking a Baby Lock for a test drive, using the automatic needle threader, needle down feature, speed control, thread cutter and no foot pedal.... I'm just amazed at what I've been missing.  A local sewing machine shop is selling the Aspire for $1800.00.  From everything I've heard, that's a great price!  I also looked at some Vikings.  I love the 10" between needle and the base of the machine.  But the Viking I would want is $2100.00 and has fewer of the features I'm looking for. 

No matter which way I go, I DEFINITELY need to make a change!  I have seen the light! :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Help Wanted

I must euthanize my 1977 Sears Kenmore sewing machine.  It's jamming, skipping stiches for 1/4 inch at a time.  It nearly destroyed my Lazy Daisy quilt.

I want a new machine ASAP - but have no idea what I need.  Where do I start?

Carrot Table Runner

This quilt-as-you-go project can be completed in a few hours.  Lay out your backing and batting and lay one strip at the center.  Then add strips outward to both ends.  The three dimentional green carrot top is sewn and gathered.  The quilt-as-you-go method would also work well for making Easter Egg placemats or table toppers.  Project comes from  Fast & Fabulous Quilting Ideas (2008), from Better Homes & Gardens.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Two Steps Forward, and...

...Oooops...One step back!  I sat down to sew on the binding tonight.  I was JUST thinking how nice it was to be back in my comfort zone.  Not trying to learn anything new...just enjoying some simple sewing.  But Murphy's Law prevailed.  I was, perhaps, TOO comfortable.  Good thing I recently learned how to rip properly.  I'd been using the seam ripper wrong for years. LOL

Despite my mishap, I got the binding on, and pinned my Lazy Daisy quilt sandwich. The room that has recently become my sewing room (until or unless DS1 moves back home) gets late day sun. What a treat to sew by the light of day, and I was serenaded by bird song all the while.  My idea of heaven.

Speaking of birds, the male goldfinches are half molted. They're losing their olive drab feathers, with bright yellow ones coming in. Right now they look like they can't make up their minds. I spotted my first robin on the first day of spring. I'd been hearing them, but hadn't actually seen them. Then I found a whole roost! I'm intrigued that the robins are back, but the juncos haven't headed North yet. My Peterson's field guide shows juncos in only the upper third of Wisconsin during breeding season. They won't be here much longer.

A little trivia about Wisconsin's State Bird: while other birds use song to establish territory, attract a mate or both - the (male) robin's song is not associated with these activities. The robin sings the most just before its brood hatches. They are usually the first birds to breed, and have two to three broods each year.

Happy quilting and birding. :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Home Sweet Home

My brother and sister-in-law liked my stitching of Hazen's Long Lake Lodge, so they asked me to do one of their home.  Again, I enlarged a photo and started stitching - and of course I added their dog, Bailey.  They have since moved to a bigger house, but the stitching still hangs in the hall.  They've been careful to position it away from direct sunlight, so 20 years later the colors are just as vibrant.  It was fun to embroider the golden maple tree, vines, flowers, brick and stone house and wooden garage door.  :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

National Quilting Day

In honor of National Quilting Day, I've decided to rise to the challenge of stippling.  Wish me luck!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Outline or Stippling?

As usual, Wisconsin is ushering in Spring with SNOW.  I'm taking advantage of the nip in the air to work on my Winter's Song quilt.  Its decision time.  Outline the cardinals with my trusty, reliable walking foot?  Or live dangerously and do some FMQ stippling? or FMQ snowflakes?

To be honest, FMQ still scares me.  My heart pounds and I break out in a sweat, cuz if I mess up it'll be nearly impossible to rip out.  I have to remind myself its supposed to be FUN.   I did some very detailed hand applique on this quilt, so I'm leaning toward the simpler outline stitch. 

On a side note, I observed two male cardinals in chase this week.  Territory skirmishes have begun.  The male goldfinches are changing from olive drab fall/winter feathers to their bright yellow spring/summer plumage.  At the suet feeder I had a female flicker the other day.  Today the suet attracted a gray squirrel with a blond tail.  Despite all this activity, I've not yet spied a robin.  Perhaps I'll spot one tommorrow, being the first day of Spring!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lazy Daisy - Done!

Well, OK - its not REALLY done 'til it's quilted and bound....but the TOP is done!  Yahoo! 
I now have 2 quilt tops in need of backing.  A trip to a quilt shop may be in order.   :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy Spring!

Spring doesn't begin until March 20, but snow piles are melting away, and tulips and daffodils are breaking ground.  I know, Mother Nature is just teasing us... snow is coming later this week.  But what-the-heck...I'll take it!  
This was my first attempt at doing triangles, and my first attempt at quilting something other than straight lines.  I fell in love with this hydrangea fabric.  Two years later, I still have scraps that I can't part with.  :) 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lesson Two - The Ah-Ha Moment

The instructor said half way through the lesson we would have an Ah-Ha moment.  But mine didn't come...until TODAY!  Getting all those points to line up was a trick. 

On the first block I ripped and re-stitched the yellow centers 5 or 6 times.  There's so much bulk, the pieces  shift no matter how many pins you use.  I finally hand stitched the center portion, THEN sewed it on the machine.  On the second square I got smart and BASTED the centers together, before sewing the entire seam.  Got it on the second try. 

Here's the completed border on my Olympic Rings mini-quilt. I did a LOT of hand stitching while I was laid up with back trouble. Thankfully, I'm back in action...and ready for a change of pace.

I'm feeling a bit guilty about my Winter's Song quilt.  It's sandwiched, but not quilted.  Every time I look at it it seems to say, "Hey, what about me?"

I rarely get the timing right.  I'll probably finish Winter's Song when Spring has sprung.  The Lazy Daisy topper will be done at about the right time, as spring flowers giving way to summer.  As for the Olympic Rings...if I get them done for the Summer Olympics two years from now, I'll be right on schedule.  :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lesson One

Here is the back side of my first-ever foundation piecing project.  When I opened the pattern, it was  intimidating.  But our class instructor walked us through the process.  My goal was to complete one block by the end of the class period.  During class I had to rip and re-do several times.  Fortunately I wasn't the only one.  But I completed all five sections of the square and put them together.  I was beaming with pride and joy!

When I got home I realized I'd made another mistake.  In the top center of the block, I put a  light colored petal where background was to be, and I completely skipped another piece.  Hence the big pink blob at the top!  Time to get out the seam ripper once again.

Lessons Learned (so far):

1.  Take your camera to class.
2.  Bring your seam ripper. 
3.  Put in a fresh needle before class and bring a spare.
4.  My Olympic Rings project is called English Paper Piecing.  This project is Foundation Paper Piecing. 
5.  My instructor showed me how to finish the edge of my previous hexagon project, without losing the points.  If it works, I'll make a tutorial.
6.  For Foundation piecing: The WRONG side of Piece 1 goes against the WRONG side of the paper.  Then sew on Piece 2, with fabric RIGHT sides together.  Sew on the paper line.
7.  Learn to count (I apparently need to work on this!)
8.  As always, have fun! :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I accidentally approved a message that should have been deleted.  The Comment Moderation tab tells me that I have no unmoderated comments, and the Dashboard doesn't seem to let me modify comments, only the post itself. 

Thanks in advance for any guidance you can offer. :)     -Chris

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hmmmm...Now What?

Made the flowers below as a border for the quilt above.  But the border should never be wider than 3/4 the width of your block, so I went to Plan B.  Now I'm wondering how to finish the edge without losing the points.  I feel like it will lose its character if I trim them to a straight edge.  

Here are the homeless flowers.  They look so bright and cheerful...will have to find a home for them too. :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

How To Make an American Quilt

How to Make an American Quilt is a novel by Whitney Otto, which chronicles the lives of 8 women in a weekly quilting group.  Its like a cross between "Sewing with Nancy" and "The Secret Life of Bees."  Intriguing!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hexagon Hell

This project reminds me of letting one's sister cut your hair.  One side looks funny so you take a little off the left.  It still looks crooked, so you take a little of the right....and so on.  Meanwhile your long hair gets shorter and shorter.  In this case, this project keeps getting bigger and bigger.  I'm trapped in Hexagon Hell and I can't get out!  LOL

Actually its a good thing I have this project to work on right now.  My sciatic nerve decided to act up.  As a result I can't stand, walk or sit for more that a few minutes at a time.  So mostly I have to stay horizontal or slightly propped up.  Been off work for several days, and I'm getting stir-crazy.  Day time TV is just abyssmal.  Better find a good book, so I can hunker down so I can mend. :)  

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hmong Quilt

I purchased this wall hanging at the Folk Fair in Milwaukee, WI, in the 1980s.  Though time has passed,  I'm STILL amazed at the intricacies of this work.  Below is a close up of the concentric spirals, done in reverse applique.  You can see every tiny, even stitch.  I wonder how many hours someone toiled on this project. 
For more info on Hmong needlework, see:

For more information about the Folk Fair in Milwaukee, see:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Olympic Rings...or Not?

Here are my Olympic Rings.  Hind sight being what it is... I should have made each ring out of 12 hexagons, rather than 6.  They look more like wanna-be flowers - which might not be a bad thing.  In that case I could add two more wanna-be's to the top, then make it a circular mini-quilt with traditional yellow centered flowers around the border. 

What I've learned so far:

1.  I need new glasses - ASAP.
2.  Buy premade hexagons.  Homemade templates may not be identical despite your best efforts.
3.  Masking tape works better than a thimble when hand-sewing.  I tape both thumbs.
4.  Consider buying Electric Quilts. 

I really enjoy sketching my quilt ideas, so I never considered buying the software.  But its got to be better than drawing a zillion hexagons, only to realize a different configuration would have been more effective.  So I signed up for a demonstration at my LQS at the end of the month.  So much to learn! :)