Thursday, September 27, 2012

Here's the Reason

Maybe you are wondering why in the world Mr. Moose Bay would agree to swap out our master bedroom and make it into a sewing room just for me. No, not because I am spoiled (well, maybe) but mostly because of this:

Wouldn't that clock back there look cute painted blue?
Just kidding Mr. Moose Bay!

That is my HQ16 quilting machine sitting in our dining room. For just about four years. Needless to say, we ate in the kitchen.  At the island snack bar. For just about four years. 

I bought my machine used at a quilt show for a great price, and I didn't really think about where it would fit in our house. It was going to be in the dining room temporarily until....well, we didn't have a plan for it to go anywhere. It was Mr. Moose Bay's idea (after about three years) to swap the master bedroom for the smaller guest room/sewing room (no guests would be able to fit in there anyway--see previous post).

I'll show you my HQ16 in her new home soon! 

Stellar Stars by Brandywine Designs
I named my version Prairie Stars in honor of the book title.
By the way, I neglected to tell you the designer of the blue and white quilt from my last post. It is from a book called Prairie Song  by Linda Hohag of  Brandywine Designs and the pattern is called Stellar Stars.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bedroom Swap

You probably have heard my story of how we swapped the master bedroom and my sewing room. I thought I would show you why it was necessary.

Warning: Some of these photos are disturbing--not for the faint of heart (or the neat freak)!

Obviously the doors to this closet were never closed. The blue check tablecloth would get
tacked over the opening with the flannel back facing out when I needed a design wall. 

This is the same closet after we did the "switcheroo". Mr. Moosebay keeps his things in this closet. Look! The doors close now! My stuff is still in the old master bedroom (now the sewing room). You can see we replaced the carpeting with hickory flooring, and painted all of the woodwork white. That's our ginormous king size bed in the foreground--a bit of a tight squeeze, but not too bad!

This is the south wall. Yeah, it's a disaster! That was my cutting table--it would take me a half hour to clear it off before I could use it. This is opposite the closet wall. The east wall is all windows. so no shelving possibilities there. On the west wall, I used to have a huge computer desk left over from my sales rep/home office days. We sold it on Craig's list when we started remodeling.
This is the same wall as above today. I hung my Prairie Stars quilt that I love, love, love. I saw Susie's version at retreat and had to make one for myself. Thanks Susie!

When I was getting tops quilted for our guild show in June, I didn't quilt anything in the center of the stars, in the hope that they would pop. They didn't, they pooched. My bad! Okay, I was also trying to save time so I could get to the next top that needed quilting. After the show, I put it back on my machine and added these goofy little feather flowers to the centers of each star--much better!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Quilter's Dread

I've managed to complete another block for A Bountiful Life. That makes five so far!

There are FIFTY leaves on this block!!! Only 2 shades of green, though.

I'm going to put my Barbara Brackman Grandmother's Choice blocks and my applique on hold for a while. Yes, I've heard those words every quilter dreads:

 "Will you hem up some pants for me?"

There are many more where these came from.
My Mom has osteoporosis and has become the Incredible Shrinking Woman. She needs  four inches taken off each pair of pants.

You can be sure I am eating lots of dairy and taking my calcium daily!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Trick or Treat Quilt

I'm working on the fifth block of my A Bountiful Life quilt, which I will show you when it's completed. I'm hoping that this project will be finished in months--not years! The last large applique quilt I worked on was my version of the Blackbird Designs "Trick or Treat" quilt from their book When a Cold Wind Blows. It took me YEARS to finish it--I think because it was so repetitious doing 291 of the same block. I really had to force myself to finish them, and somehow, when I finally was finished, I ended up with 5 extra baskets. I'm not sure how that happened--I must have been delirious!!

I did get a lot of mileage from those little baskets though! If you took an applique class from me at Colorz for Quilts, you will recognize them. I used them to demo the freezer paper/starch method many, many times. 

I liked the way the little bird ended up in this block.

This is the only block that doesn't have the little reverse applique center--I didn't have the heart to cut into the bird!
I outlined and stippled around all the baskets--soooo many starts and stops!! I quilted a "shadow " basket in the "blank" blocks-I think you can see it in the sampler fabric block in this photo. 
This is my border. I got lazy and just wanted to be done with the quilt, so I skipped the  border applique. To make it easy to advance the quilt on my HQ16, I did bead boarding and scallops with feathers inside of them.
I was so happy to be finished with this quilt and have it hang in the Pinetree Patchworkers Quilt Show this June. It won a ribbon, which was a huge thrill!

I couldn't back up far enough to get the entire quilt in the photo. With the
wide border, it is a king size quilt.
Since I used softer colors than the original, and finished it completely in May, I named it May Baskets.
I did kind of miss working on these little blocks after dinner--it got to be an evening ritual.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

And we're walking.....

Walking music here.

I took this photo two weeks ago and this flower was everywhere. I haven't seen them for a several days now.
Yesterday, when I got home from the Breezy Point Sew-In, I went for my walk. I realized that the wild flowers that were in abundance just 2 weeks ago, had been replaced by spewing milk weed pods, red sumac and lots of raggedy rag weed. I love my walking route mostly for the wild flowers along the way. In the spring there are blue flag iris and wild roses. In the summer, the scent of the milk weed and clover is like heaven. I hate to see it end, but look forward to it all starting over again.

This one is finished blooming too.

wild asters

There are still a lot of asters and some tansy hanging one despite the cold nights. This year seemed to be a good year for tansy--it was everywhere!

View of Pelican Lake and Gooseberry Island from the public beach. The island has a beautiful beach on the opposite side  from this view and is very popular in the summer despite the thousands of gulls that nest on the south end. There are some areas for camping on the north end that my sons and brother use quite often. The island is owned by the Breezy Point resort, but it has always been open to the public. See the pontoon boat buzzing by the north end of the island?  Every summer, two goats are placed on the island to eat the poison ivy!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Weekend Wrap Up

It's official--I'm old. I filled out my on-line application for Social Security this week--ack!

If you owned one of these when they were first popular, you may be old too!

I finally made a decision on my extra Temecula Star block and made a bow tie center. I used an alternate block to make the top a little larger and added a strip across the top to make a little space for applique.

Since hexagons are all the rage lately, I added some hexie flowers and leaves across the top. 

These aren't sewn down yet--just glued in place for now. 

I also finished my third Bountiful Life block and got the fourth one, The Robin's Nest, put together and ready to sew down. These blocks are so much fun!

Isn't he sweet-- a valentine and a Golden Delicious apple for his lady friend!

Just glued and ready to sew the pieces down. 

Too bad my arthritic wrist doesn't agree with all this appliqueing! To give the wrist a little rest, I decided to do some machine piecing and put together the first two Grandmother's Choice blocks from Barbara Brackman.  For some real inspiration, check out Karen Mowery's blocks here. She is printing her own fabric using Women's Rights motifs-they are wonderful!

These are eight inch blocks. I toyed with the idea of also doing a four inch version, but I think  I'm over  little quilts for  a while. I'm going to use my usual blues, tans and browns for this one.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Bird of Paradise Quilt

I love mysteries, so that is probably why I've always been intrigued by the Bird of Paradise Quilt. There's a lot of speculation as to the meaning of the quilt. Was it a wedding quilt? Does it commemorate someone's life? What's up with the elephant? Lots of questions!

There seem to be many pairs of fruits, birds, and animals and a woman, but no man. Interestingly, the quilt was found with templates, and one of them is a silhouette of a male figure. Some of the templates are made from newspaper dated during the Civil War, so perhaps the groom-to-be never made it to the wedding. Or maybe he ran off with the elephant show? We will never know, but it's fun to think about.

Earlier this year, Kansas City Star Co. published A Bountiful Life by Karen Mowery. There is a little history about the Bird of Paradise quilt, but for the most part, it's a pattern book. There are closeup photos and traceable patterns for each block, including a newly imagined suitor.

Last Sunday, I started making my version of A Bountiful Life. I've chosen 12 of my favorite blocks in the book to work on for a smaller version. It's lots of fun choosing the fabrics for the people--kind of like dressing dolls!

If you click on the link above for "A Bountiful Life", you can see some pages from the book--one of them is this lady.  You can see that I gave her a little cosmetic makeover. She has a new chin implant and a lovely Jane Eyre hairstyle. I'm thinking that I should have done some liposuction on those calves! 

There are some embroidery details that I haven't done yet, like the facial features and the fringe on this table cloth:

I changed the position of the table legs a bit to give it a little perspective. I am  limiting myself to using  fabrics from my collection of Jo Morton designs.
And this is the beginning of the missing man. Karen Mowery created a version of him in the book--he looks like he has come a-courting with a valentine for the lady and his trusty black lab.

I made a big pile of stems that you can see on the left. The pieces above are ironed onto  a double layer of C. Jenkins  freezer paper (thicker than the grocery store stuff). I am using the starch method of applique, so the edges will be pressed to the back, freezer paper removed, and then the applique pieces will be glued in place. I'm using Jillily Studio Appli-Glue (awesome!) and Karen Kay Buckley's Perfect Circles for the berries, grapes, etc.

C. Jenkins Freezer Paper: C. Jenkins Co.
Jillily Appli-Glue: Jillily Studio
Perfect Circles: Karen Kay

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Garden versus Deer

It's always fun to see these guys walking through the long as they keep walking.

This photo was taken last fall.
If only there was a way to tell them that  the gardens, shrubs and flowers 
are NOT planted for their dining pleasure!

There were some pretty hydrangeas here yesterday!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Am I really a winner?

I meant to get this out earlier, but I got side tracked by the umpteenth showing of Pride and Prejudice on Oxygen channel. I can't count how many times I've watched it, but if I see that it's on, I just have to watch! My favorite is the Colin Firth version, but I like the Keira Knightly one that Oxygen shows, as well.
We spent the afternoon doing the builders home show. It's the same idea as the Parade of Homes, but up here in the North, there are only 6 homes. We only go to the "over the top" homes, so that left 4 that we had to see. Those are my excuses for today.

Yesterday I picked up my new Go!Baby dies and mats that Susan ordered for me. It's a good thing I have some credit built up at the shop, because the Baby is going to cost me a fortune!

 This is my little Go!Baby fabric cutter that I won from Moda---it got here a couple weeks ago.
The Go!Baby does not come with any cutting dies or mats. It just sits there and looks cute. 

I did some research and found a whole list of dies from Accuquilt that work with the Go!Baby. I don't enjoy doing fusible applique, so that eliminated a lot of them. I like to cut my strips using the June Tailor Shape Cut,which is really fast and accurate. I finally decided on a couple dies to try out.

I've been wanting to make a tumbler quilt for ages (since I saw the gorgeous ones being worked on at the Green Lake Retreat).

I'm excited to try this out. It can cut 6 layers 3 at a time, so I would get 18 in one pass through
with corners already cut off to help with piecing.

 And I have on my bucket list the scrappy hourglass quilt that was on the cover of Sew Scrappy Vol. 2 from Better Homes and Gardens.

Look how many of these quarter square triangles I can get using 6 layers of fabric.
 The corners are trimmed on this shape, too! I can get that hourglass quilt cut out in about ten minutes, maybe?
Can you see that the die is tilted in the plate? I haven't figured out why it's like that--maybe the die goes
through at an angle? The instructions say the outside edges of the triangles will be on the straight of grain,
 so I guess I'll have to trust that it will work out that way.

Lastly, I got the Value Die--just because it was a good value-ha! It cuts 4.5 inch
squares, 2.5 inch half square triangles and 2.5 squares.  You can see the angle of the dies better here.
I don't get it. 
I've been working on a new applique project, so I probably won't try my Baby out for a while. In the meantime, she is patiently waiting.

"I'm ready--let's go!"

"We're ready too!"

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Scrap Organization

The first thing I did when I moved into my new sewing space, was to work on reining in my out-of control bags of fabric scraps. After I would finish a project, any leftover pieces that were too small to be considered yardage and too big to toss out, would go into plastic bags divided by color. I would dig through them when I needed a little piece for an applique project, but more was going into the bags than was going out--it was out of control!
During a Prairie Women's Sewing Circle meeting at Colorz for Quilts, our leader/teacher Karen DeVries, told us about her system of cutting strips and squares from her leftover fabrics. It seemed like something that would work for me, so this earlier this Spring, I got to work.

I use my Fiesta Ware boxes turned inside out to store my squares and strips--
an idea I borrowed from my friend Sandi.

I spent days and days pressing scraps and sorting them into piles that would be cut into strips and piles for squares. I had to buy an anti-fatigue mat because I was standing in one spot cutting for hours on end and my feet were dying! I decided that I wouldn't save anything less than 1.5 inches for squares, but I did cut one inch strips. The best part is going to my scrap boxes and pulling out already cut pieces for a project. All of the fabric (aside from the borders) I used  for my blocks in the 12 Days of Christmas quilt top 
(see here) came from my scrap boxes.

These are the scrap boxes labeled. The bottom tub is my container of  five inch charm squares.
I feel so organized now!  After I finish a project, if there is a piece less than a fat eighth, I cut it
into squares or strips, whatever is the most efficient use of the fabric piece.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Tale of the Tiny Turtles Part Two

Another little turtle has hatched. I've come to the conclusion that these little guys just have a death wish! Aren't they supposed to come with some sort of built-in radar that guides them to the water?

I found him (her?) wandering around in the middle of the road--waiting for the mailman , maybe?
You can see how tiny this little turtle is. We put him near the lake where, hopefully, he will  live a long life.