Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Work in Progress Wednesday and a tip

I've finished the machine quilting on my Australian circles and am doing a little handquilting inside the circles to highlight some of the motifs. That is almost finished too. Here's my Christmas gift quilt ready to quilt. I think it's pretty, although I worry a bit that it looks more like a quilt for a seven-year-old "princess" than an elderly lady. I'll just have to hope she likes it.

When I started to cut the backing yesterday, I discovered that I was short of fabric, and so remembered hearing at my retreat a couple of weeks ago about John Flynn's technique of using a bias seam in the backing. This allows you to use less fabric; so with nothing to lose, I tried it, and it worked.

Here's the process: You cut the backing fabric on the bias from corner to corner, making two triangles. (They're actually longer and skinnier than this, of course. A real blogger would have taken photographs of the fabric spread out on the living room floor, but I didn't think of it!)

Then you slide one triangle down enough to give you the width you need for your quilt and sew the bias seam together. And that's it.

John Flynn claims that the bias seam doesn't stretch in the quilt, and in fact the bias actually works better in a long-arm machine. I'll report again if there seem to be problems developing later, but for now, I'm pleased. I used a yard less fabric than I would have needed for a vertical seam, and there is almost no waste, just little triangle-shaped tips. I also don't know how to calculate the amount of fabric you need. I didn't see the show, and the friend who did, didn't remember. Maybe someone else knows.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Just a few Thanksgiving pictures. We had a quiet day, even though it started with a two and a half hour drive to Evanston.

Our host and hostess pose proudly,

and chef Karl displays his masterpiece.

Unfortunately, the pride was short-lived because when he started to carve red juice ran out! There was much ranting and fuming and gnashing of teeth, since at this point everyone was starving. But the cut pieces finished cooking quickly, and here the refreshed diners take a break before dessert.

Friday was actually more peaceful and pleasant. We did some very low key walking around downtown, which was quiet because everyone must have been at the malls, and in the afternoon watched Master and Commander on the large screen TV. Here the men are doing a few little chores, including putting up the ND flag for the game Saturday.

I've always found Thanksgiving stressful, not sure why, but this one was pleasant, perhaps with less emphasis on preparation on my end than usual. My busy son and daughter-in-law probably don't feel that way, but after all, it's their turn!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I have just prepared one of three dishes to take to my son's tomorrow: cider braised greens with chunks of apple, the recipe from Good Housekeeping. It's very good, and think about how healthy! (I usually don't taste, actually, but this time I did.) I'll also be making a pumpkin pie and a green bean dish, not the casserole. Cooking is much more fun when you don't do the whole meal, so I am very thankful for that! No quilt pictures today; back to kitchen, and then errands.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Stitch Regulator?

Does anyone know anything about the new fabric mover/stitch regulator attachments that are available for Vikings and Pfaffs? Bernina has had one for a while, but I think theirs is a bit different. I've looked at them, and think they MIGHT be wonderful, but I'm a bit sceptical. How well does that mover work with a large quilt? How hard is it to take off and on? (On the Viking, I bet it's a pain, since everything else is.) And don't you have to relearn how to do free motion stitching since the movement runs the stitching in a different way than ordinary free motion does? I tried one at the Chicago show, and was confused, although I do lots of free motion stitching (although not well). So is this thing a miracle or a boondoggle? I would like to hear an opinion from someone other than a salesperson. Anyone?

Friday, November 17, 2006

I Used to Know That...

When I look at the the beautiful embroidery stitches that people like Allison do, I'm awed. Then I found this crewel pillow that I made in 1975 (yes, it's signed and dated). It's a sampler of background filler and ornamental stitches, and I must say I'm proud of it. I found the idea in a book or magazine, but I changed it a great deal, including the color scheme. Funny, although these 70's shades look dated to me, the red color family combined with green is still one of my favorite color schemes. But the amazing thing to me is that I really could make all those stitches. Now I have no clue, and even if I found the book and reviewed, I don't think they'd turn out as well. Truly a past life!

On a completely unrelated topic: I have been machine quilting using Signature Threads Rainbows. It's 40 weight polyester, variegated. Very pretty, but it's so fine and slippery that I find the stitches coming undone unless I both backstitch and use small stitches at the beginning and end of the stitching rows. Just a word of warning.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Work in Progress Wednesday

Quilting underway on the Australian circle quilt--

Also I am thinking about making a Christmas gift for the dear woman I work with at the Soup Kitchen. It would be a quickie from one of the fat quarter books: pinwheels in various fabrics with background either same or various and a plain coordinating border. Here's one choice, pretty but dull:

This one I like better:

And if it were for me, I'd choose this, with print background:

But I have to remember that this lady is in her eighties, and the prints might be too much. My mother wouldn't like them. So I don't know. Also, there is the time available to be considered, so I will have to think about this, and decide quickly.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


I think I have switched to Beta--seems ok so far!

Chicago Quilt Expo

Yesterday I went to the Chicago Quilt Exposition, a Mancuso show, the Grand Finale of the World Quilt Competition. This show has been in Michigan in the past, and this is the first time it's been in Chicago, I think. They must have been disappointed with the turnout which was pretty slim for what's a good show. What I like about it is that the quilts are not the same ones that keep showing up at shows and in American magazines. The quality may not always be as good as at Paducah or Houston, but the variety is interesting. "Best of the World" was Wrought Iron Roses by Linda M. Roy, which I've seen pictured several times. Unfortunately I didn't take a picture, so you'll just have to take my word for it that the quilting is absolutely phenomenal. Here are some of my favorites, not winners.

First are South African quilts. We were there last year, so I particularly liked the one of South African trees, by Dee Oxborrow (I think), and the one called Zulu Kingdom by Jenny Williamson and Pat Parker. These images seem more "real" to me than the wild animal ones that people expect.

But who can resist a flowered warthog?

I'm so sorry I don't know who did this quilt.

There was a special exhibit by the Professional Art Quilt Alliance on the theme of water. These were fascinating. Here's my favorite, Rain on the Lanai, by Judy L. Clausen. The subtlety of this doesn't show up as well as I wish it did.

Another special exhibit was by Wendy Butler Burns, and this one is a favorite.

Other special exhibits included the Alzheimer's Forgetting Piece by Piece collection; a Hoffman Challenge group, including the dolls, which I've never seen before; a collection of Ann Fahl's quilts featuring her cat Oreo; and an exhibit by the Chicago School of Fusing (Laura Wasilowsi, Frieda Anderson, Melody Johnson and others).

And finally, for no reason except I like pink and yellow: Tivoli, by a New Zeeland quilter named Chris Behersing.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Last weekend I went on a guild retreat located at a church camp on a lake about an hour south of here. As usual it was a relaxing, but productive time. I only take brainless work to retreats and try to plan the projects I will work on so I don't have to pack and unload so much. Some people seem to bring their entire stash and collection of notions, but I'm too lazy for that. This works for me.

Last year we exchanged colorful nine patch blocks; here's one result of the exchange, and Nancy working on hers.

Denise had this quilt, without the applique, at our retreat two years ago, and someone asked her if it was a tablecloth. That has become a running joke, as it reappeared last year in slightly more advanced form, and this year, here it is, complete except for final step of binding.

Another tradition is the ugly fabric exchange. Here two members try, unsuccessfully, to make their ugly fabric look enticing.

I ended up with what was voted the ugliest fabric of all: a polyester knit snakeskin print; but after I used it to upholster the donor's chair late at night, she took it back. So you are spared the sight of it, except for this small piece used as swim trunks for the "mutant frog" utensil pouch that Ginny had spent several hours struggling with earlier in the day.

And finally, here I am, maybe working. Note the two chairs. Everything at this facility is great, except the chairs are too low. But this works well.

I arrived home very tired Sunday, planning on early to bed, but was reminded that we had tickets for an organ concert that night. I slept though most of it--but I would have even without the retreat!

An enjoyable weekend--not Houston, but fun!