The Traverse Quilt is Basted

I put her on the longarm yesterday, after prepping and ironing her backing and trimming the batting. It took all afternoon, so no work happened on my two new projects that are filling up the design wall.

I can set my machine to a VERY big stitch. When I am longarm quilting a quilt, I follow this same process, but just baste down the edges as I go–so the longarm needle plate does not get caught in the fabric at the edge of the quilt. Believe me, that creates a terrible mess. And, sometimes, at least once for me, a hole in the quilt. For a regular quilt I just sew straight lines across the quilt, and I measure the distance of the sides to the quilt frame to make sure the quilt stays even on its backing and batting.

But with a quilt I want to hand quilt, I make big curvy swirls as they will really hold down the fabric. The top might look a little puffy, but trust me, it is tight to the backing and batting as that is the gift of the longarm basting.

Here she is–and remember the camera distorts…

I have a whole little bin of Sulky 12-weight threads in so many lovely colors. And I want to use a lot of thread color in this quilt–probably to match the colors in the quilt. These are “little” spools that are very inexpensive at Red Rock Threads–under $3 each the last time I looked.

Tara Faughnan also likes Wonderful 12-weight “Spaghetti” threads, and she has a lovely package of them in her shop. I ordered it as I’d like to try the Wonderful 12-weight threads. Those two big spools are threads I’ve had for years, for decades actually, that I bought for a quilting project when I wanted a thick-thread look.

I won’t let myself start quilting this quilt, although my fingers are itching to start it, especially after taking Tara’s online class on hand quilting, where I got a much-needed refresher on hand quilting. I’m going to practice delayed gratification until I get the quilt from hell all together–and except for its borders, I’m close to that moment. Yeah!

Quilty Play Time

Traverse is waiting for me to put her on the longarm to baste her layers, but I’ve digressed to quilty playing for a bit.

Almost two decades ago I bought this kit from the now-closed Mainely Sewing quilt shop. Actually I bought TWO kits as I wanted to make a quilt that was wider than one kit allowed. The main fabrics are Kaffe Fasset RED florals.

The sashing is an Alexander Henry pattern from 2008. And it is fine, as is the above pattern. But why didn’t I make this project back in the day? I don’t really know. I do remember that I wanted to make a RED quilt.

But I’ve moved on and changed with my quilting–becoming much more interested in modern quilts and the modern traditional category–both of which are simpler and often very graphic. So, how to use these red floral fabrics? I’m determined to wipe out all the saved projects I have–and I’m moving right along on that effort.

First, the pink sashing went into the stash–and I pulled out solid scraps that needed to be used. And here is what is growing on the design wall.

The blocks finish at 10 inches. And I’ll use a solid for a narrow sashing. I won’t use borders–I’ll take the blocks out to the border and use the narrow sashing as a finish–with no corner stones. Maybe the binding will be one of the red florals? I have a hunk of one fabric that…strangely…is cut on a bias and it might work. Seven 10-inch blocks by 8 blocks would make a nice-size quilt.

I don’t know the sashing color yet. Maybe a lime green? There is a lot of bright green these fabrics.

Meanwhile, I’m also cutting and making half-square triangles from the solid scraps. And, playing with this idea, which would make a 20-inch block. Perhaps that rose sashing needs to be brighter? I saw a quilt Tara Faughnan made, using this kind of a block, and it is so fun. Her creativity knows no bounds. For sure. The squares on the right are for the next big block so I won’t repeat blocks in this first one.

Yesterday was a grilled lamb chop and roasted squash day–zucchini, yellow squash, sweet onion, carrots sliced thin, and fresh herbs from the garden. I should have added some garlic chopped fine too. Next time. ***I’ve learned from son Mike NOT to roast these tender squashes very long in the oven or they get mushy. Just 20 minutes in a hot oven. Then just broil them for a few minutes.

I can’t wait to get back to my studio upstairs today! But I have some errands to run first. And cooking for the day as well, though I have more of the squash mixture.

The Traverse Quilt Top is Finished

Tara Faughnan designed Traverse and Sewtopia hosted the project, which ran as a block-of-the-month project, starting early fall last year. I chose this version, made with Windham’s Artisan Cottons (shot cottons). Those fabrics…glow. As usual, when I work with Tara Faughnan, I learn so much. And I continue to love her design work.

Somehow I’ve never learned the trick of getting my cell phone NOT to distort a quilt picture so the bottoms always look like they are not as wide as the tops.

I took Tara Faughnan’s “on demand” online class about hand quilting last week. She pretty much hand quilts all of her work. (I don’t know how she has the necessary time, but like me with hand work at night, she finds hand quilting can sooth away one’s stresses.)

I’ve hand quilted for decades now, and in more recent years gravitated to thicker threads and bigger stitches. But in both methods, I’ve never been terribly good about getting my back stitches to be even like the front ones. Busy backing fabrics help hide that lack, but Tara pretty much works in all solids, and her quilt backs are as pretty as her fronts!

Can I just say I learned so much with this hand quilting update. Like me with these bigger threads, she does not use a hoop. And it was so good to see how she uses her hands and her thimble. I’ve learned a lot of new information about using the thicker threads I’ve grown to love for these projects; which of these threads work best; and which needles, thimbles, and thread conditioners work best. (I’ve gotten some new thimbles and a new thread conditioner which I love already.)

The other issue is what solid backings make hand quilting easier as they have a lighter base–so I ordered a Michael Miller Couture Cotton backing in a beautiful teal color. And I chose Dream Cotton’s lightest backing–Request.

So, yes, I’m going to hand quilt Traverse–after I put it on the longarm and baste it. And after I make myself finish the last row of the “quilt from hell,” join the two big pieces, and set up the final border, which will be much easier than all the curves in the quilt. And, yes, I’ll hand quilt it too when it is done.

Finally, one bunch of grocery store flowers fixed these two empty pots on the porch which were begging to be used. I could hardly walk past them as they were screaming at me…so loudly too.

And a friend brought me these lovely beauties Tuesday.

Grandson Kelly graduates high school today. The family is now gathering for that event.

Go Kelly!

“Eye Candy No. 5” Quilt

I really love this quilt. It is the last of my Churn Dash block series–with fabrics made from the Cotton+Steel/Ruby Star Society stash I had collected and which I cut into strips about three years back so as to USE these fabrics. This is my 211th quilt.

I love this backing–bought with birthday money last year from Bryan and Corinne. It’s a current Sarah Watts fabric called “Firefly Nature Forest Owls on Ash.” It’s from Ruby Star Society, the new group created by this group of designers who once went under the “Cotton+Steel” name.

The pantograph is “Whirlwind” (Urban Elements)–and its swirls are so lovely on this quilt. The quilting here is awesome, if I do say so myself, as the Innova stitch is just perfect all the way over the quilt. That’s probably due to Innova’s visit with Rob Engime at Olde City Quilts, Burlington, New Jersey, while I moved. I know he worked on Innova while she was there–just making sure all was tip-top with her. I quilted with a light and soft sea green/blue thread from Signature cotton threads. That color choice worked well too.

Most of the blocks are just color combinations I thought pretty–gleaned from the last of these fabrics which I had cut into strips. A few centers are fussy cut, but not many. And I love, love, love the black and white striped binding–always a favorite of mine for quilts that will support it. This quilt does.

Here’s another corner.

And a picture from the middle of the quilt. I’ll use this picture for the cards I make using inserted pictures of my quilts into a photo card.

The Placemat Project is Done

And I so enjoyed making these placemats–which used up the blueberry fabrics in my stash, along with A LOT of the solid fabrics–AND the project let me experiment with different placemat methods of construction. It is nice to have some small projects to make that finish quickly…depending upon how MANY one decides to make.

There are 27 blueberry placemats–and there are homes for a chunk of them already. Two of these are going to Bryan’s family–to go with the 6 funky placemats which started this whole project.

So, altogether there are 33 finished placemats. All the backs are different. And I always stitched some lines in each one when I sewed around the edges–to keep the backing fabric well connected to its front. Each placemat is quilted with improv wavy lines.

I did put some of the striped fabric I had kept with the blueberry fabrics on a few of these placemats, and those are handsome, but WAY more work.

To remind, here are the six funky placemats where I experimented with different construction methods. Each method has its strong points, for sure.

ALL of these placemats and their napkins will wash and wear for DECADES. I know because I sent old placemats I made 30 years or so ago to Good Will when I left Maine. They were soft and comforting, but not worn enough to throw away. I did bring one set to see me through until I had time to make some new placemats here.

Now, the Traverse BOM (block of the month) quilt is waiting for me on the design wall. To remind, this quilt is designed by Tara Faughnan and my project is hosted by Sewtopia. (I just downloaded a hand quilting online on-demand class Tara Faughnan is running on her web site–as I want to hand quilt Traverse and the quilt from hell when it is ready. I’ve done a lot of hand quilting over the years, but it will be good to see what Tara Faughnan does.)

And I only have about two more nights to go before I finish the binding on the last of the Churn Dash quilts from the Cotton+Steel/Ruby Star Society project. I do have other scraps that are cut into useable pieces that will make up into…something…down the road. But for now, I’m moving on to other projects.

Sounds like a plan.

Dentist Morning

I am slow to post today as I spent the morning at the dentist.

When I got home my mouth was still to numb to eat, so I finished sewing in the 3rd block of 6 to the last row of the “quilt from hell,” which is easily 5 or 6 years in the making now. It feels like that amount of time anyway.

But, I’m seeing the end in sight now, though I’m NOT looking forward to joining these three rows to the other three. I don’t know… It’s feeling like this quilt needs to be hand quilted too. If so, it’s a good thing I can put it on Innova the longarm to baste it.

Dinner on the porch with a mouth that could safely chew again was mostly leftovers: grilled chicken thighs, roasted broccoli and zucchini squash, and some buttered black rice noodles I did cook as I am out of sprouted brown rice. (*Note to self. Again.)

One of these thighs went back in the refrigerator for supper as two was one too many.

I love, love my new dentist. SHE (the first time with a woman dentist for me) is awesome, gentle, kind, careful, not hurried, has small hands which fit much better inside my mouth, has empathy, is a perfectionist with tons of patience, and I could go on. My mouth was a mess after the CDC shut down the dentist offices during the worst of the covid hysteria and then dentists had a huge backlog. I now have old teeth, old crowns, old fillings, and new cavities.

But I also have a NEW dentist that I like and trust.

I kind of feel like I’m living through the Rascal Flatt’s song, “Northern Star.” All the roads led straight to…her…when I needed…her…and her assistant Caroline.

Blueberry Placemats

And, napkins.

I am loving using the stack of blueberry fabrics I bought when we first moved to Maine in 2004. I thought at one time about a quilt with a house block made with the blueberry fabrics. But I never slowed down to try a sample block. I think now that making placemats and napkins which go with them is the perfect way to use this fabric.

I seem to have two kinds of blueberry fabrics–and probably collected the different ones along the way after moving to Maine–but I’ve had them all for a long, long time. And now that fabric stack is on my cutting table, all cut up and organized for the placemats.

Here are the six I have completed–made from one type of fabric in my stash.

I may replace the one napkin that matches its placemat. But, I might not either. Time will tell. The bigger napkins made with the solid fabrics require a 20-inch square start, which is a big hunk of fabric out of a one-yard piece. But, they are lovely and feel good in the hand. Plus, Kona solids are reasonable priced.

I like the striped binding on one of these placemats–and I have more of that binding cut and ready. That placemat is made in the traditional way–three layers that are quilted, then bound. The others are made with the turning opening on the back, after quilting the top and batting layers–just improv wavy lines. I then make at least two wavy lines that go through all the layers so the back will remain in place when washed.

I have my older Janome set up with a walking foot, which I’m really enjoying for the quilting on these placemats and for installing binding. I’m using that machine a lot. It’s easy enough to move the thread I need for various tasks from my primary Janome machine to the older Janome–much easier than constantly installing a walking foot on the newer Janome.

Now I’m starting on the other blueberry fabrics–which are softer and less bold in color–and after making some will decide if they will go with these first six in any kind of scrappy way. That could be interesting. Some of these next placemats will have printed fabric napkins.

I finished the next block on the quilt from hell last night and will sew it into the big piece and set up another block–the 4th of 6, so I’m over the hump on this last row.

Progress in various ways…is happening…which makes me happy.

And, It’s Another Monday

We have a very pretty morning here today. The strong wind is gone now, and low tide is the middle of the day, so there may be a walk on the beach. I’m definitely mailing the two quilts to Wyoming first thing.

“Eye Candy No. 5” came off the long arm yesterday afternoon and got trimmed. This quilt will end the Churn Dash series.

I love the backing–Ruby Star Society’s Sarah Watts: Firefly Nature Forest Owls on Ash.

I’m really happy with the quilting texture.

I used a curvy pantograph.

Later today I’ll bind this quilt, but I won’t start stitching down the binding until I finish a block on the quilt from hell and set up another one. I want to just move that project along, no matter how slowly.

I’m watching SWEET TOOTH on tv, Netflix. It’s interesting. It might be too scary for my 8-year old granddaughter though. And there is violence as there are very bad people who must be…stopped…from what they are doing.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

“Wyoming Stars” Quilt

I finished the binding last night. I took photos and rechecked for any missed loose threads this morning. Now both the “Wyoming” quilts are in the wash as these two tops were completed and organized for the longarm in Maine and were stored in bins during the move, which necessitated storing in a warehouse in Maine for some weeks over Christmas and New Year’s while the house in Maine and the house in Charleston closed.

The fabrics are mostly from the Cotton+Steel/Ruby Star Society designers, and the patterns is a star block that is traditional. I like the way it also makes big x’s along the way as well–and all sorts of other interesting secondary patterns.

The backing is scrappy–and all Cotton + Steel. I used a soft seafoam blue/green thread, and the pantograph is Deb’s Swirls, available on Urban Elementz. I really like the texture this panto creates. This is my 209th quilt, and the “Wyoming Mountain Crossings” is the 210th.

Here’s a close-up of the traditional star. One can vary how to manipulate the color in the middle of the star of course.

After these two quilts are dried, I’ll let them sit until Monday to mail them. I don’t want any moisture to remain in the quilts before packing them up to mail. It’s a long way to Wyoming and will take UPS some days to deliver them there.

The Churn Dash quilt is on the longarm, waiting patiently for me to finish planting new plants bought this week–and to play with the placemats under construction which is more possible when I’m tired and have only a small sewing window.

It’s Monday Again

How did that happen?

The last Churn Dash quilt is off the design wall–and I spent some of the weekend prepping it for the longarm: backing and batting are sewn and ironed, and binding strips and label are cut.

It’s scrappy cute–made 99% from the Cotton+Steel/Ruby Star Society project of the last three years–information which I seem to be repeating endlessly here. It’s a good thing this quilt is the last big project made with these fabrics.

I threw the finished rows of the Traverse BOM project up on the design wall–Tara Faughnan designer–without much of an attempt to line up the rows. I have the fabric to finish this quilt now, so will start sewing the remaining rows this week.

And, I will play more with placemats, using the blueberry fabrics I unearthed from the stash. Gosh it feels good to be tackling the stored sewing projects/fabrics now. I feel like I’m making real progress on whittling down the stash. Having some small projects to work on here and there is gratifying, as one sees immediate results.

My kitchen lights came–and with family help they got put together and installed Saturday. That was a true labor of love, let me tell you, as there was a switch issue and a ceiling hole issue. Plus, the lights are up over the kitchen bar, so one can’t reach them easily from a ladder. One has to get on the kitchen bar.

The lights are beautiful.

And another view:

As you can see in the picture, two of the holes in the ceiling were cut too big for the standard 4 1/2 inch ceiling plate. So there will have to a solution for that problem. And the switch that activated the hanging lights WAS activating the under-the-counter kitchen light dimmers. And the far right junction box up in the ceiling is not stable–so the far right light is not hanging straight.

These lights will also dim, but that’s above the family pay grade. So this morning I asked a local electrician–recommended by the light store and who did connect with me last week–to come and sort out the junction box, the switches, and to make sure the lights are ok. Maybe he’ll be able to connect one of the available switches to dim the hanging lights too. AND, maybe he’ll have some sort of cosmetic plate to conceal the ceiling damage–otherwise the builder will have to repair it. In any case, the family helped so much by putting the lights together and figuring out how low to hang them.

Life is part glorious and part messy, isn’t it?

Today is cooler, but meant to be pleasant with sun and clouds. So I’ll probably take my hanging-light worries to the beach. Mid-low-tide will happen around 3 pm.