Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

Hard to believe so much time has gone by since my last post.  I think of posting, but something always seems to get in the way. I won't begin to suggest that anything will change, but one never knows.

One of my recent quilt finishes was an antique quilt that I repaired for a friend.  It was in my possession for quite some time... I almost forgot about it.  When I would come across it in the closet, I would look in the bag and shudder to think what it might take to get it done.  Well a few weeks ago I determined it was time to take the bull by the horns and tackle the task at hand.  I was not close to being knowledgeable about the best way to go about repairing an old quilt, but I gave it my best shot. This quilt was originally all done by hand.  I had to remove all the quilting to dispose of all the wadded batting.  The edge of the backing was pretty much threadbare, as well as many of the pieces on the front.  I replaced the pieces on the front that had big holes. I tried to find fabric scraps from my stash that would not stand out too much, and reinforced the back of some other pieces with a fusible stabilizer to try to retain as much of the original as possible.   I could not use any of the original border, but I was able to use the good spots of the backing to make the new border for the front.  The quilt has a new backing to make it possible to display this quilt instead of wasting away hidden in a bag.

My new longarm has a much bigger quilting space than my previous machine did, but my old side clamps that I had made worked fine, so I decided it was fine to continue using them.  Main thing I did not like about these clamps is it required pinning the fabric to the backing... that is 7 big hat pins on each end that often left me with a pricked finger. In a forum for my Innova there was talk about side clamps with a couple suggestions.  I took the info and came up with my version.  The main item I needed to purchase was this Quilt 'n Go lap frame that I bought at JoAnn's. This kit would not make a clamp that was long enough, so I bought a longer CPVC pipe to cut into two - 21" pieces. 
The key part is the snap-on clamp that holds the fabric to the pipe. These snap-on clamps are only 9.5" long, so two on each pipe works great.  I ran bungee cord through the pipe and attached it to the side of the frame.  The picture shows elbows on the end of the pipe, but I'm thinking they really are not necessary.  They can easily be removed.  Also, once I have some experience with these, I may determine that the pipe does not need to be quite as long.  Easier to make something shorter than longer.  I have not actually loaded a quilt to try these out, but the backing appears to be nice and snug.  You can see my previous fabric side clamp with the pins on the table.  I will hold onto them... for a little while anyhow.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Quilts on Thursday

Quilting has been in the forefront the last few weeks.  I have finished three quilts that would not have been possible on my previous machine.  Now I am not saying that machine did not serve me well.  It was a great machine... it is just that this new amazing Innova with a 26" throat is simply the best I could have dreamed about having.  I have also finished several smaller quilts.  I am having fun getting used to this new adventure in quilting.  

This quilt was sent to me without the backing because I have lots of fabric in my stash, and I just knew that I could find one that would work. 

What I didn't know was how perfectly this fabric would work.  The next question I got when she saw the finished pictures was... "what will I use to bind it?"  The very same day I was reading an article about alternative binding techniques.  I sewed up a sample then sent the link along with the sample.  My suggestion to her was to use the scraps from the backing, which I sent also.  I think it will work very nicely.

This is a facing binding.  I never would have thought of doing it this way.  Of course this binding would have to be hand sewn down, unless you didn't care if a line of stitching showed on the front side.  The beauty of this technique is nothing takes the focus away from the quilt.  So often the binding pulls your attention to the edge of the quilt.  It does not provide as much reinforcement to the edge... your seam is right there.  It may not be the best choice on many quilts, but it is definitely one that I will use now and then.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Late summer garden and flowers

It is amazing how quickly things can grow in your garden when the conditions are good. If you scroll down, it was just a few short weeks ago that these tomato plants were hardly visible, now they are popping out the top.  I added a bigger shade screen to all the beds because the sun really does get hot up there in the garden. 

I have beans coming along and bell peppers at the other end.  All of these beds were planted at the end of July. In a couple weeks I will begin planting my Fall and Winter plants. 

Moon flowers are beautiful.  Even though their blossoms last less than one day, new blossoms open almost every day.  This is a volunteer.  I'm hoping the seeds I spread closer to the house will take hold.

My Angel Trumpets have many of the same characteristics as the Moon Flower, but I have these in my flowerbed by the patio.

Shorty is trying to stay cool on a hot afternoon. Totally relaxed.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Where did August go?

Lots of things have been going on.  I guess the first and biggest event of the month of August was the arrival of Sara Jean... my new longarm.
I have already lost count on how many quilts I have completed on this new machine.  The whole process seems to move along much quicker, from loading the quilts using my Red Snappers to having to roll the quilts half as many times.  I can run at a higher speed without losing the quality of my stitching. 
 This quilt was more than 104" in both directions and it moved along very quick and smooth.  I had it done in time for the quilter to take it with her on our Jordan Ranch retreat to put the binding on.  She even was able to finish the two pillow shams she made to go with the quilt.

As I have been doing my quilting on this new setup Ron often observes and determines if there is any way to modify things to make the process move more smoothly.  Things are looking and working pretty good in the quilting room.

Jordan Ranch was an awesome experience.  This retreat is an annual event for a group of quilters from the Bellville area, and one of their former members now lives in my area and a couple of us were invited to join these creative quilters.  The Ranch is set in a rural area, away from almost everything.  A truly Texas setting. 
I started off my days there with a walk, and through the day I often had a couple ladies join me for a quick walk to get away from sitting at our sewing machines.  One morning MB and I saw a double rainbow.

I tried to keep my quilting fairly basic on this retreat. These quilts went together with minimal effort. Neither of them has a destination, but I think they both turned out very nice. I worked on a couple other blocks, but these two tops were started and finished while there. The invitation to this retreat gave me an opportunity to meet a great group of ladies and I look forward to joining them again next year. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Almost Friday again

Sometimes it is difficult to remember what I did yesterday.  Not to say that anyone else would think I have an interesting life, but my days just seem to blur together at times... was that Tuesday or Wednesday... or maybe it was Monday.  We had a good group at quilting on Monday and among other things, I did a demo on a paper pieced block.  A couple ladies were not sure just how that was done.

On Monday, everyone was busy with one project or another. Baby quilts are always fun to see how creative we can become... and how beautiful. 

Tuesday was a road trip to Giddings where five of us gathered to visit three different quilt shops.  Of course we had a wonderful lunch at a little cafe called Reba's.  I am not sure just how much fabric had a special purpose... a designated project, but lots of fabric was bought and a whole lot of it found its way to my sewing room "stash".  That would mean that I did not buy any fabric for a specific project... just fabric I encountered that I just had to bring home.

I bought a few neutrals that I am always needing for sashing or whatever, and a couple for possible backings, but the three, kind of on the right, I thought were super finds.  I don't know what I will do with them, but when I saw them and the tag said they were bamboo, I had to feel what bamboo felt like, and then I just had to have some... it is sooo soft.  This fabric would make some awesome pillowcases.  I didn't get to bring one of the tags home, but the selvedge said the fabric was from Hoffman California.  Looking on their website I could not find this fabric... I was hoping to find more so I could buy some coordinating solids to go with these.  That is OK, I will work with what I have.

The colorful striped fabric on the left is not especially pretty, but I saw it and thought it would make interesting binding. 

 All I know is that I found alot of really nice fabric and all of it was on sale. That was why we went to Giddings... all three shops had a good sale happening.

Tomatoes that you want to have in your Fall garden are supposed to be in the ground by the end of July.  I guess I was pushing it to the limit... but I made it... my tomatoes are planted, and I even got the sun shade put up over them.  Ron reminded me that it was good to get the cages around them while they are still little.  Now all I have to remember to do is the watering.

Fluffer doesn't always get alot of attention, but then that is usually because she is typically in the background staying pretty aloof. Every so often she curls up next to me and is real lovey.  She can purr as loud as any kitty I have been around.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

August just ahead

Big things are happening at our house.  We ordered my new longarm that will not be arriving for another couple weeks, and I am not excited or anything.  One of the first things we had to do was make room for the new machine which will take up much more space than my previous machine.  We had to actually change from one area of the shop and clear the space around the corner where the room is much wider.  My new machine will have a 26" throat which is only 8" more than I had, but it will be close to the difference I saw when I moved from my original  domestic machine set up on a Grace frame to my Tin Lizzie that was on a different Grace frame. The new machine is an Innova.  The frame has no wood like the Grace frames.  It will be a totally new experience.

After our almost move back to Ohio it was a little late to get into gardening.  It was the time it took to unpack and re-setup our household that got in the way of any hope of a Spring garden.  We did a really good job of reorganizing and having the house start to look familiar again, but weeds and heat seemed to get out of hand.  Well the end of July is when it is time to put in your Fall tomatoes. Getting into pulling weeds was not a fun thought... but I knew I had to get started, so I gave it a good shot this past week. Still a bit to go, but you can actually walk between the beds now.  The weeds in the back were so high you couldn't see the fence on the other side.  We bought some good compost to amend the soil with and a few tomato plants... maybe by the end of the week they can be planted in one of the beds.

This little cart was a really good find at Sam's.  We have 4 big rainwater tanks that will allow us to keep up on our watering, but a pump is necessary to get the water out efficiently.  Gravity feed works very slow.  We put a quick connect on the pump which will allow me to move the hose where I need it and with this cart, not worry about kinked hoses and tripping over the pump.  Never know what you might find when you go into Sam's.

We actually sold my Tin Lizzie, so I am not able to get any quilting done right now, but I am trying to organize the quilts I have done that have been waiting to get quilted.  I will have lots ready to get going on that new machine when it arrives.  The dinosaur quilt will be among those I get to first... of course it won't be the very first as it takes a couple quilts to get used to a new setup and wouldn't want to mess up on this special quilt.  This isn't a very good picture, but it does show the progress.

Boston and Shorty are enjoying the comforts of the deck.