Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Moving

I am sitting here in the middle of chaos wondering if I will be able to make order out of it. I am packing to move again. In 3 1/2 weeks we will be moving back to the apartment complex where we lived before, only this time it will be on the first floor.  Jack needs to be where there are no stairs. As long as there is a handrail I can handle stairs but I too will be happy with no stairs.

My sewing room is the holding area for all the boxes; so there will be no no sewing going on here. When I get together with my friends I do some cutting for the second Fancy Forest baby quilt but sewing it will have to wait until my sewing room is set up again.

  I am doing most of the packing myself.  I want to be able to find things when we unpack. Jack tapes the moving boxes and can lift the boxes if he doesn't have to carry them  to another room.  He will be packing his stuff that isn't clothing, all 2 boxes of it. Somehow everything else is mine. I do have help companionship while I work; Lucy keeps busy inspecting everything. In between inspecting she takes naps and washes herself.

If there is something different she has to try it out. Here she is napping on a piece of fabric she pulled down from the ironing board, under the shelf, on my cutting table which is piled up with things I was sorting through to pack, in a box I had taped for packing and in a bag of plastic grocery bags I was using to wrap small non breakable objects.

Though she has been considered my cat,(that means I clean the litter box) she will be staying here. I am going to miss her, she is such a fun cat.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Sad News

Early in August our family dog got sick and though he appeared to get better at first, he continued to have some problems. He had some digestive problems and on and off he wouldn't eat his regular food. We started cooking chicken and rice for him which seemed to agree with him and he was more like his old self, wanting to go for walks and fetch with his ball but he was having some bad days. Last Saturday he didn't eat all his dinner and just laid around and wouldn't move but he wagged his tail when we spoke to him. Sunday morning after he stumbled and fell and couldn't get up; my daughter and son in law took him to the vet and they had him put down.
Tux was a 10 years old Black Lab and  a great dog. He had a wonderful disposition and very good manners, he liked everyone, and he was cheerfully obedient from the time he was a puppy . He was amiably tolerant of the cats and visiting and neighbor dogs. He delighted in walking around the yard with his human companions  and in the woods beyond the yard.









Jack and Tux - 2 old dogs
He was happy and content just being around his people.  Everyone is going to miss him.








Monday, August 7, 2017

Fancy Forest is Done

I am so happy to have finished this quilt with a few days to spare. It has been a challenge and sometimes frustrating but I am pleased with the results.

Quilt and backing
The pattern was well written  and step by step it was easy to follow.  The difficulties I had were not the fault of the pattern.  It is a pattern that requires attention to everything, cutting, stitching, drawing diagonal lines on squares for connector corners (otherwise know as flip triangles).

I learned a few lessons that I will use when I make a second baby quilt from this pattern. Yes, I will make the second quilt.

1. When I cut the pieces for the blocks I will have a scanned and printed page with the cutting sizes that I can fold so that I am only looking instructions for each fabric in the block as I am cutting it.

2. Before I start to sew it together, I will lay out all the pieces for a block on a small design board and be sure I have all the pieces and understand where they go.

3. I will keep my work area clutter free and cat free.

4. I will not multitask when I am making the blocks.

5. I will make sure that I will not be interrupted in the middle of a block.

6. I will not dye my eyebrows.

Every quilt has a story and part of this quilt's story is one of an almost disaster. When my daughter and her friend do their hair they sometimes dye my eyebrows. I was getting ready to quilt the quilt which was layered up and pin basted. There was a scrap of the background fabric pinned on the batting on the side of the quilt for testing my stitch length and thread colors and I was ready to start testing my thread colors  when I was called to the other room for my eyebrow dye. Without any thought at all about the dye I went back to my sewing room and sat down and stitched some thread test rows. I looked at my hands and I had dark dye on my fingers. I washed my hands and looked the quilt over and  didn't see anything except a little bit of dye on the edge of the batting. I thought I dodged that bullet until I had quilted several blocks when I found  dye on the owl. I looked for any other spots and only found one that would be covered by the binding. My daughter said that is part of the story (She also said "I can't believe you were sewing with dye on your eyebrows").


As I finished all the quilting I thought about how I would fix this. In the end I machine appliqued a leaf over the spot on the owl.









There was no part of this quilt that I didn't have something to re cut, re sew or fix in some way. However the length of the binding strips when sewed together was absolutely perfect. It came together at the end with the exact overlap needed to make the diagonal joining seam. How often does that happen?

Anyway, that's the story!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

It's a Flimsy

Fancy Forest is a flimsy. It went together without any problems. I guess fixing every little problem as I went along paid off in the end. All of the blocks ended up the correct size except for the Firefly blocks and I knew I would have to fudge something there.  It turned out that I just had to remove a strip from the top of the block, easiest fix of all for this quilt.
I changed one block from my original plan. I moved the red Fox from above the purple Thistle to below it.  When I studied everything on my design wall I thought the purple Thistle and the purple wings on the Owl were too close together. I had already sewed the 2 left side rows together and I liked them they way they were. Moving the red Fox was easy and it moved the purple Thistle up enough to balance the color distribution. The Fox/Thistle rows are 6  inches wide and the other rows are 8 inches, that limited the options but I think it was a good fix.

I don't have anything in my stash for the back so a trip to the quilt shop is in order. I am not going to piece a backing for this one because I want to get started on the quilting. I want this ready for a baby shower on August 12.

I think I will make another one from this pattern after all. It is a good pattern even though it is a bit fiddly for me and my habits. It certainly made me sharpen my skills and my concentration.The next great grand child is not due until January so I will have time to make it if that is what I decide. I will use some of the some fabrics and use a different background. I have a busy 2or 3 months coming up but even if I don't squeeze in any big block of sewing time I should have time to make it. After all, I have good experience. LOL, I might be kidding myself about how much that experience matters.

 I will probably draw all of the blocks in Electric Quilt so I can play with the colors.  I drew the Firefly block in EQ before I made the second block. I could see different color options it helped me to see the fabric in colors I was using when I cut pieces.  I  use my EQ program for every quilt I make. I helps decide on colors to use, and color placement and I like being able play with all the options. EQ helps me to understand how to sew the blocks and see a better way sometimes and to try out all the "what ifs".  I didn't put the blocks in EQ before I started because I thought It would be too time consuming and after all, I had the pattern to follow. In fact, It was very easy to draw the Firefly block using the cutting directions from the pattern. So... another lesson learned.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Blocks Done!!!

I finished the last  Forest block this morning. I had so many problems with the Firefly block 2 days ago that I took yesterday off from sewing. The second block went much faster, as I expected it would.
I did have some problems with the lower wing units.  The pattern referred to Figure  12 twice. I think one time it was supposed to be Figure 11 because there was a Figure 11 shown. I sewed the patch on that strip corner to corner in the wrong direction. Into the wastebasket it went and I redid the right and left strips.
There are small differences in the blocks due to missing something in the directions about the top strip in the orange block. When I did the second block I read the directions correctly.  No matter, one is at the top of the quilt and the other at the bottom.  One is also slightly longer (top to bottom)  and that will be fixed with a bit wider strip of sashing.



Here are all the blocks arranged in the order they will be sewn.
It should be easy from here on. But who knows, I thought the Firefly blocks would be easy.

One Block to Go


 15.5 x 6.5 raw edge to raw edge
On Thursday I spent the whole day making one Butterfly Firefly block. Getting the name of the block wrong was only the first mistake. Not getting the name right didn't make the block more difficult but it is a good indication of the way I read directions. From there on it was one mistake after another. starting with the first 3 pieces I sewed together. It was actually 6 because it was the right and left of the first row of the wings. I cut the center patch an inch too short and of course I sewed both right and left and cut away the excess on the connector corners. Three rows later I found my mistake when I tried to figure out why the rows were different lengths. They went right into the waste basket and I cut new pieces and started over.  It didn't get any better after that, it was one thing after another, but I finished the block about 8 PM. I started out around 7 AM but I took a number of sanity breaks so I wasn't at it continuously. I thought this would be an easy block and it really should have been. I took today off from sewing and straightened up my work area. I even did some reading and I took a nap.



So, I have one more to go and if it works out like all the other blocks the second one should be faster and easier.
Here it is, kind of arranged on a design board that is propped up on my cutting table. The green background strips at the bottom go on the ends of the bottom 3 rows. This really looks confusing but I understand it.  I plan on finishing this block tomorrow. I will ban Lucy from my sewing room and if the door is closed maybe no one else will interrupt my train of thought.





Thursday, July 27, 2017

Goodby To The Best Iron I Ever Owned

Today my Hamilton Beach iron bit the dust. About 2 weeks ago Lucy somehow knocked my ironing board over and my iron went down with a bang.  I picked it up and  turned it on and it seemed fine. The button that you push for a shot of steam had been knocked out and I found it and put it back in place. I couldn't push it for a shot of stream because I didn't get it in right. Today, I needed the shot of steam because the iron was not doing the job.  I pried the button out out and got it back in right. All good to go - - - - or not! The iron wouldn't heat up and it wouldn't turn off with the OFF button, then all the High, Medium and Low buttons started flashing. I bought this iron in February 2010 and I loved this iron. I loved it so much I went looking for another Hamilton Beach iron and I found one I think I am going to love just as much, the Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital iron with a retractable cord.


Now I can get back to the Fancy Forest blocks. I was halfway through the second Owl block when  my iron quilt. I had to wait till after dinner to go to iron shopping but I finished the block and fell in love with the iron, Jack likes it too; he ironed his shirts while I sewed.

I saved the Owls for almost last because they are the most fiddly. The eye section, just below the ear section and above the body and wings section, has 38 pieces. Ten of those pieces are connector corners. However, this block went together easier than the others. by the time I got around to the owls I had found my way to be organized. I got out a smallish design board and propped it up on my cutting table and I cut the pieces from each fabric I put them up on the board in the way I would be sewing them together. It was also easier because I had started using printed cutting charts that I could fold to only see the section I was cutting and I could mark all the pieces as I cut them.

 I plan on cutting and sewing the 2 Butterfly blocks tomorrow.  I don't  know if I will make this again for the second baby quilt I need. A few days ago I would have say "NO Way" but now I think I might. I have more than enough fabric from what I bought for this quilt and lots more in my stash.
I can take my time making the next one because the baby isn't due till the end of January.
We'll see!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Fancy Forest Again

I finished the second Thistle block Sunday. Saturday night I had  re cut the background for the leaf section that . I had not cut all of the background pieces ahead of time and I am happy that I didn't. After looking at the wrong chart for the leaf section, I am taking extra care as I cut the pieces. I am scanning and printing the cutting charts and then folding them so that I am only seeing the section for what I am cutting from each fabric. I do learn from my mistakes.

It hasn't been easy to decide on the fabrics for each block. I am not sure about the leaf section of the block on the right. I want to repeat every fabric that I use at least once. After I make the Owl and Butterfly blocks will see if I want to keep that section or change it.

With each new block that I make the first one is slow and second one goes much faster. I am also taking much more care with the quarter inch seams and measuring each time I sew something together.  I fix each problem on the spot and it has made everything easier.



 I started the Hedgehog blocks yesterday; I finished the first one yesterday and the second one this morning, I only had to do one thing over on the first one due to drawing my diagonal line in the wrong direction for the outside strips. I did the same thing on the second block but caught it before I stitched it,





I have only 2 Owl blocks and 2 Butterfly blocks to make before I can put it all together. I am going to put what I have up on the design wall with the layout that I will be using; then I will make decisions about what fabrics I need to use for the rest of the blocks.
I feel as though I am on schedule for finishing in time for the shower on August 12.


Saturday, July 22, 2017

More Fancy Forest

I made the second Bunny block and it went faster and the mouth didn't need any "fixing up" with a Pigma pen.  That is a black thread  on the pink Bunny's left cheek. When I saw it on the photo I thought it was a mark on the fabric. I'm happy to know I don't have to replace that strip.







This is how I spent most of the day yesterday. I took a long sanity break in the  afternoon. I started on the leaf section (on the right) about 8 AM. For starters I had cut the the background pieces a quarter inch short. I was looking at the section with the instructions for cutting the Colorful fabric for the leaves and stem,my fault, not the pattern.
I unsewed the seams and recut the background, marked the diagonal lines for the connector corners and sewed again. Most were OK but I had strayed from the marked line and I had to fix some of the sections (more than once).  When I measure each of the 6 leaf sections, they were not all the same size. So I fixed that, unsew, resew, stitch another line to take up a seam, whatever it took; this pattern requires accuracy.
When I sewed the leaf sections on either side of the stem they didn't line up, unsew, resew, repeat. I settled for not perfect.
I adjusted the width of the horizontal section at the bottom of the flower section to allow for some discrepancy in the length of the flower and leaf sections and sewed it together.

OH NO!! The six leaf sections were wrong. I unsewed the leaf section  and I went shopping for 3 hours and we stopped for dinner on the way home. Once home and back to work, I took out the leaf  pieces for the second thistle block, of course the background pieces had to be re cut because background fabric was cut wrong for 2 blocks at the same time. The block, on the left, from there on was easy. I will use a different green when I cut the left leaf section for the second block again. I really don't like the green I initially chose for the block.
So I guess after all I would have discarded that block section anyway. I just wish I had not spent the whole day leading up to that decision.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Bunny Block

One Bunny block done and one to go. It is a good thing there are only 2 of these blocks instead of 4 like the Fox blocks. All the small or narrow pieces gave me problems. I had to unsew and resew too many times. When I was 3/4 of the way to being finished my sections didn't fit. They were all 1/4 inch too wide. I was sure my seams were accurate at 1/4 inch but with six seams across the ear section, even being of a few threads makes a difference.

Then there were the places were the points on the connector corners had to meet. I think all  of them are a little bit off.
The nose and the mouth caused me a lot of frustration. In the end, after 3 fixes I got out my black Pigma pen and fixed it up. After I got that strip done I sewed it to the eye strip, leaving out the strip in between. (It really was getting too late) My rule is if I have to rip something 3 times, I quit and come back later. This morning I unsewed the nose and mouth strip and finished the block.
From now on I am going to measure with each addition and fix the problems before proceeding.
I am going to start the second Bunny block and I hope taking extra care to be accurate as I go along will make it easier. I will make the owls next. I think after the owls the rest will be easier.

We'll see!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fancy Forest Foxes

Yesterday, I finished the 4 Fox blocks for the Fancy Forest baby quilt.  The first block didn't go very fast because my 1/4 inch seams were not so red hot accurate. I had to rip out some seams and I also had to re cut a few pieces. Accuracy really gets important when some of the pieces are 1 1/4 inches.  I think that the fact that I have done very little sewing or rotary cutting recently had made a difference. The last 3 blocks went quickly so I guess I sharpened my skills on the first block.


I did have a helper  observer while I was sewing. I wasn't aware that she had joined me until I looked up and there she was. I had hoped she would observe from a distance but she wanted to be right there where she could grab the thread or the pieces as they moved along.










This morning, I cut the pieces for the 2 Bunny blocks. Once again, Lucy paid me a visit and decided to take a nap on the pattern book from which I was working. There many pieces to cut;  different widths and lengths and different numbers of each one to cut. I moved her a couple of times and finally decided to take a break. When I got back to it later, I found that I had cut some of the pieces the wrong size and not enough of some pieces and more than enough of others. I had to sort it all out and get it organized. This is a pattern  that requires one's undivided attention when cutting. Taking a break in the middle of working on it didn't work so well.




The instructions said to cut all the sashing strips from the background fabric before cutting the pieces for the Thistle blocks. As soon as I started cutting the background, Lucy joined me again and settled down on my long cutting ruler. I gave her some chin scratches and a massage and ruffled her fur before I banished her from the sewing room while I cut all the background fabric pieces for the rest of the quilt.
Tomorrow I will sew the 2 Bunny blocks; there are a lot of little fiddly pieces. I will be sure to close the door to the sewing room,


Monday, July 10, 2017

Baby Quilts

We are expecting 2 more great grand children this fall so, of course I need to make 2 baby quilts.
I considered something simple that I could strip piece or maybe an I Spy disappearing 9 patch.



After a trip to the quilt shop I decided on an Elizabeth Hartman pattern. This is the pattern for a twin bed quilt but I will only be making a quadrant of this. She gives the instructions for cutting and for yardage for the smaller size. the shop owner at the "Quilted Thimble"  had made the shop sample and assured me the piecing would be easy as all of the measurements were spot on.

I seldom buy patterns because I always change how I want to use them. This pattern sample just looked to cute to pass up and I was ready to do something different.












This is one quadrant and probably the one I will be using.









This is what I purchased so far, the green background fabric and some of the fat quarters I need. I know I want some yellow and orange. I will also be using black for the features the way it is used in the pattern.


It was hard for me to pick ten fabrics I need for the motifs. I need to pull some from my stash and I need to make some of the blocks before I look for more fabric.




I know I will make one quilt for sure and I think I will make both of them from this pattern. We'll see how it goes. I am going to have to get busy as one baby shower is on August 12.