Mar 27, 2011

By The Hundreds....

I have been continuing along on my cutting/sewing/trimming journey. Hundreds of half-square triangles. Hundreds, seriously, these are just some of the ones for the current block I am working on.

After pressing, and more pressing and then pressing some more, I am ready to trim another round of HSTs. This was where I happened upon a great stroke of luck. Years ago, a friend out in the Chicago area sent me the most wonderful square up tool for half-square triangles (yes, Dawn, that would be you!). I happened to find it again, going through my large tool basket looking for my Easy Angle. Found both that and the Groovy 4 ruler as well. You can see it here in this photo of trimmed blocks.

What makes this tool so useful is that it has a groove along the diagonal that corresponds with the diagonal sewn while making HSTs. When you set the tool on your block to be trimmed, the grove hugs the diagonal tightly and you can trim with ease (read a review here). I think that it really helps in making my blocks more true, and I seem to be zipping right along-at least with the squaring up portion of each block. This weekend, as time permitted, I was in the sewing room working on this project (2010's Web Sampler) while I wait for my next installment of Patriots in Petticoats. I will be alternating the piecing of the sampler, PIP and my Civil War Tribute blocks. It keeps the interest level up and running, and gives me a rest from the CWT- which can make me totally crazy some days!

In my last post, I mentioned sewing a block totally wrong, and wondered if I should pull it all apart and "do it right". Now that I see the blocks filling up my smaller design wall, I am not so eager to pull out the industrial strength seam ripper. I'm thinking who would know (other than other sampler makers) which block is the "oops" block.
What happens in the end remains to be seen- but I am enjoying this process. Here's a peek so far:

This could be the end of a daily sewing session for me. This week is going to be quite busy, and Friday I return to work. Spring is around the corner, I hope, and that means inside and outside work to be done. I guess I will have to play with the idea of getting up earlier (nah....) or making time whenever I get home. This daily sewing thing has taken hold, and I'm not so eager to give it up!

Mar 25, 2011

I Might Be Doing This Backwards!

I have been taking time each morning to cut fabrics for one block to work on when I get home and settled at night. Wednesday A.M. I cut to begin sewing these:

Sewed my little heart out that night and finished this block:

So, I thought to my smug little self. This system could really work! Just think of all I could get finished if I could sew a block a day. Notice the operative word in this sentence is smug! So Thursday morning I made sure to cut for another block of this same project. All the pieces were waiting for me last evening when I sauntered up to the sewing room and began to sew. The process of putting the block together was straight forward and quite simple, as long as I continued to refer back to the designated letters on the patten sheet (there are no color photos for us to reference). By 10:45pm I had the next block all pieced and pressed to it's glorious 12.5" square. Isn't it nice?

So why do I think I'm doing this all backwards?? Easy- at 11pm as I was closing up shop and took another look at the lovely blocks on the small design wall- it occurred to me that I didn't remember seeing a block that looked like this one in the small printout that came with the blocks. Now which one was this block?? The rentitions were also not in numerical order, so I kept hunting. That is when the light bulb in my head went off! Holy Seam Ripper, batman!! As nice as this block looks- it is all wrong!! The reds should be sewn against the reds and the navy against the navy. Do I leave it and have my own version of the project?? Who would know (besides me and now all of you!)??
I'll bet that by tonight it is going to bother me so much that I'll be doing the rip-it-out dance. We'll see. Maybe I am indeed doing this all backwards, and should cut at night and sew first thing in the am?? Stay tuned!

Mar 23, 2011

Good Bye Elizabeth

Today seems like the end of the Golden Age of Hollywood with the passing of Elizabeth Taylor. I admit it. I love the movies. Always have. Not so much what gets churned out now by studios, but the good old movies. The ones that had honest to goodness movie stars. What can I say- I'm of that age. Clark Gable's Rhett Butler made me want to be a southern belle in distress. Kate Hepburn made me feel just the opposite- give me a great pair of pants, an man's shirt and I too could be strong, capable, a feminist before it became popular. Bette Davis- those eyes! I still love to watch Charlton Heston lift his staff and part the Red Sea (I thought that was a great visual effect- and it was back then). But Elizabeth! What can one say about this amazing woman other than the word beauty?? Yes, there were the husbands- all what? 8 of them if we count Richard twice?? The scandal surrounding her marriage to Eddie Fisher. Frankly, it pales in comparison with what goes on today. I will remember Elizabeth (who hated to be called "Liz") best like this:

Who didn't love Velvet Brown?? National Velvet is still one of my favorite movies, along side Who's Afraid of Virgina Woof. I think Elizabeth the person may have gotten lost in Elizabeth the headline maker. I think the things I admire her most for is her love for her family- her children, her grandchildren. And what she did from the heart. The money she helped raise for AIDS research. To me Elizabeth defined ICON and am saddened by her passing.

Mar 22, 2011

How Many Ways Can We Frustrate Ourselves??

It's official. I'm frustrated. I have disposed of and recovered those pesky Jo Morton blocks (see post here) more times that I can shake a stick at. I decided that I did like the dark colorway I chose after all, but was more than frustrated at how they were going together in the final setting. How a block can measure perfectly and then lose points is beyond me. I was so frustrated and thinking that I was a quilting moron that I went over to Jo's Yahoo Group and looked at pictures of other Amy's Quilt projects. Know what? Most of them had cut off points. I am still putting mine away for now. I have a club meeting tonight and will bring up the subject of the missing points. Somebody has to have an answer!
So as if little frustrations weren't enough, I decided to use today to jump back into the BIG frustrations. I guess I am hell bent on branding myself a Quilting Moron, so I pulled out the Civil War Tribute blocks' basket. Just call me crazy! I spent the morning making this:

I've made some major decisions about this journey. It will NOT be perfect. Again- I measure everything twice. I square up, I pin like crazy (and I'm normally not a pinner) and still- several disappearing points, sections that shift just ever so slightly even though they've been pinned within an inch of their life. But, at least the block is the 18.5" it is supposed to be. So- I'll downgrade myself to a lesser degree of moron. I will work on this major pain in my quilting life project, I will enjoy the process, and know that once it gets to the finishing stage and is sent off to an extraordinary machine quilter to be quilted heavily, it will be just fine. It isn't going into a show, it isn't going to do much other than grace my own home. It will serve as testament to my own perseverance. It will also remind me not to jump on the BOM bandwagon just because I saw one beautiful block with the most perfect purple fabric. I have learned to investigate who the designer is...because I know there are some that I just don't get along with well. Please tell me perfection is over-rated. OK, I know it's not, but will just live with "good enough" as far as this project is concerned. I have seen a finished piece, both at a show booth and at a LQS. I have seen tops on some of the blogs I follow and know that I am not the only person who has a few little bald spots from tearing our hair out. I also know that in the end- it will end up on one of the kid's couches- keeping a dog, cat or other animal warm. OR (heaven forbid) be sold at the "estate (garage) sale"! They wouldn't, would they??

Mar 18, 2011

How a great day got even better....

Imagine! a second post for the day..from me of all people. The day is only half over and already it has been a perfectly wonderful day. First, I visited with my mom, who wasn't half as agitated as she has been the past few days. Once she realized who I was, she was so happy to see me and we had a lovely visit- working on her word puzzles and preparing for lunch. Menu sounded pretty good to me- crab cakes, mashed potatoes and sugar snap peas. I saw a lovely fresh watermelon on the kitchen island, and Caroline (one of the staff) told me there were a few chocolate covered strawberries in the fridge- and to go steal one before she ate them all herself,lol!
After leaving Mom, I took a chance a friend up the road might be home and drove over to see. I was glad to see both she and her DH were both in, and we got to have a long overdue catch up. A few weeks ago, I accidentally found out that she was diagnosed with cancer and I was a bit overwhelmed as to how to broach the subject with her. We both lead hectic lives and hadn't talked to each other for some time. Happily, the cancer was caught at stage 1 (by a fluke!) and she is now cancer free. She has had some problems due to the needed reconstruction- leading to four more surgeries, but all in all she is doing well and is in high spirits. I am so happy I decided to "just go over".
When I got home I wanted to answer some emails from this morning and found one announcing I'd won a giveaway!
Mom doing well, today. Friend's health scare successfully treated. Being gifted with generosity. I'd say it's been a fabulous day!
May yours be just as wonderful.

A Good Start

With the return of small snippets of free-time, I've been more than happy to spend the time in my sewing room working on projects old and new. I'm especially happy to have caught up with my Patriots in Petticoats BOM. We are 3 months in with 2 blocks per month- and I've pretty much completed all six. Block #1 is short one 3" square of fabric so it is 99% finished. I'll be getting a scrap of fabric from Fran when I go down to the shop in the near future. In the meantime, as promised, here are my first 5 blocks in all their glory. I am enjoying the process, and think this is going to be one lovely quilt in the end. I hope the sample is still hanging at the shop when I get to drive down. Blogger was having issues this am, so loading these photos was an ordeal. the order is a bit haphazard with block #6 being first, but it truly doesn't matter, does it?

Here is Block #6:Mary Pickersgill. Mary made the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to compose the poem that is now our National Anthem.

Next we have Block #4: Elizabeth Gilmore, who (supposedly) dressed in men's clothing. She was listed as a "Ranger of the Frontier" and served at Valley Forge.

Block #2 highlights Ann Bailey. Ann became an Army courier and scout, and was nicknamed "Mad Ann". She deserted in 1777, and a warrant for her arrest was sworn out. When it was discovered she was a woman she was fined and given two years in prison for "appearing in men's clothing".

Block #5 is for Sarah Bradlee who some call the Mother of the American Revolution:

Block #3 commemorates Margaret Cochran Corbin, who fought along side her husband and was the first woman to receive a pension as a disabled soldier. She is buried with other soldiers at West Point:

I'm looking forward to the next two blocks and the history behind them. Reading about these brave and distinguished women brings our nation's history alive for me. I've always loved the history behind this "hobby" of mine. So many women came before and I hope so many will come after- quilting is deep rooted in our history. It is a joy to carry on the tradition. Making something that highlights the women who entered the Revolutionary War will be a true labor of love.

Mar 16, 2011

Another Workspace Wednesday

This week's photo highlights the beginnings of this month's project for my Jo Morton Little Women's Club meeting. When I pulled fabrics for it (during the end stages of our family scourge) I thought I would ultimately like my choices and how the project would turn out.
Right now, I'm not so sure! If I step away for a day- it doesn't look so bad, but when I'm working on it I really doubt if this is what I had intended. These little blocks are giving me fits. Everything measures out just fine, but when I put them together into the 3" final block- I will lose points adding the sashing.
I think I need to just put this one away for a few days and give it and myself a rest.
If I'm going to struggle to get it "perfect" I am going to have to work with some happier colors!

On another note, I've finished the first six blocks for the Patriots in Petticoats BOM.
Stay will be posted either tomorrow night or Friday.

Mar 12, 2011

So This is Free Time?

Knowing that things are looking up, and that Mom is getting the care she needs makes for a full night's sleep these past few nights. Getting that much needed sleep also makes for waking up bright and early- 5:30am this morning. I found that to be ridiculous, but when I couldn't fall back to sleep, I decided to use the early dawn hours to do some sewing.
I am working on my blocks from Patriots in Petticoats so I can catch up with the current mailing (blocks 5 and 6) and am doing my best despite a few setbacks: block #1 is on hold due to needing ONE 3" square of fabric! Block 4 is on hold as my kit did not contain the green fabric needed for the block. I will have to give Fran a call and ask if she can send me the missing fabric(s) so I can finish up.
Sewing at dawn's early light, gave me the opportunity to use my most fabulous LED lighting system, and I just love it! I took a few photos (forgive the bad shots- my camera ate the battery again and I used The Daughter's, which I had trouble figuring out!).
This first picture shows my light as it sits around my machine set up. It is free standing and doesn't get in the way of a thing. I can use my cones of DMC sewing thread and I have all my necessaries right at my fingertips, including the pattern directions (above on the pattern rack) and my snips.

This photo is from the'll see there are more storage drawers here as well. I'm sure in time I'll know what to fill them with other than my handy dandy seam ripper.

This really doesn't do justice to the fact that the extended bed of my machine now looks like a landing pad with the unit on:

Compared to what it is like without the extra light (again- no justice served with this photo!):

This is the block I finished this am- just pretend you can actually see it!

Two more blocks and I am completely caught up- and it is only March 12th. A new record!
I think I like this free time! It has been a long time in coming, but I wouldn't have done things differently.

Along with sitting at the sewing machine, while caring for mom this past month and a half, I was working on my hand applique. I have started my Civil War Bride Quilt blocks, and have been accepted as a contributor at the CWBQ blog. You can see my first entry and my first two blocks here.

Mar 10, 2011

Lights! Camera! Action!!

No, no, I'm not attending, starring in or directing a movie (bet you're glad to hear that!). I came home Thursday night to the words "Your box arrived".
My box? MY BOX!!
You see back in the olden days of yore..that would be November of 2010...The Husband asked what I might like for Christmas. Having not even one single idea of something I really wanted or needed, I didn't give him any ideas. Being "The Husband" he had no ideas of his own so gave me an IOU. Well, can I tell you this worked out just perfectly. Right after the holidays, I was reading a quilting list I am on (and I hardly ever have time to do that, but fate stepped in and I did read it that day), and heard about this:

You'll need to cut and paste- I can't get it to link up properly (sorry!).
The short video posted on YouTube will give you some idea of this fabulous product!
This weekend I will take a few photos of it set up with my own machine and share the happiness. Patty of RoboWhittler was more than wonderful about answering my countless questions via email (email address appears at the end of the video if you'd like more information. I know you'd be happy to explore this product more for yourselves.

Mar 9, 2011

Workspace Wednesday

Welcome to another addition of Workspace Wednesday. I offer this as proof that I tried to squeeze in some stitching in my "off hours". My question...just how many times can a quilter rip out a wrongfully sewn seam?? Hummm...maybe I should hold a contest. On second thought- I'd be embarrassed to admit to how many seams and how many got ripped out time and time again. Maybe I should actually fill that new bi-focal script??

Mar 7, 2011

The Winter That Never Ends

Didn't anyone tell Old Man Winter that he could pack up his bags and head off else where now? Seriously, I have had enough. More than this rate we'll be looking for spring in June. I kept waking up last night hearing the winds trying to blow in my bedroom windows (and mine was half open- I needed the air). I couldn't help but sit up and watch for a bit as I realized I was truly seeing ice coating everything around. During another wake up period, the sky to the east was lighting up as if we were going to have "thunder ice" (as opposed to thunder snow). I'm not so sure that it was as I kept hearing the very distinctive low eerie vibrations of groaning electrical wires. I could also hear the faint sounds of sirens. This scenario continued for about half an hour. Something was definitely going on.

This morning I woke thinking that the ice was making the neighborhood look foggy- but quickly realized that it was snow! Increasingly heavy snow over the sleet and ice coating everything around (see the above photo of the tree across the street). Looking out the back door, I noticed a tree branch from our old Maple lying across the middle of the yard. Looking around more I saw this:

What this WAS is my once lovely (and large) Butterfly Bush- split right down the center. Look close, you'll see the center branch lying there- no match apparently for the weight of the ice. There is a city police car and a truck on the side street- wonder if there are downed lines?? **

Now I know this is not cataclysmic, the rest of the world is suffering its own assaults from nature, many worse than another ice/snow storm. I'm just a bit whiny and tired after our house has also been visited by "The Plague". Mom's assisted living facility was ravaged by a very nasty intestinal virus. With my being there 13 hours a day just before and while ran rampat getting both residents and staff, it was just a matter of time. Mom came down with it last Tuesday. It was horrible. I'll spare the details, and am just glad she is now better and has no memory of it at all. I went down on Thursday afternoon, and since Saturday AM the cry around our home is "man down" as both the husband and the youngest child succumbed. I am actually thinking Youngest has the flu (we are at the height of the season here) but no matter- we've all have been/ are sicker than sick.

Today is the first day I've felt almost normal- and thru all this have dropped about 5 pounds (the only positive!). I've done no sewing, but did pick out fabrics yesterday for the next Jo Morton Club project. I looked at it again last night and it surely reflects my mood- somber. I may change it up, but then again, it makes a statement and I may just go with it! We'll will you when I next post.

I hope the world around you is in better spirits.
As for me- all I can say is "Go away winter, please go away"!

** Hubby walked the dog around the block- side street is closed due to a tree down.
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