Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Quilting Morning Joe

Hi Everyone,

I meant to write this post last week, but I have been busy.  We are traveling for the holiday this week.  Not only are we celebrating Thanksgiving with family, it is also my Mom's 70th birthday, and she and I are helping to host a baby shower for my sister.  We will be seeing our daughter for the first time in almost a year, so I am seriously excited about that, too.  I've been wrapping presents, coming up with baby shower games (seriously, microwaving candy bars in diapers?!!  Yuck, no thanks!) doing laundry, etc.  It is nice to sit a spell and do some writing.  And thinking about quilts!

When I finished the top for this quilt, I knew that I wanted to spend some extra time and effort in the quilting process.  Normally, I just do an all-over meander which results in a finished quilt, but with a little custom work, one can achieve way better results. 

The first step was to make a plan.  I knew that I wanted something in the snowmen's faces that was different from the other areas.  I considered pebbling, but I've not tried it before, and was worried about it.  I ended up doing a paisley-type shape. 

I left off the buttons and nose for the quilting--I added them after the binding and washing.

For the stars, I stitched them in the ditch (so not my favorite, but using the walking foot on the new Juki was better than on my Bernina.)

I drew out a pointed-oval template and traced it whole in each segment, then I traced two more times, pulling the template to the center.  This step required marking.  Except for the navy blue areas, I was able to use my favorite marking pens.

Crayola washable markers!
I know it may seem scary, but they are designed to wash out, after all, and as long as you plan to wash your finished quite, it doesn't get any easier!
On the red background of the center of the quilt, I did a small stipple.  It seemed like a real treat after all the stitch-in-the-ditch! 

For the red inner border, I wanted to do something more "border-like" and I decided on a line of spirals.  I marked for those, too, to keep them even.  I just drew vertical lines every 1.25" of the border.  They were lots of fun!
That just left the sawtooth border.  I didn't have any obvious ideas.  I spent some time on the internet looking at ideas.  Finally, I decided that I wanted to try doing lines that are close together.  I've been seeing this technique a lot lately and it adds lots of texture.  It was easy, too! 
See how fun it looks?  I left the blue/tan triangles plain, and they really puff up next to all the quilting in the red background.  There are two plain background squares in this border.  For them, I drew a diagonal line and did each half of the square in a different direction.
You can see that result up above in the photo in the left foreground.  I like how it turned out.
I spent nearly two entire days doing the quilting, and my back sure felt it, but I am really pleased with how it came out.  I keep meaning to make myself do more custom quilting.  I always love the results, I'm just usually too lazy or uninspired to do it.  I must say that having the Juki helps a lot.  Hopefully, I will be more drawn to doing some custom stitching in the future.
Have a great day!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Morning, Joe, Sam, Bill, and Ed"

Hi Everyone,

I finally finished this month's Schnibble and I'm really excited to share it.  If you follow me on Instagram (patrioticquilter) you have seen the sneak peek!  The pattern for this month is Morning Joe. 

As you probably know by now, the wonderful Sherri and Sinta host the monthly Schnibbles parades on the first of every month, and the new pattern is announced.  It is seriously my favorite day of the month. 

This version of Morning Joe is named for the line of Pam Kitty Morning Fabric it is made from.  I always enjoy reading how Carrie names these quilts!  When I first saw it, I liked it, but I didn't have an "immediate" vision for this quilt.  Goodness knows, I love star quilts, though.  Later, on the first of November, when it was chosen as our next quilt, I looked at it again.  Earlier that day, I had been rearranging some of the piles in my sewing room and I came across this pattern which I love and keep meaning to make.

 (Whoops!  It came out sideways, sorry about that!)
I also had 2 charm packs of Primitive Gatherings' Snowmen Gatherings for which I've been trying to find a good pattern.
As I looked at the Morning Joe pattern, a light bulb went off in my brain and I realized that I could make it with the Snowman Gatherings and in the areas where the corner squares of the star blocks come together, I could put a snowman head!
I was on a roll.  The fabric line is in cream, lt. tan, dark tan, medium blue and navy blue.  What should I use for background?  I wanted to use some solid creamy white for the snowmen, so having a light background wouldn't work.  I went to my stash and pulled a few possibilities.
I loved this!  You may not be able to tell, but the little "trails" on the fabric are blue!  And the tan stars are exactly the same tan as in the fabric line.  The only problem?  When making HSTs with this and the tan fabrics, the tan stars of the brown fabric might "bleed" into the tan of the points.
Can you see the effect in the lower right corner?  That star point on the brown fabric looks like an odd growth off the tan triangle. 

Here, the whole edge looks funny. 

Next I found this fabric.

I loved it, too, but it had the same problem with those tan circles possibly causing the "bleeding" issue.

So I was stumped.  I didn't want to buy anything and I really didn't know what I wanted to use anyway.  I finally pulled out a dark red solid and decided that it would work. 

Disclaimer:  The above process actually happened.  I did not just go for the patriotic color scheme and jump right into red! 

I would be interested in hearing anyone else's suggestions for a background for these fabrics!

The next dilemma I had was in dealing with the choices in the charm pack.  The creamy whites were going to be a problem for me.  If I scattered them in randomly, I thought they would jump right out at you.  Also with the snowmen being the same color, I didn't want it all to look scattered.  I studied the pattern picture again and decided that I could use the creamy white charms in the center of the stars instead of background fabric, as Carrie did.

  I really liked that idea, however, it would mean that I wouldn't have enough charm squares to complete the border.  I contemplated just using a border cut from fabric (not the pieced, saw-tooth border)  as I had a few half -yard blue pieces, but I realized that this Schnibble is BIG and a half yard wouldn't be enough, so I finally ordered a third charm pack.

The third consideration I had was on construction.  If I was making the cover quilt "as is" I would make nine star blocks and then sew them together with the narrow sashing.  But since I wanted a large snowball block for the snowman head, I couldn't do that.  Instead, I constructed it in rows.

Once I had the rows, I could just sew them together.  Once the quilt top was finished, I went on to layering it and quilting.  I'm going to do another post about the quilting, as I "custom-quilted it" instead of my usual all-over meander.  Once quilted, I added the facial features, including the wool nose and the buttons and embroidery.

Here is the finished quilt!

I decided to keep part of the original name.  Instead of Morning Joe (as in coffee, etc.) my version is called, "Morning, Joe, Sam, Bill, and Ed," as if you are greeting the snowmen.

This is Joe:

This is Sam:
This is Bill:

And this is Ed:

I love how different they look!  I was so motivated to finish this because I wouldn't get the full effect until the faces were completed.

I'm really pleased with it.  Come back tomorrow for the details about the quilting.

Have a great day,

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

An Anniversary

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

 Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

 We are met on a great battle-field of that war.

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.

 It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground.
    The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
   The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here,
   but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
    It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion --
 that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 
  Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Good Weekend

Hi Everyone,

I heard from many of you that commented on my last post about being overwhelmed at this time of year with so much to do!  I am feeling so much better after deciding to cut back on some projects!  I was working away on the second nightgown on Friday and I made good progress.  I don't have much more to do.  I got interrupted when the mail came.  I began this month's Schnibble right after the pattern was announced but I refigured mine a bit and I needed another charm pack.  I ordered it two weeks ago and it finally came on Friday.  To me, it took a long, long time.  I may not order from that shop again, or at least not when I need/want something right away.  Anyway, I've been excited about what I'm doing for the Schnibble, so I jumped back into that project on Friday afternoon.  I'm hoping it will be done in time to share on Wednesday.  We'll see, though.

I knew Saturday was going to be fun!  My favorite area quilt shop is having its annual fat quarter sale!  It began Saturday, so a friend and I drove there to try to be as early as possible.  We got a little lost on the way, though, but we finally got there.  GPS only helps if your phone has service!!  We were in the boondocks, where service was sketchy!

The shop is Millstone Quilts, and I've mentioned it before, but just so you can see how cute it is, here is a picture.

It is in the country and used to be an old mill.  I believe the mill was in existence before the Civil War.  It is fairly tiny, but packed full of all my favorite fabrics!

This is the entrance!

For the fat quarter sale, the shop precuts hundreds of fat quarters and they are displayed in all sorts of containers throughout the shop.  All pre-cut FQs are on sale for $1.50 each!  If you see a bolt of fabric that does not have FQs cut, they will not cut them for the sale price.  The shop isn't far, but we still don't get out there all that often, so it is always fun to go. 

I was thrilled to see that they had Midwinter Reds by Minick and Simpson.  They had all the fabrics, but only 9 were precut into FQs.  I got all nine, and then, because most of those were the cream/tan, I got a few half yard cuts of some of the reds.  They also had Indigo Crossings, (the blue and neutral collection from earlier this year, also by M and S,) and I got quite a lot of them, too.

If you bought a hundred FQs, you got a bonus gift.  I did not get one.  I showed great restraint!  I had a list, and mostly stuck to it.

As you can see, except for the lone green FQ, I pretty much stuck to my "trademark" colors.  That wasn't even intentional!  I had planned to buy no blue, but when I saw the Indigo Crossings, I had to indulge.  It was a fun morning!  We got there, shopped, left, and stopped off in Williamsburg for lunch on the way home. 

I was able to finish piecing my Schnibble, marked it for quilting, and got it layered and pin-basted.  I even began the quilting.  Normally I just do an all-over meander on them, but for this one, I'm doing more of a custom job.  Having the Juki helps.  I will share with you when it is done!  I plan to spend the day working on it and I'm really looking forward to it. 

Have a great day!

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Hi Everyone,

I got quite a few comments yesterday on the Countdown to Christmas post about how some of you are too overwhelmed to thing about starting something else.  Last week, I was in the same place.  All I could think of was all the things that I "had" to get done.  I'm making two nieces a nightgown each, a couple purses, a few other things which are "unmentionable" in case the recipients are reading this blog, and I signed up for a postcard swap and a Santa Swap.  In addition to all of that, I had planned to make small, zippered bags for everyone to hold their giftcard, small gift, etc.

Last week when I would go in my sewing room, I just got depressed.  Or I simply bounced around, unable to focus on anything.  Part of it was that I didn't have my trusty best friend to help me (Bernie), part of it was the mess (I couldn't focus on anything) and part of it was the overwhelming feeling of drowning in projects that should be fun, but when there are so many and with a deadline, they just turn into "work."

Once I cleaned and got my Bernina back in place, I had a fresh, exciting feeling.  I jumped right in to the Countdown to Christmas as a "reward" for my hard work.  Each new step for it is posted on Friday, so I'm going to make sure that I "worked" hard during the week, so I can take the time to play with that as each week's reward.  I work really well with a reward system. <grin>

Then I started pulling out the patterns and fabric for all the stuff I was going to make.  And I quailed!  As the pile grew, so did my...  anxiety?  horror?  dread?  Hey, this is supposed to be fun!  So I decided then and there to make it fun and simplify.  So I decided not to make the bags for everyone.  Maybe if I get in the mood, I'll make some and keep them for next year, adding to them whenever it strikes my fancy.  Now things are much more "doable."

Or they were until I was working away yesterday morning and suddenly remembered that the postcard for the swap was due to be mailed today!  So I threw the nightie stuff that I was working on to the side, ran downstairs to hopefully get inspired on Pinterest (for me, the hardest part of making postcards is coming up with a design--especially under pressure!)  And then I spent the afternoon making a royal mess but ended up with a cute card.  (Actually I always make at least 2--one to give and one to keep as an "archive" or else a future need.)

So in case you missed it, I went from a serene "I can do this" feeling to sudden panic in the blink of an eye.  You have to really love this time of year, don't you?

When I post this, I'm going upstairs to tidy up again and then refocus on the nightgown.  I will not work on the new step for the Countdown to Christmas until the nightie is done!!  Ha ha.

Have a great day!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Countdown to Christmas

Hi Everyone,

Now that I have my beloved "Bernie" home, I got started catching up on the Temecula Quilt Co's new sew-along, Countdown to Christmas.

They had a teaser photo, but I can't find it right now to share with you.  In case you are thinking it involves a whole bunch more two-inch basket blocks, relax!  You only have to make 24 two-inch star blocks!

You start each star by making 4 small flying geese.  As you can see, they came out a bit wonky, so I squared them up to make sure they were the right size,  1" x 1.5." 

There was quite a pile of trimmings, so I'm glad I took the time to do that step.  The blocks will go together so much easier.
They are really tiny!
Then you lay out the flying geese with the center and corners.  I did 4 star blocks at a time. 
Here are 20 finished stars.  I did the rest yesterday.
Next you make 140 4-patches from 1.5" strips. 
And you cut a pile or two of 2.5" light squares. 
I'm looking forward to the next step!  Are you joining in?  It isn't too late to catch up!
Have a great day!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Bernina is Back!

Hi Everyone,

I finally got my Bernina back from the shop on Saturday!!  They called Thursday afternoon that it was done, but by then it was rush-hour traffic and on Friday I was busy having fun, so I was the first person at the shop door when they opened on Saturday.  It ended up being a bit of a repair--not just a cleaning and adjustment.  He said that the hand wheel was getting stripped from use.  "It looks like you use this machine a lot." (ha ha--truer words have never been spoken.)

Actually, there is a bit of a funny story about going to get it.  That morning my husband was planning to go to one of his favorite stores (Harbor Freight--a tool/hardware store) and I was going to Bernina.  HF is on the way to Bernina, so I asked him if  he wanted us to go together to both places or should we go separately.  (I was sort of pulling for separate because I don't really like the smell in HF.)  He thought it over and said he wouldn't mind going together if "all you do is go in, get the machine, pay, and leave, but I don't think that will happen."  (The Bernina shop is also a quilt store.)  I replied that I really didn't need anything and my plan was to do just that.  But then we realized that the Bernina shop didn't open for another hour (it was 9 AM at the time) so that clinched it:  we would go separately.  As he was leaving, he said "I will probably be home before you even leave."  I could not resist throwing his previous words right back at him, so I replied, "What, are you just going in to get the thing you need and pay and leave?"  He was stunned for a second, then laughed, and then added that no, he was probably going to have a good look-around. 

Once I was home again,  (and actually, I did look around and bought a few other things...) I excitedly brought the machine in from the car and just left it downstairs.   My sewing room was such a mess that I decided then and there to not take the machine upstairs until I thoroughly cleaned the entire room.  I dusted away cobwebs from the ceiling and floor, I vacuumed up all the threads and fuzz and bits of fabric from the floor.  I straightened the stuff on the shelves.  I purged some of the junk!  I cleaned off the cutting table (which had been piled with stuff.)  I had piles everywhere that I dealt with!  I hung some things on the wall that had been sitting around waiting.  I packed the poor Janome Jem in its box and put it in the back of the closet.  To do so, I had to take many things out of the closet, so I ended up purging and rearranging it and then putting everything back in. 

With my sewing surface mostly empty, I next tidied it up, putting away bobbins, etc.  Then I cleaned and scrubbed that surface.  Isn't it amazing how dusty/linty those areas can get in just a short amount of time?  Finally after about 2-3 hours of focused cleaning, the room was done!  I went down and grabbed "Bernie" (as I call him) and with some ceremony, took him to his rightful place!  As I was dealing with the cords, I came across another power cord and foot pedal.  It was the Janome's!!! Ugh.  I had packed away the machine but not the cord and foot pedal and it was all packed up buried in the back of my closet!!!!  I did not have the heart to go through the closet again so now the cords are separate from the machine.   I am keeping them visible, though, so the next time I go on an expedition to the far end of the closet, I will hopefully remember to return them to the box.

Remember what I just said--and feel free to remind me of it as I blog in a year or two that I got out my Jem and had no idea where the cord and foot pedal were!  Some times I can so clearly see the future!

Once everything was clean and ready, I delved right in working on all the things that have been requiring my attention--mostly the holiday sewing.  A clean room and a returned "friend" is a huge motivating factor in getting things accomplished!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Big Reveal

Hi Everyone,

For some time now I have been wanting to share the final results of my "watery" quilt.  I sent it off to the lovely, talented Mary at Quilt Hollow for her wonderful quilting.  She did an all-over, edge to edge pattern of seashells and starfish. 

If you remember, I began this quilt to use my collection of turquoise batiks that I began acquiring while living in Hawaii.  The pattern is Bali Breeze from Scrap-Basket Sensations by Kim Brackett.  I reversed it by having the lights as the stars and the turquoises as the background.  To me, it looks more "oceany" that way.  It began life the size in the pattern, lap size, but once my parents saw it, they decided it would look great in their guest room.  They have a twin bed there, but they wanted it to hang to the floor like a bedspread, so it "grew" to be nearly king-sized.

It is finally bound and washed and crinkled.  This is going to be a difficult quilt to give away, but on the other hand, we can't keep them all!  Plus, there are so many more to make!

Have a great day,

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

Hi Everyone,

I'm back and will hopefully be posting every day this week.  Today in the US, we are observing Veteran's Day.  Originally it was Armistice day and we still have services at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  Of course, these days, it is more about selling mattresses.  Or is that Presidents Day?  I can't keep track.

Here at our house, I am hugging my favorite Veteran, and taking time to recognize the others.

This is my guy back a few years ago when he was in Afghanistan. 
While I think that the whole "Keep Calm" thing is getting a bit tired, I really do like this one:

I'll be back tomorrow with some quilting! 

Have a great day,

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Curse of the Clover Continues, or, A Friend, a Finish, and Flavia

Hi Everyone,

Have any of you ever seen a Western Melodrama?  In my hometown back when I was in high school, they had a drama society which would stage them each year.  They all have charming names, such as "Pelican Pete's Amazing Feat" and then a subtitle, such as I have used for this blog post.  Melodramas have a heroine and as she appears, the audience sighs, "awwww," and when the hero is on stage, everyone cheers.  The villain is always fun as he is booed and hissed at and the audience also throws peanuts at him.  The are great fun to watch!

I thought I would name this blog post as if it was a melodrama because, as you know, I've already had some melodrama with making my Clover Schnibble, and it continued.  However, the "heroine" (the quilt) was saved by the "hero" (my new friend) and the "villain" (the curse) was vanquished!

About my friend...  I first need to share a bit of background.  I love, love, love my Bernina and the way it sews and "feels." It is a 1080 and there is a bit of a cult following for the 1080/1090 by their owners.  Bonnie Hunter had one that she plum wore out a couple years ago and she was broken-hearted about it.  When it happened, I remember thinking "what am I going to do if I lose my baby?"  About that time, I decided I wanted a smaller machine to take to bees, etc. and also to have so I could still sew when my Bernina was in the shop.  I got a Janome Jem, and it is "okay" but doesn't feel like my Bernina.  It feels a bit stiff and slow in comparison.

Last summer, a shop down in Virginia Beach began carrying Jukis.  I have read about Jukis in the blog world, and so I wanted to check them out.  A few months ago, I sat down to one and fell in love!  The power!  The speed!  The way it sews!  I was truly smitten.  I wanted one!  But, I had a little chat with myself with the gist of it being that I already have 2 great machines and I really don't need another.  I managed to walk out of the shop without one.

Several weeks later, the topic came up at our Bee.  One of the other ladies mentioned that she had a Juki that she bought and never took out of the box and if I was interested, she would sell it to me.  Again I was tempted, but again I said no.  And then my Bernina went away for its adjustment (for 2 whole weeks!)  I caved.  I emailed her and she named the price and I accepted.  It was a very good deal:  I got a new machine for a "used" price.

I brought it home Wednesday evening, but was unable to try it until Friday morning.  I wanted to read the manual first and I had some busy days, but when I tried it on Friday, I was so thrilled with it!

It is a Juki TL-98Q
I spent Friday morning oiling it (the directions say to oil it everyday!) and then learning and practicing.  I will use this mostly for machine quilting.  I practiced free-motioning for a while until I was confident I could control the speed.  Then I picked up Clover so I could finish it.
Remember that I had begun to quilt it with my Bernina.  Plan A was to quilt it with a serpentine stitch along all the diagonal seams.  I did two complete ones and then looked at the back and it had pleated the backing!  So ripped all of that out.  Next I fell back on just doing a free motion meander over the whole thing, but that was when the Bernina started skipping stitches, so I ripped quite a bit of that out.  Now I was finally going to finish it on the Juki!  I put it under the machine and quilted away.  When I had gotten a nice chunk done, I stopped to rearrange it and smooth it out, as I periodically do while FMQing.  Only the left edge wouldn't straighten out!  What on earth?  I looked underneath and couldn't believe it!  I had quilted it in half!  Instead of quilting through 3 layers, I did 6!  Because the Juki is so powerful, and I still don't know the "feel" of it, I hadn't even noticed!  That is how powerful this machine is!  So I had to rip all of that quilting out.  I got going again and it was all going great and then I noticed that the backing along one side had gotten turned under and I quilted over it, so I needed more ripping.  I have never ripped out so much machine quilting ever!  I'm just about convinced that naming this project after a seam ripper has "borrowed trouble" so to speak, and created a curse!  Finally, though, I finished the quilting, and got the binding on and it is finished.  Whew!!

I had told myself that I couldn't begin on the new Schnibble until this one was complete.  When I saw the selected pattern for next time, I immediately got a great idea and I couldn't wait to get started on it, and indeed, once this was finished on Saturday I plunged right in on the new one. 

As many of you know, while quilting I like to listen to audiobooks.  I have a new favorite!  Do any of you "know" Flavia DeLuce?  She is the 11 year old protagonist in a series of books by Alan Bradley which begin with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  

The books are set in England in 1950 and are mysteries.  The character development is wonderful.  My favorite part?  The writer knows a lot of facts and the reader/listener can learn many tidbits about music, literature, and chemistry (in particular--poisons!) in a fun way.  I'm nearly finished with the second one and plan to stop at the library today to see if the next one is "in."

I have a really busy week!  There is something going on every day.  I won't be posting tomorrow--it is election day and I'm working.  It will be an early morning!  I have to be there at 4:45 AM. 

Have a great day!