Sunday, September 30, 2012

An Embarrassment of Stitches

 September has been a busy month, so I haven't had a lot of time to devote to the Free Motion Challenge.  I did a little practicing last week and today I spent a few hours working on the challenge from this month's teacher, Paula Reid.   And it was indeed a challenge!  Following a pattern is not easy, and this circular feather required a lot of backtracking too.  I didn't even contemplate filling the center or the outside areas--I was too focused on the feather and the corners.

I really missed having arrows on the pattern to indicate the order of quilting, so I looked at some YouTube videos and searched for other similar motifs to see how to move from one area to the next.  Quite frankly, I didn't find much help.  The hardest part was moving from one corner to the next.

Finally I gave up on the corner motifs and concentrated on the feather circle.  Better.  Not perfect, but better.

But after nine months of challenges, I am much more comfortable free motion quilting;  my stitches are getting more consistent, lines are getting smoother.  And I have learned that frequent practice is important. 

Tomorrow is Straighten Up the Sewing Room Day.  And after that, more FMQ!

Thank you Paula Reid.  And thank you, SewCalGal!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Hello and Goodbye and a Little Sewing

During the last weeks of summer, Dave and I met my sister and brother-in-law on Block Island to spend a few days on their catamaran, Escape Velocity.  We were at a mooring in the Great Salt Pond where each morning and evening we heard "Andiamo on your boat, " the signal that the Aldo's Bakery folks were selling their wares from a little outboard motorboat.  We became steady customers and bought bread, cookies and morning buns most days.  Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the motor which had printed on it, "I gotta no change!"

Jack and Dave enjoyed sitting on the "back porch," solving the world's problems, no doubt.

Marce treated us to cucumbers with lime and sea salt, something she had in a local bar in Honduras while she was there with a film crew.

We biked to the Monhegan Bluffs and went down to the beach (140 steps, they say, plus some climbing on rocks.)

When you get down to the beach you are greeted with hundreds of cairns.

Marce collected rocks to build a cairn of her own.

Back on the boat, Dave got in some swimming time and used snorkle gear to go down and scrape barnacles off the propellers.

All too soon, it was time to leave.  Cap'n Jack and First Mate Marce took Dave and me back to New London where we had left our car.

Dave enjoyed being aboard!

After dropping us off, the sailors set out in the dinghy to return home.

We had more time together in early September when Marce and Jack anchored in Nyack, NY for 2 weeks.  We shopped, did errands, met almost daily at the Runcible Spoon, one of our favorite cafes.
One day, Izzy can to play in our yard!

And when my nephew, Drew came for a quick visit, we managed to get almost all of our family together for a group picture.  Missing? Our niece, Ericka

 Marce and Jack headed south on Monday.  We really miss them!

Despite all this busyness, I did manage to get some sewing in.  I made this quilt for a little girl who is expected to make her appearance in November.   It's a Chinese Coins quilt made with repro prints.

I machine quilted it with loops and hearts in the borders and sashings.

And backed it with polka dots.  I'll add a label when the baby is born and I know her name.

Tomorrow is the baby shower, so I finished it in time!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Binding and a Bag

Sometimes I look at all the projects I have going and don't want to work on any of them.  So I do some prep work that will save me time when I tackle UFOs or when I start a new project.  I call these days "non-quilting days" even though whatever work I do often is for quilting projects.

One of my favorite things to do on a non-quilting day is make binding for future quilts.  Most of the time I want to complete the top before I even contemplate what kind of binding will complement the quilt.  But lately, I have been making lots of baby quilts for friends who are becoming grandparents for the first time, and I have found that I often use striped fabric, polka dot fabric or star fabric for bindings on quilts for babies and kids.  So having a binding stash helps speed up the production of a new quilt.

 Sometimes I make continuous bias binding, especially when the quilt top is complete and I know the exact length I will need.  But when I'm making binding ahead, I starch and press the fabric and then just cut 2" bias strips from the yardage and sew the strips together on the diagonal to minimize bulk.
Here's some binding that I made recently using bias strips.

I've already used the star binding on this quilt for a neighbor's grandson.  (The pattern is Bonnie Hunter's Pineapple Star.)  The white fabric has multicolored stars on it as do some of the other scraps, so the star binding was perfect.  (This pattern is a great stash buster!)

I used a circle-polka dot fabric for the backing.  I love the cheerful colors.

 Another non-quilting project I made recently was a tote bag for my niece's birthday.    I love these fabrics, too.  The bag has external pockets and is lined with another navy fabric.

So I am making small dents in my stash, doing prep work that streamlines the quilt making process, and getting the pleasure of giving handmade gifts to people I love.  All good.