Thursday, April 28, 2011

No quilting tonight...

Well, it's Thursday night, and I didn't quilt at all.  Bummer.

But, I didn't quilt because my son was performing with his choir at a retirement home where an old friend lives.  I went to listen to Jonathon (especially since he has a few solos) and I wanted to hook up with Gayle and his wife Millie.

Gayle and Millie weren't there, but I did enjoy hearing my son sing.

On another note... As some of you may know, my wife and I recently adopted a 10 year old girl, and we just learned this week that the doors are finally opening for us to adopt her 16 year old sister as well!!  We are very excited, but my weekend plans were just scrapped in order to get a few things done around the house before the state comes to do their home inspection required before we can renew our license to adopt.

My wife has a bunch of stuff to do all day Saturday, so I will do the weekly vacuuming, dusting, bathroom cleaning, etc.  Maybe, I'll get to do some sewing, I hope so!  I am going through withdrawal.

As always, Thanks for Reading!

Until Next Time,

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Sunday...

I generally keep my blog posts on this blog related to quilting, but on this day, I must venture into a more personal area...  You see, this day is extremely special to me for two reasons.  It is this day that defines my spiritual being, for on this day some 2000+ years ago, my Lord and Savior rose from the grave after literally going Hell and back for me.  He Conquered death so that I, and each of you could spend eternity with Him.

This day is special for me too because it was my Grandmother's favorite holiday.  Grandma would wake up every Easter morning long before the sun rose and she would head to church where she always read scripture during the sunrise service.  She always participated in every other service on Easter morning as well.

It was Grandma who taught me to needle point at a very young age, which I admit I resisted... "Boys don't needlepoint", I told her.  So she said, "Why Not?"  When I couldn't give her a good reason, she handed me a little piece she had started and began to teach me what I needed to know to finish it.  I really did enjoy it, and that year I made a pin cushion for her for Christmas.  (The year before she died, she gave it back to me.)

Needle Point Pin Cushion
Made by Me circa 1975

Several years later, I taught myself to cross stitch (not a huge leap considering I had learned needlepoint many years earlier).  It was only appropriate that she receive my first Cross Stitch project, a two panel Southwest scene that I chose because she and Grandpa had just chosen to retire in Arizona.

Cross Stitch
Circa 1990

And then I leaned to sew.  And now, I LOVE quilting...

A few years ago, Grandma went home to spend eternity with the Savior she served while she lived here on earth and I look forward to the day that I will see her again.

I often wonder what her critique of my quilting would be.  What tips would she give me?  What advice would she share?  How often would Grandma comment on my blog?

What a CRAZY Week!!

What a CRAZY week!!

I finished the top to my "Stars in Stripes" quilt last weekend and boy am I glad I did.  I have been thinking about it all week trying to identify the best way to quilt it.  And I think one of the ladies at the CMQG meeting Thursday evening came up with the best idea...

I am going to quilt it using small meandering pattern, but I am going to contain my meandering.  The back of the quilt is a solid cream, so the quilting will be pretty obvious on the back of the quilt.  So I am going to quilt inside the blue lines and blue stars with blue thread, inside the red stripes with red thread, and I may or may not quilt the cream colored areas.  I'm thinking that I won't so those prints on the cream can easily be seen, but once I get the red and blue into the first row when I have quilt on the frame, I may change my mind.

This will render the design on the front "etched" onto the back in a meandering pattern, yet it won't detract from the front of the quilt.

Tell me what you think, I'd love to hear your opinions...  As a reminder, this is the quilt...

"Stars in Stripes"
Ready to be Quilted

I also finished the top for my Robert Kaufman Kona Solid Challenge top... It too needs to be quilted... But I will apparently have to show a few photos of that another time, as the "Saving" function and the photo loading function seem to be having issues...

Thanks for Stopping by,
Until Next Time,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Give Away Alert!!

Hey Everyone,

I am generally not a conformist who does things like everyone else, but I have noticed a trend in blogville (especially amongst us quilters) to have give aways, and while I am not ready to host a give away, I certainly thought I could do a post of the giveaways I am currently aware of... So, here are some give aways that you might be interested in...

One More Quilt is hosting a 1 Year Blogoversary Give Away.  A bunch of random things including some very colorful fabric, batiks, and even string pull holders!

Jonquils & Ladybugs is hosting a celebration of 200 sales on Etsy with a Quilt Giveaway!

Jaybird Quilts is hosting a giveaway of some beautiful fabric and pattern.

Have FUN entering the give aways...

Until Next Time,

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thursday's Quilting Night # 8

Thank You to my beautiful wife and kids for putting up with me this weekend.

Thursday Quilt Night did not happen this week.  Instead, I had a quilt retreat of my own making.  My family graciously allowed me to commandeer the kitchen for nearly the entire weekend.  (I did put everything away to serve dinner both days...)  They put up with the sound of my sewing machine.  They moved around my ironing board, and they were overall good sports about the whole thing.

I did it for one purpose.  I needed to complete the top of my "Stars in Stripes" Quilt that I am doing for my boss.

I took many photos of the process, and I'll post more photos of what I did this weekend soon, but right now I am very tired and just want to post this...

Stars in Stripes
Fully Pieced and ready for a Sash or Two.

and this...
A more straight on look.  Since everyone is in Bed, I Could not get help...
That's OK, I'll post better photos when it is completely done...

Good Night...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Betsy Got Stuck...

Last night I was working on "Stars in Stripes" and WHAM!!  Betsy just stopped.  She stopped so hard she jumped up off the table.  I have had the needle hit the under carriage before, but the needle was fully upright, and the stop was so sudden and violent, it actually made me jump!

She has been running a little rough recently and I was planning on taking her in for a checkup, but I NEED to get this quilt done.  So, I decided to undress her and see what was going on.  I just did a thorough cleaning two weeks ago, so I didn't find a lot of lint and dust, but what I did find is extremely perplexing...

Betsy with her top removed and all of her privates
exposed for the world to see.

The culprit.
This little piece was lodged around the shaft of the needle,
and had lodged itself in such a way that it completely prevented
the shaft and therefor the needle from moving at all. 
I worked the piece loose fairly easily, and it pretty much fell out
when I pushed on it horizontally, but vertically (the motion
of the needle) it would not budge.

This is where it was lodged.  Over and under that square piece
with the screw.  Once I pushed it toward the back, it literally
almost fell out of the machine.
And this is where it gets really weird...

I looked all though this cavity on the end of the machine where all the workings for moving the needle are, and there is nowhere that this piece could have come from.  That hole in the culprit piece is the exact diameter of the shaft seen above, but there is no way that piece was around that shaft at one point.  (Unless some little gremlins came in, disassembled the entire shaft assembly, removed the piece and then reassembled the shaft assembly!)

So, then I thought that maybe the piece had been held in place by a bolt that had wiggled loose.  I mean, she has been vibrating a slight bit more than usual, and maybe the vibration had worked loose that which was holding that little bugger in place.  But there is not one place in the entire machine where there is a hole that is missing a bolt... Nor is there a loose floating bolt anywhere in my machine.  So, where did this piece come from and what did it do!?

I decided to try one more thing...  I turned the manual knob.  I watched the gears and the levers very carefully, and nothing seemed out of place, nor did it seem like there was anything missing.  So, I tried every adjustment I could possibly think of, stitch width, needle position, needle up, needle down... I spent an hour making adjustments (only in ways I could if she were fully covered) and NOTHING seemed to be wrong.  In fact, she seemed much easier to manipulate than normal.  SO, after an hour, I got brave and plugged her in.

I drove her slowly at first, very slowly, but again, absolutely nothing seemed amiss.  So, I slowly got faster, and faster, with no thread of course, and the needle removed, but she was running beautifully.  After adding the needle, another run at slow, medium, fast, and peddle to the floor fast was as smooth as anything, no needle knicks, nothing, just a nice quiet hummmmmmm.

I am very perplexed.  I found another piece in the gearing that looks very similar to this culprit, however it is definitely not the same piece.  I am beginning to wonder if during assembly this piece got left in my machine somehow.  I wonder if it is A) a piece from a different model that a tech tried to install and realized it wasn't right, set it down, grabbed the right piece and moved on, forgetting to remove the wrong piece... or B) is this some sort of "template tool" used during assembly to set some distance measurement or what not that got left behind.

She has always from day one made a slight ticking sound, but she ran just fine, she was just a little noisy.  Recently she has gotten noisier the faster I sew, so I have adjusted to her... almost sub-consciously.  I am wondering if maybe this piece didn't belong here from the beginning and it has slowly but surely worked its way around the innards of Betsy until falling into the shaft assembly and getting lodged.

After re-dressing her, I threaded her, and broke out some scrap fabric and started sewing...  It's almost like I have a new machine.  She is quiet, she runs very smoothly, and her stitches are nice and uniform.  I finished the block I was working on... I only had about 28" of seam left to sew, and then I put her away for the night.

I am going to try to find a part schematic and figure out if that piece belongs to Betsy or not.  On one hand, I feel like I just saved myself $100 or more at the repair shop, on the other, I wonder if I am creating a larger problem down the road...

Any ideas???

Until Next Time...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Stars and Stripes is FINALLY looking like a Quilt!!

While I didn't get a lot of time to quilt on Thursday night, I did quilt for 3 hours Friday night.  I only worked on one thing, the "Stars and Stripes" quilt for my boss.  I must say, I am now VERY glad that I spent as much time as I did squaring them up and trimming them to be exactly the same size after my episode with the foot on my machine.  This quilt is coming together very nicely... So, I sewed 72 small squares into 2 large squares and now I only have 14 more large squares (or 504 more small squares) to go...

First Block, all laid out and ready to sew...

Chain piecing one of the rows of the squares.

OOPS!!  I try to share my failures as well as my successes...
This would be a FAIL!!

Second Block.. All sewn up and finished.

Some close up detail.  Click on any pic for a larger size...

So, that's what I got done Friday night.  Now tomorrow I have to clean the garage, change the oil in the vehicles, and help Trish with a few things around the house... I don't know if I'll get to sew anymore or not, but it's nice to see this quilt FINALLY making some progress!!

Until Next Time,

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thursday's Quilting Night # 7

Last night was Quilting night, however, it was an abbreviated evening.  My wife did not have to work last night, and the neighbor's daughters spent the night at our house last night.  It's fun to have 4 & 6 year old giggles in the house again, but I'll admit, it's nice to be able to send them home!!

Up until last summer my wife cared for these two girls while their mom was at work, but last summer mom decided to quit her workplace job and assumed the job of full time mom.  Since the girls had been at our home daily since they were born, they really are like part of the family, and my wife could not say no when they asked if they could have a slumber party!  So my daughter Chyenne (10), my wife Trish, Maddie and Cam all had a fun evening of painting finger nails and working on little crafty things.  Unfortunately, they were using MY quilting space.

So, I watched some TV and surfed the web, patiently waiting for access to the space I needed, and when they finally went to sleep, I got to work.

I finally finished trimming the HSTs and thought about starting to piece the big Stars and Stripes quilt together, but decided I needed a break from the Stars and Stripes, and I only had about an hour to sew.  I do not want to feel rushed on that project, so I finished my Block of the Month Blocks and I worked on my "Summertime Fun" quilt.

Here are my two BOM blocks... Note how terribly out of square they are.  You may recall that last week I mentioned that I had accidentally put a 3/8" foot on my machine that I didn't even know I had... Well, apparently I had that foot on my machine when I pieced the center part of these blocks two weeks ago.  Last night I pieced the sashing, and now I have my usual 1/4" foot on my machine...

So, NONE of my corners matched up.  I marked centers and had the first one completely pieced before I noticed.  These blocks are so simple and they have always just matched up perfectly, but last night I was watching TV, not devoting my full attention to the sewing, and the result is obvious.

I decided to piece the second one exactly as I had the first one.  I am going to purchase some more fabric and re-do this block set using the correct foot for ALL pieces.  I learned something, so it wasn't a complete waste of my time, right?

I also worked a little more on "Summertime Fun", my donated charm pack quilt.  I decided to try something different with this charm pack...  I assembled 4 nine square blocks, each ~15"x15" (A,B,C,D) and then I set one on top of another (A on B and C on D), and randomly cut them in half on a diagonal.  I then attached the left of A to the right of B, the left of B to the right of A, left of C to right of D, and left of D to right of C.  I put a 2" strip (1.5" after sewing) of my grey pebble foundation material between each of the halves I cut.

I am thinking I am going to do another random cut and reassembly but this time Stacking A&C, and B&D, but I am not yet sure...  Here are some Pictures of "Summertime Fun"...

The Four Nine Patch Blocks (A,B,C,D)

A on B (lines are matched up)

The first Diagonal Cut (A&B)

The Second Diagonal cut (C&D)

The Re-Assembled blocks...

I also happened to stop in an antique store recently and found these treasures...

My Grandfather had one of these!!  He got all "high tech" and purchased an electric Typewriter, but he kept his old black "Whack and Slap" typewriter close by.  Seeing this brought back many memories about Grandpa...

This little gem has never been opened!!  I tried to find a date on the box, but was unable to.  I am guessing it is older than I am!

And this does NOT belong in an antique shop!  I bought this album the day it was released, and I am NOT antique.  (Getting Old, but someone PLEASE tell me I am not "Antique"!)

OH, and look at what arrived in the mail... My Kona Solids for the Kona Solid Swap...  I labeled them up and I will send them off tomorrow.  In about 4 weeks, I'll receive 12 FQs back...

I hope to get some extra quilting time in this weekend after I clean the garage and change the oil in the vehicles.  I need to start piecing "Stars and Stripes"!

Until Next Time,

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Thursday's Sewing Night # 6

Well, It's now late Saturday night and I am finally sitting down to post about my Thursday Night with my sewing machine, and I must admit, all I did on Thursday was trim more HSTs.  It seems like I have been doing these forever...

I shouldn't have to square up a 3.5" squares, but I did.  I also discovered why I had such a difference in some of my 3.5" HSTs.  My 1/4 inch foot wasn't on my machine!  Here is what happened.  About 3/4 of the way through the project, my machine began rattling and my timing needed to be adjusted.  I took off the foot, put it in a box with all my other feet and when I reassembled my machine after adjusting the timing, I put on a 3/8 foot... I didn't even know I HAD a 3/8 foot, but I do.  And it looks exactly like the 1/4 inch foot.

SO, I decided to trim ALL of them down to exactly 3.25".  
This is what my trimming looked like...

I kept all of the trimmings so I could take this photo...  Wish I had a use for all of this...

So, after completing all of my trimming I realized that I somehow mis-counted and I was 30 short for my Red on Reds.  So, I sewed up 30 more red on red HSTs...

But all of this trimming and cutting HSTs was driving me nuts, I just HAD to sew something, so I decided to set the big project aside and work on a few other things that are sitting around in need of some attention.

So, I completed my two BOM blocks (I still need to do the standard stashing).

Robert Kaufman Fabrics gave our local chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild, Columbus Modern Quilt Guild some Kona Charm Packs to give away to members! We were challenged to create a quilt that uses as many of them as possible.  The theme is Summertime Fun.  The only real requirement is that the Bright Color Kona solids be prominently featured in our quilt.  As such, we were asked not to add a lot of other fabrics.  We all agreed to limit ourselves to one additional solid and/or one additional print.   So, here is the charm pack layed out on a grey pebble print that I am going to use as a backing, and possibly as a background fabric on the front as well...

 And after laying it all out on the table, I couldn't resist and I started sewing.  At first I was thinking I would do a pinwheel quilt.  I started sewing some more HSTs for my pinwheels.  I decided to use a new method... (well, it was new to me and can be found HERE), and I will NEVER do it any other way, it was so easy and accurate.  (NOTE: While I like the explanation on the link, I don't know about the accuracy of some of the math)... But after doing 3, I stopped.  I JUST made almost 600 of these, I want to do something DIFFERENT.
So I changed gears and started sewing the charm pack squares into large nine patches.  I dropped them all into a box and started grabbing them out and sewing them together, almost randomly.  I got them all sewn into sets of three, next, I'll combine 3 of those to make a nine patch, and then I am going to start cutting those up and re-sewing them together... I'll try to be better about getting "in process" photos.

Then I looked at the clock and realized it was 2 AM, and I reluctantly put it all away and went to bed!

Until Next Time...