Thursday, September 25, 2014

Breezing Along the Choose Your Own Block-Along

I've been busy with church activities this week, but I finally finished all the cutting for my Math Class quilt and managed to get six more blocks done for Choose Your Own Block-Along. The blocks go together very easily and quickly and with the added incentive to finish a block weekly, I might get done in time for my daughter's birthday in October instead of waiting until Christmas!

The X blocks are made by sewing printed strips to 6-inch squares and cutting edges off on the diagonal. The equals sign is simply 5 strips sewn together.

Chain piecing really helps speed things along, and I've found that pressing each as I sew it makes the final press so much easier.

I am linking to Cindy's blog. Be sure and visit the other links to see the varieties of blocks.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Today is my opportunity to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop. I am so honored to have been nominated by Christine of Patchwork Allsorts, whose blog I discovered several weeks ago. Christine makes beautiful patchwork and embroidered pieces and has inspired me to take up handiwork again! Read her post from last Monday HERE and get to know her a little better.

The Around the World Blog Hop is a great way to meet new bloggers by sharing about yourself, your projects, and your creative process, and then inviting three other bloggers to participate the following week. I was thrilled when the three bloggers I asked said “Yes!”, and I am eager to read their posts next Monday. Amy of Indigo Cottage Quilts is a quilter who lives in Ohio and also happens to be a pediatric nurse! She has a beautiful 12 year old daughter who not only helps her choose fabric but has even made a quilt of her own. Dawn of Sew Much to Quilt blogs from Australia and is a fairly recent new grandmother. She does beautiful embroidery, by hand and with her sewing machine, and is in our Gale Pan Patchwork Loves Embroidery Sew-Along. Gayle of Pedal Sew Lightly lives in Georgia and is an avid quilter who also loves bicycling. Her posts are full of beautiful quilting, really good tips, and humor. I love all their blogs and learn so much from these lovely ladies.

A Little Background
My husband and I have been married 45 years in October. We grew up in northeastern Oklahoma, married in college, had a son and daughter, and have moved back and forth between Oklahoma and Texas with my husband's jobs. Our children are married; our son lives six miles from us with our wonderful daughter-in-law and three awesome grandchildren. Our beautiful daughter married our sweet son-in-law in January, and they live near Dallas about 4 hours away. My husband is Business Director for a church, and we live in Magnolia TX with our dog and cat. We are looking forward to my husband's retirement in the next year or two (although that may not happen if I don't stop buying fabric.) My careers have been math teacher, administrative assistant, and most recently, caterer for my own company, For Goodness Sake. I am retired but still cook for occasional dinners at our church as a volunteer. During the fall and spring, I am in charge of Wednesday night dinners for 6 weeks, and that time commitment limits my sewing time.

College dance 1968

Our brood 2014 (our son on the left, our daughter at the far end)

I currently have several projects working. Four years ago when I started quilting, I let my daughter pick out fabric for a quilt, and the blocks I made are still sitting and waiting in a basket. I couldn't decide on a pattern and I was clueless about designing a quilt; consequently I am not satisfied with what I’ve made so far. The fabrics are lovely, but her taste in colors has changed since then; however, I am determined to finish it! I'm excited about the quilt label - I purchased an orphaned cross stitched "Home Is Where the Heart Is" piece at a thrift shop, pulled the fabric out of the frame, and changed the word "Home" to "Quilt" so it now reads "Home Is Where the Quilt Is".

My daughter chose shades of mauve, purple, aqua, olive green, and a deep burgundy-brown

Another project began two years ago when my niece sent me the quilt top her maternal grandmother pieced. I have added a backing and a border, but I need to sandwich, quilt, and bind it. I didn't think to warn her not to wash it before she sent it, and many of the blocks frayed badly on the outer edges, so I repaired some blocks and added a coordinating border. It is the biggest quilt I have worked on, and I have been putting off sandwiching it! However after I got it out of the closet, photographed it, looked at the pictures, I am anxious to get moving on it again.
Front of my niece's quilt - I think her grandmother did a beautiful job piecing it

Quilt back - I found some fabrics that coordinated pretty well

It is amazing how well the old fabric in the lower triangle matches the new fabric of the border block

I purchased the kit for this math class quilt by Sweetwater for my daughter’s Christmas gift, have most of the cutting done and four blocks made. I blogged about it last week for Choose Your Own Block-Along.

I love this pattern by Atkinson Designs and recently purchased vinyl and zippers to make a few for my church's fall market.

Seeing some of Christine's gorgeous embroidered blocks inspired me to buy three patterns from Mountain Patchwork, and I have completed Garden Gate. It was a real test of my rusty hand-stitching!
Garden Gate Pattern

I recently joined a group Sew-Along for Gale Pan’s Patchwork Loves Embroidery (see the badge in my sidebar) and have been re-learning embroidery skills! We post every two weeks, and so far I have made a little bag and a sewing folder.

You can see other projects I've completed by clicking on one of the girls in my sidebar, or here.

I love all kinds of needlework including crochet, embroidery, and cross stitch as well as quilt making, patchwork, and sewing. I also love to tinker with crafts such as re-purposing second-hand items. If I can ever figure out a way to combine all those things into one big project, I’ll never leave my craft/sewing space again. Right now all my supplies occupy the same room but in different spots, so as the mood strikes me I will work on one thing today and another tomorrow. With nearly everything I make, I like to try to do something just a little bit different or unexpected to make it original. I sew and quilt on a Janome DC3050 that I purchased with catering profits. It has been the best investment ever - sews like a dream and never any problems.

An older photo of my beloved Janome, along with my favorite wine

My grandmothers both quilted by hand, and my Mom sewed my clothes until I took charge of the sewing machine when I was 13. Taking a class and completing a single hand pieced and hand quilted block in 1982 created a spark of interest in quilting, but I really got interested after my sweet Mom passed away in 2010. She had lived with us for 8 years and died at age 98, and I believe her sweet spirit inspired me to take a quilting class. I was immediately hooked and have been learning and enjoying the entire process since then.

My mother at age 20 on the left. She sewed her own clothes and was quite stylish! On the right at age 98 - still beautiful!

Doll quilt made by my paternal grandmother, Hattie Eulelah "Lela" Thomas Lawhorn

Quilts made by my maternal grandmother, Minnie Elzada Turner Mitchell

My mother and grandmothers instilled a deep desire to create with my hands, but I also have a love of putting things together or fitting them together. I have a degree in mathematics and always loved solving a problem but was not keen on the theory behind it. Similarly I loved diagramming sentences in English, but interpreting stories was torture. Quilting and sewing fulfill my need to find a solution!

I share space with the guest bedroom, so the bed provides a very handy space to organize or sort, plus I can catch a quick nap if I like. I have furnished my room mostly with furniture purchased at consignment shops and thrift stores. My recent organizing was documented in this post. Today I photographed my space without cleaning it first, so pardon the mess.

Looking from just inside the door

View from the closet - my sewing table overlooks our pool with pine and oak trees in the distance. Above my window is a shelf displaying floral plates my mother collected for me

Shelf units with supplies, trinkets, and mementos from my Granny and my Mom, and the closet containing fabric, yarn, embroidery, and craft supplies

Space to the left of my sewing table - books about sewing, needlework, and quilting

An old spice shelf for my threads and a little collection of embroidery scissors atop my Mom's vintage embroidered dresser scarf. The Lord's Prayer (upper left) was stitched for my Mom by one of her friends, and the "Mother by Chance, Friend by Choice" to its right was stitched for me by my daughter

My favorite picture of Mom and Daddy and some of her trinkets on a shelf I refurbished

The Twenty-Third Psalm hand-stitched by my mother in the 1970s for a departing pastor. Last year the son of that pastor contacted me to ask me if I'd like to have it back, as his dad was moving to a retirement home. I am so grateful to have it!

Cutting table, Panasonic cord-free iron, overhead light with magnifier donated to me by my hubby, and a painting by my granddaughter on top of the shelf unit

My workbench with a pegboard of various tools; shelves hold fabric glue and media paints

Thank you for spending the time to plow through all this information and numerous photos! It was a good process for me, because now I am eager to finish projects that I have avoided.

Don't forget to check these blogs next Monday: Indigo Cottage Quilts, Sew Much to Quilt, and Pedal Sew Lightly.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Choose Your Own Block-Along - Math Class Quilt

Cindy at Live a Colorful Life writes one of my favorite blogs, and when she wrote this post about accountability in quilting, it struck a chord with me. She and some of her friends decided that a collaborative effort might help keep each other accountable for the multitude of projects they have started but not finished (sound familiar?) Choose Your Own Block-Along will link up weekly on Mondays, and I chose to join in the fun.

Math Class Quilt

I normally don't buy quilt kits, but when I saw this Math Class Quilt pattern by Sweetwater, I loved the name, the idea, and the fabrics. Fabric Buffet had the best price, so I sprung for it.

The fabrics - oh I love them. Moda's Elementary by Sweetwater has names like Geometry, Equations, Art Class, Measure Up, Biology and colors of blue, tan, cream, and black.

Numbers and equations!

This will be the perfect Christmas gift for my daughter. Although she works in the field of oil and gas exploration and production as an Engineering/Geoscience Technician, she was a whiz in mathematics and majored in those studies for awhile in college. She and I are nerd-ish in our shared love of all things related to math (we celebrate Pi Day), so this will be the perfect Christmas gift for her.

The diagram shows a different border than the black, but I'm sticking with black - I think it makes the quilt. The quilt finishes at 66x71, so it should make a great TV watching quilt for her.

I started cutting yesterday afternoon and decided to put together a few blocks so I could post on today's link-up. Be sure and check out the other blogs!

 Choose Your Own Block-Along

Monday, September 15, 2014

Stitch A Little Love Patchwork Loves Embroidery SAL

For this week's Patchwork Loves Embroidery Sew-Along I choose to make Stitch A Little Love Sewing Folder. This folder finished at about 7 x 10 inches, although the pattern is for 8 x 10-1/2 inches. For the main fabric I used pieces cut from a pillowcase I found at Goodwill. The remainder was from my stash.

The inside has pockets, and it is tied with a cord. If I make it again, I might add some lightweight fusible fleece to give it a little more body.

I plan to put add notions such as an embroidery hoop, scissors, embroidery thread, and a pattern before I give it to our church fall market to sell.

My stitching was improved this time by adding fusible interfacing before I worked the embroidery stitches. Amazing what works when I actually follow the instructions. I chose to add fabric hearts instead of stem-stitched hearts. My needle turn applique skills are not geared toward such small objects, so I used fabric glue to secure them and added a quilting stitch.

I enjoyed making this little folder so much I plan to make one of the other folder patterns included in Gale Pan's Patchwork Loves Embroidery for our next link-up in two weeks.

Katy right before she pounced on the folder

Be sure and visit some of the other blogs that are joining me in the link-up today.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Garden Gate Patchwork

I recently discovered the blog of Christine at Patchwork Allsorts and am drawn to her pretty embroidery. When I saw this beautiful stichery I decided I had to buy one of the double stitch patterns from Mountain Patchwork. During the month of September they have free shipping!

Christine has a stash of Tilda fabrics, which are gorgeous fabrics not readily available here in the States. I have to admit I'm envious of her stash. I started to buy a few pieces on Etsy, but in the end I decided to use some of the "unloved fabrics" that had been weeded out of my stash during The Purge a few weeks ago. They are batiks which attracted me initially, but I didn't love them anymore. However once they were cut and sewn together I loved them again.

I haven't hand sewn for a long time, and my stitches show it. Sewing a straight line is not as easy as it used to be, and my embroidery stitches look spidery to me. But I decided it adds to the charm. For the double stitch thread I used variegated Superior Rainbows with shades of lavender, sage green, and pink, and for embroidering the flowers, ribbons, and stems I used Cosmo thread.

I am working on re-purposing/refinishing a frame for it and will post a final picture. Thanks to Christine for answering my numerous questions about this project!