Be My Valentine

Okay, I know I’m late.  Late for Valentine’s Day.  But better late than never, right? Another entry into Friday Finishing School.  In fact, today I have two!mini-love-quilt

I finished sewing down the binding on my LOVE mini quilt–here it is!  Okay, on to the red and white.

be-my-valentine

Be My Valentine, Quilt #94

I threw a color catcher into the washer to catch the red dye–obviously I needed two, judging by the fact that the little ladies now have a light pink background instead of a white background.  It’s interesting how some of the whites were tinted pink and others were not.  Go figure.

The back.

I wanted something fun for the label, so I cut out a piece of fabric from the front, and printed onto that. It really is squared up.  Ignore the photo.

Beauty shot of the quilting on the front.  I used a thicker thread–King Tut, because I wanted those circles to stand out.  I have to say I really like quilting with Superior Thread’s King Tut.  And I buy my thread from them, just like everyone else does.  No, they are not a sponsor.  Yes, we are having a giveaway but only because I like their product.  I also use the Guterman that I get on a 50% off coupon at  the big box fabric store, but I’ve only really been happy with that for piecing, not for quilting the top.  (And no, I don’t buy into that myth about polyester thread “cutting” the cloth.)  I have also used Sulky on occasion, but sometimes I don’t like the shiny look of the polyester, and head back to the cottons.  Some quilts call for one kind of thread, other quilts call for other threads.

And on the back I used Superior’s Bottom Line thread in white. How did I ever start using this?  It was when I was sewing my Empty Nest, Full Life quilt, and I just couldn’t get the threads to balance properly with their locking of the stitch in between the front and the back.  I think I had purchased a spool of Bottom Line at the last quilt show I’d gone to and in desperation, wound it onto the bobbin to try.  It’s a lighter weight thread, and I think Heather (Mother Superior, as she is known on the website) told me that a lot of show quilters used it because they could more densely quilt their quilts.  That fact didn’t sway me at all (you know how much I hate densely quilted quilts), but the fact that I didn’t have loopy loops or pulled threads to the front did convince me it was something to have around.  I loosen the tension on the top a little, sometimes a lot.  Then I write that on a post-it note and keep it near the machine for when I have to come back to it.  Generally, with a thicker thread on top, I lower it by one full point–from a 4.0 to a 3.0.

So I tend to use it always in the bobbin.  I’ve always wanted to try it in hand piecing, as it is as fine as silk.  Some day.  There you go–two Friday Finishes!

Valentine Quilt–Getting Unstuck

Tomorrow it will be one month since my surgery.  In my dream last night  I was clothed in a heavy coat, trying to get up into a tall vehicle, and unable to lift my leg to get in.  Over and over I tried, like we get sometimes with our pajamas or nightgowns caught up in sheets and too sleepy to figure out how to untangle ourselves.  So that’s how it felt in my dream–like I couldn’t go forward, couldn’t get up in that car that was going to take me somewhere.  I was stuck. I woke up, trying to get oriented.  The house was quiet, as I had slept in really late and my husband had gone.  I stumbled into the shower and began to cry.  Why is it that tears come so easily these days?  The doctor said it will take six to eight weeks to recover from surgery and I’m only at week four.  So I guess I can expect some of this. It just drives me crazy, that’s all.  I just want to be me again, an impossible wish.

But as I dressed, still teary, I asked myself that question I do sometimes when I’m in a stuck space: What do you want to have accomplished by the end of this day?  What do you want to have done?

I don’t ever need to write it down, because it’s only one thing I have to identify.  And today, I wanted to have the Valentine Quilt sewn together.

And just knowing that pulled me into my studio, got me sewing the little white squares on the end of red strips, cutting, ironing, and what you see is up on the pin wall at 2:00 p.m.–leaving me the rest of the afternoon to sew it together.

The original is 64″ square–and 8 by 8 square quilt.  I just need mine to hang up in the hallway, so I went with six by six.  That will leave me some extra squares to make some pillows to throw on beds.

UPDATE: I drew up some loose instructions and have it for you at its new home: Revisiting the Red & White Pinwheel.

So, the bottom line is I made it through my funk.  I climbed up into that imaginary car today — bum leg and all — and got going.  I dried my tears, straightened my shoulders and began sewing the cloth together.  Like I imagine hundred of other quilters have done before me, in good times and bad.

FSF–Autumn Quilt

I just finished sewing this together, and smoothed back up on the wall to do the next step: audition borders.  Those blocks have been orphaned on my wall for nearly a month now, so it’s nice to have them all sewn together (so I won’t worry about them falling off and never getting them back in the arrangement I’d decided on).

I went up to Bluebird Fabrics, which stocks a lot of Kaffe Fassett fabrics, thinking that his florals might do the trick.  But I decided it was mixing two different time epochs–not where I want to go with this quilt.  So I dug back into the stash, looked through some books and think I’m heading toward a pieced border, with that stripe as a divider to let those edges glow.  It’s interesting how “of a certain date” these fabrics are, as well as a certain look.  I’m trying for a mellow quilt top here, like the golds and reds and browns of autumn mellow into a beautiful display every year.

But Mother Nature always has a leg up on us, as she paints her fall palate.  I noticed when we were in Canada last month, how much better the Halloweeny/Fall colors looked against a gray sky and the softer contrasts found in the northern autumn light.  All those pumpkins look out of place here in Southern California, with our bright light and the continuous greens of plants and trees.  So it’s no accident that we don’t have “fall” here, at least not until January, when the liquid ambers blaze into brilliant reds, then quickly turn brown and fall off the tree.  So, as I work, I try to keep in mind the atmosphere of Montreal and Quebec City and the small island north of that old city as I work on this quilt.  Luckily it’s supposed to rain tomorrow, which will help me stay focused.

FSF–Halloween House

At long last.  After the holiday.  In time for next year:

Binding on and stitched down.  Label is coming. . . later. . .as are most things in my life right now.  We’re in crunch time at school and if you think witches in doorways and skeletons all dressed up going to a party are scary, you haven’t seen midterms and research papers for some time now.  Yesterday the students all dragged in after having taken the fiction exam last week.  They looked, in a word, bedraggled and like that scene in Roger Rabbit where the character is run over by a steamroller.  Only these young adults hadn’t popped back up yet, cartoony-like.  I opened with a few jokes, but really folks, we had more work to do.  My wry comments were followed quickly by a more thorough reading of the Research Paper packet and ideas for drafting.  There’s no way to avoid it–it’s work work work until the end of the semester.

We shifted gears and discussed the play that was assigned to them, as well as the difference between fiction and drama.  I gave them a pop quiz and wrote a condensed version of our final few classes in a modified calendar up on the board.  A few squares, like the quilt above, filled with goblins (essays), research papers (witches), exams and presentations (other scary things).  Finally, one young man spoke up, his voice weary: “It’s nice to know we have a light at the end of this tunnel.”  The ice was broken, everyone laughed, and their spirits rose a bit in order to finish the group projects, get their exams returned (they had all studied hard and did well) and move on out into the crisp California afternoon.

Halloween’s over.  The work continues.  Reading and writing for them, grading for me.  And maybe an hour or few stolen for another quilt project.  Just to keep the goblins at bay.

Think Freddy Purse-FSF

Earlier, this week this is what it looked like with the purse laid out, as I’m trying to figure out where everything goes.  I wanted a purse that looked “Think-Freddy-ish” without screaming “HEY I’M A QUILTER!”  You know what I mean.  Clothes, purses — there’s art,  and then there’s I’M-A-QUILTER-clothes.  The best example of the latter was when I went to Houston and some woman had made a vest out of all the tote bags, complete with the handles hanging down all over.  And yes, I’ve made a garment or two that fit into that category. Let’s not go there, because I still like that jacket.

Hoping I’m splitting that line, here.  Side One.

Side Two, with a little pocket.

Same side without the Metro map.

Zipper pocket for phone.  Gazillion pockets for everything else.  I looove pockets in my purses.

Like I said, I like Nancy’s designs, but it does take a rocket scientist to figure out her directions.  It helps if you’ve sewn a purse before.  How do you like that fabric on that lining?  Good way to use that Children at Play paper airplane design.  I love the soft aqua.  Good feelings here on finishing up something this Friday and I hope you’re having some too.

Tomorrow is the Temecula Quilt Show, where they hang their quilts all over outside, kind of like the Sisters Show, but think Cowboys Meet Quilters.  And then the Red/White Quilt show over at Temecula Quilt Company.  I’m looking forward to this all (plus getting a flu shot — must be fall!).