Sunday, April 22, 2012

Basting Fail

This is the border for Christmas Yet to Come. It was last year's Block of the Month. I'm posting the picture here because my original blog posts were lost. I have the entire quilt top together now, but apparently haven't taken a picture of it just yet.

All that I have left to do is to baste it and then quilt the snot out of it. (Technical term.) In order to enjoy the quilting process it will have to be very well basted.

This is not well basted. This is epic basting fail. Afraid of bearding (when the white batting fibers migrate through black fabric to give the quilt an hazy fuzziness), I decided to try a black batting. This batting is a polyester batting, supposedly designed for easy machine quilting.

Balderdash. By the time I was done basting it was so full of static cling that it was impossible to deal with. Full of nasty bubbles and pleats, the only good part was that I had used my beloved basting gun and could quickly pull the layers apart to start over.

So, the project is stalled, again. I don't know when I'll ever get it finished. I need to do some more research into black battings, or perhaps wool batting and how much it beards. Wool would be nice because it's a big quilt (102 inches square) and already rather heavy. Rats.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Now for something completely different

I've been playing. For the last week or so, I've been playing with pretend stained glass.

In the room off the dining room, the one that first was my sewing room/office, then became the computer room, then my youngest son's lair and finally has become a for-real den, we have lower cabinets that are in desperate need of help.

Originally the cabinets had a tacky sort of fabric stapled in the center panel. Since the folks who owned the house before us were rather wealthy, I'm guessing that they paid a lot of money for the yucky stuff. (After pulling it down, we discovered that the hideous wall paper in the master bedroom was hand screened by a famous artists of the sixties. No accounting for taste, I'll let you decide whose, mine or theirs.)

Since I was raising galoots, once the room was turned over for their use, it was only a matter of time before the fabric was bashed in. The monsters (umn, rambunctious boys) even broke one of the doors, wrestling over a game controller, I think. Or so they say.

Now that we have an empty nest we figured it was time to start fixing the stuff they broke, and maybe even improving the place some. So, I started by paging through my applique design files. Grabbing a flower from one, the butterfly and leaves from another, I played with them until I had something I liked. Printed out and glued together, these cartoons became my guide lines.

Following the lines, faux lead caming was applied. I really enjoyed this step, it was very relaxing to lay down the self-sticking strips of lead, curving them gently and slicing them to length with an exacto knife. Liquid lead dots cover the joins. I kind of like them at this stage. Simple and graphic.

But of course, my unending quest to capture a rainbow spurred me on. I didn't really have a plan when I started, but I figured it out as I filled the spaces. Peachy orange flowers on a sky blue background seemed to be just the right thing. The little squares of color in the border make me smile. By the time I finished the fourth panel I had it down to a recipe, mixing colors to get the effect I wanted.

We couldn't decide, should all four panels be the same? Or perhaps I should create four related designs, just so I wouldn't get bored with it. In the end I decided to do two mirror imaged sets of the same design. And I found the filling of the spaces just as restful and enjoyable as leading. By the way, it's called Gallery Glass, by Plaid, and I bought most of the stuff at our local Jo-Ann's.

The dark spots are areas which still need to dry. Kent is going to put small LED lights inside the cabinets so the windows will glow. Now that my part is done (the panels aren't mounted yet), I've been wandering the house, looking for another spot of glass to color.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pilgrim and Roy Invitational Challenge

Once again I have been invited to create a quilt for the Pilgrim/Roy Challenge. Each year a dozen or so national teachers are selected to make a quilt from preselected fabric. We're not required to use all six fabrics, and we may add up to two more. I've added the light green and the off white at the bottom. The quilts will make their debut at this year's AQS show in Paducah, then they will travel for a year. Next year, in Paducah, they will be auctioned off to benefit the Quilt Museum.

After giving it some thought, I designed a posy that's sort of a take on a rose of sharon, only it's overlapping stars instead of ruffled circles. Each posy has ten parts, and there are 31 posies. That's a lot of parts. Using my addressing system, though, made quick work of the getting the templates done, and the seam allowances trimmed.

Glue basting presented a bit of a problem. The way the petals overlapped made it a challenge to conceal raw edges. After some fooling around I realized that I needed to baste over one of the pointed ends, which would provide a finished edge for the next petal.

Instead of making bias stems, which are quick and easy, I decided to create a template to keep all of the curves uniform. Basting such a big, wobbly piece is pretty much no fun at all. To make it a little easier, I only trimmed away just the inside curve, leaving the fabric on the outside curve side to stabilize it. Once the inside curve is glue basted, it will make it easier to trim and glue baste the outside curve side.

After all eleventy million parts are basted, the posies sewn together, it's time to applique the lot to the background. I couldn't decide, dots or no dots. I made a couple of dozen 3/4 inch circles out of the light polka dot fabric. The original design included them. I put some in place and walked around the quilt for a few days. In the end, I thought the dots made it too busy, so off they went into my dot stash.

To make up for the loss of the dots, I filled the background with bubbles.

Lots and lots of bubbles.

The collection is available to borrow for inclusion in other shows. Contact them to schedule a time to add these quilts to your local exhibit.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter with the grands

One of my favorite family traditions is our Easter egg hunt. When the boys were little we would host Easter dinner with my sisters and their families. The thirteen Michigan cousins, ranging in age from one to sixteen (mine are the oldest), would dash about our yard, finding dozens and dozens of hidden plastic eggs, filled with goodies galore.

 To keep things a little more equal, we would ask the kids to find and bring back one egg at a time. Some years the kids would keep what they found. Other years we would break the eggs into one big bowl and let them choose their favorites.

We had beautiful weather for Easter weekend this year, making for a perfect day to hunt eggs. This was our first year to hunt with the grandbabies. Such joy!

After the hunt, we relaxed into enjoying the spring weather at the pond. Alex, who is now almost five, loves feeding the fish. Nicole, who just turned two, is quickly getting the hang of it.

They both get a kick out of tossing the small edging stones into the pond. By the looks of it, we could sure use to fill in some spots where they've picked it clean. Both their mom and Auntie Elaine are elementary ed teachers, so it quickly became a game of "float or not float". When mommy asked, "what floats" it was all I could do to keep from saying "very small rocks". (Monty Python fans will understand.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Embracing Technology

Earlier this year I bought a tablet. My justification was that I could use it to swipe credit cards when I'm traveling, and it works great for that. But it also let me watch Downton Abbey on Netflix while I was teaching at Road to California. (How did I miss that great show the first time around?)

It's a Samsung Galaxy, the larger one, and I love it. I'm hoping to be able to retire my travel laptop and lighten my carry on load. While working on the new blog today I noticed that Blogger has an android app. Wouldn't it be cool if I could blog from my tablet? Wouldn't it be super cool if I could take pictures with my tablet to include in the blog?

So, here we go. Here's my test post.

Hmm. Looks like I have a little more to learn.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

No Fooling

Well, that was fun. Not. For the past couple of weeks we've been struggling with a misbehaving blog. I'm not sure if we were hacked, or if the outdated version of Word Press just finally bit the dust, but some corrupted file kept closing us down. And not just the blog, it would take my entire website with it.

Both disconcerting and a little comforting, the calls and emails came, checking to see if we were still here, still in business. While it's nice to be missed, having to say, "yes, yes, we know it's down, we're working on it," day after day, was very frustrating. Especially since it wasn't me working on it, but my indefatigable spouse, spending hours in front of a computer after spending hours in front of computer at his day job. I do believe I heard swearing, from a man who rarely loses his temper.

In the end it was decided to chuck Word Press, and the whole self-hosting thing, and give Blogger a try. So far, so good. As you can see from the few blog posts, this blog has been dormant for a while. Over the next few days I'll be working on reposting some of my previous posts, especially for ongoing projects like my new book, Christmas Yet to Come, the Pilgrim/Roy Challenge and my gardens to name a few.

I'm looking forward to finally being able to have some of the nifty gadgets that I've so envied on other blogs. Several steps for posting pictures have been removed from the process. That's promising for this camera adverse blogger.

We're kind of funny here, I guess. We drive cars until they refuse to go any more. We stay with jobs after the time to move on has past. We give friends and family the benefit of the doubt much longer than they deserve. We stick it out.

Eventually something comes along to pop us out of our comfortable rut. Change can be scary, and change for change's sake is just silly. (That doesn't apply to rearranging furniture.) But sometimes change is necessary, so we change. And in doing so, learn that sometimes the view is so much better. After all, the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.