Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Better Late than Never!

I can't believe we're already more than a week into October!  And, I know, I know... I neglected to post a blog entry for September.  I think I got a little overwhelmed with the end of summer, school starting for my brand new 6th grader son, and just overall busy times.  So, here I am trying to play catch up.  Quilt-life-wise, let's talk about what's been going on in my world. 

Did I mention before that I entered a couple of my miniature quilts into the juried show at the Houston International Quilt Festival?  Well, I did!  I entered Baby Bear and Rings of Love, and Baby Bear made it through the jury and will be hanging in the show.  So exciting!  I didn't win a ribbon for her, but I'm still very proud that I am a finalist and will have a quilt hanging in "the big show" here in Houston.

My miniature Baby Bear quilt.
We also had the exhibit of Mom's quilts going on all summer at the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, Texas.  Mary and I, along with a group of quilting friends, went out there (finally!) to see the exhibit in mid-September.  I have to say, it was absolutely fantastic.  The building has a wonderful history, and it provides a perfect backdrop for the quilts.  The curator told us that it was one of the most popular exhibits that they've had, especially where the two main galleries were taken up by only one artist.  She said that she called Mom the Picasso of quilting because, similar to Picasso, her talents went through a variety of phases and periods, and touched on all different facets of the art form of quilting.  While we were there, we got to do a "walkabout tour" with the museum guests, where we toured them through the quilts and talked about our memories and knowledge of the different ones that were hanging there.  So fun!

And what have I worked on and/or finished since August?  Not as much as I'd have liked.  That's for sure!  I caught up (again) on the next couple of months of the Antebellum Album BOM that I'm doing through Barbara Brackman's website.  Month 8 was a very simple and very quick Southern Cross.  And, month 9 was a bit more complicated Lexington Belle block.  I'm really liking the way the whole quilt is turning out... and I'm tempted to go to Barbara's Etsy page and buy the patterns for the last couple of months so I don't have to wait!!!

Month 8 - Southern Cross

Month 9 - Lexington Belle

On the design wall and coming together quite nicely!

I also finished a block to send to Corey Pearson of Linda'sElectric Quilters.  He asked a group of women, all of whom attend an annual Statler retreat, to each send him a 6" (finished) block of their favorite pattern, made of all grey and white fabrics.  It's a surprise whatever he is planning to do with all of them.  I picked a variation on a Lone Star block, called a ????.  Why did I pick a block with so many y-seams?  I have NO IDEA!!!  I always have trouble with them, and I have trouble making the seams in the pieced points matching up.  You can see in the photo below that it's definitely not perfect.  I'm pretty sure I'll be taking it apart, at least parts of it, to do a little rework before I send it to Corey.

My 6" (finished) Prairie Star block... forgive the mismatched points!!!
Last thing to mention this month... I finished quilting to beauty last week.  It's one of Joyce Lundrigan's All-in-One patterns called Stars Encompassed.  I think it's absolutely beautiful!  Now, I will say that my Statler was giving me absolute FITS throughout the process, which slowed me down a lot.  It wasn't stitching smooth lines, so the curves weren't smooth and the lines weren't always straight.  I did all kinds of troubleshooting, and am now down to checking on my quilt loading skills, testing particular patterns, and playing around with all of the different variables (thread types, needle sizes, tension adjustments, etc.).  I need to get moving on getting some quilt tops quilted and finished!

Still on the machine being quilted...

Unloaded and being turned to finish the outside borders.

Overall quilting... it's a beautiful design!

A little closer view of the quilting... oops, my toes are in there!
That's all I've got for now!  Besides, I've only got a couple of weeks until November.  OH!  Which reminds me... I think we can all count on my post being late in November so I can post plenty of pics from Festival!!!

Keep on quilting,

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Heat Wave!

Wow, it's hot out there!  I'm not sure what the weather is doing in other parts of the country (and world), but it's been steady around 100F down here in Houston, with wicked humidity and a ridiculously large mosquito population.  All the more reason to stay inside and work on some quilts!!!  This month I have some finished projects, some in-work projects, and some lessons learned to share.

First, finished projects.  And, I have to clarify that by "finished" I mean I've finished quilting them, not that I've necessarily put the binding on!  Hehe.  The first quilt that I finished this month is that red, black, and white quilt that's going into the Lakeview Quilters Guild annual auction in a few weeks.  I had so much fun with this one!  I picked an edge-to-edge feather pattern, a new one that I had just gotten from Wildflower Quilting's July club called New Bountiful.  And, I used variegated black and white thread.  I just love how it turned out!

Corner of the quilt, showing the variegated feathers.

Back of the quilt, which is actually black and not grey.

Overall view of the quilt.

I finished a second quilt for the auction just Monday night, after picking it up Monday evening.  Talk about a busy night!  This one is a really pretty rail fence pattern with bright pastels (if that makes sense) and a buttery background color.  I used my very favorite E2E pattern, which I've used several times now, called Spiral Pano 001 by Kimberlee Diamond.

Close up view of the quilting.
Overall view of the quilt.  I love it!
There really will be some gorgeous quilts up for bid at the auction.  If you're in the area, make some time to come visit!  Let's see... I also finished quilting both of Sheila's quilts that I shared last month.  She's super happy with them, which means I'm super happy with them!

Close up of Myrtle's Broken Dishes with bubble quilt pattern.
Overall view of Myrtle's Broken Dishes.
Close up of Toile de Jouy, still on the machine being quilted.
Close up of Toile de Jouy.
Overall view of Toile de Jouy (kind of).  Beautiful!
The last quilt that I finished this month was actually started this month also... start to finish, design to quilted... a baby quilt for some very dear friends of mine who were finally blessed with a baby boy through adoption.  I'm so very happy for them, and happy with this quilt for their new son.  They both work at NASA, like me, so I picked some space themed fabrics to use, and Dad is from Ohio, so I added in some bright colored Ohio Stars.  I think they'll love it!  If you can see it in the pictures, the quilting pattern is even space themed with rockets, stars, and planets.

Close up of baby space quilt.
Overall view of baby space quilt.
The other project that I worked on this month is my Barbara Brackman Antebellum Album BOM.  I caught up on the monthly blocks, including even the July block!  And, I got ahead (at least in my opinion) by making all of the setting blocks as well.  Thank goodness for two day sewing bees where I sit and sew to my heart's content!

My version of Barbara Brackman's Antebellum Album Quilt BOM.
And, last but not least, I had several lessons learned this month.  Some were quite a bit more painful than others, but all were taken in stride!  At one point this month, I was sewing along on one of Sheila's quilts and Carol Ann (my Gammill's name) started screeching!  And I mean SCREECHING!  Every time she stitched, she screamed at me.  I'd post the video, but I don't want to scare any of you!  It scared me half to death, so I posted in a Statler group on Facebook and got multiple responses in minutes.  Apparently, this is a normal occurrence in SOME Statler machines, where grease gets into the oil lines and blocks them up, causing the machine to act like it's not getting oil.  There's a very easy fix, which I was able to take care of in a few minutes.  Now, I just need to remember to do it every 6 to 12 months.  Whew!

Next up, stitching on that same quilt of Sheila's, I rolled it and saw a HUGE rats nest of thread on the backside.   EEEEKKKK!  I'd never had that happen before.  Luckily, it was easy to clip out all of the threads from the back since they were so nested up, and I got some good practice in with restitching and matching up the pattern points.  From what I can tell, it got toward the end of the bobbin and went crazy on me, so maybe the end wasn't wound properly.  At least I was able to correct it before I unloaded it!

A crazy rats nest on the back of a quilt!
Next lesson learned was on that lovely red, black, and white quilt.  I forgot to baste down the sides of the quilt one time after I rolled it.  Trust me when I say that I will NEVER forget to baste the sides of a quilt down again.  And, I will probably never start my machine and walk away again.  Do you know how hard it is to pick stitches out of batting?!!!  HARD!  LOL!

Never forget to baste down the sides of your quilts before quilting.

Last lesson learned for the month (geez, there were a lot of lessons this month!) was on the beautiful baby quilt.  The stitches just weren't stitching out smoothly!  I wasn't too concerned since it's a baby quilt, but I knew I needed to fix it before I quilted an auction quilt or something that would be in a show.  I cleaned the heck out of Carol Ann, oiled her up, changed the needle, played with tension (the pic has really bad tension), played with the canting of the needle... everything I could think of.  Eventually, I posted on that Facebook group, which is really a lifesaver for me.  I called Statler support and learned how to tighten my belts.  Whew!  That seems to have fixed the issue, thank goodness.  I do think there were also some issues with the white "painted" fabric, and probably those printed space fabrics, too, that could have caused some of the non-smooth stitch lines.

Non smooth stitch line, and bad stitch tension, all in one shot!
That's all I've got for this month.  Stay cool, and enjoy the last few weeks of summer before the kiddos get back to school.  My baby is starting middle school!  Hard to believe!

See y'all next month.  Keep on quilting!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Summer Vacation


We’ll see how this month’s blog goes, but I don’t feel like it will be very lengthy.  Want to know why?!  My family, my sister’s family, and some neighbors all went an Alaskan cruise at the beginning of the month.  It was fabulous!  Seriously, a vacation of a lifetime.  We saw so many beautiful sights and so much wildlife, and learned so much about the history of Alaska, the glaciers, the flora and fauna… best trip EVER!  I even got to visit a quilt shop in Skagway.  LOL!  Pardon me for sharing a few of my favorite photos from the trip…

Dawes Glacier at the end of Endicott Arm Fjord.
Just walking around taking a few photos on Meade Glacier.
Watching whales in Juneau.

A mama bear and three yearlings in Tongass National Forest in Juneau.

Rainforest in Ketchikan.

Don’t forget that the Texas Quilt Museum is hosting an exhibit of Mom’s quilts this summer.  It opened last week, and runs all the way until September 30.  If you’re in Texas, or can make your way down, make sure to stop by.  I know Mary and I will be planning at least one road trip this summer, if not more!


Texas Quilt Museum in LaGrange, Texas.
Remember my friend, Sheila, who I started teaching to quilt last month?  She’s finished not just one, but TWO quilt tops since then!  And, we made a trip out to Painted Pony 'n Quilts this last weekend to pick out fabrics for her next two.  They’ll both be from Joyce Lundrigan’s All-in-One Club, which I’m a part of.  I want the practice using her patterns, but haven’t had time to make the tops yet.  So, Sheila has agreed to make a couple of the tops in exchange for my quilting.  It’s a win-win!

Myrtle's Broken Dishes from Connecting Threads

Toile de Jouy quilt from Connecting Threads
And finally, yes, I did actually get a couple of quilty things done this month.  First, remember that baby stars from last month?  I got almost all of the colored pieces cut out.  Whew!  If you know me, you know I hate cutting, and that was a lot of cutting.  Are you wondering why I said “almost” got the pieces all cut?  It’s because we haven’t picked the colors for the last few months of our exchange.  Again, if you know me, I have some pretty OCD tendencies with things like this, and it’s driving me absolutely nuts to not know.  I mean, how am I supposed to mix and match centers and points evenly when I don’t know the last few colors???  LOL!  I’m still working on getting this month’s set of stars sewn together, but I’ve at least got most of the parts sewn together, and it’s only the first week of July.

All my little pieces cut out, minus the last three months!

My July set of stars, close to being complete!
Last but not least, I finished quilting that Christmas Halo quilt that will be up for sale at the Lakeview Quilters Guild’s auction next month.  Wow!  I used Joyce Lundrigan quilting patterns for almost the entire thing (the exception being the cornerstones), and I think it turned out absolutely gorgeous!  I was so worried about my thread color choices and pattern selection, but in the end, I’m totally happy with the final product.  And it is all for a good cause… support of my guild.

I do have another quilt top that I’ll be loading up to quilt tonight.  It’s a really cute red, black, and white top, again for the guild’s auction.  I think this one will be a pretty edge-to-edge design, and I’ll play around with black and white variegated thread.  Pictures of the finished product to be posted next month!

Another quilt that I'll be quilting for the guild's auction next month.
That’s all I’ve got for now.

See y’all next month.  Keep on quilting!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

School's Out for Summer

It's hot in Texas, as usual, we've already had a named storm in the Gulf, and both my son and my husband (a teacher) are getting to sleep in every day now.  It must be summer!!!  I was so relieved and overwhelmed by my guild's quilt show being over that it took me a week or two to get back into the swing of things again.  My brain, I think, needed a little time to rest and think about nothing!  But, that didn't last too long.  Let's see, what can I show y'all this month?

Let's start with something that I actually checked off of my list this month.  To start, I put another border on my medallion quilt.  Yippee!  I started this quilt a little over two years ago, when I took Winnie Fleming's Ultimate Borders class with Mom.  Since then, it's basically been sitting in a box, waiting for me to pick it up again.  I can officially say that I've picked it up again, and I'm still loving the colors and the way it's shaping up!  There's only one more border left to do (plus another floater border) before it's finished.  The last border will be half Lonestars, using the same colors as the center Lonestar.  It'll be gorgeous, although I'm not looking forward to all of those y-seams!

Another border complete on my medallion quilt!
Speaking of medallions and Lonestars, here's a photo of my friend Cynthia's medallion quilt.  In the photo, she's auditioning a nice dark print for the setting triangles.  My medallion quilt is similar in setup to hers, except for some of the middle border choices... and the colors, of course.  She's almost finished and I'm not scared admit that I'm a little jealous of all those finished half Lonestars!  So pretty!

Testing setting triangle fabrics on Cynthia's medallion quilt.
Back to stuff I've been checking off!  I've been participating in Barbara Brackman's Antebellum Album block-of-the-month group this year, and had fallen behind.  Actually, I was just putting it off because Month 3 was a block with about a bazillion y-seams in it!  Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but it scared me to death.  I finally decided to go for it, and got it done!  I'll admit that I had to rip out some seams and restitch because it was looking too lumpy for my taste, but I'm happy with the final outcome.  I also finished the Month 4 block, and will start working on Month 5 in the next couple of weeks.

Antebellum Album Month 3 - Friendship Star

Antebellum Album Month 4 - Quaker Pride
I also got a couple of community service quilts done.  The first is a brightly colored string quilt.  I played with variegated thread on this one, since it was already so colorful, and I like how it turned out.  I'm most proud of the second one.  I practiced my custom quilting skills and used several Joyce Lundrigan patterns, which I'm absolutely in LOVE with!  The borders are fantastic, and the blocks are gorgeous.  I'm going to have to make a duplicate quilt to keep for myself!

Community Service string quilt.

Close up of Community Service string quilt.

Community Service custom quilted.

Close up of Community Service custom quilted.

Back of Community Service custom quilted.

Now, on to what I've started this month.  I know I have enough already started to keep me busy for years, but sometimes I just can't help myself!  A couple of quilter friends and I have started doing an exchange of teeny tiny, 2-inch (finished) stars, to make the quilt Stardust from the book Every Last Piece by Lynn Harris.  It's such a beautiful quilt!  We're going for a smaller version, more twin size than queen size, only because we want to finish in our lifetimes.  It takes me about an hour per star, and we're making 15 stars each month so we'll finish toward the end of next year.  Whew!  It will be gorgeous!!!

My set of tiny test stars.  Pay no attention to the one with the off-kilter point.

Month 1's stars complete!
I also started teaching my very good friend, Sheila, how to quilt!  After going to my guild's show, she said she wanted to give it a try, so I sent her to Connecting Threads to pick an easy-to-make kit.  She came over and spent a whole day cutting, learning to use my machine (a Bernina 930), and stitching her heart out.  She's hooked!  And I think her husband is hooked as well... he's been researching sewing machines and has already found her a good 930 to buy for herself!  I can't wait to see my fledgling quilter finish her first quilt!!!

A very proud Sheila with her first completed block.
A project that I'll be starting (and finishing) very soon is this Christmas Halo quilt.  The halo star blocks were made by Mom.  Our friend Becky put them together in this beautiful wall hanging size quilt top.  I'll be quilting it and then we'll put it in our guild's annual auction to raise money for the guild.  Knowing the plans I have for quilting it, I may have to bid on it myself!

Christmas Halo wall hanging, not yet quilted.
Very last thing to note... the Texas Quilt Museum folks were here this week to pick up 30 of Mom's quilts for an exhibit there this summer.  The exhibit will run from June 28 through September 30, so if you're in Texas in the next few months, make sure you drop by to check out the show.  It should be a good one!

See y'all next month.  Keep on quilting!
Jenny Arkinson