Wednesday, February 28, 2007

WIP Wednesday: Top Finished

So far this week has still been slow, and it will continue to be slow for quilting until next week when things quiet down a bit at work. I did manage to finish my Single Wedding Ring quilt top, though. I mitered the corners -- my first attempt at mitering borders. Sewing on the first borders and mitering the first corner took me about an hour, but the second went faster. Here is the result of my labor.

I actually finished this top a few days ago, and I was planning to post about how mitering was easier than I thought it would be -- three of my four miters have the points matching exactly where they should be. However, in the meantime, I have ironed the top and laid it out on the bed to take a picture, and lo and behold, it is not very flat at all! Of course, part of the problem is that I haven't straightened it too well, but even on the floor, it is not as flat as it should be. The problem isn't only in the borders, but my mitering probably did not help. The borders have some serious puffs. It is very disappointing. My second insight: this is one gigantic quilt! It covers the entire top of my king size bed! It is going to be quite the experience to quilt this on my home sewing machine.

The other thing I have worked on in the last week (unsuccessfully!) is extending my home computer network. I have a router with wireless, but the master bedroom signal is unreliable, so I want to add another access point. I bought a router/access point, but although I can get it set up as a router, it is not working as an access point! Since I am still in meetings, I don't have time to get it sorted out. Hopefully I will end up with reliable wireless access sometime soon.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Slow Week

I have been so busy with work this week that I have not managed to get much quilting done at all. I managed to miter two of the corners on my Single Wedding Ring quilt. It was my first time mitering corners, and I think they turned out okay. I was going to take a picture, but I realize they need to be pressed first. Instead I will show what I have been doing when I haven't been quilting -- doodling! I intend to use freehand Victorian feathers on this quilt, so I have been practicing them on every available surface. Here are some of the results. All the pages are filled on both sides.

At this point, I think I am ready to start using them on my quilt. At least by the end of this quilt, I should be pretty comfortable with them!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Not Today

I had every intention of finishing the center portion of my single wedding ring quilt today, but it does not look like it is going to happen. I have put a good amount of time into quilting today, but I ended up doing more ripping out than I had expected. When you have to join up two pieced blocks, there are a lot of HSTs coming together, and it did not always go smoothly. I also could never quite figure out how to press the blocks so the seams would interlock. I always ended up with some I needed to flip, and that made it hard to keep things accurate when putting everything together. For one pair of blocks, I first just did a really inadequate job of sewing them together and decided to rip it out. I am not usually too fussy, but this would not have passed the "riding on horseback at 50 yards" test. Then I redid it, and was happy to see that I had hit almost all the points in the right spots, only to find that I had sewed right side to wrong side...on the third try I finally got it right. But I had too many of those kinds of errors, and now the quilt is only partially sewn together and I am exhausted. I still have some time tomorrow morning, but after that I will probably have almost no time to sew for about 2 weeks because of meetings and people staying at my house. Maybe I will try again later tonight.

Sally thought I was spending entirely too much time at my sewing machine, too. She decided to take up this position to see if she could get me to change my mind. She kept leaning her head against the foot pedal. I would move it, and she would move just a bit closer. Silly dog, that won't stop me!

What are you looking at? I'm not doing anything!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Almost there!

Only two more pieced blocks left to do on my single wedding ring quilt. I already have all the plain blocks cut, so I may even have the center portion (less borders) piece by Wednesday! I wonder if I have jinxed myself by saying that? But I really love how quickly quilts with alternate plain blocks go together.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year!

It is a big time for celebrations here. Last night we had fireworks, and there will be more fireworks and firecrackers for the next 3 days. Here are some pictures from last night.

chinese new year fireworks 1

chinese new year fireworks 2

chinese new year fireworks 3

Friday, February 16, 2007

Now what to do with them?

I must admit that I am not the world's most accurate fabric cutter. Most of the time I design my quilts on my own, and I often cut in batches as needed so I don't feel compelled to figure out exactly how many 3" strips I need before I begin piecing. When I do get going cutting strips, I sometimes get carried away, leading to a shortage of fabric later in the process when I need a different size strip or realize that the fabric I have almost used up is exactly the right one for the border. I have tried recently to be a bit more careful recently, especially where border fabrics are concerned, but the impact has not been obvious unless I was working from a pattern in a book.

I originally intended to use blue and orange in all the blocks in my Rattlesnake quilt. Since Karen K. Stone's patterns do not give very precise cutting directions, I happily cut bunches of orange and blue strips from all the fabrics I thought might be fun to put in the quilt. At some point, however, I got the idea of having blue on blue blocks in the outer part of the quilt, blue and orange/red at the next "ring" of blocks, and orange and yellow blocks at the center so that there would be some luminosity. It looks wonderful in EQ, although I am not sure it will work quite as well using my real blocks. I just finished piecing all the yellow and orange/red blocks and all the blue/orange blocks, and I see that I am left with this:
What in the world am I going to do with all these orange and red strips? I do have a red and yellow lender/ender quilt that some could be used for,but this is a lot of strips! A new level of achievement even for me in the over-cutting department. Also, my blues seem to be mostly blue-greens and rather light strips. This may call for some creative quilting in my next quilts!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

WIP Wednesday 2/15

I got confused about the day of the week and almost forgot to post this! It is still Wednesday somewhere, so here is my update.

As I was traveling, I didn't get much quilting done this week, but I did manage to get the center portions of about 4 rattlesnake blocks done. That brings my Rattlesnake quilt to 4 complete blocks and an additional 15 centers. Unfortunately it will need 42 blocks so it will not be done any time soon.

I also got to try out my quick quarter tool for making half square triangles for my Single Wedding Ring quilt. It is wonderful! I can't believe how much faster the whole process went. Trimming the HSTs is still the slowest part of making the block, but now instead of a pile of yet-to-be-trimmed HSTs, I have some completed blocks. That brings me to 12 finished blocks. I only need 20 pieced blocks for the quilt, so it won't be long until this one is done.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Interesting Sign

While DH was traveling in China recently, he came across this sign:

Monday, February 12, 2007

I'm back!

Okay, you probably didn't realize I was gone, but I have been traveling for the last few days. It was a very busy but good trip to Tokyo. I didn't get to go to any quilt shops, but I did make it to one fabric and crafts store. This time my focus was thread. I got some silk thread and some some mettler threads, and a few fat quarters that I couldn't resist. Here are my purchases. The thread is all blue and white because the next quilt I am likely to finish is also blue and white. I need maroon thread for my rattlesnake quilt, but unfortunately I didn't bring a fabric sample, so I was afraid to buy any thread for that quilt.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

WIP Wednesday

Since I just finished my Butterfly Trails quilt, I don't really have much to show for today's WIP Wednesday. Here, then, is the beginnings of my Rattlesnake quilt, based on the pattern in Karen K. Stone's book. Lots of blue and orange/red strips waiting to be sewn into blocks. I love her patterns, and I hope to make a few, but this one is taking a long time. I find I can't do too many at once or I lose concentration and start making mistakes. Now that I have finished Butterfly Trails, I think I will work on this one for a while.

By the way, the strips are hanging on the door to my computer cabinet, which used to close to hide the mess in my "office". I used to hang my strips on the Nordic Track, but now that it is being used, my workspace is suffering the indignity of regular expose. I guess that is a good thing though, LOL.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Oops. But it's done!

I finished up my Butterfly Trails quilt! I was so eager to get it finished that I decided to do the binding by machine, which was probably a mistake on this quilt. The binding is scrappy, so I had a hard time finding thread that would blend in on all the fabrics, and the backing is light, so if I was off at all, it showed on the back. I need much more practice on machine binding!

I was up fairly late putting the binding on, so I was tired when went to put pictures of the quilt up. I had some computer glitches while doing this, and when I tried to fix the problem, I accidentally deleted my entire webshots folder of completed quilts! I put the pictures I had on this computer up, but there are still a lot of gaps! If I have time I will get the rest back up over the next day or two.

All that said, here is my completed Butterfly Trails. I still needs washing and a trim of stray threads (why do they always show up so clearly on photos, but not in person?). There are lots of detailed pictures in my Finished Quilts webshots folder starting here if you are interested.

Butterfly Trails detail

Butterfly Trails detail

Monday, February 5, 2007


Don't tell DH. I was trimming up my quilt and forgot exactly where my cutting mat ended, cutting an inch or two on the table. Luckily, it was our granite kitchen peninsula, not our wooden floor or wooden dining room table! It did a lot more damage to my rotary blade than to the table -- there is a slight scratch in what I think is a protective coating, but that is it. Better be more careful next time!

I have been sewing up the binding together the binding for this quilt, going through all my blues, blue-greens and purples to find 2 1/2" strips and bits and pieces that are too small to be used in other quilts, concentrating on those fabrics that I have either had for ages and am tired of, or that I wonder why I bought in the first place. My stash is pretty small and good fabric is hard to come by, so I really don't like to use good fabric for the binding. I realize that it is important to use good quality since it will get worn out faster than other parts, but still!

Hopefully I will have a picture of the completed quilt for WIP Wednesday.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Butterfly Trails Quilted!

Today was a good quilting day. I just finished up quilting Butterfly Trails. Now it only needs squaring up and binding. I am not sure what to do about binding. I was assuming I would use my leftover Kona Snow, but now that I actually think about it, the outside of the quilt is in blue scraps, and a white binding will not work. I am going to have to go through all my blues to see what blue I am willing to use up in binding.

I thought I was going to be in trouble finishing the quilting because I ran out of the finer light grey thread I bought on a trip a few months ago. I had another grey thread, but it was thicker and a bit too dark, and after quilting a section with it, I wan't too happy (but not unhappy enough to tear it all out either).

Then I remembered I had white silk thread on hand from a dismal silk quilt made a few years ago. I think that Diane Gaudinsky recommends silk thread, and maybe Karen McTavish, too. It was wonderful to quilt with. It is very fine and backtracking doesn't show at all. I only had 2 partial spools that started with 200 meters, so I was afraid it wouldn't be enough. I ran out of the thinner bobbin thread but found an old light grey polyester that was pretty fine, so I continued with that in the bobbin. Actually, I could have used it on the top as well because the color was okay, but luckily the silk thread worked out.

This was my first time using fine threads. The only threads available local are quite thick and linty. I am going to have to buy a major supply of some thinner threads because I loved how the quilting turned out. I don't have a picture of the quilt today, but I will try to get one tomorrow.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Olympics 2008

Before I went on my last trip, I was downtown and found an exhibit of sculptures with the theme of the Beijing Olympics. China will host the Olympics in 2008, and it is a major source of pride and excitement. The sculptures were from a variety of artists from many different countries, but many were Chinese and had themes integrating traditional Chinese arts and images with the modern theme of the Olympics. I only have a few photos -- sorry for the quality, but I only had my phone camera and the time of day was not great. Still I hope it is interesting!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Christmas in February!

My family got me a gift certificate for quilting things for Christmas, and my gifts arrived today! Hurray! There were all kinds of sales at the end of December, so I ordered from a bunch of different online stores and had everything shipped to my mom, who shipped them on to me. In addition to fabric, I got the Ricky Tims video Grande Finale, as well as a bunch of quilting notions. I love the fabrics, and I am excited to give all the notions a try.

I was away for the last 5 days, so I haven't been able to do any quilting. The trip was for work and was very productive, but I am exhausted! I have today off, so I had hoped to finish up the quilting on the Butterflies in Flight/Butterfly Trails quilt (opinions on the name welcome!), but it is not to be. I am so tired that my quilting is just not going well. I keep missing intersections and making wobbly lines. Time for some blogging instead. Hopefully by later in the afternoon I will be able to do some decent quilting.