Friday, June 26, 2015

Finish It Friday: My Crazy Mom 36-Patch Quilt

I met Amanda Jean for the first time in July 2011. She had invited me to attend a small quilting retreat in St. Cloud, MN, just ten of us altogether. It was so out of my comfort zone, the thought of traveling alone from California to Minnesota and spending the weekend with nine other women I had never met before. I'm pretty sure my mother thought I was nuts. Mark, on the other hand, would not let me back out--he comes from Minnesota, so of course how could this be anything other than the best experience ever?!

It was life-changing.
Our next retreat is less than two weeks away!
Back row: Doris, Michelle, Rene', Terri, Amanda Jean, Mary, me, Stephanie
Front row: Toni (no blog--what?) and Shelly 
That year, Amanda Jean, who has a 4th of July birthday, had just celebrated her 36th. How does she celebrate? By making a quilt--a 36-patch, of course.

I came home, excited to make my own. I gathered up a stack of fat quarters, half lights, half darks, and got to work. We used to be part owners in a group of rustic rental cabins at Huntington Lake and I began my quilt up there.
I made all 36 blocks and even sewed the top together. Then it languished on a shelf, which is not uncommon for many of my quilt tops.

2015 is a year I have vowed to take as many of those quilt tops off the shelf and get them completed. The 36-patch was one of the first on the list.

While Amanda Jean pieced thirty-six 12-inch blocks together for the back, I gathered up a lot of big pieces, mostly Kaffe Fassett, and just started piecing them together. It is kind of wild, but I love it!
I sent it off to Darby for quilting. There was so much going on and so many colors, but I love the pattern she used--and the pale lavender thread she chose.
  I bound it with solid Kona eggplant which worked well with all the wild fabric.
You are probably wondering what the front looks like.
This quilt represents the best that quilting has to offer--beautiful fabric, good memories, and best of all, great friends.
I'm linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts (of course!), TGIFF and Confessions of a Fabric Addict. Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Really Random Thursday, 6/25/15

Welcome to the last Thursday in June. That means the year is nearly half over. Does that mean Christmas sewing should officially commence?

Our grandson spent each morning last week taking a BMX class at the local park. Honestly, I did not even realize that the park had a BMX course!
I was super impressed.
His elbows were covered with scabs--a badge of honor, according to most boys.
I'm glad I was able to capture this moment.
Sometimes this one just looks so grown up.
Friday night, Mark, our son Aaron and like-a-son Jason had been chosen to ref the city-county All Star football game. Out of all the refs in their association, it was so awesome that the three of them got to ref a game together.
Jason, Chuck, Greg, Mark and Aaron
 Father and son
Photo courtesy of Sportswurlz
Mark in action
Photo courtesy of Sportswurlz
Mark said my red hair made it easier to pick me out of a crowd. I don't seem to be watching the game at this point...
Photo courtesy of Sportswurlz
I'm making some progress on my hexies. Rosette 1 is nearly finished. The papers for Rosette 7 arrived in the mail this week. I don't think I will be needing them for awhile. This is going to take me a loooong time.
Anybody going to QuiltCon? Registration begins today. As I write this, I'm not sure if I'll get the classes I want or not. I'm only going to try for two classes and then add a bunch of lectures. The first is an all-day class on learning EQ7 with Christa Watson. I've had the program installed on my computer for awhile now but just have never taken the time to learn. I'm hoping Christa will be able to guide me through the process. She's lots of fun and high energy, so I'm sure if anyone can help me learn EQ7, Christa is the one for the job.
Christa is the one on the far left
I have also been fascinated by the "code" quilts by Libs Elliott, so hopefully I will get her class called "For the Love of Y Seams." She will be teaching her trademark code quilts, similar to this one.
The quilt she will be teaching has hex, half-hex and equilateral triangle pieces. I stopped her at QuiltCon in February as she was gazing at quilts, and she graciously let me take a fan picture.

I received the most interesting email yesterday, inviting me to have a trunk show and teach a class at a monthly meeting of a quilt guild on the central coast of California. I DO love the central coast. While public speaking is a lot  a bit out of my comfort zone, I think I'll say yes. And not that I govern my life by the horoscope in the daily paper, but this was a weird coincidence.
Going here soon. Can't wait.
Do you ever watch America's Got Talent? It has gotten so much better over the past couple of years. They don't show as many of weirdo acts anymore--mostly just the really talented acts. Anyway, you've gotta love the coat Heidi Klum wore last night, right?

I'll leave you with this. Mark texted this to me--the introvert's version of the Golden Rule.Anyone else identify?
Anything random in your world?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Really Random Thursday, 6/18/15

Our good friend, Cheri, celebrated a significant birthday this week. She and George were the managers at Lakeview Cottages so Mark and I drove up there on Sunday to help celebrate. There is a couple from southern California, Ed and Melinda,  who spend four weeks there every year. She and her husband have been coming for years, and she is one of the most hospitable people I have ever met.
Melinda (left) and Cheri (right)
Melinda knows how to put on a party, even from a rustic cabin built in 1917!
Melinda knows Mark loves deviled eggs, and she makes them for him every year
Cheri didn't know Mark and I were coming, so it was fun surprising her. I made the cake. I'm including the recipe below because this little guest really enjoyed it. She licked that plate clean.
Strawberry Cake:
1 pkg white cake mix
4 eggs
1 16-oz. pkg of frozen strawberries, thawed
1 3-oz. pkg strawberry jello
2/3 cup oil

Beat eggs and add oil. Add cake mix and jello. Beat well. Add all but 1/3 cup thawed strawberries and beat. Bake at 350 according to package directions.

Icing: 1 box powdered sugar, 1 stick butter, 1/3 cup reserved strawberries. Beat together and spread on cooked cake.

NOTE: For some reason the icing didn't taste like I remembered so I added about 1/3 cup of sugar free strawberry jam. You know, because frosting can never be too sweet.

These quilts returned home this week from the publisher, after being on the road for the last seven or so years. They were my first published patterns. After Mark looked at them, his first comment was, "Wow, that sure isn't your style anymore, is it?" Probably not. But I'm going to wash them up and donate them for charity auction next April.

The smallest pattern, Charm Parade, is still one of my favorite patterns. I have made it in many variations. So one of these days, after I complete the Amish solid version, I'll have a "Charm Parade" parade of quilts.
Mark designs kitchen and has been working on a house in an upscale neighborhood. See that very orange house in the background? It's like a huge quonset building with a metal roof. While I like the color orange, I'm not sure it would make me super happy to see that house from my window every day.
He also assisted with playground structure building.
While he was doing that, I would consider my supervisory task much more enjoyable.
Later today I'm going to start on a fun project with this fabric.

Is there a musician or group you would spend significant money to see live and in person? For me, it's this guy. Such good music.
And that's a wrap.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The White Quilt: And the story of why it took nearly 20 years to complete

Our son, Aaron, and daughter-in-law, Christa, celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary on Wednesday.
You know how you look at your babies and then toddlers and wonder why each phase is passing so quickly, and how you wish you could just tell them to stop growing for a little bit? I look at this picture and wonder how it is possible that now they have their own children, including one who just completed third grade!

So a long time ago, in a galaxy far away....

Just kidding. I think it was in the late 1990s, maybe before Aaron had even graduated from high school and I had not been quilting all that long, I found a pattern for a "white on white heirloom quilt."
It was a booklet of sixteen 18" blocks, all hand quilted. So I purchased the pattern and some solid white fabric, and got to work.

A few years later, probably 1998-ish, Aaron had fallen in love with the beautiful Christa, and in my head I thought this could be an engagement quilt. Not quite finished. Maybe a wedding quilt. Still not finished. Maybe a first anniversary quilt. Nope, not done. Five-year anniversary? It came and went.

I worked on the blocks sporadically, and they were all quilted on this hoop.

When they were finally completed (I have no idea what year that would have been), they were folded and put away. I always meant to just power through and put the blocks together. But then "life" happened and I was busy with other projects. Every once in awhile, Christa would kind of quietly mention, "So about that white quilt...." and I would respond with, "yes, I haven't forgotten...." and then I would forget and go on to something else. Mark would try to nudge me along with reminders like "you know, you really should just get that white quilt DONE." Yeah, yeah, someday....

And then I realized this was the year of a big anniversary for them--15 years. I have already been on a mission to complete quilts that have been long languishing on a shelf. So I got out all those blocks and tried to figure out how to put the top together.

Since quilt-as-you-go has gained popularity, I'm sure there are other ways I could have approached this, but I followed the instructions in the booklet.

Step 1 was to sew the blocks together, top layer only, right sides together, after first pinning the batting and backing out of the way, and then iron the seam open. This skinny pressing bar was really helpful.

Step 2 involved trimming 1/4" of the batting from each block to get it out of the seam allowance, and then whip stitching the raw edges together.
Step 3 involved pressing the edge of one side of the backing seam under by 1/4" and then hand sewing it on top of the other edge.

That took a couple of days. Those long horizontal seams were pretty slow going.

As I was working on it, it was kind of like looking at a quilt that someone else had completed. I have to admit to being kind of impressed with my tiny and precise stitches. I'm not sure I could duplicate them at this point.

There are some funny little quirks--while I tried to trim the blocks as evenly as possible, and keep everything nice and straight when sewing the front layers and the back layers together, there was still a bit of shifting.

On the back I found this random piece of blue thread quilted into a place where I could not retrieve it, and also  few places where I had managed to quilt a pleat into the back! Oh, and even a spot of blood (you will be happy to know that I did not photograph that one). 
 It was pretty thrilling when it was finally time for photographs of a completed quilt!
Choosing a favorite block was kind of like choosing a favorite child, but I really like these:
As I was trying to figure out how to wrap it, I kept getting an image of it simply folded and tied with a blue satin ribbon. My dear friend, Dotty, did the most beautiful job, adding some white lacy ribbon and a white rose. It was extra special to have Dotty do this--she is the one who taught me how to hand quilt.
Isn't it beautiful?
Aaron and Christa stopped by on their way to dinner. I can't even begin to tell you how thrilling it was to hand over something that has spanned so many years, so many hours, so many yards of white quilting thread, made for two people I love so very VERY much.
Quilt stats:
Size: 72" x 72"
Pattern by: Maud von Bergh-Arnoldus
Completely hand quilted and pieced by: me (the sewing machine was only used to sew the top layers together and attach the binding to the front--otherwise everything was done by hand).

Things I would change (if I could): Back when I started, I had no clue about solid quilting cotton. For all I know, this is just white muslin. I'm not even sure it's 100 percent cotton. I hope it holds up over the years--it seems fine when I compare it to the quality solid cottons I work with now, but still, it's a bit of a mystery. Also, I could definitely use white batting--I'm not even sure white batting was available when I started this project. It probably was, but quilting was new to me so it didn't even occur to me to check on that. I didn't think it would make much of a difference, but when I put on the binding, it looks so much more white than the body of the quilt. Oh, well...

The most important thing is that it is done and has been passed on to two very special people. And I can tell you for certain that Mark played a big part in its completion--if it were not for his gentle nudging and encouragement, it would still not be done.

I think they are happy with it.
Oh, and the label.
And now I think I'll link it to as many places as possible: crazy mom quilts  TGIFF and
Confessions of a Fabric Addict.