Thursday, January 27, 2011

Good news

Good news--my mystery quilt, Danica's Pink Butterfly Quilt, was chosen to be photographed by American Quilter magazine! Hurray! Only three of the mystery quilts will appear in the magazine, but this means that at least a photo of my quilt will be on their website. I'll send my quilt to Paducah in the next week. I posted several in-progress photos previously, but I won't post a finished photo here because I want you to see it in the magazine.

I learned a lot about photographing quilts from this experience. It's hard to get the colors correct, and photographs can really highlight all the flaws in your quilt. I put so much machine quilting into this one that I had a hard time getting the edges even. Eventually, I ripped off the binding and even ripped out quilting and remade a section. I also suffered from a broken sewing machine and the effects of being in a hurry. Since my daughter was in the hospital with a bowel obstruction right after Christmas--and is back in now with an infection--I had to fit the quilting of this piece in between trips to the hospital and taking care of my granddaughter. Not a good combination. I ripped out more of this quilt than anything I have ever made.

Well, it's over now, unless I decide in the next day or two to rip the binding off one side--again--to TRY to fix a little ripple. I'm off to "The Big House," as Genevieve calls it--Barnes Hospital in St. Louis--to see if they will release her today. She's been in for a full week this time. Poor thing--nothing like spending almost a month in the hospital. But she's pumped full of antibiotics and is better, so I just might stop in at The Quilted Fox store to show them a finished quilt with some of their fabric in it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Laugh with me!

Isn’t this always the way things go: when you’re in a hurry, s**t happens. My first mishap while quilting my Mystery Quilt can be seen below.

What the heck IS that? A scrap of fabric stuck to the quilt, and I quilted it right into the back! How did I miss that? I was intent on getting the quilting right, I guess, and in a hurry, of course. No way am I ripping out all that free-motion quilting to get out this scrap. I found if I trim the scrap very close to the quilting stitches, it pulls right out. But there is a lot of trimming and pulling of threads to do. You just have to laugh at this one. And be glad it’s not you.

My Mystery Quilt is heavily quilted, and I was careful to clean my machine as I went along. Look at this fuzz build-up:

A bird could build a nest out of that lint! I used Dream Orient batting, a combination of silk, bamboo, Tencel and cotton, for the first time. It is thin and very soft and quilted beautifully. However, it was more expensive, and I probably could just as easily have used Dream Cotton. For this project, I didn’t need the “elegant silky soft drape” described on the package. I don’t think it produced more lint than a cotton batt would have. The fuzz was just a product of the amount of quilting I did.

In the end, my effort to keep my machine in tip-top shape failed. Mishap #2: My Bernina 1230 broke anyway just as I was about to attach the binding. The motor runs, but the needle doesn’t move up and down. My really old back-up Bernina went off to Colorado with my daughter after Christmas, so I had to sew the binding on with a Singer Featherweight. Thank goodness I had one:

So I drove about 90 miles today to Top Stitch Sewing Service, where my quilting buddies buy their machines and take them for repairs. (Along the way, I saw a magnificent bald eagle, ripping the guts out of a carcass in a field right near the road. I mention this just so you get the idea that I was nowhere near a city.) Top Stitch is on State Route C east of Versailles and north of Barnett, and I thought I might have trouble finding a little sewing shop way out in farm country. The shop really is surrounded by fields, but I couldn’t miss the 4-foot-high red BERNINA letters on the building, and it was the biggest sewing machine store I’ve ever been in! They don’t sell fabric—only machines, cabinets and thread.

The shop owner, Tim, said, “We can fix anything,” so there probably will be no need for me to buy a new machine, but I checked out the Bernina 830 while I was there, since I drove so far. (Impressive but pricey, even with the good deal Tim quoted me.) The shop will do a rush job for me, and my 1230 should be ready on Friday. But guess what? A snowstorm is coming. Back to get my machine on 90 miles of typical Missouri Ozark roads? You gotta laugh with me on this one….

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sewing addiction

I was in my daughter’s hospital room on Wednesday when her surgeon came in for rounds. As he stood there and talked, I noticed a long string of thread hanging down from one of his buttonholes. It was hard but I kept my mouth shut. (How embarrassing would that be—“Hey, doc, your buttonhole is fraying, let me get that for you….”) I did, of course, have sewing scissors with me, along with quilting thread and a miniature quilt in my purse. So I could have fixed it for him. But what does this say about me?!! I have a serious sewing addiction, that’s what!

I worked as an English teacher for 9 years, and I always struggled to find time to sew. Every second spent grading those papers was time away from my sewing machine. When I wasn’t sewing, I was thinking about what I wanted to be sewing and how pretty it would be. Now I finally have time to sew and I still constantly think of my next project. When I was in St. Louis on Wednesday, I stopped at The Quilted Fox, my favorite quilt shop, to buy some needles and look at fabric. See I suspected there would be something nice there.

So in my purse was a piece of paisley fabric from my quilt guild’s yearly challenge:

The rules this year are simple—just use the paisley fabric and make the quilt crib size or smaller. I considered challenging myself to use only fabrics from my stash for this project, but when I walked into The Quilted Fox, I threw that idea out the window. Here is what I came home with:

I don’t yet know what this paisley challenge quilt will look like. I have no particular pattern in mind, but I have multiple ideas, and I sure will have so much fun figuring out how to put these fabrics together!

I have no papers to grade anymore, so finally, finally, I can not only THINK about sewing, I actually get to sew. This week I have been quilting my American Quilter magazine Mystery Quilt, trying to finish it by the deadline.

When I begin a machine quilting project, I always get a sinking feeling brought on by thoughts of “Here is my beautiful quilt top, and I’m going to ruin it—my quilting won’t be good enough—I can’t do it justice—this is too difficult with my regular sewing machine, etc., etc.” Doubts, doubts, doubts. Then I dig in and tackle the project. Eventually I settle down and realize, all over again, that my machine quilting is not too bad, this quilt really will fit under the sewing machine arm, and I’m not ruining the top at all, but adding another layer of interest. It has been slow going, but I’m very much enjoying the quilting this time.

Today my daughter is getting out of “the big house,” as she now calls Barnes Hospital, and coming to my house for a couple of days before she goes home. It will be a pleasure to fix her whatever she feels like eating. It’s no small thing to eat normally again after a bowel obstruction. But as always, every minute, sewing addict that I am, I’ll be yearning to get back into that studio and sew.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happiness ...

I have a lot to be happy about after my wild and crazy holiday season. My three daughters, their husbands and fiancée, and my granddaughter were all at our house on Christmas Eve to celebrate together. But Genevieve—my daughter who had the liver transplant—felt sick the entire time and ended up in the hospital on the 26th because of gut pain. She had surgery this past Wednesday for a partial bowel obstruction, thought to be caused by adhesions, but guess what they found? An internal hernia. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. A piece of her bowel was sticking through a hole in a membrane, causing her pain after eating. The ace transplant surgeon fixed her up, she’s recovering, and the entire family is so thankful and happy for the positive resolution of this latest problem. As I sit here beside her hospital bed, I realize she won’t be nearly as cheery as I am for quite some time, since she has to heal (again) from a big incision and won’t be able to drive or lift anything.

I have been taking care of my granddaughter for the past 12 days, which has impacted my post-Christmas quilting plans, of course. But I did get her “Christmas Hugs and Kisses” quilt done, and I’m really happy about that.

I also finished “Joan’s Log Cabin” for my sister—hand quilted and appliqued. She recently finished restoring a real log cabin in Manitou Springs, Colorado, and this little quilt will go with her red décor.

Hurray! I have a new laptop. My previous computer was seven years old, incredibly slow, and no longer connected to the internet. And double happiness—to go with the laptop, one of my Christmas presents was Electric Quilt 7—wow! What great software. I am playing with it to gradually learn what I can design.

My fellow Piece and Plenty Quilt Guild members created a final little bit of happiness for me. I am chair of our next quilt show (Oct. 8 and 9), and at last night’s meeting, quilters stepped forward and volunteered for many of the jobs I needed help with. That was a big stress reliever, and goodness knows I’ve had enough stress the past few weeks. Next on my list—take down the Christmas tree. When that’s complete, I’ll REALLY be happy.