Wanda Gene's Musings on Life, Love and Loving the Quilting Life!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Recovering from My Christmas Party!


Yesterday we hosted that old tradition of the big Christmas party with all the family, all the food, and all the happy holiday fun.  Jonah and Danny provided all the entertainment like Danny convincing Grandma to go on a treasure hunt in the dark with the little camp lantern that he got for Christmas.  The little boys ran around chasing each other all over the house like they always do.  The grown-ups got a chance to talk, get caught up on goings-on, and strengthened the family bond once again.  Many times the subject of Great-grandma Brown, whom we lost last month, was part of the conversation.  It was like each time we remembered her that she was still with us in spirit.  As she will always be.

My son Ed, who started computer-related business in his garage a few years ago, is so busy now with orders that he has moved into a building and has hired a few people to "stuff circuit boards".  I have a general idea what that means, but when my son starts talking about computer stuff, he might as well be an alien from a more advanced planet than my earth.  Anyway, Ed took the day off, which I know was not easy, so I am very grateful that he came for Christmas.

During the earlier part of last week I did get some work done on our  Orca Bay Mystery.  I even cheated a little bit and maybe you could too!  Take a look at this:

This is Aunt Mary pressing my triangle units for me.  She is always looking for ways to help us during her visit and she found this not-so-little task to do for me!

 I love having a quilting helper!  I'm completely spoiled and will miss her help dearly when she goes back to Texas on Wednesday!

I thought I had 350 half square triangles, but when I finished sewing the little wings on them and  Aunt Mary counted them in tens and pinned them together, I only had 306 :(  How did that happen?  Maybe the 44 will turn up in my sewing room (after the quilt is finished), but in the meantime it's back to making half square triangles and then putting wings on them.

I also made two sample Ohio Star blocks.  They are such pretty little blocks and such a classic pattern!  I think I'm partial to Ohio Stars because I was born in Ohio.

I went through my 2 1/2" squares and came up with these to make more Ohio Stars. I can't wait to find out what we are going to do with the string blocks!   Well, now Christmas is over and I can really quilt!

Bye, y'all

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Morning Mystery Update


I'm slowing down with this Bonnie Hunter's Orca Bay Mystery.  Definitely.  Too much at one time is coming at me from all directions, threatening to tear me apart!  Or a least make me tear my hair out.  No, on second thought, I won't tear my hair out.  I like having hair.  A few years ago (8 years, yea!) I was totally bald for a few months so I definitely appreciate having hair.

No, I intend to slow down with everything, enjoy the Christmas holiday, make my pies on the 24th, check my gift list to make sure I'm done (there is no chance that I'm done) and think happy and calm thoughts.

I still intend to "sample" the rest of the mystery steps at least a little.  Here is what I've done with part 5:

Adding a couple of triangles to the half square units is fun and goes fast!....it's just that there are 350 of them.  Oh well, that means 350 times the fun.  You know what, I keep day-dreaming about how the different units will go together and what will be the "total impact"....that visual pop that you get when you see the whole quilt in all its bordered and completed glory.  Tra, la,la, soon Orca Bay will be here!

I would like to wish all quilters and quilt-lovers everywhere happiness and joy and family togetherness, no matter which holiday you celebrate this season.  Peace to you all.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Naughty or Nice...It's All in How You Cut It!

Hey ya,

I've been sewing like blazes on these adorable red strippie triangles, and I am constantly having to "refresh" the selection with more and different prints and plaids.  I came across this cute bikini print with a pink background and started to cut it up.

I think I got this piece in a lot that I bought on E-bay.  E-bay is a great source for fabric and if you're careful you can get great prices.  I sometimes bid on mixed lots of quilting cotton, either in lengths or large remnants.   Be forewarned, sometimes you can be disappointed, because it is hard to evaluate the quality of fabric from a picture.   This came in a large piece, about 1 1/2 yards.  I used most of it on the back of a quilt that I pieced.  A couple of strips were left over.

Risque quilting fabric--its all in the cutting!

This strip really made me laugh when I actually got a good look at it.  This is a very long strip with nothing on it but bikini crotches......LOL!  There is no way that I will ever be able to use this in a quilt!  I think if I cut it narrow enough to make the bikini bottoms unrecognizable it would be too narrow to piece together!

I guess  I could cut it into pieces and use it to clean the dust off of my sewing machines!

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Have Been Seeing Red...Red Everywhere!

Yes, and loving it.

Here is where I have been playing with my red strips.  I have arranged them more or less in piles of the same length so I can find the right size strip.  As I piece these, it occurred to me that the reason that this string piecing is so much fun is the choosing of the next fabric strip.  I'm always thinking, now, how would this plaid  look next to a gorgeous contemporary print or maybe a civil war repro.  Honestly, this is just play in its purest form for those of us who love our fabrics.  And prints and plaids and stripes, old or new, really fabrics of every sort just play together wonderfully well.

I'm fairly  satisfied with my progress on these red beauties.....at this rate I will finish them in 11 days.  Obviously I'm going to have some catching up to do after this mystery is finished.

Has anybody else noticed that the floor by your cutting mat and/or sewing machine is becoming littered with tiny snippets, too small to even go in the crumb bucket?  My floor is just a mess.  For the last couple of days, I have been barefoot except for some thick socks (to keep my feet warm).
The snippets stick to the bottom of my socks and wherever else I go I leave a trail of them!  When I saw it for the first time, I thought my German Shepherd dog, Ondie, had gotten into my waste basket.  When in doubt, always blame the dog, right?

I have all my Orca Bay mystery pieces in a project box.  Part 1, hourglass units, finished.  Part 2, little blue strippie squares, finished.  Part 3, half square triangles, about 2/3 finished.  Part 4, red strippie triangles, well, you saw where I am with those.

Things that will take me away from my beloved Bernina 1230 (her name is Erie Mae) in the coming weeks:

  • Christmas preparations in general.
  • I am doing Christmas dinner for a large group (I probably won't know exactly how large until they walk in the door).  Makes it hard but I am flexible.  And Christmas dinner will be a buffet instead of the sit-down dinner that I did for Thanksgiving :D
  • Shopping for gifts.
  • On a more somber note, we are having my DH's mother's funeral on the 20th (the week of Christmas).  We were fortunate to get it booked for a day that we could all come since the church is so busy with Advent activities this time of year.
  • We invited DH's Aunt Mary to come out from Canyon, Texas to attend her sister's funeral and visit with us all.  Aunt Mary is a wonderful lady and we are looking forward so much to seeing her.  She will be staying in our guest room for about ten days except for maybe a few visits to other nearby relatives.  This coming Saturday will be for picking her up at the airport.
  • I spent yesterday writing Mom's obituary (yes, I call her Mom, but sometimes Barbara).  We also chose prayers, hymns and Bible selections for her funeral.  Today we have to contact the musicians (I sure hope they are available).
  • I'm taking my mother to still more doctor appointments.....one lengthy one this afternoon.
I doubt that I'll be complaining about having nothing to do for a while.  Actually, I don't ever complain about nothing to do.  When was the last time that happened?  Not that I can remember! 

Thanks, Bonnie, for the latest mystery quilt!  Piecing on it is keeping me from going to pieces!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Just a Little Progress This Week


Well, I have spent a very intensive week....not much with the mystery quilt that I have been working on, but instead finding a new group home for my mother.  She was in the original home for a little over a year, but in that time her roommate has deteriorated mentally.  The lady started talking to herself and to my mother most of the night and it was impossible for Mother to sleep.

Her doctors want her to sleep well at night so that she feels well enough in the daytime to stay active and keep moving.  So I recognized that this could lead to long-term serious consequences for Mother.

The good news is that we found a really lovely 6 resident home that is quite a bit closer to my house than where she is now.  The roommate is friendly and active and we think that she and my mother could forge a strong friendship.  She is really looking forward to moving into the new home on Tuesday.

That said, I did make **some** progress on Step 3 of Bonnie Hunter's Orca Bay Mystery Quilt.

I wanted to use some new black and neutral prints, not the same ones that went into Step 1 in case they end up next to each other in the quilt.  So, I did spend my meager little amount of quilting time this week cutting strips from FGs and yardage.

Gotta love those little teapots!

I started sewing a few half squares together this morning.

Well, I have lots of catchup to do, so maybe I will cut and sew in the little bits of time that I can steal away from my other duties this week.  I really, REALLY, want to keep up with the rest of all the MANIAC quilters out there who are also following Orca Bay.

Bonnie, I am so thankful for this mystery quilt.  You are helping me stay grounded.  And I love getting to be a part of your blog links!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Further Adventures with Orca Bay


I have been coming along with my little blue strippies.  At least these pieces are 3 1/2" (but finish at 3").
These are really fun to make...and I have  made 72 easily before feeling the need to switch to something different.  Here are my blue strippies:

In the pic they are not yet trimmed but now they are.  I am in the process of removing the paper foundations also.

Now I can go back and finish last week's step.  I had about 3/4 of the first week's units finished when putting on Thanksgiving Day dinner for 15 relatives and friends slowed me down, quilting-wise.

You know, it's funny, I have been working on some little crumb blocks that remind me of these blue strippies.

The crumb units are also 3 1/2" unfinished and I used 4 to each block.  These were made for my Doctor Who quilt.  It is sashed and bordered in TARDIS blue.  As soon as I get it bound and photographed I will share it with you.

Many thanks to Bonnie for her Orca Bay Mystery Quilt


My First? Quilt


All of us who call ourselves quilters had to start with that first quilt.  Whether we started with a quilted pillow, a wallhanging, a crib quilt, a miniature quilt or we went straight to that most intimidating sort of the quilt....the BIG bed quilt, there was always the one we remember as our first quilt.

First quilts are rarely masterpieces.  Quilters who start their first to be a masterpiece rarely finish.  Or if we do, a few years later we realize that our concept of a quilted masterpiece has evolved into something quilte different.  Usually our first quilts are homely little projects with  strange combinations of colors and fabrics that do not play nicely together. 

My first was no different.  I wish I could show it to you!

But that brings me to a dilemma.  I can write about my first quilt (circa 1969), but it bit the dust long ago, a victim of being loved to death.  No pictures exist, and if they did, they certainly would not be digital.  And yet....and yet, I believe that pictures make to blog come alive.  We quilters are such visual creatures.  So hang in there, I do have pictures of my oldest surviving quilt!

Anyway, when I was 20 years old, about to be married and having never made a quilt before, I started a king size quilt for me and about-to-be DH.  I bought (from the La Mirada swapmeet, no less) some factory cutaways (remnants) that were a little heavier than broadcloth.  I cut the fabric into random rectangles, all 6" by whatever I could get.

These rectangles were joined into horizontal rows, and the rows were stitched together.  This sort of reminds me of what I make for pieced backings nowadays!  It was a brick quilt, but with REALLY big bricks.  It was layered with a polyester batting and a big flat sheet.   I tied the quilt with yarn and turned under both back and front edges and whipstitched.  We used it for a bedspread for years.

Aw, isn't that cute?  That's what I thought in 1975 when this picture with the accompanying pattern appeared in Woman's Day magazine.  It only took me three years to make, but I did finish my third quilt. (Number 2 also wore out eventually).  This is my son Jeff's quilt.

How about those 70's colors?  Looks a little dated maybe?  Oh, can you see that stripey fabric in green, gold and brown?..... that is leftover from the *actual* first quilt.   And the hand quilting is so far apart as to be ridiculous.   Okay, but the puppies are still cute as ever.  And this quilt still exists.

I even documented the quilt with my embroidered signature and the year.  Because I I loved making this quilt, I still love it, and I love the little boy (who is now a man) that I made it for.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Day for Showing Respect for a Fine Lady

Hi Folks,

I was going to write about my progress with Bonnie's mystery and about my first quilt, but life has gotten in the way, so I am going to write a bit about my DH's DM (Dear Mother).

She passed away this morning after a very difficult 1 1/2 years of slowly deteriorating health after falling and breaking her hip and arm. We spent all day yesterday with her, most of her children and another DIL, and the hospice nurses in the nursing home. She was in a sort of coma, but the nurses said that she could probably hear us talking. So talk we did. Some to her, and a lot to each other. Lots of holding her hand and gently pushing her hair back. Someone said that she got to be at her own wake.

The nurses told us that all her signs indicated that the end was very near. They were so gentle and loving with her, such as when they moistened the inside of her mouth with a sponge applicator.

Barbara was a great lady who was kind to all who knew her. She accepted me into her family when I married her first born son. When my own first child was born she sent a family member pick up our dirty laundry and drop off yesterday's freshly washed each day. She understood that I was having a tough time and feeling completely overwhelmed.

We occasionally took trips together, her and my DH and kids. Even in close quarters we always got along. My sons Jeff and Ed adored their grandma, of course. She took my little Eddie for a week when his brother Jeff was born, and she took both boys (and our dog) for 10 days so DH and I could go to Hawaii one year.

She was very fond of our German Shepherd Dogs that I had (one at a time) over the years. Personally, I consider that the ultimate test of good character in a person if they like my dogs. After all, my dogs are wonderful, smart, kind-hearted, and fiercely loyal. If a person somehow cannot see any of those doggy virtues, there must be something wrong with THEM.

I remember when we were getting our house ready to sell about 20 years ago. Grandma was in there with us painting the floor trim. That was so typical of her, always there when you needed her.

We are going to miss her: Mother, Grandma, Helper and Moral Compass of our family.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mysterious Goin's On over at Quiltville!

Hi Y'all!

This glorious mess on the right is what I am doing to follow Bonnie Hunter's new mystery quilt, ORCA BAY.

I have tiny hourglass units in all stages of completion (including a few more that still need cutting out).  These babies will finish at 2"....oh heavenly days, am I really making anything this tiny?  I guess I am committed because you can see the evidence right here.

I do hope that the next step will be a little easier, but knowing Bonnie, I'm not counting on it.

I decided to just follow Bonnie's suggested color scheme of black, red and blue instead of coming up with another set of colors.  Mostly because I like these colors for a quilt....so we'll see how it comes out in the coming weeks.

Every Friday, she will publish another step in the mystery.  This past Friday was the first step, except for the post where she introduces the mystery and gives us some idea of yardage requirements, suggested color scheme and so forth.  I had already pulled strips out of my bins and this weekend I was cutting and sewing like crazy.

I don't keep strips in 1 1/2", but I do keep 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4, 4 1/2, 5, and 6 inches.  I found that I could cut 1 1/2" from a 4" strip and the leftover goes in the 2 1/2" bin and so on.  As long as I could cut 1 1/2" from any strip and have a leftover that is in a size that I keep, that works for me.  I find that doing this makes my strip bins even more versatile.

I have gotten this far without cutting into any fabric other than my strips.  I plan to press and cut into a few fat quarters to get the rest this afternoon. 

I hope you will check out Bonnie's blog and maybe cut, sew, piece, and quilt along with all of us who love all of her designs.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What I Did on My Blogger Vacation

Hi All,

So sorry to be such slacker in the blogging department.  I have been having computer/blogger/photo/solar flares problems...that means that I have no idea what has been causing it.

So I just gave up a few times.  Thought I would try again....sometimes time heals wounds even with computers.  Not very often but occasionally.

So far, so good, today.

Uh-oh.  Actually not so good.  Loading picture trouble big time.  Now my computer cannot even recognize my camera docking station as another drive.  This is where I call in the cavalry in the form of my DH.  We'll see what he can figure out.

Now I'm back again.  DH took the memory card out of the camera and inserted it directly into the computer.  He is so clever!  I did not know how to do that.  I guess I had a vague idea but when it comes to computers that doesn't even buy you a cup of coffee to spill on the keyboard!  DH thinks that maybe the docking station or cables are bad.

I have actually taken a little time off from quiltmaking. Well, this is my temporary break, or rather a DETOUR, away from quilting, just for a couple of weeks.  This is a lovely task that I work on every couple of years or so.  I hate to shop for nightgowns and it is so much easier by far to just make them.

Especially when you have an oldie-but-goodie pattern that you've made dozens of times and, of course, it always fits!  So I turn them out almost on the assembly line.  I made FIVE comfy and pretty nighties.  It took about 2 1/2 days each (one day for cutting, one day for sewing, and the 1/2 for processing the scraps into strips, changing thread colors on my Bernina and serger, and generally cleaning up.

One of the best results of nightie making  is massive stash reduction!  Oooh, each one uses up 3 1/2 yards of beautiful quilting fabric that I can now WEAR!  My total damage to the stash is 17 1/2 yards!  That means that I can replace it, of course! There is some fun fabric shopping in my future!

Here are the results (I'm taking a deep breath now):

Here are two of them.  The other three are identical except for different fabric, of course.

Here is a close-up of the neckline detail of another one.  Yes, I made two pink ones out of slightly different prints. The neckline and the sleeves are finished with a binding technique that I learned in Stretch n Sew class in the 70's (lots of us remember that class, don't we?) that was called Chanel trim.  Basically it is a binding finish that is turned under on only one side.  It results in a feather-light finish compared to using bulky, uncomfortable facings.  Chanel trim is often found in RTW.

Here is how it works:

Start with 1" wide BIAS strips that are long enough to finish the edge that you are working on.  I finish the side that goes on the inside on my serger.

Then sew RS's together to the garment edge, fold to the back and ditch-stitch on the front. Easy as pie!

My photo could be a lot clearer, but this gives you the idea of what the finished edge looks like.  I mention this technique because you won't find it in the pattern since it is my own adaptation and I love it!

Next I will be making some backings for some tops that need quilting.  And also having lovely dreams of traveling in the TARDIS with Doctor Who and his friends....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Couple of Hot Tips for Today!

Hey Ya!

Quite a few years ago I used to read a newspaper with a column by a writer who called herself  Miss Hot Tips.  She not only used that moniker for her byline, she also referred to herself in the third person.  So it was Miss Hot Tips thinks this, and Miss Hot Tips has this to say.  Anyway, it was just too cute....enough to make a person gag.

So, I don't want anyone have esophageal distress over my little post, so I WILL NOT be Miss Hot Tips.  But I do have some piecing tips  that I hope will improve your piecing skills and therefore add a little extra ray of sunshine to your quilting day.

Using Bonnie's business card as a sewing guide!

I learned this easy method of sewing along the diagonal of a square during one of my classes with Bonnie Hunter at Road to California last January.  One of the ladies in the class graciously shared this with us, and we all immediately became excited about it (including the teacher).  It was one of those Why-didn't-I-think-of-this moments.  Bonnie got out some of her business cards and cut a 45 degree angle with a rotary cutter and passed them out to all of us.  As you can see I am still using Bonnie's card!    I still like to have my blue tape on the machine which I line up with the bottom edge of the card. 

Now here is a little refinement that I have found that helps me even more.  I always cover with the card the part of the square that will be flipped, not the part of the square that will trimmed.  This helps offset my stitching line by about one thread's width, which is needed to allow for the "turn of the cloth."

Does your sewing machine give you the choice of needle up or down when you stop sewing?  I hope that most of you have that feature.  My 17 year old Bernina does.  When I chain piece, I always choose needle down and I never get thread nests when sewing the next piece.  If I choose needle up, sometimes the thread directly behind the needle becomes a little loose and then I get a thread nest.  The thread behind the needle must stay taut and having the needle down accomplishes this.  I just wish that needle down was the default on my machine and not the other way around!

Have a happy piecing day.

Friday, May 20, 2011

This Mama Got a Brand New Baby!!

Hi y'all!

My Most Recent Acquisition
 Well, she's new only to me.....How new can she be when she was minted about the same time I was (1948 to 1950)?  OK, now I've told the whole world how old I am...LOL!

It started innocently enough on Thursday when some little voice told me to check the antiques section of Craig's List.  I check occasionally but not everyday.  I always click on ads for "vintage sewing machine" just because I love to look at the pics of them.  Lo and behold, the ad opened to a picture of a beautiful perfect little featherweight!  Since the title had included $120 I was doubly gobsmacked to find a FW listed at that price!

Right away I sent a reply to the seller, asking to see the machine.  Apparently there is a problem with replying on Craig's List on our computers.  It says your e-mail was sent and then it says that it wasn't sent.  Just like a computer---infuriating.  I chose to believe the first but apparently the latter was the truth.  My DH told me about this problem a couple of hours later when I told him about the FW for sale.  I tried again, going directly into my e-mail account and copy-pasting the Craig's List code into the e-mail address.  This method worked fine.  But I didn't get a reply from the seller that evening so I figured he had been inundated with eager buyers.

Yesterday, he called me!  Yes, the machine was still for sale and, yes, I could go see it at 7:30!  WOW
DH and I drove over, it wasn't far.

She was a beauty.  But then my heart sank when I saw that there was no bobbin case.  I asked him about it, and he said that all he had was what was with the little FW.  Then I looked in a little box of accessories and found the bobbin case.  WOW, again.

A Great Little Accessory Case Came with It

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the motor ran great.  I told DH in code that I wanted it.  The code is "I think this will do what I want to do with it."  He then had the NERVE to ask if the seller would take $100.  The answer was "Well, I guess so."  I was already getting out the money.

 This morning I spent some time cleaning her, making her shine again.  I put in a new needle, one drop of oil in the race, threaded her up and did a test sew-out.  The stitching was to die-for perfect!  And the sound she made while stitching was a contented, soft, "Tick, tick, tick."

Adhesive Gunk Left Behind
 Here is a project for me, removing all the gunk left behind after I removed the unsightly tape on the machine bed.  After this picture was taken, I took after it with WD-40 and removed about half of it.  More soaking and rubbing should do the trick.

A Successful Sew-Test!

At this point I decided to determine her birthdate.  I turned her over and discovered the oddest thing.
No serial number!  The AJ does give approximate date of manufacture, 1948 to 1950, but the rest of the plate where her unique serial number should be was as smooth as glass, totally blank!   I would love to hear from anybody who has seen this before.

Where Are the Missing Serial Numbers?

I am as happy as a cat in catnip, but I do have one problem.  I'm up to eight sewing machines now and three of them are Featherweights.  Maybe I won't look at Craig's List today.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Little Bit of This....and a Little Bit of That

That pretty much sums up what I have been doing lately.  And it's been very peaceful and enjoyable.  I'm tying up loose ends and totally loving it.  But before I get too far into that, let me show you the first of several Mothers Day gifts that I received.

Ondie Delivered My Balloon!

I usually rise before anyone else, and when Jerry and Ondie get up, Jerry gives Ondie the command, "Find Mom!"  On Sunday morning, Ondie arrived in my sewing room with a Mothers Day balloon attached to his collar.  Aaawww!   I had to record this with my camera.  Here is another picture of Ondie:

My Perky Ondie
Ondie just turned one year old and he is the delight of my day, everyday.  He has done well in his first beginning odedience class and we will start another set of classes at the park in a few weeks.  He is sharp and knows so may words we have lost count, so don't say anything in front of him unless you want him to know about it!  He started out being Mom's boy, but now he is an adolescent, he seems to be equally devoted to both of us.  Jerry takes him to Lowe's and Home Depot several times a week and he loves going to those places.  He gets petted by adults and children alike and gets doggy treats from his favorite checker.

I put a quilt on the frame this week to be quilted by Emma and Electra.  It is a gorgeously colorful little thing that I am quilting for a customer.  Right now I'm trying to decide on the quilting design.  I picked out a lovely tangerine quilting thread for it.

Don't These Colors Just Pop!

I did get my thrift shop fabrics washed, ironed, and trimmed into strips.

The biggest project that I'm working on is the backing for Lemaster's Old Tobacco Road.  I posted a pic of this back in January that was taken in Bonnie Hunter's class that I took.  I brought the top for Show & Tell.

  If I'm EVER to get it quilted, the first thing it needs is a backing!   So I gathered up lots of strips and pieces of a yard or less to make random rows, punctuated by orphan blocks and leftovers.

An insertion leftover from the top's border

Since the color story of the top is brown, green, yellow and orange, that's what I used on the back.

Some of these orphan blocks have been in a drawer since the 80's!


Some of the horizontal strips before being sewn together.

Well, that's been my fun and games.  I think I'll get back to it.

See ya,