Saturday, May 28, 2016

Some Goodbyes

On a Fourth of July about sixteen years ago, I woke up with flu like symptoms. The only problem was that the body aches didn't go away! I found I was getting stiffer and stiffer. After several appointments, my allopathic physician found nothing to explain the muscle stiffness; but, offered an antidepressant medication for the pain.

I didn't take the medication and lived with the pain. I thought this is what life is like as one ages. One day, I was attending a chamber of commerce meeting and I met a naturopathic physician. Through her, I met an acupuncturist, Michelle Newell.  Between the two of them, with a lot of time and effort on my part,  I beat the pain and moved into "normal."

In 2009, I was rear ended in a car accident. I was pushed into the person in front of me too. All total, I was hit twice from behind and hit the person in front of me twice. My neck and back were a mess. The constant headache was almost too much to bear. I had such nerve issues, that I was unable to hold the phone for a conversation longer than a minute. I was unable to address an envelope without my hand going numb after writing the first line. I had a cervical fusion which helped; but, I had to seriously change my lifestyle.

I gave up gardening which was difficult. I'd try to pull weeds, plant or transplant; but, looking down as well as being on my hands and knees aggravated my neck and back issues. (I still try to do a little something in the yard occasionally; but, that activity bothers my neck.) I still can't talk more than a few minutes on the phone or write more than about three paragraphs. I also had to give up cleaning. Honestly, I don't miss cleaning ONE bit!

Giving up quilting was NOT an option. Through Michelle, I met two licensed massage therapists who became an integral part of my health team. Lori Kramptez showed me that the body can continue to heal and she showed me how much massage can improve my attitude when it hurts less to move. 

Valerie Lyon, on the other hand, taught me how to move so that I could type on my laptop to stay connected with friends. More importantly, her sessions on how I sat when I quilted were priceless.
They have continued to support me through a shoulder challenge, a foot challenge and most recently knee challenges. Had these three ladies not been part of my health team, I'd be years on pain medications by now and no longer a quilter. 

Sadly, Tuesday marks the last day that the clinic, Circle Healthcare, will be open as the property owner has decided to demolition the office and build apartments instead. Michelle is closing her private practice. I hope to follow Lori and Valerie where ever it is that they land. Good byes are really hard. Although I truly wish them well, I miss them already!

Who has it been in your life that has helped keep you on the quilting track?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Detour--Granddaughter Request

Before I launch into the topic of this post, I want to let you know that I was a winner! I received my prize from Luanne over at Let's Create Today for leaving a comment on her blog. Please go visit her as she ALWAYS has something interesting going on in her "neck of the woods!" I received this beautiful card with her photography and a piece of her hand dyed fabric! Trust me, the hand on this fabric is luscious! Thank you, Luanne!!!!

A couple weeks ago, our almost four year old granddaughter asked if we could make some clothes.  This is the granddaughter who likes to spend her time in the studio drawing or creating on the design wall. Of course, I said yes, knowing full well that she was going to choose a pattern that either the fabric would be a challenge or the pattern would be a challenge. She likes to wear, as she calls them, "princess dresses."

She's been eyeing the leftover fabric from her sister's birthday cape. Click the link if you want to see the fabric and read about the cape.

Mind you, she doesn't understand why I can't make her a cape out of the leftovers; but, she wanted that fabric. I got out the patterns and suggested a simple blouse. She agreed. A few days passed and I knew she wouldn't be happy with the blouse so I made a trip to Joann Craft and Fabric store. I selected some pink netting and pink organza to go under the leftover fabric. I know she'd like a swishy skirt better than a blouse!

Then, my eye lit on the smocked fabrics in fun character prints. There was a Hello Kitty, Micky Mouse, Doc McStuffins to name a few of the options.  I thought she might enjoy a trip to Joann's to pick out her own fabric. I also decided that I couldn't just take one granddaughter and buy just for one granddaughter.

So, I enlisted the help of my husband to help with the 2 1/2 year old. We practiced following directions. The almost four year old can repeat the directions and demonstrate that she can follow them. The 2 1/2 year old? Well, not so much!  I can't tell you how many days in the last two months that we have been practicing stop and go. Some days are better than others!!

The day arrived for us to go to the fabric store. We practiced the directions at home before we left; but, the two year old was catching a cold; and was feeling yucky. She didn't want to go anywhere; but, my husband's lap!

The four year old was excited about going to the "Quilting" store. I explained Joann's wasn't really a quilting store; but, that one day, if this day went well, we'd go to a real "Quilting" store. She said she was prepared and she opened a little case. Inside was a piece of paper with some marks on it--her list--and a purple plastic play "debit" card! She was so excited about the debit card and was concerned about how she was going to get it to the store because she didn't want anyone to take it from her and she didn't have a pocket to keep it safe! She said she wanted to "buy" her dress!

I kept asking her how she had an account to have a debit card and her reply was, "Daddy, takes care of everything!" Oh my, her commentary made me chuckle!

She chose a Disney themed Mickey/Minnie mouse fabric. . .not so much for the mouse profiles; but, because there were pink polka dots and a second layer of fabric resembling a ruffle. She also chose a fabric for her sister. . .it is also a Disney themed Minnie mouse fabric with a dark pink smocked top and black polka dots on the bottom of the fabric.

This fabric is smocked at the top and in one seam, you've created a dress. Simple and fun. . .I HOPED! We also purchased a coordinating fabric for straps for each dress. She pinned the back seam the day we bought the fabric; but, decided that was enough sewing for one day.

The next day she came, sewing her dress was her first concern. So of course, we started right away on the project. She knew that I would help her; but, that she was the one who would be sewing. We made a French seam for the back seam. We spent time pressing four straps and then top stitched the edges together. She can guide the fabric well and commented about all the different lines we used to guide the fabric!

She knows the difference now between ironing and pressing. She likes ironing better!

She tried on the dress after completing each step. When we finished the hem, she put it on and said that she wanted to wear it home to show her mama and could we call Auntie and Great Grandma too???  But first, would I announce her to Papa so she could make an entrance??? Of course, it was yes to all. She is so proud of her dress because she made it HERSELF with a little help from Gran.

It was a GREAT one and a half hours in the studio! More quilting related posts ahead; but, this was an experience too precious not to be documented!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hexagon Quilting Finished--3rd FAL 2nd Quarter!

Drum roll please. . .I've finished quilting the hexagon block of the month (BOM)!!!! This makes the third finish on my FAL 2016 second quarter list which you can read here.

What a painfully slow progress this quilting became. I'm excited to have typed "finished!!!" I had my second arthroscopic knee surgery mid-April and developed a funk with my motivation of all things "quilterly. "The funk is dissipating; but, still present. I hope that in a couple more weeks, I'll feel like my old self and that I'll have better movement and even less pain in my knees.

This is how I quilted the spaces in the border. I was so happy to get back to free motion work! I made a series of swirls.

I don't know that the swirls compliment the circles or the appliqué blocks. I figured the swirls worked because I used fabrics from my stash of "little pieces."  I did a lot of selecting, then I often decided to change direction so this is why I decided the motif fit! FYI--I did buy the fabrics for the Christmas tree block as I wanted ornaments!

I did buy the ruler foot for my domestic machine. This was the block I decided to requilt to try it out. You might not see a whole lot of difference between this block and the block below; but, I am happier with the lines as they are more consistent.

I did a little practice and found that the thicker foot sure makes it easier to keep the ruler in the spot that I wanted. I am pleased with how the block looks after I requited the left side! I'm wishing that I would have purchased this foot many months ago! I look forward to playing more with it on another project. I used Cindy Needham's stencils for the background.

This is what the whole quilt looks like. Notice, all the quilting barely shows which was my intent. The other cool finding is that the quilt measures 97 1/2" long on the left, middle and right side of the quilt. This is how it is supposed to happen; but, it is the first time that it actually did!

It measures 67 1/8" wide at the top; 67 1/4" in the middle and the bottom. Okay. . .so it was a little off; but, not by much!

My plan is to just go ahead and bind it without blocking it first!

Luanne, I forgot to take a photo of your fabric! Next week, I'll share it here!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

No More Walking Foot

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers that read this blog!

A special thank to Luann Fisher for sending me a beautiful prize. You can read her blog, "Let's Create Today," here. I'll post a photo of the hand dyed fabric next week.

Quilting the hexagon top has stretched me out of my comfort zone! First, there was my desire to quilt each block differently. I blogged about the six cream blocks here and the six black blocks here. I wanted to practice quilting with a ruler. I first used the back of the foot to anchor the ruler and discovered that I could go in two directions fairly well with this method.

Then, it was on to the sashing. I drew a design and then attempted to quilt it using free motion. After quilting two and and half blocks, I decided it was too wonky. So I spent some time ripping and then I spent more time contemplating. I laid the quilt out on the floor and I thought, "What if I simply the design?" My next thought was "What if I use the walking foot to quilt the design?"

As I pulled the fabric through the machine to accommodate the direction I needed to go, I noticed I was having trouble holding the foot next to the line. When I took the quilt out from under the needle, I found that I had rotated the shaft that the foot attaches to so that the foot was no longer over the feed dogs. No wonder I couldn't follow a straight line!

I took the machine in to the dealer for a fix. Fortunately, it was done at no charge and was ready an hour after I had left it!

This is the 8 1/2" design that I used.  It was a lot of turning the quilt and I was so wishing that I had a long arm! The reason, I went with this design was to provide texture so the hexagon blocks would be the star of the quilt. Also, I wanted to try to quilt the sashing in a more "modern" way.

When I finished quilting eight of these, I needed to figure out what to do in the outside border. I decided that I would continue using this design, although because the area was smaller, I used a smaller square--5 1/2". I eliminated a line and changed the structure a bit so I could use the walking foot at the 1/4" and 1/2" marks without drawing chalk lines.

 I quilted 10 of these. I felt like it took forever! I would have to take a break after quilting each square as well as give myself a short stretch after stitching each round. I spent about 20 minutes quilting each of the 18 squares.

I'm using a Rainbow polyester variegated thread made by Superior. It has purple, green, yellow and orange segments which is wonderful because the thread blends so well that from far away, you don't see the quilting at all!

Then I had to decide what to do with the rest of the sashing! I thought, I sketched, I thought some more. . .well, you get the picture!

I decided that I would stitch a straight line in the middle of the 1 1/2" strips and then divide the space at the corners so it would look like I had quilted a box in the green and the orange sashing.

Between the 8 1/2" squares, I followed the line idea in the three inch sashing strips. I stitched 3/4" from each edge. I liked how it turned out.

Unfortunately, my walking foot started making a lot of noise. Then a piece of metal fell off and the noise stopped. I'll figure out where it came from later. It is sewing much better now! How I wish that there was a ruler foot for my machine. . .well, there is; but, it doesn't quite fit. However, I may just buy it any way to see if I can free motion straight lines next time feet are 25% off!

Here is a photo of the quilt with just the squares. Notice that you don't see much of the quilting at all! I achieved what I wanted although I do miss seeing the quilting. Isn't that a conundrum?

Next up was filling in the spaces between the blocks in the outer border. I definitely was THROUGH with pulling and pushing the fabric though my generous 11" harp space; but, I was sick of it! I wanted to do some free motion. . .but WHAT??? I was thinking that I've been around this quilt so many times already and I've at least two more trips around it before I adequately fill the spaces. Then the idea came to me. . .quilt circles. A circle motif could be modern. I could free motion it which would make me happy AND the circle could represent both stitching around the quilt as well as how I felt when I was trying to discover how I was going to quilt the next section!

At the top and bottom of the quilt, there was more space so I was able to quilt this design. On the sides, I quilted four circles instead of three. Each circle took about five minutes which included marking them. I'm getting excited because I now have the corners and that triangle space you see up above left to fill and the quilt will be quilted!

I contemplated what to do for those spaces. I doodled. I thought and then I thought what if I put in some crazy swirls. The first corner went well. The second went well; but, after I finished the third . . .

Well, see for yourself! Then tension went wacky. How odd. . .I didn't change a thing and I quilted the third corner directly after the second. I spent some time unstitching. I didn't finish; but, perhaps, that will happen next week!