Thursday, January 30, 2014

Snowy finish

Heavy snowfall all morning helped set the mood to work on a Christmas quilt, even though the holidays are past.  Today I finished up the quilting on Decade the Halls, a free pattern by the Fat Quarter Shop.  I practiced free motion stippling in the background with some success, but my stitches are still very uneven.  Just can't get the hang of it yet, but I'll keep trying.  Took advantage of the fresh snow for an outdoor photo.  And took another inside which doesn't look as grey.

In other news, I got a call last night from the Bloomington Historical Society and they would like me to give a public presentation on the Album quilt in their collection in July.  That will mean more research and writing time ahead and less quilting. I'll really need to budget my time!  Celtic Solstice is half finished, and three wedding quilts are in the works in various stages.  So much to do!  I barely get one thing going when a new adventure pops into view.  2014 promises to be interesting around here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Quilting in the cold

It's so very cold here in Minnesota this week.  In fact, the whole month has been Arctic!  We're on track for the coldest January in over 30 years, and in Minnesota, that's saying something.  Low tonight -20F and very windy, so -35 wind chills.  The kids are all happy they have had no school today or tomorrow because of the cold.  Frost bite in less than 10 minutes, so it's dangerous for them to be out at the bus stop waiting for the morning school bus.

But in all this cold, what else is there to do but pull out a nice quilt and get to work quilting?  Today I finished up Kathleen Tracy's small quilt challenge for January.  Four bear paw blocks with a little sashing.  This one finished at 23 inches square.

I'm using these small quilts to practice my quilting.  I'm using combinations of straight lines with a walking foot and free motion.  I'm trying several marking methods as well.  I have a couple of wedding quilts to finish, and I'm trying to brush up and improve my quilting skills before I tackle those next month.  It's coming along.

Next up is quilting Decade the Halls.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Little three-inch

This week's finish was made with 3 inch squares from my scrap bag.  It finished at about 20x24 inches and is just so adorable!  My favorites are the teddy bear blocks.

I quilted the center with my walking foot, 1/4 inch on either side of the seams instead of stitch-in-the-ditch.  I love the look, and it's very proportional to the block size.  The border is free motion large/small loops from a template I purchased at Hancock.  Still need more practice at that, though I found that I could see what I was doing a little better if I fed the quilt at a 45 degree angle through the machine instead of  straight on.

This one might be for sale if I get a booth at the Marketplace at our church festival in August.  I've never done anything like that before so I'm not sure I'm ready to take the plunge.

I'm afraid that the cost of time and materials for making quilts makes them too expensive to sell, but I also think that I tend to undervalue something I can make myself for 'free'.  Still, I'd probably only want to pay half the price to buy it.  (Which would earn the maker minimum wage if it was 1978!)  But, if my main sale products are redwork dishtowels and aprons at reasonable prices, and the quilts are mostly to give color and interest to the table, the high prices wouldn't matter I suppose.  Well, now I'm rambling.

Check out the links this Friday and leave a few encouraging comments to the wonderful quilters at these blogs:
crazymomquilts with Amanda Jean
Confessions of a Fabric Addict with Sarah

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

For what it's worth...

Triple Square 14x19.5"
Today I did a little experiment.  What is a quilt worth?  I've been considering getting a booth this summer at our Church Festival Marketplace and selling some machine embroidered redwork dishtowels and aprons.  DH suggested putting out a few of the quilts I've been making too - the small mystery quilts and little 'just for fun' ones.

So, I picked out a simple free online pattern HERE.  It's called "Triple Square" and is the January Petite Quilt BOM by Garden Path Quilts.  I timed my quilting, though I did make a few runs downstairs to change the laundry from washer to dryer.  It took 3 hours to make from start to finish, including machine binding.  To make things easier for myself,  I enlarged the pattern slightly and used 1.5 x 3.5 inch already cut strips from my scrap bag.  So, with the larger size, materials used were 5/8 yard fabric including backing & binding, and 1/4 yard batting once I did all the math.  Finished size is 14 x 19.5, or just under 2 square feet.

I've checked a few web sites that give suggestions on what to charge when selling quilts.  They recommended figuring materials at full price (not sale price) including tax and charging at least minimum wage ($7.25/hr).
The math that came out even was:
Time & Materials:   $7.50 per hour plus $7.50/yd for materials = $30
Square footage:   $15 per square foot of quilt = $30

If I was more precise and used the 1.89 sq ft, $7.25 per hour and $6.40/yard (which is the value of four fat quarters + tax at Hancock Fabrics) the total is just over $28 for both methods of calculation.  So, that would be the minimum value I suppose, but it's an odd amount.

So, what do you think?  Is a small doll quilt, of only average quality, worth $30?  No showpiece or competition quality here, just a simple, quick and fun.

Monday, January 20, 2014

First Finish

The binding is on the first two quilts finished in 2014!

Redwork Snowmen Sampler is 22x27 and made with 5 inch finished blocks.  I tried something new while quilting this one.  I traced a stippling pattern from a template onto tissue paper, then laid the tissue paper on top of the quilt and quilted right through both.  I pulled the paper off afterward and it worked pretty well.  I need to get the hang of stippling in order to quilt the next step on the Chinese Coins and Lanterns wedding quilt.  This was good practice, but I need more.  The grey border is quilted in a triple zig-zag in the grey border, and the outer black border has simple free motion loops.

Little Bear Paw is 13 1/2 inches square and made from some of the trimmed triangles from Celtic Solstice, which is still in piecing stage.  The quilting on this is mostly stitch-in-the-ditch, with a simple twist cable in the green border.  This was inspired by a Kathleen Tracy quilt design, but mine has one more 'claw' on each side of the bear paw blocks.

After binding these I have used up 5.75 yards this year so far from my stash!

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Bunny Trail... or two, or more...

Hopping down bunny trails.  That's what my friend calls it when she gets distracted from her current project and starts something new.  I've been down a couple Bunny Trails this week.  Just can't seem to stay focused on either Celtic Solstice, or my niece's wedding quilt which will be called Love in Bloom.

Down one bunny trail I was this little 14 inch quilt.  It uses two dozen of the tiny bonus HST's from Celtic Solstice chevrons and will make a very nice gift when I need one.

I didn't take photos of the whole process, but it isn't hard to figure out by looking at the completed top. Here's what I used to make it:
(cutting measurements)

1.  24 bonus yellow/green HST's squared up at 1.25 inches.
2. Four 3 inch square scrap blocks with at least some green and yellow in the print.
3.  Four 1.25 inch yellow squares for the corners.
4.  Four brown sashing pieces 1.5 x 3.5 inches, and one 1.5 inch square yellow center block.
5.  Brown borders 1.5 inches wide, yellow border 1 inch wide and dark green border 2 inches wide.

Down another bunny trail were Redwork snowmen.
I stitched up these practice snowmen in November when I used the embroidery patterns to make more dish towels for the Ashland Museum Gift Shop.  I made a half dozen 5 inch finished sampler blocks in red and white to alternate and TA DA!

I picked the blocks because they looked a bit like snowflakes.  They are: Sister's Choice, Whirling Five Patch , Single Wedding Ring, Tea Party, Mrs. Kellor's 9-Patch and Handy Andy.

The only problem is that the old shirting fabric, which came from my mother's stash, has vertical stripes.   I think it looks a bit like the naughty little snowmen are all in jail!  Perhaps I should have oriented the stripes horizontally before I embroidered.  Too late now!  I'll get used to it.

Don't you love the little red cornerstones?  That's because I ran out of the grey border fabric.  Happy accident!

Then, I made the mistake of looking around on line at blogs again.  Judy at Patchwork Times is hosting a Scrappy Block of the Month.  Here's my 9-inch block:

And Kathleen Tracy at A Senitmenal Quilter has posted a photo of her January small quilt.  Had to make that too.  Look familiar?  It's the same basic idea as the first quilt at the top of this post, but this one finished at 25 inches:

Seriously, I need to get back on track.   In between all these side-tracks I truly have been chipping away at the Love in Bloom wedding quilt. I think today I will finish the last of the 25 blocks and can start lay out and pinning rows together!  Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Heading for the Border

Borders are on the little red/white/blue quilt which I first wrote about here last April.

This one has been difficult because I just couldn't come up with fabrics that were right for the borders.  Then, Celtic Solstice came along and I found that one of the orange/reds purchased for CS is just the right shade of red for one of the borders.  So glad there was plenty left over! The other borders are solid grey and navy with white stars.  

It could have been a Quilt of Valor except that I don't use 'quality' enough fabrics for them.  Still, I might give it to my neighbor's son who is serving in the Marine Reserve.

At any rate, another flimsy finish for 2014 and into the quilting pile it goes!   It finished at 43x58 and I think I'll just use some grey fleece for the backing.  Still haven't come up with a name for this one.  Some quilts just like to be difficult I think.

Hmm... good thing I took a photo and posted it.  I see a HST block in the lower left corner that is turned the wrong way!  Better get that fixed up.

Stash Report:  Between borders on two small quilts and cutting pieces for Celtic Solstice, I've cut and pieced 4 yards this week.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Pressing issues

Celtic Solstice is coming along beautifully.  All my 54-40 or Fight blocks are complete! Don't you love the little gold shamrocks in some of the green blocks?

 Now I'm turning to the alternate block and came across a snag.  Apparently I pressed my pinwheel blocks in such a way that the seam allowances 'spin' in the opposite direction from Bonnie Hunter's. Small problem.

But, not critical.  My saving grace is that I still haven't completed the Chevron blocks.  After making the first three Chevron blocks I could tell that they will not nest right with the pinwheels, so I'll need to re-press each side of the Chevrons before I put them together.  That should do it!  I don't think it will affect how the rest of the block goes together.

Linking up with Quiltville to share my Celtic Solstice progress.

Not as much sewing got done this weekend as I had hoped.  I've come down with something like bronchitis.  Naps and extra fluids have been on the agenda for me.   Outside it's sunny and bitter cold.  Tomorrow will  be colder here than at the North Pole (in January!)  I guess that gives us bragging rights, but that's some serious cold!  High will be -14 F with strong winds bringing wind chills to -50 F.  The closed the schools for a day.  Happy kids here!  Won't last long though.  Back to merely freezing by next weekend.  We are a hardy bunch, and are making good use of all our quilts this week!

I wonder if my friends in London are having a mild spell. Hope so! The weather trends there often are the opposite of what we have here.  And DS may be sent to Thailand again for work.  He'll get some warm weather there!  sigh.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Creating a little heat

It's a bitter cold start to 2014 outdoors here in Minnesota.  Way below freezing!  But indoors the sewing machine is kicking up some heat.  The first flimsy of the year is done.  It's made from four orphan blocks leftover from this quilt which I made for DD way back in 2001.

I've titled this one Ribbons and Roses. Tiny ribbons and roses are featured in the navy fabrics. The pattern was in McCall's Quilting - Quick Quilts winter 1998/99 and designed by Barbara Bennett.  size 83x101 and machine quilted with diagonal lines.

Four of the large 9-patch blocks were left over, and I came across them while I was doing a little straightening up.  I've never tried a Disappearing Nine-Patch and thought I'd try it out.  I cut the blocks through the center, vertically and horizontally, then flipped the two diagonally opposing pieces and sewed them back together.

A couple simple borders and ... ta da!  A 30 inch square doll quilt top.  The plan is to use flannel from an old set of flannel bed sheets for the batting and backing.

The other projects I've been working on are more blocks for my niece's wedding quilt : up to 15 finished now.
Celtic Solstice blocks.  All the pieces to block A "54 40 or fight" were completed, so today I sewed up all 24 of those blocks.  I really feel a sense of accomplishment, even though there's a lot yet to do for block B.  My chevrons are half done, and I haven't yet started assembling step 5, though the pieces are cut.  

Staying indoors and sewing while the sunshine streams through the windows is just the perfect thing to do on a frosty day!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Year end review 2013

Looks like I've certainly been able to quilt awhile this past year.  It's surprising how much quilting got done - and I suppose that translates to how little else got done!  Over 150 yards of fabric has been used!

Here's a list of my 27 completed quilts for this past year:
2 queen size:  Nana's Surprise, mystery quilt #7 from Quilter's Club of America
and Celtic Square Wedding quilt for John and Sarah
2 full size:  Audrey's Surprise and Izzy's Surprise for my great nieces
7 lap/baby quilts:  Basket of Figs, Temicula Blues, Starlight/Grandfather's Star, Red White & Blueberry, Midnight Flight, Via Air Mail for the lake association door prize, and Wonky Stars donated to a fundraiser for a little boy with kidney cancer.
4 table runners: Redwork, Red flowers, Churn Dash, and Irish Tea which was a gift to a friend.
12 small quilts or wall hangings: Abundance, Simply Sweet, Hat Trick, Vintage Green & Grapes, Betty's Choice, Autumn Mystery, Nabby's Dowry, 2 Halloween Pumpkins, Kings Highway, Be My Valentine, Sweet Pea.

Then there are the quilts I started in 2013 but aren't finished yet.  So I need to look forward to 2014 and finishing up some of these works-in-progress:
Sandwiched and ready to quilt:
Decade the Halls - twin
Chinese Coins queen wedding gift for a June wedding
Finished tops ready to be sandwiched and quilted: 
Album reproduction for the historical society - queen
Easy Street - queen
Lazy Sunday - queen
Christmas Redwork - twin
Bricks and Stepping Stones - twin
and two small table toppers
Still piecing:
Love in Bloom  wedding quilt for a May wedding - queen
Anniversary Quilt  blocks completed, ready to add sashing - queen
RWB quilt  needs borders - lap size
Little Countdown to Christmas - wall hanging needs borders
Celtic Solstice Mystery still cutting, piecing and getting clues- queen
Monthly Row by Row - two months completed - queen

I won't even begin to list the UFO's that are around, but there are at least a dozen projects on the list. (A project doesn't make UFO status until I haven't worked on it for a year.)

It's been a wonderful quilty year, and I'm so glad that you've shared it with me.  Thanks for visiting QuiltAwhile and for your encouragement and kind comments.  Hope you'll continue to stop in from time to time and check on my progress.

Have a very Happy New Year!