Monday, March 30, 2020

Down In Mississippi

This week's quilt is made with a vintage block called Mississippi. I used light fabrics in lime, aqua, lavender and cream. The large 13” blocks were easy to cut with AccuQuilt dies. I used a Blue Wren strip cutter die for the narrow sashing.

Down In Mississippi finished out at 45” x 60” size. I quilted with cream thread, using Angela Walters' Elvira ruler to free motion stitch wavy lines. It was great practice and so enjoyable.

Down In Mississippi
I've had plenty of time to quilt the past two weeks, since we haven't left the house because of that nasty virus. It isn't a hardship to stay in because my home is a refuge, a place where I'm comfortable and happy.

I like puttering around, sitting on the porch, hanging out with my husband. I can always find something to do. So far, we have enough supplies and food. I really don't like grocery shopping anyway, so I haven't missed that a bit.  My fabric inventory would probably sustain me for a year.  

I wish more people would take this pandemic seriously and just stay at home. Sure, I miss breakfast at our favorite diner, our April camping trip was canceled, I'd like to shop for spring flowers, and I won't get my hair cut on schedule. But I don't think any of that is more important than our health or our lives.

The number of cases, and sadly, the death toll is rising quickly.  STAY HOME, PEOPLE!!



Accuquilt dies used:
55010 5” Square charm
55147 Half square triangle 2 ¼” finished
55731 Signature 4 ½” finished

Blue Wren die used:
6015 1 ½” strip cutter



Monday, March 23, 2020

Sweet Music Man


My all time favorite singer is gone. The distinctive voice of Kenny Rogers caught my attention back when he was with The First Edition. But I fell in love with him at a concert in 1978 when he sang Sweet Music Man, She Believes In Me and I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again.

So many memories made with his music. I spent the night on a sidewalk outside TicketMaster to score front row seats on several occasions. We never sat further back than the 6th row, at all his Nashville area concerts.

Kenny used to toss signed tambourines to the audience and I'm lucky enough to have several. I knocked over a good friend to catch my first...I gave her the next one I caught the following year.

My favorite memory is a Christmas concert at the Grand Ole Opry House. He asked for volunteers from the audience and I popped up like a red headed jack-in-the-box. We were to help him sing The Twelve Days of Christmas. And I do not sing well at all. 

Being first, I had partridge in a pear tree, so I got to sing with him twelve times. On the Opry stage. With his arm around me!  My feet didn't touch the ground for days.

He had much better luck with some of his duet partners: Dottie West, Dolly Parton, Ronnie Milsap, Lionel Richie, Gladys Knight, Sheena Easton, and Kim Carnes.

His music is timeless in several genres: jazz, folk, pop, rock, and country. He kept his signature style but tried new ideas over his six decade career. I love his many hits but the album cuts are some of his best. If I had to choose my top five, they are Lady, Through The Years, Anyone Who Isn't Me Tonight, Crazy, and Sweet Music Man.

I will truly miss this wonderful, talented man. He always made me feel like he was singing just for me, even at a packed concert. I have photos, memories, and music to heal my broken heart.

"Nobody sings a love song quite like you do"



Monday, March 16, 2020

Little Green Apples


Wearin' of the green for St. Patrick's Day...it's a natural at our house!

I'm sewing with green, too.  Little Green Apples is a lovely baby quilt in shades of green and white. These prints are old fashioned, just like the pattern. The curved seams in the Apple Core die went together perfectly on my Janome 9400 machine.

I quilted in white thread, using straight stitch and following the curves. The outside borders were stitched in straight lines. This little beauty was a delight to sew, and finished out at 42” square.


I have several projects cut and ready in case of quarantine due to the current pandemic. In fact, I'm thinking about staying home anyway. Who wants to risk getting sick? I need to spring clean, and I'll use ANY excuse to sew all day.


Accuquilt dies used:
55036 Apple Core
55017 2 ½” strip


Sláinte!


Monday, March 9, 2020

Dreamtime


Dreamtime
As many quilts as I make, fabric scraps multiply quickly. Every few weeks I have a cutting session to keep the remnant baskets from overflowing. 

Using Accuquilt dies, I cut my most used sizes of squares, triangles, strips, and tumblers.  I sort them into inexpensive kitchen storage boxes, then label and stack in my cabinets. With all these pieces organized, my sewing room is neater and I'm able to sew a quick quilt anytime.

Today's project is made up of 4 ½” hourglass blocks in bright, cheerful colors and cool white/cream/gray neutrals pulled from my stash. It's an adorable 40” square baby quilt called Dreamtime. After piecing the blocks, I arranged them on my design wall to balance the colors before sewing them together.

I quilted it on Rockette, my latest Singer machine (see last week's post for that story). I used white thread in a straight stitch 3/8” from each horizontal and vertical seam line.  Perfect, neat and simple.  Love that Slant-O-Matic!

Accuquilt dies used:
55398  4 ½” finished Quarter Square Triangles
55017 2 ½” Strips

Come with me,
where dreams are born,
and time is never planned.
~ Peter Pan



Monday, March 2, 2020

Singer Slant-O-Matic 500 Rocketeer

Singer Slant-O-Matic 500
Rocketeer
Do you know what sometimes happens when you're just browsing around, not intending to buy anything? Yep, that item catches your eye and you are hooked.

I've been bad. I certainly didn't need another sewing machine, especially a vintage one from the early 1960's. But this Singer Slant-O-Matic 500 is so cool looking, so space age and interesting that it is commonly known as the Rocketeer. Price was only $49, including the original manual and accessory box, so I figured why not.




My sweet husband and I cleaned, degunked lint and grease out of the gears, replaced a worn bobbin winder tire, broken spring, and a few other parts. We polished this well built gem to a shine. I love working on projects with my guy.

She sewed beautifully, even before we cleaned her up. But now, what lovely stitches! I had attachments from my Athena 2000 that fit, but ordered some cams and bobbins. My investment is around $100 so far; I call that a bargain!

Rockette won't be my primary machine, but I will use her often enough to keep everything running smoothly. I tested her out by quilting and binding a small project and she sewed a dream.

Rockette at work
I've got to stay away from antique malls, thrift stores, yard sales, and online marketplaces. I'm too easily tempted! I don't have space or funds to go crazy collecting sewing machines. But, if I win the lottery...




Monday, February 24, 2020

Aussie Stars


This gorgeous block has been on my to do list for a while. The Arkansas Traveler die is currently only available if you attend a class at an Accuquilt dealer. Unfortunately, there are no dealers or classes near me.

Thankfully, I found the Traveler's Star 12” die (same design) by Blue Wren from A1 Craft and Quilting in Australia. I also ordered a 1” finished strip die, and both came with free mats. Including international shipping to the USA, the total cost was only $106. Not bad for 2 dies and 2 mats. The dies work perfectly on my Go cutter.

Aussie Stars
Aussie Stars is 43” square, made up of nine blocks in teal and bright green with black bandana print and cream prints. I've had the teal and green leaf print for a while; it gives a modern look as sashing and borders.

It takes precise stitching, pressing, and alignment to get a perfectly flat block. I'll admit to using the seam ripper on the first two, but my practice blocks went in the quilt after I got them right. The rest were a breeze.


The back is an extra block that I framed off center with leftover wide strips of teal, green, and black. I quilted with a dark cream thread in long serpentine patterns with a walking foot.

I'll be making more of this classic design, and I'll definitely order more Blue Wren dies.  Good customer service from Norma by email.  My order took a little over 3 weeks to arrive, but it sat in customs here for days.  


Blue Wren dies used:
Traveler's Star 6361
1 ½” strip 6015

Leap day is this Saturday



Monday, February 17, 2020

Sweet Talk

Sweet Talk

I like to experiment with designs, colors, and stitches. Today's little quilt was so fun to play with, and I used up a few more remnants.

Drunkard's path blocks in pastels and gray are set with colorful polka dots in two sizes and tiny black and white stripes. Borders of blue gingham frame it up nicely. Sweet Talk is 28” square.

Quilting on this is the best part. I've been practicing free motion ruler stitching on my Janome Memory Craft 9400. I used the Squiggy ruler by Angela Walters, aligning along the seams. Using gray thread, I created two different designs.


I enjoyed this project very much, and that's what sewing is all about for me. Relaxation, enjoyment, learning new skills, playing with fabric: my retirement dream come true.

Accuquilt dies used:

55107 2 ¼” x 4 ½” rectangle
55395 2 ¼” squares
55743 and 55739 4 ½” Drunkard's Path
(in 9” Companion Set)
55032 3 ½” strips

The key to retirement 
is to find joy 
in the little things. 


Monday, February 10, 2020

Purple Blaze

Purple Blaze
The Blazing Star quilt block looks complicated but it's pretty easy to sew, although it took a while to put together 25 blocks. 

I designed it in Electric Quilt 8 so that I could experiment with purple shades for the star pieces and audition different fabrics for the borders and sashing.


I used Accuquilt's 55051 Blazing Star die, which made cutting a lot quicker. You just have to pay attention to which sections are placed right side or wrong side up for the cuts.

After sewing all the blocks, I added sashing and cornerstones before sewing the rows together. The backing is a wide dusty lilac paisley print. It took some time to sandwich and pin this too. I quilted rows 2” apart with a walking foot in a serpentine stitch using light lavender thread. I cut the binding with the AQ 2 ½” strip die.

Purple Blaze is 87” x 92” and I just love the end result. Of course, that's pretty predictable since any shade of purple is a favorite. This beauty ended up on the bed in our spare room. 

Start to finish, I worked on it for just over two weeks, with a couple of days off to cut other projects and clear off my tables before quilting.

Side note: I hope you liked last week's Singer Model 20 restoration. I've been so bad...on Friday I bought another vintage Singer machine (1960's), so watch for future updates.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Singer Model 20

Singer Model 20 - before

I picked up this darling little Singer toy sewing machine at a yard sale last spring. It was rusted solid, nothing moved on it, but I loved it anyway. 

The Model 20 was first produced beginning between 1914 and 1922 as a child's toy. Hand cranked, it clamps to a table and sews a functional chain stitch. It reappeared in the 1950's and 1970's, also in electric and battery models. Early ones in the 1920's and 30's were cast iron, like mine.

Singer Model 20 - After
I fully intended to clean it a little bit for display only, but my talented husband had other ideas. He worked to remove the rust, and freed it up enough to take completely apart. After sanding, nickel plating, painting, and polishing the pieces, he put it back together, replaced the decals and ordered new needles.

Model 20 back view
We made some adjustments to the tension and stitch length; now it sews a pretty chain stitch. While I won't use it often, I love that the Singer is all polished, shiny and functional.


What a guy...he took time from his own projects for this time consuming refurbishment. Of course, fixing stuff is one thing he likes to do.  

I got me a good man 
and I'm gonna keep him!



Monday, January 27, 2020

Amazed

Amazed

This week's quilt is perfect to cheer drizzly winter days. I used black and gray half hexagons paired with brightly colored triangles to create a larger triangle. 

I arranged everything on my design wall as I cut, lining up the colors before sewing them into strips.

The final arrangement makes a beautiful modern maze that looks more complicated than it is. After sewing all the sections together, I trimmed off the top and bottom edges. I quilted with gray thread along the top edges of the hex pieces and in the ditch down the strips. 

Black and white chevron print fabric was used on the back and binding is a light gray. Amazed is 36” x 42” size, a cute baby quilt or wall hanging.

This one was quick and easy once I had it laid out. I like these medium sized projects because I can complete them in a few days. Finishing something always gives me a satisfying feeling of accomplishment.

Accuquilt dies used:
4 ½” Half Hexagon 55437
4 ½” Equilateral Triangle 55429

You will be amazed
at how things magically
fall into place
when you let go
of the illusion
of control.
~Maryam Hasnaa




Monday, January 20, 2020

Southern Charm


This year I intend to use more of my very large fabric stash. As I did my annual inventory, I validated the fact that I am seriously addicted to pretty material. I knew there was a lot since I needed a larger binder for my index cards.

Apparently I don't use as much as I buy. I'm running out of storage space. So, I earmarked some pieces to sell, several to donate to my local thrift shop, and more for my next few projects.

Southern Charm
Today's quilt is one of those. Nine-patch and snowball 6” blocks combine for a bright, happy little 42” x 48” quilt. I chose a red apple print for center and half squares, backing and binding; solid tan for snowball centers. I shopped my scrap boxes for coordinating colors.

Southern Charm is quilted with a walking foot, using light red thread in a diagonal crosshatch pattern. I think it has a vintage look. I used roughly 4 ½ yards of fabric, now just 705 yards to go before I run out. Not likely to happen!

Accuquilt dies used:
6” Snowball 55330
2 ½” square multiple 55059



With the amount of fabric I own, 
I should be ashamed of myself.  
Let's be clear, I'm not!  
But I should be. 
~author unknown 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Curiosity


I selected most of my black and white fabrics for this beauty, then added a few grays for good measure. I stitched it the last week of 2019. Each 11” block is made with four diamond in square blocks. The design is perfect for using up remnants.

I cut 2 ½” x 4 ½” rectangles for the centers and 3 ½” half square triangles to set them into squares. Narrow sashing of 1 ½” strips in a white on white print frames them up nicely.

The backing/binding is a delightful print called Cat Happy from Windham Fabrics. If you look closely, you'll find a few more kitties peeking out in the front triangles. I quilted with a walking foot in white thread, using straight stitch in long wavy lines 5/8” apart.

Curiosity finished at 52” square, a nice size for cat napping.
Curiosity

Accuquilt dies used:
55159 2 ½” x 4 ½” rectangle
55009 3 ½” half square triangles


Once we believe in ourselves, we can experience curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. 
 ~ e.e. Cummings


Monday, January 6, 2020

On Every Corner


A new year and a new decade has arrived! Like most folks, I like to do a reset in January. Wrap up year end items. Clear out clutter. Consider what's next, what makes me happy. For me, a fresh start is energizing.


Today's quilt, On Every Corner, is one I finished just before Christmas. Green, cream, navy, and rust prints were cut into strips and squares and arranged in a diagonal pattern. I worked up the design in EQ8 software before cutting with AccuQuilt.

Fabric for the backing and binding is a grayish tan cobblestone print. I quilted with tan thread, using a straight stitch along the seams, keeping the diagonal lines toward the center. These calming colors would be right at home in a mountain cabin, don't you think?


What's next for me isn't difficult to figure out...I already have a huge list of quilts to make. Modern, vintage style, large and small. My sewing room is clean and organized. The only thing now is to decide which one to cut first.

Accuquilt dies used:
3 ½” x 6 ½” rectangle 55005
3 ½” square 55006


Pursuit of happiness =
more fabric,
more quilts,
more time in my sewing room

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