Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Did it just rain again?

Really I'm not an ungrateful sort of person, but if anyone out there would like some rain let us know -- Ohio is one of those parts of the USA that has been getting more than we need and I'm sure we'd be happy to share at least one rain storm with say southern California -- yikes!!
See that cute little yellow pan on the edge of the pond -- it was empty Friday,
but by the time it was safe to go outside again on Sunday morning, it had a good 3" of water in it.
That meant there was little choice except to sew all day Saturday!
Gordon helped me finish the quilting on this charity quilt. 
He keeps it from sliding off that end of the table?!?
On Sunday, I trimmed and bound it.  As I trimmed it, I was reflecting on how much I learn about machine quilting every time I finish another charity quilt. 
I did a great deal of straight line stitching to give it a graphic masculine feel.  I like the look of it, but it's a lot more work than free motion meander quilting. 
I should have done a bit more pre-stitching math to calculate line spacing on some areas of the quilt.  By the time I got all the green squares and triangles on the front filled with straight lines, I was bored, too.  So I switched to some free motion meandering and my spider webs. 
This top was my February stash busting project to create a donation quilt.  I used the Moda Love LayerCake Quilt pattern cutting my 10" squares from the green shelf.  The fall floral for the background has been in my hoard for over 10 years.  I'm not sure the "cute" panels do much for the quilt, but it's another lesson learned -- they are too close in value to the central green triangles.
But I did use a lot of green -- about 9 yards altogether!!
And the quilt will head down to eastern Kentucky with a local mission team in July spending a week working for the Appalachia Service Project.  I think it will be a good quilt for a man -- so often our charity quilts feel more like they should go to a child or a woman so I always try to get one or two manly ones organized. 
This is my fourth finish from the list of goals I set back in early April for the 2015 Finish-Along over at On the Windy Side.  I set eight target projects and while I didn't get four more finishes, I did make progress on three of them.  So I'll roll them forward into the third quarter at the top of the list!
Today's post is dedicated to Coal, my frequent companion over the past four years in the garden,
in the sewing room,
and around the neighborhood.   
One of my daughters and I live together. Coal was her dog but when she is working, he has been my dog.  We lost him rather suddenly Monday to a neurological disease that wasted his muscles. 
I will miss stepping over him on my way to the ironing board and our daily evening walks.
Rest in peace you old sweetie!!
Mary Huey
Linking up with all the other finishers at the


Friday, June 26, 2015

A Few Days Off From My Stitching

What prompts you to take a break from your stitching? 
This week, my youngest daughter and my grandchildren came for a visit and all stitching ground to a halt.  The focus for their visit was spending time together.   
That's a local waterfall roaring like Niagara after a heavy rainfall Monday evening.  It messed up our plans to explore the creek but not our fun!
My granddaughter and I had one of our little tea parties.  She informed me that one of her goals in life is to use every tea cup in my collection!?!  Okay!
We spent a morning exploring the Botanical Garden -- I think I was the only one who didn't try out these contraptions.
Mary Brower Huey's photo.
And the best part for me is always all the family dinners!!
When they leave, I'm always at lose ends so I headed out into the garden to weed and see what's blooming.  With all the rain we've had in the past month, the garden looks more green than anything and the weeds come out easily. 
But there are some highlights of color!
Butterfly weed is in full bloom -- not many butterflies though -- this wet weather is not butterfly friendly.
A penstomen has started what I hope will be a long summer of blooming. 
I found the wild rose in bloom in the back corner -- I'm always happy to see it again! 
The afternoon rain chased me inside and I spent a productive 45 minutes machine quilting until I heard UPS leave a package at the front door.  It's here.  The beginning of a new project.
So up to the studio to finish prepping for my turn as Queen Bee for Hive #7 in the Stash Bee block swap.  Aren't they fun?  I made three (using a tutorial from Block Lotto) and wrote my post which will go live on July 1 -- check that off the list!! 
Back to my stitching and my gardens until the next visit!!
How will you enjoy your weekend?
Mary Huey

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hexie Progress!!

It was a busy weekend with lots of activities that kept me away from my sewing machine but not from my stitching.  My travel pouch full of hexie basting supplies went along with me when I left the house!  When I ran out of hexies to baste, I stitched the first two motifs together even though the majority of the other 20 motifs are not quite to this stage.
I'm so pleased with how it looks. 
Once that was finished, there was no way to stop me and I set together the entire top row and then laid some of the second row in place just to admire it!!
Once again, I counted on the diagram how many of path hexies I need and counted how many I think I can cut from the very, very, very old piece of English cotton (might be Liberty).  I knew it would be tight when I decided to use it, but now I think it's going to fall short by about 40 hexagons. 
To the stash!!
Happily I found these two fabrics that blend nicely with the floral and started to decide how I would insert them in such a way that it looks like part of the plan.  Originally, I intended to substitute the green or the beige at the intersections of the path, but as I auditioned back and forth trying to choose one, I stumbled into this happy arrangement.
I like the lift it gives to the green in the motifs!  I'll need 85 green hexies and 28 beige ones (fussy cut to center that box of dots) and while I don't have much of either fabric, I have enough. 
Now I don't have to worry (I hope) about running out of the floral (but I'm saving all the scraps just in case I need to "make" fabric).  And I'm roaring to go on this quilt again -- having too much fun to stop -- maybe I can finish the top by the end of July?
I'll have more porch time once these two chicks leave the nest in the hanging fern basket on the front porch!?!  They are now 11 days old and have about another week in the nest.  
Mary Brower Huey's photo.
If you live on the east side of the Cleveland, Ohio area and would like to join me on the porch (or in the backyard) for hand stitching time, plan on Monday afternoon, June 29, 1 to 3 p.m.!
Hope your week is off to a pleasant start and you get in some of your own stitching!!
Mary Huey

Friday, June 19, 2015

Deadlines, deadlines!!

I'm sitting here looking at my second quarter list for the 2015 FAL at On the Windy Side -- I've only finished 3 out of my 8 pieces on the list?  Twelve days left counting today,  Happily I've put my APQS George back together and after a couple tentative test runs, everything seems fine so let's go!! 
I can get back to the daily effort to machine quilt a bit and meet some of these self-imposed deadlines for June! 
Do you suffer from brain-freeze when it's time to quilt a top?  I often do!  I want to finish this 72" square quilt to send off to the Appalachia Service Project with a local mission team in early July.
I did quite a bit of straight line quilting during my last couple weekly sessions with the other gals but with George back on line, it's time to tackle the five large empty spaces in the central part of the quilt.  Sometimes it helps me to kick start some ideas to just start ditching straight lines and happily, that strategy worked again!!
Spider webs will be perfect!!
Today we tend to regard anything connected to a spider as scary but during the height of crazy quilting in the 1890's, spider webs were a popular embroidery motif.  Crazy quilting was a reflection of the Victorian obsession with Oriental objects and in the Orient, a spider web is a symbol of prosperity.
To build a web with continuous stitching, I stitch a grid of spokes traveling from the end of one to the beginning of the next just as a spider would!  I mark a target point to stop and arch across the area.
Once the spokes are completed, I begin to weave the web, arching from spoke to spoke and working my way towards the center of the web.  I've studied quite a few spider webs (they are too fascinating to just walk past) and the threads between the spokes aren't perfectly symmetrical so neither are mine.
On this quilt, I was able to travel back up one of the spokes towards the center so I could keep the flow going (i.e., no threads to tie off) and quilt the center setting triangles.
I decided to do a loopy meander to contrast with all the straight line quilting but meandered into a corner at one point and did an extra loop to get out.
As I moved away from the "oops" I decided I better add a few more so it wasn't the only one (camouflage!!).
It looks like a buckeye!?! 
It's a new quilting design (maybe) but there will be lots more of them incorporated into the background meandering on the rest of the quilt!!
If you are unfamiliar with the importance of "buckeyes" to folks here in Ohio, I'll just say it's BIG!!  Folks who've left the state send pleas back to us to send them some??
Google it!
I'm delighted with the progress I've made and feel certain that I'll be binding this weekend so I can cross it off my second quarter list making it four out of eight!!
Gotta' love those deadlines!?!?!!
Mary Huey
Linking up over at FREE MOTION MAVERICKS!!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Katje's Millefiore with Marti Michell templates

Last week, I shared how I used Marti Michell's Set G templates to cut the pieces I needed for the center block of the 6th rosette for Katje's amazing Millefiore quilt
Over the weekend, I worked on cutting and piecing the other three blocks needed to complete the rosette. I'm not quite there -- stuck on a fabric decision -- but thought my Marti Michell template followers might be interested to see the adapted cutting that is possible with the templates. 
The diagrams for each block in Katje's book, The New Hexagon, are exact finished size (1/4 seams need to be added).  

To decided which templates can be used, I lay the templates from Sets G and H on top of the diagram in the book.  Template 52 from Set H was a perfect match for this hexagon.  That means that the small diamond template (#53) will also fit.
Katje modifies some of the blocks in the book for the Millefiore quilt and in this block, she eliminated the two small diamonds in this section making it into an elongated hexagon.
There's no elongated hexagon template in Set H but thanks to the holes drilled in the templates for transferring the "stop/start" dots, an elongated hexagon can be cut with the template.
I started with the correct size strip and trimmed the left end of the fabric according to the template.
I marked two dots, one where the pencil is and the second directly below it (just out of the photo). 
Then I slide the template to the right until the holes at the upper left and lower left corners matched the dots on the fabric.  This step is necessary to eliminate the unneeded seam allowance. 
Now I cut the two right hand edges, marked the rest of the dots that I'll need for the stitching, and continued down the strip until I had the six elongated hexagons needed for the blocks. 
I also needed two half hexagons (the gold) and two parallelograms (the green) for each block.
I'm going to use the same template -- here it is laying on top of the diagram from the book -- the dashed lines on the template are the stitching lines and they line up perfectly with Katje's diagram.  So I know that #52e is the size needed for the gold half hexagons.
The parallelograms require another adaptive cut.  I also need rights and lefts, so I layered two strips wrong sides together.
 I trimmed the right end against the template and nipped off the corner.  The solid purple lines indicate the two edges of the half-hexagon on this multi-shape template.
I rotate the template counter-clockwise (without lifting it) and realign the upper right corner of the shape I'm using to the first cut as shown below. 
Now I can cut the left end and trim off the point.  I have a right and left pair for one block.  For the rest of the cuts, slide the template to the left matching it to the corner of the previous cut as in the upper diagram until there are the required number of pairs cut. 
Ready to stitch!!  First the half hexagons to the each long side of the elongated hexagon.
Then add the parallelograms one at a time using your favorite set-in seam technique (I hope that's the one I teach in my workshops and DVD!!). 
This is another of the blocks for the rosette -- none of Marti's templates worked so I had to make my own using the patterns in the book.  The blocks went together well and there were no set-in seams on this one.
I have this group of blocks to finish -- I was able to use Set H adaptively to cut the pieces and the piecing is all straight seams, but I'm stuck on the last fabric.  
I'm almost there, just a matter of pulling more fabric off the shelves until I find the best option?!?
And there is less and less of the hexagon mosaic reproduction on the work wall (look at it HERE) and more and more of it is connected together -- making progress 1" at a time!!
Keep on piecing!!
Mary Huey
Linking up over at LET'S BE SOCIAL and SARAH DID IT!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Progress -- 1" at a time

I have been working this week at assembling the units of this reproduction of an antique mosaic quilt that was exhibited in a local quilt show about 15 years ago.  I've been piecing the rosettes over the past year and for several months, they've been hogging the work wall.
 I finally got all the ivory background hexagons stitched in place.  I've used partial hexagons to fill in the outer edges so borders can be attached easily.
 The time arrived to do some pressing.  I find it easier to manage y-seams if I don't press them until a section is complete so there is lots of pressing to be done at this point.
  So far I've only pressed the large center star motif.
It's not difficult, just tedious.  I started at the center and worked my way out into each point swirling the intersecting seams in opposite directions. 
After a bit I found a rhythm to it and it's laying quite flat.
I'll press the other sections as they are joined to the center.
And because I chain-piece through all my set-in seams, there are no long messy threads!!
This is a section of my piecing chart which I created in Electric Quilt from several photographs of the original quilt.  The colored pencil lines are my guide for where to add the background hexagons to create manageable sections for the final assembly.  I learned that trick from Karen over at Faeries & Fibres -- she maps out all her hexagon mosaic quilts.
I'm going to start by adding the large rosette on the right side to the center star.  I'm working on the machine, so it's 1" at a time.  I joined the center hexagons to each other first.
Then I stitched the two at each end of the section together. 
This gives me more control and keeps the work from feeling like I'm tangling with an octopus.  The pins mark the first three seams I stitched.
Once the units are anchored together, I go back and do the rest of the seams.  I align the edges of the hexagons, slide a pin into place parallel to the seam, and use the chain-piecing technique to stitch the seam. 
My "leaders and enders" this afternoon were the next six hexagon units for the sixth rosette of Katje's Millefiore Quilt Along.  All straight seams in these hexagons -- no y-seams.
I did some rough math for this quilt -- I think there are 1091 hexagons.  I don't usually count pieces but I was contemplating how many 1" long seams I might have stitched -- think it will be at least 3300 if my math is correct.
The weekend plan is to weed when it's not raining and stitch hexagons together when it is raining.
What's your weekend plan?
Mary Huey