Karen writes about life as a Quiltmaker in Austin, Texas; surviving in an empty nest, marriage, cooking, gardening and (did I say?) Quilting...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Quilting a Holiday

What better way to spend a few hours on a quiet Christmas day than to work on a Rag Quilt?

A couple of years ago, I made 5 or 6 of these easy, but arduous quilts. They were all the rage - patterns were everywhere. I looked them all over and settled on the RagTime pattern from Quilt Country in Lewisville looked simple enough. As you can see, it's just alternating plain blocks with 4-patches, with a 1 inch seam that is sewn on the front, then clipped to turn into a lovely raggy chenille like surface.

The problem is the heft of the flannel, which makes the final sewing of the heavy batting filled strips a real bear wrestling match. And then, there is the clipping.....

One of the scissor companies came out with a scissor especially designed to make the work a bit easier on the hand, but it's still requires thousands of snips... tick, tick, tick, goes the life clock.

I discovered an old pair of electric scissors in my collection of old sewing things, and discovered that it is the simplest way to clip those seam allowances - no wear on the hands, and does the job in a fraction of the time required with manual scissors!

I had two large blanket-sized bags full of pre-cut blocks, that have not been touched for two years - last year I laid off, and decided I'd given away enough Rag quilts for a while!

But, alas, one important member of my family had NOT received a quilt - my baby brother! 10 years my junior, he's just not someone I think of as one who sits around needing a lap quilt...

But that said, he recently commented that he "had NEVER been given a quilt".... and so, the mighty bags of flannel squares were resurrected from the depths of my stash closet. Some uncut yardage, which included some darker, more manly, and less Christmas-like fabrics were also enlisted in the efforts.

The old 1927 Singer 31-15 was more than up to the task of constructing the quilt, and those old electric scissors still work as well as I remember. If was a fun task to work on over the holidays.

So, for the past few days, I've tried to finish off the quilt. Tomorrow, I'll post a picture of the finished quilts.

I do hope you were able to take a few hours out to enjoy doing a bit of quilting this Holiday Season - and wish a Very Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

2007 Challenge MET!

First apologies for such a long sabbatical. A lot has been going on, some good, but some that can only be described as "challenging"... lets start with the good stuff first OK?!

In mid 2006, I joined the Austin Area Quilt Guild, and after a few months of participation, decided that the best way to give back a bit to the group would be to challenge myself to make a baby quilt each month for the guild's charity "Baby Bundle" project. I made my first quilt for the January 2007 meeting, and challenged myself and others to make a quilt each month in 2007...

I'm happy to announce that I met the challenge (actually ended up making a few more than 12 - but sort of lost count)! Last month's quilt didn't get pictured... it was actually made in a bit of a hurry, as I'd been on the road to and from my Mom's in Dallas and so it was finished at literally the last minute - and almost didn't make it to the guild meeting - as we had a flat tire on the way there! So no picture was made. I used some older red/blue cheater fabric designed for pillows, and turned the pillow panels, which has a lovely folk artsy "heart" design into a 4-block quilt! But this month's was made at a more leisurely pace. The crazy log cabin blocks were made some months ago, an outgrowth of a workshop by Gwen Marston that led me to her book "Liberated Quiltmaking". I decided to make up a free-pieced "crazy" log cabin blocks. Then, I took the smaller scraps and strip pieced them to a 3" x 12" foundation for a border. I really liked the end result, and plan to do some more such quilts... great, great fun!

Here's a closer look at the blocks and border.

To set the log cabins, I just put 5 inch borders around them, and used my 15" Omnigrid square to rotary cut them into true squares... keeping the log cabins a bit "twisted"

I chose a cool design cam and stitched the binding down to the front with the lovely old 1971 Elna 62C.

One of these days, I'll take pictures of all my sewing machine collection for you... this machine makes the loveliest designs, all with little cams. Those Swiss do make good machines.

I used the Singer 15-91 to do the quilting... all was done free motion.

And what about the other challenge? I spent over a week in late October in Dallas, while Mom went through Triple Bypass Open Heart surgery! After returning home, she went back to the hospital for a couple more days to treat some atrial fibrillation that developed after the surgery. At 72, it's been a real challenge. My father, who's 76, never imagined that he'd be caring for mom - he was supposed to be the one with the heart problems! He had a stent put in place in an artery over 10 years ago, but I know always thought mom would be caring for him... After two full days at the hospital, Dad & I decided to split our time there - he in the morning, and me in the afternoon (he can't drive after dark).

So, another trip and a lot of time spent in the aftermath has been tiring, and, well, not fun.

Mom is recovering well, though suffering a bit from some confusion, and short term memory loss, we are hoping that she can work through some of this and regain her former vigor. Right now she's thrilled that she lost 10 pounds through all this and has worked herself back down in size and is fitting into some of her smaller clothes!

So - even in the darkest of times... there is hope!!
And now, back to that big old Wedding Ring quilt that MUST be finished in time for my next trip to Dallas!

Here's wishing you and yours a Happy, Happy holiday!