I can use the mic on my iPad to write this post

Dear readers,

I just discovered that my keyboard on my iPad has a microphone function which will actually type what I speak. It recognizes to place a period, comma, question mark, or exclamation (though I just had to type those). I’m going to be playing with this over the next few posts. I’m probably still going to have to do some editing, obviously, but I think it might work pretty well for getting my text onto the screen. Even though I’m a fast typist,I think this is kind of interesting. It may also be one of the reasons why I may be finding it very difficult to find a job in the secretarial, office clerical, and administrative assistant positions. I’ve often wondered in the recent years just how long it would take voice recognition software to become decent enough to actually be useful to use. It looks as if that time may have come. I just noticed that every time I get a notification, the microphone goes off. This could be a problem for actually trying to get something done, if people insist on liking all of my posts on Facebook a lot. There also seems to be some kind of a time limit I’m not sure what it is but it doesn’t just stay on continuously. I’m testing it out as you’re reading this or should I say as I’m typing this, and so far it’s maybe it doesn’t have a time. Whoops, yes it does!

Well I think I board you and I are in for now. Okay. I think I’m going to leave that last sentence and let you try to figure out what I was really trying to say there. Tell next time.

Grandma’s Grandmother’s Fan Quilt – Ta Done

Adieu, Adieu, parting is such sweet sorrow…

Today marks the completion of my Grandma’s Grandmother’s Fan quilt. Without making you “wait for it”, here is a (kind of wonky) picture.

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It has been a long, arduous journey.  This journey began, well, I can’t remember exactly when I found these blocks (but now I’m thinking in 2008), in an open cardboard box, amidst the mess upstairs at Dad’s house. (p.s. that wasn’t the box I found them in)

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There were no notes, nothing that identified the original owner.  The blocks weren’t even in a plastic bag – just sitting in an open box – collecting dust.

I’m not even sure my Grandma did these.  The only assurance I have is a similar Grandmother’s Fan quilt that I know she did make in the 30’s or 40’s.  I know she did that fan quilt because when Mom died, we found it at the house in a bag with an index card saying Grandma had made it and when.

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I wish I could tell you I found matching fabrics in both of these quilts, but I can’t.  The pieces are so small, and there are so many of them, and, believe it or not, even though there are some duplicates, there aren’t many. Even though there isn’t 100% certainty, because these blocks are so similar to the quilt that I know she did in fact make, I have always felt as if I were completing a project she had started.  This would be the one and only project of my Grandma’s I can finish for her, so it’s no longer an unfinished object (UFO) or, as Mom liked to say, WIP – work in progress.

My friend asked me a couple weeks ago, after I finally had the top finished and ready to quilt, how many hours I’ve put into this quilt.  I told her that I didn’t keep track, but probably over 100 hours.  I realize I’m guesstimating the time involved because these tasks occurred at various times over 2.5 )or 6.5) years ; however, for posterity’s sake, here’s the breakdown.

2-4 hours – Washing, ironing, counting blocks (and the 420 additional already  hand sewn together 6 blade unit fan tops).

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40-60 hours – Stitching about 120 undone fan tops to blocks by hand with perle cotton and blanket stitch.

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2 hours – Basting about 20-50 fans to blocks by hand

1 hour – Making a few more quarter circles, stitching to fan top and basting to blocks

4-8 hours – Quilt design, calculations to figure out how many squares needed, find design, rework design (when I realized these blocks were 4 1/2″ finished, not 5″ finished as Grandma’s original Fan quilt)

1 hour – Cutting more squares to go between fan blocks

1 hour – Laying out blocks for design and stack for sewing

4-8 hours – Sewing blocks together (includes time to press rows)

2 hours – Cutting 9″ borders, and then reworking design after sewing on one border and realized it didn’t look right.

2-4 hours – More sewing after adding rows all around to make it 18 X 18 squares instead of the original 14 X 16.

2 hours – Obtain pink fabric, batting and backing.  Cutting pink and white borders.

2 hours – Washing and ironing pink border fabric, backing and white border, and selecting fabric scraps to make white border.

2 hours – Basting quilt top, batting and backing in sections on kitchen table with safety pins.

~15 hours – Free motion quilting fans and stitch in every ditch

1 hour – Figuring out how to stitch pink and white borders

1-2 hours – Making cardboard feather stencil after deciding not to use paper stencils.

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2-3 hours – Drawing with washable marker and stencil feathers, diamonds on pink border, piano keys with ruler on white border.

~8 hours – Free motion feathers, diamonds, piano keys

2 hours – Making paper stencil for one side of scallop border with two or three trial runs.

1 hour – Pin scallop stencil, with quilt on the floor, kneeling or moving around on quilt top, and tracing all around.

1/2 hour – Cut scallop edge.

~2 hours – Make about 500″ continuous bias binding

~3-4 hours – Sew bias binding by machine to back and front of quilt (P.S. Scallops are like 10 times harder than a regular binding.)

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~1 hour – Wash quilt by hand and run through washing machine spin cycle, and then dryer.

1 hour – Make label and sew on back of quilt, by machine and hand.

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There you have it!  If my calculations are correct, and they probably aren’t because I’ve been working hard on it these past few days, I’ve spent from 103.5 to 138.5 hours on all phases of this quilt.

Plus, if my time isn’t enough, consider that my Grandma:

- Cut out all those teeny tiny fan blades (by hand, with scissors – after tracing with a template) [~3720 of them] which finish at 1/2″ at the bottom, 1″ wide at the top, and 2″ long from bottom of blade to the tip

- Cut the quarter circles – probably hand traced from a template.

- Hand sewed over 200 six blade units (`1200 fan blades) to each other and then to the quarter circles. (Actually, hand stitched over 620 six blade units – still have ~420 of those left).

- Cut over 200 5″ white squares with scissors and using part of an old cereal box as a template for tracing (yeah, I found that in the box).

- Basted the fan units to the 200 blocks, again by hand.

- Blanket stitched 115 blocks fully and 60 partly.

I’m not sure exactly how long all that hand work would have taken, but I think it’s safe to say this quilt probably has over 200 hours, maybe even 250, in it.

Let’s imagine someone got paid by Illinois standard minimum wage, and this doesn’t include the cost of the materials – the quilt would be worth about $1650-$2100!

This process has been more of a labor of love for me, rather than expecting to win a quilt show (I wouldn’t – tons of mistakes in this quilt [more on that later], but I still live by the perfection of the quilt is in the finished product), having someone in mind for a gift, or even wanting to have this for myself – well, none of those apply.

For me, this has really been about finishing a project of my Grandma’s – as I have done with some of my Mom’s pieces – not because I needed to or had to, but because I wanted to.  I wanted to because, I knew, in the process, I would feel connected to my Grandma in a way I never have before.

So, you see, even though it really has been a labor of love, that took around 2.5  years (or is that 6.5?), there is a sort of sadness that goes along with completing this.  For all the boxes and bins of fabric, notions, templates and books, unfinished blocks, partially and totally completed blocks my Mom had (that I now own [inherited in a way])- this was the only makings for a quilt I had from my Grandma.  Other than a shoebox full of her fabric scraps (and yes, I know this because it had the Eiffel tower print in it), of all the sewing and quilting she did, this is all I have left to finish for her.

So, now, it’s done, and with a sense of accomplishment, and a certain amount of regret, I can say, I finished the last project she had started and never completed. I somewhat detest maudlin, but in this case, how can anyone feel anything but?

Made by Clara

 

 

Hot Mess Quilting

Last night my daughter, with no particular good prompt to do so, said, “Mom, you’re a hot mess.”

Today, a friend and I went to a local quilt shop, lunch and came back to my place to start on a Christmas tree skirt for her daughter.

When we got back here, we talked first, then I was the one who said, well, let’s see what materials/fabric you have, and do we want to use this pattern design from the Missouri Start Quilt Company’s video on a Christmas tree skirt from charm packs (though we were using yardage and cutting squares ourselves).

So, we watched part of the video, went downstairs to start cutting.  First, I/we placed the cat fabric down to see how a 5, 5 1/2 or 6 inch square would look. Then, I scrambled for a piece of paper and pencil so we could figure how many squares we would have to cut of each for the finished size we wanted if using 6″ squares to start.  Then, she did fussy cutting on a Christmas print with cats on it, and I cut strips and then squares of the two of her other fabrics she had purchased (last year) that we decided to use instead of the original five total prints.

Then, she was still fussy cutting with my 6″ square grid ruler and smaller rotary cutter, while I said, what about the border – I can cut strips for that, so we played around with  that design for a while, as I searched here and there for different items.

We never did figure out the borders on this quilted Christmas tree skirt, though I think we decided we needed another print because yardage for bias binding for the center circle was going to be a problem.

She decided to press the blocks, so I heated up my iron, and while she was pressing, tried out some quilting threads I had to see if any matched up well.

Then, we were going to start sewing the blocks together, but instead I took two extra 6″ blocks and gave her a mini lesson on free-motion quilting (FMQ) (which she had never done, she was [is?] a hand quilter).   She immediately asked about my quilting gloves (Machinger’s) and the quilting foot I have.  Now, I forgot to tell her that I have a Juki foot for my machine, being high shank, and that it cost about $42, but it came with my used machine and I love it, and I wouldn’t trade it or give it away for anything.

Instead, I pulled out my machine notions box and found her a quilting/darning foot I had two extra, that I used when I first started on my Kenmore machine, low shank – but somehow couldn’t find the one I had modified via Leah Day at the Free Motion Quilting Blogspot (originally with a ponytail holder to hike up the spring a bit so the foot didn’t ride so close to the fabric, and bent back the part that rests on the needle bar, but I found waxed dental floss worked better to hike up, ,and I cut between the red line to get ride of that plastic in the way of visibility [WTF did my low shank darning foot go? I wonder]).

Anyway, I gave her one of my extra feet because she swears her machine is low shank and I don’t use my Kenmore for FMQ anymore, and proceeded to show her on the 6″ block how I sometimes basted with spray basting, and then used a paper stencil template with a riding horse to start showing how to FMQ, but also how to get a cool design FMQ that was precise and more like heirloom, hand-quilting.  Then, around the horse, I showed her a stippling/meandering pattern, telling her this is really one of the more simpler ways to learn how to FMQ.

Anyway, she then got a call from her husband and something was amiss, so she had to run – but sometime during this session of where is this thing, and let’s move that, and I just put this over here. . .

I remembered what my daughter said about me being a “hot mess” and realized – I’m kind of a HOT MESS quilter.  I know where things are, and even when I remember “oh, where is that ‘thing’ I {wanted/used/knew I had/remember seeing and not knowing what it was for but now I do and want it} – even though my quilting stuff is spread out between old family room  in lower level (we live in a tri-level),   living room cedar chest  on main level, garage bins of fabric from mom, and dresser draw of fabric from mom in upper level – I can usually locate said “thing” within 5-15 minutes of searching.

OMG, I’m not as bad as my mom, but granted, she was a packrat, and had things skewed all over, but she could usually locate something  random and obscure withing 15 minutes.

Now, I’ll grant that I didn’t know all the sewing and quilting projects she had in progress, so if I had asked her, where is “this thing you showed me 5 years ago and I don’t remember you showing me the finished product” – I’m not sure she would have been able to do that – but still!!!

She was a TOTAL HOT MESS quilter.

I try to organize and simplify, and put things where they belong, or at least where they would be handy/easy to find/organized/categorized/put your organizational term here – but, no matter how hard I try – I find that if I am creating something new, which is like almost all the time – I don’t want to “waste” time “organizing”.  I just want to create, and piece, sew, quilt, bind, press, watch tutorials and then do them, etc.

I’m a frigging HOT MESS QUILTER!

But, I will confess that even my sister said, I’m a “get her done” quilter.  Yes, once I have decided to finish said whatever project, it’s usually done within six months, and that’s on the outside.  It’s more like usually two weeks or months (depending on who supplies the pieces to be finished).

However, I am cool and confident in my choices.  I totally feel free and comfortable that whatever I create will  be fairly awesome.

I embrace my reality and Zen. . . . . .

 

Color Theory

I watched  a block of the month class on Craftsy about Color Theory.  I thought I was really bad at blending colors, but I found out I knew more than I thought

What I learned about color:

1.  Even if it’s a print, a fabric will “read” a certain color.  Usually, it’s the background, but if you have say a navy print, with red and gold stars, the fabric will most likely still “read” as a navy.  Also, white stars or dots may have the fabric “read” lighter than it actually is.  Also, saturation of the print can change the “read” of a fabric.

2.  Analogous colors are groups of colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, with one being the dominant color, which tends to be a primary or secondary color, and two on either side complementing, which tend to be tertiary.

3. Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel, and usually go well together, i.e., red and green, purple and yellow (or gold), and blue and orange.  There are others, obviously, but I’m not going to name them all here.  This I also actually knew, maybe from middle school art class? Gee, Mr. Brown, I may have actually remembered something! (Yes, my art teacher’s name was really Mr. Brown!)

4.  I need to print or make my own color wheel from fabrics.  I think this will help me with color choices for quilts.  Then again, maybe it won’t because I actually am better at color theory than I thought.

That’s about it for what I learned on color theory (click here for a Wikibooks explanation).  Actually, there may be more, but I can’t remember it right now.  Take the Craftsy Block of the Month 2014 (it’s free), and maybe you’ll learn something.   I’ll probably watch the class again, even though the quilt they made was  C R A Z Y !!!

Another Fanfare Update

It’s been a while since I reported on the Grandmother’s Fan quilt.  I just mentioned it in the previous post, and thought I would give an update to these two posts.

A Brief Interlude or Fanfare

A Fanfare Update

After running into problems with the border and deciding to add more rows, I’ve been working on stitching up the fan tops by hand with a blanket stitch on about 40 more blocks.

It’s not my favorite part of the process, so it took me a while to complete.

After getting these blocks done, I couldn’t quite remember how I intended to add them.  So, a couple more hours fretting over the layout, I finally decided to just make it 18 rows by 18 rows – adding a pink border of 2.25 inches, and another white border for the scalloped edge varying from 5-8 inches.  This quilt is now ~97 inches long and wide.

I had a few blocks leftover, so I made a pillow top to match the quilt.  Actually, what I wanted to do was test out quilting design so I would know how to quilt the big quilt. After figuring that part out, I was ready to start quilting.

Fan pillow

First, I decided not to go with my natural colored cotton batting, JoAnn’s did not have any warm and white cotton batting in the store when I went to get the wide backing fabric.  I decided to do polyester batting – which is always white, staying away from Mountain Mist which tends to have skimpy areas.

I looked at the Soft and Crafty, and for a few moments thought about going with a medium loft of 1/2″ instead of the usual 1/4″ low loft.

Thankfully, I didn’t because I realized how heavy this quilt was already going to be.  However, as I was basting the backing, batting, and top together, this batting was very lofty indeed! It seems like it has a half inch loft.  I’m hoping it will tame down a bit after quilting.

Unfortunately, this makes quilting very interesting.  I started out with these super awesome gold needles, but the thread kept breaking.   I changed the bobbin, and that didn’t work.  Then, I checked all the tensions, no problem there.  As a final resort, I changed from my fancy needle to a regular Organ 100/16.

Problem solved.  Now, I’ve quilted the center part of the quilt, but after one evening, my arms were already tired!  I’m out of quilting shape!

It’s been the longest process ever!  I can’t remember how many hours I have spent on this quilt – but probably close to $100.  Some amusing math – imagine getting minimum wage for this labor! It’s already a $600-$800 quilt!  And, I’m not done yet, and it will probably be a long quilting job – 20 hours or more!

I’m hoping to be able to post a picture sometime before Thanksgiving.

And now, back to my sewing machine!

Grandma’s Handmade Quilt

By Hand

What’s the best present you’ve ever received that was handmade by the giver, not store-bought? Tell us what made it so special.

Grandma made a quilt for each of her grandkids.  These were mainly hand sewn, with some machine sewing, but all hand-quilted.

I got mine in 1981, when I got married.  I used it often, for many years.  I just now tried to find an old snapshot of it, and unfortunately, the only one I have, the quilt is folded on a table.

Mine started fraying, tearing, and tattering to the point I could no longer use it.  Although it was beyond repair, I saved it in my closet, and then in my mother-in-laws cedar chest.   No matter how torn or tattered, I just couldn’t throw it out!

A couple years ago, I got a bunch of old well-used quilts when cleaning Dad’s house after Mom died, so I decided to cut out the good parts and make old quilt throws.  My sister let me have her quilt for this purpose, too.

When I was cutting up my quilt, I found a block that Grandma had written in green ink – Made by Clara Niemann, 1980.  I don’t remember ever seeing it before!

Made by Clara

I mixed up the blocks in each throw, and was able to make 5 throws,  but to be sure, I kept the one with the block she signed.

Right now, I’m working on a Grandmother’s Fan quilt from blocks I think she started.  I finally have it all assembled and have even started quilting it.  Like the Butterfly Handkerchief quilt, I don’t know what I plan to do with it, again, not having a guest bed to display quilts I want to cherish and preserve.

After a couple hours of quilting, wondering what I was going to do with this quilt that I’ve put 100+ hours or so into (not to mention all the hours she put in cutting and sewing the tiny fan blades!), knowing I will preserve it as best I can (which means washing it as little as possible and not leaving it in a sunlit room), I wondered if someday, someone, my grandchild or great grandchild, will still have this quilt and think of me.

I think they will.

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