January 31, 2012

Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt QAL Starts Today...

My already completed blocks from the first set.
 Our Quiltalong officially begins today!

I've already sent a few group emails to the participants listed below as I've started creating blocks to stay ahead of the group. I want to be sure that, if there are problems, I encounter them first and help the rest of the group avoid making the same mistakes. Likewise, I welcome input and pointers from each and every member of the group. This is OUR quiltalong - not MY quiltalong - and I want to make it fun for every quilter, both novice and experienced alike.

Some of us will be using Marti Mitchell's acrylic templates to cut out most of our quilt blocks. Others will cut out paper templates from the Farmer's Wife book. Most of us will be using our trusty sewing machines, but I know of at least one seamstress who will be creating all of her blocks by hand sewing each stitch.

Our February set includes the following blocks:
  • #9 - Box
  • #16 - Calico Puzzle
  • #21 - Contrary Wife
  • #23 - Country Farm
  • #41 - Friendship Star
  • #69 - Practical Orchard
  • #70 - Prairie Queen
  • #72 - Railroad
  • #81 - Snowball
  • #84 - Spool
I have completed these blocks so far are:
Box - renamed "Music Box" for my quilt

Contrary Wife

Country Farm

Friendship Star

Practical Orchard

What I want to be sure you know if you're also participating, but are not on the list, is that it is imperative that you confirm your machine sews an exact 1/4" seam. I found that unless you take the time to do this, you will be frustrated that your seams will not line up properly and your blocks will end up different sizes. Once I did this, my blocks looked much better - and measured 6 1/2" as they're supposed to.

I'll assume that you don't know how to do this and share the process with you. Here's what you do: Cut three 1 1/2" strips of fabric about 4 inches long. Now, using your usual method to sew a 1/4" seam, sew two pieces right-sides together and press open. Now, add the third strip using the same method and press open. Measure the width of the assembled strips. Do they equal 3 1/2"? If not, you'll need to move your needle (one click at a time), either left or right until you get that exact 1/4". (Right if the piece measures more than 3 1/2" and to the right if it measures less than 3 1/2".) My seams were actually more than 1/4" using a 1/4" sewing foot, so I moved my needle to the right two clicks until my test strips measured 3 1/2". ***If you're using a 1/4" foot, make sure that your needle is still able to pass through the opening in the foot. Too far and you'll break your needle up against it!  Refer to your owner's manual for your machine to see how to move the needle. On mine, the machine has to be in straight stitch mode and then all I had to do was adjust the width indicator (as you usually would for a zigzag stitch), but your machine may work differently, so check to be sure.

Also...I suggest that you only cut out the pieces for one block at a time. You'll then be concentrating on that block through the whole process and you're more likely to get the arrangement and seam allowances right it you do it this way.

When I write the post for our February set, I'll be sharing a story from you from my own QAL journal with you. As I'm creating these blocks, I'm explaining my choices for fabric but more importantly, I'm writing down my thoughts about the meaning behind the blocks I'm choosing.
I've set up a special Flickr group so that participants can upload their own photographs of their completed blocks. (If you're participating in the QAL, click here to go to the group and you can post photos anytime.) Also...Let me know what size quilt you're planning to make. I think we're going to have a whole assortment of sizes!

This is the list of the participants. If they have a blog, you can click on their name to visit their blogs:
There's still time to join, but don't delay. If you'd like to join in, just email me with your name, blog url (if you have one) and email address and I'll add you to the list. I'll be cutting off official participation on Febuary 10, 2011.

To all who are "official"...time to start your blocks (if you haven't already). I'm looking forward to seeing your completed blocks as we work toward our finished quilt projects. Remember, the most important thing is "Have Fun"!

January 30, 2012

Tuesdays With Tag - My Camo Throw...

Hi again! Tag here. Today I want to show you a present that Mom got for Christmas from Dad's brother, my Uncle Bruce and his wife, Sherre. I call it my camo throw. Bet you can't guess why!
I think it's so cool that they chose a present for her that has some of my peeps on it! Mom really yelped after she opened the package when it arrived last week. I ran to see what all the excitement was about! (She said something about an "extended Christmas", too!)

Dad thinks that one with the big grin on the left looks just like me. Says it's something to do with the ears.
I know you're not giggling at that!!
I love this corgi present, but Mom has made a point of telling me that this is the only time I'm going to be invited to sit on it.  She said that she only let me pose here because she wanted to take pictures to send to Uncle Bruce and Aunt Sherre to go with Mom's thank you card. 

I think they'll like seeing me sitting on it so much that they'll tell me I can use it all the time. Don't you? (Oops. Mom's shaking her head "no" right now.) I guess I'd better get off it. (Shhhh. Don't tell Mom, but I'll probably cuddle up with it from time to time when she's not looking!)

We have a great video to share with you next week. I'm slowly meeting my neighbors as we take our daily walks, so I'll be sharing our introductions with you. 

Well, it's that time again. I've gotta run. I'll be doing my drills and then there are lots of clean floors to hair up today. See you again next week! 'til then...
"More waggin' and Less barkin'!"

Memory Lane Monday - A Box of Photographs...

 This is the house where I grew up. When I was five years old, we moved into 184 E. Division Street in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. It was a large two-story home with three bedrooms upstairs, and one more tiny room with a closet that I convinced Mum to let me move into once I became a teenager. (I mean, who wants to share a room with their sister for-ev-er?) If I close my eyes, I can still walk from room to room, seeing every little nook and cranny, as though it were yesterday. (This picture was actually taken to showcase our shiny, new station wagon out in front, rather than the house. Just make believe it's not there, ok?)

See those three windows behind the balcony on the second floor? Well, the two on the left side belonged to the bedroom that I shared for many years with a messy, younger sister. Being more of an anal OCD organized person, I constantly picked up after her so that Mum wouldn't trash the room empty closets and dresser drawers (that we shared) in her ongoing efforts to teach us how to be tidy. Ah, yes, how we spent many a Saturday morning...but, I digress.
What I really wanted to share today was this photograph. A family photo taken on the front porch of that old house, with all the memories that well up inside me when I look at it.

I see my grandparents (my beloved Grandpa with his arm around me in the front row), little cousins, my younger brother next to me and that messy little sister (she still is, by the way!) right in the middle of the group with our grown cousin's (her godmother) hand on her shoulder. I see my Uncle Larry (right behind Grandma on the left with his arm on her shoulder) who passed about eight years ago. He was only five years older than me and the closest I'll ever have to an older brother, and I think of him often. My father (Don't smile at any cost!) in the shirt and tie on the right. Aunts and uncles smiling for the camera - and Mum (up in back) looking down the stairs to be sure her kidlets were being good little angels.

I have a special fondness for these old group photos. Between Handsome and me, we have a lot of them. Memories of days when families took the time to travel to be together. When they cared and looked out for each other.

Many of the people I love(d) in this picture have gone. But there are still people who shine in my life like brilliant stars in the night. I'm grateful to still have them to share some of these precious memories.

Life goes on. Change is inevitable, but those memories of meals, laughter, happier days spent with people I loved are seared in my memory - and will last forever, thanks to a box filled with photographs like these.
Thank you for letting me share another Memory Lane Monday today. I apologize that it's late, and thank Marydon from Blushing Rose for reminding me. (Ah, yes. Senior Moments. I've come a long way from that picture, Baby!)

I'd love it if you'd like to share a memory, too! My link will be open until a week from now, so just write your post and add it back here. See you with another memory next month.


Me. Winter of 1974.
Marydon just reminded me that I forgot Memory Lane Monday!
(I guess I just had another Senior Moment!)

Sorry, girlfriends. 
Hold tight. My story and Linky will be up in asap!
(It's 9:30 am ET in North Port right now)
UPDATE: 10:15 am - Whew! Done. Thanks for your patience. xoxo

January 28, 2012

January 27, 2012

Sneaky Peeky Saturday...

While patiently awaiting the next installment of the Scrappy Plate Club, I decided to start a few of the Farmer's Wife Sampler quilt blocks. I can already tell that this will be interesting...and a bit challenging.

I'm hoping to work out the bugs before the rest of the QAL members join in so I can share what I've learned with them. I already have a few ideas.
If you're looking for me this morning, I'll be at Sandy's Quilt Shop catching up with my quilting friends.  I'm going to take my blocks and ask for some expertise from the masters.

Remember those assorted green blocks from the hands of all the quilt guild members? Ivory/Tan was the fabric color that won in my poll last week. That's next on my machine. Perhaps I'll work on that this weekend. Next week for sure. Thanks to everyone who voted. I appreciate seeing what y'all thought.

Have a great weekend, and make sure you take time to do something you love!

January 26, 2012

It's Almost Time...

Such a sweet romantic image. Quite different from my imaginings of the life of a farm wife that might have followed, don't you think? I've managed to find more than a few cover images of the Farmer's Wife Magazine, and this one is from June of 1936.

It reminds me a little of our process for beginning the quiltalong. You're committed to participate (Not signed in blood, but you want to join the fun), you've chosen the fabric (or will soon), and you're busy copying templates. Still in the "honeymoon" phase...
It's almost time for us to begin our Farmer's Wife Sampler Quiltalong! If you're going to join us, I hope you're anxious to get started. February 1st will be the launch date for our party!

If you've signed up, I have your email address. Please be sure to add my email address to your email list so that you're able to receive all my group emails. Your first one will be sent today, so watch for it in your inbox.

Remember, there is still time for you to sign up if you'd like to join us. Not only will I share my inspiration for the blocks I choose to make, but I'll also share what I learn about creating the blocks. Even if you're not going to make a Farmer's Wife quilt, I hope you'll enjoy following the process and reading my own stories to accompany my blocks.

I encourage all of you who will be making your own quilts to get a notebook where you can write your own thoughts as you recreate the beautiful blocks that will become your Farmer's Wife Sampler quilt.

It won't be long now! I hope you'll all join us next Wednesday as we get started.

I'm also very excited to announce that there are only ten more days until I write blog post number ONE THOUSAND! You know there's going to be a giveaway, right? Because I believe that my followers/friends should have a leg up in the prize department (for reading my musings on a regular basis), it will be a Followers Only giveaway. If you're not a follower, you can't win. ("No tickie. No chickie." lol)

I'll put some thought into what I'll be offering for the giveaway and I'll share it with you in ten days.

January 25, 2012

Pretty Plates...

My Dresden plates remind me of color wheels. The spokes are comprised of all the colors and patterns of the Moda fabrics I chose from the Martinique line. They really make me happy!
I finished all twelve, and after rechecking the original pattern, I've decided that twelve will be enough for my quilt. I'm going to make the centers from the fabric I've laid behind this plate. Soft enough so that it won't take away from the differences on each one or bring attention to the centers themselves.

I am also going to throw in a little modification. I've decided to lay out all my blocks on point, rather than lay them out square to the design. That will automatically make my quilt a little wider, and because I'll need to fill in the squares between the squares, it will also be longer. Once I've done that, I'll decide whether or not I'll change the measurements for the sashing and the borders.
Remember that this quiltalong is supposed to run about six months, so I've finished my work for this month. Now to wait until Anne posts the next step. Can I? I don't know. I'm so in love with this fabric, that I might have to forge ahead of the group. But not this week.
These are all the fabrics that will be used to complete my queen size quilt. Now, to start thinking about what I'm going to name it! What do you think? Do you love it, too?
Tomorrow, I'm going to write about the Farmer's Wife Quiltalong I'm hosting here at Brynwood. We're beginning February 1st, so I want to make sure that everyone who wants to join is included in the list.

If you're one of those who will be participating (or if you're just curious), please click on the Farmer's Wife link at the top of my blog. Make sure your name appears there, and if you have a blog, that the link is correct (you'll have to click on your name).

If you've signed up, and for some reason your name isn't on the list, please let me know asap (and accept my apology for not getting your name up by now). If you haven't signed up yet, but would like to participate, please send me an email with "FARMER'S WIFE QAL" in the subject line. Remember, I'll need your name, email address, url for your blog (if you have one) - city, state (if you don't have one).

More on the Farmer's Wife tomorrow. It's really going to be hard for me to leave those plates alone today!

January 24, 2012

It's Coming Together...

I love making plates...Dresden plates, that is! I've been a busy seamstress, to be sure. I've already made eight of the twelve plates needed for the quilt pattern.
I have a regular assembly line going. All the pieces were cut and sorted for color value and then I started sewing.
There is a certain amount of joy involved in choosing where to place each pattern and color along each wheel. Stitch across all the ends in a continuous line so they stay in order. Then, cut one spoke off the line, turn the point, press and join it to the piece ahead of it. Slowly, each plate came together.
By the end of my sewing day yesterday, I had a beautiful array of plates on my work table. I'll finish the last four today...or decide that I want to make more for a larger finished quilt. Either way, I'll be making more of those lovely Dresden plates.

I'm so glad that I decided to join Anne's Scrappy Plate Club. I've never made the Dresden Plate before, and I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to watching my finished quilt emerge. Thanks to everyone for the feedback you've given me. More soon.

January 23, 2012

Tuesdays With Tag - Beach Bum...

Photo taken by Bob Marotta
Hi! Tag here. Now that I'm a graduate of Mr. Mike's Good Dog Camp, Mom said that I can start writing my own posts. Today, I want to tell you how much I liked the Venice Dog Beach on Sunday.

It was great being out in the sunshine and surf with all the other dogs. There were big dogs, little yippy dogs, and dogs of all sizes. I sniffed and wagged at all of them. Mom laughed. She told people I was "networking".
Photo taken by Bob Marotta
One of the things I really liked was running through the water. I even jumped in to play with some little kids who were in the ocean. I think I was swimming with the sharks, even though no one saw any. Maybe I scared them all away!
Photo taken by Bob Marotta
I got to meet other corgis, too! There were a few others that were my same color, but I really liked these guys. That handsome devil out in front is one of my new pals, Taz. (His name is almost like mine!)
DCL photo
My buddy Spark Plug (Mr. Bob's dog) had a nice hole dug in the sand before I got there, but he was happy to share with everybody. I even made it a little deeper for us. (I'm a little bigger than Spark and needed to make it fit me.)

Mom shot this sixteen second "short film" of me on the beach for you to see. I hope you like it as much as I do. If you want autographs, just let me know. I'll ask Mom to help.

I have to go now. Mom says I can't be playing on the computer all day. I've got chores. (She said I should remember to sign off like Fezzik did, so here goes.) 'til next time,
"More Waggin' and Less Barkin'!"
(Did I do that right, Mom?)

January 22, 2012

Gettin' Scrappy...

I have a button in my left sidebar "declaring" that I'm participating in Bunny Hill's Scrappy Plates Quiltalong. I went into my cabinets to choose which fabrics I wanted to use to make mine. I know the point is to make a quilt from fabric scraps, but I usually share my scraps with one of the gals from the quilt guild...and I have a huge sick copious frightening little fabric stash from which to choose.

I looked at my fat quarter sets and decided on Moda's Martinique line. I also have some yardage of a couple of these fabrics, so I'll be able to use that for sashing, borders and backing. Perfect!
I love these colors, and the patterns include sea coral, geraniums (my favorite!), polka dots and paisleys. You can see that I separated each of these stacks by color values so I was ready to get started. I did move two of the fabrics out of one pile into another. (See that red in the right column of "mediums"? That's one of them).
According to Anne's instructions, I'll need twenty to thirty different fabrics, cut into 4" x 12" strips. (I have over thirty in this fat quarter pack, so I'm good to go.) I started by cutting the strips I needed from all the medium value fabrics. I only need 4" x 12" from each fat quarter, so the remainder of each piece of fabric went back into stash for another project.

After that step was finished, I took out my Easy Dresden ruler and cut stacks of strips into the pieces that will be the start of my spokes in the Dresden Plate blocks. I'll be cutting all of the strips from dark and light values before I start any sewing. I'm planning to spend today doing that. (I'm soooo happy to be back in the studio!)
If you're interested in joining this quiltalong hosted by Anne Sutton at Bunny Hill, just click on the button (like this one) in my sidebar.

I only got this far yesterday because Tag and I headed over to the Venice Dog Beach to meet up with friends with corgis in the afternoon. (Tag will be telling you about that tomorrow!)
I've already chosen my background fabrics for the blocks and think it's going to be a pretty quilt. Because I've taken the "Process Pledge", I'll be sharing my progress on this quilt with you. It will be fun to show you more photos as I go.

Thanks to everyone who has voted so far on my poll. I'm looking forward to seeing which fabric ends up being the sashing for those green blocks! If you haven't voted yet, the poll closes Tuesday evening. I'll let you know on Wednesday which one wins out.

Tag is really looking forward to his first post. I think you'll enjoy it. I'll be back on Wednesday.

January 21, 2012

Sunday Scripture...

 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
                                                                                                                     -Matthew 11:28