Apr 27, 2016

'Round here

The azaleas are done and it appears that the Snowball bushes and irises are out. What I THINK are Confederate Roses are blooming and the magnolia trees nearby are beginning to flower though it seems early for that.  Meanwhile, I'm growing........ clover.   Lots of it but I am not alone with that!  There are also fields of red clover growing wild.  Oh, and kudzu is coming up unfortunately.   It is too hot, too soon but a week from now they say we are back to 40's overnight with rain and storms possibly in between.  We marked 5 years since those devastating EF-2, EF-3, EF-4 and maybe 5's hit the state---bad  4-27-11.

So what is going on 'round here?  Beats me and I'm living it along with the two critters.  My friend Sandy teases me by calling my blog the "Alabama Home Companion" but I suspect she might be right with these tales I spin.   True stories though, not Norwegian bachelor farmer stories.

This is the looks I get when I open the refrigerator door, the two little beggars come running.  I have even managed to get Oscar out from under the bed with that trick!

Of course, Skyler gets right up close and personal and begins yowling even though it was just 10 a.m. at the time and he got feed two or three hours ago, he feels it is time for treat bites AKA a glop of Fancy Feast canned instead of crunchies.

Have a squirt of cream instead--maybe that's what he was after anyway.  You see the untouched crunchies though he didn't have one kernel in there first thing this morning.   (Oscar got a baby carrot for his treat.)

I know they can't tell time but I DO think they hold to a certain schedule maybe in part set by me but they know when it is light and dark, when to follow the sun to the front door instead of laze in the morning sun.  Oscar goes and stands at the carport door when he wants to walk and so forth.  When I do things like eat "lunch" at 10 a.m. no wonder, they get confused.   I grab some water and a breakfast bar before I go do my laps.  That's not breakfast but I don't feel like scrambling eggs, making oatmeal or even eating really before I go trudge around the park for +/- 2 miles.   By 10, 1030 I finally feel like eating but sometimes it will be anything but traditional breakfast food.  What does it really matter?

Today it was the third hamburger patty I fixed Monday evening.  That's what was left in the bag of patties from the freezer so I fixed them all.  Now the story, LOL.  My neighbor Robert had called to see if I had a staple gun he could borrow.  He had a speaker component he wanted to re-cover.  Sure, I said be right over and I grabbed my little case with it and the staples, not knowing what size he wanted.  Miss Kathryn was out as I started back home so I stopped to chat with her. Paul (her son) was out fishing so would not be over to join her for supper.  She said something about maybe going out for a  burger.  I had been thinking the same thing and had in fact, just come back from a bread store run (buns and rye bread).  Well, once I got home I thought "I'll make us some patty melts and join her for supper".  I hate looking at that empty chair of DJ's at the table, come meal time.   I sliced up a couple onions to carmelize and called to say I would be bringing over dinner, don't run out.   LOL.  I had gotten some potato salad to go with the fish so dished up that up and trotted the plates across and up the lane.

Paul had apparently caught enough fish last week to have a fish fry on Saturday afternoon. At 10 pm I found a text from Glynda saying her Mama had fish from Paul and if I wanted some to get with her.  That was sent at around 8 so I thought I missed out.  Sunday Miss Kathryn called and said some of that fish and hush puppies were for me, LOL.  It re-heated nicely.  Last week it was collards, a mix of Hoppin' John with purple hull peas and cornbread.  Think they might get me to like beans and greens yet?

I had gotten that pile of binding strips sewn together on Sunday and put the machine out in the car for Belles day.  As I am known to do, I just dumped the whole pile of it on the pressing table in the sewing room.  I couldn't find Skyler later that night and you guessed it, he was sleeping on that mess of "spaghetti" though I made him get off it.  Some of those quilts will be donation stuff and let's cut down on the cat dander, shall we?

The carpeted surfaces of the house got vacuumed but I still need to mop the kitchen floor.  I swear, it is a losing battle trying to keep things swept up.  Oscar goes out and rolls around in the yard and drags in grass clippings or from getting too close to the bushes to water them when we walk.  I drag in stuff on my shoes from the walking trail or the drive.  Skyler drags grit from the litter box in spite of the matting around it though it does cut down on some of that mess.  SIGH.  And dusting??  I thought that the pollen had lessened but there is still something flying around out there as the car is coated and so are the electronics and TV screen.  Dust the surface and it just lands right back where it was and more air borne!   I've already learned the lesson to not look up at the ceiling fan blades--best to either not look or keep them spinning, LOL.

Yesterday was Belles Day and a fun day with my buds.

Here is what I am working on.  There are 5 more vertical strips to go.  This one is called "Climbing Roses" and uses Bonnie and Camille's "Hello Darling" from Moda in pre-cut Jolly Bars, 2 of them, from the Fat Quarter Shop.  (Actually, I could have gotten a layer cake and cut it in half)  It also calls for two charm packs of white.   Mine will look a whole lot like the picture in the link as I was following the pattern trying to match the fabrics in it.  I layered those together Sunday evening with the PostIt denoting which row and which one needed to be cut back or halved in the case of the charms to get the staggered row effect, rather then randomly cut 4- 5 x 7 1/2

Beverly and Jackie were working on binding.  Jackie took the last stitches on this lovely quilt after lunch.   She said it was a quilt kit called something like Sweet Berry Fondue.  She has a small throw made with leftovers from the kit that she uses in her favorite chair that she calls "Leftover Fondue"  LOL.

Marilyn was sewing and working on Twisted Sister Blocks in teal for ovarian cancer donation.   Margarita was sewing on her Block of the Month for Ashville House.  I guess they get two of them each month.  Jane was doing some un-sewing as she had discovered one of her batiks in a Fiddlesticks top was running dye.  She was going to substitute something else for the offender.  Brenda was marking freezer paper for two lovely applique projects she has in the works.  Two big old sections worth!

Bev needed me to help her with an on point setting.  The blocks were a mystery quilt from Lick Skillet Guild had done called "Hanging Cabins".  Apparently they used a Mystery Quilt from North Parish Quilters as I found it online when I googled it.  Bev said they did not get the page that had instructions needed in step 4 of how to lay it out and she was lost in completing her UFO.  My best hint is that you HAVE to think in terms of diagonal rows not what you see when you look at it head on.  AND, isolate the row so you don't get confused in which direction the setting triangles and corners go.  I take the picture of the quilt--usually something I have generated in EQ or copy a page from my book or magazine--and fold it so all I see is say, the corner of the quilt in that diagonal row.  Then move on to row 2, 3 and so forth.  It should look just like the picture before you move on or fix it.  Bev was on the right track but one end had a couple of misplaced blocks.  We got down on the floor and un-sewed, re-positioned and she pinned the block or setting triangle in place.

She was also missing two sashing component 4 patches.  I showed her how to do 2 at once 4 patches with a charm I cut from her scraps and one of my white ones.  Just for an example as I did not complete the final cut.  This is the method shown in the Nickel Quilt books, Billie Lauder Quick Quilt Tricks and the old Alex Anderson"Simply Quilts" TV series is where I learned it.    You can find a pdf file to print off on Moda Fabrics Sewing Tips page that has a quick sheet for this technique  called "What Can I Do with a 5 inch Charm Square?".  Here is a screen capture of what you are looking for but seriously, go download and print it off for reference!  There is one for layer cakes too.

Speaking of layer cakes (10 inch squares), Margarita had been working on some unique 3D fabric bow tie blocks and had enough for two baby quilts.  Not the usual four patch with the knot sewn in kind I learned to love years ago either.   She said that they had someone demonstrate how to do this at a retreat but it was one of those things where the" notes got cold"?   She had found a video on You Tube that she thought was a bit easier so this is the one she used on her blocks from Paw Patch Quilting.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULjpeUAyGuo

The entire thing is done by hand and the blocks were 7 1/2 inches unfinished.  Margarita was working with a directional print for her bow tie blocks and figured out how to manipulate the fabric at a certain point to have it go the way she needed so half of her blocks went one way and half the other.  She needed some guidance for sashing and cornerstones, like how many strips to cut etc and we had discussed doing pre-sashing on her last quilt.  Way easier when you understand the concept it.  I told her I would draw it up for her in EQ and do some calculations since the evening group would be at the church.  We went over this last evening then and I think she is clear on what she needs to do next.  I had sort of color coded things and marked up the print out, just like I do my own, LOL showing how I arrived at the numbers.  Basically you strip piece the sashing bits and cornerstone and cut in her case 41 of them.  Then they go on the verticals on the block and across the top.  The unpieced ones go on the bottom of the block FIRST.  AND cut one single cornerstone for the very corner of the quilt.  The first quilt will be practice for the 2nd one.

Got you all confused??  Sit down here with me then  and I'll go over it with you.  LOL.

Even though Brenda and Jackie had brought their lunch to Belles, we convinced them to go out to lunch with the gang.  Bev and Beverly's husbands had both come to pick them up for lunch so they left before we decided where to go.   There was the usual "I don't care" stuff and almost as usual. I picked a spot since no one would decide for the group.  We could "I don't care" for hours, LOL and get hungrier by the minute.   McAlister's Deli though Margarita picked ahead for next meeting, LOL  Or I said that was where we would go next time as we drove to McAlister's.

On another tangent, tomorrow would be my dear man's 80th birthday.  I am not entirely sure how I will mark the day other than to thank the Good Lord above for the time we had together and that he came into my life when he did.  I will love DJ till the day I join him again and miss him daily.  I might not have gotten to celebrate those last three birthdays with him but I honor him for the man he was with me and for me.

Now, if you'll excuse me,  the clock says Skyler can have his round two treat bite and Oscar is probably ready for a walk.  Hopefully he will not just stop dead still up near the neighbors in the blazing sun as he has been doing---right in the middle of the lane!  We're up in the high 80's all week and I don't need my neck sunburned.  LOL.   THX for stopping by--------

Apr 22, 2016

Some productivity

I have been trying to get some sewing done for several days. Actually that plan is just as much so I can get the machine put up and get my kitchen table back and mop the floor in there!  Yeah, that last part is no fun but needs to be done desperately.  Same with the living room, hallway, master bedroom floors for strings.   I would still rather do something creative than clean but not always possible.

I considered going to the evening group earlier this week but got held up here at home (laundry dragged on longer than it should).   I did go over just to say "hello" to the girls and see what they were up to.   Three of the gals work days and relatively new to quilting, well Donna not so much but the other two girls need assistance from the more seasoned quilters among us.  I was happy to see Janice working on the binding on what I think is her 2nd or 3rd quilt.  Margarita is feeling more confident about following the block of the month instructions this go round.  Even the newest member has a completed top of simple squares and was starting on a baby quilt with a panel at center.

Wednesday night after Oscar was tucked in bed I sat down and finished sewing the blocks together for row 7 and then joined the sections seams (2 long seams).  This is called "Prairie Sticks" and uses a Jolly Bar from the Fat Quarter Shop.  These measure 5 x 10 or half of a layer cake.   Only took me a half hour to finish up but by 9:30 pm I was beat and ready to call it a day.

Yesterday morning I woke up early and got up and cut what will be the backing for this.  I would like quilted with a loose stipple which means it will go to a long arm quilter (maybe--I don't do that!).  A long armer requires at least 4 inches all around the top so I knew I had to get the top wider and longer.  I had fabric left over from this and the other top I made with the same fabric line a couple months back.   I only had to snitch one strip from another junior jelly roll to make the 7 blocks as I had typically over-cut section of the jelly roll for the Prairie Sticks.    I sewed this up today between home chores today.

I also cut binding for 4 quilts.  The pink/orange stripe was already cut for my recent Ribbon Candy top (the pink and purple one) but it was just sitting around in the sewing room.  This may sound crazy but that red/orange print from the Charming Box might work for backing THAT one too.   I should have enough for both tops.  The blue goes for two Ribbon Candy tops that the Belles and I worked on.   The multi-stripe goes on the No Bake Jolly Bars Chevron.  The Doily stuff,  Prairie Sticks.

Sewing this goes on the "tomorrow list" though knowing me I will not press these till somewhere down the line!  It is too sticky standing over the iron when the indoor temp hit 78 this afternoon.  I called "uncle" and turned on the air for just a bit till the sun truly sets and the outside temps start to drop a bit.  It was 66 when I got up at 6 a.m. and sticky with rain on the way in.  Way too early in the year to start with that stuff!

Then I finished up today's production by joining the blocks into rows for this top from late March.  It has been pinned to the table cloth and folded up since I thought I MIGHT get to it at the retreat---I didn't, LOL.  The top two rows are joined but not the two bottom ones---not in this picture, but trust me, I got it moved along.   Tomorrow.  It won't take long.

Electronics maintenance continues.  I think I told you I had re-set my phone this week.  It kept draining the battery and I think it is that darned google play mostly.  Anyway, I decided to switch phones with one I had tried before and had in the drawer.   It took a bit to get that switched over yesterday and make sure the number was activated properly and the few things I had downloaded added to the new one.

Today between sewing I had to go to Walmart to find out what had happened to some software I had ordered online that had been delivered on 4/16 but I was never notified to come get it.  I had chatted with Customer Service online who said contact the vendor.  The vendor was no help because, as I already knew, UPS/USPS had already delivered it and I had confirmation.  I printed all that stuff out and headed over to Site to Store.  The CSR couldn't even find the order number in the computer.  After a few in store phone calls, her supervisor came by and she remembered the package.  Come to find out, the address label only had my first name and middle initial, no last name with the store address.  NO packing slip, no order number, no way of tracing it.  She put it in the back figuring someone (ME!) would come looking for it.  I did, one day after the delivering window ended.  So anyway, after a late lunch and this unplanned break, I got Office Home and Student 2013 installed on the desktop.  Then back to the OTHER machine.   See above.

Oscar has been such a good boy since he ran away up the lane!  Goes out and comes right back in practically sitting on the back stoop till I let him in.  I still don't know how he got out or the modifications I made were the escape routes and they are effectively blocked.   I got him a new harness type thing and retractable leash so we are both getting used to that.  Well, I thought the webbing leash I had gotten was too long.  Glynda said "you sew.  shorten it".  Machine was sitting there so who cared about the wrong color thread?  Then I cut the wrong section away---oops!  I took the old handle apart which frayed the leash and then it was way too short.  Get the retractable one and it can be long or short or just right!   Thing is Oscar is poking and plodding along so I don't know if it just needs adjusting somehow or he is just in that frame of mind, LOL.  He keeps wanting to go over the neighbors but then we often stop to see Paul and his dog when he visits his mom or just to visit with Miss Kathryn.  He is starting to think it is part of walking in the lane, I guess.

I took the day off from walking my laps in the park, woke up too early and I'm beat!   I've been a busy girl  most of the day today with not much down time.  I think it is an early to bed kind of night but I hope I don't keep waking up before 6 especially when I can't get to sleep till after midnight.  

Guess that's it for this installment.  Off to find my jammies----

Apr 19, 2016

I love retreats!

I was privileged to attend the 2nd day of the JOY Quilters 1st ever Spring Retreat.  Actually it is more of an all day sew-in because you don't stay overnight but the facility was open from 8-8 for two days.  We met at First Baptist in Jacksonville in a large meeting room right next to kitchen facilities.  I only went one day as Lois and I shared a spot--she could only go Thursday so I said one day would be enough for me and we split fees.

The theme was an old fashioned quilting bee.  They asked us to wear an old fashioned apron on Friday.  Marilyn had rode with me and mentioned this just before we left the house.  She had a few extra to share but I had one of my own that my friend Pam had made for me several years ago.  I grabbed it and off we went.  Some of the girls partcipated in decorating quilting bonnets.  There was a prize for that.

They set up a lemonade station and we each got a mason jar with lid decorated with our name and little lady bugs.  Our name tags were beehives with a magnetic "pin" that our president Wendell had painted.  Later he passed little bees around and encouraged us to decorate our jars or pins with ribbons or whatever.  There is mine down in the corner.

The folded stars were a little give-away from our friend and fellow member Jennifer who does a lot of the long arm quilting for the group and the Attalla group.  They will host another retreat in the fall as they have for the last two years---I'm going!  The fat quarters were clothespinned to the trellis (that you will see below on the left). There were enough for us to go through twice and pick them out so those were my choices.  I picked a couple out for Lois as well at the organizers instructions.  There were door prizes galore too---I won a vintage Pattern box and this pillow case kit and the latest issue of 100 Quilt Blocks Summer 2016.  Jennifer has a block in it as she has done in other issues called Franny Odorlicious (cute skunk) on page 31.  She autographed it as she had donated it as a door prize!  I misplaced it though and thought I had left it behind.  It turned up in my sewing accessories bag right with the sewing machine manual.

I borrowed this image from the JOY Quilters page.  I'm at the machine on the left pinning rows to my current project or finishing up the assembly of what I would teach the girls to make that afternoon.   You can see some of the vintage quilts that decorated the room.  There was also a panel that some of the group told about their quilting mentors.  Marilyn gave her thanks to Bama Belles and our dear friend Joy Albea who co-founded the group with me.  JOY Quilters was formed out of our group some years later after a chance meeting with Ada and I at a Home Extension sewing session for cancer caps and pillows.    Wendee, my table mate, was diligently sewing on sewing 4 patches for Disappearing 4 patches in both standard and diagonal methods.

On Thursday I guess the lunch was catered but Friday we had some yummy chicken salad from one of the local Jacksonville businesses.  The committe folks set those up on croissants from Publix and had fruit, chips and desserts that some had brought to share.  I think Margarita made a pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust that was delicious!  If you went hungry, it was your own fault.

Most of the time was set up for sewing but most of the group played "Strip Poker" with 2 1/2 inch strips they were asked to bring--12 of them.  Donna came back saying she had lost her favorite purple strips, LOL.  I don't know who won or how many of them just went to see how the game was played.  I didn't want to part with my strips though!  They passed a basket of hankies with change tied into them and read a poem about hankies.  The one with the most change won a door prize and we all kept the change.  Annette's husband was the one who had his change jars raided.  There was also a reading about aprons.

Since the display boards were forgotten, I had to talk the girls through the steps of making one of my "Charming Boxes" blocks that will be combined to make a donation quilt.  I walked around with some of the sections pinned to my apron!   I'll have to make a few more blocks to go with it and will do the assembly.  Wendell will quilt them.  Most of them participated so I have a nice pile of blocks.

We were asked to make a 6 inch finished Spring block and a 12 inch finished "guy" block.  One lady one all the spring blocks.  The guy blocks will be combined for a comfort quilt.  Aline offered to sew those.  I didn't take my camera and didn't think to get a picture with my phone.  They turned out well and made for a neat display at the retreat.

You saw my completed Charming Boxes top in the tutorial that precedes this post.  I did the final rows assembly at the retreat.  Then I started on this top which is "Prairie Sticks"  named after the Prairie fabric (Corey Yoder for Moda)  So easy.  I sewed a bit yesterday afternoon and all the rows are now done, the top half all joined.  I only have to sew the last row of blocks together and 3 seams to complete it.  I may go over to the church to sew once the laundry is done.  Or I might not.   At any rate I'll probably have this top done to share in the next post.

I left the retreat about 4 on Friday.  Mostly because I was tired and my body was rebelling.  I got the worst leg cramp in my right thigh that would not let up no matter how much walking or flexion/extension I tried.  Later that night the peroneal muscle on the left lower leg kicked in.  I just cannot sit and sew for hours like I once did!

Also I needed to stop at the store on the way home to get stuff to make potato salad.  Paul, my neighbor's son and/or brother had invited us to come watch the Alabama spring scrimmage game (His mama Miss Kathryn lives across and up the lane from me in a mobile home on her daughter and SIL property.   Glynda the daughter is his sister.  Paul is a friend of mine. )  Got all that, LOL?   Us is Miss Kathryn, their friend Esther, his friend and former co-worker Charlie, his lady friend Carolyn, Paul and me.  Paul was planning on grilling burgers before the afternoon game and I offered to bring potato salad to go with it.  I knew from talking to him that he preferred dill relish.  Later I thought I should have gotten some mayo since they probably did not prefer "the tangy zip of Miracle Whip" like I would.  I borrowed some Hellman's from Miss Kathryn.  Then because it tasted so different to me with dill and mayo, I took some over to ask her if it tasted all right.  Next day I was still not so sure about it and bought a small container at the store just in case it was inedible.

I was still messing with computers this week.  I decided to hook my old one back up in the master bedroom just so I still had access to some of the software and old emails on it.  It does not have internet hookup though.  I found a small monitor at the thrift store that will work out fine and got an inexpensive pair of Logitech speakers so I can listen to downloaded music on it.  A few of the more recent additions were missing from the old desktop so I was running back and forth from the notebook, the new desktop and the old one a good bit on Sunday afternoon.   The only problem I had with hookup was the printer said it was offline---I got two new ink cartridges to do the taxes so I wanted that thing to work till it runs out!  Later as I was walking it hit me what the problem might be.   I did not recall with any degree of certainty that I had plugged the USB cord into the processor.  Sure enough, that was the problem.  I'm back in business!

Yesterday was trying to get a backup to run on the new desktop.  The initial one ran fine last week.  It took 4 tries till I finally got the job done.  I think part of the trouble was the computer kept shutting down after 20 minutes as a power saver and then the backup timed out.  Still, I was not going to stay up Sunday night for hours to see if it would go.

Today, the biggest thing that happened was Oscar somehow escaped from the back yard.  I had heated some leftover pizza slices from the freezer and went out to give him the crust end.  He was gone!  He has not escaped for 2 years and I thought we had the fence secured.  I do not know where he got out.  It seemed sturdy enough the length of the fence even where he had been digging.  Possibly he squeezed out under the back gate.  I've put a paver and/or cement block at those locations.  Miss Kathryn heard me hollering for him and then she spotted him running down the hill at Glynda's yard with her cat.   He got called by all three of his names just like any bad boy when they are in trouble with "Mama".  I had the leash in hand and he flopped on the ground for belly rubs, like it would make it all better.  He must have drunk half the bowl of water once he got home.  I have been advised to watch him without him knowing I am doing so and see if he is hanging around a spot in the yard and that might be his escape spot.  That is, if I have not thwarted him already.  He wore himself out on his unauthorized trek up the lane and has been flopped on the floor in various locations this afternoon.

Last week I caught him trying to open up the hallway gate with his head and shoulders.  I had not tightened the bungee cord across the top enough and there was some play in the gate.  He managed to get a portion of himself between the gate and frame banging it.  I was in the kitchen and he thought I wouldn't see him doing it.  Most times I wouldn't because he quits when he sees me coming around the corner, LOL.  Booger butt!

However, it is time we should BOTH go stretch our legs and I need to check the dryer too.

There you have it---thanks for stopping by to see what I've been up to.

Apr 16, 2016

Charming Boxes tutorial

The original pattern for the quilt shown below is “Split Decisions” from Teacher’s Pet by Deidre K. Brown. I own a copy of it and it calls for using jelly roll strips. You can find online at http://www.the-teachers-pet.com/jellyroll.html. Looking at the picture below, you can see where parts of the block could be strip pieced.

Same block in the end, but another designer calls it “Puzzle Box”. She has you cut up a boat load of rectangles. Now, that would be good for the scrappy quilters amongst us. Christa offers her pattern for free if you sign up for her Friendly Threads newsletter. I have a copy of it too. Her link is http://christaquilts.com/tutorials/ .

One morning it hit me how you could make these blocks using charm squares. Who hasn’t picked some of those up at a quilt shop or Missouri Star at a good price with no particular plan in mind? I sat down and whipped up a couple using my alternate technique. I am calling my version “Charming Boxes”. Here is my recently completed top.

If you are using commercially prepared charm packs, you will need two packs of the focus prints and two of background.  If you want to combine fabrics from all the same product line, buy 4 alike.   The blocks will finish at 8 inches.  With a standard 42 charms per pack, you will get 42 blocks.  Set 5 x 8, the quilt will finish at 40 x 64 without borders.  6 x 7 would be 48 x 56 without borders.  

Ready to get started?

Step 1
For one block, take two matching pairs of background color and two matching pairs contrasting color, medium or dark.  Like you were making a giant 4 patch.   Place right sides together.

On one pair, sew on just one side and press the seam to the darker of the two colors. 

On the other pair, sew your quarter inch seam on BOTH sides of the paired squares.  I don’t know how well the light thread shows up in the picture but I think you get the idea.

Step 2
This is actually the first step for making 4 patches if you refer to the Moda pdf file on their blog for “What Can I Do with a 5 inch Charm Square?”  http://blog.modafabrics.com/funfree/sewing-tips/  click on the image to open the file. 

With your ruler placed on the 2.5 inch mark on the outside edge of the double seamed piece and the seams running vertically, cut it in half.    My picture was taken with the lighter side up but I think you can see what I am trying to tell you by looking at the ruler reading.  

You end up with two sections for the middle of the block section of the block.  Sew them together using a dark light dark light sequence.  
NOTE:  if you are using a directional print, you will have to re-sew the 2nd pair if you don’t want it upside down.   You have to rotate the piece 180 degrees to get the right sequence.  On my top using Beach House fabric, I found I had fish floating belly up and realized what was happening after I had to re-sew a few blocks! 

Once sewn, trim the section down to 4 1/2 inches.  It should measure 8 1/2 inches in length or close to it. Three seams can make for some variance but it will still work.   If the outer light strip is a little wonky it can be “fudged in”  

NOTE:  You could eliminate this step if you like.  The block would not be square when finished but it does not really matter if it is a half inch longer as you do not rotate the blocks horizontally.  As a rule, the blocks are arranged alternating dark row, light row, dark row, etc. though Christa shows a variation on her free pattern you may enjoy.  If the outer light strip is a little wonky it can be “fudged in”

Step 3
Now take the other single seamed piece from step 1. Cut it at the 2 1/2 inch mark on your ruler again though this time in a HORIZONTAL cut.  This will form the top and bottom sections for your block.

Step 4
Sew the sections from Step 3 to the top and bottom creating a light side and dark side of the block.

Step 5
Trim down the block.  I advise reversing the block from this picture and line up the dark half of the block on the mat to the left.  That dark edge is straight where the light side may be a tad wonky with 3 seams that could be a hair off.  On the light side cut it 8.5 inches or whatever your blocks consistently measure.  Any variation on the center of the block can be compensated for if you know the top and bottom sections are cut consistently to size.  

Yes, there is a small amount of fabric wastage but it is minimal.  I found a real time savings with this version as it takes less than 5 minutes to make a block if you finger press and don’t over-pin!  There you have it---another way to make a block that appears the same but with charm packs.

For the quilt top:
Assemble the quilt in rows with blocks on dark side on the left (for however many blocks you wish to make) alternating with rows with the light side on the left side.  See the picture on page 1 for a layout example or better yet, Google "Split Decision quilt" and click on images for all kinds of color inspirations!  Lovely done in batiks or even limited color palettes such as black and white/neutrals are quite striking.

At this point I do not know how to add a printer friendly version to the blog but I DO have a pdf, doc or docx version written up.  Should you want a copy of it, let me know in comments making sure I have your email (some of y'all are no reply bloggers!)  and which version you prefer.

Apr 14, 2016

Round the house

 I have been a busy, busy girl since I last posted.  Yeah, I know some of you have the impression that I am always on the go, and sometimes I am.  I can waste a lot of time online but I sure got a good bit of sewing done this week since my wi-fi was not connected for several days!  More about that in a minute.   It is almost 3:30 in the afternoon as I finish up this post and I still haven't checked email or facebook today--believe it or not!  Well, other than to retrieve a document I emailed to myself from the tablet to the desktop, that is.

I set up my base of operations in the kitchen, even though it is not my first choice.   Mainly, I did not want to take down the old Singer to set the New Home up.  I am going to take this one to the sew-in date and want to complete the project on the same machine.  Also I could keep an eye on the critters.  Often when I am at the kitchen table, Oscar just climbs back in his crate since the door is open.  Skyler takes "the upper bunk".  In fact, that is exactly where they are as I write this.

I have been asked to do a demonstration at the sew-in and I picked my method for making an existing block to share with the group.  Even though one designer (Deidre K. Brown) calls her's Split Decision and another Christa Watson calls her version Puzzle Boxes, both of those use entirely different methods to arrive at the same place.    I know because I own both patterns.   I used charms so I'm calling mine "Charming Boxes."

I had hoped to have at least part of the quilt top together for an example.  This morning I made 4 more blocks just to have a bit more variety.  I was using Beach House by Kate Nelligan for Moda.  One of the fabrics included in the line was stylized waves and it just did not translate well to this block pattern. There went 3 out of the mix.  I need 40 blocks for a donation quilts so 2 were not going to make the cut anyway.  I may stick the extras on the back though so they won't go to waste.   Also there were dupes of the fish net looking one in multiple shadings so it was harder to keep those scattered.  Oh well! Initially I had not wanted to use the buoys but those ended up in the mix.

I holed up in the master bedroom arranging and re-arranging the blocks.  Even after I took the picture, I swapped out a couple more.  I have already told you how I feel about moving one and then moving half a dozen more as a result of that first decision.   I am going to use that orange-y red for the binding and backing so that I added a bit more of.  There is one more row that goes on the bottom but I ran out of flannel backed table cloth.  I probably will try to get at least half the top done once I am done with this post and then pack up the sewing stuff.  I hate this mess and clutter all over the kitchen!

My poor critters are getting short shrift this week.  Here Skyler is trying to get me to feed him his treat bite--he had already had it---and I wasn't paying him much attention, other than to take his picture.  You can see below that he was not straying too far away from his food bowl just in case I saw the light?  LOL.

 I finally buckled down and did the taxes on Saturday--while I still had an operational printer.  Turns out that was a good plan.  I may have mentioned that I was going to upgrade to a new desktop as I also had to upgrade from the old Vista platform.   Chrome was not going to recognize it, Microsoft was probably not going to either or already didn't.  The cable company said my modem was outdated for their increased speeds.  And so on---time to bit the bullet.

Well, Sunday was the day to get those boxes opened up after they had sat in the sewing room for 3 or 4 days.  As if my brain was not fried enough after dealing with the tax forms the day before!!  I got things hooked up fairly easily till I got to the wi-fi connection and the printer.  I could NOT get it hooked up.  I could not find the disc for my printer and it is old as well. Now what?  I figures too that I had just gotten new ink cartridges for the old one.  Had to in order to send in those tax forms and have copies for my files.

 I got on the phone with Dell support on Sunday evening after trying and failing.  With the help of the CSR, we picked out a new router and printer.  The router is the same brand as my modem so maybe they would talk to each other better.  The printer is wireless though it would not have had to be.  The price was good.  Those arrived yesterday afternoon.

Oscar has spent a good bit of time outside lately.   I have not actually had to make him go out either.  Sometimes he doesn't want to come back in necessarily but I know he needs to eat or drink.   He has fresh water but doesn't always drink from it.  He gets in and wants out and vice versa.

I had Belles on Tuesday so he HAD to go out even though rain threatened.  We broke up early with just 4 of us there.  I was working on my blocks.  Jane was helping Beverly and Lois pin their tops.  Lois and Jane left soon after.  I waited with Beverly till her husband came to take her too lunch.  Jack invited me to go with them but I declined so I could go rescue my poor pooch.  I think we had 1.5 of rain overnight Tuesday but he did not get caught in it.

Wednesday was super busy!  I stayed home from walking and got up at 6:30 which was probably a good thing.  3 loads of laundry, grocery errands, other errands, sewing blocks ( I did get done with the numbers required for the top!)  The Fed Ex guy arrived in the lane just as I was getting back from lunch and the grocery errands.  LOL, I was at the mail box in the car when he was coming up the lane from the other end of the loop and he needed in my drive after I pulled in.  He had the printer and router and asked where I wanted them.  I said there by the door was okay but he said, "I can take them inside for you if you want".  Sure!  "Put them on the kitchen table--oops!  Forgot about the sewing machine and all that mess."   He carried them to the living room and I took it from there.    Not too much problems with the hookups but I will have to see what I need to do yet to print wirelessly.  Either I have a "dumbphone" or it is operator error.  Must have missed a step or don't understand what I am to do exactly.  It works fine even though I did have to email myself the revised copy of the handout once I finished tweaking it.  I've been doing that for months anyway.

I was happy when the neighbor's son Paul met me in the lane on his way to pick up some sub sandwiches.  He said his mom would only eat half of hers and to come on over if I wanted to share it with her.  Good food and good company.  After the day I had, I didn't have much energy to want to do much more than throw some yogurt in a bowl.   Crashed and burned once I went to bed too with only a wakeful time around 3:30.  Once I got back to sleep, next thing I knew it was 8:30!  Surprised Oscar wasn't barking or Skyler meowing to get back in the room.  Oscar some mornings is not ready to get up and doesn't even if the door to the crate is open.  Today he almost knocked me down trying to get out to potty!

I DO intend to share the tutorial for my method here on the blog but after the sew-in. Rather than print off umpteen copies of a 6 page document, I will take email addy's for the group or they can look at the instructions here.  Some do not do email or facebook so they can have the few copies I did run.  That was more or less practice to see how the printer software worked anyway!

I had thought about making cookies to take tomorrow but I couldn't decide between Pride of Iowa oatmeal cookies or my favorite, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut.  I will eat more than I should of either of them so they have to be shared.   Also the day is half over, I'm already tired and still want to sew at least half of this quilt top together.   The only other thing I think bake at this point is Apple Butter Bread from Sweet Pea's Kitchen but that's mostly since I just opened a big jar of the stuff when I didn't have any jelly for PBJ the other day, LOL.  I'm out of the notion of wanting to cook anyway short of something for supper.  I told Paul I would make some potato salad for the A game viewing I am invited to attend to go with the burgers he is going to grill.  I was talking with his mom (my neighbor) about the menu before I sat down to write this.  Paul gets the Alabama games on his sports package and invites 4 or 5 others to come watch it.

I know I am all over the map with this post.  I know what I meant even if I have you totally confused.  That's what kind of week it has been--don't know if I am coming or going!  Break over and back to the blocks as I replace one machine for another.   Then I MUST unload the dishwasher from two days ago and re-load.   No knives left in the silverware drawer, after all.

Apr 6, 2016

Checking in

The trouble with posting every 7 days or so is that I tend to forget what I have been up to, LOL. Not much sewing but some baking this past Friday. Apricot Cheese Loaf with some homemade pineapple cream cheese spread (shared that and rest in the freezer), Pumpkin Muffins for the freezer and then I tried a new to me Cheese Bread recipe and added a secret ingredient to it. I thought it tasted a tad salty but my neighbor loved it! She stopped me an hour or so ago when I was walking Oscar and said she wanted the two breads recipe, the sweet and the savory. I've got those ready to deliver then next trip up the lane.  The savory bread went with my "souped up" version of Zuppa Toscana which I had also shared with her.

As a matter of fact, I'm baking something right now.  I've got a guild meeting tomorrow and I'm trying Christy Jordan of Southern Plate fame's recipe for Samoa Brownies.  The brownie crust is in the oven now and then I'll toast the coconut while the oven is still hot.  Smelling yummy at my house.  See, I want to try this tempting recipe but I don't want to have it around the house as I WILL eat it.  No will power.  I just want a taste!  If I share it at guild for treats hopefully the ladies will try it and I won't come home with a lot.  Miss Kathryn said I better sneak her some when her son is not visiting (diabetic).

Saturday I was doing a load of towels (and both my aprons!) and the start knob busted off.  I was able to finish up the load by turning the stub with a pair of pliers but Paul offered to take a look at it.  He is a retired machinist and he knew more about it than I did!  He knew who to call for the parts and we picked it up on the way out to dinner.  (Dinner was planned.--he and his mom had both invited me to come along with them a few days before.)  The fellow at the shop was not actually opened but he answered the phone, quoted me a price and said he would stay there till we could get to the shop.  Paul told his Mama that he was flirting with me and he might have been, LOL but he still did us a favor.  I didn't get it fixed, a 10 minute job till Monday but that was okay.

The next morning when I got up I thought I smelled gas in the kitchen area.  I called the Alagasco leak line and someone was out within 15 minutes time, right after I shooed Oscar outside and thought about getting out the cat carrier.   Thankfully, his detector didn't register and the soap test on the flex line didn't show any bubbling.  We had pulled the dryer out from the wall but were careful pushing it back.  He checked the stove and water heater as well.  No apparent problem.

I had told Paul I would help him fill out his disability papers since he was stressing out about it.  8 pages of questions!  This was a big chunk of Sunday afternoon and evening.   I knew from my nursing background what they were getting at with some of the queries and made few quantitative suggestions and/or clarifications.  Hopefully this will smooth they way for him.  His friend Carolyn waited so patiently while we worked on the forms, cleaned house, worked outside a bit.  We finally took a break, went up to Jacksonville for BBQ and then finished up over at my house.

Today my mission was to get the backyard flood light's bulbs changed.  I only turn it on when Oscar goes out there after dark to do his potties but they both went out at the same time.  Paul offered to help me but he has even less reason to be up on a ladder than I do.  Robert had just mowed and weed whacked and unbeknownst to me was doing some bush trimming.  He saw me with the ladder and I could not quite reach it because there is a needle tipped holly bush right under it.  I got the metal extension one out.  He found that the tip was still stuck in the socket on one of them---I shut off the circuit breaker and handed him the needle nose pliers and then went off to get some bulbs.  Meantime next door they were cutting down the half dead tree between the lots.  Only parts of it were down when I left but they had a bucket truck, a couple chain saws and a 4 man crew.  By the time I got back they were gone.  I got one bulb in myself but asked Robert to do the other one.   He wasn't afraid to go up one more step while I would have needed a spotter!  That job is done and I hope all the weird home stuff is done for now.  My first reaction is always "what am I gonna do now?  Why didn't I pay more attention to what DJ was doing or find out who he called?"

I am preparing to replace my desktop computer.  Now that Google and Microsoft are not supporting Windows Vista it is probably time.  I've had it for 8 years--as long as I have had Skyler actually.  The computer died right around the same time that Pippi, his predecessor did.  At the time we were getting the flooring put down in the kitchen and I had to wait till that job was done before we could bring a new fur baby into the house.  Oscar's 2 year with anniversary is coming up on the 10th.    Here are my two little boys recently.

oh I was talking about the computer.  I was backing up the files I want to move and figured the best way was to re-format the external hard drive I had been using for the monthly backup files.  That took hours but then it was a tb hard drive!!  My documents, files, photos, recipes, EQ quilt projects were just a drop in the bucket in comparison.   I still need to file my taxes and I need to be sure my printer is working so I will wait to do any switching out till that is done.  LOL, I've been trying all week.  Need print ink, got the wrong cartridges, go back get the right ones, pick up another external hard drive.  In addition the cable company says I need to upgrade my modem.  I've had the thing for a month and couldn't work up the ambition to go swap it out.  This is not like me to not dive in with electronics but I'm afraid I'll mess it up somehow and that means, no phone or internet access till I muddle through.  Cut off!  Hopefully, I can approach this some day when I have plenty of time to read and follow the instructions and the frustration level and my knees are up to the task.

I did get some sewing done--not much but some.  I only had to join the sections on the large one as I had done the sewing a few days back.  The other one, I went to the evening sewing group and sewed it up there.  I better have gotten them done since those two blocks for the sew-in have to be turned in tomorrow!!  This is the original version in my friendship quilt that Veronica quilted so beautifully.  There is an identical block up in the left corner of the photo.  V doesn't remember the name of the block so I'm just calling it "Woven Star".

This is my guy's version on the left, spring version on the right----DUH!! 

I had the sections of the big one done several days ago.  That's when I took Oscar's picture.  He was being so good about letting me go in a sew and he just napped in his little bed on the couch.  Skyler looks like he is behaving in that same interval but he had been up on the sewing table, too close to the rotary cutter and iron again.  This morning, same thing.  I was trying to figure out how many blocks one might get from a project I am to share with the sew-in bunch next week.  I was pairing the sections and he kept trying to set on the charm packs!   I know he wanted me to feed him--we both were up waaaaaaay too early but I guess he thought I would tend to his needs sooner if he kept right in my work space, LOL.  He waited because I knew he would be begging an hour later, like I would forget and give him more!

My sister Jan, daughter Amber and her little son Wyatt are in Illinois right now visiting my parents.  Today is actually my dad's birthday so they are helping him celebrate.  Auntie Randi came down from college in Chicago to see them on Sunday and naturally there are some pictures.  I want to share this one with you as you can see how big Wyatt has gotten.  20 oz at birth and now he is growing up, at 9 months old.   I think he favors his mama but she thinks he looks more like her husband.

Lily is doing well in her recovery.  Her nana was saying how hard it is to keep a toddler down.  Mom reported that she was pushing her little shopping cart with just a little hitch in her "get-along".  Praise be to God, that these two are doing so well.

Okay, if the brownie layer has cooled enough I need to get back to my dessert.  The coconut got toasted and the caramel stuff thinned and blended between paragraphs.  I don't know what I'm going to do about supper yet--probably salad!  No brownie sampling till the stuff sets up.

Hope you have had a good day and thanks for stopping by----------till next time.