Farmer's Wife 1930's QAL: Mrs. Lloyd

Kerry of verykerryberry is smart and knows I have a little thing for samplers.  My first Farmer's Wife quilt (based on letters from the 1920's) is still in the hand quilting process.  My Farmer's Wife Pony Club blocks should make an appearance on my sewing table again soon, and just this last week I worked on my Gypsy Wife Sampler.  How could I ever resist the 1930's Farmer's Wife book?  Obviously I could not.

Jay McCarrol's Habitat City Planning in teal
Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Jewel and Paprika.

Kerry asked me to post my version of a block last February.  At that time, I decided to make this quilt with vivid color in a single value.  After making that first block, I pored over my stash to find prints from my stash that could work.  Then I dug through my solids color cards for Kona and Michael Miller Cotton Couture and ordered all of the vivid solids in that value. 

At the DCMQG guild meeting this weekend I cut and pieced a few different sampler blocks. 

 My first version of Mrs. Lloyd




For the Mrs. Lloyd block, I didn't do anything fancy with the piecing.  I measured the templates to cut the squares and pieced them.  For the flying geese portions of the block I used the rectangle and two squares method to make them.  I did use a lot of starch because starch is my best friend when it comes to precision piecing.  As I mentioned in previous posts, Michael Miller Cotton Couture and starch don't always get along.  I used a liberal amount of liquid starch on the fabrics before cutting.  Then after piecing I only used a spray bottle with a mix of vodka water to get crisp pressing of seams.

It turns out that I'm not loving the single value and vivid color look in fabric combinations other than my original three.  I'm not sure why. 

Some experiments are good to stick with and follow through to the end.  And some are not.  I remade the Mrs. Lloyd block with my original fabrics. Now I'm changing my sampler plan to using only three fabrics. (!!!)  If you know me at all, limiting my palette to three is crazy hard.  I think this could be a fun new experiment.  Eventually I hope to share more about it here.

If you haven't started the Farmer's Wife 1930's Quilt Along, join in now!  I only have two blocks done so it won't take long to catch up to me!  Don't forget to tag your Farmer's Wife blocks on Instagram with the hashtag #fw1930sqal, and tell me about your sewing experiments in the comments. 

Farmer's Wife 1930's QAL: Grandma

Kerry of verykerryberry knows my weakness for samplers.  My first Farmer's Wife quilt (based on letters from the 1920's) is still in the hand quilting process.  My Farmer's Wife Pony Club blocks are packed for our move later this month, as is my in-process Gypsy Wife Sampler.  So, why not start a new sampler?

Last summer, Kerry was kind enough to invite me to blog for her quilt along.  She started sewing and blogging her blocks in September.  For five whole months, I've been meaning to join in, but I was stuck on a fabric theme.  Soooooo stuck, epic, quicksand stuck.  What would make this sampler new for me?

I finally figured it out four stinkin' days ago.  Based on an inspiring instagram photo from Monica of mountainofthedragon,  I decided to use vivid colors with very little value difference.

Jay McCarrol's Habitat City Planning in teal
Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Jewel and Paprika.

Value is determined by how light or dark a color is in grayscale--baby blue vs. navy, pink vs. burgundy, peach vs. dark orange.  When there are many colors in a quilt, you can look at a black and white picture of the fabrics to help determine if you need more value changes in your fabric selection.  In my sewing, I tend to choose a lot of medium value fabrics and need to push myself to add lights and darks.  In sampler blocks, it is generally accepted that using a mix of light, medium and dark fabrics helps highlight the piecing and design of the blocks.

This time, I decided to ignore that advice and am using a single value.  I'm really excited about this experiment. Check out this black and white picture of the three fabrics I chose for this block:

I have a thing for starch in my sampler blocks.  Frequent starching allowed me to use templates to piece nearly all of my first Farmer's Wife quilt blocks.  Some previous FW and Pony Club blocks were so stiff they could nearly stand on edge.  However, I have found that the Michael Miller Cotton Couture does not play nicely with repeated starching when pressing.  The fabric is fine and smooth, doesn't accept starch well and tends to bubble up along seam lines.  I decided to starch my fabrics just once and then paper piece this block.  That allowed the fabric to play nicely yet gave me a smooth finished block

I precut my fabrics for paper piecing by tracing the triangles a little bit bigger and then measuring the bigger size square to cut them from.  I colored the paper piecing directions, too.  It's a good thing I did because I still had to start over with section A once and B twice!  I guess I'm out of practice with paper piecing. 

So, this first 1930's Farmer's Wife block was a long time coming, but I think it was worth the wait.

Tag your Farmer's Wife blocks on Instagram with the hashtag #fw1930sqal, and tell me about your sewing adventures in value in the comments. 

100 Quilts for Kids

Hey there! Welcome to my first blog post (here) for 2015!  I've been busy as the DC Modern Quilt Guild president this year and have been blogging over there.  But now I'm back for a post about 100 Quilts for Kids.

I made four quilts for the quilt drive this year.  My guild is donating all that we collect to kids at the DC General Homeless Shelter.  That shelter has about 600 children on average.  After reading that, I've had those kids and charity quilts on the brain for two months straight. 

The first collaborative quilt has blocks made at the Denyse Schmidt workshop that the DCMQG hosted in June.  Attendees gave me two blocks each, I added a few more from my stash and Cathy added a bunch more.  My guild friend, Jamie, did the quilting and another friend, Anjeanette, stitched the binding down.  I adore the colors and movement in this quilt and it will be missed the most.

Last one. #100quilts4kids #dcmqgcharity collaborative effort with blocks by @dcmqg members, especially @cbmauro, piecing by me, quilting by @beacraftygirl and binding by @anjeanetteklinder. Most blocks made at a workshop with @dsquilts. This toddler quilt

Next up is another quilt made from blocks from the DS workshop.  Again, I added a few more from my stash and Cathy's friend, Stella, added all of the blocks she made at a similar workshop.  Jamie did the quilting and Cassandra stitched the binding down.  This quilt has a Cotton + Steel metallic Netorious print as binding and that extra bit of bling was a perfect addition.

#100quilts4kids #dcmqgcharity group effort quilt with blocks by @dcmqg members and @eustella, pieced by me, quilted by @beacraftygirl, and binding sewn by @pilarandolivia. Oh! And class for the quilt blocks taught by @dsquilts! This will be donated to the

When my friend, Alyson, was over for a sewing day in August she helped me arrange some guild orphan blocks into a quilt top.  Three of these blocks were ones I received back in my days in the 3x6 Bee.  The rest were blocks donated by other members.  I love how they all fit perfectly with the other blocks in this quilt.  Again, Jamie did the beautiful quilting and guild friend, Cindy, stitched the binding down.

It's been so dreary and rainy here for days and that weather will continue, so this semi blurry pic will have to do. Finished orphan block quilt for #dcmqgcharity #100quilts4kids. Quilting by the lovely @beacraftygirl, hand stitched binding by the equally

This last quilt was made entirely by me, but the quilting was made possible by Anjeanette.  She has a midarm machine and she let me come over and play last month.  The "back" of this quilt is a zoo print, so I quilted the "front" with names of zoo animals done in cursive across the quilt.  I've always wanted to do word quilting, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it out. This quilt was SUPER hard to photograph so you'll have to trust me that the print and the yellow solid are much prettier in person. 

A better pic of the quilting.

So that's what is up with me lately.  What is happening with you?  Or what have you been up to in the past nine or ten months since I blogged?  Do you belong to a guild?  Do you make any charity quilts?  I'd love to read about it.

Hand Quilting Video

I took a series of short videos of my hand quilting last year and posted them on Instagram.  Content on Instagram moves quickly, though, so I also took one longer video to post here on the blog.  It only took me about a year upload it...

In this video you can see how I start a line of quilting.  I always quilt from right to left but I pop the knot and tail of my thread on the left and then my first few stitches stabilize that thread tail and knot from popping back out.  I use both hands to produce the stitches.  Even though I'm right handed, my left hand helps produce each stitch by moving the quilt up and down. 

If you have any further questions, leave them in the comments.  I will email you back.  If you don't have an email address linked to your account, please leave the address in your comment.

I hope you are enjoying your December crafting time. I'll be machine quilting tonight on a project that I hope to show you early in January.

My favorite poem

Pray for Peace  by Ellen Bass

Pray to whomever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or marble or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the Bo tree in scorching heat,
Adonai, Allah. Raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekinah, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.

Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, Record Keeper
of time before, time now, time ahead, pray. Bow down
to terriers and shepherds and Siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.

Pray to the bus driver who takes you to work,
pray on the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus
and for everyone riding buses all over the world.
If you haven't been on a bus in a long time,
climb the few steps, drop some silver and pray.

Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latte and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.

Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.

Making love, of course, is already a prayer.
Skin and open mouths worshiping that skin,
the fragile case we are poured into,
each caress a season of peace.

If you're hungry, pray. If your tired.

Pray to Ghandi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.
Pray to the angels and the ghost of your grandfather.

When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else's legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheelchair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer that as the earth revolves
we will do less harm, less harm, less harm.

And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail,
or delivering soda, or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas, pray for peace.

With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.

Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds for peace, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.

Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your Visa card. Gnaw your crust
of prayer, scoop your prayer water from the gutter.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.  

Hard to give away

Henry went off to his first day of school for this year, so I thought I'd try blogging again.  I'm behind on everything around the house, but why not procrastinate a little bit longer?

I have drastically cut back on my sewing bees and swaps--because I'm low on sewing time, my WIP's keep piling up, but mostly because it is stressful to sew for other people and equally stressful to send it away in the mail after working so hard on it.  Recently I saw the ice cream swap on instagram and I thought I'd give swaps another try.

The ice cream block comes from the 318 Patchwork Patterns book by Kumiko Fujita.  This book was recently release again in English and is for sale at the link (and I have no ties with the vendor).  I have loved that ice cream block since I first saw Penny's block (back in 2010!) and now I've finally made one.

ice cream pencil case swap

I used a bag construction technique found in a Suzuko Koseki book but then changed the dimensions to suit the pencil bag I wanted to make.  You quilt the front and back panels but use a separate lining and then you quilt a zipper gusset with the lining fabric.  Then when the gusset is sewn into the bag there are exposed seam allowances. 

 seam allowances unfinished

Then you stitch binding tape above the seam allowance by hand and then stitch it by hand again below the seam allowance but without wrapping the seam allowance.  This way the seam allowance is tucked down and that gives the bag more shape while making the inside cleaner. 

seam allowances finished

Here is a picture of the quilted gusset.


The finished zipper gusset,

gusset zipper

and the finished bag.  Yet again, I love the finished product so much that I really didn't want to send it off in the mail.  I'll probably be taking another break from swaps.  Call me selfish, but I don't seem to find time to make cute ice cream bags to stay here at home and I'll never will if I keep signing up for more swaps.

finished pencil case