Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Diary of a Quilter - a quilt blog: Hour Glass Block tutorial

Now, in following the thoughts of this post, you have to realize that I am a "newbie" at this quilt making and need many teachers and demonstrators to help me along this path!
I began following some Quilter's Blogs only a couple of years ago, made a few Shop Hops with some girlfriends, visited my favorite neighborhood shops, and watched several tutorials as I plodded along, learning this wonderful hobby!
With that straightened out, let me continue this journal entry...

Northern Cardinal by Holly Taylor MODA
As expected, my sister is on to her second attempt in Quilt making!
She agreed to stay longer with me to help me with our elderly Dad, so on Saturday, we ventured out to shop for a couple hours at MSQC. She found the displayed Northern Cardinal Quilt irresistible and before I knew it, she was asking Jenny to measure fabrics at the famous tutorial place: "Jenny's Cutting Board"!
My sister even took a photo while Jenny held the quilt out, so that we can study it on the computer and learn from Jenny how to make a beautiful quilt!

Learning to Square blocks
Yesterday, my sister took her first steps of making Hour Glass Blocks from her Layer Cake. It is so fun to have someone to teach that cares about straight seams, pressed and squared as much as you do! She is fascinated with the 45 degree line and how to know you have a perfectly squared block when your project is completed.
Knowing she would need to pack her newly acquired knowledge in her home-bound suitcase for future references, I jumped on my computer to look for a tutorial on Hour Glass Blocks.
I found this link with awesome clear directions. Diary of a Quilter - a quilt blog: Hour Glass Block tutorial
This gave me the ability to show my sister what I was demonstrating in actual squaring her hour glass blocks.

Perfectly Squared 
I clicked FOLLOW immediately, but also am posting this link for future references. Thank you for taking the time to journal your hobby, Amy. I will enjoy many hours of reading your blog and probably become an avid follower. I have so much to learn and appreciate all those who willingly give up valuable quilting time to record their footsteps where newbies can follow!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Catching the Threads of Quilting...

Spray Basting
A continuing thread for the progress in learning to quilt...
Can you say "proud of a job well done?"
Well, I am.
Learning to "sandwich" 
My sister has taken the learning process of quilting very seriously and done a terrific piece of work. Each step was shown slowly and carefully, then, I stepped back and watched her take ownership. At each turning point, we stepped back to admire the progress.
Finally ready to sandwich the designed front piece to the matching brown backing, I decided a shortcut for basting was in order. We joined the ladies' "First Friday's Sew N Share" group at my church and enlisted a better quilter than I, my friend Jan, to help me show my sis how to sandwich and baste with spray glue.

Quilted front of pillow cover
Finished pillow cover
With left over fabric pieces, she made a pillow top cover, and I suggested she practice her quilting on the smaller piece first. She decided to do a "stitch in the ditch" encompassing each colorful 4-square. Then, she chose one of my stencils for a running design down the borders. She traced that design onto the front panel with a CLOVER white tracing pencil.
As a side note, this white marking pen darkens with time, which helps immensely with the time it takes for larger projects, yet it disappears with the touch of a hot iron.
Tackling the big one!

Finally, with a big intake of breath and a slight nervousness, she began to quilt! At the lowest speed, the needle chugged along one stitch at a time. Not sure of herself, she took occasional glances of the back side which added a smile to the job.  It didn't take her long to realize that she would have to often trek off to the ironing board to iron out wrinkles caused by the tugging and pulling under the short arm. But even those times gave us chances for quick admiration of the progress.

Almost finished...
One week later, the "almost completed" lies across her bed and a proud resolve has settled in for a weekend rest from sewing. I am so pleased that my first attempt at teaching her my love for quilting has come to such a beautiful display of her diligent work.

Stitching threads for quilting are determined to finish and have a wonderful quilt and pillow cover packed in a suitcase when our time together is complete.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Quilting Eases Tears

Oh, dear! It is April and the year is disappearing while my list of "to do" remains just as long! 
Because of the health needs my elderly Dad demands on me, every day vaporizes with wishes of accomplishing more, yet in defeat and fatigue. 
The first week of March, Dad collapsed to what I call a lower leveled step in health. He lost his ability to speak, walk, and hold his walker. I began 24/7 care, dosing in his recliner by the side of his bed. Many hours in the soft darkness I wondered if this was the last hour of his life, but each time he awoke, I coached his motor skills to return step-by-step. 
By the 6th day without much needed sleep, I admitted a desperate need for help via a phone conversation with my eldest sister. Recently retired, enabled both her husband and she to arrive a couple days later, ready to bless both Dad and me. 
A month has passed, and just the laughter and conversations have lifted my spirit and revived my resolve to finish strong in Elder Care. In the meantime, Dad has regained a weakened strength and is able to communicate, walk, and help himself with necessary chores.
Learning precision matters
Loving my Janome's 1/4" foot!
During our quiet hours, I've been able to share with my sister my love for quilting. We began with the 1/2 sq triangle square, showing her the short-cut of drawing a diagonal line in each pair of squares, sewing 1/4" seam on either side of the line, and then, cutting on the line to make her triangle. She fell in love with my tools, learned precision of measuring, cutting, and seams. Pressing toward the darker fabric was also a new concept. Within the last year, she had purchased the same Janome model, but was thrilled to learn that it came with the 1/4" foot attachment which helped her make her seams precise.

Finished 8" blocks
She thought it would take years to make the quilt in her imagination, so, I cannot explain her pleasure as she gazes on her finished quilt front. Within a couple of days, she had quite an assortment of 8" blocks to display on my LR carpet.

So proud with accomplishment
Sitting on the carpet, marveling at how much she had accomplished, she called a quilter girlfriend! "I'm sitting here looking at my first blocks!" she exclaimed so proudly. I beamed in the background because she was such an easy student! 
Warm Chocolate Brown border 4 blocks 
We chose to soften the colors with a warm chocolate brown framing each 16" square. It make quite a difference in the appearance and much more pleasing to their taste of fabric! 
Backing with the same warm brown 
She just finished her first quilt front and is ready to add batting and the warm chocolate brown for a backing and bias. I think in a few weeks, she'll be thrilled to carry home her beautiful dream of a quilt!  
In the meantime, Dad is resting quietly, loving her massaging hands on his pained legs and shoulders. Her companionship has been such a blessing, and oh! I must quickly write another post about all the wonderful little chores her husband accomplished around our house. It surpasses 'Amazing!'!!!
Through it all, we've learned the lightness of spirit that quilting can bring to heavy hearts as we worked together to create beauty.