Maud Humphrey

Maud Humphrey

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Quilt Progress and Other News

Here is the progress on my quilt top so far:

I love the way all the colors look together.  There was another pink which I had initially used in five of the blocks, but when I started assembling the top, I just didn't like how they looked.  Too pink.  They stuck out like a sore thumb.  So I ripped them all out and replaced that pink with a pale blue scattered with small roses.  Much better.
As I started assembling the top, I realized that I didn't already have every fabric I needed in my stash.  (Hard to believe, right?!)    So in addition to having to buy the batting, I also had to get a few yards for the border.  I chose the beautiful, light blue fabric with rose bouquets above.
I am still contemplating how I'm going to put this whole thing together.  I was thinking about quilting the top and side borders separately, and then attaching them after everything has been quilted.  I also want to scallop the border edges.  The logistics of how all this can work out is still stumping me, so I just keep looking at my pretty quilt top and envisioning how it will finally look.  Hopefully, I will come up a solution soon!  I could just assemble the entire quilt top and borders as one piece and the machine quilt them as usual, but I was trying to come up with a way to avoid having all that fabric bunched around/over/under my sewing machine.  I have still not forgotten what I went through to make my son and daughter-in-law's quilt last summer, and I'd love to find an easier way.
Here it is, hanging out on the line.  I was having a hard time getting a photo, since it is a windy day, and it kept wanting to spin around.  So far, it measures approximately 71" wide by 82" long.  But because we have a deep, pillow top mattress, I'm going to add an extra 10" border along all sides so that it'll cover the mattress when it's on our bed.    I just love how quilts look like stained glass windows when they are back-lit.
In other news, we have started looking for our new home.  We have been renting for the past 8 1/2 years, and are ready to become homeowners again.  In this time frame, we have moved out of state twice, only to discover that "there's no place like home". Why we ever thought that moving across the country, away from friends and family and the only place my husband and I have ever known is beyond me.  I guess we'll just chalk that up to a "learning experience".  What we do know is that barring an unforeseen event, we NEVER plan on moving far away again.  This is where we belong.   We currently live in the suburbs, but long for a little bit space in the country.  We used to live on five acres and I miss it so much.  I am a country girl through and through.
So here is a little piece of heaven we found this past weekend.  5 acres of gently sloping and wooded land about 45 minutes away from where we currently live.  It was so quiet...all we heard (besides our children's excited voices!) was the wind rustling through the trees.
Since most of it is wooded, we would have to do a bunch of clearing, at least a couple of acres worth.  This can be a big expense, but since the property already has a well installed, it kind of evens out.  We found elk tracks in the dirt!
One of the best things about this property is that it is almost at the end of a long, paved road ending in a cul-de-sac.    I can just see all my kids having a blast riding their bikes and scooters without having to worry about traffic.
We are taking another look at it this weekend, along with talking to a home builder which can hopefully finance us.  I'm so excited.  I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much, because a lot of things could still happen.  Maybe somebody else will buy this property before we get the chance.  Or maybe we won't be able to get financing after all.  We have just started this wonderful, anxiety-ridden journey, and who knows what's in store for us?  If not this piece of land, then I'm sure God has something better for us right around the corner.
And last but not least, here are the two feline members of our family, Delilah and Bunny.  Bunny was rescued from the animal shelter a couple of months ago.  She is a total lap cat and loves to snuggle.  Delilah, on the other hand, is NOT.  She prefers to be left alone, and only occasionally shows some affection towards us when she's hungry.  So it was pretty rare to get a photo of the two of them together.  They don't hate each other; rather, it's more of a polite tolerance with a sprinkling of affection thrown in here and there.
Tomorrow is Friday, which means the weekend is almost here.  And since it's a long weekend, we'll have one, extra day to play and enjoy daddy's company.  I have a doll show lined up for Saturday, as well as looking at the property again.  Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, August 24, 2012

A New Project...

I want to make this quilt:
It is from this book:
Last summer, my daughter-in-law requested a queen-sized quilt for her new bed.  And because I like to quilt, I eagerly agreed.  We visited the fabric store and she picked out the main fabric and a flannel for the back--everything else came from my stash.  I started that quilt with great enthusiasm, and admired it's beauty when I had the top completely pieced together.  But then it came time to sandwich all four layers together (yes, I said four layers, because I decided to use two layers of cotton batting for extra warmth), and I almost cried.  Trying to machine quilt a queen-sized quilt with four layers on a standard sewing machine was one of the most difficult and frustrating things I had ever tried.  But I did it.  And when it was done, it was a thing of beauty.  But I never wanted to sew another quilt again for a very long time.  Now, since finishing son #4's quilt, I have once again been inspired to sew a quilt for my bed.  I bought the fabric ages ago and set it aside, waiting for the perfect time.  Well, I think that time has finally come.  I am ready once again to wrestle copious amounts of fabric under a machine not meant for that purpose.  But I know it can be done!
Here is the fabric.  The rose print will be the main blocks, and the other fabrics will make up the rest of the quilt.  Again, every single one of these fabrics comes from my stash/hoard.  I even have the flannel for the back. The only thing I don't have is the cotton batting.   One of these days, I will take a picture of my attic space where I keep all my fabric boxes so you can get a visual of just how much fabric I really have.  It's a little bit embarrassing.  Which is why I have severely restricted myself on bringing in any new fabric, and am focusing on using up as much as possible of what I already own.  Even my daughter has been visiting my fabric boxes quite frequently, making quilts and tote bags and headbands.  Yet my boxes are still full to overflowing!
I have started cutting the bazillion pieces needed, and hopefully will start assembling some blocks by this evening.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quilts and Pillowcases

When I taught myself how to piece a quilt over 15 years ago, I made it my goal to create a personal-sized quilt for each of my children.  A quilt they could drag around, cuddle up in, take on long car rides, or just keep on their beds for extra warmth.
Son #4 has been asking when I would make his quilt, ever since I completed son #5's quilt back in December.  He complained many times that he didn't think it was fair that his younger brother got a quilt before him.  He was right.  And I didn't really have a good answer for him, except that I really liked the fabric I had picked out for his younger brother, so that's the one I was excited to make first.
Anyway, I finally got the urge this past week to start on his quilt.  And it just so happened to be on one of the hottest days we've had this summer--over 100 degrees.  And my sewing room happens to be in the one part of the house that doesn't have air-conditioning.  Yeah.  I don't know what I was thinking.  There was lots of sweating.   But once I got started on it, I couldn't stop.  The colors all came together beautifully.  It's hard to tell from the pictures, but the light colored center block has a wild west/cowboy theme.  The pattern is from the July 2003 issue of THE QUILTER, and it's called Garden Steps.  I added more squares so that it would end up the size I wanted--approximately 4 1/2 x 6 1/2 feet.  Like all of my quilts, it is backed in a cozy flannel for extra warmth, and this one also has two layers of cotton batting.  It is machine quilted in diagonal rows, and most importantly, every single piece of fabric for this project came from my stash. 
I had just enough fabric left over to make a matching pillowcase.  Here it is, hanging up against the back side of the quilt.
And while we're on the topic, here's the quilt I made for son #5 back in December.  I used a pattern from the book, BLENDED QUILTS II, by Marsha McCloskey.  It also has a cowboy/wild west theme.  The cowboy print is on a beautiful, blue background, and the fabric strips along the edges have tiny horse heads on the them.  Too cute.
Another matching pillowcase against the flannel back of son #5's quilt.
This is son #3's quilt--one of the very first quilts I ever made.  It's a very simple pattern from the book MORE QUILTS FOR BABY by Ursula Raikes.  I pretty much learned how to quilt from this book.   I quilted it by stitching "in the ditch".  I remember how proud I was when it was finally completed.  I'm almost embarrassed now by how simple it looks, but my son loves it.  LOVES IT.  He has used it nearly everyday for 13 years, and it shows.  The binding is threadbare, and there are many holes scattered throughout the quilt.  I have offered to make him a new quilt, a more grown-up pattern, but he won't hear of it.  I suggested that we could use this quilt as the batting in a new quilt, but he only stared at me in horror.  I guess I should feel good that this 18 year old son of mine has such a fondness for the fabrics that I pieced together for him when he was only five.  This quilt has been pieces.  So now I've been re-evaluating it, thinking about how I can give it some new life which will still meet my son's approval.  Perhaps a new flannel backing, binding, and some patches to the holes?  Hmm, now that I'm thinking of it,  I might have better luck with this conservation project when he's not around!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

McCall's 5292--A New Dress for Me

When we got home from church this evening, I remembered that I had not yet posted about this dress.  So I quickly handed my daughter the camera and we managed to get a few decent shots before the light was totally gone.  I'm hating that it's getting darker earlier and earlier again!  Didn't summer just start?  I'm not ready for fall yet, even though my calendar keeps reminding me that school starts up again in a just a few short weeks.  Anyway, on to the dress...

I've had this pattern in my stash for quite a while now.  I always thought it was cute, but for some reason, I never made it until now.  I'm so glad I did!  I wore it to an outdoor wedding last night, and to church today.   I love the way it turned out, although there are some definite changes I had to make in order for it to fit me correctly.

I decided on view C.  First, I cut a mock bodice in the size indicated on the back of the envelope, according to my measurements.  This happened to be a size 18.  However, it turned out HUGE!  I immediately assessed the situation and determined that I needed to cut two different sizes--a size 12 for the upper bodice, and a size 16 at the waist.  Now, the fit in the bodice was fine, but the neckline was still much too wide, and the straps were too narrow for my liking and kept falling off my shoulders.  So the biggest change I made to this pattern was widening the shoulder straps and moving them over a bit.  In retrospect, I wish I would have moved them over even farther, because they still tend to want to slide off my shoulders a bit.  And my bra straps always want to peek out in the back.  I hate this!  So in the meanwhile, I correct this problem with safety pins, but I've been busily thinking about other ways to permanently fix this.

In this back view, you can easily see how close the straps sit to the edge of my shoulders.  If I make this dress again (and I probably will), I will definitely move them further in. 

Even with the strap issues, I really do love this dress.  I used a quilter's cotton by Robert Kaufman called "Flower Shop, and I lined the entire dress with a 100% cotton Ralph Lauren sheet that I picked up at Goodwill for a few dollars.  Re-purposed sheets are wonderful for sewing projects, and so much cheaper than buying comparable fabric off the bolt.  I LOVE lining the skirts of my dresses--they just hang so much nicer, and you don't have to worry about wearing a slip.

And speaking of weddings (I DID mention that we went to a wedding yesterday, didn't I?) here's a picture of my little flower girl in action.  We couldn't have asked for a better performance.  Of course, being that she's only three, I didn't think it would hurt to bribe her a bit with the promise of a set of Polly Pocket Disney Princess dolls.  She smiled.  She strolled.  Flower petals were scattered with great determination.  Success.  And of course, she looked adorable.  What more could be asked for in a flower girl?