Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Best of Fall 2019

Our colors started turning early this fall, and so we went took many drives in search of them early in the season. Usually we are late leaf peepers who find ourselves too often looking at them on the ground. It did seem that whenever we went out, however we brought the clouds with us and though the leaves were pretty, they didn't glow as they will when the sun is shining brightly. At last, the weekend before Columbus Day we found great colors and so my husband returned to get them in the morning light and this is a sample of what he found. All credit goes to Tom McMillen for these photos taken near Lake St. Catherine, Vermont.

Friday, July 5, 2019

The 2019 Vermont Quilt Festival

Dear Readers,
Once again my family and I attended The Vermont Quilt Festival, 2019. I want you all to know that I found the perfect outfit to wear. It was one where I can easily be found in a crowd. I call it my "Where's Waldo" suit. Afterwards we went out to dinner at Costco for their special foot long hot dog with cold drink for $1.50. There are no complaints with this bill o' fare as we prefer spending at the quilt show instead! It was there that we saw a woman of similar age wearing a red and white striped dress and all wondered if that was her "Where's Waldo?"outfit? It did save me on many occasions when my daughter was able to easily spot me in a crowd, after finding Waldo for so many years in her youth!!
Me in my "Where's Waldo outfit" along with my daughter. The only time I
use my rolator is at quilt shows where it doubles as a shopping cart!

Now for the quilt show news! They mixed up the lay out this year! The vendors were all located together in the first room and the quilts were in the second, perhaps knowing the main purpose of any quilt show for us quilters is shopping first and show second. It did seem to discombobulate us a bit but first set out to find the bathrooms right between the two rooms.

We took in  the quilt show quickly as we have come to appreciate that my dear husband photographs all the quilts so we can re-enjoy the show for the entire year and actually from an easier vantage point for me...sitting down at my computer! Every year I get more lame, and more than once my daughter suggested that if I stood up straight and walked right, I would consume less energy than crawling behind my rolling walker!! She is obviously clueless just how hard it is getting for me! Next year, I will perhaps have my husband add rear and side view mirrors to my handlebars to keep me aware of how I need to better navigate to stay out of people's way!!

The quilts made our jaws drop. No matter how much I grow in my skills each year I find that the quality and creativity of the quilts shown increases exponentially!! Enjoy a bit of the show courtesy of my husband, Tom McMillen, photographer and be the judge yourself!!

I love the stories and sights that surround the quilt show. We heard that one of the winners wasn't going to enter her quilt as she didn't think the quality of her work measured up!! Typical quilter's attitude, if you ask me!! Perhaps the greatest sight, however was seeing an elderly couple whose husband was leading his wife who was navigating with the help of her white cane for the blind. They stopped at every quilt so he could verbally describe each quilt to her, so she could appreciate it too! What a dear man and it all demonstrated that no matter what, quilt shows are for everyone! It seemed no matter what direction we went, this couple were there "seeing it all"!

Please click on  control with your mouse centered over each quilt and roll your mouse button forward and backwards to make each appear bigger and smaller on your computer screens to enable you to read the details on each quilt tag or even look at the details on each quilt. I have included the photo of the credit tags following each quilt, which tells details about each quilt! Note that the leaf quilt was done using a solar printing technique!! Enjoy!...And all credit goes to these amazing quilters and my husband who takes time to photograph them every year. They are truly my yearly inspiration for my sewing, though what an amateur I am next to these quilters! Each quilt is so beautiful!! I selected my favorites, awarded or not! I also stopped to talk to one of my favorite quilters, Connie Harris Farrington, from Queensbury, New York. She is so friendly and warm and has shared much with me about her quilting process, which has been very encouraging to me!

Last, but not least is a quilt done by one of  my favorite quilters. I was very pleased that this year Connie Harris Farrington was awarded for her work. Every year she enters one of her quilts in the show and each is about women and their accomplishments. This year's theme was about Women of the Pen. Note that she always does a double sided quilt, as her quilts teach and so she doesn't miss a space to deliver her message. She has taught me that quilting is about learning and processing. "Not every quilt", she says, "is worthy of being finished" and "each quilt is about learning". She always has several quilts in process and each seems to work its way to completion or not. She has taught me to enjoy the process more than the outcome. Quilting is about living and learning and expressing yourself. It is OK to work on more than one quilt at a time and whether or not you finish them is not the point. This came as a great relief to me, though I am attempting to finish more and more of what I have started, though she is right, not all are worthy of my time.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Connie's Purple Crazy Quilt/ Hand-tied Comforter

I had promised my readers that I was making a "fast and simple quilt and would soon post pictures". The quilt turned out to be a little less than fast or simple but it is done at last and will soon be shipped to my friend, Connie, the person it was made for. And so at last, here it is:
Connie's Purple Crazy Quilt. The patchwork was done
"organically". Hannah McMillen pinned and I machine
sewed the pinned pieces of fabric onto 19 inch square
blocks of muslin fabric.
It started with my friend, Connie's favorite colors: Purple with some lavenders, violets and pinks. The patchwork was all unplanned and done "organically" in that my daughter spontaneously pinned patches and I machine sewed them to twelve 19 inch muslin blocks, such that their raw seams would all be on the inside and invisible. My daughter is an artist and I trusted her judgement, having chosen beautiful fabrics of which any combination would be lovely. Each square was sewn from the center to the edges, folding the fabric over the machine stitched seams.
This quilt is for my friend, Connie and so her heart became
the center for this quilt, embellished with a yo-yo flower
whose leaves form "wings". Connie is not unlike an angel,
as she has been a dedicated and loving companion to both
her grandmother as well as her great-aunt. The embroidered
cherib in the corner of this block is outlined with shiny
metallic button blanket stitches, whose spokes point outward,
just like Connie's love that is given so generously!
I then went over every seam with different machine stitches on my Husqvarna Designer I machine. My machine has a zillion stitches and I used various colors of embroidery thread that would accent each piece of patchwork. The design of this quilt provided me much practice using this machine. Mind you, I am "old-school" and so I can create most any stitch by-hand, but using a fancy, albeit old style computer machine is a bit foreign. I had issues with the thread reeling off the spool too fast, causing what is called "bird nesting" or  bunched thread under the sewing plate, and by the end of this project, I figured that my machine was due for being serviced and hoped that that would solve its problem. For this reason, I decided that actual embroidered pictures and words would be done on fabric and then hand-appliqued to this quilt instead of sewn directly on it, excepting the stitches that bordered each patch. That way there would hopefully be no holes created from this "bird nesting" problem as those pieces of fabric were thrown out and not used.
Each  appliqued heart is embroidered with the names of
Connie's special people in her life. And each rectangular
word embroidered with the values of Connie's life: faith,
love, hope and joy. Various embroidered pictures show bits
of what her life has been about. This one is about helping
her Great Aunt Marlene, in the kitchen.
I later learned what I had forgotten: that machine embroidery threads are slippery and light weight and will come easily off the horizontally placed spool unless slowed by putting a special "spool net" over the spool. Perhaps no servicing is needed if this "spool net" works on my projects in the future? For this quilt, I simply held my breath, and positioned my tongue, as one does when they are doing something too hard, and I prayed to the Saint of Machine Embroiders, and when all else failed threw out scraps of fabric and cursed! I am well-known for being a bit dramatic, but very stubborn and persistent! And I finished what I attempted to do!
Connie loves coffee and church and flowers. Her church
became a bird house church among the yo-yo flowers. I had
hoped that fusing would be enough on smaller appliqued
pieces, but in the end I thought better of it, and hand-stiched
everything to be sure that small appliques would not
come loose.
Anyway what you see is the result of using every trick I could think of, including special fusing interfacing but in the end, hand-stitched all appliques to better secure them. The joining seams were machine stitched and then embellished with feather-stitching done by hand so as to not challenge my machine and light machine embroidery thread with the extra thicknesses of the layered fabrics. I used to be a nurse and so part of my "tool bag" comes with various size clamps to help me pull my needle through the extra thickness of fabric! Overall, I was pleased with the result and my top was successful!
Connie sent me a picture of her dog, Molly, but as I couldn't
tell where to put the spots, as she was wearing a coat and
galoshes, I added those detail to Connie's little appliqued
dog. Connie has a charming personality and so does her
little dog!
Never did I imagine that my polyester batting would cause any issues for me and this batting gave me fits, such that in the future, I would simply start over with a different batting. What can go that wrong with a batting, you ask? It pilled, and shed and then "bearded", which is when you are either quilting or tying and the batting comes out of the needle holes attached to the thread or yarn. Polyester batting usually comes with sizing on the top and bottom and this one did not. I used a thin batting as I didn't want a very heavy or high-loft batting. I figured, there was weight enough in the weight of the patchwork, extra stitching, the muslin foundation fabric to which the patches were sewn, plus the dark purple high-thread-count sheet used for the backing.
Connie loves to sit in Marlene's back yard porch swing to
rock and sing and loves the nature that surrounds her.
Connie is happy, loves music and dances with joy as well!
I had planned for this to be a "quickly done gift-quilt/ hand-tied comforter", instead of an heirloom hand-sewn piece, but ended up taking extra steps to assure that this quilt would last, and wanted it all embellished enough to be pretty and rather ornate and so did what I had to do to get the look I wanted and have it last. You be the judge, but then actually I am, mostly likely, the harsher judge. The batting didn't lay as flat as I had hoped. I tied it from the back, while choosing the sites for the ties from the front and while I hoped that it was laid out smoothly, the batting was less than cooperative and I later found a crease in the batting not noticed when we were laying it out. I had to remind myself that "finished is better than perfect" and it was important that this piece be finished as soon as possible.  I am hopeful that when it is washed this crease will relax and lay flatter. I am fortunately more perfectionistic than the recipients of my quilts.
Connie is an avid Christian and loves Jesus and so His heart
is also in the center of her quilt.
This turned into a memory quilt for Connie and represents a bit of an honorary award to her. She has dedicated her life to being a companion to her grandmother and then her great aunt. She is a kind and loving person, who has given her love to those who needed it most during the final chapters of their lives. I hope it will be a special memory quilt for Connie. It turned into being my special gift to her, as I so appreciated what she was able to give to my good friend. Neither she nor I expected that her great aunt and my dear friend would become seriously ill just as I was starting this quilt, and I hope it will be of comfort to Connie as we both grieve her great aunt's decline. Her quilt commemorates Connie's faith, hope, love and joy and a dear great aunt that she has loved. Connie is a dear and caring person and loves purple as do I!
Mark's heart had praying hands on it as he was the leader
of an international prayer group to which Connie belonged.
Featured at the top left corner of Connie's quilt is a heart
with Mom embroidered on it, as her mom has a
very special place in Connie's heart.
Also featured were her brother and sister-in-law, and their
names, Kelley and Maria are on the joining hearts,

...and her friend, Pearl's heart and a picture of embroidered
Also, a picture of a heavenly cloud with the names of those
that Connie loves that are now in heaven.
This is my humble dedication block on the back of Connie's
quilt. This was hand-embroidered, and apparently my fingers
were ready to be done with this quilt, but I remembered the
motto "better finished than perfect"  and it supported my
decision to finish this quilt with this less-than-perfect
dedication block. Another Amish quilt saying is "every
quilt needs to have something done imperfectly, as only
God makes perfect things!" I don't have to work at
making things less than perfect as that is simply "a given"
 in my creations.