Thursday, May 26, 2016

Quilt Show Preparations

This week has been spent putting bindings, labels, and sleeves on the three quilts I've completed most recently.

This is the Ohio Stars quilt I made from last year's RSC blocks. The wavy red print you see is the backing fabric, not a border. I actually chose the binding fabric based on the colors in that print rather than from anything on the front.

Unfortunately you'll have to wait a bit to see pictures of the whole quilts. I bought a clothesline to hang big quilts from for photographic purposes but it hasn't been installed yet. The simple quilting James did on the Ohio Stars really makes the quilt special. He had the very devil of a time quilting the baskets quilt however.

We chose a simple pattern of a meandering line with loops so as not to distract from the baskets (and to avoid getting too involved in custom work!). But there were issues with thread shredding. He found a part that was rough and nearly worn through from all the quilts this machine has quilted over the years (to the best of my knowledge he's the third owner so far). Once he had that replaced things improved but there was still an excessive amount of shredding happening. In the end we came to the conclusion that the finish or the ink or whatever on the white on white prints I'd used around the baskets and on the back of the quilt was the cause of the problem. I used the off-cut of the backing fabric to bind the quilt and had a more challenging time than usual when it came to that hand stitching too.

Because it took so long to get these quilts off the long arm I've had to push to get them bound. They have to be turned in next Tuesday, with sleeves and labels. I try to remember to include a label on every quilt I make but I generally avoid sleeves. I make quilts to be snuggled under, not displayed. Allow me this opportunity to state categorically that I detest applying sleeves to quilts. Having said that, if the occasion - or the quilt - warrants, I'll do it.

If you find yourself in Skagit Valley the first weekend of June be sure to make time to stop by the Three Rivers Inn on Hwy. 20 to see all the spectacular quilts that will be on display. :- )

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Selfishly Stitching Along

As part of Carla's Bee, Myself and I selfish sewing (which she has had absolutely no time for, poor thing) I've been working on a needlepoint canvas. In a recent post I hinted that I've set aside that canvas for a new project. For the time being it remains at this stage:

I guess I needed to work on something more colorful than all that light blue. So I pulled out a pre-printed panel I'd purchased some while ago from Sublime Stitching. Jenny put her floss bundles on sale recently too. Of course I succumbed and bought a selection. It only seemed appropriate then that I should stitch her panel with her floss!

More bluebirds, although not like any bluebird with which I'm familiar. ;- )

I'm using this piece to strengthen my embroidery skills and also to practice being okay with not doing things perfectly. I doubt you'll be able to see it, but my back stitches are never a consistent length. I'm seriously hoping that the blue markings will wash out as promised.

It's been a very long time since I've done this sort of thing. It's turning out to be quite a pleasant change from building quilts and quilt backs!

You can see more fabulous needlework on these blogs:

Kate at
Avis at
Claire at
Gun at
Carole at
Wendy at
Lucy at
Jess at
Constanze at

Friday, May 20, 2016

Building a Back

My F2F swap blocks are now a flimsy!

This should finish as an 84" square quilt. Setting the blocks was a pretty straightforward process once I had the sashing strips built and distributed as evenly as I could manage. The bigger challenge has been building a back for this beast. It needed to be a minimum of 90" square. The easy way out would have been to purchase extra wide fabric specifically made to be quilt backs. I have too much yardage in The Nest at the moment to get away with that however. ;- ) 

In spite of the fact that I have a lot of yardage, not much of that is extensive yardage of any given print. So no matter what I had to piece things together to get that 90" square. Since these blocks were made by new friends from around the world I decided begin with prints that have been given to me by other friends over the last few years.

Do you recognize this Julie?
There wasn't enough of any one thing to get all the way across the quilt back so two sections feature two prints each.

Then I needed a narrower strip to get the necessary length. That strip ended up being composed of three different prints but I only have two in a photo to show you.

Technically all those women on the left are gardeners but they've been waiting patiently in my stash to be included in a project for many, many years. I figure they are a pretty good representation of the variety of ladies who made blocks in the F2F swap. The purple text print is one my sister just sent to me in that heavy box for my upcoming birthday.

It makes me happy to have the back of my quilt be as meaningful as the front. What makes me happier is that it turned out bigger than it really needed to be and is done. I declare, it's been a bigger challenge to build this back than it was to create the top! I will be avoiding projects of this size in the immediate future.

On a more technical note, I've downloaded and tried a couple of the photo editing programs y'all recommended. At the moment I'm using Pixlr. I like it pretty well. I think it's time to come up with a better system for managing the photo files while I'm at it. They've gotten a bit out of hand from my never having learned exactly how best to handle files and folders in a computer.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Studio Companions

For Mother's Day this year I was given a new laptop. I needed one, and for the most part I'm happy with my new little buddy. However, in their infinite wisdom Google has seen fit to discontinue supporting Picasa, the photo management system I've been using. Which means I now have to find, install, and learn a new program. {sigh} We've tried one already. No, two actually. Three if you count the one that came with the computer (useless, at least for my purposes). I may have to go back to using the more professional program my photographer husband uses. Anyone out there have any suggestions or recommendations?

I don't use a smart phone - or any phone - to take pictures. I use a small Canon digital camera. Aside from the rare family event most of the pictures I take are for this blog. This computer is loaded with Windows 10 (of course, since it's a pc). I want something simple and straightforward. Does that even exist in this world?

Now let's see if I can find any textile content I can share with you...

Lots of textiles waiting to be put to good use!

Hmm, not so much. I don't believe I have introduced you to my new studio bird though. When the lovely Mr. Bingley passed away I didn't let any grass grow under my feet in my search for a new singing companion. Unfortunately there were no yellow canaries to be had in my part of the country at the time.

Do you know how hard it is to get a picture of a nervous bird?!

But! There's a guy in our church who breeds red factor canaries. He had some lovely little guys available for me to choose from. It wasn't an easy decision, but I brought one home and eventually christened him Pippen. Here you can see his pretty red chest:

And here's his back.

I was told this color variant is called black opal because there's a black gene in the pool. Lon had one bird that was a very striking black with red patches. Most display shades of gray and white mixed in with red  and brown bits. Pippen is not as flashy as Mr. Bingley, and he sings a slightly different song, but I'm still delighted to have his presence in my studio.

If we can figure out a new photo program I will have an embroidery project to share with you for the next installment of the Stitch Along on 22 May. No, I didn't finish the needlepoint I've been working on (silly goose!). I started a new project this week. ;- )

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Dent in the Drawer

So apparently the cure for flagging enthusiasm is starting a new project. After I made my baskets for the liberated medallion QAL (yes, I decided to participate and I made two baskets!) guilt sent me to my Parts Department.  If I'm going to be making a new quilt I need to do something about the Parts drawer that I can hardly get open anymore.

First I counted up 71(!) six inch ship blocks.

I don't know how many I'll need but I'm not quite ready to set them sailing yet.

What about 12" blocks? Starting a new quilt with big blocks makes for rapid progress. ;- )

My go-to size for a personal or comfort quilt is 60" x 80." These blocks give me 48." All I need is some sashing. What's in the stash that's been there too long?

A wonderful, colorful Hoffman print from two decades ago. What next?

I have quite a few 9" blocks...

Ohio stars from the tail end of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge last year and some liberated stars from further back with almost the last of another old print.

Okay, that's a good start. Now what?

There are more 9" stars, mostly with white or light backgrounds. Let's see...

That could work. I rustled up enough for two more rows, alternating liberated and Ohio stars.

One of the prints my sister just sent me was ideal for the large borders on the top and bottom. I wanted to use another of the new prints for all of the horizontal sashing. My brain failed me at that point; I didn't realize there wasn't enough. Fortunately I found a print in my stash that worked for the wider strips that border the 12" blocks. Suddenly, I have a complete quit top! (And 28 fewer blocks in the Parts Department. Oh well, at least it's a start.)

Here's the lower right corner that my cutting table cuts off in the photo above:

Everything in this quilt was made from scraps or small pieces of yardage so I'm linking up with Kate and Gun for Scrap Happy Day and with the RSC quilters over at So Scrappy. You'll see lots of green in the RSC scraps this month. You never know what you might find on Scrap Happy Day! :- )

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A New Temptation

Not having quite enough energy this morning to actually start sewing I took the opportunity to catch up on what a couple of my blogging friends have been up to. That may have been a mistake. My first stop was Julie's blog.

Turns out there's a new quilt along starting up, inspired by Gwen Marston's liberated quilt making. Specifically, this quilt along is to create medallion style quilts. There are five co-organizers for this endeavor. Each one will pick a design feature for us to interpret and incorporate into our quilts in our own way. We can piece or applique at will, work in a liberated style or stick with precision cutting and piecing. That's just the kind of freedom I like!

My dilemma stems from the fact that my energy levels are so sporadic these days. I hesitate to commit to a new project that could be mentally demanding, to say nothing of the physical. And then there's the question of whether to work out of the Parts Department (something I picked up from Gwen and Freddy Moran's collaborative efforts) or to use some of the prints piling up in my stash. I admit to leaning in the latter direction. If only the Parts Dept. weren't overflowing!

Lori over at Humble Quilts decided we would all begin with a basket block for the center of our medallions.  At the beginning of each of the next four months one of the other organizers will give us the next design element to use. Cynthia (wabi-sabi quilts) in June, Cathy (Big Lake Quilter) in July, Katy (KatyQuilts) for August, and Wendy (The Constant Quilter) for September.

I have a few basket blocks left over from making this quilt...

But I can't say I'm excited about using them. The final decision may hang on whether I can create a satisfactory basket (or two) in the palette I have in mind. So I guess I should set the laptop aside and see what comes to hand!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Status Report

I feel all confused about where I am with ongoing projects and what I may or may not have posted. Seems to be a recurring theme lately! 

For the record, the quilt I made as part of the Hands2Help quilt drive is finished. Woohoo! It's been bound but not laundered yet. I'm holding onto it long enough to enter it in a local quilt show. 

Not the best photo, just a quickie taken outside. It's upside down to boot!

I'm keeping up with the strips and rows for my version of Quilty 365. Here are the current strips just laid out on the design wall:

That bottom row has since been completed and a new row begun. I'm about halfway through my year of strips.

Kate should be receiving the F2F blocks I made for her soon. Hers was the last set of blocks to be made and sent out in this first F2F swap. A second swap has been set up and will begin with blocks for Lynn in June. 

I've only made a few postage stamp stars per the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color scheme for this month. We're only a week into the month though. In all likelihood I will be focusing on the green aspect of the palette, probably leaving brown out of the mix altogether. 

There have been more little ships.

Very soon I ought to be able to begin setting these into the Scrappy Sea I intend for them to sail.

Is that everything? Doubtful, but this is what comes immediately to mind. 

Oh, there has been a windfall of new fabric come into The Magpie's Nest. I received an early birthday (and Christmas and next year's birthday and Christmas too!) present from my sister this past week. I shouldn't tease you like that, I don't have any pictures yet. But there was an irresistible sale at my LQS the week before that. This is what 27 yards of fabric looks like all in one place:

Some of it will be quilt backs, and about half of it is for a wedding quilt I hope to get made before the end of July (oh dear! that's not that far off anymore!). There are other new projects on the horizon as well. Things are sort of nebulous at this point. Rest assured you will be kept abreast of the most exciting developments. ;- )

Thursday, May 5, 2016


Early Sunday morning a blaze broke out in a commercial building over the river to the west of us. It spread to the furniture store next door and had an impact on another nearby business. The resultant air quality has had the expected negative effect on my system. My misery is minuscule compared to the losses suffered by these local independent businesses. Nevertheless, not much has been accomplished since then. 

I managed to rearrange the blocks I'd made for the sashing of my F2F quilt and get them sewn into strips.

I just haven't been able to find the energy to set the sashing between the four-block units yet.

I also made a card for a friend of mine dealing with bone cancer.

I purchased the bluebird applique some time ago from Flights of Fancy. The acrylic flower beads may have come from them too. The rest of it is wool felt and a bit of cotton floss embroidery. Not my best work but it's the thought that counts right? :- )