QC Blog: July 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

Quilt Facts

This is from a card I got at a quilt show at the Meyersdale Maple Festival. There was no source on the card.

"At 10 hand stitches to the inch of thread, there are 360 stitches to the yard. The average quilt has 250 to 300 yards of thread quilted, so there are 90,000 to 108,000 hand stitches per quilt."

Makes you feel more like you're accomplishing something when you look at it that way....

Oh, and here's the first tomato from the garden. It's perfect and smooth and red and ripe and smells fantastic!! I can't wait to eat it.

I'm taking a break for a week, so happy quilting!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Making Cathedral Window Squares by Hand

Ok, we're going start at the very beginning. I used Ecology Cloth muslin as it has a thicker weight. I don't believe it was washed as it was precut, so it was stiffer, which is a definite advantage. Cut a 9 x 9 inch square piece of fabric. It's very, very important that the fabric be square. You might even want to try some spray starch to help stiffen the fabric.

Gather a few tools -- 2 pins, a 1/4" wide ruler, a 2.5" square ruler, and maybe a wooden presser to help give you nice sharp edges. If you have a Cathedral window template ruler, it can help you see the pattern on your fabric that you want in your window.Fold your piece of fabric in 1/4" on all 4 sides. I use the 1/4" ruler to help me with measuring the edges and to press the fabric. You can use the wooden presser or your finger also to make the edges sharp. Try to make all four sides a consistent measurement. As long as all four sides are the same, your block should fold correctly.

Next, fold each corner of the fabric into the middle, again pressing with your hand or the ruler edge. Try to make sure the points meet in the middle and are even. It might help you to mark the center with a pencil dot. Your goal here is to make sure the outside four corners meet in a sharp point. Don't obsess over it though. They don't have to be perfect to work.

The next part is kind of tricky, as you have to hold the four pieces with one hand, while you're folding again with the other hand. I use the ruler to hold 2 sides down while I'm doing this. Again, fold the 4 edges to the middle. The closer your points meet, the nicer your block will turn out. That is why a slightly stiffer material is helpful. Pin the two opposite sides, then pin again. Press the outside edges with your finger or wooden presser. Set this aside and fold two more blocks.

Going back to block one, sew the opposite sides that you pinned (using just one or two threads), then sew the remaining two edges (opposite one another) you have pinned without cutting the thread. Knot this thread and tie it off. Do the same with blocks two and three. Lightly press the blocks flat, so your edges are nice and crisp.

Take two of the blocks with the solid backs together and whipstitch the edges. Make sure you hide your knot on the inside of the folds, you don't want it to show on the back. I have tried the whipstitch many ways, from a tight stitch to a wider stitch. The wider stitch seems to work just fine, takes less time, and will be hidden when you place fabric over it. When you finish these two blocks, whipstitch the third block to the second block.

Choose 2 complementary fabrics, perhaps one with teapots, or gardening tools, and a flower pattern that accents the first fabric. Cut eight 2-1/2" squares from the flower fabric and two 2-1/2" squares from the teapot or garden fabric. Fold all the flower fabric squares in half and press. Leave the other two full size. Lay the fabric on top of your sewn cathedral window blocks, with the folded edge to the outside of the piece. Fold the edges of the fabric over your 2 1/2" square and use a blind stitch to hold the fabric in place. Do not sew through to the back of your square. To finish, sew a piece of lace about 1 yard long to the front of the piece (these threads will show on the back) and attach little buttons or pins to decorate. Buy a decorative hanger and sew it to the top of your piece. You have a lovely gift and you've learned how to make a Cathedral Window. You can use the same technique to expand your window project and make it a quilt.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Harvest Time

It's been raining all week here in Pittsburgh. It really did wonders for my garden. Here's a shot of my first big harvest. This is the fourth cutting of lettuce from my garden and the these are the first zucchini I've ever grown. We ate the big one for dinner and it tasted great. The green beans and snap peas were delicious too. Did you know the purple beans turn green when you cook them? I have a tomato almost ripe enough to pick.

You might notice the blog looks a little different today. Zack has been working hard on expanding the size so I can include a few ads in the borders. We also have some different blocks to make it easier for you to follow the blog - you can sign up for an RSS feed, or have it delivered via email, or follow it on your Google or Yahoo home page.

I decided today that I'm going to give small tutorials on the blog. I need to take a few photos to finish it, but I'm going to show you step by step instructions on how to make a Cathedral Window squares.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Photo Untaken

Last week, we saw a car broken down on the side of the highway It wouldn't have drawn my notice except for the words "Just Married" soaped on the back window of the car. Were they in their wedding clothes when they broke down? Were they on their honeymoon? Who rescued them? What a story that couple would have to tell. As we passed, I was wishing I had my camera, even while I realized that in the middle of a major highway, there was no way I could take that photo.
It's one I have to just let go............

Recycling has been on my mind a lot lately. My son and I are getting rid of old VHS tapes, old monitors, computers and printers, and figuring out what to do with old TVs that Goodwill won't even take. Where do I put all this stuff? And how on earth can I be responsible about it when I don't know where to take it? How do I know that the company I give my old computers to is disposing of them properly? How do I make sure that my old information is totally gone from my computer? And why do companies who trash all these things with alarming regularity not seem to feel the least bit guilty about it? What happened to the good old days, when people would actually take your old stuff and fix it to resell at their store? Too many questions with no answers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Firefly, Firefly Burning Bright

You might recall a few weeks ago, I mentioned how much fun it was catching lightning bugs as a kid. Today, I'd only touch them under duress, but my sister and I signed up with the Museum of Science to observe fireflies this summer. Apparently the firefly population is decreasing and they don't know why. If you go to their website, you can learn more about the species and sign up to watch them in your backyard. It's only once a week for 10 minutes. What I learned (that I didn't know before) is that there are three different lights - yellow green, green, and orange. Females are the ones who are usually stationary and males are the ones flying around. Most of the time they are doing a mating ritual, except when an impostor firefly imitates the mating light of another one and eats the males who answer her call. All kinds of things enter into how many fireflies you see (I've always called them lightning bugs) - grass, surrounding light, cloudiness, and temperature. You can get more info at the Museum of Science website, www.mos.org/fireflywatch. I plan on trying to take some photos next Sunday. That ought to be interesting.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How does your Garden Grow?

My garden is growing amazingly well. This raised bed garden is the best I've ever had (knock on wood) so far, I'm really impressed. My tomato plants actually have tomatoes on the stems already (that doesn't usually happen until August for me), and my Early Girl tomato plants might really be early. I fed the plants yesterday, so hopefully it'll give them a little boost in production. I always overdo it - planting too many plants for the space they are in. I did thin them out a little (I just hate pulling out healthy plants), but everything seems to be flourishing, even if it is a bit crowded. Don't they look awesome?

After my lilacs stopped blooming, the scent carried inside on the evening breeze is from my honeysuckle plant. It's a gorgeous smell and it seems to have continuous blooms. The only thing I don't know how to do is control it - you're supposed to wrap it around a trellis (which I do have), but I'm not sure if you do that at the beginning of the year, or at the end. Lovely, lovely flower, and it's supposed to attract hummingbirds, although I haven't seen any yet.

Here's what I'm working on in the sewing room. Right now this is in three segments that need to be sewn together. In addition, I'm working on my oldest son's graduation quilt (yes he graduated in 1999). I'm slightly behind on that one, but would like to finish it before he moves out at the end of the month, into his new home.

Enjoy your day!!

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