30 August 2010

Pop-Pop's Quilt Process Part 2

What you see here are stacks of 108 green 4.5 inch squares and 108 brown 4.5 inch squares. Oh, and the bags of scraps from cutting said squares. Aren't I organized? Haha, yeah right... you just can't see the rest of the room, or the rest of my house for that matter!
The bag on the left is my bag of future stuffing. Up until very recently, pincushions were stuffed with pieces of thread too small to sew with, or fabric bits too small to be sewn into a quilt. I really hate wasting, and I don't usually have anything for a leaders / enders project, so my thread snippets and those super-skinny fabric bits from squaring up that block for a quilt go in there. I might also put it outside next spring for birds to use in their nests. I just don't want to buy stuffing if I already make it every time I sew, you know?
Back to Pop-Pop's quilt, though, having my iron right next to my sewing table made cutting so much easier. Some of you may laugh at that, but this is the first time I have had a whole room just for my sewing. Being able to immediately press a wrinkly fabric before cutting is a bit of a luxury for me.
Those stacks are very organized to make the sewing process easier. All squares of any individual fabric are together, and they are subdivided into smaller stacks of ten. All of each fabric may not be in the same group of ten, but they are still right next to each other (as in, if a fabric is on the bottom of one stack, more of it might be on the top of the next stack).
This organization helps with my piecing method for this quilt: the random number generator. Yes, I am a nerd. I start with the generator picking from 1 to 108, and whichever fabric it chooses, I use so long as it is not already in that square. The next time I take from that stack, the generator picks from 1 to 107,and so on. For ease of counting, I shuffle the "one less" up through the stack so that like fabrics stay next to each other and as many stacks have 10 squares in them as possible, effectively leaving one less square in the top stack. It's a bit more time consuming, but the nerd in me is absolutely jumping for joy. Nerdy math and computer stuff plus quilting equals a fully satisfied quilter and a fully satisfied nerd. It has tried to make several repeats already, and my most plentiful brown has been used in all but one 9 patch so far, but my most plentiful green still hasn't been touched yet. I am really curious as to when that green does finally get used.
I'll keep ya'll posted on my progress!

28 August 2010

Pop-Pop's Quilt Process Part 1

All right, here goes. I talked a while back about how I came up with the design for this quilt, but in case you missed it, I'll give you a refresher.
He had his private pilot's license back before I was born. The coolest thing about flying lower and slower than commercial planes is seeing the ground below. Fields, yards, gardens, pastures, and forests all turn into a very quilty pattern below. I wanted to capture that effect in a quilt - greens and browns of all types being both separate and together as part of a bigger pattern.
I decided on a disappearing 9 patch design to give the illusion of the ground below to my quilt. For those who don't know, a disappearing 9 patch is where you sew 9 squares together into a larger 3x3 square, iron it, and cut it into 4 pieces. These four pieces are your quilt blocks.
I wanted to use 4.5 inch squares for no particular reason. That would make the original unfinished size of the 9 patch 12.5 inches. The four blocks after cutting would be 6.25 inches unfinished, or 5.75 inches finished in the quilt.
I also wanted the finished size of the quilt to be even inches, not partials (I'm strange like that, plus it would use all of the blocks and not leave any as orphans). I wrote down the times table for 5.75 on scrap paper and picked 46x69 inches, or 8x12 blocks. That will need 96 of the blocks (the pieces of the 9 patch), which means I will need 24 9 patches. Did I lose anyone with all that math?
Each 9 patch will have either 5 brown squares and 4 green ones or 5 green and 4 brown ones. There are an even number of 9 patches, so I will need the same number of green as brown squares. Every two 9 patches will have a total of 9 green and 9 brown squares. So 12 x 9 (the 12 came from dividing 24 9 patches by two)  = 108 4.5 inch green squares and 108 4.5 inch brown squares. I guess I should get cutting! (Don't pay too much attention to the number of squares listed on the page in my picture with this post; the numbers are wrong)
So, what is the most pieces you've ever had to cut for a quilt before?

27 August 2010

In which I share the recipe for these divine cookies

Seriously, these are the best cookies in the world.
2 cups all purpose flour
0.5 tsp baking soda
0.25 tsp salt
0.75 cup (1. 5 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
0.5 cup white sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
2 bags chocolate chips (white and semi-sweet are a dynamite combo)
Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine butter and sugars. Beat in vanilla and eggs until light and creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Stir in chips (my stand mixer does it well on the stir speed).
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheets 1-2 inches apart. Bake approximately 15 minutes or until edges look done but center is still gooey. Allow to set on cookie sheets before removing (5 minutes).
Enjoy the fruits of your labor!
In quilty news, I have cut all of the green squares for Pop-Pop's quilt. Pictures will come soon along with the process stuff!

25 August 2010

In which I try to post from my phone

The Internet won't be turned on until September 7. Luckily, I can post from my phone!
The house is still a wreck and all I will post for now is a picture of what came in the mail today.  The colors are off as they were taken on the phone at 9:30 at night.

22 August 2010

In which I have over-committed myself

Have you ever done that? You get grand ideas, and then suddenly you realize that you have too many quilts and not enough time? Here's how it all went down...

My mom loves autumn. And I truly mean she loves it. Her guest bathroom is outfitted in autumn colors, and has a sign saying "Welcome, Autumn!" We have 4 poster frames on the walls in the living and dining rooms that are full of autumn leaves (2 collage-style leaves everywhere, one in a grid, and another collage style but with space between the leaves). She loves it. It's her favorite season. Then I discovered the maple leaf block, and I knew I wanted to make a quilt with that block for her. An artsy-type quilt, though - a patchwork tree on one side, grass at the bottom, and a ton of leaves falling helter-skelter through the air and on the ground. Thus Christmas present quilt 1 was firmly planted in my mind.

I also wanted to make a quilt for my mother-in-law. She didn't really have a favorite season per se, but she is a very traditional woman. Maybe a four-seasons quilt would work? Of course it would! The fall window pane would be easy - a few extra maple leaf blocks and a couple of pumpkins and I would be golden! And there were a few snowflake batik fabrics on super clearance at Hancock's of Paducah that would be perfect for a winter window pane! Spring is easy - she's a Texan, and is in love with bluebonnets, but then again, who wouldn't be if you were surrounded by those flowers every spring? I've only seen them in real life once, and they blew my mind...field after field full of bluebonnets, brilliantly blue-purple, and people stopping on the side of the highway to get pictures with them. And summer...a stylized sun with sun rays would work perfectly. Another quilt to get done by Christmas...oh dear...

My grandfather (Pop-Pop) just made a huge move. He moved from Florida, where he'd been living since I was 4 or 5, back to Ohio and into assisted living in my parents' town. He's having a hard time adjusting, even though my parents visit him at least once or twice a day. He's not spending much time with the other people living there, just sitting with them at mealtime. My grandmother quilted when I was a girl, and I have 2 small quilts she made me back then. How cool would it be for me to give my grandfather a quilt? It would be like affirming that he's in the right place, giving him back (maybe) a little bit of memory of my grandmother. His memory's fine, but it would be cool in a "families don't change that much" sort of way. And what better to have the subject of the quilt be but to somehow have it reflect his love of flying? Pop-Pop was a B-52 mechanic in Italy during WWII, and after he came back from the war, he got his private pilots' license. It's one of the few things he'll talk about for more than a terse conversation (he talks to my parents, but he's never been very talkative with us grandkids, even if we are adults now) - how beautiful the ground is when you're flying above it, how you can have a true moment with God when it's just you, Him, and an airplane. But how to capture that in a quilt? A disappearing nine-patch, of course! In varying shades of green and brown, it would be perfect. I might even add in a few squares of blue to be lakes...who knows. Randomly placing the blocks so that there is no pattern would make them look very similar to how fields look from the air. So now I've got three quilts to get done by Christmas...

That isn't to say that I don't already have quilts to finish. I'm halfway done quilting a Quitls for Kids quilt, which will take at least two days plus a few hours to quilt and bind, and I'm halfway done hand-quilting a baby quilt for a friend. Plus there's the queen-sized comforter I've been hand-quilting for my husband and I's bed...but I think he's accepted that it won't get done by Christmas this year. He's excited that I'll be making these quilts, but I'm doubting whether I'll get them all done. The four-seasons quilt and Pop-Pop's quilt need to be done early enough to get them shipped to their respective homes for Christmas, and hopefully my mom's too, but she may be coming out here between Christmas and New Year's sometime, so maybe it could get done a bit later. I don't know...

I promise to share pictures of the actual design process and sewing progress of these quilts as soon as I'm moved into my house and start sewing again. But hey - part of the process is thinking up what you want to do for the quilt, so in my mind, this is step one in the process of making a quilt. I'm moving into my house on Monday, and the internet will be turned on at some point next week, so if I don't post until late next week, I'm sorry. I'll be back as soon as I can!

Do you ever do this to yourself? Over commit yourself? If so, how do you deal with it? How should I deal with it?

15 August 2010

In which I missed my fabric store

Today, on the drive home from Zugspitze (tallest mountain in Germany), my husband and I decided to stop by München (the German spelling of Munich) to hit up a quilting store. Now, quilting stores in the good old USA aren't that rare. Heck, you can even go to your local Joann Fabrics or Hancock Fabrics and find good quality quilting cottons, or even cottons in general. Bolt after bolt of fabric, all of which could potentially find a home in your quilt. Any one of them might be the perfect color or print!

But here where I live, I don't have that luxury. There are 3 fabric stores in town, but they have very very limited selection on quilting fabrics. Two of the stores have a scant collection (less than 10 bolts) of cotton fabric, but it's mixed in with all of the other fabrics and you have to feel every bolt to figure out which ones are usable. There is one store that has its "quilting fabric" separate from the other ones, which is nice, especially since it has over 50 bolts of various fabrics. 

Then I came across a blogger from München named Uli who told me about a quilting store there in München! I visited their website and was excited beyond belief. It was what I was trying to find here - a store full of just quilting fabric and other quilting paraphernalia! So, on the way home, my husband graciously offered to drive through München to visit the store. But I mis-typed the address into the GPS and it took us to the wrong side of town and, by the time we found the store, it had closed half an hour earlier. I looked into the window and it looked amazing - the setup seemed a bit like Quilting by the Bay, with fabric all along the walls, on display shelves in the middle of the floor, etc. I was really disappointed that it was closed, but at the same time I'm really excited for whenever I get to go back! 

That being said, I probably won't be back for a while...I could go tomorrow, but I may try visiting a fabric store in a closer city. München is a bit farther than I'd like to drive just to go to one store, and besides, I don't have my fabric! It's with all the rest of my stuff, waiting for delivery after I move into my new house. It's very hard, not to have fabric, and not to have a sewing machine. You don't know how much you'll miss it until you don't have it and won't have it for at least a few weeks. 

Anyways, enough's a beautiful-ish day (okay, so maybe that's wishful thinking...rain, thunderstorms, and partly cloudy all day), and I have some hand quilting I can work on. So enough rambling on the blog!

12 August 2010


Welcome to the Quilting Hermit! This post is a lot harder to write than I expected. What do you tell a potential reader about yourself so that you sound interesting and they will want to return? What do I tell you that isn't already in my Author page? I guess I can say hello, but that just sounds...well...awkward. 

So I guess I'll kind of introduce myself, as this is my introductory post. I'm Emma, and I've been quilting for 12 years now, but the first 11 years I hand-pieced, hand-quilted, and completely hand-bound my quilts and only made 3. I started using my new sewing machine for quilting in January of 2010 and am completely hooked. 

I'm married to a wonderful man, who has mostly accepted that I am a quilter and that there will always be sewing machines and fabric in our house. We don't have kids, and aren't planning to for a good long while (at least 8-10 years before I consider it). I have 6 hermit crabs, but they are living with my sister for the next 3 years as I'm living out of the country and the requirements to move hermit crabs from the US to Europe were not worth it at all. The crabs have their own blog at The Daily Hermit

I look forward to blogging about my quilting, my other crafty endeavors, and life in Europe. I hope ya'll enjoy it as much as I do!

God bless!