Saturday, October 22, 2011

The "real" block

Finished the "real" block for the quilted wall hanging. I got a little ambitious with the yellow squares and the block is still not really 12.5 inches square, as it should be, but the new machine is a dream to sew on.

My husband and I have decided to retire my abuela's old machine to the guest room, which has her antique bedroom furniture in it, so that it is near all the other things that were hers and are now with us.

Now it's on to "flying geese," which are even more a challenge than the triangles on this block. Thankfully, I have a lot of extra fabric from my mother in law so more practice blocks will come before the final one is done.

A great surprise!

Today, when I arrived at my quilting class, I noticed that the large table where five of us (the students) work was all taken up with machines. My first thought was: "I don't have a space to work on..." And then the group started singing Happy Birthday and pointing me to the brand new machine with the pink polka dotted ribbons set on the space where I usually work.

Turns out my sneaky mom (who left yesterday after a three-week visit), and my sneaky husband had conspired so that she gifted me the machine for my upcoming 50th birthday and he went and bought it and conspired with my quilting teacher to have the surprise ready for me today.

Thanks to the fabulous machine, I was able to finish the practice block that I started yesterday and the "real" block with the fabric I bought, which will grace my quilted wall hanging when it's finished. Photos of that are upcoming.

I don't usually like surprises but I have to say that today's was among the best I've ever had in my life. I think what made this surprise particularly lovely was not the much-needed machine itself but more the lovely gesture from my mom, my brother and sister (who participated in the good wishes), my husband, my quilting teacher and even the relative strangers in the quilting class and in the store, all of whom were happy for me. It was a great surprise, indeed! It reminded me once more of how fortunate I am to have the life I have and such people to love and who love me.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Second practice block

After a busy day of taking my mom to the airport early in the morning and then running errands before rushing back to campus for a lunch with faculty of color and students and then a meeting with a prospective student, I decided to spend part of this quiet night working on my quilting and doing a second practice block.

I still have a lot of leftover fabric that my mother-in-law gave me a long time ago, and I loved this print with the moon and the sun and the other print with the gold stars against a white background. And I liked the way the red print contrasted with both of them so I decided to work with these combinations. I am not displeased with the result but after sewing the rows together my old abuela's machine started giving me so much grief that I'm going to quit while I'm ahead.

Tomorrow, hopefully, when I go to class, I'll get myself a new machine and this process will become a lot less frustrating and I'll be ready to get to the actual block with the more expensive fabric I bought for my quilted wall-hanging.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Practice doesn't always make perfect

This is the practice block I worked on today because these triangles and the "butting of the seams" are both real challenges for me. Although I've done quilting before (twice!), I find that cutting, piecing and sewing are the types of endeavor where practice (at least not the little I've had) does not make perfect.

I'm going to try for a second practice block before I cut into my more expensive fabric, in the hope that the third time is the charm for these darned triangles and seams. (To give you an example of where I'm not up to snuff: while the entire block is supposed to measure 12.5 inches, mine is about 1/4 inch short all around and it's not an even square.)

Today I spent about 45 minutes in class trying to get my abuela's machine to behave and was so frustrated by the end that I decided I will invest on a new machine, which I hope to buy next week, before the next class. I will then retire my abuela's machine, which, after all, I did use to sew my first wall-hanging last year.

In the meantime, I worked some more tonight with scrap fabric my mother-in-law gave me a long time ago, which I put to good use for this practice session. There is more where that came from so the next practice block also will showcase some old scrap fabric of hers. I love having all that fabric to iron out my kinks, so to speak, before I cut into the nice fabric I bought for the new wall-hanging I'm working on.

While practice may not make perfect with quilting in my case, it'll at least should get me to "good enough."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Falling for Fall

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The first block is finished!

New beginnings

October is regaling us with glorious weather (in the high 70s and even low 80s!) and with cool, cool nights that are helping turn the trees (with the shorter daylight hours) into feasts for the eyes.

October, which also happens to be not just my favorite month but also the month in which I will celebrate half a century (oh, dear, how momentous that sounds!), is a great time to start quilting again. Today I had my third beginning quilting class (yes, I'm going back to the beginning rather than moving on to more demanding classes), and we began piecing together the first large bloc of our wall hanging. Last year, I made a fall-inspired quilt that now hangs on the wall of Papi's Room but this time around I'm going for my favored rose and pink prints.

I'm still using my abuela's old machine but am considering spending on a newer machine. I'm also considering sewing a wall hanging and a wrap from a glorious fabric a graduating senior from Indonesia gave me as a present. (I guess I've been watching too much Project Runway because I'm really disappointed that I didn't pay more attention at all those sewing classes my abuela put me through when I was a little girl. There's a fabric at the quilt shop that would make a fabulous jacket, if only I knew how to make one!!)

I really love piecing and sewing. It's such a different brain activity than everything else I'm involved in, like reading and writing (mostly), or thinking through other people's (mostly students') problems and challenges. I'm really looking forward to working on this project and to be more purposeful and careful about it. Perhaps then I might feel like I'm ready to move on to intermediate. Perhaps.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Fall is my favorite time of the year, although this one has started a few weeks before it was supposed to, so that today, the first of October, it's already in the 40s out there. Brrrr.

Last night, I gave Lizzy a quick walk outside just at the time after the sun had set but there was still a little illumination to give me this view of a quarter moon and the advancing darkness.

I'm always grateful, at dusk, my favorite time of the day, that there are no actual vampires to ruin such views.