Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Three weeks with Phebe

Its been about three weeks since I last checked in, a frustrating three weeks. Phebe is not making it easy and she and I seem to be locked in a fight to the end.

Here's my progress:
- The embroidery is finished, I think.
- The outer red dog tooth border has been sewn on.
- Hoping to be more accurate, I've taken the Ohio Star blocks' sashing and cornerstones off and resewn back on, sewn everything together in rows and then to the medallion. Unfortunately, a lot of volcanoes (blocks cupping due to inaccurate piecing) so the top will need a really good steam press for it to lay flat.
- Today, I stitched on the first brown geometric print border but still need to miter the corners. All the corners have a nice miter except the one I always think is the most important - the lower right hand corner. It will take some fiddling to get it to look mitered.
- The next border is a small scrappy dog tooth (one inch high, one inch across the base) and I've pinned part of a strip to the left side just to get an idea what it will look like. I have several of these strips paper pieced so now its a matter of finishing them to the correct length, adding the corner piece and stitching them to the top. Sounds suspiciously easy to me!

Until next time, Mayleen 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

For the Birds

I had a difficult time finding any fabric which I thought worked as a bird wing so I made my own! The two birds in the outer border have wings made of individual small paisleys which I fussy cut and appliqued using the starch method. The wings were preassembled before stitching them on. 
Here are the other birds -

I'm not sure what to do about this one's beak and may just let the fabric design be the beak.

I'm trying to finish the embroidery on the center panel and applique borders by the end of the month. Dare I say it? I think I might just make it or come very close!

Until next time, Mayleen

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Phebe's Flowers & Foliage

Staying home because of my cold has given me more time to embroider!

Just in case, anyone else is considering adding embroidery to their Phebe quilt, here are some details about the flowers and foliage I've finished or partly finished. Click on the photo for a closer look! 

The blue Coxcomb (or is it a Morning Glory?) has a laced backstitch run around the outer edge and a back stitch next to cream print. I used the Chain Stitch on its foliage.

The pink flower actually should have 10 petals but I chose to give it only 8 since I'm fairly new to applique. Both it and the red flower in the center have simply been backstitched with red or pink. Sue Spargo's book, "Creative Stitching" gave me the idea for this flower center's embroidery. The leaves have been embroidered with a Feather Stitch.

The blue fussy cut flower is only partly finished. Its four inner petals have French Knots on the design in the fabric and I still need to Backstitch around the outer petals. Those are French Knots made with Perle Cotton around the edges of the leaves.

The Red Gingham flower is the same shape as the pink flower. It still needs its Pearl Stitch around the outer edge. I've gone blank but I think that's called a Lazy Daisy stitch around the center with French Knots on top. The design on its leaves is a simple stem stitch following the design of the fabric.   

Enough of all that. Most of these are very basic embroidery stitches and if you click on the photo, you can see them better for yourself instead of me trying to explain them to you!

When I embroider, I like to work sitting at my lowered ironing board. I can spread out my floss and use the ironing board as a very large pin cushion! Here you can see my fairly new, clean ironing board cover which probably won't be that way for long.

I've been putting off finishing a part of the applique border until now. (Ignore that yellow blotch, I think its my shadow as I took the picture.) 

This bird and another one like it almost became an Apteryx, something found only in a comic strip here in the States! Next time I'll tell you how the birds have fared.

Until later, Mayleen

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Guess where I've been?

I took a bus tour to the Houston Quilt Festival!

Day One: Long bus ride from Wichita to our hotel in Houston. Believe it or not, my husband has agreed to go with me.

Day Two: Stuck in traffic (I think its safe to say that I will never drive in Houston!) Quilters in line to get into the arena are doing a countdown and we all surge in. I don't think its too crowded until I stop to use the restroom and then its, "Where did all these women come from?!?" The arena is the equivalent of 5 football fields - one for the food court, two for the vendors and two for the quilt show. Shopping, oh yes! I have a list of vendors I want to visit. I enjoy meeting several bloggers and shop owners I'm familiar with. We make it only half way through all the vendors before we decide to take a break. We saw many beautiful quilts and I will probably share more pictures later. Husband finds the Men's Lounge with chaises and TV tuned to the sports channel. Back at the hotel, my legs and feet are so tired! Can one possibly prepare oneself for walking 7 hours on thinly carpeted concrete floors?

Day Three: Yes, repeat day two. Spend more money and never see the absolutely essential quilting gadgets other tour members find. We find the Starbucks on the arena's second level and relax on the sun roof. Look at more quilts. Take more pictures of quilts. Husband visits Men's Lounge.

Day Four: Husband pleads upset stomach and stays at the hotel. I tag along with other tour members (Hi Cheryl), look at more quilts and take a few pictures. Browse through vendors again.

Day Five: Long bus trip back to Wichita. Believe it or not, my husband is willing to go to Paducah with me in spring! Maybe I just caught him at a weak moment, LOL.

The house is still standing, the cats haven't destroyed my plants, its good. We collapse in our own bed.
I am motivated to finish Phebe so I can start a new pattern I purchased in Houston.

No, I'm not going to show it to you yet but I've been wanting to make it for a long time. If you know me, you know I like quilts with a lot of pieces. Just a hint.

my husband was the first to have the flu/cold symptoms. Apparently, someone on the trip decided to share it with us and I am now down with it too. So, no guild meeting for me this week and I'll try to work on Phebe as I have energy and between the sneezing and nose blowing. Lots of embroidery going on!

Until next time, Mayleen

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A stitch here, a stitch there

When I began embroidering details on my Phebe quilt, I looked for images on the web of any other Phebe quilt which had been embellished with embroidery but I couldn't find any. In this post, I'm including a few photos of the embroidery stitches I'm adding for anyone who would like some ideas about embellishing their Phebe quilt.

I've learned how to do all the stitches from my experience with crazy quilting and by looking at stitchery books. I am certainly no expert but just keep trying different stitches, colors and floss or perle cotton until I find the results I like. Click on the photos for a closer look and please forgive my fuzzy photography!

The first thing I remembered about hand embroidery is how long it takes! Besides stitching some embellishments on each applique, I'm also stitching a decorative stitch or backstitch around each piece of applique. I feel like I worked on this all last week but haven't made much progress. Of course, I always think I can do things faster than what really happens.  I'm using whatever floss I can thread the needle with - DMC, Valdani and whatever I'm finding in my embroidery box in both floss and perle cotton weights. I especially like variegated colors.

Unfortunately, I'm finding that some of my applique is too close together. For instance, the flower and leaf above. I think I know what I'm going to have to do but am still trying to convince myself about it. The flower is going to have to be moved, isn't it? Don't want to even think about picking out the blue French knots. It looks like the too closeness could be an issue at another part of the border too.

My "design wall" is such a mess, not to mention my sewing room! We're in the process of decluttering our house and my sewing room is going to get the treatment when I'm finished with Phebe. Maybe I will post photos of where I stitch when my room gets its makeover. Please bear with me but this is my "design wall" with layers of projects and stuff pinned to it.

If you can make it out, on the right is another section of Ohio Stars. This section was definitely a challenge because hardly any of the blocks were the correct size. I'm going to try to block the different sections to get them less lumpy and bumpy before I sew them to the medallion. Poor Jan (the machine quilter)! Can you quilt that out?!? 

On the left are the 3 1/2 nearly finished sections of the 8 dogtooth borders which are coming up. Since I'm paper piecing these, its fairly mindless sewing and sometimes I've wondered where my mind is! I've sewn pieces on upside down and in the wrong order, etc. so I keep my seam ripper close by.

The other stuff on the "design wall" is an EPP Grandmother's Flower Garden I started two years ago and would still like to finish. When I started it, I thought it would be bed sized but now I'd be happy with a wallhanging. The print out for the Love Entwined quilt center is peeking out from behind the dogtooth border strips and the actual center is under the Ohio Stars. Under the lower part of the dogtooth borders is a "Welcome" wallhanging which was a present from our outgoing guild president.

Must get back to stitching so until next time,

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Phebe - Keeping it Real

Last week, I finished sewing all the fussy cut sashing on to the wonky Phebe star blocks. I was relieved I was done with that step and excited to start sewing them all together this week. I wasn't so happy with the results though! Below's an example of my not so stellar piecing which is the reason I've spent the past two days picking off the horizontal sashing.
I realized I hadn't been accurate enough when cutting the cornerstones. They're only 1/2 inch square finished so being off just a little bit is bad. Sometimes I had to trim only a very minute amount off of the block to square them up. By the way, I hate squaring up.

Its a slow process but I've carefully resewn the stars for the left side together again.

Lots of pinning to match seams and to try to get the star points to line up. Notice the word "try", these are wonky stars afterall!

I'm also still working on embroidery! Lots of French Knots happening. I keep seeing more embroidery to add but for now, I'm concentrating on the leaves.

The next border (around the stars) is going to be very time consuming so I'm trying to work on it a little at a time in advance. I'm paper piecing the dogtooth borders and have drawn out the strips on paper. I copy the original and then cut the strips apart. After my experience with the cornerstones, I don't think I could be accurate enough if I were to hand piece the triangles. What do the numbers mean? Never mind them, that was another idea of mine that didn't work. The finished triangles measure 1 inch at the base and are 1 inch tall. Since there are two of these borders, that's a lot of little triangles!

Until next time, Mayleen

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fido and Fluffy

For the past few days, I've been working on adding a dog and cat to my Phebe quilt. Here is Henry with the dog which I think is looking fairly good. This is the first time I've appliqued a dog or cat. I've got to fix that wrinkle across Henry's face though!

And here's Phoebe with her cat which still has a few issues but at least she's no longer sitting on the sheep's head! I need to make the cat's eyes more visible.

I've also been adding some embroidery to the center and applique borders. I added couching and veins to the oak leaves and made French Knots around some of the leaves to make the edges look jagged. Today, I decided I'd put off my wonky Ohio Stars long enough and added a sashing/cornerstone strip to twenty more. Only 33 more to do before I can start planning their layout. Looking forward to the next big step!

Until next time, Mayleen

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Return to Phebe

I left you last month with the news that Hospice had been called in to care for my mother. There were ups and downs but my mother passed away on August 26 without lingering and suffering. I was very thankful for that. This has been a year of endings for me - both my mother and mother-in-law passed away and a daughter left home to marry (not a bad thing but it is an ending).

As you can see, I'm still slowly working on Phebe. My goal to have her to the machine quilter by this time went out the window when my mother's health deteriorated. After the funeral, I really had no desire to work on Phebe and it has taken me some time to get back into quilting. To be truthful, there are still days I'd like to pack Phebe away. Instead, I'm planning to finish her in memory of my mother and mother-in-law neither of whom were quilters but were very supportive and encouraging of my projects.

Ever since beginning Phebe, I've felt there was just too much space around Henry (Phebe's husband). So, I'm going to add a border collie. Perhaps someone can tell me if they are the traditional dog to herd sheep? What you see in the picture is Publisher clip art and not my appliqued dog yet. Then I thought, shouldn't Phebe have a cat? Yes! I've appliqued a calico cat sitting next to Phebe. Unfortunately, it looks like the cat is sitting on a sheep's head so I plan to move that sheep a little to the right.

I think I may be thinking too hard but I've decided who is who in the sheep family. Mama is the sheep with the cat on her head. Papa is the sheep with the wavy lined body. Their children: #1 is the sheep on the far right, #2 is the sheep getting ready to jump or is he supposed to be laying down? and #3 is the one on the far left. However, it could be that I just need to have a good long sleep, ha!!!

OK, back to normal thinking.

Besides the applique and embroidery going on in the center and borders, I've been fussy cutting and stitching the sashing and cornerstones to the Ohio Stars. I can tell you that I will be very glad when this part is done. Until now, I'd thought of myself as a fairly good piecer, no longer. What I have is Wonky Ohio Stars which are sewn to finished size 1/2" sashing and of course, I had to choose sashing fabric with lines. Any little stitching wobble and fudging is very evident. 

This all brings me to what I'm trying to "say" with this quilt. I deviated from the pattern by making Phebe and Henry older, hopefully representing a life well lived, a full life. I don't know anything about their real lives but I imagine it was like ours today - good and bad, things to be happy about and disappointed with. Yes, I'm disappointed my piecing and applique isn't as good as it should be but it won't be so noticeable in the quilt when its all stitched together. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying (most of the time) the process!

Until next time,

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Happy, Sad

Here is the Phebe center as it is today. I finally finished all the oak leaves and acorns! The red diamond corners are giving me problems though and I'm still trying to figure out how to applique them so the points are actually in the corners.

I know some of you haven't seen what a finished Phebe quilt looks like so here is a scanned image. As you can see I have a little work ahead of me. I am so glad that the Ohio Stars are finished and waiting!

I will probably not be posting regularly for awhile. Hospice has been called in to care for my mother. I am taking Phebe along to do what handwork is left while I sit with her. Quilting can be a great comfort.

Take care, Mayleen

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


More to come soon!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Phebe progress! I've been concentrating on Phebe because she needs to go to the machine quilter soon. I've finished the 80 Ohio Stars and have various borders in different stages. Lots more to do but its exciting to see parts of it come together!  

Meanwhile, Love Entwined must wait its turn. I probably will not be able to do much work on it until late September which will make me at least 2 months behind. I'm hoping it doesn't become a UFO.

Kansas has received quite a bit of rain and some areas are flooding. So far, the worst thing that's happened at our house is a roof leak and the roofers will be coming to fix it soon. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Did you celebrate?

Did you celebrate "Thread Your Needle Day"? I had great plans to stitch but my day took a different direction. Instead I ...

- Noticed the dirty French Door on our deck, wrestled water hose up deck, got water on deck chair cushions, spooked cat who then scratched my hand. Realized door is no longer sealing very well when I came inside and found water all over the wood floor.

- Volunteered to make pregnant daughter suffering from morning sickness Milk Rice "just like Grandma used to make", had to go into town to get a new double boiler two hours before I was supposed to deliver food. Believe it or not, it either turned out "just like Grandma used to make" or its been so many years, we've forgotten how it tasted when Grandma made it!

- Delivered food, bought straw bale and even remembered the tarp to keep straw from attaching to everything in vehicle. Put straw around rhubarb plants. I'm sure the neighbors wonder why the only thing in my garden is rhubarb. Sometimes I wonder too.

- It was hot and humid so I came inside and went to my sewing room where I  felt guilty about Phebe so I trimmed and squared Ohio Star units. Somehow was only able to finish 6 of them but the end is in sight!

However, before I did that ... !

Anyone want to guess what the above is or shall we just say I was out in the sun too long? LOL

Here are the Ohio Stars for Phebe in process. I finished these this morning and only have 14 more to make! After making 66 of them, 14 is so doable.
Yesterday evening, I also began to applique the 6 petal flowers on LE. I guess I did some stitching afterall! 

Until next time, Mayleen

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Thread the Needle Day?

threadday2.gif - 3.1 K

Did you know Thursday is Thread the Needle Day?

I had no idea. Google it. Thread the Needle Day is July 25.

Does this mean that there will be chocolate? I can hardly wait!

About threading needles, I've realized I can't eyeball the thread into the needle anymore so I use my lime green Clover Desk Needle Threader. I've gotten so used to it that threading needles without it is a challenge!

Here's how far I am with the Love Entwined BOM. Some of my poor triangles have hooks on their ends and I'm contemplating redoing them but most definitely only the pointy ends. I hate redoing anything so have to talk myself into it first. I've got 6 1/2 triangles left to stitch down and all the flower centers which are just glued down now. After that, the flowers and borders but I'm trying not to think too much about the border yet. One bite of the elephant at a time.

Yes, the blue fabric is growing on me!

Until next time, Mayleen

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Blues

After spending the last ten days with my mom in the hospital, I am ready to work on Love Entwined. While I sat with her, I embroidered on the center panel of Phebe but am ready for a little break from it and really would like to stay current on Love Entwined.

Sewing/quilting has always been a stress reliever for me but right now, its causing a little more stress in my life. Unfortunately, I am not liking my color choice for the blue triangles around the compass. Even my husband thinks they look too bright. What do you think?

If I use a different fabric, I'd really like to use one of the fabrics from my stash so here are some possibilities. I've already eliminated the stripes. I'd really like to use a stripe but these are too brown. 

The only fabric that's really speaking to me is the upper right hand fabric but I think it may be too dark.

So, I'm open to suggestions. Use the bright blue, use one of fabrics from my stash or keep looking?

Blooming in my flowerbed - Hibiscus - the bees love it!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Yes, I did!

I confess, once I saw it I could not let it be.

Love Entwined BOM - Part 1
This is my first ever Mariner's Compass. Its paper pieced and the flower circle and the ring were appliqued on top. Still need to make 32 circles measuring 5/16" to stitch in the ring. I don't have that size circle template so am looking around the house to see what might work. Part 2 will not be out until July 15. If you'd like more information about this free BOM, go to Esther Aliu's blog. This is her version of a 1790 marriage coverlet made in Great Britain.

I'm not forgetting Phebe! Here's my progress on the right border. The small petal flowers are yet to come plus one large flower and all the embroidery. I think the back basting technique helped me make the leaves tips more pointed so I'll be using that technique again.

For all of you celebrating the July 4th holiday,
have a safe and happy celebration!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Phebe - progress!

I've been working on my version of Phebe lately. Decided I needed to buckle down and just do it and ... well, Jan (the machine quilter) is holding me accountable under threat!

I finished the main applique portion of the left side border and am now working on the leaves in the right side border. I've decided to try the back basting technique which is working better but the small leaves still seem to be pointy in their middle sections. Room for improvement, for sure.

Even though I would dearly love to work on them, the selvage quilts and the Pine Burr quilt will have to wait until I've caught up on Phebe. My mother has not been doing well lately and my quilting time is limited. Hopefully, a medical solution has been found for her and my schedule will return to "normal" soon.

Until next time, Mayleen