Wednesday, October 24, 2012

autumn colors

It's that time of year when every minute of the day the colors in the trees seem to be getting richer and more intense. There are a lot of oranges, reds and yellows setting them off in high contrast blue skies with billowing clouds. Washington's best weather is normally during the month of October. Usually it is very pretty with these rich blue skies and big puffy white clouds sailing overhead. The temperatures are mild making everything more comfortable except the cooler nights sometimes means more aches joints and bones. Still it is a great time of year for most people with lots of festivals and exciting things to do and a renewed energy that comes with the beginning of a new school year soon to turn to holidays.

This last Sunday I was ready for a walk to the open house. It was in a kind of landmark of our neighborhood. The remodeled "round house" down the street was built about 100 years ago. Renovation after gutting and an addition to the back which is also round it is now full of light where it used to be all covered up by a big conic roof. It opens out to the small and well preserved garden that added a small lawn between brick paths and mature evergreen shrubs.
Newly wed neighbors, Dan and Peter and my downstairs neighbor Kiley with her pals all arrived at the open house the same time as my visit. Everyone was excited to see this glamorous new/old home and there was a continuous flow of people passing through the many rooms and open spaces. They saved almost all the trees on the lot including about four 40 foot  holly trees and one enormous oak tree that stands less than a foot from the front porch it's towering over the house on the east side.
I took a few pictures on the way and in the house in addition to some of the other walks this week here are some of the autumn views in Brookland.
The front door of the round house remodeled and open to the public; oak tree on the left, holly on the right and rear.

Owner of the round house looking to sell it now came out the door as I was trying to capture the porch ceiling reflections. 

looking from the door past the original gingerbread shingles  at the holly tree trunk and 10th St. NE 

view of the open kitchen/living and dinning room space on the first floor overlooking the garden to the rear

central stairs go up to the 4 bedrooms and two baths on the second floor under a skylight occulis  that fills the well with light
the view of the roof top sky light over the hall stairs

this small bedroom felt like a tree house 
the next street over from ours is lined with these great red maples 

neighbor planted coxs combs along her fence and that was a dramatic color discovery for one walk 

the delicious red maples are blazing this week 

orange-yellow berries on new curb side trees 

Virginia creeper is such a great color everyone should have some it's native! 

Turkey thicket field across from our apartment building hosts a big mature red maple 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Progress and a visit home

 After a few hours of blind stitching the edges of the Williamsburg Fences quilt all it needed was a label to complete the project.  I dug up a square of green fabric and did a crude embroidery lettering to put on the back. I chose red thread because  the stripe on the reverse has a tiny red stripe between the greens.
I went out to Manassas for a few days. I used this quilt while I was visiting my Mom. It was chilly at night watching TV. I am happy with the results and might make another only bigger next time. I still have a lot to learn about machine and hand quilting.

edges finished and the label applied for Williamsburg Fences lap quilt 
 Then I set to work finishing up triangular side pieces for the blue and white diamond plate quilt. I found a nice baby blue polka dot fabric to run along between the diamond blocks to give it a grid and make it a little bigger so now I think it will fit a double bed when completed with a boarder. .
peek at the diamond plate block quilt top
 I planted a couple dozen tulips and hyacinths in the Japanese red maple bed then added some chrysanthemums to the bed where begonias were looking sad. The daylily pots are there to keep the leaf blowers from wrecking the new mums.
Mom's spring bulbs planted with some chrysanthemums 
 Keith sent home a big bunch of purple lisianthus which were green when he got them and they bloomed out to fully perfect flowers. They fit nicely in the pot from "olde town Manassas"
purple lisianthus 
purple lisianthus in the dinning room with the rooster motif
Time to think about getting back to the Oranges and put some more effort into my Seminole stripes and strips since the leaves outside are full of sunshine and inspiration as the autumn colors begin to show their full color here in DC!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bustling October

This has been a busy time of year as it usually is but I was astonished how many things were going on that I could not get to because of some climax on October 13th. The two big events I did attend were The DC Modern Quilt Guild's meeting at NGA's Sculpture Garden and my good friends Peter Montgomery and Dan Vera's wedding at the Thrugood Marshall Center. I got to do show and tell and enjoy a visit with 4 quilters in the garden from 10-noon and stitch a few stitches on my Williamsburg throw quilt and show them my bigger quilts in process. Then they showed theirs and it was just warm enough and very quiet down in the gardens where they are beginning to build the ice rink for skating that opens next month. Then I was home for lunch and packed up the 12 lovely mason jars of roses and garden flowers Keith arranged for Dan and Pete's wedding. I delivered them and got to participate in the wedding by tying a ribbon around their hands with all the Lavender friends and family and then enjoyed the picnic theme pot luck dinner and huge delicious wedding Cake made by Chris the baker! I think the plastic ants he brought and Dan's grass table cloths were really fun and made the picnic theme come alive with none of the real problems of out door events.

Pictures of the quilts and wedding are in my collections here:

DC Modern Quilt Guild 

Peter and Dan's Wedding 

Things I had to miss included, Peter Wood's Art Soiree in Middleburg VA.
Mid-City Artists Open Studios, Washington DC
Sketch Crawl Internationale's quarterly sketch crawl in DC with Urban sketchers...
There was more but we can not do everything. What a splendid life of plentiful joys.\
Hope you got to do something wonderful this October weekend the best time of year in Washington DC to do almost anything.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

walking foot

walking foot on the machine

a white plastic part of the foot catches the needle screw and rises and falls with the needle. That lifts the teeth of  foot to pull the fabric under the needle on top, matching the action of the lower feed dog teeth. 

walking foot 
New walking foot attachment arrived last week and I got right to work on the small green and white Williamsburg fence pattern quilt. I ripped out all the quilt stitching I did at the meeting of the DC modern quilt guild meeting in September using the flat foot.
I decided to do a test swatch and quilted a  pot holder square with the walking foot before I began on the quilt. it worked really well!

Then I added a bunch of new safety pins to the quilt to secure the layers. Then I began quilting the bigger project.  It works, it moves along so much better than the flat foot did. The walking foot pulls the fabric on top with teeth just like the "feed dog" does on the bottom under the foot. They move along in unison under the needle sewing very smoothly. The thick fabric, batting and backing is a fat sandwich of materials to pass under the needle of the sewing machine. It still needs to be basted together before sewing and I tried the safety pin basting trick. I was disappointed they didn't work perfectly but this was my first try using them. I bought a bunch more to make sure I had them pinned in about every six inches. It looks, as Keith says, kind of punk rock with so many safety pins.
quilt top with safety pins.

detail of the quilting with safety pin basting 

back striped side of the Williamsburg fence quilt 
Next comes the tape on the edges and some hand blind stitching to hold in on the back side... and this one will be done very soon. Then I can move on to the next project and practice more quilting on another small quilt. I know now that I am not ready to do a large quilt with this machine quilting technique yet. I hope with practice I will be able to do some very nice work on a full bed sized quilt. It's much faster than hand quilting as I expected. Thanks for loaning me your Singer sewing machine Mom, as you see the walking foot fits your Singer too!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

on the flip side

possible layout of blues for backing 

I have been working with Seminole strips the past week. The first, and my favorite strip, is the blue and white from my stay on the Chesapeake Bay. Now that I have the Dresden plate quilt top done I need a backing and I was thinking of using an old medium-dark blue sheet, (on the left in the picture above)  just plain and simple as it's back but that isn't big enough alone. It needs a little more. Which made me think how nice that blue strip of Seminole would would look on a large field of blues. I think it might be kind of modern like some of the big simple designs one sees around on the Internet. Today I measured and have begun to dream up a second Seminole strip to cross the first one and give my Dresden plate quilt back a cross or stripes of two designs. Mixing designs and fabrics up is the fun part of making quilts for me.
Dresden plate quilt top on the queen sized bed

Earlier I laid the quilt top on the bed to see how it fits and as I hoped, it covered everything. It measured approximately 88"across x108"long. That is 5x6 blocks 18" inches square minus the quarter inch seam allowance.  We can see above it fits and it is plenty big enough to cover the bed. Now I have to wonder how am I ever going to quilt this big thing on my tiny vintage Singer Featherweight? Clearly first I need to do some practice sessions with the new walking foot attachment and a smaller project to get the feel of how machine quilting is done.  The other version of Seminole with reds is on the design wall waiting for some more inspiration at the moment is is just not looking appealing to my eye. Warmer colors may be what I need for the next project to balance out the blues.
Seminole strips and stripes on the felt wall.