Thursday, October 29, 2015

Auditioning fabrics

Hello, everyone.

I have noticed that a lot of people who quilt online seem to start with a particular fabric design and use its brandmates to make a quilt. They make a lot of lovely quits, table toppers, and so on by this method.

My method comes out of the scrappy-quilt universe. I pick a general theme: unisex baby, in the case of the mathematical tesselating quilt, and the general idea of the piecing and then start auditioning fabrics to join the project.

Fabric auditions for the mathematical quilt looked like this, in part:
I was in love with the peacock feathers and wanted something bright (to stimulate Baby's mind) and cheerful, that would work for either a boy or a girl.

I didn't use this boat design, but it was cute. The other color selection ended up in my Cafe Press shop on a couple of items.

Settled on tessellating design instead. The blue X marks are where the tessellation doesn't carry through. This stage was followed by several days of on-floor placement tests before the squares were labeled with their places in the grid and sewn together.
Quilt in use, some several months back.
Now I'm auditioning fabrics that will play well with the bright, cheerful Michael Miller Modern Basics charms I received. (Thanks, folks!)

These little blue birdies play nicely with the dots and houndstooths in blue. Possibly I could use plain black for the other color and call it victory. Or be brave, go for springlike colors and use pink and yellow.

The secondary colors play fairly well together, and then the only issue I find is visual compatibility in the pattern sizes. (Too much similarity in scale is tiring to look at IMHO.)

More playing in the secondary colors. The red is a quasi-solid. The purple is an actual solid.

Trying out a square design. I notice that making the small triangles for the top of the heart reduces the overall square size considerably. The red and white, though, go well with the small hearts pattern and the white on white fabric. Maybe I'll do the primary colors in hearts like this. The dots play better as the bottom of the heart than the houndstooth. Must consider more!
And that's where things are with finding the best use of the lovely charm squares. I am strongly leaning toward using dots and coordinates in the hearts and maybe doing something zigzag or pinwheelish with the houndstooths. The direction change on the heart on the right is a little bit dizzy making otherwise.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Braga, a brief side trip

Hello, everyone.

We caught a bus to Braga in the downtown square of Barcelos before the breakfast places in that city were even open. (It happens a lot on the Camino, that the pilgrim is ready to roll out and there is no coffee or other morning stuff available. We just rolled out anyway and had something when we found a place open. This day, we found breakfast in downtown Braga.)

When we got off the bus and started walking toward the tall buildings from the station, we heard drums and noticed that the streets were full of people in groups. About when we got to a coffee shop to eat, we discovered that the city's Marchas de Sao Joao was stepping off (9 am) and so we snapped a couple of pictures of the parade.

These were just two of the many marching units--two bands, of course, because bands are cool. There were also folk-costumed marchers and giant paper-mache puppets. The whole parade took about forty minutes or so to walk past the coffee shop.

One of the many magnificently-carved churches in the old city area.

The typical sandwich of the area. Francesina has a couple of layers of meat, a couple or three layers of bread slices, fried like  a French toast, gravy poured over, and this one had also a fried egg and an olive for garnish. French fried potatoes on the side. The Portuguese French Fries were uniformly good.

Wall of relics at the Bom Jesu shrine at the outer edge of Braga. This was in a different room than the giant, elaborate crucifux that is famous--both are in the Crucifixion shrine at the top of the very long staircase.

A segment of the long staircase of the Way of the Cross, showing the stone mosaic designs in the pavement.

View of the upper, allegorical staircase with its statues of prophets, kings, and virtues. The chapel of the shrine is at the top. This is a very "aerobic" sight to see!

Statue ready for procession in one of the churches in downtown Braga. They were doing up the flowers for the statues while we were there.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Vila do Conde

Hello, everyone.

Returning to our series of pilgrimage posts, the end of our day of walking on the boardwalk along the lovely beaches of northern Portugal ended at Vila Do Conde.

Vila do Conde is close to the beach, but not really spread out all along it. The place we stayed was on the plaza, which was decorated with symbols of different parishes. It turned out that this particular Sunday was the day of their Marchas de Sao Joao. DH got right out there to take a picture or two--yours truly was in the middle of washing dirty clothes.

Procession for St. John the Baptist in Vila do Conde on Sunday afternoon.
Ancient Monastery in Vila Do Conde area

DH views the Roman aqueduct ruins in Vila do Conde.
The weather that day was cooler than it had been, and it rained on us a little.

Y'all may remember comments about the great beauty of plants in Portuguese gardens. This flower escaped! It's a calla lily and it's growing out in the middle of trees.

Your humble blogger with the Barcelos chicken statue.

View of downtown Barcelos. Note another chicken on the building.
At Barcelos, at the Capuchin church of St. Anthony, we were blessed after Mass by the priest. This was the first pilgrims' blessing we received on this trip. One of the servers, a young man studying to become a Capuchin, spoke English. We were so grateful for their kindness and friendly welcome!

We stayed at Barcelos for two nights, as we planned on a little side trip here: a bus ride over to Braga.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Table Topper--Now I understand why they're so popular

Hello, everyone.

Being mostly at home and inside this past weekend, because of the rain quantities, a little quilting seemed to be the plan. The post at Spider Web Table Topper was interesting, but of course I thought I knew better how to go about things. So I was inspired but did my own thing. It was certainly challenging that way!

Instead of just cutting triangles out of a block of same-sized strips and assembling the whole, I started with a hexie and added wedges. And got all full of myself and used different-width strips to boot!  It was a learning experience, but it came out okay in the end. The colors are fall-seasonal, of course.

I didn't realize, while picking out fabrics, that the large-print you see at the outside edge of three wedges was going to insist on being the star of the show. The red binding is probably what tied it all together in the end, since there is a little red in the hexie as well as in the other Look At Me print. Quilting was a simple spiral in purple thread, which also helps to tie it together colorwise. (There's a purple ribbon all over in that one print.)

And I understand why people like making table toppers now: they go together fast and allow you to test out ideas and color combinations without doing a huge project that takes over the house and your life. It also allowed me to use up some more stash!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Downwind from the storm

Hello, everyone.

Yesterday we were in the large area that fell downwind from the famous hurricane Patricia.

The waterline in the rain gauge is around 3 inches. Well, that was where it was somewhat later when I tiptoed through the puddles to check it.

This morning we found that the lemon tree had bowed a limb onto the walkway and we had to walk around the whole line of citrus to get to the driveway. After church, DH got out the tree saw and cut it away.

In a little while I will post pictures of the fabric auditions for the Michael Miller Modern Basics charm squares. There are a few fabrics in the stash, besides solid black, that will go with them. Though the squares don't go well enough together to be in the same quilt I don't think--the very geometric color-plus-white means they need other friends alongside. Otherwise the design would get too busy.

Right now I have the primary colors plus Christmas Green in one pile and the other secondary colors in another pile. (Turquoise, violet, orange and a yellowish gold.) But that waits for me to do final choices on fabrics, and also to make decisions: mug rug sets? Baby quilt on spec? Table runner?  Leaning toward baby quilt on spec right now--it gets a lot more fabric out of the stash--but we'll see. Mug rug sets could be good, too--a four piece set in a colorway, say, with a spring theme if it can be carried off, would be good gifts.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Dress is nearly done

Hello, everyone.

The fancy dress is nearly done.

Here is a picture of the slip, now applied to the belt.

The beads that looked a little bit gray when they were floating in air on the bit of organza are now pearly white sitting on the ivory ribbon.

This has been a first for me, and it has been very peaceful and pleasant to work out.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Matosinhos and the Boardwalk

Hello, everyone.

Passing along from Porto, where we stayed for two nights, and picking up with the walk, we rode the bus to Matosinhos. (Reading the destinations on the glowing light board while hearing them read aloud by the automated announcer was always a trip. There was no correspondence that we could see between the letters appearing and the sounds heard. Though the pilgrims who already had French language skills did a lot better than we did at following what they heard!)

We got to watch a ship go under the moving bridge at the port. 

One of the many beaches--they were all coves like this one, separated by rocks and little peninsulas.

This is the boardwalk that we walked for most of the day on. The cool breeze from the Atlantic operated like an air conditioner, taking much of the heat out of the bright sunlight.

Some of the boardwalk was still in process. (Note the path alongside.)

Ancient salt works, either Roman or older.
This was the day we saw a McDonald's. That was all we did, though, because it was around 9 in the morning and the sign clearly said that the McDonald's would be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.! No coffee, breakfast, and facility for you, traveler! Fortunately, even though they open somewhat late, there are a lot of coffee shops along the Atlantic coast.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Porto, some notes

Hello, everyone.

It's been a little while since the pilgrimage was the subject of a post, so I'll start by reminding y'all that the last post was on the little village of Grijo, just outside of Porto.

One of the days that we encountered Fatima hiking pilgrims was on the way from Grijo into Porto. We made sure to tell them about the albergue in Grijo!

The River Douro, a busy waterway even though we weren't close to the port. Left side, Vila do Gaia, right side, Oporto.

Cute little cable cars let you ride down and back up the hill in comfort.

View of our apartment in Se House, below the cathedral.

Diorama of the Marchas de Sao Joao. This was in the courtyard of a former convent that had been founded as a foundling home. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Bias can be my friend

Hello, everyone.

I was working on R's dress, as I have been for a while and not quite done yet, and got into a pickle. There is a lace yoke on the dress, and when I tried to hem it the lace refused to cooperate. It was a bumpy, hideous mess is what it was.

The neckline had stretched out badly when I tried to do a simple narrow hem. Note to File--don't do narrow hems in lace on bias edges!

The edge of the lace was not suitable at all for this purpose, too small of scallops and too steep of a curve in the swoops of little tiny scallops. So I went wandering about online and found a lady who showed the method of bias application she learned from a strict home ec teacher in school. Her method does not have any bias showing on the front! Win.

And then I got to cutting bias strips out of our poly organza for the dress.

A piece of scrap organza, ready to cut into bias strips. The strips were pieced to make a longer bias strip and then pressed.

These were pressed to create a crease, the way bias tape always is, and then pinned into place on the dress.

I am please to report that this is much better than the earlier edition. And I think it will also be much less scratchy to wear.

It's hard to tell here, but this one turned out better. Note that this time the start point is the armholes, not the neckline! The shine you see is the organza underlining behind the lace.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Hello, everyone.

Today in the mail I received a lovely gift from Michael Miller Fabrics: a charm pack.

I fanned them out so you can see the variety of colors and print designs--there are more in the stack that don't show.

I can't wait to see what they turn into: a baby quilt? a set of mug rugs? a table runner?

In other news, I have done a little bit of beading, testing out one of the peyote designs I drew a little while back.

A half-done heart unit. I have in mind to make a bracelet out of this.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The ironing board was getting tired

Hello, everyone.

As you may know, the sewing and the quilting means a fair amount of using the ironing board. The board pad was getting thin, and sometimes I could see the grid of the metal when ironing clothes. Not good.

So I went over to Walmart and got a piece of cotton batting.

I cut it to the shape of the old pad, pieced it so it covered the whole area and zigzagged the pieces together, and laid it onto the metal under the old pad. Then I put the old cotton cover back on.

We should be good to go for a while now.

Oh, yes, the cotton batting in the package is being sold to make potato-zapping bags. And I did make a potato-zapping bag with cotton muslin and Warm and Natural batting and cotton thread. It goes together easily, but you do have to use all cotton in the construction.

And now I don't even know where it is. It might even have been given away--DH usually zaps his potatoes without any wrapper at all.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Pinterest led me to something neat

Hello, everyone.

I opened Pinterest this morning, just for grins, and found a pin with "advice for seasoned quilters" which led to a blog by a lady who loves quilts but says she got discouraged trying to make one. (Well do I remember the one attempt at hand quilting! And one of these days I'll get it down and finish quilting that one by machine, so DH's Grandma's squares can come into their own.)

So I read her post, about a quilting book for beginners and busy people who want to make a quilt, and found a video with a really cute way to make four-patch squares quickly--and for a bonus when you do it you get two squares that coordinate in color. Which makes final layout so much easier! is the site where the video sits. It's a book review and the authors put videos together which are on the blog page.

I think I'll try this four-patch idea. It will make the part of the game that looks like this:

Layout planning for the Mathematical quilt.

This was an early stage of the Red Quilt.

This was a simpler follow-on from a Log Cabin heart quilt that I don't have any pictures of--a giant nested heart. It was a wedding gift.

go a lot easier, I think.

So I can get to this stage faster:

I nicknamed this pattern Ruby Tuesday, because it started out as the tile pattern on the restaurant floor. Which I was so thrilled with that I was sketching during the meal!

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Hello, everyone.

It was mentioned yesterday that the village of Grijo is close enough to the large city of Porto that people can live in Grijo and work in Porto. We met a lady who does exactly that. (She has to leave about 0500 to get in on time, but she gets to live in her longtime family home.)

We left bright and early, as usual, and headed down the road into Porto.

At the parish church in Grijo, a Pieta. The church is inside the old monastery grounds.

Creative parking!

Can't get lost here!

Easily the best Roman road surface we have ever walked on.

There was a path around the big rocks, but it was twisty. People walk their dogs on this path. The dog we saw had a cone on its head while walking on the leash with his boss.

Neat looking building, in the town across the river from Porto: Vila do Gaia, I think it's called.

View from a park just before the bridge. 

Stopping on the bridge into the city.
 A gear note: the long-sleeved Columbia fishing shirt was surprisingly cool in the heat. The hat was necessary--portable shade! The black tights were a flop: too tight around the knees. About a week later I tossed them. But they did prevent the difficulties caused by sweat-soaked crotch seams rubbing on tender skin. If only they had fit better at the bottom edges, they would have been perfect for walking.
View from the window of our apartment for the two nights in Porto. The building is the cathedral. There is a stone stairway, obscured by the window structure, that leads right to the porch and also to the tourist office.