Sunday, July 26, 2015

Borders



I finished most of this top a couple of weeks back. It has been hanging around on the design wall ever since. I have been pondering borders for it. Black was too heavy and there is no more of the black on white polka dotted fabric to be had. I like the orange stripe with flowers; it's Regency Daisy and although that little piece is all I have, there is more available. After that, I will try out some black and white prints for the final border.

I have been busy making cream and oatmeal and off-white half hexies by the zillions it seems. They will be the background of our guild's 2017 raffle quilt. I am up to 144 now and hope that will be enough.

Next up is a narrow Roman shade for a friend. Her front door has a small sidelight that she would like to be able to cover at night. The space is 43" x 14" - an odd and small enough size that nothing it available commercially. I have finally worked out in my head how to approach this. Now all that remains is the execution of said plan. I am hoping that there will be enough of the nylon cording left over from the Roman shade to make some piping for the Disappearing Dresden piece that I made in a class with Susan Cleveland a couple of weeks back. If not for the desire to sneak in a bit of piping, that piece would already have been finished.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Olé!



Wednesday I was able to take a workshop with Susan K. Cleveland. First off, let me just say, she is so much fun! A fabulous, engaged teacher. The lecture the evening before was great, with tons of quilts to show her various techniques and patterns.

The workshop was to make her pattern, "Disappearing Dresdens." I have named my project "Olé." It reminds me of the swirl of a Flamenco dancer's skirt or a matador's cape, hence the name.

The Dresdens are pointed at both ends of the wedges. It's a bit of a fiddly process, but Susan's techniques, tips, and tricks make it manageable. Eliminating the traditional appliqued center circle frees up the design possibilities.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Folk Art Flag



Yesterday Jim Gatling held a workshop for our guild, "Folk Art Flags.' This is mine. I used tumbler shapes to make the stripes because I have tumblers on the brain thanks to Bonnie Hunter (see sidebar on right). Also the most recent copy of Block magazine published by Missouri Star Quilt Co. has a patriotic quilt on the cover made from tumblers. I used a technique learned in a Bonnie Hunter workshop last year to make the wonky star. Jim's technique for making fabric from strips was put to good use to make the blue background for the star.

I consider myself to be an intermediate piecer, with over nearly two decades of quilting under my belt. Nonetheless, I take almost every class that my guild offers, plus ones from other guilds when they have room and the subject matter appeals to me. It is a good thing to have as many tools in your tool belt as possible. I have learned something in every single one, Even if it's things I will never do!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Irons in the Fire

As in "many" irons in the fire. I have lately been on a tear with piecing. After a bit of a hiatus (I had several compelling books on my Nook), I am back to sewing every day. Last year, after a visit to our guild from Cindy Felts of Piece 'n Plenty Quilt Guild in Rolla, MO, I have been inspired to make small "doll" quilts. Cindy has a nice collection of vintage small and doll quilts, plus a number that she has made herself. She gave us a very interesting trunk show on the topic last spring. These small quilts are kind of like potato chips - it's hard to stop after just one. The first one I made is so far my favorite:


It's a Jacob's Ladder with some of my favorite cheddar fabric. The fabric is Prairie Cloth and I order it from Mary Jo's Cloth Store in Gastonia, NC. My supply was running low, and yesterday Mary Jo's was able to ship me a bolt of it - 15 yards. Ought to last a while. Prairie cloth is a nice fabric and is relatively inexpensive at $3.99 per yard. Order a bolt and get a 20 cents per yard discount! I love a bargain.


Doll Quilt #2 is a Little House quilt. made entirely from stash, including the batting and backing. After ditch quilting the border and sashing, I hand quilted it. It is a steep learning curve with hand quilting and me, that's for sure. Half of the battle is accurate marking, where I fell down mightily on this project. In places I didn't even use the same template to mark and didn't discover the error until the top was finished. Oh, well. Live and learn. Moving on.....


Doll quilt #3 made use of the cut offs from the Cultural Fusion Rail Fence quilt top I made a few months back. Again, the cheddar fabric made an appearance. I couldn't help it; it was made for the colors in these little wonky four-patches. The quilt is sandwiched, but not yet quilted. I am toying with the idea of hand quilting this as well. I certainly need the practice. The idea of quilting through all those seams is daunting, however. The four-patches finished at 2". There is a seam nearly every place you would place your needle. We will see. Maybe machine ditch quilting with some big stitch perle cotton hand quilting.


This is the latest - Doll Quilt #4; the broken dishes blocks finish at 2" and are going to be made from my small stash of Japanese "taupe" fabrics. Taupe is in quotation marks because as you can see, they are not all actually taupe. Daiwabo has quite a range of colors, albeit all are fairly subdued (for me) in tone.If your local quilt shop doesn't stock these, One World Fabrics has an excellent selection. One local store here in St. Louis has a nice selection of them, but I have ordered from One World Fabrics to add more variety to what I have. Their customer service is quite good.


Next up is this baby quilt, made in the lavender/purple with gray colors requested by the mother-to-be. It is an adaptation of a Kaffe Fassett pattern in his "Simple Shapes, Spectacular Quilts" book. The baby is due in September and my thought is to hold this one back until the baby has arrived. I have already made and gifted a more utilitarian flannel quilt to the mother at her recent shower. It is free motion quilted with spirals in the snowball blocks. I quite like the soft colors in this one, made for a baby girl.


This last quilt top was a several-years old UFO. With my recent experience making triangles and hexagons with Gyleen Fitzgerald, I felt I could again tackle this one. However, laying the blocks out in rows of half hexagons does not necessarily make this easier to sew together. There is still a big technical issue in getting the points to match up. It looks okay from a distance but there are several places where the the joins could have been more elegant, to say the least. Without Gyleen's "dog ears" to help point the way to precision piecing, it becomes quite a slog to get those points to match up. Again, live and learn. 

The top was started with a different technique and so it was finished following the pattern directions. It is "Jelly Roll" by Fig Tree & Co. The black borders are being auditioned. I thought the small black border would look good and contain the exuberant center. It is too heavy, though, even in this reduced scale. The pattern calls for a 4" inner border. What is showing is a 2" strip to finish at 1.5". The large white on black polka dots I really like, but maybe not here. This one is going to have to tell me what it needs. Right now it's not talking. It will stay up on the design wall for a bit while the old wheels are turning in my head.

What's under my needle today? More of these:


Yes, more of those darned half hexie blocks in beige, beige, and yet more beige. They are about 5" in diameter and will be the background of a raffle quilt being designed by one of my quilting friends. The border "gold" fabric is in reality not anywhere near that dark. My photo editing software changed it, otherwise it is practically invisible. It will make a very subtle overall honeycomb pattern. They will be be overlaid with small colorful hexies forming some sort of floral arrangement. The completed idea is in my friend's head; the rest of us are simply executing it. Blindly, I might add.

I volunteered to sew up the background pieces in the interest of consistency. These require concentration and precision in cutting and sewing to get them to all be alike. I dread sewing them together, but fortunately that will be someone else's headache. 49 full hexies or 98 half hexies are needed for the central field of background. I have 54 already complete. My goal is to get the rest done by Sunday when we are meeting for our Stitch and Bitch social. Not sure I can get there by then as all day Saturday our guild has a workshop and I am taking it.

My neighbors directly across the street are in the process of selling their house, which is now under contract. Now begins the trail of carpenters, lawn people, and radon detectors. Today the workmen are jack hammering the concrete front porch steps into chunks. The steps looked fine to me. It will be semi-interesting to see what will replace the old steps. The noise is a nuisance and as my sewing room faces the street, if I want to sew I am going to have to endure it. Actually it's not much quieter anywhere else in the house as all the windows are open. We are experiencing unseasonably cool weather in the 60s in July! In the Midwest no less. 

Long post, - time to quit procrastinating and get down to sewing those beige blocks.







Thursday, July 2, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!


Searching through the folders of photos on my computer, I found three quilts that are Fourth of July appropriate. The one above is still a flimsy and not yet quilted. it is destined to be donated later this year as part of my guild's QOV project.



This quilt is also not quilted in the photo, but has been quilted since the photo was taken. It was gifted to a WWII veteran last September when Kevin the Quilter was on hand to do the honors. The pattern, "Strip Twist", is one of Bonnie Hunter's free patterns.


The LeMoyne Star is my favorite. It is completely finished after waiting in the time out box for several years. It is a pattern by Alex Anderson and it had to wait for completion until my piecing skills advanced to the level that I could tackle Y seams without embarrassing myself.

I hope that you can find a brass band concert, fireworks display, or just a group of friends to hang out with this holiday weekend. At some point, I hope you take a few minutes to reflect on the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of this great country. Happy Fourth, everyone!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Butterfly Migration



I finished the quilt top that I started in a workshop with Gyleen Fitzgerald earlier this month. I am very pleased with the way it turned out. The "butterfly" seams, Gyleen's way of conquering the dreaded Y seam, worked out well, though at times, I will admit, I got lost in the jungle of seams where six come together. In the end I sorted it out and got everything to match up for the most part.


In a crazed period of cleaning, I found the cut off pieces from my Cultural Fusion quilt. I sewed them up into wonky four patches and then set them into this little strippy  quilt.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Score!



In the past week I have come into quite a bit of quilty largesse. First off, my name was pulled at our guild meeting on Friday and I won a stack of 12" churn dash blocks. They had been made by members as part of a display at our quilt show in March.

On Tuesday evening another guild held a social evening at one of the member's homes. The purpose was to distribute the stash of a much loved member, Darlene,  who died last year. The ladies who "curated" the stash did a wonderful job of sorting and bagging everything up. There was a lifetime of wonderful goodies from a talented quilter. No junk at all. Whether the ladies disposed of the junk ahead of time, or whether there just wasn't any, it was a marvelous thing to behold. The large dining room table, side boards, chairs, floor, and deep window sills were piled high with magazines, books, fabric, blocks, rulers, rotary cutters, and partially completed projects.

As we came in the door, we received numbers. I was lucky enough to get into group #1. There were five groups and we rotated through, picking out something each time. We went around four times or so until there were only a handful of small pamphlets left. What did I walk away with?

Bernina piping foot, 6" x 2" Creative Grids ruler, a bias tape making tool, two large packages of fabric in neutral colors, a decorative Singer sewing machine tin, and (my favorite), a baggie of 40 hand pieced 5" nine-patch blocks in red and white. Our guild's AQS appraiser was standing next to me and she pronounced them vintage, circa 1920. SCORE! I am formulating a plan for using them, incorporating some of the ideas and suggestions made by Gyleen Fitzgerald at our meeting last Friday.

I purposely chose the fabric packages of neutral colors because my stash is lacking in those. For inspiration, I have been poring over books that use only neutral colors.  The idea is to make a quilt with only the fabrics from Darlene's stash. There is a nice range from dark to light, so it will work. I counted up the yardage and it comes to 12.8 yards. Wow. Thanks, Darlene.


I have been working on making blocks from last Saturday's workshop with Gyleen Fitzgerald. I wish now that I had chosen background fabrics with more contrast. However other people have told me they like the subtlety. Don't know if they are just being polite or actually mean it. It would look better in my opinion if you could actually tell that these are tumbling blocks. Live and learn.


This photo is "just because." The peonies were extra pretty this year. These pale pink ones remind me of the tissue paper flowers we used to make in grade school.