Monday, December 21, 2009
I ended up deciding to use a flame-inspired motif, but I turned it on its side so it looks more like a wood grain (at least I hope), as I don't want anyone misreading this as a "flag burning" motif. Not the intent at all!!! Here's a close up of the quilting through the stripes (I stippled the blue banner and stars):
Ultimately, I think the modified flame worked well, as I could free-hand it and didn't have to work in rows or change the scale from the upper to bottom rows. (I did do much practicing, both on paper and small sample pieces.) The most challenging aspect for me was figuring out how to move from one knot/flame to the next.
Here's a picture of the completed quilt before I wrapped it and shipped it off to its intended recipient:
Sunday, December 20, 2009
We were in Australia and New Zealand from November 14-30. Both countries are beautiful and we'd go back in a heartbeat as there's still so much more to see. Highlights were most definitely the outdoor activities: snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, hiking a portion of the Routeburn Track from Glenorchy, going down (and UP!) the Giant Stairway at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. We almost got used to the opposite-side-of-road driving, seeing deer farms, and the possum fur-merino blend clothing and accessories. We took WAY too many pictures - on the order of 1,600. On Friday night, we found some time to narrow them down and posted a little over 100 on my Picasa album.
While there are most definitely some amazing Australian and New Zealand quilters and quilt shops, we didn't have time in our schedule to get out to visit them. My one stop at a sewing center in Cairns was to purchase a thread cutting pendant because the Brisbane airport wouldn't allow my sewing scissors through security and I had to forfeit them as I wouldn't check my backpack (luggage was already checked). I was rather ticked and pointed out that the American security hadn't batted an eye at them, the New Zealanders had measured them and ascertained the blades to be short enough to fall within legal range, but it didn't make a difference. They were "too pointy" for an Australian domestic flight. And even were I tempted to purchase fabric at the sewing center, the prices were exorbitant compared to what we're used to paying here, prices like $22/meter for Moda lines, $50+ for jelly rolls, etc. The conversion rate isn't that favorable, believe me!
I did find some quilt design inspiration, particularly among Maori carving designs. Check out these traditional designs. Wouldn't they be perfect for quilting?
I'd taken along a bit of handwork to keep me busy, but didn't get as much done as I'd have hoped (I got caught up in a couple of books on the flights, etc.). However, I did make some progress on 1-1/2" hexagons using Daiwabo fabrics:
I'm not really sure what I'm going to make with these, but it's nice to have a small grab-and-go hand project for those in-between times or to work on in the car. I'm thinking of using it sometime as the background to another design, but really it's all up in the air. And I'm sure it's likely to be years before I've done enough to amount to anything.
I hope all of your holiday preparations are going smoothly and you're able to find time to relax and enjoy the season!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
The photo is rather washed out, but the flash and lighting just wouldn't cooperate with me tonight.
It was very easy to make this pattern; the most time-consuming part was having to redo the snowflake because the fusible just didn't want to play nice when I went to remove it from the first snowflake I cut out. So I had to cut out another, with slightly better results. Honestly - I don't know what my problem is with fusible of late. But I had problems with the "joy" text in this project as well and in September with the text on the Punkins 4 Sale quilt too. I've heard fusible can "go bad" and that you can get a bad batch, but I've used three different purchase of fusible with not ideal results. Fortunately, things went better with the Ginkgo quilt. Was that just a better batch of fusible? Or because those were batiks? I don't like the fraying I seem to be experiencing and don't know how to solve it. Ideas?
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The pattern uses charm squares, a background fabric, and fusible grid. It's really not difficult to make, but as you can see, I can manage to have two of the same grids come out at different sizes (I intentionally made my runners smaller than that which the pattern called for). The top one in the photos is made from 3 Sisters' line Glace; the bottom one is made from April Cornell's Nostalgia line. I have another one all fused from the Glace line and just need to sew the seams.
I'm not fully convinced that using the grid is any faster than if I had simply pieced them all using normal techniques. But it's always worth trying something new and learning a new method! I'm hoping I might be able to finish these as Christmas presents, but am not sure how I want to quilt them. It seems like too much work to put a design element in each square, but I'm not sure an all-over meander is really what I'm looking for either. I have time to decide: while I might be sewing at retreat this weekend, I won't be machine quilting on tables in a resort - too painful!
The pattern is called "Scrappy Flag," and it's designed by Glory Daze Pattern Co. The pattern features an eagle in the blue section, but I won't be adding it in, as I don't honestly care for it. I've had the pattern forever and thought I'd made enough of them - this is the 7th one of these that I have made (I definitely didn't want to see this after a few Christmases ago when I made 5 of them as gifts) - but I had a request to make one as a birthday/Christmas present. I'll have to quilt this after I get back from vacation, but I've already got the backing fabric and a lovely gold thread that I think will work really well. I'm still undecided on the quilting pattern, but have a month or so to figure it out. Any ideas or suggestions?
Monday, October 19, 2009
At our guild meeting mid-October, I received blocks back from members to piece into a quilt we're donating to the school where we met for quite a number of years, up to this fall. The quilt will be donated to the school so that they can use it in their holiday auction in December.
I'd passed out packets in September with instructions and a consistent background fabric. I was pleasantly surprised to see that nearly all of the blocks came back and were usable (I just had two that I couldn't use due to size or being totally warped out of shape), as the meeting had been crazy and I hadn't really been able to document who had returned blocks to me. In the end, I had to sew only one block in addition to the two samples that I'd showed at the September meeting.
Here's the top (my apologies for the crummy photo. Poor Ben was doing his best to stretch out and make the top viewable):
People's notions of red and green certainly vary - there are some oranges and pinks in this quilt, as well as odd greens - but it certainly emphasizes the scrappiness of the quilt. Dropped it off at the machine quilter's yesterday and hope to get it back and bound before heading out on vacation.
If you're interested in the Craft Fair and Silent Auction, more information is available on the Fairview South School's home page.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I love how this quilt turned out and can't wait to go sew on the binding now (my apologies for the weird angle on the photo - it's what you get when you hold the camera above your head to shoot something on the floor). I'm sure I'll finish this up tonight - those darned Yankees are still in post-season play and you can't miss Yankees or Red Sox post-season games in this house ... even though I don't really follow any NL teams that made it, I'll root for whomever makes it to the World Series.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
While she tackled that, I decided to arrange and sew together the blocks for the Zen quilt I posted about a few weeks back. I'm really loving the completed top and am toying with the idea of adding a border. I'm undecided; it's a nice size as is, but I tend to like borders on quilts. What do you recommend??
At Material Matters in Cedarburg, I found the Dressed to the Nines pattern by Bloomin' Minds. I doubt I'll have this done for this Halloween (unless I finish the charity quilt for guild miraculously quickly), but there's always next year. I also picked up Karen Montgomery's pattern to take make a table runner with a striped fabric and a 60-degree ruler (it's called Easy Striped Table Runner), and the Prairie Blossoms pattern by Tea for Two (seen here). I'll do it up in some slightly brighter colors than those pictured, but it finishes at a nice size (16"x18"), and I probably have enough scraps at the right size that I might not even have to cut separately for this.
I'd not been before to My Sisters Quilt Shoppe in Sheboygan, but would definitely go back. Mom and I both loved the kits they had for Sherri Falls' pattern book Frosted Memories, which features Holly Taylor's new line of the same name. Mom grabbed the last kit for the Christmas Morning table runner, but I was able to pull yardage for it and also picked up the kit for the Cinnamon Twist topper. Both projects wouldn't take too long to make, but I also have this serious conundrum: read about Australia and New Zealand before our trip there ... or sew. I should do more of the former, so these are probably projects for next year.
At The Sewing Basket in Plymouth, Mom picked up two Nativity panels (we purchased backing fabric later), and I snagged Cottage Creek Quilts' pattern Warm Winter Wishes (shown here), which is more applique than I will usually attempt, but I so love this design (and it's on the small side at 44" square) that I'm willing to give it more of a shot. I really like a number of other patterns by this company, having previously purchased their Joy pattern and fabric to make it.
At Bigsby's, I purchased a collapsible container that Mary and Sandi and others have used at retreat as a catch-all. I know I got something else there too, but it totally escapes me at the moment.
And finally, at Patched Works, I selected some batiks to make the Falling Ginkgo Leaves quilt from Laurie Shifrin's book, Batik Gems; bought some fusible grid for some simple table runners from charm packs, and bought a large yo-yo maker.
We'll see how soon I actually get anything done with any of this... it wouldn't be called a stash otherwise, would it?
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
An added benefit of driving up to the Fox Cities is an annual visit to Primitive Gatherings quilt shop in Menasha. This year I had a completed "punch card" to spend, which gave me $20 of free merchandise (which of course I exceeded in no time). I focused on pulling fabrics to make a quilt based on Sharyn Craig's book, Half Log Cabin Quilts. Here's a photo of the fabric I pulled - I love these colors and think they'll look great in our living room. Can't wait to make this quilt and am hoping that I can incorporate sewing a few blocks here and there into the flow of sewing for my other projects.
The pattern (Punkins for Sale) appeared in the September/October 2005 issue of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting, designed by Avis Shirer of Joined at the Hip. I completed all of the piecing a year or two (maybe three?) years ago, and then it sat, waiting to have the letters appliqued and for the final layering and quilting.
I'm not entirely pleased with the applique - must have had a bad batch of Wonder Under, as it didn't want to stick to the fabric and ended up fraying a bit at the edges (contributing to the folk art feel, right?) - but done is better than perfect! Happy Fall!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
So I reached for one of my bins of quilts that I cut out over the summer and decided to work on the Zen quilt, designed by Amy Walsh of Blue Underground Studios and appearing in the February 2009 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. I was drooling over this quilt when reading the magazine on the Cape at Christmas and have been dying to make it (dying so much that it's taken me 9 months to get to it, LOL!). At any rate, here are some of the blocks (they alternate with solid rectangles when sewn together). I have managed to finish all 32 pieced blocks, in between everything else going on.
The fabrics were all left over from this quilt that I made earlier in the year. Hopefully I can piece these together soon; I'm also committing myself to working on a few fall-themed projects that have been languishing unfinished for a couple of years.
Here's the finished quilt:
And a close-up:
Hopefully the quilt will be well-loved and I don't find myself again with another three babies born in the same month, all deserving of quilts!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
See how the flowers were noticeably cut in half on the bottom left corner? Ultimately, I decided it was going to bother me too much, so I ripped that part of the seam and sewed strips back together at 90 degree angles, being careful to select an area where the seaming would be less noticeable. While it doesn't totally fix the problem (I didn't have the fabric to try to cut an identical strip and seam it together for a perfect match), it does mask it and make it much less noticeable, at least until I sewed on the third and fourth sides, which don't match to the ends of the other strips and I don't think ever could.
The moral of this story: sometimes fabric that doesn't seem to have a "stripe" to it does. I wish I'd have picked a more all-over type of pattern, but what are you going to do? It's still cute and I managed to get it layered, pin basted, and approximately half way quilted last night!
Monday, August 31, 2009
I showed the quilt a couple of weeks ago sans outer borders. If you’re a very careful observer, you might notice that the blocks that make up the border do not continue the same directional alternation as the blocks within the quilt. In the pattern, those exterior blocks were all cut and designed to continue the alternation, but the book did not instruct you to lay the interior part of the quilt out beginning with a certain orientation so that the pattern would continue into the border. Of course I started it out with the wrong orientation, and at the point I realized there was a problem (after I had pieced all of the exterior blocks and sewn them together in rows), I really didn’t see the point of going back to change it or cutting and sewing new blocks for the borders. I don’t honestly think it distracts that much, but had I known in advance, I would certainly have laid it out so that the pattern could continue.
I quilted the quilt with large swirls and the occasional star using a red-orange-yellow variegated thread which I think worked really well. However, I do wish that the variegation had been irregular rather than at regular lengths throughout the spool. It just would have been a nicer overall effect, in my opinion. Something to think about the next time I purchase threads!
What’s that got to do with quilting?? Well, nothing, but I think the tag line is appropriate for Aurifil thread as well. You see, I piece pretty much exclusively with Aurifil thread. And every time I put on a new spool, I worry that I’m going to run out soon and usually pick up another spool or two of thread right away. But over time, I've come to realize that the thread always lasts longer than I think it will. So, the last time that I put on a spool of Aurifil thread, I marked down the date and all of the projects that I’ve pieced using the spool since that time.
So… drumroll, please. That spool of Aurifil thread lasted me from January 27 until last Thursday, August 27. Seven months!! My first thought is that I have not done nearly enough sewing in that time. And it may be the case that I’ll never have as much time to sew as I wish, but the list of projects pieced with that spool is pretty impressive:
- Checkerboard Challenge
- Sugar Candy (a finished top that I realize now I never really blogged much about)
- Hot Flash
- Indigo Girl
- X Rated
- Sleepy Baby
- Fleece Charity Quilt
- Just Before Dawn
- 300 Parade
- Roman Stripez
- Crazy for Baby (post later this week, I promise)
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The pattern's from the Me & My Sister Designs booklet Crazy for Baby for Leisure Arts, and fabrics are from their Clementine line. Hopefully I can pick up some thread on Saturday and have this quilted by the end of the weekend!
(In case you're wondering, baby quilt #2 just needs a label; hopefully I can post about it tomorrow.)
Monday, August 10, 2009
I made the mistake of putting away all of my bright fabrics thinking I'd cut the entire quilt, but I need to go back to cut pieces for a pieced border to go all around. I'm sure it'll go together quickly once I get a bit of time to work on it.
The pattern is Roman Stripez from Jan Mullen's book Cut-Loose Quilts. It's an older book (2001) and my copy is autographed because I had the pleasure of taking a class with Jan at IQF Houston about 5 years ago, I think. While I love Jan's patterns (and her accent!), I find the book a bit frustrating in that finished block sizes weren't provided so that I could check my work as I went along. But making the blocks all wonky - simply stacking, slicing, stitching and sewing - is quite freeing.
Time to go see if there are any quilt shops in Austin that I should check out.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
It's very nice to actually begin to sew together some of the units. I still have plenty of paper piecing to do - don't get the impression that I am ANYWHERE close to being finished with this quilt - but it was a nice break from the paper piecing to sew together some of the units. Here's what I sewed today, which will be one of the corners of the quilt:
And a close-up of the same (if you look closely, you can see I haven't sewn the long horizontal seam yet)
It's a bit slow going because loads of pinning is required, but it's so nice to see it begin to come together. I'm definitely liking the quilt (this one's for me!) and figure I still have plenty of time to finish it to enter in the guild's show next March.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I finished tacking down the binding on Grant's baby quilt on the drive out (the truth comes out). Big brother Alex clearly ached to open the package and was the helpful big brother in showing it to Grant, laying it out on the floor, and identifying all of the animals for us.
I really liked how the quilt came together in the end. I won't be rushing out to add loads of machine applique patterns to my to-do list, but I did improve with this quilt, for certain! I meandered around all of the animals with a light blue thread and then went back and meandered over each of the animals with a clear thread. I'd considered using the blue thread over everything, but am happy that I chose not to do so at Ben's urging (he'd actually suggested not quilting them at all, but it became obvious that was necessary, which was what I suspected to begin with).
Compared to the baby quilt I made Alex, this one is ginormous; hopefully Alex doesn't develop a complex over it. I'm certain it's going to get lots of love. Here's Tina, Alex and Grant with the quilt shortly after opening it.
And just two more photos (taken on Route 15 between Bryan and Defiance), because only in Ohio...
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Here we are with Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder. Doesn't he look thrilled?
I was pretty surprised at how many men were there with their significant others (but I didn't see any men "stitching"). And everyone around me seemed to be pretty into baseball (rattling off statistics, etc.). It wasn't too difficult to both stitch and pay attention to the game and I'm glad that I was able to make some progress on the binding on the baby quilt (although I made it more difficult by forgetting my regular needles!! I managed to make do with some very tiny beading needles I bought in a workshop in May and which happened to still be in my bag).
Kristin worked on knitting a sweater for herself:
There were a couple of Brewers-themed quilts behind one of the tables and I took photos for inspiration because some day I think I'd like to make up some sort of pattern and surprise Ben with one (while he reads this blog, I bet I could still make a quilt in secret!). This first one is by Amy Stolowski of Milwaukee:
and this second one is by Donna Andrews of Mukwonago:
All in all, a very nice night. I look forward to doing it again next year.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
I must say that most of the fabrics out there for kids do very little for me, especially those that are created with boys in mind. But these fabrics were just too cute to pass up, and with all of the little boys popping up of late, I figure there will be plenty of sewing for them in the not-do-distant future. I don't know what destiny these might have - and I might have gone a bit overboard, buying 10 different 2-yard cuts - but it won't go bad and I'm envisioning pillowcases, quilts, and other fun projects.
After a long day of work yesterday (9.5 hours), I managed to muster the energy to machine applique the last of the animals (the zebra), sew the blocks with the alternating 9-patches, and machine applique the elephant's trunk.
Here's where the quilt stands as of this moment.
I'm hoping I can put on the narrow solid border, then the pieced border, and get this baby quilted today! It helps that there's a Brewer's game this afternoon to help keep me entertained (after that, it might be some podcasts or audio books, as I'm tired of the crummy TV options). And if all goes according to plan (does it ever?), I'm hoping to be able to sew down binding at the Stitch 'n Pitch game on Wednesday night. I'm taking Kristin for her birthday (last month); we've never gone before so aren't quite sure what to expect... While the top is somewhat on the large side, I think I can keep it folded so I can work on it manageably in my lap without having it drag on the potentially nasty floor.
At some point, I'll need to add on the eyes too... I figure that since Alex didn't get to play with his baby quilt, this one will likely be hung too, so buttons shouldn't be an issue. And I trust buttons will look better than my attempts to hand or machine stitch something approximating the correct proportions for the eyes.
As I want the finished quilt to be somewhat of a surprise, I probably won't post any photos until after the quilt is presented. While it might be safe to post photos as I don't know how much Tina and Mark read my blog (or how much they would likely read it this week with the new baby!), I'm going to err on the side of caution. I'll definitely share pictures when I can!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I have, however, made some scattered progress on the Thistlepod quilt, as well as several baby quilts, and while I missed the last Thistlepod class, I learned that I misunderstood the homework to be done for that class and I actually have everything done for class #3. How cool is that! For once I'm not doing something last-minute!
Here are some of the units I've been working on:
I hope you're all enjoying your summer and finding time for quilting amidst everything else too!