Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday Odds & Ends

When we jump from project to project and then back around again, it often feels like {watching} a chicken peck, peck, pecking away. That's the way I like to approach my quiltmaking--little bites. Thank goodness I have lots of lists. They help keep me on track so that my inevitable restlessness will eventually add up to something of substance. The Marsala quilt below currently has all the hand quilting completed, a binding attached and is now awaiting the final hand sewing stage. Which I will do later 'cuz I'm just not quite in the mood yet!
Marsala {An Unexpected Crossroads} ready for binding
All in due time. For over a year I have tried to sandwich and pin two quilts at the same time. It's such a hassle to get help moving the dining room table out of the way and finding that block of time when the whole clan isn't tromping through the room. Next up in the line-up is the scrap-bin tulip quilt and Learning Curves, where I challenged myself to get drunkards path units figured out once and for all!
Next in line for quilting!
I stitched-in-the-ditch in between every 16-patch block and now I'm coming back to hand quilt the quarter circle units. It probably didn't need the machine quilting, but it was fast and easy to do and now I can hand quilt without any pins in the way. This is a large quilt so the hand quilting may take awhile. We'll see how motivated I get!
In the hoop...
After much contemplation, I finally settled on a solution for the blue applique heart blocks that had been shown before. Sadly, they will not be residing with the brown coin units anymore. This idea has completely separated itself into a new project that makes a little more sense. When I distilled all the elements down from the project before, it seemed like the two blocks {blue applique blocks & the coin units} were both equally determined to have their own way. So different directions here we go! I found a classic, ticking fabric to use instead of the coins and a Liberty look-alike voile to use as the cornerstone squares. Together, alongside the blue applique blocks, it starts taking on a much more serene look. Hopefully that doesn't mean boring!
Preparing Blue Plumes project
My rough drawing pattern has been edited and changed so much it's starting to get thin in places, but it served well enough to allow the basic rows to be sewn together. So far I'm leaving them in 2-row sections. This will keep the units small enough to manipulate while I applique the blue 'plumes' into place. Most of them at least! The ones at the top of the quilt will have to be attached after the entire quilt top has been sewn together. Ughh. Hate that. But there's no way around that as the plumes will overlap the seams above.
Units ready for more applique work
In the end I just couldn't discard the 'plumes' or exclamation marks as one person called them. It feels whimsical and fun. Right up my alley and it always seems worth it after the work is done.*wink  So that's the prep work--just a few hours. That's all! Done and all ready for the next phase though, that's the important part. It helps more than most people realize to have the prep work totally ready for the exact moment {or window of opportunity} when our hands are itching to dive in and start stitching. I get tired of a project, look around for the next eye-candy project and you just never know, it could be this one!

I've also figured out the direction forward for the brown coin blocks and hopefully will have some progress on that front sometime next week. It's a constant source of amazement to me that even when I'm deliberately trying to tamp down on the amount of open-ended projects around here, they just sort of happen anyway!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

It's a Wrap!

My goal this year is to have more finishes than great starts. It's been really tough at times as I feel like there's a leash attached to my creativity. But I'm trying. 
Summers End is a finish!
This quilt {Summer's End} was started in the fall of 2015 and was a quick journey to completed quilt top. I had lots of reasons for putting this quilt together, but mostly I was challenging myself to use up some oldy green fabrics. Plus I needed a fast little hand work project. Which meant the initial decisions were made quickly and without a lot of deep thought. Hmm...
Looking so much better in a close up...
So yeah. It is what it is and I can't say that I'm ashamed of it! But I knew it was lacking just a little bit of that 'ooh, la la' factor that gets us excited to keep quilting. I pulled it out of the quilt drawers this spring in anticipation of finishing it up for a young couple in our family. {Very belated wedding gift, but I felt that I needed time to consider the matter of quite possibly setting a precedent?}There was just something about this quilt top that I really thought could be salvaged into something fun. Thus the decision to try 'tying' a quilt once again after about 20 years!
My fantastic helper, in between baseball season and summer job.
Mom! My arms are killing me!! Are you done yet?
In my reading, wool yarn was suggested for ties that balled up rather than stayed stringy. I went ahead and made the purchase and now, after the first washing, I have very fuzzy, frazzled little ties. It's a bit raggedy looking at the moment, but I'm confident after some good use and more washes, this quilt will have little balls of pink yarn to look at. Personally, I think it adds to the fun, young and don't-take-me-too-seriously vibe going on with this quilt.
The green looks different in every light...
It was quite the experience trying to remember how to 'tie' a quilt properly and I made a couple mistakes. The biggest one being that I didn't tie square knots, instead just knotting it repeatedly and pulling on it real tight. Ughh. There will probably be a couple ties come out eventually if the yarn doesn't fuzz up quickly. Oh well! I machine quilted in a stitch-in-the-ditch pattern throughout the quilt and then came back and hand quilted every little basket with perle cotton. This thing will NOT be falling apart with or without the ties!
Trying to re-learn how to tie a quilt
The soft pink colored ties and binding help lighten the entire quilt up, which I felt it desperately needed. In the end I'm quite happy with the soft, loose drape of the quilt and the cozy look as well. This quilt will probably be used snuggling on the couch and it has the look of a something that won't be intimidating to eat popcorn and snackies while wrapped up in. Right?
A true-blue finish!
This is a pattern that looks marvelous done in the antique look such as sharp red baskets with a white background--all solid fabric punch and power. This one is lots softer and comes off very blendy with that floral basket fabric sort of sparkling in and out. It's not a perfect quilt by any means and I could have done a much better job choosing my fabrics. But it's a finish now and honestly, it just whets my appetite to work on more basket quilts. Get ready my friends, it's going to be a baskety summer around here in my little corner of the quilt world!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Let Them Eat Cake--The Long Struggle to Completion

The Mini Cake Stands quilt is finally finished after a rather long journey! It was started back in early 2012 as I just couldn't resist the siren call of making 150 little basket blocks. Obviously. I mean, how cute are they?
Let Them Eat Cake (the mini cake stand quilt)
 After hours of making these sweet, but seriously, tedious blocks, I eventually came up with a quilt top that well, immediately made me wonder what I was thinking. Ughh. It had some good ideas, but mostly just disappointed. So it lingered in the quilt top drawers until January of 2015, when I finally just couldn't stand it anymore and started ripping the entire quilt apart. I don't feel like a perfectionist, but there are some projects that need a second chance. These baskets deserved another try! It took until July of that year before eventually I could settle on a quilt top idea that I thought would work.
Love seeing all those tiny baskets!
 I even included an upside down block in the spirit of make-do'ism. {If that's a word.} It makes me smile. As does the very few blocks with the darkest 9-patch units. They add to the utility look and give a bit of whimsy, an unexpected departure from the sweetness of all that pretty, pretty pink. I also deliberately chose some pinks to be much lighter, helping create a fade-in/fade-out impression which hopefully helps move the eye around the quilt. I love, love, love attempting to creative movement and energy, even in a 'sweet' quilt.
And a purposeful 'mistake'
 A couple months ago I went digging through the quilt top drawers looking for a quilt to gift to my next youngest sister for her upcoming birthday. If you remember, I hate making quilt specifically for people, but generally adore giving away when I feel a need or possibly a connection. This quilt really seemed perfect for her in a myriad of ways. My friend agreed to find time to very simply long-arm quilt it for me by the birthday date. Woohoo! I believe she had it for two months, so it should have been plenty of time? Anyway, things came up, life got overwhelming for her and I didn't even get the quilt back from until approximately 22 hours before the party. Yeah. I couldn't even reach her on the phone the two days before. It was a nightmare. Oh well! Believe it or not, with the help of my daughters taking care of the other birthday prep. I was able to get the binding taken care of, most all the threads snipped and even a few pictures taken!
So pretty!
And I think we totally surprised her! She wasn't even expecting a party, much less a few gifts. You know how it goes when we get older. Birthdays become more about a dinner out and less about the presents and how old we might be getting....
Happy Birthday to my sister!
Here's a picture of my original inspiration, an antique quilt from 'Scrap Quilts-The Art of Making Do' by Roberta Horton. It's one I had drooled over many times and finally decided to make a version of, changing things up as I love to do. I've never been a fan of making a quilt exactly the same as the original one. I prefer to use that original as the spark or the 'seed' and see where we end up. Ha! Sometimes that results in a big fat fail as you know! Nevertheless, one day, with the straggly stacks of recently reclaimed mini cake stand blocks, I took another look at the original quilt. Which elements drew me in the most and could I possibly capture them? It was an interesting process and one that honestly, I thought I had failed at {even the second time around}. There's just something incredibly challenging about trying to duplicate the spirit of a quilt without making an exact replica. Its a wonderful exercise and I urge everyone to try it at least once!
The seed of an idea....
On another note, before the actually quilting, the quilt top itself just looked sweet, but sort of bland and static. It was satisfying but well, uninspiring. I thought maybe it was one of those quilts where the maker just hit the jackpot on having all the perfect elements together in one quilt and I was out of luck. Imagine how completely amazed I was to to see it morph into this lovely, take-you-back-in-time sort of quilt with just a little texture from the simple stitching! Ahhh... It made me so happy! At this point, I just have to call it a success, totally worth the time and effort of tearing it apart and giving it another go. What else can I call it when in the end, it was so terribly {surprisingly} hard to give away? I wanted this one for my very own, and no one was more surprised than me.*wink

Linking to Sew, Stitch, Snap, Share!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Giveaway Winners and A New Quilt Top!

A very big thank you to everyone who linked up their Quilty 365 quilts or quilt tops! So exciting to see 19 wonderful versions all together. The Random Generator determined that Wendy Caton Reed from 'The Constant Quilter' is the winner of the first giveaway! {I included the names of 3 quilters who finished quilt tops but didn't have a blog to link up to.} Congrats to the second giveaway winner, Karen from 'Karen's Korner'! as well.
Loving these blocks!
On a more personal note, I finally got the quilt top finished up for my Rising Sun blocks that were giving me oodles of trouble. Several were puckered so badly in places or 'hilly' in the middle, that it seemed impossible to go further with them. But after all that work? Crazy to throw them away.

A new quilt top!
Being an intrepid soul, I came up with a plan to cut them in half and use them for border work in a totally different layout than originally planned. I marked the center line and then sewed very close on both sides. After that, I sliced through the marked line. Having the the edges of the quilt stay-stitched will {at least partially} secure the blocks from unraveling while engaging in future quilting. It's an offbeat solution, but using them way helps mask the glaringly, obvious mistakes by demoting them to a secondary position in the quilt. Plus, cutting down through the middle helps stretch out that poofy area that happened from my careless stitching. In my pie-in-the-sky dreams, hand quilting will eventually smooth out the worst of the worst and then washing and subsequent crinkling of the quilt will make it all look charmingly make-do.
Rising Sun blocks now in the border...
Honestly, I am absolutely thrilled and yes, giddy! with the way the alternate applique came out! It's so sweet in a look-at-me sort of way. Totally holding its own with the more complex rising sun blocks! It was so odd though, to work backwards and then be scrambling to fill in the middle of a quilt. So challenging and yet, zero pressure to speak of. I mean seriously, how much worse could it get? I literally had almost nothing to lose from this experiment! So ironic how the challenge of working with a big fat 'oops' can cause us to be more invested in a quilt project too. In this case, it ended up being so much better than the original plan 'cuz I just totally went with my gut and played for the pleasure of playing. Hey, why not try this? And the results are more 'me' than ever expected. Maybe the  'me' look is a big helping of mistakes with a generous side of 'fix-it'. Hmmm... Something to consider?*wink

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

17 in 2017 and Other Misc. Stuff That I like to Chatter About

Don't forget to check in with my Quilty 365 Linkup and Giveaway. Lots of great variations and creativity on display! Also, I have EQ7 software for Windows that I've decided to sell. Shoot me an email if you're interested and we can discuss the details! So... there's been a little progress on Meredithe's 17ufosin2017 challenge. I'm lagging a bit behind for linking up, but wanted to record my forward motion.
Another border for Folksy Flowers
Folksy Flowers {above} has the next border all planned and prepped. What you're looking at will have to be appliqued as I don't like to sew fiddly little blocks together. Much easier to hand stitch! It looks so simple, but actually represents at least an hour or two of contemplation and fabric play to come to a final decision.

All of my alternate Rising Sun blocks are now appliqued and ready for the next phase. There are 12 in all as I quickly determined that the 9 initial blocks were not enough. Sometimes I have to laugh as my quilts always seem to grow and expand at rapid rates, quite beyond my control it seems! Bed size {or close to those measurements} just make me happier than most little lap quilts that won't even properly cover our toes.*wink
Looking at the alternate blocks for Rising Sun quilt
And yes, you've seen this border work already for the Improv. Woven Basket quilt. I haven't progressed much past this yet, but honestly, this is the project that I'm dying to work on. Every single time I get to work on these leaves, it just makes me smile. But... there are other things in the queue and these borders are {so far} working as a great carrot and stick approach!
The border work for Improv. Woven Basket quilt
Then, there's a totally completed, get-to-cross-it-off-the-list quilt finish! Woohoo! My Big Broken Dish quilt, otherwise known as 'The Creative Process' is DONE. After a conversation with my husband, I ended up gifting it to a longtime friend. It just seemed like a good fit. Hard to ignore those urgings!

So, at the beginning of May, I have managed to cross 7 out of 17 items off my list. Not all were actual completions, but the ones that weren't, were brought to the 'quilt top' stage which was the goal for about half of my projects on the list. Real progress. And what's funny is that it's not a whole lot different that what I've been doing for the last couple years. The thing is, I'm a lot more aware of the projects that seem to be languishing. Ahem. Could it be because I'm going to totally ditch them in the near future? lol  So very tempting!
The Creative Process quilt is finished!
And in other news, the city museum peoples approached me about putting my Fire Quilt in the museum for an extended period of time. There had been talk last year, but this time they wanted it asap as the 'firestorm' exhibit was finally coming together and there was a tour planned for the County Historical Society. The museum {which is in the converted old firehouse} only had a small room for the new exhibit and the quilt rods available were too short. Thinking outside the box, my husband and one of the museum volunteers suggested hanging a new rod directly onto the wall in the meeting area, immediately to the right of the exhibit. It ended up being a wonderful place to showcase the quilt as people come around the corner before they 'see' it and so the impact is magnified. Plus it brightens up that drab corner considerably!

I had lots of pains of anxiety, but weathered through it while frantically trying to find a good hanging sleeve tutorial. Both of these tutorials were of great help to me and to my relief, the quilt hung very well from the pole--no pooching out at the rod or having the quilt sleeve poke up over the top sort of issues!*sigh   {A big thanks to my husband for reminding me make two sleeves with a gap in the middle for the bracket hardware!} One long sleeve would have been such a disaster! Oh, and they wanted me to type up a legend for the quilt. Yeah. Uh huh. It ended up being a two page, abbreviated story instead and I was a wilted, wet tissue afterwords.
Things Will Never Be The Same on display at the local museum now!
But it's done now. Another chapter in the life of my crazy story quilt! I heard it was very well received by the Historical Society so that's something. It's just all so interesting as I really am generally very low key about my quilting adventures to the people I live around {immediate family and Internet blog posts aside}!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Quilty 365 Quilt Top Linkup and Giveaway!

Remember the year long Quilty 365 journey? So much fun and yet, surprisingly tough to get through there towards the end. Wowsers! I have to admit, my daily inspiration fabric became weekly {or sometimes biweekly} and always came with a rapid pileup of stitching to catch up on.
One month of circles!
But we made it! 366 days of circles including the Leap Day circle. Once I completed the quilt top, it got stuck in my quilt top drawers and hasn't made a peep since. I've seriously thought about pulling it out later this year and getting it to a true-blue finish, but there are lots of projects in front of it for now. We'll see how the year plays out and talk later!

I have been amazed and inspired by all the wonderful participation. So humbling. Love all the creativity shown and how it showcases many great quilting personalities! It made the whole year better, getting to share and see how others were coming along with their own quilty 365 journeys. I quite enjoyed all the quirks and personal touches! Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who stuck with this simple project. It may look like just another circle quilt in a world of many, but we know better. These particular circle quilts have heart and soul.
Finally, a quilt top!
Somewhere along the way I promised a giveaway for the die-hard circlers who made it through to the bitter end. It's a special quilt, especially if you stitched through all the ups and downs of the seasons. Lots of memories wrapped up in this project already!

So here's the details for the first giveaway: If you have a quilt top finish {a flimsy or a totally completed quilt is okay too}, then please link up below so we can all admire it! We want to see your amazing layout so we can drool and shake our heads, wishing we would have thought up something so good. For all that have something to link up, you will automatically be entered in the drawing for the first giveaway, which is a $30 gift certificate from Connecting Threads! It's a great store where you'll find backing fabric, batting, thread, notions and even books etc. Also included in that giveaway is your choice of the two prizes below {the Perle Cotton thread and needles--perfect for hand quilting OR the DMC embroidery thread and needles--wonderful for applique work}. Please state your preference in the comments below. One person will win both the gift card and one or the other of the secondary prizes pictured below.
2 Balls of #8 DMC Perle Cotton Thread, 1 Ball of  #12 neutral, variagated
Valdani thread and 1 pkg. of Fons & Porter Utility needles
The second giveaway will go to a name drawn strictly from the comments. That prize will be either the Perle Cotton thread and needles OR the DMC embroidery thread and needles--whichever remains after the winner of the first giveaway gets their choice. This means it will be open to everyone, and though it's unlikely, the linkup winner from the first giveaway could even win the secondary prize too!
3 spools of 50 wt. DMC Embroidery thread and 1 pkg. English
Scarlet Today applique needles
Sometimes we just run out of steam on a project and that's perfectly okay. I've done it many times myself. As a thank you to all who started the project but ended up running short of a quilt top, please feel free to add a second comment to increase your chances to win in the second drawing. If you want to continue with the monthly linkups, they are now happening over at Daisy and Jack!

Linkups are open to quilters with a Quilty 365 quilt or quilt top only. Comments are open to all! The giveaway will run for a week and then I will email the winners with the details. If there are any problems contacting the winners then I will simply draw another name. Please be sure there is a way to properly contact you!


   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Finally Some Improv. Progress

It's improv. time of the month again! I have three projects in the works, one of which I showed progress on the other day. It's down to the applique border work for my Improv. Big Basket quilt {made out of strings} and the quilt top probably won't be done till next month. Then I have this wonderful Patchwork Doodle I started back in January {pictured below}.
Starting Patchwork Doodle
It's Sherri Lynn Wood's Score #4 in the Improv. Handbook. A total departure for me color-wise and a complete mind puzzle as well. Sherri recommends improv. piecing various 'rows' of similar blocks and then starting a conversation from there. From everything I've found online {and in the book}, most people start breaking the quilt down from the row layout almost immediately. Other than sewing my two skinny purple and light green rectangle rows together {hiding in the middle behind the funky circle blocks} and then chopping them into bits, I'm still sticking with that initial row presentation thus far.
Starting to find a connection
After I sewed those new bits into longer, narrow columns, then I sandwiched them right between the circle blocks. It's a little more contemporary of a look than I am usually drawn too, but I like how they suddenly give those really skinny dark red strips at the top and bottom of the quilt something to resonate with. Thinking the quilt needed more orange, I found a leftover long strip of orange/white check fabric and then after putting it on the wall, thought, hmm... maybe if I sew some half square triangle blocks? And yep, that was the thing that finally got me feeling a personal connection to the quilt. Me and checks. Checks and me. It's just meant to be! Before that I was not feeling much love, honestly...

But then I had to play with whether or not the hst's needed to be at the top and bottom of the circles and/or if they looked better with a break between? Things like that. And also, it was after the hst's made an appearance that I could have {possibly} been found digging through my applique parts and pieces tote for bits of applique to test out. Something that just sort of happens by spontaneous combustion occasionally around here....
Decisions, decisions.....
Loving the quarter log cabin blocks lurking about the edge of the quilt {probably more than any other element in the entire quilt}, I decided to cut a million strips and make many, many more log cabin blocks. Definitely enough to surround the whole quilt. The rich, saturated look of those blocks seem very needful at this point in the quilts progression. That super, light green background fabric really plays havoc with whole tone of the quilt, plus I'm just not accustomed to working with these particular shades of yellow!
Loving these strips!
Ahh.. comfort zone, where art thou? And of course, I completely went beyond my design wall and had to start pinning finished blocks straight to the hard-as-a-rock sheetrock. Which by the way, is not as easy as it looks. The paint must be made of ceramic or something. I have got to do something about that wall before I lose my mind.
And now I can see the quilt potential more fully...
Anyway, with some strategic cutting and sewing yesterday, I was able to get the middle portion of the quilt ready for applique work. Next up will just be a matter of sewing the rows together and making it all fit together properly. Always fun stuff working with the larger units, but I have a floor and a kitchen table. lol
Ready for applique...
So then, onto the other AHIQ project: the coins. This is something I had drawn up months ago, but could never quite nail down the details of how to get started. When Ann presented the first coin challenge, I thought 'of course!'. In this particular project, I wanted something a little different for my 6"x8" sashing strips--more than just the traditional one-fabric thing. I dithered around for awhile over whether or not it fit in with a true 'coin' idea, but then became convinced that it was okay.

I have several older quilts made out of these same black/brown/gold/red tones, something I used to buy a lot of. It's really been a puzzler to me how to use some of these older fabrics up now that my tastes have changed so very much. Using them as the base of a quilt {here in these fun coin sections} seemed like the perfect solution. After that was finished, it took me almost no time at all to applique the largest piece of my proposed secondary blocks. And that's where I could finally get things up on the wall for a proper look-see.
First Coins audition
Is that secondary block thing timely or what? hehe  But of course, no matter how much I thought this idea would look wonderful in my own imagination, the reality is oft times different. Queue the disappointment. The blue plumes idea is just a bit too fussy. In the pic below, I took off the extra three circles from under the applique piece and stuck one little circle over the top of several others {will not be able to have plumes on the topmost applique blocks so am looking for a solution there as well}.
Playing with some details
It's all just a bit too blah. So disappointing as I was envisioning something serene with an element of cozy, not straight up boring.*sigh  A bit of contrast color might be needed? This madder red print has an energy in the print without being too shockingly different and it definitely pops. I kinda like that.
Trying to find a spark
 And I like this bit of red/cream plaid added as well. It has a folky charm that is always appealing to me. But believe it or not, I never, ever intended for these shapes to present as 'hearts'.  It's almost too much!
Veering off in a different direction
Those heart shapes were supposed to be part of a much larger picture! I decided to take the additional applique thing onto the blue heart blocks one step further, by adding a green leaf. So primitive and country, which I do like, but well, I finally found my limit. Absolutely a NO. Just too cutesy for words. And so now I find myself questioning every bit of it. Time to strip everything down and start over from scratch. Maybe even let things simmer out of sight for a few days.
And finally deciding enough is enough. Time to start over!
The thing is, I have to make a decision about the applique before I actually sew rows together. Any overlap applique sewing becomes very complicated the larger the sewing surface. If the quilt top can be sewn into say, three sections, then it will be much easier to manhandle while I'm doing the applique work! Yep. It's a real conundrum at this point. So glad I sewed the coin sets together though as that's the part I still find very interesting. There is a deep fondness within for make-do piecing that I'm actively trying to find ways to incorporate into new quilting projects. It's a challenge. We'll see what another month of play can produce!
Linking up with:
  • Kaja and Ann for AHIQ #20
  • and also Linda for Snip, Stitch, Snap and Share because the timing is just too perfect!

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