Sunday, June 29, 2008

Another Trip in the Way-Back Machine

Since it's almost Independence Day, I thought I would show you one of my patriotic quilts. This one is from 1987! Made with muslin, homespun and the ubiquitous pin dot fabric that was available then, it pretty much screams when it was made.

I didn't use a pattern for this quilt, but made it up myself. I researched what dimensions a flag was supposed to be (which is really a proportion of length and width) and came up with the size strips I needed. I really did use 13 stripes in the correct way (starting and ending with the red stripe). I used a cookie cutter for the heart pattern and machine appliqued the hearts on. I did one wonky thing, and that was to piece the blue homespun for the flag field without regard to the plaid.

A few years after that, I knew a little more about folk art. I decided my "flag" was too wide, so I just chopped off the extra, and rebound that edge. Very daring for me at that time!

Sorry this closeup is fuzzy, but my camera didn't like to focus on that plaid. You can see my actual hand quilting!

An even closer closeup! I was pretty good at that machine applique then. Don't know that I could do that well today.

This 'Sunshine and Shadow' Amish quilt is the first one I made, and was made for my Mom. This is from 1985.
I'm really proud of the cable quilting on the border on this quilt. DH and I drafted it ourselves! I used some quilt book that told how to do it. It was really hard to get the cable to go around the corners evenly and then space evenly on the edge. It took us quite awhile to get this right, and I'm not sure it would have been possible on a rectangular quilt. At least not for us. DH is a trained draftsman, and this was tough for him! We just about wore out his fancy drafting eraser on this! I think I still have the paper pattern for this border somewhere. I'm also not that crazy anymore!

Again, more hand quilting. These fabrics for the stripes were cotton, but I think that the black is a cotton-poly blend. And I used a poly batting which is too poofy, but it was easy to quilt through. However, quilting with black thread on black fabric is really hard on the eyes. I needed to do this one only in the daylight!

Another closeup.

And here's a picture of the back, so you can see my lovely hand quilting. I don't hand quilt anymore because of arthritis, so I really treasure the few quilts I have that I hand quilted.
Maybe you can see that I embroidered my name etc. on the back of this quilt. That was the only way I knew to "write" on a quilt at that time. When I chopped off part of the flag quilt, I chopped off most of my embroidery.

Anytime I get the quilts out for photos, the cats must investigate. Shade always wants to get under the quilt. Dunkel always wants to see what Shade is doing. This one was taken while I was trying to photograph the quilt.

Then DH put the quilt over Shade to keep him out of the way while I photographed the Amish quilt.

This, of course, drives Dunkel crazy. He MUST see what's under that quilt, because it's VERY EXCITING! This makes Shade very grumpy. After a session of wappity-wap with the paws and some pouncing by Dunkel, Shade gets disgusted and leaves. Works every time!

The quilt is Dunkel's, and he finds a loose thread on the quilt sleeve to get all worked up about.
Life is hardly ever dull here.
I think I'm about to meet my goal. I'm almost done with this post, just as the sun is coming in the window. It's 90 + degrees today, so I want to go to a cooler room when the sun gets in here. I will spare you my whining.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Step Into My Way-Back Machine....

My Irish Chain quilt, the first "real" quilt I made, is also a cautionary tale (which I'll get to in a bit).

Way back in the early 80's, I took a quilting class in Adult Education, after my first attempt at making a quilt taught me that I had no idea what I was doing. The teacher had me hooked the first day as she showed us her collection of antique quilts! I drooled over those quilts, and wanted to have them. I knew I wouldn't be able to afford to purchase antique quilts, so I decided that I would make my own!

Towards the end of the class, after making blocks by hand and by machine, and learning all about 4-patches and 9-patches, etc., etc., I figured out pretty fast that my sewing machine was going to be my new best friend. Then we got to make a quilt!

I decided on the Irish Chain pattern and proceeded to cut strips. Now, this was looong before rotary cutters, accurate rulers and all the other wonderful tools we have today. I made these strips with templates cut from poster board, marked with markers and laboriously cut the strips with my scissors. I don't think they were too accurate, but it looked good to me!

When it was all together, I basted with thread (not pins) and proceeded to try the actual quilting stitch. I wasn't too good at it, so I did "stitch in the ditch". At this time, we lived in Southern California and it was summer, meaning HOT! So I put the quilt on the dining room table, aimed the air conditioner under the table to blow on me, and quilted! I didn't have a hoop and the middle part of the quilt is a little lumpy. I figured it out eventually and got better at the tension. I never did get good at using a hoop and always preferred to just hold the quilt.

Now the cautionary part of this tale is all about color fastness. This quilt was navy blue fabric, medium blue with a white print and a white with blue print. I hung this quilt on the wall over our bed for many years, but never in direct sunlight. It looks terrible now due to the fading. The navy blue looks very dusty and pretty icky. You can see in the above picture the difference between the binding on the wrong side and the navy squares on the front. They don't look like the same fabric at all! This is the worst I've seen a fabric fade. You can even see that at the lower edge, the back of the binding faded from the light bleed-through around the edges of the quilt when it was hanging on the wall. Now, I try to not leave one quilt up too long and to rotate my displays. The sun in Washington isn't nearly as intense as the light in California, and my quilts will probably fade a lot slower here. At least I hope so!

This is my Purple Paws quilt. It was started many years ago, approximately the late 80's. My quilt bee was having a block exchange, and I picked this pattern because it is one of my favorites. Some of these blocks were made by friends that have since passed on, and that makes it even more special.
I learned another lesson with this quilt. In fact, I think I learn a lesson with every quilt I make! Anyway, this one was a lesson in how fabric styles/colors will cycle. After we had the block exchange, I was intimidated about finishing this quilt. I had never completed a quilt so big, because I had only done doll quilts and wall hangings up until this point. And, being a block exchange, the blocks weren't all quite the same size, and I didn't know how to deal with that. So, the finished blocks went in a bag and I stalled. And then I forgot about them.
After a few (read: "many") years, I decided it was time to finish this quilt. Well, there were no purples available that "went" with these blocks. There was nothing that even came close! These blocks were mostly done in the muted, country colors of the late 80's and those colors were not the popular colors again for many years. Finally, I found some purples that worked! It took almost 15 years to be able to find a dusty purple fabric.
So, I've learned that I need to at least buy the fabric for the borders at the time I get the rest of the fabrics. Or make scrap quilts! If the quilt is all scraps, the border color isn't as critical. I hope I can remember this lesson for the next time. And, as far as all the blocks not being the same size, the ones that were the largest and the smallest went on the back of the quilt!
Here's a few of my favorite blocks in this quilt:

This block is not perfect. However, it was made by a dear friend who hand-pieces. I decided to leave it just the way it was, and it's one of my favorites! And, it's not the only "humility" block on the quilt! The background isn't really that yellow - it's more of a cream, but I couldn't get it to show well, despite multiple shots.

These pictures don't quite do justice to the quilt. Even in daylight, purple is very tough to photograph and have it come out a true color! (I tried to "fix" the color with the photo editing, and that made it worse! I didn't use those pictures.)
I found something fun on the internet the other day, and I thought I would share it with you. Hallmark (yes, THAT Hallmark!) is having a contest, and we get to vote! The cards are submitted by regular people with photos and captions.
The first one is "Your Funny-ness" and you can vote every day from April 14 through August 31. (That would be one vote on each day.)
The second one is "Your Pets" and you can vote every day from March 3 through September 14. (again, one vote on each day) (ed.: this link is fixed now!)
I think these cards are pretty darn clever and pretty funny too!
Now, the gratuitous cat picture, also from the Way-Back Machine. This was Shade, at least 2 years ago. No, that quilt isn't finished yet. It's still in blocks, and even the blocks aren't all done yet. Someday....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Room to Move!!

Progress report:
The picture above is what the "quilt studio" looked like on May 27th. It was pretty crowded in there and that darn armoire was in the middle of the room. Not so much fun for working in there.
Well, after getting out boxes and boxes (I think I've lost count along the way) of fabric that's been folded and stored on the shelves, I could finally shift enough stuff to have DH move that armoire!
This is what the studio looks like today. Still messy and crowded, but I have room in the middle of the room to move around! Yay!! I even vacuumed the floor (some). You can see that I still have plenty of boxes to go through. And that pile of plastic bins needs something done with them. Some of them are projects, some are fat quarters awaiting a new home, and some of them are cut strips and squares, also needing new homes. You can see that the folding table that the sewing machine is on has become even more buried in stuff. It may be in danger of collapsing, except that the giant box of quilt batting, pillow forms etc. is under the table. Dunkle is mad at me. That was his favorite box to sleep on, and it was the highest box in the room. (You can see it behind the armoire in the first photo.) He could do the "king of all he surveys" routine while on top of it. Now he comes in the room and pouts.

Here is the left side of the fabric shelves. It's getting pretty full! The pile of boxes and bags in front of the shelves is fabric to be gotten rid of, fabric to cut into strips, squares and so on, and bags of other fabrics (non-quilting) that need a place to live.

Here is the right side of the fabric shelves. They're even more full! Those plastic bins on top of the shelves are, except for 3 bins of wool fabric, all full of fat quarters! I have a LOT MORE fat quarters than I would have guessed. I'm starting to suspect that I may have a problem in storing them. I'm not gonna panic yet, but the thought has crossed my mind. DH seems kind of stunned at the amount of fabric sitting on the shelves when he walks into the studio. Hah! I think I am too.
So, that's the latest on the Quilt Studio so far.

I have been wandering around the web, in between fabric folding bouts, and have found some fun stuff to share with you.
Over at Puget Sound Sewing and Crafts blog, they have a great tutorial on how to re-cover your ironing board. You can see that here.
On Lynette Anderson's blog, she is offering free stitchery patterns for a Noah's Ark Block of the Month. You can find that here. Check out her great blog too. I love her designs - they're cute and very country.
Bunny Hill Designs. I love their designs and have bought a few of their patterns.
Liberty Star has primitive folk art dolls, quilts and paper arts.
Barbara Brandeburg is one of my favorite designers and has written many books. I love her patterns, which she markets under the name Cabbage Rose. This is her blog. I haven't explored too much on it yet, but what I've seen, I've enjoyed.
Primitive Pieces by Lynda is an on-line store. She's got some great quilt patterns, and a very nice web site.
This next web site is something a little different. Boo Davis from Seattle has found a special niche for herself in the quilt world, called Quiltsryche. She makes "evil and offbeat" quilts for the heavy-metal music lover. Good for her!
And, saving the best for last, I found two online interviews with Gwen Marston. The first one was conducted on July 21st of 2007, by The Alliance for American Quilts S.O.S. (Save Our Stories). The second one is on Real Women Quilt, when Gwen was the Featured Quilter. Both interviews are very informative and entertaining.
Gwen has been a big influence on my quilting for many years, first through her columns in a quilting magazine (that I can't remember the name of! oops!) and then through her books. I was lucky enough to hear her speak at a local California quilt guild in 2006, and also to see her and Freddy Moran speak at a quilt show in Oakland, California and to see their quilts from their book "Collaborative Quilting". Through her collaboration with Freddy, Gwen is still influencing quilters! If you haven't seen this yet, Tonya is taking a survey to see how many quilters would be willing to pay something like $36 for a reprint of Gwen's book "Liberated Quiltmaking". (I just looked on Amazon for it, and it starts at $49.17 for a used book and $157.84 for a new copy!!) Gwen was the first quilter to "give permission" to be less than perfect, based on her study of antique quilts. My feeling is that this book deserves more exposure. I'd love to have a copy of it. So, if you agree, please let Tonya know!
Have a great quilt-y week!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I'm starting off today with the signature quilt that I made for my DS and DIL. The pink and navy blue were the colors of their wedding. I paper-pieced the squares, which were about 3 inches finished. All the guests at their wedding signed a square at the reception. I didn't have quite enough blocks to finish the pattern, so you can see that I added some with hearts on them, and also some with quotes from the wedding vows, plus one or two with their names, the date and the place where they were married. I think it came out really well. Sorry this picture is blurry, but it's the only one I have. You can't see it, but their friends did some amazing drawings and fun stuff with their signatures. It's a lot of fun to look at.

I didn't realize until I posted this quilt that the two quilts were the same pattern! Funny how some distance will bring those things to your attention.

I've been meaning to post more often, but somehow it just hasn't worked out. This week was really busy. Monday we had the DGDs. Wednesday we spent all day out doing errands. That's when I found this little cutie. I have a collection of bunnies, and he had to come home with me. Even better was that he was on sale for 75% off! He cost me $2.73 including tax! (That's the best deal I've gotten in quite a while.) He's about 12 inches tall.

On Thursday we played hookie and went to the beach with our friend K. We had a good time, ate lots of wonderful food, and saw lots of wonderful sights. Here are a few of them:

Gray's Harbor Light Station. As you can see, the day started out cool and cloudy, a common occurance in Washington. We had lunch at Bennett's in Grayland, and they had the most delicious Chicken Cashew Salad with dried cranberries. Lots of cranberries are grown in this area, which they call the Cranberry Coast.

This just amazes us former Californians. If you look closely, you can see that there's two cars on the beach. We can't believe that you can drive on the beaches here! And you can also see that the gray clouds started going away, and we got actual sunshine! Whoo Hoo! It felt so good. We actually got out of the car and walked on one of the beaches. Windy and chilly, but really nice. Got some Vitamin D!
We've actually had sun for the last 3 days or so - not all day, but for at least half of the day. There's hope that summer will actually arrive!

A pretty little cove, seen from the lighthouse in the next picture.

North Head Lighthouse, looking north. Apparently you can stay overnight in the lightkeeper's accomodations which is a beautiful old house just a stone's throw from here. There was so much Queen Anne's Lace around here, and bigger than I've ever seen it. Some of it was taller than my 6 foot DH! Just beautiful - I love it.

Looking south from near the lighthouse. If you look closely, you can see the rock jetty that delineates where the Columbia River comes out into the Pacific Ocean.
This was as far south as we got, about a 4 hour drive home! A long, tiring day, but it was a lot of fun.
I will try to post more often from now on. We'll have to see how that goes!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

A Day Late. . .

. . for the Finished By Friday post. Oh well. Life gets in the way some days. *sigh* Anyway, here is what I finished between last Friday and yesterday. Another 4 boxes of fabric unloaded, folded and shelved. Those shelves are starting to fill up! I keep shifting the stacks so that the color I'm working on is near at hand. When I'm all done, I'll arrange them in a more coordinated way. And there's starting to be some room in the Quilt Studio. I think I'm down to the last box of "regular" fabric (as opposed to flannel, fleece, etc). I'm about ready to start rearranging the rest of the room, now that there is more room. It's getting challenging to take the pictures because there's so much stuff in the way on the other side of the room. But soon it will be more open. Yay!!
This is another little stitchery done by my sister (Hi Sal!). I have this one displayed during Spring and Summer. I love the border fabric on this one.
Last night DH and I went with K to a pottery show and sale in The Very Big City. It was lots of fun and very inspiring to see all the wonderful pottery. Three pieces actually came home with us. This is very common among potters - we're each other's best customers! Sad but true. Doesn't matter how much pottery you have at home, sometimes some more has to come home with you. Yes, it's just as bad as fabric. Just heavier! Hee hee!
I was excited to see all the hand-built pottery there (as opposed to wheel-thrown), since I do hand-built too. I could have brought lots more home with me, but it would have been big $$. But this little cup had to come. I love the color (BLUE!) and I love the textures and patterns on it. Very charming and whimsical. And it's comfortable in the hand, so quite useable.

And the artist even put something on the bottom! Very cute!

Well, I'm off to finish that last box of fabric!

Monday, June 02, 2008

My Round Robin and "Quilt Pink"

A little while back, Pam showed her Round Robin quilt. You can see hers here. This was quite a craze for awhile in the 90's. Well, I finally found mine so I can share it with you. This was made in 1994, at the same time as Pam's. (We were in the same quilt guild.) Read her blog to find out all the particulars, if you care to! I started mine with a simple block, the Ohio Star, and enclosed all the fabrics with the block, which was an option with this exchange.
This is the center block.

And a closeup so that you can see the nice quilting! Sorry it's not such a good shot - this was the best of 3 tries.

Here are my blocks for the Quilt Pink quilts this year. My Mom was a breast cancer survivor, and I like to contribute to this cause. I was encouraged to make applique, since the quilts with appliqued blocks will fetch a higher price. I did machine applique. (And, now I see an errant thread on the block! Oh well, such is life.)

This block pattern was taken from an ad in a quilting magazine, which I enlarged on my home printer/copier. I'm pleased with the way these blocks came out! The background fabric is one of the Quilt Pink fabrics. I'm not big on pink, so I had to add the darker shade of pink in the flowers to make me happier!
I went to the Ebay site for the Quilt Pink quilts. The auctions started in early May. Right now there are 4 pages of quilts to bid on. I downloaded a few to show you:

A Monkey Wrench quilt.

One that isn't entirely pink.
I don't know the name of this block, but I really like it! (Anybody know what it is?? If so, please leave me a comment.) Jan at Be*mused made one that you can see here and another one here. This last post includes the how-to (Thanks, Jan!), which is calling to me!

And here's the same pattern in purples and greens. I think I like this one the best!
You can see the rest of the Quilt Pink quilts here. There's also a tote bag and some table runners, for a little less $$.
I know most of us quilters won't buy the quilts since we can make them ourselves, but it's fun to see them.
Many women have been touched by this disease, whether it's themselves or members of their families. I'd like to encourage any quilters that can to make blocks (or even quilts!) for this event next year, especially if you personally know (or are) someone touched by breast cancer. You could even make them this year, right now while you're thinking about it! Many quilt shops have a "Quilt Pink" event in the spring to make quilts in a group setting that are contributed to this cause. They're usually well-advertised. Think about joining them next year.
I really have all the quilts I need (which is separate from want), and my family has had many quilts made and given to them. So I'm feeling like it's time to start using my quilting skills to help some of the charities close to my heart. I hope you'll join me. (As soon as the quilt studio is up and running, that is! I'm getting really antsy to sew something!)
And don't forget to get your mammogram!!