Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Close But No Cigar

Well, here's what I came up with on the "secret project" for my sister. I think they're fine for crumb blocks, which is what I had in my mind when I started them, but they don't really work for a little book. Too many colors and the focus fabric isn't the focus. I don't think my sis would really care for these - she's not a bright fabric kind of person, somehow. So, after consultation with DH, we decided it was back-to-the-drawing-board time. Oh, and I think I will finish these first blocks into a little book for my youngest granddaughter.
Dunkel looks like I feel.
So, I found a fabric with a much more traditional feel to it, and it also happens to be the same fabric shown in Gwen Marston's book. So, I think I'll start down this path, at least for now.

These are the first two I've done. They're not trimmed to size yet. The yellow one on the left is a blatant copy of the one in Gwen's book. I was trying to get into the right mood/mode and thought maybe doing what she had done would help. Now, I think I'm ready to break out into my own style! And, these look more like what my sis would like. At least I hope so! I don't have enough time to change my mind too many more times! *grin*

And, where would I be without my helper cat??

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Time Flies

Wow, it seems like forever since I posted last, and I have too many things to show and tell about!

Last week I wandered into an antique shop with nothing in particular in mind. Way back in a corner, I found this antique quilt! It was marked $30 and I had a long discussion with myself as to whether or not this needed to come home with me. In the end, I settled for a couple of pictures! Cheaper and easier. I just couldn't justify the purchase with all that fabric sitting at home. I (theoretically) can make my own "antique" indigo quilt.

It looks to me like an Irish Chain or variation thereof, and done in a scrappy manner. There were a few squares that have disintegrated into almost nothing, and those look like they weren't indigo fabric. (You can just see one in the upper right in the photo below.) The quilting is done in straight lines, which I think is kind of unusual in an antique.

WARNING!! SPOILER ALERT!! To my sister: if you are reading this, STOP NOW!! DO NOT SCROLL DOWN!!

Ok, the rest of you are good to continue. *grin*

I checked a book out of the library recently, and it really excited me. I thought these projects looked like a lot of fun.

As I was reading this book, the author mentioned seeing a well-known quilter on a TV show, demonstrating her little fabric books. She mentioned no names. But it dawned on me that she must have been talking about Gwen Marston. And I remembered I had Gwen's book about this! So I had to go find it.

Here it is!
Then, I had the brilliant thought "It's almost my sister's birthday. Hmm, could I somehow combine these two ideas?!"

So, the secret project idea was born and is now in process! I've just gotten started, and I can't wait to get back at it. (I had to take a couple of days off for other things, darn it!) I think this is gonna be fun, and I think/hope my sister will like this. She's also a quilter, so it figures that she would. We usually like the same things. *fingers crossed*

I bought some batiks the other day. The one on the left (purple) is going to be the quilt studio curtains and sewing machine cover, the green one was just because I fell in love with it.
I went to the Alliance for American Quilts web site with the Gwen Marston interview and looked around. You can search the interviews based on the interviewee, and there's more people on there than I've heard of! I found the interview with Roberta Horton, who's been as big an influence on my quilting as Gwen Marston. You can read it here. It's interesting to me that, essentially, both women are telling quilters "Make your OWN quilt". I hadn't realized that that was the true common thread until I read both interviews. Don't copy someone else's quilt, make one that reflects you and your life. Both of these quilters are basing this advice on their studies of antique quilts. And the quilt that Ms. Horton brought to the interview, "Frau Horton Frau Horton", was free-pieced figures! I've seen photos of the quilt, (you can see it here - scroll down about 1/2 way down the page) and hadn't realized that it was free-pieced. How cool! Another link between her and Gwen Marston. I love finding these common threads to the things that have influenced me.
A little side note here. My daughter plays classical Spanish guitar. She lives in another state now, and I really miss listening to her play. She sent me this link to You Tube. You can hear Andante Largo's beautiful classical guitar playing. The song my daughter plays that I miss is called "Jeux Interdits or Romance". I think it's beautiful, and I hope you enjoy it too!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fun on the Internet!

Last week, Sue over at The Magpie's Nest had a link for an on-line kaleidoscope tool. That was the mostest fun I've had in a while! (Thanks, Sue!) I played for hours with that thing! I started with pictures of flowers and trees and stuff. But the best thing was when I put in pictures of my quilts! These are just awesome to me!
I love how the quilting shows up in this Amish quilt.

And I love the intricacy of this log cabin quilt!

And look at the Snail's Trail! I wish I could make a quilt that looks like this. But I'll settle for playing with this tool and having the picture.
Go play with the kaleidoscope maker with your own quilt photos - you'll have fun!

This is my Handy Andy quilt, which I first showed here. This quilt took me ten (10!) years to make. The blocks are relatively easy. I tried the technique of layering the 2 fabrics, drawing lines on the light fabric and sewing on either side of the line, then cutting it apart. That was OK, but not as accurate as I would have liked.
The hardest part for me was using sashing together with setting the blocks on point. When I started this quilt, I didn't have the skills to finish it. I had no idea how to do the setting (edge) triangles, nor how to get the sashing to come out correctly. I'm glad I waited to finish this until I knew how to do it right. This is also probably my first "planned" scrap quilt. It took me a while to get enough of the green fabrics.
I had it machine quilted, and had the quilter reduce the pantograph to 75% of the original size. I'm glad I did - I still like the quilting!

And, of course, I have to have a helper when the quilts come out for photos!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Think I Miscalculated!

How did that happen??

DH got the new desk put together yesterday. It went a lot faster than the cutting unit (see previous post). It's another IKEA purchase. That unit on the left of the desk slides out, which will be great (at least I hope so!) for machine quilting, or quick trimming while piecing or whatever.
I wonder how long it will stay this clean?? I will try, I promise! I just have to make myself clean up after each project. This machine cover will be replaced soon. I have to keep something over the machine because Dunkel (not pictured) loves to bite and eat the thread. Which is not a Good Thing.

And here is my miscalculation! I forgot to allow for the drawers' opening. Rats!! So, everything needs to be shifted down a few inches. . . .

. . . . which is easier said than done. All of this stuff is to the right of the cutting unit, and there's an armoire back behind all this stuff that also has to be moved. Which means I won't have room between the armoire and the closet for my filing cabinet full of patterns. I have way too much stuff to all fit in this room. DH says I just need to add another foot to the room! I wish. All this means, more sorting and culling. I'll have to be tough with myself. I do have more stuff than I can use up in the rest of my life. I just have to be realistic. Yeah, right. *sigh*

And here is my faithful companion. He has been "velcro cat" the last few days. Just sticks right to me! He gets lots of scritches and kisses.
And now for the quilt content. . . .

Here is my Snail's Trail quilt. Many, many years ago I received a bunch of scraps from my friend SC. They were scraps from her mother's scrap bag that she had inherited. I was thrilled to pieces! Another of my quilt bee buddies gave me some of her older scraps, which I added to the mix. Both of these wonderful ladies are old enough to be my mother, so they had some old stuff. I picked this pattern because it had lots of little pieces, so that I could use the smallest of the scraps.

I pieced the back using up all my 30's reproductions, mostly because I was never going to use them again. (Hah! Little did I know.)
When I trimmed the quilt before binding it, I used the trimmings to make the binding! I just switched the sides so that the fabrics didn't line up. I really like this binding. It just makes the quilt even scrappier!
Here's one of the blocks. Those little squares in the center measure at seven-eights of an inch!! I must have been nuts. I got this pattern from an antique quilt in Ladies' Circle Patchwork Quilts. The whole block is 6 1/2 " finished. It surely did use the smallest scraps.

Another block, showing the wide variety of fabrics.

These two fabrics in the center are, I think, the oldest fabrics in the quilt. The blue with the cotton bolls I saw in a book about quilts from the 1920's, and the "frantic mice" fabric feels thin, old and frail. I'd guess it's pre-Mickey Mouse! And, some other fabrics are from as recently as the 1960's, which is now almost vintage, I guess! This quilt, even though it's made from older fabrics, is holding up really well.

And here's a shot of the quilting in the alternate blocks. My long-armer friend SB does the most awesome quilting! I love feather wreaths.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Some More Progress

Things are happening around here, but slowly. Some days it feels glacial.

Last week we took a trip to IKEA for more furniture for the quilt studio. Above is the most major purchase for the studio. It's a free-standing kitchen counter with lots of storage space! DS and DIL came over early on the 4th to help DH get the monster upstairs. It weighs almost 300 lbs and was in 4 boxes! It's made from solid wood with a maple top. I really had to think this one over, but I came to the conclusion that this is the best bang for my bucks. I can't pass up the storage capacity of this unit.

Yesterday DH spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 to 5 hours putting this baby together. In the heat. He perservered, and did a splendid job of it! I'm so happy with it, and can hardly wait to get to work on it. Being a kitchen counter, it's just the right height for me to cut fabric on. I wouldn't have believed that except that I've been cutting fabric on the kitchen counter here since we moved in, and there was no strain on my back or shoulders.
In this picture, you can see on the top of the unit the plastic bins with strips and squares, etc. in them that I unloaded into some of the drawers. I've been cutting up fabrics with Quiltville Bonnie's Scrap User System and this is what I'm going to be using most of this storage space for. Eventually I hope to get a labeling system that is slightly more sophisticated than scraps of paper showing through the windows of the drawers! I have more bins to unload, but the cat was sleeping on the stack that they are in. You can see that large stack of bins on the right side of the photo above. Maybe tomorrow I can get to those bins.

Here's a shot of two of the drawers with squares and strips. Only 3 more boxes (at least) of fabric to cut up!
We also purchased a desk that will be my sewing surface, but it's still in the box, waiting for DH to put it togther. I hope it won't be too long of a wait!
There's lots more unpacking and sorting to be done, but I had to move lots of stuff so DH had room to work. It was still too crowded for him.

And, of course, the supervising cat. He still gets upset when he sees us messing about with boxes - I guess he thinks we're gonna move again. But we get "quality time" with each other in the studio! Well, I think it's quality time. He just sleeps, mostly.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

Happy 4th of July! *a little early* I won't be posting for a few days, due to a hectic schedule, so I thought I'd put this in slightly early.

Here is my favorite patriotic quilt "Hometown USA". This was made in 1998 for a quilt guild Log Cabin challenge. I used a Country Threads pattern from a book that is now out of print. This is actually half-size from the pattern, and it exactly fit the size requirement of the challenge. (How lucky is that??)

I had fun picking out all the fabrics. I had to tea-dye some of the white ones to get them to blend. I think that works better than tea-dying the entire quilt - that tends to lessen the contrast too much, in my opinion - especially since so many of the fabrics were already tan-ish. I left a few white fabrics for sparkle.

These little logs finish at 1/2 inch! No, it's not paper-pieced. It really wasn't that hard. Some of them might be a little wonky, but once it's all put together, you can't tell. I had a lot of fun making this one.

Here's some of the row of houses. All the doors, windows and chimneys are done with fusible.

The little flag is actually two blocks the same size as the log cabins. I can't believe I actually went to a copy shop to reduce the star pattern! I wouldn't be doing that now!

Here's some daisies in my backyard. They were standing up until they got rained on the other night. These flowers are all over right now, and it's so nice to see them all in the ditches and the fields. Very cheery.

And these are some foxglove in my back yard. These are also wildflowers here - they are everywhere! There's a big stand of them out near the highway, and they're in all the ditches and along all the fences. And they are mostly all this color of purple, although I have seen a few white ones. I used to struggle to grow these in California, because it was too dry there for them, I guess. Seeing these everywhere makes me happy! And, for you Californians, the poppies are just going good here. (they were in their prime in late March in CA!)
I hope everyone has a happy 4th! See ya next week!