Monday, August 31, 2009

Where Did Summer Go?

Dunkel is so surprised that it's the last day of August! Where did the summer go? All the kids in this area started back to school today. And it's not a very summery day today either. We were predicted to hit 80*, but I'll be surprised if we hit 70*! Summer seems to be winding down. Some of the leaves are just starting turning, and all the gardens look like they've passed their peak. I hope we're not going to have an early fall this year, because we had a late spring. That wouldn't be so good. In spite of the fact that I don't love the heat, I'm not quite ready for the return of cold weather.

I've actually gotten some sewing done the last few days. I made a pair of summer PJ's. . . . and no, you don't get to see them. They are not beautiful, just finished! And just barely in time, it seems! And I also finished two charity quilt tops.

This first one is cat fabrics and brights. These small quilts will go to seriously ill children @ a local charity. I thought perhaps someone might be missing a kitty and that this would cheer them up a little.

Here is what one block looks like. This is made with 5.5" squares and 3" strips (cut sizes), and finishes to a 15" block. Very easy!

And here's one in plaid flannels - it's very soft and cozy.

I've started working on Thing 2. I have the alternate fabric cut and now it's time to size my strings strips and start sewing it all together. Pictures soon!

I always have a hard time deciding which I'd rather be doing - working on something quilt-related or blogging. I guess that's a common problem, from what I've read on other blogs. So, because I've been sewing, I'm very behind in all my blog reading. Please bear with me as I try to catch up some. I'll try to make it around to everyone's blogs in a more timely manner.

Have you sent your Bundle of Love to Iraq yet? You have one more week, until September 7th, to get it in the mail. It's been so fun to watch this project just explode. I think this is an amazing thing Major LaFlamme is doing.

I found this wonderful video on You Tube. I can't figure out how to upload the video here, so will just put in the link here. This is an ad for Sony Bravia TV. It consists of something like 250,000 brightly colored super balls bouncing down a street in San Francisco. Just so fun to watch! And there's also a link to the "making of" video too. I love watching those "making of" videos. Enquiring minds want to know, maybe?

Are you a geek? Do you know and love any geeks? I found the coolest Etsy store, and it's all for geeks. I think my favorite is this clock for math geeks. See it here, then check out all the other wonderful items made from random computer parts, etc. Such wonderful geek-ness! I know some folks -mostly ones I'm related to!- that would love some of these items for birthdays or Christmas. (Which, by the way, is getting waaaay too close! But that's another story.)

This was Dunkel's way of "helping" me last night. He was sleeping behind the sewing machine, and when I started sewing the cat blocks together, he thought they should be his blocks. We eventually worked it out.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Strings & Things

I finally finished Thing 1 from my Spring String Fling. This top was started way back in March at my quilting retreat in California. I finished all the blocks at retreat and then had to put it on the back burner when I injured my thumb coming home. I couldn't iron the blocks or cut them to size until my thumb healed. I'm calling this Thing 1 as I have two other string quilts in the works. I showed you those blocks here (scroll down a little ways).

You may notice that my red strips don't always meet at the corners. . . that's because I was deliberately casual. I like the way the red "sashing" works, it seems to give the quilt more of a 3-D effect, and it was easier than doing "real" sashing.

I found this border fabric in my stash - I've had it at least 15 years. I bought it when I worked at the fabric store. I'd decided the quilt needed a black & white to really set it off (no other colors really worked very well), and this one has random red dots that really work well with the red sashing and inner border. The places where the white line is thicker is actually a printing flaw, but I like the way it looks. It's random, and it reminds me of a UPC code!

Most of these strings are from my 20-year collection that I was saving to make a string quilt. So, other than the foundations and a few fabric scrap donations at retreat, this quilt is entirely from stash. What's amazing to me is that I started with 2 large bags of strings, and I've made 5 quilts and Kate has made 3 quilts from them. I'd never have guessed that those string would go so far! It just goes to show you that you can make more quilts with just the bits most of us throw away, because most of those strings were trimmings from quilt backs and 'straightening the fabric' cuts.

By the way, those red strips for the inner border and the blocks is from way back in the early 80's, as well as I can figure. I bought it to use in a Log Cabin quilt for my son, when he was in 6th grade. He's 36 now, which makes him older than I was when I bought the fabric! Oh my! That is possibly Too Much Information! I marked the strips with a posterboard template and cut them with scissors, as my favorite tool, the rotary cutter, hadn't been invented yet. I never made the Log Cabin for my son and have moved those strips 3 times. I decided it was time to use them up. I have less than one strip left now.

I have more strings left still, but I'm really tired of looking at them now. Anybody want some strings??

I got my Bundle of Love for Iraq in the mail yesterday. It looks like there will be A LOT of these Bundles of Love for Iraq. So many that air support may be needed! That is just awesome! And, Mr. IBOL has a very funny blog too. I'm really enjoying reading about how this project is taking off.

I got the little doll quilt that I showed in the previous post all apart. I thought I'd share some photos of the "innards". The little "thimbles" were all sewn together by hand, but the rows are mostly sewn by machine, except this one. Some of them have hand-basting, and then machine sewn. These are little tiny stitches!

This little tiny red scrap was hidden in the binding that I removed. And I love this tan fabric - it somehow reminds me of kelp.

I found out why the little quilt was so uneven and lumpy. The quiltmaker didn't have the best accuracy when sewing the 'thimbles' together. I tried to press it evenly, but it just wasn't happening!

Check out this cool old fabric! I love it. It looks like rope, doesn't it?

I'm currently tieing the quilt together with new batting and backing. I'll show it again when I'm done.

Here is Dunkel, holding down Thing 1 for me, here in the office.

And here is Shade, begging for some pets and kisses.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Treasures

I did survive all that heat, in case you were wondering if I really had melted! Just taking a little blog break, due to being quite busy. Our normal weather has returned. . . highs in the upper 60's and overcast. We even had some rain the last couple of days! (which we really needed)

We went to an art fair 2 weekends ago, and I found this little hooked wool mat. It was only $15!! I couldn't pass it up for that price. I have no idea who the artist was, but they did a lovely job. I just love this.

Last weekend we were selling pottery at a local art festival. We were happy with how well it went. Perfect weather and the rain held off. Remember the little leaf dishes I showed you in this post? (scroll down some to see them) DH made quite a few more too. We sold out of them! They were our best-selling item.

We were sitting across from a country "stuff" store that was having a 75% off sidewalk sale. They had some good stuff. I got a couple of woven tablerunners. They had some little quilts displayed out there, and I had to go check them out. Someone had cut up an old quilt into the squares and put new binding on them. I hate that - it just steams me. But the worst part was, I wanted one too. But no price, so I left them. After a while, another one showed up that I hadn't seen before. So I ran over there to check it out.

It was this doll quilt. I think this was an old un-finished top that someone put new batting and backing on. It's not quilted or even tied. It was on sale for $5!! Needless to say, it came home with me. It was hand-pieced and I believe that these are truly old fabrics - I would guess approximately 1880 to 1910 or thereabouts.

Shade is lending his paw for scale in this photo!

It is pretty smelly and slightly stained. I'm afraid to wash it like it is. The backing and binding are a dark rust solid, and I think it will probably run. So I'm going to take it apart and re-do it with new batting and backing. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to hand-quilt it or tie it. Probably tie it, as my hands don't really like quilting much any more.

If anyone has any ideas about how old it is, I'd love to hear your opinion. I'm just guessing about the age, based on other quilts I've seen. The fabrics seem kind of "frail", if you know what I mean. I've tried to make this photos big enough that you can really see the fabrics.

I have a bunch of links to share:

First, I found a fun little thing over on Jacquie's blog Tall Grass Prairie Studio. It's called Mr. Picassohead. Check it out. A fun design game.

A book I found a few weeks ago has really intrigued me. It's by Janet Bolton, and it's called Patchwork Folk Art. She is an Englishwoman who is very "liberated" and works very freely. Most of her work is applique, but she also does some patchwork. If you're interested, you can see more of her work here and here. I'm not really into applique, but I find her work very charming and very inspiring.

I found a new (to me) blog via Barbara Brachman's Material Culture blog. It's Thrift Shop Quilts by Deb Rowden. Deb's got photos of some wonderful old quilts that are pretty "liberated" and fun to look at.

Studio Kat Designs
has some free patterns available. There's tote bags and an ID tag, a cash keeper and other patterns.

Here's a closeup of the most worn patch in the doll quilt.

I got this
info in an email from my sister:

LNPB National Plastic Quilt Project: Call for Artists. Calling all creative minds and environmentally conscious people! Leave No Plastic Behind (LNPB) is asking outstanding artists, community members and celebrities to participate in the National Plastic Quilt Project by designing a square to be auctioned at our fall fundraiser. For the National Plastic Quilt Project, participants design a 12” square out of plastic materials that are usually thrown away. In the past,people have chosen to give plastic bottle caps a new life, woven plastic bags, and even sewn together various collected items to create an original piece of art. Proceeds from this fundraiser will contribute to Create Plenty, the new non-profit organization formed in support of LNPB and other projects that will promote community engagement and single use plastic reduction. To design a square, simply email Cheryl at and we will send you further specifications and information. Deadline: 10/15/09.

So, if you're into art quilts, or recycled art, this could be an interesting challenge.

Last, but not least, I found this over on Be*mused Jan's blog, who found the information on Kristin LaFlamme's blog. To quote Jan: "Kristin and her husband are facilitating a project they're calling Iraqi Bundles of Love. Briefly, he is stationed in Iraq and is collecting *bundles* of sewing or knitting supplies to distribute with local women when his unit leaves Iraq this fall. This sounds like such a wonderful project and since the contributions can be sent to his U.S. (APO) address, the expense to participate would be minimal. If your stash could use some thinning or you would just consider sharing your fiber wealth, do click over and read Kristin's post."
I've signed up to contribute a box of fabric, threads and buttons. Even after at least 3 passes through my stash while moving and unpacking, there's still stuff that I'll probably never get around to using. So, if it can help someone else, that's much better than taking up space in my quilt studio. I've already started searching for stuff to send. The deadline to get the boxes to him is September 7th.
I haven't done a lot of sewing lately. I'm working on a bunch of stuff, and not much is actually getting finished yet. Maybe next time I post, I'll have some stuff to show you. Meanwhile, happy quilting to all!