Sunday, December 18, 2011

Random Christmas-y Stuff

I've been so busy around here - after all, it is the season, right? I've been trying to get this posted for a week now.

Here's my oldest Christmas quilt.  I made this back in 1980-something.  I don't remember where I found the pattern, but piecing those letters was a challenge for me at that time.  It's very graphic with those bright colors, and I don't know that I would pick those fabrics again!   But it's OK.  I still enjoy it.

Here is my big mistake - intricate quilting on a busy fabric.  Can you see the "Merry Christmas" that I quilted?  Pretty hard to see, isn't it?  Can you see the holly leaf on the left border?  I think those show up fairly well, but I sure learned my lesson about quilting the busy fabric.  Sharon over at Grass Roots Quilting blog talked about this a while back, which reminded me of this wallhanging.

Last week we went to see the Zoo Lights at the zoo in Tacoma.  This shot is overlooking part of the zoo.  We'd never been before, and it was a lot of fun!  There are millions of LED lights all over everything in the zoo.  There were only a couple of animals to be seen.  We saw a sleeping tiger and we were ogled by a shark at the aquarium.  I think he was looking for a hand-out. 

Here is my favorite display - the purple tree!  Isn't it awesome? 

We'd never been to the zoo before, so I have no idea how it normally looks, but I sure enjoyed the zoo lights!  One of these days, we'll have to go back when the weather is good and in the daylight.

I've been working off-and-on at tying the corduroy quilt.  Not making much progress so far - I just don't have enough time to spare right now.   

I've pretty much finished cleaning the quilt studio but have had no time to go in there to play.  I have a few Christmas presents to get sewn this week, so I do need to get in there.  I've mostly finished shopping, I have some wrapping to do and all my baking, but I am hopeful that I can get in the studio!  Besides, I need to go play with fabric for my sanity! 

Happy Quilting!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

A Lazy Sunday

Here are the Trip Around the World blocks that I started for Block Lotto.  This was the block for November. They look pretty good, don't they?  Well, what you can't see is that they're the wrong size.  I was aiming for 12 1/2 inches (raw edge) and what I got ranged from 12 3/4 to 13 inches.  I was using my little Brother travel machine, and apparently I've not been getting a true 1/4 inch seam allowance on it.  Rats.  I tried and tried and still couldn't get it right. *sigh*

So, I tried something else.  I got out my ruler and the painter's tape and marked where the fabric should be for a true 1/4 inch seam allowance.  I cleaned out the lint (like that would help?)  and then decided that I should replace the needle while I was at it.  It had been a while.  So, got the new needle in and took a couple of stitches slowly and carefully to make sure I had actually put the needle in the right place.  Guess what?  I think I didn't get it right.  After those two stitches, the machine made a kind-of-funny noise and there was just a stub of metal where the needle should be!  Ack! 

So, since neither DH nor I could get the plate off the machine to find the needle, AND I have a service contract that means I pay NOTHING for service (I LOOOVE that!), I decided that the machine needs to go to the shop and have a needle-ectomy.  At that point, I also decided that it wasn't the right day for me to be sewing.  I quietly turned out the light in the quilt studio and shut the door behind me. 

A few days later, I went back into the quilt studio, hauled out my trusty Bernina, and made 8 blocks (the correct size!) for the Block Lotto.  Whew!  I found my "sewing mojo" again!  Now I just have to get these in a couple of envelopes to send off to the Block Lotto winners.  And I'm sad that I didn't win this month.  :(

Now, I'm free to start work on my Christmas sewing.  Well, AFTER I clean up the quilt studio.  The piles of fabrics and projects is getting too deep to be able to actually accomplish anything in there.  The stacks keep sliding over and off onto the floor.  And there is only about 8 inches square of surface on the cutting table that is free of "stuff". Ugh.  I don't really want to clean up, but it is time.  Maybe I'll be able to find the blocks for DGD's quilt that I've "lost" in there.  If I'm not back in 2 days, send in the Search and Rescue team.  I may be buried alive!

Monday, November 28, 2011

My First Quilt

Bonnie Hunter, over on Quiltville, had photos and the story of her first quilt, and is asking for us to post photos of our first quilt and its story too.  If you visit her here, you can see lots of first quilts.

It took a bit of digging in the blanket chest, but I finally found this beauty!  (If you double click the picture, it will biggify so you can really enjoy it!)

This is the first quilt I ever worked on.  This was back in 1969 or 1970, I believe.  My sister and I had a lot of scraps leftover from all the clothes we had sewn, and one summer we decided it was time to make a quilt from those scraps.  I really don't remember how we did it, but we must have used some kind of a template, because those squares are all the same size.  We put in everything we had.  A lot of cotton fabrics (including kettlecloth, anybody else remember that stuff?), corduroy, wool and even some velvet from a prom dress that my sister made.  Somewhere in the midst of the making of this quilt, I got married and left home, so my sister actually finished this quilt.  There's a couple of rows that are offset from the next one.  I think she decided that the quilt needed to be bigger and added those rows later.  There are ties on only two rows that don't go through to the back and that left side just kind of disappears at the edge.  The backing fabric is bright red (still!) and seems to be a decorator weight.  The quilt is funky, but fun! 

You know, I remember most of these fabrics, but many of them I can't remember what the original outfit was! 

Here's a closeup shot.  You can see wool, corduroy, kettlecloth and plain cotton fabrics.  Look at that chocolate brown with the turquoise flowers!  It looks just like the fabrics that are coming out now.  LOL  I remember my youngest commenting that those were cool fabrics, but then he was horrified to learn that we actually WORE them!  In PUBLIC!

So, fast forward about 10 years.  Here is the first quilt that I actually made.  This was made in 1981.  I decided that I was going to make a 9-patch pillow, like I had seen in some country magazine.  Well, when I got out my sewing scraps, there were so many that I wanted to use because of the memories associated with them, that the pillow grew into this quilt!  I had to go buy more fabric to have enough to finish the quilt to a good size.

I remember the kids helping me pick out which fabrics to include and my DH helping me to lay out the squares on the floor.  I backed it with plain white fabric (a sheet?) and I tied it with white acrylic yarn.  Then, Christmas Eve around midnight, my Mom helped me to put on the binding.  Oh that binding!  It is atrocious!  It was that packaged bias binding, in white, there is no batting in the binding, and my corners are all rounded.  The quilt was given to my youngest for a Christmas present that year, and this picture is from today.  It's held up pretty well!  It's faded, except for the poly-cotton squares, and thin in spots, but he still loves it.

Here's a closeup of some of the fabrics.  These are fabrics that I used for clothing, curtains, robes, a cowboy shirt that I slaved over for my DH and even a shower curtain that I made from a sheet.  And that bright red solid poly-cotton?  My oldest picked that out for me to make into pyjamas for him!  I still remember the lady at the store who was cutting the fabric commenting that the kid would never sleep in those because they were so bright they'd keep him awake.  hee hee!

After I made this quilt, I realized how much fun I had had making it, but knew that I didn't know enough to do a better job.  So, right after that Christmas, I took my first quilting class in Adult Education.  And I haven't stopped since then!  It's good to see how far I've come.

Your turn!  Let's see your first quilt!  I dare ya to show it!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Corduroy & A Birthday

The Corduroy Quilt
approximately 53 inches by 70 inches

Welcome to a special edition of Indigo Threads!  Just in case you didn't know, today is a perfect date: 11-11-11.  A once in a lifetime event.  Those of you who are regular readers will know that I love these fun dates. 

Well, today is much more than "just" a perfect date.  It's also National Corduroy Appreciation Day.  LeeAnn over at Nifty Quilts invited anyone who wanted to to participate in a corduroy quilt-along.  So, if you've come here from Nifty Quilts, welcome!

Initially, I thought the Quilt Along sounded like fun, but I had no corduroy.  I'm not purchasing much fabric lately, as I already have a large stash.  But it didn't include corduroy.  So, I decided not to do the quilt-along. 

Then, unexpectedly, corduroy entered my life!  A lady at quilt guild was giving away a bunch of fabrics, and there were 2 2-yard pieces of corduroy!  Another lady noticed my interest in the corduroy and offered me her corduroy scraps too.  So, it seemed the Universe wanted me to play with corduroy!  Who am I to argue with the Universe??

I ended up with 2 yards of wide wale burgundy, two yards of wide wale tan, a pretty good-sized chunk of purple, some pieces of black, a small piece of yellow and a little larger piece of bright green. Amazingly, it worked together pretty well, except for this piece of bright grass green.  (you can't tell from this picture exactly what color it is/was)  First, I washed all the corduroy together.  The black cord scraps kind of dulled down the bright yellow and dulled the green some.  But not enough.  So, I hauled out the dye and had some fun!  I decided on the blue overdye that the arrow is pointing to.  It didn't really come out great, but it was much better.  Sadly, that was the only fabric dyeing I managed this summer. *sigh*  These colors are not easy to photograph and get true colors.  Some of the color differences you're seeing are just the nap going different directions.  

the challenge is fitting these all together!

I decided early on that I wanted to do something in the Gee's Bend style.  Those ladies made a lot of corduroy quilts, and I knew cord didn't lend itself to fussy. (just fuzzy!)  So, no rotary cutter or rulers, just me and my scissors.  I  tried to just work intuitively.  It was fun!  When I could, I ripped the big piece of cord.  What a mess that made!  I used a walking foot to sew this together, and used 1/2 inch seams.  I don't think this will come apart anytime soon!

I paid no attention to the nap of the corduroy, I just cut and sewed whatever fit together, and patched in other bits when something was a little short.  You know: "if it's too large, cut it off and if it's too small, add on to it"!  I used even the smallest pieces.  I completely used up the yellow and the blue-green.  I have only a small handful of scraps left of the black, the purple and the burgundy!  Oh, and I have the entire 2 yard piece of the tan left - maybe another corduroy quilt in the future??  And, my scissors are now incredibly dull!

In true Gee's Bend style, this top is kind of lumpy.  It will never lie flat!  And I'm OK with that.  It's heavy and cuddly and soft and will be warm! 

I had fun, and did this in pretty much record time, at least for me.  It's not tied or quilted yet, but the back is pieced and ready.  I'm using flannel on the back, for even more coziness.  I'm going to making a little test swatch to decide if I want to tie or machine quilt this.  I've had 2 people offer to help me tie it!

The other reason today is a special date?  It's my birthday today!  So, this quilt is my present to myself!  Yay!

I'm not planning anything special today, maybe just some more time in the Quilt Studio.  That sounds like fun to me!  And maybe we'll go out to dinner tonight.  I just have to decide if I want Mexican or Chinese.  Hmmmm . . . . They both sound good!

Thanks, LeeAnn, for the fun Corduroy Quilt-Along!  I got a yummy quilt out of it, and had so much fun making it.  I can't wait to go visit all the other Corduroy Enthusiasts to see their corduroy quilts!  Be sure to go visit Nifty Quilts for the Corduroy Quilt show!

Now, I think I have to take the sticky roller to the carpet in the Quilt Studio before I take the vacuum to it!  Yikes!  Fuzz Attack!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Playing With Blocks

Here is what was on my design wall on Monday.  I've started making some 16 Patches in plaids and black.  I started making these for a Demo I did at the Quilt Show on Quick & Easy 4-Patches.  After the show, I started sewing them together.  This is all that I had cut.  Now it's time to iron and cut some more before I can work on these more. 

However, these are down off the design wall now, to make room for the corduroy quilt I'm making for National Corduroy Appreciation Day.  That is November 11th.  Also know as 11-11-11, "The Date That Most Closely Resembles Corduroy".  LeeAnn over at Nifty Quilts is having a corduroy quilt-along.  There's still time to join up!  The big reveal will be on 11-11-11, so stay tuned.

Dunkel was being very coy with DH the other morning, peeking over the back of the couch while he basked in the morning sunlight.

I hope everyone is taking the opportunity to check out the wonderful quilts featured at the Blogger's Quilt Festival, hosted by Amy of Amy's Creative Side.  I don't know which I enjoy more, the quilts or the stories that accompany them.  If you haven't checked this out yet, don't be coy!  Click on the button for the BQF on my sidebar, and enjoy!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's that time again . . .

Blogger's Quilt Festival!  Yay!  And a big Thank You to Amy for putting together and hosting this fun on-line event again. 

Welcome to Indigo Threads, if this is your first visit here.  I hope you'll enjoy my entry into the BQF, and that you'll visit again!

Amish Center Diamond
28 inches square
 My entry into the BQF is in the "an oldie but a goodie" category.   I made this waaay back when, in 1988 according to the label I actually made and put on.  (That's a miracle in itself!)  That's 23 years ago!  Wow, I can't believe it's been that long.

I had been quilting about 8 years by then, and Roberta Horton's book about Amish quilts, "An Amish Adventure", published in 1983, had gotten me excited about Amish quilts and their use of color.  I made two quilts in the Amish style,  a smaller, simpler wallhanging for my Mom and a doll quilt, before I decided to do this one. 

When I started this quilt, it was before rotary cutters and the nifty plastic rulers that we have now.  This was all measured with a yardstick and marked with a pencil, then cut out with scissors.  Practically the Dark Ages!  But somehow, it all fit together.

Good cottons in solids were hard to find then, so the purple and the black are both poly-cotton, I think.  I used a polyester batt, which was all I could find then.  Now, the black is suffering from some migration of the batting through the top.  It's not super visible, fortunately.

It took me 2 years to hand-quilt this quilt.  When I was working on the black borders with black thread, it was so hard to see what I was doing that I could only quilt on this sitting in bright sunlight.  Nighttime was too difficult to see to quilt - again, long before Ott lights came along.  I quilted this without a hoop or a thimble, as I never got the hang of using either.  I felt like I had better control of my stitching without the hoop.  And whatever finger I put the thimble on just seemd to end up sticking up in the air, well away from the quilt top!  LOL 

This quilt is starting to show it's age now.  I had it hung on a wall for a long time, and thanks to the bright California sun, it has faded some.  But it's still one of my favorites.  This was the best and most extensive hand-quilting I ever did.  Now, I quilt either on my Bernina or "by check" (longarmer).  I love the feel of the quilting - it's so soft and cuddly.  I suppose this quilt is my "heirloom" quilt, just based on the work and love I invested in it.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the Blogger's Quilt Festival.  It's so fun to see everyone's quilts and read their stories!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Some random stuff . . .

Autumn in Western Washington
I saw this tree the other day and couldn't resist snapping a picture.  Most of the trees haven't done much yet, but a few are in full swing.  Love it!

Back during the 1st week of the month, one day I got a surprise squishy in the mail.  Sweet Belinda over at Brown Dirt Cottage sent me these cute Halloween fabrics to use in the Halloween quilt I'm making.  Thanks, Belinda, I love them all.  Especially those skulls!

This month I was lucky enough to win the Block of the Month drawing at my local quilt guild meeting.  I didn't know it at the time, but these are Antique Tile blocks.  Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville had this pattern in her Addicted to Scraps column for Quiltmaker magazine in the Sept./Oct. issue.  My DS has decided he likes these, so this will be one for him.  I also received one  extra block kit to sew up, so I think I'll let him pick which fabrics he wants for one more block, and then we'll swap out that blue block in the 3rd row.  Add some borders to bring it up to a good size and voila!  Another quilt top.  Pretty cool! 

I've managed to get in the quilt studio a number of times this week.  No photos yet, but I'm making progress.  Hopefully I'll have some photos for the next post.

Giggle for the day:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ta Da!

Doodle Bugs
26 inches square
Doodle Bugs is finished!  Yay!  It was actually done weeks ago, but I couldn't get a decent picture.  Finally, when the sun came out, I could get it.

Edited to add:  You can read all about how the Doodle Bugs came to be here.

I did a scrappy binding.  Mostly because I didn't have enough of any one fabric for the whole thing.  Besides, I think it's more fun, and this quilt told me it wanted to be fun.

You can see the great quilting that Shari did better on the back than on the busy front.  And this is why I sent it to her, instead of doing it myself.  Something this wonderful is way beyond my skills at this point.

Of course, the Quilt Inspector had to come and do the Softness Test.

And the Warmth Test.

The other evening, right before sundown, the rain let up some and the sun came out.  When I went into the Quilt Studio, I saw a rainbow.  So I ran downstairs, grabbing the camera, and out the front to see that it had become a double rainbow on the right hand end.  It's faint . . . can you see it?  We haven't seen a rainbow for a while now, and I love them.

I'm starting to feel a little better, but still am not quite up to snuff.  I've just started on the second antibiotic. I hope this will do the trick.  Right now, I have a good day about every other day.  So, I'm starting to be able to get into the Quilt Studio occasionally, and I'll hopefully have something more to show in a few days!

Question:  how do you feel about the new "Lightbox" feature that Blogger has started?  Do you like it?  I turned it off on my blog, because I don't care for it.  If you prefer it, let me know.  I don't think the photos enlarge well enough with the Lighbox and I like being able to see the details on the quilts.

Fall seems to be off to a good start here.  It's most definitely cooler, it's been raining, and some of the trees and  bushes are starting to turn color.  But what really tells me that it's Autumn is that we're having lots of noisy flocks of geese flying in to land on our pond and then noisily leaving again.  They don't stay long . . . they act like they're in a hurry to get South!  And it's sure getting dark a lot sooner now, and I've had to put a warmer quilt on the bed.  I love Autumn!  Happy Fall, y'all!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Did you miss me?

Long time, no see!  I can't believe it's been 5 weeks since I posted last.  I've missed blogging, but I have been keeping up with everyone's blogs. 
I've been struggling with some health issues the last few months.  I'll skip the gory details.  So, I haven't been up to blogging, and hardly any sewing has occured, which meant there was nothing to blog about either.  I hope I'm on the mend now, and hopefully can post a little more regularly.  *fingers crossed*

This placemat was a birthday gift I made for my friend K in California.  She sent me all these 30's repro selvages, so I thought she might like them back.  *wink*  I had fun making this one.

The back.

And a stretchy bead bracelet that I made for her. She loves lime green and purple, can you tell?

I showed you this charity quilt in-process a while ago.  (These were Block Lotto blocks back in January of this year.)  The top's all done now and passed on to someone else in the guild to do the quilting.  I thought this came out pretty cute, and I hope some child enjoys it.

I've been making slow progress on my Halloween blocks.  I'm not pushing on this . . . just doing one here and there.  No deadline on this one.  Somehow, I keep finding/buying more Halloween fabric that HAS to be in here!  Do you do that too?  You know, keep shopping for fabric for a specific quilt even though you have more than enough fabric for it? 

I thought I would show you some of the flowers around my yard. 

I've been busy with being on the Quilt Show Committee.  The show is in two weeks, so we're coming down to the wire now.  My quilts are all done, except for sewing on some labels.  That's a relief.  That should leave me enough time to do the committee work, hopefully.

My quilt studio is a total disaster.  I can't seem to get in there to sew, but I've done really well at making a mess in there.  I was ready to put the D9P/I Spy blocks that I'm making for my DGD up on the design wall, but now I can't find them!  So, I really have to get in there and get things picked up and put away.  Ugh.

I'll have pictures of one of the finished Sneak Peeks from last post next time I'm here.  It's all done, I just haven't done photos yet.

Have a great week!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sneak Peeks!

I have gotten 2 more quilts back from Shari the Quilter.  Dunkel couldn't wait and had to test one out right away.  He looks pretty comfy, doesn't he?

Sneak Peek #1

This one has been waiting for the quilting for quite a while.  I'm glad it's finally done.
I'm getting the binding ready to go right now.

Sneak Peek #2

Still debating binding options for this one.

I'm anxious to get these two done!