Thursday, January 2, 2014

Throwback Thursday....Discovering Forgotten Treasures

I'm marching on in my quilt room; I'm determined to reduce my stash and eliminate things that will never see the light of day again.  Today I tackled the basket that held all of my small, unfinished projects.  I discovered a bag full of yellow/blue half-square triangles.  I know that these date from about 2002 when I was working on a yellow and blue sampler quilt.

What can you do with a bag of triangles?  I decided to make a small baby quilt of out mine.  It measures 34 x 46 and is a perfect "infant" quilt.  I love the soft blues and yellows in this (yes, I'm a sucker for blue and yellow).



It took me about three hours, but I finished off the diamonds, cut remaining squares that were in the bag for the first border, and found a cute striped print for the outer border.  I also found a great backing in my "kiddie quilt fabric" box, and Guy is going to get this quilted for me in the morning.

I also threw out several patterns that were never going to see completion.  I reorganized all my small embroidery projects (so that's where they went), and was able to put all my batting strips big enough to be sewn together in one spot so I can access them when I need them.

It helps that this was my view from the window this afternoon:


Nothing like doing a little sewing on a "snowing" day....hope you had a good one.  If you're up in the Northeast or Midwest, stay warm and indoors.  It's going to be a nasty day tomorrow.

I had a great January 2nd....I'm working on keeping positive and moving forward in 2014.

From snowy Virginia,

Kathy


Monday, December 30, 2013

Struggling with Design....How to Finish a Top that Didn't Quite Live up to Expectations....


I've been back in my sewing room, continuing my work with "found blocks."  This morning, I decided to concentrate on this:




These blocks were started last August.....as you can see from the photo above, I was struggling with whether or not to sash them and what color to use.  The pinks, all of which actually look OK together when you just stack them up next to each other, were just fighting each other and the greys on my design wall.  I just couldn't seem to get a layout that I liked.  I tried it without sashing, but this time I alternated the center brown blocks so there was at least some symmetry to the layout. I swear those browns looked almost identical in value when I was using them, but obviously one of them is significantly darker than the other.

 
Today I bit the bullet and decided that a rich, small-print brown with white would serve for the sashing strips.  Now I'm contemplating whether to add a gray border or not; I'm looking to make this a tad larger; right now it's 49 x 64; I'll probably take it up to 60 x 74, which will make a nice lap-sized quilt.
 
 


Have you ever started a quilt with pretty concrete notions and a good sense of confidence as to what you wanted, and had it "go south" on you?  I was determined to make this quilt from my stash, and use grey, brown and pink variations.    I found fat quarters, a few solids, some scraps, and some minimal yardage.  The block pattern is from Creative Sewlutions; it's Dee Moore's "Dupont Circle". 

I keep trying to push my boundaries away from "safe" and "matchy-matchy".....I guess this is an example of an exercise that turned out "all right" but doesn't necessarily have me overwhelmed with delight......but I'm happy I was able to rescue it and it will make a nice lap napping quilt for someone.

Have a good day....sometimes you just have to keep on keeping on.....these blocks aren't sitting in a drawer anymore!  That's a good thing....

Kathy

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Some Post-Christmas Projects

Yesterday was such a quiet day, I decided it would be nice to sew a little before I started in on dinner for Guy and me.  I was able to finish up two projects that are gifts (these didn't require wrapping or mailing).

I had made a Christmas block for our quilt guild exchange, but got sick and didn't go.  Instead, I turned it into a pillow for my neighbor, Vickie.  The colors match the quilt I made for her last Christmas.  I think it's a pretty cheerful little house decoration:

 
I had some scraps left from Tracey's Christmas tree skirt, so I did a disappearing nine-patch table topper.  I think this is going to be another gift for her.....it will go perfectly on her coffee table and match her new d├ęcor.
 
 


I started putting together some scrappy "little monkeys" and snowball blocks early last year.  I just kept plugging away at them and finally got a 7 x 7 baby quilt finished.  My baby quilt supply is sadly lacking right now (well, I'm happy that so many new babies got quilts this year---7 in all), but I always like to keep a supply on hand.  This was made from dress scraps from the 40s and 50s, mixed in with some of my 30s/40s reproduction fabrics.  It's pretty cheerful, don't you think?


I so rarely use plain white anymore....I love the crispness of it.  This will make a sweet addition to my
"new baby" collection for future gift-giving.

It feels good to accomplish something concrete so soon after Christmas; what with my cold and just the anticipation of the holidays, I found it hard to concentrate on much in my quilt room over the last few weeks.  Now I'm sort of on a roll to see what other UFOs I can finish before the New Year. 

Hope you all had a blessed holiday with family and friends.  Stay warm.......and just for fun, here's a photo of the sweet baby girl who has captured our hearts this year...our newest granddaughter, Paije.



Kathy

Monday, November 18, 2013

Twisting Around on a Monday....


I decided to take a 1/2-day off from my work on Esther's quilt yesterday and try my hand at a technique that has fascinated me:  the Twister template.  We finished this quilt for one of our clients and I thought a Christmas table runner might be nice.  I've detailed what I did below and thought you might like some comments on my experience.


I picked out some fat quarters that were in my Christmas "box of goodies" that didn't marry too well with anything else I had (I couldn't figure out any particular patterns for them), and I made the basic "grid" of 6 across/4 down, with 4-inch borders, using the sample pattern included with the Template.



 The colors look pretty dull in this photo, but the golds are rich, the green and red stripe is nice, and I thought the multi-colored stripe was interesting.  I added a Christmas beige for contrast. I added the 4-inch border from some border scraps I had left from a previous project.

I got out the Midi-Twister ruler that I bought a few weeks ago.  This ruler uses 6-1/2 inch blocks to end with 4 1/4-inch blocks.  The Midi-Twister is heavy-weight, marked plastic, with round fixed ball feet, that rests securely on the cutting mat, and raises the template a few millimeters above the fabric.  It doesn't shift like lightweight template plastics that you might cut out yourself, and I'm sure it's infinitely safer for your fingers.




An hour or so of (mostly careful) cutting and sewing, and I ended up with this:



Now I need to add a gold border, and get my hubby to get it quilted.  I thought I would share some "lessons learned" with you.

1.  Since I didn't have much in the way of directions, I found a few tutorials on YouTube and used them to think about how to organize my basic block layout.  I settled on a modified diagonal design with 4 fabrics in a a 6 x 4 grid.  I wish I had substituted a bright red for the "blah" cream....this really doesn't say "Christmas" to me unless you get pretty close to it.  The tutorials did a good job of emphasizing how to organize the blocks after they were cut....which is critical to keep the "twisting" pattern, and not so easy to figure out if you mix the blocks up after cutting them.

2.  I was halfway through cutting when I decided to add some spray starch to my basic fabric grid.  I used Maryellen's Best Press and  I wish I had done it earlier.  It kept the fabric much more stable and less prone to modest wrinkling along the seams.

3.  I believe that a rotating cutting mat might be useful here.  I could get three cuts down pretty well using my left hand (I'm left-handed), but had to shift the cutter to my right hand for the last cut. That is always a somewhat risky move.......

4.  I switched from a 45-mm rotary cutter to a 60-mm blade after the first row was cut.  The 60-mm blade had enough height to avoid getting caught on the raised template surface.  The 45-mm blade housing kept bumping into the template and my hand would swerve...that did not make for a "pretty" cut block......

5.  I will have to think about doing another one of these.  It was fun, and fairly interesting to see how my design would come out, but I haven't quite got tons of enthusiasm for sewing a fairly substantial piecing effort together, cutting it apart, and then sewing it again, plus the waste material is about 30% or so...not that I'm complaining--I knew that.  I also read one blogger's comments that she had so much trouble cutting with her rotary cutter around the template that she drew in pencil and then cut everything out with scissors.  Seems to defeat the cost of the raised template for me.

I would be happy to hear some other's comments about doing a Twister quilt, or using a Twister template.  Here's a sneak peak at Esther's "Woodlands" quilt...the design is from Modern Quilts Illustrated #2.....I'm almost done with the top....one more long seam to sew, pressing, and borders.



Hopefully I'll have photos to share tomorrow.  Have a fun-day Monday!

Kathy

Monday, November 4, 2013

Playing Around......or "Monday Fun Day"......

 
 
I decided today was a good day to play in my sewing room.  I gave myself "permission" to forget about my "must do" list and did some fun things.
 
When we were in Richmond this weekend, Tracey told me that Watson, their cat, was very disappointed when they moved him off of the "baby quilt" that she bought from me for a little nephew that's due pretty soon.  I've made lots of quilts for Tracey, but I decided that Watson needed his own...and I knew I had some kitty fabric somewhere.  So this morning, I went digging around in my stash and here's the result:
 
 
 



 We've been around Watson so long that I think it's time we did something nice for him.....he's a pretty cool cat.  Here's a picture of him I took a few months ago in Paper Artist---he deserves his own quilt, don't you think?


Tracey and I had a fun time shopping on Saturday at Quilting Adventures in Richmond. I will probably live to regret this, but I decided to start gathering up fabrics for Bonnie Hunter's annual mystery, which starts around Thanksgiving.  Her theme this year is Celtic Solstice, and you can find all the information about it at http://www.quiltville.blogspot.com/p/celtic-solstice-mystery.html.

Bonnie used these paint chips to  guide her selections:


The addition of the shamrock fabric is totally mine.....but this fabric is definitely going to find its way into my quilt.  I want to do this quilt primarily in batiks, but I've decided that solids, mottles, and hand-dyes are allowed in, as long as they play well with others.  Here's what I've assembled so far. 

I really like the thought of using primary colors in a quilt for a change.  The only time I tend to stay this bold is when I am doing a children's or baby quilt, and I can imagine that this color palette will be fun to work with if the weather turns dreary in December.  I bought a few 1/2-yard cuts of fabric in Richmond, as well as a few fat quarters, and this morning I started pulling fabrics.  Who KNEW I had so much solid yellow and yellow batik?





I've found a home for these in a storage box, and I can't wait for the first clue to be released on November 29th.  "Easy Street" from last winter's challenge has finally found a home with my niece in Los Angeles......about time. 

Have a great week.....take some time to play.......Kathy

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Overdue for an Update!

Wow, I haven't posted on my blog in 7 months.  It's not that I haven't been busy....it's that I got a smart phone....guess where all my photos have been.  And I've been to lazy to transfer them to my computer and/or learn how to access them from the Cloud.

Time to fix that.

First of all, here is a look at some of my most recent work.  I've gotten into the holiday spirit (early) since Tracey asked me to make here a tree skirt to match her new furniture.  She added a really nice blue to her palate of muted red and greens and I found just the right fabric.  The primary fabric is "Winter Birds" from Timeless Treasures; it was nice working with grays and blues as well as traditional Christmas fabrics on this.

 
 
 
Here's a sweet little Christmas baby quilt from a pre-printed panel and some sashings.  Looks perfect for Paige, don't you think?
 



I also dug out a Christmas block I won in an exchange several years ago; it is now a soft little pillow for Christmas decorating:




I've got a queen-size quilt started for my girlfriend, Esther.  It is taking shape but it was fun to get "distracted" by some early holiday pieces.

Hope you have a great Halloween tonight....don't let the goblins get you! (I made this pillowcase for my nephew Nicky in Los Angeles, just for a fun "treat")........


See you soon(er).......Kathy

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A March Finish....and other assorted Quilt Trivia..


Wow, I can't believe it's been so long since I've done a post.  I've been working, just not very good at sharing this month.  Plus, we did get in a bit of a vacation when we drove up to Lancaster for the AQS show.

I finished up the Amish Roman Stripes quilt for my client in Winchester and delivered it two weeks ago.  I forgot to take a picture of the whole quilt, but here's a segment showing some of the quilting.  We did a "modified Baptist Fan" on it:



I tried a two-color binding for the first time; it was a little more time-consuming than I thought, but the end result was worth it; burgundy binding on the front, and a royal blue on the back, so the reverse is completely monochromatic,

I finally made my decisions for sashing and finishing on my "Sew Red for Women" sampler quilt.  Guy quilted some simple ivy leaves on it, and I think it's very cheerful:


Of course, we all know this should have been done in February; I'll probably never make another quilt that screams "Valentine's Day" like this one.....

Now I'm working on a baby quilt for some friends, using blue and green batiks.  Almost have all the blocks done for this, but I've got to replace one set of blocks here:


 
I'm sure you can see that the pale blue batiks just don't make it here; even Guy was "uh, honey, this looks good but there's something wrong with those blocks."  Do you ever forge ahead on piecing, just knowing in your heart that it's not going to work?  Probably just my Irish stubborness.  However, replacement blocks won't take too long, and this top should be finished today.

Check back later this week....Easy Street is completely quilted, bindings are cut, and once I gather up enough strength to wrestle it around sewing the binding on, it will be another finish.

Have a wonderful Easter weekend....we're just happy there's No Snow!!!!

Kathy