Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Sunset Over the Lake" is Finished

Finished on the 23rd of December (except for the label) "Sunset Over the Lake" was given to my son on Christmas eve. Despite the fact that I asked him what colors he would like a quilt to be, he did not expect it.

**The finished quilt measures 85 x 85 inches
**It contains 1872 triangles (I think I've counted correctly this time)
**It also contains roughly 90 different fabrics, including fabric from two of my son's old Hawaiian shirts (which he was able to pick out easily!)
**The 9 blocks were assembled by quarters, each quarter assembled with standard piecing and some paper-pieced.
**The quilt was professionally and beautifully machine-quilted in a moderately-sized meandering pattern by Cheryl Dennis of Finally Quilted in Westford, MA.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Falling Off the Blog Wagon & Current Project

Here it is September, and clearly I have fallen off the blog wagon after an enthusiastic start. It is my intention to blog about old projects in addition to the current, but I started to get a bit hung up chasing down pictures, which would then have to be scanned. And then there was the decisions involved around how to organize and possibly group projects so they could be written about. I got busy and well, I fell off the wagon.

In an effort to climb back on, I will introduce my current project in progress.

Recently I bought Jinny Beyer's The Quilter's Album and used it to find an interesting pattern for a quilt for my grown son. The book offers 4050 grid patterns with a colored in version, all the calculations and mechanics of making the block is up to you.

Here is what my chosen block looked like. It's based on a 16X16 grid, which I have chosen to make each grid block 2 X 2 inches (because I don't want to work with the smaller squares and half triangles). There are 196 triangles in this block!

I took some time to work out how I would put the block together and after some hairpulling, I decided to work the smaller triangles in strips by paper piecing. Not my favorite method, but I felt it would be the most sane route. I like a scrappy so I have used different blues and oranges in each block, with a few of the yellows repeating (10 fabrics, including fabrics taken from 2 of his old Hawaiian-style shirts). The colors, blue and orange, are his choice. And here is what a completed block looks like:

And here is what pictures of the 6 completed blocks look like brought together with Photoshop:

I've definitely gained some gray hairs putting these blocks together and attempting to match all those triangle points (currently 1176 triangles with 3 more blocks to go). I'm not a perfectionist by any means, but there has been some serious seam-ripping and re-stitching. I'm using my 1/4 foot now, despite the fact that it tends to slide on the paper.

So, that's what I'm working on now.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Kitchen Valance: Mating Magenta & Yellow-Green:

My house is of the open concept style, the living room, dining area and kitchen are pretty much one room visually. A few years ago, I pulled a lovely deep magenta color out of a floral art print I adored ("Larkspur" by Laura Hills which I had seen at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston)and painted my living room and dining area that. It was daring and scary but oh so liberating! The magenta runs right up to the new kitchen cabinets. The accent color in the kitchen is a yellow green (California Paints: "grass root"). For a valance fabric, I needed to bring the two together.

Since going magenta, I'd been to several stores which sold decorator fabric, including my nearby Calico Corners store, but I could find nothing with my kind of palette until recently. On impulse I dropped into Calico Corners thinking I would find the neutrals and toned down colors I had seen about two years before, but instead, I discovered that colors had brightened up since I was there last. I fell immediately in love with this peony print and stripe, bought 2 yards of the floral (linen) and somewhat less of the stripe (a heavyweight cotton).

I didn't know what kind of valance I wanted when I bought the material, so when I did decide, I had to mull over how I could make it work. First, where to position the big peonies. Second. I wanted the stripes going horizontal not vertical, so I didn't have enough fabric to back the curtain with the stripe fabric. So, it got backed with a good quality muslin. There was a lot of measuring before cutting, but it worked up fairly quickly. Michael offered to put up the cafe rod (not really enough room for a more bulky rod), which is a project because we have to get up on the granite counter to do it. I arranged and tied curtain before we hung it. *Here is a recent photo–which replaces earlier ones taken when there was too much light outside.(we are still waiting for the tile-setter to come do the backsplash, so that's why the green paint abruptly ends on its lower end).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pink Overload!

The last two quilts destined for Alabama, as mentioned in an earlier post were mailed out on Monday and received by Bama Bound quilts today. Here are the finished quilts with their accompanying tote bags and animals (plus two extras for Bama Bound to put with some quilts that did not arrive with any). I did make some little bonnets for the monkeys so that they would match the tote and quilts.

The quilts were machine-quilted with basic, wavy diagonal lines. I try to always take some close-up photos of the quilts, plus a shot that shows the backing, all for my own reference. It's definitely time to move on to some new projects (I have a valance for the kitchen to make providing I am not distracted by something else).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dogs & Cats: My Sister's Quilt

My sister has raised puppies for the Seeing Eye® program in Delaware for a long time now. In 2004 I came up with the idea for a quilt to commemorate all the puppies she has raised, many of which went on to help the blind and visually-impaired. Some who failed their tests became her pets. This quilt sports pictures of all of her pets and Seeing Eye® puppies through 2004. Since that time, we have made up more photo blocks with the hopes of appliqueing them over one of the flowered areas (not sure how that's going).

This quilt pattern was adapted from the book Quilts from the Quiltmaker's Gift. The Quiltmaker's Gift is a lovely children's picture book written by Jeff Brumbeau, and illustrated by Gail De Marcken, published in 2001. Directions for many of the quilts pictured in the storybook are given in "Quilts From" and a second quilt book.

The quilt you see on the cover of the quilt book is the one my sister's quilt has been adapted from. I changed all the measurements so as to accommodate a 5 x 7 inch photo. My sister supplied the photos, of course, and the logo & dates. I cropped, arranged and sized them on Photoshop, and printed them out on special photo-fabric.
There are some great photos on here! The ones with the logo are the Seeing Eye® puppies, those without were not part of the program.

I believe the quilt is full-sized and machine quilted by me in a random loopy pattern (this was my early days of machine quilting). It was begun in 2004 and finished by the end of the year. I should note here that it appears that I never took a picture of the entire quilt. I suppose I was trying to get closer so that the photos would show up. Here I have placed two "half pictures" in rough approximation.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Red Room Quilts

In 2007 a network of about 25 women readers from the US, UK, Canada and Australia got together on a book cataloging and social site called LibraryThing. Although we were all active on the public forums (we do love to talk about books), we squirreled ourselves away at times in a private group where we could talk a bit freer and share on more personal topics. We called this private room "The Red Room" for the room which Jane Eyre was sent to when she was punished (we were making a more positive use of the name). Since that beginning in June 2007, many of us have met in person, and we have Skyped each other, exchanged gifts and cards, and generally been supportive of each other.

In October 2007 we got word that one of our members had had a sudden incident that involved spinal damage, the result of which was the loss of use of her legs. Computers reach all over the world, but they can't extend a human hand in a time of need. We all wanted to DO something, and felt frustrated and powerless to help. I thought we might make a friendship quilt and volunteered the labor and extra materials if others would donate a piece of fabric of their choice, or make some other creative contribution for the project. We used as a central place for members to find a fabric and have it sent here. Wendy in Northern California sent a small cross stitch piece, Maggie in New York sent an embroidered piece, Caroline in London wrote a poem and we printed that out on fabric. On special fabric, we printed out photographs some of the members had taken, or photographs of a few of the members.

The fabrics arrived (and here I should note that we got extra fabric because other members wanted pieces so that they too could make their own Red Room quilt). But how to put all of these very, very different patterns together?

Kim's quilt. Started around January 2008 and based on the easy "Yellow Brick Road" pattern, this lap-sized quilt combines fabrics representing all of our members, plus other creative bits like those noted above. The blocks were bordered with a small strip of black and then a larger strip of scraps. This was machine quilted by me, free motion, in a random loopy pattern but also accommodated specific elements in the quilt. The quilt was sent to Kim in Australia in 2008. It was our hope that, although we could not be there physically to help her through her rehab, she would know that there were people all over the world thinking of her and cheering her on her uphill road.

The Second Quilt. Almost simultaneously, I worked on a second quilt for another of our members who had recently had back surgery. This quilt used the "Flying Geese" pattern and is bordered by rows of squares. The quilt was also machine quilted by me but—for the first time—I quilted a specific pattern instead of a random one. This was done by drawing a pattern onto Golden Threads Quilting paper, pinning the paper on to the quilt, and then stitching it free motion. I think it came out okay. The quilt was sent to the UK but the member virtually disappeared from the online group and apparently moved house. The quilt was eventually returned to me and we decided as a group to donate it to victims of the Australian bush fires in Victoria in early 2009.

The Third...Quilt. I still had some leftovers after finishing the first two quilts, so I began to mindlessly sew together black and printed squares to make half square triangles. I played with them until they made a nice pattern and the resulting unfinished quilt top is pictured below or as Quilt 2 on a previous blog post about unfinished projects.

**Maggie, a member from New York made a stunning tied crazy quilt with the same fabrics. She embellished it by embroidering enhancements around specific design elements in the fabrics or inventing her own. For example, she embroidered a rocket ship on a starry navy blue print, and clothing on the monkeys in the sock monkey print...etc. That woman needs a blog to showcase her work!


Saturday, June 4, 2011

More Bama Bound Quilts

I had so much fun making and sending off the previous two quilts that I thought I'd make two more (well, I thought it would be one, but there were leftovers...).

I had this "jelly roll*" of hot pinks setting on one of my shelves. It was once meant as a gift to a pink-loving quilter, but as fate would have it, she gave up quilting and set me her pink and red stash (a delightful surprise!), before I had the opportunity to send the jelly roll to her. So, the roll just sat around here and I wondered what I would ever do with that many pinks.

When Michelle at Bama Bound Quilts announced that they had identified another 45 kids who could use quilts, I knew then how the jelly roll would be used!

I combined the strips from the jelly roll with other 2 1/2 inch strips from my scrap stash (say that 3 times fast!) and with some fresh cuts and away I went! This is a basic rail fence pattern. Each block is 6 1/2 inches.

But I had leftovers! About 24 rail fence blocks, and lots of end pieces (strips of 3 - 2 1/2 inch squares). Well, okay, if I make up a few more strips, I could put them together as 9-square blocks, but how to mate them with the rail fence blocks...

A friend happened to send an email right about that time with a picture of a Kaffe Fassett quilt she thought she might like to make. As best I could tell, he built the quilt from the middle out, using successively larger squares (based on the number 24, i think). That gave me the idea of building from the middle by putting all of the 9 square blocks there and surrounding them with the rail fence blocks. To make the quilt big enough, I added another ring of 6 1/2 squares with rail fence blocks on the corners. It's pretty wild, but some kid is going to love it.

*the link is to show a random example of jelly rolls. The one I bought had been cut and put together by one of my local quilt shops.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Scraptastic Days & Nights!

My grandparents, parents and relatives, who lived through the lean years of the 20th century, salvaged and saved everything for reuse or re-purposing at some later date. By example, I was taught to do the same. I grew up in the era where we made cute things out of toilet paper rolls, plastic dish soap bottles and tomato trays. We even made Christmas trees out of digest magazines. It seems that our culture has in the last few decades moved away from those lean-thinking times. No one wants to make things out of toilet paper rolls these days.

I've learned to not save everything, but when it comes to fabric, the old ways mostly still rule. I save all of the scraps I generate for reuse in other projects. OK, maybe not all...

In the last few years, I developed a more organized way to save my scraps bringing a bit of sanity into the process:

-- large pieces (fat quarter or larger) are folded and re-filed in my many boxes.

-- Smaller pieces are cut into squares depending on the size of the scrap (or the mood I'm in at the time),ranging from 6 inch to 2 inch (I no longer cut them smaller, but I used to!) They are sometimes cut into strips, mostly 2 1/2 inches, but they can be as small as an inch.

--An older fat quarter that has fallen out of favor may be completely cut into squares and strips.

--Any scraps of special occasion fabric go in my Victorian crazy quilt box. I sometimes save old denim and I have been known to salvage the fabric of 100% cotton men's shirts.

I keep the various size scraps together in an assortment of shelves and boxes for ready use. The 4 inch squares have been sorted into a. mostly white & off-white b. prints c. tiny prints d. novelty & brights e. solids & semi-solids f. Kaffe Fasset. The reason they are organized is, of course, for ease of use; however, sometimes I just like to play with them and this is the result.

I like making quilts with scraps or with a scrappy-look. There can be a certain zen to ironing and cutting scraps, whether it be one scrap at a time, or 6 bigger pieces cut all at once. And, while the old ways rule, they now also ROCK because baby, it is now cool to reuse, re-purpose, recycle, and be GREEN! (although I doubt anyone is making things out of toilet paper rolls again).

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Helping the Tornado victims in Joplin, Missouri

We have seen the devastation in Joplin, Missouri after an E5 tornado destroyed have the city. Over 140 people lost their lives (and the count is still going up), and countless others lost everything they owned.

There are ways we can all help. To make contributions, Charity Navigator has a list of charities raising money for this disaster. They include local food bank, Habitat for Humanity, and The American Red Cross. This website (also a non-profit) has financial information on each charity and shows how much of monies collected gets to the needy.

If you are a quilter and want to help out other quilts, or help by using your quilting/knitting skills, here is what I have found:

1. Bittersweet Quilts, a shop in Joplin, is looking for homemade quilts. They are also hoping for donations of a matching sheet set to make it easier for the bedding to be given out. See the linked page for addresses and additional specifications.

2. The Ackfeld Manufacturing Co. is collecting quilts for Joplin, working through churches and local organizations. From their FaceBook page: "Rebuilding "One Patch At A Time" We are collecting Quilts for the victims of Joplin. If you have any that you would like to donate please send to Ackfeld Mfg @ 360 Emerson Rd Reeds Spring, Mo 65737. Let's show Joplin the love of Quilters."

3. There is some talk on the web that the Springfield, Missouri chapter of Project Linus has already sent blankets to Joplin, and will be sending more. I don't see anything on their website, but contact information is on the site. "...It is our mission to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, victims of natural disasters or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer 'blanketeers'." Specifications for knitted, crocheted and quilted blankets are on the site.

4. The Town and Country Quilters Guild of Joplin, which makes quilts for the needy (172 just last year), lost all of their quilting supplies when the house they were stored in was destroyed. All of their fabric, batting, rotary cutters, cutting boards..etc are gone. Donations of quilting supplies are being accepted by the guild representative and can be mailed to: Gloria Park, 2921 N. Hickory,Joplin, Missouri 64801. (btw, the only JoAnns fabric store in town was also destroyed). They will also take checks, gift cards ...etc See Susan Brubaker Knapp's website for more details.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Unfinished Quilt Projects

Because I can't talk about my very latest project until after the recipient has received it (just in case she's listening), I thought I'd document some of my unfinished quilts, recently unearthed during my pizza box project.

Quilt 1. The Irish Chain Quilt.

Might have been started in 2007/08, the Irish Chain quilt is just a pattern I wanted to try. Since it had no specific place to go, I suppose I didn't feel the urgency to finish it.

Quilt 2. The 3rd Red Room Quilt (2008). I will document the "red room quilts" at another time, but after making 2 quilts with fabrics chosen/donated by online book friends, I was on a roll and in possession of scraps I didn't want to waste. Thus, this small quilt top came about. Just tooling around.

Quilt 3. The Batik Circle quilt (2007). My daughter was "house mom" to several middleschoolers for a year at the private middle school where she taught. They had a big blank wall in their common room over the couch, and that is where this "wall hanging" was destined for. Unfortunately, my daughter took a different teaching job half way across the country and that took the urgency out of finishing it. Currently it is the size of a small lap quilt and I have another 30+ quarter circle blocks made up that could be added to it. In this picture the blocks have just been arranged but I doubt this is how they ended up.

Quilt 4. The eye-searing kids' quilt (2006). This is another quilt top I made for the fun of it. It hung, folded over a cardboard tube, on my closet door for what seemed like ages. It disappeared from there and honestly, I thought I had finished it and given it away, but there it was buried under "stuff". This is a twin-sized top. I've forgotten where the pattern came from.

Quilt 5. The Divorce Quilt (2001?)

I started making this scrap quilt for my oldest daughter and her then husband back in 2001 (?), but they separated and divorced (they were so young...), and well, that killed my enthusiasm to finish it. When I pulled this out just now to take a picture of it, I realized that the top was much more finished than I remembered. The overall effect is nice, but I shudder to look at how badly all those little seams line up (I used to have a problem "eyeballing" a 1/4 inch seam.)

Quilt 6. The Pink Quilt (2010)

I have 30+ little 6 inch blocks for a pink quilt I was making for a friend. After I had completed the blocks I laid them out and thought the whole thing looked horrible, so I canned it then and there, and moved on to another quilt for her. There was just too much pink. I had some ideas around some bordering for each block to dilute the "pink effect", but set it aside to work on the new quilt.

Quilt 7. The Victorian Crazy Quilt

I can tell you now that this quilt will never be finished. The amount of work in this one 20-inch block is substantial. The block is machine-pieced of mostly special occasion fabrics (velvets, brocades, jacquards, silks, satins, taffetas ("Taffeta, Darling!"), and then embellished with different stitches of embroidery in various kinds and colors of floss, also lace, beads, charms...etc. I made a few projects during this period, and I loved experimenting and playing. Not sure my eyes are up to such work now. This block will become a pillow eventually, I think.

There. I have confessed all.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Bama Bound Quilts

My most recent project, finished this morning, are two quilts for the Bama Bound Quilt project, which aims to provide a quilt, tote & small stuffed animal to children who were victims of the Alabama tornadoes.

One of the many benefits of not being able to resist cute, colorful or otherwise eye-catching fabrics is that you have lots on hand for "emergency" projects such as this.

I can't remember where this pattern came from, but it is a very easy one and would work up quickly. Essentially, one cuts 4 inch and 2 inch strips from various "fat quarters" and then sew one of each together. After pressing, you cut from the assembled piece, 4 inch and 2 inch pieces. Mix & match and sew one of each together. Assemble 4 in a block and alternate with 10 inch squares.

The quilts were layered with a light cotton batting, and backed with the same extra wide, blue/purple/teal batik that I backed my previous quilt in. I machine quilted it with wavy diagonal lines, roughly 5 inches apart.

Pictured is a "girl quilt" and a "boy quilt" with their totes and beanies. Also, two extra totes & animals I volunteered to donate to go with quilts they received without them. The tote bags are made out of denim and lined with whatever half yard piece I could find. I purchased the strapping. Again, an easy-peasy pattern.

Both the block pattern and the tote pattern can be scaled easily to any size.

As someone said elsewhere recently, "I can't build a house in Alabama, but I can make a quilt!" I hope someone will come forward to do the same for the victims of the Joplin, Missouri tornado.

Friday, May 27, 2011

All Mixed Up But Not Crazy quilt

I recently finished a quilt for a friend in her favorite colors (and many of mine). The pattern is from Batiks and Beyond by Laurie Shifrin. I liked the "mixed-up" look to this quilt, the pattern aptly named "all mixed up but not crazy." The quilt is made by assembling 2 different blocks, (very similar except that one block is an inch long than the other - thus one is a square and the other a rectangle) and a strip of 1 1/2 squares. Vertical rows are created using a variety of the blocks and strip, but each row adding up to the same length. The rows are then sewn together and the quilt is finished.

Here is where I tell you that I am not a perfectionist. There is always a bit of fudging in my quilts! Fudging is a fine art in and of itself. After I assembled the quilt, I realized that somewhere along the line, one end of the quilt had about 3/4 inch more than the other. A little fudge, a trim here and there, plus the distraction of a busy pattern—who would know? (quite obviously, you now, because I've told you).

I finished the quilt by machine stitching a random loopy pattern. I do this on my regular sewing machine while humming waltzes (it gives me a rhythm to move the fabric by). It's not easy—a sneeze or a moment of distraction can make a nice loop go in unwanted directions. Still, for me, it's not about perfection.

Just a bit about the colors. I was confident going into this project that the deeper purples, blues and teals would jive wonderful, but I was less confident about the lighter hues I added: the lavender, sea green...etc. I mixed batiks which, because they aren't a solid color, helps to move the eye from piece to piece, and other patterned fabrics that create movement in a different. Not every fabric ended up being a perfect fit, but the effect turned out as I wanted it to.

When you make a quilt for someone else, you think about them throughout the whole process. There is a lot of affection worked into the pieces, the layers and the threads.

Photos: 1. The quilt's vertical rows laid out. 2. Finished! (but not washed yet) 3. The batik backing. 4.Close-up of machine quilting 5. Crinkling effect after washing. This quilt is lap-quilt size, but made closer to a square shape.

(Clearly I need to spend some more time messing around with the html so I can get those pictures exactly where I want them!)