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).