Monday, December 31, 2012

A year in review

I was thinking I hadn't really done much this year, but looking back at my blog posts I see that I have finished a few rather large quilts and some tops. I also have a few more things in progress. They aren't UFO's yet!

For the record, here are the 2012 finishes.
Completed quilts:
Pointless Lone Star, 86 x 86,
pattern by Sarah Fielke

Transformer Stars, 76 x 81,
original design by me

70 x 84 inches.

Texas A&M zigzag quilt, 56 x 76.

Triangle Love, 69 x 84,
modified Chopsticks pattern

Scrappy Churn Dash, 61 x 61,
modified Bonnie Hunter mystery

Tops added to the pile waiting for quilting:
Humble Quilts QAL, 19.5 x 26 inches.

Pandora, 63 x 63.

Monkey Wrench, 69 x 75.

Some non-quilting finishes:
Potholders using this tutorial.
Reversible apron using this tutorial.
And another reversible apron using the same tutorial.
And now I can look forward to the new year. Hope you are having a happy one so far.

End of the year finishes

These two have been finished for a few weeks, but I didn't have both a sunny day and a tall enough quilt holder at the same time until yesterday.

This one is going to my new niece, who was born at the beginning of the month. The size is a bit big for a baby quilt, but I think she'll grow into it. The fabrics are so cheerful they make me smile.

Scrappy Churn Dash, 61 x 61.
My version of Bonnie Hunter's mystery Roll Roll Cotton Boll.
Scrappy Churn Dash back.

This one was claimed by my husband while I was making it. I was surprised, but if he wants it, he can certainly have it. He's worth it.

Love Triangle, 69 x 84
"Chopsticks" pattern by Jaybird Quilts
with some fabric placement changes.
Love Triangle back.
In preparation for the new year, I have updated my UFO list and list of tops that need quilting. I've made backs and binding for all those tops too. Now I just need to get them quilted! 

I also gave my sewing machine a good cleaning and a new needle, and I replaced the blade in my rotary cutter. Wow! I hadn't realized how dull it had gotten until I cut something with the new blade. I'm ready now to quilt those tops, finish those UFO's and, of course, start some new projects in 2013.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The story of a very bossy quilt

Once upon a time (a couple months ago) I found this white dotted fabric and brought it home to keep some of my stash company. The fabric kept begging to become a baby quilt. A churn dash quilt of six-inch blocks to be exact. I pulled some fabrics from my stash, but I needed at least another orange and something to balance the brown with blue spots. And I didn't need to make this baby quilt. I needed to make a gray and yellow one.

I tried to ignore this pile of fabric, but the begging grew louder. The only solution was a trip to the quilt shop, which I was pleasantly surprised to find has expanded into the space next to it! I bought more fabric, not all of which will be used because this is to be a baby quilt after all, not a king. I was a little low on orange fabric anyway so this should all work out.

With the fabric all washed and ironed, I started making the parts of the churn dash blocks so I could arrange them on the wall and see which layout it wanted to be. 

Option 1: Checkerboard

Option 2: Rows

Option 3: Medallion style

Option 4: An X 

Option 5: Four patches
Four patches it was. But a disagreement had developed between the brown with blue dotted fabric and the other fabrics so a butterscotch fabric was substituted.

The butterscotch was better, but not a perfect fit so one orange and one blue-green block were substituted.
The fabric has stopped speaking to me, but I know that if I don't get these blocks sewn together soon the begging will resume. I wish the yellow and gray fabric would speak to me. I need to get that baby quilt started before that baby arrives next month.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Work in Progress

Thanks to six hours in a small plane over the Thanksgiving holiday, I have finished appliqueing one of my Pumpkin Peel blocks. 

I tried to prep a second block before my trip, but didn't get enough arcs made. I've been working after work most nights on making more arcs, and now I have enough for another block. These suckers take a long time to make and cover the sewing table in lots of little scraps.

I have a couple quilts waiting for bindings as soon as I clear some space to work on them, and a quilt idea nagging at me for attention. And then, like a squirrel to a dog, I went off in another direction after getting a jolt of inspiration.

A holiday wall hanging of 3-inch wreath blocks. I have the center block sewn and only eight more to go! I'm not sure why I'm gravitating toward applique lately. I don't have the best track record in finishing those projects, and with this weekend's weather in the 60s (15 C), it's hard to believe it's December.

Monday, November 19, 2012

An ongoing distraction

In July, I saw this post and thought this would be a great way for someone as anal retentive as I am to make an improve-like block. I so admire them, but can't loosen up enough to be very successful.

After making a few blocks with scrap strips, I thought about making a striped quilt with applique in between. Good plan if I didn't want to finish it. Maybe a medallion. Then I remembered a very, very old UFO using similar colors.

Thank goodness I left myself a fabric legend.
This particular UFO was from a guild challenge. We put the names of quilt blocks, colors and objects into a hat, and five were drawn that we had to incorporate into a wall hanging. Green, orange, frog, mariner's compass and something else was drawn. I had about half the compass, which I'd drafted myself, done.
Why did this become a UFO? Because I drafted the pieces way too small for success.
Years later, I have learned enough to understand this.
I finished the rest of the compass, but it didn't really work with the other blocks. Colors were right, but not the tone or scale. The compass, despite it's poorly matched points, does not work with the improve ones.
Then I found a block I'd made of leftover half square triangles. I sashed it in dark blues, and then couldn't decide if I liked it or not. I left it on the design wall for a long time before taking it down and putting it away.
This weekend, I saw this post, and decided to make a few star blocks with scraps. The colors I pulled reminded me of this summer's medallion attempt. I've pulled it out and am staring at it again.  

I don't think I like the center. I could make another, but not sure of what I'd put in it. Suggestions welcome. For now, I'm leaving this up to ponder my next move while I sew more arcs. Those arcs take a long time. Three days of quality sewing time, and I am only three-quarters of the way to having enough for a second block.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Applique tip

Before, with lots of pins.
Barb shared a great tip in her post about the applique on her Jubilee quilt. She machine basted her vines to the background fabric. Genius!

After, with machine basting.
The other night I machine basted my arcs to the background, and last night I appliqued the inside and part of the outside of one arc. So much easier and faster and a lot less painful than with all those pins! For the next block, I might try my walking foot for the basting to make it easier going over all those seams.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Almost one block

I've got these arcs pieced, stay stitched, trimmed and freed of foundation paper. This is the progress as of Sunday night, which is unchanged as of tonight. I'm debating whether to forge ahead with more arcs or stitch what I have together and applique them to the background. There's time to decide as I won't get back to this until Saturday or Sunday. For the background I plan to use four different cream prints from the stash, one for each block, selected solely because there's sufficient yardage for a giant block.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Blogger's Quilt Festival Fall 2012 entry

Pointless Lone Star
Measurements: 86 x 86 inches
Special techniques: No set in seams. Now that's special! Strip piecing.
Quilted by: Maggi Honeyman of Texas
Best category: Bed quilt
Pattern: Shades of Grey by Sarah Fielke from the August/September 2011 Quilters Newsletter magazine. Pattern can also be found here at Sarah's website.
My husband asked me to make a quilt for the wedding of one of his friend's. I thought I'd use the couple's favorite colors as a starting point, and then I found out they were purple (him) and pink (her). Hmmmm. I happened to see the pattern for this in Quilter's Magazine. It looked like it could be a fast and simple quilt with only four really huge blocks (36 inches square) and no set in seams, and I'd substitute a plain border for the pieced one. 

I pulled some pink and purple prints, and used them to choose the fabrics for the blocks. The original pattern duplicated fabrics and placement, but I didn't have that kind of yardage in my stash, and I wanted a more scrappy look so I made each block different. I was able to use fat quarters for the two rounds of inner diamonds, although I had to piece a couple scraps together to make a couple of the diamonds. When I was selecting fabrics, I needed some math skills to figure out which ones I had enough of for each round of diamonds, and that dictated some of the fabric placement too. I used a wide variety of fabrics from batiks, wovens, plaids, stripes and dots to novelty fabrics.

When I finished the blocks, I decided I didn't like the prints I had planned for the borders so they went on the back, and I went to the quilt shop. The navy and teal print I found has a pattern of birds and hearts on it, perfect in color and motif for this wedding quilt.

Maggi Honeyman did a wonderful job on her longarm. The setting triangles, which needed to read solid to balance the busyness of the star fabrics and give the eye a place to rest, seemed a little too boring compared to the rest of the quilt. Maggi fixed that by quilting special designs in those spaces.    

This was a fairly easy pattern, but probably not a beginner one. Especially if you switch it up like I did and have to recalculate yardage. For tips on making these kinds of points match, check out this post.  

I wanted to share this because I like seeing different takes on the same pattern. Seeing a quilt done in different colors and fabrics can make you fall in love with a pattern you hadn't given a second glance at before.

A big thank you to Amy for hosting the Blogger's Quilt Festival.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Small pieces, large obsession

I saw this book mentioned on a blog in early summer (but can't remember where now) and was so taken by the cover quilt that I had the book in my hot little hands a few days later.

This is just a quarter of one of the four blocks. A sixteenth of a quilt. And it's big! Each block is nearly 40 inches square.

I have been happily digging through scraps cutting them into wedges for the arcs and piecing a bit here and there while I tried to stay focused on finishing that last top. I may not have as many lights as darks, and I'll have to wait until I have more sections done to see if that will be a problem. Although it requires applique, the amount should be manageable even for me!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A finish! Yeah!

I made a pillow after all. Only one strip of obviously A&M fabric going back into the scrap basket. I can deal with that!

And this top has been declared done because I've run out of pieces to make enough blocks for another row on either side. Binding and backing still to go. I try not to put the top aside until I have those done. I need to get in the habit of adding a label to that list. I'm such a bad labeler.

Top is 69 x 75, and it has been years in the making. I'm afraid to check the blog to see how many. It started out to be baby quilts for twins and they've started preschool. I switched gears so the boys got their baby quilts awhile ago, and this top languished despite the occasional four-patch and half-square triangles I made as leader-enders.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Getting back to it

Wow. It's been a long time since I posted. Not too much sewing going on, but some. So let's get back in the posting swing of things with this finish.
Texas A&M zigzag quilt, 56 x 76.
The Texas A&M zigzag quilt for my niece is quilted, bound and soon to be mailed. I had pressed many of the seams open when I made the top, which caused me some distress when I was quilting. My plan was stitch in the ditch, which did not work well with those seams! I ended up stitching near the ditch not in it to make sure I caught the top fabric. I'll have to think things through more carefully next time.

Back of Texas A&M quilt, feet not included..
The back is leftover bits of the A& M fabric, which I don't want ending up in my scrap basket. Still have some little bits left. I was thinking maybe a pillow to get rid of them once and for all, but I really want to get this in the mail today so it might be the circular file for them. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

An exhibit worth seeing

If you live anywhere near Chicago, I highly recommend the free exhibit at the Illinois State Museum Chicago Gallery in the Thompson Center downtown. The exhibit is called "Civil War Era Quilts."

I was able to take a few pictures without flash. These are the ones that spoke to me the most. All pieced ones because that is my thing, but there were some beautiful applique ones there too.

Double Irish Chain, c. 1862
maker unknown
 The blue in the small squares is from the same print, which was also used in the narrow border. I wonder if the lighter fabric in this quilt was once a darker blue that has faded. Was it once a two-color quilt? The Baptist fan quilting was fantastic. Hope you can see it in the detail show below.

Sorry, I didn't get the details on the maker.
I liked this one because the points were well chopped off in many places. It made me smile. I could relate to this quilter! A great looking quilt despite imperfections.

Dutch Rose Variation, c. 1855
made by Sarah C. (Vaughan) Black, 1834-1914
 Loved the colors and the design of this one. As you study it, you can see the careful color placement. The center stars alternate dark blue and pinkish star points, and in the outer circle pinkish points radiate from the center ones. The green parts looked like they were appliqued. The quilting is also amazing!

Broken Wheel Variation, 1855-1862
Made by Mary Elizabeth Byrod (Fortenbaugh), 1838-1929
This one I liked because it looked complicated, but really wasn't. In person you could see that the block is a nine-patch arrangement on point with square-in-a-square blocks in the corners, two rectangles in the outer middle positions, and white in the center. That's not so hard! I also like the way the whole thing is framed in half-square triangles.
You can see more pictures and read more about the exhibit in this post on Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilts blog and in this post from another blog I follow. The exhibit runs through Sept. 14, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays except state holidays.