Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Building Parts Into A Whole

Since my last post I have continued to work on the Halloween panels (see previous post). I sort of got stuck for a few days after I made those first blocks out of the fussy cut images. Eventually it occurred to me to look for prints to frame up the biggest panel into a more workable size.

That wide black border has little stars all over it. That gave me the idea to make star blocks to be cornerstones in a border to surround the panel. Plus they will echo the 12" star blocks I made out of a couple of the smaller panels.

Of course I fussy cut more Halloween imagery to be the centers of the stars! The next problem was what to use to fill in between the stars. Since I'd already used straight strips to turn images into blocks I decided to use more straight strips in Rail Fence blocks around this big panel. Repetition creates unity you know. ;- )

I say "big" but it was only about 13 x 22 inches when I liberated it from the original yardage. With the wide black border and Rail Fence blocks surrounding it I now had a panel about 30 x 42 inches. Honestly, I need to get you some detail shots! There are some cute prints in those Rail Fence logs! Hopefully when you double click on the photographs they will get big enough for you to see more details.

There was still an 8 x 6" panel unframed and unused at this point. It had continued to float above this Trick or Treat panel on the design wall so I looked for ways to incorporate it into what would become the middle section of the finished quilt.

I had to rummage around in my stash to find anything that would be in the same color palette and style of the images from the yardage I began with. These are nice clear hues and a lot of what I have has a gray tone to it. I did find some other small panels however. I was able to cut them down to be the centers of yet more Variable Stars and they went on either side of the 8 x 6" panel, also framed up with strips.

At this point this section of the quilt top measures about 30 x 53.5 inches. Good enough. Now to figure out how to build up the rest of the blocks and panels to make up the rest of the quilt top...!

Monday, April 7, 2014

From One Quilter to Another

When my friend C~ was cleaning out her stash recently she came across this cut of Halloween panels:

There were a few strips of coordinating prints too. The panels were intended to make a banner and assorted trick or treat bags. C~ had not been inspired to do anything with these panels, even though they are as cute as they can be. She asked if I would be interested in doing something with them. Would I? Do little monsters love candy corn? ;- )

The first thing I did was to fussy cut the various panels and images.

This is pretty much how they landed on the design wall after cutting. Naturally they are not any regulation size or shape. Pre-printed panels rarely are in my experience. That just makes the challenge of using them more interesting! Some of the pieces could be easily framed up to a workable size and that's just what I did. In this first block I framed smaller images, turned them into a 4-Patch unit, and then framed that up to 12 inches.

The ghost below just got strips added until he was also 12" square.

I actually had yardage of a couple of the designer's companion prints already in my stash. That made if pretty simple to create this 12 inch star block featuring the bats panel.

But my absolute favorite is this star:

It just makes me happy every time I look at it! I had the purple plaid in my stash (but not much of it), the orange and yellow check was one of the strips that came with the panels, and the background is a flying frog print I've had forever and is now just about gone.

I'm thinking this will become a quilt for a child. It may go to someone in Foster Care or it may go to one of the children affected by the landslide in Oso and Darrington, WA. I've been doing hand work since my last post; it may be a bit of a challenge to switch gears back to piecing...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hangin' On

Life has been winning since my last post. Fingers crossed, and don't let anyone hear me say it, but I think I may finally be getting the upper hand once again.

I knew part of the problem was that I was starving for visual stimulation. We actually had a couple of sunny days recently so I took the opportunity to have a drive around the farm lands just outside our city limits. There aren't many places where it's either safe or legal to stop and take pictures but I found a lonely stretch of road and snapped this:

That line of bright yellow is a field of daffodils in bloom. Very soon there will be tulips of every hue making the most beautiful living patchwork quilt you could ask for. These are the truths we need to remember during the long, gray, wet months that precede spring around here!

Of course I had to renew the bouquet in The Magpie's Nest too.

DH took a few hours off from his job this afternoon and we went down to Hobby Lobby together. I'm not sure I can think of a better place for visual stimulation, at least not in our little town. It was hubby's first time in the store. All things considered, he held up pretty well! It may have helped that he now has a framed print to hang in what was once our living room but is now his personal home theater. (Something on this order but not this one.) I came home with a couple of charms and two small bags of flower sequins. Oh, and a new cosmetic bag to stitch.

This is what my work station looks like tonight. Layers. There's evidence of the beading I'd been doing and bits and pieces for at least three other projects. It really needs a good sorting out.     ~ maybe tomorrow ~

I've been working on the needlepoint case you see on the right but was trying to pace myself so it wouldn't be finished too quickly. Unfortunately, needlepoint has been about all I've been able to do lately. I was thrilled to find the blackbird case on sale at HL. I've stitched that design up a couple of times in smaller coin purses and have given them away to good friends. Now I get to stitch (and keep) a bigger one! Not sure what will become of the navy and lime case...

DH and I are now collaborating on embellishments for the hearts representing our children on the anniversary quilt (see previous post). We don't have anything I can sew on yet but he can shop in places I can't so hopefully between the two of us we'll get it figured out.

 I do have a fun project on the design wall, instigated by my friend C~. You'll have to wait for the next post to learn about it however. (Aren't I wicked!)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

From Where I Sit

This was the view from my chair in the studio today:

I brought a bunch of daffodils into the studio early last week and my Dear Husband brought the tulips to me yesterday. {happy sigh} Lovely.

I had the anniversary/tea towel challenge quilt out today to put some more beads in while DH was at church. I'm just filling the red areas with red seed beads at this point. I still don't know what I'm going to do with those hearts, if anything. I have decided that I'm willing to give him an unfinished quilt however. After all, I'm still waiting for the quilt rack I was promised from his hands a year ago last Christmas!

I made these four Scrappy Trip blocks for my Grandma's Crayon Box quilt this week:

This was the first block I made out of my yellows.

It didn't work for me for this project so it will go into the Parts Dept. for later use. I've also made some six inch blocks for the Parts Dept. out of scrap patches.

I've been wanting to give the Contrary Wife block a try. Here it is, on the top row, in six inch blocks out of scraps. I'm going to have to make more to really get a handle on how best to use the values in that pattern.

I also cut some larger patches and made 9" stars:

There are two Ohio Stars in the set and four Twin Stars. One of the Twin Stars was made out of my flying pig print from years ago:

I don't think this will go into my When Pigs Fly challenge quilt but it was fun to play with the print in a single block.

Let's see, what else? Oh, there's a friendship block for a guild member at the very top of my design wall.

The pattern I had was for the 6" flower. The friendship request was for a 9" block so I created a bud and added a strip of background at the top (which I seem to have cut off in the photograph!) and the additional foliage at the bottom.

All in all it was a pretty productive week!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Anniversary Quilt Progress

I've slowly been making progress on my Tea Towel Challenge quilt, which will double as an anniversary quilt celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. The first step was to cut off the calendar portion of the towel. If it had been from the year of our marriage I would have left it in place - or tried to anyway!

I was able to cut off the side hems but took out the top hem before trimming that edge to make it easier to get a straight cut.

The design I'd come up with for the rest of the quilt involved making some heart blocks. My first thought was to make a heart for each of our children. We have three, but not really one for each year of our marriage. More like all three in the first ten years! Which led me to consider where we were in each decade. The first ten years were spent in Texas...

I had to use two different prints to make this four inch heart.

In the next decade we moved up to the state of Washington, specifically the Skagit Valley. Unfortunately, this photograph is rather blurry. What it features in a small image of tulips and the words 'Skagit Valley' on the right half and 'Washington' on the left. These were cut from a print made for the Western Washington Shop Hop a few years ago. So glad I still had some!

We're still in the Skagit Valley so I was a little stumped as to what to do for the third decade. DH has been working in Seattle for about that amount of time (a 60 mile commute each way - yuck). In the same Shop Hop print I found an image of the Space Needle, not too far from DH's current office, and a mountain that could be Mt. Baker. It might have been meant to represent Mt. Rainier but I think it can work for either. DH loves Mt. Baker and gets to see it most every day on his way home. So there's the third heart!

I originally wanted to include this beautiful monogram from another towel in my quilt:

This was going to be the layout:

But it didn't look as good as I'd hoped it would. Nor could I figure out how to make it work. That's when I went back to my first idea and made a heart to represent each of our children.

I used the color of their birthstones to make my fabric selections. I'm still trying to figure out whether or how to embellish them. What I've done so far is to bead/quilt the background around the couple.

I'm using size 11 clear seed beads.

Before I started beading I put a layer of muslin on the back so I have a regular quilt sandwich of the top, Warm & Natural batting, and muslin. I'm using a double strand of Silamide thread. Here's a picture of the back of the quilt:

When all the bead work is done I will put a false back - something prettier - over the muslin and tack it in place discreetly before I bind the edges. The second layer of fabric will protect the beading thread and allows me to work more quickly and freely in this stage of the process. Now I just have to figure out what to use in and around the heart blocks... :- )