Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Today is supposed to be the hottest day we've had in this part of the world since 1981. Or maybe ever. I may have to retreat to the beach and take my chances with encountering sunscreen and bug spray on other folks.

I worked up a sweat earlier just by going out and watering the few plants I want to save during this heat wave/drought. At least we're not in Texas.

I finally managed to do a bit of sewing yesterday. It's wasn't what I was planning to work on but at least I did something!

I've been struggling to pull together a color palette for another needlebook. I thought that by making one of these little birds it might trigger some ideas. So far nothing has happened.

This little guy still needs his eyes and a hanging loop. I can't promise he'll get them today; I may end up spending the day in front of the fan with a good book.

Think cool thoughts!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Refreshed Perspective

Things are looking better to me again. DH and I didn't take the little road trip we thought we might but we did get out and about briefly, and look what we found!

The downtown merchants held their annual sidewalk sale Friday and Saturday. We only went to one store because I was looking for something specific (which I found - hurray!), but how could we pass this up when it was only $10?! Obviously it's meant for Halloween but it will likely stay out year round in this house. ;- ) It glows orange when it's plugged into the wall. I almost like it better when it's just sitting there, unplugged.

Every once in a while I pick the head up off its' base and turn it upside down to redistribute the glitter. This is the most fun I've had with a snow globe since I was a kid!

I have almost made the decision to drop out of the Birds of a Feather challenge. There are a couple of other projects that, frankly, are more important to me and my muse seems to be calling me in another direction anyway. We'll see how that develops. In the meantime I have managed to get these blocks made for my Parts Department:

And this six inch star for a new journal quilt I have in mind:

Apparently we're in for a prolonged spell of hot weather. I wouldn't mind so much if the darn humidity would just go down! We've actually been able to have the windows open without severe side effects for me. I feel very fortunate in that respect. Just the same, I'm going to try to put together a couple of projects I can embellish for when it's just plain too hot to have the iron on.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Time Out

I am suffering from a fairly severe case of cabin fever. I have not been able to make myself sew or read or do any of the things I normally enjoy doing. DH is taking some time off from work and we're going to try to get me out of this house, at least for a little while. Hopefully that will have a rejuvenating effect and I'll be back with something fun to share with you. Or at least with some enthusiasm for the things I currently have in the works...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Weekend Plans

Here's a quick pic of the completed Shoo Fly preemie quilt. I've folded the back over the top of the front so you can see that I had to add a narrow strip of flannel to make that alphabet panel wide enough. (It's right up the middle.) I'd picked up a light yellow flannel robe at a thrift shop somewhere along the way and it turned out to be the perfect thing for this quilt back!

You can also see that I chose to go with the wider, darker print for the outer borders and the cream strips down the center of the front. What can I say? It just felt better that way to me :- )

I've had another go at the houses for my Birds of a Feather challenge quilt. These houses and rooftops are not sewn together yet but I think I'm on the right track now.

The thermometers around here are on their way up again so I doubt I'll make much progress on houses for the next few days. Instead I hope to get this little Priority Quilt beaded:

It began with a leftover wonky heart from this quilt. The photo doesn't do justice to the batiks I used to bring it up to size. They're very rich and luscious. I want to add a bit of sparkle while tacking the layers together but not detract from the power of the colors.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yet Another Preemie Quilt

I put the flannels away but felt compelled to make just one more quilt for a premature baby. I have more than sixty of those scrappy 6" Shoo Fly blocks I've been making so I pulled them out to see what I could do with them. Turns out I had just enough with a sort of ecru backgound to do a strippy set within the 24" x 30" format.

I also have this charming alphabet print flannel I can use for the back!

If I do three columns of five blocks each I have six inches left over for separation strips and/or borders. I've been auditioning prints... This one struck me as too busy. Hmm... It looks better in the photo than it did in person.

I also tried out this art nouveau style print (on the left) and a white-on-cream.

The art nouveau print seemed too busy again and the cream was not strong enough to be on the outside edges. Not that I would have sewn it up the way you see it here. At this point I was just trying out various colors and prints in general. Those strips would all finish at 1.5".

In this layout I have the art nouveau stips cut to finish at 2" and the cream print to finish at only one inch. On my design wall I like this version the best.

I guess I like the way the wider, darker, strips on the outside edges provide a sense of completion. Would you use the evenly spaced tiny checkerboard print strips or the art nouveau and cream strips?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Another Preemie Quilt

What a difference 24 hours can make! Yesterday it was too hot to do much of anything. Today we have rain - real rain, not just that drizzly stuff we get so often around here - and it's so much cooler I've got long sleeves on again. This world never ceases to amaze me. (Yes, very often I do feel like an alien, like I wasn't made to live on this planet.)

Remember I said I was continuing to work with my red, white, and blue flannel scraps, shooting for 8.5" (raw) blocks? I made 17 of them and set 16 into this preemie top:

It's 32" square. Normally I design my preemie quilts to finish at 24 x 30" but both of these flannel jobs have come out bigger. Hopefully they will go to premature infants who thrive and get to be bigger babies. :- )

Here are the backs of the quilts. The red striped flannel is the back of the medallion top (which you can see in the previous post) and the cocker spaniels are on the back of the quilt above.

I don't know how well you can see the lines of stitching that hold the two layers together. Once I have a top complete I lay it, right sides together, on a flannel backing fabric. I trim the backing to size, and then pin and seam the two pieces together, leaving an opening about the size of my fist to turn the quilt through. When I have it turned right side out I make sure the corners are poked out all the way and take it to the ironing board to press the whole thing nice and flat. I pay particular attention to the edges so that you don't see the backing peeking over the edge from the front. I don't bother to hand stitch the opening closed. Instead I do two rows of topstitching around the perimeter of the quilt. The first row is about an eighth of an inch from the edge of the quilt and the second row is maybe an eighth of an inch inside the first. Then I find a way to do a bit of quilting on the interior of the blankets. Mostly I look for a square to outline or some other major shape that I can go around in the middle of the top. It's not like I use the quilting to add a design element in these little blankets. It's strictly there out of necessity. I try to make it as invisible as possible.

Then yesterday it was too hot to even think about sewing. It was too hot to think really. So, without thinking, I dumped the remains of my flannel scraps onto the cutting table and started sorting. It took a couple of movies to get the job done but in the end this is all I had left.

That's a 12" pizza box with the smallest bits and strings.

The grocery sack is full of wider and longer strips and the leftover chunks of flannels I've used in previous baby quilts. On top I have a bag of squares I've cut that can be used as leaders and enders. All of this has been tidied away into the closet to clear the way for the next project. I have quite the list I could choose from but I may just get out my scrappy orphan blocks and see whether I can whip up a third preemie quilt while I'm in that mode...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Blocks and Bandannas

I spent yesterday making about a dozen log cabin style blocks out of my flannel scraps.

At the moment I'm shooting for 8.5" blocks (raw). Beyond that I have no specific plans.

I also added another row of borders to the flannel preemie top.

It just felt unfinished to me. I'm happier with it now. It will be a little bit bigger than the preemie quilts I usually make but that's okay. I will finish this up with a flannel back and a bit of quilting (by machine) and it will be my contribution to the Virtual Quilting Bee for Charity sponsored by Michele over at With Heart and Hands.

Michele is also co-ordinating a meeting of bloggers at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show this Saturday. She's asking those who come and want to be identified to sport a red bandanna on their person somehow. As much as I would love to be there and meet some of my new cyber friends it's just not possible. In the spirit of participation, however, I have tied a red bandanna on the tote bag I would be carrying if I could be there:

And I will have a block in the display of challenge blocks. You can read the details of the challenge here. This is the block I made:

Keeping in mind that Gwen & Freddy would be at the show I wanted to make a block in their honor. Liberated houses seemed just the thing. I was trying for a pair of houses leaning against each other, supporting each other the way friends do.

That palette was a particular challenge for me to work with, let me tell you! There were three pieces in the packet that looked to be exactly the same color. Two of them were, and the third was only slightly different. We were allowed to add one or two solids of our choice. I added a red (the roof on "Freddy's house") and the blue for the sky. I was sorely tempted to embellish the block, or at least embroider a bit to dress it up, but I refrained. I figure whoever ends up with the block can decide whether it needs embellishment or not. I appreciate and enjoy the look of quilts made with only solid colors but I'm a more-is-better kind of gal!
;- )

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Scrappy Fourth of July

It was pretty hot and uncomfortable around here on the Fourth of July. On the upside, I didn't suffer as badly from fumes as I thought I might. I wasn't up to working on the Birds of a Feather challenge project but I wanted to sew something over the weekend. Taking a cue from Finn over at Pieces From My Scrapbag I dug into my basket of flannel scraps. An unlikely choice given the heat maybe, but I was thinking the flannel would be forgiving enough to be able to sew without pressing frequently. I pieced these three Log Cabin type blocks...

and then built a fourth block up into this little top:

At the moment it's just barely preemie quilt size. I'm trying to decide whether to stop here and back it or whether to keep going to make it bigger. This morning I dumped out my flannel scrap basket and sorted what's left into long strips, shorter strips, and smallish bits and pieces. Hopefully that will make it a little easier to locate a scrap that will work for the next step of whatever I'm making at the time. Obviously I was trying to keep to a red, white, and blue color scheme with this effort. I have quite a variety of prints and colors in the basket, and finding what I wanted was slowing the piecing process down significantly. I suspect I'm going to be working with the flannels a bit more before I return to the Birds challenge - which, by the way, is a challenge sponsored by a local group, not an internet thing.

The weather has turned cooler and more humid - more like what we consider normal for this time of year. I'm already missing the sunshine, but appreciate the lower temperatures!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Gettin' Closer

So I sat down this morning with a new plan for building houses, heavily influenced by Gwen & Freddy. I played in my scraps rather than with the fabrics I've set aside to use for the Birds challenge. I'm much happier with this effort. We'll see how things develop between now and the final quilt!

This has been a challenging week, and not just because of the Birds of a Feather challenge. It seems like I've had a toxic exposure every single day. Sometimes I can recover later that same day, but more often it's the next day before I feel like myself again. It gets to be a vicious cycle when you suffer one exposure after another. I spent a lot of time being a zombie, not getting anything done. Finally I just had to sew something, anything.

Thank goodness I had all those scrap patches I'd cut a while back. It was amazing how much trouble I had getting simple Shoo Fly blocks assembled though. My mind just refuses to function after certain exposures. All week my sons have been making fun of me for the odd things that have come out of my mouth. It's a real struggle to put together a coherent sentence sometimes.

We're in for some hot weather over this Fourth of July weekend. That means closed windows and/or reactions to the smoke from firecrackers and backyard grills. I only say this to let you know I may not be posting (or reading other blogs) for a few days. On the other hand, I may be surprised at how well my body copes and make more progress than I expect. One can only hope. In the meantime, I hope my fellow citizens enjoy their Fourth of July and keep in mind the reason we celebrate and those who've given so much to make it possible for us to enjoy our freedoms.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


First of all, I want to thank my readers for your kind words about my little art quilts. It does my heart (and my ego!) good.

Now for a new challenge: "Birds of a Feather Flock Together." We are to use as much as possible of this fat quarter.

Pretty quickly I thought of the flocks of sparrows and finches that swoop around our house and yard this time of year. That led to the idea to make a neighborhood of houses. There hasn't been a lot of sewing of any kind going on in my house the last few days but today I finally sat down and made these:

The problem is that I'm not all that happy with them. They either need to be funkier... or smaller... or something. (These will finish at 8".) The bird print seems to call for the fresh new retro-modern prints that are out there now but that I don't own much of yet. I purchased a few specifically for this project. So far I have not discovered the magic way to get the results I want.

In the meantime, I've also created these basket blocks out of scraps. Just because.