Monday, May 31, 2010


I hope all my friends in the US had a good Memorial Day. As I was pondering the meaning of the day it occurred to me that my family has had one or more members in a branch of the Armed Forces from the Civil War onward. If the knowlege I have is correct that is.

I didn't spend much time online over the weekend but I did see the Process Pledge button on Julie's blog and had to go check that out. After reading Rossie's post (and the ones she links to) I immediately added my name to her list and added the button to my sidebar. Since most of my posts have to do with my personal creative process anyway it didn't feel like much of a stretch for me. But I've been thinking about it and I do believe I can go deeper or share more of what goes into the creation of my quilts and things. At least, on those days when I'm not suffering from brain fog due to chemical exposure. ;- )

To that end I will tell you now that I put my scrappy Trip Around the World top away, out of sight, while I worked on the top for the BASICS Quilt Gather. As the Memorial Day sales ramped up I found myself with two fairly good size quilt tops needing backing and nothing in my stash that was quite right or anywhere near big enough. I mentioned in the previous post that I found something to use on the back of the BASICS quilt at my LQS Friday. The other top was lurking in the back of my brain though, still wanting attention.

During the course of learning about how the Process Pledge came to be I read Naptime Quilter Cheryl's post about how modern quilting isn't really so modern in her eyes. Well, it may be modern but it isn't particularly new. Anyway, her comments got me thinking again about my scrappy top.

It felt like I had to go way back to remember how and why I ever started that project. It was all about frugality and not wanting some of those prints to be lost from my sight. Mostly it was about frugality and turning something not obviously useful (scraps and bits leftover from other projects) to the casual observer into something useful if not exactly beautiful. (I seem to have this perverse obsession with making quilts that I know full well no-one will ever pin a blue ribbon on. But they'll keep a body warm!) And then I took apart that disintegrating flannel Four Patch quilt and figured I needed to have something to take its' place.

But when I had all those scrappy blocks in place I thought it looked a mess. It could be that the visual chaos of that quilt top is just more than I am comfortable with. At any rate, after having it tucked away for a couple of weeks and reconsidering the various forces that prompted me to create it in the first place I was able to look at it with fresh eyes. It now puts me in mind of some antique quilts I've seen in books and in the International Quilt Study Center's collection online. (I tried to link to specific quilt images but couldn't get the links to work. Nor could I get the pictures to upload. If you are so inclined check out the results you get when you use 'crazy' for your keyword search.) I feel better about it now. I've even decided against a border of any kind. This was never meant to be a bed cover, it's just supposed to be an extra quilt. It can live in the closet and come out when it's cold or it can live on or near the couch and be used as a throw when we're watching TV. I was putting way too much pressure on myself and on this innocent scrap quilt.

So today I went back out to look for something appropriate for the back of this quilt. I believe I found the perfect fabric in a large scale Jacobean print. It doesn't show well in the photo but the colors in the print pretty much encompass the colors that predominate in the top. I intend to split the 2.5 yard cut down the middle and insert a pieced panel of some of my other favorite prints that have been around too long. I expect to bind it in something dark but will leave a more precise choice for later.

There's actually a sense of relief that I have finally figured out a way to use at least some of those older prints in a quilt we'll keep around the house. A lot of them are novelty prints that I thought would be the focal point of a quilt someday. I have come to the conclusion that that day isn't coming for many of those prints. I still want to keep them around though, as a sort of souvenir of times past, like items that would get pasted in a scrapbook. I'm already toying with names like "Scrappy Trip Through Time" for this quilt.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Bottom Half

Here's the bottom half of the quilt I'm making for the BASICS Quilt Gather:

I had to put together several new blocks to flesh out this section. I didn't want a preponderance of liberated stars or Shoo Fly or Churn Dash blocks so I sifted through my smaller orphan blocks, framed up a couple of those, and combined others into whole new blocks. I also took the opportunity to play with a few other block patterns. This one, according to my block book, is a variation on Mrs. Taft's Choice or Double X:

The 12" blocks are now a flimsy. I don't have a picture of the whole thing yet. But I did get out my 6" Bow Ties to see about creating border rows at the top and bottom of the quilt.

This is the bottom half of the quilt again, but turned around so I could audition Bow Ties. I think this will work.

I had to go out to pick up refills of some of my meds this morning. The clinic has recently been enlarged. That means fumes from new paints and floor finishes. In spite of their efforts to minimize toxic offgassing the five minutes I spent in the building was enough to practically immobilize my brain. My LQS is a few blocks away and they're having a big sale this weekend (as much to make room for new bolts as any other reason!). I went in to look for possible backing and/or border fabrics for this quilt and for my scrappy Trip Around the World. I found something pretty quickly for the back of this quilt but after that my mind was too muddled to make decisions with confidence. It's so frustrating! I managed to bring home five additional yards of fabric anyway, I just don't know how wise my choices were. {sigh}

I'm going to need a name for this quilt too. Anyone got any ideas?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cute Blocks

... in my humble opinion anyway!

I've been making blocks to add to the orphans. This is what the top looks like so far:

I've moved a few blocks around as I've made new ones and framed up others. I'm pretty happy with the way this part of the quilt looks so I think I'll go ahead and sew the top four rows together. That way I can take them off the wall and move the fifth row up, making room to audition blocks for the bottom two rows.

I've left the picture file bigger so you should be able to click on the quilt top to get a closer look at the blocks. Long-time readers may recognize blocks that didn't make it into Sunflower's liberated star quilt and blocks that were left over from the Foodie Quilt. There are one or two blocks that were made by members of my local quilt guild in the past too.

Of the blocks I've made in the last couple of days I especially like these two:

I have one more cute thing to share with you...

Hope you have a good day!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Magic's Back

It's a Monday morning. On this particular Monday morning the sun is shining, my flowers are blooming, and my magic is back. :- )

Yesterday when I made the rounds of the blogs I check in on regularly I learned from Michele that BumbleBeans is at it again, spearheading an effort to provide quilts for families in need in the New York City area. She has most recently urged quilters to make and donate house blocks that will be made into quilts. The need is so great that now she's inviting us to make whole quilts. I did not participate in the block gather but when I read about this effort I immediately thought of my overflowing box of orphan blocks. The next thing I knew I had this on my design wall:

Before I went to bed it looked more like this:

I framed up or combined smaller blocks to make an additional seven blocks. My goal is to make a 60" x 84" quilt. I can get the width on my wall here but I'll have to work on the upper half, move that out of the way and then work on the bottom rows. It's amazing what a difference there is already in my box of orphan blocks. The lid fits back on for one thing. ;- )

I'm going to try to keep this simple. No fancy liberated piecing (is that an oxymoron or what?!). I have plans for a 6" Bow Tie border across the top and the bottom of the quilt to get the length. We'll see whether that pans out or not. In the meantime, I have to make at least a dozen more blocks to fill in the gaps. The real challenge will be in getting this project quilted. I'm not sure my favorite long-arm quilter will have time for a charity quilt and I'm not sure I'll be up to tackling it myself. But, as usual, I'm putting the cart before the horse. First I need to go make some more blocks...

Look for the house block badge on my side bar. If you click on it you will be taken to the page that gives you the details about this project. Feel free to play along!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I Can't Believe I Did It!

My sister's birthday is coming up. I checked her wish list on but wasn't particularly enthused about buying any of those things for her. I didn't feel like I had time to make anything either so I called to tell her I'm thinking about her but not to expect a gift right away. This didn't faze her; we're pretty relaxed about the timing of gifts and observation of birthdays.

During the course of our conversation I found out she has recently adopted a second cat. A short time later it occurred to me that I could make quilts for her cats. She appreciates the things I make and this would be something she could actually use. Blog reading has taught me that cats love quilts, and as far as I know her cats don't have any to call their own. I looked around on the web for inspiration and went to bed thinking about color schemes. Since she doesn't read my blog (I don't think!) I feel I can share what happened next without compromising the surprise.

This morning I pulled out some batiks in colors I'm pretty sure will work in my sister's living room. I cut 6.5" x 7.5" rectangles, layered four at a time, and slashed through the piles twice. Shuffling the layers and reassembling the pieces created wonky rail fence type blocks. I trimmed them all to 6.5" square and threw them on the design wall:

I moved a few blocks around and then sewed them together in four columns.

There was a piece of purple yardage in my stash that really needed to be used after all these years and that became the back. Simple straight line quilting down the columns holds the layers together. There was enough of one of the purples in the top to make binding. A little while later I had a finished quilt!

(Just so you know, the oranges in the light patches are not that orange in person.) It's only 24" square but I still can't believe I made the whole thing from start to finish in one day! Woohoo! I can put it in the mail on Monday and Sis should have it in time for her birthday. Then I can make a second one at Christmastime! ;- )

Thursday, May 20, 2010

March BJP - No Crown

My regular readers (thank you!) will likely recognize this first picture of the beginnings of my ornament for March for the Bead Journal Project. For those coming over from the BJP blogs, I had something else in mind for my March ornament but when Anthony Williams, one of the designers on season 7 of Project Runway, was kicked "auf" he said something to the effect of, "Don't cry for me honey! This just goes to prove that you don't have to have a crown to be a queen." For whatever reason, that statement really hit home for me. I wanted to record and remember it, make it part of my being. So I set myself the task of making one of my BJP ornaments to do just that.

No crown, but plenty of beaded hair!

Below is the finished ornament. You should be able to click on the picture to get a larger image of it.

You can see that I added a "collar" and a ruffle to the suggestion of a dress created by the two triangular silver sequins that were just barely visible in the detail shot at the top. The hand with the heart (that has the word 'love' on it by the way) just seemed like the right thing to use to fill in that space at the top of the diamond. My original plan was to incorporate a crown charm in the design, perhaps dangling off the ornament somehow. That didn't happen. Instead I found myself randomly seed stitching the background area with embroidery floss to add texture.

This last picture is a little blurry I'm afraid. Sorry about that. You can at least get an idea what the seed stitching looks like. The whole thing looks better in person, I have to tell you. Dark is hard to photograph.

I'm pleased with the way this ornament turned out. Now I have to finish my ornament for April - which will be a version of what I had originally planned for March - and then get started on one for May!

And for those who are wondering about our water leak: The plumber seems to think it will be a simple job to fix. It will involve digging a narrow trench for a new pipe but I guess it's a straight shot, and what does he care that we'll have to pull up pavers and remove weed mat and lava rock? We haven't received an estimate of the cost yet. I'm not sure I really want to know.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I've had a couple of requests for my source for the border print I used on the birthday quilt. Here's a link to that fabric at The line is called Folklorica, designed by Julie Paschkis for In The Beginning Fabrics. There's a gorgeous floral print too, here. There are also a couple of tone-on-tone prints available in the line. Hold on a minute...

So here's a link to the page at In The Beginning Fabrics where the whole line is shown. There's some yummy stuff there! I have to say that I like the quilt I made better than the free pattern they make available though. Guess that's only appropriate. ;- )

We're off to a roaring start for the week here in the Nest. We have discovered there's a leak in the main water line coming into the house. When I was out there one day last week I pulled some big ole weeds and was surprised that they came out of the ground so easily. The ground in that spot was very wet too, almost mushy. We haven't had any rain to speak of lately. Then we sat down to pay our monthly bills and discovered our water bill was nearly double what it usually is. So tomorrow we have a plumber coming over to verify our suspicions. Can't say that I'm looking forward to his visit, although in the long run he may end up saving us a bunch of money. It's possible there has been a tiny leak in this line for years and now it's bigger for some reason. Our water bills have always seemed on the high side to me, considering the number of people living in this house and our lifestyle. I guess we'll find out.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Almost Like Mother's Day All Over Again!

DD stopped by again yesterday with all four of the granddaughters. This time she came bearing gifts as well as children. The charms she had ordered for my charm bracelet in honor of the birth of the twins had not arrived in time for presentation on Mother's Day so she gave them to me yesterday. But I almost like the gift wrap they came in better:

It's a good size tote bag with the photograph of the twins sharing their binkie printed on it!

And look how it's inscribed: "Twins Share Everything." (sorry about the watermark getting in the way) Is that perfect or what?! I only wish I'd had it with me on Thursday when I was taking a couple of quilts to my little artist's group meeting for show and tell!

I was delighted to be able to reciprocate by presenting the girls with this fabric book I sewed up from a pre-printed panel.

It's a heavily abridged version of the story but the illustrations are as charming as ever. I used a layer of Warm & Natural between the pages. Just for grins I quilted around the illustrations using the decorative leaf stitch that's on my Pfaff. It worked out beautifully, on both sides of the pages.

Then I thought, what the heck, and used three rows of that same stitch up the middle to create a wider, flatter spine than a single row of straight stitches would have done. I don't know how well you'll be able to see the stitching but I photographed it for you anyway:

I like the way it turned out. The best part was that I had it all ready for them when they showed up yesterday afternoon and was able to sit with the oldest granddaughter and read it to her. {happy sigh} :- )

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Birthday Quilt

Well, my friends, I certainly didn't intend to be absent all week! I'm sure you all know how time gets away from us when we aren't paying attention. ;- )

I'm happy to report that I found an appropriate planter box for my Mother's Day flowers and they have been successfully transplanted. The backs of my hands are showing signs of eczema again however. I'm wondering whether there's something in the gardening gloves I use or some organic material that bothers my system. I can only hope that this outbreak will not be anywhere near as bad as the last go-round.

More good news: the birthday quilt is all finished and ready to go into a box for shipping. Here's an overall shot of the front. You should be able to click on the picture to get a larger image.

The binding is a dark red. That's a little hard to see since we took the picture against a black background. Unfortunately I didn't think to get a picture of the back in its finished state. You can see what I put together for the back here.

This quilt is very simply quilted, just some in the ditch stitching and straight lines through the centers of the crazy patch blocks. Technically I could have left the borders unquilted (I used a Warm & Natural batt which is needlefelted and doesn't require dense quilting) but in the end I felt I had to do something. Not being a free motion quilter, I dug around in my thread stash and came up with a perle cotton that was the perfect color to use in the centers of the big flowers and the suns of the border print:

So Bre will be getting a quilt that is both tied and quilted.

Now I think I'm going to see if I can find more of that lovely border print so I'll have some to play with again in the future...
:- )

Monday, May 10, 2010

(it was a) Happy Mother's Day!

I think yesterday was the best Mother's Day I've ever had. Woohoo!

On Saturday my DH brought me flowers and chocolate and an unexpected gift:

Yes, it's a lint roller. The scrappy Trip Around the World quilt left a lot of threads on my flannel design wall. When I went to clean them off I found my lint roller had just about dried up and wasn't being effective at all. Since it was a discount unit and had been around a few years I wasn't really surprised. What did surprise me was that DH took note of my comment and bought me a replacement! A nice big one too.

I'm going to have to make my own "bouquet" out of the flowers he brought me.

I absolutely adore all pansy-like flowers and he brought me a nice variety. The only problem is that they're nothing but slug bait around here.

My plan is to find a lovely container and keep them on the deck. The distance and the wood ought to make it harder for the slugs to get to them.

I'll be better able to see and enjoy them too.

On Sunday DD brought her four daughters over. That was probably the best gift of the day. Later in the evening my son who lives out of state called and we had a good visit. {happy sigh} What could be better?

I hope my readers who are mothers had just as satisfying a Mother's Day as I had. :- )

Friday, May 7, 2010


This just sort of says it all for me today. I've had one of those weeks where I've had occasion to run into one toxin after another without enough time inbetween to ever completely recover. I did manage to get the binding all sewn down on the birthday quilt. I'll show it to you another time, I haven't photographed it in its finished state yet. Mere existance is taking all the energy I have at the moment.

That's my sweet little Sunflower in the picture above. She really didn't want to have her picture taken that day. Her new little sisters, however, were oblivious to the camera that took this picture of them:

Betcha didn't know they made double-sided binkies! (It's not really a double-sided binkie. One of the babies is sucking on the handle.) As they mature they are looking less like identical twins. One may get the red hair so prized by members of my family. As far as I know their eyes are still on the blue/green side too. Both of their older sisters have their father's brown eyes.

In my last post I mentioned we had suffered a power outage due to high winds. The next day we had really cold temperatures - the coldest day in May on record as a matter of fact - rain, and a couple of bouts of hail. Today the sun is finally shining again and the temperatures are coming back up. I am so ready to shuck my layers and long sleeves in favor of lightweight short sleeve T-shirts!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We Got Off Easy

While the poor souls east of the Mississippi were being deluged by rain we were having our own weather issues here on the soggy North Left Coast. Not rain so much, but wind. Our arborvitae hedge looked like the individual bushes were doing the Hokey Pokey, putting their heads in the yard and then out again. I had planned to finally put the binding on the birthday quilt so I could then have some quiet hours hand sewing the binding down.

That plan was aborted when the power went out. Instead I pulled out the foundations for the two BJP ornaments that have lain dormant while I put together that scrappy quilt top. It was the ornament for March that had the strongest pull.

This is the one that was inspired by Anthony Williams' (a Season 7 Project Runway contestant) comment that you don't have to have a crown to be a queen. Most of us queens do like to have hair however...

Now I have to figure out what else to do. You can see I'm auditioning some sequin pieces that could become a dress front. Since our power has been restored I will probably set this aside again and take care of that binding. The last thing I want is for the quilt to be late to the party!

In the spirit of International Star Wars Day let me sign off by saying, "May the 4th be with you!"

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It's a Sea of Scraps!

The four quadrants of my scrappy Trip Around the World are all sewn together. I believe I even managed to keep them where I intended them to be; all in their proper corners!

The top now measures 66" x 78." That's the size the old acrylic blanket was. It's generous for one person to use on the couch but not quite wide enough or long enough to officially qualify as a bed cover. My intention in the beginning was to leave the top as-is, with no border. Now I'm having second thoughts. It occurred to me that just by putting a border all the way around I could easily make this quilt top fit our double bed better. And then I thought of the prints I have in my stash that I love but that haven't yet made it into a quilt. Using them for a border and backing might turn this sea of scraps into something I will really enjoy.

What I'm still trying to puzzle out is why I don't feel a stronger affinity for this flimsy. Scrappy quilts are some of my favorites; why don't I love this one? It's not that I feel like there's anything wrong with this top, like it could have been designed better or something. I'm just not in love with it yet. This is a rare experience for me. Nearly all of my projects go through that adolescent stage where I think it's ugly or not working or whatever, but when it's done I usually have some kind of positive feelings about the end product. Right now I don't feel much of anything when I look at it, except maybe visually overwhelmed. I enjoyed making these scrappy blocks... it really hasn't been that big a trial to set them together... why am I not more enthusiastic about the results? Hopefully putting on a border and/or using long-loved prints for a back will make a difference. And, as Barbara suggests, maybe I need to take a break before I tackle that next step. Maybe, now that the scraps are put away and the table fairly clear, I could get my beads back out and do a little hand sewing.