Thursday, September 30, 2010


This is my entry for September's Creativity Challenge from A Creative Dreamer. It's only one block but it represents the quilt I'll be making for my husband over the next couple of weeks. As soon as I read the challenge back in the beginning of the month I knew it would be the perfect impetus to get his quilt started! It has taken me nearly all month to get a design plan settled however.

In the last post I think I showed you the Day of the Dead print I wanted to use with the spatter painted skulls print. Did I mention that the spatter print will be whole cloth strips separating two columns of pieced blocks? That's the plan. Deciding which blocks and which prints to use was what took so long. Finally I fussy cut some giant (to me!) 6.5" patches and some 5" patches out of the DoD print. I was able to get some smaller squares for future use but there's not much left of that yard now. I found myself mourning its' loss at the end.

Anyway, the plan was to make six 12" blocks in a variation of the traditional Shoo Fly pattern and then eight 9" blocks the same way. When I started auditioning prints for the corner triangles I discovered some things. Some prints were too big, some too dark. A lot were too silly for this quilt. I quite liked this combo, the white in the background of the DoD print is refelcted nicely by the little skulls.

In the photo below you can see I tried another print in two of the corners (sorry, the picture is a little blurry). The dancing skeletons didn't read as well as the skulls. They are too small and too dark.

I have to say, I wasn't really happy with the idea of all the blocks featuring the Day of the Dead vignettes. It just didn't feel right for my husband and his taste. But then I got to thinking about another skull print in my collection that DH had really liked. I pulled it out and cut a few experimental squares.

The largest skulls on that print weren't big enough to be comfortable in a 6" patch (in the 12" blocks) so I cut them for the 9" blocks. The dancing skeletons seemed to be just the right scale and tone for these patches. I'm very happy with the way this block turned out and am excited to get the rest of them sewn up.
And now, on to October! :- )

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Blatant Act of Avoidance

That's what this post is. It's warm and very humid this morning and I feel like a slug. If I had known better I might have named this blog The Snail's Trail. It's Monday morning and there is no reason I could not be sewing or doing something else productive. Yet here I sit. Besides the housework, which I'm not going to do anyway, I have a raft of creative projects I could be engaged in. It's rather frustrating to be sitting here, apparently unable to pick up a piece of cloth or a pen, knowing there are deadlines to be met and deadlines that have passed. Arrgh!

One of those deadlines is my journal for The Sketchbook Project. It's not due until January but I feel compelled to work on it now, not later. I picked up a couple of old books at the thrift shop last week, thinking I would use them somehow. So far those ideas have not materialized. But I have not given up on them entirely. My little travel sketchbook is brimming with the various ideas I've had for my Sketchbook. I think what I need to do is to collate them onto one or two page(s) in my Studio Journal so I can see at a glance what I've done and what I might choose to do. Maybe that will help.

The other project I need to be working on is a new quilt for my Dear Husband. I made him a quilt for his birthday some 15 years ago and it's showing its' age. I think I've finally come up with a plan at least. He loved this print:

I thought I'd use big pieces of it with some fussy cut images from this print:

His first quilt is a strippy format; I believe this one will be also. Which means I only have to make about 14 blocks and that shouldn't take an awful lot of time. The thing is that my long-arm quilter, Heather, has me penciled in for a date in November so I have to have the top and backing ready by then. I figured I would use my 15 minutes of play to get these blocks made. I just haven't sat down at the sewing machine in what seems like forever! I consider the time I've spent coloring and pasting in my Sketchbook journal play, just of another type.

Is it all starting to feel like work now? No, not really. I think it's just the weather, the changing of the seasons... something along those lines. Miss Responsibility, sister to Miss Perfection and daughter of The Judge, may be the source of my discomfort. Not only am I feeling the deadlines for these two projects looming over me, I have unfinished commitments to the Bead Journal Project and others to fulfill. I know full well that the best and perhaps only solution is to take action on any one of these projects. Just a tiny baby step, and that will lead to another and then another... And eventually this miasma will pass.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday Morning

It's been wet around here the last few days but this morning dawned clear and dry.

All the folks participating in our local Memory Walk to raise money for Alzheimer's research will be pleased. The Friends of the Library and the downtown merchants will be pleased as well because today is the day of their big annual sidewalk sale. I've done my running around for the week and need to stay home for a while now. Actually, I'm happy that I was able to get out and about this week without more severe consequences. :- )

I've been working on my journal for The Sketchbook Project. There are a couple of pages that aren't quite done yet and I don't want to share them until they are complete. (Now why is that? I took the Process Pledge, shouldn't it apply to the Sketchbook Project as well as my quilts? Hmm...) I can show you this one though:

It's that basic paper weaving technique you may have done in elementary school. I remember making woven paper hearts in February one year for Valentine's Day. I had to go online to find the directions for doing it though because that February was probably some 45 years ago! In this case I used a sheet of black paper and a couple of used Color Catcher sheets that had turned a soft shade of pink when I tossed them in with some new yardage.

I secured one half of the woven "blanket" to one page of the journal and folded back the other half to demonstrate that a woven blanket is reversible. Then I took another piece of the black paper, cut it to size, taped it into the journal and used it to define the bed covering we know as blankets. So now I have an example of both a quilt and a blanket in my journal.

I've also started work on the outside covers of my journal. The only real doodling I remember doing in high school - that didn't involve the names of boys I had crushes on or little hearts - was a straight line technique that produced a pile of triangles. When I thought of that the other day I also thought about crazy quilts. It was in that moment that I figured out what I would do for the cover of my Sketchbook Project journal. Participants are encouraged to decorate or recover the covers of their journals BUT you can't obscure the label with the bar code on the backside. So I decided to draw a crazy quilt on the covers of my book.

This is a piece of the back. (More has been done to it since the photo was taken.) This type of sketching I can do without too much angst. I do kind of wish I had made my "patches" bigger though. It's hard to get much patterning in on these. But that's why I started with the back. I figured I would probably learn a few things along the way and the end result would be that the front cover, the one more likely to be seen, would stand a better chance of being something I was happy with. We shall see ;- )

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Something New & Different

A new look and a different kind of project!

When I was visiting over at Bumble Beans a while back I noticed a new badge on her side bar. Feeling all brave and adventurous I clicked on the badge and learned about this:

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

At first I thought I wouldn't sign up because they wanted participants to choose from a list of suggested topics. But then I read the list more closely and saw the category, "Jackets, blankets, and sheets." How many times have you heard a quilt referred to as a blanket? Still, I hesitated to sign up. I'm not one who draws by nature. It seems to me to require a type of patience I do not possess. I can sew a thousand tiny seed beads onto a quilt without complaint but don't ask me to slow down enough to really see an object in the way that is necessary to replicate it on paper!

I couldn't sleep that night for all the ideas that cropped up for ways to "sketch" about quilts or blankets or sheets. So the next day I went back to the website and signed up. A couple of weeks later this arrived in my mailbox:

It's about 5" x 8" and not terribly thick (meaning I don't have a lot of pages to fill up!). I intend to make it thicker though. The very first page I did was one to demonstrate the three layers that make a quilt a quilt. I found an old cheater print in my stash and cut it to size.

Then I found a piece of thinner batting, laid it under the fabric, and quilted it to the page.

I didn't do a lot of quilting because I wanted the layers to float free so folks could peel them back to see exactly what goes inside a quilt.

On the facing page I intend to put some text about basic quilt construction. I'm a little reluctant to write it out by hand because I can't always control the quality of my printing or writing. It would be so much more personal if I did it that way though. So maybe I'll write out the text elsewhere and then copy it over when I'm having a good day. (I just thought of that; it's not a bad idea. Honestly, sometimes the only way to find out what I'm thinking is to journal it somewhere, somehow!)

I have to be very careful about what media I use in my artwork. That's one reason I stick to fabric and beads for the most part. I already know what the parameters are to stay healthy. When it comes to pens or markers or paints there's always the risk of running into something my body won't like. Adhesives are out for the most part. I use a lot of double sided tape when I want to collage papers.

It will be fun to come up with ways to fill the sketchbook that may not involve drawing or sketching. But one reason I signed up was to practice being gentle and compassionate with myself, to allow myself to be a beginner. I've been to our local independent art supply store (we're lucky to have one) and bought some new toys to play with: chalk pastels, watercolor pencils and a waterbrush, and a Micron pen with the largest nib I've ever seen on a Micron pen. I use Micron Pigma pens to sign my quilts so I know the pen won't make me ill when I use it. I'll probaly have to spend some time on YouTube learning how to use these new-to-me materials too. Fun, fun, fun!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Repair Job

I had to take my flannel Lincoln Logs quilt off the bed late last winter when I discovered that one of the dogs had unintentionally shredded one of the patches. You know how a dog will try to fluff up the bedding they're about to lay on.

This particular piece of flannel wasn't strong enough to withstand the abuse. A couple of nearby seams were also compromised.

With the change of seasons upon us I decided it was time to tackle this repair job, intimidating though it was.

Originally I thought I'd just replace the central strip of patches. Once I got the block out of the quilt (which was only tied, not quilted) I realized that one half of the block would also have to be discarded.

After I assembled a replacement section I discovered that the new half was actually bigger than the original half. It didn't look all that good with the original half either. So I remade the second half of the block as well.

The most challenging part was putting the block back into the top. I had to take out a few additional ties to free up more of the top to get it under the sewing machine. The final seam had to be hand stitched in place.

Since this last picture was taken I've replaced the ties and the quilt is ready to use again. I have to say this might have held up better had it been quilted (thoroughly, and by machine) but I still like it as a tied comforter.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Fabric = New Project?

I'm tired this morning. Just so very tired. Slept well last night but the previous couple of nights were shorter than what is normal for me. I'm trying to take it all in stride but it's not easy. There are so many things I keep feeling I should be doing. At least I've finally learned that when the word 'should' crops up I need to pay attention. I've been working hard over the last several years to eliminate that word from my vocabulary. So I will not be pushing myself today.

My LQS had a sale on Saturday - the clearance department was overflowing again. Because it was only a one day sale I had to go in where I might otherwise have waited for a day with less traffic. Before I was overcome by the fumes I put together a decent pile of goodies.

There were some fat quarters for $1.50 each; I bought four. Two of them (on the left) are flannels.

Mostly I went in to look for potential backing fabrics. I discovered that it's hard for me to buy backing "on spec." I want my backs to coordinate with my fronts and if the front isn't made yet I don't know what to buy for the back! In spite of that I picked up these two prints that I thought would work with any of the tops I've been making from my scrappy blocks. I'm a long way from done with that scrap basket. ;- )

There were only two yards left of this tropical print. I took it all. Not quite sure what I'm going to do with it yet but these are the colors I want to be working with when it becomes permanently gray around here.

Maybe I could start using my 15 minutes of play to make blocks in these colors and reduce my scraps to leaders and enders for the time being...

Friday, September 10, 2010

What 15 Minutes Can Lead To

I've been sewing out of my scrap basket inbetween other projects, first the little bits and then the strips. Before I knew it I had a stack of some 75 blocks. They wouldn't fit into the baggie I was using to store them in anymore!

I chose 15 blocks, set them 3 x 5 and then bordered them with some leftover yellow prints from my stash.

After that I wanted something dark to frame up the yellow:

At this point I'm looking at all the really old prints in my stash to see what I can use up. The dark stripe has the same pinks and greens as the rose print....

but looks much better when cut down to just a narrow run. The brighter pink adds sparkle.

I wanted to use more of my scrappy blocks but the top wasn't ready yet. It needed the stabilizing effect of the blue print. Once I had that in place I went all the way around with a row of liberated log cabins. The challenge then was to find something to bring the top up to my desired goal of 60 x 80 inches. The width was almost there but I needed length. This was my first effort:

I was happy to be able to echo the yellow again (with a relatively new print by Mark Lipinski) but the blue/gold print at the top and bottom just didn't look right to me. The next day I had to take it off. It was kind of fun to replace it with the same stripe as I had on the sides but in a different color:

Unfortunately I ran out of the stripe before I got all the way across the top and had to stretch it with another print:

The consensus around here is that it actually makes for a more interesting border.

I'm really happy with the way this turned out. I started with only a vague idea of a format I wanted to try and ended up with something I really like. During the construction of this top I've made still more scrappy blocks. I'm back up to 41 blocks already. Guess it's time to come up with another vague idea, maybe one that will require even more blocks. ;- )

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stitching in the Rain

It would appear summer is truly over here in our corner of the world. Our temperatures have dropped, the clouds have moved in, we've had some rain and the prediction is that more is on the way. {sigh}

Someone recently asked me how small the scraps are that I save and use. These are probably some of the smallest triangles I've used:

Note that the block, in its' raw state, measures less than 4 inches not 5 inches.

Since I've been making the scrappy liberated log cabin blocks I'm learning how small is too small (for me personally; I'm not into making miniature blocks!). I've actually started tossing out the skinniest strips and tiny odd pieces.

Now, back to the quilt for our friend who is battling cancer. Here's a detail shot in which you can see the fabric I used for sashing the strips together.

Here's another look:

And the completed top:

I opted to use the sashing fabric as outer borders down the long vertical edges but not across the top or bottom. We're binding the quilt with the pink print you see in the diamond panel. I think that will provide all the border needed at the top and bottom. It came together pretty well even though we didn't consult with each other beyond vague discussions about color and techniques. :- )

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Two Quilts

First, "From Here to Eternity, the Alzheimer's Journey" has received its' registration number for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. I just have to ink the number onto the back and send it off. Here it is bound and finished.

I couldn't figure out a way to quilt it that would enhance the design so I just tied the layers together through six buttons. It's not like it needs a lot of quilting to hold things together since it's only 8" x 12."

The second quilt isn't quite a quilt yet. Remember this panel?

Yesterday I collected the other two panels for our friend's comfort quilt.

You can see that C~ was inspired by Tonya's free pieced letters. She'd been looking for an excuse to play with that technique and this was a perfect opportunity.

The diamonds were inspired by a quilt in Kaffe Fassett's newest book and all done with KF prints. It's much longer than it needs to be because the math was a bit overwhelming for the maker. No problem, I'll just whack it off at the appropriate length!

I have an old Hoffman print that has all the colors of the rainbow in it that will tie the three panels together beautifully. So getting this top set is my job for the holiday weekend.

I have a couple of other projects in my lap that I haven't shared with you yet. One is pretty close to completion already. The other is something completely different and the foundation for it just arrived. Stay tuned! ;- )

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

While We're Waiting

My little Priority Quilt inspired by the Transitions challenge is bound and waiting for its' registration number from the AAQI. Before I send it off I will show you how it turned out. In the meantime, I've been reading this lately:

I have learned so much about my husband from this book! Obviously I bought it with myself in mind but holy cow! it explains so much about what's happened in the garage (and every other room my husband takes over for any amount of time). I would love for my husband to read the book himself because he and the author are two of a kind in many ways and he would find it uplifting. I may have to settle for trying to work in as much of the advice as I can from the sidelines as it were, because DH is pretty overwhelmed by his job these days. I'm getting some good ideas for myself though. It may not be evident here on the blog but hopefully it will make a difference in the rest of my life. (I have a terrible time making appointments. Once they're made I'm okay, but I put off making the phone call until it's nearly too late.)

I haven't sewn since I finished the Priority Quilt but I am thinking about what to tackle next. I still have two and a half ornaments to make for the Bead Journal Project: May is about half done, I need to do one for June and now August as well. Guess I'm just not that interested in hand sewing at the moment.

I have 76 six inch liberated log cabin blocks that I've made as a result of random 15 Minutes of Play.

I don't know why I'm so anxious to use them up somehow, but I am. This morning the thought came to me that I could sew the blocks up into a medallion of whatever size and then border the medallion with strips of leftover fabrics, log cabin style again, until I had a top big enough to cover someone. I've always wanted to try the "single giant log cabin block" kind of quilt.

See this? This is what my mother referred to as a pie basket. I believe she was given this one as a wedding present. That would have been in 1953.

It had two trays that sat on top of one another and would hold a pie each. I've used it to transport cupcakes and cakes but I've never been a big pie maker. That's my sister. I sew and bake cookies and cakes, she knits and bakes pies.

Anywho, before I even read the book at the top of this post I took the trays out of the basket and brought it into the studio for storing those larger pieces of leftover fabric. It's been very helpful to be able to grab the basket when I needed something bigger to cut patches or strips from and to have a place to just toss prints that were nearly gone but not quite.

This is where I'd like to pull those bigger strips from for my giant log cabin quilt block. At least to begin with. I'll probably have to resort to my stash of older prints eventually. Or improvise in another way. ;- )