Monday, November 29, 2010


It's not the first Monday of the new month, it's the last Monday of the current month. Be that as it may, I'm going to show you now what I did with A Creative Dreamer's Creativity Challenge for November.

The challenge this month was "Red." Just "red." Talk about a world of possibilities! Of course I thought of all kinds of things I could do. What's interesting to me is that of all those possibilities it was something I hadn't thought of that moved me to action.

I was innocently reading blogs and visiting quilters I hadn't met before when I came upon Love, Laugh, Quilt. Beth has a ton of followers but I hadn't discovered her yet. She's hosting a house block give-away to celebrate the friendly neighborhood of bloggers. I've always had a weakness for house blocks. It only took a nano second for me to decide not only to participate in the give-away but to make my house Red!

I tried, I really tried, to make a free style, liberated house. This is what I ended up with. Still straight up but at least I had fun with it. I started with the computer image with the message that "You have mail." Had to add my Reilly-dog in the other window. Then it was a matter of landscaping. I happen to love Jay McCarroll's leaning trees, and evergreens of that general shape are predominant in this area. I had a strip of the print I used on the border of the Harry Potter quilt that was just the thing to flesh out my immediate neighborhood. The hardest part was stopping with just this one block! If I hadn't made other commitments I would surely have made several more by now. There's a very good chance that I still will ;-)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sunshine on a Snowy Day

I hope all my readers in the United States had a warm and tasty Thanksgiving Day. Because of the snow and icy roads in this region DH and I had an intimate turkey dinner, just the two of us.

There was new snowfall here Thanksgiving morning. It made for a very pretty holiday. By Friday it had all melted away. At least it stuck around long enough for me to get the baby quilt top finished. When last you saw it I'd made points for maybe six of the 20 stars. The next day I had all the stars in place.

It was at that point that Jan Mullen stopped with her Starz and Stripez quilt. I felt mine needed more.

I am absolutely thrilled with how this turned out.

Poor DH went to JoAnn's yesterday to try to procure batting for this project. When he saw the length of the line he turned on his heels and left the store. So we'll wait to quilt this up until I either piece together some leftover bits of batting or someone else can go to the store for me. In the meantime I need to get back to those projects I told Finn I would finish up before New Year's Day!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

From Green to White

I lied. I didn't cut the green patches for the baby quilt over the weekend. I got distracted by an opportunity created by Beth over at Love, Laugh, Quilt. I'll show you what I made a little later.

Sunday our world outside went from green to white. There's something about falling snow that makes me want to warm myself by the heat of my iron and cuddle with my sewing machine. ;- )

I took down all the Churn Dash blocks that were on my design wall so I could put up the background patches for the baby quilt. I used a variety of yellow prints and I wanted to get them distributed as evenly as possible across the surface of the quilt. Mz. Mullen used a lot of prints in the background of her Starz and Stripez quilt; that's part of what drew me to it in the first place.

Really, one could stop at this point and sew the patches together for a simple, happy quilt. Lots of fun quilting would make a top like that sing. (The big squares are only 5.5" and the rectangles are 3" x 5.5".) Since I'm not that proficient a quilter I pulled out a lot of greens from my stash to make the starz.

I was wondering how I would get the greens distributed evenly across the quilt when suddenly it dawned on me that I could work on one star at a time and just keep the points all the same for that star. Mz. Mullen has mixed her star points all up from what I can see. I also suspect she did all the sashes in one go and then arranged them to make up the starz. Guess I'm not feeling that random right now. Ya gotta do what works for you (I know that because Gwen Marston said so in her recent books!) and this is what works for me.

Since daytime temperatures are not going to be climbing above freezing for another day or two I may even get this top together before Thanksgiving. :- )

Saturday, November 20, 2010


So naturally, since I have committed myself to four projects between now and New Year's Eve, a new project has come to the table. I'm happy to take on this new project but this is exactly why I am so reluctant to make major commitments!

My elder son's long time friend married earlier in the year. Now the couple has a new baby boy and my son asked if I would make a quilt for him. Of course I will! He'd like them to receive it for Christmas. Hoo boy. While we've known this young man for many years we never really got to know him. DS gave me a list of potential jumping off points but nothing specific.

I went to my favorite quilting books and spent time looking at pictures of baby quilts on At bedtime that night I was looking through Jan Mullen's Cut Loose Quilts and came across this little quilt:

I've never made one like this, where you don't make blocks per se. The stars are created from what you do to the sashing. One of the suggestions DS gave me was that his friend's mother is from Jamaica and that I could incorporate the colors of the Jamaican flag in the quilt. I looked at this quilt pattern and thought it would be lovely done up with yellows in the background and green for the star points/sashing. The center squares will be assorted black and white prints like it is in Jan's version. This color palette was sealed when I found this delightful print:

I can put a border around the stars to make the quilt just that much bigger and therefore it will be useful that much longer. Hurray!

So far I have the background patches cut.

It's going to be a very green weekend. :- )

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's Next?

We're having another blustery day today. These normally staid shrubs are doing quite the happy dance.

I only hope the river stays within her banks with all the rain we're getting. It's a wild time of year around here. As long as the power stays on I'm happy. :- )

I shipped these two quilts off to Margaret's Hope Chest on Monday.

They were warm and soft coming out of the dryer. Especially this one, with a flannel back.
Wouldn't it be lovely to be able to pack that fresh-from-the-dryer warmth in with the quilts?

Now I'm looking forward, trying to figure out what's next. I need to clean up from these last several projects. That may entail taking the Churn Dash blocks off the design wall so I can throw leftover scraps and strips on it and see what develops. I really don't want to put that stuff away again. I want it used up and gone. At the same time, however, I don't want to start a brand new project. As this year draws to a close I want to do some closing of my own.

I've been a fan of Finn's ever since I started reading blogs. She's hosted a New Year's Eve UFO challenge for the last three years and a lot of quilters and crafters have finished a lot of projects that had been laying dormant in their homes and studios. I've resisted the urge to commit to that particular challenge, preferring to work at my own pace and as my muse dictated. I think the time has finally come for me to play along.

Long-time readers may remember this top:

It was built from blocks I received from members of my local quilt guild. I spent a lot of time putting those blocks together in the summer of '09. So much so that by the time I finally had them together I couldn't see what to do about a border. I bought several pieces of yardage as possibilities but nothing really spoke to me. So it got put away.

Recently I received this piece of yardage from a new friend.

I'm not sure it will work on the front, as a border, but it could be prominently featured on the back. The point is that it has brought this unfinished top to mind again and has awakened the muse. As a gift to myself I want to have this top and a back for it done by New Year's Eve. I also want to have my Sketchbook Project nearly complete at that point (or maybe even done!). And to top it all off, I want to have "Cookies & Lemonade" quilted and bound and ready to ship. The beauty of Finn's challenge is that no-one will come to my door to beat or berate me if I fail in any one of these commitments. But it's going to feel great to get them all done!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chuggin' Along

I've been fairly quiet this past week but there has been progress on the two children's quilts for Margaret's Hope Chest. I don't think I showed you the fabric I chose to back the quilt for a little girl. It's called "When I Grow Up" by Debbie Taylor-Kerman for Henry Glass Fabrics. Perfect, don't you think?

Those strong lines framing the little girls really called to me. Since the top is so random I figured this would be a good time to have a go at quilting from the back. It required repinning a lot of the quilt sandwich but it was worth it in the end.

When it came time to find backing fabric for the little boy's quilt I chose the plaid flannel you see in the picture below. It was just ~that much~ too short so I had to add a strip. Fortunately I had just enough of the speckled blue. I decided to quilt this one from the back also. Of course I had all the pins in, from the front, before I made that decision so I had to repin this one as well. {sigh}

The end result looks pretty good though and the quilting went very quickly. I think both of these quilts will look better after laundering. That could happen as early as tomorrow. I have the binding all sewn down on the boy's quilt and am maybe half way around the little girl's quilt at this point.

While they are in the washer and dryer tomorrow I expect to get a back put together for my husband's skulls quilt. And then it's back to Churn Dash blocks and Flying Geese units and who knows what else!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stolen Quilt

Not one of mine, thank goodness, but one we need to keep our eyes open for anyway.

This compass quilt was stolen from a vendor's booth during Quilt Festival in Houston. It looks to be an antique:

Lovely hand quilting.

It's easy to see why someone would want it. That still doesn't make it right to just take it. If you've seen this quilt (or think you have) since Quilt Festival ended last week shoot me an email and I'll put you in touch with the rightful owner.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Word About UFO's

Over the weekend I cut patches for more Churn Dash blocks and sewed up some Flying Geese units. I quickly used up two of my background fabrics. That meant a trip to my LQS to see what I could find that would work with what I already had. Remember, this project started back in the day when I only bought the occasional half yard or full yard cut. I've always preferred multi-fabric quilts over those made of only two or three prints. Unfortunately, when a project gets put away for 15 years it can be hard to find coordinating prints.

When I think about it, I've never been one for planning very far ahead. If I'd been thinking far enough into the future with this project I might have purchased more background fabric. I would have realized I would need more in order to sash the blocks. But I didn't have enough experience back then to know how much fabric sashing eats up or even how many blocks it would take to make a quilt for a full size bed. I suspect in the back of my mind I pictured myself working steadily on this and being able to buy more fabric as needed. Live and learn!

Now I have more experience under my belt and I know myself better. Still, I found it hard to wrap my brain around the idea of changing this project from what it was going to be into something I would actually make and finish. In some respects I'm not so good with change. In fact, there were two quilts I wanted to make back when I first succumbed to the quilting bug. One was a Bear's Paw featuring burgundy blocks on a neutral ground. The other was this "Pioneer Quilt." Both were going to be bed size quilts. Ha.

Now I know I'll probably never make that Bear's Paw quilt (never say never!) but at the same time I have struggled with changing up the plan for this "pioneer quilt." It's been hard to let go of the original plan and change it into something that excites me enough to actually get it finished. I'm not sure why that is. I do know that unless some changes were made this would remain a UFO.

And that's what I wanted to say about UFO's: that they get put aside for a reason. Sometimes it's just a matter of not having time to work on them but sometimes it's because we've become bored or disappointed with the project and we may not even realize it. It was a big step for me to realize that I had outgrown the original plan for these Churn Dash blocks. Once that had come to light I was able to ask myself whether I still wanted to make blocks in this color scheme, whether I still wanted another bed quilt, and what process would make me excited to work on this again. I'm not interested in sashing a lot of the same blocks together but I have been wanting to have a go at a medallion style quilt. Voila! That's how the arrangement on the design wall came to be (see previous post).

Now I have a new dilemma on my hands. I want to keep cutting and piecing and put this top together but I made a commitment to complete the two children's quilts and get them in the mail before Thanksgiving. I think I can alternate machine quilting and cutting patches without disrupting things in the studio too much. So here we go...
:- )

Friday, November 5, 2010

The First Act of Avoidance

I pin basted Child's Play. Still debating whether to quilt it from the back, following major lines in the design of the backing fabric, or whether to basically custom quilt it on the front. I know, I know, if I would only give in and learn to free motion quilt I wouldn't have this issue. Well I'm not ready yet so let me show you what I'm doing instead. ;- )

Back in the day, when I was a fresh young quiltmaker, I had this vision of making a quilt that would be reminiscent of what I consider "pioneer quilts." I wanted to use simple pieced blocks in indigo blues and turkey reds with shirting print backgrounds. This is what I had when I pulled the bag out recently:

I thought there were more blue blocks but I guess not. I don't believe I'd thought about how to set the blocks. Back then I was lucky to get a block or two made in a sitting as my children were all still little and/or in school. Now I can't bear the thought of a straight-on setting with sashing. After I made a few more blocks I put the bag away again.

The other day I was looking for a quick something to do for my 15 minutes of play. I don't remember how I came across it but I found an intriguing block in an antique quilt. I went into the scraps I'd received from V~ and made up a sample.

Fun! So I got out my indigo blues and shirting prints and made a few more.

Wheeee! I like these blocks! I made a few more. Then I got out the Churn Dash/Monkey Wrench blocks to see how they would look together. One thing led to another and pretty soon I had this on my design wall:

I think I've made a breakthrough with my pioneer quilt. :- )

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cars, Trains, and the Great Outdoors

While I've been posting other things I've been working on a masculine quilt top to send to Margaret's Hope Chest. I am determined to send one for a boy!

The first thing I did was to go through my novelty prints, looking for those that might appeal to the masculine mind. They are definitely in the minority in my stash. These seemed to hold the most promise:

We have a camping print, some trains, and vintage cars. They don't exactly go together but I thought I could make them work.

The first thing I did was to cut the prints at logical places, not necessarily to a specific size. The camping print basically just got its' ragged edges trimmed off so it's still quite wide (or tall, depending on how you look at it). The other two ended up being pretty much cut in half.

So far, so good. This is when the real challenge began. I had to figure out how much fabric I needed to add to achieve the 60 inch length I wanted for the finished quilt. And then I had to find the right colors/prints to use.

Plaids seemed like a good place to start. And what boy doesn't like red? It only took a little fiddling to find the right combination of colors and sizes for the strips to go on either side of the camping print.

But making that vintage car print work with the trains and the camping print was another story!

I found a darker red I thought I would use between the cars and the trains but in the end it worked better as the final border. Then I found a red print with a light blue in it ~ it magically appeared to have just the right colors in it to tie the two focal prints together. During the process of looking for the right fabric I auditioned a small gray wobbly windowpane check. That was too bland for a wide strip but it worked wonderfully as a transition strip between the focal fabrics and the reds. If you click on this picture (below) you should get a really large version so you can see the details.

Yesterday I finally acquired the batting I need for the two children's quilts. So now it's on to basting (yuck) and quilting. I'm not really sure how I'm going to quilt either of them at this point. I don't have a lot of time to fret about it however. The finished quilts need to be in MI very early in December. That only gives me three weeks or so. It shouldn't take that long to do two small quilts but I am the Mistress of Avoidance. ;- )

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hello November

Remember yesterday? Gorgeous flaming colors, blues skies...

This is what I woke up to this morning:

It has been dark and windy and wet all day. Just in case we weren't aware that it's now November.

In spite of the weather I was feeling pretty good this morning. One of our local fabric stores is closing down soon - the owner is retiring due to poor health - so I took the opportunity to add to my stash. This isn't everything, but it's the most fun stuff that I bought.

If I had deeper pockets and had been able to stay in the store longer I could have done much more damage! I'm in love with those turquoise prints from Blank Textiles. There may be a monochromatic quilt in my future. ;- )

And in the mailbox today I found this wonderful pink yardage courtesy of V at Bumble Beans.

We did a scrap swap recently. She found a couple of scraps in the pile I sent her that excited her quilting muse. Did I have more of that print perhaps? Turns out that I did. In fact, I had almost a yard of it. It was one I liked so well that I bought a bigger piece than was usual for me at the time. But then I could never figure out how to use it! V will put it to good use, and in exchange she has sent me yardage of this print I found in the scraps she sent me. I'm thinking DH and I will both have skeleton quilts someday. :- )