Saturday, December 31, 2011

Closing Out the Year

I'm delighted to report that I have completed eleven of the twelve ATC's I committed to for the Bead Journal Project in 2011. With a little luck I will get number twelve done this weekend. Wahoo!

My mother had two sisters, one older and one younger. My mother and her elder sister passed away within the last decade. My remaining maternal aunt passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in September of this year. I wanted to honor her in some way with my September ATC for the BJP. I came up with several possible designs. Finally I decided it had to be about the three of them rather than just the one sister.

I started by spelling out their names with letter beads. Then I remembered some shiny tulle I'd run through my felting machine. It's all shirred up in a lovely texture. I laid that over the beaded names and tacked it down with some pearly white seed beads (thanks Julie! they were part of that multicolor mix you sent me). It seemed appropriate to lay flowers on the graves, as it were, so I did. Before I secured the sheer around the perimeter of the ATC I stitched a silver dove sequin under it and added the holographic heart on top.

I used the colorful letters for Judy's name because not only was she the most recent to pass, she was far more relaxed in her approach to the use of color in her textile art.

In November I was busy finishing up quilts and quilt tops. Then at the end of the month I bought some Halloween prints on sale at my LQS and they inspired a whole new quilt! For November's ATC I pieced scraps from that project together and embellished them with a few charms that echo the imagery in the blocks in the quilt.

The bat is a button that was part of my gift package from my sister in law this Christmas - thanks Carol! I was wondering how I would fill that corner and it's perfect!

Even though I still have to make my ATC for December I've already made a separate page for my 2011 Bead Journal Projct on this blog. You can click on the tab at the top of this page or simply click here to see what I've made so far this year.

I will be participating in the 2012 Bead Journal Project and am looking forward to the creative stretch it will give me in the coming year. I'm starting the year with only this gentle stretch - no ambitious goals for me this time around! There are plenty of projects already in the Magpie's Nest that I'd like to tackle without adding any new ones. ;- )

Happy New Year to us all!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

She's Baaaack!

Not me, appropriate as that would be. No, I'm talking about Phoebe, my little Pfaff. Well, little compared to Ruby Blue, my newer sewing machine. This is Ruby Blue:

While she's great for assembling blocks into rows, and rows into tops, and she makes quilting a lot easier to accomplish...

I found her wider feed dogs problematic for the more intricate work I like to do.

So for Christmas my husband and my son conspired to make it possible for me to have both Phoebe and Ruby Blue. All we have to do now is make room in the studio for both machines.

I want to keep them both out and ready for action. I think it will be possible, and at the same time I may finally get that sitting room I talked about two years ago. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Just dropping in briefly to wish all my readers a happy Christmas Day. :- )

We're going to have the whole family together part of the day -
one of the best gifts ever!
We haven't been able to pull this off since our children became adults
and moved away from home.

I wish all my blogging friends a day full of joy and moments of peace
in which to reflect on the gifts our Father in Heaven
has bestowed on all of us.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Stars Over the Punkin Patch

There has been a lot of deliberation involved in the making of this quilt top. First of all, how many stars did I want to make?

I debated between 35 stars and 48 stars. I wanted the size 48 blocks would give me but frankly, after 35 I'd had enough. That's when I realized that if I cut the pumpkin print that helped start this whole project into wide borders I could easily achieve the size I wanted.

So I stopped at 35 nine inch blocks.

Finally I got them all on the wall...

and had to arrange and rearrange them until I achieved what I felt was the most balanced distribution. (This is not it by the way.)

I debated over whether to just slap the pumpkin print borders on or whether to insert a flat piping or tiny inner border... and in the end I got impatient and just put the pumpkins on.

I made a small error in that I only cut the strips 4.5" wide instead of five inches so they'll finish at four inches instead of the 4.5" I wanted. Oh well! It's done. I do feel like it could use something... a transition between the stars and the border or something. But I'm hoping that a black binding will give it the finishing touch and pull it all together. I'm going to put it away for the time being, maybe create a back, and see what it looks like when I have fresher eyes. For now I think it's time to turn my attention to getting caught up with my Bead Journal Project ATC's for the year. :- )

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm Still Here

I've been feeling better for a few days now but have been using that time to make a few Christmas gifts and get them ready for shipping. I would show you what I've made but I don't want to take a chance on spoiling what little surprise there will be. ;- ) And I know I forgot to take pictures of a couple of the items. My bad.

I do have something to share though. For a couple of years now I've been using a form I developed to keep track of the various projects I was either working on or wanted to work on. The day came, however, when I wanted something more visual to keep me motivated. I sketched out some ideas in my studio journal:

I went to our local Office Depot to see what they might have that I could use or adapt. I'd looked at project boards and flow charts online. There are white boards and such that could have worked were they not so expensive and so stinky. I was beginning to think I would have to shelve this project when I found packages of cork strips. I bought them in the hope that I'd be able to find something at home on which to mount them. Turns out I had the perfect thing!

This is a piece of bead board my husband had turned into an easel for displaying the fairy dolls I used to make and sell. I took off the easel part, removed the protruding screws, and stuck the cork strips down with the adhesive tape that came in the packages. It's about 12 inches by 15 inches.

I also found these at Office Depot:

How could I not buy them?!

So now I have this hanging on the wall over my desk in the studio:

Working from left to right, the first column is for projects I want to make or have committed to making but I haven't quite figured out what I'm going to do yet. The second column is for projects I've begun, the third for Works in Progress (I'm well into them but they're not close to being done yet). The fourth column is currently labeled "Flimsy," meaning the top is complete and I have to make a back. The fifth column is for quilts that need binding. The last column on the right is where I'm pinning the projects that have made their way all across the board and are DONE! I'm using the two horizontal strips across the bottom to pin up ideas for future projects.

So far this system is working pretty well. I think I'm going to need to fine tune the "Flimsy" and "Binding" columns but I haven't quite figured out what I want to do yet. The DONE! column is filling up in a satisfying way. The child in me enjoys marching the squares across the board as the projects progress from one stage to the next. I can easily arrange and rearrange priorities too. I've pinned up my Ben&Jerry's bumper sticker right below the board to remind myself "If it's not fun why do it?"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Time For A Change

We are experiencing a stagnant air alert here on the north left coast of the USA. Consequently I'm having more trouble than usual. Can't poke my head out the door without being affected. There's been no progress on the Halloween stars; I've neither made more nor put what I already have on the design wall to see what else I might want.

It felt like a major accomplishment yesterday to make two of these little six inch basket blocks:

The snowflake background and peppermint candies in the basket are as close as I've come to the Christmas spirit so far this season. At least in the quilt studio. Our fresh-cut tree is up and the lights are on, courtesy of my son. I've managed to put out the Christmas hand towels and potholders. My fear is that by the time we get everything ready for Christmas it will be New Year's! Hopefully it won't be long before the high pressure in our atmosphere lifts so the air can clear a bit. And maybe then I'll have some energy again...

Friday, December 2, 2011

More Stars

I'm up to 35 of these liberated stars now. It's time to throw them on the wall and see whether I want to sash them or make more blocks or.... ?

The colors in this jack o'lantern block don't look quite right in spite of my tweaking. The yellow is an orange-y yellow and the black bats are flying around on a warm chocolate brown background. It's really quite striking in person.

One of the problems I'm having is getting enough contrast between my star points and the dark backgrounds. Part of it is the palette I've chosen to work in but I think another part is the way I've been feeling lately. The darker blocks reflect the dampening of my spirit by chemical poisoning.

I have concerns about some of the backgrounds being too busy.

I'm sure it will all shake out in the end, one way or another. It's the more muted blocks that let the brighter ones shine after all. Unexpected things happen when you work this way, and happy accidents occur as often as not. I'm thinking more and more that the pumpkin print yardage I bought (see previous post) will end up as borders. They will go a long way toward brightening up the blocks, that's for sure!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Small Business Saturday Inspiration

I was pleased and excited to learn about "Small Business Saturday," the day after Black Friday designated to support our small independent businesses. So I broke one of my cardinal rules and went downtown on Saturday to shop. I knew I would be sick afterward but in this case I figured it would be worth it. The happy ending is that I wasn't as sick as I could have been - hurray! - and I came home with a pile of sale fabrics from my Local Quilt Shop. I confess that I only went into the quilt shop and the art supply store, though there are many, many shops downtown that I would dearly love to patronize. Our downtown is all independent businesses if I'm not mistaken.

Anyway... this is a partial pile of the yard goods I brought home.

There wasn't a lot more, another yard and a few fat quarters, but it was this part of the pile that got my juices flowing. My first thought was a few new potholders. I looked at the pumpkin print more and journaled a bit and decided to do this instead:

And then that led to these:

Yup, now that we're on our way to Christmas I'm finally making a new Halloween quilt!

Friday, November 25, 2011


Wow, these two pictures loaded fast! I'll have more of that please. :- )

I hope all my (American) cyber friends had a good Thanksgiving Day yesterday. Ours was quiet, just DH and I this year. As poorly as I was feeling it was just as well. Nevertheless, we were - and are - grateful for so much that we enjoy throughout the year. I was especially grateful to have the binding finished on Kaela's quilt...

and on my Pioneer Medallion quilt.

You can see Heather's lovely quilting really well on the back of the Medallion quilt. There was enough of that 110" wide backing fabric to cut binding strips too. When I sat down to put the binding on, however, I couldn't stomach that wine color near the reds I used in the quilt top. I had to go out and buy a nice solid navy blue and make a new binding. That works just fine, on both sides. It was very peaceful to sit and hand sew the binding down while I listened to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on audiobook. I slept really well under the quilt too. ;- )

Today I'm grateful to be feeling better than I did yesterday. I'm also excited by a bit of inspiration I had last night. Not sure I'll be able to show you much as I want the final product to be a surprise (it is that time of the year after all!) but maybe I'll be able to share sneak peeks. Rest assured, I will not be abandoning my blog as long as pictures continue to load so sweetly!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hopeful News

This post is not about a quilt or a beaded project. This has to do with that which brought me to blogging in the first place.

Readers who have paid attention are aware that my activities are severely restricted due to chemical sensitivities. I believe this problem was slowly growing over the whole of my life but was pushed over the edge by a specific event involving pesticides for home use. People in my position are practically forced to become social activists to some degree. I receive email notices every week having to do with various aspects of chemicals in our environment. I don't read a lot of them, it's too depressing. But there was one over the weekend that gives me a sense of satisfaction. Nothing may come of it but it reminds me that there are folks out there fighting the battle.

Big 6 Agrochemical Companies Indicted for Crimes Against Humanity

From 3-6th December 2011, the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) will convene in Bangalore, India, to hear cases brought against six multinational agrochemical companies who stand accused of violating human rights by promoting reliance on the sale and use of pesticides known to undermine internationally recognised rights to health, livelihood and life.

Known as the ‘Big 6’, the indicated agrochemical corporations are Monsanto, Dow, BASF, Bayer, Syngenta and DuPont. Collectively, these companies control 74% of the global pesticide market, making the pesticide/agricultural biotechnology industry one of the most consolidated sectors in the world.

The World Bank estimates that 355 000 people per year die of unintentional pesticide poisoning. “The aim of taking the Big 6 to the PPT is to give a voice to the otherwise voiceless victims of pesticides around the world who have suffered as a result of the relentless promotion of toxic poisons by these multinational companies.” Said Nick Mole, PAN UK Policy Officer.

During the course of the tribunal, Pesticide Action Network will invite witnesses including scientists, medical doctors, and lawyers, to prove the charges through expert testimony on pesticides, genetic engineering, intellectual property rights, and other subjects germane to the cases at hand. The PPT will also hear testimony from farmers, farm workers, beekeepers, mothers, young people, scientists and consumers from around the world. The defendants will be served and summoned to offer their perspectives and responses.

Also under indictment are the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organisation; these entities are charged with facilitating corporate concentration of power through their policies and programs. Additionally, the governments of Switzerland, Germany, and the United States – the home nations of six defendant companies – have been indicted for colluding with, and failing to regulate, corporate power.

The verdict from the hearing will be given on 6th December.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

All to Pieces

Well, my pictures loaded quickly enough. This window in which I compose my posts looks different though. Must be the next step in the changes Blogger is making. That probably accounts for the issues I've been having of late; I suspected as much. We'll see how things progress from here...

And speaking of progressing, I believe I left you with my 1.5" strip blocks looking like this:

You may remember that I decided to use my pieced strips around liberated log cabin blocks rather than stacking them on top of each other like Tonya and others have been doing.

There were several more pictures taken between the one above and the one below. What you see below is the end product. Well, the flimsy. It's been pin basted but I haven't quilted it yet. I've decided to call it "All to Pieces."

I sort of lost my steam after I quilted Kaela's quilt and then had all that trouble with the back. I also had a couple of unavoidable exposures. I feel mostly better today. It remains to be seen whether I can pick up where I left off. Turns out Kaela's birthday is not as early in December as I thought so there's less urgency to get her quilt bound and shipped. I may have to find some fun, colorful piecing to do. Or do a bit of beading. Or I may just crawl into another book...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

And the Saga Continues...

Actually, it feels like two sagas running simultaneously. One is the ongoing struggle to figure out why my pictures aren't loading quickly and easily to my blog, the other is the saga of Kaela's quilt. Let's start with Kaela's quilt.

A post or two ago I finally was able to show you a section of the back I'd created out of a buffalo check flannel with a border of red with white polka dots. I had to add a bit of red and white stripe to make the borders long enough. Well, they still weren't quite long enough, at least not in one corner.

Yes, that's my Warm & Natural batting showing beyond the backing. At this point I had begun to take out the quilting so I could add yet another piece of flannel to extend the back. You may or may not be able to discern the quilting lines. It may be better if you don't. ;- )

I took a strip of the backing that had been trimmed away elsewhere and added it back on. I'm hoping that new strip is long enough to be enclosed in the binding. I'm not sure that it is, and I'm afraid to look any closer to find out. I had my son Fray Check the raw end just in case.

So now Kaela's quilt will be even more unique. I sure hope this young lady likes funky!

As far as the photos loading is concerned, I had no trouble or delays at all when I posted pictures to a group blog the other day. They were pictures I'd taken in the last week or so too. The newer pictures I've tried to load here are the ones that time out and consequently don't load at all, no matter what approach I take. Older ones seem to load okay. I've still not had any response from either Blogger's Help Forum or Picasa's Help Forum. I just find this all kinds of frustrating.

I don't think I'm going to mess with Kaela's quilt at all today. I have another quilt basted and ready to quilt too, that I haven't shown you yet because of the photo issues. It's the lap quilt I made out of my pieced 1.5" strips. Right now I can't afford to spend any more time or emotional energy trying to load pictures so I think I'm going to get out my most colorful orphan blocks and see what happens when I throw them on the design wall. I need playtime!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Not Exactly A Quilt

But in honor of National Corduroy Day (because 11-11-11 looks like the wales of corduroy) I offer up my corduroy needlebook:

This is the front cover:

Here's the back:

I had a stash of corduroy for many years, thinking I would eventually make at least a small corduroy quilt. I especially loved the printed corduroys. The time came when I needed room for other fabrics that had a greater chance of being used so I finally had to admit that the corduroy quilt was probably never going to get made. I gave most of my corduroys to a dear friend, holding back just enough for any additional crazy quilting I might want to do. I have more confidence in her plans to make a corduroy quilt than I ever had in my own. ;- ) If you want to see some wonderful corduroy quilts go check out the blogs listed on Nifty's blog.

I would also like to give a shout out to the men and women serving in the various branches of our military on this Veteran's Day. There's a lengthy history of military service on my side of the family so I have a special place in my heart for all those who have volunteered with honor over the years. Those who are gone have my respect and gratitude and those who are serving now are in my prayers.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Saga of Kaela's Quilt

I have had to edit this post because pictures I thought were loading did not appear after all. I feel fortunate to have these two to brighten up my post (assuming they show up). I have tried for two days to put up two additional pictures. Maybe they are unnecessary.

Remember this? The last time you saw it was on a twin bed as a flimsy. Here it is auditioning for the role of carpet on my kitchen floor.

This was the first time I laid out the flannel back, batting, and the top.

The flannel I thought I was going to use to back this quilt didn't look as good with the top as I thought it would. So I dug around in my stash and came up with a wonderful black and white buffalo check. There was enough yardage to provide length but I needed more width.

The picture that would go here is the one of the delightful red and white polka dot flannel I used to border the big check.

To my utter dismay I discovered that the polka dot borders on the backing were not quite long enough to accommodate the quilt top. It lacked about two inches in length on each side, no matter how hard I tried to make it fit. {big sigh}

At this point I picked it all up and went rummaging around for something to add to the polka dot borders. Everything I had was either the wrong red, too big a print... just wrong. Until I came across this red and white stripe.

I have no idea how much of the stripe will end up being visible once the quilt is bound but it will certainly make the quilt unique.

Back out in the kitchen I retaped the flannel to the floor, laid out the batting and the top again, and pinned the whole shebang. I wasn't sure how I was going to quilt it at that point so I just put my safety pins in on the horizontal sashes. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

After a cat nap later in the day I had an idea for a quilting pattern that I could probably do "by eye." Guess what? The pins in the horizontal sashing would totally be in the way. Of course. So I dragged out the card table and repinned the whole thing. {sigh} Do I dare tackle the quilting right away or would it be more prudent to wait for this ill wind to blow on through?

I have tried again to get someone's attention at Blogger to let them know I'm having issues here. They were away at a conference for blogging tech wizards when this started. Now they seem to be preoccupied with all the new features they're trying to create and put in place. Those of us who just want a simple, reliable, but still fun way to share our thoughts and photos with our friends seem to be distinctly in the minority. Color me disgruntled (to say the least).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

In the Background

During the silence on this blog I have at least been at work in the studio. I don't know whether I mentioned it or not but I have been sewing 1.5 inch strips and pieces into 12.5" strips. (I have a picture of my lovely flat box with the strips all neatly arranged inside but I'm being restricted to one photo per post apparently.) When I realized it would take 12 of those strips to make a twelve inch block my enthusiasm dropped significantly. Then one day it occurred to me that I had a stack of liberated log cabins in my drawer of orphan blocks and that maybe I could use them with these pieced strips. Or rather, use the pieced strips to build the log cabin blocks up to a bigger size. (Insert another picture here, of a liberated log cabin block with a single row of pieced logs sewn around it.)

Also during this time Laura was so kind as to send me a duplicate copy of Gwen Marston's book Liberated Strings that she discovered in her studio. There was a picture in there of an antique four block quilt that got me to thinking about making a four block liberated log cabin quilt top. I also had in mind the request for 40 x 45" quilts for the Alzheimer's Disease Co-operative Study. Suddenly I had a fully fleshed out project. :- )

Here's the one photo I was able to load, my four blocks at about fourteen inches:

As I'm writing this I have the top nearly done. I guess we'll have to wait for the next post for you to see it. Maybe after Election Day the Internet will be less busy? I may just have to develop the habit of shorter, more frequent posts. Or maybe things will settle down again once Blogger gets all the kinks worked out of all the new stuff they're trying to pull off. Seriously, when did the world get so hooked on new and improved? Can I blame Steve Jobs or will I be lynched for making such a blasphemous statement?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

WooHoo! Pictures!

Is it a fluke or a fix?

I tried to load pictures from Flickr. The prompt said my pictures had loaded but nothing showed up, twice. Then I made my picture files smaller. For whatever reason that seemed to do the trick although it still took forever for the photos to load.

Here's the finished version of the quilt that went to New York for the BASICS program.

I don't know whether you'll be able to see it bigger or not. I did very simple quilting so there's not much to see in that department anyway.

And here's the ATC I made up for October.

I haven't figured out what to call it yet. I just got a kick out of the juxtaposition of the whimsical skull and crossbones print and the elegant Art Nouveau lady and the spider. The beads are all pewter except for three glass trumpet flowers that are a faint pink with yellow stop beads. I had difficulties machine stitching around the edge this time. Between the fat presser foot I have to use for the blanket stitch and where I put those leaf beads there just wasn't enough room!

So now that I've finally been able to show you these two projects I wonder if I'll be able to show you what I've been working on since then?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thoughts on Blogging

Well, I got one picture up. This is a tin I bought recently. I tried to load a picture of the Churn Dash quilt I sent to BASICS in New York and it dragged on forever. I also tried to load a picture of my latest ATC for the Bead Journal Project, with the same results. Makes me wonder if there's actually a problem within my Picasa program or between my camera and the software. Ick. I don't have the knowledge to fix that kind of thing.

I am not a tech person. Blogging is my replacement for the social interaction I used to get from my quilt guild. It's how I do Show and Tell these days. Believe me, I'd rather do it in person but I'm grateful that this platform is available. I just need someone else to fix the glitches!

Serious or in-depth troubleshooting is beyond my skills and patience. In order for me to participate in the online world things need to be simple and straightforward, the more obvious the better. That's why I chose Blogger. For the most part it's been a good match. I've been able to keep up with the changes or choose to update things about my blog. However, I do not appreciate having "new and improved" shoved down my throat by Blogger or any other manufacturer/provider. New and Improved! always meant the product had been altered for the worse in my experience.

I don't blog to make money for myself or anyone else. I don't even do it to promote myself or my artistic efforts in any way. In the beginning I visited a lot of blogs on a regular basis. Now I find myself spending the most time with a handful who have become like close personal friends. I'm an introvert; chat rooms and social networking sites aren't usually my cup of tea. And if I'm spending all my time on the computer I'm not sewing! It's been tricky for me to find a balance between the two. I like to see what others are doing and making, what's popular and all that, but I am also easily overwhelmed. My muse will run and hide if she gets the impression we aren't doing what we "ought" to be doing (ie: what everyone else seems to be doing).

The other side of that coin is the support and encouragement I receive from my blogging friends. Simple comments at least let me know someone else is out there, sharing in what I've posted. I feel much less alone in the world when someone leaves a comment on my blog. (And for someone as isolated as I am that means a lot.) When those comments are thoughtful and sincere it means that much more. It occurs to me that a thoughtful comment could be the equivalent of a hand written letter in days of old (eek!).

The time I spend reading or surfing other blogs fluctuates widely and without a discernible pattern (so far). I tend to spend the most time online when I'm stuck or between projects here in my own studio. That doesn't mean that I no longer enjoy or support those blogs I do visit and enjoy. When my own blog is quiet, not receiving comments, I try very hard to remind myself that my cyber friends and acquaintances are busy doing other things themselves. I try not to take it personally. It's not easy, and it doesn't always work, but I try. The sheer numbers of quilters and artists out there make it impossible to visit everyone and participate in everything, much as I might like to.

Oh, and this business of having - or collecting - followers? I choose not to participate in popularity contests. Nor do I like having information filling my dashboard or inbox willy-nilly. When I have the time and inclination to go see what other bloggers have done or said I will go visit them in person, so to speak. Does that make me a control freak? Oh well, so be it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No Customer Service

It's been almost a week now and I still have not been able to resolve my picture posting issue. I've tried everything I can think of, including leaving messages on Blogger's Help Forum. That's one "service" I find absolutely useless. It's like throwing your concern into the ether and hoping someone will happen along to grab it up and address it. Is there not one employee assigned to monitor the new postings there? If not, there should be. I miss old fashioned customer service. A lot of online retailers will answer questions over the phone; I appreciate that a lot. I guess maybe because Blogger is a free product I shouldn't expect excellent customer support.

Since my last post with pictures I have finished the Churn Dash quilt that's headed to the BASICS Housing program in New York. It turned out really well. Too bad you can't see it. (Hmm. Guess I could upload pictures to Flickr. I've just fallen out of the habit of using Flickr since I've been blogging.)

I've also finished an ATC for October. It's really cool. Maybe you'll get to see it someday. Right now my nose is so out of joint I just need to get off the computer and stitch out my frustrations...

Friday, October 21, 2011

No Pictures

And what's a quilty post without pictures?

I don't know what the problem is. I've tried only loading one photo at a time and the process still is so slow the photo won't load. Is the internet that busy?

My pictures are not large files.

Very frustrating. Plus I see that, whether we like it or not, everyone on Blogger will be transferred to the new interface eventually. Guess us old folks just have to move forward with everyone else. There may be more of us in number but the young people rule cyberspace.

Makes one think twice about continuing to blog at all...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another Dashing Quilt

After I delivered my Medallion quilt to Heather for quilting I remembered another Churn Dash project I had started back in the day. It must have been the mid to late 1990's. I was playing with plaids and homespuns, and I think this was one of the first times I tried a diagonal set.

It was put away because once I had the setting triangles in place I didn't know what else to do. It was also a strange size, slightly under 33" x 42." I really liked it but it was too big to be a wall hanging (given the wall space we had at the time) and it felt too grown up for a baby quilt. Now, with more experience under my belt, it seemed natural to just put a couple of borders on it to bring it up to a workable size. In this case that was 36" x 48."

I thought of this UFO because I had some blocks and pieces leftover from my Medallion quilt and I was pretty sure they were basically all the same color scheme. I also dug into my orphan blocks to see what else I might have that would work. I found a few blocks that I think must have been leftover from when I originally put the diagonal set together. The first thing I did was to frame them up so they would finish at 12 inches. Then the 10" and 12" blocks went on the design wall with the UFO.

Not bad!

Next I took my leftover flying geese units and used them to make more blocks. I was able to make a couple of Dutchman's Puzzle blocks and a couple that are variations on that block (the geese are pointing in a different direction). I used some of the geese to frame up 5" Churn Dash blocks I had on hand so that they became 10" blocks. And I cut a few new patches to fill in the blank spots. Then I had to resort to using the bed to lay out the blocks because it had all outgrown my design wall.

Oh yes, I made a star block with a Churn Dash center too. You'll see it in the picture below. That block didn't make it into the final version though because of its' dark background. I ended up making a lighter star block for that spot.

Fortunately I still had enough of the brown that I'd used in the diagonal set to sash the border blocks. Unfortunately, when I had the borders all sewn up they were one and a quarter inches longer than the center panel of the quilt. Arrgh! And I thought my math was so accurate!

Finding a solution for that little problem required some sleep. The next day I took out four sashing strips and replaced them with slightly wider strips.

That seemed to do the trick. All it needed then was 3" at either end to get the length I wanted. This quilt will finish at 60" x 80." I don't have a picture of the finished flimsy - sorry. I'd found the perfect backing fabric in my stash and was getting ready to baste the layers together when I thought about it and by that time it was too dark to get a decent picture. And now it's all rolled up, pinned and waiting for me to figure out how I'm going to quilt it. It won't be anything fancy, believe me. My goal is to get this done and on its' way to New York ASAP. I kind of have a hankering to do some more piecing before I start the quilting process though... ;- )

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

And Done!

It feel so good to be productive again. Even the itch of the hives has been damped down to a tolerable level. Whew!

If you take a quick look at the previous post you'll see that I had just put the flying geese border on my Pioneer Medallion flimsy. My plan was to then border the whole thing with another set of ten inch Churn Dash blocks, all in blue, and end by putting flying geese along the top and bottom edges to add length. Once I had the blue Churn Dash blocks on I put the flimsy on the bed to see how it looked.

The bedroom furniture we use belonged to my husband's grandparents. I believe it to be from the 1930's. When I put the flimsy on the bed I realized that I didn't really need the extra geese at either end of the quilt. Because there's a foot board and we are short people I don't need the extra length. (In the picture above the blue Dashes you see at the bottom are hanging over the footboard.)

Here's a shot of one side of the bed (the side where the window is, thus making it possible to get a decent picture!). The top fits the bed beautifully, just as it is. :- )

That's also a west window so it will be helpful to be able to turn the quilt a quarter turn every so often to avoid fading (in case you missed it, the quilt is a square). Yippee! All done! I've called my machine quilter and will be handing this off to her later in the week. She recently quilted the I Spy Disappearing 9 Patch I made too.

Just a simple meander but she donated her services and it's all the quilt needed.

The stars are the backing. I hadn't a clue what I would use for the binding. When I saw that Heather had used a green thread for the quilting I went to my green stash and found an old print that was perfect. There was just enough of it too!

Now all I have to do is get it turned in so one of the kids in our local Foster Care program can put it to good use!

The flying geese that I didn't use on my Medallion quilt are going into a quilt destined for the BASICS program in NYC via Victoria at Bumble Beans. Stay tuned!

Basics Promesa:

BASICS/Promesa, is a community based organization in the South Bronx, New York City, founded by Latino Leaders. Our goal is to assist disadvantaged families and individuals, as well as to enhance their ability to thrive in the community. The organization offers housing services, primary care, substance abuse, mental health and harm reduction services — everything an individual needs in order to recover and actively participate in the betterment of our community.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pioneer Medallion Progress

I'm happy to report that I'm finally feeling more like myself again. It seems like it has been a long time coming. I'm covered in hives but at least my brain is functioning.

While I've been gone this valance curtain arrived from the Victorian Trading Company. (Not spontaneously you understand. I ordered it. I'd never seen their catalog before but somehow I ended up on their mailing list. In this case I don't mind one bit!) It dressed up my naked design wall while I searched for the appropriate rod to use to hang it over my kitchen window.

I actually kind of miss it in my studio!

When I started feeling better I think the cobweb valance inspired me to choose these batiks for another friendship block for a local guild member.

Purple and green in these vibrant tones can speak of Halloween. In softer tones they can be very spring-like.

I've always found friendship blocks to be a good way to get back into my quiltmaking activities. I was grateful to have a couple to make. This is Rocky Mountain Puzzle, a block I've long admired but had never taken the time to try out.

It wasn't hard exactly, just a little on the fussy side if you know what I mean. There's a partial seam to deal with but it wasn't that bad.

At this point I still wasn't ready to do anything terribly creative or original but I wanted to do some more sewing. I pulled out my Pioneer Medallion project, which I don't think I've touched since last year some time. (Yes, you can see my last post about it here.) I made up the final Spinner block I needed for it and then started sewing the blocks and borders together.

If you look closely you can see the brown paper tags I used to keep things straight. You should also be able to double click on the photos to see them larger.

The last couple of days have been spent arranging the flying geese units and sewing them onto the medallion.

I only had one section of border come out too short because somehow I accidently left out a goose. Not too bad considering all the opportunities for screw-ups there were! The next - and final - step is to arrange my ten inch blue Churn Dash blocks around the perimeter. I have four more Spinners that will go in the corners. I don't want to jinx it but there's a very good chance that this quilt could be finished and on my bed before the end of this year!