Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What We Need Now Is A Little Magic...

My chevron text blocks are now either slightly more than 16.5 inches square...

Or just barely 16 inches square.

I really don't want to add one more round of fabric just to cut most of it off to make the blocks all the same size.

And there's the issue of some blocks ending with dark strips while others have the lighter text prints on the perimeters.

What I need to do is find a place, probably our double bed or a floor, where I can work out block placement. I want to see whether I can alternate the larger blocks with smaller blocks so I don't have to fuss with each and every block. It's quite likely that I will have to add in a strip here and there but I can live with that.

In the meantime, today I found myself sorting leftover half-square triangle units.

Most of these are the leftover corners from the process I use to make my Flying Geese units. The bigger ones will probably end up as Broken Dishes blocks (my current favorite use for half-square triangles). Not sure what I'll do with the little ones. They're only 1.75" in their raw state. Maybe tiny Broken Dishes? Maybe one or more sawtooth strings? Or I could start on a doll's quilt made entirely of tiny half-square triangles. Anyone got any other ideas out there? ;- )

Monday, May 28, 2012

Old Fashioned Texting

So here's the thing. When there are long gaps between my blog posts it means one of two things: Either I have my head down and am engrossed in my current project or I've been incapacitated by hormone imbalance or chemical exposure. I'm sorry to report that between the last post and this one it has been the latter. On the upside, you may remember that I'd cut these patches to start a new text quilt...

The plan was to turn them into what I know as chevron log cabin blocks. Others call them House Top blocks. Whatever you call them, they are simple enough that I could work on them when I had a little bit of energy.

I started with 16 patches of varying size and shape. In the beginning I didn't have much of a plan for this project other than to use up some of my leftover text prints. Pretty quickly I decided I would stick with 1.5" strips in dark colors between the wider, lighter prints.

I also came to the conclusion that I wanted 20 blocks, not just 16. That way the individual blocks can be smaller, which I find easier to work with.

It feels like it has taken a long time to get all the blocks about the same size. I still have another round of light prints to add before I trim them to size. That's just as well since I still don't feel quite up to par yet. {sigh}

In honor of Memorial Day and all those who have served or are serving in our Armed Forces I leave you with this picture of the twin size quilt top I made and recently donated to the American Hero Quilts program. God bless them all.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Not Quite Finished

I have finished quilting and binding The Best Seat in the House. I tried out one of the decorative stitches in the center panel of the quilt and then just stitched gentle curves from block corner to block corner.

I think it worked out pretty well. The only problem is that our weather has turned wet since I finished stitching the binding down and now I can't get a picture of the whole quilt!

I also had a setback with What the Doctor Knew (the Dr. Seuss quilt). I put the quilt through the washing machine in an attempt to remove the yellow chalk lines I'd used to guide my quilting over one of the big blocks. The chalk didn't come out but the crayon in the reader's hair and book did! Turns out the crayons I'd used were made for little children and are meant to wash out cuz, you know, little kids color where they shouldn't. So I'm going to spot treat the chalk and get some new crayons. Good thing that quilt isn't needed as soon as I originally thought. ;- )

I finally cut into some of my happy batiks after those two quilts were bound. Made a few experimental liberated stars that will finish at 12 inches. During the process I also pieced up another scrappy Shoo Fly (6") and a Broken Dishes block. The Broken Dishes is made from the triangles that get cut off when I make my Flying Geese units. If I were to trim the block to size it would finish at five inches I think.

Thought I would take this opportunity to show you a couple of friendship blocks I've made recently for members of my local quilt guild. It's fun to try out new blocks or color combinations. Although sometimes it's a real challenge to find appropriate prints in my stash! This colorwash heart is a prime example.

I don't typically buy floral prints but that's what was requested for this block. What a shock to find I had enough variety in black of all colors!

This was a block pattern I don't remember ever having made before.

It turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What the Doctor Knew

Hello Friends,
You remember this top?

I always felt that the child-reading-a-book block needed some color.

I finally got brave and dug out a few of the granddaughter's crayons. I also decided to use the book's covers as my label for the quilt. This is the result:

This was all done after the quilting had been done. And now the binding is all sewn down too!

I didn't think to take a detail shot of the binding, sorry. It's a wonderful stripe of primary colors. All the quilt needs now is a good soaking. I had to resort to marking some of the areas that needed quilting. A lot of the chalk has rubbed off but there are areas, on white of course, where it's still quite visible. As long as that washes out I will be very pleased with how this turned out. :- )

I've also managed to pin baste the The Best Seat in the House (see previous post). Naturally I chose the hottest day we've had so far this year to do that job! Now I just have to gird my loins and begin the quilting.

But I also need something to piece for when I take a break from the quilting process. To that end I have cut these text patches in preparation for another quilt for Foster Care.

They range in size from five inches square to 5.5 x 6.5 inch rectangles. This will be another version of the House Top quilt from Gwen & Freddy Collaborate Again, but more controlled this time I think. We'll see. You never know how things will evolve between the start and the finish of one of my quilts!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Shakespeare Auction Quilt Part Two

Sorry to keep y'all waiting so long. There have been ridiculous distractions around here, some good, some nerve wracking. Did you know lonely labrador retrievers are capable of howling for more than six continuous hours? Yeah. Guess how I know.

Anyway, Here's the completed flimsy for the auction for Shakespeare Northwest. It will finish at 60" x 72."

Here you can see the border print better. And the dandelion print too!

Here's another detail shot, just for kicks.

And this brown calico will be the back (it's darker in person).

My thinking is that when the quilt is used for seating at performances in the Black Rock Amphitheater any dirt won't show so much. ;- ) [all seating is bring your own]

To that end I've also decided to call the finished quilt The Best Seat in the House.

Meanwhile, on another front, DD and I had a pact not to exchange Mother's Day gifts or cards this year. That is until she came across this plastic Mardis Gras necklace that had my name on it.

I also happened to be in need of another tin for storage in the studio and mentioned it to her. She dashed into her house and returned with these:

She said she'd been planning to hold onto them until my birthday. Oh well, they'll help me have a happy Mother's Day anyway. :- ) I hope all the mothers out there reading this will have a happy Mother's Day right along with me!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Auction Quilt for Shakespeare Northwest

Sorry to keep you all waiting for a new post. I do have something new to share, and really meant to do so before now. What can I say? There have been a few days when I've felt like this:

And then there was a day or so of mourning for this tree across the street that apparently had to come down.

It was a favorite place for the crows to perch inbetween their efforts to harvest and crack the nuts from another local tree. sigh Hopefully the property owners will see fit to replace the old tree with a new one.

But you're probably more interested in what's been going on here in The Magpie's Nest. ;- )

Just as I was finishing up Strips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails I learned of an auction to support our annual Shakespeare Festival. I only had about a month to create something to donate so the first thing I did was get into my Parts Department and put some liberated log cabins on the wall. I started out with a strippy format, columns of blocks that I was going to separate with other blocks and maybe some yardage. That didn't seem to be working very well so I mushed all the blocks together to create a central panel.

Right away that felt like a more viable direction to take. The overall goal was to make something that could be used on the ground as a  picnic quilt. Our Shakespeare Festival takes place outside in a natural amphitheater and seating is bring your own.

The super scrappy center will help to disguise dirt and food stains. I added the flying geese units around it to allow me to expand the top with alternating six inch blocks and whole cloth squares.

As it turned out, I ended up using only Shoo Fly blocks. I did go out and purchase yardage for the alternate squares, just so there would be something new and fresh in the quilt. It's a stylized dandelion print that's part of the Wrenly line from Valori Wells and Free Spirit.

I had to turn the whole thing upside down on the design wall to figure out block placement for the fourth side.

In all it only took me about four days to assemble this quilt top. In the next post you'll see that I've added a border all around the perimeter. And in case anyone is taking notes, I have started quilting the Dr. Seuss quilt for the library. It's about 80- 85% done at this point. Just have to figure out how to deal with one of the bigger blocks and the filler bits. So far, so good!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Strips & Snails & Puppy Dog Tails

You might want to get a cuppa your favorite beverage... I have been busy!

Actually, I had a few days where I was unable to function. Then, in desperation, I paged through my Gwen & Freddy books for color and inspiration. This "Housetop" quilt caught my attention.

(ppg. 154-155 of Gwen & Freddy Collaborate Again)

I needed something I could do without too much thought or effort. This looked do-able and these 4.5" patches seemed like a good place to start.

Making a quilt of chevron or half log cabin or housetop blocks has been on my list of Quilts To Make for years. I gave myself permission to let this be the first one, and to let it be as scrappy as it needed to be. In two days I had seven blocks built up and trimmed down to 18.5," which is the size Gwen & Freddy used for their version.

Seven blocks was either one too many for a baby quilt or not enough for a larger person's quilt. Before I had made up my mind what to do my friend C~ talked with me about the need for quilts for the young men in the Foster Care system. Our local quilt group makes plenty of baby and child size quilts but the teenagers tend to get left out, especially the young men. So I decided to make five more blocks, and to try to skew the blocks masculine and older. This was not easy to do! I don't have a lot of florals in my stash but I do have a preponderance of feminine and juvenile prints - at least in my opinion. Eventually I had twelve 18.5" blocks though.

The second set of blocks were started with five inch patches, not 4.5," just because. I also tried hard to make them very dark. The upright sashes between blocks were cut from assorted 2.5" strips but all the horizontal sashing was cut from one print.

It took some doing to find an appropriate print for the outer border. I had just the right thing in my stash though. The gold in the horizontal sashing is reflected in some of the circles on the purple print. Woohoo!

So we have strips... and snails...

and puppy dog tails...


for a young man who, as we all know, will be a little boy at heart forever. ;- )