Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fabric Challenge

Months ago the La Conner Quilt Museum announced a fabric challenge. The entries will be displayed in conjunction with their annual quilt festival in  early October. Entries that are donated to the Museum will be sold and the proceeds used to keep the Museum up and running.

I cannot resist a fabric challenge. This one was a stumper though. The busy paisley on the left is a Kaffe Fassett print, the contemporary print on the right is by Brandon Mably.

I can imagine a lot of people being put off by the colors. That wasn't the issue for me. My problem was in reconciling the two disparate styles of print!

There is a month left to the deadline for submitting a piece. So far this is what I have:

I don't remember what possessed me, but recently I had a go at making some flower shapes out of rick rack. Then I also tried ribbons. It was fun; I may even do more. What I'm going to do with them remains to be seen. At least they are in the colors of the challenge prints. I may get an entry made yet!

As our outdoor temperatures finally approach normal around here I'm thinking the next couple of months may be a good time to focus on hand work. I'm woefully behind with my bead journal project for this year. I have a couple of months done, and pieces and parts and ideas for one or two more. This seems to be my pattern though, letting them pile up and then doing several at one time. For me, it's all about learning what my processes are and accepting them. So I'm trying to remain calm.

I've also indulged in a few new inspiration books. Two are softcovers and will have to be disassembled before I'll be able to enjoy them. The other is on my Nook Color. Finally! one of the types of books I missed the most, available for my particular type of e-reader! This is the whole reason my DH chose the Nook over a Kindle for me: color pictures. There just haven't been many books I was interested in available for the Nook. Now I'm reading about mixed media artists and their obsessions for collections. I feel right at home. :- )

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Friendship Blocks

I've been plugging away on the new set of chevron blocks. Unfortunately, I've had more difficult days than good ones lately so progress has been slow. In between the chevron blocks I've made a couple of friendship blocks for members of my local quilt guild. This first one is Card Trick. It will finish at 10.5 inches if I remember correctly.

The other request was for a Halloween themed block, any technique, finishing at 8 or 10 inches square. I had a hard time with this, even though at first I was very excited to make a Halloween block. After considering lots of possibilities I started piecing scraps of orange, yellow, and some orangey-red with the intention of making a free pieced pumpkin. The pumpkin is about three-quarters done but I got stuck at that point. When I wasn't feeling all that capable in the last few days I spent time looking through my inspiration clippings and came up with a new idea. This is the result:

I'm really very pleased with this witch's hat. : D

The scrap blocks are piling up on the design wall too.

The Shoo Fly and Broken Dishes are all six inch blocks, and the flying geese units will finish at 4 x 2 inches. It remains to be seen where they end up!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More Chevron Blocks

Finally! Summer solstice! And to top it off, around here it actually looks and feels like summer! This is nothing short of miraculous. Of course it won't last, but I'll take what we can get. :- D

Since my last post I've started a new set of chevron log cabin blocks. The goal with this batch is to use brighter prints in a scrappy palette, avoiding overtly juvenile prints.

I'm working on 16 blocks to begin with. This is the layout I'm planning to use:

When these blocks reach 16 inches or so I may start four more just so I have enough to make another twin size quilt top for a young person in Foster Care.

At this point, about half their final size, the process seems to slow down significantly. It takes longer to find prints I haven't just used, I have to stop to cut more strips, and the seams are longer. I'm working on Phoebe, who sews slower than Ruby Blue, because I can hang the strips close to hand. I haven't figured out yet how I would do that where Ruby is stationed.

I've also discovered that as the chevron blocks get bigger I need something to keep me motivated. It turns out that piecing the smaller scrappy orphan blocks provides a sort of instant gratification that does the job perfectly!

During down time I sort through my scrap patches, setting up blocks. I keep these nearby so I can shoot a few patches through in between the chevron blocks. Seeing these blocks completed and accumulating on the design wall helps me to feel that I really am making progress while I'm still plugging away at the chevron blocks. ;- )

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Between the Lines

My latest chevron block quilt top is done. Hurray! I'm calling it Between the Lines. It was big enough for me to have a hard time photographing it; it measures about 66 x 86 inches.

I took a few detail shots so you could get a better look at some of the text prints.

And here's another overall view. You ought to be able to double click on the pictures to make them really big.

This top will also go to my local quilt guild for quilting by another volunteer. Eventually it will be donated to an older child in our foster care system. And now I'm working on a third set of chevron blocks! After 20 years of building quilts out of pieced blocks I'm finally hooked on strips. They never held much interest for me previously. Actually, there seems to be an endless variety of designs you can do with this block and apparently I want to try them all. In fact, I've gotta go cut some more strips ... ;- )

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Back on Task

As it turns out, I couldn't leave the potential Broken Dishes doll quilt alone. I ended up adding one more row of blocks. It is now 18 inches square. Or would be if I finished it as it is.

The last thought I had was to frame it with a narrow solid strip and then surround it with some of my smaller flying geese units. We'll see. It has been set aside for the time being while I tackle the chevron text blocks.

The blocks were all laid out but they were still in their rough state, varying in size from about 15" to over 17 inches. My brain was working well enough yesterday that I was able to come up with a plan for bringing them all up to the same size. My first decision was that they all needed to end with dark strips.

While I liked the light, airy feel the blocks had previously they needed the definition the dark strips create. I have two of these rows sewn together now; there are two rows of blocks yet to frame up to size. Wish me luck. :- )

On another note, I was afraid my two remaining peony bushes had not survived last summer. Come to find out they are both alive, and one is even blooming! It may only produce a total of three flowers this year but at least it's not dead.

All we need now is some sunshine and it may finally feel like summer around here. It's been so cold and wet the weather forecasters have taken to calling this month June-uary. If anyone needs a break from the heat just come on out to the Pacific Northwest - but be sure to bring your coat!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dolls and Quilts

I was feeling the need for some visual inspiration late last week. In general I don't find it satisfying to surf the 'net for that kind of thing. I want to experience it in person if at all possible. Obviously it's not that possible anymore. Books and magazines are where I used to go next, but now I have to be very careful of printed material. Since my diagnosis I have had to wean myself away from the quilting magazines I used to rely on for visual input. Over the course of time I have learned that the publications produced by Stampington & Co. are safer for me than most others. So I walked into JoAnn Fabrics last Friday, knowing full well that I would have to pay the price for going into such a toxic atmosphere, but I had to have something new to look at! This is what I came away with:

Prims is a volume dedicated to primitive dolls. Sew Somerset is a compendium of various sewn items, from small quilts to fiber journals.

There's something about dolls, whether they are sophisticated, finely crafted sculptures or simple rag dolls or weird squishy creatures, that appeals to me. I think it may be that I enjoy seeing the result of someone else's creative energies at work. But it's more than that because that can shine through other types of artwork as well. Maybe it has something to do with my love of story. Quilts don't tell their tales as readily as dolls do. Dolls also allow us to create our own stories in a way that most quilts don't.

What I am most intrigued by in Sew Somerset are the fiber books. There aren't stories involved necessarily, but they hint at one at least. Or they are lovely ways to store needles and pins and the other little tools of the trade. Just delicious. I'm probably going to have to make one for myself in the not-too-distant future. ;- )

After I recovered somewhat from my excursion in to JoAnn's I played around with my scrappy Broken Dishes blocks. I really liked the rectangular format the newest blocks had fallen into so I just kept that format. This is what I ended up with; it would finish at about 13.5 x 18 inches.

But the granddaughters were here yesterday so I asked for their input on this potential doll quilt. Mostly I wanted to know whether the rectangle would work for them or whether it needed to be bigger, or square, or something else. DD gave me her suggestions, based on how she has seen doll quilts get used in their home. The girls didn't quite understand what I was asking so I pulled out my bin of strings and let them have at it. This is what they created:

I may sew the strips together to make a back for the quilt...

Today I had enough energy to lay my chevron text blocks out on the living room floor.

There has been much rearranging in an effort to keep the same print from showing up too close to itself. Reilly got a little bored with the process.

The blocks are still on the floor as I write this. I think I have them in the final layout but needed to take a break before I start labeling them so I can keep them in order when I get them back to the studio. Fortunately I have several hours before someone will need to walk across the floor. I don't expect Reilly will mess them up, and since we have no cats I feel pretty safe leaving them in place!