Wednesday, February 26, 2014

This and That

There's not a lot happening yet here in the Magpie's Nest. I'm still slightly in recovery mode apparently. I did make a couple of friendship blocks but didn't think to get pictures for you. Just this morning I pulled out a section of strata that had been given to me years ago. This is what's left of it:

And this is what I made out of it:

Two blocks that will finish at about 14 inches each. I'm not sure what I'll do with them yet but it's possible they will become the start of a new quilt top for a child in Foster Care.

It occurs to me that I haven't yet blogged my fabric choices for the Tea Towel Challenge. Partly that's because I don't anticipate using much more than two of the towels I bought when I first signed up for the challenge. It's also due to the fact that I don't choose my fabrics ahead of time. I pull them when I'm ready to use them. I was pleasantly surprised at how much brighter my main towel looked after it was soaked in borax for several hours.


And after:

Well, maybe you can't see the difference. Trust me, it's brighter. ;- )

I'm also using the monogram from another towel:

Well, that's the plan anyway. I hope to have the energy soon to start working on this little quilt. It's only going to be about 18" x 24," to fit a specific space in our home. In case this is your first visit to my Nest the plan is to make these tea towels into an anniversary gift/wall hanging for my husband. Our 30th wedding anniversary just happens to fall at about the same time as the challenge deadline. You should be able to click on the link above to see what others are doing in this challenge.

Speaking of recycling or up-cycling textiles, C~ brought over the body of an old apron she thought I would enjoy playing with. She was right!

Aren't they cute?

I haven't a clue what I'll do with them yet. It makes me happy just to have the panel on my design wall for now. :- )

Friday, February 21, 2014

Bead Journal Project for 2014

One of the projects I've been working on in the background here in the Magpie's Nest are my first two pieces for this year's Bead Journal Project.

I may have mentioned that I'm using the idea of a bookmark for this series. Rather than the long skinny rectangle of most traditional bookmarks I used a shipping tag as the inspiration for my foundations. Once that decision had been made I cut 12 pieces of batting to support the fabrics on which I would be beading.

I begin with batting and fabric cut 3" x 5.5." This gives me tags that are 2.5" wide and 5" long. For the first tag I used a bit of fabric my friend C~ gave me for Christmas. She had experimented with ice dyeing with some friends of ours earlier in the year. This is what the half-yard cut looked like:

Having the whole family together for Christmas was the inspiration for the theme of January's tag. I started by pulling out charms and trying different arrangements to indicate my husband and I, each of our children, their spouses and children.

I couldn't find a layout that satisfied me well enough to sew the bits down. Eventually I put all of those away and started fresh, with sequins this time.

This arrangement felt more promising. I played around with stacking sequins and the colors of the beads used to secure them to the foundation. I also decided to add a second large gold heart so that there's one for each of us, my husband and I.

The silver hearts represent our children, the star is our son in law (the sailor) and the flower is our prospective daughter in law. The little flowers are our granddaughters. :- ) Maybe you can also see the seed stitching I did with silk floss to fill in the background. Double clicking on the pictures should make them larger.

In keeping with the idea of a bookmark I chose to finish this one off with a loop and tassel. I made this tassel myself, out of a chenille yarn in my stash.

And now I've completed my bookmark/tag for February:

This one also began with a piece of hand dyed fabric, but this was some I've had in my stash for years. Once again I started out with one set of charms and beads, even had them sewn down this time, and then ended up taking them all off when I found a more appropriate pendant in my collection. My goal was to express visually the pain and frustration I've been experiencing.

To help represent the headaches I stacked four sequins on top of each other, after first trimming the lower two into pointier shapes. They began life as the sort of sunburst or flower sequins that are readily available in craft stores. There's a red one, then a silver one, then a smaller silver buzz saw blade sequin, then the red circle, all topped with the red triangle bead.

The lower half of the composition represents the heavy menstrual bleeding I've been enduring. This isn't a great shot but you can see the variety of beads I used.

You can also see that I used scatter stitching to fill in the background again. This time it was a variegated cotton floss (DMC 4190). I have a sneaking suspicion this treatment will be showing up in many, if not all, of my tags this year. I decided to try something other than a tassel on this one however. I like the tassel but I think a ribbon like this may be more useful if I want to hang the tags for display.

I already have an idea for a theme for March's beaded journal piece. Only time will tell whether that idea bears fruit or not!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

So Much to Catch Up On!

Suffice to say that it's been a rough ten days or so. I have been able to get some sewing done however. My main focus has been to create a second quilt top using the blocks that were leftover from the top for the Smokin' Hot Quilt Challenge. There were 12 of the string blocks...

And I had just enough Amish style blocks on hand to go around the strings, thus echoing the look of the Smokin' Hot top (which you can see here).

The first thing I did was to frame this composition with 2.5" strips. I'm not sure I was thinking clearly at that point.

It seemed like it ought to work but nothing I tried clicked. First it was hourglass units. These would have made a three inch border.

I also tried nine inch Shoo-fly blocks.

They were out of proportion, too big. So I tried another round of six inch blocks:

Better, but it still needed something. That medium-light print frame just wasn't holding its own. I cut it down to finish 1.5" wide on each side and then tried boosting it with some navy blue:

Success! Now what to do about those corners? I wanted something different from the Shoo-fly and Churn Dash blocks, just for the sake of interest. Bow Ties maybe?

Maybe. But maybe there's something better... I tried Broken Dishes blocks and considered others in my Parts Dept. but finally settled on framed squares.

These were some I already had on hand. I liked the top two but the two on the bottom felt weak so I made a few more.

This is the completed top. It's nowhere near the twin size of the Smokin' Hot flimsy but it has a different destination and doesn't need to be that big. I recently found out about a group of ladies here in the Valley that put together quilts for chemo and radiation patients in two of our local hospitals. The quilts are used for warmth during chemo treatments and as a sort of graduation gift for those who have finished their course of radiation. I was told to shoot for a top between 40 and 50 inches wide by 50 to 60 inches long. This one will be 48" x 54" once it's been quilted and bound. I had a piece of yardage in my stash that works perfectly for the back and I also made binding to send with it. {happy sigh} It feels good to have completed a project and lightened my own load of older blocks and prints at the same time. :- )

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Managing Migraines

I have been struggling with migraines the last few days. I feel like I'm falling behind with the few online commitments I've made but it can't be helped. I have finished my January BJP and will post it later, when I feel better. I haven't posted the fabrics I've chosen for my tea towel challenge, mostly because I won't be using much more than two towels. Again, I'll post in more detail another time. For now let me just share how I've been coping with the headaches.

Those who have been with me for the last few years of this blog will know that once I learned about Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran's creation and use of a Parts Department for their collaborative quilts I have dedicated a drawer in my studio for my very own Parts Department. Cutting scraps into patches at the end of big quilt projects makes it possible for me to sit down and piece blocks without having to think much about what I'm doing. Perfect for those days when my brain is otherwise occupied, like with a migraine. Mostly I use them to make six inch Shoo-fly blocks:

Occasionally the scraps are better for a Bow Tie or Hole in the Barn Door block:

I generally stick to patches that can be used to make 3", 6", 9" or 12" blocks.

The other night I picked up Gwen Marston's Liberated Medallion Quilts again. Rereading parts of that inspired me to try adding another element to my own Parts Department, three inch (finished) hourglass units:

I've used them a few times before but had never really 'taken' to making them ahead of time. This time I realized that by cutting 4.25" squares from scraps I can make hourglass units that can easily be combined with six inch blocks. Or be made into 6" blocks themselves! Mostly I was thinking about using them as borders.

When I'm cutting my remnants and scraps into strips and patches for future use I've found 3.5" squares is about as big as I'm willing to cut (or their complementary half-square triangle patches). Sometimes I'll cut 4.5" squares when I can fussy cut an image or get enough to make the background of a 12" blocks. That's rare though. These 4.25" squares are turning out to be very effective for using up some of the larger scraps in a hurry and in a way that suits the way I work. One more tool for my toolbox. :- )