Sunday, March 23, 2014

From Where I Sit

This was the view from my chair in the studio today:

I brought a bunch of daffodils into the studio early last week and my Dear Husband brought the tulips to me yesterday. {happy sigh} Lovely.

I had the anniversary/tea towel challenge quilt out today to put some more beads in while DH was at church. I'm just filling the red areas with red seed beads at this point. I still don't know what I'm going to do with those hearts, if anything. I have decided that I'm willing to give him an unfinished quilt however. After all, I'm still waiting for the quilt rack I was promised from his hands a year ago last Christmas!

I made these four Scrappy Trip blocks for my Grandma's Crayon Box quilt this week:

This was the first block I made out of my yellows.

It didn't work for me for this project so it will go into the Parts Dept. for later use. I've also made some six inch blocks for the Parts Dept. out of scrap patches.

I've been wanting to give the Contrary Wife block a try. Here it is, on the top row, in six inch blocks out of scraps. I'm going to have to make more to really get a handle on how best to use the values in that pattern.

I also cut some larger patches and made 9" stars:

There are two Ohio Stars in the set and four Twin Stars. One of the Twin Stars was made out of my flying pig print from years ago:

I don't think this will go into my When Pigs Fly challenge quilt but it was fun to play with the print in a single block.

Let's see, what else? Oh, there's a friendship block for a guild member at the very top of my design wall.

The pattern I had was for the 6" flower. The friendship request was for a 9" block so I created a bud and added a strip of background at the top (which I seem to have cut off in the photograph!) and the additional foliage at the bottom.

All in all it was a pretty productive week!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Anniversary Quilt Progress

I've slowly been making progress on my Tea Towel Challenge quilt, which will double as an anniversary quilt celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. The first step was to cut off the calendar portion of the towel. If it had been from the year of our marriage I would have left it in place - or tried to anyway!

I was able to cut off the side hems but took out the top hem before trimming that edge to make it easier to get a straight cut.

The design I'd come up with for the rest of the quilt involved making some heart blocks. My first thought was to make a heart for each of our children. We have three, but not really one for each year of our marriage. More like all three in the first ten years! Which led me to consider where we were in each decade. The first ten years were spent in Texas...

I had to use two different prints to make this four inch heart.

In the next decade we moved up to the state of Washington, specifically the Skagit Valley. Unfortunately, this photograph is rather blurry. What it features in a small image of tulips and the words 'Skagit Valley' on the right half and 'Washington' on the left. These were cut from a print made for the Western Washington Shop Hop a few years ago. So glad I still had some!

We're still in the Skagit Valley so I was a little stumped as to what to do for the third decade. DH has been working in Seattle for about that amount of time (a 60 mile commute each way - yuck). In the same Shop Hop print I found an image of the Space Needle, not too far from DH's current office, and a mountain that could be Mt. Baker. It might have been meant to represent Mt. Rainier but I think it can work for either. DH loves Mt. Baker and gets to see it most every day on his way home. So there's the third heart!

I originally wanted to include this beautiful monogram from another towel in my quilt:

This was going to be the layout:

But it didn't look as good as I'd hoped it would. Nor could I figure out how to make it work. That's when I went back to my first idea and made a heart to represent each of our children.

I used the color of their birthstones to make my fabric selections. I'm still trying to figure out whether or how to embellish them. What I've done so far is to bead/quilt the background around the couple.

I'm using size 11 clear seed beads.

Before I started beading I put a layer of muslin on the back so I have a regular quilt sandwich of the top, Warm & Natural batting, and muslin. I'm using a double strand of Silamide thread. Here's a picture of the back of the quilt:

When all the bead work is done I will put a false back - something prettier - over the muslin and tack it in place discreetly before I bind the edges. The second layer of fabric will protect the beading thread and allows me to work more quickly and freely in this stage of the process. Now I just have to figure out what to use in and around the heart blocks... :- )

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dandelions, Butterflies, and Kite Tails

I've continued working on the new quilt top from the Parts Department. You might want to scroll down to see where we left off in the last post. I'll wait here while you do that...

:- )

To make it easier to build up the longer sides of the flimsy I turned it a quarter turn on the design wall. Then I pulled out some 12 inch blocks to see how they would look with what I'd done so far:

I probably could have made it work but I decided to try some other blocks first. The six inch Shoo-fly blocks didn't feel right. I'd pretty well used up my eight inch blocks. However, I did find some six inch butterfly blocks I'd forgotten I'd made!

It would have been a little too busy for my taste to have all butterflies down both sides. I considered making four patch blocks but just couldn't bring myself to do it. Eventually I tried the framed square blocks I make occasionally out of odd 3" patches and 1.5" strips.

Good enough! Once that border was in place I turned the top end-for-end so I could add the companion border on the opposite side. This involved pleating the top so it would fit on the design wall.

After those two borders were applied the top measured about 48" x 64." I was shooting for 60" x 72." What to do, what to do?

I could add up to six inches on two sides but only needed four inches or less on the other two sides. This had me stumped for a couple of days. I wanted a single print as the final border around the quilt top, just to hold things together. I was sort of stuck on the idea of pieced units for the wider borders. Once I got past that it became a simple matter of finding the right prints to use as whole cloth strips. The black and white wasn't quite what I had in mind but it worked better than anything else I tried.

The red print is from an old, old line called Petal Pets. This happens to be Dandelions.

Thus the official name for this flimsy: Dandelions, Butterflies, and Kite Tails! (The kite tails being the diagonal line of patches in the middle of the composition.)

Now I really have to get busy on my Tea Towel Challenge quilt. I only have a couple of weeks left!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Something From Almost Nothing!

Remember these?

Two 14" scrappy trip blocks I made out of strata I'd been given many years ago. After I showed them to you in a recent post I moved them around on the design wall a bit.

I left them this way overnight. The next morning I went through my Parts Dept. and dug out some blocks I might use to fill in that negative space on either side of the scrappy trip blocks.

I decided to use these leftovers from the black and white and green quilt I made last year.

I filled in the empty slots with scrap strips. This created a flimsy about 24" x 28" if I remember correctly. I wanted to build it up to make it easier to use my six inch parts for the next round of blocks. Inspired by the Contrary Wife quilt that Quilt Diva Julie recently finished I made up some 4" butterfly units. (That's what I'm calling them anyway!) I also had a few 4" crazy patch blocks that had been given to me years ago. I put them on the ends and filled in with the butterflies.

At this point I felt all that activity needed a calming influence. The top was crying out for some red so those were the stacks I searched through in my stash. Once that was in place I auditioned blocks again. These 8" blocks made the cut:

I didn't have all of these in the Parts Department already but I only had to make a few more. However, it took a while to find just the right thing to fill that whole on the left side in the picture above.

After a lot of rearranging I finally decided to just use a couple more of the butterfly units in a four patch block.

There's more to come but that will be another post for another day. ;- ) Right now I'm still trying to recover completely from my first ever trip to a Hobby Lobby store. One just opened up in our little town; I've been so excited about the additional inventory they would make available. The store itself wasn't as toxic as I feared it might be - at least at first. My reactions haven't been severe, thank Goodness, but my body seems to be slow to return to normal. The best part was that nearly everything I bought yesterday was on sale! I have a new needlepoint case to stitch on when my brain is not up to anything more demanding and some new charms to use in my bead journal projects. :-D