Sunday, October 04, 2015

Collaborating with a friend

This was a new experience for me -- working with someone to make a quilt for someone else.

I think it was Wrongturn Rojas' idea to make something with Anna Maria Horner's feathers (very generously available for free on her web site) for our mutual friend. I said we could go through my batiks for some bright blues & greens suggesting macaw feathers. We got together one day to sew feathers. Because of the odd angles & shapes, the blocks were a little tricky to sew, but we soon had *almost* enough feathers for a quilt. Then we ran out of our background fabric! What to do?!?! How about adding & different background with some red feathers! Problem solved!

We texted back & forth one Saturday morning deciding on layout. Wrongturn assembled the blocks -- she did a BEAUTIFUL job, let me add (I would have been very casual about matching feather shafts & corner seams). We met at a fabric store & found the perfect fabric for a border & binding. Because she put it together so well, it was super easy for me to quilt -- my go-to wiggle stitch again. Back to Wrongturn for binding; back to me for washing & a photo session.

Voila! We are both very happy with our quilt & very eager to give it to our friend!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Siren's call

I've been spending quite a bit of time sitting at my sewing machine finishing up several quilts. When I am piecing, I can watch or listen to things, but quilting requires my full attention & silence. In the silence, I think -- life stuff, work stuff, what's for dinner & -- my beckoning stacks of fabric.

One beckoning stack of fabric resolved itself while I was quilting. Sailboats & sea-ish, marine-ish go-withs. The sailboats are mostly scraps from shirts I've made for Shug -- the shirts have all been various levels of, I won't say failure, maybe non-success?, all either too small or too short. Anyway, I had been thinking of another no-plan outing with free-cutting & free-piecing. But the shipshape nature of these prints seemed to want to be more ordered.

And because I had not lashed myself to the mast, I heeded their siren's call.
Why not add another plus quilt to my oeuvre!

And here is a question for you: you've heard the saying "art doesn't have to match your sofa"?
Well, does your quilt need to match your bedroom decor?
Shug's & my room has terracotta-colored walls. The furniture is a jumble of Mission-style & inherited family things all with a patina of cat damage. Will this quilt "go" with our room?
I would love to hear your thoughts!

Quilt of Shame

My brother & his wife were married 12 years ago. They married almost exactly 8 months after my brother's & my Dad died. My sister-in-law-to-be had already been a part of the family for a while then; she was there with us through Dad's diagnosis, treatment, death & had been a support to all of us. Their wedding felt like a family renewal, so I wanted to make something special for them.

A wedding ring quilt, right?!?

But a cheater sort of wedding ring -- the ring arcs appliqu├ęd on to squares. No problem! The finished top was gifted to them at their rehearsal dinner.

Then came twelve years of quilting.
Not literally, of course -- twelve years more-off-than-on quilting.

I am such a better &, more importantly, a smarter quilt maker now. I know my strengths & I know my weaknesses. This quilt was waaaay more quilt than I could handle back then. But as I got smarter in the following years, when I would pull this quilt out to work on, all I could see were its flaws.
Well, it is done now. It looks a bit dated (12 years, approximately). It will soon be with its rightful -- & patient -- owners.

Monday, August 31, 2015


My finished quilts kicked it up a notch -- from 1 to 7!

A mini & a lap-sized, made with on-hand parts were shipped to new owners before I made photos. Here's one in its new home.  A big quilty hug to you, Mrs. O'Quilts.

Besides the massive amount of quilting on the hummingbird stars, I also added some perle cotton ties. I mentioned before how the block edges are all on the bias & these edges are where the heavy quilting *isn't*. So to keep the quilt from looking like a Jonathan Adler vase, I tied the block corners.

The Pop Art nail polish bottles are done -- quick & cute.

And a jelly roll race -- not completely done, binding is on & hand-sewing is in progress.

In the not-ready-to-count-as-finished-but-nearly-so category are these: I got another 2 bands of Laura's Lightning quilted -- it's another with dense, time-taking quilting -- much more to go, so please stay tuned.

Then there is my Quilt of Shame -- a wedding present? -- 12 years late! UGH! I am hanging my head. My reason -- not my excuse! -- was that the quilt was at the edge of my abilities when I began it sooooo long ago. Materials & my equipment were different back then. The all-cotton batting helped reduce -- but not eliminate -- the number of tucks on the backside but also made the huge thing weigh a TON.  Free-motioning it on my dear Bernina was hard. The deeper throat-space on the Brother is making it much simpler. The "bride & groom" will get this quilt before the year is out!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Not all who wander are lost: continued


All are terms used to describe free-form quilt-making, unconcerned with patterns, straight lines, pointy points, matching seams. The processes are varied, the resulting quilts are non-standard. Julie Silber calls them "maverick". Roderick Kiracofe calls them "unconventional". I call them "the quilts that excite me & that I want to try to create myself".

As I explore this path, I will be referring to my process with liberated/pattern-free/wonky/intuitive/improvisational quilt-making as "no-plan" quilting.


Because I am a Planner. Graph paper, colored pencils & the Pythagorean Theorem are my good friends. I don't follow patterns, I draft up my own & follow my them pretty closely. I'm not a natural at no-plan patchwork. I have splashed in the shallow end & I think those efforts made some of my favorite quilts. So, it is time I flexed, stretched & developed my no-plan muscles. I've been pulling how-to books, watching Craftsy classes & reading tutorials. They provide paths to follow -- plans for no-plan piecing, if you will. But I'm beginning to think that the best source of inspiration is Inspiring Quilts -- antique, vintage & contemporary. Studying them has me ready to jump -- well, maybe maybe not a real jump, maybe more of a step, not into the deep end, more likely into the shallow end -- but ready to begin this.

But where to start!?! How to start!?! How about something simple first, a method I saw long ago, but have never tried. Simply stack several fabrics, cut through the stack, mix up the parts & reassemble. I picked a black & white plaid from a skirt, a vintage floral I got swapping with nifty quilts & a few others. And here I go!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Changing gears

The first 6 months of this year were my time for piecing. I put together 5 tops, 2 more are very near completion. Then there are the growing stacks of blocks -- disappearing 4-patches, pluses, geese, bow ties, HSTs & medallions at various stages of growth.

Now is my time for quilting. I recently basted 1 mini & 2 medium-sized quilts. The mini was done in about an hour, one of the medium-sized ones took half a day, the third one took some time -- the quilting was not complex but was pretty dense. All are done now, binding machine stitched on & ready for some quiet time hand-sewing them in place.

After that, I want to move to completion a few quilts that stalled mid-quilting: a jelly roll race that will be for donation, my Laura's Lightning -- do you remember that one!?! -- in spite of how much I love it, it somehow it fell off the rails. Then there is one that is so embarrassing that I may not even tell you about it -- an incredibly, shamefully late gift. After those are done, there is my scrappy Arkansas Crossroads! I'm nearly breaking out in hives I'm so eager to get to it!

But while I sit & quilt, I am thinking of new projects -- Anna Maria Horner's feathers, made with a friend for another friend; more nail polish bottles for a young woman turning 16; big chunks of my & Mom's dresses pinned to my design door.

Weather Report

Since the bucketing rainfall in May & early June, we have been under a high pressure system.
Our weather now has been a lesson in sultry conjugation.

It has been hot & humid.
It is hot & humid.
It will be hot & humid.

The forecast has been the same for weeks: highs in the upper 90s, lows in the upper 70s, light southwest winds; the only variations being a slight increase in both the high & low temps, some days partly cloudy rather than sunny, maybe a slight chance for rain, maybe an air quality alert or heat advisory. I go from home to car, car to work, work to grocery store, grocery store to home, only sweltering in the minutes it takes the AC to cool down.

And to top things off, I am on the downhill side of my SECOND cold in 6 weeks. (I was sick. It am sick. I hope I won't be sick much longer.)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

My fabric diet

I began this year with an oath with myself to attempt to buy less fabric. My rule was only solids, prints that are on sale -- specifically, less than $8 per yard -- & vintage fabric. I feel like I've been doing pretty well. I've stayed away from my favorite online stores & when I do visit, I only look at what is deeply discounted. I've also not been going to many local quilts shops or big box fabric stores.

As with my physical health & eating habits, I want modest fabric acquisition to become a way of life, not a strict, short-term program -- no fabric fasting, just manageable buying that I can comfortably live with.

But, like my wise friend, RachaelDaisy, says, "Moderation in all things, including moderation."

I've been to 2 quilts shows already this year: QuiltCon & the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival. Seeing quilts that get one's creative juices flowing, then visiting vendors' booths, with their arrays of fat quarters & half yard cuts -- Buy x, Get the x+1 Free! -- well, it's just too hard to pass up! At QuiltCon, my haul was pretty small. Vintage-looking colors & prints were speaking to me that day.

I did more damage at the KCRQF. That day, brown was calling to me, as well as birds & brights to go with them.

Then a trip to a favorite store, perhaps my favorite store in the whole world: Fabric Recycles. I can't explain it, but those 60s-70s era bright calicoes make me so very happy. So, again with the brown, then a large cut of cobalt blue with sweet, tiny posies. And to top things off, 2 baggies of these square-ish shapes. The semi-pinked edges make me wonder if they were remnants from a garment manufacturer. The previous owner had drawn squares on the backs of them all but had not done any cutting.

I wonder what she was going to do with them?
I wonder what I will do with them?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Unexcused absence

Where have I been?

No place exotic -- well, Kansas, which I like, but I would not call it "exotic". I went to visit my MIL. For fun, we went to the first ever Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival. Organized by 16 area quilt guilds, the KCRQF has been in the planning stages for at least 2 years. They put on a great show! A good do-able size -- not too big, not too small -- lots of great quilts, lots of vendors. MIL & I went together on Saturday & on Sunday, took our 13-year-old granddaughter/niece, our Next Generation Quilter! She was especially intrigued by the Bargello quilts.

Back at home, I rested from the 14-hour drive by catching up on work, housework, etc. Then, after a few days, I caught Shug's cold -- I coughed & snotted for about 2 weeks, very tedious & tiresome. I was itching to sew, but had no energy. Finally back in front of a sewing machine, I continue to plod away on the hummingbird stars. I like the block, but am not enjoying *making* the block -- it is fiddle-y & fussy -- so I'm going to make fewer than I had originally intended, then add big, wide borders. I've decided how I want to quilt it -- now I'm excited to get it done!

And geese, there always seem to be geese.