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.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Topping the top chart

When I was a pre-teen & young teenager, the local AM station (WHB, the World's Happiest Broadcasters, dial Seventy One-derful on the dial) put out a weekly list of the top 40 singles. 45 rpm singles, do you remember them? I used to get mine from a rack at the drug store that was next to the TG&Y that was next to the grocery store my family went to. They kept a pretty good selection of singles & there on the counter near the record rack would be that week's WHB Top 40 -- a list of songs with that week's ranking & where they had been the previous week. On the back would be the lyrics to one of the songs. And because you can find anything on the internet, this is what they looked like:

Anyway, what was my point? Oh! The tops I've been sewing up made me think of WHB's Top 40. (My mind works in mysterious ways.) Not quite 40, but my stack is growing.
And not just tops, backs too!

Monday, June 15, 2015

More rain

Crafturday dawned dark & dreary -- 100% chance of rain, flash flood warning, blah, blah, blah.

But it was a fine day to spend stitching.
I had the urge to add borders to the loud, medallion-y thing I started a while ago. The floral fabric is a satin weave & was starting to fray, so I wanted to get it sealed in a seam. Nothing really new here, I just sewed on some borders I had auditioned earlier.

I've got about 24 hummingbird stars made. I am following Missouri Star Quilt Company instructions for this block. It is like quite a few patterns & how-tos you see these days -- that is, it is unconcerned with having the fabric's bias on the edge of the block. I have to tell you, this is hard for me to do, goes against my grain, if you will. I think many who do this use lots of starch. I am reluctant to do this because starch is made of corn & bugs like corn. I have a constant battle with silverfish & I don't want to actually entice them with food. Anyway, you can see a bit of ruffling on the edge of the blocks, but I think (I hope) that will not be noticeable when I quilt it.

And in a jiff, half of this quilt is quilted. Not my best work, but fairly consistent overall.

It turned out that the weekend's weather was not as bad as it had been forecasted to be. I even got out both days for a walk.
But -- wait for it -- now we have our eyes on the Gulf because Tropical Storm Bill is out there.