Sunday, July 31, 2011

Quilt therapy

Talking to my Mom can be surreal.
I phoned her recently. She knows that I will be coming to visit in a few weeks and will be there on her birthday. She asked when is her birthday. I told her and she asked, "Isn't that the same?" "The same as what?",  I replied. "The same as my birthday."
Well, yes, yes it is.
When dealing with a loved one with dementia, you have to keep your sense of humor, it helps to keep your heart from breaking.

I have been really missing my Mom lately, so I wanted to start on a project using the shirts that I showed you a while ago. Before I started on them I got the binding on the little opal quilt; I hope to have it done by next weekend. I started to sash the square plates but ran into a problem because my plates aren't the same size (grrr). So I see some seam ripping in my future. Thanks to everyone for your help with the sashing problem. I look forward to showing you the dark, solid olive-y green that I am using; I think it was the perfect choice.

I had been thinking that my next project would be with a stack of fabrics from my stash, making something like this quilt I love from the Scott Heffley collection. (If you don't have Bold Improvisation, I highly recommend it.) But I wanted to start cutting on the shirts. I have been *anguishing* about what to do with them. I thought it should be simple, maybe Rail Fence, maybe Roman Road. A cross block, a string block? So I finally had to get a bit stern with myself -- THIS ISN'T ROCKET SCIENCE NOR IS IT BRAIN SURGERY! IT IS JUST A QUILT! MAKE IT!!!

next project

So I went with one of the designs I had sketched early on -- sort of a crooked Roman Road. I pulled some solids to go with the shirts; they make me think of the multi-colored pants that my Mom used to get to go with her colorful shirts. It is a bit emotional working with these fabrics but I think I am going to love this.

 shirts & slacks

I also have a stack of her dresses (have I mentioned that my parents never got rid of ANYTHING?) that look as though they were always meant to be together. With these, I am thinking of doing something with squares, rectangles and quarter- and half-square triangles that will (I hope) give the look of houses.


Friday, July 22, 2011

I LOVE these quilts!

I haven't done an I LOVE this quilt! post for a long time, so I thought I would look at 3 quilts today.

These 3 belong to 3 different flickr friends, all have flickr names that honor their dogs, past and present. I will look at their quilts alphabetically -- by the dogs' names!

The first one was made by Rosie at the boris daily. It doesn't have a name yet, in fact it isn't actually a finished quilt yet. But I have loved this from when it was just parts! The pattern is Gypsy Kisses by Material Obsession. But Rosie has taken their bright, cheery quilt and interpreted it with Denyse Schmidt's Greenfield Hill and turned it both Gothic and  whimsical -- if film director Tim Burton ever decided to make a quilt, this is the quilt he would make! It is mostly a single fabric line quilt, but there are touches of other fabrics that add sparkle. I am eager to see how she quilts this beauty.

A challenge.

The second quilt was made by Gretchen at bigredoscardog. She has made chunky, improvisational log cabins using three colorways of a single print plus solids. Most of the solids are obvious choices, coordinating with the prints, but there are some surprises here -- like, where did those oranges come from!? But I am so glad they are there! I like how she sometimes seems to start to build a log cabin, then it sort of disappears into the background. And the background -- love that peanut-buttery brown. It is quilted simply and looks like a quilt I would like wrapped around me on a chilly winter night.

Front view

Lastly, let me share with you John's Birthday Quilt, made by Lisa at Shiner's view. This is another improv log cabin quilt. These cabins are drawn with a finer brush and done in olives, aquas, blues and just a spot of yellow. Primarily stripes and solids, the crisply pieced blocks make for a tailored-look. This is another quilt where the blocks sometimes blend into the background, in fact sometimes there is *just* background. But this quilter isn't afraid of all that white space, she is a master at meander quilting.

John's Birthday Quilt

Three different quilts, I LOVE them all!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ta Done!

Constellation Wonkulae!

constellation wonkulae

So many things about this quilt were outside of my comfort zone: all that white, the liberated piecing, the quilting. But I LOVE how everything came together. Let me be quiet, step back and let you decide what you think. Be honest, I need constructive criticism.

One thing I want to point out is the binding. A while back, my Mother-in-law asked me what size strips I used for binding. I've used 2.5 inch strips *forever*. She told me she had learned from one of her quilt shops that the trend was to smaller bindings. So I have been experimenting with 2.25 inch strips for large quilts and 2 inch strips for small, doll-size quilts. I love the look of these narrower bindings! Well, for this quilt, I wanted have a few bands of color in the binding and wanted to use some of the left over sashing strips. They were 2 inches. So, 2 inch binding it was. I like the piping-like look of it.

quilting & skinny binding

And on a separate note, it POURED today!!!
In Houston, we are used to rain--lots and lots of rain. Rain so hard and heavy that you can watch the rain gauge rise. But not this year. The official, normal rainfall is over 26 inches; we've had less than 10 inches. Yesterday, there was a light, all-day drizzle. You could practically hear the grass and plants slurping it in. I had to take a photo of this downpour, it was lovely to see.


Monday, July 18, 2011

So much FUN

I saw the directions for making faux tie-dye using Sharpie markers and rubbing alcohol on Susie Can Stitch. They were so pretty and looked like fun to make that I gathered my supplies and gave it a go. (I think I might use them with log cabin blocks or as wonky star centers.) My Sharpie supply was not the best, but still I managed to fill a morning with making these little squares.

 groovy faux tie dye

I had to stop because my inner six-year-old girl and my inner aging hippie were beginning to fuss over whose turn it was ("it's my turn" "nuh-uh, you went last"). Or maybe it was the fumes from the Sharpies and the alcohol.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Be careful what you look for

It isn't as bad as it was, but the closet in my sewing room has certain Pandora's box-like properties.

Recently, I was looking for something, I don't remember what (nor do I remember if I found it), when I unearthed several long-forgotten UFOs. Ancient UFOs.

This first one dates back to when I first was getting interested in quilting -- more than twenty years ago! I was always fond of vintage and ethnic clothing, so when I first started quilting I was intrigued by Seminole patchwork. I loved the tiny, intricate motifs that were achieved through fairly simple methods. My first attempts at Seminole patchwork were done with scissors not a rotary cutter (!). This is when I bought my first really good sewing tool: my Gingher shears. But soon I learned of the rotary cutter and cutting mat and off I went on an experiment with tiny strip piecing. I planned to make a skirt, I have yards of pink, white & black baby rickrack to go with it. But as I am now too old and too fat to wear a skirt like this, I think I will make a long, narrow wall hanging with it. It really reminds of my roots and how I came to patchwork and quilting -- too valuable to not finish.

UFO one

Another piece I found is not quite as old, but only by about 5 or so years. I began this one back in the days when I was working at a quilt shop. This was when Mary Engelbreit was really popular, though the design was not hers but taken from a vintage embroidery that has hung on my walls for decades. It is stiff with the fusible webbing I used (I hope the newer versions are not so stiff) and stalled out when it got to border and details that required hand work. I planned another border with a scrolling vine with leaves and lots of yo-yos and buttons as details around the house. I still think it is cute and that it has possibilities.

UFO two

little houses

The last piece is not so old -- only about 5 or 6 years. I don't remember what prompted this one, other than using the vintage fabric that is the vase that holds the flowers. While patchwork and piecing are my natural home, I sometimes venture into applique and was experimenting with a folk art style. With this one, rather than a fusible web, I used a fusible interfacing on the applique pieces, then loosely zig-zagged them onto the background. I always thought this would fit nicely on the guest room door. Perhaps I should try to finish it.

UFO three

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Story of Wonk

When I made my very first wonky stars, I went to the source: Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking. For the liberated/wonky star points, her directions say to cut squares larger than your base, then cut the squares diagonally and stitch onto the base fabric. But I planned to use plaids for the star points and being the anal, control-freak that I am, I didn't want the plaids to be going every which way. So rather than cut squares, I cut strips and sewed the star points diagonally onto the base fabric along the outside edge of the strip so that the plaid was parallel to the seam.


I kind of liked this method because it let me go really crazy with the points -- some are slender, some are big & chunky, some are more triangular. So when I began my own project with wonky stars this was the way I built them.

weird wonky I

weird wonky II

I am now quilting my Constellation Wonkulae. I am trying to be more free with my machine quilting, trying something I haven't done before (thanks Bobbidink!). I had to hold my breath and close my eyes as I started quilting through(!) my pieced blocks but I have to tell you that I am loving how it is turning out! I am almost half-way done. I'll show you the back, but save the front for a big reveal!

basting al fresco

space warp quilting

P.S. There is glitter EVERYWHERE.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Off topic

I know this blog is supposed to be about quilts and quilting, but I have to share this.

Shug has seriously been doing woodworking for a long time now. There is not a room in our house without some custom & hand-crafted thing: clocks, boxes, bookcases, tables, stools, shelves. He is very handy to have around!
He has been talking about turning wood for a year or more and last May found a great deal on a used lathe -- which has sat in the garage ever since because he didn't have the proper voltage or wattage or whatever to plug it in. Well, this week he had the electrician out and was finally able to plug in the lathe. There were 2 rather crude first tries, but his third attempt was pretty darn good.

1st bowl

Yay Shug!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Happy Fourth! (4 days late)

Shug and I had a really nice & busy Fourth of July weekend. His Mom and niece came to visit and we had a great time showing them a great time.
My Mother-in-law is terrific. She has been a great help to me this past year as I deal with my Mom's dementia. Best of all, we share a passion for quilting -- though our styles are very different. So I always enjoy seeing her. Our niece is 9 years old & this was her first visit to see us. We swam and played games and made pizza and watched movies. The Sunday of their visit was Crafterday. With Uncle Shug, Miss E. did some woodworking and built a box. With Aunt Smazoochie, she did some sewing and made a pillow case (with Brownie fabric!) The 4th is a big day at our sail club: the kids built little sailboats out of dowels and tongue depressors; there was an egg toss (Miss E. and I were out pretty quickly because I have such bad aim); there was a watermelon race where about 12 watermelons were put out in the Bay and everyone had to sail out to find them and bring them back to shore (we saw 2, but we weren't able to get them onto the boat (it is harder than you might think)); there was a cookout -- hamburgers and hot dogs of course; and finally, FIREWORKS!
If you ever have the chance to see fireworks on the water, go see them! They are beautiful!!

craft day-wood working

craft day-sewing



Friday, July 01, 2011

I can't get rid of it!!!

I am nearly ready to sandwich my wonky stars and begin experimenting with a new way of quilting.
Because there is so much white in this quilt, I didn't do as I often do and just go through my stash and use any old thing that I have enough of for the back. I was afraid that any--even the least amount--of print would show through to the front. So I went out and bought something. Because of the stellar-ness of the top, I chose a solid white with an overall, silvery, glittery shimmer. Very pretty.
Today I pre-washed the yardage, tossing it in the light-colored, gentle wash load.
And there was glitter all over EVERYTHING!
It made me think of the one-liner from comedian, Demetri Martin: Glitter is the herpes of craft supplies.