Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bargello plan and sewing the strata

   I spent some time with EQ7 and developed a plan for the bargello.  The first row is  "half-drop" pattern and the second row is "pieced block  pattern", and the third returns to "half-drop" pattern.  So working from left to right, each row drops 1/2 from the previous row. 
   Then I played with the width sizes of each row.  One thing I discovered was to step away from the computer screen about 6 feet.  It made a big  difference in seeing the pattern.  I colored it in a couple of different ways---time consuming! One colorway has the wave coming from the top left, and the other has the wave moving up from the bottom.  I am still deciding which I will use.
  Sewing the strata:
 First make a swatch card, or some type of guide that shows your color plan layout.  I  can't stress this enough.  If you can't get to the linked card, email me and I will send you the pdf.  It is that important.
  Because some of my fabrics were from fat quarters, I go ahead and cut the full width of fabric cuts in half.  It is really easier to work with the shorter lengths, but you will have some waste.    I leave my palette pinned to the design wall and only remove 3 at a time.  It is over whelming to me to have 18 different fabrics on the table and keep them in the correct order.  Three at a time works for my old brain.  And if I am interrupted or take a break, three is not too confusing. 
  Sew the group of 3 together in order. ( I chain piece like I would when I make 9 patch units.)  Then set them aside, and remove the next 3 fabrics  and sew in order.  Repeat until you have all fabrics joined in groups.  Your table will look like this---that's why you need the swatch card as your guide.
Then join the groups of three together in order according to the swatch card.  And you will get a strata that is in order.  Press all seams away from the #1 fabric.  I press on the back first and then flip the strata over and press from the front, too.  I am notorious for tucks at the seam line, but I try to avoid them.
    At this point, most of my time has been spent picking fabrics and  planning the color placement.  Cutting takes maybe 30 minutes so far, and the sewing time is probably about an hour to make 3 sets of strips sewn into the strata.  Pretty quick, huh?  The second part goes quickly too, just more pressing that tends to slow you down.    
   One other tip or hint in deciding the color placement.  The fabrics placed  in  #1 through  about #5 will flow across the center the quilt only, while the other places will show up at the bottom and the top creating multiple waves.  That's why I wanted the very dark fabrics spread out and not together. 

I'll sew the rest of the stratas and be done for today.  Off for a couple of days, but next week I'll have something more to show.  Happy stitching.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

No match sewing

    I only had about 11 inches of width left over from
 the quilt strata.  But I sliced it up anyway.
    The strata is made up of 4" strips of fabric---sewn in the order you decided on.  Use a swatch card....very important to use and refer to.
 All seams are pressed in the same direction---towards the bottom.  Take care when pressing not to stretch or curve the seam line. 
Then the strata is sewn into a tube by sewing the last fabric to the first. 
 Then you slice up the strata tube into different widths. I will give you a general list of sizes later, but I will be  playing around with my own first.
For this example because it was so small, I cut 1", 1 1/2", and 2" strips.

This one is sewn together with the color moving upward instead of down.   No reason, I just thought I would see what happened. 
  What I wanted to show was how the pattern develops and that there are no matching seams on the rows.  Each row is cut from the fabric strata made with 4" strips that is sewn into a tube before cutting.  When the rows are joined, the fabric matches itself at the midpoint---not at the seam line.   Look at the brown.  Each row that was added moved up to the midpoint of the previous brown.  No seams to match! Yes, I like that very much, and that is why this technique goes so fast.   
The second thing to notice  is the width of each row is not the same.  The skinnier the cut, the faster the pattern moves (up or down).  The wider cuts slow it down.  Several narrow cuts sewn right together make the pattern move quickly, and produces lots of movement. 

     When I did my first one a few years ago , I followed the directions exactly by the book, and it was more linear, straight line.  I think there were 3 or 4 different width cuts for it and they were spread out across the quilt so that the color line was fairly even with only a slight wave.  I'm hoping to get a lot more movement in the color line with skinny strips grouped together---so it resembles a bargello.   More on that when I get there. 
   I've got all the fabrics cut into 4" strips.  Ready to sew my strata.  Happy stitching.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bargello style color plan

   The inflammation is better after a week off and  I am ready to go on the bargello quilt, using  a totally new color scheme.  I tried and tried to come up with enough fabrics for the original plan, but I just couldn't pull it together. So rather than go buy more fabric, hard to believe I said that, I switched to what I have lots of...........
Blues, purples, and a bit of teal.  This colorway is really more me, and will work well in the house too.
  This is the layout I plan to use.  And it is about the 10th variation I tried---it's not set in concrete till I start sewing!    Every time I walked into the sewing room, I switched something around.  First time, I had the  color run mixed and going from light to dark.  That appeared too jumpy for me.  I put in fabrics, took out fabrics, so  on and so on.  
  I finally decided to separate the colors, creating distinctly dark areas and light areas.  To make the run blend from one color to the next, I needed a "bridge fabric" at certain points.  A bridge fabric is one that has both colors in it.  The third fabric has both the teal green and purple in it---bridge fabric.  The fabric in the center with the bright gold has purple and a bluish tone that bridges to the leaf print  on blackish background. 

     This is the same photo only in black and can really see how the bridge fabrics blend well in value with those fabrics next to them.  Plus, I am happy with the dark areas and light areas.  I think it should give me the flow I am hoping to create with this bargello style.   
   Of course, I could be very wrong in is very hard to get your mind around the pattern until it is sewn.   The color bands hopefully will create a wave of color, getting thinner and then wider, as it moves up or down the quilt.   The cutting and sewing are the easiest part of this technique, and very much by the book. The book being, Quick Trip Quilts by Eleanor Burns.  Great photos and detailed instruction included, so I highly recommend this book to all.  It covers Trip around the World as well as the Quick Quarter Trip. 
  I'm going to cut and sew up the leftovers from Rhapsody in B to show how easy it is to put together...with out  worrying about matching seams. 
Happy stitching.

Friday, September 23, 2011

More color and a quilt tale

   How about creating a palette from your own photo?  Here's the place for that.  Upload your photo and click.  See your palette.  This is probably the closest to my usual method of working from a "kick off fabric".  I could just take a photo of the fabric and upload it to see what happens.
  Then over at Color Lovers you can explore color palettes submitted by others or create your own.    Who knew you had help at your finger tips?  Thanks to Lynne and Ann Marie for sending me these links....and keeping me up to date. 
   These sites are tools to help us as quilters work with color.  Unfortunately, they don't offer fabric swatches, only solid color chips.  If you are stuck on selecting a color scheme to work with, browse one of these sites for inspiration.   If you are not sure your color scheme works, browse for a color scheme that is similar and does work together.  That's why I say they are a tool, and not a solution to fabric choices.  Experiment with the color choices given by finding fabric in your stash that "reads" the same as the color chip offered.
   One more thing about my fabrics needed.  For a bargello style throw, I need at least 15 fabrics, and 18 would be better.  Some of fabrics I pulled out are not large pieces and I may not have enough of the fabric for the cuts I need.  So, I may need to repeat a couple of the fabrics to come up with the total.
     So how did I come up with 15 or 18?   I will be making 4" wide cuts for strips to sew together as my strata.  The strips will finish at 3 1/2".   15 strips will create a 52 1/2" long quilt, and 18 strips will create a quilt 63" long----before borders.  So the number of strips you begin with will determine the length of your bargello.  If you want a large quilt ---bed length---think 24 strips at least. 

 A Quilt Tale
   Have you ever notice how some things come back to you or return to their place of origin.....I call them  full circle events.   The beautiful hand quilting frame made by my FIL  in the early 90's has returned to its  rightful place.  It is being used at The History Museum in Fountain Inn, SC---which is where he lived before going into the nursing home.
   After much begging by me, Dad made the frame from a pattern kit I purchased.  I had it set up in our old house and quilted several quilts on it.  That was  before my fingers gave out and  I learned machine quilting.  When we moved, it was stored in our garage. 
    I had given the frame to Suzanne a while back, as she does beautiful, amazing, wonderful  hand quilting.  The frame deserved to be used.  I knew she would put it to good use.  Through the course of events,  she began helping and volunteering her talent and knowledge for the museum.
  The quilting frame is hidden by the wagon wheel quilt, which she made...but it is there.   I am so happy to see it set up and being used.  Suzanne--doing the quilting-- shared this photo  with me.  The quilt is being quilted by Suzanne and volunteers this weekend at the museum opening and will hang in the entry.    
     Moral of this quilt tale:   Like each small piece of a quilt, we are part of the circle of life.  Pay it forward; you never know how it will return to you.    Thank you, Dad, and thank you, Suzanne. 
Happy stitching.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Looking for a color palette?

   I still have that stack of fabrics sitting on my table that I pulled out last month.  I have played around with them in off moments trying to decide if I like the blend of colors.   My kick off fabric is the tomato red with the blue/teal  and tan leaves.

  I often use this method to choose a color scheme....find a focus fabric that I like and pull colors from it to expand the fabric palette.  It was the method taught in one of the first quilting classes I took years, and years ago.  The instructor said that the designer had already done the work for us in the fabric.  So if you like the fabric/color/pattern, you have your palette.    Sounds easy, right.....unless you are me and prefer the "kitchen sink" style of anything goes! 
  And then.........I ran across Design Seeds  through Madame Samm at Sew We Quilt.  And  I found these photos have very similar palettes that they developed.

   Color confidence!  Similar controlled palettes of color that evoke different moods and feelings.  I love the worn hues one.  There are lots of palettes based on food, flowers, pets, scenes.  Just name it.  Great inspiration.  For a quilter who needs color confidence or direction, this could be a great tool.
  So if I use this palette of fabrics for a many more do I need?  I need to let it brew a bit in my brain, while I give my hands a rest.  The arthritis flared big time this week with the change in the weather.  I'll just get the sewing room back in order and maybe plan a smaller project or two.
Happy stitching.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bargello done!

Calling this one Rhapsody in B.....for bargello, Brandi and Brent.  It's quite cloudy today, but the photos still turned out pretty good. 
 This photo shows the pattern is a bargello style variation of the quick quarter trip  that Eleanor Burns uses for her Trip Around the World.  You are working with rectangles rather than squares, and that translates to no exact matching seams!  Each row just drops 1/2 of the rectangle in the previous row.  The width cuts vary from 3 1/2" to 1 1/2".   I am doing another one of these very soon!   Stay tuned and I will blog the process.
  Overall size is 62" by 73".  I used 11 fabrics, repeating 4 of them, so that I had a strata of 14 bands.

Sir Old Man  was helping me decide on the borders.  I had the first narrow brown strip on already, but  had
a red strip next, and it just didn't work.  His suggestion of the gold was just right!
One other thing to note in this photo is the color placement.  I did repeat 4 of the fabrics in the overall fabric scheme.  When placing the fabrics in order for sewing, decide what fabrics you want to go across the quilt---like the main red, brown, and dark batik combo here.  Where you place them in the sewing order will determine whether they are in the center or mainly in the corners.  Originally  these 3 fabrics were in the lower left and I wanted them to carry across the center area.  I ended up adding rows to the left hand side to raise their position on the quilt.  This is probably clear as mud.....but it is important in the design. 

 I free motion quilted it with meandering loops in the center and swirls in the wide border---using gold thread.  Sorry, it's the best photo I got.   I didn't have isacord in gold, but I tried Poly X 40.  It worked well with no breaks, so now I have another option for quilting thread.   
  I am  ready for a break.....or a cup of coffee.....or maybe some chocolate reward!
   Happy stitching.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A collection of ...

Sewing items!  A few days ago Cheree shared her photos of silk threads in her sewing room.  She inspired me to shared my favorite sewing things.
I started accumulating these items a long time ago,
and even have a few from my grandmother's sewing box.  And this lovely old cabinet, was purchased about 10 years ago and is filled with my favorite things.  It is really too full, but here are a few peeks inside. 

I love the little Kewpie doll.  She has jointed arms and is "dressed" with a piece of old tatted lace.  All types of needles in packages with the neatest graphics.  Old thimbles with advertising on them mixed with crochet hooks and measuring tapes, and you can almost see my grandmother's darning egg in the right hand cubby. 

One of my favorite pieces is the high top shoe pin cushion.  It is paper mache and it really great shape.
I love the old advertising needle case packs, too.  Oh, and the teeny tiny thimbles that looks black  was my grandmother's, too.  Doreen sent me several of the items here, and some were family bits, and other things discovered  at yard sales and such.
  The overflow had to go into a smaller cabinet in my sewing room.  I love the spools of silk thread colorful and vibrant.

And what's this?
  One last thing is the small wooden box from my mother-in-law.  The top is so beautiful with the intricate design.  It is  marked W and W   Wheeler and Wilson Sewing Machines.  I have never researched the name, just enjoyed the design.  Inside......she had a very large collection of scissors.
 Note:  Correction made to name.....Thanks Mary,  for directing me to ebay.  It's the accessory box for the Wheeler Wilson Treadle machine! 
  I have stopped searching for old sewing items....guess you can see why.  But then, every so often, one comes my way.  So any one else out there with a notions collection?  
   Almost finished with quilting the bargello style quilt.  I'm so excited because it turned out great.  Pix soon.
Happy stitching.  

Friday, September 16, 2011


Welcome to this TGIFF party----for recent finishes.  Visit Quilt Matters for the other links for viewing other finishes.
  A journal cover is my quick finish for this week.  It began with a little bit of thread painting on scraps of sun painted fabric.   What  else can you do with a small piece that is about 4" by 5"?   I framed it  with fabric  using the sew and flip method to cover a piece of batting the size I needed.   A little quilting and then I completed the cover. 

   My summer quilting project was the florabunda blocks that Bonnie Hunter shared  at  The first blocks I completed were strong.  It was almost overpowering with that yellow.  But I was committed to finish it. 
Once it was completed and quilted.....ah, success.   The overall quilting soften all the strong colors and prints.  Everything seemed to work together.    Click here for  my  final post on Summer of Love.

There's a sew along starting soon for this. ---- just in case you would like to make your own version of the florabunda blocks, which are a variation of Jacob's Ladder.  Freda will be following Bonnie's tutorial, too. 
  My bargello gift quilt is ready for the final press and quilting!  I may have a finish next week too.
Thanks for visiting on the TGIFF.  Happy stitching.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quilt Tale

I ran across this quilt tale on Wendy's blog.  She has posted the link to the news article.
    After a tornado hit Southern Missouri in 2008, a store manager found a quilt behind his store the next morning.  He thought it could be cleaned and given to someone in need in the area.  As luck would have it, he contacted a lady who was involved in a quilting group at her church.  The lady began a year long search to discover the owner of the quilt.  She went so far as to send a photo to a magazine that published the story of the found quilt.  Then the story was published in a newspaper,  and someone recognized the quilt.  It took another week, due to an ice storm,  to make contact with the quilter.  It was a 3 hour drive to retrieve the quilt, which had been  in the family camper.  The tornado wrapped the camper around a tree and nothing much was left.  Except the quilt--- that was blown around to land miles and miles away.  Blessings to that dear quilter who knew the value of that hand made quilt, and what it meant to the lady who lost it.   she is once again wrapped in memories of her grandmother making her quilt.
      Moral to this quilt tale:   Label each quilt you make, or that you own.  Include your name, city and state.   A small thing as a label could make the difference if it becomes lost. 

I love this story.  Imagine how wonderful to have your grandmother's quilt returned like that.  Quilters are such wonderful people.   Got a quilt tale, or story.....I would love to post it.
Happy stitching.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Coming Friday....

   I'll show mine, if you show yours.  Your recent finish that is.  Quilts Matters is hosting the Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday linky show.  If you have  a  recent finish, she would  love for you to join up.  Details are posted, so check it out.
   I wanted to share a short version of a  true quilt tale that was shared at guild meeting on Monday.  
    A quilter was making a bargello quilt and ran into problems.  She contacted our mutual friend to help.  Friend goes to the rescue and the  bargello quilt is done.   The quilter had used so many different fabrics, that she had lots of  leftover strips.  The quilter decided to make a second bargello quilt---a smaller version---and donated it to her church to be auctioned in a fund raiser.  The mutual friend received a phone call on Monday after the auction.  How much was raised by the quilt?  $400---no.  $600---no.  Gasp, $1000----not even in the ball park.  The bargello quilt was sold for $10,000!   
                             Moral of this story.......leftovers equal  money.  Use them. 

  Don't you love this story?  If you have a quilt tale, send me the story, I would love to post it.
  OK, I got to get busy to finish the  bargello I have on the design wall.  Happy stitching.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Quarter Trip Bargello?

    This week hasn't been the most productive in any sense of the word.   I've had that scattered, unfocused feeling  which seems to just zap, sap,  and destroy all creative instinct.  I spun my wheels doing the mundane chores and such, and doing a little bread baking, and dishes to stash in the freezer for later.   The gift quilt was going no where....a few blocks turned out exactly like I felt.....blah.
    A five mile ride on the bike seemed to help....ease my achy joints and settle my focus.  Pulling fabrics  for a plan B gift quilt got underway.  I felt much better about this one.  Why?  The design is one I wanted to try and I love the strong contrast in the lines created. 
   A bargello type pattern created from the Quick Quarter Trip  pattern from Eleanor Burns.   The quarter trip refers to the Trip around the World pattern.  Imagine this is just one quarter section of the TAW.   I have about 6 more bands to add to complete this center.   I want the center band with reddish tones to extend from the top to the bottom.   The story is that Brandi bought a red tone sofa and Brent hates it.....I added enough  blues, gold and brown  to soften it and maybe please him. 
  I only came up with about 11 different fabrics for this (and I needed about 18),  so I repeated 4 of them.  The over all length is shorter than I wanted, but I will add bands of color ways across the top and bottom to lengthen it.   The photo does not do it justice....the waves of color look really good so far.  I played around with the width of the strata cuts---some wide, some narrow---and did not follow the pattern exactly.  But then, do I ever?   Not often.  I prefer to become one with what I create, to put a bit of  myself into each design. 
  I definitely want to do this one again....and maybe put together a tutorial on how to create this easy bargello.
  Insight:  repeat of what I've said before.....Do what you love
Happy stitching,

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Working at it

A whole lot of labor going on here....the commission work is finished.  All the batiks are cut for the gift quilt.  While Russ was watching the "Lizard Lick Towing" marathon---that show is over the top--- last night, I made a big dent in piecing the batiks for the Turning Twenty Again. 
  I even took some "me time"  today and did a little bit of thread painting.  The background fabric was a scrap piece from some fabric painting.  I was following a tutorial by Nancy Prince offered on AQS.  It is a free PDF.  This project is really small, only about 3" by 5", and done mainly with straight stitches.  I only used about half the number of colors of thread that she showed.  I used 3 greens, 2 browns, yellow, and red.  I think I will enlarge it a good bit and  try again.  This one will turn into a journal project. 
   There's a new Quilt Along starting soon....see the link and button on the right for the Jacob's Laddar QAL.  This is at your own pace, and Freda is using Bonnie Hunter's tutorial for the florabunda blocks.  So, if you wanted to create your own yellow wonderful quilt----or whatever wonderful color you prefer---visit her for all the details.  There's a flickr site set up for posting photos as you work along. 
Happy stitching.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Have you seen the rain?

  Just a little here so far, but enough to get the falls flowing again.  I love to watch the ripples created by the water flowing over the rocks and splashing on the lower pools.  Maybe I will hear a serenade by the frogs tonight.
   I had planned to work on the gift quilt today, but as usual  some interference.  I agreed to do some commission work about 6 weeks ago, thinking it would be easy to accomplish.   Delays and then a re-design and now it needs to be finished this week.  It is no longer a quilted project, but a construction one. 
Insight:  Learn this lesson....I do this for enjoyment and self expression.  I may sell something along the way, but that is not my main objective. 
  I prefer to be a droplet in the the flowing stream, ever expanding and moving.  Bring inspiration and create a ripple in the surface of what others see.
  I'm back to the old blogger....the new interface quit working today and I could not post.  Comfort zone!

  Now to work...happy stitching.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tried and True

 I thought I would try the new blogger interface today.  First impression is that everything loads so much faster, and most important...everything is still there!  It is easier to read the blog list, if and that's a big if, you can find it.  Figuring out the dashboard takes a while, but I think I will catch on to it eventually.
  Good news.... the Bonnie Hunter book I order for my quilt guild arrived today.  Guess I know what I will be reading tonight.
  Bad the vertigo I had earlier this year is back with a vengeance.  Ugh!
  I starting cutting fabric for a wedding gift today---the time slipped up on me and I only have a month to get it done.  I believe in tried and true when in a crunch.  So I am using the Turning Twenty Again pattern and doing it in batiks.  
  I don't use just fat quarters for this one.  I like to add in a few extra fabrics for variety....and use up a few scraps in the process.    So I use my cutting guide chart to list all the sizes to cut.  Then I can keep track of the number of pieces cut and know when to stop. 
  We are expecting rain...and lots of it tomorrow.  I am so glad because it will also cool off some.  Happy stitching.

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