Thursday, March 29, 2012

I came up for air....

And found this waiting for me.
Sir Old Man did good.  No roses for this bride 37 years ago.   And I thought he did not remember.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Design wall time

  I got the blocks up on the design and realized in a very senior moment that I mis-counted.  I am 4 blocks short!   That's OK, I have lots more strips to work with.   So this is what I have so far.     The top and bottom will have a row of the extra pinwheels added to get the length I want for this one.
  Hand sewing is just not my thing any more.  So it took a couple of evenings to get the sleeves and labels on the wall hangings.  .
  I  also want to get a bed runner put together  for the  Free Motion Quilting Challenge.    I  wanted  a good  way to put a lot of different quilting motifs in one item.   And that means it needs to be fairly plain and simple for the stitching to show well.
  So off to the sewing room.....I may not come up for air till the 4 blocks are finished.
Happy stitching.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Festival of Scrappiness

   You know that when you open your scrap box /bin to make a scrap quilt that those pesky scraps are going to multiply, don't you?  It is the gotcha factor, so you can't make just one!  This coin quilt is a prime example. As long as the strip was 6 inches long, in it went.     This quilt was donated to my guild for the Habitat for Humanity  project.  We donate a quilt for each family member when they move into their new home.  It's a win-win deal.....we use up lots of scraps and the families love their quilts.  
But wait....what about the strip pieces that are only 5 inches long?  Too much to throw a smaller version became a doll quilt.  And I used this one as a practice piece for the Free Motion Quilting Challenge...lots of heart shaped leaves.   The doll quilt is for the Get Your Mrs. Claus On for 2011.  The Greenville Woodworkers Guild  make toys for area children's charities and organizations.  Last year all the girl's toys---beds, cradle, and strollers---had a doll quilt included.  It was a huge success and donations are coming in for 2012.  
     What about squares?  I have lots and lots of 2" squares because I do a lot of watercolor quilts too.  This is the latest one....from the square scrap bins.  This is Awakening II.   Note the border fabric....the same as used in the coin quilt and doll quilt.  Three yard of this "scrap" fabric was gifted to me, and I am doing all I can to use it up.

 So, I am re-showing the coin quilt because I am joining in the Festival of Scrappiness at Stitched in Color .  Lots of very neat quilts to view, and I do hope you will jump over and check them out.
Happy stitching.  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Awakening I

   I have been paying the price for working in the yard this week with the allergy pollen headaches,  achy joints,  stuffy head,  and itching eyes and ears.  I love the renewal of Spring but hate the side effects that I get.
   So I stayed in for a couple of days and worked on a couple of small wall hangings.    I was not sure I liked this until I got it quilted.  I decided I did like the strong contrast of the dark to light at the top and bottom.   This is done on the gridded interfacing using 2" squares.  It is about 17" by 25" and quilted with a large meandering stitch.  
 I still have to finish up the binding, but I think it is a keeper.  I am calling it Awakening I.    That means II is in the works......

   I spied a garden visitor yesterday.  I looked out the front door and saw this turtle making its way across the walk to the flower bed.  (Ignore my weeds, I haven't gotten to the front beds yet!)   I bet it is a she and is looking for a spot to dig a nest.  A couple of years ago we uncovered one on the side under some shrubs.   Such a neat pattern on the shell....could be interesting to do one in thread painting.
   I am still stitching on the star struck variation at night.  I have about 9 blocks completed and about 7 more in various stages of piecing.  And a whole stack of HST pieces to turn into pinwheels.   But I will tackle those later.
Happy stitching.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Early Spring morning

Nothing says Spring like tulips and daffodils. I wasn't quick enough  with the camera to catch the deer this morning, so I just enjoyed the sight of them running through the back yard.  They are probably looking for the hostas --which are just breaking through the mulch-- to munch on.   Of course the temperatures seem more like summer here, where it has been 85 degrees.  Should we be warned of what summer will bring?
  Simple kitchen towels are one of the quick projects I finished up.  The fabric is very cute and retro  from Micheal Miller.  It features decorated pyrex style cups and coffee pots and such.  I banded a couple of solid color  towels, and just stitched down a few motifs on the striped ones.  I think I need a couple of mug rugs to go  with them.
  Happy stitching.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stash reducing and a quilt tale

  I promise I have been busy....just little I can show right now.  My evening stitching has been on the big blocks I gave the formula for earlier.  The pattern is from Bonnie Hunter's article in Quiltmaker from 2009. (The article is now a dead link.) Her version was done in tropical colors.
Click here for an earlier post on this with pattern shown in EQ5.    I do think this one would be great in batiks or a planned color way. This  is a variation of her Star Struck block.  Bonnie gave me permission to share my changes to the measurements for the sizes.
  I have 4 blocks ready to sew together, and about a dozen of the pinwheels done.  I need more large squares to complete the other strip sets I have sewn.
  This is  my "kitchen sink" method for fabric selection .....anything goes. It's not really a scrap quilt----more a multi-print quilt---because I am stash reducing for this one.     I have fabrics that have been hanging around too long, as well as fabrics given to me in huge trash bags from someone's clean out.  I have been cutting  anything less than a fat quarter  into strips and squares. I need to make some room in the drawer bins as I can barely get them closed.  I probably will end up with 2 of these to keep and one to give.  And it looks like I will have enough leftover short pieces for a rail fence quilt too.
  Quilt tale.....of a sort.
 I had a touching email this morning.  Thank you, Cassie, for sharing this link.  Check out the story of   An amazing quilter  from Texas who is blind and sews like she doesn't know it.   Her spirit and attitude are the best tribute to a full and rewarding life.
Happy stitching.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

On the design wall

Here's what I am working on.....the block will finish up at 16".

Large blocks equal large quilt that goes together fast.  Just my style.
Happy stitching.

Friday, March 9, 2012

March FMQ Challenge

     Anyone practicing  free motion quilting for the challenge?   This month is really basic and good review.....meandering, loops, swirls.   Figuring out where to do what type of quilting is usually the biggest challenge.  Guess that is why a notebook of ideas is suggested this month.
   I pulled all those loose pages I had saved with quilting motifs from magazines and such and put them in one notebook. I was amazed at the number I have saved.   Now I have a great reference source.   So part one done.

  Now for the practice.  I decided to finish up the tissue box owls and experiment with different quilting.

Meandering....stippling is the very dense version.  Meandering  reminds me of arms, legs and noses!  This is what I generally use when I quilt a watercolor quilt, where the quilting is probably never going to be noticed because of all the floral prints.   On the WC quilts I do it medium to large style, very open and not dense.  When washed, this pattern has the look of a soft old-fashioned quilt.   Dense meandering or stippling will make the quilt a pancake, but it is great to make appliques stand out or those feathers from last month.

Loops....I like doing the curling loops.  This pattern reminds me of a lasso and the way it twists and curls back on itself.  When nothing else seems to interest me, I do lots of loops.   Or sometimes the loops are like a lot of "L" shape letters just strung together with meandering.   One great benefit of this pattern is that it can work in a good bit of  fullness---ahem, that's really excess fabric---especially in a border.

Swirls.....use them anywhere!   Open swirls in a larger style are my favorite pattern.  A great all over pattern that seems to soften and blend the entire quilt.   But I also find myself doing smaller, closer ones to create texture in open areas.

Packed tear drops.....create a really neat texture.  I just threw this one in because I like the look it creates.   Then I whipped out to the border and finished the whole thing off with the vines and leaves from January.
  Check out the other progress at SewCalGal blog for the free motion challenge.
  My design wall  is empty!  How did that happen?  Time to cut fabric and get something going.  I think I am going to work on another Bonnie Hunter pattern, the variation of her star struck.
Happy stitching.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


   Family weekend  was fun, even if we were inside due to the wet weather.  I  remember playing hide and seek, when we were small.  So the young ones entertained themselves with a game for a while.   We might not have found Remy, if it were not for that foot.....
He is just the perfect size to slip under the quilts on the quilt ladder.


I wasn't able to decide on which of the Pat Sloan patterns to use for the sewing machine I used parts of my favorite two.

Of course, I could not resist the cardinals.  This pair had to be on one side.   I love the patterns....big pieces for a change.  Not those half inch bits that get lost before I can fuse them.  Second good thing is a full size layout  that is included.

Here's a better photo of the quilting.
 I mixed up the quilting stitches by using close swirls and stacked teardrops on this side.

The other half of the cover is done with the pair of purple cone flowers.  I used mainly meandering loops---have to get back in practice---and a few leaves thrown in.  

The cover is really just a rectangle with straps ( hook and loop tape)  on  the side  to hold it in place.  With that high bar thread guide, I had to figure out a way to avoid it, and this works fine.  And I get two "views" this way.
Happy stitching.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Thank you, Mrs. Claus .....

   I haven't updated on the doll quilts for Get Your Mrs. Claus On lately.  The collage shows just a few of the precious quilts from the HGTV Message Board group of quilters that have really taken the plunge to support this project.  Nicki is the driving force behind this out pouring of help over there in cyberspace.  She is collecting the quilts and faithfully gets the photos to me for the Flickr page ---- to share what is coming in.   A huge...very huge...undertaking.  Big smile and applause for that.   I would be so lost with out all of your help.
  If you need inspiration, check out the flickr page because there you can see a  string quilt, ticker tape quilt,  applique quilt,  9-patch quilts, strippy quilts, embroidered quilts, and even hand quilted ones.  And each and every one of them made with love from one of the many "Mrs. Claus"  quilters from around the country.
   I heard that the woodworker elves began working in the toy shop last month.....they have a whole lot of catching up to do!  I hope to slip over there and sneak a few photos of their progress soon.  I was able to meet and talk with the decorative artist  who added the very special details to so many toys last year.  She is overseeing the painting of the toys this year as well.
  And I need to also thank Susan, a local Mrs. Claus  and quilter, who donated a huge-- big ---bag of batting pieces she had leftover for the doll quilts.  Thanks, Susan, I have finished 7 doll quilts so far with the batting pieces.
   That's what the project is all about...paying it forward as quilters---- giving and sharing their time, talent, and resources to fill the sugar plum dreams of little girls.  Thank you, Mrs. Claus,  where ever you are.  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Botanical fabric and fmq

  I love botanical fabric.  I'm not sure when or where I picked this one up.  I recently uncovered it in the stash closet.  Rather than cut it up....I just turned it into a couple of everyday placemats...and practiced a little free motion quilting.
   March's FMQ Challenge is with Ann Fahl.  She suggests making lots of placemats and table runners for practice and to develop some good basics like meandering loops and swirls and flowers.  Her suggestion of a notebook with drawings and etc. for fmq is one I began about a year ago.  I need to get it up to date, so that will be part of my challenge this month.
  Family arrives tonight, and we are doing a cookout tomorrow.  Of course with the weather as it is, we will probably be that called a cook-in?
Happy stitching.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Color talk

    Love color?  Yes!  Always know the perfect color or fabric to pick?  Uh, no.  Have sweat trickling down your neck, or sweaty palms selecting fabric for your next project?  Yep, there I am.
  I'm Debbie from Stitchin' Therapy and I do love color.  When I began quilting, I had absolutely no idea how to choose colors or fabrics for a quilt.  In my first class I was told to use a light, a dark, and a bright.   I never finished that quilt, I wonder why?  Today I  mainly do multi-print, multi-color quilts---scrap quilts and water color quilts--- because the colors make my spirit soar.
   Color is what I notice first about a fabric.  It will draw me in and influences how I react to a quilt made with it.   So before your eyes glaze over and you think "Here comes the color wheel talk, and all those words like complementary and analogous,"  relax!  I'm going to share a simple technique I learned from an artist turned quilter.   The class I took from her was not about technique or sewing. It was about selecting fabrics and colors.  I consider it my secret weapon to creating wonderful, colorful quilts.
  Here's a quilt in which I used  this technique for selecting  the fabrics.   I used 18 fabrics for this bargello quilt, but it all started with one fabric that  I loved.  I  followed the steps below to pick the other 17 fabrics.

Steps to selecting fabrics/colors
   It's a simple idea based on letting the fabric and designers do the work for you.   Find a focus fabric you love that has 2 or 3 colors in it.  The seventh fabric from the left was my focus fabric.....shades of purple to plum with blues and greens.  There's my palette!

  Now select  other fabrics that "play well and are friendly" with the focus fabric.
  •   Select a second fabric based on your favorite color in the focus fabric.  The color doesn't have to be an exact match.  My second choice is right next to it at position #6.
  •   Select a third fabric based on another color in the focus fabric.   My third choice ended up in position #10.  Notice anything?  My selections were a light, a bright, and a dark fabric scheme.
  •   Select a "friend fabric" for the second and third fabrics you chose.  Make it a shade lighter or darker for depth and variety.  
  •   And so on....Try to select fabrics that vary in scale (size of print), and value.  Tonal type prints are great "friend" fabrics.
  •   Finally, stand back about 6 to 8 feet from your selections.  Does anything jump out and not fit?  Replace it.  Look at the ninth fabric.....does it seem too dark?  Yes, probably, but the plum color was so striking with the other fabrics that I left it in to spice things up.  Rules can be broken!
  •   Is the collection of fabric all the same value and seem boring?   Note---Value refers to the lightness or darkness of the color you see.  The overall value of the fabric is as important as the color.  Using a palette of all medium value fabrics will appear flat and boring.  Adding a dark and a lighter value will greatly enhance your quilt.   If you are not sure of the value, take a photo, look at it on the computer.  Squint at it, or take off your glasses like me, and get it out of focus to see the value rather than the pattern and color.  Change it to a black and white photo, and you can easily judge the value.  It is so worth the effort to do this.  
  This is the same photo as the above palette converted to black and white.  I wanted to be sure the darkest values were scattered throughout my palette and not all in a clump.   Don't be afraid of using a dark fabric.  The dark values create depth and let the light and medium value fabrics shine.  

Selecting the dozen different batiks for this one was done in the same way.  

This smaller photo below of the first blocks made  gives you a closer look at the fabrics chosen.  Can you pick out the focus fabric that I used for the palette selection?  
Did you pick the fabric in the bottom left corner?  That was it....a beautiful collection of colors in it to chose from.  Using the focus fabric made it easy!

   Are you a traditional quilter?   In Summer of Love I used 20 different floral fabrics for the very traditional Jacob Ladder blocks. The bold yellow  is predominant, and required a careful selection of other fabrics to be successful.  I began with one floral featuring  lots of colors--including yellow.  Each of the remaining floral fabrics were selected because they picked up a color from the focus floral.  Some were on  dark backgrounds, and others were on  lighter backgrounds, and  2 had very blue tone backgrounds.  And in the end, all of them blended and worked well together.
   Show no fear when selecting fabrics for your next project.  Conquer your  fear about mixing colors and fabrics.  You have been empowered with the secret weapon for fabric selection.... Let the designer and fabric do the work for you.  And now,  you also have a great reason for building your stash.
  Thanks so much,  Madame Samm for letting me share my thoughts on color and how to make it work for us all.
Wishing you all a color filled day and happy stitching.
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