Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The final string....

    It's been slow going for the last few days.  Sir Old Man unfortunately shared  his cold with me........:(    Our first real cold weather and I am down with a real cold.  I promise not to share my sneezes and coughs with you.
     I used whatever was in the leftover bag of binding pieces I have stashed under the table.  The obvious choice was to use black, but I only found two short pieces of black in the bag.  This is suppose to be stash busting, so I used whatever I found that worked with the colors of the blocks.


  For the quilting......straight stitching right down the center of black strips.  It served to anchor each block so I could play with various stitches in each different block.    I changed thread color too, for each block!   A good medium meandering stitch turned out to be the best fill stitch in the main blocks.    With so many different fabrics in each block, nothing much is going to show.

 On the half blocks along the sides, I used straight line quilting and it looks the very best.  

  Faceted  Jewels....full of color and vibrancy. 
    I will add a word of caution to those of you are doing a string quilt for the first time....this thing is heavy!  I forgot how much extra weight would come from all those seam allowances as well as the foundation fabric.   Just plan accordingly.   The size of this one is 56" by 72".
     Time for more hot tea.  Avoid the tricks, enjoy the treats and happy stitching.  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Quilting up a storm

'Frankenstorm': Worse than sum of its nasty parts

I'm sorry....I did not mean to cause a storm when I pinned those quilts!!!
But I have been doing some quilting.  I'm on the second one and when I showed Sir Old Man the pattern of stitches, he thought my quilting looked like the "perfect storm" that is traveling up the East Coast!    

Want to see.....   I am using the feathered swirl on this quilt.    LOL....I do think he is right!   The swirl is the eye of the storm and the feathered plumes are the storm bands.  Think I should rename this motif?
I am using a gray color of Isacord thread.   

  Not a great shot, but you can get an idea  of the size of motif I am stitching.  I did not want dense quilting on this as it is a gift.   The quilt pattern is a Turning Twenty Again done in batiks.  The blue square is 4"....I think.  The pin is a good reference too for the size.  
  If you are in the storm's path, stay safe.  Me...oh, I'll be strapped down safely at the machine.
Happy stitching.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

It's the Bloggers' Quilt Festival for fall

Welcome to the Bloggers' Quilt Festival....Thank you Amy for hosting this event.  

I Saw A Moose
     I Saw A Moose  is also called my AK quilt around here.  After a family trip to Alaska in 2009,  I wanted to capture the sights and experiences of our adventure.  I was working my way through the Art Quilt Workbook at the time and many of the techniques I learned were worked into this quilt.

    The first block I started  lead me onto a path of self discovery.  I wanted to include the state flower, Fireweed.  I had lots of photos but no pattern.   Through trial and error, I discovered I could draw my own patterns.  It opened up the world of options for this quilt.   I was experimenting with  curved piecing  and used  it for the background on this block and the for the moose.

     The moose.....If you happen to be in Anchorage, look for the corner building with the purple moose painted on it, there is a great bakery inside!  My son in law made frequent stops for their lemon pie.  But actually the name for the quilt came from my daughter's remark.... "I saw a moose!".   she was doing a happy dance and so excited to see one in real life.

   All the applique was done by machine with a bit of extra thread stitching for some the birch tree details and the chinking between the logs on the Chapel  on the Hill block.
  The borders were inspired by a favorite technique of mine, the blended braid.  I love to do watercolor quilts, and the blending of the braid strips are just a natural progression for me.

     My favorite block..... probably the glacier block.  This was the view from the cabin where we stayed. Imagine seeing this from your back door each day.
It was so amazing to watch the sunrise, and  see the colors of the mountains  come alive in the distance.

   Techniques used:  machine applique, thread painting, curved piecing, blending.
   Size:   41" by 62"
   Best category:  Applique quilt or wall hanging
   Quilted by me on my domestic machine.

Thanks for visiting and enjoy the rest of the  festival.  

Happy stitching.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Two smalls done

    We are having a little bit of an Indian Summer right now.  It was beautiful today, so some yard work beckoned.  Don't worry, I only acted as supervisor this time.  

    Remember the sample block from the demo on the one seam flying geese?  I added another 2  rows  of squares to make it longer and a border strip on the sides.......a quick doll quilt.  

 The rest of the sample blocks are on the design wall.  I  added strips of extra pinwheels and just need to add a border to finish this one.  I plan on donating this to our guild for the quilts we give to Habitat for Humanity for new home owners.

   And guess who dropped by for a early Christmas visit to see the latest doll quilt?
  I was going to wait to share this, but it turned out so stinking cute!
   Rudy just wanted to say......happy stitching.

Monday, October 22, 2012

This and that

      It seems we are all frugal.    Lots of great ideas were shared on using up the trimmings from projects......even if you don't like to dust---who does---a handful of tiny bits of fabric and batting can help rid the TV screen of dust....from Dana at Stormy Days .  Makes it "all the better to see you with"!
    Need to make a small practice sandwich.....from Janet at Rogue Quilter .  Cover the backing with pieces   of batting matching the edges.  Add the front piece, press  and stitch away.  Fast and easy, I like that.
   And you know I save and use it all.  Tote bags, mug rugs, doll quilts, and just about any small project.  I usually join the edges with the largest zig-zag stitch....but I am inspired to try Janet's quick technique for practice pieces.  Thanks.

    It's coming....this week from Amy's Creative Side.   It's the fall edition of the Blogger's Quilt Festival.
Be sure to check out her post and the information on the categories she has set up.  Lots of great prizes again.  Don't miss out.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Doing the string thing

   I promised a tutorial for the string blocks and I had second thoughts.....why try to improve on my original source.    The very best place for a tutorial on string quilts is at the Scrap Queen site of Quiltville .  Bonnie includes details and lots of photos of the sew and flip method for covering your foundation fabric.  So click on over there for the best information on the basic technique and a few setting ideas.  You can print out her info and have a great reference.
    If you prefer to use paper as a foundation that is fine.....just a couple of cautions.  Be sure to use a smaller stitch length.  When the paper is removed, the stitches often pull out on the edges.   You should also spray  starch your block before removing the paper to help stabilize it.....all the edges are bias.

   Decide on the size block you want to use.  I used  8" but it is your choice.  I don't think I would go smaller than 6", but I think a 10 inch one would be great to work with.

 For creating your layout plan, you will need to print out (or draw your own) this photo and color it in.  The diagonal through each block should be consistent, as it is your frame around each color.
   Note:   I ended up adding an additional row of blocks on the left side and bottom to increase the size.  It is so easy to do that with this pattern.

    Here's a quick recap of the steps I used.

 Step 1:  Mark your foundation block with the 2 colors.  I used a regular pencil for this.  It is going to be covered anyway.
   Step 2:  Place a 2 inch strip on the diagonal between the 2 marked sides.  This is your frame around the blocks.
   Step 3:  Begin in the center and sew and flip strips in the color family to cover the foundation.  (Refer to Quiltville tutorial!)  Be sure to extend strips beyond the foundation.   Press each strip as added.
  Step 4:  Repeat for the opposite side.
  Step 5:  Trim and square up your block.

     I found it less confusing to work with  blocks of one color family at a time.  I worked in groups of 3 or 4 blocks at a time---doing all reds, or greens, etc.  I had a stack of half covered foundations for a while.  Then I began working on the opposite side in the same way.  I found I could cover 3 or 4 blocks in about 30 to 45 minutes this way.  I tend to sew in short allotments of time between other things, so this worked for me.
     I pinned 5 projects over the weekend.....quilts and wall hangings.  And I discovered where a lot of  those strings come from......I had a huge pile of strings from trimming the backings!    Need strings, then make quilts!  Happy stitching.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

October Bonus for the Free Motion Challenge

    The October Bonus by Diane Loomis  for the Free Motion Challenge is on her  trapunto technique.  Be sure to visit her site.....she does wonderful work.
I have done a similar technique before, but thought I would give this a try anyway.  Diane  provides a pattern for a small flower and a feather border.  I nixed the feather border for me, as it was so small.  The flower I thought would work on a doll quilt.  So gather the needed supplies and off I went.
   I decided to do a small practice flower on white muslin first.  This is the first layer of poly/cotton batting stitched with wash away thread on the muslin.    I cut away all the excess batting and then made a regular sandwich of backing and backing for the final stitching.

    I used a light blue isacord thread for the final stitching .  I did 3  echoing lines around the motif and then stippled the rest.    The stippling took forever.....but the results were great.  I trimmed it to 4" by 6" and plan to finish off the edges with a satin stitch.   A perfect little piece to enjoy.  
  Then  for the doll quilt.....I had pieced together some large squares from the stash and used them to border a wider purple strip.  I actually stitched on 2 flowers in the center purple strip.  I just used echoing lines to fill in the rest of the purple.   I am not as crazy about the echo lines.  I think I much prefer the stipple....yet for a doll quilt, it works.  
        The colors are truer in this photo, and the relief from the stitching shows well.  This is a great technique to experiment with and I bet feathers would be fabulous using it.  So maybe another time, I will try that.  For now, I am quite happy with this little one.
      Stitching this motif was easy and hard.  The easy was doing a better job staying on the marked lines.  Practice does help after all.  The hard....there is a lot of back tracking to get in all the details, or you have to break thread and move to another area.  I tried both ways.  Back tracking is still difficult, but I am noticing some improvement.   I give the lesson 5 stars....lots of details and good information shared.
   Don't let this bonus material get by you.  Be sure to check it out.
Happy stitching.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Early deliveries

    The Pesky Elf from the Greenville Woodworkers Guild  asked for 25 more doll quilts to go with the beds, and cradles he was ready to deliver.  The elves are working hard and those toys take up a lot of space to store, so early deliveries are the solution.  It is such a joy and pleasure to re-visit each doll quilt as I count out the needed quilts.  The colors are bright and cheerful, the prints are a delight, but it is the time and generosity of Mrs. Clauses around the globe that is so touching to me.  I whisper a blessing over each one for the maker and receiver.   To date, 85 doll quilts have been delivered to 3 different  organizations  for this Christmas.
    And no sooner were these out the door, and 2 more arrived!

   Filled with bright and colorful triangles, these 2 quilts are from Mrs. Claus in Illinois.  We know her as Exuberant Color .  Thank you, Wanda, for helping and infusing this project with your special touch.

Once again......
  Thanks to all the Mrs. Clauses.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ready to quilt

   Strings and more strings.....I added another 14 blocks.    Only 2 more rows to join today and it will be ready to quilt.    So before I go there, I thought  I would show some close up photos  that really show the fabrics I used for this one.  Very few water color type floral fabrics here, yet a lot of tonal prints, dots, and such.
Even a couple of ugly fabrics were hidden in there.

    First step in the colorful strings quilt----  Divide up those strings......into color families.  The background color often determines which family the fabric goes into.  Some fabrics can even play in a couple of families.  For those, I try to place according to my first impression, or first glance.     
  Width of strings varied from 1 inch to 2 inches, in general.  I think a few 2 1/2" ones slipped into the mix.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Photos for today

     First up....from Mrs. Claus in Arkansas.  Four adorable doll quilts arrived this week from NICUnurse of the HGTV Message board.  Thank you so much, as these 4 are beautiful.
The colors are perfect for this time of year too....and love those flying geese. And so will some little girl this Christmas.
   I have completely lost count of doll quilts that arrived from the HGTV group....but it is huge and so very much appreciated.  Thank you all.

And from the pumpkin patch......
  Remy was out selecting the perfect one it seems.  Who knew they had pumpkin patches in Florida?

And before I leave, don't forget the Foto Finish at Cat Patches  ;).  Check out the pix there.

  There is barely a hint of color on the trees here so far.  Instead I am sharing my favorite fall quilt full of scattered leaves, called Autumn's Carpet.  I  gathered various leaves from our yard and my daughter's yard a few years ago.  They became the patterns  for the leaves I appliqued on to this batik quilt.

  Enjoy your weekend...and happy stitching.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October Free Motion Quilting Challenge

   Doodle time.....Teri Lucas is the challenege expert this month at SewCalGal .  We had to do a paper doodle, beginning with our name and outlining, and then fill in the area.  I did the paper doodle, and moved on to fabric....experimenting with different colors and threads as she suggested.  I did not have silk fabric to experiment with, but did try some silk thread for part of this.
  The silk, for the name and outline, is very nice to stitch with.  I do not care for heavier threads--quilting weight 30 or 40--- the green thread on the left area.  It lays on top of the fabric almost and requires a slower speed for stitching.   Slower speed  leads to less than nice stitches.  It is not for me.
 I still dislike doing geometric type stitching.  'nuf said on that.

   But what I liked about this lesson was the last part that Teri shared.

   You can see part of her tutorial on the right in this photo.  She showed conch shells made from swirls!   I began doodling and drawing to understand how these babies developed.  By the fourth one I kind of had it figured out.....but my pebbles just look like a funny string of beads.
   The swirl needs to spiral in at least twice to get the shell look.  That seemed to be the key for me.  Then it is lots of close lines that connect to two parts of the spiral together.

    First attempt in fabric is not bad....I needed another round to the swirl I think.  I got to the end and got a little bit lost and was not sure where to go.    The fabric I used was a cotton sateen and the thread was isacord for the light grey.

  I switched to aurifil thread in the gold and practiced  the feathered swirls to finish off this  piece. This lesson  came together  for me when I added a few plumes off the side of the conch shell!  I really like the effect.

  Somethings you need to experiment with, play around, see what you like, etc.  We all know this, but do we take the time and make the effort to experiment.  I admit that I don't.  Yet I am really glad I did this time!
  If you haven't done the challenge yet,  click here  to give it a try.

  The sewing room looks like a hurricane came through!  Strings run amok.  Tiny pieces litter the floor like the leaves that are begining to fall.  And a pile of blocks to be trimmed show I have made progress.  I look forward to getting somewhere on this one.....soon.
Happy stitching.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Show time part 3

Part 3......again the photos are mine and the quilts are made by others.

  Wonderful scrappy star quilt.  I really like this one.

Sometimes the story behind the quilt makes it all the more special.  I think that is the case won Best of Show as well as the Senior Choice.  Suzanne is our resident historical quilter.  She inherited the seven sister blocks and pattern and extra fabric  from her  great great aunt.  She finished piecing the blocks and set them together.  Her SIL did the hand quilting on this gem of a generational quilt.  The colors are still so vibrant.  A great quilt with a lot of heart.


Pat Sloan was here in the Spring and did a couple of workshops for the guild.  I found it very interesting to compare the same pattern made by 2 different people and the different effect of the fabric choices.

Suzanne did blue and green.

   Gina chose to us orange and purple color scheme.
Same pattern, just a different effect.
 Both are beautiful, both are made by friends....and I like both quilts, so don't ask me to choose just one.

From the Wild and Free workshop with Pat Sloan.
  Same pattern by 2 different people.  Striking in the different effect of choices.


   Color choices make a big difference in the impact final discovery.....a string quilt like the one I am working on.  What's the difference?  Dee used white for the diagonal on each block.  I love it too.
   Keep this one in mind....there's a string tutorial or sew along coming up here soon.  Let me know if you are interested.

     But the show was not complete until I did a test drive.......this brought out the green envy (not $) in me.  I was filled with greed / need/ desire/ lust / selfish indulgence!!!!!  Got the idea.  What a stitching pleasure, complete with 16" of throat space and its own table.  It's the new Babylock quilting machine.  Big sigh.  Alas, I will probably only get to stitch on it when I demo or teach free motion quilting at Marietta's.   Yes, not often, but she has need of an instructor to fill in requests to learn fmq.  So that my new venture to come.
   Thanks for viewing and happy stitching.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Show time Part 2

  Part 2.......assorted entries.  Please note that the photos and comments are mine, and the quilts  are not.

  The simplicity of this small bed quilt was so lovely.   Edna's applique stitches were absolutely invisible on the snowflakes.  She also hand quilted  matching snowflakes in the border.

This is entirely embroidered by Pat's MIL, who is 87.  I thought it was amazing, and loved that she created a  family heirloom quilt from the blocks. 

  A stunning sampler and well deserved ribbon for hand quilting.  Dee did a fabulous selecting fabrics too.

A small landscape and I love the border and frame she used to give it a complete finish.  It is like peeking through a window.

Another ribbon for Suzanne for her triangle challenge entry.  Just beautiful.

 And guess what I spied?  A large wallhanging  using the one seam flying geese method.  This was large enough for holding Christmas cards.  

   The colors on this were just  beautiful.  Betty embellished the peacock feathers on her triangle challenge entry.  Outstanding.

One of my favorite quilting friends created this one.  The original 12 blocks were from 1995.  And it has been growing since then!  I talked to Jean about it and  heard how she just kept adding sections and borders trying to get it to a rectangular size.  All the vines and leaves were added late in the development to fill in all the black space.

  I must have taken a dozen photos of this one just to capture the style and details she used in the applique.  I thought it was delightful and whimsical and a real Black Beauty.  The border blocks reminded me of the French Roses technique.  And the vines and leaves were so playful and free....each leaf was different.  
    I feel an applique attack coming on.  Think this one was very inspiring for me.
I still have a couple more to show and I will save those for tomorrow.  Till then, happy stitching.

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