Saturday, March 29, 2008

Laboring at the Sewing Machine

Six years ago today I was blissfully sitting on a birthing ball, happily and anxiously awaiting the birth of my first child. He was born late at night on the 29th after what was really a very short 6-7 hour labor. I had planned to take the day off from sewing today and take the little monster out to the sledding hill and to McD's for lunch (get that cheese burger fix), but his father really wanted to take him skiing for the 1st time instead. So, somewhat sadly I allowed him to go. All the while, all I could really do is think how much I worked 6 years ago today, and I ought to be the one taking him off somewhere! But, it has left me with at nice 2 hour window to sew while my other monsters (oops, I mean monkeys) napped.

I did start on the back ground of one of the swap quilts today. I have once again dug into my large blue stash. I'm not much of a blue user, so it feels good to rid the stash of some of this. I ordered a fair bit of fabric this week (I know, shame on ME!!) - it is from Ebay and is largely Kaffe Fasset, which I LOVE!! I also did a little shopping at Borders this morning, picking up one of the Civil War Quilt Diary books. I don't really like Civil War prints much, but I do like the book and the patterns, perhaps done with a more modern approach.

More pictures of Lucky & other projects soon (hubby took the camera skiing!)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Lucky gets a Snack

One of the comments I got yesterday was that a turtle ought to have some water lillies & dragonflies. Now I'm no water lily expert, but I can handle a few dragonflies. I auditioned this perfect dragonfly fabric I had, but decided it did not work in so well. So...I got creative with my permanent fine-tip sharpie pens, which by the way are worth their weight in GOLD. I have bought the $3 a piece fabric pens and they don't write a clean line w/o bleeding. These are 28 pens for $12 at Sams.
Here's the purple turtle, Lucky in his water home (not yet sewn down). There are just a few sea-weeds and fun circular bobbles in some of my favorite batik scraps. I rarely do a satin-stitch applique because it looks so amateurish and tends to buckle and not lay flat. But Lucky needed this to designate the lines on his shell. There was no way I was going to stitch all of those pieces on separately. The other items on the quilt are needle-turn appliqued down.
And here is one of the dragon-flies I drew.

stay tuned...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Another Possible Quilt Swap

For those of you that may be interested in another swap, Toni the Quilting Pirate is contemplating starting one. Go to her blog if you are interested.
Here's the sign up blog!

Meet Lucky

Here's Lucky. He's a turtle and he is just dying to be made into a quilt.

Actually, I began by first making some "ocean" from my many blue choices of fabric. My blue stash is enormous because I made this a couple years ago. It was only after the ocean was created that I dreamed up that a turtle would look cute there, so I sat down with my pencil & paper and sketched Lucky. This will likely be a swap quilt. Ocean creatures are sort of personal. Some people like tropical fish, others like dolphins or sea horses. I don't particularly love any all that much, but I thought that the turtle might have wider appeal. He's going to be a purple turtle too...rather whimsical.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The ideas are a Brewing

So now I need to design and make a mini-quilt for the Doll Quilt Swap, and there's only a month to do it in. I tend to work my best in the "near term", and am most inspired for fast paced projects. This is just my style.

I came across this website of mini quilts today and I love them. They are awesome! I know I cannot make something quite like these, but I plan to adapt the concepts somewhat.

I have pulled out many of my blue scraps and I am assembling a quilt background that I hope to look like ocean. From there, I'm not entirely certain what will be on it. Possibly fish, possibly sea-greens...the details will be determined in the future.

Doll Quilt Swap 3

I know you are all loyal fans & participants of my 4-Seasons quilt swaps and the Spring Fling Round Robin, but I stumbled across this today. The Doll Quilt people have launched the 3rd session of this swap. It's faster paced, and there do appear to be a few open slots.

BTW...I just found out that I am in !! I was #50 though, so the swap is closed. Hope I didn't get your hopes up too high. Now I am off to brainstorming what technique or pattern I want to try. This swap won't necessarily pair us up based on any preference so I just have to hope for the best. It's a different feeling being on the other side of the "swap-fense"!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Jury's out on the Disappearing Nine-Patch

Ever since I saw this quilt, I have been mildly intrigued with the disappearing 9-patch pattern. Initially I couldn't see why someone would make a block, only to hack it into 4 pieces. But I decided I'd make a little project to kill three birds with one stone. Not 2 stones, three!

First, this project is to keep me from hitting the bottle of red wine this afternoon. I'm not a winer (as opposed to a whiner, which I know plenty about), and I never drink without dinner consumption. But I have been having lots of problems with my almost 6-year old's behavior and today was an all time low. I work 3 mornings a week. He is home with our awesome nanny 2 of those days. She says that he practically waits until he sees me drive off before he starts his antics. We have spoken to him repeatedly, given reasonable timeouts, even made him write "I will listen to Jen" 20 times. It is just not getting through to him. He's enticing his three and a half year old brother to be a mis-behaven brat too. I got home today to a list of a dozen things they did from spitting to taking off their clothes to absolute rudeness. The prize was his room, which they refused to clean - ALL toys everywhere, books & clothes strewn about and about 7000 tiny plastic fuse beads on the floor. I nearly died. I promptly had my 3 year old help me clean all the toys into a big laundry basket and I have removed them from his room for several days. He can get the beads himself! The bedroom is now purgatory for him. Long story...I needed some sewing therapy!

Second and third reasons for this project are shorter & simpler. I wanted to see this pattern in action & I wanted to try another project using what I think are very cool fabrics, but just not in my comfort zone of colors. This is me taking a leap of faith outside of my box, so to speak.

So I made these 5-8" blocks, constructed of nine 3" squares. They are mostly in shades of aqua, turquoise and accents of brown and green. I'm not much of a blue person. And now that it is complete, I am not so sure about the orange either.

OK, step two...hack the 5 blocks into 20 blocks.

And lastly, 20 blocks together and add a 3/4" border of the blue. I plan to add a wide (maybe 4") ivory border around the entire piece. I will also use this as another vehicle to work on my free-motion/machine quilting.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Classical or Rock-n-Roll?

I started this last year, and dug it out a month ago to actually sew the appliques. I have played guitar as a child and as an adult, as has my husband. Unfortunately, I ditched it back in grade school for the flute, which I played regularly until a few years ago. We both have acoustic guitars. In fact, he bought me one for Christmas our first Christmas together (I was taking lessons then). I don't play often anymore, and even when I was taking lessons, I was nowhere as good as I was when I was 10. The mind of a child is so absorptive! Last year we bought our oldest (almost 6) a kid's acoustic guitar, as he was really into guitars then (making them from blocks, sticks, etc - anything). If he continues his love of guitars, this may be his one day.

Finally Up on the Walls

Here's the Strips-n-Curves quilt I made last winter, and finished quilting this past fall. I just love the way the colors move. Plus it coordinated with my living room so well, I hung it downstairs. BTW...we have 2 deep purple chairs in the room to pull out the plum shades of the quilt.
A close up to show the hand quilting (and the residual chalk pencil marks!...)
I love the batik dots that I found in my stast to use in this project.
Here's the Fall quilt I gor from Luisa, although I mistakenly hung it upside down! That's part of our newly painted hallway.
And the other hall wall shows the spring quilt I made and the Winter quilt I received from Maria. I have more of the upstairs awaiting the swap quilts from the Spring session of the 4-Seasons Quilt Swap and the Spring Fling Round Robin, and the others I have started and vowed to finish before I die!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

For your Amusement

Here's a recent posting I made. It's good for a little Easter amusement...or perhaps a lot!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Love is In the Air

Here's a little mini quilt I started last week. It will be about 20"x20" and is for a very special person (who will remain anonymous in case she is reading this). I found this pattern in my new quilt book - Quilt Pink. The border is a gorgeous Robert Kauffman, Fusions. The photograph does the fabric no justice whatsoever. I plan to practice my machine quilting a bit more here. There's no joy in hand quilting with all these seams!

My Yo-yo's & Sneak Peek

So here are my yo-yo's. It took me 5 attempts to get three of them that are approximately the same size. They are not perfect, but I hope the recipient of this is not a yo-yo perfectioniste! They do complete the tea-leaf flowers nicely.

This may be the last sneak peek I post of my spring quilt until it is received by it's new owner. The mere thought of packaging this up for the mailman makes me sad. I absolutely love it, and know I will probably never make one just like it for myself. It is 95% done by hand. I only used my machine to sew the 16 tea-leaf blocks together and to stitch on the binding. The leaves are and tree and top portion of the quilt are all hand appliqued. The quilting is all done by hand in shades of lavendar and green. I hope my partner loves it. Except for a label and a few small details, it is completed. I can't say the same for the other 3 projects I started last week!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Yo-Yo flower Centers

Yo-yo's make the most fun little 3-D centers for flowers. I am using these on my Spring quilt (picture coming soon). The fabulous Tami used them on her origami flowers. She has taken the time to send me this tutorial. It's got great instructions.
This is compliments of Tami...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wild & Whacky

It is definitely "Out There!"

This border is bold and expressive, and I hope (fingers crossed) that the next recipient is able to do an effective 2nd border that the final recipient of the quilt will like.

Here's the block with border on 3 sides:

And here is the block with all four sides of the border completed. I am very pleased with how the curves pieced together and the row of diamonds in the turquoise. I did initially think that would be a nightmare, but also fully believed that it would be a key to pulling off this concept of a design. I plan to go back and take out one piece of the brown squares and try to better match the squares (see lower left corner of block). The fact that the 2 pieces of patterned brown do not match on the pattern drives me crazy!...I am pleased with the colors. Sometimes the softer green I am less sure of, but that is life. I found a small piece of the pale aqua that Carol used in my stash to utilize in my border to make it more cohesive. Also, I wonder if the dark brown inner border that I added might have been better done in a softer color?...

Should I put another narrow border around the entire block, or leave that for the next person?

Any suggestions for what fabric to send with the block to the next quilter to use on the 2nd border??

BTW - I have loved and appreciated all of the comments that people have left as I started on this wild & whacky border, so now that I am finished, what do you think?

I am torn. I have seen people's comments on what fabric they think I should forward to the next person. The orange is good. The deep green is good. My inclination is the brown with squares. Why? It carries forward a key design element and a color that is in the center of the block. The person doing the next border can always coordinate a shade of orange. I don't know; this inclination may change before I actually mail the block!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rounding the Curves to Somewhere

My block arrived yesterday from Carol, along with the deep turquoise fabric shown at the top left. The turquoise is nice and has a marbled effect with little speckes of gold. I immediately went through the pieces of fabric I'd bought on Sunday, locating those that coordinated best. I find that her block style is hard for me to design an effective border for. I want it to look good, but don't want to make a ton of those corner-stones on point in order for it to look cohesive.

I have decided to stick with the design I sketched and showed last post. The colors are a tad different though - less blue & more green. Here are 2 sides of the block's border. Two more to go this weekend...(after I get through a busy school week).

Thoughts??! ...and you won't hurt my feelings :-) Is it too bizzarre? too retro & funky? Would you croak if this quilt came in your mail??

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sneak Peek

I saw on the Spring Fling Round Robin blog this morning that Carol has sent her 8" block. What is not known by anybody but me, the swap coordinator, is that this block is coming my way, hopefully tomorrow or Tuesday. This was exciting and scarry all at the same time. You see, this blog is very different from what I make in many ways. It is a heavily geometric pattern. Not that I shy away from the more geometric quilts, but this is even "edgier" (for a lack of better words) than what I do. It is also made of colors I usually avoid: Brown & Blue. I was so hoping to see red or purple or green; I have shelves of these colors and a great propensity towards them. But turquiose & brown??? I have only shards of scraps in these colors, and Lord only knows how old thay are. Oh boy, I have a job ahead of me!

So, the hubby and boys took off for a hockey game this afternoon, accidentally awakening the little princess as they departed. So...I took advantage of the easy shopping window and took off to Joann's. I'd much rather go to a more chic quilt shoppe, but what's a gal to do on a Sunday? I swore not to increase my fabric stash this year, but OMG, they actually had some very nice and NEW fabrics. I might grow to like turquoise & brown, eventually. Take a look...

There's 16 small (4-6") pieces of different fabrics, totalling 2-1/2 yards. I am pretty sure that the turquoise on the bottom left stack is the one Carol used in her block. What I do not know is what fabric she is forwarding to me.

After looking at the block Carol is sending, I sat down to design an unconventional 2.5" border. My goals were: broaden the depth of the colors (more tones within the given tones that she used), soften the colors (I find the stark difference in the turquoise & brown to be harsh), and soften the design while utilizing & coordinating my style with that of the block. Here is what I drew up...keep in mind that the colors I colored on the sketch are totally up in the air still too. It is remainiscent of Georgia O'Keefe. I wish I could quilt this one; I have shuch great ideas.

This is more like the "Dorky Homemade Look"...

...and she is more like taking rags to riches.

This reminds me of something our grandmothers might have made from decades of worn out, outgrown clothes. It's not lovely, but there is officially less ugly in my sewing stash, and that alone makes this a good thing. Plus it gives me something to practice my machine quilting on. I have found that the busier patterns are more forgiving to my bad quilting!

Here's the finished flimsy at 40"x48". I can't say I am over-the-top thrilled with it, but that's life. Next time I think I would stay in a couple of color families rather than the entire rainbow, and keep the lights lighter, and darks darker.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Or perhaps this ought to read : "The Bad, the Ugly and the Uglier"

Lisa has shown us that we can basically take rags & make riches. Take your ugly leftover scraps in any and every color and piece them together into the most lovely scrap quilt. This is the Jacob's Ladder pattern, which is very simple and works well for those pesky leftovers.

I, like so many other quilters, have TONS of scraps. Many were given to me from other quilters so you know that they are the least wanted pieces of ugly material around. I have taken the challenge to see if I can create something equally as pretty. OK, I'll just settle for nice & usable. This will likely be a Project Linus giveaway this year. Lisa's is (in her defense) done in mostly shades of pink, blue & green, whereas my quilt uses all colors.

Here's what I did...

- cut LOTS of 2.5" strips of whatever length you have of all colors
- separate into light and dark, pairing a light with a dark
- sew strips together, press, and rotary cut to 2.5" x 4.5" light-dark pieces
- randomly piece 2 light-dark rectangles together to get 4.5" 4-patch squares of light & dark (piece A) - need 60 of these for my quilt

- cut 4.875" squares - need 30 light and 30 dark
- pair one light and dark together, mark diagonal line, and sew 0.25" on either side of line. This makes 2 half-square triangles that are light-dark. Cut on line and press. Piece B - There need to be 60 of these (should be 4.5" half-squares)

- Piece parts A & B into 4-patch squares. There will be 30 of these.
- Pray that it looks good now...
dontcha just love my assortment of UGLY fabrics?? I have everything from apples to batiks to stripes and dots and checks, to hearts, flowers, ocean squid and my personal favorite, the cow! Hopefully this quilt will in fact weed out some of my uglier scraps.

Monday, March 03, 2008

A new book & a flood of old Memories

I am usually not a big purchaser of quilt books. I like to think that I will get inspiration for quilts on my own. I occasionally have watched quilting shows, and take notes on the patterns I like. I also surf the internet, looking for patterns and designs I like. I have a couple of books I love to read and re-read (quilt books made after the Quiltmaker's Gift children's books). These are devine! Today I ordered a new one that I hope I like.
Mostly I think I was drawn to this because it reminds me of her. Teresa was one of my very best friends in high school. She was brave and spirited, and was a ton of fun. And I miss her a lot. Two years ago, at the age of 39, she died of bone cancer. The breast cancer she was diagnosed with in 2002, and allegedly cured of a year later had metasticized to the bone. Her last 6 month fight was sad, rough and very public. She had a blog that she updated regularly, until she was too sick to do it, and her husband did it. This is a nasty disease that I wish onto nobody. Perhaps the book will provide more than just some good quilt designs. Hope for many...

More Spring 4-Seasons Sneak-Peeks

Did I mention that the quilt has just a little embroidery?...

That picture is a touch washed out by the flash. But what says "spring" better than a few hyacinths and a nest of robin's eggs?

Oh, and you got a sneak-peek at the cute swirls embroidered on the tree's branches...oops!


This quilt is now with my machine quilter!...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Spring is nowhere in Sight outside

Yea...It's Saturday & I don't have to juggle working, mommy, 3 kids AND snowblowing 10" of snow. I don't care if he is sick; this is MAN's work! ...and the neighborhood had plenty of working men yesterday.

Despite how it looked outside, in between an unusually heavy working period with my 2 classes (Statics & Dynamics- do I hear an "Ew..."?), I have been making headway on my 4-Seasons Quilt Swap mini quilt. It's actually further along than this; I'm building the suspense.

I love how it is turning out. It will definitely be the hardest of the 3 I have done to give away. It is 100% done by hand, needle-turn applique. So far I have put about 30 hours into it. I ordered some lavendar and pale green quilt thread because I think I'll be close to ready to hand quilt next week. I sure wish there was somewhere around here that sold colored hand quilting thread in more than 3 colors. So who's this for, you wonder??? You'll have to wait and see. As head swap Mama, I am omnipotent. I can select the fates of all quilters.... (do you smell the witch's brew cooking...he he). Naw...I chose a partner for myself that is a creative, talented and spirited quilter. That describes too many of you, I know. She is whimsical, yet still somewhat traditional. She is mindful of small details. She puts good thought into her sewing, and wanted a partner that would do the same. I still sounds like most of you. If you want more, you'll have to wait a while...

So is the burning question in your minds, "Where's she gonna use those tea leaf blocks?"... wait and see (grin).