Friday, December 31, 2010

Realistic Goals

I'd like to start 2011 by setting realistic goals.
1.  Annoy Ethne by spending a whole day doing really fast appliqe.
2. Make Lynne snort tea out her nose, laughing about something I posted.
3. Redesign some aspect of every project, because I screwed up on something.

Feel free to add to my list by leaving a suggestion in the comments.

Heron Body

I love applique that is fast!  2 episodes of Bones and 1 of the Mentalist and the heron body and neck were done.  Should have the legs done and the face started by lunch time.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Goals

It looks like it's that time of year where it's time to reflect and set goals for next year.
  Most of my quilting time this year has gone into the Joseph's Coat.  It took 9 months to hand applique 637 petals & join the sections.  I'm 4 months into the hand quilting and am almost 50% done.

I have updated my Finished Project page an am feeling really good about my progress in 2010.  3 queen size quilts, 3 lap quilts and 5 pillows makes for a good year's progress.  That's not even counting all my distractions like the cat applique skirt, the hexi-caddy, etc.

I also cleared out all but 1 UFO from my stash by finishing most, giving away one, and turning another into a WIP.

My WIP list, however is quite long.  I've updated that page as well. There are only 10. 3 are complex machine piecing, 3 hand piecing, 3 applique and 1 quilting.  OK, so the 9 pieced and appliqued ones will need to be quilted too....

And then there's all those projects I have waiting in the wings...A strip pieced Ponderosa Pine.  A crazy pieced "Carol's Crazy About Autumn".  "Modern Hunter" based on Freemont Indian Petroglyphs.  A dragonfly applique for which I have both the pattern and the fabrics.  A Plains Indian quilt (yet to be designed) for Chris & Monte.  A 20 panel applique quilt in the style of the Civil War Bride quilt.

Did I mention that I also have 2 large tubs of clothing fabric that wants to end up in my closet as jeans, pants, winter skirts & summer dresses.  I wish that my seamstress skills were even 1/2 that of my quilt/applique skills.  Oh...and I made the mistake of stopping by a yarn shop yesterday seeking ideas to use my fantastic Christmas gift yarn.  Now I want to learn to knit so I can make socks.  And something fantastic from the baby  alpaca yarn.
I better get off the computer and start sewing.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Heron Wing

A couple evenings of the news has netted this much of a heron wing.  Unfortunately, I made a major mistake.  I was hating the uneven basting lines that I had on the circles.  I had, however, hand stitched the center circle.  So I left the center circle and pulled the other basting lines, figuring I'd draw them by hand or just eyeball it from the center.  After I had started cutting, I realized that the middle circle was supposed to be a "hole" not a "button".  Ooops.  Design change time.  I'm going to wait until I have the surrounding applique done to decide if I'm going to try to fix my mistake with another circle (not quite enough room), a wonky-off centered circle (everything else is fairly symmetrical) or detailed quilting.  I'm pretty happy with the way the rest of the lines turned out.  The pattern lines are slightly wiggly and uneven lengths, which makes it easy to do 'correctly'.  I can't tell you why...but that just makes me happy somehow.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Break

For the better part of a week, I've had a house guest living in the FamilyRoom-GuestRoom-LivingRoom-SewingRoom-Studio-MediaRoom.  Needless to say, I've had an enjoyable time watching movies, putting together jigsaw puzzles, taking naps and preparing/eating my favorite foods.  But I have no progress on quilts.

 I did get some lovely textile gifts though.  Anna sent 50g of merino from Peru in my favorite colors.  The photo doesn't do the crochet hook justice, but it is 2 ended (size 6/7) and carved from wood. So yummy! I have no idea what I'm going to use it for.

Mom just returned from a trip that included Myanmar/Burma.  She gave me several Lungi (a sarong with a border print).  This one is hand painted.   Unfortunately, the dots and outlines are a sticky sparkly stuff that likes to stick on itself.  I think I'll wash it first and see how it turns out before I sew anything with it.

This one is my favorite.  It is hand embroidered. There's about 3.5 yards.  I'm thinking "summer dress".

This is my mom's fave.   It's a little wider, but only about 2 yards - machine embroidered with metallic thread.

I did attempt one bit of applique.  I traced the Heron pattern on to tissue paper and attempted to machine "front baste" the pattern for reverse applique.  Too bad I hate my machine and can't sew a straight line to save my life.

After tearing away all the nasty bits of tissue, I have a wonky basting line to follow.  I did go back and hand baste parts that didn't go as planned.  I think it'll work out fine, but at this point I'm not convinced this approach will be a regular player in my repertoire.  I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Total Flake

Yes, I'm a total flake.  I've bounced back and forth on design concepts for my Ancient/Modern challenge with Ethne.  This is it.  It's what I'm doing.  It's a Dover Clip Art pattern from the "Design Motifs of Ancient Mexico"

I printed out a 8x11 inch version (top left)  then cut it in half length-wise and then in thirds.  I ran those small bits through a photo-copier at 400%.  As you can see there were some sections that got cut off, so I measured key sections (like the beak) to see where the missing bits were and then did a little math (shut up Mrs Casper..yes I now know you can use math in the real world) to mathmatically figure out the proportions, and then drew them in.  (I'm math challenged...if I can do it , anyone can.)
Using the original challenge criteria...these are fabrics from my stash.  I'll be using reverse applique, so the blue fabric will be the bird fabric.  The background, is a batik with dragonflies.  What could be better for a heron or similar water bird?  The batik is heavy enough that I can use a darker fabric for the "under" fabric in a reverse applique technique.  

For my next step, I plan to trace the pattern on to tissue paper, then (for the first time) try "front basting" applique appoach.  As a back-basting girl, I've been totally stumped about how front basting might work.  I think I finally got it figured out.  Stay tuned for details. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Lucky Year

For someone who never wins anything...I've had a remarkable streak of good luck this year.  In the spring, I won 2 of Kellie's Don't Look Now patterns.  Then Nadine sent me some pretty scraps from a give away at Quilted Bliss.  And I won some thread from I Have a Notion as part of the Blogger's Quilt Festival.   I've also had dozens of friends (and a handful of strangers) send me red fabric for my USA quilt.  It's so nice to have the mailman bring me something besides bills!

A few weeks ago, Heather at Retrofabulous sent me a care package with these amazing green batiks and a needle case that she made.  She has a great tutorial on how to make one for yourself.

Over the weekend, these fabrics from Michele Hill arrived. Not only are they amazingly beautiful, but she is also the fabric designer, and is unbelievably generous when it comes to "give away" prizes.  She sent 1/3 yard of each of the fabrics on the right and an even bigger piece of the border print.  You can see the  Adelaide Collection here.  Of course, now I need to buy both of her books.

Speaking of designers....while I was in Utah this weekend hanging out with Anna of Victoria Rose Quilts, I got to spend a couple hours with Renae Allen of RGA Design.  You may be familiar with her printed panels that are designed for practicing machine quilting. Skillbuilder 1 Fabric Sampler
She also has pre-printed panels and books with designs for practicing either free motion or long arm skills.
Skillbuilder 3 Mastery Fabric Sampler
I'm hoping she needs my services as an indentured servant to help her at the Salt Lake Quilt Market in May 2011.  And, I got to see the mock-up of her latest design project.  It is so cool! It includes 2 panels that are designed to be sewn together for the center of a lap-size quilt in "manly" colors and prints.

Maybe while my luck is good I ought to start playing the win money with which to buy more fabric.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Betty Jeanne Quilt

I posted back in July about my idea to make a quilt for my mom with a block to represent each year of her life.  For Christmas, I'll be giving her the first 10 blocks (I hope) along with a small scrap book in which I want her to write about the event or the year that it represents.  As I've been cutting out blocks for the USA quilt, I've also been cutting out (and machine piecing) blocks that I'll be able to work into her quilt.

 Her maiden name is Maple.
(The red version of this is the Maine block.)
Propeller Block - the new solution for North Carolina.  I'm not sure what year that will represent.  It could be her first plane ride, or the first time she flew with my brother as a pilot.  Lots of options.

She lived in Georgia for a while when my dad was in the Army and my oldest 2 brothers were little.

She drove from there to California (Road to California).  With 2 little the 1950's.  Apparently Larry never quit talking and Dan sprouted 2 teeth during the drive.  Or so the story goes.

They also lived near Olympia, Washington (Basket of Grapes - WA) while my dad was in the Army.

As a teen ager she worked at a resort on Lake Erie (Lady of the Lake - MN).

Growing up in Idaho, we spent lots of time in the Delectable Mountains (Montana Block).

And had some distant encounters with bears.  (Bear Paw - Alaska Block) Although mom does have a funny story about the bears in Yellowstone in the 1960's that scared the @&$* out of her aunt who was visiting.

Since I took the photos, I also managed to finished Cactus Blossom - the block I'm using to represent Arizona.

I have 6 more of the USA blocks cut out.  Maybe I'll have some progress to share next week.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Limited Progress

I'm afraid that I don't have much quilt progress to report this week.   I did, however, get most of the Christmas gifts wrapped this morning. (Don't adjust your computer really is Magenta, Lime & Hot Pink. ) Earlier in the week I made homemade pretzels for a gift exchange, then figured out how to use the same dough to make crackers (a result of sheer laziness...I got tired of twisting little sticks).   I need to psych up to make another batch for neighbor gifts.

I was using some antique hot pads while I was cooking the pretzels / crackers, and remembered that I'd bought this pattern at an antique shop.  And I bought the lime and raspberry crochet cotton last year thinking that I'd crochet a border on some pillow cases.  As you can see, I'm easily distracted.    I need to finish the second doily then it will be combined with lime to be the sunflower pattern from the cover.

I've spent this evening drafting patterns for the blocks for the USA quilt.  You would think that it would be easy with thousands of traditional blocks to chose from...but often the ones I want to use are far too complex for a 6 inch block.  I'm currently stumped on both North and South Carolina. (Update:  I've decided on Propeller for NC and a variation of Carolina Lilly for SC.) However, tomorrow I can get cutting out both Dakotas, Colorado, Washington, Arizona, Vermont, Rhode Island, Mass, Oklahoma, and Georgia.  I managed to cut out Minnesota before the movie watchers took over the living room.

I have continued to slog away at the hand quilting on the Josephs Coat.  I'm now about 47% finished.  I've taken to tracking petals and triangles finished in an attempt to stay motivated and feel like I'm making progress.  I have a full schedule at work this week, then next weekend a friend has promised to coach and assist me through the process of custom fitting a pants pattern.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Popsicle Progress

Here's what 10 hours of progress looks like.  The original bits and pieces were put together in larger sections, and a fair bit of hand applique done (Sarge's hat & eyes, a crazy section b/w the popsicles that was just too weird to try to piece & Beetle's face.  The hat will be too..after some other sections are joined.)  Instead of the detailed tissue templates, I spent much of today tracing shapes directly on the light colored fabrics.

In the negative category, I found that I didn't have enough variation in my blues and yellows as I'd hoped.  The shadow under the popsicle is less defined than I'd planned.  Also, the blues under the celaphane wrapper seem too dark.  I may have to try a bleach experiment to see if I can effectively fade those a bit.  Update:  The bleach removed all of the blue on the batiks and all that remains is the faint design in either tan, brown or purple.  All other colors went away. Sure glad I tried that on scraps.  

On the plus side, the variable width strip pieces of raspberry (some of them pieced w/ multiple colors) worked pretty well for the popsicle.  I'm happy with the colors and it makes the melty splotches believable.  I sorted the rest of the fabrics and still love the combos I picked out for the popsicles.  The upper (half-eaten one) will be a bit more red than the lower left one, and I like the red splotchy fabric even better than the one I used on the bottom. Also, the cartoon sections went faster than expected.  It helps that I quit trying to include all the details and let the batik patterns carry some of the variability.

I have some time Saturday morning to work on this quilt again.  I hope I can get a lot done then and Sunday, as it will have to be packed away for a couple more weeks until I have a chunk of time to work on it again.

Momsicles Popsicles.

This is it.  I'm finally pulling out Momsicles Popsicles from the hiding place that it went to then end of June.  To catch you all up.  My cousin-in-law Terrece Beesley is an amazing watercolor artist who gave me permission to make a quilt from one of her paintings.   You can actually buy this original painting or a print of it at this website.  

I spent much of June fussy cutting little pieces to represent the colored funnies that are the background of the painting.  I must admit that I can't wait to actually make the popsicle sections, but that will be the reward for all the time spent on the background.  I could have, of course, made it far more abstract...but that's not really me now is it?  I feel so obligated to make an accurate representation.  I have to admit, that stepping away from it in a photo like this does make it feel worthwhile.
     I'm posting it here to be accountable.  I have committed to making this #1 priority for the next 3 days.  If I promise to post progress...I must make some.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Modern Hunter

I've shifted gears once again on my Modern/Ancient challenge quilt.  The Western Migration just wasn't coming together for me, so I went back to the petroglyphs that I've been pondering for a couple years.  My current inspiration are Fremont petroglyphs from Utah.   I have an extra twist in mind...but I need to see if I can pull off the concept before I share more details.  I have 10 pages of glyph photos, but these 3 capture some of the key elements I want to include.


Here's the snow-covered version of my Batik house.  
I slogged through the 8" of snow to work.
Snow-day for kids, but not a quilt-day for me :(

Monday, November 29, 2010

Productive Procrastination

 Finished the baby quilt.
It looks great from this distance.
Not loving the way it looks up close b/c of the machine technique I used.
Also made a matching tote bag to finish up the material.  Sorry for the sideways a hurry to get to work (drat...I was having so much fun not working last week.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Progress

I did pretty well on my to-do list today.

 I made this squirrel from a pattern in Sew Sunny Homestyle by Tone Finnanger that I checked out of the library.  The directions assume you have some knowledge of making stuffed critters.  I eventually figured it out.  He matches the back side of the Josephs Coat, which is now nearly 1/3 hand quilted.  Flying Ninja Tree Squirrel is sitting on his personal blanky - the test piece of the....

Wavy Pillow cases.  There are actually 2.  They are stitched with blue to match the back side of the JC quilt as well as the front.  (You can click on the photo to get a better look at either.)

By early afternoon, I was about to pull out the Momsicles Popsicles quilt...but got distracted by a piece of fabric and the nagging need to make a quick baby quilt for one of my coworkers.

I've had a piece of that Jacobean stripe for years, thinking it would make a great baby quilt with some matching flowers appliqued on it.

In the interest of time, I used Wonder Under and a satin stitch.  For the record, this is my least favorite method of applique.  But I have been underwhelmed by the "sparkle" of the Sparkle thread collection and suspected that it was probably nicely shiny when densely stitched.

So I drew a gigantic version of the flower for the center panel of a quilt.  I only messed up a couple pieces, forgetting if I had or had not reversed the pattern as I was winging it as I went along.

I'll add some purple sashing then the strips of the inspiration fabric.  Since this needs to be done by next Thurs, it'll have to be a machine-stitched affair, which on my machine means "walking foot".

As for the rest of the to-do list....I got the blocks in an envelope and addressed, but I never left the house.  I decided to make the squirrel for the intended recipient of the apron, thus saving me $30 of fabric.  It's been a long day already, and we're about to head out to watch the BSU / Nevada football game with friends.  Tomorrow's goal:  Nap.

Western Migration

While others are up early shopping today, I'm up early designing quilts.
Ethne and I have been working on a challenge to use indigenous or traditional designs to make something that feels modern.
I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do, until I attended a cross-cultural workshop a couple weekends ago from which I left with the question "What is your creation story?"  What has evolved is an idea for "Western Migration" - something that captures my family history symbolically.

 In keeping with Ethne's plan to use fabric from the stash, I've decided on these fabrics, which I bought on a family vacation to visit my brother in New Hampshire years ago. I also have a rather vague idea on tying together celtic designs with the atomic symbol.  More about that later.

This morning, I've been working on the Tetons portion of the design.  This is the view from the North.  Harley Dude and I had our first date in the Tetons and climbed the Grand Teton (center peak) on our honeymoon.  The last mountaineering trip I took was to climb Mt Owen (on the right).  I was always afraid to climb Owen because of the snow field on the top.  Weather kept us from the summit, but I did spend a sleepless night on that glacier.  You see...I have an inordinate fear of glacial cravasses.  I thought we'd be camping BY the glacier, not ON the glacier.  The hardest part of this process for me is to make this look modern, but still have it be recognizable to people who know and love these particular mountain peaks.
Next Challenge:  The Midwest.  The center of the quilt will represent generations of farmers.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My House

I had planned to do something else today...but instead made a house block for Beth's House Block Party.  Actually, I made 2.  I thought that Beth needed one as a hostess gift, plus one for the block exchange.  It's the mid-century brick ranch house that I live in.  If the blinds weren't down, you might be able to see me sewing in the far right side of the living room window.  Right now, I'm visible in the second window from the left where the computer is in the kitchen.  I resisted the urge to applique or embroider all the shrubs and vegetables that actually grow out front.  Instead, I used some of the green batik that Heather sent to me from her neighborhood.

Friday's game plan:  Get blocks in the mail.  Photograph wavy pillowcases.  Buy fabric for an apron.  Sew a blue squirrel.  Quilt on the Joseph's Coat until my hands go numb.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Scraps Have Been Mating

I had this great idea for a blue quilt and when I pulled out the scrap bin, I discovered that my white scraps have been mating.  I seem to have pulled 2 gallons worth of white bits out of that 1 gallon bag.  I knew there were a lot of scraps leftover from the Joseph's Coat, but had conveniently forgotten how many.

I committed this weekend to getting rid of them once and for all.  I ironed them all flat again and discovered that they were in 3 basic shapes.

I started stitching them together to make strips, which when trimmed up were 1, 1.25, or 2 inches wide.

I finally figured out a  process for joining sections of crazy strips.  I lined up the bottom edge, overlapping the edges. Pick a random angle for the seam...something that wastes the least amount of fabric.

Throw away the little nubs,

and sew the seam without any worries about the actual angle of the seam.

I also made a bunch of wider strips.  These ended up being 4.5" wide.  Once they were about this size, I found it worked best to lay them out and look for similar angles...adding bits when needed to square up the shape.

Since I decided that these were going to become a quilted pillow case to go with the JC quilt, I made the strips 30" long.

On one side of the pillow case, I alternated the 1 and 2 inch crazy strips with 1.5" strips of white-on-white from the stash.

The other side has the 4" strip, some wider pieces of white-on-white and the remaining crazy strips.

I made 2 of these for a matching pair.

The next step will be to quilt them, which I plan to make like a couple of mini-quilts (30" x 40") before trimming them up, adding an opening band, etc.

To make sure that I used up every drop of the white, and to test my quilting idea, I made this doll quilt.
I used the 2 teal Aurifil threads, alternating rows between the darker and lighter.  I was trying to decide if I liked these wino lines slightly buzzed, or really trashed.  I like them with more wiggles.  Guess I'll have to go buy a bottle of wine and see if that improves my technique.

Will have time to finish these up later in the week.