Sunday, May 30, 2010


I made a Paula Nadelstern Snowflake Quilt for Emily's wedding gift.  All the photos that I took of it were on film, which I have since misplaced. E was good enough to snap this photo from her phone today so I would have a copy.  Maybe I can bribe Kenna to count the number of pieces in each flake :) Now that I know that it still exists...I really must show up one day on her doorstep with my camera to get some more detailed shots.  The leftovers from this project became the Double Irish Casserole Quilt.  

Monet Lady Panel

Well, here she is.  The right-hand side of the crazy Monet Quilt.  Up close I've been very, very concerned with the dress portion of the pattern as it looks like random colors.  However, at a distance the swirling folds of her skirt are visible and sections that seemed like too much contrast are just right.  Whew!

This section is 23" x 108" and has 2484 squares (one inch finished).

I have the upper left section (top of umbrella and sky) laid out (fused in place), as well as the lower left (boy and lower skirt.)

Still to do:  The center left sky section.  Plus I need to add background section on both the left and right of the main design section.

The original cross-stitch is 118x148 and I'm reducing it down to 70ish x 108 (7500ish squares! Egad!)  but can add as much background as needed to look right up to 90" wide.  I started this with a Quiltsmart grid product that was marked for 1.5" squares, but miscalculated when I ordered.  I found a 1" grid interfacing by Pellon at JoAnne's that I will use to finish up.  It's less conveniently marked, but I can buy additional and be back at the sewing machine in 30 minutes.  

Looks like today is shaping up to be a Sitting-on-the-back-of-a-Harley-designing-quilts-in-my-head kind of day, so it may be a week or more until I have more to show on this project.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Columbine Vacation

I'm not sure how I feel about my quilt going on vacation without me.  It has arrived in West Yellowstone, MT where it will spend the summer.  If you are going to Yellowstone National Park this summer, stop by the Pinecone Playhouse to check it out in person.  I designed this quilt with the purpose of having a Rocky Mountain themed project that Anna could teach as workshops  as part of the Western Heritage Arts Center over the summer.  I adore wildflowers and the first design that popped into my head was a columbine.  A self-framed reverse applique was what quickly developed.  I thought this looked really modern, so I tried working it up in black & white.  The batik I used in the sashing is a Hoffman wildflower that works perfectly with this pattern.

These are the columbine that are blooming in my yard right now.  This is what I was thinking about when I adapted the patterns to a back-basting, color variation.  Here's what it looks like right now.  I was thinking that I would quilt leaves in the green corner blocks, but am reconsidering replacing them with red.  Maybe smaller red corner blocks (add another goose on each side).  I am really looking forward to quilting in a lot of detail on these blocks.  Soon.  Really.  I just have a couple projects to finish up....
Update: The colored columbine top became a door prize at the October Sisters Quilt Weekend in West Yellowstone.  It went home with Silvia who loves red & yellow together.   

Oh...and if you stopped by from Lynne's blog...I've made about 100 posts since this one...I'm just too overwhelmed with work and family to repost about this quilt.  You can pop by the WIP Page to see all my latest evil plans or the Finished Project Page that proves that I do, in fact, finish things....sometimes....eventually. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sewing Monet

I've been dutifully working on the Monet quilt.  Over the weekend I decided to quit the fusing process for a while and start sewing.  After all the pieces are fused in place, you fold the interfacing, right sides together and sew across all the rows in one direction.  In this case, my panels are all 23 squares wide and when all the sections were connected, there are 108 rows.  The only challenge that I ran into, was that I had some blocks of a single fabric than  I had not used the fuseable for.  The fabric was flimsier than with the interfacing, and I didn't have any lines to follow, requiring some extra starching and ironing steps.  After all the rows were sewn,  I spent a lot of time at the ironing board, pressing all the seams one direction.

The next step confirmed my worst fears.  When I started sewing in the opposite direction, it became clear that having all the seams going the same direction was too bulky.  One corner of each square would have 4 layers of fabric plus the interfacing.  There was only one option
Snipping 2354 intersections
And pressing the seams in opposite directions.
What a pain.
The 8 rows on the right are done. This process is taking a lot longer than I'd anticipated.  Another day's worth of sewing and this panel will be finished.  That's about 1/3 of the total quilt.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Coral Reef Quilt

I started doing applique in the late 90's with Hawaiian applique patterns that were souvenirs that friends and family brought back from their vacations.  Finally, in 2004 we planned a last minute, surprise Spring Break trip to the Big Island.  (The surprise aspect of the trip is a whole different story!)  Needless to say, I found the only quilt shop on the island pretty quickly. I called my Quilt BFF Anna and said "I'm in a quilt me down."   Instead, she said "I'll pay for half, buy more."    In addition to several books on the individual squares that I'd been making, I ended up with a couple large rectangle shaped florals and this amazing pattern.  The proper name is "Fish on Coral" and it was designed by Elizabeth A Akana under the EA of Hawaii label. (If any of you know her...please pass on my thanks...I love the pattern and I loved making it.)  It was the perfect reminder of our snorkeling adventures and my first trip to Hawaii.  As fate would have it, there was a fabric shop about a 1/2 mile from our hotel.  I offered to be dropped off to shop in peace, then walk back to the hotel.  The blue-green batik was just too perfect for this quilt.  And surprisingly less expensive than what I was paying at my LQS for batiks at the time.  Needless to say, on the way home all the personal belongings got moved to the checked suitcase and my family was pressed into service helping me to bring this lovely fabric home in the carry-on luggage.
Here's a close up.  It's hand applique and hand quilting.
The snail and the crab in the corner are my favorite parts of the pattern!!!

The quilt is 96" square.  I finished the applique in a few months.  Then it sat on the shelf waiting to be quilted.  A couple years later, I put it on the quilt frame and discovered that all the curves were hard to do on the frame.  After it was about 1/4 way done, I stitched sections of the quilt to serve as basting and moved this project to a lap frame.  I made it my "Joy in the New Year" challenge and finished the binding New Years Day 2010, nearly 6 years from the start.

Now that I have my quilt blogged, I can sit back and enjoy all the other quilts in the Bloggers Quilt Festival !

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Progress & Give Away

Guitar Girl graduates in August, so I decided I better get back to this Joseph's Coat project and get it finished.  I've been doing this as a quilt-along that Kellie organized at Don't Look Now.  As you can see, I'm still arranging, and re-arranging to try to distribute the colors.  I left the final 4 blocks without their outer row so that when I'm happy with the rest of the lay-out, I can custom place colors on a few blocks.  In case you haven't been following my blog...scrap quilts make me anxious.  I really like to have control of the colors, so this project has been a real challenge to me.

I actually had a great batik collection before I started this quilt.  Some of my favorite smaller pieces got used up.  Some of the bigger pieces I'm really tired of.  My goal is to finish the top by the end of May and then celebrate the way that real bloggers do, with a GIVE AWAY!  I'm going to cut 5" charm squares from the remaining fabrics (and throw in a few I've collected recently).  Leave a comment on this post by June 7th describing what you would do with a packet of batik charm squares in these colors.  Blog & link to this post and/or join as a follower for extra chances to win.  And to keep your odds high, I'll add charm packs to the prize vault as the number of entries increase.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Boy & Skirt

After multiple delays, I've managed to get a couple days worth of this project done.  To make me feel better about the progress I did an estimate and I've fused about 3216 squares into place.  That made me so accomplished until I discovered that I'm only 1/2 done.  However, the remaining sections are sky and umbrella, so I anticipate that they will go much faster than the sections I've finished that have 30 or more different colors to place.

This section is the boy in the background and the lady's skirt on the right, with grass and flowers in the foreground.  I ended up replacing the background around the boy's face to give more contrast.  I substituted some blues in his shirt for contrast as well.  As I was working on the lower portions of the skirt, I took to making multiple substitutions.  I ran out of 3 of the grey-greens and 2 of the light blues.  So much for all that careful planning.  I may have to go back and swap out some of the new colors on the finished panels for the sake of continuity.  There is also a blue in the sky that I think has too much contrast (see the dark spots above the boy's head).  Fortunately, I didn't use a super hot iron when fusing these in place, so most of the squares for replacement come up without much fuss.  Of course, this new need to check and potentially replace color placement means that I can't start sewing the panels until everything is fused.  The other challenge is finding a space large enough to lay it all out.  Since they are 1.5" squares butted up to one another, my 108" finished length is 13.5 ft in the lay-out form.

Oh, and last night when I couldn't stand this project any longer, I finished up Joseph's Coat block #43.  I have  4 outer petals to sew to finish blocks 44 & 45.  The last 4 blocks, I only placed the center petals, figuring that I might want to have some unfinished for when I do the final lay-out.  Hopefully I can get that done this weekend.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Road Trip

My dining room still looks like a fabric store barfed all over it.  My quilting plans ended with the phone call Friday night from my brother trying to fix my mother's cell phone.  She's also having trouble with her house phone, leaving this lovely little old lady with no way to contact the family.  Saturday morning, older daughter (Guitar Girl) and I hopped in the car, cranked up the music and headed across the state (~540 miles round trip).  Fixed phone.  Delivered belated mothers day flowers from my garden.  Took her to lunch.  Drove home.   Total time in car: 9 hours.  Total time fixing phone: 3 minutes.
By having Guitar Girl drive, I was able to attach the label and hanging sleeves to the Black Columbine quilt that is to be hanging at the Pinecone Theater this summer and leave it in E. Idaho to be delivered to West Yellowstone.  I need to edit some directions, then this pattern will be available for sale under the Victoria Rose label.

I also finished several of the Joseph's Coat blocks.  I think that I'm within a few hours of having the 49 blocks finished.
While we were there, I remembered to snap this photo of the blue mum quilt that I made for her a few mothers days ago.  Sorry, but I can't find the pattern and don't remember the designer.  Can anyone help me out?

Oh!  And don't forget about the Blogger's Quilt Festival that starts next week.  Button on the side bar gives directions on how to join.  I'm planning on entering the Coral Reef quilt.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lady &ct

  I was supposed to be on a quilt retreat this weekend that fell apart for reasons I won't disclose.  That means that I have 4 days that I'd planned to be "off" to work on quilt projects.  Wooo Hooo!
I'm really focused on the Monet Quilt.  I made a post giving really detailed, serious tips about how this was going to work.
PPPFFFFSHHHaaaaHAHAHAHA(Snort)pshshhh [gasp] ahh.  yea.  Here's what it really looks like.
Center L:  The partial panel that I am currently working on.  The cross-stitch pattern I  printed out sitting on top of the fuse-able panel.  The pretty pink is a double layer wool blanket that I'm using as a pressing pad for that groovy mini iron on the right.  (You can't see the burn mark under the iron where I set it down when I missed the plastic & metal stand.  Nor can you see the amazing burn mark on my finger where I forgot that the wire stand would be hotter than Hades  when I tried to move it.) The section I'm working on is about 1/4 the size of a full printed panel.
      Oh, and did you notice that there's a cutting mat and fabric on the floor?  This is my dining room.  The sewing machine in in my daughter's bedroom.  The family actually prefers eating in front of the TV in the living room, so I don't get complaints about taking the table out of commission for meals.  I would really, really like them to eat healthy I'm focused on finishing fast.
      You may have noticed the wine glass (Lower Right).  My find of the day is Tamas 07'  Zinfandel (Livermore CA).  Yum.  I found it at Fred Myers, on my way home from the LQS.  I've been drinking Shiraz  Fosters Lager in honor of the Joseph's Coat Quilt Along....but it's time to support my regional vinyards.

You know how great it is to have a friend who always watches your back?  I have several quilter friends who fit that description, but there is also one LQS.  I should note that I am completely spoiled.  I have a dozen quilt shops that I support, but one that I depend upon when I can't find what I need any where else.  Today, I was able to find replacement fabrics for the ones that were not working for me on the Monet quilt.    The good news for all my out-of-town friends, is that they are on-line, as well as brick-and-mortar.  I'm giving an unsponsored shout-out to  Quilt Expressions.  Karen has the best collection of batiks that I've experienced  in the Inter Mountain West.  That's how I rate quilt shops, but for the rest of you she has all the best designers (including Kaffe for you addicts.).  I went today to find some new greens, and replaced several in the Monet quilt.

Lady (Partially Dressed)

Squint a little. (or take off your glasses if you're near-sided).  Must keep positioning blocks while my enthusiasm for this project is high.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lady with Parasol

I'm feeling much better [cough].  Thanks for asking [sniffle, cough].  However, yesterday when I was confirming my Thursday schedule, I must have sounded like hell because my colleague offered to reschedule all my clients.  So it's another day of quilting for me [hack, hack, cough, groan].

The Lady is shaping up nicely.  I found some greens in the stash to replace the ones that were too blue.  The missing pieces are all supposed to be the blue/tan fabric that's in the bottom 3 rows, but I don't have enough so I may substitute a similar fabric in the sky sections. (If I could remember where I bought it...I would buy more since I'm pretty sure I bought it at one of 6 quilt shops in the 20 mile radius.)

I'm going to start a list of lessons learned to share with anyone else who is crazy enough to try this...also to serve as notes to self if this turns out well enough I want to attempt another.
1.  Before ordering fuseable interfacing, double check the number of squares per panel.  (I mis-read the 24x24 inches as being 24x24 squares...they are actually 15x23 squares.)
2. The time spent counting up the total numbers you need of each of the colors is time well spent.  For 1.5" squares 1/8 yard = 75, 1/4 yard = 150, 1/3 yard = 200.
3.  I cut down sticky notes to 1/4" strips and wrote the numbers of the colors I needed.  Those were then stuck to the color key so I knew which colors I was looking for.  As soon as the fabric was cut, I pinned the number onto the fabric.  When the sticky notes are all off the have all the colors you need!
4.  Be cautious about batiks.  A color wash that has an overall blue feel to it may look purple or tan when cut down to 1.5".
5.  Before cutting fabric, organize the stacks based on the names of the colors (i.e. Olive Lt, Dk, VyDk) and reorganize as needed.
6.  Cut all your fabrics into the number of strips that you estimated that you'd need (1 strip = 25 1.5" squares).  Cut some of them into 1,2 and 3 block sizes.  The floss organizer works really well.  When you are ready to use one color, pull out all the fabrics and the identifying label at once and replace them as a unit when your are done. Keep a small cutting board handy so you can cut more of the sizes you need from the full strips as needed.
7.  Buy or borrow a mini-iron (mine is a Mini Iron II by Clover, purchased with a 40% off coupon at JoAnne's.)
8.  A wool blanket folded in half has worked well as an ironing surface large enough for a panel.
9. Trim the edges off the pre-printed panels.  Also, consider cutting panels into smaller pieces.  I could easily reach across 10 squares, but when I used a full panel, I had to stand and hover to reach the top rows which caused my back to protest.
10.  Work in a cat-proof space.  (If you've ever worked on a jigsaw puzzle in a house with a curious know what I mean.)
11.  Don't iron the pieces down until the whole panel is placed.  (This morning I was 3 spaces off on the right 1/3 of the panel, ugh.)  Tip #10 is critical to success on # 11.  

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Starting the Crazy Project

Well, the head-cold status has moved from "Wretched" to "Rotten".  I'm trying to wean off the meds as I feel that I'm existing in a world between "Fantasia" and "Matrix".  I took another day off to recover, but decided to live dangerously...using both irons and rotary cutters.  The risk paid off and I got much done (and no band-aids).
I spent Mother's Day sorting and double checking my fabric selections against the DMC Needlework Threads Color Card.  You see...this crazy project involves converting a cross-stitch pattern into a quilt.  Since I'd been collecting the fabrics over 1 year and 12 quiltshops, some of my choices needed to be re-arranged to  make a better color blend.

Then I started cutting 1.5" strips, which in turn were cut into 1.5", 3" & 4.5" pieces.  Then shoved into an embroidery floss organizer.  The yellow cardstock labels have the symbol, color # and color name written on them, in the hopes that I can keep this all straight.   I cut the greens on Sunday, and enough of the blues to do the fussy sections.
Here's the pattern and calculations that I've been dragging around with me.  The whole cross-stitch is 118x148.  Since I'm using a 1" finished square, I'll need to crop the sides and bottom of the pattern to a rational quilt size.  My original planning was 72x96, but I've already decided that I need to include more of the bottom of the picture.  Will just have to work that out as I go.  Oh, and  don't be concerned by the printout colors, my printer ink was running out that day.  Monet's painting is really blue & green.

You'll have to use your imagination on this part.  The upper green is part of the parasol.  The lower green blob is the upper part of the woman's face.  The blank spaces are 2 shades of green that were completely wrong, and a shade of blue that I didn't have enough of (thanks to the re-arrangement of colors...see paragraph 2).  These are all fused to a printed interfacing made by Quiltsmart.  Unfortunately I misread the panel size as being the number of squares.  I'm saving the panels for the detailed sections of the woman and the boy.   I hope to get lots done on this quilt over the next couple weeks to keep me motivated to finish.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Safe Quilting

Interestingly, the cold medicine I'm taking fails to warn about cooking under the influence. Fortunately, I only burned one side of the grilled sandwich.  

Faced with that reality check, I thought it was in my best interest to avoid anything sharp or hot during my afternoon of sick leave.  Ruling out irons, rotary cutters, good scissors, pins and needles was a bit of a challenge.  Eventually, I opted for paper scissors and glue.  I still have all my fingers, and a good start on the hexagon quilt I'll be sewing on the Epic Road Trip of 2010.

I finished cutting out about a thousand little hexes that I had printed out on scratch paper. I was somewhat concerned since the only times I've done English Piecing, I've used cardstock and basted the material in place.  I managed to successfully used the gluestick approach and though the paper was flimsier than I'm used to, I think it'll work fine since I don't plan to re-use the papers (hence the scratch paper). 68 glue-basted, 984 to go.  

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Garden of Stitches - The Ashley Quilt

Hurray!  I'm done!!!
So here's the whole story on this quilt.  There's a quiltshop in McCall (Huckleberry's) that years ago only carried what I consider "muddy colored" fabrics. (They've expanded a little in recent years, but still love earth tones.)  They had Garden of Stitches by Lisa Bongean displayed.  I loved the shape of the flowers and bought the pattern with the plan to make it in bright colors for my younger daughter.  The next spring, a family member was diagnosed with cancer and I spent a lot of time waiting in doctor's offices.  This became my waiting room project and for a time I referred to it as "the chemo quilt".   Meanwhile, I finished 2 quilts for the daughter, so the need to finish this one was eliminated and  it remained a work-in-it-whenever project.

Then in 2009, I decided to make quilts for each of my nieces and nephews with a self-imposed rule that they had to be made with "stash" material.  Fortunately, my niece Ashley liked the colors I was using for this quilt and it became hers.  The applique was nearly done, but last summer I had to figure out how to piece it together from the stash.  I decided that the half-square triangles in the original pattern were too busy and distracted from the applique.  I framed the flowers with a pink print that is not noticeable from a distance, but makes a subtle frame on close inspection.  Which is a good thing b/c I ran short and had to make some adaptations.   I also am not a fan of scrappy quilts (they make me anxious for some reason), so I set about taming the outer border to just 2 colors.  My other challenge was how to quilt it.  With all that pink space b/w the flowers, I felt it needed a lot of interest, so decided on echo quilting.  That decision then creates a new problem in that lap quilting works best.  But it was summer.  So I tried something new.  I sewed the quilt into 4 panels, quilted those up to 2" from the joining edge, then sewed them together and quilted using the approach used for Hawaiian style quilting.

The other interesting story that goes with this quilt revolves around a quilt retreat in June 2009.  Joanne invited several of us to her cabin the week of the Council, ID quilt show. The evening before the luncheon, I was working on this quilt and trying to convince Diane that she'd like applique if she just tried the back-basting method.  She agreed to try and was working on a flower from this pattern to add to the back of a quilt she'd planned to finish that week.  We got to the luncheon.  I hadn't paid any attention to who the speaker was since I don't know any quilt designers.  As I was looking over the display table before the trunk show...I had to laugh.  It was Lisa Bongean, the designer of the flowers we'd been working on.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Stash Refill

I've been very, very good, and busily emptying the stash.  However, I'm close to finishing several of the big projects that have been on my "must do" list, and I can finally move on to a "wanna".  As I mentioned in the previous post, I've been plotting for about a year now to adapt a cross stitch pattern, specifically Monet's Woman with Parasol, into a quilt.  I collected the greens last summer.  Thought I'd be using the stash for the blues...but in my defense, I didn't have these shades of blue anyway.  The pattern calls for 60 colors.  The scale will be 1 inch finished squares.  Yesterday I cruised out to Kuna to check out Knit One - Quilt 2, a quilt shop I'd never visited before.   Ended up at both Craft Wearhouse and JoAnnes.  Hopefully I can find the last 3 fabrics I need at Quilt Crossing this afternoon.  I bought some 1.5" fuse-able grid that's designed for watercolor quilts.   I ordered it on-line and discovered that there was some differences in the number of squares/yard listed on the website and what was actually on the product, so I may have to do some creative piecing in the background sections.  

I was also keeping an eye out for pink & green batiks to go with my summer road trip project:

I found a great historical quilt on the Quilt Index made in 1880, that I thought would look fun and modern in this color-way.

I've been periodically cutting out the raspberry & lime hexes and organizing them in baggies.  I'm using a shower curtain ring to hold the bags together.  After trying several different hex patterns on line, I found that the one at The Sometimes Crafter best met my needs.  She also posted some links that got me the interest of time, I'm going to try glue stick instead of basting all this fabric onto the papers.  I will probably regret it later.  I decided to trim up all of these using a hex ruler rather than the tutorial's squares approach.  I may hand quilt this later, and having predictable seams will keep me from going crazy.   I just realized that I used the teal that I'd planned for this quilt on the Joseph's Coat.  Hopefully I can find something in these colors at the store. (Teal/blue is so tricky to match with colors changing annually).

My other brilliant plan came to me last week while riding on the back of the Harley.  I usually buy 1/8 yard cuts of batiks that I simply love but have no specific plan for.  And I was thinking about a post on Stash Manicure that had to do with cutting and organizing fabrics into charm squares and jelly rolls.  It occurred to me that if I bought a 1/3 yard of Irresistables...I could cut a 2.5" strip, a 5" strip - to be cut into charm squares, and I'd still have about an 1/8th left.  Then I can organize the squares into stacks and come Christmas time, I have great presents for my quilter friends.  I was so excited about this idea, that I started cutting my Joseph's Coat fabrics that were large yardages into squares and I have a head start on gifts!  So many bloggers do give-aways to celebrate blogging anniversaries...Hmmm  maybe I should do that too.  Anyone interested in winning batik charm squares?