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.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Framed Scraps

Here's where I am on the project to use up Nadine's scraps.
I "matted" the various sized pieces in red, sage green, light blue and yellow.  Now I'm adding a black frame around each.  I've been imagining this like a photo wall where the matching frames are what pull together all the pictures.

The color mat squares are of various sizes of 6-7".  I have 2 options now.  1) use the same width black frame on every square so the finished size range is 11-14" OR 2) add frames that would result in a finished block size of 12ish inches for all the blocks.

My other decision is on how to combine the blocks.  I had originally imagined red sashing.  Now I'm thinking that might compete with the mats.  White seems too stark.  Grey seems muddy compared to the primary colors.  A black print would lose the frame detail.  Maybe a brighter blue, in a print.  But of course, I don't have any of that in the stash.    Hmmm.  More ponderation.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Off my groove.

I'm about 4 days off from the calendar.  Harley Dude had a flare up of a chronic health issue that resulted in 2 Emergency Room visits over the weekend.  Why is it that we never get really sick during office hours?  As of noonish today, he's on the mend...thanks for asking.
Sometime Sunday (it's all a bit of a blur) I finished quilting the Ice Melt / Broken Glass quilt.  It's back to  two names because now that it's quilted, the concept of the ice melting on the lake  is  working for me again.  When it was just a top, the stitching lines and the difference b/w the piecing and the white 1/3 were really evident.  Now, and particularly from a distance, it flows.

I used a poly batt that I had in the garage (obviously 10 years or more old, since I've become a batting snob in the past decade) and some light blue fabric from the big bins (almost certainly cotton and likely 15 or more years old.) for the backing.  I pinned it all together, and used the walking foot and a verigated blue thread.

I started the quilting process the same as when I did the crazy pink project, following the outlines of the key shapes.  Sunday, when I got back to the process, I wasn't loving it.  So I flipped it over and started quilting from the back side with the intent to get an even distribution of those fairly random lines.  That turned out to be a really good decision.  I had also under-pinned, as it turned out,  and there was a lot of bunchiness.  You perfectionists would have completely freaked out and pulled out your seam rippers.  I, on the other hand, kept sewing.   I knew that the cotton sheet fabric I used for the white fabric was notoriously wrinkly and hoped that would hide a host of ills.  And, for the most part, it did.  To be sure, I ran this through the serger to finish the edges then washed & dried.  I plan to square it up again before I bind... maybe that way my randomness will seem more planned.

I'm still working of UFO's.  I have more of the Ojibwe quilt basted (in the ER). I have 24 hand-pieced blocks from the fabric Nadine sent to me, ready for a round of black borders.  I finished 1 frame worth of JC quilting, which brings me to 23% finished.

My blog-buddy Heather thought of me when she was looking at some green batik in her stash.  I was trying to explain the concept of my next planned original design project when I decided to pull out the green batik collection that I gathered this summer, for this photo.  It will be self-bordered leaf applique (conceptually like the columbine blocks) made out of fat quarters.  I won't be using all of these, and certainly not with this distribution, but it does show the concept that I'm working on, with a variety of textures and color to set off each block w/o sashing, but still being cohesively green and batik.

I also have some concepts for the challenge quilt that I've been doing with Ethne.  But that's a whole different post.  Maybe next weekend.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Aurifil Sparkle Thread Collection-I used to never win anything...and if I did it was something I didn't much care for.  But it appears my luck has changed!  I won these beautiful neutral colored threads from I Have A Notion  as part of the Bloggers Quilt Festival.  They arrived in the mail today and I am very excited.  Kelly was so wonderful she even offered me an alternative prize if I didn't like this one.  We spent several emails discussing what trade I might like.   She has way too many options.  I'm glad I stuck with this.  I can't decide which to play with first.. the Magenta or "Red Plum" (it's Raspberry in my opinion....)  Of course, the 2 shades of lime and the teals are pretty yummy to.  Thanks Kelly!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Joseph's Coat Quilting

 I'm supposed to be grading papers.  But I really need a break.

Here's where I am on the Joseph's Coat quilting.  It is going SOOO  SLLLLOOOWWWLLLYYY that it's like watching finger nails grow.

I moved it from the quilt frame to a lap hoop a few weeks ago, which I am quite enjoying since Fall has finally hit in Boise.
 I've been trying to measure progress in "hoops per week", with a goal of at least 1 hoop.  That means roughly 30 petals per hoop, plus the triangle outlining and fill.  It would make me feel much better if didn't know that there are 637 petals and 406 triangles.

If I maintain average momentum, I'll be done quilting before the weather heats up in June.
I do feel a TINY bit better knowing that I'm about 20% finished.

And every time I want to work on another project, I make myself spend a half hour hand quilting this first.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More Inspiration

This much photographed petroglyph in Capitol Reef National Park  is another potential inspiration for the quilt challenge.  In addition to my personal collection of rock art books from the region, I also found this website with photos of Fremont Petroglyphs.  I think I could pass him off as "Ancient Man / Modern Sports Fan"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Applique....Progress & Ideas

I love this lizard.  This is the most amazing batik that I bought for the sole purpose of making this critter.  Pay no attention to the pencil lines on the background.  I  use the back-basting needle turn technique, and one day when I was in a hurry, I drew the design on the wrong side of the fabric.  He will someday show up on the same quilt as the frog.  My original plans of having 2 squares and a rectangle as a quilt center, were thrown off by the scale of this guy.    Even though he's proportionately twice as long as the frog, he's skinnier so the scale all seems a little off to me.  I need to find more Mayan style reptiles to finish this off.

Remember how I admitted to my latest Dover Clipart purchase?    I bought it to find critters to go with the frog and lizard.  But of course....I found new things to distract me.

For cute is this bird?
I mean...I'm not ornithologist...and yet I'm feeling some love for this bird.
(This is how the Santo Domingo Bird Quilt came about too...)

So my newest blog friend Ethne and I have been plotting a quilt challenge.  We're still working out the details, but it will involve applique and possibly some indigenous or traditional designs that have a "Modern" feel.    I'm digging this Mexican bird.

Or a whole cloth applique like this? amazing is this?

Or something simple like this?

Let me know if you are interested in an applique challenge where the basic goal is some type of traditional or indigenous pattern that has a very modern feel.  Start goal is Dec/Jan.  Estimated size = yard/meter square.

More Finished Projects

I've been working on quilting the Broken Glass quilt on the machine, and the Joseph's Coat by hand.  Neither are going particularly quickly.

To make myself feel like I'm making a wee bit of progress on eliminating UFOs, here's a hot pad.  It involved paper piecing.  I made 2 of the 40 squares needed and decided that I really didn't like it enough to make a whole quilt.  I added 3 layers of cotton batting and stitched it on the machine.

I also made Kansas Dugout with fabrics sent by Heather.  Heather's fabric donation provided me with a solution to my fabric gathering process for this quilt.   She provided me with a list of states that she has lived in...and since the fabric came from her stash, there's a possibility that she bought it in Kansas.'s a stretch....but I made up the rules so I can also change them.

The leftover fabrics are being used for a bonus quilt that will have about 1000 HST.  I keep these in my purse and stitch on them in waiting rooms, at staff meetings and at educational conferences.  I added another 40 or so this week.  I even had Tom Sawyer moments (twice!) in which I convinced friends that I had an extra needle & thread for something them to do during the particularly boring lectures.  Thanks Bobbi & Hillary!

Well...back to quilting for me!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Applique Party!

Pull out your calendars!  There's an event that I am totally stoked about! (If I lived in England I'd be chuffed!)  The May 20-21, 2011 Heritage Quilt Workshop in West Yellowstone, Montana  is going to be Applique Addict Weekend!!!!
Anna & I will be sharing projects that we have made using the Dover Clip Art software and walking participants through the process.   We'll include one of our favorite Dover books/software into the  workshop price and help you to design your favorite variation.  The Santa Domingo birds are all from that book, as are the Mayan Frog.... and Chipmunk

Mayan Chipmunk
There are a number of other projects that we've done from this book including a Mimbres Fish that both of us have made, but have perhaps neglected to photograph.  My version was quilted (I've asked the recipient to photograph the quilt...but it is currently in storage) and Anna's was appliqued on a pillow (we'll work on the photo).

Details are still pending, but the usual May & Oct workshop format is a 1/2 day Friday, all day Saturday format.  The fee includes Fri Supper, Sat Breakfast & Lunch as well as CHOCOLATE throughout.  Pre-registration allows for discount pricing on a partnering motel.    If you aren't from the area...let me just remind you that West Yellowstone IS the entrance to Yellowstone National Park.  Isn't that on your "Bucket List"?  The workshop was purposely scheduled after fishing season opens. If you aren't a fisherperson...perhaps your travel partner is???   May in the "high country" means that there's still a lot of snow on the ground (no hiking) but still lots of opportunity for Geyser Gazing.  Have YOU ever seen Old Faithful?

I'm really hoping that with this advanced warning, lots of my blog-friends can plan some early summer vacations to come play with me!!!  Since my birthday is June 8th, I'm also looking at this as excuse to call it a BIRTHDAY PARTY!    Oh sorry...tooo excited....I kept thinking that people might bring me fabric.  (Let me know if your interested...we can discuss details.

Addendum:  My brother just sent me this of a bear chasing an injured bison in Yellowstone in April.  Wow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ojibwe Beadwork Inspired Applique

While I have temporary custody of my camera, I thought I'd share some close-ups of  the Ojibwe UFO turned WIP.  The first 5 pics are sections of the 4 side panels that will frame the center motif.

You can click here to see some examples of Ojibwe bead work.  As you can see, I fell in love with the stylized leaves and flowers.  The traditional beading has blue in it and is on a white background.  I changed the color scheme to match the original recipient's decorating colors.

The individual elements of my design were pulled from beadwork & coloring/clip art books as well as photos that I had taken at the National Museum of the American Indian.  
Over the weekend, I worked on this flower and set of leaves.  The vine on the top left of this photo will have the same shaped/colored  leaves as the bottom left.  I also finished the center motif below.

 The flower above is on the end of these vines that twist out of those crazy paisleys.

I'm really glad that I had finished as much as I had initially, as now I'm not so sure about the fabrics and color choice.  The dark red in this picture is actually burgundy, which looks great at a distance, but I'm not so sure I like it close-up.  And I've become quite a fabric snob since I bought some of these fabrics.  Hopefully the "cheap" fabrics will hold up.