Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cuteness progress report

Haven't joined the blocks of the outer border yet but here it is so far.  I love this modified spool block.  It's amazing how much work these little 4" things are, though. 

It is my aim to have enough small Christmas quilts to decorate this holiday season.  I want to take down the ones hanging up now (back hallway, den, main hallway, master bedroom, sewing room, computer room/guest room) and substitute Christmas themed pieces.  I never took down the quilts on permanent display before during the holiday season, mostly because I didn't want to have to store them and they were some of the prettiest ones I had made.  But the whole house needs to be festive.  And I should make some more table runners too.  This is the time to concentrate on these projects, when I've got 4 or 5 months to finish them. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tomato time

One thing about home grown tomatoes - they're not as perfect as the perfectly colored, perfectly round tomatoes you see in the grocery, but are they ever good.  Three kinds here, Brandywine, Celebrity and Roma.  I see pasta in my future.

More Christmas (in July) cheer

A few mini-spool blocks from Carrie Nelson's "Schnibbles" book, using the Woodland Holiday collection.  I had two charm packs and a yard of the red and cream toile so I started making these 4 inch beauties.  I have a border planned.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another one chalked up as finished

I am trying so hard to complete all the almost-finished quilt tops I have lying around before I start something else.  I finally got the last two sides of the outer border on this one this morning.  It would have been done yesterday but we went to a movie.  The last Harry Potter installment.  We'd seen all the others, so what the heck.  I have to admit I wasn't so fond of them, but I'm not the target demographic, and I've read sooooo much fantasy and sci-fi in my life that nothing in that genre seems new to me. 

Anyway, this is my version of the all-plaid gift quilt that's going to the longarmer tomorrow.  This one is larger because it's for us.  I really need to slow down because we're running out of storage room.  But these are such nice colors for fall I couldn't resist. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's Christmas in July

And here's the final product after all those peeks, a Christmas quilt for us.  I've made several of them but given them all away.  This isn't super-Christmass-y, it's made with Lecien's Antique Rose collection.  The red and green color scheme is enough Christmas for me.  The pattern is "Zuzu's Petals" from Carrie Nelson (don't you love an "It's a Wonderful Life" reference?).  I think it's going to be gorgeous. 

I'm trying to finish all the stuff I have languishing on my side table in an incomplete state before I launch into more Bonnie Hunter Cheddar Challenge bowtie blocks.  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Another tidbit

A beribboned border.  Of  course you know this means a mitered corner.  Oh, wait a minute.......rats.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sneak peek

Just a little something I'm working on.  Cute?  I thought so too.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Addendum - why was I up so early?

I didn't mean to get up and start sewing at 6:30.  But at 6 a.m., I was awakened by the sound of a lawn mower, a large riding mower that was very loud indeed.

I looked at the clock and winced.  Who in the world was mowing this early?  I looked out the window at the head of the bed, and across the street a rider on a John Deere mower was industriously tackling the soccer field behind the local grade school.  It was barely light enough to see where he was mowing. 


OK, I feel better now.  Just had to vent a little.

I shot off an email to the school board member responsible for that grade school emphasizing that I was not happy about this state of affairs.  He can pass it on to the maintenance department.  And if he doesn't answer me that he did run down the person whose bad idea that was, he's going to get more email from me - until he does.

Mmmmm - cheesy!

I promised myself I wouldn't buy any more fabric this year.  My appetite for new quilt stuff had gotten admittedly a bit gluttonous, and the only thing to do was to stop cold turkey.  The local quilt shops were closed, so I wasn't being temped as much. 

But then, Bonnie Hunter posted this on her blog and bam!  There went my best laid plans!

I wasn't even a huge fan of the color called "cheddar", that golden yellow shade from the 19th century.  I bought a jelly roll of Civil War repro fabrics and didn't even use those strips.  And I seldom use solids for backgrounds, prefering the marbled/mottled/WOW fabrics for texture.  But when she posted a picture of those oh-so-cute bow tie blocks with the solid cheddar background, my heart melted.  I wanted it!

So I dug out my box of Civil War repro and those two strips of cheddar solid and started to work this morning early.  I had enough cheddar to cut out 24 blocks (I'm making mine 4" square rather than her 3", but they're still petite and cute.)  And now I'm in love.

Here is the progress so far:
I found more of the fabric online at Hancock's of Paducah and ordered 5 yards.  The only thing is, do you know how many of these bow tie blocks it will take to make a huge quilt like we like them, without borders (like her antique inspiration)?  529.  Ouch.  24 down, 505 to go.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Games quilters play

I'm busily laying out my Arnold's Attic fabric quilt top this morning and am indulging in one of those games quilters play when they are trying to decide the configuration of scrappy blocks.  It's called "Are these fabrics too close together?"

Don't tell me you haven't done this too.

You've sorted the blocks into stacks for each row, assuring that the main colors are distributed evenly between the stacks, and then you start to lay them out on the floor (or, lucky you, on your design wall) in rows, carefully assuring that a repeated color or pattern is not too close to its brother block, stepping back repeatedly to see that the colors are evenly dispersed throughout the quilt.  And when all the blocks are placed in position, you see one that won't work.  Say, a red block is too close to another red block.  Or that large green floral is in a block right next to another block with that same floral.  So you move one of the offending blocks.

And then it's too close to another repeating color or block.  So you move another one.  And another one.  And another one.

There's only one solution to this situation.

Stop.  Breathe.  Start sewing.

It's a scrap quilt.  In the great cosmic scheme of things it's highly likely it won't impact the look of the quilt.  And it's almost impossible to create a layout that evenly distributed all colors/fabrics throughout the quilt every time. 

And guess what?  No one else will see it.

So make your best shot at the layout, step back, take a picture if you want because it's always easier to objectively evaluate a layout in a photo, and then - start sewing.  Perfect isn't gonna happen, but if you obsessively stay there, rearranging blocks, nothing is gonna happen. 

So you sew, girl.

Here is the layout so far.  Borders to follow.  If the hot weasther holds I might have this finished by the end of the weekend, because I'm sure not going to go out in the yard when it's this miserable.  Thanks for the input on the border question, because I've made up my mind.  I'll show you later.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tomato heaven

It's almost tomato avalanche season again.  Here are my two Brandywine plants:
They're in front of an 8 ft. fence, by the way.  Now THAT'S a tomato plant!

Monday, July 11, 2011


OK, folks, it's voting time again! (Gee, what would I do without the collective brain power of the blogosphere?)
Here's the deal: I can't decide on the border design for this quilt. I started out enlarging the design I used for the previous gift quilt, using a Arnold's Attic Fat eighth bundle and a fat quarter bundle of Arnold's Attic wovens (gorgeous,BTW). I started out with this idea, but when I laid it out on the floor it looked too dark:
I know husband thinks so too, even though he said it was pretty, because he doesn't like the darker, muddier colors like I do. So I started to work on alternate designs to lighten up the look. I came up with this:
And this:
And this:
And finally this:
EQ and a hyper-active imagination are a deadly combination! Now I'm stuck with five possibilities and I can't decide. I like them all, you see. I'm most puzzled about using the light neutral on the outer border of the last design. Does that look like the quilt just "drifts off" or does it have a complete looking finish, if you get what I mean? The binding will be a brown mono print, if that helps.
FYI, the piano key border pieces finish at 2 1/2" x 5", so some of the EQ representations show them too wide, but you get the idea.
I'm open to suggestions. Still making the blocks in the center so I have some contemplation time. What would you do?
Addendum: The more I look at them, the more I'm leaning toward number 4. Help!

Friday, July 8, 2011

One border shy of a full quilt

You'll have to imagine a green homespun plaid inner border in the gap - the fabric's on order. (Oh, and mentally press the quilt top while you're at it!) Otherwise, here is the plaid quilt. It's going to be a gift for a family member. I'm going to make myself a version of this one. Love it!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Plaid facts

Working with all these plaid fabrics has been interesting. They fall into several categories and each has its drawbacks and peculiarities.

First, the thrift store dress shirts. I used a white and blue tattersall shirt for the background on all the blocks and that fabric is a dream to work with. Silky, finely woven, doesn't ravel, takes a press beautifully, and doesn't stretch. The only thing that I found was that the plaid was distorted and pulled out of square in some places in the making of the shirt and some of my pieces aren't completely square with the plaid lines, but it doesn't worry me. I wasn't in the mood to wet and block the fabric, so I just took at as it is. I don't have any more of these shirts but I need to hunt for them. This one was a designer brand (don't remember which one) and the quality shows in the fabric.

Then, my old homespuns which date from the mid nineties and came from a fat quarter bundle of plaids I bought from Keepsake Quilting. These are a very different animal from the homespuns I purchased recently. They are thinner and more finely woven, they don't stretch and they don't have that annoying (at least to me) brushed finish on one side. They are a pleasure to work with, which is more than I can say for the newer homespuns, which are too stretchy and loosely woven and have to be handled carefully. They are from good brands, too, so they aren't cheap stuff. Just a pain to work with. I like plaid bindings so I buy them sometimes but every time I regret it.

There are other recently purchased wovens, however, that are a breed apart. I refer to those yarn dyed plaids sold by French General. These are finely woven, silky and beautifully made and I wish I had more of them but they seem to be hard to find. I bought a Maison de Garance wovens fat quarter bundle last fall; half were these lovely plaids and half were more usual chunky homespun weaves in stripes. I like them too, but not as much.

And finally, the casual plaid shirts from the thrift store. These are a real mixed bag. Some of the shirts were well known brands and are made of quality stuff, and others less so. You have to be very careful when you're thrift store shopping. I found one plaid on my last Goodwill run that had beautiful colors but the fabric was too flimsy to seriously consider. A few that I bought are so tightly woven with such fine threads, however, that you can barely get a sharp pin through them. They are prime goods.

I recently ordered a yarn dyed wovens fat quarter bundle of "Arnold's Attic" from Moda that I will incorporate into the Civil War sampler blocks using that collection's prints, and I'm eager to see how they handle and sew because the plaid pickings locally are pretty slim. I looked for plaids at the Hancock's and Joann's in town and was disappointed with the plaid selection and fabric quality - too loosely woven and stretchy and the colors were awful. I've also ordered a yard of a pumpkin colored plaid from Buggy Barn to use as the binding on this quilt and am curious as to how it will work.

But for the backing of this quilt I decided to use one of the printed plaids from a recent Moda collection, Lilac Hill. Homespuns just seemed too stretchy and unstable in a large piece, and might be a pain for the longarm quilter to handle. I have to remember to ask her what her experience is with these.

How about you? How do you feel about using homespuns in your quilts? Do you mix them with other cottons? Any problems quilting them? I'd love to know.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mad for plaid

In my normal, monkey-mind way (to use a Buddhist expression), I seem to hop between projects, usually just before one is completed. If I have a quilt down to the borders, I will get distracted and cut out another project. No finishing what I have started first, not for me! Why have one project going when you can have four? I finish them all eventually.

Last night my attention was captured by an all-plaid quilt in the same book as "On Golden Pond" that I'm finishing now (only three sides of the border to go). It was set on point with alternating Shoo Fly and Hole in the Barn Door blocks surrounded by plaid triangles, with a pieced border, and it was completely made of plaids. It was adorable. And I have a storage box of shirts from the thrift store that hadn't been cut into yet. So what did I do?

Yup. I cut out a quilt this morning.

In my defense, I woke up feeling lousy, with aching knees and a sinus headache, and the thought of my planned morning (treadmill time, jump in the car and take it for state inspection, hit the grocery and the credit union on the way home) just wore me out thinking about it.

So I didn't do it.

It's one of the lovely perks of being retired. Having a bad morning? You don't HAVE to do anything you don't want to do (with some limits). So I didn't.

I was happy to find that my blue on white tattersall thrift store shirt was large enough to cut out all the backgrounds for the blocks, lending a bit of order to a scrappy design. That is something I use often - a single background fabric in all the blocks of an otherwise jumbled color quilt. And I had enough shirts and homespuns to include 28 different plaids in the quilt, which makes a nice variety. I also have enough left that I can piece the backing if I want.

So here are a couple of the little cuties:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Civil War Sampler

My Barbara Brackman 2011 Civil War Sampler blocks so far: This is gonna be deeply cool! Thank you Barbara Brackman!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The perfect blue

So this is the paisley that was driving the search for an alternate setting fabric: And this is what I finally decided on:

The rich dark blue I wanted, a few more cream colored flowers and not so much open space between them, the shape of the spriggy design to coordinate with the paisley. Perfect!

And this is what it's going to look like. It's big, as usual. When they get this large, I run out of floor space when they are laid out for assembling the rows and I almost can't scoot my sewing chair out.

And I think it's fabulous! Thanks to Carrie Nelson for another great design. It's called "On Golden Pond" and it's from her book "Miss Rosie's Autumn Quilts" which is unfortunately out of print. I had to get it on interlibrary loan. There's another design, an all plaid quilt, in it called "Flies in the Barn" I would love to do with some of my thrift store shirts when I have enough variety.