Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Rebecca!

If you have been following this blog, you have seen Rebecca's photo earlier and know that she is our daughter.  This isn't her wedding anniversary (that was last month), but it is an anniversary that is more significant to David and me. 

Thirty-five years ago today, David and I met my brother Davis and his wife Esther at their home in New Jersey so they could drive us out to Kennedy Airport.  It seemed like a very long wait before that Northwest Airline plane came in from Korea.  All the "regular" passengers came off most of them grinning from ear to ear as they looked at the crowd of us in the waiting area (this was pre-Patriot Act, remember, and we could still go directly to the gates). 

Then, one by one, the  volunteers came off the plane carrying their little bundles.  Sometimes all one could see was the bundle; sometimes a little head was visible.  The volunteer called out a name.  Families rushed forward with arms outstretched and enveloped the volunteer and the baby, their baby,  in their arms.  More and more names were called, and I began to think we hadn't heard our name or that I had gotten the date wrong and this wasn't "our" plane.  There were so many people milling around that we couldn't see much of anything anymore.

Finally, our name was called and we surged toward the sound.  As we got closer, I could see a lady carrying a baby who was wide awake and looking around.  All I can remember for certain after that is moving forward at a near run and reaching for that baby, our daughter Rebecca.  David took care of paper work while David and Esther cried (we were all crying!) and took pictures. 

This is one of the photos.  Davis has reached out to hold Rebecca's hand, David is in the background trying to get his turn with Rebecca (whom I wouldn't let out of my arms for a long, long time).  How tired we all were, but, oh, so happy!

So every year we celebrate the anniversary of her arrival to this country, to her new family.  Every year we think again how lucky we were and are to receive this precious gift.  Every year I remember how kind Esther and Davis were to drive and sit with us through that very long wait. 

There's nothing like family.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 18 of Challenge 3

What a great day!  Pat came by with the applique she has just finished for my project, and oh my, as you can guess, it is beautiful.  What a superb needle artist she is and as generous as the day is long.  She actually offered to do anything to help that she could (silly woman), and I jumped at the opportunity to have her assistance.  I was going to put a photo on the blog of the work she did for me, but the sky was so dark I would have had to use my flash.  That just doesn't work well with reflective fabrics.  When my friend the should-be-a-professional-photographer takes photos of this quilt, I'm going to ask him to take detail photos, also.  For now I'll just say that she appliqued moths for me.

And if that doesn't pique your interest, my favorite part of my own sewing is the construction of the dragonflies.  They were cut out tonight and assembled with pins for sewing on tomorrow.  I am very pleased with them. 

By the way, a side benefit to Halloween is that tulle/netting is available and some of it is inexpensive.  An 8th of a yard (the smallest amount one can have cut) can be enough for all sorts of project embellishments.  JoAnn's has their least expensive on-the-bolt tulle with the costume fabrics.  Of course, if you're like me (and many others), you scour the remnants containers in that store all year long looking for goodies.

Moths, dragonflies, and fireflies.  They're all part of the magic.  But the greatest magic of all is having friends who say they'll help and who really mean it!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 16 of Challenge 3

It is amazing how long a seemingly simple task can take.  Or at least how long I can take to do it.  Today, Monday, September 26th, I spent the entire day hand-stitching some items on the quilt top and cutting out batting to size for other parts of my design.  Part of the sewing was awkward - when one is used to stitching as a right-hander (which means starting at the right and sewing to the left) and one is sewing on a small circular element on a large fabric while standing up and trying not to wrinkle the entire work - well, I want to tell you it was trying to say the least.  

Then, since I was standing, I had to take breaks and allow myself to sit for a bit so my back wouldn't snarl at me and my feet would acknowledge my right to have them at the base of my legs.  Add to that the fact that I would sometimes have to answer the phone or try to figure out what train of thought had made me wander into another room with the thimble still on my finger and you can see why the entire process took longer than I had planned! 

It always does.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 15 of Challenge 3

Photo of the rhododendron that blooms spring and fall.

Yesterday was a busy day.  During last week, I had run the essential load of laundry but hadn't faced the mound steadily growing bigger in our hamper until David finally mentioned he was running out of clean clothes.  Oops!  All along I have tried to keep up with the necessary chores and thought I had been doing rather well.  Guess I was fooling myself.  Anyway, I put paid to that chore yesterday, and now both of us will have what we need. 

Have you ever noticed that the busier you are the more you get done?  That's what happened Saturday.  Despite running up and down stairs to complete at least one chore, I managed to cut out both of the two borders for the project.  Since the borders are my own design (there were no traditional blocks that were "just right" so I had to wing it and create my own), the cutting was easy, but as always I noticed a few things that I hadn't taken into account.  Fortunately, they were things I was able to resolve.  That done and with time left, I sewed and assembled the top border.  While I didn't get to sewing the bottom border, I know it will go quickly tomorrow. 

Then when David came home from a meeting in Saratoga, I talked him into going to the mall so we could take care of our new phones.  John, our son-in-law, had purchased and mailed them to us about a week ago.  That saved us one errand, but now we had to take care of the rest of the business. 

You know what weekends are like at the major malls?  Can you imagine how much we love going to the mall on any day?  Needless to say, David wasn't enthusiastic, but I pressed a bit, and we went.  The lovely thing about that errand was that we were able to chat with a friend's daughter (who works at the phone store) who helped with the technical side of our business. Ta-dah!  Cross off another chore that's been lingering too long on the "To Do" list.  Put a star by it because the friend's daughter is a delight.

Little things add up and can become insurmountable.  I'm glad I was able to take care of these items so I can forge ahead today on the final border and start working on another area in the quilt. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 13 of Challenge 3

Yesterday I laid out most of the remaining design elements for this quilt.  I'm still happy with it and feel it really "sings".  Here's another part:

The girl's hair is only pinned on but the rest is almost finished (minus the embroidery details).  The boy has just released fireflies from the jar he is holding in his right hand.
I also just read a national quilting magazine, one that I like, and it has confirmed in me that I am not a designer that creates works that will sell.  Although I like to say that my style is "neo-traditional", I think others would disagree with me.  I looked enviously at the quilts in that magazine, momentarily wished that they were mine, but eventually accepted the truth.  My style is mine, my family and loyal friends and supporters like it, but it's too, what?, complicated? artsy? individual? for most.

The wonderful thing about taking part in this contest is that I'm all right with loving and making bed quilts designed by others and with enjoying designing and making unique quilts for my small circle.  I've not only learned who I am as a designer, but I have also learned to appreciate my own creations.  

Lucky me! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 10 0f Challenge 3

This blog has been silent for a few days as I have been sewing like mad.  I thought you might like to see a snippet of what I have done so far. 

While I do not have to keep a deep dark secret this time, I won't tell you everything I'm planning until the things work - or don't.  In this case, my plan worked (sort of), and I'm very pleased with my barn owl.

No, he isn't blind; that would be a dreadful thing to do to an owl!  After the quilting is done, he will have beads for his eyes.  His head also looks a little lop-sided, but that's because of the photo angle.  He is made from 17 pieces, 10 different fabrics, and the construction was an experiment since I'd never tried anything quite this small and complex before.  

I decided that I would have to use "Lite Steam-a-Seam", a two-sided sheet with adhesive on both sides, make him on muslin, and then mount him on my quilt background.  I was afraid to mount him directly on the background because I don't have enough of that material to re-make it if something went wrong, I wasn't sure what would happen to that background after multiple liftings and replacings of parts of the owl (all that stickiness might cause real problems), and finally, machine appliqueing all those little parts (think of the dark brown, open ring around the white face!) would be much easier before mounting it on the background. 

Everything worked except one thing.  One technique I am employing quite freely in this quilt is trapunto (a technique in which part of the design is padded and, therefore, raised giving a more dimensional effect) which I've always loved.  Years ago I was going to make myself a skirt with a deep trapunto border - "was" is the operative word - it never happened.  Anyway, I thought I would put my batting between the owl and the muslin because I know that quilting through sticky backings is death for the person doing the final quilting.  I reasoned that my applique stitches would act as quilting (my quilter could then ignore the owl), and the owl would be just as I wanted him.  That idea worked fine until I ironed the owl to the muslin.  BIG mistake;  polyester batting melts into a thin, solid pad!   Owl is only slightly raised, but there is no way I am going to try to pry the bits of owl off or start over at this point. 

Another lesson learned.

Don't hesitate to add your comments - either on the site by clicking on Comment or by e-mail by clicking on the envelope icon.  I'd love to hear from you!


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Eight days into Challenge 3

Looking at the title I've given today's blog is scary; it's written the day before it's posted so since today is Saturday, the title is accurate.  At 11:35 Colorado time, an e-mail arrived telling me I would move on into Challenge 3.  I opened that e-mail Saturday, September 10, after returning from visiting family.  Among other things, I learned that I would have to make a quilt "inspired by the lyrics to any well-recognized song". 

What on earth have I been doing since that moment?  First I had to think of a song I knew that would be "well-recognized".  Operatic arias aren't generally well-recognized.  "Tutti Frutti"  not only wouldn't be well-recognized, nor would it inspire a winning quilt!  "Hey, Jude" is more likely to be recognized, but I couldn't imagine a quilt to go with it that I'd want to make.  Gilbert and Sullivan certainly wouldn't work, either.  Of course, after a while, I did hit upon a song I could use that would be perfect for me, but by that time I was nearly frantic.  I'm accustomed to have inspiration come knocking quickly.  This one wasn't so easy.

However, once I latched upon the right song, the idea was quick to follow.  The sketch was drawn and revised - no copying needed for this pattern, but I needed to visit fabric shops, and check with my quilter to make sure my design was do-able.  Then I managed to have to launder a quilt, organize my space, find my tracing paper (hence the need to organize - again!), preview fabrics, trace my pattern pieces, cut those pieces out, and finally, Friday I constructed my background . . . 

Sounds awful, doesn't it?  Believe it or not, this is the way I normally begin a project - especially if it's one of my own design.  It's partly overcoming fear, partly letting the ideas really settle into place, and partly overcoming inertia.  

Today the machine applique process began.  Now the quilt will begin to take form, my excitement will build, and each day my eagerness to get to work on it will escalate.  I will get frustrated at how slowly the sewing advances as I add piece after piece.  I don't work quickly because I want to work carefully.  Mistakes will happen, but I don't want them to happen because I was sewing at a breakneck speed and suddenly wound up in Block Island, totally out to sea!

And, in case I should forget, there's everyday life.  David is so patient with me and so helpful around the house, but he has things he has to do, too.  So the phone will ring, the cat will need to be fed, and the laundry will need to be done.  I do have a schedule, but I'm already behind by one day.  That should be something I can make up.

I hope.

I'll let you know! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Spring Cleaning in September?

Okay, some of you will be wondering what in earth I'm up to now.  Cleaning?  Doesn't she have a quilt to make?  Spring cleaning - you're a bit late, aren't you?  Believe me, those thoughts went through my head yesterday!

Here's what happened.  Last spring, I decided I wanted to wash my king-size quilt - a year on the bed is enough, I thought.  Then I dithered (which I do very well!) about how to wash it.  First of all, it was a quilt, for heaven's sake, and aren't they sacred or something?  It is the first one I made for us so it seems very special.  Secondly, when would I have the time to do whatever needed to be done?

Of course, there are many, many sites out there all eager to tell you the only way to wash a quilt as I found out after doing some research.  Don't worry.  I am not going to hold forth on the proper way to wash your quilt.  You can have the fun of doing your own research.  Who am I to deny you any pleasure?  

It just strikes me as funny that having found out the way to wash a quilt that would cause me the least heartache and work, it took me until today to do it.  It's taken that long for me to find the time.  Even more difficult, it's taken me that long to get a weather forecast that promises 3 days of good weather when I have the time.  Well, all right, I don't really have the time, but it is September!

Our Garden quilt drying in the garden - almost "in", anyway.

And it doesn't need three whole days to dry, either (it's dry now after maybe 18 hours).  So basically, I could have done this chore last spring when the weather was nice!  Sigh. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Special Lady, the Queen of Applique

Last night there was a party at Flying Geese to say good-bye to Pat Cunningham who is leaving the shop.  It was a lovely party hosted by the gracious ladies of Pat's Applique Club (Pat is the Queen of Applique).  Being a titular member of the club they did allow me in the door though I haven't done any applique since my last Farmer's Wife block (long story). 

Be that as it may, we laughed, ate, shared stories, ate, talked about quilts, showed some projects (you should see what Mardi's been up to - oh my!), ate, laughed some more, hugged, and ate. 

Did you notice that we did a lot of eating?  You would have, too, if you'd eaten any of the salsa Mary Ellen made or tasted even a tiny morsel of Liz Poole's incredible chocolate cake.  These are ladies with a multitude of talents.  Makes one proud to be an applique-er!

There may have been a few damp eyes, but we tried to keep it light.  Pat is a lady of great charm, many gifts, a generous spirit, sharp mind, and kind heart.  I have my own stories about Pat who was my first applique teacher.  Here's one that may explain why she is so special to me.  She has championed my quilting attempts from the very first hesitant stitches and has always had an encouraging word as well as a specific compliment for anything I've done.  Her support of my designs during the McCall's Quilt Design Star Contest has been remarkable.  Because of Pat and Tara (the owner of Flying Geese), the quilts for that contest have been on display at the shop and notices have been sent to shop's e-mail listees telling them about my endeavors.  

As a hard worker who always does more than one expects and doesn't complain, Pat sets the bar high.  No matter how trying a day she's had, there's always a smile on her face and a warm welcome for whomever she meets.  She's an example for those around her, and she will be missed.   

Pat is the kind of person one would like to be when one grows up.   

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Of Mosquitoes and Quilters

Today I had hoped to include photos of our white rhododendron that blooms twice a year.  The fall bloom isn't as heavy nor are the flowers as large as in the spring, but they are still lovely.  The buds are a very pretty carnation pink and the open flowers very white against the dark rhododendron leaves.  This morning I went out with my camera and tripod, set everything up as fast as I could, and took the picture just as fast.  Then I ran for cover.

No, it wasn't raining, but the cloud of voracious mosquitoes was absolutely incredible!  I haven't seen them this bad for 25 - 30 years (and yes, I'm serious).  Once I was safely indoors, I had a moment of nostalgia for the truck that used to drive up and down our street belching anti-mosquito smoke out the back (with a horde of kids on bikes behind!).

Wonder who those people are?
It was only a momentary weakness, but our recent rains have made going outside a torture.  Anyway, I had hurried so fast taking the photos that not one is worth sharing with you.

My success story of the day is that I met with my quilter, Karen Gibbs, and that was time very well spent.  After looking over my sketches and listening to my plans for construction, she gave me some helpful information about what I can and can't do before quilting.  Not only is this her area of expertise, but she also is a quilt designer and maker (she has delightful patterns and does some amazing work) so she understood what I'm trying to accomplish.  Karen also told me that seeing the ideas beforehand helps her design the quilting.  It gives her the time to think about it and to let the ideas rise to the top.  This way she'll be better prepared when I bounce in with my finished product - especially since I need such a quick turn around.

Often I've heard people be a bit negative about using a professional quilter instead of doing one's own work.  Here are my reasons for rushing off to have someone else work on my quilt tops:

     1.  While I can design and chose colors and construct a quilt, I do not have either the experience or the eye to know what will best enhance my product.  A professional, especially one like Karen Gibbs, has both.
     2.  A professional quilter should always ask you what you think you'd like to have done and do whatever you say.  However, she or he should also make suggestions if other options might yield a better result.  She or he should also let you know if the machine on which the quilt will be quilted will not do what you think you want to have done (there are limitations).
     3.  I don't have a long-arm or a professional quilting machine nor do I want to invest in one.
     4.  I don't have a problem collaborating with another artist (and I always include information about the quilter on my labels).  Look at all the books that are written by two people!

Many times I have watched people work on hand-quilting, and I know that the day will come when I will have the time to join them again.  I love hand-sewing and I realize that the more I practice, the better I will become and the easier it will be to select the best quilting design.  However  right now, I must be realistic about my time, my abilities, and the size of some of the quilts I make (remember my discussion about my quilts-on-steroids?).

There is a place for those who quilt their own and a place for those who don't.  Neither approach is wrong; you simply need to chose what is best for you without being judgmental about what others do.       

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Azalea from our Garden in May
Love that yellow with the pink!
 Today Mary Ellen and I decided to go shopping; I needed specific fabrics for this Challenge and she was gracious enough to keep me company.  Imagine my surprise when, out of the blue, she said, "I suppose you're not going to tell me which song."  Naturally, I knew what she was talking about, but for the life of me, I couldn't imagine how she knew.  So I fudged it and replied, "What song?"

Eventually, Mary Ellen was kind enough to tell me that she hadn't suddenly developed ESP or mind-reading abilities.  As shocked as I am (I've been slinking around as though I was in possession of a state secret!), it turns out the specifics of Challenge 3 are printed on the McCall's site.  The click-able address I included in yesterday's blog as a way to check out those still involved in the contest?  Well, if you click on that address, you'll also learn about the current "problem" that is the focus of this project.

And, no, I'm not going to tell you which song, but I bought the perfect fabrics for it! 

Bonsai Azalea (not ours!) in a May Bonsai Show
The azaleas have nothing to do with this blog except to ask if any of you have rhododendrons which bloom in both spring and fall?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Check Out the Contestants

In case you don't know how to check to see which contestants are still part of the contest, just click on this to see who's still in the running:

You may be surprised at the number of finalists as I was.  The ultimate decision is going to be difficult for the judges!  Oh, don't forget to check out who won Challenge 2.

What I find really intriquing is looking at all three quilts made by each contestant (you can do that by clicking on the contestant and scrolling down to the bottom of the page).  You can see how some contestants have developed their own particular style.  It's fascinating to see how that has evolved.  I wonder if they would have been able to describe their style when the contest began.  I couldn't have done so, but I can now!

It has been such a learning experience, and I think all the contestants would agree with that.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Initial Steps for Challenge 3

"Embellishments" on a Log
It didn't seem possible Saturday when I checked my e-mail and found I had a message from McCall's.  The voting had ended on Friday, and I didn't expect to hear anything until Monday.  However, there was the message, and with some trepidation (if it had arrived so quickly, maybe it contained bad news) I opened it.  As most of you know by now, it was good news.  I am going on to the final Challenge.

Step 1: Again, I can't tell you anything about it except to say that it was nothing I expected.  It took me until that evening to decide what I wanted to use to answer the challenge and to see an image in my mind.  That image has shifted and flowed into something slightly different.

Step 2:  I expect that mental image will alter again when I start drawing it tonight or tomorrow morning.  Actually, I will probably make some very rough preliminary sketches and the main, more detailed and finished work will be done tomorrow.  

Step 3: It is during this process that I start a mental review of my stash and decide which fabrics will make this idea come to life.  Right now I haven't  settled firmly on a color palatte, but the final choice is almost made.  Once I am sure of the colors, I will start looking at fabrics - previewing them for their suitability.  It's possible I will use a wide variety of fabrics so I'll have to spend quite a bit of time sifting through various bins.  

Step 4: Then there's the problem of what techniques will suit this vision and help make it come alive.  I suspect there will be several different techniques used.  At least I think there will! 

Step 5: If I can make all these decisions rather quickly, then I can review my sketch, change whatever needs to be changed, have it copied, and get to work.  I always have my sketches copied because A) they usually need to be enlarged, and B) I often have to cut out parts for applique purposes.  I'm lucky to live in an area where there are copy centers that can do this for me.

Embellishments Close Up
Step 6: While I sew, I'll have a conversation with myself about the embellishments.  I think I've mentioned that I love to embellish my work and have to keep a tight rein on myself so I don't overdo.  The last quilt, "Daisy Makes Do", had only embroidery and a bead rattle for baby Nancy.  It was hard not to do more, but I felt neither the subject nor the style could support a lot of "fancies".  

Sounds like a long list, but I haven't added the most crucial piece.  Before I can get to Step 3, if not earlier, I have to call the person I would like to have quilt this piece for me.  She may not even be available during the time I will need her or she may not want to do this project once I tell her about it.  Or the fabrics I think I might use may cause problems or the techniques may be an issue.  What I'd really like to do is call her and ask if I can visit when my sketch, fabrics, etc. are more than a glimmer in my brain.  Then she and I can talk and see if what I'd like to do is possible and if she'd like to be a part of it.

I'll let you know (as much as I can) what happens!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Time to Reflect

Moonlight on the Water
 Today David and I actually went to a movie - something we rarely do.  I suggested it as I was tired of the gray dismals and mentioned the Woody Allen movie as a possibility.  He came back with Cowboys and Aliens, and since he was actually thinking about really going to a movie, I agreed.  Not a big deal to give up Woody Allen for Harrison Ford!

Before going to the mall, we stop at the drug store and bought some of those squooshy earplugs for reducing noise level.  We have both found that the movie theaters in malls crank the volume up so high it actually hurts our ears.  I didn't want anything to make this an uncomfortable outing.  In case you're interested, the earplugs work and the movie was quite entertaining.  David may actually be willing to try this again - yeah!

Tonight we watched the news and were once again amazed at the incredible weather and disasters plaguing the country.  Photos of flood damage in the East and fire carnage in Texas.  Then we listened to the newly released tapes of the traffic controllers on 9/11.  Following that was the announcement of the possibility of more terrorist attacks this weekend.  Then the President's speech was aired which reminds us all of the dire straits so many Americans are in.

I was glad we had gone to the movies and saw an action movie where the good guys won!

Tomorrow we are going to make a quick visit to David's dad to make sure the flooding in Otsego County hasn't created any problems for him and then swing up to visit Ann near Utica.  It will be good to get away and good to check on the well being of some loved ones.  It will also give us time to think about all those events and problems I mentioned above. 

We are so very lucky!  I need to think about the ways I can give back.  I need to reflect on all the ways in which I have been so fortunate and remember that that state of well-being can be gone in an instant.  I don't mean to worry or to scare myself, but I do mean to catalog all the gifts I experience so I can face every day with a happy heart, a warm smile, and an open mind.

I wish all of you the time to reflect on all you've been through - good and bad - and the courage to go forward no matter what.  Wish it for me and for our children, too, would you?  Thanks!   

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Remember the Designers and Studios

Have you looked through your quilting patterns recently?  Not the books but the patterns.  I re-organized mine recently and that made me really look at them.  First of all, I have to say that originally I had put my patterns in alphabetical order by the name of the pattern (not the name of the studio or designer because one doesn't usually remember those - ouch!).  Please.  Not only can I not remember the names of all the designers, I can't remember the names of the patterns either!   

My new organization method is to group by subject.  Now I have folders for Stars and Houses (two types of patterns that really appeal to me so I have quite a few of each), the different seasons, major holidays, table toppers, applique, wool, etc.  Of course, I still have a folder just labeled General (it should be called "Everything Else").  To keep my innate sense of propriety happy, I then alphabetized the folders.  My rogue side (oh, the games we play)slipped a few patterns out of their respective folders so I can see them through the plastic sides of the storage boxes (which also have typed lists of the folders in each box).  Those patterns that are peeking out of the box are the ones I want to make asap.   

The things we learn about ourselves when doing things like this - amazing.  Do you ever think that you go around half of the time on auto pilot with a brain that is in "sleep mode"?  For example, does your car ever drive itself home and bypass the gym all together?  Speaking severely to it doesn't help.  I used to try that. 

Anyway, what I really want to mention are the patterns that are peeking out at me, the ones I'm itching to get to.  Today, I took a closer look at them.  Guess what.  They're by the same designer.  Without even realizing it, I have purchased five patterns by her.  There are two florals, a holiday, one nature study, and one landscape that I purchased long before I started quilting.  The florals were purchased at the same time but none of the others were.  And she has more that I want. 

It isn't surprising that we find designers that we like so much that we want to buy all that they offer.  We have all felt that visceral tug that says, "I have to make that."  This designer has a distinctive style even though she uses several different topics and has grown with the years. What surprises me is that I was so totally oblivious.  There's no excuse.

Well, after I write to this particular designer, tell her this story, apologize to her, and get her permission to get specific, I will.  It used to drive me nuts that people can't remember or can't be bothered to remember the authors of books they love (I mean people who are still of a remembering age).  Humbly, I have to apologize to them also for my arrogance.  We should try harder.  We should at least notice!  Even though I won't always succeed, I'm going to do both.

I'll still group most of my patterns by subject matter, though.  But now there will be some that will be in folders with designers/studio names.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Here is the guest room bed with its soon-to-be-ready-for-quilting quilt.  After making the border for one side, I couldn't resist going upstairs to spread it out over the bed to see how it looks.  This pattern is Stars-on-Point by Cozy Quarters, and I just love the scrappy look of it.  Originally it was supposed to be a wall hanging or maybe a lap quilt, but the steroids attacked again (see yesterday's blog). 

While I was nearing the finish of the top itself, I chose the green homespun for the setting triangles and the border stripe fabric from the Chestnut and Vine line (don't you just love stripes?).  However, I didn't really like the green homespun next to the stripes because that combination emphasized green more than I wanted.  So I went back and found two Jo Morton's from Andover fabrics that I had used in the star blocks; one of those two was navy with beige and the other was beige with navy. 

Using the beige with navy in a one inch strip between the green setting triangles and the border stripe helped, but it still wasn't quite the look I wanted.  Then I tried adding the navy with beige (it looks almost black in this photo), and that brought in the blue again.  

While it looked good, I thought about the way I usually make my borders.  From the quilt outward I usually add a narrow strip, then maybe a medium strip, and finally the widest strip.  Do you do that, too?  No one ever taught me to do it that way.  After all, it's the way we frame our painting/art work, and it's the way most quilts are finished.  I wondered why, and what would happen if I didn't stop there.

As you can see, I repeated the beige and navy borders only reversed.  For several days, I left the fabrics layered this new way on the guest room bed where I would see it every time I walked past.  After three or more days, I still loved the look and decided to go for it.  

It seems a bit more formal in appearance than may be truly appropriate for this kind of scrappy quilt, but I like it for just that reason.  Scrappy quilts are sometimes viewed as artistically of lesser importance than quilts of traditional blocks or cohesive designs.  It may be because so many rely on a truly random approach to give them a comfortable, less formal look.  They are the quilts one feels free to wrap oneself up in. 

This quilt of mine is a combination of scrappy and traditional.  Try as I may, I can't quite allow myself to be random.  Planned randomness is the best I can do.  Secondly, this quilt, like most of mine, is a combination of fabrics.  There are reproductions, traditional, and homespun in this one.  I like the zip such a combination that gives a quilt.  So adding a formal border suits my philosophy and my eye.

None of this may work for you, but it certainly is fun to think about, isn't it?    

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Now Here's a Quandary

On Friday, August 26th, I started what I thought would be a series in rapid succession about the Carolina Lily pattern I was working on.  Funny thing about that.  Life intervened, and I didn't do any work on it until today.

Last time I showed you one part of the lily block.  Here's more though not much more as you can see.  There are now three lilies, but that was all I was able to do today.  (The laundry called my name, and then there was a meatloaf to be made.)  However, this is the major portion of the pattern we are using for this table mat. 

My quandary is whether I should continue as I had originally planned and make four of these blocks (a total of 12 lilies altogether).  The original pattern has additional borders comprised in part of some flying geese strips and some plain strips.  It would be quite a small finished piece (remember, this is for the Littles class and that's the point of it - small projects that can be easily and quickly finished).  For some reason, I seem to like larger pieces better.  Mary Ellen tells me all my Littles are on steroids as I enlarge all of them.  Anyway, I would go ahead and make it larger except for the time it would take.  I have other unfinished projects that need attention, and well, I do hope to continue on in the Contest.

If I stay with the original pattern size, how would I use the finished piece?  would I be satisfied with it?  Maybe I should applique the leaves and stems and then decide?  What do you do when you're faced with having to make this kind of decision? 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Shape We're Stuck In

Here's one of the activities that has been keeping David and me busy.  We both enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles and usually have one in progress on the game table in the family room.  When I purchased this one I was a little concerned that David wouldn't enjoy it, but we both had a great time with it.  The worry stemmed not so much from the subject matter as from the shaped border.  This was a first for us.  Square borders, diamond borders, and circular borders don't faze us.  After all, the edges are still easy to locate and put together.  This one was different.  Not only were the edges difficult to pick out but they were also difficult to put in place.  Oh, did I mention that one of our "rules" is that we aren't allowed to look at the picture on the puzzle box?  Now you can understand why this one was a particular "puzzle" for us!  As it turns out, we enjoyed it enough so David asked if we had any more like this.

Anyway, you know there's a quilt connection here.  Now, for the moment, I'm not discussing qults meant for use on a bed - rather the ones intended for display on the walls.  What keeps us from playing around with the shape of our borders?  Clearly, one issue is very obvious: how to hang a quilt that's shaped like a sewing machine?  Or a spool of thread, or a basket, or any other shape?  It isn't the shape of the quilt that's the problem; it's the hanging of it.

So let's think more creatively about that.  If you made a quilt the shape of the puzzle pictured above, the hanging bar would stretch very nicely behind the top of the machine.  Would the wheel at the right side cause a problem?  Possibly.  Could one resolve that by using one of the heavier interfacings or a wire inserted in the binding?  I think so as long as whatever one used wasn't so heavy that it caused the wheel to be pulled down by the weight.  And possibly the wheel would not be an issue at all.  

All right, that one was relatively easy.  What if your shape was even more difficult?  What if the support system showed intermittently along the top? The most simple thing is to decide whether having the support system visible is really a problem.  A rod could be painted the color of the wall to make it disappear.  Or it could be wrapped in the fabric that was used in the binding which we're used to having in evidence.  The rod could be decorated in a way that complements the subject matter of the quilt.  

Failing all else, if the hanging of a quilt seems insurmountable, why not just throw it across a table, the back of a sofa, the foot of a bed?  

The biggest question here is:  Why let the hanging of a quilt keep us from experimenting with the shape of that quilt?  We are so accustomed to the square/rectangular shapes of our traditional blocks that we fail to see that there are indeed other options open to us.  Yes, the straight edges of the familiar are easier to execute, but why not take the leap?  Why not play with the shape of our quilts  if  the subject matter warrants it.  Wouldn't it be fun to design a quilt like the puzzle above?  

If you can't respond in the blog, you can always email me (most of you have that address already).  I'd love to hear what your thoughts are on this subject.      

By the way, we're going to a wedding in Buffalo this weekend so there won't be any new blog entries until next week.  It also means that I won't be able to vote.  Will you be sure to vote for me, please?