Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Garment Day & Halloween Towels

Before I start on the towels, I have to report two good things that happened today.  Very quickly, I found the binding strips for the quilt I need to bind this month.  That means if I can plan my time and if I have no surprises, I can complete that task before October.  

And a garment day yielded positive results. Good progress was made on D's shirt.  It isn't finished yet, but I believe the machine sewing is at least half done in one day of work.  The second day will complete the machine sewing while a third day will see the shirt's handwork done (in the evening so it doesn't have to be done on a garment day saving time) and voila!  D will be able to wear it!

Meanwhile, I have given R the two Halloween towels I embroidered for her:

And today I began another one which I will show when it is finished. This one is a witch, and I haven't decided whether daughter will receive it or if it will live with us. It doesn't belong to the ghost family, but it is a Halloween theme.  

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Painting Day, New Work

D asked me if I would undertake a new painting from our trip to Italy that would have some cedars in the composition.  That was an easy request as if one takes photos in Italy one would be hard put not to includes cedars in at least one photograph.  So all I had to do was find one photo that I would enjoy working with.

After running through the photos I settled on one I've already painted for the friends who were kind enough to be our tour guides.  I think this is the first time I have chosen to repeat a subject, but I chose to use two photos for one painting.  

The repeated photo is of Montalcino, a hill town, and the added photo is a landscape in the same area.  I did this for a few reasons.  First, it would would be a challenge to merge the two images thereby making me really think about composition.  Second, that same merger would also make it a new painting, and it would be like doing the same thing over again.

Here's the painting I did for our friends:

And here is the first pass of the one for David.  You'll have to look carefully because it's very light.  It's just the first wash which lays out the composition and gives me a chance to see if it will work.

I think it will work.  This layout is one to which I am quite partial, and it makes it clear (or will) that Montalcino is a hill town.  D's cedars aren't in evidence yet, but they will be.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Treasures in a Storage Bin

The "Bamboo Forest Stroll" painting is off to the framers as of this morning even though we aren't sure (or I'm not, anyway) where it will hang once framed.  Garden Room?  Master bedroom?  Or will it become a replacement for a painting now on our walls when we feel the need for a change?

On our way home from that errand we stopped and picked up two more of my fabric bins from the storage area.  So, in addition to the laundry, sorting through those two bins became my task for the day.  Oh, did I have fun!

The fabrics in the bins were sorted before being placed in storage, but I'm trying to winnow my stash even more.  It isn't easy, but I was able to identify some fabrics and/or projects with all necessary fabrics worth keeping. Others were set aside for re-sale (at an oh-so-modest price, of course).  

Projects for which I have gathered supplies but haven't started yet are a handkerchief quilt and a Ricky Tims ("Convergence").  Both of those are definite keepers.  A Pineapple quilt in batiks (surprise!) and a Friendship Star quilt are the two that had already been started, and therefore will be put on my monthly to-do list at some point.  Realistically, they will probably not appear on that list until 2018, but I am looking forward to finishing them.

My choice of  fabrics for the Friendship Star quilt (a pattern that appeals to me a lot) is surprising and may be to you also.

It is made with a dark Japanese floral fabric and all the others have fonts.  Neither of those fabric types are what would amaze you.  What would are the colors.  They are so opposed to my usual brights. These, by contrast, could be called drab.

But aren't they beautiful!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

An Important Project Completed

The donation quilt for a young boy is finished!  It's a bit too big for a twin bed, but it will be usable.  It spreads out almost to the edges of our bed so it will be more like a bedspread than a blanket.  

It's what happens when you don't use a pattern and don't bother to look up bed sizes.  Fool that I am!  

At least it's bright and cheerful!

While it's completion enables me to check off another project on my To Do List for September, that's not the important thing.  To me the thought that this quilt just might make some little boy warm, comfortable, and maybe a happy is what matters more.

Friday, September 22, 2017

New Look at an Old(ish) Quilt

The quilt I had intended to work on remains missing in action (or maybe I should say in "inaction").  But all is not lost.  There are plenty of other quilts that need attention, and I am sure that the one I put on my list will be located sometime (probably in the bin at the bottom of the pile).  

Instead of "Women's Voices" (the name of the missing quilt), today I pulled out a donation quilt for a little boy that I started three years ago (I think). All blocks are made and two of eight rows were already sewn.  Despite the inevitable time spent organizing the pieces, figuring out what the notes made three years ago mean, and changing the sewing machine from buttonholes to quilt work, four .  more rows were sewn this afternoon.

However, there is something I am both perplexed by and excited about.  While looking for the missing quilt, I found a bag hiding behind the bi-fold door of my stash closet. 

"Ha, you little sly one," I said as I pulled it out.  "You thought you'd avoid the big upheaval of tidying, didn't you, but now you're in for it!  Since you missed simply being put in a bin without further interrogation, you have have my undivided scrutiny!"

And I dumped the contents onto my cutting table.  And there was something I had totally forgotten about to the extent that I didn't even recognize it at first.  Here it is after being ironed:

(Yesterday the bamboo painting was too dull and today this is too bright).  In a class at a quilt shop that is no longer in business, I started this wall hanging.  It is part of what is called a "watercolor" quilt because of its use of lights and darks.  This is only one-quarter of the pattern.  It is mostly hand sewn which, since I was still working at that time, is probably why it was put away.  The notes on the left side identify the number of the row and where its matching row should go.

Now I have to figure out what I want to do with what I have. The bag may have all the fabric I need to complete the other three quadrants to finish the intended pattern, or it may not.  I haven't checked that thoroughly partly because I'm not sure I want to adhere to the pattern.  But if not that, then what?

Gail Perry has patterns and books on watercolor quilts filled with ideas on what can be done with small squares of different values.  If I am correct, her ideas tend toward impressionist landscapes and still lives.  Those two options don't intrigue me.

I'm thinking more geometric.  Maybe.  

Clearly, I shouldn't do anything yet!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Another Day of Ups and Downs

Yesterday I talked (briefly) about the title of the most recent painting saying that I shouldn't have rushed the process.  

Having said that, you'd think I could take that lesson and apply it to another situation, right?  Well, since it's me, no.

Today I had two jobs I thought I could work on.  There's one more binding, and one quilt to work on.  The binding strips I cut yesterday need to be sewn together, and the quilt needs to have maybe half of its blocks finished.  While eating breakfast, the binding strips won the toss.

Then I went upstairs.

The work surface had fabric all over it because for some reason which I still can't remember, yesterday after sewing buttonholes, I decided to rearrange my batiks.  No work could be done until I finished that chore.  So I did. There were discoveries - such as I have more pinks than I thought I did (which I thought was zero), and I have many fewer purple than I should have (a mountain would be about right).  Again an "and" - I don't think I need to buy any batiks for quite a while!

There wasn't enough time to work on the quilt, but I thought I'd get it out and ready.  You probably know what happened next.  I couldn't find it!  Remember that I have made great strides in getting the studio organized?  Clearly I have organized that quilt away.

If I can't find it tomorrow, I may have to pull out another unfinished quilt to work on.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Progress Made!

Our computers have been on the fritz since the end of last week.  D had to take his computer and its appendages to the Geek Squad for repair which meant that I was without Internet capability.  

It's good to be back online.

During the days without computers, I found I did have a little more time (no card games, email, or Facebook which probably gave me an additional hour and a half a day).  The list of projects did not go down, but work on them was significant.  For example, today is garment day, and D's shirt now has buttonholes and will, after this entry is posted, have buttons.  It will be wearable!

Then there is the painting which isn't covered on the List.  During the past week, the painting also received attention.  Here's how it appeared in last week's blog.

During the week, I worked hard at trying to get it at least close to finished.  I wanted to be sure it had a chance of being completed during class.  This is what I took on Tuesday:

It was finished in class, and here it is!

Now signed and dated it is called "Bamboo Forest Stroll".  

Okay, I should have waited longer before putting that title on this painting, but well, the need to call it "done" yelled louder.  Lesson learned?  I hope so!

Friday, September 15, 2017

One More Check Mark

Today I think I have come to terms with my dislike of binding - the final stage of making a quilt.  First, for anyone who doesn't already know, I am the diva of ducking the finishing stage of quilt making.  There are innumerable unfinished quilts languishing in our home - most of them needing only a binding.

You may also remember that on my September to-do list of projects there are two binding chores (I am smart enough to know that listing more than two might have been the kiss of death for the entire idea of the to-do list).  Yesterday I began working on the first quilt for which I had already at least made the binding.  I machine stitched binding to quilt but decided to leave half finished until I purchased thread that would match the binding material more closely than any I have.  Today, I decided to forge ahead and just use what I have and get the job done.

Also, I have always found making a totally smooth joining of the binding strips an iffy business at best.  Sometimes it went well; sometimes it was a disaster.  The more experience I had, the better it went - most of the time.  BUT there were times when it really mattered that it didn't go well at all, and I think the more uptight I got about it, the more it didn't work.

However, I have finally found a truly foolproof (well, all right, one really has to follow directions carefully!) method, and oh, how my heart sings to see the joining smooth and fitting perfectly!  That took away a bit of my dislike and delay in "finishing".

Next there is the issue of machine stitching BOTH sides of the binding.  Typically one machine stitches one side in a way that can't be seen and by hand blind-stitches the back side of the binding to the back of the quilt.  I've experimented with machine stitching both sides of a quilt.  That can make the stitching either semi-hidden or (as I prefer) visible and decorative.  It's also much faster.  Guess which one I like to do!

Here is a close up of machine-stitched binding.  It is a curlicue pattern you have to look closely to see on the edge of the quilt.  It's a view of the edge of the quilt as it would appear at a casual glance.

This machine stitching is deemed of lesser value, something that simply isn't done, and it is not accepted as appropriate.  Oh well.  They used to say that about machine quilting as opposed to hand quilting.  Here's what I realized; I don't like hand sewing binding.  It is tedious.  It is not stitching that adds to the beauty of a quilt by its presence because the hand sewing isn't visible if done correctly.  Indeed, I thought to myself, it's like sewing the hem in a skirt - another job of finishing I never enjoyed doing.  Light bulb moment: I like a creative not a routine approach.

Below is another view of the edge of the quilt, and in this view you can't see that I did the machine stitching on the front.  

So here are today's revelations:

1.  Having lumps where binding ends meet really drive me bonkers.  Question: Why continue to sew them as taught?  Answer: No one cares or notices the method only the result.  Solution: Use the method that really works and that satisfies that perfectionist soul within.

Donation Quilt for a Female Veteran
2.  Hand sewing binding is a chore I thoroughly dislike.  Question: So why do it?  Answer: It isn't accepted by judges.  Solution: Hand sew ONLY bindings on quilts that will be judged!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Not Exciting but Satisfying!

It was a busy day with the construction men back in to take care of odds and ends left from their last work as well as a couple of things D wanted done.  

While they were working, I went off to Her Treasure Box (craft shop run to raise money to help victims of human trafficking) with a bag of some material, craft items, and unopened patterns.  It also gave me an opportunity to see the apartment in the same building that the owner has allowed Her Treasure Box to use rent free.  What a great space!  Until they have women who need a place to live, the apartment will be used for meetings and as a classroom space.

And that's why I was invited up to see the apartment because I will teach watercolor painting in there on Saturday.  I've done it before but in the shop itself which is quite dark so I am looking forward to having the class in such a lovely space full of light.

Once home again I was able to spend time in the studio and make some more inroads on my to-do list.  It is with some pride I say that I pinned the binding on a quilt made some time ago.  Tomorrow I will sew it on.  May not seem like much, but to someone like me who really doesn't like to do binding, it's huge!

It helps that my best friend and I each have project lists and that we keep track of the progress each other makes.  Having a cheer leader is great!

Oh, and I found the buttons for the shirt so now I can make the buttonholes!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Shirt

Another day working on my list of projects, and I am very pleased.  I have one of D's shirts almost completed, and if it were not for the lack of buttons, it would be finished.  There are plenty of buttons in my stash that would be suitable for a basic shirt, but this isn't a work-in-the-garden or clean-the -basement shirt.  Of course, it also isn't a go-to-an-important-meeting or even a celebrate-an-important-occasion shirt.

This is the type of shirt it is:

The purple leaves are bamboo, and there are other skeletal leaves in white.  In the gray patches there appears to be  Korean writing, and in the golden yellow patches there is either Chinese or Japanese writing.  So to me it is a Bonsai type of shirt.

However, only D will be able to describe its true "kind of shirt".

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bamboo Forest Painting - More Growth

Today was a slow day for me at painting class.  First, I had accomplished quite a bit with my quilting but nothing in the painting realm.  That has been the way has been for the past several - well, for a long time.  

Anyway, because of that I had not reached any conclusion about the color for the second woman's kimono.  Originally, I had painted (in my studies) her in the color she was actually wearing (red purple with yellow designs) when I snapped the photo, but I really didn't like it.  I didn't like the colors or the combination, but I especially didn't like it next to the lady in the red kimono.

While I was mulling the problem over, I worked on the roadway, the wooden railing, and the thatching.  Those last two items made the barrier between the public and the bamboo.  Originally, I wasn't going to add the barrier but wound up feeling the composition needed it.

Then I tried out some possible kimono color combinations on scrap paper.  When Sharon came by, she and I discussed the ones I had and tried a few more.  Before the end of class I was able to paint the first kimono washes.

Oh dear, on my screen it looks like an orange and a blue; I hope it show up better when posted.  The lady on the right is wearing red and the one on the left is in a blue-purple kimono.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Three Steps Forward . . .

Three steps forward sometimes mean at least two steps back.  While the list is moving in the right direction, every now, and then it takes a step in a direction that wasn't planned.  

Yesterday, for instance, I was ready to tackle a sewing job that is not a favorite when I discovered I didn't know where my interfacing was and I couldn't proceed without it.  Before I knew it, I was pulling all my stabilizers, battings, and fusibles out of my closet.  WOW!  I had no idea I had so much!  By the time I had it all out, I realized that I had to purchase a new storage bin to hold my stash of - well what is the correct noun to cover what I found?  In the meantime, I grouped like things together in clear garbage bags so now I can find what I didn't know I had!

Okay, did I find interfacing?  Nope. So I thought I should put the project in its appointed place and start something else.  Of course, when the fabric was replaced in that pile of similar projects, I found the interfacing I had been looking for before getting distracted by organizing all that batting and stuff! Frustrating on the one hand, but on the other hand, a task was completed that I hadn't even thought of doing!

Hmmm . . . wonder if I can put it on my list so I can cross it off?  


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Progress on Projects

After making a HUGE amount of soup, I spent the rest of the morning sorting and putting away my collection of embroidery threads.  Why I was so astonished that it took me until lunch time to finish that task I don't know.  Everything takes longer than I expect!

At least I had time in the afternoon to finish a project I started a few days ago.  While tidying the studio, I came across a series (or part of a series) of banner patterns I bought several years ago.  The pattern that caught my eye initially was the September banner of a school house.  It was shown sewn in a red homespun plaid set on the diagonal, and it was charming!  I didn't want to do it that way even though I love homespuns because I wanted to use my collection of fabrics with printing: letters, words, script, etc.  Even though this was not on my official list of Six Items to Complete, I started it anyway.  After all, it is September!

Even though I set the bell cupola too low and may not have room for a school bell charm, I do like the way it came out complete with typewriter keys roof and a ruler door.  

So I put it on my list and then crossed it off; one down for September!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Painting and Crazy Quilting

What a wonderfully busy day!  So I'm back to my usual pursuits of painting and quilting and those two pursuits filled my day.  As the first Tuesday of the month I had both my morning painting class which is a weekly occurrence and the once a month Tuesday crazy quilt class in the afternoon.  

After several, okay, more that several studies of the Bamboo Forest painting, today I started all over. My first run at the forest itself was no more than that - a first run.  There was no way it was worth going on with.  The second and the third were along the same line - trying new paint mixtures to get the color for the bamboo, the women's kimonos, and in the last couple of "studies", the composition was not quite right (the proportion of the paper to my subject was off).  Also, I had not been satisfied with the size of the two women; they were simply too small.  

So after doing nothing on it for a couple of weeks, I decided to start all over.  Here you see the women have a greater share in the space than in previous attempts.  Also, after chatting with Sharon I made the decision to put the barrier between walkers and the bamboo forest itself back in the painting.  While it doesn't seem as though I got very far, the decisions that we discussed took time as did the women and the new bottom edge.  It's on its way.

Then I met my best friend for lunch (always a good time).  It's the first time we've done that, and I hope it will become a habit - at least as often as we can.  Then off to the quilt shop where we have our class. The block honoring my sister has been a struggle since I started.  I feel so guilty that I didn't know her as well as I should have.  The block for my mother sailed along and so did the one for my great-grandmother who I didn't know at all.   I hope I have broken through the wall with today's work.  What you see below is only about half of the block where a finished the lower portion of the garden beneath her photo.

Once again, today I was reminded that working in a group is very helpful.  Ideas are bounced around and sometimes the mere chatter about what each person is doing is helpful to say nothing about sharing opinions on everything from materials to colors to composition.  

Let's hope it works!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Hello Again!

It's been a very long time since I've written and that is only partly due to the number of summer activities involving family, friends, and house work.  The other part is that - possibly because of those activities - I have done almost no painting or quilting. 

If it sounds as though I am feeling down about that, I'm not.  Having time with friends and family is such a bonus and makes me very happy.  The house work was more than the usual; you know, dusting, vacuuming, laundry, or other things of that sort.  Over the course of all renovations, lots of odds and ends wound up in my studio in with all my clutter.

That's was really did me in.  I couldn't, simply could not, work in that room in that state so I spent a few hours every possible day for the next couple of weeks.  All is neat-enough (meaning it isn't perfect), semi-organized (meaning I know where most things are), and I am back to sewing.

Painting?  Only during classes which isn't a good idea but is the only time I've had lately.  That too should change with the end of summer.  I should be able to find a few more hours in the week now.

All is well and good!