Wednesday, January 29, 2020

A Finished UFO: A Deconstruction

In trying to make room in my cabinets for piles on the floor, I found this sort of completed quilt. It's from my Jinny Beyer/batik period, probably 2012-ish. Jinny Beyer is a genius with texture, color, and light; I have learned much from her. But then I get cheap about buying kits for patterns. So this quilt is her pattern but from my stash. And I love it. But as I was quilting it, frustration set in. Let me sing this quilt's praises but also point out its issues and what I intend to do.    
I practiced my stippling technique, working with thread color that blended right in.


But since I quit stippling, this quilt still needed quilting.  So I got out my No 5 Milliner's needles and my No 8 Perle cotton

The stippling and machine quilting look great from the front.
But look at the back.  I don't mind the stippling but the tension for my straight-line quilting was obviously off.

So the stippling and hand stitched will live side by side.

Should I take out these icky stitches or just call it finished?  All I know is that its out of the cabinet and looking for an owner.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Baby Quilts: Get Happy! and Two Little Koalas and Bright and Sunny




Baby quilts are one of my favorite things to do.  They are small, fairly easy to quilt, and - most importantly - keep me focused on possibilities of the future. My nephew Chris and his wife are having a little girl pretty soon.  Pink was the color of choice.  Guildmate and current Chicago Modern Quilt Guilt president Laura McDowell Hopper posted this quilt, "Get Happy!" on the We All Sew website.  There's a second Get Happy! quilt in the works for my niece who is having her baby a month later!




Two Koalas, an Elizabeth Hartman pattern, is complete.  I struggled with how to quilt this and finally took a tip from Lady Macbeth:  be bloody, bold, and resolute.  I dropped the feed dogs and free motioned the background.  And I must say it is spectacular.  The wool batting makes the quilting pop.  A word about Elizabeth Hartman patterns:  they are terrific.  I was a bit taken aback when friends with a pregnant daughter in Perth, Australia, asked for a quilt with an animal on it.  I wanted to say, "Wait, I don't do cute."  But then I found this pattern and have fallen in love with the cuteness.  So I guess I do do cute!








Evenings I am working on this beautiful log cabin.

And another baby quilt!  I'm quilting it right now - it will be for Helios's new little sibling.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Three in Process and One Actual Finish!

These peppered shot cottons are so gorgeous.  They will be a special quilt for my little Cristina.  I am finally deciding - I think - to do 12" clams.  This project won't be a quick one...

Cristina's little nephew Helios is getting a new sibling soon.  Helios's baby quilt is pictured here .  His parents seemed to like these fabrics, and I just happen to have more!
This baby quilt for my nephew and his wife just needs binding - I'll do an official post soon.  

Last, every year quilty Beth find a linen calendar for her friends.  Every year I come home and hem this tea towel.  They then are mounted on the kitchen door.  I was a bit slow on the draw this year, and John had to ask me twice to get this done.  I think he really likes this year's calendar.  I do, too.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Sew Powerful

My work for Sew Powerful for 2020 has begun with this pretty six pink purses.  The goal of Sew Powerful this year is to have 2,020 purses ready for the November 1, 2020 deadline.  I'm thinking 6 purses a month is a good goal.  These 6 purses represent 3 days worth of cutting, interfacing, and sewing.  How perfect to be able to sew, aid a community, reach out to young girls, and be a part of this Sew Powerful team!

Monday, January 13, 2020

ADD Quilting: A Usual for January

January I get nuts. I want to do everything. I want to make everything. So my wise sister said "Focus." This is my attempt to focus.  
A year ago the Canadian Quilters Association began a block a week. See #52blocks52weeks. Every Tuesday a new block would be released. And pretty soon I couldn't get on with the week until I had that Tuesday block made. Because I have so many scraps, I worked strictly out of my scrap pile. I do love the blocks individually. But I put them up on the design wall against a lovely background. And...I don't love it. I don't hate it either. Would these blocks be better featured in an Attic Windows setting? Maybe... They are coming down. I think they need to rest.
What's going up on the wall is this little happy quilt of exclamation points designed by the current Chicago Modern Quilt Guild president Laura McDowell Hopper.  Laura designed this block to be paper pieced but I just pieced and now have 28 blocks.


While starting new projects and putting fabrics away, I came across this quilt.  Years ago I was trying to learn to free-motion quilt.  And this was my practice piece.  It's maybe half quilted, and I realized two things.  One:  I don't like doing free-motion quilting.  Buddy Wayne is a genius at it and tried to coach me through.  But I am not happy doing it.  Two:  I realized how much I didn't like the tension of the machine I was using.  So I just put it away.  I do think it is pretty, and it's a good size, maybe 70" square.  So I am adding some stitches with No 8 Perle cotton and will then bind it.  I think it might belong in my sister's house.
And speaking of adding stitches, Nikki's quilt was finished for a couple of weeks. And the delivery was postponed several times over the holidays. A few days before gifting it, I decided it need some hand stitching, and I was very happy with the results. It was a peaceful way to welcome in the new year!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

So Many Quilts (for 2020) - Part 2



What a lovely holiday season.  I love Winter, and I love Christmas.  I love that John decorates.  Here's what I look at every morning - the glam clam of shot cottons, the elliptical drunkard's path (relegated to over a chair since a quilted Christmas tree is in its place the the wall), and John's pretty little bird tree.

2019 has been a lot of hand quilting.  It's my new nightly passion.  Quilters are always looking ahead to their next projects.  And I am always making sure that I have something to hand quilt in my queue.






But in the studio during the day I've been working on various projects that I haven't necessarily been documenting.  It's been more important to sew than to blog.  The current political scene is just maddening and polarizing.  My escape and sanity has been my sewing.  Lots of period purses this year.  And lots of backpacks, the latest one is pictured here.  It's a great pattern, but you can not tune out or go on automatic pilot for one minute because there are so many sequential steps.  The total concentration they require has suited me in the past few months.  And these little koalas!!!  I tend to not do fussy or cute.  But these little bears - so so cute.  I can't decide which child gets the scotch...

In organizing projects that I want to start, I came across this quilt top.  It's 78" x 88".
 Now, should I add an extra border just to make it bigger?  or is this quilt complete.  I'm leaning towards the latter although I do have more of the lighter fabrics. One thing is for sure - I have a plan for quilting it!  And now I don't have to panic about what to quilt next.

The quilting of the black, grey, and white log cabin is going faster than I anticipated.  I am loving what the off-center spiral quilting is doing to the linear layout of the blocks.

As I put away remnants of previous projects and began in earnest to put projects into my queue, I think I go overboard.  But each one of the following projects is one I want to do.  Some will be for people, and some just because it's what I have to do.

Getting back to Sew Powerful purses is a top priority.  Here's a pink group - 

and a red-orange group.  Then various purse parts can be mixed and matched.

I'm not done with shot cottons.  Here's a Roy G Biv collection.  I'm  thinking about design and the accompanying quilting.

These are 5" squares.  Leave them whole?  Half-square triangles?  Mix of both? For a grandson

This pile of pretty Bella cottons will be a full-size Interwoven.  Still assembling colors

My Orlando nephew is having a baby girl this spring.  Thinking...

Baby Koala must be quilted within a week.  It will be heading to Australia.

I think this lovely jelly roll of Zen Chic's Mood Modern Background and charm pack will make for a terrific baby quilt.

2019 was terrific personally and tragic politically.  I'm both eager and afraid for 2020.  But I do have great faith in humanity.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

So.Many.Quilts. Part 1

 My love affair with peppered shot cottons has ended.  I took all my leftovers from various projects and made this Fence Rail design.  Since this quilt is going to my nephew in Orlando, I batted it with a very light polyester and then hand-quilted with No. 8 Perle cotton.
 This quilt is 75" x 85"
 And it's been a dream to work on.  I have held this quilt in my lap most evenings for the past 10 weeks.  It's so satisfying to see the dimension the hand-quilting adds.  
I just need a label and to wash it before packing and sending it.  Very satisfying, and a bit sad. Here's what will be taking its place in my lap for the next few months.
 These log cabin blocks were started last winter - 14 black and white, 14 grey and white, and 14 black and grey, each with a red center.  These diagonal furrows appeal to my eye.
 In looking over my various backings, one that I bought - I think by mistake - works with this quilt.  And more important, it has the right feel.  

 I love that my work tables are on locking casters and can easily be reconfigured, especially for pin-basting.
 The batting is Warm and Natural, an all-cotton batting that is fairly heavy.  I'm not saying the polar vortex is coming back again this winter.  But if it does, you'll know where to find me - right under this quilt as I work on itl.
A grapefruit spoon is a great way to work with safety pins and saves the fingers and nails.  

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Looking Around the Studio

This time of the year that makes me think about what needs to be finished before I start anything else. Many  quilters, including ones in my guild, are so good about setting goals for the year and then analyzing how well they accomplished these goals.  One Quilty - yes, I'm talking about Laura Hartrich - has even made a quilt of how well she did on one year's goals.  While I am impressed, I have no desire to even begin that sort of heavy- duty thinking! With some minor talk of moving and downsizing (no, it's not happening - yet...), I have begun to cull through books and gadgets I don't use to find new owners.  This book?  It's lovely.  My sister got it for me before we left for Kenya.  It' beautiful - it just needs a new owner!


I came across this quilt top I started last spring. Quilty Eileen used this pattern and shared her ruler with me. It was perfect for the cake layer of fabrics I had.  The gentle taupe, teal, grey, and whites appealed to me.  So did this unique way of working with hexagons.  It's all pin-basted and I'm doing my own machine-quilting on this.  The batting is Warm and Natural, and this quilt is heavy.  I can only work on it in small stretches.  But I like how it's turning out and am mostly glad it will be finished soon.
Here's the same family of fabrics used in a different way.  Ever since I discovered hand-quilting, I look for things I can work on in the summer.  Holding a quilt to work on in the winter is heaven, especially in this house.  But in the summer not so much.  Here's a link to my blog post from last January when these blocks were in process.  Now?  Each one is quilted and needs to be joined to the others.  Currently it's in three rows.  This will be 85" x 85".  One of my favorite things about this quilt and the reversible process is the back.  Each block is backed with a different Art Gallery fabric and batted with wool.  Now, what to do with these two quilts?  TBD...

And finally, another apology for all the times I have said I don't do cute.  Because I do!  Look at this little pink koala who eats red eucalyptus leaves.  My sister was holding her sick granddaughter Eloise when I was finishing the koala baby quilt.  Elo was curious if koalas could be pink or purple.  So in the midst of trying to downsize my stuff and finish up UFO's (another post is coming tomorrow...), I needed her to know that yes, Koalas can be pink.