Sunday, April 8, 2018

Spring and Summer Plans: Quilts

There are so many fabrics I want to work with and turn into quilts.   I do think - more than anything - the fabrics determine the design of the quilt.  Like so many quilters, I have a constant love affair with fabrics - and my budget doesn't allow me to keep up with everything that I crush on.  However, a good compromise are the precuts that several companies are doing.  For example, there is a collection, Catnip by Gingiber, that has caught my eye despite the name of this collection.  

Look at these variations on black and white and beige.  I love the variation in scale as well as the designs.  These four charm packs and a jelly roll (42 strips of 2.5" fabrics in the same collection) will make something terrific.
Catnip by Gingiber

Another collection I love is Fragile by Zen Chic.  This collection is mostly black and white with a pop of bright yellow and a touch of turquoise.  I used this collection to make a baby quilt for Cristina's new little nephew Helios - look at it here.  I have already started making blocks.  These to the left are 8.5" x 14.5"  A layout could be subway-tile style or a straight stack. A neutral background could be used sparingly to calm down the bright yellow and dotted prints. 

Fragile by Zen Chic

 The third collection of fabrics is also by Zen Chic, German designer Brigitte Heitland. Obviously, I love her eye for design and scale. This fabric line is Modern Background *Luster* and is one I used for my stepdaughter Julie's guest room quilt - see it in this blog post from last August.  Apparently I am not finished handling these fabrics.  In this line its her tasteful use of both the gold and silver metallics as well as  the white/grey/beige/grey/blacks. 

Modern Backgrounds *Luster* by Zen Chic

There is enough of these peppered shot cottons to make a full-size Trip Around the World. 

These are 9.5" blocks in the wonderful collection Aubade by Janet Clare, another favorite designer.  I fell in love with this collection while I was working on a quilt for Cristina.  These blocks could go onto a white, eggshell, or grey background - see the shelf of neutrals below.

So much pretty fabric.  Can't wait to dive into one of these.  

Stay tuned for Part Two - Spring and Summer Plans:  Bags/Purses

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Quilt Finish: Perfect Storm

A quilt starts with inspiration.  And I had only the best - Rossie's Double Plus Good.  It's the quilt that hooked me into the modern movement years ago.  At a Chicago MQO retreat in 2012, sitting across from Mary P, I began to work on wonky crosses just strips of brights against some Kona snow.  I even joined these blocks, only to decide I didn't care for the effect.  So I put it away. 

Meanwhile, I have been accumulating scraps of wool batting left over from various projects and bits of a wonderful Windham backing - it's a wonderful texture thing.  And it dawned on me I could join 4 of these little 8" blocks and make a 15.5" block and that perhaps some handwork would perk these blocks up.  So I began to play and came up with this:

 I had 14 of these blocks and above all wanted to make something useable.  So these blocks became the outer border for 6 additional blocks with no piecing, just handwork.  Like this:

Part of this perfect storm is that I finished the handwork on my sister-in-law Chris's quilt and needed something to stitch.  So these middle circles were just the thing.

I knew all along that I would use Sharon Pederson's reversible technique to join these 20 blocks.  But then of course the dilemma is what fabrics to use.  And that's when my QuiltCon 2018 shoppers - Holly and Sarah - come in.  They bought for me a panel of Yoshiko Jinzenji fabrics, and I instantly knew that it needed to be used for this quilt.  Here's a picture of this panel. 

Here it is:  60" x 75"

Center Detail

detail from the back

I'm so in love with this.  I'm currently machine-quilting a quilt I made for a fund-raiser.  I have invested time and money into this quilt, but I just don't like it.  About that quilt I am saying, "Someone's gonna love it - it's just not gonna be me."  And for this quilt?  I know not everyone will love this quilt, but I sure do.  It's staying in this house!

A quick shout-out to my quilty peeps who are retreating in Racine this weekend - heeeeeeey!  In honor of this retreat I am keeping retreat hours this weekend (which means sewing as soon as I get up).  We're getting ready to leave town, and too many things need to get wrapped up.  Peace out!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Look Who is Home!

Erich at the Sewing Room in Lombard has fixed my mom's Featherweight, the machine that was her wedding present in 1948.  The machine I learned to sew on.  The machine I took to college with me. 
I tripped over the cords in December, and it crashed to the floor, breaking off the bobbin winder among other things.  Because this machine has a cast-iron body, I didn't think it could be fixed.  But Erich?  He did it.  He's been working on my machines since the late 80's.  What a valuable resource he is.  I hereby solemnly swear I will find a better studio location for it!  But getting this machine back, along with the addition of my Brother PQ 1500 means I must get rid of one of my machines.  My Husqvarna Sapphire 830 is officially looking for a new home.  

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Apologies to Sting and the Police...

Every seam I make
Every stitch I take
Every quilt I make
I'll be pressing you.

(next verse courtesy of Sarah Shulman)
Oh can’t you see
You belong to me
My poor hands ache

With every quilt I make!

(repeat chorus)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Design Wall Epiphany

 My quilty friends are the best.  Holly, with help from Sarah S and Melissa, took my money to QuiltCon 2018 and shopped for me.  Holly knows what I like before I even know what I like.  Look at that terrific red print by Brooklyn Mojo. ( I have already ordered more of this fabric.)  And for the past few weeks I've been looking at a collection by Moda called Catnip.  Relax - no cats.  Just a terrific selection of black and white prints.  And Holly gets one (I have since bought more charm packs and one jelly roll of Catnip).
Other booty:  some metal zips, a wonderful blue denim/linen fabric, some great bits of cork fabric in different colors, several terrific prints, a couple of excellent grey textures, a new product Kraft-tex Paper Fabric ("rugged paper that looks and feels like leather but sews/cuts/washes just like fabric").  Seriously.  But what really caught my eye is this panel of fabric that's at the bottom to the left.

This is a yard of fabric by Yoshiko Jinzenji.  Google her for some wonderful images of her Japanese minimalism.  I took a class from her at QuiltCon 2015 - here's a link to that blog entry.  Then I bought some of her fabric, which was all black and white.  This panel that Holly just bought?  Little bits of colors and design - all abstract and whimsical.  So, what to do with this terrific yard?  And I must confess that I have been hoarding the black and white fabrics.  Sometimes pieces are just too beautiful to cut into.

And here comes my epiphany.

 These blocks are 15" square.  And they have each been hand quilted.  There are 14 outer blocks and 6 inner blocks.  But these blocks must now be connected, and I will use the "reversible" quilting method by Sharon Pederson.  I taught this method over 10 years ago - see the blog index for more on this method.  I've been pondering what fabric to use on the front of this quilt.  To use any of the jewel-toned solids from the crosses just seems  too much.  But a light fabric doesn't work for me either.  The answer?  this Yoshiko Jenzenji fabric.  It will be perfect for the front sashing/border for the front of this quilt and perhaps even for the binding.

A word about the back of these blocks. The block backs are all scraps from other quilt backings.  Some of these backs are pieced.  The same goes for the batting.  I had lots of bits of wool batting left over.  Most of these 15" blocks have a pieced wool batting.   I feel good about using these leftover bits.  This quilt will be one I will hold on to.  Note:  the other person in this house walked by this design wall and said, "Meh..."  It's okay.  It really is...  We don't all have to love the same things!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Scrappy WIP, A UFO, A Commision, and a New Machine!

  I started these cross-ish blocks 6 years ago and am finally figuring out what to do with them.  Looking at this picture, it doesn't look like much, does it? But look at the next picture - there's handwork which isn't quite showing up on the big picture.  The outer 14 blocks may need more stitches for texture, but meanwhile I'll work on the big circles in the middle, and see what develops.  The back of these blocks and the batting - all wool - are leftovers from other projects.  And the texture and weight of the quilt will be perfection.   There's no urgency to this project, so I can work on this evenings.  Or whenever.  And I'm still plotting what fabrics to use on the front and back in order to attach these blocks reversible style. 

This Glampalot project from June 2016 is together, and it will be a part of the silent auction for the Morgan Park Youth Ministry annual fundraiser.  As I have said before, somebody is going to love this quilt - it just won't be me.  In preparation for quilting, I made a backing of neutral leftover bits that are getting too old to live.  After a good pressing, I cut all these fabrics into 20" widths and sewed them together.  This backing will work nicely with the front - I'm excited about quilting it!  Since the backing is tall enough, I am putting a narrow green border at the top and bottom - for unity.

 Meanwhile, Nurse Meg - I met her 9 years ago during my knee replacements - needs a t-shirt quilt for her youngest daughter.  We have already done t-shirt quilts for the older 3.  The shirts are together.  Meg has requested black and white for the borders.  So that's the next step.  I want to get this to Terri and Frank for long-arming before we leave for Portugal in April.  Just to make this quilt different from those of her siblings, we are making this big enough for a queen-size bed quilt - 90" x 114"
Here's the really big studio news - there's a new workhorse!  This machine is a Brother PQ 1500 SL.  It is a purely mechanical machine that is FAST (1500 stitches per minute, if anyone is counting) and goes back and forth.  No zigging or zagging.  I was thrilled to get it from Amazon for under $450 because the box had been opened.  Yes, the box had been opened, but the machine was never used and all the parts were there.  It has a knee-lift which I knew I would like.  I didn't know however how much I would love that feature.  We are now friends - upper threading , bobbin winding, needle changing all a piece of cake.  I love how it quilts and I love how it pieces.  And when I go into Warp speed, John can hear it on the first floor!
And this pile?  It's time for period purses! 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

All My Bags are Packed

Baby Trip Around the World - 48" x 60"
  Well, at least the quilts are packed. I'll carry the big one on the plane, and John is packing the baby quilt in his luggage.  I have enjoyed my month of quilting for the Chrisses and am excited to go to Orlando tomorrow.  My nephew Chris T was one of the first kids that I fell in love with.  To go to a baby shower for his wife Andi and hang with my sister and my niece Jen is definitely exciting.  That my sister-in-law Chris will drive me to this venue and that it's so close to her home is even better!

 My sister-in-law Chris's quilt is the biggest one I've ever quilted myself - 104" x 120".  Sometimes, in the middle of a project, I get sick of it or I'm ready to move on to the next project or I just want to get it done.  But this quilt?  I slowly fell in love with it, especially when I decided to do a piano -key border.  I love the two jelly rolls I used - one by Carolyn Friedlander and one by Zen Chic - and how they work together.  I splurged on the backing, a wide backing by Moda that has the nicest and softest feel.  
It's batted with a very light Mountain Mist batting.  Perfect I think for its home in Orlando.  Kona Snow, a great shade of white, is the background for the quilt.  A bit ironic, eh?  Chris and Jerry will no longer have to deal with snow.  And this quilt whispered to me that it needed some handwork.  So there are 12 of these circles stitched at the junction of  four log cabins.   This picture shows the detail from the back.

My sister, soon to be the grandmother of three, put together her Hungry Caterpillar kids' room.  And of course it's charming.  There are still two little doll quilts coming from the leftover fabrics.

 So, now what?  The Caterpillar projects are complete, and the projects for the Chrisses are packed. Here's my trick for getting over the end of a project that I love:  start a new one.  And I've been doing just that for the past week .  At my first Chicago Modern Quilt Guild retreat I was working on a project.  But once I put it together I didn't like it.  So I put it away.   Debbie Pine's November 2017 CMQG meeting about Unfinished Projects really hit home, and this is one of my UFO's.  So after getting it out and thinking and playing, I now have a plan. 

 Seeing these little 8" blocks joined to one another wasn't very interesting to me.  So I took them apart and just let this project sit.  Now?  I've made larger blocks from 4 of these smaller blocks and added some hand quilting.  These blocks are now 15.25" , but I only have 14 of them.  above all, I want this quilt to be a usable size.  What a great design opportunity for some handwork in this middle 6 blocks.  These blocks, once individually quilted, will be joined using Sharon Pederson's reversible method. This quilt is also a great opportunity to use up batting scraps.  Piecing batting is undetectable.  I'm also using scrap bits for the backing.  And yes, I have enough...

Here's to March and Spring! 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Winter Vacation: Out with the Caterpillars, In with the Chrises

I love being "forced" to stay home.  Like when I was teaching and we had snow days.  I see no reason, now that I am retired, to give up snow days.  So I take them happily.  The Chicago Public Schools were closed Friday because of the weather, and of course I had to honor their decision.  My sister came in the day before to pick up the various Hungry Caterpillar projects, and now I'm turning the studio over to all things Chris.
My sister-in-law Chris, John's sister, sold her Oak Park house and moved to Orlando the end of January.  This colorful log cabin was something I started in early January with Chris's daughter Molly in mind (not knowing whether Molly would like this).  Chris told me that she really liked it and that it probably wouldn't fit into Molly's bedroom.  So...HOUSEWARMING PRESENT FOR CHRIS!!!!!  The piano key border is stunning although a lot of work.  But I love the end result.
This weather has been perfect for all the little bits of sewing required.  And for the pin-basting.  And for starting the quilting.  I wondered a couple of days ago whether I could get this finished in time for our early March trip to Orlando.  The answer:  you betcha. 

Not only do I have a sister-in-law named Chris, I have a nephew named Chris, and guess where he lives.  Yep, Orlando.  And guess who is having their first child?  Yep, Chris and his wife Andi.

Andi has chosen navy, khaki, green, and white for the baby's room.  A baby Trip Around The World is going to be perfect for these colors.  Notice the little bit of green grunge in the corner.  I love this fabric and may have to use some of it in the back of the quilt.  Andi's baby shower is in early March, and that's the primary reason we're heading down there.  But of course we'll be staying with Chris and her husband Jerry.  Turns out they live two miles away from Chris and Andi.  So convenient! 

 Meanwhile, on the first floor I've been hand quilting this big Trip Around the World from those wonderful Janet Clare Wordsmith fabrics.  I took a tip from Chawne Kimber and am combining machine quilting with hand quilting.  And I must say I like this look very much.  Besides, it's cold out and sitting under a quilt while working on it is rather perfect.  Let John call me Betsy Ross all he wants to.  Sometimes as I work on a quilt, it comes to me who it is for.  This one?  for grandson Sammy.  He's in Northern Michigan, and this is one warm and big quilt!

A look at the combination of the machine and hand quilting.  

 Every year, for the past 11 years, I have printed out my blog.  It's pretty exciting to see this record of what I've done.  I do wish I had been better about keeping track of what I have made and where various projects are.  But these books help a bit.

I can put a picture on the front of the book as well as on the back.  So these books give me a chance to review what I've done in the past year and which projects I want to put on the cover and back.  My tribute to all things 8.5" x 11, which is in my dining room, won out for the front.  And the Glam Clam that was hand-pieced and hand-quilted won out for the back.
Gotta get back to all thing Chris!