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! 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Caterpillars, T-Shirts, and Purses

 My sister (yes, the sister who made me pick my funeral song when I was so sick two and a half years ago), has small grandchildren who love the Hungry Caterpillar.  So Paula bought fabric and gave it to me.  Above is a queen-sized quilt (107" x 112") - it's finished.  So is the crib quilt just to the left (30" x 42").  Still in process are two small wall hangings below.  Both will be bound with that wonderful green fabric.  Since I think Paula might have a career as a photo stylist, I'll be happy to show her in situ pictures, but it might not be until March or April.  My long-armers, Terri and Frank, did a fabulous job using a variegated thread and a whimsical pantograph.  What a charming pair of quilts!

Another quilt back from Terri and Frank's long-arm machine is Gwen's T-shirt Quilt.  Years ago, before I started blogging, Gwen asked me to work with her on a surprise t-shirt quilt for her husband Winnie.  We successfully did this, and Gwen was able to totally surprise Winnie on Christmas morning.  Now it's Gwen's turn.  She mailed me her favorite t-shirts and told me she liked purples.  This lovely quilt is 82" x 84" and perfect for a chilly day.  The backing?  I took all my purples - and anything close - and made this backing.  Can you tell that I ran out of fabric and had to do some improv piecing on two of the back blocks?  I love it - hope Gwen does too.  This will go in the mail Friday!

 The project I've been neglecting in my work for SewPowerful.org.  These purses are part of the Menstrual Hygiene Education program and so important for the young girls.  These four have gone in the mail.  Last fall this group collected over 6,000 purses from makers in the States, UK, and New Zealand.  I am so impressed with this number!  Look at the picture below - that is for three purses in process.  There are eleven pattern pieces, and the making requires, in my humble opinion, some skills.  Two years ago I did 24 purses for the deadline.  I'm hoping to surpass that by July.  You know:  busy hands, happy hands.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Perfect Quilting Weather

It's been below freezing with snow and ice and wind chills.  It's January in Chicago.  We work hard to walk, even if it's not outside - the hospital, shopping centers, driving to town (which is 0.5 miles) to walk on the shoveled sidewalks.  Our old stucco bungalow is not well insulated and drafty.  So, working on hand-quilting under a quilt is a perfect way to spend an evening.  This scrappy napping quilt is almost finished - I love using No. 8 Perle cotton and a wool batting - look how gorgeous the texture is.  But now?  I need to find a new project for downstairs since this one is almost completed.

One of my quilting heroines, Chawne Kimber, combines both hand and machine quilting on some of her quilts.  So this Trip Around the World in my favorite Janet Clare fabrics will be my test case.  Most of this has been machine-quilted.  But now I'm moving it to the first floor and will work on this evenings.  There's no deadline for this project and I can sashiko-doodle to my heart's content.

John asks for very little.  But he did request I finish this hand-quilted piece in peppered shot cottons.   I've been dithering about whether to include more stitching in the bottom dark grey portion.  And since I can't decide, I am hanging this and calling it "Unfinished."  Look at the photo below - there is still a needle and thread attached.  Whenever I decide to lay in some more stitches, I can just take it down, work on it, and then put it back up.  This is the third piece in the living room made from shot cottons.  Here are the other two - an elliptical Drunkard's Path and a Glam Clam

The body of this log cabin is complete - right now it's 60" x 80".  When I identify where this quilt will wind up, then I'll put borders on it.  I would love to do a piano key border with the various feature fabrics (lines from Carolyn Friedlander and Zen Chic), but I could also calm it down with a Kona snow all around.

I really don't like when quilters Facebook or Instagram about a project they can't talk about.  And yet that's exactly what I'm doing eight now.  In March I'll be able to do a full blog post about the above.
Last, look at the first quilt in this post.  It's made from the leftovers of the above quilt - I made it for my sister-in-law when she had a double mastectomy last spring.  It was her comfort quilt while she was healing.  Now Pam and Al have hung this quilt in their bedroom, and of course I think it's the loveliest of wall treatment.  The color of their bedroom wall?  So perfect. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

In Praise of the NFL

 I know what you're thinking:  "But she doesn't even like football!"  Which is so true.  But what I do love is the extended guilt-free sewing time knowing that John is fully engaged in multiple games on weekends.  This weekend will be as excellent as last weekend, and I'll make the most of it.  The above blocks are 9 x 14, and the layout is yet to be determined.  I'm thinking horizontal subway, but I still need to finish the remaining blocks. 

 This is the third - and final - Trip Around the World from the Janet Clare Wordsmith fabrics.  I love how gender neutral and soft these fabrics are.   So far this quilt top is 75" x 55" and needs a series of border to make it bed-usable.  That's what is to the left, including a solid black, which just might be too much.  I have the new Kona cotton card with 243 colors, and NOT ONE matches this wonder blue/grey/green/sage color.  Go figure.
 These fabrics are the leftovers from Cristina's quilt.  With the right neutral in between the blocks, this too will be a full-size quilt.
I am in love with the previous fabrics/quilts.  This one?  Not so much.  It's a work in progress.  I'm going to experiment with layout.  These are all log-cabin blocks so the possibilities are endless.  But I fear I am using too many light fabrics that keep the eye from discovering the pattern by the Kona snow fabrics.  I'll keep working and playing. 

This is the front and back of the t-shirt quilt for John's jazz friends Gwen and Winnie in Chattanooga.  It's at the long armer right now.  Binding is already made (lower left of the quilt top pic), and backing was pieced from various purples and lavendars.  Can you tell I ran out of fabrics and had to piece two of the blocks for the back? 

I can't wait for this weekend's game to start!