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  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!

Monday, January 1, 2018

...everything before us...

It's a luxury to have current commissions well in hand so that I can focus on projects I've been wanting to do. Blogging is a great tool for focus and organization.
Quilty Melissa bought some fabric-backed vinyl.  I'm going to try to create a boxed bottom for a Tudor bag for her.  It's just a matter of getting some measurements right.  Math, right? 
I've read about the Disappearing 9-Patch.  These 5" charms might be perfect for trying this project.  I'm pretty sure guild VP Heather managed to get these charm packs to me in a guild raffle. 
Although I still need bind the queen and baby quilts from the Hungry Caterpillar fabrics, I also want to try making pillowcases from some of the leftovers.  Quilty Eileen was working on pillowcases and has shared the directions.
My doctor is having her first baby - this woman was instrumental to my recovery when I had my big sick.  She collaborated with my ENT brother-in-law, and then they both helped me to understand and  make decisions proposed by the Interventional Radiology Team.  She told me she likes green and these mostly Marcia Derse fabrics seem kind of perfect.  This baby Trip Around the World just needs to be bound.
The fabric line Aubade by Janet Clare is one of my favorites.  Last spring I made a quilt for Cristina using these fabrics.  I still have more of the jelly roll and a 5" charm pack.  I'm thinking 10" squares with neutral sashing. 
Do you see what's here?  A jelly roll, a layer cake, a charm pack, and a mini-charm pack.  I can see three possibilities for this wonderful line - Fragile by Zen Chic.  The greys, yellows, blacks, and neutrals are wonderful together as seen in this baby quilt for Cristina's nephew Helios, who was born the day before Christmas. 
Janet Clare's fabric lines please me.  Most of the above are from her Wordsmith collection.  I have made two Trips Around the World already from them.  Here is one more.  And I think I'll use the scraps for a piano key border.
Another fabric line I am in love with is Zen Chic's Luster collection.  These are the fabrics I used for Julie's going-away present.  I have everything - a charm pack, a mini charm, a layer cake, and a 5" x 10" pack.    Pictures of Julie's quilt are at the end of this blog post from August.  No great inspiration for what I want to do.  Just fondling and touching these fabrics - that's enough.
My thirst for jelly rolls continues.  Above is one from Carolyn's Friedlander's latest collection and another from Zen Chic in all blues.  But I think these two lines might play well with one another.  The key, I think, will be to surround them with a fabulous neutral. 

"...everything before us..." is from the opening paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

I'm amazed at the universality of these words.   On this first day of 2018, optimism abound - an optimism I didn't feel yesterday.  Everything is before me.