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.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

An Evening Companion

I'm not a pet person, but I understand how holding or stroking an animal is soothing.  For me that sort of soothing comes from my hand quilting.  That's what I discovered around the time of my parents' death.

In a way the same is true for a quilt.  When I hold a quilt for a couple of hours most evenings, of course I get attached to it.  And this one?  I love.  This top is made from the leftovers of my  shot cottons.  The backing is a very smooth muslin, one of the few fabrics I have to feel before I buy to make sure it has the right hand.

I've been using the wonderful variety of No. 8 Perle cottons on the color stripes - three rows per stripe. the white/lighter portions I'm running two lines of a silvery grey.  

I love how the stitching looks from the back.

My goal is to get this to my nephew Chris in Orlando before Christmas.   Because he and his family live there, I used a Mountain Mist poly batt, very light.  This quilt has a wonderful airy feel.

As I finished this quilt top last winter, I was glad to use of the last of my shot cottons, which do not play well with other quilting fabrics.  But as I have worked on stitching this quilt, I've realized one thing:  I need more shot cottons.
It's not a matter of want - it's NEED!

Today's work will be quilting this charming quilt.  It's not due until mid-January, but I fear things are heating up (two pregnant nieces, period purses, a guild project, a shhhh project, the holidays).  Besides, I really love this quilt!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Early November Quilting

Nikki's quilt top is finished.  I didn't get my proportions quite right, and this is huge.  But it's kind of like being too rich or too thin (so I hear):  a quilt cannot be too big.  This quilt top is going into @sparklesax 's long arm queue and will be ready for gifting by Christmas although this is not a Christmas present - it's more like a"you've graduated from college and are in your first year teaching and I'm really excited for your entry into adulthood!" present.

This quilt was a baby quilt made for young Liam Lee five years ago.  See the original post here.  His mother asked if I could make this quilt queen-sized.  Thanks to my measure once/cut twice way of working, this quilt is just full-size now.  But Liam's mom has assured me that he'll just be happy to have his quilt back. To attach something new to something that's been washed and loved for five years presents an issue.  I had to figure out the batting I used then and then match it.  Finally there was some deconstructing that had to happen.  And you know what?  I'm good!  After five years of use, I really had to struggle to get the original binding off.  This is another effort funded but Grandma Laurel!

I tend to not work cute. But omg is this cute or what?  Teaching friends have a daughter who married an Australian and now lives in Perth.  Kim is pregnant with her second child, a little boy.  Grandma Marge asked if I would do a baby quilt and maybe something with an animal.  Marge's request hit me just as I finished the two above big projects.  And I found a very clever Elizabeth Hartman pattern, available here or at her website.  Suddenly, these little bears were exactly what I needed to be working on.  Before going any further, the studio needs a bit of a dusting and cleaning and organizing.  Soon I hope to have these little guys in an actual quilt top.

It's snowing outside.  
Very cold and blustery.
Good studio day.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Being 70 is remarkably like...

Being 70 is remarkably like being 69.  Or 59.  Or 49.  Or 14.  I'm keenly aware of how lucky I am with health, family, and friends.  Most nights I look forward to sitting down with my quilting.  Here's what I'm working on - very slowly.  This beginning phase - I have made decisions about how to approach this - is when I'm happiest, I think.  To unfurl this every so often and see the process, especially visiable on the back?  So satisfying.  And I don't have to think about what hand-project is next! 
Nikki's quilt is coming along.  The hard decisions are over.  Now it's just peddle to the metal.  There will be one more row on the top, and then two or three rows on the bottom.  The Central Park portion will be the center of the quilt.  The more Kona snow I put in, the more I like this!

And I had to try a new backpack pattern.  This one is Noodlehead's Range backpack.  I used Soft and Stable on this, and I think the backpack might be too stiff.  On the other hand, the previous backpack I made is too slouchy.  Oh great, I've turned into the Goldielocks of backpacks.  I like how the blue one works - I've used it for walking home from Trader Joe's.  Now I need to pilot this grey one.  Hmm, I have a gift certificate to Anderson's Book Shop, and there's one in downtown LaGrange.  Time for a walk!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

A Milestone Month

John turns 80 on the 5th.  And I am 70 on the 8th.  How lucky are we to be healthy and able to celebrate these milestones!  I'm hoping to keep the cerebrations without eating every single thing in sight.  But...seriiously - aren't birthdays all about the cake?  Meanwhile, I'm working on Nikki's quilt despite John's fractured elbow and some bedroom decorating.  The more white I put into this quilt, the closer I'm getting to what Nikki wants.  Here's where I was last week:
 I'm trying to figure out proportionally how much longer to make the "Central Park" portion and whether to incorporate two rows of blocks above it.  I've been thinking too literally about Manhattan and am now thinking in terms of quilt design.  Below are the building blocks in process for the bottom of the quilt. 

This Fence Rail of peppered shot cottons has been done for a while. But now it's time to quilt it. This will go to my nephew Chris and his wife Andi in Orlando. And there's no timeline. As I bind it - it's already pin-basted - I'm making decisions about how to approach this hand-quilting project for the fall.

This improv 11" x 22" block is for the 2020 QuiltCon charity quilt that my Chicago Modern Quilt Guild is doing. It's going to be fabulous. Can't wait to see this come together.

And a sad last. One of my quilties is leaving the area. These blocks are part of a little going-away present.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

52 blocks in 52 weeks

Even though quilting and sewing is a fun thing that I chose to do, within my world there are still tasks that must be done and then projects that are just play.  Thanks to my wide-ranging friends through social media, I learned about the "52 Blocks in 52 Weeks" #52blocks52weeks through the Canadian Quilters' Association.  Each Tuesday a different 6.5" block is put up on the web site using grey scale.  I love the black/grey/white combinations of the grey scale and decided to follow along with the project using only fabrics from my scrap basket.  And guess what I have a lot of?!  It's been fun every Tuesday to see what the block is and then - despite whatever else is on my schedule - making the making of this block a priority. 

Here are blocks #1 - #25

And here are blocks #26 - #35

In keeping with my resolution to make things that are usable, I know that I will either add sashing between these blocks or maybe even experiment with a checkerboard approach.  Luckily I still have 17 weeks left to make that decision!  And I'm thankful that the Canandian Quilters' Association - despite our big orange leader - is letting me and other Americans play! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Eighteen Years

What a melancholy day.  It's horribly hot and humid, and I'm just now getting over my sulking about the cancelled Newfoundland trip.  I really am thankful the tour group had the foresight to cancel the tour - Sunday was when Dorian hit Newfoundland with rain, winds, and downed electricity.  But still...changing gears is hard.  And it's nice to have this new-found time. 

Once I sent the big batch of purses and notes off to Sew Powerful, I needed to celebrate by doing a project "just because."  This backpack is a pattern by Swoon.  I've never had a backpack in my life, but this pattern just looked fun.

It turned out so cute that I made my sister-in-law a backpack, too.   But I had to finish them before turning the studio into a guest room for her Labor Day visit.

 Closing down the studio in preparation for guests really broke my rhythm and impetus.  The best outcome so far of the trip cancellation is that there is now room to breathe on the calendar.  So nice. -
But here it is - 9/11.  Jon Best stopped by for our annual visit - we were on our way to school and listening to the radio.  There are a whole generation coming up who don't know the impact of 9/11.   So glad to have backpack patterns.

So cute - Number 1

So Cute - Number 2