Friday, January 31, 2014

Sad News... but it gets better.

I heard earlier this week that Rosemary Makhan passed away suddenly.  She was a very talented designer.  I am currently working on making her Woodland Creatures quilt as a block of the month.  We are on block 11, which is the lower inner (chipmunk) border of the quilt, though I am a month behind, so still working on the upper inner (sparrow) border.  It will be with great sadness and thankfulness for her sharing her talents that I WILL finish this quilt, no matter how long it takes me.
Here's a pic of the finished quilt - I hope mine looks half as nice when completed:


I guess it just goes to show that we just don't know how much time we have on this earth.  Sometimes that thought is scary and paralyzing, and other times it is strong impetus to get up and DO things.   This time, it's been the latter for me.  I've been working on quilts all week since I got home.

I just got done with a long trip to Washington state to look at property for a potential move up there (when my husband retires).  I didn't post anything here, because I think it's safer not to post online that you are away from home for long periods before or while traveling.  With how easy it is these days to track down where someone lives, I hate saying 'Gee, come rob me while I'm gone.'  Still, it was a wonderful trip.  We found a great house in a nice location with a lot of land for my husband's radio antennae.  However, we're still not sure the climate will be right for us, so we didn't buy it.  I could cry if this one gets away from us... But c'est la vie.  My husband will make up his mind in his own time.

I did get two applique blocks done after we came home from our trip.  One is for the quilt 'Autumn Joy', a BOM from my LQS:





I am a little upset that the shop that is sponsoring this BoM decided to drop the last 2 months blocks on us all at once this month because they are anxious to start the next quilt in the series ('Summer Joy').  I didn't need the added pressure, but I will try to continue doing them in month order as if I didn't have them all now.  Still have to do the edge stitching (buttonhole stitch for me) on this one of course but the fusing is done.

I also started my new BOM for 2014:  Bertie's Year.  The first block was fun and easy to cut and fuse - compared to what I've been doing last year, there were relatively few pieces.  Here's block one:

Still needs edge stitching and embellishment (buttons and embroidery)... I think I'm going to really enjoy this one... It's different, I've never appliqued flannel on flannel before.  Sorry the pic is slightly out of focus, I tried 4 times and the ghost seems to have a 'ghost' no matter how still I hold the camera.


Tomorrow I go to pick up my Saturday sampler at another LQS.  It's a good excuse to have a morning out with friends, as we enjoy breakfast out together before the meeting.  After breakfast, it's off to 'Sat. sampler class', which is mostly kinda boring, but it's required to get the next block.

After that class, I drive back to visit my regular Saturday quilting class for an hour or two before I go to the 'Meet the Teacher's Day' at yet another LQS.  I promised to teach machine applique in the upcoming months, in coordination with a BoM they are offering called 'Kokeshi Dolls'.  It was first published in Quiltmania Magazine (#77 and #78).  The quilt is designed by Susan Claire and is SO cute.  Here's mine, but I look forward to making some more blocks, perhaps for pillows? or maybe another quilt, who knows...


Busy day Saturday to say the least...  Sunday is set aside to play Dungeons and Dragons with my husband and some friends.

Somehow, since quilting is my hobby, it seems wrong to look forward to a day of rest and relaxation without it, but somehow I do.  I guess that means you can just have so much of a good thing before it becomes a bit overwhelming.




Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Another applique block

I finished another applique block.. This time for 'Autumn Joy'.  It's a really cute BOM offered by my local quilt shop.  Here's my block (my favorite of the whole quilt cause it has a kitty on it, of course):


I may re-stitch the eyes of the cat... I think I needed larger French knots... maybe four turns around the needle instead of 3?  Or maybe 3 strands of floss?  Anyway, I haven't sewn the feet and legs on the little crows in the bottom corner either.   Cute kitty, cute block, not crazy about how it came out or the fabrics they provided, but it is what it is. 

I already have the pattern and fabrics for the next block, but won't be able to work on it til the end of the month due to my travel schedule.  I hope to catch up in February, when I'll have the february block to work on too, sigh. 

Thanks to all who responded either here or on Stashbusters about my crazy cats quilt.  I think I will take your advice and not add any more borders... I'm still trying to decide whether to remove the narrow purple border or not... Some said yes, some said no... I hate making decisions, but I am leaning toward removing the purple... I wish I had more of it so I could use it as binding, but I don't think I do.  I WILL search my stash just in case.
 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Border... or no border?

So I made this quilt a long time ago.  It's from a pattern by The Buggy Barn.
I don't know what to do about borders.  I have auditioned just about every fabric I own as a possible border, and none of them work.  I was thinking maybe a black border with pawprints in two (diagonally opposite) corners, but I can't find a black I really like (btw - the things that look blue in this photo are actually purple).


I am looking for any and all suggestions about what to do for borders... Or should I just leave it as is?  or maybe remove the purple and leave it borderless? It IS meant as a lap quilt, so I am not adding borders for size or anything, just appearance.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Woodland Creatures 9

The ninth and final block of my Woodland Creatures quilt is done finally!
It still needs some embroidery - the gecko's eye, the snail's antennae - but it's basically done.

The borders are next, and they are all appliqued as well... as evidenced by the photo of the finished quilt...
So still lots of work to do!

I'm afraid I have fallen behind on my schedule with this quilt - I already have the fabric and pattern for the first border (the sparrows, first top border)... and will be traveling soon and unable to work on this.  By the time I get back from my trip, I will have the fabric and pattern for the second border (the chipmunks, first bottom border).  This means I will have a LOT of catching up to do in February.

I expect I may get the fusing done and save the edge stitching for my April retreat.  By that time, I should have at least one more set of borders, maybe two, meaning I'll have them all perhaps?  Lots of work left, and then of course, I'll have to piece the whole thing too.

This plus my UFO schedule, my BOM (Bertie's Year), and two Saturday Samplers to keep up with.  It's going to be a very busy year!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Joy of Piecing

I signed up to do a Saturday Sampler at one of my local quilt shops (Cotton and Chocolate Quilt Shop) this year.  It is all pieced out of batiks.  The original quilt looks like this:



I'm not crazy about the border, but the pattern doesn't include the border fabric anyway, so I'll use my own when the time comes.

We got our first blocks on Jan 4th, and I decided I didn't like the off-white background, so I am using up some black batik I had in my stash as my background fabric.  So my first block looks like this:


I discovered... maybe re-discovered?... how much I enjoy piecing while I worked on this.  There is something magical about taking bits of fabric and making them into something.  I can't really explain it, but it makes me happy nonetheless.

I have spent the past year and a half doing mostly applique and the bits of piecing I did do, like on my Alaska quilt, were just to put appliqued blocks together or put borders on a quilt, or make backs.  Actually piecing a block again was a really pleasant experience.

I am signed up for a block-of-the-month this year - it's mostly applique - and this Saturday sampler.  And I foolishly bought another McKenna Ryan kit yesterday (bringing me up to 3 that I have of hers now, though one is MIA).  McKenna Ryan quilts are all applique.  So having this sampler to work on will be a joyous experience...

And it's not that I don't take pleasure in applique, too.  It just isn't the same magic as piecing.

There will be another Saturday Sampler starting in February at another local quilt shop (Quilty Pleasures).  I wasn't going to do that one, but I think after enjoying this one so much, I might do that one, too.  Something to think about anyway.  But I don't want to overload myself..

I signed up for the UFO Challenge at Stashbusters too, so I have to work on my UFOs this year as well.  I have a lot on my plate and lots of travel plans for the year too.  I hope I can keep up.  2014 is shaping up to be a very busy year.

How is your 2014 looking?


Monday, January 6, 2014

Back then Front Challenge, Part Two

I have found this 'challenge' to be extremely liberating.  While I still try to make sure there is some coordination with either color or design vibe between the backs and the fronts I pair them with,  I am no longer quite so insistent on it, willing to put things together just to 'ger 'er done'.  I find this process difficult, but getting easier as time goes on. 

Sticking to my resolve to make backs for the quilts tops I have languishing in my UFO piles, I picked another large piece of fabric and sewed it together, making it double wide (84").  It wasn't quite as big as my last backing piece, but it will do.  It is a print full of mushrooms (and insects),  At one time it appealed to me for some reason, but not so much anymore.


  I found a cute little house BOM I did a few years ago online to use this with.


I wish I could remember the name of the designer or the website (I think it was a blog) where I followed along on this BOM.  Unfortunately, I have gone through a computer or two since then, so I no longer have the same links saved on this computer, and I can't recall the designer's name or the name of the blog.  (If you're reading this and recognize it, please let me know more information so I can add the designer's name to my label).

There was enough fabric left over of the backing to finish off an old table runner with.  The runner is composed of leftover blocks from a hidden wells project made with Halloween/fall fabrics.


Perhaps this will be the first table runner that I actually keep and use on my table.  The others have all been given away as hostess gifts (exccept for the one I kept, which is now a piano runner, not a table runner).

Time to move on and make yet another back!  Looking at the pile of backing fabrics, I'm kind of at a loss as to what to pick next.  Maybe I should pick a few tops with similar color schemes or 'vibes' to them and pick a back accordingly?  We'll see... I will post my choices next time...

Until them, take care and happy quilting to you.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Working "Backwards"

Stashbusters is having a 'Back to Front' challenge.  Today I
took a huge chunk of gold fabric and made it into backs:



This is the original piece of fabric, all folded and ready to be used.

I thought it was SO big, it would make at least 3 backs, so I brought three quilts with me to cut backs for.  Unfortunately, I overestimated, and this huge pile of fabric only made two backs.  The first one I cut is for a Saturday Sampler I did about 3 years ago, all made with Asian fabrics:


I designed the borders myself, and added the paper-pieced kanji.  I got the patterns for the kanji from kitten's mittens website (which has since moved to the link I provided here, but still available online).  The patterns are 'fabric ware' (kind of like share-ware, but you send a fat quarter to use the patterns, very reasonable). 

I also made a backing for Ryokan  Ryokan is designed by Joe of Thimblecreek Quilts.



Now I am busy cutting batting for these two quilts and off they go to Stovers.  Maybe I will be able to mail them tomorrow - that'd be awesome!  The sooner I send them out, the sooner I will be able to bind them and call them finished!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Old projects, new goals

I have, as part of my year-end (or is it year-beginning?) activities, taken stock of my ongoing quilting projects.

Among other things, I discovered I have far too many tops ready for quilting, but that have no backs made for them.  I am determined to make backs for these quilts and get at least some of them quilted this year.  This is part of a 'back to front' challenge at Stashbusters.  The Yahoo group associated with this site has a very active forum and some of us have determined to use up yardage purchased for backs by making tops to go with them.  Since I already have the tops, I just have to piece the backs and get them quilted.

I have decided to make tomorrow's 'open sew' day for my mini-group a day for taking one of those lengths of fabric (about 7 or 8 yards at least of gold fabric) and turning it into backs for as many quilts as I can stretch it for.

Of course this doesn't get me out from under other quilty obligations.  I was working on two BOMs last year and kept up with both of them until November, when all my plans derailed due to travel and the holidays.  So I have my November block from one of the BOMs, along with the December blocks for both BOMs to do.

One of these quilts needs a background built (from multiple fabrics), but I did manage to trace the applique motifs onto fusible web in December.  But I ran out of Wonderunder last night while tracing house and tree motifs for the borders of my log cabin quilt, so I can't trace the motifs for the December block (the upper first border) for my Woodland Creatures BOM.

I ordered another bolt of Wonderunder from Overstock.com but it won't arrive til January 10th and I will be traveling mid-January for 10 days.  No catching up for me in January.  By the end of January, I will have the lower inner border in the mail and so in February, I will have to make two border strips, in addition to the November block, which I never finished.  Gah!!!

To make things worse, I signed up for another fused BOM (Bertie's Year) which starts in January, and a Saturday Sampler quilt (also starts in January) from my LQS.  The Saturday Sampler block is pieced, thank goodness, but it has to be done by the first weekend in February or I have to pay for the second block.  Oh, my!  I will probably fall behind on the new BOM, since I won't have fusible to work with until I return from my trip the end of January.

I'm afraid my February will be a madhouse of quilty activity and I won't be able to enjoy the process while I madly try to complete various steps to various projects.

This makes me very sad, because I chose as my "inspirational word" for the year, 'JOURNEY' - because sometimes I work so hard that I forget to enjoy the journey and the process of quilting (and other things I do).

I chose the word JOURNEY, not just for enjoying the process, but for what the initial letters stand for:

J - joy (taking joy in my work)
O - organize (take 15 minutes a day to organize my life and workspace)
U - unclutter (throw away what I no longer need - not just quilting related!)
R - reduce (de-stashing fabric as much as possible - as well as losing weight)
N - nurture (myself and others!)
E - evolve (grow and develop my creativity)
Y - YES! (say YES to life and living fully)

Enjoying the journey will have to wait til March, I'm afraid, when hopefully I will be caught up and can work on things in stages and breathe.

Here's a few pics of my log cabin quilt in progress... The quilt is currently about 88x96, and will have houses  and trees appliqued all around the outside in the borders:


One block - measures about 4" square, and is paper-pieced.

Detail shot of the center of the quilt, showing some of the blocks.

The whole thing, 88x96, needs borders to be king sized.
This quilt is for my bed, so it has to be king sized when it is done.  The setting is called 'barn raising' (there are so many possible ways to put a log cabin quilt together).  I pre-cut every single log and then sorted them by color and size, put them in paper bags and drew them out one at a time so they would be randomly put together.  They call this look 'scrappy' which is what I was going for.  All the fabrics are leftovers from other quilting projects I made.  I didn't have a lot of lights, so some of those 'lights' are actually the backs of medium fabrics that were printed on lights and didn't bleed through.

Anyway - the houses and trees will be appliqued on light fabrics (now I actually own lights for backgrounds), and sewn on all 4 sides.  Someday (hopefully this year), I will get this quilt to Stovers and have them quilt it.  It is too large for my longarm, which only has a 10 foot frame.

I hope, if you have read this far, that you are having a wonderful 2014 and are enjoying your journey, quilty or otherwise.