Archive for the ‘Quilting’ Category

Road Trip Quilt

August 21, 2019

I finished another abandoned quilt top. I remember collecting the Route 66 fabric, getting to the ombre border, and losing focus. The fabrics are fun, but not exactly what I need hanging on my wall.

Since the repeats on the fabrics vary, my units are not a standard size. I enjoyed playing with sashing options, but realized after the fact the quilt center would need acres of borders to be a useful bed quilt. The good news is I’m far enough away from acquiring the fabrics that I’m happy to let it go. With a green flange and one final asymmetrical border, the top fits the size requirement set by the guild’s donation quilt committee for a child’s quilt. With any luck, I’ll get to the quilting part in the next month.

Another plus – I’m using this dinosaur skeleton fabric for the backing. I bought it for a gift quilt, but the intended recipient is way past dinosaurs. Time to let another child enjoy it.

Luck and wisdom!

Overcoming Avoidance – Part Two, Quilting

August 14, 2019

My Progressive Project this time was to choose a Row by Row pattern from a large collection. In the interests of training myself to overcome avoidance, I chose the pattern I liked the least. It involved sewing triangles on the bias. I have a hard enough time with strips cut on the straight of grain, so I generally run screaming into the night when bias triangles are requested. However, there were cute fish to applique over wonky centers, so I gave it a go. I didn’t have spray starch, but I did have sizing. I spritzed the squares before I cut them, and handled the fabric as little as possible. The quilting goddesses were with me, because the centers are good enough for the fish to swim naturally, rather than lined up lip to tail. They still cover most of that seam intersection, but I know it wasn’t a necessity to place them there!

Luck and wisdom!

Painting on Silk – An Experiment

August 7, 2019

Betty Busby teaches how to paint on silk with any kind of acrylic paint. As long as it is liquidy enough, the results are fabulous. The experiments I’ve made with scarf-weight silks have all been great fun. Here is one I did recently. The blue and pinky-purple paints were very watery; the green paint was thick, almost straight from the bottle.

This week I experimented with raw silk. I like the heft, and the effect I get with applique or embroidery. Here is the first piece, my own study in (nearly) scarlet.

My last experiment was both painted and dyed. I spotted the silk with yellow dye first, then scrunched it and poured on the remaining red paint. When that was nearly dry, I add some spots of pink. As with the green in the first piece, I added very little water to the pink paint.

I think all of these experiments will eventually end up as a base for embroidery, probably landscapes. If you have a few squares of silk and some leftover acrylic paint, make your own experiments. Be sure to send pictures – I would love to see the results!

Luck and wisdom!

Thread Speculation

July 31, 2019

I’ve always admitted that I buy fabric on speculation – not a set amount for a specific project, but as much as seems reasonable because I like it. Turns out I’ve bought thread on the same principle.

Oh, yes, some of my collection is  the last bit of projects past. Some thread I inherited. But all those red and green threads? Yeah, chances are I thought they were pretty and would use them someday. Well, someday is now.

I’ve decided on three strategies to use my thread collection:

  1. When machine-quilting scrap quilts, I will change my top thread to match large sections of colors. I did this with a modified log cabin that had big strips of various blues. Rather than buying one color that sorta-kinda-maybe went with all the fabrics, I changed the thread for swaths of dark, medium, and light blues. It didn’t take much time, especially since I was doing random squiggles and only had to pick up where one thread left off. I know quilters have been doing this for years, but I guess I’m a slow learner.
  2. I will fill bobbins with half- to three-quarter-full spools of thread. The quilt police will never know that my dark patches are sewn with navy blue and forest green (and a bunch of other colors) rather than charcoal or black. Most of my fabrics run to mediums anyway, so a white or ecru thread has more of a chance of showing through than a rose pink.
  3. I will start bringing threads I know I will never use to various quilt meetings and offering them to any taker. Who knows, there might be a quilter out there who only needs a tiny bit of the exact thread I’m trying to unload.

Luck and wisdom!

Squirrel Buttons

July 24, 2019

The birdhouse block with squirrel buttons

I found another orphan block that will make a wonderful display block for the Amador Valley Quilters collection. I suspect I intended the block to be the center of a baby quilt for a friend who loved squirrels, but since her baby is now in graduate school I’m giving myself permission to abandon that quilt.

The block was a perfect summer project. Even without high humidity, holding a quilt on one’s lap for binding and embellishing when the temperature is hovering around 100 isn’t as much fun as it sounds. I also got to use a card of squirrel buttons that I’ve been moving from one to pile to another for several years, and that makes me very happy.

Now for a glass of iced tea, which I will sip in the coolest corner of the house.

Luck and wisdom!

A Mixed Bag Week

July 17, 2019

In the beginning, there were two bags of animal fabrics. So far those two bags have produced six tops. Okay, so I found three unfinished tops in one bag, but still. I started on yet another top and just couldn’t force myself to finish it.

I have lattice and a border for this quilt, and started cutting 4 1/2” and 2 1/2” squares from the scraps. When I just couldn’t stand looking at one more piece from the collection, I put everything in another bag. It is smaller than either of the two bags that I started with, so I’m counting this as a victory. In the meantime, that bag is going in a corner.

Two of the animal tops have been quilted, and I’m planning to get the other four at least layered and basted. If I am very lucky, I will get them all quilted before I become well and truly tired of the fabrics (again).

A winter scene from Tina Curran’s workshop

At least I will have something of a non-animal nature on my design board to distract me. I took a workshop from Tina Curran called Whimsical Garden. The instructions called for yellow and blue strips for the background (for sunshine and sky), but I unearthed a great collection of icy purple, blue, and gray fabrics, and thought I would make a winter garden instead. For some unknown reason I made two sizes of strips in the workshop, and didn’t have the right fabrics to bridge the gap. I began a small quilt from the short set and will work on making a larger quilt from the long set. Sadly, I have no idea what I will do with either quilt, so both of the tops will go into the unfinished pile. Once again, two steps forward and one step back. Ah, well.

The long set from Tina Curran’s workshop

Luck and wisdom!

Requiem for a Plan

July 10, 2019

So, I had this idea of what I wanted to do with my kangaroo block. Go ahead and laugh, the universe certainly did. I thought I would surround the block with strips, then a checkerboard, then a single outer border. This is what happened.

The good news is I like the result. I am also looking forward to donating it to a shelter for someone else’s child to enjoy. And, I’m more convinced than ever that patterns were made for people who do not think like me – or at least, who have fabric that tells them other things than my fabric tells me.

Luck and wisdom!

History and Your Story

July 8, 2019

We are all connected by history, whether or not those connections show up in our family stories. While reading The Great Influenza (by John M. Barry), my husband realized that his grandfather (pictured above) brought the family from Canada through New York in late 1918, when thousands of people in that region were dying every day from the flu. My husband wondered what his grandparents might have known about the epidemic, since wartime censorship and bureaucratic panic kept some newspapers from reporting the full extent of the crisis. If they knew, how worried were they about bringing their young children into the area? Could this also be the reason why all records of that crossing disappeared – perhaps the clerk who processed them died before he had a chance to file the paperwork?

When you are creating the world your characters inhabit, consider the way history will affect their lives. Even if you aren’t writing a historical novel, the past has a way of intruding on the present. If nothing else, a random connection with some great historical event could explain an odd behavior in a parent or grandparent that shapes your character’s choices.

Luck and wisdom!

The Story of the Kangaroo

July 3, 2019

I am unearthing the projects I couldn’t figure out how to finish or how to let go. Not all of them are obviously special, except to me. Here is an example.

The reasons I made this kangaroo block are lost in the mists of time. I recall that I drew the pattern myself, and that I hand embroidered the blanket stitch around the edge. Beyond that, I’ve got nothing. Even so, as I took this block out of the bag, part of me wanted to keep it.

“Self,” I said, “don’t even think about saving this block. Yes, it’s cute. Yes, you spent a lot of time on it. However, you don’t have a purpose for it, and someone else could enjoy it.”

I pulled some blues from my scrap pile and am in the middle of auditioning them for a log cabin-ish border around the kangaroo. I’ll probably surround that with a checkerboard. If I’m lucky, I’ll have enough of something within easy reach that is appropriate for a final border. It will be a quilt for a small child, so I won’t need much. The backing will be more of the fabric I used as a background for the kangaroo block. Once I put on that final border, I’ll have talked myself into happily letting it go for a charity quilt. After all, by then it will be one more project off the piles!

Luck and wisdom!

Incremental Progress Is Better Than Nothing

June 26, 2019

I’m in the middle of projects just now. It’s great that I’m still working on the PIPs (Projects In Piles), but it doesn’t lead to stunning photographs. Still, I am making incremental progress and can prove it.

This is the first time in ages that I’ve done machine quilting without worrying that I’ll knock a thousand piles from the table to the floor. Now there are only a few hundred piles on the table. This is progress.

I no longer have to do the Sewing Room Shuffle to get from the door to the sewing machine. There is a clear path for my feet, despite the fact that I brought in a large plastic zippered bag of fabric that I had been storing in the garage for a lo-o-o-ng time (on floor, far left, top photo).

Best of all, I have maintained a clear space around the outlet. It’s not a lot of progress, but it’s better than nothing.

Luck and wisdom!