Posts Tagged ‘challenges’

Endings and Beginnings – From The Mummy to The Mystery

April 12, 2017

The Progressive Part finished up our Movie Project. My movie was The Mummy (1932, Boris Karloff). Here is the quilt the group made.

I love every inch of this quilt, and you’ll see more details as I begin the quilting and embellishing. For now, here is a sample.

With every ending comes a new beginning, especially in quilting. Our next project is Abandoned Fabric. We each brought three bags containing a quarter yard of something we once loved but never used. The bags went on a table and we picked our poison. Here’s what I discovered when I opened my bags.

My assignment – make a quilt from this

I laughed, because the whole point of the project is to create a challenge. I think I’ve got a boat-load of challenge in this collection. I started auditioning fabric for what is now my mystery quilt. Here is one scrap that I thought I might include.

A scrap from another Progressive Party project

Here is another.

Auditioning fabric for this project may take a lo-o-o-ong time. I could see going through my entire stash before an idea hits, which might not be such a bad idea. The drawers could use a good sort-out and refold. Who knows what treasures I might unearth?

Luck and wisdom!

The Last of the Livermore Coffee

October 31, 2012

“I just finished the last of the Livermore coffee. I guess it’s time to go home,” my mother said on the morning she flew back East. Since she was flying into Hurricane Sandy, I was even less happy about her leaving than I normally am. The flight went well, Sandy didn’t cause much damage in her part of Maryland, and we’re already planning next year’s visit. That’s the good news.

The interesting news is the thought train her joking comment produced. No one here drinks coffee, so I only buy it when my mother comes to visit (we have a coffee maker just for her – it lives in the garage 50 weeks out of the year). Buying the right amount of coffee to last her entire trip is a fun challenge, which I usually lose. The same is true of fabric buying – do you get only enough for the project at hand, or do you buy extra? If I buy exactly what I think I’ll need that guarantees I will miscalculate, mis-measure, and mis-sew. If I buy more, the project will come together perfectly and I’ll discover I don’t like the fabric at home nearly as much as I did in the store.

I also thought about the emotional reaction I have when a sentence starts, “This is the last of . . . .” There will be tears shed when I have to say, “This is the last of the Halloween candy.” I don’t always have that reaction to the last of a fabric, no matter how much I loved it. There are times, however, when the last of a certain fabric sends me into a tizzy. I have strips and squares on the side of my batting wall, the last bits of fabric I adored and can’t seem to let go.

Here is the vase I made with (almost) the last of the fabric Mom and I used for the box:

Mom loved it, but had already stuffed her suitcase and carry-on bag. This may end up in her Christmas box.

I haven’t had much time to do anything in the sewing room, except make it even messier (yes, that is possible – difficult, but possible). Today being Halloween, there’s no chance I’ll get to those precariously stacked piles. This is my project for the day:

Waiting to be carved

With both the kids home, I bought a pumpkin for each of them and one for me. Some traditions are too much fun to let go.

I leave you with another tradition that I know my husband wishes I would give up – birds in the centerpiece (and the fuzzy pictures to document them):

A fuzzy Halloween bird for you!

[insert bird here]

A digression – Fabric challenge with the Maniacal Cackling Quilt Ladies

August 8, 2012

The Progressive Party – one of my friendship groups – decided to do a fabric challenge. We have a lot of fun joking and teasing each other – our nickname really is the Maniacal Cackling Quilt Ladies – so I knew having us each choose a fabric to give the others would bring on the giggles. Here’s what we started with:

Our rules are simple. The beginning has to use at least four of the challenge fabrics, making up at least 30% of the area. The rest of the fabrics have to appear somewhere in the top. That’s it. Here is what I made for a start:

The Progressive Party passes around the projects so everyone in the group gets to work on them. This is the piece I will work on next:

The owner of this project wants us to make blocks for her. I get to choose from the challenge fabrics and the ones she put in her bag. Her bag, by the way, is exceptionally cool:

The reason for this digression is not the Olympics, although I have watched a few things (the dancing horses are always fun). If all goes as planned, I’ll be on holiday at my husband’s family reunion the day I post this. I’ve spent the week getting my travel lists and travel jitters in order. Lucky for me I had an evening of total relaxation with my friendship group. Once I return it’s back to the sorting, but for now, it’s laughter all the way.

Button Invasion USA

June 13, 2012

Once again the Challenge assignment is helping me clear out stuff. We were tasked with interpreting a piece of literature in fabric. I decided to do some shameless self-promotion (as well as some back story work) and use one of my own stories. I’m writing a novel set in the far future on a planet that has been invaded by Earth. I decided I would make a tapestry suitable for the thirty-whatever century. This is the beginning:

Planet-wide landing zone

The background is from my collection of space-ish fabrics. The planet is a convergence exercise my friend Ann Anastasio gave me when she was clearing out her studio (I’m not sure she meant to do that, but I found a use for it and she hadn’t so there). I tipped the convergence piece on its side to look like a landing zone grid.

From there I added a Celtic twist ribbon, since my humans represent the Third Viking Hegemony, and a Celtic twist was the closest I could get to something a Viking might use.

The quilting represents shock waves around ships.

These will be the ships.

Ed Wood would be proud

I have a huge collection of buttons that remind me of space ships. I intend to use lots of them on this quilt. I also have a huge collection of trims:

I used one on the sides in place of binding.

Underneath that Celtic twist ribbon will be some sort of legend for interpreting the tapestry. I also decided to quilt in some insignia. I have a logo (a Scottish thistle), so it seemed reasonable to assume the invading forces would have something, too. Since I did the quilting with black thread, it is easier for you to see the pattern from my sketch.

I haven’t sewn all the buttons on yet, so you’ll see this again, perhaps with another top using the leftover space ship buttons.

And yes, it feels great to use stuff!

Finished with fish

May 31, 2012

I only accomplished one thing in the sewing room this week, but that’s enough. Here is my Progressive fish quilt:


I might call this Fish ‘N Cat

The binding was chosen from fabric I could reach, but I think it works well.

I haven’t found my notes on the quilt yet, but it is possible that the top was started twenty years ago. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I was waiting for the perfect quilting pattern to come along. In the last two decades I’ve finally learned that perfect doesn’t exist. I’ve also learned enough about machine quilting that I’m pleased with the outcome.

Here is a detail:

I still have the label and sleeve to make, but since I’ve got to show it at Challenge next week, I know the quilt won’t be waiting another twenty years to be called done. Time now for my happy dance.

Series of challenges

October 5, 2011

I started this week with energy and a long to-do list. Mom went back to Maryland on Friday, I had Saturday to miss her, and Sunday to get started on my deadlines. Sunday went well enough, but Monday . . . didn’t. Somehow the cough that I thought was on its way out turned itself around. By Tuesday night it was back in full swing – along with a scratchy throat and strained vocal chords, to the extent that this morning when Mom called she thought my husband had answered the phone. So I said a prayer of thanks that Sunday was productive, because I did manage to get finished with my absolutely-must-accomplish-now list.

This first project, however, is not from that list. This is one of the boxes Mom and I made for the crocheted angels. Mom glanced at the soda carton and thought it might be the right size if we cut it down a bit. I pulled out the scissors, hot glue gun and some Christmas fabric.

We made the lid from poster board. Mom was delighted to find a way to recycle the soda carton. I was thrilled to have another use for the stack of Christmas fabric that never seems to get smaller no matter how many projects I make.

Another item on the list was the Challenge Group project. Our assignment was to take a garment-related phrase and turn it into something else. My phrase was “she pursed her lips.” As it happens, my friend Ann Anastasio and I are working on a series of patterns (loosely) based on our novel, Death by Chenille, and its sequel-in-progress, When Chenille Is Not Enough. I decided to use the Challenge project to play around with purse designs.

This inside pocket is made from chenille (like I said, loosely based on the book).

Last on the list is “do something with the rest of the apples.”

I’ve made enough apple crisps for the season, there is no more room in the freezer for applesauce, and I’ve filled three containers with dried apples. Recipes are welcome, but I should tell you I’m a vegetarian so your German grandmother’s pork and apple bake won’t work for me. Here’s one for you, however:

Potato-apple tart

1 large potato, sliced paper-thin

1 large Granny Smith apple, sliced thin

3 oz Gruyeres, sliced thin

2 onions, sliced thin

1 tsp butter

1 tsp olive oil

tsp flour

1/2 cup milk

1 sheet puff pastry

Slice the potato, apple and cheese and set aside. Melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, and cook until caramelized or until you run out of patience stirring the rascals. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add milk. Stir until milk stops bubbling, then return to very low heat and cook until thickened.

Spread puff pastry on a buttered baking dish. Layer potato, apple and cheese slices in center, leaving an inch of pastry all around to turn up. Pour onion mixture over top (you may want to spread it gently if it is very thick). Turn up edges of pastry. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Bait and switch

October 6, 2010

Remember those four unfinished tops that I pulled out for the Challenge project? Remember how I went on and on about finishing them? Would it surprise you to learn that all four of them are back on the UFO pile?

The day for Challenge Group kept creeping closer, and I still had no idea what I wanted to do with those tops. Luckily, there is a never ending supply of well begun but not close to half done projects in my sewing room, so I used two other ones instead.

The first was a block from a previous Challenge project on the theme of home. This block didn’t play nicely with the others I made, so it was put aside until I could make more just like it for a spring table runner.

Since I had to finish a UFO with a twist, I interpreted the instructions literally and twisted (OK, folded) fabric for prairie points. My quilting grandmother had an inordinate fondness for prairie points which I seem to have inherited.

Then I spied another half-completed project – a stack of friendship blocks from 1988. I know this because at least one block was dated as well as signed. My husband had been encouraging me to make a new cover for my computer, one that would extend over some of the auxiliary devices settled into the tray on either side of the keyboard, and these blocks were the perfect size. Also, I had just read Susan Vallallo’s “Beaded Binding: A Sparkling Finish” in the November 2010 issue of American Quilter, so there was my twist.

Detail of beaded binding

Completing these two projects didn’t put a tremendous dent in my UFO pile, but after over a month of not accomplishing anything at all in the sewing room I am thrilled. So much so, in fact, that I tidied up a few of the piles, rearranged a couple of others, and recovered another six inches of open floor space. When quilting consumes your life, it’s important to take joy in the little (really little) things.


September 22, 2010

My next Challenge Group project is to finish a UFO. What a daunting assignment – first, to only choose one when I have so many! Second, the reason I have so many UFOs is that I really don’t know how I want to finish them. If I knew, they would be done.

Since today is the first day of autumn, I considered pulling out a fall-themed project. This is the first one that came off the stack.

I started the project for the Progressive Party. The ladies in the group put in everything but the last triangles, turning it on point. I did that myself because I wanted the center block to be upright.

It’s a lovely quilt, but since I’m not sure what I want to put in those big, scary, empty triangles I took the next quilt top off the UFO stack. This turned out to be if not fall-themed, at least using some fall colors. It’s sort of an end-of-summer, beginning-of-autumn, but-don’t-let-the-weather-gods-know-or-they’ll-make-it-rain quilt.

This one was left unfinished because I thought it needed some applique. I don’t know what kind yet, so I brought out the third top on the stack.

The fabrics sat quietly under the ironing board until one day when they demanded to be put in a quilt. They weren’t choosy as to the pattern, so I just kept cutting and sewing until I reached a convenient stopping point.

Now, we all know that convenient stopping points are not the same as completed tops, so on the off chance that one of the fabrics left in the pile will start yelling at me to use it for a border, I brought out the fourth UFO.

As I recall, the pattern came from a previous Challenge Group assignment. It is one in a series of dolphin quilts, and it really needs a border. Or at least I thought it needed a border when I folded it up and put it on the UFO pile.

So, now I have four candidates for the assignment, and still no idea how to finish them. At least I have two weeks before the group meets again. With any luck, you’ll see a picture of an actual completed quilt in the beginning of October. Or not. At any rate, Happy Equinox!