Posts Tagged ‘quilting life’

A Journey With Embroidery

November 7, 2018

There is something about embroidery that turns my fingers into a (nearly) perpetual motion machine. The top for On To Africa needed more embellishment, so I started adding a few lines of embroidery here and there. Before I knew it, the journey to a quilting-ready top was finished.

One side of the top is more heavily embroidered than the rest, but I’m okay with that. Most of this work was done by another artist (and I still don’t know who – none of my friends remember where I got the blocks either), and I’m perfectly content to let her work get all the attention.

I first thought I would leave the center appliqued panel alone, and fill in the open space with quilting. Then I realized the jacquard will absorb all the quilting, so I might as well embroider the living daylights out of it.

Shameless self-promotion alert, embroidery on the journey into space is a pivotal plot point in The Chenille Ultimatum. If you need a good giggle, give the book a try.

Luck and wisdom!

On To Africa

October 17, 2018

The expedition in my sewing room took another turn. I finished a simple pieced quilt, and now must start pulling random blocks, most with African-themed embroidery, into a coherent piece. This is the finished quilt:

These are the blocks that need organizing:

I appliqued the tree block and made most of the embroidered blocks, although a few were done by someone else. I don’t remember how I managed to acquire the patterns, thread, and partially completed blocks. Perhaps I bought them at a silent auction, perhaps they were given to me by someone who knows I like to embroider, perhaps they were left on the doorstep in the dead of night (no, I would probably remember that).

In any event, this is my next project, and On to Africa is the working title.

Luck and wisdom!

Coast to Coast with Confidence

October 10, 2018

In one of those moments when the universe says, “Just get on with it,” the quilt I absolutely, positively had to finish was the one with the heron. I’ve called the quilt Coast to Coast, and it was just the confidence boost I needed.

Quilted, bound, and labeled

My foot still doesn’t like to be down for any length of time, but I had to change threads often for this quilt. What under ordinary circumstances would have been discouraging turned out to be practical – thirty minutes with my foot down, ice and rest, repeat. Even with all the thread changes, the quilting went much faster than I expected.

The dreaded heron and the many quilting threads

I also made a feature out of a bug by using yellow thread around the center of the flowers. My original intent was merely to hide the little boo-boo when the yellow meandered over the black, but I like it better this way.

The pattern called for one tree and a house, but I made three trees representing the palm trees, deciduous trees, and pine trees that can be found together on every street in my town.

This quilt was years in the making, since I was afraid to make the appliqued heron, nervous about changing the pattern, and concerned that I really couldn’t put all three Row By Row kits together to make a coherent piece. Furthermore, I was truly terrified that my injury wouldn’t let me get back in the sewing room at all, much less in time to finish the quilt for the guild Unfinished Quilt Challenge. Because of my fears, once I got started Coast to Coast became a huge confidence builder.

Luck and wisdom!

Chipping Away at Obstacles

September 19, 2018

I had hoped my row quilt would be done by now, but stuff happened. I was able to chip away at enough obstacles to finish the top. A qualified success is still a win.

I call it “Coast to Coast”

Although I complain about life getting in the way of quilting, the good news is I have things to do, places to go, people to see. Yes, I want to complete my projects, but my life is more than my work. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that. My friend Jan Maxwell made me a potholder featuring a woman wrapped in purple, with a cup of hot tea. Sometimes, despite obstacles and nagging to-do lists, life is good exactly as it is.

It’s okay to just be happy

Luck and wisdom!

Adapt the Rules to Fit the Worker

September 12, 2018

I love the life lessons quilting brings. There is the grand structure of the quilting universe – 1/4” seams, press to the dark, square things should always be square – then there is the reality of the individual worker. My latest Progressive project reminded me that rules are meant to instruct, not bind, and can always be adapted.

This twisted block came with two sets of instructions, neither of which worked for me. The first came from the artist who began the project, the second from another quilter in the group. I measured angles and straight lines, trying to come up with an interpretation that would achieve the desired result. Nothing worked. “Self,” I said, “just choose the block that you like best, scribe the cutting lines on the fabric you need to work with, and run with it.” I folded the seams back on each other, marked the cutting lines, and sewed the best 1/4” seam I could manage. Repeat for three rounds and you have a twisted block.

My contribution fits in well with the others in the collection, and that’s really all that matters.

Luck and wisdom!

Changing Direction

September 5, 2018

Two projects that I thought were clear in my mind wandered away from me this week. One changed direction radically, the other – my Challenge Group project – not so much. The Challenge assignment was to make one quilt with either two different colors and three different shapes or three different colors and two different shapes. I started with purple and black, because those were the first scraps I pulled out of the bin. I noticed that one of the black fabrics had pink flamingos on it. “Self,” I said, “you will have to decide if that pink is going to count as a third color.” By the time I finished, I realized that with clever embellishment, the flamingo could be both a color and a shape.

Here’s a better view of the flamingo pin:

The UFQ project with the heron was the one that really went off the rails. The last time I talked about this Row By Row collection, I was planning to use three kits to create one big quilt. When I started the second kit, however, I realized I didn’t really like one of the sections. I also realized I could have a cute wallhanging that held together better thematically if I adapted the kits. The work-in-progress name for this quilt is “Coast to Coast.”

The ocean is on the east side of the Maryland row, the west side of the California row

The painted square above the rows probably will not make the final cut for this project. I’ll show you more as the quilt tells me where it wants to go.

Luck and wisdom!

Battling To-Do List Anxiety

August 29, 2018

The Unfinished Quilt Challenge has been a blessing for me. I’m getting projects finished, and the deadlines keep me working as efficiently as I can. No blessing comes without a curse, however. For as much as I’m pathetic without a deadline, I’m also pathetic with them. I tend to get myself twisted inside-out worrying that I won’t meet them. I know the world isn’t going to end if I don’t get my projects done, because it has happened. Some of my best unpublished stories are the tales I spin to explain to my friendship groups why I came to the meeting empty-handed (and they always forgive me!). So, this month I snatched minutes here and there to get at least one project done. Despite the whimpering voice in my head telling me I’ll never finish a thing, I have three projects ready to bind.

Lani-Longshore-anxiety-flower-8-29-18

This one actually got finished!

anxiety-flamingo-8-29-18

anxiety-squirrel-8-29-18

The lesson here? Listen to the voice of doom if it helps to get you in the studio, then tell it to hush. You’ll get the work done.

Luck and wisdom!

Read Carefully!

August 8, 2018

You know one should read directions carefully. You think you have. Guess again.

The Progressive Party project I’m working on this month will end up being a full-size quilt. I read the instructions and saw “make a floral block.” So I did.

The Batchelor’s Button block

The next day, before I finished the last seams of the block, I read the instructions again. This time I noticed that we’re supposed to attach our floral blocks as shown in the diagram. Where was that line the first time I read through it? Okay, it was in the same place and I didn’t notice. Lucky for me, I started the project early and had plenty of time to make the fill-in blocks that go with my floral unit. Also lucky for me, I chose a block that goes into a unit that someone else had started.

My unit, finished and ready to go

The good news is the person after me won’t be shaking her head at my inability to read a simple set of instructions.

Luck and wisdom!

Surprise Blocks

July 25, 2018

Once again, the Unfinished Quilt challenge has shown me my innermost soul. It is cluttered and completely random – my innermost soul, that is, not the challenge. I found these blocks in a bag that was supposed to contain fabric for a wheelchair lap quilt.

The purse collection – don’t ask me why

Why would I think these paper-pieced blocks would work well for a lap quilt, something that would need to be washed often in very hot water? Why would I think they would go well with an orange plaid flannel back, which is the other fabric I found in the bag?

Fortunately, I found some forest fabric in green, yellow, and orange that will go very well with the backing. It will certainly be more appropriate for a lap quilt that will probably be used by more than one person (the project will eventually go to a nursing home). It may have taken me years to finish this quilt, but sometimes it pays to procrastinate.

Luck and wisdom!

Design Dilemma

July 11, 2018

As much as I love to quilt, I’m not great at coming up with quilting designs. I’ve got stacks of books, templates, and examples, but they don’t always answer the question, “What does this quilt need?”

What to do with the white space beyond the blue border?

This quilt has been sitting in a stack for years because I don’t know what I want to do with all that white space. Also, I don’t know how I want to mark it since (A) I hate marking and (B) I don’t want to discover I’ve made a mistake and have to try to erase whatever marks I’ve made. It’s real easy to push the quilt to the back of the closet when I have not only a design dilemma but a technical dilemma.

A Styrofoam cup makes a great canvas

One of my friends suggested I grab a pencil and let a quilt design flow from my fingers with a doodle. As the above photo demonstrates, I doodle on everything. Doodling is not the problem – choosing is the problem. So, I’m opening the floor to you. Any suggestions?

Luck and wisdom!