Friday, December 27, 2013

Angels and Ornaments

After more than my usual number of postings in November I sort of fell apart but today I was motivated by another blogger who posted some photos of ornaments on her tree and her tree-top angel.
Take a look at Teresa's angel on her blog Fabric Therapy....
then look at mine. I think they must be related.

Following her lead I also snapped a few quick shots of some of the textile related ornaments I've gathered over the years. Some made by friends; some by me.
Just like quilts, the the dated ones provide extra special memories!

Our old-fashioned real tree is loaded with ornaments having special meaning from as far back as kindergarten efforts of glitter on a circle of construction paper to painted Snoopy ornaments. If I'm not in the mood to get into Christmas all it takes is getting out that box and starting to reminisce.

I hope you are all in the midst of a wonderful holiday season and I wish for you a fabric-filled new year and plenty of time to make it all up into quilts! 

2013 Wrap-Up 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holiday Placemats - A Bit of Cheer

Stitch and Flip
I just completed some holiday placemats. I always think it would be so smart to make Christmas gifts in July rather than late November -  but I never do. I guess it just doesn't feel right to get out my tub of Christmas fabrics in the 90 degree weather.

A couple of years ago I gave some placemats I'd made to a friend who delivers 'Meals on Wheels'; a program that delivers a weekly meal to those in need of some help with cooking while staying in their own home. She  told me she folded the packaged meal within the placemat and that they were so pleased at the surprise!

So I am repeating that this year.

For the Stitch 'n Flip versions above I cut backings and a thin fleece about 13" x 19".  Starting around the center I placed one strip face up and another face down along that edge - stitched a 1/4" seam - flipped and finger pressed that seam. Then I pinned the raw edge to keep it in place, added another strip face down - stitched, flipped etc. You get the idea. It's nice because when you are done it is already quilted and after trimming it is ready to bind.

I used a couple of orphan blocks. . .

. . .  and tried a pattern from a 2010 Quilter's World magazine which is designed for, and more interesting when used with, a larger print.

Getting lazy now (or is it creative?) I used some leftovers from above for the last two.

I cut 1.25" single binding strips of coordinating fabrics which I stitched onto the backing, brought around to the front, folded in the raw edge and either straight or zig-zagged it down. Presto!

It was fun to do and I take pleasure in thinking they will make someone happy each time they use them.

The Christmas stash is not visibly diminished!

Are you doing any holiday gifts?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Time Out for Turkey (and lefse)

I've just finished rolling out a double batch of lefse, the Scandinavian counterpart to a tortilla but made with potatoes.

It's a messy job, as you can see, but it's worth it if you've grown up with lefse for the holidays. Our family served it as a bread, with butter or plain with a meat such as Swedish meatballs rolled up in it or just dipped in the luscious gravy. Some use it as a dessert and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on (with the butter!)

What does this have to do with quilts? Hmmm. We could focus on the shape.
There are many wonderful quilts with circles; vintage and contemporary.

Dresden Plate c. 1930

Yo-Yo doll quilt
30's reproduction fabrics

Seen at the Houston show 2002:

Do you have any quilts with circles?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Two Tops Done; #3 and #4

I was really in need of 'machine' time so I got out my shoe box full of rectangles and odds and ends that I had removed from a vintage top. I've written about that process and shown the first two small quilts I have made so far in a series of blogs. ( the first one is  here)
 I was eager to continue in the 'series'.

I had decided to do a checkerboard next but as I looked over my leftover pieces I realized that cutting 3" squares would use them most advantageously. That was bigger than I wanted for the checkerboard so that's how I ended up making two tops at once!

Wanting to keep to a smaller scale for these little quilts I cut 3" squares and stitched down the diagonal making two identical triangle squares.

This one is very 'orderly'

I arranged them on my design wall and moved them to the machine on my fleece covered plastic tray.

For the checkerboard I cut  2.25" squares from the original rectangles, leaving ends large enough to use for quilt #5 and maybe #6! I decided to make 4 patch units and join them rather than just arrange the squares at random.

This vintage quilt of mine is constructed that way and I think it is interesting.

In my doll quilt you can see a hint of organization but it's random enough not to be predictable. Then I added a single row of squares down the right just to throw it off a bit more. Do you see the 4 patches?

I admire the randomness seen in so many vintage quilts. Working with a limited group of fabrics, as I am for this series, requires you to make choices you may not make if you have unlimited fabric to choose from. In my opinion this makes for an interesting quilt that invites you to look at it a bit longer.

Vintage doll quilts

Checkerboard - 4  patch  construction

Triangles - random setting
I've chosen the backing for each top and will prepare then for hand quilting over the winter. I like having small projects to work on.

The stash created from the original top IS slowly going down - I have just these two stacks and a bag of smaller strips and odd shapes left.


Now to get on with some holiday sewing!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

True Confessions - Notes and Sketches

Does this pile look familiar to any of you?
I have a habit of taking notes and making sketches on whatever is at hand when I am at a quilt show, museum or gathering with quilting friends.
I have good intentions. I feel the information is important but somehow those odds and ends sit on my desk for awhile and eventually get moved to be dealt with 'later'. They never get organized in a way that makes them useful.
For literally years I have ignored the growing collection. Occasionally I shuffle through them but soon walk away in frustration - to the point where now they fill various boxes and dishwashing tubs.

In my recent mood of purging and simplifying I decided it was time to tackle this.
I try to spend at least 30 minutes each day going through it piece by piece. Much of it I can't even decipher!
I could probably throw it all in the recycling and never miss a thing. But I am too curious ...what if there is some 'important' forgotten thing in there?
I need to put a deadline on this...and then, in the future. try to take along ONE notebook to write in, date the page and give a bit of an explanation and most importantly, when I get home, transfer the information to something where I can find it later.

Some people think I am very organized  and I like to think so, too. I do have many things quite well organized and I LIKE to be organized. I have detailed databases, file drawers, records, magazines, books, photo albums and more in somewhat impressive order.

 Really, I do! 

I have a hunch I'm not alone. Do you have a similar bad habit?

 How do you deal with it?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Carefree Garden

55.5" X 62.5"
I wanted to make my sister a quilt for a special birthday she was to celebrate in September. She loves her garden and spends lots of time working on making it beautiful. As I was browsing for ideas I came across a photo of a floral quilt made by a friend some years ago. My search was over. I thought it would be perfect - a garden she could enjoy all year long with no work involved.

I had lots of large florals and quite a few greens but to get more variety I asked for green donations from some quilting pals.

I made a 'window' to select the part of the print to use.
It's a very simple thing - cut 5" squares for the florals and 5.5" squares of greens for the half-square triangle units.

As I began to it up on my design wall I was disappointed. It looked like a chaotic mess but after analyzing the original photo I realized the dark side of each HST should point to the right. That positioning seemed to help and I kept on going.

Once it was all together I started stressing out about how to quilt it. It had to be done by machine with my time frame and I am not skilled at free motion work.I didn't really want to have someone else do it. It had to be all from me.

Here's a rough sketch of my general idea...  An overall design with a path (through the garden) and areas of 'the beds'. Sort of the idea of rows of crops in the fields.
I liked the simplicity of the idea - an overall design sort of influenced by some of the 'modern' quilts being made today. I felt so relieved. I could do this! I am very comfortable with a walking foot!  I used a mottled greenish variegated thread and after laying down the main divisions I eye-balled a little over 1" echo from those lines.

I usually don't remember to do this but I measured the top when completed, measured it again after quilting was done and then again after I washed it. No surprise - it got smaller but all loss was due to the quilting; 3" in width and 2" in length! This was very simple quilting. A more complex, denser design would take up even more. Remember to plan your bed quilt a few inches larger than you'd like in both directions.

We met for breakfast at a lovely restaurant on Lake Minnetonka which just happened to provide the perfect, leafy backdrop for a photo.

She was really thrilled with it.
She tells me she 'sleeps in the garden' every night now.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ripping Again!

Well, I'm back at it. I won this top at the AQSG silent auction in Charleston, SC, last month. Here's what it used to look like - it's a poor photo and from this distance it looks much better than it did in person, trust me!

It was poorly made in many ways but the squares are a nice size to do something with  (3.5" finished -give or take) and there are some great fabrics in it so....I started in.
Some people think I'm crazy. A friend watching me in wonder said, "Why don't you just cut it apart?"
That stopped me for a minute. I had never thought of that! But I went back to ripping. It just seems the right thing to do and preserves the most fabric.

Do you believe me now?
It was both hand and machine pieced and a real bear to rip out. On the hand pieced seams she took a back stitch about in the middle -common and a good idea for creating a strong seam but not fun from the ripping standpoint. On top of that she backstitched at least once at the end of each seam and when four seams come together - all backstitched -  what a nightmare.

I just have to wonder.
How could anyone think this could 'work'?
The funny thing is that in spite of all those secure seams she apparently didn't think it was important to cut each square the exact same size - OR to sew a consistent seam. Doesn't have to be 1/4" but consistent would be nice.

Have you joined the group that thinks I'm 'crazy'?
Can't blame you.

...TA DA

Done ripping.

A shoe box full sorted by color - they will be hand washed in color groups, pressed, errant threads cleaned up, re-stacked in their nice shoe box....and then the fun begins. What will I make?

I like to keep some element of the original in at least one of the resulting pieces so maybe the first one will use the Trip Around the World pattern pattern in some way.

For now, I'll put this shoe box next to the shoe box from the last top I ripped....I've made two doll quilts from that one already.

Links to the two posts about that ripping project as well as a link to ripping out some embroidered blocks and what I did with those:

Every morning, Every evening, Ain't we got fun!