Sunday, August 13, 2017

Shadows of Quilting

Since we've been living under a cover of smoke for the past 2+ weeks, I thought I'd post some black and white shots of quilting.  Enjoy the texture.

Hand quilted feathers


Hand quilted outlined applique and cross hatching


Freehand machine quilted in a 4" square


Rectangle is approx 2" x 4 "


Big stitch using Perl cotton


Piece is approx 20" x 20"

And in full color, because we can see the sun today!  The winds have picked up, the atmospheric pressure has changed and all the forest fire smoke has left the shore! 

Keep all those firefighters and forestry workers in your thoughts and prayers, they are doing the best job they can under horrible circumstances.

and as always, keep stitching,
Sharon

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mail Call

I dislike getting the mail. My guy collects my mail for me. When I was a kid, I had a pen pal. I couldn't wait to get the mail. Now, it's just bills, or junk. Most bills come via email. Flyers, credit card solicitations, paper that hits the recycle bin as soon as you walk in the door. But not this mail. I got a package. I didn't order anything, and no one had emailed me about sending a quilt top. And this was in my pile of mail. Hmmmm, we are going to Hawaii in November, so I thought maybe my guy surprised me with something........
and then when I opened it up, I had a card in the package.  Not just any card, but a QUILTY card.  And then I figured out who surprised me with an amazing package. It was Liz from #instaquilt on Instagram
First up was a melted cake of Cadbury Caramels.  What is really crazy is that if there is a box of mixed chocolates, I go for the caramels first.  And this isn't just any Cadbury, it's AUSSIE Cadbury.
Notice the chunk missing, yup, I bit right into this.  Then I chilled it, chopped it into squares and tucked it into the fridge, and proceeded to eat about 1/2 of it tonight.

Next up, Smarties.  Again, Aussie Smarties.  I love Smarties and they are not available in the US, but I had them in Canada.  And no, M & M's are not a substitute.  Sorry.

Finally, I got to the magazine from Down Under.  This must have been a special edition as it has two magazines and two cd's in the package.  I can't wait to sit and enjoy everything in this publication.  You can find out who sent me this package by checking out her IG #instaquilt 


And to keep this post a bit about my quilting, I'm moving along with my Tumbling Stars.

It's all about the background now.  I stitch a few onto the stars, then prep a few more. This mixes it up a bit and keeps me from getting bored with things.  It's been a fabulous TV/car project. 

As for the Caramel bar, I have eaten about 1/2 of it already.  I'm doing Weight Watchers, but Thursday nights I weigh in at the meeting and then have a guilt free evening.  Yeah, that included this bar tonight.  The Smarties will be rationed out, starting next Thursday.  Right along with the Fantales Liz sent me in March when I quilted a top for her.  Yes, Liz, I'm still nursing that bag of goodness.  I hid it on myself and couldn't find it for over a month.  That helped ration it!

Thank you so much for the lovely surprise.  I shall enjoy every morsel and every page of the magazines.  This was such a delight!

Keep stitching,
Sharon

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Spare Parts = An Amazing Quilt

This was a project I did a while back but never posted the photos. Nifty Quilts makes the best quilts and if you check out her site, she has the back story on this project. It's worth looking at. She takes inspiration from so many places, stirs it all together and comes up with the most delicious recipes for quilts. It's such a thrill to quilt one of her creations as she comes to the table with ideas and then is open to add or subtract to the equation.

This medallion quilt is large, very large. She combines machine applique with prints with pieced blocks with hand applique. Look at that vine, and those string leaves........what's not to love about this.


She bordered the appliqued section with a Kaffe stripe on one side, and a home dec print on the other side and then kept adding pieced blocks to create this fabulous look.  Again, look at the fabric in her vine. 


Baskets have been string pieced and liberated 1/2 square triangles and you get a WOW factor.

Dots, stripes, plaids, florals, yes, they are all in here.  Even some fan blocks add interest to the corners.  The final border round has been pieced using extra blocks from a Sujata Shah project, Organized Chaos.  another amazing pattern out in quilt land



This was a fun and vibrant quilt to quilt. The best part is Nifty won 2nd place with this in her guild show, Quilters Anonymous, in Monroe, WA this spring.

Keep stitching,
Sharon

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Box Quilts

I've moved on from the bags, those have been emptied and now I'm trying to deal with boxes of fabric.  Not large pieces of fabric, but fabric that has been cut into shapes and sewn back together into blocks.  Well, some of it has made it to the block stage........

Sacagawea Sampler by Minick and Simpson  Oh yes, I'm still working on this.  Here you can see I've only got two empty spaces.  That's because I made a wagon wheel block instead of the sister block to the bottom left one.  I just didn't have it in me to make another zig zag border with a 1" center strip.  But I figured at some point Sacagawea must have rode in a wagon with Lewis and Clark, right?


Chinese coin styled block got all cut and pieced, tick.  One more block done.


Now I'm on to the last one, an appliqued log cabin, flag, a bird and a dog.  Surely you can see that block, the one between the above block and the wagon wheel.


This one.  Yes, I left it to the last.  I didn't know what color I would make the bird.  There are two birds on the top right block, no, you didn't miss them.  They haven't been appliqued yet because I didn't know which color placement I wanted.  But I got this block figured out.


Surely you can see the red bird, the blue dog, the flag and the log house in the middle.  I'm back basting this block so as I cut all the strips for the Chinese Coin block, I auditioned the fabrics for this block.  And I got the birds picked out for the top right block.  Now I'll have some hand applique to take on a trip later in August.
Next up is a bagged, boxed quilt.  Yup, I'm keeping it real here.  This was the bag I have been working out of for the last I don't know how long.  This all started with a tower of FQ's that were gifted to me several years ago.  I made a Liberated Star quilt and donated it to a Hospital Foundation fund raiser for a digital mammography machine.  My gf who runs the foundation got $1000 from it.

Then I made a second Lib Star quilt, and I gifted that out to my breast cancer surgeon.  He was a rock star, holding my hand as I walked the 5 year journey wearing the pink shoes.  And yet, I still felt there was another Lib Star quilt left to be made, the one for me.

 I dumped the bag out this week, and started sorting.  This makes it much easier than continually sifting in the bag to find a matching plaid for a star point.
 Now I have scraps of each color bagged up, I sorted the bigger pieces and organized them as well.


I took inventory of completed blocks on my design wall. I love where this is headed.  The blocks are 3", 6", 9" and 12" so they will all play nicely together.  Backgrounds are mostly Pie Crust and a Buggy Bary star print left over from backings.

The blocks that have been made are now boxed up, and this will be a perfect project to randomly work on.  It's a great one for a sew day get away or when I just want to do a little mindless piecing.


These two tops came of their cardboard houses and have been completed.  I'm hoping to have them published, so that's why you only get a peek.


My Carolina Christmas, that has lived in a box for about 5 years finally has become a full fledged quilt.  This is a Bonnie Hunter Mystery quilt from years ago.  I knew what the finished quilt looked like before starting it. 
Her patterns require a TON of piecing, but they are great projects to use up colors of scraps. This one used up a lot of greens and reds and shirtings.  The border was also pieced, but *someone* cut ALL the pieces the wrong size, so the block did not work out.
Not to stress over it, I added the red stop border and used up the last of my favorite green.  Cat approved within seconds of throwing it over the bed to take these pictures.

Another long lost project is my Just Takes 2 (much time)  I've reworked this project several times, and yet it still ends up back in the box.  I have not abandoned it, I just need to make it a priority in my studio, and right now isn't the right time.


This box contains hundreds and hundreds of hourglass blocks in pink/brown combos.  It was from swaps I participated in back in 2008.  Yikes, 9 years ago.


I took it out, put lots of blocks up on the design wall

 I tried looking at the values, thinking that might help me out.

 Then I off set the rows, and this didn't thrill me.  Although now looking at it, it's a good design.


 I went back to this, straight setting the blocks, which finish at 3"


I have previously sewn a few four patch blocks and played around with them.  After all this time, I have decided to stick with my original plan.  Straight set the blocks and make a quilt out of them!
Keep it simple, let the color and fabrics do all the work and I'm confident I'll love it.  This is going to be my #1 project that I work on when I go away for our quarterly retreat in October.  I have my notes written with pressing instructions and all the block seams will line up and lock in place. 


So that's it for now.  I will tell you there is only one quilt that I've officially abandoned.  It was a workshop and I just didn't have the mojo to push through on it.  The fabric choices I made had a lot to do with it.  I've learned to not use "least favorite" fabric when taking a class, it just might be what holds you back from a great quilt top.

So pull out your favorite fabrics, cut them up, turn them into quilts that you will enjoy and be proud to show off.  Go on, I know you can do it!

So what's next for me?  A laundry basket full of parts and pieces and patterns and fabrics.  Don't expect to see that post for awhile.  I'm going to start working on a new website, so my personal sewing time will be spent at the computer for the next few months.

Keep stitching,
Sharon

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Bag Quilts

I'm sure you all have a few of these.  Projects started and discarded, when the mojo ran out, that have been stored in a bag.  It gets moved from here to there to over there and back to here again.  Part of my commitment to myself and to my sewing room was to not "shelve" these bags, so they sat on the floor, lined up in front of my design wall.

The Batik bag actually made it's way to the "donate" bag.  Then I had someone come over and I offered to give them the batiks, which prompted a sift and search mission into the bag.  I quickly realized I needed to do this in private, called off the search and said I would bring them to our next stitch meeting.  The scraps got dumped onto my table and I realized that in with the scraps of fabric, I had stacks of blocks that were left overs from another project.
I sewed the blocks together, shopped for the stop border, then continued cutting and sewing the scraps into a string border.  I dug out one of Gwen Marstons books and set out to make the corner blocks.  I need a bit more practice to be really pleased with the results, but for a baby quilt, they turned out perfect. 
It has now been quilted, the binding is attached and just needs stitched to the back.  Yes, I still do this by hand, even for baby quilts.  It's my favorite part of making a quilt, the last time you get to sit and stitch on it, look at the fabrics, techniques, think about who is going to receive the quilt.....

 This was quilted using Silk batting by Hobbs.  First time for me, and since it's (hopefully) going to be well used, the quilting was quite dense, just in case the batting decides to react to the washing and use of the piece.
 Two left over chunks of cozy flannel were released from my stash, and voila, I now have a finished quilt to gift out and one less bag in my studio.  Sorry to my stitching buddy, I used up every last scrap of the batiks that were in this bag.

Bag #2  Yellows and greys from a previous project.  At some point I got the crazy idea (it might have come from Victoria at VFW Quilts) that I could sew all the bits and pieces together and "make" fabric.  Good grief, like I need to make my own; I've got baskets full of fabric made by perfectly good fabric mills!

 I started making some liberated stars out of this 'made' fabric. What was I thinking?  Oh, right, I wasn't thinking!

 Then the 'made' fabric became the star points, and then it all got dumped back into 'the bag'.


Here is the beginning of the sort.  Just trying to figure out what I had was a challenge and made me think a few times about putting this back into a bag, one that would head to the dumpster after it got filled up.  But I persevered.
 
 The funny thing about this was that the only fabrics I had in all my 24 bins was solid yellow or white on whites to mix into this pile of scraps.  I did not have one grey or printed yellow piece that I could add into this creation. Hmmm

The end result of this bag of scraps is this very cute and sunny Liberated Star quilt. It measures approx 36" x 42"  There is no rhyme or reason to this.  Blocks were made to 'fill in the spaces' and trust me when I say this is a One of a Kind.  I couldn't even replicate this if I tried.  And I won't.

 It needs a good pressing, but it's flat, straight, and square (rectangle) but you know what I mean.


 A few filler strips were added


Partial seams were my best friend when putting this all together.

 And some of the blocks are a very funky size.  That's the beauty of Liberated, you can work out those variables, and no one notices.  When this was all finished, I folded up the yellow solids, and the handful of scraps that was left, yes, handful, went into the garbage.

This last one I'm showing has been pieced, layered, basted and partially quilted.....for years.  I'm finally getting back to it as I've now got the sashing motif settled in my brain.  I do love a good sampler, and I think this one fits that bill.


Yes, it's slow going when you decide to tackle these long gone projects. We need the mojo, the excitement of the start, the something new. I do too, but I thought that if I kept moving and shelving these bags, they would never be used and that, my quilter friends, would be a shame. The batik one will be gifted as soon as the binding is done, maybe even tonight. (if I get away from the pc). So I challenge you, pull out just one of these bags, and poke away at it. The rewards are a finished piece, and more room on the shelf for the next abandoned shelved project.

Next post, boxed quilts..........
Keep stitching,
Sharon