Sunday, March 10, 2019

Green Tea and Sweet Beans

I'm just going to let the photos tell this story. This is a customer quilt. Her version of Jen Kingwells Green Tea and Sweet Beans. KB wanted lots of quilting, stitch in the ditch and bubbles/swirls behind the applique. She gave me free reign to work on her beautiful quilt top.

I kept the narrow border pretty simple, and used a very light pink thread all over the top except behind the appliques.

The sun peeking in the window.  I couldn't resist finding a few places for feathers.

Back and forth stitching pushes up the center piecing on these twister blocks.  Hobbs wool helps with the relief.

Super simple flowers, and yet they work!

The other place that got a few feathers.  I think this block might have been paper pieced.  Oh those perfect circles that are hand appliqued!

Little hexi's got 1/4" outline stitching.  This was a small section of the quilt so the stop/start wasn't too much.  I certainly wouldn't want to do a whole quilt like this.

So many great fabrics were used in this top.  Oh to have a stash this bright.

Some simple squares scattered throughout make for a bit of easy piecing.

That's all, thanks for viewing.  I love sharing my customer work.  I would never ever make something like this.  I think I have a handful of fabrics that are in this range.  However, I LOVE working on quilts like this, and I certainly enjoy seeing all the mix up of bright prints and colors in other peoples quilts. 
Keep stitching,

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Retreat Sewing

The stitch group that I belong to meets once a month. Every three months we book a work room for three days, make hotel reservations, and pack up our sewing rooms and head south. Although our group started out as applique, we work on all kinds of projects at our retreats. Here are a few things that I managed to capture.
V had her penguins all in a row, and S had started on this Chain pattern. She did finish it, but I didn't catch a photo of that.  But I managed to acquire a strip of this green for a future project that is in a box right now.

JH was busy with a Betsy Chutchian pattern on the left.  Small precise piecing and fabulous 1800's prints.  CO was working with indigos and shirtings.  These blocks are from the Hope's Journey book by Betsy Chutchian.

V was also working on Christmas Tree skirts.  She started making these in Mid January, retreat days were in early February and I think she has about 14 finished already.  Talk about motivated.  They are all different and she has sourced out so many ideas from stacks of patterns and each skirt is unique.  She used lots of Buttermilk Basin patterns, she had a huge stack of them to work from.

Next up is my Just Takes 2 which I have blogged about already.  As of today, I've got 5 more blocks made and tucked back into the bin holding these blocks.  I will finish this one, just not yet.  This is the best thing about the room we book.  It has massive design walls and we each have our own table.  Well, I took the end seat and had 2 tables to work with!

On the left, EPP in progress.  MN is a machine when it comes to this.  Lucy Boston is the pattern and the grey setting color really makes this shine.  Those pops of coral, the Pantone color of the year, also add a surprise to the piece.  CD, on the right was busy with her Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt.  Looking great in these bright colors.  C decided to make hers smaller than the pattern, but with all the piecing in Bonnie's pattern, even at a smaller size, it's still going to be heavy!  Now for the borders.

JB was busy with a binding, but once she tackled that, she pulled out her blocks and got busy with this project.  Love the heart block, and note how small it is.  I think those small ones finish at 2"?

Here is JH with her top together.  I believe she even got the border on, but again, I missed that photo op.  On the right is one of mine.  It was the last box that I opened up at retreat.  It is a 49 patch block, I need 81 blocks, and I didn't strip piece ANY of this.  I spent the last morning sorting my strips on the design wall, making sure I didn't have multiples of obvious prints in a block.  All bundles have 7 strips with 7 squares.  Now to stitch them into blocks.  Again, this is a long term project that started due to a mistake using an Accucutter.  I had stacks of 2" blocks that needed to be 2 1/2" and that was what started me down this rabbit hole.  I know it will be amazing when finished, I just don't know when that will be.  Hopefully the binding will be on this one by Dec 24, 2019.  That's my goal.

There were many other projects that hit the design wall, got blocks added, or re arranged, and I just couldn't keep up with all the goodness in the room. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is the BEST group of people that I get to stitch with. They are so positive, creative, encouraging, talented, sharing and just the best to stitch with.

I hope you all have a "tribe" of stitchers.
Keep stitching,

Friday, February 22, 2019

Abstract Blue & Green

A small study of sorts.  Except when I started this my goal was to emulate techniques from a new to me book and I ended up channeling Gwen Marston.
Three colors, navy, green and off white.
Machine pieced and quilted.
Faced with navy
18" x 18"

How I use up my bits of 'hot Hawaiian' pin up girls fabric.  They remain from making pillow cases for my guy.  He gets a new one each Christmas, but I'm running out of different prints!

To show the scale of the pieces.

In some spots I bled the lime green thread into the blue.  It's a Maderia thread and it has a nice sheen to it.

When I faced this piece I used triangles on the corners.  Then I saw a post on IG about facings and checked it out.  Cindy Grisdela, a fabulous textile artist has a great post and it's worth a read. I'm going to try her method next time.  I struggle with the corners!

This piece is on it's way to Mexico. Hopefully it will raise a few dollars for an animal shelter at their annual fund raiser that my sister helping with.  I don't like to donate where pieces are in a silent auction, I'd rather donate the money.  But I made the exception this time.  I once saw a queen quilt go for $48 in a silent auction.  It stabbed me to see that happen.

Have you faced a quilt?  What about stretching a piece over a canvas?  Did  you quilt it first or just mount the top?  What about mounting the finished piece right on the canvas?  I'm intrigued with having a nice back finish.  That's my stumbling block on the stretching over a canvas/stretcher bars.  Any ideas?

Keep stitching

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Just Takes 2 - Revisited

This on going project has been on life support for a few years. I've taken it out, put it on the design wall, and packed it up.....several times. I've helped others get started on the pattern, I've helped someone finish her top and have quilted a few of these. Mine, not so much.  It was retreat time again, so I packed up this box of blocks, fabric and an odd assortment of pages that remain from the pattern. This is what I had to put up on the wall in some manner of organization.  Yes, there are 2 feathered stars, along with two pineapple blocks that were not part of the pattern.

 These below blocks are stragglers that I couldn't seem to fit into the above layout. Trust me, I'm not even close to having a working pattern anymore. It's digital somewhere, maybe on that pc that was two devices ago.  Or maybe on a thumb drive.  I'd have to search through a bowl of those!   What you can't see in this picture is that the bottom block, Goose in the Pond is 11" unfinished.  It's supposed to be 12 1/2" unfinished.  It's been foundation paper pieced and I still remember taking over 2 hours to make this block on a sew day a few years ago.  I kept asking myself, "why would one make a 5 patch block into a 12" finished block?"  Why not rotary cut and piece it into a 15" block? 

Once I had listed all the blocks that were made, I came home and started cutting them up on graph paper.  That seemed to be a design nightmare for me.  I went to Sentimental Stitches, where the pattern came from.  (btw, it's still available for purchase and it's on sale).   I found this spread sheet listed on Gay's site; I hit the motherlode.  All I had to do was figure out how many blocks of what size I had already made and then make more blocks in the remaining sizes.  Then I could put the quilt together in the same order, by block size, that the original pattern showed.

I needed one more 15" block.  That Goose in the Pond?  A perfect candidate for a block that size. I quickly drafted out the measurements, and got to piecing it. Super easy, every seam nests together when it's not FPP, no paper to tear out and no hair to pull out!

In the few pages of patterns that remain, I saw these three circles, so super cute and fast and easy to make. I did reverse applique for the white circle and hand appliqued the red ones.  Stitched together they look darling!

I pulled out my Red and White Bible book of quilts, listed a plethora of pages for block ideas and I now have a workable plan to finish this quilt top. My blocks won't be the same pattern as the original pattern and I'm ok with that.  It will be MY quilt, inspired by Just Takes 2 (much time) and at this point, I am confident this plan will result into a finished quilt top. 

There is a Drunkards Path block on one of the pattern sheets.  This one is supposed to finish at 9" and it's a 4 patch.  The method used in the pattern was applique.  I've made this block before, it's included in my very first sampler quilt.  I pulled out my trustly first quilt book, found my bag of templates, and marked out the sections for a 12" finished block.  I got 14 sections hand stitched last night.

This will definitely become a quilt top.
It won't happen soon, but it will happen.  Maybe on my next retreat I'll get a few more blocks picked out and sewn together.  Maybe I'll already have the blocks stitched (doubtful).   The Red & White  show continues to inspire me and flipping through the book brought so many 'good' quilt designs back in front of me.

The moral of this post? If you love the project, you will finish it.  It might take longer than expected, it might not look like the original piece you started to make, but you can re engage.  It just has to be the right time with the right circumstances.

What project do you want to bring back to the sewing table?
Keep stitching,

Sunday, January 27, 2019

X Marks the Spot - Color Collective Month Two

I've joined the Color Collective put on by Sewtopia  I would highly recommend getting in on the next session of this program as the first two months have been fabulous. Month 2 fabric arrived and I pulled out my bins of solids.  This time I had 3 colors that were close to matching.  This adds up to 19 new colors that I've got to work with in the first two months.  Talk about stretching outside my comfort zone.
Month 2 was all about Foundation Paper Piecing.  I've done this before, but have never made a whole top with this method.  It took me a bit to find my tools; postcard from my Mom and Dad on their Alaskan road trip, and my Add a Quarter ruler.  A must have ruler for this type of work.  And sew it begins.  Cutting and trimming and pressing and trimming and sewing and trimming and pressing. 

First three blocks using 9 of the 12 colors.  This project consisted of 25 blocks so I was trying to do math that would have me use each color in each of the 3 sections of the pattern.  I got dizzy after the first batch of blocks.

I kept at it. I spent about 5 hours in the studio yesterday.  It was interesting how my mind moved to certain things with color combinations.  One set had me think of marching band uniforms, others reminded me of school colors, NFL colors, etc  That was a tough hurdle for me.  I love the combo of green, navy and grey, but that screams Seahawks!
Here I've got enough combos done to start assessing the last few blocks for color and value.  I do love a good gold (cheddar) and had to restrain myself from using it too much.  At this point, 20% of the blocks had gold.  And lets talk about the fuchsia.  I had even more blocks with that color.  What you can't see (due to my less than stellar photos) is that there is a bright watermelon color and another color that looks like a creamsicle.  They seemed sharp, vivid, almost neon to me.  I finally pulled out one offensive block and set it aside.

I went to my trusty black and white setting to see only value.  This makes you look at things in a very different way.

I made a few more blocks and only had 2 holes left to fill.  At this point, I put back the awful block as I added a touch more of that particular color and things started to balance out.  This was pretty dark along the right side but things were coming together for me. 
My last two blocks started with the outside triangle colors.  I wanted to make sure they were not the same as bordering blocks and I went with the dusty blue and fuchsia.

This next photo shows how I worked with dark and light strips.  The bottom part shows that when I put the burgundy fabric on the coral, I left a few threads of the coral showing.  When I flipped and pressed, (the top part of the photo), there is no shadowing of the dark color.

The finished block.  Oh how I loved this dark burgundy with the dusty blue.

In the last block, here came one more of these (hard for me to work with) colors.  That light mint green........ack!  But it really works in the whole project.

Here was my "not so final" layout.  I started back with the black and white photos, did some rearranging and committed to a layout.  This project is one of those where you can move and move and move and never come up with the "perfect" layout. 

I called it done, and sewed the blocks into a top.  Yes, on the left side I have two green X's on top of each other.  Geez!  But I am very pleased with the lessons I learned while making this one.  For some reason my blocks did not all nest together, which has my brain a bit puzzled.  I will be back in the studio doing some testing on why that happened.

I was concerned that my top would look fuchsia and gold so I kept backing off those colors.  They were two of the colors I had in my own stash and I used as second lighter value of gold in some blocks.  I also cut into my piece of fuchsia fabric, so in theory, both the gold and fuchsia should probably not even be in this photo.  These are my left overs from 1/2 yard cuts of all the colors.  You can barely see the dark burgundy, I sure loved using that color.  The color that was used the most was the dark green, and with 3 other greens in this range, I struggled to not have a green quilt top.

These were my colors that I pulled in.  A very dark navy, a dark forest/teal green, two shades of gold and a dark raspberry shade. I also added in a grey as that gave me an extra light without pulling in more of the corals and mint greens.  I did love the baby pink, but again, used it sparingly.

Last shot the finished top.  I love it.  Combinations were used that really stretched my comfort level but now I have a few more combos that I'd like to try out on a bigger scale.  The bottom row holds my favorites.  Left corner is burgundy, dusty blue and fuchsia,  and the middle bottom is gold, pink and dusty blue.  That was my biggest Ah Ha moment.  Gold, pink, blue.  I LOVE this combo.

So thank you Tara Faugnan and Amy at Sewtopia, for a fantastic month 2.  If you are on IG, you can see posts with the hashtag thecolorcollective  Check it out to see how others interpreted these color combinations.

I'll leave you with a fantastic sunset that we had on Friday evening.  Birch Bay at it's finest!

Keep stitching,