Monday, December 5, 2016

Be Still My Heart, I Have a New Lap Quilt

Another finish today! Apparently I'm in the mode. This little quilt somehow snuck it's way into the lineup and just demanded to be. I've long been a fan of Victoria Gertenbach's thread work, but knew I didn't have her artistic flare {go back further on her blog to see even more beautifully done hand work}. So then, when I saw Svetlana's simple, yet lovely quilt, it somehow became 'the quilt'.
Be Still, my new lap quilt
You know about these. The quilts that somehow light a fire of determination where you really didn't know there was enough intensity to even light a match in the first place? Yep. Off I went on my quest to find the perfect pepper cotton fabric. I love how supple the fabric is and how it shines in proper lighting. Also, I was already imagining a cheater way of making the quilt. How about a subtle print that would preclude me from having to mark for stitching lines? If this quilt was going to bully it's way into the lineup, then it certainly didn't need to monopolize all my precious quilting time for the next forever.*wink
Such lovely texture
With pepper cotton fabric apparently on its way out, Just found out it's still available onlineI was very limited in color selection, but found myself delighted with the soft seafoam green I found. The backing fabric was a much tougher selection as I didn't want anything to detract from the simplicity of the entire [wholecloth} quilt look. I finally settled on a charcoal fabric with lines of indiscriminate black text. I actually love that the words are indecipherable.
Love, love, love looking at this quilt
Not having to mark my fabric made the hand quilting go very quickly. I ended up using nine different balls of #8 and #12 Perle Cotton thread, some variegated and others plain. The biggest struggle with the entire quilt was the fact that I was having to worry about the consistency of how the stitching was showing up on the backside of the quilt {the green side}, which in fact would eventually become the front side of the quilt. At least in my eyes!

Ooh, how annoying to realize that my normal pattern of stitching is more of a longish stitch {or two or three} and then a very small, little nod to the idea of a stitch. I think it's the long needle I use for the thicker Perle Cotton that makes my rocking motion a lot random that way. More taking out of stitching than I'd like to admit too, but it didn't really interfere with my excitement at seeing this quilt take shape. {And really, lets stop pretending that my stitching will ever be anything close to flawless or that I'd even want it that way if I could somehow convince my fingers to cooperate....}
A closer look at the print fabric backing
I also took extra time trying to find the 'perfect' binding fabric for this quilt. I knew I didn't want a red or other bright colored fabric, but did spend lots of time in my cream and then eventually, the yellow/gold fabric tote playing with possibilities. After a mostly disappointing search in most all of my fabric totes, I finally decided to look in the purple/lavender tote. Imagine my surprise when the fabric that jumped out at me was a brownish purple plaid? It had all the elements I was looking for, including a bit of lightness to subtly break up the long line of color on the outside of the quilt.

Indeed, I almost went for a cream binding initially, but just couldn't make myself be convinced the quilt looked the better for it! This mellow, toned down plaid somehow brings the entire quilt together in a way that I love and adore. It makes it unmistakably my quilt, which is quite a feat in such a simple, basic quilt! I mean seriously, how many components are there to quibble over? I remain amazed at how much every single quilt has to teach if we try to pay proper attention to what's it's trying to tell us.
Working on border blocks for two different quilts
My family pretty much thinks I went a little bonkers. 'Mom, it's so plain?' And it didn't help that I kept calling it my 'boring' quilt while chuckling like well, I actually was having real mental slippage. I'm sure at least a few of you understand how much fun I was having...

Saturday was more normal in terms of attitude towards my quilting--I had the gift of a very long day of piecing work, of which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was marvelous to play with the fabric and all the lovely colors, just chain stitching away and not having to think anything through. These will end up being the borders on two similar but different projects. I don't know why I'm working in pairs these days, but whatever works, right?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December Quilty 365 Linkup

For all the Quilty 365 people, I just want to hang my head and say 'nothing to see here' this month! The only thing accomplished with these blocks during the month of November was a sort-of, possibly, maybe-it-might-be-definite layout plan. Which is slightly better than nothing, but still. I am a bit embarrassed by the extreme lack of progress here.
Stacks of circles for Quilty 365
I planned the time carefully when there would be nobody home but me. That's important around here with a massive living room takeover! Had all the blocks laid out in the living room floor--some half hiding under the couch and on the other side of the quilt, overlapping the next block over so as to remember there was actually an outside row. Things get complicated when there are oodles of blocks and plenty of seam allowance to deal with!

Then, wouldn't you know it, my husband came home early. {Hey Sweetie, could you just sit in a kitchen chair until I finish up?} Next comes my youngest son, desperately needing to get upstairs to his basketball practice clothing. {Okay. If you take your shoes off maybe you could carefully walk across my lovely fabric blocks? Yeah, about those sweaty socks... Wince, wince, wince} And then finally, my youngest daughter comes home from work thinking it's her right and privilege to access her bedroom door too. Hmmm... I give up!

And so I'm at a stalemate with my hastily made-up-into-rows circle blocks. I can: Be brave and sew the rows together as is, trusting that my natural instincts caught all the weird issues that sometimes come up with scrappy fabric pairings.  Or, I can be cautious {nitpicky} and take the time to once again, lay all the blocks out for another audition. I'm leaning hard toward a real life scenario and letting the blocks fall where they may.

In the meantime, I am stitching away my concerns into an impulsively made up project that consists of nothing but two pieces of fabric, some batting and lots of thread.
Lots of Perle Cotton in this Peppered Cotton backing
I believe some people call it a whole cloth quilt, but for me, it's become a hilarious, eye opening look at what the stitching looks like on the back side of my quilts. Not wanting to waste time marking the quilt, I chose a basic gridded fabric to guide my stitching lines. Oh yeah. Did not think this one through at all! Good thing it's a small lap size intended to be used at church. Hard to be judgmental there.*wink
Trying to be consistent with my stitches on the
back side of the quilt this time....
But enough of that. Are you still circling with me? It seems there is a loyal few left so please give us something to look at. Some are moving ahead to the next step already! Love the finished ones I've been seeing. So incredible to see them come to life as a full fledged quilt! If you're still working on the blocks, please feel free to link a thumbnail picture to a current post on your blog detailing:
  • What particular day you happen to be at now {such as 'day 350'}
  • A picture of all your November circles whether they are stitched to the background fabric or not
  • A link back to this post
  • Any thoughts or introspection you might want to add about this particular project

Monday, November 28, 2016

Ohio Memories Finished and Gifted

I am positively amazed at how much time there is between posts these days. Wowsers, is there anyone out there who even cares anymore? lol  So this is 'Ohio Memories', the quilt I finished up for my parents 50th anniversary. Looking back through the blog, there are very few posts about it. My insecurities about the journey to making it 102" by 102" made me reluctant to post about it during those years. Now I spread the good, bad and ugly with indiscriminate joy! 
A finished Ohio Memories quilt!
I started out with a pattern from the 2002 Quilt Sampler magazine called 'Ohio Memories'. It's one I literally drooled over and then refused to start because I was sure the applique was waay beyond my skill level. Then, sometime in 2010, I decided to quit being a scaredy cat and just made myself start the quilt. Well, the applique was much easier than I ever dreamed--lots of simple, largish pieces with nothing intricate at all. Placement was the very worst part and since I'm not a perfectionist, I only allowed myself to dither for so long and then would start stitching regardless of imagined flaws.
The quilt of many borders! Too big to lay out on the floor properly....
In the original pattern, immediately after the large applique centerpiece was a thin border and then next up was a larger plain border with an embroidered saying all done in redwork. Well, that just drove me crazy, the idea of embroidering so many words. Eventually I decided the quilt needed pieced borders instead, and set about trying to make that happen. Making the decision to mimic the subtle Ohio Stars blocks inside the center was easy. Measuring to make that happen however, was a bit challenging. But the border did finally do what it was supposed to do and only requiring a slight trim of the inside border fabric to all fit and play nicely together.
Looking at the quilting
Then I came up with the bright idea of turning the entire quilt 'on point'. Oh yes! So interesting and I had all the fabric in my stash. ha ha  The best laid plans of mice and men! I threw on a narrow green coping border and then somehow determined the corner setting triangles were going to be the simple square blocks filling in the corners of the quilt. Easy peasy.

Yeah. It should have been. It was at this point, I quickly realized my quilt had lost something important in translation. It seemed to be drowning in pink. Wanting to brighten it up and lose the sickly sweet look, I came up with the idea of adding on the cream triangle overlay border. I had to un-stitch those sewn-on corner blocks, sew the long cream borders onto the inside seam and then carefully draw and cut my cream triangles so I could applique them into place. {You can see the details of that in the previous picture if you are a quilter. And except for the fact that the triangles are raised, most people would never realize.} Nevertheless, it was a choice that pretty much haunted me. Made me wonder at times if in fact, the whole quilt was a total failure. I love the way the cream ties back into the center part of the quilt so well, but have a love/hate relationship with how it also fades into the lighter squares on the corners.
Trying to get a better picture before it started raining again!
We always question our quilting decisions don't we? Before, during and even long after. Thankfully, the machine quilting helped me like those cream triangles a little more. Like I said in a previous post. My friend did an amazing job with what I wanted to have happen with the quilting.

The last two border however, were not stressful in the slightest. The prior mess and resulting 'fix' maxed me out on the stress part of it I guess! Just a small little pop of color in the thin pink sashing border and then the mixed brown fabric borders all to frame everything in a satisfactory way. Wallah! A finish! I did agonize for months though about the very point of where the green coping strips met up with both the cream triangles and the thin bright pink sashing border. It took pretty much forever to settle on the simple flower applique, but once that was stitched on, I just breathed a big sigh of relief and said 'no more second guessing allowed!'
My awesome helper bee....
The entire quilt top took about two years from start to finish, but then it's been sitting in the drawers for years waiting on this anniversary {and motivation to do the sandwiching and quilting}. I didn't start this quilt with my parents 50th anniversary in mind, but as it grew, I always sort of knew they would be the very best recipients. Of course, things don't work out as planned and even though this quilt has been at my friends for the long-arming since June or July? I only got it back from her about two and a half weeks ago. Luckily I found the binding fabric at the first store I looked in and was able to get the binding completed last Tuesday, then the label attached on Wednesday morning. Whew!
Big congrats for an amazing 50 yrs together!
The anniversary party went together extremely well and it helps that my oldest brother was a florist once upon a time and two of my sister-in-laws do wedding cakes! We were run off our legs putting it together of course--serving a meal for between 150 and 175 people!-- but I think my parents greatly appreciated it. 

There's been the tough years, more sorrows than most deal with, and many, many changes along the way, including the burning down of their home of 40 yrs and now a beautiful new house. They've also had a very bountiful life and so very, many blessings they are not shy to speak of. The big picture boards placed around the reception were wonderful. Such a reflection of their lives and dare I say,  'legacy'?

It was an incredibly emotional week for all of us {I couldn't believe how much it affected me!}, but so sweet to see them enjoy a Thanksgiving with all of their children/grandchildren in town followed by the celebratory anniversary party. So much fun to see them serve cake to each other and smile in a way that shows their continuing love and care for each other. They much deserved having this party and I was very happy to be a part of making it happen--even though my feet hurt like the dickens by the end of Saturday night and I just wanted to crawl into bed for a week!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Slow Quilting in My Down Time

It's been hectic. The usual mayhem and some extra stuff thrown in as well. So what else is new? I finally got one of my oldest unfinished quilts back from my friend--she of the new quilting longarm business. I asked her to leave the large flowers in the center alone as I wanted to add a little Perle Cotton stitching there. Funny me, I stitched in a dark brown color first, my usual go-to color, and then did some ripping out. Ughh. It needed a much lighter thread in order to keep that happy glow!
Ohio Memories quilt
And really, the stitching my friend did is wonderful. It didn't need anything added except that I wanted it. I'll show better pictures later when the quilt is totally finished. The thing is, my heart aches just a wee little bit because this would have been absolutely beautiful {in my eyes} if completely hand quilted. The texture my friends. It's all about the texture! ha! We all have our preferences don't we? And unfortunately there aren't enough hours in a day to hand quilt them all.

I'm also working on another quilt with a combination of machine and hand quilting. You know, because it was on my 2016 goal list! The machine quilting was done on my Bernina, stitch-in-the-ditch around the blocks and on both sides of the stripey border. Now I'm going back in and hand quilting inside the blocks and setting triangles. It's going so quickly and just making the quilt come alive for me. I keep getting a sort of Christmassy vibe from this quilt {must be the colors?} and so my hope is to finish this in time to use during the holidays.

At this point I'm seriously contemplating going back to the machine to quilt a cross-hatch design on the red border. It would be fast and probably look just as good as anything I hand quilted as the border fabric is very busy. That's my best gauge when I'm mixing combinations of machine and hand quilting in the same quilt. Will the hand stitching shine? Make the quilt look more special? If not, then I can skip it without remorse.
Red and Green and Baskets Quilt
All the hand quilting is done on the Pickle Dish quilt now. Sorry the picture doesn't show the texture on this one better. It's such a great quilt. Still can't believe I actually made this one! The binding is machine stitched to the quilt, just waiting for appropriate time to do the hand stitching and then, wallah! This one is going straight to my bed!
Pickle Dish
One of the things taking up chunks of my time lately is a 50th anniversary party for my parents. Scheduled to take place the Saturday after Thanksgiving, time has sort of slipped away as you can only imagine. All of the offspring are putting together 32" x 40" picture boards of our person and individual family which will then be arranged for display in birth order {there were 12 children born to my parents so quite the line-up}. There will also be another board specifically for my parents as well as other special pics of them, so that's more work too. Anyway, back to my point, in the center of these sibling boards we are requested to have a current 8x10" picture of ourselves.

So this weekend, my oldest daughter finally corralled my next oldest sister and me for our 'current' picture. Ugghh! Who wants to see that large a picture when we have the stereotypical, flabby, middle-aged body? I was instructed to take a quilt with me and my sister needed to take one of her dogs. Apparently this would help get us in the mood? and I hate to admit, something that probably worked exactly as planned.
A pic of me a few blocks from my house....
We didn't end up picking the above picture, but I just had to show you. Quilting doesn't do much for our thighs, but it really does enable some pretty awesome results otherwise. Now if the wind would just quit blowing for a minute, I might have been able to at least partially disguise the fact that I inhale entirely too much Pepsi and chocolate.....

Linking up with Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching. What a great post over there today!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

November Quilty 365 Linkup

Oh my goodness! How could it possibly be November 1st already? I am so very unprepared for this link-up day. No good pictures, just a quickie when I dumped all the circles out on the floor the other day. Got to count and make sure there really are 366 you know!
All the circles are here and accounted for!
It's always fun to reach this point in a project isn't it?  A bit overwhelming when looking at them like this in all their random colors, but I really am excited to see what can be made out of these. Are you still circling with me? If so, please link a thumbnail picture to a current post on your blog detailing:
  • What particular day you happen to be at now {such as 'day 340'}
  • A picture of all your October circles whether they are stitched to the background fabric or not
  • A link back to this post
  • Any thoughts or introspection you might want to add about this particular project
For those who started later, I still intend to have the regular circle link-up in December and January as well. And once again, a very huge THANK YOU to all who have joined in! So much fun to see all the great circles 'in progress' and yes, those marvelous circle quilts already being put together--or possibly even finished at the moment. 

When would be a good time to have the link-up for fully-put-together-quilt tops or completed circle quilts? Any suggestions? Mine will definitely not be anything more than a quilt top, but then I'm usually slow about the final touches.  It's just that I'd love to see them all together in one place and that's when I intend to have the giveaway post as well. Regardless of how this quilt looks in the end, it already feels like a huge accomplishment to get this far with you!


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Latest AHIQ Stuff Going On Around Here

Just a quick round-up of the latest AHIQ work being done around here. No improv. piecing at the moment as I am mired in hand work. And no, I'm not the least bit upset about it! Chunky Crossroads below is moving on, gaining a border. All the prep work is sooooo tedious, but it is what it is and applique work cannot seem to exist without some effort.
Chunky Crossroads
That interesting border motif was inspired by a 'Mad About Folk Art' book {by Gerry Kimmel}. I found this oldish book in a collectible-type store bargain bin early in the year. Hello! Come to mama! My mind is busily considering whether or not the open leaves need a little addition of color--perhaps a round little flower bud instead of the single fabric print suggested in the book.

Improv. Wheels below is what is left of my improv. pinwheels, straight out of the Sujata Shah book that I can't seem to put down. After all the centers are sewn down, then we will start getting serious about a layout. I'm really hoping to keep the slight vintage feel to the blocks so probably won't get too crazy with the setting.

Improv. Wheels
The Tumbler Big Basket 'centerpiece' is all set, ready to go forward as well. I lumped it in with the other AHIQ projects because of the tumbler block experiment. Such an improv. attitude to take a full sheet of 'piecing' and cut it up! With the basket stitched down now, it just barely needed that little bit of 'framework-type' border to make me happy--set the stage for the rest of the quilt. And yes, it has a lot of open space around that big 'ol basket. Something I can work with later if turns out to be too white and bright!
Big Tumbler Basket
All these smaller baskets will be sewn onto the big basket {top and right sides only}, and are now totally completed. Would you look at that? A couple of them even get an extra pop of applique in the guise of a cheerful little flower. I know. Just can't seem to stop myself....
Little Baskets
Then I'm thinking maybe a long flowy vine thing down the left and bottom of that big basket. Hopefully with some roses and rosebuds too? I keep drawing lots of berries in my vague 'what-if'' drawings, then remember that no, this particular vine seems to need more of a flower shape. Do you ever do that?

The little block below is what I'm testing out for the bottom right corner of the quilt. Sort of a 'title or introduction' block for the quilt. I do love words on a quilt. So yeah, if the vine side of the quilt ends up being slightly wider than the little baskets, the entire quilt will present slightly asymmetrical. If all works out as currently envisioned of course!
Gather Ye Rosebuds block ready to applique
And the Improv. Woven Basket has been left on the wall. Still pondering border ideas so as to make that quilt larger without losing any of the current charm. It's something I worry about because little quilts are not nearly as 'usable' around here. I find myself constantly trying to push all these quilt projects into something more efficient for the long term, because in my world, quilts need to be well appreciated to make this all worthwhile!

So..., lots of applique work in the queue before moving on with any of these projects, but it's usually very intriguing to push through the steps. Right? Gotta love this wonderful process in quilt building: What's next? What works? What color? What shapes does it really need? My mind as always, is constantly working in the background, making those wonderful connections that can {hopefully} lead to a better, more individual, quilt.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Circles, circles and more circles....

Ahem. Well, it appears that I don't have a problem with appliqueing circles anymore. Just needed a different format? lol
Improv. Woven Basket quilt
I present to you the proof. Here are 28 circle-y type flowers {including 28 roundish circle-y centers} that I worked on. All. Weekend. Long. Cut, cut, stitch, stitch. Who knew? I'm thinking it was the colors that drew me in for a great big 'ol quilty hug, 'cuz I just didn't wanna quit. You know how it is when the driving 'need-to-see-the-results' overcome the logic.*wink
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