Thursday, December 29, 2005

Val's quilt Dec. 29

Yay!!! I finally got back to Val's quilt. I was intimidated by the number of pieces -- most of them triangles -- per block, and I was concerned about getting all the fabrics in the right spot (16 fabrics swirl around), so I kept putting off starting to sew all those little pieces together. But I now am sewing in the basement, which gives me lots of room to lay out a quilt, and so I finally started. It's working! Here you can see only the layout (most of it), but I have now sewn 9 blocks. And guess what? It's not that hard! I love it! Will post a finished block soon.

Project Linus Barbie Quilt

Here's a quilt kit Jocelyn and I (mostly JJ) made for Linus. There were some Barbie fabrics in the stash, so we found coordinating prints, including both a pink and a blue with shiny silver stars, to make a kit. Jocelyn cut the whole thing out. The Linus committee makes kits and then members of the Illini Country Stitchers Guild take home a kit and turn it into a quilt.

Jocelyn's MoMA quilt

I am waaaay behind in my posts! The kids are home for winter break and have taken to quilting. In her first two days home, Jocelyn made this quilt! Over Thanksgiving we were in New York and saw a painting at MoMA that looked like it would translate easily to a quilt. Jocelyn wasted no time in doing it. The painting is by Ellsworth Kelly, Colors for a Large Wall. Check it out on MoMA's website, where they have conveniently made it into an ecard.

We currently have the local Project Linus stash in our basement, and amazingly Jocelyn found almost all the colors among the donated fabrics. We purchased a couple colors. She's donating the quilt to Linus. They get lots of quilts for babies, not too many for teenagers, and we think an artistically inclined teen might really like this one.

By the way, Jocelyn's blocks match up PERFECTLY. No one would ever guess this was anyone's first attempt at quilting!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Christmas quilt

I've taken 3 classes recently, but this is the only one where I've taken a photo of the project. This is the first of twelve rows (eek! twelve!) on a holiday quilt. There is lots of machine applique, which is why I took the class. It's fun but time consuming and there is NO WAY I will finish this before Christmas, especially as I want to get down to serious work on Val's quilt. But it was really fun choosing the fabrics. I love the snow-like sky in the background, and the swirls in Santa's robe and beard. (If you click on the photo, it will enlarge and you can see things better.) I couldn't find good fabric for the face, but my friend Glennys had some great blotchy fabric that she fussy-cut for her Santa's face and she let me use some. You would never have guessed to look at the fabric that it would have worked out so well. I outlined the tree in metallic gold thread with a feather stitch, starting at the bottom and working up on each side so the feathers would all point in the right direction. I plan to outline the star in some way, too, and stitch gold swags on the tree. Isn't that a cool fabric -- decorations already on it! The Santa has yet to be outlined, but I've decided not to do basic black. I'll try to follow the Santa colors at least somewhat. I am thinking satin stitch for part at least, otherwise a small blanket stitch.


Yes!!! Jocelyn's African Coins quilt is done and delivered! Here it is draped on the couch. The photo is sideways (I don't know how to rotate it), but you get the idea. It was delivered in October and JJ tells me she shows it off quite a bit. I shouldn't encourage that behavior, but in this case I don't mind!

Friday, October 07, 2005

African Coins top all pieced!

Hoorah!!! The top is done!!! I know all those exclamation marks make me seem like an 8 year old, but believe me, I am EXCITED. I think it looks great. I also took some photos of the back, which is also pieced, but the photos are so bad I won't post them.

What's tomorrow? Quilting day!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

All cut up!!

I did it!! I got up the nerve to cut apart that big, beautiful piece of stripped fabrics. Here it is, all laid out on the family room floor. I need to cut the black sashing that goes between all the strips and also the black border. (Don't worry about that one backwards black square in the geometric piecing -- I will fix it!)

Been thinking about the binding, too. I was trying to decide which fabric would look best, and was thinking that I would have to wait to audition it, and then I had a brilliant idea! I will piece together strips of many (probably not all) the fabrics to make a multi-colored binding. Sound good? Let me know!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Backing for JJ's African Coins

Backing fabric for JJ's quilt! I can't believe my good fortune -- Sew Sassy has batik-look flannels! They match the African Coins quilt perfectly. This is a replacement photo for the one I loaded yesterday, but it's not a whole lot better.

Just think about it -- soft, fuzzy, warm flannel. I love it!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

JJ's African Coins Sept. 28

I have been cutting and piecing the vertical strips that will run through this quilt. You can see one here, lying over the uncut horizontal strips (still haven't gotten the nerve to cut them!). The vertical strips will have black running down each side, which will separate the yellow design from the horizontal strips.

If you want to see a small photo of what the finished quilt will look like (and see the online directions) go to the African Coins Quilt instruction page on the Simply Quilts website by clicking here: African Coins Quilt. I like our color selection better! And that's the way it should be. At the Timberlane Quilters' Guild site you can see another version that I like quite a bit -- though still not as much as ours! It's "(5) African Coins"; click on the photo of it to enlarge it. I do love how we can all use the same pattern and yet individualize it to suit ourselves.

Val's Quilt Sept. 28

All cut out! It took a loooong time because there are lots of pieces, but in my unbiased opinion it was totally worth it. It will be a little while before I can sew the pieces together because I am working on other projects, but it will be ready when I am.

One thing I am concerned about is a name for this quilt. It may come as I work on it, but I'm open to suggestions.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Pattern for Val's quilt

As promised, here's the basic pattern in Val's quilt. This is a light teal pattern. Each "arm" is taken from a different basic bulding block of the pattern, so what you see are 4 quadrants of 4 different blocks that combine to make the pattern. I realize that this may be as clear as mud, so just click here to follow the link: Snail's Trail Quilt Block Coloring Page. This will take you to a page that shows one block colored in, then a quilt with just the basic block, and then the quilt colored in the traditional monkey wrench/snail's trail way. (I have since seen it called "ocean waves" also.) Isn't it amazing how coloring it that way changes the basic look of the block?!? This is one of the things I love about quilting!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Val's Quilt

Here are the fabrics for Val's quilt! As you can see, there are four groups of four -- light purple and dark purple, light teal and dark teal. She's chosen a snail's tail/monkey wrench pattern (I've seen it called both, and I've seen each of those names applied to another design, too, so her pattern is the one that goes by both names). If you are unfamiliar with the design, I'll post a block once it's made. It will look great with all these colors!

This photo has the four groups of fabrics with the backing fabric in the middle. It's a batik flannel -- with both teal and purple! How great is that?! It feels buttery soft to the touch, a really warm, cuddly backing.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Project Linus & Katrina Quilts

Project Linus collects quilts for children up to age 18. My local quilt guild, the Illini Country Stitchers, collects them for distribution through the local Crisis Nursery and elsewhere as needed. We are sending some now to aid Katrina victims. I'm on the Project Linus committee and came home from our last work day with a big bag of scraps that were too small to do much with. I cut them into blocks and supplemented with some pale blocks I had cut for my machine applique class but never used. I stitched them all together and came up with this quilt. (I'm also making another in a different style, but I'll post that later.)

I supplemented from my own stash and also purchased the orange fabric for the border and binding. It's not my favorite quilt, but it's bright and cheery and has lots for a kid to look at.

Here's a closeup of one section so you can see the prints a little better. The hearts were appliqued during my machine applique class. I didn't really have a use for them, and they matched the extra blocks I was using, so I added them to the quilt.

It feels good to turn donated scraps into something useful. I hope whatever child receives this quilt, or any other donated quilt, really feels warmed by it -- inside and out.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

JJ's African Coins (QIP)

I'm making this quilt for my daughter Jocelyn, aka JJ. It's a QIP (quilt in progress). We were looking for a pattern and as soon as she saw a photo of this quilt, she knew it was The One. It was in the Fall 2005 issue of Quilt magazine, but unfortunately no pattern was given. Since the design came from A World of Quilts by Beth Ann Williams, I ordered a copy of the book. But we got lucky! When Beth Ann Williams was on Simply Quilts, this is the quilt she demonstrated. We found the directions on the HGTV website and were able to buy fabric before the book arrived.

This photo was taken outside and the colors look washed out (too sunny, I guess), but at least you can see the full length. (The photo is sideways - I can't seem to load it when I have have it lengthwise.)

Buying fabric was an amazing experience. It was so exciting to look at all those wonderful batiks and ethnic prints and actually get to buy them! We went to our LQS, Sew Sassy, to look. When I told them we wanted one-eighth yard each of 49 different fabrics, I thought they might faint, but they were very cheerful about it. Still, I'm afraid they will run for cover next time they see me coming.

Here you can see a few of the fabrics close up (well, closer than in the other photos). The next step is to cut this into 5 strips to put in lengthwise pieced sashing. I don't know how I'll get the nerve to cut it.

I didn't know where the name African Coins came from -- the strips sure don't look like coins -- but then I remembered seeing a Chinese Coins quilt that had the same strip piecing with vertical sashing. So that explains the name, but now I wonder where the name Chinese Coins came from ...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Fruit Basket Upset

Have you looked at the post on Japanese Lightening, my first quilt? I was going to make that quilt with some of these fruit and vegetable fabrics, then decided it wouldn't work. I'm not sure why I decided that, but I did, and I do like the Japanese fabrics I chose instead. But I had purchased these fabrics and every time I went to Eddie's Quilting Bee, I bought another. I'm a dietitian and guess I'm just naturally drawn to the beautiful colors of nature's bounty.

Sharon Pederson, author of Reversible Quilts, came to Eddie's and I took a class from her. She's a wonderful teacher! I never finished the table runner (for a variety of reasons, but maybe I will one day), but I loved the method. I have her book More Reversible Quilts and she has a fast and easy charity quilt pattern in it. That's the pattern I used for this. I wanted to try the pattern for Project Linus, but it suddenly dawned on me that the five stripes were perfect for a rainbow of colorful foods! Of course, I didn't have enough of all the fabrics I needed. I was able to order more through internet stores (there was none available locally any longer). I couldn't find more of the plum fabric online anywhere, but posted a request on the RJR Fabric website. I could hardly believe my good fortune when a fellow quilter replied with a source for that fabric!

This is the back of the quilt. It's reversible, but I think of the other side as the front.

I played around with a variety of names for this quilt. Family members helped (well, sometimes they helped and sometimes they got silly -- Val came up with Agribusiness as a title!), but the old childhood game of Fruit Basket Upset won out.

The quilt is not finished. It would lack only a binding, but I have decided to add a border of cherries on the front and watermelons on the back. I'll post more when I get it done!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hearts for Shannon

Jocelyn has a good friend who just adopted a baby girl named Shannon. I had just adopted (well, ok, bought) a new sewing machine, and so it seemed like the right thing to try it out on a baby quilt. I wanted hearts, and lots of bright colors. Looks like I got both. :)

My new machine can do a little embroidery, so I decided to put Shannon's name under one of the hearts. It worked! I used the variegated thread and practiced. I didn't want to have the yellow on the variegated thread disappear against the yellow fabric, but I was able to work it out. Thank goodness her name wasn't longer! (Don't worry -- I did get rid of those long tails of thread you see in the photo.)

Here's a corner with a little heart. This is not a complicated pattern -- squares with appliqued hearts separated by sashing -- but it was my first experience figuring out how to do this without help from a teacher. I'm very happy with the colors, but the border fabric was really tricky to work with. I do like having one heart on the quilt be in the border fabric.

This is my first quilt label. I don't think every quilt has to be labeled, but this was a gift and I wanted the little girl's name and birthday on it. I let my machine do the embroidery, but it took awhile to figure out how to get it done. It's a little wobbly, but it's readable.

I hated to say goodbye to this quilt. I love it, and I hope Shannon will grow up loving it, too. Jocelyn gave it to Shannon's mother today. I had included a color sheet for washing, but the mom told Jocelyn that there was no way that quilt was going to have any bodily fluids on it to be washed off -- it is going on the wall!

Hamsa pillows

We stayed in a wonderful sabbatical house in Palo Alto this past winter and spring. Miriam, the owner, had displayed her hamsa collection throughout the house. I wanted to leave a thank-you gift that would fit with the house, so I chose to add to the hamsa collection.

I had just learned how to machine applique and thought I could probably make a pillow. In retrostpect, I wish I had made fitted pillows rather than ones with a flange, but I like the applique. The hamsa is outlined with gold metallic thread and a feather stitch.

Flowers for Mozart

Last week on Simply Quilts, one of the guests complained that naming her quilts had become such a chore that now she just gives them girls' names in alphabetical order (like hurricanes!). She and I must come from different planets. Naming a quilt is right up there with quilting itself. Sometimes I work long and hard on the name, and sometimes it just comes. Here's one that came prematurely, while I was still selecting fabrics, and then proved wrong... and then right again. I found the fabrics together, designed for each other, and even though I normally don't go for this style print -- and certainly not for this particular color of green -- I was completely taken in this time. The fabric that first caught my attention was a rosy pink with tiny black musical scores all over it. That was going to be an important fabric in the quilt, and with the floral print, the name Flowers for Mozart just popped into my head and that was it. Before I continue, look at the quilt:

Do you see that rosy pink with the musical notes? I hope not, because it's not there! As I was working out the quilt design, it just didn't fit. I finally decided it would make a great binding. But guess what...when I auditioned it, it didn't work there either! The fabric is still in my stash, waiting for the right quilt. But I was enamored of the name and wouldn't give it up. And then, yay! As I was finishing piecing, I noticed (how could I have missed it before?), that the floral print has tiny, pale little snippets of musical notation in it. Perfect! The name that felt so right was right after all!

I made this quilt in Begin with Bev I. I like the pattern, I like the fabrics, and I like the quilt -- but it's too small for anything. It's not the sort to hang on a wall, and it's too small really to be much of a quilt to cuddle under. Brian doesn't care for the colors or even the style particularly, and so between its lack of functionality and its lack of coordination with all the other colors in the house, it now sits in the closet. Perhaps I will give it to a baby at some time. Maybe the musical notes will give it sweet dreams.

Latin Express

I made this quilt in Begin with Bev II at Eddie's Quilting Bee. We made the pinwheels using Thangles - totally cool! At the time I thought they were fun, but never having worked with half-square triangles in any other way, I didn't fully appreciate them. I do now. :)

The focus fabric is a woven Guatemalan fabric. I didn't know enough not to use that for quilting, and I'm glad I didn't. I chose it because I loved it! There were lots of bright colors to pick out for the pinwheels. Because there were stripes in the fabric, I had to think carefully before cutting, but it worked out fine. I mitered the border corners, which I think look spiffy. I added the turquoise border to make the blue pop.

This is an earlier stage, when I was playing around with color placement. I include it here because the colors of the pinwheels show up better than in the other photo. You can really see the difference between the green and blue here.

This is the back of the quilt. It's just a solid piece of fabric, but the very bright cups of coffee jumped out and said "Buy me!" when I was in the quilt shop.

The quilt is called "Latin Express" as something of a play on words. The Guatemalan fabric and the coffee made it Latin, and the pinwheels reminded me of wheels, like on an express train. Express, of course, is similar to espresso.

I made this quilt for my mother for Mother's Day. The original idea had been to use brightly colored pinwheels with a black and white crossword puzzle fabric (she works them daily) that I had seen, but on closer inspection, the crossword turned out to be filled in with sewing words. That wasn't appealing to me, so I kept the bright colors, which my mother usually likes, and looked around for another focus fabric. I really liked the Guatemalan one, and it seemed appropriate since we lived in Central America for a few years. She says she likes the quilt, and I hope she does!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Passover Table Runner

I found this adorable ten plagues table runner as a kit on the 1-800-DREIDEL website. It came complete with fabrics, though you can also order just the pattern and buy your own fabrics. I ordered the whole kit, but replaced a few of the fabrics with ones I purchased. I thought it was time to make something without doing it in a class setting, and Passover (April 2005) was coming up. This looked easy. For the most part it was, but the heavier matzah fabric was a little hard to work with. I had a hard time with the binding -- finishing off the side where the binding meets is tough, and you can see a big lump on the side of this. I took out that part of the binding after the photo was taken and tried to fix it. It's better, but still not great. I have since learned a much much MUCH easier way to do bindings that look great every time, and I'll post that info later.

Here are some closeups so you can see the fabrics. Across the top row and then the bottom row, the plagues are: blood, frogs, vermin, wild beasts, cattle disease, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, death of the first born.

I have another kit just like this and I am hoping that the next one will come out more professional looking. I want to give one to each of my daughters eventually, and I will let them decide who gets one of their mom's earliest quilts and who gets the better-looking one! Both are made with love. (Awwww....)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Napa Table Runner

This is the first quilt block I made (February 2005). The block is officially called Patience Corner -- and this took patience! The Quilting 101 class I took started with templates and handpiecing, which is how this block was made. I now have huge respect for quilters of yesteryear who had no other way to piece. I knew I would soon learn machine piecing (otherwise I might have given up -- too slow!), so I was able to relax and enjoy the fabrics and colors. I chose grapes in honor of being in California and to help remember the fabulous trip to Napa Brian and I took right after we dropped our youngest child off at college. The subtle pattern in the green is vine leaves, and the blue is, well, just gorgeous. I think it may be a bit much for the table runner but, hey, this was my first block!

I made three blocks and assembled them to make a table runner. But I was stymied. I needed something to separate the blocks from my planned blue border (otherwise the blue in the blocks would run into the border), but I had no idea what to do. By then I was taking Begin with Bev II, again at Eddie's Quilting Bee, and Bev said some purple would make the quilt "pop" and pick up the purple in the grapes. I love purple, and thought it was a wonderful idea, but couldn't find the right fabric. So she found this one -- took her maybe 10 seconds! The purple is really rich and beautiful, but it doesn't show up well in these photos, sorry. If I get a better photo, I will post it. I used the purple on the binding, too. And as you can see, the blue border became a green border. It's one of the fun things about quilting, following where the quilt leads.

Here's the table runner at work. Often I put it across the center lengthwise, with three small candles in green, blue, and yellow holders that my mother gave me. Looks great. But here it is being used for challah and shabbat candles. The challah cover was made by me and my two daughters, Jocelyn and Valerie. Brian took one stitch so that we could say the whole family made it!

Japanese Lightening, my first quilt

This is my first quilt, Japanese Lightening. I took Quilting 101 with Monica DePalma at Eddie's Quilting Bee in Mountain View, California, and this is what we made. I am so grateful to my niece, Laurel, for lending me her wonderful Baby Lock sewing machine.

Here's a closeup of the block. It's a simple rail fence pattern, but when you're a newbie, it's a challenge! Stitching in the ditch sounded easy, too, but it wasn't!

This is a photo of the backing. I love the fabric!

My Quilting Blog

My daughter Jocelyn set up this blog for me. What fun! All those Q's in the title are her idea, and I like them.

I made a few feeble attempts at quilting many years ago, but I had no idea what I was doing. The first quilt I made, in 1970, I gave as a baby gift to my newborn niece Laurel. It disintegrated the first time it was washed! That did me in. Over the years I occasionally bought quilt instruction books and looked longingly through them, but I was intimidated.

This past winter we spent 5 months in California for my husband Brian's sabbatical and I decided to try again. I signed up for a quilting class and borrowed a sewing machine. In the wonderful way that things sometimes work, it was my niece Laurel -- all grown up now and with a baby of her own (for whom she has made many beautiful quilts!) -- who lent me her machine. I loved the class, I loved the fabric, I loved the patterns, I loved everything about quilting. I was hooked.

My plan is to post photos of my quilts so that I can easily share them with far-flung friends and family. In addition to Laurel and lots of my family in California, Esther, the mother of a good friend, gave me a lot of encouragement when I told her of my interest in quilting. She lives in North Carolina. I also want to be able to look back at the quilts I've made. I've already given one away and am about to give away another. The photos I post here will be good reminders.

If you are a friend or family member, or someone who has stumbled across this blog another way, enjoy! I frequently look at others' quilting blogs, and I hope this gives as much pleasure to fellow quilters as their sites have given to me.