Monday, June 26, 2006

I Spy preview

All laid out! Now I'm ready to stitch the hexagons into rows and the rows into a quilt top. Often people just do it randomly, but I like to make sure I don't have several squares with a black background together, or all the animals in a little cluster. Laying the quilt out before sewing gives me the opportunity to move the blocks around. I would like a design wall, and will probably make one soon, but for now I use a flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth on the floor. The pieces stick, so I can move the whole thing, or roll it up and take it somewhere. It would be a lot easier to stand up and do this on a wall than to crawl around on the floor!

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Today I took a class from Cynthia Schmitz, award-winning machine quilter. I learned so much! Until now, I have done only stitch-in-the-ditch or a little straight-line quilting, but have been terrified to try free motion quilting (FMQ). Cynthia was a good teacher, and did a lot to improve my confidence. I practiced on larger stippling, then moved to filling in the circle with small stippling, as you can see in the photo. I call it small stippling, but she does teensy-tiny stippling, making this look huge. I'm not there yet -- and frankly, I'm not really wild about the tiny stippling. Just a matter of personal preference. I admire it, I just don't really care for the look.

Everyone else went on to learn trapunto in the afternoon, but I decided to opt out of that and continue practicing free motion quilting. (Again, I like trapunto, but I don't see myself doing it -- maybe in awhile I'll change my mind.) I tried to stipple outside a circle this time, and partway through decided it looked like hair around a face. I put in a curl right in the middle of her forehead, then finished off the face. Not that hard -- and so much fun!

And I went on from there to try non-stippling FMQ. There was a book with some ideas, and I gave it a try. How cute would these things be in sashing, or on a border?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I Spy quilts

Part of me has always wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, and this quilt seems to satisfy my desire to cut up lots and lots of cute kiddy fabrics. And when I say "lots and lots" I mean a bazillion! The plan is to make one for each of my nieces' and nephew's families, plus for my own kids when they start having children. That's potentially 8 I Spy quilts, with 147 hexagons each. You do the math -- bazillion is a close enough answer for me!

What is an I Spy quilt you ask? It has hexagons of many different fabrics -- in fact, there should not be a repeat in the quilt. (Sometimes one fabric has many designs that can each be used, however.) Like this:

The idea is to be able to play the game "I Spy" with the quilts. "I Spy with my little eye ..." an umbrella, a horse, a lemon, a duck playing a clarinet, etc. I'm trying to have something for each letter of the alphabet, and with lots of colors. (I spy something blue.) They are also great for stories. Pick a hexagon and tell a story about it. Or move from hexagon to hexagon and incorporate each new item into the story. Lots of fun! One very kindly member of the guild, Sue K., has made 6 I Spy quilts and she let me cut up her leftover stash, plus I added my own collection. I'm so grateful to her, as it takes a loooong time to get so many fabrics!

Once the hexagons are cut, you need to sew triangles of the background fabric onto two opposite sides of each hexagon, as in this photo. I'm trying to make mine directional, rather than some facing each way, so I have to pay attention. But thank goodness for chain piecing!

Here the pieces are laid together. You first join them in rows, then stitch the rows, but I only have a few pieces with the triangles on so I haven't joined the rows. They are just laid out here so you can see that ultimately you get a 6-pointed star. Really fun!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Block of the Month

I like to have a plan when I start a project. I may change the plan as I go (I always seem to!), but I do have a general idea of what the quilt will be about. Mystery quilts are not for me! However, I decided to try the guild's block of the month to help me get away from that. I knew they would all be stars, and I bought a background fabric that I liked and that would coordinate with lots of fabric I have leftover from other projects. Each month we get a new star pattern and make one block of it, along with two smaller star blocks in the same fabrics. At the end we'll get some instructions for assembling them all into a quilt. This is the first month's block.

Here is the second month's star with the two baby stars. I was less sure about the fabric choice here -- not all batiks, like the other block. Still not sure what I think!

And here's block 3. I decided I wanted some warmer and brighter colors, and I love the design in the middle of the block (oops -- haven't posted Brian's quilt yet -- these are the same fabrics). Alas, despite careful measuring, I somehow did not cut the centers correctly for the two baby stars. I centered the design in one direction, but not the other. I was so annoyed that I didn't iron the finished blocks, as I think you can tell from the photo! I may well redo them with correct centers, but I wasn't in the mood right then.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I won!

Every month I make a block for the guild's block lotto. We all use the same background fabric and then use our own fabric for the rest of the block. When you turn in your block, you get a chance to win all the blocks for that month. This block lotto was my favorite -- and I won the drawing! Hoorah! What a cute quilt this will make. Here are two blocks. They are all log-cabin-like pieced hearts made of coordinating dark and medium fabrics. Just so cute! And I won!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Fractured autumn bargello

The guild had a mini-retreat a couple weeks ago for those of us who didn't go on the big retreat, and I took advantage of the day to finish piecing this quilt. I had the tubes sewn and the strips cut, but I was terrified of sewing them together. The fracture strips are only 1/4" finished, and a few of the bargello strips are also only 1/4" finished, so it was a bit tricky. I am very pleased with the result! Now, how do I quilt it? On June 24 I'm taking a machine quilting class with an expert, so I'll take it in for ideas and help.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Great design

I have vowed to keep up my posts, but suddenly realized that Brian has the camera in New York! So I can't photograph what I'm working on. Instead, here's a photo I took when we were in NY last Thanksgiving. It's a representation of the Empire State Building that's in the Empire State Building. I love the look and thought it would make a great quilt design. I hope it posts right side up -- I rotated it in IPhoto but sometimes it doesn't load in rotated fashion (but sometimes it does -- wish I knew why).