Wednesday, May 30, 2007

This is not a rainbow

Well, it kind of looks like one here, but the finished quilt will not. I can't wait to start -- I kept daydreaming about it at work this morning! I hope to begin it tonight and will post the initial result soon. I'll tell you what it will be when I post the first photos, but in the meantime I'll give a little clue that may mean something to some of you: Stroop.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The young and the old

I love three-day weekends! I can't believe I finished piecing this top. Now comes the scary part -- trimming the sides so I can add the border. I always worry that I'll cut it in the wrong spot. Click on the photo to see all the cute prints. A friend brought over a huge bag of novelty prints or I never would have had enough!
And Happy Birthday, Valerie! My younger daughter turns 20 today -- how can that be? Here she is on her 18th birthday -- since she's still at school in California, I don't have one for this year.
It seems ironic to me that I was finishing up a child's quilt on the day that my youngest officially moves beyond the teenage years. I wish I had been a quilter when my own kids were little!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bunny Love

'Bunny ears' are those tiny triangles that stick out when you piece with triangles. I love them.

I had read or heard somewhere that they could be useful when joining rows, but I tried to use them when I made my first I Spy quilt and the result was disaster. The points didn't even come close to matching! I resorted to pushing a pin through the seam of both pieces, pinning on each side, and moving to the next one down the row. It took forever, and the end result, while better, was only okay. Pretty discouraging.
I think the problem was that I had made the hexagons by tracing around a template and cutting with scissors. The blocks were not the same size. Before I started this quilt, I put every piece back under the template and cut around it with one of those tiny rotary cutters. Still, I was joining rows with the time-consuming 3-pin method. But yesterday it occurred to me to give the bunny ear method another try -- and it worked! Hooray!
I love bunny ears. Is there an emoticon for those? =:-) How's that?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

From random to chaos!

This is the hazard of using a portable design wall. I was taking something off my temporary batting and painter's tape design wall right next to this and accidentally bumped it. Oops.

Actually, I kind of like this look ... :)

So I have one more chance to practice randomness when I put the blocks back up, but I may wait until tonight.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I don't do random...

...but I tried to tonight. It should be easy to grab a block and stick it up without any thought as to where it should go -- grab, plop; grab, plop; grab, plop -- but it isn't. I steeled myself and left the blocks where I first put them. But I needed a little control, so if two blocks were obviously wrong together, I avoided putting them next to each other in the first place. That got harder as the wall filled up. I'm going to let this sit a few days and fiddle with the layout after I've given this a chance. I'll need to make a few more blocks, too. Sorry the photo is so dark -- the sun had already gone down before I got the camera out, but the flash really distorted the colors.These flannels are so visually rich and so plush to the touch that I love working with them. I'm keeping this quilt -- can't get enough of it!

Things I've learned:
1 - My perfect quarter-inch seam is only perfect with the weight of cotton fabric I tested it on. This flannel is extremely thick, and my seams were off. Took me awhile to figure out the problem. Fortunately the block is simple and I can just trim them all up.
2- Just because you hate your project one minute doesn't mean you will not love it the next. Recognizing that such changeability is just part of the process is as hard as doing an almost-random layout.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Graph paper on the brain

Ever notice how things seem to come in groups? I've been thinking about graph paper ever since posting about my little gridded notebook a couple days ago, and then last night while I was surfing Quiltville I came across Bonnie's Millennium Pyramids quilt and was smitten. She said the hardest part was drafting it, but at least she used triangle graph paper found "at most quilt shops." Triangle graph paper -- what a concept! Still, I was unconvinced that piecing rows of triangles would not be hard. I had a very difficult time with that when I was making Brian's office quilt (which I have not posted because I am still mad at those triangles!). But her way of cutting and piecing the triangles was something I had never seen and it looks so much easier than what I did. I will definitely try it.As I looked closely at Bonnie's quilt, a hexagon suddenly jumped out at me. Duh! Of course a hexagon would be there. So I mentally played around with it and wondered how you might piece a six-pointed star, a shape with which I am enamored, using her method. It would require drafting and considerable planning, but it could be done! I wanted to do it NOW. (Sometimes I am like a two-year-old.) I had no triangle graph paper. Internet to the rescue! I found a great site that offers Free Online Graph Paper. So I printed up a sheet of triangle graph paper and drew out a double six-pointed star. I'm going to color it and then go through my stash and piece it her way. Can't wait!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

J'adore le bloc Rhodia

When I lived in Paris as a student more than 25 years ago, I fell in love with French paper. Notebook pages were thick and felt silky, and every sheet was covered to the edges with a faint blue grid. It was expensive, so I hoarded it. I brought a couple packs home with me, and only a few months ago I discovered a few still unused sheets in an old binder.

When I became a quilter, I started using a graph paper notebook leftover from chem lab to draft blocks and layouts. In my heart I pined for my old French gridded paper. It was such a pleasure to write on, and embarrassing as it is to admit, I felt that the quality of those elegant sheets would somehow transform my designs into something more worthy than they were.

The powers that be must have been moved by my deep and wishful sighing, because just before Christmas I discovered this little French notebook in the UI bookstore. I love it. It's small (3.3 x 4.7 inches, or 8,5 x 12,0 cm), fits easily in my purse, and I can take it wherever I go. Best of all, the paper is silky and has a blue grid from edge to edge.

No matter where I am, I can doodle. Here you can see my draft of two ways to piece my flannel blocks. I saw the heart design on TV and grabbed my notebook to draw it before I forgot the details; I think it will be a lovely border on a Linus quilt. When I'm out and about and see a great design on a brick walk, or a tiled wall, I will be prepared.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I won the lanterns!

What amazing good fortune! Thursday night was the block lotto drawing for the Japanese lantern blocks -- and I won ! Aren't they beautiful?I hope enough people sign up for the swap that it will be a go. I've never been in a swap, although I've tried. The two I signed up for had too few people. Same thing happens if I like a new TV show -- it won't last the season!

My friend Glennys thinks that miniature versions of these lanterns would be great on a purse. There's a bag challenge at the guild and she's thinking of doing that.

The kids know I love Asian fabrics -- look at these gorgeous half-yards they got me for Mother's Day!

Val drove down (yes, she has a CAR!) to Eddie's Quilting Bee, which I really miss, and picked these out. Since my very first quilt had used red and blue Asian fabrics, she chose 3 of each color. You can see they come in pairs. Thanks, girls! I love them.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

In honor of the day, I thought I'd post photos of me with my terrific daughters...

...and me with my wonderful mother...

...and the girls with their loving paternal grandmother.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Houses

I've been trying to come up with a variety of block projects for Linus workdays. It's easier to make a block than a whole top -- duh! -- and people get really creative when they make just one block. Here's my latest idea , "Happy Houses."Before Simply Quilts was taken off HGTV (sigh), one of the episodes I taped was Quilting with Kids. The guest showed how to make a butterfly block and a house block. Both are simple enough to make with children, but I figured that since the designs are so child-friendly, they'd make great Linus quilts, too. I used her pattern (available online if you click the link above) but put a child in the doorway instead of using the roof fabric for the door. I cut twelve blocks, each with different fun fabrics, so we can stitch them at the next work night. I love the balloons in the sky! Do you suppose this little boy is so happy because it's his birthday? ;)