Sunday, May 31, 2009

Three at once

Some might call it an inability to concentrate, but I prefer to think of it as an ability to multitask. I was busy this weekend.
I cut squares out of the first piece of string fabric I put together. There will be much greater variation when all the pieces are made, but I just couldn't wait. There will be pieces with dashes of brights, too.
I had put only 2 of the checkered borders on this I Spy. I always get bogged down when I get to the borders because the fun is over by then. But I bit the bullet today and put on the remaining 2 checkered strips and the green border, and then pieced and attached the outer border. Just have to piece the backing, sandwich, quilt, and bind!
I also went through two boxes of t-shirts that my sister sent me almost two years ago! She asked me to make a quilt of them as a memento of the various military assignments her husband has had over the years. I was going to have it ready when they returned from overseas this summer, but they came home several months earlier than expected and I had not even started! There are so many shirts that I think I'll make two tops -- one with black and gold fabrics added (the colors of the US Military Academy) and one with red, white and blue. I've sorted the shirts into those two groups and now I'm going to wash and prep them.

And for your viewing pleasure, found art:
The beautiful new Champaign Public Library has funky air vents. Aren't the different sized holes so much more interesting than row after row of identical slots? And wouldn't that be a great quilt -- each block representing something artistically interesting in the building!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Visual onomotopoeia

Tonya's Halloween words are all over the blogosphere, and they look like what they are -- screechy looking screeches and eeky looking eeks. Here's my thump.
There is, of course, the inevitable post-mortem (how apt for Halloween!), but despite the things I would change -- like a smaller hole in the p -- I really like it. Thank you everyone for your suggestions! I considered them all and then tried mixing up the fabrics within the letters (Tonya's suggestion) and used the first alternate m (Tonya again -- after all the word is for her quilt). Quilt Pixie suggested fussy cutting the fabric with the clusters of dots, and I did that to make the word bottom heavy. After all the trouble with the m, it is unexpectedly my favorite part of the word! Not only is it thumping downward, but I think it has a spiderlike, creepy-crawly aspect to it. Fun!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fabric choices

The plan is to piece THUMP tomorrow. The previous plan had been to piece it today, but I'm stuck on fabric choices. Any advice?
The orange is my background, and I had thought about doing a different black with white dots for each letter, but I didn't have enough. Going from left to right, I like the first one, find the second one too regular, I like the third and think it would add interest because of the varying density of dots (or it might just be distracting), the fourth is one of my all-time favorite B&W fabrics, and the isn't dotted but has a crackled look that says Halloween to me. Here's a close-up:
I would make all the letters with this crackly one but I think the contrast with the orange may not be great enough. So currently I'm leaning towards using only one fabric, either fabric 3 or 4, but every time I go to cut strips, I waffle. Please, advise!

And I have another fabric dilemma. I'm making big strip sets of blues, which will be cut into wonky squares and re-assembled. It's for a quilt for my family room, which is done in brights (yes, it's my family room, so what else would you expect?), with yellow walls and a red sofa and red, blue, green and yellow in the curtains and art and even one piece of furniture. The plan had been to intersperse bits of brights (reds, yellows, greens) among the reassembled pieces, but now I'm wondering. Here's a starting piece:
As I sew, it calls out to me, "I am the ocean, the waves, the sea...I am the sparkling blue Mediterranean...I dance with the sunshine..." and all I can see is bits of yellow playing with it, not red. Guess I will cut it and play around to see, but I need to get something up in my family room after a year of promising to do so.

For a complete change of topic, here are the earrings I'm wearing today. I love them. When I put them on this morning, I realized how quilty they are, though I bought them long before I became a quilter. Perhaps a careful observer would have foreseen it in my future...

Finally, I thought this was interesting.

If word verification drives you crazy (as DH would say, it's a short trip!), you might want to read this article in the New York Times. Seems we might have some interesting new security procedures in our future. Oops, I see blogger has cut off the upside down parrot part of the picture -- you definitely have to read the article now!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Scrap quilts

Finn asked on her blog, Pieces from my scrapbag, if we would post some scrap quilts over Memorial Day weekend. My guild has a huge collection of donated fabric, mostly scraps, that we use to make quilts for charity. I thought I'd post a few that I have never put on my blog before.
I love the black and white trails in this one, and the huge assortment of bright fabrics. I believe this quilt was donated to a local children's home. As you can see, it's simply B&W 4 patches and fabric squares. It doesn't get much easier.
This quilt was donated by a guild member (I'm sorry I don't know who) and was clearly made from scraps. It's twelve 15-patch blocks joined with sashing and bright cornerstones.
This is a very sweet quilt made with lots of scrap strings, I think using Bonnie Hunter's String-X pattern. It was donated by a guild member. [Update: Just heard from my friend Bunny -- who needs a blog of her own! -- that she made this quilt and did indeed use Bonnie's String-X pattern.]
This quilt is a standard pattern that we use to make kits -- we just cut 6-1/2 inch squares from our donated scraps and strips of solid sashing, and any guild member can take a kit home to put together. I hope this one ended up in the hands of a child whose favorite color is blue!
We sort our stash into broad categories or we'd never find anything! For this easy attic windows quilt, we cut squares from our stash of animal fabrics and used our solids for the window frames and sashing. This is another one of our standard kit patterns.

Scraps are wonderful, aren't they?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Changing 'm' to 'mmmm'

M's and W's are not so easy. No, indeed. I knew that when I chose THUMP for Tonya's Halloween quilt, but I am determined to make a decent M, one that will make me hummmm with delight instead of shouting "eek!" (or even "*&#^$#!!")
My letters are supposed to have very fat and very thin parts, which I thought would emphasize the heaviness of THUMP. I sketched the word to get relative proportions and auditioned a bunch of M's. At this point I think I will do it the way Tonya suggests in her tutorial instead of using any of the ones in the picture. Any ideas for an M?

Did a ton of Linus stuff recently. Things look so compact in their little bags, but those represent hours of cutting, finding fabrics, piecing, etc.
And finally, gorgeous purple! Our yard has so many irises blooming now. I love the rich color and know it will just last a little longer, so I bought a hanging basket of red, white, and purple pansies to enjoy until fall.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

To my mother, and to my daughters who made me a mother...
and to my mother-in-law, who mothered my husband.
And happy Mother's Day to everyone everywhere who cares for someone else.

There's a fascinating history of Mother's Day at the Writer's Almanac by Garrison Keillor (it's right after today's poem).

Friday, May 08, 2009

Strings and a great finish

Even infinite variety can get boring. No matter how scrappy a string quilt, eventually I want something a little different. So last night I decided to try rainbow strings at our Project Linus worknight. In my headbar you can see that I once tried rectangular ones; this time we used our traditional Heartstrings squares and made each row a different color. Not quite done, but I love how it's turning out.

Remember Tonya's Fungly challenge? We made fungly blocks at another worknight, and I joined them with red and aqua. Just got it back from Joe the Quilter today. (Don't be ridiculous, of course it's not Joe Cunningham -- it's our local Joe the Quilter!)
Check out the closeup of the quilting.
Joe, whose wife Bunny is a fabulous quilter, just got a quilting frame and started quilting himself. Isn't this an amazing job? Thank you, Joe!

Thursday, May 07, 2009


My stash has turquoise and aqua, but very few true blues. Just not my color, I guess.
I pulled what I had and then when to my LQS, which had a blues sale in April. I was going to use reds for wonky strip piecing for a quilt background, but with all the red in my family room, I think it would be too much to hang a mostly-red quilt there. Right now I'm waiting to see how blue the color sheet in the washer will be when the load is done.
And I finished this! Tonya, it will be in the mail today or tomorrow! What I learned from this:
1) You do loosen up as you make letters. I made these in spelling order, and the i is definitely my favorite.
2) When piecing wonky piano keys, do it on a foundation. (Some of us learn the hard way.)
3) When the fabric has a wonky design, like these chilies, the piecing can still be fairly straight and it will look wonkier than it is.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Wonky borders

I joined the letter blocks to spell my name for Tonya's collection. It was a little boring with plain yellow borders, so I decided to make some wonky piano keys with the fabric I had used for the letters and some green chili pepper fabric I also had, and while I was cutting pieces it occurred to me that a little red would go a long way towards livening it up a bit.
I'm sure there's a wonky piano key tutorial out there, but it didn't occur to me to check. I cut strips of fabric, then cut the strips into equal size pieces a good bit longer than I needed, to allow for trimming the uneven edges you get with wonky pieces. After chain piecing a bunch of pairs, I laid them around the block and decided the red would be better as an accent since my eye was drawn there, so I chopped the reds down and then joined the pairs into a strip.

I knew I'd need to trim uneven edges, but this was ridiculous! (Kind of a neat curve, though.) So I frogged a few seams and paid attention to joining them at angles that wouldn't cause such unevenness.
This I can live with! It'll trim it to straighten the edges and it will lie nice and flat. I had wanted more angularity, but I now see that I would have had to have cut my pieces much longer to be able to trim enough -- either that, or use templates, which totally defeats the purpose. I could also have pieced them on a foundation strip, which would have been smart. Next time!
The pieced strip on top looks very different from the loose pairs on the bottom.

Here's one more quilt from the Chicago quilt show. This one is made from old shirts, mostly striped ones, pieced to look like furrows in a field. I really like it. Looks like the great midwest as seen from an airplane. There's a very soothing feel to it despite all the lines.

Finally, do any of you have some blogging tips or tricks to share? I'm teaching a class of active seniors how to blog (using Blogger), and want to be sure I give them as much helpful advice as I can. Thank you!