Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Love and a swap

I'd been putting off making a block for Julie's White Coat Project because I didn't know how to do it. I decided I wanted to make something using selvages since Julie has made quilts with them, but I've never worked with them before. I also wanted to make something with free-pieced letters, but I didn't know what I could do in a small block. Finally, I decided to try Tonya's classic LOVE block.
This is 6-1/2" unfinished, with each letter block finishing at 2-1/2". The selvages are stitched down only in the seams -- is that how it's done? Well, it's how I did it! I hope it plays well with the other blocks Julie receives.
I participated in an I Spy swap, so much fun! I make lots of I Spy quilts and a swap is a great way to get a variety of fabrics. I had a few plans for what I'd do, but the squares started out at 5" (so they finish at 4-1/2"), and that's awkward for using them with other blocks. I've been seeing some rainbow I Spy quilts -- like this stunning one at Mermaid's Purse --and thought I'd like to try one. The swap didn't provide me with 10 squares of each color, so I had to supplement from my stash, but that just means I have leftovers for another quilt! I bordered each square on 2 sides with solids and arranged them stepwise (the picture is sideways). I've sewn much of it together, just haven't taken the photo yet. It's fun and quick.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Zig zags

I really hated that strippy quilt I posted yesterday, so I am inspired to post something I like better! I wanted to put a zig-zag border around my sticks and stones quilt, and thought maybe I'd use black and white fabric that's mostly black for the zig zag, and use scrappy reds for the background. But my quilt group convinced me that a multi-colored background would be more fun. One hundred and twenty-eight HST's later, I started laying them out. (There will be an inner border, not shown here.)
The zig zag did not pop -- too much distraction! So I put the same colors together and it does emphasize the zig zag more.
But of course, being scrappy, I didn't have even amounts of each color, and I found that a little too boring...so I started joining different fabrics of the same color and similar tone.
And now I'm thinking of perhaps stretching it a bit further -- same color but tones just a little bit further apart.

Aren't design decisions fun?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jelly rolls and t-shirts

Things do pile up when I don't post! I have several projects underway, but here are just two.

First, I saw the Jelly Roll races video and thought it would be a fast, fun way to make quilts for Project Linus. And in fact, my guild had a worknight and made several -- you can see photos here, and Maggie's race-winning quilt (with explanation of how it was put together) here.

Unfortunately, I couldn't be at guild that night (though I was having a great time instead at the Chicago Ethnic Grocery tour!), so I decided to make one at home (photo above). I had purchased a roll of twenty 2-1/2" strips of child-friendly fabrics at a quilt shop in Indy and thought I'd use those. With an added border, it ended up just about the 40" x 60" standard for Linus. I think it's bright, cheery, quick to make, and I really don't like it!! I'm great with scrappy and with letting things happen while I make a quilt, but with this, I had absolutely no control over the design. By using only 20 strips -- half what's in a jelly roll -- the strips end up going vertically, and there is just not enough space in the quilt to compensate for odd groupings when fabric strips end up overlapping themselves in the next row. The most successful jelly roll race quilts I've seen have been mostly monochromatic, or black and white with a single color added. You can see some of these, as well as some tips for making this type of jelly roll quilt, on Floribunda's blog. I think next time I make a strip quilt, I'll try a design where I have more control -- I really like the design of the strip quilt on the Butternut Street blog.

I'm also working on a long-promised project -- a t-shirt quilt for my sister and her husband. I didn't want to use the standard same-size blocks with sashing, and I've been having a bear of a time figuring out how to juggle the pieces to fit everything together. My small quilt group gave me some great ideas, and that has helped me to finally get going again! It's my first t-shirt quilt -- should have started by making a less-complicated layout, but where's the fun in that?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Accidental Landscape

So much fun! Karen Eckmeier taught her accidental landscapes class at my guild recently, and I made this.
It's not quite finished -- I want to tack down the wave so it looks like it's breaking on the rock, and I think I want a little more embellishment before I quilt it. Can you see the one sailboat off in the distance? I think I may put another set of boulders into the border, too, not quite sure yet.

Karen's technique is really fun and improvisational. You can control what your landscape will end up looking like, but you can also just play around until something serendipitous happens -- or do any combination in between. Karen also has a clever way to make a wavy inner border, which you can see on my friend Mary's blog, Comfy Quilts and A Good Book.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Yvonne Porcella quilt exhibit

I so lucked out! I saw in The Quilt Show newsletter that Yvonne Porcella was having a quilt exhibit on Stanford campus right when I was heading to California to visit my daughter, just a few minutes from campus. Yay! I love her style. This is one of the first ones I saw, and there are so many things I like about it -- the piecing, the applique, the quilting, the use of color, the binding.
The lighting was not great for photos, but I wanted to show this flower basket quilt...
...because I love how she interspersed broderie perse with her own flowers, as you can see in this closeup.
I really like the one below. Yvonne Porcella's quilts are free and fun, but not chaotic. I love her mix of black and white with brights, and it seems to me it's not overdone.
Here's a closeup to show her amazing quilting -- really enhances the design.
Another fun one, with people and chili pepper appliques (again, lighting is not so great, and I had to use the camera on my phone since I dropped my other camera):
And I think you can see the quilting in the closeup, especially if you click to enlarge the photo. This is much more lightly quilted, and I love how the lines work -- they don't follow the checkerboard or stripes, but are a design of their own that fits the quilt. Never would have thought of this, but it looks terrific.
This is a closeup of Purple Dog Green Hair -- awesome!!
You can see the full quilt hanging here (with another of her quilts, Moo 2000). I love how these quilts were displayed -- a few quilts along a wall, in several hallways, on a few floors, of 3 neighboring buildings on campus. There were also two other artists, working in different media, whose works were displayed with hers. Wouldn't it be awesome to sit in this lounge to study and look up from time to time to see the quilts?
You can see more of Yvonne Porcella's work here.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The other New York City quilt show

 I was in NYC in March to visit my daughter and my inlaws, but our flight home was the day before the big red and white quilt exhibit opened. Aargh! Fortunately, it's The Year of the Quilt at the American Folk Museum (right next door to the Museum of Modern Art), and I took in quite a show there. And they allowed photos! No flash, of course, so some of mine are a bit blurry, but when I was there for a Paula Nadelstern exhibit a couple years ago, they didn't allow any photos at all. Here are a few of my favorites.
 This double wedding ring quilt was made in the 1930s by an unknown quilter (guess that's why we should label our quilts). I loved her use of color.
 I thought this quilt was amazing -- it has an incredible look from a distance...
 ...and up close you can see the tremendous amount of work that went into it! Unfortunately, the photo I took that gave info about the quilt is too blurry to read.
 Low lighting means I also can't read the info on this quilt. It has a very elegant look to it, but the close-up below also shows how wonderfully scrappy and homey it is.

Below is Jessie Telfair's famous Freedom quilt. It really packs a whollop when you see it in person. I was really moved by it.
 Take a look at the close-up to see how it was constructed.
 This is a late 19th century crazy quilt map of the US -- what's not to love? The piecing in the background is pretty amazing, too.  My photo is a little blurry, but there's a better picture of it on the museum website, click here.
 After seeing the exhibit, I stopped by the City Quilter. They had just expanded into the space next door, and they're going to turn part of it into an art quilt gallery. As I looked around, I saw one of Karen Eckmeier's Happy Villages quilts -- this one of NYC, quite a village! It was a great find for me, since I was taking a class from her at my guild the day after I returned home. More on that in another post. I really like her Happy Villages quilts.
And finally, walking to meet my daughter later that day, I went by the most amazing shop filled with old, old, old (even treadle!) sewing machines. Wow! It's a boutique clothing store called All Staints.

And just last week The Quilt Show website had a video of the interior of this store, which they also discovered when in NYC for the big Red and White quilt exhibit. Take a look here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Another B

I wanted to make a B with a spiral base for Brenda's Big Birthday -- I imagined lots of swirls and elegance. Not so easy to stitch since I don't do applique! But when I looked at my drawings, the swirl looked like a cat's tail. And the top could be a cat's head, couldn't it?
So I added ears and voila, a cat! I'm thinking about adding embroidered eyes, but am not sure. Thoughts?

I  made the cat by cutting 1-1/2" strips. I was going to cut some squares to make half square triangles (for the ears and the indentations in the B) when I remembered my Easy Angle Ruler. It lets you make HST's using the same size strips as your squares. I learned about it from Bonnie Hunter's website and absolutely love it!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Brenda's Big Birthday B

Happy Birthday, Brenda!
Brenda at Scraps and Strings is having a Big Birthday, and she's asking fellow Bloggers to send her a Big B for her Birthday quilt. Happy Birthday fabric seemed in order, so that's what I used for my Big B. I'm toying with the idea of another B but don't know whether I can pull it off. I may give it a try, and if it works, you'll know.
This fabric is for valences for our bathroom windows. I knew the fabric I wanted (I had designed it in my mind), but of course no designer had read my mind. This fabric has the right colors and is cheery, so it will do -- especially as it was on half price sale! It's outdoor fabric and fairly stiff, which got me thinking that it would make a wonderful satchel. I think I should have just about enough fabric left over for that, too.

Friday, March 11, 2011

At home with Sweet Baby James

How cute is sweet baby James? Adorable! See what he's lying on? That's right, that's his very own quilt!

This is the "back" (aka, the fun part). My friend Joe Filer quilted it and did an amazing job!
To appreciate the quilting, you have to know that the front is a matching game. There are two squares of each fabric, and James (when he's older!) can try to find the two that go together.
So Joe made 6 matching pairs among the starbursts in his quilting design -- and he did it with glow-in-the-dark thread! Awesome!

Sleep tight, Sweet Baby James!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Twists and embroidery

My friend G has an embroidery machine with some mola-inspired designs and she made this one for me! It's beautiful -- much more vibrant than it shows in the photo. I think it will make a great panel on a satchel.
All my strip twist blocks are now spider blocks!

I had to rummage through my stash to find fabrics that coordinated with the jelly roll strips I was using in order to get enough blocks, but I think they worked really well. I'm going to join them with white sashing and borders to make a summertime twin bed quilt. Woo-hoo! I haven't made a real bed quilt yet that I'll keep in my house -- this is my first!

Also, I have been trying to redesign my blog but the template designer shows only grey no matter what I do. Can anyone tell me what I'm doing wrong? Thank you!! **UPDATE -- After much searching on the help forums, I discovered that the new template is incompatible with the older version of Firefox that I was using, so I updated that and now I can play around with the new templates!**

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Flimsies and fun

How do you recover from knee surgery? Well, the first few days, you keep your knee elevated -- but then you keep your spirits up by quilting!
I can't do anything where I have to crawl around on the floor, or stand up too long while cutting, so I'm finishing up some UFOs. Today I pulled out the strip twist quilt I started a couple years ago. I needed more strips, couldn't find fabrics I was happy with, and put it away. Today I laid it out, thinking I might just use what I have to make a small throw, but then I played around a bit with the layout. The traditional layout is below, but what I'm thinking of now is on top -- setting the blocks differently and putting white sashing between them. I'm a little concerned about some of the dotted whites in the outer edges of the blocks, but I think I like it. Thoughts?
I needed to work on that bright, sunny quilt today because I spent yesterday piecing together blocks I won in a block lotto about 5 years ago. Yuck!! I hate how dull they are, how boring. Not my style at all. The colors are not quite as bad as they appear in this photo, but I didn't enjoy working on it. But it feels good to be DONE! Someone will like it -- I'm donating it and asking that it be quilted with bright thread and butterfly designs (most of the bigger squares have flowers).
I also made some blocks for the Block Lotto that Julie at Floribunda told me about.  They do some wonderful blocks -- February was wonky string hearts. Fun! And more fun when I took the huge bandage off my knee. What's that beneath the wrapping? BATTING?!?! Sure looked like it!

And how cool is this?
It's from a wonderful site called Dornob that has design ideas. It's not a quilting site, but has lots of inspiring stuff. The photo above is from their page where they show vintage furniture rehabed with patchwork -- take a look by clicking HERE.