Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hiding in the fuschia


We have a few hanging baskets on the front of our house each year--selected and cared for by DH. This year he found two fuschia plants that followed him home from a nursery. A week ago they had no blossoms. All had fallen off or had been blown off. But they were covered in buds, and this morning they're the background for my two hexagon flowers.

The R/W/B flower is in honor of our upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend. Someone gave me a set of little 2-1/2" sample squares from a line of fabric--it sure looks like Sandy Gervais.

Signature quilt is progressing. The top is done, and I'm taking a break from quilting it right now. Thread selection was tough with so many colors. I have an abundance of variegated Valdani thread, and I just picked one. Till I get to the border, I'm not taking the time to only stitch on dark areas with dark and in light areas with light. I have a time crunch (guild meeting is tomorrow night). In my effort to cut down on leftovers, some of the coping strips for the blocks went into the scrappy border, and all of my own leftover signature blocks are now part of the backing.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Adventure" is a relative term

There's quite a disparity between my mild adventures with quilting and the real adventures that DH and our two DD undertake. (I won't even go into details regarding DS and his extreme adventures with dentist drills, helicopters, and Iraq.)

My only true quilting adventure was when a finger got too close to a moving sewing machine needle. I've sliced off a sliver of skin now and then with my rotary cutter, but that's not really an adventure. That's just temporarily messy. I'm totally content to play with my fabric and tools, patterns and thread and create my own little adventures with blocks and borders and layouts while the others look for thrills in their own way.

DH went to the local airport last week where the American Barnstormers were gathering with their bi-planes. He went for a ride in one. I'm content to just make a quilt with airplanes for my great-nephew Lafe.

While their dad was flying, DD were sailing the ocean blue, on their first Caribbean cruise. I'm totally content to just look through a box of 25-year-old fabrics with a tropical motif. I found a lot of fabrics left over from clothes I made for the kids when they were in middle school (junior high). I'm hoping to figure out just the right block to show off these graphic, bold, large-flowered fabrics.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One Flower Wednesday


One of these weeks I'll slack off from the pace of one flower each Wednesday, so I'll make an extra flower or two each week when I can. After a meager total of 10 hexagon flowers in 3 or 4 weeks, I've decided on a theme --> eclectic, anything goes. I'll probably include plenty of 1930s repro fabrics, but I'm enjoying combining bolder fabrics into flowers, and I may as well eventually toss all flowers together into one fabric garden.

Another outdoor photo today. A group of our day lilies opened in all its glory this week, so that was a logical place to pose the fabric posies. Our second clematis (light lavender blossoms) is in the background.



My signature blocks are arranged, the spaces are filled in, and all the partial seams are done. Karen reminded me about those partial seams. This type of layout cannot be sewn together in neat little square groups. There are partial seams galore. It's definitely one big puzzle and takes some concentration to decide -- "Which seam do I sew next?" I thought it was great fun figuring that out. (probably not something everyone would enjoy, but I enjoyed the challenge)
Auditioning borders next, then quilt it, bind it, label it, show it -- hopefully all by July 1.

In my next post, I'll show you what DH and two DD do while I'm quilting. They like adventure--I like sitting on my--chair.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One Flower Wednesday


Two posts in one day, not because I'm prolific, but rather I'm forgetful. My latest hexagon flowers. I tried to be artistic, posing the hexies outside in our clematis, but the lighter hexie really is washed out, even with no flash.
So I'm adding another photo taken indoors. I'm still not settled on any particular theme, although I seem to be using mainly 1930s fabrics so far.
Happy Wednesday, and may your flowers continue to bloom.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Quiltalong top done, Blackberry Buzzz

A lovely June weekend of quilting with friends has just ended. I rarely leave my camera at home, but I skipped it this time.

I finished my "strawberry fields" doll quilt top this afternoon (quiltalong directions courtesy of Lori of Humble Quilts), but it needs a name associated with something other than red fruit. I assumed my scrappy little 4-1/2" blocks would look fine with red fabric for the zigzag setting, as Lori had done. Wrong.

At home last night, I tried 5 or 6 shades of reds, several browns, a few greens, skipped quickly past a couple pastels, and paused with some purples and a navy or two. I took a stack of possibilities with me this morning, and my friends helped me settle on this navy Moda fabric. It has a subtle design but definitely reads as solid from a distance. This is the top only, and I'll be quilting it in the next week or so.

I think I'll name this Blackberry Buzzz, in honor of the navy color and the zagzag setting. (Yes, I know I added an extra "z" to the spelling.) Head over to her blog to see a number of the finished doll quilts.
Thanks again, Lori, for your delightful project and easy-to-follow instructions.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Never say never

A few years after I began quilting, I had mentally made a "never" list.
1-- I'd never try curved seams. They looked too tricky. Sewing a curved seam in a quilt block with no puckers made me nervous.
2-- I had no interest in anything that was appliqued. I'd have to slow down and take my time for neat, precise results. So that went on the "never" list.
3--I would never hand piece any blocks. Why bother with that slow process when I have a sewing machine? (well, actually more than one)
4--I would never make a Grandmother's Flower Garden. My opinion was that life is too short to waste time sewing all those little hexagons together.

Those statements were made because I was either stubborn, lazy, or uninformed.
We should never say never.

1--I took a local class from Betty called "Crazy Curves" and I saw Fons and Porter happily making drunkard's path blocks on TV. I've now made 3 or 4 quilts with curves and I'm not intimidated at all.

2-- Do you have a blanket stitch on your sewing machine? My Brother 400 has 3 or 4 versions of the blanket stitch, and I've appliqued too many projects to count. I even hand appliqued a few of my Dear Jane blocks, because I really wanted to try it.

3--One reason I started a Dear Jane quilt was to learn new skills, like hand piecing some of the blocks. I did, they look OK, and that doesn't scare me any more either.

4-- Finally, #4 bit the dust this last week. I've seen so many adorable "One Flower Wednesday" posts and hexie projects in blogs. It was time to take a deep breath and try that one. These are my first blocks for a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. They're 1" hexies, and they're not perfect, but I'm over another hurdle.

I even decided to join Karen's "One Flower Wednesday" group (see link in the right column), so I'm now officially a hexagon flower maker. The portability of hexies has captivated me. I've sewn on them while riding in a car and while waiting for the garage guys to change the oil in my car.

One of the hexies above is not like the other. I know. I'm just getting started. Maybe I'll make two flower garden quilts some day, one from 1930s repro fabrics and one not.
I'm sure you can match each of these 3 photos with a "never" item above. They're not perfect examples, but I'm learning.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday spools


Finished a few more scrap spools today, following Nanette's tutorial on her blog Freda's Hive. (I keep forgetting that her name is not Freda.) Only 24 spools done with a goal of 80, but that's nearly 1/3, so I'm OK with that.

Nanette's layout was with every spool lying in the same direction, looking like spools in vertical stacks. I think I prefer rotating every other block. But I'll make a final decision later, when all blocks are done.

I was in Des Moines for part of the weekend, offering encouragement and taking photos as my twin daughters ran in the 5K Dam-to-Dam run Saturday morning. Pretty heavy rain early in the morning, at the start and during much of the 20K run, but the rain had stopped and even a teasing glimmer of sunlight while the 5K runners were competing. I'm not a runner--never have been, never will be -- but I was proud of my running daughters yesterday. For being "casual" runners, they finished very well in their age group. (They'd just finished their run when I snapped this photo -- with their iPod buds still in their ears.)

Enough spools for one day. All the parts are cut and ready to assemble another day. It's time to jump ship and work on another project. Maybe it's time to get back to some barns quilt blocks. I think I'm 3 months behind on those.
Hopefully everyone is having an enjoyable summer weekend.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Scraps into blocks

It seems like I've been away for a really long time. The busy pace of having company for several days kept me from even reading my favorite blogs.

This afternoon I plugged in my sewing machine for the first time in a week. It's such a satisfying feeling, to hear the hum of the motor again and to get a few blocks made.

Last time I showed prepared stacks of strip sets, ready for a new project. I admire all the sweet little Klosjes (spool blocks) that so many are making, but I'm heading down a different path for my first spool blocks. I want to use scraps and sew them by machine. I'm following a tutorial from Freda's Hive (You'll find it in the right side column of her blog under "original patterns and tutorials." )

So many color options for the spool ends. I settled on a conservative chocolate brown floral fabric. Each strip set is trimmed to a 4-1/2" square, and the blocks are 6-1/2" after all sides are added. My goal is 80 blocks. Border? Not sure what I'll do.

This is a main reason I didn't spend any time reading blogs over the Memorial Day weekend. We were blessed with a visit from our 3 grown children, our DIL, and this little lime/yellow charmer, our granddaughter, Maddie. Many of the toys I'd found at garage sales were a big hit with her, but she also had fun pulling open drawers on an old Singer treadle sewing machine in the living room, taking out old belts and shoehorns and various things stored there. Kids can find entertainment in almost anything they touch.
The house is so quiet and still with everyone gone.

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