Monday, April 27, 2015

Little Bits of Improvisation

I played with purples and a little improvisation this weekend.  This morning, all trimmed square, here's what's on my design wall, this Monday.

Improvised Purple Squares

(It's a cold, gray, Monday morning and so the colors in this photo are less than accurate)

Some of these may be used in one of the Cotton Robin quilts at my house which I plan to finish and send on it's way this week.

I am also joining the lists for the Rainbow Scraps Challenge and Monday Making.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pumpkin Seeds?

This block design seems to go by many names: pumpkin seed, melon, orange peel.  What do you call them?

First Steps

I think I first learned it as orange peel and in Barbara Brackman's book, Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, the pieced version has been called Orange Peel, Melon Patch and Flower Petals ... but it looks so much like a pumpkin seed, that's my favorite name for this shape.  I am making mine by using needle-turned appliqué.

Each time I see them on a blog (or in a quilt), I want to make some ... the scrap bag challenge presented an opportunity.  I am using any of the scrap in the ziplock I received that are at least 4 1/2 inches wide for the backgrounds–I was a little surprised to find that there are only a couple.  I'll be making a few more later, as my Slow Sunday (night) Stitching project.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Challenged by Challenges

I love challenges, but may have over-challenged myself a bit this year ... to give you an idea, here are some of the things on my plate.

I have previously participated in one of C&T Publishing's Creative Troupe challenges - to use their paper-based kraft•tex™  product in some new colors.  I received a sample of the new light gray called stone.  I wanted to take advantage of the leather-like stiff nature of the product and designed this cell phone wallet.

Cell Phone Wallet - Outside Cell Phone Wallet - Inside

You can see all the other projects made on C&T's kraft•tex™ Pinterest Board. 

For me, it was fun, functional and I always intended to make another for myself adding some fabric for my version ... but procrastinated while I thought about buying a new phone.  I mention it because that experience led me to sign up for another Creative Troupe callout–to use their TAP (Transfer Artist Paper) product in an interesting way ... the deadline is approaching and I am still creatively stuck.

I know that sometimes I am a little frozen by fear.  I've blogged about my scaredy cat ways in the past and you would think that by now I would have just gotten over it.

Another example is the current round of the Cotton Robin (which I cannot share until after the round robin quilts are finished and home again).  I love the idea I have for the quilt at my house, but ... I am afraid that I will not be able to accomplish it. That deadline is also coming soon ... so I will be forced to face that particular fear soon.

Preparing for the MQG Spring Fabric ChallengeI am curiously drawn to the Modern Quilt Guild's fabric challenges ... probably because making a quilt from a single fabric line is not the way I usually work and it is challenging for me to do so. I can't resist trying ...

I missed the announcement about the spring challenge, but when Marie offered to send me a package of the fat eighths of the challenge fabrics, I said yes, please.

Unfortunately, when I went to my local quilt shop, they had none of the Riley Blake Cottage Garden fabrics, nor coordinating solids ... fortunately, I found a layer cake and some yardage at Part of the challenge is to try something new ... I am planning to include some sashiko stitching–something I've long wanted to try, but never have.

The deadline for this one isn't until July, but some quilters already have finished quilts and a lot of others are much further than gathering fabrics.  You can find photos on instagram with the hashtag #mqgfabricchallenge

You'd think I have enough on plate ... but I have also signed up for the Poster mini-group at the guild (you create a piece of 6 quilts based on posters, with deadlines every 6 weeks).  I am also committed for the H2H challenge and haven't made much progress on that front ... and when Bridget sent email out last month about a scrap bag challenge for the Chicken River Modern Quilters and I had a conflict for that day, I promptly turned around and suggested it to our local Modern-ish mini-group.   The challenge comes from Victoria Findley Wolf's 15 minutes of Play.  The basics are you fill a quart-size ziplock bag with scraps, swap them, then make a quilt using ALL the fabrics in the bag you receive.

Here are the fabrics I pulled from my scraps.

The fabrics I put togetherIt's probably because I have packaged up and mailed fabrics, blocks and quilts so many times over the years, that I neatly pressed and stacked the fabrics in the ziplock I created.

It also helped me see the mix of fabrics that would be someone else's challenge.

The result was that my bag looked neat and flat (on the left) and most of the others looked like the one I received (on the right).

The bag of scraps I created The bag of scraps I received for the challenge

I came home Monday night with the idea of making some liberated basket blocks, probably because it's on my someday list, but woke up yesterday with a new idea.  I unpacked the fabrics, considered each one, pressed them, and lined them up on the table ... asking myself if they could work in a quilt now in my head.  So far, so good ... just have to meet a few other deadlines first so I can dive in.

All the fabrics I received

Add to the pile a couple of personal challenges–I heard last week that the owners of the house I rent will be putting it on the market and terminating our lease early–which will mean a lot of downsizing (I'll never find a sewing space like this one) and packing and moving a lot earlier than I planned–and well,  I am definitely feeling challenged by challenges–in quilting and in life–right now.

I am joining the lists for WIP Wednesday and Ester's WOW ... even though most of the projects listed here are just barely in-progresss ... the good news is that I should have lots of progress to share going forward ;-)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Baskets and Stars on the Design Wall

Today on my design wall:

Design Wall - April 20

I have only made one scrappy green 9-inch star block for the Block Lotto this month,  though I have also been making some larger red/white/blue ones for a QOV.  Once again, I feel myself running out of month ...

The 10-inch basket blocks (in solids with white-on-white background) are for the guild's April block lotto.  I want to make more to increase my chances ... because I love basket blocks and had a little brainstorm about how to set these in a different way. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Good morning SNOW!

The weather forcast said colder temps (warming up tomorrow), with the possibility of snow on the high mountains.  Santa Fe isn't that high ... but I woke up to this.

Snow on April 18
View of the Arroyo from the studio

I guess it was a little premature when I turned off the radiant heat system earlier this week ... this morning all the tile and concrete (in the studio) floors in the house feel like ice.  Good thing I haven't yet packed away all my winter clothes–it's a day for a sweaters, corduroys and Uggs. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Briar Patch Pattern Information

My design wall looks much the same as the last time you saw it, except all the Briar Patch blocks are made and have been sewn into 4-patches.

All the Briar Patch blocks

Next, I'll be choosing fabrics for the the interior squares between the blocks and the triangles around the outside. 

I have posted the pattern information throughout the progress of this quilt, but whenever I don't, commenters ask and this weekend when I went to get the link for someone who asked, I noticed that the pattern is going to be discontinued ... so if you have been thinking about it, best to get it now. 

Here's the link: 

Judy Niemeyer's Briar Patch pattern

Update: joining Angie's list for WIPS Be Gone - now that the foundations have been pieced, the end is in site. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Rainbow Scraps at the Quilt Retreat

I decided to work on some more scrappy paper foundation-pieced Briar Patch blocks during the guild retreat ... with the goal of making ALL of the rest of the blocks I need, in the colors that I need them.  The colors of the day for me yesterday were red, pink and PURPLE, putting me in sync with the Rainbow Scraps Challenge this weekend.

Here are three of the six purple blocks I made yesterday.

Purple Briar Patch Blocks

The end of the paper piecing phase of this quilt project is in sight. Yay! You're maybe as sick of seeing them on my blog as I am of piecing them ... next up is arranging and rearranging on the design wall, adding the plain squares and setting triangles and cutting fabrics for the pieced inner border of half-square triangles.

Before returning to the retreat this morning, I had to put them up on the design wall to double check the blocks/colors needed.  So now, the in-progress quilt looks like this:

All the Briar Patch blocks made so far

That perfect backing fabric that I found on Massdrop has been shipped and is on the way.  I'm also thinking it will work for the outer border if there is enough. Who knows?  If I continue to push to get this top pulled together, perhaps I'll make enough progress to be ready for it when it arrives.

Updating this post to link to Angie's WIPS Be Gone list–now that all the blocks are pieced, the end is in sight.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Looking for Mr. Right - My Finished Wall Hanging

It was an 11th hour finish of the wallhanging I made for the Northern New Mexico Quilt Guild's retreat raffle quilt. Here it is thrown over the rail on the porch outside the retreat center.

Over the rail at the retreat center

I didn't take a photo of it hanging inside (on an improvised hanging system using a curtain rod and two bungee cords ... that worked surprisingly well)–I will update this post with a photo of that because I had low expectations that it would work at all.  Here it is "test hanging" on the gray-green wall in my kitchen earlier today.

Test hanging in my kitchen

Updated with a few more photos of the quilt:  hanging at the retreat behind the fabric sale table; a close-up of my improvised quilt hanging system (using two bungee cords); and a peek at the back.

Hanging at the Retreat Improvised bungee hanging system A peek at the back
(click for larger images on Flickr)

After tormenting myself trying to decide on thread colors and quilting design, I decided to go with a simple spiral, using medium gray thread.  I tried a different approach to quilting the center of the spiral (bad idea), but I am still happy enough with the result.  Here are detail photos of a log cabin block, an Oklahoma Boomer and one of Julie's "Boomerettes"(there is a second boomerette on the back). 

Brite log cabin block Oklahoma Boomer block A Boomerette!
(click for larger images on Flickr)

At some point during the quilting and binding, in my easily amused mind, the quilt became Looking for Mr. Right. 

The quilt measures 36-inches wide by 42-inches high. The spiralling quilting lines are approximately 1/2-inch apart - quilted on my little purple Bernina using the the walking foot.  Here it is one more time, in the sunny courtyard ... my outdoor photography definitely need work :-)

In the courtyard

The quilt top has been waiting to be quilted for a while ... I ended up finishing the quilt the day before the retreat.  I'm celebrating this 11th hour finish on the following:

Block Lotto Show & Tell
Can I get a Whoop whoop? on Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Crazy Mom Quilt's  Finish it Up Friday
Fabric Frenzy Friday on Fort Worth Fabrics
QuiltShopGals' Creative Goodness
Richard and Tanya's Link a Finish Friday

Friday, April 03, 2015

More Strings - My Goal for a Lovely Finish in April

When I finally finished the moldy golden oldie String Star quilt–now known as Then & Now–it felt so good that I decided to pull another string quilt top out of the UFO trunk and make finishing it my goal for a lovely finish in April.

This Liberated Wedding Ring quilt is another from Gwen Marston's book, Liberated String Quilts.

I began making the blocks during a virtual online retreat with the liberated quilters Yahoo group at the end of January, 2010.

These were fun to put together and about a week later, I posted a Progress Report with the completed top, taken in my itty bitty loft in Dallas.

Johnny inspects the completed top

In that 5 year-old blog post, I mentioned how, Gwen's quilt has beautiful, traditional quilting . . . and I plan to attempt the same.  I realize now how the notion of beautiful traditional quilting completely intimidated me and is, in part, the reason this one has been folded up and put away for so long. Here's that inspiring-yet-intimidating image of Gwen Marston's beautifully hand-quilting from the book:

Liberated Wedding Ring

I have ordered some thread and am thinking about how to quilt the top in a way that nods at that beautiful, traditional quilting design but also has some of me in it.  I am thinking of a pieced scrappy backing, so that will be my first task toward finishing my big red liberated wedding ring quilt. 

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Then & Now - The String Star Quilt is Finished!

As I was quilting the golden oldie UFO string stars and thinking about the differences between my quilting tastes and skill set back when I pieced the string stars and now, the name for the quilt was born: Then & Now. The finished quilt measures approximately 74 by 90-inches and was made using templates in Gwen Marston's book Liberated String Quilts.

I set things up a bit too close to one of the skylights in the studio, so the natural lighting is a little uneven, but you get the idea.

Then & Now

Back Then, I struggled when putting together the star blocks–none of them were flat–and had problems matching the points/seams when sewing the blocks together.  Now,  I have been quilting twice as long as then.  I would have used a different technique to assemble the blocks–thank you Jan Krentz–with a better result: flat stars and matched seams. I would have chosen different proportions for the borders and probably included an inner border to float the star blocks.

Then, I chose the stencils I used for the quilting design, but was afraid that my quilting wasn't up to the task.  Now, it's easier for me to just go for it, even if my quilting still really isn't up to the task.  I embraced the attitude that every quilt is practice for those that follow ... and I practiced a few things while I finished this quilt. I used the stencils for the border and the large square spaces, but winged it for the rest.

Then & Now - Detail

Celebrating this finish on these lists:

Can I get a Whoop whoop? on Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Crazy Mom Quilt's  Finish it Up Friday
Fabric Frenzy Friday on Fort Worth Fabrics
Lizzie Lenard's Free Motion Mavericks
QuiltShopGals' Creative Goodness
Richard and Tanya's Link a Finish Friday
Mrs Sew & Sow's Scraptastic Tuesday for April
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