Thursday, October 15, 2009

Autumn Apples

I have always wanted to make an applecore quilt. I saw templates similar to these years ago and have lamented many times not buying them when I first saw them. At the quilt show in September one of the vendors had this acrylic set and so of course I bought it.

I'm hoping to make a scrappy red, green and tan quilt. I have no deadline, it'll just be handwork for me to carry about and if it stays a UFO I'm okay with that.

Friday, October 9, 2009


This is my completed quilt top "Coneflowers". It has some issues, places where the color selection might have been better. When I look at this picture as a thumbnail, it all works perfectly, but when you look at it full size (and when you look at the quilt) the transitions are not as nice and you don't see plainly where the petals join the center on the flower in the front. I am debating whether to change the fabrics, or live with it.

Next month ECQG is bringing Linda Fiedler in and she'll be teaching thread painting for one of her workshops. I might use this piece as an experiment for that technique. Perhaps I can shade some of those weaker transitions to help them along? For right now, I'm claiming a victory. I've taken a workshop and completed the top from that class in record time. Woohoo!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Picture Piecing with Ruth Powers

I felt really blessed to take Ruth Powers' Picture Piecing workshop last month. I'm trying to remember if I've ever been so eager to finish a workshop piece before, but I don't think I have. I showed you a fraction of the quilt yesterday.

The pattern is called "Coneflowers" and is really easy to put together. The challenge for me has been in the fabric selection. I love the way peach and brown work together, and I'm glad to be playing with it in this piece.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What Is It?

Can you guess what this is?

Hint: I took a workshop with the ECQG in September and this is a piece of the project from that class.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Vanilla Quilt?

As I was writing my last entry, I pondered all the words I used to describe the colors that range between white and brown. I hate beige. Taupe, too. Five letter words ending in "e" are not pretty words for color. Of course I don't hate these colors. In fact, I LOVE them. I just hate words that sound like they might be found on pantyhose packaging.

At the ECQG meeting on Friday a lady showed a quilt that was all white and beige (that's my story and I'm sticking to it, although thinking back, I realize it might have had other colors, LOL). I turned to my friend Pam and said, "I love vanilla quilts." She laughed at me, but it's what came to my mind when I reached for a descriptive term for the soft off whites in the quilt. It seems to me there was a fairly popular pattern in the mid 90s called "Vanilla Rose" that was all creams and soft pinks. So perhaps that informed my selection.

I've been cutting up the scraps from my hunter's star quilt into 2.5" blocks and I'm going to make 9 patch blocks from the lighter browns and white fabric. I'll use them as the leaders and enders of my sewing while I work on other things, and at some point I'll have enough 9-patch blocks to make a quilt. This is the first time I've ever tried Bonnie Hunter's technique for making a scrap quilt along with other work I'm doing. So far I have four 9-patch blocks. We'll see how well it goes. By the way, Bonnie has a new book coming out about using leaders and enders for making quilts. Drop by at Quiltville and see all her wonderful quilt ideas.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Monthly Accounting: October

Alright so I've already confessed that I wasn't sewing much over the summer. (As in, if it it didn't need binding or a hanging sleeve for the show, I didn't even think about doing it.) So I have a few projects that are still in UFO status and a few more that I've started since the show ended:

Quilt tops that need basting, quilting and finishing:

Ramblin' Rose
Briners' Picnic
Ties That Bind

Quilt tops that need piecing:

Hunter's Star (A few blocks made, end size unknown)
Vanilla Quilt (Three blocks made, end size unknown)
Flowers (Piecing nearly finished, just three more sections to go)

Other projects:

Apron (pieces cut, but I need to transfer marks from pattern to fabric and do the sewing.)

I have given up on the applique center that I was making for last year's Piecemakers exchange quilt. I was really unhappy with how it was turning out, and every time I picked it up I told everyone who was within earshot, "I hate this piece". It was time to let it go. So I'd like to work out some other arrangment of the blocks and move on, but it's not high on my list of priorities.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

I am finally sewing again. After seeing "Georgia Celebrates Quilts" just over a week ago, I was highly motivated to play with fabric. While I was there, I saw Mary Ellen from Little Quilts do a demonstration on a tool for making hunter's star blocks. Now, before you even think it, let me say it: I hate single purpose tools. Unitaskers as my guru Alton Brown likes to refer to them.

I fight hard against the impulse to buy such tools. Really. But this ruler is very cool. It only makes hunter's star blocks, so if you're not interested in that pattern then you're not in danger of falling in love. But if you've ever wanted to make a quilt from this pattern and have been intimidated about it, let me encourage you to at least LOOK at Deb Tucker's Rapid Fire Hunter's Star Ruler

I have been collecting fabrics ranging from cream to biscuit, to caramel, to chocolate, to coffee and even deeper almost but not quite black for some time. (No snarky comments about the descriptive words, I can't help it if they all describe colors so well and HAPPEN to be tasty, too.) I have known that I would someday make a quilt from them, I thought maybe a log cabin, or maybe a bear paw. In truth there is enough fabric to make a few quilts. But no quilts HAD been made. So I decided to drag them out and start cutting. In just a few hours I had made several hunter's star blocks. It will be a scrappy 2 color quilt. I'm already loving it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Next Thing

My next project is not a quilt, but I am going to use these fabrics, aren't they wonderful?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summer Vacation

We are at the beach this week, and as you can see from the picture, we're having a wonderful time. I'm glad I got "The Ties That Bind" pieced completely before leaving town. I'd have been thinking (in a guilt ridden way) about it this week if I hadn't.

The ECQG quilt show is coming up in a few months. Deadline for entry was this week. I entered "Blush and Bashful" and "Tropical Storm" which still needs a binding. Guess what I'll be working on when I get home?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Ties That Bind, Day Three

So... I went to Tiny Stitches on Sunday afternoon, while hubby and Kay were having Daddy/Daughter time.

The store was nearly empty, which worked out well for me, because I wound up trying out about 20 different bolts to find the right fabric for my quilt. Here are some of the things that DIDN'T work. I was looking for an alternative to the royal blue I went in thinking I might need.

Ultimately, this purply blue batik gave me the best results. I thought it might be TOO strong. Perhaps I needed to just do another yellow border and save the blue for binding? I decided to store it all for a couple of days and then lay it out again. I cut strips 3.5" wide and laid it out again yesterday morning. I laid it out in the front entry hall, so that I would see it as I went through my day. (Thank goodness that Smudge has trained himself to not walk on quilt layouts.)

I like it. So I've sewn all the strips to the triangles. Four more seams to go and I'm done.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Ties That Bind, Day Two

I had to re-adjust the design for ease of assembly. My first design was more interesting, but I thought if I chose something TOO challenging to puzzle together, I was going to end up with a bunch of half finished piecing and another UFO. I wanted to get the top together while I was excited about it. At first I couldn't decide how to piece the outer triangles, but ultimately I figured out that if I nestled the smaller blocks right next to the larger one, the math would be simple.

I found I could use black as a sashing, if it were not stark. I used the black and white check I bought.

The outer border was a much bigger challenge than I was expecting. Not more checks. I tried every black, white and black and white on black that I have. Nothing worked. Either it was too busy, too similar to the checks, or too stark a contrast. Then I started looking at royal blue. There's enough of it in the quilt and I've always liked the way it plays with yellow and the drama of royal and black together. Pulled my blue stash box, and found I didn't have anything I liked in the amounts I needed. Off to the LQS, again!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Ties That Bind, Day One

This quilt just happened. Almost against my will. Like a woman who didn't know she was pregnant and finds her self pushing in the seat of her car, this quilt demanded to be born where I had no plans to make it at all. Nineteen 6" blocks don't make much of a quilt, do they? Since this challenge was announced back in December I've wondered what the heck I was going to make with these blocks. I almost did nothing at all. I got them at the exchange meeting and put them in their plastic baggie and didn't even look at them until Lynda and Melinda came for a visit a week later. We started talking about them and I got them out again. Looking at them, I thought I had some OTHER 6" blocks that I had made YEARS ago, while I was pregnant. I thought I knew where they were stored and dug them out. Turns out the hearts are 5" not 6". But in the same bag were some 9" friendship stars made for me by the Monday Morning Quilters in Boston. They sent me those blocks when I first moved to Georgia. I always meant to do something with them, but didn't know what. I started playing with the three different blocks wondering if I could somehow make a quilt with blocks of such disparate measurements.

Before Lynda and Melinda left that day, I had sewn together the nine hearts in the center, and was already thinking about backgrounds and sashing. After a run to the LQS I had enough yellow to get through the project (or so I thought) and build my stash which was sadly short on sunny yellow. I also picked up a black and white checkered fabric that I thought might work as sashing, but I wasn't sure.

My first thought was to use black to expand the churn dash blocks, but I felt it stopped the design and looked too choppy.

Yellow worked better:

Then I realized I didn't like the stars in the middle of the border. Hearts worked better:

I tried again with black coping strips:

Once again, I chose yellow:

Getting these borders pieced and attached was the end of that first day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Piecemakers' Exchange 2009

Here is a picture of the blocks I received in the 2009 Piecemakers' Exchange. They are cute, and I love the colors. We were told to use black on white, white on black and a bright color. We were all surprised to see how many had used yellow. And the three reds were all a pinkish red (you couldn't MAKE that happen if you wanted to, surely someone would throw in a scarlet or maroon if you tried to restrict them to pinkish reds!). I like the churn dash blocks quite a lot, and I've never made a quilt using them so this is potential fun.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I haven't been sewing much since spring began. I could tell you that it's because I was gardening so much more, or because I was too busy with Kay's school and ballet, and I wouldn't be lying. The truth is, I just lost my muse. I couldn't make myself work on any of the projects I have going, and I didn't want to start anything else. Oh, also, I discovered Facebook. Let me just say, don't go there. I take full responsibility for my decisions, but I swear, that website sucked whole days, not hours, out of my schedule!

The garden is doing beautifully, Kay is done with second grade, and tomorrow she will finished the two week intensive program for ballet. What am I going to do with the rest of my summer? I'm going to sew, of course. How do I know? When I haven't been sewing for the past few months? I got a kickstart. The Piecemaker's block exchange was due last week. 6" churn dash blocks, 20 of 'em due on last Monday. On Saturday night I sat down to a nice dinner with Lynda and confessed I hadn't even started. I estimated it would take six hours to make the blocks, and it turned out I was darn close. I turned my blocks in and spent a lovely time with some of the Piecemakers. I looked through the blocks I had received and considered some setting options, but really I wasn't too inspired. I thought the blocks were too small, and I didn't need a wallhanging in these colors. Leaving that day, I thought I might not make anything at all.

This Monday, that all changed. Stay tuned and I'll tell you all about it. Thanks to all of you who have contacted me in the past few months to make sure I was okay. I'm doing fine. Buried up to my neck in yellow squash and zucchini at the moment, but otherwise I'm just fine.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Promise of Things Hoped For

We began cleaning out some of our flower beds this weekend and look what is about to bloom:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Rose Takes Flight

An interesting series of events informed my decisions about the border designs for "Ramblin' Rose". I had gotten the blocks put together last week, and as I looked at the piece, lying on the floor, I thought the next border could be flying geese or it could be a swag applique border. On Monday I decided to go visit Melinda at Tiny Stitches where she was teaching a "beyond beginners" class. I walk into the classroom and isn't she teaching the students about making strips of flying geese?

I showed her the quilt top and we talked about Pat Sloan's method for making flying geese blocks. I went home and made a slew of blocks, and spent most of the week making the strips of borders (including using downtime in a class I took on Thursday).

By Saturday afternoon the borders were all made and ready to go on the quilt. As I worked, I began thinking about the next border. I had just taken a class with Kathy Kansier about edge treatments, and decided I would make a scalloped border for this quilt. So, I set to work cutting the fabric. It's ten inches now, but I think ultimately it will be between 6-8". I'm happy to put this project up for a few days while I work on that last table runner, getting "Briner's Picnic" sandwiched, and finish turning the binding on "Princeton Plainsboro"

I'm thinking about quilting designs, and what I want my scallops to look like, so that when I get serious about finishing this piece I'm ready to go. I think I have enough of the black floral in the final border to use it for the backing.

Someday I'll do a swag border. Honest.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Monster in the Closet

So, the big four: "Princeton-Plainsboro", "Briner's Picnic", "Ramblin' Rose" and my old stack and whack top that got pulled apart to be a pile of blocks again, are starting to look like the monster in the closet did by the time I was 14.

You know that feeling? When you were a teenager, and you could remember that you USED to think there was a monster in the closet, but you no longer feared opening the door? That's how I feel about the big four, and the big six before that. Honestly, looking back, I think having so many UFOs kept me from being able to make any progress ANYWHERE in my quilting life. I have seldom worked this hard on a goal, but it's been totally worth it. I knocked off "Blush and Bashful" and hired out "Tropical Storm" to get it finished. "Princeton-Plainsboro" has binding, and "Rambling Rose" blocks are pieced, and I'm working on the final border this week. "Briner's Picnic" will be easily quilted and bound, in fact, I might get it sandwiched next week.

Of course, I now have "Mystery in the Mountains" to finish, as well as the Piecemaker's 2008 exchange quilt, but I really am starting to see that the monster was not something to be feared. It is entirely possible that by March I will be HUNTING to the bottom of that closet for other UFOs that need to be attacked.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Monthly Accounting: February

Aren't you proud of me? For several months running I have managed to report to you about my progress for the month. Well. I'm proud of me, at any rate. I was thinking a monthly feature might REALLY stretch my ability to commit to blogging, but it's actually been a great motivator, both for sewing and for blogging.

- 2 tables runners which were actually Christmas gifts, I didn't get to finish them, so I pieced them and presented them as gifts. (My dear friends opened their boxes, laughed with me and graciously handed them back so I could finish them!)

Made Progress:
-Quilted "Princeton Plainsboro" (2007 Piecemaker's house quilt project)
-1 table runner
-Continued to stitch on blackwork blocks, but won't be done anytime soon!
-Went on retreat and pieced center of "Mystery in the Mountains", it needs two borders
-Frogged non-working sashing on "Ramblin' Rose" and started over, blocks now pieced together in a happy arrangement. One border finished this weekend. Final border to go.

Left Untouched:
-Sandwich, quilt and bind "Briner's Picnic"
-Applique center for 2008 Piecemakers' exchange quilt

In February:
-Finish that remaining table runner
-Finish piecing the top for "Ramblin' Rose"
-Bind and make a few little adjustments to "Tropical Storm".
-Bind "Princeton Plainsboro"
-Get started on Piecemaker's 2009 exchange blocks

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

I realized this week I never showed you the pin cushion I received in the ECQG Christmas exchange. This kitty cushion was made by Barb C. who I have enjoyed working with for years. I decided that I would use some embroidery floss and stitch it to my ironing board. Now I always have a pin cushion handy when I'm there, and when it's in the way, I just let it hang off the side.

Pretty cute, huh?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Revelation, A Confession, and a Commitment

I was at a LQS this week and saw this block of month pattern (The Queen and Her Court) and had the fabrics been even slightly interesting to me, I would have signed up for it. And then it dawned on me, I don't have time for these things if I want ANY time at all to create my own work.

In looking at the quilts I've worked on in the past year or so, there have been three block of the month projects, three blocks exchanges (with a fourth coming up), some old UFOs mostly started in classes, some baby quilts and table runners. In all honesty, the table runners were where I expressed my creativity the most.

It's true that I never put blocks together in the way that the block of the month designer intended, but really, I'm not growing and doing the kind of work I want to do because I'm too busy putting together blocks someone else planned for me. So here it is. Yes, I did sign up for "My True Love" block of the month at Tiny Stitches, but that's it. I'm not doing this anymore. I'm going to seek do projects that will stretch my creativity and skill. I've still got a few of the big UFOs I'm trying to finish, but that will be done this year. I'm not going to start any more UFOs designed by someone else, period.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another Mystery

My friend Pam, from ECQG and Piecemakers, made this quilt top in a mystery class with Billie Lauder. Isn't it pretty? I've been collecting fabrics that range from cream through caramel, to coffee, and chocolate. (Sounds yummy, no?) I know someday I'm going to make a quilt (although in truth, I now have enough fabrics to make a few quilts) that works in this color range. It might even be scrappy, although I don't do scrappy as a rule.

I've come a long way to love this color selection. Years ago I made a scrappy beige and taupe (and some browns) quilt to match my someone's interior design plan for his home. I named it "Five letter words ending in 'E' are not colors". I'm starting to see the end of the tunnel of UFO's I've been climbing out of. Perhaps then I can start looking at what I will do with these beautiful fabrics.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My New Cutting Board

I don't think I mentioned this to you before, but hubby gave me a mega cutting mat for Christmas. Someday I will have a dedicated cutting table and this will cover it nicely, in the meantime, it is the perfect size for covering either my dining room or kitchen tables. I LOVE it. He gave it to me rolled up pretty tight in a long box. Getting it unrolled in the first place was interesting. It's been lying out with coffee table books on it for about a week now, and it's finally relaxed enough to use, although it might be a bit of time before it's truly flat.

I'm a patient woman. Good things come to those who wait.

Monday, January 19, 2009

More From the Mountains

I showed you my quilt top and Joyce's, but here are some pictures of tops made by other folks at the quilt retreat. I know the blue and white one belongs to Melinda, but beyond that I am lost. I was really surprised to see that whether people used soft colors or bold, modern or vintage replica prints, this quilt was successful as long as there was good contrast.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Doesn't She Look Guilty?

Joyce was the murderer!

The retreat was great fun. I wish I had taken a picture of the sun setting over the mountains that first night, because the weather was awful the next few days. Melinda has a lovely picture on her blog, check it out!

There was a murder mystery, along with a mystery quilt project. We had many chances to figure out who the murderer was as we sewed our clues together, but I am no good at catching the subtle clues. I rallied hard, trying to raise an election to make me the murderer, and I think we all had great fun with it, but Melinda stood firm that the murderer had already been chosen and there was no way to know if I had been selected without solving the mystery. Obviously, it wasn't me.

On Saturday afternoon I had finished my mystery blocks and went off into the hall and tried to imagine what the final solution might be. (We wouldn't be getting the final clues until Sunday morning.) I was close, but not correct. Here's the layout that was planned. I like it better, there was too much emphasis on purple in my solution!

I still think there might be too much purple. I've got the top sewn together, there are two more borders called for, but I've put it on hold for a couple of weeks. I want to look at it with a fresh eye and see what I think at that point. (And goodness knows I have enough other irons in the fire to deal with!)

Honestly, I think my favorite part was getting to spend three uninterrupted days with my friend. (I dunno if she feels the same way. She might be sick of me!) But it was all great. I got the Ramblin' Rose blocks undone from their failed sashing, and got some good thinking time to consider how to move forward. I also traced the pattern for another of my blackwork blocks, and I got to spend some time being good to myself. I finished the book "Water for Elephants" which was wonderful. So it was an enormously productive weekend. I wish all my quilting friends had been there. Maetha told us on Sunday that Tiny Stitches had already reserved the same weekend for next year. I'm looking forward to going again!

Tropical Storm

Many years ago, when we were still newyweds hubby fell in love with stack and whack quilts. They were not (and still aren't) my favorite pattern, and I told him that if he wanted one, he'd better sign up for a class and make one because it was WAAAAYYYYY the heck at the bottom of my list. (Before you get on me about this, please understand that at that time, I was working on a queen size mainer's compass medallion quilt for him.)

So you know what he did? He took himself down to the LQS and signed us both up for a stack and whack quilt, and then we went shopping. He chose a wild tropical print, and I chose a soft colored large floral print. His background was kona cotton black, mine was a white printed with pale green. He made a HUGE number of blocks, I made a moderate number of blocks. His got sewn into a quilt top that is king size, mine got sewn into a queen size top.

Last year, in the big UFO cleanout, I came across these two tops again. We sat down together with my friend Melinda who agreed to custom quilt his top. They talked at length about what kind of motifs were desirable and what we would need to buy in way of backing and batting. It took me a long time to get around to placing the required orders and getting the pieces to Melinda, but she did take them off my hands and on Christmas eve, she delivered the quilt to me in a secret meeting, because hubby did not know that the deed had been done. Of course it was not bound, but he was pleased, nonetheless to see the beautiful work that Melidna had done, and to realize that his quilt was all but finished.

And what has happened with my quilt top? Well. I hated the setting. So I took it apart. I removed all the borders and sashing, and squared up the blocks again. They are sitting in a neat stack in the fabric room waiting for their turn on my design wall. Now that I've taken "Ramblin' Rose" down, I will get them up soon. And so begins the process, again, of choosing a setting. I can't wait.

A Confession: I'm Enjoying a Lazy Week

As I told you I went on retreat with a group from Tiny Stitches, and it was wonderful, but it exhausted me. So I've taken a lazy few days to recover. I've managed to get some quilting done and stay on top of my other responsibilities, but blogging fell by the wayside.

I have a bunch of pictures to download and lots of things to write about, and I will, maybe even tomorrow. I just wanted to let you know that I didn't get lost in the mountains.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Confession: I'm Starting a New UFO

I've been pretty determined to finish up old UFO's and not start new ones. When looking through quilting magazines I've had to fight the inner voice in me that says "I want to make that". There are certain things, "Princeton-Plainsboro", "Briner's Picnic", "Ramblin' Rose" and my old stack and whack top that got pulled apart to be a pile of blocks again, that I REALLY want to finish before starting another UFO. (By the way, I think of these projects as the "Big Four". It used to be the "Big Six" but I finished the two largest of them in time to give for Christmas gifts. Hooray!)

So why, if I'm so eager to finish these projects, so determined to not start new UFOs are you looking a pretty stack of fabric waiting to become a UFO? Because I'm going on a retreat hosted by my favorite LQS Tiny Stitches. I have known that I was going on this retreat for months. AND I knew that the retreat was featuring a mystery quilt project that I might enjoy. Even still, I was sure I wasn't going to take on a new project. I was going to take UFOs with me and finish some things while I was there. I was NOT going to do the mystery quilt during this weekend. NO. I was going to collect the clues and wait and make the quilt after I finished the Big Four.

All my cutting homework is finished:

I confess, I had a moment of weakness. Not an ordinary moment of weakness. The kind of moment of weakness, that when God gives you the opportunity to walk away from your temptation... you don't do it. Then he gives you another chance, and you still press forward. That kind of moment of weakness. So here I am. Loving the fact that I have such beautiful fabric to work with, and excited as all get out about going on retreat in beautiful Amicalola Falls, and not the least bit sorry that I have fallen for the seductive power of the UFO.

Melinda tells me that it won't have to be a UFO for long, because we'll actually finish the quilt top while we're there, and that I'll even have time to work on other projects. Hmmm. Yep. That's just enough justification for me.