Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Here it is - the progression of color on this little quilt (finishes at 16 x20)
First is the sepia-tone that I shared previously. Next a similar picture shown in true colors.
And last the finished piece with the walnut crystal dye spritzed all over.
I love how it looks just a little aged. It just seems warmer to me. I have used coffee and tea to dye fabric and finished quilts in the past. It's fantastic to have a new tool in my arsenal. Thanks to Nancy for sharing this idea.

Another thing that just tickles me . . . in the sepia photo, you can see the quilting stitches, but they virtually disappear in the color picture. It's like magic. Honestly the simplest things will just amuse me for hours.

There are a total of 9 patterns in this pack. I think I will do one more (they are just so darned fun) and then get on with the whole cloth. I'm feeling pretty good about my quilt stitch right now and my fingers are feeling a bit toughened up. A couple of good movies this weekend and I'll have a good start.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Wow - thanks to everyone for the overwhelming response to the Postage Due quilt. There were times when it surely was a trial . Even a several hour period where I considered making it into a dog bed. The lesson: Be patient, wait until it's completely finished before deciding if it was worth the effort. The joy of Hubby pulling it over his legs in the evening instead of kicking up the thermostat is worth every little 1/2" square.
Next up is the whole cloth quilt I received for Christmas. I started out with 14" to 18" squares that I picked up at the local quilt show over the years. There are now 4 or 5 being used as dresser scarves, etc. around the house. Last winter I moved up to a 40" piece that I wanted for my dining room table. Now I feel like I'm ready for the big time and asked The Princess for a queen sized piece. I directed her to this website and she made a lovely selection. I have been anxious to begin ever since the package was opened.
But like all quilters, I felt like I owed it to myself to complete some projects that have languished for far too long. I've met the goal and I ready to begin. But first . . .
It's been a long while since I've hand quilted. I want my piece to reflect my best work and decided maybe some practice would be in order. Recently Finn has been sharing her dolly quilts. They reminded me of a pattern I purchased by Lori Smith. These would be something I could piece quickly and get some hand quilting practice. They finish at about 16" x 20". This first one took only a couple of hours to piece. I think it took longer to pick just the fabrics I wanted than to put the top together. I nearly completed the quilting in one evening.

Saturday morning I decided that was such fun I should do another only this time not struggling with fabrics. I got out a huge pile of scraps and using the pattern photo for color inspiration just had at it. They are mostly reproduction type fabrics. There are a lot of colors going on in this little gem. I'm showing it in sepia because I intend to use a walnut crystal dye over the surface once the quilting is complete. I learned of this technique several months back on Nancy's blog. Her work has a wonderful primitive warmth that I am just in love with. I'll share color photo when it's done.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

By popular request - Here is a close up of one of the blocks. The pattern is called Postage Due by Sue Garman. The pieces are cut at 1" and finish at 1/2" (it's strip pieced, sort of. Each little piece didn't have to be handled or stitched individually.) Each block has 15 fabrics, not including the light or red. The pattern called for 30 fat quarters, and I think I have a few more than that. I just pulled from what I had and not everything was a full fat quarter. It's amazing how the same fabrics can be used over and over and still look so completely different from block to block. It is a VERY heavy quilt - I teased Hubby that is was almost like the lead bib at the dentist. It certainly won't blow away. I used a thin cotton batt to keep it from getting heavier still. I quilted pretty densely with a meander stitch.

*When I click on the picture to enlarge the image, the pieces are just about actual size*

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Did you hear it? The birds sang - angels surely wept - the quilt is done. 13,052 pieces all stitched together. I started this quilt just about 2 years ago. At that time I did all the things that I was competent at -- I bought the fabric, I cut it into strips and started sewing them together. Soon it became abundantly clear that I had no idea what I was doing. I read the pattern, I re-read the pattern, I made a test block, I was confused.
Carefully I tucked everything into a box and put it in the closet. I was sure that I could do it . . . someday. I t has been in the back of my mind all along, but I came across the box when I was reorganizing my supplies. I read the pattern again and decided to give it a new try.I have to say I'm still not sure I understand how to make the it. But the pattern had some very nice diagrams that I was able to follow. Sometimes a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Hubby doesn't often offer many comments on my quilts, but he is quite taken with this one. Now it's his. It's draped over his chair waiting for him to come home from work.
So what's next? Let's just say that I'm off little pieces . . . for now. My next project was my Christmas present from The Princess - a whole cloth quilt.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I want to vacuum the floor . . .but I can't until I manage to get this assembled into a quilt top. I was going great guns on Tuesday, just sewing and sewing. Pieces fitting together so nicely. I had stopped the serial pinning and allowed the pieces to nest into one another -- it was beautiful. I was working on one last block before stopping to fix dinner. TaDa - done. I went to attach it to its row. Wait. That's not right - flip a quarter turn. Nope, still not right - turn again. Huh-uh - again with the turn. Nothing. One more flip and I'm right back where I started. Maybe this is where they came up with the name Trip Around The World. Some how I had managed to assemble the block completely backwards. I don't know how, but if it can be done -- I WILL do it. I just pushed it all aside and went to the kitchen.
On Wednesday using fresh eyes, I looked at it again to see if perhaps I had just put one row on the wrong end. (This idea came to me because I have done that little trick on a previous block) Couldn't be that simple. I had to take all the rows apart *phooey* and reassemble them. I picked it apart and laid it all out properly. Now I think I'm back in business.
I intend to devote the greatest amount of my time over the next few days to getting this top completely assembled. If I really put my nose to the grindstone, I hope to finish by Monday. Then, at long last, I can vacuum the floor.

Monday, February 12, 2007

It's nice to get away from the everyday things but it's even nicer to come home again. I have my things all unpacked and the suitcase put away, a couple of loads of laundry and a trip to the store to refill the cupboards.
I got the chance to visit 3 of the quilt shops in Las Vegas. It's so fun to see what is being done in other places. No purchases, but some fresh ideas for things I'd like to do. It seems like my mind is always swirling with what projects I can start, fabrics to use, techniques to try . . .
I have been to Las Vegas twice before. It was very different to not be in one of the hotels on 'The Strip.' They have all the same stores and eating establishments that we have locally. Like a real town. It was an interesting revelation to me as I always think of the spot where the action is and not about how locals must live.
Tomorrow I will get back to the business at hand - the postage stamp quilt. I just know it's going to start going faster soon. Over the weekend I worked on piecing the back of the snail's trail - a cutting debacle when preparing for the front left me with many unused triangles. I stitched them into squares and will piece them together to make the back. I'm glad it was an easy fix. The top still needs borders. Those must wait until I can spread out on the floor to measure. (The floor that I use is currently occupied by all of the pieces of the postage stamp.)
I was pretty overwhelmed by all of the comments and posts from the days that I was gone. I may not leave a comment everywhere I visit, but I promise to read everything. I'll be back on track before you know it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Weekend Update . . .

I didn't work on the postage stamp quilt as much as I had hoped in the last week or so. I really thought I would be much further along than I am. It got pushed aside in favor of a couple of other projects, but I have managed to get one more row complete. Making the strip sets required to construct the blocks takes far longer than I would possibly imagine and this last row required 3 new strip sets. The next row will only need 1 new set - the rest of the rows will just be assembling blocks. I feel like I might be able to see the barn door from here. I decided that I needed to work on Bob. The applique is all stitched down now. I have plans for 3 borders - a skinny border to frame what you see now, a pieced border and finally a larger plain border with pieced corners. I feel good having it settled in my mind and now Bob can rest until the postage stamp is done.
Also in the works is this quilt - a snail's trail. I'm planning on donating this quilt here
It needs to get up to double-bed size, so a couple of borders will be in order for this quilt as well. I have always wanted to do a 2 color quilt using blue, but blue is not among my favorite colors. I'm so glad to have found a way to satisfy my 'hankerin'

This gorgeous sunrise is what I saw a couple of mornings ago from my backyard. I think it must have been the most spectacular I have ever seen. As I was stumbling toward the kitchen to refill my coffee, I noticed the kitchen just seemed to have a pink glow. I dashed for the camera and was able to capture just a little bit of the show. I'm sharing this with you now as I am hoping for a similar display tomorrow. I am plan to be on the road as the sun rises, traveling to visit a friend for a long weekend. She used to live in California but now lives in Las Vegas. We are going to quilt shop hop, sew, and who knows what.
You know the saying, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas"? Well, for me I wish it would apply to the overeating I am sure to do -- that will be my only sin. Have a great weekend. See you all next week.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Work on Postage Due continues.I took several days off because I was just tired of looking at those little squares, but I hopped right back on the wagon yesterday. I feel like good progress was made and I may even complete two rows this week . . . extra good news because they are the longest rows in the quilt.
I finished the applique portion of 'Bob' over the weekend. Next is a skinny border, a pieced border (pieces need to be made) and a final border - yet to be determined.
Here is Harper, hinting that more play time needs to get on the agenda as well. It's a fairly strong hint, wouldn't you say?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Guacamole Bowl - in our house it's all about the snacks.

I know there are many die-hard football fans out there. But you must remember that we live in the land of The Chargers: The Team That Never Fails To Disappoint. In a pure step of self-preservation, years ago our family became dedicated to watching all the festivities no matter who was playing so we could be part of the Monday morning conversation. We soon realized the talk quickly moved from the game to favorite commercials and we can be right in the thick of it all.
This morning I made the guacamole - a food as important to this day as turkey and cranberry sauce is to Thanksgiving. I also made shrimp dip - a recipe passed to me from my mom and a true family favorite. We have fresh ranch dressing on hand, too. More dip than you can shake a chip at . . . and there was the problem.
We thought we might have to forgo dips this year. Just two short weeks ago, Hubby got braces. Now we have a list of can't eat foods - ironically all foods on a traditional Thanksgiving menu are just what he should have. I thought long and hard. We are 'Dip' people. If you can scoop a chip through it, we are there. It just wouldn't be right not to serve dips and it sure wouldn't be fair to Hubby to watch others enjoy.
First it came to me that we could have hot wings. A perfect way to use ranch dressing. Okay, maybe would just have to satisfy ourselves with that and limp through the day. But I already had my avocados. (When the cold weather came a couple of weeks ago and all the talk of rising prices, I jumped to action and purchased them before the rush was on.) Quesadillas - the thought came to me as I was driving to the grocery store. The perfect guacamole solution.
I'm testing out a modification to the shrimp dip - adding shredded Parmesan cheese and extra garlic then baking it until it's bubbly and hot all the way through. We can use Ritz crackers as the dipping vehicle. Of course, I did buy one bag of chips. I will try to crunch on them quietly in the corner.
I hope everyone enjoys the game and that your favorite team wins!