Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm all over the place

 If you have read my blog in the past you will know that I have lots of projects on the go at once.  This really works for me as I always have something different to work on and I rarely get bored.  Almost everything gets done eventually and I am thrilled that the center of my Captain Russell inspired quilt is now done.  Just ready for a trimming and then I will sew it together.  I'm not doing the borders, partly due to a lack of interest and mostly because of size, so this one is almost a completed top.
And here is my Christmas top finished.  The photo is crap, cause I am a lousy photographer and cause it was just to big for DH to hold, but hopefully you get the idea.

Sadly I didn't have enough of the backing fabric that I had planned to use so while thinking about that I practiced some piecing with the leftover scraps.  One of my next projects calls for lots of  little 4 1/2 in star blocks so I used the time to test my pattern.  I decided not to use the method called for and wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting into.  Perhaps they will go into the back or maybe a new little project.

And here is what I did today.  Sorry, again another crappy photo but not everything is glued or pinned in place so I could only lay it flat.  This is from the book "Pennies from Heaven" and I added some silk applique to the wool.  I belong to a small group "Wooly Women" which was formed after a Sue Spargo workshop, where we work on embellishing our wool projects. Since I finished the project from the workshop, I needed to get something to work on for our next meeting.  I hope to embellish this with lots of embroidery and beading so it should be a fun project.  So what will I work on tomorrow?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A little more piecing

This week I have had a bit of pain in my hip which meant staying close to home and continuing on my Christmas piecing project.  Due a variety of family circumstances I haven't really been able to decorate or get in the festive spirit the past few years.  Hopefully this year the stars will align and I will actually be able to put up a tree and decorate the whole house.  We are in a new home and I am really liking how this looks in our living room.  It has been a long time since I've done such a variety of pieced blocks and it has been lots of fun trying to improve my piecing skills. Most of this quilt is on a 2 in. grid so nothing was too difficult to match though I am by no means perfect.  I'm hoping to start a more difficult pattern soon and think that this helped get me in the groove.  Now a few more joining seams and on to the dreaded borders.  Have I mentioned before that I HATE doing borders.  Here is about where I usually stop, at the almost complete stage - I know what it will look like and for me, the fun part of piecing is over.  But I love the fabric that I am using on the final border so hopefully that will encourage me to continue and I'll be able to show a finished top soon!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

In a piecing mood

Despite the fact that I love applique, sometimes I just get in a piecing kinda mood.  This week is one of those times.  I knew that I wanted a project that would just be pieced and since I really didn't have a project like that on the go I was able to start something new.  Yippee!  Kinda my reward for all the finishes I've had lately.  This is from last year's McCall's Quilting for Christmas.  I had been collecting some Christmas fabrics for a few years with no project in mind and decided to use them in this quilt.  It is really fun to piece so many different blocks and to select the fabrics for each block.  I'm over half way and can see that I'm really not making much of a dent in this stash so I guess there are more Christmas projects to come.  Maybe at table runner is next. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

2 more quilted

 I am still working away on the applique in the Captain Russell quilt so thought I would show 2 quilts that I completed recently.  This first is "The Graceful Garden" from the book of the same name by Denise Sheehan.  The original quilt calls for a pieced border but I found this stripe as I was collecting fabrics for the quilt and am happy with how it worked out.  The background fabric looks sorta weird in the photo but it is a cotton quilting fabric with a printed shimmery design and several of the prints also have gold metallic.
 I must be secretly drawn to glitz cause I am noticing a bit of a trend in some of my recent quilts.
And here is the finished 12 days of Christmas quilt.  I quilted a scroll design in the border, some little holly leaves in the corner squares, a scroll type background design and then holly vines in the outside border.
This one really looks better in person and despite the border being darker than anticipated, I am happy that I will have a new quilt for the holidays.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Romancing the Captain

 Have you ever had a project that you have just fallen out of love with?  Such was the case with me and this "Captain Russell quilt".  I had finished the outer 16 blocks and the center wreath but I no longer had that lovin' feeling.  Other things were newer, more attractive and exciting and I was in danger of moving on, so it was time to rekindle the romance.
I started by looking at what I had fallen in love with in the first place.  But as is often the case I really wanted to make the necessary changes to suit me.  Unfortunately the Captain wasn't perfect just as he was.  Now I had always loved the look of the quilts with a basket of flowers in the middle and that eagle and flag, wonderful as they are, just weren't speaking to me.  I was using the pattern on the right, but remembered that this quilt was partially patterned in the book on the left.  The book is from 1983 and was published before most of the Baltimore Album books and patterns that we are familiar with.  It actually suggests a technique of cutting out the shapes and just arranging them in a pleasing pattern, just as the ladies of Baltimore might have done.  And having seen some original unfinished album blocks at the Baltimore Museum of Art (where the Captain hangs and you can purchase the pattern) I thought it might bring back the excitement I had as I started the quilt.
The picture at the beginning of the post shows the first attempt at the block and this is the second.  I didn't like how the daisy like flower in the center stood out in the orange and wasn't fond of it in this gold color either.
I finally decided that I liked it better in this lighter gold, but now, having stitched half of the block I am not so sure.  I must admit though I think that I have rekindled my love.  Trying this technique was fun and freeing.  I did use another block pattern just to help with general balance but the block was truly made up by just placing shapes down until I liked how everything looked and then, using Roxanne's glue baste, I glued the whole block up ready for stitching.  Probably not for everyone but it was very fun and was a great way to bring new life to an old project.  Sometimes just having and open mind and trying something new can make you see things in a new light and it may even get your heart fluttering again. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

An exciting win

Our guild show opens today and last night the winners were announced.  I am thrilled that my quilt "Fontainebleau" won a first place in the applique category.  After the awards were announced we were able to go into the show for a preview and the first place winners had the opportunity to put the ribbon on their quilt.  Here is an excited me attaching the ribbon.  Not a great shot of me or the quilt, but a fun time.  To see a better picture of the quilt check out my June postings.  And you might recognize it as it is the quilt featured in my header photo.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chinese peony block 2

I am doing a second post of this block as I seem to be having some trouble with my posting.  This is another of my blocks from my quilt based on Chinese embroidery designs.  I am using these blocks as a reward when I finish a project or two.  I have been doing some machine quilting and working on some UFO's so that I can start something new.  In the meantime I am enjoying these blocks. I only have two left before I will have to make some design decisions but I am in no hurry to get them finished as I am just enjoying the process.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hand quilting takes forever...

 Though most of my quilt is done on my longarm, I just love to hand quilt.  I love how relaxing the process is and the beautiful way that it looks.  If I'm going to take the time to do it I really want it to be special.
This quilt pattern is from a very old McCall's quilting book that I bought when I was in college. (a long, long time ago :) )  I was newly engaged and had never quilted bought thought that since I sewed clothes that it would be easy.  This was before rotary cutters (OK it was the late 70's) and all the patterns advised making templates out of cardboard and well you probably get the picture.  So I started making a lemoyne star (I think that is what it is called) with these nasty fabrics in shades of brown, rust and tan and well it was hideous. I scrapped it and didn't attempt quilting again for another 6 or 7 years with much better success.  A couple of years ago I came across that quilting book and saw this pattern again.  Now this was the quilt I really wanted to make out of the book, not that brown and rust thing, I know I have the skills to do it!  The applique was pretty easy but oh the quilting, I have been working on this for over a year and it is taking forever.  Oh well, I still love this quilt and I will finish it someday!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Two more finishes in time for fall

This past weekend the last installment of the Henrietta Whiskers BOM by Bunny Hill designs was posted.  I was excited to have something fun to do on a rainy weekend and was especially excited to get it quilted.
Here are a few details of the quilting. I had lots of fun adding little details and I really feel like I am starting to bond with my longarm "Annie".  I think we are turning out to be buddies and are resolving our tension issues.
 I actually really enjoyed this quilting experience.  I also finished my Paisley medallion quilt that is being used to cover my off white ottoman.  I still need lots of practice going around the applique shapes but have found that slowing down and sitting while at the machine is really helping.

Most important I am working on keeping in mind that perfect is not necessary, after all I am quilting cause it is fun! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Proud as a Peacock

I am so excited and proud to show off this fun new quilt.  I can't remember if I have ever mentioned that my oldest son is a quilt designer.  He certainly never sewed at home but after a stint in publishing he began sewing and designing and never looked back.  He currently designs and does technical editing for Stitch magazine and his work has been seen in many other publications such as Quilter's Home and American Patchwork and Quilting.  But even more fun for me is the fact that he is starting a small pattern company and I sometimes have the opportunity to test patterns and make samples.  This is a new pattern "Peacocks on Parade" that should be finished soon.  
 It is a really fun quilt to make, especially fussy cutting all the little circles for the tail feathers.  It was a great excuse to use all those fun fabrics available right now.  Check him out at Feed Dog Designs and hopefully the pattern will be available soon.
This mom is sure proud as a peacock.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

12 Days of Christmas top finished

Yay, I just got this top finished and am pretty happy with it.  I looked and looked for an outside border with a brighter red but wasn't happy with anything I saw so I ended up with the border fabric that Little Quilts used in their finishing kits last year.  My sashing is a bit wider than theirs and I added red cornerstones but overall it is the same as their 2010 BOM.  Thanks to Wanda Hizer for designing this quilt and for the staff at Little Quilts in Marietta, GA for the wonderful fabric selection.  Now if I can just get it quilted before the holidays!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The musical men

Here are the last 2 blocks of the 12 Days of Christmas.  These 2 were rather tricky, lots of fiddly parts and overlapping but they are my favorites.
Now it is time for the dreaded trimming of the blocks, sashing and borders. I often get stuck right here with blocks done but no enthusiasm for putting it all together.  I recently took a look at many of my UFO's and realized that I don't really enjoy putting on that final border as I have 3 or 4 that just need borders to be finished.  Is that weird or does anyone else get stuck at the border?  Maybe I just need to have a border only day!