Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The First of the 2nd Quarter Finishes

I've got a finish for the second quarter -- the little mini quilt that has been was a permanent UFO from 2003.

It started as this.....

When I originally started this, it was supposed to be the first gift for the same friend I recently finished three gifts for (you can see those gifts here, here and here).  Back then, it was supposed to be a surprise for her to coordinate with one of the rooms of her then new house.  I wound up being the one surprised when just as I had finished the top, she called to say she and her husband were painting all the rooms of their house!  Of course when I visited after the painting, the gift was no longer suitable for the new color scheme.

After that,  I displayed it in my own home folded up in a frame where only the center showed.  That was partially because that was all that fit in the frame that I had and partially because although I liked the center of the quilt, I thought the borders "needed work".  The center is the same center motif (and paper pieced blocks) in "Our Amish Friendship Garden" quilt in Carol Doak's "Easy Machine Paper Piecing" book.

When we moved in 2011,  I had no place to display it in our new home so I stashed it thinking it would just be one of those never finished projects.  But then one day in 2012, I pulled it out and knew just what to do for it although I wasn't able to actually work on it then.

When I recently finished the gifts for my friend, I thought it was only fitting that I also finally finish this one. 

So I'm happy to say it's now up on the mini wall with the rest.

Hopefully this will not the be last of the second quarter finishes!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My List for the 2nd Quarter of the 2014 Finish A-Long

I'm checking in for the 2nd Quarter of the 2014 Finish A-Long.  It's being hosted this year by Katy Cameron of the The Littlest Thistle blog.  I had participated in the first two quarters of the 2013 Finish A-Long and actually got a couple of big projects done (seen here and here).  But I also made a list for the third quarter (here) then didn't get any of those done (although two of the projects from that list have since been finished).  I was so preoccupied during the last quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of this year that I didn't even get to draw up lists to participate.  Now I'm trying to get back on the horse so here goes the ambitious list for the next three months:

1.  An Unfinished Mini

This was actually a quilt I started way back in 2003 which was to be a surprise gift for a friend of mine.  I had made it to coordinate with the colors in one of the rooms of her (then) new house.  Before I could finish it, she decided to completely change the color scheme of the room so I had to ditch the gift!  In the past, I've displayed this little top in a frame but now that I have a wall of mini quilts (and recently finished some other gifts for the same friend), I decided that it was also a good time to bring this one to a complete close. The plan is to add the triangles to the borders (which I always felt needed a little added "umph!"), quilt, bind and hang it up.

2.  Fabric Gal

This one is slated to be my spring bed quilt.  I've had the fabrics bundled together since 2008 to make this quilt from Eleanor Burns' 25th Anniversary book ("Still Stripping After 25 Years") so again it's an opportunity to get an old PIG (Project In A Grocery Sack) off the shelves and on the bed.  I'd actually like to get this done this month and then also be able enter it in the "Let's Book It" challenge being hosted by Sharon over at Vrooman's Quilts

3.  Spring Fling

Additionally in the spirit of freshening up the bedroom for the season, this is a Jan Patek wall hanging that I'd also like to get done if I can.  Another reason to complete it is that I've got a similar Phd (Project Half Done) that I'd like to try to finish up for display in the Fall when that season comes around again.  But that project will be something to report for the next quarter!

4.  Civil War Lap Quilts

I started these blocks to make two lap quilts featuring Civil War reproduction fabrics.  Both are from quilt patterns by Kaye England, one from her  "Re-Piecing the Past" Craftsy class and the other from her book "A Civil War Legacy".  I only have three and four blocks left (respectively) to make for each.  The border, backing and binding fabrics for both are also already in house.  When finished, these will be added to a gallery of reproduction quilts I have made.

5.  Civil War Chronicles

Another addition to that CWR gallery (and to be displayed on my bed) will be this quilt when it's finally quilted. I had completed the top back in 2012 when I participated in Sinta Borland's BOM Rehab when she hosted it on her Pink Pincushion blog (and she and Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life also do the wonderful Schibbles Parade QALs).  I'm hoping that putting it in yet another challenge will help me bring it to a close.  I expect this to be the big challenge of the quarter, not the least of which will be deciding how to quilt it.

6.  Liberty Hall (aka Sweet Land of Liberty)

Another one from the "To Be Quilted" pile.  I'm hoping this will be easy to finish up as it's also for display in the house and I'd like to be able to put it up.  

7.   Let Freedom Ring 

Another mini and a small companion piece to the above quilt (it will hang in the same room).  It's a wonderful little wool project, one of many I hope to get done this year.  The design is from the Summer 2013 issue of Primitive Quilts magazine.

8.  A Gift Quilt and Tote Bag

I have a neighbor who has graciously shared with my family the bounty from when she and her DH go fishing and when they have excess produce.  They won't take cash for any of it and we have wanted for a while to give them a special thank you.  How does a quilter do that?  Make them a fish-related quilt and produce-related market bag!  I've had the fabric gathered for both for a while (dipping into and adding to my Batik stash for the quilt and a kit I got on sale at Connecting Threads for the bag).  I found the the perfect pattern for the quilt in the (e)book "Man Cave Quilts".  So now's the time to try and get these in gear too!  I'm hoping that the parts and pieces of these can be leaders/enders for other projects too.

9.  Journal Covers

Ever since I started quilting, it has been my tradition to keep journals of my quilt projects and thoughts and inspiration about creativity in general (and if you are interested in doing something similar check out Lori Kennedy's "Quilt Notebooks" posts at her blog The Inbox Jaunt).  It has also been my tradition to make quilted covers for the journals, usually using fabric scraps and orphan blocks (something I shared about on Finn's Orphan Train blog way back in 2009).  I have unfortunately been lax on that second part and now need covers for journals 3 - 5.  So if I can get one done a month, I'll be happily up- to date!

As an aside to all of the above (but not part of this list), I have a big and long overdue commission project to work on.  I'm hoping that keeping myself busy but focused in general and being able to bounce back and forth between different projects will keep me fresh when I'm stumped on (or tired of looking at) any particular one. Three months always seems like such a lot of time at the start......

With that, I'm looking forward to joining everyone for a very productive three months!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Another important finish!

Finally gift #3 for my friend is complete and off in the mail!

This is a jewelry roll done in a crazy quilt style.  As noted before, this gift was started for her years ago and yet is the last of the three gifts I made for her to be completed (#1 can be seen here (near the end of the post) and #2 here).
In Use

Originally there was also supposed to be a companion barrel tote to this but after finally getting the roll finished, I ran into problems with the tote and decided that having already made three other gifts, struggling to complete another was just not going to be the most productive use of my time.  Especially when I STILL have another huge and long overdue project to work on and with spring now upon us also very much want to move onto other things to spruce up the house.

A little process:  the roll is the "Bargello Jewelry Pouch" pattern from the book "Quick Quilting" by Kim Ritter.  I apologize for not being able to show a picture of the book --- I can't seem to find it around the quilt space which means it must be buried among fabric for another project.

I had made another one of these back in 2004 for another friend of mine using the book's bargello design (sorry for picture quality, these are pictures of "pre-digital" photos):

 The tube holding the rings (called a "ring roll") was something I added to the design after seeing them in other jewelry storage cases.

 My friend saw that one and asked me to make her one as well.  At the time I thought that the pouch design was flexible enough to try using a different cover style.  Back then doing a "crazy quilt" was still one of my "bucket list" items so I figured it would be cool to try making the cover in that style.

I starting gathering scraps and ideas for the new one in 2007 but admit that it never remained at the top of my focus list for too long hence why this project was still hanging around after all these years.  The other reason it faltered for so long was that I had a lot of big ideas over the years about what I wanted to try on this.  I did add decorative machine stitches along the seams, trims (although not as extensively as planned) and beads (ditto).  Plans to add couching and maybe embroidery motifs were also eventually abandoned as the time factor began to nag at me (hence why gifts should always be constructed in secret --- no deadlines!).

So I am glad I was able to mail this one out (along with #2)  to my friend and she will have it by Monday.  On to the Spring projects!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Two more finishes....

I realize I haven't posted in a while so I want to post a couple of updates.  I finally got Gift #2 for my friend finished (Gift #1 was finished at the end of last year and can be seen in this post).  This was a panel she purchased when we attended last year's Mancuso New Jersey Quilt Fest.  I should have quilted it much sooner but I'll settle for getting it finished. I finished the quilting at the end of February and attached the label (by hand) earlier this month.

This panel was special because at the time we attended the show, my friend's black and white cat was ill and then died a few months later.  So I call this quilt "Remembering Pepe" and hope it serves as a commorative gift for her.

Another (relatively) quickie project but one that has been on my idea list for a long time is this reproduction wallhanging I'm calling "Honoring the Journeys:
I made it to help fill the wall adjacent to where my Underground Railroad and Pioneer Samplers hang.

This shows the Pioneer Sampler side of the wall hanging.

I found poems and images on the web about both historical movements and combined them in Microsoft Word so I could print them out on muslin I tea dyed.  I surrounded them with a Judy Rothermel/Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum "Tumbling Blocks" cheater print I had purchased in the early days of gathering my CWR stash.  Originally I had planned to use the fabric as a backing and fortunately I still have enough of it that it might still be used to back a CWR cot quilt I plan to make.  The pictures below it are ones I took of the Frederick Douglass traffic circle here in New York.  There are "quilt code" blocks set into the pavement and the fencing around the circle, most of which are also in the UGRR side of my wall hanging (which can be seen here).

Now back to Gift #3 (the first started and last one to be finished!) for my friend so I can clear my table and finally move on to a big project I've been putting off for way too long.

Friday, February 7, 2014

And Now For the Word of The Year......

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.

---American Patchwork and Quilting Magazine, April 2002, page 53
I fear the venture into the unknown.
But that is part of the act of creating and the art of performing.
---Martha Graham, dancer
All that is necessary to break the spell of inertia and frustration is this:
Act as if it were impossible to fail.
---Dorothea Brande, writer
 My goal for the reader of (my book) is for you to listen to that little voice that says, “I could do that,” and go with it.  No matter what your insecurities say, do it anyway and ignore the fear….What is the real secret to winning quilting awards?  Being fearless when you are scared out of your mind.
---Karen McTavish from the book “Quilting For Show”
 (On-Word Bound Books; 2007)
And a reminder that is posted in my "studio" and is always at the bottom of my blog:
Click on the picture to read this if it's not clear)
(As Seen in Quiltposium magazine, Fall 2011)
Enough said!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Time to "Process" A Finish!

Here's a closer look at the baby quilt I made:

The pattern is "Go Baby!" from Quiltmaker's January/February 2013 issue.

Throughout the year, Quiltmaker took a block from one of the projects in each issue, supersized it and made a baby quilt pattern from it.  Go Baby! was made from a block in the Lavender Bouquet quilt by Linda Hahn.

The concept is similar to what Evelyn Sloppy did in her book "Sew One and You're Done:  Making A Quilt From A Single Block".  So if you can't get the QM back issues, you can get her book from Martingale or Amazon.  Even better, if you'd like to try just one of the patterns from her book, Martingale has most of them listed for sale as individual patterns.  Just click on the "E-patterns" tab on the book listing on their site.

I made this quilt as a gift for the new grandchild of  the President of our townhouse cluster's Tenant's Association.  Her daughter used to teach at the middle school my sons attended and I had served with her on the school's Leadership Team.   I thought a baby quilt would be an quickie project and for the most part it was but every project has its zigs and zags so this took a little longer to finish than expected.

Wanting to make this from stash I played with the color placement in Quilt-Pro a bit to make use of some things I already had in house:  a 3/8 yard remnant of the balls print and some coordinating solids pulled from a fat quarter bundle purchased three years ago when we had visited my MIL in North Carolina.  Still from stash, I added the plaid and the black and white kids print and thought I was fine.  Turned out I didn't have quite enough of the first B&W print so a second one was added for the center bars.

 What looked good in Quilt-Pro was a little underwhelming in person and my first thought was that it needed more red.  So I considered adding a red piped binding even though I had nothing suitable in stash for that so had to buy that fabric:

And then tried adding more of the balls print to the center:

And then finally both:

Ah, now that worked for me!  When it was pieced and ready to quilt, I knew I would simply stipple it but with what thread?  I pooled a number of colors on the top but truthfully, the only thing I liked with it was a "Red" Connecting Threads Essentials spool that I hoped wasn't going to be TOO much red!  For once I was able to do the stitching itself just fine but had a lot of problems with the thread constantly breaking.  I tried a number of things to correct it (changing feet, thread tension and needles) but eventually found that I was just moving my hands way too fast.  Once I slowed down so did the breakage issues (reduced but not completely eliminated!).  Eventually I got it all done although my one disappointment is that the stippling is not as even as I would have liked.  I started out with the intention of doing it really large but as I moved around the quilt, it got fairly close which I believe reflected the tension I was feeling about all the thread breakage.

With the quilting finished I could prepare the binding and attach it.  I learned this "piped binding" method from Debra Henning's Triangulations Bed Quilt book and first used it back in 2009 when I finished my basket quilt.  Recently, I found a great tutorial of the technique on the web done by Trisha at her TLC Stitches blog.  My only issue is that the piping fabric I got is flannel so I should have cut the binding bigger to accommodate the extra bulkiness.  However, I love that this method also allows for a completely machine applied binding which for me is standard practice anyway!

In the end I think it worked out pretty well.  I purchased the backing too and it was a fun blue flannel print which is a perfect complement to the piping fabric.   For the back, I used a blue Aurifil thread (also from stash) in the bobbin although I used "Invisible" monofilament thread in the bobbin when attaching the binding (something I also pretty much always do when doing a machine binding). 

So a fun little diversion!  I recently saw another baby quilt in the latest (March/April 2014) issue of Quiltmaker that I think could use up the rest of the solids scraps.  I may also use what I have leftover of the backing and piping fabrics to make one of Mary Johnson's Strippie Quilts.  I had wanted to make a couple of baby quilts last year to donate to Victoria's Findlay Wolfe's Bumblebeans Basics initiative to benefit "The Retreat", a shelter for victims of domestic violence.   Hopefully I can get a few other projects out of the way before she puts out her next call for quilts.  It would be great to have some already made up when that happens!

Monday, February 3, 2014

It's a Snow Day!

Like most, here in the city we're buried in this:

For me, it was a great day to check out the winning quilts from the recent "Road To California" quilt show here.  There are some really gorgeous works, truly the best of the best and something to aspire to.  To be especially admired is Fairy Ernest who at the age of 88 entered and won first place for "Wall - Traditional Applique" for a beautiful hand appliqued Pearl Pereira design (and those of you who are familiar with her patterns, know they are not for the faint of heart)  --- you go girl! 

I was also glad to see that many of the entries had been started two, three, even seven years before (the earliest was the "Best In Show" by multiple award winning quilter Sharon Schamber which she had started in 2000).  This went perfectly with Lori's latest post at "The Inbox Jaunt" on esablishing your priorites for your UFOs.  She had also done a previous post on "what our UFO's say about us" and I took some time to add my answers to today's post and firm up my "To Do" list.

Lori's post was about establishing your "Top 3" projects.  After that it was time to play catch up on mine by:
  • Fix things up in a couple of spots and add the label on this gift (it's already been quilted and bound since this picture was taken):

  •  Attach the last strips for the January panel of my calendar quilt and start the February panel (this one is being done quilt-as-you-go):

BTW, if you don't know what a Calendar Quilt is then check out some that were finished or in progress when quilters hosted a challenge back in 2009.  You can get the instructions for making them in the book "Pat Sloan's Favorite Techniques" which can be purchased here or here.
  • I also need to prepare to get back to quilting this gift:

I hope to (no, will have to) do detail posts on all of these.  Hope you are in and warm, toasty and busy where ever you are!