Monday, June 10, 2024

Bramble Blooms II Background

I've been working on the second in a series Bramble Blooms quilt (BBII), beginning with the background. The first prompt is to make a different style centerpiece, focusing on a pieced look rather than applique, and to choose one of the pieced elements of our first Bramble Blooms quilt (BBI). The suggestion was corner blocks from the first quilt's border.
Unfortunately, I only have one of those left (and some other random bits) due to the fact that I created them from a vintage skirt and all those particular bits have been used up. But the idea in making them was to string-piece them from the skirt, so I borrowed that idea and began string-piecing my centerpiece.
I did use a one-inch strip of red fabric from the skirt as the center string in each 6.5-inch string-pieced block. The rest of the strings were scavenged from light value scraps in the stash. Pieced on phone book pages, per my usual M.O. I ended up with this. I'd have liked to maybe have it one row longer (hence rectangular vs. square), but that seemed to throw off the overall design. So this is what it is, and I'm okay with it for now.
I could perhaps add a top and bottom border to push it toward rectangular. I have a couple of random pieces left from BBII that I tossed up on the design wall to better visualize the possibility (not pictured). But I think I'll wait and see what the next prompt brings, in case there may be a different/better use for those remaining pieces. I can decide then.

Are you working on a second Bramble Blooms quilt?  


Saturday, April 20, 2024

Thought I Might be Done

But wait, there's more.

I'm talking about my Bramble Blooms quilt, although you may have thought I meant something else, such as the status of my blogging these days (to be honest, I’ve wondered that as well).

After a couple-month hiatus, I have been working on the Bramble Blooms quilt once again.  I had put it aside in the beginning of the year while I did other things.  Among them, scanning some very old photographs, which led to an interesting connection on Ancestry and a happy little genealogical bunny trail.  Then moved on to giving the upstairs bathroom a facelift (fresh paint, new lighting, fixtures, mirror, and decor).  My talented and creative sister-in-law helped immensely with the bathroom redo.  It's always fun to work with her. 

Anyway, here was my Bramble Blooms quilt as of last November.  You may recall I had deconstructed a vintage Seminole skirt to use in the poppies.  The red fabric's faded streaks, due to age and a soaking gone wrong, became features of the petals.

While I waited for the next clue in the QAL, I continued to deconstruct the skirt, removing more rick-rack and cutting out the strips that weren't too badly stained.  You can see those here on the back of the chair.  The ones on the seat went into the discard pile.

The rest I sewed back together in a different striped configuration and then sub-cut those into squares, which then became colorful pinwheels.

Audrey's next clue mentioned borders with more applique and X-blocks in the corners.  I decided to use my pinwheel blocks for the corners.  Close enough to an X, with a little imagination.

Here I was playing with border ideas.  I wanted to use the blue and yellow piece of Seminole patchwork from the skirt, so that's what you see hanging on the design wall, along with some other bits I pulled out of my stash to pick up on that blue color.  Kind of wildly geometric, but I liked where it seemed to be going.

(Trimming frayed threads from the vintage piecing; damage control after soak/wash)

As far as more applique in the borders, I considered birds or butterflies or more flower or leaf elements, but in the end none of them seemed right.  Meanwhile, while cleaning out a scrap bin, I found some pre-cut circles from a former project, which I threw on the design board as more or less placeholders for applique bits.

The more I thought about it, though, simple circles seemed the way to go.  Perhaps if I cut them from solids in colors that mirrored the colors in the pinwheel corners?  And then, to add a bit more interest and subtle detail to the poppy section, I took some of those gray border fabrics, cut more circles, and randomly popped them, wrong side up, in the central part of the quilt.

Here's how that turned out.  At this point, I thought I might be done!  But then there was another clue for the QAL:  Add 4- or 9- or whatever-number-patches as another border.

Really?!  I wasn't sure I wanted to do that.  I thought about just calling it good and letting that be that.  But I got over myself and eventually put up a few red squares on the design wall and let it marinate for a week or so.  Ultimately, I consulted my resident advisor (aka my husband) for his opinion and he said he liked it and to give it a try.  Okay, I thought, worst case scenario, I could take it off if I didn't like it.

So I went and fished the skirt remnants out of the garbage can (no kidding), and made a bunch of red and white squares from that, as well as from the other darker red stash fabric that I had used in the poppies.

I sewed those into four patches, then end to end for borders—and, what do you know, I liked it!

So this is where my Bramble Blooms quilt is now.  It feels interesting and fun and playful.  I'm happy I utilized more of the skirt; it was such a great piece, despite my attempt to clean it that went a bit sideways.  And I’m glad to have pushed on whenever I stalled or thought it was good enough as is, and that I tried something I was perhaps not initially on board with, trusted the process, yada yada.  

You really can learn a lot from a quilt-along! ;)



Thursday, December 14, 2023

Part Two as Promised

After the summer whooping crane sightings, we visited the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin to learn more about these fascinating birds and ongoing conservation work on their behalf. 

It was really a neat place where you can stroll the grounds and see cranes of all kinds up close and learn as you go along. 

(Black-Crowned Crane)

(Siberian Crane)

(Wattled Crane)

I highly recommend it if you are ever in the south central Wisconsin area.

* * * * *

In the sewing room, there were a couple more small quilts in process.  I made this blue and green Piccadilly Circus quilt, following the YouTube tutorial by Jo's Country Junction.

As soon as I had posted pictures of the finished quilt on my Facebook page, a friend inquired about it for his new grandson.  So I didn't have it in my hands for long, but that was fun.  I may have to make another one sometime.

Another impromptu quilt came about when I decided to make a bunch of half-square triangles from a couple of brightly colored charm packs a friend gave me a year or so ago.

On the design wall, I initially put them up all going in one direction.  That was okay, but I kept playing.  I liked this better, so I sewed it up like that.

Now it's waiting to be quilted.

* * * * *

My friend Gwen, whom I've known from school days, is an accomplished artist now based in Minnesota.  She mainly does landscapes, but since 2020 has done a series featuring grazing cattle called "Another Point of Moo" with whimsical and often humorous titles.

One day I saw a funny picture online of a cow grazing under a wash line, where the clothes on the line looked like another cow suspended in midair.  I forwarded her the picture and, just for the fun of it, offered a "Point of Moo" type caption.  She got a kick out of it.

Fast forward a few months when she told me she would be sending me something.  This is what came in the mail!

She even put my caption on the back.  How cool is that!  I love it so much!

In return, I made her a piece of quilted art and sent it off.  She has painted crows as well as cows in her work, so I thought she might like this.

If it looks familiar, it's because I made something similar several years ago, which you can see in my blog header.  I recreated one like it for Gwen, which she loved.

* * * * *

More pictures from the summer:  My sister and her granddaughter Cali and I went to see the Rodin exhibit at The Paine in Oshkosh.  

It was amazing to be among some of the famous Rodin sculptures on the grounds of the beautiful Paine mansion and gardens.

And speaking of beautiful gardens, friends and I toured the labyrinth garden in West Bend on an equally gorgeous summer day.  

So many lovely flowers to see as you make your way along the 90-foot wide labyrinth path.  

It was peak season for the many lily varieties when we went.

Thanks for coming along on a short recap of some of the highlights of the past several months while I wasn't "here" on the blog.  It was fun to revisit them with you!


Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Pics or It'll Never Happen

The funny thing about not blogging regularly is that I still take pictures as though I were.  Maybe not as many, but I still do some kind of photo documentation on a regular basis.  

Then every so often (like this evening) I'll be looking through my photo archives and wonder why I couldn't get my act together and just write a blog post.  

(Table runner made for a friend)

When and if I ever figure that out, I'll let you know.  In the meantime, how about I share a few pictures from the past several months.

I love a good thrift shop fabric score, which will come as no surprise to many of you.  

One day, I bought a bag that I thought was fabric scraps and one completed quilt block in it that I could see.  It was sealed with tape so I couldn't inspect the rest of the contents, but I took a chance.  

Turns out it was a whole bag of orphan blocks!

I put them up on the design wall and left them there for a week or two while I mulled over whether (and how) I might put them together into one quilt. 

Ultimately, it just made my brain hurt so I nixed the idea (for the time being), and they all went back in the bag from whence they came and then into my own orphan block box.  But when I opened that box to put them in, some orphan squares of my own caught my eye and I pulled those out to play with.

I ended up making hourglass blocks out of those leftover squares and it turned into this baby quilt.

(Back of hourglass block baby quilt)
 So I guess the bag of orphan blocks was worth it insofar as getting me in the headspace to create something from (my own) orphans.

Here's something I left behind at the thrift store recently, but I had to take a picture.

This sewing machine reminded me of the one I learned to sew on.  My mom bought a second-hand machine for my sister and I to use.  I don't remember the brand, but it looked an awful lot like this one.  I really, really liked that machine.  This one was only marked $15, but goodness knows I don't need another vintage machine.  It sure was pretty, though!

This post is getting a little long (or I'm just getting tired), but I have more pics to share, so look for Part 2 soon.  I'll leave you with a couple non-sewing related photos from the summer. 

My husband I were biking along on a country road, blasting Led Zeppelin from a portable bluetooth speaker, when I noticed cranes in a field out of the corner of my eye.  Not just sandhill cranes but also a pair of whooping cranes!  

I quickly killed the music so as not to scare them away, and we got off our bikes to watch them for awhile.  How exciting!


Friday, November 17, 2023

Bramble Blooms QAL Progress

What better way to sneak back into the blog world than joining the Bramble Blooms quilt along at Quilty Folk?  When Audrey announced this improv quilt along, it seemed like a fun opportunity to learn from one of my favorite quilt artists and an applique maestro!

First, make a scrappy background.  Check.  

Then, because I found some leftovers from a recent project in the odds-and-ends and orphans box, I made a second one.  Options, you know.

A fabric pull was suggested, but I decided to forego that step and just flow wherever the piece takes me.  Yes, the old adage, "Failing to plan is planning to fail" did cross my mind.  I guess we'll see, but playing it loose appeals to me at the moment and opens things up for surprises (for better or worse).

The next step was to applique some flowers on the background.  I wasn't sure what I wanted to do as far as flowers, but inspiration struck one day as I started deconstructing a very old skirt.  

This lively looking, folksy skirt once belonged to an older friend (now passed) of my sister.  I'm thinking it was from the 1960s or so, and handmade.  During a closet clean-out a couple months ago, Sis was going to donate it, but I diverted it from the thrift store (I mean, look at that piecework!).  Unfortunately, in my zeal to soak out some stains in the skirt, a dark strip of navy blue bled quite badly.  Well, there was no rescuing it from that so I started taking it apart to salvage the rickrack for craft projects and with the thought of maybe making some quilted hearts (or something) from some of the piecework that was less impacted by bleeding.

As I cut off the skirt's waistband, I noticed all this interesting fading and color shifting in that area, which reminded me of poppy petals.  Poppies!  Maybe I could applique poppies on my Bramble Blooms project! 

And so I did.  I perused the internet for images that could be translated to fabric poppies.  Ultimately, I settled on a coloring page image for its simplicity of form and then freehand cut some paper templates based on that.

Doesn't that old red fabric lend an interesting dimension?

I hand appliqued the stems and the flower bud, keeping in some of the wrinkles in the fabric of the bud as a nod to the gathered skirt it came from. 

Then I fused and zigzagged the leaves and the flower petals. 

A fun view of the back showing the combination of techniques.

What's next in the QAL is a mystery.  I'm excited!