Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Next Batch

I've been having a good time remaking more vintage blocks this past week.  I love piecing.  Maybe I'm not so much a quilter as I am a piecer.

Whatever.  This is what I have to show for it.

They are paired with the "before" as the top photo and the "after" right below it.

Just two more to go and I'll have them all redone! 

I was going to add to the group with a few more of my own, but on second thought, I'll stick with the original 12.  

I have been pondering how in the world to tie them all together, but I happened upon some fabric the other day that just may work as a sashing. Fingers crossed.

Crazy honkin' strawberry print, huh?  It's some kind of heavy duty cotton-poly (mostly poly) blend.  I can imagine some young miss with a pair of shortalls made from this that chafed like the dickens (pardon me while I interject my own jaded memories of synthetics).  

The dark blue floral print up at the very top is rayon (this quilt is going to need a "no smoking in bed" warning on the label). The balance seem to be straight up bandana prints.

The next project for me will be finishing an oldie but a goodie—a black and white quilt top that's a couple years old.  The thought of quilting it has always made me want hide under the covers.  I didn't want to wreck it.  You know that feeling?  Even after a friend came up with a wonderful plan for the quilting that seemed entirely doable, it still sat around unfinished.

Well, heck.  A couple years is plenty long enough to be a UFO.  I must have learned a few things in that amount of time (aside from the fact I am an excellent procrastinator).  It's time to move past the angst about quilting it and forge ahead.

Or at least baste it, for starters.  Sometimes "forging ahead" looks more like baby steps.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Oh, the Paine

One of the day trips we planned for this summer was to visit the Dale Chihuly Venetians exhibit at the Paine Art Center and Gardens in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  We went there last Saturday, and it was exquisite!

And here is where I wish I had stunningly beautiful photos of the Chihuly Venetians on display, but on arrival we were advised that no indoor photography was allowed.

In a word:  Bummer.

There was camera surveillance and official looking people roaming the gallery, so it's not like I could even sneak one (not that I would have...okay, maybe).  But come on, no photos?  Ugh.  And did I mention bummer?

So this middle-aged gal, who can barely remember what she had for dinner last night, was forced to stare intently at as many exhibits as I could to try to burn them into memory.  Because who knows when, if ever, I will see them again, right?  Unfortunately, that does you no good, dear blog reader, so here is a representative sample.

This image is from the website of the George R. Stroemple Collection, of which part is on display at the Paine.  You can follow that link if you'd like to see more, although I didn't recognize any of them as being the exact ones I saw in Oshkosh.  There must be a ton more; either that, or my memory is worse than I thought.

In the center of the gallery were Chihuly's Laguna Murano chandeliers, also a part of the Stroemple collection.  Simply breathtaking to see up close (and they were arranged more dramatically than depicted here).

All bellyaching aside about the restrictions (and I totally get the reasoning), it was a wonderful exhibit.  If you live near or are traveling through Wisconsin anytime this summer, consider a stop in Oshkosh to experience close up a fabulous Chihuly blown glass collection.

And the Paine is a marvelous place to visit in and of itself.  Outside (where you can take all the photos you want, of course), the gardens and grounds are a joy to explore.

The mansion was built by a lumber baron in the late 1920s to early 1930s.  In addition to the art galleries, the house serves as a museum.  I see something new every time I go (and that's been at least a half dozen times through the years).  I love the place.

Through the lens of the Garden Kaleidoscope (above).
And love was definitely in the air, as there were two weddings taking place on the grounds on Saturday.  We sort of felt like wedding crashers, but since the gardens stay open to the public, we did our looky-loo thing while they did theirs, and just tried to avoid bombing the wedding photography.

Oshkosh Public Museum
Kitty-corner across the street is the Oshkosh Public Museum, and we also ventured over to check out the steampunk exhibit.
Norm is into the steampunk thing.  Me, not so much, although it's cool to see the unique contraptions and costumes.

We toured the entire museum, which is laid out very well with interesting interactive displays throughout.

Had to get a picture of this Victorian table made of spools!

How about you?  What floats your boat as a summer day trip?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More Before and Afters

The remaking of blocks from my grandma's quilt top continues, and I am enjoying the process, surprisingly, more than I thought I would.  It is very relaxing to take the pieces apart, and satisfying to re-stitch them together as well.

There were two of this particular block with red centers.  Funky orange and pink flowers with cobalt leaves on a drab olive-brown background?  Makes you wonder what they were smoking, those fabric designers back then, doesn't it?  Luckily, I've got a soft spot for fugly fabric, so it's all good.

Before (1 of 2 identical)
I hadn't considered replacing the red with a blue center until the pieces were in the sink along with parts from another block (see above).  But that looked good together, so I remade one with a blue center from scraps left from a FQ.
After #1
And the second was remade with a pink dot, as was the initial plan.
After #2

Here's the blue print block before and after:
I thought this would be more of a "now and then" type of thing to work on, but with no other major sewing plans at the moment, and having found this endeavor quite pleasant, on we go!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Deconstruction and Reconstruction

We are having a new roof put on this week, and as I write this, there is the noise of air compressors and general thumping and pounding above me.  They're finishing up the final bit this morning, as there is a chance of thunderstorms today.
This was an attempt to take a clever photo of the workmen on the roof, which I could see in shadow as I did dishes in the kitchen and looked out onto the backyard.  It was fun to watch them move around on the rooftop in silhouette, though it may have lost something in the photo translation. 

Indoors, there has been another kind of tear-down and rebuilding going on. 

You may remember my grandma's quilt top, which was the inspiration for my Thoroughly Modern Lily quilt pattern. 

Instead of folding and putting away the old quilt top, which lay crumpled on a chair in the sewing room, I got a whim to cut it apart and see if I could remake it.

Before you gasp in horror, let me just say that as beautiful as this quilt top is, a good portion of the fabrics would never stand up to quilting or use.  Basically, all the solid colors need to be replaced, including the white background, sashing, and the cross-pieces in each block.  There were some other issues as well, a tuck here, a gap there, etc.

I carefully took apart one block, stitch by stitch.  I threw away the solid colored pieces and swished what remained in a sink of warm water and a little quilt soap, rinsed, then rolled in a towel to blot.  Then I pressed the pieces the rest of the way dry with the iron.  There's definitely some synthetic in this checked print; I could smell it when I pressed it.

I re-cut the pieces using the templates from the Thoroughly Modern Lily quilt pattern.  Grandma's pieces were just a smidgeon bigger than the templates, so it worked out nicely.

Redone block number one!

And here is a second one, before and after:

That "groovy" brown print fabric is my favorite.  Upon taking it apart, I could tell it was a mostly polyester, blouse type fabric, definitely not 100% cotton.  But it seemed to handle okay, and reassembly was without incident.

My intention would be to honor the general color scheme of the original quilt, though perhaps not put quite as much red back into the block centers, maybe mix it up a little more there.  I may also add some blocks of my own to make the quilt a bit larger.  Also trying to work, as much as possible, with what is in my stash.

This will be a slow process, one that I work on now and then.  I think it'll be fun, though.

I'm joining the gals and guys linking today at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

For Better or Worse

The wall hanging of the English paper-pieced tumbling blocks is finished (and hanging on the wall in front of me/behind the computer monitor as I type).

Have you ever made something you know isn't exactly "right," whatever that is, but you finished it up anyway, for better or worse?

Yeah, this is one of those things.

I realized some things as I went along, but just carried on.  I'm okay with that because I know I'll look back in time, be it a month or five years from now, and know that I have learned since.  It's like a progress marker kind of thing.

Gee, and you just thought it was a wall hanging.  ;)

  • I enjoyed paper piecing these diamonds by hand.  It was a first for me, and I found it relaxing and a nice change of pace to do some "slow stitching."
  • I don't think I would have the patience to make a whole quilt that way, however.
  • I like applique.  Again, the hand stitching is relaxing.
  • As far as fabric choices, I probably picked the wrong print(s), the one with the parasols especially.  The illusion loses something because the eye is drawn to those big green eyeball-y things.  
  • The background is not quite right.  Too much of one color or value perhaps?  A solid may have been better.  I do like that batik though.
  • Snakeskin print binding rocks!
  • I see more illusion blocks/quilts in the future.
And so, you live and learn.

Straight-line quilting can be seen best from the back.  Keeping it simple.
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More music to make you wanna dance, this new one by Justin Timberlake, who seems to be channeling Michael Jackson.  I like it.