Thursday, August 29, 2013

Block Busting

I've been busy making blocks this week for Alycia Quilts' Big Blowout Block Drive for Quilts of Valor.  Thanks to Kevin for the heads up on this block drive!

There are two blocks being collected, one a flag string block and the other a log cabin type block in blue and yellow (links to instructions).  They both went together fast and used a good amount of my overflowing strings and scraps, which made me happy.

Pretty soon, I had 25 done.

Check it out if you're inclined to make a few QOV blocks.  The drive goes on until October 30—and there are prizes!  :)

The flag string blocks are sewn to a foundation fabric.  Here's a tip that's helpful for when you sew a large piece of fabric to  one corner of the foundation.  To keep the two pieces of fabric from flapping apart, use a tiny dab of washable glue stick on the foundation fabric to keep them together.

I kept pushing the trimmings off to the right of the cutting mat as I made blocks (can't be bothered to be tidy when I'm on a productive streak).  This resulted in quite the pile.
Victoria of Bumble Beans had asked for Anvil blocks for her charity quilts, so I knocked out a few of those as well.  Some inspiration came right from that pile of trimmings.

The pink rose of made fabric with the dragonfly was something I had puttered around with in the spring and just pinned to the design board.  It was nice to be able to put it to use.

Next up will be quilting and binding the improv baby quilt, which will be a donation to Project Linus as part of the 100 Quilts for Kids Charity Quilt Drive at Swim Bike Quilt

Linking on Friday with:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Changed, Indeed

Well, holy cow.  If you haven't seen this already, it is worth your time.  And you might need the Kleenex box for the happy tears. I sure did.

Kristin Chenoweth was performing at the Hollywood Bowl and chose an audience member (as she typically does) to come on stage and sing with her.  Usually these things are funny and sometimes cringe-worthy.  It's totally unrehearsed.

Well, on this night, she picked Sarah Horn, a voice teacher.  You can read Sarah's account in her own words here.  Also, here's the recap via Huffington Post.

Here's the video.  If you want to see a little better close up and enjoy the looks on both their faces, here's a link to another one from a different source.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Improv Baby Quilt

I wanted to try improv curved piecing, something new to me, which looked interesting.  So I started by cutting 2.5 inch strips from a really bright yellow cotton valance someone had given me, which I'd washed and thrown in the scrap box.  Then I picked out a turquoise bit of scrap and cut that into strips as well.  I hadn't considered that yellow-turquoise color combination until I saw a quilt with similar colors and really liked it.  (I probably have said this before, but I love Pinterest!)

Since my yellow strips were about 10 inches long, I aimed for something 9.5-inch squarish, alternating the yellow and turquoise.  

The yellow scrap netted about four blocks, which I arranged in a way reminiscent of a Gee's Bend quilt.

Then I thought:  Now what? 

At that point, I did what I always do when I hit a wall.  I went to bed.

Got up on day two and started poking through the stash.  Found a fun little Michael Miller scrap that kinda-sorta worked, and made a narrow border.

Again:  Now what? 

Later in the day (and after a nap), I decided to carry on with more improv curved strip piecing.  It was pretty fun, after all.  Pulled a couple more things from the stash, drawing inspiration from that fun border print.  Gray?  Pink?  Sure, why not.

This time, I worked with longer strips, about 20 inches, which I then promptly chopped into five-inch bits and sewed back together in a row.  I was thinking this would be another border, sort of wonky piano key style.

Except I didn't love it.  So now what?  Eh, I think I'll sleep on it.

The next day, I made some more improv curved strip pieces but left them whole this time.  That seemed a better border idea—except they were too short.  Some deconstructing of the previously made row of five-inch pieces followed, which I then used to make the side pieces long enough and also used for corner sections in the border.

Now what?  Do I stop here and make it a wall hanging, or make it bigger, like baby quilt size?  Some of the scraps were running low, so there was that too.  Solution:  Go to bed.

Bright and early yesterday, I took stock of what scraps were left and determined that if I cut 5-1/4 inch strips of the remaining print and turquoise fabrics, I could eek out just enough for a pieced border.  That would bring it to baby quilt size.

And it worked!

This was a fun, creative exercise.  Not a particularly expeditious way to make a quilt, but it did have me trying a different technique and thinking about the improv piecing and design process.  I'll definitely do more like this again.

As for the baby quilt top, now what?  Keep it and finish it up, or donate it?  

You guessed it:  I need to sleep on that.

Edited to add:  To be donated!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Black and White

Finally, a finish!  That is a good feeling indeed.  The black and white quilt that I pieced over two years ago has been quilted and bound.

And I lived.

Seriously, the actual quilting is not my favorite part of making quilts, but this was kind of fun once I got into it.  Once I gave up the idea of quilting a perfect spiral, that is.

Shay reminded me that imperfect, scribbly style quilting is called "organic."  To which I responded that this quilt may be so organic it attracts flies!

But the spirals got better each time.  No buzzing was noted in the vicinity.

Having practiced all those circular motions, I moved on to the narrow stop border and did more circles.  Organically, don't you know.

My outer border was a wee bit ripply, I noted as I was basting it.  I fought the urge to remove and resew it and instead hoped it would quilt out.  A little meandering in that area seemed to do the trick. 

Then I went back to the frame borders in the interior and did a back and forth stitch.  I really like how that turned out.  After quilting down one side, I was in the zone and went on to finish them all in one sitting.

Finally, the little red patch.  I changed thread to red and quilted a little daisy with some pebbling (very organic, ahem) around the outside.

It took longer yesterday to hand bind the thing than anything.  I intended to machine bind it, but hand binding is sometimes what happens when you take too generous a seam.

After binding, it was time right away for pictures, since it was the perfect kind of overcast (plenty of light but no glaring sun).  Then the quilt was nap tested.  It passed.

You can see the quilting better from the back.  I had in mind a zen garden kind of thing, thus the straight lines, spirals, pebbles, etc.

The original plan was to quilt it somewhat differently, but after getting reacquainted with the quilt as I was pin basting it, an alternate idea took shape.

I don't have a clever name for this quilt, but I thought of this song.  To call a song a rag is one thing, but a quilt, well, no.  Anyway, both the song and the quilt make me happy!

Linking to:
August Finishes

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Random 8-14-13

I basted the black and white quilt over the weekend, but have been taking my time (read: procrastinating) on getting around to actually starting on the quilting.  It's the way I roll, folks.  I know this and deal. 

That means I do any number of other things instead, like become engrossed in a new-to-me TV series now available on Netflix—Ripper Street.  Matthew Macfadyen, anyone?  Yes, please!

I seriously heart this show.  Wish our cable lineup included BBC America so I don't have to wait a whole year for the second season to get to Netflix.

Last night, I pin-crastinated on Pinterest, beefing up my Hot in Here board rather nicely, I think.
Douglas Booth
I cannot wait until Romeo and Juliet hits theaters in October.  This fellow is worth the ticket price in eye candy.  And Hailee Steinfeld?  Well, I loved her in True Grit.

I should reread Romeo and Juliet before the movie, though, because when it comes to Shakespeare, I always wish there were subtitles.  I like to spend a little time with the language, you know?  Although it's not like I don't remember how the story ends.

Speaking of which, I turn on the subtitles to watch Ripper Street because I don't want to miss any of the dialog.  The writing for that show is topnotch.

So I finally started quilting the black and white quilt today, doing some ditch quilting around the black frames.  Straight-line ditch quilting in black thread on black fabric means there is really nothing to show at this point.  I have an idea to quilt the centers of the frames in spirals, which is different than the original plan, but I think it will be cool, if I can get the hang of it.  I did one on a practice pad, but when I went to quilt the first one on the quilt, it was a spectacular disappointment.  That has been unpicked and I've stepped away from the quilt to allow my frustration to dissipate.  I'll be back for another go at it tomorrow.

Finally, the gardens are producing and I've been blessed this week with tomatoes, kohlrabi, cucumbers, green peppers, and zucchini.   I did the healthy, responsible eating thing with most of the big yellow zucchini I was given, but what I really craved was my old favorite, chocolate chip zucchini cake.  Went Googling for a gluten-free version and found this recipe, which I made immediately, adding one egg and decreasing the sugar by half (it was still plenty sweet).

In a word:  Awesome!! 

Digging this new song by Amos Lee.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Redo is Done

I finished reassembling the quilt top I was remaking.  Whee!

Doesn't she look pretty dancing in the breeze?  Footloose and fancy free!  (I'm going to have to Google the origin of that phrase, word nerd that I am...)

I am so happy that I went ahead with redoing my grandmother's quilt top rather than stuffing it back in the tote.  If you missed the other posts about this quilt top, including block by block comparisons, you can find them here, here, here, here, and here.

The four-lily block in Grandma's quilt was the inspiration for the Thoroughly Modern Lily quilt pattern.

Here's the original quilt top, made by my grandmother in the late 1960s or early 1970s:

And the updated version:

Another before and after comparison:


The original quilt top would not have withstood quilting or use in its condition.  There was some bleeding of the green fabric dye into the white parts, and other problems with most of the solid colored parts of the old quilt.  However, all the prints used in the lily shapes within the blocks were in good condition.  The vintage fabrics were like a little time capsule.

I took each block apart and rebuilt it, using stash or scrap fabric in place of the solid colored cross pieces.

Grandma had used a lot of red, in seven of the block centers, which I replaced with various other colors instead.  I put some of the red back in via the cornerstones in the sashing.

The multicolored sashing/border print seems to tie it all together.

Special thanks to Quilt Diva Julie for the inspiration and encouragement.  Her remake of "Shirley's Journey" got me thinking of the possibilities.  Also thanks to Elizabeth for sending me a bit from her stash to finish the last block.  Quilting friends rock!

Now it's time to whoop it up with Sarah and the gang at Confessions of a Fabric Addict!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Last Two

The last two blocks from my grandma's vintage quilt top have now been redone.  Again, the "before" is above the "after" photo.
Elizabeth sent me a scrap from her stash of this apple green dot fabric (below), and it was perfect.  Thanks, E.!
I just need to add the last 4 strips and I'll have the top reassembled.  Here is a glimpse of the sashing/border fabric.  Fun, huh?  Somehow, it seems to tie all the disparate blocks together.  At least, to me it does.

It reminded me of the artwork of Piet Mondrian when I saw it.  But as I worked with it more today, I realized I could have been channeling something else I'd been reminded of recently, during the 50 Years of Freedom Machines gathering I attended a couple weekends ago.

Did you know John Deere, in 1969, made lawn and garden tractors in other colors?  They were known as the custom color line, or patio series. Perhaps not so ironically, that's about the time grandma was making this quilt I'm redoing.

This is the stuff I grew up around.  Dad worked for Deere in the sales department, parts department, and as a supervisor.  He brought home miniature toy versions of these tractors for us kids to play with back in the day.  I loved them!  Unfortunately, Barbie didn't really fit on it, but we imagined she did as we drove her around with her long rubbery legs angled up over the hood.

Unfortunately, the custom colors didn't last long before it was back to trademark JD yellow and green.  If you've got one of these, or one of the toys, you've got a collectible on your hands.

On a base of Dogwood White, the patio tractors came in Sunset Orange, Spruce Blue, April Yellow, and Patio Red.  Reading these old ads, they were obviously marketed toward "the ladies."  I guess whatever it took to get your wife to mow the lawn!  "Freedom Machines" indeed! 
I can't help but imagine the "Mad Men" of advertising coming up with this campaign.

Seriously, though, 50 Years of Freedom Machines was quite an event.   Since Dad was one of a handful of salesmen to introduce the first JD lawn and garden tractor to dealerships across the country (he had the Ohio region), he spoke at a special retiree session about his experience (on the far right below).  Interesting stuff!
JD Retiree Sessions - 50 Years Celebration
They made only 1,000 Model 110 tractors in 1963, the first year of production.  At the 50th celebration, there were just shy of 200 of those tractors on display from all over the country.  That's almost twenty percent.  Phenomenal.

Back with quilt talk and a finished top soon!