Sunday, March 25, 2018

My Scrappy Spring Garden (Project QUILTING - Season 9, Challenge 6)

The sixth and final challenge for Season 9 of Project QUILTING was "Scraptastic." I logged on to the Project QUILTING site from the hair salon on Sunday afternoon after the theme was announced.  I started planning my project while my color was processing. (I find that letting my mind wander while at the salon is relaxing and, as in this case, helpful.)

With plans to be out of town for four days last week, I knew I'd have to plan a project that could be finished with only a few days at the machine. The challenge required that we use at least twelve fabrics in our finished piece, so I had to take that into account, too.

I have a half-square triangle pattern that I've made several times and really like (see below). One of the smaller quilts has been hanging in our bedroom for a while and I'd been thinking that I might want to make a new wall hanging for the spring.






With the warmer weather, flowers were starting to poke their heads up through the ground--crocuses, bleeding hearts, bluebells--even the forsythia looked like they were ready to make an entrance. An idea popped into my head that I could choose a few colors to represent spring flowers--pink, yellow, orange, white, purple--and make scrappy HSTs with this pattern. In my mind, the quilt would represent my favorite spring flowers: lily of the valley, lilacs, and peonies, as well as the flowers that grace our yard early in the season: crocuses, forsythia, and bluebells.

On Sunday night, I put together eight squares with six different fabrics each, two squares of yellow, two purple, two yellow, one white, and one pink. The friend we were visiting is also a quilter, so I thought I might be able to pick up background fabric if (when) a trip to the fabric store was planned.


Happily, I did make a trip to Stitchcraft in Boca Raton, FL, and I found some lovely green fabrics for the background and binding. My friend and I planned a sewing session on Friday morning, and I was able to smash out all of the HSTs and lay out the top. Thanks to input (and some extra fabric from Chris), I was also able to create a few more scrappy HSTs in pink and white to fine tune the design, and assemble the top (without borders).


The view in Chris' sewing studio is far more attractive than that in my windowless basement sewing area in Brooklyn!


When I got home, I spent all day on Saturday adding borders and getting ready for quilting. Since I prefer to baste with thread, it's always a challenge to find empty floor space in our apartment. Happily, there's JUST enough space in the kitchen for a quilt this size.


I much prefer piecing to quilting (and I didn't have much time to be too creative with the quilting anyway), so I opted for straight line quilting with a variegated green thread.


I finished it off with a binding in fabric that reminds me of grass, finishing up the hand sewing on the binding as I watched this morning's episode of CBS Sunday Morning.

I call my finished piece, My Scrappy Spring Garden. Once I get the hanging sleeve attached, it will hang in our bedroom to welcome the spring flowers inside as well as out. I used a total of 64 fabrics (including the background, backing, and binding), so I more than met the requirement to use twelve fabrics. All of the "flower" fabrics came from the scrap bins of my friend and me.

My Scrappy Spring Garden
38.5" x 38.5"
Various cotton fabrics with cotton batting and thread


Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Stitch in...Time's Up (Project QUILTING - Season 9, Challenge 5)

The theme for this week's Project QUILTING challenge was "A stitch in time saves nine." I spent a good part of the week trying to come up with a project that wouldn't bee too literal (one stitch holding the number nine on a clock) or too forced (the number nine hanging from a thread and being dropped into a piggy bank). I wasn't having luck coming up with anything until I was inspired by the challenge on this week's Project Runway All Stars.

The contestants on PR were tasked with creating a red carpet look using their signature technique. One of the contestants used pintucks. I've enjoyed working with pintucks in the past, so I decided to take my inspiration from the inspiration for Project QUILTING and do something that would involve pintucks and nine colors of threads manipulating the tucks.

I chose a black and white Japanese print that I thought would have some interest when pintucked and would accommodate an interesting design for quilting/manipulating the tucks. I started the pintucks and chose a selection of nine thread colors for the quilting.



After I finished the pintucking, I assembled my quilt sandwich and tried a pattern with the quilting. I didn't like it, so I broke out the seam ripper and took it all out. I thought a bit and tried a new pattern. It didn't work for me either, so the seam ripper came out again. 



After four or five failed tries, I ceded defeat and decided to try a different design for my project. 

Sadly, it was Saturday afternoon with the Sunday deadline looming and I still didn't have a good idea. I ran the theme through my brain over and over, trying to land on something that would work, but wouldn't require me to stay up all night.

As I started to realize that I might not be able to come up with something in time, my mind landed on "Time's Up." Not only did that reflect what I was facing creatively, it has also been a timely message this year. Things started to fall together and I decided to make a nine-patch of neutral squares onto which I would stitch the letters spelling out Time's Up (seven letters + one apostrophe + one space = nine).

I cut squares from nine different low volume white, cream, and gray fabrics and sewed them together with a red border. I chose a simple grid pattern for the quilting, thinking that it wouldn't distract from the letters.


I printed out the letters in a bold Times Roman font and used my BritePad light board to trace the letters onto freezer paper.


I used a ruler to help evenly position the letters and ironed them in place, then stitched around the letters in black thread. (Sorry, I forgot to snap a picture of the stitching.)


I had to take Tim Gunn's famous advice to "make it work" this week, but I'm pleased with the way my piece turned out, and I got the nine-patch stitched just in time to save myself from missing the deadline.

11.5" x 11.5"
A Stitch in...Time's Up
11.5" x 11.5"
Various cotton fabrics with cotton batting and thread

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Keeping Pace with Dad (Project QUILTING - Season 9, Challenge 4)

When I first heard that the theme for this week's Project QUILTING challenge was Mellow Yellow, I thought of our AMC Pacer, which my father purchased in the mid-1970s. He was so pleased with the car (it may have been his first new car) that he parked it on the front lawn and took pictures of it from a number of angles to show off its radical new design (which many considered less than attractive). He told us with relish that this fabulous new vehicle was not yellow or gold, but Mellow Yellow.

I considered making a quilt with a Pacer on it, but when I couldn't find an image that I thought showed a flattering angle, I opted instead to make a quilt using yellow fabric that brought to mind the silky polyester shirts my dad used to wear with his mod polyester leisure suits. Although his shirts were green or gray prints to match his dark green and navy blue suits, I chose a bright yellow paisley print to echo our Mellow Yellow Pacer.

I started out by embellishing a strip of the yellow paisley print with some embroidery.


Then I sewed the strip diagonally to a solid yellow square.


I wanted to create a checkerboard surrounding to the strip using 3/4" pieces of black on black and black & white fabrics. Because I planned to sew on the pieces with visible stitching, I decided to use that stitching as my quilting. I put together my quilt sandwich and started pinning and sewing the pieces into place.


After sewing all of the pieces into place with stitching parallel to the strip, I added more quilting perpendicular to the strip.


Of course, with all of the raw edges on the 3/4" squares, I had a lot of random threads all over the top. I waited until I had the quilt bound before I took time to remove all of the strays.


I'm pleased with how it turned out (it's about 13 inches square). It probably won't say "Pacer!" to many people, but it's a reminder to me of how proud my dad was when he brought our mellow yellow Pacer home.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The call of the quilt

Every now and then, a good friend of mine kindly host a group of quilters for an afternoon or evening of hand sewing (or embroidery or knitting/crochet).  We try to get together every few weeks, as everyone's schedule allows.  Five of us braved the rain yesterday to gather and chat about things quilting and not, while we sewed and munched on snacks (there are always delicious snacks!).  It's always a pleasure to get together and make quilting more of a group activity.  We're a varied bunch and there's always something interesting to talk about.

Our hostess is working on a beautiful anniversary quilt for her parents, another friend smashed out a couple of crocheted preemie hats, there was appliqueing aplenty, and I stitched away on the sashing for the black/white/red/yellow quilt for my niece and her husband.  I've finished and attached seven of the ten rows and am at a temporary stand-still while I await the arrival of more black Michael Miller Cotton Couture.  I guess I didn't do such a great job of estimating how much I'd need for all that shashing!





A little after noon today, I received a call from yesterday's hostess who was having a quilting emergency and needed a sympathetic ear.  After chatting for a while, I sensed that she could probably use a little company, so I offered to stop by and lend a hand.  She accepted my offer and I headed over to provide what little aid I could.  

We spent a few hours working on her quilt, then swung by City Quilter to pick up some supplies.  The staff there never seem to judge one for getting the wrong size batting or forgetting to buy thread (I am often guilty of that one), and they're always willing to offer guidance or an opinion to help resolve an issue.  No one rolled their eyes or tsk-tsked when I confessed I hadn't bought enough black fabric to finish my quilt.  (Sadly, they were out of what I needed.  Oh, the horror!)

So, while I wait patiently for my fabric shipment, I've started planning a quilt for my sister's charity walk in the fall.  I'm going for a variation on a rainbow strip-and-flip.  I haven't seen anything exactly like what I want to do, so I hope it turns out.




And, of course I still have to work on my quilt for the Quilt Alliance contest, and the baby quilt for the guild, and those other two or three (or four or five) quilts awaiting my attention.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Am I working on too many projects?

I realize that I've already failed to meet my commitment to post weekly, and I also realize that I may have spread myself a little too thin with commitments (so what else is new?).  Here's what I've been working on lately and what I've gotten done (mostly two weeks ago).

I've made more progress on my niece's black/white/red/yellow quilt.  After getting the layout set a few weeks ago, I've assembled four more rows (for a total of seven out of ten) and I've fully attached one more row (for a total of four out of ten).  My niece and her husband were here for a visit last weekend, so I was able to show them where it stands.  They seemed pleased, but of course I did nothing on it while they were here.  We spent too much time walking around the city and eating at our favorite restaurants.


Now that they've left, I'm trying to keep things moving by doing some hand stitching on the assembled rows each evening (some nights more successfully than others).



The theme for the Quilt Alliance's 2014 quilt contest, exhibition, and auction is Inspired By.  I used a Storm at Sea quilt from the Wyoming Quilt Project as my inspiration, but on a smaller scale to fit the 14"x14" requirements of the contest.  I finished the the first four pieces for my quilt-let two weeks ago.




For our February guild meeting, we asked our members to make as many 6-1/2" green and/or yellow blocks for a baby quilt as they liked.  It turns out that we received enough blocks for two quilts.  Two of us (both, coincidentally, named Andrea) agreed to take half of the blocks and design a quilt.  Despite telling our president that with everything I'm working on I most certainly would not have the top done for our meeting in April, I couldn't let the blocks sit unattended.  Two weeks ago, I added the borders to my quilt top and plan to incorporate the three extra blocks at the bottom into a pieced back. Luckily, the quilt isn't due until the fall, so I have plenty of time to finish it (famous last words!).



And, I made some progress on a mystery project that I need to finish by next weekend.  I've tried two versions of the border and still am not happy with it.  Perhaps I'll find some inspiration this weekend so that I can move on to piecing the back. 

Of course, this means that two projects that have been waiting patiently for some attention will have to wait a little bit longer.  Seriously...how did I get to a point where I have so many projects going at once?


And so, I'm off to start sewing to try to get something finished!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

There's black thread at the end of the tunnel

The layout is complete!  I spent a good portion of my class at City Quilter last night laying out all of the blocks for the quilt for my niece and her husband.  And another portion of the class moving the blocks around to avoid having similar fabrics too close together!  This is just one of those quilts that you could spend days moving the blocks around and I'm probably the only one who would ever notice that two adjacent blocks have a strip of the same fabric.

So, here's the layout I've settled on.


My teacher noted how the sashing between the blocks seems to calm the chaos of all those prints. Now I just have to get the sashing between all the rest of the crazy blocks.  I see a lot of black thread in my future!  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Recommitting to my blog

Y'all may have noticed that I haven't had a new post for over a year.  Yeah...I think I was writing too much in each post (not a bad thing) and that took a lot of time.  As a result, I kept procrastinating, waiting to have time to create what I thought was an "adequate" post.

That was clearly ineffective, so I'm recommitting to my blog, and I plan to post updates at least once a week, focusing on quick posts about what I've been working on.

This weekend, my goal was to finish the remaining blocks for the quilt I've been making as a wedding gift for my niece and her husband.  You may recall that I started the quilt way back in 2012 (A Post About Something I Can't Discuss).  Well, I didn't get it finished before their wedding in August of 2012 (The Cat Is Out of the Bag), and I didn't have it finished in time for their first anniversary in 2013, which made me feel pretty pathetic.  So, I signed up for a quilt-as-you-go class at City Quilter, fully intending to use the time to work on the wedding quilt instead of the quilt that was being taught.  (Luckily, the one being taught is similar to a quilt I made for another QAYG class, so I don't feel like I'm missing too much.)

Well, I met my weekend goal.  Here are all of the 90 blocks for the quilt.  The first three rows of the quilt (assembled and lying flat in the photo) contain 27 blocks, so the two stacks have the other 63--yellow blocks on the left, red blocks on the right.





There's one more class on Tuesday night, so I'll use that time to get the blocks up on CQ's design wall to finalize the layout.  Then it's just a matter of getting the blocks sewn together, sashed, and bound!

After I finished all the wedding quilt blocks, I decided to take a break from black and white with a few soft colors.  

A few of my guild friends convinced me to join a quilting bee this year.  I'd always feared that participating in a bee would be a huge time commitment, since you're committing to make a block or two each month for whoever is the queen bee.  Happily (and just as Jody promised), it didn't take much time at all to put together the two blocks Mandy requested for March.  She provided a few fabrics, but encouraged us to add some of our own, as long as they stayed with her selected palette.  I added blue gingham, gray and white chevron, pink gingham, green batik, gray floral, blue geometric print, pink and white floral, and blue and white floral.  I hope Mandy likes them.


  
That's it for this weekend.  Stay tuned for (more frequent) updates...because despite the lack of recent blogging evidence, I really can't quit quilting.