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.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

IS FUNDRAISING JUST AN EXCUSE TO MAKE ANOTHER QUILT?

For the past two Novembers, I have joined my sister and one of her friends to form the Titular Titans, a team committed to participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, a three-day walk in support of breast cancer awareness and research.  


In addition to training to walk 20 miles a day for three days in a row (yes, that's right), we set a goal of raising at least $10,000 among the three of us.  A hefty goal, to be sure, but also a particular challenge due to the economy and to a controversial decision made by the organizers back in February. To help encourage donations (or perhaps as an excuse to make another quilt). I decided to make a quilt to be given to one of our supporters after the walk.  
 
 
I didn't want to make the easy choice and make a quilt with pink ribbon fabric (although there's nothing wrong that choice).  I had developed a fondness for Valori Wells' Wrenly line, so a while ago, I purchased a jelly roll of various fabrics from that line.  It had been hanging around my stash for a while, so I decided this was a good use of the fabric.


I found yardage of some of the fabrics in the roll to use for the back, but since the line has been around for a while, the pickings were somewhat slim.  Luckily, there were a number of fabrics that worked well with the colors and pattern.

I wanted to keep the pattern fairly simple, since I had a number of other projects I was working on (isn't that always the case?) and I wanted to be sure that I could finish it before the walk in mid-November.  And as usual, I wanted to do it as quilt-as-you-go so that it would actually get finished!

I sorted the 42 strips and found that the various colors could be divided evenly into sets of three strips.  Since I don't have room for a permanent design wall, I bought a large flannel-backed tablecloth at the dollar store and sewed a few rings on one end.  Then I hung a few small clear Command hooks on the French doors between our foyer and living room.  Once the doors are closed, I can hang the tablecloth on the hooks (which aren't noticeable) and I have a temporary design wall that can accommodate a fairly good-sized quilt.

I assembled the strips into the color sets and then prepared the back.  After determining what I'd need for the back, I found that I'd have enough fabric to include a few solid blocks with the strips to kind of break the monotony of strips alone. 



I went back to the design wall and worked out how I could place the blocks.  Since I'd already sewn the strips into color-coded strips, I decided to cut the already assembled strips and insert a block in each row.  It's surprising how much easier it has gotten for me to cut my work, although I do still feel a little anxiety.

Once I had the blocks and strips sewn together, I positioned the batting on the back and started sewing each color strip to the batting and back (sorry, I don't have any photos of this step).  I knew this wasn't going to be enough quilting for the whole quilt, but it does help hold everything together for the rest of the quilting.





After everything was assembled, I went back and added linear quilting using a multicolored thread.  I like how it turned out.




Our cat got attached to it while I was sewing the binding, but since she didn't make a contribution, she wasn't eligible to win the quilt.

I finished it before the walk and we were able to draw the winner's name at the finish line.  I hope it helps keep her warm during the sometimes chilly Bay Area winters.

Here's the finished product, front and back.

Quilt front
Quilt back



















And here we are at the finish line.  Only seven months before I start training for the next one, but I'll plan next fall's quilt a little earlier to avoid the rush (famous last words).






Saturday, December 29, 2012

THE CAT IS OUT OF THE BAG

Shortly after I apparently fell into a giant black hole in July, the event I'd been waiting for finally arrived in mid-August. My niece and new nephew-in-law got married in a beautiful ceremony at a winery in Northern California. (Congrats from your Aunt Consuela, kids.) That means I can now reveal the (as yet unfinished) quilt I was working on all summer. (Read more about the quilt design here.)


Their wedding colors were red and yellow (roses and sunflowers), so I opted to go with black and white fabrics for the front, as well as a few fabrics with dashes of red or yellow, or in some cases, both red and yellow. 


For the back, I selected a total of six floral fabrics (sunflower-esque), three in red with black and white, and three in yellow with black and white. (I must say, it's easier to find red fabrics than yellow these days.)

 



I also found two cute fabrics (one red and one yellow) to use for the sashing on each block.  I chose to go with solid black for the sashing between blocks, because I really didn't need any more pattern going on with all the prints in the blocks. (Thanks to my City Quilter classmates for assisting with sashing fabric selection.)
As anticipated, I did not finish the quilt in time for the wedding (in fact, I'm still working on it), so I took two of the extra back squares and assembled two blocks as pot holders (also known as hot pads in my family). I'd never made them before, but I bought some Insul-Bright and found it surprisingly easy to work with. I did have to pin the blocks together while I was sewing the strips, because the batting and Insul-Bright together moved around quite a bit more than just the batting on its own.

















I brought the finished portion of the quilt to the wedding to show the happy couple (no, not at the ceremony; at the brunch the next day). It was only 1/5 the length it will be when it's done, but I was pleased with how it looked and it gave them a good idea of what the pattern will be. The happy couple was pleased with what they saw, and they're unexpectedly happy to have hot pads that match their bedroom decor.


I have to admit that I've taken to working on it more sporadically, since I find my eyes need a break from black and white and red an yellow. I will finish it before their first anniversary, of that I'm sure.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

QUILT PROGRESS UPDATE

So, I've been busy lately (who hasn't been?), and haven't been making as much progress on the mystery gift quilt as I'd like. That said, here are the current counts:

Back squares cut (of 90) - 96 (I'll find a use for the extras) 
Batting squares cut (of 90) - 88
______________________
Blocks pieced (of 90) - 45 
Blocks assembled (of 90) - 45
Blocks finished with sashing (of 90) - 41 
______________________ 
Rows of blocks assembled (of 10) - 1 
Rows of blocks finished (of 10) - 0 
______________________ 
Rows attached together (of 10) - 0 
Rows attached & finished (of 10) - 0 
______________________ 
Binding attached - 0 
Binding finished - 0

More hand sewing of the sashing on row 1 is on tap for the bi-weekly "quilt night" at my friend's apartment tonight. A group of quilters worked on a project together last year and enjoyed each other's company so much that a handful of us (whoever is available) get together every two weeks or so to work on whatever hand work we have to do -- quilting, embroidery, or whatever. We bring cheese, crackers, cookies, wine, or whatever strikes our fancy to share. There are always intriguing projects to see and our conversations run the gamut from challenges with kids and family, to travel tips, current events, recipes, and even quilt topics. Yet another instance of a nurturing quilting community. I love me some quilt night!