Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks

The new issue, Volume 16, is on the newsstands NOW!    I'm sure you want to rush out and look for it right away!

And when you find it, you know the drill -- turn to the appropriate page -- this time it's page 51.  Find my block.  Gasp, utter exclamations of awe!  Explain to passersby that you know the quilter who designed this particular fabulous block!  (It really is fabulous -- says so right on the cover!)

My block in this issue is called Step Right Up.  It is based on a design I found in my file, a sketch on graph paper that my son Sandy did when he was in school. 

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 16.
 The magazine is resting on a quilt that I made using my Step Right Up block

Sunday, November 5, 2017

There's so much more to a quilt than the fabric!

I was reminded again recently how much more there is to a quilt than just what we see!  The quilt I was working on was a simple one, made from ordinary fabrics and using a basic pattern -- just squares with denim sashing between them. 

But to the friend who received it there is more to this quilt.  The fabrics are from shirts that her husband used to wear, shirts she herself probably purchased for him, and that she can remember him wearing as he worked around the house or sat watching tv in the evenings.  She can see a pocket in which he kept his pen, and buttons he opened and closed many times.

She will keep the quilt beside her chair and cover herself with its warmth, and with the memories, each time she uses it.  And I will remember that a quilt does not need intricate piecing or exotic fabrics to make it valuable. 

Memory quilt made from shirts.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Clothesline art?

I hang laundry outside to dry whenever possible.  It seems wrong somehow to use electrical energy to do what the sun and wind will do cheaper and better! (And we certainly have both sun and wind a-plenty here!)  So from April to September when the sun falls on the side yard beside the house, I put the wash out on my umbrella dryer.

 My mother taught me to hang tops by the bottoms and bottoms by the top, to place pegs at seam lines, to hang "unmentionables" in behind the bigger stuff -- because what might people think!  (I wondered at that -- if people really looked critically at one another's laundry, would they start thinking that no one ever washed underwear?).

The other day my neighbour told me that her young son was watching me hang out clothes while he ate his breakfast.  His comment was that the end result was "beautiful"!

Now that I am aware of an art critic across the street,  I find myself paying attention to the composition of the finished product.  Have I balanced the colours?  Should the red shirts be together?   Will the long lines of the legs of the jeans look good beside the rectangles of the towels?  Should I put all the dish towels together so that they will dance when the breeze comes up?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Quilting in July

It is only mid-July, but it has already turned into a long, hot summer here.

This is today's view across the valley -- we actually can see across the valley today, as the smoke is a bit lighter that it has been.  No wildfires threatening the immediate area, but there are bad fires throughout the region, and a record number of people have been evacuated.

So what's a girl to do when the air is full of smoke?  First, make sure necessary items are easy to grab in case fires do happen close to home.  And then -- quilting!

I've been busy, but with projects that I can't show for one reason or another.

Yesterday I reached the borders on a project.  This one clearly needed mitred borders.  So I measured and pressed and measured  and stitched  -- and my mitre looks fine.

But I remembered why I usually avoid mitres at any cost.  Sure, I can do it, and it looks great, but now I need to do it again.  And again.  And again!!  And I did, and it turned out fine, but this is really not my favourite task.   

You may notice that the inner dark border has NOT been mitred.  I chose not to mitre that one due to the methods used for construction and quilting -- borders were added stitch-and-flip method after the main quilting was done -- and that dark border is only one quarter inch wide.  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A small finish

It is little, but it's done!
Three pinwheel blocks make a little wall-hanging.
I made the blocks one day to try out an idea and then I tucked them away and forgot about them.  When they showed up again I realized they were exactly what I needed.  The finished piece is only seven inches wide and less than twenty inches long.  It fits perfectly into an awkward spot above a set of shelves and it makes me smile every time I see it!

Something else that makes me happy is the new cover for my stash cupboard!  The bi-fold doors have been awkward -- hard to maneuver around when putting tubs of fabric on and off the shelves, not wanting to slide closed smoothly, not opening completely where the shelf beside them is too close.

These closet doors got in the way when I wanted to access fabrics in the corners of the shelves.
I finally realized the doors could be changed!  Off came the doors; up went a rod.  And now the stash is concealed behind a curtain.  The curtain is made from fabric that was brought home from travels by my son -- I think I raised that boy right!!

The curtain pulls open and closed easily. 
Does the curtain keep out all the dust and light?  No, it doesn't.  But a curtain that keeps out MOST of the dust and light is better than doors that kept it all out -- but only if they were closed.  The curtain is nearly always closed (so I can admire the elephants!), and the doors were usually open (because closing them was a nuisance).  So my stash has better protection than it did, and I'm happier!

Monday, March 6, 2017

On my wall

Last week I came across a bag of fabric samples, donated to the church prayer quilts ministry some years ago, never used.  Nice fabrics, but just pieces, rather than yardage, and in colours and patterns that were very definite -- not easy to combine with other fabrics (and believe me, we've tried!).

So I played a bit and designed a block that could make use of various sizes and wouldn't require any print to touch any other print.  As I cut the pieces I found I needed to piece some of the patches.

Here are a few blocks on the wall.  My first idea is that the white strips will be repeated between the blocks, so the white flannel wall lets me see how this might look.
That's not too bad.  This might work.

 I tried a few blocks against a green fabric.  That green is okay -- so this is a possibility, too.  

Only a few more blocks to put together, then the serious design play can begin!  Perhaps I might frame each block with a white strip, then sash with green?  Or frame half the blocks with white and half with green?  Or revert to original plan -- white strips between blocks and call it done?

I think this is why we keep quilting -- there are so many ways to do something, and really there are no wrong answers!  (And that collection of fabric is almost gone -- just a few small pieces left to go into the strip drawer!)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Fancy four-patches

A stack of 4-inch squares came to hand and the thought crossed my mind that I should USE them instead of simply shuffling them to another place.  Since the group is working on 4-patch projects right now, that seemed an obvious place to start.  What if I made big blocks out of them and set them all together with some kind of sashing?

Cursory play in Electric Quilt gave me a general layout 
and number of blocks to achieve a useful size.  
Looked simple enough!
Things got a bit complicated, however, when I began putting my fabrics up on the wall.  I chose to add a 4th value.  And this meant I had two different kinds of blocks, plus the natural issues that come with using scraps and not wanting adjacent pieces matching, etc.

I had trouble keeping my diagonal set lined up nicely on the wall!
 I found a vintage piece of orange-y rust that makes a nice complement to the blues.  I like the way those narrow rust lines tie the design together.  But this was what I would call a "nasty" fabric -- not 100% cotton and rather hard to handle.  It required me to approach cautiously with the iron and in spite of being a bit stiff it wasn't very stable on either the horizontal or the vertical grain.  (Once the top was completed I was pleased to drop the last few scraps of this one into the trash!)

Diagonally set quilts always have a tendency to skew out of shape.  I spent the best part of an afternoon measuring, cutting, and pinning to get those borders on the way I wanted them.  And even so I can see a couple of spots that will require some attention during the quilting to ensure a nice flat end product.

I am very pleased with the completed top.

And did this project use up that original pile of squares?  Of course not!  Some of those pieces were the wrong colour or wrong value.  Actually that pile is now larger than when I began --  with the addition of pieces from other fabrics that were auditioned and didn't make the cut!

Monday, January 16, 2017

A couple of scrappy finishes

While it is exciting to start something new I do find that seeing something finished has its own kind of satisfaction!  Over the last little while two scrappy projects have been completed, all the way to the binding.

The Plaid ZigZag quilt has borders, quilting, binding.  I'm glad I decided to use multiple fabrics for the light triangles, and the green inner border that I waffled about seems to be just fine.

Inspired by Bonnie Hunter's design that she calls Narragansett Blues.  Started, as usual, thinking it would "use up" some scraps.  None of the fabric piles seem any lower, but I had lots of fun!  This lap-sized quilt is also completely complete and has found its way to its new home.