Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Week Off -- Part One

Yesterday was my 24th wedding anniversary, so my husband, Steve, and I enjoyed a pleasant, leisurely dinner out together. I’m glad that we still have so much to talk and laugh about together after so many years! The little needlepoint stand alone below is part of a set of handpainted canvases I bought several years ago. There is one tiny teapot for each month of the year, plus one for birthdays and about 6 for Christmas. Of course, I bought them all. I thought I should post this picture as it is the canvas for June (and works well to commemorate my anniversary as well). I worked hard and fast on these little canvases and got through October. Maybe I’ll get November and at least December done before those months roll around this year. The thimbles are to give you an idea of how small the stand alones are.

This morning I finally went and bought a camera! I had a really old digital (2.1 mega pixels) that took terrible pictures, and lately I’ve been borrowing my daughter’s Kodak. Now that I have a better camera, if my pictures don’t improve, I can’t blame it on the camera! And I can't wait to get it over to the coast tomorrow!

With new camera now in hand, I am posting new pictures of the half-hexagon quilt that thought it was finished, but then decided to go through yet another make over. Here it is on my dining room table. Oh well, you might as well see my makeshift sewing room as well.

And here is the quilt top on the deck. There’s nothing like a quilt in the sun! As usual, the grass needs cutting and yes, that is clover in the grass. Sigh.

My white cat, Sammy (Samantha) decided to redeem herself after frolicking through my half hexagons oh so many times by learning how to quilt. Actually I just thought she looked cute sleeping with an Amy Butler fabric pillow, but when I went to take the picture, she turned her head and decided to have a Fons and Porter pillow. I guess she wants to learn how to bind quilts for me.

Even though I am on vacation this week I had to run into work today to take a colleague out to lunch (as it was her last day) and drop off flowers for my boss (as her mother passed away recently and she comes back to work tomorrow). Yesterday I made this sweet little quilted “mat” (for lack of a better word) to go under the flowers. I was inspired by a couple of postings on Aneela’s blog, comfortstitching. One was when she salvaged a Dresden plate block and in another she showed how to make a spiderweb quilt. I used leftovers from the half hexagon quilt plus a few scraps. It was fun, easy, and a great way to use up scraps. I can’t wait to make a whole spiderweb quilt. I plan on making more mats to have on hand for little gifts for friends.

Well, I’m off to the beach tomorrow morning, so you won’t hear from me for a few days, but be prepared for lots of pictures early next week. I think I just may go a little crazy!

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Sunday, June 28, 2009

So near and yet so far....

Today I finally finished piecing the top of the quilt for the half-hexagon quilt-a-long. However, the more I sewed rows together over the last several evenings, the more I realized that the quilt was going to fall far short in terms of size. I have to admit that I didn’t do a lot of counting of hexagons or measuring during layout. I was too impatient to get sewing! And all of the hexagons spread out on my design wall (flannel sheet) looked much bigger than when sewn together. So – I’m going to add about six more zig zags, which should add another 28 inches in length. It will still need a border of about 5 inches all the way around, so now I’m on the lookout for a good border fabric.

After laying out the rows this morning, I went out on the deck to enjoy a latte in the sunshine with my husband. When I came back in, one very naughty cat had done this with my hexie strips!

Not to be outdone, she was joined by her partner in crime….

This is the quilt top as it looked upon “completion” today – with fabrics above and below picked out for the new rows. I will repeat some fabrics, but get to incorporate a couple of new ones. Ahhhhhhh, more Amy Butler loveliness.

On Wednesday or Thursday I will be going over to our beach house to enjoy the beach and get a little more sewing done. I am excited to be reunited with a stack of quilt blocks that I accidentally left over there last visit. They are antique basket blocks that I rescued from their old, stained muslin backgrounds and appliquéd on fresh, new fabric. This is an idea that I fell in love with out of one of my favorite Kaffe Fassett books, Passionate Patchwork, and I will post pictures of them next week.

Below are peeks at twelve other antique blocks that I plan to incorporate into a quilt. These are a someday project, but I think they are so much fun! I don’t know whether to call them stars or flowers. Between each “petal” is a smaller “petal” in what I can only describe as a cathedral window style. They are all sewn by hand, with the center circle appliquéd onto the petals. When I get around to it, I am planning on appliquéing them onto new fabric.

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Books and Half Hexies

I gave my son a ride to his guitar lesson tonight and poked around a bookstore while I waited for him. There are quite a few quilting books on my wish list right now: Material Obsession, Quilt Shack (by Norum and Krohg), the last two books by Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle of Fun Quilts, and the last several by Kaffe Fassett. Yes – I’m a little behind -- and happy that there are so many great books out there on color, design, and all aspects of quilting. However, as I looked through the selections at the bookstore, I was more amazed by how many books seem so uninteresting and uninspired to me. Many of the quilts pictured look flat, lifeless, and downright boring, and don’t get me started on the unimaginative use of color. I am so much more excited and inspired by so many of the quilts I see on quilting blogs. And it’s so fun to watch the design process and construction unfold! I think there are a lot of bloggers out there who have a good quilting book in them!

And so, after making dinner, taking Michael to his lesson/hanging out at the bookstore, and catching up on online quilting inspiration (i.e., wonderful new blog postings), I decided I’d better get busy on finishing my half hexagon quilt top. Unfortunately, I got started too late and didn’t get to finish it. Twenty-one of twenty-seven rows are completed, so I’m getting close! I couldn’t resist giving a little sneak preview of these yummy, yummy strips! Don't forget that you can click on pictures for a closer look.

Happy Quilting!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

First Day of Summer/Father's Day

My sister-in-law usually has Father’s Day at her house, but she and my niece are out of town, so I invited my brother and the rest of the family to gather at our house. It was supposed to rain, but other than one brief shower, it was sunny with a beautiful blue sky (although a little windy at times). I made homemade BBQ rub and sauce for chicken breasts – which I soaked in a brine for 2 hours before grilling. The chicken came our tender and juicy with a wonderful tangy flavor which tasted great with a fresh green salad with creamy avocado dressing. The meal ended with a delicious warm apple strudel with vanilla ice cream (which was especially good because I didn’t have to make it). We had a nice afternoon, but almost immediately afterward I set up the sewing machine and got to work on sewing together those half hexagon strips. I loved how the fabrics looked during lay out, but as I started to sew I fell in love with them all over again. I don’t think my pictures do justice to the wonderful Amy Butler fabrics. Five rows down – out of about 27 – but it’s a good start.

I decided to whip up another block for my Kaffe quilt as well. It was so quick since after cutting for the entire quilt top, I placed the squares and triangles for each block into separate ziplock bags. I think I will try to leave the sewing machine set up all week. I love it when I have blocks ready for sewing, and I can just sit down and do a little here and there in between other projects.

Happy Quilting!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Just another Saturday morning....

On many mornings I roll out of bed and my hair actually looks as good or better than it did the day before, but on other mornings – oh, my! Today was one of those mornings. Usually I don’t care about that, but my husband had invited our possibly future painter over to take a look at the rooms we would like painted. Well, I guess now he’s seen me at my worst, and it can only get better. My husband is trying to trade painting for some time at our little beach cottage, so hopefully that will work out. Both of our children will be in college this Fall, so we are all about being very frugal. But all I can think about right now is a trip to Cool Cottons for new fabric. I played around with various violets, oranges, and greens from my stash (for my Color Play group), but my tastes have changed so much over the years. I’m craving fresh fabrics. I’m going to have to make a little quilting budget for myself. Would it be wrong to have more money set aside for quilting than for food?
This is a picture of the quilt whose leftovers fueled my half hexagon quilt-a-long. It is bright and busy, and most fabrics were chosen by my daughter several years ago. It still needs a purple border on two sides. When I went to sew the last two borders on, I realized that I made a cutting error and they are totally wonky. So I cut into them for more purple for the half hexagon quilt. Now I need to find a purple that is similar so I can add the last two borders. I think I will like that look better anyway.

Here is a close-up of the fabric that started the whole thing. I am calling the quilt "Molly's Closet," because she does have a lot of shoes and bags. My husband would probably lovingly call it "The Entryway," because that is where a lot of the shoes and bags hang out. My shoes can usually be found under the computer (or the sewing machine, when it's set up).

This block is actually the same one I used for the Buttermilk Farm quilt (see pastel quilt in banner with large center appliqué).

You need to know that I am not a photographer and I do not have a green thumb. But I love flowers and all the pictures of flowers that so many quilting bloggers display. I am really enjoying my yard right now (despite the fact that it needs a lot of TLC). You will note today and in the future that I only seem to take pictures in the yard when the grass needs mowing.
I adore this lovely, brave little pansy that decided to make itself at home in a crack in the driveway -- just next to the grass that needs mowing and edging.

This rose looks so beautiful this morning. Again, please note that I am a terrible gardener. Out of about 7 or 8 rose bushes, this is the only rose that was photo worthy.

This little grouping of pots on my deck is such a joy to look at. We purchased far fewer flowers this year, and my husband picked them out. Now, I have never noticed cosmos in pots before – usually just taking over someone’s flower bed -- but I am enjoying these so much. We certainly have less variety this year, but my enjoyment is just as great. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the weather is going to cooperate for a Father’s Day dinner on the deck. The whole family arrives around 1:30, but as soon as they leave, the sewing machine is going right back on the dining room table and the half hexies are going to start coming together. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Happy Quilting!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Wonderful World of Online Quilters

For me this all started in January when I joined Facebook. I knew about FB because of my 20 year old daughter and my 18 year old son. I soon discovered that it was a great way to reconnect with old friends and keep up with current ones. Then one day I did a search for something like "quilting" and found that there are quilt groups on FB. That's when I discovered the Kaffe Fassett Collective on FB and posted a couple of pictures of my quilts. Suddenly, people that I'd never met before were asking to be my friend. It seemed a little strange to me, but then I got to see their quilts and their quilt groups, and suddenly I was asking to be friends with other quilters and fabric designers from around the world. One day I realized that some of them had blogs. I had never even looked at a blog before, but this was even more quilty and fabulous. And from one such lovely blog I found a Flickr group, the Half Hexagon Quilt-a-long, started by comfortstitching (see blogs I'm following). Another lovely, lovely quilter and friend from FB is also in the quilt-a-long, Cathy Underhill (cabbage quilts -- also see blogs I'm following). Their work is so inspiring to me!

So -- you can see my progress on the quilt-a-long. The pictures will probably be stacked up above these paragraphs because I still can't figure out a better way to do it, and I seem to have little to no time to figure it out right now. One day soon I will get it straightened out and will probably be extremely embarrassed at how simple it is. I decided to put together a "make do" type of quilt for the quilt-a-long. That is, no fun trips to the fabric store for more fabrics. I wanted to use up fabric from my stash. I started with 2-1/2 inch strips left over from a quilt I put together for my daughter a few years ago. After the layout, my daughter and I decided it would be a great quilt for her dorm room, but she has had a more mellow color scheme, so we had to pull a few out and replace (with more Amy Butler :). So, many changes later, we have a whole different quilt on our hands, and I actually ended up with more trapezoids than when I started. So, yes, I'm going to be making at least two quilts and probably some pillows that my new Flickr group friend (sleighd -- who also makes amazing quilts) showed me how to do with a pictorial tutorial (I like how that sounds :). So, apparently I am an overachiever! I always did like extra credit!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Playing with Color!

Color me happy! I went to a class/group called Color Play at a "local" fabric store, and I am so excited about it. (Local = about 23 miles away, but you should see the fabric selection they have: www.coolcottons.biz.) We are going to meet once a month to learn about color theory and how to use Joen Wolfrom's 3-in-1 Color Tool. Over the years I have actually read a fair amount about color theory and the use of color in design, but it still all seems so complicated at times. I am excited to learn more and challenge myself. It's already making a little more sense, and it was fun to meet other quilters who seem like kindred spirits in their love of color, fabric, and design.

We are going to have a little challenge each month and then share our results at the next class. Tonight we chose a color from a deck and then a formula for color harmony. The color I chose was violet and the color harmony I chose was triadic. As I was leaving the shop I spotted a Kaffe Fassett fabric with violet, orange, and green -- so that may be a great start for me!

Sorry there is no picture for this post. I'm not on the computer where my photos are uploaded, and I'm still trying to figure out how to post images on Blogger. It just doesn't seem to want to do it the way I want to do it, and it is winning -- so far....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A work in progress (WIP)

These are blocks I made a couple of weekends ago at the coast. They are part of a Kaffe Fassett design, Red Columns Quilt, from Westminster Patchwork and Quilting Book Number 2 (published in 2000). I have always loved it and have been wanting to make it for a long time. This is a project that I will be working on in between other projects. Hmmm. I don't seem to do it any other way. It took a lot of thinking and a little math during the cutting, because the quilt was meant to be made with templates (and the directions are written that way); however, I wanted to rotary cut them, so I had to figure out the correct size of strips for the squares and triangles, and then figure out which fabrics to use for each shape. Anyway, this is going to be fabulous when completed -- a very warm reddish/goldenish color scheme. There are huge strips of Kaffe's flower lattice fabric, which is so gorgeous, I'm a little afraid to cut into it. Stay tuned for my progress....

The beginning....

Friday I turned 50, and today I started a blog. Oh, my! Do people dedicate blogs? Well, I would like to dedicate this blog to my mother who sewed all of my school clothes, finished my sewing projects when I lost interest in them (that is, made a mistake that required extensive undoing), gave me three sewing machines (one was a toy -- but it really sewed!), and got me started on needlepoint and embroidery. She would be so happy to know that I share her love of fabric and needlework, and whenever I finish a project, I feel her pleasure.

Here is a picture of my first sewing machine. I so loved using it, and it really sews! It had a little clamp to hold it still on a table. The wheel on the right makes the needle go up and down. The presser foot also goes up and down, and it has feed dogs to move the fabric along!