Saturday, July 30, 2011

Getting Organized

I'm happy to say that I have come up with a plan for finishing the little stars quilt.  Here's what it looks like currently, with it's first border:
I was looking at an older quilt book that I had at home titled Scrap Quilts Fast and Fun, when I noticed the border on one of the quilts.  Very folk art, with flowers and birds, vine and leaves.  I think that's the answer for my final border!  I spoke of this the other day, but did not have pictures.

I consulted my collection of solids and I do not have enough of the blue surrounding the stars for an outer border.  I DO have enough to use it as my binding.  I found another blue, a little lighter, that looks good, so that will be the border 5 or 6 inches wide.  Among the solids I also found a green that will provide needed contrast and it is already a bias cut scrap!  Maybe it was "vines" once before?
Here's a close-up of the shapes I plan to use in the applique.  The bird was scanned, reduced and changed slightly from one source, flowers and leaf drawn by me, and the star "borrowed" from another source.
I'll use the freezer paper method  of applique.  The shapes will be in a variety of scrappy colors, like the stars. 

Speaking of borrowing, my friend, Helen, came to my rescue with a 1/2" bias tape maker to use for my vine.  Thanks, Helen!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dear Jane Continues ...

It's been a while since the last "Dear Jane" update.  I am up to 29 blocks finished.  The setting plan that I have in mind calls for 41 blocks, so I'm getting there!  Here are a few of the most recent.
It is very interesting to me to try and figure out the best method to construct each block, like solving puzzles.  Some of the blocks lend themselves to paper piecing, in which case I scan and copy the line drawing in the book.  In some of the blocks have combined hand appliqued curved elements with machine piecing.  In a few cases, I have "disagreed" with the line drawing interpretation of the block in the book, in which case I have redrawn the block (EQ) to more closely resemble the real block in the quilt.  Quite a learning experience.

I continue to mull possible border ideas for my star quilt.  Right now I am leaning toward a folk-art looking appliqued border.  I've been playing with some bird drawings today.  I am also thinking about some sort of bird theme for the red/gray/ background that I put together on Saturday.

I have had birds on my mind since I began watching the "Eagle Cams", both in Decorah, Iowa and at the Wildlife Center of Virginia.  Watching the bald eagles up close and personal from hatching to flight (all in the matter of about four months) has been a fascinating learning experience.  The young eagles have all flown now, so we'll have to wait until next spring for the cycle to begin anew.

Since birds had captured so much of my attention recently, they also became the theme of the most recent store challenge "For the Birds".  The entries are due this week and I'll be showing them off here and on the store website eventually.   

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sally's Stars

Monday promises to be a busy day here. 

Sally doesn't know it yet, but I ripped off the picture of her "stars" from her latest blog posting (See her blog:  Sally's Burrow).  I haven't had a chance to work on either of my stars projects for a day or two.  She was my partner-in-crime who got me started on the stars adventure.  So, here are some more stars to admire.  Yea, Sally!!!
On Saturday, I taught a class on how to make the little "rag bags" (thanks to Janie, who brought me that idea!)  I've written up a brand new Cotton Fields pattern for anyone who couldn't come on Saturday.
That's all for now, lots of things to do in the store today.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Working Together

Here is a sweet little quilt that took YEARS to finish.  Because my mother embroiders so much better than I do, I gave her the Sunbonnet Sue blocks to embroider.   When they were finished, she gave them back to me.

I came up with a simple sashing and border plan for the blocks, using 30's reproduction prints.  Then, as is often the case with me (sadly), the quilt top was "put away".  Mom kept asking me when we were going to finish the quilt, so about two years ago, I sandwiched it and wrapped it for a Christmas present, complete with new needles, thread, marking pen and needle threader.

Mom had quilted the majority of the center of the quilt when she said that she really was really having trouble seeing well enough to continue, so back it came.  Guess what?  I put it away again!  When I was making plans to visit in June (60th anniversary AND Dad's 85th birthday), I decided to get the quilt out and see what it still needed to be done.  I spent an intensive couple of weeks finishing the hand quilting and binding the quilt.  It was done in time!!
I had planned to have a picture taken with Mom and I together holding the quilt, but in the excitement of the visit, I completely forgot.  One of their good friends stepped in, took a picture and sent it to me.  So here are Mom and Dad and the quilt.  Click to see it a little closer.  The blocks really are pretty. 

Now, for something completely different, I have started another improvisational quilt (see Pamela Allen).  The feeling had been coming on me for a while and what pushed me over the edge was a visit this afternoon from my good friend, Katherine.  She was working on an art quilt for an online challenge and I decided that the time was right for me to play.

Here's the background and some of the other fabrics that I may use.
Once I decided on the placement, I stitched everything down with embroidery floss (3 strands) using the ladder stitch.  Now I have a setting for a new design.  Stay tuned....

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Having a Heat Wave

Oh, yes, we're having a heat wave here in Eastern North Carolina, with temperatures in the 90's and 100's.  And what better time to have the air conditioning in the store break down?  We were without A/C for one solid week, while we waited first for our repairman, and then for the needed part.  Thank goodness everything is cool again now, but it took a toll on us all, especially the two wearing fur coats.  Cassie was hiding in the closet, but I snapped a picture of Baby trying to get comfortable.
While it was hot inside the store, there wasn't a lot of sewing going on.  I kept the overhead lights off as much as possible, which makes sewing and quilting just a little bit difficult.

So......there's not a lot of show and tell for today.  I did manage to get the first border on the little stars quilt.
Now, I'll have to think about it for a while.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Progress Report - Stars

I love the way my little stars project is coming together!  I made one more star, then set them together with the help of the sketch I had made earlier.
Now that I've gotten this far, I am rethinking what I want to do with the borders.  I am usually very lazy with borders - two borders, one narrow, one wide and I'm done.  This time I'm leaning toward something pieced....

I wasn't too inspired this Sunday afternoon, so was quilting (in the ditch) the little PEEP quilt last seen in the April post "Strips and Peep" (where does the time go???)  I'm kind of stuck as far as what else it needs beyond the very basic quilting that I'm working on.  

Lucky for me, my good friend Peggy called and I went to play in her wonderful sewing room.  I had had so much fun making stars that I decided to cut out another star project.  This one has a very pale green background and I am using blue, green and aqua in the stars.  Also, 9" blocks instead of 6".  I've made lots of star points, so will start making the actual stars soon.  Here is a preview.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One More Star!

I need one more star!

I put together what I had done, which amounted to seven cute little stars.  Then I needed to figure out the layout, which was why I was fretting about my graph paper.  I knew what I wanted to do, but needed a little help with my placement measurements.

I finally put my hands on some 1/2" graph paper.  Then I cut some little 1 1/2" squares of paper to symbolize my 9-patch blocks.  Here we go ...
That was easy!  Then I moved the little squares one by one and drew in my stars.  I also drew in lines where the filler pieces will be.
From here it will be easy to figure out the sizes of the other pieces I will need.  I was getting a little concerned about running out of the blue solid, but as it turns out I will have plenty.  Now I will sit down and make that eighth star. 
I'm planning on using the gold in my border.  I hope that I will have enough of that blue floral to use too.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Seeing Stars

Well, I knew it was just a matter of time before I found another little fun project.  My friend, Sally, emailed me a picture of a little quilt made of scrappy, crooked stars.  We both loved it!  Yesterday we swapped scraps and this afternoon I started to play.

I chose a solid blue for my background and then had to decide WHAT scraps to use.  I decided to limit myself to yellow, orange, blue, aqua and green.  This will be a small project - six inch blocks.  If I ever find my tablet of graph paper, I'll get a lay-out figured out.
This is just a start - I have a lot more squares and triangles cut out!

What else have I been doing?  Hand quilting on one project, knitting a second spiral hat (better yarn and the correct needles), and reading (the last two were Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child and Rough Weather by Robert B. Parker).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Weekend Projects

A nice lady stopped by the store on Saturday and I gave her a brief demo on string piecing on paper foundations.  Once she was gone, I couldn't stop!  I just made four blocks, but decided to make a string pieced border too, which made it a nice "table-topper" size.  Notice that I used the phone book pages idea again!  Here it is, back and front:

Something else that needs to be quilted!!!

I FINALLY got the Oriental Tiles quilt top together.  Here is a close-up of the over-all pattern.  I think it was worth all of those triangles.
Here's a picture of the quilt with it's borders.
The pattern "Oriental Tiles" was designed by Ursula Riegel.  Her pattern company is called Designs to Share with You.  The pattern and kits are available at the shop, of course.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mini Quilt and More

Today I finished up the little 12" charity quilt that I showed in the last post.  The center is a "Jan Mullen" heart and the rest is improvised.  I machine quilted in the ditch, then added some big stitch with red thread to add a little more whimsy.
Last month, I got myself in the doghouse with my bee group because I showed one of the secret blocks (see "Blocks with Curves").  I didn't know Angela followed my blog!  Today I finished the next person's block, but I'll be sneaky and just show a section of it ... 
I finished the knit hat that I showed in progress the other day.  My good friend Sally (check out her blog "Sally's Burrow") gave me a new scarf pattern, so I'm making one to match the hat.  Sorry, I don't know the original source of the pattern, but it's called "Drop Stitch Scarf". 
Since so many quilters are knitters also, I couldn't resist ordering this darling Timeless Treasures print (and coordinates) for the store.
That's all, folks!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Oriental Tiles Revisited

Way back in January, I started a quilt top, using the pattern "Oriental Tiles".  I selected a dark batik, an Asian print, and a mottled tone-on-tone. 
I was very organized and did all the cutting at one work session.  There were a zillion triangles to sew and trim and press ... that took two sessions at least.  Then, other things apparently got in the way and this project was pushed aside.  Now that I'm getting back to it, I find that I wasn't as far along as I'd thought.  I HAD sewn all of the squares on (that would become triangles), but I hadn't trimmed and pressed them all and I actually only had two completed blocks.  So, this is what I started out with today.
By the end of the afternoon, I had 7 blocks.  Only 5 more to go!  Hope to show the finished top soon.

First thing this morning, I tackled a little project for the TRPQG (Tar River Piecemakers Quilters Guild, Rocky Mount, NC).  Members were given a square of fabric and the assignment of making a 12" quilted square of any design ... to be placed in police cars to be given to children to comfort them in emergency situations.  The guild has also made the bags and they will be filled with an assortment of items.  Here is what I came up with.  I am going to do a combination of machine and hand stitching to complete it.  The multi-colored print in the heart and four-patches is the challenge piece.
Last, but not least, there is another knitting project to show.  This is a new hat pattern and I probably will be able to get in finished in front of the TV tonight.  Easy, except that the first half is supposed to be knit on circular needles and then switch to double-pointed as the top is decreased.  I had the correct SIZE of circular, but they were too long, so I've knit the whole thing on double-pointed.  Good practice.
I'm planning on a matching scarf, too.  This is just plain, old acrylic yarn, but it's a big skein.  The scarf will grow until I run out of yarn.  

Sunday, July 3, 2011

In the Pink

I've just finished the little project made with the "orphan" quilt block.  Here's what I started with, plus a string of little pieced squares.
Here's what it looks like now, quilted and bound and embellished with a big yarn and bead heart.  It was a fun, quick project!  (Click on the picture for a closer, detailed view.)
I also finished the little bag that I showed in progress on the double pointed needles.  Then and now:

The next things I'll tackle are some unfinished projects (surprise) that need attention.  One is a lap quilt that was the result of a round robin project.  I'm hand quilting and probably about 1/3 done.  Another is a larger quilt top that is partially pieced (I think all the blocks are done).  It will be a shop sample with kits.  Who knows what else I'll get into?