Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Developing a quilt, part 3 "The Zen of Basting"

I know the title of this post has you riveted for more! So, even though these musings are not really in the order of quilt developing, each is part of my process, so, here goes.

This is one of the definitions of the word from Dictionary.com:

zen definition

 To figure out something by meditation or by a sudden flash of enlightenment.

As I have mentioned before, I find the process of making a quilt very relaxing. It takes over my mind in a set of repetitive actions and removes the thoughts and demons of anxiety from my consciousness. Very New-Agey huh? But it allows me to enter a calm, meditative state though these actions, and that makes me feel good. I enjoy parts of the process more than others, but all are important to the conception and completion of a quilt that I am happy with. One of the parts that I love less is basting, but it is the action that stabilizes the quilt sandwich and makes it possible to free-motion quilt with wild abandon! Yes, I pin baste first, but ever since I learned to baste with water-soluble thread, it has become a key step for my quilts. As crucial as it is to the quilting process, I find myself putting it off, watching one more episode of "Real Guidos of the North Couture" instead of basting. Well, it is awkward to start and you don't see the basting (it just melts away). But I make myself start and soon I find myself calmly feeding the quilt under my walking foot, forming a grid on my project. It is a step when the personality of the quilt starts to show, as if the action of the needle and basting thread awakens the quilt. Sounds silly, but at this point, it is a quilt, but you can't get it wet! And it makes free-motion much easier since I don't have to deal with the pins and since it stabilizes everything, I can start the quilting anywhere on it and move in any direction.

This baby is ready for the free-motion to begin!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Developing a quilt, part 2

I need to sew. I need to have a project to develop. I really don't watch a lot of TV, I like to be "creating". So what to do, when I am tired, but need the relaxation of the zen of sewing? Well, that is one reason I keep my scraps.

Now sometimes they do seem to take over and I must whip them into shape! But that is part of my creative exercises. I like to 'fondle' the fabric. I like to fold the pieces, arrange by color and pattern, try different pattern groupings. I never know what idea will come, but I have found it is a good way to get the idea for my next quilt.

 I have discovered that I really enjoy the quick projects I can make with pre-cut fabrics. And I LOVE pre-cuts (fat-quarters, jelly rolls, honey buns, layer cakes, makes me hungry!). But in the interest of reducing my waste (shame I can't seem to reduce my waist!) AND as an homage to quilters of the past, I recently arranged my scraps into pre-cut sets. (Yep, there's my Amy Butler dots again!). I pressed and cut my scraps into 2.5" by 12.5" strips, 1.5" by 12.5" strips, 5" squares and 10" squares. So after a big quilt project (where I have co-ordinated fabric, or have made a quilt for someone) I have these pieces ready to go.

  Sort of mindless, relaxing quilting! But also a way of remembering the quilts I have made by the scraps I have left.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Developing a quilt, part 1

Since I am in the quilting phase of another quilt (for dobbygirl!) and that is not easy to document, I decided to create a few posts about the ways I develop my quilts and what inspires me. I hope you find it entertaining!

Method 1 - Or what happens when I fall head-over-heels for a print!

 See that big poppy print? That's what did me in! I love bright poppies, I love seeing them grow in the medians where the DOT plants them en mass. I have tried to grow them, but have no luck. Still, they captivate me. I saw this collection of prints and ordered the fat-quarter pack. In the Spice colorway. You see, I also love orange. Now I mean, I LOVE the color orange. It makes me happy. I have an orange chenille chair in my den. 

To me it is optimistic, warm, happy. It catches the eye. And what is opposite of orange on the color wheel? Blue. So the combination of orange and blue creates energy. When I received the fabric, I loved it even more! So, with the vague idea of an orange and blue quilt, I have been collecting fat quarters. See those orange dots? That is my all-time favorite Amy Butler fabric. I have been hoarding my last pieces of it and this is the place for it. So what's next for this quilt? Well, I have vague ideas for the design. I have even made a couple of sample blocks.

But I haven't decided yet on the pattern. I have also been scouring the 'net for more fabric. This one will be a beauty!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What I've been Up 2

I have been remiss in blogging lately. The heat, oh the heat, makes me want to stay in a cool shower for a while, and then lay under my ceiling fan. But life called and I have to work! But when the work day is done, I drive home, tend the hounds, then to the "sweat shop". And this week, I have completed the quilting on my Carpenter's Star, which I have done in Christmas fabrics as a gift for my MIL. It looks exactly like I wanted!

I used my even-feed foot to outline the star and the background.

 Then, I fmq'ed a meander in the background areas.

 I did a fancy border design in the inner white border.

 And I added an all-over loopy swirl in the outer border.

My MIL's birthday is in September. She will be 81. We call her Meme, so this quilt is "Meme's Christmas Star". She loves to decorate for Christmas and I know she will love this quilt!

Oh, yeah!  The full-shot!

 What do ya think?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

One from the archives

This is a tiny (8" x 10") art quilt I made for Mom and Dad several years ago.

I made a transfer of an old photo of my Dad (he's the littlest one) with 2 of his brothers and added machine applique and an early attempt at free-motion quilting.

Mom keeps it on the wall at one (!) of her machine. Her Gammill Vision was delivered yesterday. It is awesome! It has a camera so you can see the back of your stitches, and an FM radio receiver! I played on it a little. It is a dream machine!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Center is together

Now its BORDER TIME!!! Remember when you could go online and see the technicians at Dell building your own personal computer? 

This series of posts reminds me of that. But much slower!

I got all the center blocks and setting triangles sewn together. Next up is sewing the flannel blanket strips on for a thin inner border. I measured and calculated and ciphered and I do have enough! Then the decision for the wider outer border. I could use a solid light neutral, or the Garden Trellis fabric that I am using for the back. I am leaning toward the Garden Trellis fabric. I think the brightness of the pink will frame this quilt beautifully! This quilt top is so soft, it is really going to be a good one to wrap up in! 

I am planning on taking this to work next week to pin baste since we have high work tables and it is much easier on my back.

Then let the quilting begin.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

All the blocks are done!

Now time to sew the rows together!

I have to piece each row with the appropriate setting triangle, then sew each row together. Next will be the inner border, I want to do it with the flannel blanket I just hope there is enough! Then the outer border. Next I will piece the backing, layer and quilt.

Since this is extra layered, I am thinking of straight line quilting with my even feed foot in the main body, then a swirl free-motion in the setting triangles and border. I really am happy with this. It is turning out exactly as I saw it in my mind! Seems the recipient is happy too! ;o)

Glad I have this project. It gives me something to look forward to each night. This is one of those nights when a wave of loneliness for my husband and the frustration of the house not selling are really getting to me. That and I am asking to sob since I am going to watch "Deadliest Catch" and tonight is the one where Capt. Phil Harris passes away. 

My quilting fills so many needs for me: an outlet for my creativity (that doesn't completely get tapped at work), a soothing, relaxing hobby that settles my anxiety, a way to make my friends and loved ones happy. That and I get to play with beautiful fabrics and make wonderful stitches. I believe we all need something in our lives that gives us joy, and for me, this is it!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Audrey's Memory Quilt Taking Shape!

I decided against setting on the square and sashing. I set it on point and I love it! As the setting triangles I am using the crib sheet dobbygirl sent in the box of clothes.

She also included a flannel receiving blanket I am going to use as the thin inner border. I think that touch of flannel along with the fussy cut pockets and embellishments with make this a very tactile quilt.

Notes on my process: I bought City Quilts by Cherri House over the weekend. The eye candy and her way with color and form was very inspirational! I liked the book so much I wrote the author a fan email this morning. And she answered! 

I also used serious starch on the triangles to stabilize them. The knits in the blocks are stretchy, but as I noted in a previous post, I have foundation pieced them on muslin. The top will be that additional layer thicker, but I didn't have interfacing and and the muslin is more flexible. 4 more blocks to piece, then set the triangles and start on the borders. I received the Garden Trellis fabric today and I am pleased that it is a nice strong pink, without being neon magenta. It will set the whole quilt off very nicely!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Work in progress

***dobbygirl, don't look if you want to be surprised!***

I am making a memory quilt for a friend out of her daughter's baby clothes. So fun! I am foundation piecing on muslin since most of the clothes are knits. So far, this is my favorite block:

Not sure yet about the sashing, leaning toward a Kona white. The back is Paula Prass' Garden Trellis in pink. I was able to find the fabric on etsy. Very girly!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

And now for someting different!

My brother's newest: DAISY

He has 3 Border Collie/Australian Shepard cross pups. All from the same parents. Zuni, is the oldest at 2, then there is Panda and Daisy from the same litter. Zuni and Panda look like Border Collies, but Daisy has a beautiful Merl coat!
 She is energetic and rambunctious like her brother and sister, but she is also quite special. Daisy is blind. She was born sighted, but was hit by a car and that rendered her blind. She still loves to run and play and amazing follows Zuni very closely. 

I love smiling, happy, wanted pets!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Scrap therapy part 2

Another project my obsessively cut and sorted scraps have enabled me to do:

I have coveted many postage stamp quilts and decided to tackle one. So far this is about 12.5" by 18". This will be a longer term project. I am strip piecing and cross-cutting. Makes it faster, but the pieces are still tiny and you have to keep your seams consistent. But I love the clean, fresh "Scrappy" look!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Scrap therapy part 1

I have been sewing the scraps I worked so hard to sort and trim. Having them ready makes it easier and convenient to use them up. Here is the first project I am using them on:

This is not a 'true' charm quilt. 
Charm quilts are not supposed to have more than 1 piece of each fabric. 
I can't stand the thought of trashing half (nor do I have enough for a second quilt) so I guess this is a double charm. 
Another instance of me bucking the system. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Scrap management

Okay! The scraps have taken over!

I have to do something with them!  I can't toss them, but they are overwhelming me in their current state!

I am going to spend some time organizing them, and whipping them into shape. I am pressing and cutting them. 10" squares, 5" squares, 2 1/2" by 12 1/2" strips and 1 1/2" by 12 1/2" strips.

After I get them all cut, I am organizing them by color. Too OCD? Maybe, but I hate the mess and clutter. And this makes them look like the pre-cut kits, and makes them easier to store. And since I have to keep the house "show-ready" it makes my studio neater as well. And it is a good break after all the quilting I have been doing.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Design Wall Monday

Today is a holiday from work, since yesterday was July 4th. I love July 4th as a holiday, it is more mellow than other holidays, and the focus is not so commercial. I feel very lucky and blessed to live in this great country. 

What's on my design wall?

 Love the poppies! They are by Laura Gunn for Michael Miller fabrics. I bought a FQ set a few months ago and have been collecting batiks to coordinate. These blocks are about 17" square, I want to keep them big, this quilt is for my king-sized bed. It is going to be a long-term project, as I am trying a different construction method, I am going to quilt each block separately and then sew them together.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I finished this cute baby quilt:

it measures 42" by 52".

I used the rest of the layer cake squares for the back.

Free-motion quilted in a meander with white polyester thread.

This for my cousin Donna's first grandchild. Hard to believe she is going to be a grandmother! The sweet baby is due in September. She wanted pink and brown, traditional fabric. I hope she likes it!

Friday, July 2, 2010

A non-quilt related thingie - but fun!

Do you love IKEA? I do, and am glad there is one in Charlotte I can visit yearly. This is a fun swedish furniture name generator inspired by IKEA.

Here is mine!

Tee Hee!