Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Big Crumb Quilt Reveal!!

So this is it... the big reveal of the crumb quilt from the Crumb Along with Jo at Jo's Country Junction. OK, I'll admit that mine is not quilted yet... but it is on the list of UFO's that WILL be finished in the Finish Along this year so It may be the first large quilt I have done in a while that gets finished inside a calendar year (if I get busy since I really started mine last spring when Jo did her first one, well before she decided to do a crumb along)! WooHoo, go me! So this is it... it is about 64" square and I think I will call it Hearts of Gold.

I think one of the things that makes the chaos all come together is the unifying color, in my case gold, and the 'motif shapes' mixed in. The stars, 4 patches, flying geese and yes, those little hearts I fell in love with give the eye something ordered amidst the chaos... a 'negative space' if you will. I am not normally a 'hearty' kind of person but something about those little hearts struck me and I couldn't get enough of them. I even made hand warmer bags with hearts done this way and posted a tutorial in this post

 After looking and pondering and consulting with some IRL quilters I think that I will be quilting this one in a largeish all over meander with special attention to the hearts. I will likely echo quilt a couple of times around those and nestle them into the rest of the meander.

I can't wait to see the other Crumb quilts that will get posted over at the Crumb Quilt Check in today, including Jo's latest. Go on over and check them out, I bet there are some spectacular ones in all different colors!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Squeaking it in under the wire...

This is all about my free motion escapades this month practicing leaves, and more leaves for the Free Motion Challenge hosted over at SewCalGal.  I have done leaves similar to this before...but mine are often in a line or a border (these are in the purple triangles between the green squares that have flowers in them) and I use the center spine of the leaf to move onto the next leaf stem so they all look like they are in a waving line. The leaves for the January FMQC tutorial this month were a little different. Here are my practice attempts.

This was the first attempt. The leaves are too small to be practical on a large quilt. I did get tired of them over there on the left and tried a stem of leaves to see what that would look like and then filled in what was left with a filler design ala Susan Day. I don't recall its name, but as a Zentangle it is called Whirlz. 

Second attempt... bigger leaves but terrible placement! those on the right are the ones that look like Christmas lights!

The final attempt with some fluffy batting. I liked this one the most; fairly consistent leaf size, decent distance between them and pretty random placement. I would not bet on this happening again if I tried, but it is a matter mostly of practice. I seem to hit it off pretty well with beginners luck at first, then I think about it too much and eventually I get the hang of it. I think if I had some structure I would do better, like a pieced block to quilt over. The lines of the patches would give me some reference.

I have learned, as if I didn't already know, that my coordination while free motion quilting (small things anyway) is not too bad. However, the 'planning where to go next on the fly' definitely needs work! Way back when I began FMQ a few years ago I found that a small glass of wine did wonders for my meander quilting (see below).  I am not sure the same would apply to this kind with the leaves. There are many things to keep in play in your mind's eye... keeping them all evenly spaced and not quilting yourself into a corner, keeping them all about the same size AND not making them face all the same direction so it looks like a string of Christmas lights (although that would be a cute quilting pattern on the right quilt). Lots of things going on. In the past I have done more quilting to a sketched line and I do fine with that... I will have to practice, practice, practice the magic of making it all even and random.

An older wall hanging with some very tight meander quilting made with the aid of chardonay!

I can't wait for the February tutorial!

A New, Old Project...

OK, this week's design wall is pretty much the same as last weeks... I am about 80% finished cutting out pieces for the Tweets I had posted last week. Little sewing went on this weekend... we were gone for part of it, and the rest of it was trashed for sewing by a hand injury. The good news is that the hand is not broken, just swollen and sore so I can sew at some point this week if I get time.
Late last week I stopped by an LQS and ran across some of the Aunt Lindy's Paper Dolls fabric on clearance. It was the scattered clothing print. Seeing it (and OK, buying some of it) reminded me that I had purchased a kit of the doll fabric with some Fast-2Fuse stiff double sided iron-on interfacing and some Pellon iron on fleece for the clothing back in September at the quilt show. I was supposed to give it to my 3 year old for Christmas! Ooops! So I sat down to listen to my book on CD on Friday and ironed away.  I sealed the edges with Fray Check after cutting everything out and the kit included some cute butterfly backing fabric for the stiff dolls.
I did the final trimming in the car on the way to a scouting outing on Saturday and my daughter has been having fun playing with them since (like while I got X-rays of my hand this morning!).

original panel

ready to fuse

Meet Martha, Peter, Ruby and Helen (left to right) is some of their finery.

For what other's are up to, check out Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Picking Up Tweets again...

No, I am not talking about electronic communication - like anyone wants to know what I had for breakfast or how long the ENT had me on hold (although I will tell you that I organized the plastic-ware cabinet while I waited)! I am coming back around to work on the My Tweets 2011 BOM from Erin Russek again. I got a block behind over the summer and never really recovered. Back when I began last year I thought that I would likely only end up doing 9 of the 12 and not doing the center block, although it is lovely. Then February's block took a color turn I ended up not liking - my color choices, not hers. Then I was not super fond of a couple of the patterns in the fall and was about out of my Kona background fabric and I just let it drift for a while. Well, last week's winter sale inspired me to buy more of the background and I have browsed the patterns and decided on three more to make to arrive at 9 blocks - plus the Feb block that doesn't quite fit with the rest. Now I need to decide on colors! This is the hardest part.

My scheme is as follows... all bird bodies are a brown/tan, the wings and under-wing parts are two shades of a color and the 5 tail feathers are the same two colors plus a lighter brown/tan than the bird body. The flowers are whatever goes with the bird color. These are two of the set of 6 I have so far...

 I have two blocks with blue as the bird color, one with red, one with purple, one with teal and one with orange. This block's bird will be dark purple. My quandry right now is what color to make the flowers. They have three outer petals of one color and two inner petals of another and a center - which could be green now that I look at it. The berries will be a darkish burgundy to match the intensity of the dark purple and dark brown I am using for the wings and bodies respectively. Neither the pink and blue or the pink and yellow combo is grabbing me... and I am not sure the pink goes with the deep red either, although it does go with the purples and lightens things up a bit. I think I like the yellow inner petals, but maybe I need a totally different color for the outer petals? Something of a medium value, that coordinates with the yellow/gold and deep red and purple. Back to the color wheel! Any suggestions? And should the green be a schootch darker?

To see what other quilters are up to and what other design problems tax their creative minds hop over to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times. Have a great week - mine will be busy!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Purple Challenge

So I have been a bit off my game with my tangling... I have started many but been unhappy with the outcome and set them aside to start others. In addition I have been working on covering the box that I got as a gift from my son. It is the perfect size to hold pens, pencils, etc and my small notebook that I am working in. Eventually I think it will hold my watercolor friendly pad and my dry water colors as well. So I have one side and the top complete and have begun the other side. Unknowingly, I met the color challenge with this box before I ever found out what the challenge was!

 See there, I always think of Purk as purple... not sure why.

These are the sides of the box:

And this is a photo of  the whole box. I still have the back and handle side of the box and half of one side. I will likely do the bottom as well. I suppose when I am done I will spray it in clear sealant to keep it from getting too grubby and smudging the pencil shading.  Then I have two magazine holder boxes in white card board I plan to cover in tangles also. 

This is another response to the challenge I started, but I think it needs something more (like maybe the penciled in tangle in the upper right... not sure). I am beginning a very busy week for me so I am not sure I will finish it in time for the Sunday deadline... so you get to see it in-process. I actually started this one several times and kept not hitting on just the right combination of tangles and ending up disappointed. This one I am happy with so far... if only I could remember the name of the pattern down the middle!

Have a great week and head over to the Weekly Challenge at The Diva to see others' purple inspirations.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Designing progress

WooHoo! I will admit that the first photo is what WAS up on the design wall this weekend - borders for the crumb quilt, Hearts of Gold. It is now FINISHED (the top anyway) but I will wait to reveal the whole thing until the BIG reveal of all the crumb quilts from Jo's Crumb Along on 1-31-12. I hope to have the back made by then and maybe even have it layered, although I doubt there will be much quilting done on it.

I really need to figure out how to take photos of my wall without the flash washing out the colors!
This is a little TEASE photo of one corner of it but you will have to wait until the 31st to see the whole thing (and for me to get a decent photo of it since this one is back-lit and you can see every seam allowance!)

What is on the wall right now is the beginnings of a quilt I am contemplating making for my son's teacher for her retirement at the end of the year. If I plan it right I can have a light colored square for every student she has taught in her many years at our school. It is still in the planning stages and it looks a little odd the way I am putting the 9 patches together because I am working out of my drawer of full and partial scrap 4 patches and 2.5" strips.  We will see what comes of it, maybe  a charity quilt if it does not come out right for the retirement gift. 

For more of what other's are up to this week, hop on over to Patchwork Times and check out Design Wall Monday.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Zentangle Challenge #53 - getting back in the groove

This week's challenge from The Diva is to use a new tangle of hers called Undine. It turns out that it is a great framework for about a million variations. I finally had to stop looking at entries for the challenge until I had a chance to work on my own so I could develop some of my own ideas without being too influenced by the creativity of others.  Like getting a song stuck in my head - when I see a variation Ireally like it is hard to 'see' past that to something else that might develop out of my own head. So here is my entry for the week with three versions of Undine.
While scanning I realized that it has been a while since I scanned any in. I played with the idea of a snowflake string a while back in response to another challenge and just never had a chance to scan and post my results.

And here are a few other fun ones I did before I sort of fell out of my groove. It has taken a while to get back. 
I like all these grid based tangles all together

 And can I just say whirlz and Frickle are my favorites

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Baby steps toward my goals...

OK, so here we are, second WIP Wednesday of 2012, a have set some goals through my Finish Along participation and there are the challenges I want to participate in as well... how am I doing?

Well, the backing that was up on the design wall on Monday has seen progress. It is, in fact two seams away from being finished and WILL be by the time I leave the house this morning. It changed up a bit from Monday... but that is what design decisions are all about right? It came out better than I expected it to when looking at the wall at the beginning of the week...

It still has its issues with the odd and unsettling distribution of the light cream fabric... but you do what you can with what you have. There is another large piece of fabric I intended to use that is slightly darker in value but it has eluded my every attempt to find it
 The Christmas Wreath I swore would be finished by the new year is layered, spray basted and ready to quilt. Here it is, rolled and ready to go under the needle as soon as I have more than a 30 minute block of time to do something with it and feel like setting the machine up for quilting instead of piecing.

Further projects that are underway include my crumb quilt which is getting border sections pieced leader/ender style while I have been piecing the backing mentioned above, the current week's Zentangle challenge which I worked on last night and will finish this afternoon during dance class and the applique borders for my Modern Workshop quilt some of you may remember from last spring which I have been working on in odd moments in front of the TV (like when I don't have laundry to fold, so seldom)
remember this one? I am about half way through the third border now!

So, the WIP list...
First quarter FAL goal projects:
Hearts of Gold - border block pile is getting larger
Winters Winning Hand - backing nearly done
Christmas Wreath - layered and rolled and ready to go
String Charity quilt - no progress

bonus progress:
Modern Workshop applique is advancing
Zentangle weekly challenge will be finished today
I worked on tangling on the box I carry my zentangle supplies in last night!

For more works in progress follow the button on the sidebar over to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

After: the light cream replaced by slightly darker tan.
OK, the backing is done... it does not look exactly like it did in the above photo because... as I was sewing on the last piece of that cream fabric that was bugging me so much I thought of one last place to look for that fabric that I was SUPPOSED to use on the back of this quilt. Good news, bad news... I found it. Because I found it I was obligated to replace all the cream... good that I found it (it was making me crazy that I could not locate it) and bad that I spent an additional 1.5 hours ripping and resewing. I think it looks better (the brown could be a touch warmer, but I didn't have the gingerbread fabric when I picked this out) and I am glad that I did it, but ugh, I hate doing stuff like that. Now I will have plenty of that same fabric to make binding with so I guess it is all good.

And this is just so you can see the little gingerbread guys better, they are almost, but not quite as cute as the snowmen.Too bad they were not printed straight on the fabric. That is the new tan fabric on the left... I thought it looked like snowballs when I bought it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Uncovering the design wall...

There has been a lot of reorganizing in the sewing room going on since the holidays in order to give my 11 year old a more organized space since half of it is his room. I hope to be able to eventually close the closet door which will free up a few more inches of the design wall! What a goal... 'close the closet door' (shakes head).

In the mean time I have a bunch of clear floor space and have managed to layer and baste a mid sized quilt top and backing (the Christmas Wreath from last month) and am working on the backing for the next quilt. This one is a pattern called The Winning Hand... it uses Card Tricks blocks and I used winterish fabrics including an adorable snowman print for the borders and corner stones. It was made in 2005 when I was teaching this pattern in the JoAnns Quilting 101 class.

I like to use up the left over pieces from the top in the backing these days so I made some blocks in order to extend a remnant piece of gingerbread men I bought for the back. I am going to force myself to ignore the fact that the rows of  gingerbread men are not straight with the grain of fabric... it is only the back of a quilt right? Now I need to figure out how to get everything to work together and be the right size. The toughest part is making the backing large enough without getting the blocks too near the edge where they might get cut off when lining everything up during the layering and basting process. It would be so much easier if you could just make the back exactly as big as the front and have everything perfectly lined up! I think I made too many blocks and will have some left over unless I just sort of throw them together - ugh, I hate left overs, especially cute ones. One of the blocks is the lable so that one certainly needs to go in. I also have lots more of the tone on tone cream shown down there by the windmill blocks in the lower right to fill in around the other blocks. I may put another stripe of that down the left side of those windmill blocks and trim some off that large gingerbread men section so I have a strip of that to go somewhere else to balance things out. Really I think I am obsessing about the quilt backs a little too much lately... I am sort of making another top without adding to the unquilted tops pile, and not buying new fabric and not wasting existing cute fabric at the same time!
All the elements together... minus two extra blocks that may not fit
this little guy is in a reflective mood... maybe  he sees the thermometer rising

For more of what other's are up to this week, check out Design Wall Monday over at Patchwork Times.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"Finish"... my new mantra...

I have perusing various blogs who are sponsoring UFO Challenges and Finsh-Alongs trying to decide if any of them are the kind of thing I think would encourage me to finish things this year. I was cleaning in the sewing room a few weeks ago and came across a legal pad with one piece of paper left and could imagine why I had kept one sheet of paper. It had a list, made long ago, of all of my unfinished projects at the time. Not much had changed, except for the list getting longer. How embarrassing, how depressing! Here is that amended list. Only a few things have been removed, most notably this quilt and a lot have been added!

Hearts of Gold crumb quilt 2011- needs borders
Modern Workshop jelly roll quilt 2011- needs applique borders finished
My Tweets applique quilt 2011- needs more blocks
Winter's Winning Hand top 64x52 2005 working on the backing now
Christmas Watercolor Wreath 2004 - layered and ready for quilting
Tulip Winning Hand top 39x39 2005
Hidden Wells top 1998
54:40 or Fight top 1999
Swapped Dresden Plate top 1999
Double Irish Chain top 90x110 1998
Shoe Makers Puzzle top 2000
Round Robin Book Case top 2000
Spring Rain Planet Patchwork Mystery top 2007
Confetti Stars top 2007
Quilt Interrupted Safari 2006
LQS BOM 2000 quilted, needs more quilting
LQS BOM 2001 Batik top queen size
LQS BOM 2001 my colorway - needs Broderie Perse finished on center medallion
LQS BOM 2002 Garden Flowers nearly finished
LQS BOM 2003 30's repro - have blocks and finishing kit
Jacob's Ladder floral, 2 color 56x56 2006
Waste HST quilt 2003
Yellow and Black roses medallion ????
One Block Wonder Fishes 2009
Spring Basket Wall Hanging medallion from long ago, worked on borders 2011
Bright Flowers applique 2011
Celtic knot medallion for wall hanging 2010
more I am not remembering right now I am sure...

Charity Quilts (most of these are complete with backings made already)
Bloomin' Buds
boys string sports quilt
pastel jewel box
jacobs ladder
3seam miracle block quilt
watermellon picnic quilt

I think I will chose one charity top and one or two other projects to complete in each quarter of this year and 'finish along' with the ladies over at Quilting in the Gap. For the first quarter of this year...

Hearts of Gold crumb quilt 2011- middle is done, it needs borders - most recent photo - sorry

Winter's Winning Hand top 64x52 2005 working on the backing now
Christmas Watercolor Wreath 2004 - layered and ready for quilting
boys string sports charity quilt
These WILL be finished, maybe more if I get ambitious!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

AAaand.... We're back! What's new in 2012?

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and beginning of the new year. I am still trying to get organized and ready for the start of the school term for my kiddos which starts next week. I have not done hardly any drawing since right before Christmas and I didn't sew at all there for a couple of weeks but have gotten back into that here recently and actually knocked out a few things that are now FINISHED (what a way to start the new year!) I also sat and made a UFO list... how sobering! I will post about those things at a later date. For now, lets talk about what is going on in the new year...the whole thing is a work in progress, right?

There is lots of exciting things happening this year that I want to participate in, but I am not sure I can do them all and I don't want to decide between them so for right now I will try to do everything and see what is working for me in a couple of months! (can you see me setting myself up for frustration here?)  The Diva hopefully will continue her weekly zentangle challenges on her blog - those are short and sweet and fun. I joined another zentangle-ish group on Yahoo that seems very active with the challenges and swaps and things and I hope to get more involved over there as well, although, to date I have joined, but not even managed to introduce myself yet!

On the quilting front I have 'pledged' to keep up with SewCalGal's Free Motion Quilt Challenge this year. I watched the tutorial for January today and think I can handle it. What I really need to do is make a little introspective journey through some of my old FMQ stuff and write a "before" post complete with photos so I can see next December where my skills started out this January. I also ran across Leah Day's Free Motion Quilt Along ... she is awesome and so talented... I may have to follow along over there as well. I may not fully participate as much, but I WILL be following along. I hope to also keep up with Design Wall Mondays over at Patchwork Times and WIP Wednesday's over at Freshly Pieced. There are also the UFO Challenge at Patchwork Times... I have to look at that since the goal this year is to FINISH a few things!

Speaking of which...a few things I am determined to finish...They are really works in progress and not technically UFOS yet since I am still currently working on them right? The first is my crumb quilt from the Crumb Along which just needs bordering and quilting (that part always comes later for me!). The "reveal" over at Jo's Country Junction is later this month on the 31st and I really need to get a move on if I am to finish the top by then. The next thing I need to keep working on is my Modern Workshop Moda quilt that I am appliqueing a border for... man is that slow but I am making progress... I am on border #3, have the vines and flowers basted on and that makes one border and about 80 leaves to go!  I also need to decide how many more Tweets blocks to applique and how I want to set them, and if I can get acceptable matching Kona background fabric since I didn't buy enough to begin with. I don't think I will do all of them and I may be crazy enough to try to add at least some of the applique border, although that could stretch the project out by a year or two (and I guess I should buy enough of the Kona if I find it to use as the border)! I refuse to even look at Erin's BOM 2012... I just can't get myself into another one right now! There are sundry other quilt tops I would like to actually QUILT this year. Hopefully I can plug away at the current applique projects and crank out some actual FINISHED tops this year. I MUST shift my focus away from piecing and onto quilting unless I win the lottery and can pay to have my tops finished. I can satisfy my yen for peicing by making pieced backs with the leftovers from the tops if I still have them.

 OK, I know, dull post with no photos. I will do better once the kids are back in school. In the meantime... I will thrill you with a small finish I managed... I have finally gotten sleeves on my heavily embellished Debbie Mumm seasonal wall hangings that were made...umm, in 2007? They are hanging on my wall as I type! All have trapunto stuffing in the house and the border elements are embroidered with floss, and in one case the 'apple' buttons were added. The details of the pictures are also embroidered... silver icicles, herringbone pine cones, french knot wool on the sheep, silk ribbon apples on the trees and lots of beads for flowers and leaves. Then they were all free motion quilted around the picture elements and I made up FMQ border designs appropriate to the season. For panels they are pretty cute and I am relieved to be able to actually hang the on the wall!  I may bite the bullet and make three sets of little button tabs and sew buttons on the back so I can hang one on top and button the rest to the bottom so they hang in a row. Right now the Winter and Spring are pinned together and they look nice in a column. However, I am considering them finished!
Winter -