Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Mail

A couple of weeks ago I received happy mail from Zenia over at A Quilted Passion. (Zenia by the way has started a new Saturday linkup party, check it out!)

vintage Dresden plates
a whole quilt top ready to long-arm!
Plus loads of "Sunbonnet Sues" cut out, and her overalled male counterpart (name?)

I had bought this fabric for a radio nerd (he is our dedicated and kind community radio station engineer, who wears very colorful shirts)... but hadn't made the quilt yet.

Geeky Chic Cassette by Timeless Treasure
I thought this fabric as backing and the multicolored front would hit it off. The top was so big I had to add a border of Irish green (Kona bluegrass) to extend it, The recipient has a good Irish last name:

I know it's Christmas, but that green's got me thinking lucky, lucky, lucky! Lucky to get my happy mail, lucky to have a longarm quilt, lucky to have a photographer who took these pictures in our library (lucky to have a beautiful space anytime I want to photograph quilts).

I folded the quilt up and presented it inside a pillowcase made of the Geeky Chic backing, but the recipient hasn't opened it up yet! He says he needs to clean up his apartment before he takes it home. Sheez. If the quilt inside its pillowcase is still in the studio when I get home from Christmas vacation, I'm going to roll up my sleeves and help with that apartment cleanup.

This is my new favorite meander vibe: angular, rather than rounded.

Anyway, I have to say it out loud. Zenia has been such a good quilting and quilt blog buddy. Go over to her blog A Quilted Passion! She's always got something going on over there. (And Zenia, expect some happy mail of your own, right after Christmas if not before!)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pickle Dish Finish!

I had been planning and working away at this wedding quilt for months. Orange for the groom, green for the bride. Who knew that Nature would cooperate to make its delivery date so compatible? If I had finished it on time, mid-October, I would have missed this photo op:

The autumn light is truly pickle-y! And here is the quilt on crunchy leaves:

And sitting in a patio chair:

The border, which my exchange student daughter helped me to pick, is Autumn Elegance: Pumpkin, by Jennifer Brinley of Studio E Fabrics. The pattern is from Kaffe Fassett's book, Quilt Romance.

After attending the wedding, I knew I had to have dinosaurs on the back. The bride wore brontosaurus earrings (well, maybe that was just the morning after--but still!) Nothing commercially available would satisfy....

...especially after I saw Virginia O's "Dare the Dinotastic" on Spoonflower.

It was a bit expensive, but worth every penny (Virginia O's other designs are pretty nifty, too).

No feeling quite so great as addressing a special package....

And getting it in the mail. Goodbye, Pickle Dish quilt. Have a great life reminding this couple every day how well their colors work together!

(special thanks to Sue Ellen Tuttle for her photography).

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pressure Drop Finish!

I blogged more than two months ago about starting a quilt I was calling Pressure Drop, based on a variation of the Drunkard's Path layout. After a few delays, I finally "finished it up"!

(I had a lot of fun putting patterns and colors together... and using up a couple of "ugly" or just plain difficult fabrics)

In a couple of places, I switched up the background and foreground:

For the back I used the Palette Builder to identify the Bella Solid that matched the best, "Mauve" (though it might be better called "Thistle"):

I tried some fashion quilt photography (wheelbarrow, asters, quilt):

I like asters, bees, monarchs better:

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sophia's quilt

It's been a long time since I posted. My sewing room is under renovation (yes, I should have posted on my husband's heroic efforts there. But there have been bummer-ish complications, like a shoddy skylight installation by workmen who have no pride, and their ignominious return to our house...3 times! Sigh). Most important, I have been busy welcoming our foreign exchange student from Egypt, Nadia.

This quilt is not for Nadia, but for Sophia, going off to college this week. Sophia (daughter of family friends) threw a party before school started to introduce Nadia to all the "cool kids" in the class below her (now seniors) at the high school: i.e., the smart ones, the ones that wouldn't make stupid remarks like "why aren't you wearing a towel on your head?" About 20 people showed up! As a result, Nadia's transition into her new school was a breeze. Yay, Sophia!

As the party was winding up, I casually asked Sophia's mom, "Just in case I have time to make a quilt in the next 10 days [before she goes to college], what are Sophia's colors? Her mom answered, "It's always been robin's egg blue, mostly, but now with a little gray, lavender, and gold thrown in." Sophia has a very well defined set of colors. And, marvel of marvels, scraps in these colors had recently been brought together in a laundry basket, and were queued up, waiting for an excuse to be made into a quilt! It was meant to be.

I had a lot of fun with this design: 9 x 9" crazy blocks, plus 5.5 x 9" rectangular blocks. I love crazy, and it worked quite well in the "low-volume" colors of Sophia's palette.

I already had a couple-three yards of the robin's egg blue (called "spray green" at Joann's); in fact, this was the color for the back of a recent quilt (posted here). I just needed to buy 2 more yards to finish the quilt. All the rest was from my scrap bins.

I love a scrappy quilt. Thanks to my friend Sue Ellen for photographing this in the lovely, well-lit space of our local public library. Next up: Nadia's quilt!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Softness and Light

I mentioned in an earlier post that my aunt had entered respite care. We have known she was ill for a year or two, but now there are no more ways to improve her condition. She lives halfway across the country, and we've never visited much, just kept up on facebook, at the holidays, and through notecards. So a lap quilt, I felt, was in order.

She has always loved pastels. I started by fishing out the pastels from my hundreds of pre-cut lozenges, which I made in a "productive" moment. From these I made a six-pointed star and then pieced together the pink background. You can see the ghost of tumbling blocks, as always with six-pointed stars, but I chose not to accentuate that.

Instead, I imported some of the goodness from my kitchen, where my husband has been nurturing monarch caterpillars into chrysalis and then butterfly form. He bought his first set of 65 tiny caterpillars from Monarch Watch about 1 month ago, and another batch is in the mail...

For a while there, all I could think about was the wonder of caterpillars gorging themselves on milkweed, forming a gold-crowned chrysalis, then emerging, as winged creatures...

I hoped to share that sense of wonder, poignancy, and even promise with my aunt.

 You may notice that the quilting is rather dense. It was a tight angular meander that produced the softest quilt I have ever produced! Is it true that tightly quilting results in a very soft and gentle hand?

The back of the quilt: pure Kaffe eye candy nectar!
UPDATE: My mom was visiting my aunt when the quilt arrived in the mail; in fact it was Mom's birthday! I received a sweet phone call from my aunt, who (my mom reports) took a nap taken under it that afternoon!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Rail Fence Quilt

The rail fence quilt described in my last post is done, all but the binding! It's 66" x 84", about right for a twin size bed.

I honestly don't know where this came from. All of a sudden, it was Saturday night last weekend, and I was making 2" wide strips in threes, and cutting 5" squares (in hindsight, I think 2.5" wide strips and 6.5" squares might make for a quicker "scrap" quilt).

I do know that earlier in the week, I had looked at this photo on my Pinterest patchwork board, and mentally worked out some dimensions for blocks.

But, as for choosing colors, it was all a blur. I used up 3 old shirts of my husband's. This must have been a big impetus. Get those shirts out (they don't sit well on the shelves)! Can you see them? Blue-gray with Hawaiian flowers, light gray with charcoal and blue flowers, and blue plaid:

What made it exciting was the use of this upholstery fabric I got for like $2 a yard on ebay. From a distance, it is intimidating:

But as I've heard it said, "no fabric is ugly; it just isn't cut into small-enough pieces." And those purply blues, sea greens, reds and greens (I avoided the yellow) made it a pleasure to arrange the blocks. On a closeup level, there's always something going on:

My only regret is that I didn't stand back enough. For some reason almost all of my "lights" aligned vertically (I was focusing on making sure the reds were okay).

But it's okay. How often do we look at a quilt from a distance, anyway? I'm giving this to a young man who is institutionalized for schizophrenia. I think it is soothing, manly, and interesting to spend time looking at. He is a kind, gentle person. 

I also think I'm going to crank out a few more rail fence quilts in the future!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Manic Monday

I am working on 4 projects at once. One, a green-and-orange pickle dish quilt for an October wedding. This one is under control. Paper piecing, bit by bit (sorry, no pic)

Two, the Pressure Drop quilt is growing. It is stalled out in my decision whether to change-up the backdrop to darks for more visual interest, or just keep it light (sorry about the picture quality). Please comment if you have an opinion.

At any rate, I used the Palette Builder (see post) and found a lovely mauve in Bella solids to use as the backing:

Next, a lap quilt for my aunt. This is sad: she has only a couple months to live. She loves pastels, so I whipped out this:

Obviously, this is my first priority, but I am waiting for a shipment of another yard of Kaffe Fassett's "Spray" in wine for the backing. I already have this yard of it (isn't it cheerful in a complex way?):

My aunt is being so brave, so wonderful. Meanwhile, we are hatching monarch butterflies at our home. I hope she doesn't mind a few butterflies on her quilt. Maybe a little corny, but I'm confident she'll accept it in the right spirit. Applique butterflies, tonight!

And, waiting for all these decisions to hatch and packages to arrive, I got a wild hair on Saturday and started a split rail fence. I sewed all day Sunday and now I have enough squares for a 72 x 72 quilt (meanwhile exhausting a couple of old shirts of my husband's, and all the sage green in my possession!)

Speaking of old shirts, well I had to make him some new, and last week pulled out my handy pattern. Must have made a dozen shirts for him since we've married!

No wonder I keep complaining that I don't have enough time for my sewing!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Palette Builder

The other day I read an article on hospice care, and how different people approach their final days. And it struck me that on my dying bed, I would like to be playing with swatches of fabrics and creating palettes for quilts, albeit ones I would never make (I do plenty of that at age 51!).

In short, I am a color freak and will be one til the day I die. So of course, I was thrilled to discover Palette Builder 2.1.

I've used palette generators before. Plug in a photo, it spits out a palette. Unfortunately, the palette it usually spits out is paint colors or perhaps Pantone colors. Not very helpful to a quilter. We need one that spits out Kona cotton colors.

And guess what, they have made such a palette generator! ("they" being a company called Play Craft). Follow this link and you'll come to this page:

Pressing the button leads to your computer files. So, then you load your image. Just for fun, I loaded an image of the cover of Cream's album, Disraeli Gears ("In a white room ... with black curtains ... near the station...")

At the top right, circled in red, is a drop-down menu. You can choose Kona Cottons, Bella Solids, "all solids", or Aurifil Threads. Here's the palette I got:

Now wait a minute! Where is the acid green? I said. Well, that's what the circled + button is for. You can ask the palette generator to go back and get more colors. You can also hover over any color you don't like, and press the - button that appears, to remove it. (As it so happens, both buttons are roughly speaking, acid green). 

Here is my Disraeli Gears palette, tweaked:

I could write more, but I know you color freaks out there are dying to try this. Just go to  Have fun and as always, play safe!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Pressure Drop

After the Swoon Quilt and all the anxiety involved in its 1.5-year gestation, I am glad to do a quilt just for the sake of it. And what better fabrics and colors to use than ones I have no investment in? Calm colors, easy colors, fabrics just sitting around.

The seed of the idea comes from this "Kilim" fabric from Benartex Left Bank collection that hasn't found its way into anything for the last two years. The name suggests it's based on carpet motifs, but it reminds me of wallpaper, which is exactly the purpose it serves in my quilt:

I only have 1 yard of it, so besides it and the stripes I've got these fabrics queued up to extend the idea (oh so casually), including my husband's old shirt:

Here are some of the highlight fabrics, including a beautiful Kaffe Fassett, a marsala print, a mauve, and one of my old favorites, the quickly dwindling toad fabric:

Most of these have been untouched oddballs because of their "off" colors. But they coexist well in this lazy day quilt. I made one of templates myself out of cardboard. I have to be careful not to shave it down as I cut!

The block is 9.5" and the drunkard's path template I used to make it finishes at 6" square.

I got the idea for the block from this antique quilt, from Eli Leon's collection of vintage quilts:

Unfortunately, I am not motivated enough to attempt anything so beautiful; I just want to cut and piece, cut and piece....