Monday, April 30, 2012

Slowing Down the Piecing

This last week has been very busy for me in the sewing room, and I finally decided to stop and take pictures of what I've been working on, even though nothing is even near being finished. The first set of pictures show a couple of blocks from the Orange Peel Class I took recently at the Cloth and Bobbin. I chose Teal and Grey as my colors and sewed enough to audition color schemes before I piece them together. The "teeth" are scrappy and the two choices I have are to go with a toned down center, or to make the quilt completely scrappy and random looking. 

First the more unified approach,

 Then the scrappy look,

 At the moment I am leaning toward limiting the color of the block centers to the light grey tones to give this quilt a very quiet, peaceful mood. I'll have to keep piecing a few more and do a mock up.  Foundation piecing is slow going for me, but I love the intricacy in the designs when I am done.

After I spent a few days on the Orange Peel blocks, I thought about using similar foundation piecing on Laura's quilt for the borders.  So I drafted a block and sewed up a few pieces to audition before I went much further. I think I like it.  It kind of looks like a fence going around the garden.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Slow Jamming the Student Loan

My blog isn't for politics because I want this place to be a bit of a refuge from silliness. I don't have cable in my home, so whatever TV my kids and I watch will be through Hulu. So I don't see much late night TV at all. But this morning, I watched a clip from the Jimmy Fallon show and almost spat out my coffee I laughed so hard.

When my son entered college, he was blessed to have received a 75% scholarship from the state of Florida because he maintained a 3.0 average. He's graduated now, and my daughter is entering the 9th grade. We live in Pennsylvania now and they don't have a program similar to Florida's. That gives me 4 years to figure out a way to pay for her college education. It's a huge crisis here, and a common topic of discussion when us moms get together to sew.  Whether or not you agree with the president's position, you'll enjoy this creative way of delivering his message to congress.  I love creativity.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Tying Up Loose Ends

It's nearing the end of April and it's time to hurry and get in the mail all of my block swap and round robin obligations. I spent Saturday morning turning out all kinds of sewing for the different quilters in my cyber circle and had fun doing it.  Here are a couple of sneak peeks going out to random people, who I won't identify here to keep things somewhat a mystery.

Sunday was the final class for the Orange Peel Block.  I do look forward to  completing it, but it'll have to wait a short while because I'm missing working on Laura's quilt. So back on the design wall that went, and I think I will draft a border using the Orange Peel with some of the center scraps.  I'll keep all posted.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Won Some Fabric!

The last time I won something, was at a ladies retreat 15 years ago, where I won a casserole dish someone bought at the dollar store. So when I received the email from Terri Cohen that I won her giveaway that she ran on her blog,, I was thrilled.  It may as well have been the lottery! Terri runs an online store, Quilternity, and put together a giveaway of 3 yards of Jill Gordon fabric.

These are such bright, large print fabrics! I see these as cut up as flower petals or feathers in a tropical bird applique. Or perhaps another stack and whack series of blocks to take advantage of the high contrasting colors.  I'm going to enjoy working with these, and I thank you Terri!  The whole experience of winning inspired me to plan my own giveaway once this blog receives a 1000 hits.  It could be soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Beautiful Minds

Last Wednesday the quilters who took the Strip Quilt class held at the  Cloth and Bobbin in Narberth got together to show off our quilts. I named this post "Beautiful Minds" because none of us could predict how our quilts would end up looking like until they were done, and the process wasn't easy at all. 

Yet each of us put together a different color combination and every quilt just sparkled.  

I wish so much that I could show you pictures of each of these.  But I borrowed a camera which I didn't know how to use, and didn't figure out how to operate until the session was almost over. 

There were so many amazing arrays of colors, but I am only able to show you the details of 2 of the quilts.  Such beautiful color combinations - 

I'm sure I will study these photos and maybe emulate some of these color choices in some of my own work.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ted Talk Thursday: Secrets

I remember hearing of Frank Warren and his website where almost half a million people have sent him handmade art postcards sharing their darkest secrets. He doesn't post them all, but the ones he post will make you fight back tears while you stifle a giggle.  I listened to him on today, and I've been thinking about secrets all afternoon. My favorite one he showed was of the Starbucks cup re-purposed as a postcard with the secret, "I serve decaf to those customers who make me angry." Oh, I would hate to make that person angry!

The most visited advertisement free website in the world, Frank's website has serves as a cathartic place for people to connect through shared insights they would never dream of saying out loud. I think I might send in a postcard.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Amputating A Quilt

They say that when one begins to machine quilt, to be patient, since it takes time to get good at it. They also say to start small, and master the basics first. I'm not patient. I'm working on it, but my usual speed is a steady plow ahead. After taking 1 class in machine quilting, and watching 1 hour of Leah Day YouTube videos, I thought I was ready to try anything.  So I grabbed my Chaos Theory quilt, and starting in the lower left corner, I proceeded to quilt a very elaborate pattern that made no sense at all and did terrible things to the design of the quilt. It was a mistake from every angle.

 After 3 hours of very intense quilting, I stopped, pulled that thing out of my sewing machine and gasped.  What have I done!?  I ruined my Chaos Theory Quilt! My stitches were so close together, even after an evening spent watching "We Bought A Zoo" a glass of red, and a seam ripper, all I could take apart was a 1x3 inch corner.  My son had plans to go to a shooting range with a friend the next day, so I asked him to take this piece with him.  It was so tightly quilted, I was convinced it was stronger than Kevlar and bullets would bounce off of it. I wanted him to test my theory, but he said no, he wouldn't do that.  

I went to bed that night thinking about that quilt, and dreamed of field surgeries at Gettysburg. When I woke up the next morning, I decided to amputate my quilt. As I took the bus into work, I thought about what the surgeons used for anesthesia during the Civil War and wondered, should I pour whiskey on my quilt before I operate? Maybe Magic Sizing? How would one anesthetize a quilt? When I came home that evening, I chopped off the corner of that quilt, and set about designing a prosthesis.

I went to my lab, and chose instead to build a quilt corner using stem cell research with the leftovers from the original quilt.  I knew how to do this, because I watched Grey's Anatomy that day, and Sandra Oh was growing all these hearts in petri dishes. I saw it on TV, so why not at home?

I grew one, but it didn't work out.

I grew another, and decided it would be a good fit. I configured a stump attachment system out of some broken jewelry I had lying about, then surgically attached the prosthetic quilt to its original body.

Since this quilt was destined to be a wall hanging from the onset, having the prosthetic quilt semi detached worked well with the final design.

As for the quilting design, I stuck with stitch in the ditch for this one.  It was tough. I used rubber gloves from the kitchen to get good traction, and decided that I would really need to look into either chopping a hole in my table to submerge my machine so that the sewing surface would be flush with the table, or shelling out some money to buy a sewing machine table. I'm already looking at the power tools. First I'll buy some health insurance.

Monday, April 2, 2012

And the Mystery Continues

So I toiled and struggled to sew this octagon in such a way that the center will lie perfectly flat.  It didn't.  I plan to take a class soon to learn how to do this.  Meanwhile, I resorted to my usual coverup, an appliqued circle.  I then cut the center out of the octagon, framed it in a yellow,which in retrospect should have been a bias cut, then appliqued it again to a roller coaster motif.

I took risks with the fabric choices and I'm not quite sure if I like it yet.  I like the composition, but the colors, well . . . we'll just see what happens. It's only 6 1/2" inches, and others will be adding to it. I'll find out in December when I receive the final product with everyone's contributions sewn on.  I like that.