Friday, December 9, 2016

Deadlines...deadlines...



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Wow, have things been nuts lately.  Work has been insane, my hockey team is dead last in the NHL, the cold weather has really set in, a lot of my work colleagues are retiring, and between the election, Thanksgiving, and figuring out how Christmas is going to go, I haven’t  had a lot of time to post to the blog. I have been trying to get quilting time in; sadly, there just hasn’t been enough of it.  I’m hoping that’ll soon change – that things will slow down and I can refocus. 

Until then, here is what I’ve been working on.   

With some of the quilting started, I just might make my deadline...
I picked up a chunk of a quilt I had been working on (very off and on) for some time and thought I could try to run the race to the finish line and see if I could get a small quilt made for a friend who is retiring at the end of December.  Sheesh – back in November, it seemed like a good idea.  Forget that it’s a Double Wedding Ring pattern, which, for me, means sewing by hand, which translates into “slow-going”.  But, I figured out I was limited by fabric as I’d started this quilt with just fabrics I had from years ago, so there’s no getting more; once I run out, I run out.  I did run out of one fabric, and did manage to get enough rings pieced to at least make a square quilt.  I’d seen on another blog one gal set a Grandmother’s Flower Garden – with its uneven edges – on a border, so the edges would be square instead of hexagon-shaped, and I decided I could do a similar treatment with this quilt.  So, I was able to “extend” the quilt size by adding the border, then appliqueing the Double Wedding Ring quilt to the border.  I like how it came out and now am in the phase of quilting it.  Somehow, in my grand brain, I’m going to get this done before the end of the year (I won’t look at the calendar as it can be defeating at this point….). 

So, here’s some of the quilting – my brain is trying to figure out how to minimize starts and stops, since they do eat up time, but still have the quilt look good quilted.  I’m still working on that…
 
Quilting in the center is easy, but time consuming with a stop and start each time.  Those pesky melon shapes will require some thought to have continuous quilt lines...

On other notes, I’ve made some, albeit little progress, on my scrappy stars…the dark grey background won out the color wars.  


And the offset log cabin quilt is waiting for its day in the spotlight as well.  Soon…soon…your day will come. 



Now, back to getting some quilting done…
Thanks for stopping by!  Linking up with Myra at Busy Hands Quilts for Finished or Not Friday.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

When the Seasons Change…

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Autumn has certainly arrived here in Colorado.  The colorful splendor know in the state has eeked its way, quietly, into the metro area and is now showing off its stunning plume of golds, reds, and oranges  backed against the brilliant Colorado blue sky.  Truly, if you don't stop and soak it in, you will miss it. In our hustle and bustle world, it's easy to overlook the colors and take what Autumn is offering for granted.  But, as I found myself coming home after a trip to a local quilt guild show, I found  myself soaking in the colors of the sunny drive, listening to Rush, while following a 1966 Ford Mustang GT-350 Shelby down the road.  Aahhh....what could be finer?  I'm not sure....

The aspen showing off near Kenosha Pass in central Colorado.

So wonderful the colors that it's inspired me to make a quilt to capture the bountiful diversity that Autumn has to offer.  I have ideas in my head...as usual, it might be a while until I get those ideas down into a quilt, but rest assured, the ideas will nag at me until I do something with them.

What a blue sky with the fabulous yellow contrast.  This is why I love living in this state!


Meanwhile, I have to share a few items from the Longmont Quilt Guild show.  Lots of beautiful quilts, but a few stuck out as I perused the assembly.  Let me first say that I like quilts with motion; quilts that make your eye keep looking around.  So, that probably influences the patterns that strike a chord. 

Here's a modern-style quilt that has a lot of curves…and I like curves; I find them challenging.  I think this is one I may try to make for myself sometime. 



This one I found interesting as it had a lot of origami-style blocks with folded fabric.  A very simply-colored quilt with just yellow and white, but quite unique in the way each of the blocks was constructed.  Cool concepts…



And, I found a great example of “graffiti quilting”.  This quilt, the maker noted, was just waiting to be quilted, and she found it a great canvas to just have fun with the quilting.  She did a great job on it – the quilting was really cool!



And one of my favorites of the whole show – the dragonflies.  I loved this quilt.  The movement in it was amazing, and what the photo kind of doesn’t show is that these are Kaffee Fasset fabrics which have been “silvered” with a fabric paint and it gave the quilt an iridescent glow.  Plus, I loved the flow of the quilting…just amazing and inspiring for me.



Hopefully work will slow down and allow me a few days off so I can spend some more time quilting.  I’m making slow progress on various quilts, but nothing monumental to show.  Hope you enjoyed seeing what others are doing…and hope you’re finding inspiration and finding time to quilt.

I'll be linking up with friends and Myra over at Busy Hands Quilts later this week...


Cheers!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Scrap-tastic!

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Sometimes we all need a bit of a break, even from the things we love to do.  After being so focused for the first 8-months of the year, trying to get quilts done for various deadlines, I think I just needed to have some down time.  Seems a common theme, as I’ve read others’ blogs.  My “break” came in the form of taking a trip for a relative’s wedding.  Now, while I spent much of my vacation helping out with the wedding, it was time spent away from feeling that I had another quilting deadline to meet.  That break helped my brain calm down and re-focus on some of the various projects that I’d put on hold.  When I came back to my quilting, I found myself finding a happy place again. 

Finally I’ve been able to get time in to play, an oh what a smile it put on my face.
Being inspired by the likes of Victoria Findlay Wolfe and her suggestion that we spend 15-minutes “playing” by just piecing scraps together got me to start working on this fun-filled 6-pointed star.

One scrappy star which I'm currently auditioning background fabrics to use.  (This just makes me smile!)

Now, while the technique really is not really new, it does let the mind just relax and produces some fun combinations.  I have antique quilts  - one of my aunt’s and one from my husband’s grandparents – which both used the sewing together of scraps to make larger pieces of which to cut shapes to make into a quilt block.  So, here’s how I created the scrappy pieces…

Start with a bag of scraps, and pick out any scrap you like.  I grabbed this red triangle…that’s my start.


Then, I grabbed this fun black-and-white fabric that would easily combine with the red scrap.  Sew one side, then press. (I used a standard 1/4" seam) 


Go back into your scraps and pick another…and stitch away.  Each time, it helps to set the seam with the iron, then press the fabric to one side.

I gave this a quick audition and I liked it, so I attached the hot pink scrap to the red & black scrap pieces.

Trim off the seam to be a ¼” seam.  Now, just keep on going until you have enough scraps sewn together to cut a piece for the block. My tip is this - don't spend too much time "auditioning" scraps to use; the more spontaneous, the better.

Just tidying up the seam allowance to the 1/4" standard.  


If you happen to get a wonky edge, then just create yourself a straight line by trimming the piece were necessary.   That’s what I did here.  I had an L-shape and I just cut off a chunk to eliminate the L-shape.

I had a wonky edge where the red scrap and the retro scrap came together in almost an "L" shape.
So, I lopped off the pieces to give me a straight edge to add a new scrap to.  

I had enough scraps sewn together to cut the block piece.  In this, I’m cutting a 5 ½” diamond using Jaybird’s quilt ruler (that makes it really easy).   While you are working on positioning the ruler on the scrappy fabric before cutting, be aware of where the points land; you want the points not to land directly on a seam.  So, take your time and just be aware of where you are placing the ruler, before you cut.  Kind of like the old adage, “Measure twice, cut once”. 
You can see where I sewed the pink scrap to the wonky edge which I cut (above).
Now, I have a large enough piece of fabric, so I can cut the piece I want for my star.

Once you have the diamond cut, you’re one-sixth of the way there.  Now, keep on going…

So, here's one-sixth of the next star that I'll assemble.
This is so fun and spontaneous that you just don't know how it's going to turn out. 

I’ll work on getting the star sewn together, but, I’m still trying to decide if I want a patterned background or not.  I’m leaning towards “not”, because I don’t want the block to become too busy, and if I use a solid background, the emphasis really focuses on the scrappy stars.  We’ll see where I land.


I’m having so much fun with this technique.  One piece of advice – and why I understand Victoria says to just take 15 minutes to play – seriously, after 15 minutes, your spontaneity fades and you find yourself naturally trying to “match” fabrics.  By just playing for 15 minutes or so, you focus less on that need to match fabrics and you actually wind up with something very spontaneous and energetic.  

Hope you try this sometime...and have as much fun as I'm having.

Linking up with friends at the various link parties on the right.

Keep Calm and Quilt On 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Finish - Quilts for Pulse



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I finally finished my contribution for the Pulse victims.  It’s an unexpected journey for me.  It started with Spoonflower– the “print your own designs on fabric” website and a challenge by our local quilt museum about political quilts which I was going to try to make a quilt to enter.  The creative mind is an odd thing, though.  I stewed on an idea for the politically-themed quilt.  I even had some fabric printed to go into that politically-themed quilt.  Here it is – words of peace and harmony.  

 
The fabric I designed, originally for a politically-themed quilt...


While my brain came up with an idea, my creative mind just didn’t feel energized enough to actually start the quilt.  So, my idea lay dormant, and the fabric I’d printed up specifically for the politically-themed quilt went into the “stash”, to hang out with the other misfit toys. 

Maybe it’s my disdain for the political system these days that drove me to not want to make a quilt that reflected my political ideas, or maybe, I feel like showing support for those folks who lost loved ones in the Pulse shootings might have a bigger impact in someone’s life than a politically-themed quilt would. 

So, when the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild put out a call for quilts, I felt compelled to respond.  In part, I guess you could say making this quilt is a bit of a political quilt as it expresses my thoughts for the tragic and senseless violence which some folks in our country think is acceptable.  It’s not.  And, I think that kindness, love, and peace can prevail.  And it seems the outpouring of quilts from quilters (I heard there’s about 400+ quilts already) shows that others might think the same.  
 
Some of the words I quilted into the quilt...peace, love, & hope...

And, a lot of this quilt just came so easily – as if I was meant to make it – and someone was meant to receive it.  The pattern for the heart just came to me so quickly that I drafted the pattern in an evening. I quilted them all with modified feathers.




Seven hearts – one for each day of the week to let the recipient know he/she is surrounded by love and caring every day.  And the idea to surround the hearts with a string quilt pattern just seemed to make sense.  And the quilt squared so easily and quickly.  It’s the fastest I’ve ever made a quilt, too. The fact that this quilt came together so quickly leads me to believe there’s something else driving the process.  But, I digress…

 
So, the fabric I created to make a political quilt, still kind of did, but I think the quilt that came out of this will hopefully let one of the victims – or victims' family – know that love can prevail, and that there are good, caring people out there, and that we won’t forget what happened.
Some of the quilting I did in the border.  One side had these flourishes; the other side has words of encouragement.


So, off it goes to Orlando.  I wish it well, and hope the recipient will enjoy it and know that people do care.


Linking up with Lorna @ SewFreshQuilts...

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Appreciating the Works of Others

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It’s that time of year, and I do enjoy it.  Late July to early August means the Boulder County Fair is going on and they usually have a very interesting and diverse showing of quilts in the open class.  This year, the Longmont Quilt Guild made a concerted effort to get more quilts entered, and so the showing was larger than usual.  I wasn't able to finish any quilts last year to enter, and this year I managed to get two quilts entered and, to my surprise, the quilt my sister and I made jointly placed well. I’ve been showing bits and pieces as I quilted it, and my sister had no idea that I was going to enter the quilt (Surprise!).    Since the quilts are hanging from the rafters, it’s hard to see what honors we took, but it looked like a reserve grand champion and the quilt garnered a “Best of” designation from the Longmont Quilt Guild (one of two awards the Guild bestows).  Pretty good, I thought, especially considering the competition.   
Here's the finished quilt...I managed to get it all finished just before the fair, after my sister pieced the majority of it.  I'm pretty proud of it as it came out really nice.  
  

There were some really amazing quilts entered…

So, I thought I’d share some of the quilts from the exhibits.  There were some interesting ones and ones, that even if you didn’t like the style, you have to appreciate the work that went into them. Guess I’m just that way with quilts.  They are, in fact, art.  And, art is subjective.  But behind every artist there is a reason or an influence which makes us assemble a quilt in the colors, the pattern (or lack of pattern), and ultimately the quilting itself.  I appreciate the different visions various quilters have and I always try to take away what I like and what I can use in a future quilt.  After all, we are a culmination of our assorted experiences, and those experiences culminate in some fantastic quilts. 

I loved this quilt for the colors - that orange and gray is really calming to me.  Plus, I love circular designs.  The smaller rounds are yo-yo's added on.

I love the basic colors used here, and the scrappiness, plus the string method of construction.  Very striking and fun to look at to see if you have any of the same black and white fabrics.
This modern Dresden Plate is colorful and fun.  I just liked the  total random use of color.  I'd like to try this with other patterns.

I'm a sucker for leaves - always love them.  The variety in this quilt is fun and playful and I liked its free-form.  
This quilt took some top prizes.  The whole quilt was made from the 1930's reproduction fabric and the flowers are appliqued.  I think what's impressive about this quilt is the actual quilting...you had to look twice to decide it was quilted by a machine.  The quilting was very complimentary to the quilt design.
This was another scrappy quilt and what I like about it - other than the quilting - was the random pop of bright, large-print fabrics.  And, as with art, some love it and others don't.  A friend I was with didn't care for it, but I thought it was great.
My cropping is bad; the world actually is round.  This was a quilt made of entirely 1 1/2" squares, and it was awesome to look at from far away.  A quilt like this would drive me crazy to put together...but, that being said, I'd like to try making a pixelated quilt.  They are rather fun and interesting.
Hope you enjoyed seeing these.  Linking up with other folks - Myra and Finished or Not Fridays at Busy Hands Quilts, and Sarah @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict ...do enjoy everyone's posts.  More on the heart quilt next time as I start the quilting process...yeah! Have fun finding inspiration and making it your own.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Random Musings in the Summertime

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Wow, has life been busy lately...  I don’t know where our summer is going, but it’s moving along very quickly.  The hot temperatures aren’t helping much but the tomatoes growing in the backyard.  I guess, though, I’ll take the thought of fresh tomatoes coming on soon over a snowy, blizzardy day.

I have managed to get some quilting time in, and am making some progress on a few items.  Luckily, the basement stays cooler and it’s a great place to hang out and work on quilting while the sun is beating down on the outside world.

The quilting is all done on the columbine quilt!  Hoo-rah!  I finally got the purple thread in that I was waiting for, and got the purple medallions quilted.  I love how this came out!  I think this really helps set off the quilt and adds interest to the outer fringes of the quilt. 


I did a lot of doodling to come up with the design.  I’m surprised how much doodling helps you contain your thoughts and think about the sewing pattern to get what you envision.  Now to stitching on the binding.  I sew the top by machine, then flip it to the back and stitch it by hand.



I know the faster way is to stitch by machine, but I’ve always liked this method – tedious as it is – because it just results in a cleaner look. That’s just my opinion.  We all do what works best for each of us, and that’s O.K.


I’ve made progress on my heart quilt.  I am trying to get this done to send to the Florida Modern Quilt Guild by their September 15th deadline.  



I thought it’d be more fun to just do one heart in each color and then let the colors stand out for themselves amongst grays and whites.  It took me a while to figure out the math for the square blocks. Sure, I probably could have gone somewhere on the internet and found a cheat sheet, but I wanted to try to understand it for myself.  I knew I wanted a 12” finished square, but I wanted to create four triangles that would comprise the square.  Cut individually, then sewn back together, I needed the piece to finish at 12”.  So, off I went using Pythagorean’s Theorem and figured out the hypotenuse of the triangle, and then figured out the finished height of the strip set I’d be putting together to then cut the triangles.  After stewing on that for a few days, I finally figured it out and off I went.  



I like how the triangle blocks are interacting with the heart blocks and I’m starting to get excited to see the quilt come together. Still quite a bit of sewing to do, and trying to get the placement of the triangles right, but we all try to find even a precious few minutes to do some sewing or block rearranging.  And, those 15 minutes start adding up in progress.  Which reminds me, I think it’s Victoria Findlay Wolfe who challenges all of us to just spend 15 minutes free-piecing.  I’ve started to do that in order to get another quilt going made of scraps that I just can't decide to throw away.  I’ll get some pictures and start sharing that.  Right now, though, the heart quilt is taking priority.


I hope you’re all finding 15 minutes here and there to do some quilting.  Over even just a short time, you can sure see your progress emerge.  

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Finish, Two Hearts, and Progress.

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It’s been hot here in Colorado, and with the heat comes the retreat to the basement where the air is cool.  Of course, all that hanging out in the cool air lends itself for some quilting time, until the sun starts retreating and we can pop our heads out of our prairie dog holes and be outside without crisping up like a strip of bacon.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been diligently trying to get at least one quilt finished for entry into one of our local county fairs.  Being part of 4-H as a kid, I still have an enjoyment for the county fairs and to see what others have been busy working on. Plus, you get comments back on your judged quilts, so you can continue to improve your quilting skills.

My finish is the quilt for a wedding, happening in late August.  All complete (well, except for a tag on the back), this one is ready to enter into the fair.  I really like how the border/edges came out in this quilt.  We’d gotten the invites for the wedding and the colors were pink and teal…so, I think the quilt colors will fit in nicely (whew!). 
Finally a finish!  The wedding quilt is ready to go...all it needs is a name and a label on the back.  
 
A close up of some of the quilting.  I was pretty happy with how the quilting turned out.

With the shooting in Orlando, I’d seen on others' blogs that the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild has an effort to collect either quilt squares or an entire quilt to give to victims & their families and possibly have enough to give to first responders.  The incident was a horrible event that we shouldn’t have to keep reliving in this country…so I was inspired to work on some heart blocks, and see if I could make enough to get a quilt made by their deadline of September 15, 2016.  If you’re interested, you can check them out at their website

  
http://theorlandomodernquiltguild.blogspot.com/

So, here are two blocks I managed to get made.  They’re my own design, using my favorite quilter’s technique (Ruth B. McDowell).  I have to admit, when I made the first one (the red one), it put quite the smile on my face as it felt cheerful.  So, I’m trying to make one in each colorway (red, blue, green, purple, etc…).  Hopefully I can get enough made to get a quilt done for the guild.




And now for progress on the purple & green quilt…I’ve managed to make a fair amount of progress and with a deadline looming, some of the holiday weekend will surely be spent doing some quilting.  You know, some days when your heart just isn’t in it, you just shouldn’t force it.  I forced it not long ago – went down to quilt when my heart really wanted to something else, and the universe let me know it.  I had nothing but tension problems and issues.  Ripped a bunch out and decided to walk away.  After a break, I think I’ll be ready to tackle the rest.  Here’s my current progress…almost done…





Whatever your cause, or whatever your purpose, enjoy what you do and let the smiles warm your face and heart.  It really is amazing to see how much the quilting world puts forth their hearts to so many.  That alone gives me some renewed faith in mankind.  I'm linking up with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts...Ciao!