Sunday, March 1, 2015

Slow Stitching the Baskets

It seems like there's been a few more 'no-reply' comments lately what I usually get. Please understand, if you're not getting a personal reply back from me in your e-mail, it's because I have no way to contact you! I know that Google Plus and Typepad don't always play nice with Blogger {what I use here} so just leave a email in the comment if you'd like a return comment.
Vertical Baskets quilt in the hoop
I've been steadily working my way through Vertical Baskets late in the evenings. At first I was a little dubious about how the stitching in the panel fabric would look alongside the basket stitching, but as you can see, all is well. My 'loose' pattern of stitching has definitely turned out to be a bit denser than intended {not sure how that always happens} but it's difficult to be upset at the end result.
Looking at the stitching pattern in the lighter backing fabric...
I'm using a light tan colored thread, hoping the color will be light enough to show stitching lines when looking close-up, but not so dark as to compete with the print in the dark brown panels. Yep! I'm liking the results of that too.

The color of the stitches doesn't show up very well in the back of the quilt, but I don't worry much about that. My backings are always clearance/sale or scrappy bits anyway. At the back of the quilt, the texture is much, much more important to me than actually seeing the stitches. I'm kinda strange that way.
So happy to see it all start to come together.....
It always takes me awhile to relax into a quilt and trust how my instincts are telling me to progress, so yes, it's fun to get this far and be happy with the results. I still can't 'see' the full stitching pattern in my mind prior to actually doing the work of implementing it, but now that I'm a good third of the way through the quilt, it's right in front of my eyes. Oh yes! This is even better than what I envisioned! You have to know by now that I always expect something less than wonderful with my own work.*wink

Linking up to Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching where the slow stuff is the good stuff....

Friday, February 27, 2015

A 2015 Finish!

Finally, a 2015 finish! Yay me!! I was so dreading getting this quilt washed after the last two quilts with red fabrics had bleeding issues. Well, needless to say it hindered me a bit from wanting to get the binding taken care of in a timely fashion.
Imagine a Quilt is finished!
Thankfully there were NO problems here. I had to wash in cold water first to get the blue wash-out markings to go away. And yes, I did throw in about six color catchers, but they weren't even that pink afterwards. More of a dirty brownish color which I assume was from a mixture of all the dyes? Lovely to see my cream fabrics unblemished by any floating dyes though!
All ready to be snuggled up with....
Really big sigh of relief . And it looks so cozy now. I am a bit addicted to the freestyle baptist fan pattern as you can see. It just seemed like the thing to do on the borders with all the applique. I know it gets in the way of reading the words, but really, only from a distance. Up close the stitching doesn't seem to be a distraction at all. The machine quilting on this quilt was only through the sashing and along the edges of the 9 patches. Everything else is hand quilting. Of course.
Loving that stitching....
You know me and my hand quilting obsession. It's terribly hard to make the decision to do any machine quilting, because I much prefer the look of hand quilting in the style of quilts I make. It's part of what makes me love the finished product.
And now facing the other direction...
This quilt is #3 in the 9-Patch Series I was working on in 2012. It's also the third one to be checked off the list. Wowsers am I making progress here.*wink
And the last picture, promise...
Okay, that's it. Enough about this quilt. I've got others begging for attention too....

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Working on Some Freehand Applique Letters

I've been steadily plugging along on my Fire quilt. The more I do, the less it feels like I'm fighting it. Does that make sense? Steady progress seems to free me up {emotionally} to work on other applique without feeling like I'm completely ditching the quilt that 'I don't wanna work on'.
Freehand applique letters
It also makes working on other applique feel much like a reward. Heather over at Happy Appliquer was talking about her Stonefields quilt that way and it just clicked for me, although in the reverse of course.
Drawing the letters onto the fabric...
Also, I've been arguing with myself about whether or not to keep posting progress pictures of the details of this particular quilt. My blog is definitely public and yet this feels so very personal. Should I keep it all secret and have a big bang-up reveal or just continue posting the 'hey! I really am making fabulous progress here' type of posts that make me feel like I'm truly gaining ground. And around and around I go until, yep.. here I go, posting the next little bitty bits of progress....
And another 'thought' ready to applique....
Originally I intended to do all the letters in reverse applique. But my big plans got deflated when  I realized that all my darker colors would shadow through the white and light gray fabrics in the background. Thus the need to draw out my letters, trace them onto fabric, snip the curves to bits, pin them {I just hate using glue}, and then stitch them on, all without cramping my fingers into arthritic claws. It's a process. Thankfully I'm making each 'thought' slightly larger than the last one which makes stitching ever so much easier. Just wait--I will survive and maybe even triumph over this difficult quilt.*wink
The start to a new quilt...
Which brings me to the new project. It's the Marsala one. Everything needed is already here in my quilt room so..... I'm justifying it by saying there's no extra money being spent. My brain felt like it was shriveling up and dying without something new to brighten things up. I. Am. Such. A. Pushover......

Monday, February 23, 2015

This Quilt Top Finish Feels Like a Good One

Lots of traveling the last couple days for the District girls basketball games. We won District champs! Yay! So on to Regionals for the next round. My niece is on the varsity team and my youngest daughter is swing, mostly sitting the bench for varsity. Still, we do like to support our kids even if it feels like there is NO time for the other important things in life--like quilting? lol
My Tree of Life quilt is a finished quilt top....
I did get the chance to sew the border fabric onto my Tree of Life quilt. I am really, really happy with the way it turned out! Such a leap of faith to work on those particular background fabrics in the blocks and think they might actually come together in a pleasing way! There are those that will probably feel that the dark print in the border dulled the rest of the quilt down, but I think it adds an almost old fashioned-like charm. It looks pretty fabulous draped over a bed too and that it the way it will likely get used the most around here.
Tree of Life sort of laying flat....
It's obviously a larger quilt as I couldn't find a place to get it stretched out on the floor properly. I'm always bumping up against the dining table legs these days and also, we have stuff sitting in every corner of our living room as we are still in the middle of our bathroom remodel. My husband moves very, very slowly with anything on 'my' list so I just hold my tongue best I can manage and do a little more hand quilting in the evening to happy myself up.*wink
A little closer look....
I also managed to squeeze in the binding on the quilt below late last week (shown with the binding sewed on by machine, but not yet hand stitched). It's a quilt an older cousin of mine made for a granddaughter just before she had a stroke. I volunteered to do the binding for her as recovery is going to take awhile and the granddaughter wants so badly to be using it. It was an easy bit of hand sewing one day while I sat with her to keep her company and help out in other ways.
My cousins very lovely quilt that I was helping out with...
It's sad to think of all the quilt projects we would be absolutely pining to work on if something happened to us, so it was a joy to work on. This week is shaping up to be as busy as the last, but for some reason I'm having trouble letting go of the idea that this project is one that I really want to jump into. I don't have the book {yet} and honestly, I'm almost having to slap my wrist to keep from ordering it....

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lots of Little Baskets and Some Crumb Block Play

The fire quilt has been something I've decided to push to the front of the line as far as applique priority, but it will not be the only thing I'm working on. Who can possibly do all applique, all of the time? Okay, definitely not me, but I did finally come to the realization that even if I can't be doing the actual stitching, there is some prep work that could probably be taken care of now too.
Little baskets in progress...
So I started working on prepping little baskets, of which I want plenty for this quilt {36, give or take a few}. I had a vague idea of some Blackbird Design 'Trick or Treat' style baskets. And then I thought, wowsers, I will be stitching FORever and a day if I do all the wording I want, lots of baskets and all the other applique stuff I'm thinking about. Seriously? Am I insane?
Much easier to cut the slits and then turn inside out than to cut
down to 1/4" and then try to turn it inside out...
And just before I nodded off to sleep the other night, an idea popped into my head that maybe, just maybe, I could simplify things for later with that as well. There are ways to do things and then, well, there are other ways. I remembered a method I tried years ago where you sew the (traced) applique shape face to face with some thin backing fabric {I used a interfacing material of some sort the time before}, sew along the marking, turn inside out, cut the back out, iron and then, wallah--stitching the finished side down to the quilt top should be a breeze at that point. Not great for precision work, but I'm easy. This is a story quilt after all!

Anyway, I mulled it over and came up with a little basket that has softly rounded corners. I had to make a cut-out for the inside of the basket handles, but other than that, all I will have to do is make sure the edges of the baskets are securely attached. No worrying about fraying edges and lots of time spent pinning etc. Yes, a bit of time spent now, but so much faster later on when I will be more pushed for time if I want to meet the July deadline. And all the backing fabric was leftover bits and pieces that should blend well with my quilt top fabric--very key for making it go faster with the stitching.
Little baskets ready for applique..
We shall see if it truly saves time later on, but for now, I'm trying very hard not to burn out on the lettering part of the quilt. Which means I do occasionally have to do something different. Like working on these crumb blocks?
Crumb Block Play
I completed enough {28 blocks} to make one more outside row and then put them on the wall just to see how it was coming along. Hmmm... I think it's worth sewing together and then maybe even taking time out to play on yet another day. There really something to be said for mindless sewing, especially when it's coming straight out of the scrap bin....

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Oh My, This Tree of Life of Mine

I've been working on setting my Tree of Life blocks together. I knew exactly which fabrics were needed for the setting triangles, but the problem was, there wasn't any large pieces except for in one particular fabric. And it was a woven. Uh oh, you know what that means! After cutting the one big square and then cutting twice on the diagonal, my cutting template was going to be a little wonky.
Tree of Life finally all put together...
I suppose I could have should have used a large piece of paper first, but you know me. Once a decision is reached, I am off and running. {Must be a result of letting go of the left side of the brain in order to fully embrace the artistic right--there is no easy melding of the two!} So I fussed and I fiddled with my odd bits of fabric, trying to make sure I had enough fabric to cut all of my setting triangles without using an excessive amount of any one fabric. Imagine my surprise when I noticed they did not all end up at exactly the same size and length. Hmm... Well, some quilts do need a little more finessing than others, don't they?

Choke, gasp, giggle... Looking at the picture below, you can see that I completed managed to forget about some of the sashing and had to deal with that as well. It gets worse. I totally forgot it in several end pieces. Yep. No idea how that can possibly happen, but I will say that sewing late in the evening is often prime time for trouble of this sort.
A big 'oops'...
But I did finally get it all ripped out and put back together properly.*sigh Just a little bit of stretch in some of my woven setting triangles though. Yes, yes, I pinned the dickens out of all the pieces, but sometimes this can happen with loosely woven fabrics and seam ripper (ahem!) assault. Hey, I was NOT in a good mood about this, okay?

I persevered and sewed it all together best I could, then ironed very carefully. I painstakingly trimmed the outside edges of the quilt once and then went back around trimming much closer for the second round. On the second round of trimming, I cut out a few little wobbles in the fabric caused from stretching and hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, that will take care of the worst of my troubles.
All put together!
One can only hope! The picture above does not show the quilt laying completely flat so it probably looks worse than it actually is. I had been thinking about the possibility of adding a border, and now with my setting triangle issues, I am settled on the idea. It positively needs one now just to hold things stable.
Auditioning a border fabric...
This black fabric with the little orange flowers suits me perfectly and luckily there is just enough! I love the combination of sweet little flower print, homespuns and scrappy trees. It all makes me very happy.
Ready for the next step!
Upon measuring the outside of my quilt, I also realized it does not come out anywhere close to 'square'. Adding this border will help to square it up and ensure the outside edge doesn't have the odd ripple after being quilted. Oh you have no idea how much this quilt top has made me laugh, all the fudging, fussing and fiddling in order to make it look reasonably well put together! Thankfully this in not my normal method of sewing or I would probably never finish anything at all. The name 'Tree of Life' should have been a harbinger of things to come for me with this quilt, as my life has never, ever been straightforward, simple or easy....

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Some Slow Stitching on a Nice Winters Day

Getting a little bit of hand quilting done on the Vertical Baskets quilt. Not a lot, but just enough to start seeing a good pattern emerge. The way I'm stitching directly next to the cable motif in the brown fabric should highlight that fabric especially. Fingers crossed that I'm right!
Vertical Baskets in the hoop
I'm trying not to get too crazy with the stitching on this one though, as I don't want it to be too stiff and formal looking. User friendly quilts are the mantra in this home.*wink
Working panel by panel...
So far I'm quilting one long panel at a time {totally different from what I normally do}, as radiating circles of stitching just doesn't seem very efficient this time around. I do love my square hoop for that that quality alone!
Very simple stitching pattern....
I'm quite enjoying the opportunity to get to know my lovely baskets again. Time for linking up to Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching. Hoping to get a lot more of this done this afternoon....
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