Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pickle Dish a Completed Top!

Wowsers... it's official. My Pickle Dish Insanity is finally a completed quilt top! The days have been overcast and a bit gloomy at times so I'm having a terrible time getting a full-on shot of the entire quilt. Guess you'll have to make to with the pictures that didn't get sent to delete button paradise!
Pickle Dish Insanity
I wondered for a long time whether or not the strippy side borders would make it into this particular quilt. They seemed a bit over the top, but as soon as the inside of the quilt was finished, it became obvious why the strips were included. Without them, the pickle dishes looked unconstrained and actually, perhaps a bit lost. Maybe if the quilt wasn't so scrappy, the borders wouldn't be necessary?
A few rumples, but nothing that won't quilt out...
This quilt was started in December of 2012 after realizing that I'd basically pulled the same stack of fabrics out of my totes for the third time. Hmm.. Time to put those pieces together and see what they are wanting to tell me! On impulse I started cutting the pieces for this crazy, insane, momentous quilt. It just seemed like the right time and perhaps even, the right fabrics? although I didn't stop to agonize over that as I figured it'd be hard to ruin these particular fabrics.
Still so amazed that I got this far!
The pickle dish/wedding ring pattern is one that I've loved and adored forever, but been completely terrified to make. For Christmas of 1998, my mom gave me a gift certificate for a class on making wedding ring quilts. Okay. Wow! After the excitement tapered off I quickly broke out in cold chills because, well... 1. Along with the gift certificate was my very first rotary cutting mat and rotary cutter and little 'ol me with zero experience at using them. 2. The class(es) were an hour away. At night. In January. And I had a junker car, little money for fuel and we do live in snow country. Whew....  3. Then there was the little matter of having a baby less than a year old and me a nursing mother. I could not even fathom how that would work for three or four 2-hr. classes plus the hour drive both directions.

I might have cried about it a little. Pulled my hair. And it didn't help matters that my entire family thought I was nuts to not just jump all over the opportunity. Can anyone say 'overwhelmed?' I don't dive into the deep end people unless I know how to swim!! Those were just the immediate things that I started panicking about, but almost every quilter alive will sympathize with the fact that I was NOT at all ready to be taking a wedding ring class with my current level of experience. It still makes me laugh. Needless to say, I had to cancel my gift certificate and buy fabric instead. My mom apologized for her enthusiasm and I dealt with a mishmash of emotion ranging from a huge amount of relief to bitter disappointment.
Love the look of the scrappy melons
So it's always been in the back of my mind. On my quilty bucket list. Something to climb up to and conquer! You know, with a little bit of baggage to make things even more interesting.*wink
The scary hairy part of cutting off the extra bits...
After the quilt top was together, then I still had to cut the extra bits off the appliqued squares. I started doing that at night and then immediately realized that my middle aged eyes were not very trustworthy with a pair of scissors and about a million hours of sewing work. So crazy to take a quilt this complicated and then say, hey! How bout you whack at it with a pair of scissors now? lol  But now this part is done and I'm so very happy. You really have no idea unless maybe you're a quilter too.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall 2014 Fall Bloggers Quilt Festival: Broken Dishes Part Deux

I was unsure where to best place Broken Dishes Part Deux in the Blogger's Quilt Festival, but finally settled on the large quilt category. I love how Amy sets up so many different categories for us to choose from. It's almost like going to several different quilt shows at once, only we don't have to worry about combing our hair or wearing matching socks.
Broken Dishes Part Deux
This is the quilt that I finished up for my daughters graduation back in June. It was actually started back in the spring of 2012 though. First, I had a stack of interesting {for me} fabrics challenging me to try and make something interesting out of them. They were an odd color combination, funky prints and definitely not falling within my normal comfort zone at all. But I couldn't quite stuff them back in the totes. They beckoned and promised really good things if I could find the right key. One day I stumbled across an antiquish looking quilt in a Fon's & Porter's Love of Quilting magazine, drooled a little and then bingo! Lights went on and, well... it's pretty obvious what happened next.
On the floor...
Once I got to the sashing {don't you just love that wide, bold sashing?}, it seemed obvious to go with a good black fabric. Some people immediately think white with these colors, but not me. Black is just so much fun to work with. Kind of moody, but usually well worth the effort.

Then I struggled with the cornerstones. Mixed colors? Gray? Hot pink? Finally I settled on a stack of mixed black squares that I had exchanged with my mother years ago for squares of a different color altogether. Because all the blacks are prints--a mix of black with white or gray--they come off as a lovely gray right there at the edges of the brighter blocks. Wonderful how they make the pieced blocks 'pop' next to that black sashing and yet still stay firmly in the background of the quilt.
Draped over the railing...
Although I didn't originally 'make' this quilt for my daughter, it was an obvious choice to finish up and give to her as a gift. Because of the time restraints, I machine quilted in the ditch at the edge of every block plus halfway through the sashing. Then I went back and shadow quilted on the inside of the broken dishes. I tried to be really sneaky in a right-out-in-the-open sort of way and it mostly worked. Because I'm always transitioning from one quilt to the next, she never was sure if this one was for her {even though she made plenty of noises about wanting it} until she saw it in her gift bag. Then her face lit up and I could tell she was absolutely thrilled to have it.
A bit closer look...
Yay! And she has used it every single day since. Gotta love when a quilt is well loved and used well! It's an old fashioned pattern, but I think it made the leap to the more modern prints very well. Very fun to make a more graphic looking quilt for once too.

If you're interested in my first entry into the Blogger's Quilt Festival, you can also read here. It's a different sort of quilt altogether!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall 2014 Blogger's Quilt Festival: Worry Baskets

It's that time of year again! Time to join in on the fun over at Blogger's Quilt Festival and spend countless hours checking out all the lovely entries. I thought this brand new finish would be a good quilt to enter in the Applique Quilts as that part took the very longest for me.
Worry Baskets is done!
I started this quilt back in the fall of 2009 and spent the next three years sporadically stitching the baskets. I kept a handwork bag ready to go and found myself stitching at my kids games and practices, while waiting on my husband at hardware stores, while I had overnight guests and every other moment I wanted to keep my hands busy or my mind quiet.
Completely finished...
It is my very first Forever type project and I quickly realized that it also became my 'in between' busy work. Whenever I was waiting for another quilt to simmer or didn't want to do the next phase on some quilt or other, this was often my fall back. With 292 baskets in the quilt, it almost seemed inconceivable to actually ever finish up, but of course it did eventually happen. Amazing how that happens! There was almost no pressure involved in sitting down and stitching a meager  two or three baskets although I kept a counter on my blog during those months and ahem, years! of stitching the baskets. It really motivated me to keep on going just knowing that there was ongoing progress from month to month.
With so many different fabrics in it...
And yes, there was some despair involved in the making in spite of my best intentions. I learned that forever type projects really do take forever and sometimes you feel like a crazy, obsessed loon as you pull your ongoing project out in front of your friends and family yet again. And then again. And then Again. At times it seemed almost embarrassing to still be working on it, but along with that thought came a kind of steely defiance too. Will you think I'm strange when I say there is almost a palpable feeling of dedication stitched directly into the fiber of my quilt?

I also think it's extremely important to work on lots of other quilt projects during the making of this type of quilt. If we don't occasionally get to finish up a quilt {down to the binding}, then I we slowly lose our confidence that it can actually happen some sweet day. And then our minds can snap and ugly things will happen in the quilting room.*wink
And a few repeats...
I took a break from my Worry Baskets after putting the top together and then pulled it out this June to start the quilting. Hand quilting of course. What else would I be satisfied with after all that needleturn applique? I used a gold colored hand quilting thread that (hopefully) gives it a lovely textured look without overpowering any of the baskets. I stitched very simply with a cross hatch pattern in the plain fabric and nine patch blocks, plus echo stitching on the inside of  every appliqued basket. I also stitched just inside the seam on every other basket block to round things out and make sure there was plenty of stitches throughout.
It looks good draped and folded and even rolled up...
So here I am at a finish. Finally! Woohoo! It's done, it's done, it's DONE!  I don't think my family even has a clue how manically happy I am about this particular finish. It almost feels like I gave birth. lol  And it was so much fun to wash up and ogle the gorgeous crinklyness. I love it. Can I say that? Just L.O.V.E. it.
It makes me sort of melt inside that I made it. Me. I did that!
You'll notice there is absolutely nothing perfect about this quilt. I dare you to look. I struggled initially with the little squares on the inside of the baskets so if you look close, you'll definitely see some rounded ones.*smile  The binding walks right over the top of some of the black fleur d 'lis triangles.*shrug  Some baskets are not exactly centered in the block.*yawn  This is the quilt that I poured my worries into. That I dared myself to make something beautiful out of what was already in my stash and not buy new. That I conquered my fears about never making anything 'real' and significant. It owns me and I really, really love it. It's a good finish.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My First Tree of Life Blocks

You know me, always jumping around from quilt to quilt. I've been sewing a bit here and there on the half square triangles and finally decided to put a couple trees up on the wall. I drew my own pattern for the trunk of the trees as I couldn't find one I liked well enough to make eighteen of.
Tree of Life on the wall
Each tree will have leaves in at least two colors, so I will have to play with the layout each time to try and get a good balance. The background is very busy {I was so afraid of that!}, but I'm trying not to freak out too much. Yet. It's always best to wait and panic later after I see them all together in their unbridled busyness.*wink
Do you see it?
This lovely tree had a snafu. I almost left it just the way it was, but when it went up on the wall with the others, I didn't like the way it looked at all. Much too lopsided. Plus, It's one of the very first I've put together. Better learn how to make it properly first huh?
Oops!
It was an easy fix although I don't like my new Clover seam ripper at all. Guess I'll have to upgrade once again. Yippee skippee. So very exciting to buy new seam rippers.... Anyway, Now I have my first three Tree of Life blocks done and up on the wall! Not as vibrant as I thought they might be, but I might just like them anyway. Maybe. Reserving judgement on that until I see more of them together. lol  It's actually quite difficult for me to work with 'white' background fabrics vs. say a cream or a tan as the blocks don't 'blend' like I'm accustomed to. I'm working hard to overcome this instinctive aversion and break out of my box a little.
My first 3 Tree of Life blocks
More half square triangles to sew together with this easy peasy method. I'm not squaring them up at all, just letting the chips tips fall where they may. If I get a little bit of imperfection out of it, then all will be good.
Sewing the hst's
Now it's time to do a little grocery shopping and stock up for another busy weekend with family! Hopefully I'll have enough time to get a post up for the Bloggers Quilt Festival as well. It's only the best online quilt show around!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Little Bits of My Weekend

I had a lot of company and busy things all weekend long. Family in from out of town helping out on mom and dad's house etc. I meant to get started on the handwork part of the binding for Worry Baskets this weekend, but kept passing it by. Binding is enjoyable, but I need to be in the right mood.
Worry Baskets still waiting for the stitching on the binding...
Apparently, it seemed easier to pick up my hand quilting late in the evenings instead of the binding. I'm right up to the borders on most of the quilt now which feels amazing. I almost can't make myself quit sometimes, but sleep is kind of important too.That's the hard part of doing my hand quilting at night. I always run out of time....
Big Stitch quilting on Scrap Basket #2
We had a big family dinner at our house once again. This is getting to be a regular event these days. We now have the biggest dining room [and table} of all our local family, seating 10 people--or rather 10 adults--as we always shuffle the kids off to the smaller kitchen table or wherever else they can catch a bite. It works for the way my siblings have been coming to visit mom and dad, in smaller groups for once instead of like the Holidays where they usually come en masse. Plus, we don't always have all of the local siblings to dinner at the same time or we have no choice except to eat buffet style. Which we have done and will do again. Anyone familiar with large families know that you don't always get to cozy up to the dinner table together! But... perhaps we were just spoiled because my mom and dads house had a dinner table that could seat about 14-15 people comfortably. Then during the holidays, my dad could arrange things so it would seat 20. Lots of good memories at that table....
Carrot Cake Cheesecake
Anyway, for once I wasn't trying to figure out the main part of the meal and got relegated to desserts. Of course, being me, I panicked anyway. My initial reaction was just to buy icecream and call it good, but that seems so lazy! Finally, I settled on some of the desserts that I know and love and can depend on to turn out for me almost every time without fail.
Banana Crunch Cake
They got devoured and then some of us went back for seconds later. Who can resist the fall baking?
Pumpkin Roll
And then I finally made it back over to mom's to check out her latest haul. Still having envelopes/packages arrive! I wish I could convey how happy this outpouring of love and kindness has meant to her {and to me}. Thank you so very much to everyone who has taken the time to be a part of this. It's been a beautiful thing to see.
The latest Happy Mail!
These latest parcels are from California, Oregon, Louisiana, Texas, Idaho, Florida, New York, New Brunswick Canada and Australia. Wowsers. Makes me happy to call myself a quilter too!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Something Sweet and Something Not

I've been happily working on my Cactus Basket quilt, sewing the sashing onto the blocks this weekend. Things are going well and I am SO happy with the results. It's got a really great vibe going on that makes me practically hum. My mind, however, keeps wandering off on a different tangent, making it terribly hard to concentrate. You remember the 'I survived the fire' quilt idea?
Starting to put the Cactus Basket quilt together
Well, originally, I was going to use the Cactus Basket blocks and jump from there--throw some words, applique pictures etc. on the borders. But it's too sweet and spunky for that. I love it exactly as it is unfolding for me and I don't want to ruin it by forcing something on it that doesn't feel right. But darn it, I really like the idea of my fire quilt too! And the idea won't go away. It keeps coming back, and coming back again--nagging at me to do something about it. So, I fished out this partially completed improv. quilt top that I had played around with last fall. Would it work for the background? Do the colors work for what I need? Always better to have an interesting background for a story quilt you know.

Hmmm.... Four improv. log cabin blocks could definitely represent the cul de sac where we live (only four residences here). And only one house was even sort of touched by the fire (ours) so that little scrap of red is absolutely perfect. I found some texty fabric and quickly added our street address and also a funky bird I stumbled across. The scrapbooky look to the quilt is so already so very satisfying. Love that look. And before I knew it, I was off and running with ideas. Gotta make the most every drop of inspiration when it comes knocking or it tends to get lost in the busyness of life, right?
My new background for the 2014 Fire in Pateros quilt
So... Next thing I came up with was a mock-up of the city sign we (used to) see just as we're coming into our little town. I went back to a sort of haunting picture my daughter put up on the blog earlier this summer. {Well, if you're a hometown girl it would haunt you too.} It all feels sort of silly, but incredibly compelling at the same time. I wish I was better about jumping right in the middle of ideas like this all the time, then I might know what I'm actually doing here.....
It's starting to come together. I can feel it...
I haven't made a story quilt in a long time so this is really fun and energizing all at the same time, to try and get it just right. Simplicity is the key of course and a strong visual message. Of which I'm not usually very good at. Once again though, one of my kids bluntly criticized the 'accuracy' of my quilty picture. I have to keep reminding them that 'representational' is perfectly okay in quilting. When I remind them, they get it. It's just something they tend to forget. I always ask, 'What does it make you THINK of?'

Then another kid just went on and on about how different this quilt was and not my normal colors etc. With the kids I can just laugh it off, but adults do this too, which kind of burns in my gut. Why does everyone insist on trying to keep people in a box? Do you know how many times I've heard that 'Audrey makes fall colored quilts. That's her style.'  No, I'm still trying to find my style, but the sum total of it is NOT just using fall colored fabrics. Okay, you can relax--getting off of my soap box right now....
Hopefully the fire will be less blobby after I stitch it down....
So here I am. It's different. Brighter? Bolder. Complex in numerous ways that won't make sense to very many people. I'll probably have to keep explaining to the unquilty. But I'm well on my way to a 2014 Fire in Pateros quilt, project tote fixed up and everything. It seems like a wonderful thing to follow the ideas until they fizzle away, cuz you know they always do. For now I need to start the work of stitching down the letters and number onto the quilt so it will be ready for the next step. I've got lots of ideas for other parts in the quilt. Maybe if I scribble them down I'll be able to hang on to them till it's time to implement them.....

Thursday, October 16, 2014

More Work On the Partial St. Paul Quilt

I've been wanting to work on this particular quilt all fall. And then I really haven't. It's one of those things where the next step is pretty much figured out and yet I keep waffling about it. So pathetic. I even annoy myself.
Partial St. Paul quilt progress
I finally bit the bullet and started cutting the tumblers out. It's a long process that always leaves me feeling somewhat stunned to see the rotary cutter in my hand and being all busy cutting the fabric out. As an aside, I'm always grateful for the soothing qualities of working with cream printed fabrics. I know there are people who just gag at the traditional look to them, but they just melt something inside of me. Using these fabrics, I'm almost guaranteed to like what I'm doing eventually.
Cutting out cream tumblers
So this is how I boiled it down in my mind this time, trying to clear out all those sticky cobwebs created by that nasty balking syndrome I like to call simmering PROCRASTINATION. Lets just call it what it is! You know I always try to start on an upbeat note:

Worst case scenario I'll have enough tumblers to make a little cream and blue tumbler quilt. {Okay, that does sound kinda interesting.} Nothing ventured, nothing gained. {Really? How original.} Just do something. Anything is better than nothing. {Um... Are you sure about that 'cuz  sometimes 'anything' can turn out to be sort of ugly. Or embarrassing. Or even embarrassingly ugly.} Huh. Who's in charge of this quilting endeavor anyway?*wink  Seriously, what's the worst that can possibly happen? I won't like it? Wow. Like that's never happened around here. Lemons to lemonade and all that....

I bought the 5" tumbler templates over at Diane's and they work wonderfully. Totally getting me over the hump of diving into something I'm feeling a bit ambivalent about. Love to work with these acrylic templates, especially in this particular size. No tracing shapes onto fabric and cutting out with scissors involved at all! I did switch over to my smaller rotary cutter to cut the tumblers out as the larger rotary cutter kept shifting on me. Not sure what size this one is (maybe 18mm?), but it's the little guy. Really great for cutting nice and tight against the template. Don't buy a cheap rotary cutter though, as I know from experience they don't hold up well with constant use.
Cutting out the blue tumblers
I also got a bit of fun mail from Dorothy over at Dorothy's Threads of Life. She does stunning applique and embroidery work. Always lots of eye candy over there!
A win!
And just because I thought this was pretty fun, here's a picture of my two youngest practicing for honor band. Isn't that saxophone humongous? Especially compared to that little skinny flute!
An impromptu concert...
Even though my son is in 8th grade and my daughter is a junior, they both somehow managed to make it into the same honor band event! Always, always, always something interesting going on around here....
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...