Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Making Pickle Dish Progress!

Life has been pretty crazy the last several days, but I did find time to finish up my four piece melon units on my Pickle Dish. There are twelve in all as you can see from my little stack of folded goodness in the back.
Getting the units sorted out for sewing the rows
The next step was making sure I had the units together in the proper order {and orientation}. Then I sewed the rows together right at the connecting red and black squares. I did that part on my sewing machine. No reason to waste time hand sewing if I don't need to!
Starting to sew the individual rows together
It's pretty cramped in my quilt room for this kind of work, but we still have company in our home. It always seems so obnoxious to run up and down the stairs and/or take up the living room floor during those times. I may be a big talker about my quilting here, but in my home I usually try to keep it more discreet. I really don't want to run the risk of paralyzing someone with boredom. Plus, I have this tendency to drop pins in my wake. My family is fairly accustomed to watching out for pin bombs, but I worry about my poor naive company.*wink

So.. after the single rows were sewn together, then I sewed row 1 and row 2 together at the connecting squares. Not sure if you can tell where the hole in the row is, as the carpet is blue as well! That's where I had to slip in another background square underneath the rows.
Row 1 and Row 2 sewn together & ready for background squares
Which I did. Then I smoothed it out as best I could and started pinning it very well. This is the part that I will applique, just like in the four pc. melon sets. It all seems very hairy scary to me at first, but after it's started, I sort of ease into it and relax. There are two of these empty spaces  to put background squares into for each new set. After I pinned the two background squares for the {row 1, row 2} set then I did the same thing to the {row 3, row 4} set.
Pin, pin, pinning...
Does this seem confusing? 'Cuz it's really not. Just step by step and I will eventually get the quilt completed sewn together! I feel like Thomas the Train--Yes I can, Yes I can, Yes I can! lol  

Here are the two halves of my quilt ready to start the applique work. As soon as I get this part sewn together, then I will connect both larger pieces at the correct red and black squares, slip in two more background squares etc. etc. and then move on to work on the outsides of the rows. Whew! I've been working {off and} on this quilt for over two years now. So exciting to get this far!
Ready, set, go! All ready for the applique!

Also, my gift quilt is all finished up except for a label! I honestly think I like the back more than the front, but that's probably just a symptom of my feeling out of touch with the entire style of quilt. I really am not worried about giving it anymore, just glad that it's done and that I have nothing to be embarrassed about!
The gift quilt
I was too busy to make it over to my mom's yesterday, but she said she got another five or six envelopes/packages! I think we'll wait until she gets the mail today and then I'll try for another picture or two. I'm sure you're just as curious about her happy mail as I am!

Monday, September 29, 2014

You Are All Amazing! You Know Who You Are....

Wow. Just WOW!!!!! My dad drove over to my house right after picking up the mail at the post office. As you can imagine, he was laughing his head off....
Back of my dad's work truck
Back at their trailer, he stacked all the Happy Mail up for my mom to see the minute she walked in the door... I was told her smile was enormous and she looked a little bit shell shocked!
Monday's Happy Mail!
And no wonder. Birthday? Christmas? How fun would it be to dig into all this? lol  My daughter and I helped open (not dig into) the envelopes and packages to speed things along. At the rate my mom was savoring everything, it could have taken days to get through it all! She didn't want to be in a picture, so I cheated and just got one of her hands. Mostly. hehe
All the back fabric is stacked on a small plastic crate, but still....
Can You Believe This? lol
Lots of sweet notes and special little pieces of fabric, not to mention a few notions, books and patterns.
Very sweet...
And this was only the 3rd day of getting envelopes, mailers and now boxes too? Just incredible. My mom received this from 2 provinces in Canada (British Columbia & Ontario), plus these states: Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Utah, Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Michigan, Massachusetts, Kansas, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico and Indiana--probably some I've forgotten!. You are all amazing!

Random Monday

A total of eight envelopes have arrived for my mother just since Friday! Very exciting to see all the lovelies that are being sent. Wouldn't you know, she actually got on my blog and read about what was happening on Thursday night? Mind too troubled, couldn't sleep etc. So not a TOTAL surprise, but still--she didn't read the comments so has been completely bemused by the amount sent. Already. lol
Sorry the pic isn't better, I think the yellow manila envelopes
affected the color in the entire picture!
I keep telling her there will be more, but she gives me that look. Hm. hm. We'll see. Yep. We will see!! I can tell she is finding this very fun even if she's a bit bewildered to be on the receiving end for once instead of being the giver. I'm also trying to tell her a bit about the person sending fabric if I recognize the name and/or blog. It's all very touching and again--such great fun! Thank you to all the participants for that! For now I am just gathering the names of people who want one of my brown fat quarters in return. Will send them all out at once to be more efficient!
My lovely win!
I also got some fun mail of my own. Barb from Fun With Barb sent me some gorgeous fabric {and thread} I won from her latest giveaway! I am already busy dreaming up news quilt projects for these beauties. Really. I LOVE this kind of fabric and rarely get a chance to buy it around here.

In the spirit of working my way through the UFQ list, I threw my Random Sampler quilt up on the wall this weekend. All I've done so far is sew the half square triangles around my large basket block. Originally this was going to be a queen size quilt, but now, I'm thinking to downsize a bit. Will need to make a few more random blocks and then work on the connector bits to tie it all together. Mostly I need to work on the length as I prefer quilts to be longer than they are wide.
Random Sampler
I also pulled out this old quilt top and made a very drastic decision. Yep. I'm unpicking this quilt. Every single time I pull this quilt out of the drawers to consider putting it in the hoop, I absolutely am not interested. 'Not worth the effort' is pretty much my thoughts.
Mini Cake Stand quilt
So.... that's how is has to be. I've slept on this decision for oh.... well over a year? And my feelings toward this quilt never seem to change. I love the blocks--hate the way I set it together. And the birds, while whimsical, annoy me. I fell in love with the brown and cream floral print and was determined to use it even though my gut was telling me that it wasn't going to work out.
Starting to take it all apart--maybe just to the 9-patch units?
Me, being stubborn, pushed on through and sewed it altogether, then added in a bit of applique to distract from the big 'ol mess I'd made. It's a large quilt so this will take awhile.*sigh  I really have no idea what I'll do to 'fix' things but almost anything will be better than what I had. Bottom line: the baskets are too sweet to lose to an good experiment gone bad.

Friday, September 26, 2014

My Geese Tracks and Black Shadow Applique Quilt Top

First off, let me just say that the response to my last post has been nothing short of amazing! My daughters and I are having a very hard time not doing the girly, jump-up-and-down dance when we read all the wonderful comments! Quilters are the very best. So incredible! I will be sure and keep you posted as things unfold.
Geese Tracks and Black Shadow Applique
I finally got the applique work done on the border of Geese Tracks! So happy to see this one get to this stage of completed quilt top! It really has turned out to be a very fun quilt in spite of all the anxiety and doubts it has caused me throughout the making.
Here's the full quilt
We've been having gray days lately with a bit of rain--makes it hard to get a good, clear picture of my quilt. Hopefully you can see that this quilt has a lot of subtleties and areas that seem to 'pop' as well. This quilt started with me thinking I was making a top filled with geese track blocks and then somehow ended up over here.
And a little closer
That's alright. I kind of like a quilt that seems determined to have its own way! The problem of course, is knowing when to reign it in and when to fly with all the interesting ideas. I'm still learning to find that balance and ofttimes I get a headache trying to sort it all out. I can see the vestige of a really great quilt waaaay back in the corners of my mind, but I can't always bring it to fruition. Ah... creativity. It's such a hard thing to trust in for some of us!
Love the geese tracks...
The red geese tracks block on the right corner is made with scraps of my grandmothers fabric. Very special to me. I'm sure the fabric is at least forty years old (maybe even older) and just the fact that it was hers, makes me smile when I look at it. I'm a big fan of adding in bits and pieces to our quilts that have meaning and/or humor, whether in sentimental fabrics, ideas, words, quirky applique or style. Ha! I'm sure you had never noticed!

The red basket was a combination of my improv. efforts and also various readers suggesting that I add a basket under my black shadow flowers that seemed to have sprouted on my quilt. It's not always easy to show my work as it progresses because I feel quite possessive of my ideas, whether they are very clear to me or not! Although I had already considered putting a basket (or baskets) on my quilt, then I was sort of stuck wondering if I wanted to do that to please my readers or because that was truly what I wanted to do. When we start trying to please our readers, I think we fall into a nasty little trap. One that will very quickly stifle the best of our creativity. In the end I decided that the commentors and I were in agreement--a wonderful thing.
And of course the red basket!
As I continued working through the borders of my quilt, I kept what I was doing a little closer to my chest. I wanted to be sure that this quilt reflected the ideas that were gathering inside ME, so that I could feel confident in the end result. It's really tough sometimes to get a good grasp on those wispy little ideas, cut them out into fabric shapes (not to mention the right fabric print and color) and then see them come to life in our quilts. It's a beautiful thing and we should never cheat ourselves out of that very important boost of confidence we get actually seeing it happen. Yes! We can do this! We need it to make the next quilt. And the next. And then the next?*wink  Because sometimes we fail or fall short of what we imagine. And that's okay too. As long as we know that we tried. We'll get it next time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'm Hoping a Few of You Might Help Me Out....

I pulled this brown fabric out today and had a stare down with it. Since it's not going to be my Tree of Life go-to fabric anymore, I was trying to brainstorm. Good ideas or bad? You'd think crunching apples with caramel dip would help me out, but you'll never guess what I came up with.... 
My brown Merry Medley fabric
Even I'm a bit nervous about this idea. The thing is, I've been thinking a lot about my mom picking and choosing fabrics out of my totes and LOVING the process so much. I mean, seriously. All of us as quilters have a deep and abiding love for fabric, don't we? And her entire stash burnt up--which just kills me. So... I had a wild and crazy idea that some of you very kind and generous quilters might be willing to help me out here! What I propose is this: If you would like to send my mom a fat quarter of your very lovely fabric, then I will send a fat quarter of my lovely brown Moda fabric--to the first 15 people that she receives an envelope from!
One fat quarter will fit in the longish envelopes if you fold it right...
She can get an intriguing little start to her stash and you, {if you want it} can have something in return. Please tell me this isn't begging! I'm thinking more like trading? Or bartering? Definitely a time honored tradition! And no, she doesn't know anything about what I'm doing. I'm hoping that since she reads my blog so sporadically, she won't know a thing about this until she starts receiving sweet little squishy envelopes!

So. DETAILS! If you would like to receive one of my brown fatquarters in return, then just slip a little piece of paper into the envelope that says 'Tell Audrey hi! My address is blah, blah, blah' (you know those details better than I do!). If there isn't a slip of paper for her to hand off to me, then I'll assume you don't want anything in return! And of course if she gets more than 15, I will be out of fabric. Bummer for you, but also incredibly generous and very sweet of everyone involved. You can address your squishy envelope to: Joyce Wilson, PO Box 352, Pateros, WA 98846. I guarantee that she'll be picking up the mail personally every day after the first or second envelope!

And also, don't worry that my mom will be the least bit picky about color or style or even print--she is fabric poor and I promise you that everything looks fabulous to her. She won't even care if there's a little chunk taken out of your fatquarter or if you decide to send two fat eighths instead of a fatquarter. What she will be is very puzzled about the first envelope, and then probably come right over to chew me out after she starts to figuring it out. Yikes! Then she'll probably get choked up about how nice people can be to total strangers, all the while patting her pretty little pieces of fabric and smiling. Hopefully it will end that well. I really don't want her mad at me forever.*wink
Isn't this an interesting look?
Okay, now I need to get back to my latest endeavor, trying to get the Pickle Dish/Wedding Ring units appliqued to the background fabric! I had a bit of fun playing with the picture as you can see. Love how graphic this quilt is going to be. Did you know this is the quilt I've wanted (been petrified) to make for oh...., over 15 years now?

Monday, September 22, 2014

It's the Little Things That Tip Us Over the Edge

Gotta love the blogging world. I was cruising through quilty blogland the other day when I stumbled upon a picture of a Tree of Life Quilt. Yes! Love those! Gayle and I commented/e-mailed back and forth about how it was one of those quilts on our bucket list and it all got me to thinking.
Tree of Life fabric selection minus a fabric or two
I think it is really happening......
You see, I already have had a stack of fabrics with the Tree of Life quilt pattern in mind. But it's been sitting there for months and months. And months. No real inspiration to get going on it. At all. Every time I dragged the fabrics out and looked at them, I just kind of mentally wilted. Seriously? This is all you got for me the fabrics would say? And I would just stuff them back in the box with a sigh. Yep. That's all I got. Maybe next time.
Getting some fabric cut out
Then on Saturday, while I was digging through my fabric totes for a binding fabric, I stumbled on a really lovely orange fabric. (Don't ask me why I was in the brown/orange tote, I was looking for a green?) Anyway, I threw the orange fabric back in the tote and kept digging, but my insides were practically quivering to work with that particular orange fabric. Technically it has got to be fall. No matter what the calendars say--I can feel FALL in the air so therefore It. Is. Fall. And there should never be a problem with cutting up (or sewing) orange fabric in the fall. Especially say, orange trees? And maybe a blue tree or two? For some reason the thought of a couple blue trees just tipped me over the edge into... cutting-out-a-quilt-regardless-of-the-UFO-list insanity.
The Old fabric selection for Tree of Life quilt
Too much like my Flock of Geese quilt
The next thing I knew there was fabric flying everywhere and I was knee deep in fabric choices, practically humming from all the fun I was having. Now, you might think my choices are interesting {I know I do}. And I'm a bit worried that the background fabrics will look choppy together? But my mom has undoubtedly had an influence on me whether she intended to or not. She was over to visit just last week--for those that don't know, they are now renting a small single-wide trailer a block from their burnt property, not staying with us. All about needing to borrow a wee bit of fabric. Just a few strips mind you! Being a good daughter, I refused to pick them out for her. Absolutely not! I refuse to inadvertently change the feel of her first 'post fire' quilt by making any of the fabric decisions for her. I would somehow 'brown' it down or make it too blendy with my particular choices!

Anyway, the entire point I'm trying to make here is this: I watched in amazement as she poked through my fabric totes and came away with the weirdest, most wonderful mix of fabric I could imagine. I knew this would happen! Out of MY very own stash! I am in awe. I told my youngest daughter to watch out, her grandma was going to make a better quilt than I could ever hope to make and I'm the one that originally bought the fabric. How can that even be fair?

Oh well. Life is full of unfairness isn't it? Her visit  obviously had an impact on my Tree of Life fabric selection this weekend though. Let's just hope it was a good one! The cutting out time (stolen moments popping in and out of the quilt room) was good stuff. The fabrics felt playful and fun and everything seemed to click. Nope. Nothing to feel guilty about here.
More hand quilting the Worry Baskets
And the other thing I did this weekend was hand quilt. A LOT. I am now working on the edges of the quilt, but my mother-in-law is currently visiting too. Not such a great time to lay quilts out on the floor and stand on the furniture to take pics. It just looks bad--gives off the wrong impression or something? So your imagination and this old picture will have to do for now. I really think I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel with this one!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Ta Da! Flowering Snowballs is Officially a Completed Top!

I didn't have a whole lot left to do in order to call this a completed quilt top. Something I always celebrate around here, because it feels like a finish even if it isn't really a FINISH finish (sandwiched, quilted and bound). I like to be excited at this particular phase and then later on as well, when it's well and truly done
I love my Flowering Snowball quilt top.....
I saw the 'Who's interested in doing a Flowering Snowball Along?' over at Molly Flanders Makerie early in the summer and started getting a little flutter in my belly. Excitement? Oh yes, count me in! It's something that in years past I would have ran from just as fast as my cowardly legs could carry me, but now? I'm not nearly afraid of curves as I used to be. Something about doing a bazillion drunkards path segments will do that to you. (Or even me.) And trust me when I say this, these are gentle curves.
The lights not great today so I moved it back upstairs.
Isn't that what people always say AFTER? It was soooo easy. Nothing to it! hehe But not the matching up the seams stuff. I'm not afraid to tell you that it took some work getting through that little part. A little unstitching. A bit of grinding the back teeth off.*wink  Just kidding. I never do that. And fyi, the quilt below has not even been ironed yet. I'm positive that all the seams will look simply amazing afterward......
A close up of some of my fabric choices....
Initially, I had a little trouble cutting into my creamy white prints that I love to hoard up, but I think it was a wise choice to use them. This quilt has some dark and moody fabrics that needed the light, bright, almost whites to wake everything up and/or give it a softer feel. These colors have really been speaking to me lately and I wanted one more chance to play with them before I moved on. No reason to cheat this quilt out of some great fabrics just because I have a tough time cutting into a couple very-hard-to-get (around here) fabrics.
I am really enjoying the secondary pattern in this quilt....
For awhile now, I've been trying to branch out a bit and use 'larger' prints too, which always makes me plenty nervous. They never look properly balanced in the low percentage usage that I end up with, mostly because I don't actually buy that much largish printed fabric! The left side of my brain whines about the balance but the right side revels in the discrepancies--wants to think it looks more vintage or antiquish. Well, how can we do the make-do thing right anymore when most of us have so much more than we need? Do you think the quilters of old WANTED to use those oddball mixes of fabric? They probably apologized for them every time they showed off their quilt and people like you and me think it's 'charming'!

Anyway, I don't think I'm going to add a border to this quilt top. I like the piecing right out to the edges and it's already 77" x 89". Plenty big enough for me! If you haven't already, go check out the other Flowering Snowball quilts in Molly's Wrap Up post. Beautiful! I didn't get finished in time to link up, but this quilt top still feels like a real winner.

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