Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Two More Finishes

Two more quilt finishes and we're not even through with February! These kinda feel like 'cheater' quilts, but then I just want to tell myself to shut up, 'cuz they still count. It took time and effort to cut them out, sew them together and then run them through the machine. The people I gift them too are getting a handmade quilt. And I used up a boatload of my {languishing for over 10 years} flannel stash. Win-win.
Two completed comfort quilts
I had so much trouble with my sewing machine while stitching these quilts. Ripping out long rows of stitching and trying to re-adjust the tension. It's back in the shop again and this time the repair man treated me like an ignoramus. Offered to show me how to thread my machine, adjust the tension and test out the particular thread I was using. Grrr! Does he not realize that I've been using this machine, hard, for 15 years? Honestly, I don't think it's fixed this time either {not for good} and will be back into the shop for a replacement part later. There must be something completely wore out to be causing the tension to lose it's grip with reality while stitching a quilt sandwich. Bernina's are a very sturdy machine and don't usually fuss at the difference between sewing a quilt block or a quilt sandwich.*sigh  So discouraging.
All ready for the labels!
On a good fabulous note, my husband obviously lost his mind for a few minutes. The thread below is what he gave me for an early Valentines Day. I know, totally crazy. Four boxes of Valdani thread just because he loves me.
Hard to believe this is actually mine....
I was almost totally speechless. Woohoo! But that's the kind of guy he is. A card and a little bit of chocolate most Valentines and then something like this just out of the blue. I'm thinking I'll keep him.*wink

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Slow Stitching on Flowers and Flying Geese

Just a quick post 'cuz the guys are busy with Superbowl stuff. I've been stitching on Flowers and Flying Geese here and there. It's always a bit of a tentative start for me, especially with an applique quilt like this.
Flowers and Flying Geese
How much is enough? Would an all over stitch work better? Always wondering if the stitching is good for the quilt. Or the quilt is good for these stitches....Those of you who hand quilt probably know what I'm talking about.
Making a good start
Then there's that wonderful rhythm and flow that slowly develops. Everything in the hoop sort of takes care of itself and all you have to supply is the hand/eye coordination.*wink
Slowly working through the center of the quilt
Once in awhile I realize the thread is starting to run very low, so I have to panic and find a good on-line source. My home grown sources don't like to sell my favorite threads! So this time I ordered from Bunny Hill Designs. I was looking to match one particular brand, color, and number of thread. Good things have been said about this company and it was time to check them out. Imagine my dismay when the order arrived missing three little balls of my very precious Valdani thread. I immediately left a phone message and a follow up email. Trying not to sound hysterical and/or accusatory is difficult when it comes to things you're passionate about.
More Valdani from Bunny Hill Designs
The owner, Anne Sutton, emailed me back within several hours {after business hours in fact} and told me the rest of my order would be mailed out the very next day. When my missing thread arrived in a timely fashion, there were also two gratis balls of perle cotton. Yay! I'd say that's excellent customer service. No having to argue about what I actually received, no justifications for what might have happened, just a quick make-it-right package. Ahh... Now I can relax. And stitch the rest of this quilt without running out of any more thread.....

Linking up to Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching just because I can.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sunburst Getting Another Border

So I dragged out the Sunburst quilt and gave it another whirl. What to do, what to do. It just doesn't look finished to me, something is lacking and I just can't give it up.
Sunburst center before
The middle has always kind of bothered me. A little too stark for the rest of the quilt maybe. So I played with a couple of small additions and finally settled on adding the pink centers to the blue.
Sunburst center after
It makes more sense when you see what I've decided to do with the next {and hopefully last} border. I finally got it all prepped and waiting in my handwork bag for that magic intersection of time and inclination. If you only knew how many times I've played with this border, contemplating, scribbling ideas down and basically beating my head against the wall. So I'm still not 100% sure, but this time I actually cut out the pieces--that's major progress. I feel like there's a hundred different ideas that would work with for this border and how egotistical of me to think I could possible land on the very best one.
Border prep
I stitched the January block for my personal solids challenge just to relax and unwind. I'm absolutely, 100% sure about that at least! Next up, getting the February block prepped and ready to go.
January Block
It's good to have hand work. Honestly, it's a challenge not to have ten projects going all the time.*wink

Sunday, January 31, 2016

February Quilty 365 Linkup

So here we are at the beginning of February. Wowsers. This is getting to be quite a stack of circles for Quilty 365! At day 98, I figure 27% of my circles are now completed or at least prepped! I grouped my January circles {below} in chronological order just because I could and well, I'm always curious. The ebb and flow of this month is not exactly the same as the last ones. That may be because the past month was full of challenges and I was a bit off my usual routine. Or perhaps it's just because I'm mixing my fabrics more?
January Circles
I don't know about you, but I am getting a bit frustrated with my monstrous, heaping, pitiful scrap bin. There is rarely the exact color that I need for the day and how in the world am I going to sew the proper mood of the day if I have the wrong shade or tone? hehe  It all works. Or it better, 'cuz I'm starting to feel stubborn about sticking with the scrap bin. Even if I have to do fabric repeats, which is a huge concession for me. For some reason I didn't want any repeats when I initially thought about this project. Now I'm thinking it's not such a big deal after all. Some days might be similar to others in retrospect. And why would that be a bad thing?
A total of 98 circle blocks!
An 'on-point' block layout has been niggling away at my imagination. It clearly needed to be auditioned as a potential solution for my blocks posthaste. And yes, you guessed it. The blocks are in chronological order. Why not just check that out from the get-go and get it out of my system {even though I'm fairly sure of the outcome, it's always good to know}. The layout? Definitely one to consider if I mixed the circles up and figured out a better color balance. This one's a bit awkward.

But I could put some of the solid fabric circles on the edges. Having to cut those blocks in half would probably make it easier to lose parts of my circles. Of course I could also add setting triangles to keep all of my circles intact or yeah, the obvious--try a different arrangement altogether. So far I'm not settled on anything concrete. It's very early stages for me and honestly, I'm not above dividing my circles into two sets for two different quilts.
A possible layout 
It's interesting to get this far in a daily quilting project though. You never know until you try, right? Thanks to every single person sewing along! I'm absolutely loving seeing these circles pop up in my reader, being able to check out all the unique touches. I'm still just blown away by all the personalization, talent, creativity and just plain fun people are having with this basic little project. Makes me feel like a slacker sometimes!

So please link up with us if you're still playing along! Link your thumbnail picture to a current post on your blog detailing:
  • What particular day you  happen to be at now {such as 'day 75'}
  • A picture of your January circles whether they are stitched to the background fabric or not {can add a picture of all your circles to date if you want}
  • A link back to this post
  • Any thoughts or introspection you might want to add about this particular project

   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   


Saturday, January 30, 2016

The First 2016 Finish

Muddy Creek is now a finished quilt! My first 2016 finish in fact. It was actually quite difficult to get good pictures of this quilt as the center tends to fade in and out depending on the lighting. Not exactly my specialty! And see how yellow the quilt looks here? I will probably never get the whole lighting thing.
Muddy Creek is finished!
I was thrilled to find the perfect binding lurking right at home in my stash totes. One of the fabrics I used for backing fabric had just the right tones to tie everything together the way the quilt needed. And why didn't I think about that specific fabric while I was stitching the quilt? Luckily there was enough leftover and all was good. Any other color would have pulled attention away from the center of the quilt, which obviously, did not need to happen.*wink
A look at the binding
This was my quilt design, from start to finish, although you can be sure that there was influence from snippets of other quilts hiding out in the depths of my brain. I just figured things out border to border like I do so many times and let the quilt talk it's way through any resulting dilemmas. Working this way often makes for a challenge {trying to get pieced borders to fit especially}, but the end result is, in my mind, more charming and 'real'.
A closer look at the center
When I stitched the cross hatching on the purple check, I just started on one end and worked my way around the quilt in a circle. I used the grid of the fabric as my guide and made slight adjustments where the fabric didn't line up precisely {something I never made any attempt to do}. It makes for an interesting intersection when the circle is complete, but to my astonishment, the cross-hatching was only off by about half a grid. Wowsers, I couldn't have planned it any nicer than that! Very easy to make adjustments and have it all join up neatly in the end. Only a dedicated perfectionist is going to realize that my cross-hatching is not lined up perfectly all the way around the quilt! And who cares if they do notice? This post really resonated with me years ago and I confess to allowing it to directly influence how I approach my hand quilting today.
Love how soft it looks it here...
I had so much fun playing with these fabrics and colors, absolutely loving the old fashioned qualities and feel of this quilt. It feels like 'my version' of an antique quilt and I'm anxious to try my hand at it another time in the future. Perhaps with different colors? No matter where I go with quilting, it's the antique style quilts that continually draw me down the garden path.
So much better looking in this light, but the center sort of fades out...
This was a good finish to start the year out especially with all the challenges I've had of late. It's been oh, so relaxing and comforting to stitch on. Not demanding or finicky in the least.

Is anyone ready for the February Quilty 365? I've lost a bunch of followers lately and thought it might be from not posting so often or having a less than exuberant mood this month. Then I realized Google made some changes that forces people to set up an Google account to properly follow. I sincerely hope it doesn't cause problems with the February linkup as that would be frustrating for all of us.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Another Play With Improv.

I'm sure you've heard it before, but I've got to say it again. I'm simply terrible at keeping up with BOM's, Linky Party's and QAL's. Please don't take offense if you have one I keep skipping. And what beautiful irony that I have my own monthly linky party going on around here at the first of every month! Oh the laughter that has caused me a time or two, as I'm sure you can guess.
The Ugly Quilt
The one thing {other than my daily circles} that I determined to make sure and keep up with was Ann and Kaja's AHIQ series. No matter what. So yesterday and today found me sewing up a storm. I wanted to finish up with my improv. string borders on the Ugly quilt especially. 

When sewing the strings together, I just matched up two longs sides and sewed, no extra cutting for curves etc. Then, when I had about six brown and pink strings sewn together, I added in a red string. That string was laid face to face with a brown or pink string set and then cut {freehand} to the curve. Next, I added another brown/pink string set, cutting to the curve to match up to that previous red string, and on and on I went. It seemed to help 'straighten' the border and also add some interesting wonkiness. This all feels very new and 'modern', but really, this is a very old style/design in quilting. Making the border in these comfy colors really emphasizes the vintage make-do look for me. I can totally see this quilt hanging out on my couch some day in the future!
No fancy corners for this quilt!
So then I jumped to these crumb/improv. blocks from the scrap bin. A couple weeks ago I had pieced the blocks together in sets of four with a light colored striped fabric. There was a plan of sorts. I really liked the 'glow' that was slowly emerging, but then somehow I ruined it by adding in too much brown. That's a tendency I have when it comes to brown, using too much, but I continued on with what was pre-determined. Honestly, I think my brain was on auto-pilot or something because I wasn't really thinking about anything but getting it done.
Improv. Squares with first short sashing strips
The plan was to add long brown sashing with the shorter brown strips {picture below}, but this just immediately set my nerves jangling. I mean the very second I put them on the wall! Waaay too contemporary of a look for me. I couldn't get the long strips off the wall fast enough. And then I was stalled. Duh.... Time to wake up and pay attention! With the idea of sashing still in my brain, I considered using a lighter colored fabric in place of the brown {looking at the picture above sort of gives the illusion of that}.
Adding the long sashing strips
Then I stepped back from the wall and gave it all a very long look. Hmm....  What if? And so yes, I squished all the rows together and gave that a good look. And I'm liking this very well indeed. Not exactly what I was expecting out of these blocks, but still... It's sort of interesting in a scrap bag kinda way.
And then taking them away
There are still three more rows to add onto this quilt, and it's only about 42" wide--much too small to call it quits. For now I'm leaving it on the wall and looking at it every time I walk through. It's not my normal style of quilting and yet I'm absurdly pleased with it now that all the rows are cozied up together. 

I'd like to think I'm opening up to the idea of what Improv. might be. A What If sort of conversation that is really just an extension of what I've been trying to do for the last couple years. And I'm not done with strings either. I had a great idea pop into my head just the other night. Maybe next month I can actually find the time to explore where my brain is going with those.... Time to link up with Kaja and Ann's January AHIQ!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

One Out of the Hoop and Another About to go In

All the hand quilting is done on Muddy Creek now. I love the texture and feel of a freshly stitched quilt so very much. So worthwhile to get to this particular point in a quilt! This one has been giving me a few anxious moments, wondering if my light floral border fabric is maybe too 'light' for the murkier center colors. It always seems to be a roller coaster of emotions for me as I reach each different stage of the quilt making. Hopefully I'll find a good binding fabric to tie it all back together and then of course I'll be delighted once again. That's just the way I roll!
Muddy Creek
Next up in the hoop will be Flowers and Flying Geese. It was a small enough quilt top that the dining room table didn't have to be moved out of the way to sandwich and pin. Funny how that could be the deciding factor, but I was quite desperate to get a quilt ready to go. Don't need any down time with that hoop right at this particular moment in my life!

This is a make-do quilt top started a few years back. The flying geese units were leftovers from an old baby quilt that just sort of jump-started what you see on a quiet fourth of July weekend. I used a lot of odds and ends, leftover applique bits, and little pieces of fabrics etc. Always an interesting, but also fun, creative way for me to work. And sometimes I wonder if my best quilt tops start from this sort of challenge? It really is a huge thrill for me to figure out how to make the random odds and ends 'work'.
Flowers and Flying Geese
I can already see this quilt top is going to be a challenge for me to hand quilt. I'm really not that adventurous with pattern, but I'm thinking Perle Cotton and big stitch quilting for this go-round as far as the thread is concerned. It's a good change from the more muted colors I've been working with and this whimsical style seems to suit my current mood quite well.
A bit closer look
So ironic to see some of the same leftover pieces show up in this little mini quilt at the very same time I'm working with the other. I will never understand the way my brain works. Never, ever, ever.
Antique block mini quilt
It's been wonderful to have a slight breather from everything going on around here of late, getting more of a schedule together and less of an 'on demand' situation. Not sure what the next couple weeks will hold for me, but I'm making use of my time as I get it. I spent one evening just digging through my stash totes, emptying everything out and refolding everything well enough that the lids will actually stay on.
A stack of interesting fabric
Can you believe that some of the fabric jumped out to stay? I started with that grayed down green that I am so very tired of--challenged myself to try and find something to perk it up. Here it is in a nice little stack awaiting inspiration and motivation for some day in the future. I find that having it sit out in the open helps me to ponder ideas better and then eventually I'll make some sort of decision to go forward. Or maybe even dump it back in the stash totes. Either way, it's never a waste of time to try and generate ideas!
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