Saturday, December 15, 2018

Finishing My Christmas Makes

I should be Christmas shopping today, but will have to wait till next week to finish up. The town we go to for intense shopping trips is just over an hour away. Believe me, we go with a list and do not leave until everything is checked off! All my Christmas makes are finished now--the doll quilt and the potholders I made for my mom.
The doll quilt is finished
This doll quilt was so much fun. I haven't made one in years! My granddaughter has a 'My Life' doll {18" tall} and so I made sure this quilt will be plenty big enough to properly wrap around her baby. No just laying it on top and calling it good! Growing up, my sisters and I got a doll every year for Christmas until we were eleven years old. It was always frustrating when our doll blankets weren't large enough to swaddle our bigger dolls! It was a very big deal. And so this may look large to you, but at 32" before being washed and shrinking a bit, it should definitely work well for whatever Miss Lucy Mae decides to do with it!
The colors are so saturated looking!
It was probably a bad day to begin with, but when I started machine quilting the straight lines I ran into trouble immediately. The fabric was being pushed all over the place and really panicked me for a bit. It took some time, but then I realized that my dual feed wasn't attached to the stitch-in-the-ditch foot like it was supposed to. Arghh!  I flatly refused to take any of the stitching out. {My internalized mantra for the day: It's just a doll quilt for a 3 yr. old!!}. Thankfully, when I switched to the walking foot for the in-between stitching lines that weren't 'in-the-ditch', then it mostly smoothed out and behaved properly. Well, after I finally remembered to place the walking foot 'arm' over the bolt like it needs to be....  Okay, so there are a few eensy weensy puckers. Sue me. Both attachments are genius, but I've found to my chagrin that you do have to use them correctly.....
A fun, happy looking finish
I've had this retro looking decor fabric for years. Found it at a rummage sale and picked it up on impulse. This year I was thinking of all the things that I could get my mom for Christmas and realized, she has everything. Isn't that so true of most of our parents? So I took the plunge {I do so hate the pressure of Christmas makes}, and sewed up three usable potholders. No fancy little hanger thingy on the corners, she would never use it anyway. I used Insul-Brite batting on the inside and also one square of regular batting. They still feel fairly flexible and so I think they should work well. The binding was all leftover pieces from the binding tote which thrills my frugal soul.
Retro looking potholders
In little bites of time, here and there, I have also been tinkering around with Playing With Scale #2. Since I don't have the amazing design wall that some of you have, I decided to use the 'parts' method. It's a Freddy Moran and Gwen Marston thing I first read about years ago in their book 'Collaborative Quilting'. Wowsers, that book seemed expensive at the time, but it pretty much changed my life.
The first layout audition for Playing With Scale #2
Who knew that quilters were allowed to have so much fun with their quilting! After getting the initial parts sewn together, then I did a tentative layout right in front of the living room door. There really isn't any other option during the Christmas holidays. Moving very quickly {and crossing my fingers that none of the family would come home early}, I was able to determine that I needed more triangle units. Also, Wouldn't it look better with an applique block or two?  hehe  You knew that was happening....
Adding some more triangle parts
At the very least I was able to make notes about what widths to trim the larger strip/triangle parts to. I'm totally out of the light green background fabric that I used in those units, or I would probably make another one or two to better balance the quilt. Yes, it's still very rough looking--needs a lot of moving and switching things around before it starts to properly gel. This is one that I don't feel excessively compelled to get perfect though. Ultimately, I want it to have that old fashioned utilitarian look/vibe of just making do. I did get rid of the pink/blue triangle in the center though. Ughh. Some things just have to go....

Linking to Wendy's Peacock Party once again.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Take One Out of the Hoop, Put Another One Right Back In....

Time to put another quilt in the hoop! Once the Christmas tree goes up, there is zero room on the living room floor for pinning larger quilts. And hello? One thing that does not need to happen around here during the holidays is an empty hoop! Those of you who enjoy hand quilting, totally know what I'm talking about. lol
Rising Sun quilt
I put all the names of those interested in the Kaffe floral vase panel {offered in the previous post},in a bowl today and drew out the lucky person. Congratulations GranChris! You are the winner! I'll get it into the mail asap after getting your mailing address.
Looking a little closer
It was wonderful to pull this quilt top out and finally start making a plan for quilting. I had a very good pattern I was following for this particular quilt and then... Well, it just wasn't working for me anymore. During the making of it, I finally stumbled into a better solution {for me} and then had to laugh at myself for being so contrary about following a pattern. Growing pains are not always easy to transition through are they?
Loving the sashing fabric I won long ago
from Barb
And really, I think those growing pains might still be happening around here. I don't feel quite as betwixt and between as before, but there's still this underlying restlessness that I deal with pretty often in regards to quilting decisions. Especially in terms of starting in on new quilts. I second guess myself all of the time. There are so many quilting ideas hanging out in my head and I really, really don't want to waste time on quilts that won't matter a lot to me in the long run.
A few false starts and now I've got it figured out....
Which I guess is pretty much the way I was feeling with the Basket Medallion quilt. So sad because it was a great learning quilt for me. Thankfully, I only have one other much older quilt top in the queue these days. All the rest only go back a year or two! And I have to remember that there is very real value in the learning and doing. It's how we get to the next step of amazing ourselves with our wonderful creativity!
The Basket Medallion quilt is completed!!
And you really can't go wrong with a quilt that has basket blocks in it! Right? Always a place for these in our repertoire. You better believe that I am not done making basket quilts any time soon.
Little basket blocks making up the last border
Plus, this is a medallion quilt. Something that I still love and adore making up as I go along. There are like a million different ways to work through a medallion style quilt and pretty much none of them are wrong. I am sure there are many, many more medallion quilts in my future....
A close up of the hand quilting...
Very fun to work out the math. Play with various options in size and proportions. Get each pieced border to attach to the previous one like it was always meant to be.
And a closer look at the more subdued center baskets...
Sure, if I could do things over, I'd change a few things about this particular quilt. For instance, the yellow sawtooth border has a funny way of turning and going around the corner. I didn't really know what else to do with it, but it bugs me just a little.
Six borders in all, counting the coping borders
And I'd probably place the black hourglass corner blocks so that they were all presenting the same direction. Maybe. But maybe not. I've always loved the energy and whimsy of them being different. One of my favorite things about any quilt is including something that feels unexpected.
The last larger quilt finish for 2018!
The very best thing about Basket Medallion quilt being finished is now I can mark it off the list! It won't be nagging me or haunting me anymore and that feels so... good. Other than the doll quilt and a couple pot holders I'm making for my mom, this will be my last finish for 2018. 

Linking up with the Peacock Party over at Wendy's Quilts and More. It's a new 'quilt share' linkup with a more laid back philosophy than most linky parties. Gotta love that this time of year!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

A Doll Quilt, a Giveaway and Progress on the 6in6in2018

I had determined to make my granddaughter a doll quilt for Christmas this year. Several fabric pulls later and I was almost gagging over the sweetness of everything chosen. I have so few conversation prints and things were looking a wee bit grim. Then Linda's post popped up and that's all it took. That centerpiece....
The doll quilt top is completed! 32" square, made
for use with a 'My Life' doll
So I went digging through the stash totes, trying to find what looked to be the perfect start to a simple doll quilt. I knew I had one of these somewhere and what do you know, it totally fits the bill of being sweet, girly and yet, super easy to add bright, sassy colors to! You can see from the pic below that the original fabric pull had a green fabric that ultimately did not look very good. Sometimes I take that I-love-clash-in-my-quilts a little too far, even for me!
The first scrappy audition didn't work out so well....
It took me awhile to stumble upon the perfect fabric to add into the quilt. One that wouldn't just make a scrappy, mushy mess. {See the blue print I exchanged for the green in the quilt pic below.} That oddball blue fabric really surprised me, but when something works, why bother arguing! I figured out pretty quickly that three repeats weren't going to be enough and cut another square. Yep. That did it.  Everything just sort of locked into place. I apologize for the murky pictures, but as I was working through the late afternoon into early evening, the light just got worse and worse. And you know me, no way would I ever stop working on a quilt just so that I could a great looking picture!

When they sell this particular panel, it comes in a 41-42" length as per usual when it comes to fabric. The panel repeat itself is only about 14" square though, and that makes for one extra 'usable' panel and also a bit of waste as the remaining panel ends up being cut off at a weird spot. {I also prewash and dry my fabric, thus a bit of shrinkage!} Since this has been such a fast, fun little project, I'd like to offer my remaining panel to one of the readers of this blog!  Wanna try your hand at playing with one of these?

If you are at all interested in winning this panel, just let me know in a comment below, and I'll draw a winner sometime next week. If you can't leave a comment for whatever reason, just email me at audkateaster at gmail dot com and I'll enter you into the drawing with all the other names. Also, please, please leave your email address within the comment if you might possibly be a no-reply commentor. Blogger is being fickle again and I don't have all your email addresses readily available!

For those of you who are perfectionists {you know who you are!}, please be aware that this panel is not going to be 'perfectly' centered without chopping off some of the edges of the flower motif. My panel happened to be cut very narrow when I bought it--as you can see if you look closely at the pictures. Not a problem for me, but perhaps could be an intensely annoying issue for you! I will also try to ship to an international address, but not if the cost ends up being prohibitive. Just saying....
A little bit of deep stash digging and a better fabric was found.
Okay, enough of that business. Time for checking in with progress on the 6in6in2018. Honestly, it's  been a little haphazard around here. The thing is, I'm actually feeling pretty good about the total years accumulation. Yeah, about that. Would you believe that all Six of the older quilt projects on the list have been finished up or at the very least moved way down the road toward total completion?
Basket Medallion a 2018 finish!
The Basket Medallion quilt has finally made it to the finish line.*whew....  I really had to grit my teeth and dig in to stay motivated. Such a tough quilt for me to work on. I made the very last stitch in the binding just last night, so I even made good with my determination to finish up by the end of November. Yay!  But now it needs washed and dried so I can take some good pictures to show you. It's not an unlovable quilt. Not at all! It just happens to be a style or color palette that I've sort of outgrown or burnt out on? Or something. The X border is my favorite part of the whole quilt. Love that! And the binding ended up being the perfect touch. An older, reproduction style print that needed used up and was exactly the colors I was looking for. Win, win.
Cream quarter circle orphan units made into something interesting.
The only other 'need-to' work on project for the 6in6 list was the blocks above. Early in the year, I had put these leftover cream quarter circle units on the list. Just for a challenge. Slowly, slowly I have hand stitched all the bits and pieces together. And now, these chunky, naive looking, New York beauty blocks are emerging right before my eyes. Just like I imagined in my head. Loving these blocks so much! Now I'm crossing my fingers they will look as good together as I desperately want them too. 

39 blocks sewn together out of 64! And all that's left to stitch down are the yellow/gold arcs, so things are moving fairly quickly. When I sit down to stitch, I can complete about five {or more} an hour and it's absolutely stress free. No awkward, deep dive curves {or precise, tidy corners} which makes me so, very, very happy! This project won't actually be a completed quilt top by the end of 2018, but if these blocks all make it to a finish, then that's something to feel really good about too. Off to check out the 6in6in2018 November linkup over at Meredithe's! So glad I went ahead and stuck with this challenge throughout the year. Always good to see real, steady progress!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Trying to Keep up with the Improv.

I'm trying to cut myself a little slack at the end of November here. It feels like nothing is getting done, but I know that's not true. Plus, it's been busy with the holiday and family time. Now that it's Adhoc Improv. time again, I wanted to see where I was with all the open ended improv. projects.
strips for Playing with Scale #2
All the half square triangle strips are sewn together and trimmed for Playing with Scale #2. I even found time the other evening to free cut all the strips needed to start making the improv. blocks. This is one of those quilts where a large design wall would be amazing, but alas, it's not to be. I'll just keep using my imagination along with the trusty 'design floor'.*wink

I've been so tentative about moving ahead with this particular quilt. Not sure what it is that's holding me back because every time I start working with the fabrics, I fall in love all over again. I did take the time last week to make sure there was enough fabrics in all the important colors that I wanted represented throughout the whole of the quilt. Went digging through the stash totes and added about five other fabrics in deeper and/or bright fabrics that will work well for the larger triangles I plan on adding in later. One thing at a time though! Can't really start working on those until I see what size will be needed for 'proper proportion'.
Maps quilt auditioning
Just before Thanksgiving, I made time to cut and sew the 'road' border for the Maps prompt. It was a bit challenging, but overall I think it went together fairly well. Wasn't sure what to do with those corners, but when I laid it all out on the floor, it suddenly hit me. The upper picture just has a cut rectangle on those corners, nothing sewn down, but it brought it all together for me. So, so, easy, peasy, just a little applique work and the corners were sewn down to make the road look like it was turning the corner.  If they're a little chunkier looking than the rest of the white line pieces, most people will never notice!
Applique addition on the corners....
Next up, something I'm really dreading for some dumb reason, will be a long strip with words on it. I thought to do words on all four sides of the quilt, but now am rethinking that. One strip on the bottom just under the road border and all the rest will be a few random strips of different fabrics. Mostly, I just want to start sewing the strips on for a longer, more vertical looking quilt and get away from the perfectly squared off look. I love how it's so similar to the original quilt inspiration, but also starting to go its own way.  
A pretty stack of quilts
I've also gathered together five more quilts to give away before the end of the year. My family was having a bit of a meltdown over it {thinking I was intending to give away ALL of my quilts}, but settled down when I told them who/what/where they were going. It's sweet that they think all my quilts are too special to give away, but I've told them and told them, they might just be a little bit biased. How they could possibly think I was giving them all away when I still have at least 25 stacked up in my bedroom alone is laughable, but hey, they do seem to get attached! 

All of these quilts are older quilts {except for one which is a more recent finish} and that seems to make it easier for me to say goodbye. My husband however, adamantly called 'off limits' to at least three quilts he randomly uses from a stack in the living room. Then the girls chimed in and that's when negotiations started. So that's that for the giving this year, except for the doll quilt that I'm still planning on making for our granddaughter. Better get cracking on that one. Christmas is right around the corner!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

This One Feels Like a Keeper

It feels so good to get this particular quilt finished and washed up before Thanksgiving. All along, I've had the hardest time photographing this quilt. The yellow just keeps getting louder depending on where the light hits it!
Quarter Circles Round #2 all finished up!
Had to get most of the holiday baking done today before giving myself permission to get sidetracked on the computer. Quilts may be very high on my priority list but the rest of the family wants their pumpkin pie cold when they get up tomorrow morning.
Never underestimate the power of adding quilting stitches....
It's been a long crazy year, but we have so much to be thankful for. Don't want to ever lose sight of that do we?
It may have started out as a mistake, but this layout
looks like it was always meant to be!
Reading and hearing about the wildfire devastation in California is just heartbreaking. Honestly I can only take so much before I have to turn away. Lori over at Humble Quilts has a wonderful way that we can help out some of our fellow quilters in that area.
Yellow isn't my favorite color but it's definitely
worth playing with....
It may seem silly to some. Worry about sending quilting supplies to people who have been burned out of their homes? But quilting is extremely therapeutic to those who are used to having it in their lives. Very few people will feel free to use any hard won recovery/insurance money on 'hobbies'. From experience with close friends and relatives who have been there, I know they will tell you that they struggle with feeling good about spending money on anything but absolute necessities.
Something about this quilt....
Just sending a little bit can make that decision easier for them and help them get a good start on regaining such a positive and important part of their lives. Money is very tight for me this time of year, but it costs nothing out of pocket to dig around in my quilt room and come up with a small care package of quilty goodness. The only cost then is postage!
Loving all the  imperfect circles
I'll never forget how good quilters in our country {and around the world!} were to my own mother several years ago. She has never forgotten that outpouring of love and kindness from so many good hearted persons. And now I'll get off my soapbox. Truly, this is not what I normally do as I just assume that people give as they see a need, and usually do so quietly and from the heart--no prompting needed. Please don't feel any pressure or expectation from here, and definitely don't feel like you need to tell me one way or another what you choose to do. That's your private business and we're all perfectly okay with that.

Getting back to my fabulous yellow quilt now. It's been a very happy finish. In fact I can safely say that I adore it now after so many ups and downs during the making of it. So many great fabrics in it that really melt my heart! Must be the perfect mix of sweet and sassy. As you can see, I kept the quilting really straightforward and simple. So many times it feels kind of lame and pathetic {in a comparison sort of way}, but in the end, that's the stitching that resonates so emphatically with me. It's good to do the things that we love the most. To finish up and nod our heads. Yep, this one is a keeper!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

One Little Step At a Time

Back to work on the pineapple blocks. It's been almost a year since they were set aside, but you have to know they were never forgotten. I've played with all kinds of layout ideas and background colors since, dragging them out for a brief consultation and then putting them away in frustration once again.
The Pineapple Quilt
Finally, this fall, I settled into the idea of vertical rows {how boring!} in a background of a light, almost coral pink fabric. All the various yellow and gold fabrics used were bound and determined to squabble, and nothing seemed to bring peace but that particular pink. I didn't have quite enough yardage, but found a couple small pieces of other prints that blended well enough that most people will never notice the difference.

Then came the decisions for the connecting strips that I had determined were necessary. Blue was my first choice, but no....., it had to be yellow. Oh, but what color yellow? And round and round we went. Eventually I took a very muted gold striped fabric and paired it with a bright, spunky yellow in an effort to create balance throughout the quilt. Too much yellow? There is a green-blue fabric lurking in my stash that might, possibly, fingers crossed!, pull everything together as the next border.
Prep work
In my minds eye, the quilt needed connecting strips filled with busy applique work. Try as I might though, in all my rough drawings, nothing would satisfy. So here we be, at the last phase of stitching down some very simple stacked {but slightly wonky} diamond shaped pieces of color. When those 6 diamonds are stitched down, then I will sew the connecting strips on and move on to the question of how to finish off the quilt. At this point it is still just a few inches longer than than it is wide. That helps as I often struggle more with square quilts.
Just needs a little more stitching
As the applique work has stacked up around here, I've tried to be diligent about finishing one set of applique pieces before moving on to the next in line. These are all of the 12 Dried Flower blocks now, 72 leaves later! Funny how it looks so easy, but the time it takes... Wowsers. Sometimes I think I must be the dreamiest dreamer of all. Oh, it's only a few leaves and how cute will that be?
All the flowers on the wall
But it's always worthwhile as anyone who loves applique detail will attest to. Now I'm starting to get a bit of anxiety about how to put these odd shaped {8"x20"} blocks together without totally ruining the look that I 'see' in my head. I know that it often looks ridiculously easy around here, but yeah, about that... Behind the scenes there are definitely moments. Aghhh!!! What was I thinking!!

You know exactly what I'm talking about, because it has to happen to others. Occasionally I have even caught some of you slipping up and admitting to being human as well--creativity button malfunctioning for the day/week and all that. And thank you for your honesty. Sincerely, we all need reassurance that we are not alone in the land of sporadic, but acute, brain dead fog.

Anyway, for right now I'm seriously considering setting the blocks in three rows of four and connecting them with a coin type strip of lighter greens and cream fabric. So often it just boils down to making a decision {any decision!} and moving determinedly forward. Allowing ourselves to be paralyzed by hesitation and doubt never truly wins the day.
Auditioning some fabrics for connecting strips
And of course there will probably be more applique in this quilt. I can't seem to help myself at times. Plus, it just seems to be demanding it, in a foot stomping sort of way. Goodness, who knew some spindly flowers stalks could potentially be so bossy?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A Very Yellow Post

I have so enjoyed hand quilting on Quarter Circles Round #2. There's just something about this bold, in-your-face yellow quilt that makes me smile. Today has seen the first stage of the binding sewn on and surprisingly, {at least to me}, it's going to be red. Two striped pieces of homespun straight from the stash.
Ready for binding
More and more, I pull binding fabrics from the stash. Even if I have to use four to six fabrics? Who cares. I certainly don't! It just helps to add charm and homemade flavor to many quilts.

Next up in the hoop is the Basket Medallion quilt. The first post I could find concerning this quilt was from February 2013. This is one that I regret not getting quilted much, much sooner. You know, like during the time I was still enthused about it? Yeah, it wasn't always this way.
Starting in the  middle--already have the
top two baskets quilted!
I had a enormous amount of fun while building this quilt. It was something that kept me very engaged and I even typed up one of my rare tutorials, all about how to make pieced borders fit properly. A couple people asked and I gave it my level best. Most replied back that it did actually make sense, and might even help them just a little bit with future projects. That was pretty cool, even though tutorials are mind-numbingly time consuming....
Trying to figure out how to quilt that yellow sawtooth border....
Medallions are still one of my very favorite style of quilts as I'm sure you've all noticed. I love 'em! There's almost always one or two medallion style quilts in the works around here and often, I'm busy behind the scenes planning out yet another one. They totally, unashamedly, make my motor run.

But somehow, somewhere, through the depths of time, I've lost connection to this particular quilt. Maybe it's the old color palette that doesn't have enough happy in it to suit me these days. Whatever.  It was on my 2018 absolutely-gonna-get-it-finished-up list and by George, it's gonna happen. Too much money for professional long arm work {on something I feel 'meh' about}, I'm horrible at machine quilting and well, yeah. Guess that leaves hand quilting.
Most borders should quilt up easy peasy....
Which will only make it look nicer. I know!! It's gonna be fine and probably, like always, I'll fall back in love and get all sappy and sweet and you'll want to gag. But it will be crossed off the list and someday I'll even find the perfect person to gift it to. You know I will. That being said, I'm gonna push hard on this one 'cuz I want it done before December happens. Oooh, do I ever....
Love this giveaway so much!
On a different note, I won another giveaway! So much fun. I've been entering giveaways over at Okan Arts for like, forever. Always good stuff to drool over. This giveaway was one Uppercase magazine and a copy of the new Little U magazine from the same publisher. I've been eyeballing the Uppercase magazines for a long time now so am thrilled to get the addition with an article about quilts made out of wooden pieces! Now, thanks to Patricia Belyea and her generous spirit, I have some great weekend reading! Someday I would love to browse through her store in Seattle, if ever the opportunity presented itself....

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