Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Popping In For a Quick Update!

 May has always been a busy month for us, but this year I made it worse. For reasons that totally made sense at the time, I scheduled a week long trip (leaving the end of April) to visit my oldest daughter in Oklahoma.

Loving the colors!
With everything that needed done before leaving, I had little to no time to post my latest quilt finish, AHIQ Hourglass. Plus it needed washed up so the crinkly goodness could shine!
I think this one is a winner
After I got back home, then there was all the laundry for me and of course, my husband who still needed work clothes etc. etc. Can you believe that he also managed to clean out his work truck and find about 10 sweatshirts that needed washing? 

Still liking the pieced sashing look
I took a couple hand work projects with me on my visit, but honestly, we were just too busy chatting for quilting to take priority. My daughter has a new house in a new town. Barely been married for less than a year. She's a Washingtonian transplant to the midwest. Trying to figure out how to budget in an exploding economy. Sooo much to talk about. And we loved every minute of it!

A tiny bit of a fabric bleed but not enough to ruin it
It's terribly hard to live so far away from our children. I mostly hate it. But... it's wonderful to see them living their best life in spite of the very real homesickness that comes along with the distance. One of the hardest thing to do as a parent is to teach our children how to get by without us.

Will probably have to keep this one!
Now I'm home, after a brutal midnight flight and then the additional 3 hours driving home. There's been non-stop busyness ever since 'cuz, ahem! my husband really doesn't love trying to get along without me! lol  Our big camping trip is coming up at the end of May so now I'm trying to organize and prepare for that. Will try to post more quilting stuff in the weeks ahead, but who knows? I don't seem to be nearly as good at multi-tasking as I used to be.

Having oodles of fun with my Mothers Day money
One of the highlights of my trip was 'The Quilting Studio and Fabric Mercantile' in Tulsa Oklahoma. Ahhh... I was like a kid in a candy store. It's been so long since I've bought any new fabric! Such a lucky pick when I was determined to only hit one store. The only thing I didn't like was the fact that they kept pushing quilt kits at me. Hmm... How to answer without sounding rude? My daughter and I settled with 'I kinda do my own thing'.*wink

Last night saw me finally getting in a few minutes at the sewing machine and of course I'm back with the hand quilting in the evenings. Who knew a quilting callous could disappear so quickly! 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

It Feels Good To Be Making Progress On Something

I actually managed to get quite a bit done in spite of the fact that we had a busy, busy Easter weekend! I went ahead and added a very small coping border between the main part of A-Tisket-A-Tasket and the red hst border. 

A-Tisket-A-Tasket getting a border or two
I'm pretty sure there will only be one more border, of much larger red and gold hst units. It's all cut out and ready for sewing, just need to find the time. Super happy with how it's turning out though. That lighter yellow/gold just made everything shine! So weird because I had dismissed the idea earlier thinking that color would fade into the bottom part of the baskets too much and totally ruin the look. 

It's the whole kit and kaboodle. 61" square
I also managed to keep working on Country Stars. It was sooo tempting to put it up for a good long sleep, but I was not too sure that it might never see the light of day again once that happened. And I do want to get it finished up and gifted sometime this year!

It doesn't look like much, but it makes the quilt look better
I took the larger leaves in the middle of the applique and cut into them again. This time making into flowers with a red bud. It's all so much better now. Then I went ahead with the little stacks of berries, mixing up the colors. Red didn't look right and neither did pink, so I combined the two. It's still not a fabulous top, but overall I'm satisfied. Especially after all the applique was finished up {I thought} and on a whim, decided to sew the darker brown cross circle over the center compass block. 

It's applique and that's important sometimes, to
some people...
It just finished it off in a way that I can quit stressing about now. And I'm sure our friend will love all the little details eventually. It's really not easy to work on a quilt where the connection was never really there in the first place. But I did it. Got all the hand work done and dusted. Now I just need to take a deep breath and find time here this coming summer to get it sandwiched and pinned, ready for quilting!

Getting ready to hand sew the binding
Got all the hand quilting finished up on the AHIQ Hourglass quilt. Would have been done sooner, but the backing fabric was a heavier, tighter weave than I normally work with, something my aunt gave me awhile back. I love all the freebies, but occasionally it's nice to use something that wants to work better with a needle!

Almost ready for the hoop!
Next quilt in the hoop is the HaHa quilt. So crazy, it's been almost four years since this has been a completed quilt top! This one has been such a very long time getting in the hoop. It took over two years to even make quilt top stage. Some quilt tops are just plodders I guess. I don't know what to say except that I've just had very mixed feelings about this quilt from the beginning.

I really do like these words on the quilt
Love it and I well, worry about it. It's been too solid fabric-ish, too white, too many disparate elements, too much, too much. And I had zero ideas about how to hand quilt it until a couple months ago.

The ric-rac borders around the blocks are still a fave too
When I suddenly thought about stitching scallops over the center part. Huh. Maybe that will be the thing to make sort of 'make sense'. I went with the cardboard, make-it-yourself template since the plastic template sheets are so expensive these days. Didn't want to ruin a whole sheet experimenting. Anyway... It's not gonna be perfect and you're gonna see where I adjust, adjust, adjust the design. 

Home-made template for the win
Which might actually make me like it better. There's just something about it not being absolutely perfect that sorta calms me down and puts a smile on my face. Onward ho!

These girls.....
And here's a recent picture of our granddaughters. We had an enormous amount of fun getting to spend Easter weekend with them. I mean, we are The Easters, so it's always been a special holiday.*wink  Loving how chunky little Ellie is getting and how chill she was with us even though it's been months since we've got to squeeze on her. Like my father-in-law always said, if we'd have known how much fun grandkids were, we would have been sure to have them first..... 

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Maybe The Solution Will Come To Me If I Take a Nap

I've been working on the border for the A-Tisket-A-Tasket quilt. Lots of hst's which are not difficult, just annoying.

Trimming the hst's
Before sewing them into rows and getting locked into something I don't want, I went ahead and auditioned some ideas for the next border after.

Auditioning some possibilities
Definitely loving the red and blue hst's, but the rest is slow going. I had this idea to use up a lot of that really light yellow oddball fabric. Maybe in random 9-patches etc., but noooo it's not working. So I switched to applique ideas which, funnily enough is not working either.

Nothing looks right
Will have to leave it be for a bit and come back later. In the mean time, I finished up all the hand work on the Orphan Annie tulip blocks. All 20 of them! They are looking very yummy I think. Those olive green colors used on the leaves are just enough different to make me smile.

Hoping these look good together in a quilt!
I finally remembered to check back with the inspiration pics for the Country Stars quilt. It's a blend of two patterns from my inspiration folders. Both published in the early 2000's?

Original inspiration
It was all started as a quilt for someone and so I used colors and a style that I thought they might particularly like. The hand work is 'next on the list' so here we go. Definitely wanting to move on to more intriguing projects!

Should have left it alone....
When I started stitching down the leaves everything in me just rebelled. Ughh! I just hate doing sharp curves and there would be so many? So without really thinking it through, I cut four of the leaves down to a more simplstic shape.

All the weird shaped leaves
Yeah, it was probably a bad, bad idea. I've only stitched down four leaves on the right side, 1 large one, 2 small ones and 1 large simple shaped one and it's looking pretty iffy already. My regret meter is pinging off the charts.

Might have to get the seam ripper out
I threw some berry shapes on the quilt top {oversized on purpose} and am not sure if it all looks better or just more train wreck. Why do I ever think it's a good idea to make things that I'm not feeling the love for? Somewhere the seam ripper is calling my name, all the while laughing its head off....

Loving these colors together
I've been hand quilting on the AHIQ Hourglass quilt lately which has made me think about all those languishing hourglass units. Hhmmmm....  I made that first batch the wrong size so had to start over. Yeah. It was a very fun and relaxing couple of hours pulling fabric to put with them. Not sure what's gonna happen there, but I could tell my heart was all in.
Preventative maintenance
One of the results of digging through all those marinating fabric stacks in the past couple weeks--totes and buckets of fabric soaking. There's a gorgeous green fabric that had just a little bit taken out of it, looked so bright and bold. Uh huh. It's been releasing dye for almost three days now. No worries. I only used it in my Coronacrazy quilt.*sigh 

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

All the Hiccups in the Process

The Big Kiss quilt is totally finished up now! This one was started back in 2020 mostly because I could not resist the siren call of the simple, graphic design. 

The Big Kiss quilt is finished!
The top was complete {I thought} in about June of that year, but then, it just wasn't. I fiddled around with idea during the following January and then, finally got to true-blue quilt top stage by April

A little applique can go a very long ways!
Anyone who knows me understands that a quilt top has to be 'just right' before I can rest easy. And now it has a lot more of ME in it, I totally can.

Keeping the stitching simple as usual
I went with a very basic stitching pattern in those long strips. Totally copied Clare because it just made sense to keep things simple. The more that I stitched, the more I fell in love with this cheerful, happy quilt.

It definitely has the cozy vibe I usually shoot for
It always seemed kind of like a step-quilt instead of the real deal if you know what I mean, but now? I'm thinking it's all coming together just the way it was always meant to be.

Can't even hardly tell where the fabric was pieced
It's been really challenging over the past couple years to pull fabrics just from the stash totes and hardly ever buy anything new. Sometimes I feel like I'm thriving in this make-it-up, make-it-work sort of effort. The creativity is going gangbusters and good quilts are being made.

Using it up on the back
Then, at other times, I look at the available fabric and sort of die inside. What in the world is this garbage and what possibly good can come from that? But yeah. I'm sort of digging in and definitely not giving up. For instance, that batik fabric really did get used on the backside of the Big Kiss quilt. Uh huh. On over half the back in fact. Yep, I did soak it in boiling water {thanks for the tip!} and that helped soften the fibers. Also bled out a whole lotta black dye so now it looks more purple {in the soaking water thank goodness}. Whoopsie daisy! Now it doesn't match and blend quite so wonderful anymore.

AHIQ Hourglass quilt top
I'm sure the people using the quilt in the future will totally turn up their nose at the quilt and think it's 'not good enough'. 'Cuz that's clearly what all users of awesome quilts do.... And I'm still gonna make awesome quilts even if they are a different kind of awesome because of those self imposed limitations. Can you tell that I was a teenager in the 80's?

Time for the quilting stitches to commence!
The AHIQ Hourglass Tulips quilt is the next up for quilting. I am so loving the raspberry pink in the hoop! Just makes me feel happy to be stitching on it. It seems so basic, I should be able to plow through this one in a week or so, right? But no. It will probably be a good three weeks to a month like all the others. 

The strangely appealing blend of green blues, pink and olive
Kind of funny that I'm doing the hand applique for the cut-out tulip shapes from behind that AHIQ quilt right now. Kind of a compare and contrast thing. It's a really interesting color palette that I'm experimenting with, all the funny, old green/blues. I took the stack of fabrics and tried to use all the bits that I could in the block backgrounds. So much work but always something that I enjoy seeing in the finished product. These lanky tulips will obviously have their very own vibe and that's a relief. I can tell you that I'm still consciously {and unconsciously} dreaming up ideas for other tulip quilts, and actively working on them only makes it worse. It's probably starting to be a condition.

Still working at the applique ideas
Still playing with the possible applique for the Improv. Strip Quilt #2 Blue too. I know what some of you were saying about it looking fine without the applique, the quilting stitches filling in texture later on etc. Uh huh. Yep. I totally agree. But the thing is, it just doesn't feel like a me quilt for some inexplicable reason so I can't leave it alone. Just can't

Putting the flower shape inside an oval shape and then shortening the stem helped a lot, as did flipping the leaves so the tips were pointing down. Then it looked like it was sort of plopped onto the quilt top and soooo of course I had to make scallop shapes to over-compensate. And now we're cooking with Crisco! Totally feeling that glimmer of satisfaction of an idea starting to bloom. Such a hideous fabric with all the starfish and other fishy things on it. Uggh. Can't even believe it will do the trick, but the color was perfection for what was needed. Am thinking this is the real deal but we'll see after some more time spent simmering.

Kind of a county fair look
Got the main part of A Tisket-A Tasket quilt top put together. Now I will be pursuing borders. I mean, look at it? It doesn't have that I-am-completed look at all yet. Terribly hard to get a good picture of this one as the colors are so yellow-brownish it looks dull very easily. In actuality, it has a soft, down to earth vibe that feels somehow restful but cheery. I know, totally contradictory. Gonna have to trust me on this one.

Putting the quilts out there for stitching inspiration
And that's it for the quilt wrap-up for the last week or so. The bags of quilts are what I took to the last quilt meeting for people to look at in terms of quilting stitches and also, thread colors in use. One of the younger gals asked me to bring examples and it was a lot harder to put together than you might think. Once I started pulling quilts off of shelves it seemed that they all just sort of looked alike. At one point I threw my hands up in despair and told my daughter it seemed that all my quilts were practically identical! 

Hmm.. Maybe that's because I tend to use the same color palettes over and over until I get it 'just right'. Or I continually play with limited color palettes or softer hues. Maybe because I take the cast offs and cut outs from previous projects and dive right into the next quilt? Do basic hand quilting on all the finished quilts? Or perhaps it's because I've worked and worked for years, trying to get my voice inserted into every single part of my quilts. Yeah. It could really be just that simple.*whew! I was starting to think things were getting starting to get boring around here.

Seriously though, as crazy as it seems, it took me a couple days to work through that conundrum. It didn't help that I was right in the middle of perusing all my gathered stacks of fabric and trying to assign quilt design/ideas to many of them.  Coming up very empty. Feeling antsy and disconnected as a result of all this time spent directing my time to strippy quilts and planning directions and demos for quilt meetings. It took several days of fondling fabric and rearranging the stacks, looking through the inspiration binders, Pinterest boards, and even the quilt top drawers! until I found my center again. What is it that I truly want to make? Am I doing that? Or am I just going through the motions? Why is it that I use so much cream/green/gray/brown whatever fabric and can never find a piece of fabric large enough for good background flow? Does everything have to have applique? Silly, silly questions like that.

If you know anything about me, it's that I LOVE making quilts. Passionately, scarily laser-like focused in on what's coming next. When I start questioning what it is I'm actually producing and if it's any good? Well... it can get a little hairy around here. Okay, quilty meltdown all over, crisis has been averted. Time to get quilting!

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

So Many Strips

All the applique is finished up and now the borders are attached onto the first Improv. Strips quilt. I needed this one to be a completed top so that I could use it in the demonstration for sandwiching and pinning a quilt. Not that I'm really in the mood to start stitching on this quite yet, but it makes sense to show them the hand quilting stuff on a similar design.

Improv. Strip Quilt #1 top is done!
After all the angst about making this quilt wider than it was tall, I rather like how the deeper borders at top and bottom corral the strips. It makes me smile to see the last little bits added on at the corners. Waste not, want not!

No Wasted Pieces is the new name. Of course!
Or whatever. I was soooo tempted to leave off the 'ces' on the word pieces. How about 'no wasted pie' instead? But yeah. That would have been just a little too much. My husband and daughters weird sense of humor is obviously affecting me now that I'm the only one who rolls her eyes. Definitely missing our oldest daughter these days!

A little bit of applique can go a long ways....
After liking, then not liking, then making plans for adding applique, I'm back to liking the Improv. Strips #2 quilt. Maybe just exactly the way it is. No borders. No added applique. Just this.

Improv. Strip Quilt #2 {Blue} might be done
Maybe even almost loving it. Hmm...

Loving the sparky strips of gold
Could it be added to my skimpy pile of manly quilt top options? I'm wondering.

Kind of a summer day, pond water, blue skies
sort of quilt
I played with the applique idea regardless, just because I had been thinking about it for so long. I had this idea of a stacked, layer after layer of a somewhat formal looking flower. Yep. Spent a couple of hours on the layers and then... it looked a little too feminine. Too suggestive. Ick. So I pulled off about six layers and thought perhaps this would work.

Thinking about an applique addition
Then I switched up the leaves to something darker and auditioned it again. Yeah. It's not quite right. I'm not sure what's going to happen here now and like I said, it might just be better without any applique at all. Time to let it simmer.

Or not?
Last nights quilt meeting was a lot of fun! These are six of the ladies who have made it through to quilt top stage {or almost} and I couldn't be prouder. They have really been working hard to get through all the phases up till now. Two more gals couldn't make the meeting last night and then there is one more straggler who is waaay behind, but still wants to keep in contact and perhaps move along at a slower pace. Three total drop-outs for various reasons that I don't think had anything to do with me. Not too shabby! Right? 

I love the different personalities everyone brought to the quilt project. So interesting to make similar but different quilt tops all at the same time. I didn't even end up showing them my completed Improv. Quilt Top #2 because we had so much information to get through and really, this night was about them.*Whew  It feels so good to see them at this stage and see that yes, what I have been showing them {and teaching} actually works in reality, not just theory! Can not even tell you how happy this makes me seeing their smiles!

These ladies did so good!
I've been working on a little tiny bit of applique lately {such as the 'no wasted pieces stuff', but otherwise, have been practically drowning myself in strip sewing. After I made up my mind to play with the class demo strips, it almost became a compulsion to finish it out. Just wanted to make the effort and then throw all the little bits away and be done.
Calling this one 'Practice'
I really thought there would be more sashing or border work between the rows as the quilt started doing the medallion thing, but it just never looked right after the middle portion was sewn together. Okay, that's fine. 

I played and played one afternoon with the sets of strips, mixing up the colors in the first two outside borders. Played with the scale by folding the auditioned rows under seeing if skinnier rows looked better or not. Finally got a plan figured out and then, at row two, totally forgot that I intended to make the top and bottom portions be about three and a half inches longer so as to end up with a rectangular quilt.*sigh  I couldn't believe it when I laid out my finished quilt and saw that somehow I had ended up working on auto-pilot and yep! Cut and sewn the outside rows an identical width all around the quilt. Uggh... 

The third outside border doesn't look as
awful as I expected
I went to bed that night pretty irritated with myself and disappointed with the quilt overall. It could have looked so good! But then I got to thinking and you know what? This quilt is not anything special. It's not something that I've spent months thinking about and wondering how to instill a certain 'vibe' and look into. It is exactly what the name implies. Practice. 

So I laid it out on the floor again and took all the cut off portions and started to play again. Eventually I decided to trim those shorter portions down to the {almost} shortest length and make two long border pieces out of those. Whatever that size ended up being? That was it, gonna have to work. Only had to use the seam ripper on two different block units and replace super short strips with a new one.

Looking much softer in the right light...
And that was that. Instead of two strippy borders around the center of the quilt, the top and bottom ended up with three. Wallah! Super interesting quilt to play with just in making-do, finding good spots for terribly blah fabrics, how the look changed so quickly by reducing strip lengths in a border. That sort of thing. Fun to pursue but now I'm done, almost exhausted with it all. Ready to move on to more compelling colors of fabric and do my own thing again! Or is this maybe more my thing than I realize? Just winging it and figuring out how to make things work? Whatever. It definitely doesn't hurt anything to try!