Monday, February 29, 2016

March Quilty 365 Linkup

What a year to try and do a 'block a day' sort of project. Could it get any crazier? Don't answer. I just don't wanna know... And I don't know how you're doing, but I am definitely struggling to keep current with stitching my blocks. Okay, confession time. Week before last, I totally lost three days. Who does that? But I'm still hanging in there, plodding along, and wallah! I present to you my first, completely finished, 100 blocks!
The first 100 circles!
Wowsers, that's a lot of circles! And it's not even all of the circles, because....
My month started with day 99. So yeah, that means I have more to show you! The circles below represent to you the entire month of February. {Shhh... We won't talk about the fact that nine circles are still un-stitched.} I've decided that since all the circles won't fit on my design wall at the same time, they will hereafter be broke up into sets of 100. Still in chronological order {for now} so I can see the progression of style and well, whatever it is that I'm doing....

As far as layout is concerned, I've reached only one conclusion: they will NOT be placed in this particular order for the finished quilt. I just don't like the lines of dark colored background blocks. Much better to mix them up throughout the quilt and have a fade-in, fade-out sort of effect.
All of the circles for February
And a little peek at how I'm keeping on track with the many multitudes of circles--If you're at all interested. My Quilty 365 year started on a Monday, October 26, 2015. Still writing the current days number on the back of each circle lets me know exactly how many circles are completed. With that and a cheap calendar, I just scribble a quick reminder of the day for every Monday of the month. I can easily see where I'm supposed to be. Aha! Exactly how I discovered the three lost days. Math. It doesn't lie.
Keeping track 
So how are you staying on track? Is this project getting easier as we go along, or harder? I've been so thankful for this simple project many days when I just wanted to stitch, but didn't want anything complicated. Mostly it's a lifesaver but not nearly as thought provoking as I figured it might be. Could be because I'm deliberately keeping it low pressure: simple, imperfect and straight from the scrap bin. Just like my life. If you want to learn how to sew wonderful, perfectly smooth appliqued circles, please don't look here. Meredithe is the bees knees with that and her tutorial will get you all straightened out.

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 101'}
  • A picture of your February 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

Thursday, February 25, 2016

February AHIQ Play

For some reason I experience a lot of resistance to starting my 'improv.' quilt projects. Yeah, yeah, I wing it all the time with applique, but that's different. Applique improv. is easy peasy.*wink  So even with lots of ideas percolating in my brain considering future improv. ideas {including three current stacks of wonderful-to-me fabric blends}, I pulled a brand new stack of fabric and did something completely different.
The first four
For the moment, I feel that boundaries are needful to me. A starting point and perhaps something I can 'see' will truly come together. A promise of success. So I returned again to Sujata Shah's 'Cultural Fusion' book. I love how she gives you the plan and then tells you to make it your way. My kind of thinking.

I've been wanting to make some chunky looking crossroad blocks for awhile now. Obviously. They've been simmering in the back of my brain {taunting me} and every now and then I see them flash across my vision like a mirage. Here and then, poof! they're gone. I see them a little bit wonky and LOVE that they aren't perfect--will never match up in a million years. But I never really did the work of figuring out how to make them. Or even look for patterns. There are so many quilty ideas floating around in my brain, who can keep track?
Looking at 12 blocks already!
Turns out I don't have to. In a maybe, what-if I look in the Cultural Fusion book? I found pure gold for this months AHIQ. On a different note, what really, really does need to happen is for me to learn how to follow a pattern correctly. I 'get it' and then as you see below, promptly forget it. Maybe I'm a visual learner? Huh. Probably 'hands on' judging by how often this happens.*sigh
Thankfully these are sewn together in sets of four. I might have given up if I'd already sewn all 100 squares that are cut out for the quilt! And I could feel myself relaxing by the third set of blocks. Whew!!! Wondering about cutting a curvier line, getting excited about the slight wonkiness I was achieving so easily. This is good stuff. No guilt here about starting yet another project. And I am using good fabric for this project. Really dug deep and used {mostly} fabric that I love. Fabric that I'm curious about--with colors that speak to me right now. I'm excited. Only 88 blocks left to go....

Linking up to Ann and Kaja  for the February AHIQ!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Playing With a Pieced Background

Do you ever end up with up with something that doesn't seem to work for anything creative at all? I had pieced these leftover 5" tumblers together ages ago, thinking they'd be a wonderful applique background. But it just never came together no matter how much I played with the idea. I had almost pitched the entire concept about a million times.
A background piece bites the dust
But I'm kinda stubborn and there was a tiny glimmer of something good in that piece. And you know how it {so rarely} happens, an idea just appeared out of practically nowhere. Finally. Next thing I knew, I was laying the larger tumbler piece out on the floor and wallah! cutting out a large basket. The tumbler background had quite suddenly become the {to-be appliqued} basket fabric! There was certainly no sleeping on it or carefully planning out of the details. It could have been terrifying, but frankly, I was having a ball. So very good of the tumbler piece to have enough left for the handle too. That's a good touch.
Liking it so much better as part of the applique
And once that was up on the wall, then of course I had to play with some applique. What is a basket centerpiece without a bit of applique? A dig through my applique leftovers and I was looking at the first flower. Too simple? Nahh....
There's always a flower
It just needs another one for balance. Maybe one that isn't even fully in bloom.
Or two....
And yes, it's that classic, red, white and blue look that I always go back to. It's a good, solid look that tides me over in times of low-intensity thinking sessions. I'm still playing around with the handle, stretching it out to make a taller basket, wondering and contemplating, trying to find the right red fabrics in my stash. These flowers will be too small once the seam allowance is turned under. Plus, I'm looking around my quilt room for the perfect background fabric. Why don't I figure out how to piece the tumbler basket into a background fabric you ask? Trust me, it's just easier to hand stitch. My brain hurts and I'm exhausted from last week. Hand stitching often goes a very long way toward easing out my very frazzled edges. And I'm addicted to it. Nuff said.*wink

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Little Bit of Border Progress

Progress is being made on the Sunburst borders. I only have one more motif to sew on the second border and then I'm half done. 
Working on the borders
Repeats are always a good thing to be sewing on when there are distractions. After the second or third motif, they almost sew themselves.*wink  Just kidding. Actually, I discovered {or rather remembered} that the curved edges did not get clipped on the second border. Ahh... What a time to remember. For some reason, it totally spaced my mind before starting to stitch down the edges of my applique pieces!
Progress on Sunburst
However, when I lay the borders side by side or even in the proper arrangement with the rest of the quilt, I see no difference at all. How crazy is that? I'm sure it means that I'm a sloppy appliquer or something less than flattering, but I'm going with the 'how wonderful is that' attitude. Now I can skip that tedious little step {completely guilt free} for the 3rd and 4th borders as well. Thank goodness for that folksy applique look I love to appreciate!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Busy Days

Where I want to be today. Just got back from a flying trip to Oregon with my daughter where I got to spend time with my oldest son as well. Good times.
My itsy bitsy quilt room
My husbands aunt died the day I returned home after some extended time in the hospital. She was getting better and then had a setback she was never able to recover from. Now we have a funeral to take care of and several of her siblings and family coming into town this later this week. Lots to do! I'm determined to squeeze one day in for me, but sometimes it's just not possible without sacrificing all my dignity. {Bathrooms do have to be cleaned etc.} Thankfully I have a stack of applique all prepped and ready to go!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

I Think It's Going To Be a Wall Hanging

I am so fickle, jumping from project to project as the muse directs. The Antique/Vintage block as been calling my name lately, seemingly a fun and easy project. The block itself was hand pieced and then washed at some point in it's history. Why do people do that? Nothing about the block is square, there is blue dye bleed on it and it's unraveling slightly on the backside. Still, I do love it {it's sparked something interesting within} so why not play?
Making the block square
The flaws mean that no matter how much I love the block, it's not a good candidate for full-on use as part of a bed type quilt.*sigh  There went my dreams of making it large enough to actually use. So... I am curbing my natural tendencies and making a wall hanging. First I added a coping border and then trimmed down to something square. Next up was this cream/black toile print that I had only bought 1/2 yard of. Seriously? Who buys only 1/2 yard of a toile fabric? Terrible forward planning, but I did make it work.
Trying to figure out the next step...
After a sleep or two, I decided that the next border needed to have some color {no matter how tempting that stripey shirting print is}. I attempted a mixture of red and blues, but as you can see, there isn't much variation in value. That bothers me a bit, but not enough to give up. It's surprising how little navy I buy these days and the red, well, it's always being pillaged. I can't ever keep up with good red fabrics. Especially the rosy red ones as they're so very scrumptious to use.
Another border
I'm sensing a sort of Valentines theme with this sweet little wall hanging. So not me and yet... it really sort of is. And it needs to be just a little larger to successfully fit into the space that I'm eyeballing on the stairway. Possibility of one, two more borders? Which is kind of ironic because I thought this would be the beginning of my mini quilt gallery. Guess not. It seems I'll have to gradually reduce the size of my quilts until I can be truly happy with a little one.

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