Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dear Little Red and Green Blocks . . .

Dear Little Blocks,
    I am sorry I had to remove you from the floor, place you in a stack, and put you away.  We have toddler grandchildren coming into town who might have walked  all over you, crumpling and creasing you. I know you wouldn't want that and I know it would have happened because you were in a corner of the most-used room in our house beside the area where they play.  I will (probably) pull you out again later and you will become a quilt.  You are safe from little hands and feet and can rest your threads for a while.  Take care.

Those who live without a design wall learn to make do.  I have a 36" x 48" bulletin board that I sometimes use but it's not big enough for a whole quilt.  I also have a section of wall where I can tape a limited number of blocks.  And I have the floor.  Usually I can leave blocks on the floor for a few weeks, if necessary, but not over the holidays or when visitors come.  No matter, it all works out in the end.  Blocks are arranged, stitched into tops, then quilted.  All's well that ends well.

Who knows how long these little blocks will rest in the closet.  One of these days I'll get back to them.  Probably.

--Nancy.
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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Still Slowly Stitching


I wish you beautiful weather and 
a restful Sabbath for your slow stitching.

--Nancy.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Wool Star Quilt


A year or two ago I found this quilt at a thrift store and something about it "spoke" to me.  It was hard to lay it out and examine it closely but the price was right and so, with little more than a quick once over, I brought it home. 

Every block has a red center.  And every block is blanket stitched with a contrasting color of perle cotton.  There are some fun color combinations.  Some stitching is evenly precise while other stars have slightly irregular stitching.  It makes me wonder if several people made the quilt. 
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The seams in each block have the same number of precisely made French knots between the star sections and the center hexagons, but not every star is the same.  Some of these stars look crooked or cock-eyed but it is because I photographed while the quilt was hanging on the clothesline.  In real life the stars are symmetrical.

All the fabric is wool.  Some backgrounds use loosely-woven fabric and some stars are twill.  This blue background, below, is not as durable as the other background fabrics used.

The quilt is tied, not quilted, but the ties don't seem to show on front, only on the back.  Without quilting it seems less durable, more fragile.

The backing is a wool paisley. Unusual colors, don't you think?

There are two unfortunate things about this quilt.  First is that someone spilled something on it.  It's yellowish and hard, almost liked dried varnish.  There are two small spots on the block below but there are several larger sections on the quilt.

The other unfortunate thing about this quilt is that it smells.  It's an old smell.  Not musty or mildewy but just old and sour.

I don't know what to do for this quilt to preserve it.  I wish I could get the spots out, and the odor, too.  It's crossed my mind to cut it apart but I haven't been able to make myself do it, especially not without a plan for it.

I'm such a sucker for an old quilt!  Are you?  Do you rescue old quilts?  Are you very careful about which ones you bring home?  Have you ever cut a quilt apart?

--Nancy.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What Was I Thinking?

Do you ever start a quilt, set it aside for a while, and when you come back to it wonder what you were thinking when you started?  I can't set blocks aside for too long or I lose the thread of my idea/ inspiration for them.  That's what happened to this quilt.


I pulled out these 5" blocks, made enough more to lay them out in an 8 x 11 configuration, and then scratched my head.  How did I come up with the idea of red circles on green and green Xs on red?  And so scrappy?  I usually keep track in a notebook but I could find nothing about this quilt.

Then I tried to photograph the blocks.  I've been trying for days without much success.  (Note to self:  Never lay out blocks where there is not enough light for a good photograph.)

too light
You can see what I mean about the photographs being too light and too dark but these two show all of the blocks.

too dark

















I don't know where this quilt is going -- maybe into the trash if I don't figure it out -- but I finally remembered what the inspiration was.  Last spring my husband and I were driving past a hardware store with flowers on display on long, high steps.  There was a section alive with the reds of dozens of varieties of roses.  Bright, cheerful roses against their lush green foliage.  A quilt popped into my mind and the photos above show the results.  Hmmm.

I'm at a loss for the next step in this quilt.  More blocks?  The blocks as they are with a border or two?   If borders, what colors?  These blocks have been laying out for a week or two.  If I don't make a decision in the next day or two I'll pick them up and put them away for another time (or, as I said, in the trash).

I'm thinking of starting a weekly link party (maybe Inspiration Sunday) to invite others to share their inspiration.  Would you participate?  I have such a small blog with a tiny following, maybe no one would want to link....  Or maybe quilters don't keep track of their inspiration?

Do you notice the sources of your inspiration for quilts, either before you start, during the process of making a top, or after you've finished a quilt?

I'm linking this post to
Oh Scrap! at Quilting is more fun than Housework
Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
Scraptastic Tuesday at She Can Quilt
Let's Bee Social #85 at Sew Fresh Quilts
WOW at Esther's Blog

Thank you, ladies.


--Nancy.
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Friday, August 7, 2015

Quilt Books on Loan

I'm a frequent borrower of books from our local library -- lots of quilt books but also fiction and non-fiction; however, the librarians are often surprised when I check out my books and there aren't any quilting books.

Here are four of the books I've borrowed recently.  I'm showing only covers (so I don't violate copyright) and adding a few notes/comments.

Everything Patchwork:  40 Classic Quilts, Bags and Accessories by Corinne Crasbercu.
Everything Patchwork
     This is a beautiful book.  The photographs cover the first half of the book, the patterns follow.  The subtitle almost says it all.  I know a title can't list all the accessories but they include pincushions, scissors holder, tidies, bunting, bags, tea cozies, aprons, and more.  There is a shoulder bag (p. 48) I'd love to make.
     Being from the U.S., I was slightly put off by measurements in centimeters.  I'm not math-inclined so trying to imagine the size was hard.  Of course a tape measure with both inches and centimeters solved the problem.


Quilt Lovely:  15 Vibrant Projects Using Piecing & Applique by Jen Kingwell
Quilt Lovely by Jen Kingwell
     You'll find modern, vintage, traditional-with-a-modern-twist quilts; applique and patchwork quilts; and both bright and natural colors.  You'll also find pillows and suggestions for using a quilt pattern for a pillow, and vice versa. 
     There's probably a pattern for everyone to love in this book.  Clear directions for each pattern accompany the photographs, which cover several pages.
     This is a book I will have a hard time returning to the library.  Even if I never make one of the patterns exactly, it holds a wealth of inspiration amongst its pages.


The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters:  A Guide to Creating, Quilting & Living Courageously by Sherri Lynn Wood
The Improve Handook for Modern Quilters
     My first response to this book was "too modern for me" and "these quilts look too hard to make."  But as I read I realized that the book is not about making beautiful quilts nor about providing patterns for quilts but about encouraging an adventurous spirit in the quilt-maker to try new ways to cut and use fabric, to see things differently, and to experiment.  I love the rhythm and symmetry of traditional quilts but I appreciate the vibrancy and energy of modern quilts.
     If you are a hesitant block-maker and are willing to experiment and take chances, this will be a great book for you.  If you're already adventurous and want to acquire new skills and experiment, this book is for you, also.


Sew Organized for the Busy Girl:  Tips to Make the Most of Your Time & Space:  23 Quilt & Clever Sewing Projects You'll Love by Heidi Staples
Sew Organized for the Busy Girl by Heidi Staples
     I found this book on a shelf with other new books and brought it home.  It's not a quilting book but I think many quilters will appreciate the no nonsense ways the author helps the reader evaluate her work methods, her environment, and her time.  The first part of the book includes topics like discovering your workspace personality, finding and organizing storage space, creating project bags, keeping sewing files, fitting sewing into your schedule, etc.  The other three-quarters of the book is filled with projects both large and small, all fabric and/or quilt related.
     I recommend this book even if the only reason you read it is because you need help organizing your time, your fabric, or your workspace.  Of course, there are also some fun patterns for projects created with fabric.


There you have four of my recent quilting book finds.  Have you found any great quilt books lately?

--Nancy.
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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Better Photo

Here's the better photo (compared to the bad photo) of the scrappy dark strings quilt I'm working on.  It's hard to get the colors accurately in a  photograph but I think these two photos come close.


The quilting is in progress.  The caramels-colored squares where there aren't pins are already quilted.  I keep thinking I should count the blocks in the quilt and keep track of how many I've quilted so I could tell when I'm a quarter done, or halfway, etc.  But I keep forgetting and just keep quilting.

Here's a close up.  The quilting barely shows but I'm quilting parallel to the sides of the caramel-colored squares.  It ends up being about a 2" grid across the quilt.  Plain but good for this quilt.


I'm linking this post to
-- WOW at Esther's Blog
-- WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
-- Let's Bee Social #84 at SewFreshQuilts 
-- Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework 
Thank you, ladies, for hosting.

Wishing you a good day!

--Nancy.
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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Repairing a Break

I love my 14" wooden quilting hoop.  I know it's not the sturdiest kind to buy but it's a great weight and I'm willing to be careful with it.  Even with care it broke about a year ago.  I fixed it but the non-invasive repair didn't hold and it started to come apart last week.  Glue, cord, and a splint to the rescue.


This time I made a splint from a piece of another broken hoop (bought at a thrift store).  I lined up and clamped both pieces, drilled four tiny holes, glued the splint to the outside of the hoop (since it's the outside ring that's broken), then used some thin, super-strong cord to "stitch" the pieces together.  After it's dry I will wrap the repair with adhesive tape to hold the two pieces together and make it easy to put onto a quilt.

The outer hoop always gets the most stress because it moves when the quilt goes into and comes out of the frame.  But I think -- and hope! -- this repair will hold. 

Do you use a wooden hoop for hand-quilting?  Do you grow attached to your quilting and sewing tools and equipment?  What do you do when something breaks?

May all your tools remain whole and unbroken!

--Nancy.
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Monday, August 3, 2015

Quilts from the County Fair, 2015

These quilts were arranged so that it was difficult to get close -- so no looking closely at the quilting or any other details -- and especially difficult to get a straight-on photograph (at least for most of the quilts).   Apologies for lack of clarity.  And I must have missed the blue ribbon quilt....










Wishing you a good day!
--Nancy.
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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

A Binding for Sunday Morning - Binding Blitz

I do a generally good job of keeping up with binding my quilts as I finish them.  It just takes me a while to get around to choosing and layering a quilt top, then hand quilting it.


This is the first quilt I've finished this year and, therefore, the first quilt I've bound this year.  I'm pleased to be able to participate in Julie's July Binding Blitz at JulieKQuilts.

This quilt is "Sunday Morning."  The perimeter is 316½" around.  The binding strips were cut slightly off-grain at 2" wide.  I folded the strips in half, carefully laid them on the edges of the quilt, stitched ¼" seam, turned the binding to the back, pinned it in place, and hand-stitched it.  It took about 6 hours to sew, but then I'm a slow stitcher.

Because the quilt is scrappy and uses light-colored fabrics, I chose a scrappy binding.  It doesn't call attention to itself nor overpower or detract from the quilt itself.

My last post was about "Sunday Morning" and you can see more photos and read details about the quilt there.

I'm linking this post to Julie's Binding Blitz at JulieKQuilts.  Thank you, Julie.

Thanks for visiting.

--Nancy.
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Good Morning, Sunday Morning!

At long last I can welcome "Sunday Morning" into true quilthood (if there is such a thing).  With top, back, and batting layered and stitched together it's a real quilt!

Both the front and back are scrappy.  My husband likes the back better than the front.  It seemed like a bear to put together but I do rather like it.


From the photos above it looks like I quilted on the diagonal in only one direction but look at the close-up below and you can see a double line of diagonals in both directions.  I used masking tape as a guide to stitch from corner to corner then added a square in the middle of those.  I wasn't too concerned that the center squares were exactly square or exactly centered.  It's a scrap quilt, after all.


I wish I could say I love this quilt.... When I saw the pattern in the book, Sunday Morning, a few years ago I took an inventory of my strings and thought it would be a great quilt to make.  Perhaps if I'd been more particular about the colors I used I might like it more.  I'm not a white-white person.  I like naturals, creams, and tans much better and this quilt has a lot of white.  But it will keep someone warm in the winter.

Details
Timeline to Completion

spring 2012 - quilt begun
 5 Jun 2013 - all blocks laid out
15 Jun 2013 - top stitched
19 Jan 2015 - scrappy back finished
21 Jan 2015 - hand quilting begun
 9 Jul 2015 - quilting finished
17 Jul 2015 - binding stitched
23 Jul 2015 - washed and dried

Batting was Cream Rose 100% cotton

Measurements
74½" x 90"  - top before layering
73½" x 88½" - after quilting
73½" x 88¼" - after binding
72"  x 86¼" - after washing & drying


I'm linking this post to
> Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts 
> WIPS Be Gone Week 31 at A Quilting Reader's Garden
> Creative Goodness Linky Party - July 31st at QuiltShopGal
> Can I get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
> Link a Finish Friday #179 at Richard and Tanya Quilts

Thanks for visiting and, if you leave a comment, thank you for that, too.

I hope you've had a great week!
--Nancy.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Exuberant Horses - Color Inspiration

Our local zoo has a restored, vintage carrousel with beautifully painted horses.  I think the colors and color combinations are bright and exuberant, and that some would make beautiful quilts.
 




Sadly, I didn't take any photos showing whole horses.

This is another image from the zoo that made me think of a quilt, particularly an appliqued quilt.

And then there were the pale flamingos with their creamy eyes and coral feet.  (They weren't interested in posing for photos, hence the incomplete face/head in the photo.)

I often see color combinations for quilts but I sometimes find it difficult to find fabrics like the colors I see.

How about you?  What are the sources of your color inspiration?  Do you ever have trouble finding fabrics for the quilts you imagine?

 --Nancy.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My First Double Border (with the Poor Photo)

It's a terrible photo (which I'll try to replace) but I'm so excited about having this top ready to quilt I couldn't wait to post.


I've been without a computer for nearly a month.  I thought my old one could be repaired but it couldn't, and then I took time to deliberate about which computer to buy.  Then the company lost the boxes before they ever left the factory.  The computer finally arrived last week and a few days later my computer-geek-friend came over and transferred everything from my old computer to this new one.  It's been a bit of an ordeal but now I'm good to go.

The good thing is that I've spent more time quilting and reading.  (I'll post about books and a local quilt show another day.)  I finished hand quilting "Sunday Morning."  My hope is always to have a new quilt layered and basted before the last one is done but I didn't succeed this time because I didn't have a quilt top ready.

I decided on a narrow red border and a wide brown border for this quilt.  It's the first time I've put two borders on a quilt.  The side borders are narrower than the end borders.  The quilt just seemed to need a little extra length and I felt like the borders worked for the quilt.  At this point I like it a lot.  (Those tan squares remind me of caramels.)

I'm doing simple diagonal quilting using the corner squares as a guide.  I'm not sure what I'll do about the borders but I have time to decide.  (That's probably what I said when I was approaching the finish of "Sunday Morning," too:  I have plenty of time to get another quilt layered and ready to quilt.  Ha!)  Still, I think about the border as I quilt, wondering if continuing the diagonal lines into the borders will be good or whether I should consider a different kind of quilting around the outside of the quilt.

Apologies for the poor photo.  I'll replace it with a better one if I can.  (EDIT:  You can see a better photo at here.

I'm linking this post to WOW at Esther's Blog.

Thanks for visiting.

--Nancy.
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