Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sugar Skulls

A lot of life and projects have happened since I was here last, but let's just jump to this project:

I posted this little tease on facebook, and I was happily surprised at how many people liked the sugar skull fabric.

This is what I made with it:
Matching dresses for Poppy and her doll, Becky.

Becky was Bethany's doll when she was a girl,
and we're delighted that Poppy loves her
as much as Bethany did.

Bethany says Poppy loved the sugar skull fabric when she opened the package, and she loved the dress when she unfolded it. But when she noticed the little doll dress that was included, she really got excited! She ran upstairs to put them on, and Bethany heard Poppy talking to Becky about loving the dresses. In fact, when Bethany heard a squeal of delight and asked what it was about, Poppy said, "Oh, that was Becky!" That makes me so happy!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Quilt Show!

Harold and the Purple Crayon, at the Quilt Show
Of course, I listened in when viewers came into the room to see the challenge quilts. These 18x22" quilts were submitted anonymously, and viewers were invited to vote for their favorite quilt. The theme for the challenge was "Children's Storybooks," and everyone who saw the quilts could relate to them. (Maybe yours was there: Nancy Drew, Pippi Longstocking, Fancy Nancy, The Little Engine That Could?) When I heard viewers say they were divided between two quilts, I encouraged them to vote for both of them! (I had on an official badge, so they listened to me!) After all, are you voting for your favorite story, or depiction, or technique?

I'm dressed to coordinate with my mini quilt.
Not really.
People who knew the story of Harold and the Purple Crayon recognized it immediately, happily and sentimentally. Others just walked past, wondering, "What is that creature in the lower left corner?" (It's a dragon. Harold drew it to protect the apple tree. His hand shook and drew waves as he backed away from it, and he found himself sinking in the water, so he drew a boat...)

Country Girl
This little quilt was tucked away in a corner, below eye level, so it didn't show very well. It was popular with little girls.
Pretty colors!
Country Girl is another little quilt I'll be happy to hang in my sewing room. (I'm running out of room in there.)

I submitted this quilt for judging, in the Group Quilt category. The judge's comments were minimal; pattern is a good choice for a group quilt, good scrap quilt, nice modern design, appropriate quilting. Okay. It's nice the judge didn't point out the obvious imperfections in stitch length and spacing, but I expected a little more direction for future projects.

Feathers looked great hanging in this space. It was the first quilt seen when a viewer turned the corner, and was in a booth with some fantastic neighbors. I felt very honored to see that Feathers held its own in distinguished company!

The 7 Sisters Quilt Show was a lot of fun. Lots of great quilts to see, friends to connect with. And vendors! I bought stuff: fabric, and a great basket for holding/carrying my hand project. I'll show you later!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Country Girl

I was so excited about getting my Harold and the Purple Crayon mini quilt finished in time to take it my guild meeting, and turn it in for the upcoming quilt show, I forgot to take a picture of it before I handed it over. I'll be sure to take a picture of it hanging in the show!

I've changed the name of the other little quilt I was working on for the show to Country Girl. Here she is:

You can click on any of the pictures to make them bigger.

I love this little quilt! I liked the Madrona Road fabric as soon as I saw it, and I surprised myself by buying a bundle of the entire collection, and in the pink/orange colorway! The fabrics begged me to put them in a sampler, but not just any sampler. I found the Perfect Points pattern on the Connecting Threads website.

From the beginning, this quilt has had me thinking of Flagstaff, AZ, my home town. Look at these design motifs:
We didn't have a truck, but my stepdad had a big, old, carryall. It's like an enclosed truck. It certainly drove like a truck; I had to use both hands to shift gears!

We didn't have a windmill, but we had a well for water. That's why I take quick showers, and turn off the water when soaping my hands or dishes, or brushing my teeth. We learned to conserve water, or we would run out!

We did have a donkey! My sister, Grace, begged to keep it, then she had the job of taking care of it. On mornings when she was late with its breakfast, that donkey made a lot of noise.

In the summer, fields around Flagstaff are filled with prairie sunflowers.

There's no better place to look at stars. At 7000 ft. altitude, you feel as if you could reach out and touch the sky. Did you know that Flagstaff is the first International Dark Sky City? Those nighttime views are protected!

Julie has been my friend since we were in high school together in Flagstaff. We encouraged each other in textile arts and other projects, love for the outdoors, and appreciation of all things quirky and/or beautiful. As high school friends do. Julie commented on a Flickr picture of this quilt, "That's an amazing amount of work!" I can't begin to add up all the hours that went into this quilt. Including the hours picking out stitches that didn't work, like the machine embroidered words I later covered with a Dresden/sunflower. 

Burying threads, so there is no backstitching on the quilt top.
This bandanna print is the back of the quilt. 
Every time I started or stopped a line of quilting stitches, I pulled the top and bobbin threads to the same side, knotted them, threaded them onto a needle and buried the knots in the quilt layers. That was a lot of loose threads to hide!

Even after I posted a picture on facebook, and called the quilt done, I went back and added a few more areas of free motion quilting. 

I added the vine stitching in some white areas to flatten them.

I loved working on this little quilt, and it's got me looking forward to visiting Flagstaff soon! I will enjoy seeing it hanging in the upcoming quilt show, and when it comes home, let's see if I hang it on the wall, or if I add some more quilting to the background! 

Although, I am already onto a new project...
Tie-dyed fabric, getting chopped!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Two steps forward, one step back.

I'm making progress on my Harold and the Purple Crayon mini quilt. After I'd fused and glued all the white foreground and purple cording, I remembered that I'd intended to quilt the background before I added anything to it. Now, like Harold, I am going to come up with another strategy to meet the needs of this project. I'm going to try to FMQ some words in the background.

I must enhance Harold's face and hand.
I'm nervous about doing it with stitching,
and may stick with permanent ink.
I'm also working on this small quilt, which I am currently calling Farm Girl. 
It also must be finished in the next two weeks so it can hang in the upcoming multi-guild quilt show. It needs more quilting in the motifs, quilting in the border, words in the center of the wreath, and some hand quilting. And binding, and a hanging sleeve on the back. 
It would be fun to quilt every inch of this thing, but I'm going to call it finished, soon!
You can see the wreath needs an outline stitch, and I'll add a phrase in the middle.
I'm going to try the lettering feature on my sewing machine.

I have bee blocks to make for this month, too. Lisa McG's request for paper-pieced Mosaic blocks led to flurry of fabric pulling to find cute features for the centers of the quadrants. Lisa has graciously agreed to me sending her the quadrants not sewn together into blocks, and  with their paper still on the back. She can mix them in with hers, and that's another project crossed off my list!

So much cuteness!

I have yet to make bee blocks for Lysa M, but I think I'll be squeezing those into the last few days of the month. Unless, of course, we decide to go away for Memorial Day weekend. Then I'll hole myself up in my sewing room, and the family will have to fend for themselves. ahhh, sewing stress is the best kind of stress!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Is this going to be as good as I hope it will be?

Do you remember this book?
Harold draws himself in and out of adventures and predicaments, all with his purple crayon. His story still delights me, as it did when I was a child. (I related to Harold especially since I shared the same round-shaped head.) I am encouraged to strike out and try something new, confident that any difficulty can be remedied with some creativity and some forward thinking. So, I venture to tell his story in a quilt, using methods that are new and experimental to me.
My drawing, hanging up as a reference.

There's a big, multi-guild quilt show here in June, and the theme for the challenge quilt is Children's Storybook. Make a 18"x22" mini quilt for exhibition and viewers can vote on their favorites.  "Of course!" I said. "I love children's literature!" I said. "What was I thinking?" I say, now. "I have too much to do!"
A patchwork background made of various neutrals,
and story shapes added with fusible webbing.

I thought about making something glittery with Rainbow Fish, or 3-D with the Very Hungry Caterpillar, or flowery with The Secret Garden. Those are good stories, and images that will catch the eye, and the votes. But the purple crayon is speaking to me these days, and I am going to put my time and energy into something that I like, that speaks to me.
A practice scrap, to see if stitching on the purple cording
with a zig zag will work. Yep, it works!

Finally committing to a healthy eating plan and taking off some unhealthy weight, taking steps to improve communication in my marriage, agreeing to take on a leadership role at my quilt guild, trying new approaches to reach students at work, saying yes to that still, small voice that is calling DH and me back into public service... These are all areas of my life where I'm engaging in adventures and predicaments.

Hmm, I wonder if I can glue the cording on first, to get the placement
I want, and stitch it on later. Yep, glue works!
I'm not going to push the metaphor too far, but the purple crayon symbolizes for me a "yes" response to possibilities and interactions.

At the end of Harold's story, he made his bed (Get it? He made his bed?) and drew up the covers (Drew up the covers!) and fell asleep. (I remember being amused by the play on words even when I was little.) I love spending time in my sewing room, where I get quiet  and thoughtful and peaceful. Have you heard this: Quilters lead pieceful lives.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Blow me away!

It's springtime on the central coast, and that means wind!

This quilt has been finished for several weeks (Remember when I was working on it back here?), but it takes two to hold it up, plus decent weather to photograph. Now I'm tired of waiting to put this one away, and I have young adults at the house today, to serve as quilt holders.

There are three holding this quilt, and it threatened to sail them across the lawn!

 This is a true scrappy quilt, in which I tried to use up all the little scraps in my door-hanger scrap collection.
It was tame in this picture. Now it's overflowing, again!

I used up a lot of unfavorite fabrics by cutting them into little pieces and putting them in the background. I also used some very favorite fabrics. They're all jammed together, making this a very busy quilt, but it turns out I like busy quilts! I think the scrappiness invites the viewer to explore the pattern and fabrics.

 Still, because it has so much going on already, I wanted the quilting to be simple, and to blend all the blocks together. So, an all-over meander stitch. Only a couple places where my stitch line crosses itself, and yes, it did seem to take forever!

I haven't washed this quilt yet, to get the crinkly-soft texture I love, but since I don't have any quilting marks to wash out, I'm just going to put this on the bed in the guest room. I'm looking forward to some special company coming in 10 days!

Pattern: Japanese x&+ quilt. I used Amy's tutorial at Badskirt.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Central Coast Colors

Central Coast Summer

Watching the Olympics has indeed been good for finishing some hand sewing!
Big stitches in the border.
I used a stencil and a white chalk marking pencil to mark this design onto the border of my Central Coast Solstice quilt. Pamela asked me about measuring the sides of the quilt and calculating how the design would fit. That kind of perfectionism is for others, and for machines; my quilt designs are a little more organic, you might say. Start at one corner and work toward the middle, then start at the next corner and work back to the middle again. Where the two meet up, add or subtract or modify a design element to make it fit!
Add another diamond in the middle to fill the space!

I moved around the perimeter of the quilt, and the little difference in the diamond orientation means that all four sides are slightly different. If I'd done two opposite sides, then the other two opposite sides, they'd match each other... oh well! Another lesson learned! 

Doesn't it look charming on the bed?
This is my sewing room/guest room,
where I can admire it easily!

I sewed together the blocks for Easy Street

I have put a lot of time and energy and fabric into this quilt top, but I don't love it. My fault: I toned down the colors recommended for this mystery quilt, and I should have toned down the background, too, to give the design more contrast. I love the pattern, but  I don't want to work on this anymore. I made a backing for it, and took it to the charity team for my quilt guild. They'll long-arm quilt it for me, then I'll bind it and donate it to the guild for our quilt auction this summer. It's a win-win situation: the quilt gets finished and benefits someone else! Out of my UFO pile, and my conscience! 

So, what have I learned from these projects? (Maybe if I write it down I'll remember?)

1. When making a mystery, pay attention to the contrast between the colors I choose. If I choose colors different from the recommended colors, especially, try to achieve the same intensity/value as the recommended hue. (Then my Easy Street wouldn't look so mushy.)

2. Before assembling blocks from all the components I've made, stop and look online at what others are doing. Try some of the block variations others are posting to see if they suit my composition. (Turning some chevrons around in my CCS blocks would have made stars inside the blue rings, but I wasn't about to take the blocks apart and resew them!)

3. If it looks like I'm making setting triangles for an on-point setting, stop and lay out the blocks and decide if I like the blocks that way, or if I prefer a straight setting. Then I won't have to take apart those setting triangles and remake them into full blocks. (Ahem.)