Sunday, April 13, 2014

Garden 2014

With 80 degree weather today (unusual - though welcome) I think we have finally shaken off the long cold winter that hit us this year.  Yesterday I was able to open up the house and wash 24 windows, and the windows in 3 doors - plus clean all the curtains.  AMAZING what a difference that makes - the fresh air, the clear view... who would have thought that cleaning would be so theraputic!
Today found me cleaning out the garden beds.  I didn't make it all the way around - if you've paid any attention to the pictures of my gardens - you may have noticed that I nearly have more garden than lawn.  Lets just say that Munchkin and I filled SIX big paper leaf/lawn bags today -and that didn't count the two that got filled last weekend, or the big pile of sticks we put at the curb.  I got the leaves and debris raked out of the front and side beds - everything from the back of the house to the back fence still has to be done - but truly isn't as bad.  The front beds collect the maple leaves - the back beds not so much.  It is mostly trimming out the dead flower heads that I left in for the birds.

It was also a good time to do some trimming - as with no leaves on the small trees and shrubs I was able to see where the crossed branches were and cut away to open things up.  I even tackled the rosebush - though I did not escape unscathed.

Not too much is blooming - crocuses, flag iris, snowdrops (lots and lots and LOTS and LOTS of snowdrops), and one little tiny daffodil just getting ready to open (snow forecast for Tuesday, Mom - right as always!)  The hyacinths are ready to burst out, and I can see the beginnings of the rhurbarb, strawberries and hops, along with many many other sprouts and buds and signs of life again.  YAY!

I even got busy with some planting!  I didn't do anything outside - I need to do some tilling in my raised beds and my garden claw has disappeared - so hopefully when we return from some Easter travels I will be able to get a new one and get in some of those early spring "cold weather" crops.  In the meantime, I have some lettuce and basil already sprouted and moved up to the next sized container in my "greenhouse", and I put in some seeds today.

It was 'thyme."


Saturday, April 05, 2014

Making haste slowly

On April 11, 2008 I received a pattern in the mail. Last night - I put all but the last border on my version of that pattern.

I am not quite ready to share my photos of the project - though a few of my Instagram followers did get a sneak peek when I was asking for advice.  Lets just say it looks NOTHING like the original pattern.

This was a project that I collected fabrics for over a long period of time - they were my travel squares, my shop hop buys, and my memories of my adventures.

Working on this again after a long hiatus has been a walk down memory lane... and I am finishing it in a way that is reflecting some more recent memories -some happy, some sad, but all of them treasured.

Maybe that is why this one has taken so long - it needed more memories to make it complete.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Wraparound Shot

So, I do a lot of sewing that ends up at my neighbor's house.  Two quilts for her boys when they were born, one for her, the TARDIS and the Millennium Falcon as gifts she commissioned.... so she and I had discussed how I was shamefully neglecting her hubby -and what I should make for him.

He is a hockey player - but a jersey quilt was not going to be realistic because of the types of fabrics involved.

He is a Boston Bruins fan - so perhaps a logo quilt?

I pondered this for nearly a year.  I even acquired a panel of an ice rink to stash away for a backing when I was ready for it.
And then I found a tutorial online for a Broken Wheel block. (if I can find it again, I will repost it - but I can't find the link right now.  It was metric - so some kind non-US blogger sharing talents!)  The broken wheel looked similar to the Bruins logo- not identical but similar enough that it caught my imagination and I thought I could have fun interpreting it.  I dove into my stash for golds and blacks (including some golds left over from the Millennium Falcon and blacks left over from the camera quilt), added a bit more gold and some black yardage - and hand built a "B" for the big block.  I printed the logo from a coloring page, cut out the large B in black, and then the accents in gold - zig zag stitching all around each both inside and out.  It gave it the texture of a vintage high school sweater letter.
I quilted it in concentric circles as I felt that would work best from both the front and the back.  They were a bit wobbly in some parts, but so are hockey skaters, right?  It's not like figure skating with perfect figure eights, right?   Once again my variegated Aurifil threads came in handy - adding some dimension to this essentially three color top without taking over.  There was a black based variegated on the top and a primarily slate blue variegated on the back.

Saturday was his birthday - so "Wraparound" was given to him then.  I wasn't there -so don't know how he feels with my interpretation of his beloved team... but now their family of quilts is complete.

Unless I make one for their dog?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Photo Finish

This is finish #4 for 2014 - "1829" was a donation quilt for RIT's United Way campaign and was put into an online auction, with the proceeds going to the local United Way. I've been planning this quilt for a while.

 I had seen the pattern on the website All People Quilt, and had been visualizing it, collecting the "camera body" fabrics, and collaborating with a photographer friend for the photographs of RIT.  There are 20 different photos from well known sights on campus, different buildings, seasons, events and landmarks.
I used iron on transfers for the photos - as most of the other methods I have seen do not have the durability when washed, and I was not sure who would be receiving this quilt and what they would be using it for.  Nearly all the camera bodies are different fabrics, but each shutter button is the same, as are all the "flash cubes."
I wanted it to be hangable if the winning bidder wanted, or useable as a lap quilt -and as much as I don't like square quilts, this one ended up 58x59.  I widened the sashing from the pattern and unified it in color to make the cameras float. 

The orange is our school color, so I put in one orange camera and a narrow orange strip between the body and the border - and the tag on the back is a "Polariod" of my co-conspirator and I.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Kessel Run

This quilt was another challenge from my next door neighbor - the same one who challenged me last year to do a TARDIS quilt.  Her request - the Millennium Falcon.

After much googling and pondering and wondering - I came across a poster by an artist named Szoki that would serve as my inspiration.  Connecting Threads provided the perfect fabrics to paint my picture, and I set to work.

This project was made in three parts.

First I determined the finished size of the quilt (62x84) and cut a muslin rectangle a bit larger than that.  I then started attaching the rust colored strips to that foundation - stitching, flipping, pressing, basting raw edges, then repeating - and repeating - and repeating.  That took a VERY VERY long time!!  And as I worked and added, the quilt got heavier and heavier.  I was essentially working with the entire quilt body right from the beginning - and my shoulders felt it on this one.

The second part was making the Death Star. That was pretty easy, actually.  I looked at a number of pictures and art of the Death Star online, and then just pieced together my impression of what it should look like.  I was going for a techno feel with lots of trenches going across.  I was piecing the lower quadrant, so I didn't have to worry about the big dish/weapon area, as that is always shown up above the equatorial trench.  That made my task easier.  I made it bigger than it needed to be - because I knew I was going to cut it down and wanted to be sure I had enough to play with.

Once the Death Star was pieced, I made a giant pattern out of kraft paper so that I could cut the pie wedge out of the Death Star as well as out of the body of the quilt.  I stitched it just like a mini drunkards path block -only with a radius of 31"!!!  That was a tense step -but it worked out very smoothly.

The third - and most difficult - step was making the Falcon.  Matt did his magic in Corel Draw, taking the outlines of the image from the poster and converting it into something I could use with fabric - plus making it much much larger.

I printed it out on 9 sheets of paper and then pieced it together to make my pattern, first laying it out on top of the quilt to see if it was in the proportions I wanted.  In these pictures you can various stages of my testing.  You can also see the muslin foundation peeking out from the corner before the Death Star was attached.

We played with various placements of the Falcon but ultimately Matt felt that we should have it "flying" along the lines created by the diagonal strips, so that is what we stuck with.

To make the Falcon, I first cut the full outline out of a dark dark blue fabric (actually leftover from the TARDIS!).  I then took the various sections you see in white and traced them onto freezer paper - simplifying the design even more by making the sections larger.  I ironed them on to the front of a slate blue fabric and the cut each one out.

I did not want to add the bulk of fusible adhesive to this project -since the area near the Falcon would ultimately have 6 layers of fabric (backing, batting, muslin, rust strips, dark blue and slate blue) - so I used a product called Lapel Stick to hold the pieces in place while I stitched around each piece.  It worked quite nicely and held them steady.  I chose to do a raw edge applique because it is the "fastest hunk of junk" and I wanted to have that raggedy feel.

Once the Falcon was done -the quilting began.  I worked on the diagonals first - doing many many closely spaced lines along the strips, in the middles, on the edges.

Next came the Death Star - horizontal bands of quilting following the lines of the trenches.

And then I started quilting the Falcon... and quilting the Falcon... and quilting the Falcon.  I think I put more thread into this quilt than any I have ever done.  Outline quilting, free motion quilting, straight line detail quilting, more outline quilting....

And then it was done.. and then it was washed... and then it was photographed... 
Death Star - notice the change in binding color at the edge of the Death Star
The Falcon

Falcon detail
I like how you can see the Falcon on the back... and how much this one crinkled!!

Each strip of fabric on the back represents a location in the original Star Wars trilogy - in order from top to bottom.  This photo show the Death Star, Hoth, Asteroid Field, Dagobah and Cloud City.

and then it was delivered.

Truly a bit sad to see it go - but I know it will be loved.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Earl of Thompson


Sometimes quilt inspirations come from interesting places... or from interesting people. In this case - it was both.
Last fall, a friend of mine from high school contacted me via facebook to ask if I ever sold my quilts.  In the course of the conversation, he asked me if he could design the center of a quilt and have me take that, finish the design, and then make it as a gift for his wife.

It sounded like a fun challenge - so I told him to email me his design. 

Well - it came to me in hard copy - and he had designed the entire top, including selecting the colors.   "I got carried away a bit," he said... but I loved what he had come up with.  I chose some tone on tone and mottled fabrics to work with to give the open spaces a bit of texture - and then I pondered this one for a bit while finishing up some holiday projects that had come first.

Once we got into the new year - I got to work on this, including making myself a prototype (in orange, of course!)It took me a bit to work out some of the logistics - like the floating diamonds in the little side blocks (tutorial to follow) - and to get past my apprehension of having to quilt all that open space.  A template, a Frixion pen, variegated Aurifil thread and a whole lot of patience -and we got that done as well.

The name is a combination of my last name from when he knew me (Earl) and his last name (Thompson) -and the fact that it looks rather like a family crest.

In actuality -his inspiration is surveyors targets!

And I think this design is RIGHT ON TARGET!!!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Three Left Turns

I am not sure whether to call this a 2013 quilt, or a 2014 quilt.  I pieced this over Christmas break but finished it today - it was not a planned project, but a friend is undergoing some medical stuff and I wanted to do a quilt for him.  I had seen this pattern online and wanted to try it for myself.  Only it featured the Moda hexagon precuts - which I didn't have.  And a lot of white - which I didn't think was the right choice for this particular project.

I wanted to use the grey for my background, and I wanted to cut my own hexagons.  Since I have the Hex-N-More ruler from Jaybird Quilts, I figured I could cut away at a bundle of batik and do my own thing.  Except I didn't figure on how hexagons are measured - I did 6.5" strips figuring I would get 6" hexagons, which is what I thought the Moda precuts were.  Except they are 6" through the middle, not height, so my hexagons ended up both taller and wider than the Moda ones.

No trouble - I adjusted my sashing accordingly (um - after I had already cut it too narrow and had to go back and recut), and dropped one hexagon out of each row - adding them in on my backing.  The finished dimensions are about the same - though I used less fabric in my side strips as a result.

I am happy with how it turned out - and would probably make it or something like it again.  Start to finish for the piecing including the cutting was less than a day.

The quilting I finished up on this today - just straight lines with some variegated Aurifil on the front, and a solid grey thread on the back.  Binding was the same fabric as the background, and as we were home with a "snow day" due to the Polar Vortex I was able to quilt AND bind this today (and snuggle under it in the process).

The recipient is a big baseball fan - so that dictated both the backing fabric and the name of the quilt.