Friday, September 30, 2011

Fabric's Siren Call

Half yard assortment

I'm in Minnesota, working and making the family rounds, so there hasn't been too much sewing/blogging time. But there's always fabric-buying time (how is it possible?!). I think my manic blog reading enables facilitates my fabric-buying habits and the internet is open 24/7!

I had to purchase some backing yardage, which I often get at for the stellar prices and I couldn't resist the Westminster/Free Spirit assortment above. They don't always have them available, so I jumped at the chance.

You get 15 half yard pieces of surprise fabric for $29.95 OR if you have a 15% off discount code (there's always one floating around) about $25.50. 7.5 yards of fabric for $25.50! It's a great stash builder! (Add enough to bring your total to $35 and you get free shipping!) Since it's Westminster/Free Spirit, I knew that the fabric would be to my liking and I wasn't disappointed!

A little Jennifer Paganelli

Jennifer Paganelli 1/2 yards

Chocolate lollipop

Some new-to-me, but really funky Jane Sassaman fabrics

Jane Sasseman 1/2 yards

And more! (Is it sad that I can identify a lot of these fabrics by sight? I blame the aforementioned blog reading...)

I also got my once in a million years haircut (I know, I know - I just can't be bothered to do it - a ponytail is my free and easy best friend! That sounds bad...) and the salon just happened to be right up the strip mall from my mom's LQS, Quilt Cove, so I stopped in. I rarely stop in LQSs because I'm such an internet/bargain shopper but I was rewarded with a 10 FQ bundle of Dream On!

Dream on FQs

Since making this quilt

Dream On Charming Stars

I've been wishing I had more from that line. I'm thinking of doing a traditional, vintage-y postage stamp or nine patch with my FQs. It would make a pretty sweet baby quilt.

Well, I'm off this afternoon for girls' weekend at a friend's cabin. Internet and sewing-free weekend! And it's Homecoming in Madison - Go Badgers!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Back to Being Straight Up Type B

Giant Star Quilt center

Recently, I have been doing a mixture of quilting from patterns and branching out into the pattern-free unknown. One of my problems, though (one of many) is that even when I use a pattern, I have to mess with it by making the blocks bigger or smaller, omitting a border or adding a border, etc.

It's like I am incapable of following directions (I don't lead with this in job interviews!). This is also the reason that I forget to add vanilla in a lot of recipes... Anyway, Jeni over at the fantastic In Color Order, posted a tutorial for a Giant Vintage Star Quilt last month. Pretty straight forward, super cute quilt. I think you get a lot of bang for your buck, meaning - it comes together very quickly and easily and I think it has a nice WOW factor despite having only 28 pieces. (I know - 28 pieces for an entire quilt! So great, right?!)

Giant Star Quilt

Anyhoo, I decided to outline the Prince Charming star with Kona Candy Green. Due to my ineptitude and lack of innate geometric instinct, I created an 8 point star with all the points cut off. I believe - math whizzes correct me if I'm wrong - that the points would not have turned out right because of the right angles in the corner [square] blocks. They do not come together at an angle that would leave background fabric exposed for the seam allowance (i.e., the right angle formed by the point in Flying Geese blocks).

Giant Star detail 1     Giant Star detail 2

And so, here I am, once again, scratching me head over an idea gone awry. It's probably because I've been saying that my sewing has improved and the quilting deities are saying - 'not really, hon.' :) But, it actually doesn't bother me too much. I'm going to bind it in Candy Green, so the binding will look like an extension of the stars. Maybe I'll call it the "Pointless Wonder"!

I also toyed with turning the two halves of the star outwards, so that the points meet in the middle. Kinda funky.

Giant Star Quilt 2

I'll definitely do more versions. This might be my go-to quilt for a fast gift project (minus the outlining!). Definitely give this quilt a try if you're in need of a quick quilt. Wouldn't it be fun in holiday colors - kinda snowflake-ish.

But don't be like me and try to outline it - it doesn't quite work out :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Type B Goes Type A...

Faraway quilt

... but in a Type B way :) Remember this post? Well, this is the result. Tadah! I present the Faraway Quilt (remember - the farther away you are, the better it looks!). I guess I was more committed to the original squares in squares layout than I initially thought. Enough time had passed (3 years!) that I was ready to face it again and set it right (well, within reasonable boundaries!).

I ended up taking apart all nine strips (of 12 blocks each). Sooooo much seam ripping. I trimmed the blocks down to 6" using the center strip as a guide. It is pretty amazing how poor the sewing is. The blocks were probably supposed to be 6.5" square, but a goodly number were definitely non-square rectangles and some were other geometric shapes! I certainly wasn't going to go back and re-sew all of the seams. But this seemed like an approach I could live with. It is 62"x62" or thereabouts. I didn't originally plan on a border, but I wanted to make sure it was a little bigger. (They really aren't wavy, it's just that my design wall curls in at the sides.)

Some of the blocks and points came together pretty well:

Faraway detail 3

Because of the strip tube method (is that what it's called?), all of the sides are on the bias and I think that gave me a bit of trouble the first time 'round. I did use a little spray starch when I was trimming and that helped a bit.

Faraway detail 1

Others - not so well:

Faraway detail 2

But truth be told, I'm not bummed about it. I'm thrilled to have a 3 year old UFO off my plate and ready to be quilted so I can enjoy it (or someone else can!). I love the layout and I'm happy that I only had to compromise on a few unmatching points. Super fun working with this fabric again. So much fun that I cut into my Prince Charming last night! (All Tula, all the time!)

Prince Charming WIP

This is my backing fabric for the Faraway Quilt. It's Joel Dewberry, I think it's from Chestnut Hill. I bought it so long ago that it's hard to remember, but I think it goes well with the Neptune.

Neptune Backing

I'll be heading off to Minnesota for two whole weeks on Friday. I'm trying to finish up prep on some of my October Surprises so I can take advantage of my mom's Juki while I'm there. After quilting my Project Modern challenge (and breaking my walking foot in the process), I just don't think my little machine is up for quilting.

I'm whipping up a short and sweet project and I hope to share later this week and I've been selecting fabric for another surprise project. I feel so productive! I usually sew at my own pace (i.e., willy nilly), so sewing for a particular purpose/date is kinda of new to me. But it helps keep me on task :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

WI Quilt Expo, Part 2

More Quilt Expo eye candy!

Mysore Saree, Linda Henderson, Salem(?), OH. Made with silks bought in India.

The detail work is amazing!

Even peacocks embroidered in the corner.

Asantewaa Warrior Woman, by Joan Coats, Omro, WI. Hand appliqued, machine-quilted, based on a female warrior from Ghana. The texture is amazing.

The quilt had other beads and embellishments and I love the faces she included in the quilting.

City Bank, Michele Szymaszek, Necedah, WI. A great interpretation of Cherry House's pattern. I love the bubble quilting.

Life is Just a Bowl Full of Cherries, by Rita Van Dyk, Dodgeville, WI. I am usually not too into 30's and 40's reproduction fabrics, but I just love this one. You can never say never! I certainly don't think I have the patience for that much applique, but it's amazing. Hand-pieced.

This was a wedding quilt for the quilter's daughter. It has signatures on the back.

Tree of Life, by Sharon Evans, Bartlett, IL. How great are these colors?! They are hand-dyes, which definitely give the windows a glow. Frank Lloyd Wright is a fixture here in WI, so I'm sure many identified it right away. One of my favorites.

Sailor's Delight, by Susan Liimatta, Stoughton, WI. This one was inspired by Rothko's paintings. THe quilting was lovely in person.

A Star is Born, by Kent Williams, Madison, WI. This quilt was inspired by the blending of the 13 colonies that became the 50 states. Tiny, thin pieces in this one.

8-Bit Mega Man: Mega Awesome, Lynn DeRolf, Madison, WI. This one was for the quilter's husband, the pixels are 3/4" blocks. My husband identified it right away.

Bubbly Blonde, by Laurie Ceesay, Menoninee, MI. Inspired by 1960's blonds like Twiggy.

Identity Thief, by Connie Warshall, Harshaw, WI. 500 clothing labels illustrating how our identity can be stolen by commercial consumption and brand-names.

Three by Four, by Mary Kay Price, Lake Oswego, OR. Hand-dyes.

The quilter wanted to see how her machine and hand-quilting could work together. I'd say, it worked great!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WI Quilt Expo, Part 1

This past weekend I went to the WI Quilt Expo (obviously, since that's what the title says!). I asked my husband a couple times throughout the week whether he wanted to accompany me. He really didn't. And actually, I enjoyed myself going alone. Don't get me wrong, I would have enjoyed having company, but I really liked being able to linger at certain vendors and bypass other altogether and revisit yet others. I composed little blog snippets as I went.

For instance, I definitely got a kick out of this and wanted to share:


I haven't been to too many shows, but I've been to the State Fair a lot and I think most judged shows definitely skewed to a certain type of quilt: more traditional in design and muted in palette (like the vendor booth below).

But I think times are a-changin' a little bit, at least. This quilt was draped on a mannequin at the Bernina booth (I think that's what it was...) that greeted people near the front of the Expo. Pretty modern looking!

And there were a number of more contemporary booths, as well. I loved Janie Lou's booth, but I was too busy perusing to take a photo (I picked up a small purchase of Sandy Gervais Merry and Britght). I also saw Weeks Ringle (from FunQuilts) - sitting at the desk! She and Bill Kerr have a new book coming out early next year. Can't wait!  

I have Color Harmony for Quilts and the Modern Quilt Workshop from the library and I'm really enjoying them. I just like their philosophy and aesthetic.

Of course, I tended to take pictures of the ones that struck me most, which were more in that style. But there are also several that I really liked that were pretty far outside my norm. I can fully appreciate the time and effort it takes to produce any quilt, especially the amazing hand quilted (and sometimes pieced!) quilts.

Let the show begin!

This was the big winner of the show: Vintage Button Bouquet, by Linda Ray from Knoxville, TN.

I really loved this one. Tiny, tiny 9-patches and every other block had a little embroidered motif.

Nine Patch Plus, Deanna Waltz, Wisconsin Rapids, WI.

I did not get the attribution on this one. But I love it! Simple piecing, dynamic colors, and I love the cross-hatching on the inner squares.

Dahlia's Bullseye, by Cherie St. Cyr, Madison, WI. Hand-dyed fabrics. I love this one. Though I overheard a woman telling her friend (referring to this quilt), "I like all of them, except that one. I don't even understand what's going on there." Ugh. It's maybe my favorite. Cherie St. Cyr has a number of her works on display at the Madison Public Library-Sequoya Branch (my library!).

Quilting by Cheryl Payne. I love this style.

Tutti Frutti Fanfare, by Maribeth Schmit from Cedarburg, Wisconsin (Thanks to Sandi for the "made by" info!). I recognize the pattern and through some internet sleuthing (and plumbing the depths of my quilty memory), I found it! It was the free Sweet pattern from United Notions.

Winter's Light, also by Cherie St. Cyr. I think this is my favorite. I love the colors, the central panel and the line of the piecing.

The fabrics are hand-dyes and the middle is one quilter's favorite painted pieces and it took her years to decide what to do with it.

Quilting by Cheryl Payne.