Monday, July 26, 2010

where my mind wanders,

...when I'm doing most anything, is to quilts.

We pulled out the Perler beads before camp today and Alex started working on a circle (he's a perfectionist, already at almost-four, so this process will take a while), and I saw a mulberry bead next to a baby blue one (or was it the petal pink?), and before I knew it...Quick, grab a photo.  A perfect quilty color scheme.

quilty beads

Alex wanted to add another pink--too peachy--and I asked him to wait until the photo was finished.  Does everyone take pictures while playing with their kids?  I suppose I should compartmentalize things a bit better and unplug from craftiness sometimes, but this is how my mind works.  Maybe I am somehow inspiring him artistically?  Either that or enhancing said perfectionism.  In either case, overthinking, probably. 

Anyway, have you seen this new flickr group?  Fun just to browse, but I like it especially because it lets me know that there are other people out there like me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

a challenge

Like most of its peers, the CMQG is just getting off the ground, but we've already done some really neat things in the few months we've been meeting.

Top of the list for me is the ICE challenge (blanking on the acronym's origin, but I'm pretty sure "inspiration" is in there somewhere...).  It's kind of like DQS with a twist: each person chose four fat quarters and made an inspiration block using parts of them.  Then we brought the block and the leftovers to a meeting, where we sent our blocks home with another person chosen at random who would use it all, plus her own fabrics as needed, to make a mini quilt.

I got to take home a block made by Debbi, one of the more accomplished members of our guild, and was kind of nervous to be adding to her beautiful work (she's very unassuming, though, and seemed genuinely excited to see what I'd come up with).  I neglected to take a photo of the block itself (how?!), but here's the finished quilt:

ice challenge top

The left side is her original block, and I was planning to add some improv sawtoothish shapes Marston-style, but to combat the busy-ness, the swath of blue seemed in order.  Which then seemed too un-busy, hence the white strip.  And then the quilt seemed to lack depth (or something?  Not sure I'm expressing that too well...) and so I took the plunge of cutting the entire thing, Debbi's block included, to insert that last medium blue strip.  Which was stressful (is it ethical to cut someone else's block?  I actually sat there for a while considering this with the rotary cutter in my hand, and then took a literal deep breath before I did it), but the result, I think, makes the quilt.

I discovered that I have a thing or two to learn about dealing with bias edges, and even with some basting (the only thing I knew to even try), the pieces moved enough that the top and bottom don't line up.  I ripped it once and tried again, and of course it was worse the second time, but then really better.  That little bit of movement seems to add some character that was missing before.  Debbi's block had a lot of movement, and I was aiming for moving from complex to simple across the quilt, but it was pretty stagnant until I made that mistake.  I squared it up and was satisfied.

The quilting took a long time to come together in my mind, but then it was quick to do.  I thought about hand quilting, which I think would have been a great fit for this quilt, but was reluctant to try it on someone else's quilt (Do I say that a lot?).  What I ended up with is actually one continuous line, which I love in that it unites the three parts of the design, and I used the gray thread as another unifying element as there was a lot of contrast in Debbi's fabrics.

ice challenge quilting closeup

After auditioning a lot of binding choices, I decided to continue the gray, with just a bit of black to kind of weigh the quilt down.  Not like it's going to float away, but just that I wanted it to seem more solid.

The show and tell at the meeting yesterday was terrific--each quilt more beautiful than the last.  A bunch of them are shown here.  This was a tremendous exercise, and Debbi seemed to like the final product (I hope!).  And wait until you see what I got back from Terri! 

As an aside, here's what happens when I take photos of a project I'm supposed to deliver in half an hour, when the drive there will take 45 minutes.

18 July

It's a miracle I got any shots of the quilt at all.

As another aside, we're talking about a second round of the Mod Bento Block Swap--check out this thread if you're interested.  Full details by the end of the week.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


this is the sum total of my black & white fabric.

black & white scraps

Becca sent strips of various colors to each of us for ASB, and asked us to try a new method for spider web blocks from Collaborative Quilting (2?--by Gwen Marston & Freddy Moran--bee overlap!).  She accdientally included just enough black & white for the corners of one block.  Since I'm clearly deficient in this area of fabric accumulation, what's supposed to look like this:

liberated spider web complete

is just this

liberated spider web 2

for the second.

liberated spider web 1

Love this method!

For Bee Liberated, Susan asked for liberated log cabins using fussy-cut owls for the centers.

owl log cabins

I had never made a log cabin block before!  My only issue was that Susan asked us to build the blocks clockwise around the owl, but I ended up a little narrow on one side and had to add one last piece out of order--didn't have enough fabric (or think it would look good) to go around the whole block again.

But I'm sure that everyone who sees this quilt will only have eyes for this guy, anyway:

tiny owl

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I've decided:

Pillows are the perfect subset of the perfect craft.  Small, portable, quick(ish).

Sharon gave me just enough to go on once we started planning back in late May...warm colors, more modern than traditional, likes AMH and this quilt.

And so here it is, tiny-style for a pillow cover. 

sharon's pillow front

I already had everything but the chocolate Kona solid, and this was a great exercise in coordinating fabrics from different lines in the same project, something I'm continually working on.

sharon's pillow back

The backing fabric: perfect--an AMH print I also already owned, and love, but it just wasn't at home in my home. Large-scale, and so a nice contrast to the prints and layout on the front, and home-dec weight for a little heft. I'd almost say it makes the pillow reversible, though who would ever want to hide a pieced quilty front?

Straight-line quilting is still a little maddening to me...I'm not sure I could sew slowly enough to keep the entire design perfectly parallel.  A little bit of the backing in the binding because piecing a binding is a compulsion.  I almost used a brighter print, but am now glad I went in this direction as I think it would have been too distracting.

sharon's pillow binding detail

A couple of other goodies in the package:

sharon's cards

rosette card

geese card

sharon's magnets

And off it went to sunny California.

Monday, July 12, 2010

out the door

bento packages

in the car, actually, ready for the PO in a bit.  We were too tired to go after (the first day of) camp.

People, this was so much fun.  Watching the flickr group and choosing fabrics and meeting new quilters...which all of us could do...but also having all 669 quarters on my dining room table at once,

bento sorting

and sending packages to bee friends,

leanne's tag

and seeing the possible combinations as I sorted made it even better.

And such happy things in the packages!  Like this on the back of a return envelope,


and fun cards (like a paint chip from Audrey!),

bento cards

amh tag

and a Hawkeye block (an excellent inside joke from Susie for which I already have a gifty project in mind--because let's be clear, we're Illini fans in this house!),

hawkeye block

and extra blocks from Karen.  And a butterfly pin.

butterfly pin

I think another round is in order.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

pro/con for VQBs

pros: working with different fabrics, making a block style that you might not have otherwise, trying a new technique, and being creative within structure, which is a good thing for this overthinker.

These baskets were so much fun to make for Kimber for Bee Liberated. In truth, I had skipped right over that chapter in Liberated Quiltmaking, and even though the bias handles (especially the tall one--my own fault, due to a cutting error, but I figured out a solution!) gave me a run for my money, I *so* love the finished blocks that I'm contemplating a basket quilt of my own.

Kimber's baskets

 Which leads to the con: I need a new quilt idea like I need another bag of scraps.  High-class problem, I guess.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


with hosting a swap might include:

overflowage of your awesome free storage bag...

blocks packages in a bag

...or realizing that you probably don't have enough fabric or time set aside to make sufficient blocks so that you can keep one of each design for yourself...

bento fabrics

Seriously, I have been mostly resisting the urge to tear the envelopes right open so that nothing gets lost, but in the interest of keeping the sent/received thread current, I've had to make a few exceptions. These blocks are stunning--all of them. Check out the flickr pool and see for yourself!

Sunday, July 04, 2010



Normally, I would have chosen a contrasting bowl, but this one seemed perfect for the Fourth.

Enjoy the day.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

these things are tiny!

Compared to 12 inch blocks, which is what I'm used to, I guess.

siggy swap blocks

I also felt a little like I was back in junior high, writing my first name with some boy's last name, as I tried to figure out which penmanship looked best. Except this was on Kona white instead of on wide-ruled notebook paper.