Avoiding Quilting Withdrawl Syndrome

December 12th, 2018

 

I don’t know about you, but the hardest part of the holiday season for me is that it’s stressful not to be able to work on some sewing/quilting for all the days spent visiting with relatives.  I love seeing family, but I still need some kind of quilting “fix” everyday.  There is no denying that being about to touch fabrics and run threads through them is part of my soul.  This isn’t that big of a deal if I’m traveling somewhere by car, because it’s easy to pack a big quilt and work on sewing the binding to the backside.  Traveling by air gives you less options because there just isn’t space on an airplane or at the gate to pull out a whole quilt.  These are the times that I like some hand applique to soothe my soul, but this takes some prep work ahead of time.  I’ve been on a roll with creating hospice donation quilts and this is a good opportunity to use some orphan “pieces” to make a hospice donation quilt.  I have about a million Dresden plate fans that I cut for 2 earlier quilts.  I made these using the Darlene Zimmerman plate tool shown below:

 

What I like about this template is that you can choose just how long you’d like your fans to be.  The millions of remaining fan blades that I’d already cut are for the longest fan blade possible.  Here’s a stack of them so you can see what they look like, and next door is a blade that has had its”tip” sewn together:

 

 

You use the wooden “turning tool” to turn the blade tip inside out with a point at the tip:

 

 

 

(I’m ashamed to say that yes, that is my filthy/stained giant ironing board these pieces are sitting on.  I have meant to re-cover it for a few months and this post is probably going to shame me into finally taking care of that task!)  The next step is easy, you just press the fan blade and they are ready to be sewn together into the circular Dresden plates:

 

 

 

 

This shot shows what the center 50 in x 50 in section of this quilt will look like.  I had hand appliqued that center block about a year ago, and had pieced another circular Dresden plate that I separated into 2 halves.  The other 2 halves were made this week as I explained above:

 

 

 

So…all this is leading up to me prepping some hand sewing that can be accomplished in airplanes and on airport layovers.  It’s hard to see in the photo below, but I’ve hand-basted each half Dresden onto its background fabric.  This will stabilize it in place as I work, and also avoid any pins with points that will make it harder to carry this project around:

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to see on the next shot, but the basting includes the edges of the Dresden as well as just beyond the circle.  This basting goes very quickly; I’m guessing that each half Dresden took about 3 minutes to baste:

 

 

The last thing I do is to roll my blocks around an old cardboard stabilizer roll.  I hold it securely with vinyl tape and I am ready for travel.  It all fits easily inside my backpack that I use as my carry-on:

 

 

Are you ready for holiday travel?!

 

Latest Quilt Finish

November 30th, 2018

The one good thing about all the angst I am feeling about what’s happening in this country is that I am spending a ton of time sewing and quilting to soothe my soul.  This has resulted in me cranking our several new donation quilts fairly quickly and I am enjoying every second of it.  The quilt above is another donation quilt for hospice and it was my first experience with slashing blocks up and then sewing them back together.  From a quilting standpoint, this was the first time I’ve used circle templates to create the curve of my feathers.  I  have always admired that look of tightly curled feathers, and now I know that I also love the physical action of stitching them that way!

I’m not wild about how they spring from the center of that border, but I can live with that.  More photos:

All of the slashed blocks are just stitched in the ditch; it seemed like it would be too much to do anything else there.  The sashings between the slashed blocks just have long featherettes:  

Personally, I like the juxtaposition of the rigid linear strips against the flowing curves of all the feathers:

The outermost border is a series of arched swags with tapered channels; all stitched with my PTD 12 arc.  The stitch in the ditch was all done by ruler work using my straight line ruler:

Hospice Donation Quilt #4 for the period of 10/1/18-9/30/19:

Quilted and Bound!

November 10th, 2018

This quilt was the quickest quilt I’ve made in eons and it was totally fun from start to finish.  There is something invigorating about working with rich, saturated colors that really gets me “into” a project.  The center section is quilted with featherettes:

The outermost border is quilted as series of arched swags with tapered channels inside.  These were made using the PTD 12 arc:

…and the blocks themselves are just quilted with stitch in the ditch.  I did those as ruler work using my PTD staright ruler:

Besides being incredibly fun to piece together, these donation quilts are teaching me about quilting for bed quilts/snuggle quilts.  I am exercising tremendous restraint in my quilting because densely quilted quilts don’t keep folks as warm (you need to be able to trap air in the batting layer to provide warmth), and a stiff quilt is not as inviting to snuggle as a “poofy” quilt.

Hospice Donation Quilt #3 for the period 10/1/18-9/30/19 completed!

 

New Quilt Started

November 5th, 2018

I’m about 2/3 done quilting that first improv quilt, and in the meantime, I’ve gotten a good jump on piecing my next improv quilt.  This time, I’m working with a blue/green colorway.  Here were my original building blocks before the really fun part began:

I knew I wanted some type of blue for my sashings/borders, and this is the color I settled on:

I laid out the rest of the borders to get a sense of what it might look like.  I like it, but it’s too “matchy/matchy” for my taste.  I decided to try and simulate what it might look like if I slashed each block and inserted a new color as the “slasher color:”

The more I looked at it, I wondered how it might look if I used a different shade of green on 2 of the 4 blocks.  It’s subtle, but you may be able to see there are 2 shades of green in the photo below:

I like that much better.  The slashing part is pretty fast and easy.  I drew 2 intersecting soap lines on a block so I had a kind of a road map as to how I wanted to slash, then went ahead and slashed in 1 direction.  I re-attached the pieces with a narrow strip of a yellowy green in between, and here’s how it came out: 

I then slashed in the opposite direction and here’s what it looked like at that point:

I then re-attached the 2 pieces with another narrow strip of the same color.  Here’s what my first block looked like once it had been re-assembled:

I’m so excited and I’m loving this process!  I  won’t have time to get back to this quilt for a couple of days, but I’m psyched to work on it more.  I’m seeing some slashing in my future…

And on a totally unrelated note, if you haven’t watched the new mini series on Netflix called “Homecoming,”  watch it!  The acting is great and the story is intriguing.  The first few episodes are a little slow, but once it becomes clear that something is amiss, you can’t stop watching!!

Improv Quilt

November 2nd, 2018

The pile of strips above represents the beginnings of an improv quilt.  I was so “juiced” by working with warm colors on my last quilt that I decided to start a new quilt in that same colorway.  To be honest, I have been so upset/frustrated/disenchanted/saddened by the hate and distrust that is bubbling over in our country that I have been “hiding out” in my sewing room, trying to stay upbeat by throwing myself into quilting.  I’m grateful to have this outlet as there seems to be no end in sight for the negative vibes in this country.

 

 

This next shot shows my 4 improv blocks just before they were completed.  Each block began as a scrap from a quilt I made more than 20 years ago.  I threw in a few more “skinny strips” of those same scraps into each block as I worked my way outward.   I like the look of them all together on the floor:

 

I knew I wanted to stick with a warm color for the “background” fabric, so here is my first color audition:

 

 

Ooh, la-la!  I found my winner on my very first try!  Next up, I sewed the joining sashings and then added those outer borders, and viola, my quilt top was complete:

 

 

 

I must confess that in my enthusiasm to piece this improvisationally,  I ignored all the rules about taking the averages of measurements to determine the correct length of “the next strip.”  I may pay the price for this when I go to quilt this colorful top…full report to follow!  In the meantime, I have bagged my warm strips together so I’m ready for another project down the line:

I’m trying to stay organized so I can make many of these kinds of quilts down the road…