Friday, December 28, 2007

Blocks and blockhead

First the blockhead... he KNOWS he's not supposed to be on this shelf, but the new cat tree puts it within climbing distance. Today he knocked off the stuffed siamese on the corner and sat there himself. He reminds me of the Sesame Street song: One of these things is not like the other... one of these things just doesn't belong...

I've been collecting siamese cats for about ten years now. The breakable ones and the ones I don't want to become cat toys are inside the doors, the ones on top were all gifts. :)

And I've just finished step four of Bonnie's Quiltville mystery, 40 triangular green/white units:

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Gifts

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Unveiling some of the things I couldn't blog about in case family read my blog. First, my sister in law holding a set of hot mats and a table topper kind of thing I made for her granite countertops. She says the chilly granite seems to absorb the heat from any food she puts out on it. The silvery looking fabric used on the back is what they sell for ironing board re-covering, it should be able to take a very hot pan, AND reflect the heat back. I used a very thick cotton towelling for the batting:

Then, here's my folks opening their new pillow shams to match the new quilt made for their king size bed. Does anyone have any good way to wrap a big quilt? I ended up just using a large leaf bag after looking in vain for one of those huge green ones they sell to bag the old tree with.

Here they're being silly under their new quilt. The EQ pattern for this one you may have seen waaaaay back on my blog in February '07. I can't believe it's been a year in the making - I started all the half square triangles starting last January. The only change I made to that design was to increase the border sizes.

Here's my mom reading the label - I tried to burn that part of the photo in, so you could read the words, but the flash whited it out too much. When I was cutting the fan blade shaped wedges, I saved all the scraps, and where I could salvage a 2½ square, I did. I used some of them for the label border, and still have a lot left. Little blue and white squares will be useful somewhere, I'm sure!

Finally, here's my older two grand nieces, sitting on the couch, opening gifts:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Guessing at the Quiltville Mystery

I like to play on my EQ program as well as make 'real' quilts... so based on what Bonnie at Quiltville has us doing so far for the mystery ... and thinking that she might have us use the triangle ruler to make half square triangles, here's some guesses (in my Christmas fabrics) as to where she might be going with it:

Of course, Leah also did some guessing, and her guesses include quarter square triangles and 4 patches, so maybe I need to go play with adding in some of those too!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

More 9 Patch Blocks and a Mug

Here's another 80 of these little 3½ inch square 9 patch blocks for step 3 of the Quiltville Mystery quilt - she says we're done with the 9 patches now... :) Although I don't really mind, aren't they cute? I really admire quilts that have a lot of little pieces, and doing a hundred baby blocks every week is a painless way to do it.

They'll look better when they're pressed, but I'll wait for instructions on whether to press those last two seams to the inside or outside.
I've also taken an idea I saw on Tazzie's blog for a nice little Christmas gift. Do you recognize the little 1½ inch squares of Christmas fabric from anywhere?

Mine won't be as beautifully packaged as Tazzie's are, but I did borrow her idea about putting a square of cardboard under the mug mat before I put the mug on top and wrapped them both in cellophane. I also got one of those big containers of loose hot chocolate, put three heaping tablespoonfuls in a baggie, added some mini marshmallows and tied the little bag of 'gourmet mix' on the outside of the gift. The purple candy in the mug is coffee flavored, if they want to add one to the hot chocolate, that might be interesting... :)

Another idea is to take a plastic spoon, melt some chocolate, and dip the spoon several times, letting it cool between dips, so you have kind of a chocolate lollypop spoon to stir your hot chocolate with. You wrap that in plastic, tie some curly ribbon around the 'throat' of the spoon, and stand it chocolate side up in the mug you're giving. It'd be a pain to just make one though - be better if you were giving several of these as gifts.

Monday, December 10, 2007

More Quiltville Mystery blocks

Here's my finished step 2 of the mystery, 100 nine patch blocks with three light corners, four dark sides, and one corner the accent color. I also cut the spacer blocks you see off to the right side, a stack of white and green 3½ inch squares.

And here's my nosy 'helper' trying to see why I spread out all these nice soft stacks of ten blocks... is it a kitty napping-place perhaps? Did I bury any mousies under there?

Decided that I didn't want only white-on-white for the white squares, but scrappier whites, so I went digging in my FQ piles and drawers. I found some fabrics that hadn't made my 'Christmas' collection, but could go nicely in a holiday themed quilt. Then I went out and bought the red and green on white snowflakes, found some precut strips that I picked all the white or cream bits out of, so now I have some snowflakes, some white on white, some snow covered trees with teeny redbirds, white with small gold metallic stars, and last, added in the two Christmas themed FQ's on white I wasn't going to use because I only had two.

Ready for the next step! Wonder what this quilt's going to look like?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

100 Rail Fence Blocks

I took the bait and decided to start Bonnie Hunter's Mystery quilt, from Quiltville. She is calling it Carolina Crossroads, there's the link. Even though I normally don't like mysteries, I like her designs a LOT, and thought it might be a perfect chance to use up some Christmas fabrics. So far, I'm using 8 green prints and 4 reds, all from my stash. My light color will be white, I think.

So here's the first installment, 100 rail fence blocks, next to the white I plan on using:

She's also started a yahoo group for chat about the mystery, and last time I checked, she had 668 members signed up to do the mystery. They're not only from all over the United States, but all over the world, Sweden, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Australia, etc. That's pretty impressive for only getting the group started about 48hours ago!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving and Cat Tree

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I went up to my brother's place on the Tennessee River. Thursday afternoon, they not only taught me how to shoot a gun for the first time, but also built a cat tree for me.

Here's my brothers Dan and Bob standing on either side of my new cat tree, on Friday afternoon. They don't always dress in camo, they were about to go hide in the bushes and attempt to splatter each other with paint guns. After seeing the bruises those paint balls can leave, I've decided it's not MY idea of fun, I'd rather be quilting... :)

This is a better picture of the Tennessee River, you can see a glimpse of it in the picture above. His house has a great view of the river, and it's fun to sit in the living room or at the kitchen table and watch the big barges go by.

This is the back of his house - his wife has the big bow window just full of all kinds of plants and flowers, growing on shelves and on a fountain and a trellis thing, they love the sun, and are just beautiful. The big arched windows above that let in a lot of light - on Wednesday night we saw a thunderstorm go past, and the lightning show was great! From a distance, of course. :D

One of my nephews is a welder, and he made the wrought iron trim and stair rail and balcony. Bob, on the right in the picture at the top, is a builder, and built this house - actually it's a work in progress, every time I go up there, he and his wife have added more detailing on the inside and outside.

Not much to report on the quilting front, I've done most of the binding on a quilt I've had sitting around forever, waiting to be bound. I wanted to do this one by hand, and it's taken me a LONG time - another few feet to go and I'll be done. And I've got all the pinwheel blocks done and half of them sewn on to the center, I DID decide to go with the blue next to the purple instead of doing it all one color. In fact, I think that's what I'll go work on now.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Retreat and Linda's Classes

The last few pictures and stuff from retreat! Here's my Winter dreamwatcher fairie, from Linda Poole's class. I really enjoyed taking her class, even though I didn't use the freezer paper applique technique she taught, I learned how to do it, and would like to try it on another project. She's a great teacher, and a very sweet person, besides. :)

I plan to add a snowman on her right side there, the sort with stick arms and a scarf and knit hat, I also have a bunch of little crystal snowflakes to sew on. The penny is on there for some idea of scale - I made mine small so she could be ¼ of a seasonal fairie wall hanging. You've seen Summer several posts down, I still have Spring and Fall yet to do.

And here's the bended bias butterfly class with their butterflies in progress. Linda's the third one from the left, standing, and not holding a butterfly. You can click on any of these pictures to get a bigger version:

Christine (flippytale quilter - here's her blog) got her big king size quilt top all put together, and used the large tables at the retreat center to baste the three layers:

And she even managed to recruit some assistance:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Wonky Squares Revisited

From the comments I've gotten with the last post, people seem to think this might be a difficult quilt to put together, far from it! I went to my EQ and colored the sashings white (the better to see you with, my dear... lol) On MY version of the mystery, I used 4 inch squares, because you can find them so easily on e-Bay, already pre-cut, any theme you want. They're also easy to cut, 20 from a FQ. My sashing was 1½ inches wide. I like to strip piece, so I cut long strips of sashing, sewed down my squares, cut them apart, and added the sashing on the other side. My version made 9 inch blocks.

Can you see the sidewise 8 in the block? Tilt your head to the right. (: As you're putting your sets of 4 sashed squares together, look for the 8 shape to make sure you're laying them out right.

The block is called Patience Corners. If you google 'patience corners quilt block' you'll find a page of links. It's on Quilter's Cache, under the P's. Marcia did it as a 12 inch block, with thicker sashing. If you look around the web, you'll see it with scrappy sashing and all one color square too, the opposite of what I've done here. I also found it as a charity pattern, with 5 inch pieced blocks - and thought it'd be a great setting for crumb blocks.

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wonky Squares Mystery

Well, here's the mystery I taught at the guild's retreat. I posted the palette of fabrics a long time ago, but didn't dare show any more of the quilt top coming together. Finally, the Wonky Squares mystery is over and you get to see the whole top, finished:

I wanted to try something different with the border, so decided to make three of the blocks into escapees. Here's a closeup. I used dryer sheets to sew to the right side of my three squares, then trimmed a hole in the sheet and pulled the square thru. Finally, I used a blanket stitch to applique them down. I'm tempted to add another block and a half to this, to make it look like they're escaping all the way off the top completely:

Here's three of the quilts that were finished in my class. I didn't ask permission to use their names on my blog, but here's their quilt tops! They all did a great job, and it was fascinating to see the same design in different colors. First, P.M.'s all-batik version with bright yellow sashing:

And G.E.'s I-Spy version with sashing that's my very favorite color, forest green. G's the hair you see near the middle. Over on the right, you'll see C.T.'s one block with maroon sashing and NO florals or feminine prints (she has 47 more done, just not sewn together) meant for a guy type quilt:

And finally, S.M.'s pink and yellow and green baby quilt sized top, with purple sashing, that will be a quilt for a 1 year old little girl:

An easy mystery class, and some great results, don't you think?


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Square Dance Quilt

Well, here's one of the things I worked on at the retreat this past weekend, a small quilt based on the technique in the book 'Square Dance' by Martha Thompson:

Bright, isn't it? I started by sewing a 7x9 grid of 6 inch squares, with a 3 inch border in purple, then drew a template, traced around it on my grid-fabric, then cut the plain squares up according to her instructions. I was surprised how much it shrunk when I rotated the little squares and sewed them back together to make my pinwheels.

Now I have a pile of three inch squares (produced when you hack the plain blocks apart) that I plan to put on the outer border, but the inner rectangle is so much smaller than expected that I need to add some blocks to it to make it bed-sized. There's lots of the purple fabric left, and I also have the exact same tone on tone print but in royal blue, same color value, that would look good in there too.

Here's my dilemma - Should I make the whole quilt with a background of purple... or use some blue as background for the pinwheels to break up the purple a bit? Or should I make some of the other borders blue? I can bind it in blue OR purple. Which of the following two EQ6 design pictures do you prefer? The actual blue/purple fabric color difference is more subtle than the colors you see here:

More on the retreat when I get more pictures ready to post! I also taught a class and have some photos from that, and took a class and have some things from that to show you. :)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Some Fall Finishes

First, here's my challenge block for my retreat this coming weekend. As we registered for the retreat, we got a square of challenge fabric, and had to make a 12½ block with it, using at least an inch of the fabric. I got this block pattern from Quilter's Cache.   It's all paper pieced, and it's called 'Wild Zinnias.'   The challenge fabric is the stripe on the outer corners and middle. We got an 8½ square, and I used just about all of it.

It was almost like an ugly fabric challenge for me, because I did not like the challenge fabric at ALL - reminded me of fried eggs... and on lime green, not my favorite color! :) I had a difficult time finding fabric to go with it, since it's out of my normal comfort zone.

I also finished the Patriotic quilt top this weekend:

I think I'll end up binding it in red, after it's quilted, but that'll be a long time away, gotta save some money up first.

And while I was out in the backyard, hanging quilts and blocks on the fence to get some natural light, I noticed that the leaves on my oak tree were just starting to change. Most of the leaves are still green, but some of the outer ones are starting to turn:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

More Patriotic Progress

Well, got it all put together, now I can start adding borders. :)

A two inch red comes next, then the sawtooth half square triangles. Neither one of them should take me too long, all the hsts are already made. Looks pretty much like my EQ design, doesn't it?

I'm always amazed by the number of people that say... but have you ever used EQ to design and make a REAL quilt? Yes, All The Time. :D

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fairie Applique

I like to have something to do by hand as well as a machine traditional pieced quilt going, so here's my newest project:

Linda Poole got me interested in fairie applique, and as I haven't taken the class from her yet, I don't want to start on 'her' version of her fairie. She's coming to our guild's retreat in November, and I'm really looking forward to it.

But looking on the web for inspiration, I found another lovely site with artwork of fairies, and got permission from the artist to try one of her designs in fabric. I'll write and ask if I can tell you her name, she may prefer not to be recognized. :)

I have a lot left to do on this one - I'm using a teeny blanket stitch around the tree branch and leaves (I fused the bits down first) and I've used the smallest applique stitch my Janome had and some invisible thread to go around her body and the orange flower she's trying for a hat. I've got some lovely fabric with flowers that I'll fussy cut and add to this in some of the obvious blank spots, so it looks like she's picked the one on her head from the branch beside her. I'll also add veining on the leaves, and a lot of detail on her wings and little leaf outfit. Probably some beading too, but that will come much later. And her face right now is drawn on in one of those water-erasable inks, I'll do it with a pigma pen later, probably in black.

The only thing I am not happy with so far is the lack of contrast between her peach skin tone and the background. I really didn't want to outline her in black, but can any of you think of another way to make her arms and legs stand out a bit more?

I was planning on making 4 fairies, one for each season of the year, putting them all on a batik fabric, and giving them different props appropriate for their season. The fabric this one is on varies quite a bit, and there's enough of the bluey you see at the very top, but mixed with more pale purple and white, that might do for a winter scene. I'm not sure if this one will be Spring or Summer yet, I'm leaning toward Summer, especially when I get more flowers on. And because she's not really dressed for Spring!

Linda's fairie pattern has long blowing hair, and is wearing a long skirt, so I'm thinking that one might be good for either Fall or Winter.

If I can find appropriate fabric, I'd LOVE to make this wall hanging more ethnic, and make the fairies for the other seasons have different skin tones. I'm thinking it'll hang in my library, where we have a pretty diverse population. No luck in finding anything but this peachy tone yet, though. All the browns I found were just toooo dark to be able to put a face on.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Patriotic Progress

Well, got to playing on my EQ and decided I wanted to swap out the colors in the sashing, and put the flag print in the middle of dark blue. Then for the border around the middle, I'd been planning on using another fabric entirely, but EQ was trying to tell me I'd need a whole yard to border a 24 inch square... I knew that wasn't right, but still wasn't sure if I'd have enough fabric, so I switched it to the khaki I was using for background. Now I like this version, with the center star floating, better anyway:

And here's my progress on it so far:

I ended up making the border around the star scrappy, not because I was running out of fabric, but because I thought I'd like to bring some of these prints into the center. There was one print that was too busy for background, really, but it was patriotic, and this is an ENTIRELY from stash quilt. See it in the background of the edge blocks? Notice how carefully I left it out of the star block I picked for the center? :D

If I don't use the patriotic fabric up in this one, where will I ever use it? Anything left that remains from THIS, my second patriotic themed quilt, is going right into the Heartstrings bin. I promise. :)

Monday, October 08, 2007

More Fabrics!

Well, here's the batiks I won by bidding on eBay... no, I didn't need this much fabric (it's close to 25 yards) but I really did need the six yards of indigo batik on the upper left corner for my indigo project. And then I saw the two brown/yellow fabrics and thought they'd be wonderful for the fireplace screen applique I plan on doing some day. (Bet you can tell which one I wanted for bark on a flaming log and which I thought would make glowing embers or coals!) Then I saw the 6 yard length of the stripey batik on the upper right and couldn't pass up six yards for $9.99 so I bid on THAT. Of course, then I was into the larger flat rate box for shipping, so started bidding on the blue and the green/khaki batiks, got them all at a great price.

They're from Phillyfabrics, if you want to look them up. She's got a lot of poly-cotton up now, fabric for making scrubs, if any of you wear those.

And here's what I'm working on now, while I waited for my indigo batiks to arrive, a little something to use up all my patriotic stash:

I need a couple of hundred half square triangles for this, and I'm well into them. I print the papers from my computer and do sets of 8 at a time, then take the bits into work to remove the paper on my lunch and breaks. It's not often that a machine piecer has a project that can travel well!

And finally, I'll close with a picture of Libby:

Any of you ever gotten this Look from your cat? She's getting very irked at me for flashing the camera in her face - that quilt has become her favorite place to nap, and I was Keeping Her Awake.... lol The quilter's cats never have a soft place to lay, do they?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Backings and Blues

Well, I added the last border to the pink twist quilt, and cut my binding while I was at it. Now for the backing. I'm such a fabric scrounge that I like to use up the matching scraps on blocks for the back. I had cut up some excess 5 inch squares when I made my triangle border, and of course, some leftover strips, so they'll go into crumb blocks, then I'll put them together into 8½ blocks. Here's the first few:

Then I also had some extra triangle sets left over from making that diamond border, so I put those points-in and made 6 blocks with them. One of the pink flower edged ones is missing, I think the cats got it:

I'll probably stitch the backing up like a row quilt, a wide length of fabric for the top and bottom, then fill in the middle with a few rows of these odd fabric dregs blocks.

I've also been collecting some indigo fabric for my next project. Not sure where I'm going with them yet, but here's what I've got so far - several half yard pieces of batiks and, on the top and bottom, some white and blue marbled to pair with them:

And finally, here's the design I like the best of what I've been playing with on EQ so far. I started with the log cabins that have bigger strips on one side than the other, then added the triangle corners that Bonnie Hunter from Quiltville used on her Pineapple Blossom quilt. EQ didn't have much in their library of fabric to match my indigo batiks, and I'm just too lazy to try to put in bitmaps of all my exact fabric, but you can get some idea:

I was trying to use blue on white fabrics for the light areas, but looking at the design now, it looks a little cloudy. The next time I'm in EQ, I'll switch all the light areas to white, I think I like that better, 'specially since the batiks have more white in them than the EQ fabrics I'd used.

I've won a couple of auctions for batiks on eBay recently (well, alright, more than a couple, 25 yards +) but they really are nice batiks and at a super price, even including shipping. Most of them are bright, colorful batiks, some oranges, turquoises, rainbows and even a couple of gold-browns, but there's a 4 yard piece of indigo batik that will fit right in with this project.

I'll show pix when my box comes. :) I can't wait, I love getting packages, even if I know what's in them, don't you?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pink Twist, 4 Borders

Well, here's what I decided on the quilt ... and I'll add one more skinny border of the deep mauve, I think, and since I've kept them skinny I should be able to both add that last border and bind it in the same thing:

I didn't want to end it with lots of seams on the edge, not only is that a pain to stitch the binding on through, but I've heard that unless you backstitch the outside seams, they tend to come apart when you stretch them on the longarm to quilt. I most certainly didn't backstitch these squares, they were all rotary cut from leftover strip sets from the middle of the quilt! In fact, that's why the middle row of squares is slightly smaller, lol.

It'll teach me to draw all my quilts in EQ first because, I think now that I look at it, I would have liked those dark mauve points to point toward the middle of the quilt all the way around, instead of toward the outside. Too late now!

Monday, September 10, 2007

BOM and Pink Twist Borders

First, a couple of Halloween blocks, made for my guild's block of the month. Instructions on my guild's webpage if you're interested, either in sharing it with your guild or making some yourself! It's just a simple square in a square, but I've found out that people are much more likely to do a fast, easy block for block of the month. We draw names, and one person gets to take all of them home.

And here's the progress of the pink strip twist quilt, hanging up in my kitchen doorway. I've added a 1½ inch wide deep mauve border, then the strip of diamonds.

The diamond strips were a pain, they're easy to make, but so much harder to fudge the size of them to get the border to fit and end up in the same place on the corners than I thought. I had to take up some of the diagonals (and I did, losing points too) so perpendicular seams would have been easier!

Sorry you're not seeing all of the quilt, I really DO have all 4 diamond borders on. Hanging this in the kitchen doorway made the Siamese curious, and they kept ducking under it to see who and what was on the other side, so I had to crop out a kitty butt!

Next, I plan to put on 4 border strips like this one you see on the left, below, but I think I need another skinny border (that reads as a solid) to set it off first, don't you? And then maybe a final dark border, or at least a dark binding.

I have a yard of medium pink, and a yard of medium lavender, and 2 yards of the deep mauve, enough to put a skinny border on, and a final border on, OR bind it in the deep mauve, but probably not all three. Any suggestions? What would you do?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Another Strip Twist Quilt

Here's what I've been doing lately... Girly pink quilt, anyone? I've had these pink, mauve and purple fat quarters in my stash for a lonnnng time (see the stashbusters ring picture on the left where I substituted a pic of my stuffed pink fabric drawer.) I've been thinking I'd like to use them all up in a more controlled color scrap quilt, using Bonnie's strip twist pattern from Quiltville:

This is a third of it. I plan to make two more sections like this, then I've also started cutting out the leftover bits of strips to make a pieced border. I've been stitching them together as leader/ender squares between blocks, so that'll go pretty quickly too.

I've already done a strip twist, and really liked the way it turned out. I'd picked colors for that one to make a guy-type quilt... if you want to see one I gave my brother, click here for pictures of a strip twist in olive greens, rusts, beiges, mustard, etc. They're easy to make, and I love the way it looks set on point without all the bother of cutting setting triangles for the edge.

Also been thinking of machine applique'ing something on top of this one, perhaps in the dark purple or maybe red - a trio of big hearts? A curled up egg-shape of a sleeping siamese cat on one corner? Any suggestions? I think I'll wait and see how busy it gets when I've put the pieced border on.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Splish Splash

Got up at my normal time this morning, had to be at work at 9:30... headed for the bathroom to take a shower... and my whole bathroom floor was an inch deep in water. Somehow, overnight, my toilet had sprung a leak.

Thankfully, I hadn't washed clothes yesterday, so I had half a load of lights and half a load of darks (including two dark green towels) all sorted out on the floor, and they soaked up most of the water before it got to my bedroom carpet. The carpet's a little damp, but only at the edge. I wasn't able to turn the water off under the toilet because THAT little valve was broken, but I was able to turn it down to where the leak was manageable. Funny how you never know that your shutoff valve doesn't work until you need to use it. :)

AND thankfully, I was able to find a plumber to come out on Saturday...

These guys are from Best Rooter - That's Stan Holman on the right, holding the tank. If you're in the Memphis area and need a plumber, I highly recommend these guys - he gave me permission to put his number online... call (901)358-1008 or cell (901)864-5700.

First thing they did was turn the water off at the street and replace the valve to stop the leak... Turns out, I needed a whole new toilet.

But also turns out that a gasket was missing, the one that goes between the tank and the toilet, (I'm just parroting what they say, I have no knowledge of the inner workings of toilets) so off they went again to Home Depot for that. But it's fixed now, and I have the cleanup to do, all the wet clothes and grubby floor. Fun day, huh?
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