Friday, September 14, 2012

Bouncy - Bouncy - Bouncy

Well this has been a week of bouncing around like a rubber ball.  
I had a perfectly good plan of action -- try to re-purpose the florals that didn't work in the D9P, finish the challenge quilt top out of the fabric line you see above, clean up the quilt mess that has exploded in my quilt room.   A good plan.  And then this happened:
My-niece-the-quilter came to visit and brought more goodies than should be allowed.  The tote had strips and strips -- yards and yards of strips.  The bag had 1" cuts and some selvages (one addiction I don't have), and a few other scraps.
I love her good taste in fabric!  Modas.  Batiks.  Sock monkeys.  Kaffe.  The list goes on.....
Did I mention a jelly roll of batiks that are pre-cut to 10.5" and pinned together?  WHAT IS SHE THINKING?
My head has been bouncing like a rubber ball since all this came to live with me.  I had already cut the circles that you see above out of the balance of the challenge fabric (that was instead of finishing the challenge quilt which I decided needed 8 more blocks).  

But, I kept being distracted by the batiks.  I mean really distracted!  I have never had a jelly roll of batiks and these colors are incredible.  This is the perfect chance to try Wanda's (Exuberant Color) tutorial on separating lights, darks, mediums.    Wanda is a master (mistress?) on value and you will love reading her blog and learning from her if you're not already a follower.
This is my design wall after bouncing around.  A few circles from the challenge fabrics led me to think about my shirts and what a circle quilt from the plaids/stripes might look like so I made a block.  I had the templates out anyway, right?  The workmanship is not the best but I think I like it and believe I could get king sized quilt out of just sleeves -- never mind the backs and fronts.
I also made two practice string blocks from the 1" goodies -- I think this will make a great donation quilt for a child.  And these are very different fabrics from my normal stash. How can you work on these and not smile?  They are cut at 5.5" to finish at 5".  Aren't they the cutest?
And, because I had to go a funeral three hours away in the beautiful Appalachians, I decided to take a break on the way home and see if I could find a companion fabric (besides black or another solid) for my pink FQs that was my birthday gift from my-niece-the-quilter.  I love this -- it works with the light salmon on one end of the spectrum and the deep pink on the other.  

What a week!  I love the fabrics but I honestly don't understand gifting such a treasure trove.  This young woman buys good stuff -- and I've been telling her since before she was born that I was her favorite aunt.  I think she believes me, don't you?  And -- to add more joy and anticipation to the future quilting here at iquiltforfun -- my-niece-the-athlete has decided she wants a large queen out of batiks.  I can't wait to go shopping with her to see what she selects or what jelly rolls she decides on.  She's doing lots of research and will pick the fabric and pattern.  I get to the the cutting and sewing and quilting.  I love my girlies!

I hope you have had a wonderful week full of good quilting surprises and family that loves and appreciates you!  I certainly have.   


Friday, September 7, 2012

Windham Fabrics -- we need to talk!

Let me start by saying I love Windham Fabrics.  I have bought yards and yards of them.  And the fabrics used to make this quilt definitely taught me more lessons than I wanted to learn!
This is Waffles by Aardvark Quilts.  I love the simplicity of her designs and the clarity of instructions.  I made it about two years ago and finally quilted in when I went to see MacQuilts in the spring.  The fabrics are the hand-dyed Gees Bends solids that I paid a pretty penny for several years ago at the Chicago International Quilt Festival.  The fat quarter bundle had about 20 fabrics in them -- all neatly tied up.
I really liked the shading and coloration of many of the shades and they reminded me of Cherrywoods (YUM!).
BUT -- when I opened them up and started to think about what I wanted to do with them -- I was in for a not-so-great surprise.  The fold lines on about half the fat quarters had offset and had a faded look.  And not just a little bit -- a whole lot.  And when I say "fold lines" -- these were not at the edges where sun/light might have caused them -- they were in the bundle where the FQs had been folded and compressed against another. They actually mirrored the lines of the actual fold of the fabric.  I've never seen that before and I hope never to see it again.
Here are some leftover scraps and I've put pins in the discolorations in case you have trouble seeing them.  I was beyond not happy when I saw this and how many fabrics were effected.  Some to the point that I couldn't cut enough strips to make a block.  I know this was not the fault of the quilt shop and I believe they were not aware of the problem.  They are very reputable and were always my favorite booth at the quilt show each year.
When I saw the offsetting and started researching how to handle them before I did anything else -- there wasn't much out there.  There were lots of comments from other quilters who talked about bleeding and washing them with Retayne beforehand. I particularly remember one quilter saying that she was washing her red fabric when the water splashed on her white blouse and it looked like she had cut herself!  Really?

I ended up washing similar colors in small loads with Retayne and color catchers and watched the rinse water.  For those that had a lot of color in the final rinse, they got to go back through the same process one more time.  I also checked the FQ bundle that mom22smartchix bought and hers were equally bad so it wasn't just mine.  Small comfort in that.

I don't know anything about hand-dying, don't know the proper terms, don't know what may have gone wrong but I do know that this was not a good experience - nor typical of Windham Fabrics.  Interestingly, if you were to buy the fabrics today, they come with a suggestion that each color should be washed separately and line dried!  

Fingers crossed for the final washing now that the quilt is finished!

I hope your week has been full of good surprises.  Jan

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Finally Finished -- Hurray!

I am so so happy to say that I finally forced myself to put everything up and get out my Orca Bay (Bonnie Hunter mystery from last winter) and sew down the binding.
Because I have fallen out of love with this quilt, I had the binding sewn on and just decided to sew it down on my machine rather than by hand.  I want it over and put up.

I'm hoping I will love it more one of these days.  That's what happened with this quilt -- it was also a mystery and I got weary of it, didn't like my color choices, and put it up.  I later needed a quilt for a friend, pulled it out, and decided it wasn't half bad.  I'm hoping for the same thing with Orca.  Time will tell -- literally.
In addition to finishing this, I finally started the MacQuilt challenge with fabric that was gifted in honor of Mom22SmartChix's birthday challenge.  We are to have our tops done by October (next month!).  I have 56 blocks made, on the floor for final adjusting, and should be able to meet the deadline if I keep paying attention.
Details about the challenge fabrics was in this post -- there are 9.5 yards (I miscounted originally) -- and I hope to make two lap sized quilts with different patterns.  Interestingly, this is a fabric line that reads as solids but is a directional print!  That means I would be itchy if I tried to do triangles.  Would have made me nuts to have lines going different directions -- I had enough problem keeping the directions straight with squares.

I also finished two charity quilts and they are quilted, bound and ready to be delivered next week.  That is always a relief as I try to make two each month (other than a one month sabbatical in August).  I did free motion stippling on these which makes me tense beyond words.  I kept having a bit of drag on my lucite/plastic quilting table that fits my machine.  I was hesitant to wax or polish it -- any advice from anyone out there on what to put on there to give me as much 'glide' as possible?  I'm happy the backs (flannel) don't show the herky-jerky stitching in a few places.  I know these are the perfect size to practice on in order to improve my free motion quilting.  You can only do so much on a practice sandwich.
The icing on the cake is we have four men working diligently digging up our back yard for a new patio.  This will be great eventually.  It is not great now.
I hope you are loving whatever project you are working on!  Jan