Friday, December 26, 2014

Planting a forest

Ever had an idea that seemed logical in your head and once you executed it - you weren't so sure?  That's what's going on here.
This started out as a version of crazy mom quilts "birch trees".  I love this pattern and bought it with the intent of making it for our new grandson who is to put in an appearance in early March.  I started piecing the brightly colored birches - I studied her version - I pondered lights and darks.  And then it took a right turn.
And I began to wonder if I could do more realistic birch trees.  And would that make sense for a baby quilt?  So I began to do a search on Pinterest and Google and came up with a beautiful and sophisticated wall hanging from tallgrass prairie studio's "night forest".   Isn't this lovely?  And I loved the contrast of lights and darks and all the different fabrics she used.
I still wasn't sure but I was intrigued and decided to try it.  It's for family, after all, and if it's a little too "out there" or non-traditional, they won't have trouble telling me.  So I started and had no idea what I was doing.  I went through my strings; I pulled some pre cut strips from my bins; and I dug into my strips from men's shirts.
I had forgotten how much I Iike improvisational piecing.  I just put away the ruler and started cutting.  It went together quickly and when I did something I didn't intend to -- I just made it work.  This is what the first version looked like when I added strips.  The first image is the finished top and there was some evolution in design -- but not a lot. No pinning!  Just cut, sew, and repeat.
This required me to stop working on the Quiltville mystery for a few days but I'm hoping to get caught back up while I ponder how to quilt this.  I love the negative space but I've learned that dense quilting on a baby quilt takes away any "drape" until it's been washed a number of times.  So, rather than create a "stiff" quilt for "Rex Webb Steve" (the name our grandson has chosen -- we're not monogramming anything just yet!), I'll restrain myself and not over quilt it.
I hope you are finding time to "create" and improvise occasionally and enjoy the process! Looking forward to a wonderful 2015 and more creativity!


Saturday, December 6, 2014

And now there are 10...

......and "only" six to go.  ONLY.  Only?  Only.  No matter how I say it -- it's still six blocks and I'm not working on any of them right now.  My goal to get Kim McLean's Lollypop Quilt appliqued this year won't happen. So - "maybe" 2015. MAYBE. Maybe? Maybe.
Nevertheless, I do love this quilt and I will finish it -- and the border blocks too! It will be huge. It will be a terror to quilt.  It will be a quilt I keep forever. It will be done!
I'd like to say I've accomplished all matter of other things. Not the case. I have started a lot of things -- including the mystery quilt by Bonnie Hunter. Here are the remnants of step 1. Step 2 is about half done.

I have a few things I have to get done by Christmas so I'll work on the mystery quilt as much as I can - but I'm going to have to start focusing on gifts and commitments (not to mention Christmas, baking, decorating, and the best -- family).

I hope you are enjoying the holidays - finishing a few things - starting new things - and loving every minute of it!


Friday, November 21, 2014

One more time...

Once again, I needed a baby quilt and I turned to my old faithful pattern.  These are darling puppy dog (and a few kitty) prints that were gifted from my friend, logcabinquilting.  This went together like a charm (as it always does) and was in the hands of the new grandmother within a week of cutting the first fabric.  So thankful for generous friends -- and I have many of them.
Speaking of puppy dogs, this is our newest family member.  Farley joined us three weeks ago today and he does love fabric.  He's happy to sneak a scrap (or quilt block) from my quilt room and carry it around. I am not happy with that behavior so we're working on it. He's about six months old and still a puppy -- literally.
I hope you have generous friends, great patterns that never let you down, and a faithful companion of some sort who also loves fabric!

Best wishes for a wonderful family filled Thanksgiving!


Sunday, October 26, 2014


Have you ever seen such a wild quilt? This is for our 4 year old grandson for Halloween and was loads of fun to do. Thanks to logcabinquilts who has been reducing her stash (I know - I don't get it either) and offered fabrics to me, I was gifted all these cute Halloween fabrics. Some were yardage and others were small pieces but this pattern is perfect for those. Thank you, LG.

The pattern is from Wanda at Exuberant Color and she has a great tutorial on her blog. Click here for a direct link to her Cross Quilt. But pay attention to her instructions -- they are spot on and it always takes me about two rows of sewing to get my rhythm down right. It goes together like a dream and uses 6.5" strips rather than five 2.5" squares.  Goes together much faster. Thank you, Wanda.
The backing is fun and looked darling on the quilt. Candy corn fleece - what's not to love! And I think is really what my grandson likes the most.
And since this is for a 4 year old, will never be entered in a quilt show, and was just for fun, I decided to try my hand at free-hand quilting spiderwebs (in purple thread).  No rulers - no templates - no real plan.  He loved it and it's pretty forgiving!

So in the end, it was fun, went together quickly, I learned a lot quilting it, and it got to Toronto well before Halloween!

I hope you're finding time to quilt for someone you love!


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Quick! What color is this quilt?

This is a serious question!  I have asked a number of friends and the answers are not consistent.  Now, I'll be the first to say the photography is less than "good" but we're all looking at the same pictures.  So, what color is this quilt when you first look at it?

What about now?  It's a "blue" quilt, huh?  The shade creates a consistent sense of color for some reason that I don't understand and am not likely to spend much time trying to figure out.
These are the wonderful fabrics I got at Houston last year (sigh....).  They are Caryl Bryer Fallert's reproductions of her hand dyes and I adore them. They were a Benartex product. But, I only have two strips left and need to bind the quilt.
I quilted this on my longarm with Glide thread -- it's a pale pale silver that almost has a metallic look.  I had a few problems with an occasional skipped stitch and actually "unquilted" about 2/3 of a pass because of tension issues that popped up.  I'm sure this was something I did and not the Glide.  And I could not be happy with this on the back -- so I finished the quilt, took it off, ripped, and put it back on.  I'm much happier!
So -- this really is a serious question.  I'd love to bind with a dominant color but I can't figure out what that would be!

I hope you are finding time to quilt with fabrics you love!


Monday, September 29, 2014

# 9

Nine down -- seven to go along with about a bazillion little border blocks.   This block was particularly hard for me to design and I do not love it but I will leave it.  I can be very comfortable pulling fabrics for a red or blue or purple block.  But when it comes to greens, yellows, and oranges (not to mention neutrals), it's not as easy for me.  This one will not be a star but I repeatedly tell myself when I'm quilting that not every fabric nor block can always be the center of attention.  And it's done!

This is Kim McLean's Lollypop quilt and if you've read my blog very long, you've been on this journey with me.  And we are only slightly over half way.  YIKES!  I'll give my fingers a day or two to heal and then start another one!

Hoping you are working on something that gives you joy!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Finally done!

This has been a process that took more than a year and I have no excuses.  But it's done and now in Mr Iquiltforfun's car to be used for whatever he would like.
This quilt is made from jeans from our family and I wrote about it in more detail here. I do like it. It almost glows and that's amazing to me -- these are jeans that have had lots of use! And I mean a lot. My son. My husband. My sister. My nieces. There are ink spots and a bit of paint from a previous home and stains that will never be identified. And I left them in -- they are part of our history.

Edited on 2.20.16 --To reiterate - this is not my pattern and I do not share it. If you'd like to get a copy, you can go to Alicia's Esty shop Lucys Quilts and order it.  She is selling it for $10 and part of that goes to charity.  Worth every penny.
The pattern is brilliant.  At no point do you sew denim-to-denim. The sashing takes care of that. I will make more (I've actually had a request or two from some family members) and I have lots of jeans so there is no shortage of fabric.
I have to say that when I loaded it on Lola I had a little bit of heartburn. Denim. Cotton batting. Black fleece on the back. And lovely Superior So Fine #50 for the top and bobbin. The completely unexpected challenge was that I could not see the quilting. Seriously. I could not tell where I had been on about 60% of the blocks. I would have to stop the machine and feel where I was and then go on memory. Not particularly professional but with a simple stipple, I got it all quilted and fairly evenly.

So, one more finish - and one more off my list!

I hope you are being productive and enjoying the process!

I'm linking this quilt to Amy's Creative Side and her Blogger's Quilt Festival in the scrappy portion. If old jeans aren't scrappy, nothing is! If you want to get lost in eye candy, this is the place to go.  And, to reiterate -- this is not my pattern. I do not share it. You can link to Alicia's Etsy shop in the third paragraph and order it.  Be sure to stop by the Blogger's Quilt Festival and see all the wonderful creations


Friday, September 5, 2014

I had no idea where to start

I had a request from someone I love and could not find a pattern I liked but had no idea what to do.

I pieced it...

I quilted it...
I marked it...
I took a deep breath and cut it....
I bound it....

and I shipped it....

And, I have to say, I really like it!  It makes me happy that it will be under the tree of some people very important to me!

I hope you are finding time to make things that you love for people you love!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

One of my favorites!

I don't do a lot of pre-printed panels.  I strongly believe that when I am giving a baby quilt to someone I care about, the amount of time spent has value and sends a message.  BUT, I love this panel.  When I saw it years ago, I bought three of them and companion border fabric.  It is called the Hungry Animal Alphabet and it is more for the parents that the child.  If you've seen it, you know what I mean.
How can you not fall in love with this Hippo seated on a Hassock wearing a Housedress of Hibiscus while she uses her Hankie in preparation for her Hamburger and Honey as her Hen watches. You have to love the furnishings -- the Hat and Hat tree against the Herringbone wallpaper and the Heart cut out of the table. But I know I've missed stuff so what do you see and what on earth is the lamp -- I'm used to those being oil lamps and cannot figure that one out. Help. It's making me nuts!
And what about this one?  Aren't the Checked Cafe Curtains clever?
Honestly, I love them all and could have showed each of them to you!
But, you see what I mean about this being more for parents than the baby.  In this case, this goes to my one-and-only great nephew,  Special K.  Love him to death and he may be the happiest baby on the earth.  Such a joy!

I'm also lucky enough to have a fourth panel that was gifted to me by a special friend, logcabinquilting, when she was cleaning out her stash.  More on that at a later date. I'm still trying to understand it.

So, here's your test -- what do you see in this block?
I hope you are finding time to create for people you love!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Yet again...

I really should count how many times I have used this pattern in baby quilts and lap quilts. It is my "go to" when I want something quick and a little on the less traditional side.
It is from Kim Schaeffer's "Cozy Modern Quilts" book and I have a love-hate relationship with her patterns as some of you know. Her designs appeal to me and I have made a lot of them. Her instructions are a little sparse. The only reason I mention this in almost every post where I have used one of her patterns is to caution anyone buying the book (which I recommend) to read through and make sure they understand the cutting instructions for every component before they start.

This particular quilt is heading to Texas to a young woman who will be delivering her first child in a few months. Married a little over a year, her husband was deployed to Afghanistan and she promptly found out she was pregnant, alone on a base in Texas, family in South Carolina, and not sure her husband would be home in time for the delivery. As it turns out, he is home and will be there for the blessed event!  Love happy endings.
I just stippled it as it's hopefully going to get lots of use and lots of washing. These blocks lend themselves to some fun quilting - but I would never do that for a baby quilt. They need to be much more utilitarian!

I hope you are working on something that makes you happy and enjoying the pleasure of marking one more thing off your quilting "to do" list!


PS -- these pix are dreadful.  I must have had a yellow filter on!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Learning can hurt

Learning can definitely hurt.  Your feelings!  Your confidence!  Your sense of creativity!  But it can make you grow....and this quilt has helped me grow in lots of ways.  Although there has been plenty of pain!

I'm so lucky to have mom22smartchix wanting to "invest" in my longarm improvement.  She kindly donated this homespun quilt top for me to "play" on and I decided that I would use each block as a "sampler" of stitches.   That seemed reasonable at first.  And a great "resource".  And it is.  But it hurts.
I chose to use 30wt thread -- which is HEAVY and shows every little glitch.  Basically, it's the thread that is used to topstitch jeans to give you an idea of what quilting with it was like.  I had just heard Angela Walters (who I deeply admire as a longarm expert) say that she didn't rip out stitches if things weren't perfect.  I chose that philosophy on this quilt.  Otherwise, I would have ripped out more than I put in.  Plus, ripping out stitches on solid homespuns is never a good idea.
I learned a lot.  I learned there are some fillers that I can do and want to do again. 
I learned there are some fillers that I am not ready to put on a quilt that I plan to give as a gift.
I learned that I don't know as many fillers as I thought I did.  But I made a few up.
I learned that skinny rectangles don't lend themselves to some stitches.
I learned that I should have been burying my stitches rather than backstitching.  They look like little nests.
But I learned!  And it was humbling.  And it was painful.  And it helped me grow as a longarmer.  

I hope you are learning (even if it creates a little "pain")!!!!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sharing is Caring

While I absolutely agree with this sentiment, I suspect we have all had a child use it to their advantage when we had something they want.  The fun part of that is turning the table on occasion.

But, I've had a chance to share Lola with one of the most important people in my life:  my-niece-the-quilter.
I actually love this quilt -- not necessarily for the fabric choices -- but for what it represents. She has a friend who will be moving to Pennsylvania in the next month or so and wanted to make a quilt from the group of friends. So -- everyone (including kids) were instructed to pick out a FQ of a fabric that had some meaning for them with the departing couple. That is brave -- these are not quilters and one never knows what they will get.

She got hippos that "may" represent when they were pregnant together. She got the logo of a pie restaurant where the two guys were on a first name basis. She got turkeys because two families always spent Thanksgiving Day together. She got pumpkins because they met in a pumpkin patch. She got Harry Potter because one of the children adores it. She got cowboy boots because they bought the first pair of cowboy boots for one of the kids. She used fabric for the border that was the same fabric she had made luncheon napkins for a maternity shower. What a conglomeration. The upside was that most of the fabric were Spoonflower and not cheap see-through material!

I think this is the perfect pattern (don't know the name) for so much variation and the use of Kona gray sashing to help tie everything together -- along with a black inner border -- resulted in a special special quilt.
Add to that, my-niece-the-quilter had only longarmed one quilt years ago. She chose to stipple and did a great job. Learning to stipple and keep it even is not easy but she did it.  

I am so proud of her and love the finished product!

I hope you are getting to share your love of quilting with someone you love!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Quilt Math – an anomaly

Is it me or are there times when “quilt math” is inconsistent?

When I am making 76 blocks for a quilt and I get to #38, I am on the home stretch.  If I’m making 120 four-patches and hit #60, it’s a piece of cake!  I’m currently working on 7.5” log cabin blocks and have to make 64.  I completed #20 yesterday and felt like I am on a roll and this is going to be done in no time.

And then, there is this quilt.  I love it.  But this is block #8 of 16 total large blocks and I am overwhelmed at the amount of work that lies ahead to finish all the applique.  What gives?  Seriously, I feel like I just got started and many of you know this journey started in January, 2011 with a false start on a black background block and I couldn’t stand the lint and show through.  So that block will someday be a practice piece for quilting and become a linty pillow.

I was sure that halfway would motivate me to keep stitching.  As it is, I think I’ll give my fingers a rest and watch the World Cup, do a little long arming, and make log cabins. Maybe when I hit #9 I’ll be “on a roll”!

I hope your quilt math is working out and you are motivated to finish projects you love!


Sunday, June 8, 2014

And then there were 7

....but that means there are 9 more to go.  This is like the never-ending-story!

I hope you are finishing up a project you love -- or still in love with a project that never ends!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Done…and done!

Well, it's done -- and I mean really done.  I had thought I would add some borders out of the neutral sashing fabric but when I auditioned them, they didn't do a thing for it.  They only made it bigger and didn't seem to frame it like I saw it in my head.  So, surprisingly, this lap quilt is finished and ready to be quilted.
Because I chose to go with sashing that finishes at 1/2", I actually lost about 7" across the width of the quilt (compared to sashing that finishes the same size as the blocks -- 3/4").  Don't ask me how I could even think that a 3/4" sashing looked clunky -- but I did.  I made two sample blocks and left them on my design wall for about a week.  Every time I looked at the one with 3/4" sashing, I didn't like it as well as the one with smaller strips controlling the little 4-patches.  Seriously.  It makes no sense to me, either.
I originally thought I would count the pieces in this top and then I thought again.  There are 960 4-patches that finish at 1.5" plus all kinds of sashing strips.  I'm probably better off not knowing.  It finished about 60' x 64' so it will be a good lap quilt with lots of fabrics to look at if I get bored.
The "underbelly" is a bit of a hot mess.  Most of the seams are pressed open -- or at least started that way.  Talk about "the good, the bad, and the ugly!"
As I mentioned in previous posts -- I really like it.  But not enough to do it again!

I hope you are working on something that is unique and challenging!