Thursday, September 23, 2010

Baltimore Album redux

I must be channeling Kathie. Like her, the red and green quilts have been whispering in my ear lately. I've been pouring over my books on red, green and applique quilts and they are so inspiring.

I used to scorn applique both because I had failed in several attempts to master it and the examples I'd seen were not impressive. Beginner applique patterns tend to be rather simple and crude. That all changed when I went to a quilt show presented by the Baltimore Applique Society in 1996 called "Quilts and Cuisine." I have to admit, at the time it was the cuisine part that drew me to the show. But once I got there and saw both vintage Baltimore Album quilts and new creations from BAS members I forgot all about the food (although the lemon bars were quite tasty). I left determined to learn to applique (well!) and to make one of those quilts. In 2000, I signed up for Mimi Dietrich's year long Baltimore Album class at Seminole Sampler in Catonsville, MD.

Mimi was a great teacher and we learned all different methods of applique. Those of you who have tried it know that it is not a one-method-fits-all art form. Once I found the method that works for me (it's a toss-up between back basting and freezer paper underneath) I knew I could tackle any block.

But, once I gained applique confidence, I developed doubts about my colors and block choices. Paper cuts were easy, but I have a roving eye and the one fabric blocks got boring. I did not finish my BAQ for the class and just have blocks that don't thrill me anymore.

I found I really was liking the two color red/green blocks so I thought I would go with that combination. Unfortunately, I only got as far as this one crossed laurel leaves block. One day I'd like to make a whole quilt of these (as pictured in one of the books above). I have plenty of background but these two red and green fabrics are long gone.

Then the class moved onto the fancier blocks and I decided that THAT was what I really wanted for my quilt. More pieces, more fabrics, more colors. But, my white roses kind of disappeared into the background.

That whole BAQ attempt has been scrapped. I found a new background; something that looks "old" but will really show off all different fabrics and colors.

And I've found some exciting new fabrics. The BAS just published a brand new pattern called Lady of Victory that is taken directly from a BAQ owned by Mary Koval. Mary's latest line of fabrics by Windham is also taken directly from that antique quilt. Having seen it in "real life" I can attest that the colors in the antique quilt really are that vibrant. There are even more fabrics than those I picture below so this single line is a great start to creating a colorfully satisfying BAQ. I plan on combining favorite blocks from many different album quilts.

The spice of life is planning new quilt projects but it's fun to make progress on other WIP's. My Ohio Stars are together and I am deciding between adding a border or leaving it off. Here is the top on an old quilt just to get a little idea of what it would look like with a wide, plain quilted border.

And here it is up against the edge of a quilt bound in indigo (right side and bottom) to get an idea of what it looks like without the border. I think I like it this way best. The result I am trying to achieve is something that looks like an old utilitarian cradle quilt.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A sewing weekend - process report

Well, Mother Nature had plans for me this weekend that did not include a trip to the Sully quilt show. You might say, she sullied my plans by sending us rain. (It's a terrible pun, I know) So nice of her to bookend a dreary rainy Sunday with two perfectly beautiful days.

Okay, it was disappointing but my wallet is probably better for it. Insead, I did the only thing a quilter can do on a rainy day. I planned a new project. I have long coveted the old 9-patch doll quilt pictured in the Celebrate With Little Quilts book. I even bought some new fabrics to reproduce it. But, I knew they could not reproduce the patina of the antique. Soooo, now I have these old blocks and I am going to pick them apart and make 9-patches out of the pieces. Take note of this photo...there's a giveaway that will be coming out of it soon.

I also figured that if I am starting yet another quilt I should make progress toward finishing something. I finally basted my Cheddar Cheese and Crackers quilt top from Humble Quilts' January quilt-a-long. I tried the Hera marker tool for marking the straight lines in the cheddar squares and it works like a dream.

And there's more! I finished all 20 indigo Ohio Stars blocks AND pieced them all into a top. I am deciding whether to add borders or not so look for a photo and query for your opinions on that one. Yes, I know, there are not 20 Ohio star blocks in this photo but I promise, I did make that many.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Oh, nuts.

It has been a goal/dream/fantasy of mine to create a wall of little quilts (several blogs have featured photos of these but I can't find them right now-sorry!). So I've worked my way to that goal by making quite a few little quilts. The problem is, most have been scrappy with dark colors being dominant and, while pleasing to me individually, all kind of "read" the same on the wall. In other words, they look boring. I am getting impatient and just want to get something I finished displayed on the wall. So, I followed the suggestion Lori Smith gives in her patterns and bought an inexpensive, ready-made frame from a craft store. I made this little quilt, took the time to hand quilt it, and was excited to pop it in the frame and call it "art."

But it didn't fit.

It didn't dawn on me to check the size of the little quilt pattern I chose and compare it to the size of the frame I have. The former is 11"x14" and the latter is 10"x13".

So now it is living on the edge...of this basket. I think I'll roll up the other "wall of quilts" wannabes and stick them into the basket, too.

And, since I did take so much time to hand quilt the thing, I have to show off the back so you can see I really, really made an effort on this one. By the way, this quilt is from one of Lori Smith's "fit to frame" patterns. I recommend trying them, but make sure to compare sizes so when you're finished it will actually fit the frame.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Red, Light and Boo Hoo Hoo

On Memorial Day weekend (ceremonial official start of summer in U.S.) I decided I wanted to make a new red, white and blue quilt for summer. On the July 4 weekend (ceremonial peak of summer in U.S.) I decided to name it "Red Light and Blue." Now, it is the Labor Day weekend (ceremonial close of summer in U.S.) and I am looking at my pile of fabrics wondering "Where did summer go?"

We had a brutal winter and I was looking forward to reveling in warm weather. But, that warm weather turned to HOT weather and my motivation was shut out when I turned on the air conditioning and shut out summer. Mother Nature is smiling on us this weekend (thanks M.N., better late than never) and as my windows opened, so did my mind. At least I did some hand piecing so I have a little something to show for my summer.

I'll have to thank my lucky stars! Terrible pun. I couldnt' help myself. 29 down, 270 to go. Yikes, that's intimidating.

Anyway, this weekend I figured if I couldn't embrace summer anymore, I could at least still eat it. No pictures, but I had a delicious breakfast of summer zucchini, chives and onions scrambled with eggs and topped with a chopped tomato. Yum! Now, to those fabrics...
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