Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Surfing for inspiration

Do you ever have those days (weeks, months) where, despite a stunning stash, inspiration just won't come? That's where I am now. Sure, I've got a few (dozen) projects on the go so I am still doing some stitching. But, the excitement just isn't there. I need to find a new project to start. I've been reading your blogs and so many of you have some exciting things going. I see quite a few are heading off or just returning from quilt retreats. Now, that is something that could restart the creative juices flowing. Thanks for sharing your pictures and reminding me that I need to spend more time in the company of quilters, whether virtually or literally.

In addition to surfing the web for a quilty kick in the pants, I also delved into my quilt photo collection. I am always impressed when I see a big quilt made of thousands of tiny pieces. Remember the incredible nine-patch I showed a couple years ago? The quilt above is from the collection of the Crists, a husband and wife team of avid quilt collectors. No, the rock isn't mine! Sigh...

Here's another amazing quilt full of tiny pieces - also from the Crist's collection. Leave it to a fellow quilter to travel with a tape measure so you can get an accurate idea of the scale of these blocks.

And, finally, another quilt I found inspirational. The double nine-patch is one of my all-time favorite patterns and you cannot beat it in red and white. Check out the quilting on this one. It is stunning! None of the hands in this photo are mine either. If they were, the next photo would have been of the owner trying to drag it away from me. I must have 20 pictures of this one quilt.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Flower Garden Block #3

I am so glad to have this flower garden project. It is quick to prep - particularly when you compare to a Balimore Album or Civil War Bride block - and fun to stitch with its easy curves and fun fabrics. I really like polka dots and it is hard not to add some to every block. I went with some cool colors on this one but will be back with a bright yellow for block number 4. I don't know why I can't get a decent picture of these blocks, though. They all come out too dark.

Instead of getting all my small quilts machine quilted or using them as my own machine quilting practice pieces I sent some of my favorites to Bellwether. Below is one I am now calling Stacked Scraps and am loving the texture the handquilting creates. One of the drawbacks to machine quilting is deciding what to do about thread color because I prefer to see the texture instead of the thread in the stitching. Of course, the drawback to hand quilting on prints is a lot of the work goes unnoticed unless the light catches the quilt at just the right angle. Pardon the unattractive background in this photo. The light coming in my laundry room window was just right for capturing the quilting. Now, I need to decide on binding...

You can see the quilting even better in this photo. The patterns Dick Fries chose are really nice. I plan on using that straight feather in the outside borders again. Can you also see the cable in the stacked scrap blocks?

And, finally, I completed another row on the little "T" quilt. Each little block has five half square triangles which need to be squared up before I stitch them together. Boring! But, they look good togther so I must keep plugging along.

The sewing room is quite a mess right now. I really have to get into the mood to tidy things up but I am not there now.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Flower garden block #2

I finished block number 2! That officially puts me on a roll. At least, if there were an official quilt block accreditation body it would definitely officially put me on a roll. Anyway, I did finish my second block and it is blissfully flat which always makes me feel like an accomplished appliquer. So, I annointed myself. Must sign off now. It is time to prep block #3.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rouge et blanc; Rode en witte; Blanquirrojo

Quilters love squishy envelopes in the mailbox. It is even better when the squishy envelope is a generous gift. Kathie sent some ecology cloth which I think is the perfect "white" for a vintage looking red and white quilt. Thanks Kathie!!
I saw an adorable doll quilt when I visited the Greenwich (Connecticut) Historical Society last year and have been wanting to reproduce it ever since. So, I washed my new ecology cloth, chose the perfect red and played around trying to make a small "T" block. The first one was pretty terrible, the second was better and I had it pretty much figured out by the third. I am pleased with how the colors reproduce the look of one of my vintage red and white quilts.
Here is the first row of "T" blocks. It takes a long time to make such a small block so I am even using the trial blocks. The original quilt wasn't perfect and neiher will this one be. I pulled the winners of the magnet sets from the Virtual Red and White quilt exhibit. Congratulations to: Elizabeth, Lynn, and Diane. Thank you to everyone who shared a quilt! I loved getting inspired by your treasures.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Time for some BLUE and white

I have a finish!! This is the blue and white star quilt I first posted about here, but taken to a whole new level by some outstanding quilting. I can say that without blushing because it isn't my outstanding quilting.

I picked this little (I am considering 35"x 43" to be little) beauty up from Bellwether Dry Goods a week ago and finished the binding over the weekend. When I dropped it off, I was thinking the simple block pattern would make a good utilitarian look but Dick Fries, who does the marking for Bellwether, had a much better vision. He didn't think I should waste the open space in this quilt on anything less than dynamic quilting patterns. He knows I like lots of quilting so he included half-inch spaced lines in the star blocks and outline quilting on all the squares. Dick's choice of quilting design turned a very ordinary top into something very special and this will be a quilt I truly treasure.

I often pick patterned fabrics for my quilt backs but looking at old quilts made me realize that I was missing a wonderful opportunity to showcase the quilting. I almost like the back of this quilt as much as the front. It hangs really straight and I cannot wait to add a sleeve and get this little treasure on my wall.

Disclaimer: I have no commercial relationship with Bellwether besides that of a satisfied customer. I love the work they do and Jean and Dick are really, really nice to work with. For me, the ultimate in quilting is hand quilting. Unfortunately, I don't have the time (and some might say the talent) to do much of it myself. I love being able to work with a service that listens to what I like and translates it into something even better than I imagine.
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