Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quilting and philosophizing

Forgive me if I get a little introspective here. I was puttering in my sewing room (aka my corner of the laundry room) a couple of days ago. I took a small finished top off the "design flannel" and was rearranging some pieces that have been hanging up there for ages to make way for a new project when I spied a little rectangle of red fabric I've been saving for more than 10 years. It's from a BOM I bought when I really had no confidence to make my own color choices and live with them. Since the puttering included cutting pieces for more hand pieced houses I thought I would finally use that little bit of fabric. How special it was going to be to finally include it in something. Then, when I went to put the house together last night I realized I cut the darn thing backwards!

This started me thinking. What was so special about this little scrap? I like it a lot, couldn't get any more of it and it was the essence of the color sense I admired very much in my LQS owner. I used to rely heavily on her choices but using this fabric made me realize I am now making my own choices. If you aren't there yet then I encourage you to mimic those you admire but choose projects where you feel comfortable experimenting with some choices of your own and one day you will realize you have some quilting confidence.

Second, how did that fabric spend over 10 years stuck to the wall? It was literally right in front of my face and I no longer noticed it. I need to step back and reassess what I have and USE IT. I have a lot of fabric and plan on getting more (lots more). But, if I love it enough to buy it and live with it then surely I can make quilts with it. I spent some time today fishing around in my fabrics just to see what inspiration I could get from them.

Finally, it is now making me compromise on the house project. I was following the little pattern faithfully so I figured the backwards piece was trash and tossed it. Then, this morning it hit me...make one of the houses face a different way. Duh! So I fished my little roof out of the trash bag and it will go into my house quilt. Those will be the neighbors who thumb their noses at the home owners association rules.

That's a lot of thinking about one measley little piece of fabric. But, you are quilters and you can understand. There is something about the color, pattern and potential in cloth that inspires us, warms us and makes us smile. We just can't resist it. It even calls our name from the trash can.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to comment about my red basket project. The overwhelming favorite was the on point setting with the red alternate squares. The top is finished and it is ready for hand quilting. I will be donating this as a raffle for the Quilts in the Barn breast canceer fundraiser this coming fall. This is my small way of remembering and honoring my late mother-in-law, Barbara, who passed away four years ago this month from breast cancer.

We have a new neighbor in the "Building Houses from Scraps" project. I finished block #2 and #3 is well on its way to completion. I will be checking that template a little closer from now on so no other pieces come out backwards.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sweet Tea with Lemon

This is my version of Lori's latest quilt along (Pink Lemonade). I have been wanting to make a gold and brown quilt out of reproduction fabrics and this was just the pattern. Like Kathie, I reduced the size of the quilt to include just the whole blocks. The yellow is an old Judie Rothermel Baltimore Album fabric that I've saved for years and am now wishing I bought more of it. I love the drab kind of dull brownish cast it has. In case you cannot tell from the photo colors, it works perfect with the brown fabrics. In keeping with the beverage themed names I am calling this one Sweet Tea with Lemon 'cause of the browns. Although, I am thinking that since there is so much yellow I ought to name it Arnold Palmer after the half tea/half lemonade drink.

Here is one more Dear Jane block, L-1. I actually made it weeks ago but wanted to get a photo before I put it away. I was inpsired by the blog That Quilt and hope to make one of the "melon" blocks next. I hadn't noticed before, but there are quite a few melons in the original DJ quilt.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Little House from Scraps

Note that scraps are plural and house is singular. I decided hand piecing these little cuties was the best method for me but it definitely isn't the fastest. I didn't want to go to bed last night without at least starting my first block no matter how tired I was. The problem with that was I kept dozing off as I worked on it. After the third time waking up with the threaded needle in my right hand the fabric in my left I realized it was probably safer to not stitch and snore and set it aside until this morning.

As soon as I saw Jeanneke's generous and brilliant project I knew I had to join. House blocks are, after all, one of my all time favorites. I definitely cannot make a house a day as Jeaneke designed the project but will endeavor to produce one a week - or maybe one a month. I will also try to work on my other house projects which are described here and here. Yikes, that a lot of unfinished dwellings! There are a couple of blue and white houses I'd like to start building, too. Does this mean 2012 is the Year of the House for me?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Need to go tanning

No, I won't be squeezing into those funny space capsule things. I need to tan my stash. I knew when I saw this Courthouse Steps doll quilt here that I had to make one of my own. I've been doing a lot of piecing with color and had an urge to tone things down for a bit. When I went to the stash, I thought, with all the browns I have, I wouldn't have any problem finding fabrics for this one. Okay, I didn't, really. But, it is a small quilt and I definitely pinpointed a hole in the stash. Oh darn, I need more fabric. I have browns: madders, chocolate, light browns. But, I am very thin on the dark tans and who couldn't use more of the creamy light tans? I didn't have to rush to the quilts store and I am very pleased with the way this top captured the soft antique look I love (with that little pop of red right in the center. I am, however, back to visiting the fabric websites and will be keeping an eye out for tan reproduction fabrics when I get the chance to visit those great quilt shops that stock reproductions.

By the way, we are losing one of the great online reproduction shops...Sew Unique Creations is no longer selling fabrics. I got the email right after I placed an order. I appreciated the clearance sale prices but would rather pay full price and keep shopping. Tara, I know it was a tough decision and I will miss your great website.

If you like the Courthouse Steps block, I am listing the cutting instructions for one block below. The block is designed to be 6" finished. I played with some photo editing software and I hope you are able to see the labels on the photo above.

A: 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" (cut 1)
B: 1-1/8" x 1-1/2" (cut 2)
C: 1-1/8" x 2-3/4" (cut 2)
D: 1-1/8" x 2-3/4" (cut 2)
E: 1-1/8" x 4" (cut 2)
F: 1-1/8" x 4" (cut 2)
G: 1-1/8" x 5-1/4" (cut 2)
H: 1-1/8" x 5-1/4" (cut 2)
I: 1-1/8" x 6-1/2" (cut 2)

And finally, I have my first finish for 2012. I met my goal of hand quilting the little stacked bricks during the college footbal bowl game week. I just love that Jo Morton serpentine green fabric in the binding.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Is this cute, or what?

The pincushion in a cup, not the photo on the left (although he is definitely adorable). Somehow, I wound up on Etsy last weekend and came across these "tiny world" pincushions made by a dollmaker named Mimi Kirchner. She uses old teacups and wool to make, well, tiny worlds. Love them. Couldn't resist so I bought myself one. It was a dear price to pay for a pincushion, but I love it so much it is gracing a shelf at work so I can take breaks and play with my tiny world. The house stays put but the trees, bush and snowman are on pins so they can move around. So cute. She makes some with lighthouses and boats so I plan on getting one of those for summertime.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Repros: they all play well together

Don't you just hate throwing away any fabric scraps? Even the tiniest ones? Me too. When I was cutting out pieces for my tumbling blocks I had some leftovers big enough to squeeze out some squares in my favorite size, 1-1/4". I also was able to eek out some 7/8" x 1-1/4" rectangles which are just the size needed for my favorite tiny quilt. Before I knew it, I nearly had enough for another one. I cut a few more rectangles off some strips I had laying around and laid the top out before I went to bed last night. I blogged about this pattern in November 2010 and even had a giveaway for one of them. I put together the one on the right last Christmas. I always consider these Christmas quilts both for the time of year I make them and the border and binding colors I use (red and green, naturally).

Tonight, while my hubby watched football games and practiced his golf swing (don't ask, but if you ever drop by my house ask him to explain the divot in our ceiling) I sewed together the top. There's football all week so I hope to quilt at least one of them. I need something to keep me from stitching together all my tumbling blocks because I am saving those pieces for later. I also need something I can do while sitting in the same room as my hubby so I can make sure the golf clubs stay in the bag. After that I'll get back to the baskets project - I like to think of this little quilt as a quilting commercial. Once it's done it's back to the regularly scheduled project.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mixing it up

Happy 2012 to all of you! I hope that you are spending the dawn of this new year with those you love and cherish. I suspect that I am not alone in choosing a quiet evening at home in the company of my sewing machine. My hubby initiated himself in Pilates on Saturday morning and spent the rest of the day flat out on the couch after working muscles that he never knew he had. This left me to my own devices all day and I indulged in applique, hand stitching and machine sewing. What a great day! I did feed him meals and tucked him back in as I skipped back to my sewing cave.

So, now that the formalities have been dispensed with, I must ask your opinion on my current project. I finished off 20 red and white basket blocks for a special project. They were inspired by a tattered old small quilt I own. I wanted them to look chunky and a little primitive.

After consulting with Kathie and Linda, I decided to emphasize the red in this project. But I am torn between two setting choices. I don't have much in the way of design wall so you'll have to ignore the clutter and imagine the 20 blocks without distractions. This one (below) is my on-point version.

Or, do you prefer the straight setting which actually places the baskets at an angle? I am thinking of a narrow sashing (perhaps 1"?) with a very slightly wider outside border. The actual quilt would be 4 blocks wide by 5 blocks long.

I would love to hear your opinion on these settings or give me other ideas if you have them. Again, I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year with loads and loads of time for quilting!
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