Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Show me a full ballerina skirt with a hint of saloon and I'm on board."

I couldn't help thinking of that line from the movie "Devil Wears Prada" when I saw this photo in the new book "Civil War Legacies" by Carol Hopkins (That Patchwork Place). Show me a photo of little quilts in a wood box with fabrics on top of more little quilts and I am on board. And all in. If you are a fan of 19th century reproduction fabrics you probably own a Carol Hopkins pattern. This new book has 15 of her projects and it is full of glossy photos of little quilts made from yummy repros.

I think she's been peeking in my sewing room because in her introduction she pushes all the right buttons for me. Quotes like, "These patterns provide just the right opportunity to pop in a few pieces of that poison green fabric...," and " might even take the ribbon off that fat quarter bundle..." hit very close to home.

I just had to share what is proving to be a very fun book to look at and will likely provide some pleasure inspiring more little quilts.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Slow down! You're going to hurt yourself!

I don't like paper piecing and it doesn't like me. It takes more fabric, thread and time than "regular" methods. Every now and then I am enticed back to paper piecing by the notion that it is going to be faster than hand piecing and more accurate than machine piecing. Okay, for me the latter is usually true. But, once again I have disproved that paper piecing is faster than hand piecing. At least for the Dear Jane blocks.

I made the block below, C-6 Challenge, about 8 years ago. It's ugly - I call the color "mud pink." It has bugged me for the entire 8 years it's been in my (small) pile of finished DJ blocks. Frankly, I am blaming it for the lull in my DJ work. I was selecting fabrics for future blocks and loving all the pretty pinks I plan on using. That's when it finally hit me that I should just trash "mud pink" and make a new one. It's an easy block, after all. That is, unless I decide to paper piece it.

I was trying to squeeze in my new C-6 this morning when I should have been leaving for work. It went something like this: cut, pin, sit, sew, stand, trim, press, cut, sit sew, stand, trim, press...up, down, up, down, up, down... That annoying "Voice" in my head was telling me to stop rushing because something bad was bound to happen. It's the same one that told me to use the guard on the mandolin right before I sliced my thumb. Right after I told the Voice to just pipe down I trimmed the wrong piece and ruined the whole block. That's when the Voice told me I was lucky I hadn't just rotary cut my thumb right off. So that's it. I will slow down and prep yet another C-6 for some nice relaxing hand piecing. It won't be in mud pink, either. I might also look into getting out more so I stop talking to myself - particularly since I don't seem to be listening anyway.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ready to fly

Well, it's almost ready to fly...all the way to Australia for Quilts in the Barn 2012: An Exhibition of Red and White Quilts (including antique red and white quilts by Mary Koval). It just needs a label that commemorates the occasion and the woman in whose memory it was made. I don't usually do labels so if you can point me toward instructions for using the computer printer to print on fabric I would be much obliged.

I sent this one to Bellwether for hand quilting and I think they outdid themselves. They knew this was an extra special project for me and I love the attention to detail that went into the quilting in the basket and the outlines around the blocks and the baskets and the handles. Did I mention it was back to me in about 3 weeks?!?

Here's one more picture of the finished little quilt. This is my first red and white finish since last year's red and white quilt extravaganza in New York. The solid fabrics do showcase hand quilting well so I hope to make some progress on my other red/white starts.

And...a photo of the back to see the incredible quilting.

Finally, you never know where you will find inspiration. After spending all weekend cleaning up my sewing space I saw a Dear Jane block on Elly's blog and I knew I had to do at least one for myself. This is C-9 Jane's Tears. I thought the name was unfortunate because I was skipping around my sewing room after I finished it. That's what some happy red fabric and a little applique will do for you. It's a bonus when you find the prepped block under a pile of clutter. Clutter that's now gone, I might add.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A finish

My version of Lori's "Pink Lemonade" quilt-a-long is finished! I really think that old gold fabric makes it look like a piece of an old quilt. I had intended to bind in it a brown fabric but that red was hanging around on my sewing table just asking to join in. The little red flowers in the yellow and some red in the brown fabrics told it that it was welcome and I couldn't be happier with the result. It's hard to tell in the photo that it was hand quilted by Bellwether. Yes, another one - that's the only way I can get a finished project. I should have taken a photo of the back.

Last night I had the great treat of attending a presentation by Debby Cooney, quilt collector and quilt historian, at the Baltimore Applique Society. She showed at least 30 wonderful antique quilts. You can view photos of three of the quilts at the BAS Facebook page here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

March Madness

March Madness is what American college basketball fans call this time of year. I am not a basketball fan (that squeaking sound the shoes make drives me nuts) but I agree that this time of year is madness - at least for me. Work is busy. Fortunately, the quilt world does a terrific job of offering up diversions just when I need them to keep me sane. Last year, the red and white show in New York was such a treat. This year, in conjunction with the AQS quilt show in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Heritage Center of Lancaster County is showing 80+ Amish quilts in a magnificent display of color and form in quilts.

This collection of Lancaster County Amish quilts was culled from the larger collection of quilts known as the "Esprit Collection." Thanks to generous donors, they will reside in perpetuity in Lancaster, PA. Last Tuesday, I went for the opening of the exhibit which included a reception and dinner and the added treat of a keynote talk by Julie Silber, Curator of the Esprit Collection. It was fun to hear the history of how the collection came to be and how these quilts made their way back to their county of origin. The Heritage Center of Lancaster County is raising money so they are able to display the quilts and not just store them safely out of sight.

There were two wonderful books available for purchase. The smaller book with the white background titled "Amish Quilts of Lancaster County" (40 pages) is the catalog for the 1990 exhibition Amish: The Art of the Quilt at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco. The other book, also titled "Amish Quilts of Lancaster County" by Patricia T. Herr (Schiffer, 2004, 192 pages) provides more photos, including many detail pictures, of the Lancaster quilts from the Esprit Collection. If you purchase both books at the exhibit they are $40.

My personal favorites are the double nine patch quilts. Here you get an idea of how much detail is available in Dr. Herr's book. There are even photographs of the back. Excuse the glare.

Here's another page of Dr. Herr's book. You can see how wonderfully the color of the quilts is reproduced and the solid looking photo is the quilt back. You can't tell here, but the quilting shows up quite well.

This is a photo of the interior of the exhibition catalog. The quilt is another favorite of mine. I love those flying geese and the funky colors.

These are some quilting stencils and templates.

I have to confess that I've been to quilt shows in Lancaster many times but never once visited one of those legendary "Lancaster" fabric shops. This time, I broke that streak and went to Burkholder's Fabrics. I was thrilled with their collection of Kona cottons and Moda Bella fabrics. I am looking for a solid to use as the background for my hand pieced stars. I've mentioned before that my sewing space is in my laundry room so please ignore that stray sock that is slithering into the photo. I can't decide between the darker background which makes the lighter stars pop out or the lighter background which lets the darker stars shine.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sewing without opposable thumbs

Hand sewing without thumbs is not possible. Last night I learned that the little gizmo that holds vegetables in place on a mandoline (fancy food slicer for the non-cooks out there) isn't just for looks. And, you better use one if you are going to get carried away with the speed you can slice an onion because before you know it you've sliced a piece of your thumb. Yowza! Damage was minimal but I still have three bandaids around the tip and can no longer hand sew my red basket handles or piece little houses from scraps or make tumbling blocks. All of that is what I've been working on since I can't seem to find time spend at my sewing machine.

What to do if you have an itch to quilt but can't? You dream. Ever since I saw the indigo and brown double nine patch by Betsy Chutchian in the "History Repeated" book I knew it was "the one" for DS #2. He's the one that moved out last summer and asked me when I was going to make him a quilt. Quilt=guilt...funny how close those words are. I am still tussling with myself over which indigoes to use. It seems I have very little of the prints I prefer and plenty of the ones that aren't quite right. If you happen to be a fabric manufacturer I have some ideas. Call me.

Being limited to quilt dreaming for now, I also pulled out one of my favorite state quilt project books. This is an oldie I bought from a friend who found she had duplicates. Does that ever happen to you? Have you ever bought a book more than once? Yeah, me too.

It is full of eye candy and quilt/women's history. I have even more ideas now for when I get my thumb back.
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