Sunday, August 29, 2010

Here Kitty, Kitty....

This is just a quilt top at the moment, but this handsome feline is destined for our guild's silent auction. Members have been asked to donate a small quilted item to help raise funds at our quilt show. This year the show will be held November 5 & 6 in Ocala, FL.

I chose to make a version of "Stalker" the celery cat which is part of the Garden Patch Cats series from Story Quilts. Helen Knott designed them, and they all have clever names like Eggplant Purr-mesan, or Avocato.

The crazy-pieced border is a variation from the pattern. I keep all my scraps in large plastic zip-top bags, sorted by color. Once I had the blues and greens out, I couldn't put them away, and wound up fusing all sorts of bits to fusible web. Then I cut them into strips. And now... they need a home. Well, we'll see where that goes. But first I need to quilt "Stalker".

Friday, August 27, 2010

Lucky Me!

Designer Kathy York stitched this beautiful little bag and filled it with four fat quarters of Urban Landscapes fabric she designed for Clothworks Textiles. I won it by leaving a comment on her blog, and then being the winner chosen by a random number generator. Instructions for making the bag will appear in the upcoming issue of Quilting Arts Gifts 2010 issue.

Aren't they great prints? Oh, I have plans for this fabric! I just don't know what they are yet. But you'll be the first to know when I use them.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Preserving History... AKA Other People's Stuff...

I've been the happy recipient of bits and pieces of other people's unfinished sewing projects over the years. Often I'm able to include them in my own work, and I like keeping bits of history alive that way. For instance, my friend Norma passed along lots of small pieced fan units that her mother had made. I love looking at the old fabrics, and estimate they are from the 1950s, take or give a decade. While sorting through these pieces, I found that I could group them roughly by color, join them, and come up with Dresden Plate units. So I'm working on the blocks, and will complete a quilt top with them... some day. It's going to be a lively, happy quilt.

I also received a shoe box full of accurately cut diamonds from which to piece a Tumbling Block quilt top. I admired how the quiltmaker had been so organized in cutting and storing these. They were grouped and carefully wrapped in packages containing multiple diamonds in light-medium-dark values. Aren't they pretty?

However, I also encountered a dilemma. The quilter had pieced two of the three diamonds together already, and even completed some of the Tumbling Block units. But she did not use the sewing technique for creating Y-seams, or set-in seams, to make flat-lying units. That of stopping and starting stitches 1/4" from the fabric edges. See that little pucker? Uh oh.

It looks nice and flat from the pressed wrong side. But peek under the seam. There's that little culprit!

The question now is how will I use these? To use all of them, I'd have to get the seam ripper out and unsew all of her pieced units. I don't even like unsewing my own mistakes! So that's pretty much out of the question.

But I think there are enough cut diamonds to piece some units, and I stitched a few, like the one below, to see how it went. They lie flat. So my current plan is to piece what I can and use them in a much smaller project than what the quilter planned on. I'll re-sort and re-group the usable diamonds and go from there.

But that's not all! A man brought his wheel-chair bound mother's needlework files to our local sewing group after she passed away. This woman was meticulous and I wish I'd met her. She had cross-stitch pieces that looked as good on the back as on the front. And look at her careful notes on quilt patterns. How could we possibly throw them out after all the work she put into them? So you can see why my sewing room needs the occasional overhaul and cleaning.

Friday, August 20, 2010

While My Machine Was Away...

There was a limit on play! What to do?? Last week it was time to part with my main sewing machine for it's annual cleaning and service. I still have the back-up Bernina 1080, which is a real workhorse, in case I felt the need to sew something. Which of course I did.

But I also used some of the usual sewing time to impose some order on the chaos of the sewing room. It really felt good to lighten the load, and I was able to gather a good-size bag of fabrics to share on the freebie table at our quilt guild meeting. Looks better in there. Breathing room. By the way, this is the new-and-improved "after" picture, just in case you couldn't tell.

I also sorted, culled, and organized scraps. That's when I found enough of the two orange prints to use in the little zip bag shown above. The pattern was a freebie on Skip to My Lou. The fluffy little flower accent is from the Abbey Lane book titled "Blooming Possiblities." There are some fun patterns in there, too. I'm working on another project from that book now. But this purse is called The Pleated Pouch. There are color photos and step-by-step directions for sewing it, and it takes so little time. Cute! You might need to make one... or more.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Quilted Notebook Cover, Hot off the Press...

I used a pattern from Piney Patch Quiltworks, an online source of patterns and kits, to make this quilted gift for my daughter-in-law's upcoming birthday. I'm ahead of schedule, and have it completed in plenty of time to mail.

This was my first experience with using fusible fleece for the batting. Pretty good stuff. I like the pen pocket, business card holder, and additonal pocket for storing things. I'm sure I'll use this pattern again. It also included tips for using other sizes of wirebound notebooks.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

One Man's Art is Another Man's... Aggravation?

The Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine, is a beautiful mile-long path along the rocky edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Ogunquit was known as "beautiful place by the sea" by the Abenaki tribe. This year when we walked along the path, we noticed many interesting cairns, or stacks of rocks, artfully arranged. As I stopped and took some photos, a few others were also standing in the area looking at the rocks. One man came along and began asking a woman in the group if she knew who was responsible for the piles. Were they made as part of a children's project, he asked? When he learned that one man arranges the rocks in this manner, he wanted to know if the man had taken it upon himself to alter the landscape. He seemed to be irritated and upset by the effort. I was surprised that he took such exception to the cairns, but it was a good lesson in remembering that people have differing points of view and perspectives. I considered the stones to be artistic and thought the man who arranged them probably found it a meditative practice. But I could understand that the other observer clearly felt the display disrupted his natural view of the rocks. What are your thoughts?

Having just read the article titled "Guerilla Art Is..." in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, this stone-piling seemed to fit with the concept of unsanctioned public exhibits.

PS- I also learned that cairns like these are sometimes used as trail markers

Monday, August 9, 2010

Color Inspiration...

My camera was at the ready to capture colorful images like these while we visited Maine. The flowers are extra beautiful there, blooming brightly and abundantly in the sun and ocean air. Even the lobster bouys make an appealing and colorful display as seen on the side of a restaurant at Cape Porpoise. And Jack found a stylishly dressed bear to have a friendly chat with. I think the birdhouses in the garden would make a great thread-painted quilt project. That will go on my to-do list. Of course that list is miles long, so it may be awhile!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Refreshing Travel to Maine...

Clear blue skies, a profusion of flowers, and color all around! We spent a week in Maine and these are a few of the photos from the trip. The one above is Perkins Cove in Southern Maine. The fresh air with just a hint of coolness in it was a refreshing change from the Florida summer heat. Of course the tantalizing lobsters Maine is known for were sweet and tender. We enjoyed them on a picnic table overlooking a marshy bird refuge.

Our cottage at Goose Rocks Beach was a great home-away-from-home, quiet and peaceful. That's husband Jack on the deck. And our neighbors are shown in the small picture below. Can you even spot them?