Sunday, October 4, 2015

I've Been Making Tiles

The theme of the moment is Tiles, and I have been making lots of them.  I bought a bunch of ceramic tiles to use as a kitchen backsplash, and instead of putting them up as is, I got the bright idea to randomly paint stencil designs on them. I figured random would help if I ran out of a particular color of paint or had trouble with a particular stencil.  I've decided to limit the color palette to blues and greens. There are 25 octagon tiles for each sheet (about a square foot), and 33 sheets.  Please don't do the math. Let's just say it is a lot of stenciling, but it is easy to paint using a stencil. Right now, they are spread out all over the house to dry.

I've also been making the Islamic tile quilt I mentioned in my last post.  It is going well, but I am only working a few minutes a day on it. I caught up with all of the episodes of Orange is the new Black, so I should now have more time to work on cleaning and quilting.

In other news, I have been getting lots of free stuff in the mail.  I signed up to review products in exchange for a review. I knew it was easy to get books, but I didn't know how to get products.  But now, I know that there are lots of legit sites that do link you up with the people who want their products reviewed.  So far, I have received a selfie stick, Aloe Vera gel, a fancy shower head, and  a strap to prevent snoring.  It is interesting and fun to be able to try out new things you wouldn't think of trying.  And so far, they are high quality products that are worth getting.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tile Quilt

Often, as I go about my day, I say to myself "I can make that."  This happens a lot when I am at a store, a show, a festival, or a museum.  Usually, I continue on and never actually do that.  There isn't enough time to make everything I know I can make.

One of those moments happened when we were at the Islamic Museum in Canada a couple of months ago.  And this time, I am actually following through.  There was a tile wall - simple squares, and I decided to replicate it.

I started making this quilt with fabric I had at home, but I just wasn't feeling it, and I hadn't thought through the size I wanted and wound up with not enough fabric to make it.  This meant a few trips to the store to find the right fabric.  This background fabric was one that I rejected originally, because it has a design that looks manmade. I wanted a more mottled look that would look natural.  But it is hard to find the right shade of beige with a mottled look, at least at that store and on my budget.  I rejected this fabric a couple of times I went there, but the last time I went, I decided it would work after all.  So what if it looked man-made?  The quilt will be made out of fabric, so it already has that man-made look.

I like the design on the fabric now. I think it does add to the variability and doesn't look too man-made.  But by the time I finally decided to get the fabric, someone else had gotten to it first, and it was cut into three pieces.  I was okay with that; after all, I am going to cut it into even more, but after I washed it, I realized that someone had cut off the selvages too.   I guess that is okay too, since I would have done that too.  I think it was returned because it is not a regular cotton fabric. It is more like brushed cotton.  It is a little more stretchy than regular fabric, like flannel, but thinner.  I think it will be just fine in this quilt, and the soft fabric is nice to touch.

The design has a lot of squares next to each other that are the same color.  I decided for this quilt to cut everything into squares and sew together instead of leaving them in long rows.  I wanted to have that variability of tile.  Mmm, this looks like my tile bathroom.  I didn't need to go all the way to Canada for this design!

Don't worry. The tile design at the museum had other colors in it too. Or should I say colours?  Mostly red with a few green pieces in it.  This red is so much better than my original red. I am keeping my original green since I don't need a lot of pieces of it.  I am happy with all the fabric selection now, and this quilt is coming along quite nicely now.

It is just a matter of finding time to sew. The weather is very nice, and I want to get as much work done outside as possible.  We managed to demolish two of the flower beds completely, and just need to demolish a few more.  The yard looks so much bigger now, and I am very happy with my decision to reduce the number of flower beds I have. The driveway is looking much better now too.

There are still lots of unfinished projects to do, but progress is being made on them.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Full House for Elephant Parade!

People who have been following this blog will be happy to know that the final paraders have arrived for the Elephant Parade.  They have been trickling in slowly here and there, and many have been waiting in the staging area for months.

Let me introduce you to the latest arrivals.  First the bugler in a band uniform.

And a fox.

I have to admit that I really didn't enjoy making these last arrivals. I think this is because I had specific ideas in mind about how they were to look instead of simply letting them grow improv.  But they are finished and I think they look okay - the bugler turned out to be quite handsome, and the fox will look all right hidden amongst all the other animals.  And I thoroughly enjoyed making the other participants, so it all balances out on the positive side.

The next step is to choose a layout. Originally I was going to arrange the elephants as they are in my family, but with the new animals, that plan has been abandoned, and they can go wherever they look good.   I laid them all on my bed so that there would be a white background, but then I had to stand on a chair and take the camera up to the ceiling to take these pictures.

So what do you think of the layout?

I am going to move the turtle away from behind the fox. He needs a better view.

And if I use the tiger, he will need a tail. My sister was thinking of a person for each row, but I think they work better together.  The dancing couples are already sewn together, and the musicians look more band like if they are together.

The twirly girl was a reject, but I think I could get her to fit if I decide to keep her. The giraffe is not supposed to be a reject but I am not sure that there is enough room for him.There are only two right facing rows, and they have a variety of animals already.

I also forgot to show the original bird I made for the quilt.  I had also rejected this one, but now I am wondering if I should make room on the quilt for all of them. I made too many on purpose, so that I could take out the ones that wouldn't work. What do you think - which ones would you reject? Or move around?

This post has been linked to:
Pieces by Polly Block Party

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Music has Arrived at Elephant Parade

Progress continues to be made on the Elephant Parade quilt.  All of the participants in my Elephant Parade have gotten some work done, and they are no longer blind. I also fixed little bits and pieces that I noticed and didn't like.  I have to sew down all these applique pieces.

 Also a drummer has arrived for the Elephant Parade.  He has a lot more applique pieces than all the others.  His hat / hair and drum strap will get some more tweaking tomorrow.

The drummer come with another band member, but I was trying to have him have bent knees, and for some reason I am having a lot of trouble with bent knees.  I need to be fresh to decide whether to leave him with straight knees, or keep trying to bend his knees.

My summer vacation is coming to a close soon, and I want to be able to get this quilt done if at all possible, at least get it into a top.  But my mind is distracted with other projects I have started around the house and I keep coming up with new ideas - how about a float, a banner, a flag, a fox - and a dog - and a horse - and a panda . . .

It is just too much fun to stop.

This post is linked up to:
Let's Bee Social #88 
Pink Doxies Pet Project

Monday, August 31, 2015

Rehab Addict

When I first bought my house, I was planning on doing something every year to update and upgrade it.  That way, I wouldn't have to do a lot of updating when it was time to sell the house and I would get to enjoy the upgrades instead of doing it just for the new buyer.  I started out really well.  In the first few years, the house got some new windows, a new furnace and air conditioner, a new roof, and a new dishwasher.

Eventually though, I got complacent, or was it contented, and stopped doing any more.  This year, though, I am no longer content.  As you know, my keyword for this year is clarity, and I have been doing things to this house to make it a little bit more maintenance-free.  I have been going through my possessions inside my house, shelf by shelf, and getting rid of as much as possible. I give away as much as I can and recycle the rest.  This is a difficult process for me, since I feel like I find a use for pretty much everything I love, but I am trying to clear up more space.

Outside the house, I have also been doing the same.  I have many flower beds in my yard - 10 of them!  The person who owned the house before me was a gardener.  I like gardening so I like the idea of having that many flower beds, and I didn't want to undo her hard work.  I also thought that having that many flower beds made it easier for regular maintenance, since there was less lawn that needed to be cut. 

Over time, many of the flowers and herbs died, and I replaced them with shrubs to make them more maintenance-free.  But the shrubs became over-grown too, and weeds still took over the yard.  Even though I enjoy yard work, I really cannot do much because of my allergies. This year, I have decided to significantly reduce the number of beds, by half.  That way, I can enjoy the process, but it is more manageable.  I am happy to say that many weeds have died in this process.

Most of the beds will be replaced with grass, but I am hoping to upgrade the front of the house with a new porch and a retaining wall.

I've also been watching a lot of remodeling shows. Most of them would say my house is terribly outdated and needs to be completely gutted and remodeled.  I have no plans to gut my house - I actually like walls that I can put my quilts on, instead of the open floor concept.  But the shows have gotten me quite excited about looking at the space differently and making more changes around the house.  I have many more ideas than my budget can handle. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

More Animals Have Arrived for Elephant Parade

More animals have arrived for the Elephant Parade.  First a lovely brown elephant has arrived to take care of her babies.

Next up is a Block Lotto bird.  I've been seeing these whimsical birds on the Blogosphere since April 2013 and kept thinking I should make them.  Now I did!

Last and certainly not least, is a Zany ZebraZ, at half the size as in Lorna's pattern. Since making those teeny-tiny Irish chain pieces, I could handle the teeny tiny pieces on this zebra. I made the neck simpler but otherwise followed the directions exactly.  I might have to get a Sharpie to define the neck a bit more.

Here they are all together.

Next up, I am going to work on people.  I am thinking of a drummer. Can't have a parade without music. I might add a fox too, but I haven't decided on that yet.

This post has been linked to:
Let's Bee Social #87 at Sew Fresh Quilts
Pink Doxies

Friday, August 21, 2015

Quilt Reveal: Irish Chain

I have finished my Irish chain quilt. And I managed to keep it simple and modern. Even though all that white space called out to me to do something - add an applique or embroidery motif, some large multi-colored hand stitches, etc., I kept my promise to keep it simple and do some straight line quilting. I even stayed with the original plan and managed to avoid free motion quilting. I figured that the hexagon quilt is already giving me enough challenge, and I need to get this one done.

I've been trying to make a modern quilt.  Keeping it simple, but for every other quilt, I wound up doing something that threw off the modernity.  Straight lines all the way up and down the quilt, even through the border.  I thought about making vertical and horizontal lines, but I liked them better diagonal to make them fancier. I was originally going to use that dark green thread throughout, but I chickened out and went with the lighter thread for most of it.  The dark green is only on the chains.  I like the contrast the two different thread colors give this quilt.

What's so funny is that my most modern quilt is also the most traditional.  One of the first quilts I ever finished uses this kind of quilting pattern.

I had an extra nine patch left, so I made a label for it. I found several quotes about chains, and I particularly liked this one. We have to make so many decisions in quilting, as in life, and it is always a gamble whether the decision is a good one or not.

 I have not an ounce of regret. Every link is so valuable in forming the chain that is my life. Who I am today is because of those links, and I wouldn't change any of them.
Alanis Morissette

I bound it while binge-watching Rehab Addict, a home improvement show that fits more my style.  A single mother fixed houses without killing the character of the home.  Each of the little squares finish at .75".  It is approximately 21' x 27", making it one of my biggest small quilts.