Saturday, July 19, 2014

Lansing Leaves Quilt

I am a slow quilter - just methodically working a few minutes a day here and there and making slow progress.  This means that my blog rarely has a final ta-da Here's the Quilt I Made Today posts.  What it is supposed to have is some in progress shots to show what has been happening so you can see the quilt unfolding over time.

The one quilt I made this year, I couldn't show you, because I was testing a pattern that will be published in a book.  It was disappointing that I couldn't show you, because it left for little quilty blog fodder during the time I was making it.

Recently,  I started a new quilt, and I couldn't show that one to you either!  This time it was because I couldn't transfer the photos from my camera to my computer. So instead of slowly seeing the unfolding, you can see all of the photos at once.   My job sent me to Lansing for a month. I like to think that the hotel cleaning staff enjoyed seeing the quilt progressing, but I hardly saw them, and when I did, they didn't mention it.  I was working crazy hours at work, and just had a few minutes here and there to work on the quilt in the hotel room, but over the month, I think I made pretty good progress.

It all started with a fabric from a kit and a photograph in the quilt shop brochure.   They were teaching a class on it.  I also had a template from a book I got from the library.  A kit was faster to pack then trying to figure out what make and whether I had everything I needed.

Next step was to cut the fabric and sew the strips together that make up the leaves. That's where I discovered that taking a bigger ruler would have helped. I only had a six inch square ruler.

After that, it was time to use the template to cut the fabric.  I had to buy some scissors. I was planning on rotary cutting, but scissors worked much better.

Here's a look at my sewing space. I had to move the sewing machine to cut the fabric.

For some reason, I thought that the leaves in the center were bigger than the leaves on the sides, and that I was missing parts of the template, so I wasted some time making the missing templates, but I finally figured out the blocks were the same size and these three templates really fit together.

Checking the layout on the design bed.

I found a walking path in the neighborhood, and everything is very green.  It seemed strange to come back and work with fall colors.

  All the blocks are now pieced.

The blocks have all been trimmed and the rows have been sewn together. Time for the inner border. Since I didn't have a pattern, I had to try to figure out the border sizes, after long days of work. I also wasn't sure where Borders 1, 2 and 3 from the kit were supposed to go. There are four fabrics in borders, so I wasn't sure whether one has to be used in more than one place or whether I "borrowed" one of the borders for another quilt.

After I had finished cutting and sewing, I realized that I had done the math incorrectly (forgot to add one of the seams), so the border would be too small for the next round of leaves. I didn't have enough fabric to cut all new borders, so I made just two of the borders slightly larger than the others.


I was going to have time on the weekend to put together the rest of the top, but I wound up working all that weekend too, and then it was time to start packing up.

I'm home now and I have housework to do again, and preparing my own food. It seems like it may be a little while before I can finish this quilt.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Red and Black and White Awards Banquet Quilt

Here is my latest quilt, in progress. It is another small one. It started innocently enough. I had some black and white fabric left over from another project, and I decided to make a small quilt out of it instead of putting it away. It was a simple matter of sewing the more white than black strips next to the more black than white strips, and cutting them into triangles and sewing them to each other. There wasn't a lot of fabric left, and it made six blocks.  I decided that the six blocks didn't look good right next to each other, and would look better on an on point setting.

The fabric from the center squares was also from the sewing room.  It all went well until I needed fabric for the setting squares.  The whole point of using fabric that was already in the sewing room was to keep from digging into the supplies, but I needed other fabric for the setting squares.  Since black and white goes with almost anything, I wound up auditioning a lot of different fabric - more black and white fabric, green, red, and yellow.

I found the pretty red, which is one of my favorite fabrics.  It turned this scrappy, use up what you have, into a beautiful quilt that was worth the effort.  I also spent a lot of time auditioning the border fabric.  I participated in a black and white fat quarter swap when I first discovered that quilting groups were on the internet.  Most of my black and white fabrics are from this swap, and I think they have waited long enough. I discovered the internet quilting groups just in time to know that I had jut missed the millennium swaps.   There had been many people who swapped fabrics for the end of the century.   Before that, I was a lonely quilter, trying to figure out everything from magazines.  Anyway, the border fabric has cows on it, and the word "moo, but it looks like 2000 to me when I first saw it, and it made me feel that I had a late chance to participate.  One of the black and white fabrics has chickens on it, so a cow fabric isn't out of place.

I had originally cut the setting triangles incorrectly, and decided to play around with putting the bad triangles on the front of the quilt.  I like it!  I can add them as prairie points so I can still use the border.

After sewing the raw edges, the triangles would be smaller than they were pictured. I decided I wanted the triangles even smaller, so I folded them in half instead of cutting more and sewing them to each other.  Here they are cut and ready to sew into the border.  I'm wondering if I should add something (applique? embroidery? and if so, what?) to those center black squares or leave them as is.

I am also working on helping my daughter sew a blouse.  I am not used to making clothes, but it is turning out quite nicely.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Blue Skies

The sky has been the most beautiful shades of blue.  The weather has been warming up and the days are getting longer.  It puts a spring in the step. More people are outdoors, and greeting each other after a long winter's nap.

Monday, February 24, 2014

What's the Difference Between a Modern Quilt and an Improv Quilt?

Nancy Kerrigan. 
Photo by Gianluca Plantana CC BY 2.0 via Flickr
Yesterday, I finished the binding on the improv quilt I am making for possible consideration for Sherri Lynn at Dainty to use in her upcoming book.  I still have to make some minor adjustments, but for the most part it is done.  This now leaves me free to work on other quilts.  Right now, my plan is to use the scraps from the last several quilts (and other cleanup projects) that are still in the living room.  If I use them up, I don't have to figure out a place to put them away!

Anyway, I discovered that there is a modern quilt guild on Facebook, and I joined it.  One of the posts was asking for volunteers to do a demonstration at an upcoming meeting.  She said it would be an improv demo.  I'm sure she meant that the demonstrator could just improvise and do a quick demonstration on whatever she wanted, but it made me think of my latest improv quilt.

The thing is, I have thought of modern quilts and improv quilts to be on opposite sides of the spectrum.  On a modern quilt, there is a lot of attention spent on artistry and execution.  Sure the shapes are simple, but careful consideration is given to color placement, and balance, and precision and all those kinds of things. They are deceptively simple because they look easier than they are. Sure I could make one, but will it look as good as one made by a modern quilter?

On the other hand, improv is more spent on bold design and more winging it.  You may not know what you are going to get at the end, but you take a chance to see if it will be good or not.  I suspected but now know that an improv quilt is not easier to make than a modern quilt is.  Sure, you (okay, like I did) can take the lazy way out and not bother to square up your blocks before sewing them together, but then you have to figure out how to work your way out of your "mistake" when the quilt doesn't lie flat.

Having just watched the Olympics, and particularly the story of Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, it makes me think of ice skating, like Nancy's artistry is compared to Tonya's big jumps and bold moves.

In skating, it is possible to have both artistry and physical technique, and I am sure the same is true for quilting.  I could have spent more time squaring up the blocks, or arranging them on a design wall. But then you lose some of the free spirit of the improv quilt.

What do you think, can you have both? Is there such a thing as a modern improv quilt?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow on Playground

It continues to be cold and snowy. I'm not used to showing this many snow pictures, but I thought these in the school playground were colorful and fun.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Deep Snow

Since it remains cold, the snow is still here and very deep, up to the top of Zeus's legs. Luckily, he loves it.

I even saw people waiting for the bus, standing on top of snow like this or even deeper, without falling through.  The whole length of the street had snow that was that deep.