Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The People Have Arrived For the Elephant Parade!

Excitement is building backstage as the people have arrived backstage (what do you call the part of the parade where people get ready?)!  And as everyone requested dancing people, they are doing just that!

I started out making this dancing woman. I started with the skirt, trying to keep all the dancers on the skirt intact.  But as you can see, she is too tall.  And since I had to give her some surgery anyway, I decided to make her a little bigger on the top. She looks disproportional, since her top is so much smaller than her bottom.

She turned into these two women.  Since there is a limit of three people in the parade, the one on the right is probably going to have to go on the back or have a special place in the orphan block quilt. She looks like a spinning top! Or maybe she has to go to the bathroom really badly!  Or maybe one of them will get a special place on the border.

The woman on the left came after I had seen some quilting shows.  I kept trying to figure out how to make people with straight lines, but after watching an episode of the Quilt Show where they were showing drunken path blocks, I remembered I know how to do curved piecing, so I did some curved piecing on her hips.  I really like her.  I thought about adding a sash on her to show her as Miss Parade, but I would like to keep showing off her pretty dress.

This is the dancing couple I showed on the last Elephant Parade post, but now in fabric!   He looks a little bit like Santa with his big waist.  People are fun to make, and addictive! I am having a hard time stopping.  Maybe when this one is done,  I will do another one with just people.

The animals and people are jostling for places as they get ready to start the parade. The people are practicing their dancing.  Right now they are armless, but don't worry, their arms will magically appear before the parade.  Unfortunately, the giraffe, leopard, and monkey are running late, and we will have to wait for them before we can get the parade on the road!

Linking to Free Motion by the River.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Life of Plenty Decision

That row of four blocks I showed you in my last post has been bothering me. They are the wrong color / mood.  I didn't like a long row next to the other long rows in that section and needed to think of a way to break it up.  I kept trying to think about what to put there.  Come on, what a life of plenty have?  Love, it is in there.  Nature, it is in there.  Friendship, it is in there.  Books, nah, they don't seem to fit with the other things in the quilt and may be hard to draw.  Money, no, you buy things with money and there are baskets in there for that.  I couldn't think of anything.

I think the reason the decisions are hard is because there is a limited amount of space left in the quilt for extra stuff.  I like all the other designs that are in the other quilt and it would be hard for me to give them up.

I considered making this quilt bigger, but have decided that it might be better just to start over with another quilt like this where I add things from the multitude of patterns I have collected over the years.

Then I got a notice from the library that I had a book that was about to become due to return.

Colorful Stitchery: 65 Embroidery Projects to Personalize Your Home by Kristin Nicholas was the only one that could not be renewed.  I looked through it to make sure I wasn't going to miss out on anything important. It has lots of cute little stitchery projects.  The patterns are all tiny, so you can enlarge them on your printer.  Then I  noticed the pattern for the vase that is sitting on the chair on the cover of the book.  My quilt is full of flowers in vases, and this one would fit in it perfectly.  That vase can take up the place of two blocks, and I can still piece two blocks to fill up the space. Decision made.

You know what a Life of Plenty needs?  Unlimited inspiration in the form of library books and the internet.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

National Quilting Day

Happy belated National Quilting Day.  I hope you had plenty of time for quilting.

The Quilt Show is offering all of its older episodes for free this weekend, so I was able to find lots of inspiration. I was supposed to be making blocks for Elephant Parade, but  I wasn't able to think and machine sew, and also pay attention, so I did some handwork. I made two blocks for A Life of Plenty.

I had the hardest time fitting the flowers in this one until I realized I had cut the background too narrow, so I added another piece.  I really like the folk art nature of these tulips. I put a date on this one. Now I am obligated to finish it this year!

Here they are on the floor in a random manner. I'm still not sure about that row of pieced blocks in the center.  That pink and brown just seems to disappear, but it may be the wood background that is causing the problem.  I am going to think about what to do with those. Right now, I am thinking of making this section into two blocks instead of one.  Maybe Ohio stars and friendship stars, applique, or a combination of stars and applique.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pieced Blocks for A Life of Plenty Finished

I finished all of the pieced blocks for A Life of Plenty.  I was supposed to make two basket blocks and one row of four blocks. I don't know the name of that block.  I didn't want to make two baskets that would be next to each other, so I searched for an applique pattern. Maybe a dog, a horse, a squirrel.  I spent a lot of time looking for something that would work, but didn't like any of my choices.  Finally, I decided to stop wasting my time and just trust Jeni. She had already done the work of choosing the blocks, and I needed to get the blocks done before work starts up again.

I started with the row of four blocks.  This one has partial seams, which I have done before.  This quilt is definitely not for beginners!  I enjoyed making the blocks. I made a mistake with the cutting, in that I didn't have both fabric facing the same way when I cut.  This meant that two of my blocks spin a different way than the other two, but I decided to make the blocks anyway. 

After making the row and putting them next to some of the blocks, I realized that the blocks are way too dark for the quilt. This is a low volume quilt with accents of color.  I needed to choose lighter medium colors. Since I enjoyed making the blocks, it wasn't any trouble to make another batch of blocks.  I really liked the layout, so I repeated my cutting mistake on this batch.  It looks like it might be too bright in the picture below, but I think that is because of the flash.  The first batch will be saved for another orphan quilt, or may wind up on the back.

I took a break to look at some blogs and saw someone who had made a low volume quilt with friendship stars. That's exactly what I needed for A Life of Plenty!  I realized that the reason I was having an issue with so many basket blocks was that baskets contain physical things.  With my goal of clarity for the year, I don't want to have a lot of physical things.  Friendship belongs in A Life of Plenty!  Both the friendship star block and the basket block went together quickly and easily.

The next step is to add applique to the basket blocks, and work on the remaining applique blocks.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Geese are Flying!

Jeni posted the directions for putting together all the blocks for A Life of Plenty recently. It is such a beautiful quilt!  I'm so glad I joined this quilt-along.  This post, though, made me realize how far behind I was, since I had a late start.  I decided to work on the pieced blocks to get closer to the finish line faster.  I made three house blocks. I knew there were a lot of flying geese in this quilt, but hadn't realized quite how many - there are more than 40.

I really like using the no-waste method of making flying geese.  You make four flying geese at a time, and you don't really see the geese until the end. It is like magic! There are a lot of scraps used in these, from back in the day when most fabric came with floral designs. I don't know exactly what makes a fabric "prim", but there were some scraps I just wanted to use up that don't look like they belong in a prim quilt. I decided that just like I don't make purely modern quilts, I don't make purely prim quilts either.

I really dislike paper piecing.  I haven't had much practice, but when I try, things don't work out well.  The last block Jeni gave us was a paper pieced one.  I thought about substituting it with another block, but stayed firm and decided to make the block.  It is only one block, and I haven't actually completely made a paper pieced block.  At least if I actually make a block, I can say that I can do it, and maybe I will be convinced to use it more.  Otherwise, I can at least say that I tried.

proof that I have tried paper piecing.

I decided to sneak in the paper piecing in between the flying geese to make the job more palatable.  Instead of the flying geese making the paper piecing better, the paper piecing made the flying geese worse.  I kept having trouble with the paper piecing. I started out with the fabric facing the wrong way, then I pieced the second fabric the wrong way, then I pieced it on the wrong side, and mostly I kept coming up short even though I had a really large fabric.  There was a lot of ripping of seams. I didn't shorten the stitch, so it wasn't difficult, but having to redo the same parts over and over again was not fun. 

The frustration also made me be more lenient with the flying geese blocks. I left the chopped off points the way they were.

All the flying geese, house blocks, and the paper pieced star are done.  There are a few more pieced blocks to finish and a lot more of the applique blocks. I do think I will be able to go back to enjoying making this quilt now that the paper pieced one is done.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

More Planning For the Elephant Parade Quilt

I didn't get any sewing done yesterday, since I was running errands, but that doesn't mean I wasn't thinking about quilting!  One of my errands was a stop at the library.  While I was there, a book that was displayed jumped out at me.  It's called Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell. It's a children's book - a biography about The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker.

And in it, is an image of a leopard that is just perfect for the elephant parade quilt. Most of it, particularly the neck and face, has a change I was already thinking about making for my next block, but this book gives me a better idea of how to do the feet.

There are lots of other beautiful images in it as well.  In fact, the book is just filled with inspiration.  When I just looked it up on Amazon, I see it is a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book. Well deserved.

See that monkey?  Hmm, an elephant parade could use a monkey, could it not? It would add to the whimsical nature of the quilt.

And look at the people. Don't you think that dancing couple would love to be in the parade too? I have African fabrics I can use for their dresses. Maybe instead of flowers, I can make people. I realize that I am taking out the simplicity of this modern quilt with all these, which is striking since the simplicity is what drew me to the quilt in the first place.  One day, I might be able to make a simple modern quilt and keep it simple, but apparently, not today and not with this quilt. I haven't decided yet whether they should be dancing or walking in the quilt.

I also took my animal prints fabric to the experts.  I wanted to make sure that I used the prints appropriately for the various animals. I didn't want to use tiger fabric for a giraffe.  I was expecting them to say, this fabric is this animal, this fabric is that animal, etc.  Apparently some of the fabric I have are stylized and don't necessarily represent particular animals.  We decided on the leopard fabric. I think it is the one on the extreme right. That one isn't so important, because it will still look like a cat, so whatever animal you think it is, it is that.  The issue was more for the giraffe.  I don't have giraffe fabric, but I have decided to use one of these for it anyway - the one in the middle with the big circles. I think it is a better option than using a solid. After all that, it turns out that we will have an animal that is impersonating another animal in the quilt.

My sister also said the one on the very left would work well as a snake.  Maybe a snake will sneak into the sashing!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Another turtle and another bird

I made a lot of progress on my Life of Plenty quilt yesterday. Instead of only one finished block, you get to see three!   Jeni from the Willow has posted the last block of this quilt, and will be working on finishing instructions and borders next, so if you want this pattern, you had better go over to her blog and get it while it is still free!

I did another substitution, and instead of a little pumpkin, I added a turtle. It uses the same green fabric that was used on the Elephant Parade quilt.  There is a bigger pumpkin on the quilt, and as I said in my last post, I didn't want to make this too much of a fall quilt.

This bird is one of the blocks that are in Jeni's quilt.  I started with the same green floss as the turtle, but it is light for this block, so I switched to a darker green.  It is therefore variegated!

To give my wrists a break, I decided to make a pieced block from the quilt.  I have been randomly making blocks, and choosing fabrics. I noticed that the directions is building the quilt as we go along, so I should be checking the placement of the fabrics I choose, but hopefully if I will be able to swap out the places in the quilt if I have the same fabric too close to each other in the quilt.

There are a couple of in-process blocks I will show you later, but as you can see, this stack of blocks is getting bigger and looking more like a quilt!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Bunny Rabbit

One of the blocks on A Life of Plenty is a small cat.  I didn't want a cat in my quilt. I am allergic to cats, and my allergies are plenty aggravated lately since the basement cleaning. I was debating what to do instead while I worked on another block, a sprig of leaves. Should it be a turtle?  Not a cow, how about an elephant? A playful dog would be nice.

It's been snowing all winter.  And when it isn't snowing, it is cold, which means the snow doesn't melt.  And if you need more variety, sometimes it is even cold AND snowing.  The heater keeps turning back on right after it turns off.  But my mood has not been affected, and I have come to realize that, indeed, I have a life of plenty.  This is probably because I was able to work from home this winter instead of having to drive out there in these weather conditions to go to work.

I took a picture of Zeus in the deep snow one day. He absolutely loves playing in the snow. He begs to walk no matter the weather or temperature, as long as it is not lightening. The photo took a while because I really had to time it right until he was in deep snow.  I shouldn't have bothered since the very next day, it was deep like this pretty much everywhere!

The night before last, I peeked out my window and saw a rabbit in my garden. It was just sitting there on top of the snow, frozen.  I thought that he might be sitting still because it felt my presence. I walked away, but when I came back a few minutes later it was still sitting there. So cute!

Then yesterday morning, I was going through my blog reading and came across Jeni's blog.  She hadn't posted another block for A Life of Plenty, but she had posted a different free design for a blog hop. Yep it was a rabbit, and I decided it was the right substitute for the cat.  I had to shrink it to fit, which made it harder to applique.

It had to be pink, because a lot of people are making pink elephants for the elephant parade.  Also because I do not want my quilt to turn out to be a fall quilt. Plus spring is around the corner. And also because I had a scrap of pink fabric out to make the flying geese for this quilt. I decided to use a buttonhole stitch because I don't know if there is enough contrast between the pink and the background. I am working on trying to improve the quality of my applique, but since I added a new element of buttonhole stitch, it doesn't look like it is a higher quality. I used a children's washable marker to trace the pattern; that's why his leg looks so pronounced. I need to wash it off. The pattern also has some flowers, which I might add if there is space.

Here it is with the other blocks. I haven't shown you the leaves yet because I still need to figure out how to do the stem, and a couple more leaves need to be appliqued down. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Leopard and Frog

Boing Boing CC BY-2.0 via Wikimedia

As you can see a leopard looks pretty much like the tiger I showed you in the last post.  This means I really should have written down the measurements I used to make the tiger. It might have a slightly longer neck, at least it does in the picture!  Look they even have a very similar pose with the legs.

Once I have finalized the tiger, I will be able to get to work on the leopard. I was supposed to show you the finished leopard with this post, but I haven't even started it!  Maybe I should also try to work on a giraffe in the meantime.

But I do have a finish to show you!  I love making these little blocks.  It means I can show finishes on every post!

I made the frog block last night. It was so quick and easy; I had everything pieced together before I realized I was done!  Yes, I still need to applique the eyes.  The leg fabric was used in Lansing Leaves, and I think it works wonderfully as a frog too. The body fabric was used for the turtle. It is a Mirage fabric from Connecting Threads. I got a whole bunch of small pieces of different colors from them when they were having some kind of sale.  I am enjoying working with all the different colors.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


enjosmithCC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr

Here's a tiger picture I want to convert to a tiger block for my Elephant Parade quilt.  I was originally thinking that it should be the same size as the baby elephant block, but as I kept looking at the turtle, I think it will be easier for me to convert the turtle pattern to a tiger.  A turtle and a tiger look alike, right? At least they both start with the letter t!  The turtle block is bigger than the baby elephant block, so this means my additional animals will have to be that size. I don't think that will be a problem though, as long as I make the other extra animals that same size.

I'm back.

Lorna, Lorna, Lorna. You made it look too easy.  I thought I would simply make a square for the head, a rectangle for the body, and some rectangles for the legs, and everything would look great! The fabric would make it obvious what animal was being represented.  But since you had taken the time to show the shape of the animal, I thought I should make some more of an effort too. Although I did draw some sketches, I did not use graph paper, and pretty much winged it as I went along.

Unfortunately, there was a cow who wanted to join the Elephant Parade and was willing to dress in tiger's clothing for that chance.  I had to be quite firm and tell him in no uncertain terms that he was not welcome in the parade, but may have the possibility of joining the primitive quilt if he behaved.

Then it looked like a horse.  Then the head seemed too small for the body. I made the body a little bit skinnier, but went ahead and attached, thinking the legs would help the proportions, but it still looks like it is too small.  It's not bad now, but I'm not sure I am happy with the bottom row of the legs.

So here it is.  I will be appliqueing a tail on the tiger. One leg looks shorter than the others, even though it is farther away, but the white will be hidden in the seam allowance so it might be okay.  What changes would you recommend?

Here's what it looks like in the elephant parade.  How can I make this look more like a tiger?

Linking up with Let's Bee Social 62.