Monday, December 11, 2017

Finished and Gifted!

In spite of my initial ambivalence towards this quilt, I was very happy to be gifting it today. Tomorrow is my oldest brother and his wife's 25th anniversary, something that I love being able to celebrate with them. 
Straight & Narrow is a finish!
This was a very fast finish for me, only just started in October of this year! Normally I would just dig through the completed quilt top drawers to find something suitable for gifting, but in this instance, I wanted something a bit more 'formal' or even 'modern' looking in terms of design. Not for the fabrics and color though. Oh no. That was the conundrum. I wanted something that was obviously toned down and perhaps mellow looking {not eye catching at all}, but of course, at the same time,  it simply had to exude that cozy feeling I'm always trying to instill directly into my quilts. Agghhh! Quilting can be so hard.....
Looking across the quilt
I finally narrowed it down to this muted color scheme of tan, creams and country blues and then of course, ended up thinking it looked so plebeian and  boring. I second guessed myself a half dozen times and had all that wonderful angst that ends up making me insist I'll never, never, in a million years make a quilt specifically for someone ever, ever again! Adding the darker fabric with the golds and orangey-red crosses definitely helped perk it all up and bring a level of interest back to the quilt. Totally helped reestablish my equilibrium.*sigh  Why do we do this to ourselves?
Outside in the frosty winter air...
I was mostly following a pattern {Quilt Sampler Fall & Winter 2013 magazine} which makes it even more incredible to see it actually finished. Following patterns is like falling into a coma for me. My entire brain just wants to shut off. But once again, I proved to myself that it's good to trust our instincts. That gut level that prompts up to continue on even while the rest of our being is trying to enact a full on resistance. But, but, but... can't I just add a little bit of excitement? Change things up for more energy and 'first look' impact? hehe   This may not be the most exciting quilt I've ever completed, it did exactly what I was hoping it would do. It looks exactly like what I WANTED, NEEDED and EXPECTED. And that's important to be able to execute and see come to fruition.
And in terrible lighting in the stairwell!
I had some struggles with the machine quilting, having to deal with some drag on the fabrics at the connecting seams. Finally I realized that if I just stitched in-the-ditch down the length of the darker strip of fabric first, then that would take care of the bulk of my problems there. And of course I came back and hand quilted in that darker area with the applique, both inside the crosses and also along the lighter blue stripes. That is most definitely my favorite part of the entire quilt, seeing that lovely texture come into play.
A closer look at the hand quilting....
Overall, I was impressed and amazed to see the quilt start coming together in such a good way that I was feeling happy about the end result. Truly, it was a good challenge. Didn't hurt me at all! On another note, the binding fabric ended up being an easy pick. I just went with a burnt orange 'feather' fabric that added a nice bit of color to the edges of the quilt. My brother has an eclectic interest in chickens and ducks {manifested into a barnyard full} and so including the feather prints just added an important bit of personality. He'll notice the feathers even if nobody else does! And yay! for me, getting some of those oldy fabric used up and out of the stash bins. That's always a win to see them used up and hopefully well appreciated.



Friday, December 8, 2017

Looking For Border Solutions

So here we are with the Peachy Cameo Medallion quilt started sometime in 2016. All the applique work is done on the outside borders and now I'm contemplating the corner areas of that same border. If you think about how much time is invested in this border work alone {min. of 5-6 hrs. just to sew those cute, little blue circles}, then this decision becomes much more important.
Border  #1
I like to call it the 'make-it' or 'break-it' moment just to be properly dramatic! You know how it is at the end of the quilt top making process, every last little decision seems like it could be that beautifully done, icing on the cake, or perhaps end up being those funky, colored coconut flakes that help to cover up whatever got messed up underneath.
Border #2
There are a lot of options of course {and some so awful they didn't even get a courtesy photograph}. One thing for sure--absolutely no more of that gold!
Border #3
And I'm still trying to decide for sure what the corner shape might be. Obviously I'm leaning towards stitching something and not leaving it without, although that's seriously tempting in a get-it-done sort of way. Nonetheless, it seems a little 'blank slate' without some color in that corner. Perhaps a tear drop shape with the wider end on the inside corner? That would be simple enough not to detract from the rest of that happy looking border.  I've been cruising my Pinterest boards for any and all ideas, but naturally, the most perfect idea of all times hasn't presented itself quite yet. Funny how some quilts are so adamant about what to do moving forward and others just want something, anything done. Whatever. Just do it!
Border #4
Once I make a determination, then it won't take very long at all to complete these corner pieces. They aren't very large! As a true-blue, hand applique enthusiast, it really is a joy to make these final stitches and see it all sort of settle firmly into place. Like it was always meant to be and why did I ever presume anything different would work? hehe  Well, that's the desired outcome. As always, my favorite words are We'll see.....
Our new family picture
I also threw in a picture for proof that we did finally get the large family pic on the wall. It's going to be our 'forever' family picture for better or worse. Everybody is extremely happy with the picture as a whole, but most of us have extreme reservations about our personal place in it. Why did we wear that? Could we have possibly taken three extra minutes with our hair? Ugghhh.. I look so old {or so young!} and on and on and on. We are our own worst enemies. In reality, we'll look back on this picture in a couple years and think we look marvelous compared to what we'll look like then. Probably. That's the way it generally works, right? And yes, the picture is on canvas so doesn't technically require a frame. That being said, we might have to put a frame on it or maybe re-paint the wall a different color. Nothing happens quickly around here though.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

HST Medallion Progress and a Christmas Table Runner in the Works

I can't seem to get a straight photo of this quilt project, so here goes. This is the current state of my interpretation of an old HST Medallion quilt that caught my fancy. I always dread getting started on the next round of borders, but while working, generally find a renewal of determination to keep going.
Round #3 finished on the HST Medallion!
There's a lot of work involved as I'm not the most accurate of piecers. There are a couple things that are making things a bit easier for me though. Number one, it helps to cut out the units during the day time as my lighting is horrible in the quilting room at night and even the slightest of not-quite-right cuts snowball on me. Yeah, kind of a no-brainer, but you know me! I just tend to plow ahead and try to make things right after the fact! Also, I've spent a little time playing around with the needle position on my sewing machine. There is no single position that gets all the hsts to end up being perfect {again, I'm not perfectly precise with my sewing}, but there is one position that is definitely better than the others. And the last thing that I find to help is this: After I sew all the hsts into a long chain of 'pairs' of hsts, then the next sewing marathon involves flipping the hsts upside down and sewing from the opposite direction. This helps so that those long row of hsts don't have that funky arch from always sewing a little more narrow at the bottom of each seam--something I am terrible about doing when getting in that sewing zone! I'm sure none of you ever have that problem.

With this picture, you can see that I've just finished the third round of borders. Each round consists of a single black fabric border and then alternately, the blue or pink hst border. The last border was 72 hsts all by itself, something that makes me wonder how crazy one has be in order to continue on? The original quilt has 11 rounds of these hst borders and then two larger pieced borders to finish off the quilt. I already know that 11 rounds will make my quilt way too large, so at the moment, 10 rounds is the goal. We'll see about that! As the quilt grows, there will be more and more mixed fabrics in each round as I don't have a lot of large cuts of fabrics and want to shop straight from the stash. It's been especially fun to try and use these black fabrics that always seemed a bit too contemporary to play nice with so many of my other fabric choices.
Always a mistake or two
This is a project that involves keeping the seam ripper very handy and I've had to use it more times than not, even taking off one whole row of hsts to turn it the proper direction. Eventually I plan to deliberately let a row or two of hsts present in the wrong direction, but not just yet. Out of curiosity, I measured the entire quilt for accuracy and discovered that I'm 1/8th of an inch off on two sides. Waahh. For me, that's like, dead on accuracy! I'm telling you, making this quilt is the funniest mix of frustration and exhilaration that I've felt in quite a while....
Fabric pull for a baby quilt
Isn't it interesting how one project can so directly influence another? I quickly pulled some fabrics the other day for a potential baby quilt and hello? Aren't those the same colors I'm working on with the HST Medallion quilt?

But the little table runner below is totally different from everything I'm working on these days. Very Christmassy in all the fabric choices and hopefully the perfect size for a little end table in the living room.
Christmas table runner
My girls were lamenting the fact that all the little table runners had fall colors and what do you know. The very next day found me pulling old, languishing Christmas fabrics and thinking up a quick and easy design. Hopefully the little improv. strip blocks in the runner will look better with some Perle Cotton stitching. Right now the whole things looks a bit sad!

Linking up with Linda and Julie at Sew, Stich, Snap, SHARE!

Friday, December 1, 2017

In the Hoop

I don't have much to show for November progress on 17ufosin2017. The eagle quilt is the only one to gain any forward motion at all, and that's only because I need my hoop time like I need to breathe. It's not by chance that this is the only quilt in the hoop at the moment. Way past time for this one to see a completion!
Eagle quilt getting some stitching time
Assuming life would cooperate and one full hoop could be stitched each day, this quilt would be finished in just over two weeks. But we are talking about December. I'd be absolutely delighted to see a finish by the end of the month! And we really never know anyway. Border work sometimes causes its own kind of momentum. Seeing the light at the end up the tunnel sometimes makes us pick up speed or ahem! knuckle down and put in that extra little bit of time. Which always adds up. I had a really, really hard time wanting to stitch in the center of this particular quilt. In comparison? The border just seems easy, peasy.....

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hey Grandma! A Finished Quilt Top

It's AHIQ time again and I was determined to work on the border for Hey Grandma! Ultimately I settled on the endless mountains style of free form blocks by Sujata Shah. I wanted a wedge look border {but not especially spiky looking} and her methods always seem very  'doable' to me.
Hey Grandma! a completed quilt top!
The other thing that was important in the making of this quilt was that I didn't intend to buy any new fabrics whatsoever. Everything had to come straight out of the stash totes. Just a little extra challenge for me in making this oldish looking quilt! And so the light blue fabric with the medallion looking flowers ended up being the background fabric of choice. And wowsers, was it busy.
Free cutting the rectangles and then sewing the wedges
So much so that I had to wince when auditioning the completed border sections. It looked spotty and drab and actually, very disappointing. Nothing like the original mock-up seemed to indicate!
Auditioning the border lengths
After sighing a lot and feeling very put upon for having to make adjustments to my brilliant plan, I finally came up with the idea to try a very thin, hot pink sashing. Trying to break up the flow of many, many pink spots and maybe refocus the eye a bit?
Hmm... Maybe needs a narrow sashing strip?
Which I think worked very well. It might not be the perfect plan, but it solved my most pressing problem. With just that little tweak, everything started gelling again. If I had my choice, many of those green wedges would be the darker colors as that's what seems to work the best. However, since I was working directly out of my stash--this is all there is folks! Yep! I have run out of these sour, citrus colored green fabrics in a hurry. Probably making my youngest son very happy as he thinks they are a bit of an ugly green!
And finally a completed top!
Sorry about not showing the entire quilt top laying flat on the floor, but the table still has the leaf in it since Thanksgiving weekend. It's been insane around here lately, all the company and comings and goings. I am currently drowning in laundry and desperately need a grocery shopping trip as well. We had such good times though, thoroughly enjoying all the company, wonderful food and excellent visits. It was absolutely wonderful too that most of the big crowd moments were at my mom and dads. Is that terrible of me to actually admit to feeling that way? Our house was a madhouse as it was. If all the extended family had been in and out of our smaller home, I would have rented a motel room!
Not exactly what I was expecting, but I like it anyway....
My hands were literally itching to get in some hand work by late last week, but it never seemed to be a good time to bring out the quilting. So I resisted and just settled in to enjoy the time with family.

No holiday is complete without some drama and unfortunately for us, we had a boatload of it on Thanksgiving morning. About 4:30 in the morning, my sister woke my husband and I up to tell of smoke gathering upstairs. It was a very scary twenty minutes or so, trying to figure out where the smoke was coming from and if we needed to call the fire department. After the household was gathered outside, my husband and brother-in-law turned off the electric and systematically checked for where the burning electrical smell was originating. Thankfully they eventually narrowed it down to the furnace underneath the house and after a phone call asking our oldest son to please come help {he's a heat and air tech}, it was determined that the fan motor had frozen and was smoldering. Poor guy, having to get an emergency call out on his day off! Such a huge relief to find the origination and also, to have the least amount of damage done while finding it. The fire department would have quickly solved the problem, but the damage would have no doubt been extreme!

So between the three men, the problem was quickly addressed and by 6:00 the women were back in bed {or to the couch and recliners if they had been upstairs} and the men went off to the restaurant for breakfast. After a day of fans blowing air out the open windows and upstairs doorway, most of the smoke smell had dissipated and things returned to normal. Whew! So much adrenaline. I can't hardly take it anymore! All of the adults were emotionally drained, but nevertheless, we were all especially thankful the rest of the weekend. I'm quite sure things could have been a whole lot worse!

Back to the quilting--I'm linking up with Kaja and Ann for AHIQ #27. So glad I still have everything needed to quilt! This was a fun exercise in that the improv. was very planned, there wasn't a great deal of waste and Sujata's directions made for very easy block joining. My after-holiday, is-the-house-going-to-burn-down, fuzzy brain syndrome needed something exactly like this. Hopefully next time will be the improv. string baskets done in a postage stamp style block. I'm definitely ready for more improv.!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Love Me Do

Don't hate me, but I just finished another quilt. Yep, a true, blue finish with binding and everything. All it needs is a label and I'm gifting this baby sometime over the holiday weekend. It's been at my longarm friend's since early this spring and I was just sorta inquiring about an ETA a couple weeks ago.
Love Me Do
 Agghh!! She totally panicked--lots going on, no time for quilting etc.--so I backed off immediately and told her 'no pressure'. And then figured I wouldn't get it until sometime next year. Imagine my shock when she called up last week and said, 'Hey, do you want this now so you can start working on the binding?' Yes!!

I started this quilt back in 2015, wanting to play with some bright fabrics and also, wondering if I had what it takes to make a lone star. Turns out the diamond piecing is a little more than I want to work with, but overall, it's been a very fun project. So challenging as it's out of my normal comfort zone and that makes for lots of twists and turns of course. But that's the way I most love to work.
Adding another finish to the 2017 list!
I handed this quilt top off to my friend for longarm quilting thinking it would be easier than doing hand quilting. It's just so busy, I figured the hand quilting wouldn't really show up well enough to make it worth the effort. About that. I'm starting to realize that my friend and I have a bit of a communication issue when it comes to what we each like and expect out of machine quilting!

I tend to want very loose, open style quilting and she loves very tight, compressed looking stitching. As you can see from the picture below, she did a little of both and so of course, the star poofs quite a bit in comparison to the tighter stitching. It's so funny because we always talk about what I want and then I turn to her and say, 'well, whatever you think will work best'. Maybe not the best way to handle things because I do want what I want and am sometimes surprised by the end result. Overall though, I trust her with my quilts and know she will do the best job she can. That means a lot.
Can you see the difference in quilting?
And as always, I took advantage of the opportunity to include some hand quilting. It was practically begging for more stitching in the very center blue/green area of the lone star and also the letters--they looked too simple without. So it was a great way to add more 'personal touches' to the quilt and make it a little more mine again. Honestly, I'm one that prefers to say the entire quilt was pieced and quilted by me! And it's tempting to go back and add more stitching through every diamond area as well, but I'm telling myself to just quit with the perfectionist tendencies. This really is a fun looking quilt, it should survive some 'unequal' quilting areas!
Love Me Do in the stairway
Overall, I'm fairly happy with this quilt and loving the happy, cheerful vibe. I'll be gifting it to one of my nephews and his lovely new wife over the coming weekend. This will be the second 'marriage quilt' in what will now probably turn out to be a years long project. Big families are funny about things like that.
Such a sweet quilt
Oh, almost forgot to mention. This lovely finish had a bit of red bleeding when I washed it up. Thankfully it wasn't horrible and another wash with some extra color catchers and some Biz took away the worst of it. I always prewash my fabrics so it annoys me to see the colors bleed. Guess I have to do a 12 hour soak with all my red fabrics to make 100% sure it never happens though and that's just not going to happen. Thankfully, this one wasn't ruined and the little bit of pale pink left in the quilt doesn't even show to those who don't know! Best get going--lots to do for the Thanksgiving holiday. The family think the food is the most important part....

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Random Sampler Is a Finish!

Things always slow down in the fall, that's what I've been telling myself for months. So here we are and it still feels like we are careening from one week right into the next. I ended up in Portland this past weekend and snuck in a little visit to my youngest sister. Did I do any hand work that was prepped and sitting in my bag?
Random Sampler
Um, no. I was too busy trying to keep from shivering half to death. It's usually 10 degrees warmer in Western Oregon than what we deal with here in Eastern Washington, but that cold damp air! Brr...

Can you believe how far we are into November? I keep walking around in a fog just blown away by how close we are to Thanksgiving already! This quilt was one I was absolutely determined to get finished up this year and it's always had an expected Thanksgiving deadline--at least in my mind. Yikes! So, knowing this quilt was so crazy close to a finish, I knuckled down and finally got the binding figured out and all sewn on. Love the leftover binding tote for quilts like this--didn't have to dig into the stash at all and the work is half done already!
So good to have this one finished!
This is definitely one of my oldest unfinished quilt tops. Started sometime in 2012 from one of the first online QAL's I ever joined up with and one that almost got sidelined completely. It got bogged down sometime after most of the original blocks were finished {how to put the puzzle together and have it look good???} and then it was quite awhile before the quilt top itself was finally sewn together. The large applique basket block was an orphan block that just begged to be incorporated into the quilt and I've never regretted that. It helps give the quilt personality! Also, it's good to remember that all through the making of this particular project, I constantly referred to Gwen Marston's 'Liberated Medallion Quilts' book. It's a lovely, wonderful book to have on the shelf if you like to do your own thing.
A little bit of hand quilting on the applique basket...
I still love the calm, cozy colors in this quilt. Somehow that creamy white just helped make the quilt glow instead of  getting overwhelmed by the dark undertones in most fall fabrics. It's a trap I fall into a lot of times, loving these colors but not quite get the balance right. And I adore the use of plaids, something you'll see me gravitate to over and over again. Overall, it just feels like an inviting quilt and that feels like a win.
Love seeing then hanging off the railing....
Because it was such a busy, busy quilt, I ended up machine quilting it in simple vertical lines and then went back and hand quilted the larger basket block with perle cotton. There was one big pucker in the back of the quilt that I tried to think would be okay to ignore. I even took the colored thread off the cone and replaced it with my usual white thread. But no. It was just too bad to wink at. Couldn't leave it be! Ugghh.. Hate having to rewind the other thread and change out the bobbin again and just for a few inches of thread. The funny thing was, somehow I ended up folding another part of the quilt into the 'fix' and then had a horrible mess on my hands. No I did not take a picture because I was just too furious! lol  In the end, I had two fixes {well, actually three after fixing the place where it was caught} and it took lots of extra time that I was sure would have been better spent elsewhere.

But now I can be happy with it and thankfully it washed up beautifully. I'm always bracing myself for red dye issues these days! So glad I went ahead and pushed myself to get this one done by this fall. It's too nice to be sitting folded up in a drawer for years. And yes, I have bounced around a lot this year, from project to project and all different looks and styles. It's all about having different projects in different stages so as to always have something to work on--no matter the crazy things going on in my life. And getting things finished up. Doesn't it feel wonderful to wrap up a years-in-the-making sort of project?

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