Monday, April 27, 2015

Focus - Round 6

I am finally caught up with my Nesting that is such a good feeling. The next clue will be revealed next Thursday so this can rest till then. The clue for April was to "repeat". My repeat is more flying geese. This time around the little landscape. They are half scale to the ones around the word, so only 1 inch by 1/2 inch. They are indeed tiny and took just as long to make as their larger version. I love the precision of paper piecing but do not really enjoy the process, especially pulling off the paper at the end.
 Here are all the components of the the quilt so far. There are two more rounds so there will not be much more added but I am coming up with a few things. I am not really pleased at how the current layout looks so I am considering some options. This is where I really need to make a makeshift design wall so I can see what this looks like every day for a few days and just play with it.

Here is a close up of the cone flower and the miniature flying geese.

Now that this is caught up I need to focus on some projects for a few challenges. This quilt has really pushed me back into daily working so I am now focused and rearing to go with the first challenge that I designed a few months ago. I just need to take the design and make it into a finished quilt. The design is really a huge step in the process so now to just do the work.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Focus - Round 5

 Round 5 for the Nesting Robin says "If it has a name, it's fair game". My named blocks are pinwheels. I made 6 of them in a 4 inch size. I have not sewn them together because I want to keep my options open for placement. I also added the cone flower to the landscape.

 The making of the cone flower started with auditioning of fabrics. I wanted to to stand out from the rest of the block so I used more red/purple to contrast to the blue/purple mountains in the background.  Then I assigned each flower part a number and traced these on the mat side of freezer paper. I pressed these to the right side of the fabric and used a white clover pencil to mark around the outside of the freezer paper and then cut out each part.

I also made a freezer paper template of the complete flower to use for placement. I pressed this to the fabric where I wanted the flower and marked around the outside with the white clover pencil. You can see all the flower parts ready to go.
I pulled all the freezer paper off and carefully pinned each part where it needed to go. I then began with the petals and used the same technique I did with the bird which was to pin the adjoining part out of the way so I could applique around the shape.

When I got to the top of the flower I decided that since there were so many seams underneath that I would stuff it so it would look nice after the piece is quilted. I appliqued the around both sides and the top and then stuffed some poly fibers inside and appliqued the bottom. I am really happy with how that turned out. I did not take a close up of the finished flower but will once I do a final photoshoot of the finished quilt.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Focus - Round 4

 The fourth round for the Nesting Robin says to add something with here are some mountains and hills. This is a miniature landscape that will finish around 5 x 15 inches. There will be a flower appliqued to the bottom left corner. The flower can be seen in the sketch at the bottom of this post.

 I am now thinking about putting the two new elements on top of the main part but still not sure.

Making this little landscape was quick and fun. The curves are not so tight that they have to be appliqued on, but can be machine pieced using a technique by Ruth McDowell I learned years ago. I love to use this technique because it is faster to sew on the machine and is really accurate. I made the sketch to scale and then numbered the parts. Next I drew the mirror image on the dull side of freezer paper. I cut apart the freezer paper into the pieces and pressed them with a hot iron to the back side of the fabric. I cut them out with a 1/4 seam allowance (this is just eyeballed). Then I marked around the outside of each template and included the little registration marks. Next was figuring out what order to sew them together. I added template 3 and 5 to 7. Then added 2 to 4. Then I attached the 2/4 unit to the top unit. Next I added 1 and last 6. You can see the little flower in the sketch.............that will be done by needle turn applique at a later time.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The "A" Word

 I am very inspired by this little Focus quilt and having fun playing with techniques. I think the real thing is that I just love the color palate and the spontaneity of each addition. The third clue of the Nesting Robin  says to add flora and/or fauna I just had to do a bird. I love all birds so this was the first thing that came to mind.

 I have chosen to deviate from the "border" with each going all the way around the center and think I will be making components which I will set together in the end. The progression will follow the clues for the Nesting Robin though.................hey its my quilt so I get to make the rules.

I am a huge fan of needle turn applique. I learned to quilt (all by hand) in 1984 or thereabouts. Back then the use of a sewing machine was frowned on. I took a little quilting class from a lady who was teaching the ladies in her church to quilt. I met her in a fabric store (there were no quilting stores at the time). I wanted to see the quilting fabric and the sales lady showed me the one display of a few dozen nice calico prints and introduced me to the lady also looking. Well she invited me to take her class. In that class I learned how to make templates out of cardboard, mark seam lines with a pencil, cut things out with scissors and sew it all together by had. We did a grandmother fan which was the introduction to applique. Then I did a beehive block and did some needle turn leaf shapes...............Never in all the years since then have I ever found an applique method that I like better and I have tried many. I have no idea where that kind lady is but I owe her a lot of gratitude for being my first introduction to the quilting world. I don't even remember her name.

The bird block will likely go here but for now I am just going to leave it like it is and the background fabric is larger and just folded over in the photo till I make a final decision on it. I already know what the next round will be.................that is for another day. For those of you that want to see how I did the bird keep reading:

 Here is the little drawing I made. I found a similar bird on Pinterest and he reminds me of the black, grey and white Chickadees that hang out around my house in the pinion pines. I decided to take artistic license and change the colors. The beak and feet are the blue sheet from the center. The rest from scraps. I cut out the parts of the bird and used a white clover pencil to mark the turning line. Then I appliqued the wing  to the body, The purple head to the body and then the teal stripe on the head. That is what you see in the above photo, I now have three loose pieces, body, beak and feet.......more on the feet later. Now I can play with background fabrics. This fabric was the winner. I auditioned about a dozen other fabrics.

 This fabric was second place and if not for the colors in the rest of the quilt it would have been perfect. It is brighter than the photo and the teal is perfect with the bird body.

 So now to work. I began under the tail and began to needle turn the tail, top of the wing, around the head using matching thread. I used three thread colors to applique the bird. You can see that the beak and the feet have been placed exactly where they need to go. So around the top of the head and towards the beak.

 At this point I pinned the head back and appliqued the beak.

 Once the beak is finished then I resumed applique around the rest of the head and down the front of the body till I got close to the feet.
 Again turn the fabric back from the feet. As you can see the feet are not trimmed up. They took almost as long to applique as the entire rest of the bird. I trimmed them as I went, pretty close to the edge and clipped. I used pretty tiny stitches as there are lots of tight turns.

Voila! There he is finished. You can see how little and detailed those feet are by using the penny as a scale. I think Lincoln is impressed there! Not sure what happened to the lighting in that photo but the green is washed out. Now you can go back to the top and see the bird all finished.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Focus - Round 2

I have been sucked into the Focus quilt project and spent all morning working on the second round. I made my paper templates last night so that was even more time spent. I love Flying geese so that is what needed to go next as Round 2 needs to be triangles. I used more greens and introduced blues. Then I decided that there needed to be some rebels so I put a couple of bright purples and one subtle purple in the mix. I found a very subtle plaid that had a navy background and subtle greenish blue for the background of the geeseless (that is now a word). The background of the geese is the same blue I used in the center around the word. I am really enjoying this piece so now need to figure out Round 3.

I laid out the geese where I liked them and organized them in piles for each of the templates. Two templates have five geese and the other two have seven. I cut the blues over sized but not over sized enough. I need to remember that it is better to waste a little fabric than to have to spend time with Jack The Ripper because the fabric does not cover the area it needs to. I have to say that for me paper piecing geese is the most accurate method, especially when they are 2 inches wide as these are. Perfect geese! That makes it worth the effort.
I spent some time figuring out how to do the layout with the geese.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


 I have been seeing lots of quilts with words on them. I have also been seeing some blogs where people choose a word for the year. I know it is April but I decided that I needed a word for 2015 as I am really working on organization this year and focus seems to be a great word as I am so easily distracted. The goal is to hang this as a small wall hanging for my reminder to remain focused on the goals at hand and stick to my to do lists..............making this quilt was a real distraction from other things I had planned to do so I know that I really need to work on focus. I am also hostessing a Nesting Robin on a quilting forum and have not added even the first round which was put out last November..............the compass block that I was going to use was just not the right center and will be saved for another project. The goal for the Nesting Robin is to use an orphan block and to use only stash fabrics if possible. Ok this is not an orphan block but I made it from the backing of the Merlot quilt from the previous post.........yep that navy blue is leftovers form the sheet I used for a backing. The remainder of the fabrics used so far are from the scraps from the Scrappy Trips Around the World I am working on. My goal for this little word project is not just to use stash fabric, but to use fabric from the scrap bin as much as possible.

 I trimmed the center to an even 8 1/2 by 20 1/2 so that it will be easy math to add new borders and make them work. The finished center is 8x20 easily divided by 2 and 4.

Here is border number 1. The clue for this one was to use squares and rectangles. This border will finish at 1 inch wide. Now to figure out border number 2. but that is for another day............I am off to put the 5th row of the scrappy trips quilt together and add it to the 4 completed rows. There will be 8 rows total so I am past the halfway point when this 5th one goes on.

Monday, April 20, 2015


 I finished my latest improv quilt. In the end I am surprised at how well it turned out considering the design challenges along the way. There was a point where I really had my doubts about where it was going. I like the movement the curves create so I decided to really bring those out in the final shape by making the bottom corners into definite curves. I did  very simple grid in inconsistent curvy lines. In an afterthought I would have loved to have a varagated thread with blacks, greys and red but alas I did not have any such thread. I did audition one thread but it had greys and blacks with green and purple undertones and hence it did not play nicely.

 Closer view of the corner with the grid quilting.

 Now who would believe that not all of the fabrics in this are new, the two reds and the grey plaid are upcycled mens shirts, the backing is a bed sheet (100% cotton and not a tight weave). I am really enjoying using upcycled materials for my quilts.

I love to add a surprise on the backs of my quilts so I used leftover pieces and scraps and pieced a fun strip across the back. I really did need to do something as the blue I had for the back was about 2 inches short so something had to be done to add to it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

You Can't Get There From Here

 I have been working on this Improv quilt for two days now. It took a left turn and a quick right and it was all I could do to keep up with it. Here is the top ready to be quilted. So how the heck did I get here. Well down a few tight curves, around the bend over the river and.............well you get the idea.

 It all began with this stack of fabrics cut into 15 inch squares. I knew exactly where I was heading with this.

 Here I am with my improv circles.................I just did not love them.............ok I did not like them. The color palate just did not work any more and the circles were to square. Alrighty then what to do.

 How would the blocks look if you only saw half of each one. Humm..........better.............but that golden tan just was not playing well with the rest of the group so with the help of the rotary cutter, and the seam ripper all of the fabric was left by the wayside.
 This is where I left off yesterday after inserting more fabrics into the pieces, adding some more curves. I am starting to like it better.
 Today I decided after looking at my final photo from yesterday I would just lay things out fresh and new and here is where I started.

More cutting and adding and splicing and playing and I ended up here. Ok now I think this is something that I could enjoy looking at. Now all that is left to do is sew those long rows together and you can see that by going back to the top of the post. I think the right side will end up being the top of the quilt. I will most likely do some sort of a simple grid quilting on it and then trim it so that whatever is the top will be flat and allow the sides to curve however they want and and bind it in red or back. I hope to load this on the longarm tomorrow and quilt it.

Now had I tried to think of this quilt from the pile of fabrics I never would have been able to get here from there!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Feather Me Please!

 This is Sandy's beautiful Women of The Bible quilt. I really love the traditional  blocks in this quilt and how they are combined in a beautiful setting with the dark brown sashing to really have them stand out. I figured out just the thing for this beauty and that was an allover medium feather meander. I really love feathers so this was a joy to quilt and I really got into the rhythm and didn't want it to end.

An allover feather meander is not really that hard if you like to do feathers. Just think of a giant stipple pattern (you can adjust the size from very small to really large depending on how big you want your feathers). There really is no right or wrong just make a giant curving line that is about the same distance from the other parts of the line or the lines next to it...........with some variation for interest.
 Start on one side of the line and just do feathers all the way across to the other end.
 Come back to the start and feather the other side of the line and this what you end up with! It really looks great on so many different quilts.
 Spring has finally arrived. These are the first crop of wildflowers in my yard. They are really tiny, maybe about 1/2 inch across and very low to the ground. I think they are called bladderpod.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Scrappy Trips Lay Out

This project kind of got neglected in recent weeks. I was working on it full steam ahead and once the blocks were finished and stacked the stack got moved from place to place in the studio. I kept wanting to lay them out but never got around to it. Well I decided that if I could just lay them out I would then be able to work on it again as time allowed.

This project was all about color and purging...........ok how do those two things go together? Well I need a quilt for the bed in the new RV. I really like this pattern because it is more about color than the fabrics used in it and I love green and purple. I also wanted to use up as much fabric as I could that I am not fond of. Now don't get me wrong there are many fabrics in there that I do indeed love. I began by pulling everything out that was purple and green that I was not fond of and started cutting my strips. Then when I ran out of those I added in other fabrics that I am more fond of. In the end I used a ton of fabric which includes lots of stuff I don't have to look at again and wonder what to do with.

Hopefully now that this is in a pleasing layout I will have my flimsey sewn together in a week or two. I could play with it forever and not get it perfect............and that is not what this quilt is about anyway.