Friday, February 25, 2011

Mardi Gras Quilt

After finishing up my jar quilt last week, I spent the week-end doing something I've put off for a while... sorting all my fabric scraps.  I have enough now to make more than a few quilts if I wanted to.  I dumped them all out into a big pile, then started sorting them by color into some smaller shoe-box sized clear plastic bins.  I had put off the task, but once I got started it was quite satisfying.

Once that was done, I started planning out my next quilt.  I grew up mostly in Louisiana, and this time of year means one thing..... Mardi Gras!!  The 3 colors that represent Mardi Gras are purple, yellow, and green.  Some say that the colors represent justice (purple), peace or faith (green), and power (yellow, or gold).  Louisiana State University took the purple and yellow as their school colors, while my Alma mater, Tulane University (which used to be the University of Louisiana) adopted the green, (as well as light blue).  I had plenty of scraps of each color, and added white and black to make up a traditional "king's crown" block.  I used a pattern out of the book, "More Quilts From The Quiltmaker's Gift".  I'm so delighted at the result.  I hope to get borders on it and get it quilted up this week-end.  Then I hope to get another quilt finished before starting something else...

Unfortunately, our ISP has been causing us much trouble lately, and half the time I can't even check email.  It's made blogging and many other things increasingly frustrating.  They said they'd have it fixed by today, but this has been going on for weeks now, so I'm not counting on much.  They are the only high speed Internet in the area, so if we have to switch, I may be on here much less :-(.  I'll keep you posted...

Hope you have a great week-end!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Jar Quilt" all done! and broken (darning) foot

This was probably the quilt that got me all started on free-motion quilting.  I started it about 4 years ago, shortly after we moved across the country, and I became a stay-at-home mom.  I had used a walking foot to quilt more than a few quilts, but had also discovered long arm quilters, and had been using them to finish up my quilts.  Once we lost my paycheck, I had to become much more frugal about many things, including my sewing and quilting. Because of all the "empty space" around the jars on this quilt, I couldn't really figure out a way to completely finish it with straight lines.  I did all that I could, then tucked it away, safety pins and all for a long time.

I started teaching myself how to free-motion quilt, along with tips and pointers from some on-line friends, and a local quilt store owner, and did a few smaller quilts, but then we moved again.  Our new house is much smaller, and I still have no idea where this will go, so I wasn't in any hurry to finish it.  It was originally going to hang in our old kitchen, but now I guess it'll be a lap quilt.  Maybe I'll sell it or give it to my mom.  I haven't figured out yet...  But it's DONE!!!

The back has a funny story.  I had mentioned to my mom that I was working on this quilt, but was having a hard time finding other fruit and vegetable fabrics for the jars.  Shortly after mentioning that, I got a package in the mail with an assortment of fun fruit and vegetable fabrics!  By then I had already found the rest of the fabrics I used on the front and had made up all of the blocks.  So I used the fabrics she sent me on the back!
Also, thanks to Leah Day, I finally got around to breaking my (darning) foot!  I've been following her "Free Motion Project Blog" for over a year now and am a big fan of hers.  She suggests doing this on her blog, using the exact darning foot that I have.  I finally mustered up the nerve to try it, and LOVE the results!  I also used a few of her designs to quilt this.  It's kind of a hybrid between her "etch-n-sketch", and"curvy key".
I also entered a picture of one of my quilts in The Quilting Gallery Blog's weekly contest.  This week's theme is for 2 colored quilts, and I just happened to have made one for a niece for Christmas.  Winner is determined by public voting just over the week-end, so feel free to head over there and vote!  There are some pretty amazing quilts on display.  Mine is "School of Fish", blue and yellow.  Thanks!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Orleans Quilt finished!!

I just wanted to show you my FINISHED New Orleans quilt!  I blogged about the inspiration here.  It's a pretty special quilt for me!  I wanted to get it finished in time to put it in our local town's quilt show that takes place this spring.  I also made a New Year's resolution to finish 2 quilts for every 1 I start!  I have another one on my machine right now!

Despite more internet problems that have kept me from posting (3 tech visits in the last week), I've also been busy restoring order to the house after about 3 weeks of "winter ickiness".  I'm hoping to get back into the full swing of things soon, and am considering changing our ISP....  (sigh).

But here's some more fun pictures of my quilt!  Here's the back.  After some deliberation, I decided to keep the quilting very simple and geometrical.  I also decided to keep the batting very thin, and the back white so that I can do....

THIS!  Isn't it pretty!

Here's the back. 

And finally here's the next "UFO" that's on my machine!  I started this about 4 years ago (I've actually had safety pins in it for that long), but lacked the free motion quilting skills to really finish it.  Now that I'm feeling better about my new skills, I'm going to "Get 'er done!".  Hopefully I'll have something else to share soon!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

More vintage sheets and Kona fabric swap arrived!!

Look what came in the mail today!!  I had both the Kona swap fabric from Gen X and Y Quilters blog, and the other vintage sheet that I ordered to make a repurposed quilt from!
When I read that AnneMarie had tons of red fabric, I got a bit excited, because I only have one big piece of red in my entire stash!  I'm just not a "red person".  I love red in other people's quilts, but as far as the color goes, I'm afraid it's probably my least favorite!  BUT, I have been wanting to make a red quilt, and I also have had an idea stewing in my brain for a few weeks now.  Knowing that the red was coming, I decided to wait to start on it.  The piece of yellow that I got will also be included!  Can you guess what it will be?!!
And yes, it's Valentine's Day!  It'll be our last "little kid" Valentine's Day, as next year we'll have 2 middle-schoolers, so it's kind-of a strange feeling.  But here's their "stash" from the day LOL!  Hope you have a great one!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fun-a-day reception / art show

Last night was the reception for our local fun-a-day project.  There were a few dozen participants in the area, and last night the turn out was great!  I got to meet some of the other artists, and see what everyone else worked on over the month of January!  There are so many creative talented artists around here!  It was pretty crowded, so I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked, plus I had the whole family with me, but here's a few I took last night.  There were many others, including a set of dozens of earnings and jewelry, woodworking pieces, photos, videos, sketches, crochet and various other mixed-media projects.
My friend and quilting teacher also made not 1, but 2 quilts, and 3 quilt tops!  I LOVE this one!  I'm seeing more and more circles these days in quilts!!  So cool!  I wish I had got a close-up of her free motion quilting on it.  It's amazing!
These are all continuous line drawing done "blind".  The artist never lifted the pencil, and did not look at the paper while she was drawing!  My mind is already trying to figure out how to do something like this on my next quilt!  So neat!
These were images printed on multiple layers of clear acetate, then all stacked up.  It's not the best picture, but one of those squares can have many layers, adding depth and dimension.  I never knew you could do something like that!!
Someone else made a handmade card each day.  Each one has an inspirational / spiritual message inside!  I had time to read a few, but not all. 
In this last picture, someone had created several hand made, hand bound little books!  This was hands down, my kids favorite!  They also liked one that had many various items, including origami, and some tiny little folded paper structures that said "please take one".  What a great idea!!

Kids really like to touch things, and this town, and the art center are very kid-friendly.  I made a mental note to keep that in mind next time I make an "art quilt".  The ones I've made so far I really don't plan to wash, but in the future I think I'll try to keep them all washable so that kids can touch them, because they really like that so much!!  My quilt is against the far wall in the top picture.  I got a lot of nice comments about it!  You can also see a few other fun-a-day projects along the wall to the right.  I feel lucky to live in a town with such a neat center for the arts.  They really do add so much to the community, and I'm thankful!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Vintage Sheets

I think it was this post, by Amy Smart, of "Diary of a Quilter" blog,  about vintage sheets that really got me going...  Seeing those colors and patterns triggered a primal memory flashback from my childhood, spent sleeping every night on those similar patterns and colors.  Colors and patterns are indeed powerful mind seducers.  Sports teams know this (yellow and green cheeseheads, gold and black fleur-de-lis), and indeed one of the most powerful symbols of a country or people is a flag (more colors and patterns). No wonder these captivated me!

Once I saw an announcement that our local art center was looking for people to sell "upcycled", or "repurposed", hand made, local art at this summer's farmers' market, I sprang into action!  I knew right away that I wanted to make a quilt (or something) with these vintage sheets!  I'm all about recycling and doing good things for the environment, so it really taps into that part of me as well.

I found the striped sheets at our local Salvation Army thrift store, for just a few bucks a piece, and then searched on Etsy until I found the purple and green flowers to go with them.  I just realized that Amy has the same ones.  They just arrived in the mail this week, and I have another sheet on the way.  Even though quilting is all about using scraps and bits of clothing and such, I've never really used a poly / cotton blend, so I'm eager to try it out.  I've also never used stripes in a quilt.  I have some ideas, but mainly, I am trying to decide if I should buy some more solid colored sheets to use with what I have, keeping the fabric content similar, or if I can use traditional 100% cotton with it.  Have any of you made a quilt out of vintage sheets?  Stripes?  I'd LOVE to hear about them, or any ideas.

Speaking of which, I really want to thank everyone who has left comments!  I really do love them, and try to respond to them, but life sometimes gets in the way, and I just don't have time, but I do read and cherish them all!

And I know some of you are still under feet of snow, but here's a picture I took this morning!!  Spring is indeed on its way!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Quilt Block and WIP

I decided at the last minute to make up a modern quilt block for Quilt Story's Block Party contest.  Click on their icon to see all of the other entries!
Fresh Poppy Design

I made this block based on my "New Orleans" quilt.

This quilt is also my WIP for Freshly Pieced blog's "WIP Wednesday" today.  That button is on the right.  I can't wait to see what others are working on!  I'm going to link up to both place (can I do that?).  I started quilting it today, and am going to be doing a lot of walking foot lines.  I still haven't entirely decided if or how to free motion quilt it.  Hopefully I'll have something to show here in the next few days!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Glow-in-the-dark thread

I've been wanting to try out glow in the dark thread for a while now.  It isn't in any of our local shops though, so I had to first find some.  With my budding free motion quilting skills, I thought I'd give it a try.  I used it to embellish a daisy on one of the kindle ebook covers that I'm selling in my Etsy store.  Not only am I making the covers, but I'm quilting each one too, so I have been getting lots of practice!

I also needed to figure out how to get the "glow" on a picture.  This involved actually reading the instructions that came with my digital camera!!  I found out how to prolong the exposure, but my camera only will go up to a 15 second exposure.  That also involved finding a tri-pod, which we have, and luckily I knew where it was (high up on top of a pantry shelf).  I also had to play around with the image on my computer, as it was very faint with only a 15 second exposure.  But this is what I came up with!!  Cool huh?  I never really knew how many things I'd learn when I started blogging!

Here's a picture of the case.  The daisy is the top one on the top flap.  Yeah, I know, when I sewed the Velcro on, my stitches ended up there...

The first thing I noticed about the glow in the dark thread is that it frays incredibly easily.  You literally have to cut the thread right in front of the needle seconds before threading it.  It's 100% polyester, and costs about 4-5 bucks for only 100 yards.  Because of this, I decided to use regular white thread for the bobbin.  It wasn't the best match.  My machine didn't like the combination very well, but it worked!  My kids are now really eager to have me make something for them that glows.  Music to my heart!

So how about you?  Have you ever used it?  What bobbin thread do you use with it?  Any project ideas for 2 tween boys?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Quilt block contest, and kitchen towel

I decided to enter one of my med tech quilt blocks in Quilt Story's "Block" Party today.  It was very hard to pick one, but I finally decided on my "mononucleosis" square.  Maybe it's because we're all sick here... 

Fresh Poppy Design
I have not 1, but 2 kids home sick today, and I was sick much of the week-end, so I didn't get a whole lot of sewing done.  I did however make a quick kitchen towel.  It's nice to make a little "pallet cleanser" project when I finish something big.  It's a way to get a bit of quick satisfaction and change gears before starting another big project!

I also tried out some glow in the dark thread, which I'm really excited about.  I just need to figure out how to get a good picture of it.  But for now, nursing duties are calling....

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Medical Lab Quilt FINISHED!!

It's done!!  I'm so excited!  I finished it up last night, and dropped it off at the art center today.  It will be in our fun-a-day reception on Friday night!  I also agreed to allow it to travel to neighboring communities.  Cool!  I did not agree to put a price on it.  How do you sell your work?  I really could use the money, but this quilt is pretty special to me.  I'm thinking about making some "duplicates" to sell though...

I love seeing pictures of where other people live, so I took a few pictures when I dropped it off.  Here's the art Center.  Behind it is a mostly residential part of town...

The art center sits right next to the Umatilla River, which flows into the Columbia River.

Across the river is the rest of our Main Street.  I happened to get a neat old car driving through town when I took this picture!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Almost done, and yes, I still hate hand sewing!!

Thought I'd post a little progress.  I finally caved and went to the doctor yesterday.  Sinus infection... ick!  I felt so bad the last few days that I haven't even done much sewing.  But I really need to get this done!  So in a cold-medicine-induced cloud, I have been spending most of the day working on it.  I'm wishing now that I'd reversed the process and machine stitched the nice part on the back, then I'd be able to machine sew the binding in place on the front.  It wouldn't look as good, but it'd probably be done by now!

Have you ever got to the end of a quilt and just wanted to hide it away for a while!  Ugh!  I know I'll be glad when it's done though!  Hopefully tonight or tomorrow!  I'm also happy to report that so far no real blood has been shed yet :-).

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

WIP Wed... sew, sew, sew...

Look!  I got another "button" up there!  It's to Freshly Pieced blog's "WIP Wed".  Come join us at her linky party!

I'm afraid I'm sounding like a broken record these days!  You know what those sound like don't you?  I told my boys that the other day, and they looked at me like I was crazy! LOL!  I guess that's an expression that'll someday fade into obscurity!

Here's a picture of my med tech quilt in progress.  I got the rows almost sewn together.  I'm lamenting my choice of this method, but I'll be glad to have it in my bag of tricks.  Maybe it'll help me get over my hand-sewing aversion...  (yeah, right!).  I'm still not feeling great, so I'll be on the couch hand sewing for a while today...

I also thought I'd share a trick a friend of mine, Kathleen, told me about.  She's my fabric shopping buddy, fellow quilter, and a mom of kids the same age as mine, who lives in a town about an hour away.  We actually met on-line, when I was in Michigan, and when she found out we were moving here, we got together and have been great friends ever since!  Her mom would cut apart drinking straws to extend the pegs in her thread storage box.  I was with Kathleen a few weeks ago, buying a box to keep my expanded thread collection out of the horrible dust we get here.  I put away all of my pretty threads, now that the project is ending, and this is what my box now looks like!!!  Sweet!

I hope you all are safe and warm!  We have a lot of family in Chicago, since that's where DH grew up.  We're certainly thinking about all of you in that area and beyond!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ready, set, SEW!

I'm afraid that not only have I been under the weather the last few days, but our internet provider has been having some serious problems as well.  After much trouble shooting and pulling of hair, DH finally called them last night, and they told us of the problems.  Sure would be nice if they sent us an email, 'ya know...  The main problems is uploads, so I shrunk all of my pictures WAY down.  So far, so good!

I spent much of last week making up some Kindle covers to try to sell on Etsy.  Here's one of my favorites.  I also finally figured out how to put buttons on my blog (yippee!).  The Etsy button on my blog is a link to my Etsy shop, and right below it is the "Fabric Tuesday" button that links to Quilt Story's blog that features a "link party" with all sorts of neat fabric items every Tuesday.  I'm hoping to redo my blog once the internet issues are resolved.

I also started sewing together my fun-a-day quilt, and suddenly realized that it's going to involve a LOT of hand sewing.  I'm not too crazy about that.  I'm kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants person, and only skimmed through the quilt as you go methods before I started.  But, I think it really is the best method for this quilt, so I'll be on the couch recovering and hand sewing for the next few days.

Here's the back of the first row after I sewed it all together.

Finally, I just am mesmerized by all of the different forms of ice.  When we lived in Northern Michigan, it was snow, snow, and more snow.  We got tons of it, almost daily.  Here it's very cold, but also very dry.  The arid climate makes things freeze and thaw, freeze and thaw.  The sun plays a much bigger role, unlike in Michigan, where we'd rarely see it for months.  I took this picture of ice crystals on our deck railing this morning.  Amazing!!!