Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Floating - A Final Finish for 2015

I did not get many quilts finished this year.  The ongoing saga that is making a La Passacaglia quilt took up much of my time, with finishes being confined to Modern Herringbone (currently on Miss Main Street's bed) and a couple of baby quilts.  But I have one to add to the list, having finished sewing the binding the day after Christmas.

Floating is finished!  Not the best photo - it has been rainy and overcast for days here in NJ so the lighting was poor, my quilt holders (my mom and Miss Main Street) are short so the top sags, and Dillie insisted on being in the picture.  The design is by Cindy Lammon.  The pattern (called Peppermint Float) was included in last year's calendar from That Patchwork Place and Cindy made the variation and provided the instructions on her blog, Hyacinth Quilt Designs.

I liked the diagonal line quilting Cindy used on her quilt so asked my long arm quilter, Karen Thompson, to do the same.  

The blocks are large and went together quickly early this year, and the top was quilted by early summer.  But by then I was heavily into La Passacaglia and did not get around to binding this quilt until last week.

I used a gray on white doodle print for the backing.  The gray color matches the gray in the polka dot sashing and binding.

Floating is 81" square, so a good size but not quite bed size.  In an earlier post, a reader asked if lining up the narrow sashing was difficult.  It isn't really, you just need to pin well and not rush it.

I plan to make another of Cindy Lammon's designs in 2016.  She designs many quilts with the sort of updated traditional look that I am favoring right now.

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Sewing and Fabric Shops in France

If you follow me on Instagram (cathyquiltingonmainstreet), you will have seen travel photos from my recent trip to Paris and Strasbourg, France.  I had a wonderful time!  I won't cover all the travel details, just leave you with some images.  Instead, I'll focus on some discoveries of special interest to quilters.

I made this collage on PicMonkey.

In Strasbourg, I discovered this delightful little store, La Mercerie du Bain aux Plantes (15 rue du Bain aux Plantes in La Petite France area).  The store carried a great assortment of ribbon, the kind I never find here, and if I could have thought up some projects on the spur of the moment, I would have purchased more.

But I'm ready for some Christmas 2016 projects.  Each little snowman card holds two meters of ribbon and I bought 2 meters of the embroidered ric rac.  I plan to use it all in some sort of wall hanging or pillows.

The fabric shops of Paris are concentrated in a few blocks in the Montmartre section, near Sacre Coeur (church with a white dome).  I didn't buy any fabric but had a fun browse.  There were three stores I particularly liked:

  1. Dreyfus, also known as Marche Saint Pierre - had a huge selection of different kinds of fabric, especially for clothing and interior design use.
  2. La Reine - stocks primarily very high quality fabric for clothing.  They had a huge selection of Liberty lawns at 26 euros per meter, as well as nice wools and silks.  
  3. Frou Frou - a more contemporary store with cotton fabric similar to Liberty prints.  What makes the place special is the huge selection of buttons and trims that match the fabric.  It would be great for little projects like bags but a bit pricey for quilting.  There is a second Frou Frou store in the 6th arrondisement at 31 rue Saint Placide.

I also saw quilting fabrics from the usual American firms like Moda and Hoffman, but at prices that make me appreciate my LQS and online sources so much more.  I'm not sure I could afford to quilt if I lived in France!  But wow, the pastries are sure good!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Finished Baby Quilt

Two months ago, I blogged about the baby quilt I was making, a little disappointed in how it turned out.  Fortunately, I like it a lot better now that it is quilted, bound, and washed!

Child's Play, 28" by 36"

I made this little quilt using leftover solids from a bigger project.  I did the quilting on my domestic machine, quilting diagonal lines with a walking foot.  I really wanted to quilt in the ditch in the diagonal seam lines but hesitated because of the need to keep the line so precise so quilted parallel to the seam lines instead.  The quilting lines, combined with a little bit of shrinkage in washing, give the quilt more texture and softened the edges of the piecing.  

The backing fabric is an alphabet print from Robert Kaufman in flannel; it is soft and cuddly.  And a darker gray solid for the binding. 

Done in time for Christmas!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Re-Appreciating Hand Sewing

Did you notice my new look?  I wanted a cleaner, custom look for my blog so I hired a professional, Rebekah Louise.  She made the re-design process so easy, I wish I had done it sooner.

I made a couple more rosettes for La Passacaglia.  While these two don't look like they go together at all, I am confident they will coordinate better once in with the rest of the mix.  This quilt can be a real mashup though I am confining myself to a specific color palette.

I also cut and pasted a lot of pieces, ready to go with me on some travels in December.  One of the good things about this project is its portability, so different from most of my quilting which is confined by the sewing machine. As I sat there sewing, I got to thinking how similar this project is to my start in quilting.  Well, not the complexity, really just the hand sewing aspect. 

I took my first quilting class in 1982 or '83, an evening adult class in the local school district.  We drafted templates out of cardboard, used them with a pencil to draw both the cutting and sewing lines on the wrong side of the fabric, cut out the pieces with scissors, and sewed with a short running stitch.  I enjoyed it but after making two throw pillows for my living room and a small wall hanging, I retired from quilting because it was too time consuming.  I was working full time, playing in a tennis league, doing volunteer work, and frankly, husband-hunting.  Any sewing time was spent making silk shell blouses to wear with my power suits (it was the dress for success era).

Then sometime in 1991 I happened to be in the vicinity of the quilting supply store (Quilters Barn in Allentown, NJ - long since closed) and went in for a look.  They were advertising a quilt in a day class.  I asked how that could possibly be and was introduced to the new quilt world of rotary cutting and machine stitching.  I signed up and made a log cabin quilt that became my first nephew's baby quilt. And I was hooked!

Except for occasionally hand quilting a smaller quilt, hand sewing fell by the wayside as I embraced the speed of machine sewing.  Long-arm quilting and pre-cut fabric have added new dimensions to speed quilting.  While I love the gratification of finishing a quilt in less than a year, and the time to make all more of the designs I want to try, it has been relaxing and fun to get off the quilt highway and into the slow lane for this project.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Behind The Scenes

It isn't just the hand sewing that turns making a La Passacaglia quilt top into such a time consuming endeavor.  The cutting and glue basting require a lot of attention as well.

This picture shows some fabric I fussy cut in order to get the look I want.  Of course, you could make this quilt without doing any fussy cutting, but fussy cutting some prints greatly adds to the complex look of this quilt. I've been fussy cutting my striped fabric as well as cutting specific motifs from a large floral print as well as a couple of paisley fabrics.  Without fussy cutting, these larger scale prints would have looked randomly chopped on the small pieces in this quilt.  Whenever I fussy cut, I need five diamonds for the center star and 10 pentagons for the outer ring.  

I'm rounding out the fussy cut fabrics with lots of pieces cut from tonal prints that can be cut in the conventional (and much faster) way.

Then there is the glue basting step.  Each cut piece of fabric needs to be basted to its paper backing.  I use a Sewline glue pen on a rotary cutting mat, My Olfa mat is square but I think a round rotary mat would work even better.  The rotary mat makes the job go faster because you can turn the piece being glued, rather than trying to turn your body or twist your arm around a stationary position.

And there is a lot of gluing to be done!  Here, I'm gluing the star points that connect all the rosettes together to make the final pattern.  There are 1368 of these in the quilt; they are about 1" long.  
I better get cracking!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Making Progress

I've made some progress on my La Passacaglia project.  When I last posted about it, it looked like this:

I've added three more rosettes to the lower left edge.  That part is complete except for some partial rosettes to fill in the edges once I have it squared up.  

I'll work on the lower right portion next.  

Yes, this quilt takes a long time to make.  And, proof that I am completely crazy, I already have my next English paper piecing project selected.  

Friday, September 25, 2015

Desk Calendar

I have a desk calendar for 2016 already.  I found it in a lovely independent book store in Saratoga Springs, NY, called Northshire Bookstore.  I love a good independent book store and Northshire is the best I've been to in a long time, independent book stores having become so rare.  They have a store in Manchester, VT, too.  

Anyway, I found this easel style desk calendar with quilt designs. Turns out, it was designed by One Canoe Two, who are now designing fabric for Moda.  So next year, I can be reminded of my hobby/obsession while working at my day job.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza XXII - The Loot

I don't think I could go to a quilt show and not buy anything.  It is always interesting to see what the vendors have with them.  My LQS is great but of course, they can't stock everything, and while internet shopping offers endless variety, seeing something on a screen is not the same as seeing it "for real."

I want to make Jen Kingwell's My Small World quilt and have been gathering fabrics for it.  I have a basket of them set aside but the show posed a great opportunity to pick up more, including some fat eighths.

assorted fabric for eventual use in My Small World quilt

Lately, I've had a bit of thing for rainbow colors in quilts and even started a Pinterest board dedicated to inspiration for an eventual project, so I looked around the show vendors for fabric that I could use in said hypothetical project.  I hit the jackpot with these crossweave fat quarters.  Only $2 each!

Assorted crossweave fat quarters - not the whole rainbow but enough

In crossweaves, the thread is dyed (rather than the cloth), and 
woven with one color for warp and one for weft, blue and purple in this case.
The fabric used in Oxford cloth shirts is an example.

Just in case that's not enough "rainbow," I got this bundle of 20 10" squares from Free Spirit Designer Essentials solid color fabric.

And that text print you see in the background of all of these photos? That's a yard of  Quilters Basic Perfect #MCS 13-45 designed by (info taken from selvage).  The text is all in French, ooh la la!  It appears to be from a Danish company so I'm not hopeful about finding more.  

I have enough fabric to keep me out of trouble for a while.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza XXII - The Exhibits

On Friday, a friend and I went to Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza, an annual quilt show held outside Philadelphia every September.  You may have read my coverage in prior years.  While the internet has made quilt inspiration plentiful and easily accessible, I still like to go to the occasional show and see show-quality quilts "in real life."

Here are my favorites from this year's show:

This feathered star quilt (paper pieced) was spectacular.  The workmanship was outstanding; no wonder it won 1st place in the Traditional category. 

Feathered Stars by Barbara Khan of Weehawken,NJ, 82" x 82"

A close-up of the center star

Close-up of the border

In a funny coincidence, this quilt was displayed across from a booth vending quilting books, where they had copies of A Flock of Feathered Stars, the book used to make the quilt.  So if you'd like to have a quilt like this, all you need is the book, some fabric, and a lot of patience and talent.

When I saw this next quilt from a distance, it reminded me of work I saw at the Old Town Art Fair in Chicago during the summer, and sure enough, it was from the same artist, Deborah Hyde.  She uses color placement in Many Trips Around the World blocks to create art quilts.  Fabric pieces are only 1" square!  This quilt, Leda, won 2nd place in the Innovative category.

Leda by Deborah Hyde, West Bloomfield, MI, 71" x 43"

close-up showing color placement

close-up showing block

 Deborah Hyde had another quilt in the show, equally striking in my opinion.  

Sam In Sunlight, Deborah Hyde, West Bloomfield, MI, 59" x 76"

close-up showing block

Ever since I made my Dresden plate quilt, I've been wanting to try another,using the winding chain layout.  All the fabric used in this quilt has polka dots and the outer edge has a flange or small piping next to the binding.  

Lil Bit Dotty For Dresdens by Teri Cherne, Henniker, NH, 42" x 42"

close up showing the quilting and fabric

There was an exhibit of quilts with the theme "50 Shades of Gray,"  all made by members of a guild in Florida.  This first one looks like a black and white photo.  All the fabric used to make it was gray; a darker gray background with the applique in various lighter shades.  

Twizzle, by Dotty Levine, 36" x 47"

close up of the prairie point border 

While some of the quilts used only gray fabric, the rules allowed for inclusion of color with the gray.  I have a bit of thing for rainbow quilts at the moment so this one caught my eye.

Life on Mars, Ilona Farnes, 67" x 71.5"

I vaguely recall seeing a demo for a technique for making this block;
 the technique makes two identical blocks at one time

I like the way the star points in this quilt burst out of the inner square into the border. This entry had a story.  It was started by Edna Depper, who passed away before it was finished.  Cindy Depper finished the quilt.  

50 Shades:  Edna's Last Chapter, Edna Depper and Cindy Depper, 58.5" x 58.5"

 And one more...

Hope, Polly Bech, Swarthmore, PA, 50" x 50"

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Text Prints, The New Neutral

I started seeing text printed fabric a few months ago and have developed a bit of a "thing" for it.  Not quite an obsession, but close.  Have you seen the new Moda collection from Zen Chic called Modern Background Paper?  I saw the collection on a trip to my LQS and bought a few half-yard cuts for my stash.

That fabric on the lower left is actually from a different Moda collection but goes well with the rest.  The background colors of the Modern Background Paper line vary from true white to a color I'll call "aged newsprint," giving good variation.  I'm not sure what I 'm going to do with these yet, but I am thinking about using them along with Kaffe Fassett prints in some yet-to-be-determined block.  In the meantime, they are right at home in the stash closet.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Not Quite How I Saw It In My Mind

Somehow, it looked better in my head when I was planning it.  The colors are as I imagined it but they did not come together quite as dramatically as I was thinking.  I was going for modern and graphic, inspired by this quilt by Noodle Head.  What I got is a bit of a jumble.

I think where I went wrong was in the size of the blocks.  I was limited by the size of the pieces of fabric I had left from making Modern Herringbone.  My blocks are 3.75" and the quilt top is 30" by 38" while I judge the inspiration quilt blocks to be more in the 8" range.  

This is not my first quilt that hasn't turned out as planned and doubtless won't be the last.  But I think it will make a decent baby quilt once I quilt it.  Anyway, it is a good top for me to practice machine quilting on.  

Just keeping it real here on Main Street!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Feed Sacks by Fig Tree

You know what a Fig Tree fan I am.  I read the blog for advance warning of new fabric collections and patterns and general "fresh vintage" ideas.  Early in the summer, Joanne gave a sneak peek of her new bag pattern and asked for name suggestions.  Because the bag was made from her new fabric collection called Farmhouse, I thought Feed Sack was perfect.  So did Joanna and the Fig Tree staff.

She thanked me by sending me a copy of the pattern and a few mini charm packs.  I haven't used the mini charms before and I'm sure I'll find a way to incorporate them into a project soon.  I also like the bag (the pattern includes three sizes).  Adding denim is a great idea and I am thinking of recycling some old jeans into the base and handles.  I've saved many old pairs of jeans, thinking I'd come up with a crafty use for them and I think I found one at last.  I only took a quick look at the pattern instructions but it looks easy and one jelly roll makes three bags.  Could be good for Christmas gifts...never too early to plan ahead.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Building Blocks

Wow, after La Passacaglia, anything seems fast.  I whipped up these half square triangle blocks in no time, working on them for a few minutes at a time here and there.  After dinner one evening, I gave them all a trim (more like a shave) to get them to size.  Now for the next step.

Miss Main Street and I are about to set off on the drive back to college.  She has the car packed, literally; I'm afraid something will fall out when I open the door.  Her essential stuff seems to increase in quantity every year.  If she comes up with any more, we will need to bungee cord to the outside of the car and will look like the Beverly Hillbillies going down the interstate.

Friday, September 4, 2015

A Fast Interim Project

I'm interrupting work on La Passacaglia to make a quilt for a new addition to the family.  This little guy was born last April; in a great coincidence he shares a birthday with Miss Main Street, but 20 years apart.  His mother is Mr. Main Street's niece and the family lives in Toronto.  He needs his quilt before it gets cold up there!

I have a plan and the cutting went fast.  

I'm using fabric left from making Modern Herringbone so I know I will like the colors!  But the piecing on this one will be fast and easy.  I want something they are not afraid to actually use.  

It will be all half and quarter square triangles, easy machine piecing I can work on in a half hour or so in the evenings after work.  If all goes according to plan,  I'll have something close to finished to show you next week.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A New Blankie for Back to School

It's back-to-school time.  Mr. Main Street started back last week with faculty meetings and I'll drive Miss Main Street back to Skidmore on Labor Day.

Years ago, I made Miss Main Street a cuddle blanket/lap blanket out of Minkee and flannel.  She took it to college with her to cuddle with while watching TV.  The years have not been good to the flannel side, which was splitting at the seams and had generally seen better days.  A new one was in order.

The light blue plush is Minkee Dot and the print is a cozy flannel. I got both pieces at Yoder's in Shipshewana, IN, a stop on one of my trips to Chicago this summer.  (If you are in  the area, this store is worth a visit.  Only a short detour from US 80/90 in northern Indiana.)

I followed a tutorial from Missouri Quilt Co, called The Self Binding Receiving Blanket except I increased the size to 45" by 60".  Jenny provides great instructions and it is pretty fast to make. It is even easier when you use two pieces of flannel.  The Minkee fabric is a bit tricky; it is a knit and wants to stretch and curl.

Monday, August 31, 2015

It's Good To Be Back!

I never intended my blogging break to last so long.  I've been doing some traveling and some relaxing, and a whole lot of working.

I wish I could relax as much as our dog Dillie.  That's a typical, though immodest, Corgi pose.

Dillie relaxing in Miss Main Street's bedroom.

I went out to Chicago again late in July to pick up Miss Main Street from her summer experience. We drove back east, stopping off in Michigan for a few days to visit my mom.  

Working a little at a time, I finished another big rosette for my version of La Passacaglia.  

Then joined three rosettes together.  I'm working now on the smaller rosettes needed to fill in the bottom edge.  

This is not a speedy project but I hope my slow pace is not deterring anyone from starting their own La Passacaglia.  It is one of those projects where you can't think about the time invested. Instead, I tell myself how much I am enjoying the process and how satisfied I will be with the final results.  I really do enjoy it, much more than I expected to, and am already thinking about my next English paper piecing project!  I know, crazy!