Monday, July 30, 2012

The Olympics and Hand Quilting - Perfect Together!

Ordinarily, I am not much of a sports fan.  But that changes in an Olympic year.  My favorite events are swimming and gymnastics, but I can become absorbed in just about any event.  And how about the Opening Ceremony!  James Bond and the Queen parachuting into the stadium was the highlight for me, but I also enjoyed the athletes parading in and the ceremony of lighting the torch. 

I am currently glued to the tube but watching the sporting events of the Olympic Games on TV is the perfect time to do some hand quilting. 

This is my version of Pretty Dresses (note to self:  must come up with better name).  I am quilting a grid in the background behind each dress manniquin and I use blue painters tape instead of marking the quilting lines.  Here's a finished block up close.

With three weeks of TV watching, I just might be able to finish quilting this wall hanging.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Storing and Displaying Quilts, Part 2

I got a very nice response to my last post about ways to store and display quilts.  Many of the commenters have glass-front cabinets.  Great idea; the perfect way to store quilts yet still be able to see them.  I don't see that solution in my future though, as we don't have space for another piece of furniture.  Mr. Main Street has a very large glassed in cabinet in our family room that he uses to display a very large model sail boat that he inherited from his father, Capt. Jim.  My father-in-law grew up on the far eastern end of the North Fork of Long Island, in a sailing family, and was a professional yachtsman himself.  Jim's uncle made him the model when Jim was a child so it is rather special.  And handy; if there is any flak about how I want to decorate, I can just point to this great hulking cabinet holding the model boat!

I am looking for something I can use in the bedroom.  But in the meantime, I'll show you how I decorate with quilts around our house.  Besides having a quilt (or two) on every bed, I use my quilts in other rooms.

This quilt hanger is on a wall in my kitchen.  It displays a rotating collection of wall hangings, most of which were made specifically fo this space.  The hanger is 42" across. 

I have quilts casually draped on chairs here and there.  This quilt, Saturday Sampler, is on a chair in our family room...

...while Christmas Ribbons goes on the window seat in the living room at Christmas time. 

Then there is "the stack."  We have this odd display shelf in our family room, formed where the chimney to the living room fireplace juts into the family room.  It holds a rather wobbly stack of throws and lap quilts, just in case we need to warm up while watching TV.  Some of you mentioned having quilt ladders to display your collection and I think I could use one in here.  Just need to find a good source.

This display is on the wall on the landing to the second floor.  It is just two white wooden drapery rods (purchased at Pottery Barn Kids) hung one above the other on the wall.  The quilts are folded or draped over the rods.  It makes a nice scene for anyone coming up the stairs.  My goal is to make a few more Christmas quilts so I can turn this into a red, white, and green display at Christmas time.

I love seeing my quilts put to use, even if it is only decorative use!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Storing and Displaying Quilts

How do you store or display your finished quilts?  I am looking for ideas.  I've accumulated quite a number here at our house on Main Street, even though a good number of the quilts I've made were given away as gifts.  I have several for every bed, usually with one quilt on the bed, maybe another folded at the foot, and the rest stored in old pillow cases under the bed. 

I have a space in my kitchen where I hang a rotating collection of wall hangings and several lap or throw size quilts that stay in our family room for snuggly TV viewing. 

Still, I have "extras" without a place to call home.  I would like to get some kind of standing quilt rack for the bedroom, one that could hold three or so throw size quilts and look decorative in the process. 

Then, on Pinterest, I saw this:

It is from Robinson's Woodcrafts.  Not sure where I would put it though. 

I'd love to know what you do with your collection of quilts.  Please leave a comment.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Major Distraction

We have a major distraction here on Main Street right now, one that is keeping me from spending much time with my quilting projects.  Her name is Dily...

Dily (short for Dilys) is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy.  She is 10 weeks old and just joined us on Sunday. 

Big Brother Reggie (or rather, Uncle Reggie - Dily is Reggie's great-niece) was a little puzzled at first (What the heck is happening here!) but they are getting along fine, though he is not sure yet whether he wants to be Grumpy Uncle or Fun Uncle.  Dily has lots of energy and loves to chase a ball.  When she is tired, she throws herself down on her tummy in "superman" position but a 5-minute nap is all it takes to get her going again.  She is certainly keeping us busy.  I just hope to have her house-trained soon.

Yes, we are a two-Corgi household now.  Back to our regular schedule of programming soon!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Japanese Quilting - Patchwork Tsushin

Japanese quilting magazines and books are one of my indulgences, along with lattes, chocolate, mystery books and TV shows...

Anyway, I was in need of a bit of a pick-me-up of the non-food variety last week and that took me to the June 2012 edition of Patchwork Tsushin.

Isn't the cover luscious, with all those hexies!

I buy these magazines as eye candy.  I don't read Japanese, though the many diagrams make it possible to figure out the directions for most items shown.  Most of the sewing is done by hand, not machine, which is a big difference compared to US quilting magazine projects. 

This issue is devoted mostly to English paper piecing (hence the cover) and the stained glass technique.  While stained glass doesn't much interest me, the hexie craze is starting to suck me in.  Between this magazine and projects I've seen on blogs here and there, I've started to think about starting a project. 

I started an English paper piecing project a few years ago but did not get very far.  I think the pieces were too small and the scale too daunting! 

My only other foray into hexagons was Mon Petit Chou, which is actually made with half-hexagons and sewn by machine in strips.  I recommend this if you like the look as it is actually quite easy.

Mon Petit Chou, uses half hexagons sewn together in strips

The project I'm considering is from the Fat Quarterly blog and uses 1.5" hexagons.  It looks do-able to me. 

The blog has been posting an on-going tutorial with techniques and directions.  What do you think?  Should I go for it?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Four Patch

I'm working away on my Christmas-y version of Crossroads. 

The center part of the quilt is composed of 18 blocks, each of which is which is made up of units.  So far, I've completed all the four patch units. 

To get my four patch blocks to lie flat without a lot of bulk in the center, I'm using a technique I learned about on Carrie Nelson's blog, LaVieEnRosie.  She calls it "popping the seams."  These four patch blocks are made up of two light squares and two dark squares.  In the photo above, the last seam, the one the connects all four patches together, it at the top.  You can see another view of it below, where the finished seam is standing up. 

Ordinarily, I would press this seam to one side.  The problem is that this results in a bit of bulk in the center, where the two perpendicular seams intersect.  The "popping the seams" method reduces this bulk.  It means removing the stitches in the seam allowance above the seam line, on both sides, allowing the two sides of the final seam to fall in different directions.  In the photo below, all four seams are pressed counter-clockwise. 

This technique reduces the bulk in the center of the block and also helps ensure that all the seams snug up to each other when you get to the step of sewing the blocks together.

A full tutorial on the technique is on Carrie Nelson's blog.  It is listed in the sidebar to the left of the blog posts, first item on "Random Stuff."

Now for the nine patch units.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Next Up - Crossroads Quilt from Bonnie Blue Quilts

My next project isn't one of the patterns I showed in my previous post.  Nor does it use Fig Tree fabric.  Instead, I'm sneeking in a Christmas in July project, thinking, "If I make it now, it could get quilted by Chrstmas."

The pattern I'm using is Crossroads, by Bonnie Blue Quilts (the company has recently changed their name to Red Crinoline Quilts but the pattern has the former name on it).

When I saw the pattern, I immediately recalled some fabric in  my stash.  This border print from a Christmas line by April Cornell from several years ago has been waiting for the perfect quilt design to come along and I think this is it!

I have no shortage of reds and greens in my stash to use for the center blocks, then this holly stripe border print will make up the outer border.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pattern Bonanza

I've been keeping a running list of quilt patterns that I see (mostly online) that I fancy for future projects.  Last week, one of favorite online quilt shops had a sale on pattterns so it was time to place an order. 

Square Dance, from Amanda Murphy Design, makes a twin bed size quilt using 20 fat quarters plus background yardage.  I am thinking of using it for a Fig Tree Harvest project.

BFF, from Pam's Piece by Piece is designed to use a layer cake, though fat quarters will work too.  I like the design with the pieced border.  And if Pam can name a quilt BFF, I think I can name one LOL!

I have a jelly roll of Blitzen that will be turning into Hopscotch or Grandma Mary's Five PatchHopscotch is jelly roll design from Thimble Blossoms.  Grandma Mary's Five Patch is from Sweet Jane's Quilting Designs

These two were just for fun; not sure when they'll get made or what I'll use but they both struck my fancy.  My Corner Garden and Sunny Days are from Gingham Girls and both combine piecing with applique.

A Tiny Tree, by Sandy Gervais, is more craft than quilt but too cute to resist.  It is made from a charm pack and some wool.

I have enough to keep me busy for a long time!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I Schnibble Sized It!

As soon as I saw the Spools quilt from Thimble Blossoms in photos from Spring Quilt Market, I wanted to make one for the wall in my sewing room.   And I thought California Girl would be perfect for this pattern - bright and cheery, and it would coordinate with the yellow walls and green rug in the room. 

Just a slight problem.  My wall space is limited so I needed to make a smaller quilt.  And I had two charm packs of California Girl, rather than the jelly roll the pattern called for.  Block resizing to the rescue!

Using my trusty calculator, I resized the blocks, so that the strips that form the "thread" on the spools could be cut from a 5" charm square.  I got two strips from each charm square and used some tan fabric from my stash for the spools.  (The pattern directions have you cut the spool pieces from jelly roll strips.)

(Spools does not have a border; flimsy is on my white batting design wall)

Sixteen blocks later, I have a 28" by 30" wall hanging made from one charm pack, some tan scraps from stash and a little Kona White for background.  I call it the Schnibble size version of Spools, after the Schnibbles patterns from Miss Rosie's Quilt CoSchnibbles are patterns for small quilts (usually around 32" square or so) that are made from two charm packs plus some yardage for background, binding, and maybe a border. 

The way I sized my blocks, I could cut two thread strips from each charm square (with a narrow sliver of fabric left over), and this yielded a block that is about 6" by 8".  But you could downsize them even smaller to get three thread strips from each square.  Then, when I was almost finished, another variation occurred to me (suitable for any size) - use the same fabric for the top and bottom rows of the thread and a contrasting print in the same colorway for the center strip.  This might appeal to quilters who need a more controlled scrappiness in their quilts. 

Binding fabric has been ordered.  And I have another Thimble Blossoms pattern to try soon - Hopscotch.  But I'll be making this one with a jelly roll, per the original design.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hooray For The Red, White, and Blue!

A couple of my red, white, and blue quilts.

Happy 4th of July!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Bit of This and That

I've been workting on a bit of this and that, with not much to show. 

First, piecing backs for a few of my tops, so they are ready for quilting.  This is my least favorite step in making a quilt!

Next, a lot of hand quilting, finishing up my version of Pretty Dresses.  While quilitng, I've had time to think about a final name for my version.  At the moment, it is between Fashion Plate and Best Dressed List.  Any preference?

Today, I was feeling like I needed to do some piecing.  It had been a long time and I was feeling deprived, LOL!  So I pieced the test block for my next creation. 

It is from a Thimble Blossoms pattern called Spools.  The fabric is California Girl by Fig Tree Quilts for Moda.  So this counts as part of my Fig Harvest project.  I'll be back later this week with additonal blocks, plus the secret to a little change I made to the pattern.