Saturday, March 26, 2011

By hand or by machine?

I have so enjoyed reading several blogs about the joys and peace that come with hand quilting.  I have to agree.  I started as a hand quilter and I loved that part of the process more than piecing -- until I got a new machine and then I couldn't say the same.  It became about the piecing and production and creativity. 

About the same time, arthritis decided to make handquilting a little more uncomfortable but I have to say that I can't really blame my move to machine quilting only on that.  I have quilted a lot of quilts on my Bernina but the "production" that comes with a longarm cannot be beaten.  To quilt a quilt in a day is still amazing to me and frees up so much more time for piecing!

This quilt is next to the last quilt I hand quilted.  It was for a niece who was graduating from college and was a University of North Carolina fan extraordinaire.  She still lives and breathes them -- especially during March Madness (note block in lower right corner of the top picture). 

I remember this quilt well because I had relocated to Chicago and was living alone downtown while we sold our home and business -- and it is what I turned to during September, 2001 as I watched TV in horror feeling very far away from my family and safety.  So -- quilts bring comforts in many ways and sometimes it's to the person working on them.  That is definitely the case with this one.

So -- I hope you are continuing to piece and quilt and be creative -- and to find comfort in the process, Jan

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I dare you!

Did you take dares in school?  I absolutely did and lived to tell about them but that's another story for another time.  What about quilting dares?  Yes or no?   As far as I'm concerned that's what a "quilt challenge" is -- it's a dare to use some fabrics or a pattern, set some rules or guidelines, and let your imagination run wild.    The quilt to the right is the first challenge a few of us did.  These Valori Wells fabrics were a surprise by Paula (thanks, Paula -- you started this madness), were narrow cuts, and three of us had a few months to decide on a pattern, make the top, and then "reveal" our creations on a set date.  It was a blast!!!  Three very different tops made with the same fabrics. 
The quilt with feet to the left was my finished product.  I wish I had pix of the other two.  Our "rules" were that you could add as much of 3 or 4 other fabrics that you wanted and you had to use all the furnished fabrics in the top.  I obviously bought the same pattern line in brown and the floral for the borders and I used almost every inch.  I thnk there was just enough left for a NICU quilt.  It was oodles of fun, we all learned a lot and there have since been four more challenges as the group expands and a few private challenges.  Alas, I don't have any finished quilts from the others although one is quilted and I'm putting the binding on it.  I'll definitely share them as we go because we have all learned something as we started these, thought about patterns, wrestled with fabric we didn't love (or maybe even like). 

Here's what this means for me today!  I finally started cutting for the fifth challenge which is due to be "revealed" next month.  I am way behind but loving having fabric in my hands again.  Has been too long due to work and other household matters.  This time we all agreed on a pattern and decided we could put our own spin on it with fabrics from our stash or that we bought.  I am happy to be using fabric from my stash!

So -- if you have never done a challenge -- surprise some close quilting friends with 2-3 FQ and a quilting dare to make a quilt (you could certainly keep it small and say it's to donate to Project Linus) and watch the wheels start to turn, enjoy the laughs you will share, and let yourcreativity abound.

I dare you, Jan

PS -- speaking of challenges and my last post on March Madness.  My 9 month old grandson is beating me in the NCAA basketball family bracket challenge.  Apparently he chose his picks based on which team's mascot would win in an "chomping contest" between the two. There appears to be merit in this as he is currently 4th.  This is akin to choosing a horse to bet on based on the silks the jockey wears.  Also scientific. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March Madness

Does that term mean anything to you?  If you're from Kentucky (as I am), it means college basketball, family pools, lots of games, and plenty of excitement.  Second only to the Derby.

But this year it means so much more.  Too much work, too little sewing/quilting/fabric fondling, home projects, business travel, and dark cloudy skies with only a dream of spring right now.

I don't think I like this madness.  I have not touched my machine in two weeks and we're about to head into three.  That's just wrong and you'd think as an adult, I could make that happen.  But no -- I don't think so -- at least not this weekend.

The quilt on the left is one of my favorite quilts and if you've done a One Block Wonder you know there is a lot of cutting, a lot of sewing, and a lot of design decisions.  And then --- voila -- there is a quilt that cna make your heart sing when you're done. 

So, what's the connection with the whining above about no time and this quilt?  I can't get it out of my head.  How's that for March Madness when I haven't finished one UFO this year, have partially cut one quilt out, have borders ready to go on a small lap quilt, and have quilted but not bound a quilt I pieced last year?  I bought the fabric for my next OBW (blacks, golds, yellows, white in a bold pattern) and I am having an urge for a new blade and to start cutting.  But -- I have to keep it at urge level right now.  This takes a lot of time to line up and cut accurately and it takes a lot of time to sew but for some reason, I am wanting all that done so I can grab and sew when time allows.  I don't think it's rational but I don't think a lot of what quilters create starts out as rational, do you?

So -- my OBW dances in my head, basketball will be consuming for the next 3 weeks, spring will start to show signs soon (please, oh, please) and my machine needs dusting while I dust furniture!  I hope you are living your quilting dreams and your madness is all about creativity!

Keep piecing (and cutting), Jan

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Boxes of Crayons

Don't you just love solids (Modas, Kona, Kaufman, whatever!) and how they play so well together?  This is a quilt for our grandson that was made with solids I had been collecting for whatever reason and leftover black and white fabrics.

The block is so easy and I forget the name.  It's the same block that's in the very bad picture of the quilt that follows but done on a smaller scale b/c it's a baby quilt.  I think these blocks finished at 8" so it's a small quilt with a faux minkee backing.

We visited our son and his family yesterday and I was reminded of how much I like the colors in this and how happy it is.  My question to you experienced quilters is do you use polyester or cotton batting on baby quilts since they get so much washing and drying?  I've been using cotton and love the "feel" of them as they get used but another quilt that I had given them (their favorite b/c it's always out when we are there) is now so thin it's almost a summer weight throw.  The fabric and stitching are fine and the batting (wadding) was good quality cotton -- it's just been loved a lot.

So -- keep piecing (and loving), Jan