Saturday, June 25, 2011

Clean and packed!

Can you tell what this is?  Yep -- it's quilts and a few wall hangings.  The packers come on Monday and we move on Tuesday.  Oh my.  That's another post in and of itself.

This whole moving thing is a pain as you know.   Instead of being focused on my china or my clothes, I've been focused on my quilts and my quilting.

These are all the quilts we have (other than the one on our bed and one that I'm taking to tempoary living for the next 2 months).  Most have been washed (not the vintage ones), folded, and put inside 100% cotton pillowcases for safekeeping. 

The pillowcases have their own stories.  Can you see the tatting on some?  Many of these are pillowcases that have outlasted the matching sheets or were made by my grandmother as her creative outlet.  That's all well and good -- except that today's pillows and feather pillows of days gone by are very different sizes.  So, generally they have languished in the linen closet.  You can't get rid of a pillowcase that your grandmother handstitched -- everbody knows that!  :-)

I remember her going to the local dry goods store and buying the pre-printed panels and then hand stitching up the sides and hemming them.  She was always so pleased to give my sister or me a set and you can see some of them here.  Others have tatting or crochet added to them and were wedding gifts years and years ago.  They've yellowed and can't really be bright white again -- although I have not tried bleach and probably won't.

For now -- they serve an important purpose.  My quilts are way too precious to trust to the packers without making sure they are clean and protected.  I want them to be usable as soon as we have a new home and beds to make.  In the meantime, they'll be in storage and as protected as I can make them without putting them in my car and lugging them everywhere I go. 

There are 18 pillowcases on the bed -- and I've given a few quilts away.  That, too, is another post for another day. How many quilts do I really need?  Hmmmmm -- at least 20 if I have 2 that aren't packed!

Have a wonderful weekend and keep quilting.  Today I put off the dreaded task of servicing my Bernina and putting her away as well.  My little Janome Jem and I will be moving to temporary housing together along with more projects than I can possibly get done.  My biggest fear (slightly overstated) was that I would get in this apartment and not have things to work on.  I think I have that covered! 

Keep piecing!  Jan

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lessons Learned

 Here's a walk down memory lane that's full of all kinds of early quilting memories -- and many of them not too good!

This is the first quilt I ever tried to make my own.  I was completely self taught (via books and magazines) and did not know one single quilter I could ask for advice or guidance. 

My lessons learned:
1.  I used cheap fabrics
2.  I used cheap muslin for the neutral (like cheesecloth!)
3.  I didn't understand 1/4" seam allowance and didn't even try to achieve it
4.  I didn't have any idea how to do the setting squares
5.  I started hand quilting and over quilted it -- thinking that I would do cross hatching 1" apart.  That never happend -- I lost my mojo after completing one direction.
6.  I had gaps where the squares were so poorly constructed that there was batting showing.
7.  I didn't understand color layout and placement and should have made some different decisions in order to have a secondary pattern.
8.  All I had to go by was a black and white picture in a magazine with no cutting instructions.

It was a mess!  I worked on this forever and became very disheartened because I had taken on so much with so little knowledge and certainly no standards on construction.

I pretty much did everything wrong that could be done wrong.  I've kept it for years as a reminder and finally donated it, as is.  I was ready to move on and I certainly remember all my mistakes. 

In some ways, I think I'm a better quilter as a result of so many mistakes in one quilt. My second and third quilts weren't even close to good -- but I was able to course correct various errors noted above as I went. 

I hope you are quilting with great abandon and precision (if that floats your boat!).  Jan

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I spy with my little eye

I should call this post "Alpha and Omega" because this is the first and last one of these I will make.  It's a first birthday quilt for our grandson and it certainly is bright.  And it's not very big and I'm OK with that!

I should not complain -- the smaller hexagons were donated by a quilter from a chat room that I followed.  I believe her mom cut these for a quilt she was never able to make.  So -- a post appeared one day with the offer of the hexagons to the first requestor.  I was lucky enough to be first and she quickly forwarded them to me.  I had started cutting the larger ones with a template and realized this was going to take forever.  I don't tend to use novelty fabrics except for an occasional pillowcase.  So -- as a result of her generosity, this quilt was finished last week

With all that said -- it was a pain to figure out what the dimensions for the smaller setting triangles needed to be.  Lots of trials, errors, ripping and then figuring out that I could cut them from a 2.25" strip.  It took me a while to realize how I should position the bias of the triangles since this is put together in rows with no inset seams.  Way too many bias pieces to suit me -- thank goodness for silk pins.

So -- I like it and am glad it's done.  Don't you love this nurse with attitude?  I asked a friend for this piece when I saw a quilt she was working on for her daughter's teacher (or someone).  Anyway, I love her and wanted her in the quilt!

I hope you are piecing and are keeping your "attitude" as well.  Jan

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Asian fabrics

 Don't you just love them?  There is something so wonderful about the saturation of color, intricacy of design, and the absolute beauty of most Asian fabrics.  I don't know about you but I find them hard to cut into and then I want to use every little piece to make sure there is no waste.

I saw this quilt at a LQS and fell in love with it.  I knew it was just a matter of time until I had to make one.  But it was hard to cut those beautiful florals into strips and the leftovers are still together in a small shoe box. I just can't mainstream them yet.

I do believe that I could start a buying frenzy all over again if I got in the right "mood". 

For this quilt, I tried something I had not done before and will not rush to do again.  The quilting thread is white for the "white" portion of the quilt and dark for the patterned portion.  That was a lot of changing as I rolled the quilt up and down the frame.  In the end, it was probably worth it because I wanted the "purity" of a white-white and I didn't want a light thread to take away from the deep rich colors of the florals.  But it was a pain!

I do like this pattern and am considering it again in scraps so that the lights and darks are not so controlled.  What do you think?  Will that take away from the pattern or just change the "feel".  I have made a lot of log cabin quilts (neutrals, Christmas, scrappy, and have another scrappy in the making).  I do love using those strips I've cut from leftover fabric!

I hope you're piecing and quilting to your heart's content, Jan