Sunday, December 23, 2012

Choose Joy.....

Merry Christmas!

We will be enjoying the holidays with family and then heading to Toronto for New Years and a slightly belated Christmas with our little guy and his mama and daddy.  Can't wait!

I wish each of you a blessed Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year that is filled with peace -- as you piece!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Basketful of Color

One week to go and I can't decide if I'm caught up or just behind and don't realize it.  I didn't have a lot of Christmas quilting to do and we don't go to a lot of parties and I'll eventually do some baking -- but for now, I'm in a spot of limbo.  Should I be doing something?  Can I enjoy the moment?  What (or who) have I forgotten?
One thing I had forgotten is how much I love this wallhanging!  I have actually never hung it on a wall for Christmas.
But the fabrics are divine!
I got this years and years ago from Keepsake Quilting when I saw it and fell in love with the fabrics.  Never mind that I had no idea how to do any of the techniques.  I had to have it.
It's machine applique and quilt as you go.  Or at least it was when I did it.  The instructions were average, the templates were scary since I had never had to do anything quite this freeform, and the fabrics made my heart sing.  I was terrified of cutting into the fabrics and clueless about how to use the natural shadings in them to emphasize the design.
Nor was I sure how to use the quilting to create additional design.
In the end, I love it -- even though it stays hung in the closet.  Hopefully, by this time next year, I'll have hangers somewhere in the house (out of the sun) so I can enjoy my seasonal wallhangings.  For now-this one is on my design wall so I see it everyday!

I wish each of you peace, joy, and color in your world -- Jan


As a postscript -- it seems insensitive to be speaking of joy and color with such darkness and sadness in Newtown, CT.  Words fail me in this incredibly sad sad time.  I can only pray those affected will someday find peace, joy, and color again.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Walk thru the Neighborhood

I have to say that the Log Cabin block is just about my favorite traditional block.  I like Ohio Stars but I love Log Cabins.  And I particularly love the Barn Raising setting.  There are so many different options but after playing with the blocks -- this is the one that that always makes me the happiest.  Check out all the different settings in the link to Big Horn Quilts.
I just finished this quilt and it's ready to gift to a soon-to-be-first-time-grammie.  If you're a periodic reader of this blog, you may remember that this was made from her sons' boxer shorts.  I hope she will like it and it can become a floor quilt for Baby A when he gets here.  It was fun to do but the cutting of boxers is not nearly as efficient as cutting from men's shirts.  Logs finish at 1" and the blocks are 7" finished.
This is the first log cabin I ever made.  The logs finish at 1.5" and it's made of lots of scraps.  It's been a constant on my guest bed for years and it always makes me smile when I wash it and put it back on the bed. It was quilted on my Bernina when I had no idea what to do -- and my plan was to quilt the lights in a neutral thread and the darks in an Aurafil variegated that.  The variegated didn't cooperate for some reason and that plan was abandoned.  The quilt was heavy, I didn't do a good job of supporting it while quilting, and it torqued something important.  Lesson learned.

This is my second log cabin and maybe my favorite.  The logs finish at 1" and I made long before "latte quilts" were trendy.  Actually, I made it long before I knew what "latte" even was!  It was also quilted on my Bernina and I think the quilting overshadows the piecing - which is not what I wanted.  I do love it and plan to do another one of these day. Nothing uses up those strips and bits of left over fabric than cutting logs.
This quilt was made for my sister, Tuthfairy, and is out of Christmas fabrics.  She has always loved this block and when it was time to make a Christmas quilt for her -- there was only one block to do.  Logs finish at 1" and I really like this quilt as well.  It's always fun to see it come out during the holidays.
This quilt is similar to one that I saw in a quilt shop in a Chicago suburb.  It's called Curved Log Cabin (I think) and is with Asian fabrics.  I collected those for a while before starting this and then I got the "bug" out of my system to use them.  I do love their richness but I never could really bring myself to combine them with other fabrics in quilts.  For the first time, I switched thread colors on Sadie Gammill as I was quilting.  What a pain!  But I wanted a light thread in the white area but not in the darker logs. The scraps went into a paper piecing project that has gone to live elsewhere.  More on that at another time.
These are special Log Cabins and are placemats made by my sister.  She was not a quilter before this but has wanted log cabin placements for a long long time.  Her kitchen is brick red and the colors are perfect for her breakfast bar -- as is the binding she chose.  All I did (other than cutting and putting the binding on) was show her what to do and she did the rest.  I think they are magnificent and I'm hoping she will want to do more quilting.  It was fun having her in the quilt room!  Nothing like sharing what you love to do with someone you love.

So what's next? I'm wondering about one in all grays -- lites to charcoal much like my neutral quilt above.  And I have to do one with 1" strips that finish at 1/2".  I think those are unbelievable quilts and I want one.  I've also thought about my Cherrywoods but don't think I can bring myself to put so much of those incredible fabrics in the seam allowance.
I always keep logs in "inventory" and periodically make a few log cabin blocks as part of my leaders and enders.  I have about 10-15 that I've done in the past.  Some day I'll get serious about those -- but for now, they are in a tote and I'll keep cutting logs as I work with my scraps.  In looking at the tote -- maybe I should spend some time sorting them!

What about you?  What's your favorite block or quilt pattern than you've duplicated over the years because it's just "perfect"?

I hope you're finding time to sew and create during these crazy, busy days!  Jan

Monday, December 3, 2012

One for the Money....

Have you seen this block or quilt popping up on various websites?  It's called One for the Money and I am very conflicted about it.
I love the block...I love the impact of the design with the right fabrics....I love the complexity of the pattern...but the instructions are complicated at best.  I appreciate the brains that put this together because it's not nearly so simple as it appears.  As this quilt gets bigger and bigger, the stripes match up in every direction and I cannot figure out how. Thank goodness there are quilters out there that can.
I had seen this on a few blogs and am so appreciative that our guild asked JAO to teach a class on this.  She has made a number of quilts using this pattern, knows how it goes together, is extremely patient, and was willing to redraft the layout in a way that made it easier to follow.  
I knew what fabric I wanted to use as soon as I saw the pattern.  I wanted a stripe that had a controlled color pallet and a variation on width of strips.  The trick with this pattern is that you cut your blocks from strips that run length of fabric (about 4 yards) and not WOF.  So until the block goes together, you have no idea what it's going to look like.  It all depends on where that first cut is made and then you are forced to follow it.
Organization is the key and so is a good cutting area.  Seriously, JAO had us cutting from 9:15a until 1:00p with a half hour for lunch.  You have to cut this completely before you can even begin to sew and she strongly recommended we bring cookie sheets of some kind to keep our blocks sorted.  You have to lay these out in a way that is precise so you can pull the right half square triangle as you follow the template.  With good cutting techniques, the stripes match up easily when you assemble.  But there are oodles of biases to watch out for.
My pix don't do JAO's quilts justice.  They were hung with skirt hangers and weren't flat and I completely screwed up the pix of her queen size floral quilt that she had fussy cut.  It was amazing.

In my case, I lost patience and made a baby quilt.  I needed one rather quickly for a boy and like the non-traditional look of this for a baby's quilt.  Thus -- I have a lot of fabric left over.  In fairness to the designers, this pattern uses a lot of fabric but the quilt doesn't.  You have to cut it all and there are plenty of blocks left over that can be used for a back or charity quilt or less organized quilt.  But, I have even more left over as I only made nine blocks and I think we were to make 12.
If you are thinking about this -- and it's a dynamite quilt when finished -- I'm suggesting a class or personal coaching by someone that has made this and knows the tricks.  If you're interested in contacting JAO to see if she's available to teach a class, send me an email and I'll connect you up.  It is worth it to have someone guide you through this and she knows this pattern!

I do love stripes and am happy to have extra fabric in my stash....I bought 8 yards of this on sale and only needed 4 so I'll be able to use it somewhere else along the way.

I hope you are finding time to be creative as the holidays approach!   Jan