Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kansas Troubles

This week's block is Kansas Troubles - I made mine in pretty roses because they remind me of Norris' mother, Ella.

I made this block once before, in a small sampler quilt I made for Ella using all the blocks that were used in the Great Bend Kansas "Quilt Walk" - where quilt blocks were created in the sidewalks surrounding the Barton County Courthouse. The quilt featured the blocks Kansas Dugout (I used it to form the pieced border), Rocky Road to Kansas, Kansas, Windmill, Farmer's Daughter, Kansas Star and Kansas Troubles. I made it for her when she sold her house there to move to N. Georgia after living in Great Bend for almost all her life.

My Kansas Troubles block in Ella's quilt used a different distribution of lights and darks than we are using following the Block of the Week model. I based the colors in this one on the color distribution of the Great Bend sidewalk blocks.

It is an interesting coincidence that Barbara Brackman's Civil War Block of the Week was Kansas Troubles, so close behind Kason's quilt that featured the KU Jayhawk. Jayhawk is a term coined prior to the Civil War that was used to describe the Free State faction in Kansas. The Jayhawkers were part of the violence described in this week's edition of the Civil War Quilts blog.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Rock, Chalk, Fire Truck

Kason got his new quilt yesterday and immediately saw and appreciated the Jayhawks and Firetrucks. His mother told me yes, he does say, "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk."

For those of my readers who have no idea about "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk" it is a cheer of historic proportions. I read that U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt called it the greatest college chant he had ever heard. Wikipedia tells of Kansas troops using it during the War in the Philippines in 1899, the Boxer Rebellion, and during WWII. They also report that Albert I of Belgium asked for a typical American college yell at the 1920 Summer Olympics, and the gathered athletes supplied the KU chant. So the rest of us may be scratching our heads, but the KU fans are proud to say it.

I used a pantograph of flames for the quilting. Yes, one could freehand a design like this, but the pantograph made mindless work of getting even density over the entire surface. With the quilting uniform, there's nothing to distract from the fire trucks and the border print.

Click on this next picture to see the back and a little more detail of the flames.

Here's the entire finished quilt.

There's a slight ripple in the edge top and bottom - that would be caused by the natural stretch in the soft knit backing. However, Kason's parents told me he really loved his first baby blanket, a simple flannel print fabric I quilted to the same kind of soft knit. I'm guessing Kason won't complain about those edges.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Second-Time Quilt

Earlier this week, I posted a photo of the drawer of fabrics set aside for Joyce's quilt. She was nice enough to send me a scan of a photo of the original quilt we made, way back in the mid-1990's. I believe it was the second quilt I ever made.

(The kitty cat modeling the quilt is Stosh, who lived to the ripe age of 18)

The design was based on a tile Joyce and her husband used in their bathroom. They had a designer come to help finish the master bedroom design. The designer liked the tile motif and quilt colors and had a cornice made to match.

This photo is in color - it's simply a gray tile! Obviously, we made the quilt more colorful. Joyce chose fabrics that go from black to red diagonally across the outer part of the quilt, and from red to blue in the inner square on point.

Joyce's quilt has unfortunately suffered from years of use and exposure to sunlight -- one of the red fabrics has pretty well disintegrated. So we are remaking the quilt. Joyce learned to sew the same way I did - our mother taught us at home when we were very young and made doll clothes. Later, Mom was our 4-H club leader, so we got written instruction and were judged on our efforts at the County Fair. But Joyce has so far not taken any classes in quilting and has made all her quilts jointly with me.

By now, with ever more complicated queen-sized quilts for her three children under our belts, this remake will be more complicated than the original. Here's a picture of Joyce working on the layout of the red, purple and blue fabrics for one large triangular area.

If you click on the photo, in the upper left hand corner you can see a computer-generated color drawing of the new concept of changing gradually from one color to the other in the large areas that will be on the top of the bed. We are using some of the same fabrics Joyce used 15 years ago that I still have in my collection, but this time we'll need more of each color - and none of the darker reds. I've been looking on-line for collections of fat quarters and charm squares so she'll have more to work from when she gets here in late February.

When Joyce was last here, we pieced most of the large section shown. She took the parts home and I think not much has happened with it since. So we're both looking forward to getting on with this quilt!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Texas Tears

The latest block in the Civil War Block of the Week series is Texas Tears.

I have not made a block constructed like this one before - it proved challenging mostly because I didn't bring the measurements from the screen to the cutting table and cut some pieces at 1 7/8ths inches instead of 1 7/16ths. Quilt blocks don't fit together well when you make mistakes like that. Happily, that kind of mistake (cutting too large) is easily undone. The seams are all short - seam rippers are handy tools. No tears required.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fire engines ready for the longarm

Kason's fire engine quilt is now pieced -

This is the way a client's quilt would come to me when I was a professional longarm quilter: the pieced top would come with a separate backing, ready for me to quilt them together with batting in between. The batting for Kason's quilt is flame retardant - good thing, since the quilting is going to put flames all over it.

I loaded the backing and batting on the machine last week when I was waiting for that yellow fabric.
When Kason's father told me Kason's room was being redecorated, he was very careful to say it would be "KU Blue and white." So I had to buy it when I saw the official KU fabric with the KU Jayhawk at Mary Jo's Fabric store in Gastonia,

The KU blue goes perfectly with the fire engines and the Jayhawk even has the same red and gold accents. I got enough KU fabric to put the borders on in the same direction on all four sides and you could read the Kansas and KU every where.

I wonder if Kason can say "Rock, chalk, Jayhawk!"? And if he did say it, would the other kids in his N. Georgia hometown think he was crazy? Will Kason's grandfather Marvin have ideas for what I can do with the remaining hunk of official KU fabric?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

fabric storage at Reems Creek Quilting

Dorry was organizing her fabric collection yesterday and asked how the rest of us do it. Unlike some quilters who like their fabric out and visible, I like to hide my clutter and had my sewing studio lined with cabinets. (It is also practical since the quilting machine generates an incredible amount of dust). The drawers are mostly organized by color, but some drawers contain projects - like this small one, with the Civil War blocks fabrics pulled to one place for the year-long quilt-making endeavor -

I recently added several aqua-blue fabrics to what I had originally selected.

And here's a drawer that's been reserved for my sister's quilt since I moved in to the studio.

The last time Joyce came to visit was just after we moved in, two and a half years ago. She helped me get all the pieces of fabric out of boxes and into the drawers, then we started working on her new quilt. The pieces in the lower right corner are fabrics I bought since that I think she might consider adding - except the lightest blues which are for another project. When I work on that one, I will need to borrow from "Joyce's collection."

I'll post more about the blue-red-purple quilt soon - Joyce is coming to visit us in February and we'll finally get cracking on her quilt again!

Norris' mother asked how Kason's quilt was coming along. Our local UPS service got behind with the weather we had the last few weeks, so my yellow sashing fabric was delayed a day. But it arrived on Tuesday, was washed, dried, pressed, and cut. Progress is pretty fast at this point -

The top part is mostly assembled -
The remaining two rows are still on the design wall but not for long.

It almost looks like it's going to be a yellow quilt with all those bars of yellow sashing, but when the final borders go on, it will be a blue and white quilt again, with some red and yellow accents. Kason's Grandpa Marvin is going to want a quilt like this I think.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Seven Sisters.... and a few fire trucks

Today's entry in the Civil War blocks series is Seven Sisters. This block commemorates the early Confederacy (the first flag had seven stars); however, I'm the proud great-granddaughter of a Union soldier who fought with the brave Indiana 82nd on Snodgrass Hill at Chickamauga. That gave me a very different mind set for the fabric choices, because I did not want the block to have undue prominence in the final quilt. I settled on a blue sky and stars chosen to be somewhat low contrast.

Although Barbara Brackman suggested hand appliqué for this block, I have to save my hand sewing muscles for the times I truly need them, so I fused my thin star fabric to muslin, and fused that to the background for machine appliqué.

Here's a quick look at the three blocks completed so far, up on my design wall.

All week, I've worked on the Sawtooth Stars (aka North Stars) for young Kason's quilt. There was no rush completing them - I ordered fabric for the sashing that won't arrive until Monday afternoon.

I purchased two of the three firetruck fabrics before I acquired my longarm, thinking I'd make something for Norris with them. Then I saw Kason with the firetruck Norris bought him for Christmas (see photos of Kason here) and also realized he had outgrown the second quilt I made him less than a year ago (see photos of the first two simple quilts at this link - Kason's Quilts). Norris thought the old fashioned firetrucks would be hard for young Kason to relate to, so he helped me pick out a third fabric with modern firetrucks I used for the center of the majority of the stars.

Now I'll just have to clean up the studio, waiting for that fabric to arrive.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Same block, different size

Today's entry in the Civil War series, the North Star.

As Barbara Brackman pointed out, this is often known as the Sawtooth Star, and it happened that that's what's already up on my design wall. I'm making a Fire-Engine themed quilt for Norris' great-nephew Kason. His blocks are 12 inches finished compared to the 8 inches of these blocks.


Premier quilt historian Barbara Brackman has just launched a Block of the Week blog to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. She's accompanying the blocks with photos and facts from the era. I was thinking about making the blocks when Dorry launched the idea to the International Round Robin group, and that pushed me to the commitment.

Here's my first block, Catch Me If You Can -
I didn't want to buy any new fabrics and have only a few in the Civil War Reproduction-category (and those only for use making blocks for other quilters who love them.) This project will use other lovely fabrics collected over years of quilting that have not necessarily made it into a quilt.