Sunday, February 27, 2011

Civil War Block 9 - Birds in the Air

Joyce left earlier this morning with Niki and our Dad so the house seems quiet and lonely. I made my Birds in the Air block in blues since our Mom loved bluebirds.

This is a block I've considered using for a scrap quilt, so it was a good one to make. I used the directions provided for cutting the small triangles, and I printed an EQ paper template for the large triangle so I could cut it out of one corner of the fat quarter I have of that pretty dark blue floral. My completed block was a bit shy of the 8.5 inches square it should be unfinished, so I took out the center seam and moved the blue triangle over, giving it a slightly smaller seam allowance on that side. That fixed it right up.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Not only about quilting

I named my blog "Chronicles" so I could include creations and activities other than quilting. Recently I picked up some knitting projects that were laying dormant for about the last ten years. In fact, this is a sweater I started in mid-1993. I just started knitting again in January.

I decided I don't have any place to wear this little sweater now that it's finally completed, so I gave it to my niece Niki. She's a lot smaller than I am but my sister Joyce said this is the way Niki would wear it. She's modeling reluctantly for me just after dancing for about 4-5 hours at the local ballet studio - I told her if she didn't put it on for the camera, she'd have to give it back!

I purchased the yarn purchased on a trip with Diane that started with delivering a horse to Illinois. I bought the yarn when we stopped in Michigan to visit my sister and her family, and I started the sweater way back then, before Niki was born.

Here's a closeup of the back -

Well, there is a quilt in the top photo, behind my Dad laughing at Niki not wanting to show her face for me.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Progress on Joyce's quilt

We worked hard today to get all the pieces Joyce and Niki had been laying out all sewn together.

We have positioned these large triangles on the design wall with black fabric underneath to simulate the accent strips Joyce will be using. Now she has to decide how wide to make the strip of black, but that's about as far as we'll get on her quilt this visit. She'll have to come back this summer so we can continue with the next stage of construction.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Palette for a quilt -

Progress on Joyce's quilt is now well underway - after cutting up some new fabrics, Cheryl is piecing the fabrics Joyce had laid out and pinned to a tablecloth and rolled up two and a half years ago. Joyce is working on the layout at the design wall.

Niki took a break from writing a paper for school and wound up with the job of helping Joyce sort the new pieces.

The quilting machine table is a handy work surface for the effort -

The cutting table holds the remaining pieces -

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Barbara's Flower Garden

This morning, before making the Civil War block of the week I met one of the members of the Firehouse Bee that finished Barbara's work preparing her last quilt.

It is a spectacular quilt. It was purchased as a kit, with all the little squares that make up the backgrounds of the flower already cut and the fabrics for the flowers and leaves chosen by the designer, ready for the quilt maker to start working.

Although it was a kit, a top like this nonetheless represents a lot of work by both Barbara and the Bee members who finished getting it ready for longarm quilting. Barbara had all the little squares pieced together - that part was done by fusing to a foundation and then sewing in straight rows, so it's not as technically difficult as it might appear - but she still had to position the squares to get the color wash effect. Then she fused the flowers to this background.

This next picture shows the foundation on which the floral fabrics were fused and sewn together for the background.

The flowers were then cut and fused on top of the pieced backgrounds. Barbara intended to quilt this project herself, and it appears she was going to use a hybrid "quilt as you go" method. She had begun the work of outlining each of the flowers, having placed batting under the blocks, essentially doing some preliminary quilting as she went.

The Bee members finished the outline work - some of it with zig zag stitches, some with straight stitches, following the lead of Barbara's work. Then they pieced it all together with the green and white sashing strips. Gary had given them Barbara's tools and fabrics - they identified two that I can use for the backing. There are so many layers of fabric, interfacing and glue in some places it will be a challenge to quilt. I would like to do traditional crosshatching in the color wash squares, but may have to come up with an alternate plan if my thread or needle break trying to get through the seams. I will post these photos on the longarm forum and ask if any of them have quilted one of these quilts.

The quilt will now hang in my "quilts to be quilted" cupboard for the next 10 days or so. Sister Joyce will be arriving with our Dad and her daughter on Monday so I'll be busy getting ready for them, and clearing out the studio so it will be ready for us to work on her new quilt.

Week 8 Cotton Boll

This block is made of four of the same units as make up the Kansas Dugout. I made the Kansas Dugout units for the border of the Great Bend quilt (seen here) by cutting squares, placing smaller squares in the opposite corners, and seaming corner to corner.

This time, I decided to use a fabric with a lengthwise stripe centered in each quarter of the block. This would result in bias edges on the corners, so I used EQ to print four paper piecing units.

No worrying about measurements, and now the block is basted to paper, where it will remain for this next year while the rest of the blocks are being made. The paper will keep the bias on the outside edges from stretching the many times this block will be moved and handled.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Barbara's Garden Trellis

This first quilt for Gary is done except for the label.

I talked with Gary last night: he told me the quilters who are finishing up the piecing wanted to talk to the quilter he'd lined up to finish Barbara's last quilt. I know them and met with them this morning. It turns out they were totally, in fact joyfully relieved it was me. Like Norris, they were touched by Gary's story and want to see the quilt beautifully finished. I saw the blocks - they are gorgeous but will be challenging to quilt. They are already planning the label for Barbara's Flower Garden and are talking about asking Gary if they can enter it in the group category in the local guild show. I should have the quilt in a couple of weeks at most - you'll see it here when I do!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

an uncanny choice -

Norris and I went to a local quilt shop on Friday to pick out an appropriate fabric to bind the garden quilt by Gary's wife (we'll get her first name soon, for the labels). I had one fabric picked out, but last minute changed my mind to this one - without realizing which fabric line it came from -

Per the manufacturer's website:
  • Northcott is donating a portion of the purchase price for every yard we sell of selected collections to Breast Cancer Research. Participating collections will be identified by the Northcott's Quest for a Cure ™ logo.
I don't think I could have chosen more appropriately.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lincoln's Birthday

I grew up in the Land of Lincoln, where February 12th is a state holiday. So, after being influenced by two of the International Round Robin Group, I included a small picture of our 16th President in this Log Cabin block -

So thank you, Jo and Judy, for sharing photos of your blocks so I could create this small tribute to the Rail Splitter on Lincoln's Birthday. When I started quilting, I would never have imagined that people of different backgrounds living on the other side of the world would provide me with such rich sources of new ideas!

And this week, I also learned that if you want to photograph a square thing, you really should get your camera square to the thing. Cropping can help a bit.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Design Wall -- and two special quilts

Here's what's up on my design wall, in three parts. Unusual for me to be working on more than two things at a time -

The Civil War blocks placed side-by-side, in the order I have done them. This is not how they will go in the finished quilt.

This next picture shows two blocks that are the very beginnings of a quilt I'm making for our house. The little four patches are of silk charmeuse. The layout for this quilt is not decided. The only decision thus far is that this quilt will end up very different from you are seeing here.

Then, I have my ongoing "leaders and enders" project which I'm enjoying so much I'd rather just finish. But no, I'm trying to savor and spread out the fun of playing with these tiny pieces. This project started with a bundle of what would be called charm squares, except some fabric manufacturers have lately usurped the term, so that it unfortunately means something slightly different nowadays. This bundle is like the old meaning - a group of small cuts of fabrics, every one being from a different fabric. There are 40 of the squares, each precisely cut at 2x2 inches. Heather who lives in Australia sent them as a surprise gift! Heather is a new member of the International Round Robin group I've been participating in quilt-making challenges with for coming up on 6 years - (hard to believe it's been that long.)

Sorry the photo is blurry - I promise to make better ones next time. The fabrics are all Australian prints - from native florals to aboriginal designs. Possibly difficult to tell from the layout here, they will be simply framed and set in a 6x8 block quilt that will allow each little square to shine. The top row is starting to give the flavor. The large dark green square was necessary to make the layout even, and I will use it for quilting (big surprise there!) I have been looking at Australian animals to continue the theme. I might use a larger, more stylized version of one depicted in the larger gridded square that came with the 2 inch squares (upper right in the photo).

And finally, I have to write about this latest machine quilting project. Late last summer, Norris came home from a Fire Department mission telling me he might be in trouble. He had been talking with a fellow firefighter whose wife died of breast cancer a couple of years ago. Gary told Norris the story of how, as she was dying, she had it in mind to complete two more quilts for their grown sons. Cancer was already in her brain and she was losing her eyesight. Gary told of how she would sew pieces together then would ask him to tell her if her piecing was good enough. Those blocks are now in the hands of a local quilting bee to piece together into a quilt top. Norris had volunteered my machine quilting to finish the two quilts. Of course Norris was not in trouble: this family needs to see and use and love these quilts as the maker intended them to, so I'll happily do my part.

Last night Norris brought home the first one. This one had already been partially machine quilted on a domestic machine. Gary's wife had done a beautiful job basting the quilt layers together and had quite a bit of the lattice quilted. I'll be finishing up what she started there, and adding some feathers to the outer border and the floral square areas between the lattice. (The picture is showing the quilt sideways.)

Unlike when I was doing this for customers, this time I'll do the binding. I also want to make and attach a quilt label. Gary said he didn't think his wife made labels, but Norris was able to explain their value: his own family found quilts in the attic after his father's death that come from his side of the family, but the complete story of who made each one is possibly lost forever.

Gary is supposed to be getting the second quilt back after Valentine's Day. He accidentally sent another quilt - that one was completely hand-quilted and bound, but he decided to leave it with me so I can add a label to that one also.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


This week's block - this one's colors are a little heavier than my other blocks overall. I'll have to make other dark blocks like this but we have a long ways to go in a quilt of 52 different blocks.

It was interesting because it's a nine-patch block in an 8 inch size. I used templates I created in EQ to make sure I got those four-patches correctly sized.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kason and his new Quilt

Kason's Mom just sent us some great photos. My real problem was narrowing down the photos to just a few to post - they were really all great!