Saturday, March 26, 2011

Civil War Week 13 - Little Blue Basket

Hard to believe we're one fourth of the way done with this Civil War Block of the Week!

I cropped my photo and rotated it so the basket gets to be oriented basket-fashion.

I wanted to make sure my readers who aren't familiar with pieced basket blocks see the point.
And there were a lot of points.

Among the fabrics I selected for this project back in January was a tan/cream print showing a cat in a garden with a basket of flowers. I was not able to fussy cut it so the cat and the basket showed up together, so I nearly didn't use it for the block. But I liked how the spider web and bee would appear under the handle, so the cat was included after all. I like to think some great-great-grand niece or nephew will have fun finding these little pictures some day.

I appliqued the handle on entirely by machine - the inner line of stitching is hidden in the fold. For the outside edge, I used #100 dark blue silk thread and a tiny buttonhole stitch.

Those who know me well may have thought they heard me sigh upon opening this week's Civil War Block of the Week posting - I've never been a fan of pieced baskets. Now the rest of you are no doubt wondering, "But, didn't you make that Carolina Lily quilt with pieced flowers in baskets?" I did - a picture of the completed quilt can be seen at Norris' and my joint blog at the link: Lilies Quilts where you'll also see one of Dorry's two quilts from this project. (mine follows hers). I used different photos here than I did in that post.)

In truth, I've never been interested in quilts made from either pieced baskets or flowers. I made the quilt as my part in the international Round Robin group I have participated in for 6 years now. The group decided on the Carolina Lily and related blocks and we each made two blocks for each other. There are 5-6 other quilts (or quilts in progress) that resulted from that block exchange . The point of group projects like these is precisely to challenge ourselves to make quilts we would not ordinarily make.

I asked for blocks with different colored baskets and light colored backgrounds. This allowed me to design a quilt that left a lot of room for interesting quilted textures.

And then you might also be remembering the quilt called Reston -or three similar ones. I quilted four Restons. This was a Block of the Month project designed by Ann Weber, a pattern designer from the Reston chapter of the quilting guild I was a member of when I lived in Northern Virginia. These quilts hung together at the big show there last summer. Ann's website currently shows several of the quilts -including mine and Phyllis' that I quilted - and others made by other members - at this link.

As with the Lily quilt above, the point was to make a quilt I wouldn't ordinarily make. Again, the baskets provided places to play with quilting designs.

(click on the pictures to get a closer view of the quilting).

The Reston quilt is very special to me now - My mother helped me by doing all the applique prep for the 44 leaves and 64 berries on her last visit here in North Carolina. She was not feeling much like going places, but she could still thread a tiny needle and we shared many working hours sitting in front of the fireplace here. This may be my one and only completely hand-appliqued quilt.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Civil War Week 12 - Louisiana

I got a late start today, having to make a shopping trip to Waynesville some 45 minutes away on landscaping business. But I was able to stop in at a quilt shop as well, and bought a few fat quarters of fabric, one of which I used in this block -

This was a very easy block to cut and piece.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Little Australia

I finished this little quilt top earlier this week - just had to edit my photo size to show it to you

I'm not decided on who will inhabit the larger green square yet. Perhaps it will be a wombat. I like the name "wombat" and they are cute, in a groundhog sort of way. I think it will have to be an applique though, as at any distance, it will only appear to be a framed blank square.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Joyce's quilt - the center is complete

I have to post this so Joyce can see it will be waiting for her next time she comes for a visit.

As usual, you can click for a larger view - but it's also fun to look at the thumbnail of this one to appreciate all the work Niki and Joyce did getting those colors to flow.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

London Square

This week's block honors Fanny Kemble, an actress and writer from London who was influential in swaying the British away from supporting the new Confederacy -
(sorry - again my photo skills skew the block a bit.)

You may wonder why this block is called "London Square." In my Blockbase software, which is a digital version of Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, there is a single block shown in two colors, as well as this version:

Both versions have more of the small triangles in the block than the one used for this Civil War series, which was easier to piece at 8 inches.

The block looked familiar to me for good reason. I adapted the above design when I made a lap quilt for my sister-in-law Marla and her husband. I was still getting used to my quilting machine at the time and purchased a small pre-printed "whole cloth" to practice on, setting the whole cloth into a London Square and adding borders to make a larger quilt.

Here's Marla's quilt on display at the Quilter's Unlimited of Northern Virginia show, in June, 2006.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Flower Garden is quilted

I finished quilting Barbara's Flower Garden yesterday -

This next photo shows the quilting best - that is the happy result when you use a light colored, low contrast fabric for the backing, but it does mean the quilter has to be extremely careful when tying on and off. Barbara had marked the roses in the cornerstones in pencil, so I quilted those as she intended. Crosshatching the background was my idea - it's very traditional and mimics hand quilting, which we know Barbara did. Crosshatching is difficult and time consuming to accomplish on the longarm, but the pattern designer used a leafy vine in the green sashing. When I followed her lead with the leaves there to go with the little pre-marked roses, I wanted a design for the block backgrounds that uses straight lines. Straight lines make such a striking counterpoint to the curved lines of the flowers and leaves of both the setting pieces and the applique' of the blocks.

Although all the flowers had all been quilted to the batting by Barbara and the Firehouse Bee members who finished making the top, I had to quilt many of those lines again to adequately support the quilt backing. I used thin threads in about 10 colors so my lines would disappear on the front.

Just for completeness, here's a photo of the entire quilt -

The bee members are preparing to bind and put the label on this quilt.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lincoln's Platform

I always thought of this block as Churn Dash, but that's not one of the names Barbara Brackman mentioned in today's installment of the Civil War Block of the Week - she gave Monkey Wrench, Shoo-Fly and Hole in the Barn Door. I've heard of all those, but Lincoln's Platform was a new name for me.

In keeping with the story of Lincoln's First Inauguration on March 4th, 1861, I used my Lincoln Toile fabric and fussy cut a log cabin for the center focus square. Are you aware that there's a group centered in Bostic North Carolina collecting evidence that Lincoln was born in North Carolina, not Kentucky as we've always been taught? See this page for more on the story of Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks, having worked for a Western North Carolina family in Rutherford County, just south east of us in Buncombe County. The argument is pretty compelling and I haven't read anything to refute it.

I liked the idea of framing the log cabin with the directional blue stripe and my red with its interesting bias-oriented print for the triangles. I have a light blue floral print I chose for the background, but flipped it to the back side for better contrast with the stripe.

I looked at the EQ rotary cutting instructions for this nine-patch block at 8 inches and adjusted the sizes provided by a smidge here and there to get a perfect 8.5" result.