Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Final Week - 53 Union Shield

This week's block is one that Barbara Brackman designed for this project. She explained that during the era, shields would have been appliqued. Perhaps she got too many complaints about applique, because she gave us a pieced shield to make.

She recommended a starry blue fabric for the upper portion of the design, but I didn't have a suitable one. I did have my Lincoln toile though! Since I only used him in a small strip in the Log Cabin block back in February, he was not quite given the place of honor he needed for a quilt by a quilter born in Illinois, made for family still living there. Here I get to use the entire Lincoln and the wreath that surrounds him.

I redrew the block at 9 inches in EQ to make it simple to make an uneven number of stripes, then I printed it at 8 inches for paper piecing. Staying with the florals I started this project with, I'm happier with my block that I thought I would be when I first saw the design.

And that concludes the blocks for the Civil War Block of the Week/2011. I'll be posting more pictures as I work on the quilt for Roger and Laurie in the coming weeks. One of the blocks will not fit in my 52-block layout. I thought I knew which one would be left out, but now I'm not sure. Decisions will come when I see how I like the blocks with the sashing and cornerstones.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Joyce's Quilt - update

I managed to get the next phase of Joyce's quilt top pieced even with too much help from Moki. The quilt-in-progress was last seen when I was in Chicago for Roger and Laurie's wedding. At that time, I got one corner put together while Joyce worked out the layout for the color gradation with help from her daughter Niki. To keep their work intact, I brought it home with all the pieces pinned to a sheet.

Even though the pieces looked beautiful, there's something more special when you get them sewn together. This view is turned 90 degrees from how Joyce intends to use it.

Lily is proving she's a cat - I laid this out on the bed first and she was there, then I brought it downstairs and she was was in the photos here as well.

Now it's up to Joyce (currently on a cruise vacation with her family) to decide on the border fabrics so I can finish this up! Her last quilt had a gradation of blues for an inner border about three inches wide, and solid black to drape over the edge of the bed. We used Vicki's black-white gradation for those triangle insets - and a red-blue one supplemented all the fabrics we had for the pieced colored areas. So Joyce may be able to find something she likes in Vicki's shop for that border.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Week 52 - Christmas Star

Happily, this block was slightly modified to make it very nice to piece at 8 inches.

Barbara Brackman gives several other names for this block, among them Wedding Ring. Since this quilt is to be Roger and Laurie's wedding gift from Norris and me, I didn't worry about the Christmas coloring. I put the red color in the center because I had the right size rose motif to feature there.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dorry's Mystery Quilt

I quilted this Mystery Quilt for Dorry a couple of weeks ago - It arrived at her house today, so I can post photos.

Here's the concept of a mystery quilt: A leader instructs the participants to gather up a certain amount of fabrics using some formula - but without describing or showing them the design they are making. They only know approximately what size the finished quilt will be. The leader then doles out instructions and the quilters just have to start cutting and assembling fabric pieces with very little idea of how this is going to turn out. Dorry's came out very pretty!

Here's a closeup of the piecing and quilting - the stars have a sort of fish-hook based design. I was inspired by some Maori carving art Dorry shared with me.

Keeping that theme, I used a photo of a Maori tattooed arm for the border design.

Here's the back where the overall quilting scheme stands out.

Monday, December 19, 2011


I didn't think of anything original to call this quilt, so the label says it is "Winter Trees."

I was very happy with the way the quilting came out. Here are some closeups of the stitching on the silk areas. I used a variety of leaf designs and backgrounds.

On the left in the above photo is an Ann Bright design and on the right is a stencil. All the pieced blocks are stitched with the freehand wavy diagonal lines visible around the silk pieces in these closeups.

The design below is adapted from a pantograph. I really like the freehand vertical lines - they were fast and easy so I'll use that idea again.

This fern is also a stencil design. Our kitten Lily tried to help and one of the leaves is misshapen, but I left it that way in her honor.

These oak leaves and acorns came from a book of quilting designs that I was given by a friend who was retiring and downsizing.

Here are a few more pantographs and stand alone designs.

The design on the pale blue-green below was freehand tree-trunks and with leaves and little broken-off branches. On the right is a portion of a pantograph I designed using leaves I picked up outside and more freehand leaves, large and small.

There - photos of most of the silk areas. My main goal with this quilt was to quilt on larger pieces of silk. I used silk thread. It turns out the shiny silk fabric made quilting extremely easy even with the nearly invisible silk thread. My eye could so readily follow my previous stitching lines, which is not always the case, particularly on prints. Even prints that read as solids can pose problems that the satiny silk did not. But you would not want to make mistakes and have to rip out much: If you snag satin, it would certainly show. I only had to remove stitches once or twice when I ran out of bobbin thread and wanted to take the stitching line back to a less conspicuous area of the design for the join.

Each silk piece was backed with a very sheer fusible interfacing to make construction easier. I was a little afraid it would reduce the impact of the quilting, as it did make a difference in the hand of the silk. Happily, whatever it did, the quilting still stands out.

I used two layers of batting, with a polyester batt on top of a cotton batt pieced from remnants. The poly helps with the pouf, as does the second layer. To help the quilt lie flat after all the quilting and finishing, I steam my quilts. I steamed the front side, where the poly is first - it did not help at all and the quilt was very wavy and would have been embarrassing to show hanging up. Steaming the back side where the cotton batting is made all the difference, though it could use a little more work -- I was anxious to see the finished product and hung it up before the quilt was completely cool and dry!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Week 51 - New York

Who would have thought this block would be called "New York?"

Well, my photo appears a bit skewed. I didn't have the right shaped piece of any fabric with stars on navy - Actually I may never have bought star prints of any color for my quilts. Happily, my joint projects with Joyce left me with a single strip of these stars on navy, so I decided to paper piece the block with the star in the corner. I drafted it at 9 inches in EQ, then printed it to finish at 8 inches. In my haste, I forgot EQ does not automatically print the templates in reverse and started merrily piecing. I didn't realize my error until I was ready to put the stripes together. Since I had to pick out some short-stitch-length seams and put it back together I see there's room for improvement in my seam matching. But I'll wait to see how I feel about that in the morning.

As with the Peterson's star, it bothered me that the bottom stripe is not red and there were going to be an even number of stripes. Therefore, I chose my brown and white printed fabric for that stripe so it's less white. Makes me happier this way anyway.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Week 50 - Grapes of Wrath

This week's inspiration was Julia Ward Howe's lyrics for The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Since we all love the hymn with its stirring words, this block must go in the quilt (I'll be dropping one block because there are 53 Saturdays this year, and my layout uses 52 blocks.) Since I'm not using purple for this quilt, I decided I could use the music-themed navy blue print I used once before to remind myself the block is about the song.

(I rotated my block in software to orient the basket correctly.)

Since I am not crazy about basket blocks, I went all out and made the more complicated version, courtesy of EQ and Blockbase. Yeah, making the harder version makes no sense at all. And my fabric choices probably don't seem right to a traditional eye. Both times I found this in my references, it was illustrated with a light-colored fabric where I used the brown on white print. I worried that a light fabric there would just look like holes in the basket of grapes, so I picked a busier light. I figured there were supposed to be leaves someplace in the basket, but I couldn't figure out where they might go. Still, I chose to add my seldom-selected green fabric here for that reason.

I think next time I would be smarter, and would cut and piece the many half-square triangle elements oversized and then cut them down for greater accuracy. Cutting to 1-16th of an inch is really not my thing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Blue-eyed kitten - blue yarn

So what am I knitting now? It's a large throw that is going to take a while longer than a sweater. I started it at the same time as the fingerless-mitts I showed recently.

A few weeks ago, little Lily could not leave the ball of yarn alone - even digging in the project bag to pull it out and start trotting away with it. So the mitts were completed while very little was accomplished on the throw. The mitt yarn did not seem to create the attractive nuisance this one does, and the smaller project was easier to hide away.

But Lily can sit next to the yarn now and leave it alone. You can't see her eyes in this lighting, but she will look very pretty on this throw.

And I know any cat would love it - they like quilts, but fuzzier wooly things are even better.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Week 49 Yankee Puzzle

I wouldn't have thought of the brown and pink color scheme for Yankee Puzzle - I might have chosen a red and blue one, but we were supplied with the idea of pink and brown, so I made mine pink and brown.

A nice and easy block this week.