Friday, July 31, 2009

Thank you everyone, for the kind comments about my elephant. As I said, I'm fond of him, and of the handsome guys riding!

I've also finished and sent off these four little pieces to Alz quilts. Binding that many things in a row should be good practice for improving the binding, wouldn't you think? I'm not sure, but I did learn that the quarter-inch Evenfeed foot on the Janome has a little quarter-inch bar in the front so you can stop precisely a quarter inch from the corner. Wouldn't you think I'd have figured that out sooner? Duh!

I'm now working on a guild charity quilt. Aren't the colors and images on this Paddington fabric adorable? My goal on this quilt is to improve my free motion stitching, and so far, so good. I've been able to keep the curves fairly smooth, and the way the Janome runs with the start/stop button should help with the evenness of the stitching, if I can just BE PATIENT, and move at a steady speed. This is not easy for me.

Not too bad. I hope to finish today, and then more binding!

Monday, July 27, 2009

You Can See the Elephant Now...

Time to reveal my Hoffman Challenge entry:

From this:

to this:

I Dreamed of an Elephant 29 x 35

I really did dream of an elephant: Since paisleys are originally Indian, I looked through my art books for Indian designs, seeing if that would give me an idea for this fabric, but I had no success. A week or so later, I dreamed an elephant with trappings featuring this paisley tree design. This is a rather common Indian or Moghul motif; I'd put it in the subconscious memory file, and it popped out later. Deciding on a setting for my elephant was much harder. I combined two Dover book drawings to make the elephant and rider, drew the palanquin myself based on other designs and paintings, and then I was stuck. After lots of thinking and advice, I abandoned my original idea, and planned the arch based on Persian carpets in The Grammar of Ornament.

I enjoyed this project. No matter what the outcome, it's the first challenge I've made that doesn't feel wrong to me--not my style, not what I intended, not satisfactory. I missed it when it was gone!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Great Giveaway

Michelle of With Heart and Hands is giving away a copy of Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran's new book here. Her blog is terrific to visit even without the give-away. Go visit. A recent highlight is wonderful pictures of the Sisters, Oregon show.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Scattered Progress

Working in a very random order, I've made a little progress on the pieces I posted last time. There's a brighter version of the butterfly weed as well as the original, and both are quilted, ready for applique. I will only make one, and am trying to decide which one. The brighter one looks much better in the picture, but in reality, I'm not happy with the thread color I had on hand. Then there is a partially bound piece, another ready for binding, and this one ready to finish quilting. It looks better in a close-up. The butterfly does not. How I wish I were better at free motion quilting!

Monday, July 20, 2009

New Beginnings

Isn't it a good feeling to finish a big project? After I mailed the Hoffman and got the question of what to do with Refractions resolved, I felt as though shackles had come off my ankles. In a creative spurt, I sun painted fabric (without much success), and then I put together the beginnings of several little projects I hope to send to Alz Quilts. The wonky log cabin blocks are an attempt to re-create something I did once before but no longer have, and the others are beginnings of pieces that may be interesting or may not be.

But this is my favorite.

I picked a piece of butterfly weed from the wild area beside the house, scanned it using the back of my streaky sun dyes as a background, and printed it on fabric. My idea was to use this as the home for one of Debra's butterflies, but I'm not sure it's bright enough. I can increase the color saturation and try again, or I can see what stitching does to this one. I haven't decided yet. For now, I love it the way it is.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fun and Not Fun

In addition to quilting, I have been staining the deck rail. Our deck was showing its age, and after one of those long husband/wife philosophical differences which I never win, my husband replaced the floor himself instead of hiring a contractor. Six weeks later, it is almost ready to be used again. (Six weeks is actually a bit under my original estimate.) My only role in this was helping to stain the rail (not new). I have spent three hours for four mornings, but it is essentially done. The weather was perfect for these days, so I'm not really complaining except that my hands hurt from gripping a paint brush.

Yesterday afternoon I fastened, buried, and clipped many thread ends on the blue piece, and it is now ready to be blocked and bound. But rather than do that, I finished the afternoon by beginning to tame this

into this--blocks for a strippy guild charity quilt.

It felt so good to do something simple and fast after being so painstaking for so long. I hope to continue this project later today. There are plenty of strips left!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thank You

Libby Fife, The Quilted Craftsman, sent me this wonderful card she stamped in honor of my finishing my Hoffman. Her beautifully detailed elephant puts mine to shame, but then, look how much prettier that paisley is than the challenge fabric! Thanks, Libby. This will have a place of honor on my bulletin board of hand made cards.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Over a year ago I stuffed this piece into a bag and put it way on top of my storage space. It was pieced, almost quilted, and partially embellished when I decided I hated it. (Notice all those dangling quilting threads to be buried.) A week or so I got it out again, and decided maybe it wasn't hopeless. After consultation and thought, I made the round circle irregular like the others. (I made it round in the first place after thought and consultation also. So it goes.)

This was not an easy fix. I ripped out the quilting stitches, took off the applique circle, remade it so that it is irregular, which meant piecing more blocks, took out the squares underneath where the circle had been, and appliqued the new shape on, trying to match the edges of the new blocks with the seam lines. Now I have to match up the quilting lines and re-quilt, which means there will be even more ends to fasten and bury. I also put some more blocks with blue into the large gold shape on the upper right, but that was relatively easy. There were leftover blocks to use, and I'll just quilt over the old quilting without removing it since the space is so small.

I don't recommend this kind of fix. Ironically, this piece was one of the most carefully planned ones I've made. However, there is an almost infinite way to arrange those little blocks, and that was where the trouble began.

Next steps: finish the quilting, do a bit more embellishment, and bind. We'll see if this was worth it. I'm still not sure, but at least I don't cringe when I see it anymore.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

This and That

Dr. Jekyll...

and Mr. Hyde.

And in fiber content, the ribbon centers are finished. Hooray!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Prize Ribbons

I'm again making the center medallion for prize ribbons to be given at our guild show. This year I'm paper piecing a block to be formed around the cardboard circle, and then surrounded by a rosette of the fabric shown with fabric and ribbon streamers. There will be eighteen medallions in all, three for each of the five categories and three special ribbons. Given my feeling about paper piecing, this qualifies as chore sewing. My goal is to get this done early next week and turn to something else. I'm still tweaking the fabric choices and the best way to make a smooth edge. Neither one of these is quite ready for prime time.

I tried Dritz Wash Away foundation paper for this project. It washes away beautifully, but causes some puckering. That might be less of a problem in a larger block where the seams make up a smaller percentage of the total area. Puckering or not, it sure beats tearing away little bits of paper! I'd recommend it.

Happy Fourth, everybody. If I had a sample of the white ribbon done, wouldn't that be patriotic?