Thursday, March 31, 2016

March Mumbles

"Diamond Down the Drain", 32"x32"

This is the red/green scrap quilt I was working on last month. The name refers to the pieced diamond just off left center and the spiral quilting. I used a lot of my red and green scraps but there's always more where they came from.

I used Crazy Mom Quilts instructions to make a Scrap Vortex quilt and her tutorial for spiral quilting. Here's a link to her blog with the instructions. That spiral quilting just about did me in but I love the effect!  Linda, at Flourishing Palms blog, has some tips for spiral quilting success too.
I've been wanting to try some simple walking foot machine quilting for some time and now that my arms are no longer aching, I'm glad I did the spiral quilting! 
During March I also bound my Mediterranean Hexagon quilt which was the result of a class I took with Kaffe Fassett at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. It will hang in my quilt guild's upcoming quilt show, Common Threads Regional Quilt Show, June 16-18, Wichita, KS.

 I asked my machine quilter, Jan Hutchison, to follow the lines of the flowers. I've lightened the photo so you might be able to see the quilting. Most of the fabric is Kaffe Collective but I especially like that I was able to use some thrift store Jinny Beyer fabric in the triangles.

 I decided I'd ignored Love Entwined (LE) quilt long enough! This is what Part 8 looked like on March 14. I finished the flowers in the pot on the right border and added some 1/8" circles in the pink flowers. They were definitely a challenge to make. Each of those yellow flower petals are less than 1/2" square! At this point I'm wishing I'd made those broderie perse.

 The green leaf wreath - kind of fun to applique.

 The pink and gold flowers and leaves (what are those things?) - its going to be a long time before I feel my inside curve applique is good. More green fried eggs! Do I sound excited?

My progress as of today - March 31. 
I feel like I've been stitching in slow motion but I just realized I've only been working on LE for the past two weeks. I was hoping to finish both the upper and lower part 8 borders by today but maybe my slow and steady applique progress isn't too bad after all!
Still no final color/fabric decision for the border between the zig zags. Today I'm leaning toward gold but tomorrow? I think when I'm finished with the part 8 & 9 borders I'll try out fabrics at the quilt shop until one speaks to me. 

My goal for April - finish part 8 and start part 9. Its interesting to me that the upper and lower borders are a different design than the two side borders.

Until next time, Mayleen

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

February Fumble

How is it possible that I didn't accomplish much during February, even with an extra day?

"A Light in the Window", 19 x 24", unfinished
 This was my color challenge project using only neutrals and 10% or less of an accent color. Also was supposed to be an "original" idea. Because I've always wanted to make a landscape quilt, that's what I chose. This has got to be my first ever neutral quilt and especially my first ever using the color peach.

This is what it looked like when I posted last month. I added two borders to make it larger and then let it take me wherever it wanted. I hope you can tell its supposed to be a snowy scene at daybreak.

As with almost all of my projects, it became more complicated. I embroidered more snow covered tree branches, a few rows of crops peeking out of snow, a farmhouse and hedgerow in the distance, a squirrel on one of the tree branches and a birds nest.

The title of the wall hanging is "A Light in the Window" which refers to my struggle with insomnia. You can see the light in the upper room of the appliqued farmhouse.

Here's the tree and if you look closely, the bird nest on one of the upper right hand branches. The trunk and branches are embroidered to look like bark.

Here's my chunky looking squirrel. He's obviously stored enough nuts to have a good winter. He was appliqued (fusible) but if I were to do this again, I'd probably just embroider him too. 

I'm not sure when or if I'll finish the wall hanging. I had hoped to embroider or quilt sleet/snow coming down. I enjoy hand quilting and embroidery but it wasn't long before my hands were painful and I had to stop. For now, the wall hanging is on my design wall.

You can only imagine how happy I was to learn our next challenge was to use Complimentary colors! I got started right away but a few weeks later, the decision was made to postpone our challenge until later due to everyone's commitments. Since I had finished piecing my quilt top and because I think I broke a few of the challenge rules, I'm going to reveal my project now and make a new project later.

Here's my starting point - red and green strips and scraps.

On my design wall. Unfortunately, Minnie, the pieced Christmas block and the white with red polka dot fabric did not make it into my project. However, there are cows and elephants.

I'm trying to learn a new skill with each project and this time its spiral machine quilting with a walking foot. This wall hanging might be called Wobbles and Bobbles because of my quilting! I've picked the stitching out once but not again. I'll share a finished photo and the details of my spiral machine quilting next time. This is really giving my shoulders and back a workout.

In other news, I'm still binding my Mediterranean Hexagon quilt (pictured last month) and should be ready to start stitching on its sleeve and label soon. When I decided to finish my 27 days of Quilty 365 circles, I discovered my circle template had melted into an oval shape! Time for a new template.

There is no shortage of quilt projects to work on around here.

Until next time, Mayleen

Monday, February 1, 2016

January Jumble

Prairie Quilt Guild's tradition is that the immediate Past President may ask the membership to make a quilt block of her choosing. She then puts together the quilt as a remembrance of guild members. I took a little different path and asked for orphan blocks. One guild member gave me all of these vintage quilt blocks!

It took a bit of pondering but I decided on a layout after carefully measuring and trimming the blocks. Yes, quite a few points got chopped off and nothing is even. Some of the blocks weren't the right size so I added an extra strip of fabric. Do you see my little mistake? I didn't calculate the correct amount for the inner spacer border and had to add a narrow purple and gray strip under the red border. I like it just as it is and someday will have it quilted with a Baptist Fan design.

I'm guessing most of the fabrics are from the '60's, the era I grew up. They remind me of my Grandma Goossen's aprons. She was a great influence in my life and I miss her very much. She liked to crochet and tat but I didn't know until after her death that she had also quilted for a short time. The quilt she made was used up and gone before I came along.

On to another subject, Quilty 365. I told myself I wasn't going to get involved with this but I did anyway. The idea, which I think is a great idea, is to make a block a day in 2016. Here's the link if you want to play along:

January 1 - I made a block
January 2 - I made a block
January 3 - I forgot to make a block
One day, I remember I was supposed to make a block a day so I make 5 more to catch up.
I forgot again and again and again.
I think I'm going to make and applique the circles for the rest of the background blocks, stitch the blocks together, add borders and call it something like "Twenty-seven days in Winter" (if I make it to 27). I'm anticipating my kids cleaning out my sewing room someday and wondering why 27 days?!?

What's this mess? These are the bits and pieces for Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery quilt, Allietare. I wasn't going to do this one either but I decided it would help me improve my piecing skills. Allietare is Italian for gladden, rejoice, become cheerful! 

For some reason, this project didn't have that effect on me and one day I decided my attitude would greatly improve if I put all the bits and pieces away. All the units are finished, some need trimming before they're sewn into blocks. I think I was just so disappointed with my piecing skills that I needed a break from this project. Maybe a quilt top will happen in the future.

I started working on Love Entwined again! Most of the little pieces in the flower arrangement are glue basted and waiting to be stitched. Do you see the red tulip on the left side of the pot of flowers? I got it all stitched down and realized the petals don't cover the stem, they just barely meet it. At first I thought I'd just applique a small circle at the base of the flower to cover my mistake but as time went on, I realized I'd always remember that it wasn't appliqued correctly. I made up my mind to take the flower completely apart and reposition it. 

However today at my Applique Group meeting, one of the ladies suggested that if I just move the lower red petals down I wouldn't have to take all those tiny petals off. Sometimes solutions are so obvious I don't recognize them!

Now this is totally different for me. I'm taking part in a color challenge and the first assignment is neutrals with only one (maybe two) accent colors. No patterns, has to be original work. Ordinarily, I would never choose gray and peach but it is a challenge so a challenge it will be. Its supposed to be finished in three weeks but I'm not even sure what finished will look like! Lots more work to do on it.

There's some play going on too! While in Houston at the International Quilt Festival last fall, I took two classes with Kaffe Fassett. This is one of the classes, Bright Squares from his book, Heritage Quilts. I haven't always followed the light, dark, light layout but I'm still playing and enjoying it.The colors are so much better in real life! 

I chose polka dots because, even though I seem to have quite a few polka dot fabrics, I rarely use them. Suddenly there seemed to be polka dot fabric in each quilt shop I went to and I ended up buying "a few more" fat quarters of fabric. Now I have more polka dot fabric than when I started!

One more row of three blocks to go and these are the squares I have left. At first I was going to use what I had left and discover new exciting color combinations. That's not working and I'm going to have to cut more. I was surprised which colors do not play well with others. I can't keep that bright yellow Aboriginal Dot from trying to steal the show.

Leftover squares are going to be made into a doll quilt for our granddaughter, Elizabeth. I hope she likes bright yellow and peach with pink polka dots!

 I'm learning how easy it is to make a Dresden Plate and what fabrics not to select.

Leo the Lion was delivered to our grandson, Ethan, during January. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a full photo of it. Just recently, the weather was 70 degrees where he lives so I don't know if he's able to enjoy this very warm quilt. However, winter's not over yet.

Mediterranean Hexagons was the other class I took from Kaffe Fassett and Liza Prior Lucy at Houston. Last week, it went to the machine quilter. Since she's going to be closing her customer machine quilting business, this will be the last quilt she quilts for me. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out! 

This quilt will hang in the Common Thread's quilt show this June. If you're anywhere near Wichita, Kansas June 16 - 18, please come to our show!

This is the backing of my Mediterranean Hexagon quilt. A little out of my comfort zone but I like it. How far would you drive for a certain kind of fabric? Unfortunately, my local quilt shop didn't carry a Kaffe fabric which would work for the Mediterranean Hexagon backing. I purchased "Brandon's Brocade" from Material Girl in Grand Island, Nebraska which was at least a 5 hour drive one way for us, regardless of what Google predicted. Its not what I thought I'd buy but its what the quilt needs.

That was January for me. It started out dreary but ended well. I had a finish, a few quilts put on hold but am looking forward to a finish or two in February!

Until next time, Mayleen

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Working on Leo

"Leo the Lion"
also known as Ethan's quilt

This minky quilt kit has been a challenge for me to make because I'm not used to working with minky and fur. Made several errors but I think its cute anyway! All that's left to do is the binding, some additional quilting and I see I forgot to stitch in his whiskers. Love that cute little tail!

This quilt is heavy - the pattern called for batting sandwiched between two layers of minky. It will be very warm and today warm is good. We're expecting mid day temperatures to be around 25 degrees today and together with the wind, Brrr.

Until next time, Mayleen

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Fabric Gift Bags

Finally, a little stitching for Christmas! This year I made fabric gift bags to hold our presents to our grandchildren. Sewing with Dr. Seuss, the Minions, Sesame Street and animal blocks fabric was a fun change for me. The bags are lined to make them a little more durable and are a little on the large side to make it easier to carry all their things home. A Grandma can hope, right?
More stitching, baking, and decorating to come!
Until next time, Mayleen

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Is it really December?

 My Christmas Cactus is blooming, probably its most impressive set of blooms since I received it from my mother several years ago! It was her plant so I don't know how old it is.

I'm doing a little Christmas baking. This recipe, Oma's Soft Cream Cookies, can be found at the blog: Mennonite Girls Can Cook. The recipe is similar to the one my grandmother made when I was growing up. These are nearly all gone as I took some to share at my guild's Christmas meeting yesterday.

I'm finding it hard to believe Christmas is just a few weeks away. Our high temperatures have been in the upper 60's lately. Very enjoyable for me (and the cats) but very unlike weather one would expect in December! Not complaining though, the cold temperatures are sure to come soon.

Another reason its so difficult to think of Christmas is our home reno projects. During Thanksgiving week, we stripped wallpaper, primed and painted and now we're having most of the windows in our house replaced. This required a little preparation and I was faced with clearing a path from the door of my sewing room to the window!

Maybe I will put up a few decorations after this week and bake some peppernuts too. And maybe I will even get to work on a quilting project again! Guess which room had its window replaced, curtains washed and put back to "normal" first? Priorities.

Until next time, Mayleen

Monday, November 30, 2015

You could even say, "It glows!"

Looks like I've been missing since before I went to Houston! Whoops.
When I got back I decided to finish one of my class projects, Mediterranean Hexagons taught by Kaffe Fassett and Liza Prior Lucy, so it wouldn't become another UFO. I have no idea why it took 3 weeks to finish the top but it did.  

I like these fabrics because of their saturated color and, of course, I like most reds and pinks! However, this much of them in one quilt is a little out of my comfort zone. If the top is a little out of my comfort zone, the backing - Brandon's Brocade - is way, way out of it! Showing the top to you now because I don't know when it will be quilted.

Its been difficult to motivate myself to work on my traditional projects again but after I finish a minky quilt (why does this scare me?), its back to my Love Entwined quilt.

Until next time, Mayleen