Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Bordering Plan and AHIQ December 2016

As several people noted there's not enough fabric to extend onto all sides. The solution is to use different borders. Thanks for all the great comments on my previous post; they gave me several ideas for incorporating different borders and adding applique.

Julie reminded me of Susan McCord string pieced leaves border on Barbara Brackman's blog. Love the graceful way she incorporated the leaves and vine.  Sue Nickel's New York State of Mind has three different borders. There's another I've been considering that combines zig zag and applique borders. I thought it was Freddy Moran's quilt but can't find it online or in my books.

I measured then measured again but no more fabric appeared. With the narrow chartreuse inner border the quilt now measures 63" by 75". Because there are two different birds, the toile cut into two 6.5" borders: the first is 84" {two strips} while the other is 124" {three strips.} They will fill one short and one long side.

The blue gingham could be cut into three 10" strips but only 129" or four 7" strips that are 172". The final choice was four strips because it's the only way to fit the final two sides.

Here's what it looks like laid on the kitchen floor. Quieter than I realized.

Spiderweb quilt with blue borders
Next is to decide which border extends to the edges - the applique or the toile.

As usual lately, this is not the most improvisational quilt. However, I had visions for the border but didn't have enough fabric to carry it through. On to Plan B which is turning out better than the original idea. That's my bit of improv.

With the bird toile attached, I'm considering appliqued birds on the blue gingham. Another adjustment since my first idea was vine with leaves. Second was adding flowers. I'm working much more slowly than normal because of the holidays, diffidence about my applique abilities, or actually thinking about the results. Not sure what proportion each is playing.

Kaja and I have plans to start quarterly improvisational challenges next year. We hope quarterly will allow more time for all of us to complete other, personal work but frequent enough to see progress on improvisational topics. Check us out next month for all the details!

Enjoy the day, Ann

InLinkz removed because it was hacked.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


Posting year end reviews of my quilts and making public lists for the future has never been an activity I use. However...

The titles of my former pages haven't fit my work for the last few years {and the pictures became increasingly misaligned} so I created annual pages. That's where I really looked at this year's finishes. Comparing my output with my plans highlights some serious discrepancies. They don't match what I thought I'd done this year. Although starting with improvisational quilts, it segued to scrap quilts. Nothing wrong with that; I love scrap quilting. But not what I intended. Also, individual pieces are much more rectangular while my intention was to make curved designs.

In 2014 I worked to finish or donate old quilt tops and blocks. That effort was mostly successful but there's a whole new stack of tops and UFOs this year. Here's where improv and curved piecing stopped. Many of the curved/improv pieces are unfinished. My life turned upside down early this year and when I returned to quilting all I could do was the comforting scrap style most familiar to me.
Quilt tops and blocks in progress 
What are my plan for 2017?
1. Finish what I've started.
  • I didn't clear out the old projects just to store a new set.
2. Work more slowly.
  • I'll only start another quilt as each is finished so I may as well have all possible fun.
  • Edit: This does not mean one quilt at a time. I mean I don't want to rush each quilt to completion and I want to be more purposeful about making sure each quilt has a complete story rather than a quick finish. 
3. Consider ways to combine scrap with improvisation. 
  • Improvisation means developing my own ideas and/or building off thoughts or things I see. My quilts are designed to be useful and useable. Combining multiple fabrics from multiple sources is the way I work. I've tried other methods but they don't interest me for long.
4. Continue curved piecing and working with triangles. 
  • Incorporating free-hand cutting will be one way to keep this going.
While I contemplate how to actualize the plan, I also want to incorporate more thoughtfulness into AHIQ. Kaja and I want it to be a locus for improvisational and utility quilts. A good idea, but it seems to need more than just a linky party. I want to include ideas for quarterly study. This will take more thought.


Our final 2016 AHIQ link up is this coming Tuesday. Hope to see you and your work there.

Happy Holidays!

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Bordering Issues

Time to work on my Spiderweb quilt again. It's been sitting for a year already. My plan was to create an applique vine... using only yardage on hand. Although I rarely applique, it always attracts me. Some of my earliest quilts were appliqued. But that was years ago.

Lack of practice increased my hesitation; however, Audrey at Quilty Folk creates such attractive work I made a vow to try again. She suggested six to ten inches for appliqué borders. Any more narrow and it's hard to have curves in the vines. In my case, nine inches sounds best. After all, it can always be cut down but very difficult to weave more fabric together.

I pulled several fabrics in light blues. This micro gingham is my favorite. With less than two yards it won't extend to all sides. In fact, it will only finish two sides with six-inch borders.

This mottled sky fabric looked great in the stash but slightly off color when next to other fabric. That's exactly why it has been in storage. Perhaps it would improve if combined with some others.

Free Spirit made this newer toile with leaves and birds. There are two different rows of birds which might cover three sides but... no appliqué.

Testing bird print toile as a border.

I decided to cut the toile and pin it against the spiderwebs. Even if it's not used here, this would be the cutting width for anything else. Maybe.
An inner border improves things. This pink string from my scrap bag is too wide. {Good thing. That's all there is.}

Eventually I tried some lighter fabrics. These are two yardages from the stash {as opposed to scrap strings.} Using lighter colors for the inner border might emphasize an applique vine. {Even though the toile stands in for the outer border, I'm still trying to figure out how to applique a vine.

Making haste slowly.

Enjoy the day,

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Final Strings

Only twenty-six string blocks remain of those I sewed in January. Twenty-five will make a baby quilt although I'm not sure anyone will want this. One block is blue {which I won't use} but the others are black, white and brown.

Here's what evolved.
Black, brown, and white string quilt
Black, brown, and white baby quilt
On one hand, it's handsome {perhaps.} On the other, not the most cheerful baby colors. If it were larger I could easily give it as a man's lap quilt. But it's not. Nor am I planning to enlarge it.

Someone will want it some day.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Finish with an Easy Quilting Design

I finished the blue string quilt. These certainly are quick, easy quilts for toddlers. Not much to them; perfect for playtime, games, and spills.

Paper pieced string quilt in all shades of blue
Blue string toddler quilt
The binding is the light green I planned {and then discarded} for the green string quilt. It complements the bits of green in the strings.

Simple back of blue string quilt
A simple back. Of course, there wasn't enough of the larger piece but I had this eighth-yard remnant to finish it off.

Quilting and binding details of Blue String toddler quilt
Finally, a close up of the quilting and binding. I eyeballed 1.5" spacing between narrow rows that mimic flat-fell seams on jeans. The idea came from the sashing of this old t-shirt quilt.

Quilt Details
Size: 40" x 48"
Design: String quilt on paper foundation
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: DMC fine embroidery blue cotton
Quilting: Walking foot on a domestic machine

Enjoy the day,

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Vacation, Strings, and Kaleidoscope of Butterflies Dec 2016

I didn't expect to find any butterflies this month but QS (QuiltingSister) sent this adorable pin from her vacation through Utah. These represent some of the same butterflies that make it to the California coast in January.

In the meanwhile, our family celebrated four birthdays and one wedding anniversary with a long-planned trip. The perfect {temporary} escape from political turmoil.

Disney's Animal Kingdom has an African bird habitat chock full of colorful species like this purple starling. He has one bright yellow eye while the other is black.

Purple starlings have one yellow eye and one black eye.
Purple Starling, Disney Animal Kingdom
The Golden Weaver entertained us for a good half-hour building his coconut-shaped nest on one of these extremely large leaves. Don't you love these shades of green and yellow as the light hits shines through the leaves? I was also struck by the analogous color scheme of each of these birds.

Golden Weaver, Disney Animal Kingdom
Disney displayed several Imagineer sketchbooks from a trip to Africa at Tiffins Restaurant. I couldn't decide which was my favorite. While I loved the watercolors, I was equally drawn to the quicker pencil sketches with notes. Tiffins decorated the walls with enlargements of some of these pages. I wanted to wander through them like a gallery but restrained myself so others could enjoy their meal. {Darn my mother for insisting on polite table manners.}
Sketches of baobab tree and African wildlife
Imagineer Sketchbooks, Tiffins Restaurant, Disney Animal Kingdom
Jane LaFazio does similar work with her collages. Perhaps many painters combine words with their work.

On a regular {non-netted} trail this tiger swallowtail posed for several minutes with wings wide open. Show off! Guests took turns snapping photos as he obligingly remained in place, unlike the shyer fellow in California.

Tiger swallowtail butterfly, Disney Animal Kingdom
As a young girl I enjoyed reading Swiss Family Robinson so I climbed their treehouse at Magic Kingdom. This lovely Odd Fellow's quilt graced on one of the beds. {Sorry. It was after sunset when the photo was snapped.} Who'd have expected to find a quilt at an amusement park?

Odd Fellow's quilt, Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, Magic Kingdom
More string blocks awaited our return. These blues range from icy white to darkest navy but I wasn't sure how well it would look without a secondary color. Turns out the aqua and green strip used in so many blocks pumps up the quilt.

Blue String quilt
There was one leftover block from this set. And, the original light green binding from the green string might work here. Lucky me if that's the case.

Enjoy the day, Ann

InLinkz removed because it was hacked.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Red String Blocks and AHIQ Linkup

What improvising or utility quilting have you done this month? I'm still working on the string blocks.

The red set was difficult for me to lay out. First, there weren't enough to complete a toddler quilt so I added the remaining yellow blocks. I'd previously used many of the yellows so these are gold to brown.

Quilt blocks composed of strips of red fabric or yellow fabric.
Red and yellow string quilt
Here are four possible layouts I considered. They all use the exact same blocks. No leftovers. I find it particularly interesting how block placement affects the vibrancy of the quilt.
Possible layouts for the red/yellow string quilt
  • Top left: The light peach blocks are dispersed and this quilt is too dark for me.
  • Top right: Putting the peach blocks in the lower right divides the top into dark on top, light on bottom. No spark or transition.
  • Lower left: I like the peach X and the way the yellows seem minimized. This arrangement was my second choice.
  • Lower right: The peach diamond is too light for the center of this top but gave me the idea for the final arrangement.
Fun and games!

Enjoy the day, Ann

InLinkz removed because it was hacked.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Green String Toddler Quilt

For once, an easy finish. The stash of presewn blocks made this a quick job. I laid the blocks out and sewed them up in one afternoon. Small tops take very little quilting time. I channel quilted on the diagonal using the walking foot and casually spacing about the width of that foot. With this design, it's important to keep the quilt square with your hands or it can warp into a diamond.
Green String toddler quilt
Continuing my vow not to save fabric for a {possible but unspecified} future use, these two made a delightful back. The yellow moons with lilies have always made me smile.

Back of Green String toddler quilt
Originally I cut some light green binding but didn't like it. When I added it to the little box of leftover binding I found lots of green remnants. They work much better for me. The purple dot is the last of an apron made two years ago for my dear sister who's passed away. It's a cherished memento.

Binding and quilting detail on green string toddler quilt
Off to my darling grandson this week.

Quilt Details
Size: 40" x 48"
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Gutterman green cotton
Quilting: Walking foot on a domestic machine

The next AHIQ linkup is the coming Tuesday. What utility or improvisational quilting do you have to share?

This Thanksgiving I hope we all consider how we can share our many blessings with others.

Enjoy the day,

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Remember Those String Blocks?

At the end of last year I sewed all my scrap strips into string blocks by color. Later a few {the softest and sweetest} went into this yellow and white baby quilt. The others gathered dust until this week. I'm on a recurring binge to clear out my sewing room so they definitely needed to be moved along.

Not only that but I've been informed the darling grandson needs "lots of quilts." A couple of months ago I was not to send any. My, how things change. Not that I'm complaining.

To keep it simple I laid the blocks out by color. There were almost enough greens for a toddler quilt; just two short. Fortunately there were only two purple blocks and they fit right in.  The red squares are absolutely the last bit of strip piecing left from my Watermelon quilt. Originally it was planned as the inner border but didn't work. I also used some on this improvisational quilt.

I'm reposting the photo of the finished Round Robin Improv here. Do you see a bit of this same paper piecing?

Improv Round Robin
It's across the bottom on both sides. Isn't it great to find uses for discarded work?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, November 12, 2016

T-Shirt Quilt Finished

This quilt is finally done and in the mail. Wow. It's taken longer than any other t-shirt quilt I've made. {Guess I'm out of practice.}

She wanted many t-shirts incorporated. They each represent an important memory. After choosing the twelve main blocks she then selected 20 pocket logos for posts. Did you notice the lower left block is actually two t-shirts sewn together?

University of Arkansas and Alpha Omega Pi t-shirts framed in light prints, sashed with red.
Megan t-shirt quilt
Text bites and images from  the remaining shirts and leftovers from shirts already used were scattered across the surface and machine appliqued with matching thread or invisible nylon. These are usually placed in bare areas of the larger blocks and extend into the sashing. Two of them are actual pockets cut so the pocket still works. With so many layers, both sewing and quilting must be slow and careful.

And look at the binding. It's an older 30's reproduction plaid on point that I loved but never used. I think it goes very well with both front and back. Who'd have thought? {I love mixing styles unexpectedly.}

Megan's t-shirt quilt, detail of binding, backing and free-motion quilting
 Quilting the border seemed daunting originally. How would I highlight the huge circles. I worried too much. It's a combination of spirals with echos to get to a new area. I used purple thread. The pink and blue threads were too severe on alternate colors. Purple blends pink and blue; perhaps that's why it worked here.

Border folded to half circle
We considered cutting the binding at half and three-quarters of the circles by the simple expedient of folding the border back.

Border folded to 3/4 of the circles
The half circles may be my favorite but overall, the border seems too narrow for the quilt. The partial circle is neither here nor there.

Quilt Details
Size: 77" x 96"
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Various cotton, Metler neon polyester, YLI invisible nylon
Quilting: Walking foot and free motion on a domestic machine

Enjoy the day,

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Free Motion Quilting Designs

The narrow frame around the t-shirts needs quilting designs so I decided to practice a different one in each. The stitching doesn't show much from the front so these photos are from the back. I'm not sure it's any more visible.

These easier ones started it off: loops, hearts, Greek key, and leafy vine.
Designs of loops, hearts, Greek key, and leaves in free-motion quilting
First set of linear free motion quilting designs
There are also some s-curves and circles on the black fabrics. Then I was running out of ideas but remembered Lori Kennedy's blog. I chose to attempt {with varying amounts of success} mistletoe, daisies (with too many petals), basic bow, and paper clip (which looks more like a spiral.)
Second  set of linear free motion quilting designs
This was a good place to try out so many different designs. None of them really show but I entertained myself. Now to finish the wide red sashing and the outer border.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Progress on the T-Shirt Quilt

Three possible quilt backs
Although I haven't written about it for a couple of weeks I'm still working on the t-shirt quilt. Of these three backs, M chose the zigzag pattern. (Pink is her favorite color - as if you couldn't tell.)

Next step is to pin baste - probably my least favorite part. As usual this involves moving folding tables, digging out pins and clamps, pressing front and back and letting the batting relax. It's so tightly cramped in the bags there are lots of creases.

My tables are long but narrow so I move the quilt package several times while basting. I used to pin on the floor but can't do that anymore. Weird late night colors.

Pinning the quilt
Then I ditch stitched the seam lines. I worry that the mixture of knit and woven may cause the seams to ravel. Also it helps consolidate smaller sections to quilt.

Now to fill it all in.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Crazy Quilted Box and Kaleidoscope of Butterflies Linkup

What a treat! Lisa Boni taught a workshop to our guild last week about crazy quilting these tiny boxes. This gifted teacher hails from Colorado and blogs at Ivory Blush Roses. She showed several years of her work during her lecture and pointed out how it has improved. That gives me hope perseverance will help mine, too.

I've followed her blog for a few years because always enjoy her work (as well as her paintings) and her generosity in sharing details of it. However, I seriously doubt I will ever make an entire crazy quilt. That's a benefit of this workshop; it only takes a day or two to complete. With holidays on the horizon, I plan to make several for friends and family this year.

Red and pink silks form the crazy quilting base. Lisa Boni workshop.
My first Crazy Quilted Box
These little boxes started as Altoid tins. {I've been saving them for a year and have a huge supply.} Lisa's kit (which was optional) included templates, cardboard, felt and all the thread, beads, and ribbons needed for the project. She gave us thorough handouts of steps involved in completing the boxes and answered all questions as we worked.

Red and pink silks form the crazy quilting base. Lisa Boni workshop.
Side view of Crazy Quilted Box
By the end of the day mine was almost ready to glue together. {I'd gotten a bit chatty during class.} I glued it the next day. Now I realize I should have put a butterfly on the work instead of that starburst. Next time!

The hummingbirds have flown south. A few winter over but haven't come by my house yet. The butterflies are gone, too. My milkweed has seeded. All in all, winter is coming. And since I finished the latest kaleidoscope, I haven't started another. What have you been up to?

Enjoy the day, Ann

InLinkz removed because it was hacked.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Folded Star Quilt Finished

Making a public goal got this quilt done. It's in the mail. Hooray! There was no more of any of these fabrics. A remnant of another green made the binding. In fact, there wasn't quite enough so I added a slightly different shade visible at the bottom left if you look carefully enough.

Quilt of solid colored fabric of greens, peach, red, purple, navy and grey
Folded Star quilt
Last week I showed a photo of the spirals without the echo rows. Here it is again with echo quilting which makes the spiral stand out better. {The Ad Hoc Improv Quilting link is still open on that post. Kaja and I would love for you to join our study/discovery of utility and improvisational quilts.}

Detail, Folded Star quilt
Just another detail of the quilting. I wish I'd used grey fabric where the navy triangles are.

The center was quilted with a walking foot by eyeballing the width. The navy and grey areas are FMQ. Playing with curls, hearts, bubbles and stipple. I did mark the spine of the feathers in the outer border.
Detail, Folded Star quilt

Quilt Details
Size: 40" x 40"
Pattern: Folded Star by Cristy Fincher
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Various embroidery and sewing-weight cotton
Quilting: Walking foot and free motion on a domestic machine

DH took me with him to a meeting in Pennsylvania so I spent a perfect day at Valley Forge. It was so warm; several locals were on the grounds reading and sunning. They must know winter is coming.

This is the Potts' home that George Washington rented at Valley Forge. The front door is almost a dog-trot; when open, air blows straight through it and out the back door. (Texas pioneers built homes with a wide open hallway down the middle to cool their houses.)

Valley Forge headquarters of George Washington
Here are some details of the rooms.

I watched Hamilton's America on PBS this weekend and was surprised to see so many places I've visited. Several were from Valley Forge. They seemed to be standing exactly where I took my photos! The program mixed parts of the Broadway musical Hamilton with background visits to various museums and historic sites. I thought I'd be disappointed that it wasn't the entire musical but the program was excellent. Hope you saw it or have a chance to see it... and the musical!

I'm dusting off my copy of The Federalist Papers to reread. These essays written by Hamilton, Madison and John Jay urged Americans to ratify our proposed Constitution and are still used to interpret the original intent of that document.
Rooms inside Washington's Valley Forge home
Ten to twelve enlisted men lived in cabins like this that have been reconstructed throughout the Park. Love the split rail fence.

Log Cabin for enlisted men at Valley Forge
The National Memorial Arch was built in 1910 and finished during WWI. Chiseled in it is Washington's tribute to his troops: Naked and starving as they are we cannot enough admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiery.

National Memorial Arch, Valley Forge PA
Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

AHIQ Linkup October 2016 and Quilting Spirals

Between this small quilt and the t-shirt quilt I haven't started any improv this month. But the quilting design has free-hand aspects. After some ditch quilting with a walking foot, I decided to quilt spirals on the inner border.

Why? Because the thread is a bit heavier and tends to knot up if you change directions in a point. Spirals have no sharp points for knots to form.
Free motion spirals without echo quilting
I used a glass to mark circles. This keep the spirals reasonable spaced. But it still takes practice to maintain spacing during the inward and outward spin.

A glass makes a good template for spiral placement
Adding a line of echo stitching on each side of the spiral will fill out this border.

Enjoy the day, Ann

InLinkz removed because it was hacked.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

T-shirt Quilt Top Finished

There wasn't a single fabric that could frame all the t-shirts so I used a variety. Although each post is a pocket label - twenty of them - there were still more. They are scattered across the top along with other sections from the shirts.

Center of t-shirt quilt sewed
Then I sewed the border. I cut the fabric to include the entire circle but am considering cutting it partway off. I just need to maintain the proportion of the overall quilt.

University of Arkansas and Alpha Omega Pi t-shirts framed in light prints, sashed with red.
Partial view of t-shirt quilt with borders
My tenure as program chair is finished but still looking forward to Lisa Boni's lecture and workshop next week. I plan to make several Christmas presents using her design to decorate Altoid tin boxes.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Starting Another T-Shirt Quilt

The desire for t-shirt quilts never dies. A friend wants one from her college shirts and I finally have time to start. Because her college and sorority colors are cardinal red and black or white I first pulled the two fabrics on the left. Although I like the multi-colored floral, it dies against black so the heart-printed paisley will be the sashing.

Sashing fabric possibilities on the left. Border, sash, frame choices on the right.
M. has so many pocket t-shirt prints I decided to use them as posts. They all finished 4-inches. That meant the sashing had to be wider than normal {for me.} And that caused the shirts to start fading into all that sashing. So I added a frame around the shirts. Problem solved.

The blue circles create a fun border.

Preliminary layout for this t-shirt quilt
Coming along!

We travelled through Phoenix recently and had time to visit a small National Park Service museum at their airport. Now I want to see more of Arizona's stunning parks and monuments.

Among the artifacts was this cast of Smilosuchus gregorii, the top aquatic predator of his day (220-230 mya.) Just as impressive to me was the woven textile by Walnut Canyon cliff dwellers in the 1100s. So intriguing to see some of their pottery designs woven into this piece.

Enjoy the day, Ann