Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Quilting Year in Review and AHIQ Prompt 2020

"The hallmark of those countries and companies that continually thrive is that they continually reinvent themselves."
~ David Rothkopf

So long 2019. It's been a rough year for our family. How fortunate that my siblings and I get along so well. They are the best. With all that, you'd think I wouldn't have done much quilting and yet there are more finishes than ever {although the stash level hasn't dropped much.} How did that happen? Most of them are baby quilts - relatively quick, easy to quilt since there is less weight to manipulate, and a great way to use up extra bits.

Chinese Coins,
Scrap quilt combines leftover Chinese Coins with red, pink, and orange solids to make HSTs. A narrow turquoise inner border and a wider border printed with multicolored triangles finishes the quilt.
Scrap quilt using leftover Chinese Coins to make HSTs

Lone Stars,

Red, yellow, orange, and purple fabrics create a modern Lone Star set on a yellow background printed with large medallions. The navy border is printed with colorful geckos  and the corners are a red and orange batik.
Lone Star baby quilt

and Hourglasses featured heavily.

The colors of a wide variety of solid fabrics sweep across the surface of this quilt. Pink, orange, red, brown, blues, green, and yellow are included.
Hourglass quilt in solids

Parallel lines, spirals, and fans are my go to quilting designs. The first two use a walking foot but the fans are FMQ. Angela Walters' YouTube videos have given me many new designs to quilt and smaller quilts are the perfect playground. Fifteen baby quilts, two small collage quilts, and only two lap quilts.

After several years of declaring I'd start sewing clothing again it finally happened: three dresses and two shirts.

A dolman-sleeved dress in a large scale blue print next to an Aloha shirt printed with surfing Santas.
Examples of the clothing sewed in 2019
What's up for 2020? Several larger quilts that were set aside. Once the quilting is done on the Square Deal, I'd like to finish Tethys Waves and the star quilt but I also have more clothes in mind. Having a friend to sew with helps with clothing; we encourage each other and help with fitting. Hopefully I can leave more time for new projects like wall quilts or art quilts. Several of these ideas have been running around my brain for a few years. It's time to make the time to make them.

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 
Two finished baby quilts = 7.75 yds plus two yards donated for a monthly total of 9.75 yds. I only started tracking in October so the grand total for the past three months is 72 yds.

AHIQ Prompt 2020
Kaja and I email frequently - especially when a new prompt is due. Trying to remember all the previous prompts was difficult so we added a page just for them because we all get behind in our intentions or change our minds about a project or simply want to review the past. We've tossed several ideas around and decided some need more gestation. In the meanwhile I finished another hourglass quilt, this time for my niece, and am discovering several more ideas. Kaja commented that she'd like to explore those blocks, too. It seemed like a good prompt for the beginning of 2020.

Would you like to join us exploring Hourglass? While we are thinking of the simple block, it could have many other interpretations. That's part of the joy of improvisation. What does it mean to you?

Use the hashtag #AHIQhourglass so we can find your work and post it on the AdHoc blog. More details there.

Happy New Year!

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Back to the Square Deal

"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. 
I acted and behold, service was joy."
~ Rabindranath Tagore

When I saw Tula Pink's Free Fall extra wide on a trip it called to be made into a dress but without the pattern I couldn't calculate yardage. The store closed and that opportunity was lost. Finding the fabric online seemed like a sign but... It's printed at a much, much larger scale. Instead of kumquat-sized circles, these are grapefruit. Who needs a quilt back 108" wide but only 72" long? The mistake compounds - absolutely not a dress and not enough for a larger quilt either. It could be the back to several baby quilts.

Tethys Waves needs a back but this is much too short so I pulled out other quilt tops. According to my calculations it was just enough for the back of Square Deal but once pinned it came up an inch short. Grr. Fortunately there's loads of width left so I matched the design as best as I could, pinned and then glued it in place, then took the whole mess to the machine to sew the seam. Crazy but it worked {if you don't look at the birds closely because they are different angles.}

Pale blue sateen printed with five-inch olive green polka dots interspersed with a few flying swallows.
Large scale Tula Pink Free Fall fabric back

SID the sashing and borders was my first task {Hey, I remembered!} then I stitched the edge of the quilt to keep it from pleating during the FMQ.

Bernina 1240 is used to stitch in the ditch the sashing and borders of The Square Deal.
SID sashing, borders and sides of quilt

The dreaded thread color decision was next. I could use red to match the large HSTs, light blue to blend with the Coins, or nylon monofilament to cover it all. The blue looked terrible on the HSTs while the red wasn't quite as bad on the Coins {probably because of their variety} so that was the choice. You might have to enlarge the photo to see the threads crossing it. Let that be a lesson to us all; sometimes we create a bigger deal out of things than is called for. {I do this almost every time I choose thread. Sigh.}

Both thread colors are laid on the quilt top to choose which one works better.
Red or light blue quilting thread?

Because the back is light blue I tested that color in the bobbin. No threads are peaking through from the other side this time. Yea.

The quilting designs came from Angela Walters YouTube videos. While the wishbones are easier, I can't make the quilting travel easily so I'm going with the echoed lines although it involves more quilting and more time.

A plastic overlay is used to mark free motion petals, libbon candy, and parallel lines that might be used on The Square Deal quilt.
Three variations of a quilting design from Angela Walters

OTOH ribbon candy might look nice on the sashing and straight lines here will add good contrast. That's my story for now. We'll see what emerges.

Merry Christmas to all!

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Adding Flowers to Tethys Waves

"The danger is not that America will collapse into a Depression tomorrow... The danger is that the paralysis of the American political system - its inability to tackle any big multigenerational problem anymore - will just very slowly erode our strengths and assets as a society. We will slowly choke off immigration, slowly give up our commitment to free trade, slowly allow the budgets for research in science to decline, slowly let our public schools slide into mediocrity, and only slowly face up to our energy challenge."
Thomas L. Friedman
Hot, Flat, and Crowded, p20, 2008

Friends are a blessing. The blue striped yardage from Kaja that was used to bind the Froggy Star reminded me of Tethys Waves because it's in the same family of blues. There's enough to appliqué triangles over those gaping white triangles on the sides. But then... Thinking about the AHIQ flower challenge, a better solution presented itself. You guessed it. Flowers. A small bit of red batik scrunched under some larger pieces lurked in my stash. Ah, the joys of cleaning house... Well, at least of cleaning the sewing room.

Red batik flower petals with striped blue centers.
Half flower pinned on the sides

Can you tell I don't appliqué much? That's a lot of pins. But this time I wanted to see the result before sewing everything. See, this old dog can learn a new trick. After pinning three red petals and adding a blue center to one I can tell the idea works. It tones down the gaping white triangles while blending with the floral theme of the red squares.

The cream corners are filled with half flowers of red batik and blue centers.
Half flowers added to Ocean Waves

It's only eight half flowers. How long could it take? Knowing myself, much too long if handwork was involved. So these were blanket stitched by machine in matching thread. Done it a couple of hours.

Red and white print creates centers for an Ocean Waves quilt. The side triangles are filled with red batik half flowers with navy blue striped centers.
Tethys Waves quilt top with side flowers
Now to find a back. And consider whether or not to add a border. And figure out a quilting design that won't take the rest of my life.

Off the Bookshelf

The cover shows a blond woman in a ruby red Regency gown  looking over her shoulder. Fairy lights of glamour light up the background. I enjoyed the Lady Astronaut series so much I picked up Shades of Milk and Honey, too. It's the first of an older series by Mary Robinette Kowal set in Regency England with a small twist - magic exists. Threads of glamour can be pulled and twisted to created visible images. Young ladies of quality are expected to practice this talent along with painting and music.

Mary credits Jane Austen as her inspiration. While not as complex and deft as Jane's novels, it is an intriguing read that reminded me of Rick Riordan's first book, The Lightning Thief - another clever first book developing a coherent alternate world - that should improve throughout the series. Definitely worth the time.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Froggy Went a' Courting

"Quilts leave messages in signs and symbols."
~Kathy Doughty

This is absolutely the end of the stripe now sewn as the border. The top is quilted and bound. {No more sticking it back in the stash to age some more.} Instead of salamanders, this one features frogs. I finished the other first because it attracted me a bit more but I've changed my mind. This is my new favorite of the pair. Ha. How's that for fickle affection?

Blue, green, yellow, purple, orange, and red fabrics create a modern Lone Star set on a turquoise print background. The navy border is printed with colorful frogs and the corners are another blue print.
Lone Star quilt 9 with frog border

For the back there wasn't enough of any fabric that worked with the front so I sewed WOFs together... and it still came up short. One more narrow pale blue strip was added. If you ignore that strip it looks a bit like a flag, doesn't it?

My now standard spiral was the quilting choice. This time I held it properly so the result is wave-free. Easy peasy if I just remember to position my hands correctly.

Folded quilt shows part of the front and the background sewn of orange, medium blue, and pale blue print fabrics,
Four stripes make the back of this Lone Star quilt

Next up was binding. The top has lots of bright colors. For a while I tried to match/coordinate with one of them but none worked. Then I really looked at the border. At the outside is a dull navy; not at all expected but it makes the brights shine.

Taking that as an example, I pulled the last of the stripe with dull navies, greys, and reds from Kaja. Perfect. And I have an idea for the remnant, too. Fabrics are moving out of the stash and out the door.

A navy stripe homespun is used to bind this Lone Star quilt.
Binding detail on Lone Star quilt 9

Open, folded, or or simply tossed, this one looks cheery and bright.

What happy memories are sewn into this quilt. The frogs are an obvious sign {see quote above} but it holds deeper memories for me. This child especially loved to play at the creek, wandering miles up and down stream. He brought home loads of precious flotsam/junk every trip - from fossils to tadpoles to bits of pipe stuck in concrete. Lone Stars remind me of one house where my parents had a classic example on their bed. I snuggled under it next to Mother while we watched Wizard of Oz, pulling it over my eyes whenever the wicked witch appeared but keeping my ears open for Glinda. Oh, to have a dress like hers!

Folded quilt shows the front, back, and binding.
Lone Star quilt 9 detail

Quilt Specifics
Size: 38"x38"
Design: Lone Star
Batting: Pellon 100% cotton
Thread: Gutermann 50 wt light blue cotton
Quilting: Spiral with a walking foot
Approximate yardage: 3.75 yd

Off the Bookshelf
DD sent me Old Man's War by John Scalzi, telling me I would enjoy it. She was correct - as usual.
The cover shows a squadron of spacecraft flying to a white planet with red streaks.
Scalzi is a long-time blogger but this was his first science fiction novel; there are currently six in the series and I plan to read them all. At 75, people from Earth may enlist in the Colonial Defense Forces and leave Earth to fight aliens. No one knows how their bodies are enhanced but John Perry and his wife sign up anyway.

Scalzi writes confidently and clearly about what makes us human as well as mortality and life extension. He also begins addressing the ethics of war and humanity's inhumanity, concepts I expect to be developed as the series progresses. I've ordered the second book, The Ghost Brigade.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Reprise and Somebody Had Her Face Washed

This is the other baby-size top from that old nine-patch exchange. The tan is the same fabric as the center of the previous quilt but the blue and red are different. And all of these blues and red were used up making these two quilts. Yea!

It seemed like a good idea to practice my new FMQ skills again. I used the same design on the nine patches as the first quilt. The outer tans have a new-to-me dot-to-dot from Angela's video. The middle one had the same problem as the previous quilt - it needed a "centered" design. This one didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped but it was still good practice. The red and blue squares got figure eights this time but I rotated the design for the two colors. {Just for fun.} Thread on each of those squares had to be started and stopped but all the others traveled or ended in at the edge.

A scrap quilt with small nine-patches alternate with red, cadet blue, or tan solid squares are quilted with a variety of free motion designs.
Four-Patch Nine-Patch baby quilt 2 with quilting ideas from Angela Walters

I forgot to SID at the beginning so had to add it as a final step. Note to self: if you're going to SID, do it first.

The forest green back highlights the many free motion point-to-point quilting designs
Back of Four-Patch Nine-Patch baby quilt 2 with quilting ideas from Angela Walters

Despite a box full of solids, none of them worked for binding except a tan twill. Because it was a bit thicker than quilting cotton I wondered if it would work at all. I sewed the binding to the back first then pressed it - an important step to make the binding smooth. After folding the binding to the front and pinning every few inches, it was easy to sew close to the edge.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 40" x 40"
Design: Four-patch nine-patch
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: grey, red and blue Gutermann 50 wt cotton
Quilting: FMQ based on Angela Walters videos and walking foot SID
Approximate Yardage: 4 yd 

Clara has been bothering me quite a while because she looks like a tart. When I couldn't stand it any longer, I removed her heavy red triangles of blush and added two small peach hexagons instead. She still has false eyelashes and they will stay. The hussy!

The large, bright red triangles of blush on Clara's face are replaced with small, peach circles and give her a softer look.
Clara collage quilt with a facewash

I hope your Thanksgiving was as delightful as mine. Lots of family gathered together. My daughter suggested I purchase a Spiralizer apple peeler for the pies and crumbles. They are a lovely company out of Wyoming with great personal service. How did I manage all these years without it? We all took turns coring, slicing, and/or peeling the apples and potatoes. This little machine lets you pick and choose among these features plus it has an additional appliance that juliennes. I have a food processor but this little hand-turned machine works much more easily.

The red enameled Spiralizer has a long bright steel screw to push the apples through the peeling and slicing mechanism. The cardboard box is in the background.
Spiralizer apple and potato peeler

You know you're a Texan if you think Blue Bell makes the best ice cream. I hadn't been to Brenham since the children were in grade school. Things have changed.

A collage of three photos show a statue of the Blue Bell logo in the garden, the front of the creamery factory, and the ice cream store counter inside the building.
Blue Bell Creamery

The girl with her cow is printed on every carton so, of course, they commissioned it for their front lawn. The last time we visited, tour guides led us around to watch workers filling buckets with ice cream. Now we washed our hands before entering and were not allowed to bring food or drinks. The factory floor is much more automated and every worker is carefully garbed for safety. It still looks like a great place to work and the ice cream is delicious.

Family left in stages and almost everyone missed the weather delays. Now it's so quiet. Good thing I have some projects to keep me busy or I'd be crying.

Enjoy the day, Ann