Monday, November 6, 2017

Marvelous Mini Revisited

or I should say, remade... and then some.

To refresh, the image below is how I set my Marvelous Mini blocks a few weeks ago. In my previous post I confessed a change of heart, resulting in my turning around and picking it apart a few days later.

I really wanted to love this quilt.  But the more I looked at it, the more I knew it wasn't ever going to happen. I found myself frowning instead of smiling whenever I looked at it, and more and more I had the inclination to just stuff it in a drawer.

Something had to change. This quilt should be all about the blocks, but they sort of get lost as rendered above. Instead of standing out, the blocks seem to sink behind the sashing, especially the red. Even the border fabric - pretty as it its - competes with the blocks.

My friend Pam and I worked on these quilts at the same time, and I rushed to complete mine (my excuse, btw) so we could do show-and-tell with our quilt group. When Pam held her quilt up, it took my breath away. She set her blocks in a simple, dark blue print, all the same. Very simple, very gorgeous. I knew immediately that's what I wanted to do with mine.

After picking it apart, I took all the pieces to my quilt retreat over the weekend, bent on reworking it with my new chosen fabrics.

Much better, don't you think?

The narrow dark blue sashing does a way better job of defining the blocks, even considering the fact that the outer "logs" are of varying value, many of them dark. Some of them disappear into the sashing, but I think that's ok.  It adds interest, and keeps the eye moving. The printed border makes it appear as if the blocks are floating in space. With this rendition, the viewer's attention is definitely drawn to the blocks themselves. Which is as it should be, imho. 

Now on to the rejected floral border and stripe. I still think is a brilliant combo and and an ideal setting solution for something, and I believe I had the perfect idea what to do with it. 

I pulled colors from the border fabric - basically, browns, reds and greens, for sampler blocks. About half of these came from Lori Smith's book Fat Quarter Quilting, the rest from other sources, including a few from my brain. See, now these blocks let the borders etc. know who's boss!

Speaking of brain, mine didn't register the fact that the replacement sampler blocks were actually a half inch larger than the Mini blocks (I thought they were both 4" duh... ) and because I didn't have any more of the stripe sashing fabric, I had to go with fewer blocks. But I think it works better with the twelve blocks anyway, don't you?

With that done, I decided to attack my carton of  1" strips left over from the mini's. I thought maybe a little Log Cabin doll quilt would be a neat idea.

Not sure l'm done with this yet. Maybe I'll applique a big black crow on it somewhere, and call it "primitive" (insert winkie face) !

Anyway, I had a great quilt retreat, and all in all I think I did pretty good! 


Monday, October 23, 2017

a slight adjustment (ahem...)

Recognize this?

Its my Marvelous Mini framework, missing the blocks.

 What happened, you may ask. Well, here's what it comes down to.

This was definitely a "process" quilt, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of making these darling little blocks. I also enjoyed picking "just the right fabrics" (or so I thought) for the setting. Unfortunately, the more I looked at it once it was all sewn together, the less happy I was with the resulting top. Don't get me wrong, I love the blocks, and I love the setting. I just don't think they belong together. I think those tiny little 2" blocks just got lost.

So while slogging through episode 3 of Ken Burns' Vietnam War the other night, I went about slowly picking the the whole thing apart.

Yeah, I know. I'm insane. But there it is.

Anxious to move ahead, or backwards as it may seem, I went back to my audition pix and really like how the blocks pop out on a more solid color. Then I fished around and came up with this idea.

This is just pieces of fabric slapped together, but you get the picture.

I have a quilt retreat coming up in a couple weeks, so will have time to do some fine tuning, and do the cutting and sewing.  Also give it time to marinate, in case I change my mind again.

 Meanwhile, I have some ideas of what I want to fill those holes with. One thing, they will be four inch blocks, not two inch with scrappy borders. (not that there's anything wrong with that, ha ha) Probably sampler-style, probably reds and browns.

So that's what's on my design wall today.

Check out what others have on their walls on Judy's blog, Design Wall Monday.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Marvelous Mini Flimsy

I sewed along with Temecula Quilt Company's Marvelous Mini Mondays, and I just now got my top sewn together.

I made all the pieced blocks, but fewer postage stamp blocks and none of the "plain" blocks. Good thing, as it is, I barely had enough of my chosen fabric for the vertical sashing, which I had to piece, and also squeaked by on the borders.

Will go ahead now and link up with Judy's Design Wall Monday.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Spray Basting on the Garage Door

I'm sure there are lots of opinions on whether or not one should even use the stuff (basting spray).  However I believe when you plan on doing an all-over curvy quilting design where pins would get in the way, spray basting presents a handy option. I do feel it must be done outdoors. But have you ever tried to tape a quilt back to concrete? Not easy, nor is manipulating the layers once you've sprayed.

So.. one sleepless night, I spent a few hours surfing the internet and Youtube, trying to find a better way. I eventually came across this technique , which  I think its brilliant!

I first tried it over the weekend on my Rail Fence quilt, as you can see above. Its amazingly fast and easy. One tip I'll add is that I placed a little rubber bumper in the middle of the garage door, as a placement guide for my layers. Then all you have to do is find the exact center of each layer (back, batting, top) and make sure the centers are over that dot as you layer. No guessing, and is crucial especially when your backing piece ends up being barely big enough, as is often the case with me.

On to the quilting. I used one of my favorite patterns, the large arcs, which are like an oversized, random Baptist Fan. Easy, with a walking foot. And dense enough to give a wonderful crinkle after washing and drying in the dryer.

I was able to use a little wider arc on the plaid quilt, about 1 1/8", and only two "fans", which made this one even faster. I love how they turned out.

Now, what about this crazy weather! It was oppressively hot over the weekend here, with temps above 100 three days in a row, topping out at 111 on Saturday. This was in Watsonville, which is on the Monterey Bay, on the Central Coast of California, where people who live inland come to cool off! It was actually hotter here than most of those inland cities. Very strange, and a bit scary. 

None of the houses here have actual air conditioning, because it "never gets that hot" here. We do top100 from time to time, but "it always cools down at night" - another constant that never happened last weekend. It never got below 65, so the house never cooled down. My "air conditioning" consisted of a small fan in front of the window in my sewing room, which I had pointed directly on my face as I was working, about two feet away. My tiny little oasis in a sea of sweltering heat.

I'm happy to say its cooled down to a muggy mid-70's this week. But you know I can't complain too much, at least we're not in the line of any major fires, or hurricanes. Keeping fingers crossed on that ....

My heart and thoughts are with the thousands of folks being burned out, blown out, or flooded out by these devastating events. Not to mention the wildlife, and loss of habitat. I pray for relief, all the way around.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Temecula Mini's

Today Sheryl posted her layout for her Marvelous Mini's, which I've been sewing along with the past few months. I'm pretty much caught up with the blocks, so I started auditioning fabrics for the setting strips. Here's what I've looked at so far. Maybe you can help me make up my mind!

This is the first fabric I auditioned, and I loved it right away! Trouble is, I don't think I have enough. Maybe if I used it for the vertical stripes, and something else for the horizontal strips.

At first I thought this was boring, but its starting to grow on me. And I definitely have enough for the sashing, and a border. I'd want to add a second, more interesting border tho, and maybe some cornerstones.

This works - the blocks definitely pop - but maybe too much?  I think its probably too light.

Whew! Busy. Looks like a carnival. Kinda cool, though ...

Paisley for the vertical and dots for across? Hmmm....

And then there's my old standby, denim. I'd have to jazz it up a bit, with cornerstones and an interesting border.

Well there you have it. This is what's going on, on my design wall today. What do you think??


oops... almost forgot to link up with Judy's Design Wall Monday!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Another Vet Quilt

I'm sort of on a roll with these right now. For one thing, I'm on a mission to reduce the bulk of my stash, with the hope that I can free up some space in my sewing room. Chipping away at my stacks of fabric has actually helped .. somewhat. Of course all those strips I've been cutting have to go somewhere in the meantime, which means filling yet another bin which I have to find a spot for. Its like a Chinese puzzle. Or, robbing Peter to pay Paul. And then what do I go and do? I just ordered four new cuts of backing fabric, because they will be "perfect for Vet quilts" ! And so it goes.

Anyway, after finishing one of the Rail Fence tops yesterday, I started rummaging around for a bin I might be able to empty (for the strips) and ended up going through one labeled "UFO's, random blocks, and leftovers". One bag was leftovers from a couple of plaid quilts - well several, actually, as leftovers from the first one went into the second one which went into the third... and on down the line like that. Three or four plaid quilts later, I still had a bag of leftover blocks and scraps. This morning I started playing around with them, and came up with this:

Here's how it all got started.
I don't have a picture of the original plaid quilt, but it was a Bento Box which I made for my nephew just about ten years ago. Far be it from me to figure out my yardage and cutting ahead of time, and apparently can't count while I sew either, so I ended up with four 12" Bento Boxes left over, a few partial BB's, and about a hundred more 3" strips than I needed. Into the leftover box they went, where they languished for a few years.

Then another project (later? earlier? I can't recall) where I reduced the pattern and made a small wall hanging for myself, and somehow ended up with four 6" Bento Boxes leftover.

Fast forward to a couple years ago, I needed to make a quilt for another nephew. I turned most of the leftover 3" strips into four-patches, sewed them into a top, then cut an additional bunch of 5 1/2" squares for a couple of borders.

Davey's Quilt
I got a great quilt out of it, but now I ended up with a leftover stack of 5 1/2" squares, several four-patches, and a handful of random strips, which went back into the bin.

Which were almost entirely consumed by today's plaid quilt.


This is about as close to improv as I will ever get. I did fall back on my friend Claire's "Scrap Strategies" which are very inspiring, and helpful to a linear, stay-within-the-lines quilt maker such as myself. No doubt Claire would have come up with a much more artistic arrangement, but I think this one will do OK. 

This new quilt will most likely go to my guild's Quilters for Hospice group, and through the "We Honor Vet's" hospice program, will be given to a veteran currently in hospice care. Hopefully the quilts we give them will live on with their families, and bring them comfort and memories of their loved one.

At any rate, I consider today's scrap-busting exercise a success, resulting in a fun, interesting quilt, made entirely of leftover blocks and scraps. btw even the black inner border came out of my leftover binding box!
Here's all that remains of the plaid scraps...

...which I can now turn into triangle squares, log-cabin strips, and four-patches.



Monday, August 21, 2017

More Stash Busting

I've been working on cutting my (mostly "less loved") fabric into 1 1/2" and 2 1/2" strips, with the idea in mind to make scrappy lap quilts for the wounded vets. We're getting ready to take a big load of quilts and books to the VA hospital in Palo Alto this week, and I'm proud to have made several of them this time around.

On to the sewing! The obvious choice with the 1 1/2" strips would be a Log Cabin, so I went ahead and made one of those a few weeks ago. (pic etc. to follow)

This week I decided I'd like to try a Rail Fence quilt. This idea was inspired by one of Kathie Holland's quilts, a rather large Rail Fence, using 5" blocks, which was featured in the August 2011 APQ Magazine, and in fact graces the cover of that issue.

taken in natural light, true to color

The way they're constructed and arranged gives a "basket weave" look - very cool!

Kathie suggests a very slick and efficient way of constructing many blocks at the same time, by sewing five long strips together then cutting them into blocks. Unfortunately, my strips were all kinds of varying lengths so that method didn't work so well for me. I ended up cutting my oddball strips into 5 1/2" lengths, then going from there. Still, I made dozens of these blocks in a very short period of time!

By last night, I had more than doubled the above.

taken last night in artifical light, which warms it up quite a bit

I toyed with the idea of putting the blocks all together for a single large throw, but then.... where was that quilt going to live? No room for it here, and too big for a Vet Quilt (they're very specific at the VA). So I'll most likely make a few more blocks and turn them into two Vet Quilts. Much easier to handle (and find backs for) and so satisfying to give them to our injured soldiers. Meanwhile, I'm liking the idea of a scrappy 2" border to reign it all in.

Back to those "unloved" fabrics. Funny, they look so much prettier once I cut them into small strips! Another thing I noticed is, the quilt gains more than a bit of life from the whites and (relatively) brights, especially the pinks and yellows, usually shunned in my normal fabric selection. Hmm.. am I learning something here?

the Log Cabin

The Log Cabin looks quite lively, don't you think? Hopefully will cheer and delight whoever receives it. Its densely quilted, with a flannel back, so nice and crinkly/snuggly.

Another thing I learned from making this particular quilt is that (my MANY) mistakes (cringe! ha ha) don't show up in the overall look of the quilt. Thank god, LOL!!

Another thing I noticed while cutting strips are the many fabrics in my stash of very small scale - which I normally find uninteresting - but are ideal for making teeny-tiny blocks, such as the TQC Marvelous Mini's I'm also working on. If I had it to start over again, I might zero in on some of those, instead of trying to make sense of my "precious gems" that often lose their character when cut so small.

Anyway... enough for now. Time to link up with Judy's "Design Wall Monday" before it turns into Tuesday!


ps Does anyone have any tips on how to post from an ipad? I can't find a way to access my pictures for the post. For now I have to email the picture to myself, then go from there. Very inconvenient.