Thursday, July 22, 2010

Next Door Neighbor

My "Next Door Neighbor" quilt is complete, binding and all. It was on my UFO list - one of my older projects.
Here is a close-up where you can see the quilting a little also. Paisley Flower is the quilting design, but it blends in mostly with this quilt.
And, always, the back. This backing reminds me of the first time I did "backart". I made a quilt for my sister (when I hand-quilted even) and we had taken a class from Roberta Horton at Houston International Festival. She had showed us pieced-backs and so I tried it. Think I put three fabrics, similar to this. I was really stepping out of the box then in the late 80s. I really like interesting backs of quilts, even if it's just pieced as opposed to using something you don't like. Just adds something special to the quilt!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Charm Squares

Do you sometimes just want to 'kit up' a quilt to have your fabrics ready to sew? Even when you already have other UFO projects to do or quilts ready for quilting, you just want to gather some fabrics together and 'design' another new quilt. Well, I do, because that is one of my favorite parts, putting the fabrics together! This color scheme was brought together by two charm packs that I have on hand. The packs are similar in color so I think they'll work well together.
I recently received this book, Color Shuffle, by Karla Alexander as a birthday gift (it was on my wish list). As I thumbed through it, I found a quilt in the very back of the book which used the charm packs or 5" squares. Since I have two packs which total 80 squares, I thought I'd found the pefect project for them. I was not really thinking how many more I'd need to make 280 blocks but that's okay, I had plenty of stash to pull from.
Here are just a few of the 5" squares in the packs. I chose approximately 15 to 20 fabrics that blended with the charm squares and began cutting strips 5" wide and then cutting again into my squares. When I got finished, I was still lacking 85 squares so I was back into the stash to pull more.
Here you can see some 5" stacks cut. Next to it are some 'leftover' pieces which I just automatically cut into strips. Generally I now cut 2.5" strips since they are the jellyroll size and then I just make up my own jellyrolls. As you probably know, there are many books out there to 'help us' use those. I have a bin for 2.5" strips, 2" strips and Mixed Strips which take any that are not the above designated. They are great for string, log cabin or many other scrap quilts.
So, three hours later, here are all my 5" squares neatly stacked, ready to be recut into square in a square blocks, four patch and then some will just be left whole. Now my "kit" is all ready for me to sew when I get ready!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Next Door Neighbor - UFO

I began working on another UFO this week called Next Door Neighbor. I have learned some interesting things by doing this. First of all, I don't think I ever want to use this half-square triangle technique again. Now don't get me wrong, it is VERY accurate, makes perfect HSTs, but it just seems to take too long and there is more prep work than I care to do to keep from having to sew them on the bias.
Another problem may be that I pulled this UFO out of my project box and realized it was begun in 1998. I didn't even live in this city then and I've been here almost 11 years. A friend and I taught the technique to our guild but I never finished my quilt. So here it sat, half the blocks made and lots of HSTs still to be cut with a bias square ruler and sewn together. I was determined not to let these pretty fabrics go to waste so continued on. It's a small throw size or baby quilt and will go to a charity project.
I pieced the back with 3 different fabrics and will hopefully get it quilted later this week but I just wanted to share for the hours I spent working on it. I learned that you really DON'T have to finish every project you ever began. 12 years later it was not fun and I just wanted to finish it. I'm glad I did but I will be thinking more carefully about which projects I spend my time on now, especially UFOs.
Years ago a friend, Ille, cleaned out her fabric/quilting/magazine stash and was able to clean out a lot of unused fabrics and items. I could not imagine doing that at the time but I realized later that I could. It was actually freeing when I donated yards and yards of fabric and even partially made quilt tops that I knew I would never make. I did end up making a quilt with 23 UFO blocks and class samples that became a really fun quilt - I'll have to take a photo and share it soon, too. That was before I had a digital camera. I have enough other blocks to do that again and was more exciting than adding to each existing project.
Last Monday I really did FINISH my Lollypop Trees quilt top. I will be purchasing my backing fabric soon and make it become a quilt! 2 1/2 years in the making as I do not hurry my applique.
There are 16 blocks - these are just the bottom rows. It is a cheerful and happy quilt to me! The pattern is available at Glorious Color and is by Kim McLean.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Garden Blooms

And how does your garden grow? Mine grows more in fabrics in my quilts than in the garden. I saw this quilt at Intown Quilters in Decatur, Ga, last spring, bought the fabrics and cut all the pieces out. However, I just got it made and checked off my UFO list.
Here is a close-up.
I did not have a large piece of fabric for the backing and I did have a fair amount of fabric left over from the kit so I added some to it and made a nice colorful back, certainly a good way to help in my stashbusting!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lollypop Trees Coming Together

I have been working on the borders and sashing of my Lollypop Trees for over a week now. June is usually a slow month for longarm quilting so it gives me a chance to put in extra hours for my own quilts which is nice. I had to cut 600+ squares for the borders and sashing on this quilt.
It was fun going back through all the colorful fabrics I used and then separating them out so I could get my squares in order. Think there is about 75 rectangles in the border going between all those baby blocks I saved til last.

Here are the border rows being put together on my design wall. Then sewing, then being sure these hundreds of squares will line up properly and the seam allowances will butt up against each other for a flat quilt. Oh, yes, and then I had to decide, will I SID (stitch in ditch) in the lollypop blocks? That adds another dimension to the pressing because pressing against all those seam allowances is not near as easy as pressing towards the background fabric, but, I decided I wanted a defined line so I pressed towards the sashing and squares.
Here I have pieces hanging all around my room - even on the longarm bars. It is a fascinating quilt to me, though, and the colors and fabrics and very simple shapes are what drew me to it. Such easy needle-turn applique!!
Here are some blocks displayed as they are being sewn together. Maybe in a week I'll have the top completed, but I'm going to need a simple quilt project to work on for a while after this.