Monday, March 28, 2011

Start of a new quilt

I am two blocks into my new quilt.  This one is taking me into an area that needs alot of work on my part.  I have hand appliqued a few items here and there, but have never felt very confident at it.  So far I have been having lots of fun with this one, and I have inspired several ladies to get their hand applique skills out of moth balls and start stitching.

These blocks are from a book by Susan McKelvey and it is call Baltimore's Country Cousins.  An online group that I am a member has a forum for this project.  The kickoff for the first block was a week ago, and I already have two blocks done.  I have to admit, I was halfway done with my first block before the bell rang.  I was practicing and started with the first block, which was not the first block for the group.  I did not want to start more than one block at a time, so I did finish my first block before I picked up the first block for the group.

The Four Feeding Birds was the first block in the book, which was the first block for me.  I started to get a little frustrated with the center because of the inward points, but a friend suggested that on that type of piece I could stitch a dryer sheet on the back and clip and turn, then hand applique it down.  This worked so nicely... I could be coerced into doing the whole quilt this way.  Only the center of this block has that "cheater backing" on it.  You can feel it has more stability when you touch it, but it looks pretty much the same as the rest to just look at it.

Crossed Hearts was the first one for the group.  I modified mine a little, and I think it gives it a little more character than the simple one in the book.  The author of the book suggested that some additional hearts be added.

I will be giving guidance to a few ladies from two quilt groups I belong to, and already I have learned some new techniques, and we haven't really started yet.  Next week I will be driving the bus to a quilt shop in Kerrville with lots of these ladies.  I will help them find the tools and fabric they will need for this big adventure we will begin in earnest once we are all properly outfitted.  They are all quilters, but for many, hand applique has not been something they have done recently.  I'm trying to get a few blocks ahead so I will have more gotchas to share with them when they start.  Today I got copies made of the enlarged patterns.  Most have bought the book, but the patterns in the book will only make 12" blocks if not enlarged.  12" blocks would mean the detail is that much more intricate.  We need to try to make this one doable so we don't have too many dropping out because they can't get it looking good.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Windy March is half gone

It sure has been windy lately, but then I guess it is not uncommon to have windy days in March.  Spring is really here... I have blue bonnets in my back yard.  They started popping up about 10 days ago.  I'm thinking it's early, but I'm still pretty new in these parts... so what do I know.  I haven't taken any pictures of the blue bonnets yet because I'm expecting them to grow bigger and there was a whole lot more of them last year.  They are very dependent on the weather.  It is very dry and has been for quite some time, so I don't think that is good for the spring wild flowers. This year I guess I won't be finding any photos to compare with last year's blue bonnets.
I have been very busy, but that is not uncommon lately.  I have been trying to get some projects done, so that requires work time not time on the computer. 

I had a request for feathers on a quilt for a friend.  Not just feathers, but kind of swirled in opposite directions.  I'm getting better at feathers, but I still have a long way to go to be good at it.  I completed this quilt and she was very happy.

I finished another project that is actually in a totally different category.  The quilt was an antique quilt that had been pieced and quilted by hand and was in pretty poor shape.  I had the task of repairing the quilt.  It seems the lady's Dad was the one who did most of the work on the quilt... but he was given the original quilt to finish and after putting the pieces together, he put a backing on the quilt and hand quilted it.  She wants to be able to have the quilt out to show others in her father's memory, but it was falling apart.  I do not typically repair old quilts, but I agreed to give it a shot.  I used a soft fusible backing to stabilize some of the worst areas and it helped to be able to keep some of the original fabric that had really deteriorated.  Overall the quilt repair turned out pretty nice.

On the home front I got my new cupboards put in my laundry room/entry way.  I have had open shelves in there for a while, and I have been wanting cupboards.  When we decide to do something... we can get it done.  We bought unfinished cabinets yesterday.  One is a tall one and the other is counter height with a formica top.  Well today is Wednesday and they are installed, stained and already filled up.  I'm a happy camper.  The wooden shelf unit that we took out of the entryway has found a new home in our bedroom.  Another task I got done on Monday was repotting some of my house plants.  That isn't such a big thing, but I haven't done it for about 5 years.  My plants are very happy.

Back to one more quilt.  In January when we went to visit our son and his wife, I showed my DIL how to make a really cool block that is made from 5 pieces of a layer cake.  It has three seams and ends up a 20" block.  You can have a good size quilt real quick.  She has a hectic schedule so I told her I would take it home and finish the quilt for her.  I found some really great fabric for the borders in my stash.  I got another chance to practice my feathers. 

I have lots of quilts waiting to be quilted, but I also have lots of other projects waiting, so it may be a while before I get back here again.  I just got several friends interested in doing a hand applique quilt.  Not one quilt, but each will make their own.  I will have to be their mentor on this one I think... after all I did talk them into giving it a try.  I have no one to blame but myself.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One step away from new quilt on bed

I have worked on this Farmers' Wife Sampler quilt for a very long time.  I started it back in July and finished the number of blocks I needed for the layout I chose by the end of December.  The first two months of this year have been very busy, so getting the blocks put together with the other elements that compose the top has been a challenge.  I think I finished the flying geese units in one week's time though... that's what happens when you get close to the end of a project.   The flying geese units were paper pieced, as were all the blocks.  The flying geese units consisted of 6 geese and each unit was 9" long.  I don't know how I did it, but I did not have to adjust the size of any of the geese to get the borders to turn out right.  It required 40 units for the border.  I would shudder to think how long it would take to complete 240 flying geese by any other method.

Today I was able to display my finished quilt on a new pulley system we set up between the garage and the house which enables me to hang a whole quilt and be able to back up enough to get the complete picture.  Of course the wind was blowing today, and the sun was causing a shadow of the garage roof line, but I like how the pictures turned out.  There is a metal pole that is attached to the pulley ropes on both sides and I made a sleeve that I can slide onto the pole and pin the quilt to the sleeve and pull it up into position.  Of course this quilt is quite large compared to the size of most of the quilts I will be taking pictures of, but it did require some thought on how to get it hung to show the whole quilt.  This quilt has the ropes pulled up to their limit, and I doubt I will need to hang a larger quilt... at least not any time soon.

This is a close up of one border edge.  I know I have posted other pictures, but I did not have the last outside strip to finish off the flying geese border.  My original plan did not include flying geese, but after auditioning a short strip next to the finished center, I knew that I had found the right border for this quilt.  In case it is not clear, the sky part of the flying geese is the same fabric as I used for the setting triangles.  The fabric for the sashing strips and the red framing borders on the blocks both have a gold thread weaving through the design.  This definitely takes it out of the 1920 time frame that the FWS book was designed around... but that's OK, I love the way all the fabric choices work together.

It has been a long project.  I did not work on it continuously, but I tried to get two or three blocks done each time I sat down to work on it.  The actual Famers' Wife Sampler blocks only number 63 in this quilt.  In the layouts in the book, most use all 111 blocks.  I like how the blocks stand out more as individuals with setting triangles between instead of another block.  It has a different effect, and may not qualify as an official Farmers' Wife Sampler because I did not include all 111 blocks, and I chose a totally different layout.

My next challenge is to get this quilt on the frame and decide how I will quilt it.