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Monday, May 27, 2013

Broken Dishes, Band Camp Quilt and a Work in Progress!

 
 
 
The broken dishes quilt.
 
       After working on that little quilting class sampler, I decided to go big, and make my daughter  a  bed quilt. I chose a traditional "broken dishes" design.  Without knowing better, I chose a very heavy white fabric, and used other home decor fabrics, not appreciating that quilting fabric was lighter and easier to handle.   Anne's room was painted a beautiful shade of blue, and I made a dust ruffle and shams to match the watercolor floral fabric.   I hand-quilted this piece, which is why it took two years to finish!   I must admit, I still adore this quilt!

 

A close up of the fabrics in the broken dishes quilt.



A close up of the hand-quilting around the perimeters of the triangles.  The watercolor fabric is used for the binding, as well as some of the triangles.

         I had really caught the quilting bug, and by the summer of 2001, I had finished several quilts, and entered them in the local county fair.   Thes Broken Dishes quilt actually got an honorable mention.  (I think there were very few entries in the hand quilted category)

Anne's quilt displayed with other lovely quilts.

A close up of the quilt, with its white ribbon!


      I also entered the "Christmas in July" quilt I had completed that summer. 
   
The "Christmas in July" quilt

 
         If you look really carefully at the bottom shelf, in the back, you'll see it! 
 
No ribbons for the Christmas in July quilt!

 


      That summer, my daughter was going off to a week long band camp for the first time, and I sent her with a happy pastel quilt.  I used scraps from various sewing projects, including dresses I had made for her, doll dresses made for her American Girl dolls, and some of these other quilt projects.  I used a fast and easy fence rail pattern.  I love how the soft colors all blended together.  Over the years, this quilt traveled to many seasons of band camp, and to college.
 


The band camp quilt. 


A shot of the full band camp quilt.  Thanks to my husband, the quilt holder!


A close up of the variety of fabrics in the band camp quilt.
 
     My work in progress  -
 
     I am still working on some projects that I can't quite share.  In the meantime, I am starting to use the 6 inch square blocks I found of the Jane Sassaman "Exotic Garden" fabrics.   I located 23 blocks.
 
The various squares, likely left over from the drunken path blocks I had made with these fabrics.

     I am going to try my hand at a minimalist modern quilt, with a grid surrounded by white.       I have been trying out combinations on the carpet.


The beginnings of the grid.

     Here is the grid, assembled.    I can't wait to see how this will ultimately turn out!

The blocks separated with 2-inch strips of  Kona white. 
 

     I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend.

Take care,

Gretchen

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My quilting journey - the beginning

   
My baby quilt
      I have long been fascinated with quilts.  As a baby, I received a quilt made by one of my mother's relatives. As you can see, that quilt has seen better days, and isn't particularly well made, but I love the graphic look, I love the little fabric prints, and I love the texture of that quilt.  And, I love that it was mine!  


The graphic look of this quilt makes it seem quite modern - even though it is now an antique!

 


I love the little ditsy prints.  This was made with love, not great skill.   Perhaps my inability to match up seams is inherited!
     Over the years, I had tried my hand at making quilts, but I did pieced tops, and then tied them together. I made a small baby tied-quilt in the early 1980s, and then a few other tops, including one I made from upholstery fabric. What was I thinking?

     In 1999, I got the idea that my daughter, then 10, would love to sew and quilt. I signed us up for a beginner quilt class at Joanne Fabrics. We made two different 3 inch blocks, a nine-patch  and a half-triangle block and sewed them together.



The nine-patch and half triangle blocks
      My "ah-ha" moment came when we quilted this little project.  Despite my crude hand-quilting, once it was washed,  I realized that the texture I so loved with my own baby quilt was from the quilting.   I now mostly use warm and natural batting, and prewash the quilt fabrics and backing, so when I wash the quilts,  the batting shrinks a bit, making that wonderful pebbly texture.

   

A close up of my laughable hand quilting.




My finished little sampler. 




My embroidery skills were even worse than my hand- quilting - but at least I know the date this was completed.


     I was hooked on quilting - and the chance to be creative, and create something practical at that same time.  I was also fascinated with the history of quilts, and loved working with patterns and blocks that had been used by women long ago.     As for my daughter, she did not have the same reaction to the quilting experience. Quilting was not for her, but she appreciates the many quilts that I have made for her.

    One of my first quilts was a fairly good sized quilt using a variation of a crown of thorns block, using some of the fabrics from the little sampler, and concentrating on reds and greens.   Because of that color scheme, I called this  quilt "Christmas in July".


The quilt

 
  I used a different red or green print for each block.


The blue from the little sampler has faded to grey.


The flower fabric from the little sampler. 


I started with some machine quilting - still a challenge, although practice has improved my free motion skills.


I made sure to sign this quilt, with permanent ink pen.   My binding skills have also improved greatly since 2001.
 


The quilt may be old and faded, but Chester still enjoys it.



     I have great difficulty buying just a little bit of fabric.    I had no idea that a fat quarter was actually a good amount of fabric.  I have yards and yards of some fabric.  Indeed, the scrappy string quilt, which is in the process of being quilted, contains many remnants from those initial quilts.



The string quilt, ready to be pinned.  I hope to have this quilted by the end of the month. 


The strawberry fabric, and the little blue and red fabric made it into this scrappy quilt!


So did the lady-bug fabric!

 
     I continue working on a quilt that I can't yet share, and have many more projects underway.    I hope the weather is nice where you are.  
     
Take care,
Gretchen  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The "darling starlings" quilt top is done!



The finished quilt top.

A close- up of the center portion.

The darling starlings!
 
     I finally finished the flying geese quilt top, made from leftovers from a previous project.   I tried my hand at a different type of quilt, where all the blocks are not the same.  To make this work, I used a design board (created from flannel clipped to an old room divider which was tipped up against a basement wall) for the first time. 
   
      It turns out that the blocks don't permanently stick to the flannel - at night some blocks would fall to the floor, leaving me to guess where I had put them in the first place.   It turned out fine (and ended up smaller than it looked on the wall), but was quite a bit more work than I had anticipated putting it together, since the design wall is in  my basement, and my sewing machine is not. 

     When my husband saw the finished design, he said it didn't look like geese, which fly in straight lines, but rather, like starlings taking off.  Hence, the name the "darling starlings."    There is a little waviness in the setting blocks that I may have to fix, and then I will be putting it together soon.  I'll post a picture of the quilt when finished.

     In addition to finishing a new quilt top from old pieces, I also took apart an old quilt top: 
The old lumpy quilt top.

      This top just didn't lie flat.     The drunken path squares were fine; I had taken quite a bit of time and effort putting those together.  Unfortunately, I rushed sewing them together, and decided to undertake a redo. 



     We recently took a road trip to Williamsburg for a family wedding, and I used the hours in the car to undo the quilt top.   (Not while driving!)

Taking out the seams while navigating through Pennsylvania!

       By the end of the trip, the quilt was again in little pieces.  Here are the pieces, which I plan to square up, and more carefully and slowly sew back together.  At some point this year, this top (now over 5 years old) will become a quilt!



The undone quilt top!


     In the meantime,  I found about 2 dozen  6- inch squares from the same Exotic Garden fabric.  I have no recollection of what I had intended to do with these squares, or if they were leftovers from the drunken path blocks.   I am hooked on all the "modern quilting" blogs and so I have ordered up vast quantities of white Kona cotton, and will be attempting a "modern" quilt with these.  I can't wait!
 
 
The 6-inch squares of the Exotic Garden fabric.

Another close-up of these fabulous fabrics.
      I am also working on a few projects that are to be gifts, so I can't post the pictures yet.   Happy Mothers' Day to all!

Take care,
Gretchen