Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Two More Confusion Quilts

I've received a LOT of comments, and E-Mail about the previous posting, "Out in Left Field," so I thought I would put up two similar projects. I was on a roll with these clever quilts.

This red/white/blue is one more of my "Confusion Quilts," a Maple Island pattern, designed by Debbie Bowles. If you are looking for this, ask for "Confusion Quilts" - that is the official name. This started with purchase of patriotic fabrics - I hadn't the foggiest idea of what it would look like, and I was amazed to see it ended up looking like a flag! I used many of the red leftovers, where the red ran over into the border, and I used the blue leftovers where blue ran in the border. The photo isn't great.

And, this was the first "Confusion Quilt" I tried .. the color choice was meant to 'go' with terra cotta floor tile. The setting ended up looking like floral rosettes. My mother was so pleased she entered it in the local art show. Thanks Mom!

All non-quilters are amazed at "how did you sew all those teeny pieces together in the border?" Quilters know the secret.

My favorite part of each quilt is the border. Each quilt finishes to a large nap size.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Out in Left Field, and Earthy Stars DONE!

Out in Left Field
This quilt is from a pattern where you make the blocks oversized, then chop them to size – this procedure definitely appealed to me - so much so, that I made 3 others within several months, and then gave a workshop for our quilt guild. For whatever reason, this one reminds me of a baseball field, hence the name.

The blocks are oversized, then trimmed wonky, with a 6 ½ inch square ruler. Everything that is trimmed off is later put back together on a separate border, which is machine quilted heavily, and THEN sewn back onto the quilt. I LOVE all the various shapes that show up in the border - there is no predicting what the quilt will look like, until it’s done! My kind of quilt! I LOVE the surprise aspect.

This is a “Confusion Quilt,” by Debbie Bowles, of Maple Island Quilts. The first time I saw her on Simply Quilts, I ordered the pattern the same day - her example electrified me with enthusiasm. When it came to choosing fabric, I had to trust her judgment with lights, mediums, and darks because I absolutely could NOT imagine the end product. While it was not technically a ‘mystery’ quilt, the end was going to be a mystery! What fun this was!

Earthy Stars DONE!
I showed this some time ago, as a WIP, and it doesn’t look a whole lot different, except that it’s done! Those double rows of HST were not easy, since they had to line up exactly across from each other. I had visions of hand quilting this project, but my time ran out, and it’s a gift for someone who will not know hand quilting from machine quilting, so... machine quilting it is! I might still make another one, hand quilted, for me ... oh yeah, I already have over 50 others in the house, for me ...

I am still having problems figuring out how to modify borders such as this (the plain light border), when the last row MUST be a definite size. Something about measuring the width of the quilt (finished or unfinished?), divide by 2, and then my eyes glaze over. I’ve only been quilting 25 years, you would think I could soak that solution into my brain. Note my ‘creative’ center in each HST on the 2 borders – another one of those ‘I shoulda planned better’ moments.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thanksgiving Menu

  • Ham - cooked and sliced ahead of time, then simmered with orange/brown sugar sauce - less fiddling.
  • Scalloped potatoes - less fiddling
  • Slow cooked green beans on the back burner, with bacon/dash of a good salad vinegar - less fiddling
  • Cranberry/pineapple/walnut gelled salad - made ahead - less fiddling
  • Home made dinner rolls - made ahead of time - less fiddling.
  • Chocolate/mocha homemade pie - less fiddling
  • Pecan pie - ahead of time - less fiddling
  • Last minute - REAL whipped cream
  • Wine, so we can fiddle the afternoon away.

We'll have a toddler (and parents) at our house and I want to spend time with those folks -- not cook!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Five Good Things

Years ago, I was listening to Oprah, who gave some good advice. When you are troubled, write down “5 Good Things.” You cannot just think about them, you have to write them down. They can be anything, big, little, a moment, a glimpse, a national event – just write them down, and it won’t hurt to re-read them now and then.

I see something similar on some of the bloggers, Gratitudes, Thankfulness, etc. In this season of Thanksgiving, here are a few of mine.
  • That bright 4 year old in the library, who, after Story Hour was finished, rejoined his Mother, all smiles, with a “How was YOUR day, Mommy?”
  • Husbands who dutifully hold up their wife's latest quilts without too much complaining, so she can take photos for her blog.
  • My Mother taught me how to make GOOD bread from scratch.
  • My father encouraged me to have fun.
  • My mother had an artistic inclination and encouraged my own creativity.
  • My brother recently told me, “You always were a good sport!"

(Ok, that’s six!)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Found more inspiration looking at my own blog!

Oh m'gosh - I am looking at my own post, and a new pattern has appeared in my imagination!

See all those string quilts? What would happen if at the corners/ends of each string pieced unit, you just put a background square? Then the strings would show up and appear to be floating. I was looking at the turquoise and yellow one - I no longer have the original and cannot remember what how the corners are constructed, but it looks like I left it light - same as the background. Hey, that's another opportunity!

Mercy, maybe someone will get that done before I get to it! If so, send me a photo. I'd love to see how THAT would turn out. And scappy, to boot!

String Quilts - My favorites

ALL of these string idea quilts are because I was inspired by Bonnie Hunter at She calls it something like String-X if you need directions. I even had her web page or blog as my home page for a time, because of her daily inspiration. Thanks, Bonnie.

My first try is D2R2 - an abbreviation for Dumpster Twice, Retrieved Twice! I did not have faith, and didn’t finish it with borders. I kept it for several years, and dumped it twice, when cleaning out drawers., then felt guilty, and retrieved it from the dumpster. Finally, not too long ago, I was asked to do a Trunk Show. I am a believer that we should show our ‘failures’ and well as our successes, so once more, I dragged it out and forced myself to add borders, and machine quilt it. Was I ever surprised that it turned out .. ‘not too bad’! Certainly it is not a heritage quilt, but it DOES make a great stash buster, and it is a reminder to myself, that just because it’s not perfect, does not mean it’s not OK.

Strings - baby quilt: Yellow and turquoise scraps. Who did I give this to?

Brights – wow! I made this from scraps from an earlier post - the Wonky Flying Geese with Neon green background. This is a lot livelier in person. It's been folded up in the closet for a while, hence the wrinkley appearance.

Strings - cozy brown/reds. I call this one that belongs to my DH, “His Girls” because the backing is all Pin-up Girls in provocative/lovely outdoorsy cabin-y type settings – those gals are pretty racey - !

Strings - purples and yellows. I had a lot of them and wanted to use them up.

I made one alteration from the original, on most of them. I felt the triangle at the end of each diagonal path needed to be added. The first one has a quick corner added to each side of a light strip, joined together, to make a point. That got a bit tedious. I wanted the triangle to 'float' on the light background, so I came up with the idea of using one long light piece for background on each of the four sides. Then, at the end of each outside pathway, take 2 triangles, sew them together along the short side to make a larger triangle. Face them with fusible lightweight interfacing, using a tight stitch, leaving the longer side (bottom) open. Turn it right side out, finger press, then insert that into the seam, between the background and the diagonal string, matching seams carefully, and sew. It really simplified making the point. Then when they are all sewn into the seam in the correct position, fuse/press it down. I later used invisible thread to do a tiny blanket stitch -- totally invisible.

I definitely learned that even though they are scrap, I should use SOME discretion when putting them together for a scrappy quilt.

All of these quilts were sewn onto a foundation, mostly telephone book pages. Several of them have been hand quilted, as well as stitch in the ditch in the long straight seams. They are not masterpieces, but intended to be used, and I love them all.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sugar Beets Harvest

Last of the Harvest - Sugar Beets

This is almost the end of the sugar beet harvest. This mountain of stuff, called a sugar beet dump, is built from one of the major agricultural products in this area. Now in early to mid-November, the trucks are all over the fields and highways, hauling these beets from the fields to a central locations such as this. They are then unloaded onto a piler that throws them onto the already-huge mountain. The trucks are so full, sometimes a few of the heavy beets will fall out of the truck onto passing cars resulting in dents or a cracked windshield! The phrase is not “I love you” or “Be careful” when a loved one leaves for a drive in the car, it’s “Watch out for the sugar beet trucks!” From the dump, they will be hauled to the processing plant in even larger trucks to be turned into our beloved sugar.

I read this in the paper today: Average yield per acre is 22-23 tons of sugar beets. (That's a lotta sugar beets!) In Montana it is even higher. Average sugar content is 17%. This is for all you Trivia folks out there. I know very little about sugar beets, but it is a major product in this area.

I’ve cut one open do you can see the rings, similar to a regular beet. And they are so sweet – awful sweet tasting.

I’m wondering what other agricultural products are in your location that most of us know nothing about?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Diamond Challenge

Here are my fabrics for my Challenge Quilt for our 2007 Quilt Show. I have so many ideas, projects, stored quilts, photos of quilts, and I’m getting a bit bored with them and finally decided to try something a bit different.

The theme for the Challenge is “Diamonds” so here are diamonds, and the fabrics are a bit Africa-y looking, one looks like wood blocking. This is paper pieced, not usually my favorite, but I like how this is turning out. I haven't decided to use the speckly print on the bottom of the stack for the corner or side triangles. It may look very different when the diamonds are finished, although I am also tempted by a cheetah print at the LQS. The star finishes at 28", and I'll add borders when I see what it likes.

The center is turning out to be a large space - I can see where it may improve with being broken down into smaller triangles.

Helpful Toys

I purchased this little iron – on a whim – and I think I like it. It is extremely small -- I’ve seen others that may be larger. This one cost $10.00, and is called a Craft Iron, from Ben Franklin. I press on a small ironing board, and the larger iron takes up so much room. Additionally, ALL my ‘regular’ irons seem to konk out in a year or so anyway, so I’m not devoted to a larger iron. This little one is dry only, and doesn’t get REALLY hot, but the current project is paper piecing, and it’s just right. The cord tends to get in the way, so I have to hold the iron in a certain way. Also, the weight of the cord sometimes wants to tilt it over on it’s side. It will be OK for classes also. There is no OFF - I control ON and OFF power, along with my sewing light, with a power cord. Sewing lights seem to konk out at the switch, so by using the power cord, the light fixture lasts longer.

The second item has been wonderful to help imprint machine quilting patterns in my brain. I was happy to read that Karen McTavish, a long-arm machine quilter, also suggests this type of toy. This one is called a Doodle Pro - great for kids in the car, but I have this next to my TV watching chair for practice during commercials. To erase, you slide the bar across. You can see my leaf/vine practice. About $15.00

I am paper piecing - something I’ve not done for years - and am amazed at the efficiency with my newer machine using the auto-thread cutter and knee lifter. When I bought my machine, my only interest was increasing the bed space – nary a thought to those extra features prior to purchase. Just a suggestion if you have not been using these features, or don’t have them yet, give them serious consideration.

I’ll post my paper piecing soon - it’s pretty gorgeous!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Diamond Table Topper and CAFFEINE!!!

Had a good, quilt-y weekend. Must have been that new coffee drink I tried - yeah caffeine!

I finished off these diamonds that will be another table topper. This was started last month at our Guild class. I have been so envious of some quilters, who can change table decorations with the season, so I made one for ME. This is actually Baby Blocks, but assembled log cabin style. The trick was keeping the 60 degree angle accurate. The binding was finished differently than what I've done before. Separate strips (6) were sewed on and at the points, it was marked, sewn and folded to make an inverted binding at 120 degrees, which neatly folded over onto itself in the back. (Clear as mud?)

I have never worked with batiks before – while they are beautiful, I wonder if, over time, appear dated, and will not retain the charm of ‘traditional’ fabrics. The crispness it a great feature, but I don’t think hand quilting would work? Comments about retaining charm?

I chose those particular green-y gold-y pink-y colors to blend with my maple table. My DH made the Duck Basket - a kind of primitive item, originally meant to hold my quilt books ... LOL - I don't think he actually every counted how many quilt books I have, so I'm putting a plant in it, or Christmas cards, or apples, or pine cones, or whatever. We both like the basket so much he made 4 more.

With that success, I forged ahead, and cleaned the accumulated stuff off my little ironing board and stapled on a new fresh cover. Wahoo! Sometimes just a small improvement makes one want to work some more. Uuhhh, do we have any extra fabric to make a fresh cover for our ironing board?

Next I managed to empty my studio trash basket (AND did NOT give in to temptation and retrive any of the little scraps!), vacuumed the studio, and cleaned off my catch-all tray, all on the same day. Sometimes little steps are all one can manage. I had been reading Stashbuster Mail List, and there were many ideas to encourage a self-imposed slug to just get a'goin!

Lastly, I decided to take time to see where some of you Bloggers are from, by using a FREE program, Google Earth. What an amazing program! It is based on GPS systems. You probably need DSL to make it work well. I have ‘visited’ Red Square, the Imperial Gardens in Japan, my mother’s house in Florida, checked out Iraq, looked at Blogger Joyce’s town in Manitoba Canada, Blogger Jenni in Queensland, a military base in England, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Vesuvius, and so many others. I saw a red car in the driveway of my earlier residence - the image is that clear in some areas. I halfway expected someone to come out the door and wave to me! Check it out!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Table Runner, Missouri Star

A small project - but it’s finished! I even have my own ‘personal’ label on the back – one of those woven labels you order. This will be a gift for a young wife/mother and her husband who are coming for a visit for Thanksgiving – hope she likes it. At first I wanted to have more ‘modern’ colors, but this is what was on hand. It is 14" x 38", and machine quilted in the ditch with invisible thread because I thought the pattern was outstanding on it’s own.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What the ...? Chapter 2

Thank you for all the assistance. Seems everyone out there sees everything on my BLOG. Amazingly, at my home office , I also see everything, in Netscape, in IE, and in Firefox. When I checked this morning at my work office, I didn't see portions of my profile, links, Archives, etc. This sounds like ... versions ??? of browsers? OK, I really don't know what's happening, but for the now, I'm happy and I'll stop whining.

It's the weekend, and I'm going back to my studio, where I'm in charge and I know what's going on.

What the ... ???

AArrrghhhh, now what happened to my BLOG? All looks just fine with my BLOG using Netscape (except for seeing underlines that others do NOT see) as my browser, all looks fine in Mozilla Firefox, but in Internet Explorer, a LOT is missing, i.e., my sidebar, profile, links, archives, counter,(I would rather be quilting, than figuring out these mysteries.)

If I remember correctly, my last post was done in Firefox, because IE was acting 'funny' and Google indicated they were making changes.

Where do I start to unravel this oddity?