Saturday, June 28, 2008

On a scale of cute, is this a 10??

This is the backing (above) for my bargello quilt that I'm finishing up. Is that not the cutest fabric you ever saw? I even have some leftover for, for ... labels?

Today was beautiful, windy, 72 degrees - needed a drive. This is on a county road about 10 miles outside of town. We must have made a wrong turn, because the road ended in someone's back yard, complete with BIG DOGS. Very embarrassing, but no human was home.

Notice, NO TREES.

Early this AM I watched my Patsy Thompson CD - mine is Vines and Leaves. She has numerous free downloads, and short excellent demos on each CD she offers. She is available at

She demonstrates machine quilting on a domestic sewing machine, which is what I use. I am finally liking what I've been accomplishing on my DSM. Gosh, every time I watch that CD, I come away full of energy, motion, softness, fluidity and inspiration. I like this CD so much I ordered yet ANOTHER one. One thing I'm finally learning is about thread. The visual space a thread takes up. Do you want it to be important, or do you want it to do the job, somewhat out of sight? This particular thread is a blend of tan and cream (2 plys - is that the word), that blends but also leaves a design. I've been practicing about 2-3 years and am pleased with my progress. So, gals, with shakey hands, little courage, get practicing! YOU CAN DO IT!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Border, and Recycling Hands

Two more photos of this Kaleidoscope. One of you suggested using that little stripe in the border - thank you - great idea! There have been interesting comments and e-mails about, "This isn't like MY Kaleidoscope." This is the version I know about, where supposedly, you see circles formed by the straight-lined pattern. You have to look hard for circles in this project, due to my color choices. (It is NOT the pattern where you do fussy-cutting.) My blocks are about 17 inches (big!) so this is a generously-sized quilt. I'm ready to quilt it!

Now I will tell you about this "hand" project (below), with permission given.

The local town beautification group, the group that supports recycling, and keeping the town attractive, hold their meetings, and one of them mentioned that all the Directors TALK about recycling, but they weren't really DOING it. So she asked all of them to COMMIT themselves to Recycle, and in order to make a public commitment to recycling, they would sign a document. That document turned out to be a quilt. Our local group of quilting gals took up the project and we decided "Hands" would be a good visual image, along with their (a Director's) embroidered, or signed, name on a block. Each quilter took a name and based on the person whose hand they had, decorated/designed a block. ALL the materials in the quilt were recycled - nothing was purchased except the batting. It was AMAZING to see how each person interpreted the hand challenge. We used a focus fabric (border) to help coordinate color choices, and I brought in an entire TUB of old yucky fabric that NO ONE would want, but you can guess -- that old fabric was plucked out of that tub like candy.

When the blocks were returned, we looked at them and wondered how on earth would they ever blend? The sizes were different - well some of us confused the rules (ME! for one), so we just added strips on the sides to bring them up to 12 inches. In the end, those strips added a new level of interest. I had my machine and various quilting gals just gave me the orders -- "sew this, sew it on the top, sew it to this side, use this green", etc. I never gave anything a thought and by the end of that evening, it was practically all together. Bordering each block with that black print, and using the same black print in the cornerstones was extremely effective at visually holding it together. And look how that pink perked everything up!

This photo shows it not yet quilted, but I did simple straight stitch-in-the-ditch with invisible thread for the most part, and angular lines in the border.

This will be hung in their office, over their recycled couch, and will also travel and be on exhibition. "FUN" !!!

Some of the ideas: Shirt pockets, plackets, cuffs (dimensional) (one pocket has a chewed pencil in it), camoflage, a printed city map from Google Earth, jewelry, a piece (at least 20 years old) of parrot/flower fabric that had OLD fusing on it and the fusing still WORKED, sheriff star, hand holding a newspaper, 'green' thumb, a watch cut from fabric, a lacey hand on oriental fabric with a fabric ring, machine embroidered fabric sleeve, Harley Davidson cuff, Big male hands, little female hands and even one arthritic hand. One late extra block was sewn on the back for the label, with all our names signed. And one beautifully machine-embroidered block, telling what this was about.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I learn something new every day!

Wow - I DID get "in your face" graphics! The 'effect' of a Kaleidoscope is not so apparent, probably because my colors are so bright and NOT blending. And I can see you SHOULD have an odd number (above) with 3 x 3 blocks.

I DID want a larger quilt, so I made a fourth row, thereby upsetting the "odd" number possibility - 3 x 4. You can see the difference. A fifth row would make it too large. But I still LOVE it. I will add a narrow inner border, then a CALM outer border. It's great fun to see how the colors affect one another, isn't it?

(Promise to myself: One day, some day, I will make a calm and serene quilt.)

Lessons learned: 1) This would be a GREAT wall hanging, where the optical illusion would be apparent; 2) use blending colors; 3) be sure to use an odd numbers of blocks, both horizontally, and vertically.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

":...with a little help from my friends"

Thursday was a Quilt Guild Meeting 60 miles from home. We carpool as often as possible. This is best hour of conversation (each way) with friends. The pleasure of the drive transcends the purpose of the meeting. We usually plan for some brief shopping.

(Those gals above are NOT us - I just liked the "shoe" angle!)

We shared a quick cup of raspberry tea at my house, then off we headed. I just HAD to purchase some summer shoes, a task I dreaded.

Fortunately the shoe store carries a large selection, but after trying one pair and then a second, I was ready to QUIT! Having big feet (well, I AM tall) does NOT make it fun. Fortunately my two friends lent some much-appreciated support and within a few more moments, they had scoured the store, the sale rack, the expensive shoes and the cheap ones, and THEY found me TWO pair of more-than-decent shoes. One pair was even On Sale, and then we found a second pair. Somehow I also received an additional discount of $15.00. Not bad. They did the running, checking sizes, scanning the sale rack, while I sat there trying them on. Life is good! Thanks quilty friends!

This is a photo of one pair - don't they look like I can climb mountains and hike the Appalacian Trail?

Another successful day – “I’ll get by ”with a little help from my friends.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

More on Kaleidoscope Blocks

A few bloggers have asked me about choice of colors. From what I've seen, what might appear as rather 'blah' fabrics can turn into an amazingly beautiful block. What have you got to lose? These are some of my last-of-the-strips, (I even pieced some) so I kinda threw them together, with little thought, just to see if it was necessary to spend time agonizing over colors. I DID keep the light to dark plan, except for the bright coral accent in the 'wrong' place.

These blocks go together in about 30 minutes, if you have your strips cut - they are not time consuming.

Voila! Not bad at all! I don't think agonizing is necessary at all, within reason.
First I do twosies and press to the right, then foursies, and put the straight edge against ME on the ironing board, and press seams to the right. Then I sew the two sides together, being really careful at the center. I mash them together tightly, pin them, and take a few machine basting stitches, hoping for a good center. If it's OK, then I sew the whole long seam, from one side to the other. Remember there are bias edges, be careful.

Now, do you open the little center tip? I hope you can see this. I release the 3-4 vertical center stitches on each side, and open that seam, again, mash that center flat, and press from the back, all clockwise. Some people call this twirling -- it sure makes that center nice and flat, with no bump from the top.

I measured 9 1/2 inches with my ruler on the strip set, and I got 9 wedges from my strip set, using WOF (Width of Fabric) of each strip. Most of my wedges have 6 or 7 strips. So, if you make 9 blocks you will need 9 strip sets, with 9 odd pieces for one more block for ... something. I'm shooting for 12 blocks, and need to make 2 more. Then I'll sew on the corners.

I hope to see a few of YOUR kaleidoscopes -- a lot of you have commented. Glad I could add something to your possible projects.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Kaleidoscopes, Strings, Scraps

This may be the 4th Kaleidoscope pattern I've made. They are EASY - at least this version. Here are my strings, strips, YES SCRAPS cut in various widths from 1 inch to 2 1/2 inch. I used width of fabric, but also pieced some to get the length. My palette of blues, greens turquoises, purples, etc. with a chartreuse and a melon as zingers. I'm aiming for an IN YOUR FACE impact - definitely NOT soft and gentle, by making the blocks large, using strong colors and intentionally not-matching seams. I'm placing my colors from light to dark and when you turn the ruler, you get dark to light. This is from stash - no new fabric.

Wedges are cut at 9 1/2 inches and I'm using a 45 degree ruler by Marilyn Dohaney, but there are a number of 45 degree rulers available. (Be sure you understand 45 degrees = 8 wedges, vs. 60 degrees = 6 wedges.) (Ok, elementary, but guess what Nebraskan has made THAT mistake!)

Here is the strata, or (is it stratum)? Not terribly impressive yet but ...

Absolutely acceptable! Could use more ZING ...

Let's try another version with this strip set (ahah, you noticed I avoided the strata/stratum unknown!).

Not bad at all!

These blocks can be mixed with each other, they can be all scrappy, you can clean up a LOT of stash this way. By pressing all the seam allowances to either the dark (my choice) or all to the lights, and then offsetting each one opposite to it's neighbor, you will not have problems with seams. I will probably press the seams all in one direction. The corner units will probably be some version of Quarter Square Triangles.

The only thing you should be careful about is that the pieces on the top and the pieces on the bottom of the strip set should be wide, so you don't end up with a teensy bit in the seam allowance. My strata uhhh strip set was about 10 inches wide and I trimmed it to nine and one/half inches. This makes an 18 inch block. So I presume I will only need 12 blocks. I was able to cut 9 wedges from each strip set, so I'll need 11 strip sets, using the leftovers for the 12th block. You could use a defined palette for a more coordinated look, but leave it to me, I want MORE COLOR, MORE IMPACT!

I hope you might try this one!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friends everywhere

This darling quilt belongs to my friend Jody - a quilter and ranch woman goddess! Honestly, this gal can do anything! She wanted to make a 'green' quilt, something from fabric already at hand, and this blue fabric was found in one of our Guild totes. We throw good but unwanted fabric into these totes, and eventually someone uses it. She also has a knack for clever insets in her borders. Can you see that slender stripe? Look at her ladybugs! CUTE, CUTE, CUTE! I asked her why she chose Ladybugs, and she said "Cause I wanted to!" She's been practicing her machine quilting and looking successful at this skill also!

I made this pineapple wall hanging years ago, but it's still looking fresh and hangs in my office. Some of you know I work in a church, and the church has many gorgeous stained glass windows. I'd like to think I caught the color flavor of my favorite stained glass window, if not the design.

Is this window not gorgeous? (No flash was needed for this photo.)

And lastly, this is part of my office, complete with a quilt-y signed picture by Diane Phalen, given to me by members of the congregation, when they learned of my love of quilting -- they are the best folks!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

For a good time,
(Can't get this link to work but you know how to type it in)

Wish I could remember who recently mentioned this site THANK YOU!!! You type in your text, or word, tell it to "Generate" and the result after a moment or two, is the most interesting and "arty" poster! You could spend days playing with this! If your brain is sluggish some days, this will give it a punch!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Don't mess with Mother Nature

These photos were taken in Kearney, in the middle of the state, during last week's tornados. I don't know who took them, but thank you.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Machine wins !

With eagerness to get hand stitching on my leaves, after work I dashed to my in-town LQS for embroidery floss, then dashed home to start hand stitching my leaves on my Bargello vine.

I found my Embroidery Tote in a corner and washed the dust off the box. With an effort for organization, I wound these new threads on the appropriate little gadget, put the thread ID number on that little gadget (what is that thing-y called - plastic spindle?? ), lined everything up in appropriate sections in my organizing box, and started my stitching. Uhhh, not quite was I was thinking - oops, I know, I'm heading the wrong way - gotta start from this end. Drats, knots, cut the blasted thing and restart. Hey world, do I hafta know which end to knot on embroidery floss? "HEY, DH, sweetie, sugar pie, would you please bring me my needle threader???" Oops, that's not looking so great either - crud, I have 3 threads instead of 2. Again, ??? strength for this project is waning fast ... Crud, I know, stitches too big .. but .... oh crud, this looks like XXXX! It's just sitting there, on TOP of the fabric, with pokies evident here and there.
OK, I knew using the machine for doing a featherstitch would be a pain, since I already had the border on, but ... in about 30 minutes, I had a good portion DONE! My vote is for the machine work for this project. It gives the leaves the barb-y, prickly edge that I wanted, the darker thread (dark green) is the perfect 'look', and I'm very happy. Where the leaves go into the border and over a seam or two, I used telephone book pages for stabilizer, and that worked like a charm.
And, FYI, my machine has stitches that slant UP, and another mode for the same stitches that slant DOWN. I did not push for perfection and stuck with just one mode.

One other thing - I was worried about messy stitches when starting and stopping with that awkward featherstitch, so I did NOT do a locking stitch. Instead, I left a thread tail when starting and stopping, and then, using an easy-threading needle, quickly threaded the threads to the back where I tied them together. If you haven't seen one of these needles, they are kinda open at the end, and the thread sort of slips into the eye. Perfect for this use. I keep that needle in a special segment in my tomato pin cushion, because it's hard to recognize.

I feel like a 5-yr. old in kindergarten, still playing with my colors, paints and pencils. Life is good.