Thursday, September 24, 2009

More September Sun Blocks

Over the past two days I finished 16 more blocks for my September Sun quilt. I unwittingly switched the two inner strip colors thereby losing the gradated effect; but since I don't have any more of one of those fabrics, it's staying like it is.

Now there are just four blocks left for the center star. Yesterday our little challenge group got together for an all-day work session, and two of the girls worked on the center block. It's basically a lone star type block, and both girls had trouble with it, so I'll have to take extra care to cut and piece precisely.

I will say that this has not been an easy quilt to piece, but I think it's a good thing to challenge ourselves as quilters from time to time. The results will be worth it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Felted Bowls

These are before and after photos of one of the projects in my knitting class this summer, felted bowls. We were given instructions for a set of five, and I recently finished knitting the last one and got them all felted. I used fisherman's wool, and they felted up beautifully, very thick and sturdy. I can imagine how nice and warm a pair of felted mittens might be, and I'd like to make a pair for this winter. The coolest thing is that all five bowls nest together.

People keep asking me what I'm going to do with them, and I keep telling them I don't know yet. I do know one thing. I'd like to make two or three more of these, only larger than the largest bowl in this set and half the height--large, shallow bowls. Then I'll use them to toss leaders and enders into as I get them made, one for four patches and maybe one or two for half square triangle units. I think I'd enjoy seeing them sitting on my sewing table.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Few Hexagon Blocks

When Robyn started The Great Hexagon Quilt-Along blog, I thought it sounded like fun and I joined. The inspiration for the blog is a quilt constructed entirely of diamond-shaped hexagon blocks. I tried English paper-piecing years ago and enjoyed it, even though I thought it a very slow method. By the time Robyn started her blog, Linda Franz had already published several of the Inklingo collections, so I decided the time was right to give it another try. I made one block, then the project fell by the wayside.

This week I decided it was time to get it back on track, so I collected a few more fabrics for it and started washing, pressing and cutting. I'm using primarily civil war fabrics for the quilt, plus scraps of whatever else appeals to me; and I plan to stick to the colors used in the original quilt--red, pink, blue, brown, tan, and cream--but probably in different proportions.

I'm using the Inklingo software to print hexagons right to the fabric, so there's not much preparation. I'm sure the ability to pretty much get right to the sewing will hold my interest longer. I'm trying not to think about the fact that I'll need 82 diamond blocks to complete the quilt as it was originally shown, and I'll just keep plugging away at it.

Since I've just gotten started with this project again, I've made one additional hexagon and nearly finished a second. Handpiecing 25 hexagons together into a block takes me a long time, but I'm really enjoying it. I love looking at the backs of these blocks--all those little hexagons formed by pressing the seams just look so cool.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Orange Crush Revisited

At long last, my Orange Crush quilt is completely finished--quilted, bound, and yes, it's labeled. The top has been done since last October, almost a year now. I guess I was putting off quilting it until I got more proficient at quilting from a pantograph, but I decided it was past time to get it done, good or bad. I quilted the bubbles I wanted on it, and I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. I'd forgotten how big this quilt was, nearly queen sized. I love this quilt!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's A Wrap!

That's the name of this quilt, and today it also signifies that the quilt is finished--quilted, bound, and labeled! I quilted Christmas trees on it using the Tannenbaum pantograph from Willow Leaf Studio.

That's another one completed from my Power of Ten list, so I cleaned up the list, removed the projects that have been completed, and added the Orange Crush quilt. I finished quilting that one a couple of days ago. Now I just have to bind--and label--it. That makes eight projects on my list, but five of them were added in June, so they're old, and I'll wait until I make some progress with those before I add anything else.

I've completed several Christmas projects this year in different mediums, and I guess this will be the last one for a while. Stephanie D has got me all fired up about Halloween, and now I feel a Halloween quilt coming on!

Credit where credit is due: "It's a Wrap quilt" design by Mary Ann Meador, Quiltmaker Nov/Dec 08

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Do You Label?

Not everyone does, but most quilt experts and historians agree that we should label our quilts--for future generations, for documentation, and for security. Signed quilts are also more valuable than unsigned quilts. Most importantly, labels can reflect the thought, care, and emotion that go into the making of a quilt.

I inherited this beautiful hexagon baby quilt when my mother passed away a few years ago. It is hand pieced and hand quilted, and in beautiful condition. And I have no idea who made it or how it came to be in my mother's possession, which is a real shame.

I am as guilty as anyone else of not labeling my quilts. I used to do it religiously, but a few years ago I began testing patterns and often didn't take the time to make the label. I have some catching up to do, but I'm also going to make a dedicated effort not to get further behind.

I am almost finished binding my Christmas quilt, and here is the label I made for it, a triangular label that is sewn to two edges of the quilt and only one edge to turn under. I love it! I first saw this idea on Pat's blog, Bell Creek Quilts, and thought it was brilliant. Last week or the week before I discovered Coleen's blog, Colleen's Quilting Journey, and she took the idea one step further and embroidered the text. You can see a couple of her labels here and here. I embroidered my label too and added a small Christmas motif as well.

Next time I make one of these, I'll make that trim at the top of the label about the same width as the binding. I think that might look better. Or I might finish that top edge and not stitch it down so I can use it as a pocket for a photo or something.

I have the same assortment of quilts with muslin labels and pigma pen writing that everyone else has, but sometimes I like to have a little more fun with my labels. My favorite method is to piece a smaller version of one or more blocks in the quilt and sew a row of them together with a plain block for the text. Sometimes the edges are too hard to turn under, so I'll add a little binding to the edge of the label before I sew it down.

The idea for this label came from Jinny Beyer's Soft Edge Piecing book. The background fabric was a piece of hand dyed fabric I'd made years ago, then I fussy cut eight pieces of fabric from a Jinny Beyer border print, stitched the pieces together, and appliqued the curved edges to the background fabric. It's one of my favorites.

For this label, I took a photograph of the front of the quilt, then printed the image on fabric and sewed it to the quilt back.

These two labels haven't made it onto the back of a quilt yet. The yellow one with the sun rays was a gift from a fellow quilter, and I never found the right quilt for it. The one on the right was a block gone wrong, so I cut it on the diagonal twice and used the pieces for the corners of this piece of muslin. I'll probably add some binding to the edges to stabilize the bias.

There are as many ways to make quilt labels as there are people on the planet. Consider adding a label to your quilts.

End to the Sunday Stash Report

It is a sunny, cool, breezy day here in Maine--perfect weather for working in the garden or sitting on the porch with a little handpiecing. Some of the leaves on my trees have already turned brown and fallen to the ground. It won't be long before Autumn is here.

I've decided to end my Sunday Stash Manager's Reports. After purchasing a bolt of 42 yards of muslin recently, I thought there probably wasn't much point in continuing to report it since the idea was to encourage us to reduce the stash. I am really pleased with the amount of stash I've busted the last year and a half, but I've been way more successful enhancing it. I also have to admit that my interest in reading others' stash reports is waning.

Funny thing about that, a couple of days after I came to my decision, I happened to see that the author of the website that originally hosted the Sunday Stash Reports posed the same question to its readers, whether or not to continue the Stash Reports. I have no idea what the outcome was, but I guess sometimes these things run their course, and then we move on.

For my own gratification, I plan to continue recording all Stash Events. I've really enjoyed keeping track, and I think anyone who stuck with it would agree it's an eye opener. I imagine there will be some discussion about stash busting in future posts, and I may even do an end-of-the-year Stash Report, provided the results are somewhat respectable!