Saturday, January 17, 2015

Backing a Bet

This week was a wrap (no pun intended) for my second quilt-as-you-go project, again destined for The Center for Women and Families, and happily finished in time for their February fundraiser auction.

I'm more than pleased to say that this was made entirely on my late mom-in-law's 1962 Singer 503a Slant-o-matic sewing machine (at right)--and that every time a strip of four blocks was joined to the previous four, the ol' gal pounded through 10 layers of fabric and 2 layers of batting at each intersection, with no hesitation. Then again, I've seen video of this model stitching through 12 layers of denim.

I'd be stunned if my newer machines could do that, sorry to say.

As mentioned in the last blog post, there are some really funky blocks in this quilt (95% pieced from the upholstery fabric samples donated to me last year):

The arrangement of blocks was decided taking only the fronts into account, since they were my focus. The backs of the blocks had been cut from only a few different fabrics. Knowing it would be impossible to do a perfectly balanced color/tonal arrangement of the fronts and backs, I decided to let myself be 'surprised' by however the back of the quilt turned out.

So, believe it or not, I didn't really look at the back until everything was joined. I just crossed my fingers and figured the block backs might just serendipitously fall into at least a halfway sensible arrangement...

...and this is what I got.

I mean, seriously?!!??

Remind me to never go to Vegas. Haven't been there yet, and maybe this is why...I am one bad gambler.

Oh well. By the way, the only truly interesting back piece was this one...

...which was also featured in part as a center motif on the front of one of the blocks.

After cleaning up the studio and putting the leftover strips and squares away, I retrieved this very important storage container from the closet...

Note the name on the label. Lucy Maeve is our first grandchild, due in just a few weeks! Time to decide what to make from some of these prints I've accumulated.

Also finished this week were the pieces of another knitted sweater for Lucy. Today they'll be stitched together. This is the only part of sweater knitting that puts me off. The knitting itself is fun, but sewing everything together by hand with yarn...not so much. Also, it's been years since I set a knitted sleeve, so my memory is fuzzy regarding how best to ease it evenly and baste it. Here's hoping these flower pins and Pinmores won't make the stitching awkward. We'll soon find out.

Next week I hope to have Lucy's undersea quilt sandwiched and basted, since the back is finished!

Also this week I took a couple of hours to play with Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils. They'd been languishing in a drawer since purchased, months ago. My intention is to eventually use them on fabric, but I started with paper to practice.

The first lesson learned was that, at least on paper, you don't need to put much color down. Look what happened to the original sketch (left) after water was applied (right).

Yikes! I had no idea it would get that intense (hence the 'Inktense'?). But something tells me the difference might be more obvious on paper than it will be on fabric. That will be the next test.

The second lesson learned was that if you're married to an artist, he will notice (and kindly point it out) if you have put more than one light source in your sketch.

Time to go see what some other quilters have been up to. I'm linking up over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict's Whoop Whoop Fridays and at A Quilting Reader's Garden for WIPs Be Gone. I hope to have some free-motion work to link up with Lizzie Lenard's Free Motion Mavericks by next week. Check out all their reader links, too.

Have a wonderful week!


Friday, January 9, 2015

Funky Fabrics / Jealous of Jack

Four weeks or so have gone by since there was anything here to blog about, thanks to the holiday hubbub and a 2-week bout with the flu. Winter has its perks (chili, homemade soups, warm pajamas) but flu ain't one of 'em. Anyway....

Needing to occupy myself with something fairly sedentary (except for getting up to press seams every two minutes) while recovering, I began another quilt-as-you-go project for the Center for Women and Families, using my late mom-in-law's 1962 Singer 503 Slant-o-matic. And boy, has the 503 appreciated the workout! She's running fast again, even if her motor does sound a bit rough.

These somewhat wonky blocks are made mostly from the fabric rescued from 142 upholstery sample books I was given last spring.

There is some really funky stuff here. I suspect these fabrics were intended for foreign markets, or at least for Americans who travel and like to reflect those travels (and some hobbies) in their home decor. We're talking tigers, oxen, dogs with their own teddy bears, monkeys climbing coconut trees, monkeys wearing clothes (think organ-grinders), elephants bearing howdahs, Oriental tableaux and even some Medieval scenes...all of which are making the blocks very interesting to sew. Plus sailboats, seashells, equestrian paraphernalia and race-car-related themes. Quite an eclectic mix! Here are a few examples (click to enlarge). None of the blocks are squared yet, by the way:

Yesterday we had a visit from Jack Frost, which left me wishing I could freemotion-stitch feathers even a fraction as beautiful as the ones he left on the studio windows! But he's a fun guy, so no doubt he was trying to inspire me, not make me envious...

Hooking up here with Lizzie Lenard's Free Motion Mavericks--and hoping Muv will forgive me for substituting Jack's free-motion work for my own! Check out her beautiful sampler, as well as her readers' links at the bottom of the blog. Also hooking up with Sarah Craig's Whoop Whoop Friday. What kind of quilt would you make for a little girl who can't see? Sarah has the answer--and a perfect one, at that.

That's all for now. Hope everyone is staying warm if you've been hit by the 'Arctic blast.' We were down to actual zero degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, and quite a bit below that with the wind chill.

And happy 2015!