Monday, October 28, 2019

Hawaiian Bay

Before my hiatus, I had started piecing a landscape quilt, which had only gotten this far. And I wasn't thrilled with it.

The initial idea was to use that stripey fabric, which I'd had for a long time, for water, and to incorporate the sky fabric I had painted a couple of years ago.

The sailboat, printed on fabric and using a photo I'd taken in Maine, was auditioned before actually cutting it out. It was really too large for the scene. (I've since figured out how to change the size in my photo program, but that was after the quilt was finished.)

The sand, flower and grass fabrics looked okay but nothing was "popping" (except maybe those sunflowers). The whole thing looked kind of drab to me. So I put it aside.

After the 3+ month hiatus I pulled it out of storage, and ended up taking all the foreground fabrics off and putting them back in my stash.

Then I took a good, hard look at what was left. On a whim, I pulled out my scrap box and added one little orange batik strip. And suddenly, we were off to the races.

It morphed into this pieced scene...

...but even as it did, that painted sun kept nagging at me. It was really pretty ugly (sorry for the oxymoron!).

Fusing a bright-yellow batik piece over the sun took care of that problem. Much better. Then a heron, a sailboat, and some shells were added.

Quilting was fairly quick, using both free motion and machine regulated stitching.

Binding was made, using the faux-piped method (it's on YouTube). Here are some closeups of the interior (click to enlarge):

Seed beads were hand-sewn to the centers of the "flowers."
And the finished quilt...

So, landscapes are done for 2019; I'm working on Christmas presents now! One of them has me really excited but I can't share it until after Christmas. Someone in the family might see it too early!

Enjoy the upcoming holidays, wherever you are and whatever you celebrate. Peace and love to all.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019


Although my eight-week hiatus from knitting and quilting turned into 3 months, the nerve is still not completely healed, but it will get there. Toward the end, I finally caved in and cheated...but only a little.

At 17" x 20", Up with the Dawn is much smaller than most of my landscapes, and less densely pieced and quilted, so it wasn't that much of a strain and didn't take very long to make. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

For years, I had been meaning to use that fabric for the sky in a landscape, but just couldn't seem to make it work until now.

One other landscape quilt quickly followed, and is nearly finished. I'll save that one for next time. In the meantime, it feels really good to be able to blog again. I've missed that almost as much as the quilting!

Thanks so much for stopping by. If you're in the northern hemisphere, happy autumn, my favorite season...time to make a pot of chili and a batch of chocolate fudge. If you're in the southern hemisphere, happy spring!


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Quilting Hiatus (Knitters Beware)

The other day I unfolded this remnant of a vest I cut out weeks ago, and, voila! Or should I say, "Moo."

Got a good laugh from seeing that. Anyway, the one quilt strip I was able to salvage from it ended up in this little quilt top for Project Linus.

And a quilt TOP it will remain, at least for now. Why? I'm out of commission for 8 weeks as far as quilting and knitting, due to a nerve issue in my left arm, which was caused by...knitting. To be more precise, knitting while leaning on my left elbow, which was always propped on the arm of the chair so that I could get more lamp light on my work. Knitters beware. This was a gradual progression, as I did not realize at the time (2015) how dim my eyesight was becoming, due to cataracts.

Cut to 2017, when I had cataract surgery on both eyes and could see great! No longer did I need to lean on my elbow into the lamp light to see my knitting....but I kept doing it anyway. I was so in the habit, that I repeatedly caught myself doing it all the way through 2018 and into this year.

And then the tremors started. First in my hand, then in my arm, then working their way up to my shoulder and neck. It's only visible in my hand, though. Then, last week, the muscles in that arm started occasionally tightening by themselves. Stress aggravates it, too, as stress does any physical condition. So now, long story short---no knitting and no quilting (which irritates the nerve somewhat as well)---for 8 weeks.

My poor husband. LOL No, seriously....

A happy Independence Day (July 4th) to everybody in the U.S., and a great weekend to all.


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Something Fishy (Again)

 This week saw a finish for the underwater quilt. Nothing was added to my original design except the sapphire-blue binding. Again, I loved the background so much I just didn't want to add any more detail or even any borders.

Beneath the Waves is 22" x 42" (the full width of the background fabric turned lengthwise). The fabric is Gradients by Moda.

The seaweed was cut from a half yard of Kaufman Artisan Batiks Patina Handpaints. (The lake in my quilt Still Waters is a large piece of this same fabric and colorway.)

The fish and turtles were cut from West 22nd CX1418 Tropical Fish, and fused with Steam-a-Seam II Lite. UPDATE: This is a Michael Miller Fabric, by the way.

There is a mistake in this quilt that really tickled my funnybone when I discovered it, which was after all the applique was fused. I chose not to correct the mistake, since it's subtle and would have required a bit of re-designing. (Hint: you might figure it out if you can look at the photo upside-down. I first noticed it when the quilt was turned upside-down on the ironing board.)

Will I tell potential customers about this funny mistake? Nope. It's just not a big deal. Something even funnier happened with a landscape quilt I made and sold many years ago, titled Change in Routine and shown here below. See all that golden hay just behind the fence? 

A bit blurry. My present camera would have done a better job.
After I had completely pieced and fused/glued the scene, I suddenly realized there were tiny minnows...yes, FISH...all throughout that fabric! What I had thought was prairie grass was actually an aquatic plant. That gave me one of the biggest belly-laughs ever! Couldn't believe it had taken me all that time to notice all those minnows. That mistake, though, needed correcting. It was one of those things that, once you see it, you can't un-see it. I used a golden-yellow paint marker to obliterate all but one of the fish...I left it there as a wink to myself, even though I'll never see it again.

Those are the only two such instances in my landscape quilting "career" that I know of. Hopefully they're the last, but I'm not crazy enough to bet on it.

Have a great weekend.  :)


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Done and Done

This week it's an overdue finish for the third (and last!) triple-arch window quilt, Forest Villa.

Here are some closeups:

As I finished this landscape quilt, it suddenly occurred to me that I had packed the previous arched-window quilt, Wooded Villa, for shipping without sewing a hanging sleeve on it. If that doesn't prove I was ready to be done with this series, I don't know what does!

Next week, a finish for the undersea quilt.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, June 6, 2019

Geeking Out

You know you're a fabric geek when you freak out upon seeing a character in Outlander wearing something you've only ever seen in your stash...

...Murtagh!! In season two, episode six, Suzette dresses him in a luxurious waistcoat for the ball at the Palace of Versailles. When I first saw it, I rewound the dvd and paused it to make sure...and it is the same, or nearly the same, bird fabric (in a different color) as the ones from my upholstery sample books! Shiny fabric (I don't remember what type) with beautifully embroidered birds all over it. I still don't know what I'll do with them (the pieces are only about 8" x 10", if that).

On the quilting front, I just received the binding fabric for Forest Villa (the last triple-arch window quilt) and am waiting for the binding fabric for the underwater scene, which is now quilted, blocked and trimmed. Meanwhile, there's a new lake/sailboat scene on the design board, incorporating an interesting stripey batik I've always wanted to use for water.

Have a great weekend!


Friday, May 31, 2019

Before and After

You might say it's been a before-and-after week.

The third triple-arched window quilt has been blocked, and just needs squaring, trimming and binding. Fabric for the binding had to be ordered--nothing in the stash worked. Anyway, here's another great example of what a difference blocking makes. I never get tired of saying that, and really I don't have to...the photos say it all.


AFTER...and yes, it stays that way!
'Nuff said. Except this: I used to block quilts with a grab-bag of things like corrugated boxes or cutting mats plus flannel-backed vinyl tablecloths and folded sheets, both flannel and cotton. Everything but the box or cutting mat would have to be smoothed as much as possible (I refuse to iron sheets) before pinning the quilt down through it all with t-pins.

And then last year I saw these on a knitting podcast...

...and I'll never go back. These are WONDERFUL. T-pins come with them, and easily pierce the semi-firm rubber foam. I bought two sets (a total of 18 interlocking pieces) so that I can put together a blocking mat large enough for a good-sized landscape quilt or for all the knitted pieces of a sweater at once. Great for either a table or the floor, and you can use steam to block (iron hovering only--no pressing). Here are a couple of photos of the mat in action (click to enlarge):

Left: Laying out the third triple-arched window quilt.

Right: Front piece of NaCraga, an Aran sweater pattern by Alice Starmore.

On to project two: The underwater scene background is quilted now--though not at all densely, in order to keep it from shrinking too much vertically. Otherwise the placement of all the fish and turtles would have changed considerably and they would have been more crowded.

Before quilting
After quilting

You might have to click on each one of these to see any change, but the second one is quilted. I loved the variegated background so much that I wanted no change in appearance after quilting it. So I visually divided it into nine vertical horizontal sections (marked with horizontal pins in the photo below) and matched each one as best I could to one of my Isacord thread colors. It worked out pretty well.

Next comes the gluing and fusing. I took several closeups of the layout so that I can put all the fish, turtles and plants back where they were (see previous blog post). I still like the look and don't plan on changing anything.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Diving In

The fact that it took only 45 minutes to steam-press yardage and design an underwater scene from the fabrics auditioned in the last post (the fish and turtles had already been cut out) just proves how desperately change was needed. I dove in headfirst, cutting the plants lickety-split with a rotary cutter, and making myself quickly pin the fish and turtles to the quilt top at random, instead of taking an hour or two to think about where to put each one. That was a first for me.

Everything is only pinned to the board here.
Also for the first time, I plan to quilt the entire background before adding all the applique (I usually fuse/glue everything down and quilt around it all), using the dual feed foot instead of free motion to make the quilting easier on my neck and shoulders. The plants will also be edged in satin stitch using dual feed, while the fish and turtles will be quilted in free motion.

Meanwhile, the third triple-arch window quilt now has satin-stitch on the arch edges, and the wall is underway. It will probably take another two afternoons to finish outlining each stone. Then it's time to block, trim and bind the quilt. Hallelujah!!

You can sort of tell which stones are outlined and which aren't yet.
Have a great weekend, and for the U.S. a meaningful holiday as we remember those who have died while serving our country.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Not Just About Time

This spring has been mostly about family, beginning with a fun-packed visit from my sister-mamalaw Susie from WY, then another fun visit from my sister Karen from IN, followed by a lovely day trip to visit my niece Whitney and her husband and their new baby in another part of IN, then a trip for my sister and me to visit my my mother in TN, from which point the three of us took a gorgeous drive to NC to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins for a reunion long overdue.

Meanwhile, progress on the third quilt in the triple arched window series has been sporadic and sluggish. But it's finally pieced, sandwiched, basted and on the machine. So, what (other than time) was the issue for this third one?

To backtrack for a moment: In nine years, I've never repeated a landscape quilt. Variety is what keeps me interested. However, the last two landscapes I made did use the same arched window/opening design (see previous blog posts on Villa with a View and Wooded Villa).

Click on photo to enlarge.

I don't mind using the same cat...
Granted, a different wall fabric and background scene was used in each. But I couldn't help noticing that progress was slower on the second one. I told myself it was only because (as mentioned in the blog post Wooded Villa), I wasn't as happy with my fabric choices the second time.

Can we say "denial"? Because, due to the painfully  c r e e p i n g  progress on this third quilt, I can no longer deny that repeating even just that one design element was too much similarity for me.

Admittedly, it seemed like a real timesaver at first--one drawing for three quilts (I did re-trace new pattern pieces each time, figuring the outlines would get wonky with the second and third cuts).

This fall foliage is the top half of the panel used in Wooded Villa, the second quilt in the series.
Well, that part worked out fine. But despite the different fabric choices for each of the three quilts, the fun and interest were waning fast by this third one.

So, yet again, lesson learned...this particular lesson being one we've all heard many times: "Be true to yourself." Series landscape quilts are great--I love seeing them in magazines and have always been intrigued by the idea--but apparently I don't love making them. Nice to know for certain, though.

So, on to a new design using cooler colors--my favorites! I'm taking a hard look at this fabric combo for an underwater scene. The colors are a treat for my eyes after working with two autumn scenes.

Fusible applique prepared for cutting, using Steam-a-Seam II Lite.
So we'll see what happens with this.

Next time, hopefully, a finish for the third--and last!--quilt in the arched window series.

Have a great weekend!


Friday, March 29, 2019

A Quilt for Linus

This week it's a finish for the twin-size scrappy bed quilt (65" x 88") originally meant to go to The Center for Women and Families here in Louisville.

This is actually an extra-long twin bed. Just realized I didn't take a photo of the back, which was pieced from four fabrics.
It turns out that Project Linus needs it more. So next week this will go to Among Friends Quilt Shop, one of four local collection points for donations. I wonder, in the five years between the inception of Project Linus and the death of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, did he ever learn of Linus's part in this wonderful foundation? I hope so.

The blocks were pieced, sashed and quilted in three separate sections (4 rows, 4 rows, and 3 rows). The sections were then joined before attaching the border and binding. Sandwiching in sections takes a bit of extra fabric and batting, so of course it follows that joining the sections takes some careful trimming and pinning. However, this method of quilting is a good option if you have neck and shoulder issues. (I think of those issues as "the quilter's dirty little secret," because I suspect that many of us deal with them but rarely talk about it. Young quilters would be wise to develop habits that make the quilting process as easy on their bodies as possible. We all want to keep doing what we love as long as we can!)

Moving on. Fabrics have been chosen for the next triple-arch window quilt (using the upper half of the autumn forest panel shown in the last blog post).

My favorite dry stone wall fabric, also used in The Visit and The Tower. This will be the main wall.

A different dry stone wall fabric. This will be the inner arches and sills.
The arches will be framed in the same mottled black fabric used in Villa with a View, pictured a few blog posts back. So, not a whole lot of progress, but it's a start.

Happy spring! Or autumn, depending on your hemisphere.


Friday, March 15, 2019

Wooded Villa

This week brought a finish to Wooded Villa (except for a label).

In my last post I said I was decidedly unhappy with the quilt, and had resigned myself to outlining the arches and sills with satin stitch to achieve more separation between the villa wall and the forest background.

That was done, and it's an improvement, but I'm still not thrilled, by any means. It may be the best it can be, though, with its inherent drawbacks (too much tonal similarity in the wall fabric and the forest panel, made worse by stippling the wall in a medium-brown instead of a light one). However, lesson learned, and you can be sure I won't make these mistakes again.

If you've hung in here with me this far (thanks!), here are some closeups (click to enlarge):

A third triple-arched-window quilt is planned, using the upper half of that same Timeless Treasures forest panel. This time the wall fabric will be chosen more carefully.

Have a great weekend!