Monday, February 28, 2011

Whisper Quilt 3

On to Whisper Quilt number 3. Diane received Marlys' quilt and toyed with the idea of portraying a school since Marlys had schools of fish, but in the end Diane decided on an underwater quilt. She placed fish, a turtle, an octopus, a mermaid ,a sea horse and then... a yellow submarine complete with Beatle pictures in the portholes. How clever!

Once Diane finished she passed it along to Elaine.
And on another note, today is my son, Jake's, birthday. He turns 22 today which he says sounds quite old. He thoroughly enjoyed being 21 and all the privileges that age entails. Happy Birthday Jake!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Whisper Quilt 2

So Marlys received my Whisper Quilt and immediately realized it was a ray. After a trip to the aquarium (I assume she meant the Scripps Aquarium which I'm ashamed to say I've never visited.) she decided it was a bat ray. A combination of my quilt and her aquarium trip inspired her to make an undersea quilt and what stood out the most to her were the schools of brightly colored fish. So here is her Whisper Quilt.
At this point she returned my quilt to me and passed hers along to the next person, Diane.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Whisper Quilt

Finally I can show one of my Whisper quilts! One of the groups finished yesterday. Congrats to all and I hope you enjoy your winner's prizes.

You don't know what a Whisper quilt is? Well here's the idea: one person starts (that would be me in this case), creating a small quilt (our quiltlets all had to be 12" x 12") on whatever theme they want. I chose to make this manta ray, based on a Sylvia Pippin sashiko design. The manta itself is created using the turned-edge freezer paper and starch method and then invisible zigzag appliqued to a background fabric that reminded me of seaweed. Using a home made stencil from freezer paper (goodness I go through a lot of that stuff!) I stenciled the designs on the manta using a Stewart Gill paint called Seafoam. I quilted the entire thing using iridescent Sliver thread.

Then I passed it on to Marlys. I didn't tell her what it was, just handed it to her. She looked at it, pondered and created her quiltlet using mine as inspiration. Then she returned mine to me and passed hers on to the next person.

We also wrote down our thought processes as we went so others could see how we arrived at where we were. Definitely a good idea, LOL.

I will show more of them in the next several blog posts. Wait until you see what happened!


P. S. My manta quilt's name is Opel. Anyone know why?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Steps in Quilting: Quilting

This segment of your quilting adventure involves many choices. Hand quilting vs machine quilting. Long arm vs. domestic home machine. Quilting it yourself vs. hiring someone else to quilt it. I've used or done all of the above and the choice often comes down to time and/or money.

Once these choices are made then you need to choose the quilting pattern(s) to enhance your pieced or appliqued design. The traditional rule of thumb says use curvy designs when you have linear piecing, use linear designs when you have curves. But of course rules are meant to be broken so don't be a slave to fashion. Experiment!

I've read about lots of tricks using a clear substance and markers to simulate various quilting designs. Use whatever works for you, but my favorite method when I'm going to quilt it myself is to make a quick block or segment of the piece and actually quilt it using the thread(s) I've chosen. Yeah, I know that's more work, but maybe you have an extra block that didn't quite work out or some leftover fabric... There's no other way to really see how it's going to look AND to see how your skills interpret those designs.

Is quilting my favorite part of the process? Heck no! But do I quilt my own work? Yes, when it is not too big (lap size and under, jackets are perfect!). We've all heard about the woman who can quilt a king size quilt on her home machine, but it ain't me. My shoulders just can't take that kind of pushing and shoving. As a person who calls herself a quilter I'd feel really lame if I couldn't quilt. Plus I'd go broke hiring someone else all the time!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tea for Three?

Here's my latest addiction. I bought a teapot and cute little cups. I plan on using it both for decoration and >gasp< to make tea! I've discovered some absolutely fabulous teas and I think drinking them will help my weight loss program.

Without the tea, following the Weight Watchers plan I lost 2.2 lbs the first week. Not earth shattering, but a step in the right direction. I hope to lose 25 lbs. by July.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Steps in Quilting: Assembly

Assembling blocks is another of my favorite things to do. Not only am I getting much closer to finishing, but I get to play around with color and value. The juxtaposition of the blocks can make a huge difference in a quilt, and even more in a jacket.

I like to work with many fabrics for a scrappy feel and tend to prefer a subtle blending of lighter values at the top down to darker values at the bottom of a jacket. It just makes sense. For a quilt, I also occasionally put the lighter values diagonally across the quilt shading to darker values in two opposing corners, like a beam of sunlight. I once tried to make a charm quilt with fabrics all willy-nilly and it bothered me so much I couldn't finish it and had to give it away. Guess I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to color and value :-)

Where do you layout your quilt blocks to play with this? I used to lay them out on my bedroom floor, in the room next to my sewing room. This worked, especially if I knew what I was going for to begin with, but was less than ideal, especially with cats or kids in the house. Now I have a nice big studio and a design wall. It only took me 20 years to get them!

I know many people who stack their blocks and take a bunch of them together to the sewing machine to stitch together. Not me! I'm an old-fashioned kind of gal when it comes to the actual assembly; I take one pair at a time to sew, press and return to the design. I figure if I spent that long getting everything laid out exactly how I want it, including the block orientation, I'm not going to take a chance on messing it up. Another thing, putting it back in place each time gives me a chance to see any errors right away. How many of you have put the entire quilt top together before you realized something right in the middle was wrong!

I have one jacket at the assembly stage, just the sleeves left to make, so a new jacket may show up in a week or two!


Friday, February 18, 2011

Dear Lisa

I finished something! That is such a wonderful feeling :-)

This jacket is based on the Dear Jane quilt blocks. I love making miniatures, but haven't really made many since my grandmother passed away. She was in a nursing home and I sent her a new mini wall hanging for her room every Christmas. (Unfortunately when she passed away they all disappeared. A word to the wise.)

The Dear Jane blocks are a larger size (finished at 4-1/2 inches, I think) so I scaled these down to 3 inches finished size. This limited me to nine-patch designs unless I wanted to do a lot of tedious drafting work, but that's okay, there are lots of wonderful nine patch blocks.

I quilted with metallic gold thread around each block, then stippled the background. I played with a new-to-me idea for the quilting; I quilted some areas with black thread and other areas with the metallic gold thread. I think it looks great, but it's subtle. (It doesn't show up at all in most of the pictures.) Next time I will use a tighter quilting design.
P.S. Do you think Dear Lisa is a good name for this jacket or can you come up with something better?

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I am NOT political and I rarely read the news, but when I read about what is happening in Bahrain today I had to say something.

We lived in Bahrain for 2 years from 1997-1999 and my husband lived there again for a year recently (2009) so of course I visited him.

Bahrain is a fascinating place full of culture and exotic sights and sounds. Not necessarily all beautiful sights, but I think everyone should get a chance to experience a place like this. It changes your perspective.

I am saddened to see the unrest and most especially to see the government's reaction to it. Pearl Square (or the Pearl Roundabout as we called it) is the largest and best known of the many many traffic circles in Bahrain. (Personally I think they're a really great way of avoiding traffic lights, but they take some getting used to.) The thought of tanks and soldiers in that area makes me so sad.

While we were in Bahrain there were protests against the government and we had to be careful where we, as Americans, went. Small villages were off-limits, but you could still occasionally see the results of a bomb from the previous night on the main roads. But that was nothing compared to the large uprising that is taking place there now.

I only hope that it will get better soon, but I'm afraid that it will not. When we lived there we saw so many people living in extremely poor circumstances and heard of many government injustices and it has not gotten better.

Please keep the Arabic people of Bahrain, whether Sunni or Shi'ite in your thoughts and prayers. I hope they can find a peaceful settlement that both sides can live with.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

May I Go Too?

It has been ages since I posted a picture of my quilting. I suppose that by the nature of quilting that's not very surprising, but if I don't finish something soon I may have to retitle my blog!

Fear not, I'm binding a jacket today so there will be pictures soon. I just wanted to finish all that drafting before I lost the flavor of the jackets. Only sleeves left to do now and they are generally quite simple and quick since so much of the sleeve does not show.

In the meantime you will have to put up with another picture of Kestrel. Here she is, the little minx, trying to sneak into Pierre's gym bag. She just wants to get out and see the world!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Steps in Quilting: Pressing

Pressing, I'm not sure it's anyone favorite thing to do, but it makes all the difference in the world. I've tried finger pressing and those little wooden seam pressers and nothing takes the place of real pressing.

Notice I did not say ironing. When you iron you drag the iron across the fabric which can distort the weave. Pressing is a simple up and down motion and does not distort. Its function is to make the fabric stay where you put it.

Steam or no steam? Personally I love steam. It takes the place of extra downward pressure and really makes the piece lay flat. However it is a lot easier to distort the weave if any sideways pressure is applied so you must be extra careful. One problem most of us have with steam is the way so many steam irons spit water onto your fabric. I don't have any solutions to that one. I did own a fabulous steam iron that never spat, but it was while I lived in the Middle East and the electricity was different over there so I couldn't bring it back with me.

I guess if I have to use an iron I'd rather use it on something flat rather than a convoluted blouse so quilting is the way to go, but really I'd rather just put the ironing board away for the rest of my life. No such luck!


Monday, February 14, 2011


Working title: Feathers (I'm definitely looking for a better name if you have any suggestions)

You can probably tell what I've been doing from the pictures. I have to admit that I am getting quite tired of drafting. I'm ready to sew! Unfortunately nothing is at that point. Oh well, I'm almost done with the drafting (unless I decide to draft the Whimsy sleeves now too, groan...).

Friday, February 11, 2011

Steps in Quilting: Sewing

Okay, truth time. How many of you remember to change your sewing machine needle and clean and oil your sewing machine regularly? And the yearly tune up?

I am pretty good about cleaning my machine. I always clean it after finishing a project and before free motion quilting. Of course it can be months between project completions, but I remember to clean and oil my work horse other times, as well.

Changing needles not so much. I tend to wait until they break or I hear that popping sound they make when they're getting really dull.

And yes, my machine is overdue for a yearly check up.

What else can I say about sewing a quilt? It can be tedious at times, but it can also be relaxing and soothing. It all depends on your mind set and your schedule. If you find yourself not sewing because it seems monotonous I recommend having sewing days with a friend. You might not work as fast, but the time will pass more quickly and you will work longer.

Another option? Try listening to music you love to sing along with or to a really good book on tape. I listen to books all the time while sewing and I can't break away from the project when it's a really good book!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Shadow

Here's a picture of Kestrel who has made herself my little shadow. Wherever I go she follows me. This is her favorite perch in my studio: on top of the "unlovely" hand dyeds that are waiting for a second (or third or fourth) chance at the dye pots. Needless to say they will need washing before that happens now.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Steps in Quilting: Cutting

Another one of my "not favorite" parts of quilting, but worth it to get to the end results. After I've selected fabric I always need to iron it before cutting. When fabric comes into my home it is washed, dried and ironed, but then it's folded and put away in a box with the appropriate colors. I know that not everyone washes their fabric, but I have enough allergy problems without dealing with whatever they may have put on the fabric so mine is washed.

After pressing I cut one block and do a test block, just to make sure the pattern is correct. Whether it's a commercial pattern or my own design it never hurts to check to make sure the measurements are correct, the fabrics work for what you envisioned and the scale is right.

Then it's just a matter of cutting, cutting cutting. I have a perfect cutting table with a big mat and several rotary cutters. I tend to be naughty about replacing blades and simply switch to a better blade until they all need a new one. Then I very sweetly ask my husband to change them all! Sharp objects are just too scary!


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Who Me?

I was hoping to have a picture of my latest jacket, the one using those gold and black fabrics a la Dear Jane, but alas, it is not done yet. Instead I got to spend a fun weekend with my daughter. So I will show you some fun Ninja had with his scratching pad. Fun for him, not so much for the one who had to clean it up...


Monday, February 07, 2011

Steps in Quilting: Fabric Selection

I know that for many people fabric selection comes before this, but I like to select my fabric after I've decided on a pattern and drafted it so I have at least an inkling of how much of each fabric I will need. No, I'm not one of those people who figure everything out exactly as far as fabric requirements, but it's nice to have an idea...

Digging through my stash for the perfect fabric is always fun, if exhausting. I mean hauling out all those boxes of fabric to find the perfect one is quite a workout! I am on a kick lately to use what I have, if possible. Perhaps it's a feeling of my own mortality, but I could probably go for the rest of my life without buying more and still not run out. I am a stickler for finding the exactly right colors though so if I don't find what I need in my stash I am willing (eager even!) to run to the quilt store and purchase more.

I adore putting fabrics together. Sometimes I think there would be nothing more fun than to work in a fabric store and help others select fabrics, but then I realize how expensive it would be to be so close to all that yummy fabric and common sense takes over. It would seriously cut down on my sewing time, too.

Yes, fabric selection is another favorite step on my road to creating a new quilt or jacket. How about you? Do you dread fabric selection? Do you prefer to buy kits or jelly rolls to avoid it? Or is it fun, fun, fun to consider all those yummy possibilities?


Friday, February 04, 2011

February Chickie!

I finished my February chickie already! Last month was the hard part: selecting fabrics and threads, etc. Now I wish they were coming faster!


Thursday, February 03, 2011

Steps in Quilting: Drafting

The step that follows designing, most of the time is drafting. I have to admit this is not one of my favorite parts of quilting. I'm more of a fly-by-the seat-of-your=pants kind of girl. However most of the time it is necessary to draw up a block, or draft an overall layout of what you have in mind. I admit I must be in the correct frame of mind to draft a new project. And honestly there have been plenty of ideas that have not been drafted. I figure that if I'm not interested and excited enough about a new idea to draw it out then it's probably not worth making. Does this step stump you, too?

As a side note, while I was on my computer yesterday there was a flash and the screen went dark. Immediately a high pitched whistle, which sounded eerily like a scream, started. Panicked I called my son in and he pronounced the battery backup/ surge protector dead. Phew! Of course it took another day to procure one and hook it up, but I'm happy to say that all is well.

Look at the link my daughter sent me!


Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Pattern Grading

If you don't hear from me quite as often here's the reason:
One of my New Year's resolutions last year was to have my jacket pattern available in multiple sizes. It didn't happen. I couldn't find anyone interested in grading the sizes and the class I took in pattern design didn't cover that topic. I am a reasonably intelligent person so I decided to give it a try myself. I purchased the above text book and am wading through it. I plan to give it a try next week.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Steps in Quilting: Design

It's easy to see why so many people enjoy quilting. There are so many different steps involved, many of which require different talents.

The first step is designing. While many people skip this step by buying patterns or taking classes I find this to be one of my favorite steps. It starts with the germ of an idea. It may be something totally new or just a "what if I" tweak to a traditional pattern. Either way the designer gets to mentally page through their own catalogue of techniques, figuring out how to take this idea and make a quilt (or wearable!).

What's your favorite part of quilting?