Sunday, December 31, 2017

State of the Studio - 2017

As 2017 winds down and we start gearing up for the new year, it is time to once again think about my studio time in the past year.

I was happy to start the year by finishing two previous year (or earlier)projects…..first “Pineapple Sherbert”…..IMG_2838 (2)

…..and then “Himilayan Hallows'”…..


Both of these finishes were helped by the guild quilt show deadline!!!

Next came a special quilt for a very special little boy named Bo…..


During the summer, I contributed my first quilt top to the Quilt’s Of Valor project…..IMG_3391

….and then had a marvelous time working with my Daughter-In-Law on her Tee-shirt quilt…..IMG_3731

….and with my friend Claire on her first quilt…..


By the way, we have continued to meet once a week and Claire is getting really good with piecing.  She even got a sewing machine for Christmas…..


and told me this morning that she has made two nine-patch blocks…..cant wait to see them!!!

The final finish of the year was also pushed along by a deadline….the Ombre challenge……


I am happy to have this quilt hanging in my office for the next few months.

I am finally moving along well with the Roman Tiles quilt, leaving it here this afternoon…..IMG_4882

Hopefully it will be my first finish of 2018!!

Speaking of the new year, I have to say that we are REALLY ready for 2017 to be over.   It has been a long, hard year, punctuated with the various medical issues that Michael has had to deal with.  Looking toward 2018, we have pledged to each other to LIVE each and every day and to try not to waste our time worrying about what COULD happen in the future!! 

To that end, I have decided that my word for the year will be …..





Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Ombre Challenge

Ok….let me start this post by saying that, until a few months ago, I had no recollection of ever hearing the word “Ombre”, as opposed to “Hombre” which , as a Texan, I had heard all of my life.   It is a word that seems to be all the rage right now so I wasn’t surprised when it showed up in our guild challenge. 

Here were the rules for this fun challenge…..

Ombré (pronounced omb-ray) is a French word meaning “shaded”. It means having tones of color that blend into each other, graduating from light to dark. Think of the color gradations on paint chips, for instance. Ombré is a trendy and popular design element in everything from clothing to nail polish to hair color, and of course, quilts.

The first part of your challenge is to play with color values and create a quilt with ombré design elements. It could be monochromatic, showing shades of a single color. It could be a two tone quilt with one color blending into another or a rainbow quilt involving a whole spectrum of colors- we just want to see gradations in color, no matter how you choose to do it.

The second part of the challenge is to dive into your scrap basket and include them in this quilt. Your challenge quilt should have at least 50% fabric scraps, defined as smaller pieces of fabric left over from other projects. We are working on the honor system here. Feel free to swap fabric scraps with your friends! 

As usual, we had 6 months to make this quilt and also as usual, I didn’t start on it until the week before!!!   I had continued to try to come up with ideas but couldn’t find anything that really caught my imagination.  Then, as I was looking on Amazon for books that I could put on my Christmas Wish List, I came across a super simple block and decided  that I wanted to use it as the basis for my quilt.

To keep with the mandate of using at least 50% scraps, I opened my bin of 1.5 inch strips…..IMG_4670

….and started pulling any dark blue fabrics that had at least 10 inches in length.   Then I started pulling various other colors…blues, purples, pinks, peach’s and greens.   Once everything had been pulled and sorted a bit, it looked like this…..


I then took the darkest blue fabric from the top  left column and added it to the lightest purple on the bottom right column and started making random blocks, continuing to match up the left column fabrics with the right and center columns.

When I first laid them out, I was pleased with the results…..IMG_4687

In the end I decided that I really didn’t want the green blocks….except for one at the very bottom and this ended up as my final layout…..


In this photo I was also auditioning various fabrics for a border around the medallion.

In the end, I decided to use a mottled white fabric for the four corners and to move the border out away from the medallion.IMG_4699

By the way, I did NOT do a good job of cutting the four setting triangles and ended up cutting SQUARES rather than triangles!!  Fortunately, there was enough fabric for me to try again but I really need to think thru the math to do this properly next time.

Now it was time to do the quilting and my thought was to do a lot of circles on the medallion and straight lines in the background.    The circles went great and as I quilted them I kept seeing the dark blue 1 inch lines that dominated the block piecing.    I finally decided to extend these lines into the border and do some filler quilting inside them.   While trying to think of filler ideas I ended up looking at my IQA quilt show photos, noting down the ideas as I saw them…..IMG_4728

Then it was upstairs to try a few of them on fabric……


And the winner was this super easy squiggle on the left.…..


I loved doing this simple quilting and even took the time to bury all of my threads as I went  (another of my “do it the right way first” resolutions that I made after the quilt show)…..IMG_4729

My original idea had been to quilt something else in the other channels which were 1.25 inches wide, but I was so pleased with the texture that showed, I decided to leave it the way it was.


Here is the finished product……


…and I am super happy with how it turned out. 

And for those of you who ask, no I didn’t see the dark heart in the center of the top until AFTER it was completely pieced together!

Once again, a challenge led me to make a quilt that I am proud of and helped me to stretch myself to try some new things!!!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Roman Tiles - Part 3

Back in August (wow….4 months ago) I posted about starting a new quilt based on a tile church floor from Rome.   The last thing that I wrote was that I wasn’t happy with the background fabric and that I was going to start over.   I finally got around to it again and here is where we are now…….


Now that is a loaded question.   I don’t WANT to start over but  I know that I will be happier with the project if I do, so reluctantly I chose the “yes” button!!

Since I had a chance to make it even better, I decided to start with the background fabric, this time using a PFD (Prepared For Dyeing) cotton and a new pot of paint…..


After it dried, there were a few whiter spaces that needed to be painted so I used a sponge and added more color.  This was the final product…..


With the first version, I was using freezer paper patterns to lay out the quilt but had a fear that, since I hadn’t laid out the ENTIRE pattern, I would get to the last corner and it simply wouldn’t fit.  So I used this reset to do it right.   I drew out the entire pattern using white pencils and was pleased to see that it would fit well on the background…..


I started again with the center circle and then added the first corner piece…..


My plan is to work the one round in each of the corners and then go back a fill in the rest of the sections.  So, here goes…….

I added the other three corner circles, fairly pleased with how it was looking…..IMG_4522

But, when I got it up on the wall I could see that the bottom left circle was too dark and would get lost in the background fabric.   I peeled off some of the darker fused triangles, replacing them with lighter colors.   I was happier with the result…..


….but it really started to look good when I added the first circles of “setting stones”…..


The bottom right circle is the same color as the others but apparently had more light from the nearby window!!!!

It was about here that I went to the Houston show and came back with my newfound desire to focus on the details of my work, so I made some decision which have slowed the project down a great deal but which I hope will help the overall design.  My original idea was to fuse all of the pieces onto the background, set it up for quilting and use the quilting to hold each of the pieces down.  But then I got to thinking that I really wanted to “tiles” to float on the background and for the background to recede.  If I quilted on TOP of the tiles then the edges would be receding too.   So the decision was made to stitch each of the tile pieces down first and then just do the quilting on the “grout” portion.  It has taken an amazing amount of time to stitch each of those little pieces down but I am still happy that I have made that change.

At one point I had thought about getting all of the pieces fused in place before I started the sewing process but had noticed that some of the smaller ones were starting to peel off so I stopped and sewed them all down.

During this sewing process I started noticing that some of the fabrics were already beginning to fray so I decided to prolong the project further by painting around EACH and EVERY piece with Fray Check.  Fortunately it was something that I could do at night while watching TV with Michael……IMG_4544

So now I have stabilized every piece that was already fused down and I am ready to tackle the inner circle of each of the larger circles.   I am going to make my life a bit easier and go ahead and paint fray check around each piece edge BEFORE it is fused to the top and I will also force myself to persevere and sew each section down as I finish it.

More to come….and hopefully it wont take another FOUR months!!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Other People’s Money and Other fun things!!

Today, I drove to Atlanta with my friend Linda to help her pick out a new sewing machine.   She had used my Juki and really liked it so off we went to buy one for her.  While she was trying out the new machine, I did some looking around (which is always a bad idea)!!

I was excited to find a set of nested circle machine quilting rulers…..IMG_4663

As soon as I got home I had to try them out!!!   Each ruler is 1/4 inch wide and they were fairly easy to use.  Here are my first attempts…..


Yes, there are a few wobbles and one where I simply quit and started over, but for the most part I am happy with them.  The individual  rulers are a bit slippery so I may need to find some VERY small pieces of grippy stuff (the technical name) to hold them in place better.

The guidelines were drawn in place using a tool that I bought at Houston…..IMG_4665

While I was there, I also invested in a sampler pack of rulers put out by Westalee…..


It came with 6 different rulers that can be used to made an infinite number of different designs…IMG_4666

Since I was already in “play mode” I pulled out the petal ruler and gave it a try as well…..IMG_4668

Before I could try any others, I ran out of bobbin thread (sigh) and, besides, it was time to fix dinner order pizza, so I reluctantly put my play things away!!

But, the good news is that tomorrow I am free until the all-important football game at 4:00  (University of Georgia vs Auburn University) ….GO DAWGS, so the plan is to spend most of that time in the studio!!!

Hope your weekend includes some creative time as well……

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