Sunday, July 31, 2005

Improvisational "Rules"

Things to keep in mind:

You are doing this to have FUN

The improvisational method has two important “rules”

If it's too long, cut it off.

If it's too short, add to it.

Cut several strips of varying widths from each fabric you intend to use for the quilt. I find that if I don't cut the strips beforehand I tend to never get around to using that particular fabric. I'll get into cutting the strips a bit further on.

While working with small pieces, it's no big deal to cut with scissors. But once the units get a bit bigger I do recommend switching to a rotary cutter and ruler.

I attach pieces and pieced sections of fabric to strips (and then whack off the extra length of the strip) because it is really easy. But you can always use a scrap instead.

During the early phases of construction, there is no proper size. Nothing has to be just right. Add or subtract, it doesn't matter.

A consistent 1/4" seam allowance is completely unneccessary; however do try for a straight seam. Do keep in mind the use of the quilt - if it's going on the wall then a narrow seam won't be a big deal. If it's going to be a lap, bed, or crib quilt then closer to 1/4" the better. You can always cut down a seam allowance that is bigger than a 1/4" if you are going to be hand quilting, otherwise who cares? Well, I don't care anyway. Maybe people who actually machine quilt might have an opinion on that.

It isn't necessary to use an iron while working on the units (that's what I call the letters and numbers before they are finished to their final size, when I then start calling them blocks). If you want to, knock yourself out. Once you are trying to make things a certain size, then it matters and pressing with an iron is important.

You're making folk art. Forget about perfection.

Cutting Strips and Capitals T, I and H

In order to properly illustrate the lessons, I've started working on a new sampler of my own. Now you know I just finished a monster of a lettered quilt top that had many fabrics. Consistent letter fabric, different fabrics for the background. Lots of different fabrics. It kind of made me nuts. So I'm going to simplify and just use two fabrics: red and white. Nice contrasty fabrics so you can hopefully see what I'm doing. I'm also making the letters fairly small, I suspect they'll be about 2 1/2" finished. It's easier to learn when you work larger though.

I'm starting with the capitals, moving from the easiest letters to the hardest. I'll provide dimensions just to give you some place to start. The letters will come out to roughly 3" or 4".

The first cut I take out of my fabric is usually about 2" from the edge. I don't want to waste a bit of it. This first piece usually gets cut into quarters and sometimes even smaller so that all the edges are straight. I only cut off frayed bits (or the nasty white lines you can get sometimes with torn fabric).

Here are my strips.

Cut several strips of varying widths from each fabric. Try to do this without measuring too much: a consistent size throughout the strip isn't a biggie. I am the queen of the V-cut strip, I assure you. Just cut the strip in half, or quarters if necessary, so that you're not trying to sew with a strip that has a peak or dip in it.

In fact, you may want to make deliberately angled cuts. I like the look myself. The two red strips at the end are angled cuts running from something like 3/4" at their narrowest to 2"-ish at their widest.

The widest strip should be cut roughly between 1 1/2" and 2", and the skinniest about 7/8" to 3/4", and another strip somewhere in between. You can cut more than three different width strips if you want to.

If you look at my first sampler quilt, I think the widest strip I cut was about 1 1/2" - I didn't start using wider strips until later quilts. If you want your letters to be more consistent, then go for the narrower size. For the red and white sampler I'm working on, I want to have really wide and then really narrow sections of the letter, plus the occasional inbetween, so I'm not going wild with intermediate sized strips. For the big bed quilt I had a range of letter strips that graduated in size by 1/8" plus several angled cuts.

The letters T, I, and H

Examples of these letters can be found at the end of this post. Poor planning on my part, sorry.

To make the T, cut a chunk of letter fabric (from now on refered to as l-fabric) about 2" long and sew it lengthwise to a background fabric (b-fabric) strip. Cut the strip so that it is even with the letter fabric. I've illustrated this with a rotary cutter ruler, but I use scissors.

Always whack off any extra so that the longer bit is even with the shorter bit. This cut can be an angle, it just has to be relatively straight.

Now add this pieced bit to another strip of b-fabric, with the l-fabric in the middle. Then whack it even.

Follow the same procedure for the I, keeping in mind that the middle section will need to be a bit narrower than the one you made for the T. I don't want things to always be consistent, so on my I, I've added more b-fabric on one side than on the other.

Finish the T by sewing this unit onto an l-fabric. Do that and then do that again for making an I.

An H is made exactly the same as an I, but I wanted to show an alternate method for making it, using strip insertion. If you don't want to play with angles, you don't have to.

For this one cut a section of b-fabric about 3" long. In roughly the middle, make an angled cut. You're going to sew the strip in between those two sections. You'll see that I have the l-strip placed closer to the lower half, beginning on the left side and that the l-strip angles OUT from the sections. When pieced, there will be extra sticking out. If I were to sew from another spot, I might end up with the letter fabric angling in, meaning I'd have to seam rip OR make the unit narrower. So sew the l-strip in, then even up the edges on both sides. There is a picture of that after this next picture. (Sorry, thought I had all the pics in the proper order, but I obviously really didn't.)

Then to add the next bit of b-fabric, you must give yourself a 1/4" overlap so that when you open it up, the edge is all straight. If you do it wrong, you'll immediately understand what I mean. Sometimes doing it wrong (several times) is the way to finally learn that lesson. It's not like the world is going to end. You can whack something off at an angle.

Anyway, it should look something like this when you attach it.

And this is the bit that should have been above, the evening up process:

Anyway, the slanted bar H is finished the exact same way as the I.

And here all the completed letters. I'm impressed with what a good photo I got of these. I didn't want to get out the iron, so I zapped the letters with a spray of water to get them to lie flat, and I can even see the water blotches.

Clear as mud?

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Alphabet Sampler

I was reading through Bonnie's guestbook on her Quiltville blog, and came across a request for instructions on free-piecing letters. Hey, I'm thrilled to be asked, your wish is my command.

But first, here’s my Alphabet Sampler quilt. It’s 36” x 38”.

I think I’ve previously mentioned that I discovered I could free-piece letters while working on Halloween Houses (which you don’t get to see until the appropriate holiday season). I loved the letters and wanted to play some more. Initially I planned to do something like a traditional alphabet quilt with each letter of the alphabet making up an individual block and sashing in-between.

Then it struck me that I could make a quilt which looked like a cross-stitch sampler. Long ago, I tried to cross-stitch one of those for myself. I stitched the letter A in royal purple, or at least stitched most of it. Then I got bored, hated the counting, and tossed the whole thing aside. So here was another chance to make myself a sampler.

I had a gorgeous 2-yard piece of hand-dyed fabric which I had never worked up the nerve to cut into. I decided the fabric – which wasn’t just purple but also pink and blue – would be stunning set against black and that the variations in the fabric would help give each character its own look, while allowing me to only cut about three strips to get started. The hand-dye also had the advantage, as did the solid black, of being completely reversible.

I started at A and worked my way through the alphabet, working on about three letters at a time. (In a classic do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do fashion, I recommend strongly that you don’t follow my example and instead work on the easiest letters first if you’re trying this technique out.) I used every letter and number I created even when I wasn’t thrilled with it (the W in particular comes to mind). As I went along, I freely made the letters and numbers without worrying about what size they were and without adding any of the background fabric around them.

Having said that, I only had a height variance in the units of about 2”. I expect that if I had made characters with just the skinniest strips and then made others with just the widest, I would have had more of a discrepancy. As it was, didn’t have a problem.

After all the units (the letters and the numbers) were together I started fiddling with them to figure out how many could go on a line. I put the zero at the end of the alphabet and split up my last name, an effect I quite like, and which you may have noticed in my recently pieced bed quilt.

For each line, I figured out what was the best height for the characters to be. Now knowing what a pain in the patootie that is, I make all the characters in a quilt the same finished height. It just saves on aggravation, but probably lessens the character of the quilt. It’s a sacrifice this lazy gal is willing to make.

Some letters had to be cut down; others needed background added to make them taller. After that step, I added a narrow strip to the right of every unit (except the last on the line) – otherwise they’d all be jammed up against one another. Then joined all the characters on each line, and sewed a narrow strip between the lines. Not that you need to know all the gory details, so I'll stop babbling now.

So that's my quilt. In the near future I will begin writing out the instructions for how to piece liberated letters so that anyone who is interested can try them out. I would love to get feedback so that I know people are actually following along. Hey start a blog and let me know where it is and I'll keep track of your progress that way. Or you can leave comments here in my blog. Anybody interested?

Friday, July 29, 2005

running stitch applique

This is a detail shot of "Liberty Blooms." This flower is a bit over 4" across.

Running stitch applique isn't raw edge. The edge is rolled under in the same way as needle turn applique (or you could baste it down if you wanted to be picky and precise, which surely you wouldn't, maverick quilter), but instead of taking those "invisible" stitches, you do a running stitch. That's the same stitch as you use to quilt. The stitches you see here are applique stitches, with the exception of the quilted swirl in the middle of the flower. I also quilted around each of the shapes, but for the most part that isn't visible.

No, the edges aren't completely smooth and certainly the shape isn't a perfect circle, but that's kind of the point. I want it to look like it's made by hand. This is a wonderful technique for liberated appliquers who still like the traditional look of edges-turned-under, non-fused, hand-done (is that a word?) applique but without being fussy about it.

We got a new camera, which took this great detail shot. It's a wee Canon SD400 and takes better photos than my bigger camera, which just chokes on detail shots.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Dear Quilters' Newsletter Magazine,

I will not be renewing my subscription. It pains me to say that after 17 years of being a faithful reader I no longer find enough of value to continue getting your magazine. When I renewed three years ago I was still living in the U.S. and found the show listings useful, which pushed me over the edge of the fence onto the renew side. Plus I still had hope then that things would improve. They haven't. After seeing the most recent issue's "fresh look" I know they won't.

First off, way too many patterns. I have not once, even when I was a squeaky clean brand new baby quilter, ever made a quilt from one of your patterns nor have I ever desired to. Maybe I should repeat that point for emphasis: too many patterns. One pattern per issue (and that includes the horrible patterns that extend into four or more issues - aiyee) max.

Shop Talk? Aka, advertising without the benefits to you of getting paid to put it in the magazine. The so-called book "reviews" - ditto.

If "At Home With Quilts" (which has been missing in action for several years now) were in every issue, I'd still be getting the magazine. I love seeing how people decorate with quilts. [If Patchwork Place published another book on decorating with quilts I would so buy it.]

As it is, the magazine I anxiously look forward to is Quilting Arts Magazine. It's colorful, joyful, and full of techniques, not patterns. Sure, lots of those techniques aren't for me -- I'm not going to buy a heat gun and the idea of plastic on my quilt is repellent, but I still love reading about it and seeing photos of great quilts. The magazine has even gotten me interested in areas outside of quilting, such as embroidery, and having my horizons expanded is not a bad thing.

disappointedly, Tonya

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Wrapping Up July

So I'm posting the last of my 4th of July quilt photos. July is just about over, so it's time to get the house back to it's usual state. This is Liberty Tea - it appeared in a photo of several of my 4th of July quilts, way back in June. This is another crustie, inspired by the methods (but not the subject matter or style) of Susan Shie. Made this one last year. It's not too much larger than this photo.

I'm now on season 3 of "The Gilmore Girls" and rather bummed by the whole Christopher thing. I really liked having him around. Not to give it away to anyone who hasn't seen it, but the whole deviled egg bit after the baby shower was priceless.

We're just finally getting "Angel" season 5 over here, which I managed to miss, seeing as how we left the states right as it started. The most recent episode about Spike and the Reaper was excellent. I've never been as big of a fan of "Angel" as I have of "Buffy" - the whole humourless tortured vampire with a soul thing got old. Thank goodness for Wesley and now Spike for enlivening it. But, ouch that hurt when Angel said he'd always liked William's poetry. William, that was Spike's name, right? Early onset of senile forgetfulness here.
This is "Liberty Blooms" - if you look closely in the lower right side red area you can see where I quilted that in, plus the year 2005. I made this thing in just two weeks. I was having such a blast it went really really fast.

I got the idea from a combination of sources. Gwen M did a series of folk art applique articles in the magazine "Ladies Circle Patchwork & Quilting" way back in the 1990's. She did several vases with flowers that I adored. Additionally, Roberta Horton's "Scrap Quilts" has some flowers and vases quilts that also speak to me. So this was my version. I used the running stitch applique method for the first, but probably not last, time ever. It adds a great detail - like you've quilted 1/16" from the edge. I did quilt around each of the shapes with regular white quilting thread, to make the shapes pop out a bit and add some detail.
Bonnie made a reference in one of her comments to my Uncle Sam Bob. This is him. He's a Bob because he doesn't have arms or legs (refers to a bad 1980's joke). I made him this year and am not too thrilled with him. I tried to make it too elaborate with the hat brim and the different fabrics. I gotta stick to the simple folk art method of my Santa Bobs (which you won't get to see for months, boy what a build-up.)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Harry Potter

In a world where there are awful people doing awful things (and in a fictional world where there are awful fictional people doing awful fictional things), it's good that there is love. Love and kitties to amuse us by playing "who's in the box?"

I've done nothing today besides read Harry Potter and take care of a few necessities such as eating, showering, the usual. Now I've finished and can come up for air. The book was most excellent, but a bit of a downer. No, not a bit of a downer -- a downer. No surprise that, since each book has been darker than the previous one. Now I can't believe we have to wait for the next one. I want it now.

Lance has, inevitably, won the Tour de France and I am bereft. No more Tour de Lance. Ever.

I need to go and do something happy, like watch the rest of "Gilmore Girls" season 2. They'll cheer me up with their witty banter, they always do. Go sew a few more beads on my red, white and blue thingy, which is at a really boring point, but can't get to a good one if I don't keep going.
how totally cool is this? My secret plans have been disclosed:

Congratulations on being the creator of a new Evil Plan (tm)!

Your objective is simple: World Domination

Your motive is a little bit more complex: To show them all

Stage One:
To begin your plan, you must first Incapacitate a Scientist. This will cause the world to sit up and take notice, stunned by your arrival. Who is this Unholy Menace? Where did they come from? And why do they look so good in Classic Black?

Stage Two:
Next, you will Seize control of the Pyramids of Giza. This will cause countless hordes of the Undead to flock to you, begging to do your every bidding. Your name will become synonymous with Fuzzy bunnies, as lesser men whisper your name in terror.

Stage Three:
Finally, you will Activate your Secret Death Ray, bringing about an End to Sanity. This will all be done from a Underground Secret Headquarters of Doom, an excellent choice if we might say. These three deeds will herald the end, and the citizens of this planet will have no choice but to elect you their new god.

Trust us, it'll all come together in the end.

Is that totally cool or what. Fuzzy evil bunnies is a tribute to Anya, gone but not forgotten. If you have to ask who Anya is, it doesn't really matter.

For help with your own evil plan, go to
My thanks to Red Shoe Ramblings for showing the way...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

One Patch

I pieced this One Patch by hand in the summer of 2003. We'd packed up all our worldly goods and were living in temporary housing waiting to move overseas. That meant, no Bernina and no fabric stash except for the one I was busy accumulating at local stores.
I wanted this to look liberated even tho I couldn't use my usual methods. So I didn't mark any of the fabric - I just cut out squarish shapes of a similar size from solid fabrics in Amishy colors. I didn't mark sewing lines - I just fudged a quarter inch. This would have been sooo much easier by machine, but no regrets. It kept me out of trouble.
I'm no longer sure how I went about sewing it together, except that I joined lots of two blocks together and then sewed those to make a square of four and on like that until I reached a certain size. I can definitely tell where it was I decided to start sewing one to one to one in a line and then adding that whole to another long line. They weren't quite long enough so I decided to add a rectangle, just guessing how much of that I was going to need.
I'm not thrilled with the final result - seems blah. It looks better in the photo than it does in person in a rare reversal of my usual photoing skills. I handquilted this in x's quite some time ago but haven't finished it off yet. Can't quite decide whether to just bind it and be done or maybe to beat the hell out of it ( put it outside in the sun and dust for few days, walk on it, give it some hard-living and washing) to age it and then get it framed like a fragment of a real quilt. I think it might look great framed whereas it only looks so-so now. Suppose I could always frame it without the brutal treatment first. Any thoughts?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Okay, okay, I've made a decision - I'm leaving the border as is on the bed quilt. I had the top out to show it to a friend and the different bit just didn't look distracting or bad, so it stays. That is after all, the lazy decision. Now i have to acquire the backing fabric. I'm going to get the biiig fabric so there are no seams in it - I don't need no stinking additional seams, this quilt is going to be torture enough to hand quilt as it is. Then I have to wash and iron the backing fabric, a chore I'm not looking forward too, but is necessary since I have so many allergies and fabric sizing seems to be one of them. Go in a fabric store and immediately get the sniffles.

This is the project I am working on now, since the bed quilt is not ready to go. I actually started this project over a year ago, after Andrea Stern's article on "Extreme Embellishment" in the Spring 2004 "Quilting Arts Magazine" appeared. That was my first real exposure to beaded paintings, for lack of a better term, altho I have seen others since.

I got much further along than this, but was really unhappy with how it was turning out. I had all white background, only black and white silamide, and no itty bitty beads. I threw it into the UFO pile where it sat for a year.

Earlier this month I dug the project back up and removed every bead and button from it. Then I painted the background with acrylic paint (which if you water it down too much bleeds all over the place - I'd rather have difficulty shoving the needle through the thicker paint myself). I purchased red and grey silamide and some size 15 seed beads when I was in the States in the spring so I was much better prepared this go round.

Much happier with it this time for the reasons I've already mentioned, but also because I didn't have little isolated pieces that I was encircling separately - this one has flowing lines. It's also easier to add a line to one that already exists, rather than having lots of separate lines that then must be joined smoothly.

Wow, my 2-month old computer hard drive is making a horrible loud buzzing noise. I really hope it's not about to explode - I do NOT want to have to get another and then reload everything onto it - what a pain in the ass that was. Me and computers - scary combination.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


I decided I need a self-portrait of myself to illustrate this blog. This is me, or rather my evil twin, as made in a Turtle Moon Camp with Susan Shie in 2002. Evil Twin is a beautiful robotic china doll thinking "evil thoughts." I do not at all look like a china doll, trust me, but I am brunette and have blue eyes, not that bright or twirly. Evil twin wears the makeup in the family. I do occasionally have those evil thoughts tho, mwa ha ha.

finished the top

Woohoo, I'm thrilled - today I put in the last seam on the bed quilt top. I think. Ooh, and I even made the bed just so I could take this photo. Banner day.

I didn't have enough of any one fabric to do all the outer borders. So I figured, as long as I am using two, might as well use three. That's a different purple on the bottom border than the purple that goes all the way around the rest of it, up until that bit down here on the end, which is purple and blue. I didn't think it was all that different of a color when I put it in, but this photo sure makes it stand out. The two purples is hardly noticeable, but this other bit, hmm. I keep thinking I need to get the quilt on the floor or wall and look at it from a distance, but that defeats the purpose. It's a bed quilt - how does it look on the bed? Don't know, but it's bugging me in the photo.

Gonna put the top away for a bit, then get it out and see what I think. I also have to decide if I'm going to add any last bit to the top of the quilt - another length of the strippy bits with no letters. That would make it easier if I ever wanted to make the bed tucking the top bit under the pillows - as it is now, it's too short for that.

Can I just add that this is not my furniture? It's not my taste at all, came with the apartment. Very traditional mahogany -- bleah for me. My own storaged furniture is huge, chunky, funky oak and the bedframe has a footboard which means the quilt will look even different if and when it's ever used on my own frame.

Great day in the Tour de France. Yet another Discover rider gets a win, following George Hincapie's win on Sunday. And Popovych has the best young rider's jersey AND the Discovery Team is doing well in the overall team standings (tho somehow the internecine struggles of T-Mobile haven't stopped them from leading the team standings. Amazing) and of course Lance has the yellow which he'll take to Paris barring incident or accident.

Tonight is "INXS: Rockstar" - quite the guilty pleasure. My day would just be fabulously complete if only Harry Potter would show up. I guess he's having a hard time swimming across the Atlantic.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Quilt Mavericks

My friend Bonnie and I have started a new webring for quilters who aren't quite arty, aren't quite traditional either. I've always been a "do I really want to join a club that would have me as a member" kinda gal, but seeing as how we are trying to gather together quilters who don't fit in the other clubs, maybe I can manage to attend meetings. (I wish - it would be wonderful to be closer physically.) Anyway, check out the website, see what you think. There's a thingy over there on the right side panel that should work.

And just to give you an idea of what a liberated, maverick quilter can do, here's a bad photo of a quilt I made in ?2002? Maverick quilters do not have to be great photographers -- that's not in the rules. Not that there really are rules.

This quilt is now sitting (safely, please safely, nice and dry, no critters) in storage so I can't take a better picture of it or a close up. The fabric in the center squares has aliens in spaceships on it, plus a couple with eyeballs. Sometimes I have a childish sense of humor and I love fabrics with aliens and monsters on them. The resulting quilts don't get to live on the walls all the time - just for the two or three months around Halloween. Don't feel too bad for them - none of my quilts get to live on the walls ALL the time - I have too many for that.

"Alien Invasion" was made with stars and sawtooth edge a la Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking. Maybe quilting this for me is what started Bonnie off on her no-rules, maverick sewing binge? That, or it just made her nuts, bwa ha ha. I like the way I used the fabrics in this one - very graphic. Sometimes I have a tendency to use too analagous of a color range and get blandness. Not this time. In this quilt the letters are each a different color and the background is a consistent black - the reverse of what I am currently working on.


Here are some of my choices for borders. I think the blue fabric dulls the center too much. The fabric has a floral pattern, which might be a pleasant change from the other almost solidy fabrics. Or not... Probably a completely horrible choice. I'm ruling it out - executive decision.

I quite like the pink, but am not thrilled it's a batik, so harder to quilt through. Maybe it would be better as the inner border with the deep purple around the edge. What do you think? The advantage to the purple is that it's a fairly new Moda and I could cry and cry and get a friend to take pity on me and go get me some more.

Ooh, but look at that pink -- it's bright and happy. It's not like I can decorate with much pink around the house (don't want to drive the dh completely around the bend) but how can he object to a quilt that will barely see the light of day and undoubtedly spend a great deal of time all wadded up? he he he. (No, I'll make the bed with the pretty new quilt on it, really I will)

I am also toying with the idea of piecing a border. Toying mentally, not actually sewing anything together. Maybe I'll go to that Plan B if I sew on the big borders and they zap the life out of this quilt.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

center quilt bit done

I've been slacking off a bit, but still managed to get the central bit of the quilt all together. It still needs a final press and then a trim along the sides, but other than that, finito. That section anyway. I'm pleased with the final size of this - it's exactly how I wanted it. I think what I may do next, unless I get incredibly bored with it, is piece another length like these ones, only without the letters, if that makes sense. It will look kinda like the edges. Might even have to do two of them, and then that will be the bit that tucks under the pillow when you make the bed.

HA! Make the bed. In my adult life I've probably made the bed a dozen times, and that only when I'm taking guests thru to see the whole house. Otherwise, who comes into the bedroom? No humans other than my sweetie and me.

So, yeah, might make the center a little longer in the uppy downy direction. Then there will be an inner border all the way around - I'm planning to audition turquoises for the role. Then the outer border will be wide and purple. I think. If purple works and I certainly hope it does.

Here's Lily being oh so helpful today. To give her credit she watched me pin lengths together and didn't make a lunge for a pin, which is one of her favorite activities. I then have to chase her down until she drops it. Great fun until someone loses an eye.

The other day I wrote something about "icing my knee" - in hindsight I could have phrased that better. I have this image in my head of slathering chocolate frosting on -- some kind of external chocolate therapy. Who knows, it might work.

Tour de France watching was excellent today - finally on some mountains again. Lance made almost the entire field eat dirt, only Basso keeping up with him. Lance didn't win the stage (a breakaway dude did a great job of staying in front of the pack) but now has well over a minute on everybody else.

Tomorrow should be another fantastic day of Touring and sewing. Maybe I'll have the whole thing together. Ba ha ha.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Well, the words are all there now, tho it does concern me a tad that the lines at the top are longer then the ones at the bottom and the lines at the bottom don't split words up at all. Maybe I should try to cram one more thing in just to make it more interesting. And doubtlessly frustrating. Why would I do that to myself when it's all coming together so smoothly?

In this pic I'm auditioning the fabric that's going to go between the lines. Wasn't sure if I should use just one fabric between every single line to unify the whole thing; one piece of different fabric between each line; or break it up some, which is my inclination. Decided on the latter. I have lots and lots of 1 1/4" strips cut for my discarded log cabin and they're all these same fabrics so I started sewing them up this afternoon. Might have to make additional cuts just so that I don't get too long a strip of any particular fabric.

And here is Howler in his favorite box - managed to sneak up on him today. You can see the shark bites he's made - I told you he liked to chew these apart.

Gotta get back to watching the "Gilmore Girls" and icing my stupid knee. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

woohoo--picking up speed

Wow, it's coming together so quickly now, I'm having a heck of a lot more fun. I've edited the whole thing down a bit more, but will have room to include my cats names. I'm kicking myself for all the extra work I did creating letters, but on the other hand if the letters weren't already made I would have taken the lazy route (surprise) and just left the kitties' names out.

All the letters are done now, with the exception of any that I might need to make the bottom line stretch from one side to the other. I can add Summer in before the year 2005. Let's hope I get finished piecing it before October and well just ignore that I started sewing in the Winter time.

Okay, here are my darling cats. As you can see I have their names ready to go up into the quilt tomorrow. This actually isn't that bad of a picture of Howler, in that it captures his personality perfectly - he's a scaredy cat. I'd already taken all the other cats photos, cuz I knew where to find them. When I went looking for Howler, he fled and then got increasingly freaked out as I followed him around waving fabric.

Howler loves boxes - he has a selection of four of them right here. He loves to sit in boxes and he loves to tear them apart with his teeth, so we usually have little bits of cardboard strewn throughout the house.

Today I watched Woody Allen's "Love and Death," an early movie from when he was still funny. Then hours and hours of the Tour de France. Boy, did Lance put some hurting on the rest of the field today on the first alpine run. None of the guys who are supposed to be contenders could keep up with him, altho Ivan Basso isn't too far behind - if he does better tomorrow he can't be counted out, even if he couldn't keep up today.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Been steadily making progress on the quilt. Now have all the letters completed (hurrah) that I think I'll need - I change my mind constantly. When I first wrote this out way back in January I wanted the repetition of "I make this quilt..." - it was going to be in here three times. But during my editing I deleted an entire sentence that started with the phrase and now I'm afraid that it looks truly goofy repeating "I make this quilt" just twice. That sentence might have to bite it as well. Or be modified to remove the beginning of the sentence. sigh.

Words are going to come together pretty fast now since the hard part is finished. I've started sewing together the words I know I need for sure and they're not all up on the sheet. They'll make it in as I get further down.

Last night I started on my "Gilmore Girls" season one dvd but discovered it's not a good program to quilt to since the dialogue is fast and furious. "Moonlighting" on the other hand works great, partly cuz I've seen them before way back when they were first shown. It has snappy dialogue but a lot of it is just funny and not necessary to follow the plot.

I'm unfortunately having knee problems - it's a long-term problem that flares up once in awhile. That means I didn't walk on the treadmill this morning and I've had to take icing breaks throughout the day. By the way, that's the arm of the treadmill that's intruding into the picture.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

another patriotic quilt

Another patriotic quilt, this one made in 2003. Yes, it's overly busy, but I like it anyway. Really showcases some Princess Mirah patriotic batiks - free form stars on a gorgeous true red and on a blue. My only regret is not buying tons more yardage.

My friend Bonnie Hunter (quiltville) machine quilted this on her longarm. It's the only one of my house quilts I haven't quilted by hand. This quilt is temporarily loaned to my parents for an unstated length of time, but probaby NOT the 20 years they are angling for.

I have been making fantastic progress on my bed quilt. I actually bailed out on going to rewatch "Batman Begins" in order to stay home and sew while I was in the groove. I finally determined the width I want for these words, which are going in the middle of the quilt. I figure they'll measure about 58" across, but that has to include blanks at both sides, cuz when I start sewing these things together it's never pretty - the ends get hacked off left and right.

Pity my poor sweet husband who likes everything symmetrical and straight and even. This quilt just took a turn for the worse for him when I decided I had to chop words in the middle (or beginning or end) and put the rest of the word on the next line. He hates when I do that, tho I quite like it, but it became something of a necessity this time. I started placing all the words and realized holy cow, this is going to be much lengthier than I want. I had to either chop up husband (so to speak) or else make that line really short. And the problem just kept recurring, cuz "beneath" is long too.

So this is vaguely what it's going to look like. Not sure how wide the strips are going to be between the lines of letters. Depending on how out of control it gets, it could be as narrow as a quarter inch or as wide as an inch. I actually went back to my original statement and started rewriting. Got rid of a bit of sappiness, kept some other sappiness... Had to figure out how many letters I still needed. Sigh. I end up with an extra k and several bs and yet still have to sew more letters. I'll see how long this gets and some words may go back in. I'm flexible.

Actually good that I stayed home today anyway - the Tour de France started earlier in the day than I was expecting. Lance is still in yellow, but why do I think it's going to be the object of the race for everyone else to gang up on him? All the other teams working together... could be scary.

I mentioned "Batman Begins" earlier. Don't think I blew it off because I don't like the movie. Au contraire, I love it. It's the best superhero movie ever made (at least that I can think of at the moment) and soooo much better than the lousy, ruinous Batman films Joel S. made and which I never managed to completely watch, and better than the Tim Burton films which were way too cartoony and clownish. This film has the right tone and an excellent look and feel to it. And it almost makes me want to watch "American Psycho" to see Christian Bale in it. Almost, but not quite.

Friday, July 08, 2005

I'm back

I guess the blogger powers-that-be decided I could have a blog after all. I was pretty thoroughly disgusted with the whole thing when I couldn't get photos to upload and was considering giving up before I'd even really gotten started.

One of the quilts I put in here days ago, but a better photo of it. Finally downloaded Picasa2 and played with the photo to make it look better, and boy does it ever. I'm just so overjoyed at being able to post pictures again, figured I'd better do it while I could.

Here's how the current project looked on 5 July. I've been making steady progress every day, about 20 letters when I've been making letters. One whole day (sewing part of the day) seemed wasted as I cut strips rectangles ready made to slap on the ends of the words. It is actually more efficient that way in the long run, just boring at the time. I'm making progress and that's what thrills me.

This is a photo of the most adorable cat in the world, my sweet Pokey, participating in the making of my quilt.

Just finished the book "Sabriel" by Garth Nix. It's theoretically written for young adults, but this is the second time I've read it and found it utterly delightful. A young woman has to go over the wall into a land where magic works and the dead rise, in order to save her father. Not sure I have that punctuated correctly. The dead are definitely NOT rising to save dad.

Yesterday I spent too much time watching the news of the bombs in London, but didn't overdose on it and make myself thoroughly depressed. Instead I've been concentrating on the Tour de Lance and making this quilt. Actually picked up a beading project as well, but that's a whole different story.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

technical difficulties

For the last two days I have been unable to load pictures into my blog. Operator error, too slow of a computer connection or the blog gods are against me, I don't know.

I have been steadily working, with the exception of yesterday when I took the day off to hang out with friends and go see "War of the Worlds" (I'll comment on that below, but don't read it if you haven't seen the movie. On 3 July I finished some letters and completed 20 more. Today I made 20 letters, but didn't complete them. Have gotten some more of the words together tho. Slowly, slowly it's all coming together.

Ooh, Lance is in the yellow jersey now. I find it hard to believe that he'll try to keep it all the way to the end - too much work for the team. Still, the DC boys did great and it's just very sad that Zabriskie lost the jersey by falling near the end of the team time trial - ouch.

[SPOILERS] "War of the Worlds" just seemed hollow to me - very stupid people running around mindlessly doing stupid things. A gigantic hole is opening up in the ground, bringing buildings crashing down - ooh, yeah, I'm gonna hang around to see what happens. Mass explosions ahead, yes, keep going that direction. Hm, aliens are destroying as many people as possible, yes, head to all the lights and the mass bunches of people, noooo the aliens wouldn't possibly target the well-lit ferry. Boston, yes lets go to Boston even tho the aliens are destroying the major cities... You idiot, either stay in one safe place with food and water or head for the middle of nowhere and hunker down. geez louise.

And how about the abrupt transition to Boston where all of a sudden the aliens are dying really really fast. A friend was convinced that we must have missed a reel of the film. And Mommy's house is fine, all the people inside (inc the son who should have been blown up) are safe and untraumatized? And the sanctimonious, preachy epilogue about no death from virus has been in vain? Yick. Spielberg could still have saved it by saying, but what about the viruses the aliens have now given the humans???? If they can die from what we have, the opposite is true as well. Big plague coming.

And I can see no reason why the aliens, if they visited earth previously to leave the tripods, didn't just take over the planet then? Why wait? There are obviously fewer resources now than there were hundreds or thousands of years ago. Can't believe blood is that important an ingredient in anything that they had to wait for the population to expand. And if it WAS the blood that was so necessary, why turn all those people to ash?

I don't mind plot holes nearly as much in B movies. Those I can relax and enjoy for what they are. This should have been much better than it was. Yes, the special effects were pretty and it was enjoyable visually. I'll give the filmmakers that. Watch "Minority Report" instead if you need to see Tom Cruise in a scifi film.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy 4th of July to all the Americans out there.

Anyone seen "Night of the Comet?" It's a classic 80's comedic horror film about what happens when a comet passes overhead and anyone outside of a steel enclosure gets turned to dust, or if partially exposed becomes a zombie. It's an excellent film and brought to mind by NASA's experimental launching of a testing thing at a comet tonight. That's how all good horror films begin, isn't it? So sleep in the bank vault tonight or at least wear the tinfoil hat. bwa ha ha.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


For a quilter who tries to not be anally-retentive, I do have my little quirks. Here is a basket of colored strips, each color safely ensconced in a ziplock baggy. When I make each letter, I like to use only two different fabrics - the letter fabric and the background fabric - to make the letter easier to read. I hate pawing through a whole pile of strips and bits looking for the color I need, hence the baggies. These are randomly cut strips as far as the width is concerned, tho I did try to make them straight. We're talking about me, so straight cut is a relative term.

And here are the black fabric strips for making the letters themselves. Again, far too organized. I cut the first strip 7/8" wide and then increased each strip by an 1/8" more or less. I think the widest strip is 2". I also cut a bunch of strips at an angle tho those are hard to see here. It makes me absolutely nuts when the cats leap up onto this chair. Can they just shed a bit and then leave? No, they always manage to knock strips off onto the floor.

I'm not making stunning progress on the quilt, but I am moving forward. On the 1st I completed 16 letters and that includes making the units the proper height - 4 1/4". Yesterday I got 15 letters done, but they're still shorties. I also washed and ironed 9 yards of fabric I purchased in the states in May. Lots of lovely Princess Mira batiks, most of which are too dark to go in this quilt, at least at this stage.

I have tossed aside a lot of the purples, blues and greens for being so dark it's hard to read the letter. There will still be a few of them in there, just not so many.

And on a completely different note: Woohoo, yesterday was the first day of the Tour de France. Lance showed them all what great shape he was in, putting in almost a minute on the entire field except David Zabriskie who won the time trial. He deserves it - multiple bone breaks and he came back to ride at a high caliber.

Since I would feel just that much more sluggardly watching the best athletes on earth, I actually got on the treadmill for the first time in a year and walked for 25 mins. Not fast, not at a high incline, but walked. It's a start. Hoping to put in a repeat performance today, if I don't get trapped here at the computer.

Friday, July 01, 2005

I love decorating for the holidays. Well, not all holidays - I don't do Thanksgiving (boring colors, boring imagery) or Easter (too pastel and cutesy). But the combination of red, white and blue can't be beat and stars and stripes are particularly graphic. Therefore, I have lots of fun making quilts and other folk art items for the holiday. Living overseas makes me homesick for the 4th of July and fireworks. Mmm burned hot dogs.

This is a cotton crazy quilt I made inspired by Gwen Marston, of course (LQ pg 28). It's too busy but I love it anyway. The border is made from one of my absolute favorite fabriks - a batik I only ever found that once. It's soo rich and gave me a great place to showcase my freehand fan quilting.

On the upper right is a small heart quilt embellished with loads of buttons, sort of in the style of Susan Shie. The other two pieces are just fun bits I've collected - nothing I made. The flag ornament on the left has since been taken down b/c it was a kitty magnet. They could just barely reach it from atop the china cabinet and I was afraid they were either going to break it or themselves.

This photo looks really dark. Didn't realize that before. Anyway, upper right is a fairly recent checkerboard-style quilt I made just cuz it was darn easy and graphic. Upper left is a small piece i made back in 2001 - the year of going crazy with my improv letters. I'll have to put some more photos in that show details and quilting. A job for another day since I should actually be sewing.