Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ellis Island

I finished my Legos top and love how it turned out. This is Ellis Island:

While I sewed, I realized I was making a quilter's Ellis Island. (Ellis Island was the port of entry into the United States way back before airplanes). You know, send me your tired, your poor, your wretched refuse - all those unwanted (fabrics). The name's a bit formal for this loud fun quilt, but still appropriate. There really are some uuugly fabrics in here...

I ended up going smaller than king-sized - this is 70x80. With all these shedding cats, any quilt on our bed will have to be washed and I'd like it to be easy to do. Plus, I was really inspired by a photo of Mary's bed with multiple quilts on it. Perfect since my husband and I completely disagree about how much warmth we need to sleep.

So sorry that these fabrics from Barb didn't arrive in time, but they will get into another lego quilt! some of these are sooo not ugly. love love the "hello" fabric in all sorts of different languages.

Not that we need warmth that often in Florida. But we'll be moving to Maryland next spring and I know they get winter "up in America" as my husband calls it. We've done some househunting and fingers crossed will get a house we love. Anyone here a member of the Columbia Faithful Circle Quilting Guild? I think that will be the nearest guild.

Back to the legos. These blocks are sooo much fun to make and so addictive. Seriously fun. Here are some fun one that others have worked on (sorry if I missed anybody - just let me know!):

This is how I approached making the Legos quilt. Sara came up with a different method, just sewing a biiiig long strip amd cutting it in two and joining those lengthwise etc.

I have to get a blogpost done so I'm going to sign off now... See you all hopefully sooner than the last time! By the way, you can follow this blog by email (there's a doohicky over in the sidebar) so you'll know when I finally post again! That is, if you're not using a reader (which I highly recommend if you follow more than a couple of blogs).

Lily says, time for a nap!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Watch Me on the Quilt Show!

Hi guys! Ya'all can watch my episode of The Quilt Show for free (woohoo!) October 3rd through October 9th by following this link to episode #907. You do have to sign up to be a basic member (which is free) to access the show.

That's me at the sewing machine walking Ricky Tims through UnRuly Letters.  So funny to see me worrying about straight lines and rulers. I've changed in the last year!

Additionally, you can sign up to be a Star Member and access other shows for 20% off by using the coupon code: 182844782548

Be kind while you're watching it - remember I was incredibly nervous! Someone asked me if LAWS is hand quilted. Most definitely. You can see me there working on it, no hoop or frame. 

Thank goodness I had that quilt with me to work on and keep my mind focused on. Really helped with the nerves.

Can I just say I love Alex Anderson. She is an incredible sweetie.

Enjoy the show!

p.s. all photos courtesy of The Quilt Show.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Love Anna Williams Style - woohoo!

I finished LAWS (aka Love Anna Williams Style) the other day. I love it!

I haven't been able to take a really good photo - this is a little dark. But you get the idea. I did a bonehead move and washed the quilt in warm water. I had two boxes worth of Color Catchers AND some Synthropol in the washing machine, so I figured it would get out the bit of bleeding I was worried about.

Well, it did that - the purple onto pink is gone. But I ended up with a brand new, far worse spot of evil. That bottom right corner? The thin line of blue bled. Here's Lily, turning around to look at me after inspecting the damage (it's in the gold up above her head):

I didn't realize I fabric had bled until after the quilt went through the dryer. I washed the quilt again, this time using a tip I'd heard from my friend Kathy. I thread-basted Color Catchers directly onto the quilt in all the places I was worried about. This is what the block looked like AFTER the second wash (again with free-floating Color Catchers and OxiClean gel and Synthrapol) and dry:

Look at how well that worked. I'd have been soooo much better off if I'd done this the first go round in the washer. And used cold water. Sometimes I'm an idiot. Anyway, I really recommend the Color Catcher baste method for fabrics that are a concern. I didn't like doing it - the smell and feel of the catchers is icky - but worth it.

After the second wash didn't get rid of the bleed, I'm just living with it. Bothers me less all the time.

Before you even ask: I pre-wash all my fabric - except for the hand-dyes. That will now change for blue, purple and red. The fabric that bled is from the 90's, definitely not one from Dye Candy. I have had some Cherrywood deep purples bleed on me, though none in this quilt.

Speaking of LAWS and Dye Candy... Watched The Quilt Show episode #907 this morning with my husband. I didn't torture him with the whole thing, just the bits I'm in. Here's the trailer for the show:

I'm relieved. There are a few things that bug me about my performance, but overall, okay. Fun to see me hand quilting on LAWS way back in August of last year when we taped and now I've just finished it.

Some of the hand-dyes in LAWS are from Chris Daly of Dye Candy. I love her fabric, so I asked her to do the giveaway to the audience on The Quilt Show. I wanted certain colors (turquoise and olive) and she created them for me, which is pretty awesome. Right now she's having a giveaway on her blog, ending October 2nd. Chris just finished "Night and Day," the wonderful quilt she made as part of the Liberated Amish challenge. 

I've pinned Night and Day on my Pinterest board Quilts with Words and Letters. I've got other great quilt boards (and Halloween!) on my Pinterest too. I've recently added a Quilts - Anna Williams -y board for Anna's quilts and those who've been inspired by her.

Have ya'all seen the Crumb Along at Jo's Country Junction? I really like how she's structured her "along." Great place to get started/motivated on crumb piecing.

Willy Wonky did a great post on Andrea Balosky, aka Nyima Llamo recently. Andrea's work is gorgeous.

There is a great quilt exhibition called Bits and Pieces going on in Salem, OR. There are some amazing quilts on exhibit including some by people I've met on the internet and in person. These are liberated unruly quilts, and boy, do I wish I could see them. Nifty's "Inspired by Anna" is amazing. Oh, and some of these fab quilters are HAND quilters, so definitely go see the show if you can. (through Oct 15th)

My husband is home for awhile. I'll be happy when he's not away this much. So will he.

Woohoo, the new tv season has started. Important to a tv addict like me. I enjoyed the premiere of Pan Am and the first Secret Circle held my interest. There were a few I couldn't force myself to watch after I recorded them including Persons of Interest and Free Agents. Yay, Fringe is back as are Community and Parks and Rec. I only started watching the latter two over the summer and am now all caught up.

Pokey says it's naptime

which reminds me, The Quilt Life magazine's October issue (with Rumspringa, halloween quilts, and Pokey) is available in all kinds of stores now. It's a fun issue!

Ya'all take care. Later.

Friday, September 23, 2011

At Long Last

Finally, a blog post. First off, I taught a class on crumbs to the Martin County Quilt Guild. It was fun and a really good way for me to see how people take different approaches to making blocks. We put all the blocks together, so much fun to see how all the personalities can blend to make a really fun quilt. The green carpet gives it a groovy sashing:

I felt like a harpy because I kept trying to nudge folks into using fabrics with more contrast. I did contrast so poorly for so many years, that it's just really glaring to me now. I wasn't sure how much of that I should do in class and finally decided that was part of my job. To nudge though, I didn't actually smack anyone around or hide their fabrics...

I've received more fun ugly fabrics in the mail. These are from Patti. I love the bicycle fabric and think it's a hoot that she included an e-coli pattern. I gotta guess that's the bottom left print.

Up next is Michele. Woohoo! Elvis and florida fabric. but yes, those cherubs are pretty ghastly.

Marge included this fabulous Halloween fabric, which is making me happy. Hee hee hee, skeleton reapers and mummies.

Not only did Lynette send me wonderful fabric (some of which I actually LOVE and wish I had more of - not ugly at all) but she also made me a crumby heart and some O-O-V-E

From Kathy W. Love the rooster fabric and the cocktails! Wonderful selection, thank you.

Cheryl sent me some fabric too. I'm not sure but this hunting outdoorsy fabric may just be the ugliest fabric ever. Seriously awful.

The package from Cheryl actually arrived the day I finished sewing my lego quilt together. Woohoo on the top finish, but sad I didn't get to include any of this fabric in this quilt. Definitely another one though!

Thank you to everyone who mailed me fabric goodies. I love thinking of you as I work with them. Also thank you to those of you who've emailed me, to make sure I'm okay. So sweet of you.

I've actually been struggling the last few months. I don't want to go into all the details in this post, but I've been struggling with an inflammatory arthritis that I've had for years, it kicks my ass, and I still haven't gotten a doctor to diagnose. Fingers cross that is going to change shortly - I think there is now enough evidence for the diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis, a form of inflammatory arthritis, which I've had for 19 years now.

It's one of those horrible diseases that's hard to pin down, has remissions and flare-ups. I've been in a flare for the last while. I got a new symptom of tension headaches/ migraines which act up after I've been sewing or cutting or ironing for a few hours (or even less). Needless to say, not good for a quilter. That's on top of all the back and neck pain I've had for years.

But one of the worst things is the fatigue. It's not just that my body doesn't want to be active, but neither does my brain. Makes thinking difficult, and writing. Which is why fewer blog posts and emails etc. All I want to do is sleep, watch tv, play on Pinterest. Lately at least I've been enjoying hand quilting again, so that's an improvement.

Fingers crossed I get my official diagnosis when I visit the rheumatologist next Friday. And if I don't get it from him, the search will be on for another doc. I'm soooo tired of this. I'll try to not whine too much, but wanted to let you know what was going on.

Okay, back to quilting news. Got Gwen Marston's new book 37 Sketches. here's a sample page
It is a beautiful jewel of a book. Very finely made. I hate to say that I don't love all the quilts in it, because I really wish that I did. There's a lot of influence from Jean Wells and it is fun to see how Gwen takes that on board and plays with adding some of Jean's techniques to her own arsenal. I just wish it were Gwennier. But wow, love seeing all of Gwen's sketches together in the report that The Little Red Hen wrote about this years BIQR reatreat. wonderful.

My appearance on The Quilt Show is coming up shortly - September 26th for subscribers. You can see a slideshow of pics from the episode here. Ya'all will be able to watch that episode free for a week (October 3-9), but you do have to sign up as a basic member.

So the link to watch the show for free, from October 3rd to the 9th is here

So anyway, that's what's going on with me. I try to not whine too much, but I'll let you know how the doctor's visit goes.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lego Tutorial

Here at last, the Lego Tutorial. I love playing with bitty pieces, fitting them together like a puzzle and that is reflected in my write-up. This is just one way of many that you could go about doing a quilt like this.

First off, here is the amazing antique quilt that provided the inspiration, courtesy of Lucy of Quilting with the Past:

Go check out her post with all the details and close-up photos. I have studied this quilt over and over again, I truly love it. The strip widths in this are small (only 5/8" finished), as are the blocks (6.5" finished). It's very color-coordinated with lots of cream, brown, navy, red and pink with a few hints of gold and lavender.

I wanted to use every fabric that came my way, no matter the color, and most of my fabrics are far far busier, so  I increased the strip and block size.

Let's get started. Cut strips and scraps 1.5" wide. Cut randomly to lengths measuring between 1.5" (aka a square) and 10.5". My quilt is super scrappy and I quickly discovered I did not need many pieces of any one fabric.

I strongly recommend that you include solids, near solids, and blenders, especially if you are going to be using lots of busy/novelty fabric. Include lots of different sizes and kinds of patterns. Include dull fabrics AND bright ones. The more of a mix you have, the better.

I didn't use more than one strip (42") of a fabric. For an eye-catching fabric, cut three or more pieces. Ugly fabric or something you just can't stand? Cut short pieces.

Not that you necessarily need it, but I give you permission to fussy-cut the heck out of your fabric. I bought this fabric because it was Elvis and never use it cuz it is ugly. Instead of cutting a 1.5" strip off, I  cut a wider chunk and then selectively cut it up to get pieces I liked (the name and face). Okay, more waste that way, but it's getting used! If there are boring or strange bits of the right width, they get thrown in too.

The little snowman face is a lot cuter than just his hat would have been

To avoid a murky quilt, include light lights - I used white-on-whites and several fabrics with a lot of white background.

and dark darks. I used black but a good navy, for example, would be excellent.

Start joining the pieces up. I divide my fabric into light, medium and dark piles and pick randomly. (I might pick it, but that doesn't mean I have to use it). I chain a whole big bunch at one time and then iron after every join. And yes I said iron. Forget delicate pressing, I'm ironing the heck out of this, with STEAM.

Rows that are long enough get cut to size. Theoretically that should be 10.5" since I'm making 10.5" unfinished blocks, but it's less stress to cut them a tad bit longer (I add an 1/8" but a quarter or half inch would work too).

And yay, leftover bits longer than or equal to a square get thrown back in to the piles o' legos.

I don't know how ya'all piece, but I can't sew a straight row. Some come out even curvier than others:

Occasionally I use my rotary cutter and slice off bits that are sticking out (I'm especially eager to do it when it's a fabric I hate) otherwise I leave them as is - no seam ripping.

Oh, and I'm sure these things would lay flatter etc if I pressed the seams open. But I don't. It takes too long and I burn my fingers. Plus that would probably make it less wonky, which is not a goal.

I make a few rows that are only two pieces. The longer the piece, the more attention it will draw to itself.

Here are a few rows made with three legos. I initially had a much bigger piece of the bright blue with red dots and discovered that it was waaaay too dominating. Might not have been bad if I had lots of that fabric to use all over the quilt, but I've only got a bit of it.

 Even more rows that are four.

And five:
And a few with six:

I really enjoy the process of making the rows. I can play with adding a dull fabric next to a neon to see if that will tone it down (it usually does). Do I like this color combination? It's easy to divide a fabric if it isn't working.

Notice that each row is a bit different. I think of it as morse code: dots and dashes. Some rows are dot dash dot dash and others are dot dot daaaaash dot, etc.

I do occasionally throw in a single fabric but geeze it draws so much more attention, even when it's a quiet nondescript fabric. How easily can you spot the one here?

So where were we? Rows. I keep them together and definitely do NOT sort them by how many pieces are in each. I grab the first two off the pile and audition.

I find two rows that look good together and then another two. I'm not working on bigger blocks, just concentrating on two rows at a time. There are always a few rows that don't play well together and get set aside for the moment.

I pin before I sew the rows together. Probably completely unnecessary, but I do it anyway. I make sets of 4 and a few with 3.

Three? I know, I know. Using 1.5" strips to make a block that finishes at 10" I should only need 10 rows. Don't ask me, but my first block was too small, so I decided not to stress and just sew on that extra 11th row. That gives me more room to slice here and there making some rows thinner. But usually my blocks come out a bit big. I just cut them down to size. ***Use a steam iron or mist with a spray bottle first and iron (or press) the block flat before trimming ***

I love using a big square ruler although it would be better if it was the exact size of my unfinished block.  This is a Creative Grids ruler and it is awesome.

Only once did my block come up too small even with the 11 rows. I trimmed a wee bit and threw in a shim of solid fabric. It's narrow and pretty unnoticeable (it's the 7th row down). I love how wonky the legos are in that area. This is a section from the border.

One of the wonderful things about this project is that I've learned that some fabrics work sooo wonderfully with just about anything. That gray with the orange polka dots? fabulous. And some styles are atrocious such as busy prints that mimic patchwork - the cherries mixed with black and white dots and houndstooth for instance (2nd row from the bottom). *shudder* Really busy stripes are horrible too.

The bright yellow with red flowers 70's print is an eye-catcher. I think the other fabrics with red, yellow and orange help to balance it out.

The blocks in the middle of the quilt are set with one block's rows going up and down and the next block's rows side to side (think Rail Fence). The top and bottom borders rows all run up and down. The side borders go side to side.

My quilt isn't finished yet, but this is how a quilt would look set 7 x 7. I still can't decide if I'm going to go for it and make it king-sized or go for a more manageable (and washable!) smaller size.

I said there are other ways to go about it. Chawne makes a big long strip instead of separate rows. She explains her method here.

And hey, I just found the wonderful Scrapbuster Random Railfence Tutorial Riel wrote up months ago. She's uses 2.5" wide pieces and makes one big strip too. I love how she used these blocks to make this wonderful scrappy quilt with a unifying sashing.

Lily says, have fun and get to work!

Any questions? Just ask.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Two Steps Behind

I feel like I'm getting farther and farther behind. None of this two steps forward, one step behind. I'm one step forward and two behind these days. I've made some progress on the insane Lego quilt, finishing 49 blocks:

Still completely in love with it. Believe me when I say there are some truly ugly fabrics in here - I've been muttering and grousing about them and then when it's all put together I wonder what I was fussing about.

Julie's making progress on her lego quilt with flying geese and now Pokeytown Kim has joined us as well. Anyone else?

I've received more uglies/olds/boring/just-get-it-out-of-here fabrics in the mail. Since I just mentioned Kim, here's her contribution:

Next up, Beth S's fabrics, shown with a hint of Habibi.  ugh, shamrocks and teddy bears. I had fun fussy cutting the soccer players to get lots of feet!

Jill I. wrote she was excited to find the faces fabric (rather Andy Warhol-esque) and bought four yards of it - her friends that she was crazy. I understand though - I think it's awesome. Trying to convince myself to cut some of it off, cuz I'm tempted to keep it for a different ugly project in which I would leave it whole.

Sewkalico Karol-Ann sent these all the way from the UK. Yeah, kinda bland, but I love the little sheep!

Hey-Boo Lynn's group included the incredibly florescent fish and fabulous purple cabbage.

PrettyMade Nina sent these fabrics and the sweet heart all the way from Finland. I happen to love love the big bold flowers and the ?bee toys? I'm guessing those are kiwi birds in the corner and can that possibly be a kiwi-human hybrid playing football???

And for my fellow geeky quilters out there, Nina is one of us. She loves Doctor Who as well - woohoo! (Can't wait for it to start back up - not long now!)

Bumblebeans Victoria was mean to me. Aaagh. That hideous dark plaid with the roses will be awesome in a bugly quilt someday - I'm saving most of it for that.

Robert sent me two of his handmade Christmas stockings in addition to loads and loads of scraps. Love the tiny skeletons on blue. Are those turtles wearing roller skates???

Completely Cauchy Chawne is cutting up strips to make an insane quilt of her own (woohoo!) and kindly sent me some legos. There are some gorgeous fabrics in here! (Does that count as cheating?) Love the kitties and woohoo a sock monkey.

Thank you all so much!!! That's all I've received as of today. Hope I haven't forgotten anyone. Gotta run. I leave you with a pic of Pokey and a magazine that just happened to arrive yesterday:


Since I just got my subscriber's copy in the mail, I figure it will be two weeks before the magazine hits store. Ya'all take care.