Sharing fabric cuttings with my worldwide friends

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Block 26 Ladies' Wreath - Mourning for Mother

The story that goes with the block on this week's Grandmother's Choice is a sad reminder of the high mortality rate experienced by our foremothers during childbirth. Thus, in making the block this week it was a choice between making a mourning wreath or just going with the lighter, brighter colors.

I decided to go with the lighter, brighter colors and even to extend my usual color scheme to allow for a few pink flowers for Mother as well. It wasn't until I was adding my block photo to the flickr discussion page that I had the "uh oh" moment of realizing that the way I had arranged my colors in no way made the block look like a wreath.

There have been a few blocks to date that seem unbalanced to me and this is one. Initially I thought about making it with only two fabrics but once I had seen all the different arrangements on the flickr page I decided to add in a third fabric.

Posing my block with the Christmas wreath is meant to give the idea that the light is still burning for Mother and her loss would have been felt especially at that season of brightness and hope when the children of the family are torn between the excitement of Christmas and the sadness of their loss.

Thankfully, there have been significant advances in the medical care available to mothers today and the mortality rate has dropped dramatically. It is good to read the stories from history that come with the block each week so we can be reminded of what we have to be grateful for today.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Inspired by Kathy!

Wow, I have goose bumps all over. I have been creating this post in my mind for several days but had come upstairs just now to write and post it.  Every day I go look at a few blogs before I get down to whatever the reason is that I sat at the computer. For tonight I was planning to show you a quilt top that I was involved in making with a group of friends as a farewell gift to a quilt friend who is moving away from the area.

When we decided we wanted to make something I headed to the library and the section on quilt books to look for something special. I carried home books by Kaffe Fassett along with a couple of books by Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke of Material Obsessions, a quilt shop in Sydney Australia. Since our friend is known to like and use bold colors and combinations and to also like Kaffe fabrics I felt sure I would find something in the books. And I did.

I showed the group several options and was delighted when they echoed my first choice and said a resounding "yes" to the pattern "The 'Burbs" by Sarah Fielke that can be found in the first Material Obsession book.

We had such fun making this quilt top and giving it to our friend as a top; we felt that she would like the fun of embellishing and quilting it. And yes, she was delighted by the gift.

Let's get to the nitty gritty...

 We wanted to make something featuring Kaffe Fasset (and the like) fabrics. Firstly we selected two shot cotton solid fabrics and two polka dot fabrics in co-ordinating colors (we chose blues and purples). Each group member was given one piece of the solid and one piece of the polka dot and asked to make at least one house block (using the solid as background) and one lady from the 'Burbs (using the polka dot as background) and bring it along to our group sewing day.

On the day we had such fun creating our top. Some people sat and stitched tree blocks, some sat and stitched pieced filler blocks, some figured out how to put the jigsaw puzzle of it all together. And at the end of the day we had this great, fun top.

We had a laugh about how none of the ladies could fit in the houses and that the cat was the biggest of all! And that was such a freeing portion of our creation. The best part was the camaraderie of getting it all together on the day. Quilters make such great and supportive friends.

And now, you're perhaps wondering about the goosebumps.  Well, before I started this post I went to read the Material Obsessions blog. I started reading it when I found the books in the library late last year and do so enjoy seeing all the great quilt photos and reading Kathy's wonderful writing.

Go here to the blog (click on those words, they should be a live link) to see the posting for today and read the many, many comments made by quilters around the world. It firstly brought a tear to my eye and then a very warm feeling as I was enveloped in the realization of what being part of this intimate, yet worldwide, circle of quilters means.

I love my quilt buddies, both those in The 'Burbs and those from near and very far. We share life's challenges, both good and bad.

Thanks for being my friends!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Block Redux

Some weeks the fabric choices for my Grandmothers Choice blocks are really quite difficult. And I end up thinking that I am trying too hard. Sometimes (hah! admit it, most every week this is what happens!) I create my own pressure to get that block done and photographed in the daylight so it can be posted on the Saturday. The result is that I can end up with a block that I am not happy with.

Such was the case this week.  Once I redid block 25 I was a lot happier with it despite it being difficult to photograph.  And that made me want to have another try with last week's block as well.

The common denominator in the two blocks was the green leaf on purple background fabric. This fabric should help as it uses both colors together but it seemed to be having the opposite result.

Behold, the new and improved block 24. The green bloom is so successful as a centerpiece that I wanted to keep it there. Once I pulled the purple entirely from the block it seemed much more content.  The moral of this story is that now and then you need to break your own rules. In a quilt top with 49 blocks is it really going to make that much difference if one or two blocks do not have the purple in them?

Here is the redone group shot. The blocks are just put up in the order of making them; as I redistribute them I am expecting that the darker purples that seem to dominate can be balanced out.

 Several quilt friends that I talk with lately have been discussing the challenge of photographing their quilt blocks/quilts. The color on this shot is not terrific and nor is the (room) light distribution even. But it is surely enough to illustrate the progress to date.

Check back tomorrow when I will hopefully have something else to share with you.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Block 25 - The Carrie Nation Quilt

As must be clear by now I have not yet received the memo on how to write a successful blog. Often, what I like to do is to give the thought process that goes into what I make. And this is what I am going to give you today.

This is the block I made when I was at an all day sewing with my quilt group.As usual there was much back and forth and debate over which fabrics to choose. As I was dashing out the door to the Saturday Sewing I just grabbed the entire bag of fabrics that I have set aside for this project. Sue looked at the bag and commented that perhaps for our upcoming guild auction I should offer a "tour of the stash" - she said she'd pay money to see the entire stash of someone who had such a big bag of fabrics for just one project. Sometimes having a lot to choose from makes the decision making all the more difficult.

Pinkdeenster was also there and we had some fun giving input to each other on which fabrics to choose or motifs to fussycut. Her block turned out wonderful but I was less sure about mine. When I got home I was trying to take the photo before all the natural light was gone for the day. And in each photo those four purple squares jumped out at me. Last week I was in a quilt shop looking at fabrics to use for the applique motifs in my Dixie Diary project. The assistant watching me commented that it is really hard to do a two color project. Oh, I thought, is that the problem? Problem? Challenge? There is a difference.

I set up this shot, complete with the small hatchet because it goes with the history lesson for this block, to show the fabrics that I had wanted to use but could not make work. So I was "taking the hatchet to the idea of using those fabrics".

Now, I just casually threw these down on the floor and took one photo. And in that photo my main background fabric (the one that is in every block) photographed very well even though it did not really matter. Yet week after week I struggle to get a good photo of the block that shows that color/motif of that fabric. Just one of those unanswered questions. Another one is why I seem to have so much trouble holding the camera perfectly straight in front of the block. Were I able to do that then I would stop getting photos that make it look as though my block is not perfectly square despite the reality that it usually is.

The block this weeks marks, by number, entry into the second half of the project so perhaps it is time for another group photo. Whoops, I forgot to edit out the extraneous objects - oh well.

However, this photo convinced me that I am not happy with my blocks from the last two weeks. So I set out with another try to use that fabric with the violets. And this morning I finished the new version of the block. Small and dainty does not exactly represent Carrie Nation as you will know from your recall of history or reading of the Grandmother's Choice blog this week. But the scale of the pattern seemed well suited to the block and could provide an antidote to Carrie Nation and her heavy handed approach.

I think I am happier with this one even though all the flowers are not identical but, with the small scrap I had to cut from, using it this way preserved some for a potential later use. The green fabric is from the Moda Basic Grey collection and I have at least three slightly different green colorways. This one, although not quite the chartreuse green I really need, has a very satisfying hint of purple to it here and there. However, this is another of those times when the photograph does not truly show the block and fabrics well.

By the way, a shout out here for RCCheryl who gifted me with that fabric - the one with the beautiful little violets. It is always a special pleasure to be able to use a gift. Thank you!

Watch out for more postings this week as there is more to the story.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Another new project?

Seriously, do I really need another project right now?  The answer is no, but The Dixie Diary was appealing from the point of view of it being similar to the Grandmother's Choice project. So I have decided to give it a start.

The project is based around the book "The Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman" by Sarah Morgan.

Yes, it is another of the Barbara Brackman online (well on a blog to be more accurate) projects. This one is "just" twelve blocks that will appear one per month on the first Saturday. I can do that. The patterns are given to make 8" or 12" blocks but I'm not sure I want another big quilt so I am going to make them at a 6" size. The blocks themselves are fairly simple and, as shown in the blog, will all include an applique heart or star in the center.

 Here is block 1 - "Her Flag Flying". I was trying to fussy cut the pale backgrounds and then realized they might be obscured by the applique anyway so I should not over do the fussy cuts. It did make me hightail it back to the quilt shop to purchase more of that background fabric. It really is quite pretty and I might use it in settings or some other place.

Ms Brackman is sewing her blocks in pink and brown and I thought I would challenge myself to use pink (not a color often associated with me) and pair it with some of the greys (as Sarah was a Confederate Woman) remaining from my Civil War quilt "The Blues and The Greys". I'm not sure yet about the center applique - I'll probably do them but I need to hunt down a good fabric to use or maybe I can make them in assorted fabrics. We'll see.

Month 2 block is "Checkered Allegiances". H'mm I notice that others show their block with the darker of the central squares to the right and left rather than top and bottom as I show mine. All that is needed is to turn the block but I sort of prefer it this way.

If you'd like to know more about this project you can go here to the blog.

This project will not have top priority so don't expect to see my new block made and posted the day it comes out on the Civil War blog. And there will have to be some consideration given to how to set the blocks and whether to place them straight on or on-point. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

As background reading I thought I'd see if the library has the book but alas they have just the one copy and it is in the reference section which means it cannot be borrowed. Oh well.

It does seem as though I better update my sidebar list of projects to finish doesn't it?!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Block 24 True Blue - Too Smart

 This week's block in the Grandmother's choice project is all about the "Blue Stocking" - the name thrust upon the women who were bold enough to step outside the "norm". The term was considered an insult as it described a woman who might read, write (for publication even), discuss ideas, literature, philosophy or history. Thankfully, times have changed.

This week was one of those when my color palette restricted me as I could not use blue. But it would give me a chance to use this glorious big green flower.  I thought all three of the greens were compatible but the photo does not entirely agree. Oh well.

If you have looked at the flickr site that goes along with the project you will see that there are a number of different ways to arrange the individual pieces in this block. I was ambivalent about the placement of the squares in the small four patches - they could either rotate or be arranged in diagonal rows. As is often the case I showed my son (who I refer to as my Technical Director for his invaluable help in all things electronic) and he straight away commented that it should not be laid out to rotate because of the similarity to the Nazi symbol. Okay, TD, I'll do the diagonal layout.

 In trying to come up with some clever photo to add to this posting I went hunting for some blue stockings. This many years on this odd shade of blue pantyhose was the best I could come up with.

And then I laid down a "true blue" fabric. Doesn't it look great with that green? Too bad it was outside my project scope.

Okay, I'm off to do some discussing of ideas and current events while we eat our pizza treat for Saturday night. Later on, I'll do some reading.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Block 23 Girl's Joy - An Ounce of Persuasion

This week's block was all about very youthful images of girls being used to promote the suffragist cause so I felt a need to dial back the intense colors I have been using in many blocks and try and capture a more girlish look.
 It took many tries with the camera in an endeavor to get the corner squares to look correct. It still is not right but I decided it is good enough. Once more I pulled out that very soft toile and I selected a picture, which I felt illustrated a girl's joy (sitting with her puppy), to place in the very center of my block.

And for my posed shot I wanted to again make it all about girls joy - in this case a photo of my sisters and I. Although we live half a world away now they are very much in my mind currently.

Yesterday afternoon I picked up my previous Barbara Brackman Civil War block of the week project, The Blues and the Greys, from the longarm quilter (Su). When I walked into the room the quilter had hung my quilt on her quilt stand and it made quite an impact to look at it that way. It was good for my ego when Su told me that someone else who saw it while she had it said "oh I love that quilt. Do you think it is for sale?" 

While the quilt is on the longarm frame the quilter is up close and personal and Su commented that she really liked the way I cut fabric. At first I could not quite figure out what she meant but all became clear when she carried on to point out how stripes were always neatly balanced and centered, block centers featured fussy cut flowers and the like. I was further able to show her that certain fabric motifs were chosen because of the name of the block e.g. the Indiana Puzzle where I used a copper colored fabric depicting Lincoln in a block that had a circle. A copper penny was symbolic of the hatred of the war and Lincoln at that time.

So I was happy to see that my careful attention to detail is noticed. In this current project, influenced by the very active flickr group, I am again encouraged to make very careful deliberations in my fabric selections. Even after happily playing with fabric to make quilts for more than thirty years I can still learn new things and improve my skills.