Sharing fabric cuttings with my worldwide friends

Friday, May 31, 2013

Strawberries and Cream goes public

In April 2012 I went to a class taught by Jo Morton and focused on her quilt pattern Rhubarb Delight. I have long been a Jo fan and had wanted to have the opportunity to be a student in a class led by her. Anticipating the 40th anniversary of our quilt guild show and the request for red and white quilts to display at that show in June I decided to change the menu from rhubarb to strawberries.
I used Jo's pattern as my guide, following the cutting sizes and instructions, but I changed the direction of the flying geese sashes and added an outer border. There was a lot of piecing in this quilt! If you are a long time reader of this blog you will have seen a couple of earlier postings about this.

Although you maybe cannot see it I did give a lot of consideration to where I placed fabrics. The center four stars are white on white fabrics and they are surrounded by a border of  twelve cream on cream stars. The final outer row of stars are red on cream/white. To begin with I tried to use each red fabric only the one time but somewhere along the way I got my piles muddled up and there probably are repeats.

The quilting on my quilt was done on a long arm by Christy Dillon.

The show, Fabulous at Forty, opened this morning and my quilt is hanging with a large number of red and white quilts in a variety of styles. It will be great to get the feedback on this display. Ordinarily our show is for display and enjoyment and there is no juried entry, judging or theme. This year members were encouraged to either work in red and white or to create a quilt that featured forty in some way - most of the anniversary quilts are red and white but there are a few "40" quilts.

I'm going back tomorrow for a second look to enjoy all that red and white.

Thank you so much to Jo for sharing her time, expertise and patterns with us. I hope you all like my version of her pattern.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Block 39 Endless Stairs - Ranks and Rights

The story that goes with the block for this week is all about the Great Chain of Being - no matter where you are in society there is a hierarchy. For most every person there is another someone who is both higher and lower in the social ladder.

The block we have is a very simple one that has a constant name of Endless Stair (well, to be truthful, sometimes it is Endless Stairs). There were not too many stairs in the block and I guess I could have gone above and beyond and made more but I decided to keep to the supplied pattern.

Now, this might look like a simple block but there were a number of decisions to be made today. Firstly, I decided to make it scrappy so I could revisit some fabrics that had only previously made one appearance (the argyle, and it is perfectly centered - I just did not trim it properly in the edit process). The purple is heavier than the green so although I had the positions reversed at first the block was much happier once the purple came under the green. Since the pieces are all the same dimension and shape it seemed a good plan to use fabrics that had a good pattern on them to keep the block lively. And, if I was going to choose a bold pattern then I had better pay attention in the cutting.

Flickr threw us a curve ball this week by revamping their site. For some of us it has been a challenge to find how to use the new site. Reflecting on that it seemed like today might also be a day to try out something else new...a "selfie". I had asked my TA (technical advisor aka #2 son) to take my photo today as I, quite unconsciously, had dressed this morning in the same color scheme as the block I needed to make. In response TA suggested I might take a "selfie" - which, apparently, is when you hold the camera at arms length and take your own photo. If you do this in the bathroom you can look in the mirror to check the view finder on  the camera is showing what you want to photograph.

 So, ta dah, a selfie. I have stepped up a rank in my technology knowledge what with this and the new flickr site to negotiate.

How do you rank on the stairs of personhood?

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Dresses Quilt

Last year I was contacted by a quilter friend asking if I would consider making a commission quilt - the shop she works for had a customer who wanted a memory piece made from the gowns her daughter had worn as a bridesmaid. Against my better judgement I said "yes" because the project sounded intriguing.

It took many weeks to finally get the go-ahead to do the project after I had provided a bunch of design ideas to the shop. At no time did I meet the customer and that made it more challenging. Thankfully, there was no immediate time limit.

These are the dresses I had to work with. They date back a "few" years judging by the look of them. The black fabrics are all velvet. One of the requirements was that I use the fabrics from the dresses which meant cutting into them in strategic places. To get the velvet necessary for all three dresses for instance, I cut the lower half of each of the long sleeves on the yellow and black dress.

Here is the end result. For each dress I drafted a pattern, to scale, and then also added embellishments; beading, buttons, dimensional rose and hand embroidery

Ordinarily I am  not a "pink person" so this was a real challenge. In addition to the dresses I was also required to use those three pink fabrics and that white background - I "forgot" to also use a beige fabric similar to the white background.

I am having such a problem with blogger tonight that I am afraid to write anything more. I ws finally able to add the detail photos but I cannot add any individual comments to them so I am going to admit defeat and post as is.

Am I the only one having problems with blogger just now? It is taking forever to load photos.

Anyway, back to the subject of tonight's post - the customer has apparently finally collected her quilt and is happy with it. So now I can share it with you. It was a fun project but if I was to do this again I would want to do it with a different modus operandi.

Block 38 Nonsense - Anatomy Lessons

The sub title for block 38 is Anatomy Lessons and the history story was all about how the misguided knowledge of  female anatomy restricted what women were "allowed" to do. Meanwhile, personally, for block 38 I was having Logistical Lessons.  Away on a four day quilt retreat with my quilting buddies and without all my usual sewing/computer equipment I needed lessons from a buddy in how to get my photos onto the flickr page using only my laptop as well as lessons in using what I had to hand rather than pining over what I did not.

 As usual I selected at least three potential fabric groupings. But this was the one I settled on.  The central motif came from a Jane Sassaman fabric that arrived in the mail as a surprise gift from RCCheryl some weeks ago. It has a very large repeat and initially I wanted to use the fabric in the rectangular areas but there were not enough of the motifs in the fat quarter. Now I'm looking at the photo I think I should rotate the image one quarter to the right so the white-dot-on-purple underline is at the base of the block.

The four smaller inner triangles are from the Basic Greys collection - I have four or five of these in the green colorway and they are very useful as supporting fabrics. And the stripe is from the Splendor collection by Northcott. Three totally different fabric collections/manufacturers.

 Posing my block was also a lesson in logistics as it was raining and dreary for both Saturday and Sunday. Here it is propped up in a corner of our sewing space.

And here it is in the fabric shop that is also on the same premises. The shop is quite small and stocks only Moda products but inevitably over the weekend we all manage to make several purchases.

 To add to my fabric collection I found some blues and greens for a potential new project along with a good piece of yardage in a white - always useful and perhaps a sashing candidate. Then there were a couple of pieces that may go into a June Bride quilt along with some others for the "just because" collection. After last week when I handmade a circle template for the center of block 37 and it was not quite perfect I added a bag of the Karen Kay Buckley larger perfect circles as well as a nifty new gadget, the strip stick, which is designed to help in pressing a more even seam line. I'm looking forward to putting all these to good use.

The sad news about our retreat location is that we discovered the owners are planning on closing it down in June 2014 so next May will be our last retreat there - our first was in 2007.

Lastly, I took advantage of the big design wall in the workroom to put up all my Grandmother's Choice blocks for an "in progress" photo - there are too many now for my design wall space. It's good to see all the blocks together; you get a similar view by going to the Grandmother's Choice set in my photostream on the flickr site.

Eleven blocks to go now in this project and the last block will have been made and the putting together portion will begin for me. Sashing decisions have been made and begun but until all the blocks are made specific layout choices cannot be finalised.

Now I must go and unpack my bags from the weekend and try to restore some order to the chaos in my sewing room.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Block 37 - Nameless Star - the Lucy Stone League

Our block for this week has appeared with a name new to most of us; Nameless Star. More familiarly known as the Sawtooth or Variable Star, Ms Brackman chose to highlight the name given it in the Nancy Cabot column in the Chicago Tribune in the 1930s. This name fits well with the story this week that our Grandmothers, up through the first decades of the 1900s, were required to take their husband's last name in everything including to check out a library book or register to stay at an hotel. Ruth Hale (who married in 1917) and Jane Grant (married in 1920) formed the Lucy Stone League to promote the option for women to be able to keep their own (maiden) name after marriage. The  courts finally granted women the right to do that in the 1970's which was many decades after women had been given the right to vote.
This block comes under the category of easier to piece as well as being one that can feature a relatively large central motif (in this case a 4" square). Not wanting to repeat the few big motifs I have already used I decided to find something to honor Jane Grant. In her second (happier) marriage Jane and her husband founded White Flower Farm, a mail order plant nursery in the north west area of Connecticut. In past years I have ordered from them and their catalog is always a wonderful way for a gardener to daydream. To break up that big square I found a white flower to applique in the center.

And now you'll have to humor me. You know I like to take a posed photo of my blocks. Some weeks require more thought than others. This week I had lots of ideas. Above you can see my block nestled among the blooms of the Bridal Veil spirea, an old fashioned plant that is in full bloom right now in my garden. Since the history story was all about women losing their own name after wearing a bridal veil I thought this was an apt choice.
This photo was more about the color than the quality of the plants! There are some ragged white dianthus that have made it through the winter and are doubtless waiting to see if they are going to be trimmed up and put on display again alongside a newly purchased clematis which has the matching hue to the star points.
The viburnums are also in full bloom and neatly framed the block with their white blooms - those blooms would be so simple to translate into an applique flower.

I debated about adding this one. The photo is not all that clear as there was a wind that kept moving the leaves about but I liked the chartreuse color of the leaves on the spirea (lower right). I'd go out and retake it but the thunder is rolling around and we keep getting thirty second bursts of rain.

It's been fun but there is a pile of ironing calling to me now so I must post and get on with it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dixie Dairy Month 5

This past Saturday was the first Saturday of the month and that means there was a new block published in the Dixie Diaries (Barbara Brackman) block of the month blog.

May's block is titled "Tokens of Dried Roses" and the story is all about what happened when Sarah Morgan (the writer of the diary who was a Southern young lady from one of the "very best" families living in Baton Rouge LA) returned to her family home after the Union army had vandalized the city and the homes therein. Sarah is desolate upon seeing the damage to all her personal property including her diary and "sundry tokens of dried roses". Of particular angst was the destruction of the needles for her mother's sewing machine. Those machines were particularly prized during the Civil War as they were used to stitch together uniforms for the young men sent off by their families to fight for the cause.

I wanted to make my block using fabrics that showed at least flowers and hopefully, roses.

The block patterns are given with the optional addition of an appliqued heart or star in the center of the block. Thus far I have not added the applique for several reasons including: I don't want to block out the pretty fabric at the center of the block, I am unsure of the most appropriate fabric choice for the applique and I don't yet know if I am going to set these blocks  in a straight set or "on point" which, of course, impacts how I would orient the central applique.

While I was at a quilt show recently I saw a quilt setting that I think would work for my blocks and now we have completed month 5 it is perhaps time to get serious about that setting.

In the meantime I am challenging myself to get comfortable with using pink as it is not really a color that I often use. To really grow as a quilter I think it is vital that I can use most any color in my projects; for me this medium (quilt making) is all about color!

What do you see as the fundamental aspect to a quilt?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Block 36 - Sunbonnet Baby - Testament of Youth

The Grandmother's Choice block for this week has created a lot of chatter. Ms Brackman gave us the Sunbonnet Baby as a way to illustrate her story of rebellion against the notion that becoming "an entirely ornamental young lady" was the way in which many parents of young ladies expected their daughters to become in the time of the suffragist movement.  The block might also be known as Dutch Doll or Sunbonnet Sue.

Now I have never had any great desire to make a Sunbonnet Sue block and I am not sure if I have previously made one. But, for this project, I went ahead and made the block. And, ssh, I had fun doing it!  I think now I have given her clothes that are not pastel florals or 30's repro she has taken on a new identity in my mind.
My girl has been christened Kiwi Kate to honor Kate Shepherd who was an important leader in the New Zealand Women's Suffrage Movement. The colors the movement chose as their symbolic ones were green and purple and they adopted the white camellia as their emblem. So just squint and you will see that that is a white camellia on Kiwi Kate's bonnet.

 I wanted to make quite a few tweaks to the block pattern as given on the blog. First cut came to the back line of the dress which was previously so voluminous she looked as though a strong wind and Sue would lift into the sky. Addition of the apron was so there was not such a big hunk of fabric in the middle of the block plus it gave the opportunity for an additional fabric. The enormous foot just had to go (although I am wondering if her foot is too tiny now) and the fat arm with no hand looked wrong. Now she's made and I look at the other blocks on the flickr page I'm wondering whether I should have made her sleeve in a different purple fabric. Oh well.

For my fun photo, I hauled some other dolls in my life out to join Kiwi Kate. The two standing on the left joined my doll family when we lived in Barranquilla, Colombia in 1983-1985. The seated doll, Sally, was my childhood "walkie talkie" as we referred to them then. Poor Sally has not improved with age and I have always wondered about her split ethnic origin. But leaving that aside, any prizes for noticing what they all have in common?

I suspect that  many of the participants in the Grandmothers choice block of the week project have had to revise their feelings about this block since being handed Block 36. Some of the regulars have flat out refused to do the blocks but I wouldn't be surprised to see some change in attitudes. Of course the two who are doing a two color project - solid white/cream with one other solid colored fabric - do have a valid excuse to opt out this week.

How does Sunbonnet Sue rank with you?