Sharing fabric cuttings with my worldwide friends

Monday, December 29, 2014

Where Poppies Grow in December

And so we come to the last block for this project, Heavenly Puzzle.

For this last block in the project it was time to dig through the fabrics I had set aside and see what had not yet been used. Sometimes the result of such a search ends up with a mishmash of fabrics that really should not appear together. Such was the case to begin with when I started pulling and cutting fabrics for this block. At the end I had quite a pile of pieces already cut but then discarded (note to self, you had thought to photograph that...oh well. It didn't happen.)

Technical note, the light outside was failing rapidly and I was hurrying to take the photo. Only now am I wondering why my perfectly square block looks skewif.

But with this last block done I now have to get serious about the setting and finishing because I really would like to be able to send my finished quilt to the National World War I Monument in Kansas City to be included in a display there in June, 2015.

 Denniele Bohannon created a lovely project that I have been very touched by and proud to have been able to sew along and make a quilt in memory of my Grandpop, James Patrick Coughlan. Now Grandpop served in the New Zealand Army which was not quite the same as Denniele's Great Grandfather, Almo O'Kell, the subject of the project, who was a medic with Field Hospital  No. 3 of the First Division commanded by General Pershing. But Grandpop and Almo were both fighting for the same cause despite coming from opposite sides of the globe.

 As you know I like to set up a photo showing my block with some appropriate props. Denniele has been very thorough with her project and has already had a book published featuring this project but adding other items with the same inspiration. On my Christmas wish list I included the book and was delighted to be able to unwrap it on Christmas Day and of course it was a natural to include in this post.  I also added a copy of Grandpop's service record along with some poppies and a newspaper cutting...
In a small collection of items hand carried here to me in April when my sister came to visit was this notice, clipped from the local newspaper many years ago, announcing Grandpop's funeral. I thought it might be an appropriate prop to go with the block for this month, "Heavenly Puzzle".

Now I must get busy and create the setting blocks/border to turn this set of blocks into a finished quilt top and ultimately into a finished quilt worthy of being on display on Kansas City.

As they this space!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dixie Diary Debut

Last year a block of the month project from Barbara Brackman that you'll recall I worked on was The Dixie Diary.  Although I had my quilt finished months ago I have been somewhat tardy in showing you that finish. So I'd like to remedy that here and now. Just remember that I'm a quilter first and a photographer second!

I accumulated a goodly amount of grey fabrics while making my BB Civil War quilt "The Blues and the Greys" in 2011 so, in trying to be a thrifty housewife, this Dixie Diary was also designed around using that grey fabric. This time I teamed it with pink because the Dixie Diary is, after all, the diary of a young lady.
The block patterns were given to make a 12" block but I decided to scale the patterns down and make 6" blocks. The setting, spacing the blocks apart and framing each one, would give the individual blocks a chance to shine. Above, the whole block shown is block 2, Checkered Allegiances.

Here I've highlighted block 11, Just Hominy, for you. I will hasten to let you know I quilt by check i.e. the quilting is done by a longarm quilter, Su Gardner of VA Quilting. We decided that as the blocks were somewhat simple we would also quilt them in that way. I had designed the setting to allow lots of open space for the quilting to feature and Su did achieve that I think.
The grey and pink fabrics I selected for my settings are from the Moda Basic Grey collection. Above is my version of  block 12, Turning Yankee.
Here I'm showing you the border and finishing treatment I used. The border was a wide swathe of the pink on white toile fabric I had used as my background in all the twelve blocks. The binding was done in a flanged style using the grey (as the flange) and pink from the setting.
The block patterns as provided were all intended to have a motif appliqued over the center of the block - either a 5 pointed star or a heart. At the six inch size, and having taken considerable effort to both fussy cut my fabrics and sew accurately, I was not feeling so inclined to do this applique. I compromised in an effort to stay true to the designer's intention - two corner blocks have a double heart applique and two have a pieced five pointed star.

You can revisit my experiences in making the Dixie Diary blocks by going back into the 2013 postings on this blog.

I have been waiting for weeks for the weather to co-operate so I could take my photos outside. Today at last was a sunny day but all at once the sun went down and I was in a mad scramble to take the photos. The block above, I can assure you, is perfectly square. The photographer, alas, did not have her camera accurately positioned.

This year I have been working on two "block of the month" projects about which I have been posting here: "Threads of Memory" a Civil War project by Barbara Brackman and "Where Poppies Grow" aka "Remembering Almo" by Denniele Bohannon and Janice Britz to acknowledge the 100 year anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. With only one block remaining in each project I will soon be hard at work setting those blocks in readiness for quilting.

Hopefully, you'll check back here often to see how they turn out. Surely I will be able to share the finished quilts with you in a little more timely fashion than has happened for The Dixie Diary.  But in the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed seeing my finished quilt, the newly renamed "Sarah's Troubles".

Thursday, December 4, 2014

TOM 11 St Charles Star for Louisa Alexander

We are getting close to the end of the Thread of Memory project with this entry, the St Charles Star. You might recognize it as we have seen at least two earlier blocks that are quite similar.
We have had a few blocks now that have the star appearing to rest on something. For this one several of us making the blocks have taken to saying our star is sitting on a doily.

The challenge for me is again what to do with that big central 4" block. Right back at the beginning I purchased a fat quarter of the grey fabric with big circles of white dots. It seemed too bold to use until this month when I determined that it could provide a new look for the center.

The pattern as given allowed for piecing or appliqueing the "doily"; I decided hand applique would give me the result I wanted even if it was not at the speed I wanted. In addition to the "doily" applique I also needed to applique the center big dot along with my fussy cut of the little bird.

In the end I was quite happy with how my block looks. Of course you need to remember that I am setting the blocks on point.
My helper and I had fun setting up this photo. If you have read the history story behind the block this month you will know that Louisa Alexander escaped her slavery position by hiding under a load of cornshucks in a wagon drawn by oxen. Lacking both the cornshucks and the oxen I decided to make do with a wagon of hay to remind us that Louisa's owner Jim Hollman, was part of a group called "Haystack Secessionists".

This week I have had few reasons to be away from home and thus had expected to be able to take some time with my camera and my quilts. Alas, the weather has been not at all co-operative. But for an escape story the very overcast weather provided a suitable backdrop for my photo set-up.

I better get busy again with the setting blocks - they were started several weeks back but have been untouched since early November and I want this quilt top finished by early January to go to the longarm quilter.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Where Poppies Grow in November

I see I have been remiss in not always remembering to tell you the name of each of these blocks. Sorry about that. For November the block we were given is titled Mothers Dream.
 As you can see from the photos I have had a big problem in photographing my block this month. Additionally, I set myself up for a big challenge with my fabric choices.

Moving right along. In the back story for the block this month, Denniele again talks about the death of Almo (the focal character for this project who was also her great grandfather).

As you might remember, I am making my quilt to honor the service of my grandfather, James Patrick Coughlan. He was a survivor of the Great War and came home again much to the relief of his mother Caroline.
 Here I am showing you that a few short years after the war, this photograph was sent, with a hand written inscription "with love from Richard and Jimmie to Grandma C". (Jimmie and Richard are James Patrick's sons.)
Up close, the taller/older boy is my Dad, James William Coughlan with his younger brother Richard.

This project has now given us 11 blocks with just one more to come before we must set our blocks together and turn this project into a finished quilt. While I am looking forward to the last block I will be sorry for the project to come to an end as I have enjoyed very much the challenge of sewing some lesser known blocks that require a good amount of skill.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Where Poppies Grow in October

This was not a block for the fainthearted! I made it twice. And wondered about making it a third time until I had a stern discussion with myself.
When done well this is a good looking block. But the way to make it involves the use of templates which takes some of us back more than a couple of decades when everything was made that way.

I made my first version while away on a retreat with my quilt guild. In packing my things to go I had carefully printed the downloaded pattern from Pickledish and, to be sure I had everything, I also went to Blockbase and printed out their templates. It took me several hours to make the block and then I packed it away. Alas, once I got home and laid my 9 1/2" ruler on top my block was not up to size and I had to make the decision to start over.

Denniele, the designer, had also perhaps had some experience with this because she had redrafted the templates and, oh happy day, using those required straight line piecing and not the set in seams using the blockbase templates. So for version two I used Denniele's templates. Result? A correctly sized block.
For a fun photo I decided to play a little with the name of the block. The sun was strong and casting good shadows so I laid my block down and accessorized it with a red and a blue "dove".

Looking at Grandpop's service record for the month of October I find that he was appointed to the rank of Temporary Corporal on October 28, 1916. On October 2, 1917 he was attached to the base at Etaples and later in that month he was posted to the 3rd and then the 1st Battalion, Otago Regiment.

Sadly, in the writeup for the October block in the Remembering Almo project we discover that Almo O'Kell, in whose memory this project was created, died of peritonitis on January 12, 1919 while still in Europe and thus was never reunited with his family.

With only two more blocks for this project I wonder what else we will find out about Almo's service.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

TOM 10 Britain's Star for Charlotte Henson

For the October block I had a dilemma - how to include the bird fabric. In the end I have not used it for this month's block and I am pondering how to make that seem like a good idea.

 I was still going with my other, self imposed "rules" and using the splash of the lime green and the solid grey fabric and,additionally, trying to use different fabrics in each block. That stripe is rather bold so I had been trying to wait for a block to incorporate it in a way that was not too strong. I'm hoping it is balanced by the strong solid grey.

If you are also reading along on the Barbara Brackman page for this project, you will know that the story this week is about Charlotte Henson and her husband, Josiah Henson who escaped slavery and found refuge in Canada. Josiah became an author and visited Britain where he caught the interest of Queen Victoria which gave me the inspiration for my "fun photo" for this month.
Although it was widely thought that Josiah was the real-life model for the main character in Harriet Beecher Stowe's book "Uncle Tom's Cabin" you can see it was not so by reading the history that Ms Brackman has provided for us.

With only two blocks to go I have started work on the setting blocks for my quilt. Over the weekend I was at a retreat with my quilting guild and I put up my sample setting block only to hear "no, that fabric is too dark". Darn it, they agreed with me although they had not been on the four store odyssey with me trying to find a good fabric.

At the beginning of the project I had bought just one yard of that solid grey not knowing how I was going to use it. Realizing I should have bought more I went back to the store a few short weeks later only to find they no longer had it in stock. I prefer to buy my fabrics in person in a quilt shop so I kept hoping I would find either the right solid or a tone on tone that would work well with it. The fabric I had purchased, hoping it could look good, was not the one after all.  Last night I had to admit defeat and resort to online shopping. While I wait I can get busy cutting the other fabrics planned for the setting blocks.

Also to do is wonder how I can get around the dilemma I set up for myself by not using the bird fabric in this block. Some kind member from the flickr site suggested that if I don't include the bird fabric in the next two blocks it will make this one blend in and not look like a rule breaker.

Something to think about.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Remembering Kerry

October is a sad month for me; both my parents and my older sister all passed away, in different years, in this month.  October 29 is the first anniversary of when we lost my sister Kerry.

At the recent Studio Tour I displayed GW Quilt and I am going to share that with you now.

This quilt was made by Kerry and I to give to our parents on their Golden Wedding Anniversary on May 3, 1997.

The quilt was made as a joint venture and begun at a time when I lived in New Jersey and Kerry was in Cambridge, New Zealand.  I purchased the multi colored print you see in the second to last border and together we chose fabrics to go with it. The decision was made to create a medallion style quilt with a Carpenters Wheel block at the center - in part a homage to our maternal grandfather who was a carpenter. We also decided on the outer pieced border which turned out to be one of the first pieces made for the quilt because we wanted to be sure we had enough fabric for it. Of course this also meant that we could not make too many changes to the design because the border, cut and pieced by me, had to fit the quilt.

As I recall, I made the center block and then mailed it to Kerry who made the blocks for the next round and sent it back to me to make the next round. About that time I discovered my family and I were relocating to live in Australia so that made it a little easier to be in contact about the quilt.

For the round with the big 12" blocks we each made eight blocks. Next, Kerry stitched up the flying geese and then added the other borders. Finally, our friend Donna Ward quilted GW Quilt, a name bestowed upon it as we were creating it. That name was not intended to be the real name but somehow over the months the quilt grew with that identity and once it was finished we did not have the inclination to bestow a new name on our quilt of love.

The finished quilt measures about 90" square.  Each of three daughters, 3 sons-in-law and six grandchildren created their own label with a personal message which were stitched onto  the reverse side along with four more blocks.

Our parents slept under it, covered by our love, for only a few short months until we lost Mum in October 1997. And now it has come to live with me.

We three sisters  (l to r, Cathy, Dorry, Kerry) had a great time at the Queenstown National Quilt Symposium in April 2011. Although Cathy is not a quilter Kerry and I were delighted that she was able to come with us to Queenstown.

Kerry and I had shared a love of quilting, mostly from one side of the world to the other, from the time I introduced her to a new hobby I had found in early 1981. Although GW Quilt was the only quilt we made as a pair we did sew together in a round robin group beginning in January 1999 until 2013. Some of those quilts I have shown on earlier posts on this blog.

I miss my beloved big sister so very much. On this day Cathy and I are each remembering her in our own way from one side of the globe to the other.

In Memoriam
Kerry Lynne Payne (nee Coughlan)
March 3 1951 - October 29 2013

Monday, October 20, 2014

Studio Tour 2014

It has been a whirlwind four days for me as a participant in the Great Falls Studios annual Studio Tour. The idea is to welcome visitors in to the places where we create our art, give them the opportunity to chat directly with the artists and maybe achieve some sales. 

Not all of us have a home studio that is suitable for visitors to come to so I was delighted to once more set up in the living room of the home of my water-color artist friend Linda Jones. This year we were joined by silversmith Richard Masaniello; the combination of art techniques was a good variety and made spending time at our studio stop worthwhile.
 My timing for this post is not terrific because the tour is over now. But we were just so busy that I kept forgetting to take a few photographs. Fortunately the weather was kind enough not to rain and the sunny skies combined with the lots of opportunity for leaf peeping made for a gorgeous Fall day to be out and about exploring the back roads and stopping off at the open art studios. The wind was fierce though and by day three, when the temperature had dropped, we had to move the greeter and welcome materials that had been on the table with the wedding ring quilt inside the front door. But my "Purple Passion" quilt let people know they were at the right place.
 Inside the front door my quilt "The Luscious Lilies" complimented the colors in many of Linda's artworks hanging on the right stair wall while my much smaller "There's One in Every Crowd" did the same for other pieces on the left. Down a short flight of stairs was my area.
 The theme for my display this year was history and I was showcasing both completed and current pieces that draw their inspiration from history. The big piece in the center is a commission item I made earlier this year I titled "Work Clothes" - it is made from fabrics cut from the suits, sport coats, shirts, ties, suspenders and pants belonging to a retired friend. I'm now working on pillows that go with the lapquilt and you can see three of them just to the left of Work Clothes. Visitors loved to hear the story of those pieces.

In the back left I had pinned up my two current block of the month projects; Threads of Memory and Where Poppies Grow. Folded up and laying underneath "Strawberries and Cream" (the red and white one) is "St Patrick's Day", the Remarkable Round Robin quilt I am finishing that belonged to my sister. I am thinking about her constantly right now as it is coming up on the first anniversary of her passing away.

The low coffee table held my binder with information and my copy of "Inspired by the Beatles - An Art Quilt Challenge" open to "my" page (I was one of the 150 fiber artists who made a piece based on the title of a Beatles song - the complete collection debuts at the imminent Houston Quilt Show). Each day I gave away a small thanks-for-visiting bag containing a cookie made from an old family recipe, to go with the history theme, and I had them displayed in one of the cake tins that I remember my Mum always had full of a wide variety of delicious cakes/cookies/slices. On Friday visitors received an Anzac Biscuit which also fit nicely with my World War I project on the wall. Saturday's treat was Hokey Pokey Biscuits and Sunday it was Yo-Yoes.
Moving around the room I had five of my challenge pieces from the June Bride and There is a Season collections displayed on the screens with more quilts draped over the sofa.

Each day when I got home I was really tired from being on my feet all day and talking so much. Saturday it was 4.30pm before I was able to grab a few minutes and eat my lunch. Each evening my own kitchen became the scene of the production of the cookies for the next day; my son did most of the baking and I quickly packaged them up invariably forgetting to even taste one myself. So I was delighted to come home on Sunday to find he had made another batch of Yo-Yoes just for us to enjoy.

If you are reading this blog for the first time because I met you on Studio Tour I hope you had a great visit. Thanks to everyone who took the time to listen to - or read here - all my stories about making memories with fabric.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

TOM 9 Lancaster Star for Deborah Simmons Coates

As promised, a fast post to catch up with my TOM blocks.

For September we had another block requiring that 4" center cut. I tried to make it a little more interesting.

I am all set up for a three day weekend Studio Tour with Great Falls Studios. My TOM blocks are pinned up on a temporary design wall behind my sewing table.

Day One of the Tour is tomorrow so I hope to have some photos to post of that event.

And just maybe, if you are in the area, you might stop in and see me!

TOM 8 Jackonsville Star for Emily Logan

I am fearfully behind in posting my photos for the Threads of Memory project. The blocks are getting made in a timely manner but getting them from the camera to the blog is not as timely.

Don't forget to tip your head somewhat because I am planning on setting my blocks on point.

Playing by my own rules for this project gets more challenging each month. I "have" to use the solid grey as background, the lime green for a shot of color and a bird fabric to represent the flight of the slaves. So that left only the one new fabric to put into this block to keep with the last rule of not re-using fabrics.

Sorry, no fun photo for this or next months block or I will never get caught up!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Where Poppies Grow in September

The September block in the "Remembering Almo" project required a little thought, followed by a little rule breaking for me.  As you know I have been making my blocks using the army uniform colors of my Grandpop who saw service at Gallipoli.  But this block is named Red Cross and really did, to my mind, need to feature red. Looking through my fabric collection under the red heading I was able to find a red that had somewhat of a brown base to it so it will hopefully blend in with my other blocks.

Servicemen in the trenches were often victim to illness because of their poor living conditions as well as the expected war wounds. Thus hospitalizations and organizations such as the Red Cross were of major importance.

For Grandpop the month of September had several important dates. September 1, 1914 was when he signed up for war service at Oamaru. Prior to that time he had been working as a labourer on his grandfather James McAuley's farm at Georgetown (near to Oamaru).

On September 4, 1915 Grandpop was evacuated from Gallipoli to Malta with a diagnosis of enteric fever (typhoid). There was a very long hospitalization and convalescence after which he was finally transferred to Sling camp for a short training period where, after two weeks, he was appointed Temporary Sergeant on September 25, 1916. The next day he left Sling for service on the Western Front in France.

As you can understand, including the Red Cross block in the project is particularly appropriate.

The photograph above was taken during the time Grandpop was with the No. 6 Officer Cadet Battalion in Oxford, England. His active service in the front lines had ended on June 18, 1918 and he was posted to Oxford on July 5.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Quilts as Art

Summer has been very long and packed full of activity for me and I have slipped behind with my blog posts. Each morning I have to figure out which hat I really must put on for the day: exhibit/challenge leader, quilter or blogger to say nothing of the usual and/or mundane ones that also must be worn like homeowner/domestic toiler, family organizer, friend...

This post will feature something I did wearing firstly my "exhibit chair" hat for Great Falls Studios (GFS) but also my personal quiltmaker personna so I could enter one of my own pieces for the exhibit.

Founded eleven years ago GFS is a group of local artists who all live and/or work at their art in Great Falls. We number just over 100 members who work in a variety of mediums; the majority work with paint or camera but we have a sprinkling of other mediums including fibre, wood, clay. In September we had our first major all-media juried show and it remains on display until the end of September at the USGS in Reston. The show was a huge amount of work for my co-chair Silvia and I but it was very well received.

Thanks to Silvia Gonzalez Roman for the photo above taken at the end of hanging day. Because the exhibit was to hang in the United States Geological Survey building we wanted to give it a theme loosely tied to the mission of that particular Federal agency thus the exhibit title "A Sea of Sticks and Stones".

One challenge that I have personally taken on in recent years is to take quiltmaking out of the craft closet and place it on the art stage where I feel it belongs. This exhibit provided just such an opportunity.

 We had 87 pieces juried into the show but I'm going to give you a quick tour featuring the fiber art while showing you how well the mixed media all hung happily together. For instance, above you can see, starting on the left, one of three pieces by quilter Cindy Grisdela, then an oil painting, two digital photographs, my own quilt piece, a collage with photograph below and finally four lovely pieces by potter Laura Nichols.
 On the left, "Water Lilies II" by Roberta Beasley, which was awarded second prize, "Shades of Autumn" by fiber artist (quilter) Cindy Grisdela which won one of the four honorable mentions and on the right, "In the Attic" a mixed media piece by Jennifer Duncan.
Again starting on the left with "Winter Trees" by acrylic artist MaryEllen Mogee, then "Autumn Forest" by Cindy Grisdela, "My Daughter in Monticello" in oil by Yihan Huff above and "Rosebud"   by photographer Don Fowler below.

And here is a view of my own entry "Sticks Adrift in a Stony Sea".  You'll need to wait until the exhibit is over and my piece is home again so I can take some detail shots to let you see the finer points of my wallquilt.

This is one of the five wall quilts I have stitched up since May so no wonder I have been feeling like I don't have a moment to spare! You should be able to click on the photos to see them at larger scale.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Where Poppies Grow in August

  The block for August is Winged Square and the story that went with it, on the Remembering Almo project, is about the US Field Hospital unit 3 crossing firstly the Moselle River and then the Rhine River. That unit was the first US unit of troops to ever cross the Rhine and it happened on December 11, 1918.

For this block there was a very big challenge with all those tiny squares. There was a fabric sitting patiently waiting to be used and when I measured that flower motif and it fit those tiny squares I decided to go for it and use it. The stripe fabric was also carefully cut and in some areas reminds me of shoulder epaulettes.

Since beginning this project I have been doing some reading about life in the trenches and it was very grim. Many lives were lost, not because of direct wounding by the enemy but by troops succumbing  to typhoid, complications from diarrhea and dysentry and poor diet and living conditions. 

Indeed, in the research done by my sister she comments that Grandpop spent 227 days out sick of the 260 days the ANZACs spent on Gallipoli and this likely saved his life. The last two weeks of August 1915 saw the 8th Company involved in the battle for Hill 60 but by the end of August Grandpop had contracted enteric fever (typhoid) and was evacuated to Malta on September 4, less than a month after his return to Gallipoli.

We now have eight out of the twelve blocks completed for the project. It is time to get serious about creating the setting blocks for I have decided to set my blocks in a style different than the one used by the designer of this Remembering Almo project.

Friday, August 29, 2014

TOM 7 Oberlin Star for The Oberlin Rescuers

The August block is expected out tomorrow so at the eleventh hour I better let you see what my July block looks like!

 This block was something different!  An Ohio Star in collaboration with a Drunkards Path block. I really like the way it looks.

The story for this block revolves around a group named The Oberlin Rescuers who were sympathetic to African Americans being free and being able to obtain an education such as was available at Oberlin College.

I must admit that what was mainly holding up getting this block posted was that I was drawing a blank on how to do my "fun" photo shoot. Thinking I had read that The Oberlin Rescuers rode horseback in their efforts I went on my own scouting mission to the toy archives to find some horses.

I had fun with a setup using the horses and a couple of potato vines to echo the lime green and got the photo I had been thinking about.

Alas, I have just reread the story for the block and I can't really find that riding horseback featured all that much. Oh well.  They did ride in carriages so horses were involved!

My calendar for the upcoming week is very busy so I'm not sure how soon the August block will get made. But it will be completed before the September one is published.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Where Poppies Grow in July

Getting caught up here I hope.

For July, we had a really interesting looking star that the designer has named "French Star". It is a combination of piecing and applique that I think makes for a really good looking and unusual block.

Significant events in July for Grandpop were his promotion to the rank of Sergeant on July 7, 1917 and his posting to the No. 6 Officer Cadet Battalion in Oxford, England on July 5, 1918.

Although the star is named for France I have photographed it in Italy...and in August. I had the block pieced in July but needed to finish it off with hand applique so decided to take it with me on my vacation to Italy the first week of August. I stayed on a vineyard where I sat on the front terrace and hand stitched the melon shapes down which give the star that circular feeling.  Interestingly the vineyard was in the village of Treiso which was a very strong center for the resistance movement in Italy in WWII.

I'm looking forward to getting back on track and working the August block on a more timely basis.

Where Poppies Grow in June

Oh dear, I guess June got away from me in respect of posting this block. Oops.

For this month the name given to the star block is "My Country".

I'm not sure that there is enough contrast with those small triangles at the end of the horizontals and verticals but it's done. And in the spirit of getting this posted I don't have a fun photo of the block posed. Sorry about that.

June was significant in Grandpop's war service because on June 17 1918 his active service ended with his being detached to the United Kingdom.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

TOM 6 Salem Star for Charlotte Forten Grimke

Sorry, I'm a little out of order here and you might be wondering about the June Poppies block. It will show up soon though.

 On Saturday I was out at my guild Saturday Sewing event and Pinkdeenster and I were trying to select and cut fabrics for our blocks. That fabric on the outer edge I have had for a while but had not yet found a good spot for it. When I measured the width of those pointy bits it was just the width I needed but then Pink suggested adding in a little of the diagonal line because it would act as an outer darker frame. So that's what I did. Wasn't it a great suggestion? Thanks Pink!

At this point in the project I am watching all the other pretty blocks getting put up on flickr and sighing and wondering if I made the right decision with my own which cannot be called pretty. But, it is what it is. In each block my rule is that I have to use that chartreuse green, I have to use the solid grey as a background and I have to have a bird fabric in there someplace. For the other fabrics I can use what I want so long as it has not already been used.

H'mm, now I am at the halfway point I am thinking it might be an idea to use those fabrics one more time each, maybe in a different combination that the first time around. So we'll see what the block looks like next month and see how that plan works up.

There was a lot of story associated with this block but my usual creativity in matching a fun photo with the block did not bring up anything good at all. The birds therefore provided my subject.
 We like to feed the birds and they do enjoy stopping off at the feeders. Usually there is just the one feeder up and we stock it with sunflower seed which keeps the little birds, who can get through the outer protective cage, quite happy as the squirrels cannot access the seed.  However last time we were at the bird feeder store I suggested we again try the safflower seed as it had been quite a while since we last put it out in a feeder.
Within a day I remembered why we stopped using safflower. The chipmunks love it and can empty the feeder in a day. Here I caught the critter in the act. That animal was so delighted with the new food source it did not want to run away and I got really close with the camera before it took off.

The runaway slaves that we hear about in the monthly stories were never this brazen in their actions!

Monday, June 9, 2014

TOM5 Madison Star for Delia Webster

There is quite a story associated with block 5 - both on the Barbara Brackman Civil War blog and in my sewing room.

 For flickr purposes I usually take the photo square on but my plan is to set the blocks on point so just twist your head a little when looking at this one.

When I first saw the star I noticed that there was really only three different areas for color change and since my self designated "rules" require me to use the solid grey as the outer background, to include a small flash of the chartreuse green and to use a bird motif somewhere in the block. So that is three fabrics right there. I debated putting the bird in only one star point but I wanted to keep it balanced and since Delia Webster herself was all over the place and helping numbers of people I decided I could go ahead and use birds in all eight of the star points. These two fabrics are from the same line so they go well together.

The chartreuse green rule requires only that one fabric so I couldn't have just one star point or it would have looked really out of whack.

Construction was challenging as I not only had the eight set in seams to deal with but I also needed to pay attention to the way the birds were facing. With the fussy cutting required it seemed the method of construction best suited for the block was to make and use templates. Note to self, check templates for accuracy next time before spending hours wondering why the segments don't seem to fit together well. sigh.

 For my fun photo I noticed in the story about Delia Webster that she often hid in brush heaps so I first headed to the brush heap in my own back yard.
 Flowers are now blooming in my garden so it is hard for me to resist placing my block with a flowery background. The shot above was valid, I decided, because there are some small volunteer violas hiding under the garden bench. I doubt Delia could have hidden herself very well there.
And then there is the clematis on the archway on the front wall. This clematis was purchased and planted last year when I had been working on my purple, green and white Women's Suffrage quilt for many months; I noticed it impacted several color decisions I made during that time. But somehow I don't think we will see a profusion of grey flowers in my garden next summer!

Wonder how many set in seams there will be in block 6?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Thoughts of Summer

The past several weeks have been really hectic and I am all out of order in posting my projects.

Some months ago I "acquired" the job of exhibits chair of an art group I belong to. For the month of June we had scheduled to mount an "all member" exhibit at our local library. Since I am now the one who is "where the buck stops" it was up to me to pull together an exhibition so I thought I better at least make a piece myself in case there were not too many entries for the show.

Now you surely know I like to title things in advance and work the fine details. For this show I decided to have a theme and I chose "Thoughts of Summer" thinking that would give a lot of scope for the artists as it could be items iconic to summer or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, it could be cool wintery thoughts to get you through the hot summer days.

My projects are usually lengthy time wise. But this one I started work on during the weekend of May 16 and now, here it is, hanging in the show on June2.
The title of the piece is "The Thinking Chair" meant to invoke the concept that this is where I might sit to have my "Thoughts of Summer". Initially intended to have a lot more embellishing than this I began with some pennant flags on the masts of the sailboats, added a few colorful fish and dropped a pair of sunglasses on the sand by the chair. Once it comes down off the wall I've got some paua shell pieces I'd like to add and maybe some beads and other bits and bobs.

Being a detail person there are little splashes here and there throughout the piece that depict what I might be dreaming of as a summer vacation. The background was intended to be somewhat pale as, after all, it is just thoughts. But look closely and you'll see images of things associated with relaxing and taking it easy.

Guess where I'd like to be vacationing this summer!

The artists came through and there are forty pieces on view. Tomorrow night is the opening reception so I look forward to hearing what the community thinks of our exhibition.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Where Poppies Grow In May

Block 5 in the Remembering Almo project is titled The Airplanes.
 This block gave me some angst in the making. As directed by the provided pattern the striped area is meant to be pieced. Oh no, I thought, that belongs in the "too difficult" basket. Instead I decided to use a striped fabric. H'mm, the idea was sound but the execution? I was away sewing with friends for the weekend and did not have access to a printer much less all my usual supplies; I decided to foundation piece it. Not a good choice as it turned out.

However, I thought about all those servicemen in World War I and how they continued to persevere under very dire circumstances and decided I better persevere too and carry on with the plan.

In May Grandpop was involved in significant action at Gallipoli. Having landed on April 25, his 4th Otago company was involved in a battle from May 2nd through 4th. That battle took the lives of 143 men from the Company but Grandpop was a lucky survivor although he did sustain a gunshot wound to the right shoulder. This took him away from the frontline to an army hospital In Birmingham, England.

 As Grandpop was a foot soldier in WWI he was not involved with airplanes. But my Father-in Law served in WWII in the US military as a pilot in the Airborne Troop Carrier division.

For this month I am honoring his service.

We are fortunate to have my FIL's uniform jacket and I have used it to pose the May block.