Friday, January 29, 2021

January OMG, Smashed to Smithereens

Well, folks, my January OMG (One Monthly Goal) was to make four more sampler blocks for my Retro Building Blocks quilt.  I made six!

Four Retro Building Blocks Added to the Design Wall...

Plus This One...

...And Also This One

I know that making six blocks in a whole month might seem like a pretty weak goal, but I also completed a vintage quilt repair for a client, quilted several charity tops for our guild's outreach to local pediatric hospitals, and I just finished quilting a huge, gorgeous Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt for a client that I am DYING TO SHOW YOU -- but I can't because she reads my blog and she deserves to see her finished quilt in person before I show it to everyone on the Internet...  (You know who you are!  😉)

I also ordered and received all of the Kona Solids yardage that I was short on for the Retro Building Blocks sampler, and I've prewashed all of it so that it's ready to go.  Now that I'm caught up with customer commitments, my next order of business will be to cut and piece the Rainbow Mork Suspenders borders and set them aside.  I just want to make 100% certain that I get those long, skinny strips I need out of the yardage before I start cutting into what's left for my remaining blocks.

I'm linking up with the One Monthly Goal finish party at Elm Street Quilts!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Channeling Aristotle: Using Ancient Design Principles for Better E2E Quilting

Good morning, Lovelies, and Happy Tuesday!  

I often see quilters -- even seasoned professional longarm quilters with years of experience -- crowd-sourcing ideas for quilting designs on social media and in online forums.  You know, "how should I quilt this," "which thread would you choose," and "which panto design would look good on this quilt?"  If the quilter has a computerized machine, there are additional questions about what size to scale a particular design for quilting as well.  My interior design background kicks in whenever I'm faced with these kinds of choices, so I thought I'd take a moment today to explain how the principles of color, pattern, line, and scale influenced the way I quilted this Disappearing 9-Patch baby quilt.  

39 x 53 Disappearing 9-Patch Baby Quilt

Choosing a Quilting Design: Always Start with Function

When meeting with a new interior design client, the first questions I'd ask were always about their functional needs for the space.  How many people live here?  What are their ages?  Do you have young children or pets?  Do you entertain frequently, and how often do you think you'll redecorate?  The answers to these questions influence every recommendation I will be making to ensure that the finished project not only looks amazing, but is also going to work for their lifestyle and hide pet fur if they have pets, with stain resistance/washability if someone sits on a juicebox that the toddler left in the couch cushions, etc.  I look at a client's quilt top the exact same way, so my first consideration is always the quilt's intended function.  

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Odds and Ends: All the Amazing Things I Forgot to Tell You This Week

 Hello, my lovelies, and Happy Friday!  We made it to the end of another week!  Yay!

So, you know that drawer in your house, probably in your kitchen, that is full of random things that don't belong anywhere else?  That is your frame of reference for today's blog post.  I have a "junk drawer" full of loose ideas in my head that I meant to share with you in earlier posts.  For instance:

A Ball of Feed Sack String, Next to a Golf Ball

Feed Sack String!!!

In a recent post about a vintage quilt repair that I was working on for a client, I shared this photo of the hand piecing seams that the original quilt maker stitched in a very thick, heavy thread:

This Quilt was Hand Pieced with Feed Sack String!

I shared the same photo in a Vintage Quilting group that I belong to on Facebook, and several members identified the mystery thread as feed sack string that they remember being carefully removed from the seams of feed sacks, flour sacks etc., rolled into balls (one of the group members sent me the above photo of her own ball of feed sack string), and reused for everything from tying quilts to wrapping packages.  As someone who will get in her car and drive 30 minutes away to get exactly the right fiber, weight, and color thread for a project, that level of thrift and resourcefulness is just awe-inspiring.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Two More Retro Sampler Blocks Completed, and Fabric Crises Averted

 Hello and happy Tuesday!  This post needs to be a "quickie" because I have a dentist appointment to get ready for.  I like making these Tuesday To-Do lists, even if I don't always cross everything off before the next Tuesday rolls around.

Last week, I managed to eke out two more 5" sampler blocks for my '80s Retro Building Blocks sampler quilt:

5 Inch Puss In the Corner Block

Neither of these blocks is in the original Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt, by the way.  I always try to mention that in case anyone out there is working on that quilt, so as not to confuse anyone. Like most of the blocks in my quilt, these were both foundation paper pieced due to the non-ruler-friendly patch sizes that happen when you take a 6" block and force it down to 5".

5 Inch Card Trick Block

Meanwhile, my order of Kona Solids from Missouri Star Quilt Company DID arrive this past week, including the Ocean blue that I was needing so desperately, and I washed, dried and folded all of it.  I HATE prewashing fabric, but the only thing I hate more than prewashing fabric yardage is frantically trying to remove dye bleed from a finished quilt.  

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Textile Archaeology: Exploring a Vintage Quilt Through Dissection and Repair

 Yesterday morning, while drinking my latte, I read through a string of National Geographic articles about recently discovered hominid remains in the Rising Star cave system of South Africa.  On my giant desktop monitor, I clicked through slide shows of exploration scientists cramming themselves and their equipment into narrow channels of rock as they gingerly worked to free fragile, ancient fossils that would shed new light on our understanding of early human history.

Client's Vintage Summer Quilt, Prior to Repair

And then, I headed up to my studio, and began a delicate excavation of my own, the beginning of a vintage quilt repair that I'm undertaking on behalf of a client.  Although I've never thought about it this way before, I'm sure that a big part of what attracts me to these fraught and often tedious vintage quilt projects is the opportunity they afford for a bit of textile archaeology.  And yes -- that's actually a thing!  

"As fiber folk, we all know the feeling. You look at a handmade textile and you see not just a pretty object, but the hours at the loom or knitting needles, the fiber drafting at the wheel, the alchemy at the dye pot, even the shepherds with their flocks. You can see all the steps and decisions that went into creating that object, all the places where one path or another was chosen. Archaeologists are constantly trying to trace back those paths, to see those moments when a decision had to be made and why. The whys are how we learn about culture in the distant past."


         -- Christina Pappas, Textile Archaeologist 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Four More Blocks This Week for my Retro '80s Building Blocks Quilt

 Progress, y'all!!!  I've made four more blocks for my Retro Building Blocks sampler quilt this week.  New blocks are circled and numbered below.

16 Blocks Finished, 32 Yet To Be Made

I'm almost out of my Kona Ocean fabric until my order from Missouri Star shows up, so the most recent 5" blocks were selected because they could make use of the itty-bitty scraps I have on hand.  I'm at least partially using foundation paper piecing techniques for most of these blocks, but a few of the blocks I chose to mix require good old fashioned template cutting and fussy-fiddly piecing.  The orange and blue one numbered 4 in the photo above was one such block.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Fresh Off the Frame: A Feather-Licious Peacock Flourish Snowball Quilt for a BRAND NEW Quilter!

Fresh off my frame, and full of fabulously scrumptious feathery texture:

I just finished quilting this snowball quilt for a customer who is also my mom -- this is her very first quilt that she's made by herself from start to finish, and she decided to make it KING size!  Didn't she do a great job?

It's a 12 x 12 layout of 8" snowball blocks that she made following the pattern in the book Quilts! Quilts! Quilts!, 3rd Ed., by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes.  

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Just ONE Monthly Goal for January: Complete Four More Blocks for My Retro Building Blocks Sampler Quilt

 Y'all, I am hangin my head in shame over this one.  Here I am, gleefully ordering fabric for my son Anders' high school graduation quilt, when all the while the quilt that I started for him back when he was in MIDDLE SCHOOL is still languishing on my design wall.  Where did the last 5 years go?!

13 Blocks Completed, but 35 Remain

I told you about my plan for his high school graduation quilt in yesterday's post, and yes, that will need to be a priority in 2021.  Hopefully, Anders will get to participate in the quilt blessing ceremony that our church usually does for the graduating high school seniors in June (if this pandemic abates, anyway), so that gives me a hard deadline to work towards.  But I can't start on that one until the fabric gets here, and I don't know how long that will take due to how backed up and messed up package delivery has been lately.  So until then, my version of the Moda Modern Quilt Blocks sampler will be my top priority.  Anders deserves TWO finished quilts in 2021.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

First New-FO of 2021: Kaleidoscope Grad Quilt for Anders

Alright you guys, I know you've heard me sing this song before, but THIS time I mean it.  THIS is the quilt I'm making for Son-the-Younger's upcoming high school graduation:

77 x 99 Kaleidoscope Quilt in Blues, Greens, and Purple

Some of you are raising your eyebrows at this, recalling my previous announcement about a year ago that I would be making Anders a version of Karen Kay Stone's spectacular Cinco de Mayo quilt for his graduation, but that idea has been abandoned for the following reasons:

  1. Graduation is only 5 months away, and I have customer quilt commitments that will demand my attention in addition to my own ongoing projects.
  2. While I still love the elaborately foundation paper pieced New York Beauty blocks in Karen's design, I know that all of those seams add up to a stiffness that is fine for a wall display quilt, but not so soft and snuggly to sleep under.
  3. It bothered me that the New York Beauty blocks were too similar to the curved flying geese arcs in my older son Lars's high school graduation quilt, and I wanted Anders' quilt to be completely different.
  4. Most importantly, I think, is that I just don't want to devote such a significant block of time to recreating a version of someone else's design right now.
So I may (or may not) end up making a quilt like Cinco de Mayo someday, but it's not going to be Anders' graduation quilt.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Rebecca and Her Ugly Christmas Quilt Top: A Fairy Tale of Quilting Redemption

Happy Christmas, to any of you who are still celebrating for the full Twelve Days of Christmas! Happy Procrastination to those who have ceased celebrating, but who are using the liturgical calendar as an excuse to leave their decorations up until Christmas officially ends on Epiphany (January 6th).  And of course, Happy New Year 2021 to all of us, because I don't know anyone who isn't glad to finally shut the door on the House of Horrors that 2020 turned out to be.  

Bibbity, Bobbity, Boo!

This post is a fairy tale about how the perfect edge-to-edge quilting design (E2E) can take a so-so, unloved quilt top and not just finish the UFO, but transform it into something better than it was before.  Just like a Fairy Godmother!  

"Let It Snow" E2E Quilting Design Redeems This Disappearing 9-Patch Quilt

Once Upon a Time...

Once upon a time, during the darkest days of the Global Pandemic of 2020, Rebecca was inspired by all of the cheerful Christmas quilts that were popping up on her social media feed.  She indulged in nostalgia-induced daydreams of snuggling near the fire beneath just such a quilt, watching classic Christmas movies, reading, and munching on crackled molasses sugar cookies whilst Bing Crosby crooned carols in the background.  So she decided to "whip up" a quick Christmas throw quilt using novelty prints from her stash.  The cake pops, peppermint candies, and steaming mugs of hot cocoa in the photo above were the three stash fabrics that she started with.  The larger scale of those prints makes them work well as a feature fabric for the large scale Disappearing 9-Patch blocks, and they played nicely into Rebecca's visions of sugar plums.  She also worked in some long-hoarded scraps left over from a crazy patchwork Christmas tree skirt that was made about 10 years ago.  The solid red and greens were from her stash as well.  But alas, she did not have nearly enough novelty feature fabrics for the quilt in her stash, so she bravely masked up, slathered herself with hand sanitizer that stung her papercuts and stank of cheap tequila, and ventured forth in search of fun Christmas food fabric.  She hadn't left her house in so long that she barely remembered how to start the car!