Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I Work Well Under Pressure

One day to go to get the Q1 FAL list done.  This is another of my goals completed.  I had so much fun with these!

I stitched them up last April
April 2015

when I designed a set of six placemats (that post is here) to take to Angela Walters' Dot to Dot class in Sarasota.  You can read about that highlight of my quilting life here.  I made three pairs: two in blues and two in greens.  The pinks are not really in my décor, so I concentrated on getting the blues and greens done.
May 1, 2015
Here was the first one quilted but without binding:
No clue what the names of the Kona solids are, sorry
I did that Dot to Dot design in the fuchsia triangles on both mats.  In this second one after I quilted the centre one, I thought, "Hey, these are equilateral triangles; what if I rotated each one so they radiate around that central pale pink triangle?"  Yep, quilt talked to me again.  I made up the dot to dot design in the fuchsia HRTs.  I don't think I've done the fern design before, which is basically a feather-design, and I love how easy it was and its effect.  I rotated them too!

Unlike the first four, these had to have binding. Not sure why I didn't cut the backing bigger all the way around as I did for the blues and greens mats.  I've suddenly, as I viewed this post in "Preview" realized why...doh!  I believe I'd had the thought to make these up into a bag...ah well, that's what I get for being menopausally scatterbrained, and for nearly 1-year-old UFOs.  (Ya, 'cuz I never have any UFOs older than that, nope...)  Yay for me because I found some Kona black strips (I think) in my black scraps bag.  Have I said yet how very glad I am I brought all my smaller scraps with me?!
All bound. I added in the white straight line quilting after I bound them and confirmed what I had suspected, that I'd done this in the first four.
Here is the other one:
Fabulous texture, n'est-ce pas?  The Spirograph-esque design is Angela Walters' from her book, Shape by Shape, but I did it in a triangle as opposed to a square. You can see it drawn and then stitched out by The Quilt Journal here. Thanks to Judy at Quilt Paradigm for showing me that take on this easy and effective FMQ design.  I did it with my walking foot, since I don't have a ruler foot for my Bernina. I drew two lines ahead of my stitching with a Hera marker, since you can't draw the entire design ahead of time.
I had to incorporate feathers, you know me...imagine my surprise when I checked the photos of the first four and found I'd done that on one of those too!

The backs.
Throwing finished quilts around on the ground again...
No clue why but one turned out about 1/3" narrower.  Looks more in the photo for some weird reason.
It was super hot and humid the day I finished these, so, unlike her usual close scrutiny of my projects, Bella chose not to be as involved.
Hot Himalayan puddy-tat
You know I often snap photos of gorgeous flowers.  Here are two more delicate spring flowers, one is a black-eyed Susan I believe and the other, no clue.  The flowers are orchid or iris-like in appearance but not size, they are very small.  On one corner they were so prolific it made me smile.

This post might end up as part of Soma's Wandering Camera linky next month.  I told her that I'll be sure to snap photos as we go what always feels like "back in time," heading back home to Kingsville, Ontario, and share those on the first Thursday in April.
Great spot for early morning coffee or afternoon tea; I will miss it.
Linking up with
Let's Bee Social
and later with Leanne at She Can Quilt for the Q1 FAL

Saturday, March 26, 2016

You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

The bougainvillea around us is spectacular this year, maybe because we had a fair bit of rain this winter.
That incredible pinky red and neutral sand are the main colours for this post's finish.
As you know, Naala turned 9 years old on March 4, and has had some shoulder issues this past month again, so earlier this week we took them for a shorter walk in a really pretty park our friend John showed us this year.  She still looks pretty amazing for a 9-year-old Rottie. She couldn't jump up on that wall that day, but Rocco, who is 6.5 years old this month, can, and did.  He learned this trick from Brandy, his red-nose pibble friend.  Rocco and Naala, in turn, have been teaching Brandy to enjoy the water:
a fun frolic at the beach a couple of days ago

Old and older dogs can learn new tricks. Pibble love is not a new trick for either Brandy or Rocco...or for their doubles. Check this out!  Just over a week ago, because Naala was on the DL, John and Brandy, Rocco and I went for a walk in our 'hood...
Four "vicious" pibbles -TWINS- meet on the street outside the one pair's house for the first time!
The only difference is that Lulu is a female blue-nose pit, and Danny Boy, their male red-nose pit.  Sweet sweet dogs, all four.  Oh, one other difference:  Rocco had to have his tail amputated from a condition known as "happy tail syndrome", where from wagging so hard and hitting hard objects like corners of walls, or coffee tables, it would bleed, and eventually cause an ulcer that wouldn't heal.

Anyhow I took a short video of them kissing each other and being the happy, lovin'-life type dogs that these sweeties are.  I have a feeling it will get hundreds of views when I put it on Instagram.

So this old dog (moi), learned some stuff this past few weeks too.  In actuality no, I am NOT old, I hate to even say but I guess I'm maybe middle-age, since I plan to live until around 100.  Anyhow, in February, I tried to do the Scrap-a-Palooza quilt, which was improv piecing with a red corner triangle.

The bottom row shows the playing around with layout ideas I had, with nothing grabbing me.  Until the third layout reminded me of the bottom of a heart.  Hmm, maybe a red square in the corner with two improv HSTs to round the edges might work?   You see what I got in the top picture.
So I decided to go with it.  After all, I did want to make a Valentine quilt this year.  See my Q1 FAL list.

Some of the hearts looked a tad gooby, so I pulled apart a few seams and inserted a small triangle to make them flow a little better.
Yep, that's better
Sewed two blocks together with sashing.
Kinda cute!
Bella, as always, supervised.

And once I took the photo, had to test it out.
Liking it, yep, yep, do the other two now.

Finished flimsy:
I'd mistakenly cut 3 extra 1.5" strips of Modern Background Essentials by Zen Chic for my Swoon Mini, because I couldn't find the safe place I'd put the first ones in.  I got to use some for the outside frame here. I like that!
That Kona Cotton patterned strip across the centre?  Um yeah, had it since 2001:
Beautiful fabric but it's got a kind of scotchguard feel to it; not much left now.
The flimsy sat on my design wall until earlier this week, when I posted about the Shadowed Star cushion.  Hello?!  This "Valentine quilt of some kind" is on my Q1 FAL list!!  I can quilt this up next, since I seem to be on a mini quilts roll this year.
Trying out a new design for me, one of Angela's fillers for negative space
I decided to do a different background fill behind each heart.  I have FMQ-ed for 20 years, but I am always game to learn a new motif, or try something new.  This fill turned out really well, and I just drew it once on a paper and then went for it.  Improv is a also a new technique I've been mucking around a bit with this past little while.
Two hearts quilted down; see how the other two poof up?  No worries; they did smoosh down just as nicely as the first two did.
Very pleased with the new-to-me 'Signature design' of Angela's.  I was also very pleased with how square this mini stayed.

Added Susie's Magic Binding.  This is another new trick for this girl, second quilt I've done it on, and I just love it.  I learned of it thanks to my friend Tish.  I used the rest of the inadvertently extra cut 1.5" Zen Chic strips and cut one more, and then used up almost all of my Dear Stella Chevrons pink and white fabric for the flange.
I call it Crazy Hearts

There was a bit of a ripple across the bottom, so I dampened the quilt and blocked it on my sewing room carpet overnight.  Do you see the pink dragonfly patch? I FMQ-ed over it in the same magenta thread I used for the hearts.  The dragonfly comes from labels fabric.  These flitted around between the labels, which have all been used up now.
The back - I like how the pink hearts show up
The label, which had its written information all but obliterated with the pebbling I did.  I went over it though.
I forgot to put two triangles in each of the top corners for a dowel to go through, so it is getting hung using Right Sides Together's Lazy Ass method.
Very close to the Swoon Mini in size
These two quilts both feature the Zen Chic Modern Background Essentials fabric, and that fabulous binding.  Both are heavily quilted.
Trying to get a bit of an angle to show the fabulous texture you get from all this quilting
I'm happy that I have another finish on my list.  I have not done very well this quarter in that regard.  I am most happy that I am wholeheartedly committed to lifelong learning, and that you definitely can teach this 'old dog' new tricks.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern:  original design, inspired by Scrap-a-Palooza
Size: 19" square
Fabric: stash scraps
Batting: Pellon Nature's Touch 100% cotton
Quilted: on my Bernina
Threads: pieced with Gütermann; quilted with Essentials 50 wt 20869 white and 21241 Magenta

If you would like to learn some of these and many more fabulous FMQ techniques, then you might want to check out Craftsy's classes.   I learned so much in Angela Walters' Machine Quilting Negative Space, and her Small Changes, Big Variety classes.  Her Free-Motion Quilting with Feathers class is well worth snagging at this price too.  I reviewed the latter two of those in this post.

Why you might want to consider taking a class if you never have:  I have both of Angela Walters' Quilting books, and the designs you see in both these minis can be found in her books.  However!  I find that SEEING her execute the designs on either a longarm or a domestic really helps me to see how the design is executed.  I also love the fact that I can watch her do this over and over either using the 30-second repeat feature, or I can go back to a design maybe 6 months after I bought and watched the class to review it.  There are many more reasons why I love Craftsy classes, and I go into them in the review post if you are interested, or just email me if you have specific questions.

The newest class I am super-excited about that I just got is Christina Cameli's latest one, Wild Quilting.  It reminds me of Karlee Porter's Grafitti Quilting and the Graffiti quilt I did last summer.  I cannot WAIT to play around with Christina's designs and learn more new tricks which I will share on the blog.

Happy Easter everyone!
Dapper boy
Linking up with:
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Quilting is More Fun Than Housework
Fort Worth Fabric Studio
A Quilted Passion
Cooking Up Quilts 
She Can Quilt for the FAL party!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Om. The Sound of the Universe

It is interesting how the Universe lines things up in one's life.  I have experienced this more and more over the past five years, perhaps because I have slowed down, and have become more attuned to it.  The first couple of weeks of March have shown me the beauty of the colour orange, a colour I previously was rather 'meh' about.
Sunset at Venice Beach FL March 11
 That very morning on my walk with Rocco...
I can't even...
No clue what those wildflowers are, but... Yellow.  OrangeFuchsiaRed-orange. On a bed of green.  Sumptuous.

The next day, March 12, I started my second mini swap, one I hadn't even known I was in until I received this surprise package on March 5.
from Preeti, with love
She made me a mini!!!  Look how the top three bars of colour match the card.  Notice the oranges.  Can you smell that Mysore Sandalwood soap from India?  I was transported on first sniff.

Me?  I love blues, and lately all the hues of aqua. The night that I received Preeti's mini and goodies (she knows that I have become quite the fan of Essential threads from Connecting Threads) we went to the Show 'n Shine in Englewood, something I'd mentioned when I wrote the review post for Craftsy's Three-Quarter Patch tote.  Said tote is a wild and exotic mix of orange and fuchsia fabrics. Kaffe Fassett.  I made that tote March 3 and 4.  Are you picking up what I'm laying down here?

Back to March 5 evening:
What a beauty.  Englewood Show 'n Shine, the one and only photo I took. Wonder why.

So back to March 12, when I started this mini:
Seeing a pattern here?
That little baby finishes at 2".  Stars are my favourite block, so I thought I would make a star quilt for Preeti, using leftovers from the Three-Quarter Tote.  I know she loves Kaffe Fassett fabrics and I know now, but I didn't know then, that she loves the colour orange.  To quote her, "It is the colour of sunshine and happiness, bright flowers, sweet drinks and juicy fruits. It is festive and auspicious."

When I finished this first test block, I knew I had to make a second, better one, as it was not quite square.
See how the bottom (first) one is slightly too big? The problem was in the centre, maybe 1/16" off in each of the two seams
Besides, do you see the "S" in the bottom block?  The hint of a green mandala in the top block?  Clearly one is mine, the other Preeti's.

Decided to improv this, not knowing where exactly I was headed.  Improv is not my strong point, and out of my comfort zone, but I knew Preeti would apprieciate it as she often works this way with spectacular results.  See her Sun City quilt.  The mini she made me is leftovers from that mini!
Round 1 and 2

Round 3 and testing out Round 4
I was liking it.  I still had no idea really where it was headed.  You won't either as I forgot to take a picture of the finished flimsy.  It was at this point that I started to think of maybe offsetting the star.  I did Round 4 and added a solid round 5.

went for a walk with Rocco.  I often get into quite the meditative state on our walks; it's very Zen.  The idea to make it round planted itself in my mind.  The idea to quilt the Sanskrit 'om' symbol had also evolved just prior to this.  'Om' is the sound the universe makes.  Everything vibrates with energy; we know that. That energy has this sound.  Making the entire quilt round was right.  Got home, layered the mini.  Looked for the 'om' Sanskrit symbol photo that I saved from when I did my yoga mat bag:
Found it in my Photos, clicked it, I thought, but no, I'd inadvertently deleted it! NO!!! Google Images to the rescue. Found this, which I liked even better than the one for my mat bag, and because we didn't bring down our printer this year, I put a piece of plain newsprint gently against the computer screen, and traced it lightly.  Not big enough.

I'm no artist.  HOWEVER, I can do a reasonable drawing of an image if I have something I can copy.  So I did, and then began the process of using my glass patio door as a lightbox to trace it, in reverse, onto the backing fabric.  It took 3 tries to get it right.  Layered the sandwich once again, basted and got to stitching from the backing, which, of course, is orange.  "Rock Solid" by Moda, leftover from Aidan's quilt, Radiance.

Oh yes, Miss Bella is coaching, as per usual
I used Sulky Holoshimmer metallic threads in fuchsia and orange on the back because I wanted that om symbol to shine!  Sulky rayons in matching pink and orange were in the bobbin.  This combination stitched out fabulously.
All done.
Used my walking foot for the pointy rays and FMQ-ed everything else; didn't have the heart to crop Rocco's supportive presence from this photo.
Turned it over, hoping I had, in fact got it centred how I wanted.  The bloggers in last summer's New Bloggers Hop will recognize the two solids.
The 'om' motif is perfectly centred; the quilt itself is purposely offset.  Unique.  A different approach. More symbols.

Big breath... this part was so scary... I used a sandwich plate to trace the circular shape.  Who needs fancy templates?
Like a wood carving evolving from the log, this little mini was breaking out of its square shell.  Binding.  This black with purple polka dots was also left over from the tote.  Did I have enough to do it on the bias as was required?  Yes.
I sewed it to the back of the quilt, maybe a third of the way around, pinned it beforehand, leaving tails.  Then I finished off the binding as I do a regular quilt, with a 45-degree mitre, overlapping the two ends by just a tickle less than the width of the binding, which was 1.25", I believe.  This ensures a snug fit.  Unpinned several inches back so I had lots to work with, sewed the ends, checked to ensure it fit before trimming the ends. It did.
Turned it to the front, pressed under the raw edge 1/4" and edge-stitched it down.
I was really pleased, despite some of the rays' points being cut off by the binding.
Another tale of two minis

Of course, I had to photograph it in the sunshine on the fence (which is not MacGyver's stain job, just so you know; he is MUCH more persnickety).
I fought the wind...and I WON!  Eventually.

Trying to show that elusive metallic shimmery thread
Quilt Stats:
Pattern:  original design
Size: 8" diameter
Fabric: stash scraps
Batting: Pellon Nature's Touch 100% cotton
Quilted: on my Bernina
Threads: pieced with Gütermann; quilted with Sulky Holoshimmer metallic145-6054 and 145-6011, Sulky rayon 40 wt 1109 and 1168 and Essentials 50 wt 21241 Magenta

So now with a mini and a mini-mini under my belt, I can no longer be considered a swap virgin. ;-)

Here is the back of my mini from Preeti.  Clearly, she also knows how much I have always loved interesting and beautiful backings.
rich maroons, greens, sand and gold
As a kid I spent hours with our wooden mosaics, loved making patterns and designs. This reminds me of those mosaics, and of stained glass, and of exotic places, rich colours, pungent scents.  A perfect backing. I had hoped the sun would catch and show off the glints of gold in this beautiful fabric.  It does, but it doesn't do the shimmer justice.

One last shot against azure skies and palm trees for Preeti, who went to college right here in Florida, which is the original reason I wanted orange on the back, as a nod to Florida oranges, the Gators, and all things auspicious, such as our friendship.
Linking up with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social.