Finishing the quilt from “you know where”!!

If you have been reading this blog for the last little bit, you have heard the saga of the Christmas pineapple quilt. To make a long story short…..

  • I kept changing my mind about how to make it
  • It doesn’t have a “hook” and I think that it is pretty boring
  • I used my new Wool Pressing mat and ended up being allergic to it. Consequently, I was also allergic to the quilt top!!

Continuing on, I sent it to a friend to quilt and she had problems with it too. First of all, she had tension issues and had to take out a lot of quilting. THEN, she wasn’t happy with the backtracking on the pantograph and wanted to re-do the ENTIRE thing. I said ABSOLUTELY not!! It was at this point that Michael gave it the name of the Quilt from “you know where”!!

So, the goal for today was to get it trimmed and get the binding put on, and I DID IT!!

I started out by making yards and yards of binding, using lots of strips of Christmas fabrics……

Once the binding was made and ready to attach…..

….it was time to square up the top. I had planned to use the laser square but realized that there wasn’t any border on the edge so basically I just “squared” it up based on the edge of the piecing. It may not be exactly square, but it will be finished!!!

As I was sewing all of these bits and pieces together to make the binding, I kept thinking of all of the joins that I would have to miss at the corners. And, sure enough, it was the very first corner that I came to…..

ARGH!!!! I cut some of the strip off and reattached the rest of the binding and off I went again!!

In case you haven’t figured this out, I was really ready to get the quilt finished and was putting the pedal down when I was sewing the long stretches, and then…..

Of course I ran out of bobbin thread…..about half of a side back!!! Will I NEVER finish this quilt!!!

As I finished sewing the first pass on the binding, I realized that I don’t know what color of thread to use when I sew the binding on the top. I normally try to use something that matches so that the stitching doesn’t show but, since I had used lots of different fabrics, that wasn’t possible. Finally, I noticed that the quilting had been done with a creamy gold thread so I used that for the binding. It worked well and, before I knew it, I had finished the quilt.

It immediately went into the washing machine to get rid of all of the things that I was allergic to and then off to be displayed on the bed…..

It will be a great addition to our Christmas decorations and, most importantly, I can put it in the FINISHED column!!!

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It’s Pesto Time

One of my favorite parts of summer is getting to use all of the fresh herbs that we have growing in our herb bed but my favorite of all is making fresh Pesto. Michael and I both LOVE to eat it and this year has provided a bumper crop of Basil so today we spent a few hours making SEVENTEEN batches of Pesto to freeze for later dates.

This year we planted 5 Basil plants….3 from our local Lowe’s and 2 special ones from a nearby nursery. It has proven to be a good mix as the special ones don’t have as much aroma but definitely put on more leaves. When we mix the two it makes a perfect blend.

Here is the before and after of the bushes……

I felt a bit like Santa walking in with my big bundle of basil……

…… try saying that three times over!!

After washing and spinning the leaves……

…..Michael takes over with the preparation. The recipe is simple…..Basil, Garlic, Salt, Pepper, Pine Nuts and Olive Oil…..

and he has the technique perfected…..

We mix all of the batches together at the end…..

…..and then split them into meal-size portions…..

It was a good result from a few hours of work…..

PESTO ANYONE?????

That Niggly Voice…..

You know how you are sewing along and something just doesn’t feel right? But you ignore the feeling and keep on working!!! That is what happened to me this week.

I had been busy with work deadlines the past two weeks so hadn’t found much time to be progressing with my Color Wheel quilt, so I started trying to do 15 or 20 minutes each morning. One of those mornings I was working along and ended up having to take a couple of stitching lines out and irreparably tore the foundation paper so I added more paper to the back and kept on going.

But as I would sew off of the edge, I was having to sew over lots of edges that I hadn’t had to do before. I was excited to be getting something done so decided that it was okay and just kept going……WRONG!!!

So…..I finished up the blue side and was happy with how it looked…..

On Saturday I started working on the green side and, for some reason, had a look at the finished blue section. The first thing that I realized was that I had sewn the sections together in the wrong order which is why there isn’t a lot of definition between the colors.

Then I had another look at it and realized that the slant of the strips was not correct in one particular area…..

Gee I wish that I had listened to my inner voice!!!!

So, 1 hour later I had made the needed corrections and was ready to move forward with the green side.

It also looks so much better now because the colors actually flow from one color to another!!

The moral of this story……

….and LISTEN to yourself!!!!

Friday Evening Block Party

Several years ago we had a guild speaker who talked about the history of Barn Quilts……

As often happens, I was madly in love with them and started immediately planning one to go on my front porch (in lieu of a barn). I researched it online, bought paint and wood and planned my 48 inch design. Then I started trying to figure out how to mark the design, how to attach it to the brick on my house and many other how to’s……

At this point I was paralyzed into inactivity and, as I tried to work out of my paralysis, the wood started to warp……argh!!!! The project died there.

So, a few weeks ago one of my friends posted on Facebook about signing up for a Barn Quilt class at a local-ish Bed and Breakfast. I contacted my friend Linda and off we went!!!

The class was held at The Firefly at Madison (http://www.fireflymadison.com/public_html/), an “Artistic Country Retreat”……. “The Firefly at Madison is a breath of fresh air. A petite French Country estate, complete with lavender, roses and herbs, chickens and ducks (and fresh healthy eggs!) and a peaceful setting just outside lovely small town Madison, Georgia. Ellie can offer you art and creative writing classes and workshops in her open, sunny, copper roofed studio or you can just relax on the charming brick patio or sunroom with a cup of fresh mint tea and listen to the tumbling water of the rocky falls.”

We arrived to find a beautiful setting for our class…..

We were given a 12 inch lightweight board to work with…..

….and started the first step by painting the background…..

Next we had to draw the quilt block in pencil, starting with marking dots at every intersecting line in our grid and then drawing in our design……

Probably the biggest hint of the night was to NOT draw in the actual grid lines, but just the lines that you are going to paint on!!

Then we started painting in the design….

Now, at this point, I did NOT shine. I have done very little painting and it was obvious that my “brushwork” was not up to par. The woman across from me really had it down pat…..

….as did others in the group…..

Evelyn
Linda

This was my end product…..

I am not super happy with this particular board, but I now know how to get started on one of my own….but I will probably use painter’s tape to mark out the designs rather than doing them freehand.

It was a fun and relaxing way to spend a Friday evening and I came away with a new skill…..what could be better!!!

Quilt redemption….or The Case of The Boring Bamboo!

Back in 2011, we spent several weeks in China and I found a type of Bamboo that sparked my creative juices. I came home and turned the spark into a quilt top that ended up being REALLY boring…..

To read more about the making of this top, check out the blog post from 2011…..https://francesquilts.com/2011/08/16/congratulations-mrs-arnold-its-a-boring-quilt/

So for years and years (8 to be exact), it has been on my UFO To-Do list and I have managed to ignore it!! But, since I am trying to make myself do new and different things, I figured that it was time to tackle the “boring bamboo”.

The first thing that I did was pull out my rotary cutter and CUT IT INTO STRIPS!!! Yes, it was a bit scary, but it felt good to actually be doing something with it!! I added a few colored strips ……

…..and IMMEDIATELY liked it better!!

But, I didn’t want to stop there!! When I was at the Houston quilt show, I purchased a starter set of Tsukiniko Inks….

…..and a couple of stencils, including this bamboo design…..

I was intrigued with the pouncers that I bought and found that they worked beautifully for inking the stencil…..

Next, I got one of the “Fantastix” brushes and dipped the tip in a brighter color of ink…….

and used it to add some highlights to the bamboo leaves…..

Okay….that worked fairly well……

So now I was ready to do it on the real fabric that I wanted to use. I had learned two things during the test. First, I needed to mask the edges of the stencil so that I didn’t end up with “overflow”, and secondly, I needed to tape the stencil to the fabric so that it didn’t slip around as I “pounced”. I ended up taking care of both of these issues at one time by simply taping all around the edge of the stencil……

I was pleased with the final print and ready to move on to the next step….adding the old, ugly strips. It was like working a weird jigsaw puzzle…..

. I started adding strips and ended up with a hodge-podge mess…..

So I backed up, ignored all of the outside bits and pieced the inside part that I did like…..†

…..and then continued on with the next set of borders…..

….and then finished it up with a new outside border…..

Even though I didn’t use ALL of the parts of the original quilt, I am pleased with this “new” bamboo quilt top….much happier than with the original. Now I just need to think about how to quilt it and then get it FINISHED and out of my UFO box!!!

Lessons learned

As I was posting the last blog about this quilt-in-progress, I realized that the background for the “squiggle” HAD to be black. Now maybe I will change my mind when I get over to the cooler colors but it sure looks good here…..

Then I got to playing on Electric Quilt (which I am NOT very good at) and came up with the idea of using gradations of black to white in the design as well. I am thinking something like this…..

….where the squiggle is on the black and the other designs (whatever they end up being) are on the gradations. As I lay awake thinking about it, I started to come up with other ways that the gradation could be achieved. Maybe with smaller strips of color, showing many more strata in the gradation or maybe with improvisational piecing where the colors slowly meld and move to the center or out to the edge. Who knows!!!

As I am working on my color extravaganza, I am definitely learning a lot about myself and my stash!! First of all, I LOVE MAGENTA colors and have WAY too many fabrics in that range.

Secondly, I have a different view of the names of some of these colors…..

For example, the “Purple” in the color wheel is what I would consider to be a pink and, in fact, most of those fabrics were in one of my “Pink” boxes, and the “Red-Violet” colors are what I would call Purple. I have also found “Violet” fabrics in the Blue boxes and Blue fabrics in the Purple boxes and “Pink fabrics in the Red box. I guess that it proves how much difference the surrounding fabric makes to how we “read” each color!!

Piecing for the weekend provided another 1/4 of the Color wheel finished and almost another season of “The Great British Baking Show” watched!! I did realize that I hadn’t proportioned the colors properly on this second side so I have ended up with a few more inches of “Red-Violet that I had originally planned. Hopefully it will not be too noticeable in the long run.

As I have moved from color to color, I have been pulling fabrics out of scrap drawers and fabric bins and I hadn’t really realized just how much of a mess I had created. But then this happened…..

…and I needed to get the painters tape to fix it, but where was the tape……

Fortunately it was found underneath a stack of fabrics but this has encouraged me to do a bit of cleaning up before I tackle the Blues and Greens of the color wheel.

Also, I had been using a “spacer” after every strip was sewn onto the foundation…..

This was fine and was certainly fast, but the more I sewed, the more it started to bug me. So, in good old “Bonnie Hunter” fashion, I pulled out my 1-1/2 inch squares and started sewing a light and dark square together with each pass……

YES, it takes more time and NO, I don’t have any idea what I will do with them, but it sure makes me feel good to see this little pile growing…..

I am thinking that, at some point, I will start sewing them into four-patches. Surely I will need a 4-inch four patch at sometime in my future!!!

Here is the finished product for the weekend……

The only problem is that as I finish out the on-point square, it sure makes the inside square look BIG. WHAT am I going to put there…..only time will tell!!!!! But in the meantime, I am going to keep coloring along!!

Crayon Box Quilting

One of my goals for this year is to put together some new talks that could be presented to guilds. When I was in the Quilt Judging class we spent quite a bit of time talking about colors and using a color wheel. This got me to thinking about using the color wheel as a jumping off point for a new presentation.

Several years ago we had purchased a book by Victoria Finlay called “Color….a Natural History of the Palette”…..

In it, she talks about the various colors, giving histories of how and where they were developed. It has been interesting to learn more in depth information, although some of it is a bit weird and sad!! For example, “Lead White”, was made by applying vinegar or another acid onto lead panels.   The corrosive action would leave a white deposit of lead carbonate.  This deposit was powdered and left to dry in the sun.  Unfortunately, Lead white was poisonous if swallowed and many early artists were affected.   It was even used in women’s makeup for many years and many died from lead poisoning.

But enough about White….this blog is about color!!

I started looking for a good color wheel to purchase and landed on “C&T PUBLISHING Notions Essential Color Wheel Companion”……

It is 12 inches in diameter which is a great size to work with!! On the outside, the colors are divided into 24 segments while the inner radii show the various tints and shades of those main colors.

Now…moving onto the quilt part of this blog…..

A few weeks ago I was reading a copy of McCalls Quilting Magazine and this quilt caught my eye……

I really liked the idea of making something that could use up a bunch of the scraps that I have been saving and also liked having some open spaces to add quilting texture to. As I thought further, I decided to make a color wheel quilt, forcing me to learn more about color by actually using it!!!

I made some changes to the pattern shown here, including making it much larger and also using bias binding to finish the edges of the strips.

I then delved into my “string” bin and began sorting the appropriate sized strings into color groups…..

…..that looks like a good start!!

Then I took the color wheel and began splitting the colors into sections, starting with the first 6 colors….Yellow thru Orange Red…..

The generous size of the color wheel became important when I started pulling fabrics from my fabric boxes. It was easy to slide the wheel down the folds of fabrics and look for ones that matched best…….

Before I started piecing each section, I lined strips of the color up on the design wall to see if it looked okay……

I quickly learned that I should NOT use the rotary cutter to trim up the edges on the pieced design…..it is TOO easy for it to slip on the many seams and actually cut into the piece…..yes, this came from a learning curve!!! Instead I used a super sharp pair of scissors to do the trimming, although I didn’t trim it all the way to the edge. I will do that just before I applique it onto the background.

After a day of sewing, I had completed a quarter of the colors and I love how it looks…..

….although I cant decide what color to use for the background…..

That is only ONE of the unknowns in this project,. Others include….

  • what am I going to put inside the on-point square…. more squiggly lines, circles, starbursts, applique flowers, etc.?
  • am I going to hand applique the bias tape on or do it by machine?
  • do I want to do a gradation background, or even alternate between blacks, greys and whites….or other colors?
  • what sort of quilting do I want to do?
  • what do I want to add to the outside triangles?

I truly enjoyed looking for the differences in colors and actually got to the point that I could distinguish Orange-Yellow from Yellow-Orange!!!

Anyway, it is off to a good start. It would actually be further along, but I started binge watching the “Great British Bake Off” and kept stopping to watch and enjoy!!!

I will leave you with this quote from Georgia O’Keefe…..

The “Bros” Quilts

A few months ago we found out that our good friends, Austin and Ruth were expecting TWIN boys!!! We were so excited for their news and, of course, my first thought was about quilts. I had made this quilt for their first child, Bo…..

….and I wanted to make something similar for the “Bros” that were to come.

I found this wonderful book and knew that I was on my way…..

First step was to make the paper pieced animal blocks, which I discussed in this blog post….. https://francesquilts.com/2019/05/27/paper-piecing-at-its-best/

Now to think about the rest of the quilt!!! I knew that I wanted to keep it in a similar vein to Bo’s quilt so there would be lots of strips. Ruth and I had talked about using greys and reds and I came across a fabric set that I had bought for another potential project (that never materialized) and I was off!!

I used the 1/4 inch foot on my machine and it made sewing the strips SOOO much faster and easier AND more accurate!!….

And, staying in the vein of “upping my game”, I spent a lot of time ironing each strip, spraying it with Magic Sizing and stretching it to the side as I was pressing it to ensure that the rows stayed straight…..

Before long the quilt tops were complete…..

I wanted to use these quilts for additional FMQ practice so I decided to work on a bunch of different designs, each following one of the strips. I did a number of them using various rulers….

….and was pretty happy with the results. I especially liked this ruler…..

….and really liked the quilted design that came from it…..

I did have to use masking tape on the ruler to ensure that I kept the design going down the middle of the strip. It was NOT intuitive!!

I also found that, if I was using an undulating pattern, it was important to only stop and reposition the ruler when I was at one of the “hooks”…..

If I repositioned anywhere else on the quilting line it distorted the design and I lost the symmetry of the quilt line. This is something that I probably should have thought about before now, but it took having to re-do it a couple of times to get it fully into my mind!!

I enjoyed trying different patterns and designs and the long strips were perfect for practicing. Here is what some of the quilting looked like on the back…..

When I finished with the quilting, I used the Laser Square and my 16 inch ruler to make sure that the sides were completely straight and the corners at 90 degree angles…..

I chose to put the binding on by machine, going very slowly and working on the corners very carefully. I am constantly reminded that the last judge REALLY didn’t like my corners and I am trying to do better with them!!!

At last, they were finished and I am super happy with how they came out…..

Once I had heard that there were twin boys I started calling them “Bo and the Bro’s”…..I know it sounds like a singing group!!! And sweet Bo cant say my name, Frances…..so he calls me “Fre-Fre”….it is heart melting!!!! When I put these two facts together, the name for the quilts came easily, as did the signature line on the label…..

It was so much fun to work on these two quilts and think of the fun times that the boys will have on them…..here’s to lots of spit-up, poop, ice cream cone drips and hopefully cuddling under them for nap times!!!

This blog is linked to “Favorite Finish” at Meadow Mist Designs……..

Impromptu Traveling…..

This past week, Michael and I had to make an unplanned trip to Texas to clean out his Mother’s house and get it ready to sell.

While it was sad to be going thru 60+ years of her life in that home, it was enjoyable to learn a few new things…..

…..like the fact that Michael was named a “Favorite” in his 4th grade class…..

He is so cute in his dark suit and super white socks!!! I also loved this photo of him…..

It was also fun to find his Mom (Esther’s) pages and pages of shorthand. Apparently when she was doing her Bible Studies, she would revert to the form of writing that she had used for MANY years when she was a secretary at a local bank…..

We found handmade horse saddlebags that Michael and his brother had made from green canvas……

Maybe this was the impetus for his current leatherwork…..

I came home with a few favorite items that I am looking forward to decorating with…..

I found a lap quilt that I made for Esther many years ago. Unfortunately I didn’t put a label on it (shame on me!!!) so I dont know when it was made…..

We spent a little over 20 hours working thru the 4 bedroom house and ended up with 66 boxes (mostly filled with the 700 books that we moved off of the shelves and the 100+ family photos sitting in frames around the house), 10 large garbage bags filled with bedding and clothes, and a dumpster FULL of unusable items.

We enjoyed our favorite Texas foods…..Tex-Mex, BBQ Brisket and good old Whataburger…..

We had one exciting event……

And yes, that is a small tornado!!! We watched it for about 5 minutes as it wandered around in the field and then dissipated. The winds were amazing!!

On the last day, I drove past the house that I grew up in and was excited to see that it looked great. Even more exciting was the kids swing hanging in the tree!!! I hope that they have as much fun in that front yard as I did!!!

It was good to get home again yesterday and get back to a bit of normal life…..and hopefully some creating soon!!!

When you see a tree….. Part 1

Do you have a thinking place? A place where you can go to clear your mind and let problems solve themselves. For me, it is my shower!!! While soaking under the warm spray of water I have solved accounting problems, house repair problems, quilting problems and have had more inspirations than I want to admit. My water bill would probably be a lot less if my thinking closet was somewhere else!!!

My latest epiphany relates to a guild challenge that is due at our meeting next Tuesday…. less than a week away!!! The challenge is “When You See a Tree” and, as usual, I had way too many ideas of what I would like to do. Many times the real challenge for me is to narrow it down to just ONE choice and often that narrowing takes place at the last minute!! This particular morning, I kept coming back to the idea that a tree is a place of refuge and the image that formed was a tree branch with a bird’s nest in it.

I was pretty sure that I wanted to use some three dimensional leaves and other accents so I wanted to do something different with the tree bark as well. I have seen tree trunks that were made with cheesecloth and thought that it might be fun to try it myself. The first problem was that I needed cheesecloth!!! After a walk thru my local grocery store I finally asked the customer service person and was told that I could find it in the cleaning section where the rubber gloves are!! Not exactly where I would have put it, but at least I left the store with it in hand!!!

I began by wetting the cloth and loosely folding it in a plastic box. I dribbled three colors of paint onto the fabric…..

…..and then pressed the color through out the cheesecloth. When I squeezed out the excess paint, I grabbed another piece of fabric and used it to sop up the beautiful brown leftover paint…..

The two dyed pieces were carried down to the driveway for a (hopefully) quick drying session.

While I waited for the fabric to dry, I cleaned and put away all of the paint and supplies. Now my husband, when he reads this, will fall into a dead faint because I am SELDOM known to pick up after myself when I am in “creative mode”.

Of course the Georgia sun and heat, which has been in overdrive in the last 3 weeks, was nowhere to be found. The first 10 minutes of “drying time” produced no great difference in the fabric, so I grabbed my hair dryer and started adding some heat of my own.

That did the trick and I was quickly back in my studio trying to figure out the next step. I felt that the cheesecloth needed something else added to it so I pulled out my felting tools and started adding bits of wool roving to the cheesecloth base……

After seeing that it was working well, I switched over to my felting machine which hasn’t been used in YEARS!!!

And, in a few short minutes, I had a wonderful piece of fabric to turn into a tree trunk…..

As I laid it out, I was super pleased with the result…..

Next I picked a background fabric and started thinking about how to add leaves to the piece. I knew that for perspective some of the leaves needed to be very small and fairly dark in color. After thinking about fusing leaves on I had the idea that stamping them would be easier!! I cut a leaf shape out of foam….

….and started stamping on a scrap of fabric, following lines that I had drawn in first. I was thrilled with the results…..

I drew in some tree branches with a Pigma ink pen and then stitched over some of them…..

I was extremely happy with how it looked after I placed the felted branches over the top…..

Now it is time to add the leaves that are in front of the branches and I guess that I need to insert the bird nest at some point!!!

More to come……