Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Wolf Quilt

Hmm remember how I said that I should have started this blog much earlier, so I could post finished projects? This is one of those "catch up" posts --- only fair to give this quilt its due, since I finished it only a few days before starting to blog.

This was inspired by the Deer Quilt I was making at the time --- my boyfriends father is a deer admirer. It so happens that Cranston makes a similar panel in their wildlife collection with wolves --- and that my boyfriends mother is a wolf admirer. Since they have separate bedrooms due to a snoring issue, I have always intended to make them each a bed quilt. My man helped me search high and low for this elusive fabric, so that his parents could have this matching set.

When I went to the drawing board I decided to alternate the panels with a basic bear paw block .. and for the purpose of this quilt I of course mentally renamed it "wolf paw". And then the fun began!

Left: Here we are with the top laid out on my basting floor a.k.a basement floor, ready to get on our hands and knees and pin pin pin
Right: Remember Helpful Cat? He made several star appearances during the making of this quilt. OF COURSE I couldn't have done it without him ...
And (above) the finished product! My bed seems to be the 'model' for all my quilts, partly because it is the best lit area to take pictures of quilts ... but I was stunned by how good this quilt looked on my bed! I gave it to his mother right away, so I couldn't get any more attached to it :D

My favorite part of the whole quilt? The quilting designs in the wolf paw blocks!

Monday, April 26, 2010

What I accomplished this weekend

1) Sketched the layout template for my Amish Rose project & cut all the dark green shapes I will need.
2) Cut my backing blocks for my Dresdens AND my Amish Roses.
3) Traced and cut all my circles for the Dresden block centers.
4) Stitched all the Dresden Plates to their blocks!

Right now I am just working on getting the centers appliqued to the blocks .. and then I will work on the appliqued sashing to turn it into a "Dresden Garden!"

Tomorrow should include a lovely trip to the fabric store! Hooray!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Colour at last - Dresden Style

I have recently been whining about being driven to complete a Fall-themed quilt --- the Deer in their rust and gold and brown tones. It is harder than you think to finish when there are colourful flowers blooming all around, and glorious bright fabric waiting to be used! My treat for slogging through the whole quilt without breaking down and starting another project?


Awhile ago I browsed and browsed pictures of Dresden plates & fans, and I was disappointed to see so few done in simple jewel tones and brights. I saw a lot of them in eye searing, fussy, busy "grandma" prints ... like someone had pieced them from a collection of cloth they inherited from crazy great aunt Ester and they didn't care what happened to them because they still smelled like mothballs and old TV guides. How sad for the poor Dresden plate ...

Don't get me wrong, I did see some truly lovely quilts from this traditional block. But I thought it would increase my quilting karma a few notches if I addressed the poor injustice of the block rarely being done in brights that DON'T trigger an epileptic seizure. 

I alternated my colours with creamy white to balance it all out and make it a little different. I never saw that style in all the ones I browsed, so it satisfied my desire to do things a little differently (off center?)
Here are some samples of what I whipped up

Each one is a little different, bright and scrappy and gorgeous! It will be a queen sized quilt when finished --- but I need more cream fabric to finish the last 6 plates I need. And something pretty for the back of the block, since I am still on the fence about what to use. I am thinking a white tone on tone floral, or a faded green pastel ... And I'm still musing on how to finish the centers. And the border ...

But at least I got to shift into spring colours!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fabric Prayer --- doing it right!

"Please bow your heads in a moment of silence, that we may send thanks to the Quilting Goddess for her gift of this batik fabric we are about to cut. May she also keep our blades and scissors sharp, our cuts straight, our fingers nimble and our colours bright. Amen!"

~My Cat Ozzy

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

No more Deer Quilt!!! .. Oh, Wait

After all those nasty little difficulties popped up (for no reason!) during the making of this quilt, oh man was I glad to have it finished! Is it bad blogging form to admit that I was somewhat disappointed in myself? I think the finished product did come out lovely, but that I am capable of a much much better job. Oh, the things I learned ...

Above: Bindings, borders, Bambi, Oh my!

Left: The finished quilt, and my two "helpers" attempting to hold it out straight in the wind so it doesn't look wrinkled.

Bottom: A peek at the lovely luscious feathers twisting through the border.

And the most exciting news of all? It looks like this silly project that has caused me so much anguish is a hit with friends and family! In fact I have already been asked if I can make another one to sell & be given as a birthday gift .. hooray! My first quilt for profit / commission!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spring adventures

I finally got all that nasty thread picking done last night on the deer quilt, so I thought having a day out at a friends house in the country would be a great reward. Claire played inside and out, we soaked up some sunshine, and I nipped out into the garden to take a few pictures of the tulips & daffodils!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Next project?

I've been looking for a quilt pattern to make for a friend: something flowery, maybe with hearts, simple country charming style... in short, AMISH. I'm feeling ready to tackle some applique, and then some intricate lines of feathers and whatnot ... and it is a suitably spring project!!

Oh yeah .. something like this will do nicely!

Pick pick pick ...

So all that dense intricate TINY quilting on my 3 deer panels? I've been picking it out. It was too much thread, the wrong colour, in the wrong project. *sigh* If I hadn't started picking it out,  I would probably be done the whole quilt by now. But that is the way the cookie crumbles, when you change your mind halfway (an exaggeration) through a project! Needless to say I have spent a great deal of time with my nose in my stitches and I have resolved to better tune my tension and also to make my stitching more even.

And to pick up all the little wisps of broken thread from my picking frenzy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Not working as intended ..

The deer quilt --- is giving me a headache. I can't decide if what I am doing in terms of quilting and thread colour is going to come out looking stunning -- or a miserable mishmash of FMQ gone overboard and busy panels made even busier.

I like the starburst idea, I like the trapunto effect of the deer, I love doing the intricate tiny stitching ... but aaaaaahhhhhhhhh what am I doing? Am I creating a masterpiece, or a lot of stitch ripping work to do?

Sadly it seems that when I have these feelings, I'm right. So the niggling feeling that this is going to look horrible needs to be solved.

Continue with white thread (tan in the sky sections)
Use dark brown thread (leaning in this direction)
Run from this project screaming that it can't be done
Unpick everything (3 fully finished 14 inch blocks + 17 starbursts) and come up with a new idea.

This has just not been a good week for sewing.

Workspace & The Cat

For 5 years now I have been owned by a male Siamese cat named Ozzy. For those of you who are not animal lovers, or who have not experienced that special bond I call "animal soul mate" ... just skip to the pictures.

Ozzy is my best buddy, my snuggler, my Quilt Inspector, my constant companion. Siamese cats do tend to get a bad rap (remember those two nasty cats in Lady & The Tramp??) but I have to say it is completely undeserved. They are intelligent, loving, loyal, and very very curious (not to mention beautiful IMNSHO). In a lot of ways they are like a dog --- but with those silly quirks that are included in all feline nature.

Like, wanting to be the recipient of your undivided attention --- when they feel like it. Wanting to be underfoot, or "on project". They like to frisk and play with fabric you would rather they never touch ... and sometimes they get the dog involved. They are also imbued with a 6th sense for seeking out the position that is 1) the warmest 2) most comfortable 3) most inconvenient for their human pets.

It is not too often that I manage to take a quilt picture he is NOT in, or sit at my sewing table without having him sneak into a position of comfort.

To illustrate:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

White Thread Wars

Is it so wrong to want to use a different colour thread?!


I started adding my designs inside the starburst rays of my deer panel quilt last night, in a wonderful tan / gold thread I thought matched pretty well. TOO WELL. You can't see 3/4 of the designs, and the part that shows up brilliantly is a portion of the ray that crosses the sky. When you look at the block, it completely unbalances the eye -- because you get the hint of the starburst action, but you can see nothing in the lower part of the panel. Drats. And other more inappropriate language. What a silly beginners mistake for me to have made.

So I am going to have to abandon my lovely over-matched thread and go back to white. White white white. I have used white in the last 5 quilts I have done! I want to stamp my feet and demand a different colour but the quilting Goddess has made her proclamation: you must use white thread for these deer!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Need to make up for lost time

I should have started posting my quilting projects months ago! Then I could have a lovely little blog / quilting diary like the thousands and thousands it seems already exist. But it would be mine, my own, my preciousssssss...

Like this sweet little child, for example. Mine mine mine all mine! She is sticking her tongue out at me, but I love her to pieces just the same. And she will be 2 years old tomorrow --- I just can't believe it! Oh, the terrible twos ... what shall I do?! Probably bribe her with "pretties" like the new quilt I finished last week.

Although I made several quilt tops while she was still hanging out in my tummy, this was the first project I made especially for her (AND managed to give to her without her Daddy swiping it for his own). I had a few yards of this Cranston VIP print laying around and figured now was a good time to introduce her to the bright and cheerful world of butterflies.

So I ironed, folded, snipped & 1/4 inch seamed away and this is what emerged from the cocoon of my sewing corner. To my torment I kept the quilting very simple: I outlined the butterflies in white thread. I splurged and attached the double fold binding with a heirloom stitch of pretty little leaves, and also played around with my first quilt labels in the shape of little envelopes. I loved Pirate's nifty SWAK (sealed with a kiss) based instructions, but I was thinking something much smaller. So I started with a backing & lining sandwich 6 1/2 by 4 inches, added a ribbon stitched to the middle of the backing, and got a wee business card sized envelope to stitch to the back of the butterfly quilt.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A worthy first post.

I have been trying to think of one, but I really can't. Anything I go over in my head sounds too grandiose, or too simple, or too much like plagiarism -- because I have of course seen Julie & Julia (wasn't Meryl Streep fantastic?) And I have seen Forrest Gump. I've read Anne Frank's diary. Interesting people, in interesting times, doing interesting things. I will not claim any of those things. I'm a housewife who loves photography, quilting, reading, animals, and the Great Lakes. I cannot be anything but what I am, because sometimes that is hard enough.

And here on the internet my thoughts are allowed out of my head. Fictional audience beware!

There will be pictures --- oh, will there be pictures! When I get around to it ...

Right now, I just want a nap!