Tag Archives: quilting

John Wayne Always Got The Best One-Liners

It seems forever since I did anything besides paddle around in the deep end of my genealogy pool.  Some people may think that I’m ruthlessly single-minded at times, and that could be a good thing if we were faced with something along the lines of a zombie apocalypse.  But as of this moment in time, in my particular version of reality, that’s not even a blip on the radar.  I do try to journal about things that interest me, and hopefully others as well, but lately I’ve been fully immersed in the whole Ghosts of Family Past thing – fairly heady stuff.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMoving along… Stitchin’ Witches Mystery Quilt-Along is complete and I hope she leads another one soon.  The big reveal with assembly and border instructions hit my inbox last month, so I shifted into D (after spending a couple of late winter months in N).  I was already two blocks behind in the project – plus, I’d never gotten around to finishing the signature block.  For those that are interested in how I completed the siggy block, I let my heart make the decision.  I embroidered it by hand, and I’m mightily glad that I did.

Kaye England Civil War Legacy Quilt The Stitching Witches Quilt AlongAs for borders… since I was working strictly out of my scrap bin I didn’t have the option of a whole cloth border. So I asked myself what kind of pieced border could I make for a quilt made almost entirely of half-square triangles.  The answer was obvious – more half-square triangles, of course.  I had a few ‘reject’ HSTs left over, and with the aid of the Magic 8 method, the remaining 240-plus went quickly.  I found an alternate method – after the fact, of course – to make 4 perfect HSTs at a time in a Craftsy video.

The pattern for this quilt, minus the HST borders, is Kaye England’s Civil War Legacy.  Overall, I’m very pleased with the way the quilt top turned out, especially since I managed to hold myself to the absolute bare minimum as far as tweaking or modifying blocks.  That’s a very hard impulse for me to control, and in most cases I never-ever try to rein in those “how would it look if” thoughts that go blasting through my brain.  For this one, single, quilt, I managed to follow most of the instructions (yay!).

Finished dimensions: app. 60″ x 78″ (152cm x 198cm).

civilwarlegacy

 

Nothing Up My Sleeve… Presto!

butterscotch yellowInterview With A Quilter: by James D. Snoope

I spent the last few miles of my journey checking the rearview mirror, amazed at the rooster tail of red dust that was kicked up in the wake of my rental car.  When not looking back at where I’d been, I focused my attention on where I was going and keeping the small economy car from rattling itself off the washboard road.

I checked my watch, I was still a few minutes early for my appointment.  I’d fought my new boss for this assignment, a much sought after interview with the semi-reclusive quilter, Savannah Threadwell – such an article would be considered a coup in the world of quilt journalism.

A new, leather bound notebook lay open on the seat next to me, a present from my parents after I landed this job, my first real job after college.  I stole a quick glance at the the scribbled driving instructions, nearly missing the last turn in the process.  Gripping the wheel, I made a wide, sliding curve onto the gravel driveway of a rambling red brick house, braking hard to avoid the farm equipment parked there.  The trailing dust cloud caught and enveloped the car – a small blessing, I thought, that I wouldn’t have to see the business end of a bale mover connect with the front end of my car.  It really was a shame that I had declined the extra rental insurance.

In the next moment I realized that the car had not only stopped but stalled, the only sound I heard was the ticking of the engine as it cooled.  When the dust settled, I could see that I had avoided both financial disaster and a K.O. to my budding career.  In my notebook was a photograph that had been procured by our research department and I’d studied it well in preparation for today.  The snapshot had been taken quite a few years before, but there was no doubt in my mind that the woman standing beside the bale mover was Ms. Threadwell herself.

A tall woman.  Her once dark brown hair was worn shorter now, and more than lightly touched with silver.  She was flanked protectively by two yellow-orange dogs.  If they had been cats, the color of their fur would be described as marmalade, but I knew by looking at their hard and alert eyes that no one could ever mistake them for jam sweet doggies.

As I took in the tableau, I noticed that Ms. Threadwell had accessorized carefully for today’s meeting, a shotgun hung easily across her left arm.  With justifiable caution, I climbed out of the rental car and introduced myself, adding, “I’d be wary of casual strangers,too, if I lived as far out in the country as you.”

Savannah Threadwell’s reply didn’t warm me.  She said it quietly, and the words hung heavily in the air before she turned to lead me into her home to begin the interview.  “Strangers don’t scare me.  Zombies do.”

James:  Ms. Threadwell… may I call you Savannah?  I’ve read a lot of stories about the project that you, and many other quilters around the world are working on, a quilt designed by Bonnie Hunter called Celtic Solstice.  I’d like to question you more closely on that subject, but before we begin, could you shed some light on one thing for me?  Did you really say zombies?

Savannah:  Would you like some coffee, Jimmie?  I…

James:  Uh, the name is James.  But maybe you’d be more comfortable calling me Jim.  And thanks, I could use a cup.  Black, please.

Savannah:  Oh, right.  As I started to explain, I don’t worry about strangers so much as I do zombies, Jimmie.  As a point of reference for your readers, I read, and books always make a strong appearance as Christmas gifts.  While what interests me is such a mixed bag – everything from hardboiled detective novels to hard-core science fiction – my one constant is to have a good horror story in the pile.  It really starts the new year off with a bang.  You may not know this, Jimmie, but in the horror market, vampires are un-dead meat, so to speak – zombies are the monsters of choice right now.  So to answer your question, Jimmie, when one has a lively imagination, one must be aware of strangers wandering onto one’s property.  Have one of those peanut butter cookies, Jimmie.

James:  I thought we’d settled on Jim?  Are you trying to say that these books frighten you into paranoid, er, delusions?

Savannah:  Oh no, not paranoid.  Let’s just call it a heightened state of awareness.  Banana bread, Jimmie?

James:  [blink] Okay.  So, regarding your quiltingI’ve heard that Bonnie Hunter hosts a mystery quilt-along every year, beginning on the day after Thanksgiving and finishing with the reveal on New Years’ Day with a link-up party after each weekly clue.  This seems very intense.  As a rule, do you always work at such a pace?

Savannah:  Not at all, Jimmie.  I think that I could best be described as a lazy quilter.  I cut a little fabric, I do a little piecing, and I stare at the progress a lot.  If I worked on every quilt as intensely as I do during Bonnie’s mysteries, nothing would ever get done.  You’ll notice, if you haven’t already, that the Christmas tree and holiday decorations still haven’t been taken down.  Then there’s everything that goes along with the general neglect that you see; a lot of meals out of cans, and the drawers are nearly empty of clean laundry.  Well Jimmie, all of that is just an unfortunate by-product of this once a year quilt bash.  Try some of that canned Spam, Jimmie, it’s a treat.

James:  When making a quilt from a designer’s pattern, do you follow the instructions down to the last detail?

Savannah:  Well Jimmie, it’s all about tweaking the pattern to make the quilt your own.  Sometimes it’s something as simple as adding a border of your own design.  At other times, it’s changing up the block pattern just a bit – a variation, a deviation, or perhaps the process could be best described as a mutation.  Mutants!  First there was Godzilla, then Rodan, and now me.  Fudge?

James:  Yes, please.  Have you ever considered an alternative pastime?  What if you could no longer quilt?

Savannah:  Do I have a Plan B?  That’s a very interesting question, Jimmie.  As a matter of fact, I do.  In the past I flirted with several musical instruments; the harmonica, the dulcimer, but it’s the accordion that has always held a special place in my heart.  I’ve often thought that if all else failed, I could rely on my accordion to sustain me.  Have you noticed how much airtime the song Shipping Up To Boston by Dropkick Murphy’s has been getting lately?  It was used to great effect in Scorsese’s film, The Departed, but now the song has been featured in a mainstream beer commercial – that’s the accordion for you.  Some Vienna sausages, Jimmie?

James:  And your husband, your family, and your friendsare they as supportive as you hoped they would be?  What do they think of your passion for quilting after all these years?

Savannah:  Nuts.

James:  Thanks, but that fudge really filled me up.

Savannah:  No Jimmie, that was in answer to your question.  Nuts… as in nutty.  Everyone I know thinks I’m barmy.  Fruitcake, Jimmie?

celtic solstic bonnie hunter reveal[Edit.: I have one more border to add yet, a scrappy green border that didn’t get done in time for the last link-up party – close, but no cigar.  My version of Celtic Solstice with an extra border will finish at 83″, or 210.82 cm. square.]

I Like Red… A Lot

redwork embroidery toujours l'amour french market threads need'l loveThe color red always makes me hungry… apples, beets, cayenne pepper, cherries, cranberries, currants, guava, kidney beans, pomegranates, radishes, red bell peppers, red cabbage, red plums, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon – yum!  So how many more food items have I left off the list?

Is there anything more truly luscious than red?

It doesn’t much matter the tone – I like reds anywhere from the reddish-pink to a very nearly burgundy red.  Currently (and that gets me thinking about that red of a different color), I favor the tomato red.

I like reds in hand embroidery.  The image above is a piece of redwork that I finished (mumble) years ago and it’s been languishing in a UFO drawer ever since.  I know that it wants to become a pillow, and I’ve been waiting somewhat patiently for inspiration to strike, but it better strike soon or I’ll have to start referring to this piece as my vintage redwork.  And what if it begins to compost… (gasp)?

If you’re curious, the pattern is from a Needl’l Love book called French Market Threads, and happily it’s still in publication.  There are a lot of fun projects inside, including some quilts that are still on my to-do list.

I like reds in a quilt, too.  Anything from itty bitty pieces in a scrap quilt, to an entirely red quilt (with some neutrals tossed in just because).

Kansas Troubles Kaye Egland Civil War Legacy Stitchin' Witches Quilt AlongAnd as of today, I am all caught up with Stitchin’ Witches Quilt Along.  I have officially pressed the last seam in segment #8, Kansas Troubles. I had the idea that perhaps this would be the segment where I toned down the reds somewhat.  Wrong again.  If anything, I think that I added more red prints than before – that green almost looks like an oversight.

split triangles bonnie hunter celtic solstice mystery 2013No, it’s not red, but I do like orange as well.  I’m still plugging away at the components for Bonnie Hunter’s mystery quilt, Celtic Solstice.  I’ve got everything finished in Parts 1-4, but a mere 5 of the split triangle units for Part 5 are completed (sorry – that doesn’t make for much in the way of scrappy variety for the photo).  I only need 100 total of this particular component, and I’m positive that I can get the remaining 95 knocked out easy before Part 6 goes live on Friday morning.

We’re getting so close to Bonnie’s reveal.

mikado tomatoo seed packetPS – Barbara Brackman has given us a heads-up on a new Civil War BOM that begins January 25, 2014.  I haven’t quite decided for sure, but I’m wavering.

I’m such a soft touch when a quilt along is mentioned.

Where’s My Stuff?

I’ve semi-rearranged the sewing room to make room for the new quilting machine and in the process I’ve managed to misplace most everything – I can’t find my stuff.

I use the word rearranged very loosely.  It was more of a case of “shove this cart over into a corner, and this table over there.  Then stack a few things on top of whatever was most recently moved.  Okay, put a few more things on top of that tower of fabric, it shouldn’t topple over.  Oh yeah, and push this out of the way, too.”  The sewing room has reached critical mass, and I can’t find one thing in all of the chaos.

I could start cleaning this evening, but I think I’ll pull a Scarlett O’Hara – I’ll think about it tomorrow, meanwhile ignoring the mess while I sip on an adult beverage while I sit in front of the biggest time waster of all, my computer.

I’m still hanging with Bonnie Hunter and have spent the weekend hunkered down with Segment Two of the Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt.  Thank goodness that I’m only making the small quilt which measures 75″ or 190.5 cm square.  The fact that I don’t own a king-sized bed had a lot to do with my decision, in this case size does matter.

If I had opted for the large quilt, I would have needed to cut a total of 1,464 fabric patches to make 244 chevron units.  As it is, I cut 600 patches to make a grand total of 100 chevron units.  Each chevron measures 3.5″ or 8.89 cm unfinished.  Ten more chevron units and I can color this segment complete.

butterscotch yellowI had a last minute change of heart over the yellows.  When shopping my stash for this project, I pulled every piece of caramel colored fabric that I owned.  But within the last few weeks, I’ve been gifted with a number of bags and boxes of fabric and with the occasional surprise of quilting related buried treasure.  (Note: if I could find my stuff, I’d show you).  While burrowing through one particular bag – or maybe it was a box – I found a scrap of yellow fabric that made me think of butterscotch the minute I saw it.  “Too bad,” I thought, “that there’s so little of this fabric.”  I smoothed it out, and set it aside while I delved deeper into the bag (or box).  Soon after, I shouted “Eureka!” while hauling out several yards of the same fabric.

Selecting greens is easy – all greens live together in nature.  Blues can be a bit tricky, and in my world, so can reds, and oranges, and yellow.  So I chucked all of the caramel colored yellows in favor of the lighter, and in my humble opinion, happier butterscotch yellows.

Bonnie Hunter Celtic Solstice

It Followed Me Home… Can I Keep It?

December already… crazy.

midarmI’ve managed to fill my time somehow since my last post.  Mostly I’ve been playing with the new machine that I acquired on the final day of the Houston Quilt Festival.  Oh… did I not mention that a mid-arm sort of found its way to my house?  I’ve burned through masses of leftover muslin and batting since its arrival.  Some might call it practice, but really, it’s nothing but play time as far as I’m concerned.

machine quilting practiceHere’s To Whittling Down That Stack Of UFOs

I’ve been getting check marks on a couple of unfinished tops as well, but I’ve begun with baby steps.  The take-along project from the Houston trip is complete – although it only got taken out of the project bag for show and tell while stuffing my face with pizza one night.  I never got around to actually working on it until after my return.  The little “Giddap” donkey quilt finished at 18.5″ or 469.90 mm square.

Giddap: The Democratic Donkey Quilt Reproduction of a vintage quilt patternAnd the Itty Bitty Pinwheels quilt gets a ta-da, too.  This one finished at 10.5″ or 266.70 mm square.  You remember this one, maybe?  The one that very nearly drove me insane while I was working on it?  The one with the 1″ blocks?  Yeah, that one.

itty bitty primitive pinwheelsReds: Gotta Love ‘Em

And segment seven of Stitching Witches Quilt Along is sewn up.  After much consideration (aka: sitting and staring for hours when I probably should have been doing something else), I came to the conclusion that the green check fabric demanded just a little too much attention.  A “Do-Over” was declared.  The red is not nearly as exciting as the green, but the final version of the Corn & Beans block is more in keeping with the overall look of the mystery quilt so far.

Stitching Witches Quilt Along Corn and BeansStitching Witches Quilt Along Corn and Beans

How About A Whole Bunch Of Scrappy Fun?

Last, but not least: the day after Thanksgiving also signaled the start of Bonnie Hunter’s 2013 Mystery Quilt Along.  Bonnie’s 2012 Mystery Quilt, Easy Street, was so much fun, and turned out so well that I decided to join the party again this year.  It’s not a block a week, or a block a month, more of a… make 188 of these units this week.  Don’t know how or where these particular units will fit into the overall picture, but I know from experience that eventually, they will.

Celtic Solstice Bonnie Hunter Mystery 2013 The entire project is a little intense, but in a very, very good way.  Last year, we finished in 6-7 weeks.  I adore working on a schedule, I wish I could push myself to piece like that a little more often.

Another reason I’ve looked forward to Bonnie’s next mystery quilt is her scrappiness.  The last thing that I need to do at this time of the year is go out and buy more yardage.  Bonnie makes color suggestions but puts a lot of emphasis on using scraps, the more the merrier – and boy howdy, scraps I’ve got!

It’s not too late to join…

Easy Street Bonnie Hunter 2012I’m sitting here writing about the Bonnie Hunter 2013 Mystery, when all of a sudden, it hit me – I never posted one single photo of the Easy Street top from last year.  Here’s a sneak peak before it goes into the machine.

Do You Ever Wonder Why?

Sitting here this morning, curiously wondering how some quilt blocks got their names.  Occasionally, the name suits the block and other times the name makes no sense whatever.  Ohio Cluster is the name of this block – the cluster part I get.  But Ohio?

According to folklore, the Ohio Cluster block was used by abolitionists as an indicator pointing north towards freedom on the Underground Railroad.  Note my use of the word, folklore.  Although there was certainly a network of routes and safe houses in place during the 19th century, many quilt historians and scholars of antebellum America have questioned whether quilt codes were fact or fiction.

Ohio Cluster Stitching Witches QAL FlickrWhat else am I working on besides the Stitching Witches QAL?  Later this week I plan on a run down to Houston for the International Quilt Festival.  In anticipation of being completely stoked about all things quilt related, I’m pre-cutting fabrics for a take along project.  I wanted something interesting, yet small-ish, so I decided to pick from my ‘gosh-I-really-need-to-do-this’ list; a semi-vintage pattern that was last published in the Kansas City Star in 1977.

Why semi-vintage?  Because I was around in 1977 – coincidentally, I was in Kansas City in 1977 – and if I dropped the ‘semi’ part, that would be conceding that I’m vintage, too.  As if.

Democratic Donkey

A Donkey pattern similar to this was published in the Kansas City Star newspaper in 1931. The pattern was published in response to requests for a pattern representative of the Democratic party, due to the upcoming 1932 presidential election. “Giddap, A Very Democratic Donkey” was designed by the Ladies’ Aid Society at the Sedalia, Missouri, Congregational Church. Kansas City Star patterns were syndicated in many other states, making the Donkey pattern available to many people. — Great Lakes Quilt Center, Michigan State University Museum

And in case you haven’t seen what we have lurking in our pasture… here are Pepper and Donkey Hotie (pronounced Don Quixote), the inspirations for my version of the “Giddap” quilt.

Donkey

Still Living It Up With Color

Quilting in serial form.  Ever tried it?  Most folks call it a quilt-along, but it is after all, October, and I’m feeling like a serial quilter – ooh, scary.  On offer today is the next installment in the exciting saga of The Stitching Witches Quilt Along.

First up is the Montgomery segment.  This is to be our ‘signature’ block, and I haven’t decided what I’m going to put in the blank space at the center of the block.  Wait.  Let me clarify that last statement: I have all kinds of ideas of what I’d like to put there, but I’ll have to do a little winnowing before I can fit what I’d like to see in that small space.  Then there’s the application method: Pigma Pen? – that’s the easy route – Or hand embroidery?  Decisions, decisions.

Spoiler Alert: the pen will end up the winner… guaranteed.

Montgomery Stitching Witches Quilt Along Kaye England Civil War Legacy Scrap QuiltsNext is Yankee Pride.  I don’t usually have large prints suitable for a fussy cut center hanging around in my stash, but I turned up a floral that worked just fine.  I may have erred when selecting fabrics for this block, in particular, the small leaf print that I used to border the red star.  In hindsight, I probably should’ve used a fabric with higher contrast.  But do I think that the low contrast is enough to cry do over?  Nope.  I adore that wee print, so it’ll stay.

Yankee Pride Stitching Witches Quilt Along Kaye England Civil War Legacy Scrap QuiltsTune in next week for another installment… same Bat time, same Bat channel.

Batman Quilt Along Stitching Witches October 1966