Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quilting fun in Palm Beach County

The entire East Coast is in a heat wave, making Florida hotter than ever...but the quilting fun never ends!
Just crank up the A/C, get out the fabric, and roll on with that rotary cutter!

I just had a marvelous time with the Palm Beach County Quilters Guild. What a great guild! They are doing loads of good charity work while supporting their county fair, the big Mancuso show in November, and their own biennial show. In between, they have lots of well known teachers and a monthly meeting that is jam-packed with activities. I lost count of all the drawings! And every person who has a birthday that month gets to select a fat-quarter from a giant basket.
The quilts are mine, ready for the lecture...and that's my purse on the chair. Seems dangerously close to the basket of fat quarters!
But I did manage to control myself.
The time allotment for the program was shorter than my regular lectures, so we decided I'd show a number of my quilts, including family/vintage ones...quilters always seem to enjoy a trunk show.
Of course, I couldn't just leave it at that. There had to be some reason for the quilts I selected.
So I did a program I have been thinking about for quite awhile: The 7 Habits of Highly Collective Scrap Lovers (with thanks to Stephen R. Covey).
There was a quilt to illustrate each of the 7 Habits, which I changed from business jargon to quilt-speak, such as" #1: Be Proactive" became "It's a Scrap If I Say It Is!".
I had that great Double Wedding Ring with the red binding and the Big Baskets quilts to represent each side of my family. The others were mainly quilts and tops I have made, especially some Mystery Quilts.
Over on the right you see the three Quirky Bits samples, as that's the class we had following the lecture.
You may remember it's relationship to Perky Old Men, being made with the same endless batch of 3-inch nine patches. Cherry-Cherry's mono-chromatic blue one is on the far right, and in the center is the new top I just finished.
I got a Hoffman Bali-Pops selection of batik strips for my birthday ("Strawberry Fields"...did you know those things are collectibles now??? Put out in yearly collections, for our obsessive pleasure!).
Every time I teach this class there are a couple people who want to use a jelly roll or other pre-cut strips that are 2-1/2" instead of the 1-1/2" strips.
I have no problem with that! Why do any extra work (a great motto!).
Quirky Bits is cuter with the smaller strips, but looks great with the wider ones, too. So here's my version, which has some very quirky parts indeed. I enjoyed making it it to have as a sample for the class, and in the process firmed up how I want to write the pattern.
The class was wonderful, with lots of ladies trading strips and sewn units, plus making plans to shop for more additions to their strip collections.

Well, with such hot weather, there is nothing better for Summer than a Watermelon..... quilt, that is:
This was made a long time ago from an Eleanor Burns pattern called "Boston Commons". The large white area has watermelon leaves quilted all through it  in pink thread.
I searched online for a picture of a watermelon vine, copied it, traced two leaves, then blew them up to life size. By flipping each template from side to side, I had 4 leaf shapes to combine in many ways all around the white part.
This quilt was purchased at a fund-rasing auction and now resides in Washington state.

Until next time...stay cool!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Americana Quilt for the Fourth of July

You may recall a selection of blocks, united only in that they were red, white & blue:

When you have blocks of all different sizes, the first step is to lay them out to see how they'll balance. That means you're just looking for where each one will look best in relation to the others.
These blocks are in their suggested places for the quilt. You'll notice there are some spaces...those will need to be filled with plain fabric, pieced units, or a slight shuffling of the existing blocks. That where the fun is in making this sort of quilt!
Taking a picture comes in handy when there are not really any traditional rows. It was picked up and carefully given labels. 
It went home to my design wall:
This thing is huge...but doing a scrappy sampler is a puzzle made of parts, so it's fine to just worry about one section at a time. I tried to lay it out according to the photo of the blocks on the table. The center-to-bottom seemed to go well, though I thought it needed a lot of added peices.
Working on the top went a bit smoother, though the trick here is to get things centered, to match the "balance" of the original layout. The bottom section had established the width, so now the top had to be the same.
You might notice that the large Log Cabin Star is no longer surrounded by nine-patch blocks.
 Asymetrical is fine for some things, but the Flag Block needed to be right in the center of the Log Cabin star. Also, a directional block like that has now made this whole quilt have a definite top and bottom.
Well into the process, I actually stated to take blocks apart for several reasons:
1. I needed the units for filling in spaces.
2. The Rail Fence blocks looked like swastikas (they are now broken up, placed about half way down on the right side).
3.Some of the blocks just couldn't work. due to their construction. I was determined to have all the donated blocks in the quilt, and I even managed to get the double-knit one in (!!!).  
But the one that had no seam allownces to speak of...that one self-destructed during some reverse sewing and there was no saving even parts of it! At that point, I did not feel bad about sending it to the trash. It did, howvever, leave a 12" hole I needed to fill, which resulted in a complete re-design of the bottom section. This is why I am glad I did not write down or recall who had made any of the blocks.

After a simple border to "frame & contain", I patched a backing together from more donated yardage.
I am so pleased to tell you that there is a True Saint in my quilt guild!
DB took this mess and did a large meandering pattern with a nice red thread that pulls the whole thing together beautifully. I will be eternally grateful to her for relieving me of the quilting!

I did put the binding on and here it is finished....and handed over to the lady who wanted it for a fund-raiser for the church where my guild meets.
Happy Independence Day indeed!