Quilts

Selvage Block-A-Long

Selvage Quilt Block_orange

I joined Diane’s Selvage Block-A-Long Flickr group some time ago, but didn’t have anything to show off for it. Now I finally have this lovely burst of orange.  I used Poppyprint’s tutorial, figuring “Why reinvent the wheel and make my own?” as hers was perfectly lovely.

Drawing Lines on Vellum for Quilt Block

I did draw two more lines on either side of the middle diagonal, and it did help keep me on track (try not to find where I went haywire).

Pins while Stitching Selvage Block

And I found that using pins was also helpful to keep the selvages from shifting.  I use vellum paper, still leftover from Come-A-Round’s marathon of paper piecing a couple of years back, gluing on a side strip to widen the 8 1/2″ to 10,”  making it all nice and square.  True Confession: I didn’t have this many orange selvages in my pile, so YES, I did head to the stash, pulling and cutting to make more.  If you cut them with at least one inch  ABOVE the white selvage line, you’ll be a happier piecer.

Feb2014 ABL Quilt Block

I also had chance to finish up the February Block for the Always Bee Learning Bee.  She meant to send out the fabric several times, but her family has had a bad winter of flu and yuck, so we received it last week, and I got it out the door today. I’m not making progress on my List of Goals, instead, I write the new project on, then cross it off.  Is that cheating?

Center Greens of Rainbow Petals

Here’s one that was written on recently: Rainbow Petals.  I went and found all the greens I could in my LQS, cut and shaped petals and stuck them on.  Which one would you choose?

Rainbow Petals.v2

Right.  Me neither.  So I went back to my stash and tried to find colored petals that would be slightly darker, yet a blend of the two adjacent petals.  I had some successes, but going around to fabric stores to find just the right color may take a while.  Better move this one off the First Quarter Goal Sheet and on to the second.  And really, since it is the 10th already, there may be a few more projects moving forward, given that Spring Break is coming up, I might have visitors, and that the essay on Short Stories is coming in on Thursday.

Time Flies

Right.  I knew that.

Quilts · WIP

WIP, RP, BB Can’t You See?

That’s Works in Progress, Rainbow Petals, Bee Blocks, can’t you see?  I just liked the rhythm of it all, especially after the previous post, with Emily Dickinson, a reclusive but prolific American poet, writing about her sewing.  And yes, that video was of my granddaughter, taking her first stitches.

Rainbow Petals

So the Work in Progress is my Rainbow Petals quilt.  This is a rainy-day-late-at-night photo, and we all know how those turn out, but if this looks familiar, that’s because it is.  (Check your iPhone.)  I first thought of this last summer, when — in bed recuperating from foot surgery — I watched the Apple Keynote talk about their new iOS7, and this logo kept flashing on the screen.  I took a screen shot of it and tucked it away.  I went to the Long Beach Quilt Show (final year) and bought sixteen different half yards in the Kona colors I thought would match, holding up my screen shot to double check the colors.  My friend Leisa and I arranged them at dinner that night, numbering the labels so I wouldn’t mix them up.  I’ve since seen another quilter try her hand at this.  I had thought to piece it, but now I think I’ll appliqué it by hand.

I’m still thinking over those dark middle petals.  While they “read” as black, they are actually forest green.

IMG_7080

I also finished a first set of churn dash blocks for my Mid-Century Modern Quilt Bee and sent them off.  I kept thinking about them, unhappy with how they had turned out.

MCM Feb 2014

So I made another set.  I am one of those quilters who have ironed seams so long to the side, that I’m not very happy with my results when I have to iron seams open.  If the block is too small, and the seams are pressed to the side, I just take a bigger seam and press again.  But if the seams are pressed open, then it’s unpick, resew, re-press.  As I mentioned on our Mid-Century Bee blog, I’m just Open-Quilt-Seam-Challenged.

MCM March 2014

Cindy, also from the Mid-Century Modern Bee, wanted a spiderweb block, with a low-volume (muted) text center and solid strips for the web.  A great idea!

ABL March 2014_2

For March in my Always Bee Learning Bee, Marci wanted two Modern Maples blocks.

MQG Member Logo

And yep.  I did it.  I joined the Modern Quilt Guild as an Individual Member because my closest guild was MILES away, across the great wide scorching plains of Los Angeles Traffic — or Orange County Traffic — and I wasn’t able to attend their meetings.  Maybe in summertime?

WIP new button

Linking up with Lee of Freshly Pieced.

Free Quilt Pattern · Quilt Bee · Quilts · Something to Think About · Tutorial

Oh, The Places I’ve Been!

Well.  I’m exaggerating a bit.

Saperstein

I went into Los Angeles to meet my sister, who was accompanying her husband for his treatments here, in the Saperstein Center, at Cedars Sinai Hospital.  I’m including this photo so my mother will know what it looks like.  It’s a comfortable room, with private bays all along the sides of the main room.  My sister and I curl up in the comfy chemo chairs (that aren’t being used, of course) and talk while we wait to visit with him.  But this time while he was in treatment and couldn’t be visited, we first went to lunch at a favorite place of mine:

Sycamore Kitchen Yummies

Sycamore Kitchen, which has very inventive and delicious food.

Then to The Grove, where we hit Barnes and Noble because I was looking for Quilty Magazine, because I’d just hit print:

Gingham Quilt

My gingham quilt was featured in “Girls on Film,” paired with Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ.

Gingham Quilt front

Here’s a better look at it, and here’s the blog post about it.  We didn’t find the magazine; my issue came a couple of days later in the mail.

HighHeeledShoes

And then Nordstrom’s where just seeing these makes my feet hurt.  The heels on the left remind me of my mother’s “spectator” pumps, worn for years and very stylish.

Tennies

Better.

Then back to the hospital.  We later had dinner at a lovely little Italian place, then it was home for me, as we were both tired and she had to drive to her hotel.

Students

Another place I’ve been is my local community college, where school started.  (The white blobs are where I whited out each student’s name.)  This ought to give you a representative sample of who is in my classroom. I finally have a great class! (Intro to Literature) and I’m more excited to teach this semester than I have been in a while.

Square-in-Square Blocks

I’ve also found a few minutes to spend in the sewing room.  No, I’m not playing in the Economy Block Sew-a-Long.  The pretty pink, yellow and chocolate square-in-a-square blocks are for a friend’s baby quilt, and I’ve already sent them to the quilter who is putting it all together.  We used Red Pepper Quilt’s tutorial *here.*

Into the Woods front

I’ve  already made a quilt out of the (officially known) Square-in-a-Square block, in my quilt “Into the Woods,” (number 103 on the 200 Quilts list, shown below), so I’m squared out. The block in my quilt above is 9″ square, larger than the baby blocks, and I drafted it in my quilt software, QuiltPro.

ABL Jan14 block

This is the block for January for the Always Bee Learning Bee.  Toni of Hoosier Toni wants to make Christmas quilts for her children’s bed, and I thought her choice of the SpiderWeb block was great.

ABL Block with extra Jan14

This is like the one we made a couple of months ago for another bee; the tutorial is found *here.*

MCM January14 Block

This is for the Mid-Century Modern Bee, for Linda of Buzzing and Bumbling.  Her house burned to the ground right before Thanksgiving last year, so we were happy to make her house blocks to help her re-create her life in a new fashion.  This is my own design.  I’ve got a PDF file of the templates here: *Hyde Park House*, but I have to warn you that since it’s a 12″ block finished, some of the templates “fall” off the page, and you’ll have to figure it out the measurements.  What I did was measure the templates, then write the measurements down on the paper.  Then I used that as a guide for cutting out the pieces.  Somehow I ended up short on the height and had to add another strip of green on the bottom.  Just don’t be too precious about this and you’ll get through.  Hey, it’s free and untested, so Buyer Beware.

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 5.08.48 PM

Lastly, my mind has been in Budapest, Croatia and Slovenia, places I hope to go to this summer.  The challenge is when you are in lots of places, it’s sometimes hard to figure out where you need to be.  Today I needed to be here in my sewing room, finishing up the Amish With A Twist 2 quilt top (next post).

And often when you are too distracted with your head in many places, you fall into the procrastinating habit.  I had a student from my last class write to me, as she was worried about trying to overcome her habit of procrastination (although her habit is very slight, truthfully). I told her I sometimes ask myself “What do I want to have done before this day ends?” and sometimes that helps.  Other times it is just not wanting to face that dreaded task every day, so you finally find the resources to get it done.

Although you might think this doesn’t really apply to us quilters, I think it does.  Sometimes we put off tackling the really hard tasks and instead do our bee blocks (Ahem.)  Other times we have sketched out a terrific quilt, but are seduced by the latest trend on Instagram (Economy Blocks) and let that pull us away from doing the hard work of designing and figuring out the quilt in our head.

An article in the New Yorker noted that “The essence of procrastination lies in not doing what you think you should be doing, a mental contortion that surely accounts for the great psychic toll the habit takes on people. This is the perplexing thing about procrastination: although it seems to involve avoiding unpleasant tasks, indulging in it generally doesn’t make people happy.”

So I’m trying to figure out which place I should go next, which direction I should head in my quilting.  Shall I fall back on something easier to do than what I have to (“we often procrastinate not by doing fun tasks but by doing jobs whose only allure is that they aren’t what we should be doing”) , distract myself by buying more fabric (judging from the recent Instagram De-Stash, a lot of people have been doing this one!), or simply surf the web some more to get so many ideas, I can’t possibly make them all in my lifetime (“many studies suggest that procrastinators are self-handicappers: rather than risk failure, they prefer to create conditions that make success impossible, a reflex that of course creates a vicious cycle”).

Ultimately, it comes down to Getting The Work Done: “Since open-ended tasks with distant deadlines are much easier to postpone than focussed, short-term projects, dividing projects into smaller, more defined sections helps.”  And aren’t most of our UFOs the result of procrastination?

So get yourself a notebook, break down the quilt you want to make into smaller steps, and check them off as you go.  It also helps to set a deadline–try the Finish-A-Long if you need a little help with that; because of that I finished several dead-in-the-water quilt tops, surprising even myself with twenty-four completed quilts in 2013.  Not all of these were begun and finished in that calendar year, but that’s when they came alive.    I’ll close with some lines from one of my son’s favorite books, “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss:

On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.

parr

Happy Quilting!

Quilts

Santa’s Village Quilt Top Completed

SantasVillage quilt top

After three days of sewing non-stop, except for the time when I went out to Costco to buy vegetables, or the time I took to talk on the phone to my mother and others, I finished the quilt top for Santa’s Village.  (My apologies if you heard the sewing machine whirring along while we talked.)  Pattern Plusses: the very cute Santa in the middle.  Pattern Minuses: the directions that needed to go to about 20 more pattern testers before they released it to the public.  I’ll have an errata sheet later on, when I’m not bonkers from sewing.

SantasVillage quilt pieces

This is where I started this morning.  Only I think I only had one side on the roofs of the houses.  Hard to remember.

SantasVillage quilt_partial

Houses and trees done and arranged.  I’m tired, but I press on.  I want to be done with the quilt top before I stop.

Ocean Waves Blocks Leanne

Oh, and Friday I finished up Leanne’s quilt blocks for the Always Bee Learning Bee.  And finally the weather started to turn from the near 90-degree weather on Thursday to something more respectably autumn-like.  At her house in Canada, Leanne had snow.  Shoveling snow can make you tired.

thanksgiving1918style-thumb-510x381-thumb-350x261I became even more tired when I called for reservations at The Fancy Restaurant for Thanksgiving and was told they were already booked up.  (All of our children and their families are scattered to in-laws or other, and this is just not the year to cook.)  But the Other Restaurant in the moderately fancy chain hotel has a buffet, and it’s not booked up.  Now I can spend time in the sewing room, giving thanks for Santa being finished.  Or. . . maybe quilting him, before and after our Thanksgiving feast.  I used to be a purist, never going out on the holiday because I remember when my son had to work on Thanksgiving and I was ticked off about him not being at the table with family.  Funny how things change as you age. My apologies if your son has to work at the local restaurant because little old ladies are too tired to cook.  (And PS, I’m not shopping at Target that day, nor WalMart, nor any of the other stores who are open that day.  I do have my limits. . . and my inconconsistencies.)

Leftovers

When you are this tired, it’s good to trim the HSTs leftover from the roofs, and start playing around.  It’s good to have a piecing marathon behind me as on Monday, papers come in, and on Tuesday, I teach my class on the Pleated Tote at Bluebird Quilts (our LQS), and I need to make samples on how to easily make a zipper pocket in the lining.  I loved teaching the last class there and am looking forward to this one.

Happy Sewing!

Creating · Giveaway · Quilt Bee · Quilts · Something to Think About

Bee Blocks & Winner of Project Folio

Project Portfolio_chair

First, while my husband and I were watching Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway in Three Days of the Condor, I leaned over to him and said, “Give me a number between one and sixteen.”

“Five.”

Five it is.  Cindy, you are the winner.  I’ll mail off the portfolio tomorrow.  Thank you to all my very fine readers and followers.  You are such lovely people!

I must admit that I did want to give it to my newest follower: my daughter, Barbara (Hi Barb!), but I’ll make her a new something or other for her work-out clothes (what she said she’d use it for) and send this white one to Cindy.  Congrats!

Arrows Aug ABLbee 2

Secondly, even though it feels as if I haven’t touched a machine much this month, I did get my Bee Blocks finished.  Above is the one for Always Bee Learning.  We were sent some some fabrics, a link, and we were off to making arrows.  It was a real brain-stretcher, but I finished mine and sent them off to Megan.

MCM Aug Block 1 MCM Aug Block 2

And for the Mid-Century Modern Bee, Mary asked for some Cross-X, or X & + blocks as I’ve seen them called, in pinks.  So I followed her linked tutorial at Badskirt’s blog and sent them off.

And now, the to pull the biggest rabbit out of the hat: figure out how to start sewing my projects again.  With this disjoint summer, a bad beginning to my school year (it will get better), and some time away from the sewing machine, it’s like being on a boat being carried down stream from the dock, slowly, and you can see your picnic lunch there in the middle and you are getting kind of hungry but you can’t figure out how to get to it.  Okay, bad analogy, but I think you all know the feeling.

I look at my list of things I want to sew and nothing interests me. I love reading blogs and seeing everyone’s fun projects, and think, I could do that.  But if I do everyone else’s project, how will I find time to do mine?  It’s a double-edged sword, this living in a world of blogs and Instagram and it’s hard to turn off the input in order to find the creative project that is uniquely mine.

My father, aged 87, goes most mornings down to his painting studio on the second floor of a building in his downtown.  There, he thinks, starts his routine, puts on his music, paints, pauses.  Of course, I can only imagine this because it is done in solitude, but every October he opens his studio for a painting sale in his studio, proving that he accomplishes, produces, Gets Stuff Done, sending out more paintings into the world.

I find my challenge to still myself — to enjoy the social media-fied quilt world, yet also to let that project that is interesting to me find its way forward.  I’ve been tempted by another Polaroid Swap, a recent Signature Swap, this winter’s Scrappy Trip-A-Long, and the Medallion Quilt among other recent popular quilts.  But I also know through historical evidence that our quilting grandmothers searched the newspapers for what others were doing, and through imitation, linked themselves together through common projects.

LIke them, I do quilt what is in my universe.  I often think of Nancy Crow, a quilt artist I admire from afar who has seemed to produce what is important to her, to follow her own stream of thinking and creating without regard for what is the most popular.  Perhaps she, and my father, are at one end of the spectrum while the social media/Instagram/blogging crowd, of which I am a part, is at the other end.  No answers here.

Just searching for those oars that will get my boat back to the dock, back to my sewing machine, back to my quilty world.