Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Little Something Different

My friend Tracey makes these adorable sock kitties. This is a kitty I gave my Mom for Christmas.

I already have a few of my own.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sunshine - Ready, Set, Slash!

I've completed all the Sunshine blocks. Now I have to cut each one into four pieces, like the block above.First, line up the ruler to make the first cut.

Without moving the block, move the ruler 90 degrees, line up and make the second cut.

I place these blocks on the corner of my cutting table so I can cut easily from both sides. I don't move the block, I move myself around the corner to the other side of the table to make the second cut.

Now I'm really excited.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sunshine Squares

I've sewn 30 of the Sunshine Squares together. I've got 8 left to do. Here are a few from the latest batch.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays! I hope everyone has a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!

This is a Christmas-themed quilted chessboard I made a few years ago. You can click the photo to enlarge. It has denim in the middle for stiffness and is quilted in the ditch. The squares are 2-1/4", so this is a "regulation" sized chessboard. The inner border is 1/2" and the outer border is 3-1/2", so it's 25-1/2" square.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Sunshine

It finally stopped snowing after leaving us with between 18 and 22 inches of the damn stuff. I've had enough already and it's only the second day of winter.

We had real sunshine today. It was sunny with clear blue skies. It was also about 15 degrees F and very windy. The snow crunched underfoot. Actually, it was a pretty nice day.

On Sunday I paired up the last of my strips and squares. Last night I started sewing them together. I tried very hard not to repeat any pairs, but look at the finished block on the right, and then the 5th pair down from the top on the left.
Drat! Oh well. Nobody else but me will probably notice anyway.

I buy fabric at a couple of quilt stores locally, but I order a lot from eQuilter. The fabric samples are large, and the inventory is arranged so it is easy to browse. Some sites have links with the names of the manufacturers, like Kona Bay, Hoffman, RJR, etc. I have no interest in going on a hunting expedition by manufacturer when I am looking for fabric. I don't know who manufactures what, and I don't care to learn. I find it very frustrating. So I buy a lot from eQuilter. Last year I bought about 200 yards of fabric. This year, not so much. But the folks at eQuilter must like me, because I found this book in my mailbox as a gift from them.
It's a lovely book. I will absolutely never make a quilt that looks like a picture. So sometime when the weather gets a lot warmer, and I am not feeling so frazzled, and the very special task I have set for myself in 2009 is well underway, I will offer this book as a giveaway.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunshine Squares

I've made 20 of these square-in-square blocks so far. Here are 5. I made these between shoveling, breadbaking and laundry. We had 12 inches of snow (was supposed to be 6-10") and more is forecast today (8 - 15") and tonight, and then more on Wednesday.


These blocks are currently 14-1/2" square.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snowbound Sunshine

When making the square in square blocks for the slashed squares, I try to make two sets of blocks - half with "busy" inner squares and more calm outer squares, and half the other way around, with "calm" inner squares and bolder patterns on the outer squares. So the first step is matching up pairs of fabrics. Here are the first pairs. I worked on these yesterday while it snowed.

In this quilt, I am not interested in creating strong pattern, so the yellows are all fairly similar in hue and value. There are contrasts, the size of the birds and the colors in the Kaffe Fassett fans, and the large gold Japanese mums, but overall I am more interested in having a quilt that "reads" as one tone throughout, with any color "dancing" across the surface. Since the quilt is for my son, I also don't want it too girly or "pretty."

You can click the photo to enlarge.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ready for Sunshine!

The first big snowstorm of the year is due today, and I am ready.All my pieces are cut for the Sunshine Slashed Squares Quilt, and I have the afternoon off.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sunshine Slashed Squares

Try saying that three times fast...

I have decided to make the Sunshine Quilt using the Slashed Squares block. Since I have been buying the yellow fabrics in 1/2 yard pieces, I needed to work out how much fabric I would need for the blocks, and if I would have enough. I do. Each half yard will yield two blocks. I have 19 fabrics, enough for 38 blocks. My blocks will be 14" square, and I will make six rows of six for an 84" square quilt.

Which will live (believe it or not) in my son's car.

In theory.

(you can click the picture to enlarge.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The yellow quilt will be a scrappy quilt, "beach size", for a guy and his lady friend to lounge upon at the beach or at a picnic, or to watch fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Which guy, you might ask, wants a quilt of sunshine?

This one.

My son. He's a Second Degree Black Belt.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Calling 'Dionne...

Dionne, If you don't contact me by the end of the day, I will pick another name for the Bento pattern giveaway... Email me at darlingmillie AT gmail DOT com with your mailing address.

Thank you!

While we are waiting, here are some fabrics for a project I will be starting after New Year's.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

And The Winner Is...

I'm waiting for an email confirmation...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bento Rule Change...

OK! OK! OK! OK! If you want to be entered in the drawing for the Bento Box Pattern giveaway and you don't have a blog... you don't need one. But if I pick your name, I have to be able to contact you, and if you don't have a blog, I can't do that. So email me (address in this post).

And yes, if you live in Japan, you can enter. I said so in rule # 7.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Calling Anonymous...

Dear Anonymous,

You make quilts, you have five adopted kids. Email me at darlingmillie AT gmail DOT com and tell me about yourself. I will be happy to enter you in the Bento Box pattern drawing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Want Bento?

Now that the giant Bento Box Quilt is on its way to its new home, I can move on to other things. After Christmas, I will resume work on my Alphabet Sampler Quilt. In the meantime I'm doing what every quilter does after finishing up a big project - cleaning the sewing room.

Since I made so many Bento Box blocks, the instructions are engraved in my brain, and I certainly don't need the pattern any more. So I thought I would give it away. You leave a comment, and I will put all names together and pick a winner. But there are a couple of rules.

1. You must have a quilting, sewing or crafting blog. I have to be able to find it when I click on your name and look at your profile. Cat bloggers are welcome too.

2. You can only leave one comment. No ballot box stuffing.

3. You must leave a comment on THIS POST. No exceptions.

4. The deadline is Friday December 12. When it isn't Friday anywhere in the world, the drawing will be over.

5. I will pick a winner on Saturday December 13. I will try to contact you by email the same day. If you don't have an email address in your profile or on your blog, (and I understand perfectly if you don't), then I will leave a comment on your most recent post.

6. I will post the winner on Sunday December 14, once I have contacted the winner. If I don't hear from the winner by the end of the day on Monday, I'll pick another name.

7. I will pay postage to anywhere in the world.

8. This is an authentic Bento Box pattern in pristine condition.

9. There is only ONE.

10. It's my party and I'll cry if I want to. That means I can change the rules.

Good luck!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bento Box Finished

If you heard the Hallelujah Chorus at 10:49 Eastern Time this morning, then you heard me when I finished the Bento Box Quilt. I'll need a couple of people to help me take pictures of the finished quilt, and it's snowing here today, so I don't know when I will be able to post a picture of it.

But if you want an idea of how big it really is...I am five feet tall, and here I am standing on my bed.

A Little Math

Back in August, when I decided to make this quilt, I selected 63 pairs of 2-1/2" strips of fabric 44" wide. That's 126 different fabrics. Here they are, stacked up in a big pile.I actually measured the height of the stack - it was 4-1/4" high. But later I decided to make the quilt much bigger, using 81 blocks, so I needed 36 more fabrics. My stack would have been about an inch higher.
Since I never follow any quilt pattern, I never really considered how much fabric gets used up. And since all 162 fabric strips for this quilt (and there are 161 different fabrics) came from my stash, I never thought much about it. But when I ordered 12 yards of backing for this one, I wondered... Just how much fabric went into the top?So I did the math. And I had to double check my figures, because they just didn't seem right. I cut 162 2-1/2" strips. That's 405 inches. Divide that by 36 inches in a yard and you get...
11-1/4 yards!
Dunno why I am surprised. It's a -BIG- quilt. My son helped me tie it Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Got Quilt Top?

It's not the best photo, and I was standing on the step stool, holding the camera up against the ceiling, trying to get the whole thing in. Obviously the corners are cut off, and it may not be in the best focus, but here it is, all 81 square feet of it. It has a stunning blue for the backing.

You can click the picture to enlarge it. My dining room table, by the way, is currently in my living room.

Sweet Sixteen & The Second Half

I told you I took pictures of my layout and sewed the blocks together accordingly. But I didn't tell you my printer only prints in black and white. So it isn't as easy as it looks. Here is my layout of 16 pieces, with the printed photos I used.
This is the second half of the quilt. Next I will sew the two big pieces together to make the top of the quilt. Then I will get the backing ready. (And do the grocery shopping, and do the laundry and make some cookies for my son... and it's going to snow later today.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Auditioning the Last Twenty

I really like arranging the blocks with the stick. It's nice not to have to get down on my hands and knees all the time. Here I am working on the last section of the quilt - the last 20 blocks.

I have my arrangement, and took my photos and labeled the photos with row and block numbers so when I sew them together later they will be exactly the way I envisioned them. The backing fabric is due today, so that will go through the "washing machine shuffle" and then be ironed and pieced to make the backing. My son volunteered to help me tie the quilt on Saturday, so I can finish it up on Sunday. For that, of course, I shall feed him vast quantities of food. Maybe I'll make this.

And maybe even cookies.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The "Tool" & a Half

About a year ago I made this cat tent, complete with fleece pillow. At the time I thought I would make two, because I had two cats, so I got 8 pieces of 1" PVC pipe and all the extra crutch tips. Then Cat # 1 got really sick.... and I never made the second tent.But one of the extra poles (about 40" long") is really nice for moving pieces around on the floor.
Here's a closeup of the end with the crutch tip. These are available at hardware stores everywhere.And here's what it looks like, moving the pieces around on the floor.Here's the half of the quilt top I have made so far. I promised to make it for a friend in time for Christmas.
Wanda, I am an artist by training and my walls are filled with artwork. I don't have a wall either big or empty enough to use as a design wall. And I find moving pieces around on the floor gives me a lot of freedom, plus I can get some distance away to get a good look. Yes, Millie (the cat) loves to play "slip and slide", but that's life with a cat.

She never did like the tent.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More Bento work

I sewed up another 20 blocks into one big chunk last night. Tonight I will add another row of 5 blocks to one chunk, and then sew those two together and have half the quilt top done.

Yes, a king sized quilt is VERY VERY BIG, and truthfully, I hate them that size. They just get so unwieldy.

To keep the arrangement the way I want when I sew them together, I take pictures, like the one above, print it, and then follow that. AND, I found a nifty way of arranging the blocks without getting up and down on my knees. I remembered that the French painter Matisse worked with collages in the last years of his life, moving the pieces around with a stick. I found a dowel, and then a crutch tip... can you see where this is going? While standing, I could arrange the pieces any way I wanted. It was pretty neat. Minimized the up-and-down.

Scared the daylights out of my cat.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Doll Quilt Swap 5 - Received!

I came home from work yesterday to find a package with this gem at my doorstep. I am absolutely over the moon. It was made for me by Gina from Wales in the UK. You can see Gina's pictures here, on her flickr page and check out her blog here.

It's 18-1/2" x 20-1/2". The star is foundation paper pieced, and the glittery rays are embellished. The triangles that make up the star are 4" and the "logs" are 1/2". The star is applique'd to the blue backing. It is exquisitely quilted.

Reading through older posts on her blog she describes me thusly: "I got my partner details today for the Doll Quilt Swap that I've signed up for. I think we were separated at birth. My partner loves deep, bright colours. Just my sort of girl."

Thank you, Gina! I just love this.

Oh! And it came with goodies!
(you can click the pictures to enlarge)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Eighty-One and Twenty

Here is what 81 Bento Box blocks look like.

And here are twenty of them sewn into one section of the quilt.

I need to make another section just like this (4 x 5 blocks) and two 5 x 5 block sections to complete the top.

It's going to be king-sized, 108" x 108", or 9 rows of 9 blocks each.

Clare, as I worked on this, moving the blocks around on the floor, and then getting up to look at them properly, my knees and back reminded me that I'm getting old. (Actually, I'm your age.)