Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Special Box!

I got home last night, and found this gorgeous box on my doorstep!It was from Cherie at Quilted Jonquil.
Underneath a lovely note and some Halloween strips for future houses, was this terrific stash of selvages!

Woo hoo! Thanks Cherie!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Repeat After Me...

Dear Helen,These aren't the fabrics you're looking for...

These aren't the fabrics I'm looking for...

Move along...

Move along...

(Helen, you are 16,448 kilometers away. Oh, excuse me, kilometres.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A New Project

I'm working on a new project. It's a little swap with Helen. It's a secret swap, and we've decided not to tell each other anything about it, and not drop any hints or clues. We're also going to ship them about the same time, so we can receive them at about the same time.So I can't tell you I'm making a quilt with CENSORED and CENSORED and CENSORED in these colors, CENSORED, CENSORED, CENSORED and CENSORED and it's going to be CENSORED by CENSORED big and that I am CENSORED CENSORED about it.
Actually, I think I am well on my way to achieving my goal. That is to be able to hear Helen squee with delight when she opens it.

No mean feat, considering Helen is about ten thousand two hundred twenty-two miles away in Australia.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Exquisite, Indeed

I always like to take a picture of a quilt and the person I make it for. This is Devon with the "Exquisite".

I'm home now. I'll resume working on the Quick Brown Fox and other little projects. I've got a private swap going on with Helen, and I'm going to have a little fun.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

SweetBean's Dress

This is my little SweetBean, modeling her new dress. Can you tell she likes it?I took about two dozen pictures of her modeling it, and each one was a bit fuzzy as she twirled the dress around. As soon as she put it on, she didn't want to take it off, and showed it off to everyone.I had a good time making it for her.

I've been on the phone to the office every day this week, trying to solve a Crisis remotely. It's been a lot of fun (NOT), and I'm really dreading going back to work next week.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Annemarie Garden

This is my new best friend, SweetBean. She's Devon's big sister. She, her Mom, little brother and I went to Annemarie Garden, a local sculpture park, yesterday. We had a great time.We saw a lot of sculpture, most on loan from the Hirshhorn Museum. I really liked this one,

Castle of the Eye by Minoru Niizuma, made of Carrara marble. It's bigger than it looks. It's 168" tall, by 36" by 36".That it is reminiscent of a quilt has nothing to do with it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Little Something

You didn't think I could get a little sewing done on my vacation, did you?

Surprise, surprise!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Singer Sailmaker

I'm visiting friends in Maryland and on Saturday we visited the local Maritime Museum. My lovely fairy odd-kids loved me so much they gave me a cold, and I wasn't paying attention to much as we toured the museum, because my head was full of fuzz. You know the feeling.

But then I saw this:
This sewing machine was used in the late 1800's (dunno for sure, head too full of fuzz) to make sails. The thing was at least 30" wide, and the "throat" a generous 12" or so. I was so taken with it, I did not take a photo (with my cell phone, no less) of the stuff UNDER the table, so I can't tell you if it was a treadle machine or not.

I am not a sewing machine fanatic. All I ask of a sewing machine is that it sews forwards and backwards, do a little zig-zag once in a while, and work when I want it to. Most of the fancy computerized machines for sale now hold little interest for me.

But this thing stopped me in my tracks. "OoooOOOoooo" I remember thinking, "My quilt blog pals are gonna want to see this!"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

All In The Family

When I was arranging the house blocks for Devon's House quilt, I had a long rectangular empty space. I didn't want to fill it with a tree, and that meant I had to make another house. Everybody in Devon's family was already in the quilt, and many of our friends are represented by the cats all over the quilt. What to do... what to do...

I was looking through my stash and I found the "Home Sewing" fabric. I saw a lady in front of a sewing machine! ME! I would make a house for me! Since I listen to classical music all the time, and my son plays cello, the red house fabric with the stringed instruments was perfect. I loved the golden fabric for the door, and I used black fabric with Japanese kanji lettering for the roof. My son is a 3rd Black Belt in karate, so this represented him. I added a garden fabric as the ground.

I'm part of the family, and now I'm in the quilt!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Devon Town

This is Devon's quilt, Devon Town. Ten of the house blocks were inspired by drawings by his siblings, the other eight are mine. This picture was taken in bright sunlight, so the colors look a bit bleached out, but in real life they are very vibrant.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Owner Approved!

This is Devon, and as you can see, he approves his quilt. He's a real cutie!His brother and sister immediately recognized the houses they colored, and were very happy to see their houses in the quilt. His Mom has renamed the Rocket House. Now it's called "The Dream Ship."

The entire quilt will be unveiled here tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

O Sewing Machine!

O Sewing Machine, O Sewing Machine,
How even are your stitches!
You don't have an exotic name,
You can't play those fussy games.
O Sewing Machine, O Sewing Machine,
How even are your stitches!

O Sewing Machine, O Sewing Machine,
How powerful is your motor!
Quilts and bags, and curtains too,
I make them all, thanks to you.
O Sewing Machine, O Sewing Machine,
How powerful is your motor!

O Sewing Machine, O Sewing Machine,
How sharp are your needles!
You may not quilt quite like a dream,
At least you don't make me scream!
O Sewing Machine, O Sewing Machine,
How sharp are your needles!

O Sewing Machine, O Sewing Machine,
You aren't fancy or expensive!
Your arm's not long, your throat's not deep,
You can't sew in your sleep.
O Sewing Machine, O Sewing Machine,
You aren't fancy or expensive!

O Sewing Machine, O Sewing Machine,
I am the Boss of this Team!
You do your job, you do it well,
Without you, I'd live in hell,
O Sewing Machine, O Sewing Machine,
I'm gonna miss you* a lo-ot...

*going on vacation

Monday, March 15, 2010

Clean Sewing Studio!

I hate my sewing studio so much when it's messy, that I never take pictures of it. I really should, because clean sewing rooms are pretty boring.But I was bound and determined to clean the sewing studio before my trip to later this week. So here are two pictures of the process. I had a huge pile of bits and pieces and I got out all the little bins. It took me about two hours to sort through them.Now the room is nice and clean, and all the bits are sorted. Woo hoo!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Eye

My son thinks the dog should be more to the left, and he doesn't think the words "the lazy dog" need to be centered underneath it.

He's got a great "Eye" so I'll give his opinion a lot of weight. Growing up, we went to an art show about twice a month for the first 19 years of his life, and grew up with art being created at home every day, so he's had a lot of exposure. My mother, a working artist, tells her friends that he is one of the three people she asks to critique an artwork-in-progress.

I'll think about it.

Remember, this is the same kid who didn't like the yellow fabrics I chose for his Sunshine Quilt.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Change Partners and Dance

Last night I switched gears, and started sewing the colored strips together that will become the border of on-point squares. The colors will be the colors of the letters in the Quick Brown Fox, all batik-y looking, so none of these colors are real "prints." Those are the fabrics I have used fairly consistently in this quilt, and I want to keep the same effect going. The colors will be arranged spontaneously, without a specific pattern repetition.

The blue background is 2" strips, the color is 1-1/2", sewn with a quarter inch seam, then the pieces are cut crosswise into 1-1/2" slices and then sewn together. I put together a tutorial here.I thought you'd all get a kick out of hearing my running frustrations with the Quick Brown Fox quilt. The fact is if artists do the same thing they're good at day in and day out, their work becomes boring (to themselves) and stale. So artists always find ways to challenge themselves. They grow, they increase the level of difficulty, they always find a new problem to solve, or a new way of looking at something, and give their viewers a fresh way of seeing the "same old thing."

I know I'm going to solve the problem. I know it will all come out in the end. If I was working alone, nobody would see the options I considered, they'd only see the end product. That's where a blog is different - I share my process and problems. I didn't want anybody to think that it all came easily or without any effort or angst.

I've learned from long experience that if it isn't working not to force it, to set it aside and let it alone. I've learned that sometimes you have to change partners and dance.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fox Grumbling

You know, sometimes thinking too much can get you into trouble.

It started because I thought there was too much space between the words "brown" and "fox." So I sewed them closer together. And I didn't want "The" to be too close to the big pink flower on the left, so I slid "The quick" over to the right. Then, if the dog was going to be UNDER the fox, and not too far to the left, I had to move the fox to the right. But then his nose was too close to the blue butterflies, so I had to move those. And of course I liked the bird on the flower. Then I liked the blue butterfly so much, I made another one, because it would look like the fox disturbed them by jumping. They have to come out of a flower, of course. And my friend thinks the dog should have a bone, but now she wants a snail too. And of course I think it needs more flowers. And it's a hell of a lot easier to lay stuff down on the floor without having to figure out how to the pices together. And if I centered the dog under the fox, there would be too much stuff on the LEFT side, and it would be too heavy. But the fox needs to have space to jump INTO, so there has to be space on the left, I mean right, (and yeah, wouldn't it be cool if there was the back end of a rabbit running into the bushes off to the side of the quilt.) And I'm gonna have to make more flowers to fill up the empty space, and if I want a flower to the left of the fox, under his tail, I'm gonna have to take something apart (for only the sixty-seventh thousand time), and I lost the green button I wanted to use as the fox's eye, and I have to get the ladder out to move stuff around on the design wall and every time I move stuff around, crap falls down behind the bookcase, and I have to take a picture so I remember what I want it to look like so I can sew it together, and I still have to make the row of brightly colored "dots" and of course I have to pack for my trip...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Fox Lands

The pink flower, the words "the quick brown fox" and the fox panel are all sewn together. The bird on the flower and the two blue butterflies are a separate panel and haven't been sewn to the fox panel yet.
Next up, figuring out where to place the words "jumps over" and the dog. Once that has been decided, the various flowers and extra goodies will be determined.

Here's the problem. I hate sewing into, or out of corners, and I hate too much "negative (or empty) space." As you have seen, the words "jump" and "over" rise and fall. I'm gonna have to do some finicky sewing to get them in no matter what.

The problem is, where should the dog be? In the middle? (top photo) I'm not sure I like the fox landing on the letters.Should the letters (and the dog, since the dog seems to look best directly under them) be pushed a bit to the left? (middle photo)
Or should they be pushed WAY over to the left... (bottom photo) not sure about this at all.

If I have too much on the left, then it looks heavy on that side, and empty on the right. Your eye will look at it, and see a "problem." It should "read" as a whole unit, and make visual sense.

So I'm wrestling. Comments and opinions welcome!

Note: The words "the lazy dog" seem to really need to be in one line, under the dog. I've tried moving "the" after "over" and it just looks dumb. They also need (the quilt tells me this) to be centered under the dog.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fabric Shopping

On Saturday I drove out to my favorite quilt shop, Quilted Threads.

I wanted to buy some more of the indigo batik that is the background of my Quick Brown Fox quilt. Here are the other fabrics I bought. A few yellow-orange and pink batiks, this lovely brown leaves batik (which looks just like a tabby cat, btw) and this wild Free Spirit I got on sale. I also bought a wonderful spring-y Art Nouveau inspired fabric (across the top).

This big Kaffe Fassett print was waiting for me when I got home. This is going to be the backing of the Quick Brown Fox.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Composition, Explained

I'm pretty sure you're all tired of hearing me tell you I trained as an artist. It makes a significant difference in how I arrange things and how I view things.I know how to move the eye across the page, or canvas, or quilt. It isn't an accident.

We all learn by trial and error, but sometimes we get so frustrated when "nothing" works, we give up. Knowledge saves time. I know how to achieve what I want, which is a direct result of my training.

So, short of going to Art School, how do you learn about "composition" and "making a picture?"

Buy this book, and read it.


It's a very simple, very effective, demonstration of WHY things work (visually) and it includes all the Principles. The book is no longer in print. You'll have to buy it used. It is available, much cheaper than Liberated Quiltmaking, and worth every cent.

Picture This, by Molly Bang

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Coming Together

Here's The Quick Brown Fox after a little time in the sewing room on Friday. I think I'm going to make a smaller butterfly to go under the blue one (and this one will likely point in the opposite direction). I love the bird on the flower. The pinkish-purply flower on the left needs work. I think it works better with soft corners.

Nothing is sewn together yet.

Oh, Helen, I think your idea of an orange-y binding is Excellent. Thanks! I ordered this.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mom Wants

My Mother told me the other day she wants a quilt. I said, "Ma, you already have like five or six!"

"When people come in my house, the first thing they see is the quilt you made when you first started quilting," she said.

This is the quilt my Mom is referring to. It's an original design, machine pieced and hand quilted by me 28 years ago, blogged about here.

My mother continued, "Everybody loves it, but it's not you anymore. The stuff you do now is amazing. I want the new you."

My Mom wants a word quilt. (Oh gee, there's a big surprise.)

"Well, Ma, what words?" I asked.

"I love that quote about creativity by Pearl Buck."

"MA! That has WAY TOO MANY LETTERS. You can't have that many. That would make a quilt the size of a house! Think of a quote you like, but it has to be short. The Quick Brown fox has 35 letters. You can have... 50. You can have 50 letters."

"That's not a lot."

"The quilt won't fit on the wall if it has too many."

"I don't need a quote, but I want words. I'll think about it."

My grandmother used to say "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride."

I'm pretty sure that won't be what my mother chooses.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

You Rock!

Nothing new today. Spent last night getting my hair cut, installing VPN software on my laptop (which I just rebuilt) then restoring data (from an online backup - piece of cake!), and attempting to convince the boss to call tech support when his new hi-tech device didn't sync his email. (No he didn't, so at 9:30 PM I did.)

So, no sewing.

HOWEVER.... I just want to say to all of my wonderful readers... YOU ROCK! I am so happy you like to follow my design process. Your comments and suggestions keep me going, your encouragement is profoundly helpful and supportive. Thank you SO much! You ladies make my day each and every time I read your comments and thoughts. I may not always follow your advice or suggestions, but it is always helpful to hear another point of view.

I need some advice. This quilt needs a backing, and it needs binding. Have you got any ideas? I don't want to get all fussy and piece the back. I think a gold or greenish batik might be nice, but I don't want it to be too dark. I found a lovely Kaffee Fassett. but eQuilter only has two yards, and I need at least 3. I don't do cute, so no alphabets, no cute cartoony dogs or dog bones.

I don't know if the binding should blend in, or if it should be pieces of, say 2" chunks of the brights that comprise the letters of the quilt. That would be a bit unwieldy around the corners, though. I might have a row of on point squares, like these, as a border, going all around the central design. Of course, they wouldn't be all one color, but all the brights, not arranged in a rainbow (because, you know, that would be boring and predictable, and we don't want that!) but willy nilly, like a big dotted line around the perimeter. It would hold the design IN and yet carry the colors all around. Yeah, I think I like that. Then the quilt would have a plain binding.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Off The Wall

A design wall is a really nice thing if you can reach the top of it without getting on a ladder. The top of a ladder is not a friendly place to be if you're just a little bit tipsy from the delightful alcoholic beverage you drank when your son took you out to dinner earlier in the evening.**

But I digress.

I gathered the components of The Brown Fox and lay them out on the rug in the living room. I almost think this quilt is one that would have benefited from a good design plan a the outset.

Oh well!

Here is a layout without any of the extras.
But I think it looks too naked. I think it needs some kooky zing.
The layout is by no means final. Sorry the photos are a bit overexposed. You can click them to enlarge.

**(Yes, he did! A plan for a quick dinner at the local sushi place turned into an exquisite dinner when I remarked, driving by, that "Z" was a restaurant I wanted to try, but it was very expensive. As always happens in these magical moments, an empty parking space appeared. "How expensive?" my son asked, as he pulled in. "Very," I replied.

I had the Lobster and Mushroom Risotto, he ordered the Top Sirloin. My drink was vodka and cranberries, the dessert, Lemon Mousse, was to-die-for, and my son, bless him, paid the bill.)

Monday, March 1, 2010

It's a... bird?

How do we know the dog is lazy? We don't, so I decided to draw attention to his lackadaisical attitude by setting a little bird right next to him.

You all know I don't use commercial patterns. If I get an idea, I draw it out, or see a block somewhere, figure out how it's constructed, and go from there. That's what I did here.

The state bird of NH is the Purple Finch, and that was my inspiration for this fellow. This little bird block is harder than it looks (if you try to free piece it). The legs are long, but I'll trim them down when I set the block in the quilt top.