Thursday, July 29, 2010

DQS9 & Me

This is the obligatory shot of me holding my doll quilt in front of the mirror and trying to take a picture.

Without using a flash.

Without moving.

I still need to add a label and a hanging sleeve, but it's done, and I'm satisfied.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quilting the Birds

This is my quilt for the Doll Quilt Swap 9, and I'm in the process of quilting it.

I have a walking foot to use for quilting. It's ok, but I can't really turn tight corners. It's all herky-jerky and not smooth. (What was I thinking, trying to quilt feathers in the first place?)

I think it looks like it was quilted by a (blindfolded) drunken sailor. It's probably not quite THAT BAD, but in the interests of full disclosure and part of the "I took the process pledge", I show it to you here. I'm good at a lot of things, machine quilting with a walking foot just isn't one of them.

Then I read Carol's description of how she quilted this (it's in the comments). Oh! Now I understand!

Of course, now I feel completely deflated. There is No Way I'm ripping it out though. I'm about at the end of my tether with this one, and given the week I've had, I need to get it finished and move on.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Quilts in Tennessee

My two flimsies, "The Quick Brown Fox" and "No Rules for Julie" (which I can't show you yet) are in Tennessee with Chris, waiting to be quilted.

In this photo, Chris is doing an imitation of me holding a quilt in front of the mirror, taking a picture.

Um, Chris, the idea is to include your smiling self in the photo!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Doll Quilt Swap 9

Here is the finished top of my doll quilt for Doll Quilt Swap 9. I'm pleased with it. I like the row of on point squares all around. I would have liked the corners to match more perfectly, but it was tricky with six colors and the size limitation (24" square.)

Now I have to figure out how to quilt it!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Nine!


Here are the nine bird blocks joined together into the top for my little quilt for the Doll Quilt Swap 9. I might add a small border, but the quilt is already 20" x 21", and it can't be bigger than 24" x 24", so I don't have a lot of room.

I did have lots of ideas... flowers, butterflies, a birdhouse condominium... but in the end, I didn't want to detract from the birds. I also didn't want the birds to line up in perfect rows. I do like the fact that each is unique.

I wrote about how to making the birds in yesterday's post.

My Mom is getting better, and will be released from the hospital on Sunday! You can read about her birthday party on Millie's blog, here

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bird How-To

For Mama Spark, who asked for a pattern for my birds...

I saw a bird like this somewhere, and figured out how to make it on my own. The bird is essentially a half square triangle, like this...
Once you "see" that, the rest of the bird is pretty simple. Below, I have graphed a bird on graph paper. You can click the photo to make it larger, and then click the photo again to make it even bigger.Here I have broken the drawing apart so you can see how it goes together. I free-piece my birds, so they are all rather unique in some way. If you use this diagram, remember to add seam allowances to all pieces!
I have an Easy Angle rule, and here I have taped some blue painter's tape on the 4-1/2" line, so when I place the ruler on my fabric, I can see what the wing looks like. In this picture, I have arranged the rule to show how I would fussy-cut this pink fabric to get the tulips to look like bird wings.The legs are just strip pieced. I make a big piece for multiple birds, and then slice them down to size. I'm lazy like that. Hope this helps!This little bird is Pinky. She's a country girl, loves the fresh air, loves to garden, loves to sing. She's modest and shy. I think she has a crush on Mr Green.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mom Update: Yesterday the doctor told my mother she had TWO blood clots, one in each lung! Mom had asked if she could go home. The doctor's reply was that she wasn't going anywhere until they were SURE those clots were GONE!

My Mom was frightened and was feeling very blue. She called me up at work... "Lynne, when you come to visit later, can you bring me something decadent?"

Of course I did. Swiss Fudge from Van Otis, our local chocolatier.

Late last night came the news they were moving her out of the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit to another unit, and she didn't have to wear the heart monitor. That was a very good sign. Today is my Mom's birthday, and she's 77. I've made some Red Velvet Cupcakes and the Family will gather in one of the patient lounges later today to celebrate her birthday. I figure cupcakes will be easier than cutting into a cake.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sweet Cream Roses

First things first. My Mom is on medicine designed to dissolve the clot, and she's being closely monitored. She's bummed out about being in the hospital, but considers it a lot better than the alternative. Thanks to all of you for your kind thoughts and prayers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When I finally got home last night, after visiting my Mom in the hospital, I found a package from Julie at my door. This was not a surprise, I knew a box was coming.

I fed Millie, read my email, then sat down to open the box. On top was a birthday card. Underneath, a letter.

"Lynne," Julie wrote, "Don't expect a birthday present like this every year! ...Sweet Cream Roses has lost its hanging spot to Baobob," (which lost its spot to the quilt I am making for her) "so it seemed fitting to me that this very liberated beauty should come to live with you!"

"HOLY CRAP!" I said aloud, "Did she send me a quilt?" I dropped the letter, took the bundle out of the box and out slid the most lovely, sweet confection of a quilt I had ever seen.

This is Julie's Sweet Cream Roses, and you can read about it here, and here. It is so yummy, and this picture doesn't do it justice.

I hurriedly read the rest of the letter, and then grabbed the phone to call Julie and thank her.

I love it! It's nothing I would ever make myself, but it's a VERY special quilt, and I'm going to hang it in my dining room for all the world to see!

(after I bring it to work to show off to all my friends, and of course, after I bring it to show my Mom)

Thanks, Julie! You made what started as a rough day So Much Better!




*PS, You have to check out Nichi's post, here. Nichi lives in Italy, and recently visited New England. She also visited My Favorite Quilt Shop, Quilted Threads, and she feels the same way about that I do.


Except it never occurred to me to take pictures! (Lynne slaps forehead... D'oh!)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Birds of Happiness, continued

I made two more Birds of Happiness for my doll quilt for Doll Quilt Swap 9. The birds are about 3-1/2" - 4" tall, not counting the legs. Yes, I fussy cut the bodies to take the best advantage of the fabric and to make you think of wings.

This is Big Red. He's a jock. He was the quarterback on his high school football team. Now he's a successful business man who runs to stay in shape.Miss Violette is always happy and cheerful. She is very well loved amongst her friends, and the reason is simple, really... she knows how to keep a secret!I have not quite decided how to arrange the birds in my flock, but this is a distinct possibility.
I just have to fill in the empty spaces in the middle and the corners. I'm sure I'll think of something.



PS, could you please send a prayer to my Mom, who was admitted to the hospital last night with a pulmonary embolism? My family and I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Birds of Happiness

I've been working on some birds for my quilt for Doll Quilt Swap 9.

This is Mr Blue, who started it all. Mr Blue is a very happy-go-lucky fellow, who gets along with everybody. I liked the way the swirly batik reminded me of feathers. This is Mr Green, from Vermont (home of the Green Mountains). Mr Green is a quiet guy, doesn't talk much. He's a vegetarian (hence the tiny beak). Again, I placed the green fabric in a was that was reminiscent of feathers.This is Yellow, he's from Southern California, and he's a beach bum, a surfer dude. This Kaffe Fassett fabric simply -asked- me to arrange it this way, and since I had a "thing" going with arranging the fabrics on all the birds to look like wings, I thought I might as well keep it up!This is Ms Gold. In high school her name was Orange, but she changed it because it wasn't "chic" enough. Notice the long legs and the big beak. And yes, the way the fabric is placed on her wing is no accident!Red and Violette birds are coming soon, but I won't get much sewing done today. It's my birthday (I'm 39 again), and I'll be celebrating with my family and friends.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ready for Doll Quilt Swap 9

Now that my big quilts are out of the way, it's time to get going on my little quilt for Doll Quilt Swap 9. I know what I am going to do, and I am very excited! I am pretty sure my partner will like what I am planning! We'll see!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mission Accomplished!

The quilt for Julie, along with its backing, and the Quick Brown Fox quilt and its backing, are on their way to Tennessee to be quilted by Chris.

On Sunday I cleaned the kitchen (after finally getting everything organized after the new refrigerator) and actually did all the laundry, folded it, and put it all away.

Now it's time to get the sewing studio back in order.But, glory be! I finally got an air conditioner in there!Hallelujah!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Me & Julie's Quilt

Here you go, Julie! Here I am, holding your finished flimsy!


Do you like it?






Hahahahahahahahahahaha! ROFLMAO!

Actually I can't imagine the anxiety you are going through wondering what this is going to look like! Alas, you will have to wait another six or seven weeks until the quilt is in your hands...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Big Peek for Julie

Here it is, Julie, the backing for your quilt. It's from the Lilac Rose line by Phillip Jacobs for Rowan Fabrics. Are they the colors you love? Fuchsia, Purples, Rich Blues, Emerald Greens.... jewel tones... Yes! Is it over-the-top? OH YEAH!The quilt will go off to Chris for quilting next week, and it will be at least a month before it comes back for finishing, so I decided it's time for a few sneak peeks.
Julie knows only she is getting a quilt with letters in these colors. She knows what words the letters make, but that's it. I don't want her to see the completed quilt until she lifts it out of the box after I send it to her.
Here are a few more hints... In addition to letters, Julie asked for butterflies and asterisks. She'll be getting plenty of those, along with a couple of other surprises for Julie to discover. The quilt will be a wall hanging, and it will be about 38" by 78". I've already told Julie where the quilt will hang when it gets to her house.



**Yes, I know the name panel is a little off center. The backing needs to be 6" bigger on all four sides of the quilt, and I'm not quite done adding it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

(Continuing on the ideas from yesterday's post)

As a former exhibiting artist, I've watched a lot of people look at artwork. Some look at a piece, see the literal image and stop there.
Some really look, and take in every detail, and allow themselves to respond to the piece, noting their own feelings. The goal of any piece of Art is to make you feel something. Some Art is deliberately manipulative (we call it "Advertising") some, of course, is a lot more subtle, but the ultimate goal of all Art is to make you feel something.
A lot of it requires a bit of effort on the viewer's part. You can look at something and ask yourself, "What does this make me feel?" Sometimes art is nothing more than a pretty picture, and that's OK, but pretty pictures can get pretty dull over time.

Some Art takes you to a place you know, sometimes it takes you to a new place. You have to open yourself up, though, to let it take you anywhere.
One thing I've heard a lot is the phrase, "I don't know Art but I know what I like."

Which I think is a load of crap. Most people have no idea what they like. They like what they know, because they're afraid to look stupid. When a piece of Art doesn't conform to their expectation of what Art "should" be (i.e. "realistic," "beautiful", "exquisitely detailed") then they think it's bad.

There is no right or wrong answer. Art is about as subjective as it gets.

But getting back to Mary's question, why do bother to ask opinions of some of our loved ones... the answer is easy. Because they're there.

It's not easy to find an artist to critique your work. Excuse me, let me rephrase that. It's not easy to find an artist you can trust to critique your work.

You want someone who "gets" you. (So I wouldn't ask a traditional quilter to critique my work. All those brights, the different WOWs, the wonky letters, the mismatched seams. The poor woman would have a coronary, and I'd have to physically restrain myself from throwing her out of the house.)

You don't want a "Yes Man" (or Woman, as the case may be). So asking the staff at a local quilt shop might not be the way to go. They have a vested interest in keeping you as a customer, not telling you the truth.

Ladies at your local Quilt Guild might not be right either.

Let's be very clear though, Design is a separate element from Craftsmanship. I am not a sloppy seamstress. My quilts are wonky, free pieced, and way over the top, but my seams are straight, my quilts are square and they lie flat. Technically, I'm on the money. For the technical side of things, and experienced quiltmaker is exactly what you want, regardless whether her own quilting style matches yours.

You want somebody who can treat you with respect, who isn't mean, and uses constructive criticism instead of destructive criticism.

Of course, if you ask, you have to be willing to listen. To take the heat. To hear the negative. To consider the advice.

And be willing to change.



Thanks for listening, your comments are most welcome.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why? Wednesday

In the comments of Monday's post, Mary asked, "Why do we bother to ask opinions of some of our loved ones. What do they know anyway?" It's a good question!

In my case, quite a lot. My Mother has been a professional Artist for over 30 years; exhibiting professionally and teaching. She knows her way around color, composition, design and sewing.

My son not only benefited by being raised in a household where Art was being created every day, but he attended Art shows at least twice a month from the time he was 10 days old to the time he went to college, where his attendance probably dropped down to once a month.

When we spend time together we always visit an Art Museum or Gallery. He's got a terrific "eye." He can sense proportion, color balance, the "feel" of something and whether it "works" or not. He's learned to draw, loves to sculpt but over the years what he really learned was to look.

We are also aware of the difference in liking something versus knowing it's any good or not, or the difference between a subjective opinion and an objective one. When I ask my son to look at my work, I'm not interested in whether he likes it or not, I'm interested in whether he sees any areas that look weird, or don't flow, or don't make sense.

Of Julie's quilt, he said, "[this element] bothers me because it isn't quite centered." It was a perfectly valid comment, and he was absolutely correct. Everything else in the quilt was organized in a particular way, and the element he was referring to was "off." That's exactly the type of comment I want to hear. He might say, "I think this area is too dark, you should find a lighter color," or "this color pops out too much, and is too distracting from the rest..." etc. Excellent, helpful comments.
It was my son, remember, who told me to fix the hand I sewed up for my Alphabet sampler quilt, Letters from Home, because my original one looked like it had been chopped off.
I don't want him to tell me he thinks it's great when it's not, and if it doesn't "sing" for him, that's fine too.

You won't get far if all you ask is "Do you like it?" You need to ask, "Why?" Most people look at something and say, "I like it," or "I don't like it," or some variation, without ever explaining just what it is about it that "sings" or "reasonates" for them. Ask why. Get specifics. "I don't like this blue," isn't good enough. "Why don't you like that blue?" For a viewer unaccustomed to really looking, this can be difficult, but it will be very helpful to you.

My son, for example, would answer that question this way, "It's too warm, too yellow, and all the other blues around it are cool. It doesn't fit." Even if your viewer cannot articulate why the blue doesn't fit, simply telling you "it doesn't look like it belongs there," is a useful observation.



I have more thoughts on this subject and will add them in tomorrow's post. In the meantime, your own observations and comments are most welcome.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

News and Duds

About a year ago I made a four-letter word block for Tonya. I made the word "Grow".

As you know, Tonya's got a book coming out about her method of making letters. You can read all about it here. (I might have a quilt in it.) Lots of other quilters made these four letter word blocks, and I was thrilled to discover mine was one of the ones on the quilt on the book's cover! Whee!

Tonya's letters have changed my quilting life. I -LOVE- making quilts with letters and words, and phrases. I've just finished a flimsy for Julie with words in it. It's a secret, so I can't show you, but here are the leftover duds that won't be in the quilt.
Don't worry, Julie. I've included another orange asterisk flower in the quilt to take the place of this one!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sign Here

This is the signature panel that will be going on the back of Julie's quilt.

The flimsy is complete. It needs to be trimmed and squared. I showed my son the backing I have selected. He doesn't like it, but I'm not worried about his opinion. The backing fabric is perfect. Over the weekend I also figured out what I will do for the binding.

My son said once, about one of my quilts, "Mom, you don't just go over the top. You keep going." So that has become a mantra of sorts for me.

"If you're going over the top, keep going."


Hmm...

Funny where inspiration comes from.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

In the Summer

Every summer I have a container garden in the small space between the building and the parking lot out back. I grow herbs, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Mint, Parsley, and about three or four different kinds of Basil. I also have two cherry tomato plants, two pepper plants, and a bush bean, along with two long planters filled with Arugula and some lettuce.

This bin full of fresh cut basil and some parsley will soon be fresh Basil Pesto!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

You Know It's Hot When...

You know it's hot when...you work in your very hot sewing studio in your underwear.

(Yes, the fan was on full speed.)

Julie
, this is the date panel for the back of your quilt. One more little extra for the back, and a few more unmentionables for the front... but oops, no hints!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Weekend Frenzy

This is the weekend for the Fat Quarter Frenzy over at my favorite quilt shop, Quilted Threads, in Henniker NH. Thousands of fat quarters are on sale for $1 each.What can I do with a fat quarter?

I can make a skinny little zippered bag,
I can make a wonky house,
I can make free-pieced letters in a name.

I can make something a bit more traditional...
or not.
And I always "harvest" the selvages for something fun.So, am I going to make the trek to QT this weekend even though my house is a disaster, there's a quilt I want to finish and it's still hot-as-hell?


Well, yeah.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Colorful Slashed Squares

What do you do while waiting three hours for the appliance delivery guys? You sew blocks together, press and trim them to size.
Did I mention they were three hours late on a blisteringly hot day?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Too Hot!

It was so hot yesterday, and I just couldn't summon much energy. So I sat in front of the fan and trimmed the blocks for Astrid's quilt.

Then I pinned the strips to the long sides.I sewed the light blocks together, and pressed them, but it was just too hot to do much else.I've got a new refrigerator coming Wednesday morning, so I've got to get ready for that.

Yuk!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Side Trip to Astrid

Last week, after I bought the fabrics for Astrid's quilt, I washed them all, and as I was ironing them I thought, I might as well cut the pieces. So I did. Here are the creams.... (ignore that spool fabric at the top)And here are the brights...Last night, my son came over after his orchestra practice, and we sat in my air-conditioned bedroom and he played his cello. I got out my lap desk, my portable cutting board and pinned up some of the blocks.
I had to cut one long piece in half, and pin each half to one square.
To my left, the fabrics, already matched, and those that were already pinned.
To my right, my pin tin. This morning, I sewed the blocks I had pinned, and pressed them.
After standing up most of the day working on Julie's quilt, it was nice to relax in air-conditioned comfort and spend time with my son.