Friday, August 31, 2012

Arc of Confetti

I've finished the arc of confetti over the OUT OF THE BOX letters. I am very happy.

This idea was really a watershed moment for me. From this I have got ideas that solve some of the other problems that had been bothering me for some time. I was hoping I could finish the top before the end of next week, after which I go back to work. Now though, I know I have a lot more work to do.  In fact, I made a quick trip to Quilted Threads last night to buy the last of the dark brown batik fabric I'm using for the background.

Stay tuned!

PS, Quilter Kathy... I'm not sure I'd call it "brave." "Foolish," maybe, "Nuts," most definitely!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Most of my issues with finishing the Black Box quilt center around how to make the transition from the light of the exploding letters to the dark of the background.

If I made a trip-around-the-world kind of gradation, it would be unlike anything else in the quilt, and I don't want to distract viewers that much.  These areas (above the arc of OUT OF THE BOX) and on either side of the black box itself are (design-wise) subservient to the other elements.

I originally envisioned the quilt as a black box, almost in a kind of spotlight, with bright letters popping out of it, and I envisioned the background as dark.  Since the box is black, and the background is very dark, I had to find a way to separate the two. And I always imagined the box as a floating box. It does NOT sit on a table.
I think I'm happy with these "dresden plate" wedges that surround the box, although they won't be made of only one fabric. I like the way they complete the circle of the silver and white arc above the box, but I am not sure I want that white circle around the box to be SO big. As usual, when I'm not sure, I move to another part of the quilt (the confetti).  I had always planned to make a better box, with more "elegant" fabrics and flaps that aren't so rigid, and I know I need to bring the "confetti" down to the very bottom of the quilt.  Maybe there will be a heap of it on the bottom. Who knows?

As far as extra "goodies" more asterisk flowers (with dark backgrounds) or some of my butterflies? I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. We'll see. As you all know, Quilts usually tell you what they want, and it's our job to listen.

By the way, if you click the bottom picture a separate window will open and you can see the whole thing. It's right side is slightly chopped off here. (I've modified the template so you can see the entire photo.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012



I did NOT mean to do this.  I was sewing strips together into pairs, then I wanted to sew three pairs together into a six strip band.  Apparently the strip pair that I meant to sew to my existing 4 strip band had fallen to the floor, and I ended up sewing the four strip band to itself.

So what did I do?

Well, there was no gnashing of teeth or whining, and there was certainly no seam ripping involved!  I just took a pair of scissors and cut a brown strip in half, then I sewed one side to the other paired strip.

Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Great Interfacing Fiasco

Last week when I was wrestling with the gold points around the black box, a couple of readers suggested I use some iron-on interfacing on the gold fabric.

So I drove out to the sewing store and bought some.  I brought it home only to discover it wasn't iron-on. (ARGH!!)  I went rummaging around the closet and found some. It was a little stiffer that what I wanted, but I knew it would work.  So I read all the instructions and ironed it to a big chunk of the gold fabric.  It looked great. Then I picked it up - or rather ATTEMPTED to lift it up from the ironing table. It did not move.  It was stuck!
Yup, the gold fabric was SO THIN the adhesive went straight through it, and adhered to the top of the ironing table. I had to lift hard to peel the stuff off, which ruined both the gold fabric and my ironing table.


Fortunately I had bought some of the silver ironing board cover fabric a few weeks ago, so after I got over being so pissed off, I recovered the ironing board yesterday.

It is safe to say the slippery gold fabric has met an untimely demise.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Good Pins, Bad Pins

I am a fusspot about my pins. I like them fine, sharp and magnetic. I hate the extra long pins with the frilly flower shaped heads. (They're also expensive.)
Because I like my pins very fine, they get bent, and I have to replace them.  I like having a full pin tin, so when I go shopping for pins, I buy a lot.

I needed pins, so I went shopping for them. There are lots of options, and I couldn't remember exactly what kind of pins I bought the last time, so I stood in front of the big display and tried to sort them out. I thought I found what I needed, and bought six packages.
These pins suck. They are magnetic, they are the right length, but they are too thick and they are DULL!!! I couldn't get them through two layers of cotton.  Now I have a lot of pins I can't use and I had to go BACK to the store because I needed pins. Yuk!

This time I was smart. I brought some batiks with me and opened various pin packages and TESTED them.  I tried bridal pins (nope), pleating pins (too long), various dressmaking pins (too dull), and even the Extra-Fine pins were too thick.

But these made the cut. They are Ultra-Fine glass head pins.  I am not a fan of big headed pins, and these are actually a bit too long, but they are nice and fine, and very sharp.

You don't believe me? Check this out... The Dressmaker's pin is on the right. The Ultra-Fine Glass Head pin is on the left.

Amazing, isn't it?  I've made a note of these "good pins" so the next time I have to buy pins, it should be a lot easier.

Here's a closeup. Yes, the difference is THAT big!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Gold Thoughts

Here is what the gold was kinda sorta supposed to look like.  Except it took over and drew too much attention to the shiny gold around the box. And frankly, so much of the shiny gold (and no, it was NOT Lame) just looked cheap and tacky.

After lots of in the car thinking, I may have a better solution.  I still wanted gold, I just didn't want so much of it. For a while I thought of gold fabric, but that would have been equally distracting, and meant I'd have to go fabric shopping.

Then I thought, maybe I need some white or cream fabric with gold in it? And I kept thinking... where was I going to find that? 

CHRISTMAS!!Christmas fabrics often have gold metallic accents.

It just so happened I had some in the nether regions of my stash.  I like this a lot better, and even though some of the fabrics might not be "perfect," I like this direction better than the shiny gold.

I'm on vacation for the next two weeks, and I plan to finish the quilt top. Whee!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Going For The Gold

 If the bright colored letters fly out of the box, what color to I put behind the box?  The box is black and the main background color is a dark brown. The black box would get lost.
So what if I tried a neutral gray?

I don't "just push on" when I don't know what to do, I walk away and think.  In this case, I got in the car and drove to work.  I do some of my best thinking when I am driving, or rather, waiting at stop lights.  What about gold?  What if I surrounded the box with gold?
It's going to be interesting to see how this looks.  However, I got a big lesson when I started work. When sewing this slippery metallic stuff, make 100% sure you are using a very sharp needle that hasn't hit any pins.

Ask me how I know this.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Meet Kathy!

The Internet is a wonderful place.  A few weeks ago I discovered Kathy's blog, Q.U.I. (Quilted Under the Influence). She was working on Roses for Rosita, a Wedding Quilt for her nephew and his wife.

When I saw the blocks, free pieced, liberated masterpieces with stunning free pieced letters - I about fell of my chair from astonishment. These were bravura blocks, and I was blown away.
 When Kathy revealed the finished flimsy, I felt it was a Masterpiece, and deserved quilting that would really do it justice. Kathy replied she intended to do just that.

 A couple of weeks ago she emailed me from Maine. She and her husband have a summer cottage in Maine (without electricity!!) and they usually spend about six weeks there in the summer. She wondered if perhaps we could get together.

"Name the time and the place,"  I replied, I will go any distance to meet you. We went back and forth, and finally it was agreed that she would drive to my house on Saturday, and stay overnight, leaving on Sunday.
Kathy arrived and we immediately started talking quilts.  After dinner, she pulled out the blocks she is working on.  The island on which their cottage sits has only 13 homes, and two other buildings. Kathy has free pieced each of the 15 buildings using inspiration and directions found in Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking.***  Kathy made these before she started working on Roses for Rosita.

Many of these blocks were hand sewn (since there is no electricity, remember) and all  will be hand quilted. Here are three.  Kathy will show you the rest on her own blog when she gets back home.

I was absolutely gob-smacked. They are totally phenomenal.  Kathy's use of fabrics is stunning. Every time Kathy revealed a new house, I raved more. I was so impressed I brought her over to meet my Mother, who agreed with my assessment.  Kathy makes magic with these houses.

I had such a great time with Kathy this weekend. I loved meeting her, seeing her work, learning from her, and talking quilts. We've already decided we have to get together again next year!

***[note: the book is out of print, but is well worth every penny you have to spend to obtain a copy.]

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Arc

It's a really cool thing when something turns out the way you envisioned it in your head.

The next trick is to put all the elements together in a way that makes sense.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Getting Out of the Box

Here's how the wedges and the bright OUT OF THE BOX letters are fitting together. I am really happy about this (as you can imagine.)

Queenie, I am SO happy you got a kick out of the title of yesterday's blog post. I was wondering if anybody would "get it."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


OK, so here's how I made the strips for the wedges. I sewed strips together - background cream, white, silver, cream.  Then I cut them at an extreme angle using a template I made. Then I did the same thing for the other side. There are 11 lefts, 11 rights.  After that I sewed the pairs together to get the chevrons you saw yesterday.

So how am I using them?  I thought you'd never ask. Here are a couple of clues.

 Yes, that's a 10-degree wedge ruler, and the extension, from  I'd seen it hanging at my lqs and thought it looked cool. I wanted to play with it, but wasn't interested in doing anything "normal" with it. Finally I bought it so I could experiment with it. As soon as I got it home I realized it would be very useful in assembling the colored arc of letters above the black box. 

That's enough for today.  More later!

Monday, August 13, 2012

10 Degree Wedges

Here are some of the ten degree wedges I will be using in the Black Box quilt.  I've been more than a little bit intimidated about exactly how they'll connect to the other elements in the quilt.

I'm not worried about them design-wise, but the technical aspects of joining these very narrow, bias-edged strips to the other elements have me working very slowly and very carefully.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I Washed It

At one of the classes I taught a few weeks ago, I took a good look at my quilt, Letters From Home, and realized it was dirty. There were some dusty greasy stains across the top edge, and some spots along the edges.

Now, this quilt hangs in my house, just outside my kitchen.  It doesn't get any sunlight, but it has been rather active during it's 3 year life. It's been to Tennessee, to Washington State, to Quilt Market in Houston, to Quilted Threads in Henniker NH, to work with me, and anywhere I can show it off, so with all that, it wasn't really a surprise to me that it was a little soiled.  So I washed it.

In my usual cavalier fashion, I just tossed it in the washing machine (cold water, permanent press cycle) with some detergent and a color catcher.  When it came out, I tossed it in the dryer on low, then took it out when it was slightly damp and let it dry flat.  After a week, I hung it back up. It looks lovely, with the quilty wrinkles a lot of quilters like.

I'll bring it with me to Quintessential Quilts 2013 in St Louis next year, and after that I think I might take it down and let it rest.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Silver Slices

 Yes, these are long, narrow wedges!
How and where are they going on the Black Box quilt?

You'll just have to wait and see.

Slippery Silver

 This silvery stuff is very thin, almost transparent,
 and very slippery.
I have a lot of work to do before these things sew together, but if it works the way I want, I will be very happy.  Stay tuned!

Oh, this is for the Black Box quilt, which is coming together, finally.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

All You Have To Do...

is make 399 squares with two opposing corner triangles, 80 squares with triangles on one corner and four blank white squares, trim them up and sew them together.


Yeah, that's it.

I spent four days sacked out on the couch sick with a summer cold. Bleh.