Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wedding Quilt Plans

I am counting the days until the wedding. In the meantime I want to share this fabulous picture of my son and his fiancée.

I have been thinking about a Wedding Quilt. Both had told me they loved the colors of the Digital Pinwheels, and I thought I would make that quilt for them, but the more I got to thinking about it the less happy I was.  I was going to make a quilt for the person I love most on the entire earth, and I was going to use something I found in a book, made from squares?

I think not! 

If I was going to make a quilt, it had to be a quilt from ME! What would that look like, I asked myself.  The answer didn't take long to pop into my head. A quilt from ME would have words, and hearts, and butterflies and birds. It would be a riot of color.

But I had to ask the couple what they thought of the idea. Fortunately they both loved it. Rubylocks said it had to be bright colors on WHITE, and I told her that was exactly what was in my mind too. My son said I had to include my pine trees, and lots of them. They named places that were important to both of them, and those place names will be in the quilt. (Like YOSEMITE, where they fell in love and he proposed.) It won't be ready in time for the wedding, but that's OK. I know where I am going with this. I know it will change as I work on it, but that's OK too.

(Can I tell you how much I LOVE this photo of the two of them?)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Flying Pigs Anybody?

Julie challenged me to a Flying Pig quilt-along. While I have an idea of where I'm going with it, I haven't started yet.  But I do have fabric.

Here are pinks from my stash.

Here are some pinks that I purchased for this project.

Of course I had to order some pig fabric.

And I even bought some flying pig fabric!


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Finished Chicken Flimsy

I straightened out the Chicken quilt top and sewed 3-1/2" strips to all four sides. It's now 59" (150 cm) wide by 85" (216 cm) tall.

The quilt really needed this extra space to breathe. I think the quilt looks a lot prettier. 

Next up: finishing the backing, so I can send it to Chris to be quilted.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Basic Butterfly

Here's a butterfly before I've trimmed the bottom wings. Right now this butterfly looks very upright and a little stiff.

 I've trimmed about three-fourths of an inch from the bottom, but the difference in how the butterfly looks is amazing. I prefer my butterflies to be wide like this.

You can buy my butterfly tutorial at my Etsy shop, here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

All Lined Up

So knowing my penchant for avoiding tradition at all costs, who among you would have predicted that I would end up liking this arrangement, with everything lined up. Well, more or less lined up.

Still though, the goal is to attract attention to these and to entice customers to sign up for a class to learn how to make them.

The layout yesterday was confused. This is a lot more straightforward, but it is by no means final. I am happy with only one butterfly (I'll let you guess which one), and I really like the crazy little heart that's bouncing higher than the rest. The asterisks are fine, but I have two two-toned ones that are so subtle you can hardly tell they are two-toned. (Oops). I like the birds, but I don't think these four work well together.

So I have some work to do, but that's OK. It's the kind of work I like to do. 

One note: "Free-piecing" is a technique of construction, not of design. Yogi Berra famously said "If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up someplace else."  Very true. Working improvisationally means you make it up as you go, but it doesn't mean you are stuck with it if you don't like the direction it's taking. You get to change course. You get to decide where you'll end up. 

I always start with some kind of plan or idea, and working this way helps me figure out what it is about the plan that works, and what doesn't. I love the zest, the verve, the unlikely results. I love the surprises I find along the way. If I planned every last detail out before I cut into a piece of fabric, it might be "perfect" but it could be stilted, boring, predictable, dull and worst of all "overworked."

Philippe Petit (he's the one who walked a high wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974) says the point of Art is to make it look effortless. "I practice very hard to make it look easy." 

Well, yes. I work very hard to make my work look completely spontaneous, fresh and lively. It isn't without effort, but it doesn't mean I don't like the work it takes to get there.

(btw, I remember Petit's famous walk when it happened. The DVD "Man on Wire", the story of the walk is awesome, thrilling and terrifying. He's still alive.)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Birds, Butterflies, Hearts & Flowers

I am working on the samples for my upcoming class on "Extras" at QT. (The class date has yet to  be determined.)

This is a very subtle two-toned asterisk flower.

Usually I make my butterflies with larger upper wings, but I really like this one. I'm not exactly thrilled with the layout above, but nothing's carved in stone yet.

I am really getting tired of winter and all the snow we've had in the last ten days. My friend Julie has thrown down the gauntlet. She's threatened, tempted, teased me with flying pigs.  I have accepted the challenge. (After all, I can resist everything except temptation.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day, with Flowers!

Just after I walked into my office on Friday morning, these flowers were delivered. They were sent by my son and his fiancee. Not visible in this photo are the gorgeous dusky roses. This bouquet is extremely fragrant. My coworkers mentioned they could smell them too! Thank you my darlings!

I'm working on my next class at Quilted Threads. This one will be on wonky hearts, asterisk flowers, birds and butterflies.  So it was only appropriate that I show off some wonky hearts today.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 10, 2014

B&W on WoW

This is what happens at my house when I buy fabric. 

Over the weekend I went up to Quilted Threads and bought several yards of WOW fabrics for the Digital Pinwheels quilt. After running it through the washer and the dryer, I dumped it on my work table, intending to iron it later.

Apparently I wasn't quick enough!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Clean Up, Clean Out (But No Quilts)

I've been cleaning my "office." It's been a kind of a catch-all or junk room for most of the last year. My desk is in there and I was really avoiding the room because it was so messy.

Over the last couple of weekends I've gone through the closet and trashed a lot of stuff and brought four bins of stuff to Goodwill. I've shredded eight bags of paperwork. In fact, I had to buy a new shredder because mine died. It was 10 years old, so I wasn't too broken up about it. The new one is much quieter.

So here is what the room looks like now.
It's a vast improvement. I've also sorted through all the bookcases and the drawers in the bureau (which you can't see in the photo.)

Which got me to going through the drawer in the nightstand.  See those wire bins on  the chair in the photo above?

Here's the Before:

Now for the After:
So how did I get from the Office to the Bedroom? It was the pens. I had almost a dozen pens in the drawer. For what?  As I sorted through various drawers in different rooms I realized I had pens in every room in the house except the bathroom. Now they are all in one place.

I mean, really, how many pens do I need in my nightstand?

Notes: The two-dollar bill is something of a good luck charm; I use the post-its for bookmarks, and the only charging cable in the drawer now is for my iPhone.  This is SO much easier.

When this room is done, I'll be moving into the sewing studio to give it the same kind of ruthless treatment.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What's Behind the Chicken?

Julie and I hear this all the time. The idea that "free-piecing" is a synonym for "sloppy workmanship." Folks who don't know any better say they would never do free-piecing because they think it means you sew things any which way, instead of the "right" way.

I hasten to correct all my students that free-piecing does NOT mean sloppy workmanship. Sewing quarter-inch seams, pressing the pieces neatly, trimming threads, making the flimsy lie FLAT, are all the kind of rules that SHOULD be followed. It's the design rules that can be broken.

Here's proof: This is the back of the Chicken quilt. I haven't counted, but I'm guessing I've got between 1,000 and 2,000 pieces in it. There are 35 different fabrics.

 My students always ask, "Do I press toward the dark fabric?" My answer is, "You press to minimize, and distribute the bulk evenly. And if that means you press toward the light fabric sometimes, then that's what you do."

Here's a closer view. The letters are about 4" tall

Remember, this entire quilt was made without templates, without patterns and it was NOT paper-pieced.  I take one piece of fabric and sew it to another, and keep going. (Yes, I do know where I am going, what I want it to look like and how I am going to get there.)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

You said what?

My Mom and I were together on Saturday and I asked her if she wanted to see the finished Chicken quilt flimsy.

Remember back in November she didn't think much of it. (The Value of "Meh.")

As we spread it out on my bed, my Mom said, "This is handsome. The colors you used are so beautiful together."

"They aren't my colors, but you've done a beautiful job with them. Those greys and the fabrics you chose for the dull words are just beautiful. This is wonderful."

Thanks Mom!

When I told my pal Julie about my Mom's "Meh" remark back in November, I added, "Now my challenge is to take the Chicken Quilt from 'Meh' to 'Awesome.'"

"You're not worried you can do that, are you?" Julie asked.

"Hell no."

Way back when I was a teenager and I was making myself some clothes, I got to a point where I just thought it was going to be terrible. My Mom reassured me, "Lynne there's always a point when you're making something and it just looks awful. It's not far enough along so you can see anything good about it. It's all in pieces and you don't know how it's ever going to look the way you imagined. But you have to stick with it."