A View of My Quilt Life

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Catching Up on the Solstice

Kind of ironic that I am posting about the Solstice Challenge quilt on the Summer Solstice - well, a day after actually.

Way back when, I embarked on following Pat Sloan's Solstice Challenge . In my usual style of let's take this challenge up a notch, I decided to shrink the planned 12 inch blocks down to 3 inches. Sounded good in theory, didn't it?!

As it turns out, not all the blocks were 12 inches, square or lent themselves to be shrunk down that much. What's a quilter to do?
Luckily, I was several weeks (READ: months!) behind so I could look at the project as a whole, rather than on a weekly block piece by piece.

The original plan was to make 2 of each of the 25 blocks plus 6 extra for a total of 56 blocks, set 7 wide by 8 long. Since not all of the blocks could be used, it was obvious that I would need to be a little more deliberate in my planning and layout design. This is where PowerPoint came in handy.

I could move blocks around at will, plan how many of each I needed to make and get busy at the machine. Most of the blocks were either a 9 patch or 16 patch layout so they lent themselves to the shrinking part of my idea.  Except - see the four blocks in the center column? 

That a 36 patch layout.  Fractions of 5/8s & 3/8s were used it those! They were also the only blocks with a planned color scheme and the first blocks that had the light green. As it turned out, I used the green in only two other blocks. All of the other block's color schemes were random.
Yes - that bugged the crap out of me!  I would like to do a second version of this quilt using the same fabrics but with a much more planned color placement. Really like the way I graded the background fabrics in the center column so if I make another version, I would expand on that.

Here are all the blocks laid out

with the sewing together commenced on the top two rows. A little persistence & it's a top!

While it's not quilted, it was finished being pieced before the Solstice and I'm happy I was on track time-wise!

For comparison, I borrowed this picture from Pat Sloan and her completed Solstice Challenge quilt.

Stay tuned as this will be layered using the pool noodles and then machine quilted.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


And now, FINALLY it's been switched on.  It has more memory, and is an upgrade in size. And it has Windows 10. Which I have never used before. ergh.

Really - I am not computer illiterate but the thought of starting all over with a new laptop made me nervous and unsure of myself. Or maybe I was just being silly. But this was totally me yesterday.

The keyboard will take some getting used to, as will the photo editing capability.  Just different is all. And I need to create folders and move files.  Some of that can wait, some can't.

I have been sewing and making serious progress on three projects.

To ease back into blogging, I'll start with sharing something new I learned.

While I LOVE having the wide expanse of the tile floor at the Michigan House for sandwiching quilts, I do not love scooting around on hands and knees, placing and closing 48,659,781,347 safety pins on that wonder, if unforgiving, hard as iron tile floor.

I had heard about using boards and/or pool noodles for the layering process. I hunted down some online videos to fill in the details and set about securing the necessary equipment. I added pool noodles to the grocery list, which caused the DH some head scratching moments when he was out doing the shopping. In the meantime, I hit the local home improvement store and picked up some 7 foot pre-primed trim boards.  I went with the seven foot length, as they will fit into my truck easily.  I also grabbed some wood dowel rods to put into the center of the pool noodles for stability sake.

Supplies in hand, I head to the Michigan House so that in the event of an epic failure, I could always fall back on the floor. Literally. I also brought along a 3 x 6 foot table to layer on & a large roll of painters tape, again just in case I ended up on the floor.

Since I had three quilts that needed to be layered, I started with the Construction Equipment quilt, so I could work out the kinks.  Of all the current projects, this would be the most forgiving to work on - large pieces with fewer seams. Very straight forward indeed.

Based on the 64 x 84 inch size of the top, I started with the board method.  In the video, they recommend starching the heck out of both the top and backing.  Nope - that's a definite no-go on the two large quilts.

It worked fairly well.  I did notice a tiny bit of backing fabric distortion as I rolled it up.  I wonder if my boards have a slight warp to them. I did eyeball them when I purchased them but I'll need to check them against a level.  The DH has offered to round over the sharp edges so they match the beveled edges.

The two large quilts got layered.  The third - the Solstice Quilt - was still in process of being pieced.  When it's done, I'm planning on trying out the pool noodles for layering that one as it only measures 21 x 24 inches.  It has a TON of seams so it will be a different experience.

But all in all, I'm OFF the floor!!  Now I need to find a fun, new laptop skin.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

This Blog Has Been Rudely Interrupted

By the untimely demise of my trusty, Toshiba laptop. 
After seven years of faithful service, it is worn out and ready for retirement. 

And I need to find a suitable replacement. ARGH!!!
Normally, my shopping maven gene kicks right in and off I go. This will be a little trickier. 

I do have it narrowed down so hopefully I'll be back to blogging very, very soon. Things have been happening in the studio! And I'm anxious to share them.
See you all soon!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Van Gogh Challenge - Cow Parts

Up now - Cow Parts!
Tracing pattern pieces to the back of the fused fabric

Cutting, cutting, cutting!

I started from the 'back' to the 'front' fusing the pieces down.

I like having the drawing on the floursack to help with the alignment of pieces to fuse.

Looks kind of funny 

but neat to see the cow come to life.

And there it is - a blank cow! That's as far as I got while in Switzerland.   The was rolled up & brought home in this state.  I've have more progress to show after the last few weeks work.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Van Gogh Challenge Story - The Beginning.

In order to tell this story on this quilt, we need to travel back in time. 

 February 2017: Van Gogh in Switzerland

I only took two fabric projects with me when I was stationed in Lucerne.  The most important one was the Cherrywood Van Gogh Challenge project.

I knew from the beginning this was going to be a raw edge fused wall hanging. I LOVE Cherrywood hand dyes for fused work.  I began by searching the Van Gogh museum online, searching for inspiration.  It took a while. I wasn’t looking for irises, 




or landscapes. After spending a good amount of time on the online Van Gogh gallery site, I finally found just the painting for me.

 August 1883, The Hague, Netherlands.
Vincent Van Gogh painted ‘Lying Cow’, oil on canvas.  This painting is now in a private collection in France.

I love the blue hues of the challenge pack. It is a requirement of the challenge that your piece must be 75% of the challenge pack colors, with the entire front to be composed entirely of Cherrywood fabric (the exception being white as they don’t dye white fabric) No problem for me – I have Stash!

However, in an effort to converse fabric, I need to come up with a base fabric to fuse to, rather than construct the pieces jigsaw puzzle style, where each piece has an underlip on certain edges.  But not muslin. Something lighter, but not having an open weave. Something I had on hand. Something 100% cotton, light colored so I could trace on it, without any finish that would impede the fusing and preferable already the right size to work on.

Okay – don’t laugh!  I know that’s a lot of requirements but I have Stash and am determined to use it.  Trouble is, that stash is 95% batiks and hand dyed fabric, which I was trying to conserve.  It took me a bit of brainstorming but eventually, viola! A flour sack towel!  I had bought a few of these at Yoder’s Department Store in Shipshewana awhile back with no idea I’d be using one of them for a quilt base.  It turned out to be just the thing!  And yes, I will be buying a few more whenever I end up back that way next.
Using 'Lying Cow' as my inspiration, I sketched out the cow just the head and shoulders, for my challenge quilt. Then I traced it so I could produce a paper pattern to cut apart.  Then I traced it again, on the flour sack towel. 

One of the hardest things to do was to limit my palette as I couldn’t carry all my stash with me so some ruthless decision making was done. In a way, it was good because there was no dithering about which shade of pink/coral/blush/rose the tongue would end up. Decide & move On! became my motto.  It worked!

I quickly narrowed the background down to three (3) greens.

Those were cut out and hand stitched in place to conserve (there’s that word again) the fusible I had on hand.  

I didn’t have time to even begin to try to track down WonderUnder 805 in Switzerland.

Up next - cow parts.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Quilting Getaway - Saturday

*** Note: This post should have went live last Friday, 19 May - not sure what happened.

A little slower start today.  I was battling a sinus headache.  While waiting for the meds to kick in and clear the cobwebs, I cooked a lovely breakfast,

and pulled Walter out of his case.  I haven't touched him since he came back from his tune-up.  Hmm, not the best way to handle machines. 

While the test stitch piece under the needle looked okay - the proof in always in the pudding. 

And the first lines, were NOT up to scratch and there was an excess of oil about.  Some tweaking of the upper tension and I had a much better stitch out. I need to grab a long strip and open Walter up full throttle but instead I switched out to Workhorse as I wanted to get on to the Van Gogh challenge quilt.

In order to tell the Van Gogh story, I'll need to go back a few months and start at the beginning.  I hope you don't mind coming along on a trip down memory lane. It's time to share the story.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Quilting Getaway - Friday

Friday dawned sunny & bright.  I had a whole day stretching before me with nothing besides quilting planned.  What a wonderful treat! Okay, to be totally honest, I did have to run to town for a few more groceries - a grand total of a half hour trip. So other than that, the rest of the day was mine.

First up - yet another tracing of the Phoenix. This time it needed to be done in stages to correctly draft the pieces that had other pieces laying on top. 

This is the LAST time I had to draw any bit of this bird - for which I was grateful!

After that, scissor time!  I ended up with this:

Isn't that a lovely pile of paper spaghetti?  Technically, I now had to draw around each paper piece on the back of the fused fabric - but that was the LAST time I had to draw any bit of this bird.

I was so into the zone, I missed taking some shots of the progression - fusing the fabric, drawing the pieces, cutting them all out & working out their placement. I can tell you it took almost all day to get through these steps. 

By evening, I had this:

And right after I had fused everything I noticed the problem with a feather placement - 1 feather was not where it should have been. There is no way to unfuse, so I had to patch over a bit & cover the mistake.  

That & some thread work should minimize the error.  I can live with that.  The alternative would be to redo the entire phoenix and potentially have more issues.  Nope - I'm good and pleased.  

This block needs to have setting triangles added as Part One (February) instructions.  Parts Two - Four (March - May) will need some thought and design work but nothing as complicated as this. At least, I hope so!  One never knows where things like this end up. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Quilting Getaway - Thursday Evening

Thursday Day - Work, Plumber, Work.
Thursday Evening - Quilting!  I started on the Phoenix Challenge piece. 

First up - coloring. I have 7 shades ranging from yellow to dark red that need to be worked in the phoenix. It only took three tries to get a version I was happy with. Third times a charm!

Then I took some time to work out the plan - coding and numbering the pattern pieces. Breaking them out by color and tagging the drawing. 

And I came to a startling discovery. The phoenix has 59 pieces!  That's a lot of pieces to insure proper fit, almost blindly on a black background, and fuse all at once. It was about that time, I called it quits for the day rather than risk making a late night mistake.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Quilt Project Alone Time!

This week I am revisiting the inner works of the Michigan House, i.e., the Plumbing!

The original plan was to set up the appointment and have my Dad be onsite for a few days to coincide with the appointment. Then the Plumber bills me & I write the check – a simple, easy, straight-forward plan.

Then the wheels fell off the bus. Or rather, more accurately - the arterial stent got displaced. 

Dad is fine – just had some chest pain, went to hospital, got admitted, and discovered a stent (1 of 5) that was placed just last year in the back of the heart got displaced & was restricting blood flow.  It happens.  The doctors went in & placed another stent right below the displaced one. However, Dad is on restricted activity.  I decided he is NOT allowed to be at the Michigan House right now, especially not alone.  Since this was not going to be a popular decision, I circumvented the ensuing discussion on it by simply failing to update Dad on when the Plumber appointment actually is. Sneaky, I know but oh, so necessary.

Luckily, I can work remotely. The New Plan gives me 2 evenings plus 2 whole days of uninterrupted time for Quilting!!! I am thrilled to say the least, and very, very thankful I have this flexibility. 

On the agenda:

The Van Gogh Quilt

It needs to be layered & quilted and possible have more details added in fabric first.  I was brushing my teeth Monday morning, when an idea popped into my head.  Have to go digging into the Cherrywood stash drawer & see what I find before I can audition the background embellishment idea further. It may come to nothing and I revert back to what I have planned.

The story of this quilt is almost ready to shared.

The Construction Equipment Quilt

It needs to be layered & quilted. The quilting will be straightforward and utilitarian and it’s meant for using by a four year old, which means washing machine & dryer stable.  I figure this will be a break from the Van Gogh quilt if I run into a creative brain cramp.  It happens – I acknowledge that sometimes things need to percolate a bit and occur in the right time.

The Phoenix quilt

Center block needs constructing, then set on point with black background and three more months directions I didn’t have yet.  The other day, DH very nicely stopped in the LQS, with written instructions in hand, and picked them up.  They are very straight forward after I get the center block done, though there is still some design work.  Good thing cause this is going to be tricky.  Fortunately, I've packed some lovely cider to take along. 

I am ambitious trying to get a LOT of quilt work done in my little time away.  Fingers crossed!

UPDATE:  DH has a new vehicle - a 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan SE Plus.  It's his first ever new, new car!

And just in the nick of time!  The old one was trying it's best to stall at stoplights on the way to the dealer and the 'check engine' light came on, too.  We had to buy something Tuesday night because we were 100% certain his old car would make it back home.  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Adventure with the DH

What’s it like car shopping with the DH? 

It’s like taking a kid to a candy store & having him run amok!

Well, almost.  The time has come to retire his well-loved 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. It has served him well over the past 8 years.

The biggest hurdle we face, besides remaining within budget, is that the DH is not exactly set on what kind of vehicle he wants at this point in his life.  Previously, when he was working and driving on average of 100 miles a day, small, cheap & fuel efficient where the main criteria. 

Now that he is effectively medically retired, it’s a new ball game – one in which the parameters are broader and somewhat undefined. Great!

Thankfully, he has finally given up on the idea of a zoom-zoom car (fast, small, sporty and dangerous) He wants something that can haul wood (including full sheets of plywood) or 5 guys with gear for a trip away, not too large, not too small, fuel efficient, used but not old or with too many miles, new if not terribly expensive (HA!),  equipped with a roof rack if small or large, and maybe can be used as a tow vehicle (for what, I am afraid to ask!).

Needle, haystack, unicorn - you get the picture. 

Because he is being open to whatever we stumble across in our search, we haven’t quite decided on a make or model, though I believe after last Sunday’s outing searching car lots while they were closed, we are getting there! We have narrowed the field considerably.

He truly needs a minivan. 

The very same type of vehicle he made fun of me driving back in 2001 when we met. A soccer mom vehicle, he called it. A comment for which I promptly whacked him upside the head for…on our first date.  I drove a 1998 Ford Aerostar – yes, a minivan but it was built on a truck chassis.

Loved that truck!  Drove it into the ground.

Hopefully, he finds whatever it is he needs to have vehicle-wise and soon, as it is making him anxious.  And I refuse to spend the next month car shopping. There is Quilting to do!