Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NOW it's done!

I can't believe tomorrow is November 1st already!  October just got here, didn't it?
I have one more of these calendar quilts to do.  I will be so happy to have this project ( for I have thought of it as one long project) finished at last!!  The November one almost didn't make it.  The fabrics I chose for the turkey all looked fine laid out on the table, but the one tail feather didn't look right after I got it all fused. It still doesn't make me happy. I stamped it, I rubbed ink on it, I colored it with watercolor crayons- which only served to highlight the seam in the background.  But I decided I could live with it.  So I finished it.  I practiced feathers in the tail.  Turns out my fussy machine loves invisible thread.  That's all well and good if all you want is texture.  But I'm the kind of person who figures if I'm doing all this great quilting, it should show up! That's why I like the heavier threads.  (sigh)

Somewhere in July, I think, I hinted at a project I was working on that was in need of a lot of work.  It is finally ready to be revealed.
The "ArtCGirlz"- the small art group we formed a few years back- decided to do a round robin at the beginning of this year.  We were to bring in anything we wanted for the others to play with.  I had recently decided this old whole cloth piece needed a new life.  I made it back in the early 90's as a way to improve my hand quilting.  It was a lovely pearl grey then.  But hanging on walls, then laying on table tops faded it to an odd pinkish color I really hated.  So I had already started playing with it when the round robin came up.  I found this picture in a magazine and decided to use this as my inspiration ( minus the yellow)
Sadly no pictures of this piece exist before it was altered.

My only rule was that the existing quilting should remain the major design element.

So this is what it looked like when I got it back after the 5 other members of my group had their turn with it.  In the little journal that went around with it, they all said the same thing- how they thought it was so pretty and they didn't think it "needed" much done to it.  Clearly they didn't get how much I disliked it the way it was. 
So, Mary Ellen painted in the corners for me,  Susan added the line of stitching just inside the binding, Elaine added some beads in the feathers, Chris gave it some sparkle with crystals and Lori beaded small fans in the center.  Well, that was a nice start......

But I didn't want that grey at all!!  So here is the finished piece.  I colored the fans in some more, decided the green was weak and added more green- paintstiks I think- using the same paint on the loops in the feathers just to give them some color.  Elain'e beads didn't show much, so I colored behind them, then decided the rest of the "rope" quilting needed something.  First I colored it with a watercolor pencil.  That didn't do much.  So I couched a cool thread with bead and then couched another one with sparkle thread.   Using Lori's fans as my model, I added more beads around the edges. I had thought to add seed stitching all over it as a background, but the green didn't do much on the grey, so I found a wonderful sparkle netting and stitched that over the whole thing, cutting away selected parts.  I decided to try the "kantha" style of stitching Kathi uses so successfully in her work.  (and doesn't that look SO cool on the back?)  To cover the binding, I couched a chenille yarn with some rayon floss.
For a few minutes after I cut away the netting, I thought the grey still showing in the feathers would have to go.  But I  like how it looks kind of lacey!

I tried new things on this piece, always thinking I had nothing to lose because I didn't like it.  So it was kind of a "process" piece for me.  And I love the results!  Much better!

I named it "Masquerade!".  That seemed perfect because not only does it have all the sparkle and color one might see at a costume party, but now it's a plain Jane quilt all dressed up for a party.

The lovely sparkle buttons came from India, I think.  I bought them from Priscilla Kibbee several years ago.

It's not all that easy coming up with a "Green Tip" every week.  I keep coming around to the same old things, which all seem like common sense to me.  Sadly, I often feel like the only one.  I go shopping and I see the stores throwing away the garment hangers that used to get used over and over.  Must be the manufacturers are sending the merchandise on hangers now?  Sad!  The price of those hangers- and the cost of disposing of them- goes into the price we pay, you know.  Not to mention the resources wasted in making the hangers.  The waste in the retail industry as a whole is sickening!  But until it becomes more important -for financial reasons alone since that is their only true concern- to them to save than to waste, they will continue
So all I can do is my best- and ask you to do it too!

I am grateful for:
The fact that the hurricane Sandy did only minor damage in our area. (and my heart goes out to those who were not spared!)
The Army maintains a facebook page for basic training so my husband and stepson can track Jake's progress. (and thanks to Kathi for telling me about it)
My kittens are getting healthier!
Apple Crisp
Flannel sheets

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stitches in Time 2012

Well, we had our quilt show, and it was by all accounts a success.  But we are all glad we have two years before we do it again.  Here are a few of the pieces I especially loved.  You can see more by following the link on the Guild's blog post about the show.
The back of Marcia Muskopf's Xcentric quilt
The front of Marcia Muskopf's "Xcentric quilt

 These pictures are of a quilt made from the class we had with Anita Grossman Soloman last October.  When we hung it we weren't sure which was the front since both sides were so  beautiful!

Ann Michaud made this one. I forget the name.

My friend Lori Anderson won Best Landscape quilt for this one!

Machine quilting, small quilt
Two of the pieces I shared in my last post won awards at the show, which was nice. ( I reposted the pictures rather than make you go back to look)
 I always say I don't care about the awards.  But I admit it- I'm always happy to receive one!

Machine Quilting, small quilt

Kathi's Serena Jacket won best quilted fashion
 I was equally happy for my friend Kathi, who won five and my friend Elaine who won three.

Kathi's "Smog" won a judge's choice award
Best of all- Elaine won for a piece she had really struggled with.  How's that for a perfect reward for all her hard work and perseverance?!?
Elaine's quilt formerly known as the monster

A late season Calendula brightening the front porch steps
The day after the show was spent doing a lot of the things I had ignored all week, but yesterday was one of those rare autumn days you have to go outside since you don't want to waste it!

 I took George out with me while I picked up the chairs from the porch and covered my delicate plants.  She has only been out once before and didn't venture very far.  I think she's going to decide she really likes it outside, though.

My green tip this week is perfect for this time of year.  Make sure you aren't paying to heat the outdoors by sealing up those tiny cracks!  Take a close look at places where two different building materials meet, such as corners, around chimneys, where pipes or wires exit and along the foundation.

I am grateful for:
Improved kittens ( don't ask)
The camaraderie at the quilt show!
 Rare sunny October days.
The smell of fresh baked goodies.
I don't have to go back to the dentist now until February!

Monday, October 15, 2012

What I've been doing instead of sewing and a quilt show preview

 These are my newest foster children.  They are all boys and very hard to tell apart.  I gave them all names that rhyme with black- Jack, Mack Zack and Max.  I actually call Mack "Sirius Black"- after the Harry Potter character. He is always escaping from the "nursery".  Sirius is the one with the shortest tail.
 They are perhaps the most affectionate kittens I've had.  They aren't happy unless they are climbing all over me, pushing in front of each other to be cuddled.
 This is my step-grandson, Jake.  He is in basic training right now.  We are all very proud of him!
This was taken at the going away party his parents had  for him last weekend.

This weekend we dug post holes for the lean-to in back of the new garage.  The apparatus behind me is a power auger.  It works great until it hits one of the many rocks inhabiting the lower levels of the ground around our house.  The rocks to the left (below) are the ones Al has already dug out of some of the holes. 

 Here are a few of the pieces I have entered in the Museum Quilt Guild's "Stitches in Time 2012"

There are over 200 pieces entered this year. I'm excited, as always now that show time has arrived!  Even though I have seen many of the pieces at show and tell, I am still amazed and awestruck at the talent on display at these shows!

These are a few of the pieces I am selling at the Guild Boutique- where members sell handmade items.  I always buy more than I sell!

Sorry as always about the spacing.  I can never get things to go where I want therm.

It's fall- and the leaves are suddenly dropping from the trees.  This year, mow them and leave them to nourish your lawn rather than raking them to the curb and sending them to the landfill!  Sorry if this one's a rerun, but if I get just one more person to do it every year, I'm happy to repeat myself!

I am grateful for:
Having time to enjoy being mauled by kittens.
A warm day to get outside and pick up the toys from the garden.
Good football games- even when I didn't care who won!
A good joke to share.
My machine and I are getting along very well today.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Love-Hate Relationship

You may remember how excited I was last year when I got my new sewing machine- the Elna 740- with double the throat space for machine quilting.  Well, the honeymoon has ended.    Don't get me wrong.  I still love this machine.  When it cooperates with me.  But recently- coinciding with a tune-up, which makes me wonder what they did!- we have started to argue over the process of machine quilting.  We've had minor disagreements in the past, but these are knock down drag out brawls!  We're talking UFC quality fights.  And I am the one coming out bruised and battered since the machine always seems to win.

The most recent battle was with this table runner. Looks OK from here, but there are thread breaks and tangles all over it and three or four different threads since I was trying to identify the problem by process of elimination.
  I decided to try some McTavishing on it, since it's just going on the hall table where the cat will lay on it. 

(Here she is taking it for a test drive on the floor!)

 I don't think I did too badly for my first practice piece using the technique.  You just kind of keep making new shapes from the old ones and fill in between, so you have to pay attention to where you've been and which way you were going when you were there. Otherwise, you just go! 
I came  to the conclusion it was the fusible causing me trouble, even though I have made quilts with it before and not had these problems ( Again, I have to wonder what that "tune-up" entailed).  After I finished this I got out another practice piece and had no trouble at all with it. But there was no fusible.

So we're back on speaking terms.  But if I were you, I wouldn't stand outside under the sewing room window- just in case.

My green tip this time is to ask that you not throw electronics of any kind away in the regular trash.  Most of them contain harmful elements  Many computer stores and related businesses will now take these items for proper disposal.  And even then you should ask HOW they dispose of it.  Some who claim to be properly disposing of it are simply shipping it overseas where they have no clean air standards.  The people of these areas are breathing poisoned air from OUR "disposable" society!  If I had MY way there would be "Resource Reclamation Centers" where all consumer goods would be taken to be broken down into their components which would be re-purposed or recycled into new items.   I know I'm a dreamer, but I can't be the only one ( to paraphrase John Lennon)

I am grateful for:
snuggling under quilts now that the nights are cold
Cream of broccoli soup and fresh baked rolls
a room full of the sweetest kittens ever
movies on dvd (about 3 nights a week!)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Calendar quilts again

I managed to get the October calendar quilt finished yesterday- the first of the month.  I am hanging these in my office.  So anyone who pays attention was disappointed.  Since I'm not in on Mondays anyway, hopefully I can be excused.  These are really cute quilts and I've always wanted a quilt for every month of the year.  But these are not the fun easy afternoon's sewing of the calendar series I did last year!  Each of these is around 20 x 28, with pieced backgrounds, machine applique- and the accompanying satin stitching- plus the quilting.  The fact that they are meant to be scrappy makes fabric selection a day's work on its own!  So the novelty wore off for this project around June.  I am SO glad I only have two left to do.  IF I do a calendar series next year - and somebody slap me if I buy another series of patterns!- they will be coasters or those hexagon mats using seasonal prints!
This one has a set of charm squares  I bought several years ago in the background and border.  The rest of this pack may find their way into the November quilt- already in progress on the design wall!

Otherwise, I haven't done much sewing. I've been spending time in a really good book, Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World. It is the first in a series from Martha Sielman, who also put together the "Masters" art quilts books.  The next one is portraits and is already available for pre-order.  It will feature Kathy Nida , whose blog is one of my favorites (link to the right)

Here's a Green Tip I hadn't thought of before.  How many times do you go out to eat at a place where you know you'll be bringing home leftovers?  It happens to me a lot.  It never occurs to me to bring a container to use for the "bonus meal"- until now!  You may be a bit embarrassed the first time, but not only are you saving the planet just a little, but you're saving the restaurant some money.  So be proud of yourself!

I am grateful for:
Quality family time
The last sunny days of summer to enjoy.
A kitty curled in my lap.
Good days for baking
Sleeping in on a chilly morning.