Thursday, October 1, 2015

Worn Out and Loved

That title could describe me to a T but I'm talking about quilts, hah! Don't you love old things? (Again, I could be talking about myself; I just had another birthday!) I could not resist buying this old tattered-on-the-edges crib quilt recently, mostly because it has simple pink and brown nine patches and a pale blue striped backing.  It's very worn out and appears well loved. I'm going to reproduce it in newer fabrics.

The little bird dish was a birthday gift from my daughter. She knows me well. We had a good time during dinner deciding what it should hold after I put it on my sewing desk. Pins? Buttons? Chapstick? Sunflower seeds? M&Ms? Chicken bones? (I was eating chicken.) 

I don't buy a lot of antique quilts because they just cost too much around here but there are some I can't let get away. Sometimes they're raggedy but who cares? It's always the well worn and also well loved look that gets me.

The crib quilt I bought sort of reminds me of the pink and brown quilt I made for my daughter. It's held up well and is getting that faded look because it gets washed a lot. That tiny bit of nail polish hasn't come out.

Another well worn quilt I keep on her bed.

Faded indigo always gets me too.

Doll quilts that were obviously played with quite a bit.

When I reproduce that antique quilt I will probably use some of the same types of prints that I used in my pink and brown shoo fly doll quilt. It's actually more like me - not quite worn out yet and certainly well loved. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Walking My Dog

I meet the strangest people, um lizards,  when I walk my dog.

The day started out nicely enough when I decided to take a short drive to a local conservation area to check out the savanna and get some exercise. I was all excited - Hey, a savanna, and they allow dogs! Who knew what glorious adventures awaited us. "You up for an adventure?" I asked. She seemed pumped. And eager to get there.

DOG is my Co-pilot. (She keeps her eyes on the road for me if I have to send a text . . . JUST KIDDING! I'm not stupid. )

It turned out to be a very quiet, beautiful place to take a walk. 

This particular area contains "600 precious acres of tallgrass savanna, a rare ecosystem. The preserve also includes wetlands, woodlands, prairie and open field ecosystems offering a variety of habitats that attract a diverse bird population." Yeah, birds. No mention of exotic lizards. But they have a Wildlife Discovery Center there too and I guess the "Wildlife" gets antsy if they can't walk around a little now and then.

She can sense something's coming.

This thing was HUGE. Five feet long.

Ugly as sin, too.

At least it was on a leash. But I'm telling you, the thing scared the heck out of me. Upon further inquiry it was determined that this was not your ordinary large lizard - No, it was a celebrity lizard! Imagine! An Asian water monitor generously donated by actor Nicolas Cage. Poor Nick had to travel a little too often for work and  was not able to take proper care of his beloved pet.  So he dumped it here to be with us devoted dog walkers. 

After I got home I looked up Asian water monitors:

"Captive juvenile water monitors will do well on a diet that consists of fish, frogs and an occasional newborn rodent. As adults, water monitor diets can include more rodents and other small mammals, insects, mollusks and fish."  

And what about little black poodles?? Huh? Do they eat them too?  Tomorrow I think we'll stick to the park.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Let Your Creativity Take Over

Have you ever created a design for a quilt or made a certain plan for one and then after you played around with fabrics and settings it turned into something completely different?  This happens to me all the time and I'm guessing I'm not alone. It truly does seem like the quilts always take on a life of their own and turn out the way they want to, not necessarily the way I plan them. What looks good on paper or in my head doesn't always work when I begin to sew the pieces together. This is one of the things I really love about quilting: if you trust your instincts and let your creativity speak to you, you'll almost always be pleasantly surprised at what you can make. 

Using prints that don't match made this simple block a little more interesting. Worked in the rest of the quilt too - I opted for mismatching the setting squares and triangles.

I never know how a quilt will turn out when I begin and I've been known to start over from scratch if I take the wrong road and ignore my instincts (much easier to do if you're making small quilts!)

This month my small quilt groups (Yes! There are 2 groups - Yahoo and Facebook. Take your pick. ) are making small quilts with Double Pinwheel blocks for the September challenge.          

I thought this would be a perfect project to display for fall and since I do not have many quilts in this color range it seemed like a nice challenge for me to work on something a little different. I designed it in nice, warm colors. It looked cute on paper. I poked through all of my brown and green and rust prints and tried to put something together. Here's what I came up with -

Yep. Sorry to disapoint. I really tried. But, no -  this quilt of mine does not not want to be made in fall colors. Indigo kept leaping up out of the scrap box and mixing it up with my pink prints. I guess my mind (or the quilt) was telling me something . . . . Stick with what you like and the creativity will surely follow.  If you're making one of these this month, don't listen to me - make it your own way. Hope I can stay on track and finish this one.  I think it'll be cute. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Tumbling Blocks

One of the most "antiquey" looking quilts I've ever made is the little Tumbling Blocks quilt from my book Remembering Adelia. Remember this one?  Anyone made it? Why not? It's easier than it looks. 

This little quilt was inspired by a large Tumbling Blocks quilt made in the 19th century by President Calvin Coolidge when he was about ten. I saw a photo of that quilt in a magazine and knew I wanted to make a little one for myself. If you've been itching to make a tumbling blocks quilt yourself, this is a good one to try because it's small and easy. It's really a lot of fun and a good way to use up your scraps.

I've hand pieced and hand quilted THREE of these if you can believe it. Not because I was crazy but because I was sending trunk shows to various shops around the country at the time so they could display them and promote the book for me. Sure, it took a little time but they were fun to make and if you haven't hand pieced a quilt yet, try making a little tumbling blocks quilt by hand. It's not as hard as it looks. Remember, I've made three so it can't be that bad.

The instructions in the book are very clear cut and simple. If you prefer to do it on your own, without a pattern, cut diamond shapes from 2-inch scrap strips, lining them up with a 60-degree diamond ruler. There's a pattern for a template included in the book.

Because the blocks are small, it was easier for me to sew the "Y" seams, or set-in seams, by hand. but you can certainly do it on your machine.

If I were going to make another one someday I think I'd like try English paper piecing the blocks.

If you don't feel like making your own, here's a link to buy this antique quilt that's remarkably similar -

                                    full view of Tumbling Blocks antique quilt

                                          Want to try the tumbling block quilt pattern.  Its classic, and gives me the opportunity to use lots of scraps

LLBean used to sell one.

I wonder if Adelia or her daughter ever made a tumbling blocks quilt?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Inspired by Beads

Quilting isn't the only thing that inspires me to be creative. I love playing with beads and have since I was a child.  Two words - Pop beads. Remember? What fun my friend Audrey (NOT Audrey Hepburn) and I had with those in 3rd grade, making things and trading. (Shhh, pretend you don't know how old I am now.)


If you're longing for some retro fun, Hey Viv! is a shop that still sells these.

I, however, have graduated. Not to gems, though. Now I favor turquoise beads combined with silver and natural colored, polished stones. Every now and then, instead of doing the things I'm supposed to be doing or just to take a break from making blocks for a quilt or sewing on a binding. I bring out my bead boxes and fritter the day away making earrings or bracelets. It's very relaxing and I still get my "color fix."

These unique silver beads would look great mixed with any color beads.

I've added a few new things to my Etsy shop so you can see for yourself. (When I was very young, I received much encouragement from my mom and sisters whenever I attempted anything creative - "Oh, Kathleen, it's beautiful!" Hence, the name of the shop. See what happens when someone encourages me?? I believe them.)

FYI - I make custom orders as well and if blue is not your color, e-mail me and I'll see what I can do. 


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