Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My February Finish

I was not going to make any little quilts myself for this month's challenge but those prints were calling out to be used and well, the blocks were already finished so I really didn't have that much to do to pull it all together. My friend Julia offered to do the bindings so I said YES! Now they are done and I can move on to the new quilt for March and try to motivate all of you to get another one completed.

Love the way this one turned out!

This one, not so much . . . Maybe I should have used an inner border or a darker binding. It's just not right somehow. Kind of blah. Maybe the ugly prints aren't ugly enough!

I like the one with the blue border much better than I like the one with the purple border.

But the blocks sure do shine nicely! Didn't expect that.

I gave the blue one to Julia since she's having a stressful time right now getting ready to sell her house. And then move far away from me this summer! Most of her sewing/quilting stuff is packed away and I think she's going through withdrawal. So I let her do the bindings for me because I knew she was itching to get her hands on a needle and her reward was the blue one.

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March 1 will be here in a flash and I will help you get started on the quilt for THAT month. I'm getting excited just thinking about it and if you do not wish to make the quilt the way it is in the  book (Remembering Adelia this time), well, I already have a cool little version in mind for you that will be easy as pie . . . I can't wait to show it to you on Thurs. I'll bet I can get Julia to do that binding too.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Inspired by a Little Snow

I had plans to finish making a reproduction of an antique doll quilt last week but after I wrote about those ugly prints and then played around with them in the Broken Dishes quilt, I got a little off track and just kept going. Isn't is funny how sometimes a quilt just wants to be made no matter what else needs to get done?

I used the excuse of a little bit of snow to stay inside and sew. And not only did I make one, but TWO little Broken Dishes quilts. One has a blue border and I used that muted purple print for the other border. I had a few extra blocks from those prints that were just begging to be useful and shown off in a completed quilt.

They finally found a home.

I quilted them FAST with a simple machine stitch because I knew if I waited to find time to hand quilt them it would probably never happen. It was nice to spend the whole day focused on sewing. And at least now they're just about finished, only have to complete the bindings.

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New quilt of the month (from Remembering Adelia this time) will be announced March 1. Tired of  small quilts yet?  Or are you ready to make another one with me??

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Feb Quilt - Week 3 - On Borders

Time has really flown this month, hasn't it? I hope you've gotten your Broken Dishes blocks pieced together if you are following along in this month's challenge. Some of you have already finished or made the top -  see some photos here on my Flickr group. I think it's great that so many of you made the alternate version with the embroidery or used your imagination and came up with a quilt that is similar to the one in the book but also a little different. That's part of the challenge part, you know. The quilt for next month will also have an alternate version.

To finish up this month's quilt,  you should be putting on the borders if you haven't already done that.

I love making scrappy quilts with simple blocks and lots of different prints. Overall, I think scrap quilts work better if they're kept simple. I will sometimes use a busy print for the borders, but even then I tend to be conservative and so most often go with a smaller print or a calmer fabric so the border doesn't take away from the main part of the quilt and compete for attention. Some quilt borders demand attention.  Decide whether you want the border to shine or the quilt center to stand out. A busy border print may not work very well on this month's quilt so I would recommend something more subdued.

If the blocks in the quilt are rather busy with a lot of different prints and not enought contrast, the eye won't know where to look and will dart back and forth between the center and the border and then get tired and look away. If you use contrast to make the quilt interesting and a few but not too many busy prints, this is what makes us linger on it and then perhaps fall in love with a certain quilt. That's why I chose a relatively non-busy border for my original Broken Dishes quilt. If you are set on using a certain print for your  border, sometimes all you need to do is add sashing to separate the blocks and then you can use your busy border print.

Or, you can do what I did. I was not going to do another broken dishes quilt this month but I came across  my ugly squares from awhile ago -  remember those? Some of them had already been sewn into half-square triangles and then into the blocks.

Please don't e-mail me to tell me that these are not ugly prints. You have your ugly prints and I am entitled to mine : )  They are ugly to me and I would not have bought any of them alone. They came in a packet of pre-cut squares with a lot of really pretty squares and I am trying to make the best of them, LOL. Perhaps an Ugly Quilt challenge someday?

I paired the ugly prints with some pretty ones.

This was a lot of fun and forced me to go "outside my box" a bit, if you will. You see this in antique quilts all the time.

My, they were busy, with all of that "ugly" fabric, so I added setting squares to separate the blocks and this is what it all turned into -  a not-so-ugly quilt!

While the actual top does not look ugly, you can see what I mean about choosing the borders carefully and not using a busy print. Even though I liked these particular prints shown here, you can see that they would not work well in this quilt at all. I get crazy dizzy just looking at it!

The red is much better and perhaps would be okay if I used a dark inner border as well. Still too bright I think.

This purple print is the one I like best. Pretty? Yes, definitely not so ugly. Soft and muted enough so that it doesn't detract from the quilt but lets it "speak" without interruption. And it picks up that other purple in the quilt. Maybe an inner border in indigo.

See what a little separation among the blocks can do? A very good solution for a very busy quilt.

Reminder: You have 9 days and a weekend left before we begin another small quilt for March. That month's quilt will be from my book Remembering Adelia. My feeling is that many of you already have this book, but if you don't, I  have copies available on my website or you can check your local shop or amazon.com. If you do not wish to buy the book, perhaps you can borrow one from a friend? Or maybe get it from the library. I'm looking forward to making another quilt with you!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Remote Country Mansion Night

It's been a busy week and I'm grateful for the weekend. So much for empty nest syndrome - I spent a lot of time with both of my kids this week, my son twice. They might as well be home. Both my son and daughter needed groceries and other things  - sometimes only a mom's help will suffice. The trip to visit the one living in Chicago was relatively easy. There's a Trader Joe's store near where he lives and I do love driving into the city to see him. Piece of cake. Sure, okay, I threw in a nice lunch too, what the heck. I'm so glad he's going to school and living nearby for a change.

Helping the other one took a little longer, LOL. On a whim, I drove up to Wisconsin early Saturday to vist my daughter at college. It was almost like old times -  we had lunch, shopped the mall for new shoes and a dress she needed for a special occasion and laughed a lot. I almost wasn't going to go because it's a several hour drive and with only a few weeks until Spring break I knew I'd see her soon anyway. But there was a little wistfulness in her voice when we talked earlier in the week and I knew the trip would do us both some good. I drew the line at bringing the dog along this time, however.

It was a lot of driving for me in one day and when I came home last night I flopped onto the sofa, flipped some channels and then noticed that Pride & Prejudice was on, the movie from 2005, with Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfayden as Mr Darcy.

It's not my favorite version - I much prefer the 1995 BBC mini-series with Colin Firth.

But the  movie with Keira Knightly is the one my daughter adores and we've watched it together many times. It reminded me of her and, after leaving her yesterday, I ended up feeling a little wistful myself.

I've decided that we both love watching movies that feature remote country mansions. We would like to live in one as a matter of fact, LOL. Watching Masterpiece on Sunday nights on PBS was one of our special times. You can hardly watch that show without seeing some remote country mansion every week. Tonight I'm looking forward to seeing the last episode of Season 2 of Downton Abbey. I hear a Season 3 is in the works. Yippee!

If you haven't seen any of the episodes, HURRY! They're still available on PBS online until March. Might be good idea to try to find and watch Season One first, though. It is that good. More wistfulness -  my daughter and I watched Season One together last year and loved every scintillating minute. I sure do miss her! This time I'll be watching  alone. In the imaginary drawing room of our imaginary remote country mansion.

Will Matthew and Mary finally get together?? Did Mr Bates kill his wife?  I'm tuning in right now to find out . . . . .

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

I thought about working on finishing that little Valentine's Day quilt I started last year but you know how it goes . . . Sometimes  I work feverishly on several projects at once, make the tops and then put them away and nothing gets done, LOL. I remember that some of you actually made this quilt. Let's just say you are doing way better than I am -  See the post from last year with directions to make the blocks.

I took it out this morning. Yep - it's still cute. I really should finish it . . .

Well, at least I got it layered and ready to quilt.  Now that I look at it again I really, really want to finsh it but I have lunch plans with friends today and dinner later with my honey. I know if I put it aside it will still be unfinished this time next year.

Or maybe I should work on this one instead - Gotta finish 'em all!

My new Sewline quilt marking pen arrived.  I waited until today to show it  to you because it's  - RED, LOL. Friends in Iowa told me about this pencil with ceramic lead and I can't wait to try it. Apparently it's not new and many of you use it too. I'm always a little behind on the gadgets thing . . . I bought the one with white lead but I hear there are other colors too. Supposedly it washes out after you quilt your quilt.

So far it seems to work . . . I'll let you know if I actually finish a quilt, LOL.

My stencil collection, ready and waiting.

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On a sad note - This has always been one of my favorite songs. Last night I caught some of the movie on TV, which I hadn't seen in years. Listening to the song this time really brought tears to my eyes.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cabin Fever

What's the best way to get over those cabin fever winter blues? Why, quilt those blues away, of course. Every quilter knows that. I just got back from teaching at the Cabin Fever quilt retreat in Waterloo, Iowa. Such a fun time! Everyone I met was so wonderful and welcoming. I got to reunite with some friends I met the last time I was in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and also meet some new quilting friends. AND see the Civil War  Commemorative Quilt Exhibit, which I will talk about more later this week.

The drive from my home in Illinois to Iowa was strange - dense patches of fog almost all the way. Luckily, we left late in the morning and arrived before nighttime. Lots of fog pictures, I know, but it was all so eerie I couldn't resist showing you.

You couldn't see anything on either side of the road at times. Then the sun would come out and it would be fine.

Crossing the Great Mississippi River

I'm not fond of bridges . . .

Setting up.


Choosing your fabric and playing around with color is sometimes the best part of beginning a project and we left plenty of time for that.


Unlike a class, a retreat is good for working on other projects too. Carolyn brought along her pile of little house blocks.

Karan made this cute little pincushion and thread catcher for Shelly.

Karan made one for me when I was sick last year. 

And now a thread catcher too. Thanks, Karan!

Sheri brought her Dear-Jane-in-progress. Only a few more rows left and then she'll get to the triangles.

Karan made this quilt for her granddaughter from Jo Morton's Peppermint Twist pattern.
Beautiful, isn't it?

I gave a presentation after Show & Tell on Friday evening.

I knew you'd like to see this Schoolhouse quilt (from my Prairie Children book) that Marge made for her mother. In the center is a photo of the actual school her mother attended as a child.

The retreat was a great chance to make some headway on other projects too. Karan is also working on a lovely quilt from another Jo Morton pattern. Love that border print!

Chris brought in a few antique doll quilts to show me.

You don't see many appliqued doll quilts. This one was really special.

Robin's quilt was reproduced from an antique top she found and she tried to match the fabrics to the original. So cute and quirky.

Then, on the second day, everyone worked on the Album quilt from The Civil War Sewing Circle.

The retreat was held at the Grout Museum in Waterloo, which also housed the Civil War Commemorative Quilt exhibit everyone is talking about. Robin, the museum curator (above), allowed me to take photos so I'm working on putting together a slide show of the exhibit for you to see and I will get that up on the blog as soon as I can, maybe tomorrow or Wednesday. It was a good trip and I hope I get a chance to return to Iowa soon. And perhaps take all of you along with me! Wouldn't that be fun?

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In the meantime, are you still working on the Broken Dishes quilt for this month? Cut your pieces and prepare to sew them together this week.