Sunday, March 31, 2013

Challenge Met!

I've spent most of the weekend marathon watching Downton Abbey. As I type, I've got a few more minutes of Season 3, Episode to go. (BTW, I love it!). But I've got to say, someone made a comment in my FB page about how sad the ending of this season is, so now I cringe at every little possible chance for someone to die ... hit in the head with a cricket ball... James hanging himself....Thomas killing Mr. Bates....Alfred killing Thomas...although with Sybil's death, I don't know how much sadder it can get..oh wait...we can kill off Matthew...yep, that's probably it---CRINGE!

Anyway....enough of the Downton obsession..

The challenge piece is done. My favorite part is two-tone border/binding.

There's some bead trim.

And some couching.

And some metallic thread.

Which didn't yield the most consistent quilting.
But it's done, just needs a label.
Enjoy your week!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Little Less Challenging Now, Wouldn't You Say?

Most of today was spent in the studio playing with the 'Challenge' quilt. This is what's on the design board right now, and I'm feeling pretty good about it. In fact, I'm feeling downright righteous about this piece.

I hope to finish this puppy up tomorrow and move on to scalloping Vintage Rouge borders (unbelievably, the scallop template arrived in the mail on Thursday--hats off to the US Postal Service).

I took a well-deserved break tonight. Once the hubs came back from an afternoon golfing, I was reassured that he could fend for himself with leftovers in the fridge, while keeping a watchful eye on the 3 dogs currently in residence (Ricky's spending Spring Break with the grandparents) and I took off with my neighbor (also a quilter) on a Powerball ticket run (girl's gotta find some way to pay for a long-arm), which turned out be an exercise in futility (I did not win). Afterwards, we decided to grab dinner and a couple of Brewskis since we were out. That was fun distraction from the work at hand.

We picked up a couple of chocolate eclairs at the grocery store bakery on our way home, and retired to her house to gorge ourselves on the eclairs and wash them down with a bottle of Cupcake Red Velvet wine. Oh, and we talked quilting smack all night. All in all, a lovely girls' night out, and an opportunity for some down time.

Tomorrow I need to kick it back into gear...quilting, cleaning, cooking, 'taxing'. No rest for the wicked, for sure.

Hope you're able to enjoy a relaxing Palm Sunday and take some time to do what refreshes and rejuvenates you.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Sister, I Think I'll Keep Her

I love my sister. Not only did she drive us to Lancaster for the AQS show last week, but look what she gave me.

Yes, that is a metal tin that contains 16 dupioni silk fat quarters, and a pattern to go with them.

Aren't they just luscious? I have to open the tin and run my fingers across them every day.
And I think I see something in my Kaffe Fassett stash that would be the perfect backing. One more fun project to look forward to.

But next up has to be either the pineapple quilt

Or the Indigo Quilt

Hmmm...I think I'm going to need to repaint the bedroom (and consequently, the master bath) to something neutral that can handle all the color variation in my upcoming projects. Hmmm....I wonder if my sister likes to paint. (Kidding, Sandy!--what about Scott?).
It's almost the weekend! Do you have your projects planned?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Challenge Number Two

Okay, so every quilt show our Guild has two challenges. One is the AQS National challenge, which I don't even bother with, as I simply am not worthy. The second challenge is sponsored by one of the vendors at our show and it's called 'The Bloomin' Challenge'-- I've finally figured out that 'The BLOOMIN' Challenge' really has nothing to do with flowers (took me 3 years--I'm a little slow to pick up on life's subtle nuances sometimes).
About 6 months prior to the quilt show, (and no, we do not wish to explain why I wait until 1 month before the show to even start thinking about this), we get a little packet with 3 fat quarters, each of which must appear on the front of the quilt in a recognizable amount. Maximum size is 160" perimeter--so a 40x40 wallhanging or table quilt is what I strive for.
In the past I have liked the challenge fabrics. In fact, I've liked them so much that I've purchased extra. There's been so much love that my entire quilt tops have been made of nothing but challenge fabric. Has this won me any prizes? No. The pieces that usually win are those really creative artsy kind of quilts that are mostly made of lovely coordinated fabric with just the right amount of challenge fabric to cover the rules.
Anyway, I digress. Getting back to the challenge at hand, let me just say that this years fabrics are pretty hideous.
You can see how I thought that this fabric might have been handprints when I saw the folded fat quarter. Then I opened it and saw the dinosaur footprints and stars and tulips. And that color? It is unaffected by the flash of the camera or the indoor light....what you see is what you get. Interesting, no?.
Next we have this beauty. I don't get it, it's kind of an  M.C. Escher before the drugs kicked in print. I will tell you that the theme of the challenge is 'Geometry', which is where that must have come from. I cannot imagine how anyone would have used this fabric in anything other than a men's short sleeve, button down, polyester bowling shirt circa 1957.

Finally, we have chicken scratch. Nondescript beige with tan scratchy lines throughout. It lends a painful, discordant contrast to the other two fabrics.

Now I'm not the kind of girl that's gonna miss the bus three days in a row. Twice, okay....but not three times. So this time I wised up and tossed in a couple of solids to detract from the sheer hideous-ity of the challenge fabrics. And while I'm not an art quilter (refer to previous posts on Suz  Zwizzle, Art Quilter), I had to find some way to make a competitive 'geometric' quilt, so I fell back on my conversion quilt skills)

And then to be just a tad arty, yet still constrained by 'geometry' (as defined by a math-challenged person), I found a little spool of metallic gold iron-on bias tape in a drawer and went to town. I'm pretty pleased with myself, so far. (What is with my affinity for shiny, sparkly things?)

Before we crack open the Cristal, we need to acknowledge that one of the challenge fabrics is missing. I thought about using a black binding and adding the tiniest little beige flange around it that I could get away with. However, I don't want to take the chance that it's 'nonrecognizable' in the quilt top and be disqualified, so my back-up plan was to make these (call me crazy) 1/2" precision-pieced 36-patch blocks that incorporated the missing challenge fabric.

My intent is to set these in the quilt border, ON POINT (cue maniacal laughter here). I have no sure idea of how to accomplish this, and it's definitely going to finish with a LOT of seams in that border if left to me to figure out, so let me just say that any instruction/advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

At this point I'm telling myself that it's Geometric--albeit LOOSELY---hey, it's got squares and lines (and hopefully a couple of diamonds), and I'll quilt it with some diagram-ish patterns.  I don't expect my effort to win any prizes.  It's just all about the journey. We all need to be challenged sometimes. Especially those of us that are usually the ones dishing out the challenges :)

When all is said and done, this little quilt will add some color to my daughter's classroom as a table quilt (which is where last year's challenge quilt wound up). And I'll have had some practice piecing, and quilting, so it's all good.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Coming Up for Air


Since last we spoke, I was headed off to a class with Karen Kay Buckley (who, btw, loved my needlebook from the previous post). It's amazing how you can be in a class for 6 hours and hardly accomplish anything. In fact, the blossom you see above was not completed in class, only the background, the binding around it and the cut off leaf at the top happened in class.
Karen uses the Thermoweb stencil method (spray starch and iron over). I've done this with freezer paper and I'm just not patient enough to want to spend all that time prepping before I sew. I gave it the old college try and spent an hour prepping a few of those petals, and then I asked myself if I was certifiably crazy, and in determining that I was not, I tossed those in the trash and cut new pieces for needleturn. Ha ha! What was I thinking?!  My curves were less than smooth, with little jagged points everywhere. Defeated, I tore it all off and went back to my stencil brush in spray starch.
The applique novelty quickly wore off as the deadline for the Guild's quilt show loomed.
For the past two weeks I have been locked in mortal combat with Vintage Rouge. That quilt must be snacking on ice cream and chocolate and chips once I finally go to bed, because it just kept getting heavier and heavier, making it quite difficult to maneuver through the old domestic sewing machine. I imagine that this exercise was much like wrestling gators in the Everglades.
But  persistence prevailed

All the while I'm wrestling with this under the needle I am praying to the Longarm Gods to drop a stitch-regulated, computer assisted machine in my living room while I sleep. No luck there. So I went and bought a couple of Powerball tickets...won 8 bucks. I guess one could say 'well, that's a start', and yes, it most certainly would be a 'start', if I were going to live for another 150 years.
I'm over the fact that the echo quilting isn't perfectly spaced, that I gave up burying thread tails after about 300 or so of those and just started anchor stitching and snipping, that some of my tiny stippling runs into each other, and that there's a little wrinkly-ness in those corner block hearts....211,781 stitches later, I'm calling it DONE!

What's that? It's not finished, you say? You're right. I just can't let go--I've decided that I want to do a semi-scalloped binding on the upper right and lower left corners. And since I need to do it PERFECTLY (laughter of a madwoman heard here), I'm waiting 9-14 business days for a template to arrive that I ordered last night. Hmmm.....quilt show turn-in is April 20th. If I'm lucky, said template will arrive the week before turn-in. (More likely, said template will arrive on April 19th.). Hopefully I'll take advantage of these next few weeks spent waiting to make and affix a label and a temporary hanging sleeve to this quilt. Note, I said HOPEFULLY.

Tucker is not impressed.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The 3-day Needlebook

I've had a hankerin' to make a pretty little needle book for quite a while now. So a couple of days ago I rummaged through my wool drawer, grabbed some Aurifil 12 wt. cotton thread (Love!), and started on my needlebook.

A little applique, some blanket stitching, a few beads here and there and some well-placed rick, and.....


I knew that I wanted to embellish each page, which took me all day to figure out and find things I could use for this without making a trip to the fabric shop. In hindsight, those pages would have been just fine sans ribbons and buttons.

At any rate, I finished it up just around 7:30. I'm happy with it, and I'll enjoy using it tomorrow in my Karen Kay Buckley workshop--which I am totally packed up and ready for--counting the hours.
I did stop to enjoy a celebratory dirty martini as I contemplated the huge mess I made while working on this small project.
I think I'm going to need another.