Monday, December 30, 2013

Honeycomb prep

This Sunday in the Modern Minis class that I've been teaching all year, we're finally getting to the hexagon honeycomb project that's on the book cover. This pattern uses six solids and six prints, so I'm using a length of a fruity-bright P&B Nuances fabric that I bought just for this project:
This fabric is printed with six strips of color running lengthwise, so it's absolutely perfect for this pattern. Instead of buying six separate one-yard cuts, I cut the four yards of my single fabric into six separate 5-1/2" strips. For the skinny background sashing strips, I'm using the rest of my orange squiggly Architextures fabric:
The pattern for the quilt calls for sixty one-inch strips, but I have found that Hartman's patterns tend to be a little on the wasteful side and, since I will have no use for a bunch of leftover one-inch strips, I have decided to cut just 32 strips to get started. I'm sure I'll need a few more, but not 28 more.

After I finished the Week 5 mystery units, I got a nice start on sewing the sashing strips onto the solids and cutting triangles:
The second-darkest segments are all cut (center), and the sashing strips are added to the other four colors. Time to cut triangles!
I worked through the entire set of the darkest shade, along with the coordinating print, and even assembled those half hexagons:
The violet half-hex units are pieced and ready for final assembly.
By the time Sunday rolls around, I should have most of this finished up and ready to assemble. I'm planning to leave just enough of the work unfinished so I can use it as class samples. Still loving all these 60-degree angles!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Celtic Solstice: Week 5 units

Finished these Week 5 units in the nick of time for the Patriots game (go Pats!), and there's still another seven hours of football/sewing time! Woohoo!

I pieced these the regular rotary way, but I may consider using the special ruler if I ever find myself doing zillions of little triangles again...lots of the other mystery solvers seemed to find it very useful.
Cute little split-triangle units
Running total: 458 + 75 = 533. Maybe one more week of piecing before we start assembling the pieces? The homestretch is so exciting...

Check out the other posts at Bonnie's weekly link-up!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mommy's new toy

My boys surprised me on Christmas morning with a whomping big triangle ruler, cleverly wrapped so I had no idea what was inside:
"3PO, what can it BE?"
More 60-degree angles!!! I whisked all the Christmas guests out of the house as soon as possible (just kidding, guests, it was a great day!); with the children all nestled snug in their newly restocked Lego and book supplies, and a kitchen full of leftovers, I immediately set to slicing. I took a hiatus for a wedding rehearsal on Thursday evening, and finished piecing these huge simple blocks with only minutes to spare before leaving for the wedding on Friday afternoon. (If you're feeling like hating on me for this insanely fast turnaround time, maybe it will help to know that the blocks aren't sewn together yet -- I'll do that as soon as I can stick them up on a wall for easy rearrangement.)
Chopsticks pattern by Jaybird Quilts.
I plan to use tomorrow, the last football marathon of the season, to whip together this week's mystery quilt units.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Celtic Solstice: Weeks Two, Three, and Four

Having now completed my Buddy-the-Elf I-got-a-full-forty-minutes-of-sleep! phase of the year, which included an unscheduled 500-mile drive to Pennsylvania for a really terrific family holiday and a football game (of all things), I actually have a few moments to try to catch back up with the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt. It feels like the pieces are absolutely microscopic, but I think it's going to be a pretty neat quilt once it's all together.

The Week Two chevron units were devilishly grueling. Most of the time that it takes to cut 600 pieces involves ironing the heap of jumbled bits that are tossed into my color-sorted scrap bins. This is what the bins look like when I start:
It took forever to tame the scraps into these little bits.
The directions for piecing these chevrons were very easy to follow, but the season being what it is, I only finished piecing and pressing the seams just this morning. I suppose they do look different than flying geese, but it bothered me that there was so much fabric waste. I will be interested to see the finished pattern so I can think about why they were pieced thusly instead of as twin sets of flying geese, which I can make with no waste.
Does it really matter??
Anyone want a pile of tiny triangles?

Finished chevron units. They're pretty, but time-consuming.
The Week Three diamonds didn't take nearly as long, although the Pittsburgh trip kept me from doing them right away.
Finished pinwheel units.
The fourth set of directions came out just before the final gift-stitchery weekend, so she made it pretty easy. Four patches? No problemo! These went together so quickly that I had time to catch up on the chevrons and finally take photos to get this post up for the Link-Up before the next set of directions is posted tomorrow.
120 four-patch units.
I love how all the colors of all these tiny pieces look stacked in their UFO box:
The collection of all the bits so far looks like a box of candy!

Math geekery: We need 625 3" units to make a 75 x 75" quilt. So far we have 96+92+100+50+120=458, which leaves 167 more units (although some of that area could be borders, which would throw off my calculations). What will tomorrow bring??

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Celtic Solstice: Week One units

Cutting and stitching and pressing and trimming...these are a few of my favorite things... Actually, the trimming isn't that fun -- I can't trim 188 units in one evening, but I got the first 50 or so done tonight. That pace should have me ready for the next clue on Friday.

Here's what I've got so far (trimmed units on the board, scraggly units-in-waiting piled up in front):

Week 1 triangle-in-a-square units
This photo also gives a pretty true representation of the new color on the walls in the family room (which I, of course, think of as my "studio"). This is a really cheerful and well-lit place for making things! The color is called "Luscious Lips" which really cracks me up; it makes me think of this:

Now I really need to dive into Anna's "country music" journal page, which is hanging me up a little because I don't really like ANY modern country music, and I'm torn between kind of funny choices or more serious/artistic ones drawn from a previous generation of songs...

Friday, November 29, 2013

Celtic Solstice: A Bonnie Hunter Mystery

I had a lot of success with last year's mystery quilt (still unquilted, for those keeping score) that Bonnie Hunter provided, so what the heck -- I'll give this year's a try too. I really like the cheerful color palette that she chose:

Although the instructions specify a mix of print-on-white fabrics as the background of this quilt, I don't have a lot of those shirting-style fabrics (and I don't particularly like them), so instead I'm using a 2-yard cut of a great multicolored dot; all four of the paint chips looked really nice sitting on it:

The first "clue" came out this morning, and it was a doozy. I have been spending most of my time making quilts with really BIG pieces that showcase the awesome contemporary prints on the market these days, but this was the exact opposite. I'm considering it a chance to clear out some space in those ever-deepening scrap bins. Cutting all the little pieces for the first clue took over five (!) hours, and I still haven't started stitching the 188 units.

92 3.5" orange triangles -- so pretty in the morning sunshine!
These ones took forever - 188 pairs of blue side triangles
All 564 pieces fit neatly onto my little mat. The stacks of sorted blue triangles are fairly precariously balanced.
 Anyone else stitching along on this project?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Color Journals: Harpa for Sue (finished)

After my previous post about starting Sue's journal page, I decided to wait until after our group's meeting to post more photos -- it's more fun to do the "Big Reveal" in person! These meetings are very exciting -- Lisa made a glorious orange dahlia page for my orange hexagon book...although I had a chance to look at it, I can hardly wait (over a year!!) to get the finished book back here so I can just sit and pore over every page for hours and hours. In the meantime, my next assignment is to make a rust-colored page for Anna T's "Country Music" journal.

"Memories of Iceland" for Sue K. (14 x 15.5")

Piecing and quilting detail

I made some runes with Sculpey -- these are the runes that say "Iceland" (at least according to the T-shirt that we bought!).

The Vegvisir is a magic symbol that prevents the wearer from becoming lost. I hand embroidered this on a scrap of Belgian linen.

For the back of the page, I made a Metropolis block using a very pretty selection of map and Celtic-inspired fabrics in the gold/teal/green colors that Sue requested.

I used a light strip for the last segment so I had a place to sign the page.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Slapdash project

We spent the last week repainting the family/sewing room, so my supplies have been largely out of reach and out of commission. I'll post some photos of the new setup once we get it a little more back in order -- it's a really fantastic space to spend creative time in!

I done had a powerful hankerin' to make something new, so late last night I started whacking up some fabrics to make a Crime Wave quilt. Love the name, love the free-form concept, love her samples in the American Quilter magazine article that I picked up at Lisa's yesterday. I stayed up until midnight making the chunks, then left everything sitting on the cutting table overnight.

After the requisite amounts of readin', ritin', and 'rithmetic this morning, Cedric helped me arrange the segments on an ersatz design wall (actually just a fleece blanket hanging over the back of the couch), and this is what we ended up with:

Not too bad for a first try, I think. Linus really likes it because he's partial to autumn colors; Cedric is particularly pleased that I let him sew some of the straight seams to put the pieces together. He wants to call it "Slapstick Spectacular" or something like that. I thought he meant slapdash, but no -- he wanted to make a reference to the kind of humor where people hit each other. Ah, those boys...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Petticoats and Polio

This pattern goes together so quickly...maybe two evenings to cut the pieces, a few more to piece the blocks...VoilĂ ! Gotta love those lucky ladies with all their fancy modern conveniences!!

"Petticoats and Polio" (60 x 72, Avalon pattern by Elizabeth Hartman)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Color Journals: Harpa for Sue

I have Sue's color journal this month, and she has selected the theme of travel for her book, using rich golds and teals as her base palette. She asked us each to create a page of a place we have been to, or a place we dream of visiting, or even a mode of transportation.

For about two years (and two months) I have been wanting to make a quilt project inspired by the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik. The entire building is constructed of hexagonal and diamond-shaped panes of glass, build right on the sea to reflect the waters swirling around it. The inside was also breathtaking, with light bouncing everywhere in 16.9 million different colors and heavy black (hexagonal!) columns as interior walls, designed to look like the basaltic columns created by the volcanic geology. Before I saw this incredible structure, I hadn't ever really paid much attention to architectural design, but this just sang to my heart!
Harpa Concert Hall (Reykjavik, Iceland), interior view
So, for Sue, I am making a tiny version of Harpa. I drafted and cut the paper shapes this afternoon. Time for more fabric wrapping!
English paper-piecing units for Sue's Harpa Concert Hall journal page.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ravens, Quilting Begun

Jen's raven table topper is all basted up and has been a great wall decoration for this halloween season. I used the football day (go Pats!) to quilt it. I put some feathers in the center, up to the part where the ravens begin, then I skipped the ravens and did some curls in the outermost regions of the Nevermore fabric. The batik got a nice straight-line treatment, but the big wreath of feathers in the outer grey border segment came out really fantastic, which I DO say so myself! It's a little dark to get a photo of the full project, but here's a detail shot that shows just a segment of each section.

My nine-year-old is increasingly jealous that this one will get a new home. I am trying to think of something to make him for yule using the raven fabric.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Embroidering after dark

Staying up a little late (even for me) tonight embroidering runes on velvet for a certain nine-year-old's costume. It's (supposed to be) the name of his (current) favorite Magic (: The Bickering) character.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Revisiting hexagons

Using a nifty little Fiskars paper punch that makes a hex with a 1" side, I have started wrapping yet another set of hexes, this time using only batiks. It's a great little project to take in the car or to swim meets. I'm just getting started, so this is all I have so far.

1" batik hexes...such a pretty little rainbow!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Another new one!?!

Despite my best intentions of quilting the tops that are waiting upstairs (and a marathon basting session in which I got 5 projects ready to quilt), I still managed to get another new one cut and half pieced this week. The pattern is Avalon by Elizabeth Hartman. I'm going to call this one "Petticoats and Polio" because I don't have a lot of sympathy for false nostalgia.
Two of the four blocks are already finished. I might do a little retro-motif stamping on the solid background, but a variegated quilting thread would fill in the space too. I'll let the possibilities brew for awhile.
This will finish at 60 x 72". (A nice view of the Cloud Nine quilt that I basted yesterday too. I'll post about that one later this week.)

With Halloween eerily looming on the horizon, my sewing machine time will be costume focused for the remainder of the week.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ravens, continued

Picked up the necessary Nevermore fabric after my Tuesday night meeting, and I also found the perfect red-and-purple batik to use as the accent color. The pieces of the raven tabletopper are all cut and ready to assemble! (Well, not quite -- I still haven't cut the 2" border that goes at the very edge.) When my 9-year-old comes downstairs in the morning, sees it and says "Wow, Mom, what is that?!? I love it!" I suppose I'm on the right track.

The developing conspiracy...
I am trying to pick up the pace of posting on here, but my computer is in the process of failing. A brand spanking new laptop (first new computer in eight years!) is on order, so if you find yourself weeping and pulling your hair out for want of new posts, rest assured that I will be more active in November once I figure out how to configure said laptop.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Color Journals: Purple for Polly

On the first month of our color journal exchange, I made a purple page for Polly's fantastic journal. I loved the elongated shape that she chose. I used a simple Karen Eckmeier freeform technique to make a mountain landscape, accented with some free-motion quilting and a few aqua beads that looked like emeralds in the deep dark earth:

"Misty Mountains Rise" -- my boys gave me the name, which is apparently from a Hobbit song. SciFi geekery for the win!
Who'd'a thunk I'd have some purple and mint ice cream fabric? Perfect for the back!
The meeting last night was a delight -- I think everybody was so excited to share what they had made that we blew through all 13 projects in less than an hour! My next assignment is to make a "Travel"-themed page for Sue's gold-and-teal journal. So many ideas brewing for this one...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Scrappy Trip

I have been cutting strips for Bonnie Hunter's Scrappy Trip Around the World quilt all summer. I wasn't thinking big when I first started the cutting, but the strips just kept appearing, so at this point I'm anticipating that this will be nearly queen sized. I have the first 11 blocks done:

Scrappy Trip Around the World: A first look

Ravens begun

A friend of mine who is a serious fan of all things "raven" (it is hoped that this fandom doesn't extend to a certain NFL team from Baltimore...) commissioned me to make a table topper after she saw the Nevermore fabric that I used to make my sister a table runner earlier this summer. I showed her a few different concepts with hexagons and pinwheels that might work on her round table, but we settled on the decagon pattern that I bought at one of the Newington Schoolhouse meetings last year. I couldn't resist this nifty ruler set -- I love that it has pieces with 72 and 36-degree angles. (Stars! Decagons! So many geometrical delights!)

I bought the raven fabric this weekend, got it all washed and ironed, set to cutting...and realized that I miscounted the, sadly, another stop at the quilt shop will need to be in my immediate future. (What a bummer.) In the meantime, the pieces that I do have look spectacular in the round:
If only this mathematically inclined quilter could count...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dance the Orange!

After the successful River project, our journal art quilting group has begun a new project that will take over a year to complete. Each one of us has chosen a color (and some have added a theme as well); using that color, we each created the covers of a journal that will be passed around for the others to make the pages.

I considered a few other options, but ended up with my best beloved after all...Orange. I decided to create the entire book as a big hexagon, which meant custom cutting some art boards to the right shape for the covers. The whole thing is about 14" wide and 15-16" high. I couldn't resist doing a little more micro-(not nano-)hexie piecing for the spiral on the front cover...but these are about twice the size of the river hexies so it felt like it went very fast. The tiny gold beads at the hex intersections gave just the right amount of glitz, and the bee just looked at home there in the middle of the honeycomb spiral. Plus, bees do something called a waggle dance when they get back to their hives, and that seemed like yet another layer of meaning for this project that I have entitled "Dance the Orange" after one of Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus.

Front cover of my "Dance the Orange" journal.

Inside front cover, with complete text (different translation than the link above) of the "Dance the Orange" passage from Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus.
For my sample page, I used a few of the Renaissance drawings that my friend Deb gave me, covered with sheer orange organza to warm them up for this project. The adoring look on the woman's face seemed perfect with the poem. The six-petaled "frame" shape around her picture is based on the shape of the symbol for the orange chakra Svadhisthana. To make the tabs that hold the page into the book, I cut up a little orange leather swatch that I got at Crate and Barrel when we were considering some new chairs a few years back. Perfect use for a 4" swatch! Finally, I added the leaf on the right just because I loved how the warm copper reflected the orange glow of the page. 
Sample page
My nine-year-old let me use his typewriter to type Alicante (in the original French!) on a pretty packaging ribbon.
Alicante, by Jacques Prevert

I sewed a tiny booklet and stitched it into the inside back cover for signatures and comments. (I can't wait to read this at the end of the project!)
Inside back cover
Isn't this notebook paper fabric perfect as a booklet?? A single fat quarter makes an eight-page 5x7" booklet. I had a tiny bronze D-ring of just the right scale to make a closure tab with this little piece of ribbon.
Inside back cover, booklet opened.

Again, the boy let me use his typewriter to add the typed text (on orange typewriter fabric! how delightfully meta!):
Inside back cover (close-up)
Our meeting of this project was on September 17, so I have already passed this along to someone else to make the first page. I haven't decided yet if I want to see each page as they are completed, or wait a year and a half to see it again -- what a wonderful and difficult choice!

In the meantime, I currently have Polly's purple journal to work on...the first of many challenges over the next year or two!

Monday, July 29, 2013

A different shade of girly pink

My cousin asked if I could use some tractor fabric to make a light little throw for her new baby girl to use at the county fair next month. I applaud the "girls don't need to be swathed in pink 24/7" sentiment (looking at you, Debbie...) so of course I said yes!

She sent the fabrics and asked me to embroider "This is my pink" on the corners. I used a nifty valentine alphabet from CinDes Designs in (by request) the brightest pink I had for the lettering and the meander quilting. The binding is on, but not stitched down yet; that will be a good task for the nine-hour drive back to Pennsylvania. Actually, this little bit of binding will only take me about one of those hours...I'll have to plan a few other things to while (wile?) away that time...

As finished as it's gonna be before I get in the car!

The binding is the same as the denim-print corner fabric.

The blue binding will wrap around to frame this side too.