Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sandy Britches quilt is on its way!

Merry Christmas!  Here I am standing in front of the tree with the finished quilt called Sandy Britches.  I cropped the photo a little to remove the chaos of crumpled papers and also my fashionable fuzzy socks.

This quilt rode in one of the 2 church vans for 18-ish hours to get to New Jersey, along with our oldest teen and 17 others who made the trip.  The team will be gutting houses which had been flooded by the storm.  Someone they help will also receive the quilt to remind them of God's love and that others care about their loss and the long journey of rebuilding.

Here's the back side which was made from the scraps and a little extra fabric I had in my stash.  These beachy prints were a large package of Fat Quarters which I won in a giveaway last month from Quilting Daily blog, handmade_quilt_art.

I asked y'all for help with selecting the layout for this quilt and it was an easy decision since all the comments chose Option 2.  You can see the choices here in a previous post.

Thanks for your votes.  Glad to have this one done.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Another Suspect in the Tossing of the Recycle Bin

Don't worry, I'm not quitting my daytime job.  But I might try to figure out what all these shapes and letters mean on the camera settings dial.

After cleaning up the recycle bin's contents yesterday, we immediately accused Wile. E.
Or perhaps his friend.
These 2 played an exciting chasing game this morning.

However, while pinning the binding on the (Hurricane) Sandy Britches quilt, I noticed that my upper bird feeder was swinging wildly to and fro.  It's on a double shepherd's hook with feeders at both levels.  There wasn't enough wind to cause this much sway.  So as my eyes fell lower, I saw the culprit.
#1 Suspect in the tossing of the Recycle Bin

The good news is that I've made progress on both quilts that need to be finished really, really soon.  Thanks to Debbie's comments yesterday, I found a nice cream on cream for the outer border and then picked up a cream minky for the back.

I'll doodle while waiting for the computer to think and hopefully come up with a quick quilting idea for the teal one.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Teal Dilemma

Since spelling is not my strength, I had to look up the word 'dilemma.'  I actually thought there was supposed to be a silent 'n' tucked in there somewhere, plus I rearranged the 'i' and 'e'.  I wish it looked correct now, but it still looks a little off to my brain.  So the blessing of having to look up the spelling is that I was also able to read the definition.  It's a problem with two solutions, neither of which is very satisfying.  There's an idea of riding the horns of a dilemma ... you can choose to sit on the left or the right bull's horn, but neither is very comfortable.

So this quilt and I have fought through it's existence so far and we're not finished yet.  It's intended to be a Christmas gift, so there's an urgency which prevents me from throwing it to the back of the stack until I can re-purpose it.  The idea of slicing along diagonal lines and mixing it with other fabrics to make something neat keeps popping up.

Not enough border fabric as shown in the top to actually do this.

Since there aren't many fabrics available in this color, I was very limited.  There's lots of fabrics with true teals, but this is a green-teal.  Sort of a lighter tint of the recipient's wedding colors.  The camera makes them look like they don't match, but they are closer in person.

I thought the border needed something a little darker and came up with this ....
First border choice
 The black/gray/light greenish colors in the inner border just contrasted too much.  It's awful.  I tried moving it around to other parts of the house, but still no joy.  So I took it to my local quilt shop with hopes of finding something else.  The owner is a friend and I appreciate her honesty.  She told me that she can see why I don't like this one.  It's not quite my style to be so monochromatic.  If she'd just tried to soothe my feelings and encouraged me to leave it this way, I'd still not been happy with it and I'd wonder what's wrong with her.

We chose a batik for a border and binding and I went home, cut some strips to place over the black here and .... still didn't like it.  I don't think I have a photo of this option, but it just didn't work either.

So I dug through my fabrics (again) in desperation.  Christmas is coming and I'm in trouble here.  A small (20 x 24) piece of dark green/teal batik which reads as a solid revealed itself.  I hoped for more, but at least there's enough to replace the black.

After seam ripping and stitching, I've reached this stage, which is much, much better.
Current stage
The quilt is happier with that dark teal/green inner border and then the batik striped border.  I could stop here, quilt it and bind it with the same striped batik.  I don't love that the outer border would be so small, but it could work.

Or, riding the other bull's horn .... I could add the gray/teal wider border, then bind it as planned with the striped batik (cut on the bias, not straight of grain as shown).
Other choice.
I do like the balance of a wider outer border.  But I'm just not wild about the actual fabric.  There's some gray in the stripe to tie it into the rest of the quilt, but no gray in the center of the quilt.

Probably, I'll add the gray border and quilt it quickly before I can change my mind again.  For now, it's time to go to work, then stop by the shop one more time for the backing fabric (with a 50% off coupon which I hope hasn't expired).

Just for fun, I googled some images of bull's horns to add, but I don't want to use any photos that are copyright protected.  Those things are sharp and with force, will penetrate a man's body with alarming ease.  Ewwww.  Perhaps I've overstated by case by calling it a dilemma.

Nature report .... lots of rain the past few days.  Since I didn't hear the owls calling, I decided to stay warm and dry instead of sitting out at night with raindrops running down my camera.  But, I saw another 5 deer and a lone coyote in the past few days.  (grin) I feel like National Geographic has moved nearby.  Maybe soon those owls will get ready for another meal and come back to hunt.

The contents of the recycle bin were a bit tossed last night.  Darling Husband and I are blaming the coyote even though we have no proof.  Poor guy.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Another Mug Rug and ... Pieced Backing ... Oh dear! -or- Oh! Deer!

The fun part of swaps is that after you've had a blast making and sending a gift to someone, then you get to open a package in the mail and enjoy something too.
Here's the mug rug I just received.  I think it looks great with my red mug.
front side
And here's the back side.  The quilt maker even signed it.  I didn't think to do that.  Maybe next time ....
back side
I'm watching the calendar and working on the Hurricane Sandy quilt when ever I can find some time.  Today, I finished piecing the back and .... just finished quilting it.  Yes, I'm jumping up and down, excited to see it getting finished.  I'll share the quilting another day, once I've trimmed it up so it looks tidy.

So here's the backing for this quilt.  I ended up piecing the back with leftovers from the front and some pink/white grid fabric I've been aging in my closet.  I have mixed feelings about pieced backings.  Sure, they add interest, but if they aren't well behaved, they can be problematic during the quilting process.  Thankfully, this one was very polite and I didn't struggle with it at all.

I began working this morning and noticed something, some movement off in the distance.  There were 5 graceful deer, bouncing in the open field close to the tree line.  They all waved those white tails side to side as they hopped away.  Something must have startled them since they were escaping danger so quickly.  But then, a little later, three of them came back out for a snack.

This time, they stayed for awhile, so I could grab the camera.

On Thursday night, we kept hearing a horrible sound outside, maybe an injured animal.  I turned on the exterior lights to see if I could find what was making the noise.  To my surprise, I saw a huge wingspan flash by.  Then later, I saw something climbing up the back windshield of my teen's car.  I called everyone to come look and tried to catch a little video.  It was a huge owl.  (Probably just a "normal" size, but it looked huge to me.)  He/She stood proudly on the roof of the car for a long time before flying off.  The light was just too dim to capture a photo.  Later that same night, we heard two more owls making a more traditional hooting sound.  One had a higher pitch than the other and they seemed to be conversing back and forth.

What fun!  I love enjoying nature from my quilting studio.  Would you laugh at me if I bundle up tonight and go walking through the field to see what I can find?  It's ok, I'll do it anyway.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Quick Holiday Mug Rug

I enjoy a short distraction in the middle of several big projects.  So a holiday mug rug swap seemed like fun.  It's a good way to use up some of those scraps too.

front side

Now that my swapping partner has received her mug rug, I can share it here with you.

back side
In case you're not familiar with a mug rug, it's sort of in between a coaster and a placemat.  You can set your coffee mug and a cookie on it.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Monday, December 10, 2012

Passing it On ... with your help

Woohoo!  I won a fabric giveaway!  These are so adorable.  My favorite of the 27 Fat Quarters is the happy clams.  The giveaway was from Quilting Daily's blog "Handmade Quilt Art".  The idea behind this giveaway is to use these fabrics to help someone affected by Hurricane Sandy.  I like the combination of beach and patriotic with the Red/White/Blues.  Someone near the beach will be thrilled with this theme.

Since my oldest teen is going to New Jersey the day after Christmas to help gut houses (remove the wet sheetrock, flooring and cabinets), I've set an aggressive deadline for getting this one done.  It would be an added blessing to have this one hand delivered with a hug and a smile and a day's work to help with their home.

I made the Double Slice Layer Cake by Missouri Star Quilting Company pattern.  It's fast and looks great with a large collection of fabrics. 

The stripes and dots were saved for sashing.  Here's where you can help : I'd love for you to leave a comment to help me decide which layout might look best. 

I have some yardage from my stash of a white with diagonal pink grid lines.  It could become the back for this quilt or it could become borders.  What do you think? 

Option 1 : Bold stripes in one direction only.
Option 2

Option 3 (color coded)

Option 4 : Larger with softer stripes (pink and tan) added

It's time to dash off to work and I hope you'll help me make a choice.  You can suggest a None Of the Above option too if you'll let me know another idea.  (It doesn't matter if you're an anonymous commenter.)

Hopefully, I can start sashing the blocks by Tues night and get most of this one done over the next 2 weeks before the Grandma's come to town.

If I had enough red/white stripe, I'd love to do the first option with blue/white stars and red/white stripes only.  It would look like an American flag was peeking through the blocks. 

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Couple of Teal Quilts

This top has been on the design wall for awhile now.  It's nice to have all the blocks joined together.  Next step is a shopping trip to find border fabrics - maybe a small darker inner, then a larger outer border.  It's will stay in the teal / cream color family, even though my Darling Husband suggests pink.  Ideally, a stripe would be lovely for the outer border.

Here's another view of this one :

All these blocks finished at 9.5 inches.  They're somewhat improvisational in that I tried to make various squares inside squares without consistent dimensions.  Then I attempted to spread them out with alternating light / dark outer borders.   I couldn't find as many fabrics as I would have like to use since lots of the near-teals seemed to clash. 

I'd still like to raise the design wall so I can see it better over the Tin Lizzie frame.  See the plants in the corner?  Now that the holidays are here and furniture is slightly re-arranged to accommodate trees, the indoor plants are stuffed around my quilting spaces.  I'm glad it's not this way year round, but for a month or so, I think it will work.

The second teal quilt came from an outdated decorator fabric book which was donated to Project Linus.  Since the prints are large scale, I decided to go with a large block design.  These fabrics are differing in their weight - some are like quilting cottons, some a heavier, but none are really thick like upholstery fabrics.

Each block is just 3 fabrics.  I did my best to leave as little waste as possible when I came up with these dimensions.  Right now, the blocks aren't joined, but they'll go together quickly.  I think a fleece backing with no batting will work well for this one.  Project Linus needs quilts for teens and I this one will be plenty large enough for a teen.  In fact, one of my teens thinks the modern designs look neat and the quilt will be well received.  She seems to like most of what I make, which is very sweet, don't you think?

If this same idea was done with purples, I'd have a hard time convincing her it's for Linus.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More for Project Linus

Blue Striped quilt

 These were quilted before Thanksgiving.  Simple quilts to provide comfort and warmth.  I am sure they'll find good homes.

Both of these were pieced and donated to Project Linus.  Then I took them home, pieced the backing from donated fabrics and quilted them.

I think the thin black stripes add interest to this one.

Multi-colored Stripe
quilting up close - black and variegated threads

There's another one waiting patiently for me in the studio.  The backing still needs a little more work before it's ready for the frame.  It's fun to practice quilting ideas or review a pattern I've not played with in a while for these Linus quilts.

Enjoy your day. (or night ... this post is being composed around 1 am)
- SeeingStars

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Outside the Pizza Box

An online friend (from the HGTV Quilting and Needlework forum) held a block swap a couple of years ago.  We each chose a theme and mailed a Fat Quarter of fabric to another participant.  Every few weeks, we'd make a block centered around the theme and using just a small piece of the FQ.  When there were 12 blocks, we all mailed them back to the originator.

The hostess had a goal of challenging every one to create something unusual, rather than making the same kind of block that we're comfortable making.  She named our swap "Outside the Pizza Box."

My theme was High Afternoon Tea.  I don't know why.  But it seemed fun and the FQ I sent was an elegant paisley with gold metallic highlights.

I joined all the blocks, then put it away for another 6 months or so, awaiting some backing fabric.  But somehow, I managed to push past all the inertia and load this one on the frame.

I like the fact that some of the blocks are appliqued and some are pieced.

Care for some cheesecake?
Or a box of chocolates?
Perhaps you'd prefer a heart shaped box of chocolates instead ...

And some tea, of course.

This last photo was taken before I started working on the blocks.  I took it to remember what the border looks like.  However, I just had to show you this adorable mug.  The handle is made from a leather cord.  And the mug is actually a pocket.  It came with a tea bag inside of it!  I had to remove it for quilting, but once the quilt is finished, a tea bag will go back to this mug.  So clever and this quilter was definitely thinking outside the box.

The quilting is not finished yet.  Three borders and all the cornerstones are still waiting.  Then, I'll inspect and see if I need to add another element here or thread with thread.  I've had a blast with the feathers, although I thought the thread matched the fabrics better when I chose it.  It sort of reminds me of the steaming milk in a latte, so I'm going to consider it a plus.

Our family saw the play, It's a Wonderful Life this afternoon.  My husband's soccer teammate starred in the leading role, which made it even more fun.  Yes, I actually had to wipe tears away before the lights were turned back on their bright settings.  I'm sappy, but that was so sweet.  A nice way to begin the holiday season this year.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Words Left Unspoken

This is my entry in the 2012 Scraps to Treasure challenge.  We had about 40 participants, each who sent 2 or 3 fabrics to the hostess of the challenge.  These were pre-washed and cut into 6 inch squares - enough for each participant to receive a set of fabrics.  Then, we were allowed to add a few Fat Quarters and a few more 6 inch squares.

As a twist, this year we were asked to name the quilt before we even received the fabrics.  Ha!  As if we needed the bar lifted higher on this challenge!  So my title is Words Left Unspoken.  It seemed open-ended enough that I could go several different directions once I got to play with the fabrics.

It became my prayer .... to my Creator, who with words formed this world and all its creatures, let my response be praise rather than Words Left Unspoken.  And as He's entrusted me to share with others the grace I've received through faith in Jesus, let my response not be characterized as Words Left Unspoken, but may I share His love in my actions and words.

It's a personal prayer and it's a little outside my comfort zone to share it with you.  But  I've already shared it with those who are aware of this annual challenge, so I'll post it here as well.

trees, DNA strand, and the ocean
 There's some thread play in the tree line.   However, most of the quilting is words.  All the words are taken from scripture and relate to the part of creation where they reside.  For instance, the DNA strand says You knit me together in my mother's womb ... I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made...  Your eyes saw my unformed body.  Psalms 139.

scripture, large tree and people ... the dark shaded area is the cliff near the ocean

Here's a portion of the back side.  You can see the words quilted on the muslin backing.

If you're interested in joining the challenge, the sign up time usually starts in March, fabrics are sent and received in April and the deadline to send photos of the finished quilt happen some time in September or October.  I'll post here to let you know more about it.  You can also visit / join the HGTV Forums - Quilting and Needlework.  It's a terrific and encouraging group of quilters who love to share photos and ideas and advice about quilting.  Members of the HGTV forum vote on their favorites in various categories.  We're all encouraged to donate the quilt to charity or, if we keep the quilt, to donate a check instead.

You can view the other entries to this year's challenge Here.

It was an interesting journey this time!  As usual, I felt I was in way over my head.  Also, as usual, once I had a design in mind, I couldn't dream up a second design, then decide which was better.  The first and only design dominates, so even though I have inner arguments - it's technically too difficult, the color values won't work well, ....  I end up being forced to implement it.  And, as usual, I like the finished quilt.

If you are a quilter and you've not joined a challenge before, I encourage you to do so.  It will stretch your creativity and your skills.  The sense of satisfaction when you're finished is well worth the time invested.

Enjoy your day!
- SeeingStars

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fencing Patch for a Friend

The designer of our club's logo decided he wanted a larger patch for his jacket than our standard size.    He's a tall guy and he can wear a 6 inch tall patch with style.

The logo looks like this :