Buy the Bold

Most of the quilts I’ve made in the past, if they were going to stay with me, are in colors that are earthy, deep and somewhat intense. Country colors – browns, rusts, deep dark reds, gold, dark teal, etc. The colors in my home welcome these colors; everything blends and plays together well. It creates a home that, to me, is warm and comforting.

One thing I have finally admitted to myself, however, is that I love bright, intense, bold colors. I visit quilt stores and find myself drawn to the bright and bold fabric. For the longest time I have talked myself out of buying any because it didn’t fit with my fabric stash (or my home colors!) and therefore it would be a waste of money. How in the world would I use it unless it was for a very specific purpose — like a gift for someone else? I can’t just buy it because I like it . . . can I??

Older and wiser, maybe? Willing to branch out a little more? Whatever happened, one day I just got over it and began to buy the bold if I wanted to. I have a small precious stash of bold now, waiting to see what I will do with it. This intimidates me a little bit. I feel responsible to do something amazing now with all this color. I debate about whether I should cut into it or just stare at it. Cuz it’s pretty. And colorful. And what if I do something awful with it? I still have a few issues, y’think?

So when the Sashed Half Hexi quilt tutorial from Missouri Star Quilt Company dropped into my inbox this week, I didn’t hesitate long (start another new project? really?) before I grabbed a bold, bright jellyroll and got to work. I get so excited working with these colors! And the fact that they are batiks doesn’t hurt either. I find myself wanting to shut myself in my quilt cave, ignore everyone, and just work on this quilt. I should probably be a little more concerned about that than I truly am . . .

I have the 5″ half hexi template from MSQC rather than the full size used in the tutorial, so I just adapted to the smaller template using a jellyroll and 1″ black strips. This quilt goes together fast and quick.

Because I want a  small wallhanging size, I didn’t use all of the jellyroll strips. I just picked out the ones I wanted. The cutting is quick because the 5″ template is the same width as the strip. You can layer the strips, make two quick cuts and you are ready to roll. I made 12 blocks altogether for my quilt. Sewing goes quickly, as you’ll see in the tutorial.

Here’s my progress so far.

IMG_3755

All that’s left is the sashing and the borders. I had hoped to have that done by now, but I had to come out of my quilt cave and do other things.

How will I finish the quilt? Well, I probably should free motion quilt this one myself, really. Fellow quilter and blogger Lori East is challenging herself to hone her skill at FMQing. She’s an inspiration to me as I am reminded that I need to do the same. I don’t mind doing the practice squares and they actually don’t turn out too bad because I relax and it doesn’t matter because they are just practice. It’s the thought of FMQing an actual quilt (with the possibility of wrecking it) that terrifies me. Maybe just buying the bold is good enough for now?

And when the quilt is finished? Will it stay with me? I haven’t decided yet.

Meanwhile, my quieter yet still excited side is working on the free February BOM woolie from River’s Edge Antiques and Quilt Loft. (Click on “Our Friends” on their web page if you’re interested in jumping in.) It’s a fun project to work on while I’m watching a show (except Continuum — flashback, flashforward — how am I supposed to keep up with that while I blanketstitch??).

My crayon idea for Prairie Moon Quilts Creativity Challenge didn’t work, so I need to take another run at it. Remember melting crayons between waxed paper? Well, I was going to do a tweak of that. It was going to be awesome, and I was going to use it to create a cool landscape idea. Alas, it looked more like I had been visited by the microbe gang, with a bunch of wimpy little squiggles on white paper. Back to the coloring board I go!

And, of course, there are my elephants! I’ll give you an update on them next week.

Happy stitching!

Wendy

 

Small Progress

This week flew by and I feel I have little to show for it as far as quilting. It’s not that I haven’t been quilting, but the major quilt project I’m working on is still in the process of getting the fabrics coordinated rather than being sewn together. Other little projects got some attention, however, as you’ll see below.

I have been working on my Year of Cultivating Creativity challenge for the week. The challenge this week was to illustrate one object four ways. This has perplexed me for some reason. In the end, I decided on a simple little bird because it’s an easy object to draw. However, I think I made it too simple. So far I’ve done three. I have an idea for the fourth, so we’ll see how it turns out. I doodled one bird, used colored pencil and marker on another, made a woolie.

See what I mean? Just not too exciting. It was surprising at how frustrated I became with this. I had ideas in my head, but couldn’t get them on paper. It was a good practice, and one I may revisit at some point. Next week’s challenge involves crayons. I’m already excited!

My elephants are parading along nicely. Current count completed: 12. Only 14 to go!

IMG_3728

I’m also working on the free February mystery block of the month from River’s Edge Antiques & Quilt Loft. I should have something to show you on that next week.

I’m hoping for a day of productive quilting today. How about you?

Happy stitching!

Wendy

Scrap Happy

With the snowstorm on Tuesday, we had a change of pace for a few days with snow keeping us indoors. My view out of my kitchen window has changed a bit, and our front door has a whole new look, droopy poinsettia and all! Today the sun is shining and the snow is beautiful. IMG_3704

Over the weekend I decided to have some fun and do some quilting that stretched me a bit. So I got out my scrap pieces and just started to sew. No pattern, no rules, nothing. Just sew. Because I’m so geared to be matchy-matchy, I actually made myself close my eyes and grab a piece of fabric from my stash to use. That was my only rule — that I had to use the piece I picked out. It was an interesting exercise. There were a few times when I really wanted a different piece! Once I had been stitching for a bit, I started to wonder what I was going to do with this block that was emerging. An idea popped into my head, so I went with it. That idea led to another.

So far I have ended up with this. I’m trying not to be too critical of my work and just let it be. It’s a work-in-progress until I get more inspiration. Honestly though, I haven’t had so much fun in my quilt cave in a long time!  FullSizeRender (3)

All that creative flow, however, led to a creative mess in my quilt cave, so I had no choice but to do some cleaning. I have a teensy (10 x 10) quilt cave, so it gets easily overwhelmed when I hop from one project to another. It became an even bigger mess as I cleaned, but in the end I had done some rearranging and tossing. It is a much happier space now. I have room to work!

Last week I joined this fun challenge through Prairie Moon Quilts. I’m a little late into it, so I’m starting with the coloring challenge. I’ve enjoyed this as a change from my appliqué projects in the evening. Here’s the two pages I’ve finished so far.

I thought the coloring page with the heart and its saying was appropriate for Valentine’s Day just around the corner. There are days when my words don’t land as softly as I would like in the hearts of my family members, so this is a good reminder for me. The other coloring page is a nod to my Swedish heritage. I have Dala horses of each these colors. It was a fun page to color.

What projects are you working on? Leave a comment and let me know what you are up to. Whatever it is, I hope you are thoroughly enjoying it.

Keep that needle threaded!

Wendy

 

 

A Flurry of Activity

This past week brought a few days of solidarity as I quilted right along with my friends out East who were getting snowed in, even though there was little snowing going on here. I enjoyed every minute of it, finishing two quilt tops — the batik quilt I’ve been working on and another UFO that had been sitting on my sewing table and staring at me.

I’ve also been doing a little bit of designing this week, having fun as I putter with some ideas for my brother and sister-in-law’s business What A Hoot Quilting. They have been working together in a crafts/quilting business for as long as I can remember and continually come up with really creative and clever things. My brother makes amazing quilt room furniture, so if you’re in the market for something like that check out their website. If your quilt group or guild is looking for a speaker or a quilt class, take a look at what Steve & Nita offer on their website. And yes, I’m extremely partial and this is a shameless plug for them.

I’ve been stitching away on my elephants. Current finished count is 9 — only 15 more to go! I’m still enjoying them and I’m also finding that the appliqué process is getting easier and more relaxing. After losing my needle twice while stitching with my cat on my lap, I’m happy to say that no person or cat was impaled during the recovery.

When I’m not quilting, I often have my nose in a book; well, books — I read more than one at a time. One of my current reads is Things as They Are – Mission Work in Southern India by Amy Carmichael. It’s a free book on Kindle, but worth reading. So much has changed in missionary work in some ways, not so much in others. This book reminds me to pray for my friends who are missionaries and those they are ministering to.

Thinking about India also makes me think of myriads of bright, intense colors and designs. Intense color and design also makes me think about the winning quilt from the Road to California Quilters’ Conference and Showcase. Have you seen it? If not, check it out here. It is absolutely amazing. We quilters are a creative bunch.

On a much lower quilting level, here’s a little peek into my quilt projects this week. I’ll post a picture of the batik quilt after it’s completely done and given to our friends, so stay tuned.

The quilt on the left is a mini periwinkle quilt, a Missouri Star Quilt Company tutorial. The middle is my elephant progress (the bottom right fella is an interloper – my sample block), one of the completed nine is missing in this picture. The right is a mini scrappy block I’m playing with.

Let me know what you’re working on. I’d love to see! We quilters inspire one another!

Until next time, keep that machine purring . . .

Wendy

No More Sniffles for These Lovelies

This week I am going to add to a new twist my usual quilt projects and try something new. Since February is right around the corner, I’m thinking about Valentine’s Day. I usually think of holidays way too late to do anything fun, so woohoo for me, I am ahead of the game this time!

I have a stash of hankies from my mom, grandma, and probably a few aunts. They are all packed together, so I can’t really tell who made them. Some of them are printed designs, but several of them have been hand embroidered, most of them likely stitched by my grandma. I’m amazed at the handiwork on them; you can hardly tell the front from the back. One of my aunts, Olga, apparently was not as proficient in stitching. My mom would often look at the back of the pieces we had and quickly identify Olga’s, saying “The back of her work was always messy.” I feel your pain, Olga, and love you just the same.

I have taken a couple of the hankies and I’m making tea mats with them. Why call them tea mats? Because the hankies are so delicate (they are really sheer) giving them the name mug mat just seems wrong! I thought these little lovelies would be a fun resting place for a cup of tea or mini candle. So no more sniffles for these lovely little pieces, unless I mess something up in the making and need to shed a tear or two.

This first printed hankie is of unknown origin. I don’t recall my mom or grandma using it, and it looked brand new. I thought the pink was very appropriate for Valentine’s Day and the bows just added to the mix. Initially I shortened the hankie by folding it and matching the ribbon design around the edge as closely as I could and sewing a seam. It was then that I realized I could actually get two little mats out of the hankie if I cut it apart, so I did. You’ll only get to see one of them in this post. I found this cute pink polka dot in my fabric stash, made my little sandwich, and stitched away.

IMG_3651Tip: I used basting spray to make my sandwich. It adhered nicely, but it was really difficult to get my needle through the adhesive. I’d only recommend using the basting spray if you decide to quilt it by machine. It does hold the hankie very firmly; no shifting.

 

 

Here’s a peek of it with a teacup and with a candle.

Next week I should have a second one done, a combination of two hankies. I’m having some fun with this, so come back and see what it looks like.

What else am I working on? Well, the batik quilt top is very close to being finished. I’m sewing the rows together and then I need to add the border. This means I will have to visit a quilt shop for fabric. Oh darn. 🙂

I’m putting my superpowers to work soon on a quilt for friend with a Superheroes theme (get it? superpowers – Superheroes? Haha. Clever, huh?) Watch for a sneak peek of those fabrics.

My elephants are still parading along. No new photos of them this week, but I have about 8 of them completed now so only 16 more to go.

Let me know what you’re working on these days. Do you have any Valentine’s Day projects perking?

Until next time — keep your needle threaded!

Wendy

Tripping Along

I took a little trip last week with John. He had a conference in San Antonio, so I went with him to keep him company, to soak up some sunshine, and to explore San Antonio. It was 70 degrees and sunny when we arrived!

We stayed at the historic Menger Hotel, which was established in 1859 and sits right next door to The Alamo. The Menger has had several notable guests through the years; Teddy Roosevelt recruited his Rough Riders at the Menger. The hotel also claims to be haunted — maybe I really did hear knocking on my door at 4 am!

While John was interested in the history of the hotel, I was fascinated with the beauty. I found myself thinking quilt designs quite often as I meandered throughout the building. The furniture, ironwork, and stained glass ceilings gave me some fun ideas.

What designs do you see? I don’t think I’ll tackle the stained glass, but it was really pretty. (My iPhone picture doesn’t do it justice.)

One of the big draws of downtown San Antonio other than The Alamo is the Riverwalk.IMG_3587

Shops and eateries line the river, together with walkways on each side of its banks. Tour boats and water taxis cruise along the river, and it’s a popular gathering place both day and night. We had lunch at one of the cafes after arriving at the hotel, as the pigeons wandered by our legs and comfortably roamed the restaurant both inside and out. At one other cafe, a man was sitting at his table sending a text while two pigeons joined him at the table, nibbling at his taco chips. Gross. 

On the day we arrived, the river had been drained, so it wasn’t nearly as lovely as it looks in this picture. Thankfully, it was filled before we left and we were able to take one of the boat tours, which was much better than the bus tour.

I also found quilting designs as we meandered down the Riverwalk. Not surprisingly, there were stars everywhere . . . Lone Star State & all, y’know. I really like the colorful spiral design, don’t you?

Needless to say,  I was definitely antsy to get home and get back to quilting! And I have been stitching away since I got back. I haven’t drawn out any of the above designs yet, but I have some ideas.

I finished my little Woolie mystery Block of the Month for January before we left on the trip. Here is the finished block. 27b1e33d-d5be-4014-8bea-6ae0abda66ed

I’ve made progress on my batik quilt — all the strips have been sewn and cut into squares. Hoping to be putting the top together soon!

And, of course, my elephants are coming along nicely —

IMG_3630
Just needs his ear and he’s done!

I’m still enjoying stitching them in the evenings. I’m discovering that I have certain things I need as I appliqué. Two new discoveries I have made are little leather finger pad thimbles and my needle threader. I have had the needle threader for quite awhile, but haven’t used it until now — what was I thinking??. The little thimbles are amazing. They can be used again and again (they are really sticky and stay in place well). They are so comfortable I forget I have one on. No more tender fingers!

What fun things are you working on lately while your creative juices flow? I’d love to hear about them — leave a comment below! By the way, I also have an email address piecefulthoughts@gmail.com if you want to contact me that way.

Until next time, keep those stitches running!

Wendy

 

Picasso Said I Could.

Learn the rules so you can break them like an artist. –Pablo Picasso

For all the years I’ve been quilting, I’ve been reading the rules, learning the rules, following the rules. Admittedly I have safely broken some rules along the way, but I certainly haven’t been reckless! So the quote above is for me, so I can remember that it’s okay to break some rules as I quilt. Picasso said I could. In reality, unless you are submitting your quilt to a juried competition, there really are no rules in quilting, just guidelines. If a technique works for you, whether you came up with it or are using someone else’s, as long as it keeps you quilting and stress free, go with it!

I’m not really breaking any rules in the current projects I’m working on, but I definitely have some rule-breaking thoughts tossing around in my head. So maybe you’ll be seeing some of them in future posts.

So what’s on my quilting table these days?

Over the holiday season, I stopped down at one of our local quilt shops, Reproduction Fabrics, to pick up a couple of Christmas gifts. If you are ever in this neck of the woods, stop in. It’s a lovely little quilt shop, and Margo is a delightful lady to get to know. She has a wealth of knowledge about fabric. If you want to make a quilt in fabric from a particular era, this is the shop to visit.

While there, Margo showed me one of her quilt kits she was offering — an elephant quilt. I liked the fabric kit so much that before you know it, I was walking out the door with 24 potential pachyderms in my bag. Here’s a picture of a couple of them. Aren’t they cute? Now mind you, I have avoided appliqué. I’ve hardly done IMG_3561any in my quilt life. However, I am thoroughly enjoying these little fellas. I figure that by the time I’m done with 24 of them, appliqué will no longer intimidate me. They are just the right size for stitching while I’m watching a movie in the evening.

The appliqué technique I’m using for the elephants is turned edge; however, I’m using a glue stick rather than a needle. If you want to explore other techniques, spend some time on Pinterest. You’ll find quite a few creative ideas.

IMG_3556When I’m at my sewing machine, I’m playing with this jumble of green/blue batiks. This quilt will come together quickly, using Tonga Treats (pre-cut strips). A friend of ours let us stay at her cabin on Lake Superior this summer. It was absolutely lovely! Those of you who know me know how much I enjoy Lake Superior, so it was a treat to have a cabin with our own little slice of lakeshore for a few days. As a thank you, this quilt will be going to her; the colors remind me of the walk to the lake, and the beauty of her cabin. I can’t wait to see it come together!

The last project is a little one. River’s Edge Antiques & Quilt Shop in Hayward, Wisconsin, is offering a free mystery Block of the Month, soIMG_3566 I decided to make them. This is the January block in progress. I’m making mine with wool. Woolies, as I call them, are a favorite of mine. It’s actually how I decided to begin getting comfortable with appliqué, because wool appliqué is very forgiving, and you don’t have to figure out how to turn any edges.

So that’s what I’ve been up to over the holiday season. I hope you have some fun projects on your sewing table as well. And remember, rule breaking is allowed — Picasso said so.

Threads of Thought

IMG_3552

Needles, thread, scissors, sewing machines. Women gathered, chattering away, while fingers stitched quilts together. The banter, laughter. The smell of coffee brewing.

These are some of the memories I have of growing up in a sewing community. The church ladies, yes; but also neighbors, friends. A beautiful creative legacy.

My grandmother was a seamstress, my mother sewed clothes and quilts, my sister-in-law quilts, has owned a quilt shop, and now teaches quilting. Playing with fabric has been part of me for as long as I can remember. When I quilt, I’m with all of these ladies in heart. One of my current projects is applique. I am using some of my grandmother’s needles as I stitch (pictured above — zowie, are they sharp!). It fills me with joy to use some of the tools that she so often used.

Did I grow up loving to play with needle and thread? No, actually. But I have always had a love affair with fabric — the feel, the patterns, the colors. And so, later in life I learned to quilt.

I’m primarily self-taught; however, I have family and friends who have nurtured my quilting through the years. I’m an avid reader, so when I want to learn a new technique I read about it, watch it, then try it. I just beginning to enjoy quilt classes.

I usually have several projects going at once (don’t we all?). Sometimes I stick with one until it’s finished, sometimes only until I feel like I need a break from it. Eventually they get finished. Even while I’m working on projects, another is brewing in my head. I enjoy every minute of it.

So — welcome to my quilting life. Soon I’ll post some pictures of what I’m up to. For now, feel free to follow me on my journey.