Wednesday, March 31, 2010

East Texas Spring...............Gesundheit!


Well, friends and neighbors, this is what Spring looks like in my neck of the woods..........literally. Can you spell R-A-G-W-E-E-D? Sadly, we receive this particular blessing twice a year. Spring and Fall. At least it's a pretty color, but purchases of Claritin, and Puffs, go right off the charts!


I finally finished block #5 of Les Fleurs today. Thank Goodness. I'll just say (politely) that it was a real old booger to applique. I didn't even realize, until I was well into it, how tricky it is. All your vines, and flowers, intertwine so that you have to do a lot of partial applique, add a piece, and go back to finish the first later. I don't really enjoy doing that, and I think it's harder to get a smooth, pretty effect. It got done, however, and I'm just happy it's over. I do like the purples. What do you think?



I'm hoping the next Beyond the Cherry Trees block comes out tomorrow. She sometimes takes till the 10th of the month to post it, so I'm not sure when it will be. Otherwise I expect I'll go on to block #6 of Les Fleurs. Karen, and her group, are doing this quilt. You can see how different everyone's appears at http://www.sewprimativequilter.com/ .  I love seeing all the varied interpretations of a single pattern.

I did purchase a small amount of pricey fabric this week, from Fabricworm. These are 54" wide voiles from Anna Maria Horner's new collection. Now, frankly, I have no idea if these will work well for applique, or quilting in general. They are quite sheer, as voiles are, and wonderfully silky feeling. I saw them first on Cathy's blog http://www.cabbagequilts.com/ and just felt compelled to buy them. I don't really know how I'll use them if applique is out of the question. If any of you have quilted/appliqued with voile, please tell me your experience, won't you?


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I said I'd show more of Phebe on this post, so here is a photo of the first (but NOT the only) border that I did not use. I went through so many, that I didn't even take photos of them all. I even made a LOT of fussy cut drunkard's path blocks, before determining that they weren't what I wanted either.



I made 40, of the necessary 80, variable stars, and then decided against using them. I loved them on the original pattern, but ended up not liking them on mine. 


This ended up as the border I kept. The vine/floral border is all broiderie perse, with appliqued and embroidered insects. I had never tried broiderie perse before, and ended up enjoying it tremendously. Then I pieced a "blended"border, and ended  with an appliqued swag/broiderie perse border ( to be shown later). I was surprised, and delighted, that my son, and grandson, while they were visiting two weeks ago, really went wild over this top. For some reason, I'd been feeling that perhaps it was too feminine for guys to enjoy. I was happy to be wrong in this case.

I'll end with a question. I have noticed, while browsing other blogs, that some request no "tags". I don't know what tags are, or why anyone would like, or dislike them. Could you all possibly enlighten me? I will never do it, unless by accident, but it would sure help to know what it is that I should stay away from.Thanks a lot.


Friday, March 26, 2010

"Mama, where was I before I was built?"

Above is the question of the day, as asked by our 4 year old grandson, Jack. I would have paid a nickel to have heard what his mama's answer was. Darn good question, too, don't you think?

I'm in pain from spending too long appliqueing today. I know better, but I start pulling for the barn, just like an old mule at the end of a long day of plowing. When I see the end of a block in site, I just forge ahead. It always aids, and abets me, to have a great audiobook to listen to, and today I had two. I finished listening to Emma, and began Good Omens, which is promising to be really delightfully unexpected. I  just discovered Neil Gaiman, and I believe I'm going to have to seek out everything he's done. Most enjoyable.

Here is block #4 with the overlay on it, for those of you who may not have tried this method. I don't use it on every single thing I applique, but I do use it more often than not, and always on blocks with many overlapping pieces. It's just upholstery weight vinyl from any hobby store or JoAnn Fabrics. It's cheap, 54" wide, and I usually buy 10 yards at a time.  

                      Here is the block with the stem/leaf basted down.

Here it is with everything completed except the container.  And here are the four completed (almost) blocks.

Sorry, that final photo is rather dark, but I'll get a better shot a little later. At least I can now see them all together for the first time, because I have taken my last top off the design wall. I have been working for the last few months on a pattern from an Australian quilt shop which is accumulating quite a following here in the U.S. You can find it at www.threadbear.com.au/ and if you haven't shopped there you are missing out. Corliss is an expat from Nebraska, and a charming lady. She has patterns you will not find in every quilt shop, because her designers are local. Di Ford is one of them, and her reproduction patterns of antique quilts are spectacular. It's pricey to buy them because of the postage, but it hasn't slowed me down a whole lot. I won't say how many I have, but it's fewer than I could wish. What is it about buying a pattern that is so satisfying, even when we haven't sewed it up yet. Maybe it's the possibilities it represents...............all I know is a wonderful, new applique patten is intoxicating to me.

The Di Ford pattern I am just finishing up is based on the Phebe Warner coverlet, and is in many books on historical quits of importance. I will show you pictures of mine in the next post. Meantime, do give Threadbear a look, and see if you don't love it, too! While you're in virtual Australia, stop in and check out Michelle Yeo's patterns at http://www.michelleyeoquiltdesigns.com/ and check out her amazing, meticulous piecing. Her work is magnificent! Well, happy quilting to everybody, and here's hoping you have a beautiful weekend. Michele

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Three little billy goats gruff

Here are pictures of the help I receive in the sewing room. Firstly, Woodrow, followed by Mabel Jane, then Poppy. Don't you wish you had their jobs? Sometimes I certainly do!





While they were hard at work I was working on block #4 of the yellow quilt. I do needle turn applique, and don't often baste, but the way Lisa DeBee Schiller designs her stem/leaves, all in one piece, I find basting the only way to keep everything from distorting. Some people prefer glue, and I use it when necessary, but I find basting worth the trouble. Here is the block with the first stem/leaf almost finished:And here is the same block with stem/leaf combo basted on:Done this way, I get no distortion, and I trim as I go. The only thing I do not like about working with her designs, is that it limits the number of greens I can use. Ordinarily, I prefer to use as many different fabrics as possible in each block. There is no denying that her sinuous, flowing shapes are graceful, so I am just working with the five greens permitted by her pattern.  I also use a vinyl overlay, a la Piece O'Cake, and I love it.  The first applique quilt I made was done before I discovered the overlay method, and a lot of frustration occurred when pieces had to cover a previously appliqued leaf, or petal. Here is a photo of that first quilt. Remember, I'd never attempted this before, and it was uncharted territory.Not the best picture, but you can clearly see how very many pieces had to adequately cover their neighbors raw edges.  I know you can probably tell, but just in case you don't know, many of these designs were taken from Patricia Campbell's Jacobean books.

I just finished reading A Dark Matter (skimming the last third in order to get through it) and if any of you read, and liked it, I'd love to hear WHY? No more Peter Straub in hardback for me. I don't at all mind feeling a little mystified at the end of a book, but for heaven's sake, I honestly don't know what I'm supposed to take away from this book. I did not enjoy it. I didn't care for the characters. And I feel I wasted my money. The only reason I persevered was because I kept hoping it would magically improve. Didn't happen. It seldom does.

I started the new Spellman Files this morning, and am delighted to say it is looking like another hilarious story about this insane family. All of these have been lots of fun to read, and as I mostly read for sheer entertainment, that is AOK with me. Have a pleasant evening. Michele

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hello out there,  I have been recuperating from my horrid blooper the other day. Totally eradicating the entire archive on my blog was a little stressful for me. I had to mentally regroup. Probably because the photos, and dialog, are a journal for myself more than anything else. I still have the pictures in my files, but somehow that is not the main point. I feel as though something "important" was taken from me. I'll try not to bemoan the situation any more, and just proceed from today. Firstly, however, I am going to reprint the photos of the two quilts I am working on. First are the #6 completed blocks from Beyond the Cherry Tree BOM, from Sentimental Stitches.









Then there are the blocks by Lisa DeBee Schiller, that I am appliqueing to an extremely yellow background. I am currently working on block #4  of this pattern.







Block four has orange flowers, and interestingly (to me, at least) is that I'm finding orange the most difficult to work with on this yellow background. This is a wonderful education in color theory, and I'm learning a great deal. Choosing the fabrics takes almost as long as doing the applique, not to mention the mess it makes of my newly reorganized stacks of fabrics...............and if any of you remember, I still haven't located my two missing pieces of blue fabric. I'm starting to wonder if they fell in the wastebasket w/o being noticed.

I will close this morning with a picture of my husband with our 4 year old grandson, Jack. They took the round-trip between Palestine, and Rusk, on the Texas State Railroad. It is what remains of a "real" railroad, and we are struggling to preserve it. The maintenance costs are very high, and people are unwilling to pay for it through taxation. The tickets are expensive, but one day there may be no trains, and it's one way to plant a memory in a little boys brain that he can remember forever.


 

I hope everyone of you has a productive, happy day! I'll see you later in blogland. Michele

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's a new world every morning..........

Hello there. I just sat here and deleted all my blog entries. I didn't realize that I was removing them from the actual blog..........I just thought I was tidying up my old files. Well, live and learn, I guess. No sense getting all bent out of shape, I am learning, and I've always learned best the hard way. Why is that, I wonder? Are any of you like that?  I could tear my hair, and rend my clothes, but I think I will be philosophical about it, and just start over from here.

I finally finished block #6 of Beyond the Cherry Trees. Please DO NOT notice the pencil marks (again). Really. I can safely say that there will be no more of them, because, obviously this is a stupid, stupid, stupid way to ascertain that my placement of pieces will fit in the desired space.

I believe it was Linda who commented that my first pot was squatty. She was exactly right, so thanks for the honesty. I believe this one is more in scale with the rest of the block. Does it seem too plain to you? It's a busy print, and I wasn't sure if a little stripe of yellow across the narrowest part would be an improvement, or just plain too much. I would love to hear your opinions.

I've been pretty reserved in shopping for fabric lately, but I did succumb to this beautiful piece from Blank's Marrakesh line.  The colors are richer than they appear in my photo, with gorgeous teal blue, and tarnished brass accents.  It would be fun to fussy cut, but at this point I'm not certain what I'll make with it. It is just one of those pieces that are wonderful for setting up a color story for a new quilt, whether or not it makes it into the finished quilt.

 As I type this I find I am becoming more disheartened about deleting all my archives. I know I will get over it, but it's pretty harsh because of all the work they represented ........................all down the drain, and unreachable. Damn it, that's all I'll say. Hope your day has been more successful, and gratifying, than mine has turned out.