Books quilts and sewing

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Thistleberry Block 3 Churn Dash

Wow, the vacation has spiraled out of control.  Children coming in to visit, children going out, in-laws having some rough patches.  As I write this my vacation is coming to a close with the end of the week and I don’t feel I’ve rested as much as I should have, nor completed enough of the projects I wanted to.

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The one thing I did complete was the block 3 Churn Dash and it at least turned out beautiful!IMG_0289

Starting with five sets of fabric I started making the nine squares.IMG_0290

 

 

 

Then turned them into stripsIMG_0291 and finally the square is complete!

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Design Wall

IMG_0287Looking over the way quilting design is done has been one of the more interesting things I find about quilting.  There are computer programs, sketch tables, and an A-frame design station that can be used.  Recently my daughter “awarded” me with a quilt request, sent me her idea, and a whole lot of fabric.  To be honest, I was surprised and overjoyed with the request.

The Lotus is such a beautiful flower, but the art of reproducing a lifelike replica in fabric isn’t something I plan on tackling in the near future.  I’m still working out the bugs with quilting basics as will be mentioned shortly.  That flower was the central design that my daughter had wanted along with the Japanese themed fabric she sent me.

I wanted to start on it right away and really loved the fabric she had chosen.  But with anything that I make, I have to incorporate my taste and to this point my daughter gave me her blessing.

I spent the first six hours… that’s right, six hours, pouring over different design concepts.  Honestly, I could have spent a week trying to come up with a way to put her concept into the fabric but really wanted to get started.  After the six hours I finally came up with something that I fell in love with and hoped that she would too.

After the initial design concept, I needed to lay out the virtual pieces to see what the overall quilt would look like.  This, at least for me, is done in my head.  I then transfer the idea sketching it onto a piece of paper.  The first sketch is the central theme, the Lotus, then how it will be represented in the block, and finally how the blocks will be arrayed in the quilt.  That last step I did not photograph to keep it as a surprise for my daughter.

It’s at this point I’d like to mention that I am NO artist with pen and paper.  It makes me hesitant to even share what I have up on my design wall for fear that my daughter may see it and freak out.  If you’re reading this Amanda, the quilt looks much better than what’s on the design wall.  The squares are actually square, not the rectangles that I drew.

One of the things that took up most of the time was, of course, coming up with the dimensions of the blocks, the pieces within the blocks, and the quilt itself.  I had to redo the numbers multiple times to come up with numbers that would work.  Yes, I know there are programs as I mentioned that can help out with that, however I felt that doing this myself was imperative.  I am a member of the measure 60 times and cut once club, even then sometimes I have to fix a mistake.  The only minor hiccup I had…  I didn’t translate ALL those numbers to see if I had enough fabric.  No problem, design changed on the fly…

Let me know your thoughts on this process as you’ve experienced it…

Project Updates

At some point, which happened to be now, I wanted to take stock of where I am at and what I still felt needed to be accomplished.  I have finished so many different projects, but the year has already started spinning away from me.  Since I started this blog I have changed jobs twice and been part of three major projects at the companies I’ve worked for, the consequence of which is, not a lot of quilts were made.  Of course I was able to complete two this year, but that is way under what I had in mind originally.

The list of my current projects or to-do consists of the following:

A quilt for my brother, to be determined… Oh, the guilt, the guilt! He’s so wonderful and yet I still haven’t made one for him.

The new block of the month Thistleberry, Block 2 of 12 complete and posted.  If you hit the free stuff!! link you’ll see something new posted there…

Two flannel twin quilts for my nieces, fabric was purchased a year and a half ago… Update to this, I finally have a pattern that I like, now I just need to start them!

Another baby girl flower quilt, almost complete… this will be the third one of this design.  I’m keeping these behind at this point.  One is slated to go up on our wall (my wife’s request), but I have no plans for the other two.

The Ohio Star “Oh! Canada” quilt, finishing the last panel and it will be ready for the quilter finally!  Two years in the making…

I plan on updating this once a month to keep me honest about getting these done. I’m also re-dedicating myself to posting on a regular basis and answering any question others may have. I look forward to hearing from you!

Vacationing at home

If you’ve read any of my site you’ll know that I work in IT and at times it can be hectic.  I will be taking vacation shortly.  Our son is flying in from the East Coast and our daughter from the West Coast.  It’s a shame we all get so busy during the year, but nice that we’re able to get together at all, with all nine of us living is so many different locations.

We have plans to take the children and show them Dallas and North Texas as we see it.  The Stockyards, Farmer’s Markets, The unique shops, and of course the “Amber Waves of Grain” that will be just getting ready for harvest in a couple of months and have already turned a beautiful shade of Amber.

I know I shouldn’t digress, but seeing the wheat that has ripened to the rich Amber color of a sunset in summer has always taken my breath away.  I will say to anyone, anywhere in the world…  If you ever have the chance to see it in person, take the time to soak in the experience.  To my soul, it is breathtaking…

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Getting back on track of vacation planning, there are a lot of tasks that are left undone when you’re working five days a week and at times, 11 hours a day.  One of the things that needs doing is to get my website in better order.  I like to think of it as Spring Cleaning!  Another task left undone is catching up on photo organization.  For some reason, I cannot seem to get them organized on a regular basis and find myself overwhelmed until I take the time to go through them after they’re out of control.

Most of the time will be spent laughing with the five children that will be here and singing at the tops of our lungs in the car on the way to whatever destination we happen to be traveling to.  In the evenings, the whirring of our sewing machines as they beat out the staccato rhythm of creating blocks of fabric into quilts.

It may not have been mentioned in any previous posts, but I love watching (or rather mostly listening) to a favorite or even an unknown television series, or playing music on the stereo while putting together the pieces to a quilt.  It really is quite relaxing even if I’ve watched the same series multiple time.

My wish to all of you this summer is that you get all that you want accomplished, see all the sites that you’ve wanted to visit, and that you get ahead of all your projects.

Thistleberry Quilt Block 2

Cover

With Block 2, what you see is what you get.  You are given 16 strips of four colors and after figuring out the scant seam that I needed to use, went together fairly quickly.

 

Strips

 

 

Sewing the blocks together proved a little tricky, but I managed to get the corners together after five minutes of wrangling and a little bit of seam ripping.

Blocks

And here is the second finished block!!  Two down and 10 to go!!

Block 2

Dipping a toe in Batiks

The elephant in the room…

I’m not a fan of Batik fabrics in quilts, being of the more traditional bent when it comes to how I want my quilts to look.  With that said, far be it from me to pass judgment without trying it.

The sticky wicket…

Knowing my predisposition regarding these materials, it took me a great deal of time to find a pattern that I could feel more than just lukewarm over.  Even the feel of the fabric was different from the cotton I normally use. I noticed while going through my choices at the local fabric store that I really couldn’t decide what would be best for the pattern that I had chosen.  If you’ve never felt batik fabric before, it has a feel of Papyrus to cotton’s paper which was new to me and gave me reason to hope.

Every cloud has a silver lining…

Setting this as a goal for myself has brought together more pieces to the quilting puzzle and has enabled me to learn new techniques.  Batik fabrics also have the advantage, at least for me, of sewing together far quicker and (straighter???) than any other fabrics that I have used.  I call it the “anti-flannel” for easy it is to sew together.  Each block in this quilt took such a long time and if you look you can see I cheated by using cornerstones.  I’m very happy with the final result.

Here is the finished product that turned out much better than I could have hoped for.

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The first flannel is complete!!

After making so very many purchases to get all of the different flannel I wanted in this small quilt, I had to make an additional trip to the store for more of the solid flannel.  This last trip left me with enough flannel to make two quilts.

IMG_0006You might think this would  be a good thing, but in my opinion it just reminds me that there’s another quilt that needs my attention and I don’t even get the sense that I’ve completed one.

This of course is a flannel quilt, rife with it’s own issues.  I did pin… every… little… piece… and still managed to get it all wonky somehow.  IMG_0007

By the title that I’ve chosen, I’d have you believe this was the very first flannel quilt I’ve every made but that would be incorrect.  Allow me to say that I’ve made several, but the others’ that I’ve put needle and thread to were of the Christmas and baby variety.  This is the first truly flannel quilt for flannel quilts’ sake.

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I learned quite a bit while shopping for fabric for this quilt.  Apparently there is a great difference in flannel fabric.  Without going into too much detail, I’ll limit myself to speaking about the flannel you’ll find at the fabric store.  Generically it comes down to about four types.  Baby flannel, quilting flannel, felt flannel (my term), and shirting flannel.  The difference caught me off guard when it came to the register.  The differences were so minute that the store gets them mixed together.

The lady checking me out gave the total that shocked me and as we looked at why the discounts weren’t applying found that I had chosen three different types of flannel and only one type was on sale.

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Back to the quilt as it came together.  Normally square quilts don’t blow my hair back and as you can see, I sort of painted myself into a corner with the pattern I came up with.  Que Sera, Sera…  Quilts I’ve found can take on a life of their own.  After this one was complete and I did the mad dash the day it was due at Linda’s, the backing almost became a huge issue.  Why, oh why, don’t I factor in the size of the quilt when selecting the amount of material I purchase for the backing?!?

The finished quilt, bound with so-softies and pierced with yarn.

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Thistleberry Quilt Block 1

Starting a new block-of-the-month courtesy of Joann Fabrics.  The newest one out of the gate is Thistleberry.  This pattern is again from quiltblocks© and I have to say they have another hit in my opinion.  The finished quilt will measure 76 ½” x 93 ½” and has the setting kit, binding, and backing kit available as well as the 12 monthly blocks for purchase.DSC_0096

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The patterns are very unique and the color scheme is fantastic.  I’ve already put the first block together and it looks great.IMG_0165

The difficulty level of this quilt on a scale from 1 to 5 would have to be a two.  The patterns are beautiful and the colors reminiscent of Easter.  I’ve passed on the last three patterns put out for Joann Fabrics and am pleased to say I’ll be putting this one together.

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Do you NAME your Quilts?

What’s in a name?  A while back fortune smiled on me in the form of a quilter named Linda.  She has taught me so much, not just quilting techniques, but the nuanced questions she asked me from the first time I brought my quilts for her to perform her magic on.  She was never pushy when asking those leading questions such as;  what thread color would I like, or did I already have a pattern in mind.

One of the biggest shocks I received was in the form of some very innocent questions.  Would I be labeling the quilt, and for her “own” records… what was the name of the quilt to be.  (Sorry I ended that in a preposition!)  I told her the pattern name for the quilt that I’d made, but realized that my wife had used the same pattern for her quilt as well.

For my first quilt given to Linda she has the name down as “Sage Garden (Blue)” and Kay’s quilt is “Sage Garden (Red)”, when I applied that label my daughter had noted that it was the same colors as her Sally doll.  When the label was affixed to the quilt at long last it read:

Sally Doll Quilt
Pieced by Michael Lawrence
Quilted by Linda Scott
2012

quilt label

My daughter Samantha was very proud and proceeded to name all of the quilts that she saw… I actually took her advice on the names she came up with.  It turns out she is very good at coming up with quilt names, though I’m still a little nervous at her preference in baby names.  Grandfather’s don’t get to decide though, our job is to love them even if the parents do pick funny names.

New Baby Blanket

Looking through various quilting magazines I searched for my next conquest but didn’t want to tie up my time with a large project.  I have several requests for quilts at this point but wanted to get a few quick ones stashed away in case I needed to send one as a gift.  I came across this pattern and fell in love with it right away.  To be completely honest though, I was looking for a pattern that would include some fabric that I already had.  Using up part of the existing stash was definitely a prerequisite for the pattern.

The pattern is only about 40” X 40” which makes this more of a baby blanket size, but took a lot longer to put together than I thought it would.

Let me know what you think!!  It will be sent out for quilting soon.

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Some of the stages of construction to the finished quilt top.IMG_0804

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