Karen writes about life as a Quiltmaker in Austin, Texas; surviving in an empty nest, marriage, cooking, gardening and (did I say?) Quilting...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Winter Day Piecing

It's one of those days. Even in Austin we will see some dreary, cold (er, well cool - in the 50's!), cloudy and wet days - now the third in as many days. And, to really improve upon the mood, a cold - the sort that makes one want to stay in bed, pull the covers up, and hope for a better day tomorrow.

But, I get up anyway, and start the day with a good breakfast, mainly to spend a few civil minutes with my partner - though we quickly part into our own methods of dealing with the depressive weather and lingering congestion and coughs. He to make a pot of some sort of simmering stew, me to work on some mindless piecing.

A few months back I embarked on cutting up the last of several large bags (giant garbage bag size) of scraps into 1-1/2 inch strips. The idea was to make up a nice basket of scraps to use in the creation of truly scrappy versions of "Trash to Treasure Pineapple  Quilt" blocks. This block design, by Gyleen Fitzgerald (Gyleen's Colourful Stitches Web Site) is a great way to use up those pesky 4" of so strips of fabric left over from finished tops. Gyleen designed a great ruler to make the task go fast, and has a nice book that get's right to the point - with clear illustrations and inspiration!
I still had a good quantity of these strips left over from my purchase some years ago of a going-out-of-business long arm quilter's scrap bags and fabrics.  So it was easy to convert it all to 1-1/2 inch strips for pineapple blocks!
So, the day is going well... I'm taking a break to share my method for coping with a dreary winter day off...

The cockpit - stocked for a rainy day sew-in...

Here's the cockpit - (yes, that Is a NEW machine at the dashboard - the Topaz got traded up to a Designer Diamond!), the basket of scraps it at my feet, with a nice cutting area to the left for trims.  While it may look crowded, there's plenty of room for work, with both the table the machine rests on and the table to the right covered with cutting board mats. The serger fits perfectly to my right when I need it, or I can set up an ironing station there temporarily. Today I was to lazy for that, so am using the big board, which is against the window to my back...

"Necessaries" for optimum creative results!

To the right - other necessities! Chocolate, hot tea, and completed blocks for inspiration.  Not pictured: a small space heater to chase away chills... my sewing room faces south, but my windows are the best in the house, and it always seems drafty in the cold weather!

Pile O' Scraps!
Note the basket of scraps...

So, I'm set for a good day of piecing. Hope you get some sewing fun in today!
Keep WARM!
- Karen

Thursday, January 06, 2011

One UFO Down! Working the "List"...and those "Resolutions"...

How many of us have a list of Unfinished Quilts (also known as UFO's  unfinished objects)? 
Each year, I find myself reviewing my UFO list, with mixed emotions...

The feeling of satisfaction is so very great as I strike a finish project off the list - not only finished, but gifted to the recipient. This time, My oldest niece, Ginger, received her quilt, the first, (I hope) of one for each of my 7 nieces and nephews. I felt like I really needed to make a quilt at least for family members... and so embarked on working on these quilts. She was thrilled, and, I'm sure had forgotten my question to her long ago... "What is your favorite color?".

Lavender Dance - DONE!
The answer, "purple" resulted in "Lavender Dance" a swirl of purple scraps that turned out quite nice, if I do say so myself! I showed it at the Fall 2010 quilt show in Austin, and if sure looked great on the wall... h

However - reviewing that list always causes me to look at all those yet to be finished, and inevitably to add new quilts to the list!

I keep the list handy, in my datebook, which, though in writing, is fairly well hidden at the back of the book... I decided to move it forward, placing it at the front... the better to see it each time i use the date book.
I've found that, since I'm no longer involved in managing a business, with crucial deadlines, I have not been using the book daily - something I resign to get back to this year - so let's see if 2011 can be the year I get more quilts done.

Next up for Hand Quilting: "Kodachrome Dresden"
Here's a peek at a project that is one of my earliest piecing projects - something I've really been wanting to hand quilt - which will mean the big frame will need to find living space in the house... more on that later!  (Sorry about that photo... I'll try to spiff that up... ). Working title is "Kodachrome Dresden", the fabrics are all colorful tiny calicos - those lovely prints from the 80's that are getting pretty hard to find. Each "plate" has colors arranged a la color wheel... I plan to quilt a coordinating "plate" across the 1 inch sashing in between each plate...and, while there was a lot of machine work here, the plates were hand appliqued into place! I remember I was quite proud of myself when I finished the top. It will hand quilt easily with so few seams.

On the machine now, is the blue and tan log cabin- basted and ready for quilting for R. Barnes!

2011 is sure to be a busy quilting year - Here's hoping you too have a "Pieceful" 2011...

- Karen