Monday, March 23, 2009

The Next Day

Here is the dancers with the black border and frame all stitched down.

I've got some good suggestions for names! Thanks! I'll not be doing the label for a few weeks so that will give me time to decide - and if you have any more good ideas - keep them coming!

I want to stitch some beads on to the dancing folks, which is a "by hand" project. I'll be going to Mom's for Easter so will take it with me and do some handwork there. It will keep me occupied while watching TV - a favorite past time of my Mom.

Between reupholstering some chairs for Eric, which have to be done by the Easter weekend when we will be delivering his furniture (long story, but gee I wish I had me for a Mom!), I also want to start my next quilt, which will be for Pam. Amy gets the dancers. I'll be seeing Pam and Amy when I go for my "girls' weekend" in May to Abbotsford. So that's the deadline for both.

I picked up this Loralie panel (I think - I'll have to check that point). Anyway - I think it's really cute. And appropriate for a "girlfriends" theme. Pam and I go way back to high school in Ottawa - that would be the 70s. So a long time! This one will be "Good Times Girlfriends."

There are actually two panels here. My first thought was to use it all in one quilt - but I think that might be too big and too much. So my second thought is to make two quilts. I'll slice up the individual sections (Kristie would say "fussy cut") and reassemble with some quilt blocks as dividers. Still working on that, although I have some experimental blocks already assembled. Didn't get pix of them, though. Next time.

Can't wait till DH gets the new sewing room done! I want to make a special spot for taking pix - instead of my living room floor!
Today it was back to work - so not much quilting will get done for a few days now.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Under Construction

About five years ago I picked up this batik on impulse. It's been "decorating" various places in two different houses since then. My original intention was to get it framed and hang it on a wall somewhere. But you know what they say about good intentions.

Then I started quilting... Well this thing is fabric so maybe I could put it in a quilt. For a wall hanging.

I collected some fabric that I thought would coordinate. As it turns out, I think some are a bit bright - but too late now. "Never go back."

I was going for a sort of "random scrambled batik" look. I assembled a bunch of blocks - three different techniques.

So I had the blocks. Next - what to do with them? I played around a bit.This is what I came up with.
It's not finished yet. I'll frame the batik with black then stitch the "quilt frame" to the batik. I want to stitch some beads on it.
But here's my problem: I need a name. "Happy Dancing" is just too easy. "Happy Feet" is clearly plagiarizing. Craig thought of "Dancing to Eternity, " which I like. But I am hoping to figure out something to indicate the African nature of the dancers. I don't know enough about African dancing to come up with an appropriate name so I'm open to suggestions! If you have a good one, I'd like to hear it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Get a Life?

Who better to "model" the quilt than its intended owner? Here is Carol with Sister Shadow Play. If we had more time I would have marched her over to the actual scene of the shadow, but that will have to be just a nice idea at this point.

Carol likes her quilt. Her comment: "It looks like it was a lot of work."

Then I showed her this blog. Her comment: "Do you have a life?"

Well.... I guess this IS my life. Blogging and quilting are the "fun for me" things. But I also work a 40 hour work week, try to make it to the fitness centre two or three times a week, do all the time consuming errands that need to be done to keep things going, have some face time with DH, keep in touch with a couple of adult kids who live in far (one day by car) and very far away (one day by plane if everything works the way it should - otherwise more like 30+ hours) places , and keep in touch with other family and friends.

I expect for most women my age (that would be "middle"), this is a fairly familiar story. We do what we have to do and try to squeeze a bit of "me time" in there somewhere. It's probably what keeps us relatively sane - though there are days when I actually have my doubts about that!

Sew - QUILT AND BLOG ON, my friends! :)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sister Shadow Play

Carol, my youngest sister, came down to Calgary from Edmonton for a few days over the Christmas holidays. In spite of very cold temperatures (between -20 and -30 C), the days were nice because the sun was out, so we bundled up and went for a walk.

In the winter, days are short, the sun is low, and shadows are long, even at midday. DH had given me a new camera, so I was in "new camera testing" mode. As we walked around the bend so that the sun was at our back, our shadows stretched way out in front of us. I said to Carol "stop!" - and she did. I snapped our picture.

The Concept

When I looked at it on the computer, my quilting brain thought it saw a quilting opportunity. Very easy shapes and an interesting concept. So during the weeks that I was working away on Craig's quilt (Sedimentary Dreaming), I was thinking about Carol's quilt - now known as Sister Shadow Play. I must give credit where credit is due. I came up with "Sister Shadows" - Kristie thought of "Shadow Play" - so I combined them for "Sister Shadow Play," which I think is just about perfect!

I wanted the quilt to be "frosty" because it was frigging cold out! I had picked up a 1/2 yard of a funky blue print in the Port Angeles Jo-ann Fabric store that could be interpreted as wintery so I started with that. (A 1/2 yard isn't very much - I've learned when buying fabric on spec, get a minimum of a meter/yard.) I found blue and green with a silver design at Fabricland that coordinated with my Jo-ann's print. So I had my starting point in terms of fabric. I also had some silver piping that I'd picked up years ago because it had been marked down (this will be a reoccurring theme - as I mentioned in my first post - those "cheap" Scottish genetics are hard to overcome!). Silver equals "frosty."

There are three basic areas in the picture: the pathway, the surrounding field area and the shadows. I wanted them to sort of blend, but at the same time I wanted them distinct.

I used a wimpy black Sharpie (I have to get a new one) to outline the shadow and the path on a print of the picture, then traced the outlines (more or less) onto grid paper. This gave me a good visualization of what I was trying to achieve. The field would be one set of blocks, the path another and the shadows would be applique.


I started to look for a block design for the field. I wanted something reasonably simple, yet something suitable for my "frosty" theme. After much looking, I found a block in 500 Quilt Block Designs, a book I had out of the library.

Here are a few pages as an illustration of the types of blocks this book contains. There are many - but no dimensions - just pix, although there is an apparently suitable grid at the beginning of each section. But I didn't use that - I just went ahead and did what I needed to do.
The block I chose was the top left block on the right hand page, above - # 1693, below. It is called "diadem."

A diadem is a type of crown, specifically an ornamental headband worn by Eastern monarchs and others as a badge of royalty.

Here it is a bit bigger:

I thought this sort of looked a bit like a snowflake or some frosty entity. It is straight lines and in a square. My thinking was that the relatively large square at the centre of the block would maximize the effect of the funky blue print, of which I had very little. I sketched Diadem onto grid paper, then drew the pattern pieces out the size I wanted.

Here is the assembled block with some friends. As I said, this is the "field."

I also needed the "path." Originally, I thought I'd use only the blue and green (I had very little of the funky print left - it went into the Diadem blocks). I decided there would not be enough contrast with just those two. I went digging into my "stash" and found an "icy" blue that was darker. This would work well - the path is pavement so the darker colour would add "pavement" to "frosty." So I had the fabric part figured out.

The next challenge was a block design that would pull it together. I wanted a different block so there would be no confusion between "field" and "pathway." I also wanted a fairly consistent pattern - the path is relatively homogenous compared to the field. Eventually I settled on equilateral triangle - two inches on each side. I thought that would be a good size, the result would be a small enough pattern that it would contrast with the relatively larger Diadem blocks, which are six inches finished, but not so small that cutting and sewing them would be an absolute pain (although it was to a certain extent!). And consistent.

Again, I drew a pattern on grid paper. Here is the collection of pattern pieces:

This is the "path."

The next challenge was deciding how best to assemble the sections. I decided to put blocks together for the "field" top part of the quilt first. With only 1/2 yard of the funky stuff to work with, I think I had enough for maybe 18 blocks - to be honest, I didn't count - I just made as many as I could because that fabric was the constraint.

Six blocks across the top seemed a reasonable size for me, so I put together two full rows of six, then three on the third row, two on the fourth, one on the last.

Next I put together the triangles: rows and rows and rows of them! I didn't make entire rows where they would meet up with the Diadems on the top.

When the Diadem and the triangles were all assembled, I cut a curve in the Diadem section such that it hit all the "edge" blocks. I stitched silver piping to the curve, turned the seam under, lined up the Diadem section on the triangles (all right side up), then top stitched the Diadem section very close to the piping through all layers (Diadem, piping, triangles). I flipped it over and trimmed out the jagged edge of the triangle section from the big curve at the top.

I had to reserve out enough Diadems to make the small lower section. This involved "recycling" some of the cut away parts of the larger upper section (that's how little fabric I had of the funky blue print!). I followed the same process as above - I cut the curve first on the Diadem section, stitched on the piping, turned the seam under, top stitched to the triangles.

The trick for all of this is to be sure the horizontal seams are all parallel. I think I did OK on this given my tiny working area.

This is what it looks like on the wrong side once it's all assembled:
Here we are on the right side.

I was hum-ing and ha-ing about how to do the shadows - both in terms of fabric and method. I landed on this sort of grey-blue batik (I would have used the dark triangle colour, but my entire meter ended up in the triangles, so I had to go back to the store.) I cut out the basic shapes of the shadows, pinned then basted them on and finally did a smallish, tight zig-zag stitch.

Yay! The top was done!

Quilting, Backing, Binding

Then "all" I had to do was quilt the darn thing. I had bought miles of the frosty blue for the backing and binding. I assembed the three layers. Thankfully, this one is small enough that I could do this on the dinning room table (see my compliants in Sedimentary Dreaming). I quilted it on my machine, starting with echo quilting around the shadows. From there I went on to the standard "stitch in the ditch" method and along the piping edge.

I cut a three inch wide binding, pressed it in half, machine stitched on the top, then hand stitched it to the back. Yes - Carol gets hand stitching!


The above pix is intended to show the echo quilting, though not really sure that it does. It actually shows up better down below.

And here, ladies and gentlemen, is "Sister Shadow Play" !

Once again - I need better pix. I'm going to make DH hold it up in proper lighting for me - but who knows when I'll be able to trap him into doing that!

Book Learning

Libraries are wonderful!

Starting a new hobby means needing info. When I need info, my first strategy is to turn to books. Where do you find books? At the library.

When I type "quilting" into the Calgary Public Library's search bar, a list of 770 titles comes up. Given that number, I've barely scratched the surface! But I'm giving it my best shot to look at as many of these books as possible.

Some I like better than others. I like the ones that have interesting technique and non-traditional ideas for quilting. I'm making a list and eventually will purchase some of those that I want to have on hand all the time. I've actually purchased a few books already, but will continue to add to my collection over time.

Here are some of the books I've looked at in the last couple of months....

Thinking Outside the Block by Sandi Cummings with Karen Flamme is one I particularly like and it will be at the top of my "to purchase" list.
500 Quilt Block Designs is one of many, many books of blocks. There are also a number of very good websites where you can find quilt blocks with patterns to download for FREE - always an excellent feature as far as I'm concerned! (As time permits, I will add some of my favorite links to the blog in case you haven't found them yet - since I'm always the last to know - that's probably not too likely! :) )

The books I've purchased are below. The Art Quilt Workbook: Exercises & Techniques to Ignite Your Creativity by Jane Davila is the one where I first saw the technique I used in Sedimentary Dreaming - wonky blocks and wavy blocks.
I bought the Embellished Mini-Quilts: Creative Little Works of Art by Jamie Fingal book because I love some of the ideas it shows. I'll be incorporating some of those ideas into future projects.

Wavy blocks in Art Quilt Workbook.

Wonky blocks, also in Art Quilt Workbook.
The next three pix are from the Mini Quilts book.

Kristie gave me an edition of Quilting Arts - I think I may start subscribing - I like it.
And -it's always necessary to have a basic "how to" book. The one I liked best at Chapters the day I was there is the Complete Guide to Quilting - a Better Homes and Gardens book. I wouldn't say it's the best possible book - just the best at Chapters - I was disappointed with the selection - Chapters used to carry a lot more hobby type books of all sorts. This is what happens when you wipe out the competition. Having said that, it is a good book and has provided all the info I've needed on the basics.

So my message is "Get ye to the library!"

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Measurement Musing

We have a Chinook arch coming in today. Our temperature will go up to about +10 C today. Yesterday it was -12 C. Do the math: that's a temperature change of 22 C. We get that in Calgary in the winter. It's a nice break when it's heading in the upward direction. It can go back down just as fast.

You'll note that these temperature values are Celsius. This is the metric system (centimeters, degrees Celsius, kilograms). This measurement system was introduced in Canada beginning in the late 1970s (it was a phased process, so not one specific date). I would have been in my early 20s at that time. Prior to that all measurements were given in imperial units (inches, degrees Fahrenheit, pounds).

People my age are rather conflicted measurement-wise. I'm very comfortable in Celsius temperatures because that's what we always hear. Stand outside for a moment and you know exactly how cold "-10 C" is! Same is true for litres - gas is sold by the litre. But for other types of measurements, we often fall back to the old Imperial system.

I'm pretty much "bilingual" when it comes to linear measurement, and tend to jump around between the two systems, so I will sometimes reference in Imperial (inches, yards) and sometimes in metric (centimetre, meters).

So what does this have to do with quilting? Probably not that much.

Fabric is purchased by the meter in Canada, but by the yard in the US. So if you are American and reading about metric measurement, it might not mean too much to you. Similarly, if you're a younger Canadian and not familiar with the old Imperial system (my kids are like this), any references to Imperial measurement may not mean much.

If you are confused, what you need to know is that:

2.54 cm = 1 inch OR 1 cm = 0.39 inches


0.914 m = 1 yard OR 1 m = 1.09 yard = 39.37 inches


100 cm = 1 m
36 inches = 1 yard = 3 feet

So if I start to ramble on about "inches" or "feet" or "meters" or "centimeters" you can come back here to see what I am actually talking about.

Or - if you need even more detail, go to the Metric World Wide Conversion Calculator.