31 Mar

Community Two

Community Quilt

After finishing my 12 x 12 quilt I wasn’t sure I was in love with it. So, a few days later, I had an idea and made another one. (This is actually the third, as I did one with some scraps just to see if I liked the idea of slicing though the middle of a nearly finished quilt.)

Community detail

The rows of houses are bound together (with the ribbon), except the one on the lower left which isn’t quite part of the community. The houses are painted on dyed shopping bags, which are my shorthand for people, but unfortunately, you wouldn’t recognize the bags unless I said something. Check out the 12 x 12 blog for my other quilt, which I think is the stronger one after all, and to see everyone else’s quilts too!

30 Mar

My Studio

No, my “studio,” isn’t featured in the new Cloth Paper Scissors Studios edition, but since the blogs are abuzz with creative spaces, I thought I’d share mine.

Until my daughter was born, the dining room table was my studio. With her arrival came permission to move to a three bedroom apartment, and now a three bedroom row house. Of course, I didn’t see a room for my daughter (she can share with her brother until they hit puberty) — I saw a “studio” (and guest bedroom) that I could shut the door on when it got to messy or I didn’t want to clear before dinner!

Here’s where I spend most of my time:

Sewing and cutting tables

Above the sewing and cutting tables are my pin board and mushroom collection. There’s a smattering of my kids’ artwork and a new silk screen by Ana Ventura. Lots of inspiration in the bookcase as well.

Fliegenpilz Collection

There is one concession to our guests — a bed. It is, however, on loan from the Army and not so comfortable, so I’m contemplating using our sofa bed in our next place (assuming our next place has a room for me) and buying a new couch for the living area. I’ve just about finished sewing binding on all the quilts laying on the bed too. (Yea me!) The forest fabric on the wall is one I bought from Dijanne Cevaal. I’m hoping to do it justice with some mushrooms and fantasy foresty embroidery.

This room is about 187 square feet with one rather large window. I think that’s a pretty average bedroom size, by European and American standards.  It has no built in closets, but an eight foot wide row of wardrobes almost two feet deep. The one on the right is filled with my fabric stash, and the one on the left is assorted art supplies. Up top is batting, stabilizers, and assorted “other” fabrics. I suspect the movers will hate me when they get to this room. Above the bed are a small quilt by Linda Colsh (fans of Quilting Arts’ calenders may recognize this from November 2004), and a small “Bundle” by Sonji Hunt.

The Stash!

Back where we started, across from the door (so I can stand waaaaay back in the hallway) is my design wall — also known as a piece of cotton batting stuck to the wall with pushpins. I’ve had a great week artwork-wise and not only have I bound four of the quilts on the bed, but I’ve finally made some progress on these houses which have been hanging on teh design wall for at least six months, taunting me. I’m not sure why I was making it harder than it had to be, but I was. The flour paste resist piece finally convinced me to just get to it. Oh, and the bookcase is pulled away from the wall so I can keep all my fancy papers behind it. I just can’t seem to let go of the paper lover in me that collected and used all those treasures when I worked as a graphic designer.
The Design Wall

I hope you enjoyed the tour.  :-)

28 Mar

Flour Paste Resist

When I read the how-to article in the Quilting Arts Feb 08 issue about flour paste resist, I thought, “Oh that could make nice roots — and it’s only as toxic as water based paint!” (I’m not a big fan of all the set-up and protection needed with the more toxic stuff.) I gave it a try and rather liked it. Of the four or five experiments I did I’m only really happy with one, but that’s how experimentation and organic processes go. Last week, I used the one piece to make a new smallish wall quilt:

Roots made with flour resist

I like it, and even better — making it got me off my butt and working on the larger houses/roots quilt that’s been on my design wall for about six months.

26 Mar

Am I Missing Something?

As I throw out the umpteenth stained, faded, T-shirt, I wonder what people touting saving the planet by keeping old clothes out of landfills are thinking.

I know that I’m supposed to pass on gently used clothing to those less fortunate (and I do), but in actuality, the majority of the clothes my kids wear have been passed down from friends who themselves got the clothes from the thrift shop. My husband and I buy new, but tend to keep the same clothes for many, many years. I buy one pair of jeans a year. Really. Is it then OK to throw away the clothes if they are beyond what any reasonable person would actually wear?

I know there are lots of great projects to be made from old clothes — but the you noticed the they are all made from vintage cottons, airy linens, or soft felted wools? I don’t know about anyone else, but the closets at our house are filled with jeans and T-shirts — with a good measure of jersey dresses and pants in my daughter’s wardrobe. I have yet to see attractive “reduce-reuse-recycle” projects from old T-shirts and saggy cotton sweaters.

I am saving all our jeans to make a rag rug or something, but at a rate of one or two adult pairs a year, and the occasional kid’s pair, the landfill will never miss what I’m not adding to it. Oh, and how many T-shirts as rags can one household use? Hubby’s Army undershirts alone have given us a lifetime supply of boot polishing, furniture waxing, general dusting, cleaning, wiping up, rags. Add the kids’ dingy, worn-out knit clothes to that and I’d have to get a bigger house just to store the rags.

Am I missing something?

23 Mar

Eggs, Eggs and more Eggs

I almost wasn’t going to post anything Eastery. The kids and I made bunny and sheep sugar cookies a few days ago, and the kids colored eggs last night, but that’s about all we did. Nothing fancy or terribly creative.

We had a small celebration at home with hot cross buns and bacon for breakfast and then the girls (Katja and I) hid the eggs for the boys (TS&WGH and Zavi) to find. That was lots of fun and may have to become our tradition.
Ei got more Eier than you!

Then I remembered that even though we didn’t do anything “German” this year, I do have some neat photos from (wow!) TEN years ago! Way back then, we lived in the Franconian region of Bavaria (I used the wine link because it had prettier pictures than the plain Franconian one) and not so far away in the “Franconian Switzerland” many towns decorate their central fountains, and more, with painted eggs and greenery. So, seeing as this may be the last Easter season we are here, here’s some Osterbrunnen pics from my pre-digital photo album!

The German Wikipedia link has lots of info (if you can read German) and a more recent picture of the pond/fountain in my photo above, which by the way, is the largest Franconian fountain and can be found in the town of Bieberbach bei Egloffstein and made it’s way into the Guinness Book of Records in 2001 with it’s decoration of 11,108 hand painted egg shells! In 2005, Bieberbach was surpassed by the Oberpfälzisch town, Sulzbach-Rosenberg, which used 16,500 eggs.

Speaking of Wikipedia, I learned, via Elin’s blog, of the possible link between rabbits and eggs at Easter. What did we ever do before Wikipedia?

23 Mar

Some tech specs

Woo hoo! It’s a four day weekend which means hubby gets the kids and I get to spend lots of quality time with my sewing machine!

It’s the perfect kind of time to get lost in machine quiting. To “warm up,” I decided to quit a top I made one weekend in January. I had been wanting to make something contemporary and cute, like all the other girls in blog-land. I ordered some fabrics online, but was underwhelmed when I got them. They just didn’t go together as well in real life as they did as little thumbnails online. Instead of investing much time in a more complicated top, I just cut them into strips and sewed the strips together. It’s not a bad quilt, it just didn’t scratch the itch I had. I should have known — I was never really part of the in-crowd in high school either. Anyhoo, the quilt was a good opportunity to do some stress-free machine quilting.

Puffy. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I used the poly batting leftover from the trapunto I did on the big blue quilt. I’ve become somewhat of a cotton purist in the last decade, but it’s sometimes nice to go back to old, or different, ways to get one’s bearings. This batting is Cotton Dream Puff, and boy, is it ever puffy! On the positive side, it’s light as a feather and easy to cram through my sewing machine. And, contrary to my previous experiences, this one “sticks” to the cotton quilt back and top for less shift while basting or quilting. (I’m a firm believer in safety pin basting. No sprays or fusibles for me.) On the down side — I, personally, am not a big fan of puffy (although I am willing to concede that others may like the puff and that’s just fine).

Vine quilting

Moving on from the warm-up, I am now almost done with the school project. I used my standard Warm and Natural cotton batting. After the Dream Puff, it felt heavier, but I readjusted quickly enough. Since this is a group project, I did not have total control over all parts. The donated backing is not 100% cotton. In fact, it may be 0% cotton, although it looks nice an cottony. It frays into soft wisps on the edges. What I really noticed though was that the batting did not stick to it when I basted the quilt. Yikes — this could lead to pucker potential on the backside. I overcompensated by using lots of pins. I gotta say though, now that I am quilting it, the acetate, or poly, or whatever fiber it is, positively glides across my sewing machine bed!! I imagine this fiber could be a pain in the you-know-what if hand quilting, but for machine quilting, I think it’s worth the extra pins — and I’ve had no puckers.

Thread-wise, I used up a few partial spools on the aqua quilt. YLI 40 weight variegated cotton, with Superior Masterpieces (cotton) in the bobbin. Not bad. One spool was a Sulky rayon, which felt much smoother going through the machine (if that’s possible to feel). I had to go shopping for the school quilt since I didn’t have a whole spool of anything suitable. At the shop, I found both a Superior King Tut (cotton) and a Superior Rainbows (rayon) I liked. I had a brain fart and thought that it was Rainbows that I liked at home (not Sulky) so I bought it over my usual King Tut preference. Guess what? I really like it. I’m using Bottom Line (poly) in the bobbin (because it’s what I had in the right color) and have had more breakage than with the Masterpieces, but I think it may have been user error.

As for needles, I used the same Microtex size 80 for both quilts and all the threads. I love these needles. One of the ladies at Quilted Chaos last week talked about using a Topstitch needle to solve problems she was having with skipped stitches. I had not even thought about that as a possible solution since I’ve been using the Microtex (once I find a solution to something, I tend not to stray — hence this weekend’s surprise at the workability of what I previously thought were no-goes). I think the needles’ sharpness allows for a smaller needle size without sacrificing stitch quality. That said, I swear by Topstitch needles when using metallic thread.

This weekend’s realizations: Puffy is puffy, don’t discount non-cotton fabrics, Superior makes nice thread, and Microtex needles rock. Just my two cents worth.

20 Mar

Log Cabin With a Twist

March is always Quilted Chaos challenge month. This year our challenge was to make a Log Cabin quilt “with a twist.” I have a folder full of drawings my kids have made and I saw this quilt on Flickr and decided that they would be great together. I also figured if I got most of it done during our weekend in Schollbrunn, I could add it to my to-do list.

Work in Progress

Quilting was kept pretty simple so as not to distract from the colors and the embroidery.

Quilting

This is one of Katja’s drawings she did of daddy when he returned from his four months in Romania last summer:

Daddy drawing

This is my favorite one (a princess):

Princess

And the finished quilt!!
Katja Hearts Daddy and Princesses

I call it “Katja Hearts Daddy and Princesses.

Presentation tonight was full of fun as usual. We had lots of participants and lots of variety, which is always great given that half of the group members are relative beginners. I had a few favorites, like Valerija‘s fish-eye quilt (she of the fabulous handbags). She said she wanted to use her black and white print fabrics, but they were too distracting from the optical illusion of the quilt design. So, after she made her quilt with solids and still had prints in her stash, she made a handbag with the prints — of course!

Black and white quilt and coordinating handbag

Kathy pulled out her quilt for the third challenge in a row. She started it with silks for last year’s “Splendors of the Orient” challenge, set them with the requisite blue fabric for the German guild’s “Traditonal” challenge (a crazy quilt is traditional), and tried to convince us tonight that her crazy quilted patches were based on log cabin piecing. OK, but really, I just love her embellishments:

Beaded water

Embroidered and appliqued flowers

I loved Johnnie’s quilt too, but it wasn’t finished yet. She made simple off-center log cabin blocks with a bajillion floral fabrics she’s had in her stash and had no idea what to do with. She added a flowery border, layered it all with several flannels and then quilted and sliced the whole thing chenille-style. What was a fine quilt suitable for everyday use really sings now with the depth that the chenille adds. I couldn’t picture it when she explained her plan a few days ago, but she was right on!

20 Mar

Nom Nom 2

I’m finishing projects right and left! Nom, nom, nom, finished projects — tasty!

This one is a little one:

Sock Monster Money Holder

Zavi went to a birthday party and needed a little something to hold the cash we were giving (the recipient and her friend are saving up money to buy a little house for the garden their families co-own). I had bookmarked this sock monster tutorial from 13th Street Studio. Add a miniscule garden rake and it’s perfect. I would however suggest using adult, or at least big kid, socks — little kid socks make a tiny monster.

I’ve also finished sewing together all the Sliced Quilt parts for the Texies project I organized. I’m not going to show it though, because we want to send it The Festival of Quilts in August. They have no rules against previously published works, but I thought it would be more fun to leave a little something to anticipation. (I still have to sew on the sleeve today.)
Sliced Quilt Back

I’ve also finished two 12 x 12 Community quilts. I am beginning to love the small format. I thought I was done, but then had a brainwave a few days later and went ahead and tried it out. I’m not sure if I like it any better than the first one, but I’m glad I at least tried it. I’ll post my results at the end of the month.

I’m also done with my Quilted Chaos (local group) “Log Cabin With a Twist” challenge quilt. We’re showing them off tonight so I’ll post about that one later (ha ha, no peeking Deborah in Heidelberg!).