Hurricane sewing

The local fabric store is collecting blankets for Hurricane Harvey victims.  My sister gathered up fabric from a friend and we spent a day making two quilt tops.

Kathie did the cutting, I sewed, and my son wandered in and took over the ironing.  Theo guarded the work in progress.

We got two tops done, using simple brick pattern with 6 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ bricks.  The plan is for me to piece the backs this week, and then we’ll pin and quilt them by the end of September in time to turn them in.

I will donate money as well, since I’m sure the aid groups need that more than quilts, but it feels good to be sending something concrete to people who lost so much.

 

 

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This needs work

My sewing set up since we moved is not ideal.  I’ve gone from having a dedicated room – small but with lots of shelves and several table spaces – to a corner of the family room.

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I swing the gate-leg table leaf up when I want to cut or iron, sliding the boards back against the wall by the desk when I’m done.  It is a tight space, and looks messy when even a few supplies are out.

The storage space is also problematic.

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I’ve got a hall closet nearby, with more stuffed in the coat closet, a couple of shelves in the office, and more still packed up in the garage.  There is no hope of a full quilt sized design wall that I’ve been able to figure out yet.

It will improve.  A few more shelves can go in the main closet, and I can definitely pare down as well.  Some shelves above the sewing area will help as well.

But nothing is going to turn it back into a separate sewing room, until a kid goes off to college.  And that is a good seven years away.

Still, I can sew, even if I can’t find all my notions yet.  (Maybe the good scissors are still in the garage boxes?) And I have a couple of finishes to share.

In July my cousin and I made small fused fabric quilt tops,  and this week I finished the two fish I made then.

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The top one is about half the size of the lower one.  I added top stitching details on the bodies and fins and tried to make creek bottom pebbles and water lines with varying degrees of success.  The small one is going to my nephew who is crazy for fishing, and my Mom got the other one because she’s my mom and has to appreciate my sewing projects.  Also, her condo walls are still quite bare a year after she moved in, so she can’t claim she has nowhere to put the things I give her.

The first one I did I didn’t think through well enough and I had a multitude of thread ends to bury.  The second one I wised up and did the stitching with just the top and the batting so I just had to pull the thread through to the back but didn’t have to knot them all and bury them between the layers.

You can see what I mean in the pics below.  In the first I had all those ends to knot.  In the lower one, I just left them loose and tangled and covered them up when I added the backing.

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The area works OK for these small projects but it is going to be interesting to see if I can wrestle with larger projects in that small area.  I may need to move to the dining room table for real quilting.

Sisters quilt festival

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I posted last week about our trip to Black Butte and some of the fused fiber wall hangings my cousin and I made, but I never wrote about our day at the Sisters quilt festival.

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I’ve heard about the festival for years but this was the first time I’ve ever been there on the day they put all the quilts up. It was spectacular!

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During the week many of the businesses put up quilts inside their stores, and we went in the town several times on errands and walked around the shops looking at the displays.

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Then, early in the morning on Saturday, quilts were put up everywhere outside around the main streets of town.   Crowds descended on the town to wander and admire. It was really rather overwhelming, and I know we didn’t see them all, but we did our best.

It was also extremely hot! But luckily there are a lot of places that sell ice cream and they had put up tents for some of the displays so there were shade opportunities.

Every possible style seemed to be represented.  Very traditional blocks, free form, collages, representationsal, abstract, hand and machine stitched, mixed media . . . they ranged in size from small wall hangings to king size bedspreads.

So inspiring!

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This is just a tiny sampling – someone told me that there were over 1500 quilts in the show.  So much concentrated talent and creativity.

I must get my sewing set up very soon!

East of the mountains

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The Italian cousins are visiting so we got to leave all the moving boxes behind and escape east of the mountains to Black Butte Ranch. My boys hadn’t seen their slightly younger cousins in three years – they all immediately picked up where they left off and have been inseparable.  Older and wiser cousin Amelia watchs over them all to keep things sane.

Lots of laughing, walking, games, swimming – and wine for the worn out adults.

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Patti – another cousin – and I have squeezed in crafting time as well.  I have my spinning wheel:

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And I dug out some bins of fabric so we could work on fused fabric wall hangings:

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The annual Sisters quilt festival is this weekend so we walked around the shops of Sisters where a lot of the quilts are hanging, then spent some time on Pinterest and got further inspired.  The fish and the trees are my two finishes – the fish was sparked by all the fish quilts hanging on the shop walls, and the trees and birds are a not-as-good copy of a paper card I saw on Pinterest.  Stitching later will add in the details.

Patti’s is a lot more complicated – she is still working to cut out more trees and figure out how to make fabric camp chairs:

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Isn’t it great?  I am so making a camping quilt of my own some day.  Though mine will have to have tents as that is how we camp.

it has been so wonderful to relax and not think about boxes needing to be filled or emptied, or walls painted, or IKEA furniture assembled.  Just the sun through the trees, scissors finally back in my hands, and the occasional visiting wildlife.

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Tomorrow Patti and I go back for the quilt festival.  I’m sure there will be a lot more pictures!

A little more progress

I’m slowly adding the borders/sashing to join the Ocean quilt blocks together.  I was able to pick up the additional blue batik fabrics earlier in the week.  The idea is to have deep blues at the bottom for the depths of the sea and then get lighter as the “water” gets shallower up near the beach blocks.

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I’m planning on quilting this in pieces so I can really maneuver around the creatures to highlight their details.  So the shark is now one big block with its borders, for example, and the manta ray and angel fish are another rectangular piece.  There will be seven separate rectangles to quilt – much easier than wrestling the whole thing at once.  I’ll add pieces of batting, quilt them, and then seam them together into one big top.

I would be further along if the puppy would stop racing in, grabbing scraps, and racing back out again to chew them to bits in the living room. Puppy sitting and sewing don’t go together well, especially with a not entirely housetrained puppy.

IMG_8254We also took some frisbee tossing breaks.  Every rare moment without rain is cherished by dog and human alike!

 

 

Cityscape

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In an effort to actually finish one of the languishing WIPs in my closet, yesterday I pulled out a wall hanging I started quite a while ago and ordered myself to complete it.

The inspiration was a picture of a painted door that I came across on Pinterest, and followed to this  Flickr account.  I don’t have a lot of my own creativity, so you’ll see that mine is very similar to the inspiration, but in cloth rather than paint.

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Picture from Flickr: Ahrabella Heabe Lewis

I finished the majority of this quilt more than a year ago, but then got stuck on the finishing details.  After doing black-on-black embroidery for each window, I bogged down.  I wasn’t certain how I wanted to do the rest, didn’t want to screw it up, and just generally dithered until it got buried beneath other projects. This time I was determined to just get it accomplished and not worry about wrecking it with my not so smooth finishing skills.

I started with free motion stitching around the trees.

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I went around each one twice to make it more “sketchy” so that my wobbles would look purposeful rather than inept.

It was quickly apparent that the bobbin color mattered.  I did this tree twice, first with a light bobbin thread and after ripping it out, with a darker thread.

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I couldn’t bring myself to load a multitude of bobbins with the many thread colors that I needed, but I did use four different bobbins in the end to make the shade fit the top threads better.

My friend Paige very generously gave me a bag full of Gutermann 100 meter spools a while back which included a lot of greens and teals which were perfect for most of the trees.

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The city buildings and the clouds were next.  The straight edges of the Kona cotton fabric have frayed quite a lot with all the folding and unfolding over the course of this project, so I’ll have to clip and clean up.  The batik parts held up much better.

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I quilted the details without the backing on; I usually do this with wall hangings.  It looks tidier on the back that way when it is done.  I did wait to do the edge stitching on the hills until the backing was added so that it would be anchored in place.

This is what the messy back of the batting side looked like before the backing was added.  Is it weird that I really like it?

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I didn’t want the frame that binding would create, so I just sewed the backing on right-sides-together and then turned it right side out.  I’m mulling whether to add edge stitching – I usually do to further stabilize everything, but I like the really unobtrusive edge this has now without any.

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The finished cityscape reminds me of both Israel and Italy, the first two places my husband and I lived when we met and then were first married.  The trees make me think of the Italian cypresses, and the blocky city buildings and dry hills say Israel to me.  The blue sky works for either!

My sister was also a fan of the door design and had me help her make a wall quilt of her own at the same time I was making mine, but – as always – she put her own twist into hers.

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That poor city doesn’t know what is about to befall it.

 

 

Angel fish

I completed the last paper pieced block for my younger son’s Ocean quilt today.  It is a fairly simple double angelfish block from Silver Linings.

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I added a little more fabric to the top and bottom to elongate the block.  I went ahead and added some more of the sand fabric to the crab block from earlier to make it bigger as well.

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This isn’t a great picture – the lower section isn’t as dark as it looks.  I couldn’t get far enough away to squeeze it all into the picture without screwing up the lighting.

I’ve rearranged the blocks yet again since this picture to put all the beach blocks in the top row.  And there will likely be more adjustments as I pull it all together.

As you can see, I’ve started to add some of the sashing fabric – the plan is to have dark sashing at the bottom for the deep sea, medium blues in the middle and light blues at the top for the shallows. But this is going to mean a trip to the fabric store as I don’t have enough of the medium or light batiks.

Luckily spring break just started for me, so there will be lots of time for fabric stores and quilting projects!  My sewing goal for the week is to get this quilt top fully put together and get one of the pinned sandwiches in my WIP pile to a fully finished quilt.