Saturday, May 30, 2009

I have a new Fab Four list. The first is a project that was actually on the last list. It's called Tessellated Leaves;
I think the original pattern was by Doreen Speckmann. I started hand-quilting this top late last summer, but I haven't gotten very far with it. And actually, I'm not sure that this is the best way to handle this top. My original vision for this top was a bit different. So I will have to decide how to proceed from here. I've decided that at least in this case "done is NOT better than perfect." There's potential here that needs to be developed.
The second I am just calling Spring for now. I did this as a mystery top several years ago, and as soon as I got the leaves and yo-yo flowers on it, I realized that just one blob of dimensional applique was not enough. So it went into the drawer, and there it has languished. I've gotten as far as pulling out all my Baltimore album books and assembling a stash of fabrics, ribbons and buttons that might eventually make their way onto the finished top. Experimentation will be the key here.
Number three is a small hanging that I made from a purchased pattern a couple years ago that just needs quilting. I think stippling or close cross-hatching in the black area, and something simple to just hold the layers together in the border. Nothing to detract from the applique, since that's the star here. I hadn't looked at it for a while, and was actually quite pleased with the quality of the stitching still. So it's time to finish this little cutie and hang it somewhere in the studio.
Finally, number four. This is a collection of blocks that I acquired in a swap. There's 55 of them (some look like ones I made and didn't send in the swap) and they're 8" blocks, so there's enough to make a twin sized top. I don't remember what the block name is; it looks like a "Framed Four-Patch," except that the frame uses a partial seam technique. The problem is that the colors and fabrics are all over the map and frankly the quality is marginal. I'm not willing to throw them out, but I don't want to invest a lot of time or money in the finished product either. I'm hoping that the right sashing will do wonders for them and make me fall in love with them.

So that's the new list. There's a variety of tasks and levels of difficulty presented. They are things that can be worked on in short bits of time in between working on the secret project. This week I did get the new folding table and some flamingo pink stacking baskets, so these UFO's-now-WIP's will have a place to live other than my ironing table while they are in process. Now all I have to do is quit talking about what I'm going to do and get to actually doing it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Two more finishes to brag about. The first was sort of finished a couple of years ago, but I was never really satisfied with it.
The vast expanses of solid pink seemed to overwhelm the Laurel Burch fabric that was meant to be the focus of the quilt, and it's hard to overwhelm Lauren Burch. At the same time I didn't want to do anything too fussy. I thought about using the spaces to display collectible Laurel Burch buttons, but they are much too expensive to just slap onto a wall quilt that will mostly hang in my studio. Covered buttons were the solution. I even removed the shank wires that come in the kit and glued them on with E6000, following a tip I read in the latest American Quilter magazine. So a problem solved in a pleasing way. And I've got another project in the works that might benefit from covered buttons. I guess I'll have to start keeping them in stock. Some fused applique helped cover another problem and add interest to the center at the same time.
The Sunflower quilt was inspired by an awesome piece of fabric and a book called 9-Patch Pizzazz by Judy Sisneros. It uses large cuts of the large floral print and 9-patches to fill in and blend. It took a while to get the design just right; lots of arranging, photographing, rearranging, photographing again, then sitting back and waiting for what felt right. The subtitle of Judy's book is "Fast, Fun, and Finished in a Day." Well finished in a year more like it. There are some deviations from the "straight and narrow" that are not immediately apparent. Some of the yellow squares do not belong to a nine-patch; in fact there is one that is just appliqued in place. But they somehow helped create the flow of color through the piece, and so are ultimately necessary. The other deviation is in the quilting. It's just a simple diagonal cross-hatch, except that every yellow square has a quilted X through it, but the lines are not necessarily carried through to the larger pieces. Again, it was about continuity of a certain kind, but not necessarily traditional. The result is a nice wall quilt to use in late summer or early fall.

Meanwhile I have been hard at work at a quilt that I can't show pictures of yet, but which involves paper piecing and fussy cutting and a lot of precise but tedious work. In between bouts with that I am working on kitty cozies. The one with the big green and white + in it started life as some blocks pieced from scraps onto dryer sheet foundations. As I was going through boxes of scraps I found the green and white strip, left over from another project. It was too good to cut up, so here it is. I haven't tested the dryer sheets with the kitties yet to see if they approve of the residual scent; when this one has batting and backing I will let my crew give it a test nap.

The other one I put together today in about 30 minutes. I had strip sets left over from Hunter's quilt, so trimmed them to a consistent size, discovered I had 8 of them, and found a coordinating cat fabric to slap into the middle. Instant kitty cozy top. And no dryer sheets on this one.

So the studio is a total wreck but good things are happening there. I had to take this set of pictures with the quilts clipped to my fabric storage bins because the design wall is occupied with the secret project. In fact, I'm beginning to think this is the time to get the sheets of homosote and do the design wall properly, so I can have multiple projects at that stage. So far I've resisted it, but there comes a time when half-assed will no longer do. I'm also going to invest in another folding table, so I have more surface area to cover with projects in process.

I started this year with four projects that I wanted to finish before the end of the year. Three of the four are done; the only one that is languishing is a hand-quilting job that now has to be at the top of the pile because it's the only one left in the pile. But that means it's also time to sort through the bins and pull a couple more UFO's out of hiding that might become potential finishes. Having a list of four was a good idea; I could ignore all the others and not get weighted down by the mass of them. And each of these needed something different; I'll have to think about that too as I try to decide what should go onto a new Fab Four list.