Saturday, February 23, 2013

Finish It Friday on Saturday

This week I decided was the ideal time to take a few days away from home and go visit some friends that I don't get to see nearly often enough. I had planned to come home on Thursday, but Mother Nature had scheduled a mix of sleet, freezing rain, and snow that day, so none of us went anywhere, and I came home yesterday. Of course that meant I was away from my studio all week. But on the drive home I remembered something that I had left undone for quite a while that was really no big deal if I just put my mind to it and did it. So this afternoon I cleared away a few other things and got it out.

In 2008, North Star Quilt Guild of Cadillac Michigan offered a mystery quilt called Ningaloo Blooming. The name comes from the Ningaloo Marine Park in Western Australia. I did a good job of keeping up with the steps in the mystery, and while I don't remember if I finished the top "on time" it was done shortly after the last clue was published.

Delighted with my finished quilt I laid it out to photograph and this is what I saw:
Somehow in the assembly of the components one piece had gotten sewn in the wrong place, and that meant the whole unit got sewn in backwards. And since I didn't see it until other pieces had been added, fixing it wasn't a simple matter of ripping out one seam and flipping the unit. I was so disgusted that I folded up the top and stuffed it into a drawer, saying "I'll fix that another day."

Clearly, today is another day. I cleared off my sewing table, took care of some housekeeping to make more clear surfaces, then pulled out the top and looked to see what was needed. I peeled back the outer border, then started releasing the section that was reversed, which was actually 5 squares. One of the plain squares had gotten sewn onto the wrong end of the unit, so that had to be picked out and moved to its proper position. Once that was done, the unit could be rotated so it fit properly and sewn back into place. Once the outer border was reattached, the repair was done. I now have a finished top for Finish It Friday a day late.

I like this quilt as much as I did 4 years ago when I started it. The background fabric has always been one of my favorites, and it always surprises me how well it handled being cut up and sewn back together. Even though the pattern is interrupted, it doesn't look chopped. I like the bits of tropical fish in the center of each block, in honor of the theme. I've put it up on the design wall for the moment to think about how I want to quilt it. I've thought about having a long-armer do an all-over meander, because I think this is one case where an all-over pattern might work. I'm also thinking I might quilt it myself with horizontal wavy lines to mimic water. I'll study on it, and think about what I might have in stash that will work for a backing.
By the way, the instructions for the quilt are still available on the North Star Quilt Guild web site. Go to and follow the links for Ningaloo Blooming. You can also see other versions of this quilt that were made by guild members.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Finish It Friday

I've decided to either work at making this blog something worth checking out on a regular basis, or give it up for something more productive. I've worked out a sort of schedule of topics that will at least give me a starting point for daily posts. These ideas aren't new to me; I've seen variations of them on several blogs that I've looked at recently. But don't they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? I prefer to think that good ideas are meant to be shared, and of course we will all put our unique spin on the content.

So I'm starting with Finish It Friday. This gives me a chance to show off anything I might have finished this week, as well as give me an incentive to finish something that might be close to completion. This week I have two quilts to show (no telling when that might happen again!).

The first is called Positively Negative. It is the end product of a mystery quilt that I believe I started in 2004. I have memories of living on Lakeside Street when I pieced the top, and I only lived there for part of my first year here in Lake Village.
The close-up shows how it got its name; the same block is repeated through the quilt, but with the colors reversed. I like how sometimes you see octagons, and sometimes you see stars, and sometimes you just see a maze of pieces. Making the blocks with the triangle involved using a special ruler or templates, or something like that. They're a little tricky I remember, but in the end, they came together quite nicely.
 I didn't do anything fancy with the quilting, just stitched in the ditch (by machine) around the stars to emphasize them in the finished quilt.

The second finish is called Mardi Gras, for obvious reasons. I'm pretty sure I was living in Tallulah when I started this quilt, so I'm going to peg it at around 2000. The top came about as the product of a class I took with Jackie Robinson through Quilt University which dealt with dimensional patchwork.

The close-up shows how the center of the bow tie is folded so that the sides are loose. This ended up being one of my favorite classes as Quilt U, and I've been thinking about hunting down Jackie's book in my library and using this technique to make a couple of baby quilts. I know little fingers will love exploring all the little pockets in a quilt made with these techniques. 
In the beginning I had grand designs for the embellishment of this top. I mean, what's a Mardi Gras quilt without beads and doo-dads. But in the end, I decided that too much embellishment would detract from the piecing, so I ended up just putting a sort of braid of beads around the outside edge, and some pinned-on doo-dads in some sashing spaces down the center of the quilt (they're the things that show up as white blobs in the picture).

Of course, this quilt will be for display, not for snuggling. For now, when I hang it I will use the clip-on cafe curtain rings to hang it from a rod, or simply pin it to a wall. I might change that by next year, but since it has a limited season, I'm not sure I want to spend a lot of time figuring out a better way.

My Finish It project for today is this little bookmark that I bought last summer at the New England Quilt Museum. I used to do a lot of cross-stitch, but my eyes are older now, and frankly, I find this stitching boring. But I will enjoy the finished bookmark as a reminder of my summer adventure, and it can easily be finished by the end of the day. So I accept the challenge.