Thursday, August 30, 2007

Carolina Lily Quilt Progress

Yesterday I finished the quilting on the bed quilt for my granddaughter Lily's room. Although she is just a year old, there is a queen-sized bed in her room (for visiting grandparents!) Her other grandma saved me a yard of each fabric used in her nursery furnishings, and I made a bed topper using their fabric and others from my stash. The center medallion is North Carolina Lily, an obvious choice! The surrounding blocks are Yellow Brick Road pattern blocks, with a few leftover patchwork blocks thrown in. I did two feathers around the border. I am still going to try to scallop the border.

The quilting is all freehand, heavily influenced by designs in Nichole Webb's Garden Branching book. I added some butterflies and even wrote Lily's name in a few of the dark green blocks.

I also finished quilting two pillow tops made from leftover YBR blocks. I used the Flurry of Angels feather from Nichole Webb and Jamie Wallen's book No Boundaries (now out of print.) I am thinking of embellishing these pillows with a ruffled edge.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Introducing Violette

Yesterday I almost finished quilting my current project, a bed quilt for my granddaughter Lily's room. I am kind of proud of myself for sticking with this to get it done. I hope to finish the last three borders today. I just got an e-mail coupon for a fabric discount at my LQS, Quilts Like Crazy, so I will probably head over there tomorrow for some binding fabric. Quilts Like Crazy is owned by my friend and founder of our quilt bee, Nancy Pease, who is a very artistic person and fabulous quilter and teacher.

Speaking of artistic people, I have added links to Violette's website and blog. I found her through an article in Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine. Remember my little art quilt, named A-Muse-ing Violette? That quilt was inspired by a line drawing by Violette Clark of British Columbia. Check out her website for lots of colorful inspiration, including her painted house which was featured on a Canadian TV program. Too bad they did not feature her painted and glittered van, as well!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Heading for the Big Apple

I have spent the last two days quilting on the queen bed quilt for Lily's room. I am doing freehand vines, leaves, flowers, and feathers over most of the quilt. I spent a whole day trying to figure out how to mark the border for scallops. Duh- how did I ever make it through graduate school? I finally marked them with chalk, and am having a feather go around the outer curve.

We had three great days in the mountains last weekend, and even got a nice thundershower every day to help water the baby Christmas trees, grass, and flowers we have planted. It is dry in that part of the state as well. When we got home, a nice thunderstorm followed us and brought some welcome rain.

I am so excited---Found out yesterday that my husband has been invited to New York for a business trip in October. We have had some lovely trips across the country over the years, but not many lately. This one should be excellent- it is being held in the Waldorf Astoria, of all places! Not too shabby. I am saving my $$$ for some shopping and fun. We have had two other trips to New York, during which we visited the MOMA, toured Radio City Music Hall, went to Broadway shows, and did lots of walking. Last time we also paid homage to Ground Zero, a very sobering visit. The only plan I know of on the agenda is dinner at the University Club, which should be a treat. Actually, it is a little-known fact that NYC is my hometown! I was born in Manhattan, and my dad worked there for twenty-two years before relocating to Raleigh. We lived in the suburbs of New York and New Jersey until I was fifteen. So I have been there many times, but only twice since becoming an adult. Charlie actually knows the city much better than I do, because he had to stay there for about a month when he was training to be a stockbroker.

Actually, the MOMA visit was one of the highlights of my first trip back, but last time it was temporarily housed in Queens due to building renovations. I had been dying to see the Monet triptych of water lilies that takes up a wall the size of a ballroom. I surprised myself by preferring some of the other works I saw, such as colorful works by Matisse and Gauguin. But the piece de resistance for me was The Starry Night by Van Gogh. It had its own bench in front of the painting, where I sat and contemplated this gorgeous work with tears in my eyes at its perfection.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New WIP photos

Here is a photo of my green quilt after quilting. I have tentatively decided to call it Carolina Woodland Spring. I think I will like this one better after using my inks and colored pencils to give some life to the light green background. (It is lime green fleece showing through a white batiste top.) I think I may cut the border of green squares in an irregular shape, and I definitely plan to add some embellishments such as beads and embroidery. Those dogwood blooms need some yellow centers. I attempted McTavishing around the center square, freehand flowers and swirls around the white border, and line dancing in the green squares. Right now I don't exactly love this quilt (It's not easy being green?) but I think it has potential. Well, at least I can hang it up for St. Patrick's Day!

I finally took some pictures of the quilt top made from Lilly Pulitzer fabrics. I purchased the fat quarters on e-Bay to make this quilt for my daughter-in-law's sister. She had all her bridesmaids choose Lilly dresses for her beach wedding. These fabrics are fun to work with, in tropical colors with funky flowers and animals. The fabric is lovely and soft and tightly woven. Even more fun, try to find the name "Lilly" in each of her designs. I will have to make an outfit for my granddaughter Lily using some of these, even though the spelling is not quite the same.

Here is the top, with LP fabrics framed by various black-and-white batiks and prints. I plan to use the black polka dot for the outer border.

Here is the skirt I bought at Goodwill that has shimmery rayon flowers embroidered. I am considering using them in the border somehow.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Green quilt taking a bath

Yesterday I finished quilting the green trapunto quilt with the dogwood blossoms in the center. Now it is having its second soak in the bathtub to remove the water-soluble thread and the markings. When I took it out the first time, the water was peacock blue. I think this is from some of my painted fabrics that I made years ago with Setacolor paint. Anyway, I will probably end up painting the quilted motifs in this one. The green areas that are not trapuntoed are not as bright as I would like, and some of the other quilts I have made with this technique look much better after painting. I will post a pic when it is dry. See examples below:

"Spring Greens"

This one had lime green felt under white batiste and cutaway trapunto. On my current project I used lime green velour instead.

"Summer Jewels"
I had to change the name of this one after painting. At first I called it "Pastel Jewels." The colored flowers on the pre-painting photo are colored felt trapunto under white batiste top.

"Something Girly"
I really did not want to paint this one, because it is much larger than the first two. But, in the soaking process, some yellow dye went into the white areas and would not come out. The painting was to cover that boo-boo, but I think it really made this quilt come to life. I used Tsukineko inks and colored pencils to fill in the quilted flowers, leaves, and swirls.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Weekend Projects

We decided to stay home from the mountains this weekend and get some things done at home. For example, we had a willow tree in the front of the yard that suffered from a killing frost last Easter, and resurrection of the tree was looking more and more unlikely. Charlie cut that down while the pit bull puppy across the street escaped from its fenced yard and tried to bite the chainsaw. Not the most intelligent creature, but very friendly considering its species.

In addition to going out to eat twice and having grilled steaks at home Sunday night, it was very pleasant to sit on our front porch and drink some wine Saturday night.

Since this was a "free" weekend at home, I decided to play with some of my projects. I got the border sewed on the North Carolina Lily bed quilt, and am going to attempt to scallop the edges. I pulled a purchased quilt off a guest bed to see if I can copy its border and make it fit my quilt.

I also finished the Lilly Pulitzer fabric top except for the borders. I am going to use black with white polka dots. I paid a visit to our local Goodwill store, which is in a high-end development, and is sometimes like shopping at a department store. I found a fuchsia skirt with amazing embroidered flowers, and might do some reverse applique to add some of those motifs to the border. Ha- I could call it Lilly Pulitzer Goes Slumming!

Then, I started thinking about the challenge quilt that I have to finish for the Carolina Long-arm Show in September. I am leaning toward freehand flowers and fauna. But, in case I decided to go with a more formal quilt job, I drew the same star and border on a piece of muslin, and marked some trapunto designs for practice. I sewed them yesterday with Vanish Extra wash- away thread, and started trimming the batting around the trapunto designs. I already snipped the top once, so I probably am not going to use this technique!

Finally, I thought I would experiment with thread painting on Solvy Water-Soluble stabilizer on the long-arm. I had this idea that perhaps I could stitch hummingbirds on the Solvy, then attach them to the quilt. Well, this technique needs some refinement! I used two layers of Solvy, drew my designs with washable markers, and started stitching. Right away I shredded the Solvy on the first design. I switched to a smaller needle (3.5) which worked better, but I still had shredding. I was using Permacore thread because I had that in the color I wanted, but I think it is too thick. Anyway, I now have these funny-looking little thread objects! I might try doing this on my Bernina sewing machine which would take more time, but probably wouldn't tear the Solvy. Plus, I have better luck using specialty threads on it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sharon Schamber Site and Tutorials

Have you visited Sharon Schamber's website recently? She has always been generous about posting step-by-step tutorials with photos on her webshots or webpages. Apparently she is getting ready to launch her new computer video network--- seems to be the latest hot phase for quilting information. Anyway, her sign-up page has some really cool You Tube links which show her quilting in fast forward to classical music. I have signed up for the network. Hope this does not turn out to be another pay-for-view like The Quilt Show. Here is my favorite of her videos, called "Dancing Feathers."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jumping Around

I can't seem to stick to one project these days. I have worked on about four different quilts in the last week. I was going great on quilting my round robin top, but have come to a crashing halt. I did the entire top white border in a detailed filler using King Tut thread on top and Bottom Line in the bottom. The top looked so pretty! May I add, this is the exact same thread combination I had been successfully using already except for the colors. But when I rolled up the quilt to advance it, I got a horrible sick feeling when I saw the back. The white bobbin thread looked really bad! Some of the thread was just laying on the back, there were little knots at many of the turns, and the backtracking showed up on the purple backing.
I started ripping it out, spent about two hours, and got about five inches done. Maddening! To teach it a lesson, I abandoned the project for a couple days. I am still mulling over whether to rip it all out, go with the good-looking front side, use marker to ink out the knots.... but this series of Round Robins is supposed to go in our state Quilt Symposium show the next time my guild hosts it. I know I don't want mine to be a poor example of my quilting. So, I'm sure I will be frogging for many nights to come. (Rip-it, Rip-it, Rip-it!)

I started working on a UFO that I promised my daughter-in-law that I would make for her sister. I bought several Lilly Pulitzer fabrics in bright tropical colors, and am framing four-inch squares with various black and white batiks. It is so cheerful and pretty! Her sister had bridesmaids wear whatever Lilly Pulitzer sundress they liked at her wedding on the beach in Nags Head last year. So, I hope she will like this.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Feathers and Flowers

I feel very thankful that we are able to head for the hills like we did this past weekend. It was wonderfully cool in the North Carolina mountains. We had a great visit with family and friends up there, and I did get to float in the new pond Saturday afternoon! It needs some improvements, mainly because the bottom is so muddy it sucks your feet under. Getting in was not problem since I just flopped down on my tube, but getting out is a different story! My window box flowers were doing just fine, which amazed me after two weeks of no attention. They must have had some rain.

Today I decided to Just Do It...that is, get started on my Round Robin quilt. But I experimented with some of my new threads first. The LAVA from Superior quilted just fine with a Bottom Line thread in the bobbin. No breakage at all! The sample is just a little too bright for this particular project- sort of like the FAD 5 colors. I also tried several shades of the King Tut's in the Cottage Sampler package I ordered from Superior. I liked the rosy pink shade the best, and have used it in the purple outer border and some of the inner triangles. I have not decided if I will use the same thread throughout, or switch threads to blend with the background fabrics.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Too Hot to Quilt...Heading for the Mountains

Yesterday the temps here in central North Carolina reached 102, and it is supposed to be hotter today. My thermometer is reading 105 at 12:30PM. Charlie says that if there are no pressing issues at work for tomorrow, we can head for the mountains tonight. It is usually fifteen degrees cooler up there, and we can always jump in the creek. Or maybe the new pond, if it is not too muddy! I have already watered the plants and walked the dog- not a pleasant walk in the heat on the day of our curbside garbage pick-up!

img_1530Here is the new mountain pond, which is partially filled.

Last night I made some progress on cutting away the batting for the trapunto motifs on the green quilt. I use Quilters' Dream Poly for this step, as it is a dense white batting that will not seep through the stitching when I wash out the Vanish thread and marks. The instructions for this process are all in Karen McTavish's book, The Secrets of Elemental Quilting.

The front view is on the left, and the back on the right. I still need to trim these up a bit and do most of the small flowers in the outer white border.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Taking the Plunge

Today I decided it was quit staring at my Round Robin top, and start quilting! It is a little intimidating when a project has taken over a year, and seven other people's work is represented. But, it is so pretty, and will never get to be displayed if it does not become a quilt! I am thinking that this will be a wall-hanging, since it has silk ribbon embroidery, some beads and crystals. Here is a reminder of what the quilt looks like:

Beautiful jewel colors, lots of flowers, some great quilting areas!

Yesterday, my box of pretty threads from Superior arrived. Don't they look gorgeous! I already had the Glitter, but everything else is new. Some SuperBobs of Bottom Line thread, some variegated, some metallic! The purple batik at the top of the photo is the backing I got last week.

In case I get timid, I have A-Muse-ing Violette on the wall behind the Gammill. I made her for a challenge in Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine. She is supposed to remind me to try new challenges and be adventurous.
And, while I was digging around my quilting room, I found this little project left over from the spring, and decided to stitch the trapunto designs with wash-away thread. The stitched outlines will be cut away from the white poly batting behind the top. Those areas will look white under the sheer batiste top. The rest of the white areas will appear green when I add a layer of green felt. I have used this technique five times now. The green squares contain silk, hand-painted fabric, ferny looking prints and others in all shades of green. This one is supposed to evoke springtime in the southern woodlands. The trapunto designs are from dogwood blossoms and leaves that I scanned last spring. I also added some trillium blooms and a small white wildflower. I have a feeling that this little guy is not going to remain square when I am finished with him!

Monday, August 6, 2007

What I did this weekend

We were invited to a great party Saturday night. You know we had to be looking forward to it when we stayed home from the mountains for the first time in months! It was a backyard luau, with two different bands and an island dancer floor show. There were many lighted tents, two cocktail bars featuring watermelon martinis, catered buffets, silk flower leis for the wahinis and shell necklaces for the gents, and lots of beautiful orchid flower arrangements. I would say this party must have cost more than the average wedding! It was very hot and humid Saturday night, but they had those giant fans that are used to cool the team bench at football games.

Here are my hubby and me in front of the waterfall by the pool.

Here is the first band:

And one of the tropical dance performers:

Sunday I managed to do some sewing. I worked on a quilt for the queen-sized bed in Lily's bedroom. Miranda and her mom gave me a yard of each of the fabrics they used to furnish her nursery, and I did not use very much of it when I made her wall quilt. So, I decided to make a Yellow Brick Road quilt to use up some of the fabric, and make a topper to go over the duvet on the bed. I also added some hand-dyed and batik fabrics, and included the rejected blocks from the wall-hanging. I originally thought I would make a Carolina Lily block surrounded by other borders a la round robin technique. I discarded that whole concept for the more whimsical quilt I finally made, but they look nice on the bed quilt. I have finished sewing it all together except for the top and bottom rows. I think I will not add any more borders, and just let the size fit the top of the bed. Maybe scallop the borders? I have never done that in twenty-seven years of quilting.

Here are the rows laid out on a bed in my home: