Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: LS-9

Dear Jane block LS-9Block number/name: LS-9 “Kiwi”

Date completed: September 27, 2008

Number of pieces: 8

Notes on block: Nearly caught up now! If I'm lucky, maybe I'll be up-to-date by the time the next block is posted. This one is all reverse applique, as suggested by Anina. She's decided that reverse applique just seems to be more accurate, and I have to agree. I'm not sure exactly why it would be any more accurate, but it sure feels that way. It's all good though, because I enjoy doing it. I had a tough time deciding on fabric for this one, but went with the little leaves just because. I'm starting to be more concerned about value. Since I'm doing all greens, I want to try and be sure to have a nice balance of light, medium, and dark fabrics (though, I guess the background may count as light?). I think the fact that I'm using every hue of green (from near yellow to teal) is complicating things too. Frighteningly, I may actually need to go out and get more green fabric!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: D-11

Dear Jane block D-11Block number/name: D-11 “Snow Crystal”

Date completed: September 26, 2008

Number of pieces: 17

Notes on block: Handpiecing works so well with inset seams. I've never been very good doing them by machine, but they are a breeze by hand. I used my tried and true method of applique for the diamonds: freezer paper on top, baste, and needleturn. It worked out pretty well for this block since the angles at the tips of the diamonds were pretty wide. The diamonds in the block inspired my fabric choice for this one. I did some fussy cutting, but I'm not sure it's very evident since the print is so regular and the scale is so small.

Both Keith and the Boy were sick this week. I thought I had escaped. I was feeling fine up until Thursday, but I finally succumbed to illness. Stupid head cold. I really dislike feeling so fuzzy-brained and snotty. I attempted to watch the first presidential debate last night as I stitched, but I could not focus at all. We ended up watching Bruce Willis in Live Free or Die Hard. As it involved little to no brain power, it was much fun.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: RS-9

Dear Jane block RS-9Block number/name: RS-9 “Danish Delight”

Date completed: September 24, 2008

Number of pieces: 23

Notes on block: Smooth as butta! It is nice when everything goes smoothly in a block. This one was not fast, but it was steady and I think is the best triangle I've managed so far (though I've only done 5, so I guess that's not really saying much). I tried to do a few fussy cuts, but patience was failing me and so I managed butterflies in some, but not all, of the pieces. I love the look of fussy cuts, but some days I just want to cut out the dang fabric and be done with it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: D-6 & F-10

Dear Jane block D-6Block number/name: D-6 “Challenge”

Date completed: September 23, 2008

Number of pieces: 9

Notes on block: Nice and simple and a wonderful chance to showcase a slightly larger scale print. The name is curious. Compared to most of the other blocks, this one is hardly a challenge. Maybe it is referencing the quilt as a whole? (Which is indeed a challenge!) Or maybe it is more an ironic statement? I dunno. I wish that Brenda could have included some explanations behind the names she chose for the blocks. It would probably offer a fun way to learn more about them, her story, and Jane Stickle's life.

I worked on this one while watching television with Keith. We used to only watch TV on DVD. But with the digital recorder, it has become way too easy to keep up with shows. On the one hand, it's good stitching time and it is often pretty darn entertaining. On the other, we're sitting in front of the TV a lot more than we've ever been before—and that doesn't necessarily feel like a good thing.

Dear Jane block F-10Block number/name: F-10 “Potholder”

Date completed: September 23, 2008

Number of pieces: 21

Notes on block: I'm positively bursting with pride on this block. Inset seams are scary enough, but inset seams with all sorts of crazy bias edges? Terrifying! But it came together without a hitch. I also love how it looks with this sparkly gold and green chrysanthemum fabric. It's such a good feeling when a block ends up working in every way. This has been a good confidence booster. Maybe I'm ready to tackle the triangle next?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: E-9

Dear Jane block E-9
Block number/name: E-9 “Quilt Jail”

Date completed: September 23, 2008

Number of pieces: 35

Notes on block: Yay! My first block in two weeks. I must be out of practice though, because I really spaced out on this one. Since I was handpiecing, I went ahead and cut all of the pieces individually as opposed to strip piecing (which I'm not sure would work so hot doing it all by hand). Unfortunately, I cut all of the small horizontal bars the incorrect size, and managed to sew ALL of them together before figuring it out. Doh! So then I had to do a bunch of unsewing and trimming and resewing. I also cut the vertical inner bars too wide, but I at least figured that out before sewing all of them. As a result, this block took a lot more time than I expected. I knew I should have started my catch-up with an easy one (but that's okay... I'll do that one next!).

When I looked at this block, my mind immediately went to "window" as opposed to "jail." So I chose what I think is a nifty window fabric, with rolling hills and happy trees. Yay for happy trees! Speaking of trees, we're getting two new trees (and a bunch of other shrubberies) planted in our backyard tomorrow, including a Japanese dogwood (Cornus kousa 'Satomi'), and something called Cercidiphyllum japonicum.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Computery goodness!

Yay! My computer is fixed. Or rather, it has been replaced with a spiffy new one that actually turns on and off and works and everything. Huzzah! Last night I busily began installing the essentials, including the Dear Jane software, Electric Quilt 6, my super nifty scrapbooking software, and Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2. Best of all, I'm feeling ready to blog again.

Unfortunately, I don't have anything particularly awesome to share at the moment. But I can show some progress photos:

Grandma's Country Album II Cactus Flower
I've completed another block in Grandma's Country Album II. This one is called "Cactus Flower." After all these appliqued leaves lately, I'm definitely getting better at pointy points.

Guild block exchange block 1
This pretty block in pink and chocolate reproduction prints is my first completed block for my guild block exchange. For this one, all of the fabric was included in the box. But there were lots of different options, and it was fun getting to pick out which ones to use. Based on the fabrics in there, this is definitely going to be a stunning quilt.

quilting progress on the Star Quilt Along Quilt
Quilting on my Star Quilt Along quilt is progressing nicely. I've never done so much stippling before! I'm on my third spool of thread now (I've only got one spool left... I think/hope it will be enough). It's taking awhile, but I'm pleased with how it is looking so far and the end is definitely in sight.

Also in progress are a couple of Dear Jane blocks (finally!) prepped and ready to sew. I've also finally completed all 126 blocks in my hexagon quilt and have just started putting together the "path" and connecting blocks (I have a whopping two blocks connected together thus far).

Tomorrow work begins on our backyard. We're getting it professionally landscaped. I'm really excited! It's is a tiny, tiny area (as is often the case in these newly constructed homes) so it will likely take only a couple of days. But it will definitely be a transformation.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Falling behind

Friday before last, my computer died. I think the Boy may have had a hand in its demise somehow, as it fizzled after he pressed the power button on and off like a gazillion times. Fortunately, the hard drive is okay so I won't lose any valuable data (like my fabric in/out spreadsheet!). But the Help Desk (aka, my husband) is still waiting on a part to come in. So-- very little blogging and no Dear Jane blocks. (I like to print them out, and the dead computer is the only one hooked up to a printer). I'm going to have a bunch of catching up to do... I'm already 4 blocks behind!

Meanwhile, I have been keeping busy. I completed another block in my Grandma's Country Album II quilt:

Cockscomb Bouquet
This one is called "Cockscomb Bouquet." I thought I would never finish appliqueing leaves! I still have to embroider the branches between the stems and the little berries. Overall, I think it is pretty. If I had it to do over, I would probably try and choose higher contrast flowers and maybe a more interesting fabric for the pot.

I've also started working on another block:

GCA progress, September 16, 2008

This last weekend, I finally managed to get my Star Quilt Along quilt basted. Yippee!!! Basting is my least favorite part of the quilting process. This quilt was a definite reminder as to why that is: crawling around on the floor for 3 hours, close to 500 safety pins, and very sore fingers, back, and neck. Ugh. But it's done. Sorry I don't have an exciting picture to show you. But it is currently sitting in my machine and getting quilted. I've got a good start on it, but there is still a lot to do.

Today is the first day of preschool for the Boy and I. We'll be attending the toddler class one day a week for two hours. It's all play-based, so hopefully it will be a lot of fun for both of us.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: G-7

Dear Jane block G-7Block number/name: G-7 “Indianapolis”

Date completed: September 7, 2008

Number of pieces: 21

Notes on block: Sigh. I went about this one in a completely wrong way. I started by piecing the two outer corner corners together, and attached each of those onto the left side of an outside edge. I pieced each inner bar to the left side of each pie shape. Then I pieced each pie to an outside edge. And then I realized that I would have to use set-in seams for the center little square. Oops. I made this block so much harder than it is. I should have just done it Anina's way with reverse applique. So much smarter! On the bright side, the block didn't turn out horribly. So I'll use it (probably). Finished is better than perfect after all. (And the further I get in this quilt, the more I actually believe that!) It's just I know that I could do so much better. And it's the center of the quilt. So I may revisit it at some point.

Last night (September 8) my husband's grandfather (the Boy's great-grandfather) passed, just two months shy of his 90th birthday. It wasn't unexpected, though it came sooner than anyone thought it would. It is a very sad time, but at least he was surrounded by family and love when it happened. My son isn't likely to remember his great-grandfather, but I feel so fortunate that they got to spend some time together over the last year and a half. And even with all the grief of great-grandpa's passing, the boy was still able to bring a smile to his great grandmother's face yesterday—a blessing, I think.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Plugging along

I think I must suffer from some kind of quilter's ADD. I have so many projects going it is just crazy. I really need to finish something soon, or I may very well go bonkers. I suspect this means starting a new "instant gratification" project. It is a vicious cycle.

Anyway—some new things:

For September's block lotto, my quilt guild has chosen the theme, "Think fall leaves!" I do love fall. And leaves. My husband and I were married in the autumn. So it is a special time as well. Of course I needed to participate.

pieced leaf block
This block is from the October 2007 issue of McCall's Quilting, from the pattern Ginger & Tea Leaves. I had to add some sashing to get it to measure 12.5". But I think it works pretty well.

applique leaf block
This is sort of my own design. I took leaf templates from the October 2004 issue of McCall's Quilting (from the pattern Autumn Luster), but I used them in a completely different way. I've been on a hand applique kick lately, and I really enjoyed putting this one together. All of the leaves are batiks.

I don't think I ever mentioned it, but I was actually a winner in my guild's last block lotto back in June. I'm still trying to figure out how I want to set them, but here are the blocks:

block lotto June 2008
Aren't they wonderful? Some of these are so intricate! The little angel in the center block is wool applique. I even won back one of the ones I made (the one in the bottom right). They are going to make a great quilt. I just have to figure out how I want to do it... I'm definitely thinking sashing will be in order. But that's about as far as I've gotten.

A new guild activity that is beginning with this month's meeting is a block exchange. Participants select a block and then are grouped with a list of other quilters. Each month I'll be making someone else's block while someone in the group makes mine. By the end of a year, we'll all have 12 blocks. We're to include a sample block and detailed instructions in our "block box" along with contact info (in case there are questions). We can also choose to include as much or as little fabric as we want. I've never done anything like this before, and thought it sounded like a lot of fun. Let me tell you, though, it was really difficult choosing a block! This is what I came up with:

guild block exchange 2008

And this Katie Jump Rope design is my inspiration fabric. I'm including that and the white background in my box. I'm really excited to see what people choose to do—the colors, whether or not they use the inspiration fabric, how they interpret the block design. It should be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: RS-11

Block number/name: RS-11 “Hills of Jerusalem”

Date completed: September 1, 2008

Number of pieces: 31

Notes on block: Triangles are intimidating. At first, it’s because they just look like they all have a scary number of pieces. But I get over that pretty quickly as really, they don't have any more than the little square blocks, and they're bigger to boot. The real killers are the angles—bias edges everywhere. And then the long skinny strips on the seems like a lot of the triangles have those. I really dislike piecing skinny strips. The keys for me seem to be very careful handling of the pieces and starch.

This triangle is far from perfect. It takes a little bit of manhandling to get it to line up exactly with the ruler, but it is the right size and should work out once in the quilt.

Did I mention how I really dislike those skinny side strips? Ugh.

It took me about 3.5 hours to do this one. I started at 10 pm last night with SpikeTV (we really need to get a remote so I can change the channel on the upstairs tv). First up was the cheez-tacular B-movie Depth Charge. Next was an episode of CSI, followed by a snippet of Star Trek: Voyager. I stayed up way too late.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Mother lode!

My garage-saleing friend came upon an amazing find. And thanks to her perseverance and patience with a slightly batty garage sale proprietress, a hugemongous amount (about 300 yards) of high quality quilting cotton was procured at a freakin' amazing price! My friend is a serious mistress of negotiation.

Here's part:
mother lode 1
And the rest:
mother lode 2

And, much to my joy, she was even willing to share. Here's my half:

my half
There is probably about 150 yards or so in those containers. Most are smaller pieces—1/2 yards and fat quarters. There are a few larger pieces as big as 3 or 4 yards. Wow. And I'm telling you, the price was incredible. Less than $1/yard. There are, of course, a few in there that aren't really me. But for the most part there is a ton of beautiful, imminently usable fabric goodness.

No. I did not need this fabric. But I am happy to have it, and I really look forward to using it. Projects are dancing in my head. What I need to do now is quilt faster.