24 October 2013

Back to batiks...

My artist friend, Morian, got married last month. She's been such a great inspiration to me since I first saw her lively and colorful pet portraits. I think I first met her at the Deluxe Indie Craft Bazaar a few years ago. And it turns out she also works where I used to work back in the late 1990s.

Once I discovered her wedding date, I knew I wanted to make her a quilt. I also wanted to use batiks because they are so painterly in tone and they'd be a natural for her. If nothing else, it would go with the batik fabric bowl i made for her a year ago.

Adapted from Villa Rosa Designs' Tulsa Town pattern, I jogged the centerline to minimize matching seams. The rusty red background was a repurchase of a batik I loved from and used a couple of years ago in the Garden Gate quilt I started at Quilt Camp 2011.

The back wound up being large expanses of even more of my favorite batiks.

One of the little details I worked into the front was a Dr. Who TARDIS. When Tom first saw the top's layout, he thought a TARDIS would make itself right at home. I chose these swirls and he later told me it was just the right choice because apparently there was a Dr. Who episode/image pairing Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' and the TARDIS. I have to take his word for this because I just have not been able to sit through an entire episode.

23 October 2013

Charity quilt tops...

At my local quilt shop, Quiltworks, there are bags filled with charm squares to be put together for Infant Crisis Services here in the Oklahoma City area. Volunteers share the tasks for all phases of quilt making. While groups of quilters get together to share the work, they also let us sign out bags to be sewn at home and returned. I picked up a couple of bags in the summer.

The first one was pretty straight-forward and went together without much ado. It's a big part of my process to build my quilt tops/backs on the computer first. This means photographing one of each color/pattern, then building the top digitally in Illustrator or Photoshop. They're both apps I use in my professional world (graphic design) so using them is second-nature to me.

The second packet presented more of a challenge. The theme was dogs and it even had a few Snoopy squares. So I got busy playing around with what I had. I was amused by just this many iterations of the same 48 squares.

This is the 'winner.'

These got returned within a few days. Other volunteers will handle the quilting and binding. I also have a couple of Christmas packets and although they're photographed, I have not 'built' the tops (digitally) yet. Santa's gonna be making that list soon, so I'd better get in gear!

This Bento Box variation top is a charity quilt our guild is working on. It got started at a Sew Day in September and I volunteered to finish piecing the top together by assembling the last three 16-block rows. The batting and backing are lined up and it's heading to the quilter soon. It'll make a bright and happy addition to someone's life.

I love Lucy...

July was a busy month. In addition to working on some quilts, I also added a 'new' sewing machine to the family. A few of the folks in OKCMQG have adopted vintage machines—namely Singer Featherweights (1933-1964). It's the same model my mother had (though I don't know the age of hers) and on which I first learned to sew around five or six. Years later, she gave me that same machine. I used it quite regularly in the late 1980s when I was sewing decorative 'country' collars at home. I kept a ruffler attached to it and it served me quite well. Trouble was that when I divorced in 1993, I left it behind in the house. It just never occurred to me to keep it with me. Yeah, I didn't think about it for years and wanted to kick myself. Alas.

Twenty years later and 'all the other kids have one,' so I jumped on the bandwagon. There were lots less expensive ones to be had, but I bought a pristine one from Jim Sorrell in Seminole. He is pretty much the Singer Guru in the area. Another lady in our guild was headed out there to have him look at her Singer 301 and I tagged along for the ride. Angela's machine needed just a basic tune-up so was a really good value for what she paid. I had a chance to ooh-and-ah over all the pretty Featherweights at his shop and came away with a 1952-made one. It wasn't until later when Angela named hers Ethel that I named mine Lucy. Yes, there's the Lucille Ball connection, but I also have affection/affinity for Lucy Van Pelt, of "Peanuts" fame. Charles Schultz's comic strip started in 1950 but its Sunday presence launched in 1952. Tah dah!

I told Tom early on that having Lucy was primarily an emotional purchase for me. Yes, I do like how she sews and all the attachments and so forth. But it's the aroma of the case (supposedly from the glue used to adhere its lining) that takes me back to a very pleasant bubble in my childhood. And threading it makes me happy as I recall how fascinated I first was with the delicate little wire spring on the tension knob—'Wow, machines are cool!' Lastly, she is a classicly, silver screen-gorgeous.

Sometime in the early 1990s, my mother also gave me her 1975 Lady Kenmore model 1914. It was a top-of-the-line (at its time) and newer model of my first machine from 1971 (see below). I gave the older one to a friend. I used that 'newer' machine for everything until getting Bertie a couple of years ago.

From our trip to Ohio, I brought back a Japanese clone machine, a White. I am not quite clear if it belonged to Tom's mother or grandmother, though Tom remembers it being used in the home. She's a beauty and runs pretty well. Ideally, I'd like to send her in for a tune up, but unless I really plan on sewing on her, she's fine to look at, as is. Oh, and there's also a sweet little portable typewriter Tom's dad gave me. Vintage typewriters live in another part of the house.

I'd also been keeping an eye open for a Sears Kenmore 1601 model sewing machine. It is the same model as MY first machine I got when I was about 14. I found this one in Midwest City last month. She was in rough shape so I got her for less than asking price. She could use some maintenance and replaced bobbin winder if I use her, but again, she's fine to look at, as is. After all, isn't it all about sentimental value?

What's been quite educational in this whole vintage machine process is how expensive these machines were when they were new and what they'd cost in today's dollars. For instance, that Kenmore 1601 was under $200 back in 1971. That's around $1,100 today. I would be hard pressed to buy a 14-year-old an $1,100 sewing machine today. Yep, I was, and still am, spoiled.

So now, I have five sewing machines, including a seldom-used Singer serger. I am trying to keep the herd in check. Wish me luck.

Is it ironic that as we get older and have less time that we amass more things that once made us happy? Pharaohs were buried with their earthly treasures and the things to take them to the next world. At this rate, I am going to need a pretty big pyramid.


In mid-July, a pal in my quilting guild posted a photo of a herringbone-patterned quilt made with half-square triangles. It got me to thinking I'd like to make one. So I checked out a few more online and started laying out my own. The design evolved through a couple of different color palettes and I finally decided to use those two moda Comma charm packs I had on hand. (Little did I know 
when I bought the second one that I already had the first.) I also had a few fat quarters in the same line. What I think I really 'made' this design was using the solid yellow gold and lime green diagonally in the background.

I started cutting and piecing the top together within a couple of days. As I joined the squares to later split diagonally, I dangled them from a wire grid like fish on stringers. What a great catch!
I also came up with an easy way to accurately trim my HSTs by modifying one of my square templates.
Over the next week or so, I finished the top and started planning the backing. I used up some of the last remaining charm squares and finished with big lime commas.

I knew I wanted its quilting to be special. I strongly considered my usual choice of stitched patterns but wasn't 100% over the moon about any of them. In mid-August, I was in Quiltworks (who am I fooling, I'm in there lots!) and came across so perfect quilting on one of their samples. I made arrangements to meet Wendy Wells and delivered my quilt to her on August 20. By September 5th, I had it back in hand.
I finished binding it (more orange!) by September 20.
I think it's my favorite so far!

22 October 2013

Happy 2wenty Thr3e...

I knew I wanted to make a quilt for my dear friend, Kelsey. Back in June, I found this fabric on Etsy—antique cameras—one of the things she collects. I started with this as my base and found more fabric from the moda line 2wenty Thr3e and added some Comma and Fandango. I loved the bright and cheerful colors and prints. They so reflect Kelsey's beautiful personality.

A couple of weeks before, Wanda gave me a couple Villa Rosa Designs cards, and one of them (Intrigue) seemed perfect for this project. The pattern for our Oklahoma City Modern Quilt Guild's raffle quilts for Oklahoma tornado relief was graciously donated by Villa Rosa Designs (Tulsa Town). 
I got the whole thing put together and tried doing a little something different with the backing. I'd already bought the yardage so was a bit limited in options. I finally got around to asking Kelsey how old she was going to be this year. TWENTY-THREE! Well, it was all meant to be and I played it up to the hilt.

Again, Wanda quilted this for me. I loved the vines of hearts. Finally, I had lots of fun with the label on the back and the tiny piece of printed selvage appliqued to the front. I had so much fun making this quilt for an absolutely wonderful person! I love you Kelsey!

Consolation prize...

Back in May, before giving this quilt to a friend (she was right, it DOES go with the colors in her new house!), I decided to make this next one for myself. It's one of the first times I saw a quilt top at Quiltworks and immediately bought the pattern and the fabric on the spot. The pattern is Off Track, and the fabric is combined lines from Parson Gray (Curious Nature and Seven Wonders). Oddly enough, I'd bought a few fat quarters of these lines in December 2012 and more in March 2013. I'd certainly say the look grew on me.

Once I got the top pulled together, I had the thought that it would be perfect for another friend of mine who has a real appreciation for great color and texture. Wait! This is the one to take the place of the last one I just gave away. I've still got it but it may find itself heading west, someday.

Wanda also quilted this one for me. I am just loving having someone do the quilting. By the time I get to that point, I am ready to have it done and am happy to let someone who knows what they're doing and can get it done quickly, for not too much expense, finish it off. I am a bit on a kick of using orange-red for binding these days.

What's next? Kelsey's Birthday Quilt!


(Forgot to post this on August 22nd!)

Three quilts done, Done, DONE!

One was finished and delivered on July 12. Another given as a birthday present on July 14. And, for now, the third one's MINE!

I started the first one earlier this year. You've seen it here before. People on Facebook are probably sick of seeing it. What's really changed is that I decided to give it to a friend AND I found someone to do the machine quilting. I didn't realize what a huge difference this single factor would make in my output.

I met Wanda Pinkerton-Holley quite by accident. I was at Savage Quilter for some fabric and Wanda was in there offering to quilt some charity quilts shortly after the May 20th tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma. She recently moved her home and business, Expressions in Quilting, from the the Wichita area to be closer to her daughter and grandbaby. Because I'd only had one other quilt quilted by someone else (Stars over Bali Skies BOM), I was not first-hand experienced with edge-to-edge computer-generated quilting until I visited with Wanda in early June. Within only a few weeks, she did these three for me! If 'done is better than perfect,' nothing's better than DONE!

I've got another in the works, just delivered to the quilter. I'm trying Wendy Wells, who has done lots of the model quilts at Quiltworks. I saw one the other day, and the interlocking circles pattern was perfect for my herringbone top. That'll be my next post.

(I'll show some details of these three, plus the fourth, in my post.)