27 June 2012

Free Bee: June for Lynne

Another bee block for the Free Bee. This month Lynne asked for blocks that are mostly white/gray/black with a splash of red. She offered a still from Shindler's List as inspiration.

I immediately set off to piece a five pointed star, of sorts. I foundation paper pieced each of the five sections, starting with red in the center, then light gray, then dark on the outer edge. The five parts came together well, mostly from scraps.

Several people responded to the first pics of the block saying it looked like an owl. Can you see it? I think it's largely an accident of the camera angle. But still pretty cool.

The thing I think was not so cool (going to sleep and waking up less happy with it for three days running) was the large chunk of graph paper print on the left side. It seemed wrong that it was so big, so boring, so white, and came so close to the edge. I liked the stark contrast, but it needed to be reined in a bit. I unpicked most of that central seam, pieced in another chunk of the irregular grey stripe, and closed the seam.

I'm so much happier with it. Can you still see the owl?

I can't wait to see Lynne's finished quilt!

25 June 2012

Traveling Quilts: Round 4

For round 4 of the Traveling Quilts bee I worked on Elizabeth's quilt. For each round of this bee we add to blocks created in the previous round then send to the next quilter for further additions. There is a strong eclectic and improvisational vibe in the group, and we're free to respond to each quilt however we like. We can attach or not attach our additions, leaving composition to later robins, if we like.

Monica sent me Elizabeth's quilt many weeks ago. Elizabeth had started with a vertical box motif that my brain keeps calling the "rain chain," though I'm not sure that makes any sense with these colors. Next, Heather made four paper-pieced heart blocks with Elizabeth's neon colors. And Monica threw a Pac-man party!

I wanted to incorporate some of Heather's blocks, and maintain some of Monica's retro video game vibe. I framed two of Heather's hearts in solid colors, pulled out a large black dot print, and carefully measured to create a  ontinuous dot border.

Laying them next to the preceding pieces the blocks seemed so heavy and dark. The truth is I'm a bit scared of white, so I'm more likely to reach for a color or a print than for plain white. I stewed for a couple days (I was already late, mind you), and decided I could make it better, keeping the dark dots while making it a tiny bit less heavy. 

I unpicked the dots, trimmed down the color borders, amputated a dot on each edge, and I was satisfied. The 16-patch in the lower right is my own block, along with the connecting 4-patches between the large blocks.

This was a difficult round for me. There is a lot of color, and a lot going on. Looking at the photos, I wonder if a better strategy might have been some simple white borders. But here it is, and now it's Penny's turn.

Update: It's round 4, not round 3, so I corrected the title.

No more brown scraps

Because I used all the brown scraps in this quilt back. I just finished the binding on this bed quilt for my nephew. It's a gift for his high-school graduation.

I mixed the brown scraps with blues to make 12" rail fence blocks.

These scraps are the leftovers from 6 (7?) blue and brown quilts I've sewn.

Then I added strips of blue cotton chambray thrifted sheets on the side, with some more scrap bits.

The quilting shows beautifully on the back.

The finished quilt is 72" x 100". It will shrink several inches on washing, and still be a generously sized extra-long twin.

14 June 2012


I've just finished my three Free Bee blocks for May. John Quilt Dad asked each of us to make a stack of three 10-inch quilt blocks inspired by Erin Wilson's Totem series. Each of us chose a color. I think I was yellow/green, though I ended up much more green when it came time to sew.

Water Tower
The fabrics are a mix of shot cottons, hand-dyed solids, an over-dyed print, and a commercial blue solid. I wrote about dying the fabric several weeks ago.

Telephone Pole
Then I went to sew the blocks and I was at a complete loss for inspiration. I started one block but was unsatisfied with how it was turning out. Color, composition, all of it was so disappointing.

The deadline passed without any further progress. Feeling guilty on my ride home from work Tuesday, I resolved to pick three items along the way as inspiration for the three block compositions. It was an industrial neighborhood, and the three items were a water tower, a telephone pole, and a factory. In real life, all three are various shades of grey and brown so I had to take liberties with the colors.

All of the totems in the group Flickr pool look wonderful. I can't wait to see the finished quilt.

09 June 2012

Ten yards

I've been working hard to finish a quilt for my nephew's high school graduation. I'm going to keep the design of the top hush hush for now, but I'll have photos of the back soon. My mission for the back was you use every single brown scrap in the bin. As it turned out that was a lot of scraps. For now, here's 10 yards of binding, ready and waiting.