Monday, February 27, 2012

On the design wall...

Saturday was spent piecing one loooooong strip of sashing and then bordering all these red blocks. I've been seeing the red/turquoise combination everywhere lately so I finally got on the bandwagon. This is another project out of my uncle's clothes; I'm making a kid quilt this time.
I chopped up this red work jumpsuit a while back, trying to save all the interesting bits. It's going to be like an "activity quilt" where you can unzip the zips and unbutton the buttons and put things into the pockets.
I need to decide on a layout while I'm waiting for the background fabric to arrive in the mail. I'm planning to do it with Kona Coal, unless I change my mind once it gets here.   Happy Monday!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Bargello Quilt is Finally DONE!

It's finished! Whoo hoo! The Bargello quilt, over two years in the making is finally, finally, finally done.   It's huge and I love it.


This is the first quilt I've ever made that's actually large enough to drape properly on a full size bed.  It's something like 100" by 90". Don't think I'll be doing one this size again any time soon.  It weighs a ton and was a real monster to drag through the machine. 

The colors in this quilt are amazing.   I think the pictures speak for themselves. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I had one of those moments today.  This is what the area to the right of my machine normally looks like while I'm sewing.  Glass milk bottle for putting thread tails in, empty water bottle for dropping pins in, and either a diet coke or a bottle of water (or both). 

So, as I was merrily quilting along today, removing pins as I went, guess where one of the pins got dropped?  Yup, right into the coke which I was still drinking.  The result?  One slightly caffeinated pin, to be retrieved once I'd finished the coke.  Sigh.  Yeah, it was that kind of a day. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's Time

Remember this bargello quilt from forever ago?  My very first post on this blog was actually about this quilt.  It's been layered, pinned, and partially quilted for... at least two years?  During that time it's been rolled up and curled on top of my fabric storage, serving mainly as a bed for Wilson (see below).  Well, the time has finally come to finish it off!

Wilson holds down the UFO
I've finished quilting the center and the first two borders and I'm halfway through the outer border.  I just marked the third side.  I'm quilting the outer border using a variation on an Arabic-inspired design I've been fascinated with for a while.

Third side marked and ready to quilt
 For anyone who is interested, this is how I do my more precise quilting.  I draw the design on grid paper first, transfer it to something rigid like cardboard, and cut out a template to mark the quilt with.

Grid paper to cardboard to template

With this template I mark one half of the design, then flip it and line up the common lines to mark the second half.  As I'm quilting I make an under-over weave everywhere the lines cross so that the design appears 3D.

 In this picture it's easier to see the chalk marks of the design.

I haven't decided what to bind it with yet, maybe a charcoal grey?  I don't have any of the outer border fabric left or I'd use it.  Plenty of time to decide while I'm quilting.  I can't wait to finally get this UFO done

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mr. Wilson

This is a post about my quilting companion Wilson, just because it's been a while since I talked about him.
Wilson "supervising" quilting.
I got Wilson while I was going to college.  Two years living in the dorms was the longest I'd ever gone in my life without a cat.  When I moved off campus into a duplex getting a cat was high on my priority list.

 I found a one-woman no-kill cat shelter and drove down on a cold February day to meet her 100+ cats.  I should mention, at this point, that Wilson is allergic to cats.  Yes, you read that right.  A cat who is allergic to cats.  When he is the only cat in the house it's not too bad.  He sneezes a lot, if he rough houses too much he breathes loudly, and his eyes run constantly. 

At the cat shelter, living with hundreds of other cats, it was a different story.  Even with twice a day allergy pills he was, well, pretty gross.  He breathed so loudly, even at rest, that he sounded like Darth Vader.  He had big snot globs clogging up his nose and going all over and he sneezed almost non stop.  It was gross, I really wasn't interested in him.  Besides, Wilson was already a year and a half old and I'd been planning on a younger cat.  But, while I was walking around looking at other cats, Wilson kept following me and climbing up into my arms.  He purred his phlem-y purr and eventually fell asleep in my arms.

The cat lady said, "Is he just melting your heart?"  "Yes," I said. "Does he do this with everyone?"  She said most people couldn't stand him for long enough to give him the chance.  She told me she was 95% sure that he was allergic to cats, didn't have a chronic respiratory infection or anything.  "When you've had him home a few days he should clear up," she promised.  My brain wasn't so sure about this.  If you'd been him back then you would have thought he had some major medical issues.  But, my heart said yes and on Feb. 14, 2009 my sniffling, wheezing, snotty baby was delivered by the cat lady.

Holding down a UFO

It took a few weeks, but gradually I noticed that Wilson's wheezing was quieter and his sneezing was less.  These days I just have to watch that he doesn't get too overexerted and start wheezing, and occasionally I find dried cat boogers stuck to the wall that need cleaning.  Oh, and he snores quite loudly. If there are other cats in the house I give him an allergy pill at night to sleep.  I think being so stopped up during his development may have permanently affected his balance.  He isn't graceful like other cats at all.  He's "special".

Wilson: Quilt Inspector performs a quality control assessment
I really appreciate the cat lady for being Wilson's first mama.  She not only saved his life, she gave him a name and looked out for him.  She had over a hundred cats in her care and she knew every one's name and personality and preferences.  If you have anyone like her in your area, I'd encourage you to support them.

After a run in with a snake.
Wilson has such a funny little personality.  I've had a lot of cats and I don't think any of them have had a personality like his.  He likes to be in my lap whenever possible.  If I had a dime for every time I've leaned across him to reach my sewing machine...  Every morning he comes and noses around my face until I raise up the bed covers to let him under.  He turns a few circles until he finds a good spot and then lays down with his head on the pillow and his body under the covers.

 He is a special, special boy and I'm lucky to have him.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Finished T-shirt Quilt

 I think I've said most of what I wanted to say about this quilt, so this post is mostly pictures.
The backing is a flannel sheet and all the bits of shirt/boxers/etc I had leftover set in a simple grid similar to the front.

I attached two of the tags from inside the t-shirts under the binding.

This is the shoulder panel from a camo shirt.
Wilson enjoyed breaking in the quilt this week.  Tomorrow it goes in the mail to my cousin.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Focusing on the Details

Today I pinned the t-shirt quilt of my uncle's clothes.
The last time I saw him was in July 2010, less than a month before he died suddenly. 
We were visiting family and my mom was making a point to tell everyone about my new quilting hobby.
Everyone was crowded around a laptop, looking at pictures from this blog, and he looked at me and said pointedly "I like quilts." I asked him if that was supposed to be a hint.
I asked him what kind of quilt he would like and he said "I like hunting and deer and trees and motorcycles." I told him he'd have to wait and see, privately shuddering and the idea of making a deer themed quilt. (Although that nice Paint-by-number line did come to mind.)
I was going to make him two quilts for Christmas. A "tacky" deer and camo one for his hunting cabin and a nice Carpenter's Star for his home. I'd already been browsing for fabrics after I got home from that trip, although I hadn't bought any yet. I was thinking about the designs, planning them out in my head.
He was a young man. He was funny and warm and alive -- and now he isn't. Sometimes focusing on the details seems to make it a little easier to deal with.
When I don't look at the whole picture at once it doesn't hurt as bad.
These were his clothes. He was a big man; I was able to do all the background pieces from one camo shirt and still had some left over.
I think it's important with a t-shirt quilt that it doesn't look like just any other quilt made with fabric bought off the shelf. These were clothes; they were worn by a real person. There are buttons and zippers and tags.
He always made me hug with "both arms" before he would let me go.
He was big and tough -- but he loved cats.
He rode his Harley from Mississippi to Texas to see me when I graduated high school.
He killed himself on August 17, 2010 and we miss him every day.

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