Monday, January 30, 2017

Just for Fun - A Mini Improvisational Quilt

 The speaker at Tuesday's meeting of the Crosstown Quilters Guild did a color exercise with us.  Piles of fabric scraps were put on our tables, and she suggested that if a particular piece of fabric caught out eye, we were welcome to take it. This 4" by  8" skyline piece caught my eye, and so it came home with me. Just for fun, I decided to challenge myself to use it in a small improv piece. First, I pulled some pieces that I thought might go well with it from my overflowing scrap basket . Then I began playing.

I had planned to spend only a couple of hours on it, but I ended up spending a few days on it!  I would put up small sections on my design wall, rearrange them, sew them together, and then rip it apart. I'd have an arrangement that I liked, but the next morning, not so much. I threw out parts, created new ones, and finally settled on this arrangement.

One other note . . .  I had asked the speaker what she did to have her art quilts be so flat and hang so perfectly. She explained that she puts 'deco bond' on the back of the top which I then did with this piece. Because this was such a small piece, it would not have been necessary, but I thought I would give it a try before trying it on a larger piece. It makes for a slightly stiffer piece, but it was still easy to quilt through.

Flashback . . . when I was little, I attended a girl scout day camp for two happy weeks each summer. We did all sorts of fun outdoor activities and the days flew by. On the last day of the session, there was always a closing ceremony. One memorable time, I portrayed the Statue of Liberty complete with crown, cardboard and construction paper torch, and a sheet draped around me. With torch held high, I had to recite the closing lines of Emma Lazarus' "The New Colossus" . . .

   Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses 
yearning to be breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore;
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp besides the golden door. 

 That has always been America's creed, and that is why our new President's executive order this weekend banning people from certain countries was so shocking. In the effort to provide national security, let us pray that we don't abandon the principles that have always made this country great and a beacon of freedom in this troubled world.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Finish #2 and Joy in Patriots Nation!!!

I know what you're thinking . . . Wait . . .  Wasn't this piece already posted? Well, yes and no  . . . I posted a similar wall hanging that was a gift to my wonderful godchild for Christmas. This is the one that I had tried out some of the quilting on first, and so bits and pieces of it were already done. I know myself well; if I had put it in the pile of things to be finished it might not have surfaced for another year or two!  So, in keeping with my word for this year, "Finish" that's what I did!!!

Here's the top of a vintage baby quilt that I just finished restoring.  It has great sentimental value to a young lady who my flute teacher knows, so I gave it a try. The backing was completely shredded, the polyester batting was 3/4 of an inch thick, the binding was torn and hanging by a thread in a few spots, and the top itself was clean but discolored with age. 

I had this piece of fabric below in my stash which coordinated well with the top. Though I was tempted to add a soft pink binding I used this same fabric as the binding in keeping with its original appearance. Hopefully the young lady will be pleased.  I also did some simple quilting to put together the layers as it had originally been tied.

Last night the New England Patriots punched their ticket to Super Bowl LI in Houston. Tom Brady and the boys 'did their jobs' magnificently and the hearts of all in Patriots Nation are thrilled and excited. Go Pats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Be Still My Hearts

The Quilters Connection Guild in Waltham is having its 40th anniversary show in June. Members have been asked to participate in a Ruby Red challenge by making a ten inch block design. Though I cropped the photo of my block for this post, it actually has a  2.5 inch border around all sides. The blocks will be mounted on canvas frames for display at the show.  The really exciting news is that Katie Pasquini Masopust will be speaking the night before the show. I will be sure to provide more details as the date approaches.

On another note, we can all agree that our recent election was the most divisive in modern history.  This cartoon in Saturday's newspaper reflects my feelings exactly. Having said that, on Friday, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as our 45th President. Though I was devastated by the results of this election, I respect the democratic process and will pray that somehow the rifts in our country will be healed.

Monday, January 9, 2017


A friend gave me a pot of crocuses for Christmas which came into bloom on Saturday during a blizzard which left ten to twelve inches of light, fluffy snow. It just so happens that all of my violets which are presently blooming are in shades of purple.

For fun, I played with this image with it's cluttered background in the Moku Hanga app on my iPad. Moku Hanga is the traditional Japanese method of wood-block printing. With this app, you can transform any of your photos to suggest this art form.

Here are two examples of how the app works.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Autumn Wall Hanging - First Finish of 2017

This cornucopia quilted wall hanging was a Christmas gift for my cousin/godchild Kristin. She had requested a Thanksgiving wall quilt, but unfortunately, I didn't finish it in time.

Part of the reason it was late was that I wanted to see how the quilting might look, so I made another very similar quilt for myself to try out my ideas. The leaves turned out well, and I really like my corn.

I didn't want to stipple the background, so I did evenly spaced slanted lines which brings me to a question. Do you ever quilt the backing, batting, and top layer before adding the raw edge applique? I'm thinking that might be a better idea and plan to give it a try next time. 

In case you are interested, here is the pattern info.  My quilt is about 75% done, so I'm going to try and finish it up this week. 

I finished sewing the label on the quilt about a half hour before Kristin and her girls arrived for "Ladies Lunch." (When their school has early dismissal, they come for lunch and a visit.) Emma is beyond excited when she sees them at the door and they love her, too. Because Emma had recently had a birthday, they came bearing cards and a gift.

From the ten year old, Miss L.

From the eight year old, Miss T.

And the gift . . .

Later that night I went to a friend's house to celebrate another friend's birthday. She had a delicious cake, but hers didn't squeak!!!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

My Photo Year 2016 in Review

It was difficult to select my five favorite photos from 2016.  Actually, my very favorite photos are those of happy moments spent with my little cousins.  This photo was from September when five  photographers and I took a private photo tour of Connemara with Ireland West Tours. It was a truly magical day. Ireland is a beautiful country,  a dream for travelers and photographers alike.

One of the rewards for hours spent working in my garden is the joy of capturing with my camera the butterflies, bees, and ever changing blossoms.

These stacked, brightly colored canoes were photographed in NH. I have a similar scene from a previous year with these canoes in the snow .

And finally,  I just had to include this shot of Emma and her shadow because I love it!!!

Monday, January 2, 2017

My Quilt Year in Review

At the beginning of last year, I featured a few of my favorite quilt pieces that were completed during the course of 2015. Here are five of my favorites from 2016.  My crazy quilt wall hanging, Simpler Times - Photos from My Grandmother's Album, is the piece of which I am most proud.

This Row by Row Mermaid was great fun to embellish, and I wrote a series of posts about it back in July. My favorite post title was called Working for Scale on a Mermaid's Tail.

Though started in 2015, I didn't get my courage up until 2016 to quilt Happiness, a pattern by Jacqueline de Jonge.

I also finished this hand applique, David Taylor Hummingbird  piece.

A class with Marge Tucker led to my improvisational piece, Forever in Blue Jeans.

 I'm happy that I continue to explore all types of quilting. I am not happy that I am so bad about finishing larger quilts. It's embarrassing to admit that I have seven quilt tops piled up in the corner of my quilting studio. (By studio I mean a tiny bedroom but it is more fun to say my quilt studio. :-) So, my word for 2017 will be "FINISH." I, and furthermore, I resolve to quilt/finish one quilt top per month. Now I admit I had been sorely tempted when Bonnie Hunter announced her mystery quilt en ProvenceI had in my stash the necessary suggested fabrics and did begin making some of the first blocks. Then I stopped because of my resolve to not start any new quilts.  Everything was going fine until this morning when the completed quilt was revealed. It is lovely so you guessed it, there goes my resolve!!!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year 2017

Yesterday, I got together with four friends that I have known forever and a day at our friend Jan's house.  We had planned to get together one Saturday before Christmas, but the weather hadn't cooperated.  After lunch, we exchanged small gifts. This year I gave each one a mug and a mug mat. Jan loves to bake, so she received this cupcake mat. Here are the other three.

For my travel buddy . . .

These messages are from a June Taylor "Inspirational Mug Mat" package which includes seven  messages printed on fabric along with individual patterns. I used the printed messages but made my own patterns to showcase the message and the fabric from my stash that I had selected for each one. I also had made two other quilt-themed mug mats that I forgot to photograph. One read something like, "If I sew fast enough, will it count as an aerobic exercise?"

Jan's gift to those of us with pierced ears was a pair of her pretty hand crafted earrings.

She also sent home for Emma a squeaky dinosaur toy which as you can see Emma was thrilled to receive.


May the year ahead bring us all health, happiness, fun, and lots of interesting adventures!!!