Monday, August 27, 2007

Some more stars i made today (Chickadee Quadrille). These are actually 9" but i plan to augment them so they'll fit with the 10" blocks. I'm still not sure about including turquoisey blues. I'm sort of inclined to limit it to indigo/French blues, that sort of range. Opinions on this appreciated.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Star Swap, Anyone?

I'm not sure how to organize a swap as i've never done it before, but I started this one with Norma and Lisa, two quilters in the States who, alas, are not yet in blogland, and i wondered if anyone else would like to join, as i find I'm making way more of each block than i need.

They're 10" indigo and white stars (the background can be light or dark--i.e. the reverse of what you see in these pictures). We've found lots of good patterns in Judy Hopkins' Around the Block and Once More Around the Block, as well as under 10" blocks. Also, they don't absolutely have to be star or star-like designs. Things like Chickadee Quadrille or Footstool or even Yankee puzzle would be fine, as far as i'm concerned. Overly simple designs like Friendship Star might not work as well, though, since the blocks are rather large.

The Castle Garden below isn't so precise because i made it before reinstalling a 1/4 inch seam guide on my machine. So don't worry, my piecing is usually more accurate than that.

I like this project because you can get carried away with it for an afternoon, making a bunch of one or two block patterns, and then leave it for a while until you feel inspired by another block design. Please contact me if you're interested.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Doll Quilts

The day after finishing a very long project, i was dying to finish something quickly, and these three doll quilts were the result. Sometime soon, I'd like do some doll quilts with traditional blocks, like Lucy has done.

This "cheating bargello" was an experiment: i cut strips out of striped fabric and then just rearranged them as you would with a normal bargello, like the one above.
Finally, here are some pictures of the log cabin project Brigitte and I are working on. It was Brigitte's idea and she made this first block (I snaffled it from her when she came to Hamburg).
The two below are ones I made, after finally figuring out a way to foundation piece them on fabric (without paper--paper didn't work for me at all) so the strips wouldn't be stretched out of shape. You wouldn't think log cabins could be so complicated, but these are 12" blocks and the strips were mainly cut across the grain, which made them extreeemely stre-e-etchy.

This bottom one I did without foundation piecing, and you can see the problem a little, although some were much worse.

The latest batch of strips I cut, I made sure to cut lengthwise,
with the grain, even if it meant much shorter strips, just to avoid the stretching nightmare i had in the beginning.

The other big challenge for me is deciding on such a long row of fabric strips to put together for each block, making sure that
a) they all fit our color scheme,
b) there's enough contrast and variation between lights and darks / cools and warms
c) i'm not repeating my favorite fabrics too often
d) i don't run out of certain colors, since many of these hues (e.g. that warm, light red, these soft blues, the apricot) I don't tend to have in my stash.

However, I think this joint project is broadening my horizons in some ways. I admire Brigitte's sense of color, so it's interesting to try to imagine whether she would approve of various combinations.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Inspired by Judy's challenge to fess up to UFOs, i haven't got time to find and photograph all of them, but here's my list:

  • some house blocks i pieced by hand (not sure if anything will ever come of them)
  • Imelda's Amish Dahlia (need to finish appliqué and put it all together)
  • Franny's yellow and blue stars
  • log cabins with Brigitte (I've made five and need about 15 more)
  • blue and white star sampler (a long, ongoing project)
  • pink and white single irish chain that i just started and am close to finishing.
  • Sister's Choice for moi me me!
  • Basil Garden for my guest room
This is not counting the long list of project i have in my head and haven't started yet :-)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Finally, a few pics from this summer's holiday.The mountains in South Tirol where we went hiking every day. We slept in a beautiful old Farmhouse.
This is at a seminary in Innsbruck, where some friends studied years ago. A current seminarian let us in to look around.

Marlene borrowed my hat as soon as we arrived at the Alm. She and Hans were wonderful hosts.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

This is a lap quilt I made for my sister Lisa. She's made so many beautiful quilts for other people, I figured she deserves a quilt more than anyone I know, which made her a perfect victim for my experiment with the Disappearing Ninepatch.
I've always hesitated to make a quilt for Lisa, thinking it would have to be perfect. That's why I decided to call this "Ode to Imperfection". Many of the seams don't match, partly because I decided this quilt actually looks better the less the seams match.
I like how it turned out. I think it looks especially good in the half dark, when the reds and lighter colors seem iridescent. Lisa will choose the borders, since we both agree she's probably got something that would work (most of the fabrics in this are things she's shared with me). Plus, we already have this collaborative habit of Lisa choosing borders and backings for my quilts, fabric being so expensive here. I figure since it's her quilt, all the more reason for her to choose the border fabric, although i have some ideas.
Basil GardenI finally finished the first quilt I ever started! It had been languishing as a UFO in my cupboard for years. The motivation for finishing it was Peg, the daughter of old friends in California, who's off to study theater in the Fall. This still needs borders, but i think i'm going to just go with more of the beige leaf that I used for the background. Actually, the very first quilt i ever made, if you could call it that, also happened to be for Peg, the summer she was born 18 years ago. It felt like cheating bcs there was no patchwork or appliqué involved. It was just a white fabric with colorful, stylized clowns on it. I stuffed the clowns' bellies with extra batting and machine quilted around the outlines of the clowns.
One last picture of Mia's quilt with the borders on. The binding is going to be a dark rust asian toile.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The obsessive piecing continues: Yesterday i started a new quilt, a single Irish chain in pink and cream for my Aunt Livia. I had the same dilemma with her fabric that i had with the quilt for Auntie Ada, i.e. the rose feature fabric was pretty in such a delicate way that it seemed most patchwork patterns would only detract from it. Even the single Irish chain, intended to frame blocks with roses, didn't work because there wasn't enough contrast. All of the combinations of fabrics and designs that would show up at all seemed too overwhelming. Sooo, i decided to save the lovely rose patterned fabric for another quilt (i already know for whom!) and just make this really simple, with plain cream blocks between the nine patches. Still using the tiny rose companion fabric. I've already got a good start on it and hope to finish it soon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Yesterday was the last day of my holidays. For some reason, i've been on this sewing jag the last couple of weeks. Maybe because i was longing to work on quilts for a couple of months before the holiday. So yesterday, I finished another quilt top, a lap quilt for my sister Lisa. Since i didn't want this to be yet another project on the list, I decided to make something really easy, that i could finish right away-- the disappearing ninepatch from that tutorial below. It's in batiks, mainly purples, greens and blues, with flashes of red and orange thrown in. I made it in two days, working on it constantly. I'm calling it "Ode to Imperfection." Can't wait to take pics so i can send it off.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Basil Garden Finished!

I finally finished piecing this quilt i started in 2001 and set aside until last week.

Today, I made three doll quilts in a row, just for the satisfaction of starting and finishing something in one day. One is a bargello with eensy squares. I don't even have any little girl recipients in mind for these. Will post pics when i get my camera back.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Since i haven't got pics of this years holiday yet, here, some pictures from last year's holiday. These are from Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This summer, i was in Regensburg, which reminded me a little of R.o.d.T. Another city that wasn't bombed. I wonder why so many tourists flock to places like Berlin, often ignoring the beautiful medieval cities.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

This is Brigitte at the Rathaus, when she came to Hamburg in June.

At the Hamburg main train station. We had a lovely weekend, checking out a couple of quilt stores and my tiny quilt book library, brunching at a little place near me. We also compared the blocks we'd been making for this log cabin we're doing together. Hers were much smoother and neater, but she helped me figure out what i'd been doing wrong (stretching the fabric as i sewed). The strips we are using are mostly across the grain, so they're very stretchy and since the blocks are 12", you can end up with some pretty puckery blocks! I also started sewing mine on a foundation and trying to include more strips that are cut on the grain, so now, apart from color choices, you can scarcely tell the difference between hers and mine. Brigitte is paper piecing hers. I wish i could show you pictures of the blocks, but my camera is somewhere in Southern Germany now. Some of the fabric that just arrived in the mail is intended for this project, so I'm looking forward to getting back to the log cabins sometime soon.
The Basil Garden marathon continues. I've now got more than enough 4" blocks for two twins. I'm only planning to finish one twin in the next few days and later on make a double for moi me me! (something my brother Ron used to say).

The only trouble i'm having at this stage is keeping the blocks organized to sew them in the proper order. If you're chain piecing, you can't just sew the blocks in their rows consecutively, so you can easily get confused about the order, especially if your multitasking extends beyond the sewing machine as well (I've been listening to Fresh Air and other NPR archives the last few days so my head is full of interviews with all manner of interesting people).

My lovely and talented cousin Norma just sent me two boxes full of beautiful fabrics intended for 4-5 different projects. They're spin drying as i type. Tomorrow, i'll probably start working with a few of them (it's way past bedtime for bears here).

This evening, my friend Sophie and i finished up our Pride and Prejudice marathon. We watched the 1995 BBC version--the last four hours tonight. I hadn't seen this earlier one in many years and now i have to agree with others who've been disappointed by the 2005 Joe Wright version. Though Matthew Mc Fayden smoulders beautifully, no one beats Colin Firth for a subtle and enigmatic Darcy. Generally the 95 version is far truer to the book and this generally makes for a better film altho not always. The 2005 version probably has more appeal for people who weren't already Austen fans. It seems as if Wright is trying to make it accessible even to the MTV generation. But as Sophie and i kept reminding ourselves, a lot of the difference is in the sheer length of the earlier version, which allowed for a more leisurely pace.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Basil Garden

Peg, the daughter of some old friends in California is off to college this Fall in Southern Cal. Beth says she likes blue, so after racking my brains for something special that I could do quickly, I finally decided to resurrect this blue and beige Basil Garden that I've been working on forever. It was actually the first quilt I ever started. Since i'm not very systematic and hate to follow instructions, I just made masses and masses of these tiny blue/indigo/ tea dye nine-patches, which means there are already almost enough for two quilts. I still want to make one for moi me me sometime down the line, but maybe finishing one will be motivating. All I need to do is make some more rail fence blocks to connect them et voilá!

Friday, August 03, 2007


This is my friend Nancy's cat Quaxo--name inspired by T.S. Eliot's The Naming of Cats. A few weeks ago, in the rush of the end of term, Nancy had to finish a quilt for her mother-in-law's birthday. I spent the night at her house in Bremen so I could help her finish tying it. I don't think i was actually all that much help, but we had a lot of fun telling stories while we tied. I'd brought my camera along to document the finished quilt, but kept forgetting to ask Nancy's permission--was so distracted by the conversation--and then when she wasn't there, i was so distracted by Quaxo. I'm crazy about Quaxo. I even bought him a souvenir in Italy.
Back from holiday and sewing up a storm, but since my camera is still on holiday in Switzerland, i will have to use words: I've been working on 10" indigo and white stars for that swap project. I've just finished making seven Castle Garden blocks from the book Once More Around the Block. Lots of tiny triangles and more flying geese and i didn't do it the easy way, but i'm determined to try that next time round. I was just so eager to get started and didn't anticipate that i'd make so many. Sort of got carried away.

I'm planning to send off 3-4 of these to my sister and cousin and keep the others for different sampler quilts. Also finished five sawtooth stars, also in indigo/white, using a beautiful botanical batik that my sister Lisa sent me for the large center squares.

Sometime in the next couple of days, i'd like to start this Grandmother's Fan quilt for my nephew. I've decided to sew the fans onto muslin and then use this dandy tutorial that Brigitte was kind enough to send me for sewing curves to attach them to the background, rather than using appliqué, altho i'm also considering cheating and machine appliquéing, then concealing that with embroidery, since the GF Marcos liked had embroidery where some GFs have lace. I'm excited about starting this. The indigo project can easily be put aside as it's intended to be something to work on a few blocks at time between other things anyway.