Friday, February 22, 2013

Quilt Progress Before the Guests Come

The mola quilt is coming along nicely and I have the patterns drafted for the four corners.  These will be the half Mariner's Compass blocks that are in the book just drafted a bit bigger.  Haven't auditioned the fabrics that will go in them though -- probably turquoise, the bright green, orange and yellow with the black background of course.

 I have been diligently (up until a few nights ago)  been working on the grid quilting in the Baltimore Album style quilt.  It is slow going but I am seeing progress finally.  My approach was to quilt from the outside in.  I was able to mark the grid on the green border fabric and then I mark on the intersections of the blocks.  Then I take the 1/4 inch wide masking tape and make the long rows and quilt away.  I first worked all the way around the outside and then went around again a row in and think I may have it past the halfway point.  The marking and quilting has been going faster until recently.

 Just another view of the bottom row with my one rather obvious  mistake as the green block is in upside down.  There is a little basket in the middle of the block that is the giveaway!  Maybe that will keep people from seeing the wonky nature of some of the gridded quilting!!

Yet another closeup.  Although the rows are somewhat wonky, I do quilt with very small stitches and the front is white cotton sateen so lovely to quilt through with the wool batting and the sheen shows up the quilting.  I don't want to do the grid in the border so will have to decide what to do there.

Unfortunately I managed to strain my neck a few days ago so have been pretty much stalled on everything as I am spending much of my time with first ice packs and now heat.  It is improving but probably a few more days before I dare do any of the focused quilting activities although I am pretty sure that was not the root cause as I hadn't done it the day before but who knows.  I finally managed to get a decent night of sleep even waking up three or four times.  At least I was able to go back to sleep last night which had eluded me for about three days!  With some luck I will get the Baltimore Album style quilt done for our quilt show!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Yellow Rumped Warbler Invasion and Mola Quilt

Much to my surprise, there were more than a dozen Yellow Rumped Warblers at Carolina Beach Lake today.  They were resting on trees, the buildings and posts.  They move swiftly so it was a little difficult to get good pictures but they are certainly identifiable.  I even got one where you can see the yellow on his rump giving them the name!

Now that I have finished all the machine quilting on the projects I brought down here, it was time to work on one of my planned projects -- the Lone Star quilt utilizing some of the molas I have gotten from Priscilla.  These aren't true molas in that there is no reverse applique but they are lovely hand embroidered pieces that Priscilla buys down on her many trips to the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama where she buys them directly from the Kuna Indians who make them.  I have far too many and may make a super huge Lone Star at some point to use a bunch of the larger ones.  

These are most of the individual units for this quilt.  I had cut the strips before I left Rochester so that sped things up a bit.  I had to go back to Jan Krentz's directions that she passed out in class to remember  many of her little tricks for putting these quilts together.  I still have to surround each one of the mola appliques with black like the one in the lower left corner.  Additionally in each of the corners there will be an additional paper pieced motif (kind of spikey).  I was glad that I was able to find four molas that were on point so that all the molas look like they were made for the quilt -- I tried to use colors that were repeated in the embroidered motifs as well.  Of course I favor the ones that have birds!!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Last of the Quilts Machine Quilted -- Ahhhh....

Finally the last of the basted quilts I brought down here has been finished!  Since the weather has been so nice, it has been a struggle to stay inside at the sewing machine.  

This basket quilt was the result of a year long exchange with quilting friends where we made one block a month to be given to a designated person fulfilling their requirements.  I had asked for my blocks to all be on point, have muslin colored backgrounds and be in the brown family.  I used one of those blue dissolving markers to mark the outside of circle of each wreath and to mark the corner motifs in the alternating muslin blocks.  Then I just quilted however I felt like it in the baskets.  In many, I added flowers or more leaves.  I decided instead of sponging out the markings, I would wash in cold water which gives it a much more puckery feeling than if I had left it alone.  I am not a big fan of puckery but using cotton thread almost guarantees that will happen even though I always wash my battings to pre-shrink.

This gives a little better feel for the feathered wreaths and corner motifs.  I didn't do any quilting in the borders this time!  I did free hand machine stitch around most of the individual pieces in each of the pieced and appliqued blocks though.  It was very fast!

This Red Breasted Merganser was very very difficult to get a picture of as he was diving almost continuously down at Ft. Fisher at the park two days ago.

Here is the first Yellow Rumped Warbler I have seen this year among the reeds at Carolina Beach State Park.  I think I am up to well over 60 different birds that I have seen there -- I may do a blog entry just on that one day!  If you blow this one up,  you can just see a touch of the  yellow on his rump!

I got this picture this afternoon as I wanted to get a walk in before it rained or snowed!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Art and Carolina Beach Lake!

I couldn't resist taking several pictures down at the lake the other day where the foamy mats (at least I think that is what they were) were beginning to move out because of the fountains being turned on.  It reminded me of some of the effects I have gotten with leftover size from marbling.  The rocks on the side of the lake are on the bottom right.

Another view on this cloudless day.

This was over in another section of the lake.

As before, the Coots were up and about.  I couldn't resist taking this picture -- look at those feet!!

Although not a great picture (he was awfully far away), the sun was shining just right to show off the very iridescent head of this male Bufflehead down at the lake.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Serendipity Quilts -- The Synopsis!

The final "serendipity" is completed and finally the cats left it long enough for me to take a picture.  This is the last of these  quilts to be machine quilted.  They were all pieced in late 2011 and throughout 2012, mostly down here at the beach as I always need projects.

This is the fabric that was used to create the kalaidoscopic blocks  in the above quilt and on which the other coordinating fabrics were based.  I am a big purple and yellow fan!

This was the one that I pieced out of previously done blocks shown below.

Believe it or not, this was actually the second iteration as I had made two separate tops and then decided to combine them.  In tearing things apart, I did manage to lose a couple of blocks.  I didn't have enough blocks to do the kalaidoscopic blocks around the middle hexagons so did two-colored stars instead which made it different from my other approaches.  Part of the fun for me in making these is making all the blocks for the most part different but not so different that they do go together cohesively.  I like surprises in my quilts and trying to make you look closer.

This was the one with the most different blocks in it.  It is a fairly good sized quilt as I had a LOT of the main fabric which was ugly as sin!!  It is pictured below.  Wish I had pictures of all the beginning fabrics but unfortunately wasn't able to find them when looking through my pictures.

It did have a large repeat and I had plenty of it -- had originally planned on using it as a quilt back I am sure -- it was on one of those remnant piles back when lots of dime stores had a fabric section.

This was the largest of the quilts and made especially for the king sized bed down here.  It is again made from a really ugly but soft cotton sateen whose colors perfectly matched this bedroom.  I did the color matching from memory and did pretty well!!  It has a very differnt setting from the rest as I didn't offset the blocks so that instead of being surrounded by the inset blocks, they have pairs between them.  I wanted the extra length so at the top and bottom you will see the groups of four like lace work. Instead of making the blocks based on star kalaidoscopic blocks, I used hexagon blocks in the centers instead for this one.  I also added a wide white border (with backing and batting) after the quilt was all basted as it needed a finish.  I did a wide rambling feather in blue thread and th en added the blue binding.  The back is a nice blue batik that also matches the walls.

This was made from fish fabrics.  I had originally planned to combine this fabric with the one below as they had many of the same colors but amazingly they didn't look good together so they ended up as separate quilts.  This was the third one that I did.  I used the same background fabric thorughout except for the small triangles around the middle blocks and the orange leading out from the blocks so you have the illusion of bigger blocks.  They are all the same simple hexagons which are so easy to piece with Sara Nephew's easy instructions.

This was the second of the quilts I did and used different background fabrics for the middle than I did for the outside.  I also added the star points so it definitely looks like a medallion quilt.  My settings are very different from the ones in the books from which I took the b locks.  I also started experimenting with the blocks in this quilt, making them different and also adding additional pieces to many of the stars so you won't find all the blocks in the books from this quilt on through the rest of the quilts (all but the one below).

This was the very first one that I did.  I used all the same blocks and just followed the book except when it came to the setting.  I used a 3/4/3 block setting and changed the background colors.  The fabric for this was a different colorway of one of my favorite fabrics.  It was very difficult to match the blue greens here as this fabric was probably 15 years old!

The quilting for all of these was basically sewing in the ditch between the blocks lengthwise and then across on the long seams which resulted in each of the hexagons being sewn around.  I then tried to find motifs in each of the kalaidoscopic blocks to free hand stitch around and then filled in stitching in the ditch for the most part on different parts of the hexagons.  In the border I used a meandering pattern for the most part.  These quilts are so busy, the quilting doesn't show anyway!  I did a bit more on the first two I quilted but decided not to on the later ones.  Because of how I did the king sized quilts (no stars in that one), I was able to just do row upon row of straight stitching in the ditch outlining each triangle basically.  My Juki mid-arm LOVES to do this straight stitching in a ditch and just whizzes along full speed ahead!

I should note that as a starting place I used Sara Nephew's Serendipity and Doubledipity Quilts books.  I had brought them down with me last year as I loved the look of the quilts but they looked like I needed to really concentrate to do them as you have to do some of your own thinking (like with Dear Jane blocks).  Making the first quilt just whetted my apetite and I have had a wonderful time expanding upon the block creation and the settings.  I will probably do more before I get bored.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Birds and Quilts

Surprisingly, with all the Ruddy Ducks I have seen over the years down here, I had never seen a male until this last week when several males showed up at Carolina Beach Lake.  For some reason I hadn 't even realized it and was puzzling over what this duck was when I first saw it.  They do dive very frequently and move away quickly when they see you but I managed to get this decent picture anyway!  They have a bill almost like the Shovelers.

I also spotted this lone gull out on the lake and knew it looked a little different even at a distance.  It wasn't hanging out with the other gulls at all.  It is a Bonapartes Gull which I have seen before but not at the lake.

The Coots have been acting quite strangely lately.  They are not hanging out together and large groups are up on the land and very close to human traffic.  Don't know whether this has anything to do with the fact that they have put some chemicals in the lake lately (after they filled it up again).  One day the water in the fountains was bright blue!

On the nice warm days, the Yellow Bellied Sliders pile up on the side of one of the side swampy areas.  You can see from where they get their names!

Last but not least a Song Sparrow sitting on one of the reeds in the lake.  I didn't realize they liked to be near water.

Another of the Serendipity quilts is finished!  I will have a blog of the whole series for the next blog as I am finishing up the binding on the last one I have machine quilted down here.  Of course I have fabric to make more!!  This one is the one I made from  taking apart a top I had finished.  I had liked the fabric but didn't like the top as it was just too boring.  

The weather is again gorgeous down here so little work gets done except for sitting on the porch reading and watching the pelicans fly by!  I continue to quilt on the Baltimore Album and finally feel like I am making some progress.  It is a quilt that will be best viewed from a horse riding by though!   I did the applique close to 30 years ago and I can't take out any mistakes in the quilting because the stitches are too small so there are quite a few very wonky areas!