One of my fellow bloggers recently titled a post “Thirty Days of Thankfulness“, and that strikes me as a good idea. Much of her post ended up being about making cards to thank people for various things, which seemed like a good idea, too.
Then another blogging friend, Chela, commented that the day after Halloween is WAY too soon to start Christmas music in the stores. The combination got me thinking…
Maybe instead of the month of December being about shopping and decorating, it might be a time of reflecting on what we have to be thankful for. Thanksgiving could be the kickoff, and that would give us exactly a month of thankfulness until Christmas. Just saying.
It’s not difficult to think of something I’m thankful for every day, but since this is really a quilt blog, here are 10 quilty things for which I am thankful:
- My hands and eyes work well enough to make quilting fun.
- I learn something from every quilt I make.
- I’m thankful for my sewing machine!
- Many fabric designers and manufacturers provide wonderful fabrics for me to work with.
- I’m thankful for my rotary cutter! Yes, I started quilting in the days before rotary cutters!
- Many people have taught me along the way, and I appreciate their contributions.
- Quilting books are an endless source of inspiration!
- I appreciate the way my blog puts me in touch with other quilters, and the way we share ideas.
- My quilt studio is well equipped, and this time of year I especially enjoy the wood heat.
- I’m thankful for the way quilting has helped me make good friends everywhere we’ve lived over the years.
What are you thankful for? And yes, next week it’s back to our regularly-scheduled program with quilt pictures! Thanks for stopping by.
We recently met friends for dinner at Balsam Mountain Inn, a large “railroad hotel” built in 1908 with a train station right in front. Before the days of air conditioning, it was a popular summer spot for vacationers from the cities; the Inn is at 3500 feet elevation.
Photo from Balsam Mountain Inn’s Facebook Page
The floor of the sun porch, where we ate, had an elaborate pattern made up of those one inch tiles that were common in the early 20th Century. We were told the floor is not “original equipment” but it is in keeping with the period.
A friend took some pictures of the floor for me, since I immediately wanted to document the pattern for possible use in designing quilts. These were taken with my cell phone in low light, so the quality is not great, but I thought you’d like to see the floor anyway. You can look up Balsam Mountain Inn on Trip Advisor and see better pictures of the floor as well as the Inn.
This is the one that first caught my eye as a potential motif for a quilt.
And here is a design I made with EQ8 based on the floor. I think it is way too fussy for me to ever make as a quilt. It would make a better embroidery design.
I actually put this quilt top together last year, but waited to finish it because the grandson for whom it was made wasn’t in a “big boy bed” yet. Now, here is the finish in time for his pre-Christmas excitement.
The idea was to use cute Christmas novelty prints. There are plenty of those available, but they don’t lend themselves to intricate piecing so I used the old reliable Turning Twenty Again pattern. I’m not sure I like how chopped-up it looks, but the point is for the child to have fun finding the different items in the novelty prints, and the layout serves that purposeThe quilting was done by my friend Joyce Miller in a pattern of swirling snowflakes.
The backing is a flannel I bought a couple of years ago. Flannel shrinks more than most cotton fabric, so I pre-washed it.
The finished size is 62″ x 73″.
Naturally I have started work on Christmas projects.
First, a “big boy bed” quilt for my younger grandson, which is ready except for binding. Here are some of the cute fabrics and the cozy flannel backing:
I made a set of Christmas place mats for a quick place mat class I’ll be teaching in December.And I’ve finished the top for this quilt to be given to some special people who presumably do not read my blog!This is a modification of a pattern I found in a Quilter’s World publication called Autumn Colors:I kept the size of the squares and the idea of wonky stars. I love wonky stars! However, I added a row of squares all the way around, repositioned the stars, and eliminated the big borders. I’ll show it again when it’s quilted and bound.
What are you up to?
As my friend Melanie recently pointed out, travel can inspire creativity. We just got back from a loooong drive across the country to New Mexico and back, and I took a few pictures of things that inspired me.First, we saw literally thousands of these wind generators across the flat, windy, high plains of West Texas and Oklahoma. The complex shape of the blades is quite an engineering feat by itself, even before the rest of the contraption is considered. It was great to see renewable energy in action, and these are attractive additions to the landscape in my opinion. (No, we never saw any dead birds near them, despite looking. Research in Europe suggests this is mostly an urban myth.)
In New Mexico, I looked for the details that said “Southwest”. These design elements are a kind of shorthand for “you are here” and I thought that idea would be useful in designing quilts (or anything else). Here are a couple.
Stucco walls, turquoise trim, tile roof
Courtyard enclosed by a stucco wall with a wooden gate; tile accent along roof edge; flat roof
Now, I’m off to learn to organize my photos in Photoshop so I can find the rest of the pictures from the Southwest 😀
One of my objections to some of the quilting establishment is that every single thing about a quilt is supposed to be “perfect”—meaning made to the specifications of the current quilt maven, whoever (s)he may be. I once signed up for a series of classes that lead through many quilting techniques to the ULTIMATE QUILTING ACHIEVEMENT: a quilt with many tiny pieces cut on the bias, all points perfectly matched!
I did make some quilts I liked in those classes! Design by Cindy Williams
Part way through the class I realized that, for me, learning to make everything more precise was not an enjoyable activity. I quilt for my own satisfaction, and my version of fun involves developing designs rather than copying somebody else’s design as precisely as possible. In fact, even when I buy a pattern, I rarely follow it exactly. My “variations” on these patterns are a (friendly) joke among my quilting buddies: “Mary can’t just make the pattern, she has to change something.”
I substituted one large block for 4 of the small ones.
My goal is to give each task the time and energy it deserves, no more and no less. For example, I think doing a quilt binding the traditional way, by hand, is a waste of time and energy in many cases. A machine-applied binding is more durable, faster, and at least as attractive. I even read one modern quilter’s opinion that a machine binding “adds an extra line of quilting on the back!” So much for the quilt maven’s worry that the machine stitching from the front shows on the back! I do occasionally apply a binding by hand, but there has to be a reason for it.
I applied this binding by hand in the traditional way because I didn’t want machine stitching on the front to “fight” with the striped border
So what’s your opinion? Which quilting techniques/designs/details are worth the trouble and which should be modified? Leave me a comment!
Have you ever noticed that, whenever you try to finish a big project, other little projects just creep in?
Since I always have at least one “big project” going, I guess it’s inevitable that the other things that need doing have to be fit in sideways. Lately there’s been a lot of that.
First, I appliqued an orphan block to a bag for a speaker I invited to our modern guild.
This is a great use for orphan blocks. Just attach to a bag, and you have a handmade gift!
Then I found a tutorial for a pyramid bag and had to make a few…plus one more this week!Finally, our travel wine glasses (they are Lexan, and disassemble for safe travel) needed a travel case:In the midst of all this, I started having trouble with my walking foot while trying to quilt another project! Does a walking foot wear out???
In any case, I think I have procrastinated with little projects as long as I can, so I’d better go bind a few quilts. Have a good week!
So I went to the Asheville Quilt Guild’s annual show, which usually has lots of inspiration. There were many nice quilts, but two quilt makers stood out, in my opinion.
The first is Diana Ramsay, whom I know from the Modern Quilt Guild, which used to exist in Asheville. Here are her quilts:
Dutch Holiday by Diana Ramsay
Detail of Dutch Holiday
Fascinating Rhythm by Diana Ramsay
Bulls Eye II, by Diana Ramsay
Although I don’t know Linda Fiedler, I was very impressed by her quilts, as well:
Moonglow, by Linda Fiedler
Detail of Fusion by Linda
Fusion, by Linda Fiedler
The guild’s gift shop always has something I wish I had made, and this year it was a little pyramid bag. Of course I bought it.
I’ve always liked pyramid bags, which I first saw years ago in a craft store in Berea, Kentucky. I had a pattern to make one, but it seemed pretty complex. The internet to the rescue! I found several sets of instructions and even videos. Here are the instructions I used:
And here is the first set of pyramids.
They were quick and easy! Do I hear a Christmas gift idea?
One of the best things about quilting is being able to give quilts to people who will appreciate them. Our friends Jim and Michele recently moved and, when we went to see them and the new house, I took two big piles of quilts so that each of them could choose a quilt to use in their new home.
We loved the modern house they chose in a wooded setting. I think Abby the dog loves it, too
Michele chose a quilt to cuddle under while watching TV or reading, and to my surprise it was a traditional sampler quilt made from a block swap with friends. The choice certainly reinforced my idea of letting friends choose their own quilts rather than choosing for them.
Who knew that a photo in bright sun would show up the quilting so well?
Jim chose one to hang in his music studio. Michele recently sent a picture of the quilt hanging there. As you can see, it goes well with his other bright decor. This is a variation on a design I did for Modern Quilts Unlimited several years ago.
What have you been up to?
It all started with this beautiful batik that was ON SALE…And I have quite a collection of batik scraps from other projects, so I decided to make a scrap quilt with colors that would go with the sale fabric. Initially, I made the blocks really scrappy:
Then I made a few that were more controlled and liked them better:
This is just up on the design wall, not sewn, and I’m thinking of taking out the really scrappy ones. They kind of jar my nerves.But, what do you think? It’s good to have opinions from quilty friends!