Cheri Chatter

Cheri Chatter

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Quilt Surgery

Last week's finish was a long time coming. Every time I teach a Lone Star class, I make a Lone Star to demonstrate all the steps involved. I learn best by seeing something done, and I think a lot of other people do too.

I used similar fabrics (Civil War reproductions) in the first four classes, intending to put all four into one larger quilt. What else are you going to do with a growing pile of small stars? I don't know that many newborns, and one on my wall is enough! I had one star to finish assembling.

After completing the last star, I discovered one of the previous stars had a pretty wavy edge.  It wasn't going to match the other three.  What to do? Quilt surgery, that's what! I had to resize that piece by trimming off one edge to square it up. The new fit was perfect.

I added sashing and 9-patch cornerstones to join the four stars. At the last minute I substituted a green fabric for the light tan in the cornerstones. As soon as it was together, I knew I had made a mistake. Yes, the green pulled out the small amounts of green in the stars, but there was no value difference with the purple fabric. Plus it broke up the flow of the sashing design by introducing a third fabric.

What to do? More quilt surgery! I had nine cornerstones to remove from a 90" square top. Removing and replacing the four corners was like removing appendixes, the four side cornerstones like setting broken limbs. But replacing the center cornerstone was like doing open heart surgery. Kinda tricky and very cumbersome.

The final result was well worth the extra effort. It's a more cohesive design; the cornerstones weave right into the sashing. Welcome to the world, Four-Square Star!

Now, do I add a border or just bind it with that green fabric???

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sun Dogs

Every January for the past few years I attend a quilting retreat at the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center put on by a great gal and teacher, Carole Wilder. She has created an event that is attended by 40+ regulars who wouldn't miss it for the world. I'm getting to know all of them and look forward to catching up with them and their projects.

The view from my sewing table was spectacular. We're situated high on the bluffs overlooking the Root River in southeastern Minnesota.  From that vantage point, I love to keep an eye peeled for wildlife.  I'm never disappointed. Soaring eagles. A huge raven. And a bright red cardinal that flew down to the deep snow to pick up seeds that had fallen in the heavy winter gusts. The wind blew the cardinal sideways as it made its way from seed to seed, tipping it over at times. I wonder how it would have felt seeing a crowd of laughing quilters peering down at it's struggles?

But the highlight this time were the sun dogs. The wind kept enough ice crystals suspended in the air to create a rainbow around the rising sun. They became bigger, brighter, and more colorful as the sun became brighter and higher in the sky. It lasted for hours. This picture just doesn't do it justice. I had to block out the sun with the window frame so the sun dogs on either side show up.

Can you see them? They were intensely bright in their centers and the colors of the rainbow. You'll have to take my word for it! The sun had a bright horizontal and another vertical ray running through it, too.

What an amazing light show!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Calvin's Baseball Quilt

This week's finish is a big one, Calvin's baseball quilt. It's one of the easiest quilts one could do. Big pieces sewn together to form a baseball diamond and then a couple of borders.

It was designing the center that stumped me. I wanted to applique baseball bats and other baseball paraphernalia to fill up some of that open space. How to do it so it looked somewhat realistic and not stupid? I've had a mental block about it for two years.

Then 52 finishes came along, and I decided that this quilt had to go to the top of the list. Just recently I discovered that I could pull up images from the internet. (Okay, I'm a little behind the times!) I found images for bats, baseballs and all manner of things baseball-related.  

And I remembered that I own an alphabet stencil. The letters were just the right size. A little fusible interfacing, fabric markers, some zigzagging and, viola, the center was done! 

The most interesting result is that a huge weight has been lifted, and I feel excited about (rather than dreading) the next unfinished challenges.  On to the next UFO . . . 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Taking Stock of 2013

Every January I take stock of what quilting projects I finished the year before. I am incorrigibly competitive, and since I'm the only quilter in the house, I compete with myself. My previous all-time high was fourteen finishes.

Sometimes my finish starts the year as a completed top that needs to be quilted. At the end of the year I'll have more tops to get quilted the following year, and those don't count. So it all comes out in the wash.

I beat myself this year: seventeen finishes! Fifteen were my own quilts, and two were tops made for others to quilt and bind. One was a Star quilt top for a Tuesday Friend that I traded for porcupine quills. It made a bride and groom very happy. Wish I had a picture to show you. I whipped that one out so fast, I didn't think to get a photo!

The other was a queen sized 9-patch design (also no pic) made out of two and three yard pieces of fabric cut in two on the fold and used as table runners at my niece's wedding reception.  All my piecing strips had to be cut lengthwise, and yardage was tight in some places. We decided not to prewash for that reason, and I had to cut around a couple of food spills. Quilting always brings new challenges!

Along with taking stock, I look at what quilt projects I want to tackle in the new year. There are projects I feel I must do. That "must" word tends to suck the joy right out. So I've balanced my list with fun new projects to get started on. I'm going to try to alternate between old and new throughout the year, but I'm itching to start on a floral "Spring Fling".

I also want to balance piecing projects with handwork.  I miss doing applique.  I have a few quilts I want to hand quilt with a big stitch. And I'm having fun with embroidery and crochet. Idle hands are the devil's work after all!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

52 Finishes

I decided to jump onto the 52 Finishes bandwagon. Susan blogged about it on Glad's blog, and I had discussed it with my friend, Georgia, too. The idea is to finish one thing every week. It could be big, small, quilting-related or not. We get to make our own rules.

My friend, Cindy, says it would never work for her - she doesn't have 52 things to finish. "What about 52 drawers or closets to clean out?", I said. She looked at me like I was crazy. "Cheri, I'm OCD. They don't need it!" Seriously? Wish I was OCD.

But I'm not. This is my first week.  It started last Sunday and ends today. So if I finish something today, I'll have two finishes this week. The scraps I cut up and blogged about earlier in the week is my first finish (see below). I'll be ahead of the game if there is slippage down the road. Yee-hah!

Since I love to make lists, I'll keep a list of finishes too. I guess that's a little 'ocd'. There's hope for me yet!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

It's a New Year!!

I'm back after a long absence! Reviving my blog is one of the many New Year's resolutions I have set for myself. If I blog about my resolutions, it should keep me blogging for a looooong time.

I decided that January would be a month for me to start processing my scraps using Bonnie Hunter's "Scrap Users System" which you can find on her website, I'm so inspired by her scrappy approach to quiltmaking and think it will provide me with a good starting place for turning my scraps into quilts.

I started this week with two bins of scraps - leftovers from previous quilts that I could not throw away. As you can see, one of them is now empty. It took a while to get into the swing of it, but after a while, I picked up speed.

I cut my leftovers into squares and strips in several usable sizes: 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, and 3.5 inches. I also cut a few charm squares - just cause I love 'em! They look really cute in my 5" Art Bin box. And see those little half-square triangles? Those are old leader/enders that measure 1" finished. 

I hate to throw fabric of any size away, so the trimmings are going to friends who will turn them into dog beds. I have a big bag of them.

I'm going to start with the 2" squares and make an Irish Chain quilt as a leader/ender project. I need 264 four-patch units. Wonder how long that will take?