buriedinscraps

Decide what to be and go be it.

Archive for the tag “challenges”

Who thinks this stuff up?

How do you go from this

beforeto this?

rushmoreWho looks at a mountain and says, “I think I’d like to see George Washington’s face on that mountain.  And as long as I’m carving, why don’t I just add Tom and Teddy and Abe so George won’t be lonely.”  When I look at a mountain, I see rocks and not faces.  But Gutzon Borglum saw faces and went to work to be sure that we saw them also.  Some well placed explosives, drills, lots of time , blood, sweat and tears and there are four president’s faces looking back at you from the side of a mountain.

I get the thought process…the creative vision.  What I don’t get  is the actual process.  I don’t get how you look at this huge expanse of rock and say if I put X pounds of dynamite in this little, drilled hole and press the plunger, I’ll have Washington’s nose big enough to see it in Wyoming.  Well, maybe not Wyoming, but you get the idea.  Someone had the patience and vision to take a small sculpture and reproduce it on a grand scale.

Aren’t we quilters similar to Borglum?  Obviously, not on such a grand scale….although who wouldn’t want to see a quilt the scope of Mount Rushmore?  I think if I had time I could piece it and still have stash left over!  But we are very much like the sculptor.  We take a piece (or pieces) of fabric and we see a quilt.  And we all have our own vision.  I know that I could show a piece of fabric to ten different quilters and see ten different visions.  Some would see flowers, some would see faces, some would see landscapes and some would see abstract shapes.  We would all see something different…something uniquely “me”.  And we would create something that may be similar to something else; (I adhere to the theory that there is very little that’s new under the quilting sun.)  but at the same time, something that speaks to us alone.  And the best part is that we can do it without one stick of dynamite!  Unless we want to…….

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I love a new beginning….

I love starting new projects.  I just have trouble finishing them.  When I go into my sewing room, I always intend to work on finishing something.  But then I get like that cat that sees a sun ray on the floor…bat, bat, batting at it.  So easily distracted.  Oh, don’ t those fabrics look good together.  What can I do with them?   And I’m off and running with a new shiny thing.

I know that I can never have the discipline to finish one thing before I start another.  I just have too much churning around in my brain and everyday I have less and less time and I just have to see how this might look.  The birth of a new project.  But I firmly believe it’s the birth of a new project that keeps my mind fresh.

Yesterday I saw that I had too many projects in various states of completion.  Something had to give.  And I know I can’t stop myself from starting something new.  I’m sweating just thinking about it!  I have convinced myself to finish one project every month.  So here is my Completion #1–my inner hippie quilt that I believe I’ll call Peace Out, Man.

quiltIn this post, I told you why I stepped out of my box and made this.   I finished the piecing and applique and hit the brick wall I always hit–how to quilt it.  Free motion quilting and I are not best buddies.  We try to be and we’re cordial but we aren’t friends.  I suppose it’s because I haven’t taken the time to really get to know him.  (It must be him because he’s so aggravating! 🙂 )  I love to piece but don’t really like to actually quilt.  So, I delay the inevitable until the very last possible minute.  I’m told the key to FMQ is practice, practice, practice.  But since I set aside completed tops in hopes that the quilting fairy comes in and quilts them at night while I’m sleeping (she doesn’t), I don’t practice much.  Each time I decide to FMQ, I’m starting over.  So, on this quit I decided to practice feathers…once again.  I have not given up on feathers!  I feel like the details and stippling in the center of the quilt look pretty good.

close_upI saw the improvement from first feathers to last.   Not my best work, but at least they look like feathers!

feathersThere’s hope for me after all!  But, most importantly, one down and who knows how many to go!

My last post was buried in the reader so I’ll ask this again.

threadSee the pretty notch?  When I’m FMQ-ing, the thread sometimes gets caught in there.  Usually it’s when I’m on a good roll.  I wish thread companies would do away with them.  But until they do, are there any remedies out there?

In a funk…

I’m in a funk.  I hate funks!  But I’m in a funk. 

lackadaisical-184714I had every intention of telling you about my third grandchild.  I was going to show you the crumb blocks that my sister made me make.  I was going to show you New York Beauty blocks that I completed.  But I didn’t do any of that.  Because I feel like that little turtle.  I’m on my back and no matter how hard I roll around I can’t seem to get upright.  I spin to the right and I spin to the left and nothing happens.  (Insert deep sigh here)   I believe that it happens to everyone once in a while and we help each other out of it.  It’s just no fun when it’s you!!  It appears that my creativity is on hiatus.   My imagination is on vacation.  And here I sit, waiting for it to come home. 😦

Anyone out there have a stimulus?  A kick in the pants? A smack upside the head?

Alas Zippy…we knew you well.

This is all that remains of the second incarnation of Zippy the Monkey.

zippyYeah, I know…he scares me, too!  Zippy belongs to my boss (Hi, Beth!) who has had him for 59 years.  Over those 59 years, he’s lost an ear and a nose and a hand.  Apparently, as a child, whenever she was upset with her mother, she would chew on Zippy.  I suppose it was cheaper than therapy!  Zippy appeared on my desk last week.  In a moment of weakness or insanity, I said I would try to fix him.  I promise you that I do not partake of the grape before leaving for work…although it’s the only real reason I can think of for the offer. 🙂  So, I’m looking at poor, little Zippy and trying to figure out where to start.  Perhaps a match? 😉

origina;For those of you, who are too young to remember Zippy, this is what he should look like!  We’ll see what we end up with!

nybAnd for my friend and partner in crime, here’s the latest of my New York Beauty blocks.  I only have four completed and many more to go.  But now, with the holidays behind me, I can get back to my machine.  Oh how I wish I could train my husband to remove the paper from the back.  Suppose I could get someone who needs community service?

I’ve been working on the quilt for MarioFan.  I’m really enjoying this one.  I believe I need twenty blocks and I have four finished.  They go together nicely.  After the Grandma nightmare, it’s refreshing to enjoy piecing once again!  Now to get back to free motion quilting.  I’m afraid you’ve all left me in the dust!

And they’re off…

I finally got my Sandy blocks in the mail to My Patchwork Life.  I had a ball making the blocks.  The Disappearing Nine Patch is easy and fun.  MiniQuilter wanted to take a shot at making a block.  The light blue block on the left is hers.  Not bad for an eight year old. 😉  She had been hiding from her sewing machine lately but she’s taken an interest once again.  I’m happy to see that!

Now for one of my What in the Hallelujah Was I Thinking moments.  I decided it would be fun to make MiniQuilter some Barbie clothes for Christmas.  I made her American Girl doll clothes last year.  They were fun to make.  They were also big!  After I got home with patterns and teeny weeny snaps and miniscule elastic I thought to myself…what have you done?!!

 Barbie is pretty small and my eyes aren’t what they once were!  But here I am looking at sparkly red foo-foo fabric and tiny little red ribbon roses.  I believe I’ll devote one day to it.  Close myself up away from the world and make those little buggers.   And when I’m finished, I’ll emerge from my sewing palace and head straight to the royal kitchen for a glass or four of the fruit of the vine!  What we won’t do for our grandchildren!!  Cheers!

Beauty and the Beast

A while back, my blogging buddy over at Coloring Outside the LInes and I decided we would do a New York Beauty quilt.  I decided to step out of my comfort zone completely and move away from the reproduction fabrics.  It was a chilling thought…didn’t know if I could do it.  I decided to use batiks.  The pattern lends itself so well to batiks.  Of course I had no batiks in my stash.    I begged some batiks from my sister and purchased some others and dug around in my mountainous stash and found two.  Yep…two.  Have I  mentioned that I usually only work in reproduction fabrics?   I guess the Civil War era ladies just weren’t that into Bali . 🙂

I went through my minute little pile of batiks and pieced some NYB blocks.  I can see now that my mini stash of batiks is sorely lacking in brights.  Looks like the only brights I have are red or pink.  What’s a girl to do?  SHOP!  I guess that’s the only answer.  Shop.  So, that’s the plan for this weekend.  Shop for batiks.

Here are the blocks I’ve finished.  I usually don’t paper-piece.  I like the nice, crisp points you get with paper-piecing.  I just hate the waste.  I have a difficult time deciding how big of a piece to cut.  And I always cut some just a smidge too small.  Then the next ones are much too big.  Feast or famine…..  Beauty and the beast….  If anyone has any tips on frugally cutting fabrics for paper-piecing, I’m all ears!

In my last post, I sang the praises of Down Under Quilts magazine.  I still have to make that hexagon quilt that’s on the cover.  The quiltmaker recommended Marti Mitchell’s hexagon template ruler kit.  So, for the small price of $12, I bought it.  I made a test block to see if I’d like the templates.  Oh yeah….they’re great!

My only concern is all of those Y-seams.  I can’t seem to get away from them!  I should be pretty good at them by the end of this project!  BTW….these aren’t my fabric choices for the project!  😉

My little friend and I would like to wish everyone a fun-filled Halloween!

 Happy Halloween!

Another one bites the dust!

And I’m so glad it did!  I’m checking one more off my summer to-do list!  I finished the quilt I call Square Cubed. I call it that because it’s basically a Square Within a Square block that I extended to have three squares.  I really like this little quilt.  I’m sure you’ll remember the fabrics…the little guys that wouldn’t talk to me.  Piecing the quilt was easy once I decided what I wanted to do.  But as always, I was drawing a blank when it came to quilting it.  I have the hardest time deciding how to quilt my quilts.  I almost never want anything “straight” or grid-like.  But I also don’t always want a stipple or all over design.  I’m usually stumped when it comes to motifs or quilting plain blocks.  This quilt had many opportunities to show off quilting.  However, I’m not sure showing off is a good thing for someone who still has so much to learn.  But here are a few pictures of the end result!

I stitched in the ditch around the blocks and inside the pieced blocks.  I wanted something rounder and smoother for the center, so I chose a spiral.  I have to say they were fun to do and pretty easy.  I had a lot of practice with spirals by the time I was finished!

What to do with the plain blocks.  My original thought was to do a plume in these blocks and feathers in the borders.  After I looked at the borders, I decided that they really weren’t wide enough for my current feathers.  Maybe in the near future I can make them small enough to fit in a smaller border but right now I’m like those big semis you see on the road…I make wide turns!  So I chose one of Leah’s fill patterns…Bubble Wand…and used it in the plain blocks and on the border.  Lots of practice with circles and travelling.  I think that it may also help me with feathers.  It seems like a good jumping off place for them.  The picture above shows my inner border and some of the outer border.

I was merrily stitching along…my fmq looking pretty darn good if I do say so myself!  I made the mistake of turning the quilt over.  Oh dear!  I had eyelashes on the back.  I know that quilting circles and curves can breed eyelashes.  I made the decision to not unsew.    Moved on the next bunch of circles and slowed down a bit and was careful about making the curves.  I was feeling pretty smug.  Turned it over and….more eyelashes!  I had enough eyelashes on the back of that quilt to film an episode of Jerseylicious!  Click on the picture below to get a real good look at the mess!

Dang!  Now what!  I’m not giving up and I am finishing this quilt!  Checked the needle, the thread, feed dogs.  Everything seemed fine.  The only thing left was to check the tension.  (Insert blood curdling scream here.)  I really don’t like to fool with tension.  A few weeks back, I spent an afternoon getting the tension just right.  Then I wrote down the number and thought my tension issues were over.  Wrong.  I readjusted the tension and after a few practice spirals, I found the right tension….again.  And then things went smoothly for me.

This is what good tension looks like.  🙂  I guess this quilting thing is a constant learning curve.  Just when you think you know it all…you learn something else!

Here’s the finished project.  Now I’m on to the next one.  It feels so good to have finished a couple of quilt tops that have been languishing on my sewing room.  Finishing is good…..

One down…

…and a bunch to go!  But I’ve checked one project off my Summer To-Do list.  My Gettysburg Sun is finished!  Finally…    I know I’ve whined about it a little bit…OK, a lot.  But I finally finished it and took a step back and it actually doesn’t look too darn bad!  It’s amazing how some imperfections disappear with a good night’s sleep.  Having said that, I did “unsew” a few places.  No amount of sleep would have saved those “straight” lines!  Let’s just say, I’m glad the quilting police couldn’t pull me over.  I’d be doin’ time in the slammer!  So, here’s the finished product.

The finished product! 

I think the part I’m proudest of is the green border.  When I began the project and was full of optimism and enthusiasm, I decided to quilt a loopy design in that border.  As my enthusiasm waned, I thought I just might take the easy way out and leave it plain.  After all, it was only an inch or so wide.  But I convinced myself to stick to the plan.  If nothing else, it would be loopy practice. Although, believe me when I tell you that I’ve  had plenty of practice at being loopy!  Here’s my simplistic little border that I’m so proud of.  Not so much the workmanship itself, but the fact that I did it at all!

My loopy border!

The issues I had with quilting straight lines were well documented in a different whiny post so I won’t go into that again except to say that the lines did improve as I quilted more and below you can see the detail on one of the “suns”.

A star within the sun.

As you can see from the first photo, the quilt is finished with a sleeve and hanging on my front room wall.  I’m very happy with the result and all is right with the world tonight.  Now, on to the next one!

Almost summer….

This quilt makes me think of summer!

It’s almost summer and I’m almost on vacation.  I have six wonderful weeks away from the daily grind.  Just enough time to get used to being a lady of leisure and then BAM!–back to reality.  My days with umbrella drinks on the deck are severely limited.  So, for the first time ever, I’ve decided to go into summer break with a plan.  This post is the kick-off to the inaugural “At Least Do Something Constructive”  summer break.

I’m putting my plan out here for all the world to see…and to shame me into completing at least some of it!  There are those of you out there (and you know who you are) who will push nudge me along in this endeavour.

So, here is my summer To-Do list–in no particular order:

  • Finish quilting Gettysburg Sun
  • Quilt this guy with feathers
  • Quilt Midnight Stroll
  • Quilt my coneflower quilt  with Leah’s “zippling”
  • Make mug rugs and assorted goodies for my guild’s boutique in the fall
  • Get my Civil War Tribute quilt to the long arm quilter.  I know this probably really shouldn’t be on my to-do list but I think I can actually do this one!  🙂

OK….that’s enough!  I have to leave some time for the umbrella drinks on the deck!

Happy Summer!!!!

The wait is over!

It’s been well documented on this blog that I have enough UFOs  to last a lifetime.   So why would I want to begin a new project?  Beats the heck out of me!  But I did.  I had this fat quarter bundle of fabrics that I wanted to use.  They were a little bit outside of my comfort zone and I was waiting for them to “speak” to me.  I thought they were going to speak about curvy, flowery designs….but they didn’t.  In fact, for a while, they didn’t say a word.  Until I saw this.   Then they began to whisper and then to shout.  “Hey crazy lady!  Look at this!” So, here is my take on it.

My first thought was to challenge myself to use just the fabrics in the bundle.  Nothing in the bundle worked for the first border so I had to add that fabric.  Then the pieces in the bundle were not long enough for the last border so I pieced it.  I think I like it better than I would like a solid border.  I also like the nine-patch look of it.  All in all, I like the darn thing!   I really enjoyed the challenge.

Course it isn’t a quilt until it’s quilted.  I’m thinking about some kind of a fat plume in the unpieced squares.  The border kind of lends itself to practicing feathers.  I’m never going to learn how to do feathers if I don’t practice so this is where I begin!   I posted the feather part because I’m hoping that by putting it in print I will shame myself into actually doing it!

So, now that I’ve teased you for a few days, I hope it was worth the wait!

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