Monday, January 30, 2012

One top down, two to go.

Hello there!

Last week for Judy Laquidara's Design Wall Monday I posted my progress on the log cabin with a lens design. Please scroll down to last Tuesday and Wednesday for an update on all the angst - hahaha!  But here again, in case you missed it, is the final product.






This week I'm working on memorial quilts for a good friends of mine.  I have three to make, so now that I've finished one top I'm going to start on the next before I sandwich and quilt them.  If I have enough fabric from the clothing left over I can add a bit more border and things like that.  For today, my design wall is my kitchen floor!  I really like how this one came out with the sweat pants material being used inside out.  Very soft and fuzzy!





I can't wait to see what everyone else has on their walls!

Happy Monday!

-- Alison





Friday, January 27, 2012

Don't sweat the pants.

Happy Friday!

Memorial quilts can really be made from anything.  Just take some clothes and use them as your fabric.  That makes sense.  I was a little caught off guard, though, to find so many of the clothes my friend sent me that were her father's were sweatpants!  Well, that's what he wore!  Ok, then.  I can work with this!

It occurred to me right away that a neat way to use them would be to use the inside as the outside.  This gives the quilt a nice, soft texture.  I decided for this first quilt I would go with a wonky kind of star pattern.


I have some dress shirts to use to give the blocks color and the sweatpants range from light to dark in gray tones.  I'm going to need to be very careful with my fabrics because I'm going to be aiming to make three quilts from these materials.  I'm thinking of a bento box for the next one and maybe just a basic log cabin for the third.  I have some good ideas for some special add on's but I'm going to save that for now so it will be a surprise for my friend!

Here are a few more blocks and what they look like together, so far...




This will keep me occupied well through next week, but my partner is going to force me to take a break and have a weekend.  I was so obsessed with my last project that I pressed on through the whole weekend!  So, since it's going to be pretty and sunny we are going to take care of a different project that we've been meaning to do - get GOOD photographs of my quilts. 

So, expect to see some better photos of things I've done.  I still want to sort of recap last year since it really represents the start of so many things for me.  I also have an Etsy store set up, but there's not a darn thing for sale!  So pictures will help that too.

I do have some really great photos on my website www.sewandtellquilts.com and you can also link to my flickr page from this blog or my website.  I'm just trying to stay current with my newer stuff!

Before I go I'm going to leave you with a few more photos of our pups.  Lenora can't seem to get enough pet pictures...


Jodie Relaxing in the Big Chair















Ruby Sue With Her Bear
















I guess that wraps it up for another week!

Until our corners meet again -

-- Alison



Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Box of Memories

Today I will start working on some ideas for three memorial quilts for a friend who lost her father.  The box arrived with flannel shirts and lounge pants - even stocking caps, which he was always known to wear.  I'm really trying to think of something a little more outside the box than the traditional methods I've used before.  So today I'll do a lot of sketching and head scratching.  There is a lot of great stuff to work with!



Let me know if any of you have a few tricks up your sleeve!

Have a great day!

-- Alison

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Finished Bulge

I'm starting to think of this as the battle with the bulge because of all the different directions it has taken and how it just didnt' quite flow out as easily as I had expected.  I have to give major kudos to the gifted quilter from Russia who posted the original pattern.  What an amazing talent to pull that together!

For me, I am still very thrilled with the final outcome of the "me" version of this wonderful idea.



I printed out the pattern from http://www.lerusisik.narod.ru/challenge_twisted01.html  and then enlarged the blocks about 25% to make them easier for me to piece together.  It's a lot of fun to share our work, and I say thanks so much to the artist known as "lerusisik " for sharing her pattern!

-- Alison


Sometimes you need reinforcements.

I did have a good idea.  I did!  But, as it turns out, my big idea was stretching my skills and patience.  I had to call in reinforcements.  So, thank you, Mom, for helping me finally get my nice little bulge onto this background that I designed!


The bulge itself is paper pieced.  I then designed a check background that would sort of fade away and give the bulge some depth and I incorporated a few of the colors from the bulge into the background for perspective.  The problem I was having was getting the bulge to "fit" the background.  What it finally took to get it all together was my patient mother hand sewing it on.  And now I think it looks FANTASTIC!!!!

I haven't decided exactly how I'll quilt my little creation, but will likely be in the ditch given the checks.  Stippling might distract the effect.  I'll have the final product ready to show tomorrow or Friday.

In the meantime, I received a box from a good friend of mine filled with her father's clothes.  He recently passed away and she has commissioned me to make as many quilts as I can with his clothes so the family can have them as keepsakes.  I sure do love being able to do that for people!

Have a great day!

-- Alison


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Circle Complete - Now What?

I finally got the circle completed yesterday!



But now what?  I'm starting to really fall in love with just this part of the pattern I was originally trying to do.  Or maybe I'm just tired of paper piecing... hahaha.  I feel like taking this somewhere else, but I'm not quite sure where.

Here's an idea...



Does this really work on black???



How about on a check background???



Hrm... no. 

But that does give me an idea!!!

I like to use coloring pencils on a black and white printout to sketch out ideas. 

I think I like where this is heading and NOW I know what I'm going to do today!!!



I think I'm going to like this direction much better!  I can't wait to show you where I am tomorrow!


Shhhhh - my mama's crazy...


Monday, January 23, 2012

Beginning to bulge...

Well, after a busy weekend, I have gotten this far:


Today I will finish the "bulge".  I can't wait to see what it looks like!  Can't you already see the optical illusion taking shape?

I don't usually have the patience for so many little pieces and this paper piecing is definitely a challenge.  My table is a MESS, but I don't care - I'm having a blast!



We had a beautiful weekend outside, too.  This Texas winter has been more like spring time lately.  Check out this beautiful cabbage from our garden that we cooked with a corned beef brisket this weekend!  Mmmmmmmm.  And this beautiful hibiscus bloom!  (Don't tell this beauty that it's not spring time!)




Now back to work! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

It Has To Be Hard To Be Good

Well, now I'm all obsessed with a new project.  When looking for new optical illusions I came across the COOLEST optical illusion in fabric I had ever seen.  This blew my mind!  This is really a flat quilt, but it just jumps out at you!



I found the free pattern, posted by a woman in Russia, at this link:
http://lerusisik.narod.ru/challenge_twisted01.html

Unfortunately, I immediately ran into two big obstacles.  One, the instructions are in Russian.  Two, it requires paper piecing - which I kind of hate, a lot.  Luckily my mom was able to help me remember the basics for paper piecing, but not even free online translations were able to do much to help me with Russian.

What the heck - I dove in.  I had a few choice words and arguments with myself but was soon happy to see the first square come together (on the second attempt).  Then, I had three!  And more choice words, and more arguments...




So now I'm on a roll.  I want to make a few more before I call it a day today.  (I hope I can focus on the outdoor projects we have planned for the weekend instead of running back into my studio to make more!)  I can't wait to see what this is going to look like!!!







Today I received a nice surprise in the mail.  The Marketing Director for P&B Textiles sent me a copy of the American Quilt Retailer magazine to show me the ad for my original pattern, What Goes Around.  I know how busy she is, so this was a really special surprise!


Ok, now back to the paper piecing!  ACK!  It has to be hard to be good...  At least that's what my grandma always said, although I think she meant it as an inside joke...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hello, Sunshine!!!!

What a gorgeous day!  It's 72 degrees, sunny and breezy with big, blue skies.  This got me to thinking about our spring garden!!!  This weekend we are definitely going to spend some time preparing our beds!  We received a "Texas Garden Almanac" for Christmas and by now we are already behind!  haha  But there is still time to get caught up for January.  Just a little weeding in the beds and adding some fresh top soil and compost and we'll be ready to go.  We still have a bit of a winter garden going - beets, turnips, cabbage and carrots, along with a variety of herbs.  The tarragon has never let up all year and the dill is in it's second round of volunteers.  The parsley looks fantastic right now, but all of this is going to be in for it when we get those really hard freezes that come with February.  Everything will come alive again very soon, though.  And this year we are going to really plan things out and not have such a willy nilly collection of veggies.

So back to quilting!  

I spent my time in the sun today driving up to South Austin to deliver my most recent Tshirt quilt.  She was so excited to receive it that she posed for this picture with me!


This really is my favorite part of the task!  

Other than that, I am happy to say that I have finally finished the BulgingRainbow Flag, as it now is.  I think it looks pretty on my little well house out in the sunny Texas day!  Very soon it will live inside an office with NO sunlight so it's going to have to soak this up!


I'm expecting another box of fabric from my cousins who are cleaning out my Great Aunt's house.  I can't wait to see what goodies are in there!  So far I've received everything from wool to antique silk scarves.  I'm on pins and needles and really treasure these gems from my family.

Otherwise, tomorrow I'm going to take a new idea over to my mom's and see if she'll play "how do you suppose you make that?" with me.

Have a fun Thursday, everyone!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Next Best Thing - And More Cowbell


So, the first best part of quilt making is the reflection - the looking back on your work and taking it all in. Not only did this lead me discover an error yesterday, it has caused me to believe that my work is not yet done! So my wall hanging has evolved into something slightly larger (3'x5'ish) that will go on display above Lenora's desk along with the other flags she and her colleagues display in their office. I'm very excited! 

Now that I’ve made it a bit longer and allowed the colors to fade into other colors at the ends I am satisfied with the top.  Here I have it pinned and will have it done in no time!





I said yesterday that for me there is no one single thing that I consider the best part of making a quilt. But, after the little bit of time I spend oggling my new creation, the usual NEXT best part is turning these creations over to the person that requested them. This is special, no matter what. But some of the best feelings I get are when I’m delivering someone’s memories. Tshirt quilts are always a BLAST! And then there are memorial quilts that are a little more somber and heartfelt, evoking instantly a wave of emotions for the person who is receiving all of their loved one’s materials, now in a blanket that they can touch and feel and take warmth from. Boy, those can be emotional moments, but it is probably the proudest I ever feel about what I do.



In the next week or so I want to take some time to go back through 2011 and catch everyone up on what’s been going on prior to blog post, day 1. We’ll talk about some memorial quilts then and the different methods I’ve come up with to pay tribute to peoples’ loved ones. So, let’s not get too emotional today!



Instead I want to show you a really fun Tshirt quilt I just finished for an alumnus of the UT Marching band!




This one wound up pretty big.  This happens every now and then and is driven by the materials I’m given and how the requester wants their shirts organized.  In this case, there were a lot of shirts with small logos across the front right and a large image on the back.  I was asked to group these together, which was no problem.  But in order to get all the shirts in, the blanket had to grow!



There are so many ways to make Thsirts into quilts and, no doubt, all of you have read of many.  For me, I try to just keep things simple and give the requester what they want.  I use fusible pellon 880 for my Tshirt backing and generally always use Hobbs Heirloom 100% cotton batting for all of my quilted projects.  Fewer shirts allow for more sashing and embellishments, borders, etc.  For this one I had barely enough room for the binding, but I made it burnt orange, Longhorn fans! 



I will be delivering this to a very happy lady in South Austin tomorrow afternoon. 

I can’t wait to see her face!!!

In the meantime I am left with the only advice a girl ever needs.


MORE COWBELL!



Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The First Best Part


What’s the best part of making a quilt?  I guess there are plenty of great answers to that question.  For me it has phases.  The FIRST best part of creating something is being able to step back from it at the end of the day and just take it all in.  I spend a good bit of time visiting my creations throughout the evening and seeing how all the little pieces came together.  Often times, though, this leads me into a corner because… I find a boo boo. 


This is what happened last night with the last wall hanging I worked on – the one I now call “Bulging Rainbow”.  It’s a very minor detail, but now I’ve spotted it and it’s going to bug me until I fix it.  I has to do with the placement of one of the squares within the “bulge”.  The small orange appliqu├ęd squares are facing the wrong direction.  It will be easy to fix, and boy haven’t we all been there!  I’m just glad I found it before it was too late!!


People are curious if I have designed these geometric patterns myself.  Sometimes they are purely my own imagination, but for the most part I get my inspiration from that invention we call the internets.  I like to find something that has real potential to take on my colors and textures and then I let my imagination take over.  Here are some examples you’ll now recognize:




In other news, I am very pleased to find my original pattern “What Goes Around” is now available as a free download on the P&B Textiles website!  Please click the link below to go right to it!

What Goes Around - Free Pattern

Here I am next to What Goes Around at the International Quilt Market in Houston this fall.  As you can see, I was a bit excited to see it again!


And now I will get back to work!  Our 10 month old pug, Ruby, has brought me every toy in her basket which means I've been sitting still too long!




Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Welcome 2012!!!

Hello out there, and welcome to the very first post of my very new blog!  Don't let the title of this post induce you into a false notion that this is a new year's resolution.  Actually, I have been planning to start a blog for some time.  But when do you start???  It felt so strange to just jump into it at a random, odd point in the year.  So January it is!

Now that the frenzy of the Christmas rush has passed, I have been so happy to get back into my most happiest of places - working with modern designs on a solid fabric palette.  To get my juices flowing again, I decided to work on some wall hanging ideas that have an element of optical illusion. 

This first one gets its 3-D effect from a more straight forward circle design imposed over the square.


The second one, which I will finish quilting today, is much more dazzling to the eye.  Notice how the little squares, placed in a specific order, give the illusion of curved lines.  And yet all of the squares are exactly the same size! 




I'm still not 100% sure how I will quilt this one, but I'll post it finished tomorrow so you can see it.  I'll also share with you some of the other projects I'm working on.  Being new to blogging, I don't want to spill it all on the first day!!!

Have a wonderful Monday!