Sunday, June 24, 2018

More Movies, and Quilting

The sci-fi marathon has continued. I watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind (which was more about wonder--or possibly obsession--than science, and not very thoughtful) and Forbidden Planet (was everything that cheesy in the 1950s?). I also saw Annihilation, which was fascinating, thought-provoking, ambiguous, and beautiful. It got a lot of bad reviews, mostly from people who thought it would be a conventional action movie (with aliens) or who like everything neatly explained and clear at the end. I can see why the trailers try to paint the movie as a fast-paced action/thriller--they want to hook people in--but it misrepresents the film. It is always easier to do conventional genre films, sequels, and re-makes than original movies. You have a built-in audience; people know what they are getting and there is a sort of comfort in that. With Annihilation you definitely don't know what you are getting. And even after watching it you aren't quite sure about what exactly happened--I found that intriguing instead of frustrating, though, so I liked the film.

This week I have been working on more dresden plate blocks. I had enough blocks for more than one quilt, but I wanted to experiment with different shapes so I made a hexagon template and am combining the hexagonal dresden blocks with equilateral triangles.

The triangles form star points and allow you to piece the quilt in rows without a lot of set-in corners. The color seems a bit off in this photo, in real life the triangles are periwinkle (halfway between blue and purple).


I'm also working on a quilt that uses partial seams to create a herringbone-type design; I haven't tried any patterns that use the partial seam technique before (where you sew part of a seam, then go back later on and sew the rest of it). This is what my sewing room looks like in the midst of a project.

I like piecing this one, it's like a puzzle. There is a pattern to it, it is almost like interweaving strips together. I made some mistakes at first and had to rip out a few seams, but I got the hang of it.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Slow Sci-Fi Movie Marathon

So, a friend loaned me 2001: A Space Odyssey.
And I watched it.

It was long. Very long. And slow. I am not really sure if it is a movie at all. It dispensed with common movie elements (such as plot, a narrative thread, character development, etc). The cinematography was amazing, though, especially considering it was filmed in the mid-1960s before any kind of computer special effects. It seemed more like a piece of conceptual performance art than a movie. It made you think about afterwards, though. Which maybe makes up for some of it's flaws (one Amazon reviewer called it easy to appreciate but difficult to enjoy).

So that started me on a drawn out slow sci-fi movie marathon (which has already stretched out over weeks). So far I have watched (or re-watched) Moon, Contact, Arrival, Interstellar, Oblivion, and Wall-e. I am trying to lean more towards thoughtful sci-fi (so no Star Trek or Star Wars, although space opera can be fun too sometimes). I think of the ones that I watched so far, Oblivion was probably the most conventional (and least interesting). Up next on the list are Annihilation, Gravity, Passengers, AI, Ex Machina, ET, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

In between watching sci-fi movies, I have been quilting. I pieced this modern quilt earlier this year, experimenting with minimalism and limiting my fabric choices. This is inspired by a Nancy Purvis quilt in her book Quilting From Every Angle, but I changed the pattern design and measurements so it isn't really the same quilt, it's more like a cousin of her quilt.

I started machine quilting this dresden plate variation, based on a Jenny Doan tutorial from Missouri Star Quilt Co. I used a template ruler to cut the pieces and then cut the circular blocks into squares. I am still experimenting with quilting designs for the setting squares, so I stalled out a bit on quilting this one.

This modern quilt top is based on using improvisational piecing (it has been informally dubbed the eye doctor quilt...all those Es). Some of the triangles came from scraps of the first quilt above. Sewing this top was a slow process, it sat on my design wall for a couple of months. I was experimenting with not using rulers to cut when I made the blocks, so nothing was square or a consistent size. I cheated a bit and squared some things up as I sewed the top together. I used two different green background fabrics because I ran out of the first one. I hope they blend better after it is quilted. I am glad to get it off the design wall.

This is the second version of Kathy's Doughty's 'Fractured' pattern I have made--I gave the first one away, but liked it so much I pieced a second one. I sewed the blocks together into a quilt top over the past week.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Machine Quilting in the Summer

The heat, humidity, and rain of summer have arrived. I returned from my quilting break and have been quilting away, but not getting any projects finished. I have already started 5 new quilts this year (okay, I just revised that number upwards twice, there are always more projects than I think there are), 2 of which are now finished quilt tops. Then I decided I need to get some more machine quilting done, because even though I worked hard to finish several quilts last fall/winter, I still had 4 basted quilts sitting in the closet after the Christmas quilting rush. I started with a scrappy charity quilt that someone else pieced and I agreed to quilt last fall (no pictures of that one). Then I pulled out this extremely red quilt with little 3-inch spool blocks.

I finished quilting and binding the red spools quilt, but haven't finished sewing the hanging sleeve on the back so I'm waiting to get a good full picture of it. I also finished quilting this quilt that I call 'Canyonlands.' I love the colors on this one.

I need to start hand-sewing the binding on the Canyonlands quilt, and then sew on the label and hanging sleeve. I have been basting quilts as I quilt them (I have a limited amount of the safety pins I use for basting, so as I remove them while machine quilting one quilt I can baste the next one). But even when I machine quilt 3 or 4 in a row, I never quite catch up! I got a little crazy with dresden plate blocks--I made a set last fall, and then I cut more this spring to use as an easy, portable hand applique project to take to sit-and-stitch groups. I sewed some into a quilt top that I started quilting last weekend, but I cut out even more blocks over the weekend, so there will definitely be another dresden plate quilt in my future.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Wintertime Non-Quilting

I have been lazy about taking pictures and updating the blog because I did a lot of bigger quilts last year and they were too large to photograph without a sidekick, a truck (for the sidekick to stand in so the quilts didn't drag on the ground), and a long 1x2 board (to run through the hanging sleeve of the quilts so they hang evenly). And now they feel like I finished them months ago (because I did) and are old news. In fact, I gave most of them away for Christmas.

This block pattern came out of one of the Nickel quilts books--I started the blocks while in Atlanta during Hurricane Hermine.

This is a Kathy Doughty pattern.

And a detail, because it turned out awesome.

This set of blocks from a Bonnie Hunter pattern made two quilts that look different because I changed the sashing and the setting.

I did a mad dash of machine quilting and hand-binding to get several quilts done before Christmas, and I have basically done nothing since, for over a month. I've been doing a lot of reading and watching movies, but I have effectively zero quilt momentum. I spent time over the weekend looking at quilting books, and now I have at least three projects I definitely want to start on, and I have stacks of fabric in my studio (there, I just upgraded my sewing room, ha!), but I haven't even turned on the iron.

I took a class in Seminole-style patchwork last fall, and got inspired by using solids (I mixed in a few dresden plate blocks as leader/enders). Seeing what happens when cultures blend is always intriguing.

I also joined a modern quilt sit and stitch, so I've been looking at books on modern quilting. I've used prints so much, it will be interesting to try using only solids. Of course, I am plotting out ways to change the patterns I see to make them my own. I want to try exploring minimalism and negative space in upcoming projects.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Summertime Quilting

We are deep in summer, and looking forward to weeks more of hot weather--a good time to stay indoors and quilt!

Above is a quilt called 'Stretched Star,' pattern from one of the Nickel Quilt books. I sewed the stars on a 1926 Singer 99 handcranked machine when the electricity was out after Hurricane Hermine last year.

This quilt is another one from the set of 1/4-log cabin scrap blocks that I made in an effort to sew up my scrap bins. Both of these quilts were donated to a local homeless shelter that provides quilts to the kids who stay there.

This quilt is from a Bonnie Hunter pattern called 'Midnight Flight.' I have been quilting it over the past few weeks, in between working on all my other projects. Finishing the quilting on it is on my list of things to get done this weekend. I like the sunset colors of this one.

This quilt is based on two Bonnie Hunter patterns--the setting is from 'Narragansett Blues,' but she used 4-patch units in the quilt--I substituted spool blocks from one of her other patterns. The red fabric drawer in my sewing room was getting full, so I needed to make a red quilt. I finished the borders and pieced the backing, but still need to baste it. I love the spool blocks, they are only 3 inches finished and there are more than 280 of them in the quilt. I am tempted to make this quilt again in blues, just so I can make more spool blocks.

Blue, green, and turquoise triangles were part of my piecing efforts over Christmas vacation. I haven't even started quilting this one! I learned from this quilt that I like quilts that mix warm and cool colors.

Oh look, another 1/4-log cabin quilt! I have been experimenting with different settings for variety. I think this is the 6th quilt I've made from these blocks--and I still have more of them! I will probably make one more quilt from what I have left. This one went together very fast over the course of a few days since the blocks were already made. I had barely enough green in a 2-yard cut for the background of this one. The borders are made from leftover string strip panels from a project I made last year. This quilt is basted and ready for quilting. I always have so many projects going at once that it takes a while to complete them all, but I am never bored. I just started cutting strips for a new quilt yesterday, so there is no chance that I will run out of projects...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


So, can you see it?

There is one rotated half-square triangle unit in this quilt. I sewed the blocks, pressed them, and squared them up. Didn't notice it. I arranged them on my design wall and stared at them off and on for at least a week while I auditioned several different colors of sashing and worked out the border design. Didn't notice it. I sewed it together, pressed the entire top, spread it out on the floor and crawled all over it, basting it with safety pins, and then took a photo of the quilt. Didn't notice it. I spent several hours machine quilting the quilt. Didn't notice it. I spread it out on the floor again and buried the quilting thread tails and carefully pinned the binding to the front of the quilt. Didn't notice it. Not until I hand-sewed a quarter of the binding to the back of the quilt and spread it out on the floor again to check that I wasn't getting any border wave did I see the one rotated half-square triangle unit.

I am not fixing it.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Tumbler quilt wavy borders fixed

To fix the wavy borders, I added three more rows of quilting to the borders of Tumbler quilt. The extra quilting drew in the edges of the quilt.

Next I ripped the binding off. I spritzed the borders with water and pressed them, and then pinned the binding back on the quilt. When I re-sewed the binding to the quilt, I cut about 2.5 inches off the binding. That's how much the extra quilting shrank the perimeter of the quilt.

I finished the binding by hand. No more wavy borders. Next time I will be more careful with how the quilting density is distributed across the quilt.

Now that the Tumbler quilt is fixed, I have been working on machine quilting the Charlie Harper quilt (the colors were inspired by a Charlie Harper print). The pattern is 'Tumalo Trail' by Bonnie Hunter. Two biologists saw me practicing the quilting design on the whiteboard outside of my office at lunch one day and they both said 'algae'. I ran out of thread before I finished the quilting on this one and had to order more. It took 6 hours and 40 minutes to machine quilt it.

I also finished sewing the quilt top for the quilt on the design wall behind the sewing machine in this photo, but I ran out of cotton batting so I put it away for now.