Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Vintage Utility Quilt and AHIQ September 2016

It's time for another utility and improvisational quilt linkup. What have you been doing?

I've been away so long my sewing space looks very cluttered and crowded. I've been trying to clear out the partially finished pieces. Also, my fabric appears to have had babies while I've been gone. Time to sort through it.

DH's grandmother made this quilt in Wood County, Texas. I slept under it the last time we were there. Rod Kiracofe's collection includes at least one quilt from Wood County. There are a couple of places that need mending. I'm planning to bring a bit of old fabric to applique over the fraying sections and preserve the fabric underneath.

Scrap quilt from Wood County, TX
The hexagonal lozenges may have been pieced on newsprint although the entire quilt is hand pieced and quilted. The orange solids are set in with Y-seams. It's also unusual for the yellow and orange borders. She finished it with Baptist fans.

Enjoy the day, Ann


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Quilting the Spiderweb and Catalina Island

I tried some different quilting on these spiderwebs. I used the walking foot to travel from point to point around each seam creating petal shapes.

When I got back to the starting point, I marked a point 1.25 inches from the center for the next round. I used pins to locate those points since markers didn't show on all the different fabrics. {The distance was a random length that looked good to me on these spiderwebs.

Marking endpoints for point to point quilting on a Spiderweb quilt.
For the third round, I used the same distance and marked it from the outer rim of the spiderweb.

Marking the endpoints of the third round of quilting on the Spiderweb quilt
Using the same distance meant I didn't have to change the ruler and risk messing up the second and third rows.

Spiderwebs with three rows of quilting
I simply imagined gentle curves between consecutive points. Each round has a slightly different curve; in fact, each curve is slightly different because they aren't marked.

By planning where to start I was able to sew all these rounds from web to web without breaks. Hooray! Only two pairs of threads to bury.

We recently spent a weekend on Catalina Island. I've always wanted to see the flying fish so DH arranged an evening boat ride. That was the highlight. But Catalina has so much more, especially if you like beach life. The water is beautifully clear and there are two marked areas to swim and snorkel. Loads of sea life on view.
Views of Avalon bay on Catalina Island and Zane Grey's house
Zane Grey, a Western writer, had a home here which is now being converted to a hotel. The Casino {which they carefully explain means 'gathering place' not 'gambling'} is visible in the lower left photo above. The entrance has wonderful aquatic murals.

Murals at the entrance to the Casino, Catalina Island
The Nature Conservancy encompasses most of the island and includes the Airport in the Sky, a landing field for prop planes.
Airport in the Sky, Catalina Island
The Channel Islands have a five-pound native fox. Two of them posed for photos: one at the airport {no, I didn't feed him} and the other resting along the roadside {at the narrowest point, of course.}
Two native foxes and a buffalo seen during a tour of Catalina Island
Additionally, the Conservancy supports a small herd of bison brought to the island for a film in the 1920's.

The critical issue on all the Channel Islands is the lack of water. The drought that encompasses most of California is particularly acute here. All restaurants are required to sell bottled water {imported from the mainland} rather than serve water in a glass. As of September, they must use disposable dishes. The toilets everywhere use salt water to flush. Very smart. But the faucets and shower heads in our hotel seemed to have no restrictors.

Only a few cars are allowed on the island; it takes about 14 years to get a permit. Most people get around via bus, bicycle, walking or one of the 1100 golf carts. The air was so clear that walking was a pleasure.

The ferry sailed past Point Fermin lighthouse on our way to the island but DH arranged a helicopter ride back as a special treat. What a great birthday.

Ferry to Catalina Island passes Point Fermin lighthouse. Newport Beach from the helicopter.
AHIQ linkup is next Tuesday, Sept 27.

 If you're in the Bay Area this weekend find time to visit Sherri Lynn Wood's newest exhibit, Afterlife. She's created a series of quilts using recycled materials.

Enjoy the day,

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Spiderwebs and Stars

I cut kite shapes a couple of years ago for a spiderweb quilt. "More is more" {my usual method}  didn't work in this case so the warm colors were pulled and stashed away for a while.

Digging them out recently there are sixteen stars; perfect for the toddler quilt I need. Actually I needed it this summer but only have time to start it now.

Orange and Red Stars form the background of this Spiderweb toddler quilt
Several layout tests until I decided to arrange the stars diagonally.

The outmost string on the spiderweb wedges must contrast with the star colors. Some were red, orange or yellow. I moved them to a star with a different value. And lucky me, there were some blue wedges from the previous quilt that didn't look good against blue stars. {I still need to border and quilt that one.}

Laying out the Spiderweb quilt
It's always amazing how much smaller the quilt becomes as the units are sewed.

Sewing Spiderweb quilt blocks
Coming along well.

Enjoy the day,

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Vintage T-Shirt Quilt

We are traveling again, more family time. One unexpected advantage is the opportunity to see some older family quilts as well as some from my distant past. :-)

T-shirts framed in black-and-white fabrics, red sashing and blue posts.
T-Shirt quilt front
While my son was in college I finally finished his high school t- shirt quilt. There were two reasons it took so long.
  1. My previous t-shirt quilts were made for girls. It took a while to figure out "fun and masculine."
  2. I couldn't choose a back.
During a cleaning fit I found the perfect back. When my kiddos were young they glued appliqué tops while I was at a meeting. Of course they used what they liked best {my favorites} and cut everything from the middle of each piece. They were so proud of their artwork who could be upset?

I learned a valuable lesson: DON'T SAVE THE GOOD STUFF. Really. Our work looks better with the best.

Here's the back. Always my favorite. He added inked details on the basketball and skateboard wheels. He did a great job freehand cutting his name. How did he keep the letters so consistently sized as he changed fabric for each letter?

T-shirt quilt back. Applique glued by son in elementary school.

Now for a bit of geology. This view might look like snow, but it's diorite (a type of igneous rock.) The smooth surfaces and sharp peaks show where glaciers moved through Yosemite.  There's almost no soil here but trees find a way to grow in every crack.

Yosemite from Olmstead Point
Tuolumne Meadow is filled with soil where retreating glaciers dropped their loads.

Glacial till fills Tuolumne Meadow
I found this photo of Mono Lake from my last overflight. It's almost circular. The old shorelines show how the water's dropped since the 1960s.

Aerial view of Mono Lake
Enjoy the day,

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Finish & Kaleidoscope of Butterflies Link Up 09/2016


Masses of butterflies are called kaleidoscopes. Cathy and I recognized in this word a wonderful conjunction of quilting and butterfly habitat preservation. Many species live in limited areas while others, like monarch butterflies, feed on limited diets. Monarch larvae feed solely on milkweed. Eradication of this weed/native plant severely impacts their reproduction which is seen in the decline of their population. On this linkup we share kaleidoscope and butter quilts and fabrics, information of butterfly releases as well as habitat restoration projects. What have you seen lately?

I just bound my latest kaleidoscope. After sharing at my guild meeting, it's off to a new home.

Searching past posts, June was the last time I wrote about the quilt. In fact, I quit working on any quilting in May. But with the quilting started, it called to finally be finished.

Kaleidoscope quilt
Here's where the quilting left off. I was organically stitching {semi}straight lines with the walking foot. Every third or fourth, I deliberately made a curvy line. It's actually easy to straight line quilt on this design. Just aim for the next point of the grid and the lines will be straight{ish}.

My first {and second and third} ideas were to emphasize the template pieces. Why didn't I do that? The printed fabrics are already full of design, I didn't want to over-quilt it, and gifts for young men should hold up to heavy use.

Detail of grid quilting on Kaleidoscope quilt
I feared the quilting design would overpower or detract from the quilt pattern but that didn't happen. Perhaps because I used peach thread. Lately I've been finding that quilting with a medium-color thread (halfway between the lightest and darkest fabrics) works well for scrap quilts.

Back of Kaleidoscope quilt showing leftover strips inserted into center
The back started with three fabrics: two one-yard cuts and and a quarter yard. After sewing them I cut them lengthwise about a third of the way across. Then I sewed strips of the leftover pieces from the front to widen the back sufficiently.

Quilt Details
Size: 84" x 84"
Pattern: Kaleidoscope
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Gutermann peach cotton 
Quilting: Organic grid with walking foot

Previous posts:
  1. Starting the top.
  2. Top finished.
  3. Designing the back.
  4. Quilting kaleidoscope.
Recent butterfly quilts on the web:
  1. Caryl Fallert's Lepidopteran #3
  2. Jessica who blogs at My Inner Need to Create explains how she appliqued a darling butterfly on her daughter's skirt.
I found this collection of butterflies while touring Yosemite last month.

Yosemite Region Butterflies
And this daring yellow beauty flitted ahead of me last week. It's a Tiger Swallowtail.


Enjoy the day,
Ann

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Handing Down Quilts

I recently handed down two quilts. M-K organized a drive to help some families whose homes burned so Floating Squares went there.

As we were cleaning and reorganizing, Louisiana son found this older quilt and took it home with him. This photo shows the whole quilt but the colors are off...

Spiral Four Patch quilt
while this photo has truer colors but poor layout.
Spiral Four Patch quilt

Friends and I made the blocks in an exchange. They were a simple six-inch four-patch: finished measurements 3-inch square, two 3-inch triangles, and one larger 6-inch triangle.

The original plan was a barn raising layout with colors lined up on each row. That looked terrible, perhaps because most of the fabrics are dark. Moving similar colors into "blocks" made the quilt pop for me. Then I rotated the center of the barn to create a spiral.

Quilt Details
Size: 78" x 90"
Pattern: Fantastic Four-Patch
Batting: Mountain Mist 100% cotton
Thread: YLI Invisible Nylon (top) and Metler Cotton (bottom)
Quilting: Walking foot grid

I've always been pleased with this quilt; so glad to pass it on to another generation.

Kaleidoscope of Butterflies returns September 1. What have you seen and done this summer?



Enjoy the day,

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Rod Kiracofe Presentation and August 2016 AHIQ Linkup


It's hard to get back to my old routine after taking off most of the summer. Quilts were left in progress  and I've had trouble remembering the plans.

While still a difficult time, this month has been more fun. We drove across the western US. As schoolchildren we learned a line called the Continental Divide separates rivers flowing east to the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic from those flowing west to the Pacific. This is not quite true.

The Great Basin encompasses about a fifth of the country from the western Rockies to the eastern Sierra Nevadas. Water in this area flows nowhere. It can only evaporate leaving alkali beds, salt flats, and several salt lakes. The Great Salt Lake is the largest, but there are several more.

Mono Lake from a distance
 Mono Lake is one of them. It's so salty birds have trouble paddling in this lake; they're too buoyant. Tufas formed by fresh water springs famously tower above the lake's surface, in part because the lake has been drawn down to transport water to other parts of California.

Closeup of tufas at Mono Lake
Fortunately, this is no longer allowed. Unfortunately, the west has been in such a severe drought that the lake level is still falling.

Rod Kiracofe was the guest speaker at our quilt meeting yesterday. Although not a quilter, he has done more to advance quilting as important American art than anyone I know. Starting in 1983, The Quilt Digest juxtaposed antique works with contemporary art quilts highlighting the commonalities. He went on to write The American Quilt, a seminal work that displayed the development of quilting designs and styles through time when other books organized material by block design. As a maker, I learned skills from the latter layout, but as a student my understanding was enriched by Rod's history.


One-patch quilt of randomly sized rectangles.
One-Patch quilt from the collection of Rod Kiracofe shown at SCVQA meeting, 2016
I believe his greatest genius is, as he wrote in Unconventional and Unexpected, his "practice of creating new ideas in the larger cultural conversation." This is most evident in the exhibits he curates where he opens my eyes to relationships between different groups of people or art. For example, his exhibits last year at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles and at the Sonoma Art Museum.
Long rectangles, possibly men's hatbands, create this white, navy, black, tan, and red quilt.
Improvisational quilt, possibly from men's hatbands. Rod Kiracofe collection.
Hearing him again has reignited the need to quilt.

Edit: Monica suggested that since we both host this linkup Kaja and I each add our posts below to help others visit both. Such a good idea. Thanks!

Enjoy each day,
Ann