My Bad ;-)

Like many quilters, I specialize in rationalization. As the last days of the year 2007 slipped away, I prepared for my January cutting and cleaning and organizing.  

As I was putting some fabric away, I came across an old friend I had forgotten. Hmmm. . . . . 6 repeats . . . . just enough to try that hexagon quilt technique again and see if I like the results any better . . . 

I had complained to my guild about the annoyance of working with one grain line and two bias lines when sewing these triangles together to form the hexagons and they said “Starch! starch! starch!” so I had a dilemma . . . here, in my hand is the perfect piece of material to try cutting out another hexagonal quilt.On the other hand, I could get a head start on the January cutting-up and organized. . .

I did what ANY hot blooded quilter would do – I got right to work on a new quilt top!

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Bottom line – This technique is fun, the starch helped, but two quilts later, I don’t like it any better than I did before in terms of results. This is just Stack n’ Whack with a twist, and that twist is the putting together the hexagons in rows, arranging the colors, etc.

I am never quite satisfied that my efforts in this technique are particularly artistic, and I am not particularly delighted with the quilt top, although there are times it takes me a while and then one day I realize I love the quilt. Sigh – now either I have to sandwich or cut. It’s January. It’s 2008. One drudgery or another (although once I get started I actually enjoy it.) 

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Cutting Up In January

One of the keys to quilt production is organization. Once you’ve got Christmas all put away, it’s time to look at the quilting room.   
I have a secret vice. I LOVE rotary cutting. I love it so much that sometimes my quilting friends will ask me to cut things out for them and they will stitch things up for me, or do some other craft related favor. It all works out in the long run ;-).   
So you can imagine – I love January. January is when I grab those boxes and baskets of scraps I have tossed. I put an iron and ironing board in my sewing room and starch (good old Sta-Flo) up all those scraps and iron them, then cut them up. I cut 2 1/2 inch strips first. I cut blocks in 7″, 6.5″, 6″, 5.5″ (etc) . . . . and store them in piles with a lable on top. Just as I love those 2.5″ strips, I love the 2.5″ squares, and have shoeboxes of them, all sorted by color.     
(Remember those map quilts we looked at earlier? When you need a zillion different desert colors, or greens, or blues for the sea, you already have a goodly stash cut up if you do your January homework.)    
You can also do that   Sweetheart Quilt, either in reds or in a variety of scrappy colors. I think I remember that it takes about 49 squares per block – that uses up a LOT of scraps, and it is a fun quilt and a quick quilt to make, again, a great group activity.  
It also makes sense to cut up all those squares with a bunch of friends because you can exchange and have lots and lots of different scrap colors in your quilt. Some years, I have gotten together with friends and we’ve all cut-up together, and that is really a lot of fun. It has to be the right friends, though, who can balance FUN with a sense of mission – I am a little obsessive (a LITTLE???) about getting my January cutting done. The best year was when we brought food, and just kept cutting and cutting until we were all ready to drop.    
And here is the really cool thing. As you cut, you come across fabrics you had totally forgotten, and those old creative juices start flowing. As you cut, two or three or four quilts will start forming in your mind, so keep you little gridded notebook handy, and write down those ideas before they slip away!   
Once you have all those scraps cut, labeled, sorted and put away, take a couple hours to get your workroom back in order. If you are anything like me, the creation process is messy. I pull out all kinds of fabrics, looking for just the right combination, and you know, while you are on a roll is NOT the time to be obsessive about putting things away. . . you just cut and sew and audition and back to the drawing board – it’s a burning-the-midnight-oil kind of energy, and you don’t want to dilute it with dutiful energy, just go go GO!   
So from time to time, you have to pay the piper. This is a good time – now that you’ve so virtuously cut up all your scraps – a great time to sort all those fabrics and put them back neatly on the shelves. Again – you will see old friends you have totally forgotten, and they will call out to you, and new ideas will pop into your head. But this isn’t the time to dilute that virtuous, dutiful energy with creative energy; quickly jot down the ideas but KEEP GOING, straighten, organize, file by color and pattern, get it all put away.   
Once you have your work room all neat again you don’t need me to tell you what to do next. You will be on fire to get started. Don’t ya just love that January energy? New year, new quilts?

 

French Sunshine

Wooo Hoooooo! Sometimes life just makes itself easy.

Last summer, just after I had started this blog, I showed my good friend from college days. We met in French class at a huge university, and ended up having three classes together – the only person I kept having the same classes with out of thousands.

By the grace of God, we have been friends ever since.

As she looked through quilts I had done, she came to the Stack N’ Whacks and said “WOW!”

I already knew I would be teaching a Stack N’ Whack class this year.

The following week, I came across the perfect fabric, and bought the rest of the bolt. How sweet it is. There was just exactly enough.

She lives where winters are long and dreary, and I wanted her to have warmth and sunshine in her quilt. I chose hot, wild colors to bring some tropical paradise into her long, wet winters. I am very happy with the result!

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Details:

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The quilt has flaws – just as I do. She will never notice. She will just think it is a great quilt. I thank God to be blessed with a friend like her.

Undercover Quilts: Seattle

One of my favorite quilt shops in the world is Undercover Quilts, run by Linda Hitchcock just south of the original Pike Place Market in Seattle. She always has great huge quantities of the batiks I love, and she also sells fabrics online, even to APO addresses overseas. Her shop is full of fabulous original quilts and the newest time saving and energy saving quilting tools.  She just got in a one-time shipment of African wax-resist fabrics from Uganda, which are available from her online site  Undercover Quilts.com.Take a look around her website, and then be sure to visit her e-bay site where she and her quilt-warrior husband sell lengths of very cool quilting fabrics.00undercoverquilts.jpg

Hexagon Technique

“What have you got that is new and exciting?” I asked my old friend who now owns her own quilt shop in Panama City Beach. I had fifteen minutes, my husband and son and my son’s wife were waiting out in the car and my quilt guild was looking for some new techniques.

“Let me show you!” she said, and pulled out this fabulous strip of triangles pieced together. “It makes something that looks very complicated very easy!”

Wooo Hooooo! My kind of technique! Her shop is Quilting By the Bay in Panama City and she always has the latest, coolest fabrics and the newest techniques to share.

This is a kind of Stack N’ Whack technique, only by piecing the triangles three and three, and then playing with colors and whirls until you find a pattern you like, you can sew the hexagons in straight rows, and still have an intricate whirl of hexagons. Very clever.

You still have bias edges to contend with, and it really takes the right fabric. I was happy with how this turned out, glad I had tried the new technique, but it took me ten inch borders to bring the quilt back into a true rectangle!

This is for another of my very good friends, who loves RED. She and I have walked through thick and thin together, and although this quilt, too, is flawed, she will love it because I made it for her. Aren’t I incredibly lucky to have such friends?

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Farewell Block

This isn’t utterly original. I found a camel in a coloring book and copied it. I love the batik fabric, with it’s mottled variations, and I love the background fabric, which was probably an upholstery fabric (I found it in Qatar and loved it’s desert coloring).

As I stitched it, I found myself thinking how very much I love hand applique.

The friend I made it for has a soul for adventure. I travelled with her once, and learned to admire her steadfast calm, her utter sang froid, and her ability to manage people without ever once appearing bossy. We will all miss her presence, and her invaluable role-model.

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Post-Modern

I know my Mother wonders where I came from . . . but the truth is, she also quilted when she was my age, just not big quilts. Lots of baby quilts, lots of pillow covers.

She was never into country-style, not even French country. Danish modern, black and white all the way.

She was complaining about not having any “fat” tablemats; she doesn’t want hot coffee cups marking her beautiful wooden tables (can’t blame her!) We searched all the stores in vain – “fat” tablemats are just not in style right now.

But I can make fat tablemats!

The design process – never be without your graph paper!

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The finished tablemats:

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They could actually be two rows shorter – I made them very generously sized to be sure the coffee cups land on the tablemat. These are 16″ x 24″: