36 Strip Challenge

My quilt group had a thirty-six strip challenge. Nine of us cut four strips each for nine quilters, including one set of themselves. At one of our meetings, we put together identical collections of thirty-six strips, and then we each plotted a quilt which would use each fabric.

It sounds easy. It isn’t.

The fabrics are not at all compatible.

I hesitated, I searched for inspiration, I planned and discarded. Finally, I just plunged in, and the idea didn’t work, but it gave me an idea for something that might work. This meandering approach was new for me; normally I use quad notebooks and plan my quilts to the fraction of an inch.

The big flower in the upper central right part of the quilt is where I started, and where I was able to use eight fabrics. From there, I would look at the panel hanging and the fabric strips remaining, and overnight, another idea would come.

I actually started having fun with the project. It took me all summer, but it was work I enjoyed, much of it hand work, which I haven’t done a lot of lately.

My husband loves the finished project. I don’t love it, but I’m not unhappy with it.

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The Road To Damascus

This is another of my playing around quilts. In order to do Annie’s quilt, I had to do a lot of squares. You really have be careful about gradations to make these quilts work, or at least work for me. I like things to shade from dark to light and from the purple reds to the lightest ash for desert quilts. As a result, I had a quilt’s worth of four patches left over, and a great idea for a Road to Damascus 🙂

 

As I worked on this quilt, I was listening to National Public Radio coverage of Syria, a place we have been blessed to visit often and thoroughly. While I cannot help but love Damascus the best, and visited it last in 2008, I have travelled Syria from the coastal city of Tartush to Palmyra and Tell Mari in the east, and all kinds of places in between with a Friends of Archaeology group I used to belong to out of Amman, Jordan. Syria was as close to biblical country as I have ever experienced. I learned so much. I met the nicest Syrians in the world.
 

So I finished the main part, and then as I showed it in my small group, the demo for the day was on curved piecing. I had seen demos on it before and it hadn’t interested me, but all of a sudden, Leni was demo’ing with two desert-y colors and the light went on – I could do a great curved border.

00RoadToDamascus
 

Once I got started, the curved part was easy, like it took one half day. I had not accounted for how much more curves take out of the finished border, and I wanted more, like a purple dusk sky .  . . So I added that, too. Then I got bit by the nostalgia bug and I thought it would be fun to add some little villages, like we would pass along the roads. Well, impressions of those little villages; I am not a good person for portraying realism, but I like the charm of my little villages.

Note to self: curved borders are not such a good place to learn about curved piecing. Start with curved blocks, and give yourself extra fabric if you already have a set block size in mind. Because of the nature of curves, piecing curves results – at least for me – in sections that are off square. I love the piece of fabric I used as a final border, but it was driven less by art than by necessity – I had to have enough border and I needed to be able to trim so that the borders would be true. Curved pieces worked here, but I wouldn’t use them as a border again.

00CurvedBorder

00VillageScene

MosqueBorder

This little piece is not from Damascus, or Syria, but is a quirky tower erected by the Qatar Center for the Presentation of Islam, in Doha. I never studied in this tower, but what Arabic I speak, I owe primarily to them and their patience with me as I struggled to speak, read and write in their language. As they taught me more about the Quran, and Islam, it illuminated our own Christian teachings. This was a never-ending wonder to me. These kind women did not proselytize, but they shared their lives with me, and through their eyes, I came to understand so much. This little tower is just a small homage to their patient teaching.

00QCPITower

Razan’s Stars

My sweet friend was having a baby and would not tell me if it was a boy or a girl! I had some lushious saturated fuschias I was dying to use, but it’s a good thing I went with a neutral-gender palate – she had a healthy baby boy!

This is the baby quilt I made for Razan:

Razan's Stars

Star Quilt for Razan’s Baby

The squares are eight inch squares, the stars a little irregular, but stitched on tightly so that the quilt can be washed. 🙂 Finished size 52 1/2″ square.

Pensacola Quilt Show 2012

Today we did the intake for the Pensacola Quilt Show, and after that, I had lunch with my husband and took a long nap, the first one I can remember taking in months. Every afternoon I have had to make the best use of time during prime-time light!

I’ve hated leaving you for this long period, but I was working industriously to have entries worthy of the show!

Here are my entries.

The End of Innocence

I loved working on this quilt. It took a lot of hand work, appliqueing that snake and making sure the gauzy snakey net had bends at the right places, but it was so much fun! I also, for the first time, tried an art quilting technique on the arms and hands, and learned a whole lot about how to do it better – next time 🙂

Originally, the focus of this quilt was intended to be the pomegranate, and the tree of life. It was supposed to be a serious quilt, serious like the Dutch masters, but little Eve kept popping in, fresh, innocent, full of questions, and then that snake kept winding his way in and out, from his own depths into our own reality . . . and finding great snake-y fabrics provided a whole world of new learning experiences, LOL.

I actually hand quilted even more after I shot the photos, espeially in the center where the Tree of Life panel was. The fabric was so soft, and quilting it by hand was pure joy.

The quilt took forever, and I didn’t mind. I tried a lot of new things. I know where I need to improve. Meanwhile, it was fun taking an idea, letting it macerate and percolate, and then challenging myself to use some slithery fabrics for the execution. No regrets. 🙂

Tick Tack Tails

I love doing baby quilts, and I love the way little babies are mesmerized by black and white patterns. Our little grandbaby would stop crying to gaze at black and white zebra patterns and try to fathom their meaning.

Seaside Cottage

When I was still living in Kuwait, I was cutting out this quilt – or one just like it – when my sister called. As we talked, I described the quilt I was making and she loved it and asked me to make her one like it. Instead, I quickly cut out another, but finished the one I was making and sent it to her.

It took me five years to get around to finishing my own. I finished it the year we moved to Pensacola, but my husband kept going back. I quilted it during a bathroom renovation; it kept me sane. I appliqued it during the long evenings when I wished my husband was here in Pensacola. It is similar to my sister’s, but different. The central panels are made with the same fabrics, but I did different quilting and appliques for the seashells, etc.

The last entry is one you’ve seen before.

Jewel Box Life of Transitions

I was able to work on intake today, and was delighted to find that my quilts sink into the ‘filler’ category; there are some amazing quilts entered, and if you are any where near Pensacola, I urge you to make it a point to see this show.

Friday, March 16
Saturday, March 17
Pensacola Fairgrounds

Finishing White Ties and Tails

Well, life intruded, like visitors and Thanksgiving and Christmas and other obligations. I was also trying to figure out where I wanted to go with the quilt; there was a lot of bare space.

Finally I made some decisions, a little at a time. I wanted to add some color in the center, and I wanted to add the ties and hearts to the cats:

I wanted something to give the quilt a little directionality, so that if it were hung, there would be a top and a bottom:

And I found a backing I love; a Javanese Bali print my Grammy friend and I found in the small dark Souk al Ahmad, in Doha. I bought like eight of them – they are wonderful for backings, maybe not wide enough but I cut and pasted:

And this is the finished quilt, made for the New Year’s baby who actually showed up the 5th of January:

And, LOL, I notice I have seem to be attracted to doing black and white quilts when the weather gets cold. I wonder if I will be doing a floral quilt around April?

Seaside Cottage 2

You probably think I have gone stale, but what the Colors of the Sea quilt was something I had promised my sister long ago, and this quilt is the quilt I had started when she first asked, and I cut enough for two, finished hers, and then mine languished – for years – before I got around to finishing it.

This was my sister’s quilt:

Size, fabrics – everything is identical, only the appliques and a little of the quilting differ:

Bottom left:

Bottom Right:

I stuffed the sand dollars and the scallop shells so the quilting would have more definition:

I wave quilted part of it, and shallow-water-swirl quilted the other part:

This is not an original quilt, but I used shells for the borders instead of flowers, and used my own quilting ideas. I believe the most of the fabrics and the pattern were from a collection called Seaside Cottage by Moda.

I cut and pieced the quilt in Kuwait, appliqued and quilted in Doha, and did the binding and finishing hand quilting in Pensacola. Whew! It’s finished!

VIQ (Very Important Quilt)

The problem with a very important quilt is that you can over think. I know what I want a baby quilt to be – I want it to be colorful. I want it to be lovable. I want it to be big enough to go to pre-school and kindergarten for nap time. I want it to end up a beloved rag, dragged here and there, washed innumerable times, all used up.

I’ve probably made a hundred baby quilts. But when it came to a quilt for my first grandchild, I dithered. Nothing I could come up with was good enough. Finally, I had to give myself a good talking to, “JUST GET STARTED!” I yelled at myself in a figurative way. Just do it.

It’s an OK quilt. Not the best effort I have ever put forth, but I came to the conclusion – it’s not the quilt that is important, but the recipient. God willing, he will love it because it came from me, and because I am a safe place, a place he can count on for unconditional love.

So – it’s just a quilt. For a very important Quentin! 🙂