Thursday, March 29, 2012

March Color Challenge: Ravel's Bolero

Sometimes a quilt just seems to have a personality of it's own and creates itself.  That seemed to happen with my March Color Palette quilt.  When Vicki Welsh first posted the colors from Bilboa I did a search to see just what that was, and hoped for inspiration.  The search engine insisted I meant Bilbao, Spain and showed lovely photos of that area as a vacation spot. The heavy reds and blacks in the palette did remind me of the Colonial Spanish decor popular in the 1970's.  So apparently this quilt wanted to have an old Spanish flavor.  I only had one gold fabric piece on hand in the color palette and it's black filigree pattern reminded me of the wrought iron work of a Spanish villa. 
As I played around with block placement, the four blocks with music on them ended up in the center of the quilt.  Lo and behold! as I was cleaning out some boxes this week I found some more of that fabric, which I then used for the outer border.  So, Music was apparently also going to be a major theme to the quilt.  Just to make sure I was getting the message, the music to Ravel's "Bolero" ran through my head most of the week.  So, the quilt has been named Ravels Bolero 2012, and has a bright yellow fleece backing and marigold yellow binding.  It's currently quilted with stitch-in-the ditch, but I will probably add more quilting.  It will be a good quilt for practicing free motion quilting, as I'm just a beginner at that.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Design Wall: March Color Challenge

This week I'm determined to quilt awhile on the March Color Palette challenge.  At first I thought I'd skip this month because the colors were just not 'me' at all.  But then I was clearing out some papers and came across a dramatic black and white quilt pattern in an advertisement for a quilting magazine.  The original design is by Kathie Holland. I thought substituting scrappy reds and oranges for the whites might work into a nice quilt using the March colors.  I also reduced the size of the blocks to make them more easily cut with my 5 inch ruler and rotary cutter.  I'd like to use yellow in the border, but I don't have enough of the fabric I'd like to use.  I might have to think of a scrappy way to make it all workout.  I'm still fussing with the color placements in the blocks.  Initially it was totally random scrappy, but I found the black star design got lost unless I used a fair amount of control.  Taking a photo and working off that, rather than looking at the actual quilt blocks, showed the placement flaws much more clearly. Who knew?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Finished: Double Irish Chain

Two years ago, around St. Patrick's Day, I began a Double Irish Chain quilt.  Being 100% proud of being 50% Irish I knew someday I would have to make one in green and white.  I found a lovely pattern in Big Book of Best-Loved Quilt Patterns (Oxmoor House 2003) and made enough blocks for a queen size quilt.  The dark green has a small white floral print and the white on white is a little butterfly print.  I worked on it off and on, and by St. Patrick's Day last year I had the top finished!

I found some Kelly Green for the backing, and over the next year finished the diagonal quilting on my machine with my walking foot.  Then it sat for quite a while because I didn't know what I was going to quilt in the large white squares.  The book showed a beautiful shamrock quilted in each.  I tried a sample in free-motion, but I must admit I'm not an accomplished enough free-motion quilter, and it looked awful.  I also tried a sample hand quilting the shamrock, with similar results.  So it hung on the quilt rack in the living room as a UFO
(UnFinished Object).

This winter I got a new sewing machine, and I specifically bought one that will do quilting embroidery.  Finally, I could quilt the large white spaces with something I would be happy with.  It took three days, but I finished the last of the 40 white blocks the day before St. Patrick's Day - and put it right on the bed to celebrate the Holiday! 

This isn't the only quilt in UFO status that needs large squares quilted, so I hope to be trying out some more quilt embroidery patterns when I have time to quilt awhile.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Placemats for all seasons

Many years ago my Mother made us a set of blue placemats.  The pattern is so simple and easy to make.  I've made a few more from the same pattern over the years, and today I had a chance to quilt awhile on some that I cut out a few weeks ago.

I traced the blue placemat on a piece of newspaper, or tissue paper and used that as my pattern.  Start with a 12 x 17 rectangle.  Fold it in half, then in half again so the four corners all match up.  Use a plate, bowl, or even an ice cream pail lid, to get a nice curved line to round off the corner.  Cut along the line and unfold.  There you have it...Easy pattern.  Check to see that it's the right size for your dishes.  They're making the plates bigger now than they used to. 

St. Pat's placemat

You will need fabric for both top and bottom.  You can get both out of a 12 inch length of fabric, or use two different fabrics to have a reversable placemat.  Preshrink everything because these will probably be in the washing machine on a regular basis.

A few years ago I made a set for St. Patrick's Day.  Just a checked fabric top, muslin bottom and quilt batting scraps in between.  I quilted along the vertical lines of the fabric design and used my serger to finish off the edge.  I went around twice to get a thicker edge band.

Valentine placemats

In late January I made a Valentine's Day set.  I used purchased bias binding for the edge on those.  Today I quilted up the Autumn placemats.  Just for something different I used some polar fleece for the batting instead of quilt batting scraps.  I think even a heavy flannel would work well for batting.

They turned out great! Two down and eight to go.  And they're an especially nice way to show off those fresh Oatmeal Cookies I made this afternoon.  Yummm..

Autumn placemats

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

February color palette challenge progress

The color palette challenge inspired me to dig into some of my boxes of fabric and give it a try.  In February the challenge photo was a bunch of figs, and the colors were a springtime mix of greens, pinks and yellows.  What else would one do with figs than put them in a basket!  I've never tried a basket quilt block and so I decided my challenge block would have to be a basket.  After looking at several styles, I chose the traditional "Basket of Chips" pattern in a 10 inch block, and made up a sample.
I really liked the way it looked, and so I made a few more.  Actually, I cut enough pieces to make a bed sized quilt with 20 blocks, but after making up a few it seemed a bit much.  Sometimes a quilt just talks to you and the design changes mid-stream.  I scaled back to a group of 9 baskets and setting blocks.  Most of the remaining pieces that I cut became the border. 
Here's how it looks so far.  I'm thinking of adding a narrow border to anchor the quilt, probably a dark brown similar to the basket color.  I'll have to go and get something from the fabric store, because I don't have enough of that brown left.  Now, that can be a good thing because it means I'm using up fabric - right?  I think that Baskets of Figs will stay in the thinking stage for a while until I can find just the right border fabric.