Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I love the contrast between the perfect squares and the imperfect letters! It was so fun after the little one inch squares to make these letters without measuring. The seam allowances aren't consistent and I didn't even pin! My letters are a little too skinny, but I'm happy with them as a first try. Many, many thanks to Tonya for her excellent tutorial - I love all the different examples she provides throughout. And thanks, too, to everyone who has followed her lead, producing quilts with letters that served as inspiration to me!

I'm going to put the couple's names on the back of the wall-hanging to personalize it (I'm not very good at remembering to sign/label my quilts). I started out with the idea of including the date, as well, but my letters were a little too big and September has too many letters. I have two extra E's hanging around now, since that's where I started.

I'm using up all the scraps from the front on the back - every little bit, since it was made with quarters and fat quarters. Piecing a back is something new for me, too. I've only done it once before and I wasn't so happy with that experiment because the in-the-ditch quilting didn't match up with the strip of blocks on the back. Some sort of all over pattern - or maybe in this case concentric on point squares - should prevent that frustration.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Blueberries, Updates, Gee's Bend, and Gaudi (Whew!)

I had some fun this weekend making blueberry jam, but there was a blueberry explosion! I'm still cleaning it up - blueberries on the floor, the ceiling... I guess I had the heat up too high! This morning I'm tackling blueberry muffins. It seems safer.

Quick updates on two ongoing projects: The Tea Trip Around the World is coming along. It's not exactly my colors, but I know that my friend will like them. It's quick and easy using Bonnie's awesome instructions. I see that Andrea caught the bug, too! I'm going to play around with the back of The Trip to personalize it - more to come on that experiment!

The Color Purple top is finished, but I'm lacking quilting inspiration. Suggestions for an advanced beginner machine quilter? Also, a friend just had a little girl in Massachusetts and she will be the recipient of this quilt!

I see people posting the new Gee's Bend stamps. I'm excited to get some, although I can't exactly use them everyday from Finland! I saw the exhibit last summer at the MFA in Boston and my mom picked up these magnets for me and stuck them in my Christmas stocking. They were made by the Museum of Fine Arts Houston for the exhibit. For those of you who haven't seen it yet - or who want to catch it again, here's the upcoming tour schedule:

Indianapolis Museum of Art, October 8 — December 31, 2006
Orlando Museum of Art, January 28 — May 13, 2007
The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore), June 17 — August 26, 2007
Tacoma Museum of Art, September 22 — December 9, 2007
The Speed Art Museum (Louisville), December 23, 2007 — March 16, 2008
Denver Museum of Art, April 13 — July 6, 2008
Philadelphia Museum of Art, August 2 — October 2, 2008

The circular magnets in the picture are from Barcelona. I was so inspired by the colors and shapes in Gaudi's mosaic work all over that great city. Here are a few photos from my trip last spring:

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Trip Around the World

I'm certainly on one, so it was only fitting to finally make one!

I've been working on a little wall hanging this weekend (it will be 25"x25" with one inch squares). I love the one that Pam made for her traveling gnome and I was so happy to find Bonnie's awesome instructions to help me out, as well!

This is a wedding gift for a friend in Romania. I'm so sad that I can't go to her wedding next month, but it's the first week of classes here and I just can't get away. She used to watch my foster cat while I was traveling and always enjoyed raiding my tea stash. When I left Romania in June, I gave her what remained, as well as my electric kettle. With this in mind, with the help of my mom - my US fabric connection - I chose 'tea' colors and patterns (there are lots of little leaves) for this quilt and will try to make some little coasters to go along with the quilt, two mugs, and some Finnish tea!

I thought I'd also post a picture of another little wedding wall hanging I made while in Romania. It's 20"x30", again with one inch logs. This was for the friend I mentioned in an earlier post researching African American literature, so I put black squares in the middle of the log cabin, as it's said people did this to signify Underground Railroad stops. Lots of traditional Romanian textiles have red, white, and black in them, so I used those colors and set them in the field and furrow layout to signify Romania's agriculturally rich countryside. (Boy, do I miss the produce - almost all organic - especially the eggplants and orange tomatoes that would be showing up in the markets and on the roadsides about this time. Yum.)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Color Purple

Now that I have some confidence about machine piecing curves (after the love beads top - more to come on the related quilting dilemma with that), I decided to pick up a UFO. Hanne's purple and white quilt reminded me of mine sitting in a ziplock bag somewhere.

I lived in Romania from 2003-6 and traveled almost all the time to rural areas of the country. I thought that maybe some handpiecing would be good for the train, so I started this project. I found the pattern in an old Quilters Newsletter issue (I buy used copies donated to the New England Quilt Museum to fundraise for their library). I quickly learned that handpiecing is not for me - and read instead.

I chose purples for this with a friend in mind. She was recently married and was hoping to get pregnant after finishing her PhD thesis that included analysis of Alice Walker's The Color Purple. She's since had a little boy, so I'll save this one for another little girl.

There are all sorts of purples in here - some scraps from M.A.T.'s squares quilt, plenty of 30s, etc. I know they don't all 'work' together (there's not enough constrast between some of the lights and darks), but hopefully it has that one-color scrappy look that I like. I bought most of it in 1/4 yard pieces. You'll notice there are some mismatched blocks (lower right corner) - this wasn't part of my original plan! I made one of the templates the wrong size, so I had to recut some pieces halfway through. I have a lot of odd shaped scraps now - wonder how I'll ever use those! I had more than a 1/4 yard of the most prominant lights, but then the original stripe I was going to bind it with bled all over one of them in the wash, so after washing and washing, I had to cut around the blotchy bits. These are the blessings and curses of not being able to pop down to my LQS - I fabric shop once or twice a year in bulk when I visit my family in Maine.

I wish I had a design wall to help me lay these out this weekend! At least this way I wash my floors more often!

Friday, August 25, 2006


What kind of thread do people use for machine quilting?

For my first few attempts, I used the same poly thread I piece with. Then I moved on to YLI cotton quilting thread (I especially like the varigated ones - more on the spool than on the quilts, actually.)

Then last summer I took a class at Maine Quilts with Kathy Sandbach. She suggested Aurifil, in part because it's thinner than the YLI, so I've also given that a try.

I like the Aurifil because more fits on my bobbin and I don't have to change that as often (I'm still getting the free motion thing down), but I like the thickness of the YLI because it stands out more.

Just wondering what other people use. Also, since I'm far from my LQS (or at least a somewhat affordable one by US standards), any tips on online machine quilting thread sources?


This blogging thing is so great! It's only been a week and I've heard so many kind words and found so many sources of inspiration out there. The only problem is that it is a bit addictive! (And as May Britt said, maybe there are too many ideas out there? When will we ever find the time?!)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Big Brothers' Quilts

The love beads are still driving me a little batty at this stage, so as I prepare to send the citrus quilts off to Norway and Virginia, I thought I'd share some pictures of the quilts I made for these girls' big brothers in 2003 and 2004/5.

The first is just a simple Irish Chain with red flowers on the front and red (Norwegian) fish on the back.

The second is a Kaffe Fassett pattern with lots of brights - there are even a few little red fish in there!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Citrus #2 is Finished!

Last night I finished Citrus #2 for A.M.T.S.G. (yes, that child has a lot of names!). I know once school starts, I'll never be able to keep up this pace - of quilting or posting, so I'm trying to resist putting up old projects and other quilt pictures/comments until then!

I said in an earlier post, though, that I got the idea for the quilting on this one from an earlier project, so I'll include a few pictures of that today. My mom picked out all the fabrics for this one and sent them to me in Romania. We don't always have the same taste, but on this one it seemed to work out. I even liked the browns with the pinks! I can't believe I used a plain back, though, it's so unforgiving. The best part of this quilt is that I hadn't learned free-motion quilting yet, so I actually quilted these swirls with the feeddogs up and a normal foot - turning the quilt as I went! (The rest of the quilting is in the ditch.) I can't believe it came out as well as it did.

You can see on this one, better than on my other pictures, that I like to use stripes for bindings. The stripe in the one I finished today doesn't read very well, though. Oh well.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Citrus Zipper Quilt is Done!

Last night I finished this sunny baby quilt for H.E.T. well before her first birthday in January. I ran out of the orange thread and had to finish up the binding with the pink from citrus quilt #2, but hopefully if my stitching is ok, no one will ever know!

Update on another Modern Quilt Workshop piece... I like my two color smaller version of love beads (6.5" rather than 8.5"), but I HATE machine quilting it! I've decided that I only like machine quilting when I can work from edge to edge! After my reluctance with the zipper quilting, I've decided that maybe these MQW quilts really need to be densely quilted for the full effect, so I'm making a 1" diagonal grid on the green background, then I'll tackle the beads themselves!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Citrus Baby Quilts

Here are two baby quilts I'm working on using fabric I bought on impulse at Joann's. One is more pink, the other more orange and yellow, but many fabrics appear in both quilts. The colors look like oranges, lemons, and lots of pink grapefruits to me.

This first one is very simple (I had to get back into the swing of things after a year away from my machine!). I'm embarassed to admit that it's based on a quilt I saw in a magazine I didn't buy at Walmart in July. It was quick to assemble and I just finished quilting it on Wednesday using a similar idea to what I did with another baby quilt in 2004 (an idea I found in an issue of Quilter's Newsletter - for the quilting, not the patchwork).

If I were to do it again, I wouldn't use verigated thread. I'd use different colors for each edge to edge series of swirls, matching the fabric from that row. Now I just need to attach the binding!

The second is adapted from the book Modern Quilt Workshop by Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle of Fun Quilts. It's called Zipper. I changed the size of the block so that I could cut things the same size for both of these baby quilts, so my blocks are 3"x5" with 1"x2" zips. Finding this challenge and flickr page helped inspire me to start my own blog!

I had more trouble deciding how to quilt this one. I finally decided to do it like they did in the book. It's SO densely quilted, but in the end I like it. I had to change the bobbin thread an awful lot, though.

First Post

I'm creating this blog to chronicle my quilting and to learn to use blogger, because I'd like to use it for some of my classes this year. If I get brave, I'll make the blog public and maybe it will led to meeting other quilters online, as well. There seem to be a lot of quilt blogs out there already!