Sunday, August 29, 2010

Melissa's Mini Art Quilt

I mentioned in a previous post that next on my list is a mini art quilt for a swap on Craftster.  When I first signed up for the swap, I was so exited about it.  My partner is a lovely lady named Melissa, whom I have swapped with several times before, and whom I adore crafting for.  Now, I was even more excited.  When I got her questionnaire full of information, and some inspiration art quilts that she Wisted, I started having all kinds of fantastic quilt visions...  Too many in fact.   

I ended up with a long list of ideas, none of which felt right. So I decided to put it on the back burner for a while, and let the ideas stew.  A week or so later, I found a project in an October 2009 copy of Quilter's World that set me on my path again.  It was an autumn themed bargello quilt, with borders on only two sides that were made up of pieced maple leaf blocks.  It provided the inspiration, but it was far too large to use the actual pattern.

I knew that while Melissa loves autumn, I wanted to make her something that could hang in her house year round.  I really wanted to take advantage of the color gradation factor inherent in bargello quilts, so I came up with a list of 5 themes that I thought she would like; Night, Dawn, Sunset, Meadow, and Ocean.  I then sent her a weird cryptic little message asking for her gut reactions to a few things.  Based on those I decided to go with something based on the night sky.  Perhaps a little Aurora Borealis...

Here's what I accomplished last weekend:

Colors all laid out together.
Stripped units, ready to be cut down.
All sliced up and ready to be arranged
Under 2 feet square is a small space to do 15 strips!
All squared up.
Today I managed to get the borders on, the whole thing quilted, and bound.  It's amazing how fast you can quilt, when the item has to be under 2' square.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Alison's Wedding Quilt - Part 4: The Reveal!

I am so excited to be able to show you all the first quilt completed here on the Quilt List, my dear friend Alison's wedding quilt.  It is a Trip Around the World pattern, made from 10 jewel tone fabrics and measures 62" square.  For information about the fabrics, scroll down a few posts...

And now, onto the pictures!  For larger views, click on the individual pictures. 

On my porch swing.
Being Kentucky, there are plenty of pretty white fences around.  This one just happens to be my neighbor's fence.
The majority of the quilt is quilted in a crazy free-motion swirly motif, by the center square is done in 4 heart motif.
This is the clearest picture, hanging up in my bedroom.
And for all those friends in Grad School who used to tease me when I was forced to do monochromatic shows, here's the quilt in sepia...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Turkey Ham & Corn Chowder

Jim and I made this for dinner tonight, and it was so tasty I had to share it.  Usually I do the majority of the cooking in our house, but when Jim does cook, he usually goes all out and makes something very large and time consuming, which usually involves cast iron, and a roux.  Tonight was one of those nights when I just didn't know what to make for dinner, and didn't really want to cook.  I had some turkey ham to use up, and found a version of this recipe online, hoping I could get Jim to help me.  Truth be told, he did most of the cooking tonight, while I got to enjoy playing sous chef by chopping things.  I added in the sherry & fresh parsley, while he added the paprika to the list.  Enjoy!

Turkey Ham & Corn Chowder

2 shallots, diced (or onions if that’s what you have)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pinch of paprika
1 quart skim milk
2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
1 ½ cups frozen corn
½ - ¾ pound Turkey Ham cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, snipped
1 tablespoon sherry

Heat a 3-quart saucepan (or a cast iron dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Sauté shallots in oil for 3 minutes or until translucent. 

Blend in flour, pepper & paprika. Remove pan from heat; slowly add milk, stirring constantly. 

Return pan to heat. Add potatoes; bring mixture to boil, stirring constantly. Add corn and turkey ham; return mixture to boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer soup for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender and mixture has thickened. Add the snipped fresh parsley and the sherry just before it’s finished cooking.

*** In other news, Alison's wedding quilt is officially done!  I just finished photographing it in the house, but I want to take a few more pictures in daylight tomorrow.  Maybe on my porch swing...   

I'm also dedicating myself to quilting and hopefully embellishing the mini-art quilt tomorrow.  Wish me luck!***

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Teasers: Alison's Quilt Update & Upcoming Project

I've *nearly* completed the binding on this one...  just a few feet of hand sewing left, and it will be ready to wrap up and ship.  Not too bad, considering the wedding is in 29 days!

Here are some teaser pictures today, featuring the free motion quilting.

In other news, I've been working a bit on a mini-art quilt, for a swap on  I'm so lucky because I get to swap with a great friend (not to mention my only follower on this blog!) in this round.  The rules state that the art quilt must be no bigger than 24" x 24", and must be shipped out by September 7th.  Eeek!  It can include traditional piecing, applique, embroidery, beading, charms and other 3D embellishments.  So far I have my front completed.  And while tossing and turning last night I decided how I'm going to quilt it!  More to come...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Alison's Wedding Quilt - Part 3

After picking out fabrics for the fabrics in the quilt, I rendered it in Photoshop, to make sure my choices would work well together.  I'm pretty happy with the color blending, and the nice round number of 10 fabrics. 

The best part about the Trip Around the World pattern?  Because it's a strip quilt the top goes together REALLY fast!  I got the strips all cut out in an hour, and pieced in another.

The loops were pressed and cut down in another hour or so... Here they are all laid out ready to be pieced:

And 1 of the 4 quarter sections all pieced:

And here it is laid out on the floor, so you can see how the blocks go together.  Have I mentioned that I love how quickly this pattern goes together?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Alison's Wedding Quilt - Part 2

In the previous post I told you about the inspiration behind Alison & Dan's wedding quilt.  Here I'm going to give you a little more information on the fabrics.

I knew I wanted each fabric to be a reference to a location or environment.  I also wanted to use a great deal of vibrant colors.  I spent hours on, using their Design Wall to play with the layout.  Picking and choosing until I felt like I had something from all the major types of landscape, a good range of color, and something to represent where each of us comes from.  Here's the layout I created with the Design Wall tool:

Click on the bar to see a larger version.
All the fabrics laid out on my table.
I've included links to the specific fabrics, in case you are curious about them:
Purple - Migrating Cranes for Alison's thesis, which centered on Japanese clothing.
Arctic Blue - Abstracted Mountains for the icy cold poles that only the bravest travelers visit.
Mallard - Quiet Waters for the tropical islands we imagined running away to during grad school.
Hunter Green - Forrest Dreams for the forests in the Pacific Northwest where they now live.
Leaf Green - Meadow Grass for the Midwestern prairie where Dan grew up.
Saddle Tan - Jazzy Zebra Stripes for Africa, where Dan served in the Peace Corps.
Squash Gold - Forest Ferns for the fall foliage where I grew up in New England.
Cinnamon - Tonal Crackle for the south western desert where Alison grew up.
Wine - Sunset Ginkgo Leaves to represent Asia.
Deep Garnet - Lavish Woodgrain as a solid frame to build their life together.

Tomorrow:  Progress shots of the quilt!

Alison's Wedding Quilt - Part 1

The first quilt that will be completed in the course of this blog is the wedding quilt for my closest friend, Alison, who is getting married in September. But in order to fill you in on Alison's quilt, I'll have to back up...

My husband and I met while I was in graduate school. Alison was one of the other costume design students in my year. We took nearly all the same classes, ate together, did errands together, and stayed up all night doing our design homework together.

During this time I met Jim. We and I fell hard and fast for each other.  He patiently put up with my craziness when I cried about the library not having the books I needed, when I ranted and raved after running out of watercolor paper at 3:00am. By my final year of school we were engaged. Alison helped me plan the wedding and stood beside me as we said our vows. As I was searching for something to be read during our
ceremony I found this poem by Wendy Paris:

I want to go everywhere with you. 
I want to go to Italy and Israel and down the street.
I want to lie on a raft under the sun in the South Pacific with you and float and float and float.
I want to go to the tallest building on the highest mountain, in the biggest city.
And I want to go up on the roof with you and look around.
I want us to pool our talents and pool our resources and create together, that which we have not been able to create independently, alone.
And I want you in smaller ways, too, right here, holding my hand and kissing me.

It was perfect. It said everything I felt and thought about Jim. It reminded me of something I had read that Pablo Neruda had said about poetry. As he wrote and spoke in Spanish, I'm paraphrasing the English translation here: He said that poetry was created for everyone, and should be simple. It should not hide behind lofty words. It should melt like pastries on the tongue and be as comfortable as the bed where lovers have slept. Oddly enough Paris wrote the piece as an introduction to her book, Words for the Wedding, but did not intend it to be included in the list of verses.

The poem got me thinking about Alison and her boyfriend Dan. They had met just after Dan had signed up to serve 3 years in the Peace Corps in Africa. I watched how hard it was on them. I thought about how much Alison loved to travel and how many hours we spent together watching the Travel Channel and dreaming of escaping school on a grand adventure.  And while we talked about doing it together, I knew we both thought
about traveling with the men we love. The idea for Alison and Dan's wedding quilt was born then.

Eventually Dan came back to the states, and they got engaged. Time to add my Alison and Dan to the quilt list.

An Introduction

When I was a child my mother took up quilting.  She started making and selling quilts. She made us clothes for Christmas, costumes for school projects and holidays, and curtains as far as the eye could see.  And though she did manage to teach me something about quilting, I was far more interested in making costumes with her old sewing machine.

Fast forward several years and there I was, a professional costume designer...  wishing I could find time to quilt.  Everywhere I looked, my friends were getting married and having babies.  Being young and broke, I decided that the best way to handle attending all these events I was being asked to, was to make my own gifts.  And so I started making quilts for weddings.  Then I started making them when people had babies.  

Soon the number of people who 'needed' a quilt for an occasion had spiraled out of control!  So I started keeping what I called The Quilt List.  Get engaged, you make the list.  Get pregnant, you make the list.  At first the list was just in an old notebook, but that was far too easy to close and put away.  Then it became a gadget on my Google homepage, always reminding me when I signed in, how many there were to make.  Can you imagine how insanely large the list had become?  It needed to be broken down.  It needed to be organized.  It definitely needed to be prioritized. 

And so now the list is a blog.  Something I need to keep track of and answer to each day.  Something to keep me on task.  Something to remind me to make a few moments to sew for pleasure each day.  There are also rules for the quilt list.

1. Friends and family who get engaged or pregnant make the list.
2. Break off your engagement, you are taken off the list.
3. The list gets prioritized based on dates. 
4. There are no quilts made for Christmas, or birthdays and I stop quilting around the end of October, so I can make Christmas presents in November & December.
5. My best quilts come from the inspiration I feel when thinking of the person I'm making them for. I create a quilt based on who the recipient is, not on what their living room looks like.

This blog will chronicle each new quilt that I make, a little about the person I make it for, my inspiration, pattern and fabric selections.  Sometimes I may add patterns and tutorials.  As I teach at a state university, the Fall and Spring semesters are my busiest times. When I don't have anything new to show you from a current quilt project, I will occasionally post previously made quilts, miscellaneous sewing and crafting projects, some of the costumes and crafts I make at work, and favorite recipes.  So follow along with me, as I attempt to manage my crafting habit, my crazy job, keeping house, and the Quilt List.