Marian’s Spring Bouquet

If you’ve ever heard of Edyta Sitar from Laundry Basket Quilts, you know she creates masterpieces from scraps.  Marian recently made a quilt from Edyta’s pattern “Spring Bouquet.”  If you like what you see in this post, you can find the pattern at Laundry Basket Quilts here.

Let’s start out with a full shot, so you can really start drooling.

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As you can see, there are what looks to me like a gazillion pieces, many of them tiny.  I know this must have taken some time for Marian to complete.

Before I get on to the close-ups of Marian’s quilt, I want to show you a trick I use when quilting.  I have a couple of laser lights for making sure I get things square.  I have a laser square that I use for blocking quilts.  You can see how I use that here. Yes, it’s a tool you can find at your local hardware store; a place I get several other tools for my quilting work.  But, for when I don’t have the room for the laser square such as when I’m working on my quilting machine’s frame, I use another laser tool like this in the lower right of the picture below.  These can also be used for making sure you hang pictures straight across a wall.  I use it to line up seams and borders as I am moving along the quilt.  I can run my fingers along that laser line and nudge the top this way or that if it needs it.

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So, let’s take a look at some quilting I did along the borders so you can see what I did with Marian’s quilt.

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And, then we’ll move a little inside the borders.

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I know Marian didn’t want any stitching inside the applique (some people do, some people don’t), but see those daisy looking flowers on the right in the picture below?  I couldn’t control myself and had to tack that center down.  It was trying to fly off the quilt.  Honestly, I usually try very hard to give the customer what he or she wants, but, since she was putting this in a show, I thought it might detract from the beauty of Marian’s work.  So, I stitched it down. <big breath>

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Until we get to the middle…

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If you would like to drool on see this quilt in person, Marian has entered it into the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival held at the Overland Park Convention Center next month…June 19 – 21.  For more information on the quilt festival, check them out here.

 

 

Déjà vu

Currently I am in between customer quilts and have pictures of quilts that I cannot post due to the fact that they will be raffle quilts.  The customers prefer that they are not “revealed” until the official reveal, if you get my meaning.  Anyhow, I figured I’d show you something I’ve been trying to finish for myself.  This was part of a quilt guild challenge to make something from our charm square exchange.  This quilt has been on and off my quilting machine’s frame more times than I care to think about (in between customer quilts).  I’ve decided to name it “Jewels of the Valley.”  All I have left to do is finish the binding on it, and clean it up (trim threads, etc.).

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In other news, remember this quilt?  It was in another one of my blog posts a long time ago.  You can read that post here.

Tree of Life full view

You can also find it at the bottom right of this page, listed under NQA’s 2013 show winners.  It won 1st place in the Scrappy Quilt Division.  Right now it is in a traveling exhibit for International Quilt Association.  If you go to IQA’s Quilt Festival in Chicago, you will be able to see it in person in their Timeless Treasures exhibit.  It will be in the same exhibit at the Quilt Festival in Houston this fall as well.  So, please look for it at either place.  I don’t know if it will be at Market or not.  The show in Chicago will be towards the end of June.  If you can’t make it to either the Chicago or the Houston show, here are some close-up shots so you can get a better look at what I snuck into the quilting.

Fairy smelling the flower…

Tree of Life detail  of fairy

Better?

tree of life quilt fairy stitching detail

Elf sitting on a mushroom…

Tree of Life quilting mushroom and elf

And with light “exposing” it…

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Troll under a bridge

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Embellished with button berries and vines made from couched yarns

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Some shots of the borders and down below with “light on the subject”…

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And, finally the label…inside and the cover.  You lift up the cover to find the label of all the contributors to the fabric in this quilt.

Tree of Life label outside  Tree of Life label underside

Tree of Life was from a HST (Half Square Triangle) fabric exchange done through The Quilt Show’s forum.  After watching Edyta Sitar on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, quilters from all over the world sent in HSTs to exchange with each other.  With the help of several others, more specifically from Clara Lawrence, Debbie Wolf collected and ran a “sort” for the more than 600 people who participated in the exchange and then mailed them back to everyone.  I couldn’t just “not” make a statement with my quilt of triangles from many lands.  So, figuring the quilt grew from a seed that had been planted with many hands of many friends, I decided it had to be a Tree of Life.  Then, I quilted in fairies, elves, gnomes, trolls, bees, and other creatures as helpers in creating this quilt.  There is a lot of symbolism all over in this quilt; I had a great time putting it together and watching it come to life.  What triangles I could not fit onto the front of the quilt went onto the back of the quilt to cover the label.  I just couldn’t leave anyone out.  As for the design, well… I took one of my old dishes and traced the design and then took it to Kinko’s and had them enlarge it for the 36″ center medallion.  Overall, it’s about 75″ square.  I do hope you get a chance to see it in person.  Who knows?  Maybe I have one of your triangles in this quilt.  You can ask the White Gloved person/helper at the show to let you peek at the label to see if your name is on there!

Letter Challenge

Have you ever made a craft (in my case, a quilt) that just didn’t “work” for you the whole way through?  You didn’t feel good about it to begin with, but you carried on anyway and then you couldn’t seem to make it work no matter what.  It’s happened to me several times before, but I was beginning to feel a little cocky, thinking I knew how to put together quilts.   And, here I am now, with a piece of crap that I’m going to try to pass for a quilt…  :o( <eye roll and sigh>

One of the guilds I belong to has a “challenge” that is due October 2nd.  The challenge is to make a quilt with letters on it, any kind of letters.  It could be a “Dear John” letter quilt.  It could be a baby quilt with letters of the alphabet on it?  Really… how hard can that be?  Well, teacher of reading that I at one time was… I was stumped!  I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do related to letters.  I almost did not participate.  Then I remembered a pattern by Edyta Sitar in one of her books that I have that I’ve been wanting to use for some fabric strips from a fabric exchange.  It’s a wall hanging called Family Estate from her book Friendship Strips and Scraps.  I had some beige background fabric that looks like cross-stitched letters on it, so I could easily “cheat” and use that and then add EST. 1974 (for “established” in 1974 – the year my husband and I were married) at the bottom.

Okay!  So, I had my idea and I proceeded to look through my scraps for fabric swatches.  I had fabric strips from a “strip exchange” with folks from the forum of “The Quilt Show” with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.  I could use those for the logs on the house.  I wasn’t sure about my choice of border fabrics, so I thought I’d look while I was out at the quilt stores dropping off flyers for the Hollis Chatelain event (2 more days now, but who’s counting?).  I looked for my standard basic black background color fabric that should go with my home decor, but I found myself drawn to this brown fabric.  I think it was the red and pink swirly things that look kind of like quilting feathers that sucked me into buying that fabric.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like the fabric.  Just wait until you see the colors I put with it, though.  I got a contrasting fabric from the same fabric line for the thin inner border and started working on the quilt.

This wall hanging would be about 2 square feet, finished.  So, it shouldn’t take too much effort.  Wrong!  I started out fussing over the fabric strips from the exchange.  I wanted reds for the house, but I only had about 3 strips that would work.  And, red is funny with all its different shades, so I had to nix that idea.  So, I started looking at my strips and saw that I had a lot of blues.  Well, blue just wasn’t going to look right with that brown border.  When I looked a little closer at the border fabric, I noticed there were dots of teal in it.  Okay.  I had blues, greens, and teals that would blend together and might draw out that little speck of teal in the brown border fabric.  That should pull it all together, right?

 

 

 

Wrong!  Yuck!  This is the finished top.  I’m a crappy “piecer” too.  Good thing I do quilting for others, because I am much more tolerant of others who do not have perfectly pieced tops because of my own inability at it also.  Nothing was working for me.  The background fabric with the letters on it is barely noticeable as having letters since it is cut up and not one big piece of fabric.  And, how does that “EST.” qualify for a “letter” quilt challenge???  So, I just sat this aside and decided that when I put the layers together to quilt it, I will quilt my first name and my husband’s first name into it along with our last name.  Then I’ll add both our daughters’ names to the stitching.  Although I’m not real happy with this product, it’ll have to do for this challenge.  The letters will be in the quilting and I will call it a day… well, several days… and surely one day that will not end with an award for winning the challenge!

Good grief!  Who would have thought a “letter challenge” could be such a challenge?

Eye see it now… I think.

For those of you who do or do not know me personally, here is the latest update on my left eye.  This may well be the most boring of my posts yet!  😉  I basically only have one eye that I use to quilt with.  Right now I almost cannot see at all out of my left eye.  It’s like looking through a cloud.  But, I just had a tube shunt put into my left eye on Monday to help control the pressure in that eye (my bad eye).  I think good eye pressure numbers are between 15 and 20.  Mine has been as high as 46.

But, I’ve had several surgeries on that eye, so it’s been a little pissed off and rightfully so.   Hopefully, as my eye heals from this latest surgery, the “cloud” will clear up to wax paper vision, so I’ve got better peripheral vision in that left eye when I drive.  Yes, I can drive.  I am legally blind in that left eye, but so far my right eye is playing nice so that I can continue to drive.  I don’t yet feel comfortable being the driver with passengers (other than my dogs).

Cataracts tend to develop over several years before the eye doctors will do surgery… something about not being able to correct your vision with 20/50 lenses or better.  So, by the time you get your cataracts removed and a new lens put in, you have difficulty reading huge letters and numbers (like the price of gas on those big signs at gas stations – that huge).  I had cataract surgery on my left eye February, 2011 and on my right eye in April, 2011.  By the end of September, 2011 I started having serious problems with my left eye.  Apparently, the retina had detached several months before with no symptoms in my vision.  Because it had been detached for so long, there were now rips and tears, holes, and LOTS of scar tissue building up in there.

My first retinal surgery was the end of September, 2011.  They removed what scar tissue they could and repaired what damage they could.  They also put oil in my eye instead of a gas bubble.  That meant that I’d have to get the oil removed later with another surgery.  I think the decision for the oil instead of the gas bubble was to help hold things in place longer and with less restrictions.   By the time they were ready to do my next surgery to remove the oil and put a gas bubble in its place, my eye pressure was up to 46.  Drops helped the pressure, but it liked to hover in the 30s.

So, my second retinal surgery was the mid/late January, 2012 when they put a gas bubble in my eye which was dissipating quickly.  My retina detached a little over a week later.  My third retina surgery was February 6, 2012.  This time they put a scleral buckle around my eyeball, hopefully to hold the retina in place better.  That surgery was very painful with painful lingering effects.

My spirits were soooo down during this time.  After retina surgery, you have to lay flat in some way.  I had to lay face-down for 24 hours after my first surgery and then on my sides for the next week or more.  After each retinal surgery, the restrictions increased with the surgeries in 2012 resulting in me not being allowed to do anything at all other than lay on my left side – it made for a painful cauliflower ear.  I wasn’t allowed to read or use the computer for weeks and not allowed to sew either.  Nor was I allowed to get up and move around or do any chores.

With nothing but time on your hand, the thoughts that go through your mind are very depressing and “trying” to your spirits.  I really did want to die, especially if I would have to have another retinal surgery.  I can’t tell you how difficult it is for me to just sit or lay and do nothing.  It was quite a mental struggle for me – I had reached rock bottom.  During this time I tried to figure out “why.”  Why had this happened to me and why was I required to lay there in solitude and emptiness and do nothing?  I believe things happen for a reason, so I figured the lesson I was supposed to learn was to stop over-doing and always doing stuff.  Slow down and smell the coffee.  Life is short – we shouldn’t be in such a rush as to take it and the people in our lives for granted.  Through this I learned that people’s feelings play such a bigger role in their being than I’d ever imagined.  We tend to get so crazy busy with our lives that we forget how our actions and words will affect others.

So, for now, my goal is to bring beauty to the world of others through my quilting, through providing knowledge for others about the different aspects of quilting, and through acceptance of the differing personalities in the world, but also through trying to make all feel accepted, vital and special in their part and gifts to our world.

Yes, with each eye surgery I will lose a bit more physical vision and I risk another retinal detachment each time they poke or dig around in my eye.  Also, I am dealing with lattice degeneration in my “good” right eye, which means that the retina will most likely detach in my right eye in time.  But, as I deal with the loss of physical vision, I think I’ve learned to see things more clearly in the emotional and sensual realm.   In time I may become legally blind in both eyes, but I will continue to “see” in different ways.  And, I will surely quilt until the day I die regardless of whether or not I can “see” what I’m doing.  Otherwise, my spirit truly will die – my quilting is my lifeline.  I hope that sharing it with you will provide a lifeline for you as well.

Here is a quilt I made with one eye.

And, here is the detail stitching that I put in it  of a fairy smelling the flower (using one eyeball).

By the way, this quilt was juried and made it into the American Quilter’s Society show in Grand Rapids, Michigan August 22-25, 2012.

The point is… things happen to us, but it’s how we choose to react that makes us who we are.

Hello world!

Happy Sunday morning!  We so needed the rain today, a good atmosphere for quilting!  After all the eye surgeries, and working like a cyclops, I am finally finished with my latest quilt.  I was one of 615 participants in the SOTTT (Sisterhood of the Traveling Triangles) exchange.  Edyta Sitar was on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims showing quilts that could be made with fabric exchanges.  That’s when Debbie posted on the forum that she would like to start a Half Square Triangle exchange.  Little did she know the work involved!  Anyhow, it grew into 615 participants from around the world.   I had a lot of fun putting the quilt from this exchange together and then quilting it.   

So, it’s off to get to the rest of  my neglected house and to the quilt guild meeting this week!  Have a super week!