Thursday, August 4, 2016

Quilt Decorating I: Barn Quilts

When I did my "Get It Done!" recap for June, I said I would do a detail post on the Barn Quilt I made. This is the picture of it that I had shared before (as it's seen from street level):

Hmmm, that's a little hazy.  Need to take another picture of it!
.....and here it is close up:

I've always wanted to do a barn quilt for my terrace wall.  In the past, I have displayed a large grape ivy wreath there during the fall/winter seasons.  I'd decorate it with faux fall foliage and then drape it with evergreen pine boughs and ornaments for the Christmas holiday.  I've also always loved the articles I've read about Barn Quilts.   Since I'm big on using quilts as decoration, I figured that as a quilter, an exterior quilt block would be another way to announce my "hobby" to the world.  My plan was to use the signs for outside decoration in the spring and summer months.

I had mentioned this more than a few times to my DH.  One day in 2013 he found a big board of 3/4" thick pressed plywood discarded along his delivery route (he used to be a UPS driver but now drives their tractor trailers) and brought it home for me wondering if I could use it to make the "signs" I had so often talked about.  I was encouraged by his support since usually when I do these DIY type things he's skeptical (aka, thinks I'm a crazy lady) at best.  After getting the wood that year, I finally bought my own circular saw (always wanted one!) and cut the board down into two approximately 24" square pieces.  I figured I could paint on both the front and back of each and have four different block designs to make and display. 

We have a big heavy nail driven into the back wall of our terrace that was left from the previous tenants (good because we are technically not allowed to nail into the outer walls).  It's the same one I hang the wreath from so I drilled a hole in the top of each board for that.  I stocked up on water based craft paint at the local Michael's when they had sales.  But I admit I dragged my feet about the actual painting, primarily stalled about what block designs I wanted to do and what colors I wanted to use.   

Then in 2014 I saw that the always inspiring Elaine, who blogs at "Elaine Adair Pieces", posted about a Barn Quilt she painted as a gift for a friend.  Check out her work on it here:
Elaine had also previously painted some blocks on the side of her "barn" (aka her garage):
When I saw Elaine's post, my enthusiasm for the project was renewed!  She and I exchanged a couple of emailed conversations about what she had done and I realized that there were quite a few tips shared in her posts (oh, the power of blogging!) that gave me the confidence to push forward on this again.  Unfortunately, I had read her post towards the end of September so decided to wait until the next spring to try again.  Yeah, that would have been Spring of 2015 --- well, better late than never!  When this year's Spring season started late and I finally got my terrace cleared off and planting set up after Memorial Day, I decided that this would be the year to finally get this project done!

One of the first helpful tips in Elaine's post was to treat wood that's not smooth by sanding it a bit before painting.  I had always planned to paint a base coat first but found the next tip in her post -- to use an oil-based house paint as the base coat -- to be another very good idea since mine would hang outside in the elements.  I had also always planned that after using the craft paint for the block colors, I was going to seal the whole thing with polyurethane afterwards to further protect the design from the elements. 

The other good tip I got from her post was the idea of being conscious of using good contrast when choosing the colors for your blocks.  The wall my block would hang against is red brick so when I started to consider colors, it was like we always say in quilting "color gets all the credit but value (and contrast) does all the work"!  So I took that into account when I began to look around for a good quilt block to render.  Fortunately, just then I got the monthly e-newsletter from Quilting In the Country and it featured the popular "Barn Quilt Trail Midwest Medallion Quilt" by author Suzi Parron as a Block of the Month project. 

Note:  Quilting in The Country is no longer operating as a retail shop but still offers items online, although not this one.  If you're interested in a kit for the Medallion quilt, you can find it at Connecting Threads.

My eye was drawn to the block in the upper left hand corner.  I loved the blue and white and the use of orange, an analogous color to red, made it a perfect color combination for the patriotic summer months, not to mention pleasing to me as a NY Mets fan!  So with Elaine's tips and now a firm block plan in place, I was ready to go.
From cutting table to painting station!
I set about working on it just prior to my MIL (also a quilter) coming to stay with us for the second time this year, deciding that this would be a good "welcome" piece for the house.  So even if my neighbors or passers-by didn't appreciate it, I knew my guest would!   It took me altogether about a week to paint and dry the white base layer on both sides and the edges (done outdoors on the terrace), tape off and paint the different color sections (done indoors as seen above), touch up some spots after removing the tape and then seal it with a coat of spray polyurethane (back outdoors again). 

The good news is that when it was finished and hung, I did get compliments  on it from my neighbors too (as well as the opportunity to explain what a Barn Quilt is and that no, it was not made of fabric)!  On the Medallion quilt,  I also like the block in the lower right corner too.  If I can stay productive as I finish out the summer, I might paint that one to display in the early fall before putting the wreath out.  This was a fun project and another great way to bring quilty goodness into one's life!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

On the Design Wall: Progress!!

August is starting off well!  The project I talked about here is now here:

 The blocks are all done!  Still have to be sewn together to complete the top.  Now it's time to work on a border/borders.  Since I'm using Judy's book "60 Pieced Borders" to make this, I'm trying to decide whether to go with the original border paired with the center....

....or to use one of the other borders designed to go with it....

....or to use a border that is paired with one of the other quilt centers in the book.  Judy has always loved adding multiple borders to her quilts.  Check out this post from her blog from 2009 to see what I mean.  In this post, she talks about how she deals with how tedious it can be to make borders once she's finished the top --- she makes the borders first!!

Well since that's not an option for me at this point, I'm faced with decisions, decisions......

Monday, August 1, 2016

Get It Done! July Recap, August Goals

Well, it was another not-so-productive month!  At the start of the month, I THOUGHT I was done with family commitments.  NOT!  As noted in the previous two reports,  my MIL had come up to New York from North Carolina by train in April, and then returned in May and June, both of those times staying with us.  During the May trip she had mentioned that at the end of 2015 (long before she knew she would NEED to make trips to NYC in 2016), she had promised her sister-in-law (who also used to live here in NY) that she would drive up with her at some point this summer.  I had assumed that after she had accepted our invitation to come back up in June for our son's graduation, she might not want to make yet another trip up with her SIL.  Again, NOT!!   So once again, we were preparing for a week-long house guest. 

This time though, my MIL had decided that since she and her SIL had separate plans for their time in NY, she wanted this trip to be a quilt-focused one.  She brought four quilts for finishing (gifts for people here in NY) and a new project to be cut, laid out and pieced.  She also wanted to visit a couple of "Row By Row" shops which we also did (and I'll get to talk about that in another post).  Despite having learned from her previous visit to set up some "mindless sewing" work for myself this time around, we still spent pretty much all of our time together working on her projects.  So while I didn't get too much done personally while she was here, it was fun having another Obsessed Quilter in the house!  Add a week of errands and clean up both before and after she left and July was pretty much killed for me quilting-wise.

So despite the relatively short July list (which can be seen here), I can succinctly recap a big "NOT DONE" on all of it.  However, while intending to start on item #1 from the list, I wound up working on this new project:

Details about that can be read about here.

So For August, once again the list consists of all the carryovers:

1. Quilts Of Valor.  Hoping to get two cut out today so I can use them as "leader/enders" on the above project.
2. The T-shirt Quilt.  Still a big priority since I need it for the house --- not sure why I'm dragging on it.
3. Pastel baby quilt.  Still need to get this commission job done, thankfully (?) there's no deadline.
4. Graduation quilt:  Found a potential background fabric for this one so now I can try to get this at least started.
5. Quilt CW Chronicles:  This one is still long overdue and I'm still looking forward to doing some custom quilting on it so fingers crossed I finally get to it.

I'm also glad to say that other people stepped up to cover the regular shifts I did in July for our community garden so even that commitment (other than periodically going to check on our plot) has also been cleared from my schedule for this month.  Therefore, I'm declaring August a Personal Vacation Month for me and hope to spend it quilting DAILY!!  However, given how the previous months have gone, we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Let's Book It! July 2016
As the month closes out, I can't say that I got much done this month (as my Get It Done! report will show tomorrow).  However, I did do some work on one project that, as it turns out, is totally appropriate for this venue!

I was supposed to start work on Quilt of Valor projects this month.  When I went to the bag with the stash of projects that I've already coordinated fabric for, at the top of it was the fabrics for this quilt:

This is "Across Country Lines" from Judy Laquidara's book "60 Pieced Quilt Borders" published by AQS (2012).

Reading Sharon's comment on her Book It! post that she hated doing borders was what prompted me share this project and book today.  Judy has always been a big fan and proponent of doing multiple pieced borders on her projects which you can see is true if you check out her free patterns page.  Her book provides 60 (!) pieced border designs and fifteen projects that can be mixed and matched with the different borders.  She also gives tips on measuring your borders, determining how to make them fit and using coping strips to help with that. 

However, for me this didn't originally start out as a Book It! project.  I originally found out about Judy's design from her blog, Patchwork Times.

Back in May of 2010, Judy announced a Memorial Day Quilt Along.  She was taking one of her previous designs called "Tiger Trails" and doing it up in patriotic colors with the intention of using it for a QOV donation.  At the time, she also made the generous offer to quilt any tops made in the design by her readers if they sent them to her with binding fabric.  After quilting them, she would send them to Alycia at Alycia Quilts who would distribute them through her QOV donation network.  At the time I was always excited about making Red, White and Blue quilts and was just starting to consider doing a QOV so figured the QAL would be perfect for me.  I did get fabric for the project in the weeks following......

....but unfortunately didn't get started on the project right away although I did print out the first two steps.  By the time I was ready to work on it in late 2011, I went searching on her blog and couldn't find the posts for it!  I emailed Judy and she told me that with her blog recently updated, the posts might have been lost but if she found them she would either re-post them or would include the design as one of the projects in her (then) next book.  Needless to say that's what happened.  I eventually got the book but STILL managed to not start the project until now.   This is as far as I got this month:

I've got two more blocks waiting to be pieced on the mini design boards but I need to cut more of the dark blue and red into strips to make four more four patch units.  My hope is to get this to a top before the summer ends.   At this point, it won't be a QOV donation since I don't expect to get it finished any time soon and foresee it taking me a while to get to quilting it.  I've got easier projects planned that will make for speedier donations so need to wrap this up so I can get to those!

Got a project and a book to highlight?  Then add to Sharon's linky over at her blog Vrooman's Quilts so we can see what books and projects we're missing out on!
P.S.  In addition to the recent announcement of the demise of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, it has also been announced that AQS will also cease publishing books.  Judy mentions it here and there is a great blog article on the Generation Q magazine site about how the quilt industry is contracting in general.  Expect a lot of conversation on this topic in the coming months. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The End of An Era.....

 Just saw this a little while ago on Bill Volckening's "Wonky World" blog:

(Click the photo or the link to his blog to read it clearly)
I can't believe it!  Quilter's Newsletter has been a part of my quilting life since the very beginning.  I remember Alex Anderson (back when she was host of Simply Quilts on HGTV) saying it was the best quilting magazine to read and I immediately subscribed to it.  It's the only magazine that I've kept a continuous subscription to and have a complete collection of issues going back to 1984 (eBay has been very good to me over the years for that). 

I've always liked that QNM chronicled the quilt world in general in addition to providing quilt patterns.  While all the magazines do that now, back when I started reading QNM it offered the most comprehensive survey of quilt events and competitions (both announcements of them and
showcasing the winning quilts), profiles of famous and locally proficient quilters, historical moments in quilting history (posted on the "Bulletin Board" and "Design Wall" pages), lessons on techniques and new products and a place in their "Quilting Bee" section for quilters to share their projects or in the "Quilt Lovers Forum" and "300 Words About Quilting" to share their feelings about quilts and the quilt making process. 

Over the years they've offered insights into the business side of quilting with columns by Jeff Gutcheon in the early 1980's ("Not For Shopkeepers Only") and regular columns by quilt legends Jean Ray Laury and Helen Kelly that sparked your creativity and productivity.

It will be sad to say good-bye to this iconic publication and interesting to see what, if anything will fill the void it will leave.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Get It Done! June Recap, July Goals

Once again, I'm a day late getting this done!  It was also another busy month so not as much accomplished on my part as hoped.  My MIL returned to NC on Monday after staying with us for a week to attend my youngest son's high school graduation.  We did get some quilting done --- but all of it was on her projects!  With my help, we worked on the designs for two lap quilt tops which she completed and we started work on a third.  I also invited one of her friends to come stitch with us last Saturday.  I had taught both of them to quilt and we used to sew together at my MIL's house when she still lived here in New York.  Their friendship started when they were co-workers, then they scrapbooked together and now both are obsessed fully committed to quilting!  We helped her friend design a pieced back for a baby quilt and she brought her new sewing machine and we helped her learn about some of its features.  Between coaching and hosting, I forgot to take pictures!

I truly appreciate the value of a quilt retreat now --- had I not been preparing for guests and hosting, I might have gotten more done myself.  Note to self:  in the future, I have to set up some "mindless sewing" tasks if I'm hosting --- something that only needs to just be run through the machine.  I need a "no thinking involved" project if I want to be able to be productive while hosting and teaching.

With regards to the June list, here's what happened:

1. Quilt CW Chronicles:  NOT DONE
The plan was to quilt this project from the March GID list to use on our new high riser beds.  I had planned to set them up pushed together to offer the equivalent of a King size bed.  However, the guest plans changed from my MIL coming with her husband to my MIL coming with her sister.  That meant needing the two twin beds to stay separate and since I already had quilts for them and with so much else to do in preparation, I decided to put this one on the back burner again

2. The T-shirt Quilt :  STARTED

I did get this one from April's GID list at least started.  The above picture was of the shirts I had picked out for this project back in April.   Using a pack of t-shirt quilt interfacing I had bought sometime last year, I only managed to get it attached to the shirts, cut out the elements I wanted to use and start working on the layout. 

I've decided I want to add sashing also cut from the shirt backs so have more fusing and cutting to do and found that hard to focus on with company around.  So this one, which is the first time I've attempted to make this type of quilt, will also be an ongoing project.     

3. Pastel baby quilt: NOT DONE
This is a commission project that I still need to work out the color placement for.  Again not something I could do while paying attention to company so it too moves forward. 

4. Graduation quilt:  NOT DONE

This is a gift project for a family friend who is finishing up a degree.  It also needs some thought given to fabric placement as well as some more stash enhancement!  Like the previous project, that was not something I could do with company around so work on it will have to move forward too. 

5. Quilts Of Valor:   NOT DONE
A shot of the stash storage!
The plan to start on these had already made an appearance on the May list and I had really expected to get a chance to pick a project and start work on these with my guests.  But again, I should have done all that before they got here so I was ready to just sew.  I'm hoping to use the July 4 holiday weekend to finally get started on this. 

6.  (Not a quilt but quilt related)  Terrace Barn Sign  Quilt:  DONE!

Well at least I did get something done even if it wasn't with fabric!  I think it looks pretty good and two of my neighbors complemented it as well.  Last month I called it a "barn sign" but after doing some research on the topic, I stand corrected:  it is actually a "barn quilt".  I will do a separate post on the details soon.

Oh, and not "officially" on the list but mentioned:   I also did get to augment, with batting, the pillow form for the CW repro pillow I had made.  My not-so-filled pillow went from this: this.... now resides on the chair with the Kaye England "CW Legacy" quilt.

This was made from my repro leftovers using the "Fussy-Cut Flowers" Pillow  pattern on the American Patchwork & Quilting website.  It also gave me a chance to use my Accuquilt Go! cutter to cut out the applique circles with fusible attached.

For July, the list consists of all the carryovers:

1. Quilts Of Valor.  Moving this to the top of the list since I hope to work on it some this weekend.
2. The T-shirt Quilt.  Next priority since I need it for the house.
3. Pastel baby quilt. Like to get this commission job done.
4. Graduation quilt:  Much like the QOVs, if not done, at least started.
5. Quilt CW Chronicles:  This one is long overdue and I'm actually looking forward to doing some custom quilting on it so fingers crossed I finally get to it.

With all the major family commitments now done, I'm looking forward to being able to actually focus on all the things I personally want to do for the rest of the summer.  Let's see if I can make that dream happen!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Get It Done! April Recap, June Goals

I've been a long time away from the blog and am a day late to this party!  Both April and May were very busy months for both sad and good reasons (more on that in another post).  Despite my tardiness in getting to this task, June is already expected to be better (more on that in another post too) so I'm trying to re-focus myself so I can get back to what I enjoy -- the quilting.

As I expected, the ambitious April GID list proved to not be doable although with all that went on, it was more due to the circumstances at hand and not my own productivity challenges!   I did get to one project:  #8 on the list, the chair pillow in Civil War fabrics:

This is a free pattern on the American Patchwork & Quilting website that I had long planned to make from my CW scraps.  It also gave me a chance to use my new Accuquilt Go! cutter to cut out the applique circles.   However, it is not totally complete because the pillow insert I bought for it turned out to be too small (and you'll see in the picture below how I got the shot above).  This happened even after I realized that the insert I bought prior to making the pillow was going to be too small and then returned to the store and exchanged it for a larger size.  Unfortunately, even the replacement was not big enough to fill the pillow and since it was the largest size round insert they had, I was still stuck.  However, I have a plan ---
This week I bought some high loft batting and I'm going to try to pad out the insert I have to fill the cover out completely. 
That said, for the rest of this month some of my previous "words of the year" will need to be heeded.  "Purposeful" (2015) and "Focus" (2012) will rule the work plans for June.  So some things from previous GID agendas will appear again while some new things that I want to get done will be added to the list.  So here's what's at bat for June:

1. Quilt CW Chronicles
The last time this one was on the GID list was in March.  Since I'm expecting guests again this month, our new guest set up will utilize a (soon to be delivered) high riser bed.  When set up, the two twin mattresses on it pushed together will offer my quests the equivalent of a King size bed.  My own bed is queen-sized so all of my bed size quilts (both made and planned) are that size.  Despite being tempted to source and start a new King quilt project, I decided to try and finish this one instead.  It is huge so is closer to King than anything I have. It's also long over due for completion and will complete the primary phase of my Civil War quilts series so I welcome the chance (and deadline!) to work on it.

2. The T-shirt Quilt 

This one was on April's GID list for decorating purposes and represents the most important of the projects in that category that I need to get done.  I had picked out all the shirts I wanted to use for this project back in April (and there's one more in use that will be added).  I had bought that pack of t-shirt quilt interfacing sometime last year when I happened to catch it on sale.  This will be the first time I've attempted to make this type of quilt so hopefully it will be a fun learning challenge too.  

3. Pastel baby quilt
Although I've had a baby quilt on my lists since the year started, this is actually a different one from the one previously planned. This is a commission project that I'll get paid for so it'd be good to get it done.

4. Graduation quilt

In the course of the last two month's events, I met a family friend who is finishing up a degree.  She saw one of my quilts and wanted me to make one for her for her graduation. Unlike when we quilters usually get this kind of request, she totally understood when I told her she'd probably have to wait a while for it and uncharacteristically for a "Quilt Muggle", she fully expected to pay for it and understood it wouldn't necessarily be cheap!   
However, I was also inspired by the effort she has made to complete her studies especially during the difficult time we were going through --- so much so that I immediately searched for and found a pattern I liked and began searching for fabrics and graduation applique motifs to bring it to fruition.  In the end, I may wind up gifting it to her but let's see if I can get it made first!

5. Quilts Of Valor
A shot of the stash storage!

I had planned to put making QOVs on the May list in honor of Memorial Day but since I never even got to make up that list, here it is now!  It also has a decorating component to it so with guests coming and the patriotic season still in force until July 4, now is a good time to try to get at least one of these done for donating.

6.  (Not a quilt but quilt related)  Terrace Barn Sign

It stayed pretty cold here almost right up to Memorial Day so it was only last week that I finally hosed off my terrace, uncovered the patio furniture and got all the planters filled.  Although there were two quilt-related projects on the April list for out there, the barn sign is the top priority for me right now.  I had prepared the wood last year and have finally decided on the design I want to use so it's just a matter of getting to the taping and painting!

So that's it, hopefully doable and hopefully more regular posts to follow!  Here's to a productive June!