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Back at the Red Bar Ranch…June 2012

Well before I got engrossed in Randy’s sow along (I have 45 blocks now) I was contemplating what to do with this bunch of leftover red strips.

I had this brainstorm that I could sew them together and then cut them up into 6” block units.

And make blocks like these…

That worked pretty well except that the diagonal cuts got to be a bit long.

 I know what you are thinking, that’s a lot of bias; but, I have always found that as long as you don’t yank at the edges too much all will be well (and square).

Red #2- 49″ x 49″

The blocks are a little wonky ’cause I had some problems with the long cuts.  But this method does whip up enough units to make a decent sized lap quilt in a jiffy. You may be wondering, ‘Why all the red strips?’.  Many years ago I wanted to make a quilt  for my friend Lianna.  When I asked her what kind of quilt she would like she said she did not care what style it was just that it had to be red.  This was quite a challenge for me, I had never made an all red quilt before but I figured if it was going to be one color I was going to vary the shades of that one color as much as possible, to make it more interesting.  I bought a lot of ‘reds’. Cut a lot of red strips and accumulated a lot of red strips.

Alas,  all that experimentation lead to more scraps.  But scraps are my favorite so I made YET another scrappy Bar Quilt.

I think that blue and white batik is the perfect compliment to all that crazy red.  After that there were Still more scraps so I made some misc. pillow / wall hanging type things.

Even tho’ people normally think of red as something you add to jazz things up I think when used like this It has a very calm feeling.

And even tho’ the ‘red’ basket is not empty I think I see progress ( it use to be overflowing and now it’s just full!)

Happy June, cheers, CW

Block Fever= Randy’s Sow-along- May 2012

I don’t do many ‘classical’ blocks these days.  I guess I’m just to impatient or sloppy or something.   I would describe myself as an adequate piecer, but my blocks are never perfect so I’m not inclined to take on projects that require that much attention.  Having said that;  I was over at my friend Randy’s house a couple of weeks ago and she was showing me a bunch of  6″ blocks from her Sow-along from her blog=  I thought they were so cool I thought I’d give it a try.  Well strike me down with a feather but I got bit by the bug!  I have been having so much fun making these blocks it is really like a fever!  Here’s one from Randy’s blog this week.

Of course  I had a lot of catching up to do so I have been making 3 or 4 blocks every day or so.  To mix things up, I’ll do a couple of Randy’s blocks and then I’ll choose a few of my own.  Here’s a couple I did today.

As you can see the piecing is not perfect but it will have to do.  I’m on a mission!  I have decided to make enough for a bed size quilt.  I’m thinkin’  maybe 104″ square.  I like bed quilts with a good drape on the sides.  My husband is a real ‘covers hog’  if I don’t use oversized covers  I end up in the cold.  Anywho, at 104″  that’s at least 15 x 15 = 225 blocks and that’s with  1″ sashing.  Yikes!  Well I already  have 36 blocks on account of this fever I’m in.

Hopefully it won’t subside too soon and Randy’s sow along will help to keep me in motivated.  Thanks Randy!

Cheers to all and Happy May!  Claire W.

More Quick kid Quilts

After the fun I had with the car and truck fabrics all I had left was a small pile of horizontal (selvage to selvage) all different width strips.  Not a lot of flexibility there.  But since I kinda had Bar quilts on the brain I wondered if what worked vertically might work horizontally?!  So I put this quick kid quilt together.

I had to pull a few extra strips from my stripy scrap bag ‘cause I did not have quite enough car strips to make a full top.  I think the geometric checkerboard fabrics help to calm down the busy car fabrics.  Plus  the checkerboards are reminiscent of racing flags so in an odd way they work thematically.  I added the tonal green to balance the single green car strip.  And the black with chilly peppers were the only thing I could find to balance the black-background-car fabs.

I was trying to pull from my scrappy strips as much as possible so, the right border is the last of the leftovers from the first quilt and the borders are all a little off from one another but I kinda like that; and I did not have to cut them.  I know how lazy can I be?!  Don’t answer that!

All these horizontal strips got me thinking about other related bags of leftover strips so I pulled out this bag of monochromatic red strips leftover from a really ancient project and put them up on my design wall.

I don’t think  this color scheme translates to this layout as well as the conversation prints;  but it has given me an idea for another possible solution for these strips!  That’s what design walls are for, right?!!!  I’ll keep you posted on the ‘solution’ as soon as I work out more of the details. Cheers, CW

And Now For Something Completely Different! -April 2012

…Or maybe I should call this blog ‘from the sublime to the ridiculous’!  Not that my hand quilting is so sublime but sometimes my reaching for ways to use scraps is close to ridiculous!  Well, all self deprecation behind: I did finish a few other quilts in this first quarter of 2012 and I thought I’d share some quick tricks that I stumbled upon .

My husband and I were going to visit his niece, her husband and their two wonderful children !   Sara’s kids are 2.5 and 1 years of age and of course at the last-minute I decided I needed to make them quilts.  So I looked in my stash of ‘Kids’ tops.  This top immediately jumped out as a good fit for the 1-year-old.  But what to do for the 2.5year old?!

Years ago when my younger son was about 6, I made him a quilt with all these cute car and truck fabrics.  I had  some strips and patches left over from that project but not really enough to do anything real fancy.  But  I know how much 2.5 year old boys love trucks and I wanted to use up those patches so  I put the patches together to make this  bar quilt.

It was easy to assemble all the patches ’cause they were already the same width  and the varying heights just added interest to the appearance of the bars so I did not have to cut or trim any of the patches.  Since all the fabrics were unidirectional, setting the patches from top to bottom as bars seemed the logical choice and it was QUICK!!!

Adding some semi solids in between the patchy bars to calm down all the patterns was and easy choice and then the geometric checkerboard seemed a good medium pattern to frame the sides.

Since our grand nephews live in a very warm climate I picked out some nice flannel for backing and quick turned the quilts without batting so the quilts would be cuddly but not to bulky or hot ( and no binding, another quick quilt technique!!!) A little stitch -in -the- ditch quilting to tie everything down and away we went!

Well the quilts were a big hit!  And when prompted CZ ( the 2.5 year old) can tell you his ‘aunt Claire’ gave him his truck quilt!  It was fun and it was easy and Oh what joy it brings to me!  cheers, Claire W.

Hand Quilting – The Perfect Rainy Day Activity- March 20012

I did pretty well by my New Years Resolution.  I  quilted almost everyday in the month of January and I was down to the last row on the frame when I went on vacation.  The vacation was great but when I got back my hand quilting was at a complete stand still.  It has taken me a while to get back into the swing of things, but;  the week before last it rained almost all week and rainy days are just perfect for siting inside all snug and warm and sewing!  With the help of the wet weather not only did I jump start my hand quilting but….I finished, I finished, I finished!!!!!!!!!!!!    (to be sung not spoken)

Here’s the quilt fresh off the frame.

Here it is on the design wall, where you can really see the great impact of this old quilt.

This detail shows the batting.

I used a wool blend naturally gray bat from Matilda Bat Co. out of Australia.  It needled really well and had enough loft to help conceal some of the wonky parts of the quilt.  Suffice it to say I am very pleased with the end product and glad that at long last it is finished.  Cheers, CW

Happy V- day All Month Long

I made this quilt for my husband about 12 Valentine Days ago.  I always bring it out for my bed for the whole month of February. The crazy ’50’s fabric is so much fun and most of the blocks are from a valentine day block swap which also makes it special to me.  Happy V-Day everyone!


Hand Quilting my New Years Resolution

I’ve been trying to finish hand quilting this quilt for ohhhh maybe three years?!#*@!!!  So I decided to make one of my New Years resolutions to work a little bit on it every day until it is done.   As you can see I have a pretty sweet set up for hand quilting.  I have a really nice view of my patio and the indirect Eastern light is great for actually seeing where I’m quilting.

I use painter's tape as a guide for my straight lines

The top I’m working on is a great old vintage top  made from a variety of indigoes and Mourning fabrics arranged in a very striking snail trail display.  Some vintage collectors might say finishing such tops is a mistake.  But I think old tops without any documentation might as well be finished and enjoyed.  I take lots of pictures of the front and back before I start so details of construction are recorded.

When I look at old quilts or tops to buy I am often attracted to the ‘odd ducks’.  Wonky blocks, off colors or patterns etc. despite the fantastic visual impact of this quilt top it had structural problems, which may be the reason that it was never finished.

Snail’s trail blocks have a lot of bias edges in their construction and that can lead to some pretty wonky blocks.   In the case of this quilt: while the blocks were all hand pieced the seams between the blocks were machine sewn. All that hand pieced bias fabric trapped in tight machine stitching made for some blocks being pretty ‘poochy’ in the middle.

detail of the pucker before quilting

No amount of stretching would ever get that completely flat.  My remedy was to choose a fairly fluffy , mostly wool blend batting.  Also I think quilting on a big frame helps keep fairly even tension over the whole surface of the quilt thus spreading or easing the  puckers in as you quilt.

same block after quilting

It’s not perfect by any means but it lays more less flat.   When the quilt is relaxed off the frame the fluffy wool batting helps to camouflage a multitude if sins!

I have hand quilted a few tops of my own construction but I find finishing these orphan tops is much more gratifying.  I find machine piecing  my own tops is much more efficient (and appropriate). I am not a great hand quilter so I try to match my quilting with the construction level of the top.

As to my New Years resolution… I’ve done pretty well.  I have quilted a little everyday since the new year and I have already quilted almost an entire row of blocks.  Just one more roll of the frame and I will be on my last row!!! Yahooooo!  Happy New Year! CW