Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Floating Frames

Are you familiar with Hawthorne Threads? I know I've written about this online shop before, and not to go overboard, but they really are smart about how they present their product. They have the very best newsletter, at least from their point of view. They send me a newsletter via email every week, and every week the photos suck me right in and I start imagining what I will make with some newly arrived fabric line. Isn't it funny how a well designed newsletter can make a product irresistible while poor photographs or a busy, busy newsletter design can turn you off completely?
A couple of months ago a newsletter showed up with pictures of P&B Textiles new design Hello Dahlia. It wasn't a minute before I knew I needed to buy some of it... perhaps even lots of it. I think at first it caught my eye because of the name. My mom grew really pretty deep crimson dahlias and I always loved them. What you don't get from this group photo is the dramatic difference in scale in these prints.
I bought mostly greys and blacks with just a few prints with some red. When the package arrived I was delighted to find that the prints with names like Abstract Floral, Mosaic, and Printed Lines, were quite subtle, but the focus print called Hello Dahlia indeed says HELLO! I still didn't know what the quilt would look like, but I knew I needed a piece of that to focus the design. I also knew that these colors were just right for a woman I was planning to give a quilt for Christmas. And I thought that something rather improvisational would be right for her as well. At first I thought about doing another wonky log cabin, but I thought she deserved an original design - not something I had done before.  
What I ended up with is a collection of frames - some filled with images and some appearing empty - all floating on point in a sea of the black abstract floral. There is a lot going on in this design, but still plenty of neutral space for interesting quilting.
And the back is pieced too, so hopefully it will work as a reversible. Can't wait to get quilting on it. I think I can make some of those frames pop and others recede with some careful free motion quilt work. Once I get it finished I'll write up the pattern and give you a heads up that it is available. That was my finish for the week. How about you?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Another Finish

About a year ago I wrote about making napkins. In a couple of cases I made napkins to match table runners I gave to friends and family. I've made quite a few of the insulated table runners that can serve as one big hot pad in the center of the table. This pink and cream one was designed to match my mother-in-laws dishes, and I fussy cut roses and appliqued them hither and yon.
This one has a similar story. It was made for a favorite aunt to go with her Franciscan Apple dishes. And I made a few others. 

Even before I made these gifts, I had one planned for myself. Mine was going to be big and I planned to use it on the kitchen counter to the left of my stove. I have a granite countertop to the right which I can set hot pans on, but I thought it would be nice when cooking for a big group to have plenty of surface to take something hot.
Well guess what! After only about a year and a half. I finally finished mine.
Truth be told, now that it's finished, I don't know if I will ever use it. With family far away we don't have lots of big family dinners here at the house, and the only big party I cook for at home is at Christmas. This fabric definitely doesn't say Happy Holidays. But at least the project is out of the  UFO pile.

And it does have a really adorable little girl and pup for a back. In fact the whole design was predicated on using this panel for the backing. I don't usually go for cutesy images or sayings, but I really liked the cherry pie fabric, and for some unknown reason felt I had to order the panel which was part of the collection. But for the rectangular panel I wanted to use for the backing, I might have designed something square, like this.

But that's another  project for another time. Right now it's time to dig through the UFO pile and finish up a few more projects! How about you? What are you finishing up this week? Month?  Year?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Did I Say Blocks?

I've mentioned a couple of times that I'm participating in Craftsy's free Block of the Month quilting project. Well here is the block for July.
I don't really love the colors, but the contrst definitely makes the 3D impression work. Laura Nownes calls it tumbling blocks or baby blocks. The way they are floating there, they do look like they ought to fall over.
The assignment for August and September was to piece a basket and then applique a bunch of flowers in it. I know, right? I just couldn't make myself cut into fabric to make something that sweet. It makes me think of Sunbonnet Sue. Instead I made this block. 
It's called the New York Beauty Circle of Geese, and I do LOVE it. In october we are supposed to make strips of traditional flying geese and these will somehow pull this whole crazy collection of blocks together. Except of course they aren't really blocks. They are all different sizes, and it's a bit hard to imagine a way to make them pull together. Here is Laura finished quilt.
I think she did an admirable job of designing a block of the month quilt that covers lots of new techniques. I've already used partial seams and Y-seams in a couple of projects I've designed. At the same time, I keep looking at this and I can't find any place for my eye to rest. Now take a look at the collection of piece parts I have to work with.
I tried laying them all out on a bed. Yes I know I need a good design wall but what can I say. For now the bed is what I've got.

 Can you say busy? I can't really imagine being able to fall asleep with all that happening on top of me. I've half a mind to take the larger blocks and turn each into the centerpiece of it's own quilt or wall hanging. Some of the smaller blocks could be joined up to make pillows. And I could make a zillion more spools and use them as borders around one of the big blocks. What say you? 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Here I Am!

Well it's been awhile. Two months in fact. I won't bore you with the tiresome details of my enforced break. Suffice to say that I was very busy with un-blogworthy matters, and prevented from doing any projects that require right hand strength and stretch.
The designer that lives in my head has been working overtime though, and I've finally had a bit of time to work on the projects I've been dreaming up. Hopefully I'll be able to share a summer's worth with you over the next few weeks.
First up I saw this fabric in the Hawthorne Threads newsletter a few months back and fell instantly in love. It's called Pretty Petals and is from Sylvia Vassileva's "Silvias Garden" collection from P&B Textiles.
To this focus print I added five prints from the collection
Plus a couple of additional prints that I thought worked
and five coordinating solids
I stared at that stack for a few weeks before I started to get some ideas. I kept thinking about how traditional log cabin blocks start with a red center. In this post I wrote "many histories suggest that the log cabin was an American design inspired by the western movement onto the prairie. The traditionally red center block represented the hearth, and the light values on one side represented the sunny side of the log cabin, while the darker values represented the shady side. "

That image appealed to be, but I wanted a more modern twist.

This is the block I came up with.

And here is the design for the quilt top - - ten of those blocks interspersed with larger and longer blocks to create a bit of a puzzle. When finished it should measure about 46 by 62. Plenty big enough to snuggle under on the couch.

I haven't basted, quilted, or bound this one yet, but I'm happy with the way the quilt top and back came together, and once I had it laid out on paper, it was amazingly quick to assemble. The only tricky part is that the I used the partial seam method throughout. Some quilters may be intimidated by this trick for piecing off-set blocks like these, but it's really pretty straightforward. Laura Nownes has a great tutorial in her free Craftsy Block of the Month class.

I'm still not sure about the backing though. Too bold? Too much flower power? I do think the top calls out for an orderly quilt design - perhaps some simple rows of straight stitching. There aren't many spots where two lines meet, if you know what I mean, so straight rows might fight the design. I'll have to give that more thought. Now if I just had a snappy name for the pattern. Ideas?