Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Salvaging Cruddy Photos

Just a quick tip -- if you're taking pictures of quilts (or other items that should be square/even from top to bottom) without a tripod, there are times when you won't be in quite the right place and the image will be a bit wonky. You can fix keystone-shaped images pretty easily in PSE by using Image > Transform > Perspective. Adjust the corners until the image looks right.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy Golytely... :-(

Well, my artistic peeps, by now those of you "in the know" can guess what is in store for me this afternoon... As my hubby says, I am about to drink "jet fuel" in preparation for a belated birthday present from my gastroenterologist -- a colonoscopy. Yes, the beloved right of passage for 50-year-olds... If you haven't had the "pleasure" yet, be patient, you'll get your turn!

Ages and ages ago, I made an Ocean Waves quilt in shades of green and teal. The goal was to use up my stack of green fabrics! That definitely didn't happen and actually played a role in developing my stash acquisition strategy. :-) A couple of years ago, I decided to revisit that pattern and started making these blocks in blue and green batiks. I was going to use the blocks in the border of an art quilt but they didn't work out and they went into the cupboard. The colors are perfect for the digital collage I posted on the 15th so we'll see if they work this time.

In case you're wondering, this palette is similar to the one we're using for the "Laundry Blues" challenge (and quite a few of the fabrics will appear in that quilt as well), but isn't quite the same. This one goes to a more yellow-green and avoids the purples. It will be interesting seeing the two quilts side by side.

Wish me luck as I head downstairs for my first dose of yuckiness...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

So Many Blogs, So Little Time!

There are so many interesting ideas, techniques and wonderful eye candy out there, how is a girl (or guy) to choose which blogs to visit? or which projects to work on? How to juggle it all???

I attended a webinar on marketing oneself yesterday, and one idea for generating interest was to visit and link to other blogs. I know I could easily get sucked into hours on the computer and then not make any progress on my projects... How to choose? If you've got a good answer, please let me know!

Here's what I'm going to try: visit a blog, find a tidbit of inspiration, and then get to work. Don't know if I can do it without getting sucked in, but here's today's pick -- GrannyGoodStuff. Thea's got a quote from Erma Bombeck that I love:

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me.""

I'm not sure it is possible to use up talent, but what a challenge and privilege to try. In Erma's honor, I whipped up this little digital collage. As usual, Photoshop Elements blending modes transformed some wonderful images into something glorious. I can't wait to print it on fabric...
(technical details follow if you're interested).
  • Background: "A Wash of Blue" artist paper from Somerset Studio magazine (scanned at 300 dpi) -- I love anything with handwriting, as long as it isn't mine!
  • Layer 1: SpotDots brush by Katie Pertiet (selected a deep blue from the design, Soft Light mode, 50% opacity)
  • Layer 2: a stunning photo of the flowers on a black background from "The Agile Rabbit Picture Atlas of Flowers" (Overlay mode, 80% opacity)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Latest and Greatest Scrap Quilt

Darn! Wish I could hold the camera straight! Guess that's what a tripod is for, but I took this late Wednesday night and dragging the tripod out wasn't an option.

Enough whining -- I love this scrappy design! I used a print and a batik in block -- the print is used consistently in the "12" and "6" o'clock positions and the batik in the "3" and "9" spots. That could border on obsessive (if you say "anal" I will come slap you!), but I like to have some consistency in quilts this scrappy.

For a while now I have been cutting leftover fabrics into 5" and 3 1/2" squares, and this design
uses them both. For each block, you will need two each of the 5" and 3.5" squares of your print and batik fabrics. The larger squares make up the main star, and the smaller ones make up the corner units that form the secondary pattern. I cut strips of the background fabric: 5", 3" and 2.5".

I really like making half-square triangles a little over-sized and trimming them to fit -- I think they're more accurate for most people. I place two pieces of fabric right-sides together, mark a diagonal line from corner to corner, sew 1/4" on either side, cut on the drawn line and press toward the dark.
  • Layer a 5" print or batik square with a background square and make two half-square triangles as described above. Trim to 4 1/2" squares -- these are the large points.
  • Trim each remaining 5" square (print/batik) into one 2.5" x 5" rectangle and two 2.5" squares. Sew the rectangles together into a 4 1/2" four-patch (block center). The two squares are used in the corner units.
  • Layer two 3" (or 3.5" squares if you don't want to trim them) print/batik squares with background squares and sew as above. Trim to 2 1/2" squares for the corner units.
  • For each block you will also need four 2 1/2" squares of the background material for the "plain" squares in the corner units.
  • Each corner unit is a four-patch composed of one background square, one print/batik square and two half-square triangles. Pair a print square with two batik half-square triangles with the background square diagonally opposite the HST. Make two units of each combo. Refer to the photo for placement.
  • Have fun!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Two of My Favorite Things

Fabric and my little dogs rate right up there as some of my favorite things. (Wookie says "Mama, can't you see I'm trying to sleep?")

My silly little dogs are a great reminder that it takes time to master a new skill. In my case, that would be dog training and agility. Yesterday in a workshop, Yoda completely blew me off and I had a terrible time getting his attention again. Of course, that happened while the whole group was watching, and no one else had that problem, not even the people with much younger dogs.

I rarely make a quilt that is a disaster anymore, but it is easy to forget that way back when, more than one piece ended up in the garbage... It took a lot of work to get where I am as a quilter, but I want to be that good in agility NOW without it taking years to get there! The hard part is that even if I manage to do everything right (which isn't likely, but still...), I have to count on my little partners as well. 'Tis a humbling experience, to say the least!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Interesting New Ruler

My "Laundry Blues" quilt has oodles of half-square triangles, which I like to make slightly larger and cut to size (like most people, I cut more accurately than I press and sew...). The corners of my favorite "square up" ruler are getting worn so yesterday I went looking for a replacement. I'm normally not a tool junkie (fabric and beads are a different matter!), but I saw this and thought I would give it a try.

The gray strip running down the center is actually a channel cut in the backside of the ruler. It butts against the seam allowance and is supposed to be more accurate than traditional rulers because it doesn't wobble because of the bulk of the seam. I like the idea and use it for the first cut, but the measurement lines aren't quite where I would expect them to be for the second cut. If the lines are a thread past the outer edge of the block, then the final square measures true according to my other rulers. :-)

If you've used this ruler (an Australian import), let me know what you think.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Laundry Blues" Swap

For the holidays, my Sit and Sew group swapped 10" squares of fabric ranging from green to violet. We each end up with 40 different fabrics and the goal is to make a quilt using them in time for our guild show in August. Since some people don't like to mix grayed tones with clearer hues, we stuck to a clear palette. We tried to keep the rules to a minimum: we can use any/all of the 40 (if you hate it, you don't have to use it!) and can add additional colors or fabrics. The quilt has to be at least 36" x 36" so we can enter it in our show, but larger is fine, too. Any style is fine as well.

I love making scrappy quilts, so mine will use LOTS of different fabrics. I picked a traditional design in a repeat block format and have made a couple of blocks already.

As soon as we swapped our fabrics, it became obvious that, as usual, medium-value fabrics comprise the bulk of the fabrics in the stores and in our stashes. It will be interesting to see what everyone adds to the mix to get enough contrast in their designs. My challenges will be to use up some of my older fabrics (I need to make room for the new stuff!) and to avoid getting too "matchy-matchy".

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Getting Ready for Spring

The temperature is still below freezing and we got a dusting of snow last night, but this little bracelet has me in the mood for spring. I haven't made many links like this before (simple loops on each side of the round green beads) and need a bit more practice but I'm feeling more confident making wrapped loops. Isn't it silly -- I stress over each wrap because I'm focused in so tightly, but once it is on my wrist, no one will notice! One good thing about lots of dangles is that a single lumpy wrap is pretty hard to spot. So just jump in and start wrapping... :-)