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Celebrating Imagination and the Wonderful, Wild Ride that is Life

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Fabulous Friday Full of Fun

I had such a FUN day yesterday, Friday Jan 27th!

First (a little less fun but worth noting) I started my first week off of my chemo med! YAY! I will be putting all my mental mojo toward recuperating my white cell counts over the next week, getting some good sleep, and preparing myself to restart chemo next Friday fresh as a daisy and raring to fight! I also had an appointment with my fabulous Oncologist wo was very pleased with how I've been handling this regimen, and gave me the go ahead to keep plugging along :) I've said it before, but in our current political climate (which seems to be anti-smarts and anti-healthcare) thank heaven for wonderful medical care, science, research, clinical trials and pharmaceutical companies. My wonderful life is officially brought to you by big brained people with integrity who devote their life to finding a cure for cancer and I am indebted to them. Period.

Soapbox put away...So I can move on to the truly FUN part of my day. I went to the Fabulous Fantastic Phenomenal McTavish Quilting Studio located right here in little old Duluth, MN and run by the world reknowned, award winning, living life with gusto, uber talented shero Karen McTavish. This was my third time quilting a quilt at the studio. Each and every time I have found Karen and her partner in crime Cheryl to be nothing short of inspirational, supportive, generous, creatively motivating and empowering. They do all they can to help you finish your quilt your way....whether it's something modern that you want to artistically quilt every little square inch of, something you just want to get done so you can move on to the next project, or an heirloom you want to quilt in a traditional way, they completely have your back and it is so special to see in action. Seriously, do not wait...if you want to learn to quilt your own quilts, this is the place to do it. You will never regret it! Check out McTavish quilting studio on the web, or visit in person at 1831 E 8th St in Duluth.

On to MY day....I recently finished the Frances Firefly lap quilt (the finished top was 62 x 72 inches...yes I know, that's a big lap!) This is the first time I ever made a quilt from one designer's pattern that I followed to the T. It is also the first time I even used the designer's fabrics in exactly the way she used them in her quiltWhat I'm saying here is: I did not, per my usual modus operandi put my twist on this quilt at all. Okay, wait, I just lied...I made one small change. In the original quilt teach firefly "bottom" is made with solid white fabric. I substituted the color highlight (which is a bright yellow from Kona cotton) to closer replicate a firefly's glowing tail.

Here's a picture of the completed firefly blocks:

And here's a picture of the completed quilt top:

Just as an FYI, the pattern is called "Frances Firefly" and it is designed by the very talented Elizabeth Hartman. She does all kinds of adorable patterns including her Fancy Forest Quilt, Hazel the Hedgehog (with optional glasses), Bjorn the Bear, and so many more. Her patterns can easily be found at your local quilt store. (My personal fave local shop is Hannah Johnson Fabrics located in Lakeside at 4511 E Superior St in Duluth. Say "hi" to Janet for me if you go!)

So, I love my Frances Firefly  quilt top but since it didn't have a lot of "me" in it, I wasn't completely in love with it. Until, that is, I started quilting. There was a lot of blank space surrounding the offset firefly blocks. That gave me a ton of open space to go wild with some awesome Karen inspired "Mctavishing" style quilting. The grey essex linen (one of my favorites) was a fun textured background to quilt on!

Here is a picture of the free motion wavy line pattern underway:

And here are a couple of pictures of the freemotion background as I got into the firefly bodies. The lines got smaller, and finding a directional path was difficult at times, but always completely FUN!

I had to take this cool picture from underside the longer...look at how the light from above lit up this firefly block like stained glass! Cool, right?

To balance out the curves, I did some freehand straight line quilting in each of the firefly wings and a fun spiral on each of their little bottoms :) I also straight line quilted each firefly body perpendicular to te quilting in the wings. Sorry, no pics of that.

And (cue the horns blowing) here is a picture of the completed quilt showing the movement that I hope replicates the fluttering of their wings!

Just for fun here's a pic of the back of the quilt showing the piecing I did using all Elizabeth Hartman fabric. The colors are so saturated and lovely :)

And here's another closeup of the quilting just makes you want to touch it!

All that's left for me to do is sew a binding onto this quilt. I'm thinking it will be made up of scraps to bring some of that gorgeous color to the edges.

I have to say what an amazing thing it is that with the help of Karen I was totally able to create the image and feel of what I had imagined before I came into the studio. This is what makes a great teacher....direction, but not the kind that overtakes your goal... direction that allows you to express your vision.

In closing I want to suggest that you tretch your wings, friends! Go outside of your comfort zone. Be brave. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. You will make new friends, learn new skills, and you will open up a whole world of creative opportunities that you never knew existed!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Falling Leaves Quilt

I wanted to take a bit and relish the experience of having completed my banner quilt (the one up there in the banner!) and show some details of it from start to finish.

This particular quilt journey started when I found the hand sewn blocks at a garage sale. There was a whole group of them...most of them in 1930's era solids and a few in prints. I bought them for very little more than a few pennies. But like many quilters I honestly can't pass things like this up when I see them in garage sales and the like. Knowing that someone worked their heart out to create something special, something I'm sure they loved, only to have it remain unfinished and eventually sold for pocket lint is just too much for me to bear! I particularly enjoy things that are unique, hand sewn, and/or show a particular spark of something...whether it's excellent craftsmanship, unique design choices, or just Something that catches my eye, I don't know what it is exactly but I know it when I see it! And these blocks definitely had IT!

There were easily enough blocks for a whole quilt. Each block consisted of a very unique leaf which was usually cut from a bright solid or in a few cases an interesting patterned fabric. Each leaf was appliquéd onto a square of muslin. In this case it was very thin fabric...more on that later! Around each appliqué the used the standard blanket stitch. Additionally the same black thread was used to embroider the stem of each leaf as well as the leaf's veins in chain stitch. See? Unique! Original! That fun spark that caught my eye!!!

Here's a photo of what they looked like:

In order to deal with the somewhat fragile nature of the background fabric, I cut squares of muslin and glue basted (just a couple of dots of Roxanne's Glue Baste-It) in the seam allowance.

Then came the fun part...deciding what I was going to do with them! At first I thought I would just sew them together to simulate falling leaves...simple, right? Yeah, well, that's just not me. Instead I bought about a billion trillion fat quarters of mismatched (but matching to my eyes) fun, colorful fabric to use as sashing between the blocks. I also bought some adorable gnome fabric (leaves, right?) to use as cornerstones between the sashing. Plus let's not forget this freaking awesome bird fabric and well, sure, I might as well buy some mushroom fabric (theme, anyone?) so I can fussy cut them for the borders. And just like that what started out as a low cost easy peasy quilt turned into an expensive adventure! Here's a close up of the top as I had it laid out before sewing:

And here's a closeup of the completed top:

Here's a picture of the entire top showing the fussy cut borders (my design wall was too small at this point!):

What can go wrong with mushrooms, gnomes, and birds?

This quilt ended up being the perfect size for our queen bed. Here's a picture of Baloo as a puppy enjoying the completed quilt. Because he is what we affectionately call "a chewer" (understatement) and he is now a full grown puppy, the qult is put away until I can trust him. In the meantime he can destroy a cheap Target quilt!

This is the first of what I know has become a line of "rescue" projects. I LOVE taking these incomplete makes and turning them into something that is totally me. I also hope that the completed piece reflects the feeling of the original maker. Hopefully she/he would be proud of what we accomplished together.

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Evidence of a Life