Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In case you haven't noticed, Men Quilt Too!!

Where have I been??  Where are my manners??

I've entered an online all-male exhibition and competition on Pigtales and Quilts.

Check it out!! (and, vote for me . . .)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mock Celtic Knot Cross . . . (Completed)

It was not a good week:  last Monday evening, I was gonna fuse the pieces of my mock Celtic knot cross to the background.  I unpinned the bottom two pieces and shifted them straight down an inch or so, thinking that I could shift the entire cross by degrees as I fused the pieces.  What could it hurt??

PLENTY!!  (I'm sorry, there are no pictures of the results . . .)

So, Tuesday evening, I went shopping and bought more fabric and fusible web, and started over again.  This time, I pressed vertical and horizontal lines in the background fabric to serve as guides to keep the pieces aligned.  When I was satisfied with the arrangement, I slid a small, portable ironing pad under the background, and ironed all the pieces in place with no shifting of pieces (I at least learned THAT much).

Saturday morning, I was ready to quilt . . .

I originally planned on quilting around the shapes with a narrow zig-zag, but a quick trial showed how difficult (and unwieldy) that would be.  So, I decided to grid-quilt the entire top to at least stitch down the long edges of the pieces in case the fusible web gave way.

I took the quilted (but unbound) piece to church yesterday . . . it was a big hit!!  Some people gave me some great marketing ideas, and others requested a workshop on the no-sew technique (which only served to give me MORE ideas)!!

Last night, I made binding from the last of the fabric; this morning, I attached it.  What do you think of the results?  The quilt measures 44" by 67".

Thank you for reading my blog.  Please take a moment to leave a comment and subscribe to this blog.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mock Celtic Knot Cross . . . (part 4)

Last night (or early this morning), I laid out most of the pieces for the cross.  It turns out that there are FOUR different shapes, not three; I decided they would wait until morning.

I went to bed.

I got up early this morning to lay out my pieces, but first I had to peel off the paper backing.  The paper backing had curled up overnight; I was afraid the fabric wouldn't lay flat, but it did.  I traced and prepped the missing shape (and made a few extra straight pieces while I was at it).

It took about two hours to lay all the pieces in position, then pin them in place.  I pinned them down because I wanted to hang the piece on the wall to take a picture of it; I will remove the pins as I fuse the pieces to the background.

Are you ready for this??

I can say that I get a better feel for this when I'm looking at it head-on than when I'm looking at it lying on my worktable; I can see that there are some pieces that I'll re-position before fusing them down.

Take a moment to "follow the knot" with your finger . . . I had an extra set of pieces in the lower section originally.  When I followed the knot, I came up with two interlocking knots, not one.  When I removed the pieces, I came up with only one knot.  Who would have thought??

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mock Celtic Knot Cross . . . (part 3)

It was a productive evening . . .

I traced the Celtic knot pieces on the Wonder Under . . .

Then, I cut out the pieces and ironed them to the back of the fabric . . .

Then, I cut the pieces out . . .

Tomorrow, I'll pin, then fuse the pieces in place on background fabric . . .

Mock Celtic Knot Cross . . .

Remember this cross??  I reckon there's only three shapes that make up this cross:  the corner shapes, the curved shapes, and the straight shapes (as I've highlighted).  There are twelve corner shapes, twenty-two curved shapes, and 24 straight shapes.

Since I posted the last post, I've sent a jpeg of this cross to Kinko's to enlarge to 36" by 60"; I've gone to Hancock Fabrics to buy Wonder Under and cotton fabrics in white and Kelly green.

After dinner, I'm gonna trace the needed shapes on the Wonder Under before adhering it to the green cotton.

Later, sweet 'taters!!

A mock Celtic knot cross . . .

Today, I'm starting a new project.

I'm making a prayer quilt for a friend who requested a Celtic knot quilt years ago when Celtic knots were not my thing.  They still aren't my thing, but I think I have a "workaround."

Here's a picture of the knot:
Now, looking at this, what do you see??  You see what looks like a continuous braid in the shape of the cross.  What makes it a continuous braid??  Well, the band is woven:  it goes over and under itself until it returns to the beginning.  But, is it REALLY woven??  Well, no . . .

Keep your eyes on this space, there's more to come . . .

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Three Lessons I Learned From This Baby Quilt

This is the quilt I made for Ava, the 1-year-old daughter of a co-worker.  It measures 36" x 48" and is a multi-colored 1-shape tessellation.

I learned several lessons while making it.

1. I used various fabrics from several fabric swaps I participated in.  I thought I wanted a "scrappy" look, but I think too many colors detract from the single shape tessellation.  What do you think??
2. I used multiple fabrics for several of the colors (purple, red, yellow, cream, and green).  Except for the green, the fabrics were close in hue, so there wasn't much contrast.  In the lower left corner is a shape using different greens which didn't work out quite the way I expected.  Elsewhere, I used matching greens with better results.
3. I experimented with a different construction technique for the blocks.  I used a muslin foundation, but I sewed the individual pieces to it from the front, instead of from the back as usually done with paper (or foundation) piecing.  Mind you, there was no design printed on the back of the muslin; this was pretty much sewing the block together using the seam allowances as guide (just with a muslin foundation underneath). I stitched around the block through all layers in the seam allowance before trimming the blocks to size.
    I had perfectly square blocks, but the joins were less-than-perfect along the seam lines; my points did not necessarily match.  I was less-than-thrilled with the results.  I will be returning to my muslin foundations with the block printed on them with my very next project.

I feel that each quilt is a chance to learn and grow from whatever mistakes I've made.  I don't dislike this quilt, but I have learned what I need to do to improve it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Baby Quilt!!

This morning before work, I finished binding this baby quilt.
It measures 48" x 36", and is actually two smaller pieces using the same fabrics, joined into one (look at the color changes down the middle).

I made this quilt for the baby of one of my co-workers; the baby is now 20 months old (ok, so I'm a little behind).  I have two more to make:  one baby is a year old, the second baby is only weeks old (I'm catching up, at least, lol).

I also need to make a prayer quilt for a woman at church, and maybe an additional baby quilt (if the interested party can find additional funds).  It could be a busy time for me, yes??

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Prayer quilts . . .

I'm a member of Christ Church Cathedral (Anglican/Episcopal) . . . I lector and sing in the choir.

I'm also associated with the Prayer Quilt ministry. We make small lap quilts for folks who've been in the hospital, or otherwise suffering in body, mind, or spirit.  The quilts are made prayerfully, and yarns are passed through the quilts for tying.  At a presentation ceremony, the congregation assembles and says a prayer as they tie a knot in the yarns.  Then, the quilt is present to the recipient, along with the wishes and prayers of many.

We've received a quilt request, and I volunteered to make it (since I now have a "stash" to dispose of) . . .

Then, I found out who it's for . . . it's a good friend.  Years ago, this friend talked about a quilt with a Celtic knot cross on it.  I'm gonna design one . . .

Experimenting with a different technique . . .

Many of you know I love foundation piecing, with a twist . . .

Instead of sewing fabric to paper, which gets torn out when the block is completed, I used slightly-starched muslin that I've stamped my design on.  Call me lazy, but what's the point of going to all the trouble of teaing out all that paper??

I love foundation piecing because of the accuracy and consistency of the blocks.  I sometime enlist my dad's help in constructing quilt blocks.  With foundation piecing, it doesn't matter who constructs the blocks; they'll all come out the same.

Of course, I have a fair bit of prep work upfront to make up for the paper tearing at the end:  I must pre-shrink the muslin; cut the muslin into strips; soak the strips in a starch/water solution; press the strips before cutting them into squares; and then print my design with a rubber stamp.  WHEW!!

I found a product that I blogged about previously that let me run foundation sheets through my printer:  June Tailor's "Perfect Piecing."  It is non-woven, and feels like a slightly stiff paper; it can be either left in the project or torn out.  Well, I left it in the project, but it leaves the projected sorta stiff and it has the sound of paper crinkling . . . ERK!!

Back to the muslin . . . If I could just find a method that didn't have so many steps . . .

Years ago, I tried something I mentioned on my "Simply Quilts" appearance.  Instead of pinning fabric to the right side of the muslin foundation and sewing along the printed lines on the back, I tried sewing the fabric from the front.  It should be possible to use the sewing foot as guide.  I decided to give this another try.

Unfortunately, I have half-inch seam allowances built into my templates.  To remedy this, I attached a quilting guide at the half-inch mark, as shown below.

Then, I pinned my fabric to the muslin foundation and sewed it, using the quilting guide as guide for my half-inch seam allowance.
The jury is still out on the results:  the fabric pieces go together well enough, but the trimming of the finished square leaves something to be desired. The squares are exactly seven inches square, and I'm using a half-inch seam allowance to assemble them, but the accuracy is off; my points just don't seem to meet as perfectly as before.

I may go back to rubber-stamping my muslin, and sewing from the back . . .

Baby Quilts all around . . .

My office manager recently had a baby . . . hers is the third baby born to the office, as it were, in the past 18 months!!

Have I made any baby quilts??

No, but that's about to change . . .

How to grow a fabric stash . . .

For years, I prided myself for being a "quilter without a stash."  I just didn't get the concept of collecting fabric that wasn't put to use.  When I had a project in mind, I'd buy fabric for it, and whatever I didn't use was put to use in the NEXT project, or I passed the remaining fabric to my dad, who also quilts.

Well, last year, I joined several fabric swaps sponsored by the Yahoo! group, QuiltGuy.  One theme was Fall, and the other theme was Winter Blues.

Earlier this year, I joined not one but THREE different fabric swaps:  Solids, Neutrals, and Tone-on-Tone.  There were about twenty guys in on each, so that meant I had to buy about five yards of each, with the promise of getting about five yards each, cut into fat quarters.

Here they are . . . what do you think of 'em??
Granted, I did have a little fabric of my own to add to the stack (the rest I'd given to my dad as a Christmas present), so there's maybe twenty yards of fabric here.

Whatever shall I do with it??  It's for darn sure it won't sit around gathering dust!!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Male Quilters than you can shake a stick at . . .

Can you believe it's been eight months since I last posted a link to my list of Male Quilters??

It has . . .

Here's a new link to an old page:  Male Quilters with an online presence.


I can hardly stand it!!

Do you remember me telling you about the Yahoo! QuiltGuy group??  I've participated in several fabric swaps with them in the past.

Well, I've done it again!!

This time, I entered not one, not two, but THREE different fabric swaps!!  One was themed "Solids," one was themed "Tone-on-Tone," and one was themed "Neutrals."  There were about 20 guys in each swap, so I got about 5 yards of fat-quarter fabrics!!

So much for being a "quilter without a stash" because now I have 15 yards of fabric!!  I guess it's a start, eh??  First, I'm gonna sort it, then I'm gonna determine "what's missing."  I'll post pics (I promise).

What am I gonna do with this fabric??  Well, my other blog, Tessellation Nation, turns one year old tomorrow.  I'm gonna post some new patterns there and pick one (or more) to work with.

Monday, February 28, 2011

One blog feeds another . . .

I hadn't notice how little I've posted on this blog until my latest post . . . uh oh.

Will you forgive me??

My last post told about the difficulties I've been having with my other blog, Tessellation Nation.  I think there's an added benefit to fixing the problem.

Tessellation Nation can provide fodder for THIS blog.  It's been awhile since I've started any new quilts, mainly because I hadn't seen any patterns that really grabbed me.  Well, I'm gonna use some of the single-shape tessellations from Tessellation Nation for new projects.

Which means, I'll be posting more on this blog, as I work with color selection, construction, etc.  And, I'll keep you posted every step of the way!!

How a comment question launched a new direction . . .

This blog, Nacho Grandma's Quilts!!, is a "work-in-progress about works-in-progress."  One of these "works-in-progress" is my other blog, Tessellation Nation.

It has been a struggle.  I may have mentioned that since its launch on April 1, 2010, I have changed the theme several times, I have changed the content and its format several times, and January 1, 2011, I completely wiped out the preceding nine months worth of blog posts to start over.

The tagline for the blog is, "Tessellated patterns generated from a single 9-patch unit."  Yeah, none too snappy; I gotta work on that.  The content consists mainly of posts showing the different possible patterns using my design tile.  I've tagged the posts with the catalog number, the symmetry group, and the number of shapes in the tessellation.

Reduction Puzzles
I've been playing with the patterns, turning them into what I call "Reduction Puzzles."  The majority of the patterns produce tessellations with multiple shapes.  I've been combining the shapes to make a 1-shape tessellation (which is what most people think of when you mention tessellations).  It's kinda neat because a single multi-shape tessellation can generate multiple single-shape tessellations.

Anyway, over the weekend, I had a person ask me a question in a comment:  "How do I make the blocks to make a quilt from this one????

Now, I had tried in the past to write posts that showed how to make a quilt and I knew it was more trouble than it was worth.  After making the drawings and writing detailed instructions, I'd be more likely to attempt to market a pattern rather than posting it for free on my blog.

So, I did the next best thing . . .

How to transform a tessellation into a quilt . . .
I wrote a blog post, "How to transform a tessellation into a quilt . . ." to describe the process of tessellation-to-quilt without giving yardage charts, or detailed instructions for cutting, sewing, pressing, quilting, etc.

The post shows a blank pattern; then, the same pattern, colored; then, adds sashing between the 4-patch blocks (to show they're all the same); and finally, adds sashing between the patches in the block (to show they're all colored differently).

The idea is that if a quilter REALLY wants to make a quilt from the tessellation, there's enough information to do so (if they engage their brain a little).

I think it caught on because my view stats skyrocketed!!  (Of course, my view stats tend to be "up-and-down" normally, so I could be wrong, LOL!!)

Variations on top of variations . . .
Most of these tessellations will make multiple single-shape tessellations, so I can show "variations on a theme."

The question is:  "Should I present one variation at a time on a daily basis, or several variations a day several times a week??"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Doing the "Naughty Dance" . . .

Remember this quilt??  I call it "Mardi Gras Men."  Well, this morning, I was informed that it's been accepted into "Naughti Gras 4," an erotic art show at the Koken Art Factory, a local gallery.

How does my quilt fit in with erotic art??

Consider it a homo-erotic piece:  each man has his head between another man's legs, he's leaning on the calf of the man in front of him, and he's touching the leg of the man behind him as if to say, "just wait your turn"!!  Of course, as each man touches three other men, three other men touch him.  It's an orgy!!

I missed the deadline to enter this quilt in last year's show, but sent an email anyway, saying, "Better luck next year, eh??"  Imagine my surprise when I got a reply to the very email a year later with all the entry particulars!!  To think they kept my email for a year just to respond to it!!  I'm glad they did . . .

Thank you for reading my blog . . . please take a moment to leave a comment and follow this blog!!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Oh, by the way, it's my birthday . . .

I was born January 31, 1955 . . . who would have thought I'd come this far??

I was in the office today (not that I got much work done) . . . I spent most of the time thanking all my Facebook friends for their birthday wishes!!

With the bad weather and all, tomorrow may be a "snow day" (Hope Springs Eternal) . . . I'll post pics of my latest projects!!

Thank you for reading my blog . . . please leave a comment and follow this blog!!

How June Tailor made me a better quilter . . .

I think everyone of a certain age knows of the June Taylor dancers . . . they appeared on the Jackie Gleason show (a black-and-white TV show).  In case you don't know (or remember) them, here's a little video:
I can remember watching the kaleidoscopic portion of the dance routine, and thinking, "gee, what great patterns!!"  Of course, nowadays, I'm familiar with mandalas, but I thank June Taylor for introducing me to the concept.

Now, if you've followed me for any length of time, you know that my favorite construction technique is foundation piecing.  I use starch-stiffened muslin for my foundation instead of paper because who has time to rip out all that paper afterwards??  It's quite a process:  wash the muslin in hot water to shrink it; cut the dried muslin in 9-inch strips; soak the strips in a liquid starch/water solution; lay out the strips to dry; iron the strips flat; cut the strips into 9-inch squares; then, stencil or stamp the design on the squares.

Well, that changed.  (You're probably wondering what took so long.)

I tried ironing freezer paper to the muslin, trimming the paper/muslin to 8-inch squares, then feeding them through my inkjet printer.  I was surprised that it actually worked (and took much less effort than my previous method).  The problem cropped up when it came to separating the muslin from the freezer paper; the muslin would distort outta shape (mind you, there was no starch on the muslin).

Back to the drawing board . . .

I recently tried June Tailor's Perfect Piecing.  It's a non-woven, transparent sheet that feeds through my inkjet printer (though sometimes, the sheet just feeds through without getting printed on, or it jams).  It comes in packages of 25 sheets.  I can easily sew my fabric to it; either side, since it's fairly transparent.  Once sewn, it can even be left in as a stabilizer (or, because I'm too lazy to tear it all out).  I like the stuff!!

I'd recommend you go out and buy some (just not here in St. Louis, because I'm buying all I can find)!!

Thank you for reading my blog . . . please leave a comment and follow this blog!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Shaking the Winter Blues" Completed!!

Here's a shot of "Shaking the Winter Blues" and a detail shot of a corner.  The quilt measures 80" x 80".  I finished binding the quilt last night, but waited for daylight before taking any pics.  Originally, I was gonna take the quilt to my office, and photograph it, but it snowed overnight and the Courts closed today (so, I got a "snow day").

"Shaking the Winter Blues" was my last project of 2010 . . . I have several new directions I wanna take in the coming year.

For one, I will start working in miniature (3" blocks, instead of 6").  I can still play with color and pattern, without making a bed-size quilt in the process.  At the quilt show last month, my smaller pieces sold well, and the gallery owner would like to see more of my work to sell on an ongoing basis.  A collector in New York City bought three table runners and is having them installed as a triptych.  I had never considered that (until now).  I am going to create series of small quilts (15" square) related by color or by pattern; there will be four to eight quilts in each series.  One or more of the quilts can be grouped together as a "polyptych."

There will also be a new turn in construction techniques . . . (more to come).

Thank you for reading my blog.  Please take a moment to leave a comment and follow this blog!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

"Shaking the Winter Blues" (in more ways than one) . . .

Yesterday morning, I awoke around 6:00 a.m. (yeah, on a Saturday, when I could just as easily sleep in).  I went to my studio to work on "Shaking the Winter Blues."  I had finished the top Wednesday night, and it was spread out on my worktable.

I prepared the flannel backing, and spent over an hour pressing the seams flat on the top.

I safety-pinned the two layers together, and started marking and quilting . . . I'm about one-quarter done.  I'm listening to an audio book, "Dexter by Design," and I'm halfway done.

In other news, yesterday was "a Christmas day deferred."  Ed and I went shopping for gifts:  I bought him French Rosetta Stone; he bought me Electric Quilt 7 (I've been using EQ4 for years).  The store had to order the Rosetta Stone I wanted (it will be delivered to my office in about a week).

Reading the EQ7 manual was exciting; I could see the possibilities stretching ahead of me.  I didn't attempt to load the EQ7 software until late last night (a mistake) . . . no matter what I tried, it wouldn't load.  And the Electric Quilt Company only answers questions and handles technical problems during business hours, Monday through Friday.  Now, THAT'S a load, LOL!!

Guess I'll go back to quilting . . .

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Nine months worth of audio books . . .

In April, 2010, I joined Audible.com and began listening to audio books.  I found audio books to be very freeing, because I could let the story run as background to whatever else I may be doing, like sewing.  Here in alphabetic order is a list of the books I listened to in 2010:
  1. Abarat, by Clive Barker.
  2. Abarat:  Days of Magic, Nights of War, by Clive Barker.
  3. Crush It!, by Gary Vaynerchuk.
  4. Dean Koontz's Frankenstein:  Dead and Alive, by Dean Koontz.
  5. Destroyer of Worlds, by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner.
  6. Dexter Is Delicious, by Jeff Lindsay.
  7. The Engines of God, by Jack McDevitt.
  8. The Fifth Elephant:  Discworld #24, by Terry Pratchett.
  9. Frankenstein:  Lost Souls, by Dean Koontz.
  10. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson.
  11. The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Stieg Larsson.
  12. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson.
  13. The Goal, by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox.
  14. Going Postal:  Discworld #29, by Terry Pratchett.
  15. Holiday Classics by O. Henry, by O. Henry.
  16. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
  17. The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown.
  18. Making Money:  Discworld #31, by Terry Pratchett.
  19. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt.
  20. The Mote in God's Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.
  21. Night Watch:  Discworld #27, by Terry Pratchett.
  22. No Excuses!, by Brian Tracy.
  23. The Order of Odd-Fish, by James Kennedy.
  24. The Passage, by Justin Cronin.
  25. Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein.
  26. Under the Dome, by Stephen King.
  27. The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi.
Do you recognize any of these titles??  Have you read any of these titles??

Except for Numbers 3 and 22, they are all fiction, science fiction, and fantasy.  I guess you'd consider Numbers 3 and 22 as "self-help" (I've already listened to both of 'em more than once).

Here's a list of what's on tap for 2011 (so far):
  1. The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss.
  2. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas.
  3. Dexter by Design, by Jeff Linsday.
  4. Flashforward, by Robert J. Sawyer.
  5. Footfall, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.
  6. METAtropolis, by Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, and Karl Schroeder.
  7. METAtropilis:  Cascadia, by Jay Lake, Mary Robinette Kowal, Elizabeth Bear, Ken Scholes, Karl Schroeder, and Tobias Buckell.
  8. Pandora's Star, by Peter F. Hamilton.
  9. A Princess of Landover, by Terry Brooks.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a book to listen to . . .

Thank you for reading my blog.  Please take a moment to leave a comment and follow this blog!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Goodbye "Tessellation Nation" . . . Hello "Tessellation Nation"!!


Yeah, yeah, this comes at least two days late to many of you, but it's Monday, I'm back in the office (not that I'm doing any work), and it's the first time I've had a moment to catch my breath, LOL!!

Here's a quick "quilting recap" of the end of 2010 that I wanted to pass along . . .

Early in December, I posted about "Gifted 2010," a show I participated in.  Well, it was quite a success!!  The opening weekend, I sold three-fourths of my inventory!!  A collector in New York called and bought FIVE pieces!! (He's given me ideas for new projects, but we'll come to that later.)

Mere days before Christmas, I helped a friend (and future quilter) bind blue jeans quilts she had made (with help from someone else).

I was invited by my friend Wayne Kollinger to participate in his "Why I Design Quilts" Initiative, where he asked various quilt designers "WHY??"

And, on New Year's Eve, I erased my "Tessellation Nation" blog . . . completely. 

Now, mind you, the blog launched on April Fools Day, 2010.  Over the past nine months I had changed the theme (the "skin," or how it looked) a couple of times;  I had changed the nature of the content (and had often asked my readers what did they wanna see); I bumbled and bungled along and deleted graphics (and the associated blog posts).  It was quite a learning experience.

Anyway, I wanted a "fresh start" as it were for the new year.  So, I uninstalled WordPress and re-installed it (with help from Go Daddy, my host).  I spent most of New Years Eve Day at home, posting to the new blog.  Now, call me anal, but I want the blog to reflect its true age, so the posts were "back dated" as it were.  I'm pleased to report that I posted a month's worth in a weekend, LOL!!

Here's the link to the new blog:  Tessellation Nation.  There's still stuff I wanna do to it (like add a subscription widget, write an "About" page, etc.), but the basics are there.  My big hurdle now is to catch up in less than nine months!!

Thank you for reading my blog.  Please take a moment to leave a comment and follow this blog!!