Friday, March 28, 2014

The first blossoms

I looked out the window on this cloudy, grey, drizzling morning and saw that the first blossoms have opened on our Shiro plum tree:

It really is spring!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What have I gotten myself into?

As I mentioned last week, my guild has issued a UFO challenge, and I signed up to complete the following three quilts, in no particular order:

1) my katazome "stone wall" quilt, started at a quilting retreat in back in fall 2012, shown here on my design wall from a slightly cockeyed angle:

2) the "Echino spring" wall quilt that's been boxed away for about a year now:

3) and finally, the flannel quilt that I worked on in early February, until I got sidetracked by little projects for my Etsy shop, followed by yet another cold:

I thought that seemed like a realistic set of goals, until I checked my photos of finished quilts since 2010 and realized that I only make 2-3 quilts a year!  I've already finished a little wall quilt this year, and I'm currently working on yet another wall quilt, but I still imagined finishing three other quilts?  What in the world was I thinking??!!

In addition, once I filled out my list of UFOs for the guild challenge, I immediately thought of all the other quilts I want to finish as well, including several quilts that I haven't even started yet.  Those projects include the following:

1) a second katazome improv quilt pieced in Dec. 2013;

2) a queen-sized batik quilt pieced two years ago (sans border);

3) a Michael Miller challenge quilt--not started, but I will make this quilt someday, even though the deadline is long past, because I have a really great idea for it!

4) a quilt mixing Kaffe Fassett stripes and solid shot cottons: not started, but something else I really want to make, because in my mind's eye it seems really promising;

and 5) an improv-pieced quilt centered on Japanese fabrics purchased in Aug. 2012, during the tri-guild meet-up in Seattle.

In addition, I could have listed a couple of much older projects: an improv-pieced quilt with beautiful autumnal colors that I started hand-quilting in 2003, and a small colorwash quilt that I pieced (again sans border) sometime in the late 1990s.  

This list does not include putting the final touches on last summer's studio makeover, plans for serious explorations of indigo dyeing this summer, and more sewing for my Etsy shop.   

In short, I'll be lucky if I complete just two of the three UFOs on my guild list.  Oh, well.  Anyway, here's a glimpse at what's been in progress this week:

As you can see, I'm still playing with my indigo shibori fabrics.  I want the overall idea for the quilt to be a surprise, so I'm saving the full view of the quilt for the reveal when it's finished.  Fingers crossed for the end result within the next couple of weeks or so.

I'm linking up to WIP Wednesday on Freshly Pieced and at the Needle and Thread Network.  Cheers!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Finished! Shibori study #1

Last week's quilt is done: my first finish for 2014!

I might end up redoing part of the binding on the left-hand side, since some of the hand-stitched ending up peeking through to the front.  I think some of those stitches are visible in this close-up:

Yes, I know those stitches aren't that easy to see, but I'm picky.

Here are a few other close-ups, which show off the hand-quilting:

It was so satisfying to make this quilt--I love its graphic simplicity, and the speed with which it came together.  At the fall workshop, we used a lightweight organic cotton for most of our dyeing, and although I prefer working with heavier, more durable fabric, the lightweight cotton made the hand-quilting a breeze.  I still have a fair amount of leftover shibori, and I've already cut into it for another quilt. 

In other quilting news, my guild is running a UFO challenge this year.  I signed up with intentions to finish three quilts in progress: the Echino wall quilt that I started a year ago, the katazome improv quilt that I worked on at a retreat about a year-and-a-half ago, and the fun flannel quilt that I stalled on recently in favor of the shibori quilt.  But I don't think I'll get to any of these until I do the next shibori quilt.  Once I joined the challenge, I also immediately thought of another three quilts that could use finishing--two of which I haven't even started yet!  But hey, I have until October, right?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

On the design wall: Shibori quilt

Remember the shibori indigo dyeing class that I took in the fall?  I've had more time for sewing lately, but I'm still in that mood of starting new projects rather than finishing the growing pile of partially pieced quilt tops.  Last Friday, those hand-dyed shibori cottons were calling to me, and I decided to make a quick wall quilt, something that I would actually have the wherewithal to finish immediately.  Here are the scenes from the work in progress over the weekend:

On the design wall:

The pieced top:

The remaining fabrics after cutting:

The top was small, so I decided on hand-quilting:

Hand-quilting in progress:

Since taking these photographs, I've finished the hand-quilting and cut off the extra backing fabric and batting around the edges.  All I have to do now is add the binding, and I will have my first finished quilt of 2014!