Thursday, August 30, 2007

Quilts in Da Works

Okay, it has been a while since I updated the blogeroo. There's a reason for this. Let me rephrase; there are many reasons for this. I think it all really boils down to the fact that I haven't made any progress on quilting in the past several weeks. Life, once given the chance, managed to take over my quilting time. After the mad dash to finish the quilt for my parents, I deliberatly took a week off of quilting. Then, having been resurrected from the dead, my personal life took over.

It all began with the last and final Harry Potter book. I went from being Quilt Obsessed to Harry Potter obsessed. I have not only read the last book, prompting the single most emotional reaction to a book I've ever had, but I have read and watched as many interviews with Rowling as I could get my hands on. I've watched all the movies again, as well as the newest one in Imax (with 3D--I would recommend seeing it this way, if you can).

Then, there was a visit from my niece, who just turned eleven. She stayed with me for almost two weeks, so we did a lot of going to the beach, playing games, and toodling around town. At the end of her visit, my brother, his wife, and their son came up for the Air and Water Show in Chicago. The following weekend was a birthday celebration at our place for My Charles's birthday, in which Megan tried her hand at making fried chicken. It was a marginal success. So, as you can see, for about a month there, I was Super Entertainer Gal. This leaves little room for hauling out sewing supplies and getting my quilt on. And, with little progress on quilties, comes little inspiration for updating the blog.

So, now, here we are. There are two major projects in the works at this point, and little progress has been made. They are both of the piecework variety, which means that once they were designed, the creative work was pretty much over. Now just comes the tedious process of cutting, cutting, cutting and piecing the hell out if it all.

This first image is one that I've designed with EQ6. It will be a quilt for the niece that I have on the way at the end of the year. I designed the quilt with the idea strip-piecing fabric to create these blocks, and arranging the blocks in a fashion to create the overall design. But I have to admit that it was My Charles's idea to make the quilt a maze as well. I'm pretty happy with this design. But, now that I've found out that the new baby will be a girl, I've been toying with the idea of making the blue color purple. But, what if, on the off chance, all of that medical technology fails us and the baby comes out a boy?

In the meantime, I'm planning to paint the fabric for this quilt myself. I'm working with the Setacolor paints to do sun prints with buttons, straight pins, and other fun things that I can drum up. I'll try to post those fabrics here as I finish them. I'm thinking that the piecing will be simple, but the fact that I created the fabric from white cotton will be what makes the quilt special and unique. Oh, and the super soft velvety fabric I've chosen for backing!

And here is the second quilt project I'm working on at the moment. Both this quilt and the baby quilt pretty much need to be completed by the end of October. This purple and blue quilt is the biggest albatross of them all. When I origionally designed this quilt, it was a monochromatic quilt with one color, two values. Then it evolved into the purple/blue monster that it is. Each block of this quilt involves about a dozen precision cuts, and six stages of piecing, as well as ironing, squaring, etc.

Now might be a good time to mention that the quilt involves 104 of these blocks. Yeah. There is a zen element to working like this, with precision and repetition. However, after the fabric starts to blur in my vision and my hands are numb with rotary-cutter-induced carpal tunnel (sp?) syndrome, I find myself longing for the art quilts where just about anything goes.

What I am excited about is experimenting with new quilting designs that I've created using the EQ software. For example, the picture you see here of the purple and blue quilt was designed in EQ6. Once I had the fabrics picked out, I was able to scan them into my computer and apply them to the quilt. The program automatically resizes the print according to its relative size on the quilt as a whole. It's a pretty neat feature, as I can see how the quilt is going to look for the most part, before I even begin cutting fabric. And now, through the magic of the Internet, you can see it too.

I'm pretty psyched about using this software more and more, as well as exploring new tools, like fusible batting. Using this kind of batting involves washing the final quilt before giving it away, but how great is it going to be to just iron the layers together and have them stay the entire time I quilt the layers together? I'm hoping that this works well on a smaller quilt, so I can use it on bigger quilts to come. Keeping the layers together without shifting and bunching was one of the things that I struggled most with when quilting the Roots and Wings quilt.

So, these are the designs in the works. Finally, after a trip back home, a few emotional crises, and more than my fair share of visitors, life seems to be returning to normal. This means that the quilting should pick up, too.

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