Spinning My Wheels, and Dreaming of Grandeur

UGH.  I feel like Ugh.  Does that happen to you?  I had this great idea about how I was going to start working on multiple quilts simultaneously, switching back and forth between projects according to my mood, whether I felt like doing hand applique, paper piecing, traditional piecing or whatever, and this was going to be a great thing for productivity and for creativity, blah blah blah.  And so, for the first time ever for me, I set aside a quilt that I had not finished and started working on another one... and another one... and another one. 

Guess what?  It's not working out for me!  I feel lost when I walk into the sewing room, and each time I switch projects I lose my groove and have to relearn whichever technique I haven't done in awhile.  
There was the Jingle BOM, with blocks designed by Erin Russek of One Piece at a Time:

Completed Center Medallion for my Jingle BOM UFO
I set that aside when I realized that I wanted to set my center medallion straight rather than on-point as per Erin's original design, and I was unsure how to calculate the additional pieced borders I envisioned going between the center medallion and the on-point border blocks.  I can't believe I haven't touched this since APRIL!  :-(

My Jingle Border Blocks, Languishing Untouched
Then I decided that I should learn needleturn applique, since I had so much fun with starch and press prepared applique for my Jingle blocks, so and I started working on a Frankensteined Whig Rose applique block consisting of several magazine patterns that I cobbled together.  That one stalled out when I realized that I do not yet know a good method for appliqueing the tiny circles that I imagined going around the center of my flower:

Whig Rose Thingy, Stumped by Rosebuds in Center
Here's the issue with that one: I liked the idea of appliqueing the fussy-cut rosebuds from my Vervain drapery fabric around the center of my flower, but the rosebuds are an odd shape, not really round.  So I can't use the Perfect Circles templates to make these.  I don't think I can needle turn them and get the edges of these tiny shapes perfectly smooth -- and what's more, I'm concerned about making sure that no ivory background shows at the edges of the rosebuds against the brown background.  I got this block to this point by mid May or early June, and then set it aside so I could mull over the rosebud dilemma for awhile:
Stalled Franken-Whig Rose Applique Block
"Let's do something EASY next, to rebuild that confidence," thought Moi.  So I made 9 Bear Paw blocks at the end of May and then decided they needed little 4" sawtooth star blocks as sashing posts. 

My Bear Paws
First, I paper pieced a 3" star that was a pain in the tushy and too small anyway.  Then I tried to make some 4" sawtooth stars at the beach and realized I can't sew anything at the beach because I can't SEE at the beach.  Then I sewed two lovely red sawtooth stars once I got back home...  only to have the red hand marbled fabric bleed all over the white background fabric when I tried to steam and press the finished block.  Bummer!
Bloody Sawtooth Star
One would THINK I might have learned my lesson when one of my red batik fabrics bled in my Jingle blocks.  One would THINK I would have tested this fabric for colorfastness before sewing it to white fabric.  Whatever.  The photo above shows what the block looks like now, after I soaked it in warm water with a couple drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid.  I was able to get a lot of the excess dye out, but dye is still bleeding from the seam allowances where the fabric is stacked up and I am not sure how to get all of that out without fraying or distorting the edges of my blocks.  I made two little star blocks out of this fabric and I used up all of the fabric, otherwise I would make new blocks after rinsing all the loose dye out of the uncut yardage.  And of course I chose to make stars out of this fabric first because it was my favorite...  

Meanwhile, in another fit of inspiration, I started making paper pieced pineapple blocks for a King sized quilt.  Two of those are finished.  I will need to make 34 more of these blocks to get the California King size I want for my bedroom:

EQ7 Mock Up of Pineapple Quilt from Scanned Finished Block
So I've been working on all these quilts for months now, and I have nothing finished to show for myself except for the school fundraiser quilt and the kids' projects.

And yet I find myself longing to start on two more quilts, both of them totally unrealistic choices for me given my current skill set, my family responsibilities, and the amount of time I actually am able to spend sewing.  I have officially lost my mind and have set my heart on making not one but TWO unbelievably challenging historical reproduction quilts:

"Love Entwined," updated color palette, by Esther Aliu
The first one is called Love Entwined, and it's Esther Aliu's free BOM based on a 1790 British quilt.  Esther fell in love with this quilt after seeing a black and white photo of it in an old book called Patchwork.  The current owners of the quilt refuse to allow anyone to see it or photograph it, so Esther has devised her patterns from enlargements of the black and white photo in her book.  We don't know for sure what colors were used in the original, but Esther's mockup of bright fabrics against a dark background is captivating and reminds me of Scandinavian rosemaling.  Look at this gorgeous Love Entwined quilt currently in progress, made by a Dutch quilter:

Dutch Quilter's "Love Entwined" in progress, from Juud's blog
Isn't that insane?  I have been downloading and printing off the patterns as each month's installment is released, and they are all neatly stored in a binder.  Me attempting this quilt today would be like a failing Algebra I student deciding to take Advanced Honors Trigonometry.  However, it gives me something to work towards, and although the project is overwhelming when you look at the whole thing, how bad can it be if you just take it one piece at a time?

The other historical reproduction quilt that I am recently obsessed with is the Civil War era quilt with 4 1/2" miniature blocks and a striking, unusual pieced triangle border made by Vermont quilter Jane A. Stickle in 1863.  This is the "Dear Jane" quilt:

Original Sampler Quilt by Jane A. Stickle, 1863, Photo by Ken Burris
This quilt was popularized and made accessible by Brenda Manges Papadakis' 1993 Dear Jane book, including all 256 block patterns that she painstakingly redrafted.  In the years since Papadakis' book came out, thousands of quilters have created faithful reproductions or modern reinterpretations of this quilt, and EQ sells a standalone Dear Jane software program that allows you to print out the block patterns in any size for rotary cutting, hand piecing, foundation piecing, or applique.  I really love the border on this quilt, and how fresh and modern it looks when it's made up in bright contemporary fabrics:

"Dear Jane Revisited" made by Gwen, Quilted by Judi Madsen of Green Fairy Quilting
I think Gwen used all Kaffe Fassett prints for her version of Dear Jane.  She did a phenomenal job, and of course Judi Madsen's long arm quilting is magnificent as usual:
Detail of Madsen's Quilting on Gwen's "Jane Revisited"
Madsen's Quilting Completed, Ready for Gwen to Finish and Bind

Madsen spent 70 hours quilting this masterpiece.  Doesn't this just take your breath away?  Please check out Judi's Green Fairy blog here to read more about this beautiful quilt. 

Ah, but what business do I have contemplating Love Entwined and Dear Jane when I have so many more attainable projects underway, and can't seem to make progress on any of them?!

And so, UGH!  :-)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

AQS Quilt Week With the Kiddos: A Belated Recap

Lars Test Drives a Gammill Long Arm Quilting Machine, as Anders Looks On
I just realized that I never got around to posting about AQS Charlotte Quilt Week!  I schlepped my whole family with me, and as you can see, the boys found plenty to interest them at the show.  After terrifying the Gammill sales reps by reprogramming their $30,000+ computerized long arm quilting machine, my 13-year-old son Lars was redirected to this manual long arm machine, which they graciously allowed him to play with for a LONG time.  Lars thought it was cool, and he did a pretty good job for his first try:
Custom Quilting by Lars

No, Mom did not buy him a long arm machine of his very own.  :-)  I did sign him up for an EQ7 Intermediate to Advanced Pieced Drawing class with Barb Vlack.  Barb's class was fantastic, and she was very kind and welcoming to Lars.  If any of you quilters out there own EQ7 software and you have kids or grandkids who enjoy art and computers, I highly recommend that you get those kids into an EQ software class if you ever have the opportunity to do so. 

Lars had already completed all of the workbook exercises that came with the quilt design software, and he had no problem keeping up with the class.  He created some really nifty quilt designs, several of which I would consider making into a real quilt:
Designed by Lars in EQ7
Designed by Lars in EQ7

Aren't those cool?  That boy needs to learn to sew up his quilt designs (and he WILL learn, but he has to finish his cross stitch project before he starts something new).  My mantra as a mother is "Do as I say, not as I do."  Ahem.

Now, for the eye candy from the show floor:
"Roses for Katrina" by Gail H. Smith, North Barrington, IL

I have a soft spot in my heart for antique red and green applique quilts, and this one by Gail Smith struck a chord with me.  I really like the way the borders were quilted, too:
Detail of "Roses for Katrina" by Gail Smith
"Roses for Katrina" took home a 2nd place ribbon for its meticulous workmanship and truly striking design.  I'm sure those white chains in front of the quilts were there to stop people like me from drooling all over them.

"Adagio" by Dianne S. Hire, Northport, Maine
Next to catch my eye was another applique quilt with extensive but artfully subtle beading and surface embellishment, "Adagio" by Dianne Hire.  This is probably what inspired me to add beading to my monogrammed sewing machine cover.

Detail of "Adagio" by Dianne S. Hill
Detail of "Adagio" by Dianne S. Hill
See what I mean?  The beads and tiny buttons aren't what you notice right off the bat about this quilt, but it draws you in for a closer look and THEN you see the meticulous detail.  Perfection! 

"Fiesta Fireworks" by Julia Graber of Brooksville, Mississippi
I enjoyed seeing Julia Graber's "Fiesta Fireworks" raw edge applique quilt as well. 

"The Acacia: A Tree of Life" by Sue Gilgen of St. George, Utah
Anders and Bernie both really enjoyed "The Acacia: A Tree of Life" by Sue Gilgen. 

Detail of "Acacia" by Sue Gilgen
The detail and energy in that quilt are just incredible.

"Monument Valley at Sunset" by Cathy Geier, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Anders asked me to take this picture of "Monument Valley at Sunset," by Cathy Geier.  He liked how it was done in three separate sections so it looked like you were seeing the sunset through a triple window.

"Pi" by Cheryl Brickey of Greer, SC
Naturally my kids were excited to see Cheryl Brickey's "Pi" quilt, but Anders questioned why the quilter didn't use any circles or curves in a quilt that was supposed to be about pi.  Interesting observation -- perhaps someday he'll make his own Pi quilt with circles in it.

Anders also found the above posted notice hysterically funny.  He liked the part about how our likenesses could only be used throughout the KNOWN Universe, and pointed out that if they find any ADDITIONAL places in the Universe, they will need to get our permission to include our voice and likeness in whatever photos or videos we might have accidentally stepped into. 

"Autumn Journey at White Oak" by Kathryn Zimmerman, Mars Hill, NC
"Autumn Journey at White Oak" by Kathryn Zimmerman was another 2nd place ribbon quilt that I adored.  Look at the gorgeous dimensional ruched applique flowers:

Detail of "Autumn Journey at White Oak" by Kathryn Zimmerman
Finally, after ignoring the Dear Jane craze for SO long, I was smitten against my will by this beauty:

"Jane as a Teenager" by Anya Tyson, Wellsboro, PA
The faithful reproductions of Jane A. Stickle's famous Civil War era quilt never did it for me, but seeing this version of bright, sparkling miniature blocks against a dark background won me over.  Here's the original quilt, made by Jane A. Stickle in 1863.  The blocks are 4 1/2" and there are over 5,000 pieces in this quilt:

Photo by Ken Burris, courtesy Bennington Museum & Vermont Quilt Festival 
I had to order Brenda Manges Papadakis' Dear Jane book immediately when I got home.  I won't be STARTING this immediately, since I'm already in the middle of four other quilts and it might be nice to FINISH a quilt this year.  But I have added a Jane quilt to my Wanna Do List.

Meanwhile, if I keep writing such epic blog posts, I won't get ANY quilting accomplished! 
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