Saturday, April 23, 2011

Japanese Fabric

japanese dinos

Hello Friends!

Just a quick little post. I'm busy getting ready for my sister and her family to visit from Tennessee and I can hardly wait. They'll be here for almost a week and we have tons of fun planned.

I signed up for tha Japanese Fabric Swap over at Gen X Quilters so I picked up this cute print at Sarah's Fabrics in Lawrence today. I know, you are thinking great boy fabric, right? Actually, Jenna has been in love with dinosaurs since last summer when we visited two different dinosaur exhibits.

I have a few other little scraps of Japanese fabrics with cute novelty prints and thought it would be fun to have a few more so I'd have enough for a little project. Here's the Flickr group for this swap if you're wondering what some of these Japanese prints look like.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Home on the Free Range Chickens - A Collaborative Quilt

Home on the Free Range Chickens

I have been so fortunate to get to know and quilt with a group of women and one young lady (9 years old). Camille, Sheryl, Darcy, Diane, and Lydia have been meeting to work on various projects over the last few months. This quilt is our second collaborative project.
Home on the Free Range Chickens

 Here's how it came together:

Sheryl suggested we create a chicken quilt inspired by the style and techniques in this book. We each started making chickens on our own and in Darcy's wonderful studio. Thank goodness, Darcy made me a step by step cheat sheet/pattern because I don't think I would've ever been able to figure out how to put one of those chickens together just looking at the directions in the book. After a few chickens, Camille got started on making "parts" (borders, eggs, a star) that could be added somewhere. We brought all of our chickens and parts with extra fabric to a retreat that some of us were able to attend and put the top together there.

Several people asked how it was possible for all of us to work on and come up with this quilt together. I think we might all have a different answer to that question but I can tell a bit from my perspective. We used a design wall at the retreat and put our chickens on it. We had many different sized chicken blocks and played around with different layouts and putting different parts in and around the chickens. Ideas where thrown around. Other retreat friends shared some ideas and opinions.
Home on the Free Range Chickens - Star

At some point more stars and a length of half square triangles were created and moved around to different positions. We would sew some and stare some. We'd take a break from a meal and come back with more ideas and a fresh eye. When someone suggested that we get all the chicken blocks to the same size with a log cabin style border, things seemed to really take off. It took a few minutes to figure out how we wanted the colors and sides of the log cabin to look but then we had a more solid plan.

The chickens came together on the design wall and then it was decided that we needed some sashing to separate them so they didn't get lost in all the craziness. More playing and shuffling and it just came together!
Home on the Free Range Chickens

Sheryl took it home to quilt and of course she is incredibly talented. (You may have seen here quilting here.) She quilted a yellow loopy pattern that hints toward the egg shape. I love this design and want to try it on something.
Home on the Free Range Chickens - Peppered Egg

I added the binding and appliqued the eggs that Camille made onto the top. Darcy is finishing off the hanging sleeve right now and then it will be handed off to Camille for a very cool label that she's designed.

It will be displayed at the Kaw Valley Quilters Guild Annual Show in Lawrence KS, April 30 and May 1.

{Anything I should add ladies?}

This is what I learned:

1. Step out of my comfort zone. When Sheryl suggested making chickens I wasn't so sure about it. That was the last thing from the Collaborative Quilted book I would have tried. After a bit of thinking time, I decided why not. It was something different to piece and it would be fun to try something new.

It was completely different for me to go into making a quilt without some idea of the end result. It was definitely something I wouldn't have tried on my own. It was very eye opening to go through the process and see that it really will come out okay in the end. You just shift things and adjust.

The wild color scheme was way, way out of my comfort zone. I love scrappy quilts with lots of fabrics but usually with a lot of white space in between or with a simple repeated pattern throughout. But once we got started, it really worked well and the more free I felt to throw just about anything in.

When we got the chickens on the design wall with some other pieces, I really like it. By the time I was binding this quilt, I truly loved it.

2. I'm slow. And I'm okay with that. Seriously. I'm slow and methodical. With pretty much everything in life. I spend way too much time deciding, adjusting and lining things up. I do need to probably let go of some of the perfectionist tendencies but I sew because I enjoy it and really don't feel the need to rush through. I spent enough years as a teacher telling my slower readers not to worry and to just enjoy what they were doing that I just believe the same thing about sewing. I think as I gain more experience, I will get faster with a lot of things but I'm pretty sure I'll never be one of those people who can crank through much of anything. My favorite 30 minute meals still take me an hour to cook.
Home on the Free Range Chickens - Binding

3. Sewing with other people is a great thing. It goes without saying that I love the virtual world of blogs and flickr and message boards for learning and inspiration. But sewing with other people is priceless. Not only is the company enjoyable and friendships made but there are so many little things you learn while sewing around other people. For example, I wanted to put together the rectangles in the outer border of this quilt and started cutting out individual blocks of a certain measurement. Luckily Sheryl caught me before I got too far and suggested sewing random strips together and then cutting the group of them down to the size I needed. Hellooooo! Brilliant and so simple! There's been countless other little things I've learned about color selection and techniques just by being around my sewing friends.

Sooooo, long post but inquiring minds wanted to know and it's nice to have this experience recorded to look back on.

Have any of you been involved in a collaborative process? I'm curious to know how you liked it. If you haven't, is it something you'd try?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cozy Mornings

Seeing {Pink} Squares
Just as I'd hoped, Jenna is using her quilt to cozy up in the morning while I make breakfast. She always watches a cartoon and usually has one of her stuffed friends with her.

Even better, we got to cuddle under it together last night while we watched a Friday night movie.

I love seeing it folded up across the chair during the day, and even when it's rumpled up on the sofa or floor by evening. It's used and loved!


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