Eye on the Machine: A UFO Birthday Party

This is the view from my sewing chair today (or it will be as soon as I can get my computer work done!):

Dresden Plate Drama

I’ve decided to try to just keep quilting on this quilt until it’s finally done, and maybe have it done in time for it’s 11th birthday, sometime in January! Yes, it’s a UFO that really is THAT old. I started this quilt in January, 1996, which I think (hope??) makes it the oldest UFO in my collection. It’s a queen size quilt from a pattern in McCalls Quilting magazine called Dresden Plate Drama and it is quite dramatic! I used my favorite fabric ever, a wonderful holiday print with roses in burgundies and pinks, green leaves, tiny purple-ish pine cones and metallic gold highlights. I bought a whopping 18 yards of that print, and used 13 yards for this quilt! I also bought 5 yards of the same print on a black background which is stunning as well.

So, why has this quilt been a UFO for so long? Well, it was a labor of love from the start, because every petal on each Dresden Plate had to be cut by hand with the same motif as all the rest of the petals for that plate to get the kaleidoscopic effect. Think Stack’n’Whack the old-fashioned way. Then of course, the Plates had to be hand appliquéd to the background. Even after I got the whole thing put together some years ago (not sure how many, but most likely pre-millennium) I thought I would hand quilt it, since it is such a fabulous quilt, and I really thought hand quilting was the only way to do it justice. I think I got one block quilted, and then it languished in my studio for another few years because hand quilting isn’t exactly my favorite thing to do.

At some point in the last couple of years, I decided that my machine quilting skills were certainly good enough to quilt this quilt the way it should be quilted, so I ripped out the little bit of hand quilting, and started to machine quilt. Other quilts got in the way of course, so it’s still here. I’ve no idea what I’ll do with it when I get it done, but I really need to get it done! And when it gets done, I’ll need to break out the champagne, and firmly restrain myself from putting crystals on it (though it would be pretty cool)!

The promised pics of the UFO quilt from Quilt Retreat

Okay, here are the pics, finally. It’s almost done, well, it’s done really, except for taking out the last bit of quilting that I didn’t like after I did it. Yes, I really do pick out quilting every once in a while, if I don’t like how it looks! I started this quilt as a project for a book I thought I’d write and then the publisher didn’t want the book, so I still had this quilt as a UFO.

Winter Windmills

One of the things this publisher (AQS if anyone wants to know) always says about my quilts is that they’re too difficult for the majority of their market due to the complexity of the patterns, too many points to match, too many borders and other things like that. I designed this quilt in response to some of that, but then they still said there were too many points to match up, and therefore too difficult. Frankly, careful pressing makes this a not-so-difficult quilt to master, and with only the one border, it’s pretty quick to make.

Winter Windmills detail

I debated with myself while I was quilting this quilt about the fabric for the binding. The original plan was to use the same fabric as I used in the cornerstones of the sashing, but I really thought that was too predictable and boring. When decision time came around, I pulled a couple of other fabrics from my stash, then took a quick tour through my plaids looking for a red/green/black plaid that I’ve used for other bindings and been happy with. On the way, I ran across this lovely yarn-dyed plaid in shades of cocoa, tan, and off-white, with just one thread of just the right shade of burgundy in it. Perfect. I love plaid bindings!

Winter Windmills back

And the back? You may remember that it was a brushed cotton, and it is so, so cozy feeling. All in all, I’m very happy with this quilt, and happy to be back in my traditional box after the Grasping Reality quilt! I’m thinking of publishing the pattern for this quilt with all those tips and tricks for getting the triangle points to match easily. What do you think?

Things that keep me from quilting #9: work and life in general

Well, mostly work really. After spending most of the week programming, I hope to really get back to my UFO quilt tomorrow just in time for the Quilt Guild meeting tonight! I thought I’d get on with it on Monday, but work got in the way. It’s been sitting there calling me all week “quilt me, quilt me, quilt me,” and from just across the room, no less. It does make it a bit difficult to stay on target with other things, when my computer is in the same room as my sewing machine!:) One the one hand, it’s good, because like I did yesterday, I can take ten or fifteen minutes and hop over to the machine and quilt a bit in between other stuff. The other side of it is having it calling to me all the time like a piece of yummy chocolate cake that I get to look at but not eat! Tomorrow I plan to eat it though, and not check my email so that I can have the binding on this quilt and have it ready for show and tell at the Guild meeting. If I’m really good, I’ll even get a picture of it up by Sunday!

Weekend recap, a bit of quilting, a bit of surfing

I managed to get almost finished with my UFO quilt that I took to the retreat last weekend. I just have one block left to quilt, and then the binding to do, so maybe today will be the finish! I recorded the Driven To Quilt Podcast Episode 12, and installed a new image gallery on the Driven To Quilt website to accomodate all the pictures I took at the retreat. Take a peek at the fun while you listen in to the latest Podcast!

Other than that busy-ness, it was actually more than “a bit” of surfing, since I found this great website, and it was just enthralling. Fellow quilter Ami Simms has a wonderful site, which I knew existed but hadn’t ever really perused at length. Shame on me. Saturday evening, I spent a couple of hours there at least, because I just couldn’t close the browser window! First thing is, she’s hilarious! She leads a very colorful life it seems, and her sense of humor is priceless. A few years back she ran a Worst Quilt in the World Contest, and the results are on her site, with judges comments and reviews that had me laughing out loud.

Other “not to miss” sections include the “Life’s Ups and Downs” tale of an elevator incident on the What’s up with Ami? page and a short story of how a guy tries to help with the kitty box issue on the What were they thinking? page. These tales and others had me nearly falling out of my chair laughing so hard.

The Ami’s Adventures page is very interesting as well, with Mrs. Simms goes to Washington which really got me thinking, and wonderful e-mails from her nephew and his new bride who joined the Peace Corps and set off for a 27 month stint in Kazakhstan. It’s a rare glimpse into a completely different world, and I’m honored that they and she would share with everyone.

Obviously I’ve not explored her site completely yet, since there’s just so much there and I did have to get some sleep in. I think I’ll have to make a little “Ami Time” in each day so I can get my daily dose!

Busy, but not quilting

After a busy weekend at the Guild Quilt Retreat, I came home to an even busier week! And NOT the same kind of busy, definitely not quilting busy. Car stuff, dental stuff, kid taxi stuff, and web design work stuff, all designed to keep me from quilting. I did get a lot done on the UFO quilt that I took to the Retreat to work on, and I hope to get a picture taken tomorrow to post. It was great to spend the better part of two whole days just machine quilting and completely inspiring to see what everyone else was working on. Stay tuned!

Quilt Retreat Weekend coming up

At the Black Forest Quilters Guild meeting last Friday, I managed to squeeze in to the annual Fall Quilt Retreat scheduled for this coming weekend. I haven’t been on a quilt retreat with the guild for many years, though I remember the very first retreat well. Nine members, including myself, went to a tiny little farmhouse bed and breakfast, and we were crammed into the breakfast room with all our machines and the irons and whatnot. The electrical maneuverings were rather interesting, but a good time was had by all.

I think this retreat will be somewhat different though, as I understand there will be 30 members from our guild attending, and 30 members from a German guild in the area as well. With any luck the room is a bit bigger! 😉 I’m going to spend as much of today and tomorrow as possible gathering projects and supplies to keep busy for two days (and maybe nights!) of non-stop quilting. Not that finding projects is a problem around here, really! I think I’ll take two quilts that are marked for quilting and basted for machine quilting, so that I don’t have to lug the iron and the rotary cutter and mat and all since I won’t be piecing anything. Maybe I can even get one of those UFO’s nearly done!

We’re supposed to take a quilt for show and tell with the German guild, and I haven’t decided which one to take yet. Suggestions?