Monday, June 29, 2009

Scrappy Stars Finished!

Scrappy Stars is done! I really like it, and I can't wait to see it on the wall at the foot of the stair. It measures 23.5" x 29", almost all from stash, except for the binding. Another WIP finished. Yippee!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Traveling Today

I'm off to San Francisco today. I'm going to see Ottmar Liebert, a Spanish guitarist, this evening. Before the concert I'm planning to go to the Ferry Building, where I've never been. If I have time I'll go to Pier 39, as well. Britex Fabric is closed on Sunday. Darn!

This weekend there are a lot of Gay Pride parades that are tying up Market Street, which will make getting around a little tricky once I get off BART. The F line has limited service today but I think I have it figured out. It's just a quarter mile from Embarcadero BART station to the Ferry Building, and I can walk that. I can walk back to BART, and ride to Powell Street station, which is a short walk to Hotel Nikko for the concert. If I add on Pier 39, the F line is available from the Ferry Building.

The concert room is small, just 156 seats. There is no assigned seating, more like first come first served. The tables are set up nightclub style, and I doubt that I'll be able to get a table by myself. Hopefully I'll get to sit next to some nice, interesting people. We'll see.

I expect to get home really late tonight, but I have tomorrow off, so I can sleep in.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Binding Decision

I went to Beverly's to find red fabric for the binding. I'd just about given up when I checked out the fat quarters. I found two reds with gold in them, one having tiny gold squares and the other having gold swirls. I decided to get two fat quarters of the squares. I'll have to piece...oh, well.

After I got home I pinned the gold squares fabric to the edge of the quilt, but it was very bright and drew too much attention away from the quilt center. I tried out the other two reds that I picked up on yesterday's shop hop. One red and black looked like big dahlias or church window rosettes. I liked it, but it was pretty busy. I liked the dark red with black swirls the best, and that's what I'll use. It's interesting without demanding too much attention.

I cut strips, but didn't do anything more tonight. I probably won't do any sewing tomorrow, since I'm leaving for San Francisco. I have Monday off, so I'll tackle the binding then.

Mini Shop Hop

Yesterday my friend Judy P. and I went on a mini quilt shop hop. We drove to Stockton and dropped off Judy's Bernina at Jan's Sewing Center for repair--the main reason for the trip. We had a nice lunch at BJ's Brewery across the street, then back across the street to HomeGoods, a decorating store owned by TJ Maxx.

Our first quilt shop was Quilters Quarters on Pacific, first time visit for Judy. I was looking for binding fabric for Scrappy Stars, but didn't find anything I was thrilled about. Next we drove to Manteca to Ladybug Quilts on Lancaster, another first visit for Judy. I found a couple of possibilities for binding and bought half yard of each. I'm leaning toward one of the fabrics, but I want to check out Beverly's before I make my final decision.

It was getting close to dinner time and Judy needed to get home. We skipped Beverly's, but I know I can go myself later. We had a fun day together.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Scrappy Stars Quilted!

Scrappy Stars is quilted! I used Patsy Thompson's techniques to do the quilting: using 505 spray to hold the quilt sandwich together, and loop-de-loop designs with stars to represent fireworks. I also added some starburst lines around the stars, which made them look like fireworks, while the loop-de-loop stars look like...well, stars! Interesting how the results were the opposite of what I intended. As the late painting teacher Bob Ross would say, they are Happy Accidents.

There were lots of boo-boos along the way, as I expected in this my first real machine quilted piece. But I'm proud of it, and I think it's beautiful. And, I'm sooooo glad I chose the gold. It rocks!

Close-up of the front

Close-up of the back. I chose a medium blue bobbin thread
that would kind of blend on the back and the front.

I am strongly leaning toward red or maroon for the binding. My friend Judy P. and I are going on a mini shop hop on Friday. If I don't find anything appropriate in my stash tomorrow, I'll look for something while we're out.

Scrappy Stars Backing Fabric Found

This is what I'm using for the backing of Scrappy Stars. It came as a surprise to me. I was looking through my stash for navy or black fabric, but the pieces weren't big enough without having to piece together. I looked in another room, where I was sure I could find some navy yardage. That's when I found this beach umbrella fabric, which I bought years ago, and brought out just recently for an undetermined summer piece. There was more than enough for backing.

The front of the quilt is Fourth of July by night, and the back is Fourth of July by day. How much better could it get?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

No Contest

I tried out the blue and gold metallic threads on a scrap piece of background. The blue is on the left half of the sample above. It is subtle, but nearly invisible. That might not be a bad idea for a beginning machine quilter like myself, as it would hide mistakes. But the right half with the gold has so much sparkle and life, that I've got to use it. The sparkle really reminds me of fireworks in the sky.

I know I'll have lots of obvious stumbles and bumbles in the freemotion quilting, but as I told myself at the store when I went back and forth on the gold: Go Big or Go Home.

I won't do any more work tonight, but I'll probably start quilting the real piece tomorrow.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Scrappy Stars Top Finished

The Scrappy Stars top is done. It came out very much the way I pictured it. I don't know yet if I'll use gold or blue metallic thread for the quilting. I will probably practice on some leftover strips to help make that decision. I need to decide on binding, too--navy or black, most likely.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sacramento Adventure

I drove to the Sacramento area yesterday. My main purpose was to see a Yanni concert in the evening. I left in the early afternoon to do a couple of other things in the area before the concert.

First on the agenda was lunch, and I drove 10 miles to have Round Table Pizza buffet lunch. I love Round Table! I left very full, and headed out to the highway for Elk Grove, south of Sacramento. I got to Elk Grove about an hour later, and kept my eyes peeled for Joann's on Bond Rd. A friend told me that this Joann's was really big, so I had to check it out.

I pulled into the shopping center, and spied a Panera restaurant close to Joann's. I love Panera! It's a bakery/soup and sandwich restaurant, with a Starbucks kind of feel. The nearest one to my house is about 20 miles away, but one should be opening in my own town soon--probably very near me, since I live within a half mile of a major shopping area. Normally I can't pass up a Panera, but I was still stuffed from lunch, so I didn't go in.

I went into Joann's, and it reminded me of the one in Stockton, about an hour from where I live. The stores are about the same size, I think. I bought metallic thread in blue and gold, for quilting Scrappy Stars. I don't know which color I'll use yet. I'm a beginning machine quilter, and although the gold would add a lot of sparkle, it would also show every mistake in my quilting. The blue would be a little more subtle and hide more boo-boos. The thread was half off, so I bought both colors. I also bought a freemotion machine quilting book: Mindful Meanderings by Laura Lee Fritz, half off with my coupon.

Next on my itinerary was Country Sewing Center on Elk Grove Florin Rd., just a few minutes away from Joann's. As I pulled into the parking lot, I wondered if this was the same quilt shop I'd visited years ago, but in a different location. I went in and started looking around. It's a nice shop, well worth visiting. I asked the lady if they had always been at this location. She said they'd only been there a few months, but they'd been in a different location for many years. They're the only quilt shop ever in Elk Grove, so this had to be the same quilt shop I visited maybe 10 years ago. If you're in the area, be sure to stop by.

I saw some metallic thread just like the ones I bought at Joann's. I asked the lady if I needed special needles for this metallic thread, and she said I needed metallic needles. I bought a package for a little less than $5--my only purchase there.

My next stop was IKEA in West Sacramento. Getting there was going to be tricky. I'd never been there, and my map was pretty sketchy--just an overall view of several freeways and a few major streets. It was far from turn-by-turn directions. My familiarity with Sacramento is pretty minimal, but I'm adventurous. I headed out to the freeway, took a couple of connections that seemed right. I got myself into the situaiton of having to take the first exit for West Sacramento, not knowing if this would work or not. At the stop light, I turned away from City Hall (which sounded like the old part of town) and drove and drove. I was hoping to see a big IKEA building come into sight. After a few miles I saw a shopping center that looked promising, so I pulled in. No IKEA. The road seemed to dead-end into a ballpark, so I decided to turn around and go back.

Back to the intersection where I started, I made a turn that seemed good. A little way down the road was a nice shopping area, which I noted but kept driving, and driving, and driving. Before long I stopped seeing buildings, and was surrounded by farmland. I said to myself: I the middle of nowhere. I wasn't afraid, though. This was an adventure.

After a few more miles, the road ended with choices of freeway and freeway. Okay, now I was nervous. There were a couple of gas station/convenience stores nearby and I decided it was time to ask for directions. I told the lady at the register that I was trying to find IKEA. She said that was easy. All I had to do was get on the freeway Sacramento Reno East, and take the first exit. Really? I was that close? Amazing!

After missing the turn the first time, I turned around and got on the freeway. Not feeling completely confident, I drove a short distance when I saw IKEA. Yippee! I kept an eye out for possible dinner places while I made my way to IKEA, but nothing sounded very interesting. The IKEA store looked small from the outside, but once I started walking around, it seemed just as big as the Emeryville store I've visited several times. I text messaged my daughter-in-law Laurie to see if she needed me to pick up anything. She asked for a roll of paper for my granddaughter's Reghan's easel. I happened to be picking up the same thing for Reghan's easel at my house. Not a problem. I spent close to an hour wandering around, but didn't buy anything more than the two rolls of paper.

I needed to get to ARCO Arena for the Yanni concert next. Once again, my map wasn't much help. And I wasn't really sure where I was, but I thought I saw a sign on the freeway saying it was the right one for the airport, which wasn't far from ARCO. It was a very short drive when I saw the arena off the side of the road. Man, that was fast!

I had time to get something to eat, so I drove along Del Paso in search of dinner. I saw another Panera. Really, two in one day? It was an option if I didn't find something better. I pulled into a big shopping center and spied Tuk Tuk Restaurant. I didn't know what it was, but it sounded interesting. I decided to try it. It's a nice place, with candles. I felt underdressed, with my jeans and tennis shoes. I had nicer clothes in the car for the concert, but I decided I would be okay.

This was a Thai restaurant, and I like Thai food. I chose Cashew Chicken cooked wok style, which turned out to be very similar to "the usual" that I get at my favorite local Thai restaurant. It was delicious, and I'd definitely come back again. Sorry, Panera, I don't think I'll be stopping in today.
After dinner it was a short drive to ARCO Arena. I changed my pants and shoes in the back of my car. Nobody was around, but I hurried as quickly as possible. I made my way into the Arena and found my seat between two couples. I asked the lady on my right if she'd seen Yanni before. She said her husband was his friend. He's Yanni's friend??? She said no, he's a friend of the violinist. Wow! I said you have to be a really good musician to play with Yanni. The husband (in a thick accent) said his friend played in chair number one. Double Wow! The husband asked me if it would be possible to go down and talk to his friend. Backstage? I said probably. He asked if it would be better before or after the show. As a performing musician myself, and since the show was starting in a few minutes, I suggested after.

The show started, and I experienced this rush of emotion, and I cried a little. It doesn't happen at every concert, but it did this time. The Yanni I'm used to hearing is mostly instrumental, with a touch of vocals. For this concert, he added words to some of his classic numbers as well as some new ones. I'd say two out of three pieces had words. Personally, I prefer no words, but I still enjoyed the concert.

A few songs into the show, the violinist did a solo. The guy and gal next to me cheered. He was great! He was featured in several solos and duets, and each time the guy next to me would stand up and cheer. It was so fun to watch. At one point, Yanni said the violinist was from Armenia. At another point, Yanni mentioned an Armenian instrument, the duduk. The guy and gal next to me applauded. They must be Armenian, too. I still don't know exactly what the connection is, whether they came from the same area or if they met in America.

During the intermission, I talked to the lady on the other side of me. This was her first time to see Yanni. She said she was interested in learning the violin, and that the violinist was very inspiring. I told her about the guy next to me being his friend. She was blown away. She and I had a nice conversation about music, and she offered me some of her popcorn.

The concert was nearly over, and the orchestra was playing encores. The introduction to a piece started, and I said to the lady I love this song! I hope nobody sings! She laughed and said it was her husband's favorite song. (No singing, thank goodness.)

As we were getting up to go, I asked the Armenian lady if they were going to go down and try to talk to the violinist. She said yes. I hope they got to talk to him.

Back out to my car, I had to figure out how to get on the freeway to go home. I saw the shopping center where I had dinner, but I must have missed the turn. I drove and drove until I convinced myself I'd gone too far. I turned around, made my way back, and finally got on the freeway for the drive home. I had a great day.

Video Sample of Samvel Yervinyan, Main Violinist for Yanni:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Flipping, Switching and MacGyvering

It's been a couple of days since I did any quilting. On Wednesday I went shopping after work, and by the time I got home, read my emails and took a shower, I didn't have enough brains to work on the project. The next part of the quilt is mentally intense, and I just didn't have it in me.

Last night I got home late as usual, after orchestra rehearsal. After reading my emails, I laid on the couch "just for a while, then I'll get up and work on the quilt." Next thing I knew I woke up at 2:00 in the morning. I went to bed.

This morning I played with the quilt layout. I flipped around a couple of sections and switched a couple of others. When I was finished it looked like this:

Even after the switching and flipping, there were a couple of areas that seemed dull and needed some black (top row and next to bottom row). One option was to take apart the strips, perhaps remove stripes and insert black pieces. The problem was that the pieces are angled, and I was afraid that inserting a similar angled piece might throw off the straightness of the row. Also, I just didn't want to do all that work.

So I took a MacGyver approach, and sort of appliqued black pieces onto the strip. One edge of the black looks normal, but the other edge is topstitched. Don't tell the quilt police! In the top row, the new piece is a little bigger than the original gray. You can find it just above the second row star. In the next to bottom row, I straddled two pieces; now there are three stripes instead of two. The new piece is just above the bottom row star.

I like the balance of background colors now. I don't think I'll do any more work today. I'm headed out of town to Sacramento to see a Yanni concert. I have a couple of other places on my agenda, as well, including a really big Joann's in Elk Grove that a friend told me about. I'll get home really late tonight, so I probably won't sew until tomorrow.

Joined Libquilters

At the invitation of Clare (Dordogne Quilter), I joined Libquilters, a Yahoo group. The group is made up of quilters who enjoy Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking style, where conventional quiltmaking rules don't apply.

I think I'll enjoy this group, as I like to make up my own rules, methods and designs. I'm a Liberated Quilter in attitude, for sure.

Although I use a lot of traditional looking blocks, I have happily used the Liberated Quiltmaking techniques when the quilts have called for them. My current project, Scrappy Stars, is made in the Liberated Quiltmaking style. It's fun and carefree!

Thanks for the invitation, Clare!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On the Wall...Rough Layout

I finished the striped backgrounds tonight. I cut the sections into strips one-block tall, but for the most part I left the width alone for now. I need to play with the layout before I commit to the final cuts. The photo above is roughly how the wallhanging will look.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Background Almost Done

I've pieced three large background sections. I just need to make two one-block wide areas and I'll be finished making striped background. I'm running out of strips in these colors, however. So I may go ahead and cut horizontally, and then use the leftover tails to fill in the small background pieces, as needed. I'll tackle that tomorrow.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Background Pieced

Last night I sewed together another large section of striped background for Scrappy Stars. I'm more than halfway done with the background. I'll work on it some more tonight. I'm getting excited about seeing the finished top!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Star Blocks Done

I finished sewing together the star blocks. They took a few unexpected turns along the way. I had chosen a deep blue-violet for one of the backgrounds. I liked how it stood out a little from the striped background, since I hadn't used that color for the stripes. I decided to make two of the blocks with the blue-violet.

I needed to choose another background for the other two stars. Navy and black were logical. The black really popped, and the navy seemed a little dull. I started rummaging through my sacks for other possibilities and saw purple. Hmmm. That would be interesting. I don't have any purple in the quilt, but it's a neighbor of blue. I found a couple of other purples and auditioned them. I chose a nice deep purple, which looked good against the striped background, as well as with the yellow and reds. I didn't have enough of the purple in my sacks for two blocks, but I was pretty sure it was the same as in Cathy's Southwest. Sure enough, it was. So I sliced off a 2.5" strip. There's plenty left for the Southwest, and I'm sure it won't hurt.

I sliced and diced the blue-violet and the purple into 2.5" squares, I used those squares as base blocks, as I began to sew scrappy yellow triangles in varying angles, heighths and widths to give the points a wonky look.

With the points all sewn, I laid the stars out on the striped background, surrounding the red centers.

Stars laid out, but not sewn together yet

Before I could assemble the star blocks, I needed to make a decision about the reds. Do I want to use both of them or just one? Earlier I had decided to use the gold-flecked red for the blue-violet, and the hand-dyed red for the purple. I cut one of the gold-flecked scraps into two 2.5" squares and laid them over the hand-dyed centers. I liked the look. Two purple blocks provided enough variety, and I liked the consistency of the gold fleck in all of the blocks.

So it was off to the races. I sewed one blue-violet star and one purple star. They were so cute. I had to cut another gold-fleck scrap to finish the other two stars. I was trimming and cutting, when it happened. I cut the piece an inch short! Grrrrrr! How to fix it...let's see. I could piece it together. Maybe I had another scrap somewhere. I searched for the next few minutes in vain. Okay, I guess I'll just have to piece it and live with the seam in one of the star centers. That wasn't going to help. The scrap had started at just over 5" long. Any seam, no matter how small, was going to leave me short. Double Grrrrrr!

I had to accept defeat on the gold fleck for all of the stars. Next I had to decide whether to use the hand-dyed for both remaining stars or use it for just one oddball. I decided to go with the oddball option, giving it to the purple based on my overall quilt layout. Oh, well...The quilt will still be beautiful.

Star blocks assembled

Friday, June 12, 2009

Throw It Against the Wall and See What Sticks

I'm ready to start making the star blocks. They are made up of red centers, dark background and yellow points. I pulled some scraps from my sacks to audition against the striped background piece.

Reds for the centers

Took away some reds, added yellows and whites for the points

More fabrics added

Took away white. Trying out dark backgrounds

Took away a couple of fabrics. I'm happy with this collection.

I like having one background per block, rather than scrappy. I will probably use scrappy star points, though. We'll see how things go.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Large Background Piece Done

Tonight I sewed another section similar to last night's work, then stitched the two sections together to create a large background area. It's a good sized piece, several 6.5" blocks wide and long. I need more striped sections, but I have to figure out the best approach--wide but not as long, or more individual sized blocks. I need to analyze what I can get out of the piece I've already made, how to fill in the rest of the background for the quilt, and take into consideration the remaining mini-stash of strips. Not a biggie, just need to think it over.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Background Started

I pulled lots of long dark strips from my cool color sacks, royal blue to black, stacked several on top of each other and cut them in two or three slices at an angle so the edges were uneven. I started sewing strips together to get the wonky striped look I want. I finished a section about 15" wide and 20" long. The section is large enough to get several 6.5" squares out of it, but I may hold off on cutting it up for now. My quilt's grid is 4 blocks by 5 blocks, with 4 star blocks sprinkled through the grid. I need a lot of stripes, and I'm considering using wide sections like the one I made tonight to take the place of 2-3 block-wide areas. I can always add on more strips to fill out width, if needed. So for now I'm leaving the big section intact.

Tomorrow I'll tackle another section.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Scrappy Stars

I've started working on Scrappy Stars, a Fourth of July themed wallhanging. My design has wonky striped blocks with a scattering of Liberated Quiltmaking style eight-pointed stars (aka Bonnie Hunter's Maverick Stars). I may substitute a nice yellow for white. We'll see. The plan is to practice my new freemotion quilting skills on this piece. Courage, Debbie, courage!

I'm going to start pulling fabric.

Friday, June 05, 2009


Last weekend I saw Stomp, the show where the musicians make percussion instruments out of ordinary objects, like brooms, matchboxes, garbage cans, etc. Several of my friends have seen Stomp at Disneyland, but I didn't have to go far to see it, since it was touring in my own town.

The show was a Christmas present for my son and daughter-in-law. My brother and sister-in-law joined us, too. Stomp was noisy, but lots of fun. If you get a chance, go see it!

For a taste of the show click here: