New Orleans House Project

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Farewell to Purple

Five Saturdays of scrappy purple blocks come to an end today.  I'm sad to leave my favorite behind, but the anticipation of another lovely color brings a smile to my face.

The combination of overwhelming workload (job-wise) and intense heat (weather-wise) have been lethal for sewing this week!  I did manage to finish up my purple blocks and start marking a quilt top for hand quilting, but that has been the extent of my fabric fondling this week.  Depressing.  Maybe with the July 4th holiday falling in the middle of the week, I can escape to the sewing room all day on Wednesday.  That would be my idea of a great holiday celebration!

Without further ado, I give you purple Granny Squares.  Or perhaps Purple Granny squares?  Either way, these may be my favorite purple blocks!

I also had some green granny squares lying about, waiting to have all the ragged edges sliced off.

I would ultimately like to set all these granny squares in a strippy setting, with a large upholstery style stripe in between the block strips.  I don't know if I'll be able to find an appropriate fabric, so in the meantime, I'll just keep making blocks and playing with layouts.

In the midst of this heat wave, the blogging tales from folks who have headed off to the Vermont Quilt Festival are making me jealous.  I don't want to check the actual temperatures there, lest I trash my mental image of cooler Vermont weather!  I definitely will have to investigate attending the festival next year.  I've never been to any of the major quilt festivals around the country - I think it's time!  

Hope everyone finds a way to stay cool this weekend - here's one of my favorites.  
Feel free to join me!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Purple Houses in the Crescent City

New Orleans and the color purple go together like needle and thread.  We've venerated purple for years as one of the colors of Mardi Gras, along with green and gold.  According to Mardi Gras lore, purple represents Justice.  Be that as it may, purple is near and dear to the hearts of New Orleanians.   So much so it is not unusual to find purple houses in our fair city!

This is a great example of what New Orleanians call "K & B" purple.  A now defunct local drugstore chain used a certain shade of purple to promote their stores.  The signage was purple, the cash registers were purple, their store brands featured purple and their employees wore purple!  We miss them, and proudly wear K & B purple T-shirts in their memory.

So, it didn't take a great leap of faith to follow Sheila's inspiration and make some scrappy purple house blocks.  Sheila pointed me to Bonnie Hunter's pattern and mentioned how easy and fun the blocks were to make.  After one block, I was smitten!

Before long I had 4 purple houses and was envisioning a wall hanging with purple swag borders! 

Although I'm way late on posting this week, do stop by Soscrappy's blog for more purple inspiration.  One week left for all the lovers of scrappy purple!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Personal Quilt Inspiration Index?

A portion of the quilt book collection
Being a quilter for almost 25 years, I've accumulated lots of quilt-related ephemera.  Books, patterns, magazines, pages clipped from magazines - all those creative sparks I feel compelled to save.  I've got sheet protectors, notebooks, files, file cabinets, magazine holders, bookshelves - all dedicated to keeping my quilt inspiration organized.  What I'd really love to have is my own personal quilt inspiration index, complete with illustrations, so I could find everything immediately!

When I discovered Pinterest earlier this year, I thought it was a great way to clip and save lots of digital quilt images and websites, so I could easily refer back to them at a later date.  I spent lots of time surfing Pinterest and the web, adding quilt info to my bulletin boards.  One drawback:  I hated the Pinterest interface for iPad, which meant I wouldn't like using it on my smart phone, either.

What I really wanted was a way to save digital quilt information and be able to access it from any location.
What I found is a great free app called Evernote.  The app is available for most types of computer: PC or Mac, iPad, and smart phone.  It's very easy to use and will sync your information across all your digital devices.  The Evernote smart phone and iPad interface is just as clear and easy to use as the the computer version*.  Once you're up and running with Evernote, you can access your info and/or add to your info from almost anywhere!  (*disclaimer:  I'm a Mac user and I have an Android phone, so I can't speak to the PC or iPhone versions of Evernote.)

Screenshot of Evernote interface
Evernote allows you to create notebooks to help keep things organized.  For example, I have a notebook for quilts I've made.  I use that notebook to store info about finished quilts and quilt tops in various stages of finishing.  I make notes concerning the size of the quilt, the name of the pattern, etc.  If I need to purchase batting and backing for a top, I make notes to remind myself what is needed.

The app is very easy to learn and easy to use.  Create a notebook, create a note, add your info (pictures, web address, even notes you type) and save it.  Notes can be moved from notebook to notebook.  If your smart phone has a camera, you can take a picture through Evernote and save it to Evernote.

So far, I haven't found any digital content I'm not able to save in Evernote.  If I'm saving from the web, I just right click, copy and paste.  If needed, I'll take a screenshot and save it.  Evernote has an app called Web Clipper, which is supposed to facilitate clipping digital info, but I haven't tried it.

Although Evernote is free, there are data storage limits.  I have yet to surpass the monthly limit, but if you have huge storage needs, there's a Premium membership for $5/month or $45/year that allows for greater data storage.

I have no affiliation with Evernote, I'm just a happy user.  Barb, of Fun with Barb, brought up the topic of quilt inspiration organization the other day, which is what inspired me to share my Evernote experiences.

Now, if I just had the time, I'd start scanning all those quilt pictures and patterns I have marked with Post-It notes in my quilt books and magazines.  Into Evernote they'd go, and I'd have the beginnings of my own personal quilt inspiration index!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sixteen Purple Patches

More purple scraps were sliced and stitched up this week.  The purples look a little too pinky here - my fault for not photographing the blocks outside.  I'm still feeling overwhelmed by all my purple fabric:  scraps and yardage!  I've been contemplating an all-purple quilt, but that will have to remain on the back burner until I finish some other projects.

I took advantage of an empty design wall to lay out the 16-patch blocks with the companion hourglass blocks.  The hourglass blocks are not yet stitched, so I can continue to play with different layouts.  I think I will scatter the blocks rather than group them by color, but there's still plenty of time to decide.  With six more colors to add, this quilt top is a long way from completion!

There's more purple scrappiness to be shared over at Soscrappy's blog today - so much fun seeing what everyone is doing for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

(Insert Corny "Twist" Pun Here)

OK, so I finished cutting and re-piecing  my Twister quilt.  As the twisted blocks began to take shape, I kept waiting for the "ah-ha!" moment.  It never really happened.  There's not a lot of challenge in cutting out squares, sewing them together and then cutting out more squares and sewing the new squares together.  I just kept feeling like I was making a cake from a cake mix: it got the job done, but there was little creative satisfaction in it.  Maybe I'm just a piecing snob!

I'm glad I made the quilt, if for no other reason than I enjoyed collecting all the fabrics.  It looks more vibrant in person than in the photograph.  This type of quilt is definitely about fabric choices and placement.  What looks pleasing as a layout of squares on the design wall does not necessarily translate to a pleasing layout of tessellated pinwheels.  And the outer border fabric was kind of an afterthought - I purchased it last and was in a hurry to get started on the quilt, so I didn't shop very thoroughly.  I'm thinking a 2 or 3 inch border of white tone on tone type fabric, followed by an outer border of dark blue or red will help pull everything together.

There are enough fabric scraps to make a Lil Twister quilt.  I think I'll pass.  But then there's Christine Porter's Tessellation Quilts - maybe there's a pattern in there calling my name!

When finished, I think I will gift it to my youngest son.  He left his LSU quilt at home when he went off to his first job.  As a sports reporter, he feels strongly about being impartial, so maybe a red, white and blue quilt will offer the comforts of home without showing partiality!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hand Cranking Through the Strings

Since today's weather was not conducive to outdoor activities (it was raining to hard to even jump in the car and go antiquing!), I decided to pull out one of my long-term quilt projects.  I keep this project at the camp and work on it when there's inclement weather or I need a project to keep my hands busy while watching a movie or sporting event.

Here is my secret for sewing while watching TV - a nice, quiet, hand-cranked sewing machine!  This model happens to be a Singer Model 99.  It uses "modern" round bobbins, takes regular thread (I'm using Masterpiece 100% cotton thread here, but cotton-covered poly thread works fine, too), and sews a beautiful straight stitch.  I have the machine set on the coffee table in the great room at our camp.  It's not a great ergonomic set-up, but it works well when I want to sew and still watch TV with my DH.

The hand crank mechanism attaches to the sewing machine flywheel.  It has a short finger that fits between the spokes of the wheel and drives the wheel as the crank is turned.  You can see the finger at about 3 o'clock in this picture.  It's not a machine for pedal-to-the-metal speed sewing, but it is good for all-round accurate piecing.  And for string piecing!

My rainy day project is based on Bonnie Hunter's Spiderweb quilt.  I have accumulated a huge stash of purple and gold scraps (OK, I have scraps and yardage!) thanks to a couple of Louisiana State University scrap quilts I made.  My goal is to put a dent in the scraps by making spiderweb string blocks.  As you can see, I'm using Bonnie's technique of piecing on old phone book pages.  You'll also notice I traded out the standard Singer sewing foot for a quarter inch piecing foot.  Quarter inch seams are not entirely necessary for string quilts, but I wanted to show that it's possible to find quarter inch feet that will fit these vintage machines.

Since the iron is in the other room and I'm lazy, I just finger-press the strings as I go.  

String block with all the floppy pieces, read for pressing.

Over to the cutting board for trimming.

One of four finished units for the Spiderweb block.

I managed to crank out 8 blocks during the LSU-Stony Brook baseball game.

And here's a batch of 16 blocks to show a complete spiderweb.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Quilting for a Purple Day

Not only is it a purple day for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, it's also a purple - as in stormy! - day outside.  It's been raining hard off and on since before dawn, and the thunder and lightning have my dogs in a tizzy.  A good day to stay home and sew!

Although I haven't blogged about it, I did actually do some sewing this week.  About a year ago, one of my local quilt shops had a fun red, white and blue quilt on display.  I was smitten - I'm a sucker for RWB fabrics - and immediately purchased a ton of fat quarters so I could make my own version of the quilt.  Good marketing by the LQS!  The fat quarters got tucked away as other projects demanded my attention, but Memorial Day jogged my memory and I decided it was time to make the quilt.
Yes, it's the Twister quilt - the large size.  It's amazing how fast those ten inch squares go together, although cutting the squares from FQs gets a little tedious.  I'm almost ready to start cutting the twisted blocks, just have to attach two more borders.  I haven't taken any pictures because I'm just not sure I'm going to love how my fabric choices work out for this quilt.  I've never made one, so I'm not sure how the whole mess will look after cutting and re-piecing.  Watch this space - I'll post the results whether I like the outcome or not!

A large hunk of my purple scraps were up at the camp, so I didn't make a lot of Rainbow Scrap blocks this week.  I did finish some nine-patch blocks, as the fabrics were already cut for leader-ender sewing.  They look kind of puny here as I photo'd them indoors due to the rain.  

We're enjoying One Weekend at a Time, but with all the rain I guess I'll be treadling the day away.  And maybe watching a little LSU baseball - Geaux Tigers!  In between all that, I'll be checking out all the other purple goodies at Soscrappy's blog.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Thrill on Blueberry Hill

The June Rainbow Scrap Challenge color is purple.  My favorite color, by the way!

I started the month by making some Greek Square blocks.  I had a big batch of purple scraps from one project and another, so I was happy to put them to use.  The dark purples are not quite as dark as they appear in the picture, but I didn't want to tweak the color too much and lose all that luscious purple-ness!

Those blocks have been hanging on my design wall a good part of the week, and the more I looked at the blocks, the more they reminded me of blueberry pie!  You know where this is going, right?  I found this pie recipe and it sounds delicious!

Of course, being a New Orleanian, I can't think of blueberries without thinking of Fats Domino singing "Blueberry Hill".  

Have a great weekend sewing and don't forget to check out the other Rainbow Scrap Challengers!