New Orleans House Project

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Stitchin', Reminiscin' and Daydreamin'

I'm enjoying some porch time and hand applique again this Sunday.  This morning's temperature was a lovely 62 ยบ F (16.7 C), definitely porch-sitting weather in this part of the world!

I'm working on hand appliqueing one of the circular "crowns" on my 4 block eagle quilt.  Despite my new-found appreciation for the back-basting applique technique, I used a freezer paper template and starch to prep the crown.  The stitching is going remarkably fast, so I may be finished with this crown before the day is over!

Hand-stitching time is perfect for listening to one's inner thoughts, and I've been indulging in that this morning.  We attended a wedding in Tampa, Florida last weekend, and I have been going through my catalog of memories from the occasion.  It was wonderful to see old friends and reminisce about past adventures.  It was also delightful to see children grown to young adulthood and now with children of their own!

Many of the wedding activities took place in Ybor City, an area of the city once famous for cigar-making.   The area is also home to the Columbia Restaurant, the longest continually operating restaurant in Florida.  What I found inspiring about the restaurant were the fabulous tile images adorning the outside of the building.  I snapped pictures of my favorites, all the while day-dreaming about creating an applique quilt to reflect my Caribbean Soul!

I'm linking up with Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching, so if you're a fan of hand stitching, check out the links for some inspiration.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

RSC 15: Goodbye to August

I'm happy to see the end of August approaching!  The days are getting shorter, the shadows are changing and the outdoor temps are actually even cooling down (a little).  After August ends, we'll be another month closer to the end of hurricane season and American football season is right around the corner. 

I'm also happy the incessant media focus on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina will end soon.  It's great to highlight the positive things that have happened in South Louisiana since the failure of the levees after the hurricane, but the constant bombardment of horrific images is just too painful, even at this distance of time and healing.  I turned to quilting as my therapy for coping after the floods and I'm thankful for the solace it provided.  In fact, I'd say the aftermath of the flooding was a rebirth of quilting focus for me and quilting therapy has become ever-important to me over the past 10 years.

Inspired by all the colorful houses of New Orleans, I made these Happy, Scrappy House blocks as part of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge in 2013.  While driving around town this week, I was struck by inspiration for assembling these blocks into a quilt.  I hope to focus on that this week while the inspiration is hot! 

I also focused on one of this year's ongoing RSC projects:  4" Sawtooth Stars.  I found enough scraps to make gray & black stars to add to the collection.

And in case you missed it, August 26th was National Dog Day - a social media invention if there ever was one!  We appreciate our four-legged kids every day, but they tolerated our cell phone picture snapping on Wednesday and even gave us a few smiles.  The dogs in the front of the photo, Bailey & McKenzie, live with us; Jozy (in the rear) visits with us each August while his human is away for work.  Jozy & McKenzie are from the same litter.  

And now I've wandered on enough, so I'm heading over to the Rainbow Scrap Challenge link-up to see what colorful stuff everyone else has been up to this week.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp: Fabric History Lessons

I've been saving up my Stars in a Time Warp blocks until I had a batch to display.  Each week's fabric history lessons are always interesting and make me want to go hunting for great examples of each type of fabric. The hoard stash of reproduction fabrics continues to grow, as does my appreciation for the history of fabric printing.

Woodblock prints were printed with wooden blocks with the design carved into them.   

Quercitron was the name coined for a color-fast yellow dye.  The yellow color and its frequent companions of brown and green became known as "drab" style.

Early indigo prints were usually large designs and were originally used for bed hangings and other home furnishings.  Since my blocks are only 4", I had to look for smaller scale prints.

Lapis blue fabric prints combined indigo and madder dyes.  In other words, early red, white and blue prints - what's not to love?!

Trailing vines and flowers were known as Floral Trails.  I was pleased to use some very old repro fabrics in my stash for these.

 And my all-time favorite - toile.  Original toile fabrics were printed using large (36"), engraved copper plates.  That's why early toile fabrics were often called copperplate prints.  Now the fabrics are roller printed or screen printed.  

I've got 60 time-warped stars at this point (I skipped a week 'cuz I couldn't find any appropriate pillar prints).  I have lots of ideas for how I will incorporate them into a quilt, but for now I'm just enjoying the history lessons and the block-making process!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching on the Porch

I have been industriously practicing my back-basting applique technique this week.  I have steadily improved my technique, and as the technique improved I found myself enjoying the process more and more.  I've been using upholstery thread for my basting; I don't know if that has helped by making the fabric perforations more visible and amenable to needle-turn applique, but I'm happier with the results.
Here's the completed flower from last Sunday's entry on back-basting.  I was inspired to keep practicing, so I chose another project from the back-basting technique book I've been using. 

This is one panel of three which will be a wall hanging.  I'll be adding a green bird and a purple bird, plus dog-tooth borders.  So far, I'm really enjoying the process!

I had the pleasure of some Slow Sunday Stitching on the porch at our camp today.  A lovely rainstorm popped up and made the outdoor temperature bearable.  I grabbed my portable Ott light to make up for the low light due to the storm.  I love stitching here, as I can watch the birds (we have about 5 feeders in sight of the porch), sip my coffee and just generally enjoy the opportunity to be outdoors! 

Kathy asked about long-term hand-stitching projects this week.  I truly don't mind long-term projects, and I get great satisfaction from finishing something, especially if there has been some challenge in terms of difficulty or new technique.  My only problem is staying focused on a long-term project.  Case in point, a hexie quilt project I inherited from my maternal grandmother.  I always say this is the year I'll finish it, but it always seems to get eclipsed by other, newer projects.  You can read more about it here - a Slow Sunday Stitching entry from almost a year ago! 

I'm linking up with a host of others who enjoy long-term projects over at Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

RSC 15: Indigo Scrap Jar Star

Since this month's color for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is Indigo - I made an Indigo Scrap Jar Star from reproduction fabrics.  The SJS completely changes personality when placed on the diagonal, eh?

I have lots of new reproduction fabric scraps because I've been participating in Barbara Brackman's Stars in a Time Warp BOW.   The fabric history lessons are fascinating and have given me a lot of insight into fabrics both old and new.  

Not to mention the growing stack of stars that will eventually become a quilt!

More scrappy, colorful inspiration can be found at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge link-up at Angela's Soscrappy blog.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Throwback Thursday: School Days

It's Back-to-School time here in the US and I'm feeling nostalgic about my kids' school days.  When we lived in Pensacola, my boys attended an elementary school that had a very open-door policy toward parents.  I logged many hours volunteering in the boys' classrooms and with other activities around the school.  I was lucky enough to spend more time with their teachers than just parent-teacher conferences and Parent's Lunch Day!

I made a number of quilts as teacher gifts, but I only have photographs of two of them, both from the 1995 school year.  Hard to believe that was 20 years ago!

This quilt was for my youngest son's kindergarten teacher.  I made two large "stamp pads" using acrylic paint, wet sponges and disposable plastic plates.  The kids in the class took turns stamping their handprints onto pre-cut squares of white 100% cotton fabric.  We washed their stamping hand off and then had them write their name on their block.  The teacher did a block, too - it's in the center of the quilt.  I found a great novelty print fabric featuring kids (click on the picture for a closer view) for the sashing and and borders.  The quilt is tied with red and blue embroidery thread.  

I made a similar quilt for my oldest son's second grade teacher.  Same pre-cut 100% cotton squares, but this time I had the kids draw a self-portrait using fabric crayons.  I took the squares home and ironed them to set the pictures.  The sashing and borders were made from a neon-print of sea creatures.  This one is tied with black embroidery thread.

When we moved to New Orleans I lost touch with most of the folks I knew from those school days, and I don't know what happened to the quilts.  My kids' new school was not quite so parent-friendly and I never made another teacher quilt.  That's OK, my boys were getting older and probably would have been embarrassed to have their mom making quilts for the teachers or the school!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching: Practicing a New Applique Technique

Since starting work on my Eagle Quilt project, I have developed a desire to try more applique projects.  So far I've only used the freezer paper and starch method for preparing my applique pieces.  I like the technique because it gives me a well-defined shape to applique to the background fabric.  The drawback is that it requires a fair amount of preparation: making freezer paper templates, ironing them to the back side of the applique fabrics, then cutting the shapes and using starch and an iron to press the applique seam allowances into submission.

I had heard about an applique technique known as back-basting, so when my LQS offered a back-basting class I decided to take the plunge.  Class participants were encouraged to get a copy of Back-Basting Applique Step by Step by Barbara J. Eikmeier.  The book has been a good source of techniques and tips, and I've appreciated having an extra teacher to help me along at home.

Back-basting is sometimes called "template free" applique.  The applique shapes are traced onto the wrong side of the background fabric.  The fabric to be appliqued is positioned on the right side of the fabric, covering the shape traced on the back of the fabric.  Using a large needle and a heavier-weight thread, the applique shape is basted to the background fabric.  The large needle (such as an embroidery needle) and heavier-weight thread (such as glazed hand-quilting thread) create perforations in the fabric which then make it easier to do needle-turn applique.

On the right side of the applique piece, the excess fabric is trimmed away from the applique shape.  The basting thread is snipped and pulled out a few stitches at a time as the raw edge is turned under and appliqued in place. 

So far, my applique pieces are a bit wonkier than I like.  I definitely think practice will help improve the accuracy of my stitching. I like the technique because the prep time is shorter than other applique methods.  It doesn't take much time to get everything ready to begin stitching the applique shapes.  

I've been enjoying some Slow Sunday Stitching today as I attempt to improve my back-basting skills.  It's been too hot for much slow stitching - sitting under a quilt while I stitch the binding or do some hand-quilting is not a fun activity even in an air conditioned house!  I'm going to keep practicing my back-basting technique and maybe someday I'll be sharing a finished project.  

Linking up with more Slow Sunday Stitchers and enjoying a piece-ful Sunday evening!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

RSC 15: Playdate with the Stars

I was lucky enough to play around in my sewing room all day today!  I put needle and thread together in several ways, but for now I'm going to share some Rainbow Scrap Challenge goodies that were creative fun.

Sawtooth Stars in indigo were assembled.  It's so hard to photograph these dark fabrics.  Even tweaking them with a photo program doesn't entirely help.  

I also started piecing red, white & blue 16 patch blocks for a Scrap Jar Star quilt.  I stacked RWB squares next to white squares and used the pairs as leader-enders.  I haven't pressed these open, so you're looking at the wrong side of the fabrics.

I'm thinking about using the Ohio Star block as an RSC project next year, so I played with sizes and piecing again this week.  I want to make 9" blocks in an effort to use up bigger scrap pieces.  This is the most basic Ohio Star variation, using 3.5" blocks for the corners and centers.  I used 4.25" blocks to make the Quarter Square Triangles (QST).  The only drawback to this method is cutting the 4.25" blocks from scraps every month. 

I like this Ohio Star variation better than the one with the plain center!

Since I practice Bonnie Hunter's Scrap User's System, I wanted to try making the star using scrappy strips I already had cut.  I went to the stash of 2" strips and pulled a light blue strip and a dark blue strip and used the Companion Angle Ruler to cut QSTs.  Then I went to the stash of 3.5" strips for my center and outer corners.  I was lucky to have the light blue fabric in both strip sizes.  Sewing the Companion Angle QSTs is a little more finicky, because sewing on the bias is required.  I reckon I can handle it!  If not, I'll go back to the other method.  It's always good to have several piecing techniques up your sleeve!

The Rainbow Scrappers have more inspiration on view over at Angela's Soscrappy blog, so take a peek over there for more colorful delights!


Saturday, August 1, 2015

RSC 15: Indigo Stars

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge color for August is indigo.  And if indigo won't serve, we're encouraged to use gray and/or black scraps in our scrappy projects.

I checked my stack of 2015 RSC projects and decided I did not need to add any more blue blocks to the Maverick Stars, Sugar Bowls or 9 Patch Variation blocks.  I probably will add an indigo Scrap Jar Star block - in fact, I may go back and make additional blocks in all of this year's colors just to ensure I have a large enough quilt at the end of the year.

Since I've decided to continue making 4" Sawtooth Star blocks through next year, I figured I would start this month with some indigo star blocks.  I haven't checked the gray and black scrap stash, but there are probably enough scraps there to make a few more star blocks. 

It wasn't difficult to find plenty of dark blue fabrics, although they may not technically be indigo.  I've got all my parts and pieces cut, so I can sew these up when I have a few extra minutes during the week.

I was cycling back through earlier RSC colors and made these two light blue sawtooth stars this past week.

I have already been thinking about RSC projects for next year and decided Ohio Stars would be a good block for scrappy play.  I randomly grabbed some scraps to practice a speed-piecing technique for the Quarter Square Triangles (QST).  This is a 6" block, but I think my choice for next year will be a 9" block.  I'm kinda sick of 6" blocks, as I have made a lot of them lately.  I'm also hoping 9" blocks will make a more noticeable dent in the scraps.  Hahahaha! 

I'm linking up with the other Rainbow Scrappers over at Angela's blog today.  There will be lots more colorful, scrappy quilting to inspire you over there!