Archive for December, 2009

Quilting Project In Progress

I am not an experienced or diligent quilter, rather, I’m a total dilettante with some basic art & design training background.

This fall I decided I wanted to make a fabric art/quilted wall hanging for over my fireplace because I couldn’t find one I wanted. It had to be attractive, but relatively easy. After lots of looking at designs, I chose the below one, from an excellent book, Color: The Quilter’s Guide, by Christine Barnes.

Original Quilt Design

I decided to do it on a much smaller, wall-hanging scale, and had help analyzing the design and selecting the fabrics. Still, I screwed up – but I’m going to share that with y’all, so you can learn from a newbie’s design mistakes.

I liked the asymmetrical setting, the broken wall, on the original design. I liked the way it popped and combined strip quilting with crazy quilting. I didn’t care so much for the plain brown setting fabric, nor for the blue/brown combination. I also like pattern – even subtle pattern that reads as solid from a distance – so I was determined to add my own spin on the design.

We figured we needed a range of dark fabrics for the crazy quilt blocks, light & bright fabrics for the intervening strips, and a near-solid for the backing.

That’s what I did – but my end result was far too *busy* – colorful, heavily patterned, and middle-value. Below are pictures of the finished crazy quilt strips (I cheated and used a technique called “crazy 9-patch”) and the fabric I had selected for the strips & backing. It just plain doesn’t work together.

Crazy 9 Patch Strips
Strip & Backing Fabric

The burgundy/brown/gold scheme of the crazy 9-patch squares looks like a totally different quilt from the green and orange backing fabric.

What I need to do from here, I think, is shop. Isn’t that the answer to everything? Each individual set works well on its own, just not together. The crazy 9-patch strips would work fine with more neutral, earth-toned solid, light-valued strip fabric setting them off. And the green/orange fabrics would be very pretty as setting and strip separators for calmer, sunny, neutral quilt blocks.

What did work well was the amazing antique Singer Featherweight on long-term, permanent loan to me from my wonderful mother. After all these decades – it was probably made before WWII – it still ticks along like clockwork and made stitching up the first section of this project a breeze.

Singer Featherweight

Posted on Thursday, December 17th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: creativity, quilting | 5 Comments »

Christmas Train

A wise twitter friend of mine suggested that this Christmas, we remember and honor the past, and in future Christmases we work on establishing new traditions.

Reflecting on holiday traditions made me think – what are some of my oldest holiday traditions? And I remembered the Christmas tree train. Dad and mom gave me one when I was 5, I think. Mom thinks that it was a Lionel, and from the very poor quality scanned slide image below, it appears to be O gauge (1:48).

1968 Lionel Train

We set that train up under the tree every Christmas we were at home. I have pictures home from college on Christmas break where I can see a hint of train tracks under the tree. I remember being fascinated by the mechanism but hating the assembly; the sharp metal tracks hurt our fingers.

We no longer have it. I’m not sure what happened to it. It probably got yard-saled for $30. The sentimental value would be the greatest part of still having it, but the dollar value of similar sets on eBay seem to be in the $500 range today!

Both boys, especially Zach, assured me they found it interesting for the hobby’s sake and would value such a piece passed down to them. I was unsure whether to try to find a vintage set, or find a new one. Since I’m not particularly mechanically inclined, I went with new. My enterprising brother-in-law Andy took me out looking at new model train sets locally. We went to North End Train Center and Seattle’s Train Center.

So, for my Christmas present to myself this year, I ended up getting a really fun S-gauge (1:64) Gilbert American Flyer set from Seattle’s Train Center – and added on an Alaska tanker car, in honor of our family’s history. The boys set it up under the tree last night and we’ve had fun playing with it; surprisingly, the kitten finds it only marginally fascinating. (This is good!)

Gilbert American Flyer
American Flyer Trainset Under Christmas Tree
American Flyer Engine 21157
American Flyer Alaska Railroad Car 45412

I’m looking forward to using it – more often than Christmas! – for many years to come.

Note: the really excellently composed pictures – the last two – are courtesy of Zach.

Posted on Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: holidays | 2 Comments »

Kitty Toy!

Our kitten is very happy with the new, giant-sized Christmas kitty toy we’ve set up in the living room for him.

Kitten Tree

Kitten Tree

Kitten Tree

Kitten Tree

He’s cutting a fine swath of psycho-kitty destruction. I’m sure life will be even more interesting once we set up our *train*. ;)

Posted on Monday, December 7th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: cats, holidays | 8 Comments »