Monday, February 28, 2011

Neutral Logs

One of the early quilt conferences I attended was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Prior to that I think I had attended two other conferences, one in Chicago which was my first one and one in Minneapolis.  In the first two conferences, I attended many lectures and classes given by different national teachers.  In the one in Minneapolis, I had started a jacket which was finished by the time I attended the one in Milwaukee.  I wore this jacket in Milwaukee and was asked if I was the teacher of the class I was attending.  I found it quite funny, but I did and do love that jacket, although I no longer wear it.

The jacket had some log cabin based blocks in it and after taking classes from different teachers on different subjects in the first two conferences, I had decided to concentrate on a single area in Milwaukee.  I decided to take only classes and attend only lectures from Flavin Glover, who teaches various log cabin quilt classes.

A bonus of deciding this was that I became a familiar face to Flavin and had the pleasure of sitting with her during dinner one night and getting to know her a bit more than just in “teacher mode”.  She was as lovely on a personal level as she was and is in the classroom.

One of the stories she told in class was about a jacket she had made for the governor or Alabama’s wife for the Inauguration of her husband into office. I don’t recall if it was for the actual Inauguration or if it was for the ball, but the picture of the jacket was lovely.  It was just black fabrics and very textural.  I decided right then and there that I wanted to do something that was all one color, but many different textures of plain fabrics.

This purse is the result.  I still really like this purse although I don’t carry it any more.  Hmmm, maybe it’s time to make another one, maybe larger this time.  This little clutch purse doesn’t carry as much as I need to carry and it doesn’t have a handle to put over my shoulder.  Yep, it’s time to do another tone on tone purse.

Want to join me?  Come on, it will be fun, I promise!

                                Here's a closeup of the various fabrics giving the purse it's texture.

Hope you've enjoyed the logs this month.  I do have a couple more tops and a pineapple top that I'll try to get some photos of soon and post those too.

Until next time,

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dad's Logs

When my mother passed away, Dad asked me to put all of the quilts away that she had made. He wanted to save them for “us kids” whenever he was gone, too.  Even though I did it, it made me sad to see my dad not sleeping with quilts.  As long as I could remember there were quilts on our beds so the lack of quilts on his bed just didn’t seem right. 

When Dad’s 90th birthday was approaching, I decided he needed to have a quilt of his own.  His favorite color was red and as he had been a farmer most of his life, I decided that a log cabin quilt in a straight furrow setting would be appropriate Though Mom used red in quilts, it was usually with other colors, so I decided to do a very graphic just reds and white/off white quilt.  There are many red fabrics and many different white and off white prints and solids to give a little more visual texture to the quilt.  The blocks are 10" and there are 9 blocks across and 10 rows of blocks making a 90 block quilt in honor of my dad's 90 years.  He passed away at age 93.  I'm so glad I did this quilt for him so he could enjoy sleeping under it for those 3 years.  The teddy bear on the table was made for me by my dear friend Diane when my mother passed away which was 10 years before dad.  I cherish that bear!

Since this was made as a bed quilt, I decided it would be appropriate for the picture you see to be of his quilt on a bed.

Here is a close up of the quilting in the light logs. 

The red logs were quilted in the ditch to offset the curvy, feathery design quilted in the light logs..  I don't know why I took this picture on the edge of the bed.  The block really isn't curved, it's the edge of the mattress!

As you can see, this was a quilt that was used up until my dad died.  It is on the bed pictured 11 months of the year.  In December a Christmas quilt is on that bed and the log cabin quilt is draped on the back of our family room sofa or on a chair in the family room. 

Since I can't count, I had extra blocks that with just a few more made a twin sized quilt top.  On that top I put a piano key border in just the white/off white fabrics and machine appliqued farm animals around the border.  So far it is still a top.  I should quilt it.  I should quilt all of the quilt tops sitting in the quilt top basket.  This weekend I started putting another quilt on the design board and cut parts for another since I was cutting.  Oh, yes, I really should stop making tops and quilt the ones I already have and I will after I get these two tops finished.

Do any of you make tops and let them sit for maybe even years unquilted?  Do I hear a "guilty".  Thought so! 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Humble pie, I mean Humble Logs

When I decided to have my own blog, I was sure I would be able to post 3 times a week at least.  That hasn't happened.  So, I'm eating humble pie.  I will try to do better.  Working as many hours as I do does tend to get in the way.

I started this month with pictures of the log cabin quilt I made for my mother-in-law for Christmas in 2006.  It was the last completed log cabin I have done, though I have a couple of tops that have been worked on since that time.  My first log cabin was a far cry from the last.  It was made in 1976 which you will be able to tell from the colors and prints.  It was made while taking a class through the YWCA in Dubuque, IA.  I had messed around with patchwork a few times, but had never really made a real quilt.  My mom was the quilter, I knitted.  But when my friend Gloria Yates suggested we might have fun taking this class I readily said, "Yes, let's. do that."

The class was held in the teachers home which was a charming old house with quilts gracing the walls covering up extra doors and flaws, she confessed to us.  I was in my element as I love antiques and so did the teacher.  We were taught how to make templates and how to cut the fabric approximately 1/4 inch outside the lines we drew.  Our templates were cardboard -- no template plastic available in Dubuque in 1976.  No quilt shop either. No rotary cutters and mats, just #2 sharpened pencils and cardboard.

In the house where we lived, the builder had put veined mirrors behind brown cork board in the family room "wet bar".  I really disliked the mirrors.  I decided when we learned how to make a log cabin block that I would make a quilt the right size to cover up the mirrors.  The walls in the room were still orange at that time. This was not my choice, this was what the builder had painted in the room and I had other rooms more important to me to change first.  So, with the orange walls and the brown cork, the color choice for the quilt was pretty much decided.  Besides I had scraps of fabric in those colors.  Okay, so some of the fabric was kettle cloth and pique, but it was cotton, so into the quilt it went.

Humble Logs

In the class, there was no instruction on how to quilt and bind a quilt.  My stitches are toenail catchers in this quilt as can be seen in the detail photo that will follow.  You will also be able to see the fabrics that really should not have been included in this traditional log cabin.  I had not learned how to miter corners and make neat bindings.  I had taken no classes with teachers who stressed accuracy.  In fact, the teacher who taught the class I took in 1976 had a saying or two.  One was, "If it doesn't fit, fudge."  And another was, "It will quilt out."  Later when more books and classes were available to me, I learned there were better ways to do thing and that accuracy does count in quilting. 

Still, the quilt is sort of charming in a Gee's Bend way.  It is rather graphic and the contrast is good.  I hadn't even realized that 4 of the log cabins I made were in the straight furrow set until I got this quilt out to photograph it.  Guess I like that setting.

Here is the detail shot of this quilt where the BIG stitches are shown.  I've learned to make much smaller and much more even stitches since that time.  And, I'd NEVER use templates for a log cabin ever again.  Thank goodness for the rotary cutter and mat.  Can I hear an Amen?

                                                                Humble Logs Detail

A few years after making this quilt, I was able to take a class with Flavin Glover. She was and is a talented quilter living in Auburn, Alabama.  When we lived in Montgomery, AL, I visited with her a few times. She is a very gracious Southerner.

I have other log cabin projects to share with you in the future.  Abraham Lincoln's birthday is Saturday, so think about him reading by candle light in a humble log cabin.

Until next time,

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lincoln Logs/Log Cabin Quilts

February is the birth month of two presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  I'm sure you knew that since we celebrate Presidents Day in February.  Though Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, he spent much of his life in Illinois.  In fact one of my favorite childhood experiences was going to New Salem to see the log cabin village where he spent time reading by candlelight -- at least that's what the guides used to say to the school groups who took field trips there.

I also enjoyed seeing his home in Springfield, IL, but that was from his later life and was a much ore formal home.  I think I preferred the log cabins.  There are also stories about his first law practice in Lincoln, IL.  It's been a long time since I've seen it, but in my memory his first law office was also in a log cabin.  If that isn't right, please don't tell me.  I like my memory of a log cabin with a historical marker saying it was Lincoln's first law office.  Memories from childhood are tricky -- sometimes a lot of it is imagination and I had a GREAT imagination as a child.  Hopefully, I still do, it's more fun that reality sometimes.

I've made several log cabin quilts.  This month, I plan to show some of them to you.  Two of them are still in the quilt top stage, but that's okay.  They WILL be quilts eventually.

For Christmas 2006 I made a blue and yellow log cabin quilt for Gary's mother who passed away this past December.  That is why the quilt is back in my possession.  I made the quilt as a lap quilt as her legs and feet were always cold.  She told me she slept under it.  It's a small quilt (49" x 49"), but she was a tiny woman having shrunk from her original five foot four inches to probably less than five feet.  Still, I wish I'd made the quilt bigger so it would have covered her better, but then, it was made to be a lap quilt not a bed quilt.

It's bright and cheery.  I like it a lot.  I'm very glad that she enjoyed it.  Here is a picture of the quilt I now call Lincoln Logs since she lived in Lincoln, IL while growing up and she had moved back to Lincoln a few years after Gary's Dad passed away and she spent that last years of her life in Lincoln.

Lincoln Logs is set in what is called a straight furrow setting for log cabin quilts.  As Gary's parents farmed for many years, it seemed to be a fitting set for the blocks.  I have done 3 quilts in this setting.  One was for my dad on his 90th birthday and the other was made from the "overs" blocks that I made while making Dad's quilt.  I'll show those in a later post.

Here is a closeup of the feather quilting that wanders through the yellow part of the blocks.  Have I mentioned that quilting feathers on the machine is one of my favorites?  No?  Well, I do and this probably won't be the last time you hear me say that.

I have a lot of logs already cut for another log cabin quilt.  They were left overs from a scrap log cabin that, unfortunately, the pictures I took are among the lost photos.  It was given to a missionary who stayed a couple of nights with us.  She mentioned that she used to have a log cabin quilt that she loved, but that she had loaned it to another missionary family who apparently thought she had given it to them as they took it with them when they went to another mission field.  She didn't have the "heart" to ask for it back.  The story tugged at my heartstrings so my next quilt was a scrap log cabin to replace the one she "lost".

Tell me about your log cabin quilts or share stories about log cabin quilts you've seen and loved.  I'd love to hear about them.  It's a great way to use up small pieces of left over fabric.  All the log cabin quilts I've made except the very first one were made from 1-1/2" strips.  I have two drawers full of 1-1/2" strips pus a couple of other containers with either strips or logs already cut waiting to be sewn into the next log cabin.

Itchin' to Stitch,