Lets play catch up…

First I want to say thank you to everyone for the well wishes and kind comments on my last post. I read them all… and will slowly work through responding but know I was really touched by the reaction to my news. It was not an easy post to write but now that it is done I can start with the quilt catch up…

And first up is one of my favorite finishes over the last year or so… an improv cool tree quilt…

I started this top in 2019 when I was teaching Improv quilting at Modern Domestic…. I had a pile of light blue fabrics and wanted to use them…

I have definitely made improv trees before usually with green follage of varying shapes and brown trunks… but with this quilt I limited myself to triangle trees in navy blue with dark grey for the trunks.

I used up a bit of my navy/blue scrap pile but really busted through my light blue/light grey stash and scraps. There is a fun “anything goes” with improv and it all seems to work… as long as you define some rules to begin.

For this quilt my parameters were for the background either light blue or light grey or low volume with blue print. I wanted the background to read overall cold. You can see from the pictures the cream based fabrics have a little warmth to them but they are not over powering.

The trees were navy or a dark blue. The touches of different shades of blue, like the royal blue add interest to the tree tops, so that they are not just a solid navy.

For the back of the quilt I used a piece of Tula Pink wide back that I was gifted by a friend. In the last couple of years I have been piecing a lot of my quilt backs….using up bigger cuts of fabric and scraps of wide back. I am not sure the long armers who help with the charity program as thrilled by my backs, but they make the quilts fun.

I have to finish with the obligatory photo of Nick’s pinkies. Mr Wombat has been such a support the last year…. not just holding up quilts but holding me up through some not so fun times.

So 2020 got real interesting…

So it has been a long long time since I blogged and this time I have really good excuse for the absence… if you follow me on Instagram you know already… but in the last days of 2020 I managed to have a stroke. Needless to say this year has been about giving myself room to adjust and heal.

So this post will not have any pretty quilt pictures but will have the story of my stroke adventure and some helpful tips on strokes.

So here is the story…. on the 29th of December I was sitting at my sewing machine finishing up making some blocks, as you do. I started feeling strange…dizzy and light headed…. then I lost control of the leg that was controlling the sewing machine. I stood up and somehow managed to “walk/stumble” to the living room chair. The dizzy was not a normal dizzy – the world was not rocking but spinning and the right side of my body was not behaving itself at all.

Luckily my husband was working from home so I called out to him…I believe I said “honey I have a small problem”….understatement of the year! As soon as I explained what was happening I think we both knew what was going on… but neither of us verbalised it…. I think we were scared of freaking each other out. We jumped in the car and headed to the emergency room. The rest of that day was a blur. Lots of tests, lots of questions and lots of needles. I was luck enough to be able to tell the doctors exactually when the stroke started (10:18am) and was in the emergency room in plenty of time to get TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator), a miracle clot busting drug.

When I arrived at the hospital I could walk into the ER but within about 20 minutes of arriving I could not move my right side at all. It took the drugs a bit to kick in and when they did I started getting some movement back. A couple of nights in hospital, lots of tests and monitoring and I was released New Years Eve.

I was exceptionally lucky. We realised what was happening and despite Covid fears went straight to the hospital. I knew exactly when the symptoms started and was able to get a wonderful drug that helped so much. In the USA you have a 3 hour window to the get the TPA drug…. in the UK and Australia it is 4 hours. This drug was the difference between me walking out of the hospital with a functioning right side and being permanently paralysed on the right side.

2020 was incredible stressful for many of us, and 2021 has not been a picnic either. Please do not skip you check ups and if you have high blood pressure please monitor it. If think you are having a stroke, you have any weakness on one of side of your body do not “wait for it to go away”. Go to hospital. Even a mini stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack) are a pre-curser to a full blown stroke. Listen to your body. Trust your instincts if you think something is wrong the chances are high that you are right.

So 2021 started for me with a limp. I did lots and lots of PT and I am getting back on my feet. Somethings have changed forever…I am a stroke survivor…my right side is weak and I have reduced sensation on that side… my brain gets easily overloaded – bright lights, lots of noise, lots of people all throw me. But I am alive… and there is a few more benefits. The lack of sensation on my right side has meant that I can bind quilt after quilt without any pain in my fingers or hand and without a thimble. This year I have bound over 30 quilts, sometimes finishing two or three a week. I have also started using all the good fabric I have been hoarding for years…. which means I have lots of pretty quilts to share in the coming weeks/months. Also this year I said “yes” to a lot of things I would not normally do which included having my photo taken by a fabulous neighbor.

So this is me now…. older, greyer and wiser… but still me.

Next post I will start sharing some old finishes from the last 12 months or so. I have so much to share so stay tuned….

The splodge block…

November is once again my turn to set a block for Do Good Stitches Hope circle. As always I procrastinated and pontificated and finally landed on this block….

I decided to call it the Splodge block. It is an improv log cabin…with most of the precision coming from choosing your fabrics carefully and not from cutting. Here are the steps to making this block…

STEP ONE:

Pull out all your blue, grey and white scraps.

STEP TWO:

Sort your colored scraps. This is a really important step in all scrap quilts and I am going to give you some guidelines for these blocks. This quilt is based on a cool palette and to make the block work you need to weed out some of your scrap because they will muddy the block.

BLUES: For the blues you are going to need dark, medium and light scraps… but in fabrics that are blenders, tone on tones or solids. Any fabric that has colors other than blue needs to go. That means…

You can see from my test block that I still used novelty prints, it is just they were cool prints with no extraneous colors.

GREYS: For your grey you are going to use the same principle as blue – tone on tone or blenders and no extra colors. But with grey there is one extra step.

Did you know that not all grey are the same and that grey fabrics have an undertone to them? This is a color cast that makes grey take on the hue of another color.

Grey can have a blue, green, orange or purple undertone. For this project we want to have cool greys in our block… we want to avoid using the warmer grey because it will muddy the block. A piece or two of the warm grey will not hurt but we want to mainly use the cool grey – the ones with a green, blue or purple undertone.

WHITE: The final pile of scraps to sort is your whites. We are looking for bright whites – solid or prints. In my blocks I have used a few white fabrics that have a bright white background with a cream print on them which have worked well… but we want to avoid cream fabrics if we can. Cream is a warm version of white and can again add warmth to a block if too much of it is used. A random piece is okay though.

You should end up with a curated pile of scraps that you can work with to make these blocks.

STEP THREE:

Start making your improv log cabins. The center of your log cabin is going to be your darkest navy blue fabric.

You can tell from this photo that I do not pretrim anything…. if I need to cut a piece of fabric smaller I use my scissors.

STEP FOUR:

Keep building outward using lighter blues and greys as you move out from the center. Once the log cabin has started I do press as I add new pieces and I do trim the block….

…and when I say trim I mean I use a rotary blade and ruler to get a straight edge but I do not square anything up or check that anything is even. I just want a straight edge to sew my next strip too.

As you progress, I encourage you to make “logs” for your log cabin by sewing smaller pieces of fabric together to make your own strips.

These custom made strips are a great way to break up the traditional log cabin structure and give the block a more improv feel. They are also how the block becomes a splodge of color and not just a square of color.

STEP FIVE:

Keep building your log cabin out until you have a piece that is just larger than 12 1/2 inches square. You want to make sure the your last logs are white and/or light grey…you need a white frame around your splodge.

Once you have a large enough improv log cabin give it a final press and if you have starch (eg. Best Press) use it liberally at this stage to get your block to lay as flat as you can.

STEP SIX:

Using your 12 1/2 inch ruler trim your block to it’s finished size.

Note your splodge does not need to big. In my first block the blue splodge took up most of the block…while in this block there is a smaller lot of blue. You can make your splodge as big as you want….have fun….let go….play.

FINALLY:

When I go to put this quilt together I decided I wanted to use filler blocks to give the splodges room to breath. These filler blocks are being made using just light grey and white fabric with the occasional blue or darker grey spot.

They are 12 1/2 inch by 6 1/2 inches unfinished and will allow me to layout the finished quilt in a irregular pattern…. the splodges will not all be neatly lined up but rather scattered around the quilt.

So there you have it… the splodge block. I am looking forward to seeing how my fellow DGS peeps interpret the splodge…and really looking forward to putting this quilt together.

More improv…

So this week’s quilt uses a technique similar to last weeks but gets a very different looking quilt… which I love.

Like last week this quilt uses a foundation, this time a navy blue 5 inch square, and uses scrap strips…. but this time I used just warm solids and a band of white.

Also this block’s component adds fabric to two opposite sides of the foundation…last weeks only added fabric to one side of the foundation. The result is a tighter collection of diamonds on the quilt and the navy foundation feels more like sashing.

As you can tell I used a variety of different shades of blue for the foundations…mainly because I was using up scraps… but I love how the variety gives the quilt some depth and interest.

The backing of this quilt was one of my favorite sheet – a London themed Whim sheet. I have been using sheets for a few years to back quilts and love Martha Stewarts “Whim” line that Macy’s stocks. I actually bought two of the London sets and are hoarding the last of it for a special quilt that I have planned.

This quilt has also already headed out to Dornbecher PICU… I will eventually catch up and be showing quilts before they head out into the world, I promise!

The pinkies will, of course, have the final word…..

Quilt Details:

Blocks: Improv diamond using 5 inch foundation

Fabric: Variety of Kona solid scraps

Size: 54 x 63 inches

Another old quilt share….

As I have been going through all my old photos it has been interesting to see what I remembered to share and what I completely forgot about…. this weeks quilt is one I love and it was really fun to make, so I am not sure why I did not share it sooner….

The block is a really simple improv block, using a 5 inch white square as a starting foundation and then different strips of different solid strips of fabric to one corner of the foundation square…. four of these foundation blocks are then sewn together to make a 9 1/2 inch (unfinished) block.

This quilt was made as part of the PMQG Charity Sew Days we used to hold at Modern Domestic… so the blocks for this quilt were made an army of different people which adds to the improv fun….and of course it has already winged its way to someone through Dornbechers’ Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

It was a great way to use up the tons of solid scraps I had gathered over the years… but as usual I swear we ended up with more fabric at the end of the day than what we started with…

When I was pulling the scraps to be used in this project I made sure that I had scraps of every colors and that I had a good variety of lights and darks. The contrast that the different values of the fabric have give this quilt its sparkle I think.

For the back of the quilt I used the last little piece of a treasured IKEA fabric I had been hoarding for years… I regret not buying yards and yards of that house fabric when I had a chance.

And of course it would not be a Wombat quilt without the pinkies… this time I opted for a closeup so you can really see Mr Wombat’s pinkie form. He practices that pose regularly… he takes his quilt holding duties very seriously.

QUILT DETAILS:

Block: 10 inch improv kite block

Fabric: Selection of Kona solids

Quilt size: 60 inches x 60 inches