Friday, April 09, 2010

Hood River Fun Part II

Frankly, I didn't take a lot of pictures on this trip - I still was not totally recovered from my March Malady and I'd taken so many when I went down last year. There was a run into Portland before the exhibit reception where, among other things, we paid a visit to Fabric Depot. Oh, my - I'd not been before and could see as soon as I walked in the door what a dangerous place it is for any lover of textiles. One of the things on my list to look for was silk organza and I didn't have to walk far to find it. I could have spent all my time just in the silk section, but as you can see, I made it to the extensive batik section as well. Thank goodness they were having a sale, and friend Judi graciously offered her 40% off coupon to me to help defray the cost of that very expensive silk organza. But it is 54 inches wide and shades from blues to greens to even a yellow. So for someone who is not sure what she is going to do with silk organza, I feel I bought a piece that gives me lots of options. The tan fabric with the tree trunks and leaves is also silk, a jacquard that is so me I had to get some. And no, I don't know how I will use it, but I think it will go very nicely with some other silks in my collection and may end up as a background. That one batik is another fabric that shades, this time from blues to browns. I can see sky, water, ground, tree trunks coming from it. As for the thread, it is Sulky Ultra Twist which I understand is being discontinued. They didn't have the color I was looking for, in fact only had a variety of greens and a pink, so one of each came home with me. They did have the YLI heirloom silk thread in the navy I needed. And I also bought a package of black elastic cord, something I want to try as a closure on padfolios. So I was a very happy camper, even though there wasn't time to explore the entire store.

There were torrential rains that day as we zoomed down and then back up the gorge. Spring is much further along there than here in Northern Idaho, and the variety of greens on display did not escape my attention. Every imaginable shade and value was represented, some so bright and fresh. How do I forget this such that it is a surprise every year? We also witnessed the most remarkable rainbows created by the spray being kicked up by the cars as the sun dipped near the horizon behind us. None of us remember seeing anything like it, and of course none of us had a camera to try to capture it either.

Judi and I sewed off and on the next few days. The master bedroom in her new house has been converted into a wonderful studio space for her and her mother, Julia, who paints. They set up a table for me and this was my view. You can just make out Julia's in-process watercolor paintings on the table. With views like this, how could they not be inspired?

So what did I work on while there? Since I drove, I packed up my sewing machine and two very old UFO's. And there lies a cautionary tale. While at the quilting retreat the previous weekend, I remembered a stack-n-whack project I'd started at least 7 years ago. I remembered making 2 of the huge intricate star blocks, and cutting out the rest of the pieces for 4 more. A perfect project to work on out of my studio, right? I didn't pack up my sewing things until the morning of the day I was to leave, so when I unearthed this project from the bottom of a bin, I didn't have a lot of time to figure out exactly how I had left it. I'd forgotten that I had wrapped it up with another stack-n-whack project - farther along but using the same grouping of fabrics - and was confused about some of the triangle pieces lying loose outside the ziplock bag that obviously held my pre-cut pieces for the stars. I did find one note indicating I needed to cut more diamonds from a specific width and length of pink fabric, so cut that off and threw it in. Looked at the neatly stacked units and trusted they were all that I needed. Put aside the uncut pieces of fabrics and at the last minute, grabbed some of those "extra" triangles just in case I needed them. Grabbed the shoebox with my other ancient project for the trip, appropriate threads, a few rulers and other supplies and I was off.

Once I got set up to sew on the other end and started going through the instructions and what I'd brought , it didn't take long to realize how faulty my memory about this project was. I'd forgotten that half of the stars had pink points and the other green. There were no green diamonds cut, and I'd brought none of the green fabric along. Oh, well, I thought, at least I can get the two pink stars together. But again, I'd forgotten so much about this pattern, and it turned out I didn't have enough of the appropriate pieces to complete even one of the stars. (and yes, I DID need those triangles I'd thrown in at the last minute.) Sigh. I sewed as many parts together as I could, then made copious notes about what I was missing and what went with what. I'm determined not to put this back in the bin until I finish cutting and piecing while all this is fresh in my mind!

As for the other project, it is probably even older, and was originally all I was planning to take on this trip. Fortunately, everything I needed was in that shoebox, my notes made sense, and the work was very straight forward. Basically, it will be a simple scrappy quilt from reproduction fabrics made into half-square triangle units. I'm using the method where you layer two fat quarters right sides together and cut strips on the bias. In my case, the strips are 3 inches wide. I had most of the fat quarters chosen for this project already cut into strips, so it was a matter of sewing the strips together as you see in the picture above, mixing the different prints up in the sets to give the most variety to the resulting units.

Then, using the special bias square ruler, you start cutting your squares, lining up the diagonal line with the seam. and the size of the square (in my case 3-1/2") along the raw edge. This is a fairly quick and very accurate way to make lots of these units and more detailed instructions can be found in books that cover basic quilt techniques. I've pressed the seams open to reduce bulk at the intersections when the half-square triangles are sewn together.

Of course, I had visions of getting all of the 360 or so half-square triangle units sewn and cut before coming home, but we had plenty of distractions. I decided not to count how many units I cut (no use depressing myself) but instead counted it a major accomplishment to get the remaining fat quarters cut into strips and all of the pairs of strips sewn together. I plan to keep this project from going back on the shelf too, even though it is very far down on my list of priorities. It's such a simple concept and I'm anxious to get the border fabric out of my regular stash. I'm also very aware of the fact that these fabrics don't speak to me quite the way they once did. So it would be good to get this made up, ready to pass on to someone who might love it more than I. Or perhaps I'll be surprised at how much better I like it once those fabrics are mingling together all over the completed top.


Sherrie Spangler said...

Ooh, silk organza! I'll have to get down to Fabric Depot just for that! I've been painting white silk organza from Dharma and layering it over other fabric to create more depth. You should have a lot of fun with your multicolor piece.

The Idaho Beauty said...

I didn't think about Dharma having organza, let alone painting it. But I'm glad I didn't order something sight unseen. The first organza I fingered was stiffer than I anticipated and had a very visible weave. I was about to think I had the wrong idea of what organza was. Then I found more which was a much finer weave (and thus more "invisible") with a softer hand. That made me ready to commit, in spite of the hefty price tag!

Jeannie said...

Dharma also has silk gauze which is very nice. You really need hours in Fabric Depot! I try to get there a couple of times a year (from the Tri-Cities). Their mail order is good (and you always get a discount) and they also have an 800 number if you know exactly what you want. If you are on the mailing list, you get notifications on web specials. I sound like an ad! LOL! Thanks for sharing your trip. I love Hood River. Did you get to the bead shop? cheers.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Jeanie, no bead shop this time. Judi took me to one downtown the last time I visited. Neither of us was thinking beads this time and if not for an appt in Portland that Friday, we wouldn't have darkened the door of a fabric shop either. But I'm glad we did.

Dharma has such a variety of fabrics, and again, I just don't think about checking with them. Don't know if silk gauze is anything I'd be interested in - I'd have to see it first. Then again, I've said before that such and such wasn't for me, then later tried it with success.

Thanks for the tip about getting on Fabric Depot's mailing list. I didn't think about notification of web specials, although I did notice I could order over the internet. Judi definitely saved me by giving me a time limit in there. vbg