Friday, December 12, 2014

Quilting Progress

I've been quilting along on my new animal mandala, you can see some of the progress below.  I've also been working on some projects for Christmas and trying to find the advent spirit amid the stress and chaos whirling around.

Last night, Mike and I drove around to look at Christmas lights- this is one of my favorite traditions for the two of us.  As always, the lights at Chesapeake were lovely.

Two messages from my advent calendar in the last week that particularly struck me.  "In the 6th century, St. Benedict began his monastic rule with the word 'listen'.  Not a bad word to carry into advent." and "Mary carried Jesus, God's love and truth, into the world.  We can do that too."  I'm trying.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Baby Quilt for Camille

One of our good friends is having a baby after the first of the year, so of course I had to make her a baby quilt.  She's actually an extremely talented singer and songwriter (Camille Harp), you should check out her music.  Many of Mike and my first dates were at her shows and we still go hear her whenever we can.

Anyway, I made her a scrappy baby quilt using fun things from my stash.  It was so fun to go through and remember what projects everything was from. I also included a tiny teddy bear I crocheted (from this book) on the way home from Thanksgiving and an embroidered burp cloth and bib.  I made several other scrappy tops while I was at it, and I'll probably donate most of them (when I get a chance to quilt them), but I'm out of time at the moment!


I hope Camille, Tom, and the baby enjoy these!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Many thanks to all those who offered their condolences about my wretched holes!  The Bo-Nash powder was great- it worked exactly as it promised, however, even with the patch, you can still sort of see the holes.  I'm hoping some judicious quilting will help.

Anyway, I moved on.  I went ahead and marked the background for quilting prior to taking the quilt top off my design wall since last time I didn't do it until after it was layered and basted and the puffiness from the batting was a pain to mark over.

I've also now successfully quilted all of the animals to the first layer of batting.  I'm doing this one just like my last one in this respect.  I quilted the animals only on the first layer of batting, and then when I add the second layer of batting and ditch quilt around the appliques/stitch down the background, the animals should puff up nicely.  Many of them are just too big to go without any stitching, and I like the extra detail it provides, but it's more fun if they puff up.  I'm taking it to my mom's over Thanksgiving to baste all the layers together on her longarm- makes it so much easier to quilt on my home machine.

The big birds in the four corners are all quilted with different metallic threads, which makes me happy.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Awesome and Awful?

Hooray for progress on the new mandala!  The top is finished! 

And then, there's this.  This happened last Saturday as I was attaching the last animals.  Only now after several intervening days have swear words stopped coming out of my mouth (sorry for the bad attitude, but ACK).  I don't know if you can tell, but this is four holes in my quilt top.  From my iron. After days of working with the iron on this quilt with no problems.  I'm refraining from screaming in all caps in the blog post only because who wants to read that?

I've ordered some miracle Bo-Nash powder and generated some test holes.  The only thing I can do is try to patch it with the Bo-nash from the back.  If that doesn't work, who knows what I'll try. What a mess.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New Pouf

A couple years ago my mom and I each made a gum drop pouf from Amy Butler's great pattern.  Mine is still a mainstay in my sewing room- I use it as a foot stool when I'm allowed, but more often than not one of my three dogs claims it- they go so far as to push my feet off if they feel I'm intruding on their space.  As a result, it's gotten a little smushed but is nonetheless still well-loved.

Missy claimed the pouf in this picture, but don't be fooled, the other two will snag it if they can.

My mom gave the one she made to my sister, who has since had to throw it out because her cat peed on it numerous times, and my mom has long wanted a new one.  I've been saving "stuffing" (i.e. teeny tiny scraps too small for anything else) ever since and finally had enough to make another one for my mom.

We made the original ones out of quilting cotton, but I've often thought since then that they might be better out of some home dec fabric.  I decided to use fabric I already had on hand, especially since I found (from who know where) this fun teal cordouroy and another complementary print.  I wish I'd had enough to alternate pieces, but alas there was only enough of the print for two segments.  I did include the piping (as in my earlier version) which I think is a nice complement.

It takes a surprising amount of stuffing to fill one of these to a nice sturdiness, and of course the use of the scraps makes it a little lumpy, but my previous ones are filled with a mix of scraps and poly-fill and it has evened out over time.

Missy likes it in any case, so hopefully my mom will too!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Baby Quilt for Chloe

While my family was all here visiting over Labor Day my mom, sister, and I worked together assembly-line style to piece this adorable quilt top for a long-time family friend of ours who's having a new baby soon.

My mom found this adorable sheep pattern in the June 2014 issue of The Quilt Life magazine (it's a pattern by Irene Berry) and we thought it would be great for a new baby.  I'm pleased to say the three of us knocked the top out in an afternoon-and-a-half and used all stash fabrics except for the background black and white.

My mom took it home to quilt on her long arm and recently sent me a snapshot of the finished quilt.  I loved the light rainbow binding, although it's kind of hard to see in the picture.  We weren't able to make it to the shower, but apparently Chloe loved it.  We also made this tooth pillow (the sheep head is an open pocket) for the new baby's older sister Blair.  She's only three (so a little young for losing teeth) but we wanted her to have something new and special too.

I love being able to do projects with my mom and sister, and it was fun to be able to work on this one.

Congrats to Chloe and Shawn!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Finishing Raegan's First Quilt

A couple of weekends ago Raegan and Walker came over so we had another crafty afternoon.  It was just before Halloween, so we all painted pumpkins, but the main order of the day was to finish Raegan's quilt.  She'd pieced the large 9-patch on a previous weekend, so for this weekend I'd prepared the sandwich and let her quilt it using the walking foot.  She did really well, no sewing injuries, and then I put on the binding.

Instead of sewing on a label, she just wrote her name on the back and I filled in the rest.

Next time Walker's going to quilt!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Progress on the new mandala

Lately I've been busy working on my new mandala quilt and it's been really wonderful to make some good progress.  I started this project back in the summer (blogged here) but haven't had much time since August to work on it.  The first step after completing all the computer design work was to start cutting out all the animals, so that's what I've  been doing.  Unfortunately lots of the colors didn't photograph well, but you get the idea.  So far it's going well, but the hard part is getting the overlays cut and lined up, and I haven't started those yet.

This was my original messy fabric pull, some were kept, others not.





Deer (antlers still to come)


Longhorns (horns still to come)
Chocolate Labs

Great Horned Owl (head still to come)

Red-tailed Hawk (tail still to come)

Blue Heron

Crested Caracara

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween 2014

So IQF Houston always seems to fall over Halloween and last year you may remember that my mom and I dressed up as Snow White and Grumpy at the quilt show.  We aren't dressing up at the quilt show this year but some good friends of mine dressed up as Bajorans and hosted a party called Deep Spook Nine: Keeping up with the Cardassians.  With a clever title like that, I couldn't be anything but a Starfleet officer.  My favorite iteration has always been The Next Generation (swoon Patrick Stewart).  Given how terrible I look in a jumpsuit, I elected to make a version of Troi's skant uniform.  Given it's shortness I'm opting for the look with leggings.

Not perfect, but I think it definitely reads as "Starfleet" and it's certainly a pretty comfy costume!

I blend pretty well apart from the silly grin.

And here are a few of us at the party, loosely representing TNG, DS9, and TOS.  Too bad I look ridiculous with my eyes closed.

Happy Halloween everybody!  I hope you have a great time!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bloggers Quilt Festival: ROYGBIV Entry

This is the second of my two entries into this fall's Blogger's Quilt Festival.  Three cheers to Amy and many thanks for hosting, it's always so much fun to see what everyone has been working on.

My first entry was the cuttlefish, which is in the mini-quilt category.

This is my beloved photoreceptor quilt which I'm putting in the ROYGBIV category.  I thought about putting it in the Art quilt category, but its rainbow color scheme combined with the subject matter (without photoreceptors we wouldn't even be able to see our favorite rainbow colors) tipped the scales to this category.

Do you see what I see, 2014, Shannon Conley, 23 x 37

Some of you may know this already, but in my non-art life I'm a photoreceptor cell biologist and here, I've jumped straight into linked-to-my-scientific-work territory with a quilt featuring photoreceptors.

The quilt was based on an electron micrograph taken by my quilty crafty friend Barb, who is a fabulous microscopist.  Photoreceptors are the cells in the very back of your retina which are actually responsible for sensing light and converting it into the chemical/electrical signals that are eventually processed by the brain and register as vision.  They have quite different ultrastructure from other cells, characterized most obviously by a giant long extension from the cell body.  This is called an outer segment and is filled with stacked membranous discs (like a stack of flattened whoopie cushions or something).  These discs are packed with all the proteins necessary for sensing light.  All the photoreceptors in this picture (which came from a mouse retina) are rod photoreceptors which mediate peripheral and low light vision.

Photoreceptors really are the first step in determining how we see the world, thus the name for the quilt, "Do You See What I See" (for me the answer is almost always bright rainbows of color...)

The quilt features lots of machine quilting, hand embroidery and beading, and bobbin quilting using a fabulous hand sun rainbow yarn I picked up in Germany a couple years back.

Thanks again to Amy for hosting the Blogger's Quilt Festival, and everyone say a silent thank you to his or her photoreceptors; without them you wouldn't see anything!