Friday, August 19, 2016

Cross-Cut Quiltalong

So the project I just HAD to join in on a couple of weeks ago was quick & easy.  I was johnny-come-lately to the quiltalong, which the others did over the week of July 25.  It was hosted by Debbie, at a Quilter's Table, and today she has a blog post showing more of the finished quilts, including mine, so you can give her a vist if you'd like, by clicking on that link!  I decided to do one about the time they were finishing, after seeing lots of photos on Instagram,  the project looked so intriguing & fun---and it was! 

Suggested were low volume backgrounds & contrasting strips.  I decided to use soft greys for the backgrounds, I cut out NINE of those at  9 1/2", then I went to my bin of 1 1/2" strips to pull some purples, blues & a tiny splash of lime green.  Those were trimmed down to 1" strips.  If I had some I really wanted to use but they weren't long enough, I sewed them together with a straight seam, and pressed it open.  Cuz scrappy is good, and once it's in that bin, it's FREE, right? And we love to use those little bits sometimes!

Once your strips & squares are ready, you are going to cut all nine of the 9.5" squares in half, on the diagonal.  THEN, you really, really want one of THESE tools (below), which I ran out to Christina's Quilt Shop in Rochester to get.  I had read about them in a quilting mag when they came out & wondered, hmmm, do they work?  My friend Suzanne had gotten one & I was able to try it out at a sewing day recently and LOVED it!  It's THE STRIP STICK, and it's purpose is ironing seams OPEN,  but is also useful to ironing seams to the SIDE, as quilters most often do.  The advantage to having seams OPEN is that your piece is then very, very, FLAT, and sometimes you really want this look in your piecing.  If you are going to use stitch-in the ditch quilting, you don't want open seams, but I had no plans of doing that with this small quilt.

How & why does this work, you ask?  I think it's because your seam is elevated & you are pressing just the seam, not the rest of your block, or piece.  The Seam Stick is rounded, and your seam is in the air, just the seam,  as you press.  Have you ever distorted your work with pressing?  Well I sure have, not that I am proud of that fact, but it HAPPENS, even without using steam.  And when you are using 1" strips, that will finish at a mere 1/2" wide, and everything must be STRAIGHT, that cannot be allowed to happen.

Now, I am sorry for using all the shouty capital letters, but----wait, no, I'm NOT sorry.  I tend to be emphatic when excited & I just cannot apologize for that.  It's just the way I am.

Once your squares are cut on the diagonal, you are going to sew a strip along the center edge, then join the other HST to it.  Press your seams open, then cut your new square in half the OTHER way, and add a strip to that, like so!

The Seam Stick made my strips a thing of beauty! Just look at the back!  They come in THREE different sizes: the 'mini' is 9.5", about $9.00, the 18.5" about $11.00 (I bought both), and I think the 3rd size is about 24.5", and I'm not sure the price on that.  Once you use it for open seams, you will never be without it again!  After I told some friends, they all had to get it & found them at AQS Grand Rapids at a vendor's booth.  If you are local, go to Christina's in Rochester, Michigan, and tell her 'Sue sent me".

When the nine blocks are all done, square them up to 9.5", if you can.  That size is not crucial, and I had to go 9" or 9.25" myself.  If you can go 9.5" on all, that gives you a little more cutting possibility shortly.  

Put them up on the design wall, and see how they look.  Move them around to make the lines & colors do something you are pleased with.  You can photograph each arrangement if you want to, to help you decide.  Aren't they pretty???  Don't you just LOVE that some of the strips are pieced??

Now, sew them all together!  Press your seams open again. you still want everything nice & flat.

Now, what are we?  Quilters, right?  What do we do?  We cut up stuff that is already in one piece & then we sew it back together again, right?  It's what we dream of at night, it's what we live for!  You have made a piece of fabric, and, beautiful though it is, we are going to cut it apart, and put it back together again!  Don't be scared, it's going to be F.U.N. fun!

Now need a smaller square, I used my 6.5" square ruler.  You could go 4.5" if you wanted to, it doesn't matter.  My goal & instructions in this QAL were to get at least sixteen squares cut out of that fabric we made.   If you cut them smaller you would want more.

So take your 6.5" ruler and start cutting on that fabric we just pieced.  I didn't have a lot of lee-way, so I pretty much laid it down in rows and cut out my 16 new 6.5" squares.  And put them up randomly on the design wall.

Play around til you like what you see, or just go totally random, it's up to you!  I had very little of the lime green, so I wanted it to position it to go across the quilt in a particular way.

Sew your squares together, press your seams open again, and then you are ready to layer up for quilting.  I quilted a wavy grid, which I am totally in love with lately!  Such fun, soft movement, and you can do it small or big.  I felt it worked really well with all those lines & graphic quality of the piece.

My quilt finished just shy of 24", after quilting and binding.

Even when our deadlines are self-imposed, fun projects, we still get into that mode of "well I have to do this first" or "I have to finish that".  Sometimes you have to clear it all away, and just PLAY!

So today, now, I am giving you permission to GO to your sewing room or studio, and PLAY.  Have fun, because you DESERVE IT!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

AQS Grand Rapids 2016

First off, no, I can't yet show you the little project I started last time.  But I will soon, I promise.

I just had one of the best weeks EVER.  Since AQS began having shows in Grand Rapids, Michigan I have been fortunate to go with a group of friends, usually 5 or 6 of us go.  We spend the entire week, arriving the day before the show opens on Wednesday, going home Saturday.  Shopping the vendors, looking at quilts, attending lectures & classes, and meeting up with lots of friends from the quilting world, our world.

This year was special because I had three quilts in the show.  Three.  Can you imagine how blessed I felt?  And nervous?  To have some of your quilts hanging, displayed on black, at a national show.  Among your peers.  Among work you can never, ever match.  Incredible breathtaking work.  Putting yourself OUT there is scary.  It took me two days to be able to hang out occasionally near my quilts, afraid I might hear someone say something, but what an amazing KICK it was to see people go close to look, to linger sometimes and take photographs!!  Yes, I am insecure, thank you very much.

One was part of a guild challenge exhibit with Great Lakes Heritage Quilters, first time ever that our 24-year-old guild has had such an exhibit at a national show.  I am so proud of GLHQ!  Our theme was 'text' or words.  The quilts had to have words, and had to finish at 30" by 40".  We had 8 lovely quilts hanging and our name on a placket.  BUT, AQS kinda screwed up this year by NOT putting individual cards by the quilts to identify their maker & name.  So feeling gypped for some of us who have never had a quilt hanging at AQS before.  Some maybe never again, because they just don't enter shows.  So this was very exciting for us as a guild, and I felt so proud that we were represented.  GLHQ has a lot of talent.  (One of our younger members, Ruth, won a 2nd place ribbon for a quilt she entered solo, not this exhibit.  I believe the modern wall-hanging category, so huge congrats to her!)

Mine in the GLHQ Guild Challenge group is below.  I sure wish they had steamed a little, as they said they would, because the fold lines from shipping were very apparent.  Sorry about that!

Normally, when the show opens, we get right to shopping, as items do run out, as the quilts will be there all week.  So we may not even LOOK at quilts til Thursday, or even Friday.  This year we went directly to the quilts, guild exhibit first.  My friends were sweet & awesome, they made much of it & I felt like papparazzi were taking my photo in front of each of my quilts.  BIG thank you to Joyce, Diane, Phyllis & Linda-----thank you so much for your love & support--you made me feel so special!

The next quilt was at spot 106, and you could see it hanging while standing in the aisle of the guild display, which was kind of fun.  I LOVE this one---everything about it.  The colors, the quilting, the fabrics!  Ohhhh-----and it's going on to the AQS show in Des Moines!!!  That show is October 5-8, 2016.

Wonky Baskets (started after a Gwen Marston workshop)
Seven Point Two (spiral quilted, pattern by Rossie Hutchinson)
What's on my foot, you say?  Broke my baby toe 3 weeks before the show.  Still couldn't get a shoe on it, so had to wear this velcro thing.  I could walk OK, but can't yet get a regular shoe on it.  It did cramp my style a bit, slowed me down, but when you're there all week, this works out OK, because you can take your time & pace yourself.

Huge thank you to my good friends MARIE, and Pam, from Detroit Area Modern Quilt Guild.  They requested I show them each of mine personally, and Marie took photos of me & each, and posted them on Instagram.  Love you, Marie!

I felt so much love & support from my GLHQ friends, and DAMQG friends, who came up to me at the show and congratulated me and hugged me----again, the love & support of friends is a wonderful thing, and I thank you all, even if I didn't name you here.  I think of each & every one of you, your face & name, in my heart.  Thank you.

Lastly, my beloved eldest, Katie, who, after I sent her a photo of me in front of a quilt, posted it on Facebook & said how proud she was of her mom, having quilts in a national show.  Katie is a writer, as you know, and respects that her mom is an artist too.  Love you, sweetie!

To get quilts in, amidst a LOT of competition, was amazing & I wore my 'contestant' ribbon with great pride.  Thank you everyone for love & support, and what amazing memories I will hold close to my heart, for a long, long time.

Friday, August 5, 2016

What I'm Doing Right Now (#WIDRN)

Been far too busy this summer to update this blog.  Enjoying summer.  Going Up North.  Breaking my baby toe.  Working on five different projects.  And I have had a HUGE outbreak the last few days of "Look There's a Squirrel" Fever!  Here's some proof:

Just this morning, I HAD to cut out 9 - 9.5" squares of background grey for a small quilt that some quilters did as a challenge on Instagram.  It's the crosscut quilt challenge, which they did last week.  Yes, that's right.  LAST week.  I think I have to jump on board.  Now.  Right this minute. 

More on that at a later date.

Then, I offer you a glimpse of my design wall.  I'm sorry it's not a better pic, but morning light is not kind to my studio, it's a bit dim. And I could have smoothed those blocks onto the flannel a little more, but who has TIME for that!  So.  It is what it is.

These two things are moving right along.  One, the small one (bottom left), is from a kit recreating an antique baby quilt that I bought a few years ago. Got going on that again last week, and it's going to be really cute.  The other is the EPP project I started last year, in late October.  I am zipping along, only need to piece TWO more blocks, and applique those plus 4 more onto their background squares.  Then, some cute little clusters of four petal shapes get sewn together, and attached in each corner where four blocks meet.

So, that's what I've got right now (plus two more quilt tops I finished recently, one is 60 X 75", the other is 50" X 75".   PLUS a LARGE 90" square top is being dropped off to one of my favorite long-arm quilters today.  I sure don't want to put that puppy under my own needle for quilting!  And no, you don't get to see those just yet.

Gotta run----those 9/5" squares are calling!!  And have to start packing for Grand Rapids AQS--leaving on Tuesday, won't be back til Saturday!  But before I go, here's a squirrel, since I'm having lots of those squirrel moments this week---'squirrel flash', like a hot flash----because

Quilting is my SUPER POWER!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Last week, I attended Glamp, my 2nd one.  The first was in November.  What's a Glamp you say?  It's glamerous camping, right?  Brenda Ratliff, owner of Pink Castle Fabrics, had numerous Camp Stitchalots, for about 25 people at a bed & breakfast.  She decided to up the ante, six teachers, well-known names, 200 attendees.   The first was held in November, this one the 2nd, and a 3rd one scheduled for November 2016.   The June 2016 Glamp had teachers Carolyn Friedlander, Elizabeth Hartman, Monica Solario-Snow (know far more by her blog & Instagram name, The Happy Zombie), Penny Layman, Violet Craft and Rashida Coleman-Hale (also a designer of Cotton & Steel Fabrics).  What an amazing line-up!!

You have very short classes over a two-day period with six teachers.  The entire group is divided into six teams, and the teachers move around, teaching each group a technique over a two-hour time period.  This Glamp's project was a row quilt, so each teacher designed a block for a row, with the central themes being paper-piecing & curves, along with some simple piecing.

Arrival on Thursday, you get some swag, including this beautiful printed zipper pouch & great for keeping a project together) an issue of Quilt Now magazine, charm square packets, thread, a Glamp sew-on patch, your name badge and wrist band indicating what color team you are on.  Strolling dinner, mix & mingle, open cash-bar, and there was a pouch swap, so people wandered around, trying to find their swap partner & present their item.

Friday and Saturday, breakfast, a class, lunch (yummy, by the way---a mexican taco bar on Friday, and pasta buffet Saturday), two more classes, then the bar opened, and dinner an hour later.  Friday night had a dance party, but we didn't seem to have the party-ers as much as last Glamp.  Mostly people just wanted to sew!  Saturday---repeat!   Check-out Sunday morning, after a continental breakfast.

Above is what I got done, although, only 2 of the houses were made at Glamp.  It was a fun weekend, and one of the BEST parts is how friendly everyone is!  One quilter from New Zealand, quite a few Canadians, and people from all over the US.

One of the best things to happen this week, was my oldest daughter's Austin, Texas reading, hometown of her publishing company, A Strange Object.  Katie's first book, a collection of short stories, "Man & Wife", was released on her Dad's birthday, May 10th.  We attending a reading & signing at Powells Bookstore in Portland in May.  Can't wait to hear about the reading at Book People in Austin, but she did post this picture.  Looks the they were well-prepared for the reading!  We are so excited & proud of her, she has worked long & hard for this day.  She is dedicated to her craft, and lives a simple lifestyle to allow herself the time to devote to it.

Oh.  And did I mention I will have not one, but THREE quilts at the AQS Show in Grand Rapids in August???  SO.  Darned.  Excited.    One is part of a guild challenge exhibit, Great Lakes Heritage Quilters Text challenge from last June.  First time my guild has had anything like that, and seeing it, and our name on the sign, is going to be an amazing feeling.

Will I see you in Grand Rapids??

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Paper Piecing & Plastic Sheets

Just how do paper-piecing & plastic sheets go together, you ask??  They are the two things I am doing lately.

Wrapping everything in the basement in plastic.  Getting ready for waterproofing work to start on June 6.  We had a room in the basement torn down & removed.  There will be jack-hammering, trenching, then new drainage pipes, crushed rock & concrete.  After the pain of that is over, un-plastic-ing, maybe some prettying up in my basement, the first we've ever done, then trying to get things back in reasonable place.

English Paper-Piecing is such nice sit-down/TV work, so I've been working on on my Fruit Tingles quilt, pattern by the wonderful Sue Daley of Australia.  Below are my three newest blocks.

As I pull fabrics & cut out, doing usually two at a time, it's helpful to see how my colors are looking, what's needed next.  I didn't being with a complete pull to work from, just really didn't want to have another basket of fabric set aside for the project.  They usually sit so long!  So I'm pulling as I go, but the fabrics have to coordinate with the centers, which are all cut. 

It's helpful to get it out & put on the wall, to see how it's looking, so I put them up on my design wall.  Which I FINALLY got free from the Japanese Puzzle quilt that's been on the wall for maybe 2 months, little bits of numbered paper pinned to each one, what a PITA it was becoming!  No, not bread.  Pain in the-----.  It's been tying up my wall for too long, and since the deadline is approaching, at the urging of friends to finish it, I did.  But it's for a guild challenge and the reveal is our end of the year meeting June 9, so no pics of that yet.  Here's my blocks so far.

The kit doesn't come with enough paper to do all 16 blocks, so soon I have to audition & pick my  background fabrics, and get a few appliqued down to free up some papers.  I'm thinking soft grey background fabrics, maybe 4 different ones.  Then there are some really cute petal shapes, round on one end, coming to a point on the other.  They are joined in clusters of 4, and go in the corners where 4 blocks meet.  Not sure yet what color those will be, but it will be one fabric & color to unify the scrappiness of the blocks.

Also packing up for Glamp and some wonderful teachers that I am really looking forward to meeting: Carolyn Friedlander, Elizabeth Hartman, Happy Zombie ( Monica Solorio-Snow), Rashida Coleman Hale, Violet Craft & Penny Layman.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Beautiful Vintage Circa 1920

Don't know how YOU'RE doing, but not too much sewing going on in my house right now.  We're getting ready for basement waterproofing, and doing lots of sorting, getting rid of, and packing up.  I 'm really happy if I can get my two Splendid Sampler blocks done each week!

During this process, I was looking at this old quilt I have---too young to be 'antique', so it's 'collectible' or 'vintage'.  It's the very FIRST one I ever bought, not that I have many.   Maybe 6 or 8, and most are close to being what people would call a 'cutter quilt'.  The kind people used in their attics as dust covers, or their trucks for moving things.  Really, really worn.

This one I bought in Shipshewana, Indiana, I think it was the early 1990's.  It was one of my FIRST girl-road-trips, which were a total revelation to me!  Who knew that the point wasn't just getting from point A to point B in record time?  Who knew you could stop & browse an antique store if you wanted to?  I had no idea!  I still remember a later trip, going to Quilt Festival in Chicago---it took us 6 hours to gt across the state! (It's a 3-hour drive).  LIFE's a journey, my friend, and it's allllll about the ride!  Wait---a minute ago, when I said 3-hour drive, did you, in your head, start humming "a 3-hour tour, a 3-hour tour'?  Or was that just me???  If you didn't get that, you're too young.

A group of friends in my neighborhood did an annual trip to Shipshewana in November, when things were decorated for Christmas, which then led to a summer trip to Shipshewana for the huge Flea Market they have there.  My first flea market ever!  It was hot, so hot.  We had coolers in the car with water bottles on ice, and parked as close as we could.  It was really fun!  Foot sore, hot, but fun.  And I found...... THIS!

It was cheap----maybe $35 or 40.  Wish I had written that down, and the date, but I didn't.  It's not a fine quilt.  It's not hand quilted.  It's machine-quilted.  It had been used, lived a life. It spoke to me---the colors, the simplicity, the fact that it WAS done by machine!  The striped fabric seems to be dish cloth, kind of waffley, if you look at the close up. That dark stitching thru the yellow sashing is a zig-zag stitch.   It's navy (not black),  with the pink and yellow, and some white. Wonky!  Weird!  I loved it!  I was so thrilled to take it home, my FIRST vintage quilt!!  The back is white, and brought to the front, turned down & stitched to bind it.

Some years after that, maybe 5,  we became aware of the Michigan Quilt Index project.  We had an amazing quilt collector & historian living in the area, and she was a member of our guild, Mary Silber.  A friend of mine, also a Mary, had made a beautiful Lone Star Quilt, I think it was all hand-quilted, and she wanted to have it appraised & registered in the project.  We were being urged to register all of our quilts, so that their history would not be forgotten.  So I went with Mary, and took my funny little quilt along for Mary Silber to take a look at for me & tell me anything she could figure out about it.  I recently looked it up on the quilt index, as I couldn't remember when it was from, or the name of the pattern.  THEN, while cleaning the basement, I found notes I had written from that day!  Tucked safely into a folder of "QUILTY STUFF" (**important note here---'a safe place' isn't ALWAYS throwing something into the abyss of the great unknown--sometimes you can actually find it again!!!)

So here's what Mary had to say about it:  This quilt was probably made in Pennsylvania, around 1920 (between 1901 & 1929). It is a Monkey Wrench Variation.  It was hand-pieced, and machine quilted on a treadle machine!  How cool is that???!!  Mary said its value at that time was $375, and replacement value would be $750.  She also said I could wash it in a tub, or by machine, on delicate, with a delicate soap.  Air-dry, or dryer on cool.  Important to note that is a quilt that was USED, not tucked away in a trunk.  So it had been washed before.

I still love it.  When I look at it, it makes me happy.  It tells me important things about myself from the perspective of twenty-some years later.  Some of those things should have been clear, but maybe weren't altogether.  First, I love using my machine (OK--clear to me, never lost sight of that, no fuzziness there!).  Machine quilting is awesome!  (never lost sight of that either).  I guess the only thing I lost sight of for awhile, in my brown, muddy phase, was that I LOVE COLOR!  I love simple patterns, simple shapes.  I can look at an intricately pieced quilt, a Baltimore Album, an incredible landscape or art quilt and admire & appreciate the skill & beauty of those quilts.  But they do not speak to my heart.  They do not GRAB me by my soul.  They just don't.

Beautiful fabrics.  Simple designs.  Those things speak to me.  Those are what I want to make, and need to make.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


My larger guild, Great Lakes Heritage Quilters, held it's FIRST Quilter to Quilter Sale!  Very exciting concept, this idea was initiated by my friend Diane, who is a current board member.  Similar to a Moms to Moms Sale, which she has often gone to with one of her daughters, we had anything a quilter wanted to de-stash, or found they didn't use, etc.  Gently used or new.  We had everything from fabric to sewing machines, and everything inbetween.  Beautiful antique quilts, tops, blocks, quilting hoops on floor stands, a Serger, a Tutto case!  Buttons, batting, books!

We had a great location, a church in Troy, who was absolutely wonderful at helping us out, and we used their beautiful new-looking gymnasium, on a main floor, no steps.  It was light and airy, with plenty of room.  Large items were in a separate room, right near. 

We set up the day before, between 4pm and 8pm, so that those who worked, could also get set up with ample time.  The church supplied some carts and also a strong young man or two to help people get their things in during set-up.

We probably didn't have as many vendors as we would have liked, but watch out world---that won't be true next time!  We had quilters from far and near, and they were waiting outside before the opening time.  Us vendors had an opportunity to buy from each other the hour before the same opened, which we did.

Some thought it was silly to buy---object was to sell, not buy!  Make more space, de-stash.  I say, if you found NEW stuff you wanted (and prices were often VERY cheap!), why not trade up to some NEW things you DID want?

Here's someone still setting up

This one had an amazing THREE tables full of fabric, all divided by color

My friend Carol had these AMAZING shirt fabrics that she had bought, washed, ironed & cut up---the work all done for us!

Serious yardage

It was a very fun day, and  mark my words, this event WILL happen again, and it will be LARGER next time--more vendors, more stuff.

But shoppers---next time remember to be ready to buy the large items, which were seriously overlooked.  There were some amazing deals on larger things, and no one seemed to take advantage of those.

Panoramic of the sale, with some shoppers