Friday, April 18, 2014

Just can't slow me down

My mind is in a whirl lately, and I dream of projects I want to make & wake up thinking about them.  Sometimes I have to think a minute, wait, did I already start that, or do I just want to?

Last week I made one more April colorstudy for Great Lakes Heritage Quilters as I wasn't satisfied I had gotten where I wanted to go. I do try to incorporate into the color theme something else that I want to try, and here quilted a spiral that filled the entire piece.  It was then cut down from a circle to a square.  It was a fun technique, done entirely with a walking foot, and I would like to do it again on a larger quilt.

This past Sunday, President of the Detroit Area Modern Quilt Guild, Vicky, taught whoever wanted to learn from our DAM guild, how to paper piece.  She is a whiz at this, and quite a few people showed up to learn.  I am feeling a little more comfortable with this.  Maybe the key is to ALWAYS use a piece that's too darn big.  Nothing more disconcerting than getting a piece of fabric sewn in, and it's TOO SMALL. RIP!  One of our members is a breast cancer survivor, and she knows a group of people who are running the 3 Day race in Detroit.  They have a silent auction fundraiser, and we are hoping to get a quilt done for the auction.  These blocks have been a lot of fun and are perfect for the cause.  These are 3 new blocks I got done on Sunday.  I had already done a couple.  This group at the DAMQG, or the DAM guild, as we are fond of saying, have been very fun & inspirational to me.  I am so enjoying getting to know them, and I think we have a lot of talent in our group.  Maybe we don't have lots of publications and ambition to make our mark on the quilting world, but who knows what is to be!

Then, in the spirit of FINISHING  something, I had a beautiful table runner kit a friend had given me for my birthday in the fall.  The blocks I had sewn at the first DAM retreat in mid-March.  Then, a couple weeks ago, sewn them together into the runner.  Runner was waiting for backing & machine quilting.  It's made of Pepper Cory's shot cottons, the line is called "Peppered cottons" and they are beautiful.  Such a pleasure to work with, and quilt like a dream, playing up the machine quilting very nicely.  The kit came from Guildcrafter's Quilt Shop

This was a fun quilting design to do and I have used it at least a couple of times before.  I've taken many machine quilting classes, including a few on Craftsy and am currently working on one.  This table runner got me a little fired up again that machine quilting can be fun.  I'm also prepping for a live classroom experience soon (info on that in a bit).  So I made up some samples, did some marking of lines only with a blue wash out marker, and tried these new designs I've seen out and out about (internet, Pinterest etc.).  I used a darker thread than I would normall work with for 2 reasons: one, it happened to be in my machine, and two, I could really see the designs as I worked on them.

This is a close up of one called Niki's Puzzle from Lori Kennedy's website.  I found her recently thru Pinterest, and I think she is a very good machine quilter.  She has some nice tutorials on her website.  The flowers (above) in a box done on the diagonal from each other are her designs also, and I really enjoyed stitching them.
THEN, in my email inbox, on April 15, I found an email from Craftsy that Jacquie Gering has a new class, teaching her amazing walking foot quilting!  She does a lot of what she calls "matchbox" quilting, which is lines close together.  I think straight lines are her favorite way to quilt her quilts and I love them.  It's called "Creative Quilting With Your Walking Foot", and this week is discounted on Craftsy to $29.99.  Usually I wait til Craftsy classes are half-off, $19.99, but for Jacquie, I didn't want to wait, so I took the 25% discounted offered right now.  I can't wait to start that class!!!

Lastly, I am taking a class with Natalia Bonner at a nearby guild, Cameo Quilt Guild.  My friend thru DAMQG, Lori Miller, is doing their programs this year.  As I am doing programs at Great Lakes Heritage Quilters this year, Lori and I have had a lot of interesting talks about the challenges of doing programs for your guild and how to get members to take classes.  I am proud of the program I presented this year, and I think hers was great too (especially as we had 2 of the same speakers, totally a coincidence, and proof that we are both interested in the same things).  It's been a fun & interesting challenge.

Anyway, for Natalia's class, I had to prep eighteen, yes, EIGHTEEN, 20" basted machine quilting sandwiches (fabric, batting, fabric), and boy, that took awhile!  Got muslin on sale at Joanns, then used coupons to discount Hobb's Heirloom on the 96" bolt and an extra can of 505 Spray Adhesive.  Also had to make an additional sample using a floral applique, which I took from Natalia's book.  I'm far from a beginner, but no expert.  I'm always working on my machine quilting skills & I guess the question is 'will I ever be satisifed with my efforts'?  Not so far!  But I keep practicing and am always happy to see more designs to choose from.  So here's my class samples, ready for next weekend:
I don't always do regular blog entries feeling that maybe this week I don't have much to say.  But once I get going......!!!!

So, thanks for listening!  Hope you're as fired up as I am (if you're a quilter).  And if you're must be related to me, or just reading this to be nice.  Thanks for that!

P.S.  I forgot to mention that I went to a great quilt show last week, the Oakland County Guild Quilt show.  They do one every two years and are pros at it.  Not to mention all the talent in their group!  Anyway, I didn't take many photos.  Don't need to, as my friend Suzanne does a great job on reporting on these shows.  Hop on over to her blog to see pictures of this beautiful show!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring or not?

We're flirting with spring here in southeastern Michigan.  Most of the snow has melted (except some of those giant mountains left by snowplows in store parking lots), temperatures are milder and a few crocuses are peeking up.  We are hopeful....

Our color study challenge for Great Lakes Heritage Quilters in April is "LEMON".    I struggled with this, as always, and feel that the two shining stars in our challenge so far are Sandy Kaufman (last year's guild president) and Patty Kreh ("if you're wearing brown, stand up--you're my volunteers!").  What they have done so far is wonderful and looks effortless.  Are they struggling with these at all??  I always picture myself just whipping up something amazing, but anything worthwhile and beautiful requires WORK.  Mine are not turning out as I picture.  This is my 2nd attempt at "Lemon", and I think it will stand as is.  I need to move on.  Lemon at this time of year made me think of daffodils and lemony sunshine coming in the windows.  Ahhhhh.......spring!  The sun & it's rays are machine quilted in lemony thread, the daffodils the result of some paper-piecing, which is definitely challenging for me.  My first effort at this project languishes on the design wall, sentenced to the scrap heap or being crumpled up somewhere....  Time to move on!

While working on both a guild charity quilt and a red & white challenge for my small group, the Chickens, I had a pile of small HST red and white, cut off from something else.  In my new efforts to use such things, I fed them thru the machine as leaders & enders (while working on other things), then squared them up.  I now have a sandwich bag filled with them.  It took me maybe two weeks to get them all sewed and then squared up.  They look quite pretty and may go in my red & white project.  Top Secret, by the way.  You won't see photos of it here til fall......

Lastly, but not least, what is one of the time-honored rituals of spring?  Why Spring Cleaning of course!  As a quilter, my duty is SPRING RE-STASHING.  Your stash also deserves to be freshened up in the spring.  So I visited a couple local quilt shops and bought some pieces that caught my fancy.

That and two guild-related meetings this week, the Quilt Show Committee for GLHQ's 2015 quilt show, and the monthly meeting of the Detroit Area Modern Quilt Guild.

That was my quilting week; how was yours?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I love ALL the colors!!

Can't remember where I read that, but someone was asking a child about quilt colors, and the child's response was "I love ALL the colors".  Yup!

So many projects it makes my head spin sometimes, and I wonder about that 'look! there's a squirrel' approach to quilting that I have embraced...But it doesn't stop me from starting something new and just moving on ahead.

After I made a car seat/stroller quilt for my friend Deb's newest grand-baby, I immediately made 2 more tops of the same style for Great Lakes Heritage Quilters charity efforts.  I had turned in a baby quilt for charity  previously and a couple of hot dog method pillow cases.  One of the requested sizes is 36" baby quilts.  LOVE that size, so enlarged my previous stroller quilt from 30" to 36.  One of them I just made the blocks bigger before cutting them apart and putting back together.  The other, I left the starting block sizes the same at 16" to start, then added simple borders.  That makes 3 quilts of the same design; a series????

They were really fun, but a little more shrinkage than I would have liked, leaving the quilts wrinkly.  I've been adehesive spray basting for awhile now, and wanted to get that out & have the quilts soft & washed for delicate baby skin.  I also have been using a new batting; maybe that's the culprit for the additional shrinkage?  I always use cotton battings, so you would think shrinkage from one flat cotton bat to the other would be the same. amazing quilter friend Cathy M always prewashes EVERYTHING so her quilts will have minimal shrinkage.  I always wanted that soft, old quilt look, but am re-thinking that a bit.  To do, to do.....

At our guild's charity day, I started a larger quilt from one of their cute kits  to make a zig-zag quilt from half square triangles.  Didn't get as far as I would have liked to, but you also have to talk & enjoy these events.  Can't be JUST pedal to the metal!

Also, last week pulled red and white fabrics.  My small group, the infamous Chickens, have a red and white quilt challenge due in October.  I don't always get as much sewing done in the summer as I do in the winter, so I'd like to have the top done by June, then it can be quilted in September (if necessary).  I had to take this photo THREE times--accidentally included a spoiler.   I had blocks on the design wall behind my machine & it showed.......Ugh!  That would be a bad slip!  I was sure I had angled the camera so they didn't show, but they crept in.  Sneaky red and white blocks!  They are proud & want the world to see!  Well, I don't just yet.....
Also finished my hexie challenge quilt top for Great Lakes Heritage Quilters.  Need to quilt it next & already planning it will go on my living room wall.  If the quilting turns out to my satisfaction.....

That's what I've been  Getting some sewing time in?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March Madness & DAMQG Retreat

The month is going by quickly!  I've been quite disciplined about sewing most days & getting quite a bit done.  Last week had 4 very busy days and one more snowstorm, cuz we haven't had enough snow just yet!   GLHQ (where I am doing programs) was hosting Pattye Kent of Bay City, for lecture Thursday, and a Friday small hand-piecing workshop. Then, right after lunch, leave on my first DAMQG retreat the same day.  PILES of things all over my house, for each of these 3 events!

The workshop was lovely----ten participants, at a member's beautiful home on a lake (thank you, Jo!!!), lunch & hand-piecing.  Feed back was wonderful & Pattye was a very good teacher.  As soon as lunch was cleaned up, I headed to Chesaning to join up with my 'modern' friends.   Detroit Area Modern Quilt Guild (DAMQG) was having it's first retreat!!  It was being held at Creative Passions, starting Friday at noon (I was last to arrive at about 2:30pm), ending Sunday at 3pm.

First, the place.  Creative Passions specializes in hosting scrap-bookers and quilters.  They have TWO buildings, both former churches. We were in the smaller of the two.  This one holds about 16.  Bedrooms are small and shared, 2-3 beds per room, with a larger 'suite' in the basement (sleeps 5?) that had a bathroom.  On the main floor,  large open sewing room & kitchen, a couple of the bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms (with showers) to share. The small, shared bedrooms are fine, as all your waking time is spent sewing in the large open room,  set up with one long table per person, nice office chair,  lamp, cupholder & scrap bag.  This space is wonderful, great you can all be together in one big room.  There was a cable tv over the top where you could watch something if you wanted, but also MUSIC channels, which we used.  We were sharing the space with maybe 6 or 7 scrap bookers.  Retreat owner brought in & set up continental breakfast each morning.  A few of us walked over to see Creative Passions 2 (also in an old church) on Sunday morning.  That holds maybe 25-30 and seemed really nice----bigger, more recently re-modeled, more bathrooms, still dorm style shared bedrooms 3-4 per room.  Creative Passions was very nice!

At our sewing station, we each had been given this little gift bag, and they all had a slightly different message, but all included "DAM girl".  We had a few products in there with our DAM logo on it.  Sew cute!!!

We did a swap game that was fun where each person started with 3 items they had brought along, a FQ, a fat eighth, and spool of thread.  Using a pair of CLR dice, items moved to left, right or center, sometimes kept.  Last person with one remaining item won it ALL.

We did a great pin cushion swap!  Everyone brought one, then we did the open and maybe 'steal' thing, which can be fun.  It happened to work out that poor Marie was stolen from REPEATEDLY.  Here are the pincushions we made---very very cute!! (the one I sewed was made with selvages, has blue around the edges with the green ribbon & green button).

Our member Lori, was teaching us how to make the Sew Together Bag.  Lori is interested in making a career in quilting & wanted to perfect her teaching skills.  She did a great job!  This is a fairly complicated bag (but really cute) and the lessons were planned to be broken up over the 3 days, to allow us to work on other sewing projects.

Our Sew together bags!!!!

Saturday night when we went to bed we found the surprise of a pillow case made specially with us in mind when fabrics/colors were chosen, and a DAM logo chocolate bar.  How cute is that?!!!
At the end of the weekend, we imposed on a scrap booker to take this photo of us along the staircase.

The weather was DAM cold, but we had a great time!  It was so fun to spend time together, as we are all still getting to know each other.  Everyone was friendly and this guild seems to be very important to all of them.  The energy and enthusiasm are encouraging.  This has the makings of being a GREAT guild with all the positive energy that is flowing these days!  Thank yous go out to Donna, who organized our retreat & made the pillow cases, Vicky, who organized the swaps & swag bags, and Lori, who put a lot of preparation time into her class & was endlessly patient & good humored with us!

I'll be thinking about this weekend for awhile and can't wait for the next one!!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Feeling Productive & Enjoying the Sunshine!

First thought for the day.....I saw this on Facebook and loved it--definitely applies, but some mornings more than others!!

My friends and I went north last weekend to visit a member of our group (the FAMOUS Chickens) who hosts us yearly for a weekend of sewing and hanging out together.  This year it was timed to visit the incredible Contemporary Quilts Exhibit by Gwen Marston.  It runs through April 27th 2014 and is a must for all quilt lovers.  Seeing quilts in a gallery is amazing anyway, but the work of this woman is absolutely incredible.  Gwen Marston is a national treasure & we are proud she's from Michigan! As a little teaser, here is my attempt at a 'selfie' in front of the quilts from her book 37 Sketches.  These small works were created by her to try out colors, fabrics etc before maybe incorporating into larger pieces.  They are absolutely amazing!
I think the younger generation has a gene we over 40 don't have though, to take amazing 'selfies'.  I've practiced and practiced and it is very difficult to get a good photo of yourself.  At least for most of us who may consider ourselves not photogenic anyway.  But selfies are a topic unto themselves (HA!) and I must not digress on this trying & mystifying topic!!

Detroit Area Modern Quilt Guild (DAMQG) had our March meeting.  For 'March Madness',  members had taken a photo of their stash & submitted to our guild prez, who printed them 8 1/2 by 11.  We then looked at a list of names of participants were challenged to figure out whose stash was whose.  This was really fun to see.  I was only correct on a couple, but then, we are all still getting to know one another.


Here's mine, but my style was tagged as 'slightly anal' and 'nobody keeps their stash that neat'.  I beg your pardon!!!  How can you find anything if it's not neat?  And yes, most of the time it IS that neat!  It's a little dark, but I was challenged by the narrowness of the closet & the folding door that kept wanting to be slightly open.
Our group quilt, all quilted and bound was revealed.  Quilted by Barb, a DAMQG member who has a longarm quilting business.  She did a great job on the quilt!
I have been able to get in quite a bit of sewing time lately, and yesterday ALL day!  Just decided that was top and only priority, and thanks to lovely husband walking in the door around 6pm with Chicken Shack (yummy broasted deliciousness!!), it worked out great!

Ready to gift this stroller/car seat quilt to my good friend Deb's 2nd grandson, born in February, this was washed, which increases its softness, ready for new baby skin.  This was finished a couple of days BEFORE my sew day.  Don't want you to think I am SUPER QUILTER!

This technique was a lot of fun.  This one is small, 30" square.  You make larger blocks, 16", all different, but on similar color scheme, as many as you want in the quilt.  They are cut in quarters and then put together as blocks again.

Baby's big brother get's a pillow case.  Amazing how little kids LOVE having their own special pillow case!  They may be on the pillow, they may be used as toy bags.  Whatever, as my friend Suzanne says "Floats your boat".  Cars and trucks always a BIG hit with little boys!  Then, while I was at it, two pillow cases for Great Lakes Heritage Quilt Guild for our charity collection

Iris joined me on my sew day.  She luxuriated in the sunshine and loves to be up on my big board.  She never jumps up there uninvited.  Sits politely on the floor and meows to be lifted.  Such a good girl!  But if there is a quilting project on the big board, she MUST lay on it!  This slowed me down once or twice as she took naps in the sun.  She doesn't always spend a lot of time around me during the day, prefering to sneak off for 'hidden' naps, so I really enjoyed her company.  Isn't she beautiful?  Her tummy is softer than ANY angora rabbit!
The all-day-sew was devoted to a couple of things; first, cut out and sew two quilts like the one above that will end up as 36" baby quilts for the neonatal care unit Great Lakes Heritage Quilters is giving quilts to.  I mostly used scraps from my bins that are pre-cut in certain strip sizes.  This saves time in some ways, but takes extra time in other ways.  YOU know what I mean!  It's a lot of cutting but well worth the effort for the great scrappy results.  I made the blocks for one slightly larger so it can finish at 36" with no border.  The other will have blocks the same size as above but I will add borders.  Hopefully these aren't too bright for new babies! 

So cutting, sorting, sewing into blocks, cutting them apart, and sewing them together again.  This is as far as I got, plus I made the two pillow cases to donate for children.  All told, I think I spent about 8 hours in the studio, a full day's work by any standard.

What a great way to spend a sunny winter day!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Too many snow days

It's not a 'normal' winter.  Some have said we've forgotten what winter is like, but the numbers clearly show that this winter in Michigan is anything but average.  We're heading up the list of 'top snowy winters'.  This gives more sewing time if we succumb to the weather & decide to stay in, which normally feels good (if  we have that luxury) but at this point I would gladly trade some of that stay-in time for some 'normal' running around and errands.  Can you say 'cabin fever'?  Why yes, I can!!

First off, after a lovely week in warm Key West, which at this point, 2 1/2 weeks later, I can ALMOST remember, I finished up this little quilt for my niece Abby, late January birthday.  She & her husband have a little trailer like this, and she LOVED it.  It's just a little quilt.  As soon as I saw the pattern on social media somewhere, I knew I had to make one for her.  I just drew it out, no pattern necessary, but thanks to whoever had the idea.
Then, my modern guild, Detroit Area Modern Quilt Guild (DAMQG), or, as we fondly like to say, the DAM Quilt Guild, had a fabric swap in January of a red/pink fabric, followed up by using some of that fabric to make a 10" finished block for a swap in February.  It was a lot fun to find something different and make this block.  This is mine, and below that, a picture of the collected blocks for the block 'lottery' drawing--winner took all.  I found a block by Weeks & Kerr (Modern Quilt Studio) in a book collection, but had to re-size it to fit our requirements.
The collected blocks were very cool, showing each person's unqiue talents and eye.  I particularly admire the paper-piecing, as I am paper-piecing challenged, or at least don't have enough skill to make it easier.  There are several in DAMQG that are very, very good at it.  Hopefully I will learn some tips from them.

Modern Quilt Guild's Riley Blake Fabric Challenge was due in mid February, so we had asked all in our guild who had done one to bring so we could see & get a group photo.  I have to say I wasn't really wild about the fabrics, but perhaps if I had actually given far more time, consideration, and added some other Riley Blake fabrics I really liked, I would have been more pleased with the results.  As it was, I decided to add a solid grey and play with a pattern that's been on my list to try, tumblers of two different sizes within the same piece.  I did really enjoy doing the quilting.  Nothing like a small piece that you can really move around easily.
The DAMQG quilters with their Riley Blake challenge items:
They did a great job, and this photo does not do justice to the work.  We were in a crowded room, with tables in the way, jockeying for position against a very busy backdrop of many many quilts (we meet at a quiltshop).

Then, also for a January birthdate  I just finished this quilt for my SIL, my husband's only sister.  I realized when I saw her last June that I had never made her a quilt.  Her style is very contemporary, her home interior very white, crisp & clean.  Her favorite colors black, white and turquoise.  Last summer I posted a photo of the fabrics I picked, and made the top, which was waiting to be completed.  Oh!  And she's a vet tech at a cats-only clinic and has 5 black & white (tuxedo) cats.  She calls her home the Tuxedo Ranch.  She's had a lot (LOT) of difficult things to contend with in her life the last few year years which continue & I thought she needed love the way us quilters express our love and wish for comfort.  It should be delivered Thursday (out of state, as is most of our family).
And because you can never have too many projects...... the DAM Quilt Guild decided to do "That DAM Quiltalong", a year long project.  Each month we will be given instructions for two blocks, varying sizes, which we make in our choice of fabrics and colors.  Eventually we will also get instructions for connecting blocks, and we will each put together our samplers in the style of the Gypsy Wife Quilt by Jen Kingswell of Amitie Textiles (Australia).  Here's my first two blocks.
I got really excited about this project when I went home & looked up The Gypsy Wife pattern.  How cute is this!!  Got one of my friends not in that guild excited enough that SHE went home, ordered it, and is going to put aside other projects to make one herself!  How's THAT for getting others to 'chase squirrels'!!!  Photo from Pinterest Westwood Acres, A Crafty  I love the soft coloring in this particular version and am aiming for similar results. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Magic Mojo

I think my sewing mojo is back, firmly in place.  First, the little projects I did last blog helped, then, as part of my Program directing at Great Lakes Heritage Quilters, we had two "Workshop UFO Sewing Days" Friday and Saturday.  Sewing all day long both days (except for a good deal of talking & visiting) was great fun & got me moving again.  I completed all but one of the needed arcs form my Wagon Wheel quilt.  that last set of arcs will be easy to kick out, then I will be on to piecing them together into the blocks.  That is a fabulous quilt pattern & seeing fabric & color choices of others making the same quilt was great fun.

As two days in a row of sewing most of the day weren't enough, Sunday I sewed some more.  I previously posted a baby quilt I was making for my daughter's friend, who had her first baby, a boy nicknamed 'Bertie', born earlier in December.  Some pattern issues, some quilting dyslexia, and I decided to make her another, which ends up being an additional quilt.  Small, 25X31, it's ideal for strollers or car seats.  I just 'winged it' & used strips from my scrapbox and green 'grunge' fabric for the background.  I love, love, LOVE it.  It quilted up quickly, using a simple, wavy lines method that softens its linear quality.
The two quilts are now boxed up & will be dropped at UPS today for their destination in Boise Idaho.  Daughter Katie says she is SO excited for her dear friend from her wonderful Writer's Workshop days and beyond, still good friends, to get the quilts for her baby.  Here are both of Bertie's  quilts:
As I've said before, and think most quilters would agree---baby quilts are the BEST.  So fun to make, small, do-able, instant (almost) gratification.  And after all of the fun of the choosing fabrics, design, piecing, quilting & binding, it then gets to be used for a BABY!

Sunday I also joined Instagram and the 'Economy Block quilt-Along' .  One of my 'modern friends', Vicky is doing it and her blocks are AMAZING--she really inspires me.  Her fabric choices are awesome & I would love to have them in my stash.  I think we need to fabric shop together!  I followed Red Pepper Quilt's instructions & am making the blocks at 5" finished.  Vicky's are larger (maybe 8"?)  to accommodate some of her novelty fabrics & they look great.  Her quilt will definitely go faster than mine.  Here is what I have so far, and a close-up of a few.  Novelty fabrics in the center, red for inside triangles & aqua fabrics for the block backgrounds.   I guess I should have made one more before photographing to have an evenly filled rectangle, but oh well!!
I love Rita Hodge's work, Red Pepper Quilts.  It's very colorful & fresh & she also has some great tutorials.  I'm a little torn about my blocks, as I love hers which is very scrappy & colorful,  but I decided to do mine with a more limited color palette.  But I plan on not using any of the aqua fabrics for the outer triangle mores than once.  We'll see....... I did start to add some other red fabrics (besides the solid) to make things more interesting.  I figure if I change my mind & want to go multi prints/colors, there's still time to do that.