Sunday, February 19, 2017

Quiltcon 2017 - Savannah Georgia

Quiltcon East is rapidly approaching in Savannah, Georgia.  It is Feb. 23-26, 2017.  There is a large, extremely juried exhibit of 'modern' quilts, vendors, classes & lectures.  And Instagram friends from all over the world.  I last went to the one held in Austin, Texas, February 2015 and had the BEST time.

It's stressful getting signed up for classes, they fill quickly and it is extremely challenging.  I am signed up for two half-day classes, one on Sashiko (Japanese stitching) and the other is Cat Faces with Melissa Averinos.  It was a HOT class, filling quickly, and someone I know saw the class in progress at Quiltcon West last year, and she says it looked like SOOOO much fun.  I am all for fun!

Here is the promotional pic from Melissa's page (link above)

I am so excited for this class!  Plus, I am wait-listed for Swirls & Spirals, machine quilting with the amazing Christa Watson.  The aforementioned trouble with registration prevented me from getting the class successfully put in my 'shopping cart' and checked-out, so I was forced to wait-list.  I have been assured there is plenty of movement on the wait-list, so I will have fingers crossed and class supplies packed and ready.  Cross your fingers for me too, if you would.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

No wait.  I meant to say, nevertheless, I will have a great time, but will have to watch out for those cobblestone streets.  I'm in no shape for those, and cannot handle them.  Watch for Instagram posts!!!

Here's to Quiltcon East and wonderful friends & fun!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Baby Quilts with Elizabeth Hartman Patterns: Post ONE

Started a baby quilt at a retreat, the end of October, then, didn't touch it again til January.  But once I got going again, it flew along.  I was making baby-sized Fancy Forest by Elizabeth Hartman.  That size is a quarter-panel of the larger quilt.  Her patterns are great, I would highly recommend them!  There is a lot of marking and cutting, so you have to be organized.  They are not difficult but do take some time.  I pulled my palette, cut out blocks, then put them in zip-lock bags.  You make 2,3 or 4 of each block design, so the bags had the same blocks packed together.  This was a very easy way to organize them, and then stitch all of the same block at one time.

My daughter's dear friend, expecting a boy, had a 'woodland' theme picked for the baby's room, and as I looked at patterns, I thought---well I HAVE to do this for her!  Colors were blues, greys and white.  Here are some of the blocks as they were in progress.

I used a really pretty Peppered Cotton (a shot cotton) for the background, plus the other fabrics I pulled for the blocks.  Here it is, all finished-----------

 The quilting, up close.  It's a nice all-over, done in rows, with my fave, Superior So-Fine Thread (which I love for machine quilting), Bottom Line in the bobbin, in a neutral, to blend as much as possible.

I gifted it in late January, and she was thrilled.  It's really fun to pull out patterns you have always wanted to make.  It's a "two-fer".  You have a lot fun, they get a great gift!

Meanwhile, I'm leaving for Quiltcon, so of course, two weeks before, I twisted my foot in rough parking lot blacktop, in the dark, after rain.

Could be a fracture, it needs to be x-rayed  again tomorrow.  There was a suspicious area, but the first x-ray wasn't definitive, so a re-check is needed.  The bruising  still looks about the same as the picture.  My feet are quite flat, so if I wear a shoe, the part where the foot should shape to the sole is the really sore part, so there are almost no shoes I can wear right now.

Let's hope for some quick healing, the clock's a ticking!!!!

P.S.  Baby boy and his Mom are doing well, he was born last week.  Congratulations to all the family!

Friday, February 10, 2017


My creativity has frankly been rather stymied since the election in November, but we'll leave that smelly fish right there where it lies.  It's been a challenge in self-care to get moving again, creatively speaking.  Current projects left me frozen & uninspired (except for some English paper piecing).  While cleaning up my studio, I found my beautiful, Massdrop purchased wafer-thin natural-light lightbox.    I had gotten rid of the box it came in, which was way too oversized for my shelves.  So its method of storage and protection has been to be wrapped up in 2 layers of cotton batting, then tied with fabric selvages.  Tacky.  Unsightly.  Well, that just wouldn't do!  So I thought, OK, I'll make a quick and easy case for it.  That gets me sewing again.

I did a Google web search, and found this FREE pattern from Sew Can She for an iPad sleeve, inspired by a Vera Bradley bag, and changed the dimensions to fit my light-box.  It worked out quite well, and now I have a stylish , nice-fitting sleeve & can slide it onto my shelf for storage.  It has Annie's Soft and Stable inside, which I highly recommend using inside any bag or basket you make, rather than batting.  Some friends, who are EXCELLENT bag makers, told me to always use it, and they are right.

I also made a little velcro-closure cord-keeper, as the power cord for it is too bulky for storing in any case.  That has a left-over scrap of Soft & Stable inside & a coordinating fabric to my bag.  I LOVE cord-keepers, and have made quite a few.  The first ones had batting in, but the Soft & Stable has much better body, while staying soft.  Interfacing can be too stiff or too thin.  You want thecord keeper to have soft body.  I use cord keepers for my phone charger cord & my Kindle charger.  Keeps things nice & tidy, especially while traveling.  Easy to throw your cord in your purse that way.

When making your bag, remember that if your case is larger or smaller, you will need to alter the zipper size you use.  The size listed on the pattern is for the iPad sized case.   Going bigger allows room for miscalculating, and then cut away any extra length before sewing those last interior seams.

The outside can be one piece of fabric & quilted, like I did, because this Japanese fabric is TOO darn cute to cut up, OR you could piece a mini quilt, quilt it, then cut it into the two pieces that you need.  You could even do just a smaller amount of piecing or pieced strip set into a larger piece of pretty fabric on one side or both.  So think about that.  You could make this sleeve for Kindle, iPad, other tablets, or a laptop or any other flatish device.  I thought this amount of cushioning was nice (one layer of Soft & Stable) but you could double it, or use one layer of that & add a layer of batting, for extra protection.

Here's a glimpse of the inside.  Pick fun fabrics, the more, the better.  You at least need 3 for the top, a lining fabric & binding fabric.

As to the cord-keepers, here is a link to the pattern I used, by Leafy Treetop.  Really easy & very useful.  They make cute little gifts too.  You could even use them for cords that are too long on your appliances, like a TV or lamp.  They are HANDY DANDY, and you need some!

Have a great week and remember to SEW for your MENTAL HEALTH!!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Scraps ONLY

First of all, Yes---The Coffee Cup photo-to-quilt project is done.  The top---all appliqued.  I LOVE it.  Love, love, love it.  Next up for that is getting the perfect backing, and then quilting it.  So you'll have to wait a bit more.

But in the middle of 4 or 5 other things, I decided I had to make a 'Scraps Only' challenge project that an Instagram group was doing.  So I pushed things aside, and got out my scrap bags.  I have a basket where I toss scraps & I had color sorted those not too long ago, into zip lock bags.  I also have scraps cut up (a la Bonnie Hunter) into 1.5" strips, 2", 2.5", 3" strips.  Those are stored in boxes or bins.  For this project, I only went into the bags of pieces, sorted by color.

Felt a craving to make courthouse steps, was thinking pink & a baby quilt.  But the baby in question is a boy.  And the GREEN scrap bag was pretty big.  To start with.  And the bag of low volume neutrals, mostly creamy backgrounds.  PLUS--it would be OK to start something new if there was an immediate purpose for it, and a quick finish.

Swept everything aside off the cutting table, spent a couple hours cutting 1.5"strips. The next evening, I made sixteen 9" blocks.  That made a top that was 36".  I wanted it more rectangular & decided to add baby's name & year he was born.  I've been working on making some letters for another project, so I could use those.  The letters look like MY writing, which is nice.   I also made a bunch of flying geese in different size, dipped in to the purple scrap bag too.

Two days later, I started quilting it.

Big quilted spiral from the center through all the courthouse step blocks, to the edges, then some special quilting in some other parts of it.

The scary thing about the project was just how much we could actually make out of our scraps.  Not to mention the over-flowing abundance of our actual fabric shelves.  Using scraps is a fun limitation----you must use what is IN the bags, make it work.  I think just from my color sorted bags alone, I could easily make a twin quilt or a couple more baby quilts, at least.  The entire top was scraps, including binding.  I love scrappy & get bored quickly with a more limited selection of fabrics.  Plus, even as pretty as a collection is, it usually seems a little flat without mixing other fabrics in.  How could you express your personality in a quilt without doing some of your own mixing?

  Do you keep your scraps?  How do you sort & store them?

Friday, September 30, 2016

Splendid Sampler Progress

Frankly, I've gotten quite behind on the Splendid Sampler.  Remember those first weeks?  We were so excited.  We just couldn't wait for Sunday and Thursday to come.  Ran to the computer or phone, first thing---is it there yet, is it there?  Print it, run to the sewing room, cut & sew!!!  Pat Sloan told us, calm done, it's not a race!  Oh, if we had just listened!

But then other things came along.  Other projects. Taking our time and attention.  Hey, it's just ONE block a day right?  For 100 days?  I can TOTALLY keep on top of that.  Ha.

Anyway, I digress.  Once a squirrel, always a squirrel!  No use fighting it.  Squirrels got BALANCE!  They can handle it!

Played a little catch up.

Ok, top left.  HATED it.  Not, I don't really care for it.  I found it disturbing.  So I re-did that block.  Much better, right?  Well it makes me happier!

While I was playing catch up, I got all the blocks out & put them up on a design wall.  They hadn't all been together on a wall in a long time!

52 blocks done.  Still behind.......sigh..... but not gonna sweat it.

It's about the road.  Not the destination.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Studio Organization takes a HUGE step forward!

Our basement has been getting some finishing done, and our carpenter was going to install some slat wall on a 12' long wall in the laundry room.  2 of his guys came to do it, and I was so jealous of my laundry.  I thought---geez, I've been thinking about that for my studio since wonderful organization expert Mary Dykstra spoke at Great Lakes Heritage Quilters last year.  She has actually organized sewing studios before & knew quite a bit about it.  One of her favorite things is to use either pegboard system or slat wall (her top choice) and get things up on the wall & off the table.  I had debated & then decided slatwall was my first choice.  And some day...some day....Mike and I would get some and hang it.

As they were downstairs working, I thought, hey!  Wait a minute!  I have carpenters doing things for me!  They could get and hang that for me!  No struggling & planning for Mike & I!  Professionals!  Duh.

So I did!  Texted the boss man- Jim, and one of the guys, Chris,  measured before they left.that same day.  Jim Becker , who owns Jobecks Designs, had done our kitchen remodel some years ago.  Just three days later they installed a wall for me that is approximately 5' X 4', big enough to run the length of my cutting wall.  It's all framed in very pretty--I know for sure Mike & I wouldn't/couldn't have done that!

I forgot to take a BEFORE pic when taking everything down in prep, but did find this older pic, which shows at least part of my cutting tables:

 That picture only shows about HALF of the table top.  There was another organizer that held lots more stuff on the far left, not shown.

Took it all down, everything off the top.  All ready!!


Just starting to hang some things up.  Organizing is fun, but messy
Close up, after most of the hanging up was done---there are two of my favorites, the magnetic tool strip & the little compartment bins.  The small plastic buckets are great too

And look---the top is CLEARED for cutting!
I used the wonderful world-wide web to look for products.  Amazon was my chief source.  Home Depot carries some things, but not in the store, and many of those are aimed at garage organizing.  Some of the garage things work, but they tend to be very large hooks, aimed at holding large heavy items, like bikes & hoses, and tools.   

The trick is figuring out what's going to go on the wall, & what's the best way for it to go there.  I did email Mary Dykstra for a few suggestions & she was very helpful.  Things like pencils or marking tools are best in a small container sitting on a shelf.  There are lots of wonderful shelves--I got a set of three 10" long acrylic shelves.  The clear acrylic is wonderful, you can see what's in it (or on it, as they case may be).  I also have a longer shelf, 24" wide, 4" deep, with closed ends, that I put things in near the top, small jars, more decorative things.  A great 6" acrylic square bin holds my perle cottons & embroidery threads.  Stored up top, cuz I don't use them a lot---I can climb once in awhile!

Amazon had as a vendor a place called Retail Resource.  Their quality was very good & they were very fast, so the next time I ordered from them, I ordered directly & saved a little money.

Some of my favorite:  The magnetic tool strip---going to have four of these altogether, remember I am buying for TWO slat walls, the basement & my studio.  It's nice to be able to order more, see how you can use, how well does it suit your purpose.  If I can't use it one place, I can probably use it in the  other.  The magnetic tool strip holds scissors, both for paper & for fabric, drawing compass, & magnetic pincushion.  Plastic bins of different sizes.  Acrylic Magazine rack, although the one I got (not from Retail Resource) had the part that tips into the slat wall come off immediately--dismaying.  I re-glued it & am hoping for the best.  Meanwhile, I am waiting a couple of wire baskets that go in to the slatwall that might be better for patterns or books I want close at hand.  Those little acrylic boxes divided into 4 compartments each--great for small stuff!  The 10" shelves were wonderful.

One of the nice things about slatwall is that you can slide the container over a bit if it's not quite where you want it.  If you want it higher or lower, you do have to take it out & move it.  On pegboard, the item MUST come out all the way and get re-stuck in the proper holes.  That's one of the reasons I liked the slat wall systems better, just tip it in, slide it over.   I worried that it would be hard to GET the things to go in the slat wall, pegboard being maybe more universal.  But it was very easy peasy & there are lots of great products.    Just ask my UPS deliveryman---he's been here a lot lately!!

Best of all, I can move things around as my needs or wants change.  It will be a work in progress.  Wait,  Oh no.  ANOTHER WIP???  But in a good way.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

New Projects: PROJECT TWO

I had noticed a new QAL (Quilt-Along to the uninitiated) on Instagram.  Quilters (organized by an Australian quilter/blogger, of course) started August 17th.  It's from  Tula Pink's book, City Sampler, which has100 original block designs, 6" finished.  Interested quilters are making & posting just one block per day on each of the days, for 100 days. The idea is to actually sew one block per day, consistently getting in to your sewing room. But obviously you can work ahead if you want to.

There are prizes.  You have to use certain hashtags and follow certain people or sponsors to be eligible, and you MUST post the block the day it's due, in your time zone (even if you sew ahead).  So if you jump in late, like I did, start with the block that's due, post on Instagram as required, each day.  Do your catch-up when you are able, as you can, but if you start at block one and try to catch up, it's just not going to work.  So do as I say-----start current, post & keep current, do the other blocks when you can.   This is good advice for any QAL, and it's what Pat Sloan suggests for The Splendid Sampler.  (Yes, I'm still doing that too!!).

I posted 4 of the 'back' blocks the others had already done in a collage on Instagram---they won't be eligible for prizes anyway, so doing that is far easier.  I do like to share my work, plus, using my OWN hashtag, I can go in and see all blocks I have made in one place, under that hashtag, together.  See Angie's page for all the info, and she has all the dates & hashtags etc, if you care about that and want to jump in, prize eligible.  Angie, the Gnome Angel.

Here are some of mine.  I'm using shot cotton solids, and the Fibs & Fairytales Collection by Anna Marie Horner.  It was all tied up in a bundle,  and wanted to go FREE! So I let it loose.

Clockwise, from top, blocks 12, 11, 10 & 9

block 13, day 13

block 14, day 14

So right now, maybe you're asking yourself, 'How does she DO it, how does she balance ALL THOSE PROJECTS"??????

Well.  I juggle a lot.  A LOT.  But it IS fun to have things in various states, so that if you feel like piecing, you have some piecing.  If you feel like quilting, you have a top to quilt.  If you want to cut, you can do some cutting.  It can't bother you to have a lot of stuff in progress.  You have to be good with that.  You decide what MUST be done by the 15th, say that quilt you are taking to a shower.  But other stuff may not be completed for a long time.  And that's OK.  and I'm always, always, finishing things.

SO,  you MUST stay organized!!  Everything you need for a project has stay together.  Like thus.

I just freed up this basket from the Coffee Cup Photo Quilt, so I decided to put everything for the #100Days100Blocks in here.  I often use the 12" stackable plastic totes, but didn't have one free.  Plus, I am getting this out every day.   In it is:  the book, which I need for the patterns; the fabrics I pulled, shot cottons in blues, greens, fuschia & a titch (technical term) of lime;  scraps in a ziplock bag (cuz I will use those scraps as I go); the blocks are in a zippered 8 1/2" by 11" clear office pouch from The Container Store.  Bought a pack, just KNEW I'd find a perfect use.

Personally, I must try to stay as tidy as I can.  If I go in the studio, and it's a mess, I just cannot function.  Don't want to.  Might turn & leave.  Too much=TOO MUCH.  So I try to straighten up, often.  But it's not easy.  I have a LOT of stuff, as maybe you do too.  And I have extra in my room because we are doing some re-modeling in the basement, after having it waterproofed, so I had to have stuff I normally store downstairs, UPstairs, in the studio.  Ugh.

I've learned that enough once it becomes a  quilt top & goes on a hanger, pin to it your info, maybe you drew out the backing or other info.  Put the backing fabric on the hanger, put the binding fabric there.  If you pull it out two years later, you might think-----I bought the PERFECT binding fabric for that, where did it go?  If it's on the hanger with it, you're good to pick up & move forward.

Being organized is a lifesaver.  For me, it is necessary.  We all have our OWN comfort levels for how messy our work-space can be, so ask yourself---do you know what this level is for you?  If you can work with a lot of stuff out, that's fine.  But if you're avoiding your room, maybe it's because you're like me.  Then.... CLEAN. IT. UP.

 (photo found on Pinterest, and God help me, I found a WHOLE fun page of squirrels.....)