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!


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Baby Quilt with Elizabeth Hartman pattern: Post TWO

We had a niece expecting a girl at the end of March, so I wanted to make a fun, feminine baby quilt for her.  Got out Elizabeth Hartman's The Kittens.  It is a larger quilt, so I had to decide how big I wanted mine to be and draft up a plan.  I decided a 3 x 4 layout of 12 blocks would be perfect.  It threw me off a little that the blocks are not square, they are rectangular, so the final borders I used were 4" on the sides, but just 2" on the bottom, otherwise it was going to be too long for what I wanted.  Mine ended up 36" x 50".

I pulled a palette of pinks, fuschia and purple, little bit of orange, and a tiny bit of blue, just for fun.  Then, I got to cutting.  Cut the WHOLE thing out on a weekend, after pairing up some fabrics.  During the week, I started sewing, maybe two blocks at a sitting, in the evening.  Then, my DH was gone on a business trip, so NO requirements on me other than sewing.   Over the weekend I got all the rest of the blocks sewn & started assembly.  Here is a close-up in progress, after attaching the first pair of glasses.  Which were the MOST fun!!



I was showing friends some pictures of quilts by Laura Heine, her business is called Fiber Works in Billings Montana, because I have a class coming up with her.  Her work & patterns are AMAZING; she does floral collage & painterly strips collage, but her color-sense is incredible & her fabric picks are right up my alley.  When she has these beautiful pieces quilted, she uses a simple grid & very flat batting.  The grid is a little uneven, so some of it might look like squares, and some like rectangles.  It is very close together.  She knows that for her patterns, the quilting is just to hold it together, stay quietly in the background, doesn't need to be fancy.  You want to look at her beautiful design, let it shine.  So I thought, hey----that's how I want to quilt this!

By Sunday afternoon, it was spray-basted & ready to go.  I used Quilters Dream Poly, the loft of that is 'Request', their thinnest.  It's a wonderful poly (don't make that face, poly isn't what it used to be!!!) I began quilting it, using the walking foot, but I did attach my guide to keep the lines fairly even, then I just threw in some extra lines, to get the spacing different, just occasionally.  This goes really fast, very minimal marking.  Just one line to start, and then maybe two more times I marked a line, because I got a little off.  The guide is amazing, and to think, for years I didn't use it!  At all.  BIG mistake.  HUGE.  USE IT.

After watching (sort of) the Super Bowl with my sister & her daughter (my sweet niece who shares my Halloween birthday) I went back into the sewing room, and quilted til after midnight.  Once my eyes weren't focusing anymore, I went to bed, got up the next day & repeated.  Quilted by noon the next day, then got the binding on.   Here's a close-up----




And we had a beautiful sunny day, so I could go outside to photograph it on the fence!  And I was just saying I was lousy with deadlines.  EARLY.  Ready.  In just ONE week.

I also love making smaller quilts for use in the stroller or car seat when baby is small.  A nice size is 20" X 24" or so.   Then, when baby gets bigger, they could use that quilt for their dolls or stuffed animals!!  I made this using the scraps from The Kitten Quilt.

It is a simplified pinwheel pattern, with negative space.  I love how they look like they are falling!  The blocks are 4" and I have no idea where I saw the block, but I sketched it out in my 'ideas' book and it sure came in handy here.

Look how sweet they look together!


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

UPDATED

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!!



Voila!!

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.