Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tis the Season

Committing to writing on a regular basis seems to be very challenging for me.  November and December have been busy with finishing up sewing projects destined for Christmas gifts.  Some hand sewing with wool, some redwork, and some other un-named projects, yet to be gifted and super-secret right now.  Too much time spent shopping, wrapping, cleaning (well, once in awhile) and generally getting ready for the holidays.  Well....there is the time just plain-wasted on Facebook and other laptop time-gaggles.  Highlight of December is that all three of my kids (2 live on the west coast, one on the east coast) will be home, and we will all spend another holiday together.  Grateful for that......

But come January, back to the sewing room with a vengeance!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Jacquie Gering visits Great Lakes Heritage Quilters

I am 1st VP in charge of programs this year at my guild, Great Lakes Heritage Quilters, and so I get to imprint a little of what I'm interested in these days, and yet also please the membership.  We hosted Jacquie Gering in October and had two workshops with her; "Log Cabin Improvisation" and "Stitch & Flip Improvisation".  Both classes were full, which is amazing in the quilt world right now.  Most guilds struggle to get enough people into a class to break even.  We had quite a few guests, as word spread around the state that she was teaching in the area.

Jacquie's lecture was warm & from the heart, with lots of beautiful quilts.  I wasn't able to get photos as I ended being one of my own quilt holders----I barely got to see the quilts!  Luckily, she will be visiting another local guild in January, Cameo Quilters, so maybe I can sneak in, sit in the back, and enjoy myself there, with no program responsibilities.

The workshops had amazing energy and a very cohesive, friendly group of people.  Jacquie is one of the hardest working teachers I've seen in a long, long, time.  A lifelong educator and principal, her teaching skills are strong.  Organized, a people person, she moved around that room all day long, both days.  She had so much energy, enthusiasm & friendliness .  I caught her in mid-sentence here.  It doesn't hurt that she loves wearing my favorite color, chartreuse!  Flannel design walls were everywhere.
I loved her travel class samples, that have a grommet on each to attach to where ever.
Below is a little of work going on in the classroom.

At the end of the first day we took two pictures of the group, although I know a couple of people got out the door before I could corral them.  Our first was a nice, sedate, group picture.  The 2nd, we all showed the enthusiasm we had for our day with a loud "WHOO-HOO"!!

The 2nd day class was the Stitch & flip Improvisation.  My project is on the left,  as I actually took this class.  The first day I figured I would be far too busy being 'workshop coordinator, which was smart thinkin'!  The one on the right is Kathleen's, and I just love that background fabric she used.

Here is one of Jacquie's stitch & flips that she brought.
And finally the WHOO-HOO at the end of the day.  I even got in this one!

We had some nice dinners with quilters both modern and traditional, and talked about many things in our time together.  We talked about how those worlds merge (modern & traditional), how they have more in common than not, creativity & passion. 

I came out of that 4 days more impressed than ever with this wonderful teacher & person, grateful I had the chance to be part of it, and smiling, smiling, smiling, for days afterward.  I really enjoyed having this time to get to know a quilter who I am positive is going to have a large footprint in our world, the world that matters most to us, the world of quilting!

Thanks for visiting, Jacquie Gering!  Looking forward to seeing you again!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Return to blogging, or What I did on my Summer Vacation

Yes, I know it's been too long, so we won't linger on that issue.  Since last entry, I've finished at least 2 quilts and made a couple of mug rugs.  Mug Rugs are GREAT fun, and if you haven't made any yet, I highly recommend them!  Fast, satisfying quilty fun.  I also have an un-pictured quilt top in the works from a class at AQS Grand Rapids; machine piecing hexies with Jacquie Gering.

I was working on 'the Summer Quilt', which used the 15 degree wedge.  I had posted earlier a link for the technique I was going to use.  Anyway, that was great, scrappy, fun, & I really wanted it completed by September guild meetings.  It is beautiful & soft (silk batting), & was a lot of fun!

As I finished it, I was staring at a quilt on a quilt ladder in my studio.  It had been pinned for about eight years.  Yes.  I said EIGHT.  I decided I was IN THE MOOD TO MACHINE QUILT.  Pulled it, decided to see how far I could take it.  Turns out, I took it to the finish line.

These were traditional vintage applique patterns from a quilt museum, but I made it about the time I was tired of yellowy, muted colors & wanted to use COLOR.    It's lovely & was fun to quilt in a non-traditional way.

I had seen this fantastic typewriter block on facebook somewhere, and decided I HAD to make it into a mug rug for my oldest daughter, who is a writer.  It was a 12" paper-pieced block, so I had to reduce the size.  It still is a little larger for a mug rug at about 9", but that way she can have a great snack on it!  Our daughters were both going to be visiting Labor Day Weekend (but not our California son), so I decided to make each a mug rug.  I actually quilted the typewriter more after showing it to my friend, Modern Vicky.   She was right; it needed more quilting!  So this photo is BEFORE the additional quilting.  It's fun to quilt the bee-jayzus out of something small!  Plus, you want your mug rugs nice & FLAT.  Funny, someone contacted me after I posted this in the 'Just Us Quilters' group on Facebook.  She had a book coming out & wondered if I would make her one.  She wanted some swag items & would pay me.  I am not FOND of paper-piecing.  At least, not so far.  My friend, 'Modern Vicky' is FABULOUS at paper-piecing, absolutely amazing!  I love her work.  So maybe I will keep trying, just because she inspires me.  But, in the meantime.  Hmmm, how many hours did that mug rug take me?  5 hours to complete?  Do you think she'd pay me $100 for a mug rug?  I think not.  Daughter Katie is an amazing writer (check out Best American Short Stories 2008) and was given a vintage typewriter by a friend when she got her Masters in Creative Writing at the prestigious Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa.
The mug rug for my younger daughter is supposed to remind her of home, as I have a passion for blue & white dishes, and we always had some when she was growing up.  Emily worked in fashion in NYC & is now at an agency that specializes in creative solutions.  I wish I had cropped this photo so you don't see so much of my shiny table, but alas & alack, my technical skills are not huge.   Yet.   I'm learning, but it's slow.....
So that catches us up to about September 1st.

My next exciting project was bringing Jacquie Gering to my guild, Great Lakes Heritage Quilters.  That was amazing, inspiring fun, and deserves it's own entry, with photos.  So, my friends, you must wait a couple of days, and I will blog about that next........

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Summer is a great time of year in Michigan.  Or anywhere, I suppose.  But we particularly relish it here as we know changing colors await us in the fall, followed by a LONG winter.  Our winters in the Detroit Metro area haven't been terribly bad the last few years, but, just the same, it's not WARM then, we have less sunny days, you have to wear coats.  You get the idea.

But in the summer, you tend to be drawn to the outdoors.  Which means, as a quilter, that you may not sew quite as much.  Summer can be a time of vacations.  Last week I had a nice, short but sweet, vacay with my husband, enjoying some Pure Michigan, up on the Leelenau Peninsula, one of my favorite places right now.  The beaches we found were stunningly beautiful, the food was great, and some really nice wines are being made up there.

Time to think about sewing again.

Before that vacay, by July 4th, I was determined to quilt, bind, label & gift the quilt top I had made for my niece Sarah's 21st birthday, which was in May.  By the way, quilters are allowed to stretch a gift out into maybe 3 times of giving to the recipient----a box of fabric with a pattern, a finished top, and finally, the completed quilt.  This is perfectly acceptable!

The pattern is "Diamonds & Squares" by Kate Henderson, who has a blog entitled Two Little Banshees .  She's a young Australian quilter, and I love her use of color, large pieces & great fabrics.

First, got the backing made, batting cut to fit & the whole thing basted, using my old design wall in the basement.  There's some paper pinned to the wall around it, so that the spray fusible doesn't get onto the design wall.  Or the floor!

Then the machine quilting commenced.  Always just a BIT of a chore, getting into the mindset, figuring out HOW I want to quilt it.  I chose an overall pattern for this.  It's intended to be a quilt that gets used, cuddled under & washed.  A lot.

I found this design to be a lot of fun, very smooth & pleasing for FMQ.  I tend to enjoy curvy, flowing quilting.

All finished!  Although, oops, I was actually still sewing the binding on the back by hand, but had to get these pictures taken, and finish the binding in the car, on the way to giving the quilt, LOL!!

 I like washing it after quilting (to get that adhesive out), lay flat, block as necessary, then bind, once it's dry.  I've always loved the look of old quilts, so soft, washed a million times.   A little shrinkage is good & adds to the look. 

And, the back.  I used some quick pieced blocks down the middle, and a backing fabric with pink & green, which were, at one time at least, some of my nieces favorite colors.

A close up of the back.

 I'm on a quest right now to make sure all of my loved ones get new quilts from me.  Most of the nieces & nephews got quilts when they were born (if they are under the age of 26 or 27, which is how long I've been a quilter).  After being reminded in the last couple of years how unpredictable life can be, and your time here on earth, I'm in a hurry to make these quilts.

Sarah's sister, Lindsey, and her husband, Dave (who just had their first anniversary in May), got their quilt last fall.

This was a lot of fun too.  I used a Twister Ruler.  You cut squares, sew them together, add the border, then cut it apart, put those blocks back on your wall as you cut, sew them together again.  Voila!

Gotta go hit the sewing room, try to get my 'mojo' back!

Have a good week!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Round Robin & Other Sewing Projects

It's been a very busy couple of weeks, with lots of special family gatherings & need to finish projects.

First up: the quilt for I made for my niece Abby's wedding to her new husband J.R.  So searching just now, I find I took NO pictures of it after I finished it????!!!  WHAT!!!  I took a million of the next one.  Not sure how this happened.  I think I had it ready too early.  Showed it at guild in early May, all finished, sitting, ready to go.  But not photographed??  I have one photo of the top on my design wall, but not one after quilting.  Thankfully I did show it to my brother & his wife when they were visiting, and got this nice picture from him.  Plus, you get to see my adorable newphew!

 The pattern is from Tula Pink's book & is called "Stacks".  It was a lot of fun to make.  It's sewn in blocks that consist of 5 different pieces & you combine them in different, random ways.

Then, the pressure was on to get this group quilt quilted, bound & label made & attached..  My group, The Chickens, each made 2 improv log cabin blocks & a tree, all different.  I designed the arrangement & put it together.  Our friend & member, Jackie, celebrates a big birthday in the fall, and since most of The Chickens would be in one place at the same time, we gave it to her early.  Alas, I could not be there, busy with several family events, but I was told she was very touched & loved the quilt.  She called me from Torch Lake to thank me for my work on it.  The block at the bottom right hand side was made by Diane Ladue to represent Torch Lake.  It has graduating shades of blue to represent a very deep and long lake.  I thought it fitting that the trees be 'around' the lake.  Don't you just love how quilts look photographed outside?  Nothing quite like natural lighting & green grass, trees & shrubs!

Below are blocks I continue to work on from a workshop with Anita Grossman Solomon, "Arrowhead".  She has a great technique for this where you sew two pieces of fabric together & then cut it in a particular way to get the block pieces, which are then assembled & trimmed to size.  It's very fun!

Finally, a lesson in 'don't wait til the last minute'.  My Modern Quilting Group, Detroit Area Modern (DAM) Quilt Guild, has an on-going Round Robin Exchange.  These projects are stored in pizza boxes donated by our wonderful local quilt shop owner Nanci Merecki of Guildcrafters , who is also a member of this chapter.  She's been a big support, allowing us to meet at her shop for free & also we will now have some sewing days there as a guild, also for FREE!

Participants in the Round Robin came with a starting piece (I wrote about this event in an earlier post & showed my 'start') and they are being exchanged each month.  You do whatever type of 'add' to it that you would like, be it a border, blocks or round.  I got this one on the 2nd exchange & was quite frankly flummoxed.   Well, at first I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do.  It didn't work the way I hoped it would.  Twice.  I was well on my way to a 3rd attempt of the SAME IDEA, when my husband's words rang in my ears.  "Well at least you know what DOESN'T work & can stop banging your head on that wall" and gave me a 'work' story about how they go through that process all the time. Sometimes things people say to me have to 'set' awhile in my head.  Then comes the famous 'a-ha moment'.   At last.  Duh!

So the other funny thing here is the pizza boxes for storage.  I heard about this idea many, many years ago & have done it, but not for awhile.  They are a great size for storing a project, and if you have blocks, the boxes are large enough to not have to fold the blocks.  You can write on top or the side the project name & they are great to store.

BUT.  They are PIZZA boxes.  We were also having a potluck that night, so we hurried in from the parking lotfor our potluck, each clutching a dish to pass & our project pizza box.  But we ALL mentioned a longing for pizza that the boxes made us feel---what, NO PIZZA?????

So once his words sunk in, I did some more idea brainstorming & came up with this addition, the tree & bird I appliqued to the left side.  Voila!!!  Now I was a happy camper!!

 Since my main purpose in blogging is talking about the creative process, it's a good time to discuss that process as it went here.

First, I hit the books.  Got out some of those beautiful books I just HAD to have & flipped through them.  Looked at layouts, block ideas etc.  A small kernel of an idea.  THEN.  On to Pinterest.  Did you know you can search there for a topic?  I searched 'garden quilts' first & came up with lots of photos.  The important thing to note, is I don't COPY anything.  I use it for INSPIRATION. Hmm....birdhouses....hmmm....birds..... Look at layouts, blocks, border ideas.  Then start drawing.  I ended up happy with what I drew out & figured out how I was going to actually make it.  Nothing fancy, no Baltimore Applique here.  I wanted fresh, fun, modern, clean.  I thought the paper piecing was beautiful, but precise & detail oriented & that the next step needed to create some empty space, be a larger, simpler design.  I think it worked well.

But don't do it at the last minute.  Too much pressure!!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Gifting love

In the face of  recent events, quilters reach out by doing what we do.  Projects to show Boston some love & empathy have been in the works.  Quilts For Boston and To Boston With Love.  Quickly followed after the tragic events in Oklahoma, Quilts for Oklahoma or as I saw it described somewhere "Moore Love".

Boston Modern Quilt Guild began collecting blocks in blue, yellow, gray & white, to assemble into quilts that would benefit those most directly by the blast.  They hope to begin distributing these by summer.  At last count they had an astounding 1,267 blocks.  I sent a couple that I posted earlier & having been watching their blog to see their progress.  It looks like they have an amazing group of members.  Here are some photos from their blog, you can follow link above to view more.

Boston Modern Quilt Guild




I was fascinated with the "To Boston With Love" flag exhibit .  Boston Museum of Fine Arts is open to the public over the Memorial Holiday with no admission charge.  The complete story of an online friendship culminating with this exhibit is on this link and certainly expands our idea of community.  1500 flags,a one mile-long outpouring of love & support from the world---all continents sent additions, except Antarctica. photo of the tying process

Photo from During Quiet Time blogspot

Photo from Fresh Lemons blogspot

Amy Friend's photo, co-organizer of exhibit

My flag
Now quilters all over are busy making quilts for the children & families in Oklahoma, with their homes devastated by the monster Tornado that passed through in the past week.  They certainly have need of whatever help we can offer.  Their need for the most basic things, water, food, & shelter, will be on many minds.  More on this in the weeks ahead.

The important thing about this is that whenever we 'gift' quilt blocks, or a quilt, is not that we are giving just fabric, a quilt, a cover or blanket.  We are gifting a part of ourselves, giving our love, our comfort.  We may also be covering you with warmth in a practical way, but we are also covering you with the warmth of our hearts, hands & love.    It is important to me, that others understand what it is that we are giving.  If someone were to think, oh, so-and-so just gave me this quilt, not a crystal vase or a necklace, it would be such a shame. Not to mention that buying something would be SO much easier.   Quilting is a gift of the heart & soul, the ultimate in sharing for us Quilters.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Baby quilts Gifted

Back in February/March, I made three baby quilts for grandbabies of friends of mine.  I think of the 3, this one was my favorite, probably because I had been wanting to do the pattern for quite awhile.  But I love them all, and I think baby quilts are the most fun to make.  Pretty fast, small, easy, and quick gratification.  PLUS: they are for BABIES!!  Mom and Dad of this one now have two children, an adorable little boy and new baby girl.

This one I am going to enter into a Bloggers Quilt Show Blogger's Spring Quilt Show by Amy's Creative Side.
This is the first time I have entered one into this very fun virtual quilt show, and I am a newbie blogger.  But a longtime quilter...... I sure enjoyed the show over there--be sure to check it out!

The one below went to a baby born in Ireland.  LOVE this pattern.  These parents were very excited to welcome their second son.

Mom of this baby lives locally & is a teacher.  She is such a sweetie, and now proud Mom of two kids, a boy and the newest, a baby girl.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Round Robin Challenge

Detroit Area Modern Quilt Guild met last night and we shared our first round on our Round Robin challenge.

Members who wanted to participate brought a block last month.  They were put into new, clean pizza boxes, and we passed them to the person on our right, who took it home to add something to it.  We were all very excited to see what had happened to those blocks in the last month.  Unfortunately, I wasn't taking lots of photos last night, not sure they would want me to.  Plus it would destory the rhythm & excitement of the presentation.

Everyone did a great job, I think!  They were then exchanged again.  Over the summer, we will have them from June til fall to complete, a little extra time due to our summer break.  Owners can keep them circulating in the exchange as long as they want, or pull theirs out if they have a month they think they will be too busy to work on them or feel there project is big enough.

This is the block I worked on.  I started with the small square in the center of the star.  It is 'made' fabric, 4" (finished size), from some beautiful original feedsack materials from the 1920's---30's.  I LOVE those fabrics, but was concerned the quilt could take a decided 'pastel' look if not careful.  Red is currently one of my favorite go-to fabrics, so, using white background, I added wonky points to make the block into a star. 

Then I added a 'stack' of blocks in solids to the side.  Last, along the bottom I added some very small half square triangles that were leftovers from another quilt I made.  I then put those half squares next to my sewing machine & put them through as 'leaders & enders', working on them at the same time as another project.  I think they finish at 3/4".  I LOVE how it turned out, and think the owner did too.

From the exchange, I brought home this one to work on & take back in early June.

The owner called the blue & orange center blocks 'butterflies', and the person who did the next round added some beautiful paper-pieced blocks with the light background.  I think garden is the theme.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

More Unfinished Business (UFB's)

As I inventoried, I took photos of some of the things I need to finish, in their various states of 'unfinishedness' (is that really a word?).

LOVE this pattern but haven't done anything with it yet.  But I will....

Current project on my wall, "Stacks" pattern by Tula Pink, but I had to do lots of MATH to bring it down to a more reasonable block size.  Hers was 18", and I just didn't want the finished quilt to be as large as hers, yet I still wanted the same number of blocks and rows to get the same look.  LOVE this!  I have all the blocks done now, although they are not in this picture.  This quilt be done by June & I will post completed picture.

No further comment on the one below, other than the caption.  It has an undecided future.
Guild block of the month.

LOVE!  Spider web using selvages.  Definitely will finish!!

Iris LOVES this!  Can't you see how excited she is?!!  Is it the bright colors?  The geometric design??  I don't know, but she ALWAYS love when I put a quilt top or quilt on the floor.  She runs around on top, pounces, dives underneath, then frequently falls asleep in the middle of it, as her efforts were SOOOOO taxing and exhausting.  Ahhh, the life of a cat!!!   Kind of like the toddler, falling asleep in the middle of play.  Reminds me of a funny picture my brother took of his son, asleep in his dinner plate, atop a tall barstool.  How he stayed up there, I don't know, because he was SOUND asleep...... he had played so hard all day.  So cute!!!

I think it needs to be larger.  Didn't use for purpose originally intended, but it will go forward at some point for someone or something.  Great pattern, I think the book was 'Sizzling 60's', as in 60 degrees. 

Now to a few projects in boxes, neat labeled, stacked on the shelf in my studio.

Below is a 'Chippewa Nine Patch' that I started in a class with Minnick & Simpson at the Grand Hotel, May 2011.   Beautiful!

When Edyta Sitar  visited Cameo Quilt Guild & taught this class, it was the 2nd class I had with her, the first being when she visited my guild, Great Lakes Heritage Quilters sometime prior.   She is a fantastic teacher, full of energy & excitement for quilting.  I think I only need to make maybe 10 more of these blocks to finish the top.  I purchased a beautiful roll of fabric from her in class that I am using for this project.  We actually made table runners of the pattern in class, then I HAD to make a whole quilt.

Some of the Chickens (see previous blog entry if you have no clue who or what 'chickens' are) did a year along exchange of Shoo Fly blocks, using shirtings and any type of blue.  Can't remember how many I ended up with, but it's MANY, MANY blocks.  Project on the back burner for now, but I have a setting idea for the blocks ready to put into action.

Last to look at today is a box I started up based on Gwen Marston.  I wanted to keep together things left over from projects that I may want to use someday.  She calls doing this 'The Parts Department'.  I also have been 'making fabric', maybe 8-10",  in the style of Victoria Findlay Wolfe using scraps from the garbage or from one of my scrap containers, so those are a perfect additition to the "Parts Department for future to use. 'Orphan' blocks can go here too--something that was fun to make but has no purpose, so far.

Looking at all those pictures makes me want to sew!