Monday, May 19, 2014

Quilts to Give

Maybe you got excited when you saw my post title, but sorry---this is not a contest, not a give-away!  Just wanted to show you a couple of quilts I made for Great Lakes Heritage Quilters charity efforts.....Instead of spending my time getting ready a couple of weeks ago for the Grand Hotel, I was hurrying up and finishing these so I could turn them in at the guild meeting immediately after we got back from our trip.  It was worth it---our committe has done a great job this year and collected lots of quilts for many different groups.  I'm sure these folks will love getting them!

Here are the two, the bigger one on the right is about 54 X 65 (estimate) and the other is a baby quilt.  The back of the red & white chevrons is a block within a block, which was very fun.  The back of the baby quilt was a cute childrens print my friend Kathy gave up when de-stashing and makes a great cheerful backing for a child to enjoy.

Charity quilts are a great time to play & experiment with the quilting, there's no pressure, it all will be just fine & make someone happy.  So they were all quilted & binding done, turned in!

After I got back from the Grand Hotel, our Detroit Area Modern Quilt Guild (DAMQG), together with the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild (AAMQG) had a small applique class with Sarah Fielke at the Pink Castle Quilt Shop in Ann Arbor.  It's always fun to spend time with your friends, maybe even learning something new!  Or not.....
I got all my parts traced, cut out, glued down, ready to sew, and tried to pick up some tips in class.  I don't think there's hardly anything left in quilting that I haven't already tried ( at least once--maybe twice or 3 times!!) but never have felt the love for handwork.  LOVE my machine, and getting things done a little faster!  I have to say though, that I am actually enjoying some handwork.  I'm also doing some of the 'big stitch' quilting using either #8 perle cotton or Aurafil Mako 12 weight, but that is a little tougher on wrists and hands.

Hand applique is kind of nice.  I also have a baby quilt in the works (not showing it here just yet) that has some hand appliqued circles going on it, and it is definitely fun to have that kind of hand work.  I've used two different methods on those circles for applique.  First: trace your circle on fabric, cut it out with added seam allowance,  sew a basting stitch around,  put your cardboard template on it  and gently pull up til it gathers in & press.  Second, also using a cardboard template but with a piece of aluminum foil.  Put your circle drawn on fabric with seam allowance on to the foil, then your card board template.   Fold the foil up snugly, press, then take out when it has cooled.  I like both methods, and hand applique is then the best.  So much easier to get a nice soft circle.  If you press it again after removing the template, there are no nice soft folds to stich.  Everything is hard & flat, and any points (bad!!) are then firm, so I don't press it again after either of these methods til it is appliqued down.

During the class at Pink Castle, I picked up my May Stash Stack (red), as well as doing some other shopping for the 'enhancement of my stash'.  The new Anna Maria Horner line had just arrived, and was beautiful!!!  Stashes need refreshing or they are old and stale.  Don't let your stash get stale!!!  That's my advice of the day.  Stash enhancement is a good thing!  Nothing to feel guilty about there!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Quilty Fun

It's been a whirlwind ten days, beginning with a trip to the Needleworks Seminar at Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island.  Teachers this year were Lucy Neatby (knitting, Canada), Sarah Fielke (quilting, Australia), Susan Carlson (quilter, Maine) and Bonnie Hunter (quilter, North Carolina).  My 4th consecutive trip, DH with me.

I took a class with Sarah Fielke, as Bonnie Hunter was coming back downstate with me to teach at Great Lakes Heritage Quilters. 

Bonnie's lecture was a lot of fun and we had a new record-setting amount of guests----fifty!!  Plus 93 of our members (where were the rest, I was wondering!) We have 148, why were so many missing from this fantastic speaker?  Then two days of workshops, intermixed with running laundry after a trip, cleaning up the house.....We hadn't cooked a dinner at home in over a week until last night!!

Anyway.  I don't have time for a long post right now.  I still have to prep EIGHT YARDS OF BIAS for tomorrow morning, when I am being picked up at 6AM to go to Ann Arbor, meet 8 friends from Detroit Area Modern for breakfast, then another class with Sarah Fielke.

I promise a nice picture-filled post at the end of the week, but for now, will share some fabulous pictures my friend took at Bonnie Hunter's lecture at Great Lakes Heritage Quilters.   See Suzanne's pictures here.  Be SURE to look at these---they are amazingly beautiful quilts! 

Bonnie's workshops were a lot of fun, everyone had a great time.  What a fabulous end to my program year!!  (Credit to Suzanne for booking Bonnie Hunter, thank you so much, on behalf of all of us at the guild!)   Our workshops were so much fun this year---I loved how everyone would go to lunch together, mix and mingle, no one left behind!  It was an amazing year......Afterglow....

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Quilter's Folly?

Irons are a topic much debated amongst quilters.  Steam? No steam?  Which one?  Rowenta, that  revered German brand?  Oliso, that floats on the ironing board, so as to not burn your block if you leave the iron on it?  Dry irons--also very popular; either a heavy vintage one, or a new one?

I've had many---at least 3-4 Rowentas, a Sunbeam, Classic GE steam, and more recently a Continental Dry Iron, and a Euro Steam, which actually has a boiler inside.

I think every quilter has to, just once, buy a very expensive iron, preferably AT a quilt show, with friends who are also buying one.  Aren't those demos amazing?  Good God, can that iron be any better?  It's SOO wonderful, I MUST have one!!  That was the Euro Steam.  I LOVED it, was so excited, and thought it worked great for about 11.5 months.  Some friends that had gotten one weren't as happy with theirs, but I loved it.  It didn't distort my pieces, worked really well.    Then, long story short, had to get a new part from it's distributor.  Of course you'd want to pay $200 for an iron, wouldn't you only want the best for your garments? Ummm...I'm a QUILTER, bought it at a QUILT SHOW.... The disturbing part was their approach to their product.  If you sent it to them for a repair, there's a bench fee.  You pay shipping, repair could be expensive.  It didn' seem worth it.  If you chose NOT to pay for an expensive repair, you still had to pay bench, and return shipping if you wanted your iron back.  Expensive repairs?  On an iron?

My new part was mailed to me, free, 'as a courtesy' even though I was a titch past my one-year warranty (thank you for that!), and I think it took care of the steam leak issue I was having, but it just didn't seem to work as well.  Shouldn't a $200 iron last longer then a year?  Shouldn't it be a wonderful lifelong appliance?

BACK to using my cheap Black and Decker Classic.  Then, got a 'dry iron', the new ones seam more cheaply made, but we were happy together for awhile. Hmmm, I said to myself.  Went to Kohls, on a sale day, armed with a discount coupon to buy ANYTHING DIFFERENT THAN I'D ALREADY HAD.  Got this, took it home, works nice.  Seems like it could be hotter, but with water in it, works well.  Those steam holes don't distort, like the ones on my Black & Decker Classic, and the weirdly shaped (sort of duck-bill nose) is nice, doesn't pull, easy to get into places.  No big investment either, I think $39.99 on sale, plus a coupon discount.  Shark seems to be making a lot of good products, so we'll give it a whirl, see how long we are happy together.....(insert audio here, the Turtles, singing "Happy Together").....

The other thing that has a LOT of my attention right now is machine quilting.  Took a class thru a local guild with Natalia Bonner (see previous blog entry) and here are some samples from the class.  I think I was already the most advanced student in the room, not sure how much I learned, although Natalia tried.  Her quilts were fabulous, she's very sweet and got around to everyone,  demonstrating her designs on a white board, which was great in the classroom.  Some free motion feathers.  Not perfect, but soft & pleasing for the most part....

But it was a really fun day, class with a couple of friends from the Detroit Area Modern Quilt Guild, and a couple from Great Lakes Heritage Quilters, along with the Cameo Guild members, and someone from Oakland County Guild whose quilts I had seen & liked at their recent show.  A great part of taking a class is your classmates!

The week before the Natalia class, I started my Creative Quilting with your Walking Foot class that Jacquie Gering is teaching on Craftsy.  I'm thru maybe 4 lessons so far, and can't wait to get to 'Spiral Designs' with your walking foot!!!  It's a great class, I highly recommend it.  I actually finally purchased a walking foot for my Bernina 820, which has dual feed, so they say you don't really need the walking foot.  Which is why I waited so long.  Experienced quilters say, Yes, you should have it for that machine.  I went generic, as the foot for that machine now retails over $200.  The store where I got it would sell it to me for $165.  The generic, guaranteed by the ebay store I got it from, was $68.50.  It works great!  I did these straight line designs from Jacquie's class.  One is her famous 'matchstick quilting', absolutely crazy, straight lines quilted 1/4" apart (you can go 1/8 if you want to).  Notice that crazy halo of light?  Instagram!  But I do love this design!  It was fun...on this SMALL SAMPLE!

The other she calls a Spirograph design.  Even for a small sample, you need to be sure it is PERFECTLY basted, flat as can be. In some ways I think free motion quilting (FMQ) is infintely more forgiving than a walking foot, fun as they are.  Fun to mix both techniques.  'Why choose' as my brother Calvin would say!!!

Lastly, something cute I saw somewhere, don't remember where, so I can't give proper credit.  If you know where, let me know.  When you get your binding all cut, pressed and ready, you can wind it onto an empty spool for nice, neat storage before using.  How cute is this???!!
Heading off to the Grand Hotel today, taking classes with Sarah Fielke of Austrailia, then bringing home Bonnie Hunter for her lecture and classes at Great Lakes Heritage Quilters (see  Susan Carlson is also teaching at the Needleworks Seminar, and Lucy Neatby.  The weather might not be the best that far north, ferries have only just gotten back to regular schedule due to ice on the Great Lakes, but hey....its GRAND HOTEL, quilters, friends, great teachers, great food & wine, turn-down and a mint on my pillow every night.  I go with my best friend, my DH Michael.  We will dress for dinner every night and have cocktails in the Cupola Bar, overlooking the straits of Mackinaw, the grandest bridge of them all, and maybe some boats.

Not bad, my friend......not bad!!