Spring in the Air

We all get them, you know the incentive patterns that come with the invitations to subscribe to the quilting magazines.  Some are pretty basic, others enticing, but this one I saved.  I saved it for a couple of years.  And oh yes, I did subscribe to the magazine.

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The name of the free gift pattern is Now and Later.  It is beginner friendly and is a great opportunity to showcase whatever fabrics you collect.  Some of us collect a couple of things.  But it’s a good idea to start with ONE.

Most of the winter I had worked with ties, and dark and masculine colors (read brown and blue).  My collection of thirties fabrics was calling to me and of course it made this a no-brainer.  It was a joyful labor of love cutting out the fabrics.  Then with the smaller pieces I cut for a baby or dolly blanket to match.  This was probably my very favorite part of the process, handling and cutting the rectangles, and revisiting the fabrics that took me decades to collect.

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I even enjoyed attaching the little white squares to the rectangles.  Truly therapeutic, mindless piecework, that after a few hours results in a nice little stack of units.

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Next came putting them together as a cohesive unit.  It was fun to play with the units on the design wall.  I put them up I took them down, and repeat.  Finally, I settled on a layout.

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Then it happened, I started sewing the units together, into bigger units, then rows, and more units and rows, and rows to rows.  My enthusiasm for the project began to wane, but I really wanted to get it all together before pulling it off the wall.  I persevered, and got it together.

Because there is so much handling there were threads.  Lots and lots of threads.  Grooming was a must before sending it to the quilter.

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I can’t imagine any long arm quilter wanting to deal with this, or any piecer wanting to get their quilt back with this stuff quilted in.  So remember, groom your flimsy.

Initially, I was going to use my feed sacks for the backing but reconsidered and went with the same Kona white that I used in the front.

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It’s all groomed and ready to be shipped to the quilter!

Oh that baby quilt, and dolly quilt, they will wait a little while as I need to shift gears.  That being said, I do see this done with florals on a lovely garden green background.  Maybe with bigger pieces.

 

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Gabryella

It had been a long long time since I had been asked how much I charged for a quilt.  Honestly, I didn’t have a very good answer…in fact I had no answer other than “I’m not sure”.  The man wanted a quilt for his six year old granddaughter.  Something girly and a more grown up than a baby quilt but he didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  I mean she is a six year old right.  His only request was that “Sweet Pea” be on the quilt and if I could fit it on, the little girls name; Garbyella.

Truth be told, I had been working on some tedious stuff and was looking for a project that provided me with a sense of accomplishment.  And a chance to work with some FUN fabrics.   Gramps had been doing some work on the house and I wanted to keep the cost down.  I went through my juvenile and novelties stash and came up with a fair amount, but not quite enough.  So there was an opportunity to shop, and I did.  It was fun as I had discovered a couple of new to me quilt shops in my area as I’ve only been here about a year.

It wasn’t long before I had fabrics up on the design wall and the lettering done for her name and nickname.  That was a new thing for me to do!

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The quilt went together fairly quickly as I needed to keep it simple.  I’m calling it an “entry level” quilt.  My quilter, Terry Burris Quilting was able to turn it around for me quickly.  And with some of the scraps I was able to make a pillow case.IMG_7388

 

There was still one more thing I wanted to do.  Part of the reason Gabryella was getting a new quilt was to stop dragging around her old one.  So I went the next step and made one for her dolly so she would still have something to take with her.

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Her baby dolls name is Mya.  The backing of the baby doll quilt is the same that I used on the twin quilt and the pillowcase.

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This was just the distraction I needed to feel a sense of accomplishment!  So what do you tell people when they ask, “How much do you charge for a quilt?”

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Asian Tiles and a Bonus

For many years I have collected Asian inspired fabrics.  I love them!  The colors,  the subject matter, the lines and the feel of most of these fabrics just inspires me.  These fabrics have inspired me so much that about 10 years ago I lead a retreat with my friend Lynn Chinnis, we called “Orient Expressed”.  The retreat itself was pretty low-key with no classes, but still pressed us to cut into those fabrics we had collected over time.

When I worked for Quilters Confectionery I purchased a pattern called Asian Tiles to showcase my collection.  The pattern is fat quarter friendly, and translated well into what I affectionately call selective scrap.  Well, I found it hard to cut into some of these pieces so I started another one instead that just used one fabric.  That particular quilt is still incomplete.  However, I did cut into my collection and what fun it was to put the pieces together!  Much more fun than the one with just one fabric!  The pattern is beginner friendly and easy to follow.   My one problem was leaving the bonus triangles in place.  It wouldn’t be a problem for most, and truly, I have plenty of fabric to play with, but it truly bothered me leaving those triangles there.  As the piece progressed I made a decision not to abandon the triangles.img_2598

So, I went in after them.  Those that I could, I did, cut out and save.  Those that were too far into the project, I left.  Somehow, it made me feel better.

It wasn’t too long before I had a stack of bonus half square triangles.  I sewed and pressed and trimmed and sewed and Viola!

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I’m nearly as pleased with this additional piece as I am with the quilt itself!

Keep in mind when assembling your blocks for the Asian Tiles, that you are consistent and follow the directions.  It is very easy to get turned around and then your blocks will be going in different directions.  That is how I ended up with a quilt and a wall hanging, and now the bonus piece.

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I still have a few projects to finish from that retreat of nearly ten years ago.  But little by little I am forging through that UFO pile.

One of the most fun things we did at the Orient Expressed retreat (and it was initially resisted), was to compose a Haiku.  Oh what fun.

Many miles I must go

on my creative journey

to be with good friends.

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February Finishes and Lessons Learned

February.  The shortest month of the year.  Some years it feels like an eternity before it will end with all the cold and snow.  This year however…hikes, and walks and 70 degree days.  Whodathunk!

So time in the sewing room was a little shorter but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t productive.  First of all I finished a trio of pillows.  This is actually the second trio I’ve done over the last year, and I can see doing these again sometime, for no other reason than they please me.

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The two pillows on the ends are created using a total of four pineapple blocks each.  The blocks are merely oriented differently.  Blocks are constructed of neckties on a muslin foundation.  Each of these pillows contain 148 pieces.  That lovely pillow in the center,  also was assembled using muslin foundations.  These foundations were hand stamped.  I completed 25 blocks for this pillow, each block measures 3 inches and contains 33 pieces for a whopping total of 825 pieces.  The white in the pillow is from an old wedding gown.

The pillows were finished using an envelope style with hook & loop (Velcro) at the closure.

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My big finish this month with a huge lesson was the wall hanging.  It is a stunner!

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Instead of muslin, this one piece was done utilizing paper foundations.  The pattern is called Scrap Happy Diamonds by Cindi Edgerton.  The quilt measures 58″ square.  I thoroughly enjoyed piecing those diamonds.  I put my first quarter together.

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and that is when I noticed a problem, a really big problem…

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these units should not have any red.  They need to be all blue.  Well, I cussed and fussed and then just walked away.  I had purchased two of the patterns, but wanted to use one for a completely different project.  I was too far into this one to let it go so I did pinch the foundations I needed from that second pattern to finish it out and will eventually finish a second.

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The instructions really were in there…I had completely overlooked them.

Lesson being:  READ ALL OF THE INSTRUCTIONS.  TWICE.

 

 

 

The most difficult part of this was pulling out the paper foundations without damaging the ties.  I’m wondering if there really is a need for those foundations to be torn out and what if any problems they would cause for a quilter.  I don’t see where the piece would ever be traditionally laundered, and would welcome feedback if anyone has experience with this.

Those red and blue borders and backing are from abandoned prom and bridesmaids dresses.  Who said they would never get used again!

Recycling at its finest.

Looking forward to March and maybe something a little less daunting.

 

 

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Orphan blocks and January finishes

One of the things I love about going to guild is the different ways they approach fundraising.  I’ve been to a couple of groups over the years that do an auction.  “One mans trash is another mans treasure” is the mantra, and oh it is soooo true. Over the years you see what the ladies bring to Show & Tell and watch with awe how they articulate their color sense, their vision and their design skills.

Auctions can be an economical way to build up your own stash, or purge for a good cause if that is the case.  At one of these auctions I bid on a set of quilt blocks.  Did I want the blocks?  Not necessarily, but a $5 bid would get things moving.  Did anyone else want the blocks?  Apparently not, as I won the bid.

These blocks stayed in my stash for a couple of years until I finally figured out what I would do with them.  I didn’t necessarily want am entire quilt just for the holidays, but then it came to me!

When my husband and I travel with Grand Circle Travel or Overseas Adventure travel we bring a gift for the hostess of our home hosted dinner.  I’ve agonized over what to bring in the past, but this last trip was an easy fix.  If your having a meal generally you sit at a table, what easier gift is there to assemble than a table runner?!  The one that I created for our trip has been delivered, but I did finish these two for January using those very blocks that I won at the auction.

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This was my first attempt in many years to quilt my own work.  It is a little simple, but I got the job done, and it looks pretty good.

Another place to adopt orphan squares is a block exchange.  Once in a while there might be a couple of blocks where the sizing is off or the colors don’t quite go with its mates.  These are perfect for table runners.  That being said, I think I will continue participating in those block exchanges.

The place that I find hardest to leave the orphans behind are antique stores.  These treasures are just begging for a home.  Last time I brought these home.  It is almost time for me to create something lovely out of them.  But there are issues to consider.  More on that in a later post.

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My finishes for January are my two table runners.  It isn’t all I worked on, but it is what I finished.

Fabric that left the sewing room in January in projects and donations to the upcoming Hospitality Guild Auction totaled 10 yards.

Fabric that came into the sewing room 5 yards of Kona White, and I have a specific plan for that!

What do you do with your orphans?

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And We’re Off! Welcome 2017

Do you love lists?  I love lists.  Every year I make a new one.  Or two.  Or several.  This year is no different.  What an ambitious set of lists I have!  According to my lists I’m going to make some lovely things for my home, finish some beautiful gifts for my family, add the finishing details to projects that have been long neglected, and make a dozen pieces to donate to local causes.  Ahhh that New Year hope, isn’t it grand!

One of my promises to self is to keep track of what I use and not replace it all.  I have a very generous stash and I find that once in a while it is difficult to focus with too many choices.  Also, I’m getting to an age where I may have STABLE (stash beyond my life expectancy), and that is not good.  I see a dumpster moving in before my body is cold.  So for every 5 yards I use up, I can buy 1.  Let’s see if that works!  Not certain how that is going to work for the shirts and jeans and ties.

Having recently moved, I’m also trying to find my “Quilt Tribe”.  One would think that this is a no-brainer, but it can be challenging, especially if you are a little shy.  I will find them though and this year will be a very productive year making beautiful things.

I’ll show my progress as I progress.  Sew what are your plans?

 

 

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Denimania

Denim has intrigued me for a long time.  I’ve collected jeans for many years with the thought that “someday I will make something with these”.  On a trip to the big Houston Quilt Festival several years ago, I took a “denimology” class taught by Flavin Glover.  The class was superb and Ms. Glover was creative, informative, and a delightful instructor.

By the way, if the opportunity arises to go the Quilt Festival in Houston, take it.  My sister and I had a blast!  So much inspiration.  Awesome teachers, and classes, and the VENDORS!!!!   I yi yi!  But alas, I do digress.

As retreat coordinator this year I chose a subject dear to my heart.  Retreat was about the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, and recycle) and 5 Hands (hand made, second hand, hand me down, hand in hand & helping hand ) .  All of the samples and projects offered were made using materials that had a previous purpose.

Denim played a big part in the retreat.  One of the pieces was a quilt I made using denim, and upholstery samples and a free quilt pattern from Benartex called Denovo.  PDF can be found here:  3dudesquilting.com.  The pattern was not followed to the letter, it was more inspirational.  The orientation of the blocks was a little tricky because most of the upholstery samples were directional – hence “not followed to the letter”.img_3946

A few words of advice when using denim.  First of all, change your needle.  Use a denim needle or size 16.  Using 100% cotton denim is easier than using denim that has spandex.  I found I needed to stabilize my black because of that.  It was worth it though because I really wanted the color.  Use similar weight fabrics if you are going to mix denim.  A wonderful match is upholstery fabrics.  I scored a sample book at a flea market and love the results.  Sometimes you can find sample books at thrift stores, or even E-Bay.  One of the things that was brought to my attention at class was if you have a really nice machine, you may NOT want to use it if you are going to do much denim work.  Some of these designer machines come with a big price tag, as do the repairs, and they were not designed to work on these dense thick fabrics for long periods of time.  Because it is my intent to do a fair amount of denim work, I purchased an inexpensive Singer that specifically indicated that it could handle denim.  It worked like a dream.  Often you can find these machines second-hand and in running condition.

Before sending your denim piece out for quilting, make certain that your quilter realizes that you are sending a denim quilt.  They too will have to use a bigger needle, and may suggest a thicker thread.  Terry Burris Quilting made this beauty shine with a lovely allover pattern.

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Isn’t this just perfect to have in the back of the car “just in case”, or as a picnic quilt.  This quilt will take a beating, so it’s good to throw on the floor for babies, or to make cozy on the couch.  Because there is not a lot invested, they would also make wonderful charity quilts.

There is no doubt that this quilt will last a long time.  My denim adventure has just begun and I can’t wait to share with you where it takes me.

Happy piecing!

 

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