Thursday, January 11, 2018

WIP Wednesday - Playing Catch Up

Yes, I know it's Thursday. That's just how my week is going.

I finally feel as though I've recovered from December, and found some time this week to get into my sewing room. I walked in there a few times, moved a few things around, and walked out. I didn't even know where to start. 

Saturday I cleared off my work space, wound some bobbins and threaded my machine. I took some photos and wrote the post about our trip to California.

Sunday I was finally able to cut and sew. I cued up some of the many podcasts waiting in my app (well hello Sandy!) and started in on the last two blocks for the Twilters Bee.

Frances requested these wonky stars in orange and blue. I agreed with these colors only because I adore her. It came out pretty cute, although making something wonky seems harder to me than making it right the traditional way.

Alida is also using stars, but let us pick whichever kind we wanted to make. I chose this Diamond Star from Quilter's Cache. Warning: the cutting instructions leave out the two 3 7/8" squares of each color. 

It felt so good to get back to my machine. Here's hoping that 2018 will find us all creating more and bringing more beauty to the world! What are you working on?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sew Together Stitching Lounge and a Day in Pasadena

Happy New Year! 

December was a whirlwind of activity, as always, with so much going on at work and at home. This year we capped off the holiday celebrating with a few days in Southern California to watch My Middle Child perform at the Rose Bowl with the Redcoats, the University of Georgia's marching band.

We also got in a great visit with my brother and sister-in-law, and my niece and nephews. It was so much fun to hang out with them and enjoy the gorgeous weather when it was bitterly cold at home. We ate so much great food while celebrating "Second Christmas" and New Year's Eve.

I had hoped to meet up with Kristin, but our visit was jam packed and, of course, the holidays are busy for everyone. Kristin did have a quilt shop suggestion for me and my sister-in-law, who is also a quilter. One afternoon while Batman was napping, we snuck away to the Sew Together Stitching Lounge for a little fabric therapy.

This is such a great little shop with the friendliest staff. In addition to some great modern fabrics, they also had a selection of patterns and a few knits for garments. 

Flying will put a damper on shopping for fabric, but I did tuck a few things into my suitcase. 

I couldn't resist this knit by Sarah Watts, a designer with Cotton + Steel, since my littlest nephew is a tiny bit obsessed with octopus and squid. It's called Mystery Food, and it's going to get me over my fear of sewing knits.

I also picked up two prints from the Journey On line from Dear Stella Designs (by Rae Ritchie).

Extra bonus if you are not monogamous in the ways of textiles: there's a yarn and embroidery shop called The Knitting Tree right next door. Go wild.

I thought I was going to get to see an art quilt show as well one day when we were driving around. I spied this banner, and my brother dropped me off at the corner to get the details.

Sadly, they were closed until January 3. But if you're in the area and can get past the fact that they used the phrase "Not Your Grandmother's Quilt Show," it's at the California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica through March 18. (I'm looking at you, Frances!)

We had a great visit and are now back to reality. I hope you all had a marvelous holiday season wish you a wonderful 2018!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Entwined, or Turning Fifty

It's been pretty quiet around here, and that's mostly because I have been working on a top secret project for The Pit Boss's 50th birthday.

I know you (and he) thought I was making the Disappearing Pinwheels quilt. I thought I was, too. But in July when he had to go out of town for ten days, I found that I wasn't really loving it. Don't get me wrong; I still like the quilt, but it just didn't feel like him to me. I was also having trouble finding a layout that I liked, so I decided to start over.

While looking through my patterns, I came across this one that he actually picked out himself on a surprise trip to Callaway Gardens back in early December, 2015. He had also found a quilt shop nearby called Sunday Best Quiltworkswhere he saw this Twisted Bargello pattern by Chris Timmins of Grafton, Australia. He chose a deep turquoise fabric as well, and we both promptly forgot about it.

Choosing 20 fabrics was a challenge, but the turquoise was a good start. I decided to make the full sized quilt without the borders, since his main complaint about the first quilt I made him is that it's too small. I liked the feeling of the grays that I had chosen for the Disappearing Pinwheels quilt, and was able to pull six from my stash, including two from our trip to Boston. There were a few blues and greens I liked, but not enough, so I headed over to Intown Quilters to fill in the blanks.

The woman working in the shop that day was a huge help, not only with selecting the fabrics but helping me put them in the correct order. That was critical! Once I got home, I had to make a key that I left on my design wall. I spent the next four months hoping that he wouldn't wonder what those little squares were for. 

I began cutting strips, and quickly realized that math had, once again, gotten the best of me. I had purchased a quarter yard of each color instead of a half yard! Luckily, Intown Quilters has an online presence AND their receipts are very detailed, so I was quickly able to order the extra fabric and have it shipped right to the house. 

While TPB was gone, I managed to get all of the strip sets together.  Once he came back, though, I had to get creative with my sewing time. I started cutting the strip sets according to the detailed map in Chris's pattern. Every time TPB walked the dogs or worked late, I would cut a few more strips. Find My Friends became my favorite app, as I used the option for it to notify me when he left his location so I could tuck the strips back into the closet before he came home.

I used every minute I could find to start assembling the columns, while still occasionally working on the "decoy quilt" so he wouldn't get too suspicious. It became obvious that the Disappearing Pinwheels was not going to be finished by his birthday, so he gave me more and more grief about it with each passing day. 

Finally there came a point when I couldn't go any further without putting the columns up on my design wall, which I couldn't do until I had a few days alone. Thank goodness he had scheduled a guys trip to Vegas a few weeks before his birthday. I took a vacation day from work and sewed all weekend long. 

By lunch time on Saturday I had the top together and had to make a crucial decision: should I give the quilt to my longarmer, who was unsure if she would have time to finish it, or just go for it and quilt it myself? Grace convinced me that I could do it. I decided that, with the minky back, I was going to have to spray baste it. That hasn't always worked out for me with other brands, but I decided to give the much lauded 505 a try. It worked great!

I went with straight line quilting in the gray areas and let them overlap where the lines intersect. In the blues I did a curve similar to Angela Walters's serpentine line

And in the greens I quilted the swirls I learned in Angela's class at QuiltCon.  

The minky back hides a multitude of sins and is so cozy! I managed to get the whole thing quilted and the binding made before TPB came home from Vegas. 

Then it was just a matter of getting the binding whipped down and the label on. It was getting so close to his birthday, but he was always around! It got to the point that I would stitch a few inches of binding while he was in the shower or ran an errand. 

Finally it was complete, and Friday night was the big reveal. I didn't get any great shots of his reaction, but he swears he was really surprised. 

To my amazing husband, who supports and encourages me in all I do, who makes me laugh all the time and cry only tears of joy: I love you and wish you the most fabulous new decade. I can't wait to see what this one holds for us!

I don't know that I would have had the courage to do this without the blog hop this summer, so I want to say thank you to Angela and Christa, HollyAnne, Kristin, and Vicki. You inspired me and kept me going! 

If you made it all the way to the end of this post, congratulations! I know it was long, but so was the road to get here. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Going to Guild - Karla Alexander

Last Monday was guild night, and our guest was Karla Alexander of Saginaw Street Quilt Company. She taught a class on Sunday that I was unable to attend, sadly. The work her students brought for Show and Tell was inspiring.

Karla was last at our guild about five years ago, and she always tells a story about a quilt her mother made for her. Even though I've heard it before, it always makes me tear up. I guess the story reminds me a little bit about the Orange Crush quilt I made for Grace - all those scraps, each with their own memory.

Double Crossed by Karla Alexander

Karla plays with line and color in exciting ways. Her patterns seem to find new ways to arrange and show off the fabrics.  She always brings loads of quilts to demonstrate a point.

Loose Ends by Karla Alexander

I also love how her techniques bring out a luminous quality to the quilts that reminds me more of a painting or stained glass than fabric.

Clam Shells by Karla Alexander

Karla's more recent work dives deep into curved piecing, and this is what I would love to learn from her. The way these clam shells are designed is ingenious!

Lanterns by Karla Alexander

But my favorite quilt of all may be one of the less complex ones. The Lanterns quilt would be such a great way to show off those fabrics that you just can't bear to cut, the ones that need wide open spaces to show off. I love the lines of this quilt, and can think of so many fun ways to free motion quilt each individual lantern.

I've linked to each pattern in case you want to try one for yourself. If your guild is looking for a teacher/lecturer, or if you're trying to decide on a class at a show, you can't go wrong with Karla!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Book Review: Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson shown here
with fabric from Christa's new line, Modern Marks.
Photo credit: Vicki Holloway

The fabulous Christa Watson has done it again! That is, she's written a book that feels incredibly welcoming and approachable for newbies, but thought-provoking and creative enough for the more experienced quilter. She also answers that burning question that every true stash lover wants answered: What do I do with all these precuts?

Spools quilt by HollyAnne Knight of String and Story

Admit it, you've bought precuts with absolutely no clue what to do with them. They're pretty and fun to pet, but every once in awhile you need to open one up and use it.

Squiggles quilt by Kristin Esser

The eleven quilt patterns in this book are simple enough - and with well written directions - for a beginner who is comfortable with a sewing machine OR for a more advanced quilter to whip up a quick quilt and have fun playing with color and quilting designs. The fabric and the quilting do the heavy lifting in these modern designs. 

Gridwork quilt by Vicki Holloway of My Creative Corner 3

We know Christa is a great teacher and encourager when it comes to quilting on a domestic machine, but now she's added fabric designer to her resume. Her new line, Modern Marks, is the perfect companion to the quilts in her third book.

Special thanks to Martingale for generously sharing a copy of the book with me so I could have a sneak peek, and to VickiKristin, and HollyAnne of String and Story  for letting me borrow their pictures. For lots more about the patterns and fabrics, be sure to visit their blogs. They are in the middle of doing another blog hop through this book, and the quilts they are showing are fantastic! Even better, they are each giving away a copy, so be sure to visit all three of them.

Question for you: how many precut bundles are in your stash right now? 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Queen Bee!

This month it is my turn to be the Queen Bee in our Twilters swap, and I had such a hard time picking a block design. Every time I saw someone else's choice, I was like Rachel in Friends when she hears Monica's baby name.

Then I started down the path that always leads me to ruin - planning some elaborate original design. (I have a stack of UFOs to explain how that ends if you haven't seen this episode before.)

Finally, I've settled on a block that won't be too difficult for any of my hive, that won't send them digging for some super specific fabric in their stash, and will get me moving toward a quilt I've always wanted.

I'm asking for 16 Patch blocks made of 2" finished squares. My only other request is that you don't repeat any fabrics. I'm sure I will end up with some duplicates in the final project, but this will help reduce them and keep the quilt totally scrappy.

Just in case anyone needs instructions:

Cut a 2 1/2" square out of 16 different fabrics. 

Sew them together in pairs,

and then into four patches. Press in opposite directions so the seams nest.

Sew the four patches together into pairs,

and then into the finished 16 patch block. Voila!

This makes a great leaders and enders project while you are sewing something else. If you are having fun and would like to clean out a few more scraps, feel free to make more than one. Send it to me or start a postage stamp quilt of your own.

Thanks for swapping!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Going to Guild - The Stitch Girls

Last Monday was our August guild meeting, and Pam and Lynn from The Stitch TV Show were our guest speakers. The topic was Sew Fast and Take Chances.

It was a great program about how our brains work and what motivates us (spoiler: Pam and Lynn's processes are totally different!). 

Guess what Lynn's favorite color is.

They had tips for breaking down what mental blocks keep us from getting things done or letting go of learning experiences that are not destined to be finished objects.

They also had lots of gorgeous quilts to show, although my iPhone-tography doesn't do them justice.

We even got a sneak peek of a pattern that hasn't been released yet called Main Squeeze!

It was so fun to see my favorite quilting talk show hosts in person again. Have you watched the latest episode? Subscribe so you'll never miss it!

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