Monday, March 12, 2018

Get Thee to the Quilt Show! Inspired by the National Parks

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit The Great American Cover-Up Quilt Show, put on by the Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild, featuring the Inspired by the National Parks Quilt Exhibit.

national parks exhibit, bulloch hall quilt guild, the great american cover-up, quilt show

You'll have to visit the website since photographing the quilts was not allowed. Let me just say that each grouping of quilts was amazing and inspiring. If you don't have the chance to see the exhibit, the next best thing is the book with photos and essays about each park and each quilt. 

I had the added benefit of visiting with a dear friend who is not a quilter, but whose family are national parks buffs. She has been to about half of the parks, and seeing these quilts with her was really special. I loved when she would recognize a park from across the room, and would share some memory from her childhood about visiting each one. 

national parks exhibit, hike, jan antranikian, bulloch hall quilt guild, the great american cover-up, quilt show
"Hike" by Jan Antranikian

The guild did a great job of using props and family photos from guild members to set the scene. 

national parks exhibit, foxy, marie wood, bulloch hall quilt guild, the great american cover-up, quilt show
"Foxy" by Marie Monks Wood

They also hosted a challenge among their own members, inspired by nature. I love how these turned out, and am so proud to know many of these quilters.

national parks exhibit, watched eggs never hatch, christie fouts, bulloch hall quilt guild, the great american cover-up, quilt show
"Watched Eggs Never Hatch" by Christie Fouts

The show runs through March 18, so there's still time if you are nearby. It's worth the trip!

national parks exhibit, swamp, wendy blanton, bulloch hall quilt guild, the great american cover-up, quilt show
"Swamp" by Wendy Blanton

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Going to Guild - Charlotte Angotti Returns

Monday was guild night, the first one of the year for me. In January we got snowed out. In February I had planned to attend and then, Tuesday morning, realized I had completely forgotten. Where is my head? 

But this month our speaker was the quiltalicious Charlotte Angotti with her bajillion gorgeous quilts and at least one story for each one that will have you wiping away tears of laughter.  

Charlotte has a gift for using color with simple blocks to bring light and movement to quilt designs. 

She is great at breaking down complicated looking designs and making them achievable even for newer quilters. She encourages you to use fabric from your stash, and teaches you new ways to look at old fabric.

In addition to the loads of quilts she brings - she couldn't even show them all - Charlotte is so danged funny! She sprinkles stories about how she came up with a quilt design with anecdotes from her retreats, lectures, and classes. 

My iPhone-tography doesn't do these justice, but friend her on Facebook to get a dose of color inspiration that will get your creative juices flowing.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Machine Quilting Monday - Free-Motion Meandering Blog Hop Week 4

It's the last week of the Free-Motion Meandering Blog Hop. Today, in addition to practicing the remaining designs, there's also a giveaway to win your own copy of Angela Walters's newest book. Be sure to visit Kristin and Vicki to enter their giveaways as well and improve your chances of winning.

free-motion meandering, angela walters, feather meander, giveaway

The first design is the feather meander. I thought I had taken better pictures of this one, but I guess I didn't since it's the one that definitely needs more practice! I attempted this design in the upper left and lower right blocks in the photo above, and you can see that I didn't quite get the hang of it. Time to go back and review the troubleshooting section of this chapter.

free-motion meandering, angela walters, improv quilting, giveaway

The final chapter of this book is all about improv quilting. I had a lot of fun with this concept in the blocks where the other designs didn't feel right.

free-motion meandering, angela walters, improv quilting, giveaway

I love using the blocks to help guide my quilting. 

free-motion meandering, angela walters, improv quilting, giveaway

Sometimes I combined designs to focus on certain features of the blocks. Angela does a great job of inspiring and guiding the development of your personal style, while helping you improve your technique. 

I hope you've enjoyed this preview of Free-Motion Meandering, and wish you luck in the giveaway!

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Machine Quilting Monday - Free-Motion Meandering Blog Hop Week 3

Welcome to Week 3 of the Free-Motion Meandering Blog Hop! Kristin, Vicki and I are spending February with Angela Walters's newest book. The blocks I'm showing are all from the Michael Miller quilt that will be on display at QuiltCon with six other Quilts for Cure.

free-motion meandering, angela walters, paisley, freemotion quilting

This week we're practicing the paisley meander and the leafy meander. I love the loopy design of the paisley meander. It's easy to get into a groove and quickly fill a space. 

free-motion meandering, angela walters, paisley, freemotion quilting

You can make them all different sizes and add an extra echo to travel to where you need to be. Angela has some great troubleshooting tips for those times when your paisleys seem to line up instead of making a true meandering pattern.

free-motion meandering, angela walters, leafy meander, freemotion quilting

There are times when the leafy meander seems to suit the fabric better. I like how it gives the quilting such an organic texture. 

free-motion meandering, angela walters, leafy meander, freemotion quilting

Angela explains why sometimes your leaves aren't symetrical and how to avoid tension problems that can sometimes arise with this design.

Regardless of which one you choose, these are quick filler designs that will add interest to your quilt. 

Check back next week for our final two chapters and a chance to win your own copy of Free-Motion Meandering.

Even better, be sure to visit the Michael Miller Fabrics blog to find out how to win fabulous prizes while fighting childhood cancer. WIN WIN!!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Machine Quilting Monday - Free-Motion Meandering Blog Hop Week 2

Welcome to Week 2 of the Free-Motion Meandering Blog Hop! Kristin, Vicki and I are spending February with Angela Walters's newest book. The blocks I'm showing are all from the Michael Miller quilt that will be on display at QuiltCon with six other Quilts for Cure.

angela walters, quilts for cure, swirl hook, swirl meander, michael miller, aurifil, hobbs batting, free motion meandering, free-motion

This week we're practicing the swirl meander and the swirl hook meander. They aren't that different, but I love the way that little hook helps fill the square spaces. 

angela walters, quilts for cure, swirl hook, swirl meander, michael miller, aurifil, hobbs batting, free motion meandering, free-motion

This design is a challenge for me, but Angela includes much more detailed diagrams and troubleshooting tips in this book, so it's gotten a lot better since I tried the similar one in the last hop. Practice, practice, practice! 

angela walters, quilts for cure, swirl hook, swirl meander, michael miller, aurifil, hobbs batting, free motion meandering, free-motion

I put a lot of swirls on this quilt, and they didn't all meander. The border is all swirls. I love them! Sometimes I feel like they are a little rounder and smoother if I have a little wine, but that might be justification.

Quilt along with us and be sure to share pictures of your progress using the hashtag #freemotionmeandering! 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Machine Quilting Monday - Free-Motion Meandering Blog Hop Week 1

Welcome to Week 1 of the Free-Motion Meandering Blog Hop! Kristin, Vicki and I are spending February with Angela Walters's newest book.

Let me start off by saying that, if you have always wanted to try free motion quilting (FMQ), or if you are just beginning, this is the book to get first. Angela's other books are wonderful, but this one really starts from scratch with details like how to set up your machine and which thread to use.

This week we're practicing the meander and the loopy meander. I love how Angela's illustrations show you every step of the stitch. She also walks you through some troubleshooting, explaining common problems and how to avoid or fix them. 

free-motion meandering angela walters

I practiced all the designs in this book on the Michael Miller quilt that's flying to QuiltCon right now. In this block, I did a basic meander. Meandering is great for getting the hang of FMQ, for letting yourself relax and play with the fabric and thread. Angela has helpful diagrams, photos, and instructions for when you catch yourself traveling in only one direction or repeating the same design over and over again.

free-motion meandering loop angela walters
I have no idea why the color is so off in this picture.
The pink sashing is the same on all the blocks.

Once you get the hang of meandering, you can add loops. You can see from these two blocks that changing the size gives it a different feel. You can also see from the block above that smaller loops are harder to keep smooth than larger loops. But that's why we practice!

free-motion meandering loop angela walters

Angela shows some fun ways to adapt this meander to the space you're filling, including borders.

Quilt along with us and be sure to share pictures of your progress using the hashtag #freemotionmeandering!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Mail Time - Vintage Pit Boss Postcard

There is something so fun about getting a postcard, and this one from Frances just made me happy! Apparently this is a real vintage cookbook about barbecue from the fifties - out of print but still available. Of course, The Pit Boss and I loved it. I think it will go in a little frame next to the door to the deck where the magic happens. 

Frances is sending a postcard a day for 2018. What a great idea to get you writing and reaching out to friends! 

Confidential to Frances: QuiltCon 2019 in Nashville is TOTALLY happening!

Speaking of Frances and writing, have you seen her latest book, Margaret Goes Modern? It's a book of short stories about quilters and quilting. Some of them you may have seen on her Quilt Fiction page, but several are new. It's a charming read, just perfect for a quick story before bed that will leave you with happy, quilty dreams. Right now it's a bargain on Amazon Kindle for just $1.99.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

WIP Wednesday - Michael Miller and Quilts for Cure

Remember when I went to QuiltCon and one of the booths was Michael Miller Fabric and they gave out fabric to make blocks for charity quilts?  

Right. So, the way I understand it, Michael Miller collected the blocks and chose Quilts for Cure as the charity to receive the blocks. HollyAnne (of String and Story and QFC) reached out to #machinequiltingbloghop alum Kristin, Vicki, and me for help piecing the quilts in time to be displayed at QuiltCon 2018 in Pasadena.

The blocks are so cute! 

I am in awe of how creative some people are. 

Michael Miller generously added fabric for sashing, backing and binding along with the blocks, Aurifil sent thread, and Hobbs donated the batting. All I needed to do was get it together. 

Daisy critiques my sashing technique and tries to point out my mistake.
Unfortunately I ignored her.
That's what I've been working on. The top is finished and the quilt is basted. I've stitched in the ditch and am working on quilting the individual blocks. But more on that later!

What are you working on?

Monday, January 29, 2018

Off Topic - Snowflakes

Twenty-five years ago this month I became a mother for the first time. It was such a brief moment that most people missed it, but I was forever changed.

That cold January morning, just a few weeks after a positive pregnancy test made us laugh with surprise, I woke up in a pool of blood and knew it was over. The trip to the emergency room only confirmed my worst fears. Our baby was gone before we got a chance to know him.

Another miscarriage eleven months later sent me running for a support group, where I learned words for the snarl of emotions I had tried to tamp down deep inside me for a year. I named my babies, partly to avoid calling them "the first one" and "this last one," but also because they weren't interchangeable. They mattered, they changed me, and they changed my whole world.

The group saved me just by letting me tell my story and say what happened to me. I had to say it out loud enough times to accept that it was real and that I wasn't crazy and that it was okay to be sad and to grieve. I listened to so many other women's stories, always a little stunned at how many different ways there were for the world to come crashing down. I started writing poetry and, somewhere along the way, I grew attached to the imagery of our babies as snowflakes. They are tiny, unique, precious...and too soon gone. I even made a snowflake quilt to represent all six of my children.

That's why it bothers me so much that the word "snowflake" has been adopted and used in such a denigrating way. Somehow, this natural wonder has become an insult to hurl at others when we don't agree with their position or don't understand their feelings. Every time I see it (because you almost never hear it said aloud to a person's face - we are so much braver hiding behind our keyboards) I cringe, especially when it's said by someone I know and like and used to admire.

When did it become a bad thing to recognize people as unique individuals? When did it become selfish not to agree with everything the group believes?

This insult is so often used to describe people about the age of my children. It's become about participation trophies and not being tough enough. Do the people who use this tired refrain ever think about the fact that the kids didn't ask for the trophies? They didn't buy or hand out the trophies. It's my generation who grew fearful as parents and tried to protect our children from every danger. While we may not have gone about it in the healthiest way, you can't question the instinct or the blinding love that motivated this cultural shift.

Are the kids not tough because technology and science have found ways to prevent needless illnesses and deaths? Are they wimps because they rode in booster seats until they were well into elementary school, or did we simply learn how to better protect children in car accidents? Are they less durable than those of us who survived before bike helmets and baby monitors and break-away cords on window shades? Maybe we should ask some of the bereaved parents who fought for increased regulation in hopes that their children didn't die in vain. Maybe we should talk to the inventors and scientists who worked long hours trying to find a way to stop senseless injuries and deaths.

I think the biggest problem in our country today is not that people think they are one of a kind; in fact they are. The biggest problem is we've forgotten that everyone else is, too. Why do we recognize our own distinct traits but try to group everyone else by race or gender or religion or which football team they cheer for?

I hope the next time someone uses my favorite image to hurt someone else I will be brave enough to ask why treating each person as a unique individual is so threatening. I hope we can have a civil conversation and try to find out more about each other's point of view. I pray that, little by little, we can draw closer to one another by hearing each other's stories and recognizing that no two are exactly alike.

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!

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