Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

The turkey is in the oven, and we're watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on television. Last night we made three dishes for dinner today, and this afternoon we'll finish the turkey and make gravy, sweet potato with marshmallows, boiled onions, and pumpkin pie. I am happy that both my sons will be here today.

I made this small wallhanging last November but couldn't think how I wanted to quilt it, so it never got finished. I got it out this year but still haven't done anything with it yet. Maybe it might get done in time for Thanksgiving next year.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to all my blogging friends. I hope you have a lovely day with family and friends.

Credit where credit is due:
Turkey Time quilt design by Pine Tree Lodge Designs

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Selvage Christmas Stocking

Friday was our bimonthly meeting for Casey's Quilters, and making Christmas ornaments was on the agenda. I've had this little snowman kit from Keepsake Quilting for several years and decided it was time to make some up. I used the felt included in the kit, but wool felt or wool would work as well. The front and back pieces for the cap and body are buttonhole stitched together. The brim is a single piece that wraps around to the back, and the scarf is cut long enough to wrap around the neck. The red buttonhole stitching in the body frames an oval cutout through which you can insert a small photo of a child... or pet or whatever. The original kit contained enough materials for a garland of about 6 of these snowmen, but one or two snowmen was fine for me.

A couple of the ladies at the meeting were making these cute little strip-pieced Christmas stockings. My good friend Barbara conducted a little workshop for these at Capitol Quilters, and the ladies were making more of them at Kay's. The pattern is free online here, and it occurred to me to use some of the selvages I've been collecting--a perfect little project to try out both the pattern and the use of selvages. I had so much fun playing with this that I know I'll want to try another selvage project. (If you download this pattern, make sure to uncheck the "fit to page" or scaling block; otherwise the design prints out too small. Naturally I did it wrong the first time, so my stocking came out too small, and the cuff was too big.)

I'm disappointed that I couldn't seem to make the time to get the Theresa's Stars quilt loaded on the frame, and that will be my only goal this week, to get it loaded, quilted, and bound. The handstitched binding on the Twelve Stars quilt is coming along, but slowly.

Last night was the bimonthly meeting for our local chapter, Backroad Quilters, and Christmas ornaments were on the agenda there as well. I was not able to stay for the meeting, but I did go down long enough to pick up these scrap bags. One of our members from last year was changing residences and had to pare down her sewing things. She had lots of fabric for sale, including these scrap bags, so I brought them all home.

Like some other bloggers, I've been thinking about stashbusting goals for next year. It wouldn't surprise me to see the price of cotton continue to rise, and I already have so much fabric. So I think I'd like my focus for next year to be on finishing more of my UFOs and making mostly scrap quilts. Looking back at my finishes for 2008, several had some scrappy elements; but only the Scrappy Bargello was really all scrappy, and that is the sort of quilt I'd like to focus on. Bonnie Hunter certainly has enough scrappy quilt patterns to keep a quilter busy for a long time, and I have plenty of books on scrap quilts to entertain myself with.

Anyway, at the meeting last night, Nena also brought some of the projects that will be offered up as workshops next year, and now I'm excited about doing some of those projects. One was a pleated tote bag, one was a quilt called Monterey Medallion, and one was called Venetian Tiles and requires the use of an x block ruler. It took some time last night hunting on the internet for this specialized tool, but I finally found the designer's website. I remember seeing this block a long time ago, and apparently someone has designed a ruler to facilitate the block construction. You can see both the rulers and some of Patricia's quilts here.

I am off the next three days; and although we are not having company for Thanksgiving, today will be spent doing some much needed housecleaning...and some wash. Tomorrow we'll cook, Thursday we'll eat and relax, and I'll sprinkle in some sewing time where I can!

Oh, by the way, I picked up a yard and a half of fabric this past week. Nothing else in or out, so I didn't bother with a Sunday Stash Report.

Credit where credit is due:
Treasured Snowmen Garland design by Connie Broemmer
Strip Stocking by Eleanor Burns, Quilt In A Day

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Two Down, One To Go

So far I've met two of the three goals I set for myself this week. I sewed the binding to the Twelve Stars quilt a couple nights ago and started hand stitching it to the back while I was at the laundromat today.

Last night I quilted this little strippy on my Lizzie using the Poinsettia pantograph from Willow Leaf. Because someone in a wheel chair will be the recipient of this little lap quilt, I wanted to use flannel on the back so it would be softer and warmer. Once I got it loaded on the frame, using the flannel didn't seem any different to me than using a regular cotton back. Other than a few loops on the back that I managed to work out, I was very happy with the way it turned out.

This was a strange collection of fabrics by Benartex I bought years ago, one of those what-was-I-thinking moments. Not only are the colors a little odd to me for a Christmas print, but the motifs strike me as odd too. It's pears, plums, and holly leaves or something.

Anyway, I sewed the binding on this morning, all by machine, probably only the third or fourth time in 15 years I haven't finished a binding by hand. I figured it will probably get washed a lot in a nursing home so thought a machine stitched binding might be more durable. I washed it myself this morning and was amazed that it shrunk about 3 inches in both directions. Glad Mary's dimensions were generous when she wrote the instructions. That's probably happened to me before when I've washed my quilts, but I never paid much attention to it. With this small quilt though, it was more noticeable.

Tomorrow I'm going to Kay's for our bi-monthly meeting. We're going to make Christmas ornaments, and I have a cute little snowman kit I bought several years ago that I'll be working on. When I get home, I'm going to tackle my last goal for the week, to get Theresa's Stars quilted. I haven't even cut and pieced the backing yet, so I'm hoping to load it on the frame and get at least some of it quilted by the end of the weekend. I'm working all weekend though, so we'll see.

I've gotten behind with all sorts of things lately, including reading my favorite blogs. So I'm hoping to get caught up with that this weekend as well. If you work outside the home, it seems like you're always behind with something, chores, housework, you name it. But at least I've got my priorities right--quilting first, housework second, right?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Stash Report

I finished the raffle quilt this evening, and I think it looks great. Koleen deserves the credit for choosing the fabrics for the sashings and borders. I thought a one-inch sashing would be too narrow, but it's perfect. I've always liked sampler quilts and have wanted to make one for a long time and just never got around to it. Working on this quilt gives me some motivation to start on one of my own, maybe next year.

I missed the stash report last Sunday, and here's the rest of what I've accomplished in the last two weeks:

--Cut and pieced the borders for the Theresa's Stars quilt and finished the top
--Cut and pieced another strippy
--Cut out all the squares for a queen-sized rag quilt

I've had the homespuns for the rag quilt for quite a while and added more last week. I had taken the squares with me to work on at Kay's; and after I got the very first set of squares sewn together, Barb suggested that I use my embroidery machine to quilt a design in each square. I thought that was a great idea. I'm not proficient at all with my embroidery machine and haven't tried to quilt anything with it; so I guess I'll make some time to play around with that idea, but probably not until after Christmas.

Besides the homespuns and a medley from Keepsake, I also bought 6 yards of a beautiful blue-green batik at the Cote Bros. retirement sale. It was a good price, so I may have to go back next week or the week after for a few more batiks. Other than that, I stocked up on embroidery threads and bought a new seam ripper and a pack of sewing machine needles. I wish the embroidery software would go on sale, but I'm not holding my breath. I know at least some of it is on consignment and won't go on sale.

Here's the Stash Manager's Report:

Fabric used this week: 13-3/4 yards
Fabric used year to date: 188-1/2 yards
Fabric added this week: 19-1/2 yards
Fabric added year to date: 350-3/8 yards
Net year to date: - 161-7/8 yards

My goals for this week are to machine stitch the binding to the Twelve Stars quilt, machine quilt one of the strippies, and machine quilt the Theresa's Stars quilt. I plan to use flannel on the back of the strippy, and I hope it doesn't give me fits with the tension.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Raffle Quilt

I worked a lot of hours last week, 6 days in a row. I felt so tired during the week that I decided to take a vacation from blogging, sewing, and just about everything else--just went to work every day, and that was it. We did have a sewing day at Kay's last Friday, and I made another strippy top.

Yesterday I finally had a day off, and it was wet and rainy so I stayed in my jammies all day and sewed. A couple weeks ago I volunteered to assemble these blocks into a quilt top, which will be a raffle quilt for one of my quilt groups. The blocks finish to 12 inches with sashings and cornerstones that finish to one inch wide. I am a little further along than the picture, only have one more row to assemble. Then there will also be a 4" red border.

Anyone who has ever put together a bunch of blocks made by different quilters knows that no two ever turn out to be the same size, and these blocks were no exception. They ranged in size from 12-3/4" to 12" inches, so I squared everything up as best I could before I started sewing them together. I did have to rip out parts of several blocks and remake them in order to have at least a little bit of seam allowance. Thank goodness the group decided to add that sashing! I haven't made a narrow little sashing like this before, and everything is coming out nice and straight. I really like how it's coming together.

Most of the blocks patterns in the quilt are old favorites, but I haven't seen this one before. I like the fact that the quilter made it scrappy. I'd love to make a whole quilt with this block, maybe scrappy blues or scrappy greens.

The sewing store where I bought my Bernina a couple years ago is going out of business. Cote Brothers has been in business for 52 years, and it's so sad to see them closing their doors. One of the owners has had health issues in recent years; so I suppose it's really a combination of things, not the least of which would be the economy. Anyway, I am on my way to Cote's today to find a few bargains on threads and notions and maybe some fabric for quilt backs.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Stash Report

I had another interesting week as far as the stash report goes, but I am sliding ever deeper into the hole. This week I bought 12 yards, which will go for borders and sashings on 3 different quilts. Also remember that I used a bunch of my Christmas fat quarters in the Theresa's Stars quilt, and that was the whole point, right, to use them up? Well, I was horrified at the prospect of not having a selection of Christmas fabrics for some future project, so I went out and bought another 4-1/2 yards of new fat quarters! I also bought 3 yards of a couple of tone on tones for strippies. On the up side, I cut up 10 yards for those 4 strippies I started on at Koleen's Sit and Sew on Halloween. Now I have to get busy and finish them!

Here's the Stash Manager's Report:

Fabric used this week: 10 yards
Fabric used year to date: 174-3/4 yards
Fabric added this week: 19-1/2 yards
Fabric added year to date: 330-7/8 yards
Net year to date: - 156-1/8 yards

Waste Not, Want Not

An old saying, but still as true as ever. As good quality quilting cottons approach $10 per yard in some quilt shops and are actually priced at $10 per yard now in others, it becomes increasingly important to me to use every bit of fabric to best advantage. I'd been saving selvages for a while because it appealed to me to have those color dots as a reference; but after Karen Griska released a book called Quilts From The Selvage Edge, I began collecting in earnest. My friend Barb commented that she thought selvage quilts were ugly; and that may be true, but I also find them really interesting to look at.

I was delighted the other day to find that Wanda from Exuberant Color was also collecting selvages. Not only did Wanda have a link to some photos of an entire dress made from selvages, but she also had a link to Karen Griska's blog. Now I am discovering all sorts of interesting things to do with selvages--pincushions, handbags, scarves, postcards, and doll quilts.

I thought about the "waste not, want not" theme again the other day, when I saw Sherry throw away a big handful of trimmings. Some people refer to these trimmings as quilt confetti, and I have seen a photo or two where people put them in an attractive clear glass jar or clear table lamp base. That never appealed to me, but then I remembered that someone in my Friday quilt group was collecting them to make dog beds for a local animal shelter. I thought that was a worthwhile endeavor; so I retrieved Sherry's scraps from the trash, then went home and dug mine out of the trash too. I now have about a quarter of a bag full of trimmings, and I feel downright righteous that I am using every single shred of my $10 per yard fabric! At least as long as someone will make dog beds out of them, I suppose..... or maybe.... a floor pillow!

Sit and Sew

My plans for this past week went awry again, which is hardly anything new for me. Not only do I suffer from poor time management skills, but working for a living also puts a squeeze on my quilting time. Nonetheless I still managed to get something accomplished despite myself. I haven't finished my Theresa's Stars top yet, but I have finished all 30 blocks and have started sewing them into rows. I also played on my Lizzie during the week with a couple of practice pieces and the new pantographs I got. The Poinsettia pattern from Willow Leaf, which I want to stitch on Theresa's Stars, is my new favorite; and I was able to stitch a reasonable facsimile the first time I tried it.

Does that mean I'm getting better at staying on the line? No! Effervescence, also from Willow Leaf is the one I was contemplating stitching on the Orange Crush quilt, but it proved to be more difficult than I would have thought. Those circles are a little over three inches in diameter, and staying on the line was hard! Another pantograph I got was Bubbles, and I think I'll probably try that one instead. Another advantage of a busy quilt top--you won't see the bobbles in my bubbles.

Friday Barbara, Sherry, Koleen and I got together for a sit and sew in Koleen's studio. Koleen has a lovely studio built on a slab where her garage used to be, and it is a lovely big, well lit space to sew in. We started out the day with Show and Tell, which is an integral part of any quilting get-together. This is the quilt I just finished for Koleen, Twelve Stars Til Christmas. It's very nearly a queen sized quilt. The ribbon candy border was lots of work but well worth the result. Koleen was planning to put this one on her frame for quilting yesterday, and I should get it back on Friday. For the quilt design, we settled on a tannebaum Christmas tree pattern in a gold-red-green variegated thread, and I can't wait to see it finished.

I finished the Tug O' War pattern for Koleen some time ago, and it has been waiting its turn in the quilting queue. It was more important to me for the Christmas one to get done first, so I'll be waiting a little longer for this one to get quilted. Koleen's original pattern had some flying geese blocks and a partial border in flying geese for an asymmetrical look. My husband likes everything to be perfectly symmetrical, so I made those blocks and then substituted more of the Jacob's Ladder blocks in the finished top. Although this is a huge quilt, the pieces are large, and it went together pretty quickly. This will go on my bed when it's done.

Koleen has released 2 other new patterns as well--Cardinals in the Courtyard and Making New Friends--and you can see the versions Barbara and Sherry made on Barbara's blog. You can see all 4 patterns on Koleen's website here.

Not only is Koleen a pattern designer and longarm quilter extraordinaire, but she is also a prolific quilter. All four of these are Koleen's quilts. The log cabins will go upstairs in the loft of her studio, which is still under construction and where she will eventually have overnight guests.

You're probably wondering what the heck I did all day. Before I went to Koleen's I cut out the pieces for 4 of MaryJ's strippies; and I cut up my Turning Twenty quilt blocks that I made way back in February or March into strips for a lasagna-style quilt, because I didn't really care for the Turning Twenty pattern. What I actually accomplished was I finished the last 4 of my Theresa's Stars quilt blocks, and I assembled one strippy top. Not so much really, but we had fun, socialized, and had a yummy lunch too.

Credit where credit is due:
Twelve Stars Til Christmas and Tug O' War quilt designs by Koleen Painchaud, The Quilted Cardinal