Monday, June 30, 2008

Another Quick Block

Today's DJ block is "C-1 Trooper Green's Badge", a beginner-level paper-pieced block.
This is starting to become an obsession...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

No DJ Block Today

I'm in the process of preparing a couple of applique DJ blocks that I will work on at the July 7th meeting of my guild's Dear Jane group, so I don't have any completed blocks to show today. But since I don't like to post without a picture, here's another one of my early projects, a small wallhanging. It was the first quilted piece that I had entered in my guild's first exhibit back in 2000. It's quite amateurish, but I wanted to have something to show, so this is what I came up with. I call it "Midnight in Moscow". I used a buttonhole stitch around the towers, echo machine quilted in the dark blue, and used metallic gold thread to hand stitch the crosses on the onion domes and the stars and moon in the sky.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Absolutely Breathtaking!

I can't believe that this is my third post today, but I had to quickly add this to show a spectacular Dear Jane quilt being raffled off by the Empire Quilters Guild. Take a look at the larger shots of the front and back, as well as the closeups of individual blocks. I don't think they'll have any trouble at all selling raffle tickets...

I Wasn't Going To Make a Block Today...

My guild's exhibit is coming up in just over 2 months, so I was going to take some time out from making DJ blocks to work on the quilt that I hope to enter. As I got ready this morning to load the quilt onto my HQ-16, I decided that I really didn't like what I had used for the backing. This means that I need to get more fabric (darn!) and will make a trip to my local fabric shop later in the week.

I should have used the time to clean my house, but guess what I did instead? The picture shows you the answer...

It is "K-1 Crooked Creek", which is appropriate since we don't live too far from Crooked Creek where my husband likes to kayak and birdwatch. The pieces could easily be rotary cut, but I prefer the accuracy of paper piecing. This is listed as an intermediate-level block in the software. Again, the colors are more vibrant in person.

There Is Nothing Like Fresh Local Strawberries in June

June means strawberry season around here and here's some of what our garden has produced this year. Most of our berries probably go to the birds/slugs/chipmunks, etc, but at least they are kind enough to leave a few for us.

In honor of this time of year, I decided to make "H-3 Berry Baskets". Ideally I would have used red fabrics, but this block happens to fall in the dark blue row of my DJ design. Again, fairly straightforward paper piecing; the software labels this block as intermediate level.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Can You Spot What I Fixed?

Well, sort of fixed...

In my pre-blog life, I would have made the block on the left ("E-3 Paddle Wheels") and not worried about the fact that one of the points will be chopped off when I sew this block onto a sashing piece. However, because I now have photos of these blocks in cyberspace where they are out there for the whole world (and the Quilt Police) to see, I decided that I had to try to fix it. The better (but not perfect) one is will probably still be chopped off a bit, but maybe if I sew a really, really scant 1/4 inch, it won't be too bad.

It's good enough for me...

I paper pieced this block, but it could be easily done with rotary cutting as well.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sewing With Other Quilters

Once a month, my guild has an open sewing session where members bring their various sewing projects (or other needlework) and spend a few hours enjoying each other's company. I brought some of my DJ blocks with me to work on yesterday, and this is the result. It is "H-8 Eaton's Crossroads", combining paper piecing and appliqueing. I think it took at least 3 hours from start to finish, maybe more, to complete. Again, it's not perfect, but at least it's finished.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Off to Sisters, Oregon

No DJ blocks today because I'm busy getting the labels sewn onto 2 quilts that I will be sending to the Sisters, Oregon Outdoor Quilt Show which is scheduled for July 12th. Here are a couple of photos of the quilts that are going there this year. The first is called "Christmas 'Point'Settia".

The second is "Twisted Stitches", front and back.

I was fortunate enough to attend last year's show with my family and got to see one of my quilts on display there. It was quite thrilling. It was also a great boost to my ego to have the quilt sold -- perhaps the two this year will sell as well. If you want to see all of the quilts that will be for sale at the Sisters show, just clink on the link in the first paragraph and then click on "Preview 'For Sale' Quilts Here".

I have to recommend that if you love quilts and love to go to quilt shows, you must go to the Sisters show at least once in your life. It is breathtaking. Pictures will never do it justice, but if you'd like to see shots of my trip last year, click on the "Anya's Photos on Webshots" link listed under "Favorite Links" on the right side of my blog.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

One More...

The wonderful weather that we started off with on Laurel Festival parade day (see previous post), didn't last all day, so I had some time to quickly complete another DJ block. Unfortunately, the parade was cut short due to a thunderstorm.

This block didn't take long. It's "I-2 Kaye's Courtyard", another paper-pieced one. If I don't tackle some tough ones next, I know I'll get bogged down with them later.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer in a Small Town

My adopted home town of the last 11 years, Wellsboro PA, is home to the annual Pennsylvania State Laurel Festival held in June. The weather this parade day is absolutely glorious and Wellsboro shows itself off well. Although the parade is today, Saturday, the lawn chairs starting sprouting along the parade route (2 miles long) several days ago. Visitors are always amazed that the chairs never go missing, even after sitting out unattended day and night. This is just one of the delights of small-town living.

The Wellsboro Diner was a busy place this morning!

The arts and crafts and food fair will be a busy place as well.

I've had very little time for quilting during these Laurel Festival days. I hope to get another DJ block done in the next day or so. In the meantime...I think I'll hit the bag of kettle corn that we just brought home...

Thursday, June 19, 2008


This is much better. I knew I couldn't live with my first attempt at "F-4 Star Struck" (see post from a couple of days ago), so I made another one in more contrasting fabrics. It's still bright, but the star is definitely more noticeable. Very straightforward paper-pieced block.

A Quilter Can Never Have Enough Stuff

Here are a couple of new supplies/gadgets to help me along my DJ journey...

A headlamp was recommended to me by a fellow guild member who makes the most exquisite applique quilts of anyone I know. It will come in handy when I attempt to applique DJ blocks in less-than-ideal lighting conditions. It's not usually too bad when I'm sewing at home, but on the road, at retreats, or at other quilters' homes, the lighting can leave a bit to be desired. The strap is comfortable and the intensity of the light can be adjusted, as well as the angle. For those who prefer not to wear the strap, the light can be removed and then clipped onto a ballcap or visor. It even has an emergency flash mode (in case I stab myself with a needle and need to summon help). I purchased it at a local "outdoor adventures" store, Wild Asaph Outfitters, where the woman who waited on me seemed taken aback that I wanted one of these to use when I sew. I don't know why she was surprised...the store is located right next door to our local fabric shop...Needles Quilt Shop.

The long tube contains spools of 5 different neutral colors of silk thread. When I started my DJ project, I had purchased one spool of gray silk thread, hoping it would match most of my fabrics. I wasn't satisfied with how it looked on certain colors, so I bit the bullet and ordered 5 neutrals which should work with most anything.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sunglasses Required

This block is "F-7 Star Struck" and if you ask me, it has too much orange fabric. I don't like it very much because the two fabrics are too similar in value. Separately, they seem to be different enough, but when cut into very small pieces, there isn't much contrast. I suspect that I will do this one over at some point, but for now I am considering F-7 to be finished.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back on Track

This is "F-4 Old Windmill", another easy one. Again, most of my time was spent selecting fabrics. A trip to Verna's Fabrics down in Mifflinburg a couple of weeks ago provided me with about 28 more 1/4-yard cuts of batiks to use. If you've never been down there, you must go -- she has loads of fabric at wonderful prices. I've never seen such a large collection of pre-quilted fabric in one shop before.
On our trip down there, my quilting friends and I also stopped at a fabulous farmers' market in Lewisburg (on the way to Mifflinburg). Lots of fresh vegetables and fruits along with flowers and yummy food. Sticky buns and pies made by local Mennonite and Amish bakers. On the way, we had a delight for our eyes as we saw many Amish buggys coming home from market. We all agreed that we must always plan our trips for Wednesdays since that is the only day of the week that the market is open. And we plan to get there earlier next time in order to get the best selection of pies. By lunchtime, many of them had been sold out!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

First Milestone

I am now one-fifth of the way toward meeting my goal of finishing 50 blocks by my 50th birthday. With 10 blocks now completed, all I need to do is to average 2 blocks a week for the next 4+ months in order to meet that goal.

This has been such a busy week that I haven't really had much of a chance to work on my DJ blocks. I did manage to squeeze in half an hour or so to make this one -- "J-4, Adelaine's Apron Strings". Most of the half hour was spent deciding on which fabrics to use. Again, the photo doesn't do the colors justice.
I also tried to applique another block, but wasn't happy with how the gray silk thread was showing up on the gold and rust color fabrics I was using. So I gave up and ordered a package of 5 various neutral colors of silk thread which should make things easier.
There are fewer and fewer easy blocks left...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Off Topic a Bit

This week has been so busy and with guests coming this weekend, I probably won't complete another DJ block for a while. In the meantime, just to keep the blog from getting stale, I've decided to throw in another photo once in a while. Reading another quilter's blog recently gave me the idea of posting photos of my old quilting projects in between DJ posts.
This was my first quilt, a Colorsplash Trip Around the World, which I started in November 1998 and finished in July 2000. My best advice to new quilters...don't pick such a large project as your first quilt!

When I decided to make this, I was a novice at quilting and very afraid of color. Those who know me now know that color is no longer a problem in my quilts. I also knew nothing about machine quilting, so I decided to hand quilt diagonally through EVERY SINGLE 1.25-inch SQUARE (all 2,255 of them)! Don't ask whatever possessed me to do so. Although I found hand quilting to be very relaxing and therapeutic, I found that it took too long. No wonder -- look at the size of the quilt! The outer border is machine quilted with large on-point squares .
Even though this is my first quilt, I display it proudly on the large wall of our great room. It fits perfectly there and visitors often comment on it. When I finish my Dear Jane (notice that I said "when" not "if" I finish), this is probably the only wall where it will fit. We'll see which quilt wins the battle for the prime real estate.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

In the Company of Women

Wow! What a wonderful day and evening it was yesterday at the first working meeting of my guild’s DJ group. The turnout was great -- at least 15 or 16 Janiacs in the afternoon and 8 in the evening. Some even stayed for both sessions. We spent the time oohing and aahing over each other’s blocks and getting tips on thread, hand piecing, paper piecing, life...

These are my first appliquéd blocks. “B-2 Sweet Tater Pie” and “E-10 Five & Dime”. I used gray silk thread since I needed to hide my stitches as much as possible (as you can see, I didn’t score 100% on that test). The silk thread was not as slippery as I had feared, but I did have to take care not to pull too tightly or the thread would break.

I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed getting together with my fellow quilters, some of whom I know well and others not so well. I was inspired by the exquisite work I saw displayed and came home energized to keep working on my blocks. To those who were there yesterday-- if you are reading this...thank you, thank you, thank you. I value your willingness to share skills, your appreciation of the beautiful things in life, and most of all, your friendship. No one forces you to attend gatherings like this, but you come anyway. What a joy it is to be in this company of women of the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Couple of Easy Ones Today

After making the labor-intensive last block, it was time for me to do a couple of easy ones. Here are the results.

The first is "M-10 Simple Simon" (what could be easier?) and the second is "A-8 Florence Nightingale". My computer insists on showing the gold/yellow fabric as orange, but then I think we all can agree that pictures of anything can never do the real thing justice.

My guild's first real working meeting of the DJ club is tomorrow afternoon and evening -- we have 2 sessions to accommodate everyone's schedules. I'm looking forward to seeing what others have done and getting pointers on how to improve my applique skills. I have 4 blocks ready to be appliqued, so hopefully the next post will include a couple shots of those (if I'm not too embarrassed to show them).

I've been doing way too many easy blocks, but at least they have gotten me excited about the project. The next paper-pieced block will have to include a lot of teeny pieces and there are certainly many to choose from. The easy ones will be few and far between from now on, I'm afraid.