Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cold Virus Strikes

I think it took me longer to get this photo from my camera into my blog than it did to make the block! I don't usually have any trouble getting the photos in quickly, but my computer was not cooperating today. Perhaps it has the same cold virus that I have!

This is "B-8, Water Lily", an intermediate-level applique block. I chose to use my current favorite applique method -- raw-edge machine-buttonhole stitch. I know that there is no way I could have made those points this sharp if I had attempted needle-turn on this one!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Quilt Police = Housing Police?

This is a small wallhanging I made in August 2004 for our guild's challenge that year. The theme was houses, so I decided to make it a statement about my feelings about homeowner associations. The name of the quilt is "There Goes the Neighborhood". You may not be able to see it in the photo, but all the three "boring" houses have nothing that makes them particularly interesting. The 4th house has sparkly gold curtains and pink flamingos in the front yard. And of course, none of the patterns on the exterior of the house match.

I have nothing against wanting homes to be well-taken care of and pleasing to look at, but I don't feel that we need "housing police" to tell us what color our mailboxes should be, etc. Most people I know have some pride and do care about outward appearances without having to have rules about it. And a little bit of individuality is what makes life interesting.

And that's what I like in quilts -- no quilt police allowed.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'll Get To My DJ Blocks Soon, I Hope

I've been busy working on some non-DJ projects lately. There are several guild projects that I'm taking part in right now.

The guild has a retreat coming up next month -- I won't be attending, but the retreat organizers are allowing all guild members to participate in a block drawing that will be held at the retreat. For each block that a member donates, she will get one chance for a set of blocks. They had such a great turnout last time for a drawing like this that they had to have several winners! I think they're expecting the same or better this time around. I plan to make 4 blocks.

This is the block that we're all supposed to do -- no rules about fabric except that the small squares running on the diagonal should be light. The fabric I've used comes from my stash, some of it donated from another guild member who gave me some generous pieces of her scraps. Thanks Dori!

On another subject...if any of my blog readers read the police report in our local paper, they may see my name sometime soon...after taking my 16-year-old son shopping for dress clothes yesterday, I'm worried that he may turn me in for child abuse! You'd think that he was being drawn and quartered...I dread what will happen when we go back next week to pick up the altered slacks!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Retreats Are Not Just For Quilting

This past weekend's mini-retreat included a dish-to-pass meal, so this is what I decided to contribute.

Cake pops, a la Bakerella...but mine are not as neat as hers. Not bad for a first attempt, though. Here's a link to her version, and while you're visiting her blog, take a look around...there's some amazing stuff to see. Just click on her header and it will take you to her most current posts. She also makes amazing cupcake pops.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Watch Those Angles

This is "M-11, Rickshaw", an advanced-level paper-pieced block. It's not all that difficult, but you do have to take things slowly and watch all the angles. Be sure to cut your fabric pieces large enough for each section, and then be careful matching the seams when sewing the sections together. Mine isn't perfect, but it's better and took less time than one of the first blocks I made with diamonds.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What Happens at the Lake House, Stays at the Lake House

What a fun day I had yesterday with the other Laurel Janes...

Eat, Laugh, Quilt -- that was our motto all day. I think we would all agree that we had a wonderful time. We may have even inspired a newbie or two...

This first photo shows 4 quilts in progress. I blogged about the one in the foreground in this post back in early January. Angie, the maker of that one, is currently working on the outer triangles (I'm afraid she was using a few colorful words yesterday...).

The blocks on the bed are 6-inch blocks, all hand-pieced by Rita. By the end of the day, she had several rows pieced with alternating cream-colored blocks, using an on-point setting. I think on-point settings are very pleasing to the eye, don't you?

These red and cream blocks are made by Mary Jane, one of the co-founders of our guild. Her applique work (well, all of her work, actually) is exquisite.

The three rows of 30s fabrics on the top of the design wall were made by Nancy. She has joined me in the "jubilee" stage in her project, with more than 100 of the center blocks finished. I admire her determination to start in the middle of the quilt and work her way out. That had been my initial plan, but after I made this block, that plan went out the window for me.

The very un-Jane-looking bright blocks on the bottom of the design wall are some of mine. I did not want to do very much yesterday that required a lot of thinking, so I just started to sew my blocks together with sashing. There will be cornerstones as well, using 1-inch squares of scraps from my's going to be a wild and crazy-looking quilt. I figure it will go well with my Eastern European heritage -- nothing ever matches...checks and plaids and stripes all go together, right? Look at St Basil's Cathedral in Moscow...that works, doesn't it?

Although my quilt will be "Anya's Quilt", in a big way I consider it to be a group project. I can't begin to express how thankful I am for how much I have learned from other quilters, both in my guild and in blogland. It is thanks to all of you that I continue with this journey...

Anyway, I had a great time with my fellow quilters at Moddy's lake house (thank you so much, Moddy), but I have one final word of advice...ladies, be sure you always know where your panties are...enough said.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mini-Retreat Day!

Today I'm off on a mini-retreat of my guild's DJ group, the Laurel Janes. We're meeting at a member's house overlooking the lake at a state park about a mile from my home. It will be 12 hours of non-stop fun!

I hope to start sewing some of the blocks together today.

This is "G-10, Woven Meadow", an intermediate-level block that I chose to paper piece, but it could also be easily done with rotary-cut pieces. The green is much prettier in person.

Friday, February 20, 2009

In the Pink!

Wow! I won another wonderful giveaway -- this time from Cathie at Clevelandgirlie. It's filled with lovely pink fabrics and embellishments as well as a gorgeous fabric postcard and an "inchie". Thank you Cathie! Go check out her blog...she has a lot of pretty things on there. I wish I could be as creative as she is. Thanks to Cathie, I can no longer blame it on the fact that I don't have the ingredients...I just need the talent.
P.S. Here's a link to an "inchie" tutorial...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More Paper Piecing

The colors are washed out on this one again. The yellow and orange are a lot more vibrant in person.

I can't believe that I am still finding fairly easy blocks to paper piece. I thought that most of what I had remaining involves curved or pointy applique pieces.

This is "G-9, Mary's Journey", an intermediate-level paper-pieced block.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

With A Little Help From My Friends

This is the project that I recently finished made from selvages collected from many of my quilting friends. It now hangs on a door in my sewing studio...

I had great fun working on this -- my inspiration comes from Karen Griska's Selvage Blog.

The binding was finished with the machine buttonhole stitch as I explained in this post last week.

I've named this piece "With A Little Help From My Friends" because I couldn't have made it without them...just don't tell them that Moda now sells selvages in a bag! Before you know it, my friends may decide to sell theirs on Ebay!

Anyway, a big thank you goes out from me to my very giving friends...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Falling Off the Wagon is Patriotic, Isn't It?

On Saturday, I went on a Stash-Enhancing eXpedition (got your attention, there, didn't I?) with 5 of my quilting friends to a shop about an hour from my home called O' Susannah's Quilts and Gifts up in Watkins Glen, NY.

The shop had invited customers to bring in unwanted fabric from their stashes the previous weekend and get store coupons in return. The unwanted stash was then offered for sale at $2 per yard to everyone else on Valentine's Day, with the proceeds going to United Way. Great excuse to go fabric shopping, right? Do something good for those less fortunate.

Anyway, we got there right as the store opened and were a bit disappointed to find out that there hadn't been too many quilters who had been willing to part with some of their stash. I did manage to find a nice 2 1/2-yard piece of colorful fabric that would make a nice backing to a kid's quilt someday. Couldn't beat the $5 price tag -- and the money went to charity anyway.

I figured that I had to do my patriotic duty to keep our country's economy flowing and to help keep a small business afloat, so I also bought some white fabric for a project that's been hanging around in my head; the bundle of fat quarters was calling my name as well. They just scream spring, don't they? And we all could use some of that right now, right?

Anyway, it was a fun day with a quick stop at another small shop in Corning, NY called Corning Stitchworks and the Old World Cafe where we had a marvelous lunch.

To top it all off, when I got home, I had a small surprise waiting for me in the mailbox. It was a free fat quarter of pretty blue fabric and a nice thank-you note from Quilted Pink -- they sent a free fat quarter to the first 10 people who signed their guestbook and I was one of the lucky ones.

A great day all around!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Purple Passion

I'm loving the machine-buttonhole stitch technique that I've used in this block and in previous posts here and here. These hearts were cut out as 1 piece rather than 4 and then I just outlined them with the buttonhole/blanket stitch. This would have taken me hours to do if I had tried needle-turn or reverse applique, but today it only took an hour out of my morning.

This is "H-12, Hannah Lou's Hearts", an intermediate-level block.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fun Quilting

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to quilt another top for a friend of mine. Isn't this cute? She used 20 different fish fabrics for the fish bowls.

You can see other tops that I've quilted for her here, here, and here.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Why Do a Y Seam?

This looks a bit strange, but the triangles will all be the same size (or fairly close to the same) once this block is sewn together with the others. Right now a few of the triangles look funny, don't they? Of course, the final seams will take care of the problem.

This is "H-10, Ben's Bowtie", an intermediate-level block that I chose to paper piece. The software printed out the sections so that several Y seams would be necessary, but I redrew the sections to eliminate all of them. The Y seams only make things more difficult, in my opinion.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Gift of Quilts

Another one of my quilts -- this one was from the book "Quilts from The Quiltmaker's Gift". I made it in mid-2004 for my cousin Julia. She picked the pattern and the colors and left the fabric choices to me. I don't usually like two-fabric quilts, but I really liked how this one came out. I did, however, get tired of making the same block over and over and over again. My friend Janet did a wonderful machine-quilting job on it. (This was in my pre-HQ16 days).

This quilt gave me a wonderful gift ...Julia's father (an uncle that I was very close to) was diagnosed with very aggressive stomach cancer around Thanksgiving of 2003 and passed away 6 weeks later. It was a great shock to the whole family...I still think of him often. I dove right into making the quilt shortly after my uncle's death because I knew that Julia needed it and because I needed it. The process of making the quilt was good for my healing and I like to think that the finished quilt itself was good for Julia's healing.

If you've never read "The Quiltmaker's Gift" you must. Lovely story and exquisite illustrations. All babies who get a quilt from me also get a copy of the book. Second babies get a quilt and a copy of "The Quiltmaker's Journey".

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Love the Internet

Almost every day, I am reminded of how wonderful a thing the internet is (yes, it has its downside, but so do most things in life).

I found this video on another blog the other day and thought I'd share it with you. I had been considering getting a dress form because I've had a hankerin' (oh, no...I sound like a certain Alaskan governor...) to do some garment sewing again. I fell in love with making some of my clothes back in 8th grade and have dabbled in it over the years. I just don't plan to do enough of it to make the cost of a real dress form worth it...this might be worth a try...(like I don't have enough projects in my head already...)

If you go to YouTube and do a search on "duct tape dress form", a few other videos will show up.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Quick Binding Stitch

I usually prefer to sew my bindings on to the back of my quilts by hand, but once in a while I don't think the project is worth the time for that.

This is a sneak peek at my current project (other than the DJ quilt), which will be a wall hanging for my sewing studio. I machine-stitched the binding to the back of the quilt and then used the buttonhole stitch on my sewing machine to sew the binding on to the front. The back looks horrible because it doesn't line up with the edge of the binding as nicely as on the front, but it doesn't matter to me since it will just be on the wall. It won't go to any contests or any shows anywhere and won't be given away as a gift to anyone, so I'm fine with it.

I had some old leftover variegated thread that I had no plans for, so I just used it for this. I had issues with shredding thread, bad tension, and skipped stitches, but I kept going because it mostly did the job. Perfection was not needed here. I just wanted to use up the thread and to sew the binding on quickly. I now use a different brand of variegated thread for machine quilting that I like much better -- a lot fewer problems than with this thread.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Behind Bars

If the quilt police hung around my sewing studio, they'd probably find all sorts of reasons to put me in jail. But right now I'm keeping them at far I think I could only be accused of misdemeanors. Not worth their time...

Anyway, this is "E-9, Quilt Jail", an intermediate-level paper-pieced block. It only took me about an hour.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Fabric Stash -- A Favorite Topic

One of my favorite blogs...Sew, Mama, Sew...has invited readers to answer some questions about their fabric stashes and to post here goes...

What do you usually sew? -- Mostly quilts, but I also love to make other things such as bags, wallets, pillowcases, fabric gift items, etc. You can see many of my projects here.

When you shop for fabric, what size cuts do you usually buy? (i.e. If you see something beautiful, but you don’t have a use for it right away, how much do you buy?) -- I don’t usually buy more than a yard unless I really love it and know I will use it. If I buy smaller pieces, I can buy a larger variety of fabrics.

Do you buy on impulse or do you go out looking for something you need?
-- Yes to both...who doesn’t? But I am currently in the 12-step recovery program for impulse-buying fabricoholics.

Are you a pre-washer? If you are, do you wash your fabric before you need it, or only when you’re ready to use it? -- I only pre-wash flannel fabric and only when I’m ready to cut it up for a project.

Do you iron it? -- Oh yes, all of my fabric...with Mary Ellen’s Best Press.

How do you sort it? (color, print size, collection, etc.) -- Mostly by style -- batiks, fun kid/novelty prints, florals, boring fabrics, etc.

Do you have any special folding techniques? -- Not really. How do you fold scraps? Or selvages?

How do you store your fabric? -- In plastic bins mostly. This photo is just of the scrap bins...the others are a bit neater.

What tips do you have for building up a well-rounded stash? -- Shop much and shop often.

When do you say enough is enough? Just like a girl can never have too many shoes...she can never have enough fabric. We need to do our part for the economic recovery.

What are some of your favorite stash-busting projects? Kids’ quilts and charity quilts. See some of mine here.

Do you have a current favorite print in your stash? Let’s see it! -- That’s like asking me if I have a favorite child...but since I only have one child, I guess that argument doesn’t work.

What’s your definition of the perfect stash? -- A perfect stash is like a perfect husband -- always there when I need it, but tucked away out of sight when I don't want to be reminded of how long I've had it! ...only kidding, sweety : )

Friday, February 6, 2009

Poof, It's Gone

While our furnace was being worked on yesterday, I worked on this block, "G-5 Poof", an intermediate-level block with an appliqued center. The background can either be paper-pieced or rotary-cut. Now that I look at it, I realize that one of the yellow strips is narrower than the other one. Oh well, I'm not doing it over.

I used the buttonhole stitch on my machine again (see the post here) to applique the raw edge of the center piece. It made for very quick work and I like the effect. The background fabric is actually purple, not blue as looks to me on the screen, and the other fabric is a lot more yellow and not so orangey.

The name of this block, "Poof", is very appropriate today, because "poof", the new, but more efficient and hopefully more reliable, furnace is making my money disappear...(at least our gas bill should be quite a bit lower).

In addition to that, my son (high school junior) just found out that he has been accepted for Cornell University's summer college...that means that "poof", more money will disappear...but it will be well worth it.