Monday, September 29, 2008

A Walk Through Chautauqua

The bus trip to the Quilting Around Chautauqua festival was fun and the location was gorgeous. I especially loved this house... Here's a closeup of the side...
I didn't spend much with the vendors...all I bought were 2 charm packs to make a couple of bags. I hope the person who first thought up the idea of charm packs and jelly rolls got a hefty bonus from his/her employer since I'm sure it's brought in a ton of money for the company. I know they are more expensive than just buying yardage, but for small projects that require a large variety of fabrics, the charm packs and jelly rolls are great. I have seen jelly rolls that only have a couple of fabrics, but those don't make sense to me. It's not all that hard to buy a yard of fabric and cut it into strips yourself. But then I also don't see the point of buying frozen pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! For those of you who haven't made your children's lunches in a while, yes, there are such things in your grocer's freezer.

Here are a few more shots of the location...

And here are a couple of quilting friends on the steps of the grand hotel on the property. The front porch was a great place to rock away some time after seeing the quilts and vendors.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Early Bird Gets A Good Seat On The Bus

I will be spending tomorrow at the Quilting Around Chautauqua festival where there are supposed to be over 900 quilts on display from guilds all around the Chautauqua, NY area. The bus leaves at 5 AM (yikes!) and I hope to be home by 11 PM. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. Thankfully, I'm not doing the driving.
There will be vendors, of course, but I'm going mostly because I love to see quilts in person. And I use quilt shows as an opportunity to get ideas about machine camera will be full of photos by the time the day is done, I'm sure.
The Dear Jane block I finished today is "D-9 Uncle Richard", an intermediate-level paper-pieced block. I may be so exhausted after the bus trip that I may not have another block done for a while...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Final Days

It's hard to believe, but there are only a few more days to see the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild Exhibit in Wellsboro, PA. The exhibit is displayed at the Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center on Main Street and will be open through Sunday, September 28th from 2 until 5 PM daily. There is no admission fee and there are just under 100 exquisite quilted items to see. In addition, there are a couple of wonderful raffle prizes as well, including a queen-size quilt and some quilter's gift baskets. Click on the highlighted link above to learn more.
Come see the show before it becomes just a memory!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Splendid Fall Walk

My husband and I took advantage of this gorgeous fall weather today (low 70s, dry and sunny with a clear blue sky) to take a walk at Hills Creek State Park, a park within easy walking distance of our house. Here are a few photos from the walk... We had the park almost to ourselves. There were only a few people in the campground and a few using the pavilions for lunch. Every time we take a walk in our neighborhood, we can't believe how fortunate we are to live where we do. Although I can't really say it was fortune -- it was a definite decision on our part to leave our life (and more than half our income) in Northern Virginia 11 years ago and move our family to a place where we could really enjoy our lives.
It was the best decision we ever made....
This life I have allows me to spend a lot of time doing what I really enjoy doing. One of those things is quilting.

This is "A-2 One, Two Buckle My Shoe", an intermediate-level paper-pieced block.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Almost Time For Flannel Quilts

Now that we are into fall, it will soon be time to put the flannel quilt on the bed. I made the large one (about 96" by 96") in late 2001 and quilted it on my Bernina. The entire thing took forever to make -- I think I counted at least 80 hours worth of work from start to finish (after that I decided that I was no longer going to keep track of how long it takes to make a quilt). I quilted it in the ditch using monofilament thread. That is another example of a time when I wished I had some sort of home quilting machine. I can't believe it took me another 4+ years before I found what I wanted.
I worked on the binding while I was visiting my parents for Thanksgiving that year and my father admired it so much that I decided to make him a small throw for his birthday in Feb 2002 using the same pattern and fabrics. The throw still has a home on my parents' sofa. You should be able to click on the pictures to see larger versions.
The pattern is based on Debbie Caffrey's "Scraps To You, Too". The blocks needed some squaring up and I'm afraid I didn't do it properly, but it still works fine for me. I have learned a lot about squaring up blocks since then...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Block

For this Sunday morning I made "F-8 Church Window", an advanced-level paper-pieced block. Don't start with this one if you are new to paper piecing. The small pieces aren't too tough, but you have to make sure that you cut pieces big enough to fit on the paper when you sew on the outside diamond shapes. The angles can fool you. Again, I'm pleased with the accuracy -- no points cut off and very,very, very close to 5" square.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chilly Fall Nights

The night-time temperatures are starting to drop here in northern Pennsylvania, so I thought I'd post a few photos of a fleece throw that I quilted on my HQ16 last spring. I had intentions of quilting it with a pantograph (the one that came with the machine) so that I could practice. You should be able to see one row of it on the dark side of the throw. After finishing one row of the pantograph, I decided that I really didn't like doing it (I didn't like the pattern, didn't like taking the time to figure out the spacing so it fit properly all the way down the quilt, didn't like the "planned" look, etc). So I decided to just free-motion the rest of it using a large stylized meander or whatever you want to call it. I just turned on the machine and off I went.
Getting away from concentrating on the laser light following the pantograph was very freeing. The rest of the quilting went very easily. I did want a somewhat controlled look, so I decided to end it with a row of the pantograph design at the bottom of the throw as well.
I used 2 yards of anti-pill fleece (bought at 50% off at Joann's) on each side, but I think I will use 2 1/2 yards next time to make it a bit longer. And it may be hard to believe, but I used a cream-colored thread on the top and in the bobbin, but it sank in so much into the fleece that you can't tell what the thread looks like on either side. All you see is the quilting pattern.

This was fun to do and makes for a very warm throw in a short amount of time. I think Joann's is having a fleece sale next week, so I'll probably go by some more. This is a great way to practice quilting on the HQ16.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'll Never Complain Again...

...about removing paper from my paper-pieced projects... check out this post.

Not So Bad After All

This is "I-9 Chase a Myth", an advanced-level paper-pieced block. Although last night I wasn't looking forward to tearing out all 41 (not 42 as I previously mentioned) pieces of paper on the back, it turned out to be a myth that it would take long. Using a small stitch helps quite a bit with the removal. However, the smaller stitching can make it a pain if you need to remove stitches, so be careful as you go. On this block, there was no need to match seams when I had to sew the two outer triangle sections onto the larger middle section, so my chances of having to tear out stitching were fairly low.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This Is What Is Keeping Me Busy

Hopefully, I'll post a photo of the front of this block tomorrow...after I spend all night tearing out 42 teeny pieces of paper...

Monday, September 15, 2008

We're 10! (almost)

At tonight's meeting, the guild I belong to -- the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild -- will celebrate its 10th birthday. On September 28, 1998, 28 quilters from Tioga and Potter counties in north-central Pennsylvania showed up for the first meeting. In the 10 years that the guild has been in existence, it has grown to about 150 members -- most from the northern tier of PA and the southern tier of NY. Fourteen of the charter members are still on the rolls. Little did we know that our guild would grow to be so popular and that our quilt exhibits would be so successful.

For tonight's meeting, we're all supposed to bring a fat quarter wrapped up as a present...that's all we's how I wrapped mine...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

No Pain Diamonds

I had been avoiding making this block because I really don't want to sew set-in seams if I can help it.

At a Laurel Jane meeting earlier this summer, a fellow guild member told me that she had made this block using Nancy Johnson-Srebro's method from her book called "Stars By Magic". Boy, am I glad I listened to her. The technique explained in the book required no diamond shapes to be cut, only squares and rectangles. Yes, there are a few more seams than you would have if you were to sew this with the traditional set-in seams, but to me it is worth it.

The book has cutting instructions for blocks of all sizes, however I had to work a bit with the 4 and 5 inch block instructions in order to make it come out right for a 4 1/2-inch finished size. But it wasn't rocket science.

The name of the block is "G-8 Justin's Comet", an intermediate-level block. It was the first one for which I used just a rotary-cutting method, no paper piecing or applique involved.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mission (Part 1) Accomplished!

Yesterday's block was block number 50, so I've reached my first goal with 7 weeks to spare. This is a photo of the 102 different fabrics that I've used so far. All but one of the blocks had 2 fabrics, but "B-13 Four Corner Press" had 4. From now on I will use some of these again. My bank account can't afford quarter-yard cuts of 450+ fabrics!

Now I have to think about what to set as the next major milestone. There is no way that I can make another 50 blocks by my birthday, so I think I'll try to reach the 100 mark by the first day of 2009.

Well, now that I've thought about that for 10 seconds, I think that's too ambitious, especially since there aren't many easy blocks left. Let's try for 75 (total) by January 1, 2009. That I think I can handle.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Boiling Point And A Wish For The Youngest Generation

After hearing this ... (among other things)

-- Pressed about what insights into recent Russian actions she gained by living in Alaska, Palin told Charles Gibson of ABC News, "They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska."... blood pressure was so high, that I had to go and sew to relax...

I made "K-13 Brandon's Star", another intermediate-level paper-pieced block that wasn't too tough. This is made in honor of my extended family's youngest member, my cousin's 6-month-old son Brandon, whose Russian grandfather's childhood was interrupted by the horrors of war (the real horrors of having bombs dropping out of the sky and having to flee a homeland with almost nothing but the clothing on your back, things that most living Americans have never experienced).

Brandon, I hope you have a chance to grow up in a safer world than we have today and that the leaders of our precious country (the one that welcomed your grandfather with open arms) realize what they are doing when they talk about war as easily as if it was just another hockey tournament....

P.S. I'm afraid it's going to take a lot more sewing...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

End of the World?

Well, I guess that since the world didn't end yesterday as some had feared because of the CERN collider, that means that I need to keep working on my DJ blocks. My 16-year-old son tells me that yesterday's test wasn't really the complete test -- that comes in late October. All the scientists did yesterday was make the particles go around in circles -- on October 21st, they hope to make the particles collide. THAT's when the world is supposed to end.

Drats, that's only days before my 50th birthday! Whose bright idea was that? Can't they just wait another 2 weeks or so? I would like to live to be at least a half-century old.

Anyway, this is "L-8 Box Kite", an intermediate-level paper-pieced block. I would think a beginner could handle this without too much trouble.

Although I'm doing well toward my first goal of 50 blocks by my 50th birthday, I don't really think I can finish the quilt by Oct the world better not end...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Back to DJ

It's been almost a week since I posted a photo of a DJ block, but I finally had a chance to finish another applique one at yesterday's gathering of the Laurel Janes.

Like Susan in her post here, I have tried all sorts of applique methods and am not a fan of any of them so far. At yesterday's meeting, there was a lot of chatter about the method Susan discusses and the consensus among the newbie appliquers seemed to be that this method produces the best-looking blocks (at least for us). I did not use this method for this one, "D-3 Jason's Jacks", a beginner-level block, but I will try it for the next applique block I attempt.

If you would like to read more about the Laurel Janes, click here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

More Quilt Exhibit Photos

Here are a few more shots of the gallery where our guild's exhibit is hanging through September 28th. Click on them to see larger versions...

As you can see, we have some extremely talented quilters here in what seems to be the middle of don't have to live in a big city to have appreciation for and involvement in art and culture. And it's a whole lot less crowded and stressful...
P.S. Many thanks to those who took the time to vote for my quilt on Quilting Gallery!