Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More Eye Candy from the Quilt Festival

There were several categories of displays at the Festival this weekend.  I wish I had taken even more pictures but here are a few that I didn't post yet.  Again, apologies for the photo quality.  These were all taken with my phone. The first two are both from the Quilts of Valor collection:
This next one was red and white.  It caught my eye because it had a traditional and modern look all in one.

This next one blew me away with it's complexity.  It was a prize winner, but my photo with the information about the creator isn't clear enough for me to read:

This next one caught my eye because it is embellished with machine embroidery in a unique way.  Each embroidery pattern is done two ways: first with full color and thread fill and second in a single color with outlines only.  I've wanted to do a piece with machine embroidered blocks since getting my new machine a few months ago.  Perhaps I can figure out how to do something similar to this.

There were quite a few art quilts on display as well as "wearable art" - quilted clothing and a small doll display.  Several groups were raffling off quilts as fund raisers.

And, of course there were many, many vendors.  One of my favorite booths was the Quilter's Dream Batting booth.  They had samples of all their various battings as well as a take home guide with small samples of each.  They sponsor a Hopes and Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS.  You make and donate a quilt to the challenge.  The quilts are used to raise awareness and research money for ALS, a fatal muscle disease also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  The quilts are given to ALS patients, auctioned, sold and displayed in various ways.  There are prizes awarded each year also and all the information is on the web site linked above. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Toys From the Quilt Festival: Volume 1

I didn't waste any time trying out my new toys from the quilt festival.  Yesterday I broke out my new rotary cutter.  When I returned to sewing two years ago, the rotary cutter was new to me.  I don't think it existed back in the stone ages when I learned to sew.  I was a bit skeptical of the need for all this special equipment that I supposedly needed to pursue my new hobby so I entered conservatively.  I bought a rather inexpensive rotary cutter.  It has served me well, but I wondered if I was missing anything by not having a "higher end" cutter.  The simple answer is, "yes".  My new OLFA cutter fits nicely in my hand and has a  feature that makes changing the blade very easy.  Of course it cuts better but it's not fair to compare this new blade to the used one in my old cutter.  The price difference really turned out to be very little for a much better product.  I'm sold.
The next new gadget I played with was a chalk marker.  Some of you reading this may be yawning about now because really these are NOT new gadgets.  But to me, so much was new.  I bought a Quilter's Chalk Line, iron away chalk, and a small chalk marker from Sue Pelland Designs (more about her awesome quilts in another post).  I haven't used the chalk line yet.  It's just like the chalk line my Dad used to mark things he was fixing around the house.  But I have used the iron off chalk and the small marker.  The chalk is like magic.  I used it on dark blue fabric to mark quilting lines and once I ironed over them they totally disappeared.  The marker has a little wheel in the tip that applies the magic chalk.  Reading about this doesn't compare to seeing it work.  When the demonstrator ironed away white lines on black fabric, I was sold again.

I can't wait to try the rest of my new toys!

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Quilt Packed Weekend

My dear, dear husband and I spent the weekend at the Mid-Altantic Quilt Festival.  It was my first time at an event celebrating all things quilting and I felt like a little girl in a candy store!
I had two days to look around at beautiful quilts and numerous vendors.  Even though I choose not to participate in a workshop or attend a lecture I feel like I learned SO much from watching some of the vendor demonstrations and asking questions.  The crowd was so pleasant!  The vendors were all so helpful.  The factory rep for Superior Threads spend 30 minutes giving me my own "tutorial" comparing and contrasting different threads! There were several places to sit when you needed to and even a nice concession stand with resonably priced offerings.  On Saturday my husband went to the show with me and even he enjoyed the experience!  It will take several posts for me to "download" all the info, but let me leave you with a few pictures:

This quilt was made by Peggy Kragnes of Felton, MN.  She named it "Green Miles".  It was made using green fabrics gathered on a 7000 mile road trip with a patient husband.  I think this was my favorite quilt of all.  But, I also liked:


This last one was had some interesting machine stitch detail that made the squirrel tails look fluffy.  My phone picture really doesn't do it justice.  It was made by Barbara Barrick McKie of Lyme, CT. She named it Backyard Entertainers.  The pictures are "digitally manipulated and printed on cotton, machine pieced and quilted on a home machine."

There's lots more to share.  At some point I actually stopped taking pictures because, honestly I could have photographed every quilt. They were so stunning.  It was inspiring, humbing and challenging all at once.  Just a great, great weekend!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Fabric Rescue

I've "adopted" some unwanted fabric.  It was given to me by a friend who felt that she had no use for a print this "vibrant" and thought I might be able to find a use for it.  There's a LOT of yardage here - about seven yards and 60 inches wide! And the print is a large scale.  You are looking at about a yard in length and half the width of the fabric here.
The colors remind me of some of the Quilts of Valor projects I've been working on but I'm not so sure about the flowers.  Some of my thoughts: quilt backing; border; a simple strip quilt with solids or small single color prints to break up the pattern; cut it up into smaller pieces to take advantage of the color.  I guess with seven yards I could pretty much do all of the above if I wanted to!   I'd love to hear any other suggestions so chime in!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Musical Blocks

When I'm given the task of arranging blocks at random, I find it difficult.  I over think the whole process. 
 I took home these blocks from Saturday's guild meeting and will sew them together into a quilt center. The only criteria is to alternate the four patch blocks with the solid blocks.  I've had them on my design wall for most of a week now. (BTW, I love saying that I have a "design wall". It's the same cork strip that I used to take vertical pictures of  the girl quilt with a large piece of felt to hold the blocks on) And about every day I rearrange the pieces a bit trying to find an arrangement that I'm satisfied with.  It's like the game of musical chairs.  Eventually the music will stop and I'll need to sew them together Hopefully the final arrangement will be suitable.  Taking pictures of the arrangements really helps, though. Your eye seems to take in the whole picture better when the overall size is smaller.  If anyone has a  feeling on the block placement I'd welcome the input - at least until the music stops!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Joining with Local Quilters

My area has a rich history of quilting and recently I thought it was time to meet some fellow quilters and become involved in their activities.  With that in mind, my dear husband enrolled me in the local quilting guild. Saturday was my first meeting.  What a great group of women (and two men)! I really enjoyed the morning and came home with some great opportunities to participate in their service projects.  I have some blocks to sew into a quilt top and I've made a few blocks to contribute to the next group project:

There is such a wealth of knowledge and experience in the group and I felt welcomed from the very start.  They meet monthly and every other month there is a program after the workshop. On the other months the group works on service projects after the meeting.  I don't consider myself a "joiner" so I"m extra glad for my husband's encouragement to be a part of this group. I'm looking forward to getting to know others who also love to sew and quilt.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Craftsy Block of the Month

With encouragement from Stella at Walking Life's Path Again I decided to participate in the Craftsy Block of the Month.  This is turning out to be "the year of blocks" for me!  I don't know what that will mean for the end of the year when it's time to put all the blocks into quilts, but for now, it's a lot of fun.

So, I'm caught up and here's the January blocks:
and the February blocks"

I know that February is a bit bright compared to January, but I think it will end up OK in the least I hope so.

So now I'm looking forward to March.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Girl Quilt: The Rest of the Story

It's been almost a month since I posted about the challenges of this quilt and how little things just kept going wrong as I sort of designed it as I went .
There were times when I really didn't like this quilt at all and wished I had never started it.  But I like the conclusion much better than each chapter.  In the end it seemed to all come together.  Even the quilting itself kind of "developed" as I went along.  I had decided to do diagonal lines on the center avoiding the decorative stitching and then straight lines between the blocks and free motion loops around the borders all in a bright pink thread.  Then I went back and free motioned some squiggles on the solid grey rectangles.
The back is a bright pink fleece.  And I decided to get some more machine embroidery practice in and embroider the label.  This quilt has no intended recipient so I just labeled it with my name and year of construction just in case some future generation starts to wonder about it's origins.
The top pictures are my first attempt at photographing a quilt vertically!  I think I'll eventually like this system.  The husband mounted a cork strip for me above a closet door.  The strip only came with two screws, one for each end.  So we need to tweak it a bit with some more screws in the center to handle the weight of a quilt.  And it turns out that thumbtacks aren't up to the task of holding the quilt either, but the clips in the picture work well.

I also need to give credit the my husband for the binding color.  When the quilt top was lying on the bed he said that he thought the color of the existing bedspread really set it off.  He thought I should add an additional dark grey border.  After all the border issues I had with this there was NO way I was going to push my luck with another border but I decided to use the dark grey color in the binding and it does seem to frame things out nicely.

So all that's left is to find a recipient! 

Friday, February 15, 2013

And the Winner Is........

And now, the winner of the Two Sister's Stash Giveaway is.....Mr. Random Number Generator, may I have the envelope please?.......Number 1!!  Sharon at Vrooman's  Quilts!!
Congratulations!  The box will be on it's way as soon as you email me your mailing address.
  1. I would love for this box to come visit me - I have lots of FQs that could be swapped for some of those lovelies.
Please note that Mr. Random Number Generator would have made a personal appearance via photo if I could have figured out how the heck other blogs do that!!  I couldn't seem to get the little generator thingy to paste on here in any fashion that was readable.  I welcome any instructions from others who have accomplished this!

Thanks to all who participated.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Memories

My most special Valentine's Day memory is about my Dad.  He treated Valentine's Day as his very special holiday  to celebrate his love for us.  Every year his present for my Mom and me was the same: red heart shaped boxes of chocolate.  Her box was always the larger of the two and each year he would explain to me that she got the biggest box because she was the Mommy....she was his special, lifelong love.  And somehow the way he explained it made perfect sense to me.  I didn't feel that he loved me any less, just that they had something very special that created a strong foundation for our family.  And the sameness and predictability of the gift was a perfect symbol of his love and care for that family: rock solid, unwavering, permanent, secure.

Often there was also a card along with the candy.  One year when I was a young teen he signed the card: From your first valentine, Daddy.  I didn't have a boyfriend at that time but he knew that I stood on the brink of dating and all the potential heartache associated with that stage of life.  He wanted me to know that no matter what other valentine's would come and go, he was there always.

One year was extra special in a bittersweet way.   Dad was physically weak from months of illness and medical treatment, but he wanted to maintain his Valentine's Day tradition.  Although he shouldn't have been driving, one day he managed to sneak out of the house without anyone knowing and drive to a local department store.  He went to the candy department, but was amazed that he didn't see any candy hearts for sale.  He found a helpful clerk and asked  what had happened to the Valentine's Day candy.  She kindly asked him if he was late for the current year or early for the next. In the confusion of his illness and medical appointments he had miscalculated and was a week too late for the holiday!  He was deeply disappointed.  Time had become his enemy and I think he knew in his heart of hearts that he wouldn't have another Valentine's Day to correct his error. The kind woman must have seen the despair on his face and told him that if he could wait a few minutes she would check in the back to see if any of the Valentine's Day stock remained.  She came back with two heart shaped boxes of chocolate!  Dad expressed his gratitude and headed home.  Needless to say, we were surprised!

And that was the last valentine from my first valentine.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

More Blocks of Valor

I finished a few more blocks for the Quilts of Valor project at Alycia Quilts.  These scrappy trip blocks were mentioned recently on Bonnie Hunter's blog and Alycia said they could still use additional donations in this pattern.  There has been so much talk of this pattern online with amazing results so I decided to give it a shot.
As with everything I make, I always decide on ways I could have improved on it when I look at the final product.  But, hopefully Alycia will fit this in somewhere and make an amazing quilt.

I have to say that this pattern was a bit more troublesome than I expected.  There is a lot of sewing, cutting, unsewing and sewing again involved with several chances to mix up the order or not have the seams match (and some of mine don't match as well as I would like).  I'm glad to have tried the pattern but I don't think an entire scrappy trip quilt is in my future even though I really admire the finished results.

Also: Remember, I have the Two Sister's Stash Giveaway going on.  It ends Friday so there is still time to enter here.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Two Time Leibster Award Winner!

Yup....Kevin the Quilter, one of my nominations decided to re-nominate me!  Since it would be difficult to come up with 11 more nominations he agreed that I could limit my "acceptance speech" to the 11 questions he has posed.  I told him I would also try to come up with 11 random things about myself, but I'm not sure there is that much more to tell!  So here goes.  His questions are:

1. Who is the person most responsible for introducing you to quilting?  My mother introduced me to sewing at a young age.  She could sew anything but she never made quilts.  We lived in the north and no one made quilts back then. The funny thing is that when I decided to get back into sewing once I retired I was NOT going to quilt!  But I made one and then two and then before you know it I was quilting.

2. What is the first quilting project you ever made, and how old were you when you made it?  The very first quilt was made when I was 20.  My Dad had recently died and I asked my mom if I could have his handkerchiefs.  I just used them as "blocks" and created a very simple quilt.  I still have it and someday I'd like to improve on it with some additional quilting.  The first one I made during my current stage was a tee-shirt quilt for Son #1.

3. Who is your most favorite quilt designer?  I"m embarrassed to say that I don't know many quilt designers so I'm not sure how to answer this one.  But I do like variety.  I like Bonnie Hunter's scrappy style but I also like modern style quilts also.

4. How many quilting projects have you made to date?  During my "pre-retirement" period I made two.  The one I mentioned above with handkerchiefs and one made from my husband's childhood bedspread.  During my current quilting stage I've made 12.

5. What is your most favorite breed of dog?  Golden Retriever

6. What color is the shell on the eggs you eat? White - but I support egg color diversity!

7. What is the longest flight you have ever been on, and where were you going?  I've been on three rather long flights in the last two years.  I think the longest was Washington, DC to Los Angeles.  But, Kevin, you're the expert here....the other two were LAX to Hawaii and Washington DC to Heathrow.

8. Which is your most favorite city to visit?  I don't visit a lot of cities even though I grew up right across the river from New York.  I loved visiting London last year with my sister.  Domestically I liked Washington, DC and Seattle.

9. Where is the best Quilt Shop you have ever been to, and what is it’s name?  The best quilt shop that I've ever visited is The Red Rooster in Dublin, Ohio (just outside Columbus).  Not only do they have a great fabric selection but the staff is super friendly and the store is arranged in a way that just inspires you to create.

10. Do you have a large or small family? I think we would rate as a large family although each generation seems to be getting smaller.  My mother was the oldest of 7; my father the middle of 13 in a blended family.  I'm the youngest of 4. The four of us have a combined 10 offspring.  Of those 10 only 1 has had children and he has 3.

11. Have you ever gone fishing? If so, what is the biggest fish you have ever caught?  Yes - I actually fish often.  Most of our fishing is in local lakes and ponds, but a few times a year we do surf or off shore fishing at the beach.  The biggest fish I caught was a Mahi Mahi that came in at about 7 pounds.  I have to say, though that charter boat fishing doesn't do it for me.  The guys on the boat decide where to fish, they throw the line, tell you when you have a fish on and then you reel him in.  Give me the smaller fish where I'm actually fishing any day.

11 Random Things:
  1. We fly the American flag outside our home.
  2. I was a Cub Scout Den mother - once.
  3. I hate to go to the dentist but I go every six months like a good girl.
  4. I played the clarinet (poorly) in high school.
  5. I can't sing AT ALL.
  6. I like to do the crossword puzzle in the newspaper but I'm not too keen on crossword puzzle books.
  7. I hate to camp.
  8. I've always wanted to run the Amazing Race.
  9. I drive a hard top convertible.
  10. I can't sleep on a fluffy pillow.
  11. My favorite cake is Devil's Food.
Whew...that was a lot of stuff.  Kevin, thank you for the re-nomination and the fun questions.

Now, back to sewing.....

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Two Sister's Stash Giveaway!!

Last week I was fortunate enough to win a visit from the Two Sister's Stash Box from Deb at Quilting and Other Craft Therapy.  Let me explain about this stash.  There are nine of these boxes traveling around the country.  When the box visits you, you get to choose anything you want out of the box then replace them with like items, offer a giveaway on your blog and send the box on to the next stop.  You can follow the journey of these boxes and find out where to enter to win any of them at this website.  So, now it's time for me to offer a giveaway and send the box to a new home.  Here's what's in the box:
Some of the fabrics will live with me and are being replaced with:
Since my photography is so poor let me highlight: there are some great fabrics including Easter prints, a cute teacup print (that almost lived here), several books, a pile of coordinated three inch blocks, several zippers and patterns, a pair of machinager gloves....lots more.  The fabric sizes range from fat quarters to a yard or so.

There are a few qualifications to enter the giveaway.  They are:
  1. Be an active blogger. Post about receiving the box on your blog in a timely manner. Post the giveaway for the box soon after receiving it.
  2. There's a note in the box that logs where it's been. Please add your info and place the note back in the box.
  3. There's a list of Rules and Guidelines in the box. Please read and follow these and return the list to the box. 
  4. You may take anything you like from the box. Just replace every item with comparable quilt shop quality items equal to the amount taken.
  5. Ship the box to the next person in a reasonable amount of time.
  6.  The box doesn't have a passport, so it can only travel within the USA.  So sorry to my international friends.
  7. You must be willing to pay USPS Priority Mail fees for a large flat rate box after you have shopped, restocked and hosted your own blog giveaway to send this box to your lucky winner!

So, leave a comment to enter. I will choose the winner on the morning of Friday, February 15th.  I think it's fitting that this post marks 200 postings for me and it's the first giveaway I've sponsored!

Good Luck!

The giveaway is now closed.  I'm heading over to visit Mr. Random Number Generator to choose the winner!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

From Rags to Rugs

The first quilt I made during my "post retirement" era was a tee-shirt quilt for Son #1.  It was an ambitious endeavour given my lack of knowledge of all things quilting and since then I've learned SO much.  For some reason I saved the leftover parts of the tee shirts (probably for the same reason that I've saved widowed socks for 20 years).  During my aimless web searching I came across mention of making a braided rug out of tee shirts.  So I dug out the scraps and, much like the way I dove into a quilt project without knowing much, I started to braid. I like the result enough that I'm thinking of making a matching rug. It was a fun TV project since there are no small parts to strain tired eyes and it's easy to start and stop whenever you want.
I was actually going for a more oval shape but this shape will do.  Call me silly, but this rug just reminds me of so much.  When I look at the orange and maroon I remember Son #1's days at Virginia Tech.  When I see the black and white I think of his high school days and the red, white and blue came from his Domino's Pizza work shirt.  I was concerned that it wouldn't lie flat but a bit of steaming with the iron and it all fell in place.  If you can can make this!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

When you Need a Little Sewing Break

Once in a while it's good to step away from the sewing machine.  One of the things that I like to do is to check out blogs that are followed by bloggers whom I follow.  Of course many of these are sewing and quilting related.  But I found a great one at the blog Joy for Grace.  It's called Forgotten Bookmarks.  It's maintained by a couple who own a used book store.  They frequently find items in old books such as recipes, letters or pictures and they post about them.  I think it's interesting to see the trail we leave behind.  They give a truer glimpse into the past than history books can.  So, when you need to change your focus for a few minutes or so, check it out!  And, thanks, Nancy for a great lead.

Monday, February 4, 2013

House for Rent

I know the weather (at least here) is still quite chilly and spring seems a long way off.  But, just in case there are some homeless birds looking for a place to nest and start their family, I put up my new birdhouse.
This house suctions to the window in my sewing room studio.  I don't know a lot about attracting birds to houses, but I choose this location because it's high, safe and quiet.  It's not the same window as the feeders and since it's on the second floor the neighborhood cats can't bother it.  It's made to allow me to spy on the bird family.  And if that seems to bother them it comes with a piece of "two way" film allowing me to see them while concealing the bird's view of me.  I think it's secure since we've had quite a bit of wind the last few days and it has stayed put.

No deposit, no lease, no minimum stay.  Limited to species that can fit through the door.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

February Block of the Month

I was anxious for this new block to be posted.  It's the second installment of a free block of the month pattern found at the Country Threads blog here.  So, I got right on it and now I have to wait another month for the next installment.  I actually made the large block twice.  I just wasn't happy with the fabrics I chose for the first attempt.  These are both the same pattern with a slight variation in color placement.  I'm surprised at the totally different look created by different fabrics.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Scales of Justice Walhanging

I finally have completely finished a project.  I've been sewing regularly all month and have two quilt tops finished and a variety of blocks for different projects, but this is the first project completed. 
This is for Son #1 to hang on his office wall.  The scales are appliqued and the chains holding the "pans" are a decorative stitch using yellow embroidery thread.  I didn't take a picture of the back, but I used my embroidery functions to make a label.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Richness of Dogs

For the last few years my husband has given me a calendar adorned with pictures of Golden Retrievers for Christmas. We own a dear 11 year old male Golden named Seamus.  He is the first and only dog I've ever owned and I don't know how I survived without him.  My calendar this year has a quote about dogs on each month.  I flipped over to February today to read:

"No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich."  Louis Sabin, author.

How true.

I'm linking up today with the Small Blog Meet at Lily's Quilts.