A Great Day and a Great Workshop

Last saturday I had a great day at a workshop with my guild! What a great day! It can be a little nerve wracking doing a workshop for people who know me so well, warts and all! But it was great! We had one “visitor” from another guild and I was so proud to see how welcoming my guild was to this quilter.

The workshop was my  “Tripping through my Stash” pattern, my version of trip around the world.

I love, love, love teaching this block! It’s such a great exercise in color and value. And a great way to use what you have in your stash! People are always surprised by what they can put in this block and have it look GREAT! Am I saying great too much?

I took photos of all the blocks by themselves and then we put them all together to prove that anything goes! Aren’t they fabulous? ( that’s better than “great” btw)

Take a look at what everyone accomplished:

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And here they are all together, with a few half blocks that I didn’t want to leave out!

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Everyone made at least two blocks during the workshop and two quilters went home and made another one before bedtime! These are big blocks, 16″, so a quilt comes together fast and it’s all from fabric you already own! How great is that!

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I’m back with a really quick post

Pinwheel Quilt Economy settingI know, I know, it’s been a while! I dedicated a lot of January to techie stuff which I’m REALLY SLOW at! Consequently I didn’t have time to post on this blog. I’d like to say February will be better and I hope and plan on it…….

 The good news is I’ve added a tab at the top of my page “Patterns”! Right now it is only “pattern”, but that will change.

Several people have asked me for instructions for setting for one of my “Pinwheel” samples so I have made it available here. This is only for the setting blocks and borders.

If you’ve taken my “Pinwheel” workshop feel free to use this pattern, just be sure to give me credit please!

If you like the quilt and haven’t taken the workshop contact me and we’ll set one up! Enjoy!

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The “Sister Gift”

I posted this picture at the beginning of December but couldn’t divulge what I was working on because it was the “Sister Gift”!

Now I can reveal the finished product!

sister gift

sister gift

These are hexagon potholders/trivets that I made using this tutorial. It was a great way to use some of my novelty fabrics. They became quite addictive! I’m showing six here, but I think I made a total of 28. Each sister got a matching pair. I also have four nieces so they each got a pair too. I even gave some to my golfer nephews this year because I had golf fabric The others were given to friends and neighbors. Sadly, I didn’t take pictures of all the finished ones. Here are some in progress:

five pairs ready to stitch

five pairs ready to stitch

ready to stitch

stitch the first piece

stitching the first piece

before trimming

before trimming

All trimmed

All trimmed

using decorative stitch to quilt potholder

using decorative stitch to quilt potholder

More about the “Sister Gift”

I have three sisters and a sister-in-law, everyone who knows us knows about the “sister gift”. This is our Christmas tradition that has been going on for more than 30 years although none of us is really sure when it began.

Somewhere around the time my oldest sister got married we started exchanging hand made ornaments, sometimes they were non-tree decorations, sometimes food items and sometimes had nothing to do with the holiday at all!

There are no rules (but we all know what they are!), but it’s not supposed to cost a lot, is often made from things on hand that are left over from other projects and theoretically is fun and stress free! (Ha! ask our friends and family about that!)

Sometimes they are started in January, more frequently in December! We all dread hearing , usually whispered at some family event, “My sister gift is finished!”

Over the years we’ve made ornaments, cocoa mix, picture collages, various tote bags, pillows, wreaths, birdhouses, scarves, bracelets, bird feeders, ….you get the picture!

We like to say (tongue in cheek) “You can tell the stress level of the sister by the quality of her sister gift”! Occasionally a sister will even succumb to buying something instead of making it.

We have made some pretty amazing things over the years all while planning weddings, getting married, having babies, building houses, moving, attending school activities, getting advanced degrees, and much more!

When we look at the “sister gifts” in each other’s homes we  remember just what was happening in our lives while we were making them. Sometimes we recall a pleasant time and sometimes we think “clearly that was a bad year!” but we still love the memories! And although every year we think it may be the last, we can’t give up the sister gift!

the gifts

the gifts 2015

Me and my sisters enjoying a new tradition, “the ladies cocktail”! My sister-in-law was still her family celebration so I don’t have a photo with her :( .

Me and my sisters

Me and my sisters

PS – The wreaths hanging in the windows behind us are a previous “sister gift!” made by the sister on the left :)

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Hello 2016

It’s resolution time…….

I have my usual ones…….. use what I have, stop wasting time, clean up my work space…. you know the drill.

I have a LOT of resources  at my disposal, don’t we all? Actually it’s kind of a running joke amongst my quilting friends to ALWAYS ask me first because I PROBABLY have it! Especially books which is a bit of a paradox because I rarely make projects that are published, but I love to look through any media for inspiration. Here’s a sampling of what I have on hand:

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I did say sampling right? I also have a pattern file in my basement, I’m talking big metal pattern file like at JoAnn Fabrics. And all my longarm references are in another room (with my longarm!)

And let’s not forget the infinite files on my computer! (Pinterest? OMG!)

I’m just talking inspiration here, not fabric, or tools, that’s another discussion…

So a big resolution this year is to USE what I have as inspiration! I bought/collected all this stuff because it spoke to me at some level. I want to focus on ideas I have collected and be more productive instead of spending SO much time looking at OTHER ideas!

My other plan/approach to resolutions this year is FOCUS! I have SO MANY things I want to do! I end up being a Jack of all Trades and Master of None! So this year my plan is to concentrate on one major skill/topic each month and really commit. I don’t mean I’ll only do one thing each month ( I know myself better than that!) But instead of trying to learn 10 things at a time I’ll focus on just one while I’m doing other stuff that I already know.

For example, I really need to up my computer skills, especially Photoshop and InDesign. Right now I only use them when I have a specific project/deadline, usually months apart, so it’s like starting over every time! Such a waste of time!! So I think that’s my topic for January, Photoshop and InDesign (I know that’s two, but they go hand in hand).

I’ll let you know how I’m doing and then we’ll see what’s next for February.

My other big resolution is to be a better blogger. So far I’m doing well with that one! :)

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Good bye 2015

It’s been awhile, a long while. But it’s a New Year and I can start over right? I recently read on Becky Goldsmith’s blog that she took 10 off from blogging, calling it an eternity in the blog world. Boy did I cringe! Not gonna say how long I took off, you can look it up, but WAY longer than 10 days.

Life got busy for me, then it was the holiday season so I made the decision to not even try to blog on any kind of regular basis until 2016, just being realistic. But I thought about it a LOT and feel like I’m ready to dive in now! And I’ve put it in print so that means I am now committed and accountable right?

What have I been doing that has kept me away? Lots of quilting, for me and others.

I had three of my quilts accepted to A Quilter’s Gathering in Manchester NH:

Purple Pinwheels

Purple Pinwheels

Skill Builder Sampler

Skill Builder Sampler

strippy pinwheels

strippy pinwheels

Taught some workshops:

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I made some quilts for gifts:

braid

braid

overview

Another Scrappy quilt

And made a few quilty gifts:

sister gift

“sister gift”

orphan Santa block potholders

orphan Santa block potholders

I’ll give more details on both of these later.

I also decided two weeks before Christmas was a great time to learn how to make decorated sugar cookies!

Christmas cookies

Christmas cookies

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I found this great site that had great ideas and tips.

I have a lot planned for 2016- resolutions, projects, lectures, workshops…..looks like it’s going to be a very full year!

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When quilts give you lemons…

……or, when you discover your quilt backing has holes in it!! Argh!!That’s right, three small holes in my quilt back that I didn’t spot until I was loading the backing onto my longarm!

close up of hole

close up of hole

Crap! So I walked away in frustration, just left it loaded, “I’ll deal with it later! Time for a different project!”  And I’m glad I walked away instead of removing it and finding another back. A solution came to me! Appliqué! Yeah!!

I returned to the quilt back, marked the holes with my blue marker so I’d be able to find them when the quilting was done. I loaded the batting and top and got to quilting! I tried out a new panto I’ve had for  a while  but haven’t stitched out yet. This goes with my 2015 theme of using the stuff I’ve bought!

Scrappy Disappearing 9 patch

Scrappy Disappearing 9 patch

The panto is Crystalline by Patricia Ritter from Urban Elementz. It has lots of straight lines that can be tricky. It’s hard to keep straight without a ruler, there’s always a little wobble in pantographs. But the design is busy enough so I think it looks OK. I wouldn’t do this on a really high contrast quilt, then EVERY wobble would show for sure!

I got it all quilted, added some fun print squares over the holes and called it finished!

Holes covered!

Holes covered!

Of course I still have to bind it… this one may get machine stitched instead of hand stitched. My binding pile is getting pretty high….

So what do you think? I kind of like how the squares add a little playfulness to the basically plain back.

 

 

 

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Machine Applique flower Garden

Several years ago I bought this pattern intending to hand applique. I was already working on a Piece O Cake hand applique project that had to be finished before I would let myself start yet another long term project. I finished that one, the top anyway, still need to quilt it!

Kim McLean pattern

Various other projects got started and finished along the way. I’d already purchased the background fabrics and designated a project box but I couldn’t seem to get myself to commit to another hand applique of this size. I love hand applique, I find it very relaxing to hand sew, but the thought of choosing all the fabrics and then stitching was just more than I wanted to take on. My solution was to use this pattern to perfect my machine applique skills! My goal was to take it on my guild’s retreat in June and really make a dent. Once I had a plan it was easy to get fired up! I cut all the backgrounds at the beginning of May and then started prepping my applique pieces. It helped that my husband was travelling a lot at that time, so I had a lot of time to myself (read: I didn’t have to pick up my mess!)

I got 12 blocks prepped before going on the retreat and was able to stitch 9 of them before I needed a break and a switch to another project.

Flower applique, the first 9

Flower applique, the first 9

I’ve been plugging away at the rest of the blocks and have completed all the machine applique. Here are the other blocks:

A group of 6

A group of 6

Another 4, the pink and purple one in the lower right snuck in there again! Oops!

Another 4, the pink and purple one in the lower right snuck in there again! Oops!

more blocks

more blocks

The final 3 !

The final 3 !

Yeah! 24 blocks ready to be trimmed and sashed!

I use Sharon Schamber’s method of machine applique, more or less. She uses a special stabilizer, available on her website here, that doesn’t have to be removed , a huge advantage! The applique edges are turned and glue basted to the stabilizer making a very neat turned edge.

Applique prep

Applique prep

Can you see the light purple glue in the photo below?

Glueing the edges

Glueing the edges

Here I am turning the edges with my special applique tool. A friend gave this to me and I can’t remember who makes it.

Turning the edges

Turning the edges

I’ll do another post about how I stitch the pieces, that’s a whole topic!

After everything is stitched Sharon says to wash/soak all the blocks in synthrapol to remove the glue. Yikes! This was kind of scary, but my goal was to follow the directions and try a new technique. Here are all my lovely blocks soaking in my laundry sink!

This is scary!

This is scary!

They definitely  shriveled up quite a bit and required a lot of pressing. Hopefully when they are in the completed quilt they won’t be wrinkled. I put my trust in Sharon Schamber! Hopefully it will be successful!

On to the sashing!

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A road trip and some hand sewing

Horseshoe Falls, Ontario, Canada

Horseshoe Falls, Ontario, Canada

My husband and I recently drove to Niagara Falls for a quick vacation. Seven hours in the car each way gave me a nice chunk of time to work on 2 EPP (English Paper Piecing) projects I have going. Each of these was supposed to be worked on during TV watching, but it seems that by the time I sit down to watch TV lately I’m too tired to start hand work. I also have a pile of bindings that need to be done, but I figured my husband wouldn’t want me loading up the car with quilts! EPP is compact and portable, great for the car and I can still talk while I do it so I don’t feel guilty like I do when I read a book. My husband is happy to do all the driving and if I don’t keep busy I fall asleep, which is worse than reading!

I’ve been working on Mickey Dupre’s pieced hexies for a while. I had 6 that needed their centers stitched. I have 22 of these done, not really sure what I’m going to do with them or how many more I’ll make. They are a lot of fun and use up a lot of short strips I have left from other projects.Pieced hexies

It seems like EPP has sprung up everywhere lately. When I first saw this technique I swore I’d NEVER do it! I hated the classic Grandmother’s Flower garden, yuck! And the tedium of basting  all those paper shapes, never mind having to cut all those paper hexagons first! Not for me! Then I came upon pieced hexies, hmm, these I found intriguing. And you can buy the paper hexies already cut in lots of different sizes inexpensively! So now I’m doing pieced hexies whenever I have a long car ride. They’ve come with me to Burlington VT twice and now Niagara Falls.

I also have Rose Star blocks in progress. I first saw these here. This block is based on hexies too, but they are split into half hexies and kite shapes and this adds a whole new world of possibilities! I have 7 of these completed. This was of course supposed to be a scrappy project but I’ve been fussy cutting a lot of the pieces and I don’t really have a lot of that kind of stuff in my stash so some buying has happened, but mostly fat quarters. These have also made the trips to Burlington and Niagara.Rose Star blocks

And now for my tale of woe……

I make a lot of scrappy quilts so I seldom worry about running out a particular fabric, if I don’t have this red, I’ll just use that red!

But these Rose Star Blocks are very planned and symmetrical, the pieces are small so very little fabric is required for the units, but it MUST be the same fabric.

I spent about 2 hrs stitching these units together and came up one salmony colored kite shape short!

DSC_0760 Had I dropped it in the car? No.  Was it in my tote?  No. Had it gotten mixed in with another group? No. Well, that’s OK I told myself, I’ll just cut another when I get home. Can you guess where this is going? I spent a good chunk of my Sunday morning looking for that fabric! I usually have pretty good  “fabric memory”, I know just where I bought it, how much I have, what I used it in, and when I used it up. But not this time! I could not recall having used it anywhere but in this “shorted” block.

I really didn’t want to have to take the units apart and choose a different fabric. I started looking for something that was “close enough” but even as I was looking I knew that wasn’t going to make me happy, and I had nothing even close anyway!* Sigh* Just let it go I told myself, it’s just one block (but I really liked it!)

Then I started looking through my unquilted scrappy tops and found a 2 ½” square! That’s all I needed!

Can you find the 2 1/2" square?

Can you find the 2 1/2″ square?

There it is!

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Call me crazy, but I removed the square, replaced it with another 2 ½” square and was able to complete the block! Yeah!

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Out with the old, in with the new!

 

 

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This was all I needed

Ready to baste

Ready to baste

Completed block, well, almost, some pieces still need to be hand stitched, sssh!

completed

completed

And as is always the way, two days after completing the block I found the fabric tucked in with another project! Now I know why I couldn’t recall using it!

 

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Now that summer’s here….

……I’ll be able to catch up! I tell myself that several times a year at transition times

  • the beginning of the year
  • after the dead of winter
  • when the rush of springtime events are past
  • the beginning of the summer
  • the end of summer
  • after the holidays

….but it never really happens! I find myself saying “after this (fill in activity) I’ll have more time”, but something else always comes up.

So I find myself at the start of summer saying “OK, I’ve really got to buckle down with this blog!” and here we are 11 days into June and I’m finally sitting down. But I really have been busy! (Aren’t we all?) What have I been doing?

The last weekend in May was the annual getaway for my guild. Fabulous! We go to the Franciscan House in Kennebunkport ME. They are so incredibly accomodating! Tables, chairs, lights, irons, ironing boards, raised cutting tables, power strips, design walls, hot and cold beverages and meals! The only thing quilters have to bring are their projects!

So naturally I spent about 2 weeks before the trip getting ready for the trip. There was fabric to gather and test blocks to be made. Numerous projects of varying intensity had to be packed up.

applique pattern

applique pattern

Here’s my first project. I bought this pattern at least 3 years ago planning on hand appliquing it. Well I decided it would be a good chance to perfect my machine applique instead!

I did a lot of prep work, I think I got 12 of 24 blocks ready. Here are 3 sets of leaves. These are turned edge; I use a glue stick and Sharon Schamber’s applique stablizer.

leaves prepped

leaves prepped

Nine blocks got machine appliqued on the first and second days. I was happy with my results.

Nine other blocks

Nine other blocks

I think this block took me almost as long as ALL the other blocks combined (or it seemed that way!)

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This is very focused work, so I was glad to move to project 2.

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This was another pattern I’d had for several years (do you see a theme developing?) I chose NOT to use chicken fabrics! Instead I pulled out a 1/2 yd bundle that, you guessed it, I’ve had for ?how many years?

the original 1/2 yd bundle

the original 1/2 yd bundle

I thought this was an unusual color combo and LOVED the shoe fabric! Of course I had to add more… some of these I already had, but I did need to buy a few also.

the final group

the final group

I did all my cutting ahead of time, so the sewing went very quickly. I used the TriRecs tool to cut the triangles for the star points. Love that tool! Makes lining up the points so easy!

blocks cut and ready to assemble

blocks cut and ready to assemble

The pattern was for 25 blocks, but I’m only making 9.

Nine blocks completed

Nine blocks completed

My final project for the weekend was what I thought was going to be easy peasy stress free, not so much!

strips and pattern

strips and pattern

This one has been in my “to do” pile on and off for over 10 yrs!! My friend Sue borrowed it for last year’s getaway and her’s is completely finished. I had a bunch of strips left from another project so rather than agonize over fabric choices I figured I’d use them. I needed to add one fabric to frame the blocks so I went to my stash for that too.

contrast contenders

contrast contenders with sample blocks

I chose this one

and the winner is!

and the winner is!

The quilt is made of 2 blocks. I got one of each done. They aren’t very flat. That’s what rushing does for you!

not so flat blocks

not so flat blocks

At home I completed 7 more blocks. These are 20″ blocks, so 9 is plenty big enough for me!

Nine blocks

Nine blocks

This post is getting looonnngggg, so I’ll sign off for today and will give more details about these projects in upcoming posts!

Hope you enjoy the photos! And the summer weather .

 

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Linda’s Quilt

I finished this quilt a few weeks ago but am just getting around to posting about it.

Linda's Quilt

Linda’s Quilt

I believe this was top was made using techniques from Judy Dales book about curved piecing. I have this book somewhere in my house but can’t seem to put my hands on it right now.

I was a little nervous to start this one. I really wanted to highlight the piecing so it needed custom work. Also, there was some extra fullness, especially in the large white area at the center of the quilt. I wish I’d taken a “before” picture. I was concerned about getting tucks smack dab in the center! But I took my time and it all “worked out” so to speak!

By the way, who ever came up with the phrase “it will quilt out” should be hunted down and made to prove it! MOST of the time IT WILL NOT QUILT OUT!! And then the piecer and the quilter will be very unhappy!

Here are some close ups:

Close up

Close up

Background swirls

Background swirls

Free hand feathered border

Feathered border

Feathered border

More details

Star detail

Star detail

The back

close up of back

close up of back

close up of back

close up of back

Doesn’t this remind you of a cobra? Not my intention! LOL!

view of the back

view of the back

This was pretty ambitious for me and I’m quite please with the result!

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