QuiltCon, Anyone?

QuiltCon, the Modern Quilt Guild’s annual gathering, will be in Savannah in February 2017, and I am going!mqg-new-logo

I recently read an interesting blog by Becca Fenstermaker about how to deal with a convention when you’re an introvert.  Believe it or not, that would be me, so I plan to use her idea.

Becca’s main suggestion was to start ahead of time and try to find people who will be attending, so you’ll have somebody to visit with when you get there.

Fortunately, there will be several people from at least two of my guilds, but of course the point is meeting new people as well as visiting with old friends.  So if you’re going, please leave me a note in the comments–I’d like to met you!

Meanwhile, I’ve made two more clusters of sweet pea pods.  The pattern is well illustrated and the directions easy to follow 🙂

Hope you have a good week!

A Cute Apron and a Pattern Review

Kitchen apron

Photo courtesy of Indygo Junction

My husband recently discarded some shirts, so I was interested to see this “Kitchen Shirt Tales” pattern from Indygo Junction.

It looked pretty simple, and I’ve made dozens of aprons over the years, but I decided it was worth the money to buy the pattern rather than having to figure it out on my own.  The pattern was downloadable, which added to the appeal–instant gratification!

I was pleased with the way the apron came out, but only because I abandoned the instructions part way through construction.

The instructions were MUCH too complex for a simple garment like this.  For example, rather than providing a pattern for the garment in different sizes (if, indeed, one needs a choice of sizes for an apron), the instructions were to measure yourself and then derive the cutting lines through a rather complex formula. After figuring out these measurements, you were instructed to draw the curve for cutting out the top by connecting the measurements..  I did get it drawn just fine, but  it would have been so much simpler to just have a pattern piece for cutting out the main body of the apron!

As you can see below, the apron looked just fine on two of my colleagues who are different sizes.

At this point, the instructions became confusing and there were VERY few illustrations.  I usually do pretty well with verbal instructions, but the most commercial patterns have a drawing for each step for a reason.

This pattern would need many, many more drawings to be clear.  I quit the instructions at that point and made the rest up as I went along.

I still think it is a great idea to recycle a shirt into an apron, and this is cute the way it came out.  The pattern, however, could be greatly improved by the addition of a pattern piece for cutting and many additional illustrations.

Finished! In 2016

First, the Christmas tree picture with fireplace was at the Grove Park Inn, in Asheville, N.C. That fireplace is big enough for a man to stand up in. Hopefully when there’s no fire.

And now, the 2016 finishes.

Asheville Quilt Show

Scan Me, a quilt made to promote safer sex.

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss won a blue ribbon.

art quilt, gwen marston

Refrigerator quilt inspired by Gwen Marston. Bev Manus came up with the idea for refrigerator quilts.

modern sampler

My Modern Sampler Quilt

improvisational quilt

“Gwen Visits the Farm” is the quilt I made for the Quilt Alliance contest this year

Quilted Adventure

Roxie bag made as part of Quilted Adventure online retreat

Loes Hinse blouse

Blouse from a Loes Hinse pattern, in Cherrywood fabrics

Tumbling Blocks

Tumbling Blocks placemats, made in class with Karen Combs

Sweetpea Pod pattern review

These Sweetpea Pod bags were so fun that I made a LOT of them!

And, of course, the quilts for Ronald McDonald House:

Happy new year, and may you have a great year of quilts in 2017!

Slabs, Round 2

Cheryl Arkison is one of several people to suggest putting together scraps of the same color to make a quilt block (or fabric from which to cut quilt pieces).  Cheryl calls hers “slabs” and makes them big–15 inches square finished.Mary J Puckett quilt

Above is the quilt I made from a slab swap with one of my quilt groups a couple of years ago.  I had asked for slabs made from the yellow/orange family, and I loved what I got.  But I’m not one to leave well enough alone, so I cut them up and made the quilt shown above.

A relative-who-will-remain-nameless looked through my quilts online and asked for something similar, but in a larger size.

I’ve had fun collecting orange and yellow fabrics.  My friend Linda donated a large bag of orange “scraps”; I felt free to ask her since she claims to hate orange 😀  Then she brought me a big cut of solid orange to go with the scraps!

slab quilt

Linda even found an orange patterned bag to put her scraps in!

The rest came from my stash and from a few things I bought while travelling.  I improvised the squares, featuring a few funky fabrics in each one from the fabrics I bought especially for this quilt.

Then I used Moda Bella Amelia Blue to sash each square and cut the sashing so they are all wonky.  Each will finish 18″ square with sashing.orange4

This one will be big enough that it will need to go to the long-arm quilter.  I’ll have more pictures when it’s finished.

Meanwhile, how are those holiday projects coming along?

 

Two Quilts, 3 Reviews, 4 “Learning Experiences”

“Wow!” my husband said, as he watched me taking quilting stitches out with my new skin4electric seam ripper.  And his is an informed opinion, since he has seen PLENTY of seam ripping over the years between my adventures and those of his 3 sisters.

So here’s the story:  I designed a quilt made of all equilateral triangles, in all solid colors, several years ago.  It was one of those projects that looked better in my head than in reality, so I backed up and started again.  (Learning experience #1: this design stinks.)

The Lombard Street pattern by Sassafras Lane caught my eye, so I ordered it, thinking I probably could re-cut my blocks to work.  When the pattern arrived, it was just as beautiful as it looked online, and the block size was such that I could, indeed, salvage my fabric. But it is paper pieced–not my favorite technique.  (Learning experience #2: check the construction method before ordering!)

In any case, I got the top made and was pleased with the result

modern quilt

The pattern is Lombard Street, by Sassafras Lane Designs.  The blocks are on my design wall.

Review #1:  the Lombard Street pattern had excellent instructions, and came out just as great in person as it looked on the pattern.

I layered the quilt with Quilter’s Dream bamboo batting.  Review #2:  The batting felt just wonderful, soft and with a good drape.  But OH MY did it make a mess of the black fabric!  I don’t know how, but it kept giving off lint that completely covered the quilt top.  I LOVE Quilter’s Dream batting and use both the poly or the cotton request loft almost exclusively. But this bamboo!  Yikes!  My trusty lint roller fixed that.  Several times.  (Learning experience #3: I won’t use bamboo batting again.)

It’s a long story, but after several trials, I decided to use Metrosene poly quilting thread in dark grey, thinking it would blend in with all the fabrics.  This strategy has worked well on several other quilts, but not so much this time.  I didn’t like the way it looked–when I had the quilting 80% done!!!  (Learning experience #4: stubbornness isn’t always a virtue.  Sometimes sticking with the task is not the best option 😀Review: Lombard Street pattern

Enter the electric seam ripper.  I went online and researched just HOW other people had gotten the quilt stitches out of quilts in similar situations.  I read about 3 different electric seam rippers and watched demos on You Tube.  I purchased one, put in a AA battery, and got to work.Review: electric seam ripper

By the way, removing the backing from a quilt this way, in order to remove the quilting stitches, is called “skinning the quilt” according to my online research.

Review #3:  The electric seam ripper worked amazingly well!!!  I had the entire top un-quilted by 1 p.m., and I did two loads of laundry, made breakfast and lunch, and put dinner in the crock pot besides!  I had to use a traditional seam ripper where I had made tiny stitches at the sharp corners, but otherwise it went very fast.  The only holes created were a tiny hole in the batting made with my traditional seam ripper, and a tiny hole in the backing made by the electric seam ripper when I tried to insist that it cut through those very close stitches (it just said no).electric seam ripper

The discussions online reported being able to lift the top quilting thread off in one long piece.  As you see, that didn’t work for me–maybe when I’ve had more practice?  (Oh please, no more practice!)  Anyway, the trusty lint roller saved me again.

And this top is going to a long-arm quilter.  Done!

 

 

Next Scrap Project

I mentioned I’m doing a Lego Quilt, based on instructions from Tonya Ricucci.  I am lucky to have changed to a 4-day-a-week job, so I spent my first Friday off getting all the strips done.  I put them up on the design wall as I pieced them to be sure I was getting a good balance of colors and values.

lego quilt

Strips on my design wall

Tonya’s instructions say to cut 1-1/2″ strips and join them to make the rows in each block.  I have a lot of strips, sorted by width, so I tried the 1-1/2″ strips first, joining them end-to-end and cutting into the lengths I needed.scrap quilt, strip quilt

That was tedious, to say the least. I switched to using wider strips, joining them lengthwise, and cutting 1-1/2″ strips from the sets.lego-3

lego-4Now I have 420 strips, enough to make my 42 blocks (finishing 10″ each) for a 60″ x 70″ quilt.  This will be my next leaders-and-enders project.  Here are all the strips laid out ready to go!  scrap quiltStay tuned!  I think it will be fun to see it come together!

One UFO Makes 3 Quilts!

I made these “prepared fabric” squares some months ago with John Cage’s “prepared piano” in mind.  Then they sat in a box while I wondered what to do with them.

At a quilt retreat, I got some of them out and put them together into a 40″ x 44″ quilt top for Ronald McDonald House.nov-ufo

So the November UFO (UnFinished Object) project was to do something with the rest of those squares.  I modified them further and made 2 more Ronald McDonald quilt tops, each 40 inches square.

That UFO box is empty!  There were a few scraps for the scrap bin, and 3 blocks for the orphan block bin, but that project is DONE!

Sort of like that turkey…how was your Thanksgiving?

Quilting Thanksgiving

Gratitude is always a good practice, so it’s especially nice to have a holiday specifically dedicated to thanksgiving.  Here are 10 reasons I’m thankful for quilting:

  1. Every project is a new learning experience.  Even if it is, sometimes, “another *%@!! learning experience” 🙂

    rotary cutter accident

    A learning experience!

  2. There is no failure. Projects that don’t turn out as planned can be recycled into something.  (It may take a while to figure out what.)

    This one had to be cut up and made into placemats!

    This one had to be cut up and made into placemats!

  3. Friends.  Quilting is a great way to meet interesting people and make new friends.  I love making friends online, too, even though I may never meet them in person.  It’s such fun that people from 3000 miles away follow my blog and I follow theirs.

    A new friend holding up one of my quilts at a recent guild talk

    A new friend holding up one of my quilts at a recent guild talk

  4. Quilting is a great creative outlet, whether or not I choose to be an “artist”.

    Gwen Marston iQuilt class

    Quilt made for a class with Gwen Marston

  5. Gifts.  I’ve made quilts, placemats, table runners, potholders, and bags to give to friends.

    Divided basket made from pattern by Noodlehead

    Divided basket made from pattern by Noodlehead

  6. Opportunity to give to the community.  I make quilts for Ronald McDonald house.

    One of my quilts for Ronald McDonald House

    One of my quilts for Ronald McDonald House

  7. Color!  Who doesn’t love playing with all the beautiful fabrics?

    Yummy fabrics at Studio Stitch, where I sometimes teach

    Yummy fabrics at Studio Stitch, where I sometimes teach

  8. Socializing: it’s great to get together and work on a project with friends.

    An especially quilty friend!

    An especially quilty friend at a sewing group

  9. Being alone: it’s equally great to spend a quiet day alone in my studio

    View from my home

    View from my home

  10. Problem solving: Many projects present problems that need to be solved, and I love the challenge.

    modern quilt

    I enjoyed the challenge of designing and making this quilt

What are you thankful for?

Review: Karen Combs Teaching Tumbling Blocks

Karen Combs‘ Tumbling Blocks class, which I took at AQS-Chattanooga in September, was one of the best quilt classes I’ve ever taken. Of course, “tumbling blocks” is a traditional design, but I always like a challenge.

Tumbling Blocks

Tumbling Blocks, made in class with Karen Combs

Karen is so well organized and clear that I had 4 blocks made by the end of class and had started on the background! Her method for the Y-seams was so well explained that there is no need to even consider the “cheater” tumbling blocks made with half square triangles.

One of the “secrets” to making this block easy is to buy ombre fabric that varies from dark to light in the same color, so you don’t have to hunt down 3 values of the same color individually!  Of particular note, Karen showed us how to use a standard quilting ruler to cut the blocks–NO SPECIAL RULER REQUIRED!  I think this is notable in a field where so many teachers are selling their own rulers, which are then needed for the way they teach a class.Karen Combs class review

Karen’s class sample is a table runner, which probably does show off the blocks a little better than placemats. But I have more table runners than I can use, so placemats it is.

The quilting is done to emphasize the 3-dimensional aspect of the blocks, so I imitated what Karen had done.  The background is quilted with random loops.Quilting Tumbling Blocks

I’m pleased with this project, and I certainly recommend you take Karen’s class if you have the chance!