Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Year-End Finishes/Last Post of 2009

Well I finally had to throw in the towel. Back in September, Finn of the "Pieces From My Scrapbag" blog had issued a challenge to finish up and clear out UFOs for the coming New Year. At that point, I was swimming in projects and felt there was more than enough time to focus myself and get a lot of stuff that was sitting around, close to finished, completed. I pledged to complete seven projects which I felt was conservative since I knew I had way more than that either going on or dying to be started and figured that getting that much done would certainly take a load off going into the New Year.

So it is now with a bit of regret that I can only report two year-end finishes out of the seven hoped for. I'm not sure if the challenge spooked me or if I just underestimated my focus and resolve . So what did I get done?

The primary goal on my Year-end list was to add some detail quilting to the Christmas BOM wall hanging I made last year. I believed this was an easy one to complete and really had expected to get it done before the fall finished. I had found a holly leaves and berry border motif in Alex Anderson's "Beautifully Quilted with Alex Anderson" book and thought that with a design in hand it would be a cinch to do. Also one of my goals for this year had been to get to the quilting of my quilts instead of procrastinating like I usually do. Yet, it sat and sat in favor of starting new stuff, always with the belief that the minute I got a chance, I'd quickly and easily wipe this off my list. In fact it shouldn't have even been hard since I had done a free-motion holly leaf motif in the border of one of my first quilts back in 2002.

Sorry about the picture. It was taken with an early and not very good digital camera.

And yet I did not do this until the week before Christmas because I was under the threat of the deadline for holiday decorating!

Everything else I wanted to get done were for complete finishes - down to quilting and binding. I had one WISP that was long overdue and at that time had three projects that had been started this year that were already basted and waiting for quilting and which I thought would be the next logical finishes. However, in the end, the only other finish that got done was a quilt that started out as a comfort gift for one of my DH's aunts. She called in October to say that she was going home from the hospital after a biopsy for breast cancer. Just the day before I had purchased the book "Quilter's Think Pink" from Clotilde.com as a downloadable book and had saw a cute pink ribbon quilt that I thought would be great to make for someone. When she called, I was on-line at that moment ordering backing fabrics for two kit quilts I had recently purchased and figured I'd see if the supplier, AAA Quilters Supply, had any nice pink fabrics for it. Boy did they! All the pink fabrics (with the exception of the lightest pink solid), the border stripe and the backing for this quilt came from them. I had the light pink and all the creams and tans in my stash so I thought this would be a quickly made gift for her. Unfortunately, it took way longer than expected. Fortunately she turned out to be my Kringle giftee so it got to be changed from comfort to Christmas gift and as such HAD to get done and was presented to her at my DH's family's Christmas gathering.

And although I am a little disappointed in myself for not getting more done, I'm not completely discouraged. I am looking forward to getting to work once all the holiday festivities are finished.

I was encouraged even more when recently (when I really should have been quilting), I was blog surfing and Mary Johnson of MaryQuilts blog (http://blog.maryquilts.com/) posed the question on 12/18: how do you keep track of your projects and how did you do for the year? I hadn't actually tallied everything up and when I did, I was really shocked. While I may not have many complete finishes for this year, I did do ALOT of work! I did complete one WISP before the challenge and from the start of this year initiated 13 (!) new projects.

The tally for all the new projects this year:
  • 3 Completed (two prior to the challenge and one after)

  • 1 is (recently) partially quilted

  • 3 are basted and waiting on quilting

  • 2 need to be basted (back and batting are ready)

  • 1 needs borders and the back prepared

  • And the final 3 are still in the piecing stage (and one of those is actually a two-fer, I had started new bed quilts for my sons which I count as one project but will produce two quilts).

In that final group is the quilt I designed for the Colorblocks I swapped for in the Four Season Summer Block Swap (blogged about here) which is currently on my design wall. I made and received forty blocks (in two sets of twenty) but my design calls for a 7 by 6 set so I need to make two more. I am also using solid fabrics for the square-in-square sashing squares and just ordered a set of solid fabrics from Keepsake Quilting to add to the ones I was able to pull from my stash.

On the Design Wall

Whew! Any way, next year's goals are to work only on existing projects, hopefully finishing all of these and starting new new projects only if I already have the fabric and pattern in house. So 2010 looks like a fabric diet year for me since I really don't need to purchase anything unless it's to finish something I've got.

I am still glad I participated in the challenge. It was motivating to try to keep what I wanted to do in the front of my mind even if I still seemed to avoid what I needed to do like the plague! I believe the lessons learned about my quilting self will benefit me greatly in the coming year and lead to a very productive one.

I hope everyone has a Happy and Quilty New Year!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fall Bloggers Quilt Festival

Welcome again to all who are coming from the Park City Girl blog the host of the second Bloggers Quilt Festival! Amy came up with the idea to host the first event back in the Spring (and the links are still there so check them out here if you haven’t before) . I am glad to have an opportunity to participate again.
My entry this time is another of the quilts I completed in 2008. My quilting projects are usually driven by the chance to try out a new (or new for me) technique and that was the case with this quilt. I came across the book "Wonderful One Fabric Quilts" by Kay Nickols in a Hancock’s of Paducah catalogue. I thought that it was a novel idea and I loved the idea of being able to take one striped fabric and make a quilt from it that looked like it was made from multiple blocks (no shopping for coordinates!).
This is the finished quilt (front and back) that was made from only two fabrics:

The stripe that was used to make the front, center back and binding was Moda’s Red Harvest Bouquet Stripe designed by Deb Strain and the back border fabric was Marcus Bros. American Plains Large Floral both purchased on the internet from Allentown Sewing Center. Ms. Nickols’ technique calls for cutting into quarter triangles a square of your fabric that is sized to yield the motifs from your fabric that you would like to showcase in your blocks. The square size will vary depending on the fabric you use. In my case a 10-1/2” square was quartered to yield the design you see. The sunflower strip from the fabric was fussy cut to make the binding.
This was a fun project to do and was one of those rare projects that made up quickly (in one month).
Thank you for stopping by and enjoy the rest of the festival entries – I know I have!
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

I'm Back!.. And Finished!

So what would the summer be without a few new projects? I have long wanted to make a Double Wedding Ring quilt. It's one of those quilty "most dos". But for a long time I couldn't decide what kind to make or what color or whether to use a fabric theme. Then I saw the quilt "Autumn Wedding" in Quilters Newsletter Magazine #386 (October, 2006). I loved it because it was bed sized (and at the time I had not yet completed a bed sized quilt) and it had a unique color scheme of browns, sage greens, reds and golds that went perfect with my bedroom decor (as you know from my pictures, I have a sage colored headboard).

Then for a long time the debate was what method to use to make it (Traditional piecing with templates? John Flynn's strip pieced method? Cheryl Phillips "Rings That Bind" method?) and most of all how the heck would I find and buy all the range of fabrics I needed in the colors I needed for it? In the end I felt I wanted to try the traditional way at least once (even though I had by then purchased the books and templates for the other techniques as well). To that end there were two traditional template sets: Marti Michel's and Shar Jorgenson's. Both cost about the same and had extra templates (a seperate purchase in Shar's case) to also create Orange Peel quilts. Both were fairly expensive template sets, a bit of a negative for me since I had already invested quite a bit of money in tools I hadn't used and did not want to invest so much money in additonal templates and then only (possibly) make one. As luck would have it, I found someone on Ebay selling Shar's set with the additional template in one auction for half the original price. Needless to say I bid on it and fortunately, I won! But now the fabric was still an issue.

The fabric question was eventually solved when Connecting Threads came out with their "Country Essentials - Fall" line. It had all the colors I needed in one set and at their reasonable fabric prices (great since I needed so much)! I quickly bought a 38 piece fat quarter sampler and brown yardage for the border, I already had a stash of background creams and tans and a few rust fabrics to supplement. I looked forward to making an "all CT" quilt.

It was always on my mind to start this but the push was finding out this year that CT had started chat group section on their website. One of the groups set up was for people making DWR quilts! Cool! Encouragement! Comraderie! Just what I needed! I signed on and made plans to get started.Well, as always it was a slow start but right now I have squares cut for my block centers (they will have applique added before being cut into the curved forms) and I have made three of the five rows of arcs needed for the blocks (each block needs eight and there are four blocks per row). I'm hoping to get the rest of the arcs done by the end of the weekend so I can start the applique next week.

I have two more "all Connecting Threads" quilts planned so I may make these my Fall projects and try to get them all done by the end of this year.

As I talked about in Part 1, I just redid my sons' bedroom and decided it was time for new quilts. Last year I made them quilts with fabrics that related to their favorite things. The pattern was Kaye Woods "Six-Hour Quilt" and was made with a serger and are reversible.

But the challenge was what to make for the new ones. Well, going back to my "must do" quilt list, I've long wanted to also tackle string quilts and denim quilts. I've been saving my sons jeans as they've out grown them for a while now and have quite a denim stash. When I joined the "Quilters Club of America" they offered a free Fons & Porter pattern that I had seen demonstrated on one of their shows (episode 408). One day it hit me that this was the perfect combo of the two: where they used batiks, I could use denim, where they used neat strips, I'd drain the string bag I'd been building up. As a bonus, the design is pieced in a "Tumbling Blocks" layout, not a "must do" for me but one I don't mind trying. Even better the plan was to have my sons piece the strips together themselves - a little project to keep them busy as the summer winds down. Perfect!
So we got started but have been interrupted by another busy week (a death in the family) but I'm looking forward to having them continue to piece the strips when they come home from school over the next month (a little extra homework assignment!).

So that's it for me, I'm up to date.
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Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm Back! - Part 3

Next summer project: After I finished the Dino Sports quilt for my cousin's son I had the following fabrics left over:

Then I happended to look in a recent issue of Easy Quilts magazine (Spring 2009). There was a pattern for a quilt using the same line of fabrics! I couldn't tbelieve I had missed it, I probably had not paid attention to it because when I received the issue I had already bought a kit for the first quilt and did not expect to make another one. Wanting to use up the fabrics I thought what the heck! So I bought more of these fabrics from the line:

And added to what I had, made this top:

I don't have a purpose for it. I might wind up donating it when it's done. Cute and now awaiting the back (I have the fabric, more of the orange, I'm just trying to decide whether to make it plain or throw in some more of the scraps for a funky back.

Ok, almost done updating..........

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I'm Back! - Part 2

What I did this summer continued.....

A fun thing and a quilty first for me is that I particpated in a block swap this summer. Margaret of the "
Quick Queen of Quincy" blog announced in May that she was hosting the "Four Season Summer Block Swap". This is something I always wanted to try. The block she chose and the fabric requirements seemed easy enough and I snagged the last spot in the swap. Our mission was to make the simple color block in five fabrics of the same color. While the fabrics could have other colors in them the finished block had to "read" as one color. Our mailing deadlines were July 1 and August 15 after which we would get in return the same number of blocks we submitted (up to twenty per mailing) made by other quilters. these were the two sets I submitted:

And these were the blocks I got in return:

I already have an idea for a top layout for the blocks. I’m going to leave the button on the sidebar to encourage me to try it.

Still more to come since I've been away awhile.....

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I'm Back! - Part 1

First I apologize in advance for the long post. Well, I've been away from the blog too long. I wish I could say I was summering on the Riviera but the truth was that the summer went too fast and was too full of things OTHER THAN the things I had planned to do - namely quilt and rest.

Last summer at the end of the school year I got the opportunity to put my two sons in summer programs for the month of July.  This resulted in an unexpected amount of free time for me which in turn resulted in a very productive quilting summer in which I got four projects completed.  So this year I had planned to enroll them again (although not in the same programs) in the hopes of Mom having another in-home summer quilt retreat.  However, all the plans I had in place before June fell apart (due to outside forces) and it was a scramble right up to the last day of school to get them enrolled in another program.

I also I had a lot on my plate at the end of the school year since both my sons graduated from their respective schools (elmentary and middle school).  I had been Treasurer of my younger son's elementary school Parents Association for the last two years and with his graduation and the end of my tenure in that school as a volunteer (my second tour of duty since my older son had also attended the school),  I not only had to close the books at year-end even more thoroughly than usual but also do transition training with the new (actually continuing) board members.  The Parents Association also sponsors or provides decorations for some of the graduation and moving-up events so I had to be at the school literally every day of the last week of school including the day both sons graduated (fortunately their graduations were scheduled on the same day and in the same building) and the Friday before when we hosted the Senior Dance.

So by the time June ended I was frazzled and jumpy!  The first week of their program (and July) I could not relax and scrambled to tackle household tasks that I had put on hold while busy in June.  The second week my husband was on vacation and with free access to the car (he usually drives to work), we ran errands almost every day.  I finally began to rest the third week but went too far, for the first three days all I wanted to do was sleep and catch up on TV shows.  So when I finally got in gear later that week, I realized that my sons' program (and my chances for quilt solitude) would be ending the following week!  I got started on a few things but before you knew it they were back under my full-time charge.  

Of course the next week was getting them back in gear to tackle their summer reading packets and I began to plan the next week, my husband's next vacation - a "honey-do" week redecorating my sons room -- painting, new furniture and blinds the whole nine yards.  That week was filled with purchasing, installing or assembling all of the above between trips to Blinds To Go, Ikea and Home Depot.  By the end of the week they had a "new" room but we were all exhausted.  This left only two more weeks of August left to finish up the packets and try to rest in between.  But for me the summer of my dreams was as good as over!

However, there was some quilty fun accomplished this summer. One of the errands I ran during my husband's first vacation week was a stop at a favorite quilt shop
Hartsdale Fabrics for some fat quarters for a project to be talked about in the next post. I got into a conversation with the employee that rang up my purchases.

As with most quilters our conversation ranged far and wide from favorite quilt designers, getting new quilters involved in quilting ( and the perils thereof for husbands of new quilters) and my reluctance to join a guild.  She gave me a brochure and told me about the guild and quilt groups she belonged to.  Then she told me she had a blog and asked me if I had one. It turns out that she had visited (and commented) on my blog!  Her name is Teri of the Terificreations blog.  An accomplished quilter (as you will see when you check out her work) she also teaches and is soon to do (actually may have already filmed) an upcoming segment of the "Quilting Arts" TV show!!  It was a great meet and I hope that I did not get her in trouble for monopolizing her time while she was working but it was a great conversation and who knows, maybe I will get up the gumption to check out the guild too.

As an aside,  I also want to note that given the long time it took me to post this combined with difficulties I've had in the past attempting to respond to comments, I've added the "Blogging Without Obligation" tag to my sidebar. While I do read my comments I am often not able to respond unless you have blog that allows comments to be left or have your email address posted on your blog, not just an email link (I know, even I don't do this).  One of the problems I've found is that if I click an email "link" in Blogger, my computer will try to open Microsoft Outlook (an email interface) which is not installed on the laptop I use. In the old days, Outlook came as part of the basic Window operating system bundle but no longer. And I looked into the price of it thinking that maybe I should purchase it to make it easier to respond to posts.  However, the stand alone program costs $129!!!!  Considering what I already pay for internet cable service with a built in email interface this is not an expense I want to incur. 

I also know that in the past it was possible to tell Internet Explorer who your email provider was and it would use this information to process email requests.  But this feature is no longer in the newer versions of IE (I looked) and while I found instructions on the web on how to tweak Windows to tell IE what provider/server to to use for email, when I tried it Windows told me that I "don't have enough memory to perform this task".  Sigh, this laptop was cutting edge when I purchased it maybe three years ago and now I need to upgrade just to perform simple maintenance!  Well, in the fall when the computer trade shows come to town I'll go get some more memory.  If I haven't or don't respond to you, I am not being rude, I'm just a little behind the computer times.

Now on to the quilts!!!! Before the end of June I had to complete the Dino Sports quilt (that I blogged about here) for my cousin's son.

I pushed to get it ready before he and his sister left to visit their grandmother for the summer but in the end my cousin decided it would be best to wait until they got back to give it to them.  Here it sits along with his sister's (that I blogged about here) still awaiting gifting in the fall since we have all been too busy to get together.  There is actually an additional gift wrapped up in the quilts so I know they will be excited when they open the packages!

I also finished, layered, basted and marked the "Vintage Treasures" BOM top (that I last blogged about here).  Since I had not planned for the end of June to be as busy as it was,  I had expected to get this quilted by then.  So it sits in my quilt space having joined the other "To Be Quilted" projects in its midst. And the label I had preprinted for it with a June, 2009 finish date will also need to be updated.

More to come in the next post.....

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Monday, June 1, 2009

On the Design Wall

Judy Laquidara at the Patchwork Times blog has started a new feature on her blog called "What's On Your Design Wall Mondays". Since I've been showing my "works in progress" since I started my blog this year, I thought it'd be fun to participate (that is, if I've got something to show).

When I posted my finishes for the "Spring Finish" yesterday, I didn't have any thing on my wall because piecing was on hold until some of the accumulated quilting had been done. But with those projects done I could back to working my Block of the Month project. This is the Joann's "Vintage Treasures" BOM from 2004. I actually bought these kits in late 2005 off of Ebay and when I couldn't get the complete set was lucky enough to find more of most of the fabrics or good substitutes at one of the stores and then drafted the remaining blocks on my own (I use Quilt-Pro).

I've been working on this project at a rate of two blocks a month because I want to finish the top by the end of this month so I can start on another BOM I have in stash and work on that for the rest of the year. I made the four blue blocks shown today and added them to their corresponding border pieces. The triangle portions will be added to the medallion center that was shown in
this post. I already have another set of blocks ready to be added to an additional set of border pieces that I need to cut (from a substitute fabric) but that will be work for another day.

BTW, my design wall is just a flannel backed tablecloth from the 99 cents store tacked to the wall with sticky tape squares. Basic but it works!Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 31, 2009

To Quilt Is Human, To Finish Divine!

I finally have some finishes for 2009 and for the "Spring To Finish Challenge" being hosted by Jacqui at the Tallgrass Prairie Studio blog .

The basket quilt is done. The pattern is the "Postage Stamp Quilt" from Alex Anderson's very first book "Quilts For Fabric Lovers" (C&T Publishing, 1994, out of print). My quilt was made a little smaller than the one in the book. The picture of the back was taken before I wrote in the quilt label information.

This was one of my "scrap quilt challenge" projects. I have a self-imposed challenge to make (or at least start) a quilt from scraps each year. All the basket blocks were cut from leftover pieces cut from other projects with a few backgrounds cut from stash if no coordinating scraps were available. The border and backing fabrics were purchased new as were the blue, yellow, pink and two of the olive prints used in the nine-patch blocks (the rest of the olive prints came from stash).

In a previous post about this quilt
Sue posted a comment that she didn't think she'd ever get to do one. I've got to say that in the book Alex said making these blocks is addictive and I agree with her! They are quite simple and small (4-1/2" finished) and pieced except for the handle which is stitched onto the background and then finished by applique (I did the applique by machine). Alex also demonstrated this block on the "Simply Quilts" show episode #216 "Designing Fabric with Nancy Martin" for those of you who (like me) may still have the shows on tape (and which reminds me I've got to check on DVD recorder prices again so I can finally get all those tapes transferred to disk!).

While I love the way the quilt turned out, it's definitely not square since the bottom edge is rippling something awful. However, I think it's striking enough to display for a while. I also love the binding technique I used. It is a "piped binding" -- no actual piping cord is used just two fabrics layered and best of all applied completely by machine. The technique is from the book "Triangulations Bed Quilts" by Brenda Henning and is one I will definitely use again.

The second finish is a quilt made for my cousin's soon to be three year old daughter. It is made from the
Five and Dime" quilt pattern by All Washed Up.

I call it the "Girly Pink Spring Quilt". The quilt got its name because it started with some bright fabrics purchased in a Fons & Porter scrap bag that I thought were real "girly", something my cousin said her daughter was quickly becoming. I added some coordinating fabrics from my stash and then found the pink fabric used for the vertical sashing on the front and the green backing fabric at Aunt Bee's Sewing Basket at a clearance sale at the beginning of the year. When I started working on the quilt, my husband asked me if I was making a "spring quilt" and I added that to the name. I hope to give it to her this month for her birthday although now this means I must also layer and finish the quilt I've got for her brother too!

In other quilty news: I was accepted to participate in my first block swap. Margaret of the
Quick Queen of Quincy blog is hosting a summer "Color Block" block swap. She opened the block swap up to fifty participants and I was able to snag the last spot. So I'll be working on those blocks over the next two months since we are to submit sets of blocks by the beginning of July and mid August.

Unfortunately having just finished these two pieces I don't have anything up on the design wall right now. I'm taking a break for a day and then as of June 1 will be plunging back into my Joann BOM project and the aforementioned brother gift quilt. So I should be back in June with some good quilty stuff to post!

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

No Spring Finish For Me

Unfortunately, I was not able to complete anything for Jacquie's April Spring Finish Challenge. I have so many projects in progress and had a hard time trying to focus on just one. But no finishes does not mean that nothing was accomplished. I was able to bring quite a few projects forward to their next phase. And as Jacquie noted, the work started in April can continue into May to accumulate more (or for me the first) finishes.

For the basket quilt talked about two posts ago I did get the batik fabric for the back (although it took two tries to get just the right one) and now the back is finished. I'm hoping to make a run to Michael's for some batting (I've got a coupon) so I can get this one layered, basted and (hopefully) quilted. I'm so glad the new fabric goes well with the original setting triangle fabric since I will be using it to bind the quilt too so needed them to be similar.

Some other accomplishments: I layered and basted the Stashbuster quilt and was able to get fabric for the binding so now I just need to decide how to quilt it. When I ordered the (second) batik, I was also able to get backing fabric for my Crumb quilt. I had decided that it would be easier to add the bead border after quilting the center so now that I have backing, I can layer and baste that one and also move it along to the quilting phase. And I've prepared the flannel back for the Dino Sports quilt so now the label needs to be attached and it too can be layered and basted for quilting.

After the challenge ended and May began, I was also anxious to work on the next blocks in the "Vintage Treasurers" BOM I've been working on since the start of the year. With the blocks this month I was able to start constructing the center of the top. I have another BOM I want to do in the second half of the year, so I've been doing this one two blocks a month in the hopes of completing the top in June.

On The Design Wall:

Joann "Vintage Treasures" BOM

This BOM was issued by the Joann Craft Store chain although I bought the kits on Ebay. I was only able to get five of the monthly kits, the Setting Kit and an accessory booklet. I went to one of the stores and was able to get more of most of the fabrics used and subsititutes for all but two. With that I have drafted the remaining blocks (in Quilt-Pro). The hardest fabric to replace was the light blue fabric in the picture. After many tries elesewhere, I eventually found what I needed at Connecting Threads in their "Country Essentials-Fall" line (which I see is now down to only a few fabrics on closeout).

"Vintage Treasurers" is is my second BOM and neither of them were made one block, a month at a time! The first one was Debbie Mumm's "Christmas Wish" (2008 BOM Sampler) which was made at a rate of two blocks a week between October and December of last year.

Although I consider this a 2008 finish, it is also on the goal list for this year because I only had time to outline quilt it just enough to be able to hang it up for the holidays. This year, I want to add more detail quilting. I found a cute "Holly and Berries" motif in the Alex Anderson's "Beautifully Quilted" book that I hope to add to it along with the words "A Christmas Wish for A Happy Holiday".

So now to spring ahead so I can have some finishes before it's officially summer!

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

1st Annual Bloggers Quilt Festival

Welcome to all who are coming from Amy's site to another entry in the Bloggers Quilt Festival! Amy (innovator that she is) at the Park City Girl blog came up with wonderful idea to host a quilt festival for all the quilting bloggers out there. And if you've gotten all the way down the list to me, you know there are ALOT of quilters blogging (or is it bloggers quilting??). Although the title of this post says that it is the first annual festival, I saw on one of her more recent posts that this might become a bi-annual (Fall, Spring) event from here on which would be cool. If you need to link back to her site to access other entries click the button above.

My entry for favorite quilt (right now and the first of my 2008 finishes to be showcased) is this one:

It's called " "Flannel" Point of No Return" . Why is it my favorite? First because it's made of flannel! If a handmade quilt is a hug, a flannel quilt is a double hug! This quilt is as cuddly as it gets. I made it to be a couch quilt (something for the kids to snuggle under while watching TV) but it hasn't left my bed since I finished it. I've heard that a flannel back is also good for keeping your quilt from slipping off the bed so it's utilitarian and cozy!

The second reason this is a favorite is that all the plaid fabrics used here were FREE! When I started quilting back in 2002, I read a tip on the Worldwide Quilting Page that if you were a new quilter, needing to build your stash of fabric cheap and lived in a city with a garment district, you might be able to get fabric that was being discarded by cutting rooms for free. My DH is a UPS driver who at that time delivered in Manhattan (NYC) and was often assigned to the garment district. I asked him to keep a look out for fabric being discarded and his instructions were that as long as it wasn't suit fabric (something I knew he could identify) he was to bring it home and I'd figure out if I could use it.

One day he came home with a giant black garbage bag full of fabric cuts and these beauties were one of the treasures I found in it. They were probably fabric samples since they were all uniformly sized to about a fat quarter, mostly (what I thought were) flannels and a few in straight cottons. At that time I didn't know you could make a quilt in flannel but I had read that plaids were really useful in quilting and thought the range of colors were too good to let go.

Maybe a few months later, I saw an episode of the "Simply Quilts" TV show on HGTV (it was still on then and what got me started with quilting) and Sandy Bonsib gave tips from her book on quilting with flannel. Now I knew these fabrics could definitely go into a quilt. A year later I purchased a back issue of the April '93 American Patchwork & Quilting magazine (the first issue, I believe). The original "Point of No Return" quilt pattern was in it, designed by Country Threads of cotton plaids in reds, greys and blues with a cream background and a red plaid back. I immedately knew this was where these fabrics would be used.

It was another year later when I stumbled upon a flannel fabric sale at a Joann craft store and was able to get the cream flannel and the backing "flannel" for (wait for it) $2.99 a yard! Snapped them up and thought I'd get right to work on it. Instead I cut out ALL the pieces for the blocks (A LOT of triangles), made a few and then put it aside in favor of other projects. Then last year, wanting to fulfill a personal "one quilt finish a month" challenge, I dug all these out, intent on finishing the quilt and did so! Now I am a big fan of flannel backs and while not all projects will get one I've currently got two more quilts in the works that will have them.

Quilt Back and Label

The reason why "flannel" is in quotes is that the only real flannel fabric in this quilt is the cream background. Ms. Bonsib's advice for binding was to use a regular cotton fabric because flannel fabric is stretchy. When I finally went to buy my binding fabric, I really wanted to have flannel right down to the binding. I found a plaid that I liked that was listed as a "brushed cotton" something I thought I had never used before but figured it might work well with flannel.

When it came in the mail, I realized that ALL the plaids AND the backing fabric were also brushed cottons: a flannel texture on front and a regular, flat cotton weave on back. Who knew? But I had already named the quilt so I just added the quotes to keep me honest!

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the rest of the festival!

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Belated Thanks, Long Overdue Updates and a Finish Challenge!

First of all, I'd like to extend a belated thank you to Finn at "Riding the Orphan Train". I had contacted her shortly after starting my blog to contribute an orphan block project to her site which is a forum for people who like to use their leftover or extra blocks. My projects, Quilt Journal Covers, were featured in this post.

As a result of that post, I received a lot of positive comments (thanks, guys!) including one blogger who wanted to know how I made them. Having read blogs for the last year, I realized that this was a "tutorial moment", however, I am too new to blogging to attempt that right now, especially since I don't have production pictures of each step I did to make the covers. But I do have a lot of projects in the works this year and expect to be making another cover (in fact before doing this post I came up with a potential design idea for it), so hopefully in the future I will try to do a tutorial on it.

I also hadn't intended to take this long to update the blog. I've been working steadily on projects and kept telling myself "as soon as I get this next project done, I'll update the blog....". However, as soon as a project was at a completion point (because I've yet to have an actual finish for 2009 but more on that later), I'd find new inspiration for another project. But as I worked on each project I'd find those completion points coming much slower than anticipated. This happened with my most recent project, so I decided that I'd better post with what I've got and update later when I have more.

So, here's what I've been working on: On my sidebar, I've updated my lists as items have moved from HSY to WISP to Flimsie. First up is the finished top for the Dino sports quilt that will be a gift for my cousin's son. The "Girly Pink Spring Quilt" on the Flimise list is for his sister.

The left picture is the top and the right is the label for the back made from leftover fabric. The label is sitting on the flannel fabric I purchased for the backing (I love flannel backs but more on THAT in another upcoming post). The quilt is a Northcott Fabrics kit by Terry Perry and I purchased both the kit and the backing online from the Always Open Quilt Store (they had the best price on the web)! I hope to get this one layered for quilting by the end of the weekend.

Remember the quilt "On the Design Wall" in my last post? Well that top is now finished. I have fabric for the binding and back on order and a design for the back already planned out. Unfortunately, I did not have enough of the fabric I used for the setting triangles for the finishing steps but I think I found a matching batik that will allow me to do the piped binding I have planned. I also have extras of the nine-patch border blocks (in the opposite light-dark-light sequence) that I will use as a border for the label. I made both sets at the same time using Billie Lauder's Nine-Patch construction shortcut which I saw demonstrated on Quilters TV.com last year (the video is not currently airing) and that she writes about in her book "Quick Quilt Tricks". The quilt design is from Alex Anderson's very first book "Quilts For Fabric Lovers".

I've also moved my Crumb Quilt project to the Flimsie list. I still need to attach the borders but because I will be using a pretty beaded barrel trim I found (right picture) for the inner border, I plan to add it and the gorgeous Kaffe Fassett fabric outer border after quilting the center top. Unfortunately to do that, I still need to find a backing fabric.

On the Design Wall:
Blocks Completed To Date for the Brrr! Park Quilt

I have two more blocks to complete and a gazillion triangle squares for the inner borders. This too is from a kit, pattern and fabrics by Minick & Simpson (for Moda Fabrics) and will also have a flannel back. I had planned to have all the blocks done by this week and the top finished and ready for layering but we'll just have to see how the weekend goes. This year has really been the year of the kit for me but that's a topic for yet another post.
With regard to finishing: I've signed up for the "April Spring Finish" challenge that was posted on the Tallgrass Prairie Studio blog by Jacqui. Click on the button on the sidebar to link to the specfic post about the challenge. There will be prizes for finishers. For me, with so many flimsies and basted tops, I'm really hoping to motivate myself to getting at least one project completely finished by the end of April. I've started a little late (I only saw her post this week although the challenge was issued at the beginning of the month) so I'll have to play catch up.

I hope to also participate in the Quilt Bloggers Festival to be hosted by Park City Girl. Amy will collect links to blogs of quilters who want to show their favorite work. Information about the festival, which will run from today until the end of next week can be found
here. This would give me a chance to fulfill my promise to show some of my work from last year (and force me to update my blog in the upcoming week!).

So that's all for me for now. Hope to bring more soon(er).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Plans, Goals and Works-In-Progress

It's been awhile since I've updated this blog. As I noted when I started it, its primary purpose is to allow me to communicate with other quilter/bloggers. However, like other quilters I would like my blog to eventually serve as a record of my quilt projects as well.

I discovered blogs in late 2007 and they have served as inspiration and encouragement for me ever since. At that time, I was bothered by what I considered to be my lack of "industriousness" because I did not feel I got my projects done quickly enough, if at all. To that end, I gave myself a challenge in 2008 to try to complete one project a month (although said projects did not have to have been started in the same month as completed). Seeing so many bloggers post their Works In Progress lists and pictures of their ongoing projects and finishes, I was really inspired to "stay on task" with my own. As a result, I did get eleven projects done last year - a new record for me even if I did not ultimately meet my goal. I hope to show those projects in upcoming posts.What last year's experience proved was that it was possible for me to focus on my projects if I made it a personal priority. This year my desire is to maintain the same level of focus to successfully pursue my projects and hopefully even complete them in a "reasonable" amount of time although I don't have any specific "number to complete" goal. I am more concerned with not letting myself get bogged down when a project is a little harder than expected or put it aside indefinitely when it takes a turn I didn't expect. I can accept when a project has gone as far as inspiration will allow at the moment and needs to be set side for awhile or if it has served a purpose and need not be finished. My other goal this year is to get more comfortable with my machine quilting so that step does not indefinitely delay the finish of a quilt.

With that in mind, I've updated my blog to include my lists of Flimsies (completed tops awaiting backing, batting, layering or quilting), Works In Progress, "Hussies" (HSY-Haven't Started Yet but have all or most of the fabric and the pattern or design) and the dreaded WISPS and UFOs (Works In Slow Progress and Unfinished Objects) that currently clutter reside in my work space. Hopefully by year's end I will have crossed a few items off my lists although there are some finishes (like the Autumn Double Wedding Ring) that will be more significant to me than others.

I have learned over the years that each project, whether completed or not, is another step on what has been a glorious quilting journey and I look forward to them all!

On the design wall: WIP: Alex's Basket Quilt