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 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).