Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year In Review Part 1 -- Recent Finishes

Once again I didn't expect to be this long from the blog but things have been both busy and stagnant since my last post in November.  But I wanted to close out the year by taking a moment to look back on what has happened and what I can expect for the New Year.

Getting Back To the Teaser

In the last post I had teased  this.....

Click on the picture to what the squares say up close! 

....and thought I 'd get back soon for a detailed post.  This STILL isn't THAT post but here's a look at the whole project:

I've used that white shoe cubby in my quilt space for years to store my fat quarters.  When we moved in 2011 and I set up my studio in our dining room, I felt that the box (which hangs over my cutting table) would need something to make it a little more interesting.  

Early in 2012 I saw this dresser when Monique Reynolds of the Monique's Stitches/Sew Fun By Monique blog did a guest post on Allison Rosen's Within A Quarter Inch blog.  I loved it and it reminded me of a project I had wanted to do for my old quilt space:  make curtains alternating selvedge string squares with panel blocks I had purchased from Block Party Studios (Note: the link is to their latest panel "What Quilters Really Think V" although my project used panels from versions II, III & IV).   

I was a little disappointed when we moved since the curtains wouldn't work for the dining room but when I saw Monique's dresser I realized I could retrofit the idea to my storage box.  The result is what you see here.  I leave it open on a day to day basis (I love to see my FQ's!) but can close the front down when the dining room space has to do its normal duties.  

I have two other projects planned for my quilt space which I hope to get to in 2014.  When they're done I hope to do a "my quilt studio" posting.  This year was a very special one for my little quilting space but I'll say more about that in that future post.

Another UFO Down

For the last two years my goal has been to clear out UFOs and WIPs.  Unfortuately, I've found myself bottled up lately when with the year rushing to a close, I realized that there was still a (too) LONG list of things I had wanted to have done before the year ended.  With Thanksgiving and Christmas and a spate of volunteering at my DS2's school I was pretty sure I wouldn't get to all of it.   But wanting to get at least something knocked off the list, I had gone back to working on another old UFO and managed to get it done at the start of December.

This is called the "Sage Sampler".  None of the fabrics are actually sage colored --- it's named after the color of the frame I put it in.  The blocks finish at 3" and was an attempt to work from a limited pallette of scrap fabrics.  Started way back in 2004, I had six of the blocks done and made the green Fleur De Lis applique in 2010 after I took a Hand Applique course.  Wanting to take as few old UFOs into the New Year as possible, I pushed to finish this one.  And now after all these years it is finally hanging in my bedroom as originally intended.  Hopefully for 2014 I can finish the three other quilt projects I have planned for that room as well as finally work on the wood I bought to make some quilt display ladders.

The Magi Were Better Gifters

Another thing I wanted to finish up were some projects for a friend of mine.  My friend attended her first quilt show with me earlier this year (although she is not a quilter).  It was the New Jersey Quilt Fest and will be coming up again in March 2014.  While there we went to a lecture by Kaffe Fassette and all the quilts from his last book "Shots & Stripes" were on display (and for a great review of the book see this post at the Quilt Inspiration blog).   My friend had particularly loved his "Girder" quilt.  At the time, I got the idea to make her a mug rug "snapshot" of it as a remembrance of attending the show.  Here it (finally) is (finished size  6-3/4" X 5-1/2):

The mug on the back  is a quarter size version of the "Big Mugs" block from the Dec '/Jan '14 issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine and can be picked up from their website here.  Unfortunately, I still owe my friend two other gifts, a cat panel print that she purchased at the show that I am now feverishly trying to finish quilting up for Christmas for New Year's before her next birthday in February!  The other is a jewelry pouch I started years ago for her that is complete except for embellishment (I want to try some beading and couching) and binding (in more of those shot cottons!).  As I said, she'll definitely have it for her birthday at the latest (and hopefully THAT won't be famous last words!)

Well that's it for the recent finishes, Part 2 of this post will review the finishes from the beginning of the year and the additional things I hope to accomplish in 2014!  Stay tuned!

2013 Year In Review Part 2 -- Early Finishes and Plans for 2014

In Part 1 of this post, I talked about my recent (since November) finishes.  As for the early part of this year, my other finishes have been detailed in previous posts and they included:

January: UGRR/Pioneer Samplers

March: Merrimac Dresdens

May: Brrr!

and the "Tribute" fabric line series all completed in June:

Tribute Mini and Star Spangled Runner  

Looking back I guess I really can't complain about my productivity but that also doesn't guarantee that the REST of the UFOs will get done either!

So what's up for 2014?  Well, the UFO fest must continue because I want (need?) to clear out some of the stuff sitting under my cutting table so that it can be fully functional (that is, be closed down when I need it to be).  My Double Wedding Ring  project is one of those gremlins under the table that comes to mind since it's one of my original bucket list projects and right now only needs borders and quilting.

More than a couple of my UFOs are TBQs (To Be Quilted) so I hope to sprinkle in more than a few those as well.

I'm realizing more and more that I am comfortable with doing the actual quilt stitching so now it's only the "quilt whispering" (deciding what to quilt where) that I have to get more confident about.  In a conversation today with Teri Lucas (check out her work and blog) at Hartsdale Fabrics a LQS, she gave me a lot of ideas and a challenge to try in the coming year to help loosen up my willingness to let my quilting get "Foot Loose and Fancy Free" (which just happens to be the name of one of her many classes, check out the details of that and all her classes here).

I am also only a few more projects away from completing my first "quilt gallery" in my home.  I've always wanted to create quilt displays around my home tied to a theme.  The UGRR/Pioneer Samplers and Merrimac quilt are part of a series of quilts I have done using Civil War reproduction fabrics.  In the TBQ pile (bottom left) is my CW Chronicles BOM a bed size top that once finished will be displayed on my bed.  The UGRR/Pioneer Samplers have been hanging at the top of my entry stairwell since they were finished in January.  Also in the works are sampler blocks for not one but TWO lap quilts that will be displayed on my couch.

I've got about half the blocks done for both and already have border and backing fabrics purchased so hope to get those finished in the early part of the year as well.  Lastly will be a couple more mini quilts as well as the "Soldier Cot Quilt" from Kathleen Tracy's book "The Civil War Sewing Circle".  Along with the Merrimac Quilt these will be displayed in the stairwell  that goes upstairs to our bedrooms.  I had hoped for this to have all been completed by the end of this year but now am shooting for a finish by June of 2014.

What's the biggest project on my "To Do" list?  Early last year a quilting friend and I initiated talks to do a quilted project for the Bronx division of the New York City Family Justice Center that aids victims of domestic violence. The plan at the time was to make three quilts for display in their offices.  The projects will include some fabric squares embellished by the clients of the office.  We procured some donated fabrics back in July and the embellished blocks were delivered at the end of August.  I was able to do some preliminary work on it but have not been able to proceed on it as the school volunteering and  holiday commitments got under way.  I realize now that the problem is that this is not something I can work on in between other projects, I'm going to have to clear the time and space to focus on this by itself if I am to move it forward.  So this will have to be a priority project for the New Year because I really want to deliver something wonderful for an important organization that is doing work for a very worthy cause.

But before all that can happen I have a quilt date tomorrow!  Tomorrow the Planet Patchwork website will be holding its VERY LAST New Year's One Day Mystery!!!!!   This website will be shutting down for good in 2014 so this is my last chance to participate in one of these.  They have held these Mystery quilts on either the day after Thanksgiving or New Years Day for years.  The projects are designed by Merry Meyhem, the alter ego of quilt designer Merry May and co-author of the book "Insider's Guide To Quilting Careers" with Linda Hahn.  I have participated in two previous mysteries, one last year and in 2007 so I really wanted to participate in this one last time.  The good news is that if what they say is true, the fact that I'll be at the machine at the very start of the year will be a good omen for how I will (or hope to) spend the rest of the year! 

This also sets me up for more UFO/TBQ quilting in 2014 since last year's mystery needs the borders finished (I changed the design of the original) and the 2007 one is TBQ.  I am sorry to see this website go since it was one that was very informative for me when I first started quilting.  However, the bonus for me was that I finally scored a copy of the "Dear Jane" book from the their store closing sale.  Doubt THAT will be added to my 2014 project file but definitely some "Janey" work will be in my quilt future! 

So that's it for me and 2013.  Here's hoping that you and yours have a joyous New Year's Eve and a healthy, happy, prosperous and productive 2014!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Back (Again) From the Abyss

Whew!  It's been a very long time since my last post.  I still haven't got to the point where blogging is integrated into my life well enough that I post regularly.  It seems it's always feast or famine with it.  But I'm back now even though I've also missed out on a lot.  But I am hoping to finish out the year with a bang rather than just whimpering!

When I last posted I had just purchased some long desired rulers, one of which I had hoped to use on a commission charity quilt project that I had signed up to do with another quilter.  I also had started the very big job of painting about half of our home and I had an upcoming week-long trip down south to three states.  Added to that my oldest son, having graduated high school in June, was still in the process of deciding whether to attend college or start working.  Oh and throw in that I had made a very big and ambitious list of projects to try to tackle for the Third Quarter of Leann's 2013 Finish-A-Long.  For some silly reason I thought all those juggled balls would fall neatly into place one by one.  The plan was that by September, I would be cruising, smoothly, to finishing up my own summer quilt work as well as the commission project.  After that I would move on to a few fall projects I wanted to tackle and then set up my "To Do" list for the final year end push.

Ha!  What's that saying: "Announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh” (attributed to author David Milch).  In the end, only some things got done and none of those finished up as quickly or smoothly as expected.  When delivery of part of the materials for the start of the commission project was delayed, my need to focus on all the life stuff only delayed the start even further.  My son made his decision at the final hour (choosing to go to school) but then that added additional chauffeuring work to my daily schedule further changing the rhythm of my days.  So I am only now getting settled back into my little quilting world.

I can tease a picture of one project that did get done during this time and hope to do a post in the coming weeks about how it relates to bigger changes in my "studio" space.

Oh, before I leave, I also want to shout out the Fall Bloggers Quilt Festival hosted by Martingale author Amy Ellis that is going on right now at her website, Amy's Creative Side.  This is the wonderful biannual on-line quilt show that happens during the big Quilt Market weeks.

So first chance you get, go on over and check out what the entrants have posted for this round.  I've still got a couple more categories to check out too.  Don't forget to vote for your favorites!

Hopefully, I'll be back with another post sooner than last time!

Friday, August 2, 2013

More New Stuff For July

In addition to getting a NewFO quilt in July I also got some new gadgets too!  I'm a confessed gadget geek so had an opportunity to spring for some new rulers:

I've long wanted the Lazy Angle Ruler and finally decided to spring for it (a sale did help that along).  I wanted the "Lazy and Lovin' It" book too but it's pretty pricey so had to choose between getting it and getting the other rulers I also wanted.  The ruler comes with a small instruction book and I found a lot of free tutorials and videos using the ruler on the web.  Since I have no particular project in mind at the moment, I've decided to play with what I've got first and then see if I want to invest in the book for more options (or hope that I catch a future great sale on it too!).

I'm already a big fan of Deb Tucker's rulers (having used the Rapid Fire Leymoyne Star ruler in my "Valor" quilt and her Tucker Trimmer for projects in general). I've had to make Square In A Square blocks before and the math is never easy so the ruler will make short work of a great basic block. Also the SIS block is a great companion to Lazy Angle block designs since the points on it fall in the middle of each side.

I've also been admiring for over a year the designs of Jenny Pedigo (Sew Kind of Wonderful) the designer of the Quick Curve Ruler. She did a great Sampler Quilt Along last fall.  Unfortuately I don't follow the business blogs as closely as I follow the individual quilter blogs and since I only discovered the QAL recently, I realize I missed out on getting the ruler at a really great price at the start of the QAL!   However, right now the block for her "Metro Medallion QAL" looks like it might be great for a community service quilt I'll be working on soon so I sprung for that as well.

Re: the Quick Curve Ruler: after buying it, I happened to be surfing around and went to check out Cheryl Phillips at Phillips Fiber Art, a designer I haven't heard much about in the last few years.   I know her for her "Rings That Bind" DWR technique (when she appeared on "Simply Quilts") and also have her "New York Beauty" and "Mariners Compass" books. It turns out she also has a ruler called "The Simple Curve" ruler that's been out since about 2010.   It seems very similar to Jenny's ruler and is less expensive so if you are already a fan of Cheryl's tools, you might want to check that out as well. I downloaded her free "Simple Coins" quilt pattern to see if it'll also work with Jenny's ruler. 

So it's on to the dog days of August and all that entails!

Reporting in on the July NewFO

Well it's August and the summer is now officially winding down.  I had planned to spend July working on items from my list of 3rd Quarter Finish-A-Long UFOs but instead I just couldn't let go of the Red, White & Blue phase I was in for all of June.  I had hinted at it here and now I can present another patroitc NewFO for this year:

This is my version of the "Liberty Hall" wallhanging that was featured in the Summer 2008 issue of Fons & Porter's "Easy Quilts" magazine and also now appears in their compilation book "The Best of Fons & Porter: Patriotic Quilts" as (just) "Liberty".  I made mine a little smaller than the magazine version to fit the space I plan to hang it in.  Even better it was all done from stash! 
After the top and back were finished, the ensuing debate has been over the quilting or actually the batting.  I thought the elements in the center panel would look good done in the trapunto style.  I know how to use two layers of poly batting and prep for machine trapunto but the amount of detail would make doing that difficult.  But after looking at the description for a free-motion quilt class, the supply list sent me in a new direction:  using wool batting to get the "puffy" look I want.  
Fortunately it just so happened that I had some wool batting scraps leftover from my "Merrimac Dresdens" project and I was able to "Frankenstein" enough together to make the batt for this earlier in the week and finally got the layering and basting done last night.

And while I don't want to sit on this too long, I know I really need to get back to the Finish-A-Long projects so we'll have to see what wins out. 

The print I used for the center has many elements that to my mind symbolized "bountiful"  so my name for this wallhanging will be "Sweet Land of Liberty" from the song "My Country 'Tis of Thee".  As quilting serendiptiy would have it, the Summer 2013 issue of Primitive Quilts and Projects magazine had a small wool project called "Let Freedom Ring" (you can see a peek of it on the right in the picture).  Wool has become one of my interests and the project name happens to be the last line of the first stanza of the same song so I'm hoping to add this little project to the R/W/B list too!

Want to see more NewFO goodness for July?

Head back over to Barbara at CatPatches and see what other quilters fired up in July! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

3rd Quarter Finish-A-Long List

First off, while revewing everyone's 2nd Quarter posts, I noticed an omission on all of mine:

Just want to make sure that from here on in I get Leanne's button on the post!  Now on to the meat and potatoes.........
So what'll it be for the 3rd Quarter?  Well last quarter I talked about working on two that definitely have to go on the list so...
1.  Crazy Quilt Jewelry Pouch (and this time I can share the picture).
Originally I had hoped to finish this to participate in an online crazy quilt competition but time and inspiration got away from me.  (And good thing I didn't, I wasn't ready to compete with these ladies yet!  See the beautiful entries on this post at Thearica's Pigtales & Quilts blog---scroll down and click on the "Competition Album" to see detailed photos of all the beautiful entries.)  But now I REALLY want to get this one done. 
It's one of my oldest UFOs (going all the way back to 2007).  This was supposed to be a gift for a close friend---thank goodness we've know each other long enough to overlook how long this has taken.  The thing is, the construction of it is pretty much complete---all it needs further embellishment.  And that's the problem:  up to now I haven't been able to give myself the mental room (aka courage) to relax and play to see what I can come up with.  But a couple of weeks ago a LQS had an anniversary sale and I picked up the beads you see in the picture really cheap.  When I picked up a new foot for my machine in early June, I saw the yarn you see in the picture and thought it would be great for couching on this too.  The fabric at the top is a Kaffe Fassette Shot Cotton chosen for the binding.  All this has jazzed me up a bit and it would really be a load off my shoulders to finally put this one to bed.
2. Heart & Home Wool BOM. 
I had participated in Sinta's Pink Pincushion BOM Rehab when I started this.  She's closed that facility (Rehab, not her blog!) so now it's time to move this over and out through the Finish-A-Long.   I've also got another new wool project that I really hope to work on while I'm doing this one which leads me to my next entry.........
3.  I'm also inluding my Sage Sampler on the list for this quarter. 
Both the Heart & Home Sampler and the new wool piece are for display in my bedroom.  If I finish Heart & Home, it won't be hung until the Fall.  The new wool project is meant for now (and for the  spring in the future).  This old Sampler UFO was also slated for bedroom display so if I do get to finish the new wool piece this month , I'd also love to put this one to bed (pun intended) too! 
4.  Can't make a Finish-A-Long list without including a couple of  "To Be Quilted" items.  My other big priority this year is to finish working on my series of Civil War quilts. 
The Chronciles BOM top is the last of the CW flimisies I have on hand so I'm putting the quilting of it on the list for this quarter as well.  I think getting to this one will depend on how well I do early in the quarter so I'm crossing my fingers on this one.
5.  Another "To Be Quilted" to add to the list is my "Paisley Park" crumb quilt.  I'm adding this one and the next quilt just to give me some flexiblilty on what I actually get to work on.  This one is already partially quilted but needs to be finished.
6.    Again just to give me some flexibility, I'm also adding my "Colorblocks" quilt which is also partially quilted and from the "To Be Quilted" list.
So I that's it for this quarter.  There's a lot to do so let's get to work!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

On the Design Wall

The Red, White & Blue phase is not quite done yet!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Reporting In on Quarter 2 of the 2013 Finish-A-Long

It's July 1st and I need to report on my finishes for the 2nd Quarter of the Finish-A-Long which is being hosted by Leanne of the She Can Quilt blog this year.  I did about as well as last quarter -- out of the five projects listed on my original Quarter 2 planning list (see it here), I managed to get 2 out of 5 done.  I'm all for that because anything that whittles the UFO list down is a good thing!

The first thing I got done for the quarter was my "Brrr!" quilt.  The quilt design and fabric were by Minick & Simpson from way back in 2009 and I look forward to sporting it when winter rolls around again!

This finish was a two-fer in that it was also my entry for the Spring Bloggers Quilt Festival.  The Festival is hosted twice a year by Martingale author Amy Ellis at Amy's Creative Side to coincide with the big industry Quilt Markets.  I was glad to finally have a finish in time for the festival this time around.  You can read the details about the making and finishing of the quilt in my festival post here

The festival has been a wonderful part of the quilt blogging experience since 2009 and has grown phenomenally since it first started.  If you did not participate earlier this year, think about which of the projects on your Finish-A-Long list for the 3rd quarter might make a great candidate for your entry for the Fall Festival which should be in late October/early November while the Houston Quilt Market is in full swing.

My second finish is detailed in this post (so if you will be returning to Leanne's linky you can also pick the post up from there) but I'll include a quick pic of it here as well:

This one is Pat Sloan's "Valor" quilt that was designed to showcase her "Tribute" line of fabric for P&B Textiles that debuted back in 2011 (and another indication of just how long some of my UFOs have been sitting around).  I'm really happy to have gotten this done because I had always planned for it to be made to display during the Memorial Day and July 4th holidays.  So I'm happy to say it will have its first public showing later this week when I hang it off our terrace!

With the reporting all done, now it's time to make up my 3rd Quarter list!  But first I'll swing back over to Leanne's to check out what everyone else has accomplished this quarter.  And if you haven't joined in before how about coming along for the ride now?  Even one finish frees up space for some new projects or any attention given to a project moves it a little closer to completion.  It's win/win!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Catching Up On June Pt2: NewFOs and the Red, White & Blue Phase

In my last post, I showed my "Valor" UFO quilt finish.  However, that was not all that went on this month.  There was also a lot of NewFO fun going on:

On the left is the "Star Spangled" (finished) table runner, in the center is a "Quilts of Gee's Bend - Blocks and Strips" lap quilt flimsie and on the right is "Tribute", a (finished) mini quilt.  If you viewed the "Valor" quilt post, you probably recognize the fabric used for the runner and the mini -- they were both also made from Pat Sloan's "Tribute" fabric line from 2011 (which still can be found around the web as of today).

UFOs have been my primary focus this year and getting "Valor" done was part of that.  I had discovered the "Valor" kit in the Spring 2011 issue of Fabric Trends For Quilters (now Quilt Trends) magazine.  It had been designed to showcase Pat Sloan's (then) new line of fabric for P&B Textiles called "Tribute".  But also in that issue was a lap quilt called "Tribute" also designed by Pat.  I loved that it was made from the same fabrics as "Valor" as well as that it had applique on it.  Back then I had just learned how to do hand applique about six months prior so was on the lookout for projects to try my new skills on.  Having already decided to buy the "Valor" kit, I had hoped that like most kits, there might be a generous amount of fabric left from the primary project that could help jump start this one too.

"Valor" was completed as a top in 2011 but not quilted until this year.  By this time I had also purchased the Gee's Bend kit and looked forward to making it to display on my (brown) couch during the summer months between Memorial Day and July 4th.  So I didn't have a need for another patriotic colored lap quilt even though I still wanted very much to make Pat's "Tribute".  So the solution:  make it a MINI! 

The original lap quilt was designed to finish at 40"x 46".  My mini finished at a little larger than 14"x 16".  With the piece that small, I didn't do any hand applique after all (this was all fused with zigzag around the edges) but I did get to really stretch my ability to figure out just how small to go with all the design elements and still make the quilt look like the original.  I did have to change a few of the fabrics and eliminate a few design elements to make it all work but in the end, I think it's a pretty good approximation of the original.  I was particularly aided in that process by Quiltmaker Magazine editor Diane Harris' blog article on "Fabric Scale" that appeared on the Quilty Pleasures blog during the week I was working on this project.  What's even better is that I have a display space in my dining room for mini quilts so this patriotic beauty will get to be on display ALL year long!

The other new finish was a table runner called "Star Spangled".  The pattern for it appeared in a magazine:  Quiltmaker's July/August 2011 issue.  I think I had received it just around the time I was either contemplating or had already purchased the "Valor" kit.  So of course it was another case of "hey, this will be great for the kit leftovers!". 

As noted when I talked about "Valor" in the last post, I had actually purchased some more of this fabric line during a Fourth of July sale at Fabric.com.  During that sale I also picked up that Obama 2008 print.  When plans to display it somewhere else in the house were preempted, I decided to take a little of it and use it for the backing on this runner.  "Valor" will be displayed off of our terrace on July 4th and while sitting out there I can also use "Star Spangled".

And last but not least is this flimsie made from one of the "Quilts of Gee's Bend-Quilter's Collective History" Kits by Windham Fabrics.  The design is based on an original quilt by Loretta P. Bennett that was interpreted for the kit by Debby Kratovil and the fabrics are all hand dyes.

I realize that a kit is probably an ironic choice for attempting a quilt in the style of a Gee's Bend quilter since their quilts are truly improvisational and "make do" fabric-wise.  But I really chose this because I liked the colors of the quilt and haven't had an opportunity to use hand dyes before.  Oh and there's the fact that the kit was on sale and I love a good kit sale!  I've also been warming up to "modern" quilts and thought this design reminded me of the modern style.  I'm actually planning to try some of the modern quilt stitch patterns when I get around to quilting this.  It was extremely quick to make up -- definitely a "quilt in a day" because that's exactly how long it took to make! Although that time did not include pre-washing the fabrics (something I never do but highly recommended for these fabrics) and the cutting. 

I've seen another one of these kits for a good price so might buy and make another one.  I have a vow that along with UFO busting I want to complete any new projects I start this year so that I don't  add to the UFO pile I'm trying to whittle down.  But for now, this one will sit for awhile as I move back to projects already on the UFO list. 

I'll link this post to Barbara's June NewFO linky at the CatPatches blog once it's up.  Bye for now!

Catching Up On June Pt1: Another Quarter 2 Finish: Valor

I haven't blogged all month but you'll see from this and the next post that June was a busy quilting month for me.  First up:  UFO #2 for this quarter (and #4 for the year) is done!  Pat Sloan's Valor quilt is quilted and bound!

Edited to add:  The link to my original Quarter 2 Finish-A-Long List is here.

This one started back in 2011, the year we moved.  I first saw it in the Spring 2011 issue of Fabric Trends For Quilters (now Quilt Trends) magazine (when Mark Lipinski was still the Editorial Director).  I don't know what attracted me more: that it was a Pat Sloan design (of whom I'm a big fan) *OR* the Red,  White and Blue fabrics which I had been collecting because I'd been jonesing to make some Quilts Of Valor *OR* the Lemoyne stars (which gave me an excuse to invest in Deb Tucker's tool) *OR* that it came in a kit which (as always) I was suckered persuaded into believing that would mean a fast turnaround for the quilt *OR* the "dream" that I could have a new quilt to display in our house for the patriotic holidays.

Probably all of the above was enough to make me ignore unpacking boxes that year and rushing to buy the kit and few additional pieces from the "Tribute" fabric line which Pat had designed for P&B Textiles and had been newly introduced that year (and still can be found around the web).  The additional pieces that I purchased were not used in the quilt so were not included in the kit.  Unfortunately I didn't get started on it until right before the July 4th holiday that year (and in fact worked on it all during the holiday) and finally finished the top by the end of that month.  I thought it would get quilted before the next year's holiday rolled around but that was not to be so.  And this year it was on my list to be quilted in April, then got bumped up to the May schedule and yet still took until this month to complete.  But a finish, is a finish no matter how long it takes to get there!

Pat's instructions called for the Sawtooth and Lemoyne Stars to be made using triangle squares (HSTs) but I made the Sawtooth star points as Flying Geese blocks and used my favorite method for those:  Eleanor Burns rulers and what she calls the "Triangle Pieced Rectangle" method.  I call it the "Two Squares" method because that's all it takes:  two squares and sewing 1/4" on both sides of a center diagonal line twice and then you have four geese!  You can see Eleanor herself demonstrating the method here.  It should be noted that in the video Eleanor also squares up the blocks with a regular ruler but I will say that using her rulers (if you are willing to make that investment) does make the trimming go faster.

And what can I say about Deb Tucker's Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler except that "I'm a complete convert"!  I always shied away from making Lemoynes because of the diamond unit cutting and set-in seams.  With her ruler and instructions, Deb has made it possible to strip piece these.  Now I'm collecting Lemoyne quilt ideas because I want to do more, more, more with this one!  I also love and have used her Tucker Trimmer ruler and have the Hunter Star ruler but haven't tried using that one just yet (yep, I'm a gadget fanatic!).

It should be noted that using these two methods meant I wound up being a little short on the background fabrics from the kit but as always the Quilt Muses were looking out for me.  Fabric.com just happened to have a "Red, White & Blue" fabric sale the week I started on this and was carrying the fabric line at that time so I was able to do a little discounted stash enhancement to help continue the journey (as well as start some new ones as you'll see in the next post).

So very happy to be 2 for 3 for this quarter and look forward to hanging this one outside off of our terrace for the July 4th holiday!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thoughts From the Bloggers Quilt Festival

Whew!  I just finished viewing the last of the catgories for Amy Ellis' Bloggers Quilt Festival and voting for my favorites.  This is the fifth year Amy has hosted this online event which she holds twice a year in conjuction with the vendor Quilt Markets. 

Like all of the previous years, this was a great festival -- truly a chance to see what so many quilters around the world are working on.  This year Amy did it in a new format -- rather than just having one huge linky list, quilters added their projects into specific catagories like Bed Quilts, Wall Quilts, Hand Quilted, Art Quilts, ect.  This definitely made it less overwhelming to view all the entries.  

However, I also realized something while deciding what to vote for in each catagory.  Trying to choose between all the beautiful quilts I saw, I felt like I got a taste of what it must be like to be a Quilt Show Judge.  There were times when it was really, really hard to choose just one favorite.  Years ago, I listened to one of Annie Smith's podcasts where she talked about her experiences as a judge and what quilters entering contests should keep in mind about the process.  I did find all of what she said to be true as I tried to make my own selections from all the online entries.

I now really get the challenges involved when you have to try to pick a favorite from 50 or 60 quilts in a catagory.  Your first reaction will be to narrow it down by going for the visual --- choosing those quilts that most catch your eye.  You may like a lot of the quilts but there will probably be just a few that stand out visually above the rest to you.  With the online show, I found that then reading the stories behind them often influenced whether a quilt stayed in the running or not.  Maybe it was the effort the quilter had to put into getting the quilt from idea to finish or the inspiration behind the quilt or unique materials or techniques that were used (or invented) to make it.  I don't know if show judges have that information when they judge but for this festival it definitely was a factor. 

Another judging quilbble is making sure your quilt is in the right catagory.  There were a few instances in the festival where I saw quilts I liked but not for the catagory it was in.  In those instances, juding a quilt based on what the catgory is supposed to represent meant it scored lower for me than it would have if it had been placed in what I believed was a more appropriate catagory for it.  This is also something I've read is true for live judged shows.

The limitation of judging an online quilt show like this is that you can't actually see the quilt in person.  Bad pictures really work against the maker (something that I know I need to work on for my own projects).  This is also something that I've read is true when people send their quilt entries in for initial selection even before judging.

I have to say that even taking into account what I liked about some quilts it was still hard to choose just one to vote for!  So now I understand why at the quilt shows, the skill of construction of the quilt comes into play.  When faced with two quilts both equally visually beautiful, well executed, and with equally successful interpretations of design or theme, the only other factor that might distinguish the two might be how well it was made -- right down to the last stitch!  As quilters, we laugh when people tell us about judging critiques that talk about "the fullness of the binding (or lack thereof)" or being chided for "not hiding knots in the back of the quilt" or "uneven quilt stitching".  But if you're in the position where you  HAVE TO make a choice and some seemingly inconsequential issue is all that seperates one outstanding quilt from another, you're going to use it! 

This also brings to mind something else Annie said: that quilters need to remember that there is no doubt that judging does have a big subjective element to it.  Beyond the established or outlined judging criteria, a judge also brings their own preferences to the table.  So a judge that prefers hand work might boost that over an equally beautiful machine done quilt.  Or if you like intricate piecing over "liberated" or favor original works over intrepretations of published pattens those things may sway your vote towards a particular quilt.  As a quilter however, this also means that you must take judging comments and choices with a grain of salt.  You must remember that your quilt is not being judged just on its own merits, it is competing against other quilts.  Not winning or getting a ribbon DOES NOT mean your quilt is bad, it just means that when all the factors came together, someone else's quilt pushed more of the judges' buttons than yours did in this particular show.

All that said, all I can say is "thank goodness for Viewers Choice" --- although even there I could have really use more than one vote!  This is the chance for you to elevate a quilt that held a particular appeal for you towards the award platform.  We should all make it a point to take the time to fill out those Viewers Choice cards at any show we go to and give a boost to the quilts that might not "take the cake" but do "steal our hearts".

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bloggers Quilt Festival -- Spring 2013

It's been a while since I've posted so what better way to get back in the groove than to participate in the Bloggers Quilt Festival hosted by Martingale quilt author Amy Ellis of Amy's Creative Side.

Spring Blogger's Quilt Festival - AmysCreativeSide.com

 This is a wonderful biannual tradition that was pioneered by Amy and allows quilters and non-quilters alike to sample all the glorious creativity going on in the quilting world today.  This is the first time in a few years that I've had something finished in time to coincide with the festival so I'm excited to contribute again.

The project I'm offering up is my Brrr! quilt in the Throw Quilt category.  Finishing at 65" x 88" it's large for a throw but too small to consider it a true bed quilt for my queen bed even though that's where I plan to display it during the winter months.

I'm happy to say that this one was a UFO that had been sitting around since 2009 awaiting quilting but is now finally done!  The pattern is "Brrr Park" by Minick & Simpson and made from their Moda fabric line "Winter" from a kit purchased in 2008 from Keepsake Quilting.  The backing, a lovely flannel (one of my favorite kinds of fabric) was also purchased from Keepsake.  I thought the theme of it was the perfect complement to the patten design.

I didn't make this right after purchasing it for one reason:  all those Half Square Triangle Squares (known in the quilt world as HSTs)!  I was put off by the prospect of making so many HSTs (there are 40 in each tree and another 166 around the first border).  The thing that jumpstarted the project for me at the time was Quilt-Pro coming out with their Print & Sew: Triangle Magic software.  This allows you to print out a sheet of paper (letter or legal, your choice) with HST sewing and cutting lines on it for the finished size HST you need.  Then you layer your fabrics right sides together, sew on the sewing lines, cut on the cutting lines and voila you have anywhere from 4 - 48 HSTs (again depending on the finished size needed) done in no time!
These were not from this project but you get the idea!

Brenda Henning also makes a similar program called Trianglulations that will do the same thing.  I highly recommend them if you have a project that calls for making gobs of HSTs (and any of you still waiting to start your Civil War Chronicles BOM will know what I mean!)

Once the top was made and promptly layered, this quilt sat around waiting for quilting.  I've spent the last few years trying to build up my machine quilting confidence.  Every machine quilting expert says that you have to put in the time on the machine to get better at it and they are absolutely right.  Every project I do shows some improvement in my stitching and (to use Carla Barrett's term), "quilt whispering" (deciding what to stitch where).  I particularly had a lot of fun with that on this quilt as I did a lot of different motifs:


Free-form interpretive on the Trees



and even a little straight-line with a walking foot

As I often do with quilts that will be displayed on the bed, I also stitched up some coordinating accessories to go with it.

The print pillowcases and the neckroll cover were made from fabric from Moda's "Figgy Pudding" line by Basic Grey from a few years ago.  Now I just have to wait for Winter to return (but there's no rush there I assure you)!

So thanks for stopping by and please continue on your tour of all the fabulous projects being presented in the Bloggers Quilt Festival.  Postings will be added through Friday 5/24.  Then you can vote on your favorites in each category from 5/27 - 5/30 and the winners will be announced on 5/31!  Enjoy the rest of the show!!