Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Let it Snow!

Although a white Christmas is highly unlikely this year - it's been near 50 F this week - I have been seeing a lot of snowflakes lately.  My friend Katie taught an applique snowflake mini-workshop at our TAS chapter meeting this month.  We had a great time creating the "perfect" snowflake from paper.  I was having so much fun cutting that I made several.  It was tough to decide which to applique first! I decided to start with this one:

We discussed several options for lining the snowflakes.  Kate used another piece of white fabric to line hers. I decided to try one of those fusible leave-in materials to line this one. I cut the snowflake pattern from the fusible, ironed it onto the snowflake fabric, and needle-turned the fabric over the fusible.  I am not thrilled with the edges.  It seemed more difficult to hide stitches with the fusible inside, particularly in all of the inside "Vs".  I am thinking about adding a line of embroidery around the edges to "crisp" it up a little. 

Here are a couple more flakes I cut from paper - maybe I will start on one of these next.  I think the one on the left would have to be reverse applique....

I'm looking forward to having some time to sew over the holidays.  I've been traveling the past two weeks and haven't had much time to sew.  I did have a chance to visit the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree again this year. 

Time to get to work - only three more days until vacation!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

So Many Great Things in the Works!

So many of the organized creative folks out in blog land are making plans for great activities in 2012!  I mentioned signing up for "Take a Stitch Tuesday" in my last post. Then I signed up for the Free Motion Quilting Challenge (see the button to the right). I really want to learn free motion quilting and figure a monthly challenge might just inspire me to practice a bit. Now, as a result of signing up for TAST, I have stumbled across a crazy quilt block challenge that I am oh-so-tempted to sign up for. What better way to practice those TAST stitches, right?  I haven't bit the bullet yet, but I have added the blog to my favorites and will think on it a bit longer - who knows what I might come across in the next couple of weeks! The internet is awesome, isn't it?!?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Last Day

I managed to spend a little bit of my last day of the holiday break in the sewing room. I almost finished another NYB block but when I went to square it up I managed to cut one side 1/4" short so I will have to replace the background piece. I really wanted to fix it right away but the family was starting to make noise about needing dinner so I had to leave it for another time/

I did finish my second Stars and Sprigs block, however:

I love the colors in these blocks, although I can't say that all of the Kaffe fabrics are the best for applique.  They aren't bad, but some are more loosely woven than I prefer to work with. I realized when I was prepping this block that I need two of each, so I saved the freezer paper from this one and will make it again in different colors next.

Not that I need more to do, but I read about a new free online learning opportunity for next year that I couldn't resist signing up for.  It's called "Take a Stitch Tuesday" or TAST.  I've had Sharon B's online stitch directory saved to my favorites for a very long time - she is an embroidery master.  I need to work on my embroidery skills and am looking forward to playing along.  The link to sign up is http://www.pintangle.com/journal/2011/11/26/the-big-list-of-2012-tast-challengers.html.  There are loads of people participating.  I can't wait to get started!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Few Days Off

A few days off over the holidays has meant a little extra time in the sewing room. I probably should have used the time more effectively - picked a project and spent all my sewing time making progress on it - but where's the fun in that? So instead I spent the time on lots of different things and made little bits of progress on all of them.  I started my second block for Stars and Sprigs (still in progress) and stitched the first applique block for my Farmhouse quilt.

I also started the new Dear Jane I have been planning ever since seeing the photo of the one done in Kaffe fabrics...

I started with applique blocks, of course.  There aren't nearly as many as I remember - so many pieced blocks!  I would love to hand piece them but probably should stick with paper piecing so that I actually get at least a few of them done.

I also had a blast digging out an old project I started back when I first began quilting. I have always loved New York Beauty quilts, especially the bright ones.  I started a NYB quilt in a class at The Quilted Fox. I don't think I had much fabric at the time (boy, how that has changed!) so I purchased all kinds of brights to use for this project. I was shocked at how much fabric I found in those boxes!  My original thought was to sort it into my stash, but there is clearly not enough room in my drawers to accomodate it all.  I'll have to deal with what to do with it all later... In the meantime, I decided to get back to working on the quilt.  It took me a little while to get back into the swing of the paper piecing and curves, but I managed to knock out one block on Thanksgiving.

I now have 13 of the 30 the pattern calls for - still lots of work to do there, too. 

Other projects I worked on this week include my Runaway quilt (stitching binding) and the Ha Ha Tonka rug. I am the poster child for quilter's ADD!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Thank goodness it's FINISHED, that is!  I finally finished my Crazy Horse rug.  I bound it while watching several World Series games and put the last stitches in the binding tape in the last inning of game seven.  I won't let anyone look at those stitches up close - I was a bit too wound up to actually sew a decent stitch!

I really like the finished rug, and I am thrilled to be able to move on to something new. Now I just have to decide which UFO I want to finish next!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Projects

My quilter's ADD has taken over once again and I have started a couple of new projects.  I am so excited that I finally have my first Stars & Sprigs block done!  There are many, many still to make - I think 48 applique and 49 pieced blocks and a very busy appliqued border, but it's great to finally start it after collecting fabrics for over a year!  I picked up a lot of the fabrics at Houston last year.

I've also made a start on my house blocks.  They don't photograph all that well, but I really like how they are turning out so far.  There are only 12 of these blocks, but plenty of applique to add once the quilt is pieced.

I plan to spend a lot of time in the sewing room this weekend. My goal is to get the binding on my Runaway Mystery quilt, prep another Stars & Sprigs block, and piece the rest of my houses. We'll see how it goes!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Calhoun County Quilt Tour

I've heard about the Calhoun County Quilt Tour for a number of years but until last Friday have never had a chance to check it out.  The weather was beautiful and the leaves are slowly getting their fall colors - it was a perfect day for a drive! The tour consists of quilt displays with vendors at four churches in four different towns. There are 38 "barn" quilts in the county, many of which we were able to view along our route. Quite a few of the "barns" are really business buildings, and sadly many of the actual barns are in pretty sad shape and not that great for pitcures, but they were fun to look for just the same.  We found it particularly interesting that a couple of the antique quilts on display had been used as the source for the owner's barn quilt blocks. How cool is that?!?

This barn quilt was hanging on the side of a country produce market.  The painting was incredible - it actually looked like printed fabrics!

The quilts, a combination of old and new, were displayed draped over the pews at each of the churches.

There were some very unique antique quilts. I've never seen anything like the grape quilt below.  I think it was 60+ years old.

The last church we visited (below) is now privately owned.  Over half of the quilts displayed in the church were made by the church's owner.  Her work was beautiful and there was certainly a lot of it! We didn't get a chance to meet her but did get to see her current project - a beautiful applique quilt she is hand quilting.

I really loved this antique hexagon quilt. I've been wanting to start a hand-piecing project for a while now. 

I think a hexagon quilt would be tons of fun - and I know I've got a bunch of those die-cut hexagons around here somewhere!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

If Only...

I had BIG plans for hooking down at the lake this weekend. I'm not entirely sure that I was being realistic, but I really thought that I could spend all day Saturday hooking and might come close to finishing the Crazy Horse rug.  I am still working on the borders - I decided to finish those before trying to figure out what to do with the motifs.  Anyway, I pulled out my rug and frame on Friday night and was all ready to get started when I realized that my hook and wool were still in the closet at home.  It's really tough to make progress without wool!  Here's where I am at as of last night:


I have a couple of nights' work left to do on the last side border and then need to figure out the corners before moving back to the flowers. It's hard to see in the photo, but I am thinking about the medium blue for the corners. I'm not sure that I am loving it, though.  I may need to do something different...

Monday, September 19, 2011

More on the Baltimore

As I mentioned in my previous post, there were quite a few unusual techniques used in the Baltimore Album quilt we viewed at the IQSC.  A couple of them were included in this block:

They are easier to see in the close-up below.  First, there is some sort of crocheted edge around the monument.  I believe it is emboidered directly on the quilt rather than couched, but it was difficult to tell.  The second thing we thought was interesting in this block was the piece of fabric with the spiral on it (I'm not sure exactly what to call it!).  It looked like the maker created this fabric herself, either by dyeing using a resist or bleaching in some manner.  I don't know too much about quilt history, but I don't think either technique was all that common in the mid-1800s.

There were also several blocks with flowers that were created from a single stuffed piece of fabric with embroidery used to form petals.  Here's one:

Notice also how the maker embroidered around the flowers and leaves.  Here's another example:

It was such a beautiful quilt!  I am looking forward to reproducing a couple of the blocks one of these days...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Baltimore on the Prairie

I just returned from a wonderful few days in Nebraska attending the Baltimore on the Prairie applique conference.  The adventure began with a trip to the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln where we were treated to a close-up look at one of the Baltimore album quilts in the museum's collection. 

The curator told us that the quilt is believed to have been made for a Major Ringgold based on an inscription on one of the monuments in the quilt, and is dated 1847.  The quilt was obviously the work of several different people and includes several different names inked on various blocks. Apparently there is a large gap in provenance - very little is known about the quilt prior to the museum's acquisition.

There were some interesting and unusual tecniques used in some of the blocks.  A few were embroidered with very heavy threads, and there were some really unique dimensional flowers. Some were just simple but bold patterns - I particularly liked this block:

After our visit with the curator, we toured the museum's exhibits, which included some of the most interesting and intricate geometric designs I have ever seen!  There was one quilt that was a mosaic of a horse and rider that was composed of tiny squares - probably about 1/2" finished - and was nearly bed-sized!  I can't even imagine how the maker was able to get all of those pieces into their proper places!

After we left the museum, we visited Baker's Candies, an outlet store full of tasty chocolate meltaways in lots of different flavors.  We filled up on free samples (yum!) and purchased plenty of chocolaty souvenirs.  The milk chocolate mints were my favorite...

We stopped at The Quilted Moose on our way back to the lodge.  I found quite a few really nice batik FQs that I had to add to my collection.  I was so excited about shopping that I forgot to get a picture!

One of my favorite things about the conference venue is the wildlife.  We saw deer a couple of times during the week, and enjoyed watching a steady stream of hummingbirds at the feeders throughout our visit. I really loved seeing the turkeys at the seed feeders - they make a mess and waste a lot of food, but they are fun to watch!

My teacher for the conference class was Rita Verroca.  She was fantastic!  I will post more detail about the class and my project later.  One of the interesting ideas Rita shared with us was to laminate paper patterns to create templates. The laminated patterns are great for tracing around, and we experimented with the iron and found that they would hold up to the starch method for those that like a prepped edge.

I was particularly imnpressed by Rita's demonstration of inking. I don't know that I would ever be able to work up the nerve to use a permanent marker on my finished applique, but I loved the effect:    

Hmmm...writing about Baker's makes me hungry for chocolate! I think it's time for a snack!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Strip Exchanges

I am completely in love with Edyta Sitar's latest book, "Friendship Strips and Scraps".

The first quilt I fell for was the spools.  A few of my guild friends were also hooked, so we organized a strip exchange.  We're each cutting 40 1" strips and will mix them all up and return them to participants in November.

When we were up at Kinderhook a few weeks back, we saw another quilt from this book at The Hickory Stick in Hannibal, MO.  Of course we decided we needed to do that one, too...

We have a group of 13 people that are going to exchange smaller strips for this one.  We are combining batiks and prints for this exhange.  The quilt in the photo has Civil War reproductions, batiks, and miscellaneous other fabrics and is absolutely gorgeous.  We're going to trade these strips a bit sooner.  I can't wait to get started on this project!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New & Old

I was lucky to have the opportunity to spend a few hours here and there sewing at a friend's house last week.  Although I wasn't able to devote a lot of time to "retreating", I did make a bit of progress on a couple of blocks.  I tried my hand at back-basting on one of the Applique Affair blocks:

While I am happy with how the block turned out, I have pretty much convinced myself that back-basting is not for me!  It took far longer to trace the pattern onto the back of the fabric and baste everything than it would have to just trace freeer paper templates and trace the patterns onto my fabric.  And I didn't find that I could follow the thread holes (I had to "connect the dots" with a pencil), and I also didn't find that the fabric turned any better.  I'm glad that I gave it a serious try, but I think I will go back to my old way.

I also had a chance to finish up block one and prep block two of this year's BOW. It's a lot more involved than the little blocks were last year, but I am very happy with how it is turning out:

I also had a chance to spend time in the sewing room over the weekend, and even hooked with a friend on Saturday night.  More on that progress later...

Monday, August 15, 2011

State Fair

I actually got my act together in time to ship rugs to the Illinois State Fair this year! It is really a shame that more people don't participate. There weren't many hooked items this year. My rugs took 2nd and 3rd. First place went to a very nice fine-shaded rooster. We went up to the fair on Friday. It's been at least two years since we've attended.  We had a great time! 

It was difficult to get a good picture through the glass...

Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed that they both make it home safely!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Jury's Still Out

I finally had a chance to break out my new "toy" - the AccuQuilt Go! cutter I purchased in Paducah this year.  Luckily the die that came with the cuttter is exactly what I needed for the project I hope to start at a retreat later this week, so I set up the cutter, read the instructions, and gathered up my fabric. I couldn't wait to give it a try! 

I started by pre-cutting my fabrics - the die I am using has multiple shapes on it and not all will be cut from the same fabric.  The instructions recommend that you cut the fabric about an inch larger than the shape.  That bugged me a bit from the start - seems like a lot of waste - but I figured I would try it that way first before trying to cut back a little on the excess.  I loaded up the die with two layers of fabric (it says you can do up to six, but I thought I should start off with less) and ran it through.  Hmmm.  I had to use my scissors to cut the pieces loose in several spots.  I then repeated the exercise with various numbers of layers, from one to six, and had about the same results for each.  Perhaps it is the fabric I am using (Kaffe Fasset), but so far I can't say that I am exactly thrilled with the cutter's performance.  I suppose the real test will come in the sewing - if the precision of the pieces makes accurate sewing easier, maybe it's worth it. So far, however, I am thinking that it would be easier and less wasteful to just cut the pieces the "old-fashioned" way!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


It's been a while since I posted...  I have been crazy busy lately!  Not much time for sewing or hooking, with the exception of this past weekend when I had a wonderful opportunity to retreat at a friend's house.  I started on a new project, so a lot of my time was spent cutting, but I did manage to get 18 of the 100 blocks completed.  I forgot to take a picture, but here's one of the quilt from the Thangles site:

I purchased the pattern and fabric the first year it was displayed at Paducah.  I found the receipt for the fabric in the bag - it was 2006.  I've been wanting to start it for a long time, so it was really fun to finally get it going.

Starting this quilt was actually part of a two-year plan - a plan that involves having at least four quilts ready by the time of our guild's next quilt show (June 2013).  We just finished with this year's show and sadly I had absolutely nothing to show for the past two years!  We usually allow each member to have up to four quilts in the show, and I am determined to have four of my own in next time.  Never mind that I have never had more than one in the past...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Down to the Wire!

I finished piecing my Lisa's Garden quilt yesterday, just two days before the 2011 BOW is due to ship.  I am so excited that I was actually able to "finish" my 2010 project before the new one started!  I realize it isn't really finished - quilting is always the toughest part for me - but I have so little time to actually sit at a machine these days that I have to celebrate every milestone!  Now I just have to get the quilting and binding done in time for this one to be in the 2013 show!

I have also been making some progress on my Crazy Horse rug.  I took a picture last week but never had time to post, so here it is as of this morning:

I am hooking this one a bit backwards - background first - but I have had such a problem with having to pull out parts of my motifs because of conflicts with backgound that I have decided I will get all of the background done and then go back and figure out my motif colors.  

I'll be spending another day in the sewing room.  I'm not sure what I will work on next.  I have at least 20 things I can't wait to get back to!  I may just have to break out the AccuQuilt today - it's still in the shopping bag from Paducah.  I was thrilled to find that the standard dies that come with the cutter are the size that I need for the stars in the "Stars & Sprigs" pattern.  I can't wait to give it a try!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Sewing

What a nice weekend!  Lots of sunshine (a little too warm for May, but given that it was the first non-rainy weekend in recent memory, I'm not going to complain!) combined with a fairly short list of things on the "to do" list made for a relaxing couple of days.  I spent the entire afternoon in the sewing room yesterday and managed to finish up all of the nine patches for my Lisa's Garden quilt.  I still have 8 blocks left to applique and then need to come up with the setting.  I am definitely doing it different from the instructions, but can't decide if I want to include the squares around the border or not.  Decisions, decisions!

I also spent a little time hooking over the weekend and made a little more progress on my Crazy Horse project. 

I pulled out the red in the first flower and finished filling in the second one.  I'm not sure what direction I am going to go with the petals on the first one.  It really seems to defy traditional logic to hook the background before the motifs, but I feel like I need to have the background colors in place in order to make decisions on the flower colors.  I plan to continue working on the background for a while before filling in any other motifs.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Paducah and Susan Quicksall

Last week was full of fun and excitement!  The week started with a trip to the AQS Show in Paducah, KY.  The show was quite a bit different from previous years due to flooding.  AQS did an outstanding job of last-minute logistics in order to pull everything off.  I was amazed at how smoothly everything went!  I thought parking would be a nightmare, but other than the crowds being a little thicker than usual in some of the vendor locations, I think it went rather well.  It seems like it took a lot less time to see everything than usual.

I returned home from Paducah a day early after giving up my room to some friends whose hotel had closed due to flooding.  It worked out well for me in spite of the fact that I missed a chance to have a second dinner at Flamingo Row and instead ended up with Hamburger Helper since I needed to be at Nola's Friday afternoon for my workshop with Susan Quicksall.

The workshop was wonderful! Susan is such an incredible artist. Her patterns are gorgeous, and sitting in her class you are tempted to buy one of each...if only I had time to do them all!  Below is a sneak peek at the rug she is currently working on.  It's amazing!

I ended up pulling out a rug I started in class with her the last time she was here (five years ago - yikes!) and was very happy I did.  It became obvious as I went through the materials I had packed away with that project that I must have left that workshop without much of a plan.  I was able to really focus on the color planning this time aroung and have a good idea where I am headed now. 

That being said, I was having trouble following the color map on Saturday night and ended up making a mistake.  The dark teal behind the red-orange flower is suposed to be red.  I pulled it out last night and replaced it with the correct color, but now the flower looks like it needs to be a different color even though it is outlined.  I will probably pull out the petals and make them some type of blue.  I think it will work better with the other flower in the long run.  It started out as gold and ended up red, and I hate having two red flowers so close together.  I'm setting aside my Antique Floral for a while to focus on this one - I would like to finish it up as quick as possible while I am in the groove. We'll see how fast it goes!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rug Camp (Catching Up)

I never got around to posting pictures from rug camp, so it's time to play a little "catch up". Our camp teacher this year was Wendy Miller of The Red Saltbox.  The class was wonderful!  Wendy's colors were awesome. Here's a small sampling of what she brought (and this was taken after the table had been heavily picked over by all of us!):

I didn't get a lot of pics of people working on their rugs this year, but did manage to take a few at show & tell.  Here are a few of the finished rugs, beginning with Imogene's Christmas Sleigh:

Angie did an incredible job creating dimension with lights and darks - she did this rug using only overdyed worms:

Barb H. did a beautiful job on her rug:

And I absolutely love Barb A's chickens:

Rachel's rugs are always beautiful and always original designs.  I love her color pallete!

Now back to the present...I did manage to finish one thing on my "to do" list this weekend.  This block is part of a special top-secret project, so I can't say too much about it now...  I found the pattern in a book of blocks published by Quiltmania.

I was a little too ambitious with the embroidery - thankfully it doesn't show up all that well in the photo. I absolutely HATE writing on quilt blocks, so I thought I would give embroidery a shot. While I have gotten better at the fancy stitches from my crazy quilt classes, I am definitely a novice when it comes to stitchng letters!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Antique Floral Progress - Week 3

Work continues to get in the way of my artistic endeavors, so I haven't made a tremendous amount of progress on anything lately.  With the quilt show looming less than two months away, I think it is safe to assume I will not have anything to enter.  I haven't had time to work on the one little quilt I thought I might be able to complete due to other commitments.  I am currently spending my applique time working on a block for a friend, and as soon as that is finished I need to knock out another cake basket for the AQOMV quilt.  I am wondering why I got myself into that one!

I have spent some time on my Antique Floral rug.  Not a huge amount, but I can at least see a little progress since the photo two weeks ago.  I have a horrible tendency to pack when I use monk's cloth, though - it's tough to get it to lay flat enough for a picture!

I finally remembered to take a picture of the building across the street from my office in New York.  I have been fascinated by the facade ever since I first saw it.  It is barely noticeable from the street level, but we have a very good view from our third floor windows.  I would love to make this design into a brightly-colored rug:

Time to get back to that applique - I don't want to be the last one finished!