Saturday, February 28, 2009

What a difference a blade makes!

All the half-square triangles for Christmas Pickle have to be trimmed to size before joining them into pinwheel blocks. I was trimming away on my rotary mat when it dawned on me that I probably needed to change my blade as I could not clearly recall when I changed it last. What a difference! Now the trimming is so much easier.

Some time ago, one of my quilting friends bought a large quantity of Olfa blades on eBay at a sizeable discount from the usual retail price. She passed on a few packages to me at her cost and I vowed to be better about changing the blade frequently. Given how many unused blades I still have on hand, I have not followed through as I intended. I will have to do better – it makes cutting so much easier and I have heard is safer too because the blade is less likely to slip.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quest for a new sewing machine

Yesterday, I read Perry’s post about her new sewing machine and it got me thinking. I mentioned previously that I am still sewing on the machine I bought in 1974. I think I have gotten my money’s worth out of it! I was always happy with it and did not see the need to spend upwards of $1,000 for a new one when it did everything I needed it to do. At least, I was content until last June. While at the annual show put on by the State Quilt Guild of New Jersey, I tried a Bernina designed for quilters. Big mistake ‘cause now I want one! I was seriously considering buying one towards the end of the year but put it out of my mind after the big stock market meltdown. But I’m warming up to the idea again. Fortunately, my husband supports the idea. In fact, he said I should get a new machine given how much time I spend using it.

Next week, I’m going to the Quilt Fest of New Jersey show. They always have some sewing machine vendors there and I plan on giving them all a try-out.

So, I’m seriously considering making a big purchase and would appreciate any tips you have on choosing a sewing machine. What do you sew on? Do you recommend it?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

WIP...and a distraction

I am making progress on my Christmas Pickle quilt but I think this one will take a long time to complete. I finished all the paper pieced arcs over the weekend and am working pretty steadily on the pinwheels (there are 120 pinwheel blocks - 120!).

I would have made more progress except I was distracted. By this book. The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton.

It is a multi-generational family saga, with a family secret, a mystery of sorts, at the center. A very good read. Kate Morton is an Australian, new-to-me author. I hope she is writing more.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My history as a quilter

I came to quilting from sewing and clothing construction. My mother did not sew and was not crafty but when I was in 7th grade, girls were required to take Home Ec – sewing and cooking. I loved the sewing (the cooking, not so much) and by the end of 9th grade had saved my babysitting income to buy a sewing machine, a Sears Kenmore that cost $250. I still sew on that machine. Sewing the occasional skirt, top, or blouse was my creative outlet for several years. But when I entered the world of Real Work after getting my MBA degree, I didn’t have much time for sewing. Plus, I needed tailored clothes for work (it was the 80’s; think Dress For Success). Still, I loved fabric so I took an Introduction to Quilting class. It was hand-piecing, using cardboard templates and scissors to cut the fabric. Enjoyable, but it took me several months to make two 16” blocks that I turned into throw pillows for my apartment living room couch. I started a set of placemats then realized that given the amount of time invested in them I could never let then anywhere near food. I put the supplies away and was diverted by other activities.

Fast forward a few years to early 1992. I happened to be in the vicinity of the local quilt shop so dropped in to look. They were promoting something called quilt-in-a-day class. Sounded impossible but I asked about it. Rotary cutting, strip piecing, machine sewing – wow, this was a whole new kind of quilting. I took the class and was hooked. The class used Eleanor Burns’ log cabin book. When my nephew Nicholas was born in December, 1992, I gave him that first quilt. Nick is now a very grown-up 16 but still has that log cabin baby quilt, though in a rather shredded state. I continued quilting, making the occasional project, including quilts for my daughter, born in 1995. When we moved to our current house in 1997, I was able to have a room devoted to quilting (well, the studio doubles as a guest room but we don’t have overnight guests very frequently), with a closet for stash. I usually have several projects going, in various stages of completion.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I found my next project

What did I do to waste time before the internet? My husband is at school grading term papers, my daughter is at a friend’s house studying for a math test (right, on a Saturday afternoon – I suspect there is very little studying and much else going on) and I am doing the laundry, amusing myself with blogs and quilting websites while waiting for each wash cycle. But I found my next project – the Sugar Cookies table runner at Moda Bakeshop. I like the fabrics used but I think it would also be great using one of the holiday collections. I may go for something Halloween with black in place in the white triangles and an orange border.

The Sugar Cookies runner was designed by Margot of The Pattern Basket. I made a quilt using her Vintage Rose pattern; I'll show it to you soon.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Aerobic Quilting and Podcasts

I’ve acquired Middle Age Metabolism and if I don’t get to the gym at least four times a week, shopping for clothes will cease to be fun. So I dutifully head over to use the elliptical trainer and treadmill. To make it endurable, I take a book (elliptical trainer) and iPod (treadmill). And whenever I can, I listen to quilting podcasts. Annie Smith of Quilting Stash…the first podcast for quilters, is my favorite.

Annie interviews famous quilters, reviews books, talks about techniques and tools, goes to shows I can’t get to (like Houston) and covers it all in a very conversational manner. It’s like meeting a friend for lunch or a cup of coffee, only she does all the talking and I never get a word in edgewise. And while listening, I put a few more miles on the treadmill practically without noticing and can eat more than lettuce for the remainder of the day.

Annie recently spent a week driving from her home in California to her son Ryan’s new home in North Carolina. She visited quilt shops along the way and spend the night with quilty friends, podcasting every evening. Now I know that, should I ever be in the vicinity, the Visitor’s Center in Mississippi is worth a stop. You can find Annie on iTunes (free) and on her site at Check her out and try some aerobic quilting.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Currently appearing in my bedroom

Over the course of my quilting career, I’ve made several quilts to fit our queen size bed. A couple of my earlier efforts are semi-retired. I keep them for sentimental reasons as they are part of my journey but they no longer meet my standards as my skill has evolved. But I rotate the others between the bed and storage. Currently appearing is this quilt.

I made it following the directions for Hidden Meadows in Floral Bouquet Quilts from In The Beginning by Sharon Evans Yenter, but I made more blocks until big enough for a queen size mattress. The directions in the book call it a “mélange of floral blocks” and that about describes it. It is an excellent stash project because you can mix so many coordinating fabrics, kind of like a Yellow Brick Road though this is more blended.

Floral Bouquet Quilts is an excellent book. I see it is out-of-print but lists some used copies here. The book includes quilts in both the blended and regular styles; I’ve made several.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My current quilting project

My current project – my primary project – is Christmas Pickle from Home for the Holidays by Lynda Milligan and Nancy Smith. I think this book is out-of-print but a separate pattern for Christmas Pickle is available – you can see it here.

I’ve made several quilts from the book and had been meaning to make this one for some time. My LQS was offering a class, which I saw as the perfect inducement to get the quilt made as well as a way to pick up some new skills. This quilt has curved piecing and paper piecing. I’ve done both before but was never formally taught. The class was about four weeks ago and was great for tips and techniques but we barely got a start on the quilt top, despite the class being six hours long. This quilt is very time consuming, but I am enjoying it. I have the entire thing cut out now so it is a matter of sticking with it. I work on the pinwheel blocks (there are 120 of them!) in spare moments and am piecing the arcs when I have longer blocks of time.

Something else really satisfying about this project – I am making it entirely from stash! So far, I haven’t bought any fabric specifically for it though will probably have to purchase fabric for the back.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

In which I am a blogger

Welcome to my new blog!

For about the past 15 months, I have entertained myself in spare moments by reading blogs about quilting. I’ve found so much inspiration! Finally, I decided to start my own blog. Yes, there are a lot of quilting blogs already but I think I have something to say…and maybe someone will listen.

Quilting is my primary hobby but I am also a reader and enjoy home decorating, fashion, and style. Most of my time is spent at the-job-that-pays-the-bills or taking care of my family but I always have a few quilting projects in progress and try to fit in few hours a week. I will try to keep the content of this blog to musings on my creative journey as a quilter, but don’t be surprised if there is the occasional off-subject post.

I’m currently finishing up an enormous Christmasy quilt (binding and label) and piecing “Christmas Pickle.” And I have several other projects in various stages, from ideas in my head, to fabric in bags or boxes, patterns chosen. I bet you have lots of the same. I’ll be sharing these with you in the coming weeks.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you again!