Saturday, November 28, 2009

Currently Appearing In My Bedroom

I did my first round of Christmas decorating today and got out the Christmas quilt that goes on our bed for the month of December. Yes, a few days early, but I was changing the sheets this morning so it seemed like a good time to change the quilt over too. And we have such a short time to use our Christmas quilts.

This is one of my early quilts, made about 10 years ago using directions that appeared in an issue of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine. They might have the directions on their website. It is fairly easy but does require a large stash to get the scrappy look.

Back in those days, I hand quilted just about every quilt I made (reserved for small quilts like wallhangings now). You can bearly see the stitching in this close-up.

Last year, I made another bed-size Christmas quilt so it may be rotated into use later in the month.

Friday, November 27, 2009

144 Blocks - Finished!

No 5 am doorbusters for me today! Oh no, I stayed home, at work in my studio, and finished all the blocks for my scrappy strip-pieced quilt. But my work is not done; I still have to sew them together into the quilt top.

An explanation for those who are not US residents - Yesterday was Thanksgiving here, an national holiday. It is on the fourth Thursday in November, and many people have Friday off work as well. As a result, Friday has become a big shopping day, as people get a start - or even finish - their Christmas season shopping. About ten years ago, some retailers began opening very early on the Friday after Thanksgiving, to lengthen the selling day. They also believed that shoppers spend the most at the first store they patronize. To help lure shoppers in early, they advertised outstanding bargains available only to early shoppers - things like televisions at 50% or more off the usual price. The bargains are referred to as "doorbusters" and the practice has escalated over the years. Often, the bargains are available in limited quantity, prompting shoppers to line up in the wee hours in order to be one of the first in the store. I love a bargain but this practice is not for me.

I did a little online shopping this morning - can't be too specific, you never know who is reading this - but Apple had some items discounted online.

Must get back to work. There is lots more to be done in the studio!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks

This fantastic magazine arrived in the mail!

Don't be fooled by the fuzzy photo! The magazine itself is perfectly clear! And perfectly wonderful! It has instructions for making 100 different quilt blocks, each block designed by one of today's top quilt designers. All the famous ones, and so many that are new to me. It holds loads of quilting inspiration. I can't tell you how many ideas I've come up with while browsing through; too many to actually make, thats for sure. Look for it at your local quilt shop or newstand because it is well worth the $5.99 price.

And I didn't even have to pay for my copy. I won it in the blogging designers' giveaway, on Kay Mackenzie's blog, Thanks Kay, and thanks Quiltmaker, for coming out with this wonderful resource for quilters.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

You've Got Mail!

"You've got mail," said Mr. Main Street on Saturday morning, as he carried in a large package from our front porch. It was the order I placed at Hancock's of Paducah last week. Inside was the color card I ordered, showing all the colors and shades of Kona Cotton.

There are so many colors! It is pretty cool to look at. When I need a solid, I'll know exactly which one to order. I have a quilt in the planning stages that rquires solids in two different colors to tie all the prints together.

Also inside:

A whole bolt of Kona Cotton in white. A year ago, I would have thought this was the ultimate in BORING! But I've been seeing a lot of quilts on blogs that use white as sashing or accents in a scrappy quilt and they have inspired me to try something similar. I have a few uses for this in mind and it is so reasonable ($3.60 per yard) when you order 15 yards or more.

Friday, November 20, 2009


On Monday, I thought this was going to be an easy week, with lots of time to devote to new quilting projects. I was so wrong! Events on both the work and home fronts conspired against any quilting. But my only obligation this weekend is to drive Miss Main Street and her gang of gal pals to the theater to see New Moon. So I anticipate spending many hours at the Bernina.

And I'll probably take a break to read this.

That's the October edition of Australian Homespun (No. 77, Vol. 10, No. 10). I took a quick glance through when it arrived yesterday and am intrigued by a project that uses many scrappy half square triangles.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pretty Reds All In A Row

I just washed and ironed all the red fabrics that are going into my next quilting project. I skip this step whenever possible but had a few reds in a scrappy Christmas quilt run on me a few years ago and learnt my lesson. (Fortunately, most of the red that ran washed out in the next wash and you have to look very close to see any problem now, but still, I don't want to go through that again.) And I was reminded to pre-wash a few days ago in a post from Nicole of Sister's Choice.

That crumpled up white thing on top of the red fabric is a Woolite Dye Magnet. Nicole uses a product called Color Catchers, which works similarly. These products attract and hold any dye that runs out of the fabric in the wash water, preventing pink or red smudges in areas that shouldn't be pink and giving you a good idea of how much dye ran when you washed the fabric. In this case, it was hardly anything. There are just a few pinkish smudges on the dye magnet sheet. So I should not have any problems when I wash the finished quilt.

I'm thinking I should wash the rest of the fabric I am using in this project. Not for color fastness but for shrinkage. So it is uniform. Oh boy, more ironing!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Start Of A New Quilt

The pile of fabric you see here is the start of a new project. I got this idea and I'm so preoccupied with it that I can't work on anything else. So the strip/string quilt is being pushed aside for a time while I focus on this brainstorm. Oh, I'll go back to it but I have to get this one out of my head and down on fabric before I forget what I meant to do.

Has this ever happened to you? At least I'm using up stash!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Need To Make A Christmas Gift, Part 2 - Aprons

Over the past couple of weeks, I sewed up two aprons. They are to be part of gift baskets for a silent auction at my sorority's Founders' Day celebration, but aprons make good holiday gifts too. Think Christmas or novelty fabrics. I recently saw some licensed Girl Scout fabric with Thin Mint cookies that would make a great apron for a troop leader.

First is this bib-style apron, trimmed with wide ric rac. I used a pattern called Flirty Skirty by Threaded Pear, but it seems to be out-of-print.

This half apron was very easy. The top of the pocket and the outer edges are bound like a quilt.

The pattern came from this book, A Is For Apron, which has lots of great aprons to make. The only hitch is that the pattern pieces are printed in miniature and you have to enlarge them.

Thank you, Miss Main Street, for modeling!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In The Studio

I spent many hours sewing this weekend in my studio (my husband calls it the sweatshop), working on my strip pieced blocks. There is a quite a mess to show for it!

I had the strips very carefully separated by width into small bags, but along the way, they got quite mixed up. That's okay; the idea is to take a strip and sew it on without worrying too much about your choice. I moved the bags from the sewing table to the floor at my feet so I can reach down and grab a strip as I need it. Seems to work rather well, as long as I don't get concerned about the mess on the floor. We don't have cats and Reggie, the corgi, rarely comes in here.

Here's a pile of completed blocks. 60 down, 84 to go!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mail Call - Blended Borders Book

A box from Amazon arrived in the mail on Friday, with this book inside:

I find the technique, a variation on Broderie Perse, very interesting. The quilts shown have very simple blocks in the center, with the borders enhanced with motifs cut from large scale fabrics, mostly large florals.

I was very taken with this particular quilt. I may give it a try.

One word of warning: there is not much instruction in the book. There are only a few projects with basic directions provided, then a gallery of photos of additional quilts that use the technique. That's fine with me. I'd rather come up with my own variation on the theme, and am unlikely to locate the same fabric used in the samples anyway. But I think a beginner would
have trouble with the lack of detailed directions.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Need To Make A Christmas Gift, Part 1 - Easy, Fast Quilt with Big Impact

This is Nosegay, very quick to make and easy too! If you are thinking " a quilt would make a nice Christmas gift for Fill-In-Name-Here but how will I ever get it finished in time," this is your solution. It is also the perfect showcase for a large-scale print you love.

I made Nosegay using a pattern called Pennsylvania Pasture, from Endless Mountains Quiltworks. A moderately experienced quilter could make this without a pattern but I fell for the fabric in their booth at a quilt show so bought the pattern and yardage on the spot.

Here's a close-up of the corner. Because I was using a stripe, I mitered the corner of the inner border but you would not need to do that if you used another print. Or, you could place a cornerstone block in the corner.

The scalloped outer border adds a bit of specialness to an otherwise simple design. Binding the scallops is easier than it looks.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Poetry by April Cornell Needs A New Home

I've been a "serious" quilter for about 15 years now and my taste in projects has definitely changed over the years. Of course, part of it is becoming more proficient and being able to tackle more complicated piecing. And a good part of it has to do with the fabrics available. There is so much more variety available now: larger scale prints, more sophisticated colors that match the trends in fashion and home dec, as well as broader fabric lines that make it easier to coordinate a set of prints for a single project.

My earliest quilts used just a few, carefully coordinated fabrics - for example, three in a Double Irish Chain or seven in a Log Cabin quilt. I was not really into the scrappy look, which was good because I did not have a stash yet!

But early on, I was bitten by the Watercolor bug, a technique that required a vast supply of different prints, cut for the most part into 2" squares. I joined a watercolor fabric swap coordinated via email and mailed in USPS Priority Mail envelopes every month. It was the beginning of my stash. Up to that point, the fabric I had on hand was merely leftovers from other projects. My Watercolor projects increased my comfort with using a variety of fabrics, and my other projects began to include a broader range of prints.

I was mentally reflecting on how my taste and interests have changed over my quilting life as I was cleaning out my stash closet. Like all serious quilters, I have a few kits and UFOs that don't really interest me any longer. Maybe they need a new home.

Like this one: April Cornell Poetry Collection kit from Moda. When I bought this at my LQS a couple of years ago, I was really excited about it, loved the colors and paisley and floral prints, thought the basketweave effect of the piecing was fabulous. But I was in the middle of another project so I put it away for a while. And it never came out again. I don't know what happened. I look at this and I like it but I'm not excited. And the colors are not a good match for my home anyway.

So, I'm offering it for sale here. Included are the fabric covered box (12" x 7" x 4" deep) holding the fabric to piece the top and the instruction sheet, plus the yardage I bought to complete the quilt - 3.5 yards of the yellow paisley for backing and 1.5 yards of woven coral stripe for the binding (there is enough to substitute this for the pintucked coral for the inner border). The finished quilt is 52" x 52". Colors are coral pink, yellow, pale green, and aqua.

The price tag is still on the kit (originally $65) and the yardage for the back and binding must have run at least $8 per yard - so over $100 value. But I will send it to a good home for $75, including postage in USA (extra charge for actual cost if going elsewhere). Just leave a comment or email me if you are interested and I will send you an invoice via Paypal.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Some Odds and Ends

I've been working on the strip pieced blocks; 27 completed so only 117 to go! The piecing is easy but I want the quilt to be queen bed size so there are many blocks to make.

While I'm sewing and ironing, I try not to eat too much Halloween candy. Most of it is my daughter's haul. We really do live on Main Street, where there are sidewalks, so we get a lot of kids on Halloween, about 250 this year. All I had left was about 8 Reese's peanut butter cups and only had those because it started raining shortly before 8 pm, putting an end to the trick or treating.

On Sunday, I went to my LQS. They had just received the Rouenneries by French General from Moda. I had seen glimpses of this line online and in blogs and thought it looked good. Well, the actual fabric is even better than I expected - absolutely gorgeous! I'd love to make a quilt with it but resisted for the moment, with intention to plan something then go back to buy the exact yardage I need. I'd appreciate any suggestions for a block or pattern that would look particularly good made up in this line.