Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Block Boards

A couple of months ago, LaVieEnRosie had a post about making block boards.  They looked useful and easy to make, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I am now the owner of six block boards. 

Leftover pieces of batting glued to pieces of foam core, cut to 15 inches square.  Using them, I can lay out the pieces for several blocks, then carry them to the machine to sew.  The fabric pieces "stick" to the batting, and seeing the layout while sewing means the seam ripper should come into play less often. 

If you'd like some of your own, the link here or above will take you to Carrie's how-to for making them.  Very easy, you really can't go wrong.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

We Return Now To Our Regularly Scheduled Project

Before Paris, I was working on this project from American Patchwork & Quilting magazine; it is called Follow The Leader

I resumed work this past weekend and have made quite a bit more progress.  This is not a difficult pattern (so far, at least), but it is rather labor-intensive because of the pieced border.

I started putting together the "columns."  The uneven 9-patch blocks are joined with setting triangles in long strips, then the strips are joined using a thin strip of dark lattice between each pieced strip. 

I have five of the seven columns pieced.  I numbered each with a pinned on label as an aid to getting them in the right order when I sew them all together with the lattice strips.  This is something I learned from experience, the kind of experience you don't want to have, when it all goes wrong!  But now I know to label!

The name Follow The Leader probably came from the flying geese border.  I'm looking for a name for my version, am thinking something to do with traveling.  Maybe Flying South?  Or Traveling Light?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

New and Improved

The last time I was at my LQS, Pennington Quilt Works, I invested in a new rotary cutting ruler.  The ruler I had been using was my original, the one I bought 19 years ago when I made the switch from cardboard templates-scissors-hand piecing quilting to rotary cutting-machine piecing quilting.  It had served me well but I noticed something new and improved in the store.

This Creative Grids ruler is 6.5" wide and 24.5" long.  That extra half inch tells me it was invented by a quilter, frustrated from using a ruler too narrow to cut 6.5 inch strips.  My original ruler was ony 5 inches wide.  Five inches is sufficient most of the time, but what a pain at those times when you need to cut something slightly wider!  I frequently had to press my 9" square into service and it just wasn't designed to be used for width of fabric cutting. 

I think this new ruler is going to be the next best thing to pre-cut fabric!

Friday, March 25, 2011

My First Completely Finished Quilt of 2011

My first completely finished quilt (quilted, bound, and labeled) of 2011 is quilt I made for the school auction.  It finished at 56" by 71" and I'm calling it Shining Star.

You may be wondering about the name, saying to yourself, "Where are the stars?"

Well, the stars are in the quilting.  My longarm quilter, Karen Thompson, used gold thread in a pantograph design of meandering stars. 

The background fabric has a slightly mottled look, like denim.  I think it makes a nice throw or lap quilt, perfect for a dorm room.  We'll see what others think when it gets auctioned on April 30.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

LQS Parisian-Style - A Visit to Le Rouvray

I try to take in a quilt shop or two on every vacation and our Paris trip was no exception.  I had heard of Le Rouvray and given its easy to reach location near Notre Dame, Ile St. Louis, and the Latin Quarter, we stopped in for a visit. 

We had a little difficulty finding the store because they had recently moved from the address given on their website (website not updated yet as of today), but the new premises are only a block away on another little side street.

The new premises are very small and they have a very limited inventory.  The store hours are also quite limited (Tuesday-Saturday, afternoons only), leading me to think it is a sort of hobby business.  Having previous experience with the price of fabric in Europe, I was not expecting to buy anything (we may moan about quilting fabric reaching $10 a yard in the US but in Europe it costs much more).  Le Rouvray had a limited though carefully curated selection of mostly 19th century repros with a "French-y" look.  Most were from what I think of as British companies like Westminister.  They stock some FQ-like packs but I did not see much in the way of patterns or books.  We came away only with a couple of postcards, but it was worth the visit.

Our other sewing-related adventure was trip to the Puces de Vanves, the flea market held at Porte de Vanves.  This is on the outskirts of Paris but was easy to get to on the Metro and a tram-like bus.  It is held on Saturday and Sunday mornings on the sidewalk of a few blocks of two streets in what appears to be a middle class residential area.

Miss Main Street and I spent an enjoyable few hours browsing.  Miss bought a vintage ring and a small army-issue satchel she intends to use as a purse (military is "in" she tells me); I bought some vintage sewing items and a vintage bed cover with eyelet lace trim. 

I came across two different vendors with vintage sewing "stuff."  From the first, I bought two boxes of vintage ribbon embroidered with my initials, CM.  However, she did not have LM for Miss Main Street or initials of anyone else I could think of on the spur of the moment.  Those wooden things are bobbins used for lace making.  I thought they'd look interesting in a little bowl.  They can be used to hold embroidery floss, should I ever take up embroidery (you never know!).

Another vendor had all sorts of other sewing things.  I bought the card with buttons, card with linen thread, little pieces of lace, and floral card, with thought of putting them in some sort of framed collage for my sewing room. 

This is the bed cover.  It is too small to use on any bed we have (smaller even than a twin bed, making me think it was for a crib or child's bed) and it in thin in places and has some stains here and there but not on the lace.   It is embroidered with the initials ER in red cross stitch.

The lace edge runs across the top and bottom.  I am thinking or recycling it into pillow shams somehow.  Must think this out carefully before I cut...

The Practical Bag came in very handy for carrying our purchases. 

At the Eiffel Tower, I bought this tin, which will hold pins after I've eaten the candy it contains. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Home From Paris

Bonjour!  Miss Main Street and I are home from our trip to Paris.  We had a fabulous time!  I'll be back with a real post after some rest (and laundry), but in the meantime, here are some photos I took during our trip. 

The florists have beautiful displays on the sidewalk

Hot chocolate and macrons at Angelina's - a real caloric indulgence!

Smart cars and other tiny models are all over Paris, probably because of lack of parking space and cost of gas.  A large American SUV would look like a tank amongst Parisian cars.

Bouquinistes (second-hand book sellers, also sell prints and some other items), along the Seine

Arc de Triomphe

Underneath the Eiffel Tower

Miss Main Street in front of the Louvre.  The stone building in the background is the original; the glass pyramid is the I. M. Pei-designed addition, which lets in lots of light to the basement area.

One of Monet's water lily paintings at the Orangerie Museum. 

A bientot!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Making Flying Geese

Before I left for Paris, I made more progress on The Freebie.  With the nine-patch blocks finished, it was time to turn to the flying geese units that form the border. 

I have 100 of the 144 required flying geese units done.  I could not have acomplished this number so easily without my Fit to be Geese ruler from Open Gate Quilts.  Lots of quilters have blogged about this ruler; just add me to the list of adoring fans. 

Using this ruler, you make your flying geese units a little bit larger than called for in the pattern, then trim them down.  I don't like the trimming part of the exercise any better than you do, but this technique results in true to size, squared up flying geese, rather than wonky, a little bit too small here, a bit too big there flying geese.  So when making a quantity, it is well worth it. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Find - Baggallini Travel Bags

By the time this posts, Miss Main Street and I will be on our mother-daughter trip to Paris (Mr. Main Street and Reggie, the homebodies, are staying home).  It's been a while since I had a Friday Find but this is a good opportunity to tell you about my travel purse, from Baggallini

Baggallini's signature line is "Designed by flight attendants, approved by travellers."  I would add, "and approved by quilt show attendees."

My bag is the Zipper Bag, which you can buy on  Baggallini bags are very light weight, so you don't get that sore shoulder from carrying your purse around all day.  And they have lots of organizational compartments.  My bag has slots in the lining for credit cards, and a change purse on a tether, so I don't need a wallet.  And there are several zippered compartments, to make your things easy to locate.  Besides my credit cards and cash, I can carry my camera, glasses, cell phone, keys, lip balm, pad and pen, tissues, small bottle of hand holds a surprising amount.  Almost like Hermiones bag in the last Harry Potter book!

Most Baggallini designs have adjustable straps so they can be worn on one shoulder or cross body.  I'm and on the shoulder gal most of the time but prefer the cross body method for quilt shows and traveling because it leaves both hands free and feels more secure.  

If you've been thinking you need an alternative to your usual heavy purse, look into Baggallini.     

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Quilt Fest of New Jersey VII - My Purchases

The vendors are a big part of the attraction of quilt shows for me.  I get as many ideas from the vendors' booths as I do from the quilts on display.  Quilt Fest of New Jersey was a smaller show but, I came home with plenty of loot!

I found Country Inn, a Blackbird Designs book by Barb Adams and Alma Allen.   Thelma blogged about her recent foray into hand applique.  She is using a pattern from Country Inn for her project.  I won't be starting that project, at least not yet, but I'd like to try applique and this book is full of eye candy.

I bought Blooming Possiblities because the projects in it are so darn cute!  The vendor, Cranberry Quiltworks, had samples from the book on display and I bet the book was sold out by the end of the show. 

I bought this bundle of fat quarters from the same vendor.  The fabrics cross several lines but go together so well.  And I already have some larger pieces of a couple of those prints so they will be ready when the right pattern comes along.

Cranberry Quiltworks also had this twill tape, made like measuring tape.  Not sure what I'll do with it yet, but it was only $0.79 per yard.  Unfortunately, they don't seem to have it on their website.  Maybe by email...

And I found what I was especially looking for:  wool, in small pieces. 

Ever since I saw this project in Sew Scrappy magazine, I've been wanting to make it.  I've never worked with wool before but am game to give it a try.  I think this will be a good portable project for the summer. I still need to find the black background.  Please let me know if you are aware of any sources.

By the way, The Practical Bag was perfect for carrying all this loot around the show as I made my purchases. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Quilt Fest of New Jersey VII - New Technique

One of the vendors at the Quilt Fest of New Jersey was Sue Pelland.  Her quilts covered the walls of her booth and she demonstrated her invention, the Leaves Galore template.  It is an acrylic ruler that makes it easy to cut the leaf or orange peel shape.  I saw the quilts and watched her demo. 

Yes, she reeled me in!  An Orange Peel or Joseph's Coat quilt has long been on "my list" but I was not enthused about having to cut all those shapes with scissors.  Well, this ruler means you can cut with a rotary cutter.  Plus, it is designed to eliminate a lot of waste, as one row of shapes lines up very closely with the next. 

Sue has instructions, including videos, on her website.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Quilt Fest of New Jersey VII - My Visit

I visited the Quilt Fest of New Jersey VII last week, where this quilt was one of the award-winning works on display.  It is Chromatic Transitions, by Rachel Wetzler, and it is a beauty!  I was wowwed by it!

It is all machine applique, using a tiny zig zag stitch.

Here are few more quilts that caught my eye.  Dots With A Twist of Lime, by Marion Lutz, using Kaffe Fassett prints. 

Isn't this a great idea for a scrap quilt? It's going in my idea file.


This is My Eldon, by Bethany Morelli.  This quilt took an award for Best Machine Workmanship. 

The piecing used very narrow strips, which I attempted to show in this blurry photo.

This small wall hanging is Treasures At Sea, by Amy Hamado.  It is only about 14" by 18" so the Storm At Sea blocks are all tiny. 

I'll have another post with more about the show later this week.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Practical Bag

I've been wanting to make myself a new tote bag and I finally got to it.  I was looking for something that I could take on my trip to Paris, that can be packed easily and is not too large.  I used the pattern Practical Bag from Grand Revival.  Fat Quarter Shop sells the pattern.

This is an unstructured bag that does not use batting or interfacing; just the outer fabric and lining fabric.  No zippers or pockets either, so fairly quick and easy.  I made my bag in about 3 hours. I used some vintage light-weight upholstery fabric I had on hand, and a quilt weight cotton for the lining.  (I should have taken a picture of the lining; it is hot pink polka dots.)

I'm very happy with the way it came out and think it just what I need for my trip.  One caution - I'm not sure it is really a good pattern for a beginner because, though relatively easy, the pattern directions are brief.  She tells you what to do but not how to do it.  That is fine if you have some experience with making bags or clothing but an inexperienced sewist could be a bit mystified.

Amy Butler's Style Stitches: 12 Easy Ways to 26 Wonderful Bags

Now that I've finished Practical Bag I feel ready to tackle one of the more complicated patterns in Amy Butler's book.  But that will have to wait until the summer.  In the meantime, I'll test my Practical Bag when I go to the quilt show this week.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Quilt Fest of New Jersey VII

The Quilt Fest of New Jersey opens this Thursday.  This is the seventh year for this show, at the Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset.  It is not a huge show but I always find something to like in the exhibits.  And of course, the vendors always entice me to part with some of my money.

I am thinking of going to the show on Friday.  If you will be there, let me know and we can try to meet up.