Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cobwebs: String-Pieced Spiderweb Quilt

My quilt Cobwebs is up on the wall, in the display space in my kitchen that I use for a rotating display of quilts.  We are ready for Halloween on Main Street!

My longarm quilter used an all-over swirling patten that gives it more texture and adds to the cobweb look of the quilt.  I'm very happy with how it turned out.

You can read more about how I made this quilt here and here and here.  Halloween fabrics are in the stores now and will probably go on sale soon.  It just might be time for you to make your own spooky quilt.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Binding Clips

Putting the binding on Cobwebs gave me an opportunity to try out the Clover Wonder Clips I bought a short time ago.  I do like them!  They are much easier than straight pins, my previous tool for holding the binding in place while I hand stitch it down.  And I never cared for those metal clips, the ones that look like the hair grips sports-playing girls use to hold their hair back securely. 

The clips work pretty much like clothes pins.  One side of the clip is flat (clear plastic) and the other part angled (red plastic).  They can be used for machine sewing with the flat side down (of course, you will need to remove them as they approach the needle).  And they are very easy to see should you happen to drop one on the floor or couch (I speak from experience!).

Wonder Clips come in packages of 10, which I found to be enough to work with.  I placed my clips about two inches apart.  As I sewed down a section and removed a clip, I re-attached it further down.  But if you like to have your binding pinned down entirely before you begin sewing, you will need several packages. 

This final step in making a quilt is so relaxing for me.  I love the moment when the last stitch goes in and I get to spread out my finished quilt.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pumpkins For Fabric Lovers

Have you seen the latest issue of Country Living magazine (October 2011)?  See the pumpkins on the cover - the magazine includes directions for making them using fabric.  The crafter photocopied the fabric onto paper then used Modge Podge to adhere the paper to an artificial pumpkin.  (The pumpkins used are sometimes called Funkins and are available in craft stores like Joann's and Michael's.)  They'd make a cool centerpiece.

In other Halloween happenings, remember Cobwebs?   I'm in the process of applying the binding so I can get it on the kitchen wall in time for the brunch party I'm giving on Oct. 2. 

Maybe I should make some pumpkins to match!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What's In Your Stash?

My stash holds a lot of Fig Tree fabrics.  I like the updated vintage look of the designs and colors and have a hard time  resisting each new collection.  But now I  have so much, I really need to decide on some projects and begin to make use of them.  I am supposed to be a quilter, not a fabric collector!  (I know, I know, hard to tell the difference!)

Fat quarter and fat eighth bundles of Buttercup, Strawberry Fields, and Butterscotch and Rose.

Two layer cakes and a partial jelly roll of Mill House Inn.

Scraps from prior projects and some yard and fat quarter cuts.

Larger pieces bought on sale for possible borders and backings.

I've been wanting to make these small applique pictures for a while but they will hardly put a dent in the fabric collection.  This Miss Rosie design from Spice of Life quilts is one of the larger quilt patterns I've been thinking of.  Or some kind of log cabin design.  Or maybe a pineapple block quilt.  Something like use a variety of prints in a  scrappy way.

To get some more ideas, I used Google Images, searching Fig Tree quilt as well as individual collection names.  Seeing what others had done with this fabric provided some inspiration and (warning! warning!) the hours went by as I was sucked into new-to-me blogs.

2012 might be my Year of Fig Tree.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza - The Loot

I had a very interesting time among the vendors at the quilt show.  There was a fantastic variety, including a new-to-me vendor called The Christmas Shoppe, stocking some patterns by Australian quilters that I've seen on blogs but have not up to now seen the real goods at retail.  They have a website

I'd made a list of a few things I was looking for and tried to limit the impulse purchases; there are things I bought at this show last year that I haven't used yet.

Dover Street Books had a broad selection of books; I bought two.  I had so much fun making my last string quilt and String Quilt Revival: A Fresh Approach for 13 Classic Designs has some cool ideas.  I have several books by Barb and Alma; You're Invited: Quilts and Homes to Inspire caught my attention and seemed like it would be at home in my quilting library. 

I bought the Fig Tree pattern Butterscotch Tart because a vendor had a sample on display.  The sample was made in fabrics that were more Civil War reproduction than the usual Fig Tree look and that helped me see additional possibilities from the pattern.  Though I have a large stash of Fig Tree fabric and need to figure out a game plan for using it. 

I purchased several specialty rulers.  I found out about Bloc Loc rulers on a blog (can't remember which blog).  The company was vending at the show and demonstating how to use their rulers for improved block size accuracy.  The rulers are a bit pricey but I bought three, thinking the cost could be worth it in terms of saved time and aggravation. 

I also bought Lil Twister, another product I've seen on blogs.  And a ruler called Rapid Fire LeMoyne Star from Studio 180 Designs allows you to strip piece a LeMoyne Star block.  I plan to use this with my Etchings fabric bundle.  And all these new rulers meant I needed to get another ruler holder.  I like the wooden blocks with slots. 

I did not buy any fabric.  Amazing!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza

Today, I went to a quilt show, the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza.  It is at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, near Valley Forge and King of Prussia.  It is on through Sunday (Sept. 18) and I highly recommend it to those in the area.

There were some impressive quilts on exhibit and fabulous vendors.  While in prior years so many vendors were selling fat quarters from the same limited set of fabric lines, this year there was tremendous variety among the vendors.  I had to work very hard on impulse control!  I'll show you what I bought tomorrow but tonight's post is about the quilts I saw in the show.

Sandhill Stars by Sandi McMillan of Albion, NE
This quilt was pieced and quilted on a domestic machine.  It won 1st Place in the Traditional category.  The workmanship is exceptional!  The center of each star is perfectly flat, none of that cupping effect you can get when so many pieces come together.  In the photo below, you can see the feathers quilted in the background spaces. 

Blue Rapsody by Carolyn Rider of Portsmouth, OH
This quilt won a ribbon for best machine workmanship.  Look at the quilting in the white spaces in the photo below.

Summer Mole by Cheryl Lynch
The design was inspired by Mexican tiles.  She has several quilts on display from her book called Quilt Fiesta!  This quilt is both pieced and appliqued, which you can hopefully see in the close-up below.

In My Retirement by Marge Hurst of New Zealand. 
Hand pieced and hand quilted, this quilt won an honorable mention in the Traditional category.  You can see the quilting below.  I like this quilting design for a hexie quilt.  I'm guessing that Marge didn't have time to make this until she retired!

Aurora Florifeous by Helen Marshall of New Zealand
Wow, I love the use of color in this design!  Think of the stash required to make it!  Many of the hexies were fussy cut; see close-up below.

Forest Sunlight by Jecelyn Thornton of New Zealand
Machine pieced and hand quilted in batik fabrics.  Batiks are not usually my thing but I love the use of color in this and how it actually looks like a light is shining from the center of the quilt. 

 These last three quilts from New Zealand were part of a special exhibit called World Quilt Competitive XV:  On Tour.  It included quilts from many countries.

Come back tomorrow for more on the show and a glimpse of my loot.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Christmas Ribbons Flimsy

Christmas Ribbons is a finished top!  I finished it up on Sunday afternoon and Miss Main Street interrupted her reading long enough to serve as quilt holder.

 I'm very happy with the way it came out.  I used a pattern called Ruby's Ribbon Box (the version on the cover is made from a fabric line from Moda called Ruby).  I bought the pattern as a PDF download (getting it was easy and instantaneous) but it is also available in hard copy.  I used a variety of reds and greens plus three Christmas prints with a black background and a paisley print on white for the center square in two blocks.  Using a little bit of black makes the red and green pop.  My background fabric is an ivory tone-on-tone.

The pattern calls for a layer cake, though you will use only 20 of layer cake squares.  This means you can leave out any that don't contrast enough with your background fabric.  You can also make it from fat eighths or fat quarters (you need 20 fat eighths or 10 fat quarters).  Or, like me, you can use leftovers.  I use the term "leftovers" to describe fabric pieces left from another project that are bigger than a scrap but smaller than a fat quarter.  I bought the background fabric and the red for the border ribbon (and binding) but all else came from my stash.  It hardly made a dent in my stash of Christmas fabric. 

I'm going to clean up my sewing area and take care of some odds and ends before beginning a new project. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Re-Visiting My To-Do List

Mr. and Miss Main Street returned to school last week.  As my spouse is a teacher, our lives have always revolved around the school calendar and I tend to regard early September as a time of new beginnings (which is kind of weird because nature-wise, things are coming to an end as the flowers die and the leaves fall of the trees.  However...).

It seemed a good time to review my quilting to-do list, assess progress, and take corrective action.  If you recall, I decided in January not to do a traditional to-do list but to set myself some goals instead.  Here they are from my Jan. 1, 2011, post:

1.  Allow myself to work on what interests me at the moment and put aside a project if I no longer "feel the love." This is a hobby, not work, and I should use the limited time I can devote to it doing what I really want to do. Only problem is that this may be somewhat at odds with goal #2...

2. Work on projects on more of a one-at-a-time basis to keep the chaos at bay, and clean up the "studio" between projects. I'm taking a cue from Thelma, who adheres to this clean-up-between-projects rule and has a wonderfully organized sewing space.

3. Make progress on my Christmas quilts collection. While decorating for Christmas, I got the idea to display a collection of Christmas quilts on my second floor landing. This is what usually hangs there.



I will need to make at least four more quilts to give it a "Christmasy" look. So look for a repeat of my Christmas in July Christmas sewing marathon. Though I don't think I'll be making them all in one year.

4. Expand skill set by trying something new, or relatively new, to me. I am thinking either applique or equilateral triangles, but don't have a definite project in mind yet.

5. Make a major dent in my backlogged projects. A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about organizing some of my projects. These are not quilt UFOs; to qualify as "unfinished" a project has to have been started in the first place. I think these might more properly be called PIGS - projects in grocery sacks, except in my case they are in dry cleaner bags. I have seven projects for which I bought all the materials but never started. I need to get some of these done before I give myself permission to add more.

So, what has actually happened so far?  Progress reported in blue ink.

1.  Allow myself to work on what interests me at the moment and put aside a project if I no longer "feel the love." 

I haven't put projects aside because I fell out of love with them but I have started projects spontaneously because I fell in love.  See Frequent Flyer for an example, or the "little stars" quilt inspired by a postcard I found in Paris.

2. Work on projects on more of a one-at-a-time basis to keep the chaos at bay, and clean up the "studio" between projects. 

I've been good about not having a bunch of projects going at once, though I think it is good to have a "machine" project and a "portable" project at the same time.  I have not been too good about cleaning and reorganizing my sewing space between projects.  I started out well but you should see it now!  Must address this before I start the next new thing.

3. Make progress on my Christmas quilts collection. 

Oh, I've really excelled here!  I have a small wall hanging and a quilt top finished from my Christmas in July work, plus the wool project is almost finished.  In addition, I have a second quilt top almost done.  When they are quilted and bound, they can join a few other quilts and that display will look very Christmasy.

4. Expand skill set by trying something new, or relatively new, to me. I am thinking either applique or equilateral triangles, but don't have a definite project in mind yet.

My wool applique project represents something completely new for me.  I have plans for a hand applique project using regular quilting cotton fabric and I intend to get it organized so I have a portable project to start when the wooly one is finished.

5. Make a major dent in my backlogged projects. 

Near the end of 2010, I identified seven PIGS to be worked on.  I've finished two of them:  the Halloween spiderweb quilt and the Misty Pines wall hanging.  However, I keep buying fabric so, really, I have more PIGS to put in the queue.   

As a result of this self-assessment, I've decided that next on list are:
  • clean up the studio
  • finish the "little stars" project
  • organize the hand applique project so it's ready to go when I'm ready to sit with it
  • decide exactly what I will do with my Etchings and vast Fig Tree fabric collections so I can buy any additional yardage I need while the fabric is still in the stores
But not necessarily in that order.  I better get to work!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cover Quilt

Have you seen the newest issue of Quilt Sampler?  I've been seduced by the cover quilt again!

Over the long weekend, we went to the wedding of a niece in Rochester, NY.  While Miss Main Street went to a salon with the other bridesmaids to get glam, I read the entire issue.  I enjoyed myself very much.  The wedding was good, too!

Now that we're home, I need to get back to work on my Christmas Ribbons project.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Entering A Quilt Competition

Have you ever thought about entering a quilt competition?  I had not given it any serious consideration until I heard Podcast 209 from Annie's Quilting Stash.  In the podcast, Annie Smith talks about what she looks for when judging quilts in competition.  What I found particularly interesting were all the easily fixable things that keep a quilt from being perfect (or near perfect) - loose threads, cat hair, bumpy or uneven binding. 

Additionally, Annie is very encouraging about entering shows, as a means of validation and getting feedback from judges that will help channel a quilter's efforts to improve.  So I'm actually giving it some thought.  A guild show would proably be the easiest and safest way to start, but I don't belong to a guild. 

Have you ever entered a show?  If so, do you have any tips for the first-timer?  I would love for you to leave a comment and share your thoughts.