Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Displaying and Storing Quilts

What do you do with all of your finished quilts? 

Here on Main Street, I have them in the usual places.  One on every bed, plus a few more for each bed so they can rotate.

Smaller quilts folded on the backs of chairs, or tossed "casually."  I have a seasonal rotation for these throw size quilts.

I hung two curtain poles on the wall on our second floor landing and use them to hang folded quilts.

I change the assortment here as part of my Christmas decorating.

And I have a quilt holder on the wall in the kitchen.  I got this wooden holder at a quilt show years ago, it is 42" wide, great for a rotating display of smaller quilts.  

And I have a couple of quilts hanging in my sewing room.  The Spools quilt is hanging from a dowel rod ...

...while Say Yes To The Dress is hung from a curtain rod using clip-on curtain rings.  

 But even with all these quilts on display, I have many more folded and stored away.  So when I saw this basket in Target, I thought it would be great for holding a few rolled up quilts.  I like the look and it holds quite a lot.  I've got three quilts in it (one is twin size and two are large throws) and could squeeze in one more.   

 If you would like to do something similar, the information on the basket from Target is here.  Target doesn't ship this basket, you have to get it in-store, but I saw a similar one at West Elm and they do ship.  That info is here.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Hexie Flowers and Succession

A couple of months ago, I wrote about my new portable sewing project, hexagon flowers for a Flowers for Emma quilt.  You can read about here if you need a refresher. 

Then I started watching Succession on HBO.  I somehow missed this show last year when the first season aired but saw a lot of publicity in advance of Season 2 and a few people whose taste coincides well with  mine recommended it so I decided to give it a try.  (Just an aside but I long resisted subscribing to anything that would add to our already outrageous cable bill but three years ago, Miss Main Street had to watch The Wire for a college class and the easiest way was for us to add HBO to our cable package so she would watch it at college online using HBO Go.  The class is long over but Mr. Main Street got hooked on some shows and doesn't want to give it up.) 

I thought the first episode dragged a little (heavily focused on introducing the characters, none of them likable) but stuck with it, and I was hooked by the third episode.  It is very well written, acted, and filmed.  The characters are mostly despicable, though I admit to some sympathy for Kendall.   By the way, nothing was left to chance in this show and I am certain the selection of that painting behind Brian Cox in the photo above was deliberate. 

So while the Roy family was entertaining me, I worked on my hexie flowers for Flowers for Emma. 

This is what I had to show at the end of Season 1.  More have been added to the pile during Season 2.  And I'm looking for a new show - Miss Main Street has given me a long list - Peaky Blinders?  Derry Girls?  Hanna?  Something to tide me over until The Crown Season 3 comes out. 

The hexie flowers are very scrappy in the original Flowers for Emma pattern.  I'm making mine less scrappy but using the leftovers from my Fig Tree Harvest projects and augmented with my Chantilly fat quarter stack win.   There is still plenty of the Chantilly stack for another project. 

The pattern as written calls for 35 hexie flowers.  I am considering going bigger which will mean more flowers.  Either way, I need to applique some of the flowers to the background so I can remove the papers and reuse them.  So there will definitely be more TV in my future. 

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Pottery Barn and Using Sheets For Quilt Backing

Can you believe Christmas is less than two months away?!!!  Too soon to start decorating but not too early to make your decorating plans.  And certainly not too early (and possibly too late if you sew like me) to start a new seasonal quilt.

I've been thinking of making a new Christmas quilt and those thoughts coincided with an email message from Pottery Barn covering their Christmas decor items.  They have some of the cutest sheets and bedding sets and they got me thinking about using a sheet as the backing for a quilt.  Have you ever used a sheet and if so, how did it work out?

Pottery Barn calls this one Nostalgic Santa.  I think the design could be great for a quilt back, especially for a two-color quilt in red and white or green and white. 

I also like this snowman print.

What about Forest Gnomes?   These three are 100% organic cotton. 

Winter Village is 100% organic cotton flannel.  Could be very cozy! 

One issue is that it would not be an inexpensive backing because Pottery Barn sells sets only, with fitted sheet and pillowcases included with the flat sheet.  I suppose you could use them on the bed.  We are old-fashionedly boring here on Main Street, with white sheets only on the beds so a printed fitted sheet would be an adjustment. 

Anyway, I am thinking of buying some of these when they go on sale (Pottery Barn is always having a sale) so any advice you have on use of sheets as quilt backing much appreciated. 

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Quilt Show - Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza 2019

In mid-September I attended a quilt show put on by the Mancuso organization, Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza. It is held annually in suburban Philadelphia, a little over an hour's drive from where I live in New Jersey.

I've attended this show most years but the quality keeps declining, making me wonder about the future of quilt shows.  Have the internet, blogs, Pinterest, and Instagram filled the need for inspiration and contact with other quilters such that quilt shows no longer serve the same purpose?  While there were some outstanding quilts on exhibit in the show, I also saw a lot of quilts on display that in my mind fell far short of quilt show standard - uninspiring design and inferior workmanship.  I don't expect to like every quilt displayed, nor do they all need to be perfect, but they should inspire in some way and exhibit superior workmanship.  Elizabeth of OccasionalPiece-Quilt blog had a similar experience at Pacific International Quilt Festival, another Mancuso show.  So if you've been thinking about entering a quilt in a show,  just do it!   They appear to be in need of exhibitors and your work is probably much better than you think.

Okay, enough negativity.  Like I said, there were some fabulous quilts.  You can see the prize winners here.   And plenty of very cool quilts that didn't win prizes; I'm showing you a few of my favorites here.

The quilt below was a raffle quilt.  It caught my eye and I knew there was something familiar about it.  On closer examination, I recognized the fabric collection as Garden Delights from In the Beginning fabrics.  I have jelly rolls and fat quarters from this fabric collection in my stash, waiting for a use to present itself and this quilt gave me some ideas. 

I knew this next quilt was in the show and was looking for it.  I am a follower of Wendy Welsh's blog, where this quilt made its original appearance.  Wendy has won prizes for her quilts in her native New Zealand and in Australia and mentioned that this quilt had been selected for an international tour.  This quilt, Vibrant Curiosities, was English paper pieced in mostly Tula Pink fabrics then hand quilted. 

The primary shape is an octagon.  It must have taken ages to piece this 80" by 80" quilt!  The mix of colors is really fabulous - there are so many different prints and colors, it could easily have turned out a hot mess, but no, it is very striking.

This next quilt, Sexie Hexies, was in an aisle that displayed quilts by quilters who were teaching at the show.  Sarah Bond had several quilts using wedges and curved piecing, all part of a series she calls Coming Full Circle

Sarah Bond teaches at shows, including the 2020 Modern Quilt Guild show.  This is something I'd like to learn to do. 

She made great use of color in this block. 

 The show also included an exhibit of quilts from Kaffe Fassett books.  I liked this one, called Ripples (from Quilts in Ireland), in softer colors than I associate with Kaffe Fassett designs. 

Lots of half square triangles here!

 This last quilt is called Confetti Star, by Missy Bauer.  She made it using a jelly roll then it was quilted by Nora Dougherty.  The quilting is absolutely fabulous, especially in the open spaces.  I've seen other examples of this kind of lopped off lone star and am putting it on my to-make list. 

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Friday, October 25, 2019

Log Cabin Finished Quilt Top

I've been absent from my blog too long, but I do have something to show for my time.

Over the summer, I worked on a log cabin quilt using fabric from stash, actually leftovers from some prior projects.  I joined the blocks using the Fields & Furrows (or Streak of Lightening) setting.  The quilt top is 80" by 80", too big for Mr. Main Street to hold up by himself, so I waited for a visit from Miss Main Street.  Even with both of them, holding it up was a job, and both were impatient to leave the house as we were on our way out to dinner. 

The quilt turned out to be an excellent stash/scrap buster.  All I bought was was the pale aqua fabric that alternates with the white on the "light" side of each block.  The white was in my stash and the fabrics for the "dark" side of the blocks were left over from prior quilts.  I even have fabric in my stash for the quilt back. 

The logs are one inch wide finished and the blocks are 10 inches square.  I used a pattern called Sweet Escape by Thimbleblossoms but changed the setting. 

I just have to get the backing together then I can send this off to my longarm quilter.

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Portable Project - English Paper Piecing Flowers

I've been craving a hand sewing project to work on while I watch TV and to take with me when I travel.  I was torn between several very appealing English paper piecing designs and finally settled on Flowers for Emma, designed by Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life.  I downloaded the pattern from her Etsy store

My flower centers will be this tone-on-tone yellow from my stash.  It's from a 3 Sisters collection by Moda, but one of their early collections, at least 10 years old. Once again, good to be using something from my stash.  The hexagons can be cut from 2.5" strips and having the hexagon template (1" sides finished) makes the cutting easy, though you can cut hexies by using the 60 degree lines marked on  your regular cutting ruler.  The template I'm using was $6 from Paper Pieces.  My plan is to hand stitch the flowers then applique them to the background but undecided yet whether I will do that by hand or machine. 

One of the attractions of this pattern to me was that I could see being able to finish it in a year or two, as opposed to the lifetime project that a traditional grandmother's flower garden quilt would become.  I enjoy EPP but it does take a long time to finish.  I enjoyed working on my La Passacaglia quilt (aka Rondeau) but it took me about two years and is only wall hanging size. 

When I get some of the flowers made, I can begin piecing the backgrounds and appliqueing as I go, giving me some easy machine work for times when I want that.  I'm pretty excited about this quilt!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Log Cabin Quilt Block Settings

I've been making slow but steady progress on the log cabin blocks and now have 64 finished blocks.  Since they finish at 10" square, that will make a quilt 80" by 80" which I think will work on a full size/double bed. 

I need to decide on a setting so I can begin the joining up process.  I have two alternatives under consideration.  This setting is called Sunshine & Shadows...  

and this next is called Fields & Furrows (or Streak of Lightening).  I'm leaning towards this second setting because I've never used it before. 

(Please excuse poor quality of the photos.  I laid the blocks out on the 
"design bed" and had to take the pictures holding the camera over my head.)

I've used the Barn Raising setting for my earlier log cabin block quilts, like Brownstone (made in 2014)...

 and Christmas Cabin, one of early quilts.

I found some good information on alternative settings for log cabin blocks on this site; the illustrations are very useful to help ensure I get the blocks laid out properly.

Another decision I need to make concerns the backing fabric.  I have some regular quilting cotton in the stash that I can use but am also thinking about using Minky or Cuddle, those super-soft plush fabrics.  I've never used it as quilt backing before but have seen quilts made with it.  Do you have any advice for using it?

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Friday, July 5, 2019

Summer Reading

I've been reading a lot lately, both to inspire my quilting projects (Love Patchwork & Quilting magazines from Fat Quarter Shop and American Quilter from the newstand at my local Barnes & Noble store)...

...and just because I enjoy reading. 

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood was one of Reese Witherspoon's monthly selections and I found it very enjoyable.  Susan, 45 years old and a bit of a loner with a prickly personality, has to suddenly deal with an unplanned pregnancy, the death of her mother, and a feud with her brother.  The story is how she navigates all this and comes out happier at the end of it. 

Mysteries are my genre of choice but my favorite authors aren't writing fast enough to keep me supplied so over the past year I've tried some newer authors in the hopes of finding some good material.  I have three to recommend!

Dervla McTiernan, author of The Ruin and The Scholar , books set in Galway, Ireland.  Irish police detective Cormac Reilly had just moved from Dublin to Galway, where of course he encounters murder and mayhem (and maybe police corruption?).  These are new favorites for me and I'm eagerly awaiting The Good Turn, to be published in March, 2020.

Cara Hunter writes the DI Adam Fawley series (three books so far); they take place in Oxford, England.  I like the way the author incorporates social media posts and comments into the traditional narrative.  I'm really enjoying this series. Number 4 is due out in December.

Sarah Ward's series is set in a small town in Derbyshire, England, with police detectives Francis Sadler and Connie Childs.  Again, only a few books so far.  The plots often involve an event from the past that has influenced the present with deadly consequences. 

I've been able to get most of these books from my public library, augmented with a few Kindle purchases.

Another new-to-me author is Donna Leon.  Clearly, I've been under a rock or something because she's been writing for ages and has a backlist of 28 books!  This like hitting the reading jackpot!  The stories are set in Venice, Italy, which we are planning to visit next spring, making the find even better. 

Back soon with more quilting.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Making A Quilt From Stash

While I mull over what to make with my Chantilly fat quarters, I started making log cabin blocks from fabric in my stash.

I'm using the block from the Thimble Blossoms quilt called Sweet Escape, though I may go with a different setting.  The blocks finish at 10" square, with each log 1" wide.

All the fabric (except the aqua used on the "light" side) is from my stash, mostly leftovers from these two quilts, Celebration made in 2017...

...and Scrappy Stars made in 2015.

For the white on the "light" side, I'm using a tiny white floral tone-on-tone because I had that in my stash as well.  While trying to put the Chantilly fat quarters and some other recent fabric purchases away in my fabric closet, I found space was very tight.  Fabric is a huge temptation for me; I'm like a kid at a buffet where my eyes are bigger than my stomach, or in the this case, my attraction to new fabrics exceeds the time I have to make anything with it.  So I'm trying to whittle down the stash a bit before I expose myself to further temptation. 

The size of this log cabin quilt will be determined by the number of blocks I can make from my stash pull.  I have two other stash projects in mind, one to use my pale florals and another using Christmas prints.  And I'm planning another quilt in my Fig Tree Harvest series, to use the leftovers from my previous quilts.  I'd like to make a Jack's Chain quilt (examples on my Pinterest board) and am looking for directions for this block or a pattern.  Please let me know if you are aware of one.

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Fig Tree Chantilly - What To Make?

A couple of weeks ago, my local quilt shop, Pennington Quilt Works, had a grand re-opening celebration to show off their expanded store (they are in a shopping center and annexed the empty storefront next door).  They showed off their new space and class samples and I was the lucky winner of one of the door prizes - a fat quarter stack of Chantilly by Fig Tree, a pattern on a postcard, and a Moda zipper pouch (will be handy to hold binding clips).  Thank you, PQW!

I like the Chantilly fabric line - it is the typical Fig Tree florals but the colors are paler shades than usual.  I am  considering using it to make Hexie Garden by Atkinson Designs but I need to identify a solid color to use in place of the dark triangles around the flower centers.  I've seen this pattern made up in bright colors with black which was really stunning but I think black would be too harsh with the pale shades in the Chantilly line.

My alternative is to go with either the Odile Stars pattern by Planted Seed Designs or the new Fig Tree pattern called Twinkle.  The pattern for Twinkle calls for 1/3 yard cuts but each makes two blocks so I think I could get a block of out each fat quarter. 

Decisions, decisions...

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