Monday, January 24, 2011

Raffle Blocks

Just when you thought it couldn't get any colder, -4 degrees today -whew!  OK, yes I know, we're having a heat wave compared to our northern neighbors up in Canada and other states such as New Hampshire and Vermont, but it's still kinda cold!  

I volunteered to take on my guild's next raffle quilt.  I was reading an old Australian quilting magazine looking for articles/patterns of interest I could tear out and save before pitching the rest of it into the trash and came across a quilt that was put together by a guild that was to be raffled off.  The quilt wasn't my style but I couldn't stop looking at it.because it had so much going on.  The guild was told to take some background fabric, use their gardens as inspiration and design a block.  And design they did!  The blocks were very creative and when all was put together had sew much interest it was hard to stop staring at it.

Sew, I thought that could work for our next raffle quilt.  Many of us love to putter around in our gardens in the warm months, why not combine the two?  I bought black on black background fabric, cut it into various sizes, placed the sizes on a spreadsheet so people could sign up for the size of their choice and told them to use their gardens as inspiration, using their favorite method of construction.

This is just a small sampling of the beautiful blocks I've received back so far.  I'm still waiting for a few and will have to send out a reminder today.  I know with our upcoming quilt show they have other things on their minds.  It can't always be about me!!

I started to lay them out to see how big this could actually be.  It's possible and also my hope that we'll have sew many that I'll be able to put together a 2nd top to be given to one of the members that contributed a block by putting their name into a hat.

Can't wait to receive the rest of the blocks so I can get started on this.  Because it will need custom quilting and we tend to have a problem finding someone to donate their expertise, I've decided I'll take the quilting on too.  I don't really consider myself as someone that quilts well so keep your fingers crossed!  I'll be sure to keep you updated!

Stay warm everyone!  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Making Ribbons

We had another storm blow through New England today.  School was cancelled but work was not.  It would have been nice to have another "sew day" but I was very happy that I didn't have to use my earned time to make up for the missed day of work.  I'll admit, I'm very selfish with my earned time and like to save it for days when I'm not sick.

Lately, I've taken a bit of a hiatus from sewing.  I know, say it isn't sew!  But I have.  Sometimes I just need to take a few days away from my  machine and focus on something else.  It may be a book, word/number puzzles or it could be a knitting project but after a few days I'm ready to sit at the machine again.  Sew, although I haven't been sewing, I have been working on something quilty.  

My guild is having its quilt show in March and I'm on the ribbon committee.  I'm not sure exactly when it came about, it was at least four years ago, but another guild member had the brilliant idea of using an origami flower pattern outlined in the book Fantastic Fabric Folding by Rebeca Wat.  

They don't look like much now but add a fabric covered button to the center and place it on a ribbon and they look fantastic pinned to the winning quilts.


It amazes me when someone can take one pattern or one fabric and use it in an unconventional way.  Who would have thought fabric would be great for origami?  And then to have someone look at that idea and take to another level - love it! 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Setting Deadlines

I ran into a friend of mine at the quilt store yesterday.  She was picking out fabric for a new project, but at the time, the project had not been decided on yet.  Would it be a quick crazy quilt or would it be made out of diamonds? It wasn't a class sample, but she did have a deadline to keep because it was for a co-worker going out for surgery.   

We both agreed, deadlines are our friend.  Without them we find growing grass absolutely fascinating.  Or, these days, melting snow.  If the temperature cooperates at all, the snow will actually start to melt!

Some of the quilt stores in this area use nice handled bags.  I had accumulated so many of them I decided I had to put them to use.  I started putting my UFO's in the bags with the fabrics and the pattern/book and storing them for a day when I was looking for a "new" project to work on.  Hey, some of these babies have been sitting around for a while - by the time I actually get around to working on them again, they'll feel new!

Sew I've decided that I should probably pick a few of these old projects and put a deadline on them.  The very first one needs to be for my niece.  She was married two years ago (or was it three?).  I made a signature quilt by having the guests sign a block and write what they'd like.  I still have the last two rows to sew on and then put on those blasted borders.  Thankfully, she's family and very forgiving!!  I think once she sees the finished product she'll forgive me, don't you?   If I can get that done, I'll pick another one and with any luck hack away at the number of UFO's.  

I just picked these up from the quilter today.  From there I went directly to the quilt store to pick out my bindings.  Not sure I'll actually get the chance to sew tonight but I'm hoping at least one binding will be on by the end of the week.

With any luck, by the end of the month I'll have two more UFO's with a big "X" in the finished column on the spreadsheet.  Unfortunately, however, I have three more to add.  Sew, although I may never see my UFO total go below the 50 mark, I will continue to hack away at the list.  Every finished project inspires me to continue on to the next one.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Another Snow Day!

Today we were hit with a Nor'Easter, causing a good part of the state to close down.  At 6:30 this morning we had about a foot and it's still snowing.

4:30 pm
7:00 am

I've had a fairly productive day.  As much as I'd love to become one with the couch, (honestly, it's the perfect day for it, I would have been at work anyway!) I just can't.  That laundry basket calls out to me, the dogs need to be let out, the kids need to eat - you know, little things like that!  

I did manage to bake some oatmeal raisin & craisin cookies.  There's just something about baking cookies on a snowy day.  

They're not perfect looking but they taste great!  
The scent of cinnamon really adds warmth to the whole house.

The kids went sledding next door.

They'll be exhausted by the time they get home - the snow is already up to their knees!  
Should make for some great runs down the hill!

It was a quilty day too!  I've been working on Snail Trail blocks to go on the outer border of my sailboat quilt.  I LOVE the block, I love the motion of the block - always have.  But... you need to concentrate when you make these babies!  I had 3 blocks completed and realized I mixed up the pieces.  One is a lost cause, the other one just had the outer triangles put in the wrong place so I could at least save that one.  Very frustrating!

I was going make the outside border completely out of Snail Trail blocks but a friend suggested just adding them to the corners.  She felt where the blocks are paper pieced (they're 4"), it would be much easier to cut back on the amount of blocks.  

I have to admit, I wasn't sure, I really envisioned it as having the blocks all the way around but the more I thought about it, the more I realized she was right (especially after mixing up those blocks!).  I also started thinking the blocks might overpower the quilt as the center section is only 24" x 30.5".  

I laid out the 6 blocks I have completed along with the dark teal to see how it would look.  She was right, this is the way to go.  Whew!  I'm so glad she suggested it - saved me tons of work and tons of un-sewing, I'm sure!

I love having a group of friends to bounce ideas back and forth.  Having that circle of friends, whose opinions I trust and whose ideas and creativity just wow me all the time is such a blessing.  I am truly lucky to have such friends!  

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I Love My Rulers

While working on my next project today, I realized I have a ton of rulers - all used for different things.  I have X-Block rulers, the Strip Tube Ruler, Omni Grid Rulers, Spiky & Peak rulers, Creative Grid Rulers and the list goes on.  They come in all shapes and sizes, they're all great in their own way and used for all purposes.  I then started thinking about how my ruler collection started... way back when.

I'm pretty sure any of us that have been quilting for a long time, started off with the Quilter's Ruler - hopefully, I have the name correct, it's been so long!  Bring back any memories?  At the time, it was a great ruler, perhaps even revolutionary because it allowed us to use our rotary cutters in a safer, more accurate manner.  

Then other companies came along and improved the concept.  Rulers were now made out of better plastic and had lines that helped me see the fabric better and offered me even more accuracy.   

So, now that I've rambled on about all my rulers, what all can these babies do??

This top is made with two different sized X-Block rulers.  I have a friend that twitches every time I mention this ruler.  The ruler itself is not hard to use, but you do need to be very comfortable with your 1/4" seam allowance and be willing to adjust it to make the patterns work.

This top, along with my newly quilted Transitions, were both made using the Strip Tube ruler.  Again, must be comfortable with your 1/4".  

Some patterns are more forgiving, as long as you're consistent, you can get away with a bigger or smaller seam allowance.  However, with some of these specialty rulers, there's no room for forgiveness.  It's their way or the highway!  

This one might call for a bright green variegated thread for quilting, too.  Definitely something bright (like me!)

This was made using my 60 degree triangle ruler. I have another top in the works, using the same concept of sewing strips together and then cutting out triangles that will be made into stars. Made the quilting appointment today for January 21. I've decided to keep the top and bottom as is and not cut off the points. Getting the binding on this one will certainly be interesting!

And finally, a version of the Tennessee Waltz block (I believe that's the correct name) using my peaky and spike rulers.  I love this top - I've been working on this one for at least two years.  I tend to sew the various stages of 4-patches together in between other projects rather than use the same piece of fabric over and over as my leader.

So now you've seen some of what I've done with my "specialty" rulers.  I won't even go into the shapes and sizes of my "regular" rulers, we could be here all night!  I love my rulers and use each and every one.  My original Quilter's Ruler is long gone, however.  The poor girl was old and tired but offered many hours of unlimited use.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It's Quilted!

I picked up my quilt yesterday.  Thank you to Gwynette in NW Arkansas for giving me the inspiration of using variegated green thread, it was perfect!

I don't always have an idea of what pattern or thread I want to use until I get to the quilter and see what they have to offer.

I had seen this pattern on another quilt and knew this had to be it, especially where I couldn't get it out of my head!

I do tend to go for colors that are bright (like me!) but I know I would have looked at purple first so I appreciate having the idea of green - saved me oodles of time!  I think the person helping me pick out the thread thought I was nuts because she pulled all purples and sort of shrugged when I pulled green.  I think I saw another small shrug when I poo-poohed the purples she had and proudly announced it was the green I wanted.

Unfortunately, she wasn't there when I picked up the quilt because I was hoping to hear her reaction when she unfolded it for me.  Luckily, I had three other on-lookers who all said "oooh - love the green".  I just love that ooooh moment - such a good feeling!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!!

Once again, the dining room is open!

Believe it or not, this is still neat and orderly as I'm only working on one project at the moment.  Usually, I tend to work on 3 - 4 at one time.  I think I need to add more organization skills to my resolution list.  

At work, I'm very organized, everything has a place and everything is in its place.  At home, especially with my sewing area, all those rules somehow get thrown out the window.  This year, I'm determined to get it all under control.  The tricky part?  Getting everyone else in the household on the same page!!!

This project uses the X-Block ruler by Quilt Queen Designs.  I've already made the largest size but thought I'd try one using one of the smaller rulers.  Still need to sew the last two rows together, and then think about borders.  In fact, I'm thinking I may add a row of snail tails all the way around in the light and dark teal.

Last night I managed to sew another binding on, but still need to tack it down in the back.  I have those mini binder clips holding down the binding for me.  I was at work one day and forgot to bring pins with me to hold my binding down.  I had tins of these things and thought I'd borrow a few so I could work on it at lunch.  I haven't looked back since!

I had started this two years ago.  Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to finish it before Christmas but at least I'll have it ready for next year!

Jake, the ol' boy wanted to be in on the picture too.

I went to my favorite LQS today to buy binding for this guy.

I hope to make the binding and get it attached either tonight or tomorrow.

I have the binding made for this gal, below.

This is a Turning Twenty pattern.  Anyone familiar with a Turning Twenty knows how big they are.  For goodness sake, you're using 20 FQ's, of course it's going to be huge!  What I liked most about this pattern is how the sashing helps to control the randomness of the many fabrics.  

I had a lot of fun with this one.  This is a pattern called Twisty Cakes by Kimberly M. Camou.  This pattern uses a layer cake (hence the name Twisty Cakes).  I still have a layer cake with S'more snowmen on them that I plan to use with this pattern.  It's not on my spreadsheet because I haven't actually cut into it yet.  I have to finish at least three more old UFO's before I can even think about cutting into anything new that's not related to an upcoming class.

Speaking of upcoming classes...

This is one of the new Bali Pops called Grasshopper.  It is absolutely yummy!  I had a hard time picking out fabrics because each and every one is to die for!  The fact that they named them all after food and now drinks is ingenious.  Seriously, you can't get enough, they're never filling and you don't gain weight!  Now, if I could find a dessert like that, I'd be a millionaire!  

I tend to go for dark backgrounds so I chose this dark purple batik to go with the greens and purples of the Grasshopper group.  They will be used in a pattern by Cozy Home Designs called Yin Yang.  

I have another X-Block top started for yet another class so I've decided to finish that first before I start cutting into this one but I just had to open up the Bali Pop so I could stroke all the lovely fabrics.  I'll admit, there may be a little drool, but who wouldn't drool a little?  It won't be easy trying to restrain from the temptation for just a little taste, but I must be strong.  After all, good things come to those who wait... right?