Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Last Day of March

We have had some gorgeous Spring like days recently.  No complaints excepted that I would rather have had lots of constant rain so the lake would fill up for boating season.  Guess you just can't have it all.

I have not really done any quilting for the last two days, but I have been filing and doing paperwork centered on personal, charitable, and business quilting.  For my personal quilting, I have only spent $21.32 for fabric for quilts that I had already started previous to 2010.  Wedding and baby quilt gifts fabric and batting added up to $350 + $20 for patterns.  Quilting Dreams expenses are up to $280 and include a techniques class, several design books, equipment maintenance, thread to practice my techniques and build my confidence, plus the ever present business insurance payments. Finally, my charitable contributions of fabrics, batting and thread are up to $200, even though I have used a lot of my personal stash.  The reality is that quilting is not an inexpensive hobby or business, but I do love the fact that during the first 3 months of the year, I have kept my personal purchases to a bare minimum and have still managed to complete quite a few quilts.

This afternoon I am going to be working on some strings blocks and thinking about what more I will need to do to get ready to facilitate the HeartStrings workshop for our guild in May.  These blocks are very simple to make, so there is a lot of time for thinking.  I should be able to complete at least one top today.

The sun is shining and the temps are tempting me to go outside for a little.  Then it is head down and power up.  Hope all of you are having a successful day doing what you are passionate about!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Working on Our Life Quilts

Yesterday I spent time with a friend working on our life quilts --- We never lifted a needle, but we worked with great care on our life quilts where one comment or visual lead to another and then the offer of another thought.  Through it all, the stitching continued.  We talked about fabric, techniques, family, the idea of prejudice, loving spouses, the news of the day, our life journeys, and our wonderful meal choices. We had come together so that I could pass on some embroidery I had done for her and then share lunch.  That could have been accomplished in an hour, but somehow being quilters generally means that the process takes triple the time.  What a glorious way to spend an afternoon!  It was the second time this week that I contemplated how I was adding special little touches to my life quilt simply by spending time sharing with a good friend.  My life quilt will never be complete as long as I have breathe, but I love all the additions and modifications I continue to make on it. 
I encourage everyone to think about what they have put into their life quilts -- I believe I need to put the joy, sadness, smiles, tears, happiness, regrets, friendships, faith, questions, pride, effort, goals, beliefs, rejections, loneliness, righteous anger, fierce love, light, dark, and every feeling and color in between to make an absolutely spectacular life quilt.  The quilter in me knows that you need light, dark and medium to create a real work of art.  My life quilt is still developing and changing, but it is already a wonderful work of art.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another Finished Practice Quilt

I took the class offered by my guild during our quilt show in February, this year.  The pattern is Canyon Dance designed by Tracy Trevethan, who taught the class.  Everyone brought their own fabrics and purchased the pattern and templates from Tracy.  Each block is made up of 5 curved pieces.  Everyone in the class had different color way and set their blocks as they chose.  My fabrics are from my stash.  The only rules I used in selecting them were that they needed to be pink or green and had to have enough to make several blocks.  Once the blocks were finished I did a number of different layouts and decided that I like this version the best.  Piecing this one was much easier that doing the Canyon Waves quilt (done in May and June of last year) because I used a curve master foot.  Even so, I would not say that I fully mastered this technique, and some pieces will probably be a little twisted after washing, but I enjoyed being with my quilting friends and making the blocks.
Quilting it was another adventure.  Recently I learned a lot more about using a pantograph to quilt, so as my third attempt on a larger quilt I did a panto called Watercourse which I purchased from Willow Leaf Studio.  It appeared to be fairly simple, but I had difficulties in keeping the curves smooth and the points sharp , as well as, out of other lines of the design.  Afterwards I discussed it with another quilter and came the the conclusion that I needed to go faster and stay smooth even if I can't stay right on the line.  If I were to use this panto again, I would make the points slighting shorter, as well so that I don't have the same problem with crossing the lines of the design.  Great learning experience and fun quilt. 
  Is it customer quality?  No it is not, but if I were to make it again, I am certain that I would make the corrections to make it be a piece I would be willing to sell.  I am practicing my skills, honing my craft, and making fun quilts that will be used by friends and grandkids.  These people always make lovely comments about my work and are not judging the parts individually.  They see the love and the coziness.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Plans for the Week

I truly enjoy my life, and look forward to the start of each day.  At one point I thought it would be very hard not teaching math (no jobs available when we arrived in the area), but I love what I am doing right now!
  • I have a quilt in the machine and plan to have it finished today with the binding attached and ready to be handstitched by bedtime. 
  • Tomorrow my friend and I will be sharing our knowledge of how to make beautiful designs on our HandiQuilters. (We try to do this several times a month --- I have learned so much from all this sharing.)
  • The wedding quilt is progressing.  I forgot to get the border fabric when I purchased everything, so we travelled to several wonderful quilt shops yesterday and were fortunate enough to have found just the right piece.  The goal is to have the top finished before Monday.
  • Water exercises (Monday through Friday) ----LOVE GOING!!!!
  • Going out to lunch and meeting with a client about some embroidery on Friday.
  • Work at the quilt shop several days, but since I love fabrics and talking to other quilters it reall is not a chore.
  • Dinner party for 15-25 on Saturday.  Lasagna and mandarin salad on the menu.
  • Guess I will have to dust and vacumm, too. 

Shamrocks from my STASH of Leftovers

I realize that St. Patrick's Day has passed, but I did finish my two shamrock quilts last week and want to share.  I did not purchase anything new to make these - what does that say about the size of my stash considering every bit of the tops are made with shamrock fabric? (Maybe it is the luck of the Irish that I had enough?)  The small one with the bright green back is not any pattern or even well thought out as far as fabric placement, but it was my test piece for trying the shamrock panto quilting design.  Already have been using it to take the chill off on a cool Minnesota evening.  It will probably make it into the boat bag in May for those cooler evenings on the water.  The other quilt is made using the Yellow Brick Road pattern and quilted with the shamrock design as well (makes the quilt soft and light).  My spouse pointed out that the backing fabric looked like spilled green beer.  (Still laughing, but he is right.) I finished the binding on Saturday morning at the motel.  By 2:00, my grandchildren were already using it.   I think it will look great on the end of a bed or even as a tent for my dear grandkids.   I make quilts to be used and loved. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One Down, One Ready for the Car, and Another WILL BE Finished Today

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all the Irish and the Irish-Wanna-Bes!  I finished binding one of my two shamrock quilts last night.  I have my quilt-as-you-go ready for the hand sewing in the car (6 hours of work and it will be ready for the next phase), and today I am spending the day quilting and attaching the binding to my larger shamrock quilt made with the Yellow Brick Road pattern.  This is real progress.  Watch for photos soon!

Last night I discovered that I have two more baby quilts that need to be finished by August (a cousin quilt and a Great-Auntie quilt).  So exciting!  One will come directly from the stash, but I am not certain about the other.  Time to think on it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fabric Thoughts on a Rainy Tuesday Morning

I AM HAVING A BLAST PLAYING IN MY FABRICS!!!!   I have been busy with cleaning, sorting, and reorganizing my studio, and of course trying to sew daily.  In this year of stash busting, I have discovered that I have enough UFOs and just plain-old-like-it fabric to last for several years, AT LEAST.  However, I have reduced the unfinished quilt tops, have started to quilt them, and have found so many ways to use my creativity.  As I move through the year, I will try to update this list each month just so everyone can see the progress.

I did make one purchase of new fabric that I will not be counting in my non-buying of fabric year.  My niece is going to receive a wedding quilt in the next few months, and I had not planned a queen-sized brown quilt into the fabrics found in my stash.  I like browns but could never have found enough to make a brown quilt, even with my large stash.  =0)  This one is going to be made of batiks.

Quilt tops finished:
  • two shamrock fabric quilts, one lap and the other twin-size - one quilted and the other on the machine ready to go - binding will go on tomorrow in honor of St. Patrick's day
  • 2 simple, but cozy flannel baby quilts with backs and batting ready for quilting
  • 1 baby floor quilt with batting and back ready for quilting
  • 1 twin-size Canyon Dance with back and batting ready to quilt
  • 1 queen-sized Christmas fabric strip-pieced quilt with back and batting ready to quilt
  • 3 small wall hangings with back and batting ready to quilt
  • 1 Noah's ark quilt with embroidered animals along with it's back and batting ready to quilt
  • Dad and my 4 seasons quilt needs just 2 more border strips and it will be ready to quilt - back and batting already prepared - half hour to put the borders on

UFOs that still need lots of tender, loving effort:
  • Christmas BOM center blocks finished but have not added borders or started quilting----back is ready
  • 2 bright blue, yellow, and green lap or baby floor quilts -- have to connect the blocks and borders ---on design wall
  • 1 quilt-as-you-go lap quilt that will be finished over the next month - it is a car project  ---- blocks are done, only the hand sewing of the sashing is left, but it will not look like a quilt until it is all sashed, so I count this as needing lots of tender, loving care
  • 2 redwork angel block quilts - blocks embroidered and sashing/borders /back chosen
  • 1 Christmas embroidered blocks quilt - nothing specifically selected to go with them as of yet
  • 1 stash-based, foundation-pieced log cabin quilt using a variety of strip sizes - 1/3 of blocks are completed, foundations and red centers are cut
  • 1 rail fence lap quilt using stash strips - 1/2 blocks made (would be finished but it got lost at the bottom of the stash strips container)
  • Texas sampler quilt - have the fabric and even a finishing kit, but have not touched since we lived in Texas 6 years ago
  • Paducah show booth hop quilt - have materials but have not even thought about it since attending the show in 2008
  • Deb and my batik challenge quilt - have fabrics and a tentative plan, but...........
  • Several more baseball quilts using squares and strips left from making two others for my grandsons (Boy did I get crazy buying that fabric - Grandma privilege or senility????)
  • 1 foundation-pieced queen-sized Christmas fabric quilt with 12 blocks finished
  • purse made of fabric strips - 1/2 way finished
  • blue and white bundles and yardage received for Christmas, 2009 (have a possible plan in mind for a queen-size quilt)
  • My guilds fat quarter sampler quilt with additional blocks to make it a queen-size using state blocks for each state I have lived in during my life
  • BOM that I am doing with my daughter - on schedule to be finished in December for a quilting date over the holidays
  • Mystery quilt made with bright blue, an overall bright floral, and brightly colored butterflies on white fabric - the fabric is from my stash and I have 4 steps of the pattern collected
Along with all of this, I have been getting more involved with the HeartStrings Quilt Project, and just finished another thank you quilt for a military spouse.  Quilting is my pleasure and passion, so I am going to make the most of my treasures.

Have I purchased any fabric this year?  Honesty makes me admit to the fact that I have, but all of it has gone directly into projects that were already underway before the new year.

Have I purchased other quilting items? Yes, but all have been directed at becoming a better long-arm quilter.  As I finish my UFOs I will now have other designs for quilting and the skills to make it happen.  The shamrock quilts will be quilted with shamrocks, actually have one done!  I have also practiced some other designs using less expensive fabrics and the tiny leftover scraps of fabric and batting to make dog beds for rescued animals.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Going to a Strong, Supportive Military Spouse

I have done and will still do Quilts of Valor for our service members, but I know a young woman who is doing just as much by being strong and supportive of her husband and the work that he does so well.  I decided to send her this small token to let her know that what she does to make his job easier is greatly appreciated.  As a military spouse of almost 30 years, myself, I know about many of the challenges she faces, and I admire her heart and soul for allowing her spouse to do his job no matter what it takes.  To all other service spouses, thank you for what you are doing, too.  I pray for all of you and your spouses every day.
This lap quilt will be on its way to Kansas on Wednesday.  Hope the different fabrics will bring her smiles and feel like a warm hug from someone who cares very much about all that she is going to experience on her journey with her wonderful military spouse.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Little More about the Fat Quarter Sampler Quilt

I was talking to my niece and asked if she would find it interesting to know the name of each of the blocks I have made.  I decided that I would put all that I have made, up to this point, for this quilt in one blog.  After this, I will name them as I go.
Although the photos make a few look like then are not square or rectangular, it is simply the way they were photographed.  I have 10 more types to make and then 4 inch even stars.  Only one is applique.  I am planning to me the quilt larger, so I may add another applique and a 9-patch, and some duplicates of others.  Does anyone know of any blocks called South Dakota, Virginia, Texas, Iowa, Missouri, California, South Carolina, Kansas, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, or Maine?
I have a busy week and will be spending time ma finishing some quilting on my shamrock quilt, a consignment quilt and a couple of comfort quilts.  If time permits I want to attach several binds so that I can work on them as we travel to see family later in the month. 
From top to bottom:
1. Evening Star - three 8 inch blocks
2. Dutchman's Puzzle
3. Log Cabin - actually 4 blocks
4.  Windmill - 6 of 7 finished blocks
5. Cypress
6. Card Trick
7. Pinwheels
8. Flying geese - 12 blocks
9. Louisiana

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Blocks for Fat Quarter Sampler: Guild Project

I started this Block of the Month with my guild. It is from the Quiltmaker magazine, Sept, 06-Feb,07 and is called "Fat Quarter Sampler" by Carolyn Beam.  As  a group we are going to take 13 months to complete the quilt top, but I can't wait that long, so I am going to work ahead, once I get caught up with what we are supposed to be this month.  I already have more blocks made than required because I am making all the blocks of each type when I am assigned only a few.  I don't thing the picture does the fabric justice, but in person, it is all good.  The placement of the blocks on the wall are not in keeping with their placement in the quilt.  The original quilt is twin-size, but I am going to add enough blocks so it will be a queen-size when I am finished.  This is not a normal color palette for me, but I am enjoying the look.  Most of the fabrics are from the "Angels Among Us" collection put out by Benatrex.  The rest of the colors are from other Nancy Halverson's collection with Benatrex or Shadow Play from Maywood Studios.  My personal goal is to have the top finished by November, and have it quilted by December.