Mar 29, 2012

Star Formation Quilt Update

I have all 50 of my scrappy star blocks finished!! Now on to sashing and cornerstones and setting triangles. I can't wait to get this top completed. I am having a great time working on it. 

Mar 28, 2012

Sewing Tools

I am a firm believer that the right tool makes the job so much easier. I am a gadget girl and all of my friends know it. One of my favorite things to do at a quilt show is to check out the new tools the vendors have. 

I use my gadgets too. I have a bobbin holder that I love. It is one of those rubber donut things that holds about 20 or so bobbins and keeps them from unwinding and getting into a  big tangled mess in the drawer. There are other options-the bobbin tower, bobbin buddies, bobbin cases, etc-but this is one that works for me. I tried MANY seam rippers until I found just the one that felt right in my hand. I have many, many rulers in all shapes and sizes-each with a specific purpose. I know I could get by with just a few, but when I am squaring up a half-square triangle block or making a kaleidoscope block, having a special ruler makes the job so much easier. 

Knowing that I love gadgets, my friend Anne sent me an awesome birthday gift~a nose hair trimmer. Now, I know what you are thinking and you could not be further from the truth. I do not have any nose hairs that need trimming. :) Anne has discovered that this little gadget is the most awesome seam ripper ever! If you just pick a couple of stitches at the beginning of a seam, then you can take out the rest of the seam in the blink of an eye with this nifty nose hair trimmer-I mean, seam ripper. I was a little skeptical to begin with, but it really is awesome.  And you don't have to worry about it tearing a hole in your fabric either-it only rips the threads you want to remove. 

If you are a gadget girl like me, you really need to invest in a new seam ripper (AKA nose hair trimmer) of your own.

Mar 25, 2012

Shop Hop

Friday had all the makings of a great day. Spending the day with a friend, shopping at four quilt shops and having lunch out! There was a shop hop in our area and we decided to check out some of the shops that were not in our "neck of the woods." 

For me the highlight of the shop hop was the fact that at one shop there was a "you must be present to win" drawing every 20 minutes and they drew my name while I was still in the shop! I won a free quilt book! 

I am a huge fan of Blackbird Designs. Their applique patterns are GORGEOUS! So, when I saw this book as one of my choices, I was thrilled to take it home with me. :) 

What a great day, huh? Think it can't get any better? I didn't think so either until my friend, Judy presented me with a birthday gift! How sweet and thoughtful! And she even made me something-now, that's really sweet, isn't it?

This pin cushion is made on the lid of a canning jar that is the perfect size to hold your thread. She also gave me the little sign to hang in my quilt room.

All of my friends have lavished me with wonderful birthday gifts this year-they spoil me so rotten. I am having a whole birth-month, instead of just a birth-day. I am just the luckiest girl ever. 

Mar 21, 2012

Ella's Baby Quilt

In that same issue of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine there was another quilt I wanted to make. The difference is-this one had a deadline. My daughter was pregnant and this pattern just cried out to be the next baby quilt. 

Now and Later quilt from October 2011 
American Patchwork and Quilting magazine

My daughter is as much into light and bright colors as I am into muted hues. She picked out Gypsy Bandana designed by Pillow and Maxfield for Michael Miller. Here is the paisley print she fell in love with!

The quilt was really easy to assemble-lots of chain piecing and slicing. The top went together quickly. I quilted it on my Bernina with a preset wavy stitch that crossed back and forth over "the ditch". When it came time to quilt the border I moved to my HQ Sweet Sixteen. I decided that a swirly flower would be cute in the border, so I made my own pattern and traced it on with an air-disappearing pen. It took me all afternoon and into the evening to mark the borders, adjusting for corners. I was so pleased with myself and the next day I was going to take the quilt with me to show a friend how I was going to stitch the borders. I walked into my quilt room the next morning and SCREAMED in horror! All of my hard work tracing the border had air-disappeared over night!! I wanted to cry-I was so disappointed! 

I remarked the border and stitched immediately. I had learned my lesson. :) I am still learning to use my Sweet Sixteen-keeping stitches as even as possible and following a pattern. I was very pleased with the way the quilt came out and it suits little miss Ella to a tee.

Mar 19, 2012

Star Formation Quilt

Every now and then I find a quilt pattern that I have to make RIGHT NOW.  When I got my October 2011 American Patchwork and Quilting magazine I fell in love with the quilt on the cover.  I love star blocks and I love scrappy quilts, so what was not to love about this one?

I have been "collecting" Kansas Troubles fabrics for years and years and I knew they would be perfect for this project.  The quilt measures 74 X 88"-about the max size I am willing to tackle. There are 50 8" star blocks-each block has 8 HST (half square triangles) and 8 2" squares.  Doing the math, I realized that I was going to be making 400 HST for this quilt!  Good thing I like to make them.  :)

Lots of people make HST using Thangles. Others cut triangles and sew them together.  I like to cut two squares, draw a line diagonally across them, stitch on either side of the diagonal line, and then cut down the center. My favorite HST tool is Eleanor Burns' triangle square up ruler. After I cut my square in half, I use the ruler to square up my block before I press it open. Perfect HST every time.

I like to cut all my fabric before I start a project. I spent hours at the cutting table cutting 871 squares for this quilt. Next I sewed, squared up and pressed all 400 of the HST. Now all I have to do is lay out the 16 units needed per block and sew. Each block takes me about 20 minutes to complete. By having all of the components of the block finished, they roll off of the assembly line easily. 

I was making great progress on my quilt for several weeks.  Even though I had a very busy schedule I managed to get into my sewing room to make at least one block every day. I had 28 blocks made and was so pleased with how it looked on my design wall.  Then the holidays arrived and all quilting came to a screeching halt. After that I seemed to have lost my momentum and was more interested in an applique project in progress.  Today I got back into my quilt room and I made eight more blocks.  Now I am up to 36 now and only have 14 to go.  Hmmm...I'm hoping by the end of the week I may have all 50 blocks made.  Then it's  on to sashing, cornerstones, setting triangles.  I have never made a quilt set on point before, so I am looking forward to this new challenge.  Check back soon for progress pics. I want to get this top finished because I have another UFO that is really nagging at me to complete. More about it later. 

I hope mine looks this good when it's finished!

Here are my 36 blocks! Yeah!

Mar 17, 2012

A Local Quilt Show

Quilt shows are a wonderful source of inspiration. Between the gorgeous quilts on display and the vendors selling everything a quilter needs, you come away from a quilt show excited and ready to start a new project. 

Today I attended a local quilt show put on by a small guild. The quilts were wonderful-made by very talented ladies. I am in totally in love with applique right now and so I was drawn to the many applique quilts there. I snapped pictures of a few of them to share here.

I love the bright colors of this quilt.

This black background is stunning.

This is the exact same quilt pattern as the 
picture above. I love the completely different 
look because of color choice and border design. 

This simple checkerboard border 
ties the whole quilt together.

A great combination of pieced and appliqued.

This quilt, done predominately in black,
and the next two, done in other colorways,
again show how different a quilt can look
depending on fabric choice.

This one has different flowers in the
baskets and no applique in the border.

Though also done in darker tones, 
this quilt has a soft look.

The show was small, with only a handful of vendors but the great quilts made the trip worthwhile. I am ready to get back to my own applique project now. 

Mar 16, 2012

Summer's Last Bloom-the golds

I mentioned in a previous post that I was doing a block swap with friends.  We are having such a great time with it. 

I have my gold blocks sewn together from months three and four.  When I get the last pair from months five and six I will post them too. 

Mar 11, 2012

A Grammy's Gotta Brag

I love my granddaughters. Each one of them is so special to me and each one owns a little piece of my heart. I love that their personalities and interests are all their own. So, now and then, like all grandmothers, I have to brag about my little girls.

Katelyn, my oldest, is 8 and so energetic and enthusiastic about everything in life. Last Spring she played soccer for the first time ever. She was a little hesitant at first, maybe even a little afraid that she might get kicked or take a ball to the face. But, as the season progressed, so did her confidence and her skills. She played again in the Fall and was an awesome scorer for her team-many times scoring the only goals and bringing her team to a victory. 

It is Spring again and once more it is soccer time. This season Katie is being joined on the team by her sister, Emily, age 6. This is Emily's first time to play and she has brought her excitement with her. Yesterday was their first game. Katelyn scored the first goal and Emily the second one! The tradition continues! Next Saturday we will all be there to watch as our girls take the field. 

I love being Grammy!

Emily, Katelyn and their sister, Madison
ready for their first game of the season

Mar 10, 2012

Sewing and Quit Expo

Yesterday my youngest daughter (along with her three girls) and I went to the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo in Atlanta. I love quilt shows and though this one does not have a lot of quilts to look at, there are some really nice vendors.  This show is geared more for sewing-in October there is another show in Atlanta where the focus is more on quilting. 

Hands down, my favorite vendor at this show (or ANY show where they are) is Primitive Gatherings!!! Lisa Bongean is sheer primitive genius! I love her fabric, her wool, her books-everything!! When I visit her booth at a show I WANT IT ALL :) Yesterday was no exception. And Lisa is such a sweetheart. She always has time to chat with you and talk about her latest project. This time we talked about my granddaughter, Sofie, and her recent discovery of sewing. Lisa was kind enough to look at pictures of Sofie sewing and even gave her a 2" charm pack of her very own for her next project! If Lisa wasn't already my fave, she would be now. What better way to win a Grammy's heart than to show such kindness to her grandchild?

Since we got home Sofie has been anxious to sew. We will be starting on a new project today with her charm pack. It is so fun to pass along my love of quilting!

Lisa Bongean and Sofie

Mar 7, 2012

Quilting with Friends

I love a good block swap.  Quilting with friends is the best! Right now I am trading blocks every month with 4 friends.  None of these friends lives nearby.  One is in South Carolina, one is in Michigan, the third is in Illinois (and moving to Washington) and the fourth one lives in England! Every month I get 2 blocks from each of them in the mail. The beginning of every month I start stalking my mailbox.  I love getting quilting mail.  :)

We are making this quilt from the cover of the Fall 2011 Primitive Quilts and Projects magazine.  It's called Summer's Last Bloom and was designed by Lynne Hagmeier of Kansas Troubles Quilters. 

If you've never done a block swap with friends, you don't know what you're missing.  Before we started we decided on our "swap rules" and monthly mailing dates.  We are now into our 7th month and have 5 more to go.  We will finish our last blocks in August and swap them when we all get together in September. We are doing needleturn applique and everyone is doing a great job!

Summer's Last Bloom 
This is the picture of the full quilt from the inside of the magazine.

The first 2 months we swapped blocks with red blooms.  Here is what they looked like  on my design wall when I sewed each of them together.  I am "auditioning" buttons, so these  are just pinned on.  

I will show more of this quilt as it progresses.  In the meantime, I am hanging out at the mailbox these days. :)

Mar 5, 2012

Paying It Forward

Sewing is a way of life in my family. My mom's mom sewed. A lot! She had a guest bedroom that she turned into a sewing room and it reached the point that you could no longer tell there was a bed in there under all that fabric.  She was a woman after my own heart.  

My mom sewed too.  She made drapes for the house and clothes for me.  I remember going to sleep at night to the hum of her sewing machine and waking up in the morning to find a new dress hanging on my closet door to wear to school that day. Those were the wonderful days of innocent childhood where I had no idea how many hours my mom had put into that dress!

When I was 14 I took home ec in junior high school.  We cooked, learned how to be better baby sitters, and we sewed.  I was in heaven.  My mom had already started teaching me to sew at home, so I was thrilled to have even more time to create at school.  By the time I was in high school I was proficient enough to make most of my own clothes.  I was even teaching some of my friends to sew. I was hooked!

When my children were small I continued to sew.  I made dresses for my daughters, curtains for our homes, and lots of craft items.  Once my children were grown my sewing interests changed and quilting became my focus.  

Both of my daughters sew.  I taught them some basics when they were living at home, but they have taken that and run with it.  Both of them dream up new ideas, create their own patterns and dive right in to make whatever strikes their fancy.  And then they blog about it!  You can see my daughters' projects here and here. Such talented ladies!

Fast forward many years and now I have granddaughters.  I decided that since I live nearby it would be fun to pass my love of quilting on to them.  Katelyn is the oldest and so she was the first to sew.  I even bought a "Hello Kitty" sewing machine for the girls to learn on.  

Here is Katelyn, age 4, in 2007

Recently Sofia (granddaughter #4) has taken an interest in sewing. So, after sitting her in my lap for a bit of sewing on my machine, we decided it was time for Hello Kitty to make an appearance again.  

My daughter even blogged about Sofia making this little quilt. Here is the link to Sofia, age 3 1/2 making a quilt for her Curious George.

I know that my granddaughters will continue to sew as they grow. They are surround by their mothers' creativity at home and they love to be in my quilt room when they visit our home, too.  Someday I bet they have sewing machines of their own and will be teaching their own daughters to sew.  

Mar 3, 2012

A Little Mini

I have granddaughters.  Six of them, to be exact! You would think that by this stage of the game I would be well versed in doll quilts. But, truth be told, I have only made a few.  The girls have always loved a Barbie doll more than a baby doll and I am NOT making doll quilts tiny enough for Barbie! Recently, American Girl dolls have made an appearance in our family and this is where the doll quilts have come in. My oldest granddaughter, Katelyn, has Lanie and wanted a canopy bed with curtains, so I made this bedding and quilt for her.  She was thrilled.  

These quilt blocks were so easy because they were made from corner triangles that I cut off of a larger quilt I was making.

Emily picked out a different bed for her doll, Josephina, and liked the horse-themed bedding that came with it, so no doll quilt was required for her.
Madison's birthday was next and she picked Julie, a 1970's girl, for her American Girl doll. She wanted the same bed as her sister, Katelyn, but with a twist. I strung the beads and made the simple patchwork quilt in fabrics that just cried out 70's.

This little doll quilt, 16X22" fits the bed perfectly

I decided the other day that I am ready to try my hand at some mini quilts. I have purchased patterns for some of Lori Smith's small quilts and can't wait to make them. I also recently purchased a very small kit and decided to take a break from what I was working on and make it. This went together very quickly and I am tickled with the results. I think I see a lot more minis in my future.

This little mini is a kit I bought at Sweet Home Quilt Company.  
They call it Scrappy Patches.