Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Follow the Quest!

So where did that name "Quilting Quest" come from? I don't know, something mundane probably, but it immediately makes me think of King Arthur! I participated in my first quest last week. Had to get to 10 different far flung shops in 5 days. I actually only had 4, due to other commitments. I do other things besides quilting - imagine that! Plus one of the days was Sunday and a few of the shops were closed. That kind of bothered me; if you're going to go through the trouble of participating as a shop you should be open for the whole event. It's hard enough to figure out how to get to the shops during the regular working hours, dealing with rush hour traffic - around here almost every hour of every day! - , and planning a route so you're not criss-crossing too badly. The Quest is free, IF you don't count the cost of gas. And I don't know about you, but it's really, really hard not to walk into a shop with all that yummy fabric and not buy something! Yes, I know that's the point. I found the backing fabric for THE WEDDING QUILT. It's like that in my head now - all caps. Not shouting, imagine a deep, important sounding voice. The piecing is done for the top and I've started basting the quilt sandwich together. I should be able to start the actual quilting before Thanksgiving! Whoo - hoo! It's only 2 years in; my daughter may get it before her 10th anniversary. You never know though, I am hand quilting.

For this quest Jinny Beyer designed a quilt pattern. The only way to get the pattern was to go to all the shops. Each one had one part of it. It is amazing to see how the same design can change due to fabric choices! The quilts went from looking modern with bright jewel colors (Jinny's) to beautiful country colors, very fall-like. Stupid me didn't bring her camera so I can't show you pictures. But you can go to the following link and see them there.  www.quiltersquest.com I did complete the quest, no grail, but now I have a new pattern and maybe I'll win some great prizes!

I even got my hubby to go with me to four shops on Saturday. Can you say Road Trip? He had ulterior motives - visiting gun and ammo shops. Nothing like a little quilting and shooting! Actually, I'm planning on doing that - the quilting not the shooting! My husband sometimes participates in Cowboy Action Shooting matches. It's just what it sounds like. People dress up as cowboys or cowgirls, and shoot in different scenarios. Like pretending they are in a saloon. There's always a story and they shoot at targets. Great fun to watch, the shooting and the people. Not to worry, they are all about safety too. They even have a mounted shooting  group. They shoot blanks at balloons (otherwise it wouldn't be safe for spectators) while on horseback. Accuracy and going through the course fast are important. Hmmm . . .  it's kind of like cross-country horseback on steroids! Some go all out on their costumes. Anyway, next year I'm planning on bringing my quilting. I can sit with a hoop, quilt, and watch the proceedings. If I put on a prairie dress, I'll even be part of the fun! Even a shootout can sa(y) quilts!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Time Flies

I was recently reminded by a dear friend that I have been absolutely remiss in posting to my blog. My response was completely defensive - because she was right! I don't feel like I'm much of a writer, but she pointed out to me that that wasn't necessarily the only reason people read blogs. I'm very grateful to her. So let me try to catch up on what I've been doing.

First of all, I hope everyone had a great Halloween. I kind of miss my kids being around. All the hectic fun of costumes and decorations. I didn't do much in the way of decorations. I thought about doing it a lot though. The entire thought of getting a ladder out to get into the attic to get to the decorations - well you get the idea. However, I did see a really cute pattern for fabric pumpkins. With the cost of pumpkins climbing - Is there anything out there that is getting cheaper?! - the idea of an everlasting decoration was appealing. It also is not plastic! I just cannot get into the plastic decorated jack-o-lanterns. Some are cute, yes, and they will last forever for sure. Can't you just imagine what some poor archeologist in the future will find? They won't have to be content with little shards of things that look like rock. With all the plastic they'll see the whole thing. Yikes! Anyway, I did make 2 of the little pumpkins.

They are super easy to make. Sew up a rectangular bag, my large one was 10" by 21". Sew a basting thread around the opening. Fill the bottom with beans or pellets (there's that plastic again!), about a 1 1/2 cups for the large. Add a tablespoon or so of cloves - you want it to smell nice don't you? Then fill it the rest of the way with fiber fill (Is that plastic again? I'm not sure.) Pull up the basting threads to close the top leaving a small hole. Tie securely. Insert a cinnamon stick in the hole and using a glue gun, glue it in place. Using embroidery floss wrap in quadrants to make it look like a pumpkin. Wrap these tightly, you want it to pull in. Add some artificial leaves and glue them down. With your hands shape it a bit, pushing in the bottom to round it out. Viola! You have a pumpkin. 

I've also been working a bit on some quilts. The latest on finished is for a friend - one day I will keep one of my quilts - for her 60th birthday. Of course, I didn't get it done on time for her party, but this way her birthday lasts much longer. I'm personally a strong believer in birthday weeks not just one measly day.
My friend adores Scottie dogs so this was perfect. I had actually purchased the pattern years ago when I first started quilting. It was supposed to be for a beginning quilter. Thank the Lord I didn't try it then. I never would have continued quilting! Having been at this for awhile now, I was able to put it together despite some rather complicated instructions. It came with templates that I completely ignored. I took the template sizes and translated it into strip piecing with my rotary cutter. Much faster and much easier. I was also able to make the half-square triangles by putting squares together and then cutting them in half diagonally, so I didn't have to worry about bias edges. I have a hard enough time getting sizes correct without having to worry about a stretchy bias.

Time for me to go back to sewing. Sometimes it's not what I see, but what someone says that makes me sa(y) quilts!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Quilt of my own

I've made quite a few quilts now, not that I'd call myself prolific. There are those wonderful people out there that seem to be able to churn out quilts. I don't mean this in a derogatory way at all. I am amazed at how fast they can put together the most beautiful quilts. Me, I'm a snail. Sometimes it seems to take me nigh on forever to complete a quilt. Ask my kids. I don't think I've ever completed a quilt on time as a gift for them. Bless them, but I knew they would understand - mostly- when their quilt was a little late. A really good example, my daughter's wedding quilt. She is being most tolerant of me. She's been married 3 years now and has given me a gorgeous granddaughter. Does she have her quilt? No. Though I give her regular updates and have even sent her pictures of the quilt in progress. I've spoken about it here before too. It's moving along, but at that snail's pace. I kid that it will be done by her 10th anniversary. I may not be far off the mark I'm afraid.

Almost all my quilts are gifts for friends or family and were an adaptation of a quilt pattern I've found in a book or magazine. I usually have more than one project going at a time because I like to have machine and hand projects to do. I love to hand quilt. The above mentioned wedding quilt is hand pieced and will be hand quilted. (For the record, I'm now sewing the rows together! It's not picture worthy or else I'd put a picture of it for you right now. Mostly just a mass of pins!) But I've been trying to get comfortable with machine quilting. There are times that a quilt just needs machine quilting, either because of the design or maybe how it was constructed.

I've just completed my first quilt that was completely my idea from start to finish. My church has the most beautiful stained glass behind the altar. There is a special name for it, but for the life of me I've never been able to pronounce it much less spell it. I won't even try here.
Pictures don't do it much justice, but I find it quite inspiring on many different levels. It is meditative and I really wanted to capture it in a quilt. I made a small wall hanging, combining applique and traditional piecing. I hope you like what you see.

Inspiration and beauty are all around us. For me, they all can SA(y) quilts.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I'm Back!

I don't know what it is about this summer, but it's just sliding away from me. Maybe melting is the better term with all the hot weather. I am not a hot weather girl, I much prefer it to be in the 60s or 70s. Eighty and above is too hot already.

All this hot weather has made stuff grow too. No, not in my garden. My poor garden is suffering in this heat too. I mean, the old lady hairs that grow on my chin! How is it that my hair has gone gray, but the old lady hairs are BLACK? What's worse is that I can't see them in my dotage unless I have a magnifying mirror. My husband has to get better at warning me that I have a beard or the beginnings of a goatee. A little notice that " there's a little something on your chin dear" would go a long way. Sometimes I so love getting old.

I had a few long distance birthdays and of course all the graduations to get gifts for this summer. Mostly I go to gift cards for graduations, but I feel guilty about not getting something more personal. I decided that I would make the gift card holders. It's not hard and that way there can be something more personal about it. Here's how you go about it. Anybody can do it. Honest!

1. Cut two pieces of fabric in the shape of a house. The sides of the house are 6" long and the base is 5" wide.  I made myself a cardboard template so I don't have to keep measuring each time I want to do this. Lazy!
I used two coordinating fabrics, but they can be the same or even very different.

2. With right sides together sew around all edges using 1/4" seam allowance leaving a small opening at the bottom so you will be able to turn it right side out. To get a nice point at the top, sew 2 stitches across at the point. Clip the corners to minimize the bulk.

3. Turn right side out, making sure all the seams are pushed out. You can use the blunt end of a chopstick to help make sure that the point is all the way out and to smooth the seams from inside. Fold the opening in as for a knife edge (it will want to do this). Press well.

4.  Top stitch 1/4" in across the bottom to close the opening. At this point you could play with all over stitching of some kind if you want. Since there is no batting it isn't necessary, but it could be fun!
5. Decide which fabric you want to be the inside and place that face up. Fold up the bottom to meet the bottom of the triangle (top of the house).

6. Top stitch all the way around 1/4" in. You will now have a nice pocket.
7. Fold the pointed top down, press, and viola! You have a nice holder for a gift card. You can add a closure to the outside if you like, but I find it isn't necessary.

Hope that helps with all the upcoming birthdays and holidays. Now you have a good excuse to go get cute fabric. Even little items can SA(y) Quilt!

Until next time,

Friday, July 15, 2011

Daffy Drafting

So the other day I was back in my sewing room working on a new project (I can't work on just one project at a time.), my first attempt at designing my own quilt. I design the old fashion way, with graph paper, so it takes awhile. I'd love to own some drafting software. There's one on the market that is so cool. Not only can you do all the drafting of the blocks, but it also has fabric swatches direct from the manufacturers. This is great. Think of it - when you color your blocks in you can use  actual fabric designs to color with. You can really see what your quilt might look like, not just it's colorway. Fantastic! However, I do not own such marvelous software, or any drafting software, so paper and pencils it is. I do have fantastic colored pencils though and my ever present Crayolas. I feel like a kid again when I sit down to draft. All those colored pencils and my 64 colors. Which color do I chose? Burnt Sienna? I've always loved that name. I don't know why. I don't particularly love the color burnt sienna, but oh it sounds so sweet. Or maybe Pine Tree?  Brings you right back to your childhood doesn't it? I hope little kids today get to play with crayons. I just can't wrap my head around a small child running to his mom holding up his iPad (I'm sure there should be a trademark there or something. Imagine it. I can't find that on my word processor program.) and saying, "Mommy, look what I drew!" I'm shaking my head as I type. It's just not the same thing.

I digress. I was in my sewing room preparing a project. Got it all down on paper. This took a few days, people. The idea doesn't always come out on paper the way I think it should look. It has to be tweaked. That means redrawing and then recoloring. If I'm lucky it's just a small portion and I used pencil that could be erased. Along with drawing out the design to scale, I had to figure out how much fabric I needed to make the quilt. Luckily I do have a handy-dandy fabric-calculator that helps me figure that out or I might still be sitting there. After all of that, I get to the really fun part, shopping in my stash. All fabric shopping has to start there. Found most of what I wanted, but then I discovered I really needed a different batik that I didn't have. Oh darn - off to the fabric store!

The fabrics are selected and ironed. This is going to be a wall hanging so I didn't prewash the fabrics. This being my own design, I had to figure out the best way to cut the fabrics. This doesn't sound that hard and I could cut each individual square, but that would really take forever. I prefer to use my rotary cutter and use strips when I can. This design is conducive to that, it's all 2" squares and 2" half-square triangles. I was using a special way of cutting squares to get the triangles. So off I go, cut 2 1/2" strips, cut 2" squares, for the triangles, stack squares, sew across diagonally, then cut in half and viola! you have 2 triangles. BUT, they weren't 2" square, they were smaller.

It took me a whole stack of doing this, before I figured out that I needed those squares to be larger. The ones that would become triangles needed to be 2 7/8" squares. I just know this. NOT! I looked it up, that's why I own a whole library of quilting books. You'd think I would look at them before I cut into the fabric but, no, I don't apparently work that way. I am lucky in that I never buy just the amount of fabric I need for a project, I get a little bit more, so I had enough to redo all the triangles.

Time was lost, sigh, but the project is still going to be able to get done. I'll show you pictures when I get there. I'm still working on the wedding quilt. A lot is getting done because I'm watching the Tour de France (big fan!), so I sit and sew while I watch. Even watching TV can SA(y) Quilts!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What a wonderful life!

What a wonderful life. Went away to the beach for week. Relaxed, met with family, recharged. And came home completely unwilling to plug up to computer again except to look briefly at emails. After all, that's how I communicate with most of the rest of the world! That means that this poor blog has been neglected for too long. My greatest apologies.

But . . . this is not completely bad. I did come back recharged and excited about creating. Of course, real life intervened, keeping me from just diving completely into my fabric stash. That, too, is probably a good thing. (I sound like I'm trying too hard, huh?)

Anyway, I FINISHED the christening gown!

It sort of made it through the cleaners. I had to go back and repair one of the sleeves. That sheer fabric is just so darned old - why do things keep reminding me of that? - it was shredding away from the seam. I thought about it and after some careful hand repair with a needle and thread, I pulled out a trusty 21st century solution - glue! Yep, they make glue for everything and some fine ones for fabric that remain nice and soft after they dry, which is important in a baby item. This one is also supposed to be able to survive dry cleaning later!

I'm proud and pleased that I was able to make this gown, but I really wanted to get back to quilting. I did a quick little project for a young friend of mine with a new Kindle.

I used my Nook for the picture. What really made me happy is that I followed, with a little tweaking, written instructions that I had made up when I made the cover for my nook. At the time, I was thinking that I might try to sell the pattern. I did make some changes to the original design, but those are based on what I don't like about the first one. So you could say this is the new and improved pattern! I might still try to get this published. That's a big step though, and kind of scary.

I'm heading back to my sewing room. There's more to do, because so many things SA(y) Quilts!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Christening Gown, Part II

It's amazing ladies and gentlemen, I actually did what I said I would do! Not that I lie about stuff, but life gets in the way and then I can't find my  'round tuit' and then another day has gone by. That's just life. But every now and then you make a plan and can actually DO it. Yesterday I did sew the skirt to the bodice of the christening gown!
I am so pleased! (Knocking on wood just as hard as I can as I say that.) This is the outer gown; there is a plain slip that will be underneath it. I'm now working on the seams. All that sheer fabric, the seams show. It's nice that the picture doesn't show that, but it's a fact and unfortunately people will be up close to the dress since, of course, they will want to be up close to my beautiful grandbaby! Had to pull out reference books, and went to the internet searching on the best way to deal with this. The best way was to sew them differently in the first place. Would have been nice if the pattern had mentioned this. Lots of christening dresses use sheer fabric, they even have sheer fabrics in the fabric list on the envelope. Too late now . . . not ripping out all those seams! Sorry Mr. Seam Ripper, you're nice and all, but I have my limits. I won't bore you with details, just suffice to say that this involves lots of handwork. Luckily I'm a hand quilter and don't mind handwork!

I could take this project to the beach with me next week, but I'm bringing the wedding quilt. Ah yes, they've had the baby, they don't have their wedding quilt. Might have it by the tenth anniversary. It's a traditional wedding ring quilt. Here's a pic.
The rows are not sewn together here. I just had it pinned on my design wall. I have about five rows done now, I think I have to go to seven. Soon I'll be sewing the rows together, which is good. Honestly, I'm tired of all the little pieces in the arcs. Come to think of it, I have enough that I'm ready for the flood. Get it:  arcs and arks? I know, very bad. With all the talk about the end of the world last week it just jumped into my head. Sorry.

This week the plan is to work on that at the beach. It's mostly a technology free vacation so I have lots of nice time to sit on the deck, watch the dolphins swim by, and . . . . can you SA(y) Quilt! See you in a week or so.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vacation pressure

Next week I'll be with my extended family enjoying a reunion of sorts at the beach. We do this every year, tradition you know. As it gets closer, I always start feeling that I'd rather not go. Oh, I always enjoy being with everybody . . . okay almost everybody. Do you get along with everyone in your family? Be honest now! That's not the point though. Just getting ready for vacation is a hassle. A week at the beach for at least 10 people, good grief, I have to cook one night. What am I going to make? And, oh my God, it's my father-in-law's birthday AND my in-law's anniversary. Gifts, I have to have a gift for both occasions. And every year I think wouldn't it be nice to make a quilty thing for them. Something like a beach landscape quilt or pillow. I'm leaning toward the pillow - landscape on one side and a couple of family pictures on the back. So when did I start this project? Two days ago. When do we leave? Three days from now. Do a little math . . . that's five days to get it done. RIGHT!  I scrambled around in my fabric stash for appropriate fabrics. Raided the local Hancock's and JoAnne's for fabric I didn't have. Gee having to go fabric shopping is such a chore . . . not! And then, yesterday I went out and bought them a gift. I gave up. I cannot put together a quilt in 5 days, much as I'd like to.

Last year, I almost got it done. I remembered early enough to actually get the darn thing together. It was the first time I'd ever done photos on fabrics. Followed all the directions to make sure the photos were washable since I was using a water soluble stabilizer. When all was done, dipped it in water to remove the stabilizer and the photos just started disappearing! AAARGH! I couldn't believe it. I'd show you photos but I didn't save them I was so upset. Maybe I'll start on this project when I get back from vacation so I'll have it for next year! Sounds like a plan.

In the midst of all this angst, I've been plugging away on the christening gown. I'm having so much fun with this, even though my seam ripper and I are getting to be very good friends! An example, I was being so smart in NOT following the directions to make the sleeves. I just couldn't see trying to sew around that tiny little sleeve, so I decided to wait to sew the side seams of the bodice and attach the sleeve first. Great idea, unless you sew the sleeve to the side seam. Hi Mr. Seam Ripper. The whole thing looks so much better when my little granddaughter would actually be able to get her arm into it. (She's not so keen on the getting dressed, change your diaper thing anyway. I shouldn't make it harder.)
With luck today I'll sew the bodice to the skirt. And then I need to figure out how to cover those seams. I want them to feel nice against the skin. That's assuming that I don't get distracted by something else that may SA(y) Quilt.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Christening Gown

I'm venturing into uncharted territory. In a rush of excitement I told my daughter that I would make the christening gown for my new grandbaby, Adelaide. Then I went even further and said that I would make it from my wedding gown, since it's just sitting there getting older by the minute. Why do we say things like this? Do I like to add stress to my life? Possibly.

So, a week or so ago I finally started the deconstruction of the gown. First I had to find the darn thing. It was stored all those years ago - 35! - in it's protective box with miles of acid free tissue paper. Has tissue paper always been acid free? Hmmm . . . anyway the box hnd been taken out of storage in the attic - that's the best place right? - when my daughter was planning her wedding. She used my veil, but not the dress, so the dress was stuffed back in the box. No, I didn't take it back to be stored correctly, because I had in my little pea brain that maybe I would use it for something. Only have one daughter; don't think my son's fiancee will be asking for it! Then I put it back in the attic, or so I thought. With flashlight in hand, banged around the rafters, but no wedding dress box. Don't have a basement, so checked all the other rooms. It was GONE! What in the world had I done with it? Given it to charity when I was sleep walking? After a few days of hand wringing, it showed up, stored in plain sight right next to the closet in our spare bedroom. I swear it wasn't there before. Now to find my glasses . . .

Glasses found, on my face as usual. Showtime; seam ripper in hand I gingerly started taking the seams apart.

It actually didn't take that long to have the whole dress in pieces. There was just so much fabric, which will make laying out the christening gown easy. I'll let you know how it goes. All this lace makes me wonder about a lacy quilt . . . lots of things Sa(y) Quilts!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In the beginning

So how in the heck did I ever become a quilter? Did I wake up one morning and discover that label on my forehead? Nope; like many others, I was a sewer - what one would now call a fashion sewer because for some reason or other you have to identify "what" you sew. I was okay at it, even made a few things that I actually wore!

I came across this book, Refrigerator Quilts, many years ago and it really got my attention. Not because I was into quilting, but because it was a way to get some of those really cute drawings my kids were making OFF my refrigerator! The basic idea was transferring your child's art onto fabric and it seemed really easy and it was small, which meant that it wouldn't take long either.

So I jumped right in. My son had made this picture of a submarine that he really loved, but it was starting to look kind of ragged. I decided to try my hand at this quilt thing. And I loved it!

Now this was not high art, but it was really fun, and it was my son's picture. It still hangs in his room and he just graduated from college! So the quilt bug has bit and I'm glad it did. Even your kid's art can SA(y) Quilt!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Welcome to SA Quilts

It has been pointed out to me by family and friends that I should be telling the world about the quilts I make. Not that I think they are extra special - though most people think they are nice. (Thank you!) I haven't ever sold one, nor entered one in a show. I'm still a little timid for that. Every one that I've made has gone to someone else though, and that's been good enough for me. But, I would like to share a little more. So here's my latest quilt. It was made for my son, to celebrate his commissioning into the Army as a 2nd Lt. The pattern is from Eleanor Burns book, Star Spangled Favorites. It is actually one of the few quilts that I've done that's machine pieced and quilted. I'm one of those that like to hand quilt. (I heard that moaning.) I find hand quilting peaceful; with machine quilting I'm always worried that I'm not doing it right. Maybe that feeling will go away with practice. Hope you like it. Let me know what you think. In the meantime remember, lots of things SA(y) Quilts