Thanks for dropping by to take a look at some of my thoughts and ideals. Hope you will let me know if this has been helpful, useful, inspiring or whatever, and remember to come back soon.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What do you mean Christmas?

Well folks, Halloween is gone, Thanksgiving will be here in just a few more days and then comes that wonderful Holiday Christmas!  While we never want to forget the reason for the season, this is a time when crafting abounds as we crafters search for ways to provide presents for all on our list!  This is the time that I am making lots of lap quilts as you have seen in previous blogs, pillows, aprons, napkins, potholders and this year I'm making some pillowcases also!  This past week has been my pillowcase week and the cases I have made have been made from stash, so dig through that stash for your larger pieces of fabric  and even your 3" strips.  There are so many pretty fabrics available with kid themes that you also have a wonderful selection at the fabric stores.  One thing I really strive to do is get 100% cotton material so it is all very much washable and easy to get stains out of if necessary!
Well on to how to make these wonderful little gifts....
What you will need:  Fabric for the body of the case 27" x wof (width of fabric)  Now we all know that fabric comes in different widths but this is talking about your standard width of approximately 42 to 45 inches.
Fabric for the cuff: 9" x wof
Accent piece of fabric:  3" x wof
How much simpler can we get.  3 pieces of coordinating fabric.  Now if you go to the fabric store to purchase the fabric and you know you are going to make more than one pillowcase and you want to stretch those dollars, if you purchase 1 yard of fabric, you can get a body and a cuff from that fabric so you can make coordinating pillow cases by getting 1 yard for the main fabric on one pillow case and have the cuff for the coordinating pillowcase from that 1 yard of fabric without waste!  If you purchase the same accent piece of fabric you will need only 6" x wof for both pillowcases, but switch it up any way you want and you can even use the same accent piece for 4 pillowcases and just purchase 1/3 of a yard of accent fabric.  (Just be sure that your fabric store is cutting the fabric straight)  Sorry but I have gotten home after purchasing 1/3 yard of fabric and found it was 12 inches on one side of the cut and 9 inches on the other!  Did not make my day I can tell you.  Actually took some back to the fabric store because of it, and that was a major hassle!
So cut your fabric....
1.  The body of the pillowcase
2.  The cuff of the pillowcase
3.  The accent piece for the pillowcase
4.  Fold the accent piece in 1/2 so it is 1 1/2" wide and press with wrong sides together.
5.  Layout the cuff of the pillowcase, right side up.
6.  Lay the accent piece with the raw edges aligning with the raw edge of the cuff on the top edge.
7.  Align the body of the pillowcase fabric wrong side up with the raw edge also along the top edge.
8. Fold the excess length of the body of the pillowcase up so it is smaller than the cuff piece.
9.  Fold the bottom part of the cuff up matching the raw edges forming a tube and pin the raw edges together catching both edges of the cuff, both edges of the accent piece and only 1 edge of the body of the pillowcase.
10.  Sew a straight seam down the length of the tube you have created.
11.  Turn the tube right side out.
12 Press being sure to turn the accent piece toward the cuff.
Don't worry that all of your fabric has not been the same width.  Just try to keep it as straight as possible on 1 side.
13.  Trim the edge of the case to remove uneven edges and selvedges.
Now you have a nice straight edge to sew.
16.  Fold the case in half , right sides together matching the cuff and accent pieces.
15.  Making sure to pin your edges at the accent piece so they will stay straight then sew a seam around the two raw edges of the pillowcase.
16.  Those pesky corners need to be trimmed so you get a nice corner. 
(TIP:  When getting ready to turn a corner stop a couple of stiches early and turn you material half way around the corner, take 2 stitches and then lift the pressure foot and turn the rest of the way around the corner.  You will have a sharper corner that is more easily turned after trimming.)
17.  Turn the pillowcase right side out and press.
18.  Now to make a nice finished seam once again sew around the two edges where you made the previous seam and all raw edges will be encased so there is no raveling when it is being washed.
As you can see I have made several of these pillowcases for gifts for family.  Kids seem to really love them because this labels the pillow as their special pillow.  Parents love for kids to get them because they don't require batteries and they do not make noise!
Now if you really want to share the Christmas spirit you can make up a few extra of these and donate them and particularly now with the hurricane Sandy victims items like this are needed as well as making them for your local childrens hospitals (check with them first) or you can give them to any of your shelters, because they can always use bedding items, or some of your other organizations like the Salvation Army or Red Cross.  Just call and check with them and see what they tell you before making up a large number.  You make even want to talk with your local guild and see about a community project.  I wish you all a wonderful day and hope you enjoy the preparations for the holiday season.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Whats happening around my house?

Well it has been a lovely day so far and looks to be a restful evening.  I'm thinking about some different things I could do for Christmas and gifts for friends and co-workers. 

Well you will  never believe that I started this post and got 2 sentences and then had to stop for some reason or another.  I really don't remember what it was now..........Yes I am that age! hahaha  At any rate I'm going to finish this post because what I wanted to talk about today is Christmas gifts.  Now I love homemade, but sadly not everyone does.  The reasons given for not liking homemade as given by people who I have asked are varied and I'm going to list a few.

Most often mentioned was they were not useful.  They were house decorations and they didn't even match their houses.  Another is they don't fit if they were a personal gift.  Another biggie that people seem to complain about is that they are Christmas related and so they can't even use the gift until the next year!  Another thing that people have said in the past is that they were cheap!  Well I know they don't make homemade or they would realize that many homemade gifts are actually more expensive than the person could have bought in the store if they wanted to get something that was made in China from Wally World or a similar place.  Me, I like homemade.  Me, I make homemade.  Usually I make homemade and I use those products that I am making for others in my own home so I know how they stand up to normal everyday wear and tear.

With everyone on television wanting to talk about going green and saving energy I have decided that one of the things that I will do this year is napkins.  Now I am doing Christmas napkins, but you can actually use these napkins at any time of the year so you can use any print or solid or stripe that you want for everyday use.  You can make special occassion napkins using particular seasonal prints etc.  Be aware you can go to Walmart and purchase cloth napkins rather inexpensively.  If you make them here are the supplies you will need for 6-8 napkins.  The reason I say 6-8 is you need to watch the width of the fabric.  If you can find fabric that is less than 45" at a cheaper price, then go for it!  There is significant waste in 45" wide fabric.  The particular pattern that I used is a half-circle that is 18" in diameter.  Now you can make your own pattern with paper and use a string and pencil to draw the arc.  If you are fortunate like I am and had purchases in the past a ruler to cut circles then you are way ahead of the game.

I purposely made this picture specifically so you could see where this particular ruler came from and it even has the telephone number and website in case you want to order this ruler.  I am very glad that I had it on hand.  As you can see it will cut circles up to 19" in diameter and as small as 6" in diameter.  So very great when you want to do a drunkards path quilt!  But that is for another post at a later date, if you want that be sure and let me know and I'll be happy to post.

Now I particularly wanted my napkins to be different colors on the back and the front so I purchased 1 yard of 2 different fabrics.  One is more of a Christmas fabric and the other is a winter print that is not particularly Christmas themed.

Of course the first part is getting everything ready.  Since I purchased 1 yard of fabric I cut the fabric into 2 18" x width of fabric pieces and then I used the ruler to cut the individual pieces.  2 pieces of fabric for each napkin.  A little hint with the cutting.  Since I did not want any more seams than necessary when I cut the pieces I placed the inner line on the fold of fabric and the cut edge on the seam allowance line and that worked perfectly.  Yes it looked a little strange to be cutting it in that way but it worked perfectly.

Now the next step is very simple, just put the right sides of the fabric together and sew them together leaving an opening on the straight edge of the fabric that is 3-4" in width so you can turn the fabric easily.  See that isn't hard at all, just straight sewing.  Next trim the excess fabric from the two corners where the straight line turns and begins the arc.  Just snip off an little triangle from both of these corners and turn the napkin so the right sides are out. 

Press your project making sure that the opening you have left on the straight edge is pressed with the seam allowance turned in.  This will benefit you so much when you start to do your trim around the edge! 

This is a picture of how the napkin will look, and the last step will be putting the finishing around the edges.  I used a very simple stitch on my sewing machine but a straight stitch is what I used on the first napkins I made and is great for everyday napkins.  Oh I do need to say that I used 100" cotton fabric on these napkins because of it's durability and washablity, but I have used linen on some and they also turned out lovely and are washable also.  They have more of the nice texture for the good everyday napkins, you know the ones for regular Sunday dinners or birthday parties if you don't want to be forever purchasing paper napkins.

My fuzzy picture of the tiny bells stitch that I used on my Christmas napkins.  I just looked at the stitches on my machine and that looked Christmas to me that that is what I went with.  You can use metalic thread for this to make it a very special napkin, or if you are adept at embrodery and have a machine you could just use some fabric and put an embrodery mofit on these napkins.  One of the great things about homemade is you can add whatever extras you want and have the ability or equipment to master.

For these particular napkins you can just fold them or you can fold them to form a tree pattern and they will look like this!
Sorry but I think this is adorable!  Here are some pictures of how this is folded.

Begin the fold by measuring over 10 " on the straight edge and that is where you will make your first fold!

Then it is just a matter of folding back and forth!

Try to keep the outside edge fairly even so you will have a good tree effect!  Now on to the last fold!
This will be a wonderful addition to your holiday table and a greener option for holidays and everyday living.

Now with fabric, even the cheap stuff, costing minimum 4.99 yard usually, and you have purchased 2 yards of fabric you can make between 6-8 napkins for $10.00 plus your time and effort.  Oh, sorry I didn't add in the cost of the thread and if you purchase special thread then that is an additional cost that can be anywhere from 1.99 to 12.99 for your project.  My ideal is to use what I already had purchased for other projects and use up some of that!  If you have fabric that has been left from other projects you could even make this from your stash.  These napkins will be paired with coasters that are made from the scraps and I will also have some potholders and trivets for gifts.

Since I have now retired from my full time job, or at least semi-retired since I will work a couple of days each week on some special projects, I plan to use what I have an give several homemade Christmas items this year.  What about you?  If you are making for Christmas I hope you have already started! 

Have a great day and happy quilting and sewing!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The WEEK END!!!! YEA!!

Well I was off on Friday and I wanted to get some sewing done, but with the hundred and one other things that were on the agenda I didn't get a lot of sewing completed.  What I did get done was some work on my block of the month that has been kind of laying around waiting for me to complete the blocks.  Well it is almost the end of the year and the last of the blocks so I figured I better get busy.  The fact of the matter is, I have more than one BOM that I have started and completed 2 or 3 of the blocks and while I continued to go and pick up the patterns and I picked up sashing and borders and binding and even backing and they are all waiting for me to retire and get busy!  Now I have to say that I did complete one of my BOM that was from several years ago when I was traveling to Knoxville every month and doing a lot of quilting up there.  I did finish that quilt and my DIL has that one on her bed at home.  It was Thimbleberries and was a wonderful quilt.  I have to say that some of the blocks I really didn't like the fabric so I sort of substituted some of the fabric and some of the blocks just did not do anything for me so I sort of did my own thing a time or two.  There were also a couple of blocks that I didn't sew exactly like they said because I made mistakes but they were very interesting so I just went ahead and put the stuff I wanted in the quilt and I'm not alone in thinking it was a good quilt.  The problem is.........that is the only BOM I have ever completed.  I guess you could say I'm a starter but not necessarily a finisher.  Oh well, that's me!  But I am determined that this quilt will be finished!  So on to the blocks.

I've completed 6 of the blocks.  It seems I have misplaced one of my patterns so I will have to check with my bud, Peggy, to see if she still has her copy of that particular block.  Then I will pick up the November and December blocks and will be ready to go to finish the quilt.  I think I will go ahead and try to do some of the putting the blocks together since I do have the finishing pattern so I will have that done also.  The more I get done the more likely I am to be able to just pick it up one weekend and finish it.  I love it when I can go through and pick up several different items and sew them together and put the borders on and just finish several quickly.  Do you like to do that also?

How funny that these two pictures go together and almost look like one picture.  This is four of the blocks.  The peach with gray stripe is not part of the quilt blocks just in case you were wondering.  Each block is pinned to it's patter and the plastic bag the pattern and fabric was packaged in.
Okay here are the other two blocks I have completed. 
I am really very happy with the way the blocks are turning out.  Maybe this is something else that will inspire me to finish this BOM. 
I have been saving up things for several years and saying this is for when I retire.  Well now that I am almost to retirement I keep digging through my things and finding things that I actually forgot that I even had!  I found another BOM that came totally packaged and I really don't remember if I got it in Knoxville or if I got it from the Gypsy Quilter when she came to visit and teach at our guild.  She stayed here at my house and we talked quiting 24-7!  It was so much fun.  Poor Kenneth got to cook for her the entire time because we were so busy doing things that I just didn't even have time to cook! lol.  My friends that would come by the house and I benefited greatly from her staying here because she was a wealth of information!
At any rate I have either 3 or 4 or 5 more BOM that I can think of right now that have not been sarted or not been completed.  One of my quilt shop owner friends used to get all the stuff together for the entire BOM for me and just let me buy everything at one time and that was wonderful so that is one of the reasons I have so many.  I think it would be awesome for quilt shop owners to make up a few kits to have for sale as a whole and people not need to come every month for their block and sales pitch.  They could increase the price accordingly and I bet they would have a lot of people that would want to do those things.  One shop owner in Missouri let me take pictures of the BOM they were working on that was in 30's fabric so I could have the pattern since she had not completed the entire pattern when I was there.  She did not purchase a BOM by the manufacturer, but made up her own and wrote her own patterns.  It was a wonderful shop!  Gosh I miss that one!
I have also been over to FrogPond to see what Sandi is working on and I'm jealous.  I want to do a quilt like her's.  And I love Quiltworks and their site on FaceBook.   There are so many things I just keep putting pictures in and printing off patterns.  I told Kenneth today that I needed to pick up a couple of binders to put stuff in so I don't lose it or let it get messed up!  I really don't think I will ever run out of projects.
Well this is a short post but this is what I have been working on as well as working some more on the T-shirt quilt that I don't have the borders on yet.  I hope to do that this weekend also and I have the blocks from the guild that need to be put together and the tops for the Quilts for Kids that I need to quilt and get the binding sewed on before the next guild meeting which will be next week!  "Yikes, time flies when you're having fun!"  I hope you all have a lovely week of quilting.  Let me see what you are working on this week!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's catch up time!

Well the last time I posted I was telling you all about a beautiful quilt that I had quilted for my friend Pat.  Well here are the pictures I promised!

This is a picture of the quilt after I had quilted it.  Beautiful and when I saw it I thought that must be a Fonz and Porter pattern.  So I just had to ask and believe it or not I was right.  Here are some of the pictures of individual blocks also.
I love this star block.  Really simple but so awesome looking!
Pat did a great job on this Eagle block.

The colors of the fabric is one of the things that makes this quilt so very beautiful.
Great job Pat!

Now this is a small item and I didn't ask if she was going to use this for a pillow top or what exactly she had planned.  Maybe a small table topper? 

In addition to working on Pat's quilt last week I spent a lot of time working on this memory quilt for Savannah.  These shirts belonged to her Dad who was a avid hunter and fisherman.  Some of the shirts were so worn they had holes in them and I had to put a piece of fabric behind the print and then put the non-woven interfacing on that.  This picture shows the pieces of the shirts just cut out and laid out on the bed to see how the pattern was working.  Actually took me and Peggy the better part of a morning just to cut the logos from the shirts.

This patch is from a gimme cap and I just cut out the Logo and then I zigzag it down on the top of the quilt top before quilting.

This is one of the cap patchs after being sewn down to the top of the quilt.  The stripp8ng between the blocks, in case you were wondering is some of his cotton shirts that she brought.
So this is part of my catching up and showing you some pictures of a couple of the things I have been working on.  I hope you all enjoy the pictures!  Have a great quilty day!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Just a little heads up

I'm sure that all of my quilting friends that are following my blog know that not everything you find on the internet is accurate.  I was on facebook and found a site Beautiful Quilt Fabric and I thought it was a decent site and then today I was looking at some of their stuff and there is a tutorial on that page that gives directions for making a square in a square block.  Looks really fine on the surface, but the blocks were 8" blocks and she cut the corner squares 4 inches instead of 4 3/8" which means that at each side there is no 1/4" seam allowance.    Therefore all the points are cut off of her blocks when they are sewn together.  When you really look at the picture of the quilt then you can see that the points are gone, but anyone who didn't really look would likely wind up cutting all their fabric and then they would have a mess or else they would have to go back and recut all the 8" blocks which would be a pain.  So a word of advice here, if you decide to do a quilt from an online tutorial, please be sure to do a mock block with some scrap fabric before you go out and buy all of your fabric and cut it all up. 

I have also tried doing some of the online mystery quilts and found that the directions were wrong and I found that out over half way through the project and then the author goes back and says, oh by the way there was a miss print and it should have been but the blocks at 2 1/2" not 2".  Darn I hate when stuff like that happens!  There is no way that I know of to keep this from happening.

Sad to say I have even bought books and when I started making one of the quilts found an error.  Now here is the bad part...............Maybe I did not buy the book locally but bought it when I was out of town somewhere.  Maybe I purchased it at Hobby Lobby or online from Amazon.  When I send an e-mail to the author (and I have) with the correction I have received an email back from the author saying they have already been advised of that and they sent out a correction for shops to put with their books that have not yet been sold.  Well guess what, I didn't get it and nobody keeps a record of who bought which book so even when the shop gets the corrections how many people who purchased the book really get the message?  My guess is not many.  One thing that you can do when you purchase a book is to look up the author online and look at the book and see if there is any notation that there are corrections for misprints.  Most of them will have a contact and you can even send an email to ask them if there are any corrections before you start the quilt.  You can even ask them if there are different directions for different sizes of that quilt as many books will only give you one size and not tell you how much extra fabric you need for a larger size quilt.

Well, now I will try to get off my soapbox and just let you know that I have been on vacation this past week and I have been busy as a bee trying to get some things done.  One of the things I have completed this week is a quilt for my friend Pat.  This gal is an awesome topper!!  She is so very precise with her sewing that her quilts are a true joy to quilt.  Don't have to worry about wonkie corner and borders at all!  When I looked at the quilt I thought, hum that looks like a Fons and Porter design and after I had finished I asked her about the pattern and believe it or not I was right!  That doesn't happen all that often really so it made me feel really good.  I'm not going to post the pictures of Pat's quilt today because I know she wants to bring it to guild and have a show and tell presentation so I will not step ahead of her.

Also this week I have been working on a quilt for the guild to donate to the local crisis shelter.  I've got the top together now and just have to get it on the machine and get it quilted.  Got to figure out what I need to do about backing first and I already have the batting so that should work well.

I'm also working on a t-shirt quilt for Savannah.  This is a memory quilt made from her dad's t-shirts and other shirts.  I will post pictures of that quilt also next week and maybe next week will just be all pictures.  I'm sure you would all like that! 

If you get a chance go by frogpond studio and look at Sandi's quilts.  Another of my friends who does so really awesome quilting.  She has a wonderful eye for color and does a great job with piecing her tops.  Of course Sandi was a teacher so the math does not throw her for a loop!  I love visiting other peoples sites as they give me some wonderful ideals.  Like I need something else to do. lol.

I hope you all have a wonderful quilty week!  Keep safe, warm and dry!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Circles Yeah!

Well I finished the top today!  Big sigh of relief.  I know I am getting old because I forget so many things.  I think "I've forgot more, than I'll ever know."  I know that I have a creative mind because I am forever thinking, "oh, I can do this, or this, or this"  and the more I look at something the more ideals I will come up with about things to change and make it better or different.  I love it when I'm on a role.

Well recently a friend of mine had a new baby and I wanted to make something for the baby.  Hum, so here I go on the internet looking for something that would be quick and easy.  I'm not in real close touch with her and I just found out two weeks before that she was expecting and then wham the baby was here.  I was still thinking about colors and patterns for a quilt and the baby was born!  Well that sort of moved it up on the old time table so I was hunting quick and easy.

Let me tell you if you have never visited Missouri Star Quilter Company you have been missing out.  They have wonderful tutorials that are so easy to follow.  I love listening to Jenny as she explains the easy way to do things!  I've already made more than one quilt from that site and they are always exactly what she bills them to be!  Well Jenny has a tutorial for a self binding receiving blanket that is so awesome.  Just 2 pieces of fabric, one 30" square and the other 40" square and you just sew them together and fold and sew the mitered corners, turn and then use a decorative stitch to sew the border/binding down and you are finished.  These are made with flannel fabric and they are soft and cuddlesome!  Easy to wash too for the new mom.  I went to the fabric store and picked up the fabric for one of the receiving blankets and I had also found a changing/play pad at another site, tipjunkie.com that was another quick and easy thing to make so I made both and I guess I spent about an hour total on making both items, and they were inexpensive.  The changing/play pad just took 3 pieces of flannel 1 yard each and turned out very well.  Gosh now I had scrapes of flannel fabric that was just too pretty to stick in the scrap basket.  Hummmm

The changing pad was made as a circle and I had cut the circle from the middle of the fabric so I had 3 pieces of fabric that had a big hole out of the center.  I also had the trimmings from the receiving blanket the 30" square and the 40" square.  (Now about this time I am really wishing I had taken some pictures of the receiving blanket and the scraps I had left so you could see.)  Well this old brain did start to churn and I decided that I would make another flannel quilt and I would take my scraps that I had cut off and sew them into a pattern and put that in the center hole of one of the fabric pieces from the changing pad and make a nice little quilt out of my scraps.  I have other things that I have made that I put circles in and it was really quick and easy but apparently I forgot how that works and cut the thing wrong to begin with and lucky for me I cut it too big and not too small so I had to take the circle out and trim it down and then put it back in and it turned out right.  You do have to be careful when sewing the flannel as it has a tendency to stretch...(read understatement here).... and you have to make allowances for the stretch.

Finally I remembered to take a few pictures.

This is a picture of how the edge of the quilt looks with the circle in the square.
Some day I may learn to take good pictures, but that time has not come yet.  Sorry about that but this is just a picture of what the pieced center of the quilt looks like.  Just a 9-patch and then one of the other colors where I had a width of material 1 1/2" wide to use for sashing and I used most of the colors in some of the sashing so it is very scrappy looking.
Another picture of the edge of the quilt.
What can I say, now I am anxious to put a batting and backing with it and get it finished!  I think I am going to have a take a tip from my friend Sandy over at FrogPond and get all of my unfinished projects together and just determine that I am going to finish one a month or something until I am caught up!
I have a quilt on my machine from Pat that is just wonderful.  She does such precise piecing and it is  always a joy to work on her quilts.  They all look like they were made for competition!  I have some from Peggy and several from Kay and another lady brought me 3 this week that are going to be so much fun.  One is a feedsack quilt.  I can hardly wait but got a few others I have to get finished before I can put the feedsack on the machine.  In addition to that I have another lady that has asked me to make her a quilt that I have to get started on quickly but it is make the entire quilt from start to finish.  I'm anxious to do that one too because we picked out an awesome pattern and she wants it to have some bling so I found some fairy frost fabric in the colors she is using to go with the other colors to give it some Beee---Ling.  This should be fun.
Life is just so much fun when you're quilting!  I get to retire in a few more days so I will have even more time to have fun!  I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful week of quilting!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Double Knit??

Boy isn't it a lovely day!  I can remember many years ago, now I'm going to tell my age here, when we first started seeing polyester double knit fabric.  Well we thought this was the best thing since zippers or maybe even the best thing since buttons.  You didn't have to iron it after it was washed and dried!  Oh my wasn't this a time saver and it gave us more time to do other things, like sew!  Everyone loved it!  Today the most amazing thing about this fabric is that it never wears out!!!  I mean never!  It is also very heavy! 
Well believe it or not I had a customer call me about quilting a top for her and I don't even remember where she said the top came from, but it was not something that she had made.  She wasn't even born I don't think, when they were making this stuff!  You guessed it the top was entirely double knit polyester! 
If you have never worked with this material, it is very stretch-------stretch-----------stretchie!  Extremely hard to quilt is the translation of that sentence!  But like Larry the Cable Guy, I "got 'er done".  I don't think Larry would have anything bad to say about the finished product either.  A lot of our older generation made quilts that were designed for a regular full size bed and the quilt was not the spread and they did not allow very much drop off of the sides of the mattress.  Many of the older quilts will just cover the top of the mattress with no drop down the sides at all!  This can make it difficult to use them as a regular part of the bed linen unless they are on a bed that is being slept in by one person only.  If more than one then you will hear the accussations of "cover hog" flying about frequently.  
At any rate I got this quilt and got it quilted.  Here it is!
You can tell in this picture that the person who made this handsewn quilt loved the 9 patch block because that is what it is!  All 9 patches sewn together without sashing or borders!

 Someone had a lot of scraps to get rid of and I don't know if they were all her's or not, but if they were all her scraps, she was a very prolific seamstress!

The person who brought me this quilt had picked out the backing and binding and I think she did a wonderful job.  All of the melon colors were just beautiful and the backing really brought out the color in the scraps.  As you can likely tell I just did a meandering quilting technique all over the top.  Sometimes that is just the best quilting pattern to keep it from looking too fussy or busy.

Now I love the binding and just wasn't able to get a good picture of it from the top.  Sorry I'm not better at photographing my projects.  The binding really made those colors pop out on the top!
I really enjoyed doing this very stretchy quilt!  It did turn out lovely.  I will give you a hint if you start to quilt a quilt top that has some stretchiness be sure to lay it out and quilt down the outside first!  This will help you manage all that in-between stuff and you can ease and stretch as you go to make things turn our properly!  They may never be perfect, but then neither am I.
Remember quilting is a very fun thing to do!  If it stresses you to the max then lets figure out why and see if we can turn this into something that is fun and relaxing.  I have found if something just really causes me to be anxious that I will do less and perhaps never even finish the project.  I need to stop and figure out why I am so very anxious and see if there is a way to de-stress it!!  Sometimes it's just one part that gives me trouble and if I can work through that the rest does fine.   Are you having a problem with a quilting project?  If the answer is yes, try to figure out which aspect is giving you the most problems and if you want my input just let me know.  I'm always happy to help a fellow quilter!
Ya'll have a great day.  Happy quilting.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Little Quilts

Goodness, I wonder if I am the only person who is constantly saving my scraps of fabric with the ideal that I will use those things sometime and they pile just keeps growing and growing until it become unmanageable?  For some reason I don't think I am the only one.  Now I have had friends that have actually tried to put a label on my savings habit (of which I am very proud) and one told me one day that she had looked it up and I wasn't a tightwad I was just frugal!  Now I thought that was a huge laugh.  I'm not much into putting labels on everything anyway so it didn't bother me.  I know that I am planning to retire this year from the daily work force and be able to stay at home.  Were it not for the savings habit, I would not be able to do this (and I still question every day or two if this is the right thing or not) until I turn 65 at least and maybe even later than that! 

In addition to my piles (baskets actually and bags) of scraps I have a virtual mountain of books that I have been collecting for years and telling my husband that I was saving those for retirement so I would have plenty of patterns to make quilts by during retirement!  These books are stacked on my staircase.  East step holds between 5-10 books and magazines and assorted patterns that I have purchased when I saw something that I really liked all with the intention of saving for my retirement!
I guess it could also be said that I am a pack rat because of all these books and patterns!

Regardless, I found another book at the quilt shop yesterday.  I just love my local quilt shop and the people who work there.  Sew Bee It in Ringgold, Georgia is just a wonderful shop full of friendly people and I always have an enjoyable time when I go up for a visit, which I do often.  As you can well imagine we are on a first name basis there!

Back to my story.  I found a new book "Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts" by Mary Elizabeth Kinch and Biz Storms.  I was drawn to the book by the cover picture which is a Pumpkin Peel Pattern.  The quilt is beautiful but I have to say I was not impressed with the directions.  This is definately a pattern for someone with experience.  In particular I don't like instructions that just say "cut wedges of varying widths".  I find this too general for directions except to experienced quilters.  I also wish they had included some indication of the quilting level required for each project.  I want people to have a successful outcome when they start to quilt and if they start a project that is very difficult and they do not have the experience needed they will get discouraged and I hate to see that happen to anyone.  I met a lady in Knoxville, Tn who wanted to learn how to quilt and the quilt she started on was a Baltimore Album.  The shop owner did try to tell her that her choice was not something that was normally recommended for a beginning quilter but she decided that she was going to try that one anyway!  I never did hear if she finished her quilt or not but fear it may have been too daunting a task for a beginner.  To be honest, I don't even feel up to trying a Baltimore Album but it is because I am not a fan of applique.  I am more of a person who likes to make progress quickly.

With all of that said you are likely wondering why I bought this book! Well, I have to try everything at least once it seems to see how it goes. One year I decided to do some paper pieced quilts for the ladies in the family. Sorry to say the pattern I choose was one that was very intricate and very time consuming and finally they were put away into the void of UFO's. Years later I pulled out the partially finished piece and squared up what was there and added borders and made myself a wall hanging. I will not tell you how much that wall hanging cost me, but it was more than I would normally spend for a full size quilt! Now after getting this book I'm starting another quilt with too many pieces. We'll see how it goes and if I finish a complete quilt or wind up with another wall hanging. In this one each 3" block has about 19 pieces. The squares are 1/2" finished and made into 4-patches and then the patches are put together with sashing between each one to make a 16 patch of 4 patches which are sashed together to form the large quilt. Boy that's a lot of work just trying to explain the pattern. I'll try to get a couple of pictures to show you how this thing goes together before I publish this post.

Not the best picture I have every made but this is one of the blocks!
This is one forth of the above square.
Of course this one is where I am putting the tiny four patches together to form the above block.
And this is the tinies with just the 2 squares together and in the top left corner is one I have put into a 4 patch.

(Okay I did good.  I got the pictures before publishing the post)  Wish I had more of it done, but as I said sometimes I am a little slow but I am still working on this.  I did mention to a friend of mine that maybe I should use the blocks I have put together to put on the back of some potholders that I'm planning on doing for Christmas and she cringed in horror and said, that is just too much work to put into a potholder!  She may be right.  So I'll continue to see how it goes!

Typically I will go on a writting binge and write several post and then put them up one at a time.  Which is where I am right now.  I do everything by binges, quilting, writing, cleaning!  Is anyone else like that?  At any rate since I am so very blessed with so many scraps, I'm trying my hand at this once again.  So thankful that I have had the opportunity to collect so many scraps and still have the health and resources to continue quilting.  Here's wishing you all a happy quilting week and I'll talk with you later! 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Road Trip

Road Trip
Got up the other morning and it was just one of those days that I really didn't want to do anything much.  Not that my "To Do" list isn't huge, but I didn't want to do those things.  I'm sure you understand exactly what I'm talking about here.  I asked my husband, what do you want to do today?  His response, "I don't know."   Hummmmm.  After breakfast I sat down at the computer and opened up my facebook page and was looking at recent things and there it was!!!  Several weeks ago I had found on facebook a quilt shop called "Chattanooga Quilts".  I had said I wanted to visit that shop and just had not previously had the time.  Well guess what, now I have time.  I asked tubby hubby if he wanted to ride with me and he said okay.  That is not normal for him to be agreeable to visiting a quilt shop with me!  Must be kismit!
Like the wonderful planner that I am (not), I got the address and put it in the GPS and off we went.  Drove straight to the place without incident!  Between 40-50 miles from my house so a nice little drive.
This shop was a very nice small shop and the lady who was there was very friendly, but a good salesperson.  She did not hover,  she did offer help and even offered to get a chair for my husband to sit in while I shopped!  That impressed him and made him feel good too.  There was a class going on at the time I was there and the classroom was held behind a curtained off area of the shop.  There were lots of samples hanging on the walls with the books depicting the patterns located next to the samples and they were clearly labeled as to which book had that pattern which is always nice.  Makes it easy to find anything that is of interest.
I am sure it was designed for the shop owner, but the way the cutting table is set up next to the check out area was a good ideal and the area was L shaped with the long arm of the L holding the cutting table and the shorter base holding the check out area.  This configuration is nice because if you have several people waiting to have fabric cut and then more people waiting to check out they are not crowding each other.  I have been in shops where it is one long area and it was hard to tell who was waiting in which line. 
If you have some free time, this shop is worth a visit.  You may even decide to go back once you see the prices are reasonable and cheaper than some of the other stores I have visited.
Oh I do have to tell you that while I was there I bought another book.  I am forever buying books and this is another one that will help you use up your scraps.  This one is titled "Friendship Strips & Scraps" by Edyta Sitar for Laundry Basket Quilts.  Of course the sample on the wall is what prompted me to purchase this particular book.  The title of that quilt is Spool Quilt and I loved the strips used to depice the thread on the spools.  They had shades of blue which is one of my very fav colors in theirs.  The only thing is there is a lot of applique around the border of their quilt that I'm not too sure I will do!  Sorry I'm not really into applique unless it is by machine like a lot of  El's quilts.
At any rate this particular book has several different quilts using the fabric made of strips that are very intresting and something I may want to do after I retire.  (I keep saying that like I don't already have enough projects to keep me busy until I'm 100!)  Well at any rate this project is for a later date.  I've got too many on the back burner that need to be finished before I start another one!

If you have visited this shop already, please drop me a line and let me know what you thought.  Believe me I can handle it if your opinion and mine are not the same.  If you decide to go here in the future, let me know what you thought when you visit.  I love getting the opinion of others.  I often miss things on my first trip to a shop and it would be helpful to me! 
I hope you all have a wonderful day, quilting and sewing with love for your loved ones!  Now on to my next project!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A beautiful first ever quilt top!

It's really hard to believe how quickly a week goes by!  I guess when you are busy everything just seems to fly!  Ah well, this is life as we live it....busy, busy, and more busy.  This week I do feel like I have made some progress and also I want to take a little time to let everyone in on a few items that you may not be aware of about the quilting process.

I have been able to finish up a couple of quilts this week, one of which is for the granddaughter of a very nice lady who belongs to the same quilt guild that I belong to.  This is a lovely quilt as I am sure everyone will agree.  The really amazing thing is that this is her very first quilt.  This is quite an accomplishment for her.  So many people will start a quilt top very enthusiastic about the quilt they are going to make and then find the process to be long and frequently they are not pleased with the results as they are progressing or it is something that just takes a lot of time to complete and they were not prepared for the time investment.  Many people want to start making a quilt without really planning out the whole top and then are disappointed in color or having trouble with the pattern because it is more advanced than they expected or life just shifts and they no longer have time so the top and the various pieces wind up stuck in a bag somewhere hoping someday to be finished when they have more time.  I can really talk about these things because I have been there!  Frequently these are places I have visited more than once!  Alas some people never return and eventually the work in progess is passed on to someone else or in some cases given to charity or just tossed in the trash!  I have actually inherited some of these from family members who have passed away.  Makes me wonder how many "Works In Progress (WIP's)"  I will leave for friends and family.  I said all of that to say this, the young lady did a great job!

Sorry for the poor quality of the picture, but it was a lovely quilt!  You may not be able to tell this from the picture but the solid black around the border is a wide rickrack.   The flowers and leaves and stems are appliqued onto the black and white background which is composed of many different fabrics, all black and white.  (This quilt has given me an ideal of what to do with my stash of black on white and white on black prints.)   I love the art form of the stylized leaves to go with the flowers.  I believe the name of this was "Rose of Sharon".  I do know that when she brought it to me for quilting she gave me a copy of the page from the book that contained the quilting recommendations and I did follow those recommendations.

The pattern suggested using a lot of feathers and flower mofits and a large meandering  so that is exactly what I followed.

It is very hard to see here but the pattern suggesed using a feather pattern in each of the flower petals and that turned out very well.  They did not make a suggestions for the center of the flower so I used a flower mofit in that area.

I also used the flower mofit in the leaves that are on the stems of the flowers.  These leaves were appliqued on using what appears to be one of the embrodery designes that come on most sewing machines.

The recommendation did suggest a large feather in the outer border and showed a picture of the feather they were suggesting which I was able to replicate fairly accurately.  They suggested using pink verigated thread for the outer border.  I did use the pink verigated throughout the quilt and will write a little more about that later.

I really enjoyed doing the center Rose which was very large.  All of the stems went from the center Rose out and there were roses on all four sides of the quilt that overlapped into the outer border.  I used those flowers to divide the quilt so the outer border feathers were turned appropriately.  (There is a trick to that that machine quilters use.)

This quilt will be very successful.  I am hoping that once she has the binding in place she will take a picture and send it to me so I can see the finished product, perhaps displayed on the bed she has made this beautiful cover for!  I'm sure it will bring years of enjoyment to her and her family!

As a professional quilter I was very pleased that she was able to give me the recommendations for the quilting.  If you have never used a professional quilter it will be appreciated if you can do that for her/him and then they can tell you if they will be able to do that particular type of quilting.  This can really decrease disappointments when the quilt is finished.  If you make no recommendations that is fine, but then it is the quilters option as to what she puts on the quilt.  You may even want to just say something about what you do not want!  Like "I really don't particularly love the feathers that I see on many quilts, or I really don't want heavy quilting that makes the quilt feel stiff, or I want the quilt to be fluffy and soft.  Those are just a few of the things you can say to professional quilters that they will appreciate.  It is also nice if you have those things written down on a piece of paper to give the quilter so they can be attached to your quilt top for a reminder once she will be placing the top on the machine for quilting.

Another helpful thing to do for your professional quilter is to write your name and telephone number on a piece of paper and attach it to each piece that you are handing to the quilter.  While not all quilters are like me, I bet you would be surprised at how often pieces get seperated once they are in the sewing room, so make sure each piece has your name and telephone number.  Placing the pieces in one container helps.  I have one lady who brings her quilts to me, top, batting and backing all folded into a large pillowcase and each piece has her name on a piece of paper and pinned to the piece, including the pillow case!  Such a thoughtful lady!  You rock Pat!

You can also write on your information sheet that you attached to the top any other information such as, quilter to supply batting, please put binding on quilt but do not hand stitch binding in place.  Owner will hand stitch binding,  quilter to supply muslin backing (white or natural).  Please use light blue thread or I would prefer a thread that does not show up a lot so the piecing will be showcased.  I have quilted tops using clear thread so the piecing would be the main show, and I have used thread to make the quilting really pop out!

Quilting should enhance the top.  If there are large areas that need enhancement some special quilting in that area can be a really great thing!  Remember the choice is yours.  Your quilter wants to do something that will make you happy to show off your work and something you will enjoy for years to come!

Another couple of hints to make your quilter a happy person!

1.  If you want your quilt back at a certain time be sure to tell the quilter, write it on your instruction sheet attached to the quilt top and try to give the quilter a call at least a week or even 2 before you have to have the quilt back to just remind her that the date is coming up.  If there are any problems then she will have the opportunity to let you know.  Having your telephone number is really handy if there is a problem.  Sometimes at the best we all try to do we will not measure something correctly and perhaps the backing is not as large as it needs to be and if your telephone number is right there then she can call you to let you know as quickly as possible.

2.  It is wonderful if you will be sure to clip the dangling strings from the quilt top and backing if you have a pieced backing.  It is also really nice if you will trim any excess fabric hanging out on the borders.  For instance the top border when you sewed it to the quilt there was an extra inch or even 2 hanging out.  It is nice if you can just trim that off so the quilter does not have to deal with that and trying to get it squared when she is attempting to attach the top to her machine.

3.  Having things pressed is always a good ideal.  It doesn't have to be perfect, but please don't just wad the top or backing up and stuff it in a bag for the quilter to deal with when she starts taking the quilt out!  Things that are not pressed may be more prone to having pleats pressed into them and those pleats may be sewn in without it being realized.  A professional quilter will not give you back a quilt top with a big pleat in the backing that has been sewn down by the quilter.  She will take the quilt off of her machine and rip that stitching out and requilt the top without pleats in the back!  Any quilter who hands you a quilt and says there is a pleat in the back and I want you to look at it and see if it is okay, is not a professional!  Do not pay them for unacceptable practices!  They need to correct the problem.  You do not need to rip out their mistake and give it back to them to requilt.

4.  Ask your quilter how long it will be before you can expect to receive your quilt back.  If she is operating with a 6 month waiting period she should be able to tell you that.  Most professional quilters do have a waiting period.  They operate several different ways in how they handle those things.  Many will not put your quilt in line until they have your quilt and the supplies needed for the quilting on their shelf.  Some will make a list and add your name and number to the list and call you when they are close to ready to do your quilt.  Ask any quilter you are auditioning about the waiting period and how they handle that particular situation.

5.  It is extremely rare that 1 small (home sewing machine size) spool of thread will quilt a quilt.  Most quilters will have particular threads that run best on their particular machine.  Quilting machines do not use regular sewing thread and they do not use hand quilting thread.  Be sure and talk with your quilter about what thread she needs for quilting your quilt.  She may have thread on hand and there may be a charge for that thread so be sure and ask.  Also be sure to find out how many spools you will need to provide for the quilting you are requesting.  Also find out if you want more than once color of quiting thread if there is a charge for changing threads.  If you have decided that you want to use one color of thread on the front and another on the back talk with the quilter.  In large part this may not be a good ideal. Only your quilter can tell you if this is doable by her/him!

6.  Ask your quilter about deposits and payment.  She may prefer cash, she may or may not be able to utilize credit/debit cards.  Knowing these things in advance can help you have a successful relationship.

Heres wishing you all a happy week of sewing and quilting!