Monday, January 30, 2012

Design Wall Monday January 30, 2012

Here is the latest--an on-going project.  Using Gyleen Fitzgerald's method and ruler, I am making Pineapple blocks to use for a class sample and then the quilt will be donated to a Wounded Warrior.  I changed the pattern--combining the last 2 pieces on each corner makes for a  large red square where 4 blocks join.  Much easier than a very tiny little square.
Be sure to go to Patchwork Times by Judy L to see what lots of other folk are workng on.

I'm getting busier at work so will have less time to quilt but I've got 2 more in the planning stage--that counts!  Let's Quilt!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Around the House

Today I'm enjoying what is likely my last Thursday off until mid-April and it's gray and rainy.  It's a good day to show you how I use my quilts around our home.  My beginning students often ask, "What do you do with all your quilts" so here is a sample. 

As we worked with an architect to design this home about 13 years ago, I was adamant about where I wanted the windows, electric plugs (floor locations), etc.  I had to stand my ground against the architect and my husband but when it was done they both agreed I was right.  Well, they didn't exactly use that word, but the idea was the same.  Things came together once our stuff was in there. 

Living Room, the gold wall color is perfect with this quilt--a happy accident.  I spent 7 years working on this.  It's hand appliqued and hand quilted.  It won Best of Show, our guild show 2011.

Another shot of the living room, facing the fireplace.

Master Bedroom shots.  There are 3 quilts on the bed, you only see two.  We recently moved to this king-size bed so the Texas Braid was made to fit it.  The brown quilt folded at the foot of the bed is one of my favorite. It's a replica of a very old top I found in an antique store. It has a wool batt which is wonderful for snuggling under on a cold winter's night.

This is the Non-Guest Room. The pile of quilts would take a while to put away if someone actually needed to sleep here.  I call it the Archaeological dig--newest on top, older the farther down you go.
The Real Guest room--only 2 quilts on this bed so it's easy to use.  The red quilt is the 2009 Block of the Month from , a Sue Garman design.  When I can convince the husband to assist me, I plan to hang it in the living room, above the red sofa. 

Just so you can see I don't do ONLY traditional quilts.  The blue quilt is from my "Japanese design" period and hangs in the real guest room.  The long one features a 3D beaded dragonfly I made in a beading class with Nancy Eha.  Love this piece and it hangs in the kitchen where I see it every day.

That's it for now.  There are more, of course, but I'll save those for another time.  How do you use quilts in your home?  I'd love to know.

Let's Quilt!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Design Wall Monday, January 23, 2012

It's done!  I found the tan fabric I used for the squares at my favorite local quilt shop, Patches & Stitches.  It's a 108" Moda backing fabric, mottled tan, that is perfect for working with these 1800s reproduction fabrics I love so much.  At Christmas one of my sons saw the work in progress on the design wall and commented that he liked it SO next Christmas it's his.  It's a good throw size, 58" x 64", and I will machine quilt it myself.

Today we had brunch with our son, Andy, and his beloved, Lauren, and her folks.  We went to the restaurant where the rehearsal dinner will be held then went to the church to meet up with the pastor to get a few details of the ceremony worked out.  The pastor is a wonderful woman and we were glad to get to meet her.  The wedding is March 31, 2012 so you may hear a little more about it in the future. 

I've got a new idea for a quilt for the wedding couple--it certainly won't be done by the wedding.  Their official wedding quilt is done,  and has been since 1995.  Here it is:

This won Best of Show at our guild show in 1995 and has been saved for the first son to get married.  They have a german shepherd who sleeps with them so they plan to hang it on a wall.  So now I want to surprise them with another, more user-friendly bed quilt.  Don't tell them--their theme is Peacocks so I've got something fun to work with.

Be sure to go to Patchwork Times to see what lots of other quilters have been working on.  Have a great week!  Let's quilt!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Color for Quilters

It's been a wet, gray week here and is currently thunderstorming.  So we need a shot of color!

I call this Color Play 2--it's a variation of a quilt called Art Affair by  Jan Douglass.  This one is about 36"square and was made from the leftover triangles of a larger variation I made as a class sample. I machine quilted this myself--notice it's all straight lines and I did not do free-motion--yep, I was afraid to "ruin" it.  Once tax season is over I'm going to work on that free-motion quilting and conquer my fear.  I'm learning a lot just by reading Leah Day's Free-Motion Quilting project--wish I had time to practice right now, but I don't.

It's Saturday and I'm off to a full day of work--folks are getting their W-2s and are coming in now.  Love seeing my returning clients, year after year.  I've done this job for 32 years, 24 here in Huntsville, and have many clients I see each year.  Funny how we don't think we're getting older, but apparently, we are!

Happy Saturday.  Let's Quilt!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just Takes 2 Again!

With my free morning I made these next 5 blocks for the Just Takes 2 project:

They are so much fun to make!  The instructions vary from simple to detailed and there are several ways to make most blocks. The patterns assume you have basic quiltmaking skills and are not intended to be step-by-step directions.

Using many different red and white fabrics is really adding to my enjoyment.  My motto is "There's no such thing as TOO MUCH fabric!" 

One other thing I'm doing with this quilt is keeping a spreadsheet of the number of pieces in the quilt, the method I used for each block, the traditional name of each block and the "popular" name being voted on as part of this project.  I figure it's much easier to do this as I go along, rather than try to count pieces when the quilt is finished.

Remember, Part 1 blocks will only be available free until the end of January;  after that, you'll have to buy any previous sets of blocks you missed.    See Just Takes 2 for the details.

Off to teach my beginning class tonight--they will work on their first blocks and have success!

Let's quilt!


Monday, January 16, 2012

Design Wall Monday, January 16, 2012

Here is what I've been working on, a simple nine-patch made with Judie Rothermel's Chronicles fabric line.  Obviously, not done yet but I'm getting there.  While I would like to say I'll have it done by next Monday, I have run out of the tan for the squares and still have 11 more nine-patches to make.  AND...

The second set of Red and White blocks for the Just Takes 2 project were revealed yesterday and I want to work on those.  If you are thinking of doing this year-long mystery-type project, be aware the blocks are only available for free for 30 days from posting and posting happens the first and fifteen of each month.  After the 30 days, the patterns will be available for purchase.  See all the info at Just Takes 2.  If you think you might like to do this, sign up in time to get the first 6 blocks for free, that's about 2 weeks from now.

It's tax season so I might not be here daily but I'll always try to post on Mondays.  Be sure to check out Patchwork Times on Mondays to see what other people are working on.  A great feature from Judy L. 

Let's quilt,


Thursday, January 12, 2012

I love to teach!

Since 1989, I've been the Beginning Quiltmaking teacher at my local quilt shop, Patches & Stitches. Tuesday night I started the next 5 week session with 8 new students.   I love to teach beginnners.  They are both excited and terrified.  Some are true beginners, making their very first quilt.  Some are self-taught and eager to get better at quiltmaking.  Some doubt their ability to be successful, some are over-confident.  Everyone gets excited as the classes progress and I just love to see happy, beaming faces as they show off their completed tops at week 5.  Here is the project I teach:

Mix and Match Stars Variation, Glad Creations Pattern

In recent years, I've noticed many shops teach very simple beginning classes and I can understand why. I still prefer to teach a more complex quilt, in ways that are simple to understand and master.  My goal is to get the student excited about the art of quiltmaking and eager to make their next quilt.

A few years ago I was asked to be the "expert" in a series of videos to be shown on a web "how-to" site,  Over more than 6 hours we shot 7 short videos and the course is called "How To Quilt".  Can you imagine:  teaching the entire process of quilting in seven 3 minutes "lesssons"!  I thought it was pretty simple, basic stuff and a little "cheesy" perhaps but I have to say, my beginning students absolutely LOVE having this as a reference.  Class goes by quickly each night and most leave wishing they had more time.  With this tool, they can watch the steps as many times as they need.  If you know a beginner who might benefit from a little help, send them this link:  How to Quilt.

I find the most challenging part of the quiltmaking process for students to learn is that dreaded 1/4" seam allowance.  Those who are garment makers can draw 5/8" with their eyes closed but struggle to get the 1/4".  The primary reason this is a challenge is because we have wonderful sewing machines with wide feed dogs so we can zigzag, make buttonholes, embroider, etc.  A 1/4" seam on a 9 mm feed dog means most of the fabric is not being guided by the machine. Just because it's a challenge doesn't mean we can't master it--it just takes practice, patience and determination. 

What tricks do you have for getting the seam allowance right?  Is it a struggle or a joy?

Do you remember your first class?  What challenges did you have?  Did you almost give up?  Do you still have your first quilt?  Those who become addicted to this sport always wish they had kept their early work, if they did not, so they can show the progress and path their quiltmaking has taken. 

Bless the beginners because they will improve and more the quilt world forward.  Now, let's quilt!


Monday, January 9, 2012

Design Wall Monday January 9, 2012

When I saw the Just Takes 2 project less than 2 weeks ago I knew I wanted to do it this year.  A wide variety of blocks will be published via email every 2 weeks throughout the year.  This is a tribute to the Infinite Variety Red and White Quilts exhibit that was held in New York City March 2011.   Brenda Papadakis of Dear Jane fame and Gay of Sentimental Stitches are the powers behind this project and both have great blogs too.  There will be "name that block" contests and other fun. 

Here are my first 6 blocks.  I am using a variety of reds and whites and look forward to doing all the blocks.

To see what lots of other people have been working on, check out Judy L's blog Patchwork Times

Have a great Monday--let's quilt!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Teaching Texas Braid

We had a fun day yesterday.  I taught Bonnie Hunter's quilt, Texas Braid, at my local quilt shop.  The students varied from beginner to somewhat experienced piecers.  Learning the process for a quilt like this is the real challenge:  which way to press, which side to start with, how to keep organized, etc.

They did a bang-up job!  I love when the light comes on in a student's eyes and they "get it"!  I especially love to see this with a student who struggles at first, and starts to doubt she'll ever "get it".  The feeling of accomplishment for that person is almost tangible!  See how well they did:

Come back tomorrow for Design Wall Monday--my 6 Just Take 2 blocks will be done.

Let's Quilt!


Friday, January 6, 2012

Small Quilts Friday

Today I worked on the Tiny Bricks quilt, only bigger and here's what I got:
The bigger one is 14" x 16" while the tiny one is 6" x 7".   I'll hand quilt the larger one and don't have any more need to make another one of these.  This series of 2 is DONE! 

Then I finished the 12 Days of Christmas quilt from Temecula Quilt Co.  Each day for 12 days they posted a simple, 3" finished block, day 1 was 1 piece, day 2 was 2 pieces, day 3 was 3 pieces, etc:
This little quilt is 17" x 21", perfect size to use an old fat quarter for the back.  I'll hand quilt this one too, probably big stitch, since that's fast and works well with these little doll-size quilts.

I made 3 of the first 6 blocks in the Just Takes 2 project, more about that next time.  I love these blocks! 

Now it's time to get ready to teach a great class tomorrow, at Patches & Stitches, my local quilt shop.  I'm teaching Bonnie Hunter's Texas Braid quilt.  A stash-buster, there is lots of piecing time in this:

If you haven't found Bonnie's awesome blog,, you need to hustle over there--I have learned a lot from her and get inspired frequently.  Her "leaders/enders" method has helped me make several quilts recently, with "found" time--it's really a brilliant idea!

Have an enjoyable weekend, whatever you do.  Let's quilt!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happily Creative

This is the end of my pre-tax season creative burst!  Just another week or so and I'll be back at it full-time, and then some. 

Here's what I've done this week:

I saw this on one of the blogs I follow, Taryn at Repro Quilt Lover and thought it was sweet. It is also  tiny. Those bricks were cut 7/8" x 1 1/4" and finish at .375" x .75".  Now I've cut out 61 more bricks, twice that size, cut 1.5" x 2.5".  It will be fun to see how much larger the second one is.

The other evening I started quilting, by Big Stitch, on the Courthouse Step Quilt.  It goes fast and I really like the way it's looking.  I might be sorry about that red chalk pencil I'm using; time will tell.

Here's what I did today:  I selected the fabrics for my red and white Just Takes 2 project:
6 yds red 9 yds white

It was fun shopping in my closet.  Do you think I should pre-wash?  HA!  You bet, I'm pre-washing.  With at least one Shout Color Catcher sheet in those reds--I'm washing them separately.  Every quilter needs Shout Color Catchers at hand at all times.  Remember to use one in the washing machine if you suspect some fabrics may run--I always use them with my husband's new plaid shirts, they often run.  Once the fabrics are washed and pressed, I'll make the first 6 blocks, tomorrow.

I've read all Leah Day's posts so far from her Free Motion Quilting Project and watched the video.  Bet it would help if I practiced the lesson!  Hopefully, tomorrow or Sunday.  She is making it look so easy--the mark of an expert!

And now I'm off to make Block 11 of the 12 Day so Christmas quilt--love this one! 


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Free Motion HELP!

I know, you already spend enough time on the internet, Facebook, Twitter, email--got it!  Me, too.  But I look at this as "research" and "educational opportunities".  Here are a few more places I've found.

But first:  The one quilting goal that is most important to me this year is to improve my free motion quilting skills.  I've been a quilter for more than 25 years and have driven a Bernina for most of those years.  So it's not the machine that's the problem.  It's all operator-error.  I know the secret--I've got to PRACTICE!  More than I do now.  On quilts I care about as well as those that don't have to be fantastic, just adequate.  (Note:  this goal is so important I forgot to write it on my list! It's OK, I'm over 50 so forgetting stuff like that is allowed.)

Leah Day has an excellent blog and recently finished her 365 Days of Quilting designs.  Now she's on to an educational project to help all of us who want to get better.  Her best advice:  Shut up and QUILT!  My advice:  if you keep telling yourself "I Can't", you'll be right.  I'm going to read everything she writes each week and practice lots and lots.  By the end of the year I'll either be able to quilt well enough to satisfy myself or decide I'm only using my feed-dogs from now on--after all, I paid for them, why shouldn't I use them?

The other site I've just learned about is SewCalGal and her 2012 Free Motion Challenge.  She'll have some of the top people in the quilting world offer tips on a monthly basis.  There is sure to be much to learn from this site in 2012. 

Today I got side-tracked with a sweet little project from Temecula Quilt Co. called The 12 Days of Christmas.  For 12 days they post a simple 3" finished block.  Block 1 is one piece, block 2 is 2 pieces, block 3 is 3 pieces, you get the idea.  It took me less than an hour and a half to do the first 9 blocks, including digging out the fabrics:
Three more days, three more blocks, then I'll have a little quilt to hand quilt in the evenings, when I'm not Big Stitching on my Courthouse Step Quilt.

I figure we all have the same 24 hours each day, it's just up to each of us what we do with it.  Me: I'm going to Quilt!


Monday, January 2, 2012

Design Wall Monday--January 2, 2012

Judy L has a fun blog each Monday where she shows what is on her design wall and lots of other people show what they are working on.  If you see something you like, click on their link and take a look at their blog. 

Here is my most recent project.  It doesn't look like much yet but the fan quilting will greatly enhance this simple design.  It's from a lovely new book "Utility Quilting" by Carolyn Forster, from the UK.  I met her at Quilt Market this fall and was very taken with her samples and this upcoming book.  It has several excellent pages on how to do bindings--a common topic new to intermediate quilters always want help with.  The projects are simple so they are ideal for Big Stitch quilting.  I find that fast and fun, yet it still adds the beauty of hand stitching to the quilt.  I'm all for Fine Hand Quilting, and can do it, but some quilts just need a "little love", don't you think? 
Courthouse Step Quilt 72" square

While on Judy's blog, take a look at a new Challenge she has set up for this year. Color Palette Challenge She is working with Vickie Welsh of Field Trips with Fiber to do a monthly challenge using color palettes.  Color is one of the things I get asked about the most--how to choose, how to use, how to know what looks "good".  This would be a fun way to spread your wings with color just a little. 

Tomorrow I'll have a few more links to exciting places on the web to learn quilting tricks.  I know we can't do it all, but I've found 2 that will go a long way in helping me reach my goal to improve free motion quilting.  Stay tuned!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

OK, so that's the most lame title of all, but what else do you say on January 1? 

I dislike the question "What is your New Year's resolution?"   Because for years, since I was 13 or so, isn't it obvious?  My husband of 35 years has learned not to ask unless he wants to be glared at for a protracted period of time.  Yes, of course, lose weight.  I'm working on it, sometimes more diligently than others, but I'll get there. 

Here are my goals for 2012:

1.  Make more quilts--and give some away.  Currently, I'm working on a Pineapple quilt for
Quilts of Valor.

2.  Use the fabric I already OWN--I have a sinful amount of fabric--someday I'll show you the closets.

3.  Get back to 2011 BOM, Ruffled Roses--I got off course last year and need to get back to it:
This is the first 3 months.  I'm doing turned edge machine applique', very cool process, but the prep time is my stumbling block, now that it's tax season again.

4. Keep up with the new BOM being presented by Gay of Sentimental Stitches and Brenda of Dear Jane fame.  It's called JustTakes2 and I have a button down below so you can find it easily.  I just learned of this last night--they were smitten with the Red and White exhibit in NY last March and have designed a sampler style quilt of many different size patterns for 2012.  You don't have to use red and white, of course, but I am going to because I loved that exhibition too.  Should be fun!

5.  Keep up with all of you, as time permits and I have something of interest to say.

6.  Oh, yeah, lose 10% of my body weight by "the wedding", then, lather, rinse, repeat!

So I wish you all a Happy New Year, with lots of love, happiness and quilts!