Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What Do 4096 Triangles Look Like?

My Lifetime Quilt is progressing:

Each triangle is 1.25" finished. There are 32 of those triangles in one 5" block. Four 5" blocks become one 10" block. Four 10" blocks become one 20" block. Four 20" blocks become one 40" block. Here are two 40" blocks joined together, 80" x 40", about half of what the finished quilt will be, I think. It might become bigger, time will tell.  Here you see 4,096 triangles.

The rest of the story on this quilt and how I came to make it my "Lifetime Project" can be found here:  Lifetime Leader/Ender project.   

Now that this "half" is done it's back to making a bunch of 5" blocks:

They get made as I am piecing other projects, like the Long Time Gone blocks and the Halo Star Medallion quilt. I need to cut more triangles as the bin is getting a little low. I cut leftover fabrics into 1.75" strips, put light/dark strips right sides together, then use a Half-Square Triangle ruler to cut the triangle pairs. They are sewn, pressed and trimmed right along with whatever project I'm working on.

There is very little planning as I assemble the blocks. I try not to use one fabric more than twice in any 5" block. And I try to use a variety of colors in each block.  This one has a lot of green. Some have a lot of brown. I try to have at least one cheddar/gold in each block.

I like to think of some fabric historian having fun with this quilt 100 years from now, trying to guess the years these various fabrics were made. Since some are accurate reproductions of fabrics first printed 100 years ago, that should be interesting detective work.

Let's Quilt!


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Long Time Gone

Long Time Gone is a Jen Kingwell pattern I saw in Houston 2016 and liked. I found a Block of the Month on Homestead Hearth and ordered it, receiving fabrics each month over the course of a year--that started in February. Then I found a blog working on it, one block a week, Gnome Angel and decided to use my own fabrics for the first one. This top will be finished in July. Here is what I have so far:

The sashing between these sets of blocks might be gray, or lavender, or something else entirely. Still on the hunt for the perfect background color.

Yesterday I received my swap quilt from Lori's 4th annual doll quilt swap :

This came to me from Jan H, in Markesan, WI. She hand quilted it, very lovely.

Here  is the one I sent to Danice, only about 75 miles west of me:

I finished a small  quilt the other day, part of the samples for my "Work Faster, Not Harder" class:

My free-motion feathers are getting better, practice makes perfect, so they say. I would forget the direction I was going so some of the feathers are not headed in the "right" direction but some baby doll won't care.  The X blocks are 3" small, the instructions can be found on my Tutorial, here.

Our guild program the other night was about "creative backs". Years ago I made a back that took almost as long to make as the front did, but I was determined to use up as much of the fabrics/parts from the front as I could, to NOT put anything away in the closet. I really like this back but didn't have a photo of it. So here is the Front of Purple Plus!:

And here is the Back:

And, wonder of wonders, Delta fixed my suitcase, this came home the other day:

They ordered a replacement pocket and fixed it--no more rip. Who knew they could do that?! It's ready for its' next trip in just a few weeks, to Spring Market in St. Louis, home of my grand-girl, Stella:


I am eager to do  more ruler work quilting on the Ohio Stars quilt. I got lots of great information in classes in Chicago. Stay tuned,..,

Let's Quilt!


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What's on My Wall

I've been working on Long Time Gone, a Jen Kingwell design:

Crosses of the UK Blocks, 4" finished

Trip Around the World Block, 13" finished

A hand-work project I take on my travels, each petal block is 3.5" finished.

Soon, I'll get back to work on the June instructions for the Halo Star Medallion, 1.5" finished sawtooth borders. After the curved flying geese, they should be a breeze.

Let's Quilt!


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Make Plans: Sapphire Celebration

During all the excitement of the Ruby Jubilee, the 40th anniversary of the International Quilt Festival in 2014, I was often asked if I was making a quilt for the 45th Celebration. I just laughed and said "no", since I had not made "Red and White--By the Numbers" specifically for the 40th anniversary, it was just a matter of lucky timing. See my post here about what that marvelous experience meant to me. I didn't even know what the color scheme for the 45th anniversary would be--now we do:

This spectacular quilt is a Sue Garman design, Sarah's Revival, and it was beautifully executed by Gail Smith and quilted magnificently by Karen McTavish:

It was recently on display in Chicago along with this blue and white art quilt by Sarah Ann Smith:

There were posters and flyers around the show announcing the Sapphire Celebration, Celebrating 45 years, which will be the 45th anniversary of the International Quilt Festival in 2019:

No matter what your style, it's not too early to plan and make a Blue and White quilt. It just might be included in what is sure to be a stunning exhibit of blue and white quilts, a favorite among quilters for many years.  One of the women in my Halo Sunday Sew and Sews group is making her Halo Star Medallion in all blue and white fabrics. It is so beautiful--I hope to see it in Houston in 2019.

I must admit I'm now thinking of a blue and white quilt. I've only made one years ago:

Easy Star Sampler
I gave this away. I've always wanted a blue and white log cabin, maybe it's time to start buying a few blue and white fat quarters...

I hope you'll give some thought to a blue and white quilt. I can assure you it's lots of fun to be included in such a fun event.

Let's Quilt!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Happy News!

Yesterday I got the Happy News:  Stars in a Time Warp was selected for inclusion in the Special Exhibit "In the American Tradition--Pieced Quilts" in Houston 2017:

While this means it won't be in our guild show in October, 2017, it does  mean 60,000 of my closest friends will get to see it.  What a thrill!

A huge thank you to Barbara Brackman for her wonderful history lesson she provided with this project and to Mechelle Armstrong, Magnolia Longarm Quilting for the beautiful and simple way she chose to quilt it.

See you in Houston!

Let's Quilt!


Monday, April 10, 2017

Recovery Day

That's what we call the day after we travel home from working an International Quilt Festival show. For me today that's even more appropriate:  I came home with a bad case of the "head crud". Coughing and stuffy head commenced about the time I left Atlanta and has been most unpleasant today. The air in the hotels is so dry and the air in the planes is too "re-circulated"--a few more days and I should be good as new.

Delta got me where I was going with no delays yesterday, despite the problems that linger from last Wednesday's major storm system. BUT they also did this:

You can just barely see it, but there is a 3" RIP in the front of the beautiful new 29" Travelpro suitcase, which was on its' second ever trip. We noticed it as we put it in the vehicle last night and I thought I'd have to send photos to Delta. NO! I should have gone right back in to the Baggage Service desk to start a claim. This morning I checked online and learned the claim starts at the airport. So, back to the airport we went this morning--I wasn't fit to drive so my husband went with me. They offered to replace it on the spot with new luggage they had but it was all black and 25" or smaller. NO! I want a 29" Travelpro PURPLE suitcase. They shipped it off to see if it can be "repaired" and if not, they'll offer to replace it. Time will tell how that goes. I dug out the original receipt: 8-22-2016 showing the price. I'll let you know what happens. The agent was apologetic and I wasn't mad, it wasn't her fault. Just be nice, things go in your favor more often that way.

I'll keep this short and will have quilt photos later this week. Here is my favorite meal:

A dark greens salad with cranberries, walnuts, blue cheese crumbles, balsamic vinaigrette and the best salmon filet I've had in a while. Park Tavern in the Entertainment District.

Two friends from home drove up, they are sisters and wonderful students who take most of my classes. They had a ball and Jo Anne won a terrific goodie bag at Iron Quilters Challenge:

They drove 11 hours home yesterday and promptly got online and booked a room at the brand new Marriott for Houston and started on flight reservations. I told them our Houston show is at least 8 times bigger than Chicago, they'll have to pace themselves! Chicago next year is a great chance to see wonderful quilts with smaller crowds and have great vendors to visit. Hope to see you there--April 12-14, 2018. I did see several people who follow this blog or are Facebook friends who made it a point to meet me. Fun!

They also attended my two-hour Open Studios presentation "Work Faster, Not Harder--Tips and Tricks for Speedy Quilting". Several people who attended my presentations the past two years were front and center when I went on--they were eager to hear what I had to teach them this time and I was glad to see familiar faces. I talked for two hours non-stop and was a bit froggy by the end but the loud round of applause at the end made it worthwhile:

My beautiful purple suitcase weighed 6 lbs more coming home and here is all I bought:

I was all packed up and ready to leave my hotel room for the airport yesterday when I did one last check to be sure I had everything--I did NOT! Here is what I almost left behind:

My bag with ALL my supplies for my Open Studios presentation, including two finished quilts. So glad I didn't leave that behind--I am teaching that as a 3 hour, hands-on class this summer. And I love those two quilts. Always double/triple check your room before you leave.

Today is our 41st wedding anniversary. I was lucky to find the best Marine out of 2000 at The Basic School in 1975 and he found the best woman out of 50. My philosophy of what makes a great marriage:  When each person thinks they are the lucky one, and they are BOTH right. That is still us:

That's it for now, more to follow. I thought I would sew today but I'm still in "recovery" mode so it will be tomorrow or the next day before I am safe around sharp implements.  Let's Quilt!


Friday, March 31, 2017

Halo Star Medallion--Month 4

OK, it's time to tackle those Curved Flying Geese blocks.  I'm not easily intimidated, but I was a wee bit nervous about this step.  But, I can assure you, the curves can be pieced smoothly and accurately and you will be happy with the added impact these blocks provide to your very detailed quilt.  Some Tips:

1, READ ALL THE DIRECTIONS.  Use a highlighter to take note of the important steps. Read them again, before you start. NOTE: I've been asked the size of the curved arc so you can be sure your paper is printed the correct size.  Measure the straight line at the base of the "goose"--it is 1.25" finished so the arc is 1.75" wide,  UN-finished, measuring straight across the base of the "goose".

2. Yardage for Background:  I am using several different backgrounds, various tan/beige prints.  It occurred to me I'd better be sure I had enough of the one fabric I wanted to use to make the 36 Curved Flying Geese blocks.  The pattern has the background squares cut at 8"--this is oversize but makes it easy to sew.  If you cut those background squares 8", you need about 2.75 yards of background--this includes the 2" strips cut to make the "sky" triangles for each block.  I only had just over 2 yards SO I decided to see if cutting the squares 7" would work.  It does.  Now I needed 70" or just under 2 yards--success!  IF you want to be really frugal, you can cut the background pieces from a 6" square, though it will be tight.  I recommend you do the first one with an 8" square, then try a 7" square, then decide which you prefer.

3.Cut out all the pieces needed for the paper pieced curved geese.  I am using lots of fabrics from my stash.  Each curve has 8 "geese" triangles and 16 background "sky" triangles.

4. Make one paper pieced arc at a time:  I thought I could chain piece two or three at a time, but it was easier to do one at a time and kept my fabrics in the order I selected them.  Remember to use a small stitch, 1.5 for me, and TRIM SEAM ALLOWANCES TO AN EIGHTH OF AN INCH.  At first I thought that 1/8" was really tiny, and it is, but it works and really helps will all these seams.  The green Add-an-Eighth Ruler works great.  Once I got going, I could piece one of these in 20 minutes.  Make 18 this month:

5. Use good Scissors to cut the curve:   I am a huge fan of Karen K Buckley's Perfect Scissors--the serrated edges gripped the paper and fabric firmly as I trimmed exactly on the printed line. You don't want to accidentally cut into that curve you spent so much time making. These are the medium size scissors, the larger scissors would work as well. After trimming the curved edges, I removed the paper, per Sue's instructions.

6. Cut Background Squares; As I said, I found I could cut them 7" and still be successful. You decide which you prefer.  Because we are making 36 of these blocks, I took a few minutes to create the background templates from template plastic.  This makes it easy to draw the lines on  the reverse side of the fabric--I use a mechanical pencil for a smooth, fine line. I also use a sandpaper board to secure the fabric squares for easy tracing.  Fine grit sandpaper does the trick.  This board I made years ago from sandpaper squares and cardboard.  The easiest way to make a sandpaper surface is to tape or glue a sheet of sandpaper inside a manila file folder--that way, the sandpaper doesn't stick to fabrics when not in use--just close the folder. 

After tracing the squares, I followed Sue's instructions for marking the centers and the outer edges. Then I used the Karen K Buckley scissors again to CAREFULLY trim on the curved lines.  The templates include the seam allowances all around, so you are cutting precisely on those curved pencil lines. Don't trim the straight lines--we'll do that after sewing.

7. Piece those curves: when you are rested and ready for this step. I watched Carolyn Hock's show again, #2001.  She used paper she is leaving in place so did not remove the paper.  I took the paper off and had no problem using a quarter-inch foot to get the proper seam allowance:

Background shown here is cut from 8" square, most I cut 7" 
8. Make tiny snips:  There are tiny snips placed at the center of the large piece, less than 1/4" deep, and the two outer edges of the large piece. Sue has good photos of that. I did not make any snips on the skinny curved piece:

9. Use as many pins as you need: Sue pinned the seams with lots of pins.  I used 3 pins.  As Carolyn said, "keep your bum on the bottom"--this means when I joined the geese to the baseball diamond-shaped piece, the geese were on the top.  When I joined that unit to the outside skinny curved piece, the geese were on the bottom. I pinned the center first, then put a pin at the two outer edges of the curved geese.  Remember, that background is extra big so you don't pin the curved geese to the outside edge of the background, you pin it to the mark:

Sew slowly, breathe, you can do this!

10. First curve: I use a stiletto to hold the two edges together. Here I am approaching the pin at the center. Remove the pin just as you get to it:


11.Second Curve: this time the geese are on the bottom.  Again, I used 3 pins:

The stiletto holds the edges together as I sew, slowly:


Reverse side, press toward the background pieces, I used a dry iron so I didn't distort the piecing. Press firmly to be sure all your beautiful geese points are visible:

JUST A NOTE: Hands Free Sewing: I teach a LOT of classes and often see students who sew on Bernina machines, NOT using the knee-lift for their presser foot.  They just haven't learned how. This tool makes sewing like this so much more enjoyable--use the knee-lift to raise the presser foot as you stitch slowly, pivoting slightly as you go--this keeps your hands in place, stiletto secure to the fabrics.  The BEST advice I got with my first Bernina, 30 years ago, is to "drive" with my left foot.  It took less than a day of sewing to get used to that, but what a difference it made in using the knee-lift.  I am not associated with Bernina in any way, other than being a satisfied customer. If you aren't using your knee-lift, force yourself to learn to use it--you'll thank me later.

12. Square up those Blocks: I liked Carolyn's idea of using a ruler to square up the blocks.  I used a 5.5" ruler, and taped a paper foundation of the curved flying geese unit, minus the seam allowances, to the bottom of the ruler.  This made it easy to line up exactly where the square should be cut. I worked from the FRONT SIDE, though you could just as easily work from the back side. First cut:

After the second cut. Notice this was an 8" square of background, you can see how much excess fabric there is.  The 7" squares make less excess fabric. The excess you see here is more than 2" wide--enough to cut a few 2" squares for more "sky" squares:

13 What Could Go Wrong: in a perfect world, your curves will be precise and smooth, with no tucks or puckers.  BUT, sometimes things happen.  Here I got a small tuck on the bottom side of the first curve:

I un-sewed less than an inch of stitching and found I could easily work that slight excess fabric in by sewing on the baseball diamond side, the side you see here.  I only had to re-sew an inch and all was well.  This may happen a few times while making 36 of these.  It's part of the process, just fix it and move on. (Update: all 36 of mine are done, this happened twice.)

ONE MORE NO GOOD, AWFUL, VERY BAD THING that can go wrong: Be careful when cutting the curves--pay attention to the line you SHOULD be cutting.  There is no save for this, I had to make another entire curved flying geese arc:

Boulder! Boulder! Boulder! That's a big DAM!
Making progress:

18 blocks made and up on the design wall

I found once I got going sewing these curves I could complete a block in about 10 minutes.  It's not about the time involved but I do like to have an idea how long these steps will take me, for planning purposes...  This month you will make 18 blocks.  Next month, you will make:

18 more blocks, same size, same process. So, if you finish April early and can't stand to wait for May 1, the process for May is the same.  Also, in May, we will create the borders with these blocks, and calculate, cut and sew on the floaters needed to join these curved flying geese borders to the center of our quilt.

Let's quilt!


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Summer Class Line-Up

It's just barely Spring, but the Summer class schedule is being prepared at my local shop, Patches & Stitches, Huntsville, AL.  Just a note:  "Patches" has been serving quilters and needleworkers in Huntsville continuously for 39 years, with the SAME owner.  I think that just might be a record.  I have taught there for 29 years, since moving here.

Here is my schedule of classes for Summer 2017:

SUMMER ROMANCE, June 27 and July 11, 5:30-8:30. Requested by several students who saw this on my living room wall when they came to my Sale last year.

Glad Creations pattern

LEARN TO QUILT THIS WEEKEND, June 23, 24, 9-4 and Sunday June 25, 12-4. For beginners, something entirely NEW, a "soup to nuts" class, the idea is they make the top Friday and Saturday and start the quilting on  Sunday. Fabric kits will be available if they choose:

My personal design, Italian Shoo Fly #2
QUILTMAKING 202--Feathered Star, June 10, 9-4. Continuation of QM 202 offered now, this is a 12" non-paper pieced Feathered Star. For those who want to improve their skills and aren't afraid of a bit of a challenge. The other 5 blocks shown here are taught in Quiltmaking 202--The Next Step, currently being offered in this Winter 2017 schedule:

SCRAP MONKEY, June 13, 5:30-8:30. A fun way to use up scraps and make Monkey Wrench blocks. This sample was made as a gift for me by my friend, Ellen, and is a favorite of mine:

TRAVELING PROJECT: Handwork Made Easy. night class June 20, 5:30-8:30 OR day class June 16, 9-noon. I always have handwork ready to go with me on trips or when I want to slow-stitch. This is English Paper Pieced with diamonds. Students can create these tumbling blocks OR star blocks. Options for the borders will be taught. Don't leave home without a project:

WORK FASTER, NOT HARDER: speedy ways to do LOTS of things in quilting. A brand new class based on the two hour Open Studios presentation I'm giving in Chicago next week:

BEAUTIFUL BORDERS AND BINDINGS. August 8, 5:30-8:30. Every two years, a few months before our guild quilt show, I offer this 3 hour lecture/demo class on how to improve your finished edges, an important step that really creates a top-notch quilt. Students are invited to bring works in progress for suggestions and learn lots of tips to finish their quilts beautifully:

Obviously, I love to teach and am always thinking of new classes or how to improve the much-loved classes.  I hope to see YOU in class.

Let's Quilt!