Sunday, January 26, 2014

New Top

I'm getting very busy at work so quilting time is limited.  But Sunday afternoon is sewing time and I got this top put together:

I'm pretty sure I'll add a dark outer border.  Since I might hand quilt this, I'll decide on the border stencil to use before I cut the borders, so they'll actually fit the quilting design I choose--that's a novel idea!  Most of us add the borders then hunt for quilting designs to fit the space we have.  This time, I'll design the borders to fit the quilting design I select from my closet--I have quite a few stencils. 

Next up is this hand and machine piecing project:

The template is called Antique Rose Star and comes from Material Obsession in Australia.  I learned about it from an English quilting teacher friend, Barb Chainey, when she wrote about it on her blog.  This blog has terrific photos showing how to make this block by hand.  I've done some completely by hand, one completely by machine, and some are "hybrids":  the units of 3 pieces, with a slight Y seam by hand, then joining those units by machine to create the star.  Each way works.

I'll be teaching this to my guild at a summer "Quilt-In" we're having so I hope to get more of these done this winter.  Each block has 72 pieces, and cutting and marking them takes some time.  The hand piecing goes very quickly, believe it or not. 

The quilt show Road to California is held in a beautiful building, with a long atrium inside the convention center.  Each year they feature a California guild and display their work hanging above the crowd.  This year the featured guild is Camarillo Quilt Association and the very first quilt visitors see when they walk into the building is:

Joyful Journey Too--a quilt I made in collaboration with Pamela Joy Spencer Dransfeldt, a super longarm quilter from Camarillo.  Pam was able to attend the show and took this shot as she entered and saw it hanging there.  We are both pleased to see it look so welcoming.  This one belongs to Pam.

Take a look at Judy L's blog to see what others are doing this winter.

I hope the weather isn't terrible where you are--we had a beautiful day here today, upper 50's, with 7 the predicted overnight low for two days from now--crazy!

Let's quilt!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Talking and Teaching

It's tax season, for the last time for me, and this year I'm the "office leader", which means even more hours at work, as if that were possible.  So while I haven't created a whole lot so far this year, I have been "quilty" busy.

At the January quilt guild meeting of the Heritage Quilters of Huntsville,  I was the guest speaker and did a PowerPoint lecture on:    HOUSTON!  The Largest Quilt Show in the US.

George R Brown Convention Center, Houston, TX

Knowing I had this job coming up, I took many photos at Houston this past year.  Putting them together into a comprehensive look at Market and Festival, but keeping it to no more than an hour, took some doing.  We took a tour of the building, since I know many people come to Festival and never leave the first floor.  There's lots more to see and do on the 2nd and 3rd floors, especially the 3rd floor where all the classes, samplers, forums, lectures and luncheons take place.  I rarely get OFF the 3rd floor for the 13 days I am working there in the Education department.  I've been to Houston, Market and Festival for the past 18 years and hope to go for many more. 

The lecture went well, I thought, and I cleared out several years of tote bags with goodies inside when we ended the lecture with a "swag" raffle drawing.  About a dozen happy people got a gift.

Two days later I did one of my most favorite things:  I taught a quilting class at my local quilt shop, Patches & Stitches.  The project was "Southern Star" by Calico Carriage Quilt Designs.  There were 9 students somewhat packed into the classroom but everyone kept a good attitude and all got a lot accomplished in the all-day class.  Here are a few shots of them in action:

Susan with one quarter of her center--My class sample is behind her

Emily with one quarter of her center

Connie's first one quarter of her center

Vicki with her first quarter of the center
In the morning we started on the center, making one quarter.  At home they will repeat this 3 more times for the complete center.

After lunch, we moved on to the side sections:

Joyce's side and center, bright!

Diane's side and center, she'll continue the orange in the borders
Linda did neutral batiks, very dramatic!

Susan, with both center and side, to get the idea what it will look like--King size!

Audra, with side and center pinned together for effect--the center print is the border

Ferne used batiks, the yellow center is fabulous!
My teaching style is to offer several way to do things when appropriate, and encourage everyone to find the method that works best for them.  My motto:  "I want the fastest method that gives me the results I want."  What's fastest for me, might not be best for a new quilter. 

One of the fun things I do in class is to encourage everyone to immediately confess if they sew something incorrectly.  I use that as a "teachable moment" for the rest of the class and then I rip it out!  My goal is to get each student as far in class as she can get that day.  And it's discouraging to rip out in class, so I do it, allowing them to keep on sewing.

We had fun, great quilts will come from this good start, and the students were all gracious in their comments to me after class.  I love to teach and see happy students at the end of the day.

I did manage to get the last of my little applique' blocks sewn last night and, after rearranging the blocks almost incessantly, think this is my final layout:

When I get a few minutes, I'll finish sewing the lower right portion together.  Haven't decided about borders yet.

Linking up to Patchwork Times Design Wall Monday.

Let's quilt!


Monday, January 6, 2014

Time Management for Quilters, Part 1

I am often asked how I get so much quilting done.  In reality, I don't feel like I get enough done but I have some tips that help me use the time I do have to maximize my quilting.  Here's my take on time management:  we all have ALL the time there is, the same 24 hours, so figure out what you want to do with your time and then figure out how to get it done.  We are all busy.  If we had to wait until we could find 3 or 5 or 8 uninterrupted hours to begin, we would never get anything started or done.

My first tips for quilters:

1.  Have a design wall--this helps me see what I'm working on and keeps me motivated to keep at my projects.  Yes, I do have way too many things going at once but don't we all? 
Some of these are active projects, like the Robbing Peter to Pay Paul hand appliqued blocks in the middle.  The upper half is sewn, the lower half is being put up as the blocks are done so I can be sure about color placement.  On the far right are my Antique Star blocks--I'm eager to get back to them--I'll be teaching this at a guild Quilt-In this summer.  I first wrote about them here
On the far upper left is a block I started in a workshop with Marjan Kluepfel, about 10 years ago.   The dragonfly wings are Angelina so it's safer to lay flat--and I will finish this one someday.  Out of sight is out of mind so I like having things visible on the design wall.  There are MANY projects behind the closet doors that haven't seen the light of day for years. 

2.  Have an ongoing machine piecing project ready to go.  For a long time I was working on a four-patch project and am happy to say the top is done and headed to the quilter this week. 
This is made from 1.5" cut squares, sewn into four patches, then groups of four four-patches, then groups of more groups.  It was a great "leader/ender" project as described by Bonnie Hunter on her terrific Quiltville Blog. If I had planned to make this quilt non-stop, as one big quilt project, I would have gone crazy--working on it over time, creating "units", was an easy way to get it done.

 Here is the stuff I have just to my right at the sewing machine:

On the far right are these two little containers, full of 1.5" cut squares, light and dark.  These are cut from scraps of every project I've done.  As part of cleaning up after a project, I cut pieces into the sizes needed for whatever leader/ender project I've got going:

There are many simple blocks you could choose to make as leaders/enders--just choose a color or totally scrappy, cut pieces that are the right size, and as you are starting or ending a seam you can make the parts for that quilt.  You'll be surprised how fast units get done.  I made this quilt, Baby Steps, that way, making nine-patches instead of four-patches, it's a baby quilt ready for the next baby gift I need:
3.  Have an ongoing hand-work project ready to go.  I enjoy both hand piecing and hand applique' and usually have one of each in progress.  Here is a new hand applique' block I just prepared last week:

The pattern is Louisa May's Medallion Quilt by Lori Smith.  I cut the templates, traced the background, prepared the strips of brown for Skinny Stems, and prepared the brown basket shape for reverse applique' of the handles.  All the fabrics I plan to use are in a large tote bag, ready for me to select from once the stems and basket are in place. 

I start back to full-time work tomorrow and will have very little time to prepare projects for the next four months.  Having things ready to go really helps me a lot.  I'll have more tips for you, about once a month, so check back. 

And see what other people are working on at Judy L's blog. A lot of folks are snowed/iced in this weekend so I hope much quilting is underway. 

Let's Quilt!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!

It's that time of year when we turn the page on the old calendar and fill in all those appointments and birthdays on the new calendar.  Oh, wait, that's old school--don't we have all that stuff already in our phone?  Yes, but I still like a beautiful calendar on my kitchen wall--just like the old days.

I sure enjoyed the annual big sale at my local quilt shop, Patches & Stitches.  With at least 25% off and a generous gift certificate from my husband, I really shopped:
The bolt on the bottom is for a back for a large quilt, other pieces are backs (half price table is where I get lots of my back fabrics)  and borders. The top 2 pieces, Baby Feet Flannel and the soft blue, are for a quick baby gift. 

The sale has been going on for more than 30 years and all the local quilters know this is the place to be New Year's Day morning--the place goes from empty to full in minutes!  It was so much fun to see so many of my friends and students--this is where I teach the majority of my classes.  I stayed for 3 hours, putting bolts back up as soon as they were cut at one of the four cutting stations so someone else could find their treasures.  One of the half price tables was empty by Noon!

We tried to introduce a new cat friend to Patches, thinking she "needed" a buddy.  She didn't.  Each day over 4 days she got more aggressive with Tuffy, and it was clear she wasn't going to welcome her into our home.  Tuffy spent most days behind the washer and dryer and hollered.  The shelter has a 2 week trial period to be sure the new pet is a good fit--so they took Tuffy back and I know she'll be a good cat for someone else.   Patches seems perfectly content to be large and in charge so I won't be bringing any more cats home. 

Happy New Year to you and yours--may it be a good year!

Let's Quilt!