Friday, September 18, 2015

Quilt Show is Around the Corner

A guild quilt show that takes two years to plan and execute can seem to take forever to arrive.  Then, BAM!, it's right around the corner and there are all those little things, and some not so little, to finalize.  Three weeks from today, October 9, 2015, Fanfare 2015 Quilt Show and Sale will open in Huntsville, AL.  See all the info about the show here.  There is also a Facebook Event here.  If you are anywhere within driving distance, come to the show--you'll be glad you did!!

We have arranged for several nice incentive prizes to encourage our members to volunteer for all the jobs that must be done.  The committee has done all it can to prepare, the rest of the jobs have to be filled by the membership.  As an incentive to sell raffle tickets, the person who sells the most tickets will be awarded this little quilt that I've been working on this week:

It is a replica of the Raffle quilt, Celtic Solstice, designed by Bonnie Hunter and used with her permission.  These blocks are 50% smaller, 6" blocks, vs. 9" blocks in the quilt and is 21" square.  The fabrics are leftover from the Raffle quilt.  I used wool batt and will add some free motion quilting on my new machine--when I get the courage to tackle something I really care about instead of just "practice" blocks. 

Here is the Raffle Quilt and it's not too late to buy tickets--you don't have to be present to win:

Queen-Size, 94" square

The other thing I make time for each week are the Stars in a Time Warp QuiltAlong from Barbara Brackman.  This week it's Lancaster Blue and/or Greek Key designs.  I didn't have any Greek Key fabric but I did have the lovely Lancaster Blue:

I still have to finish hand quilting one of my show entries, sew the binding in place on a very large quilt and add all 3 labels to my 3 entries.  It will all get done, I just have to keep at it. 

Tomorrow I'm riding our guild bus to the AQS show in Chattanooga where I will meet up with my good quilting friend, Ellen and her daughter, Lauren, and see Anne Francoise again, she's visiting from Switzerland and seeing a lot of the South this trip.  She brought a sweet onesie for my grand-girl Stella, featuring the Swiss  National Flower, Edelweiss--may you have an earworm all day of that song from the Sound of Music:

Every morning you greet me
Small and white, clean and bright
You look happy to meet me
Blossom of snow
May you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever...

Let's Quilt!


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Teaching Quilt Classes

I love to teach classes and Fall sees me back in the classroom quite a bit--with beginning students in a 5-week course, and shorter classes of various projects throughout the Fall. 

Yesterday I taught "Bali Sky", the Carpenter's Star pattern from Calico Carriage Designs.  It is a very easy version of the Broken Star pattern, made with half-square triangles and no set-in seams.  It makes a fast project when you need a gift, whether it's a wallhanging or bed-size quilt.

My Sample, 36" square
A special treat for me was this was set up so a friend from Switzerland could attend.  I met Anne Francoise in Houston, we became Facebook friends, and when she let me know she was coming to the US in September we arranged for her to attend both my lecture September 10 and this class September 12.  She's also been to Nashville and Paducah and is heading for Chattanooga, where we will see each other again next weekend there.

Quilters are great people and folks made sure to welcome her to our events.  On Friday she was on her own and was surprised to be greeted at two quilt shops by women who had attended the lecture the night before or knew she was coming because I told them she would be shopping that day.  She even went to the same restaurant she and I had eaten at Thursday night and had the same server, who remembered her and that she was from Switzerland.  Anne Francoise said she felt like a celebrity, being greeted so warmly at unexpected places. 

All the students made great progress, some making 3" squares, some 6" and some 7.5" for a queen-size quilt:

Anne Francoise' American Memory

JoAnne speeding through the rows
All rows sewn and labeled--ready to pack up

Susan making a Queen size--the star includes deep red fabric--really striking with the black and gray!

Ina working away on a Christmas wallhanging

Kim, a new quilter making her first quilt, a Christmas wallhanging--she made great progress and learned  a lot
Sorry to say, I did not get photos of Yvonne, Pat and Laura working hard on their large quilts--they know to send me photos when they get theirs done.  Everyone did well and will be finishing these projects soon.

The lecture on Thursday night, "The Hard Stuff", went well.  The Madison Station Quilters were welcoming and I saw many friendly faces in the crowd.  I love Show and Tell and saw these beauties:

I ended with this image, warned them not to hit the hard stuff until the sewing was done, and gave this bit of advice when working on more challenging quilt patterns: 

It's only hard if you tell yourself it's hard.
Take it slow.
Follow instructions and tips given with the pattern.
Figure out which techniques work for you, there's more than one way to achieve most results.


Let's quilt!



Thursday, September 10, 2015

Bernina Q20 Sit-Down Long Arm Quilting Machine

A few weeks ago at Quilt!Knit!Stitch!  in Portland, OR, I bought the Bernina Q20 Sit-Down Long Arm Quilting Machine. 

This is how it looks without the two extension tables--this is how it will look most of the time, until I start doing large quilts. The wonderful Bernina Ergonomic sewing chair is coming soon, from Switzerland.

It's a big investment and my friends probably think I'm nuts, but I did it.  It arrived yesterday.

Five large, heavy boxes on a pallet, delivered by UPS Freight.  The woman who called me the day before to set up the delivery appointment scared me.  She said the driver was only "required" to unload the pallet off the truck and put it down--not to deliver it to my garage.  Yikes!  She did say most of the drivers were "nice" and would "probably" help me get the 343 lb. pallet into the garage.  Double yikes!  No worries, however--the driver lowered the pallet with the truck lift gate, the small lift was already in the pallet bottom and he happily followed me to the garage, no questions asked.  Relief!  And the rain that was forecast held off for a few more hours. 

My beloved husband had come home early to help with this.  We unpacked the pallet in the garage, five large, heavy boxes had to be hauled into the house.  It was hot and humid and we were quickly soaked and dripping.  Water and Gatorade kept us going.  The bottom box, of course, held the main part of the cabinet, which opens to provide storage under the two extension tables--that's where the cabinet assembly instructions were.  Once the boxes were in the house, in 3 rooms, he started the cabinet.  He's very handy and the instructions were good so it went together pretty easily.  I stayed out of the way until he needed more hands.  In just under 3 hours, I was stitching.  He said he felt like he'd done a full day's work and we were really sweaty but it got done.

My first stitching--still need lots of practice but the machine makes lovely stitches without much effort.  No gloves or anything other than my hands on the fabric.

 Right side extension area open--this is the storage area, left side has the same amount of storage.

Both extensions are in here, the table is now 78" wide x 36" deep, throat space is 20".

Here's the plan--I have a bunch of quilt sandwiches prepared and stacked, some are pieced, some are pre-printed, most are solid fabric on top, print on bottom.  Each day I'll start the day with 20 minutes of practice--focusing on one design each day for those 20 minutes.  Some days I'll be able to spend more time but each day, the first 20 minutes in the studio will be for machine quilting practice.

Here's the 20 minutes I played around with this morning, in addition to older stitching already done on this practice piece. 

I have a bunch of quilt tops that need to be quilted so I need to get to those, AFTER the guild Quilt Show October 9-11, and AFTER Houston, October 21-November 2.  I am taking two free motion classes there, one with Sue Nickels, one with Helen Godden--I know I'll benefit greatly from both of those.

Do I have buyer's remorse?  A little, especially as it took more than 3 weeks to arrive.  But I just have to make time to use it to finish quilts.  And I can always rent time on it, right?  It's a terrific machine that is very easy to use.  Stay tuned for progress reports.

Now I have  a little more to do to prepare for tonight's presentation to the Madison Station Quilters guild, on "The Hard Stuff".

Let's quilt!


Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Hard Stuff

I'm giving a presentation to the Madison Station Quilters next week on "The Hard Stuff".  I'll talk about these more challenging quilts:

Mariner's Compass, made 2001, original pattern

Double Wedding Ring--this is a mini, made 2009, pattern by Virginia Robertson

Feathered Stars: Joyful Journey made 2009, pattern by Sue Garman

The PowerPoint is ready and I did step-outs for blocks needed for my next quilt, Diamond Jubilee.  I'm about a year and a half behind in starting that one so this was a good reason to get started.  Here are the 2 blocks I made this week:

These are 15" finished stars.  One I made by Foundation Paper Piecing with Sue Garman's pattern, Stars for a New Day.  The other I did by regular piecing.  The problem with that:  those feathers are a weird size for regular piecing:  13/16".  Yes, I did all the measurements in sixteenths of an inch--crazy!  At the lecture, I'll have suggestions on how not to make it so hard.

I've also been plugging away at the Barbara Brackman  Stars in a Time Warp QuiltAlong blocks.  Here are the last four weeks:

Barbara Brackman is the queen of quilt block history and has written many books about this wonderful topic.  I have them all and this is a great way to learn more about fabrics and techniques over the centuries.  I am making two 6-inch Sawtooth Stars each week--I now have 68 blocks done.  Each week, Barbara shows some possibilities for how to use our stars and I'm beginning to think about how I want to set them.  Time will tell.  Here are a couple possibilities:
I'm on the lookout for a Printed Center Medallion panel

A lifetime of Applique' though
Now it's time to get those garments started for Houston--that will be here before I know it.

Let's Quilt!