Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Taking My Show On the Road

Tine to travel to teach. Since we drove, this was possible:

It is so nice to sleep under one of my quilts away from home.

The plans for me to teach at Panama City, FL for the St. Andrew Bay Quilters Guild began to come together almost a year ago. Originally, it was scheduled for March 2017 but a conflict in their schedule caused it to be pushed back to now. When I realized March is at the height of "Spring Break" I was happy with this change. The weather was lovely and crowds were non-existent.

First up was my Trunk show, kind of a history of my 35 years of  quiltmaking. I included the first quilt I ever made, a baby size Double Irish Chain from a mail-order house, all pre-cut. In those days, pre-rotary cutter, this was an amazing thing. I hand quilted it and finished it in December 1986. SO glad I put labels on all my quilts, starting back then. The most recent finish, Long Time Gone, was included as well. I took about 2 dozen quilts--as many as I could squeeze into two big suitcases:

About 60 people came to see the "show", including an old friend who used to live in Huntsville--I hadn't seen her in 12 years. A few others came because a student of mine here at home told them to be sure and come--they were warmly welcomed by the guild as guests.

Some on the left:
Some on the right:
What you don't see yet is all the fans that were waving during the show--the AC wasn't working and it was a warm, humid Florida night. I began by telling the crowd perspiration was good for our skin and we would lose a few pounds that evening. Let's just say my lovely linen tunic was drenched when I returned to the hotel.

The following day 16 students came armed with sewing machines, irons, and electric FANS! The room had cooled off a bit overnight but warmed back up as we all got going.

If you are making a quilt from "strata"--strips of fabrics sewn into panels, it is often important to have light/dark placement correct. This was on of those projects. Here is a tip I shared: take a photo then view it in black and white--you will be able to see which fabric reads "darker" than it's neighbor:

We had a great time and the first day flew by. I began with instructions to the entire group, then those who had pre-cut strips were ready to sew and those who wanted fabric selection assistance, got that. At regular intervals, I gathered everyone together to give instruction on the next step so those who were ready could move along. My favorite Elly-ism from Elly Sienkiewicz is "We advance for the swift and repeat for the deliberate." I watch each student to see who needs more assistance and who is ready to move on. And I keep the pace pretty fast--there is a lot to accomplish before I leave town. At the end of that first day most students are tired but impressed with what they got done.

First thing the morning of the second day, I got a photo of the class showing off what they had done the day before. We only had 3 hours that day and I know someone always leaves early so photos get forgotten at the end of class:

A few of my closest quilt friends recently asked me "Why are you working this hard, traveling to teach? Aren't you retired?" Yes, this second "career" has become much more involved than I expected  three years ago but I've been teaching for 30 years. Here is why:

1. Before class started day 2, the Workshop Chair and Treasurer both said to me, separately "We want you to come back, how does your schedule look for next year?" Thank you, Sarah and Betty.

2.Three students said to me, separately, "I almost didn't take this class, I thought it would be too hard for me, you made it easy. I'm so glad I came." Thank you, ladies.

3. One student told me the first day she was a stroke survivor and had difficulty with spatial instructions: up/down/left/right--there is a lot of that in this quilt. At the end of the workshop she proudly showed me her two blocks, light and dark, completely finished and said "It's a MIRACLE!" Thank you, Lee, and thanks for the gift of Cranberry Red Pepper Jelly--it is yummy!

4. One student said "You are the best teacher I've ever had. You don't just teach the project, you teach us to quilt.". Yes, it is my goal, wish and desire in each class that each student will learn more than expected and will pick up tips and tricks to improve their quiltmaking going forward. Thank you, Loretta.

5. Students often want to work "outside the box", in this case using 2.5" strips instead of 2" strips. These two friends made that decision the night before class, after my lecture, when they realized they had signed up for class the next day but had not yet prepared.  Jelly rolls at the ready, they were good to go:

They also decided to combine their blocks, which are 7" larger than the standard size, into one small quilt which they will now border and donate to the guild boutique at their next show. I love when the whole class can see an alternative option that students have come up with:  Thank you, Carol and Bonnie.

6. Every good teacher will tell you we learn from our students too. I always ask for constructive criticism on my handout or verbal instruction. One student showed me privately how she found it helpful to pin each pair each time, rather than just stack them and then pin only once. I introduced the "Loretta method" to those who were getting confused and they found it very helpful. An update to my handout is in order. Thank you, Loretta.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea--I teach because I can't live forever and being able to share my knowledge and inspire others to keep creating the work of their heart and hands makes me feel good. I tell all my students: "Making a quilt is an expensive way to get bedding. We are making gifts for generations yet unborn." That is why you really must add a label to all your quilts--see more on that here. When I'm gone, I want to be remembered.

One more big Thank You! My husband did all the driving, we both prefer it that way and he didn't even complain about having to fill his day and a half alone. After class ended at noon the second day we headed 4.5 hours west to Ocean Springs, MS to visit his sister and her kids and grandson. All in all, we drove 1100 miles and both thought it was a good trip. Perhaps we'll be going back in the next year or two.

I am teaching this class at Road to California January 2018. I don't know how a two-day, all day class will be received at a big show like this, but as long as some show up, we'll have a great time. Did I mention we laugh a lot in my classes?

Oh, one more thing, if I had taken food photos, it would have been seafood on Thursday, seafood on Friday, seafood on Saturday, etc. But we did stop here for lunch headed out of town:

And I got a brief stop at Quilting by the Bay, a legendary quilt shop I've always wanted to visit:

You should stop in if you get to that area--easy to find and full of fabulous stuff!

Now it's time to focus on Houston preparation--all is ready at the George R. Brown Convention Center so all we have to do is show up. It's the highlight of my year.

Let's Quilt!


Monday, September 18, 2017

On The Road Again

Just can't wait to get on the road again! Soon I'll be heading to Panama City, FL to give a trunk show and teach a two-day workshop. It will be wonderful to BE there, doing what I dearly love, but the GETTING there, ah, there is the rub.

First, since my lecture is a trunk show, I had to decide which quilts to take, which have good stories, or make a strong visual statement about me and my work. Having decided that, I make written Notes so I have the correct information: dates made, pattern if not my original design, who quilted it if not me, etc. Fortunately, I am diligent in putting printed labels on all my quilts to provide that information. You may think you won't forget, but I'm  here to tell you, you will.

Now, how many suitcases do I need and will they all fit? As I'm driving that's not quite as big a deal as it is when flying. A really BIG suitcase and a smaller one will do it if I squish them down flat. I'm sorry quilts, to have to squish you so, I'll make it up to you by laying you out flat when I get you back home. And one of you will get the honor of going on my hotel bed:

See, they all made it, about a dozen bed size quilts and a couple smaller ones:

Just when I think I'm done, I look around a see a few more--surely, it won't hurt to throw these small ones in too, they're little, they'll fit:

Then there is the paperwork, invoice, receipts, handouts, and my personal handwork I never leave home without:

In prepping for every class I teach, I review in detail my handout and all the various steps to the process so I sound like I know what I'm talking about. This always gets me excited and eager to get in front the students and get them going. We DO have fun in my classes. I've been teaching for 30 years so I'm not an overnight success.

Now, what am I forgetting? Oh, yes, my clothes and personal items. They go in another suitcase, after I figure out exactly what I'm wearing and make sure every outfit is clean and ready to go.

Sorry to say I forgot to take any photos at the first session of Long Time Gone that started this past Saturday. There are 13 happy students on this 6-month adventure. In class, I do the demo sewing and explain how to make that month's assigned blocks, they bring fabric to cut and prep in class and sew at home. It worked very well and I kept to the exact 3 hour schedule, getting in everything I wanted to explain. Sometimes you find you need more time so things get a bit rushed, but this seemed to be just enough time. Next month I'll be sure to take photos of their "homework".  Here's my finished sample:

Long Time Gone, a pattern by Jen Kingwell Designs

And I am making a second one of these as part  of this 6 month class:

I hope you are making something that makes you happy--let's quilt!


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Halo Sunday Sew and Sews

This is Month 9 of the Block of the Month from www.thequiltshow.com. The quilt is called the Halo Star Medallion and is a free pattern for members of the The Quilt Show:  the Block of the Month 2017. It is not too late to start or at least gather the patterns, they remain free until December 31, 2017. After that the rights go back to the designer's company, Sue Garman of www.comequilt.com. You will have to buy the pattern after 2017. There is also a beautiful Batik kit available if you like:
Batik Kit.

Last January I offered to teach this to a small group at my home, once a month, on Sunday afternoon. I wasn't sure if anyone in my guild would be interested--at 15 people I had to say "no more". I call them the Halo Sunday Sew and Sews. Nine of them were here today. I left my design wall empty on purpose, so I could show you how they are doing. Ready?

Sheila, so dramatic and vibrant

Janet, I told her she has to have this ready for 2019, the Sapphire Celebration at Houston

Brenda, ready to attach flying geese

Pam, despite breaking both wrists in February, she's back on track
Donna, her geese are almost done and ready to add
JoAnne, checkerboard, no pinwheels for her, geese up next
I am so proud of how well they are doing--only a few of these women call themselves "experienced quilters". They are having a good time, learning a lot, and even with busy lives, managing to stay pretty much up to date. As I tell them, it's not a race, just do what you can, as you can, and enjoy the process.  The other members of the group had to miss today or didn't bring their quilt with them.

In December we'll have a little party to celebrate--I bet a few of these are completely done then and I'll be delighted to share them with you.

Let's Quilt!


Antique Rose Star--A Top Class for Everyone

I recently had the opportunity to teach one of my FAVORITE classes--Antique Rose Star by Machine.

My Sample Quilt hanging in HQH Quilt Show 2015

Although this is an old pattern, I first discovered it 7 years ago when an English friend, Barbara Chainey, showed her hand-pieced blocks on Instagram. Wow--I loved her blocks and the wonderful design. I contacted her and found out the template was available from Material Obsession, a shop in Australia. I ordered 10 of them, knowing this would be a great class to develop and teach. I was off and running and haven't looked back since.
Barbara Chainey's blocks that got me started

I developed a way to organize the 72 pieces for each block that really helps and created a handout for students to assist them. Over time, new ideas for machine piecing this 60 degree angle have been explained and now I incorporate those new ideas too. It is always my goal in all my classes that each student learns more than they expected to and learns tips and tricks that will improve all their quiltmaking. 

After my quilt was done I discovered the quilt pattern in the book Material Obsession 2, by Kathy Doughty of the shop in Australia. It shows this block with two different layouts and there are additional layouts I also explain to my students. The layout I used was a bit difficult because I sewed the blocks completely together while making them. If left in two halves, assembly of the quilt top can be much easier than I did mine. More lessons to teach students.
Dianne's block in two halves

There are 72 "kite" shapes in each block. It can be assembled with several techniques:

hand-piecing with a running stitch, needle and thread
machine piecing, all by machine, or both hand and machine piecing in the same block
English Paper Piecing--cut or buy paper shapes and wrap fabric around the shapes, then whipstitch the pieces together.

You can use Reproduction fabrics, Modern fabrics, 30's fabrics, Batiks, whatever you like will look fabulous in this pattern. There are now templates available in several sizes, making it easier than ever to get started on this quilt.

I have taught this class at least a dozen times locally and am now teaching it nationally--it's one of my classes at Road to California 2018--there are still a few spots left in it.  This is one of those classes I am known for and love to teach.  The wonderful women of the Needle Chasers Guild in Iuka, MS brought me in to teach this to them, as a pre-retreat class. I've been with them 4 times in the last 12 years and truly enjoy my time with them. And the location they retreat to: J P Coleman State Park on Pickwick Lake--absolutely a fantastic location and a huge room for classes.

The 18 students had a good time and everyone made excellent progress. Here are a few shots:

Spectacular Views of Pickwick Lake
I saw water birds and boats throughout the day--a beautiful spot!

Nelda thought she'd hand piece but was intrigued by my machine piecing instructions 

Nelda--her half block done

Rita with her half block

Madge has a half block

Connie made great progress

Sharon use a collection of charm packs to make her first block

Adrienne, the only one who hand pieced hers, cutting out and staying organized

Miss Mississippi (I think), bright and happy

Diane, likes to be very organized so she carefully cut most of the day

Barbara, her second block of the retreat
President Doris, getting her wedges together

Polly?, I think, soft and lovely block, two halves

Nancy did some fussy cutting and has a great plan in mind for her quilt

I would LOVE to teach this to you or your group. If you are local, it will be on the Spring 2018 schedule at Patches & Stitches. If you aren't local, we can make a plan. It is just one of those "Dorito quilts"--hard to make only one. I am working on my second, using very bright fabrics.

Let's Quilt!


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Happy Halloween?

This project has consumed me for a week. The top is done, now to baste and machine quilt it.

What you need to know: I am not much of a Halloween fan. It was always a challenge to create costumes for my boys when they were little then we were surrounded with candy for weeks after. Ugh.

BUT. My son, Andy, LOVES Halloween and always has. He and Lauren start decorating their home October 1, watch at least one horror movie a day for all 31 days, and can't wait for October 31. When he met Lauren and she agreed to go to Zombie Prom with him, where everyone dresses up as Zombies with incredibly ghoulish makeup I told him he'd better keep her. A woman with an education and a job, who loves that kind of thing too? She's a keeper.

SO, when I had Lauren and Andy go into Market in St. Louis last May I should not be surprised they spotted this pattern and took photos and got booth numbers. I wanted them to see all the different kind of quilts, garments, accessories, and other things at Quilt Market, different from the kind of quilts I make. They sure did. Later I bought the pattern, and got glow-in-the dark thread as the pattern suggests for the satin stitching around all those pieces.

Some of those pieces are really tiny. First, I had to trace all the patterns onto fusible web. Then fuse and cut them out of white fabric. Next, I fused the pieces to black backgrounds. Stitching around all those  pieces took a few days.

THEN, there were hundreds of threads to be pulled to the back and tied off. I got my husband  AKA PopPop, involved in this step. His first, and probably last, quilt project. Such sighing and fussing you've never heard:

What you should know about glow-in-the-dark thread: it MELTS when touched with a HOT iron, as I learned when pressing the sashing in place. The pattern warned of this, I learned the hard way. The other thing is the Superior Glow-in-the-Dark thread has 80 yards on the spool--I bought 2 spools thinking that would be plenty--there was about 36" of thread left on the second spool when I finished. Glad I didn't melt more than a few spiderwebs that had to be restitched.

The border fabric is also Glow in the Dark spiderwebs--I found it online in an Etsy shop.  It really does glow in the dark though I can't get a photo to prove it:

The final part of quilting and binding and shipping it off to St. Louis will be the fun part of this project. I hope to have that done in a few days. That might be wishful thinking as I have 2 out of state teaching jobs this month and start several local classes too.

If you are interested in a slightly-used copy of the pattern at a great price, let me know. There will not be another one of these in my future. I will say the directions were excellent:

Happy Halloween!

Let's Quilt,


Friday, September 1, 2017

Halo Star Medallion--Month 9

Let's make more geese and add them to the quilt:

The right side border is made exactly as we made the left side last month, 43 geese in all.

The top and bottom borders are made the same but have 47 geese each. WATCH OUT when adding the the first two geese to the top and bottom borders--they go on in a different direction so they turn the corner nicely. PLEASE NOTE: MY TOP BORDER IS WRONG! (The two geese on the far left should face down--OOPS!)  I discovered this after the entire top was completed so it is staying this way. So, do as the pattern says, not as I did, if you want your top border to look like the pattern.

After you have all four borders made, use the chart on page 3 to calculate the size "floater" you need to join the flying geese borders to your quilt center. I needed a .5" finished floater so mine were cut 1" wide by the required length.

It's no more difficult to add a tiny border than a wide one. Here are my steps whenever I add a border to a quilt, no matter how wide or narrow:

1. Carefully cut the borders exactly the required size based on your calculations--don't fudge

2. Mark the center of the border and the center of the quilt--I fold and press both, the border right sides out, the quilt rights sides in, use a mechanical pencil to make a mark on those folds

3. Pin the two outside edges and the center of quilt and borders. I sew with the pieced border on top

4. Carefully pin one side from the outer edge to the center. Use as many pins as you need--I place pins about 3" apart. Repeat pinning from the other side to the center. The more pins I use, the easier it is to sew straight and it slows me down, which also helps me sew straight

5. Sew as straight as you can, slow down. With the pieced border on top, you can see the seam allowances and won't get them flipped in the wrong direction

6. After sewing on the floater, carefully press it, seam allowance pressed in to the floater. Try not to distort that tiny floater--steam is not your friend during this step--a hot, dry iron is best

Once the four floaters were in place, I added the four flying geese borders. These I also pressed in toward the tiny floater--my floater is 1/2" finished--that is just enough space to hold the two seam allowances and it helps give just a bit of definition to that floater, almost like trapunto.

That's it for now. Next month it's on to Delectable Mountains--unless you do a completely different border like I did. Stay tuned...

Let's Quilt!