Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Starts and Finishes

I worked at it to the exclusion of all else last week so I could count this one done:

It is the Block by Block quilt made for the Patches & Stitches 40th anniversary. It uses 40 fabrics and has 40 blocks. The first 40 to bring a completed quilt to the shop wins $40 and I was determined to be in the top 20. #17!  Photo of the top here. Quilted on my Bernina Q20 sit down longarm, I enjoyed doing the big loopy designs across the top. I chose 4 different designs for the borders. Finished is better than perfect.

Time for a new start. My Favorite Things is a new quilt/class I am designing that will run for 6 months, from June to December, 2018. It will feature my favorite blocks and students can either make a small quilt each month or make "parts" that will be combined at the end into one large quilt. It's a lecture/demo class, no machines to drag to class, just learn several blocks each month, different ways to make them and ways to use them in quilts. More about the class here.

My fabric pull for this project:

Where did this palette come from? How about the chickens of Kauai?

I often save photos that feature colors I love together. This has been saved since 2006 when my husband and I made a trip to Hawaii to celebrate our 30th anniversary. This will be fun.

The beginning class I teach at Patches & Stitches finished last night--only two students attended the last of 5 sessions but had great quilts to show for their efforts and both are hooked on quilting now, always my goal:

Sharon, her top is complete

Tricia, made 30 blocks and still has two more borders to go. She plans to lengthen it a bit.
They both enjoyed seeing my Block by Block and decided to try that next. I love when students get excited and say "What can I make next?"  Both of these women have their next bed-size quilt projects picked out.

From time to time I participate in online swaps. Lori of Humble Quilts has done a doll quilt swap for several years. I received this one from Judith B along with a pin cushion and photo of her Featherweight machine which she used to make it,  a great touch:

And I gave this one, to Katy S:

It's fun to share small quilts with like-minded quilters.

Time to get a few things done so I can play with My Favorite Things.

Let's Quilt.


Friday, April 20, 2018

International Quit Festival Chicago 2018

Last week was Spring Festival in Chicago, brought to you by the folks who run Fall Festival--in Houston. While it's a nuch snaller show than the Mother of All US Quilt Shows (Houston) it is great to be able to see all the vendors and all the quilts, if you choose.

This nice woman posed at the "Photo Opportunity Tree", right by Open Studios, so she could show her friends she was having a great time.

I look forward to this show because here I get to present at Open Studios, a two-hour lecture/demo class on the show floor, free to any who wish to grab a chair and learn, while they rest.. In previous years I've discussed String Piecing so this year it was a new topic: Tips and Tricks for Beautiful Bindings:

I gave this talk four times in three days, the last day giving two sessions back to back, 10-noon and Noon-2. Even with water I was a little "croaky" at the end of the second session. Each year there are several local attendees who make a  point to see my presentation and several women from the Illinois Quilters Inc, where I taught last month, came up to say hello.See more about that visit here: Illinois Quilters Inc.

Nona brought her quilt top from our class Feathered Stars Precisely Paper Pieced:

Wonderful job, Nona!

And fun to see my "hostess" from ILI--Sue S:  

These working trips are so much fun for me because of the PEOPLE I get to see and talk to, many are friends from years of working these shows, faculty and vendors, Quilts Inc. employees, as well as attendees.

Here are a few photos of quilts at this show, starting with my own. This quilt was included in the Special Exhibit "In the American Tradition, Pieced", it was on exhibit in Houston last Fall and will now be coming home to me. It's one of my favorites:
About 96" square

I am captivated with Millefiori quilts, though I doubt I'll ever make one. This won a prize in the Celebration of Color competition:

A favorite quilt I do hope to make one day:

Upcoming Special Exhibits you can enter include the BIG Sapphire Celebration at International Quilt Festival Houston, 2019--the 45th anniversary of Festival. Got a blue and white quilt? Enter it later this year for consideration:

Are Landscape quilts more your style? Hurry and enter this Special Exhibit, entries close May 3, 2018:

I'll finish with photos from our two special events. Friday night was the final Iron Quilter Challenge, #10. It was won by Charlotte Angotti and her team, Angotti's Avengers:

Saturday night was Last Course, the reveal of the Progressive Classes taught by Charlotte Angotti, Debbie Caffrey-Batey, and Karen K Stone. Each teacher taught a one day class that could stand on its' own OR you could take two or three of the classes and create a cohesive quilt. The fabrics were provided in a kit, all you have to do is show up ready to sew. These have been very successful, whether the students took one, two or all three days of classes:

This Year's Chicago Progressive Quilts, made by the Teachers

 Prior year quilts are equally stunning:

Mark your calendar for nest year's Spring Festival in Chicago, March 28-30, 2019.

Let's quilt!


Friday, April 6, 2018

A Visit to Brentwood Tennessee

I had the pleasure of visiting the fine quilters of the Cumberland Valley Quilters Association in Brentwood, TN recently.  Joyce, their President was getting ready to convene the morning meeting. About 125 people were in attendance and they had much to see and do before the meeting:

This is an active guild, with a quilt show every other year, two retreats a year, charity quilts always in the making. bus trips--Paducah is coming up next. Lots to do and friends to talk to.

The Program chair, Eileen, has been my contact for some time now and it was a joy to meet her in person. After we got the technical side ready, hooking up the laptop to the church's projection system, I was able to talk to many members who came up to see the quilts and tops I brought.

It is fun to talk to other quilters and I am still surprised when quite a few came up to tell me they follow my blog. My Lifetime quilt segment I brought was quite a hit:

20" square, 1.25" finished half square triangles
One of the nice ladies, Jane I believe her name is, asked if she could show me some hexagon blocks she has been working on, made from men's silk ties. I was thrilled to see them as I have collected silk ties for quite some time but hadn't yet seen a project that inspired me to use them. These certainly did. She is making them with the English Paper Piecing method. Thank you, Jane, so much, for showing them to me:

Brentwood is in Metro Nashville and traffic seems to grow daily. I chose to come up the day before so I wouldn't have to worry about being delayed for the morning meeting. The Drury Plaza Hotel is very nice, I've stayed in Drurys several times, but my view wasn't all that exciting:

Of course, I'm only in the hotel to sleep so there is no need for much of a view. This is the important part:

The bed was very comfortable.

Since I arrived the day before I had time to stop at Stitcher's Garden, a well-known quilt shop less than 3 miles from my hotel, in Franklin, TN. It is quite the place and most first-time visitors are quickly overwhelmed:

You must watch your step, there are bolts everywhere, high and low. If you are looking for a specific fabric, one that is several years old perhaps, you might just find it here. I stumbled on the Kaffe Fassett stripes aisle and did a little damage there. I also found a bundle of pretty brand new dark green Civil War fat quarters I just had to have.

I would love to know how many individual fat quarters are in this shop--a half a million maybe? Who could ever know?? There are far more than you could count, that's for sure. This is just a very small portion:

My main reason for stopping there was to pick up some fat quarters that potential students could use if they decided to take the day and a half Smitten Workshop that started in the afternoon, just after my lecture and a quick lunch. More than once I have decided to take a workshop after hearing the speaker at our guild meeting and have to quickly prep for the class. They would not have time to go get their machines and fabrics so I brought extra cutting tools and those purchased fabrics to make it easy for a person to join us immediately. One person did when she found out she had the afternoon off--she was glad to get fabric hand-picked for this class and was able to cut out her blocks as she learned the sewing steps needed.

The Lecture was "Color and Quiltmaking--Don't Be Afraid" and it was well-received. After the PowerPoint, I talked about the quilts and tops I brought--quilters do love to see real quilts "in the cloth". An excellent lunch was provided for me and the students who were game to take on Smitten:

We got a good start with 3 hours of class time that afternoon. We ended promptly as there was potential for bad weather that evening. If you live in the South long enough, you know to heed the warnings--we left the building at 4 p.m., it was over 80 degrees, the wind was really blowing and the sky was full of heavy clouds. Eileen and I had a wonderful dinner at the Granite City Brewery adjacent to my hotel. Even though there are many great restaurants in that area, I wanted us to get an early meal, with little traveling so Eileen could make the trip home as soon as possible. You don't want to be on the Interstate when tornadoes could pop up. We ate and had a great time getting to know each other bettter, then she was able to get home early. We did get pretty strong storms through the area between 8-10 p.m. but no damage I could see. And as usually happens, the next day dawned much cooler and clear.

We spent all day working on Smitten blocks. By early afternoon, there were enough blocks to demo the process of assembling this quilt, which is not hard but is SLOW:

The students all seemed to have a good time and learned some things. I enjoyed my visit with them very much. Our class ended at 3 p.m. which was just in time for me to head out as the afternoon rush hour was starting. I made it south of the area with no problems, and was home about my usual dinner time.

When I visit guilds, I often think "If I lived here, I would love to be part of this guild". CVQA was no exception. I enjoyed our time together and hope we get to do it again someday.

My Smitten quilt is now on its' way to San Diego, where I will teach this class again June 17, 2018.

Let's Quilt!


Monday, April 2, 2018

A New Top Finish

It's been a push but I now have the top for "Block by Block", the 40th anniversary quilt from Patches & Stitches, finished:

Designed by the shop owner, Linda Worley, it has 40 different blocks and I used 40 fabrics, most batiks. All came from my stash, including the border, which I selected from my closet today after the rest of the top was assembled. Great fit with the rest of the fabrics which had been selected in December from my fat quarter-size batik collection.

Now to get it basted, quilted and bound. That will have to wait a couple weeks--this week I will be in Brentwood, TN with the Cumberland Valley Quilt Association--Tuesday morning is the lecture "Color and Quiltmaking--Don't Be Afraid". Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday we will spend time in a Smitten workshop--much fun and learning should be expected.

Next week I go to Chicago for a week--International Quilt Festival is there. In addition to my Education office duties, I'll be presenting three 2-hour Lecture/Demos at Open Studios on the show floor--this year I'm teaching how to  improve making and enjoy adding Bindings--a topic that some find difficult. It does  not have to be. If you are at the show, be sure to stop by and say hello.

Time to pack and hit the road.

Let's Quilt!


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Month 4: The Patchwork Barn

This is the FREE Block of the Month pattern "Patchwork Barn", designed by Edyta Sitar exclusively for The Quilt Show. You must be a Star member of this world-wide quilt guild/show/internet community to receive the free patterns each month, beginning January 1, 2018. Join today and get started on this journey.

Previous instructions are here:

Month 1
Month 2
Month 3
NOTE: On The Quilt Show, the Forum is the best place to ask questions, find answers, find out if there is an error on the pattern, as there was for Month 2, Block 5--as soon as I found out about the error, I posted a Topic to correct it, February 3. I recommend you check in there frequently. And there is a Show and Tell Topic--show us your blocks. Forum Patchwork Barn

Block 10
Half square triangles are the building blocks of many patchwork blocks. Combine them with two rectangles sewn into a square and you get this Monkey Wrench block.  I have written about two methods often used for HST several times--check here to see both the "squares" method and the "half square triangle ruler" method. 

Another method you may want to try is the "grid" method.  This involves cutting both fabrics the size needed, drawing lines on the back of the lighter fabric, then sewing 1/4" away from BOTH SIDES of the drawn diagonal lines to create a bunch of HSTs quickly. 

I call this a "Sew First Method". It will take longer to draw the grid than to sew it.

This grid gives you 8 HSTs

After sewing on BOTH sides of the diagonal lines, cut apart on the drawn lines

Trim to perfection. Some blocks will have more "waste" due to the extra I add to the outside edge
Mathematically, the grid would be drawn 7/8" larger than the finished size of the HST. BUT that requires that you draw the lines perfectly, sew the 1/4" seams perfectly, cut the units apart perfectly, and press perfectly. Too much "perfectly" for me. 

So I draw the grid 1" larger than the finished size--this means I don't have to sew perfectly, I just have to "Trim to Perfection"--my favorite method. The squares above create 8 HSTs, enough for two of these Monkey Wrench blocks. NOTE: I also add at least a 1/4" "border" around the outside edges--this allows me to easily turn the corners as I change directions. One start, one stop and eight HSTs are sewn. I like this method when I need a lot of HSTs that are the same. 

My slogan is "I want the fastest method that gives me the result I want."  To make the rectangle units quickly I add up the length of each fabric needed per block and cut two of those strips, one from background, one from the darker print. Sew carefully down the long side, press the seam to the darker fabric, cut the units apart, like slicing a sandwich into serving pieces, and there you have it:

Sewn and pressed

I cut the strips slightly longer than exactly needed to allow for cleaning up the edge and trimming to perfection

As there is no such thing in my life as "too much fabric" I added different backgrounds and different center squares, so each of my three Monkey Wrenches are similar but different. Do as you please, it's your quilt.

Block 11

Another block that has a lot of the same HSTs, 12 of the same in each block. The grid method is a winner here:

 I cut large rectangles of both the background and dark print fabrics and drew the grid on the back of the lighter fabric. With one start, one stop I sew 24 HSTs--cut them apart, press to the darker fabric, and trim to perfection.

For the third set of HSTs I cut rectangles half the size of the double set and again, with one start and one stop, I got 12 HSTs for the 3rd block. You could cut a very large set to do them all at once but that was more work for me than doing two separate sets:

Left = 24 HSTs     Right = 12 HSTs
Guess why I drew the line on the back of the dark fabric with a chalk pencil--on the yellow side I drew the wrong size grid! Next time I'll pay more attention.

Block 12

This is an easy one, the Spool. To avoid handling lots of pieces, I first made the pieced center square from longer strips:

I simply added up the length needed to cut for all three blocks. You may notice the purple in the middle is two lengths, one long enough for two blocks, the other for the third. Yes, the stripes are going in opposite directions. 

As I look for fabrics for each block, I start first in my two bags of Leftovers:

The left bag has pieces 3" or more, the right one has pieces less than 3". I always cut strips the width of fabric, usually about 42" from yardage and 21" from fat quarters, and then sub-cut into the size I need for each block. This generates "Leftover" strips and pieces so I look to them first before cutting more strips, even though I have gobs of fabric for this quilt ready to go. I want to use what is already cut if the fabric I want has already been used. Just my way of keeping things organized.

After sewing the 3 long strips together, they are pressed and sub-cut into the size for the center square:

Next we make the top and bottom of the spool. Follow the cutting directions very carefully. Even more importantly, place the small squares on the top and bottom spool pieces very carefully--it is VERY easy to get them going in the wrong direction. I didn't this time, but I caught myself trying to do it wrong more than once. Pin on the pencil line and check before you sew a few to be sure it's correct.

The directions say to draw a diagonal line on the back side of the small background squares. You could also fold the square in half and press, creating a fold line--if you can see it to sew, that works too. There are mats you can place on the bed of your machine with helpful lines for this process and some use a laser light aimed at the bed of their machine to place the squares. Use the method you like.

Here I have drawn a  pencil line--use a mechanical pencil--you want the finest line, accurately drawn, you can get. A tip--to make room for the thread, sew with the needle just touching the outside edge of that fine pencil line:

Here is a tip for cutting those small excess triangles away:  the part you want to protect is Under the Ruler. If you cut in the wrong direction, and everyone does at least once in their life, you have an opportunity to cut and sew a new unit:

You could save those little triangles but they are pretty small so I don't.

Please consider sharing your blocks on the Show and Tell topic in the Forum. I especially want to encourage those of you using the Crystal Farms fabrics to do that--many people will appreciate seeing the fabric choices you are making with your blocks.

Enjoy the journey and let's quilt!