Wednesday, November 28, 2018

What To Do With Free Motion Quilt "Sandwiches"

Besides throw them out?  The one thing I know about free motion quilting is, it takes lots of PRACTICE. And that means I have lots of "sandwiches" with practice stitching over them.

Here is a pile I culled from the closet:

Some of these are from classes, where my quilting stitches are pretty poor. Some are practice pieces I just do at home. All of them will be donated to Huntsville Animal Services for cage bedding. The animals won't care how my stitching looks and when they are too soiled or worn out, there is no guilt in throwing them away.

I finished the edges in two different ways. Here the back fabric is turned over twice for a "finished" look:

For each quilt I machine-quilt, I prepare a practice sandwich with the same back, batting and fabrics from the top. Once the quilt is all done, there is no need to keep this. This is the practice piece for Long Time Gone #2--recently finished. Here I just used a zig-zag stitch, functional and fast:

Sometimes I create practice sandwiches with a specific purpose in mind: placemats and mug rugs come to mind. Here I prepared placemat-size sandwiches to demo Ruler Work at a local shop. For the demo, the muslin side was the "top" side--I drew lines and demoed several different patterns with rulers. The back was a busy print, perfect for my kitchen. Once they were bound and finished, they became placemats, print-side "up". I now have a set of 6 of these and we use them daily:

If you want to donate to an animal shelter, check with them to be sure they want them. Trim any loose threads on them--don't want the animals chewing on those.

Now I am on to mug rugs--I need some of them for Christmas gifts and they also make great practice pieces.

Let's quilt,


Sunday, November 25, 2018

What's Next?

This is my post-Houston get-productive period. That means classes are about finished for the year and I don't have to go anywhere for a while.

I just finished Circa 2016 and am pleased with how it turned out. This pattern is still available for purchase from Temecula Quilt Company.

Now it's time to clear away the clutter from the stuff I brought home from Houston and make a plan for the rest of this year. I didn't buy a lot, mostly thread:

There are a few gifts to sew, quilt and finish--that won't take long. So, I've decided to finish a very long, on-going quilt: Ruffled Roses, the 2011 Block of the Month from The Quilt Show:

A few months ago, I put this on the design wall to inspire/prod me to finish it. Today, when the clutter is stashed away, I will get back to it--my goal is to have the top done by the end of 2018.  

My Lifetime Quilt is almost done too, another Finish I want to complete by the end of this year:

Are you busy with sewing projects now or do holiday preparations take over? I don't like to shop and only do it when I must. The kids won't be here for Christmas so holiday decorating will be limited to a few of my favorite things. There is no reason I can't get these two quilt tops completed.

Let's Quilt!


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Highlights of Houston 2018

Not surprisingly, I hit the ground running after returning from my 13 day trip to Houston--classes to teach, bills to pay, mail to sort through, and laundry to do. Now I'll try to give a glimpse of what my time is like there, working for Quilts Inc.

First, my favorite view of the city--from my room at the Hilton Americas Houston. The George R Brown Convention Center is the white building on the right with the iconic red "thingies" on the roof. Straight ahead is the Marriott Marquis hotel, and just behind it is the Astrodome baseball park. Discovery Green, a lovely park, is in the foreground, left.

My bed, featured by Hilton Americas Houston on Instagram and Facebook:

I hurried to get the binding sewn on before I left, figuring I would finish stitching it down in the hotel--rarely touched it there, finished the binding when I got home. Now I am adding lots more quilting--it is coming along nicely.

The first day on the job, my primary responsibility is Faculty freight. With 130 teachers, there is a lot of freight--they have to ship it weeks in advance to be sure we have it in the office when they arrive. I check in each box, on two master lists, one for me and one for the Tex Expo folks who handle the shipping. We go from an empty room to a full one--it takes all day. Before:


 When the luggage starts to arrive, it gets really crowded. This is the last time the carpet was visible for days:

The next day I was told my Red and White quilt was the "Photo Op" quilt. People take photos in front of it to share with friends at  home:

There was a special tribute exhibit to our beloved former boss, Judy Murrah, who passed away December 8, 2017. It was a lovely tribute to her with a wonderful slideshow full of great images from  her more than 40 years with Quilts Inc.:

It's not all about quilts. How about quilted leather saddles? They sure are beautiful:

There are thousands of photos on Instagram and Facebook, much better than mine, find them here:
My favorite quilt and the one I was hoping would be awarded "Best of Show", Eternal Beauty by the amazingly talented and even more humble Sherry Reynolds. This is its' 6th Best of Show award:

Speaking of talented and humble, one of our guild members, Teresa Rawson, won First Place, Applique', Small for her terrific quilt, Contentment, made to celebrate her 25th wedding anniversary--all hand done. It, too, has done well in previous shows:

This quilt was photographed thousands of times, from the Special Exhibit: Antique Quilts from the British Isles. It was for sale, I did not inquire about the price, if you have to ask, you can't afford it:

 45,000 1/4" hexagons, Circa 1845. Maker Unknown--PLEASE label your quilts, so you will not be anonymous.

Other quilts that caught my eye:

From certain angles, the face was not visible, it only looked like bubbles. Entitled Kora, by Carol Morrissey, Double Oak, TX. 
Two of my favorite antique vendors had remarkably similar quilts for sale in their booths. Cindy Rennels, Cindy's Antique Quilts, had this one:

Julia Kelly-Hodenius, of Pique', had this one:


The red solid was very similar as were many of the fabrics. The maker fussy cut most of the hexagons, and they appeared to be the same size. The white hexagons were all the same fabric in each quilt so the maker had a sizeable stash. Cindy told me someone with much more knowledge than I have has taken lots of photos of both and will study them to see if it is reasonable to guess they were made by the same person. Again, a label on each would be so helpful. Cindy's was sold before the end of the show so I am glad I got to see it early. I don't know if Julia sold hers, but I hope so. Sales is the reason vendors are there.

Some days I don't get off the 3rd floor nor outdoors. The days are long, the nights get shorter, but it is wonderful to work with a great team. Here are some of us in the morning group photo:

For me, the job is mostly about the people, faculty friends I enjoy catching up with, student/guests I look forward to seeing each year, vendors who have become friends, and my closest team friends, who mean so much to me--friendships developed over the 20 years I've been part of the Education Team.

This year about two dozen people recognized me or my name and came up to tell me they follow and enjoy my blog--that is truly rewarding.

Two ladies from the Friendship Quilters of Downer's Grove, IL came by for a quick "hello"--I am teaching for them November 2019:

I was also able to hand off the Secret Stars sample I made for the Lakeview Quilters guild in the Houston area, I'll be teaching for them in March 2019. And one of the members of the St Andrews Bay Quilt Guild in Panama City, FL, made a point of telling me they are rebuilding and fully expect to have me come in April 2019 for the two great scheduled workshops. Hurricanes only slow quilters down for a bit.

All too soon, the 13 days come to an end and it's time to pack up. Everything is inventoried, labeled, packed and crated, going to 3 different storage locations. I never cease to be amazed at the organization necessary to make our shows work:

There will be more to come, but this about wraps up the overall experience I have in Houston.

Let's quilt,


Sunday, November 18, 2018

My Favorite Things--and People

Just recently, one of my six-month classes finished up. At the last class. 8 of the original 13 were present, the rest were unable to attend due to illness or obligations. They were missed.

The class is called "My Favorite Things" and here is the class sample:

And the class description:

Learn how to make Barbara’s favorite blocks in this comprehensive 6 month fun and educational class. No sewing machine needed--you’ll do all the sewing at home. So many tips and tricks will be taught--increase your quilting skills as you make several smaller quilts OR combine ALL the individual blocks into one complete bed-size quilt, a totally original design, your choice.

Some of the blocks include: Log Cabins, Shoo Fly, Old Italian Block, Flying Geese,  Disappearing Nine-patch, Sawtooth Star, and more...

The students met and surpassed my goals--I wanted them to learn "quilter's math" and how to create and assemble the blocks they want to make. So many newer quilters only know how to follow pattern directions, and lack confidence in selecting fabrics, changing block sizes, changing the quilt layout, and don't know how to be sure their pieces all fit together. I asked them to say what they had gotten out of the class and each one mentioned one of those things as something that they really had improved upon.

Here is their glorious work:

Cyndi  used lots of Kaffe Fassett fabrics and created two wonderful additional borders

Phyllis  almost gave up after the first class but hung in there and has a beautiful quilt on the way

Sally changed the layout and some blocks  to  make the quilt her own--I love that!
Kathy used a lot of Kim Diehl fabrics--while it's not her favorite I LOVE it and she learned a lot from it

Suzanne worked in reproduction fabrics and found the perfect cheddar/gold for sashing 

Holly really spread her wings and changed the border--a great quilt.
We also had show and tell from two other classes I've taught this group:

Holly showing her Long Time Gone, a Jen Kingwell design. She modified the border

Cyndi brought her queen-size Two-For-One, mostly batiks
These students pushed  me to create this class--it didn't matter what I taught, they just wanted another six-month class where they didn't have to haul their machines. I had to design it on the fly and keep ahead of them but I did. They are a fun group to teach and I think we all enjoy our time together.

This would make a great 3-4 day retreat or workshop project. I am teaching it locally, at Patches & Stitches, Part One is Saturday March 30, 2019, 9-4 and Part Two is Saturday May 4, 2019, 9-4. That will be a sewing class, every two hours we'll cover one of the 6 lessons to be learned. That should be fun--and fast!

Students often teach the teachers too--I learned students can stretch their wings and enjoy it and many quilters want to improve their skills with each quilt they make.

I love my job!

And, because I was asked, here is the link to my Cranberry Chutney recipe blog. It's that time of year and I don't want turkey without it. It makes the house smell good too:

Barbara's Cranberry Chutney

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends.

Let's Quilt,