Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Simply Salt - Creative Surfaces (Online Class)

Look at these GORGEOUS RICH Surfaces! Carol and Lynda at Fibre-in-Form have done it again! I can't resist--I want to know how they do what they do, so I signed up for their latest online class : Creative Surfaces : Simply Salt.

7.50 Great British Pounds which translates to about $12.65 US Dollars. Seems very reasonable to me for the key to this knowledge. This class appears to be self-paced.

I also bought their new book Stitching the Textured Surface --- which is sure to be a feast for the senses. Should be here in a week, or so. I am anticipating its arrival with glee!

If you're not sure about taking an online class, read this series of blog posts by my sister, a scrap-booker who lives in Japan.

From Working Mom in Japan (Or Mande's J-Life) :
Online Learning : Part 1
Online Learning : Part 2
Online Learning : Part 3

Memory Bear for Hospice

This summer, I started volunteering for the local Hospice. Because I work full-time and have a family, I have limited time when I can be available for Hospice patients and their families. Or rather, they tend not to need someone when I'm free to be there (so far). So the Volunteer Coordinator put me to work making a teddy bear out of a lady's clothes. I've been working on it all week so she can see it before she dies. It will be a comfort to her in the time she has left and a comfort to her family after she is gone.

And it makes me feel good to use my time and talents to make such a meaningful difference (however small, however quiet) in their lives. Sigh--I'm getting tears in my eyes just thinking of it now ...

Each stitch is filled with love and prayers for strength and wholeness for this woman and her family. This is a magic memory bear. It is not a toy.

[Sorry--I don't know where the pattern came from. It's hand-drawn ...]

Want to make a difference? Check with your local hospital or cancer center. They often like to give comfort quilts to patients who are under-going cancer treatment. Or soft caps for when someone's hair falls out due to chemotherapy. There are lots of options ...

Nancy Zieman of PBS's Sewing with Nancy and Nancy's Notions has some ideas for Creative Kindness. (She's right here in Wisconsin, so I have to her a nod for this.)

Artist Trading Cards

The concept of Artist Trading Cards really appeals to me. This is what came in the mail yesterday :

From Carol H. in Nashville, TN. This precious paisley is the very first ATC she made (so far!) I hope it's not the last.

From Cobi in The Netherlands. She let me choose from a selection of ATCs. I picked this one because I don't know how to bead yet. Very nice!

I sent ATCs similar to these :

Is there a way to use Google Maps to track where my ATCs are going to and coming from? Great way to learn geography, and get connected to the rest of the world!

Time to make another sheet of composed fabric to cut up for ATCs. I've been saving snippets for just such an occasion!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Our Mother's Quilts : The Red Canoe and a 9-patch

At the Quilt Retreat (aka Quilt Camp) last weekend, the Saturday program was a Show-&-Share of "Our Mother's Quilts."

My mother, Holly (along with Aunt Rosita), got me into quilting along about 2004, though she and my Gramma Pickles got me into sewing when I was in 1st grade (I made a bright orange sun-dress with matching yellow jacket--I wonder where that piece of history is now?) My mother made this 9-patch quilt and gave it to me for Christmas in 2001 (or so).

9-patch is one of the simplest quilts to make. For many of us, this is the starter quilt to learn the basics of rotary cutting and strip piecing. When I took my first quilting class a few years later, she packed me off with the means to make a 9-patch for the relatives in Japan.

At Ma's house on the guest bed in The Glacier Room is my favorite quilt made by my mom :

It has a red canoe beached on a woodland shore as the large center block. She made it with her Quilting Connection Group as a block-of-the-month mystery quilt several years ago. Each block is different. She also had it professionally quilted (at great expense) by a talented professional quilter in Green Bay. [Sorry, I don't know her name.] It was so worth it for this quilt!

Detail of thread-painting by my mom, along with the professional quilting.

Detail of the wonderful and creative quilting the machine quilter did on this quilt.

A close-up of one of those flowers.

Here is one of the border blocks. Every one is different ...

I never get tired of looking at this quilt--and I always find something new that I hadn't seen before. It's a real treasure!

After Quilt Camp Fall 2009 ...

Lovely fall color (rich reds this year!) on the drive out to the camp at Lake Lucerne. The sky was cloudy with lots of different grays and blues with varying cloud textures. It reminded me of the blue fabrics I brought along for the Wicked Easy Quilt Project I never got to ...

Here's what I did get done over the weekend :

Project No. 1 : The Spools Quilt

The Spool Blocks are sewn and squared up. Here are about 1/2 of the Spools blocks. I just love the way these turned out. Now they'll sit on my design wall until I settle on how I want to sew them up ... Just looking at it in the pictures now, I see it needs some more tweaking. Easier to fix now, than after it's all together!

I think this turned out to be my favorite block. I'm not a big fan of yellow, but it just goes so well with this purple-brown compliment (Do I have my color theory right on that?).

Here's a close-up on some of the luscious colors and textures. Mmmmhhh!

Turns out I need about 4 more of these blocks to complete the pattern. The jelly roll I bought didn't have quite enough strips for this pattern, so I'll have to go digging through the stash to find 4 more strips.

These are fun to make, and go pretty fast (compared to a lot of quilt blocks out there). I might make another one with a different set of colors. The Handcocks-of-Paducah-Island-Batiks jelly roll set came in the mail on Saturday while I was at camp ...

Project Number 2 : Quilt CL's Millifiore Quilt
Much to my surprise, before 11 pm on Saturday night, I got all the center swirls quilted on this one :

It's a little hard to see on the front as the blocks themselves are so busy to begin with. The swirly quilting pattern really does set them spinning / reeling as if they were dancing, or pin- wheels spinning.

Here's another picture without the flash where it might be easier to see the quilting on the front :

Here are the swirls from the back :

Rewind :
In the afternoon, I safety-pin basted the Millifiore quilt sandwich on a nice long table. What a treat that was! I just don't have anything at home I can use for that task--which is why I've always hated it. Working on a carpeted floor is just plain unsatisfactory. At Quilt Camp, I got to use the 2 new clamps my husband gave me for my birthday (He got them at the local hardware store.) :

I thought I'd need more than just 2 clamps, but that was enough for this lap-sized quilt. [I had my camera at Quilt Camp, but I left my battery in the charger at home--so no actual pictures from Quilt Camp.] Here are the basic steps for pin-basting :
1) Lay out the quilt backing flat on the table and anchor one side with clamps. It's okay if some of it hangs off the edge.
2) Layer on batting. I use Hobbs 80/20 for an old-timey look. After it's washed, it looks antique with puckers. The other neat thing about this batting is that it sort of "sticks" to the fabrics before you even pin-baste it.
3) Lay the quilt-top on top. Make sure everything is smooth as possible. Work out any wrinkles, and smooth everything out. Then you can start to pin-baste. I put safety pins in with about the width of my fist in between.
4) When you've finished the section on the table-top, un-do the clamps and carefully, slide the basted section over the edge to work on the remaining un-basted section. Clamp again, smooth again, and continue to pin baste.

After it was pin-basted, I stitched-in-the-ditch with my waling foot along the latice-work--just to give it stability when I came back over it for the free-motion swirls.

Here's the map I laid out for the quilting :

Just practicing this by drawing it helps to get the pattern in muscle memory. And it helps me figure out how I'll get from one swirl to the next.

No--it's not perfect. It's entirely free-hand on my little Viking. Just a lot of practice making those swirls. With free-motion quilting, it took me an hour to warm-up with some practice pieces like this one :

The practice also gives time to figure out the proper settings for tension, etc. It's well-worth the time and effort! Once I got going on it, the quilting took only a little over 2 hours. As you might guess, it wasn't until the final blocks that I really started to feel comfortable with the motif and the stitches synced with the machine speed. That always takes practice--especially since I don't do this every day.

I still need to quilt the borders, and bind with the rest of the finishing touches. I'm hoping this will be finished so I can enter it into my local LSQG Quilt Show at the end of the month.

On Sunday, I started to work on the Weekend Messenger Bag, but I got so frustrated with the cryptic directions that I finally had to put it away. I'll try that some other day.

Marylin C. gave a great demo of The Disappearing 9-Patch. This is an easy technique I want to try in future. Stay tuned! Here's a nice example and explanation of a Disappearing 9-Patch by Valentine QuiltWorks.

The Dining Hall where we sewed at Lake Lucerne Camp was so spacious! There were 24 quilters there working, and we still had room for more! Everyone had a seat and a table with a view of the lake. It was great! I was one of the last people to arrive, so I got a table at the far end in the corner with Liz, Marge and Shirley, a knowledgeable cadre of quilter. I knew Liz already, but not the other 2 ladies. Marge had the same sewing machine as me--mine only comes out when I'm traveling as I know how to use my Viking Rose at homoe better than this Designer 1. Marge taught me how to use the needle threader! That was the great discovery this time. Otherwise, I was able to make the Designer do what I needed it to do : Straight stitch for piecing and quilting, and set-up for free-motion. I'm getting more comfortable with it each time I use it. So this time, it worked really well for me (manual in hand). It really is more machine than I need with the embroidery (which I don't use.)

Most indispensable quilting tools :

1) Olfa square rotating cutting matt is just the thing to square up quilt blocks (along with the appropriate rulers and rotary cutter, of course).

2) Sewing machine with a sensor that allows for turning fabric when stopped in needle-down position. That was a nice perk of the Designer 1 that I don't have on the Viking Rose.

All-in-all, it was a good productive and pleasant weekend. I'm planning to attend next year with my Quilt Guild Ladies.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Preparing for Quilt Camp : Project Kits

I've been putting together project kits to work on at Quilt Camp this weekend. This Quilter's Retreat is sponsored by my local Quilt Guild, Lakeside Quilters. It's being held at a camp in Lake Lucerne, WI. I've never been there, but hope to see some gorgeous fall color next to the lake. I also would like to get to know some of my fellow guild members better. I expect there to be a lot of laughter this weekend. Thanks to Laura R. for organizing it all!

Planning out the kits like this forces me to think about all the extra supplies I'll need from quilting paper to threads to needles (Yes, you need different needles for free-motion embroidery vs. piecing vs. quilting). There's a lot to this hobby!

Here's what I have planned so far :
Project 1 :
Spools Quilt made with Bali 2-1/2-inch strips

This is Brenda Henning's first Strip Therapy Book. The quilt on the cover is called "Mood Swing," but I like referring to it as Spools instead.
Tip : Take time to make the template. It really does make things easier!

I'm planning to use a set of strips like this one sold as Bali 2-1/2-inch strip collection at Keepsake Quilting :

Here's the first "test" block :

Pretty simple, and it looks like the blocks on the cover. Good signs!
"Look, Ma! The points match!"

Project 2 : Annie's Wicked Easy Quilt in Blue

Looks similar to the Yellow Brick Road Pattern, but different. (I have a color scheme in mind for that pattern someday, too!)

This is the fabric set I'll be using :

Keepsake Quilting's Blue and White Scrap Bag--plus a few extra blue fabrics.

Here's the first "test" block for this project :

(Pardon my rippling design wall. The block is more square than it appears here.)
Looks pretty good, otherwise. More good signs!

Project 3 : Quilting CL's Millifiore Quilt

This one depends on how much room I'll have to push around a lap sized quilt for quilting on my little domestic home sewing machine. I have in mind a swirly pattern that will flow over the "flower" blocks. I'm hoping I'll have more room than I have at home ... We'll see on this one. I'll bring the stuff anyway. Swirls may be too ambitious ... We'll see.

Project 4 : Weekend Messenger Bag

I made a similar bag 25 years ago when I was in high school. I used an old flour/sugar sack. It's been more durable than you would think and has served me well, but after 25 years, it needs to be retired. This way I'll be able to procure a new one.

Project 5 : Fabric Post Cards
Spooky Jack-o-Lanterns?

Certain projects work better than others at Quilt Camp.
Here are some things I've learned to avoid :
* No space for a design wall, so layout may be better done (and mulled over) at home. That's why I'll be putting blocks together, but I don't think I'll get any quilt-tops together at Quilt Camp.
* Lots of fussy fusible applique can be difficult if you're up and down and back and forth to the ironing board for little pieces. Again, this project may be better done at home when you can be closer to the iron, and not in someone else's way --- unless you have a kit where all your fabrics have been pre-selected. Maybe I'll bring a fusible applique project anyway ...

Now to pull everything together ... I can't wait!