Friday, July 31, 2009

Join Me for Another Quilt Swap

The Four Seasons Quilt Swap is hosting it's first Holiday Swap...If you think you may be interested, have a look here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Spring Fling Round Robin Progress

One of the swaps I have hosted 3 times, the Spring Fling Round Robin is wrapping up it's current session. I thought I'd show some of the work done. These could not be posted during the swap because it was a secret who's quilt we were working on. The end recipients each made the center blocks for their quilts so it was kind of obvious!
Here's the quilt I ended up quilting. It was made by Lil and Kate (go to the link above for their individual URL's) - both fantastically wonderful piecers and quilters. It went to Amy. Amy is a great quilter so I was kind of nervous working on this one for her. That's her center block (actually remade because the original one went missing in the mail along with this quilt which I made).
There's a little bit of beading at the flower centers. I quilted the background areas in floating feathers. It's bright little quiltie and I really love how it turned out.
...Center square, made by me. It went through the mail a few months and ended up looking like this (previously posted). This now resides in my house, all finished.
This center (just the dresden) was made by Laila. I added the pickles-n-curves 1st border and placed it on point. She used all CW repros, so I had to dig deep in my scraps to find similar fabrics.
Here's what her finished quilt turned out to look like, after another border was added, and yet another person quilted it.
And, Gina made the paper-pieced center for this quilt. John added the 2" triangle border. Then I turned it on point and added the stripey border in dark colors to help ground the churning busyness that this quilt was displaying. It's awesome piecing. This picture shows the quilt after Jen quilted it.
And another quilt top met it's demise between the UK and Luxemburg. I had to make a flimsy. I had pictures of the center and 1st border to copy, but not the 2nd border (just a snippet). It's similar, but not exact, as I had none of the original fabrics. Lil did a great job of quilting this, as always, and it was sent to Rita. We don't yet know if it was received or is also MIA.
This round robin gets generally good comments from it's swappers. They like the process and the end result. Will there be a next session???... Yea, probably. Sometime in the early fall though, and there will likely be another twist (this was the first session where we made our center square - which required only limitted blogging of borders). Stay tuned...

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's an Honorable Quilt

I knew my hand appliqued, hand quilted quilt probably didn't stand a chance amongst the "real" quilters...the ones very heavily and gorgeously machine quilted. I also figured that my quilt of little sentimental dresses had a limitted appeal - new mothers and grandmothers, little girls, etc. I still love it. Made from scraps from the nursery bedding, curtains and all of the many dresses and outfits I have made my daughter, Sophie, this is sentimental to me, and nothing looks better than a purple ribbon on it, even if that does not denote First Place. Many of the judged quilts didn't get anything. It was a great learning experience seeing what other good quilters did, and what was better or worse received by the judges. I expect to get their comments by mail later this week.
Here's the only full (or mostly full) picture I have. The lighting inside the Civic Center was, as expected, harsh. Now that the show is over though, I can take it outside for more pictures and not fear getting it dirty in the grass.

The show was absolutely wonderful for me. I tested every long arm machine that was there, including two APQS's, two MQ's, a Gammill (which was my favorite), and the Bernina820 on a frame. The Bernina is a totally kick ass sewing machine with a price tag to follow. That option just had NO quilting distance. The APQS's were jerkier, with the Lenni being slightly better. The MQ's were not bad. But I could have taken home the Gammill. Now I must look into finances here, and conjure up my best proposition to my husband for how I can make this a lucritive purchase long term. Might be a tough sale, but he knows I wear the pants in this house :-) If not for the fact that I have been begging for a kitchen/downstairs remodel for ages, and he needs a new car...

I picked up these small pieces yesterday too...Sophie's been on an orange kick so they may be used to do somethig for her.
Here is a slideshow of some of my favorites from the Quilt Show...
And come August 1, when Flickr will allow me to upload again, I'll show a set of detailed pictures of this finished quilt.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Weekly Endings & MQ Info Solicited (please!!)

I appreciate the machine quilting comments from my last post. You're all right, I can do a better job quilting than what I paid for. But not on a quilt that large (queen sized bed). My poor-little old Singer can not handle a twin easily enough to comfortably quilt. So...I machine quilt my smaller pieces (mini's and runners up to lap size), and send out my others. Which takes me to another question...

I have been pondering getting a long arm quilting system for some time. Last year I looked into it half-casually, and quickly quit when I saw the costs. Now, I am more interested. This is in part due to my difficulty in finding good quilters in my area, but more because I want to find a home-based employment outside of Engineering that I can do when my youngest starts school in 2 years (but going to work fulltime would not really be feasible because of school's hours, etc.). I LOVE to quilt, and I think that I have creative ideas. I know that this is a crazy endeavor, but I might like to give it a try. Here's where I need you all's help... Many of you do this professionally, or have done it. I'd like your thoughts on some things:
  • What LA do you use & your thoughts on it
  • Is having the LA worth the cost?
  • Are LA's troublesome to keep running well?
  • Anything else?...
  • feel free to post here or email me

Today's the day I am off to the Maine Quilt Show. I am anxious to see Sophie's quilt hanging (haven't gotten good pics of it at home due to it's size!), as well as the other 500. Before I depart, here's a few recent scrappy Project Linus finishes. Some scrappier than others...

...and the always (except when her not-so-loved Grampa comes to visit) happy & smiling Sophie laying with the newest stack of quilts
I dipped into my scrap strip boxes which are overflowing to make two of these. They were modeled after this quilt. I threw in the red square for a splash of color, just because it's fun. I like the pink and green one because there are green fabrics with bright pink dots and pink fabrics with bright green frogs. It's very playful. I can see more of this type donation quilt in my future - they are easy, you cannot do them wrong, and eventually they will use up my messy scrap boxes!
I'm not sure if this one ever was shown, but since it was washed yesterday with the others, I'm showing it here. It's uses up my Kaffe Fasset scraps.
And lastly, here's the quilt I had wanted to make jointly with my mom, but since her June retirement, she has decided she's not interested in quilting. Summer has other needs like putting her house & garden back together. So, I took the fishy scraps and put the quilt together myself. It's bright and very child-fun.
There have been plenty of other quilty adventures in my house too, but you'll have to wait. Soon I'll be showing a couple of fairy bags I've nearly finished, the progress on the SFRR3 quilts that I did - Go have a look, they are very pretty as always. I have spent 5-6 hours picking out the quilting on one section of this quilt - which I just realized that I never posted a picture of. It is a lap quilt for me, about 55"x75". I had planned to quilt it in 3 sections and then stitch them together. This worked for another larger quilt I did last year, so that was they plan again. I have always been luke-warm about the backing fabric I chose from my stash, so I never went beyond quilting one section. Two days ago I decided it was time to finish this so I started picking out (sigh)... I got solid red for the backing which will show the quilting nicely. I am an hour away from having it ready to use again.
Have a great week~

Friday, July 24, 2009

MQ Frustrations

I picked up my oldest son's quilt from being machine butchered (aka "quilted") this week. At first blush, I know you are all thinking "this quilt's not so bad". That was my initial impression for the first 30 seconds I saw it. Elation of having another quilt nearing completion was quickly drowned by my frustration in not being able to find a machine quilter that is both decent and affordable.
The person that did this is local to me. I saw some of her work before taking this, and thought it was fine. What I saw, however, were leafy and flowy patterns. That just was not going to work on this highly geometric (male) quilt. When I suggested to her my scheme for quilting this one down the center of each row, she never gave me the impression she'd have an impossible time of it. I knew well enough not to ask her to ditch stitch the entire thing because if she was not in the ditch, THAT would show. Line up the rail, straight stitch right down the center, right??? My quilt is expertly pieced (little grin here...but all seams do line up nicely). Never in a million years was I expecting to see this...

She said that the machine sews straight, but that the material sometimes shifts a bit (BS, in my opinion. The fabric is held in a rack. It can't move upwards of an inch. So if she thought she was going away from the center, she found what she thought was a convenient spot to "jut" back over to the center. There are a TON of "juts" on this quilt. Most are a barely noticeable from the front, but some are, as above. From the back, which is mostly large blocks of solid color, these look like total CRAP.

See (above), the notion of my quilting plan really does work well with the Bento Box design. But here's a case where I discovered that she forgot two entire rows!! Fortunately she sent me home with one bobbin and a roll of the quilting thread. I can get these on my machine. At this point, I am still trying to get my eyes back to the front of my head. They're rolled back THAT far! How on earth can she expect me to pay $160 for this mess?

Here's a shot from the back... Isn't this lovely??...
The borders of the quilt have diagonal straight stitching. It's mostly OK, but there are a few places near the edge that have small puckers. Maybe the binding will mask it.

I made up the binding this morning and once I get the gumption to fix/finish the quilting, I'll be ready for the binding. I'm not a real fan of hand sewing binding on large quilts in the summer, so it may actually sit in wait until October.

Finding a good machine quilter is so challenging. I'm going to go berserk before I get a good one. I hate to spend a good amount of money on really nice quilting fabrics, meticulously piece a pretty top, only to have a machine quilter make a mess of it. One other local quilter I have used does a good job, she charges 25% more than this one, but she's generally boring. I tried another last fall for a Christmas quilt gift. She charged nearly twice this person, but the quilt was lovely. I used another this spring that charged $15 for a lap quilt. It did have it's issues, but I worked around them and it's now kind of pretty. What's a piecer to do??? I'm about ready to buy my own machine and flub them up myself. At least I won't be PO'd at every experience :-)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Random Acts of Quilty Kindness

Quilters are great people. Just great. In the running of the nearly dozen swaps I have hosted over the last 2 years, never have I received so many great gifties from so many people as I have the last few months. There truly are too many to list them all, ranging from pieces of fabric, to little gifts, to sending me a number of blocks from which I have made charity quilts. I am floored, sincerely. Yes, running these swaps is tedious, time consuming and on occasion frustrating. But it's a job I take on because I believe that the majority of those that swap love to do it, and need a facilitator. Out of the blue today, these pieces of fabric arrived from Wendy. She's done several of my swaps this past year, and consistently creates a lovely end product. When I saw her package, I thought perhaps she'd decided to make a large stack of the Colorblocks that we are doing at the Four Seasons Quilt Swap, but I was quite surprised to find these nearly yard sized pieces of fabric instead.
They are for my Linus donation quilts, except perhaps for the little houses that I TOTALLY adore (and coveted on another blog a few weeks ago). It's so completely cute. I am speachless for your generosity - Thank you! I may meet my goal of 52 quilts for this year yet! And another recipient of some less than ideal 9-patches emailed to volunteer her's for my charity quilts too. Amazing, the kindness (ok, albeit, some of them may just be disgusted that they got so many unusable blocks, but I see it as the glass half-full!). Thanks, Vanessa.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Swap Pieces - Good and Not so Good

Swaps are a fun, and often interesting way to see and work in a style (or fabrics) that you might not otherwise chose on your own. Generally speaking, I enjoy them. Generally, anyhow.

Here are some pics of a row robin quilt in the works for Diane. I did the aqua row. I wanted to show how it will look with the other rows. There's 2 rows remaining on this quilt. Despite kind of cruddy lighting, the blues and greens are radiant and very saturated. She chose a simple theme: Monochromatic-Big & Little. So every row is constructed of a big and a small block of the same pattern.
another peek...
I showed closeups of a few blocks last week, but here are the others. My goal was to select/design unique blocks that had not yet been done, to choose something with some curves and more intricate piecing, and to frame out the lovely Asian flowers & butterflies in that darker teak material.

I hope Diane likes the row :-)
Now, that's a swap I "Like" (and I say that, because I haven't seen too much of what's being done on my personal quilt, but in general I like the works I have been sent to work on). Here's one that I wish I hadn't wasted my time on. Any person can make a 9-patch, or so I thought. I figured this swap would be a simple way to get a nice assortment of 9-patches without having to cut all of those individual pieces myself. I'll rethink this logic next time. Turns out there are way too many people out there that don't understand a 1/4" seam allowance, or trimming to 6.5" for a 6" finished block, or even that a 6" finished block ought to be 6.5" raw!
Here's my 1st set of 16 blocks received. They're OK in terms of color. Maybe I'm not nuts for the neon one, but that's OK for a donation quilt. Problem is that one block is only 6" square, and 3 more are under 6-1/4" !! Do I toss them? Do I pick them apart? I chose to complain to the host, which may have been my downfall.
So yesterday, my second set of 16 arrived. The hostess assured me she was measuring blocks and not accepting undersized blocks. Then 2 days before the mailing date she admitted to not checking ANY of them. My set arrived with FIVE that did not measure 6-1/4"! That is 30% of what was sent. Un-freakin' believable. I am quite certain that I got the butt of the selection because many of these are really unattractive in person. To piss me off further, I sent her my last set of 16 yesterday! If these had come first, I'd probably have sent 5 of them back! What luck.
I know that there are always varying degrees of ability and taste, but a hostess has to have better quality controls. I spend a fair bit of time on my block swap checking block sizes. I understand that there are always ones that slip through the crack, but her crack is a wide open door that says "Whatever!"

Sunday, July 19, 2009


AKA 5th's Disease

Two days later and a few pills down the numbness and swelling and pain and complete uselessness of all my limbs is passing. Yesterday I got to actually sew and cut (yes this does sadly mean I am back to cutting things in the kitchen as well!). I finished up a couple of scrap flimsies which I hope to quilt this week, as well as the fishy quilt for Project Linus (which I quilted this morning). I have a beach day in my sights today so no grandiose sewing plans before tomorrow.

Later this week, I promise...some quilt pics.

This week's agenda includes:
  • quilting 2 scrap quilts
  • binding all 3 quilts that are in the works
  • working on finishing up three little pretty dresses
  • starting a couple bags as gifts
  • cleaning my dreadedly filth sewing space - the scraps have exploded
  • mail off row robin (& show pics)
  • contemplate center of Tree of Life quilt which seems to have fallen off the earth after finishing the 1st border
  • Get my son's Bento Box quilt from quilter tomorrow (it now needs to be bound)
  • and most importantly...enjoy some well needed R&R while oldest is at day camp all week, and middle wildman is going to my mom's for 2-3 days. Yee-haw!

Friday, July 17, 2009

A "What was I thinking" Moment

Last week I got an email saying had designer quilting fabrics at 50%. I immediately went shopping. All of these 1/2 hard cuts were $2 each. And one was miscut and a full yard! But why can't I notice that the darn thing says (or does it??) "canvas"?? I mistakenly got these six Denise Schmidt pieces as canvas. Makes me so angry because I LOVE them.
Fortunately all of these are just fine. Managed to cut the brown one on the far left out of the picture - it's just like the turquise print.
There's just one fly in my ointment now. Three days ago I awoke with severe pain in nearly every joint. I have been whooped tired too. I spent 2 hours at an ER yesterday with all 3 youngens in tow. No fun. No real idea what has happened. Maybe Lyme disease. Maybe RA (not liking that prospect). Maybe a mystery. Today my hands and feet are swollen and partially numbing. Blood work will be back today on the Lyme, but I have another visit to a doc today on account of the sudden swelling. I haven't sewed in 3 days which is making me stirr crazy. My quilt must be delivered tomorrow too for the quilt show next weekend. And as if that's not enough, my SIL and neices are here for 2 days from Italy - haven't seen them in 18 months. AND (there's more...) looks like I need to locate a jeweler to cut off my rings. Kind of depressing to be in pain and immoble, AND to have to have my $10K wedding rings hacked off. Sigh-
...I just wanna sew :-)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Not Really Making Quilts

If you have been following Emma's blog lately, you'll notice that she has great blog titles, as well as fantastic quilts to see. There's been Inspiration, Speculation, Celebration, Obsession, Anticipation, just to name a few. In keeping with this simple thought, here's my take on why you haven't been seeing finished quilts here lately...

1. Loneliness - I had proposed to my mom to jointly make a donation quilt. I thought she'd love it. I had a bunch of fishy novelties I wanted used up too. I made my 6-12" blocks. Turns out she doesn't really want to make "fish", sigh. I think she just doesn't want to sew. Oh well, here's 3 of my 6 brightly colored fish blocks. I will gather the fabrics I gave her this week and make my other 6 blocks for this Linus quilt myself.
2. Meticulation (is this a word??)- I spent time last week doing bullion embroidery on the front of Sophie's birthday dress. Very time consuming, but well worth it! The roses blend a bit, but are quite pretty.
3. Perfection - A lovely bodice/neck is done. The "Coin" Fairy Frost is absolutely perfect with this fairy material. It shimmers perfectly. I also used it on some sleeve and bodice piping, and the bottom of the dress will have a band of it. She'll ring in her 3rd year next month in high toddler style.

4. Obligation - I'm working on blocks for the row robin I am doing. Diane has selected "Monochromatic, Big-Small" as her theme. We are making a one color row with a larger and smaller block. Here's a couple of my blocks. The blocks are now done and need assembling into a 60" row. I love the aquas, and my styles for blocks turned out nicely I think. Of course I did one of these blocks (like I haven't seen enough of them lately in the 4SQS summer block swap!). I did 4 different blocks - I'll post the finished row soon so you may see the others too.

5. Exhaustion - I am just tired of this quilt. It's Sophie's dress quilt and this Saturday is the day it's being turned in for the Maine Quilt Show. The longer it is around, the more I find to do on it. It needed a label, but I did more hand quilting too. It needs a cloth bag made and it is DONE. The picture on the label is hard to really see well, but it's a shot I took recently of her wearing a dress I started kindergarten in. It was a cute profile shot, or so I thought. The inscription reads:
"My sweetest little girl, My only little girl, and my favorite reason for making pretty dresses".
Seemed appropriate~
6. Pandemonium - As if sorting nearly 1100 blocks to over 50 recipients is not enough, the 1st mailing of the 4SQS summer block swap left me with other things to do/worry about. I discovered one person should have gotten 40 blocks not 20, but I discovered this after all the "choices" of blocks were expired. I had 4 different blocks left when I realized it! She'll get her blocks at the next mailing. I also discovered over a dozen blocks with errors when I was sorting the packages. I pulled these aside and used my personal blocks. I had no way of knowing who to send them back to at that point. Talk about more Frustration. So, yesterday I took each of these apart and resewed them so that they could eventually be used. Not fun, but productive.
7. Procrastination - Procrastination sewing because our summer weather finally arrived. It rained much of June, sew or so I chose to sew at naptime. Last week the rain stopped. There are few things that I love as much as sewing/quilting - few places that I get absolute peace and serenity. My gardens are one of them. Here are a few pictures I added to my other blog last night of the glorious colors that surround my house. It's a magnificent spectacle of color!! As all of you Australians are suffering with the middle of your winter, let this bring you some warmth :-)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Flannel Scrap Give Away WInner

I always am drawn to those that make donation quilts in their spare sewing time so I was delighted when selected #4, or SewCalGal as the winner of my flannel scraps. Please contact me at with your snail mail addy. Happy blankie making!~

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Lovely New Additions

My Spring Fling Round Robin-3 piece has come home to me this week. This is the 3rd session of this swap which I host, and in this session the recipients of each quilt were allowed to make their own center 8" square. This was the mechanism that each person was given to convey their style, color preferences and general likes to the other unknown people that would work on their quilts. Here is what I made. And here is the finished 20" quilt...
I selected fabrics that are in the quilt currently on my bed (and with incomplete quilting in this picture) as well as in the flimsy which I hope to have quilted by the Amish later this summer (also destined for my bedroom). My desire was for this to be a busy, colorful piece, in shades of cranberry, greens, aquas, limitted soft beiges, etc.

Here is the back. The quilting is an all-over pantograph-style quilting. It doesn't show up too much in this picture.
And here you can see how it might coordinate with the new quilt. It doesn't have as much of the aqua, but the cranberry and beige carries it well.
And it's actually a dead ringer with the old quilt. I say "old" - This has been on my bed just 5 years. It's not old, but it's before I really got meticulous about triangle points and some details which today drive me nuts. I created the center block using EQ6, and modeled it after some of the geometric blocks on this quilt - wanted a somewhat "flower" and star look - with lots of triangles. I think the 8" center block had 120 pieces in it!
The quilt is very nice. My thanks to Marlene, Alicia, and Amy for working on this for me (even if they didn't know it was for me!). Marlene said she suspected that it was my quilt she was doing a 1st border for, but I don't really know why she'd guess that! And the green that Alicia selected is just perfect for coordinating with both quilts. It couldn't be a better match.

On to my second nice delivery this week... This (the runner) came from Lisa and was PIF gift. It came with a couple nice pieces of Martha Negly prints which I can't wait to use. She's got great fabric taste (despite her love of brown :-)))
I thought that her choice of runner was ironicly unique. I never would have guessed Lisa do make anything not paper-pieced, as she's fantastic with this medium. The cathedral windows and excessive handwork really surprised me. I just told her to make something that she loved (preferably not brown), and that I'd appreciate it too. It's totally lovely, and coordinates fantastically with the two NYB pieces in red and purple in my dining room. Pretty convenient that my smaller buffet didn't have a matching piece, huh? I just finished a small 9"x12" piece for Kate as a part of a swap in this same Cathedral windows pattern. I cannot fathom making another, so I love that someone else did it for me. Look below...The detail is sweet - Little birdies in the center and on the two ends. It's very pretty - Thank you. And, Lisa, my trick to not make the white thread show, was to use a black sharpie to cover up when I had to take white stitches on the black material (it was a black&white print)!
Now, back when I signed onto Lisa's PIF, I did post about one of my own. Apparently nobody was interested. I will repost soon, or hold some form of another giveaway. Stay tuned..
The rest of this week is dedicated to working on a smocked birthday dress and the finishing points on Sophie's quilt, which must be delivered for the Maine Quilt Show next Saturday!

Monday, July 06, 2009


That's right. I've decided to eradicate all flannel from my stash. Over the past few years, and few children, I have acquired many pieces of flannel. I rarely use the remaining scraps of flannel as I do regular quilter's cottons. Last week, I made up 4 double flannel layette-style blankets. These will of course be donated to Project Linus, and will likely go to the local premie wards. They are soft & colorful, but I have had my fill cutting up flannel. It's hard on my rotary cutter and mat, and harder on my wrist.
So, in celebration of my 300th post (whoo-hoo...! HA), if there is anyone interested in a healthy box of flannel scraps, leave me a post. If anyone's interested, I'll select a recipient this coming weekend. Here's what's in the box...
There's a gallon zip loc filled with scrap pieces, MANY strips of different pieces ranging in width from 3-5", and a number of 3" charm squares, some stitched together, some not. If you know someone having a baby or make donation baby quilts, there are more than enough to do an "I-spy" or small charm square stye quilt. I'd do this myself, but I am out of the mood to cut them and to store the fabric for a few more years.
Later this week, I'll post pictures of two fantastic quilts I received today. Stay tuned...

Friday, July 03, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

In keeping with our 4th of July, and my quest for making more seasonal table runners this year, I completed this a few weeks ago. It's a quick, simple piece - did it in just a few hours. I like the stars, and beach pails and the watermellons - just reminds me of summer (not this past month, mind you, but summer in general!) Though it's on my table, it is a better fit for my buffet (which just means I really need to get busy when some of those 4th of July fabrics are onsale next week!) and make a longer piece for my dining room table. I am all about having "the matching set" - table, buffet & wall hanging. I am doing a yahoo bloggers round robin right now, and my theme is for a 4th of July mini. I should have this back next July I believe.
The quilting is kind of pretty I think - basic, but a nice overall pantograph. Sadly, I thought that using this bold red "holiday glitz" Fairy Frost on the back was a great idea. Oh, was I wrong... It was like machine quilting with rubber as the backing. Moving the quilt nearly killed me. I ordered the stuff kind of on accident - all the other Fairy Frosts I just love, but this one was to "glittery"
Hope you all have a good day too. We're just thankful that it appears the rains have ended, and we may get out of the house for a bit. Might even be able to squeek in a little BBQ.