Sunday, March 15, 2015

It's Hands 2 Help Time

If you're interested in making a charity quilt for some great causes, it's time to sign up at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.  Sarah does a great job of putting this together and getting some charities set up for us.  It's a fun way to help other people.  There are prizes and lots of tutorials on the way, too, so be sure to sign up!  I've done this the last few years and it's always a lot of fun, and hopefully the recipients have enjoyed their quilts. I need to look in the charity closet and see if any of the quilts I've made in the last few months meet the needs of the charities this year.  If not, I'd better get going!  The quilts don't have to be sent until the end of May, so I've got time.

Last weekend I got to attend a retreat in the north end of the Chicago area.  It was held at the Techny Towers Retreat Center, which is a religious retreat center.  The retreat center was a very neat, well-preserved old building.  It was really cold there last weekend, so I didn't get to explore the grounds as much as I would have liked, but maybe I can go back sometime and do that. 

This was the door to the rooms we stayed in.  As you can see, the door is at least ten feet tall.  I've never stayed in a place with such a huge, heavy oak door before!  It was a really neat place to stay.  The retreat project was a log cabin/courthouse steps quilt with some wool applique.  I don't have it done yet, so no picture of it, but hopefully that will be coming soon.  It was a fun retreat and a nice getaway.  My plan was that, after this retreat, it would be spring, and that seemed to work pretty well, as we have had 50-degree weather all week and the snow all melted. 

I did finish a couple quilts in February that I haven't shown yet.  I made a modern quilt for my older son for his birthday.

This is BQ4 by Maple Island Quilts.  This isn't the greatest picture, but you get the idea.  The quilt was king size by the time I was done with it, so it was pretty hard to get it in one picture, and pretty hard to hold it up, too!  The large rectangles are a print fabric - that isn't all pieced.  It was a fun artistic print with squares of color with the name of the color under each square.  I quilted it on my Juki, so that was quite a project. 

The other quilt I finished in February was Urban Cabin by Atkinson Designs.
This was made in brights and batiks and was sent to a friend who is undergoing some health challenges.   I think she liked it!  This pattern is one I would do again.  The rectangles are made from a striped print fabric here, but there are also instructions to make it from strips if you want to.  I like making the fabric do the work for that, though.

So that is the report from here.  I'm hoping to have my retreat quilt together and ready to show next week.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Finally Back!

Well, that was a long break, wasn't it?!  Since I started using my phone to take pictures, I've been having trouble getting them to load the correct way into Blogger.  I finally found a way to turn them around, so now I need to get caught up with my blog pictures.  And now they even have a watermark.  This was a painful learning curve.

I haven't been idle during this break, and have finished several quilts during this long cold spell we've had for two months now!  We haven't been getting the snow that lots of places have this winter, but we've had more than enough cold to make up for it.

The first finish of January was Pork A Dot Pigs.
This was a fun quilt to make.  (I always say that, don't I?)  The ears and tails on the pigs are loose,
and all the pigs are machine quilted in a different pattern.  I tried to match the quilting pattern to the design on the background - you can see it in this pink pig.  It has circles to match the black and white background.

The pattern called for pinwheels for the borders, but I thought that would be too much trouble, so I did string pieced blocks instead.  That probably took ten times as long, but it was more fun!  I like the look of the string pieced blocks, and string piecing is really relaxing when you don't want to think too hard.

I had a lot of help with this quilt, as usual.  Why is it that the minute you lay a quilt on the floor, the cat appears and has to roll all over it?  She usually keeps me company in the sewing room, but she generally stays up in her basket of wool, until I lay something on the floor.

The second finish of January was this Kim Diehl pattern called High Cotton.  I'd wanted to make this quilt since the book came out a few years ago, so it's finally done.  This is a double-bed size quilt.

This quilt is really two-for-one.  I didn't have anything I wanted to use for the back, so I used a lot of leftovers from previous projects and pieced them all together to make a back for the quilt.  I had several strips, lots of fat quarters and 10" squares, and some leftover blocks from a couple projects.  I was a pattern tester for Quiltmaker for a couple issues of their 100 blocks magazines, so there is a whole strip of 12" blocks that I made for that.  They were great blocks, but only one of each to test the pattern, so I sewed a bunch of them together and at least they got used in something.  I kind of like this back, even though it has an everything-but-the-kitchen sink look to it!

 And last but not least, I can finally show you this project that I got back from the framer a couple months ago.  This was a kit purchased at Primitive Gatherings.  This will go onto my sewing room wall.

Hopefully, it won't take two months before I'm back to show you the February finishes!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mystery Link Up - Clue #4

Clue 4 is done!  I also went back and finished the rest of Clue 2, so I'm all caught up to date at the moment.  This week's clue was much less labor-intensive than the first and second one.  I'm really wondering how these blocks are all going to wind up together!  This mystery is definitely mysterious so far.

This was a cold, gray weekend spent indoors, so it was a productive one in the sewing room.  I finished up the Primitive Gatherings ornaments:
They are signed, dated and hanging on the tree. I also finished the free pincushion that was included
 in orders from their Christmas Open House.  I filled it with sand, and it turned out pretty cute.  I may make more of these.  I forgot how to do the flystitch Lisa designed, so mine has a feather stitch instead. 

Mix and Match, the quilt I started in a Labor Day Quilt Along, is quilted and bound.  I tried some new free motion motifs on this one - dragonflies and flowers.  My goal for this year, and for 2015, is to improve my free motion quilting skills and finish some of these quilt tops!  I seem to be lots better at piecing than finishing.

So that's my weekend!  This week will include lots of Christmas festivities, so probably not much sewing room time.   That's OK - I am looking forward to the time spent with my family!  Hope you all have a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Christmas decorating was in full swing in this house last weekend!  The big tree is up, decorations are out, and the Cathedral Mouse tree is up.  I added the Packer Fan Mouse to my collection this year.
A cute mouse complete with beer can and teeny cheesehead!  The church ladies do a great job with the mouse details, don't they?  A group at St. Paul's Cathedral makes hundreds of these mice for sale each year.  I've been collecting these for 22 years, so I've got a tree full now.
It's always fun to get these out and put them up each year.

I've been working on my Quiltville mystery, too! 

This picture shows all 100 of the Clue 3, and 70 of Clue 2.  I've got to go back and finish Clue 2, but that's going pretty well and I should be caught up by Friday, when we get the next clue.  I'm wondering how well these colors will all play together in the finished quilt, but we'll see when we get there!  I trust Bonnie to come up with a good plan.  I've been trying all her sewing and pressing techniques, and I have to say that these eight-patches for Clue 3 went together pretty slick using her method.  I guess we can always learn something new even if we've been quilting a long time.

I would have gotten more sewing done, but I got distracted by these:
These are the free Christmas patterns from Primitive Gatherings.  They are cut out and fused down, but no stitchery has occurred yet.  I always love their patterns and have several on my big tree.  You can find the free pattern here if you want to make a set for yourself!

Monday, December 8, 2014

It's a Mystery!

The first mystery is where I've been since my last post on September 30!  I don't know - October came and went in a flash; November came and went in a flash, and here we are a week into December already.  I've been too busy to blog, I guess!

The second mystery is the Grand Illusion mystery on Quiltville.  Are you joining in?  The first clue came out on Black Friday, and we're on our second clue now.  The colors this year were inspired by the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.  I've been to Mackinac Island twice, and would love to go again. I haven't been to the Grand Hotel, but that is definitely on my bucket list for the next time I get there.

Here's my Clue 2 prepped and ready to sew:
I love these mini design boards made of foamcore, batting and leftover binding strips.  They really help me stay organized when putting together these units.  The tutorial for making the design boards is here.

Clue 1 is done, and about 40 of Clue 2 are done.  I have until Friday if I want to stay caught up.

This is 100 Broken Dish units with aqua, pink, black and yellow, along with 80 half-square triangles for use later on, and about 40 of the diamond units.  The diamond units in Clue 2 were very challenging for me, but the instructions are excellent, and my units are getting better as I go along.  After 100, I hope to have mastered this technique!  Bonnie's instructions are really good, and I feel like I'm learning a lot.  These colors are a stretch for me, but I'm enjoying using something different and it's a nice way to brighten up the gray of December.

What else have I done lately?  I made a cute birthday placemat for my mom:
This was a fun free pattern on the Bee in My Bonnet blog.  She always has very cute ideas.  I'd like to make more of this one - it was very fun to put together.  It looks like I'm into bright colors lately!

I got three things back from the framer, too.  Two were cross stitch pieces made this summer.
Both of these were patterns bought at Country Sampler.  The one on the right was from the Grand Old Flag gathering, and was a companion piece to the Civil War sampler we did last year.  I had this one framed the same way, and they look great together.

I'd love to show you a picture of the third piece, but it seems to be upside down and I can't turn it in Blogger, so that will have to wait until next time.  I hope it won't be 2+ months before I blog again!  This mystery quilt is keeping me busy and I hope to post my progress weekly.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Quilt Show!

Last weekend was the Darting Needles Quilt Show in Appleton.  I've attended this show several times, but never entered anything.  This year I decided to enter two quilts.  I was really excited to win ribbons on both of them!
Hocuspocusville won a blue ribbon.  This is a pattern from Crabapple Hill Studios.  The blocks are hand-embroidered and the whole quilt is machine quilted.  This quilt has fabric from the Ghastlies line on the back, and I think the back is as fun to look at as the front.

And my Bee In My Bonnet Row Quilt won a red ribbon and a ribbon for Best Domestic Machine Workmanship.  It was hanging in the front of the show when I first went in, along with the other ribbon-winners.  This show had separate categories for domestic machine quilting, long-arm quilting and hand quilting, so the winners of all three categories were hanging together.  It was pretty exciting to see my quilt with a big ribbon on it!  The judges comments for both quilts (different judges) were that my corners should be 90 degrees.  I thought they were, but apparently not close enough!  I guess I'll have to start paying a little more attention to that.  And strive for consistent stitch length - sigh.  I've been working on that, but it seems to elude me most of the time.

Joanne Blank won the Viewer's Choice award with this quilt, which was from the book by Yoko Saito and all hand-applique in Japanese fabrics.  This was such a fun quilt to look at, and the quilting was very interesting.  Each section had a different texture in the quilting.  This whole quilt was just absolutely gorgeous.  I think Primitive Gatherings had a club based on this quilt.

I didn't take very many pictures of the show because I was a little rushed for time, but it was a great show and I'm glad I entered.

The only recent finish I have to show is for the Country Threads UFO Challenge.  My UFO #2 is done - it was a fall cross stitch pattern that I made into a pillow.

Finishing this turned out to be more of a challenge than I anticipated.  I quilted the fabric, so then I had to quilt the cross-stitch part to keep it from puffing up and looking weird.  The fabric was left over from a fall quilt called Spice Medley, so the pillow will match it. 

So that's it for the September roundup!  Hopefully October will include a little more time in the sewing room.  The weather here has been beautiful for the last few weeks, so I haven't spent too much time in there.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Labor Day Quilt Along

Last weekend (Labor Day), Denise Russert at Just Quiltin' had a sew-along with a wonderful pattern she designed, called Mix and Match.  I made this quilt last weekend, and got the borders on this weekend.  This was a really quick, fun pattern that I plan to use as a charity quilt.  Denise's instructions call for a pieced border, but I didn't have enough fabric left to do that, so I just put the floral border on and called it done.  The pattern is still available free on her blog if you're interested.  You'll need to page back a couple times - the instructions came out in three installments.  This is one pattern that I will use again, especially for charity quilts. Thanks for sharing this with us, Denise!

What else is going on?  I've been working on my Summer Block of the Week from Primitive Gatherings...
I've had a lot of trouble keeping up on this one.  You'll see that the last three blocks are still missing.  We have the borders now, so I can start putting this together once I catch up the missing blocks.  I've enjoyed this quilt, but it seems like more work than in previous years!  I guess that's because we have to piece a block before we can start the applique process.

The Country Threads August UFO Challenge for me was this Row Quilt I made last year.
It was mostly finished - just needed some finishing touches and the label and sleeve added.  I'm happy to have this done and plan to enter it into the Appleton quilt show in a few weeks.  I really love the way it turned out.  The pattern for this one is in Quilty Fun by A Bee In My Bonnet.  This needs a final going-over before I pack it up for the show.  One of the rules for the show is that quilts must be clean and free of pet hair.  Clearly I'm not the only one who deals with this problem.  I laid my Pig Quilt out on the floor...
It hadn't been on the floor five seconds before the cat started rolling on it.  Apparently quilt tops are animal magnets.  I'm looking forward to quilting this one, if I ever get time to get it started.  The pigs are all polka dots, with 3D ears and tails.  I need to figure out a creative way to quilt this, once I de-hair it, of course!

My silly volunteer hollyhock just keeps blooming.  It's at least nine feet tall - you can see that it's started bending over because the top is too heavy.  It must really love the spot it's in!  I feel like I'm helping Mother Nature this year, because there are always bees buzzing around this flower.  Our weather is going to turn cool this week, so I think the time's up for this flower, but we've really enjoyed it this summer.

So that's what I've been up to the last six weeks or so!  Thanks for stopping by!