Friday, December 28, 2012

Some Excitement, Some Disappointment

 I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season!

I am finding the year end clearance sales a challenge this week!  So many tempting bargains!  So far, I am sticking to my plan to sew from my stash though.  I think I will try to track the fabric that I use in 2013.  It might be more hassle than it is worth, but I will try it and see how it goes.  My goal is to use 50 yards of fabric in 2013.  That might prove to be unrealistic,(maybe too low, maybe too high!) but I will revisit it after the first few months and adjust, if I want to.

This week's disappointment:
I was notified today that the two quilts that I finished in November and submitted to the Quilt Con show were not selected.  I really didn't think that they were contenders for any prizes, but I thought they might have a chance to get in.

Silver lining:  I finished them!  I am not sure they would be finished yet, without the deadline.  I surely do get a lot more accomplished under pressure!

The Excitement :
The third quilt that I submitted was selected!  
Las Vegas Modern Quilt Guild 2011 Charity Quilt
This quilt was entered into the "Group or Bee Quilts" category.

It was made by the Las Vegas Modern Quilt Guild as a charity quilt in 2011.  We took the inspiration from a wonky log cabin quilt in the book "Block Party" by Alissa Haight Carlton and Kristen Lejniekes.  

The quilt in the book was designed and put together by Alissa with blocks created by all 12 bee members. 

The guild decided to use a similar color palette and  guild members went to their stashes and brought red, blue and grey fabrics to a meeting along with sewing machines, and we put together most of the blocks in one evening.  A couple of folks took home some strips to make additional blocks and others took the completed blocks home and sewed on the sashing.  We passed on the completed blocks to someone else who sewed the top together and then on to the person who did the quilting and binding.  The blocks finished at 20", which made a nice big quilt!

The finished quilt was donated to the Mesquite Club, a Las Vegas philanthropic organization for their holiday dinner and charity auction.  Since the LVMQG donated an item to the auction, the guild received two tickets to attend.  The Mister and I went to the auction with the intent on bidding on the quilt.

We had made the decision, but had not told anyone, that I would retire in the spring and we would be leaving Las Vegas.  I wanted the quilt as a memento of the guild and the friends who made it.  

The Mister outbid the other interested parties and the quilt came home with us.  (Thankfully, the Mesquite Club membership has a more traditional aesthetic, or the bid might have gone much higher than we were prepared to pay!)

While it is not a quilt that I made, it is a quilt that I helped make. And, since it belongs to me, I think it is fair to say that one of my quilts will be in the show!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Re-purposing A Panel

During a trip to the frozen North (The Mister's home town) a few years ago, I accidentally bought two Advent calendar panels.  I say accidentally, because the fabric was not on a bolt and I thought that it was just a Xmas print with squared motifs that might be cute for making ornaments. I asked for half a yard and the quilt shop lady told me it was a panel, but she had an accent and I didn't really understand her and somehow I ended up buying two panels. 

Last week, I was going through my bin of holiday fabrics and an idea occurred to me that would put the panels to use, without ending up with calendars that I really wasn't that keen on.  

In the 70's, my family was introduced to Husker Du.  Not the band with the "thrashing tempos and screamed vocals" (Wikipedia).  No, this was the matching game "where the child can outwit an adult".  My mom saw it somewhere and thought it was such a great idea that she set out to get one for each family on her gift list and, of course, one for us, as well. (Maybe she saw the "controversial advertisement"!)

I decided that my advent calendars could become  Holiday Husker Du!

I cut the pocket designs out and quilted each one to a piece of batting and backed it with another Xmas print fabric  that was languishing in the bin.  There were 25 pockets on each panel and I made a few more squares from other areas of the panel so that I ended up with 30 pairs. I divided them into two sets of 15 pairs to make two games to send off to some little girls that I thought might have some fun with them. 
Fabric right sides together, stitched around with a gap for turning, then top-stitched.

I am sure their mothers will recall how to play the game.  If not, I will email the instructions!

As for the rest of the panel, I cut it into strips and added them to my giant knitted rug project that I will share another day.  

I am glad to have it out of the stash and made into something fun (I hope)!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Two Finishes!

Last Thursday was our KCMQG meeting and I took my quilt con entries for show and tell, so I thought I would show them here, as well. I don't know if they will be accepted, but I am not sure they would be finished, had it not been for that deadline

This is my Octagonal Orb quilt. I started it at the Las Vegas MQG retreat last February. I pieced three 'orbs' that weekend and cut the fabric for the rest.  They are a bit time consuming with 84 pieces in each block but also kind of 'zen' in the repetition.   I used a fat eighth stack of Lauren and Jesse Jung's "Flora" fabric with a little bit of their "Hideaway" line that I had left over from another project.  The block is from a tutorial that Elizabeth Hartman posted on the MQG blog during the 100 days of Modern Quilting series. 

The Mister left the desert a month ahead of me to take a pickup truck load of our stuff to our Kansas house and to get it outfitted with appliances, etc.  He took the TV, the computer and the car, which left me with only my sewing machine and IPhone for amusements.  The first weekend by myself, I used up the whole month's worth of the data plan on my phone watching videos, so after that, I sewed when I wasn't at work.  

This is another quilt that I pieced last spring. I was inspired by a quilt by a guild member in the LVMQG who made a similar quilt.  Hers was a sample for a class that she taught at the lqs on using panels in improvisational pricing. I fell in love with the Suzy Ultman prints and made my own version. 
The quilting is a mix of three or four different patterns.
Such a cute print!

I have another panel of Suzy's fabric called "Critterville".  It is next in queue!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Shutting Out The Siren Song

One of the things that I enjoy about living in the middle of the country is that many people have lived here their whole lives. And, when they are no longer with us, I  get to buy their stuff at an estate sale or auction!

That is not the case everywhere.  When we lived in the desert, there were no estate sales, or even decent garage sales.  With few exceptions, a typical garage sale, often, was 2 card tables in the driveway with old VHS tapes and tired Xmas decor. My theory is that people there just don't accumulate as much stuff over the years because there are no basements to keep stuff in.

At any rate, I have been enjoying  shopping several estate sales in any given week.  What I usually look for is fabric (of course!) and sewing things, particularly vintage things.  And vintage linens.  And incomplete projects.  And quilt tops.  And...well anything that is a fabulous bargain.  The non-vintage fabric is not always my taste, but if it is good quality I buy it with charity sewing in mind.  (Vintage fabric is always my taste!)

Gradually, seeing other people's fabric stashes for sale at pennies on the dollar, has made me consider my fabric 'habit'.  I have enough jelly rolls, layer cakes, charm packs,  half yard bundles, fat quarters and just plain yardage to keep me busy for a long time. 

And yet. 

I barely got through the "black-cyber-shop-a-thon" without buying more!   

When I am tempted by a new line by a favorite designer, or a sale of fabulous organic fabric, etc. I force myself to think about what I have already and how I would feel if I saw my stash in an estate sale priced at a dollar (or less!) a yard.  

And then I back away from the keyboard!

My resolution for the next year is to sew from my stash. I may have to buy a solid, here or there, to finish out something, but  my goal will be to use what I have. 

I hate to do it, but I am going to unsubscribe from the Deal of the Day, the Friday Feature and all the other ways that I get sucked into Internet shopping!

I am retired. I think it is time to start withdrawing from my fabric 401k!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Little Hanky Dresses

Since Ms A (Now Ms Z) and her fiancé (Mr Z) planned their October wedding long distance from NYC, the customary preliminaries of showers, bachelor/ette parties took place in the East before the wedding week.  I thought it would be nice to have a get together here for her out of town friends, cousins, aunts etc., so i hosted a luncheon at a tea room that has been a special lunch spot for us her whole life. 

It was a nice opportunity to meet the groom's mother, grandmother, and two of his aunts and catch up with folks who have not been all in one place, for quite awhile.  

I wanted to have a little favor for the guests and I saw a tutorial here for some hanky crafts and decided to make tiny wedding dresses.  

After gathering up all my hankies from the various boxes, drawers, totes and tubs, I sorted through them to see if I had hankies with the appropriate monograms for the invited guests. 

I was a couple of letters short, but after the RSVP's came back, i had enough!  (As it turned out, I could have invited lots of folks with names that started with M or W!)

A few of the hankies were not as special, or maybe had a slight flaw so I decided to pair them with a  fancy edged hanky as a 'slip' so everyone would have something special.  In the end,  I liked that look so much that I paired all the hankies with an edged one underneath.  (I followed the folding instructions in the tutorial, except I laid the monogrammed hanky 'face down' and put the edged hanky on top of it, extending about an inch or so beyond the edge of the monogrammed one.)

The tutorial features very cute hangars, which can be ordered, but since I had so many to make, I thought I could make them and save a bit. (they also sell hankies and the template for the bodice in a kit, but I have a gazillion hankies, so I decided to wing it on the bodice, too)

I used aluminum wire (sold in the jewelry dept at JoAnn).  I used two different gauges, and decided that the 14 gauge worked best.  It is very easy to bend and cut with needle nosed pliers.  I made a template out of very thin wire so I could get the shape and size the way I wanted it, then used it for a pattern as I made the others.  A sharpie marker was the perfect size to make the bends, but after doing a few, I just used my fingers.

I started with about ten inches of wire and made a bend at about 2.5" from the left end.

Then I made another bend about 3" from the first one.

I bent the left side about 1/2" from the end and hooked both sides together.

I twisted the left end around the neck and bent the other side to make the hook. 

The ends of the wire may be sharp where they are cut, but since it is aluminum, it is very easy to just crimp it with needle nose pliers to make sure they aren't a hazard.  The aluminum is very forgiving of mistakes and 're-bends', too.  And most of the hangar is covered up, so I didn't worry too much about perfection and uniformity!

I made the dress top by drawing on card stock and trimming it until I liked the look, then I traced it several times on another sheet and copied it on my scanner to make multiples. 

The tutorial illustrates how to fold the hankies, but you simply iron the hanky flat and fold diagonally to form a triangle (like a scarf).  Then fold the two ends down to the point, which forms a square, then fold the sides in again to make it a more slender diamond shape.  I used a tiny safety pin* to secure the hanky after I folded it over the hangar and  a couple of small pieces of tape to kept the bodice from slipping on the shoulders of the hangars.  The baby rick-rack belt kept the skirt centered and finished off the dress.

I loved the way they turned out and I think the guests enjoyed getting a personalized gift.  The dresses look equally great with floral hankies tied with a silk ribbon!
Even though I pulled more than 40 hankies out of my stash,   it barely made a dent!  I do feel good about the sorting and organizing, though.  Seeing all my hankies together in one place has made me realize that i really do have enough! (Some might think more than enough...)  In the last few months, I have been able to pass up all the hankies that I have since seen at estate sales, etc.

Well, almost all...

*I tried to just catch a couple of layers of hanky with the pin, since it will create tiny pin holes.  The tutorial recommended double stick tape, but tape can damage the fabric, if left for very long.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A fabulous Prize

I won a prize!

Some weeks back I entered a book tour give-away, sponsored by Emily Cier and CT Publishing. I usually don't enter give-aways, mostly because I haven't been commenting much and I don't like to appear like I am just there for the freebies.  For some reason, though, I did comment on the book over at Blue Nickel Studios and promptly forgot all about it.  Scott emailed me a couple of weeks ago, apologizing for the delay in notifying me that I had won!
And a week or so later, I received this:

Pixel Play Quilts by Emily Cier
Two additional of Emily's patterns
Color wheel poster/tool by Joen Wolfram along with her color tool
And a coupon for a discount at Carolina Patchworks

I love the look of the pixel quilts!  I have flipped through it several times over the past few days and I think I will try the Azalea pattern. I am going to look through my stash and see if I have solids that will work, or maybe some prints that read as solid that will work. This is the type of quilt that requires careful cutting and consistent seams to make it work.  I hope I am up for the challenge!

Many thanks to Scott and Emily!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Reboot: A New Beginning, And Some Finishes!

A lot has happened since I have spent any time here. I will summarize it this way:
I retired.
We moved to Kansas.
We had a wedding and 'reunioned' with family from far afield.
Things have settled down. 

Also, I joined the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild and I have been finishing quilts!

I made the top for this quilt in my "piece making basics" class three years ago.   

I practiced lots of designs and echoed the print in border. 
The fabric was a pre-selected kit for the class, and it didn't really 'speak' to me in the way that things do, sometimes.  It has hung in the closet with various other quilt tops of my own making and collecting since then.  It feels good to have it finished up!

A couple of months ago, I took a workshop on free motion quilting from Tia Curtis. Tia is a dynamic teacher and an excellent quilter.  Her passion is helping people get past their trepidation and jumping in to fmq. She also recommended Angela Walters' book which I had on my 'want list' already. 

In the workshop, we made these clever bags with our practice sandwiches. 

I have also been following the excellent year long series of posts and tutorials on fmq at Insights from Sew Cal Gal. Not stitching along, but reading along and saving the tutorials. Armed with Tia's encouragement and the other excellent resources at Sew Cal Gal, I started practicing on some orphan blocks and auction/estate sale partial tops. I finally got to the point where I felt that I could do some designs without 'ruining' a quilt top. 
And, I made a few more bags:

This is another low investment top that I put together with some 30's reproduction prints that I was hooked on for a brief minute. I practiced using my free motion foot to make straight lines. (Well fairly straight lines)  I am going to donate this one.

Here is just a peak at one that I am going to enter into the quilt show at Quilt Con.  The Mister said he wouldn't mind a trip to Austin in February if my quilt will be in the show! It is a juried show so it may or may not be accepted. I am going to keep it under wraps until I have it completely finished. Just so I don't jinx it, you know.  Maybe I can get on a wait list for a workshop or seminar!

The past two years have been full of change and transition, but I am finally feeling like I am back in the groove!  I have set some goals and one of them is to stay current here, if only for my own record, but I am always pleased to have folks stop by!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Retreat Recap

I spent the weekend at the first annual Las Vegas Modern Quilt Guild retreat!

Nine members and two guests traveled to Southern Utah for the weekend. We stayed at a wonderful vacation home, surrounded by great scenery (we found the house through While we did venture out for various errands, lunch and shopping, mostly we stayed in the basement theatre/billiard room and sewed.

This is the theatre side of the room. The other side accommodated four more sewing tables, two cutting stations and a pressing table. It was perfect!

I worked on these blocks. They are made from Elizabeth Hartman's Octagonal Orb Block tutorial featured at The Modern Quilt Guild Blog (which was originally inspired by Heather Bostic's pillow). They finish at about 17" across, so I plan to make 6 more, if my fabric holds out. I used a fat eighth stack of Flora, by Lauren and Jessi Jung.

It doesn't look like I got very much accomplished, but I feel like each of the completed blocks was eight blocks in one! I also cut pieces for 3 more orbs and I made some progress on embroidering some of Ruby McKim's Roly Poly Circus blocks for a quilt for Dearest Sister's grandbebe number five (another girl!)

Sharon brought a tiny pieced block as challenge/gift for each person. The pieced block was about two inches square made of tiny half inch squares.

These were some of the challenge projects. Clockwise from the top left: Andrea's beer pong cozy, Cindy's pot holder, Bev's coaster, my pin cushion, Maria's tiny cushion to protect the bed of her featherweight when it is folded up, Tracie's tissue cover and Darlene's iPhone purse.

We all had a great time and by Sunday morning, the discussion had turned to how many days we should add to next year's retreat! We drove home under rainy, overcast skies, but that was kind of a nice change, as well.

I am looking forward to seeing some finishes at show and tell next month!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Year of the Dragon! And Other Stuff!

We are just a few days past the Chinese New Year which is a big holiday here in the desert. Since the January new year is long gone, I decided to use the Year of the Dragon as a re-starting point for getting my blog mojo running again.

The last six or seven months have been spent waiting for this year, which is shaping up to be a great one! In 12 weeks I will retire and we are going to leave the desert to return to the middle of the country. Most all of our belongings have already moved. The Mister and the kitties will move first, in about 7 weeks, then he will come back for me and the Isetta a few weeks later. We. Can. Hardly. Wait!

The thing I will miss most when we leave, is the Las Vegas Modern Quilt Guild.

Since we formed the group just over one year ago, I have been building my quilting skills through inspiration, challenges and deadlines.

Although I usually stay away from table runners and wall hangings, I have finally seen the appeal of small projects. Generally I think of quilts in terms of bed linens, so doll quilts seemed like the perfect small project for learning new skills. A quick finish, new techniques learned and possible hand made gifts! Win, win, win!

During a late night of Internet Christmas shopping last fall, I ordered several books from Amazon (for me). This one has 24 small quilt projects.

Pretty in Patchwork - Doll quilts by Cathy Gaubert

After flipping through it a hundred or so times, I settled on making this one:
Probably not the best choice for a person of my rudimentary skills. I foolishly thought that improvisational curves might not be so hard. The last little curved seam was ripped and re-stitched until the pieces started to fray, so I finally decided finished was better than perfect and called it good.

And, I had something for show and tell at the January meeting!

The next project was more straightforward:

Dream Doll Quilt - Pattern by Aneela Hoey

Detail of Dream Doll Quilt doll and bunny
Tiny half square triangles are a bit more challenging that they looked, so don't look too closely! The pattern had a template for a little doll and teddy bear, but I used part of a panel called Appleville by Suzy Ultman. Also the original called for applique clouds, but I decided to do embroidered ones, instead. I used flannel instead of batting on this one.

Next weekend, about 10 from our group are headed to Utah for a quilting retreat! I have my machine all packed up with everything (and more, I am sure) that I need. I had a very hard time deciding what to work on so I packed several projects to take, including some embroidery.

I am starting to feel like a real quilter!