Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Decisions, decisions . . . .

I'm constantly torn between my love of handwork and my love of piecing on my featherweight. Quilts with both are great, so I'm doing several of those right now. Applique seems to have won out most of the time lately, but I'm feeling a stronger and stronger tug to piecing, thanks to Bonnie and her patterns on Quiltville. Here are a couple tops I finished in December that I particularly love - both totally from my stash:

This is Friendship Garden. It is a design by Alma Allen and Cherie Ralston. I love the way the pieced sashing and borders look with the applique blocks. This is a BIG quilt - I had no idea it would finish this big. The blocks finish at 20" square. I collected many different yellow for my background - but when it was time to choose I used entirely different fabrics! :-)

This is Primitive Primer, designed by Jan Patek and Sue Spargo. It was really fun raiding my stash for this one. The pink plaid is a very old Roberta Horton. I had to tea dye it to tone it down. I did this as a month by month project with one of my yahoo groups. It was really fun seeing how different everyone's turned out.

Now time had better win out - I need to finish getting ready for work!

Monday, January 30, 2006

More sharing

Still reading blogs. I'm really enjoying meeting all you new-to-me quilters. I have to get my blogging under control now too, or I'll never have time to quilt.

I wanted to show you that I don't always work in traditional colors and fabrics. I have done a few quilts that were a real stretch for me. I learned a lot and love the results!

Purple is just not my color. But I had these fabrics in my stash so I used them for the center of this round robin. I love how it turned out!

I saw the company flyer from P&B advertising their African fabrics several months before they came out. I fell in love! They were so different than anything I'd ever worked with before. I bought every piece I could find when they came out - I don't know what about them appealed to me, but I had to have them. I knew right away what kind of quilt I wanted to make. I hand quilted this one "to death". I even made all four borders from different fabrics.

Here is one block from the quilt to show the quilting.

This was a challenge for the first time Jinny Beyer visited our area for classes in 1990. When I opened the packet of fabrics I thought "ugh - those are the ugliest fabrics I've ever seen!" We had to use all the fabrics and could add 2 of our own. The quilt could NOT be square. This is the first quilt I designed myself. I was surprised how much fun it was and how well it turned out. I won first prize!

I really like the movement in this fabric - both the alternate blocks and the border. This was a teaching sample from Daisy Kingdom - I have a very hard time working with such a limited number of fabrics.

I'd better shut off the computer and get into the sewing room or I'll never get anything done tonight!

I'm really scrappy - honest!

Or at least multi-fabric! I realized most of the quilts I've posted so far don't look that way. The log cabin on our bed has over 200 blue fabrics in it but you can't tell from the picture. I guess most of my really scrappy projects are still UFO's. I'll post a few more of the finished ones so you can see I don't applique everything.

The background of this quilt is a tiny purple, pink blue and teal floral calico from the 80's. When I bought it I thought it would be a good background for something. When I saw a quilt similar to this in an old Quiltmaker magazine I pulled all the pink, purple, blue, and teal fabrics from my stash, cut strips from them, and this was the result. This was a very fun quilt to make. I sure wasn't adventuresome when I did this one - notice the careful alternating of pink/purple and teal/blue blocks LOL!

In the 80's I did lots and lots of bazaars so I could stay home with my kids - I made dolls, teddy bears, pillows and anything else I thought would sell. I had lots of 1 1/2" strips of Christmas fabric left over from making pillows and potholders. They became our Christmas tablecloth. You can't tell from the picture, but there are well over 75 different Christmas fabrics in this quilt.

These four patch nine patch blocks started as alternate blocks for a churn dash block exchange. When I tried to put them together the churn dashes just disappeared - it was way too busy! (You can see the churn dash blocks on the right of the picture.) So I did something different for that quilt and just cut alternate blocks for this one. I love it! I know lots of people dislike brown intensely, but I'm currently having a love affair with it. I think it makes the quilt look old.

This little square in a square is one of my favorites. I think the color palate makes it look old. It is paper pieced, and hangs on our dining room wall. This is also from scraps.

This miniature log cabin was made from my scrap bin. The blocks are just under 3" square. The strips finish at 3/8" wide. This is the first time I ever intentionally used the back of a fabric for the right sice. I love this little quilt - it's now gotten quite faded from display.

This is a double wedding ring I made for my son and daughter in law as a wedding present. They picked the colors and pattern - I never would have picked this! I had to buy the background but used about 80 greens, 80 blues and 80 cranberry reds from my stash. It's king size so it doesn't fit our bed correctly, but I needed to spread it out to take the picture.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A mostly quilty day

Three hours that I could have been quilting were spent at my work winter party last night. Not all wasted - the food was good and I won a $15 Starbucks gift card. I can certainly use that, even though I should really stay away from there. Starbucks is largely responsible for the fact that in the last 3 years I've put back on most of the 37 pounds I worked so hard to loose. Certainly not my fault, right?

Today I have to do the state sales tax report for my little longarm business, as it's due to be mailed by Tuesday. Shouldn't take all that long thank goodness. Then I'm free to quilt for the rest of the day. I need to piece three star blocks for my Girl Gang quilt so I can post a picture of my progress for my online group on Wednesday. I'd like to get the applique pieces for next month prepped also. I want to piece the first two blocks for Heirloom Stitches and get the applique for the third one totally prepped. I want to finish prepping the applique for the rest of the Jan Patek mystery. Got September's and October's blocks finished yesterday, so that leaves only two. I will probably start sewing the sashings onto the 10 that are already finished. That's a lot to do - hopefully I can get to most of it. I'm totally out of ready-to-do handwork, and with the Super Bowl coming up next Sunday I must be ready. Our town has had a "national championship drought" for far too long. Since our Mariners blew it in 2001 it's now up to our Seahawks. I know they are the underdogs but I have faith in this great team.

I was going to post pictures but blogger is being uncooperative so I'll save them for another time.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

There went the morning!

I didn't get anything quilty done in my sewing room but that's OK - I had a wonderful morning anyway. I've now read my way totally through the Stash Quilts ring. What a fun way to get to know each and every one of you. I'm a visual person so I particularly like seeing pictures of you so I can imagine your faces in my mind when I'm reading each of your posts. I'm going to try to keep up with everyone's posts from now on. I'm so glad I discovered blogging!

Happy Saturday everyone!

Rain is still pouring down in buckets - a perfect day to stay inside and quilt. Unfortunately we have to go to the "Winter Party" for work tonight - it's "politically correct" for me as a manager to be there. I'd much rather be quilting!

I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped at the Sew Frenzy last night. Too much gabbing I think! It would have helped, too, if I'd remembered to bring the pattern for the applique block I planned to stitch. I got all the freezer paper templates ironed onto the fabric, marking done, and pieces cut out. But no idea whatsoever how they were supposed to go onto the background LOL. Whoops! I didn't stick it out until midnight - no one did. Left about 10:30 when I'd done everything I could with what I brought to work on.

I love the idea of "maverick" quilts and want so much to start "freeing up" my quilting in that direction. I have so many ideas but so little time! I have one "maverick" that I've finished so I thought I'd share a picture of that quilt.

Years ago I taught a class called "Precision Machine Piecing" using Marcia McCloskey's book "Lessons in Machine Piecing". I taught it several times at guild "Saturday Class Days" and a couple times at Daisy Kingdom in Portland Oregon. I had so many teaching blocks - including these LeMoyne stars, Barbara Fretchie stars, and Churn Dashes. Plus little blue and white nine patches left over from a Burgoyne Surrounded quilt. They sat in a drawer for years. I just didn't want to make enough to make a quilt from any of them. One day in a mad cleaning frenzy I dug them out and decided to throw them all together in a single top. I had to put narrow borders around the LeMoyne stars to make them the same size as the others, then stuck the smaller blocks on each end. It turned out WAY better than I ever dreamed it would. I'd just gotten it back from the longarmer when I took this picture. I love the Baptist Fans she quilted all over it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

It's Friday!

Good morning everyone! It's another VERY rainy day here in the Pacific Northwest - perfect weather for staying in and quilting! Tonight my little guild is having a Friday Night Frenzy so I'm getting together handwork for an evening of stitching. I probably won't stay until midnight - I'm not a night person - but I'll stick it out as long as I can.

I'm currently working on the last three blocks of Jan Patek's Mystery Quilt. Here is what the finished quilt looks like. It's been lots of fun. I confess however - this one isn't from stash - fabric comes with the pattern each month.

I'm also doing Jan's Girl Gang - It's a Wonderful Life. This one is totally from stash. Here is my progress so far.
The fabric rectangle over the house is actually a blue and white plaid. It looks like a medium tone on the wall but looks really light in the picture. In the picture I think it looks very distracting so I'm probably going to frog off that piece and choose another fabric.

My new project is Heirloom Stitches by Lori Smith. This is a BOM also. Sometimes I need those. I call them "Quilt by Number" projects - do you remember paint by number kits? I did them as a child. Sometimes I just want to stitch away without thinking - it's a great way for me to meditate and rest my brain - and BOM's serve that purpose for me.

I'm loving blogging. I always wanted to keep a journal but could never stick with it. This is a great way to accomplish much the same thing and because we are sharing it's easy for me to write every day. This better be it - I need to get ready for work!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Two finished UFO's

Or should I say almost finished?

The longarm is tied up with customer quilts, so I'm currently focusing on getting all my UFO's to the "finished top" stage. Here are two that I finished while I was home sick with a nasty respiratory virus earlier this month.

This has been in progress for several years. I call it the "Baseball Quilt" because most of the applique was completed while watching the Seattle Mariners for several seasons.

The border leaves and dots were all that needed to be done.

This is Liberty Garden- the Jan Patek featured fabric quilt from a couple years ago. This is the first primitive folk art top that I started. The picture is "wonky" because we couldn't hold it high enough to get a full length picture without turning the quilt on it's side. That's why the room is sideways!

Must get ready for the trip up north for work today.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Just checking in

This is going to be a very short post since it's bed time. 5:00 comes pretty early! The only time I had to post today was when blogger was down - that doesn't work! Wednesday evening we go out to dinner with DD and DSIL, and then play games afterwards. I didn't want the day to end without posting a "Hi" to all my new quilty friends. I'm going to try to upload the pictures that wouldn't upload yesterday. I sure wish the room was really this neat. I took these pictures right after I moved back into the room. I'd moved everything out, put in new carpet and painted because I thought the longarm was going in this room - but that's another story!

This is the closet in my sewing room. As you can tell it's a funky shape because it is underneath our stairway. The larger Rubbermaid boxes have cut strips of various sizes. The smaller ones have half square triangle squares, squares, rectangles, etc. The two sets of stacking drawers are full of PIGS - unstarted kits. Another name for these is "HSY's", pronounced "hussies". That stands for "haven't started yets". If you've had them for more than a year they are "Brazen HSY's".

Two more stacking drawers with tools, etc., and the filing cabinet with patterns and clippings from quilt magazines.

This is the makeshift base of my cutting table. 20 plastic cubes are in the center of the floor - 10 on each side stacked 2 deep. These are full of UFO's, PIGS, and other such things. You can see the fabric baskets on the right - this is a VERY crowded room!

I have a particle board "riser" I made that sits on the plastic cubes at each end. They bring the top up to cutting height for me - I'm tall. The top of the table is the closet door!

I was going to put in a picture of the bookcase with quilting books, but blogger is suddenly sending my pictures into a black hole once more. I need to get to bed anyway - I have 3 three hour trip up north for work tomorrow. It's going to be a LONG day.

I guess it's not a short post after all!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Stash includes more than fabric!

I'm posting a bunch today because I'm so eager to share - I love this new way we've found to share our passion! Judy says I need three stash-related entries in order to be admitted to the Stash Quilts ring, and if I'm counting correctly this one makes three.

I collect more than just fabric. I collect quilting books. I've put them all on a spreadsheet that I can take with me on my PDA because I've been known to buy two copies of the same book - several times in fact. Once I wanted a book so badly I bought it 3 times before I remembered I'd really bought it and not just planned to buy it. The spreadsheet has 873 titles listed . . . and counting . . . because I have three new books that aren't listed yet. And that doesn't include any of my longarm books or other books of quilting designs I keep upstairs in the longarm room!

I also collect quilt patterns. I've lost count of how many patterns I have - and I keep buying them. Plus quilting magazines. At one time I had subscriptions to 10 different magazines. I've now cut back to only four. When I had over 15 linear feet of magazines I begged for a filing cabinet for Christmas. I went through all the magazines, tearing out articles of interest and every pattern that remotely interested me. Now I have a full filing cabinet and two more years of magazines to go through!

I also am a sucker for kits. My favorite quilt shop is owned by a great lady with a fabulous sense of color and fabric combination. I adore everything she puts together. And she always puts together very generous kits for each of her class samples. Plus I'm a sucker for kits on Jan Patek's and other websites. So I put all my kits onto another spreadsheet labeled "PIGS" - projects in grocery sacks. Mine aren't in grocery sacks - they are in stacking drawers all over the quilting room - but I like the name anyway. As soon as one is started it gets moved off the PIGS list and onto the UFO list. The PIGS list is currently at 58 kits - ARGH! And the UFO list has 46 items. At least I can say that only 17 of them are unfinished tops - the rest are just waiting for me to find time to quilt them.

I tell my family I have to live to be 500 years old to use up this fabric and finish all the projects. Someone at work who obviously doesn't know me at all well asked me why I wanted to retire. "You know you'll probably be bored stiff" was her comment. Good gravy - she obviously doesn't know any quilters!

I tried to post pictures of bookshelves, kit storage and more but blogger doesn't seem to be cooperating. Tomorrow I'll try to edit this post and add the pictures.

Quilts from Stash

As I said earlier - I have a problem. I buy more fabric than I use. I hope to change that this year - at least that's my goal. We'll see how I do. Maybe I can do better with everyone's encouragement!

In the meantime here are some of the quilts I've made from my stash.

I made this quilt for our bed in hopes it would shrink my stash of blues. I had 5 bins full! Even though this quilt is all blue fabrics except for the inner red border, and it all came from my stash, it didn't make a visible dent. Rats!

One of my Tangled Threads friends came back from New Mexico with a panel and two fat quarters for each of us. She challenged us to have a finished project made from them in 6 months. Mine just kept growing and growing until it became twin size. Everything the the panels and two fat quarters came from my stash. I pieced the back from leftover pieces from the front of the quilt.

Here is a little primitive quilt I made from my stash, and a few of the decorator quilts I've made entirely from stash.

Exploding stash

I need to find more room for fabric! This is an illness for sure - I just can't stop buying! Every year the new lines are more wonderful than the lines that came out in years past. And my tastes have changed so much! I remember when I focused on Hoffman florals and batiks. Now I'm mad for reproduction prints from every era, plaids, and fabric suitable for folk art and primitives.

This is my 4x8 foot fabric shelf. (I'm in love with lime green, so that's what I painted the room!) It is both fat quarters and larger pieces. Unfortunately this picture is about 18 months old, and the shelf is now full to overflowing.

Where to put more fabric? I did come up with a solution - at least I hope it's a solution. When you hear what it is you'll know how sick I am!

I stopped buying fat quarter collections and switched to half yard collections! My new fabrics - the Jane Austen collection, the Dargate Cheddar collection and others are all half yards! So this is where I'm going to try to find room for them - in my baskets that hold pieces that are a half yard or more. As you can see these baskets look pretty full - and this is an old picture also! I suspect the top baskets will be stacked very high by the time I've prewashed all the new fabrics!

What can I say - I'm addicted! I hate the idea that I might have to stop creating because I don't have the fabric I need, so I've made sure I don't lack anything I might possibly want. After all, quilt shops aren't open in the middle of the night!

The evolution of a fabriholic

I've been in love with fabric, thread and needle since I was 5 years old. That's when my mother taught me to make a simple running stitch with embroidery thread so I could make a picture. I could get a kit for about 10 cents at J.J. Newberry's that included needle, thread, and small picture already mounted in a colored plastic frame that also served as a hoop. I still have a couple of those pictures that I did. I moved on to pillow cases and dish towels made of flour sack fabric that I hemmed myself. Vogart Iron-On Transfers were available in quantity for 10 cents. My mother always got a new set of dish towels from me for Christmas until I was in Junior High.

In junior high I took home ec. What a disaster! I had a terrible teacher - Mrs. Peters. She was shaped like a pouter pigeon. She walked with her chest thrust out, her behind swaying, and a handkerchief held in one hand. She would walk around the room saying "I want all you girls to grow up to be just like me."

Luckily my mother sewed, so she took me in hand and taught me to run her machine and make clothes. I made all my clothes - except for underwear and jeans - until I was in my 30's! I sewed for the kids and my husband also - even made all his slacks and a suit!

I started taking McCalls Needlework and Crafts when I was about 12. I fell in love with the quilts! My mother had one old quilt - a LeMoyne Star that had been pieced by my paternal grandmother who died before I was born. By the time I remember it, it was in tatters. I had no other quilting history in my background but I fell in love nevertheless. I dreamed about quilting for years. When I was 14 I took my babysitting money and purchased "101 Patchwork Patterns" by Ruby McKim. That was the only quilting book I could find. It was originally published in 1931 - my edition was pubished in 1962. I devoured the quilt patterns in the magazines, but had no money for fabrics. A couple years later I found another book - The Standard Book of Quilt Making and Collecting by Marguerite Ickis. It was originally published in 1949 but mine is a later Dover edition. I was in heaven - two quilting books in addition to the quilts in the McCalls magazines.

When we moved to Vancouver in 1974 I took my first quilting class at the community college. It was taught by a woman who had a neat shop called "The Hole in the Barn Door". It was the predecessor of today's quilt shops. It had a small amount of fabric - there wasn't that much available - plus teddy bear, doll and other craft supplies. We did everything by hand in class using templates made from x-ray film and sandpaper. I loved it! I came home and started my first quilt - one for our bed. It was a triple Irish chain in red, green and white. I cut out thousands of little squares by drawing around a template! I did stitch it by machine however - the handwork was too slow for me. Took forever to finish that quilt - I'd used a sheet for the back and it was impossible to hand quilt through. I finally finished it by tying it with yarn. It never went on the bed - the curtains I made that matched it were old and faded long before it was done. I cut a slit from the side to the center, zigzagged it, and it served as our Christmas tree skirt for many years. Now our daughter and son-in-law use it under their tree.

Lots has happened since then - many, many finished quilts, the purchase of a long arm machine, teaching quilting for several years for the guild and Daisy Kingdom in Portland Oregon, and the collecting of a huge stash that fills two rooms. And I'm more in love with quilting than I've ever been before!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Quilting friends are the best!

I've belonged to a small quilting group called Tangled Threads since 1989. The group was established in 1987, and two of the original members are still in the group. We take turns hosting the group at our homes every Tuesday night. We stitch, gab, laugh and cry together. Over the years we've had retreats, done exchanges and round robins, painted each others houses, organized each other's sewing rooms, gone on a couple pub crawls with our hubbies, and supported each other in good times and bad. We are each others' very best friends.

The picture is from last fall when we celebrated the 18th birthday of the group. I'm on the left in the red shirt. As you can tell from the picture, we eat at our meetings almost as much as we quilt!

Quilting friends are the best kind of friends!


Well, I did it. I have jumped into blogging with both feet. I'm sitting at my desk at work eating a Healthy Choice frozen meal that I certainly hope is healthy because it doesn't taste all that good!

I work to support my passion - quilting. Working full time certainly cuts into quilting time but allows me to add to the massive stash that's threatening to explode out of my quilting room and into the rest of the house. I'm counting the days till retirement so I can just play all day. Well, truthfully I don't know how many days there are, but the date is June 30, 2009!

That better be it for now - lunch time is basically over and I should get back to work. I'm excited about being able to share my quilting passion with others of like mind!

This is the most recent picture I have of myself. I'm the one with the camera so I have hundreds of pictures but none of me! This is from May 2003 at our son's wedding.