Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quilting with my BFF's

Do you belong to a quilt group or guild? If you don't, you should check out your area to see what's available. Some churches and even libraries have a dedicated quilting group. Quilt guilds can be found through your local quilt shops. If you don't have any groups in your area, consider starting a group. It doesn't have to be large or even a quilt guild.

Today, three friends and I met in the community room at our local library to quilt together. Leslie, Cheryl, and I brought our machines while Cathey brought her hand applique. Leslie worked on her on-going row quilt project from our 2010 row quilt class while Cheryl, a designer worked on pattern samples for her upcoming shows. I finished machine quilting a quilt from last year, put together a baby quilt top, and started a charm square table runner. Cathey worked on honey bee blocks for a group quilt.

Of course, everyone brought some snacks and bevereges and we all pitched in for pizza for lunch.

We started around 11 AM and sewed until almost 5 PM. It was a perfect day with uninterupted sewing, food, and friends. We talked and laughed as we worked on our own projects. I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday.

We are going to meet once a month to just sew together. We are also going to work together to learn/teach new things. Cheryl showed us how a serger works today. Next month I'm going to lead a practice session on free motion machine quilting. Sometime we'll bribe our friend Mary Lee to come and do a mini workshop on EQ7. Maybe Cathey will help us become better hand appliquers and perhpas Leslie will help us to sew a more precise 1/4" seam.

When quilters supprt each other in a friendly and relaxed environment, there's no telling what can happen!

So, what are you waiting for? Gather a few friends, find a comforatble place to get together, everyone bring a snack to share, and tote your machines and projects for a day of fun with your pals.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

When I Grow Up

I've decided that when I grow up, I want to be a fabric designer. WAIT! I AM a grown up. Do you know what this means???

This means you can change your mind about what you want to be when you are a grown up. Hmmm. What an earth-shattering discovery.

So, anyway, I've been trying on the fabric designer hat. I've been looking for inspiration in my stash of antique and vintage blocks. I've been doodling and scribbling. Not very successfully, may I add. I will actually have a temporary light table now, which will make things much much easier. I mean, how long can you stand and draw with your arms up and your papers taped to the glass sliding doors in the dining room?

A simple light box: Your acrylic sewing extension table with a very cool battery-powered light under it. VIOLA! A light box.

If you're not going to design fabric, you might still need a light box. You can use it to trace templates or quilting motifs.

Well, here's to grown ups!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


How many of your dreams have come true?

Becoming a writer was a dream of mine since childhood AND IT CAME TRUE.

Getting pulished in magazines is just an extension of that dream.

Now, I am moving on to make another, albeit newer dream, come true -- designing fabric.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bias Binding Rocks

Well, I made the bias binding for the Quilter's World project. I was quite pleased with the results. What do you think?

So, here's a question: Do you bind your quilts with straight grain binding or do you use bias binding?

I must admit that I use both, depending on the project. I particularly like striped bindings and when I do the striped bindings, I always make bias binding because I love love love the stripes on the bias -- it really adds an unexpected pizzazz at the edges. For most tablerunners and smaller quilts, I use straight grain binding, unless the project has weird points and angles (like this one). It's a good idea to use bias binding on baby quilts, throws, and bed quilts since they will receive a lot of handling and bias binding seems to hold up better to hard use than straight grain binding.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Binding, Being Stubborn, and Admitting Mistakes

I was really inspired yesterday to finish a table topper that will be in the August 2011 issue of Quilter's World magazine. I was so pleased with how the quilting turned out -- I even quilted traditional feathers in the corners.

Today I tackled the binding. First of course, I had to decide what fabric to use. Normally I don't have a problem deciding, but this one required a second opinion and several possibilities. Finally, a fabric was chosen (and of course it was the one I originally thought of). I already had a roll of binding prepared for another project so I decided to use some of it for the table topper. It was striaght grain binding.

I should have known better. I even told myself that I needed to use bias binding but I can be thick-headed sometimes AND the binding was cut already, which mad eit that much easier.

Sigh......that much easier to screw up. I carefully pinned the binding in place (I don't normally do this but this project had inside angles and outside points. It looks great on the project, but I didn't take into consideration how difficult it would be to bind, apparently. Anyway, I finally began sewing the binding on by machine. I held my breath at the inside points, checking and re-checking. I wasn't completely satisfied so I would rip out a few stitches and then resew it. It still wasn't perfect, but I thought it would get better.

It didn't.

About halfway through the binding, I decided to stop and rip off the binding before I ruined the whole quilt. Tomorrow I will make bias binding -- this is what I should have done to begin with.

I guess the point of this little story is that we really need to listen to our instincts -- if they say what you're doing is wrong, chances are it's wrong. I also wanted to show that even published quilt designers make mistakes...A LOT. The important thing is that we all learn from our mistakes.

Or, sew buttons over them.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Finally . . . My 2011 Resolutions

Okay, I finally decided what to write down for my 2011 New Year's resolutions. So, here they are:

1. Keep moving forward in my quilt career
2. Downsize some of my UFO's and WIP's
3. Eat better and exercise more
4. Blog more
5. Organize my spaces

I am hoping that by writing them down in my blog and actually posting them, I will feel more of a need to stick with them. I am already on my second WIP/UFO completion. I've got a few quilt projects in the works right now that I can't really talk about (more about these at a later date -- I don't want to jinx myself). I haven't really started eating better yet (still trying to finish the holiday goodies and get them gone) but I am making more of a committment to exercise by getting up earlier and putting in a 1/2 of exercise before the rest of the house begins to stir. As for blogging more, so far so good. And I haven't even begun to organize my spaces yet (on a happy note, though, if I complete some UFO's and WIP's, that will make more space in my studio).

SO, here's to a successful 2011. Have you decided on your 2011 resolutions yet???? Why not???? As the old saying goes...nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Quilt Victims

If you are a hard-core quilter like me, then your family gets a little tired of receiving "quilty" gifts after a while. Really, how many quilts does any one person need, anyway? So, then we know it's time to look for more victims, er, quilt recipients.

Over the years, I've found a lot of quilt victims. Here are some suggestions:

* Baby quilts and diaper bags for friends and co-workers.

* Work gift exchanges. I've always found that useful seasonal quilted items go over pretty well -- tablerunners with matching potholders or something like that.

* Weddings are always a nice occassion to make something quilty. When my editor got married, I even sent her a patriotic tablerunner (she was married around July 4th).

* Graduations? I am already planning my niece, Meghan's graduation quilt. She has already requested green and purple. This will be the one she drags along to college. She will graduate in 2012. One year seems so far away, but it will zoom by so fast.

* A new home or even remodeling? My sister is working on her new family room -- they are thinking about decorating with an Irish pub theme -- can anyone say Irish Chain??????

* Your workspace or someone else's. Recently, we did some redecorating at the community library where I work. We kept with bright primary colors in the children's area -- just right for a wall quilt featuring Dr. Seuss fabrics! I'm even going to use my left over fabric to create hanging organizers for our office (see Quilter's World Feb. 2011 issue).

* Yourself. How about a new bag or purse? Or a throw for the couch for watching movies this winter?

Well, hopefully this gave you a few ideas to spread out your quilty gifts. Try it. Your family will appreciate the break as well as the gift card they'll receive instead of a quilt!


Believe it or not, I am still trying to decide. I do know that I definitely want to include a resolution about blogging more often!

Monday, January 3, 2011

When the Lights Went Out

Well, my family had a very unique experience last night. The day started out great as I met with my two best friends for our annual after-Christmas get-together and gift exchange. We met at Leslie's house, taking along machines, projects, food, and gifts. We exchanged gifts, we ate (of course!), and even sewed a little bit. Got home in the later afternoon after a delightful time with my BFF's.

Then within a half hour, the electricity went out. It wasn't so bad at first. We tucked away the furry children, lit the kerosene lamps and candles, and left the basement door open so that the propane stove downstairs could help warm the rest of the house (that's after we closed the bedroom doors). A few hours later, we got some take out for dinner and ate by lamp light. It actually was quite nice except for the kerosene fumes stinging our eyes. We played a game for a while and then settled down to watch some three half hour episodes of the 1980's sitcom we've been watching (thank goodness for fully charged laptop computers!).

The lights still hadn't come on so it was time to make plans for the night. Since the bedrooms were very cold (last night the temperature dipped down into the teens), we were going to bed down in the office and the living room. So we began to make preparations for that. About the time I was changing into my jammies, the lights suddenly came on! WOnderful -- I was able to sleep in my own bed after all last night.

The experience really made me think about how much we rely on electricity in our daily lives. I can't even begin to understand how quilters in the past could even see as they quilted -- the light was so dim, it was hard to even see my food when we were eating dinner. I'm thankful for their efforts.

P.S. I'm still working on my New Year's resolutions.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

After the Holidays


I guess I didn't do as well as I'd have liked to during the holiday season when it came to blogging. I never did show off the other holidays projects that I crafted. If you scroll to the bottom, you'll see them now.

Sigh.... The holidays are so consuming that it's hard to address anything esle. Maybe I should add blogging more often to my New Year's resolutions...

Speaking of resolutions,have you written yours down yet? I haven't actually written them yet, I'm in the brainstorming phase right now. I am actually thinking of breaking my resoltions into categories so that I can keep them organized. I'm thinking, though, that if I do that then I have way too many resolutions and I'm thinking about this way too much! LOL!

Instead, I think I'll look at last years' resoltions to see how I've done with those. Okay, I had 4 resolutions:

1) Make more scrap quilts
2) Exercise more, eat better
3) Clean organize my spaces
4) Promote my book, Orphan Block Quilts

1) I did make some scrap quilts in 2010, just not as many as I would have liked.

2) As always, I began 2010 with this in mind, but it always seems to fall by the wayside.

3) I did clean my studio several times, but someone keeps coming in and messing it up -- throwing fabric around, leaving tools all over....

4) I did promote my book -- attended Quilt Market in Houston, submitted pieces to quilt magazines and actually had five peices accepted so far, had book signings and trunk shows.

Looking back, I'm not unhappy with how I did with my resolutions, although there is cetainly a lot of room for improvement.

I'm going to spend a little more time getting my resolutions together for 2011. There's really no reason to rush into deciding.

Good luck with your resolutions!