Sunday, February 27, 2011

Internet Quilting Fun

The Internet never fails to amaze me whenver I use it. Whether I'm shopping.b logging, or surfing -- I'm alwasy in for a surprise.

A few days ago, I stumbled across a great quilting website:

It's a great site full of lots of fun and information for quilters. There are even contests. On a whim, I submitted a quilt for the Colorful Modern quilt contest. Although I won't win the contest, I feel pretty pleased with myself to be in seventh place out of 43 quilts. So, I hope that you'll check it out. Maybe you'll even submit a quilt for one of the weekly contests. Or perhaps you might want to sponsor a contest with a prize.

There's lots of other great sutt there too including free patterns and even cooking. YUM! Oh, and over 4000 quilt bloggers around the world. Quilting is truly an international event.


I am very happy and relieved to report that I have finished quilting my class quilt. The binding is now ready to stitch down by hand. I will be posting a picture of it soon. It's not perfect, but I think it will turn out just fine. Remember done is better than perfect.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Still Quilting..............Sorting Magazines too

Well, I am still quilting the center of the class quilt. Sadly, I had to rip out a whole section of quilting because I had a pleat on the back. What a pain in the derriere! Ripping out machine quilting is the stuff of nightmares. I repaired the section, but I don't think this quilt is going to be one of my best pieces, though. happens to all of us at one time or another.

I haven't given up hope completely, though. I used a Fairfield batting that is 80 percent cotton and 20 percent poly. It's the first time that I've used this brand and I really like the feel of the batting and its thin-ness. I did not prewash the batting so it's possible that when I launder the quilt (after I apply the binding, of course) that it will pucker up nicely as the batting shrinks a little bit and will cover up my less than perfect quilting. We shall see.

In the meantime, I've also begun to downsize my collection of quilting magazines. I do this a few times a year. This a a good thing, too, because the magazines seem to multiply like rabbits -- I mean, did I actually buy all of these magazines? Oh, yeah, my quilt friends and I share magazines so some of them come from our magazine exchange, too. The bottom line, though, is that I have too many magazines.

How do you sort your magazines? I have a three part reduction plan:

1) I look through each magazine. If there are a lot of designs that I like and might want to make, I keep the magazine and write the date on the front that I decided to keep it. These magazines go in small clear plastic storage boxes. Small ones, so that I can actually move the boxes by myself and I don't feel like I've been hit with an avalanche of magazines when I'm looking in a box for a specific one. Someday, I'd like to add a list on the top of each box with its contents, but I haven't gotten there yet.

2) If I find one or two designs that I like, I rip them out and staple the pages together. The ripped designs then are put in a file box, organized by type of project (wall quilt, baby quilt, bed quilt, holiday, etc.). I then initial the cover of the magazine and this will go to our friends magazine share (I initial it so that I know that I've already looked at it). Once the magazine has made its way around to everyone, we recycle the remainder.

3) If I'm not interested in any of the designs, I put these intact magazines aside to use as giveaways for my quilt class or donations or yard sales, etc.

I still keep whole magazines, but not as many as I used to because I used to save them all. Perhaps my system will help you to create your own magazine reduction plan.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quilting the Quilt

Yesterday morning, I made the decision to quilt the class quilt that I had just layered and pinned. I really hadn't decided what allover design to use yet so I looked to my machine quilting books for a little inspiration.

This is the book that I found a great allover leafy design. I of course modified the design and added sweeping echoes for an even more organiz shape. here is a little sample of the quilting, I'm hoping that you can see it. I settled on a blue and brown varigated cotton thread from King Tut.

When it comes to machine quilting, I have learned that using the same thread on the top and bottom of the quilt works best for me.

I got about halfway done with the center of the quilt and I'm hoping to complete it today. Then I will move onto the borders.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Layering and Basting

Groan....This morning I put the final border of a twin-sized quilt for my 2011 quilt class, Barns and Hexes and Stars, Oh My!. We just had the first class this past week end so I am definitely feeling enthused about completing the quilt.

After I sewed on the border, I decided to go ahead and put the layers together and baste. This is not an easy task for anyone, but I only have a small table to work on so I have to do a lot of repositioning, which of course makes it take even longer.

How do you baste your quilts? Some people like to do it with needle and thread while others use a basting gun and plastic ties. Me, I use curved pins for basting and then I remove them as I quilt.

Although I love the look of hand-quilting, I do not have the skills nor the patience for hand-quilting -- I am a free motion quilter. For this quilt I am thinking of doing an allover design for the center and then two different border designs to frame the center. I am particularly fond of allover designs.

I do not have a long arm machine -- I machine quilt using my Janome 6260. It does what I ask it to and does it well. Who said you have to have a fancy-shmancy machine to do free motion machine quilting? The sewing machine manufacturers would like you to think that, but what you need is a reliable machine with a nice even stitch and the ability to drop your feed dogs. The rest all depends on you, the quilter. One last word of advice if you are interested in free motion quilting: PRACTICE.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Another Way to Beat the Winter Blahs

I discovered another way to beat the winter blahs!

Today was my first class in the new 2011 class, Barns and Hexes, and Stars, Oh My! Everyone came in ready to go, ready to sew, and ready to have tons of fun together. Whew, I really missed teaching quilt class.

My co-teacher, Mary Lee, and I designed two versions of the same basic quilt layout. Mary Lee's quilt features barns, hexes, and stars (inspired by Eleanor Burns' Barn book) and my quilt is more like a star sampler.

We eased into the new year-long class by starting out with 1/2 square triangle blocks. I could really see the wheels turning in the class members' heads. I can't wait until next month to see what they came up with using 1/2 square triangles.

The thing I love the most about Mary Lee's and my classes is that we each create a quilt using a common lay out, but the quilts always turn out completely different. That difference to due to our own personal styles. Although Mary Lee's quilt features checherboards, Barns, Hexes, and stars, her fabrics lean toward bright with pops of lime green and orange. My star sampler is more mellow in greyed down fabrics that are a little edgy.

Our very different personal styles only help to benefit our classes because our students are free to mix and match designs to create their very own quilt. Additionally, Mary Lee and I go about doing things differently as well. For one thing, Mary Lee is right-handed and I am left-handed. If you know anything about left-handed people, we tend to think differently that right-handed people and solve problems in a different way. So, again, our class benefits from our differences.

Not that I want to jump up on a soapbox or anything, but let me just say that the world is a better place for the differences among the people living in it. 'Nuff said.

Have you considered taking a quilt class? Or , perhpas teaching a quilt class? Well, it's pretty much guaranteed to beat those winter blahs!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Beating the Winter Blahs

I finally admitted to myself that I have the winter blahs. The last few days I've been out of sorts and it occurred to me that it was because of the constant snow and cold. I'm tired of shovelling and scraping and everything taking twice as long to accomplish.

Here in NW PA, much like everywhere else, we've been slammed time and time again with icy blasts of winter weather and lots of snow. I mean FEET of snow. We had a little thaw back in January, but basically it's been nonstop winter since December 1st. Where I live, we get a strange thing called "lake effect snow." Lake effect snow is a product of winter and Lake Erie and sometimes we really get hammered. I'm very thankful for my four wheel drive SUV.

Anyway, I discovered that I had the winter blahs and it dawned on me that what I needed to do was make myself a new purse. I had received a couple 1/2 yards of awesome spring-like fabrics and decided that it would make a great purse. I checked out my books and patterns until I found a new design that I hadn't used before, called the Bird Watcher bag. I found this design in the book, The New Handmade by Cassie Barden. I've had this book for a few years now and totally enjoy leafing through it so I thought it was time to actually use it.

Anyway, here are a few pics of my new bag. I made it this morning in about three hours, which included the cutting time as well as assembly. It has five exterior pockets, and four inside pockets. But what I love the most, I think, is the plastic snap clasp that cleverly hides UNDER the flap. It's a great medium-sized messenger-type bag, isn't it?

So, check out the book. It has many wonderful and quite simple designs for bags, totes, and accessories. If you make yourself a new bag, you'll beat the winter blahs too!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More Quilt Victims!

Some time ago, I wrote a blog about finding new people to gift with quilts because my family and friends are being buried under my loving gift quilts. Well, recently, I found a few new quilt victims of my own!

Here are the quilts:

The pretty table runner is going to be a house warming gift for a former coworker (and a friend) who is relocating to NC. I probably won't get to see her new home, but I will feel great about her having a quilted table runner for her dining room table (or wherever she chooses to display it). This runner is a modified version of a This and That pattern and uses a pack of charm squares with a coordinating fat quarter. One thing I really enjoyed about making this runner was that it wasn't time-consuming nor was it difficult. AND I used fabrics that I already had in my stash. It was deifintely a win-win situation. OH! And Tracye's going to love it!

The Dr. Seuss quilt, although it looks like a table runner, is actually sized to fit above an interior window at the library where I work. This is my second originally designed piece using the Dr. Seuss fabric for the library. I'm also working on a few wall organizers for the office, too. They will bring so much color to the otherwise boring white walls.I'll post pictures of the organizers when they're done.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Reviewing my New Year's Resolutions

Now that it's February, I thought I'd check to see how well I was keeping up with my Resolutions. Perhaps that's the key -- to regularly revisit them and make small adjustments when necessary.

1. Keep moving forward in my quilting career

I'm working on it. I keep submitting pieces to magazines. I'm staying in touch with my editor. I'm working on becoming a fabric designer.

2. Downsize WIPs and UFOs

SO far, I've completed three. Not bad!

3. Blog more often

I definitely did better with this for the month of January. I just need to keep it up.

4. Eat better and Exercise more

Okay, I've carved 30 minutes into my morning routine for uninterupted exercise. I'm following my favorite exercise program, Classical Stretch. As for the eating better, I'm still working on it.

So, overall, after a little reflection, I can see that I am working on my Resolutions. Maybe revisitng them once a month will really help me to stick with them. What do you think?