Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fun New Things

I had great fun participating in Amy's IGQuiltFest in March, even though I was late to the party.  It was a great way to see how other quilters do all the same things you do, from labels to bindings to stash building.  I'm looking forward to seeing what Amy has up her sleeve next!

I've also seen a lot posted about Olfa's new Endurance Blade lately, so I had to pick one up.
 Jo-Ann Fabrics does have them in stock (at least my store does) and since rotary tools were all 40% off when I bought it (plus a 20% off coupon which is the same as my employee discount) you could get one for only $6.24 the day I bought it.  I confess, I'm not big on changing my rotary blade often; I just become accustomed to its poorer performance and really only change it when a nick means it always skips cutting at a certain rotation.  But I had a new project in mind and thought a fresh blade would make a big difference,  so I splurged.  The proof is in the duration, so I'll post again with time!

My project involves trying out Moda's Cake Mix Recipes.  I love precuts, but I never bought a layer cake before.  I like charm packs for small things and jelly rolls and honey buns for strips, and fat eighth or fat quarter bundles if I wanted larger cuts, but a layer cake seemed limiting.  Maybe I'm exactly the type of quilter these were invented for?  So I picked up a layer cake of Jen Kingwell's "Behind the Scenes" from Green Fairy Quilts, and four yards of Kona Cotton in Celestial, and set to work with Cake Mix #2 which I'd ordered from Missouri Star Quilt Company.
This is easy and fast - just like using a cake mix is easier and faster than baking from scratch!  Layering the squares with the paper takes seconds.

Sewing one of them takes me less than three minutes.  The advantage to these long straight lines is that I could put the pedal to the metal and zoom over these straight lines.  (Side note - I need to look into getting a foam pad of some sort because my whole sewing table vibrates when I sew that fast!)

Then it's slice, press, and pull off paper to yield a dozen HSTs to rearrange into any of a number of block settings.

Here's the one I've chosen!  I may switch it up from the block design to a streak-of-lightening/chevron design when I put these four blocks together in the end.



My only challenge is working with pins ... I'm not a quilter who uses them often and I keep poking myself!  But it's a small price to pay for speed, accuracy and convenience!

After I cut all of these with my Olfa Endurance Blade I enrolled a course in the One Block Wonder quilt, which is essentially turning a gorgeous piece of fabric into kaleidoscope blocks.  It was a fun day of cutting and sewing at the Blue Hen Quilt Shop, and I'm looking forward to returning in a few weeks with all my completed half-hexie blocks to lay it out and put it all together!  (Repeat pics from my Instagram feed here, sorry!)


I must add that the instructions/supply list for the class told me to bring multiple rotary blades since I would be cutting through six layers of fabric and it would be tough.  Well, this is where I thought I'd put Olfa to the test - I'd just cut an entire cake mix recipe with paper and fabric so I brought ONLY my rotary cutter with the Olfa Endurance Blade.  No problem!  Sliced through all six layers on the first time, every cut.  Gotta love it!  When it's finally time to replace it, you can bet I'll be buying another one.

Finally, my last big exciting bit of news almost deserves its own post.  I just got my preview copies of Quiltmaker Magazine's 100 Blocks Volume 15, and not only was I a happy tester for the issue, but I am the proud AUTHOR of Block # 1435!  Tune in to Quilty Pleasures for the blog tour May 1-5, 2017.  I'll also be showcasing my block here then, and giving away issues to a few lucky winners.  Testing for Volume 16 begins next month also, and I'm looking forward to being the first to test those ... maybe I'll come up with a design to submit for Volume 16 as well!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Second Quarter Finish-A-Long list

I found out about the Finish-A-Long midway about a month ago, too late to participate in the first quarter's prizes since I hadn't submitted a list of proposed finishes.  But now it's time to start the second quarter and here is my list of proposed finishes!

The easy one - I have a little table topper made from a Moda Bake Shop recipe using a candy bar, which has been quilted for years and I'm only dragging my feet on the binding.  I don't know why; I actually like binding, so that's going to be first.

The quilt guild is looking for a few small quilt donations for the August show, so I plan to finish a couple of my Quiltmaker 100 Blocks test blocks into small quilts.  I can't share pics of them yet since they haven't been published (volume 15) but one is an English paper pieced wreath and one is a two-color foundation paper pieced design.  They'll need borders, quilting and binding to count as finishes.

Also a guild show-related project, another member had made a quilt top and didn't feel up to finishing it.  I volunteered to take it on in order to get it quilted and donate it back to the guild.  I need to baste and quilt and finish that one.

There are two more that I don't know whether will make it into this quarter's finishes or not - my lime and navy Modern Vortex small quilt from last year's Debby Kratovil workshop, and my silk Curvalicious quilt runner from last year's Cheryl Lynch workshop.

My long reach is to finish my Windows into my World quilt (Geta Grama design_ - the EPP is done, now I have to applique it to the background fabric, baste quilt and bind.

Wow, there's a lot of basting, quilting and binding on my plate this spring!  To recap:
#1 - Candy Bar table topper
#2 & #3 - small quilts from 100 Blocks Volume 15 test blocks
#4 - Slide Show quilt (batiks)
#5 - Modern Vortex
#6 - silk Curvalicious runner
#7 - Windows Into My World

Here's hoping I finish them all!!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

March and hopeful for Stella!

Yesterday morning I awoke from a nightmare around 4 am - I'd gone away for the weekend and someone had broken into my home and stolen all my electronics, even my KitchenAid appliances.  But once I determined that my quilts and fabric stash were untouched, I felt very lucky!

March is here, we have hopes for a big blizzard this week thanks to Winter Storm Stella (which means staying home to sew time), and testing for Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 15 is complete.  Quiltmaker sent me a gorgeous package as way of thanks and I've already volunteered for Volume 16!
It took me a couple of weeks to sort through my stash of scraps to continue work on the Fiesta Tiles block, but I finally did it.  My bin of bits is manageable again, even though my Honey thought it was the end of the world since I was throwing out fabric.  Here are a few of the pieces I came across, wondering why on earth I kept bits so darn small!
I've got quite a few blocks mostly made but will still need to make a bunch more.  This is turning into a celebration quilt looking back on my 25 years of quilting, as I'm finding bits of pretty much every quilt I've ever made (including a lot I never even caught in photographs).


I've been pulling on my math skills to strip piece the black and white segments with the help of Janet Kime's Border Workbook.  It's easier than following the individual cutting instructions for one block in the magazine:
I have a few other things going on as well, including some machine quilting and hand piecing.  I'll post more soon.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A look back at 2016

I promised a review of 2016 since I did virtually no blogging last year.  It was a good sewing year, though.  I worked solely at Jo-Ann Fabrics through the first half of the year, and from July through December worked a temp job at the University of Delaware while still doing a little bit at Jo-Ann on Saturdays.  Since that ended I'm back at Jo-Ann's until the next office job comes along!

I joined the Ladybugs Quilt Guild when I returned to Delaware, and took advantage of my retail work schedule to participate in a few workshops with speakers last winter/spring.  I made a top out of silks with Cheryl Lynch and her Curvalicious ruler.  I have a huge box of silks from a friend of my mother's which I've been thinking about using in quilting, but didn't know how, so the workshop was a great learning experience!
The silks shimmer so nicely with the light.  I have yet to quilt this one but hope to finish it this year.

The next workshop I took was with Debby Kratovil, learning her ModernVortex quilt.  Debby was a designer for a block in Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 6 which I'd tested years ago and I'd been one who'd tested her block.  I brought my issue of the magazine to the workshop and she signed it for me!  :-)  #quiltingnerd

I did my vortex in lime green and navy (although this picture reads more of a dirty yellow).  It's another UFO on my to-quilt list.

In the spring I also worked on a quick wall hanging for my sewing room.  I'd decorated in mostly shades of blue and needed something to hang behind the denim sofa.  I made this from jelly rolls from one of Kim Brackett's books and had it quilted by Carole of Quilts by Carole.
It was a great test run to find a local long-armer I was happy with, and I can definitely recommend Carole to anyone looking for a pantograph long arm quilter in the area.

I also had Carole finish a top I'd made for my cousin Rhonda.  I gave it to her this past May.  Purple is her favorite color and it's a pattern from Pat Speth's Nickel Quilts which I made with a bunch of scraps.
In June, I finished a quilt in extra-long twin size quilt for my son, who turned 16 while living on campus at the University of Delaware, taking two college courses.  He chose the colors and design, and Carole did the quilting again.


I didn't get as much accomplished in the second half of the year, working two jobs, but I did manage to block test for Quiltmaker Magazine's 100 Blocks, Volume 14.  They sent me some gorgeous fabric as a thank you, and it went very nicely with other fabrics in my stash.
In the fall, I also came across the opportunity to buy a used mid-arm machine from a woman who was planning a cross-country move and just didn't want to take it with her.  It was still under warranty so I had it serviced before bringing it home and setting it up.  Meet my new addition to my line-up of machines, Tinsley the Babylock Tiara:
Tinsley joins my other two machines: Baron von Quilthausen, my Bernina 930, and Old Sally, my 1930 Singer.  Tinsley came with a stitch regulator and I've been watching a lot of videos to learn how to use her.  The first piece I did was a baby quilt for my store manager, who welcomed her daughter Sophia into the world earlier this month.  It was a bow tie pattern with charm packs of Bunny Hill Designs' Jubilee.
I used rulers to do most of the lines in the bow ties and free motioned the motifs in the white areas.

The mom-to-be loved the quilt and hopefully the baby will love it too as she grows up.

That's about all that I managed to accomplish in 2016.  I'm looking forward to quilting some of these small pieces on Tinsley this year as well as working more from stash and scraps!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New Year, New Resolutions

Hello audience, this is your long-lost author.  Well, maybe not many of you are around anymore.  Those who still have me in your feed readers might be surprised to see this post pop up.  I've let my blogging fall by the wayside for a number of reasons ... 1) other social media, like Instagram, gets my posts out there more quickly and with fewer words (and less effort!), 2) a lot of my sewing lately has been block testing for Quiltmaker Magazine's 100 Blocks issues, which is confidential until the issue is published, and 3) just life!  Working one or two jobs while still jobhunting full time and dealing with family obligations takes enough time away from sewing, let alone blogging about sewing!

So my new year's resolutions for 2017:

Taming my scraps is first up on my list.  I've been quilting for 25 years now and in the beginning I saved every little bit of every little fabric.  In sorting through these bits and pieces I've found scraps from my very first projects.  I'm tossing anything I'm not sure is 100% quilting cotton and anything too small to use (and it's got to be pretty small to be too small!).  I'm trying to use much of the rest.  I'm also donating some older fabrics I'll just never use.  My husband thinks it's a sign of the end of the world, but the truth is I am running out of room to add to my stash!

I keep a running list of UFOs I'd like to finish and I really want some of these off my shelf.  There are a few I've just lost interest in and I should really donate.  There are a number of smaller tops I need to quilt as well.  So getting some of these from unfinished to finished is on my list this year.

Finally, the third resolution:
I've added my Instagram feed to the right; feel free to follow me there.  But I hope to post to both sites with quilting content much more regularly.  Encouragement helps here so please feel free to comment as moved!

I owe you a look back at the past year so I will do that in my next post; stay tuned.