Friday, August 15, 2014

Motivation and Inspiration

I belong to a quilt guild here in California. It is nice to meet with others who share my love of quilting. The quilt top pictured here was donated to our guild for the purpose of finishing it, and then to be given to a needy person. It is one of several quilt tops made by the same person. I suspect the woman who made them was deceased before they could be finished.

I have volunteered to quilt some tops for our guild's Philanthropy group, mostly to give me practice with the mid-arm quilting machine. I started out just stippling quilts, using a template to give me some guidance. This quilt top, with its plain red inner border is asking for a little something more than just an overall pattern; perhaps a vine and leaves.

Watching long-arm quilting videos on Youtube has helped me immensely in venturing  beyond meandering and stippling, into overall freehand quilting, using a couple of different designs. Some great long-arm teachers include Nicole Webb Rivera, Jamie Wallen, and APQS among others.

I have gotten very kind remarks about my quilting, and this is giving me the courage to consider quilting for others, to perhaps earn a little extra money, to help support my quilting habit.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Stars and Stripes

A few years ago when I got serious about making quilts, one project I set for myself was to make a quilt for each of my 5 (and counting) grandchildren. I got better with each quilt, which I suppose is to be expected. The first 3 were very simple, just squares and simple shapes.

For the fourth, I saw a quilt in a magazine that I thought would be perfect. I think the pattern was called crazy daizies. Then for the 5th grand, I was stumped, so I thought about it for a long time before settling on a pattern called "Streaks of Light." I saw the pattern online and loved it, deciding to make it exactly the same colors as the original. Only one problem, I think the pattern should be called "Stars and Stripes."  I made it queen size, so it will be plenty big for years to come.  My youngest grandson will be 6 in August, and this quilt will be part of his birthday gifts. I sure hope he likes it.

So now I am on to other projects. I have a partially completed Dear Jane quilt in the drawer waiting, and a kit sitting there staring at me. Those projects will have to wait, though, because I'll be playing with a couple of grands for the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bionic Gear Bag

So, the other day I was reading on the Quilting Board, and someone asked about the Bionic Gear Bag. My curiosity was piqued, so I did an internet search for it, and this is what I found. After viewing the site, I just had to make one for myself. These photos are my result.

It was easy enough to cut out, and the instructions were comprehensive and easy to follow. There are four zippered pockets which are contained within the pleated sides. The zipper that closes the bag is 22 inches long and is attached to both sides of the bag, creating handy carrying loops.

For the main/outside, I just used some fabric that I had picked up at Manteca's annual quilt show boutique; when I bought it, I had no project in mind at the time, so it came in handy.  The inside coordinating fabric came out of a packet of sample fat quarters from Keepsake Quilting.

For the outside, I used extra stiff fusible interfacing. The inside, including the zippered pockets had regular medium weight fusible interfacing. For binding, I used twill tape, because stretch was not required.

This was a fun project, and it went together fairly quickly once I had assembled all the materials needed. As you can see, it holds a lot of stuff. The first pocket is shorter than the others and is great for holding smaller items such as packets of needles, machine or hand sewing . The slots between the pockets are useful for such items as scissors, rotary cutters, thread, seam rippers, even your cell phone. I think this will be handy for those times when I am sewing away from home, such as classes or other sewing group.

One thing I forgot to mention is the little fabric bowl on the right side of the lower photo. The instructions for this little bowl are available for free on Craftsy. Magnetic snaps in two of the corners attach to corresponding snaps on the first pocket and bag side help to hold the bowl in place while the bag is in use. It certainly isn't required when you are making the bag itself, but it can be handy for smaller items like bobbins or Clover wonder clips. The corner created by the bowl between the magnetic snaps creates a handy spot for items such as that purple thang, Frixion pens, or your stiletto.

I personally am using this bag for my sewing tools, but it could also be useful for electronics such as cell phones or ipods. It would hold ear phones, chargers, and styli in addition to the phone or ipod itself. It could hold art supplies such as pencils, erasers, markers, paint brushes. It could hold manicure supplies, first aid kit, nintendo games, or whatever, this bag is useful.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Quilted Tablets

Earlier this year, we got our oldest grandson a tablet for his 11th birthday. He was thrilled with it. When he called to thank us for the gift, his little sister got on the phone. She sweetly asked if we could maybe get her a tablet when she turned 11.

So, the twins each are getting a tablet for their 10th birthday.  What can I say, I'm a sucker for the grands, all five of them.  The other two grandkids already have tablets, so these are the last two to get them.  The twins' birthday isn't until late December, so we have plenty of time to prepare.

Here are the protective covers for their tablets.  The one on the left says "Mad Scientist."  It is an embroidery file from Urban Threads. It was a freebie at one time, so I grabbed it, knowing that at least one of my grandkids would enjoy the mad scientist persona. The name on the right was created using an alphabet called "Seacrest." This font was also a freebie, but I have forgotten from whence it came. On the inside of the flap of Piper's is a design called "Imagination," from Embroidery Library.

The covers were created using leftover fabric from a wall hanging quilt that was a block of the month from Shabby Fabrics, called "My Grandma's Garden," so it seemed appropriate to create the covers for the grandkids' tablets using the leftover fabric.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Not Your Mother's Shopping Bag

I belong to a quilt guild here in California, and our guild has a group of ladies who make quilts and other items for homeless or otherwise needy people. We also make wheelchair and walker bags, winter neck scarves, knitted hats for newborns, and more. It's a fun group of really nice ladies, and a few gents.

Recently the leader of our Philanthropy group issued a challenge to the group to decorate some reusable shopping bags that had printing on the sides. The challenge was to cover the printing, thereby decorating the bags. They will be voted on for the favorite, and I think there may be a small prize for the winner.

The bags are to be finished by October, when the voting will take place. This is my bag. The tiny ribbon bow is just being auditioned to see how it works, but I think I may have decided against it. Still, it needs something more. Someone has suggested big yellow buttons at the base of the handles, and that may be what I end up with. We'll see.

As I was working on the hexagon flowers, it reminded me of the Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt that I have been working on for a couple of months now. And I began to wonder, would this folded technique make a nice quilt? Batting could be inserted before folding, creating a quilt-as-you-go quilt. It would certainly be textured! My only concern would be to wonder if the nice neat folds would remain so when it is washed.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Sisters


I have 4 sisters; one has passed away (RIP Kellie) and the others live far away from me. The one I am closest to is 18 months younger than me. For privacy sake, I will simply call her Sis.  We get along great (now) and have similar interests, although we have very different personalities. I am the quiet, bookish one, and she is vivacious and outgoing.  When we were in school, she just couldn't get it when it came to sewing for Home Economics. Now, however, she sews a lot of her own clothes, and things for her grandchildren.

On one of my visits back home, I taught her how to make half-square triangles, and showed her different ways to arrange them for making different patterns. I could almost see the light bulb come on over her head. This started Sis to making quilts. All sorts of quilts; table runners, coasters, bed quilts, even a mantle quilt for her son for Christmas.  She sends the large quilts to me for quilting since I have the quilting machine.

So, Sis found a Block of the Month online at Shabby Fabrics.com.  For some reason, it appealed to her, so she promptly enrolled herself and me for this wall quilt. They sent the blocks to her, and she mailed mine to me every month. The final month was February, when they sent the center block, sashing, borders, binding, and finishing instructions.

Here is my center block, all finished.  Sis is jealous; she hasn't even started on her center block. She is so much in love with this quilt design that she is afraid to begin the center for fear she will mess it up. I used the freezer paper method to begin making the applique shapes. I found the freezer paper makes things much easier, particularly with odd shapes

I am currently debating about whether or not to add some simple embroidery, such as a wispy butterfly or dragonfly to mine, just to add an individualized touch. I wonder if Sis is waiting for me to offer to do her center block for her, but I think she will have greater satisfaction if she does it herself.

Quilted Dishes

Okay, I didn't really didn't try to quilt my dinnerware. I picked up a kit for making a dresden plate quilt at our local (Manteca, CA) quilt show. Some of the "petals" were already cut; actually, as I sewed the petals together, I saw that some of them had apparently been sewn and then unsewn. The precut pieces were not enough to complete a quilt, but the kit contained more, uncut fabric from which to finish the blocks.

The quilt I am currently working on uses  1930s prints. Since this is not the color palette I would normally use, it will be a challenge for me to pick background and sashing fabrics to complete the quilt.

According to this article, the Dresden Plate quilt pattern was one of the most popular quilts made during the 1920s and 30s. It was first published in the 20s but not always under the name Dresden Plate. Grandmother's Sunburst, Friendship Ring, Aster, Dahlia and Sunflower are all names used for this pattern.

I'm not in a big hurry to finish it, however, because my quilting frame is out of commission at the moment. I was quilting a quilt for our Philanthropy group last week when I noticed I was having a lot of trouble making the machine go where I wanted. If you look closely at the quilted lines, you might think I was drunk when I did the quilting, the lines are so crooked. Upon investigating the trouble, looking for obstructions or other causes for the trouble, I discovered that the rails upon which the machine carriage rides are cracked. Replacement rails have been ordered, so all should be well soon. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Quilted Toads

The last time DH and I visited "back home," our daughter-in-law (DIL) asked me to make her a quilt. She was the only one of our 3 DILs that I haven't yet made a quilt for, so it was on my to-do list anyway. Therefore, I was more than happy to oblige.  Then she told me that she had never had anything that had been made especially for her, which made me a little sad for her. I asked her about color scheme and/or pattern preference, and she said she would love anything I came up with. She did mention pink, which is one of the colors I chose for her quilt.

This particular DIL is very fond of miniature schnauzers (she has four), so I went on a hunt for some schnauzer fabric, which I found on Spoonflower.com.  If you've ever followed Project Runway, you know they usually have one challenge where they print their own fabric, and this is one of the features offered at Spoonflower. Anyhow, the fabric was found, so now I had to find a quilt design to highlight the schnauzers so they didn't get lost in the mix.

Our local quilt guild meets on Tuesdays for group sewing on philanthropy projects. This is a generous, fun bunch of ladies who like to share. Usually there are quilt magazines available that members have brought to share, to clear out their stash. Last week I found a design in a 1995 American Patchwork and Quilting magazine that promises to be perfect for showcasing the dog fabric. The pattern, called "Toad in a Puddle" is a 100-year old pattern that was first published in the late-1800s mail-order catalog produced by Ladies Art Company. This is a picture of the main block, the "toad". (Such an unromantic name!)

The so-called alternate block is the block that will feature the schnauzers. It calls for a 9" square, which will be "framed" with contrasting fabric.  So now, I have the pattern, I have the fabric, and am almost halfway through making the "toads".  Now I look ahead to see how the alternate blocks are constructed, and the cutting instructions don't give the measurements for the frame around the 9" square. Yikes!

After panicking slightly for a while, studying the magazine for clues, and finding none, I was in a quandary. What was I to do? Then it dawned on me, I have Electric Quilt 7, which I had used to do a layout of the colors I wanted to use. EQ7 to the rescue! I was able to print out the rotary cutting guide for the alternate block, and of course it includes measurements. Another thing I like about EQ7 is the fact that it will figure and print out the quantity of each fabric needed for the quilt. There are many more features in EQ7 that I haven't discovered yet, but I will figure it all out eventually.