Friday, January 28, 2011

International Mystery Quilt of the Month -- Bolts in the Bathtub, Lancaster CA

Yesterday was our January meeting for the International Mystery Quilt of the Month at my local quilt store, Bolts in the Bathtub. We chatted, ate snacks and sewed strips all afternoon in a choice of two colorways, blue or jewel tones. I'll show you what everybody did when they bring them back next month.....

Here are the pictures of works -- both in progress and finished -- from past months:

A log cabin before borders in the black/white colorway....Dawna's feet sticking out....

Log cabin, complete with borders, in the red/green colorway....

Lori used a striped Christmas fabric in the borders and machine embroidered a different holiday motif in each of the four corners.

At right is a close-up of the embroidered angel in one corner...

Yellow/blue colorway; I bought the black/white, but missed the meeting and haven't done anything on it yet.

Last month was Indonesia and beach hut blocks...

here are a couple in the blue colorway...

...and a third with a really unusual set!

The other colorway was tropical brights; Cheryl got hers finished -- she's a fairly new quilter and really prolific!

Here's another one with an interesting sashing and border variation -- I really like the color change...

The dark inner border and the striped fabric really set off the little houses -- and look at those mitered corners!

Mary substituted a different fabric for the roofs of her huts so that they looked like thatched roofs...

And she embroidered little flip-flops on some of the huts -- cute!!

The Lasagna colorway of the Italy quilt with a vegetable border, natch!

Some other quilts were shown that weren't part of the mystery, but we all want to see quilts, right?

I know Liz and Lori each made this quilt because I was in the store one day when they were working on them and had the blocks on the wall, but I don't remember which of them brought it yesterday. This was a kit of flannel fabrics; the pattern is "Winter Pinwheels" by Tiffany Hayes of Needle in A Hayes Stack. When I saw it, the borders weren't on -- I really like the butterflies and, of course, the stripes in the border which make such a great frame.

Love all the great colors!

This is the Moda University BOM quilt that Dawna has been working on -- baskets are her absolute fave, so she had a lot of fun piecing this top! She still has borders to put on, but all the blocks are pieced and together.

Next post, I'll show you the stuff I've been working on this week.....

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Really Wasn't Going to Buy Even One Thing! Cameron Park CA

We've all had days where we've wandered into a quilt shop and had absolutely no intention of buying anything, because: 1) We already have enough fabric at home to make more than seventeen lifetimes worth of quilts; 2) We're really not in the "fabric collecting" stage of any particular quilt idea; 3) We're just not in the shopping mood or 4) Any other reason that you can come up with or any combination thereof.

So that's pretty much where I was this past weekend in the Folsom/Placerville area of northern California. My sister and I already had gone to Babies 'R' Us to buy a birthday present for her grandson, and DSW so that I could score a couple of pair of shoes, so now it was time to go to the quilt stores....

We went to two, both of which I have been to before (and wasn't able to resist buying goodies then, either). One of them was High Sierra Quilters, located at 3450-8 Palmer Drive in Cameron Park (phone: 530-677-9990).

Found sale fabric -- the pink/brown print will stretch out the leftovers from the Puzzle Box quilt; had to give the first one to the baby I made it for, but liked the quilt so much I'll make another. For pictures of the original quilt and how I quilted it, click here.

Found a book, 9-Patch Pizzazz by Judy Sisneros, that had some great ideas for using purchased fabric panels in quilts. She uses all 9 patches as fillers, but I think some of the placement ideas are good jumping off points for more complex designs.

The plastic project bags in the upper left hand corner of the photo were all over the shop, filled with kits for sale. They did have some empty ones, though, and I think they will be perfect for carrying around some of my UFOs.

Here's a close-up of that other pretty pink fabric I found on sale. Tiny gold flowers and polka dots and pink -- what could be better? One of those fabrics was $4 per yard and the other was $5 per yard.

We also visited Shared Stitches; there's a previous blog post on this shop with lots of pictures and contact info. To see that post, click here.

I had paid for a book and a handful of patterns and wasn't going to buy any fabric at all -- until I saw the sale rack outside the store as we were leaving. This Christmas fabric has a mottled pink and white background with that cool branchey kind of print and was 50% off.

But even better were these three fabrics that were 75% off for Halloween! Not traditional Halloween colors, but......

.....if you look really close, you can see tiny witches on brooms, stars, pumpkins and BATS!

I will be able to sneak a little Halloween into lots of quilts without anybody ever noticing -- LOVE THAT! These fabrics were a major score!!!

The book and patterns I had originally bought before I discovered the above treasure trove of fabric....

So, I guess now you know how good my intentions were and how long they lasted!

Working on the Poetic Blossoms Panel Quilt (Part 2)

Over the weekend, I shared on facebook that I had bound the Poetic Blossoms quilt, so thought I had probably better pick up where I left off on the quilting.....

Each of the four corner blocks was a picture of a flower cut from the Poetic Blossoms panel. It was cut to the same size as the other blocks, but had a printed frame around the flower. I straight stitched the printed frame and then chose a border stencil to go in the outer area around it. This stencil was purchased from JD Stencils at a quilt show and is #211.1 (the .1 means it is 1" wide).

This is what it looked like stitched in the pastel rayon that I used for the other block stitching. If this is the first post you have looked at while I've been working on this quilt, you can catch up here.

These are the border stencils; the narrower one is available at The Stencil Company.

The wider stencil was not marked as far as manufacturer, a pet peeve of mine. How can I tell you where to buy something if I don't know where I got it?

These are the three threads used in the borders; since the inner border is half green and half red, I used green #903 and red #770, both Mettler 100% cotton silk finish 50 wt threads. The rayon in the border is Sulky #1209, Light Avocado.

And here it is, all finished -- hooray! The binding is the same green fabric as the inner border. I was surprised at how well it went with the pillows I made in 1994 from P&B's Virginia Wheeling line of fabrics. It just shows that if you wait long enough, those colors do come back!

I've done all the straight stitching on the quilt I'm working on for Alex; if you didn't see my sneak peak, click here and scroll to the bottom of the post. Can't show you details as it is for The Quilt Life magazine and we don't want to spoil the surprise....

Above is the third quilt that I pinned that day -- I guess I should have named that post "Work Plan for the Month", rather than "Work Plan for the Week!" -- and I am freehand quilting this one with the "flower power" flowers that I teach in my free motion classes. They will be varying sizes and will cover the whole pieced area of the quilt. Since this quilt will be given to my granddaughter Zoe for her 5th birthday, washability is important. The thread is a beautiful bright corally-pink from Mettler, #805; it's the 100% cotton silk finish that I use so often and will withstand years of washing.

Next post: Two quilt shops in Cameron Park and how well my "not buying anything" plan worked out....

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Filming a Video in Jammies -- and a Batt Scooters Store Availability List

So this morning was fun -- I got to tape a video for YouTube and didn't even have to get dressed, do makeup or comb my hair! Just got up, read the paper, had a mimosa with my breakfast and then off to the sewing room to do a short instructional video to demonstrate how to use my Batt Scooters machine quilting tool. Preparation time is really at a minumum when the camera is just looking at your hands!

Dan has a link to the video on my website -- to see it, click here.

How this all came about is that the Batt Scooters are reviewed in the February/March issue of Quilter's Home magazine, which should be on newsstands January 25. I also decided to place an ad in the magazine; it's on the inside back cover. It was one of those things that you look back on and say, "Why in the world did I print that?", but in the ad, it says "For a video tutorial on how to use Batt Scooters..."

So we got it on the website this morning, with days to spare.....

Within a couple of minutes, we got questions asking where Batt Scooters could be found, so here is a list of stores, alphabetically by state, where you can purchase them:

The Quilt Basket, Tucson AZ

Wooden Gate Quilts, Danville CA
The Cotton Patch, Lafayette CA
Bolts in the Bathtub, Lancaster CA
Quilt 'n' Home, Ridgecrest CA

Shiisa Quilts, Bloomington IN

The Quilt Patch, Bedford NH

Bernina Sewing & Design, Las Cruces NM

Sew Original, Winston-Salem NC

Creative Sewing & Design, Provo UT
Nuttall's Sewing Centers, Salt Lake City UT

Pamella's Place, Genesee Depot WI

I'll also try to keep a running list on the website of stores that carry these.

I'm a big supporter of quilt stores and all that they do to make our passion more fun! So I will always send you to your quilt shop first and then, if you can't find the Batt Scooters that way, they are available on my website,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Working on the Poetic Blossoms Panel Quilt

A burst of energy fell on me Sunday afternoon, so I did all of the straight stitching on the Poetic Blossoms panel quilt and decided on the stencil that I was going to use for the blocks. Choosing a design was interesting in that, even though they are the same size, I had decided to quilt the panel blocks in the four corners of the quilt differently than the blocks that were just cut from fabric. Ultimately, that made the design choice pretty easy.

This stencil is #HH2 from QCI, Inc,, who conveniently printed their website URL on the stencil label. It is pretty aggravating when I use a stencil for a project and then can't give people the source if they want to duplicate my results. To go to the QCI website, click here.

I chose this one because it is what I call a "two path" design, meaning that there are two continuous designs that are stitched separately. In this particular stencil, there is an inner path and an outer.

Each of the four blocks cut from the printed panel fabric featured a large flower with a frame around it. Looking at the panel block above, I did straight stitching around that inner flower area, so that I can do my stencil design inside the black line where the flower is and then a separate narrow border design outside that black line.

Here is the panel block with just the inner path of the stencil stitched; after that, I can add a narrow border design in the 2" area around the flower to differentiate the panel blocks from the "plain" blocks that were cut from the coordinated printed fabric.

The printed fabric blocks have the whole design quilted into them, both the inner and outer paths. I did a few of the blocks on Monday and then spent Tuesday running errands and doing things around the house. Today I got back to work on quilting the blocks.

Marking was challenging; there are both light and dark areas in each of the printed blocks. Blue water soluble marker is used for almost all of the block at left....

...then the markings were "touched up" with white chalk so that I could see the markings in the dark areas.

For the white chalk, I used the Ultimate Pounce Pad, which is pretty amazing -- you just swipe the applicator over your stencil and it doesn't smear, fade or disappear in any other way until you want it to. Then you have your choice of either washing the quilt to get rid of the chalk or, if you aren't planning to wash it, you can iron it off with a medium hot iron. Pretty spiffy!

Okay, back to work -- my plan is to get all the blocks quilted today so that I can start marking the border...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Work Plan for the Week

Happiness is having a stack of quilts, all pinned and ready to go! Before Dawn Sammons moved to Nevada, she used to work part time for me. She would press quilt tops, clip the stray threads, layer them with batting and backing, and pin them all together so that when I was ready to quilt, all I had to do was grab one off the stack. Oh, boy -- do I miss her! Especially on a day like yesterday, where I pinned three --none of them were huge, though, so I should just quit whining!

"Poetic Blossoms" is the first one up. I just wound bobbins with Invisifil, a very fine 100 wt. poly from the WonderFil company in Canada. The cone above is color #464, which is kind of a greenish gold; it blends perfectly with all of the colors of my backing fabrics.

For the ditch stitching, I will use the clear monofilament from SewArt
. This thread is relatively new to me and I really like the matte finish; it seems to be less conspicuous than the shinier monofilaments in the finished quilt. For the decorative stitching in the main part of the quilt, my choice is the Sulky variegated rayon pictured on the left, color #2202, Mint Greens/Pinks. Machine top tension for both threads will be set at 3.25; this setting will be appropriate for most machines with a 4.0 auto setting.

Once I get the body of the quilt done, I can decide if I want to keep the same thread in the top of the machine for the border or, most likely, switch to another. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

50th Anniversary Quilt by Paula Fleischer

Paula asked me to have this ready for her last summer (another reason why I don't take in a lot of tops to quilt for people -- my turnaround time is horrendous!), but this was such an unusual quilt, it took a lot of thought for me to get it done. Most of the quilting was done last fall, but then I was totally stumped on how to quilt the background and border.

My original thought was to freehand leaves in the "tree" portion of the quilt -- that was the easy part......

For the back, I chose Mettler 100% Cotton Silk Finish thread in color 749....

This is the finished quilt -- because a tree must have a strong root system, I used a lightweight rusty brown thread to give the texture that I wanted in the bottom area of the quilt. The reason for the lightweight thread was that I wanted to emphasize Paula's hand embroidery; a heavier weight thread would have called more attention to itself.

Sepia photo transfers of family members were appliqued to the quilt; at left is what it looked like before quilting...

...and now, after quilting around and in the leaves and adding additional quilted leaves to the tree.

More leaves and some background stitching; I did go with my original sashiko "cloud" idea. Determining the size of the clouds took up a lot of thinking time. The stencil had three sizes of the same cloud pattern; the label says "Overall Pattern #W1007" and it is from StenSource International. The leaves were stitched in a really pretty Sulky rayon, #1209 Light Avocado.

I quilted a little bit inside each of the three birds on the quilt, straight stitched on both sides of the inner border and completed the quilting with a cable variation in the outer border. The cable that I used was from The Stencil Company, #SCO-014-2.5. For both the border and the sashiko background, I used Sulky rayon #1203, Light Weathered Blue.

I have always loved Paula's imagination
and her ability to make stunning art pieces utilizing her applique and embroidery skills. I had lunch with her a couple of months ago and took some pictures of quilts she had finished and works in progress. Another post.....

It's a Pinning Day....

When I joined five quilting friends on January 31 for our very first JAM meeting (Just Another Monday), we each brought a couple of projects that we wanted to finish. It started out with the premise that since each of us owned a lot of kits, we would pledge to dive into our fabric closets, get one out and cut, piece, quilt and finish it by our next meeting on January 31.

This was the kit that I chose -- "Poetic Blossoms". The pattern was by Janice Smith using the Poetic Blossoms line of fabric designed by Lisa Audit for Wilmington Prints. So here's the finished top, with only one change from the kit. Since I tend to swap out fabrics and change pattern details, this is pretty good compliance for me!

The only changes that I made concerned the border: The mid-scale medium green print pictured at the left was included with the kit to cut a 5-1/2" border. I wasn't crazy about that print and my local shop, Bolts in the Bathtub, had the line of fabric in stock, so I chose the more dramatic print on the right for my border and cut it 6-1/2" wide to show off the larger scale. This quilt measures 58-1/2" wide by 69" long.

Here's a closeup of the border.....

Along with the border fabric that I didn't use, leftover pieces of fabric from the quilt went on the back...

...there were some interesting pieces of a border print and some other things -- couldn't throw them away!

Second on my pile of quilts to be pinned today is one of the International Mystery Quilts of the Month, a fun thing that I'm doing at Bolts. Not teaching, just sewing -- that can be a lot of fun, too! This quilt represents Italy on our world tour and the pink/green/cream/brown colorway was called "Spumoni". It measures 46-1/4" x 68-3/4" and will be a perfect cuddle quilt for my youngest granddaughter, Zoe, who will be 5 in June.

Nobody loves sweets more than Zoe, so this border fabric was just perfect!

Again, leftover blocks as well as chunks of fabrics used in the quilt went on the back. I don't like having a lot of scraps laying around, so I have been trying to use all up of the fabrics on the back
of my quilts. Once the back is constructed, if the leftover pieces of fabric are at least 1/2 yard, I put them back on the shelf. Anything smaller gets cut into 2-1/2" strips and thrown into either a light, medium or dark strip bucket. That way I have a really good selection when I feel like piecing again.

The last quilt I'm pinning up today is for Alex Anderson -- as usual, I don't get to show the whole quilt, but I can do sneak peeks.....

This is the backing -- way colorful! I'm liking this a lot!

Just a peek at a corner ------oh, what the heck ----

Here's the whole thing!

Another good thing I did this week
was to finish an anniversary quilt that my friend Paula Fleischer made for her parents 50th. I took detailed pictures of her excellent and imaginative applique and photo transfer work and the quilting that I did to bring it out. I'll do a separate post on this very cool quilt!

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