Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Getting the Hearts & Squares Quilt Ready to Quilt

The Hearts & Squares quilt is one I've been working on since the end of January. It was originally one of my February "goal" quilts and has been carried over from month to month as I just didn't find the time to finish it. The pattern is the cover quilt of the Leisure Arts publication, "Quilted Hearts & Flowers" by Cotton Pickin' Designs.

To see some earlier pictures of my piecing and applique progress on this quilt, click here.

Pressing the acres and acres of border fabric -- it took two lengths of the stripe to get the number of border pieces that I needed, so just under 6 yards...

Other than making sure that the printed stripes matched, I didn't do any intentional pattern matching of the fabric. Liked the way it came out, though!

Pieced the back out of all the leftover fabrics, and made an extra heart to put on the back for a label.

I know it's not a good thing, but I hardly ever take the time to put a label on my quilts, so having the extra heart sort of made me do it!

Spread out on the tables, ready to pin up. I would really like to get this quilted this week as Dan and I are taking a car trip to Sonoma to taste wine, see the sights, shop and eat good food! I like to do the binding handwork in the car to give my hands something to do on a long ride like that. Since the drive to Sonoma is about 7 hours, I should probably be able to get the stitching done on this 88" square quilt. Speaking of Napa, Sonoma and surrounds -- are there any great quilt shops that I absolutely should not miss?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cool Things My Friends Are Doing!

First of all, I want to apologize for my absence from the blog. I've been going through extensive dental work for the last two months, involving multiple extractions and implant preparations. While I have been drugged and happy, my productivity has totally sucked!

The good side of the equation, however, is that living on liquids and semi-solids has brought my weight down to what I consider my ideal, 128; the bad news is that I am really sick of yogurt, pudding, cottage cheese and soup, which seem to be the only things I can eat without pain. If anybody has any good food ideas, please share!

One of the things I did a couple of weeks ago was get together, for a second time, with my old quilting friends from the Santa Clarita guild. We met at Paula Fleischer's house, since she is just perfectly located for the rest of us, who are sort of spread out between Simi Valley, Burbank and Palmdale. Attending were Vicki Tymczyszyn (Vicki T), Paula Fleischer, Sam Hunter, me, and another member of the Santa Clarita guild, Adva Price, who has been invited to join us at these dinners from now on. If you missed our first dinner meeting, click here.

Of course, we had to have Show & Share:

One of the quilts that Vicki T. did this month -- love this pattern!

This was a challenge that Vicki participated in; all of the fabrics except the background were provided and she could add one additional fabric to the mix. We were trying to decide if these circles all looked like olives or ?

Sam brought a quilt all layered and ready to quilt....

...closeup of the cool little squares in the borders.

Another thing that Sam has been doing is making these beautiful hooded coats. The fabrics are sumptuous and she collects them everywhere before putting the coats together.

This red one fit me perfectly, but mine really needs to be purple, don't you think? She promised to look for purple fabric to make me one.

I think Sam plans to put these up for sale on a site like Etsy, so keep your eyes open if you want one. They are gorgeous and the pictures really don't do them justice!

Our group is going to meet again on May 1st -- maybe I'll even have something done by then to show!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Las Vegas Quilt Show -- Henderson NV

Last weekend, March 4-6, I demonstrated machine quilting in Downtown Sewing Machine Co.'s booth at the Las Vegas Quilt Show. Carrie, the energetic dynamo running the store, has a costume sewing background, so garment sewing is a big draw here. The line of cabinets and cutting tables from Unique Sewing Furniture was exhibited here as well as Pfaff sewing machines, Reliable irons and a lot of fun sewing notions and tools.

The booth was gorgeous, with all the furniture set up and a large screen TV showing clips about the store and portions of my machine quilting DVD, "Fluff & Stuff".

Look at that bright orange Reliable iron in the picture at the right -- loved the orange, but bought the blue one because it had a bigger steam tank -- both of them are guaranteed not to drip!

I'm sewing away on a Winnie the Pooh panel quilt, demonstrating machine quilting techniques using my Batt Scooters...

Closeup of my hands on the Scooters...

...and a smile for the camera...

There was a collection of miniature quilts displayed in the room where the Downtown Sewing Machine Co. booth was located:

This one was just fun! "Piggy Knows" by Wilhelmina Willis is a miniature log cabin using pig fabric (you could see little piggy noses here and there), accented with lace, buttons and bows. I wish the measurements had been on the description sheets, because both of these miniatures were very tiny, less than 2' in any dimension.

A one word description for the French Braid miniature would be "elegant" -- "Blue Mist" by Cher Chu is the result of her having made the larger size quilt and making the decision to shrink it down and make a second quilt.

I have more show pictures to post, so check back within the next day or so for those....

Shopping at the show
: I took along fabric for two quilts and got both of those cut in my hotel room in the evenings (big advantage of driving over flying -- I could take everything I wanted to!), but I had forgotten my Mary Ellen's Best Press, so purchased that from a booth at the show.

From the Downtown Sewing Machine Co. booth, I bought the blue Reliable iron, which hasn't arrived yet, so will let you know all about that when it gets here; and the TrueCut Rotary Blade Sharpener which extends the life of rotary blades without having to remove the blade from the cutter. I tried it out this week and found it to perform as advertised -- won't remove nicks, of course, but to sharpen up an undamaged blade, it worked beautifully!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Working on Many Things.....

When I start getting inquiries asking if I have dropped off the face of the earth, I know it's time to leave the sewing machine and get back to the computer! Here's some notes on what I've been working on; fortunately, I did use the camera throughout so I can show you that my time has not been misspent!

Most of February
was consumed by the machine quilting of two quilts, both of which were quite involved and took a lot of time.

Without giving away any spoilers, these pictures are of a quilt for Alex Anderson which will be featured in an upcoming issue of The Quilt Life.

Some detail quilting on the left and the pretty Sulky rayon #1117 Mauve used to stitch it.

The feather quilting was done with Pastel Peach #1017. The thread showed up beautifully on the white background fabric and really highlighted the quilting.

At left is the pale peach rayon top thread and the Mettler 100% cotton silk finish in #608 that I used in the bobbin throughout the quilt.

The cables in the border were quilted with Sulky rayon in Peach #1019.

The rest of February and a bit of early March were spent in front of my machine, quilting Dawna Harrison's Floral Visions quilt.

All safety pinned and ready to go....nine machine embroidered blocks plus the piecing that framed them. I hadn't worked on a machine embroidered quilt before and it is an interesting process working with the extra weight and definition. Learned a lot on the journey...

Each bit of embroidery was stitched just off the edge with clear monofilament thread. This defines the embroidery and provides the stitch density to help the quilt hang straight when it is finished.

The threads used for various parts of the quilt: I used Mettler 100% cotton Silk Finish thread in a soft white #887 in the bobbin throughout. For the feather work within the blocks, Sulky rayon Soft White #1002 worked well; the pink Isacord was supplied by Dawna for the cables and feathers in the border.

Two of the blocks; I used the same feather design in all of the blocks except the center.

The center block had embroidery "spilling out" into neighboring areas. After defining the embroidery, a feather wreath was stitched into the center block and then it was background stitched with a chevron design radiating from the center to the edges of the expanded block.

Here's a peek at the quilting on the back....Dawna showed the quilt in the Ridgecrest show last weekend and also had it appraised; we are waiting for the valuation. It took me 25 hours to do the quilting on this.

Last week, I finally got back to my JAM projects for February that I never finished. The pink roses quilt is all pinned up and ready to quilt and here's a progress report on the Heart Squares quilt:

Top is pieced and appliqued except for the borders.

Here's a closeup of one of the appliqued blocks...

...and here are my chosen border fabrics. I'm going to make a border unit of a 2" finished inner border in the gold fabric and then the border stripe, which measures 8-3/8" finished. My goal is to get the borders on and mitered this weekend. Then I can pin this one along with a quilt that I want to get done for my friend Vicki Tymczyszyn, known to us spelling challenged individuals as Vicki T!

I'll keep you posted on those as well as sharing pictures from the Las Vegas Quilt Guild show that I attended last weekend....

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