Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday Morning's Fat Quarter Winner

(yeah, yeah, yeah, I still haven't figured out how to easily
 copy this into my posts, like normal people do)
Is Nancy, who is going to make something for her granddaughter (though she won on her 'follower' comment).  Congratulations Nancy, I've sent you an email to get your mailing info.
Don't despair....

What's that in the bottom right of that photo?  Hmm....could it be another pack of FQs?

My birthday's coming up soon...a good excuse as any for another giveaway. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bloggers' Quilt Festival - Meet Broken Records

So one day I'm catching up on the old Fons and Porter shows I dvr, and I come across this one where a circular embroidery attachment is used to sew decorative stitches onto squares of fabrics, which are then cut using a Drunkard's Path template. I was intrigued.

So I went out and bought myself some fabric, a circular embroidery attachment for my Bernina, and some slick shiny thread, and set to creating my own version of their 'Drunkard's Path With a Twist'.

Needless to say, it was not an easy undertaking. Nor was it something that was stitched quickly. Oh nosiree. Those decorative stitches take forever to lay down, and of course, I had to select some of the more stitch intense patterns. But eventually, the squares were done and ready for cutting.

I blogged quite a bit during the process of making this quilt, and I have to say, I was glad to see it done. And I also have to say that it will be a long, long time before I think about doing one of these again.

While I had grand designs for the machine quilting, it didn't exactly work out as I wanted, and those arcs of stitching that fill in the wedges or carry across the print, aren't the straightest pattern to stitch freehand, but it is what it is.

I probably ripped out more thread in quilting this than wound up in the finished quilt.

 This is one of those quilts that falls into the 'finished is way better than perfect' category, that's for sure.

It's called 'broken records' because in the interest of aging myself, once I stood back and looked at it on the design wall, I really felt those wedges looked like quartered LPs (for you youngers out there, I'm referring to vinyl...record albums---played with a needle on a turntable....pre-computer music...). Then again, I probably broke a lot of my own personal records for how long this took to finish, so we could also spin it's name in that direction.

At any rate, I'm already thinking about my next personal challenge, and it while it doesn't involve any decorative stitching, it does involve cutting thousands of pieces, all of which are 'circular'. Somebody stop me.

Enjoy the rest of the quilt show. There are some lovely quilts on all the blogs, and stop by Amy's blog and be sure to thank her for putting this little quilt show together.

And, if you're reading this on Saturday night....Mick Jagger's hosting SNL tonight. You know where I'll be.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fast Friday Fat Quarter Giveaway

Promised you a giveaway today, so here it is....

It's a little bundle of 5 FQs called Bella Citrus. I picked this up at Tuesday Morning last week. Loved the color combo..

Ivory, orange, lime and turquoise.  I'm thinking apron.....thread catchers...pin cushions....shopping bags. Or they'd pop nicely in an ivory quilt top.

Before I grab that bottle of wine and head out to Happy Hour with my girls from the 'hood, let me give you multiple ways to win. Use one, or use them all. Each one will get you one chance in the drawing.

1.  Leave a comment on this post, and tell me what you'd do with these if you win them.
2.  Be a follower of my blog
3.  Mention this giveaway on your own blog (and include a link to this giveaway post).

I need a way to contact you if you win, so be sure that you've given me your email address if your comments aren't linkable. I don't care where you live, anyone can win.

Good luck, we'll draw for this Tuesday morning (do you note the irony in the drawing date?)

And check back tomorrow (or later tonight) to check out my entry in the Bloggers' Quilt Festival. I forgot to post my 'linky' to that on Amy's site earlier today, but it will have to wait as I can hear someone 'wining' for me out front. (Hold  your Shiraz, I'll be right out!)

Gotta run....later alligator.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Just North of Baltimore

So, this is how we left Baltimore. Mr. Squirrel got a perch, the fall wreath got a ribbon. The rosebud wreath is going to get a bigger dimensional flower, and there are 3 new blocks that I think I'm satisfied with.

Maybe not the dimensional flower I stuck in the center of that bouquet.

A new tree to replace the berry tree that I thought was out of proportion.

And another bunch of posies to balance the first.

Progress....Squirrel got a perch, a new tail, and a little leaf rearrangement. Fall  wreath got a ribbon, and the actual tree has been appliqued, leaving just the leaves and the birds to finish that one up. Looking goo d. If I can keep up the momentum I'll at least have all the blocks ready for my last class on June 6th. If I were Superwoman on Amphetamines, I'd also have all of the setting blocks appliqued.

Baby steps....one block at a time. I'll likely have a couple of doctor appointments next week, so I should make some good progress sewing in waiting rooms.

Yes, I did finish up the 1st part of the Vintage Rouge BOM project. It's a good feeling to have the homework ready for the next class the night after the first.

And then, as another distraction and excuse to avoid the Baltimore, the Merry Mayhem MAQ mystery clue was released on the 15th, and by the end of the night, I'd completed that work as well.

Here's how they look with the blocks from the previous clue.

Check back tomorrow to get in on the giveaway I promised a couple of posts ago. I'm off to hopefully finish a Baltimore block (for lack of a 'better' quick turn project).

Monday, May 14, 2012

Vintage Rouge BOM - Using Strip Its

This is my latest distraction.....it's Bloom Creek's Vintage Rouge BOM. I saw this quilt advertised in a flyer by one of my LQS, and HAD to sign up. I NEED a Christmas quilt. And this one was irresistibly stunning. Everyone should make this quilt. It's not as complicated as it looks. All those half square triangles are cut from a single fabric, as are the blades on the Dresden's that look to be two fabrics.

The trick is in the fabric. One of the Marcus Brothers' fabrics in this line is called 'Strip Its'.

The fabric is preprinted with 2.5" strips. For the HSTs,you decide which two strips you'd like to use and cut the strip pairs.

Lining up the angle on my little 4" Nifty Notions ruler with the faux 'seam' on the fabric, I trimmed the strip set to a point.

Then keeping the diagonal line of the ruler on the center 'seam', I aligned the two top edges of the fabric with the 2.5" square markings on the ruler and cut out a 2.5" square

Which turns out to be a perfect HST. No sewing necessary.

To cut another just center the diagonal on the ruler with the center seam again, the point at the top, lop off those irregular triangular shapes, and start over. Sure, there's going to be some waste, but the kit allows for this, and I don't know about you, but I'd much rather toss a few scraps to save me an hour or so of stitching and pressing.

What I'm working on with the first block kit are the 4 blocks in the center of the quilt. For you 'purists', it's not all that obvious that there's no seams, and someone in my class suggested that you could easily machine quilt a 'seam' down the center and no one would be the wiser.

I hope to finish my 4 blocks tonight (I did all the cutting last night), so check back for the results. It's great to finish the homework a few days after the class, but it sucks that the next class isn't for a month :(.

Hope your week is off to a great start!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Spiraling Out of Control - Obsessions With Baltimore

Okay, so Sunday started out on a high note. While I didn't actually do a block or the homework for Mimi's class, I did embroider the little trailers on the grapevine block.

And that made me feel like I had accomplished something. But the warm fuzzy feelings didn't last.

And before long, the studio turned into Chaos.

Chaos, with a capital C....that spread to the cutting table. You may see a minor mess here, but I see a house from Hoarders. I am not a fan of disarray.

And this, my friends, is the cause of the upheaval. I put the design wall up again and laid out the blocks that were mostly finished (aside from adding a ribbon to the Fall wreath). We've got 4 papercuts in the corners...okay. Top and bottom center are laurel wreath (open) shaped...good. Side center blocks are round...balance...check. The center is the problem.

I've already scrapped the original plans for those blocks (and learned a lot about how to get pencil out of fabric--see previous post). The plan after that was to make two vases with a basket in the center.

Then that evolved to two baskets with an undecided center.

And then I thought what if I used an elaborately pieced (think Mariner's Compass) block for the center, or some kind of star block....or maybe a star block out of a single fabric with some more piecing around it, also out of the same fabric, which happens to be the fabric that will be used for the fleur de lis on the setting triangles and the applique around the border?

And that was too much thinking because it triggered my deeply buried borderline OCD.

I sat and stared, and I decided that....

This squirrel looks stupid. He's just floating in the air in the center of the block. Yes, it's the design, but really, unless this is David Squirrel Blaine, it is going to bother me. Almost as much as his ultrasuede tail bothers me. Okay, okay,  I can replace the tail but what if....

I added in a little branch for him to perch on. BRILLIANT IDEA!  For about 20 minutes. Which is how long it took to search through fabric, and scraps and drawers (hence the photos above), only to find that I do not have any of the fabric left that I used for the blueberry bush. SERIOUSLY? What on earth would possess me to throw away whatever scraps there might have been? (Probably some random third martini was the likely culprit, one likely being drank while an episode of Hoarders droned on for noise in the background). What can I say? 'Shit!',' Fuck!', 'Crap!', 'Idiot!', 'What's Wrong With You?', 'Shoot Me Now!', 'Piss Me Off!'...they all crossed my lips, some more times than others, but none of them made a tiny scrap of that fabric reappear.

Not even the string bin would yield a tiny little piece of that fabric to use as a perch. Sigh.

Now I know what you're thinking. A normal person would just use another fabric, maybe even a brown fabric. Who will even notice? Let me remind you that I am not a normal person, and I would notice.

So it's starting to look like Mr. Squirrel is going to have to become part of the quilt back, and along with him goes...

"Birds in the tree where the leaves are way smaller than any other leaf in the quilt, whose berries are ultrasuede (who wanted to make all those circles?), and who just seemed so dainty and out of proportion for this quilt that even planting that strange tree in a basket to give it some heft, did not help" block. And let's not forget that the birds in that tree are about a third of the size of the bird used on another block.

So, suddenly, instead of needing only 3 blocks for this quilt, we now need 5. One step forward, two steps back. Yep, that would make a good name for this quilt. Write that down.

I walked away....for two nights. And now I'm looking at it and thinking that gee, I really do like the squirrel block, and I could make a different tree block that fits better, but there's still the issue of that damn branch.

So while I'm typing this blog entry, I flip through my Mimi class notebook and look what I found....

HOLY CRAP! I used that fabric on one of the class samples. I think there's enough (there HAS TO BE) to piece together a branch for Mr. Squirrel to perch on. So all is not lost. Once again, OCD prevails--and actually turns out to be helpful.

One step forward! YAY!

Now, I need to clean up this mess so I can get to work and fix that block.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Who Nose Best?

Clearly, not me. The trouble began when a litle roughhousing with Tucker went wrong. He's got claws like a cat and sharp little teeth to match.

And he seriously needs to grow into his legs and ears. Right now he looks like a little fawn.....a snaggle-toothed fawn with a taste for blood. (I will not be taking him to see Dark Shadows next week.)

Injuries aside, it's been a week for finishes. Anxious to get started with my new indigo Sashiko projects, I had to finish up the non-indigo Sashikos that I've been carting around for the past two years.

These two were finished by Thursday. They will likely become pillows, though I can't say for sure. For now they hang in the studio closet with the one I completed (below) when I first boarded the Sashiko train two years back. At some point I am sure inspiration shall strike.

I've got a class with Mimi Dietrich on Sunday and yet another month has passed with no Baltimore progress. What's been holding me back was trying to remove the pencil outlines from the last 3 blocks that I thought I had wanted to do, but changed my mind when the other 10 blocks hit the design wall.

I tried the old standard applique recipe for removing pencil....mix water, rubbing alcohol, and a drop or two of dish soap and apply with a toothbrush. I scrubbed one block for about 30 minutes with that darn toothbrush and all it did was fade the pencil a bit, but not enough to make it invisible.

Not sure of how much fabric I would have left over after making the borders and setting triangles, you can understand that I just didn't want to cut three new blocks...what if it left me short? I had to remove the pencil.

So I set about 'sperimenting in the lab (formerly known as the guest bathroom). Do you not love the raspberry walls?

The highly flammable 'Goof Off' intimidated me. It's been a warm day, and pretty hot upstairs, I didn't want the shower curtain to combust, so I slide that one into the 'desperation' pile.

The Grandma's Spot Remover did remove the pencil, but it took a lot of brushing, and that teeny tiny bottle you see there sells for a whopping $3.99. Figuring I'd probably have to run out and buy 2 more of them, I voted that not the most economical solution, and it joined the Goof Off..

Then I squirted a little hand soap (because I forgot to bring up dish soap or liquid laundry soap) on the toothbrush and brushed it on the pencil of one block. After that I dipped the toothbrush in the big bottle of ammonia and went to work with the brush creating a chemical reaction I hoped would evaporate the pencil. Eureka! The pencil disappeared with a light brushing, BUT I've got to say I was starting to feel a little light-headed from the ammonia fumes and wasn't sure I could make it through 2 more blocks without passing out and cracking my head open on the marble vanity. I've already got Saturday morning booked for 'blood removal from carpet in family room' (thank you Tucker), so I really didn't want to add additional chores.

I happened upon this solid Resolve stain stick in the grocery store today, while looking for the elusive bar of Fells Naphtha soap that supposedly removed pencil. (I gave up the quest after two grocery chains had no clue what I was talking about). Anyway, I was enjoying that this stain stick looks EXACTLY like a deodorant--added bonus of providing hours of  pranking fun if it didn't pan out in the stain removal department--so I grabbed one. It glided on that block like butter, and I started brushing....the pencil disappeared almost effortlessly. Hooray!  I probably could have just tossed the pretreated blocks in the washer and skipped the brushing, but I didn't want them to fray any further than they had after I washed them the last time, so I brushed them all and hand washed. Done!

So now I've got no excuses...tomorrow I must pull together something Baltimore for Sunday's class. I skipped another weekend at the beach with the ladies for this (she says, vying for sainthood/martyrdom) .

But first....a celebration was in order...Blue Moon (or three) with an orange slice, and catching up on the Merry Mayhem mystery quilt I had yet to begin. Part 5 of 7 just released,so  it seemed like a good project to tackle.

And WAH-LA, we are all caught up.

I'll spend the rest of the night prepping the next Aurifil Designer series block. It's a cute one. Almost as cute as last month's, but not quite. Look for that to post early next week. After that, it's time for a tutorial and a giveaway to finish out the week.

Something big gets underway next Saturday (did someone say English Paper Piecing?--stay tuned!).

Have a great Saturday! Whatever you do, make it fun! (And keep your face away from tiny dogs with razor sharp teeth and cat-like claws.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

2 More OPAM Finishes for April

It was quite the prolific month, April was. In addition to what I had already completed (amazing myself), I was able to finish up my wool applique banner for May, and monogram a half dozen dinner napkins.

Last Friday I got over my fear of machine embroidery (any excuse for an afternoon off work). And I took a class at my dearly beloved Bernina dealer who closed his doors forever yesterday.

So, I'm tooling around with one color and loving it. My thread breaks, I deal with it. I'm sizing, I'm positioning.

Heck, I'm even changing thread color. I left that class all 'I don't understand what my problem was....this was SO EASY! What took me 2 years to embrace this concept?'

And then I came home after working all day at the quilt show to embroider the quick half dozen napkins, and it took FIVE HOURS!. Software gave me fits, I uploaded a patch, which seemed to screw things up even worse so I had to delete the programs and reload them, and while it works, it's not quite the same sequence of commands I learned in class (unless all that weed I smoked in high school really did wipe out my short term memory and I just don't remember what we did in class).

The girl who thought she had EVERY type of stabilizer known to man, did not have a medium weight tear-away, other than one that was sticky back, so I wound up using a teeny, tiny hoop with this sticky crap and gummed up my needle to the point that my thread was breaking getting caught up in the glue on the needle (that is if the CHEAP crap thread I bought in Houston 3 years ago wasn't first breaking through the tension disks). Whatever. 6 napkins, done! And now thread and stabilizer are on my shopping list in my iPhone.

Anyone who knows me knows that I cannot attend a quilt show without heartily supporting the vendors at said show. While I haven't finished the last Sashiko kits I purchased from this vendor in years past, she had indigo Sashiko this year so I couldn't resist picking up some handwork.

And I thought the woven Japanese fabric with the parasols all over would be perfect backing for any little Sashiko pillows I might whip up.

And how could I resist the half yard cuts of Japanese Hanamomen fabric....not technically indigo, but the look without the bleed and fade. I love, love, love (hoard, hoard, hoard) real Japanese fabric. And now that I've decided to use up the South African indigo fabric I was collecting/hoarding, I need to start over with something comparable.

There's nothing I like better than a blue and white quilt (other than a red and white quilt).

Oh, and they were selling little sets of 4x6 screen printed quilt blocks from old postcards. I just couldn't resist the 1907 Scary Santas set. Not sure what I'll do with them yet, but I'm sure I'll think of something. (wink wink)

Our Guild's quilt show was this weekend. Yep, the one I busted my butt finishing quilts for. As I suspected, the Bloomin' Challenge quilt gained no recognition (and never in a million years did I expect that it would). Criminally, neither did the beautiful applique and beaded quilt I saw prior to finishing mine....you remember, the one that made me want to just chuck everything I had done into the dustbin. While the winners of this challenge were nice little quilts, they weren't stellar...just generic little quilts...not something you could describe in a conversation the next day (unlike this beaded beauty).  I've pretty much concluded that judging in this contest has somewhat of a political skew to it. When I mentioned this to a fellow guild member, they laughed and congratulated me on figuring that out so quickly (my second challenge). Do you think she was being sarcastic?

Like I said, my challenge quilt was a learning experience....I learned to do piping, foundation piecing, string, piano keys, pouncing, thread painting, and most importantly 'how to recognize when one is wasting their time'. Shoot me next year if I so much as mention participating in this again :)

I spent the rest of the weekend at the show feeling sorry for myself not winning any of the very nice raffle baskets, filled to the brim with tasty quilting treats, that were raffled off every hour. The basket of all baskets is the second to the last basket raffled on the last day...it is the coveted VENDOR'S BASKET. This is where all the vendors at the show pony up merchandise to stuff a basket with. It's also the basket where people drop in an entire strip of 30 tickets, instead of just one or two.

Now there are some ladies in this guild that are simply blessed. These are the ladies that win a door prize at every meeting....the ones that win one raffle basket the first day, THREE raffle baskets the second day.....(it's legit, I worked the booth for a few hours each day--I want to take these women to the 7-11 and have them buy lottery tickets for me). Their name is drawn and everyone GROANS! Usually it's one of these ladies that wins the vendor basket.

Well this year, I dropped 20 tickets into that drawing, and sat on the edge of my seat while the name was drawn. And.....it wasn't me. BUT it was the lady I was working the Silent Auction with....the outgoing Guild President who hadn't won anything, so it was nice. And it was also nice to be sitting so close to someone lucky.

So we shut down the auction and I ran in the back to grab a drink and a bathroom break before we had to start on show teardown. While I'm in the bathroom I can hear them announce the name of the person who won the Featherweight sewing machine (we give one away each year). I never put my name in that drawing because I can't stand the Grandma's Attic smell of that machine and the mildewy case it's been stored in for more than half a century. Cute as they are, I do not want my studio smelling like Grandpa and Grandma Yeskulsky's house.

I'm washing my hands and I can hear a commotion outside in the hospitality area and someone says my name. I walk out of the bathroom and say 'watch what you say about Susan', and someone shrieks 'OMG, you won the Raffle Quilt!!! Get out there, hurry.'

Like most guilds, our guild makes a bed size quilt each year. The members take home block kits and complete blocks and a couple members put it together and send it off to another member who does the long arm quilting on it. The quilt then begins travelling in the fall to other Guilds and shows in the area and raffle tickets are sold. It's called an 'Opportunity Quilt'. A percentage of the proceeds go to charity (most guilds are nonprofit), the rest goes to programs and the materials to create the quilt for the next year.  When the quilt is done, every member is given 2 packs of tickets that they are expected to sell (as a minimum). When I get mine, I just write a check for the cost of the tickets, put my name on the back of the stubs (because the seller of the winning ticket gets a prize), and turn the tickets and my check in....usually on the same night they handed me the tickets.

It's sort of unusual that a Guild member would win the quilt, seeing that thousands of tickets are sold all over (last year's winner lived in South Carolina...I guess the winning ticket was sold at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show down in Hampton), so everyone was very excited that I won (well, not I, but I being a Guild member).

So here is my prize. It is called Symphony in Blues and it's a king size quilt. It has been beautifully machine quilted, and it's quite heavy. Not exactly sure where it's going yet, but right now, it's piled into a chair in the family room where I can ooh and ah over the quilting on it, and hope that one day my luck will extend to having my very own long arm.

So, I was lucky to win the quilt on Sunday (and let's not forget, that I also sold the winning ticket...double bonus!). And I was lucky to find something I desperately needed yesterday that was out of stock locally, but that I picked up elsewhere today. And I was lucky to get something from Bernina today that no one thought would come in. (more on that in another post--this one is already long enough). So now I'm wondering how much the PowerBall drawing is tomorrow.   Ya think???????

Okay, there's a Mystery Quilt calling my name and it's only 8:40....off to work!

Sweet dreams!