Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Going to the Fair

I love the 4-H fair in our town.  I am not a farmer and I actually never lived in a place that had 4-H clubs when I was the right age to participate.  We do live in the country and I love watching the crops grow in the fields around our house.

So, the middle of the summer is marked by the 4-H fair.  There's no midway, but they do have tractor/truck pulls and demolition derbys that everyone loves to go to.  They have the animals on display in the barns and all the projects the kids have made to enter in the fair.  The winners in each category get to go to the State Fair, which is another big deal around here.

My kids don't do much with 4-H but they love the fair.  And the food is fantastic!

For the past two years, I and some of the ladies from my quilt club have demonstrated hand quilting on a frame in the Agricultural Museum on the fairgrounds.  The blocks were made and donated by the quilters in our local quilt club.  Another member put the quilt together and we set up the frame in the museum. 

Anyone who came by and wanted to put some stitches was welcome to do so.  Altogether, I'd guess that 50 or more people had something to do with putting this quilt together.  Because we did most of the quilting only at the fair, it took us a while to finish it.  But finally, it is done.

This shows the quilting on the back.  Sorry it's not the greatest picture.

This past week, on the last day of the fair, they auctioned off the quilt and the proceeds went to support the museum.  We were happy to get $475 from our labor of community love.  I had a fabulous time working on the quilt and now I can't wait to start another.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Finding Friends

Yesterday, I had to work.  It was a crazy day, but the best part of my day was making a new quilting friend.  I had mentioned to one of my patients that I like quilting and when her cousin, Linda, came to visit, she called me in.  Linda had brought a table runner she had finished to show her cousin, so I got to see that.  And Linda, like any good quilter, also had a packet of quilt pictures from some shops and shows she had recently attended.

As I was leaving, Linda and I sat down and had a chat.  She's from out of town, so I shared my favorite quilt shops from the area.  We talked about the projects we are each working on and that we both love hand applique.  Of course, I mentioned my blog, because that's where I share my projects and such.

There was an instant bond between us.  Linda, if you're reading this, our chat was the bright spot in my day.  It felt as though we had been friends forever.  I loved seeing the pictures and the projects.  Your personality is as bright and warm as the colors in your quilts!

This why I blog, too.  It's about sharing our passion for quilts and the joy of making something beautiful with our own hands.  Aren't we lucky to have these golden opportunities to share what we love?

Linda, I found a picture of a quilt from the NQA show in Columbus, Ohio, to share with you because we both love hand applique.

I hope you all have a great quilting day today!


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Something I Finished the Other Day...

This is a tote bag I had been working on since last year.  I finished the piecing of the outside of the bag, but it wasn't the right season for the bag and I had other things I needed to do, so I didn't finish it then.  I came across it again the other day and thought I would finish it up.  It's the Victoria bag by Sue Spargo.  I have trouble sticking to patterns because I always want to make it my way.

Sue Spargo is well known for her wool applique patterns and she fearlessly combines all kinds of fabric in her projects.  So I used home decor fabrics along with the wools and cottons.  I had to improvise, too, because I didn't have enough length of the blue and yellow fabric.  So I added a few extra strips of the coordinating fabrics here and there.

Sue didn't call for quilting the bag in her instructions.  The lining had batting fused with it to provide the fluffiness.  But I actually made a quilt sandwich and quilted it with big stitch quilting and perle cotton, then made the lining separate.  I worried it might be too heavy, but it really isn't.

The inside, which I didn't photograph (what was I thinking?), has a patchwork pieced big pocket to hold stuff I don't want to lose in the bottom of the bag.

The top edge of the bag has a binding around it, which is different from many patterns.  I must say I like the finished look of the bound edge.  The fabric I used looks like it is burlap but it is a soft home decor fabric, so it isn't rough to touch.

The back is supposed to be plain, but I couldn't leave it alone.  I added this strip to give continuity between the front and the back, using the tan square just to mix it up a bit.  Then I added the yo-yo's and quilted around them is red to add a little punch.  I love the empty quilted circles against the striped fabric.

The handle instructions called for long strips sewn with batting to be turned inside out.  It was a painful and tedious process to turn the long tubes inside out.  This is not a method I would choose to do again.

Do any of you have experience with turning tubes made with heavy material?  Do the FastTurn tubes work with heavy stuff?

When I am making things, I try to make choices that are "out of the box", but then when it all comes together, the choices don't seem so bizarre.  My original main fabric I thought I'd use was much more muted than the one I chose.  I thought the vivid blue and yellow paisley would be "wild".  When it all comes together, it makes sense and nothing really stands out as not matching or fitting in.  I like the "bohemian" feel about the bag and the fact that I got to use so many techniques--wool applique, embroidery, yo-yo's and quilting.

I got to use my new bag when I went to the NQA quilt show in Columbus, Ohio, yesterday.  It held all my stuff just the way I like it.  Which is why we like to make our own things!

Thanks for watching my blog!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My First Day in the Club

I love to tell the story about how I joined my local quilt guild.

We live just outside a small town in northern Indiana. We moved back here a few years after we married because my mom was having some health issues. Within a year, she passed away. I found out I was pregnant with my first son the day she died. We had just bought our first house and were still getting to know the community.
One day, when my son was just a couple of months old, I came home from work and my husband met me at the door. He was all excited. The local paper is delivered free to everyone on Tuesdays and he had read in the paper about a Quilt Club that met at the local Purdue extension office. I had been interested in quilts for a couple of years, but didn't have a lot of time to sew, what with the job, the house and the baby.

He had called the number in the paper and talked to Sue H., the president of the club. She told him what time they met and that they usually had a carry-in meal. So, he met me at the door and said (practically in one breath), "There's a quilt club in town that meets tonight, I'll take care of the baby and here's a dish to take to the carry-in meal!"

Off I went with my casserole dish. Of course, everyone wanted to know what was in it and could they have the recipe, and of course, I couldn't tell them because it was one of his make-it-up-as-you-go-along casseroles. This was a first for the women in the club--a husband who signs his wife up for a quilt club and also cooks! Sue is still telling the story today.

There were about 20 women in the group at the time. Now, we have over 50 members and we long ago outgrew our meeting place at the extension office. These women have been an important part of my life and I've made a lot of friends there. They make this town a community for me. I've learned so much from all of them.

So, do you belong to a quilt guild? Every group is different, but I find that the support I get from my club is very important in my development of my craft. Sometimes I'm discouraged because I'm not as productive as the others, but they support my little successes as well as my big ones.

I couldn't ask for a better group of quilting friends.

The people I meet here in blogland are another group of fantastic talented artists and, while it is great to have the convenience of getting together anytime of the day, I do encourage you to find a quilt group in your area. I have found it to be a great source of sharing and community.

It's all good.
The picture above was one of my favorites from the Appleseed Guild Quilt Show from a couple of years ago. (It's not mine.)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Out of Sight

Sometimes my world is less than fantastic, even though my blog name might suggest otherwise. My computer crashed this week, presumably from some evil virus, so now I'm on my husband's laptop. Oh well, better than nothing.

I've been soooo busy with getting the kids finished up at school. Two weekends before Memorial Day, I went on the overnight fourth grade field trip to southern Indiana. We visited Squire Boone Caverns, climbing an ungodly number of steps into and out of the cave. We also saw the first state capitol in Corydon. After "sleeping" overnight on the floor of a school gym, we visited the Capitol building in Indy and the Indiana State museum. This is my second year to do the trip, but much easier, as last year I had had knee surgery 6 days beforehand. Whew!

The same weekend, I took my older son on his first Boy Scout camping trip. Fortunately, they let us stay in some rustic cabins because no one else was there and it had rained horribly that day. It would have been a wet and yucky weekend. Again, we had a great time, but I must say that indoor plumbing is not to be overrated...

So, have I been sewing? Well, I have, but I can't show you yet, because of the computer business. I'm making slow progress on my pink and yellow promise stitching quilt, although I did take it on my field and camping trips. Gotta love the portability of hand work!

I'm also revisiting a project I started last year. It is the Victoria bag by Sue Spargo that is pieced and has wool applique. I had completed the bag panel, sewing it from bits of home dec fabric as well as wools and cottons from my stash. In the pattern, the bag is lined with batting, but it is not quilted. I decided to quilt it using perle cotton and big stitch quilting, to add to the bohemian look of the bag. I can't wait to show it to you.

I'm going to a quilt show in Columbis, Ohio in 2 weeks. Since it is so close to her hometown of Uniontown, Ohio, I'm hoping that Sue Spargo will be there. I have been fascinated by her use of mixed fabrics in her projects. She uses everything--home dec, wool, quilting fabrics--and then embellishes the projects with all kinds of fancy embroidery stitches, beads and trims. Wow!

I am also working on three different colorways of the backpack I made in the orange batik fabric last fall. I want to practice more FMQ on the panels and make some things for a few friends. I'm also trying to use fabrics from my stash.

At our quilt club meeting the week before Memorial Day, one of our members talked about her methods of organization. She was lucky enough to attend one of Bonnie Hunter's workshops a while ago and shared her scrap organizing ideas. So, this week I started taking a more liberal view toward my fabrics as I cut them. As I cut, I make extra cuts in the sizes I want to save, 1 1/2, 2 1/2, and 5 inches, and I make larger squaring up strips to use in string piecing. And each item has its own box to go in. It's so nice to see the strips piling up. It's like making your own jelly rolls!

Summer has officially begun, now that the kids are out of school. They aren't going to camp this year, so I want to come up with some new ideas for them to creatively expend their energies.

I'll show you some pics as soon as my sick computer comes home. Maybe I'll have a finish or two, as well.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Something New to Show

I have joined the BOM at my LQS that just opened in February. Two of the women from my quilt club opened the store. Jo, my Promise Stitching teacher, developed this BOM based on the life of her grandmother who taught her to quilt.

This BOM is different, because we picked out our fabrics from the shop according to the fabric recipe they gave us. My focus print is an orange floral from Red Rooster that I love. (Jo said she immediately thought of me when the fabric came in, because I like orange so much.) I picked out fabrics to go with the floral and they are all kept at the store. Each month, we go in to pick up our pattern and fabrics from our collection are given back to us in the kit for that month's block.

Each month we also get a story about Jo's grandmother. The first month, she talked about how her grandmother introduced her to quilting. Her grandmother was a kind, positive influence on Jo's life. The first block is the Shoofly block.

The second month, Jo told a story of some difficult times that her grandmother had as a child. The block for that month is Broken Dishes, because although the events the occurred should have "broken" her grandmother, she came through it with a strong positive spirit.

I loved the fabrics Jo and Kathy chose from my collection this month.

This month, Jo told the story of her grandmother's wedding, so the block is Steps to the Altar, of course. That's my focus fabric in the smaller squares. (Please ignore any cut off points you may notice.)
Jo has a fabulous way of telling stories, so I look forward to hearing the next installment about
her grandmother. I also can't wait to see what fabrics might have been chosen for that month. I haven't told you all the details of the stories because Jo wants it kept between the BOM participants for now. I think the story is bookworthy, myself.
I know I picked the fabrics, but don't you just love these colors?
So that's part of what I've been working on lately and I'm so glad I get to show it to you.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Promise Stitching 3

Well, don't fall over in a faint! I have PICTURES! I finally got the camera (with batteries and SD card), my projects and me in the same room together. For a while there, I thought it would never happen. So, now I'm back with progress to report.

First of all, this is my first Promise Stiching (PS) project completed. It is the pillow I started a couple of months ago. I got stalled in the process because the PS teacher was busy opening her quilt shop here in town. But I kept plugging away at the parts I knew how to do, until she had time to tell me how to finish.

You must remember that, in PS, everything is done by hand. Which makes me even more proud of my pillow. This project is supposed to teach some of the basic techniques in PS. Remember that each seam is reinforced by the promise stitching, the topstitching on the side of the seam allowance. Then, when the quilting is done, it is stitched along the other side of the seam. The front of the pillow is pieced, starting with the block with the turquoise button. "You don't know where you are going unless you know where you started." Then the borders were added. Flannel and muslin are the batting and back.

The lace is hand crocheted (by me, of course). I also made some of the same lace for a friend of mine (that doesn't do the small crochet) for her pillow. Sometimes the lace is crocheted directly on the pillow, using the railroad stitch, used for closing, as the base of the crochet. I'll do that next time.

The back of the pillow demonstrates the "on piece" method of sewing strips to a flannel foundation. Each seam is again secured with the promise stitching.
The applique I used was inspired by a quilt from the 50's that I saw in a book. The bird is similar to the one in the quilt, but the rest was just made up as I went along. The fabrics I used in the strips were special--some were from several quilting friends and the butterfly fabric is to remind me of my mother. I randomly arranged the strips, but when I see that red slash across the middle, I think of the sunrise and the birds singing.

I used muslin behind the flannel and then quilting along the lines I had not promise stitched. The applique is added last.

My last picture for today shows a detail of the quilting and the lace on the pillow. The back and forth meander in the border is done by making big loops around your thumb as you go along and is called "mashed potatoes quilting" (maybe it resembles the shape of a potato masher?) or "chicken tracks".

Items made in PS are meant to be used, not just for show. Besides being a sample to learn on, the pillow is then a place to support your arms when you are sitting down sewing on other projects.

I'm so proud of my pillow because every stitch was done by me and the colors and design represent me and the things I like.

It really didn't take me long to do the actual sewing. It was waiting to be told the next step that kept me from getting it done. Oh, yes, and the troubles with getting the camera. Sigh... But it's good for us to learn patience.

I am working on my next PS project, a Snowball and 9 Patch quilt, that is a lesson in volume. It is the second of the 3 projects that have to be done first when learning Promise Stitching. I am so glad my quilting friend and teacher Jo Crace is patiently teaching us. And Jo learned all she knows from Linda Lee Peterson, the original Promise Stitcher.
So I'm glad to be back in the blogging saddle again. I have several posts planned, so stay tuned for the next installment!