Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I Keep Changing

I apologize for the changes in my blog's appearance the last few days. I got tired of the pink and I'm playing with the templates to find one I like. In the process I'm learning about HTML code and having a blast! I promise to leave it alone for a few days now.

To Tie or Not to Tie . . .

A quilt that is. When my grandma taught me to quilt over 25 years ago we tied our quilts. When I started quilting two years ago I couldn't believe that tying a quilt is hardly done anymore. Now quilts are machine quilted or hand quilted. I was very intimated. How could I learn to machine quilt a finished top? I know I didn't have the right machine for it. I had no clue how to baste a quilt. I took a machine quilting class from Quilt University, but it was hard to follow along. I am a visual/hands on learner and this class didn't allow for that. Hand quilt? I wanted to desparately learn how to do create the "perfect" quilt stitch and couldn't wait to take my first hand quilting class. I finally took a hand quilting class earlier this summer and fell in love with hand quilting. I'm still slow at it, but I am improving and I love every minute I do it.

I have a quilt top I made for my mom. I need to get it finished soon. She really needs a quilt hug right now. So I decided I am going to tie it. I started on it tonight and hope to get it tied and the binding sewn on by machine so I can bring it with me this weekend to hand sew the binding on.

So, in your opinion, is it a bad thing to tie a quilt? I guess I'm suffering from some kind of quilt guilt, but I'm not sure if that is case or not.

My BIL brought me the pictures he took at Geoffrey's wedding. He has many good ones, but these are two of my favorites. My boys and I. Geoffrey, in the white tux, is the oldest and the groom. Brandon, the other one, is my youngest. I don't get to see Brandon very often as he lives with his dad in New York. Both have turned out to be fine young men.

There's a bit of fall in the air tonight. It's cool and rainy. I've been enjoying a cup of tea while blogging and I think I'll get the quilt out for the bed.

Thanks for all the positive comments about my mom and dad. I spoke with him tonight. He seems to be doing a little better. Time will tell though.

Monday, August 28, 2006

September Goals

Thanks to Linda and Patti for sending me the directions on how to set up a Goals list on my blog. It's now there for everyone to see and for me to see it every time I write in my blog.

I have one project that has a mid-September deadline, my post card swap. So that will be the first project I work on. I need to finish my Mom's Kitties quilt. We had to put my dad in a nursing home two weeks ago and mom is missing him terribly. They have been married for nearly 60 years and had just moved out of their home of 50 years and into a senior apartment. I have a quilt top done and the backing prepped. With the success I had with Tasha and I working together to finish Ella's quilt I'm sure we can get mom's done. She could really use a hug right now. I live 1,500 miles away and sending a quilt hug to her will help a lot.

September is a month of practice for me. I need to practice machine quilting. I've done a couple small projects, but I need to practice more so I can feel comfortable finishing all the tops I have done waiting to be done. Speaking of finishing a project I also need to practice binding. I'm having problems making the mitered corners. I can't get them to work properly. I've got several books and printouts on how to do it, but I could really use a hands-on lesson. I think I'm going to make some hot pads or placemats so I can practice machine quilting and binding. Here is a sample of my first attempt to machine quilt. I did this on Thanksgiving morning last year. I cheated on this mat and did the binding all by machine. It's not pretty, but it was a practice piece.

I spent time straightening up my studio tonight from my weekend projects. I cut up the scraps from my wallet into charms and trimmed the leftover backing from Ella's quilt into 2.5 inch strips and I think I have enough binding strips leftover for another quilt or two. Anyone want some pink binding? I'll trade from some black tone-on-tone fabric.

I missed my car/hand piecing time today. DH worked at home which meant I had to drive to work instead of being driven. Tomorrow I can get back to hand piecing again. I am so not looking forward to having to drive so much in September; but the trade off is evenings and weekends alone to quilt.

If you are in the path of Ernesto I hope the storm lessens before it gets to you or that you don't get any damage. Bye for now!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Another Finish and Hello To Ella

I finished my Quilter's Necessary tonight. I'm happy with the results. This is the first time I've used fusible web (Wonder Under) and it wasn't hard at all. Now I'm ready to try it for appliqueing. This project was also good because I used fabric that I bought this month so the fabric didn't have time to get friendly with my other fabric!

Here are some pictures of my Necessary. The first one is the wallet closed. There is a pocket on the other side of the cover for holding a 5 x 8 cutting mat.

Here is the wallet open with the pockets closed. I added some buttons for fun. I have snaps somewhere in my studio (they were there yesterday). Once I find them I'll add them to hold the pockets closed. In the last picture I opened a couple of the pockets to show you where I can keep a small ruler, a pencil, a seam ripper, a hand presser and needle pages.

The stitching isn't perfect, but it was a great learning experience and I'm sure I'll be using the necessary for a long time. Now I just need to schedule a retreat so I can bring it with me. I think I may have one in September, but I'm still working on the details.

The last picture is of me and my newest niece - Ella Anne. She was born last Monday weighing in a healthy 8 lbs, 8 oz. She is my 20th niece/nephew and I doubt she will be the last one. She is the one who got the quilt that Tasha and I finished yesterday. Her mom loves the quilt and can't wait to use it.

Some people have started talking about September goals. Nancy has mentioned only buying fabric for one quilt with a little extra and if she finishes the project she can do it again in October. As for me I have several sewing/quilting days in September so I'll be able to work on lots of projects. At this point I don't think I need to buy anything to work on or finish any projects I have. But I do intend to work on many projects.

Here's a question for those who read my blog - I would like to add a To Do List to my side bat, but I'm not that tech savvy. Can someone point in the direction where I can find the code for added the list? Thanks!

Well, it's late and tomorrow is a work day. I've had a great weekend, but it's time to go to bed.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Start, A Finish and an Old Iron

My calendar for today was marked as “A Quilt Studio” day. I needed time to play and then Tasha was coming over to finish baby Ella’s quilt (especially since Ella decided to arrive one week early). My day started with reviewing the pattern for my Quilter’s Necessary – a “wallet” for storing and carrying quilting tools. I got all the pieces cut and all the pockets put together before Tasha came over. I’m using fabric I bought last week at the quilt show so for once I didn’t add to my stash for months before using it. The pieces are sitting on my cutting table waiting to be finished tomorrow.

Tasha and I spent the afternoon finishing Ella's baby quilt. This is quick patch quilt that Tasha designed from a stack of 6 inch squares I had leftover from my Pink Finity Quilt (look at the beginning of the month). Tasha chose the borders and the backing. Today we tied the quilt and then put the binding on. We tag teamed the binding process. After the strips were cut I sewed them together and after I had a few done Tasha trimmed them. Then we used two irons and shared the ironing board to press the binding. I sewed the binding on after she left this afternoon. All that's left is to tack down the corners and the label on the back. Hopefully I'll be able to get it done before the family reunion tomorrow.

Norma showed her new iron today. I think every quilter has a love/hate relationship with her iron. I know I do. Anyway when I was Minnesota helping my parents clean their house I found this small travel iron that had never been used. I pulled it out today to use it while ironing binding. It's not a bad little iron. Very basic, but boy, does it get hot and it presses well. I can't wait to try it when I am piecing. It is even dual voltage so if I ever decide to take it overseas it should work! I love finding new gadgets, especially when they are free! The handle pops off and when the iron is in the box it's about 2 inches by 6 inches by 5 inches. It will fit well in my quilting bag for retreats.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Why I Do What You Do

Patty asked us to share why we quilt. I've spent some thinking about it and I hope you indulge me and read my answer.

Quintessential art form for many centuries. How else can someone stay warm when the leaves start to change color and the temperature drops? What do you cuddle under when the snow is falling so hard you can’t see across the street? What does a new mother use to cuddle with her newborn?

Under the watchful eye of grandma I carefully traced the cardboard square onto the red and blue and yellow calicos. The squares were cut with dressmaker shears and gently laid out on the 1950’s table in a simple 4-patch. Patch by patch I carried the small stacks upstairs to sew them together on grandma’s Singer Machine. The top was sewn together. There was no batting, just a backing and the pieces were tied together.

I learned many other needle crafts from grandma: needlepoint on canvas, crochet (even though I’m left handed and she was right handed), making Christmas ornaments and mats from beads. I also learned to sew clothes from her. On my own I learned cross stitching. I even took art classes for two years trying to find my “creative self”; but there was something missing. I wasn’t feeling creatively satisfied. Not until I re-discovered this wonderful craft.

Lovely bits of fabric danced across Aunt Judy’s guest bed on a crisp summer morning. Tell me about them, I asked her. They are the aprons her mother wore to work at the brush factory. When she died her sister took the aprons, cut them into two inch squares and sewed them back together, creating a wonderful family heirloom.

The fabric speaks to me from across the room. It has patiently waited while I played with paper and pencil and doodled out a new design. I can’t wait to cut up the fabric and put it back together again. Whether I use my sewing machine and speed piece or hand piece a patch while riding to work, the fabric seems to flow through my fingers. One piece after another after another. A triangle here, a square there, some bright purple fabric, along with some subtle green. Soon another one is born . . . . and another is begun.

Do you get it? Let me know if you solve the puzzle.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Another Quilt Show Weekend

Yup, that's me at the New England Patriots game last night. A friend called us at 11 AM and said he had two free tickets to the game and would we like them? Did he have to ask twice? We would never turn down tickets to the Patriots. So a quick trip to the grocery store, find a hotel room on-line and pack and we were off! The game was good and the Patriots won 30 – 3.

I spent my time in the car and in the hotel room working on my Tumbling Blocks. I am becoming so addicted to hand piecing while in the car that I may never want to drive again. My DH is going to be behind the wheel of the car forever.

This morning I picked up Tasha and we went to her first quilt show (my third one this month) – the World Quilt Show in Manchester, NH. Since this was her first show I advised her to pick a “theme” for fabric shopping. She decided she wants to make a quilt with bugs. Don’t know if it will be a Bug Jar Quilt or another pattern. So off we went looking for bug FQs. She was able to find several different fabrics to start her collection.

We also found several patterns that we want to try. Two of them are flannel appliqué patterns. Both of us love tulips so this Tulips pattern will be fun. Both of love babies and this Little Ones pattern will let us make several different projects.

Tasha’s sister is expecting a baby boy in late October and when we saw this Speaking of Baby quilt with the “Talking Quilt” squares we knew it would be fun to make. The pattern will help me bust some stash as well.

We found an absolutely adorable Bugs quilt and I told Tasha I would buy it, but that I would really have to learn appliqué to make it. When we went to look for the patterns we learned it was that every block is it’s own pattern plus a finishing pattern. Eight patterns in all for $40! That’s a lot of money for one complete quilt pattern, so we compromised and purchased the Grant and Brant block. Only we are going to have fun with the pattern and make Grant and Brant into Manny and Papi in honor of our favorite Red Sox baseball players. This is the one new project I can’t wait to get started on!

I found this cute Christmas fabric and just had to have it. Since I don’t buy fabric without a plan I purchased Fat Quarter Quilting: Four Fabric Quilts. I think these small quilts made with Christmas fabric will be cute Christmas presents.

Tasha chose a package of 12 FQs for the bug fabric and it was a good price: 12 FQs for $15. When we opened up the package and realized there were 2 FQs of each print I told her we should share the package. I think these prints will make a great quick baby quilt.

So now I am DONE with quilt shows and shopping for quite some time. I have plenty of new projects to work on, some new techniques to learn and an excited DIL who wants to spend time with me quilting too. What more could a woman ask for? Oh yeah, DH has a busy travel schedule in September and will be gone for more 15 days, including parts or all of three weekends. That means lots of quilting time for me. I have even scheduled a quilt retreat with a friend in Massachusetts. This will be a working retreat for both of us. I can’t wait!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Finding Time to Quilt

The past week has been a busy one for me. Long hours at the office and then a weekend on Cape Cod with Bruce. I've been trying to keep up with everyone's blogs but I've been so tired by the end of the day I can hardly see straight, let alone type a coherent sentence.

Anyway, I was so impressed by Norma's Nine-Patch quilt that I bought the magazine with the pattern in it. I spent some time trying to make nine-patches using the method Linda Lowers uses; but I just can't seem to make them properly. Oh well, I'll keep trying or make nine patches the old-fashioned way.

This past weekend I went to the Bayberry Quilters Quilt Show on Cape Cod. The theme of the show was celebrating their 25th anniversary. Many of the quilts on exhibit were older quilts made by the members, including one that was started in 1936 and finished in 1986. Many of the quilts were also hand pieced and hand quilted. I loved many of the quilts.

Unlike last weekend when I purchased the oak and glass chest, my purchases were more minimal. There was vendor there from California, Pincushion Boutique. She sells "Sweet Treats" - a package 8 coordinating FQs. The best part about them is that each pack has a name and if you want to purchase additional fabric from the pack you can contact them, tell them what pack you bought and what fabric you want and they will sell it to you. She also carries a line of patterns designed for using a "Sweet Treat." I bought the Stairstepper pattern and 2 "Sweet Treats". The purple one is for my DIL and the other one is for me. At the show I also bought some Thimble-Its for hand quilting and a pattern for a Quilter's Necessary, a wallet for carrying notions and threads. On the way back to the hotel I stopped at quilt shop near our hotel and purchased some polka dot fabric. This store had a coupon in the quilt show book that gave you a choice of free batting, $4 off your purchase or Mundial scissors or thread clips. I chose the thread clips.

The title of this post is Finding Time to Quilt. For quilte some time I've been daydreaming during my morning commute about having hand work with me. It's only a 20 minute ride so I figured a few minutes is better than none. So finally last Friday I packed up my Tumbling Blocks and brought them with me. In 20 minutes on the way to the office I finished one block. That afternoon on our way to Boston I finished two blocks. Yesterday on the way home I did two more blocks and this morning I completed yet another one! That's six blocks I would not have done if I didn't do it in the car! DH is starting call my project the "car quilt".

I haven't started Judy's one hour quilt, but I am still spending 20 minutes more a day quilting than I had been. That's fine with me.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Time Well Spent and Football is Here

Today was the first day of my new goal. I had to earn my computer time by quilting. This morning I made a couple test nine patch blocks. This afternoon and early evening I spent a total of about 5 hours hand quilting my mini whole cloth quilt. I consider it a good test afternoon for the upcoming football season. Now I am confident that I can hand quilt while watching football with Bruce this fall. Although I have earned about 3 hours of computer I haven't used it all up! But I do like this goal I have set for myself.

Thanks for all the compliments on my oak and glass chest. When Bruce came home today and saw the chest he was glad I bought it. He likes it too. I have put my one and only finished quilt in there for now. Someday there will be more quilts in it.

For those who don't know me very well I am a big football and baseball fan. Tonight is the Football Hall of Fame game and I'm all ready for it! Too bad my New England Patriots are playing, but their first game is this Friday night. Woohoo!!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Quilt Shows and Spending and Goals

I'm back from my visit with my quilt friend from Washington. We had a great time and saw many, many lovely quilts. One was made with over 40,000 3/8 inch squares! Wow! There was a special collection of quilts made by local students ages 8 - 18. It is so refreshing to see that students are being exposed to the textile arts. There were two special exhibits - one of Journal Quilts and one of bra quilts. There was an entire section of art quilts and another section of more traditional quilts. I don't know that I could pick a favorite quilt.

We only stopped at two of the four quilt shops I had planned for the trip. But we still had a great time and made dents in our wallets. I purchased this beautiful oak and glass chest for storing and showing off my quilts. We saw it when we first got to the show and, as I was telling Yvonne that I didn't think I could get it home, Bruce called. I told him what I was looking at and he encouraged me to buy it. I told him I had just gotten to the show and wasn't ready to make that kind of purchase. Later, as we were finishing looking at the quilts he called me again and asked if I had bought the chest. At that point, I knew I had to get it. So, for now, it is sitting in my living room waiting for me to finish some quilts to put into it. I also bought some butterfly fabric that I had run out of while making a quilt, some teacup fabric that will make some cute placemats, orange fabric to make napkins to match my table runner I made last week and some Quilter's Dream batting.

Many bloggers I read are setting goals for August. I've decided to set one of my own. I love reading blogs and keeping up with my other on-line quilt friends, but I think I may be spending too much time on-line and not enough time working on my projects. So I've decided that I need to start "earning" my computer time. I work Monday - Friday so my quilting time is limited, so during the week I'll reward my self with an even amount of computer time for time spent quilting. On the weekend I think the reward will be a little tougher - a two for one exchange. I have to spend twice as much time quilting than I do on-line. I'll see how that works out.

So, for now, I'm siging off and going to spend some time hand quilting. Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 04, 2006

I'm So Excited!

I know many quilt bloggers are having a No Buy August. I chose not to participate as I haven't bought any fabric since May and have been using my Stash. Good luck to everyone who is participating.

Why am I excited? Tomorrow I get to meet Yvonne, a fellow quilter, who lives in Washington and is visiting her daughter who is currently working in Boston.

I am taking Yvonne to the Lowell Quilt Show and the musem and depending on how much time we have and we feel like doing, I have designed our drive back to Boston to go by 3 quilt shops and one big fabric store. I don't have any definite plans to buy fabric and quilty stuff; but I'm leaving myself open to whatever may strike my fancy! I do have to behave a little because next week we are going to Cape Cod and I plan on meeting another quilt friend and go to a quilt show. And if that isn't enough, the following weekend is the World Quilt Show in Manchester and I'm going to be meeting some more quilting friends there!

That's a lot of quilt inspiration for one month, dont' you think?