Learning to say no….or maybe not.

For the first six months of this year, I didn’t spend more than a handful of hours working on any quilts that I wanted to make for my own selfish reasons.  Instead, I made quilts for fundraisers or for other people.  This, along with my usual life responsibilities, has kept me so busy, I haven’t even had much time to blog, which I really have missed.  So alert the presses…this is my second blog in less than a week’s time.

Don’t get me wrong, one of the major joys in my life is making quilts to minister to other people by sharing the gifts God has blessed me with, but I do tend to get in over my head.  I guess balance is something I need to continue to work on.  To paraphrase, sometimes you just need to stop and pet the fabric.  I have a lot of blogging catch up to do.  Here goes…deep breath.

The quilt at the beginning of this post was for the winner of last year’s custom quilt raffle that I do every year to support my church’s youth group going to snow camp.  We don’t want any child to not be able to go due to lack of finances.  Usually the raffle brings in around $2,000 and the lucky winner gets to pick any style, size, and general colors that they want, (assuming it’s within my skill level).  The winner of this quilt,  which I named Dancing Leaves, is a good friend and a member of my quilt guild, Valley Heritage Quilt Guild, which I affectionately call Quilter’s Anonymous.  Instead of having me start a quilt from scratch, she asked me if I would be willing to do a log cabin quilt for her, so of course, I said, “I can do that.  Log cabins are a breeze.  I’ll whip it out in no time.”  Silly me.  She then handed me a pack of fabric, and a pattern (Fall Foliage Spectacular by Judy Martin).  The pattern stitched out into a square, but did she want a square?  Of course not!  She wanted it to be a wall hanging to go in a specific spot and wanted it to be about 70 by 42 as I recall.  Then I noticed that instead of just being simple half-square triangles, the leaves were made from different length and width trapezoids, which I had never done before.  Of course, there were directions on how to make the trapezoids in the pattern book, but I couldn’t make them come out right after a dozen tries with scrap fabric, so being a puzzle-solver, I developed my own technique, which I’m sure someone else had already thought of, but was new to me.  Once that puzzle was solved, I got the blocks made, adding many of my own fabrics to give a better variety to the overall look.  I got a little carried away, putting in multiple shades of white and light yellow background fabric, realizing belatedly that Debbie had included a large piece of white that she had intended for me to use for all the background pieces.  Oops.

The next issue that I ran into was the two rows of leaves on the sides of the center medallion were supposed to be repeated on the top and the bottom as well, but then I would have to make the quilt way bigger than she had requested in order to make it the rectangular shape she wanted.  So I pulled out a bunch of quilt pattern books that I have, and I saw a border on one of the quilts that was very similar to the chevron shape I ended up using.  I thought to myself, “I have a tool for that!”  I got out my Strip Tube ruler and went to town, taking a lot of time figuring out the puzzle of how to transition around the corners.  It was rewarding to finally come up with the solution to the puzzle.  I would definitely make this pattern again.  It is really an unusual take on the log cabin.

Continuing on the theme of the yearly custom quilt raffle for my church’s youth group, I got a phone call from a lady that lives about 60 miles north of me who had somehow come across a flyer advertising the raffle.  She had started a log cabin quilt for her son’s dorm room just before he entered college, but she was really unhappy with the way it was coming out.  She wondered if I would be willing to fix and finish it for her…and, by the way…increase it from the twin size that she already had the blocks mostly done for to a queen size and she would pay me.  I told her I wouldn’t accept payment for myself, but she could make a donation to our church’s youth group, and I would help her out.  I now think I should have told her I would advise her on how to improve the quilt, but I wouldn’t finish it for her, but….So we met at the town half-way between where we both live, and I came home with her blocks and a lot of fabric and permission to do what I thought best to breathe some life into it and to take my time.  Which is a good thing.  That was in February, and I just finished the quilt this past Sunday afternoon.  The basic problem is she had almost no wow factor in her block and there wasn’t really a dark and a light side.  Looking at it, I decided it needed a little pop of color because it was sort of blah.  Here is a photo of her block on the left, and how I changed it on the right.

I only changed out two fabrics, but got the color that it needed.  I’ve found the hardest part when working on someone else’s quilt, is that not everyone is very accurate with the quarter inch seam, and most of hers were 3/8ths.   So I ended up having to adjust mine to match rather than taking all the blocks totally.  The photo doesn’t do justice to the color, even in a close up.  I entitled it “Sunshine and Shadows”

And the close up.

I found a receipt in the bag of batting she gave me to use which was dated 1998.  I confirmed that that was when she had started it!  No wonder she wasn’t in a hurry.  I will deliver it to her on Monday of next week.  Sure hope she approves.

Somewhere in between completing these two quilts, my friend Delani and I also made this comfort quilt for one of the elders of our church who nearly died because he lives on a remote ranch, and the ambulance couldn’t reach him and they couldn’t get a helicopter in, so he had to walk out to meet them.  Turns out he needed triple bypass and his gallbladder removed on top of a lung condition that he suffers from.  It’s a miracle he’s up and on the mend.  By the time we got the quilt made for him, he was able to come back to church.

He always wears cowboy boots, so we thought the boot border was appropriate. The pattern is Labyrinth by Calico Carriage Quilts.  I entitled this one “It’s a Bootiful Life”.

Back in May, it was time again for the Dutch Oven Cookoff, which raises money for a rural living and history museum just down the road a piece from us which is still in the development stage with one building up.  The movers and shakers want to put facades on the buildings to replicate the original little country town that used to be here in pioneer days.  For the second year, they asked if I would be willing to host a quilting demonstration set up, and of course, I said yes.

With my friends Delani and Grace helping do sewing demos on machines and Kate doing hand quilting, I got the “brilliant” notion to prepare some strip sets to make nine patches, and let people sit at one of the machines, with supervision if needed, and sew a nine patch or two.  For every block they sewed, they got a chance to win the quilt that I would finish after the Dutch Oven was over.  It was a real hit.

You can see the beginnings of the quilt on the design wall.

Grace, who had brought a hand operated Featherweight machine, was running back and forth between our set up and her husband’s blacksmith demonstration, so Delani and I were kept so busy helping folks make their blocks that we barely had time to run to the restroom and get something to eat when the wonderful Dutch Oven cooked food was ready.   That night, I had my husband draw a name to win the quilt.  The winner was our pastor’s mother who is a fine quilter and told me to give the quilt to someone else because she really didn’t need another quilt and would rather someone who really wanted it to have it.  Very generous of her.  So Delani and I picked a young girl about 12 years old who had come back to our booth over and over again because she loved making blocks.  She had wanted to learn to quilt so badly and didn’t have a machine at home that she taught herself to handpiece from watching YouTube videos.  Here is the quilt she was thrilled to win.

As you can see, I used the same “Strip Tube” border on this one, which is named “Everything But the Kitchen Sink.”  The pattern is Confused Nine Patch from the Big Book of Scrappy Quilts. When I took this to show and tell at Quilter’s Anonymous and told the story of the winner, one of our members, who it turned out only lived a couple miles away from the girl’s family, volunteered to give the young girl an older machine that she no longer needed.  Aren’t quilters wonderful people?

Then, of course, the ladies at the Hall, including myself, taught the kids’ summer quilting class again this year.  We want to make sure the younger generation has exposure to quilting and we have both boys and girls attending, ages 9 to 18.  We had a lot of new kids this year, and a fairly large total number with 9 students and 4 teachers.  Fortunately, because we prefer a one-on-one ratio, a couple of the ladies who have joined our group within the last year and are new quilters themselves, stepped in and helped with some of the returning, more advanced students.  The kids make a communal quilt that is then donated to a charity.  This year’s will go to a kid’s cancer camp.  This is my favorite quilt of all the ones that have been done in the 11 years I’ve been participating as a teacher.

The kids learned not only how to sew together fabric and make half square triangles for the ears, but how to sew on buttons for the eyes, noses, and tags for the collars and to hand embroider the mouths.  By the way, I wonder if any of you know the answer to the question I asked all the students during the button sewing portion of the class.  Why do we sew the buttons on before we embroider the mouth?  The answer:  If the mouth was embroidered first, the animals would bite you when you stuck the needle in to sew on the eyes or the nose. One of our advanced students did machine applique around all the balls and birds that were fused onto the background fabric.  She did it under my supervision, which wasn’t much supervision after I showed her how to do the first one.  She did a beautiful job.  I brought the quilt home to do the quilting on my long arm and did the binding as well.  I  am obsessed with the fabric we used for the back.

The cat fabric was donated to our group.  The dog fabric was left over from the back of the dog quilt I made last year, (see my post “It’s Ruff Making a Dog from Scratch”), and the paw print fabric surrounding them was purchased.

The August meeting of Quilter’s Anonymous was the deadline for finishing the yearly quilting challenge.  This year’s challenge was to make a quilted project with as many fabrics as you could, using at least two of the 5 scraps given to you earlier in the year, which were hidden in brown paper bags.  As an ironic aside, one of the “scraps” I got in my bag was a completed hexagon for a one block wonder.  Made me laugh, but I didn’t use it.  There were two prizes, one for people’s choice and the other for the most scraps used.  As serendipity would have it, in July I took a class to make a “Color Dance” wonky log cabin sponsored by the guild.  It was great.  We each brought piles of pieces of fabric and got to go around shopping in everyone else’s piles.  A really fun exchange.  Anyway, I decided this would be the perfect challenge quilt for me since I didn’t have anything else even started, and this one was small enough I thought I could finish it by the August meeting.  I was able to, by the skin of my teeth, hand sewing the label on 20 minutes before I left home for the meeting.  Here is a photo of my efforts.

I call it “Quirky, Quakey Cabin” the quakey because I live in California about 40 miles from the earthquake capital of the world.  Well, I won hands down for most fabric used, 337 unique pieces counting the border and the two piece Suzy’s Magic Binding, but not including the back.  You could say I had the competition sewn up.  Another funny thing about this quilt is I thought, “Oh, good.  I can use up a lot of my scraps.”  But in my zeal to maximize the number of fabrics used, plus wanting to have the perfect fabrics to transition between the color changes, I ended up buying about 40 fat quarters, so now I have more scraps than I started with.  The best laid plans….

The Hall Quilt Show is coming up on the 15th of September, with all quilts that are being displayed being gathered this Wednesday.  Normally, I have at least six or seven quilts in the show, but this year, the only quilt that I had kept that was finished was the wonky log cabin I just talked about.  So, I scrambled around looking for things that I hadn’t put in the show previously, and found one lap quilt that I had planned to give to the guild as a comfort quilt.  Then I remembered that I had gotten some of the components made for a mystery quilt sponsored by Carole at https://frommycarolinahome.wordpress.com/ called Scrap Dance Two Step.  So I decided I could get on the ball and finish it in a couple of weeks and luckily the mystery reveal had happened in July.   Here is the result called “Super Nova”:

Once again, the colors don’t come out well with my camera lately, so here is a better photo with the quilt on my longarm machine, Rosie.  

Carole comes up with the coolest designs and she says she will be starting another mystery quilt in her Scrap Dance Series soon, so if you’ve never been to her blog, I highly recommend it.  She gives one clue a month, so you can work on it a little at a time, or wait till the end like I did and rush.   I was also able to borrow back one of the quilts that had been auctioned off for a fundraiser, so there will be 4 of my quilts in the quilt show.

So now that most of the rush is over and deadlines passed, I’ve started playing with my Mariner’s Compass ruler that I talked about in my last post.  It is going really well, and will post more about it later.  Also, it is almost time to get raffle tickets and flyers ready for sales for the custom quilt raffle.   So many quilts I want to make, so little time in a day.

Do you have a hard time saying no?

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Gnorman the Gnaughty Gnome

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Late last summer, Gnorman came to live in my garden.  At first I was happy that he had chosen my garden to inhabit, hoping he would chase away the resident rodents who were being so destructive to the vegetable crops not to mention flower bulbs.  Gnorman even brought his own little shovel to dig out the rodent holes and evict them.  After awhile, though, strange events began to occur.  We put in a “beach” area next to our pond, just because we could and because it gave a nice spot where you could walk right up to the edge of the pond to view the goldfish hiding under the waterlilies.  I thought it would be a nice to touch to sprinkle some of those sparkly flat marbles among the gravel just because I’m one of those “oh, look! Something shiny!” kind of people.  Here is how our little beach path looks.

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As you can see, we also have quite a collection of large seashells around the sides of the pathways, not to mention quite a few stray plants growing in the middle.  Ack!  More weeding to do.  My wonderful husband and his grandmother have always collected shells and pretty rocks, and the smaller items I display in a vintage glass cover for a ceiling light fixture which is placed just out of sight of this photo.  This is where one of the strange events started occurring. I kept finding small shells scattered along the pathways of the garden in danger of being stepped on and broken.  I would always place them back in their proper place, and the next day they would be running amok again.  Then my husband would come into my quilting room and hand me a handful of the shiny flat marbles stating he had found them two or three hundred feet out in the pasture.  I even found some near the trees in our orchard, a hundred feet from the garden area.  Then this morning, I went outside to pull weeds, and found proof of who was moving things about in the dead of night.

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The evidence is clearly sitting on the raised bed timber for all to see.  You can see Gnorman in the background pretending he knows nothing about it, but I think we all can see, he’s been caught!

Believe it or not, I haven’t spent all my time lately playing in the garden.  I have been quilting away like a madwoman as well, but spring fever has definitely set in here on California’s Central Coast.  Things haven’t looked this lovely for years, thanks to the ton of rainfall that we’ve been blessed with this last season, continuing up to this past week when we got almost two tenths of an inch.  I know it doesn’t sound like much to most folks, but when your rainfall average for an entire season is only 16 inches, every drop makes a difference.  So far this season, we have received  21.09 inches.  Two seasons ago, it was less than 3 inches for the entire season.  Some of our neighbors who live in the more hilly areas have nearly 30 inches.  As a result of all the rain, our wisteria and lilacs have never looked better.  Here is a quick sampling of the eye candy.

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Wisteria.  Can’t you just smell the fragrance?

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Lilacs

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Rosa banksia (Lady Banks Rose) which blooms only once a year but is spectacular for a few weeks in the spring.

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This photo was taken from the farthest Southwest corner of the garden looking towards the orchard which is the tree in the background that has yellowish green foilage.  As you can see, all of our 60 something roses are about to explode into full bloom, the smoky orange on the right is my Laura Bush bush.  You can also see a little peak of purple wildflowers left on the hill on the far side of the road.  Sadly, the hills and wildflowers are just starting to dry up now that the weather is hitting the mid-80s during the day.  One last photo of a red-tailed hawk I caught soaring in the skies above our home.hawk cropped lbl

As far as quilting, I have been working on a quilt for the person who won the custom made quilt that I raffle off every December to benefit the youth group at our church.  This December’s winner is a lady who belongs to my quilter’s anonymous group (quilt guild), so I feel pressured to get it perfect.  She provided the pattern and most of the fabric.  I added some fabric from my own collection because I just couldn’t resist going with the theme, which is fall leaves sewn into a very interesting Log Cabin quilt pattern.  It required me to figure out how to make trapezoids, a totally new skill for me.  In addition, the pattern made the quilt 58 inches square, and she wants it to be a 40 inch long by 70 inch wide wall hanging.  This required a bit of a redesign once the center of the quilt was done, but I think I have met the challenge.  I don’t want to post any photos just yet because she does read my blog on occasion.  I probably will have to break down and send her a photo later today to see if she approves of what I’m planning to do for the last border, though I usually try to save the finished result as a surprise for the recipient.  Oh, well, sometimes you can’t have it all.  I guess I better get back to finishing up that border.

An Ode to Buttercup

Farewell, Dear Buttercup

I say a sad good-bye

As you fly on up

To the pressing station in the sky.

 

You have been an iron faithful and true

Doing pushups many and strong

Each time I let go of you

For these many years, oh so long.

 

But alas, you have grown weary

And weak in the knees.

You’ve pressed till you’re bleary

Always eager to please.

 

Without you, I tried to get along

But old-fashioned iron would not suffice

Demanding to on her heel be like she belonged

She did burn my board once or twice.

(Oh, that just wasn’t nice)

 

So at last your replacement is here!

Still nameless, she is pretty in pink,

Bringing to a quilter’s heart good cheer.

As she does pushups and to her knees doth sink.

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Okay, maybe I should stick to quilting instead of poetifying.  For those of you who are not familiar with the Oliso irons, they are meant to be left horizontal on the ironing surface when not actually in use, pushing themselves up with little feet when you let go of the handle, and the feet folding up flush to the bottom when you pick up the iron to press.   I have really become spoiled in the 5 or 6 years that I have had Buttercup.  I love not having to worry about whether I remembered to put the iron up on its heel, the cord is extra long, and the iron doesn’t turn itself off until it hasn’t been used for 30 minutes, which is a far cry from the usual 10 minutes and is ideal for a quilter.  I don’t tend to iron at all once, but intermittently throughout the quilting day.  So the only debate about whether or not to replace Buttercup was because these irons are very expensive.  I tried using my previous iron, which still works just fine, for about a week, and indeed I left it down in the horizontal position a couple of times.  Keep in mind, I just put a brand new cover on my oversized ironing station, which is a major undertaking because both the old and the new have adhesive to hold them in place, and can be ordered to fit large ironing stations.  My husband built this one for me, and as you can see, it doesn’t have a point like most ironing boards do.After the second incident, which was the worst, I immediately went on the Internet and ordered a new Oliso, trying to ignore the expense.  What is pressing bliss worth anyway?   Besides I use my iron heavily because I spend hours quilting nearly every day.  I was amazed to see that they had available a limited edition pink iron, so decided why not.  I was thrilled when the new iron came an entire week before it was due to arrive and I had it plugged in and was putting it through its paces immediately.

Now the only challenge is to name her.   Just so you know my best quilting friend got me started naming my tools and came up with the name Buttercup.  So my longarm machine is Rosie, my Baby Lock Jane is Plain Jane and my fancy Janome is Lady J.   My friend who came up with Buttercup’s name happened to be over to quilt on Thursday afternoon when the new one came, and we debated about a name, coming up with Petal, Raspberry, Shortcake, Lily, Barbie, and then getting really silly, Pepto Bismol.  So if anyone has any brilliant ideas, I am eager to hear your suggestions.  Rose or Rosie is out because I’ve already named my longarm that for very convoluted reasons.

Happy quilting!

 

 

 

Heading West Once Again

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In January I made a western themed quilt to auction off at a fundraiser  for our rural museum that the community here has been working on for many years.   See my last post, “Playing with Potholders” to view that quilt.  The quilt was so popular that there was quite the bidding war, so the powers that be asked if I could make another one to auction off at their next fundraiser on March 11th.  This time the fundraiser will be dinner and a dance and they are calling the event “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”.  The request was to include a covered wagon in the design, so I set out to search for covered wagon fabric.  It was nearly impossible to find.  I was only able to find one piece of antique fabric, and it just wasn’t what I wanted.  So I decided I would try an embroidered design as the centerpiece since I have an embroidery machine and  digitizing software on my computer.  Everything I tried came out too small.  I guess I could have done applique, but I am too lazy to take that on.  So I searched and searched, and I finally found the panel in the photo above at Ebay.  I just love the old west look of the panel and the composition is simply charming.  It came complete with the printed “border” of triangle squares and the wood look border.  I don’t know the manufacturer since the selvedge only has the title “Point of View” on it.

I plan on adding some sort of additional pieced border at the top and bottom and then adding blocks that I will embroider with a covered wagon, a stagecoach, a ranch scene, a town scene that I purchased and perhaps some cattle and/or horses, then some additional borders..  I haven’t decided exactly what will look right yet, but I need to get a move on since March 11 is right around the corner.

This next photo is the fabric choices that I have to use in the rest of the quilt.  You can see the covered wagon embroidery that I experimented with lying on top of the fabric I intended to use as the backdrop for the embroidery.  I thought it had a nice prairie look to it.  I might also design some additional detail to go into the embroidery design like mountains or something.  Anyway, I was really excited to find the wagon wheel fabric right in front on our trip to town yesterday.

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Time to get my creative juices flowing and get this quilt done.

Playing with potholders

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Sadly, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to quilt lately because I have a lot of end of/beginning of the year responsibilities, including duties as the volunteer bookkeeper for my church, personal income tax stuff to gather for our accountant, 24 fruit trees and around 60 rosebushes to prune!  I have no idea why I decided to plant so many rose bushes, but they are certainly lovely when they are in bloom.  Besides, I have really been at one of those seasons that I’m sure most quilters have where you just feel dry and uninspired. So, I have tackled only a few small projects in the last couple of months.

I found the pattern and instructions for these really cute butterfly potholders above in one of my favorite quilt stores.  The pattern is “Flutterby Pot Holders” by Valori Wells.  Since I needed some items to add to my quilt guild’s monthly raffle basket, I decided these would be a nice addition.  Besides, it gave me another opportunity to use up  a few scraps out of the ever overflowing scrap bins.  They were really fun and pretty easy to make.  I most enjoyed the design opportunities of picking just the right fabrics.  And of course, as always I learned something in the process.  This time I learned the reason to clip you curves before you turn something right side out through a very small opening.  I totally forgot to do that on the purple and orange butterfly, and you can see that the tail and the top of the “head” aren’t nearly as nicely defined as on the peacock butterfly.  But it was so difficult to turn these right side out, that I wasn’t about to fix the mistake.  We’ll just call this, not a mistake, but a variation.

The next set of potholders I decided to make were inspired by a saying I spotted in a magazine.  This Sunday, our pastor is away with the youth group up at a Christian snow camp in the High Sierras, so one of our Elders will be in charge of the service.  He has decided he wants to do an old fashioned Bible quiz, and asked me to figure out small prizes to give out.  Why does everyone seem to think that I am the answerer of all questions?   I don’t know, but I put my thinking cap on, and came up with these potholders.

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Again, using scraps out of the overflowing bins, the one on the left is a raw edge applique technique that I’ve used a couple of times to make entire quilts.  It’s a lot of fun to make and pretty easy.  As a matter of fact, I was asked to teach the technique to the kids during our summer learn to quilt classes at our little rural Hall.  At that time, instead of making an entire quilt, we thought it would be fun for the kids to make them into potholders and did it as a quilt as you go project since the applique technique really lends itself to doing that.

The things I learned doing this project is how to use my digitizing software to make the lettering curve around the design on the blue potholder.  I’ve had my digitizing software for around 17 years, and I am really just now learning how to do more than simple lettering.  The other thing I learned is the tool I use for joining the ends of my binding, The Binding Tool by TQM Products, doesn’t work very well on such small projects since you have to leave a 12 inch opening to manipulate your binding and trim it just the right way.  The largest side of the potholder on the right was only 11 1/2 inches, so that idea was out.  I used my old, far inferior way of joining binding, which involved tucking the last end into the first end which is ironed at the correct angle….very bulky, and it shows at the top right.  But it looked okay, so I let it go.  On the blue potholder, I learned how to adjust the tool, and got it to line up really closely.  The binding, once joined, was about a 16th of an inch too long, so I took up the excess by reworking the nearest corner.  I think it came out much better.

The last project I’ve gotten done recently was this quilt that I made specifically to donate for the silent auction to benefit the rural museum that some of the local residents have been working on getting up and running for many years to preserve the history of our area.  So far they have one building up filled with items on display as well as a couple dozen vintage farm apparatus.  When driving by quickly, the outdoor display kind of reminds me of scenes from Star Wars so bizarre looking is some of the equipment.

Anyway, here is the quilt, which I named “Riding Till the Cows Come Home” since the back it a print of cattle milling about, doing what cows do.

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The learning experience on this one was adapting a pattern that I’ve used before, Labyrinth by Calico Carriage Quilt Designs, Debbie Maddy designer.  I absolutely love the interwoven effect. Here is how the original pattern looks:

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The bidding was hot and heavy and the quilt was the most popular item donated.  Now they’ve asked me to make a quilt for the next fundraiser in March.  I think I’ve created a monster.  But I don’t mind because I really do love quilting.  The biggest challenge is they hoped I would do one with a covered wagon somewhere on it.  I looked on line and the only fabric I could find was an expensive piece of vintage fabric.  I think they are just going to have to take what they get.  I’m sure as soon as I’m done, a lot of fabric lines will come out with covered wagons.  It always happens.

Dog Bites Quilt Show

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Friday was our annual quilt show at the circa 1890s Hall.  Our quilt show is not judged and there is no voting on favorite quilts, but just is an opportunity to showcase local talent and vintage quilts from local residents.  It also encourages people to buy raffle tickets for the handquilted queen sized quilt that you can get a glimpse of just to the right of the doorway.  One hundred percent of the proceeds from the raffle goes toward scholarships for our local young people.

As you can see, my Fannie Mae von Nubbinwagger was front and center and generated interested from everyone who came by.  There was the best turn out for this event since I became involved ten years ago in the quilting group that meets at the hall to work on the scholarship quilt and various charity quilts.  The event was to open at 2 PM, but our first group came at 1 o’clock.  They were folks from out of the area who were driving by to check out the fire damage from the recent Chimney Fire that I posted about a couple of weeks ago.  They happened to see our signs out on the road, and came out of curiosity.  Of course, we welcomed them in early, and the folks continued to come on a constant stream until 7 o’clock, when we took a break for a potluck dinner and to draw for the donated door prizes for those who purchased quilt raffle tickets that day.  My assignment was to welcome people at the door, hand out programs and “white gloves” for those who wanted to pet the pretty quilts and answer any questions.  I was kept hopping the entire day.

Here is a better photo of our scholarship raffle quilt.  It is done in the Carolina Lily pattern. 007

The rest of the photos are of the quilts on display.  I hope you enjoy the photo tour.005

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The handquilting on this last one was finished while the quilter was evacuated from her home because of the fire.

Busy Bee and New Quilting Gadget Discovery

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Since I last posted, the fire that I posted photos of spread, well, like wildfire, causing our neighbors in the two communities immediately south of us to be evacuated.  Fortunately there were no homes lost in those two areas, but the fire burned right up to many of the homes.  The community even further south, on the other side of Lake Nacimiento where the fire started, lost 49 homes.  My prayers go out to those poor people.  My pastor, who is a volunteer firefighter with our local department, his wife and 15 year old daughter opted to not evacuate their home, but brought their youngest daughter and horses to my community to stay at a friend’s ranch.  The friend, Delani, was looking for ways to entertain her daughter, Cheyene, on the left, and the pastor’s daughter, Abigail, on the right, so I invited them all over to make a project at my house.  The pillows the girls are holding are the results of the day’s efforts.  It goes to show, when the going get’s tough, the quilters get quilting.  Both girls picked out their own fabric, and you can probably tell that they are both horse crazed.  Cheyene even competes in local rodeos.

I had been messing around with Jodi Barrows Square-in-a-Square system, which I recently purchased since I am the Queen of Quilting Gadgets, and I stumbled across Jodi’s easy way to basically make a frame around a feature fabric.  I did all the cutting, but the girls did the rest.  I think they came out really cute.  Definitely a great project to do for a gift.

I am really loving Jodi’s ruler system.  It is incredibly versatile.  I wish I had looked into it more previously.  I could have saved a lot of money on buying specialty rulers that only do one quilting component like triangle in a square, diamond in a square, flying geese and of course square in a square.  I have separate rulers for each of these, plus more!

Following my three- month adventure with my doggie art quilt which I posted about previously, I decided I wanted to do something simple.  So I made this baby quilt totally out of leftovers in my stash.

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Once again, I used the Square-in-a-Square ruler to make the pinwheels which come out already trimmed and squared up when you finish sewing them.  Love it!

I also completed this snail trail quilt using the system.  It’s been on my UFO list since I got my new ruler back in May. It was the first project I started using my new ruler for, so I was ready to be done with it.

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The four patches are made from a fall themed strip exchange that we did at last November’s quilt guild retreat.  I really wanted to make it bigger, but I ran out of the brown fabric.  I thought I had found some more of it on line and ordered it, but when it came, it was 4 shades darker than the original, so I just gave up and made the border with the green that was in my stash.  It now awaits quilting and binding.  The quilt guild meeting where it is due as my UFO for this month isn’t until Monday night, so no sweat.  Hahaha.

This coming Friday is our local quilt show at the 120 year old Hall in one of the communities that was evacuated.  It too survived the fire unscathed.  The quilt show is just a showcase for local quilters and vintage quilts made by people associated with this area.

As an ending note, the wildfire I spoke of is over and the evacuees went home last weekend.  It’s wonderful to be able to breathe smoke free air again and not have ash covering every outdoor surface.  The firefighters are heros for saving so many homes!

Creating a Dog From Scratch Can Be Ruff

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I have not forgotten about blogging over the last few months, but boy, have I been busy.  In May, I flew back to Delaware to visit my east coast partner in quilting crime, my sister-in-law, Mary of stitchinggrandma fame.  We had the opportunity to go on a four day retreat with Cheryl Lynch, www.cheryllynchquilts.blogspot.com,  at her lake house in the Poconos to learn how to take a photograph of our pet and turn it into a quilt.  I don’t normally do art type quilts mainly because I like to stick with bed sized quilts and I simply don’t have any wall space to hang an art quilt.  But I am game to try anything once, and besides, I wanted to have a quilting adventure with Mary.  In addition I figured that I could make a pillow top out of the completed project.  So I sent off the above photo of our dear Rottweiler, Fannie Mae von Nubbinwagger who passed on at the ripe old age of 12 around 2003.   My first clue that this was too large for a pillow top should have been the fact that we were requested to bring a 56 inch square design wall!   Indeed, the project ended up being 56 or so inches square without borders. Cheryl had us overlay our photo with a grid overlay, and following the grid, make 2 inch squares of fabric.  Sounds easy enough; right?  Well, not quite.  On top of many of those 2 inch squares, other little pieces of fabric needed to be added to make up the details of that particular grid square.  Some of the pieces I used ended up having up to 8 additional fabrics on the little square.

Here is a photo of the end product, minus the binding which I’m still working on.
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I just love the way it came out, but was it ever a lot of work.  I have literally worked on nothing else, except for longarm quilting a quilt for a friend, since I got home just before Memorial Day.  I dreamed about this project.  I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about how I was going to achieve a particular effect that I wanted.  I emailed Cheryl and whined when things weren’t turning out the way I expected. (By the way, Cheryl is a wonderful and patient teacher.  I recommend her Pet Mosaic class if you ever have the opportunity.  We were treated like queens at her home.)  I continually asked my dear husband’s (Quilter’s Support Staff) opinion.  I remade the nose three times.  I totally redid the eyes four times.  I remade the eyebrows once.  I was worried I would make a mess of the actual quilting. I agonized over some of the fabric choices.  It was like being in labor for three months.  It was worth it, but I suspect that making art quilts will go the way of paper piecing in my mind.  Never again.  I saw, I learned, I did, I redid.  I’m done!  I am glad I did it though.  It was a real challenge and helped me develop some skills that will come in handy in other quilting projects.

Here are a couple of closeups of the quilting that wasn’t nearly as challenging as I made it out to be in my mind.  The hardest part was remembering which direction the fur on Rottweilers lays because we lost our last one 5 years or so ago so I didn’t have one to pet.

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When I quilted the nose, I couldn’t see the thread on the fabric so I ended up going over the same spot several times trying to make a pebble effect.  The pebbles came out really well on the mustache area that you can see in the last photo, though, maybe because I got so much practice on the nose?

Now that this project is done, I can go sweep the cobwebs off the walls all over the house that have been ignored for so long, and maybe I can blog a little more often.

Stitching Outside the Lines

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At my local quilt guild retreat last fall, we had a strip exchange of 2 1/2 inch strips in fall colors.  I have been working on a quilt utilizing those strips that is a simple four-patch and half-square triangle design.  The above photo is some of the paired strips I had  left over after making all the four patches.  Originally, I just tossed them in my little bin that holds all 2 1/2 inch pieces to be used in future projects….then I got to thinking…what if????

What if I cut the paired strips so that they formed 4 1/2 inch squares and then stack two squares on top of each other right sides together and make a half-square triangle out of them.  Since I evidently can never have enough half square triangles in my quilting life, I decided to try it.  Here is the result:

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Very interesting.  Then I squared them up to 3 1/2 inches and started cutting up more paired strips and making HSTs out of them.  I tried putting them together in a few directions, but really liked this one the best.
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If you look carefully, you can see the outer pieces  give a mitered corner effect.

Here is what happens when I put another set of four next to the original set:

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I can imagine if you used fewer patterns with maybe a little more contrast that this might make an interesting quilt top.  In the above photo, if I had used a different fabric in the middle, then the tiny HSTs would have formed a more distinct windmill look.  Food for thought for future messing around with this technique.

As a disclaimer, I’m sure someone else must have tried this before, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it.  It’s a great way to use up leftovers or even to try a more planned look.  Have fun playing.