Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lots of International Siggies

It's been a banner week; I received 5 international siggies already!

This very french looking siggy is from Josette Bail in Marquise, France. I just love it! Josette's writing is gorgeous and the stampings appear to be hand-colored in at least four different colors. Exquisite! Josette told me in her letter that she lives near the "tunnel sous la Manche to go in England". It took me a moment to realize she was referring to the "Chunnel", a word which has probably been banned by the French word police - lol. I've read that all signage in France must conform to standard French, no french version of "Krispy Kreme" or "Qwik Wash" for them.

Here is a lovely siggy with a darling little embroidered purse on it from Elfriede Greslehner in Linz, Austria. I love the little flower with the yellow bead; it's so delicate. I wonder if Elfriede collects purses? Her letter had the prettiest over-sized stamp on it celebrating Pez candies. Can anyone tell me if that stamp is one of a series? I wish US stamps celebrated candy! lol

Here is Micki Butler's Irish harp siggy from Ireland. I've gotten to know Micki because she's been following my blog since she got my email a few weeks ago. She used to live in Texas but has since married an Irishman and moved to Dunfanaghy in County Donegal, Ireland. I love her siggy, which is a very unusual one. I had never seen one made like this before. Did you use a personalized iron-on transfer, Micki or is this a stamp? It's rather shiny, and this picture does not do it justice. The orange fabric is very pretty too; it actually DOES have the little waves in it, (those are usually scanner artifacts - lol). And I'll have to check, but I don't think I have another orange siggy, and I love orange!

This lovely little duck siggy is from Tonnie van der Borst in Rijsbergen, Netherlands. I would love to know if the duck was stamped or stenciled onto the fabric. It looks like it was stenciled, and I have never seen that done before!

I'm pretty sure that Tonnie's letter is telling me that she is sorry she doesn't speak English, but the rest of it is in Dutch (I think) so I can't be sure. Maybe someone can translate for me?

Dear Susan, Thank you for the siggy. Sorry maar ik schnjf geen Engels Sinds 20 jaar patch en quilt ik, meestat met de hand Nomaf oht 03 ben ik berig met de siggy niil en heb er +- 250 ontvemgen. Nog veel plezier met verzameler. Gnochen Tonnie

This very pretty rooster comes from Edda Bjork Hauksdottir in Iceland. It's lovely; the rooster looks to be very carefully cut from another fabric and ironed on. The embroidered flower is a very nice touch! The only unusual thing I see is that the siggy is completely anonymous. I don't know if Edda meant to leave it blank, or forgot to sign it (I've almost done that once or twice - caught myself stuffing an envelope with an unsigned siggy, oops!) I'm planning to ask her in an email soon, though if you would like to leave a comment for me, Edda, that would be wonderful! 8-)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Internation Siggy Swap - Vera Hayes

This pretty siggy arrived in the mail yesterday from England. I really like the autumn fabric, though it is odd that it arrived on the spring equinox, six months from now would have been more appropriate. lol

My scanner isn't talking to my computer anymore, and this is the first time I have photographed a siggy instead of scanning it. I think I like the photo better than the scan; it's certainly easier to do.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ohio Star Paper Piecing Tutorial

OK, first things first. In paper piecing there is a pattern drawn in ink on one side of the paper. All the sewing takes place on the pattern side of the paper and all the fabric is placed on the blank side of the paper. This is the pattern side, as you can see, the fabric is pinned to the other side of the paper... ALWAYS [Note: The pattern pieces are labeled in the order in which they are be sewn, that is, first sew A1 and A2 together, then add A3. It's much faster and easier to work all seven pattern sections at a single time, so that is what I have done.]

Second: For the Ohio Star, start by pinning the WHITE squares right side up to the blank side of the paper. They should be positioned so they COMPLETELY cover the #1 pattern piece in their section labeled A1, B1, C1 etc WHITE. By "Completely" I mean that when held up to the light, the fabric should extend out over both the bold inner sewing line and the lighter outer cutting line on ALL sides of the #1 pattern piece. Remember, the first piece of fabric in any given section ALWAYS gets pinned to the fabric with its RIGHT side up.

Third, note the color specified for the #2 pattern piece and place the second piece of fabric so it sits right sides together with the already pinned white fabric. Now pay attention, this is the hard part: the second piece has to be placed such that when you sew on the line between A1 and A2, it completely covers the #2 pattern section, including all the seam allowances. This picture shows all the #1 and #2 fabric pieces pinned right sides together waiting to be sewn.

To get the placement correct, I eyeball the fabric on the pattern side with the future seam allowance folded over, to get a feel for how much leeway I'm going to have with the piece. If it's a tight squeeze, I'll have to be VERY careful when pinning down the fabric.

I switch over to the fabric side of the paper, with the future seam allowance still folded over, to determine exactly where the fabric needs to be after it is sewn in place. As it is shown, the red piece will flip over to fully cover the pattern on the other side after it is sewn into place.

To determine exact placement, place the fold along the seam line, and, while carefully holding the seam allowance in place, allow the rest of the fabric to flip back for sewing.

Place a pin where it won't interfere with sewing the seam. At this point the two fabrics will be pinned right sides together and ready to be sewn together.

It's easier to see what it looks like after it has been sewn. Here C1 and C2 have already been sewn together. You can see that the light shadow of the White C1 fabric completely covers its triangle. I have folded over the blue C2 fabric piece over its seam line to verify that it completely covers the C2 pattern triangle including seam allowances. It does. If it didn't, I would have to rip out the seam, position the fabric better, then sew it again.

Getting back to the sewing part, you want to sew paper side up, right through the line between the #1 and #2 pattern pieces. Do NOT sew through the seam allowances. I normally position the needle right on the line, take a few stitches, then run in reverse a few stitches, then do the whole seam, ending with a few reverse stitches to hold the seam in place. Here I am sewing the first seam.
Remember, sew along the bold seam lines only, do not sew into the seam allowance.

Now that you have sewn your seam, you have to trim the initial seam allowance to 1/4 inch. To do this you fold the paper back along the seam line. It folds very easily because of the seam.

Fold the paper onto itself so the seam allowance you just created is dangling free.
Using your rotary cutter and a ruler, line up the quarter inch marking on the ruler with the fold of the paper, then trim the seam allowance to 1/4 inch.

You should have a nice 1/4 inch seam allowance when you're done. Now it's time to iron.

Iron the fabric nice and flat along the seam. None of the sections have been trimmed yet, you can separate the pattern sections whenever you want, but don't trim the individual sections until all fabric has been sewn, trimmed and ironed.

If the section you're doing has more than two pieces, attach the third piece to the second piece exactly as you did the first two. Leave all the paper in place, trimming only the seam allowances. Make SURE the second piece is laying perfectly flat against the paper while the third piece is being attached. If the fabric is distorted at all the design will be messed up and the pattern will not fit together correctly. Each subsequent piece that gets attached goes through the same process:
  1. Place and pin the fabric with right sides together on the blank side of the paper,
  2. Sew along the seam line on the pattern side of the paper,
  3. Fold the paper along the seam line away from the seam allowance,
  4. Trim the seam allowance to 1/4 inch,
  5. Iron the fabric flat so the right sides are facing outward.

When all the pieces of a section are completed and the final piece has been trimmed and ironed, then it's time to trim up the section. Line up the ruler along the outer light cutting line (NOT the SEAM LINE!!!) and trim off the excess paper and fabric both at the same time.

Trim all sides of the section, leaving the quarter inch seam allowance between the sewing line and the cutting line intact.

This is how it should look when you're done trimming:

You can see the pattern growing on the fabric side.

To assemble the star I had to line up the pieces using the pattern. This kept all the pieces right side up.

I flipped them over carefully and here is my Ohio Star, all ready to be carefully pinned and sewn together. More on that later.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Internation Siggy Swap - Ans van Baarle

I love this siggy! From the tiny little thimbles and scissors on the fabric to the cute little sewing basket stamp, it's all about handiwork, which is just as it should be for siggies. I looked up Pijnacker in The Netherlands. It seems to be a suburb of Delft, of blue and white china fame. It's also very close to The Hague, where the world courts are, which puts it very close to the sea as well. I'm just happy to get it at all! My return siggies seem to be taking a long time to arrive, but perhaps I'm just too impatient! I love getting soft packages in the mail; they're always a treat.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dallas Quilt Celebration 2009 - Awesome!

We had a really good time at the quilt show. There was certainly lots to see! We took lots of pictures. Here is the slideshow. I bought all sorts of stuff. I covered three months worth of presents for my secret pal, got a "Big Board" ironing board which is very similar to the thing I've been asking Larry to make me for months now (he was thrilled to be off the hook), the latest Chiaverini and Ferris novels, some beautiful quilt cards, one of Joy's lovely hand-dyed pastel fat quarter collections, and a Flynn Mulit-Frame System for quilting large quilts on my home sewing machine.

Here's an absolutely wonderful Dear Jane, a virtual replica of the original. It came up winless in this show. Are they getting tired of us, do you think?

Here is one of Larry's favorites. The texture on this bird was awesome. The bird reminded us of Fawkes, the phoenix in the Harry Potter series.

Larry really liked this one too. His favorite color (by far) is blue. I thought it was pretty amazing too!

We both really liked the best in show. I certainly thought it was an excellent choice for that award. It showed the most creativity coupled with the highest level of technical expertise of any quilt in the show. Look at how much depth it shows, and how perfectly flat it hangs! Larry wasn't as impressed as I was (not enough blue, I think). It had stiff competition, but it was definitely the cream of an excellent crop. I took multiple closeup photos of this work; they are displayed early in the slideshow.

This one was wicked cool too. The pieces on this miniature are incredibly small. That piece of paper is the standard 8.5"x11" sheet that all the quilts are shown with. It very deservedly won the blue ribbon for best miniature. Oh yeah, her dimensional embroidery is phenomenal too. Mission Impossible she called it? Apparently not!

We rounded out this lovely, if tiring, afternoon with a fabulous meal at Craft, located in the W hotel in downtown Dallas. The food was amazing, as usual, and the service is unlike anything I have ever experienced anywhere else. We stayed at the W for Christmas a year ago, when Larry's job wouldn't let him go out of town over the holiday. Craft was new then, and was already quite wonderful, but it has gotten even better since then. The meltingly delicious shortribs, the perfectly sauted broccoli, the to die for lemon crepes. Sigh. It's a good thing it is 50 miles away and shockingly expensive, or I would be another 100 pounds overweight, but once a year? C'est parfait!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dallas Quilt Celebration 2009

My husband and I were reading the Dallas Morning News yesterday when he showed me the Dallas Quilt Celebration was on the cover of the Guide Live section. The show is at Dallas Market Hall through this weekend. I meant to mention it yesterday at the Blanketeers meeting, but after I passed out the block kits and gave the paper piecing tutorial, I forgot all about it. Oh well. Then after work, out of the blue, my husband asked me if I wanted to go to Dallas for the quilt show! I was surprised; Larry is really wonderful, but not often THAT wonderful. lol He was serious (I wasn't sure at first) and he handled all the logistics, since it's at multiple venues all over Dallas. I'm not sure how many places we'll get to, because we can't leave until noon, but I'll have a full report when I get back. I'm hoping they allow pictures, because Larry offered to be my photographer.

Two of my favorite vendors, Joy's Fabrics & Quilts and Cabbage Rose will be there. I was just at Cabbage Rose last Friday, but I never see Joy anymore, and she used to work in the same building I do. We used to run into each other in the bathroom there, in fact, that's how we met. lol Now I only see her at quilt shows. Joy's hand dyed fabric selection is unbeatable. The green in the Big Top Dear Jane block I finished last Sunday is one of hers. It remains the most beautiful green fabric I have ever seen; I'm going to try to get some more today!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Quilts of Valor Block Kits

This is what I have been doing this week instead of posting to my blog. The Blanketeers are meeting tomorrow and I said I would have block kits ready for people to take home and piece. I tried to keep them as simple as possible, since many of the Blanketeers have never paper-pieced before. I made up ten kits, with pieces already rough cut. Larry helped me keep all the various blues and reds nicely randomized.

I made up one block myself to proof the concept. It's still in large pieces, but it looks very pretty. Larry took pictures of each step of the process and I'm going to compile them into a blog tutorial over the weekend. It's going to take some time, since he took LOTS of pictures, but I think it will be a big help to the novices to see their exact pattern being paper-pieced. BTW I REALLY should have moisturized before Larry took the closeups of my hands. I'll never make a hand model with my rough fingernails and lizard skin!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

BOW Challenge Complete - F1 Bigtop

Well, I checked. I'm now 10, 0,0, 146. It took me long enough, I last completed a BOW challenge on May 4, 2008, that's ten months ago. This one was really hard. Tricky paper piecing, followed by nasty old applique. And the fabric was so stiff with starch, it was like appliquing cardboard. But it's done now, and I'm not going to redo it. I'll just enjoy the accomplishment with 45 minutes to spare. lol

International Siggy Swap - Johanna "Joke" Faber

This lovely moose comes from Johanna Faber of Sweden. These siggies are very educational! I learned that Sweden calls itself Sverige, and that Söderhamn is on the Gulf of Bothnia, which is the gulf off of the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden, or should I say, between Suomi and Sverige. It looks lovely, if this site is any indication. Söderhamn is on the coast of southern Hälsingland, which is a province of Sweden. It would be lovely to visit there someday, but in June, not March!

I was looking up Söderhamn , when I discovered that there are islands between Finland and Sweden (who knew?). They are tiny little Baltic bits called Åland (pronounced o-land) and have a very interesting history. They speak Swedish, but have been an autonomous part of Finland since 1921. The most interesting thing I read was this: "The islanders enjoyed safety at sea during WWII as their merchant fleet sailed for both the allied countries and the Germans. Consequently Åland shipping was not generally attacked as each side rarely knew what cargo was being carried for whom." Fascinating; and I didn't even know they were there.

Quilt of Valor Quilt Shop Hop

On Friday, members of the Bee Blanketeers met at The Berry Patch quilt shop in southwest Fort Worth to select red, white and blue fabrics for the Quilt of Valor we are making as a group. Here we all are with our selections: from left, me, Mary, Rachel, Sheila and Virginia.

We found a gorgeous white fabric with a very subtle pattern, three lovely blue fabrics with a wonderfully soft hand, and a red fabric that was so pretty we decided to get it even if it didn't coordinate with the reds at our next stop. A special "thank you" goes to Stacy, a long-term employee at the Berry Patch, who gave us an unsolicited 10% discount after finding out this was a QOV quilt and who took this picture.

Our next stop was Cabbage Rose, where we found all the beautiful reds our hearts could desire. They all coordinated very well with the Berry Patch red, which I'm holding here. We ended up getting four more reds, for a total of 1 white, 3 blues and 5 reds. This should keep our Ohio Stars looking nice and random, with lots of possible red/blue combinations, while still presenting a very integrated design.

We bought LOTS of extra fabric (I hope). Many of us are new to paper piecing, and you know how that goes! It was very encouraging to us new beesters that we were able to easily agree on fabric choices. I was a little concerned that we would have to fend off advocates of pinky-red, purply-blue and red-orange, but that situation never arose. We all had a surprisingly united vision of how we want the quilt to look. Thanks also go to the ladies at Cabbage Rose, who could not have been more helpful. Once again, they gave us an unsolicited 10% discount and took this picture for us so we could all be in the shot.

Monday, March 2, 2009

First Ever Blanketeer Bee

The first ever Blanketeer Bee was held yesterday afternoon at my house. It was lots of fun, though absolutely no stitching was accomplished and I forgot to take any pictures. We discussed making our first ever Quilt of Valor quilt using paper piecing techniques. The Electric Quilt 6 quilt that I had designed for this group effort was a bit too large, so I made the following changes: 1) The three striped outer borders were reduced in size and combined into one larger blue border, with a red 1/2" binding, and 2) The large blocks were reduced in size from 8" square down to 7" square. The cornerstones remain the same size (6" square).

The final dimensions of the quilt are 69"x69", which is well within the 72"x87" maximum allowed size. The Quilts of Valor website indicates that 54"x67" is their ideal size, and if we wanted to, we *could* lop off an entire row of large and small blocks, which would bring the quilt to about 56"x69". However, I LOVE square quilts; I think they look really nice. So, unless we get to the point where we would rather kill ourselves than piece one more Ohio Star block, I hope we decide to keep the quilt square.

On a happy EQ6 note, the 7"x7" block still takes two pages of foundation paper to print, but I learned how to drag and drop the sections so we won't have to tape any of the sections together.

Now I just need to know that everyone agrees to the changes I made before we go out and buy the fabric on Friday. Please leave a comment or send an email if you agree to the changes I made, or if you have any further alterations in mind. It's very easy to make changes at this point. The only thing I remember everyone agreed to was removing the white from the border because it would tend to quickly get dirty.

Also, be sure to check out Brandy's blog. She's already got the parameters for the silent auction quilt posted. I'm really hoping we go with pastels for that one!