Sunday, December 26, 2010

On the Second Day of Christmas...

We had a really nice time in Shreveport: lovely Christmas Eve service, where Larry's Dad, Stan, sang in the choir, followed by a dinner party with Stan's girlfriend, Sabra, and her whole family. That might seem like a pretty remote connection, but even though this was the first time we had met anyone besides Sabra, they were very nice and we had lots of fun. 8)
Last year, my sister, Cindi, gave me a lovely felted wool snowman Christmas kit and a stack of coordinating flannel fat quarters. Here's the wool.
I loved working with the felted wool for the puppy dog pincushion. This looked like lots of fun too, only there were 36 (yes 36!) tiny little flannel log cabins that had to be made first. Thankfully, they are not at THIS stage anymore.
I worked and worked (wasn't I supposed to be resting?) and got all 36 of the little blighters done. Here is my first shot at arranging the log cabin blocks. You can see in the picture that the wool design extends out to cover a few of the log cabin blocks, so they have to be ready first. I'm only going to sew together the row of blocks that gets overlapped, so I don't have to embroider the center while holding the whole quilt top.
I'm going to replace the corner snowflakes with Christmas trees. I don't like the bright white snowflake color, and they look like way too much trouble anyway. I think Christmas trees will look much better.
I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas Day. Remember, the 12 Days of Christmas only just STARTED yesterday, they run through the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th. It always makes me so sad to see real Christmas trees pitched out on the afternoon of the 25th, just as the real Christmas season is getting started.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dinosaur Panel Quilt - Simple Quilting Techniques

After about 2 weeks of recuperation, I finally felt strong enough to manhandle this flannel quilt around under my machine. I did simple stitch-in-the-ditch on the inner black and brown borders. Here it is, all done except for the binding. Instead of my usual stippling, I outlined the dinosaurs in dark blue, then simply channel stitched the border, seen below on the back of the quilt.
This quilt demonstrates that very easy quilting techniques may be used to good effect on a domestic machine. Our charity long-arm quilter recently had to recuse herself from participation, which caused some concern because hardly anyone likes to stipple but me.
I used the backing flannel for the binding. (Note to self: ALWAYS press binding seams wide open to avoid big flannel lumps.) It took me longer to bind this quilt than it did to quilt it. And the pins really had it in for me. I got a ding on my palm that still hurts today. lol

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stitching and Healing

I decided to start small and recuperate from surgery last week by stitching tiny projects, then as my Vicodin is reduced, work up to something more challenging. These were the easiest kits I had on hand, and they worked up very quickly.
Except for the name I actually had the stitching done on the cardinal a long time ago. I decided to give it to my sister, so I personalized and finished it in about 1/2 hour. BTW My family rarely reads my blog, so this should still be a surprise present. lol Now I just have to decide who gets the other two, then I'll make them up as well. 8)
I bought this wool pincushion kit at the The Quilted Apple in Phoenix this past fall. Everyone is right, wool is really fun to work with. I made it yesterday. I think it turned out adorable. I'm planning to give it to Larry's Grandma; she's 99 years old and still loves to make and receive handmade crafts.
BTW I have proof now that needlework kits don't "go bad". The sticker on the Christmas stocking cross-stitch kits read 1990. I still remember buying them at the Art Galleries at Bahia Mar on Padre Island. I was 29 then and they cost $1.50 each. Those days are GONE, but the kits live on. 8)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Two Big Winners at the Houston Quilt Festival

Sue McCarty of Roy, Utah, who did the fabulous Tolkien quilt from last year, won big again this year with "Meditation", which won the "Superior Threads Master Award for Thread Artistry"($5000). Last year Ms. McCarty won a similar prize for Tolkien, PLUS the Viewers' Choice award. Her Tolkien quilt still ranks as the single most amazing quilt I've ever seen anywhere, but the quilting on her "Meditation" really rocks too. 8)

My other favorite of the big winners was "Tea with Miss D." by Sandra Leichner of Albany, Oregon. Ms. Leichner's quilt is simply charming! "Tea with Miss D." won the Fairfield Master Award for Contemporary Artistry ($5000). This rather unassuming little quilt is incredibly special in so many ways.

Let's start with the back for a change, shall we? Have you ever seen such a darling label? It's an invitation to a tea party!

She made realistic looking tea bags for the quilt by using both french knots and buttons, then covered them with organza. They look so real! The bowl of all the teaspoons are triple appliqued to give the illusion of depth.The attention to detail on this quilt is unbelievable. There's piping, buttons, embroidery, applique, and absolutely gorgeous quilting, yet it remains dainty and charmingly artless, with an "Oh this? It's just something I threw together last week." sort of appeal. Absolutely delectable!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dear Janes at Houston!

I saw two exceptional Dear Janes at the Houston International Quilt Festival this past weekend. The first one was "Jane Through the Centuries" by Nancy Ryder, quilted by Cat Marion. You would recognize this stunning "Jane" in a heartbeat.

This traditional version was a premier member of the Texas Guilds' Award Winning Traditional Quilts, non-judged exhibition. I was very impressed by the skill level demonstrated by ALL the Texas ladies in this exhibition.

I didn't even recognize "Jeepers... It's Jane!" by Beth Schillig of Columbus, OH as a daughter quilt until I read the placard. What a stunner, and so impressively innovative. Ms. Schillig really made this Jane her own. It was placed appropriately enough in the "Mixed Technique" field, where it failed to take a ribbon, but won high praise from everyone who saw it.The colors were delightful and her technical ability was superb. There's nothing like making a Dear Jane to really hone those fine quilting skills. 8) Lovely!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

October Finish

I got the pansies and leopard quilt bound yesterday. I'm so pleased with the way it turned out.
I know some little child is going to just love the leopard Minkee, which almost makes up for the enormous PITA it was to stipple. lol It just would NOT move around smoothly at all!
This was mostly a scrap quilt. The pansies are from the "cigarette smoke" collection of 2008.

The purples are multiple fat quarters (and smaller) from my stash.
And the orange water colors are from the Las Vegas remnant bag cram of 2008.

September (yes September) Finish

Fortunately Kris at Tagalong Teddies believed me that I REALLY DID finish something in September. I made this purse from the "Got Pockets?" pattern before we went on vacation in Scottsdale.
I really wanted to make a purse using the beautiful Minnesota batik fabric that my brother-in-law bought for my birthday last year ALL BY HIMSELF. I should have looked more carefully at the pattern because after I got started I realized that it had 42 (yes, 42) pattern pieces. Yikes! I got them all cut out and labeled:
And got the piles all sorted and numbered:
And before too long I had it all assembled. It really does have LOTS of nice pockets.

With lots of cool zippers.

It went together quickly; however, I followed the pattern a little TOO closely, and the pattern has a definite error in one of the pictures. My purse is "unique" in that the straps go across the body of the purse, instead of along each side. Sigh. This makes it impossible to shift up over your shoulder. That's what I get for following the pattern uncritically. I should know better by now!

Now I'm on the lookout for some nice leather straps. I'll cut off the existing handles, leaving tabs, then attach the leather straps the "correct" way.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Quilt of Valor Top Complete.... Finally!

The Quilt of Valor top that the Blanketeers have been working on for more than a year is finally complete; meaning I FINALLY finished putting it together. Two weeks ago it looked like this:

With most of the quilt just in strips and with paper still on the one block that is standing up.

Now it is all together, borders and everything. I think it looks terrific! Thanks to all the women who made it possible. I don't think I've ever worked on anything so large; it ended up being 68" x 68".
Sheila (bless her heart!) agreed to iron it. I ironed it just enough to put it together, but it really needs a complete pressing before we send it off to a Quilt of Valor quilter, whom I still have to locate.
I also have to find some backing fabric, 4.25 yards of it, to be exact. We looked all over the Trinity Valley Quilt show for some yesterday, but no luck. The show was terrific, but I was told there were about 20 fewer vendors there than usual, and the variety of reds and patriotic fabrics was limited - so the hunt continues!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dinosaur Panel Quilt

And then there's the dinosaur panel quilt that I bought as a kit in Austin on the shop hop last year. I was very taken by the vibrant colors and thought it might be fun to work with flannel for a change.
It wasn't until I opened up the kit that I realized it was meant to be a wall hanging rather than a quilt. It was way too long and narrow to be a quilt! I got around this by making the outer two borders wider on the sides and narrower on the top and bottom. A few inches each way was all it took.
Aren't these fellows cute? I really love the vibrant colors. Since it was flannel, I decided not to pre-wash. Flannel wears out so quickly as it is. I'll wash it before it gets donated though, probably in ice water with multiple color catchers. lol
I haven't decided if I'm going to stipple it or try to outline it. If I do decide to do outline quilting, it definitely won't be with clear thread again. That was such a pain to work with!

Monday, September 6, 2010

French Braid Baby Quilt

Here is another quilt on my to-do list. The Blanketeers inherited a bunch of small pieces of fabric in several tonal colorways, yellow, pink and blue. I immediately thought of the book "French Braid Obsession" by Jane Hardy Miller. I have never made a french braid quilt before, but I absolutely love the look. I'm starting with the yellow colorway. I spent hours getting the different tones in the "right" order.

I'm planning a simple braid border around an ivory center square. I have not decided exactly how the center will be embellished, but it will be kid-friendly. Unfortunately this quilt keeps getting re-prioritized lower and lower, but I'll get to it eventually. 8)

Bright Pansies, Purple & Green Baby Quilt

I'm so behind with my posting, but for a long time I have wanted to make several short posts to have pictures to go along with my "Works in Progress" list. I finally got "Bright Pansies" sandwiched and ready to quilt. I think it's going to be an absolute knock-out with the leopard Minkee!
I used up almost my entire collection of purple and indigo fat quarters making this quilt. And I don't have even a smidgen left of the pansy fabric or the orange batik. In fact...
...if you look closely, you'll see I had to piece the square in the very corner in order to have enough orange squares to make the quilt. The orange corner square is 3 strips of fabric sewn together. You'll never see it on a galloping horse, is my motto!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dog Agility Trials in Fort Worth

Now, Larry & I don't even have a dog anymore, but we love watching dog agility trials on TV. So when we saw that they were holding trials locally, we had to check it out. I brought my camera and you can see my slide show of dogs flying through the air. I don't know any of the dogs or any of the people, but they ALL impressed me a lot! Here are some of my best shots.
The little shelties were so excited they were like coiled springs at the starting gate. They tended to make more errors of enthusiasm than mistakes. 8)

Then there were the little powder puff balls who zoomed around the course with almost as must skill as their working cousins. Impressive amounts of work had to go into making these little darlings show so well in the ring, since they were mostly bred to look beautiful.

This little guy could really jump! Look at the extension on his hind legs.
We didn't stay for the award presentation, but I'm guessing the border collies did very well. They were as enthusiastic as their sheltie brethren, but seemed a little less excitable. Congratulations to everyone who worked their dogs; my hat goes off to you! And special kudos to the Boxer Rescue League who ran all the events.
BTW Feel free to copy any of the doggie pictures.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

August Completion: All done!

Here it is, all done. I love the polka-dot border. I think it really sets the quilt off nicely. I've finally learned exactly how to apply a 2 1/2" single fold binding to get the best results. Took me long enough! 8)
Here are the three appliques. I don't think you can tell that they are structural components too. And BTW did this quilt ever shrink! I don't know what was in that batting, but it lost at least 3" in either direction. I've never heard of such a thing! That's more like 8% than 5% shrinkage. It got extra soft too, especially the flannel.
And here's my Sweetie Pie, looking for all the world like the next door neighbor in Home Improvement. He's such a big help to me. 8)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Done Stippling - YEAH!

Last night I got all the stippling done and got it squared up. It always looks so much better when the rough edges are cut off.
I'm liking how it's turning out. I think the brown polka-dot binding will make a nice accent and call attention to the circle appliques.
I thought I would get started on the binding tonight, but that's not going to happen. I worked late, then went to the gym this evening and swam. Now I'm almost too tired to type. 8)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tight stippling takes FOREVER!

I love to stipple. It's like doodling, and I've always loved to doodle. But I had forgotten how long it takes to do a really tight stipple like this.
This may well be the smallest stipple I've ever done on a quilt top. Believe me, it needs the extra strength! I kept finding more weak seams as I went on.
I think the polka dot binding will really bring out the applique patches. I was lucky to find such a snazzy coordinating fabric.
This is where it's at now. I would say it's about 90% stippled - 5 bobbins worth. All that enormous Minkee stippling made me forget how much thread can be consumed by such a small quilt!
I should be able to easily finish all the stippling tomorrow. All that's left then is to bind it, label it, wash it and dry it. I definitely want to have it ready for the Blanketeer meeting this Friday. I haven't finished anything in ages and I have to set a good example. 8)