Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hoppy Easter

I know I make these softies a lot - but they are just so stinking cute and easy.  And my kids LOVE them!  I used the Peg Bear pattern from One Yard Wonders to make Peg bunnies:
Of course, I couldn't resist little rabbit tales:
Here they are with their new toys:
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What Do You Do Wtih All of Those Quilts?

I often get asked, "What do you with all of your quilts?"  Admittedly, having 34+ quilts to show at last night's guild meeting did make me feel a bit ridiculous.  And in my defense, I have postponed sending some as gifts to specific people because I wanted to use them for that meeting.  
Sometimes when people ask me why I make so many quilts (and what do I do with them?) - I feel a little defensive.  I think they might wondering, "How does she have the space/time/energy?" and I feel that there is an implied judgment, "She has nothing better to do."  "She must be neglecting other things."  (Well yes, the housework often gets pushed to the side, I must admit).  Of course - 99% of people don't have unkind motives when they ask that question - most of them are probably just curious. 
I must say that we do use my quilts a lot.  I like rotating them and having something different to sleep under frequently.  Having more than one quilt for each child comes in handy too.  So my usual reply to the title question is, "We use them."
But now- I am starting to ask myself that question - "What am I going to do with all of those quilts?"  This issue is especially pertinent lately because our family has been anticipating/working for an across-the-country move (Colorado Springs if you're wondering - and if you're from that area - please comment and tell me about the modern quilting scene out there!).  I am going to give some away and may even put a few on  We'll see how it goes.  But in the meantime - there is always some great fabric around to create more:

This is the AWESOME haul I came home with at the little guild sale from last night.  Fat quarters were .50 cents and yardage was $2 a yard.  I came home with 5 yards of black Kona, lots of little solids bundles, some AH pumpkin fabric my kids already love, and lots of great black and whites- I have my sights on making something like this soon.  I have never been to a "yard sale" type setting that sold fabric I actually really liked - so this was a total score.  I also came home with loads of free cross-stitch fabric I plan to mostly pass on to my sister who has become addicted to the hobby. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Chelmsford Quilt Guild Presentation

Tonight I gave a presentation on modern quilting as well as "my quilting journey" to the Chelmsford Quilt Guild.  My mom kindly babysat the kids and my husband came with me to help transport the 34 (!) quilts and show them during my talk.  I was a little nervous initially but it was fun and I soon became more comfortable.  People were very kind afterwards and gave me words of encouragement.  One lady said my talk was, "very interesting," in a tone of voice that made me wonder if it was actually a compliment :)  But it was good and fun and really not hard to talk about what I love and am passionate about.

In preparing for this, I looked at several books and websites to find the hallmarks or traits of modern quilts.  I thought you all might be interested in reading the list I put together.  The sources I used include the MQG website, Sunday Morning Quilts, an article on the Modern Quilt Guild in the 1st issue of Quilty, Modern Designs for Classic Quilts, and Liberated Quiltmaking II.  I felt like I was writing a term paper! 

Here's the list I made of things that modern quilts often are or sometimes include:

  • Minimal fusing – appliqué is not very dominant or used very often
  • Are inspired by modern art or architecture
  • Throwback of very, very traditional quilting
  • Make primarily functional rather than decorative quilts
  • Internet driven projects (quilt-alongs, flickr, pinterest, etc.)
  • Use asymmetry in quilt design
  • Rely less on repetition and on the interaction of quilt block motifs
  • Utilize alternative block structures or lack of visible block structure
  • Contain reinterpreted traditional blocks
  • Embrace simplicity and minimalism
  • Incorporate increased use of negative space
  • No borders
  • Frequently use improvisational piecing/design as you go/use what you have
  • Multiple-fabric pieced backings
  • Contain bold colors, on trend color combinations and graphic prints
  • Often use gray and white as neutrals
  • Reflect an increased use of solid fabrics
  • Focus on finishing quilts on home sewing machines (rarely pay for someone else to quilt them)
  • Large scale- quilt is one large block of made from a handful of large blocks.
  • Celebrity designer fabrics are very popular/sought after
  • Bold fabrics, single fabric line quilts:
  • Novelty, large-scale, and graphic prints- color in action, clear and bright colors, no earth or jewel tones, non-conventional color combinations
  • Extremely dense quilting
  • Fairly simple piecing – focus on fabric, not block design
  • Use of different kinds of fabrics – quilting cottons, velveteen, linen, muslin, etc.
Did I miss anything?
P.S.  Hello to any CQG members visiting my blog.  If you are also interested in the BMQG - you can find more information here.  We'd love to have you join at us at any of our meetings. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Stacks Improv

Remember this stack of fabric?  After being worn out from hours of ironing and endless pinning with the clamshell top - I decided to let myself indulge in an easy project for now:
The blue floral is a Nani Iro splurge I bought during my trip to Denver last fall.  The rest are stash fabrics - including a nice yard sale find (the darkest green). 
I almost made the quilt dominantly pink but I started with the green because if Charlotte ends up keeping this one - I want her to have something that is something besides pink.  Nick helped me decide that green was the way to go - he was home all day yesterday because of another snow day. 

Here's the completed quilt top- there wasn't a lot of planning involved and I am pretty happy with the results.  I think this kind of "pattern" would be nice done up as a larger quilt (shocking coming from me, I know).  But if you had a large scale print that you just loved - it would be a nice way to showcase it with a bunch of solids and a few low-impact prints.

I kind of want to have this done in time for my March 25 "Trunk Show" I will be presenting at my traditional guild.  They have asked me to focus on modern quilting and I don't think it will hurt to show them something that is a little bit "out of the box."  I will let you know how the evening goes - I am actually looking forward to it and not nervous at all (even though there are over 125 members!)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Retreat Accomplishments

I went to the retreat exhausted (thanks to my kids, for giving us less than 4 hours of sleep before I left!) and came back exhausted - but it was a "good" exhausted because I had a great time.  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, so this post has shots I took when I came home. 
I spent most of my time working on what what was soon dubbed, "the clamshell monstrosity."  It is probably the least enjoyable project I have ever worked on but the frustration was softened by being surrounded and cheered on by friends.  This project is an adaptation from a clamshell pattern found in Sandi Henderson's book, Sewing Bits and Pieces.  I started this project in July 2011 and it was abandoned till last week.  I came to the retreat with the partially begun quilt top completely taken apart, 105+ clamshells precut, a large piece of prewashed muslin, and lots of tinfoil and spray starch.   

I am SO happy I got it all done - if it hadn't been for the "special-ness" of the Mendocino fabric (you can't find a fat quarter on ebay or etsy for less than $10!) and the retreat - I would probably have had to relegate all those lovely clamshells to the scrap basket!  Now I need to add borders and get quilting.

Surprisingly, I still had a bit of time to return to this project with the string blocks and hexagons.  Jen helped me with my "lining up" issue and by the second attempt - I had a near perfect block.  I don't have the time or patience to redo the less perfect ones but I am sure the last twelve will be great. 

Retreat was just awesome!  I love hanging out with my guild peeps and seeing what they are working on.  Even though we all come from such diverse backgrounds and have different tastes, we really do "speak the same language."  I really wish I could've come the extra day (Thursday instead of Friday) so that I could've relaxed a little more and socialized even more - but overall, it was a great experience.  We even shared the gym with my traditional guild that I have been a part of - a group from Chelmsford- and they were a lot of fun too.

Anyway, what trip to Maine would be complete without a visit to Marden's?  We also snuck into a NH Joann's where I found some DS Quilts prints that are not stocked in my local Joann's.  Here's a picture of my goodies:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Stacks of Fabric

 I hope to tackle some of my WIPs and UFOs this weekend at the annual BMQG retreat.  I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas to come - I am so excited to get away for a bit and have unlimited sewing time. 
I may even allow myself to cut into a new project.  I have been excited to try something like this quilt made by Denyse Schmidt with these fabrics below:

I have also had this quilt sitting on the brain for a while - combining Greenfield Hill fabrics with the Ghastlies collections is pure genious!  I asked Jamie if she minded if I copied her and she said she was fine with it. 

So much fabric so little time!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

UFO's and WIPs

For me, there is a difference between a UFO and a WIP.  A UFO - or UnFinished Object - is a project that I abandoned because I didn't love it and/or it had become too difficult/cumbersome to deal with. A WIP - Work in Progress - is a project that I am steadily working on, I am usually enjoying it, and I am more likely to attend to it from beginning to end without a lot of stalling.
These are my current WIP's:
My Little Apples string blocks:
I am getting frustrated with my inability to line up the corners of the red/pink strings.  My last attempt at measuring and being very precise was horrible - my "eyeballing it" attempts have actually been better.  If anyone has any suggestions/tips - please do tell!  Here's one of the worst ones: 

 Now and then, I make a few selvedge blocks, 17 are completed so far:
I recently pulled this pile of fabrics:
and I got as far as making my own custom layer cake (about 140, ten inch squares).  I plan to do a large version of the Krackle quilt.
Onto my remaining three UFO's:
This Mendocino clamshell quilt is very frustrating for me.  I could've started a college fund by reselling these fabrics - but instead, I cut a bunch of them up and made a big mess of it by allowing each row of the design to spread out farther and farther.  I have since seam-ripped the whole thing and would like to re-consider this debacle as a new project after I add a bunch of stash prints and start again:
My last two UFO's are hexagon projects.  I have this quilt top, seen here.  It just needs to be quilted and bound.  And then I have several of these flower garden blocks - I have a patchwork-y plan in mind but it will take a while before I get to it:
It feels good to have dramatically reduced my UFO pile but I just wish they were all done.  I will keep you updated on my progress.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Quilty Feature and Thoughts

Yesterday evening was a bit chaotic when I had to do last minute errands to the post office and grocery store.  I hardly gave it a second thought when I saw that the UPS had made a delivery.  When I finally slowed down and opened the package, I was thrilled to see a copy of the newest issue of Quilty:

On age 83, my Princess improv quilt is featured!  I love what they did with it and feel so honored to be part of the publication.  (I forgot to mention this earlier - but I was also interviewed for an article for last month's issue about participating in modern guilds.  I was quoted (gushing?) in reference to my positive experience in making friendships within the BMQG).  Quilty is the first quilting magazine that I feel is actually accessible for me: it covers quilting topics that are relevant to me and I really like the patterns they publish.  I also love that they frequently feature quilts made out of "stash" rather than constantly promoting specific fabric companies by only featuring quilts made out of one fabric collection or another. 

I also feel honored to be featured in the same issue as my good guild friend, Emily Blatt.  Isn't her quilt stunning?  The design is so simple but the exocution of the fabric choices and placement is genious:
The opportunity to have our quils featured in Quilty was thanks to Mary and Marianne Fons visit to the Lowell Quilt Festival last summer.  They toured our BMQG show and visited with the small group that had been manning the exhibit.  It was so much fun to meet them and you couldn't help but feel excited to get back to your machine after chatting with them. 

Mary Fons spoke at the recent convention, QuiltCon. has uploaded her presentation and anyone can watch it for free here.  If you don't have time to listen to it (but I assure you it's well worth it!), here are the key points I took away from listening:
  • We are at a critical juncture within the quilting industry when the average age of the quilter is static (age 70) and home economics (where so many are introduced to sewing) is not being taught in the schools. 
  • Careful attention and senstivity towards the beginning quilter is crucial.  We must be welcoming and encouraging and start with the basics when it comes to educating the newbies.
  • Be accepting of other's tastes and styles - in the blogosphere - the phrase is, "It's okay to not like things, but don't be a jerk about it." 
  • There will always be different trends in quilting but the bottomline is (quoting Marianne), "When anyone makes a quilt, it's a good thing."
I felt renewed after listening to Mary's presentation.  Recently I have done some reevaluating of my quilting style and preferences as well as the way that I want to approach blogging.  For me, it comes down to this quote that I recently came across, "I just want to make beautiful things even if nobody cares."  That doesn't mean that I am not psyched to be featured in Quilty and winning the Andover contest wasn't awesome- but at the end of the day, I want to quilt and sew simply because I love it.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Two more finishes

I have finally felt in the mood to finish several UFO's - the Blogger's Blockapalooza quilt was an easy finish by simply stippling it on my home machine.  This quilt was part of a quiltalong I participated in a few years ago using a bunch of Hushabye fabrics.   
Even though it's really no longer my style or taste- I am proud of it because it was a lot of work and shows that I was willing to try some new techniques. 

Here's another finish - an easy 5" patchwork quilt.  I assembled this through strip piecing quite a while ago.  When I chose the fabrics - I didn't pay enough attention to "value." In some lighting - the quilt seems washed out and overall, it's kind of uninteresting.

I had also cut way too much fabrics for the top - so I ended up putting a bunch of squares down the middle of the back.  This picture makes the pieced strip look off-center but it's more a function of a poor photo.  (I just didn't want to wade through all of the snow in my parent's backyard!)  I stippled this on a longarm.

I might sound a little depressed about these two quilts - but really, I am just happy to finally have them done.  Even though they are not my favorites - it's still satisfying to finish them up. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Three Finishes

Thanks to everyone for their kind birthday wishes for Charlotte.  The day I wrote that post and complained about her sleeplessness- she started sleeping 8pm-8am uninterrupted!  It's been going on a full week now - somebody pinch me.....
I am excited that I have finished three quilts within the past week:

I decided to share my most favorite finish first, the DS 36-Patch.  It measures about 90 x 108.  I did a double loop squiggle (technical term) at the longarm quilter's studio to finish it up.  It is backed and bound in two Hope Valley prints that I got on a super sale over the winter. 
The funniest thing about this quilt is that I didn't really like it until I put it on my bed.  I just think it looks great when it's in use - I had my doubts all along as I was piecing and quilting it.  It's so traditional and this has made me realize how much strength there is in simple, classic patterns.  I also love, love, love Denyse Schmidt fabrics - some of them seem kind of ugly but then you use them and it's like, "wow - that's a genious print." 
Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 04, 2013

Charlotte Turns One and Pantone Entry

My youngest had her first birthday over the weekend.  This is a picture of her screaming at the cake - she looks distressed because we aren't giving her a piece of cake fast enough - seriously.  You can easily see the handmade bib I made for the occasion:

I am just glad I have "survived" this past year- having a second baby was much harder for me than I had anticipated.  It took me about 6 months to come out of what I am sure was postpartum depression, nursing her was horrible at times, and she still isn't sleeping through the night consistently.   Just trying to keep it real here folks - of course she is a delight and I love her to pieces - but motherhood is hard!  Since she is a leap year baby - we celebrated her birthday on the 28th and the 1st.  Dinner with my parents and cake and presents were prescribed for one day and the next morning- I snuck away to longarm a quilt and finally redeem a manicure gift card I had stashed away.......
This quilt was Charlotte's main present as well as a doll and a stuffed lamb.  She now has about five quilts- it's just too fun to sew for a girl!
The administrator of the Pantone Emerald Quilt Challenge suggested I enter this into the contest, so I am linking this post up with her challenge here.  It measures 47 x55 and the pattern is Cub Crawl by John Adams from the Fat Quarterly book.  If you have made a quilt recently with green in it (and it's okay to have another color too) - consider entering - it's easy!
Here's a progress shot of the Little Apples Hexie quilt that will also be Charlotte's someday, these string blocks are too fun:
Thanks for reading!