Friday, August 28, 2009

Seaside Piecemakers Mystery is solved!

I had a wonderful time in Satellite Beach with the Seaside Piecemakers!
This guild is 300 members strong. Visit them at their website to learn all about their many charity and other activities.
They have a quilt show next year on March 12 & 13...and don't miss their fabulous opportunity quilt!

The day started with "Taming the Scrap Basket", and I am happy to say nobody passed out when I revealed the quilt top I have to keep hidden in a bag during the lecture. Not all scrap quilts are pretty!
After lunch, we started into the Mystery Quilt I designed with a seaside theme and named "Shining Sea".

Here it is at home on my design wall...a block for the sky, a block for the sea and another for the beach. The sun is paper-pieced with strips.
But wait!
There's more!
This is the most unusual quilt I have ever designed for a Mystery Quilt class, because it has TWO SIDES!
Here is the other side....

These are planned to be opposite sides of the quilt and with careful basting are quilted together (these photos are the unquilted tops, though).

Originally this was designed as a huge quilt with the Sun on one end and the Moon on the other, then dropped down to a baby quilt size, then ended up 2-sided. WHEW!
The class included very brave quilters from beginners to experienced, and they worked hard to make the blocks without having any idea at all what they were making!
In the end, all came out fine, and I am looking forward to seeing some completed quilts.

I especially liked all the ideas they had for making their own creative will be made a bit smaller and done as two separate pieces, others were planning some wonderful applique additions.

This one definitely wants to be a pattern, which will also have the large one-side quilt design directions.

I should have had more pictures, but instead of being in my purse, the camera was riding around in my husband's car! It was hiding in the glove compartment, where I had to stash it before going into the Crosby, Stills & Nash concert last week. concert pics and no class pics, either!
I suppose this is why there are cameras in cell phones. Except mine.

But don't worry....the camera is back by my side, and ready to take you through the Big Quilt Show (QuiltFest) again this year. Things will be starting up on Sept. 12 with Take-In Day. If I'm careful, I may be able to take some photos at judging, and of course you'll get to see set up, the show & take down!
Meanwhile....I still have two quilts to finish!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

WELSH Quilting

Thanks to the Mysterious Ms. E for correcting my error. I am being inspired by WELSH quilting designs!
What could be more embarassing than to celebrate my heritage by using the wrong name, especially when I do know the difference!
Here's my bibliography, so you can enjoy these wonderful resources, too:

Jenkins and Calridge (2005) Making Welsh Quilt: the Textile Tradition That Inspired the Amish? KP Books, Iola, WI. Nice color pictures, history, plenty of good examples with diagrams.

Rae, Janet (1987) The Quilts of the British Isles Bellow Publishing Co. Ltd., London. Don't skip the old books, they are real treasures! This one has good photos and also gives a wider history and difference among the styles.

Horton, Marjorie (1999) Welsh Quilting Patter & Design Book Self-published by Marjorie Horton, Rainier, WA. This is the best, but you'll have to search for it. Mine is bound with a plastic comb. It has wonderful digrams and shows how to draft out the whole-cloth designs that are the true Welsh quilts.

And you must visit these websites:

I am just free-handing sketching and stitching motifs. The eventual goal is to make a very traditional Welsh quilt someday.Here's the "Welsh pear" or paisley as we often know it. You can see the remnants of the chalk out line I drew. Many of the these designs are shapes that are outlined with a double line (heart, leaf, pear), then filled with smaller traditional shapes.

This is all the marking I'll do. The leaves only have a vein marked so I'd get the spacing.
I don't know how this will be filled in until I start doing it.
I did start right after this photo, but ran out of thread!

I ran out because I was going back to do a lot of filler meandering in the borders: It's Cherry-Cherry's fault, for saying an un-quilted border on someone else's quilt was "Sunnie style".
It's good to have friends to blame things on. I am sure CC has plenty to blame on me!
At any rate, this quilt will be done soon, and then it's on the The Black T-Shirt Quilt!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quilting Black-on-Black, Part I

Black thread on black fabric seems like a good choice at the time. Then you realize you can't see where you're going, and how-the-heck are you going to mark any lines?

There are 4 corner triangles and 12 side triangles to fill in the Roxanne's Honeymoon quilt.
This is a totally different version of a Mystery Quilt from back in January
Yes, the one that was supposed to be finished in January! (hey, it's only 8 months later...)( the top was done in January!)
It is entered in the huge "local"quilt show, so it has to be done by Sept. 12 Turn-In Day. And do stay tuned for more of my blatant insanity, as I have another unfinished entry, too!
I started in a corner with a loose meandering, and that really unravelled my brain as I decided to do fancy side fillers! Usually one goes from complex to simple...I have to be different!
I wanted Celtic designs (at this point I cannot account for my thought process, other than I have always wanted to do this) but how to get them onto that black fabric?
I couldn't just go free stitching, as the black makes it impossible to see where you've been....and don't you hate that un-quilted puff in the middle of everything after you think you are through? (you know what I mean!).

So my Big Idea was the draw the designs freehand on some special paper:
Cherry-Cherry gave me this Golden Paper, one of her favorites.

And as a helpful resource, I have some books:
I'll give you a list in Part II..there is one more!

And to hold the paper down without a lot of pins tearing at the paper as it is quilted, I thought of basting spray!
Some pins, some spray
CRITICAL TIP: just a little spritz on the corners & center! All that paper has to come off, and I have some tiny areas in these designs!
Sometimes the paper has to be adjusted as you go to keep the design inside the triangle

Large open areas are no trouble at all, but that little double line (a very important part of Celtic designs) would be tricky to get the paper out of.
I realized if I just used the paper for the main design areas, they would be broken into smaller sections.
Stitch the outline, then work in one area at a time
I could fill those in by eye, drawing with the needle according to the sketch I made.
Keep the torn off section for a reference

The main thing to remember is that you are following a line...sort of...but that line no longer exists once the paper is gone (or blue line is washed out, or chalk rubbed off, etc.). Your stitching becomes the line, and it cannot be compared to how "on or off" it is!

There are several leaf shapes in there somewhere!

So that worked out pretty well, until I got tired of scraping off all the little paper bits.
TIP: Scratch with your fingernail going the same direction as the sewing won't pull against the stitches and stretch them. (OK, I know you will really pick at them any direction possible, because I did , too! But they might wash out as well.)

Now let's add insult to injury and discuss my bad choice of quilting thread.
I have a lovely salmony pink that matches the back...what was I thinking? Of course it shows up on the BLACK top!
And how many times have I said I will sacrifice the back to make the top look good? Hmmmmm????? The chickens are coming home to roost!
I am sparing you a picture, because A) it's really not that bad unless you are up close, and B) I can't take a picture that close.
I am using a very thin black thread and liking how that looks on the black fabric.

Those who know me have been asking this question: How long did you stick with your drawing & quilting on paper?
You know me so well.
It's true, after 3 paper triangles it was too much work, and I have now resorted to blocking out areas with a chalk marker!
The less you need to mark, the more freedom you have

It's easier to do the fill-in patterns free-hand after you've followed several sketched out ones. This will be a flower, the Welsh Rose, with it's big decorative leaves.

Check in soon for Part II, when I have the last of the side triangles done!
There's quite a bit more quilting to do on this, but as long as I have the black thread loaded, I'll launch into The Black T-Shirt Quilt!

With a Very Big Thank You to Cherry-Cherry & Rita who helped me baste TBTSQ this afternoon...a nasty story that will wait for another day! (Hint: "vintage" polyester "black" batting!).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fabric Bags the E-Z Way

I wanted to make some down & dirty, fast & easy shopping bags for an auction...there should always be a few items that somebody can bid on if they don't have a lot of money.
This is not a full tutorial, and if you want to make a nice bag, go to Another Pat's websitefor a good tute:

First, you need some fabric:
Shopping for remnants only provided one tropical piece...very pretty! But I had to go root around in the discount home dec. at the back of The Big Box Store to find that green. It was $3/yard, so I took it all...2+ yards.
I am such a big spender!

Remember, this is my "down & dirty" way of making a tote. A shopping bag can be used & abused, possibly washed, but does not need to be a gift-quality item.
Speaking of washing, this home dec stuff always suggests dry cleaning, because an upholstered piece usually ends up with trims of unknown content.
For a bag, you can pre-wash if you want, but you probably don't need to. Do be careful when you finally wash it (if ever!) in case the color bleeds a bit. But the fabric will generally be OK.

Honestly, I did not want to figure out too many numbers, so I folded the yardage in thirds, and just cut it up the fold (yes, it's hanging on my design wall). That way I knew I would make 3 bags. Three is a number I can manage.
The longest part of the fabric goes around the sides. I grabbed the nearest tote in my studio and measured it quickly for some general guidance. It was 15" tall , so I whacked my green fabric at 23" (plenty to make the bottom and a nice sturdy top hem) and then knew I would use the rest for the handles, whatever that turned out to be.
You can see I have an adhesive "yard stick" along the edge of my cutting table (and another along the front of my sewing machine table). It's getting decrepit after so many years! I put the mat near where I want to cut, and line up the fabric & ruler with the "yard stick". Then I don't need a giant mat.
By the way...I like to use my tape measure, but it's really long. Here's what I do when I only need to do something like a quick tote bag check:
I keep it corraled with a nice colorful hair fastener (get them at the dollar store!) and just "release" about the amount I'll need.

For the tropical bag, I just went with the size of the remnant. The home dec fabrics are wide, so they make a nice size bag no matter what. The tropical print was directional, and I did take that into account.
Make the handles first! Then you have them ready to insert into the hem around the top.
There are many ways to fold & press and topstitch don't have to make a tube and then work at turning it RS out! Too much work!
If you forget to make the handles first, you can just topstitch them on. But if you put them in now, you don't even have to finish the ends...they're covered up! (I told you this was down & dirty...I didn't mention lazy???)
Even if you're working fast, you may want it to appear you actually cared, especially if you are donating the bags to an auction.
(this is where I wonder exactly who may be reading my blog....)
I like to do a French seam because it's neat & sturdy, and, of course, has a name that makes it sound really good.
The hard part is remembering it goes backwards...first you sew the seam RS
then you turn the bag inside out and sew the seam again from the inside, so the raw edge is enclosed. If you turn the bag and find you didn't catch all the edges, just zig-zag and then do the inside seam!
Nobody is really going to notice. Not the sewing. But they will notice how pretty the bags are...I always get compliments when I'm at the grocery!
Oh, yes...if you happen to forget, and sew the first seam in RS together as you normally would, then just go ahead and complete the French seam on the outside. If anyone sees it, they'll just assume it's a design element!
It is NOW!
The bottom and sides are created in the same step, putting a "corner" across the bottom.
Measure it to be as wide side-to-side as you want the bottom & sides to be (they have to be the same!).
I made each of the 4 bags different, just because I felt like it!
For things that don't need to be precise, I like to use rulers I get on vacation, like from historical locations' gift shops! But here is my very favorite one, with samples of the various woods from New Zealand.
Well, that's about it.
Here they are:

OOOOO, that tropical fabric just does all the work! How I wish I had found more. That's 2 sides of the one bag.
Well, that's about it!
Make some bags for taking to the grocery. They don't have to be heirloom-sewing masterpieces...especially when you chose great fabrics.
If you want to use some quilting fabric, make a lining with some old fabric so you can feel really thrifty and the bag will be sturdy enough.
Now, if I could only remember to take one of my bags when I go shopping everywhere! Like Petco!
I could have put those 30 cans of catfood in one of these babies instead of the nasty plastic bags!
NOTE Added 8/11:
The best tutorial...easy pictures to follow! ...for a "fast & easy, down & dirty" bag can be found at Morsbags . They want you to make copies and make lots of bags! Click on the "Make One" button at the top of the page!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Florida Quilt Shops: Rainbow's End

Over on the Gulf Coast, north of Tampa, you'll find Rainbow's End.
They claim to be the biggest shop in Florida...and they may be right!
Just inside the front door you'll find the latest deliveries from the new designers..all that Amy Butler-ish stuff. Nice fresh colors...uh-oh, I feel a new project coming on!

Now this is what I call a Fat Quarters Wall, not to mention a lesson in color.
Even better is the Batik Wall! I really had to get myself under control and focus on my sister's curtain fabric...which I still haven't exactly figured out yet.

This shop truly has something for everyone, and it's well organized so you can figure out where to go. I didn't get pitures of all the rooms. There's also a section for children, bolts of wool felt in the alcove by the restroom, and if you keep wandering around you will eventually find the giant warehouse section filled with holiday fabrics and a wall of sale bolts ($4/yd!).

Yes, there's even a place for the delicate & dainty...buttons, special threads and trims of all sorts.

Just a fat quarter, but I had to have it...all I got on the selvedge is "Colonies Poison Green".
My mother made a blouse out of this same print when she was 12...and later I wore it, too! I wish I still had it.

I was looking for some beachy stuff..the blue turned out to actually have a wood grain between the stripes (company unknown). The footprints are cute (Makower) and have been around for awhile in several versions.

Rainbow's End has a lot of the food fabric prints. I couldn't resist these two fat quarters after I'd taken a picture of that box of doughnuts at the start of this trip! They're from Cosmo Textile Co. Ltd. I can see them made into a little bag to go inside a purse. You know, for your secret doughnut fund!

I love black & whites. These really don't have enough background showing to fit my guideline that the fabric should read either black OR white...but those buttons are too cute! Especially as reverse-value prints. (company unknown)

If only my camera would do this real's a riot of color! Thanks to Free Spirit for printing this fun stuff...I got several yards.
No, I do not know what for! But when I do, I will have it!

The red & brown is Tranquilty by Moda, and the retro brown & teal is All That Jazz by Windham. The colors are remarkably good with the coffee cups wallpaper border my sister has, and the inspiration for the curtains.
Yep, I have enough fabric now to make curtains for 10 kitchens, so I'll have to decide soon!
This is one of the sneeky ways your stash keeps growing even though you think you are making things.

I'm finishing up the instuctions for the Mystery Quilt for Seaside Piecemakers in Satellite Beach, and looking forward to being down there at the end of the month...and then at last revealing to you Dear Readers the most unusual Mystery Quilt I have ever done!
Meanwhile, it's time to make a few "green bags" to donate to an auction...does the quilt world need another tutorial on that???

Monday, August 3, 2009

Florida Quilt Shops: Suwanee Valley Quilt Shop

The Suwanee Valley Quilt Shop is located in Trenton, FL and well worth a side trip as you are cruising down the state on I-75! The building is a beautifully refurbished 1925 coca-Cola bottling plant.
Besides loads of gorgeous fabric, there is the Suwanee Rose Cafe to have lunch (desserts to die for!), friendly staff, and all sorts of notions.

If you're travelling with non-quilters, they might enjoy the other nearby shops with stained glass, cross-stitch and scrapbooking.
You just know this has to be good when you see a fabulous quilt as soon as you walk in the door!
The cafe is located first, so already you're thinking about a nice pause for lunch....
which they will combine with the bill for your other purchases, if you like.
Next to fabric, we all need books! There's a whole room devoted to them...and a place to sit for awhile (or park someone else...?)
Another important room that many quilters need to see as soon as they arrive is the ladies room. No mistaking where it is here!
Just a peek inside...old fashion comfort, with very amusing art on the wall. The main theme seems to be dogs and why they are superior to a large part of the human race!
Time to start taking in all the delights of this place. It's a spacious and well organized shop, even though it covers a lot of square footage.
One of the shop's best attractions is this handsome parrot, Sonny. He can do some very talented vocal work, when he wants. His spacious cage is in an area right by the fabric and some comfortable seating, making another great "parking area" for those who are weary or not so interested in the latest oriental prints & batiks.
One of two large cutting tables...oh, yeah, I could work at this shop!
I must have some Black and Whites! What a fine selection. And I highly reccomend the black-on-black prints when you find them. Deep and textural, they have nothing in common with the "white-on-white" fabrics. The B-o-Bs don't have that painted on, gum up the needle effect.
Hands off my stash!
This is really a group pile, but you know how it is...friends can have as much as they want, after your order has been cut!
Down a hallway from the cafe, impossible to's the Fabric Sale Room!
And yes, I did find something in there I had to have.

WHAT I BOUGHT:A good candidate for the coffee curtains project, this is from Windham's Baltimore Album line.

This Fairy Frost is actually pale green. The cherries are a Wilmington Prints piece.

Ah....purple batik! And the ferns on purple background are real batik, too! batiks! The center one has loads of tiny turquoise dots. I am writing this only a week later and I have used up the dots already!

I am working on yet another Mystery Quilt class, and the shop posts are not getting done very quickly!
But the next one is Rainbow's End and then the show at the Dunedin Arts Center.
You know what they many quilts, so little time!