Sunday, November 29, 2009

Catalog Quilt, Part I

After Thanksgiving, it's good to have a nice simple project to work on.
One that does not require a lot of extra thinking!
So I decided to make a Catalog Quilt!
Here's how to relieve your Holiday Stress or Overload...
First, get a catalog....

You probably have one around somewhere at this time of year!
It does not matter what size or company or anything like that. But the page size will be what the block is. This will give me some rectangular blocks to play with!
Cut the catalog in half, right up the center fold...

Yes, it does help to take the staples out first!
Now you have a stack of foundation papers to work on.
I decided to use a bag of strips that came from some anonymous guild donation, all from one person, so I just figured they would basically go together. And I knew they were mostly navy & pink sort of prints.
I chose a purple fabric from my stash to use in the center of each block, as sort of a unifying touch.

I just cut up the whole 1/2+ yard piece, knowing the 2" size (another random decision) would be useful in other projects if I cut too much.
This is a good Stash Buster kind of thing to do...though mostly it just re-distributes your stash from yardage into strips!
And speaking of strips...the ones I'm using in this quilt are all different. I didn't even look to see what size they were, though a few were really wide and I just hacked them through the center to make 2 strips!

Lay the "unifying" strip from corner to corner. At least that's what I did! Please feel free to put yours in any direction or place you like.
Or don't even use one!

Lay another strip right on top and sew. I would recommend using a small stitch length (here I have it set at 1.5) so the paper will tear off easier. You could also go for a big fat needle! And this is a good time for a needle that has been used but you'd be replacing soon...let it wear out on all this paper, then toss it!

Oh, while you are at it, how about using up all those spool know, the ones that have too much thread to throw away, but not enough for another project? The color is no consideration in this project!
Heck, you can finish off a lot of mostly-empty bobbins, too!
Dang! You are just soooo virtuous now, using up all this stuff!
(sharp eyed readers want to know what that little blue container's the thing that ladies' Intuition shaver cartridges come in! Nice for keeping bobbins handy but controlled).

Just sew & flip the strips out to the corner, pressing each time to be sure the seam is flat.
Don't worry too much about what strip to put on next, as long as it will cover the paper. The point is to use them up.
In this project, it does not even matter what your seam allowance is! In fact, when you get to the corner, you can make a tiny seam to stretch the fabric so it covers the corner, or take a big fat seam to let more of the last strip show!
By the way, you could also decide to use the same "unifying" strip for all the corners, or instead of using it in the center.
Really...with this project, it hardly matters what you do!!!
Once the page is covered, you will trim it off (or, like me, wait until ALL the sewing is done, and then trim all of the pages!)

Just use the edge of the page to place your ruler, and whack!
All those trimmed parts can be tossed away (gasp!). Luckily for me, there is a member of my guild who collects these bits of fabric & even batting to stuff big pillows for pet beds for the local animal shelter. She leaves every guild meeting LOADED!

Here it is...all trimmed up and ready to go!
But wait...the paper has to come off:

I actually took these to my comfy chair and worked on them with a trash basket nearby.
Start at the corner and fold down the paper down along the stitching line, crease it with your fingernail or something, and it will pull off. Then pull the next strip away from the stitches, and fold it against the next line of stitching.
Etc, etc, etc!

The best part of any project is learning something. Can you see what I learned above?
Yes, that is to either make ALL the center strips go the same way, or divide the blocks and make half go one way and half the other.
Frankly, that would have required too much post-Thanksgiving thinking from my over turkey-fied brain.
Instead, I ended up with just one block different than the rest, and and a valuable lesson:
A diagonal line on a square can rotate in any direction (allowing for nice X shapes to appear through a quilt setting).
But a rectangle's diagonal is the same no matter how the block is turned.
Anyway, I have 30 blocks that are about 7.5" x 10.5". They will make a nice center for a small quilt that I can give to a charity.
When you are cutting up a catalog, you could go ahead and cut the pages into squares, but it was fun to use these rectangles...not to mention less work! Or look for a catalog with square may have one in your re-cycle bin already!
Stay tuned for Part II, when I figure out how to finish the top.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quilt Show vendor treasures

You know it's true...even before your friends ask how many quilts were in a show, they want to know, "What did you buy?"
I didn't go shopping until the last day, and was pretty tired at that point.
[insert several other excuses of your choice, then we'll just move on...]
I was really looking for BOOKS, as there had been no book merchant at QuiltFest in September.
There wasn't one here either, but I did find this book I have been anxious to get:

"Thread Work Unraveled" by Sarah Ann Smith, an AQS publication. I have been hearing good things about this one, and I think I will not be disappointed! There are 111 pages, so it is not a pamphlet pretending to be a book (oooh, a new pet peeve!), and it covers quite a bit of ground from thread to needles to applique and machine quilting. The pictures look very good. It has several charts (I like that for easy comparison of info) and an index, which I am hoping is a good one.
SO...I will write a review after I have read it, but so far I really like what I see.

One book is never enough, and I also bought this one:

"Fearless Design for Every Quilter" by Loraine Torrence & Jean B. Mills, a C&T publication. This book has a lot of info about design principles, creativity and a working in a series. It has ten lessons, which can be repeated in a variety of ways. The very first thing I like about this 95 page book is the clear distinction between "critique" and "critical". That's something we all need to be aware of when giving our opinions to others....and in receiving them!
I'll give you a review of this later, too.
Both of these books were purchased from Barbie Swanson of Fabric Art Shop. That's in Lake City, FL, and happens to be the first quilt shop in the state on I-75, in case you are traveling south to the Sunshine State! I think she had more books at the show than anyone else, and had already sold out of two more I was interested in.

So, what else????

Here's the whole stash! The blue-with-silver-swirls fabric on the left was also from The Fabric Art Shop (she had a wide assortment of blue holiday cuts...Cherry-Cherry bought several, as she's not into the red & green mood this year). And the bobbins leaning on the books were on clearance (I cannot use those plastic bobbins in my Pfaff, but I can put them on the thread spool on top and use them that way!). And the fat purple pen was a nice gift.

The box of tailor's chalk was a gift from Pat Yamin of Come Quilt With Me. She says the Brooklyn Revlover cutting mat is being taken out of production, so get one soon!

The batiks and fat quarters are from Material Mart in Michigan (yes, those are beaters for a hand-mixer on the black & white). I had been really fabric-resistant until I hit that nice big, well-lit booth! There were loads of great prints on bolts....but, oh, those fat quarters are soooooo convenient to select!

Superior Threads is a very favorite of mine, but do I ever remember what I need or bring a fabric swatch? Well, I decided to go for the Frosted Doughnut (who could resist that!) with Masterpiece (cotton) bobbins (on cardboard, which I can pull off and the Pfaff likes). The "doughnut" bobbin holder is a good one...I already own one, and that's another thing you can have several of! If you like to use a lot of thread, you may want to sign up for Superior's very informative monthly e-newsletter.

The pink & yellow package in the center of the photo is the Sewline Fabric Pencil that I heave heard such good things about. It works like a lead pencil and comes with refills, which you may also get separately. It has a retractible eraser (ooooooh!) and the marks also come off with a damp cloth. I got this from Glenda Brady of The Quilting Connection (no shop but look for her at shows!). She did a demo of why the pink lead is a better choice than the white, so that's what I got.

Just to the left of the pen is a button. But not just any button! It is a stacked button from Dusty's Vintage Linens (no website). She has tons of wonderful Bakelite and other old buttons. I just could not resist this big blue button with a unique green button topped by a pink flower button...all wired together. I can use a safety pin to wear it or maybe sew it onto a little bag or something.

Last but not least is a fabric "candy", a charm square tied in a knot, from the Lake Co. Quilters as a thank-you for buying a raffle ticket. I love the little things guilds give away! If you are in FL on March 4 & 5, you should see their show in Mt. Dora, which is a great antiquing town.

Not too shabby, but not too much to carry home, either!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The World Quilt & Textile Show--WPB

The Mancuso Brothers ended their quilt show tour this year in West Palm Beach, and the Sunshine State Quilters Association decided to hold the Annual Meeting there as it was off to South FL for me & Cherry-Cherry, hardly having un-packed from being at the Campbell Folk School!

We shall cut right to the chase and show the very best...
"Flower Market, Chichicastenango, Guatemala" by Meri H. Vahl of the USA.
The back is covered with beautiful Guatemalan fabric...I know, because I worked 4 shifts as a White Glove Hostess, and I got my hands on lots of wonderful quilts!
This quilt is the Best of the World!

Mancuso shows is made up of the winners from many different countries, plus special competitions for the various tour locations (go to for the 2010 schedule). The show is filled out with lots of other special exhibits, so there is more than enough to see. I'm glad were there for 3 days.

Here's the Best of the USA: "Fragrant Memories" by Rachael Wetzler.
Oh, really need to see this one, no photo can do it justice. You can practically smell the baked goods in this fabric kitchen. It is a perfect balance of fabric art & realism. If you have enjoyed (or obsessed) over chosing printed fabrics to represent real things, this quilt is a textbook of perfect choices!

The special competition was for Florida Quilts, and they had 90, all different kinds.
This is the Best of Show (FL): "Wings and Feathers" by Mark Sherman. The fabric is hand-dyes, turned-edge applique, and a whole lot of crystals, though applied with more restraint than a lot of others!

Speaking of applique, here is a detail shot of Robbi Joy Eklow's "Nifty Nine-Patch". This is raw edge applique, covered with loads of quilting to hold it all down. She gave a good talk about her quilting life, though I'm sure she was tired after teaching all day. This exhibit was like a one-woman show, and it was fun to see so many of her pieces up close.
The show included several lectures each day and lots of classes.

I am not naming any names in the following know who you are!

Since the location was West Palm Beach, who but the Palm Beach Quilters would get a special exhibit, not to mention a chance to sell raffle tickets. The exhibit had quilts covering 1985 to 2009.
The Sunshine State Quilters Association had the raffle for this wonderful house blocks quilt, "All Around the Town". You can see it on YouTube ! Blocks were made by quilters from all over the state.

Guilds were invited to show and sell tickets for their raffle quilts, in return for 32 hours of white-glove service. A couple ladies at the show were doing duty for two guilds.
I may have to do a whole posting about hostess duty! Obviously people are blind to this sign:
SSQA held their Annual Meeting to elect officers and have other generally good fun. Pat Yamin of Come Quilt With Me gave a brief show & tell of her quilts.
The out-going President received a complete quilt made by the board matches her living room!
Members were invited to make blocks for Quilts of Valor. The blocks were divide between two guilds who volunteered to make them into finished quilts for this very worthy program.
These are only a few of the ones made by attendees, or sent in by members who could not attend the meeting. While red, white & blue are a popular color scheme, QOV suggests not all veterans want patriotic printed fabric, and asks us to remember that 10% of our service people are women.

While I was sitting at the SSQA booth, chatting with the public, I actually heard that a few people felt disappointed by the vendors...80 was not enough! They had expected more! Appearently Mancuso shows elsewhere have had well over 100. you think there will be more next year? They have signed a contract with the WPB Convention Center for the same weekend (Nov. 12--14) in 2010.

I know you are really wondering about just what I bought at the show...and that will be my next post!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Quilting at the Folk School

What a wonderful week at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC!
The rain came and went while we were in nearby Murphy NC, and every day was exactly like the Sunday beginning of the week:
This is a true sight-for-sore-eyes from Florida!
Each day was cool & beautiful, and each evening the full moon rose from the mountains:
I just couldn't get online while I was at the Folk School (though others did just fine), so I'm sorry I couldn't share the day-by-day experience. I must admit, though, when I am teaching it's the students & studio that come first. It's much easier to find blogging time as a student!
The class was filled at 12 people, and all week I heard from others who wanted to take it but couldn't get in. They ended up learning how to weave Shaker Rag Rugs and Open Hearth Cooking (with recipes from the 1800s!) and had a good time.
The full class allowed me to have an assistant, and I was fortunate to have Cherry-Cherry in that role. She did a super job catching all the details and answering questions so everyone in the class could be constantly taken care of. She is the best!
We got to be roomies, and were assigned to The Farmhouse.
Our room was upstairs, behind the two dormer windows on the right.
This is where the first classes were held at the Folk School, and the home of Olive Campbell, one of the school's founders. It has several pieces of her furniture still in place, and is a bit like staying in a museum!
The other window must end up in the room next door. Our neighbors were Les and Gwen Gustafson-Zook, from Goshen, Indiana. He taught the autoharp class, and they both gave a fun & uplifting concert on Friday night.
Cherry-Cherry & I had these matching beds (sorry, no maid service at the Folk School!). I thought they might be original to the Farmhouse...maybe Olive Campbell or Marguarite Butler slept in them sometime!
Can't say that my contribution was very authentic...that's my really bright pillowcase. I like to have my own pillow when travelling, and that case helps me see it to remember to take it home! The quilt is the Spicy Mystery Quilt, which I taught at the 2003 SSQA Symposium. It's like a Mexican Cross pattern.

But we didn't have time to hang around the room much. It was off to the Fiber Arts building every day (after MorningSong and a breakfast worthy of Cracker Barrel!). The Quilting Studio is the door on the right. Come on in!
Spacious, light-filled & very well-equiped, I cannot think of a better place to spend a week with fabric and new friends! Each person had an eight-foot table for her own project, and there were cutting tables up at standing heigth, plus several ironing board stations. I think it is a good idea to have built-in reasons to get up and move around during your sewing time!
The building's restrooms are on this side, so the weavers came through to check out our work, as well as partake of the bowl of chocolate I had sitting on the counter by the door.

It was fun teaching the Campbell Folk School Quilt, or MorningSong, as I now call it. This time it was not a mystery quilt, and everyone jumped right in on the traditional patterns that tell the story of how the Folk School was founded, inspired by Director Jan Davidson's story.

We all started with "Fair & Square" (lower left corner in the picture below) as an easy block, and one that says how things work at the competition, lots of respect for individuals, plenty of give & take.
The amount of patchwork generated was totally amazing!
With the 9 blocks in the original quilt, plus alternates for personal choice, each student had patterns for 30 blocks. And on top of that, I found a pattern to represent all the different subjects taught, so there pictures of 48 more! To be selected, a block had to be published at some place and time with a name I could relate to the Folk School, and it had to be possible to make...not one of those un-tested drawings or blocks with 1, 000 pieces!

Some of the students (it seems funny to call them that, now that we have come to be more like friends!) had quite a bit of experience in quilting. One owns a shop in Blue Ridge, GA, Country Stitches. C-C and I stopped there on our way north, and had a lovely time in the "old pink house", including finding a much desired Moda jelly-roll for Cherry-Cherry.
Other students had less experience but that didn't hold them back! Here's the completed top for a wall hanging by a first time beginner:
Civil War reproductions were a big favorite of the class, but we also had a chance to see the same blocks done in mostly batiks, with a close-color scheme:
This ended up with the blue as a tiny inside border and went home looking for a darker outside one.
Then we also had an inspired choice of bright yellow for the background:
OOPS! I neglected to turn this the right direction....that block in the middle is really a basket, designed on the spur of the moment by the maker! I love it when that happens in my class!
More beautiful batiks by someone who travelled all the way from Washington state! Her husband came to take the Arborsculpture class with Richard Reames, since Campbell is one of the few places teaching that remarkable gardening form.

As I said, Cherry-Cherry was busy with her own sewing while still finding time to be my more-than-able assistant! Her top is a study in blue & browns:
Check out that mosaic sashing! The royal blue just glows in this piece. It's getting a border in the same style, but with larger pieces.
This one below has the blocks from the original quilt design, but a T-Shirt in the center! I suggested that if anyone wanted to use a shirt in that way, we could learn the basics of making a T-Shirt quilt...and so we did!
The plan to finish this one includes many more blocks surrounding the part done here, maintaining the special block in the center position.
The Spools pattern was a popular block, and several people were planning to make borders with that pieced design.
One person is making a 25 block quilt for a queen bed, and I am sure she will finish it!
With a place like this to work in, all meals cooked for you, and lots of inspiring & entertaining people around, you can't help but have a good time!
I always feel sorry to leave, but look forward to going a teacher OR a student!
And I'm also looking forward to seeing many of my new friends somewhere "around the Quilt Block".