Friday, June 29, 2012


Check out all this Kaffe-goodness!  Aren't they wonderful?  
As I've had time this week, these beauties have been slowly transformed into....

These....with cute little polka dot strips that are cut at 1".  They are beginning to be transformed into....
These .... which have to be cut one at a time for quality control purposes.  And eventually they will look like....
These!  This is a makeover of the Kaffe shot cotton blocks that I started last summer and blogged about here.  Of course, that quilt top isn't done.  It's my travel project for my little Jem and I'm hoping we'll be going north later this summer together.  We'll see.  As an aside, do you see the ripped out places on these blocks?  The jelly roll has a little kink in it from cutting and I finally realized that I have to use the outside of the pinked edge if I'm going to get my 2.5" and 3.0" dimensions.  I did a lot of trial and error before I finally figured that out!  Duh!

This has been a weird time for me.  I have no idea where my quilting mojo has gone -- but I miss it.  Mom22smartchix was here last weekend and did great things for getting my desire to quilt more front of mind.  One thing I do know about me is that when I am a bit blue, cutting into Kaffe fabric is the perfect therapy.  I've started many a Kaffe quilt in January and February when the weather and sky leave much to be desired.  It's like bringing sunshine inside!  I have needed a little inner sunshine and this may be just the ticket!

It's also been a good week as Wimbledon started this week (LOVE IT!) and Le Tour de France begins tomorrow.  I will watch every single minute I can and then watch the replays later in the day.  Can't explain it -- suffice it to say there are lots of aspects of Le Tour that I love.  And it's hot here -- 108 degrees predicted today.  Air conditioning, tennis, and cycling seem like a good combination for this weekend!

I hope you are finding your own sunshine in your life!  Jan

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Three F's

What a fun week....

We'll start with my big adventure on Saturday where I made my first ever pickled beets.  I don't care for beets in any form -- but mr iquiltforfun asked if I could pickle some beets my sister had given me.  Well, of course -- I've pickled lots of things before....but I have NEVER pickled anything that you can't "poke" with a fork while they're cooking for fear of them "bleeding out."  Seriously?  I have no idea if they are any good -- we'll open them this weekend.  Whether they are edible or not -- they are beautiful.  What a great color.
F:  And I'm thrilled to say that I was the lucky winner of these Robert Kaufman fabrics from Frances at One More Quilt.    Aren't they the wildest things?  They are from the RK Aquatica line and I love them.  Thank you, Frances.
I love the colors in this one.  How fun is this!
This is a great blender for all kinds of brights -- doesn't it just sparkle?
And, this is my favorite!  The details are incredible and I am going to be searching for this on as soon as I post this!  I think this would make a wild and wonderful One Block Wonder, don't you?  It is a half yard cut and I can see the repeat is every half yard so I know I need at least three yards and four would be better in my mind.

If you are in the market for taking a chance on more free fabric, check out Frances' blog for a chance to win more fabric on July 15th.

F:  I'm also happy to say I finished a quilt this week.  It's been in the works for a few months (off and on) and I'm glad to have it off the design wall and floor.  Unfortunately, I can't show any pix just yet as it's a gift.  But it's very different from anything I've ever done before and I really really like it.  Stay tuned.

F:  Last, but certainly not least, is a special friend and her husband are coming for the weekend.  While quilting created the opportunity for us to be friends while we were in Chicago, I'm convinced it's not what keeps us friends.  In my mind, our friendship transcends our love of fabric and creating.  To be able to enjoy those is just icing on the cake.

I hope you're having Fun, playing with Fabric, and enjoying the satisfaction of a Finish!  Jan

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Inspiration and Appreciation

WARNING -- lots of pictures -- few words!  While cleaning up my iPhoto files, I came across a lot of pictures from quilt shows and I just love the variety of quilts and techniques.  Since I don't have a lot of progress to show from this week, I thought I'd share some quilts that I think are lovely -- and that provide inspiration to me.

Check out the first quilt.  If this doesn't prove that all kinds of disparate fabrics can be used to create a spectacular quilt -- I don't know what does!  There are calicos, florals, lame', plaids, etc.  And the design works -- at least for me.

Striking!!!!  Colors, design, values all work.

I hope you can see a close of up this quilt.  It was amazing.  I would never ever consider undertaking a piece like this - but I can certainly admire it!
This was a close up of the trapunto and quilting.  Check out the threads used for the quilting as well as the embroidery that was used to enhance it.
Hollis Chatelain.   Need I say more?
Loved the quilting on this one.  Check out that detail...
Just loved this one!  Process is not hard -- but the choice of fabrics is spectacular.  Notice how the motifs flow from one block to the other in a positive-negative way.
Beautiful, right?  Guess's the BACK to the quilt below.....
These little babies finished at 1.5", I think.  Isn't this something?  I know some of you have made this or a similar quilt before.  Kudos to you!!!
Same here.  Different quilt -- different year.  Same amount of detail....  Wow!
I couldn't leave this quilt when I saw it.  These little logs are satin and finish at 1/2" each.  This is from the late 1800's I think (won't bet my first born on that) and had been put up and was perfectly preserved.  The light just shimmered off these fabrics.  I can't tell you how many times I kept coming back to this.  I bow to this quilt maker.
I loved this.  I keep thinking about what I want to do with my ethnic (particularly African) fabrics and I keep coming back to this.  I think the string blocks were brilliant and a great counterbalance to the ovals.
Just love it.

This was a striking quilt.  From a distance, it appeared to be simply a blue/white quilt.  But up close, the "blues" were all over the place and they worked.  This is definitely on my "to do" list.

I love quilt shows. I like the samples.  I love the vendors!  I like seeing the "in" techniques/colors/fabrics (can you tell that small intricate pieced quilts were vogue one year?).  But I get most of my inspiration from walking around the exhibits and marveling at the creativity, patience, color sense, and talent of quilters when I see the finished product.  As you can imagine, this is just a little sampling of pictures I've taken -- and doesn't include all those wonderful quilts where photos aren't allowed.

What about you - what do you enjoy most at quilt shows?  I hope this has been a week of great inspiration for you!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Detour -- or avoidance

I'm not sure if I've actually taken a detour or I'm actively avoiding all the binding I need to finish sewing down.  I suspect the latter!

With the help of You Tube, I taught myself to knit socks in the last month.  Isn't this just the greatest yarn?  My sister is always knitting; and my-niece-the-quilter has taken up knitting in the last year or so and I have to say, her small projects are intriguing.  In another life and another dimension, I knit all the time and could do any pattern you put in front of me.  Over time, quilting became more important and left wrist pain made knitting less than comfortable.  I've always loved yarns/fibers and slowly the idea of trying to learn to knit socks kept creeping in my thoughts.

In that situation -- what does one do?  Well first you buy great yarn that you know is good quality (Austermanns) and then you start searching You Tube for instructions on how to do this.  I was lucky enough to come across verypinknits and her tutorials.  They are incredible.   I watched every step all the way through, borrowed size 2 (US) needles from my sister and searched Ravelry for a pattern that was free and rated easy.

Then it was a matter of casting on and watching a step, completing that step, watching the next step, and on and on.  This was a breeze.  I learned a lot and made more mistakes than I care to discuss in public.  But the first one fit and that made it easier to do the second one and try to fix some of the errors along the way.  Amazingly, holding the size 2 needles does not cause pain in my wrist -- even though holding a size 7 for a bit does.  Hurray for small miracles.

I've learned these are called "fraternal twin" socks since I didn't bother to start each sock in the same place with this color striping yarn.  I actually like them and will not be bothered by different color stripes, toes, and heels.  I started another one last nite -- same pattern, different Austermann color way/pattern, and off we go.  I do like that these are so portable and do not involve needles/pins/scissors like my hexagons do.  We'll be traveling some this summer and I can knit without getting queasy which is not always the case with sewing.  And there is no risk that I'll be leaving a needle behind for my grandson to find.

So -- I've learned a lot and have a lot to learn.  The more I read the scarier socks become; thank goodness for beginner's luck.  I've ordered needles to try something called "magic loop" knitting which people either adore or hate.  No middle of the road comments out there.  As an aside, if you have never checked out Ravelry, you should.  Whoever had the vision to create a master forum for all things knitting and crochet was brilliant.  It's easy to use, monitored so all topics are relevant and knitters are like quilters -- always ready to help.  I can't imagine that  you would ever need another forum or website for help.  The ability to build your own library of patterns and hints, create your inventory of yarn, track your projects, trade, see patterns made in the same yarn you are considering, ask any question you may have, etc. is amazing.  I so wish there were a similar resource for quilters.  Check it out -- it's wonderful to have everything at your fingertips.

I hope you're finding time to be productive and not avoiding your quilting chores like some of us!!!  Jan

Friday, June 1, 2012

Two quilts and two processes

Longarming or domestic?  What's faster in the long run?  Which is easier?  Which do you like more?
Let's start with the part I like the LEAST when I think about both processes.  I cannot stand basting whether by needle for hand quilting or pins for using my domestic machine.  This little cutie was small enough I could avoid the floor and use the kitchen island.  The problem is that I can't secure the backing to the granite to be sure I don't get tucks.  Binder/alligator clips aren't big enough.  Painter's tape is like silly putty and pulls right off with any pressure.  I don't like the sticky-sticky tapes because they cause fraying.  So, I didn't secure the backing and adjusted when I quilted it.  More on that later.  Mr Iquiltforfun later suggested picnic table clips (hidden somewhere in the depths of the garage) and I think he's on to something.  We just have to find them for the next time!  Once a quilt is basted -- life gets easier and my attitude improves considerably.
This is the finished product (sans binding which I'll add today).  I used my little Janome Platinum Jem which is a bit small.  The Bernina just came back from getting cleaned on Tuesday and I couldn't bear to start out with a machine quilting project and fuzz her up again.  I'd like to just piece on her for a while!  Every time I machine quilt these days (baby quilts are my limit), I am amazed that I used to do queen sized quilts (straight line and mediocre free motion) on my domestic machine.  I stand in awe of those who produce works of art on their machines.  Amazing!  Kudos to you all.
Since I had committed a quilting faux pas and had not secured the backing, I was concerned I'd get tucks in the back if I had any looseness at all.  So, instead of cross hatching or quilting vertically and horizontally in any form, I did all the quilting in the same direction and tried to alternate from each end to keep it from pulling too much.  This is my "go to" quilting option when I want to do something a little playful and still have a bit of control.  I think it works fine with this quilt design and fabrics and more importantly -- it's done!
The twin was done when I went to Chicago and used my friend's Gammill, Sadie.  I use zippers for quicker loading and unloading and have finally figured out how to put them on.  I've been known to do those wrong and then have to take off the zippers and pin to the leaders anyway.  Pinning and I do not get along and I prefer not to bleed on the quilt if I can avoid it.  This particular quilt has a minkee backing and I knew it had to be done on a long arm or I would have been on the floor with T-pins if I'd had to quilt it at home and stretching minkee is a challenge on a good day.

I mentioned in an earlier post that this is the easiest quilt ever.  It's modified from Kim Schaefer's Cozy Modern Quilts and I simplified her directions to use strip piecing and reduced the 8" blocks to 6".  I literally made one top in an afternoon after church -- like in 2.5 hours and I'm not fast.  I had some of the strips cut but not many; so start to finish, it's probably 3-4 hours to make a baby quilt top if you've already ironed your fabrics (presuming you wash -- which I wanted to do with these brights to make sure there was no bleeding).

One is bound (striped binding on bias which is perfect but doesn't show up in pix) and will be delivered locally this week to a young man who I adore.  The other one will be bound this weekend and sent to Montana to another young man who is very special.  Both were high school friends of our son and there are nothing but good memories about both those young men.

I hope you're finding time to finish a few things so you can start all kinds of new and fun things!!!!  Jan