Friday, July 11, 2014

A tour of the 2014 Lincoln Quilter's Guild "Quilt Fest"

How could I possibly resist a chance to spend a morning looking at beautiful quilts? Never mind that for the first time in years none of my quilting friends could go. It seems to be vacation weekend. Some folks are gone, others have a house full of guests.

But, wild horses couldn't keep me away from this event. The local quilter's guild only hosts this show every other year and I wasn't about to miss it. So off I went on my own, and I enjoyed every minute.

As always, with local shows, there is a huge range of skills and talent on display. Very ordinary quilts were mixed in with very extraordinary quilts, modern and traditions quilts shared display space, and the quilts came in every size and shape imaginable. I took tons of photos, but I've chosen those I consider most unique or interesting to share with you.


Houses!
Applique in log cabin blocks. Yum!
From a distance this looks like a traditional pattern made with batiks. But look how that curved piece is made. Clever! Think I might want to give this technique a try one of these days.


The quilting on this just blew my mind! This isn't a little bitty whole cloth quilt. It's bed size!  I can't help but wonder how many spools of thread were used.




I'm such a sucker for trees! These skinny wall hangings are at least 6 feet tall.


I love the way this bark was made! Batiks are so versatile for depicting nature.

Winter fun. More very tall quilts. Is this a new trend in wall hangings? The snow man applique is at least 4 1/2 fee tall, so the entire quilt must be 7 feet or more in height.


This tree reminds me of the one I placed in the paper pieced Christmas quilt I designed and made years ago. My tree is a good deal smaller, though, and definitely not so very tall.


A paper doll quilt! I've been wanting to design one for a very long time. The woman who made it said that she grew up playing with paper dolls. This was a gift for her granddaughter. The child liked it, but didn't know what paper dolls were. The grandmother thought that the quilt might mean more to her than it does to the grandchild

.
Lots of modern quilts were on display. These are a few of my favorites for today.








I'm feeling inspired!

Now I need to get busy on my own quilts. 






Friday, July 4, 2014

Flying geese made with easy paper piecing.

I'm a little bit slow, but I've finally started looking ahead to autumn pattern making.  I pulled out bunches of scraps of those lovely warm autumn colors from my stash and waited for inspiration to strike.

There had to be leaves, of course.

Leaves swirling and blowing in the autumn wind.



And geese. Geese flying south like in one of my favorite poems.


Something told the wild geese,
 It was time to go, 
Though the fields lay golden. 
Something whispered, "snow." 




Yes, definitely flying geese. But there's a bit of a problem here. I have always liked flying geese borders, but working with all of those triangles makes me crazy! I am such a stickler for sharp points and perfect blocks, and I have ripped out seams and redone blocks so many times that I've often given up on flying geese.

Big blocks are easier, but I'm making a table runner, so the blocks have to be small - maximum 1 1/2" x 3".  Yikes!!

And, even for this small table runner I need a LOT of little blocks - 72, to be exact. Three triangles in each block, so that makes 216 little triangles with 648 points to make perfect!

But geese are what I want, so I'm going to make them the easy way.

Paper foundation piecing to the rescue!!

A number of my quilting friends tell me that they don't like paper piecing, that way they've always made their blocks suits them just fine.

For those of us who have been quilting for a long time and learned to quilt with more traditional methods, paper piecing may feel a bit uncomfortable. I truly balked at the idea. All of that upside-down sewing on paper looked downright weird!

Then a friend showed me a quilt she had made with paper foundation piecing. I was blown away! So, I tried it. Liked it, too. A lot! Perfect points, nice straight blocks, and all of it done quickly and easily.

Sew on the line. Cut on the line. Nothing to measure, nothing a tad too short or a little bit crooked, and perfect points every time!

This is what I've done in the past two days. I only worked for a couple of hours yesterday and a couple of hours today, but 26 of my flying geese are done.




Effortless points that even my perfectionist mother would approve. 

Here is a mini-tutorial for making these:

I started by making a pattern template.  



I worked in groups of four blocks. I made six sets of four, and one set of two flying geese blocks to give me the 26 that I needed for the top of my table runner. I may make a template for groups of six blocks as well. The larger the grouping, the easier it all becomes.

There is some waste of fabric, but if the pieces are cut just a bit larger than they would be otherwise, the fabric lost is minimal. 

Step 1: Photocopy the pattern templates. I use the cheapest copy paper I can find for this. It's lighter weight and tears away easily.



Cut out the triangles. 
4 5/8" squares cut twice diagonally are used for the geese.

2 5/8" squares cut in half diagonally work well for the background triangles.

Sew.
Hold the first goose triangle on the wrong side of the paper with the right side of the fabric facing out. Hold up to the light to see that it is positioned correctly.

Place the background triangle for the number 2 piece about 1/4" from the stitching line. The right side of this piece will be facing the green goose segment.
Make sure that you are using a very short stitch so the paper will tear away easily. 

Sew directly on the line between pieces #1 and @2.

View from the right side of the fabric.
A little bit off? Won't matter at all.

Trim edges fairly even.

Fold the background piece back and press.

Lay the next background piece against the geese block.

Check agains the light to make sure it is accurately lined up.

Stitch on the line between piece #1 and piece #3.

Trim, fold back...

Press.
Not even? Not a problem.


Add the next piece in the same way as the others. 

Stitch, trim, fold back, press.

Continue until all the geese blocks in this row are assembled.



Trim.
Trim right on the solid lines for the seam allowance.
Perfection!

Tear the paper away.
Sew the sections of blocks together.
Add the flying geese strip to the quilt.


Done!

I love paper foundation piecing, but it may not be your cup of tea. If you've never tried it, though, do give it a whirl. Who knows, it may prove to be a real time saver.

Happy Stitching!





Thursday, June 26, 2014

A new grandson and a tooth fairy pillow

I'd like to introduce you to my new grandson!

This is Charlie.

Charlie is six years old, and I adopted him just two weeks ago. 

This wasn't an ordinary adoption.
You see, I adopted his parents and Charlie came with them. A package deal. 

His mom is my daughter's assistant, all around miracle worker, and saint. She also has a terrific sense of humor and is an absolute delight in every way. Her name is Becky. Charlie's dad, Bryan, is just as amazing. I adopted the whole crew. 

I love telling stories!
So, here goes ...

It was the second day after my son's surgery. He was doing very well. That morning he decided that he'd like some prunes. Prune juice that he could have ordered from patient room service wouldn't do at all. He wanted nice, moist, whole prunes.  I'm the mom whose son had just undergone a major ordeal, so I set off through the hospital on a search.

As I've mentioned before, this hospital is a huge complex of several very large buildings connected by large hallways, wide underground tunnels, and numerous elevators. I knew of two cafeterias, a restaurant and a Starbucks. I had also found two little convenience shops, a drugstore, and a couple of gift shops. Prunes should be easy. Hospitals are all about good health, aren't they?

Hmm...

If I had wanted candy, cake, pie, ice-cream, cookies, chips, or anything else that is loaded with fat, sugar, and salt, I was in just the right location. But dried fruit? Trail mix? Not to be found. If I'd only had my car I'd have ventured out into Omaha to find prunes, but I was living in the hotel in the hospital and my car was at home in Lincoln. I gave up. We'd just have to order the prune juice.

I mentioned the lack of prunes in an email to my daughter. She works in Omaha but on this day she was in Lincoln with a large number of other folks, including Becky. They were in the middle of a training session for work when my daughter got my email.  She told Becky about the prunes dilemma.

Becky came up with a solution. No surprise there. This was Becky, the miracle worker. She picked up her phone and texted Bryan, who was at home in Omaha taking care of Charlie. Charlie wasn't feeling too well that day, but his daddy bundled him into the van and off they went to the grocery store. Within half an hour this lovely man, whom I had never met, arrived at the hospital with a smile, a big hug, and a bag of prunes!


Whoa! I was blown away by the kindness of this family! Who goes out of their way with a sick child in tow just to buy a bag of prunes and deliver it to a stranger?

So you see, I really did have no choice. I adopted the whole family immediately! I sent another email off. With this one I informed Becky that the three of them were now part of my family and, like it or not, they were stuck with a new mom, mother-in-law, and grandma.

My lovely new family members.

The story isn't finished, yet! 
Keep reading.

My new grandson just lost his first tooth!


Charlie didn't have a tooth fairy pillow and he needed one right away - before another tooth fell out!

And who's the lucky grandma with the sewing machines?  



A chance to sew for a brand new grandson! Ooh, happy dance time! 

Charlie got his tooth fairy pillow in plenty of time for the next tooth!

And I hope we all live happily ever after!

Charlie's tooth fairy pillow.

One more thing:

Since I'd already made the pillow, I made a pattern, too. 

And a tooth fairy mug rug, as well. 

          Because, 
                          who knows ...



I just might adopt a granddaughter one of these days.

Happy Stitching, Everyone!!






Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summertime!!



Summer has officially arrived!

How are you spending your summer? 
At the beach? 
By a pool? 
In your garden? 
In a cool air-conditioned indoor space?

Summer is barely here, but the holiday season begins in just a few months! I will need to start thinking about fall and winter patterns very soon! So I went browsing through my patterns today, taking an inventory or what I have and what I might add. 

As I looked through my files, I suddenly realized that I've produced a huge number of summer themed patterns in this past year. It is only June, so there is still time to whip up at least one more summer project before the madness of holiday sewing begins. 

I decided to post just a few of those patterns to help you get ideas for a final summer quilting adventure. Remember, I'm not the only pattern designer out there. Craftsy is filled with wonderful patterns by numerous indie designers. Check them all out. 

But, I hope you start with mine!

At the beach: 
Beach Summer


Poolside:
August Plunge


In the garden:
Quilt Along Block 2

Baskets for Mom


Camping:
On the Road

Yummy summer fruit:

Cherry Pie, Christmas Pie



Keeping cool:

Flippity Flop Mug Rugs for Everyone

Totally relaxed:
Sun Down, Feet Up