Sunday, August 30, 2009

Shakespeare in the Park

The gorgeous quilt pictured here is by Denise Oldham of Apopka, Florida. It was entered in Indianapolis Quilt Guild's quilt show on October 23 & 24 and we can't wait to hear how she did!!

I know that hundreds of us have looked at this quilt many times with love in our hearts and fear in our brains ... it is so beautiful yet so intimidating! That's why a group has gotten together with me as the coach to put this quilt into perspective and help us all get one finished. If it's been on your "wish to do" list, then maybe you want to play along. So here's the scoop ...

If you haven’t seen this magnificent quilt, here is a link to some photos in lots of different colors.

Make a visit to Judy Martin’s site. On the left menu, click on photos, and then select “Viewer Photos”. Scroll down to the photos from “The Creative Pattern Book.”

Inspiring isn’t it? And don’t be daunted by this quilt! We’re going to break it down into little steps that everyone can do – beginner to life experienced quilters will be happy with the final product! It’s only squares and half square triangles!! You can do this!

Beginning next month (September) there will be weekly postings with directions for the section of that week. You will have a week to finish the step before the next one comes out.

Some more photos if you’re still looking for just the right colors ...

this one uses a Ricky Tims hand-dye

another blue and white

A really unique variation

blues and greens

black and gold and red

gorgeous rainbow

Before we can start though, you’re going to need a few things: the book so you have the pattern–this is a critical component as the pattern will not be given online; rotary cutter and mat; chocolate; sewing machine (or hand sewing materials if that’s your method); fabric that you love, love, love; a seam ripper (just in case, you know!); chocolate (did I mention that already?); and a little bit of time each week to work on your project.

You’re in luck right now, too, because The Creative Pattern Book is on close-out special on Judy’s site. Hop on it and get your copy! Other sources for obtaining the book:

Borders and Barnes and Noble can both order this book for you.

There are also sources in the UK and Australia if you Google Search the book title.

What's next? I'll be auditioning fabrics from my stash ... my belief is that "all greens go together" so I'm going to test that theory, with a special emphasis on lime greens that I've been collecting for years. I'll post some pictures when I choose my fabric!

Next steps:
Fabric Selection
Fabric Requirements

Retreat, Day 2

I have a sad face on writing this report. Very little got accomplished on Saturday. I did get another 15 maple leaf blocks done, and fabrics pulled for the other projects, but mostly I slept! I've been battling sinus infections all summer long, and landed another one this week that has knocked me out! Saw the doctor on Friday and we're now taking more aggressive steps to fix the problem, but in the meantime I'm being a weenie ...

Started to go to the next step on the maple leaf blocks which is building a log cabin around the blocks. Hit a snag, however, when I remembered that I had changed the size/measurements of the leaf blocks so now had to figure out the new measurements for the log cabin portion. I think I'll make one up in muslin before I dive in to cutting up the fabric :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Retreat, Day 1

Since I wasn't able to get in to the retreat at the quilt shop, I'm going to do this on my own, but I'll have you for company! It's 6:03 p.m. Friday, and my retreat started officially 3 minutes ago. I have 3 projects to work on in the next 6 hours -- the maple leaf blocks, my "antique" Y2K quilt blocks, and a new project that was a stay-at-home round robin and I need to make the center block for that, Nebraska, from The Quilter's Cache site. And if you're ever looking for a kind of fast quilt, this block made with 12" sections, makes an excellent good-sized top! See you again at midnight!

Update on Day 1 of my retreat ... I've got 25 maple leaf blocks done, and another row of my Y2K quilt sashed. yippeeee

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Need Design Space?

I do love putting bits and pieces of my projects up on a design wall and then stepping back to give it "an eye" ... or to put it up piece by piece, section by section, watching it grow into its final product. But I don't always have wall space available. I much prefer to see finished projects hanging on the wall instead of bits and pieces ... Here's a really quick, inexpensive design board for you to make ... and there's even enough material to make one for your best quilting friend!

Off to the hardware store where I found an 8' tall piece of foam insulation and it's 4' wide. Mine was blue, but I've also seen it in pink. Color really doesn't matter! There was no way that an 8' tall piece was going to fit in the car, so the nice guys at Lowe's cut it horizontally for me into 2 4' x 4' pieces. I paid about $9 for the whole piece. The first chunk I scored down the middle with my trusty utility knife and added my flannel. After reinforcing it with some duct tape (blue, of course), it was a folding design wall and could be stored anywhere! That one is 4' x 4' and folds down the middle with the flannel inside to keep it from getting dirty.

The second piece of insulation I cut directly in half to make it two 4' by 2' boards. Then I took some white flannel yardage and some extra long silk pins, and tacked the flannel to the board...

And in 15 minutes or less ... my design wall is ready to be put to good use!

How to Make a Fiber ATC (Artist Trading Card)

How to Make a Fiber ATC

Photo 1. The first thing I had to do with all of them is decide what I wanted to do -- yes, the idea comes first to me -- that way I'm not limited in my mind by what I see in front of me. My first subject is "where the artist dwells" -- and my dwelling was in the snowy mountains of Vermont!

Photo 2. Now that I have an idea, I took myself off to Joann's yesterday and wandered through the fabric aisles. I spotted a lacy bit with little dots that look like snow ... and a white satiny fabric that could be cut into mountains, and finally a white shimmery piece that would be snow close up ... and from my stash I have this lovely night background. I decided to put my house in this little piece, too, so here you see my house fabrics.

Photo 3. For this series I'm going to work with a larger piece and cut it up when I'm finished. Steph showed me how to do this the other day, so this is my first effort. I cut my background fabric into a strip that is 4"high -- giving myself a little extra space to work with -- and 16" wide (I'm going to be cross cutting these into 2 1/2" pieces when I'm finished and this was an easy measurement to work with). Next I cut the pretty dotted lace into a strip about half that.

Photo 4. For the first mountains I took another 3" by 16" strip and just made cuts to look like mountains and glue basted that in place. These are the mountains furthermost from me so they look more "pointy".

Photo 5. The next layer is shinier mountains a bit closer and a bit more rounded ... I wanted them brighter because they are closer to me. I just random cut along the length.

Photo 6. So here are the first four layers of my ATC already in place ... my background (with the blue snow and stars; the "distant" mountains; and the closer mountains. I've put a bit of basting glue on each piece to hold it where I've placed it.

Photo 7. Finally I took the white shimmery stuff and cut a 1" strip by width of fabric. For this I did a very wide random zig zag stitch by hand so that I could gather it up a little bit as I was laying it down to really give it depth since it is in the foreground. Presto!! my snow drifts!

Photo 8. For this demonstration, I cut apart my background to work with one little card and make sure the house was in the right place. The house is simply a little square and a little triangle glued on here -- I'll quick stitch it down later on ... cute, huh?

Photo 9. This is a piece of Angelina fiber -- actually it's two pieces -- green and white. This is a fusible fiber that I've just begun playing with. It's a little like thin weight Easter basket grass and you spread it out on a piece of parchment paper, cover with another piece of parchment and apply an iron. This fuses the fibers together and makes this into a bit of something that can be cut, shaped, etc. I thought I needed a little color in my snow scene, so I made this piece of fiber then cut out little triangles for trees.

Photo 10. Now I've tucked my little tree in place here and it's time to be off to the sewing machine. I loaded a metallic needle and white shimmery metallic thread and my free motion foot to stitch everything down.

Photo 11. Here's my first little ATC all stitched up. Now I'm going to add some beads for glamor and then we'll be putting it together. More to come! Let's make it ready for trading!

Photo 12. Here I'm attaching fusible webbing to the back of my strip. Because there are so many thicknesses of fabric, I won't need any kind of stiffener in between the top and backing. If it was flimsier, I could put a piece of timtax there to make it nice and stiff.

Photo 13. Next I placed the strip on a white background and fused it to the fabric. I cut them to size after the top and backing were together. For a stiffer card, you can fuse the top to a piece of interfacing or batting or whatever you like, then fuse backing to that.

Photo 14. My fabric strips have an application of fusible bonding -- Steam-a-Seam -- fused to the backs. I then fuse a piece of batting or stiff interfacing or timtex. You don't have to use this -- you can put a piece of card stock in there ... I just like them a bit stiffer. Once the "middle" is bonded, I apply the fusible bonding to a final piece of fabric, which then gets fused to the whole piece. My sandwich is now complete. Cut your pieces to size, if necessary; or if you've done them individually, trim them up to the correct size, and apply your edge finishing.

Photo 15. Here are three different finished, but certainly not the ONLY way to finish! On the left is a fluffy fiber; middle is a slimmer fiber, and on the right it is zigzagged. You can also satin stitch, trim with fancy scissors or any other method you dream up. Most of all ... HAVE FUN MAKING THEM!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I heard about a three day retreat at a local quilt store and thought about what I could achieve with designated time for quilting and no distractions ... unfortunately, they were booked solid. Well, I'm not going to let that stop me !! I got DH on board with the idea (after all, staying home will save money hehehe) and he's agreed to provide meals and the appropriate sound effects when required, and I can close myself up in the sewing room and work my way through some projects!

Sitting here in the wee hours of the morning, I'm allocating time to projects, but when it actually comes down to it, this list will probably change ... or I might surprise myself and stay on track for a change! It's broken into three hour increments, just so I don't get too bored on one project -- and there's certainly enough of them!

Friday kicks off at 6 p.m. to midnight -- two projects for the night would be my maple leaf quilt and how about a real oldie, my Y2k quilt...

Saturday could see some major progress on quilts so I'm thinking of things I really, really want to start/work on/finish ... It's a very long day so I can work on 5 things if I choose! ... Daisy Bloomin' Nine Patch (new project), Pink Starstruck from Bonnie Hunter's website (new project), and now my conscience is getting the best of me so back to the UFOs ... Double Irish Chain, Watercolor Garden, and Y2k ... very ambitious of me!! lol!!

Sunday is a 3-project day and I'd really like to end the weekend with some serious progress. Get the following projects ready to load on the longarm: butterfly tabletop; green bathroom quilts; earth-toned dresser top; and the Kansas Troubles quilt. Most of these things just need a little pressing and the back squared up bit before loading. On the sewing side, I'm going to focus on only 1 or 2 projects at most -- maybe bringing something to conclusion! Well, that's my plan as of this morning :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Winners of the 2009 Hoffman Challenge have been posted. This annual challenge has been around for 18 years and never fails to inspire quilters around the world. Each year Hoffman designs a spectacular fabric line for the challenge and the finished entries tour the globe for the following year. Wonderful to see ... awesome to imagine ... maybe the next winner will be you!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Really Working

Looking around my quilt room this morning, I realized that I had a different project on every surface of my sewing room! Starting with my fabric cabinets, which are piled high with projects in my mind

... to the ironing board which is currently storing my autumn leaf blocks. I need 70 of these blocks for Judy Martin's Autumn Splendor quilt -- I have 4 done so far but I did a lot of sewing on them yesterday. Now they need to be trimmed, pressed, and turned into leaves. The stems are interesting to me as they are dimensional! I take a slim piece of fabric folded in half and put it between two triangles to make the stem. I love working with the autumn fabrics. This project was started at my friend Maureen's cottage up in Quebec last autumn, but got put away when the holidays rolled around. Maybe I'll have an autumn quilt this year!

Hanging from the door of one of the fabric cabinets is the center block for The Quilt Show beautiful block of the month. This is the first time I've done a feathered star and I'm pretty pleased with how it came out. Now I'm working on the first round of borders for it. All the fabrics for this project are coming out of my stash, so I feel like I'm achieving some of my goal to reduce the amount of fabric I've been hoarding.

Another of my favorite projects is a radiating star quilt done in reds and creams. Now this one has been a bit of a challenge for me, in that I had to graph it before I could start sewing. Maureen finished one up at the cottage last fall and I just fell in love with it. I asked her if she had the pattern as it is so striking ... and she handed me four 2" squares of graph paper and told me that somehow they made up this queen sized quilt. Yes, I did spit my coffee out laughing! But I brought the little squares home and twisted and turned them every which way to no avail. So finally I sat with my own graph paper and little by little I think I've got the pattern ... here's the upper right hand corner completed ...

I'll let you know of all my progress!

A is for Achievement

Have you read Quilter's Home yet? If not, run out to your favorite book store and get a copy of it. It's not your regular quilting magazine ... it's a magazine for quilters with all our varied interests. I love Quilter's Home ... and Mark Lipinski is too funny.

Yes, there is a link to the title of this blog!

Back in March, Debbie Bates and Liz Kettle wrote a great article on designing your own Grand Patchwork System (GPS). I was rereading the article the other day, and it occurred to me that building my own System using their techniques might be fun as well as educational! It's all about plumbing the depth of our creativity and expanding our horizons. Yeah, I can do that! Using their alphabetic index of positive ideas, I chose "achievement" as my first word.

Sometimes I have so many ideas in my head, on paper, in magazines, tacked on my wall, and streaming at me from the Internet, that I get frozen into immobility. Then I know it's time to take a breath, get out my index cards and break things down into manageable pieces. Each project that I want to work on in any given month gets a card, and I break the project into steps. Ahhhhh now it doesn't look so unmanageable! And each task that gets completed gives me the feeling of achievement -- success -- forward moving. Not only that, but I pay myself for each step that I complete ... yep, $1 goes into my piggy bank for every step that I complete. And when I finally get the binding on a project, a whopping $10 goes in!

Here's an example of the steps to a project -- you can adapt it any way you want with more or fewer steps. This is for a quilt that I just finished that you can see in the Quilt Project show to the right.

Country Garden Checkerboard (started in 1996 and finished this year)
1. Count finished blocks
2. Sew any blocks already cut
3. Put rows together
4. Cut fabrics to finish blocks
5. Sew blocks
6. Finish rows
7. Attach borders
8. Quilt
9. Attach binding
10. Bind
11. Label

So how do you achieve your goals?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Talk the talk

If you've hung around any of the quilting lists for any length of time, or you're completely new to quilt lists online, you've probably seen lots of acronyms that leave you stymied. So today we've put together a little glossary of terms that come immediately to mind.

DH = Darling Husband (of course there's darling everyone -- sister [S], daughter [D], etc.)
lol = Laughing out loud
rofl = Rolling on the floor laughing

and the best-used quilting terms

UFO = Unfinished Object
PIG = Project in grocery bag
WHIMM = Work hovering in my mind
WISP = Work in slow progress
PIMM = Project in My Mind

Got some to add?