Sunday, November 17, 2013

New Toy

Hubby let me get a new toy as a birthday present and I got to play with it today.  It's a piece of software called Quilters Light Box and I saw it demonstrated at a class I had last weekend.  It allows you to take a picture of the top you're going to quilt and then lay the quilting designs over top of it and change the colors of the lines so you can decide on the best design and best thread color.  It's not 100% accurate but it gives you a really good idea how things will look.  This is something I have a hard time with.  I haven't had enough experience quilting to really know what something is going to look like, until it's all done.  Sometimes it looks like I wanted, sometimes it's better than I wanted and sometimes I put that in a stack never to be seen again as it is nothing like I wanted. 

Well today I used QLB on my Thanksgiving/Fall Wall Hanging.  I would have never picked this quilting design if I wasn't able to see it first using QLB and I never would have picked gold for the thread color -- I was planning to use dark brown.  But I really like the results and am so happy I gave this design a shot -- I was actually just playing and picking somewhat random blocks to try out on the quilt.  Below is a photo of what QLB showed me and a photo of the actual wall hanging all quilted.  And some closeups of the actual quilting.  Still needs binding to be done -- but that's for another day.  I need to go play with the table topper on my QLB and pick a design for it.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fall Quilting

I recently finished a quilt from my very first swap.  It was from the fall of 2006.  I had just learned to paper piece and was happy to swap to get examples of blocks that were done right, hopefully to learn from.  Before I made my son's quilt I wanted to practice, so I made this one in a similar fashion, alternating pieced blocks with fabric blocks and quilting two different designs in the alternating blocks.  I learned a lot.  This one has some catches in it where I should have been paying more attention, but all in all it came out pretty good.  It isn't as big as my son's and doesn't do much more than cover a queen size bed, but it's a good quilt to cuddle under on a cool evening.  Since it was a fall swap, all the blocks are in fall colors.  This was the perfect time to do it.  I finished the binding on my trip up to Karnack for work.  Hubby drove, so I sewed. (Not sure why it's on its side, but it won't turn.)
I couldn't find my Thanksgiving topper for my table and never had a Fall/Thanksgiving wall hanging so I decided to whip some up.  I'm going to trip the wall hanging border down -- it's too much and I can't decide if I like the table topper or not, but it'll do for now.  The wall hanging is 30" but will probably end up 24" square. The table topper was about 24" anyway.  I hope to get both quilted tomorrow, along with some other projects that have been in the quilting pile for a while now.  Then I need to work on my Christmas projects.  I am way behind and won't get much done, but it's fun to try

Friday, October 4, 2013

Quilt Across Texas 2013

This is the third year for the Annual Quilt Across Texas shop hop.  I participated two years ago for the very first one and had a blast. Last year I had two knee replacements and neither shopping nor hopping were very fun, so I went to a few shops locally, but didn’t really participate.  This year I joined in again.  I work full time so only shop hop on weekends, except for local shops.  Plus I took a half day off one day.

The first year I participated I went to 54 out of 91 participating stores.  My friend and I had a ball.  I actually rated the stores based on my personal experiences.  You can read about it here:

This year I went to 50 shops out of 58 participating.  It was fun, but not as much fun as the first year.  Spent three weekends with my friend and two with my hubby.  The stores just weren’t really into it.  But I still spent a fortune and got lots of goodies.  I rated the stores again, kind of.  I think I was in a better mood this year.  I won lots of prizes the first year and more stores gave thank you gifts.  But this year I’m entered into region drawings in 4 regions as well as the grand prize.  Hopefully I’ll win something, but if not, I sure did enjoy myself.  I’ve been asked to share photos of some of the stuff I got, so I’ll post that here to.  So here is my evaluation of the shops I went to that I had never been before:

Alford Inn, Van Alstyne – Cute on the outside, not so great on the inside.  Not accessible for anyone handicapped and pretty difficult for me and I haven’t even been using a cane.

Fabric Fanatics, Plano – This shop only has batiks.  Someone told me they had lot of beautiful batiks and they do.  Someone else told me their prices were reasonable and they are.  But they ONLY have batiks.  So if you’re not looking for batiks, don’t go there.  If you are – go there and enjoy.

The Old Craft Store, Carrolton – Nicely organized and decorated.  High prices but great patterns and great selection of fabrics.  People were very helpful.  Not happy that I paid $3.00 for a pattern that was free online, if I only knew.

Texas Quiltworks, Rockwall – Small shop run by husband/wife team. Not accessible.  Not impressed.  Owner designed patterns were okay.

Kaleidoscope Quilt Shop, Whitesboro - Awesome!  Tons of Moda Fabrics – both precuts and yardage.  Fantastic Patterns.  Nice Staff.  My favorite.  Five stars.

Pass Time Quilting, Gainesville – Good prices.  Not much selection, but good fabric.  Kind of small shop.

Cowgirl Quilt Shop, Jewett - Beautiful western paisley and unique western fabric.  Nice solids and mixers.  Nice lady.  Has online business.  Great variety of 108” backing fabric.

Sandy’s Quilt Shop in Joshua is a bad memory - Nothing good.  Best part was that Braum’s Ice Cream shop was nearby.

Country Stitches, Burleson – Excellent! Another 5 star.  Great decorations.  Big variety of fabrics and patterns.  Lots of space to roam around.  Beautiful display quilts.  Especially liked all the minis.  Spent a huge hunk of money there and wished I had more money to spend.  Seemed like everything they had I liked.

Serenity Quilts of Many Colors, Brady - Pretty nice.  Big Variety.  Could use more “decorations” on the inside.  Three stars.

One Quilt Place, Fredericksburg – Nice but not great.  Nice organization.  New building. Tons of parking.  Great inspirational quilts on the walls.  Staff not too friendly.  Three stars.

The Quilted Skein, La Grange - Beautiful shop. Beautiful d├ęcor. Beautiful fabrics.  Lots of different lines.  Very classic.  Not a friendly/homey kind of shop.  No novelty fabric at all.  Artsy and proud of it.  The gentleman in the store (think co-owner) couldn’t have been more rude or anal.

The Square Quilter, Shiner – Very nice. Lots of selection.  Lots of variety.  Lots of rooms.  Lots of panels include quote panels (one of my favorites).  Nice people. Awesome fabric.  Four stars.

Fabric Store & Sew Much More, Nederland – I guess if you embroider this is a good shop. About 2/3 of the shop was dedicated to machine embroidery and almost 1/3 to a classroom and it was a small shop.  So you can imagine how much quilting supplies they had.  But they did have nice solids.  I could have spent some money, but the people weren’t very friendly, so I didn’t.

Fabrics Etcetera, Webster - Nice shop.  Little high priced.  Lots of Variety.  Nicely organized.  Cute quilts on the walls. Nice classroom area. 

Pinwheels & Posies, Dickinson – Okay.  Not bad.  Not great.  All different prices.  Lots of patterns.

Cactus Quilts, Texas City – Small shop.  Nice people.  Pretty western fabrics.  Not real memorable.

Calico Cats Sewing Center, Lake Jackson - Nice shop.  Nice people. Not too big but lots of stuff in my style. 

Quilters Quarters, Conroe - Very nice but small.  Little pricey but nice people. Pretty little shop.  Three stars.

The Quilt Room, Huffman - Small but good. Little pricey.  Lots of good fabrics, patterns and help.

Quilter’s Emporium, Stafford - Nice size, nice selection, nice organization, great display, nice people.  A bit slow, but typical Texas friendly.  Good prices.  Good patterns.  Janome supplies.  Four stars at least.  Too bad it’s not a bit closer to home.

Heirloom Elegance, Corpus Christi – Nice shop.  Big variety. Nice sale fabrics.  Great samples. Lots of my style. Workers a little ditzy but nice and friendly.  Four stars.
Quilt Cottage, Corpus Christi – No comparison to the other one 5 minutes away.  Not memorable at all.  Helpers were no help. 

Here's some pics of my "haul" as my quilters friends call it.

For a Twister quilt in the Seattle Seahawks colors for my daughter's hubby.

For next year Breast Cancer charity quilt.

For a bedsize quilt -- some day -- and placemats.  My fave fabric bought.

This year's Quilt Across Texas fabric for a number of different projects.  The fat quarters were all free.  I hope to make a ruler/mat tote, placemats, table runner, Lone Star throw, and possibly a Twister quilt.

My Christmas Wall hanging to be. Love this fabric.

Quilt for friends - they'll never know.

Throw size quilt for my sofa in a pattern I bought

Future table runners - not this year though.

Pretties without a plan.

A kit for a GORGEOUS quilt wreath.

Some of the panels.  They don't photograph well -- too big.

Fabric for an Advent Calendar wall hanging.

Throw size quilt in new pattern I bought. Like a row-by-row.  Next year hopefully.

I've become fond of Western fabrics.  These are some of the pretties I came across.  They begged to come home with me.

I also got a bunch of free fat quarters and more than 20 free patterns.  Probably a dozen different new patterns that I bought and three new books of patterns.  Two signs that I posted on Facebook already.  And I can't even remember what else.  I definitely did my part for the Texas economy.  Too bad I didn't realize at the time I'd be laid off the first of October.  Oh well, still had fun.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thank You Wall Hanging

I've been working on a big project at work for a while and was getting down where only little stuff was needed for it to be perfect, but these little things are also the hardest things.  It was things my team hadn't been able to figure out on our own.  One of my coworkers had asked others how to do some of the stuff and he said it was too hard to do, so we should just forget it.  I wasn't willing to forget so I gave it another shot and asked the questions again.  The person I called took care of almost every issue we had left.  She fixed them all and we immediately got compliments on the changes.  After a long time and a lot of frustration, in less than a day this person fixed about 90 percent of the stuff we had left to do.  I was very grateful and said I wanted to make her something as a thanks. I asked what colors she liked and she said pastels.  I'm a bright and bold kind of person but I also have a lot of darks and autumn colors since that goes well with my house, but I hardly ever make anything in pastel. 

I used a Carol Doak pattern from her Mariner's Compass Stars book -- Sweden.  I did some digging and found colors/fabrics I thought were near pastels and made a small wall hanging for her. Just a 12" block and 4" borders makes a 20" wall hanging.  I think it came out great.  I quilted it in a pattern called Summer that I really liked and hadn't really had a reason to use.  I loved the quilting.  You can really see it on the back of the quilt.  Only took a couple hours to make the top, a couple hours to quilt it and a few hours to hand sew the binding on and I was done.  Today I added the little loops to the back to hang it with.  I love projects that can be finished in less than a day. 

Hope she likes my little thank you wall hanging.  It was fun to make.  So much fun I offered to make some for my daughter.  I figured I could make one for each month and use colors that fit the months.  Like snowmen for January and hearts for February and green for March and Easter pastels for April and Flowers for May and beach fabric for June and patriotic for July and fall colors for August, school fabric for September, Halloween fabric for October, Pumpkins and turkeys for November and Christmas colors for December.  All in 20" wall hangings so they can just be interchangeable using the same hangers.  Think that will have to be a Christmas present.  Pictures will come when I'm all done.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Getting things done - Summer 2013

I haven't posted in a while but it's not because I haven't been doing anything. I've been working on a bunch of projects and actually finished some, so I thought I'd share. My daughter and her family moved into a different house closer to her husband's work and it caused her to mix and match furniture that were in different rooms before and she didn't think things would "go together" like they used to. I told her all she needed was a couple quilts and it would look great. So her new family room is blue and brown and has mounted deer heads in it. She wanted a cover for her ottoman, so I made these. The first one came out twice as big as I wanted because my calculations were quite a bit off, so I told her I'd finish it and she could use it on her couch. Then I tried again after re-calculating and made the one the size she wanted. Both came out pretty good. I don't normally like simple designed quilts. I'm a paper piecer, so for me, it's all about the piecing and designs, but that isn't what she wanted. She's really happy and says it fits her family room perfectly. I'm glad, because I wasn't thrilled with the simple piecing so I used a really cool quilting pattern to make me feel better. I know you can't tell from the pictures but the bottom one is half the size of the top one.  In the top one the strips are 4" and in the bottom they are 2". The quilting has a variety of leaf types and acorns.
I also worked on a charity quilt I promised a friend quite a while ago (actually before my last knee replacement in January.  I finally finished that too.  Just in time.  He's going to donate it to an auction to raise funds for Breast Cancer awareness.  I didn't have enough of the fabric I wanted to use on the back so I had to use stripes.  Not my best work, but it's the back, right?  It's quilted in hearts and ribbons which matches the fabric on the front and the back, so I liked it.

I also finished a baby quilt for one of my daughter's friends who is having a baby girl (any day now -- last month if mom had her way).  This has got to be the best baby blanket I ever made.  After 3 grandsons it was so fun picking different and pretty fabric for a girl, but I found I couldn't go too girlie, which was a good thing as the mom liked my choices.  This is one of my top 3 favorites of all the quilts I've made.  Can't wait to see the baby on or wrapped in it.  The backing is minkie and feels so soft.  I hope she loves it.  I did.  Twister quilts are so much fun to make.  The quilting is hearts. 


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mystery Block of the month is finished.

A year ago, my favorite online group started a Block of the Month. I posted about it last August and have been keeping up posting the individual blocks in there ever since. (You can read about it if you want and can see the pictures here: I ended up having two knee replacements during this project. One in July and another in January.

The project was designed as a mystery, which means we had no clue what the design was going to end up as, we had to just follow along and hope for the best. Which I did faithfully for a year. I had to take time off after each surgery and it took a little while to get back in the swing of things, but I was so excited about this project and the fabric I had chosen, I got right back at it as soon as I could.

When Carol Doak first started this BOM, she designed it as a two-color quilt. I was a little skeptical about that, as two colors are often boring. Some others in the group added a zinger color or just used multi-color prints, and some even made it scrappy using every color under the sun, but I decided that Carol often has a reason for her choices, and she’s been designing quilts for years, so it’s best to listen to her. But I still thought two colors was going to be boring, so rather than using more than two colors, I decided to stick with the two color quilt, but add the zinger in the borders.

I found this Northcott Kaleidoscope line of fabric that really seemed to fit the bill. But of course I couldn’t follow her directions exactly so rather than use the layout she designed, I decided to do a little more and surround more of the pretty blocks with star points. And then it looked unfinished so I added reverse star points to make some of the blocks look like square in a square block. All those changes made me need more fabric than originally planned and I ran out when all I needed was 16 pieces of 4 x 4 inch squares. I looked all over and finally found it in an online store. I even got fabric for the backing, I wasn’t sure in the beginning what I was going to do, but since the fabric was expensive and I hate to use expensive fabric on the backing, I didn’t buy any, figured I’d find something on sale later. But the quilt looks so cool, I decided to go ahead and spend the money for the expensive backing. I decided very early into the process to quilt it with an all-over daisy design. I used a design by Anne Bright called Daisies and Loops.

I had a hard time deciding what fabric to use for the binding. Pink would look good on the front but bad on the back. Green would be best, but very boring. I could use the print, but it's so big I was afraid it would look funny. So I tried out a new technique some fellow quilters told me about. Below is a close up showing 3 layers of the binding because the quilt is folded. Two show the front which has the pink flange and the center layer is what the back looks like. All green. You can see my stitch line which should be right on the edge of the binding. I’m really happy with the end result.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Another Twister Quilt Done

After my surgery, I had a few friends come stay with me and help take care of me. I was well enough when Ann came that we worked together to make a twister quilt. She did a lot of the work, but we did get it all pieced and quilted during the week she was here with me. All that was needed was to get the binding added. I hate to admit how long it took me to get the binding finished, but it is finally done. This was not a color scheme I would have picked, it is civil war reproduction fabric I think, but I have to say when it was all done I really liked it. Everything seemed to go together so well, even the quilting. I know she'll like it and it'll be a great reminder of our time together. I have fabric for a few more of these twisters. They are so fun to make. If it wasn't for the binding I'd make one a week.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Spring Lily Challenge

The leader of my favorite online quilting group (Carol Doak) designed and dedicated a block in memory of Pat Campbell who passed away in March. She was a friend and colleague of Carol's most know for her applique quilts. Then Carol challenged us to use the block she designed with a border created using Carol's newest book (Creative Combinations). I chose Double Duty Unit 05, which is a chevron type of block. I had to make them 2" x 4" to make them look the way I wanted and then I modified the block and left off the last sections that would square off the block so that the quilt was left with a zig zag border. I had to birth the quilt instead of adding a binding and then I had to quilt part of it on my regular machine before I could quilt the rest on the long arm. I finally finished all the quilting today. I still need some more practice but all in all I'm pretty happy with it. You can't really see the quilting on the front so I took a picture of the back too. It's so nice to get back into sewing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pink Ribbon Quilt Tops for Breast Cancer Charity

My favorite online quilting group is doing some charity projects in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness. We started in October. We had 56 people volunteer to make pink and white ribbon blocks, 15 members volunteered to assemble all those blocks into quilt tops, 16 more people volunteered to quilt the tops, and 12 people volunteered to finish the quilts by binding and adding a quilting label. Then these quilts are to be donated to charities that would use them for fundraisers to promote efforts toward breast cancer research, awareness, or related activities.

I volunteered to quilt the tops that other people made. I did 5 of those and it was so much fun picking out what quilting design to use to highlight the quilt but not overpower the quilting design. I got to try out a bunch of designs I hadn't used before. Someone misread the volunteer list and thought I wanted to assemble the tops, so she sent me 9 pink ribbon blocks. I was supposed to send them to someone else but I kept forgetting. Then another member posted a design she came up with and I liked it so much, I decided to use her design and the 9 blocks sent to me by mistake and make a top. It came out great. I posted on the group that I needed some more blocks and got 9 more, so another top is in my future. Don't think I'll get it done before my surgery though

I went to the local quilt shop looking for fabric for the backing (when I was there previously they were having a clearance sale and had a bunch of pink fabric). Of course when I went back (after the inventory) there wasn’t hardly any pink fabric left and none with enough fabric to cover the back of my quilt. So I ended up paying full price for some really cool pink ribbon backing fabric. I'm so glad I did, it looks perfect. I also got some fabric on sale from a friend who has a fabric shop. I ended up buying 10 yards at a little over $4 per yard. Quite a deal. I used it on the back of 3 quilts.

But I had the hardest time picking a quilting design for the top I made. So I decided to use my favorite quilting design which is just swirls. It takes a long time and a lot of thread, but I didn’t care, it was what I wanted. Then I added the binding, including the hand stitching I hate. But the hand stitching wasn’t holding well, so I had to add machine stitching around the binding too (something I hardly ever do). So this charity project ended up costing me a bit more than planned and taking a lot more time than I dreamed, but I am so happy with the end results, it was definitely worth it. Now I just hope the charity it goes to will be able to use it to raise a bunch of funds for Breast Cancer Awareness.

Below are photos of the quilts I quilted (I didn’t piece 4 of the tops, they were each someone else’s design/work); the one with 9 stars is the one I made the blocks for (except the center ribbons) and added the perfect backing, quilted, and machine and hand-stitched the binding. Wish I was keeping it, but hopefully it’ll raise money for the cause and provide comfort to someone special.