November 30, 2007

Let's make a Blended Quilt!

FloralsThree blog buddies and I have been wracking our brains to come up with a quilt challenge we could do together and this is what we've come up with.  OKPerisplace (Perry), Sister's Choice Quilts (Nicole) and Too Much Fabric So Little Time (Cindy) are my partners in crime, and the Blended Quilts series of books by Marsha McCloskey and Sharon Yenter (sadly, these books are all out of print) provide the inspiration for our challenge.  Pictured here are the fabrics I plan to use in the creation of my quilt.

BlendedI have previously made one blended quilt, shown here.  This is the Chintz Variable Star from the first Blended Quilts book.  It was completely out of my comfort zone as I was not a floral person when I made this one, but a trip to the now sadly defunct In the Beginning shop in Seattle provided these beautiful purple and gold floral Japanese fabrics from Yuwa that go together so well.  The border is a very soft, lightweight corduroy fabric, and I really like the different textures in this quilt.

The pattern I've chosen for the challenge is Arabella from the Blended Wall Quilts book.  Perry made one and it is drop-dead gorgeous.  If mine turns out half as pretty as hers, I will be a happy girl.  This time I will have my work cut out for me, I'm afraid, as there is no real theme to these fabrics.  I thought I was heading for something dark and elegant, but looking again at my array of fabrics proves that they are all pretty much the same tone with just a few true darks, so it will be interesting to see if this works!  I already see a couple fabrics that stick out like sore thumbs....

Our challenge will end on January 31.  We will post weekly on Mondays beginning December 10.  Please stop by again to check on our progress!

November 28, 2007

Chocolate has landed!

Chocolate I met a package from Minnesota with a little trepidation after having my credit card stolen this summer and jokers sending me nonsense stuff (magazine subscriptions, diet pills, business cards, toner cartridges).  I knew I didn't order anything from Circuits something-or-other in Minnesota.  But wait, didn't my chocolate swap partner live there as well?  Why by golly, she did!  Karen sent me the most wonderful array of chocolately goodness, along with a cute card and sewing themed notepad.  There were chocolate caramel pretzels, a chocolate raspberry bar, peanut butter cups, sunflower seeds, raspberry dipping sauce, peppermint biscotti bites, peppermint bark, and more.  Oh my - so much good stuff!  My kids and I dove right into the little truffle-like things.  DS had Hot Fudge and DD and I had the Raspberry - to die for!  My other son declined - he is not a fan of sweets.  Obviously switched at birth, don't you agree?   Thank you Karen for the nice surprise, and Sharon for hosting this fun swap!

November 25, 2007

Oh my stars!

StarsI finished the center portion of my Opening Day quilt - 36 8" star blocks. Now I have a bazillion flying geese to make to surround the stars. This may take awhile....

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thankgiving celebration. I cooked my very first whole turkey bird (unbelieveable, I know...), but it turned out juicy, delicious and dinner was finished on time. I enjoyed having a nice long weekend to spend with my family, but - back to work tomorrow. Sigh.

Another quilt project challenge is brewing with three fellow bloggers. Tune in on December 1 to see what we're up to.

November 21, 2007

Brand new, gung-ho quilter!

Friends_2 I consider Rani one of my dearest friends, even though we have never met.  We met on the internet and have known each other now for over 11 years.  Yes, she is my original "Imaginary Friend."  We have been together through trying to get pregnant, the birth of and raising of our children.  We have shared many laughs and tears over the years, she has helped me through some very rough times in my life and I hope that I have been there for her through her rough times as well.

She got me started cross stitching when my boys were babies, and then encouraged me to start knitting again.  I've been working at trying to get her hooked on quilting, and I think now that she is well on her way.  Go to her blog and just look at the gorgeous new quilt she just finished, after recently completing her very first quilt just a few short weeks ago (which is already quilted and bound, to boot)!

I'm so glad you've joined me in this wonderful hobby obession, Rani.  Looks like you are going to be a very talented quilter!

November 15, 2007

More retreat photos

Retreat1 You've already seen what I accomplished, but I wanted to share some that I took of others' beautiful projects.  This is my design wall, and you might recognize my 4 Roman Holiday stars.  The smaller Ohio Stars to the right are my SIL's and the Log Cabin blocks to the left are fabulous, aren't they?  1/2" logs!   But check out those drop-dead gorgeous feathered stars that Mary Hickey was working on.  She is making an incredibly complicated quilt for each of her children.  I wish she'd adopt me so I could get one of these beauties!

Retreat2 This was a beautiful basket quilt that Judy Pollard was working on.  She designed it using a computer program and it was fascinating to watch all the blocks go up.

One of my favorite parts of retreat is the "walk through" on Saturday morning after breakfast, where you go through the cabins and see what people have displayed on their beds and walls of their rooms, and also what other people are working on in the other work spaces.

Retreat6 Does anyone recognize this pattern?  I was told it was a Buggy Barn pattern, but I contacted them and they said it was not.  I would love to make a Christmas quilt like this with the wonky trees and presents!

Retreat4And here are some of the other works in progress or finished quilts on display.  I wasn't fast enough to catch a lot of these very prolific ladies as they would finish one and put it away before I thought to snap a photo.  Oh well!Retreat3 Retreat5

November 13, 2007

Opening Day

Roman I see that Nicole posted on her blog today about Opening Day using the Roman Holiday fabrics.  This is another project that we agreed to work on together, so I will post my progress as well.  I got a good head start on my blocks at my quilt retreat.

There will be 36 of these center stars, surrounded by a gazillion flying geese and assorted half-square triangles and squares.  I have a favorite method for making accurate flying geese that differs from Nicole's, and I also just discovered I could take even more shortcuts, so I thought I would share my method.

I use the Eleanor Burns Flying Geese ruler, which is available in 2 sizes.  For this project, to make the 2x4 inch finished sized geese, you will need the large ruler.  Carrie Nelson provides alternate cutting directions if you are using this ruler to make your geese.

Geese1 For each 4 geese, you need one square that is 7" and one that is 5-1/2".  There are instructions, measurements and good diagrams provided with the Flying Geese Ruler.  You will lay the 2 squares right sides together, centering the smaller square on top of the larger square.  The directions tell you to mark diagonally from corner to corner a line that you will sew 1/4 inch on either side of, and then cut on the line.  I discovered I could just put the squares together and cut diagonally, and then sew my 1/4" seam on each triangle, eliminating the extra step of marking.

Geese2 After sewing, press these pieces and you will have two uneven looking half-square triangles.

Geese3 Next, you are going to take these 2 squares and put them right sides together, with the light corner of one against the dark corner of the other.  The seams will not match up, but this is what you want, I promise!  The directions will tell you to mark from corner to corner diagonally and sew 1/4" on either side of the marking.  But again, I skip the marking step and go ahead and cut diagonally through the pieces and then sew my 1/4" seam.

Geese4It will look like this before you sew the seams.

Geese5 After pressing these, you will have 2 units that look like this.  Can you see the geese?

Geese6 Next, lay down the handy-dandy Flying Geese Ruler with the triangle-shaped marking on top of your seam lines, trim with your rotary cutter and voila!  You have 4 matching Flying Geese!  Easy Peasy!

November 12, 2007

Retreat project

PiecesThe best laid plans of mice and men, as they say. As you may recall, I intended to work on the purrple and cream quilt that I had spent so many hours cutting out before my retreat. But since I never know what I will feel like working on once I actually get there, I bring several projects and let my whim decide what I will work on. I ended up assembling my Cupcake quilt from the Carrie Nelson class I took this summer with Nicole. Seeing her finished version of the quilt made me want to finish mine as well.

Cupcake1This kind of project is not easy to do at retreat. There are 93 quilters in attendance, over 40 in the lodge where I was assigned to work. There is not a lot of space to lay out an entire quilt, so Cupcake got assembled in sections. As I sewed the rows together, I was cautious of the placement of the browns and blues, but as I got further and further along, I was reluctant to give it too close a look in case I needed to rip something out. I realized on the second day that I had not constructed enough of the border pieces so I would not be able to completely put it together as I had hoped. I also had a fear that I did not have enough of the blue fabric to make the remaining pieces I needed. I emailed Nicole my dilemma and she Express Mailed her blue fabrics to me since she did not use them in her quilt.

Cupcake2Bless you, Nicole - the fabrics were waiting for me when I got home, and I was able to finish the quilt today. I don't think I've ever come back from a 4-day quilt retreat feeling I could not wait to sit down again at my sewing machine. I was piecing last night and this morning to finish my project and - ta da! Here it is.

I discovered up at Camp Huston after I'd sewn together 15 of the 17 rows that I had ONE BLOCK that was turned the wrong way around. I looked hard at the rest of the blocks and decided since it was the only one, that it would stay in as my Humility Block. Can you find it? I figured just 1 out of 289 blocks turned wrong is pretty darn good.

TurnedDo you think Carrie Nelson would be proud that I left it in?

After finishing Cupcake, I moved on to another Miss Rosie's pattern - Opening Day - which I am making using Moda's Roman Holiday fabrics. It's gorgeous and I will share a photo of my progress on this second project the next time I post.

November 11, 2007

Back and exhausted!

I had the most wonderful time at my quilt retreat, but I am exhausted and need to regroup. I will share stories and photos once I have had a chance to get back in the swing of things. I nearly finished one project and made good progress on my second, but my underlying themes for this weekend were Miss Rosie's and leaving vital pieces for my 2 projects at home. I'll fill you in tomorrow. Thank goodness I have a holiday and can recover at home before going back to work!

November 5, 2007

Fun mail!

Posh1I'm somewhat of a fabric junkie (stop laughing, Nicole!).  And I've been manically checking the Internet since the end of Fall Market to get a glimpse at any of the new stuff that is coming soon, especially any Moda fabrics.  I found one website that had some stuff they brought back from Market, and I ordered the Posh FQ bundle (sorry, I got the last one!).  I received the fabrics yesterday and they are SO PRETTY in person! SWOOOOOON!!!!! They remind me very much of Chez Moi, but they are softer spring colors.  I don't know what I will make with these just yet, but I will have to find something fabulous to show them off.

Posh2_2 I especially love these 2 mocha prints.  Lacy, paisley, polka dots... all my favorite type of prints!  Yum, yum!

Dolls My other fun mail was a box containing 2 more Annies from Raggedy Old Annies - a birthday princess and the Tiny Annie.  Aren't they adorable?   They will look super cute decorating our room at our retreat.  And - wahoo! - we leave tomorrow!!!!!!!!!

November 4, 2007

A happy girl!

Toile3_2 I got my DD's Michael Miller Kids' Toile quilt back from the quilter on Thursday, and gave it to her when I got home from work at the quilt shop that evening.  The quilt gets dragged everywhere in the house with her.  I'm glad she loves it so much!  The quilter used a fun Circle Lord template called Square Dance, although it's hard to see from my photo.  It's concentric off-beat squares and an alternating star.  I thought it might be too geometric with the quilt pattern, but it looks really great and DD gives it 2 thumbs up, and that's what matters!

Only 2 more sleeps until I leave for my quilt retreat!!!!



Img_0085Nicole challenged her blog friends to post pictures of quilts on their beds. Well, I don't happen to have any quilts on my beds, but here is one of my favorites, pretending to reside on my DD's bed because it was the neatest bed in the house at the moment. This quilt is called Cowboy Logic and I made it from cowboy and bandana fabrics I collected for many years before deciding on just the right pattern. I love how this one turned out.

Edited to add: I had a couple questions asking about the pattern and I'm sorry I neglected to name my source. This quilt is the Market Square pattern from Rotary Roundup by Judy Hopkins and Nancy J. Martin.

November 1, 2007

Ghoul's Night Out

Ghouls Here's the kids right before I took them out trick or treating.  You can't see the fake blood that circulated through the chest plate of the boys' costumes, but they thought that was pretty cool.  What a mess - when the bottle of "fun blood" was opened, it stained my hands a nice, indelible red.  The costumes are in the garage and I will make sure they don't get anywhere near my carpets or (horrors!) my quilts!

It wasn't too cold and it didn't rain, so we had a nice walk around the neighborhood.