Monday, August 29, 2011

A Different Direction

I had all the best of intentions when I said I would finish the labels for Audrey and Doris' quilts, I really did!  Only one problem, I don't have the quilts here!

A while back I was having some insecurities about the quality of the pictures I was taking for my blog.  I had asked a friend of mine, who is an artist, if he would photograph some of my finished quilts in a little more artistic fashion.  So now the quilts are at his house and I was completely stumped when it came to making the labels.

So I went in a different direction.  I didn't want to waste a whole weekend so I started a new project.  Or should I say I picked up one that's been waiting patiently in the wings for many months.  I know, I know, I was supposed to finish those darn labels before moving on to something new but . . .  we were waiting out hurricane Irene so I couldn't go get them and I'm a very tactile person so I really needed to have them here to make the labels and  . . . well, OK, so maybe I gave up too quickly and maybe I was feeling just a little guilty and maybe that's why the next project didn't go so well.  Here's what happened after I gave up on the labels.

I've been so excited to get this quilt started, I've had the main fabric for months.  It's Debby Mumm's "Java".  I fussy cut the blocks like this:

I thought I had just the right mix of darks, lights, solids, and prints to go with the "Coffee" theme fabric.

I hemmed and hawed over the pattern for the past few weeks and still haven't fully settled on one. I've narrowed it down to three, here's why.

This one is called Natureland by Janet Houts. I thought the purple blocks would work for the large motifs and the layout has a large pinwheel effect.


Next possibly choice is Tranquility by Bev Getschel.  I really like the way the cream color creates a border around the center block.  Again, I thought it would be perfect for the large motif.  This quilt also has a secondary pattern when you see it laid out.  If you look just right on the bottom right you can see a star.

Pattern # 3 is Winterberries by Michele Crawford.  This one seemed good when I first saw it but I'm liking it less for this project and more for a Christmas Quilt for me ;-)

I spent considerable time on Sunday auditioning these three patterns and still didn't make a decision. However, I did get to try a new technique - tube quilting. I had seen this tutorial on Missouri Star Quilt Company.  It was amazing to see it done and a hoot when I tried it!  She did hers with two strips sewn together then combined with a third strip to get a sort of "string" pieced block. 

I just used two strips and came out with half square triangles.  It took me a couple of tries to get the measurements right but it was so fast I don't think I'll ever make them the old way again.  Or you can try it this way, using two charm squares to get 4 half square triangles.  One word of caution, the cuts are on the bias so you have to be careful when pressing.  I starched the tube when I pressed it to help keep everything stable before cutting.  Give it a try you'll love it!

I'll be giving the "Coffee" quilt another try tomorrow night.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Betty's Label

Check this one off the list!  I finished Betty's label last night and even got it sewn onto her quilt.  It didn't take long and I'm so happy its done.  

Here's where I started: on the computer.  I have a PowerPoint file that I'm using to create all the labels for the quilts I'm giving to The Girls.   

I know I've said this before but I can't stand to have a big honking white label on the backs of my quilts.  So I try to incorporate elements from the front to create a unique label that will coordinate with the quilt rather than scream at the viewer.  For this one I used a portion of the Disappearing Nine Patch block as the layout for the label. 

I printed the page and taped it to my light box.  I've found one of the stock fonts that came with the software works well for me to trace onto the fabric. The lines represent the finished seams.

I placed the fabric on top of the printed page on the light box.  In order to be able to sew the blocks together later I eyeballed a 1/4" seam allowance that is hanging over the lines.  I used scotch tape to hold the fabric in place and simply traced the letters onto the fabric. 

One thing I forgot to do was add a fabric stablizer to the back of the fabric before writing on it.  That's a trick my sister told me about that I haven't tried yet. Since I'm in the label business this weekend I'll let you know how it turns out on the next one.  

I like to use a Micron Pigma pen that has an archival safe, permanent ink which is also waterproof and fade proof.  I've been using them in my scrapbooking for years.  One of the reasons I like them is I've found that with the variying sizes of the tips I can get clear lettering even if the text is small.   I used a 05 tip for the word "Chippers" and a 01 tip for the rest of the words.

I had chosen 4 fabrics that are used on the front of the quilt to use in the label block.  It's important to pick fabrics that are light enough to show the lettering but that will also blend well with the backing.  Here's a layout of the fabrics after the writing was completed.

The orange square is one of the fabrics that is so striking on the front so I really wanted to include it in the label.  The square in the picture was too small for the next step so I used a larger strip when I sewed the squares together. 

Before sewing the block I heat set all the words with a dry iron.  Notice I said a DRY iron?  Remember the watermelon label?  That lesson is still fresh in my mind!

I sewed the squares together into a block then trimmed off the excess fabric.  I find it's easier to get the words on the fabric first, adjust the seams to get everything lined up correctly, then trim the block to the size you want.  It also gives you some wiggle room in case you mess up when you're writing.  This way you can switch out a square rather than trashing a whole block.  Again, I speak from experience ;-D

At just over 4 1/2" this block is bigger than I would have liked but it fits the scale of the blocks on the front as well as the overall size of the quilt (49" x 62") so it works.

Although I dislike labels in general, I really enjoy the hand work that comes with adding the label to my quilt.  Now that's a comment I never thought I'd make!  Up until about a year ago I was strictly a machine kind of quilter.  Then I fell in love with the Twiggy quilt and it changed my whole perspective on hand work.

Now I even enjoy basting!  So as you can see I basted the seams down and pinned the label on to back.  It's sewn safely into place and I think it looks pretty good . . . for label.

I can hardly wait to call Betty to make arrangements for a visit to give her this belated birthday gift.  If you're curious about the front of Betty's quilt you can see it here.

Today's challenge:  Labels for Audrey and Doris.  I like the look of the hand printing on my lables but I also like to try new things.  So I'm going to try printing from the computer onto fabric for one of my next labels.  Which one will it be?

Thanks for checking in.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Final Touches

Why is adding the label so hard?
Betty's Quilt -
Chippers, Cats, Camping & Beer

I'm ready to get started on my next projects but there are three quilts that still need labels.  I still need to get the labels on the quilts for Audrey and Betty before I can deliver them. 

And the quilt for Doris has been done for literally YEARS but still has no label.  Well, OK, I know why Doris' quilt doesnt' have a label, it's because I just can't bare to part with it!
So maybe that's what's really going on with me and labels.  Putting the label on means giving the quilt away.  No matter how much I want to give my quilts away, each one is a labor of love and parting can be such sweet sorrow.


Audrey's Quilt - A Day At The Beach
I did manage to get a label on the baby quilt for Trevor.  I had hoped to get to meet him and see the rest of his family last weekend at his Uncle George's BBQ but they had a break out of the chicken pox and couldn't attend.  That's fine, I'm good with waiting until the childhood illnesses are fewer and further between!  I delivered the quilt to his Uncle George who passed it along to Trevor's Grandmother.  Slowly but surely it's making it's way to its new home.

I debated long and hard about what kind of label to put on a baby quilt.  I'm not a fan of the big white patch with lots of writing stuck to the back of a quilt.  I understand the reasoning behind it, documenting the details, but I don't care for the look of it.  Besides, I make my quilts in hopes that people with USE them.  So if that's the case, I don't expect them to survive for long, especially in the case of a baby quilt. 

I finally concluded that writing directly on the back of this quilt with a permanent marker would be just the ticket.  Nothing to come unstitched and fall off in the laundry.  The picture isn't the best but you get the idea.  I followed the quilting lines and added the appropriate info; his name, the date, and my name.  Enough said.

So I've set a goal for myself to get the other three labels done before moving on to the three new projects waiting in the wings.  I have bigger plans for these labels than this one.  You'll be the first to know what's happening as I finish up!  Then they will all be ready to wrap up and give to their intended owners, even Apple Blossoms for Doris.

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bridal Shower #3

Another fun thing to do when it's too hot to quilt is to see a bride to be receive a special quilt from her Grandmother.  No I'm not the Grandmother, I'm the Great Aunt.  My sister Dutchy is the Grandmother and she's the one who made this beautiful quilt for her Grand-daughter Lindsay. 

And you can see from the expression on Lindsay's face that she was very happy and touched by this special gift. 

I believe the pattern is the Tennessee Puzzle but I'm not certain.  This picture shows a close up of the border.  All of the fabrics are 1930's reproductions.  Aren't the colors beautiful? 

There was another tearful moments during the gift opening.  It was when she opened a gift from Great-Great-Aunt Doris.  It was a set of pillow cases embroidered by my mother Dolly, who is Lindsay's Great Grandmother and Doris' older sister.  My mom had made them for Aunt Doris and she wanted to pass them on to Lindsay.  We're all sentimental when it comes to these things and I know Lindsay will appreciate them.

Here's Aunt Doris on the right with her daughter Jenny on the left and Great Granddaughter Emily in the middle.

The whole shower was lovely.  It took place at The Fells an historic estate and gardens on Lake Sunapee in Newbury NH.  We sat up on the porch of the Main House overlooking the back gardens.  I would love to go back at some point and walk around a bit.  Here are some more pictures of the shower and the beautiful setting.

The wedding party sat with the bride under a canopy on the lawn.

There was even a wheel barrel full of tools for the groom, Joel.  Shown here with Lindsay's mom, Sharon.  It was his first - and (according to him) his last shower!

Here are Lindsay's Aunts, Tracy and Brenda, with Mt Sunapee in the background.

And the youngest attendee of the day, at 3 years old, was Kaylin.  She's Brenda's granddaugher and what a trooper.  It was a long day and the weather was hot and humid but she was as good as could be and just a bundle of joy. 

She and her mom, Jessie, always have the cutest outfits like the ones they're wearing here.  Jessie makes their outfits and has a new store on Esty.

All in all it was a lovely day of celebration with family and friends.  Thank you to all the people who worked so hard to put it all together.  Great job!

And we'll see you at the wedding in October.

Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 Lowell Quilt Festival

Jean, Caroline, and me
Saturday was a great day for a quilt show.  I attended the Lowell Quilt Festival in Lowell MA with my friends Gail, Jean and Jean's daughter Caroline.  It was the first time any of them had ever attended a quilt show and I'm happy to report they really enjoyed.  Gail and Jean are not quilters but they do appreciate the craft.  Caroline you may remember is just learning to sew and created the Mermaid quilt that I wrote about in a previous post.

Me, Caroline, and Gail
 Lowell is one of many New England mill towns much like the one where we grew up.  It's bigger of course but the huge brick buildings are reminiscent of the woolen mills in our home town of Franklin NH and all along the Merrimack river.   You can see the an example of the mills in the background of these photos.

The quilt show is just one part of several events that happened in Lowell this past week.  I'm a working girls so I didn't get to attend any of those but if you check out their website you can get an idea of what went on. 

The quilted car cover in the pictures is an advertisement for the New England Quilt Museum.  They were part of the whole festival and we got to take in the exhibits after lunch at a local Greek restaurant.  There is an amazing quilt there that has over 5000 yo yos in it.  I"m not a big fan of yoyos but this was truly awe inspiring.  Each yo yo was about the size of a nickle.  You have to see it to appreciate it!

Jean's favorite was a blue and white table piece that had the look of Blue Willow china.  Gail was having a hard time picking just one.  This was Caroline's favorite quilt in the show.  Isn't it beautiful?!  It was an award winner.

Best Use of Color
Medea Escaping
Marilyn Belford, Chenango Forks, NY

This was ONE of my favorites but it's always hard to pick just one.  I also saw an applique with small Christmas tree blocks that looked like something that would be great on my sofa for the holidays!  I didn't write down the pattern name but I know I've seen it before.  It was a beautiful rendition and would be perfect for my Christmas fabrics.

Best of Show 
Vintage Button Bouquet
Linda Roy, Knoxville, TN

And what would a quilt show be without shopping?  Here's what I picked up this time, a Moda Charm Pack "Java" and a couple of coordinating fabrics.

And some more fabric with "words" for my latest stash collection. 

I did manage to get lost on my way home.  Well, not lost so much as headed in the wrong direction.  I know where I was I just couldn't figure out how to go West instead of North!  It's a long road with not many turns so it took me an hour and a half to get home when it should have taken 15 minutes!  LOL! 

Overall it was a great day spent with great friends enjoying my favorite pastime!

I hope you get to enjoy a quilt show soon.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

HOT Summer Quilt Shows

I love to quilt but sometimes it's just too darn HOT to sew!  But it's never too hot to enjoy a quilt show. 

I was really looking forward to vacation this year to get away from the heat of the city and relax by the ocean in Maine.  Before leaving to go on vacation I checked on-line to see if there were any quilting events going on in the area.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the Augusta Quilt show was scheduled for the tail end of my vacation week. 

So I invited my sister to join me for a day at the beach followed by a day at the quilt show.  It was a two hour ride straight up the Maine turnpike.  The auditorium is so close off the exit we drove right by it.  A quick U-turn and we were back on track.

Here are a few of my favorites from the show.

Beautiful colors and something I'd like to try some day.
I really enjoyed the quilts made from old wedding dresses.  They are part of the Quilters Against Breast Cancer program which provides quilters the opportunity to transform damaged wedding gowns into beautiful works of art.  The quilts are then sold to raise funds for the program.   

Fan Block

Crazy Quilt Block

Log Cabin Block

This was my favorite of all of the bridal quilts. 
I love the use of the wedding photo and all the embellishments!
And my favorite 3-D quilt was this wall hanging of beautiful flowers.

Last but not least was this fun coneflower with the great caterpillar accent made of yoyos!  The black and white background fabric reminded me of lady bugs.

My sister and I enjoyed the show but I have to say I'm always disappointed when the advertisement says "600 Quilts!" but many of them are wall hangings.  I realize this is going to happen and I do enjoy them but I love to see the full size quilts.  I'm usually inspired no matter what the size of the finished produces and really, isn't that the point - inspiration, which leads to shopping! 

As with our last outing, when we went to Keepsake Quilting in Meredith NH, our purchases were unexpected small.  We are both contemplating the size of our stashes and challenging ourselves to use what we have.  Never the less, I couldn't get out without a few items!

I tend to buy novelty prints at shows because ordering them on line can be a bit tricky.  The color and scale can be deceiving.  Even if it's clearly spelled out in the description I'm often influenced by the photos.

Tune in tomorrow for my review of the next show  "Images" in Lowell MA.