Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Piecing Paradise!

I must say I thoroughly enjoyed my Thanksgiving long weekend. My husband had to do a rush paint job for one of the Purdue sororities that he usually paints for in the summer. He was so concerned that he wouldn't be able to complete it in the alloted 4 1/2 days, that on Thursday morning, he went over and worked four hours in the morning, while I was cooking. His progress was somewhat impeded on Saturday, when he arrived to find water running down a previously painted wall. Investigation revealed it wasn't bath plumbing. It turned out that in one of the rooms, the occupants had forced a bunch of things into the corner near the radiator, and snapped the valve off. So, if he had not been in the house, the resulting leak would have continued without any attention until late Sunday afternoon. The house mother was really glad he was there! He called the house maintenance man, who came immediately, and called the plumbers to take care of that problem while Norm repainted the wall that was damaged. He worked until 6:30PM on Sunday evening determined to finish.

The net result was that I had all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, to do anything I wished. I prepared applique templates for blocks in progress, pieced the last two Block of the Month kits from my LQS, washed some fabrics, knitted a bit, watched movies, and did some other piecing, too. When the "sameness" of some of my piecing began to be monotonous, I decided I would drag out the first of four shop hop block collections, and begin to piece those. It was so satisfying to pick up a kit, make a few cuts, and have a completed block in short order. I made five of the nine kits from my first Florida shop hop last year on Sunday afternoon, and two more last night. The two kits remaining are a mindbender for me, since their construction is based in some of the popular "short cuts". Since I don't suffer math anxiety, and don't use those techniques, I'm finding them difficult to assemble. In one of the kits, there are lots of seams that I would have eliminated, but the fabric provided is configured such that it isn't possible to make a straight-forward cutting of the pieces for assembly. In the other, a bias edge is placed on the outside edge of the block intentionally. I suppose it doesn't make much difference for only one block, but it goes against my "grain"! EQ5 to the rescue . . . I'll redraft it to eliminate that bias edge, if I can do it within the pieces provided! Fortunately, I collected fat quarters of some of the fabrics used in the blocks; so, perhaps I can re-cut from those to make assembly easier.

Seeing the end of that project in view, I grabbed my other kits to review. Only one of the other shop hop projects has any applique, and those suggest fusing. I love doing applique so much, I have no interest in using that technique. I think of John Flynn's comment on fusing in a class that I took from him at Quilt America. He said, "If you are going to hot glue your quilts, you might just as well use duct tape!" All in all, one must consider the use (and abuse) the finished project will receive, but I find handwork so relaxing, I can't picture fusing becoming a technique of choice for me.

Friday was a really good day. I went to my LQS to pick up a Block of the Month kit. I always check the sale fabrics, and in this case, the grab bag bin. I scored some greens in one grab bag, some brights in another, and some extra blocks for the previous BOM called Monday Madness. In that project, an 8-inch classic block was made in greens and neutral framed with a red sawtooth border. The applique blocks are Old World Santas. Those extra BOM kits will make a few more blocks if I need them, and permit me to create an original set for my quilt.

Then, the really special purchase of the day . . . for the holiday weekend, of course, they had many items in the shop on sale. That included some floor samples of their Pfaff and Bernina machines. I kept looking at the selection, and one of my friends who works there, suggested that I test drive them. She set up a couple, and I fiddled around with them, and they were all lovely. I couldn't make up my mind, so I asked her which she would buy from those offered. I knew I did not want a machine with computer add-ons . . . been there, done that . . . and spent more in repairs than I paid for that machine in the first place. She put her choice machine on the table for me, and I played with it for a few minutes. Then, I turned around and said, "I'm taking this one home with me." It's a Pfaff 1529; has plenty of bells and whistles, and does everything I want it to do. It is capable of machine quilting, if I ever decide I really want to pursue that. Sewing with that was an added attraction for the balance of the weekend.

Finally, we have a Featherweight acquired at auction that we took for service. There was short in the foot control, and the tension needed correction. Fortunately, there is a wonderful sewing machine service shop in nearby Lebanon, Indiana, owned by Gary Sink. The man is a magician with a sewing machine. He worked his magic on this latest acquisition, and we are keeping it for our grand-daughter. Sews like a dream, of course!

Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend as much as I did!

Friday, November 17, 2006

More fun for button collectors!

Looking around at a couple other blogs, and I noticed some wonderful vintage buttons at Scraps and Threadtales. If you love vintage buttons, be sure to take a look.

I'm trying to get myself organized, so I can accomplish something. Our small quilt group is exchanging Artist's Trading Cards. They are to finish the approximate size of a baseball card. With only about a month to go, and ten or twelve to make, I thought today, I better get started. One nice thing is that they can be made completely from scraps! I'm trying to decide if I additionally want to make mine with seasonal fabrics. I'm doing applique, and my "icon" has only three pieces . . . it's a tiny tea pot. Next question is if they should be all one fabric, or two! I tend to think they will be more interesting with two fabrics, so the lid and base have a little more contrast. The rules are that embellishments cannot contribute to the thickness of the ATC more than the depth of a dime. That eliminates lots of beads, or anything of that sort. I'm looking forward to getting started this evening.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Florida Fabrics for Fun!

The tea pot fabric I couldn't resist is shown here with the fabrics selected to make a rose, as well as the pattern I found later! I'm certain that I need to add a couple fabrics to the rose choices, and probably delete one or two, also. That mauve one is really screaming at me in this photo . . . saying, "Get me out of here!" Not sure what color I will use for a background. Perhaps a very pale sage, if I can find one.

Here are my shop hop fabrics selected to accompany the block kits acquired from each shop along our path. The theme fabric for Flamingo Trot, of course, was the flamingo fabric in the center. I don't know if I will use all of these in the quilt, but at least I have a number of candidates! Don't really have any setting in mind. Thought I would decide after I make the blocks! Since I just love applique, I may have to make a center medallion, and use the blocks to border it. I've got a couple interesting flamino applique candidates in my library. I'll just let my imagination stew on this subject for a while. I'm sure something will come to me!

Needless to say, I bought more than I could EASILY carry with me on the plane. Fortunately, Melanie had an extra suitcase that she needed to send back to Indiana. Being the generally good-hearted soul I am, I volunteered to put my fabric choices in it, and check it through. Laura helped me, too. And, we included the purchases we made to bring back for the other gals in our group who weren't able to make the trip. Amazingly enough, we filled the extra suitcase up, but didn't go over the weight limit . . . that was what I was afraid would happen!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

From cheery to dreary!

Who could resist traveling with such a great crew? (From the left, Laura, Kathy, Patti, Marguerite, Jan, and our hostess, Melanie.) Picture was taken on the lanai at Melanie's home in Florida. We all flew in to participate in a shop hop called, "The Flamingo Trot". Needless to say, a great time was had by all. Now, we are all back in our appointed locations, and I don't know about Kathy or Jan's locations, but it is dark and dreary and raining here for me!

Because I was afraid there might be a worldwide shortage of cotton fabrics, which might limit my ability to create the quilts running around my brain cells, I was a good participant. I purchased the shop hop blocks at each location, and sufficient fabrics to create a lovely remembrance of the trip. Might be enough in that stack to cover my mini-van.

Being the great American that I am, I contributed to the economy by selecting additional fabrics for some other projects. In one case, I found a fabric that I couldn't live without, and thought how lovely it would be to pick up the rose trim on tea pots and tea cups in the print for applique. I selected some fabrics in a color run of reds, and a couple sage greens, light and dark, for stems and leaves. I reasoned that I probably have suitable patterns in my collection to follow through with the project in my imagination. At the next shop, I found an applique pattern that I walked by and examined at least six times. Finally, I was compelled to purchase it, because, of course, I already have the fabrics for it! Am I lucky, or what?

Next post, I'll make you drool with a display of my fabrics, and some additional snapshots, "on location."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Borders on a stalled project

Tired of spinning in circles, I decided to attack those UFO's that required the shortest amount of attention to enable moving them to my "quilt top collection". Here's the first one. It started as a "cheater" panel . . . also known as "ready to quilt". While they serve the purpose of a quick gift quite nicely, I like to think I have more imagination than just "slapping on some borders, and calling it a quilt". This was a sample for a class called, "Everybody loves a cheater!". The focus was to use the panel as a starting point, but create something more personal. As can be seen, I framed the large portion of the panel to bring it out to an even measurement. Then surrounded it with blocks. The star blocks feature the remaining portions of the panel at the center. I had some orphan maple leaf blocks that were not used in my Maple Leaf quilt. I made a few more using the same neutral as the star blocks, and framed them with flying geese, four patches, and even an hour glass, or two. If I were to make this top again, I would omit the hour glass blocks, because the flying geese, and four-patches provide more interest. (The photo is taken with the top draped over the quilt I posted previously . . . the blue isn't part of the Sweet Potatoes plus quilt top.)

Just a few days until some of my quilting friends and I head for Florida for a quilt shop hop . . . second annual event, even. We had such a wonderful time last year, we decided to do it again. Most of us will fly to Atlanta where we connect with Jan, coming in from Texas, and Patti, who will board at Atlanta. We have our meeting point selected, we'll have lunch, and then all will board the flight to Tampa. From then on, it's party hearty!