Monday, July 28, 2014

Iowa State Fair Block

When I got back from vacation two weeks ago I found these fabrics in the stack-o-mail.  They are the fabrics for the 9" Quilt Block competition at the Iowa State Fair.  This is my third year entering (see my other entries here and here) and I have to say that these were the most challenging fabrics to work with so far.

The first year's fabrics weren't my favorite, but there was a good distribution of color and value.  The second year they used some of Vanessa Christensen's fabric (loved them!) but this year.... Well... None of the fabrics is bad by itself.  I actually really like the orange dot.  The green is a nice basic and the others...well, I wouldn't buy them, but they aren't yucky by any means, but all together they were really hard to work with.

Because the values were similar it was hard to decide on a block pattern that would look good.  The orange and the dark green didn't have enough contrast and the stripe blended with all of the other fabrics.  And if I cut the leaf fabric too small the dark orange leaves blended with the orange dot fabric.  Ugh!  After looking through tons of block patterns trying to find one that would look good with the fabrics and look decently challenging without being too hard to make I came up with this foundation paper pieced block:

Nothing fancy, but the best of all the options.  (The chartreuse around the center is the stripe - fussy cut to add more interest.)  Unfortunately, I have forgotten how to blog this summer and didn't take a picture of the actual block before turning it in.  Don't worry, you aren't missing much.  ;)   But I will for sure take a picture of it when we go to the fair in two weeks.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer.  Only three more weeks until school starts here.  I can't decide if I should put multiple exclamation points after that sentence or a frowny face.  Being a mom is such a mixed bag.  :)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

This Week I...

...saw wagons on the Oregon Trail,

watched a vase be blown at the Tacoma Glass Museum,

hiked to a waterfall,

then up to a lake,

The view from Mt Constitution, Orcas Island, Washington

 then to the top of the island.  I thought I was going to Die.  
We hitched a ride back to the campground and fell asleep at 7:30.  
No sewing, but sometimes that can be the best thing.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Releasing My Inner Gee's Bend

 I know I said I was going to focus on my summer sewing on these four projects but I needed some handwork to take with me on vacation and the one project that required handwork was too unwieldy to take with me.  So I gathered up some scraps and decided to do some improvisational hand sewing kind of like the quilts of Gee's Bend.

 Right now I am cutting (with scissors) strips of fabrics and sewing them together with a simple running stitch.  I don't have any real plan for them now, but I think I might use them to make a medallion quilt.  I'll keep you posted.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Trifle Dish Sew-Along at Moda Bake Shop

A few months ago the Moda Bake Shop sent out an email asking previous contributors to submit block designs for a row quilt.  (We submit the designs and they write up the tutorial and make the quilt - how easy is that?)  I submitted a few designs and when I didn't hear back from them, I figured they weren't chosen.  Then a friend congratulated my on being part of the Trifle Dish Sew-Along.  ???  Turns out the Orange Peel block was selected!  I love that block and would like to make a whole quilt out of them someday.  Another friend is making an Orange Peel quilt out of her collection of Anna Marie Horner fabrics and it is Gorgeous!

If you would like to sew along all the details are here.  And here is the Orange Peel Tutorial.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Baby Steps with Baby Blocks


Summer has hit and I am finding it hard to find time to sew.  I have vowed to get all of the saplings out of our numerous flower beds this year and have been spending most of my free time in the yard.  In past years I have tried to cut the saplings down and poison them, but as I dig them up this year I keep finding live saplings that have been cut down numerous times.  Arrg.  I hope old fashioned digging works better.

I did find the time to sew up a few mini blocks for the Baby Stars quilt.  The largest is 6 inches and the smallest is 3 inches.  They were pretty fast and fun to sew.  My plan is for them to be sprinkled on the background of the quilt.  To make the setting easier, I might applique them onto the background fabric.  That way I can easily place them where I want them.  And the final quilting will help mask the applique and really secure them to the backing.

I really like the yellow Ohio Star block and can't wait to carve out the time to make a few more.
I hope you are enjoying your summer and finding some moments to sew too!

Linking to Freshly Pieced.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Blocks Are In The Mail!

I finally found a box large enough, packed the blocks for Soy Amado Project up and sent them to Alison today.  There were 101!  And they were all wonderful.  Thank you so much!  (To learn more about the project read here and here.)

If you want to keep sending me blocks, I will keep collecting them from American quilters and sending them to Alison as soon as I have enough.   (Canadians can send them to Kristy and all others should send blocks directly to Alison.)  Email me (lmgardunia at yahoo dot com) for my address and pitch in a few dollars for the final shipping to Alison.  It is much more affordable to send over a large package of 101 blocks than 25 packages of 4 blocks.  The cost to ship this package averaged 85 cents per block.  Not too bad.

If you make a few blocks, sending them to me would be the most cost effective.  If you have a larger number of blocks (20 or more) it would probably be less expensive to send them directly to Alison.  If in doubt, take your unsealed package to the post office and get the price to send it to Alison and the price to send it to me.  If the cost of sending it to me, plus 75 cents to a dollar per block (in cash - I am awful about cashing checks) to help with the final shipping is cheaper than sending them directly to Alison then enclose the shipping money and send them to me.  If not, seal and send directly to Alison.

Thank you all for participating!  If you want to send prepared strips for the final QAYG piecing or binding I will send those too.  (Use the measurements Alison outlines in this post.) I am sure Alison would appreciate it.

Hope you all have a great weekend!  It is raining here, but that is good because it means I don't have to work in the garden.  :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Summer Quilting Priorities

 So, this summer the Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild is having a Finish-It-Up quilting challenge.  Basically, everyone picks four projects that they want to finish by our September meeting and for each one they finish they get an entry for prizes.  Here are the ones I choose.

 1.  Christmas Triangle Quilt - this was totally inspired by a quilt made by Amy Smart.  I love it and finally got together enough Christmas Retro fabric to make it happen.  I cut it out last fall, but it didn't get finished by Christmas and then it languished in a bag all this spring.  I would like to get at least the top done in time for our Christmas in July guild meeting.

 2.  The Micheal Miller Challenge Quilt - I narrowed down the provided fabric and supplemented it with other prints and solids based on the colors my sister-in-law is using in their nursery.  This will be for their new baby...if I don't get too attached to it myself.  Seriously, if it turns out at all like I am envisioning it is going to be Awesome!

 I've cut out some of the fabric to make the mini stars that will be floating in the background.  And yes, that one in the middle is tiny.  We'll see how that goes.

3.  The Diamond Stars Quilt - I started this in ... 2012? ... eek ... and haven't worked on it in awhile.  I put it away early in 2013 because I had gotten to the part where I was appliqueing the middle onto the borders and it was hard to see with the poor winter lighting.  Appliqueing black fabric onto black fabric with black thread is not for the faint in heart.  This picture is deceiving in that it looks like the sides are on.  They are really just glued and pinned in place waiting to be appliqued.  I plan on taking this on our summer vacation.  (You can't go a month without quilting, right?) I might even add some decorative stitching before I quilt it.

4.  Cogs - I don't even have a picture of this one.  It is the oldest of the bunch.  The blocks are all done - I just have to sash, quilt and bind it.

So that is it.  My summer quilting priorities.  I really want to stay focused on those projects and get them done but I have already had to stop myself from starting something else.  :)

Do you have any summer sewing plans?

Monday, April 14, 2014

First Quilts

On Friday I went to the Des Moines MQG meeting and we shared how we started quilting, our first quilts and our most recent quilt.  It was really fun to learn how people started to quilt and to see their first quilts.  Some were....well, first quilts and some were declared too beautiful to be firsts.  :)  One of the things that was repeated many times was that experienced quilters kept on telling them what they could and couldn't do quilting wise.   Most of the time it had to do with fabric and pattern selection.

It reminded me of Mary Fons' lecture at Quilt Con (you can watch it for free on Craftsy - just search for Quilt Con - I really enjoyed it).  She had two main points (as I remember) 1.  If you want a beginner quilter to enjoy quilting, let them choose their own fabric and pattern and 2.  Never, ever, ever make a beginner feel dumb for not knowing something.  Sage advice to remember as we become better quilters.

I shared my first quilt that I made as a "grown-up".  You can read all about it here.  Click on over.  It's good.  :)

But I made my very, very first quilt when I was about ten years old.  I wrote up it's story and it ran on GenX Quilters as part of Anne Marie's First Quilts series.  I am re-posting it here with permission.  Enjoy!

The Little House on the Prairie books inspired me to make my first quilt when I was 10 years old.  I liked Laura's adventures, but most of all I loved reading about how people lived in the past.   In On the Banks of Plum Creek, Laura writes about working on a quilt:

"Mary was still sewing nine-patch blocks.  Now Laura started a bear's-track quilt.  It was harder than a nine-patch, because there were bias seams, very hard to make smooth.  Every seam must be exactly right before Ma would let her make another, and often Laura worked several days on one short seam. " (Chapter 36)

I had romantic notions about stitching away in front of the fire like Laura and Mary and decided to start my quilt making journey with the simpler 9-patch.  My mom let me pick through her sewing scraps and away I went.  I had very particular ideas about how the blocks should be stitched.  I had read something about stitches having to be small and even and unfortunately, my 10 year old mind translated "small even stitches" into "small stitches and seam allowances."  Needless to say, some of the seams are now fraying apart.   And having my own mom critique my work was far less enjoyable than Ma checking Laura's stitches.  Go figure.

I lost steam when it came time to bind my 9-patch block - would it never end?!?  My stitches show this lack of focus - I remember my mom trying to correct my blind hem stitch at this point and I got really angry as I insisted that I was doing it right.  I can see her do the same take-a-deep-breath-decide-not-to-argue-the-point-shrug-and-walk-away thing that I do when my 11 year old insists that she knows better than I.  Oh, how it all comes back around to haunt you...

I finally finished the nine patch quilt, played with it for awhile and then put it away in my box of special things.  It now hangs on the wall of my sewing room.  I started my next quilt 15 years later when a friend talked me into going to a block of the month club at a local quilt store.   

What was your first quilt?
What do you wish more experienced quilters had done/not done to help you when you first started?
Inquiring minds want to know!  :)

Monday, March 3, 2014

How My Husband Got Me To Try Applique

When we visited family this summer I snapped some pictures of some of my first quilts.  
When I first started quilting I swore I would never applique.  Too tricky, time intensive and tedious.  When my sister-in-law was expecting her second child, my husband got it into his head that we should make a quilt with appliqued clouds and a kite in the center.  I don't know why he was so determined to have a kite quilt but I couldn't talk him out of it.  I told him I would do a pieced border but if he wanted an appliqued center he would have to do it himself.  

And He Did!  He drafted the pieces and got to work on it.  He stitched while we watched TV in the evenings and even worked on it in the airport while traveling for work.  He got some really funny looks.  Not very many men applique - much less at the airport.  :)  But he got it done in time for the baby’s birth.  

It wasn’t perfect - neither was my piecing or quilting!  - but He Did It!  And what's more, it has held together through multiple children!  I decided that if my husband, who had never picked up a needle, could applique then I could too.  And it turned out that applique was a relaxing end to the day, not a tedious chore.  Who'd have thought?

We aren't going to like every quilting technique.  I hate piecing apple cores with a passion!  But not to try things because we are afraid?  Well, that's just wrong.  Try new things!  Overcome fears!  If my husband can quilt so can you.  :)