Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Through the looking glass

Have you ever had a day, or a stretch of days, where everything seemed like it should be copacetic, and yet somehow, nothing was gelling? I'm having a stretch like that. A trip to my pain management specialist and a new round of treatment left me in side effect hell for the weekend, allowing me to do little other than stare at the television and nap in a Benadryl-induced haze. I'm still having trouble shaking the last of the effects, and have spent the last two days stumbling through days at work and then coming home and crashing almost as soon as I walk in the door at the end of the day.

So sewing progress in these parts has been limited, to say the least. There have, however, been a few projects I've managed to cobble together in the occasional burst of energy.

Last week, the madman and I took a trip to Ikea for a set of shelves for the sewing room. It was nice to spend some time with him--work schedules being what they are, we rarely get a day off together. We got home and put these puppies together, and I spent the following couple of days shuffling, sorting and organizing. What we have now is this:

Top shelf: FQ bundles, a scrap bag from Moda (contains mostly Luna Notte), some pre-cuts, and a bunch of strips cut for my someday Single Girl quilt.

Second shelf:

Solids! Mmmm, I think I have a problem with gray. Also, green.

Third shelf, projects that have been pulled/cut for. Momo in the bag, a bin of Hope Valley and Kona Snow, and a stack of large-scale florals for a hopefully-soon project.

Fourth shelf: My little bin of Heather Ross scraps, some yardage for a Christmas quilt that somehow never got done this year.

Bottom shelf: Bins of strings and sorted scraps to the left, smaller bins of little shnibbles and a few works in progress. A LOT of this had been contained under my sewing table, so it's nice to be able to stretch my legs now!

Finally, in a short burst one evening, I went through my bin of pre-cut 2.5" strips and pieced together a few Log Cabins for Japan. Just a few more strips and I'll have them in the mail!

Here's to hoping for more energy and less pain in the coming days--I'd love to actually have a bit more sewing to show around here!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Stash, 3/20/11

You know how I've been muttering over the last few stash reports that I had something big that was going to be done with my stash? Beyond organizing? Well, yesterday was payoff!

No, no. That's not incoming. That's OUT. Approximately 150 yards from my "old" stash, all packaged and now officially delivered to the members of the CT Piecemakers quilt guild, which is the largest quilt guild in my area, at over 200 members. They have subcommittees that make quilts for a variety of charities, including Project Linus, Quilts of Valor, and a local one, Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. All are charities dear to my heart, for various reasons. But that's another blog post.

The guild used to meet at the library where I work, which is how I first became familiar with them. However, their large and growing group of members quickly outgrew the library's meeting facilities and moved on to larger venues for their meetings. But I knew they still met in town, so when the urge to do some spring cleaning came, I contacted their board.

I've been quilting for about 12 years, and while you've seen my newer, more modern stash in recent posts, there's a whole lot that has been packed in tubs in our spare room, fabric that in many cases has been with me through three moves, and not getting much love at all.

Do you see where this is going?

Yesterday afternoon, one of the Piecemakers was nice enough to stop by the library (I was working) and take all five boxes to be distributed among guild members and subcommittees for various purposes, including charity initiatives. It just felt like the right thing to do.

The numbers this week look pretty good, too! I'm still in the midst of the sewing room overhaul, and as a result, there hasn't been much sewing going on. Um, make that nearly none this last week. I'm hoping that a trip to Ikea tomorrow night and the subsequent final shuffle in the sewing room this week should clear it so that I walk into the room and can just sit down and sew, instead of walking in and feeling too overwhelmed to know where to begin!

So the numbers...

Used this Week: 150 yards (Not sewn, but out of the stash and on its way to being sewn!)
Used year to Date: 158.5 yards
Added this Week: 0 yards
Added Year to Date: 50.25 yards
Net Used for 2011: 108.25yards

Now I just need to remind myself not to try and fill the space in my house left by the donation!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I took the pledge


Tiffany is one of the queens of flickr swaps, and she's challenging all of us swappers and bee participants. Be on time. Communicate with your swap mama or bee members if you'll be late. Follow through. NEVER leave a swap partner or bee hanging. If you take on more than you can do? Do it anyway, and try and be more realistic in the future.

That's my pledge! What about you?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Stash, 3/13/2011

If you saw yesterday's post, you saw that I actually finished stuff! I know, crazy, right?

I kept some momentum yesterday and finished the last of my Just One Star blocks--13 in all.

Those are all wrapped up and heading to Moda in Texas tomorrow. If you missed it, go check out the Just One Star initiative on Moda's blog here. 100 quilts in 100 days for servicemen/women and veterans through Moda and Quilts of Valor's collaboration. As I've mentioned, the blocks come together very quickly, and it's a great way to do some good without having to try and manage a whole quilt project. If nothing else, it's a quick way to use up a little stash or some of those scraps!

I also made up a little monochromatic improv block for a super-secret collaborative project.

It's off tomorrow to the secret HQ!

Lastly, it wouldn't be a normal week around here if there wasn't a sexy bit of new fabric, right? Right!

I love solids. When I first got into quilting *mumbledy* years ago, solids were still strictly Amish territory. Yeah, I know. Crazy talk. As evidenced above, I've embraced them very warmly! So when Kathy of Pink Chalk Fabrics opened up her Monthly Solids Club, I did not walk. No, readers, I ran to sign up! She offers this in fat quarters, half-yards or yard bundles. I went with middle-of-the-road, and this month, my first bundle showed up, in lucky Irish greens!

Mmmmmmmmmm. So many possibilities. This bundle of 8 fabrics is actually 7 Kona solids and one Moda Bella solid--I use both brands and love them equally. Really, how could I ever choose a favorite--it's like asking me if I love my mom or my dad more.

So what does this mean for the bottom line?

Used this Week: 5 yards
Used year to Date: 8.5 yards
Added this Week: 4 yards
Added Year to Date: 50.25 yards
Net Used for 2011: -41.75 yards

A wee bit of progress!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I've been making a concerted effort to take at least an hour every night to come into the sewing room/office and make things. First, it's productive! Second, it's relaxing--it's been a rough week, but each night, as soon as I sat down and started to play with fabric, I could feel the tension headache begin to loosen. And that's a VERY good thing!

Earlier this week, I finished my swap pieces for my Urban Home Goods swap partner. A trio of placemats, AB Love hexies on Robert Kaufman Essex Linen.

Some straight line quilting, backed in Joel Dewberry's Modern Meadow Flower Fields in Sunglow, and bound in a Moda Crossweave (pale aqua with a cream crossweave) that I picked up at my LQS last fall. They've gone out to my partner, and I hope they get there soon, and safely!!

I was lucky enough to have the fabulously talented Alecia Sharp as my sending partner this round--I've been following her work for nearly a year, and I was so in love with what she was making this round, I seriously didn't even dare hope they were for me.

Let's just say, I made a lot of noise when I opened my package Thursday night.

Do you see that bag? Love hexies and linen? Yeah, great minds think alike! Too funny! And how sexy are those potholders? My photo is a little wonky, but the left one says "too HOT to handle" and the one on the right says "hot damn". SO fun--even the madman is totally enamored of them. So, so cute and I am such a lucky girl! Also want to give a couple of shout-outs to Tiffany, for being an awesome swap mama (this particular flickr swap got so big, they divided us into multiple swap pools), and to Heather and Kerri for creating and running this group--awesome job, ladies!!

I've also been making a few other bits and pieces along the way...

Like a cute little mug rug for a friend.
Love the fabric on the back--I got just this little bit in a scrap pack from Jenny, who was begging her blog readers to take some of her scraps off her hands--of course, how could I turn down a plea like that?

Just enough for a little 8"x6" mug rug--perfect! (Please don't look to hard at my binding. You know I'd do the same for you!)

Lastly, I've been steadily working my way through those Just One Star blocks for Moda's Quilts of Valor initiative--100 quilts in 100 days to servicemen/women and veterans. Looking for more info? I blogged about it over here. It's a great way to do some good without having the daunting task of making an entire quilt--the block instructions are really clear (the pattern is Minick & Simpson's, and they're awesome enough that they put a tutorial on their blog, in addition to the pattern--you can find that here.) and the blocks come together super quick. I sat one night and cut enough background and star fabrics for 13 blocks. I have just 3 blocks left to complete today--not bad for a week's work, eh?

One thing you may not know about me is that I taught myself to quilt just after graduating college. I won't tell you how many years ago that was, but it was more than 10 and less than 20. Fair? But that many moons ago, this whole modern quilting movement hadn't come into existence yet. So I still have a couple of bins worth of more traditional fabrics. Since the quilt pattern is on the more traditional side (thought it would be really cool done in modern red, white and blue fabrics), I chose to use this opportunity to dig back into that part of my stash.

Each block is left untrimmed so that the project volunteers at Moda can trim them down before the quilts are put together. As I said, the blocks are coming together very quickly--there are lots of opportunities for chain piecing, and each one is done in about 20 minutes. I'm just hoping they won't dock me points for the occasional clipped point. Heh.

Off to finish the last few blocks and get them sent out. Tomorrow, it's on to the Sunday Stash report!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Drive-by blogging

There are real posts incoming. In which I've actually made things. Really. I know!

But I wanted to stop through and say, go over to Kaelin's blog, The Plaid Scottie (no, don't. Ok, fine, go. Please, don't...) and see the beauty she is sharing in her giveaway!

Hint, the initials are KJR...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Southport Quilt Show, part 2

Back, as promised, with more photos from the Southport Quilt Show, Fabrics and Fabrications. You can find part one over here.

Among the things to catch my eye at the show yesterday were a few patterns you may be familiar with. The first?

Recognize it? It's Denyse Schmidt's Cogs Wheel pattern, done crib-sized for the quilt-maker's grandson.

I really love the quilting on this--the echoes of the cogs give it a more modern feel. I really love the choice of the blue background--it made the colors pop.

Over in the chapel, there were more quilts displayed. It was crammed with people, and really had to get a good photo, but from the door, I could see this cute little crib quilt...

Another Denyse Schmidt pattern, this time it was Single Girl done in pretty scraps on white. I cannot get over how striking this pattern is--I need to get off my butt and get cracking on my own version of this! If you'd like to do the same, there's a support group going on over on flickr, check it out here. You'll have to supply your own copy of the pattern (copyrights being what they are), but the support group leaders (Katy, Nova and Megan) are all giving great tips and tricks on everything from cutting templates to sewing curves. A huge help!

There were a lot of antique quilts which show that current trends (paper piecing, log cabins) have some great historical basis. Like this hand-sewn and hand-quilted paper pieced scrap quilt from 1900, draped over the piano just inside the door. You can see more of that stained-glass glow in this photo, too.

And of course there were hexagons, like this Grandmother's Flower Garden.

I love the way the blue and white tie together all of the scrappy hexies. This quilt had been acquired sometime in the early 80s in Appalachia--original date of completion unknown. For the amount of use it received (20 years on a child's bed), it held up beautifully.

And the log cabins!

This one caught my eye--I think it has a great modern feel, for all that it is at least 50 years old.

And then there was this one:

It's being used as a table topper, and was a yard sale find--it was going to be thrown out at the end of the day! Sacrilege! Each of those tiny logs finishes at barely a half inch. Unreal.

And finally, in the chapel, there was a great display up in front of the altar. I had to wait for quite some time to get a shot with no people in it!

I love the two barn raising layouts displayed like this--it's almost like the top one is being reflected in a pond. Very cool, and so lovely. They're both pieced using lots of silks and velvets, so the luster of the fabric was really rich in the stained glass light.

Altogether an extremely inspiring show, and I hope to be able to attend again next year. Now, to put some of that inspiration to work!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Southport Quilt Show, part 1

I had the great good fortune today to do something very special. This morning I met my grandmother at the Southport Congregational Church in Southport, CT to have lunch and attend their annual quilt show. I missed it last year due to a work conflict, and so I planned ahead this year--extensively!

It was absolutely worth it. The event is put on by a group of volunteers, and the proceeds from the show, called Fabric and Fabrications, go to benefit Make A Wish, Emerge, and Project Learn. They really out-did themselves. Before I go any further, to my CT readers, the show continues tomorrow--I highly recommend it!

The use every aspect of the church for display. The view when you walk in is really quite stunning...

Antique quilts, contemporary and modern quilts. Art quilts. Really, it's inspiring, and I have to say, my pictures don't do them justice.

One of the first quilts I got up close and personal with was this Double Wedding Ring quilt.

All hand pieced and quilted. My regular readers know by now that I have a deep-seated love of scrappy quilts, so it's no wonder that this lovely drew me right in. I could have spent an hour up close and personal with it!

The sun graced us here in CT today, and the effect through the stained glass windows over the quilts was really lovely, giving everything a hazy, golden effect.

This bed sized quilt took up its own pew. It is approximately 100 years old, and overall in great condition. Each of those little HST squares finishes at just over 2.5"! That is a labor of love, no? I love the bits of poison green that pull your eye around.

Seating was at a premium at the luncheon, so we didn't linger there too long. My gram and I shared a table with one of the contributors/volunteers and a friend for a bit, and they were lovely. I was delighted to see her quilt up close and personal after lunch!

Lakeside Hunter's Star, by Millie Ohm. It was made for friends who are building their dream house, as a gift. It was really striking--it caught my eye when I first walked in. If you look back at that first photo in the post, you can see it off to the right.

Finally, just inside the door when I walked in, I saw another great Double Wedding Ring quilt, another antique. It was in some disrepair, but without ropes in front of it, so I could get quite close.

No, no. Closer!

Made with a variety of 20s and 30s floursacks, as far as I can tell. (Note, I'm not a historian, just a quilter and enthusiast!) But look a little closer. See a print you recognize? That caught my eye in a flash! (Wondering what I'm talking about? Go and look at Denyse Schmidt's Katie Jump Rope fabric collection, then come back and look at this photo again. I'll wait...)

Come back tomorrow for part two of the quilt show, including some modern quilts, and more mention of Denyse Schmidt!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Just one star...

Have you heard about the endeavor over on Moda's blog, Just One Star? The short version is that they want to make 100 quilts for Quilts of Valor in 100 days, and all it takes it each of us making just one star block. You can find the instructions for the block over here.

From their site:

We invite you to join the Moda staff and designers in our newest Challenge…

The challenge is to piece, quilt and bind 100 quilts in 100 days using the
Flag of Valor pattern by Minick and Simpson.
The deadline for star blocks
is May 1, 2011 so that we can meet our quilt deadline
by Flag Day, June 14, 2011.

As the saying goes – “many hands make light work”.

We need 1800 star blocks to reach our goal.
Please take a few minutes to piece Just One Star block (click here for block pattern) using a medium red or blue and a cream background. Better yet, invite your small group or even your entire guild to make Just One Star block. Sign each block with your name and state.
Then we can truly say....the hands of a grateful nation comfort our soldiers!
We will coordinate the donation of the 100 quilts thru the Semper Fi Fund, a cause
that is near and dear to designers, Polly Minick and Laurie Simpson.

Thank you for your help!
Send untrimmed blocks to:

United Notions/Moda Fabrics
Attn: Just One Star Project
13800 Hutton
Dallas, TX 75234

What it means to me?

My best friend is a vet. So is her dad. My grandfather was a WWII vet. It's not about politics for me, it's about people. I'm taking this project as an opportunity to do something in honor of them, and all our servicemen and women, past and present. The thought of making a whole quilt is overwhelming, and we all know I'm not much of a finisher. This allows me to do something, and contribute to a greater whole. As of February, 2011, Quilts of Valor has awarded over 37,000 quilts to servicemen/women and veterans.

I spent two hours last night cutting for a dozen blocks. I'll spend the next few nights (body willing--we'll see how tomorrow's pain-management session goes...) sewing them. Then it'll be back to business here!