Monday, November 28, 2011

A Straggler

A big cheer went up here on the day I shipped off the quilts for Away From Home: Quilts Inspired by the Story of the Lowell Factory Girls.  I worked doggedly to get nine quilts/projects done for the deadline.  But I only finished eight.  The ninth was not done.  My sense of triumph was tinged with a bit of disappointment.  But Donna, my editor assured me that eight was quite enough for a book.  But you haven't seen this ninth quilt, I thought.  It really fits with the story we are telling in the book.
But luck was on my side.  The photographer wasn't available until December 9th.  Is this an odd coincidence?  Quilt number nine, Dec. 9??  Donna told me get it done and to her before Dec 9 and it's in the book.
Although #9 was not done, I eked out some here any there over the Thanksgiving holiday.  When the family was in watching football, I was in my sewing room.  When everyone was sleeping in the day after Thanksgiving, I was up early making the binding.  Here's a picture that shows where I was.

So today after my daughter headed home to San Diego with her cute little dog Jack riding shotgun, I sewed the binding to the quilt.  Tonight I'll sit in front of the TV with Oliver and watch our favorite shows that all seem to be on Sunday night and sew down the binding, add a label and a hanging sleeve

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mill Girls Update

It's been quite a while since I blogged about the quilt I'm making for my upcoming book, Away From Home: Quilts Inspired by Lowell Mill Girls, (Kansas City Star Books pub).  Getting ready for my first Quilt Market put things on hold for a while, but I am back at work, trying to make my November 17 deadline.

Here is the center panel all appliqued.  The spool blocks are being arranged and a row of them are added to the top and bottom of the center panel.  

Now it's time to arrange the border blocks I've been piecing and appliqueing. Still have a few blocks to finish. 

All the blocks are done and sewn to the top.  Just two more borders to go.  Moved to the design floor "aka. the living room".

Loaded on my Millie.  Time to quilt . . . .

 . . . and quilt . . .

 . . .and quilt. . . and still quilting!  In this last photo you can see a little bit of the last two borders. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Quilt Market--Houston 2011, cont.

I didn't get a chance to take many photos at Market but I did manage to snap a few pics.

Here are the Paul and Mary Ellen, the creative forces behind Bonnie Blue Quilts.  As always, their booth is warm, homey, and gorgeous!

This quilt-Royal Peacocks--was in the Hoffman Fabrics booth.  I designed the pattern for them the week before Market.  Don't know who made it, but someone definitely burned the midnight oil!  The fabric is gorgeous and has gold metallic highlights.  It also comes in a blue color story.  The pattern is free to download on Hoffman's website.

Although Vicki Bellino of Bloom Creek Quilts was not at Market, her new block-of-the-month quilt Vintage Rouge was.  The quilting on her quilt is to die for.  And the piecing is so, so clever because she used a Marcus' Strip It (TM) fabric along with several others.

Here is a corner of the Exclusively Quilters' booth.  Notice the red arrows?  They weren't hanging in the booth, I Photoshopped them on the photo so you noticed two quilts I designed.  The larger quilt on the left is Fantasy Garden, that features fabric from their Renaissance collection.  The little quilt in the lower right corner is Have A Heart made with their Let The Sunshine In collection. 
I have to give credit to my dear friend Mary Carpenter who made both quilts just for Market.  Unfortunately, she became so ill that she was unable to attend Market and see her wonderful work on display.   Next year, Mary!  Both quilts were quilted by Lynn Douglass of Lynn's Creative Stitches.

Here's another picture of Have A Heart hanging in my booth.  Yes, Mary made two quilts--one for me and one for Exclusively Quilters.

And, of course, here is my booth!  It was my first time at Market as a vendor, so it definitely was a learning experience.  You may notice that I brought along a table and chairs.  So many of the young designers have no place to sit and virtually stand all day.  That is because they are young!  This 50 plus year old lady cannot do that anymore--thus the seating!  I think some of the shop owner appreciated it too!

And here's another view of the booth.  Sorry the picture is a bit fuzzy--it was taken with my camera phone.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Quilt Market 2011-Houston

I know I haven't blogged in quite a while.  Getting ready for my FIRST market took over because I wanted to get everything right.  Market went well--I think--since I have nothing to compare it to.  But there were some unexpected glitches, but those will be for another blog!
Amish With A Twist (88" x 105"), our new block-of the-month quilt debuted, which we are doing in conjunction with Marcus Fabrics (  Seven new solids have been added to their Centennial Solids collection for the program, which runs February-June 2012.  Designed with the beginning quilter in mind, the pattern instructions are in full-color and feature lots of diagrams and photos.
Check with your local shops to see if they are participating!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

New Block Finished with a Hurt Finger

Okay, so the tree block I posted last time is not done.  I've been working on another quilt that I have to get done next week.

Then my laser printer had a snafu and paper wrapped around one of the rollers.  I painstaking pulled the paper off, but still can't get the darn thing to work.  The error light is still blinking and the screen flashes "jam in output bin."

To top it all off I had a sewing accident last night.  I did something I'd never done in my forty some years of sewing:  I sewed through my finger on my sewing machine.  And yes, I'm having a hard time typing not using the finger.  The offending finger is the ring finger of my left hand.  For the life of me, I don't know what happened.  I was sewing like a mad woman,  trying to get the last border put on the quilt that has to be done next week, when Oliver walked into the room and started talking to me.  I looked up, taking my eyes off what I was doing and "BANG".  The sewing machine needle was in my finger and actually broke off of the machine and was sticking out of my finger. It had gone through the top of my finger, nail side first but did not break the skin on the other side, although I could feel the tip of the needle when I touched the pad of my finger.  I had Oliver get pliers--he went out to the garage for his needle-nosed pliers so he could get a good grip--and told him, "you'd better pull hard and get it out on the first try." Thankfully, he did.  Then he filled a coffee mug with ice and a little water and told me to put my finger it it, which I did.  We debated about going to the emergency room but wondered what a doctor could do at that point.  The needle was out, and ironically, the only evidence left was a little red dot on my fingernail and a tad bit of bruising.  Oh, and I also took an extra strength Tylenol which really helped.

So, this morning I felt pretty good.  The finger is sore--sort of feels like its been slammed in a door.  So I finished the block I'd planned on finishing last night.  Now I will always think of my finger when I look at this block.  (this was photographed when all the patches were glue basted in place)

By the way, Oliver freaked me out some when he got up this morning.  He walked into the family room and saw me sewing, and said, "You know, I've been thinking . . . what happened to the thread?"

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Mill Girls Tree Block

Hurrah! The first block of the feature quilt for Away From Home: Quilts Inspired by the Lowell Mill Girls is all appliqued.

Now, onto another block.  

I've been busy tracing, cutting out, prepping applique patches all weekend (and trying to finish up the piecing on another quilt which--if all goes as planned--will be one of the extra projects in the book). So far, I've been using the freezer paper and starch method for my applique.  This is the method I prefer, although I think I may have to use needle turn on another one of the blocks because freezer paper and starch may may far too unwieldy a process.

 Here's what I have laid out for one of the two tree blocks.  I still have lots of leaves to go!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Applique Time

This week I've made some progress on the applique blocks for the the Mill Girls book.  The quilt is a medallion style book and has four applique blocks at its center.  Here is the main block with the applique prepped and glued in place.  The "factory building" is sewn down as is the sun and the moon.  All of the fabrics are from the new Mill Girls fabric collection Judie Rothermel designed especially for this quilt, plus another quilt I've designed for a block-of-the-month program with Marcus Fabrics (more on that later once I start making that quilt!)

The "brown thing" both girls are holding are shuttles, a tool used in textile manufacturing.  Once I start sewing the patches down, I'll cut out the center of the shuttle patches, so it better resembles a shuttle, not a loaf of French bread. 

A shuttle is a tool designed to neatly and compactly store weft yarn while weaving. Shuttles are thrown or passed back and forth through the shed, between the yarn threads of the warp in order to weave in the weft.

The simplest shuttles, known as "stick shuttles", are made from a flat, narrow piece of wood with notches on the ends to hold the weft yarn. More complicated shuttles incorporate bobbins or pirns.
Originally shuttles were passed back and forth by hand. However, John Kay invented a loom in 1733 that incorporated a flying shuttle. This shuttle could be thrown through the warp, which allowed much wider cloth to be woven much more quickly and made the development of machine looms much simpler.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Away From Home: Quilts Inspired by the Lowell Factory Girls

After working on them for two days, I finally have the applique blocks drawn for the book on the mill girls.  The quilt has a center medallion made up of four applique blocks.  Then, in the border blocks that surround the medallion there is one applique block repeated eight times.  There are other blocks in the border round, but they are pieced. 

So now that I have my master patterns--and my fabric which arrived fresh from the factory on Friday--I'm ready to begin.  There's still a lot of prep work for the applique since I like to use the freezer paper and starch method.  And, it's almost inevitable that I will make changes as I work through the quilt construction.  You know how it goes, sometimes a fabric you thought would look perfect, doesn't.  Or you want to add something.  Or subtract something. 

In any case, I am so, so excited to get this project going.

Oh . . . and I've been working on another quilt for the book.  It's going to be one of the additional projects.  Here's a little peek at some of the stars that are going into this pink and brown beauty made from the Cocheco III collection by Judie Rothermel for Marcus Fabrics.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Classes, classes, classes (part two)

Then I finished the week at Bolts to Bindings located in Bakersfield, CA.  This time we were working on Windrose, which is a mariner's compass pattern.  I always love it when I get to teach someone how to do something they really want to learn, which in this case was paper piecing.  These gals were all A+ students because they took to it like ducks to water. 

Geri, the shop owner, put together a really good looking kit that many decided to use.  But everyone who used the kit placed their fabrics differently so no two were alike.  I cannot wait to see how they all come out.  I hope to see photos . . . . and post them for you to see, too!

Classes, classes, classes

Last week I was busy teaching classes and giving a trunk show.  My week began at the Tehachapi Mountain Quilt Guild in Tehachapi, CA.  They are a fun group, and we had a great time the day after the trunk show when they all worked on their own version of my pattern Ring of Stars.

Glenda and Eileen decided to use the kit featuring red and white fabrics

Judy and Nancy work in crisp blue and white.

Pam in red and black . .

Linda in earth tones . . .

Joan's quilt will have a scrappy floral look . . .

 Definitely the most daring color combination . . .

 And don't you love to see the different ways quilter's work!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What I Did Today

What a productive day!

**three loads of laundry
**grocery shopping
**unload/load dishwasher
**wash pots and pans
**talked with mom on phone while she was getting a blood transfusion
**cut, folded, packaged Block #6 Ode to the Blue and Grey
**answered emails
** played catch with Daisy
**went for my first swim in the pool this summer

Okay, so maybe not EVERYTHING on the list was productive . . .

. . .but finishing all the applique prep on this quilt was!  YIPPEE!! Just when it seemed like it would never get done.  I kept working on it because the alternative was going to the grocery store.  Now it's time for some sewing! 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Make it Yours

I love it when quilters show me the twist they put on one of my patterns or kits. 

Look what Kathleen Schumacher did with her Homeward Bound Kit.  She changed the applique border, making it all her own.  Don't you just love it?  And, on the blocks around the edges, she used the same fabric that is in the setting triangles to create a "floating" look to the birds in the air blocks.

Simply beeeuuutiful, Kathleen!  Thank you for sharing.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It All Begins With the Fabric

Fabric.  We love to touch it, to pet it, to stockpile it.  It's why we quilt.  It's why we keep starting new projects before finishing the old.

The fabric collection I am using for my upcoming book Away From Home: The Story of the Mill Girls is being designed by Judie Rothermel and Faye Burgos, two of Marcus Fabrics' designers.  I had to pinch myself several times this past week because I received the strike-offs (the pre-production prints) and was asked to give my input.  The package contained lots of prints, some in various colorways, and some in colorways so subtle in their variation that it was difficult to discern the difference.  There were FAR more fabrics than we needed.  The task was to narrow it down to 24 fabrics that I would use in the quilt.
Well, I stacked the swatches.  I sorted them.  I compared them to my illustration of the feature quilt.  I put some to the side.  Then others.  Then a couple made it back in.  The best I could do was get it down to 27.

In the meantime, across the country, Judie was doing the same.  We were to submit our choices to Faye who would compare our selections.  At this point, I don't know what Judie picked, but I do know that she narrowed her selections down to 32.  (I can't tell you how relieved I was to hear that!)
So here's just a little sneak peek of my choices