Sewing · WIP

Summer Fun and a Tote Bag

Many thanks to Lee of Freshly Pieced Fabrics for hosting this WIP Wednesday.  Click to return to her blog and see others who are staying out of the pool on occasion, and getting some Stuff Done.

Besides going to Long Beach, yesterday my son drove up with his three boys, joining my daughter and her family of three children (who had come from Arizona for the week) and we all went swimming in a friend’s pool.  I love it when they come!

That morning, my daughter and I had made two batches of cookies and a double batch of dinner rolls, and the evening was pleasant enough to set tables outside for our meal, where we served two kinds of barbeque chicken, salad, roasted potatoes and strawberries for dessert.

And cookies.  Snickerdoodles, if you must know, as we were saving the peanut butter cookies for her family’s day trips while they are here.

Still winding my way through the Lollypop Tree forest, I started on the border blocks.  My goal is to get everything cut out, shaped and pinned before I start back to school in two (dreaded) weeks.  This is a Giant Work In Progress, for sure.  What’s interesting to me is that for several years I collected the Kaffe Fabrics for this project, and you know how long it’s taken me to work on it.  But now as I’m coming to a close on the cutting part of it (just the billion squares for the interior borders left to do), it’s like I’ve released a whole stack of fabrics back into my stash for use.  I used some of it to line the zipper pocket of the tote (below) and I can see it sliding into other projects, now that I don’t have to “save” it.  As a result, although I was tempted this weekend in Long Beach by many Kaffe fabrics, I didn’t buy any.

And you know how sometimes you just have to SEW SOMETHING?  This was my project–a tote bag. I followed a lot of the tutorial designed by Lindsay Conner (found *here*), but deviated where I wanted to. [Her blog is also fun to read as she has a lot of tutorials.]  I’ve probably made a gazillion tote bags in my life, and after you wade through a few, you figure out it’s not rocket science–just a bunch of squares and rectangles.  I had originally thought I’d make this to take to Long Beach, but got bogged down in the center section, as I wanted a divided tote bag.  The day before I left I just couldn’t wrap my head around how to do it, so took a different tote with me.  (Besides, they gave us a decorative plastic shopping bag tote for our “souvenier bag.” Can I just say how much I miss the cloth canvas bags?  This kind is so. . . plastic.)

I wanted to use up the last of this Spoonflower fabric (thanks, Betty!) and wanted it quilted to make it a sturdier pocket.  This is about where I gave up that night, as the quilting. . . well. . . don’t look at it too closely.

So when I came home, I figured out the divider, plus the pocket/placket/zipper assemblage in time to finish it for church the next morning.

Here’s the birdie fabric side of the interior.

And here’s the zipper side of the interior.

My daughter and family will be here until Friday, then I really have to do something about my class.  Really, I do.

Sigh.  Summer sometimes ends too soon.

Classes · Quilt Shows · Quilts

Long Beach Quilt Festival, classes

I still have a bag or two to unpack, but I wanted to post about my days at International Quilt Association’s (IQA) Quilt Festival at Long Beach.  I went two years ago, when the quilt portion of it was okay with a couple of stand-out exhibits, missed last year, but happy to report that this year’s quilt display was waaaay better than the first time I saw it.  Or as my friend says, they only had one way to go–Up.  And they did.

I left my town at 6 a.m. on Thursday morning, headed through the Los Angeles traffic to Long Beach, arriving there around 8:15 a.m.  I left my car at the hotel, along with my luggage, and their shuttle gave me a ride over to the Long Beach Convention Center.  I stayed at the Hilton, only about a 10-minute walk, but there are three hotels that are closer if that’s too far.

Kaari Meng of French General fame.  She’s wonderful as a teacher, explaining everything crystal clear.

This was on our table when we arrived: the jewelry kit, tools and a fat quarter of her fabric to use as a working mat.  Like many others, I tucked the fat quarter away in my bag–no way I was going to get glue on that!

Pieces spread out: the cabochons and the bezels and the charms.  You had to be there.

Gluing done, we worked on attached things with jump rings.  I learned a lot, which gave me confidence to do the kit I ordered from her store over six months ago, and which has sat unassembled as I had no idea what I was doing.

The bracelet, modeled.  I put this and a few other pictures on my Instagram account: occasionalpiece, if you are interested in following me there.

She had a few other kits there to buy, so I took this one home.

I took two classes from Karen Stone, who is amazing, lovely and has great lines that she’s always throwing out in class:  “Have I told you more than I know?” and when working with piecing curves, she noted that instead of wishing away our troubles with piecing, we should “Learn to love the devil that you know.”  Good advice on so many fronts.

Karen Stone makes me laugh.  Like when she brought out this first quilt (above, and detail just below it), a sample for another class, and asked, “Do you want to see some irrelevant quilts?”  Of course we did, and I loved this one with all the raw edge applique leaves coiling around.

This sample was for another class also, but her combination of colors is just inspiring–not any that I would have gone for but that work together beautifully.  She says to mix everything up: batiks, 1930s prints, modern, calico, Kaffe Fassett. . . everything.

An earlier quilt, which she says was  snapshot of who she was as a quilter at that time.  As I work on my Quilt Journal, I feel the same way about my earlier quilts.

Clamshell quilt.  A lovely and invigorating riot of textures, design, colors.

All of these were laid out on the floor, so you are looking at a tilt in all the photos.  (Sorry.)

Hexies.  One-inch hexies, sewn by machine.  And that was the thrust of our class: Old Favorites, New Ways.

It looks like a puzzle on the back.  Using a lightweight cardboard template, iron just three sides of the hexagon, then fit them together, joining them with a narrow zig-zag stitch done with monofilament thread.

A closer view.

Lay out the hexies on heavy-duty water-soluble stabilizer, using a paint brush with water to “glue” down the pieces.  Notice how we are weaving them: raw edges under a pressed edge.  When I first started this technique, I was thinking how wierd it was.  But as I picked up speed, using the grid to align them and glueing them down as I went, I thought about the possibilities.

My sample complete, but not yet stitched down.  I then took it to the machine and zig-zagged along the folded edges.  It’s practically invisible that way.

And now the New York Beauty class, the block that catapulted her to fame and reknown.  I had purchased her book at the end of my first class and that night went home and read it from cover to cover.  It’s a great book with lots of tips and tricks about how to assemble these blocks, as well as a whole section on color selection.

Showing us how to cut curves–use the natural movement of the arm to cut an arc.

It was interesting to me as she talked about fabric choices, that it makes a difference when picking fabrics for the pieced arc, as to which fabric is used for the pointy things and which is used for the background.  Choose the fabric that pops off the other, she said.  In this photo you can see she draws from many many fabric types and colors, but she noted that each block should have the colorway of the whole quilt so it’s harmonious.

Upper corner of this quilt, showing the borders.

“Irrelevant quilt,” as she would say, but I was interested in how she used interior piping to set off a series of blocks as the borders of the quilt.

Demo-ing the piecing of the arcs.  “Learn to love the devil you know.”

My little wobbly block.  She said don’t trim them, as it will all work out.  I was interested that these fabrics “worked” together, as I never would have chosen them.  But this block does work and that interesting animal spots background that changes sizes works to pull the viewer’s eye into the block.

After classes, we all headed into Preview Night, where we could get first crack at the vendors and see the quilt show.

Here’s the booth selling Ghanian fabrics.

Another vendor booth showing a bright Log Cabin quilt.

Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts–I follow her in Instagram and also read her blog.  She’s written a book and I’m happy to say that it’s a solid effort, with clear concise directions, and few new tips and lovely quilts.  She is very talented and recently relocated to Southern California from Philadelphia.  It’s a family affair–her mother was working the booth, beaming from ear to ear at her very talented daughter.

Sandy Klopp, of American Jane.  I told her my camera was a “younger-lighter” brand, explaining that it was magic and made the person in the photo look 10 pounds lighter and 10 years younger.  We wish.

Jane Tenorio-Coscarelli of Quarter-Inch Publishing.  Amazing coat.

The last night I was there, the traffic was backed up all over the freeways, so I parked the car after dinner and went in for the last hour.  All the tour busses had gone home and the vendor area was pretty empty.  I felt like this guy, tired and wanting a nap.

So I went over and found my friend Heather, of Superior Threads, and we walked around.  It was pretty interesting being at the side of a vendor, as she greeted her fellow vendors.  I told her was like those children’s stories that when after the children are tucked away and are asleep, all the toys come to life.  She laughed, but agreed.  I have to remember that I show up at quilt shows a few times a year, but all these people see each other about every month.  She knew their stories, asked them about their vacations, commented on new products they had in their booths.  When I’m there, I just see them as temporary brick-and-mortar shops where I can glean new quilt fabrics and buy the latest.  But with her, I realize that we are all part of a large industry, all of us like pieces in a incredibly wonderful quilt.

More, next post, on some incredibly wonderful quilts in the show.

100 Quilts · Quilts · Tutorial

Village Houses: Joybells Ring in Heaven’s Street

When I was at our sewing group, Lisa brought out her “house” quilt, the earliest group quilt that we’d attempted together.  You saw hers.  Here’s mine:

Quilt #28

We had the common fabrics to use of the fairy print (on navy) and the pink striped (shown in some of the houses).

And here we are: Tracy, Lisa, Susan (who has moved away) and me, all holding up our quilt squares.  I love how they are all laid around the sofa everywhere.  And I love seeing that houses quilt in the background (#14 on my 100 quilts list, made 10 years earlier in 1988).

Detail.  I wanted it to have bits and pieces of a neighborhood so I included those things in each deep border above and below the houses.  I guess at the time it had significance, as I notice some World Wide Web fabric there (the earth globe above).  The internet was just getting popular then — seems like a millenium ago.

This one’s my house.  I guess my fairy was tired and lay down on the front walkway.

I entered into Road to California in 2000; here’s what I wrote on the entry form:

As I was designing all the houses, I tried to include a wide variety of styles, to illustrate the diversity of a street in Heaven, a celestial neighborhood that would be knit together in love and faith. In the upper and lower borders, I placed activities that the people in the houses might do: getting together with friends, outdoor activities, celebrating holidays, and of course, quilting.  The name of this quilt comes from an old saying that explains that when a child is given a home, “Joy-bells ring in Heaven’s street.”

You know those things you buy at quilt shows, like the panel above.  Whenever are you going to use them, if not for backs?

Okay, here’s a few of the houses.  The links underneath each illustration are templates for each house.  They are PDF download files, but I’d ask you to remember that since I was a novice at this software at that time, they aren’t perfect.  Some have a lot of pieces, others are more streamlined.  A mix is best, if you’re making a village.

1930s Prairie House ESE






Classes · Quilt Shows · Quilts

Long Beach Quilt Festival: Getting Ready

I believe in taking classes, when they interest you or teach you a new skill.  I’m headed to the Long Beach International Quilt Festival (or LB-QuiltCon, as I like to call it) and I’m taking three classes: two from Karen Stone and one from Kaari Meng, of French General.  Here are snapshots of the projects:

I discovered today that there is a Preview Night on Thursday night, where we get access to the quilt displays, vendors plus they have a Take-It-Make-It sort of set up of learning new skills.  I finally got organized this afternoon, printing out class supply lists, which led me to notice one curious thing.  I need no fabrics for the Stone classes, but did have to pay for a kit.  And they’ll have sewing machines for us to use (and charge us for, of course).  When I went to Houston a few years ago, I dragged a roller suitcase full of fabric with me to each of the classes I took.  What a change.

What a very nice change.  (I may sneak some of my fabrics in anyway.)

Creating · Quilts · Textiles & Fabric

Working in a Series

I think part of my discouragement this week was fatigue.  I’m working a stack of Kaffe Fassett fabrics.  There’s probably 40 to 50 different fabrics that I’ve collected over the years, and in this pattern it’s a challenge to get the fabrics to talk to each other within the block.

I can see, though, that working in a series has improved my ability to see what works, as I change out the leaves and some other smaller pieces, as well (above).  I found that I was less enamored of one of the earlier blocks, but it was already appliqued down and I would have been crazy to mess with it.

Here’s the final version of that block.

But I did mess with this one.  The brightly colored circles with red in them are a different line of fabric, Amy Butler, and they stand out among Kaffe’s florals. (Although I am using some Phillip Jacobs, and others from the Westminster line.)

I think the Anna Maria Horner fabric does harmonize well in terms of detail and color (the aqua circles at the top, and the second large circles down from the top, with feathers and berries).

All in all, I am glad I pushed on.  I do love looking at them on the pin wall, although now I’ve turned my eye toward the borders — with more design decisions.  When I went to the Springville, Utah quilt show last summer, a version of this Kim McClellan pattern was done up in softer greens, a lovely quilt and a contrast to the bolder hues usually seen.  In this, you can see the border design.

It was certainly deserving of its blue ribbon.

And you are all blue ribbon readers–many thanks again for your encouragement!

Something to Think About

Better Than Chocolate

You are all better than chocolate.

You are all better than giving in to discouragement.

In other words, you are all good company through the Quilt Swamp, and I was gratified and encouraged by your comments — thank you, thank you.

So I persevered today, made more difficult by the news from Colorado as I worked slowly, clicking on CNN or NPR or whatever news outlet I could find.  It touched us also closer to home, as the troubled young suspect went to our local Big U as an undergrad, where my husband is chair of the Department of  Neuroscience.  And whose emailbox and phone message box was filled with requests from major news organizations and newspapers for more information.  The Big U’s media office handled all requests, of course, but that something so far away from us can reach out into our lives made me think hard today, and I’m sure you all did the same.  My sympathy and prayers are with the families of those who were injured and slain, but also with the suspect’s family.

So, with a grateful heart for your nice and helpful comments, I wanted to show you what steady work in my studio produced.  I’ll be back tomorrow with some more comments on some of the process.  But  tonight, give someone an extra hug.  And send out a thought and a prayer out for those who are suffering.