Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy Golden Birthday

This past weekend was my son's girlfriend's birthday.  I was told it was her golden birthday.  You only have one golden birthday and this made it a very special and very big deal.  What you ask is a golden birthday?  I asked the same question myself.  A golden birthday is when the date of your birthday matches how old you are.  So Loren was going to be 25 years old on the 25th of July. 

I had never heard of a golden birthday.  I asked friend after friend after friend if they had ever heard of such a thing.  I got the same answer from everyone - NO.  So I decided that this was a family tradition, but was definitely happy to be included.  Who doesn't love a birthday party.

After dinner out, we went back to her parent's house for dessert and gifts.  Wasn't I surprised when she showed me a card from her Grandmother and Grandfather, who live in Ohio, that said Happy Golden Birthday!   But the best part of the evening was watching this normally reserved young woman open her gifts.  With such excitement and oohs and aahs, she was thrilled with everything.  And then this budding Julia Child opened her special Golden birthday gift from her parents and started to cry - a professional stand mixer.  Pure joy!

And then I had to encourage the quilter inside of her and her love of Kaffe:
When she was sad that she was turning 25, I teased her that she was now a quarter of a century.  She didn't think that was funny.  I thought back to those days and how I thought that turning 25 made me feel old, and now that I am older than half a century, it really wasn't old at all.  I told her that the best is yet to come.  Life just keeps getting better and better as you get married and have children and grow old with someone that you love.  As your children grow and mature and become adults that you admire.  The best is yet to come.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Free Paper Piecing Pattern

My last post was a tutorial on how to paper piece.  After thinking about it overnight, I had this idea that maybe it would be a good idea if I offered an actual pattern for those of you that want to try it.  So I designed this birdhouse pattern that you can play around with.  It is certainly suitable for beginners and it is quite versatile if you want to play with it.

Here is the pattern.  To print you own copy of it, place the cursor over it and right click with your mouse.

Click on Copy Image.  Then open Microsoft Word.  right click with your mouse and then click on paste.  The pattern should appear.   If you then click on it, you can adjust the size.  My pattern size was 8"High x 4" Wide. 
So following the directions in the previous post, my paper pieced birdhouse looks like this:

Then I decided to make a bunch of them and create a small wall hanging.  I varied the height of each birdhouse, added extra sky to the top of each one and varied the height of the grass. I ended up with this piece that measures 16"x23".

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Paper Foundation Piecing Tutorial

The purpose of this tutorial is to give sewers  visual directions to help them  learn paper piecing. People either love or hate this technique.  But it is a great way to get perfectly sharp points and/or to piece in unusual shapes and it is easy.  My primary purpose in presenting this via photos was to help anyone who has not used this technique before to be able to complete any pattern of mine (OyVey! Quilt Designs) that uses paper piecing.  However, it can be used to make any paper pieced project.

The first step is to have the pattern.  If you need multiple patterns or do not want to use the paper foundation included with the pattern, the best way to make duplicates is to use the pattern as a guide.  Staple 4-6 layers of either newsprint or tracing paper together.  Make sure the staples are not crossing any of the seam allowances.  With your sewing machine and an unthreaded needle. lengthen your stitch length to the longest possible and "sew" along all of the lines, including the cutting lines.  This will perforate the paper.  After separating the patterns, number them to match the pattern.

The best way to insure success is to pre-cut your fabric to the approximate size.  I tend to stick with triangles and rectangles.  I cut them at least 1/2" larger than needed and use rectangles for irregularly shaped pieces. There is definitely more fabric wasted using this technique versus a traditional method of piecing, but I think it's worth it.

1.  Cut out each individual paper foundation pattern, making sure to cut outside of the dotted seam allowance.  (Some patterns will have multiple sections.)
 2.  For each section, center the appropriate piece of fabric in the #1 position, on the bottom side of the paper, right side facing away from the paper.
 3.  Pin minimally to keep the fabric from moving.
4.  Trim the fabric so that it extends ¼” over the sewing line between piece #1 and #2. (Hold the paper up to the light to see the lines.)
5.  Align piece #2, on top of piece #1, along the line separating their sections, raw edges and right sides together.

6.  Shorten the machine stitch by about 75% and stitch with the paper side up, along the line between piece 1 and 2 starting and ending a few stitches before and after the stitching line.

7.  Iron piece #2 open.
8.  Folding back the paper, trim the fabric so that it extends ¼” over the sewing line between piece #2 and piece #3.

9.  Continue adding the pieces:  aligning, sewing, pressing and trimming, until all of the pieces have been added.
10.  Trim each pattern along the dotted line, aka the seam allowance.

11.  Remove the foundation paper after the piece has been bordered

Friday, July 23, 2010

Road Trip - Quilt Odyssey

If you are anywhere near Hershey, PA this weekend, you must go to Quilt Odyssey.  You will not be disappointed.  In its 11th year, this quilt show has the most amazing, highest quality quilts for such a small show.  Several of the quilts I have seen either on the cover of a magazine or having garnered the highest honors at much larger quilt shows.  The predominant trend is beautiful applique with unbelievable quilting.  Long arm quilting is the quilting of choice.  And on most of these quilts, there was only one person listed in the write-up. This means that the quilter making the quilt is has also mastered long arm quilting.

To stay with the theme of beautiful applique with amazing long arm quilting, the quilt made by a group of women volunteers (I think it was 35 volunteers) at Longwood Gardens won a well-deserved second place ribbon for their quilt, "Seasons of Pollination".  It was machine quilted by Lisa Calle.  A couple of my friends were involved in this collaborative  project.  The quilting can best be seen in the light colored background.

There are 147 judged quilts in the show.  In addition, there was an extensive display of 4 block quilts from the late 1800's, early 1900's.  These quilts were predominantly applique and red and green. 

This was my first time at this show.  So I was quite surprised when we left the ballroom with the quilts.  The quilts were in one room and then we headed to the other room that was FULL OF VENDORS!  So remember I just counted the quilts listed in the program and they numbered 147.  There were 83 booths in the vendor hall.  It was shopping heaven.  I bought things I didn't even know I needed.  And more.

As my gang left the show, laden with bags and bags of goodies, we congratulated ourselves for doing our patriotic duty and supporting the economy.  Now to get to all those projects.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Finished UFO -" Primitive Seasons"

After finishing the Torah Cover Project, I decided it was time to work on a fun, easy quilt, before beginning my next commitment.  I pulled out a UFO (unfinished object) that I have really wanted to finish.  I have shared it before, when my hand dyed thread ran.  (I was able to remove the excess dye with IT color remover.  It also removed some of the blue color from the background fabric.)  It's a folk art depiction of the 4 seasons. I quilted the background before I appliqued the tree trunks.  The stems and leaves/buds of the willow trees are hand embroidered. 

The objects depicting the seasons are fused and then machine blanket stitched.

Although I love the sheep and the wagon filled with french knot flowers, my favorite is the chickens. 

I really wanted to add a top and bottom border to the quilt made up of quilt blocks. This would add to that folk art feeling.  I thought it would be quick and easy.  I spent a day and a half trying to get this to work.  This is the block that I made over and over in many different colorways.  I kept auditioning many fabrics - repros, clear colors, on and on.  Sometimes I find that I have to set aside some of my ideas.  It takes a while to let it go, but after a day and a half, I knew this wasn't going to work. 

Finally, after agonizing and pacing around my studio, an idea popped into my head. ( This is how it usually works for me - not usually in an expedient manner.)  I had a bin of finished wool pennies that I was going to make into a penny rug.  I think I made them about 2 or 3 years ago.  After a successful audition, I created a top border with a sun and 2 crows and called the quilt "Primitive Seasons". So my "quick and easy" took me 2 weeks, but it's not a UFO any more.

I really like the mixture of wool and cotton. It measures 50"wide x 32" high.  There has been so much interest in it that I am thinking about making it into a pattern.  This would encourage me to bring back my Mother Hen patterns that I really never marketed.  I put these together about 5 years ago.  All of the patterns were wool and I had kits for almost all of them. I'll have to dig out the pattern covers and do a blog post. 
This is all just too much fun, but I could use either more hours in a  day or an assistant!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Winning Quilts

The winners have been announced for the AQS show in Knoxville. It is just amazing to see what can be done with fabric. Take a few minutes to enjoy the quilts of some very talented people.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thread Sketching On Place Mats

The quilt guild that I belong to, Calico Cutters, does a lot of 
community outreach projects.  It is one of the reasons that many of the women join our guild.  Our projects range from collecting and donating school supplies for Head Start to sewing and donating hats and scarves to the needy.  Sometimes we collect items, like canned goods and sometimes we sew items.  This month, we were asked to donate place mats for the Meals On Wheels program.

As much as I enjoy supporting our charitable projects, I just couldn't envision sewing place mats from scratch.  It would just be too time consuming.  I headed to the dollar store and picked up 2 different place mats.  One was hot pink with white polka dots.  
I planned to make these place mats special with a little of my own embellishing. My friend June is on vacation in Paris, and it made me think that the Eiffel Tower would be a fun theme.  I wanted to do this in a fast and fun way.  Threadsketching came to mind as a technique.  First I made a quick pencil sketch.
I used this sketch to make an outline.  With water soluble and easily tearable  staibilizer, I transfered the design to the place mat.
After free motion stitching aound this outline, I removed the stabilizer just by teaing it.  Then I filled in the rest of the structure.  And then I added the words.
I was thrilled.  For 20 minutes of my time, I was able to create a very cute and catchy place mat.  Actually, I made 3 of them.  

The next group of place mats were blue and I thought I would ty to make something that  was a little more manly.  Starting with the woven blue mats,
patriotism was my chosen theme.  After sewing a strip of fabric on the left side, I stitched the words, "Let feedom ring".  
These certainly turned out patriotic - but not as cute as the pink ones.  But I still think they will enliven the meals delivered by the Meals On Wheels clients.

While creating these placemats, it reminded me of when I bought my first Bernina and started quilting, almost 20 years ago.  Watching the demo of free motion writing on fabric bowled me over.  I thought it was so cool and I never thought I would be able to do it.  Well look what a little bit of practice can do for you!

****** And for those of you that have been sending good thoughts for my friend Kelly, who had  tree fall on the roof of her car - SHE IS HOME!!!!!  She is not paralyzed.  She will not need surgery.  She has a removeable collar, that she can take off to shower.  She is feeling house bound and is ready for some short road trips.  You go Kelly!!!