Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Year, new things

Ringing in a new year, I thought it would be appropriate to try something new! Fortunately for me, I had just the opportunity. My good friend and very talented long-arm quilter, Nikki Crisp, recently renovated a former chicken barn on her property into a fantastic long-arm studio and work space, newly christened as The Hen House. Along with work space rentals to groups and professional long-arm services, she teaches long-arm quilting classes. Since I don't have the funds, space or inclination to buy my own long-arm machine any time soon, I was excited about the opportunity to take a class and try it out.
A little Hen House-warming gift.

I wish I had some "before" shots for you of the barn building, but to say this place has undergone a major renovation is an understatement! It's beautiful, full of great work space, bright light, a comfy kitchen area and two A-1 long-arm machines.

A-1 machines, one is Nikki's regular machine, and one she uses for rentals.

Lots of fun, functional work space filled with light.

Cutting and ironing stations, design wall, kitchen, and the cutest little red fireplace ever - I'll have to go back for a picture of that!

Now, besides basting one or two quilts on my other friend Tracey's A-1 previously, my long-arm skills should be classified absolute beginner, but it is sure was fun. During my three hour class, I got to try a whole bunch of techniques and designs and had a lot of fun playing along the way. Best of all, Nikki did all of the hard labor, loading and dealing with all of the mechanical stuff. I just got to spend my time playing!

I'm sure not ready to trade in my day job any time soon, but I think it's great to continue to try new things and grow. At the very least, you will come to appreciate even more, the talent and SKILL of your professional long-arm quilter.

Action shot - look at that concentration! :) I was having fun, honest!

Nikki is pretty old school, so if you live in the area and want to find out more about the Hen House or schedule a class or rental, you can email Nikki or give her a call at 360-319-2914.

Happy stitching,


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Colors of the season

I am such a sucker for a beautiful variegated yarn. Looking at the stack of Kaffe fabric in my stash, you will certainly understand why I couldn't leave the store without this yarn. Don't worry, I only get the urge to crochet about once every three years so when the mood strikes, I have to jump on it! This won't be turning into a crochet blog any time soon.

I started off telling myself I would just make a scarf. Then, if it went well I could change the plan. I'm not know for restraint, so now I'm on the third skein and about halfway to an afghan! It's warm and cozy though, even though it is slowing down my progress on the star quilt.
Yarn impulse-buy with afghan in progress on scrappy maple leaves runner.

Just an update - applique star count is at 26...almost halfway there!

And in the midst of all of the hustle and bustle of the season, I was gifted these lovelies from a friend :) with a little help from Carol at Fabric-Etc. Thank you Tracey!

For all of you elves out there still diligently working away - happy eve of the eve and a Merry Christmas to everyone else! Hope Santa brings you some quilty goodness in your stocking!

Happy stitching,


Monday, November 10, 2014

Seasonal stitching

It's true, this time of the year starts to bring lots of rainy, gray days to my neighborhood, but it also brings crisp, bright, beautiful fall days. Both kinds make me feel like quilting! I think I'm a pretty seasonal quilter, but my seasons don't always align with what's going on outside! This time though, my creative urges and the weather are going hand in hand.

I was inspired by these lovelies that I picked up on a recent mini-shop hop with a friend. I've been eyeing them for awhile, just waiting for inspiration to strike. Most of these are Woolies Flannels from Maywood Studio, but not all.

When it's dark at 5:00, I want to curl up on the couch for the night with some hand stitching. This time around, I was in the mood for needle-turn applique. I wanted blocks I could work on a little bit at a time with simple shapes. I do have a plan! But I'm not in any rush on this one.

I originally thought I would do the whole thing in flannel - but not having worked with flannel before, I was unsure how the whole applique thing would work out. After some good advice from friends and a google search about flannel applique nightmares, I decided it would be better to keep the flannel just for the background squares and use cotton fabrics for the applique. **Best tip I've learned: PREWASH your flannel in hot water and dry to get any shrinkage out the way before you spend all the time on your project!

After tracing my shapes on to the right side of my fabric, I've cut them out 1/4" outside of my drawn line. I like to use this applique glue, Roxanne's Glue-Baste-It, that you can usually find at your favorite LQS instead of pins. A couple of drops does the trick and saves my fingers from many extra pin pricks.

Here are a couple that are finished. I think I need 56 blocks for the layout I have in mind. Doing a few each night, they are actually going together quite quickly.

Hope you're feeling inspired!
Happy fall stitching,


Sunday, September 28, 2014

A little bit of this and that

"Will work for fabric"
Can you see the sign she's holding? That even kind of looks like me. This was a snapshot of a quilt on display at Quiltworks in Bend, Oregon when I was there for the Sister's Quilt Show this summer. I didn't manage to note the name of the quilt or the quilter that this is from - but kudos if it's yours!

I would definitely love a red house. My house isn't red, but my front door is! I'm pretty sure I've wanted a red front door my whole life. At least that's what it felt like after my wonderful hubby painted it for me just recently. I love it! It's hard to remember what it looked like before (it was black) because now when I look at it, I think it should have always been red. It's the lipstick on the house for sure.

Entrance of Casa de Alexander
Well, sometimes life is like a perfectly organized stash shelf and sometimes it's a little bit more like a scrap bin. Mine has been more like the latter lately. But it is all good! Fall weather is quilting weather, yeah!

Happy fall stitching,


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Oh blogger, where art thou?

August? How can we be halfway through August already? Time sure doesn't seem to slow down - ever - does it? This summer has been so beautiful and I've been checking off my summer must/wanna-do list:

  • spent time at the lake
  • picked berries - made jam
  • visited Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show
  • hosted family friends for a visit
  • #1 son turned 16!!!!
  • and in between.....there has even been a little bit of quilting :)
Sherry's "Time to Sew!" project
This pic came in recently - Sherry T. was the winner of the Quilters World Winter 2013 magazine I gave away on the blog last fall and she actually made my clock project that was featured inside! Hers turned out great, don't you think? I love what she did for the center and she used a fun selection of fabrics for her blades.

***Super important correction notice - if you make this, there is a size correction on the fan blade template that was printed in the magazine. The fan blades need to be cut to 3 1/2" , not 5" as shown on the template. You can still use the template, you just need to trim the blade to 3 1/2", cutting the extra off the top wide end of the blade or your Dresden plate will be too big for your frame!

Last month, I was lucky enough to join a fun group of ladies at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. So fun. So hot. So many quilts. Definitely put it on your to-do list if you haven't been there before for the show. It's a real treat to see so many bright, beautiful quilts hanging outside. I just snapped pics with my phone so they're not the greatest but here are a few....No shortage of beautiful inspiration everywhere.
June Jaeger
The Stitchin' Post

From the teacher's tent...
Sue Spargo
Scott Hansen
Jackie Erickson
Anyway, that's a bit of a catch-up from me. This week is fair week and I can't wait to see the quilt exhibit. I didn't get anything in myself this year due to other deadlines but lots of my quilty friends I'm sure will not fail to please and inspire. Maybe my next post will even be sooner than a month from now - yikes!

Happy summer stitching,


Friday, July 4, 2014

Red white and blue revisited...

This holiday time of year just begs me to pull out the RWB scraps and make something, anything! Unfortunately for me, the projects I have on the front burner at the moment are anything but RWB, so I'll just have to enjoy some blasts from the past...Here's a look at some past projects to fuel your Independence Day spirit...

Tumbler made for one of my awesome aunts...

Scrappy stars (mine on the left) made for Quilts of Valor project...

This one is from Sandy Klop's book Quilts for All Seasons, made for my dad.
This is a Minnick & Simpson pattern called "Chippewa Nine Patch". It was strip piecing therapy for me and I loved every minute of making it.
No wonder I have so many RWB scraps! So whether you're out enjoying a parade, the fireworks, a BBQ, time with family and friends or just some pleasantly "pieceful" stitching time - Happy Birthday America!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Shirts to sleep under

Here's a project I finished up recently - a t-shirt quilt for my friend's son. I was waiting until it was gifted to them to share the pics. She sent me a box of baseball team shirts and gave me free rein (or maybe I should say, free reign) to do anything I wanted with them. Fortunately, they were happy with the result!

I have now made a grand total of TWO  t-shirt quilts in my life so I wouldn't necessarily consider myself an expert, but I do have a few hints I can share. They can be fun to make, but there are a few things that make them different - most importantly, the fabric you are working with.
The first step is to determine what you have to work with and then what you are going to do with them. The ten shirts I had were the mostly the same, differing by # and sponsor name for each year. The shirts also varied a little by size since they covered many years of kids' baseball. I also figured I could use the Mets name logo and there were some small patches on the sleeves that I worked into the corners and the nine-patches. From the pic above you can see my 12 1/2" square ruler fit nicely over the number so I knew I would most likely be working with 12 1/2" blocks. The height on the Mets logo was about 6-7" so that would work well into the border. Here's a look at my game plan going in:
Very high tech design process, I know. The only fabric purchases I needed to make this work was for the sashing, backing and binding. The cornerstones and nine-patch fabrics were from my stash.

Before you actually cut your squares out from your t-shirts, you need to stabilize them - this is a must. T-shirt material is kind of dicey to work with anyway and I can't even imagine trying to make one of these without stabilizer. I used a lightweight iron-on fusible stabilizer from Pellon but there are many available.
I cut my fusible squares about and inch or so bigger than my final block size to give myself some wiggle room for centering.

Here's a square of fusible on the wrong side of the fabric, centered over the # logo.
Follow the manufacturer's directions for ironing on your fusible for whichever one you choose, but I highly recommend using a pressing sheet or a scrap piece of muslin over it while pressing to keep your iron clean. Also, be sure your iron isn't too hot. If it is, the fusible will shrink right up, distort and just about melt (ask me how I know.) I also skip the steam. Wet fusible isn't a good idea either. Once the fusible is ironed in place, trim down your block to the final size, in this case 12 1/2".
Voila! This block is ready to go!
I repeated the same process with different sized pieces of fusible on the Mets logos and the sleeve logos. O.k., now to the design wall. Here's how it looked in process...
At this point, I was trying out fabric for the sashing and figuring out the borders. Striped fabric works really well for sashing, especially if you are working with plainer t-shirts. Other hints for piecing these: I still used a 1/4" seam allowance throughout and I pressed my seems to one side as opposed to open. If you use a light enough fusible, you won't have any trouble with extra bulk.

From the beginning, I thought the backing for this quilt would be baseballs but on multiple trips to the shops, nothing was jumping out at me. (I almost always buy fabric for my backs after I've finished the top - mainly because I don't always know what the finished size will be. My plans often change midway through :) But in this case, I went with this fun sneaker print that I found at my LQS, Fabric-Etc.:
I used the same striped fabric for the binding and the sashing (also from Fabric-Etc.) Stripes are also a favorite of mine for bindings. The water motif quilting was done by my awesome LAQ - Tracey. She did a great job, as always. :) The finished quilt ended up being about 52"x65".

Maybe the best thing about a t-shirt quilt, is that they are instantly user-friendly. The t-shirts have usually gone through many washings before making their way into the quilt and the t-shirts are personal and special to the person who wore them. So it makes an especially nice way to give them back to that special person in your life, the memories they capture and the future good naps they ensure.

Happy stitching,