Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Meet the Machines

My workhorse is my Bernina 1230. I bought her in 1991 at my first Quilt Festival. I can't believe that she will be 20 years old this autumn! That was the most considered purchase I've ever made--I test sewed everything! At that time, computerized sewing machines were new and I wanted something I could grow into. The thing that really sold me on this machine was the presser foot knee lift--no one else had that at the time. It was a big purchase, but I've never regretted it. My recommendations for anyone buying a new sewing machine would be to shop, shop, shop then buy the best machine you can afford. I look forward to many more years with this machine.

bernina 1230

And she was my only machine until 2007. That year, mon amie Odile, came from France to stay with us during the Quilt Festival. She had become quite a collector of machines a coudre. We were emailing in advance of her trip and I said how I always look at the Singer Featherweights but never get one because I didn't feel that I knew enough to be a smart shopper. She said she had just bought one (her second one) in the UK and would bring it to me as a gift. Well, I just cried! It was and remains one of the most generous gifts I've ever received. Encore, merci beaucoup, Odile! This past summer this little machine was my only machine while the Bernina was in the shop for 4 weeks. The little Featherweight is another workhorse and I love her as much as my Bernina.

singer featherweight

Then in 2008, we had Hurricane Ike. At our house, we were only without electricity for 4 days and during those 4 days, I really didn't have the leisure to sew. But I swore that I would get a non-electric machine so that I could sew through the next (and we will have another) hurricane. So in spring of 2009, I got my Singer 99K hand-crank. She was made in Scotland in 1901 (I think) and is such a beautiful machine. You don't want to do complicated sewing with her as you are guiding your fabric with one hand while the other powers the machine! I have a simple zigzag top nearly completed with her help.

singer 99k

end plate

And now the newest member of my sewing machine fleet: my Singer 66 Lotus! Oh my goodness, what a BEAUTY! She is another hand-crank. Born in 1918, I'm not sure where (I just brought her home this evening--I need to do more research). What happened to the aesthetic that produced such lovely tools?!? Even as late as the 1960s, sewing machines would have some sort of pretty, scrolling decals. But early machines had beautiful, painted floral motifs, sometimes even inlaid shell! I guess now you can get 'clings' to 'pimp' your machine, but somehow it just isn't the same. Anyway, I think this machine is just jaw-droppingly gorgeous! I may not do much sewing with her, but so what! As I said before, she is BEAUTIFUL!!!

lotus 1

lotus 2

Monday, March 28, 2011

The ADD quilter

It has occurred to me that I have yet to complete a single project this year. It is now March!!!
Now each month I have a row or a round to complete for HMQG--not a big deal; I usually finish those in no more than a day. We also now have the Kate Spain Central Park charm challenge. And believe or not, that is done all but the binding! (p.s. I LOVE what I made!) I also just learned that expecting neighbors had their son 6 weeks prematurely (I think his prognosis is good) so a baby quilt has sneaked its way onto my program. Fortunately, I have on hand an unfinished top perfect for a baby boy--just needs to be quilted.

But then I have my lengthening list of projects:
1. the blue bonnet and plaids New Wave: top is complete, needs to be sandwiched and quilted
2. 2 inch strip hexagons remain nothing more than a stack of twirly hexagon halves
3. circle skirt quilt top is assembled, awaits experimentation with eighth inch ribbons
4. I am 3 purple wonky stars shy of a constellation
5. the black and bright flying geese is perhaps 3/4 done--it was just a stack of parts this time last week
6. the floating Japanese indigo stars is under way--I don't know how far along it is because I don't know how big it will be
7. the postage quilt is half pieced, the rest is 3/4 cut out
8. I had to jump in on Lily's Quilts QAL; I have had some vintage fabrics I thought the Dresden plates would be perfect for, so...
9. there is the quilt I have been hand quilting at HMQG meetings for a year now--still not finished, but getting close!
10. two other smallish quilts that need to be quilted: one nearly done (machine quilted), one hardly begun (not sure whether to hand or machine quilt it)

Geesh! When I lay them all out like that, I am a little embarrassed.

charm challenge

2 deep

floating stars

dresden QAL

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Friday Funday

It is fun, but it can be dangerous, when two quilting friends go fabric shopping. Yesterday, Bry and I hit a couple of the shops participating in the Houston Shop Hop. Here are examples of some of our conversations:

B1*: "This looks like you."
B2*: "Oh, I didn't see that. I love it!"

B1: "Won't this go with your (fill the blank) project?"
B2: "Yea, I think you're right."

B1: "I don't need this. I think I'll put it back."
B2: "Get it. It is so pretty. You'll find a use for it."

B1: "Boy, I did some damage today."
B2: "Yea, me too."

more dots


grunge & stripes

* We are interchangeable in these examples.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Who, moi?

It always annoys me when I see a beautiful quilt hanging at a quilt show and all the artist has to say about it is how many hours it took to make it and how many spools of thread went into it. I'm sorry, but if you are counting how much time and materials went into your work of art, then you aren't having fun!
I get lost when I am at my sewing machine, surprised that so much time has passed.

another one bites the dust

And yet, and yet...I am always pleased when I empty one of these guys. 1200 yards of thread! I bet you could go from here to the moon--well, maybe from here to Galveston, ok, from here to the grocery store. Still, it is an accomplishment of sorts.

Does that make me a hypocrite? Why yes, yes it does.

Black & white and pastel all over

Yesterday, I indulged my inner tantrum-throwing child and let myself cut out some new projects.

b & w

Both of them were inspired by rows from our HMGQ robins. The top bits with the white and Japanese indigo were inspired by Liz's rows. I didn't get 'the big picture' when I first saw her row. But I get it now--and I want one of my own! The bottom, un-assembled bits were inspired by what I added to Sean's rows: flying geese done in brights with black. (I'll be setting mine together differently than I did his.) Both were VERY fun to work on; both were very simple; and both make big statements in their simplicity.
I am excited about both!

But before I allowed myself to start cutting and sewing those, I had to first work on the latest HMGQ project: the Kate Spain Central Park charm pack challenge. I started--and finished--my little top (a charm pack and ONLY a half yard of extra fabric doesn't take long to use up). But no peaking yet! I'll show you what I have left over. Looks like enough to do some sort of plate or fan....hmmm...maybe on the back, maybe around the border....hmmm.

left overs 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Day of Spring

Happy first day of Spring!

first day of spring

It is already starting to feel like summer down here on the Gulf coast. The azaleas are just ready to bust out; many of our trees are already fully green; it is time to head to the plant store to replace our shade garden that was killed by the freeze this winter. We are in that "tweener" weather when it is not quite hot enough for the AC. Outside it is pretty pleasant, but my little quilting aerie gets kind of hot--that pretty leaded-glass window doesn't open, the heat in the house rises up and the the sun beating on the roof and my south-facing window all make it pretty warm in there. In spite of that and with several fans running, I spent quite a few hours in there today.

I'll give a full report of what I did later. I just wanted to say hello and send my greetings!

Friday, March 18, 2011


In the midst of my trip to visit my Mom, I realized that after my return home, I would have less than one week to complete the round robin I got at last month's HMQG meeting.
I had finally gotten Fi's round to work on. I had been eager to work on hers since I first saw it. Her bright colors were going to be fun to work with. At a show-and-tell, Fi shared with us a vintage quilt that her great grandmother had made from Hawaiian prints. (See the quilt here.) So from the beginning, I had planned to use tropical prints. The day after I got it, I pulled fabric and began cutting blocks and even assembled a few...but then it stopped.
Now had I chosen simple squares or triangles, there would have been no problem. But I was making small quarter circles. And the thing about round robins versus row robins, if you get the round after several people have worked on it, they start getting really BIG.
But the quarter circles actually go pretty fast, the slowest thing is pinning the curved seams before sewing. I got maybe a fourth of what I needed put together yesterday. And today, in a marathon of sewing, I got it all finished! Yay me!

fi's round

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I'm back.

Well, the storm that was work and the marathon that was life have both slowed a bit and are letting me catch my breath.

(Here's a photo of me with my Mom I took while I was visiting her.)

 me & mom

My projects are all where I last left them--the postage stamp is half done, the purple wonky stars are nearly all made but not assembled, the circle skirt circle quilt top is assembled but I haven't had time to try out stitching down the narrow satin ribbons. At the top of my to-do list is the round robin I got last month, but have only just begun. If I work hard tomorrow (luckily, I'm not working) I may be able to get it done. (The next meeting is Saturday! :-o)

But I really want to start something new! What is that about?!?
There are two ideas I've gotten from the HMQG robins that I want to make; there is the dark Kona roll-up that goes beautifully with an Alexander Henry print that is more than 20 years old; there is the box I recently found full of strips and scraps left over from old projects that I would like to 'bust'; etc; etc; etc.

I hope everyone had a fun and safe St. Patrick's Day!


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Wither inspiration?

From where might my next quilt come? Not that I need to add to my Play Load, but I always keep my eyes open for new ideas.

There is the wall at a public restroom,

bathroom wall

a garage door,

a silver and brown tree trunk,

pine bark

the fence around a playground,


leaded windows in a church,

church window

or irrigated fields in West Texas.

irrigated fields

Then I heard a mockingbird singing his spring song--how might that be interpreted in fabric!?!

Friday, March 04, 2011

I LOVE this quilt!

Ombre fabrics--fabrics that change color or pattern from selvedge to selvedge--have been around for a long time and I have always steered clear of them because I didn't know how to use them.
Well, friends THIS is how you use them!

Circle Quilt 2009

This quilt, called simply Circle Quilt by MariQuilts, almost seems to breathe because of the masterful use of the ombre-d fabrics. The multi-colored stripe serves as a springboard for the colors brought in and they are pretty much all represented! Light and dark, warm and cool--the balance is perfect. And the black and white counter-stripe adds a counter-point to all the color.
This is a classic example of simple patchwork letting the fabric do the work. What could be simpler than large blocks of framed, bisected circles? But I am never bored looking at this quilt. It almost seems to radiate. And to further the feeling of radiation, the quilting outside the circles is done with variegated thread in a sun's rays pattern. Within the circles spirals are quilted and in the framing bands is a loopy, brick-like pattern.
The maker shows the quilt hanging above a grandchild's crib. The lucky baby would not even need to covered by this quilt to be warmed from it!

This quilt challenges me to break out those ombre fabrics. Large, simple shapes will put the fabric to its best use. And stripes, stripes, stripes.

Please find this quilt in my flickr gallery I LOVE these quilts!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

I've been Leibstered!

I am pleased and proud to announce that Marianne at The Quilting Edge has passed the Leibster Award to me!!!

liebster award

I had admired her work on flickr for a while before I started following her blog. I am in awe of her quilts and was so flattered when she started offering supportive comments for some of mine. So it is especially meaningful for me to be awarded by her.

Like being crowned Miss America--well, almost like--the Leibster Award comes with certain obligations.
The award-ee must post who nominated her/him and a link to their blog. The award-ee must 'pay it forward' by awarding 3-5 other blogs--blogs with less than 300 followers--with the Leibster and putting links to those blogs in the post. And inform those bloggers with a link back to your blog.

Now, in my roll as Award-er, here are my choices:

Noga at nogaquilts.blogspot. She is a brand new blogger--3 posts so far! While there isn't much there yet, I enjoyed what I read--following her creative process and the 'nuts and bolts' of implementing her idea. I look forward to more from her.

Diana at sticksandbubbles.blogspot. This young Romanian mother is just the cutest thing! She makes charming quilts and other crafty stuff and in addition to following her through her creative process is the hurdle of getting the materials she wants and needs through Customs!

Dan at piece and press. This is another blog that takes the reader along for the whole process--from sketch, through ripping out things that don't work, to completed quilt. The quilts have vision and the blogging style is warm and comfortable.

I would like to give an Honorable Mention to two quilters who don't blog but whose work leaves me weak in the knees. I eagerly watch for new flickr uploads from them.

Helen at helen richards quilts.
Binita at silaibunai.

The quilts of both of these quilters leave me stunned and amazed. Everyone should know about them!

I constantly marvel at the community of quilters and other creative people that the internet brings together. The six bloggers/quilters I've mentioned here are from around the world! I wish they lived next door, but with the internet, the kind of do!