Monday, July 27, 2009

QuiltNebraska 2009

Janet, Shirley, Lynn, Fay

QuiltNebraska, the Nebraska State Quilt Guild convention, was fun again this year. Here are the 4 of us that have roomed together for many, many years at convention. We don't live close to each other so enjoy catching up when we are together.

I had a class on Brazilian Embroidery in an all day class on Friday. I didn't really know what it was or how it differed from regular embroidery before I walked into the class. It is done with Rayon threads of various weights and the flowers are really 3-D and stand away from the background fabric. One example of a 3-D flower is the pansy that looks like it has been crocheted and stitched onto the background fabric but it is all constructed from embroidery stitches as you work on the fabric. It didn't look like we got much done by the end of the day but the instructor, Christine Hause, from Denver, had us work on a practice cloth to learn the stitches. This was great for me as I don't really do embroidery so needed a good instructor. She could tell right away if I was doing something wrong and demonstrated all the stitches until we got it - good teacher!

Christine Hause

Brazilian Embroidery Kit that all purchased as part of class.

The entertainment on Friday was a couple from Canada that sing, mostly folk type songs she had written and all the songs were about quilts and quilt makers. Cathy Miller and her husband John Bunge are from Canada and have entertained at lots of quilt events and were very fun to listen to. You can listen to the clips of some of the songs from ne of her CDs on this web page.

Cathy Miller and John Bunge

Cathy Miller

The second all day class I took this weekend was on Saturday. It was a needle turn applique class taught my Suzanne Marshall of Missouri. She also was an excellent teacher and I learned a few things I didn't know and really like her method of marking the background called "Take Away Applique". You only have to trace the design once and use that drawing after it is cut out as your pattern.

Her quilts are beautiful, each more special than the last and she has won numerous awards on her quilts. I got a chance to visit with her more as she sat at our table for dinner on Saturday night. She was really fun and had some great stories to share.

Suzanne Marshall showing some of her quilts.

Suzanne demonstrating the steps she takes to do her exquisite applique.

Saturday night we had a presentation by Jodie Davis, the host of the internet quilt program "Quilters News Network." She was going to show one of the new shows they had put together but the sound wouldn't work so she kind of narrated it. It turned out kind of a dud - she did talk about the show quite a bit so it was more like a big advertisement for us to subscribe to her show.

Jodie Davis

The live quilt auction went well with a total over $10,000 collected on Saturday night. The silent auction the day before netted around $2000 and sale of old books brought in another $300. The president presented a $150,000 check to the director of the International Quilt Study Center to satisfy the pledge the Nebraska State Quilt Guild made 4 or 5 years ago. My quilt brought $150 and I even know the quilter that purchased it so know it will be taken care of.

I was so tired when I got home yesterday afternoon I couldn't wait to get to bed last night. I knew I was tired as I slept about 2 hours later than I usually do. Am embarrassed to tell you how late I slept so will just let you imagine a time!

Better get to bed now as I want to drive out to see my mother tomorrow - a 2 1/2 hr. drive. It is her 88th birthday and I am going to take her out for lunch. My brother and his family will come in too. I called him today and he ordered a Dairy Queen ice cream cake we will pick up to take back to her apt. after lunch. YUMMMMMY!

Happy Quilting,

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bamboo Batting

I have had this roll of Bamboo Batting by Fairfield for sometime but had not used it until now. I love it! It is so soft and machine quilts great too.

I did find some shrinkage after I washed the Linus quilt I used it in but in this project it didn't matter. If you didn't want the shrinkage I would preshrink the batting according to the manufactures instructions. Something I found interesting was that they don't recommend putting the batting in the washer to pre-shrink it but have you soak it in a laundry basket in the bathtub, press as much water you can out of it and then lay it outside to dry. May take a piece I have left and try washing it this way but want to put it in the dryer to see how that turns out.

The quilt I used it in is very soft as well so will be buying more of this batting. Mine was purchased at Hobby Lobby and a friend bought hers at Hancock Fabrics (Not the one from Paducah). Hobby Lobby usually has a coupon you can print off for 40% off anything not on sale so you can get a pretty good deal on the batting that way.

Today is my 38th wedding anniversary and yes I am not with my husband today to celebrate. He is always so busy on the farm with irrigating the crops we never have a chance to do anything special on our anniversary. I go to QuiltNebraska the Nebraska State Quilt Guild convention every year and sometimes it falls on our anniversary. I have a very understanding husband, he says go and have a good time!

Pasting this after I am gone to quilt convention - I am sure I am having a wonderful time!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Widening or Lengthening Backing Fabric to Fit Quilt

One of the things that I forgot to tell you in the last blog entry is why I sew the strips in the backing on an angle to lengthen or widen the fabric to fit the quilt. There are two reasons I do it this way instead of perfectly straight across or vertically.

The first reason is because if you do it my way you don't have to be so careful when layering the quilt to get it straight on the backing. With my method you can be off a little and it will never be seen but with adding a strip parallel to the sides you need to be much more exact and keep that strip you added very straight and parallel to the top and sides as you layer the quilt.

The second reason is that it takes less fabric to add more width to the backing. Yes - I said exactly what I meant. I will show you an example using orange copy paper. This first photo is of the copy paper before I cut it. (Pretend it is a piece of fabric you want to use for a quilt but it is too narrow to fit the quilt.
First you make a diagonal cut lengthwise across the fabric (orange paper). The cut can be at any angle but make sure each end of the cut lands somewhere on the top and bottom of the fabric like the cut on the paper below.
The next photo shows a ruler laid on the space (pretend I stitched a strip of fabric in this cut area.) It measures 1 1/2"
Now comes the interesting part, remember I said it took less fabric to widen the backing if you put it on an angle? Well look at the next photo with the ruler laid on the area that would have the strip stitched in. It measures 1/8" less than the first measurement. This isn't much but remember this is a small piece of paper and not a large piece of backing for a quilt. Think in terms of a backing to make a large quilt and a larger strip could be stitched in and it would be a bigger difference in measurement.
Another thing to note is the longer the cut (stretching it out and starting closer to the corners farther apart) the larger the difference in the two measurements will be and the more width you will get out of your strips. Look at the two photos below for this example. How you might interpret this into a real quilt is if you need a bigger amount to make the backing wide enough you might want to make your cut longer and cut almost corner to corner. I would caution you with this though, try not to make your cut the same difference from each of the corners and you won't have to be so particular on how you layer your quilt. (My examples are a little too even for my tastes.)
Notice the ruler above measures 1 1/2" and the one below is 1 1/4" so it is a greater width gained by making the cut at a bigger angle. Does that make sense?
The above examples are how to make the backing wider and the one photo below is how to make it longer to fit the quilt. You just cut from the right to the left sides. The same thing applies as to the longer the cut, the more you will gain in width from your strips.
I hope this explains some of what I did on the Linus Quilt backing. I cut both ways on that backing. First I inserted the blue strip. I cut some of the length I added off so that is why it isn't placed exactly on the left side or right side. After stitching that strip in I re-cut it the other direction and added the white colored strip. Makes an interesting back and made my red fabric big enough for the backing of this quilt.

As you can tell I didn't have enough of any of the light fabrics so they are pieced and I had to piece the length of blue too to make it long enough to fit in my cut. If anyone asks about this interesting back I will just tell them it is a design element not that it was necessary to make it big enough. I like to use a contrasting fabric from the main backing fabric to make it look like I intended to do it that way. You could use backing fabric to insert but the contrasting fabric is more interesting I think.

Any of you math whizzes out there probably already know this and I am sure there is some geometry theorem that explains all of this but it has been too many years since I studied geometry. It works for me and that is what is important!

Have most of my stuff ready for convention now - can't wait until Thursday.

Linus Quilt

I spent the entire day yesterday working on this donation quilt for the Linus Project. As I said in my last post, the challenge project this year for our annual QuiltNebraska convention is to make a quilt for the Linus Project.

Of course I wait until the last minute to get started but piecing and quilting this quilt went pretty quickly. I decided to use what I had on hand and thought I would use up a lot of my bright fabrics. It really doesn't look like I used any at all when I put that box away this morning. Think the fabric must have reproduced at night when I wasn't looking.

Back to the quilt...I did a simple quilting design of loops, with a daisy like flower or butterfly every once in a while. Was just quilting along until after I filled my bobbin for the second time, OH NO, I was going to run out of thread before I finished. Like a dummy I used the same thread on top and bottom and the spool didn't have enough for both sides, although the spool had a lot on it.

What to do, what to do, as I didn't have anymore of this variegated thread?

Well, I got this brilliant idea after looking at the back of my quilt. Notice it is pieced too. Well it isn't pieced just to make a design statement but it is pieced because I didn't have enough fabric. Did you know if you split a piece of fabric on an angle and insert a strip you can make a piece of fabric bigger for backing? If you split it one way it will make it longer and if you split it the other it will make it wider. Try it with a piece of paper and check it out.

This red fabric was not long enough nor wide enough so I split it both ways. Kind of has a modern funky feel doesn't it?

Well back to the quilting....I decided to stop quilting with the variegated thread in the bobbin at the blue stripe then changed to red bobbin thread. I thought that would give me enough thread to finish the quilt and not look so much like I ran out of bobbin thread but that I did it on purpose.

I was wrong about having enough thread! I had one corner triangle left, about 12" on each side, when I ran out of top thread. Looked through my thread stash and found a variegated one with red, blue, white and pink so finished using that. It didn't have the yellow or green in it but I can hardly tell and I know where it is so don't think anyone else will even see the difference.

If I wouldn't have waited until the last minute to make this quilt I could have gotten backing wide enough and more quilting thread. But, and this is a big but, it wouldn't have forced me to be creative. I live about an hour from the nearest quilt shop so usually use what I already have on hand as I hate to wait until the next time I go shopping to finish a project.

The quilt is all washed and dried and ready to go so now I need to get my supplies ready for the classes I am going to take.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fair News

We made it to the fair and had a wonderful time watching our 9 yr. old granddaughter S. show her rabbit. She was a little, maybe more than a little nervous for the showmanship class though. I would have been nervous too.

For showmanship they have to give a little demo-speech about their rabbit in front of the judge and all the crowd watching the event. She did very well and spoke right up, wearing the microphone didn't seem to bother her either. She got a blue ribbon in that class, a blue ribbon on the rabbit (Fuzzy) as well as a blue ribbon on her pillow that she made. The wildlife project she entered got a purple ribbon gets to go to the State Fair and boy was she excited about that.

She had taken plaster and made molds of wild animal foot prints that she could find, had to make a reverse mold then mount them on a board with photos and a description of where she found the print, etc. She worked very hard on it and it did turn out nice. She had prints of a prong horned antelope, raccoon, wild turkey, duck and bobcat. They had a pretty wet spring and summer so tracks were not so hard to find.

Don't you love the girls hair in the photo below? Their other grandmother fixed it for them that morning. S. wanted her hair out of her eyes when she showed and the braided look really was cute on her. Here she is sitting with her sister D. watching some of the other kids show their rabbits. D. is planning on showing next year and S. said she was going to work on her rabbit speech more next year as she really wanted that trophy they gave to the top Jr. showmanship winner.

Have not touched the quilt today so need to at least get it layered and ready to quilt. Am thinking of using some of the quilt spray glue. That might make it get done faster. I do like to baste my quilts with thread but don't have the time for that on this one.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Question on Pattern

A question was asked about the pattern for this Linus Project Quilt - where I got the pattern to be precise. I was browsing through the fabric manufactures free patterns and ran across this pattern called "Savanah Streets" by Toby Lischko for Hoffman Fabrics . I liked the way it looked but didn't want to do all the extra cutting and piecing required to do it. If you look at the pattern it has small light strips surrounding each dark piece that when joined give the look of a wider light strip - kind of like doing one round of strips on a log cabin block.

I opened up my EQ6 and drew my own pattern using the look I saw on the Hoffman pattern but made it much more simple. I decided how big I wanted the finished quilt and worked backwards to draw the design. Since I own a ruler that is 6 1/2" that is the size I made the squares and the width I made the alternate strips. (After stitching they became 6".)

I varied the light fabrics in between the 2" x 6" bricks and the 6" x 6" blocks. Since it seems like I buy mostly fat quarters I didn't have any light fabrics with enough length to do the vertical sashing. I pieced different lengths of the light fabrics together to make them long enough and then cut them to fit my pieced block strips.

The pattern I guess is half inspired half my own but as simple as it is, I am sure there are lots of others out there just like it. That is the beauty of quilting - not much is truly unique in traditional looking quilts.

If you have never looked at the fabric manufacturer's web pages you are missing a wealth of free quilt patterns and other information. A lot of them are not too difficult and most have pretty good directions too. Check out the web pages of any of the notions, sewing machines, etc. for other free tips, directions and patterns.


Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, I Sew and Sew and Sew

Is there nothing more exciting than a pile of cut fabrics waiting to be sewn? After my grandsons left yesterday morning I pulled my box of bright fabrics out and started cutting. Found some white background prints with white colors to use in the quilt along with the brights.

I wanted to make a quilt for the Project Linus that the Nebraska State Quilt Guild is collecting quilts for at QuiltNebraska, our annual convention this year (By the way it is next week so had to get hopping in order for me to get it finished in time.)

I chose to make a simple strippy type quilt with 6" squares in rows alternating with 2" strips. The cutting was easy as I just cut around my 6 1/2" square ruler and away I went. The cutting went quickly so I could get to sewing by mid-afternoon. Had it all put together by the time I went to bed last night so now I need to get it layered and quilted.

I also need to take time to figure out what I need to collect for the classes I am going to take this year. Friday I have "Brazilian Embroidery: Quilt On Point" by Christine Hause. I won't have to collect much for this class as she has it kitted up - love to have a kitted class then I have all the right stuff needed for the class.

I am also taking an all day class on Saturday too. It is "Wacky Bird" by Suzanne Marshall. Can collect the fabrics and notions needed for this one from my stash but will have to leave time for that at the beginning of the week.

The celebrity auction catalog is posted to the Nebraska State Quilt web page here. My quilt is on page 10, Item 36. That auction will be held on Saturday night and will let you know how it went when I return.

Better get off the computer and get my shower as we are making a trip to watch our granddaughter show her 4-H rabbit at her county fair today. She is so excited. She called a couple of days ago to tell us her wildlife project gets to go to the State Fair. For a first time 4-Her that is pretty nice.

Happy, Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Long Day of Play

Three year old M and his 6 yr. old brother C are visiting us for 4 days this week. So far we have attended the county fair, helped Papa John irrigate and run in the lawn sprinklers today. The photo below is of M after he fell in the mud. He really got it plastered in his hair. I guess he didn't mind too much because they both had fun playing in the sprinklers next. M managed to get the chunks of mud all washed out by the time they were done so there wasn't so much for me to clean out at bath time.
Now they are enjoying watching a movie - The Apple Dumpling Gang. This grandma hopes it calms them down so bedtime will go smoothly.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wishing, Hoping and Dreaming of Sewing.....

No sewing for me for such a long time and it may be a while yet before my time is my own. My time has been spent going to reunions, keeping up with the yard work, having company, company and more company. We have attended birthday parties for the granddaughters, kept them for a week and now this week I am keeping my grandsons.

One of the things that fascinated the little girls (ages nearly 8 and 9) were the tree frogs that have decided to come live on and around our house. Up until a few years ago we never saw such frogs anywhere around here. Last year I think we saw only 3 or 4 but this year their must have been a population explosion!

Here is a photo I took of one sitting on the brick of our house. To give you an idea of how big they are the light gray is the mortar between the bricks that is about 1/2" wide. This frog is kind of striped but we have seen green ones and tan ones and some that have been really light. We believe they can change color somewhat as we know one that looked tan/brown was green later when we were looking at it.

This one is sitting on the top of the porch light and is rather green in appearance. We counted up to 18 on one side of the house at a time about a month ago. There don't seem to be quite so many right now though.
The photo above shows 4 of them sitting on the downspout as it angles towards the house . Most of the time we only see them in the evening or at night. During the daytime they just disappear. We looked and looked for them and couldn't figure out where they went but one night just as it was getting dark I looked at the very top of the brick where the sofit joins it on the underside of the roof overhang and there I saw a whole row of the tiny frogs peeking out. There is just a small crack of space between the two and they must just back in. We have also found them squeezed between the downspout and the wall of the house and behind my welcome sign I have hung beside the back door.

They are really cute, fascinating and fun to watch. Most evenings there are one or two on any window where the room lights are on. The lights attract the bugs so it is a good place for the little frogs to have lunch.

They move very quickly too. They can run along the bricks or hop sideways and cover a lot of ground fast. You can see from the photos below that one is sitting on the edge of the window (photo taken from outside) and the other photo is of one of the little frogs taken from the inside of my sewing room as it sits on the window waiting for a bug to arrive for dinner.
John and I have been just as fascinated with them as the little kids. Last week as I was heading out of the house about 9 I had just entered our back hall way and one of the little frogs jumped (plopped) on the floor right in front of me. It scared the "pajeebas" out of me! You know "pajeebas" is really not a word but one I made up, but you get the idea.

After I let out a scream I realized what it was and tried to shoo it towards the door. It moved along pretty good until I got close to the door then it jumped on the wall, then the floor, then the hall tree and back and forth. I couldn't get it out as it moved so fast.

After I ran my errand to pick up John from the field and we got home the little frog was sitting right in front of the storm door waiting to get out. So glad as I wasn't sure how I was going to get it out of the house.

Happy Summertime,

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Flags and Fireworks

I want to wish Americans a Happy 4th of July where ever they are. We will be attending a picnic at relatives this evening then watching the fireworks that the town puts on. Will be enjoyable I am sure.

I made the quilt in the photo above in 1993 and I named it Flags and Fireworks. It is a small wall hanging, approximately 20" square. It was machine pieced using templates those many years ago and it is hand quilted.

The idea for the quilt came from this book - Quilts Galore by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes called "Triple Star / Sawtooth Star."

They used 12" blocks for the triple star and 6" blocks for the sawtooth star but I drafted the blocks in my Electric Quilt program to be 8" and 4". The setting is similar but different too. I liked the idea of the zig zag on the border so added one to mine too. I used fabric with small flags on it and fussy cut them so the would all be standing upright and centered in the areas where they were pieced.

I do want you to notice that the one small plaid fabric has faded pretty badly. I hung this for years in my house, not in direct light but indirect light but it still faded. The darker paisley fabric in the stars in the corners has faded a little but nothing like the plaid, but the good quality fabric I used in the outside border has not appeared to have faded at all.

Have been thinking of using a pigment marker and touching up the navy in the fabric since there is not a whole lot of it. Has anyone done that and how did it work?

I did get my house de-cluttered yesterday and got all the laundry done with the exception of one load of towels that are going now. It is a good feeling to be able to look around and not see a mess everywhere. I do want you to know I didn't work on dusting and vacuuming though, the rest of it took me the entire day. I got distracted a few times with other things too - sure don't want you to think I was that deep in clutter!

I sat down at the sewing machine for about a half an hour yesterday afternoon to do a little buttonhole stitching on my flower basket. Think a load of laundry got finished so that was the end of that for the day but it was a start and it felt good to sew.

Sitting here thinking about our 4th of July celebrations and wondered if any readers of my blog from other countries have country wide celebrations similar to our 4th of July and how you celebrate. Let me know as I am always interested in finding out about about the lifestyles of others who don't live where I do.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sitting Listening to the Quiet!

I met our daughter today in Grand Island and the granddaughters left for home with their mother after spending a week with us. We had a wonderful time and kept busy, which with a 9 yr. old and almost 8 yr. old it is just normal for them. While here we sewed, swam, bicycled, played with the farm cats, played in the tree house,watched Anne of Green Gables and the Sound of Music on Videos, put 2 jigsaw puzzles together....and on and on. Tonight I am just sitting with my feet up, watching a little TV and there are no little girls talking, giggling, or asking questions. The quiet is wonderful!

While they were here the farmer that owns the property just west of our yard harvested his wheat. The first photo shows the combine as it is coming toward the end of the field near our house. The second one shows the combine from the side as it passed by. The third photo shows the view I had of the whole process from the back porch of the house - get the same view from my sewing room too.

It is always nice to sit in my sewing room watching the crops grow and mature as the summer progresses. The problem with the wheat field being so close to the house is that the insects, mainly grasshoppers, moved from the wheat to my yard and garden once the wheat started ripening as they prefer green plants over dry ripe wheat. There were/are thousands and thousands of them in the small trees, lawn and garden. I did get some of them sprayed this week but need to do more or I will not have anything left to harvest by the end of the week. They are voracious eaters!

Tomorrow I plan to get the house back in shape and catch up on laundry. I want to get a chance to sew so hope I can fit that in as well.



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