Friday, December 16, 2011

Disappearing nine patch is done!

Finally, done!  I had a lot of fun quilting this one!  The colored blocks are quilted with black Isacord thread, in a raggedy fern design!  I am liking that design, and I think it may become my "signature" quilting stitch!
Here's a closeup of the stitching after I have washed and dried it!  I love that "crinkled" look you get when you wash a quilt!  It certainly gives you a softer hand to the quilt.  I used a black batting for the first time, but can't say I was too happy with it.  It seemed stiff.  I am sure it is from the dye process.  I ended up machine stitching the binding down, using a serpentine stitch.  The binding is black, and I used black thread, and it really doesn't show, so I think it was a good choice.  This is going to be given to my nephew for his first apartment, and I hope it will get lots of use!  He is an art student, and I hope that he will appreciate the colours and the stitching!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December embroidery club project

This month's embroidery club project at Threads of Time in Danville was a cover for a neat recipe/photo album.  We got to choose our background fabric, and thread colours.  Our intrepid leader Ila created the pattern for us!
It was super easy to do.  I may get some more of the albums and change up a bit of the design for use as a photo album, rather than recipes.
Here's some more of the quilting on my disappearing nine patch.  I just need to get more of the black fabric for the binding.  I was going to make it scrappy, but it is speaking to me that it wants a black binding.  Gotta listen to the quilt when it talks!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sunflower wallhanging

I decided to work on a pattern that I had purchased at our recent guild quilt show!  I purchased the available embellishing kit that came with it, but after I got it made, I decided I like the look without the extra glitz.  GASP!!
It was fun to chose the yellows and oranges from my stash.  Even the center dotted fabric and the green leaf sashing was in my stash!  I need to look through those drawers more often!

I used Darlene Epps book for some inspiration!  I liked the look of this Madeline design.  Of course, it didn't look like this when I got done with my interpretation!
I used black Bottom Line (60wt Superior Thread) in the bobbin, and King Tut on top for the sashings!  Once I got in a rhythm, it became a lot of fun!
I think you can see the design better on the reverse.  But the busy dotted background really keeps the black stitching from being distracting!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quilting disappearing nine patch

My stack of quilt tops has almost outgrown its shelf space, so I decided I had better get busy quilting some!  For me, the hardest part is figuring out what I want to quilt in all that space!  Do I want to emphasize the quilting itself, or do I want the blocks to take center stage?  I have been struggling to find my quilterly voice.  To develop my own style.  It is not easy, it takes a lot of practice!

Back in May, I blogged about a disappearing nine patch swap that I was participating in through the Land of Lincoln Quilters Assocation (  At a recent retreat/pajama party, I put my swapped blocks together into a top that I am going to keep for myself.  I set my blocks in rows, with black sashing in between!  I liked the look, and immediately knew what I was going to quilt in the black sashing.  However, the block rows took a bit of a think.

At our quilt show, one of the vendors had these great pocket guides packaged together!  As I am always looking for inspiration, I grabbed the package.  But just this past weekend did I break the shrink wrap and take a look!
Oh, my!  What a lot of inspiration!  So worth the money, and more!
So this is the filler that I decided upon for the block rows!  Well, it is the inspiration for the quilting.  I think we all know that just like everybody's handwriting is unique, so is a quilter's meandering!
Not exactly like the picture, but gee golly gosh!  Am I ever having fun playing with this!  Fun now, not at first....I was having some issues with my thread!  First of all, although 60wt Bottom Line works great in my bobbin, it is not so great for a top thread.  Next I tried 50wt Masterpiece.  Shredding!  Then I went to 50wt SoFine.  Still shredding!  I changed needles, cleaned out the bobbin area and added a bit of oil.  I finally went with 40wt Isacord polyester.  Sweet success!
Stayed tuned for the black sashing treatment!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Embroidering aprons

I posted today on Facebook that I was going to WalMart to buy aprons to embroider on.  This brought up a query about embroidering on aprons.  So here's the run down.

I have found that WalMart sells plain, unadorned aprons for <$7.  I have gotten them in red, blue, white, khaki, and black.  Today, I could only find black and one white.  This is after visiting two different Super WalMarts.  Now, isn't that telling about my county.  We actually have 4 Super WalMarts in Champaign County! 

Where this all started is that I had embroidered 2 aprons for our quilt show boutique.  They sold before the show even started.  I had a request to make some more, so I did.  But I had more requests.  Thus the search.
This is what I had embroidered for our quilt show boutique.  I had done one in red and one in khaki.  I did this one in white, one in blue, and 5 more in khaki.  I was left with the white one.  Can't you imagine what this would look like after making spaghetti sauce!
When all I could find was black today, I thought I would try something festive for the upcoming holidays.  I love this little turkey, so I added the Happy Turkey Day!
I am going to do some Christmas aprons next!  I think the black will be a great backdrop for some metallic threads!
My embroidery machine is a Janome 11000SE.  I love it, but sometimes I get a back ache from leaning over to thread and work on my projects.  If it were only sitting higher.....
TaDa!  Hubby and I made a quick trip to Lowe's and found a perfect piece of wood.  The nice people at Lowe's made two cuts, we bought the angle hardware, and with hubby's handy dandy electric drill, we made a simple riser.  Now I don't have to stoop or bend to work on my embroidery!  Brilliant!  Plus, I know get a wee bit more surface area!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

LLQA challenge piece

The Land of Lincoln Quilters' Association (LLQA) has a yearly challenge.  This year's challenge, Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, was in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War.  I have a cousin who studies Mr. Lincoln as an avocation, and that love of the history of that time of American History has rubbed off on several of us cousins.  So for me, this challenge was more than using the challenge fabric in patriotic quilt.  It spoke to me of all that preceded the start of the war, and the aftermath of that war.

My mind immediately went to a log cabin block, and the phrase from one of the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates "A house divided against itself cannot stand."  So I knew I wanted a log cabin block, with blue representing the north, and grey representing the south.  The challenge fabric was the center block, representing the USA.  I wanted to show that those principles, that our founding fathers felt so strongly about that they fought the tyranny of King George, remained firm and solid.  It was appliqued down with gold thread, which represents the test by fire, which determines purity.  The blue logs are stitched down with grey threads, which represents that although on different sides, we are all brothers.  The grey logs are stitched down with red, symbolizing all the blood which was spilled.  It is on a black background to represents the Negro slaves, whose bondage was broken.  The lower right hand corner is raw, oozing cotton wadding, and shreds of cotton fabric, to represent the horrible gash that occured to our country.  The grey logs are laying haphazardly, representing that "States' Rights" is not always in the interest of the whole country.
Other Lincoln quotes "...that all men are created equal" from the Gettysburg Address, near the patch representing Gerrysburg, the only major battle fought in the north.  "With Malice for None" from his second Inaugural Address.  Mr. Lincoln's plan for restoring the nation was that we should welcome back our brothers.  How different would our country have been had he not been assasinated!
The other patches represent some of the major battles of the war.  The edges of the patches were singed, to represent the destruction of so much of the south.  They were free motion appliqued in a raggedy manner in red to represent the bloody conflicts.
My piece did not win a prize.  I was unable to attend the meeting as I was at a nurse practitioner conference in Peoria.  But I did not make it for the prize, but express my feelings of the war.  And isn't that what art is all about?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NQR-non quilting related

I have been one poor blog correspondent, but it doesn't mean, you ain't been on my mind!  Sorry, I always have a song running through my head!

I promise that I will post pictures of our guild's recent quilt show!  I am waiting for our "Best of Show" program at the guild before posting.  All right, I also have been just dog tired, plus I am going to a nursing conference this week, so life has interfered!

For my close (geographically) friends and Facebook friends, you know that hubby and I have been on a weight management program for the past 11 weeks.  My goal is a 50# weight loss, and I am over halfway to goal!  Hubby has lost over 80#!  He still has 100# to go.  Maintenance is always the key, and hopefully by helping hubby with his weight loss after I reach mine, I should have some good maintenance habits in place! 

I recently found a receipe for crockpot Ratatouille, and thought I would share it with you.  This is definitely end of season, as this would be a great way to use up the bounty from your garden, or your local farmer's market!
I started with this basket goodies!  Produce was purchased from our local Meier's.  For you produce experts, yes, that is a butternut squash behind the orange pepper.  It will be used in another recipe!  I started with an eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, sweet peppers, sweet onion, and garlic.  They were all washed, deseeded as needed, then chunked into bite size pieces.  Garlic was sliced thin.  I also added minced fresh basil and oregano.  I layered all this in my oval crockpot, added 1/2 cup of water and fresh ground sea salt and pepper.  Cooked on high for 3-4 hours.  MMM!  The smells coming from the kitchen were so tantalizing!
Voila!  A succulent plate of ratatouille!  That plate is less than 100 calories.  Fat free, and oh so delicious!  This would be a great side dish for a grilled chicken breast, with perhaps a small side of brown rice!  Bon Apetit!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Blue Jacket!

When I went on the road trip to Macomb, IL with my peeps last month, one of my purchases was this jacket pattern.  I had tried on the store sample, and liked the way it looked and felt.  Yesterday I found the beautiful batik behind the pattern at SewSassy in Urbana.  I was with my cousins who agreed that the blue would look great with my white hair.  Today being a drizzly, rainy day, I decided to dust off my tailoring skills and dive in!
Ta da!  The pattern said it would take about 3 hours to complete.  It took me a little longer than that, as I always have interuptions!  But the directions were well written, and there was NO frog sewing!  Woot!  It is very light, but will be great for work when I just feel like I want a little jacket to cover up with.  I like the shorter sleeves, as I wash my hands constantly and I don't like damp cuffs!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Jan Krentz workshop

We have been waiting anxiously for 2 years, and now the time has finally come!  Yes, Jan Krentz has come to our guild!
We shared Jan with the Decatur quilt guild.  After Jan was done teaching in Decatur, two of the Decatur ladies, who also belong to our guild, brought Jan to Champaign in time for supper at Panera's!  And guess who got to sit across from her!  Such a warm, and instantly friendly soul.  Instead of being exhausted from a day of teaching and travel, she was a delightful supper companion!
After a fantastic lecture, she opened up her trunks and let us ooh and aah over her glorious quilts!  We got to feast our eyes on this beauty through the entire evening.  This is the reverse side of "Out of Africa"! 
I love this spiral lone star!  All those glorious colours!
I love the extra little star burst in the corners of this hunter's star!  That is tissue lame making the dark arm!  Love it!
I love the free motion couching of the yarn in this lone star!  Jan gave lots of great design tips to make these stars sing!
I am loving the look of these diamonds!  I now own all of Jan's books.  Now, I just need more time to make some of these wonderful projects!
This one reminded me of Laura Wasilowski and Frieda Anderson!
Monet's Water Lilies!  Yes, I am definitely going to have to make this one!  Jan sells a kit to make the water lilies.  Yes, of course, I brought one home with me!
Friday's class was asymmetrical hunter's star!  Out of Africa was the star, and our inspiration!  Jan is a fantastic teacher.  After teaching us how to make templates, she let us loose to work with our fabrics.  She came around to everybody's workstation several times during the day, sitting down and chatting with the student.  What wonderful attention!
Those that read and FOLLLOWED Jan's preclass instruction sheet brought flannel for design walls.  Although I read that, I failed to act on it.  So I did my designing on the stage floor!  I shall know better next time!
Jan spent time with this student and helped her to get her quilt to this stage!  Isn't it glorious!
Here is our class at the end of the day!  We are all smiling because we are so proud of ourselves of all that we have learned and accomplished!
Jan was impressed with my white hair!  She insisted we had to be photographed in front of the dark quilt (there are some glorious oriental prints in there!)  What a great day!  And what great memories were made!  And a new quilting friend!
Oh, I guess you want to see mine!  I went more traditional with my colors, but still used an asymmetrical setting.  I made my blocks 6", so I will have a nice little wall hanging soon!  The green is a Ricky Tims' hand-dyed, and the yellow/orange star points is a Frieda Anderson hand-dyed!  An All-Star Quilt!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Road Trip!

I belong to a state wide guild, the Land of Lincoln Quilting Association.  Because the state of Illinois is so big, it basically has members in the central Illinois region.  We meet 5 times a year, and rotate sites.  This past weekend Macomb, home of Western Illinois University, was our host site.  This is about 150 miles from where I live, and so 4 of my quilting peeps had ourselves a road trip!  We packed up our overnight gear, piled into my hubby's brand new car (<500 miles on it!) and headed west!

After picking everybody up, we headed west on US 136 (no interstate to Macomb). Our first stop was Havana. It was lunch time, so we stopped at Grandpa's for a bite to eat!

Great little restaurant on the main drag in Havana!  They had a great selection of hand dipped ice creams, including one called Cow Tipping!  Nice menu, with a variety of sandwiches and daily specials!

After lunch we walked the two blocks to our first shop, Ma's got a Notion!  Ma's motto is "We've got your back!"  She has the largest in store stock of wide backs, including batiks and flannels!  She also has a tremendous stock of Civil War fabrics.  I have never seen such a collection of just shirtings!   A must stop for those Civil War quilters!

So what is a girl to do, I had to buy some Civil War fabrics.  I will be in a row swap, and one of the ladies wants Civil War fabrics, specifically brown and blue.  So she pulled some fabrics for us to choose from!  And of course, I had to buy a fat back!  That batik was clearly calling my name!  The two kits are for pillowcases for my godson and his sister.  And the greens are for another group I am in called the Chocolate Chicks!  My theme is mint chocolate chip!

From Havana we went to Avon.  A wee village of around 800 people (animals are not counted in the census), but they do have a great quilt shop, Clothesline Quilts!  They had a great selection of bright prints, books, batiks.  They also had a Gammil long arm machine!  There was a man working on a Halloween quilt, doing free hand spider webs!  Very cool!

Yes, I stimulated the economy of Avon!  I am looking for some bright gold and yellow batiks for a quilt that is still rattling around in my head.  The back fabric was on the sale rack, and has really cool leaves on it!  It needed to find a good home!

Our last shop was in Macomb.  Piece to Peace Quilt shop was a lovely corner store with an equally lovely owner.  Though a small inventory, she had lots of interesting things.  Lots of samples made up that made you want to buy the kits!  Good Marketing!

I am really not a 30s repro gal, but she had a baby quilt made up with 30s, with blue work Sunday School Singers!  It just spoke to me, so I had to buy it!  And she had the jacket made up in a bright blue batik, and it was just my size, so I got to try it on to see if it looked good on me.  You can guess the outcome of that!  And the watch!  The hands are scissor blades, and the band, which "snaps" around your wrist, is a measing tape!  Too cute!

We always have a few vendors at our meetings.  The Macomb and Avon shops were set up there, as well as Quilts'N Etc. from Keokuk, Iowa.  I'm a pushover for fall fabrics.  And the lighted magnified seam ripper looks like it will be great when I have any extended frog sewing!

We got home Saturday evening, tired, but happy from a fun two days!  Ah, this is bliss!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Edyta Sitar

This past weekend our local quilting guild, Illini Country Stitchers, was very proud to host Edyta Sitar for a lecture and trunk show, and two days of workshops!  I have been anxious to meet Edyta ever since her appearance on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.  The experience started on Thursday evening, when Edyta and her hubby Michael ate supper with us at Panera's.  I got to sit next to them and had a lovely conversation with Michael and Edyta.  Michael is a very important part of the team!  I was also privileged to be a quilt holder during the lecture and trunk show!  Her talk "Reasons for Quilting" is a fascinating look at her journey in quilting, and is now available in book form at her website!  I have ordered mine, and Michael told me I will have one of the first copies!  Because I was a holder, I didn't get to take any pictures, but I certainly got an up close and personal look at all her quilts!
As a reward for holding quilts, I received her 2012 calendar!  It will be fun to look at a different quilt each month.  I had her autograph her books for me, also!
Friday's workshop was Dresden Star.  All those points!  How were we going to get them all perfect?  Edyta's technique and excellent teaching helped us all sail through with flying colours! 
She provided each of us with a fabric kit containing enough fabric to make 11 Dresden Star blocks, plus the pattern, plus the template set.  Plus a spool of Aurifil thread!  All for $30! Brilliant!

She did not provide us with the fabric for the center circle.  She did talk to us about using fabrics and colours to pull together scrappy to make it sing!  I had this done by 1, so I was able to go on to starting on the next 10 blocks.  And then, Edyta gave us a bonus!
For us over achievers, she cut and provided fabric for us to put together an 8-point star that lays perfectly flat!  It's all in the ironing, to get those seams to cooperate!  I goofed mine up, despite her excellent instruction.  But Edyta took it and made it perfect in no time!

She saw where I had strayed, and showed me how to correct it!  An absolute "AHA" moment!  Her explanation of handling those pesky y-seams will allow me to approach them in the future without fear!

Day two we worked on "Clematis".  Again, she provided all the fabric, including back and batting, pattern, and fusible to make this lovely table runner!  She talked about fusibles, the differences between the three that she uses (Heat n Bond lite, Steam a Seam 2, WonderUnder).  She also told us that we should ignore the manufacturers' instructions.  She recommends only a second or two with the iron.  And it worked!
At the end of the day we all posed with our projects!  Everyone got their project fused and layered.  This is raw edge applique, so the quilting will hold the fused pieces down.  Some got started on that.  I being the over achiever that I am, got all my quilting done!  Now to trim and bind!  And also to add some beading to the centers of the flowers!
Edyta is a warm, enthusiastic teacher.  Her love of quilting is contagious, and hope you all get a chance to take a class with her!