Sunday, June 30, 2013

Modern Mystery Quilt and good news!

Last fall, the  American Quilter's Society in their weekly OnPoint emagazine had a weekly Modern Mystery Quilt designed by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr.  I have always wanted to try my hand in the modern quilt movement (which I really think of as more of a minimalist look) so I downloaded the pattern dutifully every week. I did not start cutting and sewing until after I had all 6 weeks in hand.  Yeah, it is kinda like reading the last page of a novel to see how it ends before you start the book (I don't do that!).  But I will say that I had decided from the get go that I wanted to use a light grey as my background or field fabric (as they say in the modern movement) and I wanted to use soft blues and greens, something that looks like sea glass (or what this prairie girl thinks sea glass should look like!)
I had a lot of fun playing with the colors in this quilt!  I also amassed a large number of aquas! Having recently taken a class with Susan Cleveland and learned her Piping Hot
Curves technique, I decided to add red piping to my circles to make them pop!  I think of the circles as portholes!

My first thought was to use the open areas to do some intricate quilting.  But the quilt was telling me it wanted something different.  As you can see, I decided to do a sun-type pattern in the circles, with small circles in the central axis.  The rest of the quilt was quilted with long meandering sinewy lines to give the impression of rain trickling down a window!
On to the good news!  I entered two quilt in the Midwest Heritage Quilt Show at the Vermilion County Museum.  This is a judged show that runs the month of July at the museum in Danville, IL.  My miniature "Pieced Baskets" won a first place ribbon!  This quilt was started in a class that I took with Sally Collins. 
Sedona Joy, which was a 2012 Block of the Month through The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, won a second place ribbon! The original quilt was designed by Sarah Vedeler.  After month 6, I started changing up her design.  I had some issues with the set in seams, which then translated into trouble with getting it to lay flat for the quilting.  I am eager to see the judge's comments!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

More Hexie Tips

I had a question from my Top Ten Hexie Tips that I would like to address today, and also some other tips that I failed to post!
The question was about the cross stich in the corner.  As you can see in the picture, it is a simple cross stitch.  It doesn't have to be pretty, because it will be taken out.  The purpose is to secure that corner until it can be sewn down!

My next tip is about using pins to secure the paper to your fabric.  I find that if I use small, applique pins where the seams are supposed to be, it helps keep it securely in place until I get it basted.
This is where I keep my hexie supplies.  I got the cabinet from a girlfriend's garage sale!  What? Doesn't everyone have a sombrero in their sunroom?
The top swings up to give me a place to store threads, needles, and other sewing notions.  In the drawers I keep my paper templates, books, and patterns.
Dang! Sorry the picture is sidewises!  These are the acrylic templates that you use to easily put your registration marks on your paper templates.
Of course, you can reuse the paper templates, so I had to find a way of organizing them so I could easily find them again.  I came up with placing the paper templates with its corresponding acrylic template in individual ziplock bags (the ones that the paper templates come in from Paper Pieces are perfect for this)!  If I were truly anal, I would make a label to put on the bag. 
Basting hexies makes a lot of little scraps.  I made this little thread catcher to hold the fabric scraps and thread scraps.  I don't throw the fabric scaps away.  I save them and put them into dog beds that our guild makes for our local humane society.
So I have piqued your interest in hexies? Mickey Depre would love to have you join her Craftsy class!  She has shared this link,, to get 33% off!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Giving credit where credit is due

It dawned on me that I failed to give credit yesterday to the hexies that were pictured in my top ten tips.
This is a block of the month through Quilting on the Square!  The quilt is called Moxie Girl, and is designed by Mickey Depre and Mary Pfeiler!

Mea culpa!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Top Ten Tips for Hexies, or, Lessons learned from being a "Stunt" Quilter!

As you recall from my last blog, I have been a "ghost" or "stunt" quilter for Mickey Depre.  So you can imagine that I have learned a few tricks about working with hexies along the way!  This post does not contain many pictures, but I do have a few tips!

1. A Steady Betty  is a great tool to use when you are working with lots of pieces on your lap.

It holds your pieces and keeps them from sliding.  Acts as a mini design wall.  And it gives you a place to park your pins and needles!

2. When you are basting your hexies, use up your cheap thread.  You know the was the bargain "3 spools for a buck" at the big box store.  The stuff you bought when you first started quilting.  When you are basting, you are just gonna remove those stitches any way, so why waste your good, quality thread.  A good contrast to your fabric is great, to make it easier to find those basting stitching when it is time to remove them.

3.  When basting pieced hexies, you will have seams in corners, and along edges, that you want to make sure remain in their places.  I like to do a cross stitch in those corners, and through those seam junctions to make sure they behave.  This is important if you want your final product to have seams that line up

4. And speaking of removing stitches (see #2), a good sharp seam ripper is always a good thing.  They can get dull, just like any other instrument.  Replace them when they start to give you fits.  My personal favorite is the Alex Anderson 4 in 1 tool.  It has a great seam ripper, along with a stilletto, a wooden press, and a point turner.

5.  Speaking of stillettos (great segues, eh!), I use that stilletto when I am removing the paper after I have removed the basting stitches.  I find that it gets into the corners without disturbing the seam.

6. Before you remove the papers from the edge hexies, you will want to prep those edges that have not been joined to a partner.  A light starch or Mary Ellen's Best Press will keep those edges crisp.  Rather than spray, I like to pour some into a little bowl and "paint" it on those edges with a small flat paint brush.  I then press till dry.  It gives a nice crisp edge that holds until you can applique or do your finishing.

7. When sewing your hexies together, Mickey has recommended 100# silk thread.  The other day I grabbed my travel box to piece some hexies, and failed to put my silk thread in.  I did have some  Aurifil 50wt Mako cotton with me.  In my opinion, it worked just as well as the finer silk, and was much easier to work with.

8. Replace your hand needles.  Hopefully, we all know to replace our sewing machine needles after 8 hours of use.  Our hand needles can become dull also.  I am so guilty of using the same needle for YEARS.  But a fresh, sharp needle just makes stitching much easier.  I don't have a personal favorite, although I do like the longer needles, as it is easier for me to grasp.

9. A needle threader is a true Godsend!  I have two that I like.  Clover's Desk Needle Threader and Bohin Desktop Needle threader.  They both work well.

10. Finally, I just learned this trick from another blog.  Instead of using a whip stitch to sew your hexies together, try a ladder stitch.  It makes an invisible seam, and is just as easy to do!  With what ever method you use to sew your hexies together, make sure that you securely stitch your corners and your end to make sure they don't come unraveled.

Well, that is all the tips that I can think of!  Everyone, have a great day!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Quilt Shows!

One of the things that has kept me busy is going to quilt shows!  Back when we rode Harley's (and yes, I had my own!) we used to plan our vacations around going to bike rallies.  Now, we plan our vacations around going to quilt shows!
I am so fortunate to live within driving distance of several really great shows!  One of my favorites is Indiana Heritage Quilt Show that is located 3 hours away in Bloomington, IN. It is a smaller show, but it more than makes up for volume by the quality of the quilts!  And the roster of national teachers is phenomenal!  I always have a hard time deciding what classes to take!  This year, I decided to immerse myself in learning EQ7.  I have had the program (which is a quilt designing software) for several years, and played with it, but really felt like I could get more out of it than I could teach myself.  So for three days I took classes, starting with the basics to more advanced.  I know there is still much more that I can learn, but I have a much better grasp on it!
On a whim, I decided to enter Circle of Life.  When I didn't get an email notifying me of a ribbon, I thought, okay.  Then when I started to go through the show on my lunch break, a friend saw me and congratulated me on my ribbon!  What!  An Honorable Mention!  The competition was tough, so the HM is a thrill!
The next show was Paducah!  Living just 4 hours away makes this an easy show to get to.  I left hubby at home and stayed with some friends.  I also met up with a church friend from way back who lives and works in Paducah.  I only took one class this year.  I have set a goal of learning to become an certified quilt appraiser.  The class I took was an all day class on Dating Quilts.  Oh, my!  There is just so much to learn!  I have increased my library with reference books.  And have developed a fascination with Feedsack Fabrics!
Of course, Paducah itself is inspiration galore!  Fantastic quilts, crowds of talented quilters, vendors galore hawking every notion imaginable!  If you can't find it at Paducah (or Houston) you probably don't need it!
AQS once again presented the Tentmakers of Cairo.  I had seen them in Grand Rapids, but never tire of watching these talented gentlemen plying those ginormous scissors to make such intricate shapes!
Stay tuned for more updates!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I've been missing in action!

YIKES!  It has been 4 1/2 months since my last blog post!  Mea culpa!  My apologies to those who have come to read my post and keep finding the same old thing!

Yes, I have been busy.  In February, hubby and I went to North Carolina and visited with his family who live in the Raleigh area.  We had a super time, and yes, I did visit a quilt shop!

This was located in the town where Fort Bragg is located.  Sorry, I can't remember the name of the town.  But the shop was super, as well as the staff!  Worth looking for if you are in that part of the country!
We also were busy remodeling our sunporch into a sunroom!  We added a Fujitsu mini-split HVAC system, took the siding off the walls (which had been exterior) and had drywall and trim put up, and covered the painted concrete floor with vinyl!
My HQ SweetSixteen is very happy in her new home!
Our beloved Scooter became ill.  We were his parents since he was 6 weeks.  He was 11 1/2 years old when the vet felt he had a liver and possibly a pancreatic cancer. With not much hope for a successful treatment, we elected to put him to sleep.  I stayed with him until his last breath.  Hubby was absolutely devasted.
So in March we adopted a 5 1/2 year old dog named Kelvin!  He is a mixed breed, toy fox terrier and lots of other breeds!  But he is very a good dog.
We enrolled him in manners class with our local humane society.  He graduated top dog with 5 gold stars!  I think who ever was his first owners must have trained him, as he quickly knew all the commands.  It really was a class more for us!
So back to quilty things.  My local guild holds an auction every February.  It is an opportunity for members to clean out their quilting studios and raise money for the guild.  I hit the mother lode this year.  I got this Ott Lite, brand new in the box, for $45.
The major find was this Euro-Pro steam iron.  It was in the silent auction, unbid on.  I got it for $30.  It was brand new, never used.  It retails for $250!  It is fantastic for pressing quilt tops.  The steam is great!
I also found this pile of signature blocks.  What drew me to buy them was the top block, which was signed by a member who had passed away last year.  I had a mystery to unravel (literally) as the blocks looked like they had been sewn together, then deconstructed.  Where did they come from?  Most, if they were dated, had 1999, although one was dated 2000, and two were dated 2009!  But all were the same style!
Using piecing skills I learned at a Kaye England  workshop, and a design I worked up on EQ7, I made this quilt top!  I showed it to a couple of guild members who said it was from a signature block swap done in 1999-2000.  The person who donated them no longer belonged to the guild, and it wasn't outside of her norm to deconstruct something.  The two blocks dated 2009 are still a mystery.  I asked the two ladies, and they don't even remember making them!
Finally, I have agreed to be a "ghost" quilter for my friend Mickey Depre!  Well, maybe not ghost.  I guess I could be called a stunt double quilter!  Anyway, here is one of her designs that I have stitched for her!  Please check out her Craftsy class if you want to learn more about Pieced Hexies.  But, BEWARE!  Hexies are addicting!
This brings you up through March!  Stay tuned for further updates!