Friday, July 1, 2016

Where's Barbara?

     I'm here. Wow! Has it really been 8 months since I posted?
     The huge scrappy quilt I referred to in my last post has been quilted, and is available as a laminated pattern, as well as an e-pattern on Craftsy. It's a slightly tweaked reproduction of an antique quilt I own. The original is in ugly browns and reds. I wanted to use ocean colors with some pops of sunshine yellow- so much prettier. It's a great way to use all those little bitty scraps.
     I call the pattern "Wind Farm", but in these colors it's obviously an offshore wind farm!  I completed it in time for spring show season.

Wind Farm

Another pattern that debuted this spring was Five and Fabulous! You can purchase a hard copy or e-pattern. This is my third pattern using five 1-yard pieces of fabric. I had purchased the fabric a while back, and got tired of them taunting me. I really regretted buying them until one day, while searching for something on my computer, I came across a pattern I had worked up in Quilt Pro. I barely remembered creating it, but with only a slight change in border widths, I was able to make it work with five yards of fabric. What's more, the Warm Company provided me with a great batting to test, and with a little cutting and piecing, I was able to use it on this quilt. Viola!

Five and Fabulous!
      When my mother saw the finished quilt she said, "Jody would love this." Jody (my niece) isn't getting it, but she IS getting this:
Pineapple Blossom
     This is Bonnie Hunter's "Pineapple Blossom" pattern. I used the scraps from "Five and Fabulous!" with other pink, green, black and white fabrics in my stash. The borders are the leftover backing strips from "Five and Fabulous!" This was a fun pattern and I love the border of pieced triangles made from the cutaway corners.
     I found this fun fabric for the backing, "Chinoiserie Chic" from Westminster. I have enough left over to make a cute bag or two.

"Chinoiserie Chic"

I had a booth at three quilt shows in March and April. At the first one, I purchased a sweet Moda charm pack, and by the third show had created a new pattern with it. "Rick Rack Charm Pack Bed Runner" uses one charm pack and 2 1/2 yards of background fabric, plus a tiny scrap for the butterfly bodies. Bed runners are great for a pop of color on a white cotton bedspread, or as extra warmth for those of us with cold feet. This will be up on both my web site and Craftsy this weekend.
Rick Rack Charm Pack Bed Runner
     After spring show season was over, I was VERY busy at work for several weeks, and the last thing my brain wanted to do was be creative. So I put my spare time to good use working on UFOs.

     This is a remake of one of my earlier patterns, "Star Light, Star Bright." The original was made from floral prints and was too busy for this bold, graphic design. I loved the pattern, but not the finished quilt.  I had long wanted to do a more "solid" version.
     A couple years ago I was asked to make several long, reversible runners - red tonal print on one side, cream tonal on the other. I was left with long (over four yards long) strips along the fold of the fabrics. I started cutting pieces to remake the quilt, and when I was done cutting, I had enough pieces for 7 1/2 of the 12 blocks! I only had to purchase fabric for half the quilt. And for backing I found this lovely floral stripe from Red Rooster. It's so soft and silky it would make great pajamas!
    I decided a while back that I wanted to hand piece and hand quilt this baby! I only had one border left to go, so I dug it out of the UFO pile and stitched it on. How to quilt it was a dilemma. I didn't want to quilt it as separate blocks, as the pattern has so much movement I thought an allover design would be better. Finally I decided since I love free form, free-motion machine-quilted feathers, I would reproduce the look in hand quilting. I chose thread to match the bits of tan in the backing. I have a LONG way to go, but it's a portable project, as well as something to do with my hands while watching television. Of course if I want to finish it in this lifetime, I need to seriously up my scanty tv watching.
Star Light, Star Bright
allover feather quilting

     Next in the UFO pile was my Judy Niemeyer table runner, "Cactus Blossom." I started this in a workshop with Jackie Kunkel two years ago and finally finished piecing it. I have some amazingly gorgeous variegated thread in my stash to start quilting it, but not enough to finish it, so I need to order another spool, which I will do today.

"Cactus Blossom"
     One of my favorite workshops was the one I took with Anita Grossman Solomon, "Anita's Arrowhead".  I made extra blocks and added a border for a large quilt for my tall husband! This is completely from my stash. Still not sure how I want to quilt it, but no hurry! I've got the backing pieced and batting purchased, but it's too warm to use this time of year. Can you tell I'm procrastinating basting this big boy?

"Anita's Arrowhead"

     I love this pattern, and Anita's amazing techniques, so I signed up for her Craftsy class, "Traditional Blocks Made Simple." I sat and watched almost the whole thing in one sitting. I highly recommend this class, which includes an e-book version of her Rotary Cutting Revolution!  (And with that last sentence, I inadvertently gave a nod to not one, but two companies in which I am an affiliate- Craftsy and C & T Publishing.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Autumn Interlude

, I'm alive and well. Quilt show season is over, and it was a good one. The newest patterns all sold well, and I nearly ran out of my initial order of periwinkle templates (placing an order tonight).
I'm bowled over by the response to this template /pattern set- not only how well it's selling, but the response from quilters has been GREAT! They love how easily the pieces fit perfectly together.

Random Acts of Scrappiness- I was unable to take a decent photo in time for the shows, but the virtual quilt picture I substituted in the meantime didn't appear to hurt sales. This is a scrappy or fat quarter-friendly quilt, and I offer it as a laminated pattern.

Focus on Fun is another easy laminated pattern. Two yards of a fun focus fabric and a bunch of scraps make a huge "lap" quilt.

Jelly Donuts is a quilt for the slightly more advanced quilter. One jelly roll, two border fabrics, and VIOLA! The hardest part about making this quilt was coming up with a name for it.

     Branching out into a small line of wool felt kits was an opportunity that just happened to come my way, and I was able to take advantage of it. I named the line "Pearl Prynne's Pretties" after one of my favorite characters in American literature- the little girl in "The Scarlet Letter".

Merry Beluga Christmas!

     I came home to a couple days off, then back to work, working for two while my co-worker was on vacation. Now my mind is racing thinking about new patterns. My 2016 season starts in early March, and I have a couple projects in stages of "almost done"- quilts that just didn't get done in time for my fall shows. I'm forcing myself to complete one before I start a new project.

     Remember my late spring purging project? And how I "organized" my scraps?
     I did manage to use up quite a bit of scraps. I made one quilt top (in my TBQ- to be quilted-pile) that ended up being 80" square. I made a pile of smaller items for a friend's holiday crafts open house this weekend- six table runners, two baby quilts and an apron, plus a pile of Kanzashi ornaments. I made a couple of blocks for a group quilt. I took the uglies to quilt shows to use for demos. I remade Jelly Donuts in scrappy Christmas prints...  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Just Call Me Bunny*, or, What are Siblings For?

     Eight p.m., a summer evening in a coastal New England town. The phone rings. "What was the Final Jeopardy question?" a male voice asks.
     "Who was T.E. Lawrence?" I reply.
     "Did you get it right?" he asks.
     "Of course."
     I picture the person belonging to the voice, with the twinkling blue eyes and Tom Selleck dimple on his chin.
     "Do you think the good folks at No Such Agency are listening in?" I ask.
     On cue, there's static on the phone lines.

     This is a typical conversation between us, one that plays out at least once a week. Craig will call me with some oddball question, usually something to Google, because my brother isn't on the internet. Now that my reputation as a walking, talking Googler of useless information has spread, I also receive such phone calls from my parents. Whereas my brother's calls are usually requests to locate parts for obscure power tools, my mother's questions are more likely to involve some long-dead actor of the '40's, often to settle a bet with her sister. Mom is always right, and I think her sister has yet to make good on the bets.

     Occasionally, I feel the need to reciprocate.
     "Hey, Craig, are you busy?"
     "What do you want?"
     "If I send you a printout, would you make me some templates?"
     "How many?"
     "Just two- a set of two."
     "How many sets?"
     "Just one- for now."
     "How many do you REALLY want me to make?"
     "How many do you want to make?"
     "Well, I'm not going to make you 600, if that's what you're asking."

     Today the templates arrived in all their shining plexiglass glory. It's time to play!

*and if you don't get my reference to Bunny, you MUST watch the movie pictured above. Google it.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

June Cleaver's dresses, taming the scrap pile, and some thoughts about creativity...

    In my last post, I showed an assortment of vintage fabrics, each piece approximately 11" x 18". I had them for several years, and they taunted me every time I'd look at them. Thanks to the fact I go NOWHERE without a notebook, graph paper, and isometric graph paper, I finally worked out a design on my lunch break. There is nothing like a peanut butter sandwich to get those brain cells hopping!
     Here's "Wiggle Room". The pattern will be available soon.

Wiggle Room

     The past few months have been incredibly busy for me; I've been putting in a lot of extra hours at work, as well as teaching, traveling to out-of-state guilds, and working on new patterns for the upcoming autumn quilt show season. There were days when I'd leave the house before dawn, and wouldn't return until after 10 pm.  And I loved every minute of the insanity. It was truly one of the most creative periods I have ever been through (and it goes on...).
    Why? I discovered decades ago that the busier I am, the more ideas pop into my head. And creative energy fuels physical energy. I am undergoing...


    Why now? Even before I started the pile of quilts that are now awaiting quilting, I realized my quilts are taking over my house. Yes, I can keep them reasonably neatly boxed up, but quilts for trunk shows are one thing, quilts for my booth at quilt shows are another, and there is some overlap. This isn't a major problem if, like this year, I have trunk shows but no quilt shows in the early part of the year, and all my quilt shows (but no trunk shows) are jammed together in the fall. I repack once and that does it. That's not usually how it goes though. So, I need to get my quilts in a more easily accessible location so I can repack as needed. I also want to be able to visit my antique sewing machines more often, but they've been hiding in abject terror.

Lady Macbeth, my sweet lass from Scotland

     What is going/has gone in the purge? Carloads of books and magazines, hobby and craft materials that no longer interest me, some never-used household items, non-quilt fabric. Gone, gone, gone, without shedding a tear. And there is still quite a bit more to go.

     I don't have one (gasp!). I have scraps. My scraps and (more likely) other people's scraps. I discovered years ago that purchasing fabric without a definite project in mind is a kiss of death for that fabric, a guarantee it will never be used. And, dare I say it, I don't even LIKE fabric shopping! So, no stash for me.
     Yes, I have scraps. I have scraps of scraps. I have bins of scraps, boxes of scraps and bags of scraps. Scraps on the floor. Scraps in underbed boxes.
     Scraps engender scrap quilts. So, it's probably time to think about doing another scrap quilt book. With that in mind, I've been slowly organizing my scraps.

I started with the bin of scraps from my Quilts of Valor workshop days. I had actually twice donated unfinished tops and bags of fabric to QOV groups that had booths at shows where I was vending. How much could I have left? Here's what I posted on Facebook:

      "I thought I possibly had enough left for one very scrappy top, and I would cut the pieces, bag them, and save them for when I wanted an easy project.
In addition to discovering I had two quilt backings, two tops only lacking borders, the finished blocks for another top, and blocks for half of yet ANOTHER top, I also had more fabric than I thought. I sliced and diced for the past three or four nights, and organized and bagged up the pieces. The photo shows the results:
Fabric to finish the rest of the blocks for that fourth quilt top, plus... three Disappearing 9-patch tops, two Strip Twist tops, and one Rail Fence, one bag of hundreds of 2 1/2" squares, five outer borders, four inner borders, six bindings,and three pillowcases. And I still have some fabric left." 

Since I posted that, I have filled up another grocery bag with appropriate fabrics from among my other scraps.

QOV kits

     Fueled by the success of organizing the QOV fabric, I decided to tackle some of my smaller scraps. Trimmed, folded and ironed it doesn't look like a lot of fabric, but there is enough for several quilts here.

She slices, she dices..

           As I go, if I see fabrics that "play nicely together" colorwise, I am putting them in plastic bags for future projects. The fabrics in the bags here are some of the fabrics I am using to reproduce a late 19th century scrappy quilt in my collection. I have a bag with cute modern baby fabric scraps, a pile of purples,  a bag of scraps, spanning at least 50 years, that coordinate with two focus fabrics in bright tropical prints. I'm trimming off uneven edges, and cutting those cut-off pieces into 2 1/2" squares and strips of whatever length.
     Happy Quilting,



Friday, May 1, 2015

...but wait, there's more!

     Since you ALL know I love working with other people's scraps, you'll also know I'm ecstatic to finally have an idea for this group of fabrics. I refer to them as WWJW, what would June (Cleaver) wear?- because they remind me of 1960 shirtdress fabrics, and can't you just hear Eddie Haskell telling Mrs. Cleaver the blue in her dress matches her eyes?
     Now that we've officially established the fact that I'm older than dirt, just like these fabrics, stay tuned to see what I plan on doing with them. There will be hexagons, and this will be the second of my "Faux Moderne" quilts.

     These are actually fewer than half the fabrics in the original batch I won several years ago from my guild's Ways and Means. The pieces are pinked around the edges, and all measure 11" x 17". I suspect they may have been fabric samples, possibly from an area textile mill.
     I sorted the fabrics into three batches, cool colors (above), warm colors, and oddball pieces. The oddballs went into my scrap bin, but the warm colors were quickly pieced into the Strip Twist lap quilt pictured below, a great free pattern from Bonnie Hunter. I was one piece short of being able to have enough pieces for the last block, so I improvised with the appliqu├ęd center. The green borders were another vintage Ways and Means treasure. I've been hand quilting this on and off for a few years in an allover (and what was I thinking???) Baptist fan pattern. Bonnie saw the unfinished quilt top when she visited my guild; I WILL have it done before she comes back next year!

A Tale of Two Jelly Rolls

    A while back, a friend sent me a box of fabric, which included three Moda Jelly Rolls. This immediately got the creative juices flowing- how easy it would be to come up with three new patterns, each using one Jelly Roll.
   Wrong! It was harder than I thought, and it took me a while to come up with even one design. But, that one quilt top is done and a picture will be forthcoming when I finally quilt it.
    The remaining two Jelly Rolls are identical- an older line called "Wildflower Serenade". Very traditional, nothing really wrong with that, but do I really want TWO quilts made from the same fabrics? Suddenly it clicked. Each Jelly Roll has 40 different fabrics. If I could split each roll into two sets of 20 fabrics each, separating by color, I would have two new (totally different) colorways to work with. Here is what I did:

    I took out all the red strips, the dark blue strips, and all but two of the ecru strips. I'm not sure what I'm doing with this strip set yet, so it will go back in a box. I used a flash- the colors are darker than pictured here.

     That left me with an unusual variety of colors- lighter blue, black, dark purple, the two darkest ecru from each roll, and dark green. My pattern (a tessellating star design) will have stars from each strip tessellating with a common background fabric. I decided against an off-white in favor of a light color, and this soft golden yellow fit the bill.  There will also be a narrow inner border of this so the darker stars will appear to float. I had originally put the dark blue strips in this pile and the green with the red and ecru, but thought the red/green/ecru combo would look too Christmasy. When I swapped the dark blue and green I was happier with both combos.
     I chose a lighter green subtle vine print for the outer border, but in going through my stash, I found a couple yards of this great border stripe fabric I had bought on clearance a couple years ago- perfection!
     After the craziness of the past few weeks, it's lovely to have time to work on new projects.
     I had almost back-to-back trunk shows/lectures at two guilds in Massachusetts, and was frantically working on getting my newest pattern ready to come along with me. Of course I ran out of pattern envelopes and my laminating machine (an old freebie I got from a former co-worker) died. That's par for the course, but I WAS able to pick up the pattern covers at the printers on time and they came out lovely, if I do say so myself, considering I only took a couple of photos, not my usual eight or nine.

      So, I was able to debut the pattern as planned; this is "Critterville", a "large" version of a miniature quilt I made years ago. This came about as a result of a workshop I teach called "Sixty Degrees of Separation", in which I show you how to use the 60 degree marking on your ruler to make triangles, diamonds and hexagons of any size. I generally don't use single lines of fabric, but "Under the Sea" by Quilting Treasures was so doggoned cute I couldn't resist. It is up on my web site, and is also available as an e-pattern on Craftsy, if you need instant gratification.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Springing into Spring- Let's Celebrate!

  After several days of raw, rainy weather, today finally felt like spring. And how better to celebrate than with a giveaway? 

    Martingale, Island Batik, and Ackfeld Manufacturers (makers of these adorable mini quilt stands) are sponsors. As an Island Batik Ambassador, I have a copy of "Little Gems" to give away to one of my blog followers; you also have a chance of winning prizes from Island Batik and Ackfeld.

   This is my version of Daisy Daze, made from Island Batik fabrics. The bright colors are from the "Full Bloom" line, and remind me of my multi-colored portulaca. I chose to make this pattern for the blog hop because I just love the little yo-yos, but truly, all the patterns are so cute that you'll want to make every one of  them. The title is so perfect; every pattern is a gem. 

So how do I enter to win? It's easy. Comment below, telling me why you deserve to win. Make it funny; everyone needs a few laughs. Then follow this blog. On April 20th I will choose a winner by random number generator.  And don't forget to go back to my previous post where you will find contact info for ALL the Island Batik Ambassadors who are participating- you can enter there too!

Good luck!