Sunday, December 23, 2012

Choose Joy.....

Merry Christmas!

We will be enjoying the holidays with family and then heading to Toronto for New Years and a slightly belated Christmas with our little guy and his mama and daddy.  Can't wait!

I wish each of you a blessed Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year that is filled with peace -- as you piece!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Basketful of Color

One week to go and I can't decide if I'm caught up or just behind and don't realize it.  I didn't have a lot of Christmas quilting to do and we don't go to a lot of parties and I'll eventually do some baking -- but for now, I'm in a spot of limbo.  Should I be doing something?  Can I enjoy the moment?  What (or who) have I forgotten?
One thing I had forgotten is how much I love this wallhanging!  I have actually never hung it on a wall for Christmas.
But the fabrics are divine!
I got this years and years ago from Keepsake Quilting when I saw it and fell in love with the fabrics.  Never mind that I had no idea how to do any of the techniques.  I had to have it.
It's machine applique and quilt as you go.  Or at least it was when I did it.  The instructions were average, the templates were scary since I had never had to do anything quite this freeform, and the fabrics made my heart sing.  I was terrified of cutting into the fabrics and clueless about how to use the natural shadings in them to emphasize the design.
Nor was I sure how to use the quilting to create additional design.
In the end, I love it -- even though it stays hung in the closet.  Hopefully, by this time next year, I'll have hangers somewhere in the house (out of the sun) so I can enjoy my seasonal wallhangings.  For now-this one is on my design wall so I see it everyday!

I wish each of you peace, joy, and color in your world -- Jan


As a postscript -- it seems insensitive to be speaking of joy and color with such darkness and sadness in Newtown, CT.  Words fail me in this incredibly sad sad time.  I can only pray those affected will someday find peace, joy, and color again.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Walk thru the Neighborhood

I have to say that the Log Cabin block is just about my favorite traditional block.  I like Ohio Stars but I love Log Cabins.  And I particularly love the Barn Raising setting.  There are so many different options but after playing with the blocks -- this is the one that that always makes me the happiest.  Check out all the different settings in the link to Big Horn Quilts.
I just finished this quilt and it's ready to gift to a soon-to-be-first-time-grammie.  If you're a periodic reader of this blog, you may remember that this was made from her sons' boxer shorts.  I hope she will like it and it can become a floor quilt for Baby A when he gets here.  It was fun to do but the cutting of boxers is not nearly as efficient as cutting from men's shirts.  Logs finish at 1" and the blocks are 7" finished.
This is the first log cabin I ever made.  The logs finish at 1.5" and it's made of lots of scraps.  It's been a constant on my guest bed for years and it always makes me smile when I wash it and put it back on the bed. It was quilted on my Bernina when I had no idea what to do -- and my plan was to quilt the lights in a neutral thread and the darks in an Aurafil variegated that.  The variegated didn't cooperate for some reason and that plan was abandoned.  The quilt was heavy, I didn't do a good job of supporting it while quilting, and it torqued something important.  Lesson learned.

This is my second log cabin and maybe my favorite.  The logs finish at 1" and I made long before "latte quilts" were trendy.  Actually, I made it long before I knew what "latte" even was!  It was also quilted on my Bernina and I think the quilting overshadows the piecing - which is not what I wanted.  I do love it and plan to do another one of these day. Nothing uses up those strips and bits of left over fabric than cutting logs.
This quilt was made for my sister, Tuthfairy, and is out of Christmas fabrics.  She has always loved this block and when it was time to make a Christmas quilt for her -- there was only one block to do.  Logs finish at 1" and I really like this quilt as well.  It's always fun to see it come out during the holidays.
This quilt is similar to one that I saw in a quilt shop in a Chicago suburb.  It's called Curved Log Cabin (I think) and is with Asian fabrics.  I collected those for a while before starting this and then I got the "bug" out of my system to use them.  I do love their richness but I never could really bring myself to combine them with other fabrics in quilts.  For the first time, I switched thread colors on Sadie Gammill as I was quilting.  What a pain!  But I wanted a light thread in the white area but not in the darker logs. The scraps went into a paper piecing project that has gone to live elsewhere.  More on that at another time.
These are special Log Cabins and are placemats made by my sister.  She was not a quilter before this but has wanted log cabin placements for a long long time.  Her kitchen is brick red and the colors are perfect for her breakfast bar -- as is the binding she chose.  All I did (other than cutting and putting the binding on) was show her what to do and she did the rest.  I think they are magnificent and I'm hoping she will want to do more quilting.  It was fun having her in the quilt room!  Nothing like sharing what you love to do with someone you love.

So what's next? I'm wondering about one in all grays -- lites to charcoal much like my neutral quilt above.  And I have to do one with 1" strips that finish at 1/2".  I think those are unbelievable quilts and I want one.  I've also thought about my Cherrywoods but don't think I can bring myself to put so much of those incredible fabrics in the seam allowance.
I always keep logs in "inventory" and periodically make a few log cabin blocks as part of my leaders and enders.  I have about 10-15 that I've done in the past.  Some day I'll get serious about those -- but for now, they are in a tote and I'll keep cutting logs as I work with my scraps.  In looking at the tote -- maybe I should spend some time sorting them!

What about you?  What's your favorite block or quilt pattern than you've duplicated over the years because it's just "perfect"?

I hope you're finding time to sew and create during these crazy, busy days!  Jan

Monday, December 3, 2012

One for the Money....

Have you seen this block or quilt popping up on various websites?  It's called One for the Money and I am very conflicted about it.
I love the block...I love the impact of the design with the right fabrics....I love the complexity of the pattern...but the instructions are complicated at best.  I appreciate the brains that put this together because it's not nearly so simple as it appears.  As this quilt gets bigger and bigger, the stripes match up in every direction and I cannot figure out how. Thank goodness there are quilters out there that can.
I had seen this on a few blogs and am so appreciative that our guild asked JAO to teach a class on this.  She has made a number of quilts using this pattern, knows how it goes together, is extremely patient, and was willing to redraft the layout in a way that made it easier to follow.  
I knew what fabric I wanted to use as soon as I saw the pattern.  I wanted a stripe that had a controlled color pallet and a variation on width of strips.  The trick with this pattern is that you cut your blocks from strips that run length of fabric (about 4 yards) and not WOF.  So until the block goes together, you have no idea what it's going to look like.  It all depends on where that first cut is made and then you are forced to follow it.
Organization is the key and so is a good cutting area.  Seriously, JAO had us cutting from 9:15a until 1:00p with a half hour for lunch.  You have to cut this completely before you can even begin to sew and she strongly recommended we bring cookie sheets of some kind to keep our blocks sorted.  You have to lay these out in a way that is precise so you can pull the right half square triangle as you follow the template.  With good cutting techniques, the stripes match up easily when you assemble.  But there are oodles of biases to watch out for.
My pix don't do JAO's quilts justice.  They were hung with skirt hangers and weren't flat and I completely screwed up the pix of her queen size floral quilt that she had fussy cut.  It was amazing.

In my case, I lost patience and made a baby quilt.  I needed one rather quickly for a boy and like the non-traditional look of this for a baby's quilt.  Thus -- I have a lot of fabric left over.  In fairness to the designers, this pattern uses a lot of fabric but the quilt doesn't.  You have to cut it all and there are plenty of blocks left over that can be used for a back or charity quilt or less organized quilt.  But, I have even more left over as I only made nine blocks and I think we were to make 12.
If you are thinking about this -- and it's a dynamite quilt when finished -- I'm suggesting a class or personal coaching by someone that has made this and knows the tricks.  If you're interested in contacting JAO to see if she's available to teach a class, send me an email and I'll connect you up.  It is worth it to have someone guide you through this and she knows this pattern!

I do love stripes and am happy to have extra fabric in my stash....I bought 8 yards of this on sale and only needed 4 so I'll be able to use it somewhere else along the way.

I hope you are finding time to be creative as the holidays approach!   Jan

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Octagons -- finally done!

This quilt has been years in the making.  Literally.  It started with admiring MacQuilts' Paperweight quilt that she made from a kit of Kaffe shot cottons.  And then I got the pattern and hunted down the recommended kite ruler.  And I started cutting...and cutting. 
This pattern calls for width of fabric strips in 2.5" and 2.0" so as I bought fabric, I'd cut two strips and put them in a bin.  Since I'm a scrap quilter, I have no "palette" -- and you can see that as you look at all the different octagons.  Not all brights nor reproductions nor novelties nor prints nor.....
This is an Aardvark Quilt pattern and I do love it.  She gives good directions about using lights, darks, mediums in order to get a sense of depth in the quilt.  I didn't really achieve that as well as I'd like.  I used black on black fabrics for the kites -- as you look at various examples, this is easier said than done.  
The pattern calls for this to be assembled in rows with inset seams.  Not my preferred method of construction so I put mine together in blocks.  This requires laying out a lot more as you go and not being able to move the octagons around for balance.  That was ok with me.  I had my wedges done -- just not assembled and I previewed those.  I would absolutely put it together like that again.
AND, to that point -- there will be another quilt.  This uses a boatload of fabric because you are cutting 60 degree triangles and that results in an equivalent number of "opposite" triangles -- but rarely enough for a full hexagon.  I was able to use some of them for the half hexagons on the edges of the quilt.  When putting together "unmatched" triangles and maybe scrappy-pieced kites, it will be a lot more fun and layout will be a lot less important because it should be a happy bedlam of scraps.  How fun is that.  I hope to put that on next year's list -- I needed to walk away from these for a while.
But, it's done and I do like it a lot.  I quilted it last spring and finally finished the binding last nite.  It is going on the guest bed for Thanksgiving and is the washer right now!  Yea!!!!  It's a small queen and I couldn't get a picture of the entire thing so you'll get bits and pieces.
I've done a few other things in the meantime -- two more charity quilts delivered, started an occasional block for myniecetheathlete's batik quilt -- that is my "spring project" for sure.  Finished a baby quilt from a class I took -- more on that later.  My Hurricane Sandy quilt is on it's way to New Jersey Project Linus (see last week's post if you want to help out).  It is so cold and the coverage is heartbreaking. I hope it can keep someone a bit warmer during all this tragedy.

AND, I did manage to spend three days in Houston with mom22smartchix -- here's my loot before I packed it up to come home.  I bought two kits which is not like me at all and two goodie bags from Cherrywoods and a few other things.  More on that and the incredible quilts and great booths and trends.

I wish each of you a wonderful, healthy, family filled Thanksgiving....with plenty of good calories.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Call to Action

What a two weeks....Hurricane Sandy, a presidential election (and an end to political ads) that reminds us of the privilege of being able to "vote", and now a nor'easter to complete the trifecta!  I suspect all of us know many people in the northeast who have been without power, had damage to their homes, have been inconvenienced by mass transit issues, or maybe even lost all their possessions.  This time 18 months ago, I was traveling to NYC and the financial district on a fairly regular basis.  Coverage of the storm from Battery Park was particularly fascinating to me.

If there is one thing I know -- it's that quilters have kind and giving hearts.  I think it is in our DNA.  We've seen it disaster after disaster -- Katrina, Japan's earthquake, Australia's fires, and now Sandy to name just a few.As you would expect, the troops are rallying and there is a need for warmth.  Are we up for it?  OF COURSE we are.  So far, I've seen these two calls for action and places where quilts can be sent to aid the victims of Sandy.

American Quilter had this information about sending quilts to the Project Linus coordinator who will distribute.  If you read this, you will see that this not your typical PL quilt for a child.  Instead, they should be twin to queen size.  All the info you need is included as well as contact information should you have a question.

Victoria Findley, who many of you may know as BumbleBeans, has been active in NYC with an organization she helped establish that provides quilts to people in shelters.  They have expanded their outreach to include those impacted by Sandy.  Her information is here and you will note they are asking for store bought quilts or blankets, as well.  Contact information is also provided for questions.

I was captivated by early coverage of the storm and then slipped away to Houston for the International Quilt Festival (oh, my!) and didn't have the TV on the entire three days of 80+ temps.  So easy to forget the suffering and cold of others when you are out of the fray!
I suspect many of you are like me -- extremely grateful for all you have as we go into the Thanksgiving season -- and acutely aware that there are people suffering physically and emotionally that we can help. I'll be getting my Orca Bay ready to ship -- I knew it was a donation quilt when I made it and now I know it needs a home with someone who will not care about a few missed points!

As other means of getting quilts come to light, I'll be updating this post to include them.  BUT, don't forget that the most immediate thing we can all do is donate to American Red Cross.  It's so easy and provides much needed resources instantaneously.  I do feel blessed to live in a country where generosity and caring are basic traits of most -- we just hear about them less than the slugs that are out there creating problems.

I hope you and your quilting are blessings to someone that needs it this week!


UPDATE -- here is additional information about another outlet for donating quilts to help out.
Long Island Chapter for Quilts for  They are working with the local schools in Long Beach, pediatricians in the Rockaways, and the Community Outreach Center of Nassau Community Hospital and Winthrop Hospital.  In addition, they are going straight to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Vehicles to give to people in need. They are asking for child sized quilts.

Quilts can be sent to Carrie Crowley Davis, Long Island Quilts for Kids, 304 North Ocean Avenue, Patchogue, NY  11772.  You can also reach out to Carrie at

NEW UPDATE -- Michele at The Quilting Gallery is matching up people who can't quite make a quilt but are willing to make quilt block(s) and others who will assemble and quilt.  If time keeps you from making a quilt (or if you don't have one in inventory), this might be the way to help.  Just check out the link and see what you might be able to do.  Thanks.

Friday, October 26, 2012

It Takes a Village -- Part 2

It's that time again -- Amy has her fall edition of Blogger's Quilt Festival active for a week, starting today.  If ever you wanted to see an encyclopedia of quilt goodness, it's worth taking a stroll through all the submissions.

I am going to submit my "It Takes a Village" because of what it means to me.  I love this quilt.  I love the women it represents.  I love to quilt.  

Seriously -- take a minute and walk through the incredible quilts and stories over at Amy's Creative Side!


I am a scrap hound.  I admit it.  I like it.  I profit from it!

I call this quilt "It Takes a Village" for a very special reason.  Only about 40% of this quilt is from my scraps.  The rest have come from my friends in the village where we lived outside Chicago.  It's all batiks and I haven't done much with batiks in the past few years.   A few of them, however, work mainly in batiks (to my advantage, I'd like to say) and aren't particularly fond of small scraps and using them up (to my advantage, I'd like to say!!!!!).

When we would get together to sew, it was always great fun to find a little baggie of snippets.  Some might be a bit too small to use but many could easily become 1.5" squares or greater.  And there was one particular trash basket at MacQuilts house that was always worth going through if I could get there before the cleaning lady.  My goodness, I've found some great scraps in there.  Tsk!  Tsk! 
Even more touching for me have been the times that a package would show up at my door after we moved to Kentucky and there would be baggies of cute little batik goodness in there.  Hence, the name of this quilt.

I did lots of "cutting" for it but not in the usual sense.  I pulled out all my 1.5" squares, some 1.5" strips,  trimmed up all the donated scraps, and started sewing!  This has been such fun.  Between the fabric and the randomness of it, it really was "grab and go" sewing.

The quilt is modeled after Tonya Ricucci's "Lego" quilt that I found on her site about a year ago.  There are a number of posts where she talks about her process and that led to a plethora of similar quilts being made and enjoyed by other quilters.

Basically, these are 10.5" blocks that are set 6 x 6 so the quilt finishes at 60" square.  As I started to lay it out, I wasn't thrilled with the fairly apparent demarcation where all the blocks were coming together vertically, so I changed the setting a bit.  The first row is six 10" blocks.  The second row starts with a half block followed by five 10" blocks and ends with another half block.  That breaks it up a bit.  You can certainly still see the blocks when you look but it's a bit less obvious. The third row is six 10" blocks and so on.

As I laid the blocks out, I actually looked for places where the "logs" were the same fabric end-to-end -- or at least similar.  This is the first time in my quilting life that I wanted same fabrics touching!  That helped break the lines a bit more.  As you can see in the red piece here in the corner, there are two blocks there but the same fabric is a bit of a fooler unless you look closely.
So -- I love this quilt.  It's really not mine.  I made it but the fabric was from special people who are now in Chicago, Iowa, and the Bluegrass area of Kentucky.  My intention (once I get it labeled and washed) is that it goes to them.  It can travel among MacQuilts, CookingMama, Mom22SmartChix, MyNeicetheQuilter, LogCabinQuilter, and ShirasGram.  They can keep it as long as they want (years!) and then pass it on to the next one.  I certainly don't need it -- I've had my joy in looking at the fabric, playing with them, remembering the person that shared them, and often recalling the project they were used in.  Aren't quilting friends the best?

I would absolutely make this quilt again.  It's a great way to use those 1.5" strips of all sizes and walk down memory lane.  I hope you're finding time to be creative and remember those you enjoy sharing your quilting with!  Jan