Sometimes we need a reminder….

….of what our quilts mean to others. Whenever I’m frustrated with my quilting and ready to give up, I pull these out of my drawer…

thank-you-cards….and read them all. They are from people who appreciated the work and love I put into a quilt I made for them. It’s amazing how gratitude can inspire one to carry on! Do you keep your thank you notes?

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I dyed!

And lived to tell the tale!

Dyed-Fabric1Had it not been for Sue Bleiweiss’s amazing DVD, I’d have never tried it. She made it look so damn easy, I got stupid excited. So everything was set up on DH’s beer-making table in the back yard. No, he doesn’t make beer in the back yard. He makes it in the basement. We are not the Clampetts! (They live across the street from us) It was a perfect day -  mid-80′s and absolutely no wind. Had there been wind, I would have had to make up the dye in the house, which I didn’t want to do since the house was on the market to sell. All I need to do is spill dye on the floor – can you say disaster???

I don’t have any pics of the process – nobody here to take them and I didn’t want to stop, take off gloves, take pics, put the gloves back on (ad nauseum). But I loved that I didn’t have to use big vats. Just a bucket to pre-soak the fabric in soda ash and zip-lock bags. Here’s the fabric in the bags, “cooking”:

dye-bagsI mushed the bags around to disperse the dye every 30 minutes for 4 hours, then let them sit overnight. In the morning, I spent about an hour rinsing all the fabrics and hung them on a rack to dry before bringing them in the house to wash. Remember, no dye on floors!

Fabric-on-rack

Wet dyed fabric

Eureka! Look at those freakin’ great colors!! I’ve been wanting some bright colors for ages but haven’t been able to find what I wanted. Hence, the incentive to dye. I thought I had gotten green, but apparently I picked out a blue-green. Green will definitely be in the next batch.

Into a hot wash they went, with some Synthropol and color catchers. Here’s the finished product:

Dyed-Fabric-3OMG. I’m in love. Candy colors I could just eat.

Ten of the 12 turned out mottled, although I was hoping for solid.

MulberryThat’s my fault. I didn’t open the bags and mix the fabric to disperse the dye, but just squished the bag. So while the dye disperse, the fabric didn’t move around. Good learning lesson. But (swoon!) they’re beautiful, and look as good as any mottled fabric I’ve bought in a store. I had a problem with one of the purples:

purple-spotSee the white spot? I must not have stirred up the fabric in the pre-soak soda ash mixture well enough on this one, and the color didn’t take. Another lesson learned. But isn’t the mottling beautiful?! That white spot won’t stop me from using it!

It took exactly 2 hours to dye 12 different colors and put everything away (but the table). It was easy. It was fun. Of course, this first batch of fabric was a little expensive, having to buy the dyes and supplies. But I plan on doing much more of this, so it’s going to get less expensive the more I do!

Oh! And the house sold! Ohio, here I come!!

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I’m gonna dye trying!!

These arrived on my doorstep yesterday.DyesYep. Twelve colors. If I’m going to do something, I’m all in. Once I get the PFD fabric my dear Peggi is sending me, I’m gonna have myself a crazy good time trying to dye fabric. Or I’m going to turn myself 12 shades of color and have to explain THAT at work. One way or the other, I will be dyeing something!

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Shirley gets blinged out :)

My midarm setup is called Laverne and Shirley. Shirley is the machine, named after my mom, who taught me everything I know about sewing. She recently received a fashion makeover when I found these at the Houston International Quilt Festival that Peggi and I attended in November. Had. To. Have. Them.

Shirley1

Shirley2Another reason to smile whenever I quilt! These are from Quiltastick, are very affordable and very fun. They’ve got dozens of designs, you pick the colors, and they’re crazy easy to apply.

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Surprise quilts are always the best…

My lovely SIL, Marla, did a fantastic job planning a “girls only” week-long vacation on Emerald Island, NC. She had the hardest task – picking out a beach rental for 11 girls – sisters, SIL’s, and nieces (all over 21!). She did a fantastic job planning it, and I had to make her a quilt to thank her. I dove into my stash, and came up with this beautiful creation:

Marla-with-quilt2

The tumbler isn’t from a pattern, but adapted so I could make the best use of the stash fabrics I had chosen. I originally put the colors in random order, but as I was laying it out, I realized a story was emerging. The label explains why the colors are stacked from green to dark pink:

The label IS square - camera distortion stinks!

The label IS square – camera distortion stinks!

For the first time, I tried gluing my matching seams instead of pinning them. I’m such a doorknob – can’t believe it too so long to try this. I will never pin again!!

glue2This was SO freakin’ easy, with no shifting. Perfectly matched seams.

PP1

I really enjoyed quilting this one. I used a template pattern from Judy Madsen’s book (AKA The Green Fairy) Quilting Wide Open Spaces. My, oh my, I want to grow up to quilt just like her!  For my first attempt at template quilting, it turned out pretty darn good. Of course, the first template I quilted looked a bit scary, but after the 4th one I got into a rhythm and really had a ball with it. I just had to learn to relax. Once I relaxed, everything went great.

The top one is the first template I tried - YEECH! Scary looking! But after a while, they looked a bit smoother.

The top one is the first template I tried – YEECH! Scary looking! But after a while, they looked a bit smoother.

I’m continually learning and experimenting with new things on my mid-arm machine. No fear!  I’m loving what I’m learning to create!

PS: I know what you’re thinking. Eleven women??? Well, vacation went spectacularly well. Yep. We didn’t kill each other, and had a wonderful time. In fact, it went so well that we were planning the next vacation while we were there!

PSS: Yep, Emerald Island was hit by the Hurricane Arthur the week after we left ;)

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Evergreen and goldenrod

hollie 1Hollie requested “light & dark sage greens, light & dark creamy golds” for her birthday blocks.  For some reason, it got easier to pick fabrics when I changed it to “evergreen and goldenrod” in my head.  I didn’t think I would care much for the color combo, but can I just say wow!  I love it!  It’s not a color combination you see every day, which is nice.

hollie 4I’ve been drooling over the POTC (Patchwork of the Crosses) blocks for some time.    My block is rather plain in comparison to most of the ones you see on the internet.

The Y-seams were definitely a challenge, but well worth the extra patience.

hollie 2I love, love, love bead blocks.  They’re harder than you’d think.  Getting those points to line up is like getting kindergarteners to line up.

hollie 3I tried a new technique for this applique.  Usually I cut heat-resistant templates and starch the seam allowances under, but this time I cut the bead shapes out of Beth Ferrier’s “Wash-Away Applique Sheets“.  It’s an interesting product.  The sheets are printable on one side and fusible on the other, and when you’re done with the project, they dissolve in water.

hollie 5I found it difficult to hand-applique through the fabric.  The sheets seemed to be pretty stiff, so I ended up switching to machine applique.  When I was done, I stay-stitched around the outer edge of the block and tossed it in the washer, then let it air dry.  After pressing, I’m not sure I’m entirely happy with how crinkly the beads look, but you know what?  Once it’s in the quilt, no one will ever notice.

I recently learned about another interesting applique technique called “front basting”.  Have you heard of it?  I’m eager to try it.  I might have to make another bead/leaf block and test this new-to-me technique.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

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Are you sick and tired of birthday blocks yet?

Birthday girl requested red, black, and white.  I like that color combo; it’s easy to create something awesome.

I started with this one, and it just seemed too blah.  It didn’t really sing to me.

lynne 1So I took it apart and remade it with a different fabric and some very careful piecing.  NOW it has some zing!

lynne 4

I really liked what the striped fabric did for this block, so I decided to utilize it in the second block.

lynne 2I love the simplicity.  However, the male half of my house thought this was too bland and stark, and decided I should add a flower.  He helped himself to my design wall.

lynne 3Mark this as a first – a guy actually caring about something matching.

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Disaster averted, Urban Nine Patch finished

Thanks for all the helpful suggestions about how to deal with that pesky brown stain.  I tried a few of them and the stain faded quite a bit.  I was willing to remake that block, but I didn’t have enough fabric, so I showed it to Cheran (LQS owner who commissioned the quilt) and she thought it looked fine, so I just assembled the quilt.

Ta da!

finishedWhen Cheran first asked me to make it, I was not looking forward to dealing with those curves.  However, it was a huge compliment that she DID ask me to make it, because that means she thinks I’m a good piecer!  Yay, ego boost!  But honestly, it was easier than I thought it was going to be.  I worked out a way of sewing the curves that didn’t include pins, glue, stopping and adjusting every 4th stitch….  it went pretty fast.

cheranThe hardest part was mentally adjusting the colors, because Cheran requested a different color arrangement than what was written in the pattern.

I like how the gray softens the bright colors a bit, gives a nice contrast.

If you like the quilt, you can contact Cheran at her shop for a kit and ruler!

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Another disaster!

The first disaster occurred last week.  I’m working on a wedding quilt, and I realized I’m fifteen inches short of the main fabric.  So, as I wait for the results of several inquiries and internet searches to show up on my doorstep, I decided to start a new project:

urban 9 patch progress

A shop sample for my LQS, as requested by the owner, Cheran.

I’m happily buzzing along on these blocks, and I’m about halfway done, and I’m congratulating myself because it’s turning out to be a bit easier and quicker to make than I had originally thought, what with them pesky curves and all.

But congratulating myself tempted Fate just a little too much, and she decided to have some fun with me by handing me another disaster to deal with.

My iron belched.

oh crap 1Dad GUMMIT!

I went to the sink and ran water over it, hoping it would simply rinse out.  Then I dabbed a little Dawn dish soap on and brushed gently with a toothbrush.  I sprayed some stain remover that, until now, has never let me down.  It’s even removed blood!  Nope. The stain – whatever it is – faded, but it’s still there.

oh crap 3Ugh.

So, does anyone have any idea what this stain could be, and how to get it out?

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A Very Sweet Memorial Quilt

I recently completed a memorial quilt for my new niece, who is due in July.

Baby-quiltNo, it’s not quite finished. The binding is now on, and I’m taking it on vacation to finish. I want my BIL’s three sisters to have a chance to contribute to the quilt, too, by helping to sew the binding. That way a little piece of the family is sewn with love into the quilt.

I wasn’t sure how I would be able to make an entire memorial quilt with only five golf shirts (Mick was a fervent golfer!), and remembered the Candy Hearts pattern that Amber Johnson of A Little Bit Biased graciously contributed to the Moda Bakeshop. What a WONDERFUL pattern! So simple and quick. I was able to cut all of the hearts from only the sleeves of each shirt, and hope to surprise my SIL with a quilt of her own with the remaining shirt sections.

Due to the fact that we are moving, I didn’t have the time to do any custom quilting :( , so I had to resort to simple SID and free-motion for the body of the quilt, and straight-line quilting in the borders.

Quilting3I also took the time to sew right along the top and bottom edges of the ric-rac, as I didn’t want it to fold over onto itself after washing (I hate when that happens!). I then used my foot as a guide along the outside edge of the ric-rac to echo quilt.

ric-rac1I made this label in Word, then printed it out on a Printed Treasures iron-on sheet.

Sophias-labelThe last label I will ever make from Michigan – the rest will say Ohio! YAY! It will be a special quilt for a special little girl who had a very special grandpa.

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