Karen writes about life as a Quiltmaker in Austin, Texas; surviving in an empty nest, marriage, cooking, gardening and (did I say?) Quilting...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Keep on Working...

Just a minute to post the now finished top for the "auction" quilt... I think it turned out quite nice.

All sparkly in various Hoffman Fairy Frost and other prints from the stash. The theme of the event it "A Night to Shine" and it's done in school colors (blue and grey). I added the bits of turquoise to spice it up a bit. Now... how to quilt it? I'm thinking about "McTavishing" it... but then again, some more traditional feathers round the border? We'll see.

I REALLY enjoyed the pieced border technique, the pattern is by Sally Schneider (http://www.sallyschneider.com/). Called Laurel Wreath. She has one done in jewel tones, with the "beads" around the border all done in different colors. The entire quilt is actually just made of 12 in. blocks, all pieced on the diagonal. The colors make the pieced border look like something really difficult to manage. If you look closely, you'll see the diagonal seams in the border. After it's quilted, they will be even less apparent... making the quilter look like a real genius! My favorite kind of quilt pattern. One that looks fancy, but has an "easy" secret!

Imagine how wonderful it would look done up in Christmas Colors. Sally was at our guild last month, but I was unable to make it to her workshop, but I'm glad I bought the pattern and one of her books, and was able to put it to such good use so quickly... Here's a close up.

I cut the backing last night. My piece was too short to cut in half, so I did a diagonal back...

If your backing piece is at least 1-1/2 times longer than the top, you simply cut it in half diagonally. Then slide the pieces off set until you have a piece wide enough for the quilt width! Sew them together on the diagonal seam and voila! you have a back with a piece of fabric only 1-1/2 times the length of your top! And the nice thing about a diagonal seam is it's easier to quilt over, and doesn't show through as easily as a single center seam. It's really nice for hand quilting. I picked up this idea from John Flynn's website... http://www.flynnquilt.com/ It's under the free lesson menu. There's actually a mathematical forumula for the brave at heart (or of mind?) to help in calculating the needed length of fabric to make a diagonal seamed back. It is very cost efficient, as you don't end up with a big hunk of fabric, just two small triangle scraps (and who can't use scraps!).

Now, I have to spend the day pin basting (ugh), but, while I baste, I can think about how I want to quilt it....!
The quilt (a lap quilt size 54" x 70") will be auctioned off at the Trinity Episcopal School fund raiser April 5th in Westlake Hills in Austin!

FYI... the backing is an older blue sparkly Christmas fabric. Kind of a toile design, blue with grey scenes of angels... it's not obviously a Christmas theme - but definitely religious... will work wonderully for this donation quilt made for an Episcopal school don't you think!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Blue and Grey

What have I gotten myself into?

Dear Husband has been working at a local private school for several months, and recently commented that the school's big fund raising event is coming up in April. He slyly mentioned that there would be a silent auction, and, that it would be awfully nice if he had something to donate for the auction.


Of course, he could donate one of his hand made knives, but a quilt done in school colors might go over better right?

More Silence.

I finally have to reply - you know I'm trying to finish up mom's big quilt - right? And I've volunteered to take on the publicity for the guild's quilt show (an unbelievably large task)... right?

Even More Silence.

But how can I refuse... of course I'll just whip something together. So inspired by this month's guild speaker, Sally Schneider, I decide to use the pattern that I bought at the meeting to make a fast, quilt.

The event's theme is "A Night to Shine" so, stars it is. And I'm using a pattern that includes a pieced border... that is incorporated into the block piecing. When finished, it will look incredibly complex, when in fact, it is just diagonally set blocks, with a build in border...

Here's a picture of the work in progress:
Two strips are done, and are being pinned together for sewing...

It did go together fairly quickly - probably have about 12 hours total into it... I'll give you an update next week... due date: April 1!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Quilter's Work is Never Done....

Way past time to post my Charity Quilt turned in at the February guild meeting. With all the mess going on last month, I made it the easy way, with one of the little "kits" our guild "Baby Bundle" committee make available. The kits are made using Anita Grossman Solomon's fabulously simple "Super-Sized Nine Patch" pattern. yep, 9 pieces, easily cut from strips across the width of a yard of fabric, or from fat quarters... sooooo easy. A great way to put together a quilt in an afternoon. If you do a "pillow turn" rather than a binding, and tie rather than machine quilt it's even easier. Though I feel like I can free motion something like this as fast as my fumble fingers can tie it!

These little quilts, under 42" square, are a great way to practice your free motion quilting too!

I decided to quilt some "cloud-like" puffs... and a few balloons in the corners to go along with the pattern in the fabric.
This simple pattern can be found for download online in the free patterns at the Quiltmaker magazine site:
By the way, this site has a fabulous collection of various simple patterns for charity quilts - all easily downloadable. Many are soooo simple! You have no excuses not to make that pattern for your guild's charity effort this month!

Thanks to Anita for sharing this pattern with the guild!

Friday, February 01, 2008

(Quilting) Life Goes On...

After a couple of weeks of trauma, I hope to get back to writing about some of the nicer things that happened over the month of January... and what's up for February... Thanks to those you who send condolences over out loss of our old kitty friend. One of these days soon, I'm sure we'll have room again for another...

Before all the grimness of the end of the month, I actually had some pleasant quilting experiences that I feel I need to share. As a Christmas gift to myself, I signed up for two quilting workshops last fall, they happened early in the month, unfortunately, with all the other goings on, I didn't really get a chance to report.
The first was a two day workshop with that "Dear Jane" lady, Brenda Papadakis, who incidentally, has recently moved to Texas - we told her it was OK that she got here as soon as she could! The workshop was courtesy of the Chisholm Trial Guild, with a membership in the areas of Georgetown and Round Rock - just north of Austin. With an invitation to Austin guild members to attend the workshops, how could I forgo such a wonderful opportunity.
If you aren't familiar with Brenda or the Dear Jane phenomenon, its all about a fabulous sampler quilt, made up of 4-1/2 inch blocks, by a lady named Jane Stickle, "in war time 1863". While we don't know a lot about the quilter, her work is incredible, with over 250 small blocks, each almost an entirely unique design... Brenda published a book on the quilt, and it has garnished a following of quilters around the world, who make quilts as copies, or in honor of this quilt. The quilts made in the spirit of this quilt are often referred to as "Baby Janes". The quilt, all hand made of course, includes pieced and appliqued work, and every block presents a different challenge to the quilter.

Many of the attendees were "followers" and brought their existing works in progress and finished. Just looking at those was a great experience and very inspiring.

We spent one day doing hand work, and the second working by machine. I decided, in the spirit of Jane to modify the 5-star block known as "Papa's Star" into the form of a "Texas Star", in honor of Brenda. The workshop was great fun, and very informative, though Brenda expressed a great deal of weariness at all the moving mess. expressing that her sewing room was still mostly packed! I hope Brenda get's settled in, and is able to unpack her sewing room and enjoy living in the Great State, an I hope we see her in the Austin area again soon.
Above is my work from the class...THREE blocks!

And, I also was able to attend the Austin Guild workshop with Denise Lipscomb... I think I mentioned this earlier. I've finished 3 rows towards this quilt - which will need 12... not sure yet who will end up with this one... perhaps another neice?! The braid is very simple to do... but doesn't it look complex? It's so simple, that it gets a bit too repetitive. It's going to be a project that I can pull out anytime I just want to sew, without complications! Denise was a very easy-going teacher, no stress, just simple easy instructions, very helpful.
And finally....

SHHHH! Don't tell mom - but the 50th Anniversary Quilt is getting a Binding. Fairy Frost Gold in the thinnest of bindings - 1/4". Those scallops are a bear... but one side is finished!

ALMOST there!