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Friday, April 22, 2011

Pre-Cuts and Scraps.....What to do?

If you are like most folks, then you are cutting back and working on de-stashing and using up scraps to make some fun things for Spring......and other celebrations of life (birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, new babies etc.)  What ever the occasion is for you and your family, I think you may just find some inspiration in the two new books I have reviewed for Martingale & Co. 

Since I get to select the books I want to review, it is almost a sure bet that I'm going to like them or there is there is something about the book that grabbed my attention....either the author or the subject....there is always a thread I'm wanting to tug to see what unravels.

by Claudia Plett and Le Ann Weaver
How many charm square packages or layer cakes do you have in your stash right now?  Fat Quarters and Fat Quarter Bundles?  I have to admit that I have 2 Layer Cakes and 4-6 Charm Square packages.....and probably 6 Fat Quarter Bundles if not more.  Why do I have them?  The only one's I know why I bought were a few of the Charm Square packages I bought for a I-Spy block exchange.  After I bought them I felt bad because they were pre-cut and I kept them instead of including them in the swap (felt like I was cheating by not cutting my own).   The rest....I don't remember....but I really liked the fabric.  I want these fabrics to be used so I don't end up with "moldy oldies!"  Hence my interest in More Loose Change, 14 Quilts from Nickles, Dimes, and Fat Quarters.

Claudia and LeAnn have put together a very fun book.  They have coded their patterns $, $$, and $$$ (Simple, Intermediate and Experienced) for skill level.  I just so happen to fall into every one of those categories....depending on what day it is.  The introductions talks a little about charm squares (nickles), layer cakes (dimes) and quarters (fat quarters) as well as color arrangement.  I think the book is well written....plenty of photos and diagrams and the wording was clear (you know that is really something when I say that....cuz I have the hardest time understanding sometimes).

Honestly there is not a pattern in this book that I would not consider making but the two that I would consider making first are: 

"Liquid Assets" appealed to me because of focus fabric inside the circles.  Here they have chosen fish fabric and the circles look like port holes.  I could just as easily see any other fun print inside the circles and the outside fabrics complimenting what ever your theme would be.  The other thing that really surprised me was the way they put their pattern together.  I think this looks like a rather difficult pattern and guess what?  I'd not.  I'm not going to give their secrets away....let me just say they show you how to maximize the use of your fabrics while showing you how to get the fun results below.
The other pattern that I want to show you is their "Pumpernickel."  As I'm writing this I can't remember how many photos I'm allowed to use from the book....clearly if you were writing books you would not want the world to post all of the patterns on the if I've gone too far....I might have to come back and delete a photo or two....I'm always flying by the seat of my pants....and of thin memory.

Here they have used black as a background and I like that.  I see lots of colorful quilts set on black or white to enhance the other fabrics used.  Think about how many fabrics you could use up if you made this quilt....and who would not love to be the recipient of a "Pumpernickel" quilt?  I get to stitchin' : )

by Gayle Bong

The scrap table at my guild meeting is always full of free fabric.  Does your group or guild have a free table at their meetings?  If not, you might want to consider starting one.  I am always marveling at the free fabrics that return to the guild meeting for show and tell after they have been transformed into beautiful quilts.  S is for SCRAPS, 18 Great Quilts made me think of all of those transformed beauties so I had to see what Gayle had to say about scraps. 

When I read a quilting book, the first thing I notice is how the person writes.  When I am reading I want to feel like I can almost hear the person speaking to me....more of a conversation than a recipe is my preference.  Gayle has done just that.  Her writing style is personal and informative.  She has provided lots of tips for organizing your scraps and a variety of ways to consider grouping your fabrics for a project. 

"Joy in the Morning" is an example of what I would consider to be a "easy" project that would make a lovely quilt for almost any occasion...including charity quilts.  I can't share how Gayle recommends putting this pretty pattern together but I can tell you that it goes together very nicely and Gayle has given you plenty of good directions and diagrams.  There are 17 other patterns that work very well for using up scraps.  I'm feeling guilty for all the photos I've already shared so I'm not going to continue on and on.  Suffice to say I definitely think  S is for Scraps would be a great addition to every-one's quilt reference library. 

While reading both of these books, More Loose Change and S is for Scraps, I was thinking about my own stash and the tools I find to be so useful when quilting.  Starting with pre-cuts can really cut down on prep time before stitching.  If you don't have pre-cuts you can certainly make your own.  I thought I'd post a few ways to make your own pre-cuts faster if you have the fabric but not the pre-cuts. I also included two tools I love for bindings.

Under 20.00
Creative Grids Template Set On Point Charming 5 Square
Creative Grids Quilting Ruler 5 1/2in Square
Cut a Round Tool Midi
Perfect Half-Square & Quarter-Square Triangles

Under 40.00
Shape Cut Plus Template

Over 50.00

Sizzix Big Shot (dies required)
Sizzix Big Shot Pro (dies required)
GO! Baby (dies required)
GO! Fabric Cutter (dies required)

Electric- Great for those with arthritis or any other concerns that make manual cutting difficult

Sizzix Big Shot Express (dies required)
Sizzix Vagabond (dies required)

BINDING-  under 20.00

When it comes to binding....these are some IHAN favorites

CutRite Bind Up Template 
 Simpli-EZ Bias Ruler

Hopefully these are tools you already know about from reading the IHAN blog.  If not, check them out by clicking on the words as they are linked.  You can also read more about them by reading the reviews of these products on the sidebar of this blog....see....right over there on the right hand side of the blog...yes...right there :)

If you are still with me and you want an opportunity to put your name into a drawing for More Loose Change  and S is for Scraps (one book per winner-two winners will be chosen) then leave a comment on this post telling me which one you would like to win and why you want the book.  Two names will be drawn at random on Saturday April 30, 2010.  Good luck!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Heartbreak & Joy....Sometimes Happen Together

Have you ever experienced deep sadness that catches you off guard and then simultaneous joy? 

This morning I stood at Aaron's bedside as I do most every morning to encourage him to get ready for school.

(I learned from my husband that my way of getting the kids up is completely dysfunctional.  He sings funny and sweet songs to them....many days they wake up to Zippity Doo Dah or What'd That Baby Do (that one is to the tune of my cell phone morning alarm)....Rick sure knows the sweeter and kinder way to wake a sleeping child who does not want to get out of their warm bed to get dressed for school.  "It is 7:40, now get up" just isn't near as effective as Rick's I too have changed my morning greetings.)

Daddy had already been singing when I entered Aaron's room.  After tickling his back, I told Aaron that he has three days off school coming and on Sunday the Easter Bunny would be visiting.  Earlier in the week Aaron announced that he believes the Easter Bunny is a fable.  So this morning while spending a few quiet and treasured moments sitting on his bedside, I told him it was ok to believe the Easter Bunny is a fable....but that I'd like him to keep that to himself and not share it with Zach.  Aaron smiled and agreed.

The very next second....and even while typing this now....all I could do was cry.  My sweet precious first natural born growing up....right before my eyes and it won't be long that Zach too  will announce that the Easter Bunny is a fable.....My babies aren't babies any more.

Why sadness?  I don't really know....perhaps because I can remember the first moment of each of their lives and almost all of those moments afterwards up to this very day and this morning I saw my "baby" laying in his bed....nearly taking up the entire twin to bottom....with his long legs still snuggling with his Tiggy.....the stuffie he has had since he was a baby.....8 1/2 years later.....Aaron still loves his Tiggy and I love that he loves Tiggy and still sleeps with him every night.  My not a baby any more.....and call me hormonal....silly....or just a Mom who dearly loves this journey as a Mother and is turning a corner.....what a wonderful gift it is being their Mom....the Joy is overwhelming and the Joy also brings tears.....a Easter transformation....interesting isn't it?

It was not that long ago that I was dreaming of being a Mother.  I remember thinking I'd never lie to my children....never tell them Santa was real or that the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy were coming....and then it just happened....I never really told them they were not real....I just didn't say anything.  When Aaron asked who Santa is....I told him, "Santa is a friend of God" and I left it at that.  I say the same thing about the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and any other childhood magic that comes along.....they are all just friends of God here to love you and bring you some joy and a little fun.

I asked Zach what he want he thought the Easter Bunny would bring him, in a quiet moment we shared before he left for school this morning.  Zach said, "Chocolate."  Then he followed with...."I hope he brings Pokemon cards too."  This is most likely the beginning of a new chapter of our lives as a family.

Why am I sharing all of this with may be wondering......I guess because I am moved to share those times when I  feel so deeply I'm touching the strings that bind humanity....when I feel most connected to other Mothers and those who have nurtured is sort of like The Resurrection?   New life.....a re-life....a coming back to life.....or coming back to the life within another?  Perhaps a stirring of new growth...Spring....maybe the dawn of a new awareness.....I'm not a religious person....I call myself a person of deep faith without a religion.....this morning I am taken aback by the commonality of these events coinciding.  I blog/write to share common interests, experiences, and connect with share why not include this one too, right?

This Easter I will marvel ....this process....the joys of being with the family I love so very much.....and I will believe that this is universal....and that the power of Love and Joy is what will bind all of us together.....the stitches of our lives....with a unique quilted patchwork of faces and experiences....May you have a wonderful weekend and if it includes Chocolate....enjoy every second of it :)

"Babies who are no longer Babies"

PS...I hope this all makes some sense....I'm not going to edit and re-edit....the essence is what is important to me to if something doesn't seem to flow or make sense....just fill in the blanks and pretend it all makes sense....that's what I do ...then I giggle :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Personal Connections in Cincinnati

I've written about some cool finds....but the best by far were some of the people I met while in Cincinnati.  I stayed with Lois Grabowski...below on the right.  She was an absolute delight and she even cleaned her house and her sewing room before I arrived.  Talk about an excellent host....she already knows I can't offer the same in return.

We were invited to Jill's house for dinner on Friday night.  Jill, from Jill Quilts Blog, had invited several other quilters to stay at her home for the Festival.  By the end of the evening the house was full of wonderful women all sharing about the good times, purchases and one even shared her baby son with was definitely a highlight of my trip. 

Jill made a great dinner for us....and speaking for myself....I probably had too was so good. 

 Regina on the left is from Up State NY and the sister of Susan, from South Carolina, below.  Lois is on the right in the photo above.  These gals are all friends because of the internet....I think that is so cool.

 Susan took her turn with holding baby Charlie.....gotta love those baby sweet and precious.
 Carolyn, above, and Marj, below, are also from South Carolina.  The three gals belong to the same Guild, The Busy Bees.
Given I used to live in Irmo, South Carolina, we had some fun things to talk about.  These gals had brought all of us a gift....I was floored.  Check out these fun bags we got to choose from (below).
 Look at all this fun stuff and it was all made by these gals.  The fun drawstring bag came with a note pad, bottom right, a rotary cutter carrier, back center, and a stack of charm squares.  The charm squares were put together with a Palmetto Tree pin....the South Carolina State Tree.  The charm squares consisted of 6 different fabrics:
Palmetto trees - State Tree
Yellow Jessamine - State Flower
(Boiled) Peanuts - State Snack
Peaches, SC grows more than Georgia,The Peach State
Clemson University fabric and the
University of South Carolina fabric

I just loved this photo of Susan smiling....I remember people smiling so much more when I lived in South Carolina....maybe it is just my memory...but it sure seemed to be the case.
Regina was doing some show and tell....that was lots of fun.....later more ladies came and some were bloggers too.  The gals from South Carolina told us they have a tradition in their guild.  When they travel they bring back everyone a 6 inch charm square that represents their trip.  I loved this idea....perhaps not the entire guild....but how about a few friends?  One lady forgot her underware on a trip so she brought back everyone a square of fabric with panties on it....another got lost so her's had road signs on it....and the list went on and on.  What a great tradition for a meaningful girlfriend quilt.
I honestly don't recall seeing a stash of a quilter....not a designer...but a quilter with such a fun collection of fabrics as Jill has.  The quilt below is just one that she is in the process of finishing.  Each one of her dogs has their own that is what I call impressive!!  LOL
 There was some talk of Lois and I ending up behind bars during the trip.  Believe it or not....we did end up behind bars....the bars of the gate leading up to Lois's grand estate (ok...I'm embellishing a little bit). 

 Someone had locked the gate one night so we were actually stuck behind the it is true....but it was a gate :)
 Lois says she is a beginning quilter.  She may be new....but she is no beginner....let me tell ya!  Check out what she did with "just a few squares from the scrap bin."  This is her dining room table folks.  I loved it....almost as much as I enjoyed that she also has a devil may care attitude.  I don't mind photos of me straight out of bed on my blog....neither does that is a woman ya just gotta love!
She is holding the bed scarf she made for her should hear how casual she is about her quilting....this is just practice.....meanwhile I'm thinking...."Girl if this is just practice.....I'm never showing you my work....nope....not gonna happin."
 This is just practice quilting.....I'm still chuckling about that one.....and of course I had to meet the famous Haywood Janome.  He has tattoos....I loved it!!!
Remember those silk embellishments I bought from Artistic Artifacts?  Lois bought some too....we weren't sure what exactly to do with them....she had her's draped around her neck like a scarf.  It did not take too much convincing to get her to wrap it around her head like a turban.....oh the soul needed it too.
Before I close...I had to show everyone the way Lois keeps the wind from coming through the door.  We have wind all winter long coming through our front door (6,000 dollars to replace, no thank you very much).  Kindred do you stop the wind?  With a Grabowski Wind Wienie that's how!
You sew the vinyl into the edge of the wind Wienie and put heavy Velcro on the door and on the Wind Wienie as pictured below.
Stick it there and close the door.  Not only is it fashionable....but it really works too.  My kind of solution :)

I was sad to leave the same time I was excited to get home to my family.  All I could imagine when I saw this group of female motorcyclists is that they too were quilters.  I bet they have quilt block tattoos on their bodies someplace.  How about we start a quilting biker babes guild?  I don't want to be the president....but I'll surely be a member.  I'd be willing to learn to ride a with three wheels!

I imagined this to be me....wrong color hair though.

Before I close I have to share a story one of the gals at my guild shared.  Two large groups took a bus to Cincinnati for the Festival.  On the way home one of the bus drivers said they just had to take the gals to a excellent ice cream parlor.  It was in a college town.  Many ladies got off the bus to go in and get some ice cream.  One of them overheard some college students walking by.  The one kid says to the other, "I wonder what this big bus is doing here?"  The other one replies, "I think they brought the people  from the old folks home to town for ice cream."  We all laughed so hard when she re-told this story.....Laughter is so good for the soul isn't it?

Back at the ranch the co-workers were very happy to see their mommy....first thing they said when I got out of the van was..."it's mommy.....yeah."...hugs and then "what did you bring us?"


Sunday, April 17, 2011

More Highlights and Purchases from Cincinnati International Quilt Festival 2011

Wendy Richardson, Artist/Owner

Wendy's booth really slowed me down.  I had not seen such interesting dyed fabrics and I wanted to see this piece below close up.  This photo does nothing for the actual piece....I promise you that.

Isn't it absolutely beautiful?  I loved studying it and was so greatful that Wendy said I could take a few photos to share with all of you....THANK YOU Wendy!!

Here is Wendy holding up my purchase.....
I don't have a project in mind yet but I know they were so unique that I could not pass them up....nor could I pass up the opportunity to support a fine artist.
 See the can see it but you can't really feel it....interesting ay?

Now on to the next booth that I could not resist:

Jamie Malden, Owner

Check out these wood carved stamps....yes...I said they are carved into wood.  Look what she does with them....
Stamps on fabric and the funny part is that she would cover up fabrics that she thought were ugly with some paint and then stamped on them.....makes you want to save all that not so pretty fabric doesn't it?
This was the banner behind Jamie's booth.  Hmmm...wonder what country she is from....NOT! : )  Below are some other samples she was stamping during the show.  The paint dried very fast so she was able to keep stamping over the images.  I was told you can use any fabric paint (fabric ink can be turned into paint by mixing it with 100% Pure Aloe Vera) do need to heat set it as well.

I purchased this starter kit and two additional larger stamps (bottom left of photo).  Can you blame me?

I didn't get photos of the Fern Hill Booth....but here is my purchase.

I could not resist this panel from Fern Hill .  The panel is Daydreams  by Stephanie Brandenburg.  It came with all 4 flowers and I bought three coordinating pieces too.   I have not seen any fabric this bold and beautiful on this scale I was very excited :)

Judy Gula
This "oh so tempting booth" was done by Judy Gula and her friend Liz Kettle.    This is a great photo of Lois Grabowski with Liz Kettle....Liz is one of her idols. 
Liz has co-authored two books, Threads, The basics & beyond, and Fabric Embellishing, The basics & Beyond.  I have blogged about Liz before and I have told folks how talented she is and how great excellent both books are.  So you know I cracked up when I saw Lois' blog post about  Threads. She was so excited and went on and on about how good it is.  I must say I did take the pleasure of e-mailing her and saying...."I told ya so!"  I could not help it....besides...we are friends so she could take the ribbing.
These were my purchases from Artistic Artifacts....some Aboriginal fabric and some fun silk wisps or what ever you call them for embellishing and textile arts.  

I have some splanin' to do about this here little packet.  Remember when I said I'll never do another challenge again?  Well all I have to say is "Never Say Never" as long as you live....cuz I'm doing an Art Quilt Challenge sponsored by Artistic Artifacts and Moonlighting Quilts.  I told Lois if she would do it then I would do it.  We signed the little agreement and took our packets.  "What does Power Suit Mean to you?" is the theme.  

Now all of this would be managable....EXCEPT for one small detail......the next day we go back to Judy's booth and who is standing there accepting a challenge packet?  Take one guess?  It was none other than Pokey Bolton the editor of Quilting Arts Magazine (the only magazine I subscribe the way).  Tell me I'm not feeling sick. I hope their are categories of the idiot....that one would be for me :)

I really had a great time with Lois and I got the opportunity to meet so many other quilters and bloggers....more on that soon.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

WonderFil Thread Winner Announced

The winner of the WonderFil Thread Samples is lucky number 25:

Congratulations Ladybug.  Please e-mail me your full name and address and I'll ship your samples to you.

For those of you who would like to give WonderFil Thread a try please check out the large selection carried now by IHAN.  If you buy it and don't like can send it back within a week of receiving it for a full refund :)  So you have nothing to loose.  Don't wait...order now :)


Friday, April 15, 2011

Guess What? (No I'm not Pregnant!!!)

You no longer have to type the dash between the A and Notion to get to I Have A Notion.  You can type in, .net, .org etc....and you will still arrive at IHAN.  Not much savings you say?  To me it was worth a million bucks (tax free).

Why am I sharing this with might wonder?  Because I know many folks share their great resource for Quilting Notions and Needle Art Supplies with their nearest and you don't have to explain the dash.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Quilts That Caught My Eye in Cincinnati

Susan Shie's work was what I saw just as I entered the conference center floor.

 This was a shot of the Applique Quilts that were on exhibit....I was quickly approached and told not to take any more photos of them....but this give you a little peak.

 BEST OF SHOW....truly an amazing piece of work/art.

 This is Deborah Kemball and she spent quite a bit of time in front of her quilt answering questions and sharing wisdom about her process.

When asked if she had planned all the flowers in advance Deborah said no she had not.  The vines were laid first and then she added flowers as she felt the needed to be placed.  I found it quite interesting that she said she had most all of the flowers on and it was dull....the quilt lacked something.  Then she added the purple flowers (you'll see them splashed about the quilt if you look) that one color brought the entire piece together.  Isn't that amazing? 

 Can you believe she said she is self taught? I think starting out without knowing the "rules" really allows creative people to trust their creativity and can bring about some amazing work.
 The rest of these photos were taken as I walked through the show.

The front is all done by hand including the quilting....and check out the back...

it was painted...isn't it beautiful?

Many of the close ups were taken so I could look at the details of how the stitches added to the overall quilt.  I'm always learning new things and these were the quilts that caught my eye....I hope you enjoyed walking with me :)


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