Paducah – a little on the late side.

I will confess that this summer has completely gotten away from me (yes, already because I’m including spring).  No excuses, just some things that kicked up a notch.  One of the other Monkey’s and I have a long-arm/quilting business and we are making a move to create a website and to start publishing our own patterns.  To that end, we have to actually make (and quilt) those patterns.  This takes quite a bit of time and while I’m not complaining about that, I am amazed that this wonderful thing happened where my creativity cranked up a notch.   Well, not really a notch, more like a bazillion notches.  However, this isn’t a blog for that business – I just felt that I owed you an explanation for my absence.  By saying that, I would also be remiss if I didn’t also mention that another Monkey also recently started up her own long-arm business.  We are a varied group aren’t we?  We like to grow and learn and we are a bunch of goers and doers.

We made plans a while ago to go to Paducah.  We made it there and it was incredible.  There were lots of lovely shops, and the show, and the museum, and and and….and there was too much to put it all into one post.  I won’t bore you with a series of posts on Paducah either.  I will just hit the high points.

Traveling with friends.  This can either go really really well or really really poorly.  We figured that as we had all managed to do our extended retreat times together that this should not be an issue and it wasn’t.  We talked a lot in advance about meals and plans and since we are all reasonable adults, we kinda all went our own way during the days to see the things that were important to us and sometimes others of us would tag along.  I would highly recommend that if you are planning a trip with friends like that in the future, that you don’t feel like you have to spend every waking moment doing the exact same things.  Sure, you are all going to the same place and have similar interests, but you are all individuals with different needs and sometimes a quiet walk or a little more time at an exhibit can give you a little quiet time.

The Show.  The show was wonderful.  So much to see that when/if we go next time I would prefer to take more than one day there.  We did make sure to hit the vendors (and rumor had it that some vendors were selling out of things on the first day!) and I’m glad we did that, but I felt like I had to rush through the quilts being shown (that is on me not on any of my traveling companions).  Plus it was very overwhelming to see all the things and people that my head was on a swivel and it was hard to focus.  Now that I know more of what to expect it will be not as big an assault on my senses.

Shopping.  Holy cow there were a ton of places to shop.  I have some mental notes of places I really enjoyed and places I didn’t get to go, but that just gives me a better sense of what to do next time.

The little things.  Oh, the ever so important little things.  Like sampling moonshine at 10:30 in the am with your Tribe.  Yeah, we did that.  Yeah, it was worth it.  No, we didn’t get drunk.  We met and talked with some wonderful vendors and quilters and townspeople who helped us to get around.  We visited with people in shops and on trolleys and helped complete strangers pick out fabric.  We had our pictures taken because of our matching shirts (We are the ones your guild warned you about!) and posted online.  We sat in the evenings and shared purchases and techniques and wine.  We enjoyed the breeze from the lake and each other’s company.  We brought home souvenirs and fudge and memories.  I would trade it for nothing in this world.

Advice.  Sometimes you have to go and do something to really understand what others are talking about.  If you go for the first time, keep your expectations low and your mind open.  Also, make plans to go a second time to put all of your new-found knowledge to good use.

 

 

 

Because I have to share.

I may have mentioned that we went to Paducah.  I may have mentioned that I came home with a new project.  I’m sure you aren’t surprised.  How could I not after going to Paducah?  Well, I still have to figure out exactly what I am going to do.

Once upon a time friends and I would go to another large quilt show – IQA.  We had a wonderful time and we came to find that there were certain vendors that we could count on seeing every year. For me there was a vendor with fabrics from Japan and another was a vendor with fabrics from Africa.  Some things changed and we no longer go to the show and sometimes I miss that.

However, I did find a vendor that had some similar things that I had enjoyed at IQA (thanks to Wanda who found it first and showed what she had gotten at our nightly show and share).  Once I saw her booth, I got a bright idea…

My smallest person LOVES giraffes. He has 4 that he sleeps with and they are named after each member of our family.  Plus he has a giraffe dream lite (think of a night-light stuffed animal pillow if you aren’t familiar with them).  When I saw she had giraffe panels I knew I would be taking one home.  The trouble was finding just the right one.  I thought it would be super cool if we could find one that had a mommy and a baby.  Well, I didn’t quite find that, but I did find this and it works as a mommy and a baby.  Isn’t it cool?

As I sat pondering what to do with this lovely panel, Inez reminded me that I had some African prints that should go nicely with the panel.  It took me a little while to find all of them because for some silly reason I integrated them into my stash and I had to go hunting for them.  Here they are!  img_2563

I even found a couple more that might work as well, but I think they are more Aboriginal….

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I will probably need some sort of solid or tone on tone to help with all of these wild prints, but first I’ll have to come up with some sort of idea….

Wish me luck!

Yea for UFO’s!

I really am feeling like I am getting out of this funk (finally) and I was able to get some more UFO’s completed.

Remember the Flower Of the Month series?  I was able to get TWO of them done!  And these kits were also cut generously enough that I could get the small quilt and a block out of them.  This one is August and the flower was gladioli.  I will say that I am not a fan of this one.  Some of the fabric is pretty but it is incredibly busy and hard on my eyes.  The trickiest part was the border and trying to decide if the rows of flowers should be treated as a directional fabric.  The pattern showed that all 4 should look like the two sides. I opted not to do that and I’m not totally convinced I made the correct choice, but it is complete and so it shall stand.

This one is from February and utilizes violets.  While violets are not my favorite, my mother-in-law loves them so this may find itself quilted and gifted to her for Christmas.  I think it’s the tea-cup fabric that distracts me…I’m not sure….also, there was not enough of the original background so I had to go through my stash to complete the second square.

I don’t remember if I mentioned, but at the time that these all came out there was also a companion panel.  Somehow in my overactive crafting imagination I thought that it would be a great idea to get the panel and use the second block to border around the panel for a quilt.  I am now starting to realize that these blocks are all going to be different sizes so it will be a bit of a puzzle putting them together around said panel.  I’m still game though.  At least for right now.  Of course with the latest coloring craze, I just might have to get out some fabric markers and color them but I will put that on the back burner until I can see how the blocks and the panel are going to work together.

I hope you are still making some projects on your UFO’s.  I’ve fallen off the wagon for a bit.  I don’t have air conditioning in my sewing room and that kinda discourages me from sewing during the hotter months of the year.  I’m working on it, but for now it causes me delays in sewing.  That and I got sloppy so I need to go put some things away to get back to my nice clean work surface.

Well, not exactly…

That sounds kind of ominous doesn’t it?  It’s not really.  This week I was hoping to get off to a really good start and I almost made it.  I had big plans for New Year’s Day to get some work done in my craft room and I did spend some time in there, it just wasn’t exactly crafting.  I was able to move some things around and discovered that I have another set of drawers that are almost empty and with a little more work could come out of my room.  After all, that is the goal or at least part of it.  The more UFO’s I complete not only will I feel free, I will also free up some space in my craft area.  A good portion of my storage is housing my individual UFO’s.  I probably should count them so you can see how deep in I am.  It’s pretty bad… There always something new that catches my attention and I need to just get in there and get things finished.

We always say, “I’ll get to it when the kids are older/when I retire/when I find the magic formula”.  Mine has been when the kids get older.  The smallest in now in preschool and I’m trying to take advantage of the time that he is actually in school to be in my room.  I have to say that I really am enjoying that and I want to take advantage of that as much as possible.

Anyway, I have two sets of these rainbow drawers.  You may have seen them.  They look like this:

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I have 2, one I had gotten from Joann’s on a Black Friday sale.  The problem was that I had though the drawers were big enough for 12×12 paper for my small scrapbooking habit only they were not big enough for that.  So, of course, I then had to get another one where the drawers were 12×12.

Remember when I got my awesome Ikea closet system?  All my papers and scrapbook stuff moved onto a shelf and I was able to move one of those drawers out of my room.  Now I’m about to move things around (probably for the millionth time) and I’ll be able to move the second one out of my room!

Now for the bad part – I will have 2 rainbow drawer sets and I don’t know what to do with them.  I’ve been trying to think of ways to repurpose them but I haven’t been able to come up with anything.  The drawers are cool although not very deep, but either the frame isn’t that sturdy or I did something wrong when putting it together.  I’m not sure which.  I’m hoping that I can get them a little sturdier and either sell them or find another way to use them.  Any suggestions?

Tomorrow opens up a great opportunity for me to get back in there and either get some things put away or perhaps to get some binding made for the teal and brown quilt that just needs binding before it can be sent off to its new home.  At least that would be one UFO that would be complete!

 

This is going to take longer than I thought.

Let’s start off with something happy….  I got one of the wedding quilts quilted!  Yahoo!!  Next is to get it trimmed and then bound.  I’m pretty excited but then I remembered that I didn’t make the binding yet…  Ah well, it won’t take too long.   Here it is!

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I’m sure they will love it.  I’m sure you noticed that I didn’t put a lot of quilting into it.  I struggled with how to quilt it.  The thread I had in mind is called Karnak by Superior Threads.  It is a teal and brown variegated cotton thread.  It was perfect.  However, If I did a lot of dense quilting then it would start to affect the design and I didn’t have a teal to just do the background. Instead I took the easy way and did an open all over pattern that wouldn’t take over the blocks or the secondary circles that appear.  It might not be the best choice, but I’m okay with it.

I did get a start on the black and white squares and I thought that the best place to begin would be to fix the two that aren’t quite the right size.

Here we go getting things taken apart so they can go back together again.  This is the part that takes the longest.  Definitely not my favorite part.  I also didn’t go as far as taking apart each individual  smaller square.  Perhaps I should have, but I really wasn’t sure how good my cutting was or what methods I used to assemble the blocks.  So, I went the quick and dirty route to just get it to a similar size.  We aren’t going to want to examine these blocks too closely…..

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As you can see it’s still not even close to perfect.  However, it’s workable and that was really the goal.  (remember perfectionism isn’t my friend…)

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You my notice that there is a little sticker on my ruler. I’m not sure if I have ever mentioned this before, but I have little koi stickers that is on all of my stuff.  I did that on purpose.  The reason?  It makes it easier to find my supplies when I bring them to retreat or classes.  Inez has lady bugs.  Some of the others put their name on them.  I think another of us have stars.  If you can’t see it, here is a closer look.  They are just simple little stickers that I found and thought they were fun but they do make it easy to identify my things in a group sewing setting.

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Now there is just one more to tackle this week along with making binding and finding some brights to border out the blocks.  Perhaps I can even get as far as getting the blocks trimmed and ready for the bordering.  Here’s to hoping!

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Happy Halloween!

Sorry for missing you all last week – I completely forgot to clue you in to the excitement about retreat!  We were all going to retreat!  Now we are all home.  <insert sad face here>  This time I was totally productive and really focused on getting things done.  However, before I get into that we had something truly exciting happen at retreat.

Hang on to your seats – Hattie bought fabric.  I even have the picture to prove it!  Normally when we go shopping Hattie takes her time wandering the store.  You might see her carrying a bolt or two.  Sometimes the bolts are from the sale fabrics.  Then you will see her later during check out and she has no bolts of fabric.  Her restraint has been a great mystery to us all.  However, she has a new grand baby and that baby needs a quilt.  Grandma Hattie to the rescue!

The first is Hattie with Blanche at the counter and you can clearly see that Hattie has cut fabric in her hands!  The second is Hattie alone.  I was trying to secretly take her picture, but as there were about 5 of us standing at the door with our phones out it was a little more difficult to be unobtrusive.

In case you were wondering, Yes, this was the shop that I had written about before.  The one that is closing and where I first learned how to piece quilt blocks.  We were lucky that she opened up for a couple of days while we were on retreat.

We did find a new (to us) quilt shop that I think we will plan on frequenting while on retreat in place of the one closing.  While it wasn’t a huge shop, the service there was quite amazing.  We felt very welcomed while we shopped there and it was a wonderful feeling.

As for me and my focus, well, I had a few things to get finished.  The first of which is one of the wedding quilts.  I’m sure you know the one.

Here it is as I was getting things assembled.  It took me far longer to assemble than I had thought it would. I started on Wednesday afternoon and didn’t finish until late on Thursday.  The small squares are 3″ and the snails trails are 6″ so I’m sure the fact that it is many small blocks is directly related to the length of time for assembly.

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Here it is, top completed complete with an “Around The World” stitch (basting around the edge to keep everything where it is supposed to be until I can get it quilted).  It turned out pretty amazing, I think.  I’m certainly glad to have it assembled, although now I need to removed the paper from the back.  I am not really looking forward to that, but at least it is something that I can do while watching tv.  Yea for completing projects!

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I did take a little time to do 3 pillow cases for the boys and repair a stuffed giraffe and repair a winter coat.  Then I had to get out the next project that I had  been procrastinating finishing.

Here it is – it is a Turning Twenty Pattern that I did as a quilt-as-you-go. I think the hardest part was getting the blocks in the right places.  This is not the finished version – it was just a picture I took as I was letting things gel and before all the switching around began.  It took me the better part of the day to get assembled and I still had to put the binding on it the next morning.  In case you are wondering, the white balls are golf ball fabric and the really busy multicolored fabric are golf tees.  This quilt is finished and is with its new owner and I am excited to have it completed and delivered.

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I’m sure you are wondering what I did next after all of the work I have done so far.  I am happy to report that I wasn’t done yet!

I’m sure you remember that I still have one wedding quilt to do that I haven’t even started yet.  (and now I have 2 to complete!!)  As I began these quilts, there was one that continued to stand out to me called Log Cabin Beads  (I have the pattern in a magazine).  I have finally settled on the colors but I was not so ecstatic about cutting 1 1/4″ strips for the background pieces.  I thought it might be a little easier to add 1/2″ to the background and color strips.  Of course this meant that I needed to do a practice block with notes and measurements for the new sizes I would need to cut.  It took me a  little while to get through it, but I did manage to get through 4 of them done and I think they look pretty good.  Here is what 4 of them look like together.

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I think this will work out just fine and now I need to do some more plotting on how many blocks I need to complete and how many of each color will be needed.  I’m sure that can wait until tomorrow.  Or the day after that…

And in case you thought I was finished after this, I wasn’t!  I still managed to complete two of those tied fleece blankets while we had big tables up and I could lay things out.  I told you I was terribly focused and productive. Could we say that I completed 4  ufos?  That would certainly make up for those months I couldn’t get into my sewing room.  Now that the summer heat and humidity are gone I should be able to get back on track.

Retreat was awesome, as it usually is.  We laughed and rehashed some old jokes, I mean everyone loves a happy ending…  It was nice to have the tribe back together again.  Well, most of us.  There was just one missing – Wanda and we did miss her.  Sandra Dee and Hazel learned to make a simple purse from 2 fat quarters and did really well with that.  Blanche and Mabel did a lot of paper piecing (they worked really had to get caught up on that super awesome stained glass star block of the month.  Say that 5 times fast!).  Hattie worked on that baby quilt. Inez put some things together for a craft show we have coming up.  Overall, it was a much-needed weekend together for us and sometimes I wish they were a little more often than every 6 months.

This week there was some sadness….

I didn’t have much time to sew this past week.  I’m hoping for a better opportunity tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

Now for the sadness.  The quilt shop where I started my quilting journey is closing.  Mabel passed the word and over the weekend Hazel, Mabel, Inez and I took a trip.  Blanche was along in spirit.  The big sale doesn’t start for another week.  We went early because we knew it would be picked over once the mark downs happened and we wanted to get in before things got picked over.

The store had offered punch cards that scored you $25 once you filled one and I had one full and two partials ready to go. Blanche had a full card and a couple of partials that she sent up so we could go shopping on her behalf (which we gladly did and I will save what we got her as a surprise!).

Before I share what I purchased for myself, I would like to wax nostalgic.  I first learned how to quilt around 15 years ago (maybe more, I’m not really sure).  I didn’t have any type of sewing machine experience.  I cross-stitched a hem on a dress while I was in college if that gives you any kind of indication on what my skill set was.  My husband had more sewing machine experience  than I did and gave me a crash course on how to thread and use the sewing machine.  Inez was in the class with me (really was the reason I was taking the class in the first place) and walked me through my first steps in quilting at this quilt shop.  I still have the blocks…they still haven’t been turned into a completed quilt.  I still like them…and they are in my pile of UFO’s to complete.

We took a few more classes there and made sure that we visited when we were out at retreat.  The shop changed hands to it current owner and our lives changed that we didn’t get out there for classes although we did try to make it out there for some shopping.  Of course it was never often enough.

I feel saddened that they will soon be closing their doors, like a piece of my quilting story is becoming faint.  While I hope to make it back while they are having their big sale, I’m glad we made a priority to go before the vultures swoop in.

Now, I’ll share what I picked up for myself.  Hazel picked up a few things and I think we are going to be embarking on a project together, but more on that later!  Mabel came with a list of fabrics she needed for upcoming projects and stayed true to her course.  Inez picked up some background fabrics and fun things.  I wandered around trying to take it all in and touching various bolts waiting for the spark that comes when you are feeling inspired or when bolts jump into your arms because they are so beautiful that you couldn’t possibly leave them in the store.  There were so many that I wanted to take home that it was hard to start shopping.  I think made at least 3 complete circuts of the store before actually picking up a bolt of fabric.

Here’s what I picked up for fun.  The blueish one I grabbed a yard of just because it was fun.  The yellow one…well…it was my splurge piece.  The longer I stood at the cutting table the more I wanted.  I was just going to get a yard but I ended up clearing the bolt.

As I stood looking at the Oriental fabrics, Inez came over and picked up a bolt and said, “this is pretty”.  I couldn’t disagree.  But then I noticed a nice teal that went really nicely with it.  Then there was the gold.  Oh, the bolt of gold.  Then we were wandering around looking for more to go with it.

You can see what we came up with here.  The first in line is that teal that was just so nice.  And the gold…oh, the gold.  Then the hunt was on for the right green and blue.  The hardest was the background, but finally we found something that would be just right.

Here is everything together.  Doesn’t it just look so rich?  I’ve been thinking about it all day and have been running through different block/pattern ideas and I’m starting to think that I just need to come up with my own design.  Not that I don’t have a million other projects to work on….Ahh well.  I don’t regret it at all.  I did have to clear the bolt on the peacock and the background, some things you just can’t find a substitute for.

Now for the new project Hazel and I are about to embark on.  I don’t know if you have seen the Lucy Boston cross blocks?  They utilize the English paper piecing method.  If you haven’t seen the blocks check this out!  Just google “Lucy Boston cross blocks”, there are some amazing fabric combinations.  I’m not sure whose these are, but the colors were intriguing.  During our shopping session, there were some supplies  as the shop was offering a class and I picked up a template and some paper forms.  However, I really need to get the book to make sure I have all the things I need (unfortunately they were sold out of the book).  I think there may be some other shapes we need.

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I’m sure you remember how well Sandra Dee and Hazel love paper piecing.  Hazel was less than thrilled when I mentioned English paper piecing, but I think I have her talked into giving this a shot with me.  After all, these are two completely different methods so it should go much better!  Stay tuned for mine and Hazel’s totally awesome blocks!