Tuesday, March 24, 2015

another busy post

I've been busy again!  My hubby hasn't seen much of me lately, but there are a number of good reasons.  Well, my quilt guild will tell you they are good reasons!

I'm the membership chair, so finalizing the roster and getting that handed out took a little work.

The guild also voted on an official logo, so I decided to work with my brother who, with his wife, run a company that does custom screen printing and embroidery.  Many of my fellow guild members and myself now own shirts sporting our new logo.  This was done in a rush to accommodate the last big project on my plate...

Last weekend was our guild's annual quilt show!  We wanted to be able to wear our new shirts at the show and look official.  I think we looked quite nice, though the shirts were optional and not everyone ordered one.

Here are a few (not so great) photos of the show:

We had 91 quilts on display.  From a guild of only 45 members, you can see there is a LOT of variety and even more talent.  We crammed these all into a small multi-purpose room at the local library and had a free-admission show Saturday and Sunday.

Friday I spent a good portion of the day on a ladder hanging quilts from poles up at the ceiling.  It was a long day, but well worth the trouble and frustrations.  We had about 150 people come - on an advertising budget of $0, I'd say that's not bad!

What you don't really see is that we set up tables around the room and actually worked on projects (small ones) during the show.  It gave visitors a chance to ask questions and see how we do what we do.  And I think we might have a few new members again this year as a result.

Sunday afternoon we tore everything down.  I was on the ladder less because lots of husbands showed up at the end and were able and willing to spend time on ladders, so I just ran around and did whatever.  I guess you'd call me assistant chair - I helped a lot last year, but this year did more and the gal in charge says next year this is my baby and she'll be my assistant.  We're going to have to have a serious chat about that (she's got some BIIIIIG shoes to fill, never mind that I work full-time), but I did enjoy getting to be so involved.

I took Monday off work to recover.  Since I was gone most of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, many of the chores I do during the weekend got neglected.  Plus I just needed to recover!

During the show, I worked on sewing strips together for a charity quilt.  These strips came from the bag my sister-in-law gave me a while ago and I'd had an idea in my head for a while, having seen a quilt at a show.  But since we didn't have an iron set up (which is normal for our weekend sewing days), I couldn't work too much on this.  (That's okay, there were LOTS of distractions!)

Monday I figured out block placement:

These fabrics make me think so much of Love and are definitely not anything I'd choose on my own, but with some setting triangles in there and probably a piano keys border to use up strip ends, I think this is going to make some lady very happy.

Once that was done, I moved on to finishing cutting and marking my science geek fabrics (scroll down in the link).  Cutting hexagons is not fun, but for this fabric, I can't think of any shape that makes more sense than a hexagon.  I thought this was going to be big enough for my bed, but it's not.  (I know because it fits on my living room floor - which is slightly smaller than a queen-size quilt needs to be...)

Now I have to learn how to sew those inset seams.  But I marked 1/4" from the edges on every single piece (I think there were about 4 million of them) and will tackle that soon.  I'm determined, even if I'm still not a hexie fan.  They're 6 1/2" hexagons, though, so that will hopefully make things easier.  Or harder...

And finally, the weekend before the show, I knew I had to get the next row-by-row done.  So here are a few sneak peaks:

Many of these blocks ended up with more pieces in them than the last row, but I guess I'm just an over-achiever?  I want these rows to be amazing and I'm putting in a lot of effort and my best work because that's what I hope I get back.  And I really, really, really hope the gals I'm sewing for like what I've done.  (And it's kinda killing me that I can't share what I've done.)

What I can share is my helper...

While making the pineapple, I'd sew opposite pieces, then get up to press and pin my next pieces.  Every single time, this is what I had to deal with.  This is my sewing chair.  Maybe a foot away is an oversized stuffed chair.  Would she sit in that?  No.  It was my chair or nothing.  And with something like 56 pieces (or was it 42?) in that pineapple, I moved her a LOT.  She grumbled every time.  (She is a bit of a spoiled princess...)

So that's all for now.

Next up is the guild newsletter.  Yeah, I do that, too.  But that one is fun.  Mostly.  :)

Happy quilting,

Sunday, March 15, 2015

aqs challenge quilt - not going anywhere

I've been sewing away lately, but don't have much I can share.

The two quilts for a former coworker-friend haven't been delivered yet.  She had the baby earlier than I expected (not sure if I wasn't paying attention to the due date well enough or baby made an early appearance), so dad is off work for a bit.  We'll get together soon, though, and then I can share those.

Then there's the row-by-row.  I worked on that quite a bit this weekend and it's finished, but since it's supposed to be a secret and I have no idea who has found my blog by now, it's going to remain hush-hush for now.  Just know that one block had 68 pieces.  Another had 53.  But it's finished.

But the one I can show I'm kinda sad that I can show.  Last Thursday was our deadline for the AQS guild challenge quilts.  We needed eight.  We had six.  The good news is that you get to see my quilt now!

(sunny day means shadowy quilt...happy about the sunshine, not so happy about the shadows!)

Way back in July of last year, the group voted on a theme.  Letters of the alphabet were chosen.  Anyone wishing to participate drew a letter.  I got "X".  Of course I got "X".  Why would I get an easy letter like "A" or "S"?

So the search for a science quilt project was on.

At first, I wanted to do X-ray crystallography.  It's how the structure of DNA was discovered - a woman took the photo and worked on the project, but wasn't credited for her discovery for many, many years - but other crystal structures can be determined with it.  The technique, well the images it produced, were even used as inspiration for an exhibit at the Festival of Britain in 1951 for textile designs!

But, that photo of DNA is very well known (requiring permission to use it), and I was struggling to figure out how to recreate any of the photos I found as a quilt without loads of trouble.

So I moved on.

I still have many of my college textbooks, so I flipped through the indexes of those.  X-linked traits was next up.  A good example of this is how calico cats are almost always female and the extremely rare male is sterile.  But again, how to convey that in a quilt?  A calico cat would hardly hint at what I was up to and I wanted something a little more obvious.

Moving on again.

Xylem.  Oh, what pretty photos.  Google.  Oh, look, that stain is common.  And there are dozens of photos that all look similar.  I can make an artists recreation of this without copyright issues.  And my mom, a plant-nerd, will be proud.  (We tease that she can identify plants by genus and species while driving 70mph down the freeway - because she does!)

Xylem is found with phloem in plants.  It's their vascular structure.  (They transport water (xylem) and food (phloem).) 

This should be pretty easy, once I decide which direction of cutting the stem I like better.  Crosswise creates a pattern of circles.  Lengthwise gives long, narrow vessels.  I like that idea...gentle curves.  Bright colors.  And other than those pebbles, lends itself to simple quilting.  Overall, a very modern, eye-catching design.  Something I think the judges will like - and I like, too!

But that little eye-thing (a tracheid) gave me more trouble than any little thing should have.  There should have been more, but after fighting with this and ripping parts out more times than I care to remember, I decided that this particular section of the plant stem would have just the one.

So I shared the one sneak peek...

...and now you know what all those pins were holding!

This quilt took a LOT longer than I anticipated.  Lots more pinning was needed than I was led to believe by those fantastic online tutorials about sewing curved pieces.  (Of course, their pieces were about 12" and mine were about 52"...)

The quilting went quickly, though, as you can probably guess by looking at it.  But in the realm of modern quilts, I'm confident it's got plenty!  (There's less than 1/2" between even the furthest rows of quilting, so it's kinda quilted to death...)

We had some great entries.  One gal got "Y" so she made a yucca plant.  Complete with 3-D flowers that looked real.  Another gal got "L" and did a couple of clotheslines strung between buildings in a place like New York with laundry hanging from them.  Little clothespins and all, it was so creative.  One that wasn't finished was "A" for alpaca.  The gal making it had made an alpaca from alpaca fur (hair?  whatever it was, it was extremely unruly!) and it even had a little smirk, which made those of us who know the nature of alpacas giggle - they can be quite the characters!

I considered entering this quilt all by myself for the Grand Rapids AQS show.  It's large enough, but I knew it was created with the intention of being in the guild challenge and felt it would be dishonest to claim it was made for the main show.  I know no one but me and my guild would have known, but it just didn't feel right.  And honestly, I'm not sure my quilting was good enough to even get me in.  Those darn pebbles!

And now that I've shared it here, I'm no longer able to enter it to AQS at all.  At least I think this constitutes being displayed elsewhere...

But I'm happy I participated.  I have a better handle on curved piecing.  I am a little more confident at quilting pebbles.  And another round of making a fancy hanging sleeve is never a bad technique to have under my belt.  And I followed through and completed the challenge.  On time.  (No small feat!)

Yesterday I went to a quilt show for another local guild.  There were some inspiring quilts there, but we all know you go to a quilt show for the vendors, right?  I bought two books and got to see my brother and his wife (they run a business doing custom screen printing and embroidery and were there selling quilt shirts!), so it was a good day.

This coming weekend is my guild's quilt show.  We just have a small show in the multi-purpose room at the local library, so no vendors or anything, but we do set up tables around the room and sew during the show while we display our recently completed projects.  It's fun because people can ask questions and we get to hang out and do what we love and we sometimes even recruit a member or two in the process!

But now it's time to go catch up on some housework and start getting my mind back in the the right frame for heading to work tomorrow morning.  (How many more years until I can retire?!)

Happy quilting,

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

sneaky peeks

Every day I say to myself "Self, you should blog today."

And then I don't.

Today, I am.

I don't have a lot finished, but I have gotten a lot done in the last few days.  I came home Friday and started a list.  The list is two sticky notes long.  Most of the items are crossed off (to be fair, some were things like "wash dishes" or "fold laundry"), but those that are left are the big ones.  Bind and label quilts, for example.

Last weekend I quilted my challenge quilt.  I hate it less now.  I still can't show it to you, but I think it's safe to show you this:

The back of my AQS guild challenge quilt.  The pink is also on the front, but the other two fabrics are leftovers from other projects.  It feels good to use stuff up - and it kinda coordinates...

This quilt is bound and the hanging sleeve is made and pinned on.  The label is also made and waiting for attachment.

This past weekend, in addition to a huge amount of work on promoting my guild's upcoming quilt show, I quilted TWO quilts!  Not one, but two!

First, I loaded the hedgehogs.  I had been procrastinating quilting this one because I just didn't know how.  The original quilt wasn't done in a way I liked, so I took it to my guild for suggestions.  Quite a few were made and helped me get past my quilter's block (you know, like writer's' block?).  It forced me to think outside my norm and by the time I got the first row of hedgehogs done, I was having fun.

I don't have a photo of the whole quilt yet, but this is by far my favorite block:

I hope you can see the flower in her hair.  Spines?

I took a few other photos of other blocks, but the quilting didn't show up well, so I'll have to get more when I get the whole quilt photographed.  Baby is due this month - this quilt is for big sister - so nothing like last minute!

Then, since it wasn't that late and the hubby wasn't demanding dinner, I loaded the baby quilt.  I quilted it simply, but have no photos of this one yet either.

That was Saturday.  Sunday I made and attached binding to both of these quilts.  And I made labels.  My goal was to get things to a point where, during the week, I could come home from work and relax and watch a movie and work on handwork stuff.  I made my goal.

Last night I got about 3/4 of the way around the hedgehogs, but not without breaking a needle.  HAND SEWING I broke a needle.  I was using it to pull a knot tight and it snapped.  Now I'll be the first to admit I don't buy fancy-fancy needles for anything, but this one had me scratching my head.  I didn't think I was THAT strong!

Sunday, I also opened the next row-by-row box.  We exchanged Thursday and I was excited to get into the box, but know I have a month to get this done and other projects are more pressing.  But I did snap a photo of the original row:

Included in the box are a lot of Kaffe Fasset prints and stuff that coordinates.  The gal with this row is a realtor, so she's asked for houses and things of that nature.  I know what I want to do, but much like the last box, I may be kicking myself before it's over.  But you all should know by now that I manage to pick the thing with the most pieces every time, so nothing new here!

The last new thing is that my guild is doing another challenge-type project.  Our VP, in charge of programs like this, is teaching us how to recreate blocks by moving colors, direction of shapes and whatnot.  Our homework for this week was to pick a block we like and play with color placement and such.  I chose Blackford's Beauty because I think it has a lot of potential.  Maybe too much?  I've done my homework (and may do a little more if time permits), but I'm excited to see what's next.  She shared some quilts she and other members had done with this technique about 8 years ago and they were gorgeous.  I can only hope to have something half that pretty when we're done!

(I figured out how to make a bat with this block, by the way.  Apparently that last mystery quilt I made was not the only one capable of producing bats simply with color placement...  But knowing I could make bats doesn't mean I AM going to make bats...but it would be amusing...)

So that's what I've been up to.  Reading blogs, too, but on my "smart" phone, so comments aren't too easy.  It looks like a few of our lost APQ bloggers are returning, so I'm very excited to see what you all are up to lately.

Time to get back to that binding.  It's not going to sew itself on, but I can assure you if someone can invent self-sewing binding, it will be a money maker!

Happy quilting,

Sunday, February 15, 2015

hailey's quilt - the last of the Christmas quilts

I don't have much to share this week.  I haven't sewn much, but what I have done is top secret, so it's time I finally posted the last of the quilts I gave away at Christmas.

Early last year, my brother-in-law's girlfriend gave me a stack of owl print squares that her sister had cut with the intention of making a quilt for my niece, Hailey.  That's as far as it got, so she asked me to step in...

(I guess I don't have a photo of just the owl print...)

So I went shopping and bought a few more prints to go with the owls - girly girly!

And then I planned and changed my mind and planned again...

And then I sewed and sewed.  I finished the top at my guild's quilt show in March, but the quilt was due to be either birthday or Christmas present, so I knew I could procrastinate a while.

We bought a bike for her slightly older cousin's 2nd birthday in May and once Alexis was willing to get off and share, Hailey wasn't.  So we ended up buying Hailey her birthday present 6 months early - she got a bike the next weekend.  Which meant the quilt would be a Christmas present.

So I put off quilting it a little longer...

Finally it needed to be done and I looked and thought and doodled, trying to figure out how to quilt this.  I didn't want to do something that was just an all-over pattern, but didn't want to go too far over the top either, since I expected her to use this.  Time got the better of me and I ended up going with an all-over pattern.

(You can see the owls here, too.)

And then I whipped the binding on (a mix of the yellow and orange) and labelled it, all in time for gift-giving on Christmas day.

I don't think it was as big of a hit as the dinosaur quilts, but there was a lot going on that day and most 2-year-olds don't get it for something like this.  Mom liked it and I hope now that they're in a house of their own, it's on her bed, seeing some use.

(Funny, though, this quilt seemed so ORANGE hanging over the longarm here, waiting for gifting, but it seems rather pink in the photo - I'm glad for that because I wanted it to be more pink!)

And I will share a couple of sneak peak photos of the row-by-row...

I had fun with her blocks.  They're not quite sewn into a row yet, but that will happen today.  I think.  Yesterday should have been a very productive day, but it wasn't.  I'm hoping today will be better, but knowing it's -12 outside, with a predicted high of 4, snuggled up under a quilt with a pile of kitties and a book sounds a little better!  At least it's not very windy so the furnace can keep up!

Happy quilting,