Thursday, April 29, 2010

From a Listener: Frances' Liberated Scrap Block

Listener Frances left a comment on the show blog for episode 007 "In Which We Get Scrappy" ( about a scrap block she's been working on--so I asked her to share a pic. Here 'tis. So cute! I'm definitely getting some ideas from this one. Thanks so much for sharing, Frances! (BTW, no pattern involved--she's just going for it. Definite woohoo for you, Frances!)

I should be getting a pic of a different project from Frances soon...she's working on it, so stay posted.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More information for Episode 007 "In Which We Get Scrappy"

First, as a sidebar note: In doing research for this episode, I ran across a potential use for the practice machine quilting sandwiches I referred to in episode 2. There was a tip from a quilter on about donating them to an animal shelter to use as cage liners. Obviously, if you had a practice sandwich with the types of errors that lead to a lot of loose threads sticking up—which, admittedly, many of mine had—that probably wouldn’t work since the animal could hurt themselves with access to thread like that. But tight stitches probably wouldn’t be a problem. It’s worth calling your local animal shelter to ask! They may have cage size requirements that you could then use when you’re putting together your next set of practice sandwiches.

In regards to listener Bonnie’s question about EQ: check out EQ’s website at You can also purchase EQ books either from Electric Quilt or from Amazon. The teacher of the Quilt University classes I’m taking, Fran Gonzalez, has written EQ6 Simplified, which is supposed to be an excellent tutorial-format book. I don’t own it, but will most likely end up adding it to my library before long. Hopefully she’ll do one for EQ7 that will be available soon as well. (Fran, if you’re reading…?)

Resources I used in my research for Episode 007 on scraps:

• History of quilts: --also includes some great quilty time-waster games!

• Bonnie Hunter's Scrapusers sytem:
• Scrap-Therapy at They run classes at local quilt shops—if you haven’t had one near you, perhaps you want to ask your LQS owner to consider doing one. The site includes a list of quilt shops organized by state who offer the classes. (search for “scrap quilts” or “scrap quilting”) (Rachel Cox's blog is fun to read; this link is directly to an entry about organizing scraps)—several articles on using fabric scraps--just search "scrap fabric" or something similar. (Sort of an old school web page, but useful info.)

• Lily’s “Block a Day” blog had a nice entry about little bags she's made that struck me as a great way to use up scraps. She doesn’t print a pattern—but the bags look simple enough that even I could figure out how to make one. I really enjoy her blog, btw--I'd encourage you to follow it!

By the way, I just got my new bendie light for my sewing machine--I'm jazzed!

Fabric Stash Follow-up

Ran across a good article this morning that made me think of the episode I did on stash fabrics (was that one episode 004? I forget). Anyway, check out:

Fun little poll to do there about what color is the tallest stack in your stash. Mine's neutrals, and apparently I'm in the minority according to the poll results. Hmmm.

I way overslept this morning--guess I was on the west coast just long enough for my body to start switching time zones. Dang. But I'm up now--time to start recording my next podcast episode and then hopefully get some sewing in before the family is back around again this afternoon. Tomorrow it's back to work...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Welcome to the "Quilting...for the Rest of Us" Blog!

It got too confusing to have a blog named something completely different from the podcast series, and although I like Podbean for a lot of things, their blog features don't work quite as smoothly as Blogger does when it comes to images and such. So I'm going to discontinue my tessellations blog and pick things up here. I'm pulling some posts (not all) from my tessellations blog to this one so you'll still be able to read some of the archives if you so choose.

Meanwhile, I'll post here about projects, occasionally give expanded information from podcast episodes, and just talk about life (mine and others--mostly my kids!). As I always say in my podcasts, I prefer to have conversations so I hope you'll use the comments feature here readily and with great enthusiasm!

Home again, home again, jiggi...ty....zzzzzzzz

The flights all went smoothly, but they were crammed to the brim. The requisite screaming babies (I felt bad for the mom, but also, admittedly, a little sorry for myself!), toddlers kicking the back of my seat, trying to avoid touching the poor guy in the middle seat of our row, etc. I didn't sleep much at all on the red-eye from Seattle to Chicago so I'm on definite major sleep deficit here; unfortunately, napping doesn't really work for me. I wake up feeling worse than I started. So I'm just going to plow through and go to bed as early as I think I can get away with tonight.

I only listened to a couple more quilty podcasts on the trip home--some older episodes of "Jackie's Quilting Chronicles." There's no way I'll have time to listen to all episodes of everyone's podcasts so I'm having to skate through and only pick out a small handful of each. I enjoyed Jackie's; I listened to a couple of episodes where she talked about various tools and picked up some good ideas. Check her out!

I have this weird reaction to Dramamine hangover--I tend to eat my way through the next day. I think it's a mixture of carbo-loading from being overtired and trying to do anything I can to stay awake as long as possible. So I'm now trying to distract myself with playing a computer game and in a bit, I may go up and tackle my scrap bins and see if I can cut some into usable pieces. Working on my next podcast episode on scraps has inspired me! I'm a little worried about using a rotary cutter when I'm this tired, though. Way to lop off a finger!

After listening to all of these podcasts, I am realizing that I've never really posted pictures of projects in progress--just completions. So I'm going to use this blog a little differently in the future. So--more pics, more short entries with updates on projects, and lots of questions for everyone!

Meanwhile, to sleep...perhaps to dream...(of quilted sugarplums?)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

There's no place like home...

I'm starting my last day of my business trip. Head home on a red-eye tonight, so I just updated all my podcasts, especially the quilty ones!, and synched my iPod in preparation. I had a brief hope of doing a little touristy-shop-hopping yesterday during a break but didn't know any locals with a car, so I ended up staying in the hotel. Got a lot of work (real work!) done, though, so it was good.

I did have some odd moments here and there to keep working on my research for my next podcast episode. I'm learning a lot about scraps. Not sure if it's inspired me to do a "real" scrap project yet or not. I define "real" as using honest-to-goodness scraps, not precut packs (jelly rolls, charm packs)--I've done several of the precut type of scrap projects to warm myself up on how to pick scraps for a design and make it work.

I've got a quilt retreat coming up in a couple of weeks; I'm debating just bringing all my scraps and making myself take the time to cut them all to usable sizes. It would probably take me most of the weekend. Could I stand doing that? Hmmm....

Monday, April 19, 2010

You Know It's Probably Not the Right College When...

...your daughter's eyes glaze over 5 minutes into the tour. Maybe the glazing started even before we left the waiting room in the admissions building.

Granted, I think I agree. On Saturday, I could easily picture her on every corner of that campus--eating in the dining hall, sleeping in the door room, sitting in the classrooms, hanging out under the tree in the middle of one of the courtyards, and especially hanging out in the library. Today, at this school, I had to squint to imagine her anywhere there--and even at that, my imaginary daughter-on-campus was blurry and not altogether happy. It's a great school--just probably not the best school for her.

She's not crossing it off the list yet; it just dropped way down, probably below a few undiscovered colleges that have yet to even be added to the list. My husband and I talked with her on the way back to the hotel and explained that college visits are sort of like dating--much of the reason you do college visits is to find out what you don't like, as much as finding out what you do like. She can't entirely put her finger on why she didn't like the school at this stage, but she'll figure it out, especially after she's got a couple more visits under her belt.

And by the way, the only store in town that sells fabric is a general hobby store and the couple of shelves of fabric were stuffed in among dusty shelves of yarn, toy trains and accoutrements, woodworking tools, kids' craft kits, and all sorts of whatnot. Hmmmm. Maybe there is a connection between "the right school for my daughter" and "quilt-friendly!"

Saturday, April 17, 2010

It's Kismet--Is this the College for Us?

So, my husband and I are trooping around the north country of NYS with our daughter visiting a couple of colleges this weekend. She's debating environmental sciences, biology, and anthropology. At the moment, she wants to be a park ranger or wants to be in school for the rest of her life (she tosses off references to grad school and PhDs and doesn't notice my husband and I clutching our chests and dropping to the floor over the thought of decades of tuition ahead).

In any case, we visited Paul Smith College today--gorgeous campus and does seem to fit her outdoorsy-personality. But was it perhaps kismet when we stopped in the college bookstore and there--almost immediately catching my eye--stacked amidst the rock music and computer magazines--were two quilt books?!?

I nabbed them and spoke with the clerk (a woman of a "certain age") about my surprise that there were quilt books in a college bookstore. Turns out that, until very recently, there was a quilt conference that used to be there each summer. I'm bummed I missed them! The quilt books are "northwoodsy" style--lots of moose, bear, and pinecones. But nice patterns and lots of applique templates I'll be able to repurpose into other projects if I choose not to decorate my house like a log cabin.

Kismet aside...

After the tour, we moved on to Lake Placid and spent the the April...poking around the shops in the village. And I stumbled across a small fabric shop tucked away in a little walk-in mall (a collection of about 6 shops in an alcove off the main street). It was very small, but she had a nice collection. I picked up several half-yards of some fabric appropriate for landscape quilts--something I eventually want to get into doing. Plus she had some great fabric on sale for 50% off, so I got a yard of that one (the floral), then she had a line of gorgeous muted tone-on-tones that I couldn't resist (the brown, sage green, and sort of steel blue that looks more intense in the photo than it is). Unfortunately not on sale, dang it. And a couple of other nice stash-fabrics.

So here's my souvenir of our trip...

I'll be giving a shout-out to the fabric store on my podcast and posting the link to the store's website in my show notes:

Another day in Lake Placid tomorrow--trying to hike despite the falling snow--then on to Clarkson tomorrow. I don't know--if they don't have quilt books in their college bookstore, I may have to talk my daughter into removing them from her list. :-)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Sandufo Finish!

Back to one of my own UFOs (the "Sandy-ufo", or "Sandufo")--finally done! This one always felt like a really stupid UFO. I got myself all caught up in feeling like I should do more with it than what I really actually needed to do just to call it done. I bought the panel about three or four years ago, shortly after we first moved into our new house. Our house was in a development named "Cherry Hill Estates" and so, when I saw this panel named "Cherry Hill," it seemed destined. And I liked the colors. It was hanging as a sampler quilt at a small quilt shop that's since closed (Pickett Fence, for anyone from around these parts). In an amazing show of complete lack of creativity, I think I just copied all her border fabrics. It was cute--and I wasn't feeling like being overly invested in the project at the time.
I got the borders put on quite quickly, but then it stalled. "Do I quilt just around the blocks and lines, or do I quilt in all the blocks too, to try to make it look like real applique?" Hence, the stopper. I couldn't decide what I wanted to do so it sat, and sat, and sat.

Finally, last week, in a fit of "I just really want to get this done and off my shelf," I threw on my walking foot and just quilted all the straight lines. I did decide to get a little fancier in the border, though, so last night I sat and went through one of my practice quilt sandwiches using some free-motion, free-hand patterns that Janet Root had taught in the machine quilting class I took last month. I liked the way the leafy one felt, so I went for it. (See close-up.) I had problems seeing where I was going with the patterned border fabric, but then I realized, if I had problems seeing what I was doing, anyone looking at it would have the same problems, so any errors would be virtually invisible. Woohoo!

The front of the quilt looks pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. The back of the quilt--Well, that's another matter, isn't it? But it'll be on a wall, so who's to ever know?
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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Momufo finished--Sandufo well on it's way!

Another Momufo done! Well, pert' near, anyway. I have to do a little work on the corners and slap a label on the puppy and then it's done. I had this one machine quilted at Mt. Pleasant along with the flag quilt and garden quilt (previous post). This one was just a pantograph--all over falling leaves. Can't see the quilting at all in this pic, sorry. It's a large quilt--took my husband and daughter both holding up sides of it and me standing way outside my front door to get this picture.

I tried a new method of binding that I'm either never going to do again, or keep practicing it until I get it right. Not sure which at the moment. It's the do-it-all-by-machine method, where you sew the binding on the back, flip it to the front and then use your machine and a decorative stitch or blind stitch to sew it down. I didn't quite get my front and back seams in the same place so I'm not keen on the way it looks in the back. The front isn't too bad. Not show-worthy, but I don't particularly worry about that anyway.

I have a couple of other Momufos left to do but they'll probably take me awhile to get to. One has a LOT of work to do but it's a really nice piece that Mom designed in EQ so I want to get it done for her. The other one is just a kit that she'd started--it's a nice springy piece with hydrangea fabric that I think is cute so it's not high priority, but probably fast once I dig into it.

Meanwhile, back to my own UFOs, or "Sandufos" for awhile. I got the borders on today so I finally have the top completely pieced on my square-in-a-square class project! Woohoo! See my blog post from March with a photo of the center part of this quilt finished--I explain how it all came to be in that post.
I just LOVE that border fabric. It's absolutely perfect for pulling in all the colors of the center. It's another Moda, although from a different line (this quilt started with a bunch of fat quarters from Moda's "chocolat" line from a few years back.) I'm a big fan of Moda. I originally intended to do mitred borders but decided at the last minute to do a slightly wider border, which didn't leave me quite enough fabric for the mitre. So it's butted, but once it's quilted you'd probably never even know.

I'm going to have it machine quilted at Mt. Pleasant as well. I've been living with this quilt for almost two years now--I just want it done! Can't decide if I'll have a custom job or just a pantograph. I've grown to like this quilt, but I'm not sure I love it, which is what I'd need to do to pay for a custom quilt job!