Great Aunt Bess’s “Fizzle Drawer” and A Busy Week

I have a number of pieces of antique furniture, as much out of obligation as desire. These belonged to my grandparents, great-grandparents, and in one case to my great-great-grandmother. One of them contains Great Aunt Bess’s “Fizzle Drawer”.

Granny once commented on it, saying that whenever her sister, Bess, had a sewing project that “fizzled”, the project went into that drawer. I’m not sure what happened after that. This would have been in the early part of the 20th Century, but I don’t even know whether the “fizzle” items were clothing or something else.  By the time I inherited the furniture they were long gone!

I think some of my UFOs probably should go in the “fizzle drawer”, but I don’t know when to quit, so I keep working on them.  This next one was a class I did not especially enjoy, but I’ve converted it to 4 large blocks to be combined into a donation quilt.

This next one is not a fizzle, it’s a set of place mats I made for a quick holiday class to teach this fall.  I developed this pattern YEARS ago for McCall’s Quick Quilts and have made many versions of it since.  Place mats are a nice hostess gift to have on hand.

We went to the “apple barn” this weekend and got some apples–must be fall!  Here is the view from the apple barn, looking across some trees heavy with red apples to the mountains beyond.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

How was your week?

Done, and Done!

Recently I taught Seminole Patchwork at Studio Stitch in Greensboro. The strips were successfully made…seminole patchwork

and one place mat per student assembled, basted, quilted, and ready for binding!seminole patchwork placemat

I particularly liked this one made with Mode Grunge fabric.

AND the Gypsy Wife top is finished.  I am truly done with that project. Off to the quilter it goes.Gypsy wife quilt top

Hope you had a successful September, too!

Finished! In 2016

First, the Christmas tree picture with fireplace was at the Grove Park Inn, in Asheville, N.C. That fireplace is big enough for a man to stand up in. Hopefully when there’s no fire.

And now, the 2016 finishes.

Asheville Quilt Show

Scan Me, a quilt made to promote safer sex.

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss won a blue ribbon.

art quilt, gwen marston

Refrigerator quilt inspired by Gwen Marston. Bev Manus came up with the idea for refrigerator quilts.

modern sampler

My Modern Sampler Quilt

improvisational quilt

“Gwen Visits the Farm” is the quilt I made for the Quilt Alliance contest this year

Quilted Adventure

Roxie bag made as part of Quilted Adventure online retreat

Loes Hinse blouse

Blouse from a Loes Hinse pattern, in Cherrywood fabrics

Tumbling Blocks

Tumbling Blocks placemats, made in class with Karen Combs

Sweetpea Pod pattern review

These Sweetpea Pod bags were so fun that I made a LOT of them!

And, of course, the quilts for Ronald McDonald House:

Happy new year, and may you have a great year of quilts in 2017!

Quilting Thanksgiving

Gratitude is always a good practice, so it’s especially nice to have a holiday specifically dedicated to thanksgiving.  Here are 10 reasons I’m thankful for quilting:

  1. Every project is a new learning experience.  Even if it is, sometimes, “another *%@!! learning experience” 🙂

    rotary cutter accident

    A learning experience!

  2. There is no failure. Projects that don’t turn out as planned can be recycled into something.  (It may take a while to figure out what.)

    This one had to be cut up and made into placemats!

    This one had to be cut up and made into placemats!

  3. Friends.  Quilting is a great way to meet interesting people and make new friends.  I love making friends online, too, even though I may never meet them in person.  It’s such fun that people from 3000 miles away follow my blog and I follow theirs.

    A new friend holding up one of my quilts at a recent guild talk

    A new friend holding up one of my quilts at a recent guild talk

  4. Quilting is a great creative outlet, whether or not I choose to be an “artist”.

    Gwen Marston iQuilt class

    Quilt made for a class with Gwen Marston

  5. Gifts.  I’ve made quilts, placemats, table runners, potholders, and bags to give to friends.

    Divided basket made from pattern by Noodlehead

    Divided basket made from pattern by Noodlehead

  6. Opportunity to give to the community.  I make quilts for Ronald McDonald house.

    One of my quilts for Ronald McDonald House

    One of my quilts for Ronald McDonald House

  7. Color!  Who doesn’t love playing with all the beautiful fabrics?

    Yummy fabrics at Studio Stitch, where I sometimes teach

    Yummy fabrics at Studio Stitch, where I sometimes teach

  8. Socializing: it’s great to get together and work on a project with friends.

    An especially quilty friend!

    An especially quilty friend at a sewing group

  9. Being alone: it’s equally great to spend a quiet day alone in my studio

    View from my home

    View from my home

  10. Problem solving: Many projects present problems that need to be solved, and I love the challenge.

    modern quilt

    I enjoyed the challenge of designing and making this quilt

What are you thankful for?

Review: Karen Combs Teaching Tumbling Blocks

Karen Combs‘ Tumbling Blocks class, which I took at AQS-Chattanooga in September, was one of the best quilt classes I’ve ever taken. Of course, “tumbling blocks” is a traditional design, but I always like a challenge.

Tumbling Blocks

Tumbling Blocks, made in class with Karen Combs

Karen is so well organized and clear that I had 4 blocks made by the end of class and had started on the background! Her method for the Y-seams was so well explained that there is no need to even consider the “cheater” tumbling blocks made with half square triangles.

One of the “secrets” to making this block easy is to buy ombre fabric that varies from dark to light in the same color, so you don’t have to hunt down 3 values of the same color individually!  Of particular note, Karen showed us how to use a standard quilting ruler to cut the blocks–NO SPECIAL RULER REQUIRED!  I think this is notable in a field where so many teachers are selling their own rulers, which are then needed for the way they teach a class.Karen Combs class review

Karen’s class sample is a table runner, which probably does show off the blocks a little better than placemats. But I have more table runners than I can use, so placemats it is.

The quilting is done to emphasize the 3-dimensional aspect of the blocks, so I imitated what Karen had done.  The background is quilted with random loops.Quilting Tumbling Blocks

I’m pleased with this project, and I certainly recommend you take Karen’s class if you have the chance!

2014 Projects, Part 2

To continue a review of projects from 2014, the point of this exercise is to get together a gallery page for each year I’ve done this blog.

I made “Drunk in the Garden” both to use this beautiful floral fabric that reminded me of Texas and to practice cutting and piecing gentle curves.

Drunk in the Garden, the original quilt

Drunk in the Garden, the original quilt

Despite the beautiful fabric, the overall design never looked right to me, primarily because the gold fabrics varied too much in value.  I eventually cut this quilt up and made some place mats, which were much more successful.  You can see them here, if you like.

I designed a quilt for the Michael Miller challenge and, though it sank without a trace in the challenge, I liked it.  The design was improvised based on the little scan codes made up of triangles at my local garden center:

Michael Miller challenge quilt

Packet of Posy Seeds

Also in 2014, I designed a quilt and pillow for Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine.  Here is the picture from the magazine:

quilt photo

Zippy Star Quilt and Pillow as shown in Modern Quilts Unlimited, Summer 2014

And here is the “practice” quilt I made first to work out the details:

modern quilt

Zippy Star I, which sold at the Asheville Quilt Show in September

As if one Michael Miller challenge weren’t enough, I made this quilt for another later in the year:MM-finish1

And finally, I finished this quilt, which I had been working on for years.  Literally.

Spring Sun, a design by me, using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern!

Spring Sun, a design by me, using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern

And that was it for 2014!  One thing that is obvious from reviewing some of these pictures is that I have improved my photography since 2014.  For which I’m thankful.

Coming up next: a report from the 2016 Vermont Quilt Festival!

 

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Projects 2013–Part I

For some time I’ve been meaning to add to my blog with a gallery of projects for each of the past several years.  I’ve been held up in part by the variable quality of my photography over the years, but I’ve decided to just start anyway.  Here are some projects from 2013.

I entered several national contests in 2013, the year I also started this blog.  Here is the quilt I made for the Quilt Alliance TWENTY challenge and chose as the header for my blog:

Rising star art quilt

Rising Star, made for the Quilt Alliance TWENTY contest in 2013

I made this quilt for the Michael Miller challenge in 2013:

Michael Miller Challenge 2013

Packet of Posey Seeds

And I made this little quilt for the Pantone Challenge:

Applique quilt

Radiating Orchid mini-quilt for the Radiant Orchid Challenge

I attended some wonderful classes with Laura Wasilowski in 2013, and made this little art quilt:

applique art quilt

Leaf, made in class with Laura Wasilowski

I did some “crafty” things in 2013, including chambray shirts decorated with orphan blocks and matching T shirts for a special baby and his special Dad:

Here are a set of placemats and two table runners from 2013:quilted placemats

leaf runner

table runner

Table runner made from a strip of leftovers

Also in 2013, I made an apron for a special friend and a caddy for carrying my iron to classes and retreats:

2013 was also a good year to make pillows for friends and to use up orphan blocks:

Well!  That’s it for special projects from 2013.  The actual quilts from 2013 are up next–more to come!

Winner! Online Quilt Retreat

I won a year-long online quilt retreat!  What the heck is that?

Lora Douglas of Dragonfly Quiltworks

Lora Douglas of Dragonfly Quiltworks

Here’s Lora Douglas, one of the teachers from the retreat, to explain.

This year-long on-line, quilt retreat is sponsored by “Adventure Art Retreats”, which was started by Ilysa Ginsburg and Kira Slye. They launched “Polymer Clay Adventure” as an online experience in 2015 and got about 1000 subscribers! They’re adding a quilt adventure for 2016.

There are 12 projects, one each month of the retreat. There will be classes for quilts, placemats, totes, hexies, fabric dyeing, laminating fabric and polymer clay buttons

Roxie bags made by Lara for her Quilt Adventure class

Roxie bags made by Lora for her Quilt Adventure class

.I designed the Roxie Bag as one of the monthly projects for the retreat, and I’ll be teaching it by online video. When I couldn’t find a pattern using flex frame hardware that was easy to make and looked great, I designed my own. It is perfect as a cross-body bag for carrying a cell phone and other small items.

“Quilted Adventure” is the online equivalent of a traditional quilt retreat where you meet other quilters while learning new things.  “Retreaters” can take a new class each month; participate in live-stream events with our host, Vanessa Vargas Wilson of The Crafty Gemini; receive monthly clues for a mystery quilt; and take part in swaps. There will be a newsletter to keep participants informed of upcoming events. The instructors will be available to answer questions throughout the retreat. It’s going to be fun!

Another Roxie bag--how many samples did she make???

Another Roxie bag–how many samples did she make???

I’m gathering my supplies, and I’m sure you’ll be seeing some of my projects here as I participate in the retreat.  For now, If you want to know more about Lora or the Quilt Adventure online retreat, here’s the link for her site. There’s a button there to click for finding out more about the retreat.  (Or, if you just want to buy a Roxie bag after seeing it here, her site has a link to her Etsy shop as well. I won’t tell if you want to buy it instead of making it yourself 😉

New Quilts from Old

This is a quilt I made a few years ago to practice cutting curves freehand. It never looked as good as I thought it should, for various reasons.

I loved the quilted leaves, but I thought the golds should have been more similar in value; the light ones stood out too much. It always bothered by husband that the curves didn’t line up from block to block. Anyway, it never got much use.

Then I decided I needed more placemats, and hit on the idea of cutting up this quilt into placemat size pieces (18″ x 12″).  So I trimmed off the binding…Placemat from quilt

And used my extra-big square to cut pieces 12″ x 18″.Placemat-8

Then it was time to search for binding.  Of course, I had no more of the fabrics that are in the quilt, since it was made several years ago.  Eventually, I decided on the second combination:

Here are a couple of the finished placemats:

Even some of the backs were interesting, and showed the quilting better:Placemat-13

There was only this much left over:Placemat-4

So, if you have a quilt that didn’t quit work out, maybe it would make good placemats!

Time to Start Christmas Projects!

I liked this block so made it into a holiday placemat

I liked this block so made it into a holiday placemat

“Christmas in July” isn’t an excuse for a party if you’re a quilter, it’s the way it has to be if you want to give a finished product rather than a promise on Christmas Day! Placemats make great gifts and there are so many options that you don’t get bored making them. Here are a few ideas.

LeafPlacemats all labelledIn general, a rectangular placemat needs to be about 12″ x 18″, though variations from this can work just fine.  One Christmas I looked up some cute Christmas block patterns and made one of each, the added borders to make them placemat-size.  Each family member now has an individual holiday placemat.

One of my favorite ways to make placemats is to stack 4 coordinating FQs (fat quarters), cut them up randomly, and re-assemble them.  I then trim to the finished size.  If you do this,

This was made by stacking FQs and cutting them randomly

This was made by stacking FQs and cutting them randomly

9Patch placemat labelled

This was a stack of FQs cut freehand to make a wonky 9 patch placemat

you’ll need 4 coordinating FQs for the placemat tops, about 1 yd of fabric for backing, and about 1/3 yard of fabric for binding, assuming you cut your binding 2″ wide.  You can cut the fabric as many times as you like, any way you like.  This is a good time to do some improvisational piecing since you’re only risking 4 FQs. If you want more than 4 placemats, add more FQs.

I gave my husband the woodworking shop of his dreams–on a placemat!

There are many placemat patterns available, but I’ve mostly made up my own.  Here are a few more pictures, including one showing my husband’s ideal woodworking shop.

Now, go make some placemats and send me pictures!

I couldn't resist these coffee-themed fabrics

I couldn’t resist these coffee-themed fabrics