Monday, December 31, 2007

One more quilt top in 2007

Here is another all batik quilt top that I am lukewarm about. I thought I would really like it but I don't think there is a "resting place" for the eye. It seems too busy and too multicolor. It is 77" x 96". Once again I just worked with a pile of fabrics that were stacked together, I didn't "choose" my combination carefully. Next year I will do a better job. What is on my basting tables? I finally got a border on the Star Trip and I have started basting.
What am I quilting? I had this little piece waiting for me for almost 2 years. See how it ripples after quilting?
See how kittywampus it is? This is where most people panic.
All it needed was a steam press from the wrong side and it looks great. I'm contemplating putting some of that bead trim on it.
See you all next year!!!

How much should I buy? part 2

I can see this being a 3 or 4 part subject if you can all bear with me. Thank you for all of the comments which I will address today. I am posting this picture of the blue strip pieced Kaleidoscope again to make a point about the number of fabrics in a quilt. I know a lot of people are more comfortable if they know they just have to buy 5 blue fabrics in a range from light to dark. I try to encourage people to get several fabrics in each of the value ranges to make the quilt more interesting. This quilt has 5 different sets of strips that lean all the way from periwinkle to aqua and I think that is what gives it such liveliness. Becky said she used to buy 7 yard pieces on the advice of a mentor and Joyce asked how much do I buy for backings. I buy most of my backing fabric when it is 40%-60% off and I buy 4 yards for lap quilts and twins less than 87" long with the seam going crosswise. For longer twins (up to 96") I buy 5.5 yards and seam lengthwise. For double bed size 80" wide or narrower I buy 7 yards and divide into thirds and seam crosswise. For queen size I buy 8 yards, again 3 pieces seamed crosswise, and for a square king (not CA king) 9-10 yards depending on its size. So Becky you have some good backings there or borders and fabric to put in the blocks. Longarm quilters will want a little more than I need so check with them for how many extra inches they like on all edges.

I have always found that if I have ingredients on hand I will cook/bake more often. I think it is the same for fabric. If I have a good selection on hand I will make more things. I like to store my fabric on open shelves so I can see it. Out of sight, out of mind. I have a lot of students who tell me they will just buy more fabric because they don't have their fabric all in one place or organized in any manner. That is kind of like telling me you keep the sugar in the bathroom, the flour in the bedroom and the chocolate chips in the family room. Only by organizing what you already have, will you know what you need.

Candy said she keeps large amounts of the fabrics she likes best on hand. I do too. I have been collecting (and using!) batiks since 1990. Sometimes the collection is overwhelming if I look at it all at once, but when I am looking for just a certain kind of green, I'm glad I have what I do.

Mrs. Goodneedle said she had been on a fabric diet because she has a lot of fabric. I think I am in the same category but I will still buy at a good sale. I also think half yard fill ins for the gaps is a good policy and is also good for our mental health. Vicki W mentions seeing too much good stuff in the past few years. I agree there have been some wonderful prints out there, some "have to have" things.

I will post one more time this afternoon with one more quilt top made last year, so til then.........

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The visitors I was looking for

Here is Mr. Woodpecker in action. He wouldn't turn his head so I could get a picture with the red spot on the back of his head. Mrs. Woodpecker I guess because there is no red spot on her head.
And big red himself. It took 3 tries for one to stay long enough for me to get the camera on and set for no flash.

How much should I buy?

I started working at quilt shops in 1979. I have heard the question over and over, "How much should I buy?". A lot of it depends on the type of quilts you like to make. After that it is a matter of whether you want to accumulate a stash to work out of or do you just want to buy for each specific project that you want to make. Do you like a lot of variety or do you only work in blue? I will address here the person who wants to build a stash to work out of. First of all, buy it when you see it, don't depend on it being there when you come back. With the price of gas and the shortage of time, why would you want to make two trips?

When the quilt revival started in 1976 it was slim pickings. By 1980 the companies were really producing a variety of little calico prints. Around 1986 larger prints were introduced into the quilt shops. Many of your old prints no longer looked good with "new" stuff being offered.

Most people fall into the fat quarter or half yard category. This will work for you if you like a lot of different fabrics in one quilt. If you like the lightest color to be consistent all through the quilt, buy 3 or more yards of it. Borders cut in one piece on the lengthwise grain will take anywhere from 2.5 to 3 yards. Borders cut crosswise could take as little as a yard or as much as 2 yards.

The old rule of "if you love it buy 3 yards" works for some people. If you just need a little bit for fill in like orange or any little used color, buy just 1/4 yard of it. If you like quilts with just 3 colors you will need 2.5 - 3 yards of each fabric (minimum).

I believe in having a stash to work out of. Partially this is because I moved to a town that was 25 miles in any direction from the nearest large town. Also I like choosing the fabrics for a quilt at night, usually after 9 p.m., and can do it from my stash. I recheck the colors in the morning in natural light and I am cutting it before the stores open in the morning.

So, the answer really lies in the type of quilts you make. I know I like quilts with lots of fabrics in them so I know 1/2 yard will yield me 1.5, 2, and 2.5" strips with a piece left to cut into whatever shapes I want. I also know I could really get by with 1/4 yard and have none leftover.

If the comments suggest another post on this topic, I will do it.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Love Hate Relationship

I fell in love with one of the quilts in one of Sharyn Craig's books and then she came out with another book just about the block that made the quilt I liked. I decided to make my version of a Northwind Quilt out of all batiks. I liked it when I was working on it, I was lukewarm about it when I started to lay out the blocks. I really didn't like it all when I got the blocks sewn together. Why not? My expectations were not met. First of all I didn't plan the values (light to dark) to fall in the right places to get the effect of the one in the book. Second of all, I didn't choose the fabrics for the quilt, I just grabbed the pile of 1/4 yards pieces and made it out of them. I had set myself up for failure. This one is 72" x 90". I pulled the quilt top out several times to show to others, and the last time I opened it up, I loved it. I no longer had the vision of the other one in my head; I was just seeing what I had created.Here are close up pics of a couple of my favorite areas.
Lesson learned: enjoy what you are making for what it is, do not agonize over what it could have been.

In my next post I want to address the question "How much of each fabric should I buy?".

Friday, December 28, 2007

The scene today

This is just outside my kitchen window, taken through the window where I am nice and warm. This is what goldmound spirea looks like in winter.

Exciting mail

I went out to the mailbox yesterday and there was a large mailing bag in the box with the mail. I'm thinking to myself "But I haven't ordered anything". When I got it out I saw that it was from Canada. It was from Joyce. What a surprise!! I had admired this green one on her blog. If you go to her blog (click on her name) and go to her August and September 2007 archives you will see all of the bags she has made plus a link to the site she found the directions on. Actually I just found out that if you click on the picture it will also take you to her site. The neat thing about the shape of the bag is that the bottom is square instead of rectangular so something wider will fit in it. And don't you think the colorwash way she used the greens is perfect for me?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cleaning up my act

I started out the morning with my first smoothie made with the new toy. You can see it is really thick from the way the straw is standing up. LC commented yesterday about the heaps of stuff needing attention. I hear you. I kind of ignored the studio yesterday because this is how I left it 3 days ago. There is no way I can do anything until I clean it all up.
The sewing table isn't in much better shape. Things from the kitchen were brought in here before the Christmas eve party. A stack of books came in from the living room. There is even a pile of fabric on the chair so I can't sit down in there.
I had 2 gift certificates to the movie theater that were going to expire Dec. 30 so I have seen 2 movies in the last week, "Enchanted" and "P.S. I Love You". That kept me from having to clean up yet.'s chore......yes, I have to do it today. I could show you the result tomorrow, but how interesting is a cutting table with nothing but a mat on it and a clean sewing table with nothing but machine and scissors.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New toy

This morning I have to wash all of the pieces and parts of this new toy so I can use it tomorrow. I have had the same thing for breakfast every day for over 4 and a half years. I drink a smoothie with soy milk, orange juice, banana, and frozen berries alternated with a handful of Cheerios. I haven't had a cold in all of the time since I started doing this. I mentioned in one of my other posts that I eat to live, not live to eat. I like the routine of knowing what I am going to fix for breakfast so that I don't have to think about food. When I was remodeling the kitchen a year ago I really didn't miss the room that much other than for baking. Now you know how I get so much done in the studio; it's because I'm not in the kitchen that much.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


May you all have a blessed Christmas as we celebrate Christ's birthday.

I'm ready to eat breakfast and listen to one of my new CD's.
For those of you on the other side of the world, I hope your day was merry and bright yesterday.

Monday, December 24, 2007

One last tablerunner

While looking for fabric to back the other table centerpieces, I found 4 squares already done and the pieces for 4 more all together in a baggie for a tablerunner leftover from a class I taught. I decided I might as well finish it. I usually sew at night while I watch house hunters and decorating shows on HGTV. I used the featherstitch on my sewing machine to decorate the turned under edges of the pieces.
The family party is at my house tonight, so I'm off to concentrate on food.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas things

I found a piece white sparkly felt in the remnant section and decided to use my embroidery machine to make some little ornaments. After the embroidery was done I backed them with another piece of the felt, stuffed them lightly and added a hanger of ribbon or thread. I might add them as decoration on the packages. When I first had an embroidery machine (1995) I bought several of the design cards that you insert into the machine. This was one that I did in about 2000. It just lays on my coffee table and makes me happy.
The countdown is here, only 2 days left to get everything done. Checking my list, and checking it twice...........

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The First day of Winter

You would think that on the first day of winter, you would get a blustery storm. Nope, not here. We have fog for the third day in a row, 38 degrees this morning, and the snow is all melting. However.....they are predicting snow in the wee hours tomorrow morning.

I finished the three table centerpiece mats, made my Chex mix (in the little pails),
and made another batch of fudge.
Here is another place I hang some ornaments. We had 3 knobs left over after the remodel and my contractor suggested putting them up on the board across the bottom of the shelf. That was a perfect finishing touch.
Also hanging on the door knobs in my little baking corner are little wreaths made by a friend 20 years ago. They are circles of fabric gathered around a cotton ball and strung on a string to make a circle.
To Lisa who inquired how to make all of the spritz cookies perfect, and was there any secret to it: the 15% you called not so perfect are what I call the rejects to eat right away. I would be so disappointed if mine all came out perfect, because then I would have to save them all for company and cookie trays. The firmer the dough is, the better they will come out, so don't let the butter get too soft before making them.

Friday, December 21, 2007

More Pinwheels

This is another quilt with the folded squares that are opened up to be triangles when the blocks are sewn. I found a piece of fabric in my collection that was purple and coral and I thought it was such a pretty combination. I pulled all of the soft coral prints and a bunch of purple prints and started working on it. The design for this quilt is in a Mary Ellen Hopkins book, one of her Connecting Up series. I can't find the book right now. This is really kind of a strange but soft combination of colors and this one will be listed on my blog-shop a little later today.
Here is a photo from the other quilt, Pastel Pinwheels, which shows how the triangles are 3-D.
I don't put up a Christmas tree anymore. I hang ornaments from my lamps and any other available knob in the house. The first year I did this I think my grandchildren thought it was strange, but when I asked if they would help me take down the tree if I did one, they said no. They didn't think that was any fun either.
The 2 lamps allow me to hang some of my favorite ornaments of the past
I am going to make Chex mix today. I think the homemade version is so much better than the bagged stuff at the store. I'm sure it might be better for me than all of the cookies I have been eating. Fiber with flavor. I like that.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Strips that Sizzle

I was looking through old photos for more Easy Pieces quilts and didn't find any but I found a couple more of the Strips that Sizzle, which is also a technique designed by Margaret J. Miller. This first one I donated to the non-credit education office at our local community college. I started the quilting program in 1984 and taught for them for 15 years. I was so appreciative of all of the hard work of the department to find locations for the classes (usually H.S. home ec. rooms) and to continue to support me as a teacher. They had just moved to a new building and had lots of empty walls. This star was one of my favorite layouts and worked well for the students that didn't want to play forever with layouts.
This is a closeup of some of the fabrics in the top quilt and in the star on the right.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

168 different dotted fabrics

In September 2006 I decided to remodel my 1953 kitchen and have the hardwood floors refinished. I knew I needed a project that was bright, cheery, and all laid out for me to work on in that time period. A quilt like this one was on the cover of "Follow the Dots to Dazzling Quilt" by Segma and Crow. I was pretty sure I had most of the dotted fabrics I would need to make it. To make what they called the Scrappy version, I would need 168 different dotted fabrics. How many of you are surprised when I say I had that many on hand in my fabric collection? I have shown you my batiks. I haven't shown you all of my kid prints, dotted fabrics, plaids, and a few more. That would be sensory overload don't you think? So this one is still a top; I haven't decided what the border should be.

While I was cutting my one strip off each of the fabrics I cut 6 kits in groups of 3 sizes of fabric which students could then cut their pieces out of. I sold all but one, and I can't find it this morning, but if I find it later I will list it on my blog-shop.

Click on the picture for a closer view of all of the dots.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Using leftover blocks

I had made a red and yellow wallhanging and a purple wallhanging also from the Easy Pieces blocks. That was before I had a digital camera, so therefore no pictures. I had leftovers of both kinds of blocks and was determined to just use them up. I sold this piece earlier this year, as a quilt top. Just in case you think I really am only feeding the squirrels, I thought you should see I have other visitors to the suet cages.
I don't know what this little bird below is. He is white and gray and has a head that tapers right into his beak. They dart around really fast, almost like hummingbirds do, so this was the best picture I could get.
It has been really cold here so it is fun to just look out at the creatures. I will have to go out and refill some of them soon though.

Monday, December 17, 2007

New items in Blog-shop

I have added 2 new items to the Blog-shop, Wandaful Quilts.

Citrus Delight

This is one more quilt from the Easy Pieces series that I did. It is still a top and I will finish it and it probably will go to the Illinois Artisan's Shop for sale in the spring. If you click on Easy Pieces on my sidebar you will see 4 made from this same style block. I have one more top to show you tomorrow and I'll look for other pictures. Once I got the hang of the method I just kept making more groups of blocks. I still have one more group in burgandy, red, and pink that I haven't sewn together yet. I named this one Citrus Delight because it is so lime, orange and lemon.
Close up pictures of the fabrics, again all batiks, and almost all Hoffman's, my favorite brand of batiks.
I don't do mitered corners unless I am using a stripe, or if I am sewing all of the borders together before I add them.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snowy Sunday morning

Do you see that little blue bag about 3/4 of the way down my driveway? That is my Sunday paper and I'm on my way out to get it. It is sunny but cold, 18 degrees. We were on the very edge of the snow band so we didn't get much. This pile is from the last 3 snowfalls. The squirrels were so frisky yesterday, taking daring jumps from branches far away from their destinations. This little guy was eating just outside my kitchen window again.
When he gets a good size chunk out he has to come up to the branch and sit up to eat it. My cousin's husband calls them rats with big tails. I have seen rats and mice in my days of living on a farm, and believe me, squirrels are a lot cuter!
Amy mentioned the other day in the comments about the edges of Candy is Dandy being all bias. Yes they were and so are all of the edges of the Easy Pieces technique by Margaret J. Miller. When you get done with these pieces you need to stitch a line of stay stitching around the outside edge of the quilt top a little narrower than your seam will be if you are adding a border.
This piece is going into my blog-shop Wandaful Quilts. I will have another one to show tomorrow after I finish the border.