Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Retrospective

Well, we are up to the last few hours of 2008 and I have to say that I am glad to see it go. We have had an interesting year, including 2 wonderful overseas trips, but have also had 3 major surgeries in our immediate family. I am thankful for all of the blessings of the year and that we have made it though the hard times.

I always try to recap the quilts of the past year, so here goes....

This first quilt was made for an Australian friend's daughter's wedding. She wanted it to be primarily blue, but with a contemporary look.

The next quilt was made for the same friend's son who married in October. I was told that they were planning to use earth tones in their living room and was very excited to remember that I had this top lying around waiting to be finished. The top was made as part of a Mystery Quilt project at my local shop, Dragonfly Quilt Shop.

This quilt was made for a family who moved from Athens to Boston to take up the Pastorate of a church in Dorchester. They told us that people pronounced the city "Dot - Chester" so I made them a Dot quilt to take to keep them warm during the cold Northeastern winters.....hope it is working!!!

The final quilt that I will show here is one that I am proudest of. It is a design that was inspired by a stained-glass window that I saw in the Mysore Palace during our trip to India this past summer. I had a wonderful time designing and putting it together. It is probably one of my most favorite quilts ever.

There were also the two smaller quilts that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.

All in all, this has not been my most productive year as far as quilts go, but I have enjoyed quilting in other ways, mostly from the interactions of the wonderful friends that I have made thru this wonderful art.

Finally, I have had the honor to speak at several different venues during the year, including the Georgia Quilt Council Spring Convention, a meeting of my local guild, Cotton Patch Quilters, and also at the Lake Oconee Quilt Guild. I have also taught machine quilting workshops and given a "Using photos in quilts" lecture at Dragonfly Quilt Shop.

For 2009, I hope to put more energies into my quilting, both making quilts and teaching about them.

Anyway, I wish each of you a very Happy New Year!!!!!

....until next year.....

Sunday, December 28, 2008 and old

Well, the Christmas decorations are out of the house and stored in the attic again and we are now decorated for the winter months. The only problem with this time of year is that tax season is just around the corner (I am a CPA) and I know that my crafting time will be limited. So, I am going to spend as much time as possible over the next week and see what I can accomplish!!

One of my Christmas presents was the book “Loose Change” by Claudia Plett and LeAnn Weaver. It is a wonderful book about using 5 inch squares, 10 inch squares and fat quarters of fabric. One of the quilts uses miscellaneous rectangles of fabric that are 5 inches by 3 inches and are bordered on two sides by 1-1/2 inch strips of black fabric. These squares are then put together in alternating directions.

I am hoping to make this quilt using only scraps from my stash, except I know that I may have to buy the black....will have to see what is in the stash. AND, I may switch it to dark blue.....I know that I have a lot of it in the stash.

One of the reasons that I want to make this quilt is because of a tip that I recently read...... Most of you already know this, but when you are string piecing a series of patches, you can sew thru an un-needed scrap of fabric at the end of the piecing line rather than pulling your fabric out and having all of those strings to deal with. This also helps make it easier to start out sewing on the next set of patches.

However, I read that, if you have another quilt ready to sew, you can sew a patch from the new quilt instead of using a scrap bit of fabric. SO, my idea is to cut out all of the pieces for this new quilt and keep them by the machine. Hopefully I will be able to finish the piecing for the second quilt before I even know it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


First of all, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. It is such a fun time to spend with family and friends and it makes me truly thankful for my wonderful life!!!! Santa (and family) was good to me and I received several quilting and felting books so I have lots of ideas to try out sometime in the future.

I am currently quilting on a queen size quilt that has been a collaborative project between my Mother and myself. She is 85 years old and has been making quilts since she was 11. She quit after she married, but resumed when the Bicentennial Quilt Craze started in the 1970's. She does gorgeous hand work and also beautiful hand quilting....too bad it didn’t wear off on me.

She isn’t doing many quilts these days, but still enjoys hand applique. She uses wonder under to adhere the pieces and then covers the edges with a tiny blanket stitch.....most people think that she has used the sewing machine. Unfortunately, she doesn’t spend a lot of time in setting her blocks together so they don’t end up being shown as nicely as they could.

Several years ago, I took a class by Barbara Barber and purchased her book of applique flower patterns. Mom saw the book and fell in love with the designs. She took it home with her and quickly made 10 blocks. I designed an alternating block to go with her applique ones, and then requested that she make seven more. She obliged and I put the top together.

I actually made two sets of alternating blocks as I didn’t like how the first set looked. I also re-did the border several times to get it to look ok.

NOW, I have to quilt it. I am having a hard time coming up with ideas about how to quilt it, so I am starting by doing the stars in the ditch. We will see where it goes from there.

Here is a photo of the completed top.

It has been in my "too hard" basket for quite some time and I have been surprised that I have been enjoying quilting on it. Hopefully I can do 1/2 to 1 hour each day and get it finished up fairly soon.

Wish me luck!!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My New Toy

This past week I got an early Christmas Present.......a needle felting machine!!! I had decided to use the money from my Mom and M-I-L to make this VERY unnecessary purchase. I spent quite a bit of time researching them and finally decided to buy a “Janome Xpression”.

It is a machine that has five barbed needles that punch fibers together to form felt. I have done a bit of felting using a hand punch, but found that it took too long to finish a least too long for my tastes!!!

On the first day, I only had about 30 minutes to play, so I did a small flower on a black background.....nothing fancy. Yesterday, however, I spent some time playing with the different colors of roving that I had, along with several different kinds of yarn and decorative threads. The result is not particularly professional, but has worked to give me a good feel for the machine.

I took the piece that I made and cut it into two long rectangles and turned them into bookmarks to be given to two friends from my gym. I originally had punched a hole in the top of the felt and put a ribbon in, but became afraid that it wouldn’t withstand any pulling, so I ended up folding over the top section and stitching it together to make it sturdier. I was also concerned about whether or not the edges would eventually ravel, so I got out the sewing machine and sewed a blanket stitch around the edges.

Nothing fancy, but a fun exercise!!!!

Now, back to the UFO’s!!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008


The second UFO is a Christmas piece that I had started back in September, planning to take it to Australia to give to my hosts there. Unfortunately, the next day I found out that I had to have abdominal surgery which pretty much put me out of commission for the rest of the Fall, so I didn’t get it finished in time for the trip.

This piece has a moral to it..... I made the red blocks first and thought that they looked great. I then made the green blocks and pieced them together in the same formation that I had used for the red ones. WRONG!!!!! If I had spent a bit more time reading the instructions, I would have noticed that these alternating blocks were pieced in a different formation. I then decided “no problem, I will just make two quilts with opposite colors”. So, I re-made the green blocks and finished piecing the looked great.

Next up was to make the second top. Well, as I started looking at my fabric, I realized that I didn’t have enough of the green fabric to finish the second top!! So, I decided to nix the second top for the time being and put the extra blocks back in with the Christmas fabrics.

I struggled with quilting this piece as nothing seemed to look right, so I finally decided to just quilt a few straight lines with monofilament thread and call it finished. I gave this one to a friend as well.

I realized that I needed a small gift for yet another friend, so decided to take two of the extra blocks, add borders and turn them into potholders......thanks to Anita Heady for the idea of using leftover blocks to make pot holders!!!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

UFO Number 1

I decided that the first of the UFO’s that I would tackle would be a small wall hanging that was started in a class several years ago. The workshop was given by Debbie Frey and used the “Scrap Happy Spools” pattern. I had selected shades of blue for the piece and had only finished 2-1/2 of the 12 blocks needed for the top.

I truly enjoyed spending an evening finishing the squares and setting them together to make a cute small quilt. I dont particularly care for paper piecing, but found this project to be fun. As I stitched, I decided to give the quilt as a gift to a wonderful friend who wants to make quilts, but cant find the time at the moment.

I needed to quilting to be fast and easy so chose a variegated blue thread and did a free form swirl over the surface.

I am pleased with the result and my friend loved it!!!

One UFO down and 17 more to go!!!!

THE FIRST POST.....hopefully many to follow

I have decided that today is the day to start keeping a "quilting and other stuff" diary and publish it as a blog. Wish me luck!!!!!

This past Fall I had a conversation with some friends about how many Unfinished Projects we each had hidden away in our quilting studios. I responded that “I don’t have very many” and then started wondering whether or not I had just told a fib. As I started trying to list them in my mind, I realized that there were actually quite a few. So, 2 weeks ago I cleaned out my studio from top to bottom and found ALL of my UFO’s.....I was shocked at how many there were.

I started to make a list of them and then realized that I had done this many times before and would promptly put the list somewhere where I could forget about it. So, I got the idea to make the list in a different way this time. I got out my camera and photographed each of the projects, along with any fabrics or other stuff that I had put aside for it. Then I printed out two sheets of paper with nine photos on each paper (that’s right.....18 UFO’s) and pinned it to the cork board in my studio.

The plan is that I will slowly work thru them and mark them off of the list as I go. We will see how well it goes!!!!
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