Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oh, the Quilty Things You See...

Our weekly quilting and craft group meeting is always full of pleasant surprises. Last week was no exception. Deborah Johnston attened an estate auction and bought this scrappy pieced Star quilt. I can't recall, but I think the pattern is called Touching Stars. From the fabrics, I'm guessing it is early 1900s. The quilting is lovely... feather wreaths in the setting pieces, and a cable around the perimeter (detail photos below). Just one of the many fabrics used in this quilt has become fragile and shattered. And there is some staining. But it's a wonderful old quilt with a lightweight batting, so it drapes beautifully.

She also bought this sewing box. It required a bit of gluing to stabilize it, but it's now ready for use. The box was full of embroidery floss, which Deborah generously shared with group members.

And speaking of floss, one of our Nancy's (we have three!) bought this floss organizer at a tag sale for just a couple of dollars. It was filled with floss, meticulously organized using the DMC Floss numbering system. She gave it to another of our Nancy's who does a lot of embroidery. We all like flipping through this large floss book just to soak in the color!

And speaking of embroidery, Gwen is working on this sweet redwork project. She's used a large variety of prints in the geese that border the embroidered center. Yes, it was another good day at the Citra group.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

An Angel at Work...

This cute garden angel is a part of the row robin project I'm participating in with several members of my quilt guild. Participants exchanged bags recently, and each bag contained instructions for the quiltmaker's theme along with several yards of background and accent fabrics. The bag also held the quiltmaker's first row. Once we get a bag, we're on our own to come up with a row that measures 54" for that quilter's project. We can use our imaginations and our fabric scraps to stitch the row. The first row for my own quilt is shown here.

I got Normajean's project in the first exchange, and her theme is angels. I'm pretty partial to angels, too, so had fun coming up with the elements for my contribution. I can show you this piece because she's not online, so there's no chance she'll see this angel before all the rows are completed and returned to her. And it's just one part of the row I've made... there's more. The pattern is a block from a sampler published in a long-ago issue of Sampler Quilts magazine. The published quilt was titled "My Favorite Things" and made by Dottie Williams of California. This angel was so appealing, going about her gardening duties. It's done in fusible applique with machine blanket stitched edges.

Don't you just love to sew? Me, too.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Most Welcome Visitor...

Florida snowbird Shirley Frew came to visit our weekly quilting and crafting group in Citra last week, and she brought her amazing appliqued quilt with her. Shirley worked on the blocks for this quilt over the course of seven years, and if you study the detail in her work, you'll understand why years were required. In addition to masterful hand applique, Shirley added embroidered and inked details. The pattern is "Little Brown Bird" (AQS Publisher) by Margartet Docherty. Margaret's quilt was a prizewinner. And so was Shirley's version, earning Best of Show award at Gennessee Valley Quilt Club's show, her home guild in upstate New York. The beautiful hand quilting was completed by Ruth Yoder, of Maryland.

Shirley's label, above, tells the quilt's story, and the blocks speak for themselves. Just look at the cording she deconstructed to weave the basket in the first block show below. So feast your eyes! We were so happy Shirley shared her beautiful quilt with us, and she gave me permission to also share it with you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Featherweights Out in Force...

My Featherweight sewing machine is finally up and running. I brought it to the quilt retreat last week because I knew that Debra Johnston, whose husband Johnny is The Old Sewing Machine Man, would be at the retreat. She uses these machines often. So I relied on her assistance to set up and thread my machine. She had a few pointers and also loaned me the wonderful acrylic sewing table, which they sell, seen in the photo above. It fits the machine nicely and really makes a generous surface for piecing blocks. I had several straight stitch projects to work on, so this was a good time to make friends with my Featherweight. I'm glad I did. These little workhorses are so light that they are easy to carry to sewing sessions and classes. So I'm very happy the machine is now seeing the light of day. When we looked the machine over, we discovered a seal on it indicating that it was made during the centennial year for Singer, 1951.

Mine was not the only Featherweight on retreat either. Debra had hers, at left, and was using a vintage sewing table with it. Norma Jean nearly always uses hers, and she stitched the cute Cat In The Hat quilt seen at the bottom of this post, for a relative. And I used mine to stitch some of the Sticks blocks, made using insertion strips, that I showed in this post.

Those sticks blocks are showing up all over the place it seems. Arlene pieced several at the retreat, and added them to her "Friends" quilt, shown at left. And there happened to be a group of 8 art quilters who were also on retreat at the conference center. We enjoyed touring their sewing room to see what they were working on. Once again, I spotted blocks with insertion strips, wavy and bright.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Quilters.. They're the Best!

What could be more inspiring and productive than three days at a quilting retreat? Nothing to do but sew, sew, sew. There were more than two dozen of us who gathered at a Florida conference center on a beautiful lake to work on our projects and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. My sewing room looked like a ghost town by the time I'd packed up everything I needed to transport. Now it's all back, and my projects took quite a few steps closer to completion while I was away.

The green scrap quilt top above is the one I'm making as a "stash buster" and will use for a donation quilt. It uses bits of all of my green fabric collection. Several of us each had a different fabric in mind, which in our thoughts, decided might not work at all well in the quilt. And yet, when the whole thing was put together, we concluded that a mix of fabrics has a way of blending and just can't miss. It just proves the old saying of "the more, the merrier." I'm happy enough with the top that I plan to make one in each color family. The pattern is a free one titled "Wickedly Easy" from the website ByAnnie. Instructions are well-written and easy to follow to make the quilt in a variety of sizes.

I never cease to be amazed by the creativity and perseverance demonstrated at our guild retreats. Just look at this lovely batik quilt made by Debra Johnston. The way she allowed the gold to break through into the borders really adds a unique look to her quilt top.

And here's a peek at just some of the projects my fellow quilters were working on. Eddie Mock was using gorgeous Asian prints in a Shadow Box quilt, at left. Dot Reeves completed the binding on her Dresden Plate quilt, below right. The blocks are large at 20" square. Sharon Medley worked on her mustard and black Strip Stacks quilt by G.E. Designs, below center. It's another great pattern for 2 1/2" strips, or Jelly Rolls.

We all admire Jan Smith, who is a prolific quilter. She completed this lovely chocolate and aqua block-of-the-month sampler quilt and also worked on the sweet flower quilt made using '30s prints. It has lots of accents of hand embroidery.

And Victoria Jandreau, who participates in several online groups, completed this eye-popping Snail's Trail quilt top she began several years ago. Victoria calls it Summer Salsa.

And this is the tip of the iceberg! A lot gets done on retreat, so there is much more to feast your eyes on. I'll share more photos in another post.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Is There An Award for the Most Projects Underway?

Because if there is, I might be a contender. I'm getting packed up for a quilting retreat with my guild. One of the things I love about quilt retreat is that it forces me to look at all the projects I've started, and decide which ones will get some focused effort poured into them during the three days. And one of the things I don't like about quilt retreat is that it forces me to look at all the projects I've started! There are many. So here's some of what I'm taking along:

1) the flowers on the black & white quilt above need to be thread painted.

2) these Plate blocks need to be machine quilted in preparation for joining in a quilt-as-you-go method. Meanwhile I got some free-motion practice in the centers, using fill patterns from Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting blog. I was given some pieced fan units made by a freind's mother long ago. They had to find a home, so I joined the units in color families to make the blocks. I love the old fabrics.. such fun to look at and study.

3) the redwork (a long-term handwork project still a ways from completion) will require Flying Geese units and pieced blocks for the borders and setting, so I'll work on them.

4) I'm going to see how well all of the green fabrics in my stash can play together. My goal is to reduce the many fabrics I have by cutting them into strips and making donation quilts. Our guild is very active in making donation quilts... there is a great need. So this will make good use for the fabrics I've accumulated. I hope to make one from each color family.

Plus, there is binding to stitch; Home of the Brave blocks to piece; and lots more. It's always inspiring to have three days of concentrated work on quilts with other quilters. Our meals are prepared for us. Nothing to do but sew! That's not so hard to do.