Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Behind the Scenes...


Well I found out what's behind all those numbers and symbols on the sewing machine. Have you ever taken the time to stitch out all the decorative stitches on your sewing machine? That was the groundwork of an online course I'm taking on Craftsy called“Stupendous Stitching” taught by Carol Waugh. Before getting into the fun of making the class project which I'll show in the next post, I first explored the decorative stitches on my Bernina by making this stitch reference. Class instructor Carol Waugh had us stabilize fabric rectangles, and then sew rows of the numbered stitches in order. We also varied the width and length of the stitches just to see the effect, and numbered each stitch

It was a time investment that yielded a very useful tool. So often the stitch images shown on a machine or a reference card bear little resemblance to the actual results. Now I can see what they look like, and I confess I had never even glanced at many of the available stitches before. Next Carol showed us how to assemble these stitch samples into a booklet to keep handy by the sewing machine. She even made a pretty cover for hers, but I was too anxious to get to the project so mine remains cover-less for now.

While I missed the mark and wound up with pages that vary in size, it won't diminish the usefulness of the project. There are nearly 200 stitches, but taking the time to sew all of them was well worth it. It's easy to spot favorites, it helps to know which stitches use up a lot of thread or take a lot of time, and it provides a great visual tool for sewing. I have the stitch settings for a couple of often-used stitches like the buttonhole and feather stitches memorized, but now I can vary the stitches I use by glancing through my stitch dictionary and making an informed choice.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Two More Blocks for February...

Amy Gibson at Craftsy has presented two more blocks in her free block-of-the-month class. The one above is "Balkan Puzzle" which is also known by other names. When I took the photo, I couldn't recall what Amy titled the block, so I saved it under the name I remember which is "Wind Blown Square." She notes yet another name of "Wind Blown Star." Since both blocks are made using half-square triangles, Amy demos two easy methods for piecing them in her class video. 

This block is called "Chunky Chevron". I'm really liking the prints in the Free Spirit "California Dreaming" fat quarter bundle purchased to use for this project. However, I need to get more of the cream color background fabric. I don't have enough left to piece the remaininig monthly blocks. You can see the companion blocks from January in this post. The Craftsy online class also features places to discuss, ask questions, and post photos of the blocks. It's always interesting to see the fabrics and color combinations other quilters select for their projects. All good quilting fun!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

And the Winners Are...

This striking "Purple Pineapples" quilt by Vee Jenkins earned first place in the Large Quilt category at the Stepping Stones Quilters' show.

"Da Market" was the artistic entry by Ruth Lightbourn that was awarded second place in the small quilt category.

Junko Yamaguchi made "Ulu and Happy Family", which earned second place in the large quilt category.

Vee Jenkins also won first place in the small quilt category with this quilt, "Butterflies for Baby." Below is a view of Trinity Methodist Church where the show is held each year. A lovely display of a wide variety of quilts. Well done!

Monday, February 13, 2012

More from the Quilt Show in the Bahamas...

The short walk from the ship's pier in Nassau to the church where The Stepping Stones Quilters' show was being held presented us with lots of color to whet our appetites. These vibrant paintings adorned the sides of buildings along our route.

 The first display that met us inside the show was the group quilt challenge. The rules for the entries included using 5 different fabrics (linen, wool, cotton, silk, and synthetic) and 5 different embellishments, plus an ovoid shape. Here are the creations of some of the quilters.

From this spiny "Lionfish" by Lisa Knowles, that even included sand and small shell embellishments, to Faberge Eggs, to undersea life ... the group really exercised their imaginations which is what a challenge is all about.

There was Viewer's Choice voting in several categories, and for the challenge category, Lisa's "Lionfish" was the winner.

My apologies... after checking my notes I realized I had incorrectly credited the Star-in-a-Star quilt, shown below, in my last post.. it's actually the work of quiltmaker Junko Yamaguchi who had many beautiful quilts exhibited.

Quilting friend Maria Chisnall is a driving force behind The Stepping Stone Quilters Guild and the quilt show, which has been held for more than 20 years. Five photos of her work are shown below. One thing that impressed our traveling band of quilters was the variety in techniques represented by the show quilts, and Maria herself employs many different methods in her work.

This bed-size quilt was large enough that I was unable to capture all of it in a single photo. This is just the quilt center, featuring piecing and applique. The quilt also had a wide white inner border with a scrappy pieced outer border.

Maria had several entries in the wall quilt category. I found this one especially appealing, and like her use of color, along with the use of stripes and florals in the sashing.

  Maria, who has some Scottish ancestry, also created this series of seasonal Scottish landscape studies.

I learned from Maria which were the winning quilts in the other categories, and will share them here next time.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Quilt Show in The Bahamas...

Fourteen members of Country Road Quilters, our Ocala, Florida, quilt guild, went on a cruise recently. Our main reason for choosing the Carnival Fascination out of the Port of Jacksonville was because the itinerary would take us to Nassau, Bahamas, to attend the annual Stepping Stone Quilters' show. We were delighted by the variety of quilt styles and techniques displayed by this talented group. While it's a small group of about 20, the guild members manage to hang more than 60 new quilts every year. Here's just a sample of what we saw. I've got lots more to show you, including some of the Viewer's Choice winners. It was hard to choose a favorite from the many beautiful quilts like this one. Bright, happy colors abound in the Star-within-a-Star quilt, above. It was made by quiltmaker Irene Knowles.

Also by Irene, "Going Overboard with Androsia" is made using some of the hand-printed and hand-dyed fabrics from Androsia Batiks on the Island of Andros. The fabric company is known for designs inspired by nature, sea and plant life of the Bahamas.  You can see some of the batiked designs in the detail photo below- turtle, shells, fish- done in clear, bright colors.

This quilt which combines piecing and applique is a fund-raiser made by the group members.

One feature of the show which everyone enjoyed was the guild boutique. The group offered grab bags, totes, purses, knitted items, notecards, and notions. The striking Churn Dash quilt hung on the wall behind the boutique. More photos of this wonderful quilt show coming soon. What a treat it was to see and appreciate the work of The Stepping Stone Quilters! Everyone agreed that we need to visit here again.

Friday, February 3, 2012

More Treasures from the Cardboard Box...

Isn't this a happy quilt top? It's another one from the treasure box quilting friend Claudia received from a family member. Those plaids and shirting stripes look right at home in this Glorified Nine Patch top (also called Improved Nine Patch). Notice how the yellow fabric in the melon pieces changes color... the quilter used two different yellows to complete her quilt top. Both lively and bright, one is a bit firmer weave than the other.

Here's where the rest of that yellow went... right into this Double Wedding Ring top. Studying the fabics in old quilts offers endless fascination in my book. I think these two tops are on Claudia's list to finish, along with the red Grandmother's Flower Garden shown here.

And I did some research to learn the names of these blocks, also shown in the earlier post. The closest names I can match up are these: top row, left- A Diamond Field, or variation of it; top row, right- Eccentric Star, also called Dutch Rose; middle row, left- Caesars Crown, also called Whirling Wheel; middle row, right- Ladies' Fancy; and bottom row- Star of LeMoyne, or 8-Point Star. The Enclyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman is the source I used to find the blocks. What a wonderful resource for quilters! All of the blocks are catergorized by type, and the search is guided one to ensure that it's easy to find a block among the thousands that are documented as to design and source. I'd like to try making a replica of each of the blocks.... except for Eccentric Star. That one is just too much for me!

I'm trying an experiment... post-dated publication of a blog post. If all goes well, you'll be reading this on the blog starting on Thursday, at which time I should be attending a quilt show in Nassau, Bahamas! Fourteen quilting friends are off on a 5-day cruise from the Port of Jacksonville on the Carnival Fascination with stops in Key West and Nassau. We plan to spend the at-sea days learning some new quilting techniques... hand work only, since there are crafting guidelines and limitations on what can be brought on board in the way of sewing tools.