Saturday, May 31, 2008

Good mail day!

Nothing like coming home from a winning Brewers ball game last night to discover that I had three brand new quilting magazines waiting for me: Quilter's Home, Quilters Newsletter, and Quiltmaker! That's what I call a good mail day (as opposed to those when you only get perhaps a bill or a junk mailer addressed to "occupant").

Add to that the fact that I had received two quilting magazines in the mail two days earlier - American Patchwork and Quilting and Quilting Arts - and I've had a pretty good mail week and have loads of quilting inspiration (apparently I am a magazine addict!).

If only I could actually make some time for quilting! This week has been totally taken over by reunion planning, but once reunion is over (15 days, but who is counting?), I should have significantly more time to devote to quilting once again. Yippee!

I did do a bit of sewing last weekend and attended Batik Club at Patched Works on Tuesday night with Tamara and will post some photos of that tonight... I hope (assuming that the reunion to-dos don't take longer than I'd like).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sewing one's fingers...

is not what one is supposed to do with a sewing machine. But I did it for the first time tonight - I sewed my own finger!!! That was the thing that I feared the most about sewing when I was a kid: I was afraid of the sewing machine because I couldn't figure out how one didn't sew in a finger (the serger was even more scary - couldn't one cut off one's hands that way?). But in all of my time sewing, I've never actually caught my finger in the machine (and I'm somewhat surprised that it hasn't actually happened before).

Don't ask me what I was doing tonight - just doing some simple piecing, which is why this makes no sense - but all of a sudden my machine made a weird noise and I felt some definite pain in my left middle finger! Upon closer inspection, I saw that the machine needle had broken in several spots with the tip on the bed of the machine, part of the shaft through my finger, and the remainder still attached to the machine.

I think I got lucky because it really only went through a small portion of my finger. I don't think I even did any cursing. I just pulled the piece out, showed it to Ben, and then sucked on it to stop the bleeding. A small bandage did the trick, but I can see the little spots of blood from the in and out holes of the needle.

After applying the bandage, it was right back to piecing. Nothing like getting back on the horse, right? Perhaps I should start a club for those who have sewn themselves into their projects! Anyone else a member?

Four Seasons Quilt Swap

Inspired by my participation in our local round robin exchange, I signed up for and got into my first quilt swap. I'd read about the Four Seasons Quilt Swap on a couple of blogs that I read regularly, and it looked like they had a good time creating and receiving quilts from some individual they'd never met. And this would be a new way for me to challenge myself as a quilter and to grow as well.

The scale is small - between 16 and 20 inches square, and the deadline is the end of July, so I figure this is doable. The quilt has to represent summer in some way. Other rules, if you're interested in what is going into this, are here.

I received the information about my recipient earlier this week and have had some fun this morning looking over her blog to get a sense of her tastes and what she might like. The quilt has to represent some aspect of the season of summer. I have some ideas, but I'm curious: what does "summer" mean to you? Stay posted for progress updates and sneak peaks.

Friday, May 23, 2008

My Round Robin

After months and months, I finally got my own round robin quilt back (yes, I did finish my final round of sewing all the way back in January). It's not actually finished yet - I'll have to finish a bit of machine applique - but it's back in my hands and I'm thrilled with it. The only down side is that it has gotten so large that I don't know how I'm going to manage quilting it. It really requires custom work and I'd planned to quilt it myself all along, but I'm not sure that I can do it justice under my home machine. It's now approximately:

This is the block that I started with. I had NO IDEA that I would end up with a quilt so different and so beautiful. I honestly didn't know what to expect, which was the exciting about the entire thing. I so thank all of the women who helped in creating a unique quilt that I will treasure forever.

Close up of Michelle's Block

Thanks to Lisa (I'm linking to the images in her webshots album), I've got pictures of the quilt in each of its stages of progress, which you've probably never seen before because I wasn't blogging back in those days.

Round 2: Caren framed it and set it on point.

Round 2

Round 3: Lisa added applique.

Round 3 Michelle's quilt

Round 4: Sandi added a pieced border (not triangles).

Round Robin Meeting-Round 4 Sandy

Round 5: Julie framed it and made a label.

Round 6: Caroline added a triangle border.

RR 6 Triangles Michelle

Round 7, as shown at the top, was an anything goes border, added by Lori.

Isn't this wonderful? While I found the round robin to be stressful at times, I also felt it challenged me in new ways and forced me to think about design myself rather than simply following someone else's instructions. Some day in the future, you may see this quilt quilted (don't quote me on what year)!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Grocery Store as Quilting Source?

Two Saturdays ago I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics in the morning to pick up a few supplies for the workshop I took last Saturday with Ann Fahl (great workshop, I'll post more about it soon). I knew the newest issue of Quilt Sampler was coming out around that time, so I checked the magazine section at Jo-Ann's, but didn't see it. Figured I'd just have to wait a bit longer and would check back in a couple of weeks.

Who would have expected that I'd find the magazine later that same day - at the grocery store! I was in the card section at the local Sentry store and just happened to glance over at the magazines which are right next door in the same section. Lo and behold, there was the newest issue of Quilt Sampler! They also had a few other quilting magazines. Nice to know that I can sneak in a few quilting supplies on the grocery bill... (Actually, I subscribe to the others they had in stock, so Ben needn't worry.)

I love the quilt on the cover of this issue, made from the Minick and Simpson Prairie Paisley line. They offer a kit, which I am very tempted to buy. But instead I'm going to focus on making the kit I purchased at the Chicago quilt festival that also uses this fabric (the pattern is Suffragette, and I blogged about it here). Minick and Simpson have another line coming out later this year in a similar palette and if I still love this pattern then, I can make it from that line - American Primer. I did start cutting and sewing Suffragette tonight; I haven't really pieced in so long that it was incredibly refreshing to get back into it. I'm looking forward to more sewing time over the long weekend.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Quilt Gift

As a quilter, it isn't too often that I receive quilted items myself as gifts. Fabric, patterns, books, gift certificates: yes. But finished pieces for me? No. I suppose people figure I can make them myself. Which is true. And I love to do it.

So imagine my surprise when Becky, my student employee for the past four years, presented me with this small top when we had lunch last Monday! While she sews in the costume shop and does all kinds of other crafty things, this was her first attempt at making a quilt. Machine-pieced and quilted with hand embroidery! I feel so lucky.

As Becky knows, I do try to keep a seasonal quilt of sorts in my cube and I've been months behind in changing them and finally just resorted to a blank space where a quilt would go until I got around to finishing another one appropriate to the season (or dug through the pile and remembered to bring one in). But now I don't have to worry about it: this lovely piece graces my cube and will always remind me of this special and talented young woman. Thanks, Becky!

Graduation Blues

I'm writing today to share a picture of the quilt that I made for Becky Keber, a soon-to-be Marquette graduate whom I had the fortune to have work for me throughout her entire undergraduate career. Becky was one of those remarkable few students who seemed to be able to balance everything really well (with a full complement of things on her plate) and who was a tremendous asset to the archives. I am so sad to see her go but know that she's going to be incredibly successful in the internships she has lined up with theatre companies in the coming year and that it's time for her to move on to bigger and better things.

Becky's quilt is the Chocolate Decadence pattern from Jason Yenter's (of In the Beginning Fabric) Floragraphix I Quilt Designs book, made from fabric by the same name (Floragraphix I). I loved the browns and teals and thought they were hip enough that Becky would like them too. And the quilt is really much simpler than it might seem: it's set on point and every other "block" is really just a fussy-cut portion of fabric that looks like it has been pieced. Sandi once again did a beautiful job quilting it, although we decided that the thread blended so well (and the top is so busy) that it is difficult to tell that it has hearts and coffee cups all over it).

I took Becky out to lunch on Monday and I'm pretty sure she likes the quilt (whew!). And she turned around and surprised me with something herself...which I'll share with you soon.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A New Month, A New Post (Finally!)

Yes, I am still alive!! I just had to focus on some things other than sewing and quilting for a while. Bummer, I know. But hopefully it will be worth it in the long run. I'll keep you posted.

I finally got around to sewing the binding on this quilt I started at a retreat in November (my apologies for the photo - I thought we'd go outside to shoot them in natural sunlight, but I hadn't counted on the breeze). Sandi did a wonderful job quilting it for me (when does she not do a great job? it's impossible!) and it sat waiting for me to give it some attention for a couple of months. Like I've said before, I have attention deficit when it comes to quilting projects - I jump all over the place, but it does guarantee that I pretty much always have something in any stage that I might be in the mood for.

Mom and Dad got me the pattern - Butter Charm & Jelly by Legacy Patterns - from the Fat Quarter Shop online (as you know, my favorite online vendor) for my birthday last fall. I bought the fabric from Patched Works. The pattern uses both charm packs and jelly rolls and goes together incredibly quickly (even at 2 a.m.). I have some leftovers that perhaps I'll turn into something useful one day (famous last words).

The fabric line featured in this quilt Fresh Air by Chez Moi. I wrote about this line in a previous post, mentioning that Ben disliked it because it was a bit too busy. I'll admit that it is busy, but I still love the colors and am of the opinion that he doesn't have to like everything that I make.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!