Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cooler Places - Ocean Waves!

We've had a string of triple digit days here in the desert.  We are parched!  This definitely does not help with the wild fires!  We are hoping for the monsoons to start so we will get some much needed rain.

In the meantime, we quilt until we wilt!

The quilt at the top of my blog is my Ocean Waves quilt.  It was made from a fat eighth exchange in a scrap group a few years ago.  During this exchange, most people were exchanging medium and dark fabrics.  Sooooo, I decided to be the one to provide us all with lights/neutrals to go with the mediums and darks.  Of course, I cheated -- I gave myself not only the fat eighth in the exchange, but whatever remaining fabric I had purchased that month so I could build up my stash of lights/neutrals.

I also challenged myself to make a quilt from just the fat eighths being exchanged with few additional fabrics. Since I had always wanted to make an ocean waves quilt and the fat eighths seemed to lend themselves to smaller pieces, it seemed the perfect way to use them.  In one of my magazines I found an ocean waves that had a printed grid for the half-square triangle units, but where I used the larger triangles to complete the block, the pattern in the magazine called for an alternate miniature block.  I think it was a mariner's compass which I did not want in my quilt.

It is one of my favorite quilts and lives in the loft of our house where I see it every time I come up the stairs.  The loft is also where I have my collection of Noah's Ark things.  Here in the middle of the desert, we do what we can to have water around us to cool us off?!?  I don't know, it just worked out that way.

Each fat eighth gave me two blocks for the quilt.  Although some of the fabrics were not what we normally would think of as water fabrics, I noticed that when flying over the ocean, there were many colors seen or reflected in the water, so they work for me.  There were a lot that had tans in them which certainly fits with where the ocean hits the beach sand.

When the blocks were done, it was time to figure out what to do for the borders.

For the inner borders I decided to extend the larger half square triangles into the border leaving a trapezoid to be filled in.  I had the PERFECT fabric which I cut into trapezoids.  Unfortunately, I forgot and added only 7/8" to the dimension I needed.  OOPS, I cut all of them and they were -- yep -- 7/8" too short to fill the space.  All the PERFECT fabric was used up, sooooooooooo off to the quilt shop(s) I went in search of another PERFECT sand-like fabric.  Do you know how quickly quilt shop employees leave you alone if you tell them you are looking for fabric that looks like sand along the beach where the water has swirled it.  I can tell you!  Pretty, darned fast!  In looking for the inner border fabric, though, I found the PERFECT "water-meets-sand" fabric for the outer border as well as several different possibilities for the inner border.

 I think what I found works as well as the original PERFECT fabric.  Sometimes mistakes work out okay.

The border works, don't you think?  The outer border is quilted with a clam shell shape.  The blocks are quilted with straight lines through the half-square triangle units.  It is a quilt that takes me to the ocean whenever I look at it.  Like today when it will be at least 110 degrees.  Imagine cool breezes and waving palms.  Ahhhh, that feels better.

Where do you go to cool off? 

Until next time, quilt 'til you wilt! 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sneak Peek

You know that I use scraps of time for my quilts which means that I try to utilize as many time saving tricks as I can.  One of the best came from Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville when she introduced her leader and ender technique.  Instead of using a scrap of fabric over and over to start and end stitching to avoid the thread nests that can happen if you don't use something, she uses two pieces of fabric for a future quilt sewing a seam.  It is amazing how many pieces you can get sewn together using this technique.  All of the 4-patches for Jeff's quilt were made as leaders or enders while I was making Blue Skies and Sunshine, the quilt featured in the latest NQA Quilting Quarterly.  What a bonus that is to complete one quilt with so many parts of another already stitched together and NO thread nests!

While stitching Jeff's quilt together, I was making stacked brick units.  Since I already had 2-1/2" strips cut from scraps left from other quilts, it was a simple matter to cut them to size in scraps of time.  I'd leave the strips on the cutting table and when I had a few minutes, I'd cut them to the proper size.  The 1/4 square triangles took more time as they start as an odd-sized square.  If I had used 1/2 square triangles, each row would have a bias edge and that's never a good thing.

These are the resulting brick units minus the 54 that are already on the design wall.

Here is another view showing just how many are left to go on the design wall. I'm chain piecing the rest of the brick units  needed for this quilt that will, I think, end up queen sized.  I may need more bricks!

Yesterday I put the first 2 rows of stacked brick units on the design wall.  One leans to the left and the other leans to the right.  While sewing these, I was very careful to sew every other block so that it would lean to the right and every other block so that it would lean to the left.  It was a simple matter of sewing the triangle to the rectangle with the point to the top for one unit and with the square part of the triangle to the top for the next unit.  It sounds more complicated than it is and since you need half leaning left and half leaning right, it seemed the easiest way to keep the number even of lefties and righties.

While sewing Jeff's quilt I was using black thread so there are probably a lot more dark bricks in these two strips than will be when I finish stitching the lighter rectangles.  At that point, I'll start swapping lights for some of the darks.  I just couldn't wait to get some on the design wall to see what it would look like.  There will be strips of fabric between the rows, I think.  Some design decisions just haven't been made yet.

Here is a closer look at the bricks.  Of course, they are not sewn together, they are just laid edge to edge and none too straight, either.  Since the outer edge is on an angle, it wasn't an easy task!

It really does look like a herringbone pattern in colorful bricks, doesn't it?

This one has nothing to do with the stacked bricks quilt.  This is a test block for some 8-pointed stars that I'm hand piecing while waiting places or riding in the car.  The points aren't perfect -- it had been quite a while since I had hand pieced 8-pointed stars.  That's the reason for the practice block -- make the mistakes there so when you start the real deal, it works out better.

The stars will be in another strip quilt as alternate rows between rows with vines and leaves appliqued from scraps.  Those strips were made while I demonstrated how to do vines and leaves in workshops.  It will be a colorful quilt.  Soon I'll post the alternate strips.

See how using all those scraps of time work out to make quilts?  It's a good thing.

Until next time,

Thursday, June 23, 2011


On the 3rd Tuesday of June 1986, I attended my first Nimble Thimbles meeting.  Nimble Thimbles is a chapter of the Arizona Quilters Guild.  We had just moved cross country from Iowa and were not even in our house yet.  Five of us were in the 2 bedroom apartment Gary had been living in since February when he officially started working in the Phoenix area.  The kids and I stayed behind to sell the house and to finish out the school year.

I had used part of the time to research the quilting community in AZ and had already joined AQG and Nimble Thimbles.  The past president of the NT chapter, Karen Ewart, had been very helpful.  She had given me directions to the meeting place and informed me that for the first time, the group was meeting during the summer.  That was good news as I had been extremely active in the quilting community where we lived and was not looking forward to not knowing any quilters until Fall.

At that first meeting, I met Joyce and Diane among others.  Being summer it was a small gathering.  Joyce and Diane had joined the group in March on the same night and were forever after always being called the other ones name.  Through those meetings, Joyce, Diane and I became the best of friends.

We have made road trips to quilt shows, met in our homes, closed down restaurants with our late night meetings after Nimble Thimbles meetings, supported each other through our kids teenage years, celebrated our children's weddings, the arrival of grandchildren, held each others hand when we've lost loved ones and have generally become quilt sisters.

Diane made this wall hanging for me for Christmas in 1997.  The label on the back reads, " When I first saw this pattern, I immediately thought of you and knew I would eventually make it for you.  I also finally knew what I wanted to do with my dad's and Steve's old neckties.  Merry Christmas, 1997."  Of course, it is a treasure.

Here is a detail of the ties in the borders.  All those ties took a lot of time to take apart before cutting.  I had just made a vest for our daughter using my dad's and husband's old ties along with the fabric from her bridesmaid's dresses.  I know it took a lot of work to just get the fabric ready for the border.  Thank you, again, Diane!

The year before, Joyce had been going through a rough time.  I had taken a card and a box of her favorite candy to her office and left it with the receptionist.  There was a note on the candy that said, "Take one as needed and call me any time."   Joyce had the card duplicated on fabric and made wall hangings from them for our small group for Christmas.

The inside of the card read, "With a friend you're never alone."   A truer statement has never been made.  With our friends we can handle things we don't think we can by ourselves.

In the detail you can see the license plate, "Drive Carefully."

As Joyce about our trip to Paducah one year.  We were busy doing what friends do in a car and missed a turn.  Joyce got sent to ask for directions.  She was told we were WAY lost.  Part of the directions were to go to a certain point and "Daon't turn." That isn't a typo, we were in Tennessee where some words that are normally one syllable become two syllables.  We enjoyed our cross country trek probably more than the direct route we should have taken on the Interstate, but the words, "Daon't turn" have forever been burned in our memories.

Friends are such a special treat in life.  I hope you treasure yours.  Having lived in many different states, I've had the pleasure of making many fiends and treasure each of them.  Special friends like Joyce and Diane are forever friends who last through moves to other states and back again.

Joyce, Diane and me at the 42nd annual NQA Quilt show last week.  Hmmm, I should have photoshopped this to make us taller and thinner.  Maybe next time!

Thank you Joyce, Diane and all of you who are friends both "old" and "new".

Do you have a BFF?  I hope so, if not,  get busy and find someone who shares your values and interests and make some memories.

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NQA 42nd Show Wrap up

We enjoyed the Little Quilt Auction on Friday night.  The proceeds from the auction go to the NQA Grants program.  Many worthwhile projects have been funded through the NQA Grants programs throughout the years.  The bidding can get very spirited and lively at times when two or more are determined to purchase the quilt being bid upon.  One such quilt brought in $400.00 by itself and was made by an Certified Judge.

All the quilts were on the screen as well as being carried by a "worker bee" for all to see.

Joyce wanted this one, but it quickly went beyond what she was willing to bid.

The auctioneer was good at stirring the pot and getting people to "up" their bids.

Friends also were encouraging each other to bid higher and higher.

The group stayed until the last bid to pick up their booty.

Saturday found us putting labels on boxes that would later that night hold quilts to be picked up after the show and to be filled on Sunday with those to be shipped back to the owners.

Each box was numbered with the number of the quilt in the show and all numbers verified before the quilts went in the box to be shipped.  Each participant received a show book and the winning quilts also were packed with the ribbons won at the show.

There were a variety of boxes and tubes.  They were all different sizes depending on the size of the quilt.  A bit of advice to any sending quilts away -- buy a NEW sturdy box.  The shipping services and postal service are rough on the box and your quilt is precious cargo so treat it to a fitting container.

Diane Pitchford, the Show Coordinator had many responsibilities before, during and after the show.  She was constantly making sure things ran smoothly and did a superb job.  She has already begun work on the 43rd Annual NQA Quilt Show.  Do yourself a favor and start to plan now to attend.  You will have a great time seeing quilts, shopping for supplies, attending classes and events and meeting new friends.

All too soon Sunday came and it was time to go home.  My friend Joyce and I had such a good time working at the show and spending time with each other as well as with friends, old and new.  It is so much fun to see friends you have not seen for some time and find that your conversation hasn't missed a beat.  You pick up where you left off.  Hope to see you in Columbus next year, friend!

Until next time,

Monday, June 20, 2011

NQA Show Mostly Behind the Scenes

What an incredibly busy week it was last week at the 42nd Annual NQA Quilt Show!  Here are a few pictures of the aisles BEFORE the crowds came.  There were lots of vendors and lots of quilts to see! And my favorite?  Looking for friends!

The admissions booth before the crowds came!

A lull in the registration booth with NQA volunteers ready to hand out NQA show bags & books for those preregistered and those coming to register.

The NQA booth ready and waiting.

You could purchase Rebecca Barker show prints here, CD's of the quilts in the judged part of the show, NQA umbrellas, pins and so much more! 

The NQA Guide to Judged Quilt Shows book was available here. (It is also available on line!)

National Quilting Day was highlighted. See the log cabin quilt in the background?

Demos by Certified Teachers were held here.  The quilt on the right has a bead to show where the NQA chapters are located.

You could learn about the Certified Judge and Teacher programs here.

Then there were the vendors!

Don't you wish you could have shopped when the aisles were this empty?

Yep, more vendors were in this aisle.

And this one!

There were special exhibits.

And more special exhibits.

And a lot of quilts to see, yippee!

There were even stunning quilted garments.  I wanted the red and black one! Of course, it was there to be judged, not purchased!

President Judy Taylor introduced the winning quilts and announced our newest Master Quilt maker, Mary Buvia.  Her quilt was exquisite.  This is not an award handed out lightly!

After the preview party, the aisles looked like this!

And this!  Quilts to see, supplies to purchase and friends to visit with.  They came, they saw and they purchased all the fabric and gadgets they needed or maybe wanted!

I am NQA are YOU?

I'll add a few more pictures of behind the scenes next time.

Until then, quilt until you wilt!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

42nd Annual NQA Show

My friend Joyce and I got up very early Tuesday morning to catch the 6AM flight to Columbus, OH, with a layover at Midway in Chicago.  We arrived on time just fine.  Our bags, well, that's another story.  We were in Columbus at 2:30 PM, but our bags didn't arrive at the hotel until 11:00 PM.  Boy, were we relieved!!

This is the newly renovated room at the Hyatt on High Street next to the convention center where we stayed.

I am sitting at this desk right now writing to you!

This is the first stop in the morning!  Ah, Coffee after a short night!  What could be better?

Here is what we see out the window looking one direction.

Turning a bit, this is the view.  Lovely!  I love downtown!

We helped set up the NQA booth, printed and attached labels on CDs with multiple photos of each quilt in the judged show, stuffed the teacher goody bags among other behind the scenes tasks.

The theme this year is log cabin quilts and there is a separate display of just log cabin quilts as well as log cabin quilts that were entered in the judged show with all the other beautiful quilts.

The NQA logo is projected on the convention center wall next to Exhibit Hall C.

There was a lull at the registration booth for those volunteers manning the booth.

Here is Show Chairperson taking care of one of those last minute things most people aren't even aware of at a big show so that when you come to the show things run as smoothly as possible!

The Preview dinner was lovely.  President Judy Taylor addressed the group.  We also got to see a Master Quilt and it's maker as well as all the other 1st place quilts in the show.

After the dinner I worked in the NQA booth for the rest of the evening while those lucky people attending the preview dinner got to go see the beautiful quilts and visit all those vendors in the vendor area.

A busy, busy day.  We were tired, but what fun to be a part of the behind-the-scenes preparation for the show.  Hope you will be among those attending and that you will stop by the NQA booth to see the goodies there and meet members of the board manning the booth.  There will also be demonstrations by certified teachers.  If you are not an NQA member, stop by and join.  You will be glad you did!

Until next time,