Saturday, April 30, 2011

Monochromatic/Native Quilt and Quilt show goodies...

I can't think of much else more luxurious to me than getting to go to a quilt show, without kids!  I got to do just that today!  I took lots of pictures, but since it runs through tomorrow, I won't be posting any until after it's done!  The one exception though is the "all done" picture of my Monochromatic, or "Native" quilt, hanging in the quilt show! 

Since Susan asked, here's my fabric binge from the show too!  I guess I was in a bit of a brown mood LOL!  I certainly have those mug rugs on my mind, and you can tell just by looking what my 2 favorite drinks are... coffee and beer.  My husband and I are not quite "foodies", but we both enjoy great food (and beverage) that is affordable, which to us means hand crafted.  My husband occasionally brews beer from all grain, and I'm the coffee roaster in the family.  Buying the raw materials and making them ourselves is not only very satisfying, and delicious, but saves us a lot of money as well!  I'll be making a quilt or mug rugs / coasters from these for sure!

The same vendor had a ton of fabric with Southwest motifs, as she and her husband are snowbirds, and just left their home and shop in Arizona to go back to their home in Washington state.  I had fun talking to her about the thriving quilt industry down there, which I was clueless about, but now makes sense to me, as there are so many retired people from colder climates down there.  If it were me, I think I'd be outside all day in the winter though, too busy hiking and such to quilt.  That's one thing I love about the PNW, and Michigan... both are places which kind of force you to hibernate for the winter, which makes for great quilting!!  I am also a total sucker for batiks, love love love wildlife, so pretty much have most wildlife batik prints that can be found in a 2 hour drive's radius, so when I saw the SW animal batik fabric she had, I just couldn't resist some of that too.

The glorious floral applique quilts always are among my favorite, but I have yet to get into that quilting style (maybe next year....), so when I saw these Kaffe Fassett panels, I had to get them too (my first ever Kaffe Fassett fabric)!  Stay tuned to see pics from the quilt show in the next day or 2!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My first mug rug, and WIP Wed.

Not only have I been admiring the fabric postcards in "blog land", but these cute "mug rugs" have also captured my interest.  I started this one a few months ago, but finally got around to binding it last night!  Yea!!  I love it, and it's new home is right beside our main computer!  These little quilting projects are SO satisfying.... a perfect way to procrastinate!

But I have some quilting deadlines, coming up, so I've spent today making binding and ironing up the 2 backs I have ready for 2 quilts.  I'm hoping to get the Supernova Quilt and the Japanese Quilt all pin basted today, and the binding all done on my "Native", or Monochromatic Quilt done.  Wish me luck!

I'm also linking up with Freshly Pieced blog for WIP Wed.  Come join us!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My New Addiction: Fabric Postcards

I've been admiring fabric postcards on blogs like My Sweet Prairie, and Notes, but wasn't quite sure how to make them.  With a little help from my friends (que Beatles soundtrack), and some internet research, I finally took the plunge and made a few.  I have a ton of triangle squares left over as scraps from my Supernova quilt, and have been playing around with these the last week or 2.  I'm now officially addicted!!!  I also got out my double sided fusible interfacing, and now have a big chunk of it fused to my ironing board cover.  Dang it!  But it's in really bad shape anyways, so I'm taking a break to go out and get a new cover...

Over the week-end we went camping on the Umatilla National Forest, South of here.  My husband took the boys turkey hunting (unsuccessful) during the day while I tried my hand at gold panning (also unsuccessful) or read a book on my new Kindle.  It is a beautiful campsite and we had the whole place to ourselves.  The only downer came in the form of snow on Easter morning...  That gave us a lot to dry out and clean up later when we got back, but now our pop-up camper is all clean and ready for the next trip!!  I hope you all had a great week-end as well!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day! Reusable fabric shopping bag tutorial

In honor of Earth Day, I thought I'd share a tutorial on how to make a reusable shopping bag.  I've been making these for years (my own pattern).  I think they're great, because they can be stuffed inside of my purse, and also can be easily washed when they get dirty.  Of course using these helps reduce the amount of shopping bags that get made (and thrown away).  Very green!

I cut a piece of fabric 15 inches by 36 inches for the bag part, and 2 strips 2 1/2 inches by 24 inches for the straps.  I've learned that it helps to cut the straps "across grain", or crosswise, so that when they get washed they don't get as wrinkled.  Of course you can always use webbing from the fabric store for the handles too.

I fold the handles lengthwise, wrong sides together, and sew a seam.  I have a serger, and love it, so I used that, but you can do this on a regular machine too.  I like to finish the top edge of the bag with my serger, but you can do a zig zag, or just turn under a 1/4 inch and top stitch as well.

I then turn the tube right side out, and edged stitch along both edges.  I hate to iron, so I keep a little bowl of water next to my machine, dip my fingers in it, and kind of pinch/twist the seam to the edge right before I sew.

Then I pin these straps to the upper edge, 1 inch down at 4.5 inches, 13.5 inches, 22.5 inches, and 31.5 inches.  I tape masking tape to the top of my cutting board to help with the placement.

Then I turn down the top an inch, flip up the strap over it, and pin.

Top stitch twice along the top to catch the straps and finish.
They I fold the bag in half, right side together and sew the side seam.

All that's left to do is to make a "gusset" on the bottom by folding the (folded) sides in 3 inches on each side.  You just flip them over..  so you have 4 layers of fabric.

I sew the bottom seam, flip it right side out, and it's ready to go!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Supernova Quilt top done, Quilt for Japan, and other progress...

My Supernova Quilt is all done.  Now I need to make the back, then quilt it all.  And honestly, it's ironed!  I always pre-wash my fabric as soon as I bring it home, then iron before cutting.  My iron is a super-cheap $20 model, really old, and starting to flake out on me, so it doesn't work that well, but wow, when I looked at the picture those wrinkles really show on the solid white :-O!  Oh well...

I also almost have the quilt I'm making for Japan done.  I think I'm going to add a second border of brown.  I also remembered that the blue fabric that's in this is some that I bought from a quilt shop on Magazine Street in New Orleans, right before Katrina.  Sadly the owner passed away just a few years after Katrina, much as my dad did.  The personal stress of these disasters has an impact that just can't be measured. 

As for the quilt though, I am a bit undecided as to what to do with it.  I was going to donate it to the Quilter's Newsletter group, but the city we live in is sister cities with Minamisoma, Japan, just a few miles away from the nuclear power plant.  Here's a link to a story about it.  Many people here are trying to raise money to send them much needed supplies (including dosimeters), so I may try to instead try to donate it to raise money for that effort.  I still need to look into it, and am just now finding out about the local group involved.

I also have 4 (!) quilts signed up for an upcoming quilt show here in town in 2 weeks.  This will be the first quilt show that I've ever displayed my quilts!  I'm excited!  It's non-juried or judged, but is still quite a nice show for a town this size!!  I'll be helping hang quilts and setting up as I did last year as well.

We spent a lot of the week-end getting our yard all in shape, after a brief visit from our Portland family, including our 2 year old cute-as-a-button nephew.  The garden is almost all ready for Spring planting!  It felt really good to use our electric mower, knowing it was powered by the same energy source (solar) as what powers the grass!  I'm not at all fond of mowing, but it sure is nice to see that green grass!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reflections About Art

Last night I got to attend the Open Regional Art Exhibit at our local art center...  I've spent quite a bit of time lately volunteering with this particular event, and it was so nice to finally see the "fruits of our labor".  So many people helped out, and I was just one of many, but oh, what fun I had!  I'm so glad they asked me to help out!  There are over 60 local artist on display.  The exhibit runs for a month if you're ever close to Pendleton, Oregon. 
The above picture was taken while I helped "hang" the exhibit.  Definitely a first for me!  In the deep South where I grew up, we really didn't have a school art program.  I'm so sad to see it get chipped away here in Oregon, and across the country in general.  I can't really say that I ever had a formal art class until I went to college.  So I find myself at the age of 43 for really the first time reflecting on what exactly art is, and what it means to people, how we judge it, and create it.  I'm kind of sad that it took me so long to get here, but glad that I'm here now....

Just one little reflection from tonight is that we each see art from so many perspectives.   It means something different to each and every one of us.  Our individual life histories influence what we like and don't like.  I loved listening to all of the different conversations around me at the art opening tonight... what people liked and didn't like.  It was interesting to see what the judge thought was worthy of award, and what wasn't.  It takes so much courage to put yourself out there and be judged by everyone (at least for me it does... my "New Orleans" Quilt is part of the exhibit).  I can honestly say that each and every piece of art there is something that makes me happy.  What a wonderful thing!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Supernova Quilt, Japanese Quilt, and gardening...

I finally feel all caught up on the Supernova Quilt-a-long.  Here's the blocks all done, waiting to be sewn together (hopefully today).  This is only my 2nd scrap quilt, but I'm rapidly falling head over heels for them!  I can barely wait to start another!

Since I'm all caught up, I got out my Japanese Quilt.  IF I can get it done on time (I'm hoping blogging about it will help), I'm hoping to donate it to Quilter's Newsletter's collection that they have going on right now.  Got to get busy!

We had a great week-end, and I'm starting to realize that my quilting stuff will soon be taking up less and less time, as I spend more time in the garden.  The kids are counting weeks (!) left until summer, so once these quilts are done, I'll probably be sewing and blogging less and less.

Luckily my husband is at work today!  We're still waiting for the final federal budget vote later this week before we relax a bit.  I am so grateful that he has a good job, and that he's at work today!!!  We all really do depend on him a great deal, and while I sometimes get frustrated not being able to continue my career with his, at times 24/7 schedule and 2 kiddos, I sometimes forget that in return he has to shoulder the entire weight of providing for all of us financially.  I really do appreciate it!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Getting caught up on Supernova

I've been trying to get caught up on the Supernova Quilt-a-long over at Freshly Pieced Blog. I must admit that this quilt is coming together nicer than I ever expected! I've rarely used white in my quilts(2 boys in the house, ya know), but now I'm thinking that I may have to end this aversion and start using it more! It really makes the color pop! The more I sew, the more excited I'm getting, which is good, because I've been doing a lot of sewing!
 The instructions for the quilt use all squares and trim the corners off. I decided to add an extra seam in the blocks to create what will be tons of tiny triangle squares. I'm pretty frugal, and wanted to take advantage of all of this "waste" trimmings. I can't wait to play around with them, but first I need to get a bit more caught up!!!

It's Fabric Tuesday, so I'll be linking up with Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday as well! Come join us!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mono, Bliss, Supernova and I was in the paper!!

I got all of the quilting done on my monochromatic quilt over the week-end!  The nice big arm on my new machine helped me do a ton of straight line quilting in the center blocks!  It took me much longer to do the straight stitching, and there were a few times that I wondered if I should have, but in the end, I just LOVE the way it turned out!!  Only the binding is left to do now.  And now that it's not part of the monochromatic quilt contest, I want to come up with a better name for it.  It was inspired by robes and leather work that's displayed at a local museum of Native Americans, so I'm thinking "Native", or "Tribal", or "Feaux Leather"...  Any other suggestions?

My kids had Friday off from school last week, and the museum has a wonderful new exhibit that opened that day, so we went there, I again admired the bead, basket, and leather work, and we all enjoyed ourselves very much!  They don't allow pictures of exhibits, but I did take these pictures of a wild bird rehab center that had an informative session that day, and a picture of the outside back of the museum that I took from the cafe where we ate lunch!  What a view!!

After finishing the "Mono Quilt", I got my "Bliss" quilt out to finish.  Right away, I started having problems (after nothing but smooth sailing with mono)!  I'm starting to think that the Bliss quilt should be renamed too, because it's been anything but blissful quilting it.  I started to wonder if the quilting pattern that I'm doing may be part of the problem.  Or the fabric?  Or the white thread (I've tried 5 different spools!)?  My old machine gave me problems on the quilt, the new one hates it, and I'm starting to wonder how I will ever get it done!  I started taking my frustration out on the quilt, and decided then that it was time to put it away yet again!  Any ideas out there?  Ugh!!

I don't know about you, but when I get frustrated quilting something, it's time to change gears and do something fun, like starting a NEW QUILT!  Here's the "Super Nova" quilt that I'm doing with "Freshly Pieced".  I'm using up all of my batik scraps.  I was a bit concerned about how it would come together, and without the entire pattern in front of me, made some assumptions when I cut out the fabric initially, and cut all squares.  I was about to quit after realizing I'd made a bad assumption, but found some fat quarters in my stash that I could use instead.  Now that I can see it coming together, I'm glad I stuck with it.  I think it's going to be a beautiful quilt!

My last bit of news is that I WAS IN THE NEWS!!  Our local art center wrote up and submitted an article about my Med Tech Quilt!  It was in the local newspaper last week!  It's the first time ever that I've been in any newspaper!  Here's the link!  Whew hew!!