Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's An Early Delivery!

Here it is, my very first quilt block design!

It's like birthing a baby, I tell ya! Well, it doesn't hurt as much.

This A Scarlet Thread Scrappy Scottie was a challenge for me in every way. From the drawing of the pattern, to calculating the cutting measurements, to execution, it pushed me to my limit. Which is a good thing. Everyone needs to be challenged every now and then!

There are still a few adjustments that need to be made, such as his nose. I think it needs to be a bit bigger. And the pieced border? Forget it! What a pain! Really, stitching together 1 1/2 inch strips and cutting them to fit the, no. Never again. But that's okay because I think a border done in four different fabrics will be just as cute.

I am working on getting this pattern* done in a PDF file so that you, our A Thread of Red readers can make one for yourselves. How cute would this be as a baby quilt? Two wide and three tall? Cute, cute. Maybe pink Scotties for a girl and the black for a boy. Actually, I can see this done a lot of different ways! Red and white would be adorable! Eek, the possibilities are endless.
I think I rather like this designing thing. :)

*As this is an original design, I would ask that you honor it and use the pattern for personal use only. Please do not sell the pattern or items made from it. Thank you for understanding.

Monday, April 27, 2009

In Process.

Before the fabrics shown in the previous post can become a something, a plan needs to be created. That is what I have been working on this weekend- a plan. The process of creating a pattern has many, many steps. What starts out as a cute idea, a sweet drawing on a slip of paper, turns into a huge monster of drawing and erasing, laying out and, even worse, math. I'm not such a fan of math.

I have put my tablet of graph paper through the mill this weekend. What began as a simple line sketch has transformed itself into a 5000-piece puzzle, right before my eyes. Laying it out, breaking it down into sections that will be easy to stitch together, assembling it over and over in my brain before it is finally put to paper, this is the stuff that creating and madness is made of.

Thank goodness I didn't decide to do something complicated for my very first pattern! I would never do one again. But this one, challenging as it has been, will turn out just dandy. A little fine-tuning and it will be ready for transfer to fabric in a day or so. Cross your fingers.

As you can see, I have given you just enough to tease and peak your curiosity. With a little courage and a whole lot of faith, I will finish it by the Friday deadline. And for the Scarlet Strippers, I'll bring it with me to strip club Saturday. Maybe. It all depends on how it turns out.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What Do.....

This and this......

And these, the scraps from my Chain, Chain, Chain quilt, make?

Tune in next Friday to find out. Until then, care to venture a guess?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Just Curious.

We had a little conversation the other night about sewing and shoes, particularly if you are a shoe-wearing sewer or not.
The general consensus, from the three out of four that were sewing, was that they wear their shoes. All the time! Once they go on their feet, they do not come off.
Here's the proof:

Then there was this gal, who kicked off her shoes and drove her machine with her socks on! Rebel.

How do you sew? With shoes or socks? Or, are you like me.............

Bravely barefoot.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Miss Mary's Charm School.

I had the privilege of attending Miss Mary's Charm School class last Friday night, from 6:00-9:00 PM. I had a wonderful time. This is Miss Mary. She looks sweet, doesn't she? Don't let appearances fool you.

The premise of the class is this: you bring your sewing machine, and any other quilting tools you feel you will need, your choice of fabric and a willingness to be led along the garden path. Why? Because the class is built layer by layer, a mystery unfolding like the cloth before you. It's devious, I tell you!

You are given the directions for cutting first.

The result is a stack of fabric squares and a tidy pile of scraps. Mmmm, I love scraps. I think they are so pretty all rumpled together. Plus, they rather spark the imagination as to how to give them a new purpose. I'm sure there is one out there for even the tiniest of pieces.

Next step in the still-unknown project is to pin, pin, pin. You know how much I love pinning! So do the Charm Girls!

Then the sewing begins, and the Charm Girls are still in the dark as to what they are creating, other than it is a quilt top. All the while conversation is flowing, laughter is bubbling and the curiosity level would have killed a cat within a mile of the shop.

These tops were being made for sons, grandsons, daughters and friends. I love seeing what everyone puts together. It inspires me to make bold choices that I normally would not make when choosing fabrics.

For this project, the Charm Girls could choose between a precut layer cake stack or cutting their own. The above is Mary Engelbreit's Recipe for Friendship, one of my favorite lines. Totally cute stuff. Once the stitching is done, it's time to lay out the blocks in order. Miss Mary kindly gives a guide for laying out the pieces. Not everything can be a mystery! Aren't these tiny frogs from Lakehouse Dry Goods adorable?

Sometimes the layout process can prove to be a bigger challenge than first thought. Directionality of the pattern on the blocks makes assembly a bit like putting together a 5000 piece puzzle in fifteen minutes.

But, it can be done!

Wendy finally conquered her Taxi blocks to make her quilt top fit snug as a bug in a rug.

Finally it is time to sew the blocks and rows together, press the seams and magically the quilt top comes together right before your eyes.

What? You didn't think I was going to spoil the surprise did you? I will give you a hint- the name of the pattern has something to do with this buttery, delicious treat.

And lest you think that all the Charm Girls came to quilt, I give you Evelyn's hands, knitting furiously to make a sweater with some lovely terra cotta colored yarn. Creativity knows no boundaries and Miss Mary's Charm School encourages it on all levels.

If you get the chance to attend a class with Miss Mary, you will be guaranteed to be surprised, entertained, encouraged and fed emotionally and physically. But most of all, you will be surrounded by a group of women who you will grow to love. I think that is the best thing of all.
To see what projects are scheduled for Miss Mary's Charm School, please visit the A Scarlet Thread website. There is bound to be something there just for you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Feed Sack Frenzy.

Well, I did it. I made another quilt top using Chain, Chain, Chain. I love it to bits, I tell ya!
I used some of the reproduction feed sack prints from A Scarlet Thead, as well as some that I picked up from other sources. I thought the more varied the prints, the better.

To give the quilt a more modern edge, I used black as the dark accent fabric. I love the graphic pop it gives this top. I also chose to make the sashings from the prints as opposed to using a light solid. This pulls the sashings into the blocks themselves, making the lines blur a bit and allows the chains to really stand out. The white squares are the wrong side of a pillow ticking with tiny pink flowers. I did use it on the right side for a few sashing strips.

While I love the top, there are a few places where it could be improved upon. I learned a few things while making this, like never set your sashings at midnight when you are tired and your eyes are blurry. There are quite a few places where, in this scrappy-pieced quilt, like patterns happen to be very close to each other, but I think that the overall look is pleasant enough.
I like the fact that this top is strictly my point of view. It just goes to show that, while you have a pattern in front of you, you can take liberties with it and make some of your own rules. Be a rebel! It also gives a pattern much more versatility, more bang for your imagination buck. It makes me want to go through my other patterns and see how they can be reinterpreted.
I believe that the possibilities are endless.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Step Right Up!

I've been making my strip club quilt this week. Each day I would make a block or two and today I have the top nearly completed. All it lacks are its borders. It was a very fast quilt to put together, but I would not say it was easy. Matching up corners of the blocks made for some tense moments I tell you. I felt a bit as though I was making tiny stair steps, leading to a small garden maze created by the blocks. And you don't want to make a wrong turn in a maze!

I'm rather liking how it is turning out. The red is not an exact match, but it gives the whole quilt a rather vintage feel to it. As I am a fan of vintage things, that is a-ok by me.

It's a good feeling to have this one tucked under my belt so early in the month. I am usually up until the wee hours of the night trying to complete my top which renders me useless the next morning when we meet to show our quilts. This time I will be fresh as a daisy!
Now, can't you just see this quilt done in these reproduction feed sack prints?

I think I may see another one in my future. ;)

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Common Pin.

In my collection of quilting tools are a variety of pins. Steel common pins, brightly topped pins, small sequin pins, long flower-headed pins, pins I have made with Shrinky Dink plastic, safety pins and more. They are useful, needful objects for any home sewer and especially quilters. Like tiny, sharp fingers they hold fabric together freeing your hands and making it easier to sew. They allow you to match and hold points accurately. Well, as accurately as possible. Pins are easy to take for granted.

It wasn't always so. Back in the 14th and 15th centuries pins were scarce and costly. Women in England would save for an entire year to purchase plain pins, the sale of which occurred on the first two days of January only by Parliament rule. Their savings became known as pin money, a term still used today for dollars saved for a purpose, like fabric for your stash.

Pins in the early years of our own country were kept in safe places, either in a small box or stuck into a pinkeep. Over the years pinkeeps have gone from small pillows stuffed with wool or sand to much more elaborate and decorative items. The pinkeep above is one I made from a rose pot weighted with flax seed and sealed with a layer of felted wool. The bulb is silk ribbon, hand-stitched and stuffed with raw wool fleece. The lanolin found in the wool prevents steel pins and needles from rusting. I don't really use this one, it just adorns my sewing room.

This little chicken was purchased in Paducah, KY at the National Quilt Museum. I just love it. I keep it on my sewing machine and jab pins into it while I sew. Oh, poor thing!
While I can make a quick trip to the store to replace lost pins, I do try to keep them safely tucked away. If I drop them, I make sure to pick them up before I sweep or vacuum. They are only thrown away when they become bent or broken. I have pinkeeps and containers all over my sewing room to hold them. I think I might be a pin addict.
What about you? Where do you keep your pins?

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Scarlet Strippers Strike Again!

Saturday morning found the Scarlet Strippers bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Why? Well, because that was the day we shared our completed quilt tops for strip club! It is like Christnmas waiting for the girls to open up their quilts and spread them out for us to view.
My favorite part is seeing what colors they chose. Each quilt top speaks to the personality of the maker. Here are the completed tops from last month's Stars Aligned challenge:

This quilter has her quilt nearly completed, hand quilted, mind you!

Stars Aligned done in Mary Engelbreit's Recipe for Friendship line. This might possibly make me want to do another one.

No wonder Cilla is smiling, her quilt is bright and cheery! Perfect for Spring.

Soft blues and orange make for a stunning piece of workmanship!

Quintisential pink perfection make for quite the quilt confection. Her son was not amused. ;)

Another joyful yellow and green delight. Yellow was the hands-down favorite choice for the background of this quilt.

After the quilt show, it was on to the reveal of the newest pattern. This month? Chain, Chain, Chain. Now, tell me Aretha Franklin didn't just pop into your head?

Karen explains the step-by-step process until we all know what we are doing.

I always take a few photos as a guide for construction. You would not believe how handy these photos are when it comes time to sew!

And, Ta-Da! The completed sample quilt made by Harriet the Amazing Sample Quilt Assembler. Isn't it beautiful?

I have already started mine. It is nothing like the sample, but that is just fine. When you put your own twist to a pattern, the result is a quilt that speaks to your personality, individually yours. That's what makes quilting so much fun.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Goods.

Yes, more Shop Hop stuff! One of the benefits of going to Shop Hop was the treats that you received at each shop. From fat eighths to fat quarters, boxes of safety pins (great for quickly basting a quilt top!), tiny pouches and even scissor charms, each bag that was handed to shop-hoppers was a delight. The time and effort that went into each and every one is amazing.

And, of course, no quilt related event would be without quilt patterns! I think I have enough to keep me busy until the end of next year! I'd better get crack-a-lackin'!

I tried to be good about spending my dollars on things I knew I would use. I just didn't give myself a time limit on when that would occur. Take these two sweet pieces of Japanese import fabric from Intown Quilters. How cute are they? The little pigs (who speak French, by the way) and the tweeting birds will one day adorn a cute outfit for a grandchild. What? Yes, I know my children aren't married yet, but they will be one day. And yes, they are at that age.

Vintage feed sack reproduction prints made my heart go pitter-pat, each fat quarter more cute than the next. Once I have enough, I will use then in a quilt. Until then, they will be darling nestled in a basket on my sewing table. The two Civil War reproduction fabrics will be used to repair a quilt made by my great-great grandmother, the reason I am learning to quilt.

I had to buy these fat quarters at Little Quilts. The rooster reminds me of my grandmother's kitchen. Up over the stove hung a larger-than-life rooster my grandmother had created from paper and feathers. It was absolutely beautiful and these prints would definitely have found their way into her kitchen had she seen them. I'm thinking an apron will be just the things for these 1940's inspired prints.

And now for something completely different. This is my version of the Strip Club quilt which is due Saturday morning. I chose cocoa brown and a grassy green for my background and accent fabrics. I love how it makes the square-in-a-square pop. I have two more rows and then the borders and the top will be complete.

This started as a challenge, nearly taxing my skills to the maximum of their ability. But, I think it and I have reached a happy medium- it lines up where necessary and I don't cut it into bits. Now that's a compromise.