Thursday, May 30, 2013

New Day, New Project, New Lily

So here's my inspiration block for Coastal Lily.  Before I go cutting all the fabric for a new project I always make one block.  Sometimes I figure out a different way to make a block from the pattern on that first block, not necessarily a better way, but a way I prefer.  Sometimes I figure out there are pieces I can make bigger then square up, which I always do when I can.  Sometimes I find a mistake in the pattern.  And sometimes I learn that the designer had it all figured out and all I have to do is follow the instructions, which is the case for this block.

This is one huge lily, 10 inches finished.

Someone asked if this block was paper pieced, nope, nothing but regular piecing on this block.  There are only 15 pieces to each block, so once I get the pieces and parts cut and pieced the assembly should be a breeze.

White, someone asked about my background fabric, I'm going with a Moda Bella Solid, Bleached White.  I think a pale yellow would have made a nice background too.

So there were a few new things to figure out with this first block, besides the regular piecing I needed to select a decorative stitch for the bloom berry stems and decide how I wanted to make my berries. It took awhile to make this first block.

Right off the bat there are a couple of things that I love about this block.  The bloom points float so I don't have to worry about cutting off those points when I assemble the quilt top, I'll just need to look out for the leaf points.  The stem is pieced  not appliquéd.  And finally, aren't those bloom berries the cutest thing?  I love circles, I would love to make a quilt with nothing but circles.

Just in case you've forgotten,  here's the pattern, Coastal Lily by Minick & Simpson.

And here's my fabric.

I have 105 more berries, 180 flying geese and 35 more lily blocks to piece before I can start assembling the top, I'll blog about my berry method and that decorative stitch another day.  Now that I have the first block done I won't have very interesting pictures to share until all the pieces and parts are done.  But I love my first block and it will literally be my inspiration block.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Carolina Finish

I put the finishing touches on Carolina and I could not be happier with this finish.  This top looks much prettier in person, it's was a dreary weekend here and this was as good of a picture as I could get.

The red fabric is a very pretty tone on tone leaf print, "Lately Arrived from London" by Barbara Brackman.  If I run across more I will buy it for my stash, it's a great red.

When I started on this quilt in March we had snow on the ground, the weather hasn't improved a whole lot but at least the grass is green and the snow has been replaced with rain.  That's one of my favorite things about blogging, to go back and read my posts from start to finish for each project.

I sure grumbled a lot while working on this quilt, and now I don't even know why, it wasn't hard and turned our perfectly. Maybe it was the weather making me such a grouch and not this pattern.

This is Lifetime Quilt Number 104
The pattern is Carolina by Bonne Blue Quilts.
It finished at around 90" x 90"
It has approximately 1,833 pieces.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Something New

So while I'm putting the finishing touches on Carolina, I'm already thinking ahead to my next project.  And this is it, Coastal Lily by Minick and Simpson.  I know what you're thinking, "Thelma, another lily quilt?".  Yes, another one!  Even though I'm just finishing one lily quilt, I'm in the mood to start another one.  For some reason I just can't get enough of these bloom blocks.

 This pattern doesn't have a date on it but I don't think it's a new pattern. The fabric Minick and Simpson used for their Coastal Lily is Wiscassat, I think that fabric was released in 2007. The good news, the paper pattern is still available from Minick and Simpson, click here for more information.  

So even though I'm doing back to back lily quilts, this lily quilt will have a totally different feel than Carolina.   For one thing, one bloom block in Coastal Lily is 10 inches, that's a big bloom, 3 times bigger than the blooms in Carolina.  I'm  going to use fabric from my happy bins for Coastal Lily, and that fabric has more of a modern feel to it, but I think it will suit this pattern perfectly and also give it a different look.

I spent the better part of yesterday selecting my fabric, and even though it was a rainy day, just playing with that bright fabric made me happy.

I'm going with a different fabric for each bloom.  For the leaves I'm going to use that stack of grays.  For the geese I'm going to use those grays and add navy.  The blossom berries will also be navy.  A lot of the fabric is from Bonnie and Camille's newest released line Happy Go Lucky by Moda.

If you were thinking about doing a lily quilt, but were a little scared off of Carolina by my constant talk of those fussy points and seams, you may like this pattern better. First off, those bloom points float, you don't have to worry about cutting them off when piecing the blocks together.  Also, the stems, ARE PIECED, not appliquéd, that's really appealing to me right now. And finally, no border to speak of, you really don't need any yardage for this pattern.  I think any type of fabric would work for this pattern, I think this pattern would look good with totally scrappy traditional fabric, or any 3 Sisters,  Minick and Simposn, Bonnie and Camille, Fig Tree, or even French General family of fabric.  Really, any fabric you've got laying around your sewing room would work.

Maybe this is just the pattern you need to make your own lily quilt!  Come on and join me, couldn't you use a few blooms in your life?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Looky Looky, Here Comes . . .

an almost finish!

Ta Da! 

All my Carolina blocks are connected.

Three borders and this one is moving to my Lifetime Quilt List.   I'm so glad I stayed with that sashing, I like it and think it will look even better once the borders are on, which should be by Friday, stop back by!

Monday, May 20, 2013

No Sew Weekend . . .

No sewing for me this weekend.  For the first time this year we had a full weekend with no rain.  I spent the majority of my weekend doing a spring's worth of lawn work.  Here's one of my azalea bushes, they're finally blooming.

I also swapped out a few quilts.   Bounce is back in the house.

And A la Mode is back on my bed.  I just love having these summery feeling quilts back out.

Have you been following the latest trends coming out of Spring Market in Portland, Oregon?  I mainly followed through Instagram, but Kimberly from the Fat Quarter Shop has the best pictures I found online.  (click here to read all about it)  From the outside looking in, it looks like Market is one big party with everyone having nothing but fun.   

One thing from Market that caught my eye was this is Fig Tree pattern, Sweet Caroline.  I'm moving it to the top of  my basket To Do list.  I'm not sure what fabric I'll use for my version, I know I won't be using Fig Tree fabric since that's what I used for A la Mode, the basket quilt currently on my bed.   

Kimberly at the Fat Quarter Shop shared this photo of Joanna unveiling the quilt at Schoolhouse.

Unlike most things at Market that aren't available for months, this pattern is available now, click here.

I'm hoping to get back in my sewing room today, the rain is back.  Rainy Mondays never get me down!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Back in love . .

I'm getting used to that sashing now and I have to agree with all the comments you left on Wednesday, the sashing really makes those lilies pop.  I'm very happy with how this top is looking, and in the back of my mind, I sort of figured that's the way things would go.

Another plus, the assembly is coming together perfectly.  I just love it when that happens, no fudging, no stretching, no missing points. 

I've gotten a few questions about my 6 inch pineapple blocks.  
First off, I'm going with creams and whites for my lights. 

Regarding the foundation paper patterns - I printed off my original block using that EQ7 software.  I don't know much about that software, but there is a library of blocks one can access so I just selected  my pineapple block and my size then printed the block using the foundation printing option.

For some reason the sewing lines did not extend past the 6 inch block line on the block, so I extended the lines using a ruler and a black marker.  I have no idea if I did something wrong when selecting my print options or if this is just how the software works, I just knew that I needed to extend those sections of the block so I would have enough fabric to square up the block and also have a 1/4 seam allowance.

I also circled all the section numbers with a red marker where I was to use red fabric.  I confuse easily, anything to keep me on track is usually time well spent.

Once I was done adjusting my master foundation block I just ran copies using Carol Doak's Foundation Paper.  It's a wonderful product and available in most quilt shops. The Fat Quarter Shop also carries it.  (click here)

I've not touched those pineapple blocks since I got home from Paducah, I hope to get back to them soon.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I'm sticking with it

Finally, some real progress to report! One of my favorite quilting quotes is, "Quilts take a long time, when you don't work on them".  And some quilts take a long time when you do work on them.  I don't get hours of uninterrupted sewing time very often, but I'm making the most of the time I have this week.

My sashing was a breeze to piece.  Even with making sure all my grapes were hanging down.
(see that sunshine in this picture, the sun is back, for two straight days now!)

Ok, so I'm still feeling a little uncomfortable with all that sashing action surrounding those serene lily blocks, but it's not unusual for me to take awhile to warm up to things so I'm sticking with it.

It's also not unusual for me to fall in and out of love with a project as I progress, so I'm sticking with it.

It did just occur to me that my browns are darker than the browns on the pattern cover, maybe that's another reason they look so busy to me, but I'm sticking with it!

I got a couple of notes from folks about an antique Carolina Lily quilt Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville saw in an antique shop in  Maine.  It's a wonderful quilt and the green stem and leaf fabric has faded to an interesting shade of gray while the yellow and red pieces look as good as ever.  I'm attaching a link for you to check it out but I'm warning you, this is one of those blogs with commercials and advertisements everywhere, it takes forever to load a page. click here  I can't decided if I care if some of my quilts end up in a flea market or antique shop, better than the landfill I suppose, it sometimes makes me a little sad that these wonderful old quilts are not being enjoyed by the family they belong to.  Every quilt deserves a good home, I feel the same way about dogs, it's a wonder my house isn't full of antique quilts and puppies.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Blooming . . . .

25 flower blocks, all done, that's all I need for Carolina.  Sometimes, on past patterns where the entire quilt was made up of one block, I would get bored with the piecing.  I enjoyed making each one of these blocks, even though they were identical.  Maybe because they were the only thing blooming around here. I'm still not missing those handles on the sides of the baskets.

Now it's on to the sashing.  After looking at these flower blocks for weeks, I have to admit I'm not so sure about that checkered sashing.  But I like to think I learn from past mistakes, and remember how I didn't like the looks of the sashing on 3 Barns, and sewed all the blocks together without it, then un-sewed the blocks and added the sashing!  I like the looks of the blocks with the sashing on the Carolina pattern cover so it's full steam ahead on making the sashing and using it.

How was your Mothers Day?  Mine was very nice, although this year, for the fist time in ages, I wasn't with my daughter on Mothers Day.  But she did send me these beautiful roses.


You may not remember, but a few months ago for a giveaway, I asked folks to leave a comment telling me about their favorite red thing.  Someone mentioned how they got their day off to a happy start by making breakfast using their red toaster.  It had never even occurred to me to have a red toaster.  I gave no thought to my old stainless steel toaster, I used it then put it away, but I liked the idea of a red toaster, and now I have one.

This is my kitchen, I don't like things out on the counter, I prefer to store items, like my can opener,  mixer, and paper towels in the cabinets.  I use them then put them up.  I only have the necessities out on my counter, the banana basket, we always have bananas, the coffee maker, the canisters that hold the coffee, and now my red toaster.

It's just too darn cute to put in the cabinet.

I'm not wantint to jinx myself, but right now I have a pretty free week ahead of me, I'm hoping for a very productive week in my sewing room, it's been ages since I've spent some real time up there, I've just been squeezing in a hour every now and then for weeks, I'm ready to finish up Carolina and move on to something new.

On a very sad note, Paula Barnes, the designer of my Carolina pattern and half of the team for Bonnie Blue/Red Crinoline Quilts lost her husband unexpectedly this month.  I took a class with Paula at the the Buggy Barn last fall, she shared some wonderfully funny stories about her family and her husband.   That family has been in my thoughts this week as I work on Paula's pattern, will you send some kind thoughts their way this week as well?  I'm sure the family would appreciate it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Paducah, Paducah, Paducah . . .

Are you getting tired of reading about my trip to Paducah, where I attended the AQS Show?  This is my last post on this subject,
 until next year.

One of my favorite things when I leave Illinois and cross into Kentucky is this bridge over the Ohio River.  It's the only bridge I've ever seen made of flying geese units.  It's like it's welcoming me to the quilt show.

All the traveling I do during the course of a year is by air, except for this trip.  When I fly I have to really limit what I can and do take with me.  When I drive, look out, I load my car down and hit the road.  This year I brought my sewing machine and my Sew Ezi travel sewing table so I could sew in the mornings and evenings in my hotel room.

I took my pineapple block project that I had cut then put in a project box.  It was a great project to work on with its easy and repetitive stitching.

Good thing I didn't have a roommate, I pretty much took over this sitting area.

Here's my little pressing and trimming area.

My goal was to piece 10 pineapple blocks per day. I don't know where I came up with that number, but it took a lot longer to make each block than I expected, but I did manage to finish 30 blocks.  And here they are.

My blocks are 6 inches and I'm paper piecing them instead of using a special pineapple ruler.  Originally my goal was to make 100, I'm not done yet, but I am rethinking that 100 block idea.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What I Learned . . . . .

So I'm back to blogging about my week in Paducah attending the AQS Show.  Last week I covered what I saw and what I bought, today I'm going to cover what I learned.

I attended an all day quilting class called, "Jump start into longarm quilting"  Mary Beth Krapil was the Handi Quilter Educator who led the class.

The class covered preparing the backing, loading the machine, working with batting, choosing the thread and needle, adjusting tension, an intro into free motion quilting, pantographs and groovy boards, and using rulers.  Everything anyone would need to know to load and and start quilting a top.

The first thing Mary Beth asked the class was, "does anyone currently own a longarm machine".  I sort of snickered thinking who would be in a beginning longarm quilting class if they already owned a machine.  Well imagine my surprise when the majority of the class raised their hands!  Luckily Mary Beth taught the class as if no one had ever used a long arm machine.

One thing that is very important when doing free motion quilting is developing and maintaining arm and neck muscle memory.  You develop and maintain the muscle memory required for longarm quilting by practicing.  Practicing on paper and on the machine.

Using this sheet of quilting designs, that was inside a page protector, and using our arms and not our wrists, we traced each design with a erasable pen.  Once we had the sheet covered with ink we would just erase our "quilting" and start again.  Mary Beth said this was a great way to get used to the motion required to make these designs.  I saw a visible improvement in my tracing after just a couple of attempts.

So after tracing these designs we loaded our machines and tried to recreate the patterns using the long arm machine.  Here's my attempts, and even though they look pretty bad, nothing I would want on any quilt I've made, I have to admit I got better pretty quickly.

Mary Beth talked about the importance of practicing everyday.  An easy way to practice is to stitch on fabric with different designs and shapes in its motif to learn the movements required to make those shapes, like circles, points, curves.  A book she recommended was Quilting Dot to Dot by Cheryl Barnes.  In that book you are taught to look ahead as you quilt.

After practicing our free motion quilting we learned how to use pantographs.  We traced our design with our finger before actually tracing it with the machine, back to teaching our muscles how to move.

This was the design I was given.

And here's my go at it.

There's more to those pantographs than I thought, they require practice too, and I did see an improvement each time I quilted my design.  But still , that's nothing I would want on a quilt I pieced.

Here's a nice little sampler of work that Mary Beth made to show different designs and styles.  That's a plain piece of blue fabric that she brought to life with her quilting.

It was a great day that flew by,  definitely worth my time and money.  I have pages and pages of notes.  I feel like I now have the knowledge I need to actually quilt a top using a longarm machine.  I've always wondered if I could be a long arm quilter, and now I know that I can do it.  I don't think I have the natural ability to be great at it in a short time, but I think with practice I could be a good quilter.  But you know what else I learned, that I don't want to do it.  Spending 30 minutes everyday just practicing my quilting doesn't appeal to me at all.  Mary Beth talked about how she loved quilting her tops, it was her favorite part of the whole quilt making process.  I love selecting patterns, reading patterns and piecing patterns.  That's how I want to spend my available sewing time.  Before the class I was thinking that perhaps I could spend a couple of weeks piecing a top then maybe a couple of days quilting it.  It just doesn't work that way.  I've gotten compliments on my piecing skills, and I've really thought to myself, what's the big deal, the machine does the work.  But  now I see that I sew almost everyday, which means I'm practicing my piecing skills everyday.  I should be good at it.  If I only sewed on the weekends, or for a couple of days out of a month, I don't think I would be nearly as good.  And that's the way it is with quilting too, you need to do it often to be skilled at it.

I think I will also be a better long arm customer now that I have a better understanding of the whole process.   I have to say, I've never gotten a quilt back from any quilter with tucks or puckers in the backing, I have a whole new appreciation of what can go wrong if you don't do things correctly.

So that's what I learned, which was a lot!  If you're wondering if you have what it takes to be a good longarm quilter I would say you definitely do, you just need a good teacher and the desire to practice until you succeed.

Storage bin update -  Remember how I told you that I bought my fat quarter storage units from Staples?Well I stopped in Staples yesterday to pick up a new one, because my happy fabric maybe has grown from one bin to two bins, and there were no bins to be had.  When I inquired I found out they no longer carry those bins.  I looked online and they are currently available at Kmart and Lowes.  If I find them again I plan to get a couple, the bins are a perfect size and I want all my bins to be the same, so they stack nicely.  If you plan on looking for them forget about Staples.

Email associated with a comment.  Here's a link to a blog that does a nice job of describing how to attach your email to your comments on blogger.

Diane was kind enough to send it my way after I mentioned on my last blog that I'm getting questions from folks who don't leave their email addresses.  If you leave comments on blogs, and don't ever get a response, you may want to check out this link.  I'm also fine with folks leaving comments and not passing along their email addresses, I love hearing from everyone regardless.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Back in my sewing room . . .

Besides unpacking, working, running errands and doing all the other things that I was behind on after being out of town for a week, I did manage to get some sewing done last week.

I've got 14 Carolina blocks done, the pattern only has 25 blocks, I'm over half way there.

Please forgive this horrible picture, the sun has decided to shine about as much in May as it did in April, which was about two days, so even though this picture is dark and dreary, the blocks are not.

Between the number of pieces in each block and matching up the points and seams, these blocks are a little fussy, but well worth the effort.  

Just in case you've forgotten, I'm making Carolina by BonnieBlue Quilts.  

I selected my fabric for my project but the gals at Bonnie Blue still have kits available, click here.

I'm loving Carolina so much I've decided to make another Lily quilt, Coastal Lily by Minick & Simpson.  Except instead of going with traditional fabric, I'm going to go with some of those more modern fabrics in my happy bin.  (click here for more pattern information)

Remember Hilda, who is hand appliquéing a Quilt Mania lily quilt?   She's made her first block and has some great hand work tips, be sure to check it out. (click here)

While in Paducah at the AQS show I took an all day longarm quilting class, stop by Wednesday to hear all about what I learned.

On a blogging note, if you leave a question with your comment, but don't have your email address associated with your comment, how would you like me to answer your question?  Should I add it to a new blog post, at the bottom of the blog post where you left your question, or as a reply in the comments section?  I always feel bad when someone asks a question and I have no direct way of communicating with that person.  Is there some sort of blogging protocol here that I'm not aware of?  Thanks!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Blogger Girl BOM - Month Five

What's more surprising to you, that it is May 1st (HAPPY MAY DAY!) or that we only have one more  month of Monique's Blogger Girl Sew Along?  I think I'm more surprised it's May, it sure doesn't feel like May weather wise.

I love this month's blocks, my favorite so far, and yes, I know I say that every month.

Blocks so nice

I made them twice!

I decided I needed a few more blocks for my project so I doubled up on this month's design, it's my favorite.  I think I would love a whole quilt made of nothing but these blocks.  Just in case you've forgotten, my fabric is Hometown by Sweetwater for Moda.

Have you checked out our Flickr page lately, there are some amazing blocks being shared.  If you've not added your blocks to our Flickr page please do so, I love looking at all the different versions.

Here are few more bloggers with blocks to share, plenty of inspiration, yours for the taking.

Sherri from A Quilting Life -
Lissa from Moda  Lissa  -
Denise from Quilter’s  Window -
Nicole from Sister’s Choice  -
Lisa from Stashmaster -

Check out Monique's blog for the directions.

It's also Parade day for Sherri and Sinta's Schnibbles Sew Along, we've gone too long without a Schnibbles Parade, I can hardly wait to see everyone's Hat Tricks.