Sunday, December 25, 2011

Speedy Tricks

 My quilting buddies know I'm a speedy sewer and it's because I organize the steps of each project for maximum output. For Orca Bay step #6, I didn't stop to set up each block before I sewed, I started with one center (in my case green) and chain sewed a quarter square to it 28 times.

Without cutting the strings, I brought the whole chain to the ironing board--so much easier than moving one piece at a time!
I press them open THEN cut them apart. Back to the sewing machine to sew the other quarter square to this row then over to the ironing board again with the whole string to press then cut apart. Viola--one row done!
I did the same thing for the other two rows in the block and it saves so much time because I handle the whole lot of them at once instead of picking up one piece then another then another. A great time-saver.

Here are my dark blocks . . .

. . . and my dark and light together. 4 1/2 hours for all of them.

I would be happy with Bonnie's quilt just like this!!

Total time on all 6 clues: 39 hours 40 minutes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

UFO for 2012

I'm out of town for my birthday (tomorrow) so I'm doing this list off the top of my head. I will add the rest of the 12 UFOs when I get home. I have until January 1, right?

My UFO quilts for Judy Laquadara's challenge are:
#1 12 Days of Xmas. This was on my last year's list and I really need to finish it. It's the Nancy Halvorson quilt with her fabrics. I collect 12 days of Xmas stuff so I had to make this quilt. The top is finished and the back is made so all I have to do is quilt it.
#2 Henreitta Whiskers
This was a 2011 online BOM by Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs. Her adorable animal characters  are irresistable and I encourage you to check out her website.

#3 is The Big Easy, a mystery quilt by Linda Ballard I started in 2009. I love this quilt top and all I need to do is quilt it. (Hate to admit this was also in my 2011 UFO list)

#4 would be my Ferris Wheel top. I started this
making these traditional blocks at least 5 years ago with 30s fabrics. The block is pretty intricate and takes a long time to make so I made about 15 of them and put them away. I discovered them a last year, made a bunch more and added this "hankie" border. It's been worth all the time it took and now I need to make a back and quilt it!

#5 Anteitum. This quilt was made in a Linda Ballard mystery retreat in McCloud, CA in June.I actually changed the configuration of the blocks as they were to be set on point with 12" snowball blocks in between. Since I don't like a lot of "empty space" to quilt in I decided to set them better this way and I just love it. Again, top and back are finished all I need to do is quilt it.

 #6 is my Orca Bay Mystery by Bonnie Hunter started just before Thanksgiving! I  haven't even finished all the clues yet but I know I want to finish this quilt ASAP! The pink and green blocks on the scale here are parts of it.

#7 is a project (as of this writing) I haven't started yet: A quilt for my daughter and her wife who are in escrow with their first house and have requested a "black and white and Tiffany Blue" quilt for the back of their couch. I knew this pattern (Happy Hour) wold be perfect for it.

#8 is another project I hadn't started yet: for my daughter's best friend who's expecting her 3rd baby in February. I made quilts for her first two and she says they cannot go to sleep without their special "binkies". (If I had a quilt for myself with Minkie on the back like I made theirs, I'd probably feel the same way!) I've purchased a Mother Goose panel that's supposed to be made into a book that I plan to cut apart and put pinwheels as sashing. If Judy picks #8 first, I will be happy!                                                   

Sunday, December 18, 2011

By the Skin of My Teeth

Last week was a busy one for me: we had guests 3 of 4 nights and gave a party for 35 people. I was so afraid my Bonnie Hunter Mystery clue #4 was not going to get finished before clue #5 was posted! I'd been so good at completing clues 1-3 by Tuesday of their respective weeks and I was bound and determined not to fall behind. (Besides, I'm absolutely LOVING this process!

Happy to say, I completed all 64 of the 5 1/2" strip squares by Thursday night. Just to be different, I took my photo on our kitchen scale and as you can see, clue #2 (pink) and #4 (green) weigh 13.6 ounces together. Of course, the clue #4 blocks still have the paper on them but it's only tissue-thin yellow pages paper which I plan to pull off by the time this posts on Judy Laquadara's Design Wall Monday.

I'm timing how long it takes me to complete each clue and #4 took me 6 hours and 15 minutes (including taking the paper off the back) bringing the total for all 4 clues to 35 3/4 hours.

As for Clue #5: Since I'm going to be out of town Tuesday through late Thursday, I knew I had to finish this clue by today! And. . . I did it! 5 hours and all 350 are done! I'm also keeping track of the number of pieces are in this quilt. To date, I count 3,392 pieces in mine! Can't wait 'til Friday!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Group Quilts Revealed!

Cooky's quilt
My quilt
Today was the big day! My Calendar Girls group, together 11 years, revealed the quilts from a block exchange we had in July. Every year we decide on a block project, make one for everyone, exchange the blocks mid-year then each go home and make a quilt from them. The theme this year was "North Woods Winter" and we decided to make 8 blocks, 9 1/2". We could make anything with a winter theme but not Christmas (because we've done that a couple of times), applique or pieced. Aren't they all wonderful? It's always so amazing to see what everyone else has put together.

 and Kim's
Here's Sharon's
and Linda's quilt
I'd love to hear what you think!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Orca Bay Clue #3 Progress

Thanks you Judy for giving us Patchwork Times, a great place to post our design walls and chat with quilters from all over the world!

I'm pretty amazed that I'm enjoying Bonnie Hunter's mystery quite as much as I am! After all, asking quilters to make nearly 650 multi-pieced components in the first 3 clues would be daunting to any quilter and I'm simply not used to this type of scrap quilting. BUT I'm absolutely loving this!

I had company this weekend and was so sure I would go completely crazy and not be able to work on clue #3 but things worked out really well--my cousin from South Lake Tahoe visited for 2 days and our plans included 3 craft fairs and a Holiday Home Tour in a spiffy part of Sacramento. And with all the chit-chatting we would do, when would there be time for sewing?! She was due around noon on Friday so I got to work early. I use half-square triangle paper to make my HSTs using 21 different purples and neutrals. I don't have strips on hand and would rather use larger pieces of fabric so this method works better for me. You might say, "but I hate tearing off that paper and cutting off the 'dog ears'" but I have time-saving tricks and if I told you it took me only 4 1/2 hours to make all 350 HSTs, would you think my method was time-consuming? The great thing about it was I was able to include an eager cousin in my process! She LOVED helping me with my 'project' and we tore off paper as we watched holiday movie DVDs. Win-Win!

Yes, by a little over an hour after my cousin left on Sunday morning, I was able to get them ALL finished. (actually, I miscalculated and made 380 HSTs--anyone need a few extra? They're purple!) In that little container in the lower right, I put the tiny dog-ears. Figure Bonnie will have something in mind for them! LOL!!

Next Friday, we're expecting about 50 people for a holiday party. Hope I can squeeze in at least a little sewing on Clue #4 that day so I won't go crazy!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

November's UFO and #12

Yes! I DID finish November's UFO. It was our Quilt guild challenge. We needed to use the fabric that I used for the borders and I drew the green fabric too. We could add 3 other fabrics--I used the backs of the fabrics too.

I was inspired by the cover of the January 2011 issue of American Quilter magazine. Each of the pieces of this "mosaic" wall hanging is no larger than 1/2" x 1/2". It was a very tedious project and in the end, the fusible webbing I used started coming off! Couldn't get the little buggers to stick! So. . . I covered the whole thing with black tulle and machine quilted around EACH AND EVERY tiny piece! You'd think I would hate this quilt but I really am proud of myself for sticking with it (LOL!).

My #12 is a Ricky Tims "Cool Kaleidoscope" and it's almost finished!! I'm going to look at everyone else's finished UFOs on Judy's blog!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Started and Finished

Every time I start a small project and finish it quickly, I realize I should just do small projects--then I'll get them FINISHED! I taught a class in Anna Faustino's woven technique last week and was so inspired by the quilts made in the class that I had to go home and make another one! Found this great husky and adapted it to a silhouette. Finished this 20" x 24" wall hanging in a couple of hours.

I need a name for this guy. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

I'm also working on Bonnie Hunter's Orca Bay mystery. Took me 10 hours to finish the 224 required QSTs in Clue #1 and now I'm working on Clue #2.
These 3 1/2" square string-pieced blocks are so adorable and they finish very quickly! I've finished 42 of the 72 required and will probably only spend about 4 hours total

Bonnie's idea to use telephone book pages is a good one and I have a slick trick to removing it after the block is sewn:

Give a gentle tug in opposite directions and the paper will split on the seams making removal really easy!

Check out Judy's blog for some other great projects!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm IN!!

I've never done a Bonnie Hunter mystery but I've seen so many gorgeous quilts from them I just had to dive in this time. I'm using greens, pinks and purples with neutrals.

My method for QSTs: cut a light and dark 2 1/4" square. Right sides together, sew a scant 1/4" seam down one side then down the opposite (parallel) side. Cut diagonally, corner to corner press open. Try it!

I've made all 224 plus a few more so I'm ready for Clue #2! Check out everyone elses QSTs on Bonnies Blog!

Friday, November 18, 2011

I'm Doing It. . . !

After years of watching others produce amazing, one-of-a-kind, scrappy (my favorite!) colorful, stash-busting quilts from Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville Mysteries, I've jumped on the Quilt Train to success and joined them! Quiltville will post a new mystery clue every Friday starting November 18th for 7-8 weeks and you need to keep up!

If you are familiar with Bonnie's mysteries, they are not for the faint at heart!! There's lots and lots. . . and LOTS of work to do. (For example, the first clue is to make 224, 2 1/2" quarter square triangles!! Yes, that means the triangles are cut from 1 1/2" strips--OH, MY!)

As you can see, I've got them started--in fact, I have 211 finished at this writing! Should be finished by tomorrow. Are you going to join me? I'll bet there are a lot of comments about this mystery on Judy's Design Wall Monday post today--go see!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


      I've missed two DWMs in a row! Oh, I've been sewing a lot but only on projects that I have to keep under wraps from the two quilting groups I'm in. One is a quilt that will be revealed to the group on December 11th and the other two, one Row-Robin and one art quilt project, not until mid-January. Yes, I do like to begin early and give myself plenty of time to relax before a project is due rather than what I hear so much from my quilting buddies--that they were madly finishing up the binding at 2am on the day it's due! Sooo not my style!
     This is a 'Lil Twister quilt that turned out to be
60" X 70" and all I used was 1 Layer Cake and a yard of background! I made a template that was 7" and after cutting everything, I ended up with a Charm Pack's worth of fabric left over. I cut those charm squares in half, joined them to the same sized background pieces, and that made the border you see here. This will make a wonderful give-away quilt for the next time a community group asks me for an auction item.
    I'll tell you, I'm hooked on these 'Lil Twister quilts! So easy and quick to make--and aren't they great looking?
    What do you have on your design wall this week? Did you post it on Judy's website for us all to see?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's Garment Time!

Yes, I'm the Rabid Quilter but sometimes I have to return to my roots. My mom taught me to sew when I was in grade school by making aprons. I took sewing in 4-H, then more lessons at a Singer store in my home town--yes, there were entire stores devoted to sewing machines, lessons and fashion fabric--then in Home Ec in high school. I can't say I was completely successful because the clothes I made didn't really fit that well, but I was proud of what I made and at this point in my life, I feel it was a great start to my knowledge of sewing.

This week I made a skirt. Doesn't sound exciting but let me tell you that I made it by copying my favorite off-the-rack skirt I purchased a couple of years ago. I've worn this lightweight, slightly stretchy black and white skirt a LOT and thought I'd love to have a couple more of them in different colors. Without taking the skirt apart, (wouldn't want to ruin my favorite skirt!) I managed to copy it on to paper, a technique I learned quite a while ago in one of my favorite magazines, Threads. I looked in a few Joann Fabric stores before I found a lightweight, slightly stretchy, non-knit fabric. (Super stretchy, knit fabric, ala t-shirts, is easy to find but wouldn't work for this skirt). Sure wish there were as many fashion fabric shops now as there were when I was young!

This skirt has no facings, using only a double fold, pre-packaged bias tape and an invisible zipper so it was super easy to make and after only a tiny bit of tweaking, I had success! The top I'm wearing is one I bought at Coldwater Creek a few minutes after I'd bought the fabric. I brought the fabric into the store to match it and the ladies there probably had no idea why I would be making something instead of buying it. Well, ladies, I paid $7.50 for the fabric (with my 40% off coupon) $1.79 for the zipper and $1.55 for the binding. A little over an hour to make the skirt and a priceless amount of satisfaction!!

What do you think?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lot's to Share

 This is a strange image I know. It's the back that I've made to put on the quilt project (which I need to keep secret until December). That's when my Calendar Girls group reveals their block exchange projects from June. So, in the middle of this back is a "tea towel" calendar dated 2011. If you haven't heard of the website Spoonflower you need to check it out. It's a place where you can create your own fabric! Just design by scanning an image, coloring, drawing, anything you want, then upload it to their website. You can then order quilters' cotton, linen, knit, even bamboo fabric to make whatever you want! Each week, Spoonflower has a contest with a theme. Several dozen designers submit their images and you can even vote on your favorites each week. Every November, one of the contests is to desgn a calendar tea towel. I've collected calendar tea towels from everywhere we've traveled and I usually order at least half a dozen of the designs submitted to Spoonflower to use on the backs of my quilts. Talk about a great quilt label! The year is already on there and I circle the date when I finish the quilt. Cute, huh?!

The stripes at the bottom of the quilt back are all the different fabrics I 'auditioned' for the front sashing of the quilt and that I ended up not liking. There were so many of them I thought I'd sew them together to add to the back. Waste not, want not!

This weekend was PIQF--Pacific International Quilt Festival--in Santa Clara, CA. It's a wonderful show with probably 100 vendors (my favorite part!) My friend, Jody, came with me and we had the best time! We saw this product at a vendor's booth and Jody said she'd bought them years ago and LOVED how they worked so I bought the set--one purse-sized, one regular sized and one with a telescoping handle to use on drapes and design walls! "The Sticky" is a permanent lint roller. Instead of sticky paper you have to tear off or replace (which I have such a hard tine with!), there's a silicon stickiness that pulls off lint, THREADS, pet hair, beads, even coins off any surface and then---you just rinse it all off in warm water! Then start rolling again. It's an amazing little tool.

I use batting for my design wall which is pretty fuzzy so it picked up a lot more fuzz than threads but it worked pretty well. But on pet hair--OMG--it's amazing!! I can de-hair our sofa and chairs so fast and efficiently! You might want to look for them and try it for yourself.

Another thing you must try: checking out all the other Design Wall Monday post on Judy's blog!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Teaching a Class this Week

I'm writing this from a lovely place in central California where, I'm thinking, most people rarely venture. Most Californians who drive from northern to southern California (or vice versa) use I-5, the 70 MPH uber freeway. The town I was to teach a class and lecture in was on HWY-101, a lesser yet more historic (read, older) classic highway. Since I'd never been there except to speed through on my way to my infrequent visits with my aunt nearer the coast, I didn't know what to expect of the quilters I'd meet there. Were they going to be wary of someone who lived closer to a more "metropolitan" area? Would they like me?!

King City: an agricultural area 50 miles, north or south, from a major department store. Population 11,000 plus or minus, and that probably covers a very large area. Yet they've had a quilt guild over 10 years of no fewer than 50 members, about 20 of whom took my class on Saturday. What a lovely, happy, welcoming bunch of ladies! Their salad potluck was fabulous, all homemade, and those pies---!! By the look of the progress of their quilts on Saturday, they really knew their stuff and were going to have some lovely quilts!

Thank you Holly, Jackie, Marilee and all the other quilters who made my day a memorable one! I look forward to seeing you again on Monday when I give my lecture on Group Quilts.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

UFO challenge completed

My UFO challenge for September was our Quilt Guild Challenge. We were given a fat quarter of this large print and one other fat quarter, mine being green. We could use up to 4 other fabrics.

This quilt is about 20" x 26". I decided to do a mosaic. It was very tedious and I spent hours with tweezers placing every 1/4" to 1/2" square, pre backed with fusible, on to the black background fabric. Turned out the fusible wasn't holding very well and I had to end up covering it with tulle (netting) and machine quilt between the tiny squares! More work than I expected but I did like the outcome and, it was well received.

My #5 UFO is The Big Easy, a quilt I made in a mystery class over 2 years ago. I love it and hope to finish it this month but I'm lecturing and teaching to 2 quilt guilds this month and might not have time. But, we're all busy, right?

Hope the rest of you are able to finish yours!

Thank you Judy for giving us the little push we needed to finish so many of our UFOs this year!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Name Tag Project

On Saturday I got together with my quilting buddies, the Calendar Girls, with the intent on making 100 name tags for our quilt guild to use at our annual quilt show. Every year, we all make new name tags that depict the theme and colors of our quilt show. In the past, we've just put fabric, batting, backing, a pin back and directions to make the name tag into a baggie for everyone but this year, we actually pieced the front of it, a big job with lots of tiny pieces--the name tag finishes at less than 4" square.

We love to get together for any reason but  having a production line and putting these kits together will make a lot of people in our guild happy!

I do have something on my design wall and worked quite a bit on it but I can't reveal it to my quilting group until December so it will have to remain a surprise.

Go to Judy's blog to see what everyone else
has on their wall!

Happy quilting!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm Back!

 This is where I've been for the past couple of weeks--Nantucket, MA! What a wonderful island. We've been going there for 30 years and celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary there.

And now that I'm home, I have to get working on the block exchange! I've tried several backgrounds and none of them worked but I think this one, which has a little aqua in it, of all things, might be the one. Oh, I'm not just going to put plain old sashing and borders--no, I have a plan for something more worthy of our Calendar Girls group.

So, what did YOU put up on Judy's blog today?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Out Of Town

I'm on vacation--woo-hoo--in my favorite place in the world--Nantucket, Massachusetts. My husband and I come here almost every year in September to celebrate our anniversary, explore the island and the wonderful restaurants here. I don't tote my sewing machine with me but I did bring a bit of hand applique to do if I have time. So while I can't show you my design wall, I can show you the quilt-related items I bought the other day--and I think you'll love them!

I attended the Brimfield Antique Festival in Brimfield, MA. The things I'd read about the show were almost unbelievable--5,000 vendors and over a mile long but it was no exaggeration! There's something for everyone, and quilters are no exception.

 This crazy quilt has 81 hand-embroidered names and ages (!) on it and in the center it says "Made for H. Wales Leines from the members of the Masonic Home, Christmas 1908". There are some condition issues with the satin and silk fabrics but that's to be expected. It really is in remarkable shape. An interesting element is the little red 'bows' you see in the black squares. They tied the quilt with pearl cotton around tiny red ribbons and they look like little bows! Very sweet!
 The other quilt is a lovely example of a 2-color quilt, hand-pieced and meticulously hand-quilted with teensy stitches. When I heard what the vendor wanted for them I almost gave myself away but in the spirit of the flea market, I bartered him down even a little more! I'd expected to pay 3 times what I did.
Can you see the error in the quilt? Do you suppose the quilter put it there on purpose? I do!

Oh, I also found something I've secretly wanted for years--RED cowboy boots. They're great, leather boots and were only $40! My husband laughed and laughed but loved them on me!
Did YOU post something from your design wall on Judy's blog?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lots of Quilting This Week

I had time to get a lot done this week. Unfortunately, it's all stuff you've already seen so it isn't too exciting.  I finished the 9th and next-to-last block for Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Design's free online BOM, "Henreitta Whiskers", almost finished quilting the quilt I made at last week's Linda Ballard class,

plus a whole lot of unglamorous, boring, mending and altering ("this tag itches me" my husband says of the Hawaiian shirt I bought him, and the beautiful, white gaberdine slacks I bought at the shi-shi consignment clothing store I sometimes go to needed shortening (lining and all) and I needed to finally make a proper derndl skirt for an upcoming Oktoberfest!

Oh, and I finished quilting and just need to hand-sew the binding to the "'Lil Twister", Layer Cake quilt I started in April. A UFO just about completed!! YAY!

 Hope your week was as fulfilling ! Please check out Judy Laquidara's blog to see a LOT more inspiring Design Walls

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Class Without a Teacher!

I always look forward to quilting classes even if I'm pretty sure I know how to do everything we're going to be working on. It's being with my quilting buddies and spending a whole day with only sewing, pretty colors and catching up with my friends' lives to occupy my thoughts that makes classes fun. Oh, and I always do end up learning something new--even if it's from the person sitting next to me.

Our quilt guild in Yuba City, California has a favorite teacher and we have so much fun with her, we have a standing contract with her to come teach a class every January and every August. This has been going on for probably 10 years!! You might have heard of Linda Ballard whose specialty is mystery quilts. We just LOVE them--and her!

So yesterday was the class and there were about 30 people signed up, but on Thursday, we heard she was in the hospital with a gall bladder issue (except she had her gall bladder out years ago). Anyway, she was hurting and they had to do surgery but even though she returned home on Friday, she still wanted to drive 150 miles to teach the class the next day!! Well, it didn't even cross our minds to cancel the class OR to have Linda threaten her health and come--we just got together with the pattern for the class, which she sent down, and we spent the day making "Dancing with the Stars". Linda has taught us well over the years and we just used that knowledge to 'channel' her right into that classroom.

I changed my quilt up a little and put applique baskets where there would have been big, blank areas I would have had to quilt--not my strong suit. I sure do like the way this quilt turned out! 30s fabrics are so 'happy' don't you think?

One more thing: I was very late getting last weeks DWM out and it was the reveal of my Spring Chick's group's challenge so if you missed it, click here to view all the great quilts that came of our "3 Little Words" challenge. And don't forget to see what everyone else has on their design walls on Judy's blog!