Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fabric... in the Baby Department

When a friend asked if I had anything in my inventory that had Winnie the Pooh, I was saddened to say "no, I don't. What did you have in mind?"

She responded with a story about her daughter-in-law having a shower in 10 days - in Indiana.  She wanted a quilt that would "make everyone say 'Wow'".

The problem?  I didn't even have any fabric in my stash that could be used.  And, again, because we live is a small town with great limitations, a challenge of finding Winnie the Pooh fabric was difficult.  My solution?  My brilliant idea (I think anyway)?  Flannel receiving blankets from our favorite store (Walmart)!

I added a few contrasting fabrics that coordinated well.  The end result?  A big block quilt with giant flying geese in just a few days.  Another deadline met.  The house work was pushed aside and simple, easy to prepare meals were on the menu.

This was my first actual complete free-motion quilted quilt!  I was terrified to start it!  I practiced and practiced and made a few adjustments and then I sat down with "the quilt".  Again, I emphasize, I was so nervous!  So Scared!  Such a mess!  Finally, I just started it... I combined loops with meandering and viola!  I am pleased with the end result.

And, another baby will be comfy and cozy and wrapped in love!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Deadlines... Pffft... not a problem

The past two weeks were quite busy with quilting projects... and a few challenges.

I was commissioned to for a photo quilt that included 13 photos and needed in just 10 days.  First challenge?  I needed a new print cartridge for our printer in order to print the photos onto special paper... Walmart did not have one for our printer!  Panic started to set in.  Trinidad doesn't have a lot of options when it comes to office supply stores, but the locally owned (very tiny) office supply store happened to have one!  Whew!  Let the printing begin!

I soon had all of the photos  printed and color fast treated and began pulling fabric for the quilt - primarily blues with accents of browns and purples.  It was a simple pattern, so once the photos were all "framed" I was ready to begin the assembly of the entire blocks.

With speed like a cheetah I had the top completed.  Next challenge?  To find a backing for the quilt.  For most that would seem like no big deal... But, again, in a small town where the only fabric options are at Walmart, finding a backing and binding that does not clash with the front and having enough in stock is sometimes a challenge.  While I was not completely satisfied, I settled for the best options.

And the final result was loved by the person that ordered it for her Mom on her birthday. 

Deadline?  Not a problem...  Challenges?  Overcome!  Final result?  Lovely!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

And now He is just showing off!

There is a movie that Dave & I watched that was on INSP called Hometown Legend.  While it is not any kind of award winning movie, it has a great message. One line from the movie that happens to be from a prayer by a high school girl seeking help from God... "We could use some help here, so how 'bout you show up and show off".

Dave and I have adopted this prayer over the past 11 months... and let me tell you, He definitely "showed up" and has "shown off".  I could share several stories where we have been blessed because we obeyed and showed faith, though we didn't know how it was really going to work...

To start with, the unemployment benefits that Dave was paid while we were making the necessary improvements on the shop was only $9.53 short of our budget... We said, "okay, we can cover the deficit with our savings." 

Also, while making improvements and considering insulation for the shop we  learned of a rebate program offered through our electric co-op. The person that came highly recommended wanted to work out a barter... So the improvement that was going to cost $1300-$1500 ended up costing only $300!

The calls for work have continued to come in and Dave has never been with out work. 

The latest "showing off" that we have experienced is that we had a gas bill due that is $500+...  The day before it was due Dave delivered two jobs and brought in just a few dollars short of the balance due!

Sometimes you just have to smile and say "I know that was you God! Thanks!"

Friday, February 14, 2014

Feelin' Free... Sorta.

I have recently joined a group of quilters on-line through a kind of a "video conference" call using modern technology.  The purpose of this group is to participate in free motion quilting lessons and offer feedback as to the helpfulness of written directions that are offered, techniques, hints and suggestions.

It is quite a fun group to be a part of and it offers me just what I need to help me take my quilting to "a next level".  The thing is, it takes practice!  We are encouraged to practice 15 minutes a day... doesn't sound like much, but I tend to get stuck there at the machine - usually criticizing the "homework" that I have done.

So, what have I learned? That stippling is much harder for me than making loops.  Why?  I don't know, probably because with stippling (or meandering) you are not to cross over an already stitched line.  Making loops just feels more natural to me.  I am hoping that this will be a benefit when (if) I ever get to doing feathers.

Wavy Lines - I am much better at doing this just with my regular presser foot and settings.  What looked like the most simple thing to do, was the most frustrating for me! Blech!

Stippling - I realized I was trying to make it too close together... the stitches became much more even when I loosened it up some.

Making Loops - This was much more fun for me!  Again, I was trying to make the loops MUCH too small.  I had to relax and loosen up and feel free!

I think I am ready to move on to making some daisy flowers and mazes.

Friday, February 7, 2014

It's T time...

A few of my latest projects have been t-shirt quilts.  You know, those beloved t-shirts that you just cannot part with because they are a memory from a special time or occasion.

It just so happens that these t-shirts were actually "rescued" from a thrift shop.  And, it would turn out that they were quite popular.  Both sold quickly just by placing a notice on fb that they were for sale.

They both have a good home now and will be enjoyed by the mother and grandson of a friend that bought them as birthday gifts. 

Happy Birthday Charlotte & Noah!

A Call for the Bag Lady

It was another usual day at the Nolan household when the phone rang and the voice on the other end said, "Hi, this is Lisa Schumacher with American Patchwork and Quilting Magazine.  Sometime ago you sent an e-mail to us about the "Gathered Together" bag that was in the April 2011 issue and we would like to include you in the 'I am a quilter' section of the June 2014 issue."

OH. MY! "Okay", I responded... trying to not sound totally shocked or too excited.

They sent some questions that I answered, as follows...

When did you start quilting?  I started quilting in 2000.
Why did you start?  I have always loved to sew and quilting just fascinated me.  A friend had her daughters signed up for quilting in 4-H and then she invited me to participate in a block of the month group.  The BOM group was a great way to learn different techniques and get some great tips from some of the more experienced quilters that were participating.
Do you sew bags and quilts? Do you have a preference or favorite? I sew both bags and quilts.  I love the bags because it offers an opportunity to practice free-motion quilting on a smaller scale, but my heart truly loves quilting -  every aspect of it - from picking the pattern and fabrics to piecing blocks, all the way to preparing a quilt-top for quilting and the binding.  Oh, and don't forget the label!
In your email, you said you had made 13 of the Gathered Together bags. That's a bunch! Is that your final tally for these bags?  I lost track, but to the best of my recollection it is 20+
Did you keep most of the bags or give them away? To whom?  I kept 1!  All of the remaining bags were for others.  They make great purses, book bags, diaper bags, even market bags.
Did you make them one at a time or make multiples?  I usually made them in multiples - about 3-4 at a time.

After making so many bags using the same pattern, do you have any shortcuts or tips to share?  The pattern itself is just so simple, the only shortcut I used for some of the bags was buying some "pre-quilted" fabric.  My tip - I began adding pockets so that the car keys or cell phone don't end up lost at the very bottom of the bag. I made a few with elastic instead of using a tie for the "gathering".  That worked well, too.
What is your favorite gadget or tool?  Hmmm... Aside from the basic rotary cutter, rulers and cutting mat that I use all the time, I don't have a lot of "specialty"  gadgets but I do love the ruler rack that my husband made me.
I have some other exciting things going on, too.  I am part of the Quiltmaker's  Year of the Machine Quilter and will be participating in an on-line group testing and trying out lessons to help the domestic machine quilter improve their free motion quilting skills.  Just exactly the area of quilting that I wanted to improve in! 
An opportunity to make the quilt for the first "bride-to-be" even more special!  I better go practice...