Halloween 1904 Quilt-A-Long

Halloween Quilt 1904

(Picture borrowed from the amazing Thelma of Cupcakes and Daisies here)

So now that the Spelling Bee is underway for the year, as well as some other quilt-a-longs I’m involved in (Oh Christmas Tree) I thought I’d get going on the Hallowe’en 1904 quilt.  The pattern was found for me by Leslie, a fabulous reader, and I’ve already roped in one friend to do this with me.  The quilt was designed by Barb Adams of Blackbird Designs.  If you want to follow along, I’ve figured out how we’re going to get done by August, leaving you plenty of time to get it quilted and bound by October.  My friend is doing it with me, so you may see some of her work here as well as  mine.

1halloweenQAL logo

So here is how I’ve envisioned dividing up the quilt into steps (yes, that’s me up there, conjuring up more time at the sewing machine):

Preparation Step: February 2016–buy all the fabrics and find the pattern.  Mine was purchased from Common Threads in Waxahachie, TX (www.commonthreadsquilting.com).  The quilt measures 90 by 90, which is too large for me, so I’m only doing nine blocks.  Each block is 20″ square, and with the outer borders, that should come to roughly  65″ square.  I may change my mind, but this looks good from here.

Step 1: March 2016–Cut out the quilt: the tan backgrounds of the squares, the border triangles, the smaller half-square triangles, and the piano key border

Step 2: April 2016–Assemble three blocks and add pumpkin appliques, using the pumpkin appliqué pattern.  We’ll be adding the HST borders in July, so don’t worry about that now. Because I am not a big believer in re-inventing the wheel, we’ll use Thelma’s method (of Cupcakes and Daisies) for adding the curlicue stem. (NOTE: I’m making a smaller quilt, so will only be doing 2 pumpkins.)

Step 3: May 2016–Assemble two blocks and appliqué one cat, and one owl (refer to Thelma’s quilt).

Step 4: June 2016–Assemble the rest of the blocks.  For me that is five blocks of stars.  We’ll be using Thelma’s method.

Step 5: July 2016–It’s half-square triangle month–HSTs until you can’t see straight, and then you’ll sew them onto your blocks..  There are 24 HST for each block.  In the pattern, and in the photo above from Thelma, they are mixed up and varied, but also harmonized (some have a mix of orange and black, some have just black, some have just orange.)  Make your own rules and go with it.

Step 6: August 2016–Cut piano key borders and the four pinwheels in each corner.  Sew them together and attach them to the quilt.

Ta-done!  My job as a quilt-a-long crazy person is to lay out the steps and to get you (and me) to the end.  From here you’ll do the quilting and the binding.

Hope you decide to join us, and finally have that Halloween quilt you’ve always wanted on October 1st. . . instead of the usual 31st.  To keep in the spirit of things, the Hallowe’en Quilt QAL will post on the 13th of every month. . . whenever that is.

Halloween Greetings

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Update on Oh Christmas Tree QAL:  I’ve updated Step: Prepare to include a couple more places to buy high quality wool felt.  In addition, I’ve been working ahead on the circles, and have a few tips on how to construct them (from Wendy in New Zealand), so you may want to hold off on cutting the circles all out of felt, until you read the next post on March 2nd.  Lastly, today I saw the Simply Moderne magazine at my local JoAnn’s store, if you are still looking for it.

February’s Procrastination

Giveaway picking a winner

I did the Husband Random Name Generator today and Diane Nelson is the winner of the pearl cotton bubbles.  Congratulations, Diane!  I mailed them off this afternoon to you.  Glad you are making good progress on your Oh Christmas Tree.

Frivols Feb 2016

I received my latest Frivols tin, with the cutest little scissor holder–it will just fit nicely over my embroidery scissors.  I signed up for a year of these as a retirement present to myself.  So far it’s going along nicely: I have a stack of seven tins on my sewing room shelf (they have numbers on the side to keep track of them), with none of them made.  I think I need to stop putting this off.

Laurel's puzzle

Laurel let me stipple on her quilt for her yesterday.  Isn’t this just the dream of a mini quilt?  It’s for an auction for Autism Research.

Bee blocks are in my life right now.  I was Queen Bee for January in two bees, and they are rolling in–one batch of words for Spelling Bee was held up by a snowstorm in the midwest, and the rest of the words are being held back by my procrastination (see notes at the end of this post).
MCM book block_2

I finished this book block for Cindy’s granddaughter’s quilt last night, and there’s my signature block.  I love that in our bee we do signature blocks for each other; we also do them in The Spelling Bee too.

Chuck Nohara Feb 2016 Blocks

Time to gear up for February’s Chuck Nohara blocks.  Looks like we have more piecing than appliqué this time around–should go quickly together.  Susan has already started hers: here and here.  She’s quick!

Maybe not getting to them until now means I’m just taking to heart the advice from Adam Grant in his recent New York Times article “Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate.”  He wrote that “while procrastination is a vice for productivity, I’ve learned — against my natural inclinations — that it’s a virtue for creativity.”  There’s a term for that process of always working to finish things early.  It’s pre-crastination.  Grant notes that  “Pre-crastination is the urge to start a task immediately and finish it as soon as possible. If you’re a serious pre-crastinator, progress is like oxygen and postponement is agony. When a flurry of emails land in your inbox and you don’t answer them instantly, you feel as if your life is spinning out of control.”  Some of this is to reduce “working memory loads,” because, as Grant reports, “psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik found that people had a better memory for incomplete tasks than for complete ones. When we finish a project, we file it away. But when it’s in limbo, it stays active in our minds.”

Yes, apparently putting things off can make you more creative.

How can procrastination help?  Grant writes that “[o]ur first ideas, after all, are usually our most conventional. . . . When you procrastinate, you’re more likely to let your mind wander. That gives you a better chance of stumbling onto the unusual and spotting unexpected patterns.”  Of course, as anyone knows, especially my daughter who was helping her son with his last-minute science project  (how do these things slip our children’s minds until the due date??), excessive procrastination can also work against creativity, forcing you to choose the easiest route in order to get things done.

And today, this day in the first week of February, when I’m tired from chasing January’s deadlines and putting away the Christmas tree lights and mailing back all the things that were left in the house over Christmas vacation and summer is too far away to be of any help and QuiltCon is looming so how can I possibly concentrate, it might be helpful to realize that sometimes it’s really okay to put things off, as well as knowing that procrastinators have lots of good company.

Oh Christmas Tree QAL–Step 1

2XmasTreeFeb

I’ve been busy shopping for wools, wool felts, felted wools and all combos in between.  See below for an explanation of what they all are, although you’ve probably figured it out by now.  For those of us just joining in, the first step we did was to prepare by purchasing the Simply Moderne issue #3, which has the pattern we’ll be using; we also purchased all our supplies of wools, threads and fabrics.  It’s never too late to join, just look for the Oh Christmas Tree QAL tag at the bottom and click to locate all the posts on this blog (plus a wee giveaway to reward you for wading through all this).  We are also on Instagram with the tag #ohchristmastreeqal.

Let’s talk about wool, specifically FELTED WOOL and WOOL FELT:

Wool sweaters felted_1 Wool sweaters felted_2

I found some 100% wool sweaters at the thrift store, threw them in the washer with three tennis balls and an old tennis shoe, then dried them.  This process — using hot water, soap and agitation — is called fulling, with the result of felted wool.  I did that twice.  You can see in the top the difference between the two sweaters (they were originally the same size); however, one is called a “washable wool” so it won’t felt.  Some felted more evenly and better than others, but all of them looked like they could fit a toddler, even though they started out as an adult-sized sweater. I plan to use some of this newly felted wool with my flowers and birds.

You can also do this with 100% wool woven fabric.  You want it to felt down evenly so it is dense and won’t ravel.  Many of you purchased already felted wool and are ready to go.  Primitive Gatherings recommends using Steam A Steam 2 on the back to really stabilize the woven felted wool when you are working with it.  If you have tips on working with felted wool, please leave comments on this post, where others can find the info.  Many comments have already been left on the initial post on IG, if you want to look there.

I’m using what Wendy Williams recommended: 100% wool felt, which is that flat stuff your grandmother used to buy in the dime store to make toys, but is now available only in specialty shops (see previous Oh Christmas Tree post and the links below).  Felt does not fray when cut and is extremely stable, although it does shed a bit on first cutting.  It is wool fibers that have been felted together, and is not woven, nor knitted (as in the two examples above).

Try to keep these two terms separate in your mind: wool felt (which is what I’m using) and felted wool. There’s a few more links at the bottom of this post for more reading.ohchristmastree1_supplies ohchristmastree1_supplies2

So these are my supplies (top) and some medallion fabrics (bottom).  These fabrics have a circle pattern in them with fairly ornate decorative motifs inside.  Wendy uses them with her wools to add some flair, especially when creating the circles.

ohchristmastree1_2basefabric

I cut my background fabric, and I added about 1 1/2 inches to the measurements because I’m a chicken about these sorts of things.

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I took the fabric to the ironing board and ironed in a soft crease.  Don’t overdo it.

ohchristmastree1_2bmeasuring

 

I labeled the crosswise branches on the feather tree in the right margin of the first diagram, which you can see in the red box, and following their directions, and put pins along that soft center crease to know where to place things.

ohchristmastree1_1deciding

I cut first one strip of blue (lighter) and then the dark one, and couldn’t decide between the two for my tree.  So I laid out all my supplies on top of the strips.  I liked the country French blue, but decided, finally, that the darker would bring more contrast to the finished quilt.

ohchristmastree1_3acuttingI cut the long center strip, using the measurements in the pattern.  She asks you to taper the wool at the top, so I put a pin in the middle, then measured and placed others.  I angled my 24″ ruler from that middle pin to the outer edge of the center and cut away that wedge.  I didn’t cut enough on the first time, so did it again.  I also cut the top a wee bit larger than she asked –just a bit–as I like the look of it.

ohchristmastree1_3bcutting ohchristmastree1_3ccutting

I also cut these crosswise branches a scant 1/8″ larger, especially on the top branches (I have one more set to go up above) and I’m glad I did.
ohchristmastree1_4apinning

I laid them out on my fabric, using the soft crease and my rulers, in order to get them on the fabric straight.  You don’t want a tipping Christmas tree!  I also used the 24″ ruler as I pinned each set, as the wool will bump up against it, helping you get it on perpendicular to your tree trunk.  I was able to get it on fairly straight that way.ohchristmastree1_4bpinning ohchristmastree1_4cpins

Although I initially pinned them by putting the pins parallel to the crosswise branch, I soon found that it made the wool and the fabric buckle, so I shifted to this method of pinning.  Pin a LOT if you are using felt.  If you’ve used the wool backed with Steam-A-Seam, it will be tacky on the back and it will be easily positioned.  The felted wool people will then go to their ironing board after the first pinning step and press it down.  As Primitive Gatherings notes: “Keep your iron moving at all times so you will not scorch your wools.”  Wool is a natural fiber and can burn and scorch, but you might try using a lightweight pressing cloth in order to protect the wool and not give it a “shine” from too much pressing.  (That’s my college Clothing and Textiles degree being put to good use–thank you, Mrs. Dimas, for your tailoring class.)

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Now start stitching.  I put my ball of pearl cotton in this little holder and boy was that handy.  You can buy one from Bird Brain Designs. (See below for how you can win a couple freebies for yourself.)ohchristmastree1_8stitching

Start with the crosswise branches, and do a close backstitch on them.  I did mine right close together along the branches, like the top example:

backstitch

(from *here*)
You can do a search to find out how to do a backstitch, which is where I found *this* quick YouTube Tutorial.

ohchristmastree1_8astitching

I butted my ends of the crosswise branches together under the main tree trunk and stitched, lifting the “trunk” as I went underneath.  I also tried it with the edges just under the edge of the trunk, leaving a space between them, but felt it was more stable with the wool tucked in further.

ohchristmastree1_9dblthreadsI did an expanded backstitch going up the side of the tree, leaving a space in between each stitch, using two separate threads (one for each side) as I went up.  I decided to sew the tree trunk as I finished each branch, so it would feel quicker to me.  The whole stitching down of branches and trunk took the better part of a morning.

ohchristmastree1_stitches

I have this on high-power magnification on my camera.  I  promise you NO one is going to look at your stitches this closely, so if you make a mistake or it’s not quite right, don’t fret. This whole tree is in the folk/rustic flavor so an imperfection adds to the charm. You can see that I did a closer backstitch on the crosswise branches and an expanded, or open, backstitch on the trunk.  It was easy to stitch.ohchristmastree1_treesewn

Ta-DONE!

ohchristmastree1_tracingSince we always want to prep up for the next step before leaving our project, I’ve also added to this step the tracing-off the patterns for the flowers and the birds.   I’m using freezer paper, as it can be ironed onto my felt and used multiple times.  There are a lot of circles to cut out of your paper in order to prepare.  I’m using Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circles, matching up to what’s on the pattern and tracing around them.  (Yes, I punch holes in my bigger plastic circles so they won’t warp and buckle under the heat of the iron when I use them at the ironing board–the heat and steam can escape through the holes.  I sometimes also mark the center, which is what you see here.)

ohchristmastree1_tracing first steps

I can use the inside of a Perfect Circle to trace those teeny circles in the middle (inside the green square in the first photo), or a spool of thread, if there isn’t a Perfect Circle to match up with what you are doing.  I labeled each circle on my pattern with a master number and an inner number, as in 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4 so when I cut them apart I know which goes where.  I placed them all in plastic bags.

ohchristmastree1_tracing4

For the birds, I labeled them, drawing a dashed line where it crosses the main pattern piece (or is tucked under), added another piece of freezer paper to it with glossy sides together, and stapled them once in each major piece.  I’m not ready to cut them apart yet, as I’ll do that in April, when we do birds. Pay attention to where she says to reverse the bird patterns.  If you want to, you can also start cutting your circles out of your wools and felts and fabrics (if you are using fabrics).  I realize that things often change as we start stitching the flowers and birds (the under-tree scene will come later), but it’s helpful to get going on this step.

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It’s all tucked away, waiting for next month’s step.  Here are the steps again:

January, Step “prepare”: buy the magazine, gather your fabrics, buy the felt/wool, buy/find the pearl cotton.  More about that in a minute.

February, Step 1: Make the tree on the background and stitch it down.  If you use wool felt, she has an easy appliqué method. Prep up the circles by tracing them and organizing them together.

March, Step 2: Make 21 flowers.

April, Step 3: Make 10 birds.

May, Step 4: Make the scene at the bottom.  Wendy’s pattern (IG: flyingfishkits) has two cavorting reindeer.  I plan to switch mine out to a simple nativity.  Your choice.  (If I were you, I’d also start haunting her IG site as she has lots of great embroidery ideas for the flowers. I’d also consider buying her book, Wild Blooms and Colorful Creatures, for more tips and helps.)

June, Step 5: Appliqué down the flowers.

July, Step 6: Appliqué down the birds and the scene.

August, Step 7: Sawtooth border (reds).

September, Step 8 (finish up Quilt-A-Long): Make wonky star blocks, sew them together and attach border #2.  Ta-Done!  I just have to deliver you here.  You are on your own for getting it quilted and bound.

We’ve done:

1Xmas Tree and now2XmasTreeFeb

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll post Step Two on March 2nd.  The second day of the month will be our regular posting day from now until we finish, and I’ll also put a reminder up on Instagram.

3XmasTreeMar

Some blogposts that have tips for working with wool:

Fresh Figs

Black Mountain Needleworks

American Pie Designs

Molly and Mama

To enter the giveaway for TWO perle cotton bubbles, leave a comment below. I’ll choose someone by Friday and get them sent out to you by next Monday, just as you are ready to start sewing your trees!

 

Friend and Foe: Four-in-Art Challenge • Feb 2016

FriendFoe_front

Friend & Foe
Quilt No. 156, February 2016
#1 in the Color Series: Microscope

We have a new year and new members (see below) and a new theme: Color.

TaxolMicroscope1And this quarter’s challenge was “microscope.”  So of course, I started haunting microscopy sites, trying to find the right molecule to make for this challenge.  And it had to be colorful, right?

I recently had two friends diagnosed with breast cancer, and one of my other friends, Heather, is a long-term survivor of Stage IV breast cancer.  I knew Taxol was used to combat aggressive cancers; so wrote to my friend Heather (also a professor in biology) for her reaction to that drug.  She went through all the sciencey stuff, but I kept asking “Friend, or, Foe?”

Finally she wrote: “Foe during the treatment.  Friend for the result.”

Taxol assemblage

For something that causes such horrible side effects in the treatment, the molecule is this lovely spherical shape, with the innermost parts looking like four petals of a daisy, or an airplane propeller:

taxol

Of course, I can use any color I want — right? — so I decided to use periwinkle as the background, with magenta and purple as the parts of the molecule.

FriendFoe_1

I constructed the bit I wanted to by paper piecing, then plain-old-pieced the rest.  I stitched it to a white square, then a chartreuse square, as the purple was just lost on the quilt, plus it imitated the circle around the molecule.  I made different sizes of different fabrics, then finally, small circles.  Then came the arranging: FriendFoe_2a FriendFoe_2FriendFoe_2c

FriendFoe_0

Using a font like Simone used two challenges back, I printed it the words on freezer paper in my inkjet printer, then cut out each letter.  I didn’t cut out the centers, but just free-handed that when it was time to quilt around them.

FriendFoe_0a

FriendFoe_3cFriendFoe_3

I first outlined the letters with small free-motion quilting stitches, then started stippling around them.FriendFoe_3b FriendFoe_3a FriendFoe_4

I mean, I had just taken a class with David Taylor and if I didn’t know how to stipple now, I never would.  I decided to leave the edges raw on the white and chartreuse fabrics to bring a little organic texture to the process.  All the while, I’m thinking about the women I’ve known who have breast cancer, and while I stippled I sent them –and continue to send them– good karma for a long and happy life.

FriendFoe_back

The birdcage fabric reminded me of that upper drawing of the sphere of Taxol, plus I liked it.
FriendFoe_frontupsidedown

I had originally planned to have the quilt go this way: with the “friend” part first, but then I remembered what Heather said, and I realized that the Foe was first, then Friend.  So I switched it around (correct orientation is at the top of the post).

science hallway

We went over to my husband’s work (he’s a professor at the local Big U) and I loved this picture of a real “science” hallway, with all the faculty’s posters of their results (shown at meetings) hanging along the hallway.

DAE office

This is his office, and why he never cares if my sewing room at home is a mess.  Thank you, dear.

Taxol Butterfly Duo

Simone and I at church, holding our Four-in-Art quilts.  I am happy to have found such a fine group of quilters to make art quilts with.  Bet you are wondering what Simone made, right?  Please visit the rest of our group, to see how they interpreted Color: Microscope.  We also have a blog, Four-in-Art Quilts, where you can find us all.

Betty         https://www.flickr.com/photos/toot2

Camilla         http://faffling.blogspot.co.nz/

Catherine         http://www.knottedcotton.com

Janine         http://www.rainbowhare.com

Nancy         http://www.patchworkbreeze.blogspot.com

Rachel         http://www.rachel-thelifeofriley.blogspot.com

Simon         http://quiltalicious.blogspot.com

Susan         http://patchworknplay.blogspot.com

And Susan just announced next quarter’s challenge: Music.  Reveal is on May 1st, 2016.  Can’t wait to combine both music and color together.

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Occasionally my blog software places ads here so I can blog for free.  It’s a good trade-off.  I do not control the content, nor frequency, nor receive any money from these ads.

How to Make a Signature Block (for a Bee)

SignatureBlockFeb

In two of the bees I’m in, we ask for Signature Blocks to be included with each block we make for each other.  Here’s one of my earlier ones.  I’m writing this post as a tutorial for the newer members of our bees.

There’s been some pretty creative uses of these blocks:

Back of Table Runner

Signature Blocks — image from Susan of Patchwork N Play

 

Sampler Quilt 2015with SigsI worked them into the front of my Sampler Quilt (in magenta circles), a blatant copying of Carla’s inventiveness in an earlier quilt.

Signature Blocks on Susan’s quilt (Patchwork N Play)

So here’s how:

Signature square_1Start with one 3 1/2″ square (base) and two 2 1/2″ squares (accents).  We generally use the fabric from our blocks.

signature-block-triangles2A

Snowball them onto two opposite corners.

Signature block sewn cut

Trim off the excess, then press open.

Signature square_2 Signature Square_3

Press a scrap of freezer paper behind the center white band.  Because I have a long name and a long screen name (what I use on Instagram and on my blog), I’ve made a cardboard template that I slide under the signature area.  I like to sign my name, then my screen name, and sneak in a date.  Then last, I put my city and state.
Signature Square_4

I use a size 08 Micron Pigma Pen.  The freezer paper keeps it stable while I write.  Peel off the freezer paper and send the signature block with your beemate’s blocks.

Signature Block Jan

Chuck Nohara • January 2016 blocks finished

Jan 2016 Chuck Nohara

Happy to report that I finished my January’s Chuck Nohara Blocks a few days early, even with totally redoing the house on the hill block (#cn968). (The upper left fabrics are from Sherri and Chelsi’s new line of fabrics, called Valley. Yes, that is a shameless plug for her two lines, as I love the colors and patterns.)  By the way, that  (#cn968) is how we tag them on Instagram if you are ever looking for a block, and want to see what others have done.  After seeing what others put together, I switched out the house colors (previous version shown below):

Old Chuck Nohara 968Yeah.  I didn’t like it much either, although I like all those fabrics.

ChuckNoharaChoices2016

Chuck Nohara Jan16 planned

Jan 2016 Chuck Nohara totals

Here they all are so far.  No, I haven’t trimmed up all the blocks yet.  Mine will measure 6″ when they are finished (6 1/2″ trimmed).  Here’s February’s blocks, in case you want to think about them early:

2-2016_ChuckNohara

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Quarterly Reveal on February 1st

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See you on February 2nd to begin our Oh Christmas Tree QAL!

Reflections on Road to California 2016

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It was a lovely ride.

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Road to California began as a local quilt juried quilt show that over 20+ years has built itself up to be a nationally-ranked show with outstanding quilts in all categories.  Unlike other popular national quilt shows, they limit their entries to three per person, so this year’s entries totaled just over 500.  After jurying them, the field was narrowed to about 250 quilts.  You can imagine my surprise to learn that I’d been awarded a ribbon in the Traditional, Wall, Pieced category, a high moment given this past year of sturm und drang (German, for “storm and stress”).  When I found out about my ribbon Tuesday night after my guild meeting (they sent out emails), there was a lot of whooping and hollering and hugging my husband in excitement.  He was as thrilled as I was, as he has been there every step of the way.

Road2016_2

I was also happy that Colorwheel Blossom was accepted as well, shown here on the right in one of the bays at the quilt show, hanging among other fine entries.  Overall, many of us were saying it was an outstanding quilt show, from top to bottom, and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

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Ewe Are My Sunshine, by Janet Stone, won the Marie White Prize of $7500.

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Silk Road Sampler, by Melissa Sobotka, won Best of Show (and a $10,000 prize). This was created with raw edge appliqué, and some use of paints for shading and tinting.  Both of these quilts were so different, but so stunning.

Road2016_3

All of the prize winners can be found on *this* page; above is a screen shot of how it looks–when you click on the photo it enlarges it to a nice size so you can see the details.  I also put a lot of the quilts on my Instagram feed (button is to the right), along with their names and titles, if they were posted.

On Wednesday, I took EQ7 out of the Box, taught by Barbara Vlack, a terrific class where I learned a few tricks.  After class I stayed for a while to help hang quilts, joining the incredible army of volunteers who had been at that all day long.  On Thursday, I enjoyed David Taylor’s You, Too, Can Stipple.  Even though I passed stippling long ago, I also learned a lot.  If you ever get a chance to take a class from either of them, sign up immediately.  Some famous quilters aren’t teachers, but Taylor’s class flowed well and was really fun (he’s also pretty funny with a dry sense of humor).

Thursday afternoon Sherri, a friend, joined me from out-of-town, and on Friday morning we met up with a large contingent of the Good Heart Quilters, a local group of quilters in my area.  We carpooled in, then split up to shop see the quilts.  At noon, we were joined by more Good Heart Quilters, and two more quilters from the LA area (Megan and Michelle), and we all went over to El Torito for lunch, enjoying a few minutes off-site to celebrate Simone’s birthday.  Back in the cars for more quilt show, then home again.

Shop Hop in Temecula

Saturday, Sherri and Laurel (one of the Good Heart Quilters) and I did a mini shop-hop, hitting three stores in the Temecula area, and enjoying lunch at a local Mexican restaurant.  We were buying wool for their Oh Christmas Tree QAL, which begins next week in earnest (so I hope you are all getting your supplies, too).  If I look funny, it’s because I was standing on my tiptoes to see over the high rails of the antique bed I was posing in front of. Plus I’m really tired from too much fun seeing the quilts.

Sunday, Sherri flew home, and Dave (my husband) and I headed up to Road for one last blast of quilts, to pick up a flier so I could subscribe to both QuiltMania and Simply Moderne (it took me a while, but I’m finally going to do it) and pick up my quilts.  We were back home by 5 p.m., the fun ride over.

After last year’s high of having three quilts accepted into Road, I didn’t think my quilting life could get any better.  That year still remains a high, but this year was really amazing, too.  In reviewing the year, I must also add in the lovely emails from all my readers, the relationships we’ve developed, as well as the quilting, the ups and downs, the travels, the successes and the failures you’ve shared with me.  As I explained to one white-glove volunteer, who asked about my Pineapples and Crowns quilt, that quilt is really a collaboration, a celebration of community.

And so I celebrate us all, as we begin the year!

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Quarterly Reveal on February 1st

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See you on February 2nd to begin our Oh Christmas Tree QAL!

Microscopy for Four-in-Art Feb 2016

cocaine

This microscopic image is cocaine.

I found it while researching images for this quarter’s Four-in-Art challenge of “microscopic.”  The overarching theme is color, so of course, I was drawn to this as an idea for a quilt, hating what I’d already started piecing a couple of days ago.  As any good grad student knows, the best way to postpone the inevitable work on a deadline is to do more research.

The image of cocaine is from a website run by Michael Davidson, who recently passed away.  But he would take the images from his laboratory’s microscope and use them to make neckties.  I thought we could keep going and use them to make quilts.

nioxide

This is nickel oxide on sodium chloride, an image from his website.  After exploring his butterfly gallery, I moved on to the pharmaceutical section, and noticed that not only were Mr. Davidson and his team a whiz with microscopy, they also had a sense of humor, as witnessed by the last line in the description of caffeine:

caffeine

To quote: “Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant most commonly found in the coffee we drink every morning….Symptoms of overdose include insomnia, restlessness, tremor, delirium, tachycardia, and running of the mouth.”

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Taxol, a drug used in chemotherapy.  I’ve pinned quite a few of these to my Pinterest Board Art Quilts, as they will become the inspiration for this quarter’s efforts.

serendipity illusNot only was wandering through the internets a way to spark my creativity for this month’s looming deadline (to be published on Feb. 1st), but also I allowed myself to goof off do the research because of an article recently published in the New York Times about Serendipity, or more specifically, “How to Cultivate the Art of Serendipity,” by Pagan Kennedy.  She talked first about the word’s origins, noting that we “think of serendipity as something like dumb luck.”  But it was coined in 1754, when Horace Walpole noted that he “had been entranced by a Persian fairy tale about three princes from the Isle of Serendip who possess superpowers of observation.” In writing a letter to a friend, “Walpole suggested that this old tale contained a crucial idea about human genius: ‘As their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.’ And he proposed a new word — “serendipity” — to describe this princely talent for detective work.”  So, as Kennedy notes, the word meant “a skill rather than a random stroke of good fortune.”

She quotes Sanda Erdelez, a University of Missouri information scientist, who divides serendipitsts into three groups: ” ‘non-encounterers’ ” or people who see “through a tight focus, a kind of chink hole, and they tended to stick to their to-do lists when searching for information rather than wandering off into the margins. Other people were “occasional encounterers,” who stumbled into moments of serendipity now and then. Most interesting were the “super-encounterers,” who reported that happy surprises popped up wherever they looked. The super-encounterers loved to spend an afternoon hunting through, say, a Victorian journal on cattle breeding, in part, because they counted on finding treasures in the oddest places. In fact, they were so addicted to prospecting that they would find information for friends and colleagues.”

So, maybe in “researching” my Four-in-Art quilt, I’m just really being a super-encounterer, finding that “happy surprises” pop up with each click of the mouse button.

Or maybe, I am just putting off the inevitable: getting the work done.

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Four-in-Art Microscopy.  Coming soon to a blog near you.  Premiering February 1st, 2016.

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P.S.  Pagan Kennedy has written a new book, titled Inventology.  The blurb from her website says “Inventology is a must-read for anyone who is curious about creativity and imaginative leaps.”

 

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

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The winner of our giveaway is Quilter in Motion, aka Marsha.  And no, she doesn’t get a chicken dinner–I just like saying that.  Thank you so much for all your birthday memories–I loved reading them!  I have a couple of favorites, and have read many of them to my husband, who also picked a few of his favs.  You are all the best.

You’ve all been busy out there in Quilterland, contacting felted wool/wool felt suppliers and I have a few more pieces of information for you, as you collect and gather.

First up is a note from Stephanie, saying she contacted Errin Rissberger at QuiltingAcres on ETSY, and bought this fine array of colors of felted wool, all for about $69.50:

rainbow of felted wools

Stephen had shopped around at some other sites and found this one to be most reasonable.  Erin has those bundles up there, ready to go, if you want one too.

Prairie Woolens FeltBrenda contacted Donna, of Prairie Woolens, and she wrote that she does: “create custom kits for pretty much any pattern whether it’s something we carry or not and there are no requirements.  I checked out the picture and I would say it would likely be the hand-dyed colors [of wool].  The 100% wool felt and the felted wool are similar in thickness so I think you could use them together in the same project.  I’ve mixed felt and wool together in the same project and it works wonderfully.  Hopefully this helps but if you have any questions, please let me know.”

Primitive Gatherings Wool

This screenshot is Primitive Gatherings’ offering.  I was down in there shop this past week, and they stock felted wools, but no wool felt.  They are beautiful, though.  You can purchase them on their website, too.

Whether or not you’ve already purchased your wool, you can bet that halfway through the project, you’ll be wanting a different color, so either head over there now, or save this for later.  I so appreciate those who have written in to pass on information for others to benefit from.

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The next post on this will be in a couple of weeks, just after the beginning of the February.  On February 1st, we have the reveals for our art quilt group, Four-in-Art, a collaborative group of quilters who wanted to try something different.  We post four times a year (hence the name) and work in the chosen themes.  This year’s theme is Color, and February’s challenge is Microscopic.

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Before that, I’ll be going to Road to California, where I’ll have two quilts hanging in the show–if you are going, please DM me on IG and find me–I’ll be the girl with the goofy smile standing in front of one of these quilts.  I generally post a lot on flood Instagram with quilt photos from the show, so you can find me there: occasionalpiecequilt (the button is on the right, if that’s easier).

Okay, Marsha, I’ll be in touch with you to get your snail mail address and get your magazine off to you!

Oh Christmas Tree Quilt-A-Long & a Giveaway!

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When I first saw this Christmas Tree on Instagram, I fell in love.  So I proposed a Quilt-A-Long that would force enable me  to to get it completed in time for Christmas 2016, for there is power in having to put your innermost feelings about quilts/goal setting out there in the world and shaming yourself into finishing it.  I’m really good at this, I know. I wrote to Wendy Williams, who designed this pattern, and she gave us her blessing, and said “she can hardly wait to see the quilts that will come of this.”  So onward, everyone!

Simply Moderne Scan

The magazine where this pattern is found is Simply Modern Issue #3, and that’s the giveaway part.  I have an extra copy which you can win, but wait a minute.  First let’s do the business of this.  If you aren’t lucky enough to win this, you can buy it from Fat Quarter Shop, or the QuiltMania people, or if you live in Australia, it’s on Wendy’s website Flying Fish Kits (link below).

I’ve broken it down into several steps, some easy and for some months you will be carting around your embroidery around with you everywhere you go, but these are definitely do-able steps.  Here they are:

January, Step “prepare”: buy the magazine, gather your fabrics, buy the felt/wool, buy/find the pearl cotton.  More about that in a minute.

February, Step 1: Make the tree on the background and stitch it down.  If you use wool felt, she has an easy appliqué method.

March, Step 2: Make 21 flowers.

April, Step 3: Make 10 birds.

May, Step 4: Make the scene at the bottom.  Wendy’s pattern (IG: flyingfishkits) has two cavorting reindeer.  I plan to switch mine out to a simple nativity.  Your choice.  (If I were you, I’d also start haunting her IG site as she has lots of great embroidery ideas for the flowers. I’d also consider buying her book, Wild Blooms and Colorful Creatures, for more tips and helps.)

June, Step 5: Appliqué down the flowers.

July, Step 6: Appliqué down the birds and the scene.

August, Step 7: Sawtooth border (reds).

September, Step 8 (finish up Quilt-A-Long): Make wonky star blocks, sew them together and attach border #2.  Ta-Done!  I just have to deliver you here.  You are on your own for getting it quilted and bound.

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So here’s the drill for Step: prepare.  Wendy calls for wool felt.  Some of my IG followers have left a lengthy series of comments on an earlier IG post about threads and wools (scroll back in the feed to find it–it says Step 1 on it, which is an oops, but it’s those Flying Monkeys again).  You can buy 100% wool and felt it yourself (more tips in her book or on the internet), or buy 100% wool felt.  According to @yondergirlie, the preferred is the felt, as you don’t have to stitch it down as much as it doesn’t fray (sometimes the felted wools can fray).  The general consensus was to use pearl cotton #8 for the embroidery.  According to the pattern, you’ll also need a medallion-style piece of fabric to appliqué in the center of some of the flowers.  I love Wendy’s combination of wool and felt together.

OhChristmasTreeSupplies

(all of my felts, threads and wools; some of the fabrics, and Sue Spargo’s Creative Stitches book for embroidery ideas)

I visited with the people at a local shop today that specializes in felted wool.  When using the wool they use Steam-A-Seam 2 to back their pieces, fuse them to the top, and then they handstitch around them, using pearl cotton size 12 thread.  All these are options for you to try and to experiment with.  I’ll be using wool felt, plus some felted wool sweaters for accent pieces, that I recently re-discovered in my garage (let’s hear it for UFOs that deliver to your newest project).  I also found a stash of wool felt that I purchased in Munich, Germany some years ago.  If you want to take a trip there, I can provide the address (it’s another one of those things that I buy, hoard away, and then later find a use for, much to my delight).

Many others mentioned an ETSY shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/quiltingacres [copy and paste addresses into your browser address bar].  I’ve also seen Primitive Gatherings mentioned for felted wool, as well as @benziedesign on Instagram.  I have found lots of Christmas fabric on sale this past month to use for the wonky stars, borders and background.  So, gather away and get ready for the Oh, Christmas Tree quilt-a-long!

UPDATE (2/11/16):  I’ve found two more sources for high-quality felt from companies here in the United States.  I’ve ordered from both of them and can attest to the quality of these felts (and no, they aren’t giving me anything for free).

Felt A Childs Dream

The first one is A Child’s Dream.  Above snapshot is from their website; they have several different thicknesses and many more colors, but I went for the “Holland wool felt” type of wool.

The Felt Pod copy

The second is The Felt Pod.   Again, a snapshot from their website shows many of their different products in their wool felt.  This is the “Reds” page.

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Now for the giveaway (domestic only).  HOWEVER!  if you live in Australia, Wendy has patterns of this tree for sale on her blog (just thought you’d like to know).

Since it’s my birthday tomorrow, I’d like you to leave a one-or two-line memory about your best birthday ever.  I’ll randomly draw a name this weekend and get it sent off on Monday.  Make sure you fill in an accurate email address as I’ll use that to contact you.  And if you throw your name in the ring for this magazine, I’ll expect to see a finished quilt this coming December, as you wouldn’t want to just hoard it away from someone who really really really wants it, would you?  Leave your comments below.

NOTE: Comments are now closed.  Giveaway winner will be announced this afternoon (Friday, Jan. 8th).