Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Catching up

 I can't believe it.   It's almost that time of year.  No, I'm not talking about Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I'm talking about the Quiltville Reader Appreciation Mystery Quilt.  Every year I look forward to it and I love the anticipation that builds up on the Quiltville Open Studio Facebook page as we get closer.  Bonnie has already posted the recommended color way and the first clue comes out on Black Friday and since I hate crowds and shopping and the frenzy that comes with Black Friday a day of mystery quilting sounds like absolute heaven.  This year is the first time I'll start the new mystery with the previous year's mystery completely done!  Grand illusion is quilted, labeled and bound. 

Sew exciting!

But it's been awhile since I last posted so here's the Reader Digest Condensed Version of the on-goings in my world since I last posted...

Sept:   Attended my son's graduation from Fort Worth Police Academy and is now on Patrol; 
Moved to Louisville Kentucky to live in a hotel room with my hubby, 3 dogs and a cat.  Found three, yes THREE Singer Featherweights at an antique store and purchased them for $325-- that's the TOTAL price, NOT each. :-)  

End of September - first week of October:  Returned to San Antonio to pick up furniture and quilt stuff. Riding 18 hours in the cab of a UHaul is the stuff of nightmares!  Was home long enough to unload the truck and pack a bag....

October:  Cruised the Caribbean with Bonnie Hunter!  Quiltville cruises are the best and I highly recommend them; 

returned from Caribbean and the harsh reality of a house still in boxes.  Note to self: boxes will not unpack themselves and there are no house elves outside of Harry Potter's world. My son Matthew moves to Virginia So he's now only 9 hours away!

November:  back to San Antonio for a quick visit before my hubby's job hits Peak Season.  Love seeing my grand babies and it's nice to see my kids too. 
We enjoyed an early Thanksgiving with them before making the 18 hour drive back to Louisville.  

Now, as I type this on my iPhone my hubby is taking us to Buck Mountain where we'll be spending Thanksgiving with Bonnie and Dave at Quiltvilla. 

I am truly blessed.

Piece and Joy!


Saturday, September 12, 2015

It Was The Other Guy!

It seems the previous tenant of our little Kentucky home neglected to settle his debts with the various utility companies servicing our address.  As a consequence of HIS misdeeds, we have had to really fight and struggle to get any services!  The electric company was the first that I called and that went smooth as silk... A quick credit check and BOOM! No problems there at all.  But every other service has been a nightmare! The water company insisted on a face-to-face visit with photo ids and social security cards.  Dave's SS card was packed in a box so he offered his passport and his military id along with his driver's license. To the water company, these silly little government issued identification methods were UNACCEPTABLE.  Nope!  They wanted a picture-less social security card.  The cable company insisted on a copy of our lease as well as identification and will get back to us once a supervisor has reviewed our documents and removed the block on our address which means, until then, no cable or internet.

It's bad enough that I'm missing my lovely grand babies and kids and my wonderful sewing loft.  Why must I also be without internet and cable??? I have the sewing area set up in the basement but without the possibility of TV or Netflix, I'm uninspired.

So I sit in our hotel room, working on wool applique and watching TV.  Wool is fun to work with and a lot easier and quicker than needle-turn applique. The project is a pattern called Ruby Red Dots by Sheri Howard and as written is a needle-turn applique.  But, if you reduce the size of the pattern using your copier you get manageable-sized blocks that can be done in wool.  Hurrah!

I started this a while ago.  It's one of those UFOs that got put away and then forgotten.  I have all the blocks done and set in their sashing.  All that is left is the borders!  I don't know why I never finished it, but it's getting finished now.  The corner stones are done and all but one of them is trimmed.  The bottom border was started and last night I got it finished.    One down, three to go.

Today is a cool day in KY; about 74 degrees which to me is practically freezing.  It's a good day to stay inside with a cup of coffee, streaming my favorite movies via hotel internet and working on my wool applique project.  Life is good.

Piece and Joy

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Antiquing in Louisville

Home is where you hang your hat and these days I'm hanging my hat in a hotel room.  We'll be here until our furniture arrives later this month so we are making due in a little one room efficiency.  It's actually not that bad except for the fact that I am here with 3 dogs and a cat.  Mind you, they are little dogs but it's a lot for about 400 square feet.  Of course, just because its a hotel doesn't mean it can't be homey...all you have to do is throw a quilt on the bed and you are all set. My Roll, Roll Cotton Boll quilt does the trick and really helps make the room feel like home.  

We arrived here in Louisville late Saturday evening and so we spent Sunday getting a little familiar with our immediate area.  First stop was the Bristol Bar and Grill where they serve a fabulous buffet breakfast.  I'm not usually a fan of a buffet but the Waffles with Caramel Bourbon Sauce was phenomenal!  We really enjoyed the cheese grits, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, and pastry but the WAFFLES!  YUM!

After our brunch we headed toward downtown and what should appear before my eyes...?  An ANTIQUE store.  I love wandering through antique stores.  I love looking for vintage sewing machines and quilts and the Louisville Antique Market didn't let me down.

I saw this sweet machine and really considered bringing it home but it had some wiring issues so it stayed behind.  I loved the name on it...Sew Tex... reminiscent of my Texas home. And then I saw this baby: I have been coveting these spool drawers for years and they are always so expensive.  This one was $850!  Yikes.  It stayed behind too.  

And then there were all the quilts. Lots and lots of quilts...



Absolutely Wonderful!  I really love to see all the love and commitment put into each one of these beauties.  Such inspiration! \]And speaking of inspiration, my last post was about all the inspiration I have received from Bonnie Hunter and as part of that post I had a give-away of her book More Adventures with Leaders and Enders.  Well, we have a winner!  Congratulations Barbara B! Please send me an email to CottonToQuilts@gmail.com with your mailing address and I'll get that right out to you.

I spent most of the day working in the basement of the new house setting up my quilt area. Tomorrow I'll have it about set and I'll be able to start sewing again.  For now, I think I'll spend a little time with my hexie project while I watch a little TV.  Until next time...

Piece and Joy,


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Becoming a Bonniac

I learned to quilt from a woman named Rachel.  Rachel was the owner and operator of the Amish quilt shop, Rose Valley Quilts (now closed) in Dover, Delaware.  My hubby was stationed at Dover AFB and I happened to visit the shop with a friend on a lark.  My friend and I admired the pile of quilts on the bed Rachel had in the middle of her shop and as Rachel and another woman began the traditional "bed-turning" I fell in love with quilting.  I immediately went to the local Jo-Ann fabrics and signed up for the beginner quilt class which was taught by a Mennonite woman whose name escapes me.  It was a good class and I learned some basics but I had so many difficulties and questions. A little two-hour class once a week just didn't cut it.  So, I would take my block and my questions to Rachel.  Rachel was patient and kind and oh so helpful.  She taught me so many things and really nurtured my love of quilting and so it is Rachel who truly taught me how to quilt in a gas-lamp lit room on a treadle machine.  That was 24 years ago.

In the last 24 years, I have fed my passion for quilting with the cool tools, fabulous patterns and books and marvelous fabrics and, occasionally, I actually finished a quilt or two.  But the truth is that its been just the last few years that I have really made a leap in my quilting, extracting maximum pleasure from not just the completed quilt but from the process of making the quilts.

I just finished Celtic Solstice- Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville Mystery from November 2013.  (Well, I still have to do the hand-stitching on the binding but I'm calling it done.)   It's the second quilt finish for the month of August.  I'm not talking wall-hangings or table runners.  I'm talking big quilts and as you can see, Celtic Solstice has a ton of pieces in each block.   My husband was a little surprised that I had a second finish so quickly after May Flowers and commented about it.  He said, "You really seem to have a rhythm going in getting these done." The truth is that it's not so much a change in rhythm as it is in the way I quilt.  

My Celtic Solstice top measured EXACTLY 113" square...yes, exactly.  After quilting it, it ended up at 111" square, exactly. And it went together beautifully.   I didn't struggle to get units to fit, or points to match.  My borders lay flat and every bit of it came from my stash including the backing.  It's not perfect- After all I am human but it is beautiful and, just as important, it's done. So, what changed? This was possible because I am a BONNIAC.

A Bonniac is someone who follows Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville.com and is one step away from stalker status.  (It's a small step but a very important one).  I have followed Bonnie for years via her blog and met her in person a few years ago in one of her classes.  Since then I have taken a dozen or so of her classes, cruised with her to the Caribbean (and will again in October) and in the process gained a friend.  I told her at dinner one evening that even with all the classes I've taken and numerous times I have heard her speak I learn something new every time, without fail.  Everything I have learned has made a huge impact on how my quilts go together and how I am finally seeing finished quilts...not just started.   And all of this is because of Bonnie. So, in honor of the joy and pleasure I had putting together Celtic Solstice and seeing it finished and in the hope of passing on the wisdom, I give you: 


(You can find the details of each of these tips and tricks on Bonnie's Blog 
via the tips and techniques tab or through her YouTube videos and blog posts.)

    10.  Scrap USER System.  Make the change from Saver to User.   You won't regret it.

      9.  Leaders and Enders- because thread is expensive and two quilts are better than                one.

      8.  HST production or Sew and Flips: It's not the SEW line, it's the FOLD line.

      7.  Go with a Vintage Sewing Machine instead of new computerized one...                              you won't regret it. Vintage machines for the most part are designed to be serviced            by the owner.  They are cheaper and although not necessarily lightweight, you can            move them place to place without worrying about crashing the computer                          components. 

      6.  Neutral is anything is with a neutral background and lighter than a brown paper                bag.

      5.  Bonus triangles are da bomb!  Make them out of that 'flipped' corner from other                projects as you go and you'll be ready for the next project that requires 347,248                HST's

      4.  You paid $9, $10, $11, or $12 (or more) a yard for the scraps you're thinking                    about throwing away. String blocks and stash user system will put those scraps to              good use. 

      3.  Focus your energies and you'll see progress!  Pick a project and go, go go! Don't                dilute your progress by working on a dozen projects at once.  Better to use 10                  hours on one project, than one hour each on 10 projects.  Finishing one quilt is                  always a great motivator to finish others.

      2.  30% - 60 %:  At 30% you'll be tempted to put away a project, but if you power                through and get to 60% you'll be so excited to see it come together that you'll                  actually finish.  

  And the number 1 thing I've learned from Bonnie Hunter:

      1. Unit Size Matters...Seam Allowance size doesn't.  The truth is is that you can             have a one-inch seam allowance if you want.  The quarter-inch seam allowance is             to eliminate bulk because of all the seams and joints.  But when it comes to putting           the blocks together the UNITS have to be the right size or they won't fit together.             If the units fit together the blocks will be the right size and eliminate the dreaded               sliver trimming, missing points, floating points, and a ton of other common                       problems you have when you put those blocks together.  Take the time to get a                 seam allowance that gives you the right UNIT size and you will make your quilting             life so much easier and really enjoy the process of putting your blocks together.

So, to help you on the path to better quilting, I am having a give-away!  I am giving away Bonnie Hunter's More Adventures with Leaders and Enders autographed by the author.  All you have to do is leave your comment here on the blog with your email address.  I'll pick a lucky winner on Monday, Sept 7th.  Good luck!

Piece and Joy!


Saturday, August 22, 2015

My (New) Old Kentucky Home

Oh my!  The roller coaster ride continues!  Get this...I'm moving to KENTUCKY!  I can't believe it! My husband very recently accepted a job with UPS and so we'll kick the Texas dust off our boots and head to Louisville, Kentucky.  It's all very short notice and things are moving so quickly.  We've found a nice rental house in Louisville.  Get this... it's only 990 square feet! Yikes!  Oh well, it will work while we look around and get a feel for where we want to put down our roots.

There's a semi-finished basement that is not included in the square feet and will become my quilt studio.   The really nice thing is that it has a little half bath in basement... convenient, huh? It will be soooo hard to leave Texas because my kids and grandbabies live here but ya gotta do what ya gotta do, right?

So, I'm in this state of "HURRY HURRY HURRY!  Get things done by the end of August because after that its moving time!"  If you'll remember, I started May Flowers at Jo's Country Junction Retreat in West Union, Iowa at the end of July.  Well, I finished!  This isn't the greatest pic... I had to stand on a counter to get it... I'll take some outdoor pics tomorrow but I just HAD to share it!  It is really different for me.  I tend to do more traditional patterns with "civil war' fabrics and colors.  I had to really dig in the stash to get these brights and truth be told I did buy about 8 one-third cuts of fabric to have some variety.

I pieced together the back using leftover block fabrics and a star block that I had Kelli Hanken and Jo Kramer, the designers and instructors, sign. You can see Bobbins Hunter, my cat, inspect the quilting.  He's very particular.

The star was placed into a 'rejected' flower that I made for the top but decided that it didn't work... not enough contrast between the hot pink flower and the red center. I had planned to put the signature star on the front but forgot about it as I was constructing the top!

I pulled the embroidery machine out and made a label and incorporated it as part of the back.  I thought I was being clever but I didn't consider that when I quilted the top, the label would get quilted too.  It actually worked out ok and I didn't have to hand stitch it to the quilt so, yea for me!  If you look closely, you'll see that I used some Iowa fabric I found at the LQS for the label.

I also want to share this quilt that I quilted for a customer.  I don't usually share customer quilts but I really love the way this one came out.  The quilter is a new quilter and likes to incorporate hand embroidery into her tops.  This quilt is for her son and is just the center of the quilt.  I love the way Spidey looks like he is jumping out of the quilt.

So, I know this is getting a little long but one last thing.... a little tip from me to you. I was making the binding for May Flowers and needed to measure the length to make sure that I had enough.  I feel like I always need to measure at the ironing board.  Sometimes it's binding, sometimes it stash. Anyway, I have a measuring tape and rulers but they always end up in the way or on the floor. My solution?  I took my ruler and marked my ironing board  cover.  Yep, just grabbed the Sharpie and problem solved.  I marked a full yard along the board using the most common measurements.   Works like a charm and I'm not wasting a bunch of time looking for my tape measure or ruler.  Score!

Well, I have so much to get done this weekend so I better get to it!

Piece and Joy


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Scrappy Bargello 2

I did it!  I finished another Scrappy Bargello quilt! This one was commissioned by my Uncle Frank and Aunt Gloria.  They were here for a visit over the summer and the room they were in had my Scrappy Bargello on the bed.  They really liked it and asked if I could do one for them and so I did. This is a really great pattern if youv'e crossed that fine line from pre-cut stash builder to jelly-roll hoarder.  It looks really intimidating and like it has lots of layout and planning but Bonnie's pattern requires only 2 ½ inch strips!
The secret to success here is in the cutting instructions.  You can find them on Bonnie's blog along with the Braided Border instructions which are here.  

And don't worry, I made sure to give Bonnie the credit for the pattern

There is so much going on in my world right now, it's absolutely crazy!  Lots of new adventures that I am dying to tell you all about but until things are on solid ground I have to hold them to myself just a while a longer. Believe me when I say, keeping big news to myself is not one of my fort├ęs so as soon as I can I'll be sharing :-)
In the meantime, I'll continue working on my many many ongoing projects.  Currently on my design wall is May Flowers which is a quilt from the book Country Girl Modern.  This is from the class I took in Iowa with Jo Hansen and Kelli Hanken of Jo's Country Junction.  I have to say it's a great quilt that goes together very quilckly as there are no seams to match; an excellent choice if you are a beginner or teaching a beginner class.  I have all the pieces and parts done EXCEPT for the oodles of little star blocks. The stars are of the sew and flip variety which means drawing diagonal lines across a billion squares. I know a lot of people like to "aim and shoot" when doing these but I find that it takes me longer to do that because I am constantly ripping out the ones where my aim was poor :-{ 

One thing I do when I take a class with the designer of a quilt is to have them sign a block.  In this case, I took one of the star units and made the center neutral instead of blue so Jo and Kelli had a nice signature space. Once I get it all laid out I'll decide if this will be part of the actual top or if it will become part of the label.  I'm leaning toward the top.

Well, I better get on the stick.  I have a ton of stuff to do in preparation for all those big changes I mentioned earlier and I'm already waaaaay behind the power curve!  

Piece and Joy!



Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Oh What a Night Part 2

I can't believe it!  My first give-away and what do I do...lose track of time!  I thought TODAY was the 4th of August.  I figured out it was the fifth when my dad called and talked about the birthday dinner he had YESTERDAY!  Yep, my dad's birthday is on the 4th and I missed it, too!  Yikes!

So a day late but the winner of  the copy of Country Girl Modern is Danita Baylis!  Congrats Danita!  Please make sure you email me with your snail mail address so I can get that out into the mail right away.   It's a great book with a good range of beginner to intermediate patterns and I know you'll love it!

As mentioned in my last post, the first half of the trunk show was done by Jo Kramer and Kelli Hanken of Jo's Country Junction fame, and the second half was Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville fame.
I have had the pleasure of stalking following Bonnie to several of her trunk shows and classes and I learn something new every time... yes, EVERY time.  I love her Scrap User System and she does such amazing work and does so much while traveling...it really is an impressive thing to behold.  What's really amazing, though, are her quilts and we had a wonderful parade of color and design to behold as she talked about her quilts.  Forgive the lighting...my flash wasn't quite strong enough.

Explaining the Scrap User System

Hawk's Nest

Midnight Flight

Tumalo Trail

Lazy Sunday

Smith Mountain Morning

 This photo is of her paper piece project that she works on when on the road and it is really amazing!  She is designing as she goes along!  Amazing!

I had such a good time at this retreat and there are a ton of pictures.  Stay tuned because I'll be sharing them in the next few posts.  

Until then,

Piece and Joy!


Friday, July 31, 2015

Oh, What a NIGHT! Part 1

Wow!   It's not often that I get the chance to spend time with THREE quilting powerhouses and I have to tell you...Oh what a night!

I met Jo Hansen and Kelli Hanken  of Jo's Country Junction and had the opportunity to hear them tell their story and what a great story it is. This down-to-earth, mother-daughter team is such great fun and their story is a testament to their abilities to turn lemons into lemonade and their teamwork and tenacity.

Yesterday, their class was the first of four that are a part of this great retreat and I was rarin' and willing to go! This is their quilt, Thanks to You and it has a great story.   Jo asked readers to send in a bit of their neutral fabric to use for the background of these Maverick Stars and her readers certainly rose to the task!  

Here are my first four blocks of Thanks to You.  Maverick stars are fun because you aren't worrying about matching points or floating intersections ...that's what makes them MAVERICK stars... Hurray!   I am a little worried about contrast. Right now, with just these four blocks done I'm not sure that the stars shine enough.  I really don't have a whole lot of bright fabrics and I'm sticking to stash for all of the quilts I'm starting this week so I may have to rethink but for now they're fine.  

After class, we headed to dinner and then it was time for the trunk show to beat all trunk shows.

The authors of Country Girl Modern, Jo and Kelli shared the quilts that are in their book and a few that didn't make it in.  It was fun to hear how Jo designs the quilts and Kelli does all the pattern work...calculating sizes and yardage and the such as well as working on the samples.  

Here are just a few of the quilts you'll find in Country Girl Modern

Thanks to You


 Rainbow Connection

And all of that was just YESTERDAY!!!  Today, Kelli and Jo spent the day with us teaching May Flowers which is also in their book.  This is really a fabulous quilt because, again, it has no points to worry about matching. 

Here are a few of my May Flowers and Jo and Kelli's book

 After Jo and Kelli, Bonnie Hunter presented her trunk show.  It was really amazing to see her quilts from several of her books, but I think I'll save that for my next post so stay tuned! 

I have to tell you, I'm having such a great time and I love May Flowers so much I wanna share the love so, let's have a give-away! Enter a comment below to enter and if you are the lucky winner, I'll send you this copy of Country Modern Girl that has been autographed by Jo and Kelli! The drawing will happen on August 4th. 

Now, don't forget to come back because I haven't told you about Bonnie Hunter's half of the trunk show yet.  Who knows, we might just have another give away ....

In the meantime,

Piece and Joy