Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring has Sprung!

I recently bought a FitBit so I have spent a lot of time walking the neighborhood (in a non-prostitute way :-D). Spring is short lived here in San Antonio.  By next month the temps will be well in the 90's and the humidity not far below that. But- for a month or so I will be able to enjoy sites like these



 
Texas Bluebonnets!

These are so pretty but they don't stay long.  My favorite part of spring are the Bluebonnets and seeing people pulled over on the sides of the roads taking pictures of the kids.  Bluebonnets are the state flower here in Texas and are sacred!  You are not allowed to pick them or remove them in any way so once they start blooming in one spot they will continue to multiply year after year until there is a large patch of them.  Most of the time, this is a great thing. I'm not sure that this home owner appreciates it though...

 
This is one of my neighbor's front yard.  It's so pretty but he has to mow his lawn with a weed whacker so that he doesn't disturb the bluebonnets and has to tolerate people coming by to take pictures of and in front of his house.
 
Believe it or not, this is another sign of spring in San Antonio:

 
Our Live Oak Trees don't drop their leaves until spring when the new leaves push the old ones out
so we see tons of little leaves being raked up in the spring.
 
I like the renewing properties of Spring. 
 Old leaves making way for new ones.
Bushes and trees budding and then blooming. 
 Daughters deciding to give quilting a try....
Yep!  You read that right. 
 It turns out that quilting DIDN'T skip a generation...
It was just lying dormant waiting for SPRING!
 
As I mentioned in my last post I began giving my grand-daughter Lillian quilting lessons.  She has been so eager to sew and quilt and has really taken to the process.
 
Well, she and my daughter-in-law, Natalie, had their first quilt block lesson. 
 
 
Measuring TWICE, Cutting ONCE!

 
                     
    
 FINISHED 9-Patches!  Look at those intersections!
 
Well, when my daughter, Teresa, 
saw Lillian and Natalie enjoying themselves
she decided to jump in!
 
 
 
Getting the feel of the sewing machine.
 
 
Precision, Precision, Precision!

Every quilter will 'Frog-Stitch" now and again!
(Rip-it Rip-it, Rip-it!)
 
 
We PRESS!  No steam, no IRONING!


 
 FINISHED!  Doesn't it look great!
 
I was talking to my mother-in-law, Carnell, about how fun it was to teach my girls how to quilt and she pointed out something that gave me such a wonderful feeling. 
 
I have taught four Generations of women quilting!
I taught both my mom and my mother-in-law, my daughters and my grand-daughter as well as some of my contemporaries.  How special is that?
 
Until next time,
May your needles be sharp and your tops square!
 
Irene
 
 

Monday, March 24, 2014

I Guess It Skips a Generation


Once upon a time, I tried to get my daughter Teresa involved with quilting.  She actually started a Yo-Yo quilt once but only got about 40 done before she decided it wasn't for her.   Since then I have tried, in vain, to get her to try again but she just doesn't have the desire.
 
So, you can imagine my joy when my grand-daughter, Lillian, showed interest in sewing.  Now, truth be told her interest started and continues to be in fashion and for quite some time, with Project Runway for inspiration, she has been designing fashion for her dolls and stuffed animals out of just about everything... paper, fabric, and even toilet paper.  She loves drawing out her fashion, too.  This is one of her designs- It was drawn on a napkin while we waited to be served in a local restaurant.
 
Last December Lillian turned 9 years old and so I decided it was time to initiate her into the sewing world.  While designing and making clothing is not my forte, I could show her a thing or two about quilting.  So, with that thought in mind I bought her and my daughter-in-law, Natalie, each a sewing machine for Christmas.  (Why not get them both hooked, right?)
 

Well, life took over for a while and Lillian and I, both, were busy... me, with traveling and her, with Volleyball, choir and school but we finally had our first lesson!  We talked about being safe and the basics of threading a machine and bobbin and then off she went.  Our first lesson was all about sewing a straight seam.  We used a striped fabric to practice on.
 
Fierce Concentration

 
 
Working hard at staying on the lines
 
Looking Good!
                              
She worked on the entire strip of fabric and really loved it!  I'm so excited to have another quilter in my family!  It's comforting to know that there will be someone who will understand the work and love that goes into making a quilt long after I'm gone.  Now, I need to get Natalie started :-)
 
I'm still hard at work on Roll, Roll Cotton Boll but I took a short break to work on another small project and I am happy to report that it can be added to the 2014 FINISHED! page. 
 
This is the Small Duffle from "Easy to Make Totes with Zippers".  It took a little longer than I thought it would to put it together because 1) I quilted the fabrics myself and 2) the instructions confused me just a little.  It's one of those instruction sets that is constantly referring you to other pages of instructions.  You know... 'Make straps referring to directions for "Large Yellow Duffle" on page 14.' and 'Review instructions for setting zipper on inside front cover".  I understand that by using this method of instruction writing it saves paper and therefore holds costs down BUT I personally would rather pay a dollar or two more than waste an hour or two flipping back and forth through the pages.  It gets confusing after a while!
 
In any case, I have to say that I LOVE the finished project!  I used stash fabrics, batting remnants and a zipper I had on hand to do this project.  I plan to use it for carrying quilting tools to retreats and while traveling so I used this ruler/quilty fabric.  I should have paid better attention to fabric direction...It would have been better if I had cut the body the other way.  Oh Well, Live and Learn right?
 
 
Front Pocket View
 
 
Front Pocket and Side Pocket View
(Both sides have pockets.  Back does not but could be easily added.)
 
On the way home from Phoenix, AZ, we stopped at Bernina Sewing And Design in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  I neglected to take any photos but I didn't walk out empty handed!  For some reason, I have become obsessed with these organizers/bags/totes and they had a great one made up as a shop sample and I HAD to have it.  I bought the pattern...no fabric.  I had several combos of fabric picked out but I put them all back knowing that I have SOMETHING that I can use to make this wonderful tote.  I did buy the hardware and the mesh the pattern calls for since I knew I did not have those things at home but I left the fabrics on the bolts...  I can't decide if I'm happy or sad about that :-| 
 

 
In any case, I know that getting another bit of my fabric off the stash shelf and into something useful and beautiful will make up for any sadness caused by not buying "new".   In fact, I'm looking forward to diving into my stash...gives a whole new meaning to "Shopping at Home".
 
Until next time- May your iron be hot and your rotary blade sharp!
 
Irene
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, March 21, 2014

First 2014 Completes!

Hurrah!  I am so excited!  Here they are!  The first quilts completed this year!
 
Let's start with my small victory...

 
These have been quilted and ready to be bound for about a year and a half! 
Binding is not my favorite thing to do and unfortunately every quilt ends with BINDING!
 
Well, once again, my hubby and I hit the road for an impromptu vacation in Phoenix, Az. and so this became my travel project.  I made 8 of these little quilts.  I've been binding them as I need them and the rest of them sit on my longarm waiting their turn.  Well, I'm tired of having them hanging around and the word of the year is FINISH, so I finished!  I'm so excited to have them done.
 
Another little victory...
 
 
 
 
I love this little tool tote. 
 It was one of those things where I bought the fabrics,
zippers and pattern and then just let it sit there.  Well, here it is.. DONE!
 
And my BIG Victory....
 
 
Scrappy Bargello...DONE!!! 
 
I started this quilt at Bonnie's class in Plano TX. at Fabric Fanatics. 
 I hadn't planned on taking this class but when the class ended up with an opening I jumped on the chance to get in!  Since this was a last minute thing, I didn't bring any fabric for this project. 
 Lucky for me Fabric Fanatics sells precut 2½" strips of Batiks. 
 Now, Batiks are not usually my first choice of fabrics but, "When in Rome....", right?
 
 
   I brought it along with me so that I could get the binding done.  Now, picture this... me and my sweet mother-in-law, Carnell, riding around Sun City West, in a golf cart,
looking for photo spots!
 
I found several locations and couldn't choose just one so here they all are!

 
I love trees... Have you noticed that?

 
And the Bougainvillea is blooming and beautiful! 
And the light really shows the quilting here.
I used a pantograph called Twine to quilt my Scrappy Bargello.
You can find Scrappy Bargello in Bonnie's book,
Scraps and Shirttails. 
You can order a signed copy from Bonnie, herself by clicking here.
 
While on our golf cart tour of the area we saw this neat cactus.
 
 
When it blooms, the blossom only lasts one day and then it's done for the year!

 
It's a pretty flower, isn't?
 
 
I'm still plugging along on Roll Roll Cotton Boll and a few others and hopefully, they will join Scrappy Bargello on the 2014 FINISHED! list very soon. 
 
I better get to it!
 
Remember, the word of the year...FINISH!
 
 
Happy Quilting!
 
Irene
 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Retreat Treat!

I love going on quilt retreats.  To my way of thinking, there is little better than being in a room with a bunch of ladies with the common goal of finishing... finishing quilts that have been started and put away, finishing the quilts that you just started at the retreat.  And retreats let you devote yourself 100% to the tasks at hand.  No need to clean up after each quilt session and meals are prepared and served by someone else.  Better yet, there's no dinner dishes to concern yourself with and no guilt that they are sitting in the sink. 

I had the pleasure of joining the New Braunfels Area Quilt Guild at their retreat at picturesque Summers Mill Retreat and Conference Center in Belton, Texas.  Summers Mill has several types of accommodations and offers walking trails, scenic views, lovely grounds and well kept lodging. 
And every where you look is a photo opportunity!

The Rutherford House
 
The Hillside and Texas Dining Room
 
Inside the Hillside Dining Room
 
Chapel in the Woods

Lone Star Cabin


 
I love this old oak tree! 
 
And look at this fence!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 How clever is that???
 
And look at this....


 
This quilt is hanging in the dining room.  Each of the ladies here, along with a few that are not pictured contributed a block to this wonderful quilt that depicts the bicycle fence.  Each was told to use whatever fabrics they wanted to use.

 

Here is my roommate and friend Meliza.  I met Meliza in Plano, Texas when Bonnie Hunter taught at Fabric Fanatics.  We became great friends and decided to be roomies for this retreat.   In this picture she is busy at work on one of  3 or 4 of  her Bonnie Hunter designed quilts that she's working on.

 
Everyone working hard!
 

 
As for me, I brought along Roll Roll Cotton Boll (another Bonnie Hunter Design). 
 

 
 
String Blocks
 
String Blocks cut in half
to make these blocks...
 
 
Fun!
 
I have about 20 more string blocks to do.  And then there's the 600 half-square triangles to do!
Oh well, one step at a time, right?

Of course you aren't going to make 70 blocks and not have a boo-boo...
 
Yikes!  I hate it when that happens.

 
 
Carefully removing the upside down piece.



 
Sewing it back in place. 
 Loretta Lynn (my tan Featherweight) accompanied me on this retreat.

 
 
Ahhhh.  All better!
 
I'm so glad that I was able to see it BEFORE I had the whole quilt together. 
I cannot wait to see this one all done!

Until next time!

Irene