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

Irene

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!



Irene


  

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!

Irene

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

Modalicious



 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

Irene

  




Wednesday, July 29, 2015

On my way to Country Jo's Junction

I'm so excited! I made it to IOWA home of Jo's Country Junction Retreat! It will be four days of quilting and friends and I CAN'T WAIT!!  
I left the Dallas area at 5:30 AM, which for those of you who know me well, know that an early rise is NOT part of my daily routine.  In any case, 10 hours later I was welcomed to the Fields of Opportunities; opportunities to meet Jo and Kelli of Jo's Country Junction, hang out with friend and mentor Bonnie Hunter and see fellow Bonniacs that I have met over the last few years. 



I had to drive the last 2 hours in torrential downpours with thunder so loud and lightning so close I could have opened my window and touched it...if I had a death wish.  Fortunately, I made it safe and sound and since  I'm here a day early, I'll have lots of time to explore the area of Cedar Rapids before heading down the road to Olewien, IA.  

Maybe I'll find an antique store or two.  Stay tuned, I'll keep you posted!


Piece and Joy!
Irene

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Squirrel!

I am like a poorly trained dog and not just ANY poorly trained dog... I am a poorly trained beagle. Beagles are hunting dogs and when PROPERLY trained are great to use when hunting rabbits or hares.  They are high-energy friendly little guys with a bit of a stubborn streak.  That's me.  High-Energy and friendly with a bit of a stubborn streak.  The problem with being a poorly trained beagle is that all that energy gets us into trouble if it's not properly harnessed and expelled. A poorly trained beagle will sniff out and find a rabbit... not a problem- unless he sees a squirrel. Then he's off chasing squirrels and there's no stopping him.

I have the same problem only instead of rabbits and squirrels its UFOs and new projects.  I was talking to Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville fame about this and she gave me some wonderful insight.  I was lamenting about how I quilt pretty much everyday and because I quilt almost everyday I should have piles of quilts every where.  But, the truth is, I have very little to show for all the time I spend in my quilt loft.  My question to her was, "How do you get so many quilts done with everything else you do?"  When told me how she managed I was flabbergasted because its not a fancy trick or hired help that gets the quilting done.  So, how does she do it you ask?  Well, it turns out that Bonnie doesn't have a wall of UFOs waiting for attention because she never has more than a few quilts going at a time.

Bonnie has one quilt that is her "Busy Bag" quilt.  It's the one she is sewing by hand (currently an English Paper Piecing quilt) while she travels. It gets worked on when a sewing machine is not at hand like at the gate of an airport or on a plane.  Number two is cut up and kitted into ziplock bags that tuck nicely into her suitcase.  This quilt gets pieced together in her hotel room using a borrowed sewing machines.  She probably has a Leader/Ender quilt going because Bonnie doesn't waste anything; not thread, fabric or time!  And then, she might have one on the longarm and one or two that are awaiting binding which get tackled when she's at home, and that's it.  So, when Bonnie sews, quilts don't just get started, they get done.

I, on the other hand, have so many quilts started that it is almost overwhelming.  Today, I have Celtic Solstice up on the design wall.  I have been working on Celtic Solstice between other projects for two years now but I'm busily cutting up fabric for FOUR other quilts.  Now, to be fair I am taking classes at a retreat in the next week or so, so I have to have the fabrics for the classes ready, but still, I don't NEED to start four more projects (squirrels) when I have so many already started (rabbits).  So, now that I recognize the problem, I am turning over a new leaf.  I will tackle my UFOs, one at a time, do my best to not get distracted.  And when I am driving across the three or four states I need to cross to get to my quilt retreat, I will not buy any new projects...well except the Row by Rows....SQUIRREL!

Piece and Joy!

Irene


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I'm Baaaaaa-ack!

It's hard to tell but this blog is actually important to me.  I think about it all the time and I am constantly writing posts in my head but I never seem to get to a point where the ideas go from my head to paper; or in this case, computer.  Why is that?  I have all the usual excuses at hand... I lead a very busy life; hubby, kids, grand babies, pets, longarm buisness, real estate business, graduate school... Really, the list goes on and on.  But I think, really, it's all about HABIT.  It's not my habit to blog, or for that matter, to write, on a regular basis.  In fact, I have never had a great desire to be a writer.  I've always considered myself a 'math person' not an 'english person'.  It's the math and the precision that draws me to quilting...  all those lovely fractions!  And the geometry!  I love geometry; but I digress.

New habits are hard to come by and rarely stick except when they are bad habits, they're hard to get rid of.  Have you noticed that?  All the 'bad habits' are so hard to get away from.  Biting your nails, smacking your gum, using the word 'like' like every 10 seconds ;-) all bad habits and so hard to break away from.  I'm 50 years old and I still find myself biting my nails unless I've paid to have them done.  What's up with that?  So why is it that when you want to develop a 'good habit' it's almost impossible to make it stick?




















Let's take exercising as an example.  Many MANY people are in the habit of exercising on a regular, dare I say DAILY, basis. I admire this.  I would love to just WALK on a regular basis and yet I just can't seem to manage it.  I always get off to a good start.  New Years, right?  Resolution:  Walk everyday!  I'm good for about 3 weeks and then, it happens.  For some reason, and it's probably a reasonable reason like it's raining, I don't walk.  And that one missed day turns into two, two turns into a week and so on and so forth until it's the new year and I'm making another resolution.  UGH. So, I pose these questions to all those in blogdom... What NEW good habit have you acquired and how did you make it stick?

In any case, I am back; like the proverbial cat. And I am, once again, committing myself to writing my blog no less than 3 times a week...  Let's hope I can make this good habit stick!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It's Quiltin' Time

Grand Illusion!  I am loving the way this quilt is working out for me!  It's been a bit of a challenge but not in the sewing of the units.  TIME has been such an issue!  First there was school (I'll never take four graduate level classes at once again!), then there was Christmas (so what if the last gift was bought and wrapped on the 24th... at least it was done!) and finally there was my own STUPIDITY!

I wanted to get caught up with the clues!  I had completed 1 & 2 but then got behind.  Not good... I refuse to have another partially completed mystery quilt!


 Celtic Solstice is all cut up and in little Gladware containers :-(
No.   I am going to stay on task and finish this baby!  So, I sat down and started on 3 clue.  Now, clue 3 was easy, right?  I mean- it was just squares.  How can you screw up squares?  Right?  Are you with me?  Well.  Where there's a rush, there's a way!

Here's Clue 1, Clue 2 and Clue 3 units.  Can you see the problem?  (It's not the cat, although Bobbins Hunter does know how to make a nuisance of himself as evidenced in this picture.)






No, it's not that they aren't sewn together...  I used the WRONG FABRIC! 

I used the teal which is my blue and not the purple which is my green!  Such a bummer!  And you know how that goes... All that cutting and sewing done and the thought that you aren't going to be able to use it just makes you want to walk away.  Which I did.  I just got up and walked away.  I didn't even want to think about it!  Then Clue 4 came out and that made me depressed because I hadn't done Clue 3.   And then clue 5 posted and THAT was the catalyst I needed to get the ball rolling again.  Somehow, I managed to pull myself together and on Christmas Day I started Clue 3--- all over again.

Clue 3 Units

Then, when that was done,  I immediately tackled clue 4.

Clue 4 Units DONE!
Units 1-4
I'm happy to report that Clue 5 is done as well but I forgot to take a picture!
 I'm all caught up an anxiously awaiting new instructions!

I'll be spending the week with Bonnie taking her classes at Fabric Fanatics in Plano Texas.  


Today, was a MYSTERY called Garden Party (yes, another one) and let me tell you it's FABULOUS!  But, guess what?   NO PICTURES!  This pattern will be in a future issue of Quiltmaker Magazine so we all have pinkie-promised not to post any picture or details until it is published!  You'll just have to stay tuned but I promise you, when you see it, it will immediately make your bucket list!  

Carefully edited photo of Bonnie Hunter teaching Garden Party
And speaking of Garden Party, I'm all set up to quilt in the hotel room. Bonnie and I have set up a little quilt studio in my suite (my hubby travels and those hotel points really come in handy) so off I go to get a few more blocks of that quilt done and prep work for tomorrow's class, Weedwhacker.  You can find the pattern for Weedwhacker on Bonnie's Blog under the FREE PATTERNS tab.  

Until Next time!

Piece and Joy!
Irene

PS...If your visiting via Quiltville's Grand Illusion Linky, thanks for stopping by!  I'd love to hear from you so leave a little comment.  You can make your back to Quiltville by clicking HERE.



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Free At Last!


All week, I was longing to spend my time doing this:



But instead, I spent my time doing this....



I'm attending school with the thought of getting my MBA Entrepreneur degree and finals week has just about done me in.  It has been non-stop and I cannot believe that the final schedule put me in the classroom from 8:45 - 11:30 PM... 3 nights in a row!  It's crazy if you ask me.  I mean, who can think STATISTICS at 8:45 pm???!?!?!  Oh well, the good news is that I'm done for the semester and I can BREATHE and QUILT!

I'm not as far along on Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt, Grand Illusion as I'd like because of my finals but now that they are done and over with I can really get things rolling.  

I started step 3 and did a get a bit of it done because it's a fairly simple step.  It's all about strips turned into squares and that goes pretty quick.

Since I like things to be as scrappy as possible, I used a wide variety of strip lengths.  Some were as long as 18" and some as short as 4".   One of the things I've learned is that to get things really scrappy you got to really mix things up!  I fed the strips through the machine and as one ended I added another.
You can see in the photo below  that the black strip is about to end . 


So, I just slid a neutral strip in place.


This way I could keep my chain going and have great scrappy variety!


Here's what it looks likes when it's sewn and open.  See the scrappy goodness?


One thing about this technique is that you want to pay attention to the length that remains before adding the next strip


I need at least 2 and a half inches to make it worth adding a new strip.


This strip had just enough! 
(Yes, that's a Bonnie machine seam guide ruler. 
 If you don't have one you can get them 
 I love them and have about a half dozen of them!)


So, here is what I did manage to get done.
  

Oh! By the way.  Can you see my little numbered pins?



I love these pins!   


Their "intended use" is to help you keep track
of the order of your block layout.
I use them to keep track of the number
of units while I'm making them.
This way I avoid having to stop and count
 every time I get a few more done.
  I just add to the pile and put the
appropriate number pin in the set.

Once I have ten units done I clip them together
 with Wonder clips and move them out of the way.
Since I'm making two separate units
 (One with a black square and one without)
 I have two sets of pins (1-9) lined up
in my pin cushion for easy access.
(Michelle, this is the pin cushion you gave me :-) )


Don't you love finding additional uses for
things you already have on hand?

As you saw, I only have 8 finished units so
I better get off this computer and back to sewing.  
After all, Clue four comes out on Friday 
and I want to be ready!  And just think!
With finals out of the way it will be guilt free sewing! 
 Yea!

Piece and Joy!!

Irene


PS...  Click here to find your way back to QUILTVILLE.