Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Another Product Endorsement...

...without the big payment, unfortunately.

I just found the Scotch Fur Fighter. It's intended to remove "embedded pet hair". Since we have a cat, I bought it. But before using it for cat hair, I gave it a try on the nasty little bits of felted batting lint left after I washed the quilt made with that crappy Fairfield batting. I had used a lint roller repeatedly and couldn't get it all. The Fur Fighter worked. So someone might find this useful, for pet hair or lint. The only drawback here is that this gadget was not cheap, and it will eventually require more refill sheets which may be difficult to find.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up for the Supreme Slider! It's very smooth silicone (I think) sheet that fits on the bed of the sewing machine allowing fabric to move more easily when you're doing free motion stitching. There's a hole for the needle, and the underside is sticky and clings tightly. I've only used this on small pieces, but it was wonderful, totally living up to expectations.

P.S. Kathy's comment about washing the slider is a good one; I should have mentioned it. I already had to do that, and it seemed to work fine.

Thumbs down here. This batting shrinks more than I expected, it doesn't cling to the quilt very well, causing puckering, and it sheds lint EVERYWHERE. I thought I was buying Hobbs Heirloom, which has the same cotton-poly content, but had a real senior moment and bought this by mistake. Don't do it!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Retreat Report

Isn't the opposite of "retreat" "advance"? I guess I'm ready to advance after a weekend of retreating. It was a good weekend, relaxing and productive. My only complaint is sore shoulders from too long at the sewing machine in a far from perfect chair.

This crowd likes the very newest patterns and newest fabric lines, but here's a quilt made from old shirts. There's one maverick in the group, at least.

Marcia pulled an all-nighter to get this far on her top; I really like the cheerfulness of the colors, and so will her grand-daughter. This pattern is from a recent Fons and Porter, I think.

I quilted my liberated wedding ring lap quilt, and finished two small pictorial quilts I'll post later. I also made more pieces for this block. I would have done more, but I don't think I want this basket fabric, and haven't found an alternative.

I think I'll try to finish it before next year's retreat!

And last but not least, the frog went to a new keeper, who thinks maybe he needs hair. It will be fun to see.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


This ugly little guy is, I guess, the guild retreat mascot. He's a frog, if you can't tell, intended to be something like a scissors holder. His original maker got fed up and went into hysterical laughter, we made him trunks from some hideous fabric from the Ugly Fabric Exchange, someone added the bandanna, someone else the fly in his mouth, and I got him this year. My contribution was the nostril piercing.

Fixing Mr. Frog was just one of the things I've been trying to do before leaving tomorrow: packing, organizing projects to take, working on a project I wanted to finish, doing laundry, etc. I'm looking forward to a couple of days of solid sewing, when I finally get there!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Manic Monday

Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon making a horrendous mess, dragging out what seemed to be every tool, spool of thread, and small scrap of batik I own. This photo only shows part of it.

Here's the partially completed result. The tiny little trees you show prove that you should never throw away a bit of batik. I cut them from a scrap of leaf print less than six inches square, and they solved the problem of how to make those trees--in my mind anyway. I hope to finish this today, after I find a replacement for the bottom fabric. That means more rummaging. Does everyone do this?

Two interesting things came in the mail. One is a Supreme Slider, a piece of teflon which attaches to the bed of the sewing machine and claims to make fabric move easily during free motion stitching. Two good quilters have recommended this, but I wouldn't have bought it except I had a gift certificate. I'll report when I use it.

The brochure for the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show in March also arrived. I'm going all out this year, and signing up for classes all three days--if there are vacancies.

I also worked at the soup kitchen, bought a new pair of jeans, and watched Dancing with the Stars: what you can do when your husband goes out of town!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

On the Night Stand

No fiber content here. After struggling to find a book I wanted to read, I suddenly have about eight; I'm more excited about this than anything I've been making, so here they are:

Dissolution by C.J. Sansom. This is a historical mystery, set in the 1500's at the time Henry VIII closed the English monasteries. I'm half way through, and enjoying it. It's well-written with sympathetic characters, a classic "closed room" murder plot, and a thought-provoking look at the unavoidable pain of large social changes.

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo. I don't know anything about this book except the author, and that's enough for me. His Empire Falls is one of my all time favorites.

The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory. Another historical novel by the author of The Other Boleyn Girl and many others. This new series is set at the time of the War of the Roses, 1400's. I'm a bit skeptical because I didn't care for her Tudor novels, but I've liked other novels about this period.

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. A post-apocalyptic novel, set in a world where the population has been almost destroyed by a genetically engineered plague and climate change. This is a companion to Oryx and Crake, which I just read. I may decide to skip this one. Oryx and Crake was well written, clever, with some good bits of black humor, but the bleakness and cynicism was hard to take.

Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill. This series of British police procedurals features educated, cultured, politically liberal Pascoe and his boss, the fat, vulgar, but brilliant Superintendent Dalziel of the Mid-Yorkshire Constabulary. Funny, with delightful characters and clever plots, these books are a treat.

The Professionalby Robert Parker. This is the latest in the series featuring Boston private detective Spenser, his killer friend Hawk, and his annoying (to me) lover Susan Silverman. A recent review described this series as "running on fumes," and although I agree, this book should be good for a couple of hours of relaxation. Parker's dialogue and descriptions can be laugh-out-loud funny.

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore. The main character is a young girl working as a nanny who learns hard lessons about the world from the family who employs her. The reviews of this book have been glowing. I'm hoping it's serious enough to be a change from the lighter books on this list, but still entertaining.

And finally, The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt. The central character is a writer of childrens books in the late Victorian period, and her stories are interspersed with the main plot of the novel. Byatt did the same sort of thing with her earlier novel Possession., about two Victorian poets. I loved Possession, but I'm not sure I'm that patient now. We'll see.

Having listed all these books, I realize I can never read them before they're over-due, not if I do anything else, including sew! If only I didn't have to sleep, cook, or do anything around the house!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More Stripping, and Some Interesting Blogs

Here's another strip/string pattern I like for my lap quilt series. Found in Freddy and Gwen Collaborate Again, it's called Liberated Wedding Ring. Pieces of varying widths are foundation sewn to a newspaper base cut in this lozenge-like shape, and the triangles are added. Four of these make a 14" block. I wiped out my blue strips, and even had to steal some other blue scraps for the border! And I now have two of these to quilt at the upcoming retreat, where I'm too easily distracted to do anything that isn't very routine.

The newspaper base is a good idea because it tears away relatively easily. But if I did it again, I think I'd just piece the strips together and use a template to cut from the strata. That would be even simpler, and the bias edges wouldn't be particularly difficult to handle.

I came across two thought provoking blogs. Elizabeth Barton laments the way quilt artists keep making the same quilt over and over. This may ring true to anyone who's been to a big show lately. If you're going to Houston, or even just look at the pictures, see what you think.

In this post, Leah Day, who is writing a wonderful blog about machine quilting, discusses the kind of quilting that wins prizes. To sum it up, "more is more." She's right, I think, but I have issues with that idea, not just from the practical standpoint but from an artistic one. Anyway, the post and her whole blog is well worth reading, full of very practical ideas for free motion quilting on your regular machine.

And finally, for readers, I found this article in the New York Times about a woman who almost a year ago resolved to read a book a day. She reviews the book the next day on her blog. (Clearly, she doesn't quilt.) I'm always looking for books to try, and her list and the reviews should be a great source. They're mostly, but not all, "serious" books, not best sellers, but are relatively short. I found some I knew and liked, but many more that are unfamiliar but promising.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Alzheimer Quilts at Houston

You lucky people going to IQF at Houston this week, remember that Ami Simms is taking 1,000 Alzheimer quilts (9 x 12 or smaller) to sell. Booth number is #4460. I don't know the details of how these quilts are being sold, but I believe they have a flat price, beginning around $40, rather than being auctioned as they are on line. Anyway, look for the booth. Seeing these mini quilts should be fun, and buying one helps a good cause. All proceeds go to fund Alzheimer's research. You can see all the quilts here to make your shopping list, and there's a search feature if you want to find the number of a particular maker's quilt.

And in addition to the small quilts, you can view the"Smackdown" quilts made by Hollis Chatelain, John Flynn, Becky Goldsmith, and Sue Nickels. These are on sale for $10,000. Here's the link for those quilts. Out of your price range? Just admire.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Sheep May Safely Graze

For the fall quilt festival on Park City Girl's blog I chose this quilt. Not because it's so wonderful (it isn't), but because it's probably the first non-traditional quilt I made, and I've never posted it before. At the time it seemed very radical to me to make the music lines with satin stitch, (too bad the machine I had at the time made a terrible stitch) and to fuse the notes and the letters. I don't know why I didn't fuse the sheep. I should have, but I guess I wanted more dimension. Looking at this now, I see how terrible the applique is, and that it needs more quilting, but I'm still pleased with the design, and I like the shading from light to dark and the way the orange fabric at the bottom seems to be a mix of light and shadow. That was serendipity.

The idea of this piece popped into my head, complete in all detail, while I was listening to the Bach. However, the music at the top is not really "Sheep May Safely Graze" because I couldn't find the music for that. It's a bit of another Bach piece that I found in an old hymnal.

Now click on the link above or the button in the side bar and look at all the quilts!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Back in the Saddle...

And so glad! After unpacking, picking up clutter, washing kitchen floor, etc., etc., I sat down at the sewing machine and pieced this top, using the inspiration I blogged about last time. The center Birds in the Air blocks are leftovers from a quilt I made six or seven years ago, and several months ago I put them together to be a center medallion for a guild service lap quilt. But then I was stuck as to the next step. I somehow didn't want to just add borders, and I was also stymied by the bold graphic look of the center. It seemed to need to be square, but lap quilts have a size limitation. This solution seems so simple to me now; I just needed a push I guess. Stunning, I say--sort of Amish in Outer Space. But will a nursing home patient want this on his/her lap? We'll hope so. I'll do some grid quilting later this month when I go to a retreat.

While staying with Mom, I sewed the binding on the French fabric/friendship block quilt, so that's done too. It will probably stay on this chair to be used as a lap quilt this winter. I did not quilt it myself; I decided I didn't like it well enough to make the effort, so a quilter from my guild did a simple edge to edge which looks fine.

Kathy of Finishing Lines posted some beautiful photos she called Mother Nature's Coloring Book. That reminded me of this photo I took last wek. I can't remember what this weed is (poke, I think), but it's everywhere around the farm where I grew up. The colors are beautiful, although the whole scene makes me sad.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

I Can Dream, Can't I?

I'm staying with my mother for ten days again, and as usual don't have much handwork to do. So I've been thinking about what I COULD do if I were home with my fabric. I brought with me Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran's new book, Freddy and Gwen Collaborate Again, terrific inspiration for doing fun things with your stash and scraps.

This is a beautiful book, full of colorful illustrations of wild and crazy "liberated" quilts. I've already made some plans to use four orphan Birds in the Air blocks as the center medallion for a veterans' lap quilt. What next? I'll be here several days longer--time for many more project plans!