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Yes, I’m still here

I know it has been awhile since I posted anything, but the last 6 weeks have been crazy.  It’s show season and I have had shows every 2 weeks for the last 6 weeks.  It’s been more about production and less about creativity.  I shouldn’t complain because given the current economy my shows have been good this season.

I did manage to attend two “creative” things last week.  The first was a day with Sue Hausmann over at Janie’s Sewing Corner.  I’ve know Sue from her many years from her association with Husqvarna Viking.  Sue is all about quick, fast sewing tips and  tricks.  She showed a great technique on ways to use piping to finish the edge of your garment.  You can either use it in the seam to make a reversible garment or use it as a facing in a techniques she calls “French Piping”.  Piping really isn’t as hard as it looks once you see Sue do it. 

The second and really fun event I attended, with my friend Heidi from Stitch Cleveland and my husband (yes, my hubby went), was a Project Runway Watch Party for Valerie Mayen who is a local Cleveland designer on this season’s show.  The show finished taping in July and now Valerie is meeting with her fans to watch the episode and give her comments.  Each week it is at a different bar/restaurant, so you get a tour of Cleveland too.  Follow her on Facebook and see where the next party will be.  So much more fun then watching at home alone in your PJ’s.  We’ll have to keep watching to see if she wins.  I’m voting for her. How about you?

Quilting by Improvisation

Last weekend I headed to a class in Smithville, OH.  Where’s Smithville you ask?  It’s a little town near Wooster and not too far from Orville, OH, home of Smuckers jelly.  It’s not too exciting of a town, but I have gotten to know a woman who used to own the quilt shop there and get her emails.

Anyway, the class was taught by Vikki Piggnatelli, another Ohio artist who hails from Reynoldsburg, down by Columbus.  I was not aware of Vikki’s work before taking the class, but the announcement about the class really got my attention.  Her work is very artistic and spectular to look at the detail.

The first day we learned her technique for exploring curves using a pattern.  The process is very simple and once you have all the pieces cut and in place, then it is sewn.  Vikki kept telling us there are “NO RULES” to the process. Using scraps from our stash and a simple pattern drawn on freezer paper we created a dancing star.

The second day we reinforced her technique and created our own free form piece.  It was a little intimidating at first, but once you felt the freedom to create it became easier as you shaped, cut and moved the pieces of fabric around till it was in just the right position.

She also taught us a great way to make irregular edges, borders and facings to our quilts that fit more with the design of our finished project.  No more 1/4″ seams or trying to get a perfect mittered corner on a binding.

I really felt that this is the direction my quilting is going.  I just can’t get into jelly rolls, honey buns and all those other “bakery items”  the quilt stores are sell lately.  I also have a new prespective on fabric values and will be looking for more saturated colors to get drama to my projects.

My free form project is still developing, but it will have to wait since I’m off on vacation next week.  We will be heading to our friend’s house on Lake Gaston in N. Carolina.  It’s a long drive, but I get to stop at Batiks Etc, in Wythville, VA for some of their yummy batiks.  YEAH!

NQA Review

Last week I attend the annual NQA conference in Columbus, OH.  This three day event hosted lectures, classes, vendors and a spectacular display of quilts.  I had the pleasure of going on a bus from my local quilt shop, Quilts and Sew Forth, along with 35 other quilters.  I had never done a bus trip before, but it’s a great way to go without driving it yourself.

The thing that impressed me the most was the winning quilts. OMG!  I don’t understand how someone could have that much foresight to create such unbelievable creations!  There was one that I especially liked with big beautiful poppies (I think that’s the right flower) on it done in shades of orange and red.  The border looked like it also had some hand painting done on it to enhance the flowers.

Then there is of course the intricate quilting, so exact, so close together.  You wonder if it was hand or machine?  How long did it take them to stitch that tiny?  Is that trapunto too or puffy because of the tight quilting?  Even under close examination, without touching, it was hard to tell.

This event is held in June of each year and I encourage you to take a trip either on a shop bus or a stop on your summer vacation to check it out.  There’s lots of shopping at the event, but Columbus also hosts quite a few quilts stores as well.  With all of that to check out you might need a few days!

Summer is on the way….

It was a beautiful weekend!  We went to the big flea market with friends on Friday, ate kettle corn, french fries and corn dogs!  I paid for it later with a stomach ache, but it was worth it.  I love digging through the rows of “treasures” looking for something unexpected.  I usually look for the old linens that are such great textiles.  I especially like the vintage tablecloths, they are always beautiful and sometimes unusual.

Two weeks ago I went to a flea market and found two tablecloths.  One is a blue and white pattern that reminded me of a bandanna.  It was square and not very big, but in great condition.  It was $8, so that was a good deal.  I also got another one with purple and gray flowers on it.  In the past I have made skirts and jackets from tablecloths.  The borders on the vintage ones make great hemlines on wrap skirts.  If cutting out a jacket you have to use the “fussy cut” approach.  Go for the print, not the grain line.

I’m not sure what the purple and gray one will turn into, but the blue and white one is actually on my table on the porch.  It was perfect with my blue denim cushions and white wicker furniture.  We had the ‘unofficial” opening of the porch this weekend.  My husband scrubbed it down, while I scrubbed all the furniture. The candles and flowers still have to be done, but at least I got the cushions out and could relax when the work was done.  Take time to enjoy your neighborhood yard sales and flea markets, you don’t know what you might find.

Take Manhattan

Recently, I shared some new books that I bought.  One of them was called Twinkle Sews, well I made my first pattern from the book.  This top is called Take Manhattan and I made it from some linen I bought at Vogue Fabrics in Chicago.  It really cute and so comfortable.  It has a loose drawstring collar and a kangaroo pouch pocket. I paired it with a pair of dark brown linen drawstring pants and I was set for a long day.

I will tell you that you need to make sure you have a fresh ream of paper,  plenty of ink in the printer and a big roll of scotch tape before you set off to print the patterns that come on the CD in the book.  This pattern was 56 pages, that all had to then be taped together to make the pattern.  The pages are marked on each corner, so it is easy to put the big jigsaw puzzle together.

I also recommend that you have previous sewing experience before starting these project because there is little direction as far as cutting it out and putting it together.  Just go slow and read everything carefully several times before you dive in.  Otherwise, the patterns are adorable!

A Tribute to Dad

I know that this Sunday is Mother’s Day and we should be doing a mom tribute, but this past week marked the 10th anniversary of my dad’s passing.  Dad and I were very close.  He attended all my high school sports events, took me to horse shows, showed me how to shoot a bow and how to do upholstery, along with lots of other things.  When we were kids weren’t allowed in the basement, unless we had our shoes on because there were tacks and staples around from his latest side job.  Dad learned how to do upholstery while working for the airlines and from there took on various projects as additional income.

I recently took on a side job myself that involved 3 cushions for a breakfast nook that measured from 84 to 90 inches long and 18 inches wide.  To top it off they guy wanted them made out of crocodile vinyl, which means you can’t use pins and you have to be careful not to stretch it.  So needless to say I had a few challenges.  It 2+ hours to mark and cut out the fabric, 4 hours to sew the cushions and the help of my husband to cut the foam.

Everything is ready, first I wrestle (and I do mean wrestle, even worked up a sweat) the foam in the the 3 cushions covers, get the seam held together with binder clips from the office supply store, call my husband to give me a hand and then hit my first problem – the 3 inch foam cushion will not fit under the head of the sewing machine.  Now what.  I wrestle the foam back out and found zipper tape I had bought last fall and proceeded to put zippers in the cushions.  Wrestle the foam back in for the second time (times 3) and then we are closed.

I’m a perfectionist of sorts and want things to be right.  Well, I didn’t like how the cushions didn’t look full, so once again I wrestled the foam out, wrapped the foam in batting and wrestled them back in for the 3rd and final time.  Now they look good. see what you think.

Thanks Dad for teaching me the skills to wrestle crocodiles and sending down a few words of wisdom when the going got tough.

A $5 Remnant

Since I got back from Chicago I have sewed up 3 of my fabrics, don’t worry, there is still lots to go.  This piece of tie dyed knit was $5 for the 1 1/2 yard piece.  I’m not really a blue person, but it was fun, it felt great and how could I lose for $5.  If I made it and didn’t like it was no big deal.

I used Sandra Betzina’s Vogue Pattern #1173.  I wasn’t sure if it would look like a maternity top or not, but it didn’t.  You can’t really see the detail of long darts in the front, but they are very flattering.  Make sure you read the directions first because the darts are sewn so they show on the outside as a detail.  I just went about my normal sewing know how and sewed the darts right sides together and didn’t get the detail.  It was fine that way too.   I think it is going to be a comfy cool top this summer with a lot of style.  I just won’t tell anyone that it was $5.

Chicago Adventures – Kaffe Fassett

This time last week I was having lunch with Kaffe Fassett.  Well, me and probably 200 other people.  He was the luncheon speaker for the day.  I signed up for this event because I thought maybe it was time I tired my hand at a big bold fabric quilt.  I also signed up because they were not having the Bernina fashion show this year.  The fashion show last year was fabulous!! 

Anyway, back to Kaffe.  I don’t know much about him as a designer other than his big bold prints.  He talked about where his inspirations come from and how he translates them in to prints.  He gathers from architectural designs he see in buildings, tiles and tapestries.  These then get transformed into fabric, knitting and home decor patterns.  He’s a man of simple and quiet demeanor.

I thought I would be all inspired after his presentation and would run right down to the vendors area to buy fabrics for my big bright quilt.  Well, I didn’t.  I really wasn’t that impressed with him, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be.  It also doesn’t mean that I won’t buy his fabric for something some day.   Everyone is inspired by different things, so decide for yourself.

Chicago Adventures – Vogue Fabrics

The first stop in my Chicago Adventure to the International Quilt Festival was at Vogue Fabrics on Roosevelt Road.  I had my patterns in hand and a list of things I was looking for.  The store is nothing fancy by any means, but talk about fabric selection!  Trust me, we have nothing like this in Cleveland.  It’s well organized and marked into sections, so you know where to look for what.  My mission was knits.

After doing the once walk through to see what was there, I began my selections.  I asked for some assistance from a wonderfully fun young lady named Amanda.  She was easy to talk to and fun to bounce ideas around with, we had a great time!  I selected some beautiful bamboo knits, cotton knits, power mesh knits and a fun tie dyed knit.  As you know, I love Marcy Tilton’s patterns, so keeping her style and techniques in mind I went to work having Amanda cut yardage that would give me some things to play with.

Vogue Fabrics also has locations in Evanston and Lansing, so if you are up that way it’s well worth the stop.  Allow yourself  plenty of time to look because there is a lot to take in.  The festival will not be in Chicago next year, so it looks like I’ll have to plan a Vogue shopping trip instead.

International Quilt Festival Chicago

 Just back from the International Quilt Festival that was held in Chicago this weekend.  What a wonderful event!  If you didn’t get a chance to go check out the virtual tour on their website http://www.quilts.com.  There were over 425 vendors, classes and exhibits to put you into creative overload.  You also left with a well used credit card and a lighter wallet.

This spring event has been held in Chicago for the past 8 years, but next year will move to Cincinnati.  The reasons given for the change was better parking, more food and hotel options and less traffic.  I couldn’t believe the traffic!  It’s noon and we are at a dead stop going through Chicago on a Thursday.  I didn’t think it could be worse, but it was when we got back on the highway at 3:00PM.  The fall event will remain in Houston and supposedly is even bigger than this event.  I can’t even imagine!

So over the next week or so I will be doing mini reviews and thoughts on the things I bought, saw and visited while I was there.  We’ll call them the Chicago Adventure.