How Many Tools?

How Many Tools?

While I’m welcoming May, I’m still wondering what happened to April.  It just got away so fast!  If anyone knows, I’d love to hear.

Quick question:  How many quilting tools do you have that seemed like a great idea but turned out to be either useless or more trouble than they were worth?  A healthy number of mine were discovered at a quilt show vendor.  Whoever was demonstrating these clever gadgets made them look so easy and time-saving.  Not to mention just plain cool.  (Like my father before me, I love gadgets.  Just ask my kitchen drawers. They will rat me out in a heartbeat.)  The thing is that a few of them turned out to be great.  The rest are hard to part with because I paid good money for them and they really should work.  Or they used to work before the next cool thing came along.  Sound familiar?  So here are a couple of hints to review right before that impulse buy.

  1.  What do I use now that this new doodad will replace?  Do I really need to shave a half second off my cutting or sewing time?
  2. Ask the demonstrator to let you try it.
  3. Does it take time to set up?  If the answer is yes, will you really do that?  Be honest!
  4. Did your head spin when you heard the price?
  5. Step away from the table and think about it while you have a cup of tea or a donut.  Sometimes just getting away from the sales pressure gives you  some perspective.

In your heart, you already know this stuff.  The trick is to remember it at the right time.  Copy down the questions you need to ask yourself in your quilting notes, your phone or your bullet journal.

What I should have walked away from (even though it was a good deal):

  1.  The rolling ruler.  Seemed like a good idea.  In reality, not so much.
  2. Another magazine subscription.  Because I don’t have enough.
  3. Any ruler that only does one thing.

Sometimes the simplest tools work the best.  What I would have a hard time living without are my tweezers.

  The bottom pair has a really tiny tip which is great for grabbing that bobbin thread and pulling it up when quilting.  The top pair is perfect for picking out threads from unsewn seams or bits of fabric or thread or batting that seem to be drawn to dark fabric.  Not fancy, but really useful.

I’m putting the binding on “Birds Heading Home.”  It was my UFO project for April that turned out to be more labor intensive than I thought it would be.  Nearly all the quilting lines are about ¼ inch apart.  It wasn’t difficult, just time-consuming.  I really should’ve seen this coming.

If anyone knows how to stop time for a couple hours a day to get more quilting in, let me know.

Our newsletter will come out at the end of the week.  The sign up is at the top right of this page.

Even though the sun is out, at least in theory, and the weeds and flower pots are waiting, there’s alway some quilting to do.  So be sure to get some fresh air and Vitamin D, and then quilt for fun!

Candy

 

 

And Then There Was Sun!

And Then There Was Sun!

Today is springy and it feels so good.  I actually sat outside in the sunshine and took in a bit of Vitamin D.  I’m always surprised at how much more energy I have on sunny days. It’s nice to have the windows open and I can hear kids playing outside and imagine their mothers sighing in relief.  There’s a leaf blower in the distance and by tomorrow the air will be alive with the sound of power washers.

The house repairs are finally finished and what a relief.  I am really enjoying the quiet.  The only sad part is that I have no excuse to put off housework!

I’ve been quilting this quilt

which has been nameless until now.  I looked up the name of the block and was disappointed to find it unimaginatively called Double X #4.  That is just not cutting it.  I’ve decided to call the quilt “Birds Heading Home.”  The birds are the little green triangles and the birdhouse has a bright pink door.  I’ve quilted the top right corner.

It’s a lot of quilting, but since the piece isn’t really big, it won’t take too long.

If patriotic quilts are your thing or you do Quilts of Valor, there’s a lot of red, white and blue fabric out there now.  I love the colors and am ready to do at least a runner.  I have some older runners I’ve made and looking at them now reminds me how long some of those pieces have been around.  Many of the blues I used before the turn of the century have faded to gray.  The newer dyes are much better and I now have windows that block the UV rays that bleach out carpet, draperies and even wood floors.  If you’re looking for patterns for patriotic quilts, I’d like to recommend our Blue Star Mothers pattern.  If you want a good sized quilt in a hurry, Fall Into Halloween would be great in USA prints.  Also, for some cool patriotic fabrics, Mother Goes Mod works well, especially if you have a red, white and blue layer cake.

Blue Star Mothers

Blue Star Mothers

After a long, hard winter, get outside and get a little sun.  Then quilt for fun!

Candy

PS  Newsletter coming out next week!  Sign up at the top right of this page.

 

If It Rains, Clean Something

If It Rains, Clean Something

Today there is dancing in the streets!  Okay, not in the actual street, just in our fevered brains.  After more than five months of destruction and reconstruction, the house repairs are finished.  There are still two walls that need wallpaper and the painters are waiting for some consecutive days of dry weather to finish the painting outside.  Still, we are enjoying some wonderful quiet.  I should be able to move back into my studio tomorrow.  What a relief!

We had a stormy weekend which was the perfect opportunity to create a neatness in my office.  I thinned out a bunch of ten-year-old (and older) magazines and saved some (okay, a lot of ) inspirational pages.  The desk is still a little scary – one step at a time.

Now that I’ve declared April UFO month, it’s time to choose something to finish.  This is the current front-runner.

Obviously, it’s spent some years folded up in the closet.  (Don’t worry, it had lots of company.) It was a little study in value using just one block in three sizes.  I like the colors and I had really forgotten about it.  It’s time to give this baby a little love.

Barb is finally finishing setting up her studio.  She moved into a house at the beginning of January and it takes forever to get settled when one is also working full time.  Barb is also Ms. DIY, so she’s been very busy.  The current project is Roman shades in her two back bedrooms.  I haven’t made window coverings of any kind for years, and frankly hope I never have to again.  I think Barb just likes the challenge.  She was pretty surprised at how big her stash is when she moved her sewing stuff out of my house (no room at her apartment) and into her house.  Now she’ll have to buy her own thread!

The weather hasn’t been too springy.  Last weekend we had sideways rain and lots of wind.  I’m actually surprised that it didn’t blow the petals right off the tulips.  Guess they’re pretty tough.

I’m hoping to get down to the tulip fields around Woodburn in the next couple of weeks to take some pictures.  It’s very reminiscent of Holland in the spring with so many fields of color.

If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter, it’s easy to do and we promise not to fill your inbox.  The aim is a monthly missive when life doesn’t intervene.

Check out our shopping page for some spring inspiration!

Keep quilting for fun!

Candy

 

Something Springy

Something Springy

Spring is  here.  We know this in the Northwest because we’ll have a sunny and 70 degree day followed by a rainy 50 degree day followed by a dry, mixed sun and clouds day.  It’s confusing, mostly because whatever I choose to wear, it’ll be either not warm enough or not cool enough.  The trick here is layers.  Lots of layers.  BTW, these hyacinths smell lovely.

A couple of weeks ago AQS had a book sale.  The quilt library is already stuffed, but there’s always room for one (or four) more.  My biggest problem is that I want to do ALL the quilts.  Time is a bit of an issue here.  The good news is that no matter what, I’ll never be bored.  The big question is, what do I do next?

“Sewist’s Delight” has the quilting finished and the binding attached.  This one comes under the heading “better finished than perfect.”  I like the idea of the quilting better than the reality.  If I were to do it again, I would quilt each of the four big blocks individually and then put them together.  I’ve done this before with some large projects and it would’ve been more appropriate for this one.

The narrow quilting went fine within each block, but got kind of hairy between the blocks.  Live & learn.  The plan now is to finish the binding and wash the quilt.  A bit of shrinkage may help the overall look or make it way worse.  Only one way to find out.

One of my spring favorites is “Tulip Field.”  The pattern is on sale through the end of April for $9.00.  Treat yourself when the taxes are done.  Or any time, really.  Click on the shop button and have some fun.

 

There are actually tulip fields not far from here.  I haven’t visited them in a couple of years and it’s about time.  As soon as they’re seriously blooming, I’ll take a field trip.

Quilt for Fun!

Candy

On the Job Training

On the Job Training

It’s a sunny day!  Thank you Mother Nature, I needed that.  Spring may come after all.

Taking a shortcut sometimes comes back to bite one.  Last weekend, I was the one bitten.  On small quilts like “Sewist’s Delight” I don’t do any kind of basting.  The cotton tops and backs generally stick to the batting (except for wool) pretty well and I get good results.  Enter Sewist’s Delight and my idea to do straight line quilting in the dark blue parts.

I would be the first to tell you that straight lines are challenging, even with a walking foot.  Fabric, by its very nature moves no matter what.  Basting only controls that to a certain degree.  Knowing this going in helped me to not expect absolute perfection.  I decided that the best way to do this project was to do one quarter at a time, starting with the inner blue border and moving on to the outer blue border.  The blue inner border was okay, but it didn’t have very sharp corners.

The blue on blue quilting doesn’t show it it the picture, but it bugged me.  So I got out my chalk pencil and ruler and drew myself some lines so I would have sharp corners that all lined up.  I should also mention that when I do straight line quilting, I lengthen my machine stitch a bit.  I like the look and more importantly, if, heaven forbid, I have to take stitches out I won’t need a microscope.

I went on to do the outer border and pretty much congratulated myself on being so clever.  This is where I probably jinxed it.  I smoothed out the next block and quilted the inner border and started on the outer one.  I very soon realized that I hadn’t smoothed enough from the first block to this one and there was more fabric than could be quilted out.

This turn of events was NOT amusing.  I spent the next two hours taking out the eleven rows of stitching on the inside border and the three rows I’d completed on the outer border.  The next thing I tried was safety pinning.  I would probably never do this on a larger scale, but I needed to hold the next block a little tighter.

The whole thing didn’t need pinning, but I needed to be sure I was starting out right on the inner border.  This worked much better, if not perfectly.

For the next 2 blocks I’m using spray adhesive.  I may also use some pins.  While I’m not a raging perfectionist, I do have standards.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.  To be continued.

On another front we’re realizing more and more how important tools are to quilting.  A new page will be added to this website to highlight the tools we’ve loved and maybe a few we wish we’d left at the store.  Tools are pretty personal.  What we love, you might find useless.  With this in mind, we invite you to tell us about the tools you love (and hate).  We’d like to pass this info on to others.  Most of our favorites have been suggested to us by other quilters and have become basics in our quilting toolbox.

While you’re here, sign up for our monthly newsletter, above, right.  Then click on the shop button to see our quilt patterns.

To sunny days and open windows!

Quilt for fun!

Candy

 

 

 

Get Into Those Spring Colors

Get Into Those Spring Colors

Welcome May!  According to our weather person, spring will start tomorrow with some sunny and warm weather.  And may I say that it’s about time.  All the rain and cool weather have been tiresome, but everything here is the most gorgeous shade of vibrant green.  Sadly, this also includes the weeds, but I’ll get ’em over the next couple of (dry) days.

The tulips and hyacinths really went to town.  The hyacinths took kind of a beating during an unseasonable wind storm early in April.  They were listing pretty badly but continued to scent the front yard.

They’re about finished now, but the veggies and a few flowers will go in soon so the yard will still be busy.

I spent a chunk of April out of town.  As in 5 days gone, 3 days home, 5 days gone, 3 days home, 2 days gone.  I enjoyed every bit of my travels.  I am currently playing catch-up.  It seems that everything, including the dust just piles up while I’m gone.

Last week I spent a very fun day in a quilt class taught by Robin Long.  Robin teaches a really slick way to make Mariner’s Compass blocks.  She’s developed a ruler that makes the process both efficient and accurate with no paper piecing and very little waste.  Here’s the practice one I made in class:

Pretty nifty!  I was so encouraged that I started a quilt the next day.  Not  all the compasses have centers yet and aren’t sewn to the backgrounds, but you can get the gist.

I’ll post a picture when I finish.  If you’re interested in pursuing this technique, go to www.robinruthdesign.com and see her work, books, rulers and videos.

While I was going through the pots of snail mail that accumulated while I was gone, it came to me that I was looking at wonderful examples of color combinations in catalogs like Grandin Road.  The furniture, rugs and home dec items pictured give lots of hints about colors and how to use them together.  This resource has been hitting my mailbox regularly for years.  You probably have some, too.  You only have to buy one little thing to be engulfed in catalogs for life.  When you see a something you like, tear out the page for your inspiration file.  Then consider the colors, values and percentage of each color used.  If you don’t have an inspiration file, I really suggest starting one and checking it often.  You just never know what will light up a cool quilt idea.

Please keep our fellow quilters who are enduring severe weather in your thoughts and prayers.  Although I whine about the weather here, it’s very unlikely that I’ll be tornadoed or flooded.  I’m very grateful for this and send good thoughts to those whose lives are currently being upended.

We invite you to visit the rest of the site and sign up for our newsletter.

Keep quilting for fun.

Candy

 

Enter Spring

Enter Spring

Spring is officially here.  Here in the Northwest, spring weather means all the weather in one day.  Sun, rain, wind, maybe some thunder.  Because we’ve had such  record-breaking rainfall, many a back yard is pretty swampy, mine included.  However, the front yard is merely soaking wet and the tulips don’t seem to mind it much.  We’ll have plenty of color out there soon.  I’m fervently hoping the tulips will overshadow the weeds which have also loved the wet weather.

My quilt guild had a show last weekend and our small quilt group had a chance to show off the projects we’ve been working on for a year and a half.  We all had the same group of fabrics, though we could add some if we chose and the same blocks from the Tula Pink “100 Modern Blocks” book.  We each made at least 60 blocks although a few overachievers made more.  There are a few missing from the group below but you’ll get a taste of how different each quilt was.

It was such a fun project to work on and my fellow quilters are just the best.  It will be a while before I use lots of black again as it was a dust and thread magnet.  (Mine is the big X.)

I finished “Limeade Runner” (finally) and it’s perfect for the kitchen table during Easter time.

It’s just seven blocks from “Pink Lemonade” put together in a line.  And here it is at work already.

If you really look at the top right of the above picture, you might notice a furry photobomber.  She blends in so well with the couch, it’s easy to miss.

Here she is with her favorite toy.  She carried it around for about 20 minutes the other day.  That ball is  so far in there I’m not sure how she does it.

Ella’s not giving up her tennis ball for love or money.

Toby has perfected his “nobody loves me” look.  Trust me when I tell you, he’s our big sweetie.

Check our shopping page for a couple of specials.

Quilt for fun.

Candy

PS  Please share us with your quilting friends.  The more, the merrier.

Teased by Spring

Teased by Spring

Last week we had a lovely, sunny day.  The kind of day that says, “Spring is just around the corner,” when it’s really not.  Mother Nature can be an awful tease.  Still, being outside in the sunshine is really refreshing.  Since then we’ve had a couple of nice days and lots of rainy ones, with more rain on the way.  Tell me, again, “how many more days until spring?”

We went to Utah to ski with friends week before last and managed to ski a bit before it rained.  This has been such an unusual winter for many of us.  The mountains of Utah were gorgeous as always and just getting out of Dodge for a few days makes the winter pass more quickly.

I finally finished my small quilt group project. All the blocks are from Tula Pink’s “100 Modern Quilt Blocks.”  All twelve quilts were made with the same blocks and colors.  To say they’re all different would

be the understatement of the year.  It was such good practice for very accurate cutting and sewing.  Each block finished 6 X 6-inches.  I made 67 Tula blocks (and parts of a couple more).  Everyone made at least 60 and at least one person made all 100!  There’s always at least one overachiever.  The quilting was a challenge as the quilt is kind of big, 72 X 76.  My next few projects will be decidedly smaller.

Speaking of smaller, I’m in the midst of another teapot quilt.  This one is mostly wool.  The basic pattern is the same as the last Teapot Quilt, but it’s a little different look.  I’m putting in a few stitches I learned in a Sue Spargo class I took last summer, ably taught by Tonye Phillips.  The pot is still looking a little naked, but you get the idea.

I’m attempting to use materials I already have,  I have lots of little bits of wool and felted wool, which work well.  The beads in the center of the purple flower are 2mm seed beads.  For $2.59 you get a little vial with about 2000 tiny beads.  I bought them for a class where I used about five.  I have enough left to last for generations.  If anyone’s interested, I’m happy to share.

I’m thinking about a poppy quilt for this summer based on this picture:

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Poppies always take me back to the flower days of the late 60’s and early 70’s.  I loved the bright colors and pink and orange together.  I also liked the clothes, although that’s a whole different story.

Time to get back to my teapot and maybe a cup of tea.

We’d love to hear your comments and follow us on Facebook.

Quilt for Fun.

Candy

 

 

One of Those Days

One of Those Days

Today is one of those restless days.  You know the kind. (Right? I’m not the only one?) It started out sunny, but now, the clouds have rolled in and at first glance, it seems to be snowing outside.  Since it’s in the low 70’s, it’s really just cottonwood trees doing their thing, causing allergies to flare and screens to get clogged up.  Ella’s allergic to cottonwood and is not amused.  I did a bit of this and a bit of that, but nothing that made me feel like I’ve accomplished much.

I finished a Quilt of Valor top yesterday (yay!), and now I need to figure out a back so I can start quilting.  Didn’t do that today.

I finished a little practice piece with paintstiks so now I’m only two weeks behind in my online class.

I have sixty 6-inch blocks for my small quilt group project.  I’ve been playing with arrangements on Electric Quilt 7 for a chunk of the afternoon and maybe I have a clue how I want to do this. Or not.

It’s now late afternoon and I’m thawing some hamburger although I have no idea how I’m going to make it into dinner.  Yes, THAT kind of a day.

You may now relax as the whining portion of this blog is over.

I finished the quilt I finally named “Nameless in Green.”  I painted my idea first, which is a new direction for me.  I like watercolors even though they’re pretty challenging sometimes.

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Then I gave it a shot with fabric.

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It’s more intense than I planned, but now I know better what I’m aiming for. Maybe a subtler fabric that doesn’t jump up and head slap me.

I am catching up in my Paintstiks class.  Here’s my latest:

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This is actually a lot of fun.  Messy, but fun.  I definitely want to make something out of this piece.  It’s pretty small, so maybe a bag.

The good news is that if I live to be 110, I’ll never run out of stuff to do.  There’s no bad news.  Good to know.

Quilt for fun.

Candy

Finally Back

Finally Back

I started this blog about three weeks ago, went to visit my mom before I finished it, and here we are.  So let’s just do both March and today.

March 16

It looks like it’s going to rain . . . again.  So far the whole month has been stormy, rainy, foggy and for a few brief moments, sunny.  I caught a couple of sunny minutes earlier this afternoon.  Thank heaven for pansies – they hang in as long as we don’t have lots of freezing weather and brighten even the grayest day.  And the tulips, which started coming up at the end of January are beginning to bloom.  The front lawn is beautifully green, though the back is ready to be declared a swamp.   I’m actually longing for a day dry enough to pull weeds.  This is high level cabin fever.

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I’m at that point where I have a bunch of new ideas, but absolutely MUST finish a few things before I start anything new. One project will (I hope) get finished tonight.  Then I’ll finish one more thing before I start something new.  I’ll take the time to hang up spring quilts even if outside doesn’t look all that springy.

I always want to quilt tulips at this time of year.   We lived in Holland for a couple of years in the ’80’s.  This time of year the tulip fields are simply stunning.  After a long, cold winter, seeing all that fabulous color is just wonderful.  Now we get a taste of that in the Northern Willamette Valley where tulips are grown commercially and the fields of riotous color brighten up even the soggiest spring.  I probably have enough tulip quilts, but perhaps there’s room for one more.

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There are patterns for both “Singing Tulips”, above, and “Tulip Fields,” below.  Just go to our shopping page.

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April 15

And I’m back.  I should’ve just posted the short bit above at the time as things got busy and then it was April.  The March weather didn’t improve much until the very end and suddenly spring came, the grass grew and some weeds took hold.  I’m tired of my winter clothes and never want to see them again.  So, basically, it’s a normal early April.

It’s official – the UFO’s are out of hand.  I’m spending some time attacking the pile and deciding what to finish and what to set free.  So far, I’ve finished one UFO, quilted another and only have the binding to do and am quilting a third.  I also have an idea dancing around in my head that will make a good pattern and I’m excited to start it.

The other thing I’m starting is a six week online course with Shelly Stokes on using Paintstiks on fabric.  I’ve used them a couple of times over the years, but having them just hanging around while I’m not sure just what I want to do with them is silly.  So when I got the opportunity to learn from a pro, I decided to just jump in.  I’ll post pictures once I get going.

 

I love spring, but as you might have guessed, I’m not really into pastels.  Why I think spring things should be pastel, I’m not quite sure.  I look out the window at tulips and forsythia and daffodils and the colors are pretty bright.  Spring Sampler is about as pastel as I get and it’s not exactly a wallflower.

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It will be on special on our shopping page until mid May.

We took a short road trip with Toby and Ella.  They’re actually pretty well behaved although Ella likes to take her half out of the middle of the back seat.  Also, she rarely sleeps during the car portion of the trip.  Apparently she doesn’t want to miss anything.

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Toby, on the other hand, settles in for a nap as soon as we hit the freeway so he can be full of energy when we get to Nana’s.

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Over the years, I’ve taken about a millions pictures of the dogs and once in a great while I get a good one.  This is my new favorite of Ella.

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She can be kind of bossy, but is mostly a sweet girl.

Toby is harder to photograph.  Black dogs are a challenge.  He’s an 85 pound snuggler, which can be interesting.  He has the cutest sense of humor of any dog we’ve had.  Toby knows he’s hilarious and really enjoys it.

We invite you to sign up for our newsletter and send us your comments.  The sign up is on the right side of the page.  Also, find and follow us on Facebook at Mother on a Broomstick Designs.

Keep quilting,

Candy