Saturday, October 29, 2011

Picnic Quilt

Saturday Strippers has been having a lot of fun the past few months working through the book Scrap-Basket Sensations by Kim Bracket.  This is a fabulous book for using either Jelly rolls or your own fabrics that have been cut into 2 1/2" strips.  Kim has a great way of putting together coordinated fabrics, of which you have limited quantities, with a larger quantity of another fabric to make beautiful quilts.  Check out the link to where some of the quilts are shown from the book and you will see what I mean.

Back in August (!) the project for us was the Picnic Quilt.  I did not make a very large quilt but I think it will work for Sweet Sadie's.

What do you think?

The fabrics are a bunch of batiks that I won as a door prize some where, the white is from Sew Crafty's closing sale and the quilting (I know you can't really see it) is a meandering leaf pattern I made up as I went along. The size is about 42" by 31" which makes it a nice little accent for the spring.

What really pleases me about this quilt is that I thought my piecing of the blocks was a little off but it all came together when I joined them together.  The outside borders worked out in the end even though I didn't really think through the placement.  Instead I used up some leftover pieces that sort of bring the design to the more solid borders.  

Surprise, surprise....Poor planning on my part did not make an ugly quilt... or at least I don;t think it is ugly.

This is the second quilt that I took to the Quilt Guild Retreat to work on that weekend.  I might as well have not brought it as all I did was take it out the basket, shake it out, and put it back in the basket.  I still have one quilt that needs to be finished up from that weekend.  I pin basted it and started quilting it last weekend at Saturday Strippers and I really, really plan on finishing it up before the end of November.  With the Houston International Quilt Festival next week I don't think I will make much progress until later in the month.

It is a chilly day in Houston for late October and I have many windows open in the house.  The dogs are not happy about that and have spent most of the day cuddled under multiple quilts on their comfy chair.  I don't think they will like it when I scoot them off so I can vacuum up some of the dog hair from the chair.  Maybe I will bribe them with treats?  Chicken jerky or Greenies or both?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy Aprons

The project to make Busy Aprons for late stage Alzheimer's disease and dementia patients is almost over.  There are just a couple of more embellishments to attach to one or two aprons and a few more to deliver and this project will move off the books for a year or two.

I am so very happy to see this one finished.

It's not that I didn't enjoy making them but that, unlike the other charity projects I have worked on lately, this one required a lot of thought on the part of the maker to produce a useful product.

For instance, with wheel chair bags, there is a set size and construction process.  With as little as twenty minutes work you can produce a very good product that can be used by many.

The Busy Aprons do have a set size and basic construction technique but it takes about an hour to make a basic product and almost two to get all the embellishments chosen and securely affixed to the aprons.

In addition, this project seemed to spark the interest of a lot of people but, once again, my faithful crew did most of the work.  Mega kudos to the beautiful Susie, energetic Lish and generous Janetta for their many, many hours of help.  I must also thank the many people who contributed stuff for the aprons including many yards of fabric and trims plus buttons,beads, appliques and other bits and bobs..

In the end we have finished twelve aprons and I have enough 'stuff' to make at least a dozen more.  For now, the extras bits are going into storage for the Quilt Guild garage sale in about 18 months...unless someone wants to make more before then.  If they do, I will be able to help them along with pre-cut apron kits and lots and lots of embellishments.

Here's some of what we produced over the past few months:

Great example of a Busy Apron with lots of things to touch and feel while sitting.  Goal is to have at least seven different textures/things to play with on each apron.

Want to make your own Busy Apron for a friend or family member?  Basically you take an apron approximately 36" wide by 36" tall and add a lot of things to it that you think someone would enjoy touching.  That's all there is to it.

Some things to add to the apron include pockets, buttons, beads, zippers, shoe laces, ribbons, trims, odd bits of heavily textured fabric, bows, braids, small stuffed animals, appliques, sequins, pearls, faux keys, grommets, snaps, Velcro, lace and the list goes on and on and on.  We added a small whistle to each one just for fun.  They can be removed but I read somewhere that it was a good exercise for your lungs and mouth to blow a whistle.

Next up:  Baby Hats!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Heart and Home BOM Done!

Back in June of this year I wrote about finishing up this quilt top.  I put it on the pile of things that needed  to be quilted and, quite frankly, proceeded to forget about it.

Along came the KAQG retreat and, while trolling for things to bring with me, up popped this little quilt top.  Into the basket of things to do, while away, went this funny little quilt top along with safety pins for basting, black batting, black backing and binding fabric and black thread.  I even brought to retreat my sewing machine that does great quilting rather than my usual travel machine.

Piece of cake, right?


Once I started basting the quilt sandwich together all my negative feelings about this quilt came out with a vengeance.  My poor applique technique, my inability to center the central house block, the unevenness of the border fabrics and my inability to keep the instructions with the quilt pieces all came together to make me one grumpy girl.

Why should I put any time into making a quilt with such bad vibes?

Ever a Pollyanna, I decided to make this an exercise in improving my quilting technique.

I don't know if my quilting technique has gotten any better but this is how it all came out:

Since my hands have not been working very well I did not attempt to do any fancy feathers but I did add some fun things to the quilting.  In each of the blocks with the hearts I quilted in the names of dogs I have loved, my family members, cats I have tolerated, people that have lived with me who aren't family members and lots and lots of little hearts.

I am now in love with this quilt as, even though it is poorly made, it will bring a smile to my face when I see it and think about all the names memorialized in it.  Before it was done I was intending to give it to the dogs for their collection but now I think I may hang it on the wall where I can see it every time I go up the stairs to do some sewing just to remind me that a crappy quilt can be saved with just a little imagination.

And, just for some fun, this is how the bath tub/dogs' bed looks like when I go to wake the dogs up in the morning.
What?  No dogs!  Where did they go?  

This particular morning Alex finally poked out his nose from under all the pillows and quilts he prefers to sleep under to see if I was serious about getting them up for a run outside.  I had to go digging for Kelis as she wasn't ready to get active yet.

  With the cold weather coming, I hope you and yours are as cozy and warm as Alex and Kelis are very night.  If a quilt would make that happen for you, let me know.  I could always send you another of my crappy quilts....whenever I get the next one done.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Not a 1,600" Quilt

There is a somewhat popular quilt pattern out there called the 1600 inch quilt.  Essentially you take one jelly roll of 40 different, 2 1/2" wide, 42" long, strips of fabric.  Sew them end to end, then fold in half and sew the long edges together.  Keep doing that and you will end up with a 48" x 64" quilt top.

Did I mention that you are supposed to sew the ends together at a 45 degree angle?

Here is a link that shows you the concept and even a video on the procedure.

Where am I going with this?

A young man I know is a new father and I would like to give him a quilt for his new baby girl.  The problem is that I don't have much of a stash of baby fabrics that I thought would work for a very girly quilt.

Along comes the ever creative Janetta who suggests that I make one of these 1600" quilts and she just happens to have a bunch of girly fabrics that would work for it.

Janetta came up with 10 fat quarters of coordinating pink/brown/cream prints and I was off to the races.

I ended up cutting about fifty 2 1/2" wide, 22" long strips of fabric for my quilt.

Yes, that does not add up to 1600 inches made up of 40 different fabrics but I figured it would all work out in the end.

Here is what I came up with:

It came out to 35" x 58" and I do intend to add a border or two of beige/brown/pink fabrics.

Did you notice that I did not sew the strips together on an angle but straight on?

This quilt, so far, has taken about two episodes of Criminal Minds (off the TiVo) to get it to this stage.

Another episode or two and I should have it bordered, basted, quilted and bound.

Not bad for a quick baby quilt.

Next time I will definitely angle the joins of the strips!   

Friday, October 14, 2011

Quilt Retreat 2011

Need I say more?
The beginning of a quilt by the retreat crew for our next auction....LOVE IT!


A simple bright fabric center encased in simple borders...brilliant!

A clever husband drew out this quilt pattern on plywood.

Irish chain updated for Jelly Rolls

Check out those clever prairie points.

these colors will keep you awake

For our lone knitter

Sunbonnet Sue gone Hallowe'en.

Secret Sister gifts

Love this!

As declared by the maker...'One ugly charity quilt!'

Beautiful quilt... and look at all those cords!

Hundreds of safety pins!
Of course I can say more.

My own output was very slim for the weekend.  I did get most of a little quilt quilted (not shown above), cut fabric for a simple baby quilt, watched a couple of movies, played computer games, worked on my knitting and read most of a book on Brain Games for Your Dog but most of my weekend was spent just relaxing in a lovely location.  Camp Allen is just outside of Navasota, TX, home to W. C. Mercantile, a great little yarn shop, and three of us made a pilgrimage there on Saturday afternoon.

What I love about sewing retreats is the opportunity to get away from it all and do what I want when I want without concern for laundry, meals, or dog walking.  The fact that I can get some concentrated sewing time is just a bonus.

What I hate about sewing retreats is all that concentrated time with a small group of people.  I live alone with a couple of dogs and tend to do my own thing.  Imagine my surprise when I heard later that some of the attendees seemed to note how I spent my time.  I didn't notice what most of them were doing, just the results of their work.  

I've really got to get out more!

One thing I did do on my own was go in search of a screw for my sewing machine.  I ended  up in a small hardware store in Hempstead.  They sent me to a former sewing machine repair store in search of my screw.  I never found the screw but I did find a new member of my pack.

Meet Pierre:
He has settled into a spot in front of the fireplace and Alex and Kelis have accepted him as just an other odd thing in the house.  He has Alex's anatomy, Kelis's coloring and Kemora's face ...  all for a unique mix of Dachshund traits.

Would I go on another retreat...probably.  I have been on several corporate retreats which are very similar and several sewing ones in previous years.  2012 may be the year that I spend retreating....there is a knitting one coming up in February and one in April for the sewers and, of course another quilt guild retreat in September.  Now that I know the venue so well I will be able to take advantage of all it has to offer like hiking trails, a meditation labyrinth, and I might just make it onto a horse for trail ride.  Of course, Navasota deserves at least a few hours exploring it's unique shopping district.

It could be a great year! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Red Scarf Project 2011

The Red Scarf Project is off and running for 2011 and I have actually completed one already.


You don't know about the Red Scarf Project?

Begun by Foster Care to Success (formerly the Orphan Foundation of America) in 2005 when they collected 3,500 scarves to send to their clients on Valentine's Day.  The next year they collected and distributed 15,000!  The project keeps growing but so does the need.

I cannot imagine being 18 years old, with no family, being literally dropped on the street by your foster family and having to fend for yourself.

I cannot imagine trying to finish high school, find a home, shop for your own food and make all those life changing decisions that young adults make without any support from an adult.

I cannot imagine being a friend of a Knit at Night Guild member who was dropped form the program in the middle of their senior year  of high school who spent those critical last months of high school sleeping on friends' couches.  The KANG member related that this friend of hers received one of the Red Scarf Project scarves and how much it meant to him that someone he did not know would make something for him and send a word of encouragement.

I may not be able to imagine all these things but I can make a scarf, send a word of encouragement to some kid in these circumstances.

My first scarf, of what I hope will be several this year, is a simple 2 X 2 rib made from Knit Picks sport weight Stroll yarn in Holly Berry.  Here's how it turned out:

I used two skeins for the body of the scarf and some of a third ball for the fringe.  Excluding the fringe it is about five feet long.  The yarn was easy to work with but I was a little disappointed that there were so many joins in each skein.  There were at least eight in one of the balls and another 6 in the second ball.  In general, that should not be a problem but each join is a potential weak spot and I do worry that repeated washing could make for an unexpected unraveling... or maybe not.

Grab your knitting needles or crochet hooks, review that guidelines and make a scarf.  Heck, you might even learn a new stitch pattern or opt for the tried and true like I did.  In either case you could make a real difference in the life of someone you don't even know and what could be better than that?