Friday, July 22, 2016

Wonderful quilt retreat with far away friends....

About sixteen years ago, I joined several Yahoo Groups devoted to quilting. Back then, you chatted via emails...some days there were many and other days not so many. Most groups did swaps, and other fun challenges, but I didn't participate in many of those because of my work schedule. But it was fun and interesting to chat with people from all over the country and overseas about quilting, family and life in general.

Connie, Tennessee
I really loved one group in particular, Country Quilters USA. It was founded by Connie and Leween, who met through another yahoo group, and quickly became a popular group of friendly, chatty quilters. There was always chatter about quilting, but mixed in was also talk of our families and what was going on in our lives. So I started to feel like I knew these quilters. They would host sew-in days with us checking in periodically to see everyone's progress. We could make photo albums and shared our projects that way.
Leween, California
With the advent of Facebook, we all became friends there and were able to enjoy each other's pictures and comments about life with even more ease. We could have private chats with each other or with groups of several friends. We could comment on each other's posts and support each other in our goals.
Barb, Florida
Many of us have gone through life crisis, family changes, and moves...all with the support of each other. Sometimes we chatted more than others, depending on how busy we were at the time, but we all managed to stay in touch.
Rita, Illinois
Many, many times we talked about getting together for a quilt retreat, but with the distance between us I don't know if any of us thought it would ever happen. (I always liked to throw out the fact that I lived in IA and since it was central to all, it would be a great place to meet.)  Then last fall we decided to plan a retreat and see how many would be able to come. We decided on IA, so I contacted Robin at Log Cabin Quilting in Exira, IA to see what the availability was for July at her retreat center. I thought Exira was perfect, because it is about halfway between Omaha and Des Moines for people flying in to either airport. The group settled on a date and the retreat was actually going to happen!
Log Cabin Quilting, Exira, IA
Paula, Washington
I started a Facebook group to plan and listed all of the details of the retreat...airports nearby, other facts I thought we would need. We spent hours talking on FB messenger about it as everyone started to come on board and make their plans. Eight of us would meet in Exira on July 14!
Heather, Minnesota
During the month of June, our chatter became more and more intense as we realized that we really were going to do this! Most of us had never met each other, so the prospect was exciting. At one point, one of the group cancelled because of a family emergency, but it worked out that she could come after all. The last week before was filled with talk about what to bring, who was bringing extra machines for the people flying in, who was leaving on what day....
Angela, Oklahoma
Connie drove the farthest, leaving on Monday afternoon from Knoxville. She arrived in Lisle, Ill to pick up Rita on Tuesday and they drove the rest of the way on Wed. getting them there a day early. We contacted Robin (retreat owner) and she said the retreat was open and they could come there a day early.
Barb's flight was scheduled for Wed. so she had planned to stay in a hotel Wed. night and drive out on Thursday to the retreat. But when she found out that they could go to the retreat early, she made plans to do that as well. 
Heather started thinking about coming early, as she had a 7 hr. drive and thought it would be nice to get there Wed. night so she had a full day of sewing on Thurs. So she left a day early and arrived that night.
Sisters Leween and Paula arrived via plane in Omaha on Wed. afternoon and I met them at their hotel for a mini quilt shop hop and out to eat. We made our plans to leave in the morning. Angela had to work part of Wed. and then started packing so she could leave first thing Thurs. AM. She also had a 7 hr. drive.
We all brought our own projects to work on, but I agreed to teach the Circle and Spin technique to them as well. So Friday afternoon we all stopped what we were doing and I taught class for awhile. It was fun and since they are all accomplished quilters, it went very well.

They enjoyed the ease of cutting and sewing together these circles and tested the rulers I had gotten made not long ago. They loved the rulers! They are making various sized quilts and 2 of them finished theirs on retreat. One more has finished hers since we got home. I can't wait to see pictures of all of them, finished!








I  made the Log Cabin Star by Marci Baker during the retreat. I had cut out the pieces before I left, so it went together pretty quickly. My friend Cindy agreed to quilt it quickly since I haven't solved the issues with my machine yet. I will be teaching it in Sept. at Cut Up and Quilt.

Log Cabin Star

I also worked on a new quilt in the Circle and Spin series made using all Moda Grunge fabrics....love them! It is currently finished except for the borders, which I should be sewing on.....now.  I will get it finished today.
As I talked about this retreat with people as it was getting closer, many were interested in the fact that we were spending 4 days together when we'd never met.  Others thought it was awesome that we were meeting after knowing each other online for so long. Robin (retreat owner) loved our story and couldn't wait to meet everyone, so as we trickled in, she greeted us with open arms and 2 bottles of wine so that we could have a toast when we finally all arrived. 

Sunday was sad as we said our good-byes to our quilting sisters, but we have already started planning next year's retreat and hopefully everyone will be able to come again. A tradition? maybe....

Monday, July 11, 2016

A new sampler finished, retreat planning and a quilting problem....help!!!

I got the quilting and binding done on the new sampler, Doing the Splits, the other day...so happy to have it finished. Conrad must've been bored as he had to help me trim the edges for the binding. Or maybe he just really likes this quilt.

Don't I look handsome?xs
If you read my blog much, you know that I try to come up with different blocks and settings for each sampler. I design two a year for my classes and  I'm really excited about this setting. Hopefully my quilters will be too.
I loaded the baby version of Off the Beaten Path the other day too, but am having some issues getting it quilted. I accidently broke the needle when I hit the clip on the edge that holds the quilt taut. Now I'm having skipped stitches and breaking thread. I can deal with breaking thread, but those skipped stitches.....arghhhhhh. I have had to take a partial row out several times (the same row, mind you). I put a practice piece on the end of the frame so that I could practice after adjusting the needle several times. I tried different speeds. I don't have stitch regulator, so can't blame that. When I practiced, it looked good, so then I tried quilting and more skipped stitches. I have changed the needle 3 times, thinking maybe it could be a bad needle. I worry that I don't get it in straight too, but I have adjusted several times and it looks like it's inserted correctly.
I took another half row out earlier and practiced some more, but still problems. It says in my book it can be out of time when it does that but it looks like it is lined up correctly. Anyone have any advice for me?

The crazy thing is that I am using the same thread as the sampler and it quilted just fine. It's a new panto for me, but I don't usually have problems using a new panto. I'm not happy!



In happier news, my online friends and I are getting excited to meet for our retreat at Log Cabin Quilting in Exira, IA on Thurs. One of them left Knoxville today to give her time to travel. She is going to get to another friend's house in Lisle, Ill. tomorrow and they will leave on Wednesday for the trip to IA. The two sisters coming from the west coast are leaving Wed. am and will fly in to Omaha that afternoon. We are going out to eat in the Old Market that evening before we head to Exira on Thurs. am. Our Florida friend flies in to Des Moines Wed. AM and is getting to the retreat location early...she can get it all set up for us....or just shop! The other two are coming from Minnesota and Ollahoma on Thursday. We have been friends online for years but have never actually met. We do a lot of group chatting on FB. We've been planning this for a long time, so it's hard to believe it's almost here! I shopped today for fabric for two new projects for upcoming classes. I can't wait to start them!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Finishing essentials and boxy pouches...again?

I spent yesterday sewing with friends and got some quilt essentials finished. We all love making the tops, but sometimes the finishing bogs us down. Piecing the backing, quilting them, making and attaching the binding...wears you out just thinking about it, doesn't it? It's not that I hate that part, I just like making the tops better. When I quilt something it takes time, as I can only do about 3 - 4 passes at a time. ( I have a fussy back!) My machine is a mid arm so I can quilt about 6" -7" wide at a time. So if I can, I will quilt for a bit, do something else for awhile and then back to quilt. I hope to get close to finishing the quilting on the new sampler today. 

I need to finish the Off the Beaten Path baby quilt as I'm making it for my sister to give as a gift. I pieced the cute orange and white polka dot fabric for the backing and made the binding out of the Eric Carle print I had used for a border on the quilt yesterday. Ready to finish....it's up next on the quilting machine. 

 I haven't always quilted the samplers right away as it was easier to hang them unfinished on the walls at the store. I could leave them up for the duration of the classes (6 months) and have that visual every month during class. At my new location, I can't leave them hanging up, so I really wanted to get this new sampler quilted so that as take it back and forth to class, it doesn't get stretched or become a wrinkled up mess.
I made the binding for the new sampler yesterday too so I can bind it as soon as I finish the quilting. I need to get some good pictures of the finished quilt to advertise the class.
 When I finished that, I worked on a few Quilted Boxy Cornered Pouches. I really like making them and this time used a prequilted fabric. It goes much faster! I made 2 with the stripe on the outside and 1 with the blue paisley on the outside. These are so much fun to make and it's nice to have a few on hand for gifts.

Better get busy with that quilting!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A new sampler and an old McCalls

 I spent Friday piecing the backing, loading the new sampler, Doing the Splits, on the frame, winding bobbins and quilting a couple of rows. I'm using the Starburst Panto, which is one of my favorites. There is a lot of negative space on this quilt, so it calls for something that fills in well.
 I need to get it finished soon so I can take photos of it to advertise the quilt class. I am always excited to start a new class. I've been working on writing the patterns too, and am about half finished. My goal for the weekend is to get as much finished on this quilt (inclucing the patterns) as I can. Next up on the machine is the Off the Beaten Path baby quilt. I have so many quilts that need to be quilted that I need to have one on the machine at all times this summer.
 Here is the backing fabric I got for Doing the Splits. Pretty generic pattern but interesting. Not sure about the binding yet... thinking about the green leaf or multi colored print in the picture above. We'll see when it's finished.
I've spent a lot of time this week cleaning too. My house is neglected throughout the spring as I am busy with school, quilt classes and sewing. So each room needed a good cleaning from top to bottom. I have the main floor looking pretty good now. I cleaned the spare room upstairs the other day when putting the quilts from the trunk show away, so I need to tackle our bedroom and the quilt machine room. Lots of piles in both rooms, so it will take awhile.

As I dusted around my aunt's old McCalls sewing machine the other day, I decided that I should be using it. I cleaned it good and played around with it for awhile. It sews like a dream. I bought it at the estate sale after my uncle died. I asked the family if this was the machine she had always sewed on and they said it was the only one they found.
 I took it out of the 70's style table that my uncle had put it in and placed it in an old Singer cabinet I had purchased at a yard sale at some point that would be closer to the right era. I need to take some new pictures of it and use it now!



A new sampler and an old McCalls

 I spent Friday piecing the backing, loading the new sampler, Doing the Splits, on the frame, winding bobbins and quilting a couple of rows. I'm using the Starburst Panto, which is one of my favorites. There is a lot of negative space on this quilt, so it calls for something that fills in well.
 I need to get it finished soon so I can take photos of it to advertise the quilt class. I am always excited to start a new class. I've been working on writing the patterns too, and am about half finished. My goal for the weekend is to get as much finished on this quilt (inclucing the patterns) as I can. Next up on the machine is the Off the Beaten Path baby quilt. I have so many quilts that need to be quilted that I need to have one on the machine at all times this summer.
 Here is the backing fabric I got for Doing the Splits. Pretty generic pattern but interesting. Not sure about the binding yet... thinking about the green leaf or multi colored print in the picture above. We'll see when it's finished.
I've spent a lot of time this week cleaning too. My house is neglected throughout the spring as I am busy with school, quilt classes and sewing. So each room needed a good cleaning from top to bottom. I have the main floor looking pretty good now. I cleaned the spare room upstairs the other day when putting the quilts from the trunk show away, so I need to tackle our bedroom and the quilt machine room. Lots of piles in both rooms, so it will take awhile.

As I dusted around my aunt's old McCalls sewing machine the other day, I decided that I should be using it. I cleaned it good and played around with it for awhile. It sews like a dream. I bought it at the estate sale after my uncle died. I asked the family if this was the machine she had always sewed on and they said it was the only one they found.
 I took it out of the 70's style table that my uncle had put it in and placed it in an old Singer cabinet I had purchased at a yard sale at some point that would be closer to the right era. I need to take some new pictures of it and use it now!



Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Off the Beaten Path....baby style


About a month ago, I took part in the Desire to Inspire Challenge at Henry Glass and Co blog. The premise is that you agree to design something using their fabrics...and they send you some really cool fabrics. What could be better than that?  I was sent fabrics from the #LaughLoveQuilt collection by Amy Hamberlin.
You can read my blog post here or follow the link above to see the post on the Henry Glass and Co. blog.
Aren't these elephants adorable?

 I really like the pattern I came up with, Off the Beaten Path, and wanted to try it out using brighter fabrics. I needed to make a baby quilt, so decided to make it a bit smaller, but still child size. I don't know about you, but I always make my baby quilts at least 50" x 50". Then they can use them as they grow. I finished the top yesterday, so it is ready to be quilted. I purchases some cute orange and white polka dotted fabric for the backing, so as soon as I get that pieced, I'll be ready to quilt it.
Fabrics I used in the baby Off the Beaten Path quilt.
I finished the new sampler yesterday too, so as soon as I get some good pictures of it I will post them. I am really excited about this sampler design, and I hope others will be too. Here's a sneak peek....


One block used in Sampler 23, Doing the Splits.
Partial Off the Beaten Path  blocks chillin' in the shade.