Monday, November 26, 2012

Tablerunner Finish!

Sorry for the brief radio silence . . . I had a work conference in Denver and then the Thanksgiving holiday, so am just now trying to catch up!

On other fronts, yay, I'm done! Thanks to the amazing head start I got at the Utah Valley Quilt Guild retreat last month, I finished my tablerunner for the Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap I'm doing on Flickr!

From checking out my partner's mosaic I figured out that she (along with several other people!) kinda liked trees. Fortunately, that's sort of my paper piecing thing. I've recently discovered these stars, so I thought I'd combine the overlapping trees with some stars.

I had originally finished the first panel of trees (meaning I had finished a set of three trees), when I discovered that the big tree was too short. The bottom of the tree came too close to the bottom of the bottom of the tree on the left, and it looked all wrong. I was so frustrated, because I loved the fabric and everything else about the trees! But back to the drawing board I went and redrafted the pattern for the trees and started over (insert sad emoticon here!).

One of my goals for this tablerunner was to use a lot of non-holiday fabrics. I love the way that bright modern fabrics can be used to make something look holiday appropriate without being explicitly holiday themed.

I did use Riley Blake's Doodlebug Design Santa Santa's Workshop Snowflake fabric throughout the piano key border and in the stars, but other than that I relied on the reds, greens, and turquoises in my stash. I particularly love how the American Jane Punctuation looks like ornaments in the trees! I also have a weakness for birds, so I always try to sneak a bird fabric or two (or three!) into my trees! That's Cloud 9 Heron fabric on the bottom. I also used P&B Textiles' Velocity Feed the Birds in there too. 

So, my tablerunner is pretty much ready to go! I just need to make a Christmas tree ornament. I'm strangely stumped about what to do . . .  any suggestions??

Monday, November 12, 2012

More News and Views From the Retreat

So. I think I've finally caught up on my sleep after 4 straight days of sewing! My neck, however, has not quite forgiven me for staring straight at my sewing machine for so long! I can only imagine what we looked like--a room filled with 76 women seated at their sewing machines from 7 a.m. until past midnight! One man stopped by and asked if we were all part of a sweatshop! I replied that I didn't sew nearly fast enough to keep my job if that had been the case!

Apparently, it was snowing up quite a storm outside, but we were in a windowless conference center, fairly removed from the world outside. This is what it looked like at home:

We also apparently elected a president and quite a few senators and congresspeople while we were away at retreat as well . . .  kind of surreal how the world marches on! It was strange actually; I kept checking my iPad for news, but it didn't seem that anyone had their TVs on or were talking (much) about politics. I did, however, get cornered a few times (I'm really not sure why!) and was asked my opinion on presidential politics. A very dicey question in Utah! But no worries . . .  I'm not about to launch into a diatribe on my stance on foreign policy, healthcare, or even more delicate issues! Not in this post, at least! ;-)

Now, back to the retreat itself! First of all, as I mentioned yesterday, I got there a day early so that I wouldn't have to get up at the crack of dawn to drive up to Park City on Wednesday morning. I'm so glad I did! I was able to get my bearings, set up my sewing area, meet some people, and, best of all, hang with my roomie Sue! I wish I could link to her blog, but she doesn't blog . . . yet (hint, hint, Sue!). Sue, knows that I'm a bit out of my element here in Utah, as I'm really an East Coast ocean girl in my heart and soul. And being the sweetie that she is, look at what she gave me as a retreat roomie gift!!

A whole fat quarter bundle of Emily Herrick's totally fabulous Going Coastal collection! Yay! I'm beyond thrilled with these goodies! I've never had a whole, entire fat quarter bundle before and I'm frankly somewhat beside myself! Sue had given me some samples from the line a while back, but that just whetted my appetite for more, and now I have it all! If you don't know this line, definitely check it out. It has flamingos, sea kelp, lobsters, madras, sailboats and other fun designs. So fabulous!

I have a great pattern of Emily's, Cabana, that I already have in mind for the fabric. I have the person in mind to give the finished quilt to, as well, but that part is top secret as I think she reads the blog . . . so more on her secret identity and her special story after the quilt is gifted. I will blog along as work on this quilt, however, so you will get to see this one in progress!

There were some goodies for sale at the retreat, but I was oh so restrained!! $3 half yards, patterns, and all sorts of other goodies. I'm sure you can just imagine what the sale area looked like . . .  sort of like the stores on Black Friday (after Thanksgiving). Nothing like offering sales on fabric to quilters! It was bedlam. I braved the bevy of ladies, but I held myself back and this is all I succumbed to:

Pretty restrained, eh?! I'm fairly proud of myself!

Now, on a non-retreat front, I have some exciting news . . . I won something as part of Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival!! If you haven't gone over to her site yet to check out the totally amazing talent on the festival, stop reading this right now and head on over to see! I mean it! I'll still be here when you come back! I summoned up my courage and posted my Mama Lilly quilt on the BQF this year, which was fairly daunting given the gorgeous and completely professional work people presented, but as this was my first year of sewing and my first year I completed any quilts I thought it was a good risk to take. And I was rewarded with a $25 gift certificate at Fabricworm! Clearly not for my quilt, just one of those lucky draws! Yay! Because who doesn't love fabric?! And Fabricworm is a great store with an amazing selection of distinctive fabrics.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Recovering from Retreat!

I'm back!! I just had the most fabulous 4 days retreating with the Utah Valley Quilt Guild in Park City. It almost turned into a longer retreat as we got socked in with a snowstorm! I loved it! There were 76 quilters . . . so amazingly talented with such diverse skills! I arrived the night before (Tuesday) and was able to get my area set up so I was ready to jump in first thing Wednesday morning. Good thing, as I set far too large an agenda for such a relatively short time (I know, I know, 4 days is really a long time, but not for the 12 projects I wanted to complete)!! 

Nevertheless, I'm so thrilled with what I accomplished. In ramping up before the retreat I had been prepping my pieced scrap border quilt strips so that I'd be ready to assemble the blocks. I actually had finished all but about 20 of the blocks before the retreat, so at the retreat I was able to finish that up, piece together the rows of alternating white and pieced blocks, and then finally sew it all together. My final goal was to baste the quilt before I returned home. I knew that I'd never get as good a baste as I could get on two tables pushed together (picture instead me at home: the quilt laid out on the carpeted floor, the dog hair flying through the air, with the dogs trying to lie down on the quilt top -- hopeless!). So, here she is! 

Now "all" I have to do is quilt and bind it, and I'll be done! My current idea (thanks Machelle!!) is to do concentric squares inside the squares. I do think that much spinning in circles on my little machine may drive me a bit dizzy, however!

While at the retreat, I also worked on the tablerunner for the swap. Here's the design I've come up with (again, with much help from the amazing women at my table!!). Thank you Sue, Vonda, Michelle, and Machelle! I was originally going to have the trees facing each other in the other direction (picture the shorter end of the table?), but Sue steered me in this direction instead, which I love!

 This is a closeup of one set of the trees. It was a bit of a monster to design the paper piecing pattern. Isn't it funny how simple it looks once it's done? I had to sew and unpick that tree on the left about 3 or 4 times because I first couldn't get the left line of the bottom of the big tree to align with the left line of the top of the tree, and then my tree trunk on the little tree on the left somehow ended up on the far left of the tree. Sigh. You know how some people wear little scissors around their neck when they're sewing? I think I need to wear my seam ripper instead!

There's lots more to tell about the retreat, so stay tuned for more in another post, but I'm oh so tired! Before I close up shop for the day, however, let me give a shout out to my retreat roomie, Sue. She was a great partner in crime, taught me so much, and kept me so entertained throughout the retreat! And hi to Robyn too! If you haven't yet, go check out her great blog. Look at what she can make!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Oh, the bags are packed, and I'm ready to go . . . . And yet, these are just the sewing bags!! These don't include any of my clothes!!

I'm headed off this afternoon to Park City for my Utah Valley Quilt Guild Retreat. Wahoo! Here's to three and a half wonderful days of sewing, quilting, and camaraderie! Stay tuned! I will try to keep posting throughout!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Getting Ready for Retreat

Do you remember packing up for summer camp when you were a kid? The packing would begin with excitement weeks before departure day. Now, I'm not talking about packing clothes and necessities -- that, my mother would largely take care of (thanks Mom!). No, I'm talking about the fun stuff. The flashlight that had what seemed like 15 different flashing functions (as if I was going camping alongside the Alaskan Coast Guard station), the 32 snack assortments, the hot pink fan (yes, Ella, I know you would have wanted that one!), the walkman I had wanted forEVER, the Sweet Valley High novels (remember those?), etc.

I would pack and repack, add more things to the ever-burgeoning piles, try to cram the lid shut on the oh so nifty trunk we had purchased at the Army-Navy surplus store. I was so thrilled to be going to camp, and I think the packing represented my excitement for all the experiences I was going to have. If I just packed the right things, If I only had the right accoutrements, If only . . .  then the experience would be AMAZING!!

Well, here I am  . . . cough . . .  years later and not much has changed!! I'm heading to my retreat with the Utah Valley Quilt Guild in just a few days, and I feel that same sense of excitement! And yes, that same packing frenzy! My piles are continuing to grow. You'd think that I'm going on a month-long quilting cruise, rather than a 3 and a half day retreat! But to have a whole three and half days of sewing seems so wonderfully intense that I've set a rather rigorous agenda for myself, and one that just keeps growing by the minute (especially every time I read a new blog post and discover a new wonderful project I could add to my Christmas "to do" list!). And how horrible would it be to be stuck in Park City (gasp) only to discover that I'm missing some critical piece of fabric?! Egad! So of course I'm  planning on bringing what feels like half my stash.

So, this is my current plan of action as it stands now (see my prior post for some more detail on a few of these projects):

1) Pieced scrap border quilt (thank you red pepper quilts!): I've pieced all the blocks, so I "just" have to sew the blocks together, baste it, quilt it, and bind it.

2) Polka dot baby quilt: I've pieced the blocks, so again "just" have to sew, baste, quilt, and bind.

3) Denyse Schmidt quilts: I have a bunchload of DS blocks pieced, from which I have a few baby quilts' worth of sewing to do! (not a top priority)

3) Ruby & Camille Scrap Quilt: I have all the scraps cut for this, but need to paper piece the blocks.

4) Christmas tree skirt: I have the sketches for this and the fabric picked out, but that's about it!

5) Modern Christmas table runner swap: I have my sketch and my fabric picked out.

6) Ana White work apron: I have the fabric and the pattern.

7) Tote bag (Christmas present): Fabric and pattern: I've made a ton of these, so this is a quick sew

8) An unmentionable project (Christmas present for one of my readers!)

9) Dog bone quilt: Fabric and pattern (Christmas present)

Getting the picture?? I may be biting off quite a bit more than I can chew. This may not be just a shortcookie, but quite a large cookie!! Just take a look at my "to go" pile (so far)!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fabric Frenzy!

Weeeee! Fabric!! I think one of my favorite parts of sewing and quilting is playing with er, selecting fabrics for my projects. I love the complex interactions between value, texture, pattern, color, and the  inexplicable role that whimsy plays. 

Take the American Jane Punctuation fabric in black, green, and red in the foreground of the picture, for example. I'm not sure what it is about that fabric, but I find it just captivating! It has a life to it, a bounciness and life that adds so much to a quilt or Christmas stocking or zippy pouch!
This the color palette I'm playing with for the Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap. As you may have seen already, this is the possible draft of a tablerunner for my secret partner:

The colors are just to brighten up the design. Can you picture this design in the colors above? Not in ALL of the fabrics, but in a subset of the greens, reds and aquas.

What do you think? Which ones do you like? Which ones would you dump? I don't have it in my stash yet, but I was thinking of adding some Winterkist too . . .

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tools of the Trade

Isn't this the cutest pin ever?? April brought me back a little bit of goodness from Market. Thank you April, you're the best!

I'm totally jealous of everyone who has been at Market; it sounds like an exhausting, but also an exhilarating experience! And all that fabric! What an amazing candy store of delicious textiles! Someday, some way, I'm going to find a way to get there!

Ella, April, Sue, and I met for a sewing day yesterday and I got so much done, yay! I worked on my pieced scrap border quilt, piecing my white blocks and the smaller of the scrappy strips:

I also worked on my starflower block pillow:

Finally, I came up with a sketch of a possible design for my tablerunner for the Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap I'm participating in. The colors aren't really true, more just to jazz things up . . .

Stay tuned tomorrow to see what I'm playing with in terms of possible fabrics . . .  I'd love your opinions!