Sunday, May 31, 2009

Quilt Auction

One of my favorite quilting events is the annual Mennonite Relief Sale and Quilt Auction.  I have attended this event for many years, sometimes having worked on a quilt being auctioned, and/or having donated a block to one of the group quilts. Last year I helped create a butterfly quilt - you can see it here, and this year I was excited to see the Black and White block challenge quilt auctioned (you can read more about it here).  Here is the quilt hanging on the rack waiting to be auctioned. Unfortunately they placed the quilt way down the list (quilt #179) and I had to leave the auction before it was sold, so I don't know what the sale price was. Does anyone out there in blogland know? I will call the organizer tomorrow and see if I can find out.
On the right is a photo of the quilt auction. New this year was a big screen which projected a large photo of each quilt being auctioned. There were less attendees at this year's auction for sure, and the highest selling quilt when I was there was the featured quilt (click here to see it) which was sold for $7000. 

Here are the 200+ quilts hanging and waiting to be auctioned. I will check the newspaper tomorrow to see how much money the quilts raised for world relief efforts.

**Update**
I just talked to the challenge organizer and she said that the B & W quilt sold for $2,600!!  And the little wallhanging (9 blocks) that went with it sold for $500!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quilting the Wheel of Mystery

I had my sister over for a quilting lesson and she said something really funny...
Sister said: "Are you starting something new again"?
I said "Did you think I was going to work on one of my 10 unfinished projects I can see from where I'm sitting?!?!"
Sister said: "I think you should"! Now picture me laughing out loud!
I was all ready to cut into some fabric and start the new paper piecing mystery block at Paper Panache. 
She kept giving me the evil stare, so then I felt guilted into working on a UFO! 
I had been fussing around about my wheel of mystery borders and had been unsure which fabric to pick. Since I finished piecing the quilt top on May 13th (see quilt top here)  I have literally auditioned hundreds of possible border fabrics - both from my stash and at quilt stores.
Today I decided that the problem must be that I don't really want it to have a border, so I went ahead and basted it using one of the fabrics I had bought for a possible border, as the backing. 
And then just jumped into quilting it. I quilted all the curvy seams and then decided to do some other quilting lines - I tried a second line
 right by the seam to emphasize the circles but I hated the look of that. See where my awl is pointing?? That quilting line had to go. 
And I tried quilting about 1/2" away from the seam and hated 
that...look how wavy that line is!!!! 
I must have been distracted by my new project sitting on the edge of the table - calling to me, waiting for me to cut into new fabric!
I like to post photos of these kinds of mistakes because some people think that when you are an experienced quilter, it comes easy and it always works out...not so!! Having experience just means you don't give up and you have a few more ideas or solutions to try.
I kept at it and unsewed a few more quilting lines and finally decided that I prefer the echo curves to be 1/4" away from the seams. Then I had several lines of holes on the batik fabrics where those quilting lines used to be...ugh! With a lot of rubbing of my fingers nails I think (hope) it is not as noticeable now.
As I was leaving the quilt session, I got another idea of quilting lines to make and I'll try that tomorrow. Or maybe I'll work on my new paper pieced block if my sister isn't there to give me the evil stare!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hilary's Classes Day 2

I can hardly believe it is Tuesday already! It was such an intense weekend with 2 full days of classes with Hilary Rice and her trunk show/lecture on Friday night.This is the fabric kit we received for the friday "Easy Peasy Curves" class, hand dyed by Hilary...gorgeous! I love the look of these fabrics, but I don't like the production process, so I think I'll stick with the hand painting that I do enjoy and do more of
 that once the warm sunny weather is here to stay. These are the fabrics I started with to make my curved landscape, which was on my
last blog post. I have a lot of work to do on this little piece, so I'll show it to you again in the next week or two (hopefully!).
The second day was an embellishment class called "Imagine and Create". Hilary taught us a long list of techniques including couching, bobbin-stitching, cut-away applique,  using 
sheer overlays, encasement, free machine embroidery, ribbon threadplay, and free machine applique. Some of these things I had tried before, but it was great fun to play with these techniques without a thought(worry!) abou
t how the finished product would turn out. Here is a close up photo of my experiments with sheer overlays and lot of sparkly things encased, and you can see a little of the edges of couched thread.
 I did have a few tension problems, but I must say I enjoye
d torturing my little sewing machine! My regular machine was at Triangle Sewing Machine Spa getting a tune up, so I had to use my little Janome Platinum.  I really put it through the paces with the bobbin stitching, dramatically adjusting the bobbin tension constantly,  and using all kinds of thick thread, but it turned out amazingly well. I was happy with this swirl of bobbin stitched perle cotton.
Here is the "Imagine & Create" class photo...lots of energized, happy quilters with the beginnings of their wonderful art quilts.
Today my brain is still spinning with ideas, techniques and thoughts about refining my ideas about what directions I might like to go in my own quilting journey.  Unfortunately there is no down time for me this week since it is Quilt & Fibre Art Festival and there are so many exciting quilting events to see. Does the fun ever let up!?!?!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Gifts received and sent

I have been having a fantastic time with Hilary Rice, a quilter from Newfoundland, who is teaching at our guild for 2 days. I have waited a long time (since I found out last year that I could not get into her classes at Quilt Canada, even though I mailed my registration on the very first allowed date) to take a class with her! 
However, my wait is now over and I feel like I have received a creative gift...2 days with Hilary!! Today was a curved piecing class and can you believe I am actually making this?!? Each student received a fabric kit made of beautiful fabrics hand dyed by Hilary. I don't love doing landscapes but I wanted to learn curved piecing, and Hilary made it seem as though it was easy. I hope I can still do it when I am working on it at home!
Tonight we were treated to a slide/trunk show of some of Hilary's amazing quilts, full of curved piecing. Truly inspiring!
Tomorrow is an embellishing class, which is something I really enjoy, and am so excited that I hope I will be able to sleep tonight!
And a surprise gift I sent in the mail has been received, so I can tell you that a while ago I was talking about loving scraps, and fellow blogger Rhonda very generously sent me a box of her scraps.   I was on a roll making these blocks, so I made a mini quilt for Rhonda out of her own scraps and sent it back to her as a 'thank you' for sending me the fabric.
You can see a better photo of the quilt on Rhonda's blog, but this photo shows how I quilted it, even though the colour is way off.  I'm so glad to hear that you liked your surprise Rhonda!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Permission to Play - blocks finished

The blocks are sewn for my "Permission to Play" quilt top. They were fun to sew and I am ready to add the corner triangles, but need to decide the layout before I can do that step. 
I played around with the blocks on my design wall and here are my 3 options so far.
If you have a preference, leave a comment and help me to decide!
Layout A

Layout B

Layout C

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Permission to Play

Don't you just love starting a new project?!? I couldn't resist cutting into one of the kits I bought at Hancocks in Paducah. I opened up the kit called "Permission to Play: Kaleidoscope" to find that the fabrics in my kit were not really like the fabrics in the photo or the sample quilt I saw there.  I have mostly green fabrics, no dark blues at all, mostly light, yellowy greens and blues and a bit of medium green. I know that there is often a lot of colour variation in batiks, but I am sure this is not the "right" fabric. I guess that is the downside to buying kits...you don't always get the fabrics you think are are getting. 
The colours do remind me of spring with all the different greens that I would never ordinarily put together in a quilt, but it seems to work for Mother Nature!
So, I started cutting and sewing the blocks together, hoping for the best!  My first block was like a little bowl, so I started checking the angles after each seam and shaving off bits as I went along and it worked much better.  You wouldn't think that these tiny shavings would be so important, but they sure made a big difference in getting my blocks to lay flat!
And then, of course, I made the usual piecing errors and sewed a few pieces together that didn't go together. It's always a reminder to pay closer attention to what I am doing!
Here are my pieced blocks lined up for pressing...I thought they looked so cool lined up like that!
Anyway, I am enjoying sewing the blocks together and am already planning to make another Kaleidoscope - in miniature of course! 
The seam matching has been a challenge, but I am satisfied with the first few blocks, so I'll keep on going!
To view the quilt in it's proper colours and/or to download the free pattern - click here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Anniversary celebration

We are back from a wonderful relaxing visit at a country inn, celebrating our 25th anniversary. This is the view from our room and you can see my husband sitting on the bench enjoying the refreshing spring weather. 
Of course I brought my sewing machine along, just in case! 
I set it up on a card table right in front of the patio door of our room, so I could sew while I enjoyed the scenery. Am I a lucky woman or what??! My husband just rolls his eyes and pretends to be annoyed when I start dragging in the sewing machine, but I think that secretly he really enjoys reading while I am sewing. 
I finished piecing the John Flynn "Wheel of Mystery" quilt top and in spite of all the trouble I had at the beginning of piecing these blocks, the rows actually came together fairly well. 
In fact, the top went together so quickly, I even had time to go shopping at the local quilt store for a border fabric, and start a new project...does life get any better than that?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

25th Anniversary

It has been a happy/sad week for us.  It is our 25th anniversary and I was hesitant to go away because I did not want to miss quilt guild meeting, and also we had been too busy to sit down and organize anything. But after a "tongue lashing" from my quilting friends, I got busy and started planning a little getaway for us.
Here is our wedding party in 1984. How is it possible that 25 years have passed since that day?!?

As I was planning our getaway, we found out that David, our little ringbearer, died suddenly. He was a wonderful person, whom I babysat since he was born, until he was too old for a babysitter, and after that we remained friends. David was born with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, and had a multitude of challenges throughout his too short life. He had a wonderful sense of humour and an infectious giggle. I loved him since the first day I held him in my arms and was always so inspired by him.  My career choices evolved out of my life changing experiences with him, his mother being one of my references for my first job in social work. Eventually I had my own children and named my son after him. He was engaged to be married in August and it is still hard to believe that now he is gone. I wish I would still be planning what quilt pattern to make him for a wedding gift.
It will be good to have a couple of days to be away, to remember the friends that we have met and loved and celebrated with over the last 25 years...to drink a toast to the friends we have lost and to remember that every day with loved ones is a gift to be treasured. 







Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Finishing and Shamrocks

It's a busy week as many quilting classes wind up for the spring session.
Here is my senior's centre class working on finishing their UFO's. Class members were helping to pin baste a lovely summer quilt made by Lois.  Aren't we all so happy when that quilt is done and on the bed instead of sitting in a bag in the UFO closet?!?!
And here are some of the finished St. Patrick's day shamrocks from last month's mini quilters group. I know I say this all the time, but I just love how each quilt turns out to be so different.  My shamrock will be hanging on my front door next March!
I am hoping to make some progress on my little Wheel of Mystery blocks this week and hope I don't "snatch myself bald", which is a great saying from Bonnie in her comment on my last post...thanks for the smile Bonnie!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Poor self control...new project started!

Okay I tried to work on a project from before Paducah (otherwise known as "BP"),  but I could barely remember what I was working on "BP"!!!
I was innocently putting my fabric purchases away and cleaning up my sewing area, and then a strange thing happened...
I started making another Wheel of Mystery quilt! I know, I have poor self control!  But seriously, who could resist opening up these cute little John Flynn pre-cut kits from Paducah?!? Not me!
I was so excited and took out all the little pieces and started to wonder why I had chosen a kit with such small pieces!
Still, it looked like fun. 
It wasn't!
I could not, for the life of me get the centre seams to match up. This is how most of the blocks are looking after unsewing and resewing each block 3 times. I have a "3 times and you're out" policy...after the 3rd time, however it turns out is final!
The other thing I did not like is that when you press these fabrics, there is a strong smell of smoke due to the lazer cut edges...not pleasant. I usually love pressing batik fabrics because of the smell of wax that most batiks have, which I enjoy. So this smokey smell took some getting used to.
Anyway, these blocks are painstaking...each block is taking me about 30 - 40 minutes to sew.
And the pressing of the seams is trickey too. Here is the back of one of the blocks. All seams are split pressed with a swirl in the centre.
I must say that I am delighted that my blocks are laying flat after pressing, because that is a lot of curved seams in a small area, and I was beginning to wonder if they would all turn out like little round cereal bowls with all the handling they have endured!
I will stick with it though because I am anxious to see how this thing will turn out.
Well, that is if I don't get distracted and start sewing something else in the mean time!

Friday, May 01, 2009

More about Paducah...

Are you tired of hearing about Paducah yet? I'm not tired of thinking about it or talking about it, so here is some more information you will hopefully enjoy...
I have permission from Jenny Stratton of Checkers Distributors to post the link to this very interesting review of Paducah...click here. You can read about the Kentucky ice storm which resulted in so many trees being damaged, and the trials of coordinating this huge show. 
One of the things that really tickled me in Paducah was how everything was oriented to women...all the washroom signs were changed from "Men" to "Women" in quite creative ways! 
And at Hancocks, the men weren't even allowed to use the indoor washrooms!!

The AQS website has posted photos of all the prize winners and there are over 60 quilts sporting ribbons! Click here to see them. I loved so many of these quilts that I cannot possibly pick a favorite. I particularly enjoyed the miniature quilts, as well as the exquisite quilting, done both by hand and by machine.  And if you really want to learn all the details of the construction of the grand prize "best of show quilt" made by Mariya Waters - click here.
There were also unbelievable quilts at the Quilt Museum, but I haven't been able to find photos of them on the web, and photographs were not allowed. They had the Best of Show quilts from the last 25 years hanging there, and I have never seen anything like those amazing quilts. I loved a quilt from Sharon Schamber called "Sedona Rose". There is a tiny photo of it on her website - click here.  But the photo doesn't do justice to the beauty of this quilt. It is machine quilted in black thread and the backing was a bright yellow, which showed all the quilting, and there were something like 130,000 crystals glued on to the backing which was a sight to behold!
If you would like to read more from other quilt bloggers who were in Paducah...here are a few to keep you busy: