Saturday, August 17, 2019

Local Quilt Guild Fun!

This month was my local quilt guild's 38th annual show... 
The Bayberry Quilters of Cape Cod.
After my babies flew the nest about five years ago, I joined to broaden my horizons. I had pretty much been quilting in a closet for years, so with new friends, classes, and lectures, an entire new world opened up to me!

Artists always pick nice places to live, and Cape Cod is no exception, so there's a deep pool of talent here. If you have a Facebook account, you can visit the group page (link at the bottom), and they have photographed the ribbon winners--it is all "Viewer's Choice."

 The quilts that didn't win ribbons are as good as the ones that did,
so in this post I am going to share most of the Challenge quilts.
If you are ever stuck for an idea-- enter a challenge-- it really gets the creative juices flowing, and it is beyond fun to then see what everyone else has come up with. 

 This year's show theme was "By The Sea..." the challenge quilts had to be 24" square and rhyme with "sea." Other challenges have been more specific, but it depends on the artist if you find this freeing, or without enough framework! 

So sweet chickadees!

You can read the names on the tags... I like to give credit to the artist, but it's viewers choice, so they don't list the names-- it's a secret. (Unless you blog about making it--LOL) You find out after the voting ends. If you do see yours and would like credit, just comment below and I'd be happy to add it.

 I tried to get pictures of them all, but they were stacked three high in a busy corridor with vendors behind them, so I apologize to those I missed. (We changed show locations this year, and traded square footage for air conditioning.) 

Love this bird-- piecing, quilting... both as free as its name.

 There were three "Bees." All wonderful. 
Love these fabrics. Deb Strain's?

Can't you just feel the love for this pet? THOSE EYES!

Someone is a fearless foundation paper piecer! Usually the sliced up backgrounds are so distracting to me, but this one is cleverly hidden by a lattice and tiny stippled quilting.

I'm pretty sure I know whose this is based on last year's winners! So fun to look at... all the tiny details are awesome. Love Alice and the rabbit... THAT. VELVET. OCTOPUS...

Garden fun. 

This is a really beautiful piece-- love the wave on the shore-- it's almost photographic. Says: "No words can express her contentment as she walk along the beach."

Ditto that.

Here's another bee. A BIG BEE. A beautiful bee!
Unluckily for me, it was right next to Mon Cheri--
like, you couldn't take your eyes off that bee.

Now I said before I didn't get a ribbon when I picked up my quilts.
But one trend I saw in the show was more machine embroidery like this ABC quilt. This is a guild that started off with not a lot of machine embroiderers, so I consider that a win. 

I was congratulating myself for being a good sport, and went on line to see the winners.

 A beach scene won first, not surprising for a Cape Cod quilt show...

The big bee got second... (there's mine next to it)


Apparently, my third place ribbon got separated from the quilt at checkout time! So all's well that ends well for another great show.

Be sure to check out the winners on Facebook-- I heavily photographed the show, but the ones they posted are better. 

Click the words below and give it a minute to load.

In the next post, I am going to show you quilts with machine embroidery-- there's enough of them to get their own category next year, I bet!

And in the meantime, I am just back from World Quilt New England, so there will be more quilty goodness to come when I catch up! Thanks for reading.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sewing Room Forensics...

The summer is flying by for all of us!
We have had gorgeous weather-- not too hot, and nice and dry-- in short, this has been one of our best summers evah, as they say here in Massachusetts!

It is with some pride that we now have a complete collection of eight cross stitch of the month designs, all out ON TIME, and even completed with binding all hand stitched to the back!

We have been trying to use a different color of grunge for each month and so far we have succeeded. It gets harder as the months roll on. That is-- until we found WEBFABRICS.NET. We first discovered them at a booth at Houston Quilt Festival... they had a HUGE selection of fabrics that are in the category of "Background Textures,"-- it's the stuff we love for embroidery-- not a solid, but not too busy to show off gorgeous embroidery. Of course they have a huge selection of grunge--and what do you know? You can buy 1/4 yd. (most sites have 1/2 yd. minimum) for $3.10. So we'll be doing some picking for the four remaining months of the year.

In other studio news, if a detective came into the office right now, he'd note...

"There appears to have been signs of a struggle..."

And "fiber evidence is in abundance..."

Yes, they'd be right on both counts, getting "My Christmas Album" ready for show!

Quilting took about three days... not the ONE I anticipated!

First, I stitched in the ditch around all the blocks, then tightly stitched around each embroidery. I added a 1/8" outline around each.

Next, I quilted tight swirls around each block. It was amazing how this gave a little POOF to the little bodies of the birds and other motifs.... I tried to capture it on camera, but you really need to see it in person. 

The sashings were a little too POOFY after all of that, so I nailed them down with x's in each wreath.

Finally, in the plaid, I decided to stitch a grid in invisible thread. Going around each bow was a real time killer. Everything went really well though-- just took TIME!

 This is a moment that causes extreme anxiety for any quilter-- I don't prewash my fabrics and there was a lot of RED. But soaking and blocking is really essential to getting a pristine finish. I pinned a color catcher sheet  over each embroidery, because I would just be totally disappointed if my dove turned even a little bit pink.

Of course, a piped, scalloped border was the perfect finish. 
(Read: binding took THREE more days.)

So there it is!

I volunteered as much as I could for the show-- most of it was behind the scenes. One of my jobs was to embroider the names of the sponsors on the VIP ribbons...

Now I know you were all rooting for me, 
but neither of my pieces won anything!

It's all good--- it's a tribute to the bench strength of this very talented guild. I'll be sharing some of the quilts later this week and you'll see why I do not feel left out at all!

I have had my mom staying with me this summer-- here we are, enjoying the "Fisherman's Feast for Two" at a local restaurant. 

When I was finishing my quilt, I said to her, 

"You taught me to sew..."

and she said, "Not like THAT, I didn't!"

Wasn't that the sweetest comment? 
But yes, she certainly lit a spark.


Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Endless Summer Sails On!

We have had a rush of one gorgeous day after another!
Although last week a snail was at the top of my post, I have to admit I am getting quite a bit done lately, in spite of the continual distraction outside.

At the top of the list is still "My Christmas Album"... it's entered in my guild show in less that two weeks. I think a full day of quilting and a full day of binding will do it. For quilting, I am trying to do swirls in the background of the blocks, stitch-in-the-ditch, and a grid in the plaid border. I have a competitive edge here-- absolutely none of this quilting will even show. LOL

 I saved some of my test embroidery stitch outs to practice quilting on. (You should, too.) While the swirls were going well, thank God I looked at the back, because little puffs of batting were punching through. It may be because I needed a fresh needle, but there's no way I am muffing this up at this point, so I stopped everything to wait and get some black batting. You can see I picked one of those gorgeous metallic Hoffman Christmas prints for the backing.

In the meantime, I digitized a cute label and sleeve-- it's at the top of the post. I intend to post this as a freebie (for you to finish your quilt) some time this weekend. We do have two more gorgeous days ahead-- maybe I should say Monday morning! If you're on our email list, you won't miss it.

August's Cross Stitch is next on the list! My birthday is this month-- I LOVE AUGUST. My seahorse needs a bit of seaweed, and the missing block is going to have a cute cottage. It will debut as early next week as possible, weather permitting, heehee.

So those are my day job projects-- as you know, my hobby is also embroidery and sewing, so here's a peek at my spare time projects!

Most of us love stitch 'n flip blocks-- I love designing them and our entire Summerhouse Quilts series was full of them.

Right now, I need a guitar.

I sketched this months ago and it's usually so easy to just measure and cut the pieces from a graph paper sketch. Unfortunately, this one is on an angle. As much as I love math, I knew I was getting into the weeds when I started multiplying by the square root of 2. (The mathematicians among us will know why.)

Not only do you get measurements like 3.8796523," but it turns out, I should have been using TWO grid blocks, not ONE for "x," in x times the square root of 2.

Lost you yet?

Suffice it to say, 
my pieces were going to yield one king size guitar!!

To double check the math, I made this tiny ruler on a sticky note... in a perfect moment of inspiration, I realized I could just use my little ruler to measure the size of the pieces-- no calculator required!

I started, very timidly, in the middle, 
and over-sized the pieces just in case...

Well, it turns out the technique worked so well, that any mistakes were caused by too large pieces-- my little ruler was flawless, and I should have completely trusted it!

 So I hope this encourages you to restart some problem quilt--
 if you can use the "little ruler method" or not. And as a metaphor for life, yes, pay attention to the "little things"-- they hold the key!

I now have all the blocks needed to finish this quilt for a "new sheriff in town"... can you tell what state this little guy lives in?

Thanks for reading!
Now get out there and enjoy some sunshine!


Saturday, July 20, 2019

Summer, Glorious Summer!

This is a symbol of how progress is coming this summer! Not only is there a garden, road trips, and beach calling, but there are too many projects going on at once here!

 So beware, this post is LONG and OFF-TOPIC for the most part, but if you quickly scroll down, you may see photos of things that interest you.  We have a set of amazing customers who are more than capable of stitching our designs out faster than we can produce them, so there's been a lot of questions lately on where this or that series stands so this post is for YOU!

Let's start where the last post left off!

If there's one thing at the top of the list, it's the My Christmas Album plaid borders-- so appropriate for July, don't you think!
The conundrum of the upside down bow has been solved with a bow that looks better upside down. This is an amazing, fully embroidered quilt-- right down to the plaid! We are fully stitched, but now we have the tedious process of writing instructions-- look for your borders next week. Lots of you have been following along with this one-- 
thank you for all of the encouragement!

Next, we had a bit of a summer road trip, through New York and New Jersey.

This is a beach town, Ocean Grove, NJ, where four generations of my family have summered over the past century. We try to make it down at least once a summer. After being devastated by Hurricane Sandy, it was nice to see the boardwalk finally refinished-- all in Trex, so no more nasty splinters. I'll skip the story when I was about eight and sat my little bottom down on the very EDGE of the planks to enjoy the beautiful view---


This is Clinton, NJ, where I spent most of my teen years, met my wonderful husband, and we partly raised our son and daughter until the San Francisco Stitch Co. adventure began. If you are driving by, DO NOT MISS IT. They have the mill, an art museum, and a main street with the best local shops.

While standing on the edge of the river (ha-- you see that I am constantly living on the EDGE of things) we watched a little mother duck sweetly trying to herd about 11 little ones out of the current and over to the shore!

And so, the next Cloud Club bird is on the way!

This is going to be a Wood Duck looking at his duckling... of course, the mill will be in the background. So that road trip was worth it, just for that inspiration!

Meanwhile, back home...

You may think that I am now using "A New England Album" as a lap throw on the couch... GOD FORBID... there is too much spilling in this house!

It is now off the wall, washed, and blocked for another adventure, this time at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Mass. Every August, they do a showing of a quilt from each of the local guilds. I was beyond honored to be selected from my guild, The Bayberry Quilters of Cape Cod. Artists always pick nice places to live, and New England is FULL of them, so don't miss this show, if you are anywhere within a couple of hours. A "Viewer's Choice" award will be given, and then that person's guild gets their own entire show at the museum! Of course, I would love to win that for the home team-- so full of talent, so consider voting for my quilt!

This is the last time this quilt will be shown... 
Of course, my husbands laughs because I've said that more than once to him as he helps me take it off the wall.

Speaking of my guild, we are having our OWN show as we do each summer in the beginning of August. It is also well worth the drive. We have 300 talented members, many award winning, and also enough vendors to do some serious damage to your budget. It's on beautiful Cape Cod, in Hyannis, from August 8-10.

Come on Thursday to avoid traffic-- I will be volunteering all day so ask around for me and say hello! The Christmas Album will be finished and on display, knock on wood.

"Mon Cheri" will also be in the Challenge quilt category-- yes, I'VE FINISHED SOMETHING, right down to the label and sleeve! This was mostly an experiment to try lattice-- SUCCESS! and it is with some pride I announce that my hand applique skills have finally arrived! This is also Viewer's Choice, but this time, you're allowed to vote for someone else, (I won with the ship two years ago) and believe me, you will have no problem finding one you like as the guild is TOP FLIGHT.

Now here are some pictures of my garden, another constant source of distraction:

I spend a lot of non-embroidery time there, but it has the benefit of much inspiration! In the last picture, do you see the little snake peeking out from our rock wall? I was SO hoping he would come out... I really love all of God's creatures, except for maybe mosquitoes. Will there be a Snake and Insect BOM? I think not.

And let's finish with more Christmas!
This is my stocking that I started 22 years ago when "Caroline" was born. I pulled it out when I was starting to consider digitizing cross stitch for machine embroidery in January. I've been working on it, snail's pace again, for the past six months, just for a half hour when I drink my tea in the morning. I brought in on the road trip-- do your projects travel with you?

If you ever want a hobby that proceeds more slowly than the lightning fast pace of quilts-- cross stitch IS IT!


Nonetheless, I was pleased to pull out the picture I took in January, and I have made progress.

If you've noticed, cross stitch is having a bit of a revival right now. I noticed the newer designers, for the most part, don't add back stitching anymore.You know, that is after you finish all the crosses, you go back and outline every tiny shape!!

Most people hate it, but it's honestly the best part for me-- you don't have to keep referencing the chart--just stitch around everything!

I'm still not sure if this will be done for Christmas-- it's become a bit of a family joke-- oh, I'd LOVE to prove them all wrong!

Still there?

Thank you so much for your patience and for visiting my little corner of the world...
here's a blog-only reward for you!
Take 25% any purchase through Friday, July 26th, no minimum purchase required-- just use coupon code blather19.

Happy Summer!