Monthly Archives: April 2013

morning musings

Hello all, I’m back. Mary Ellen here.

I’ve been doing a lot of stitching lately. I’m getting my samples for my seminar class (Get out of the ditch, class K) ready. Actually I have many samples of the quilting techniques around my house in a variety of projects. Your friend the walking foot is capable of many fun designs, once you free yourself from the “quilt in the ditch” box. I’m making up another set of the placemats we’ll be making in class to use as bases for the quilting. It’s hard to choose which fabrics will photograph well for our website, and to choose the 4 quilting motifs to use that will entice you all to take my class. I’m certain you’ll be pleased with the class if you attend, but I need to get a good teaser prepared to convince you of that. I’m also finding that all of those lovely photos in magazines which show off the quilting to such an advantage are not so easy to achieve. I’ll be bringing samples to our guild meetings as well so you’ll be able to see “the real thing”.

I’ve also been stitching on a Drunkard’s Path variation for a class I’ll be teaching at a local shop. It is amazing to me how much variety in layouts you can achieve with a single block-either by value placement, or some simple rotations and translations of the block. I think it will be great fun to see this block “perform” in the different colors and layouts that the students will be working with. I’m using up a batch of 30’s style fabric scraps I have been hoarding saving. They work so well in this block.

This morning while walking I listened to a recent Pat Sloan/American Patchwork and Quilting (APQ) podcast. It was the podcast celebrating the magazines 20th anniversary. The first issue of the magazine came out in April of 1993, having 30 pages, at a cost of $4.95. The price hasn’t climbed much in 20 years but the size of the magazine sure has. The editors talked about some of the features of the magazine that have changed and others that are still in each issue. If you are a fan of this magazine, you’ll know these features. How about Laura Boehnke’s color variations for each quilt? Laura started as a technical editor there with issue one, and has been there ever since. American Patchwork and Quilting prides itself on careful editing and testing of the patterns, and I’ll say that any pattern I’ve used from the magazine has been error free. That is not something many other magazines can be proud of.

Rotary cutters were relatively new at the inception of the magazine (invented in 1979)-every pattern in APQ came with templates back then. A column called Rotary Magic appeared for a while, touting the advantages of rotary cutting. “Imagine cutting your quilt pieces without tracing a pattern”. Now many of us can’t imagine making a quilt where pattern/template tracing was a requirement!

I’ve been a reader since issue 1 of the magazine. Do you save all of your issues? I used to have them all (like many National Geographic readers do), from issue one up to present, but recently (for our guild auction in January) gave away many of my back issues. There just is a limit to how much shelf space I can give to magazines I don’t look at anymore. I was beginning to worry that my guest room upstairs, where the bookshelves are, would be crashing down to the first floor any time now! I now am keeping just the last 5 years, so each January I’ll be giving away a bundle of back issues. Although I love old quilts and traditional patterns, I decided that I didn’t use the magazines for that sort of resource. APQ is the only magazine where I save the entire issue; for all my others I just tear out whatever article interests me and save those in notebooks. (OK, I’m a little obsessive about that, I’ll admit it.) I haven’t been converted to digital issues of my favorite magazines yet-I like to turn the pages, fold down corners, put issues of several side by side. The whole tactile thing, you know. Are you a reader of quilt magazines on your computer or iPad or whatever? How do you like it?

What is your favorite feature in American Patchwork and Quilting? Or perhaps you don’t like the magazine-what is missing from it in your mind? For me it’s not really about the patterns. I enjoy reading about the designers, the shops, the historical features, and love to see the photos of readers with the quilts they’ve made.

We’re still needing liaisons to some of our neighboring guilds. If you are a member of a local guild in addition to AMQG, and would be willing to share our information, about seminar and all our activities, with the members that guild, please consider volunteering for the position.

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love those hexagons

Hello all, Mary Ellen here again.

I think I’ll share a bit more hexagon love today. Nothing quite as neat as the way hexagons will nest together and provide so much more interestHexactly than some of the other shapes that will nest (tessellate actually). Even Mother Nature loves a hexagon–think snowflakes, honeycomb cells, crystals… There aren’t very many regular shapes that will do this-squares, rectangles, equilateral triangles. There are ways to construct shapes that will nestle nicely–but they aren’t easy to piece as quilts, and it would require a math lesson to talk about those, so I’m not going there.

Here’s a bit more of hexagon math for those who might want to design something of your own using this versatile shape. This is from the Quiltmaker magazine blog: click here.

At the Hexie Love board at Pinterest that Quiltmaker has set up (click here) you’ll find wonderful ideas for hexagons. Remember that in our guild show, we have a separate award for Grandmother’s Flower Garden. I would think that if you are looking for inspiration, and want to shoot for an award at the show, you could find lots of ideas at that board. There are many full size quilt ideas, but also quite a few small scale projects if you’re new to hexagons. Here’s a link to a little bit of history of hexagons used in quilts-goes back to early 1800’s in America. (click here)

Bonnie Hunter, our seminar national teacher for next year is working on an English paper pieced hexagon quilt that many of you will love. (click here) Tiny pieces, lots of scraps–know anyone who likes that concept?

Heading up to the sewing room to applique more purse handles on my quilt top. I’m working on a quilt called High Fashion which is made of stack and slash squares for the bodies of the purses and wonky appliques bias strips for the handles. I think when it comes back from the quilter eventually, I’m going to add some sort of fun embellishments. Or maybe just a different kind of binding/edging. Will hold off on the decision until I see the quilt “done up”.

Have a great gray day. TTFN!

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the latest pre-cut

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Are you a nut for those gorgeous pre-cut bundles that every quilt store puts out to tempt us? I know we could cut them easily enough ourself, but we’d never get the little sample of every fabric in the line without driving some poor salesperson nuts cutting little bits for us. And the ladies behind us in line would be shooting daggers at us with their eyes. So much time is saved when someone else (actually some computerized machine) has done all the cutting for us. And then there are all the beautiful patterns written specifically for pre-cuts…I could go on and on.

It seems, from the ads I’m seeming of late in the newest quilting mags, that a new pre-cut is coming along–pre-cut hexagons. Don’t flinch at the thought of sewing those. They don’t require hand stitching. Here’s a free pattern and a very nice video (click here) of how to make a grandmother’s flower garden quilt from hexagons completely done on the machine. A little marking of your sewing machine’s bed and you’re good to go. Another traditional pattern, ready to be made in modern fabrics, with a modern technique. How cool is that?!

Moda’s got them now, but you know it won’t be long until the other fabric companies come out with their versions. Here’s the video of Moda’s Lissa Alexander talking about them and giving her hints at QuiltCon: click here.

And certainly you needn’t buy the hexagons pre-cut. What a great way to use up scraps–cut them into hexagons! If you own a 60 degree ruler or are proficient at flipping your regular rulers around, you can easily cut perfect hexagons from a folded strip. There are specialty rulers around that are made specifically for cutting hexagons as well. Just be certain where to measure for sizing your hexagons. Sometimes the given size of a hexagon is measured from point to point (ex. the 6″ Moda Honeycombs are measured that way) and sometimes, particularly for the hexagon rulers, they are measured flat side to flat side so you can cut them from strips. If you remember your trig from high school you can make the conversions back and forth! (oh no! some math! yikes!) Here’s a little worksheet to help you get started-now don’t freak out, I’m giving you advance warning. It does look like a math worksheet from your past! hexagon math I can’t help it-it’s second nature to me now!

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some new books

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

It is a beautiful morning here in the neighborhood-truly, not tongue in cheek this time. The canine and I had a great walk in the sunshine, and by the end I had taken off my gloves and hat. (whisper-I think spring is in the air) When we returned home, I took a circle around the garden in the spots that aren’t too squishy wet to see what’s up. It’s time to do some clean up of the parts I can reach from the paths–too early to walk on the beds. Don’t get overly anxious you gardeners out there. It’s not good to pack down the dirt walking on it too soon. Lots of leaves are in the beds from our Snyder trees-no matter how late the last fall raking occurs, more leaves come down after. The daffodils are looking great, the hellebores too. Starting to see bits of green on many of the perennials. Got to thinking of my nana and thought I should bring some forsythia inside to force. She always had branches of things in jars on her windowsills in early spring. She would force them into bloom, and then usually get them to root. They would be returned to the garden to expand the stock! I always think of her when I spot the first shrubs blooming. She had a flowering quince bush the size of a Volkswagen bug that was gorgeous every year. Haven’t seen one like it since.

I ordered some new quilt books for myself and they all arrived this week. Our blog discussions of modern quilting were the inspiration for these titles: 15 minutes of Play by Victoria Wolfe Findlay, Liberated Quiltmaking II by Gwen Marston, Modern Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman, and not so modern Happy Trails:variations on the Classic Drunkard’s Path by Pepper Cory. I think my favorite is Victoria’s book. Her outlook on the process and her love of scraps are transmitted so clearly. She shares her love for her grandmother’s scrappy crazy style quilts that inspires her own style today. I’d love for us to have Victoria at a seminar in the future. I think both traditional and “modern” quilters would enjoy her. Great book for the guild library. I don’t own Gwen’s first Liberated book but I have seen many quilts in its style. Very fun way to work. Jackie G’s seminar class this year is a child of Gwen’s technique. Both of these authors have a tempered disregard for rules that the Quilt Police might want to enforce about the use of color and color placement, precision of points, placement of grain. And that disregard makes for some great quilts. Both authors intersperse reflections on their point of view and creative process throughout the pattern directions.

Surprisingly the 12 patterns in Elizabeth’s book  are noticeably more structured than Victoria and Gwen’s. The piecing is more complex (lots of pieces requiring precision matching, and quite a bit of curved piecing) than her first book introduced. But that is what she was aiming for–the subtitle of her book is “12 quilts to take you beyond the basics”.  I feel the first book (which I also own) was for the young woman, just joining the ranks of quilters, who wanted to make pretty things from fresh fabrics in a somewhat “Pottery Barn” style. Now she has some basic skills and can “take it up a notch”.  Elizabeth does have more construction knowledge than some of  the other modern style designers whose patterns I’ve read.  I don’t always agree with the methods she chooses, but then I seldom follow a pattern the way its written. I notice that some of the newer pattern designers do things in “old school” ways; perhaps after they’ve been at it as long as some of us have, they’ll come to the streamlined methods we have developed over many years of quilting. (That really sounds snooty, doesn’t it?) I do really like Elizabeth’s style and will make a couple of these quilts. The patterns she includes for the pieced backs are as nice as the fronts! They can be quilts on their own, but what fun surprises to turn over your quilt and find some piecing similar to the front. Also great for those times when you have muddy paw prints on the front of the couch quilt and want to give the quilt an Irish wash because company’s coming. (Ask me about my mom’s explanation of that expression.)

Pepper Cory’s book is a reprint of an oldie but goodie. The original copyright date is 1991! I’m getting into the Drunkard’s Path block these days. I have recently come upon a circle ruler from Creative Grids that makes cutting very accurate circles a breeze. The secret to painless(relatively speaking) curved piecing, in my humble opinion, is correct cutting and accurate seaming. Once you’ve got those under control, blocks like the one which is the basis of the Drunkard’s Path are easy to sew. And you have so many layout options, for quilts which look much more complex than they really are, that you can have fun for days coming up with your own designs. These new rulers and gadgets that come out so frequently these days are helping to make blocks, that used to require templates and hand piecing, achievable on the machine.

Have you purchased any new books or patterns lately that you can tell us about? With the price of them so high these days, we should share our opinions. If you’re willing to share some reviews, I’ll archive them here for others to check out before purchasing. I’m off to work on a quilt from a Pam and Nicky Lintott jelly roll book–a mom and daughter team who’ve written several very good books on using precuts. Pretty quilts, well written patterns that you can count on to have no mistakes, which is a rarity!

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this and that again!

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

What a lovely day in the neighborhood! Fortunately I can find plenty to keep me busy up in the craft room. I’ve been working on things to be posted at our guild website soon, all seminar details. We’ve gotten the brochures and bookmarks back from the printer and will be labeling those this weekend. If you attend the guild meeting next week, you’ll receive your copy there. A friend can pick yours up if you’re not able to attend. Those remaining after the meeting will be left at the museum for mailing. Anyone who attended last year’s seminar, but is not a guild member, will also receive a brochure in the mail.

If you’d like to keep up with Pat Sloan’s quilting adventures, have a look at her April newsletter. She’s posted a free scrap buster pattern called Traffic Jam that I really like, and talks about a sew along that she will be starting shortly. Wouldn’t it be great if a few of our members had projects, either finished or not, designed by Pat for us to display during seminar? If you have any, please bring them to our monthly meetings for show and share as well. We’d all enjoy seeing them. (Pat Sloan’s newsletter click here)

I’m working on some fabric origami to be made into quilter’s jewelry for a demo I’m doing next week. I’ve been playing in my batik collection so I don’t have to work about right vs. wrong side of the fabric. Batiks are so classy looking–I certainly don’t want this to turn out to be tacky! This project also gave me an excuse to look around in a different area of the big J store than I usually do. Now when I have an unused 40% off coupon, I have other options for things to buy. Can’t let any of those coupons go to waste! (Am I the only one who does that? I don’t think so!)

I’ve been putting off the run to the grocery store that I need to do today, hoping that the rain would stop so I won’t get soaked loading up the car. I think I’m going to bite the bullet and go get that chore finished. So…TTFN.

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Modern Quilting – lets talk about it again!

Hi everyone,

happy Friday to all! Isn’t just beautiful outside? Morning was sunny but still fresh and crispy and birds seem to be in a specially good mood today – singing with a rhythm given by several woodpeckers! Have to say – it was hard coming back into the house and getting ready for work…:)

OK, back to subject – we talked about modern quilting here before. And we could talk forever about it all, in terms of what it really is, where it comes from, is it really “new” or “modern” and all that…lots and lots of views, opinions and topics for discussion, right? I hope we talk some more too! For me – like in any creative expression or art – there are things that speak to me and there are things that don’t, quilts that move me and quilts that don’t…but here is what I hold the most dear and what I think is really, really important and down right – fabulous: modern quilting movement brings a treasure trove of young women into this creative field we all love so much. Young professionals, mothers with little ones, busy, busy women who are, despite all that willing to sacrifice some sleep to do something creative, to make something beautiful out of pieces of fabric. They are all willing to learn the craft but then do it their own way, embrace tradition but grow their own creative form and in all that contribute to what quilting really is – a the most beautiful and vivid window into women’s life, in  only,ANY time of history.
Now – does that mean that modern quilting (as a group, or movement, or style) is just for young women (and here I mean young by birth date only, of course! 🙂  ) – definitely NOT! Age really has nothing to do with it all, don’t you think? It is all about what we feel  like creating! 🙂

So – why am I talking about all this again? Because I recently found out that there is a Modern Quilt Guild forming right here, in Western NY!

WNY MQG card

So now all of you quilters who feel that this style of quilting is YOU, who maybe want to see if it IS you – you can join and meet all others that want to explore the same! For all that are here on the internet, start by visiting WNY MQG blog:

http://wnymqg.blogspot.com/ 

There you will find what is happening and also a contact email if you would like to know more or join (but more about that later). If you are on Facebook, you can also go visit and “like” WNY MQG page:

https://www.facebook.com/WNYMQG

and there, right under the logo and picture you will find yet another link – for a WNY MQG closed group to join. Now “closed” doesn’t mean at all that you can’t join, it just means that you send a request to join and wait a bit. 🙂 Group originally got “together” through that, so that is why. Of course if you are not on Facebook, all other options are available and will be even more and more, precisely for that reason – not everyone is on Facebook.

So I did all that, and had a chance to “meet” some lovely quilters! (still not in person, just virtually, but that is OK, that will come too). Meeting new friends that share your passions for quilting is always a great thing, no matter how it happens, right?

Of course, several founding members of this MQG would love to spread the word and grow the group to include all that are interested –  hence, I decided to share all this with you and to do sort of an introduction for you all: I asked Rebecca Davison-March, one of the founding members of WNY MQG, to write a little introduction – of herself and the group – for us all, so here you go:

Rebecca, WNYMQG founding member, moved to Western New York from
Brooklyn in 2011.  She returned to her love of sewing now that she had
more space and time to create for her two little princesses.  After
asking the main MQG about whether there was an area guild started she
learned that although many people had inquired about a WNYMQG none had
been started.  It seemed everyone was waiting for it to be done!  A
year later, after Rebecca patiently waited to see if someone else
would start a guild and while she had Princess No. 3, she decided she
couldn’t wait any longer and something had to be done!  In 2012,
WNYMQG was founded and Rebecca (President) was introduced to Karie
(Vice Pres) who is an amazing supporter, is extremely motivated and is
an employee of a local fabric shop, Bernina lover, and passionate
adorer of all things modern fabric.  With only three meetings and a
handful of members so far WNYMQG is just getting off the ground.  We
have a small Executive Board, President/Vice Pres/Treasurer, and our
goal is to generate more membership during the Spring and Summer.  Now
is the time to join us as we build this guild from scratch!  We are
interested in dedicated members and invite people to attend a meeting,
post often on Facebook, join Flickr, and read the blog to decide
whether to officially join.  [Membership will be based on interest in
modern quilting, meeting attendance, and dues payment.]  To learn more
please feel free to contact WNYMQG at wnymqg@gmail.com

Thank you Rebecca for writing this nice introduction and I hope to see all of you interested quilters over at the blog, Facebook group and next meeting! There is nothing better than finding more friends and sharing our love for creation in cloth!

Wishing you all a lovely weekend,

Marija

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back in business

Hello again, Mary Ellen here.

As I strolled around the garden beds this beautiful morning, I enjoyed seeing the daffodils coming up every where. Those are the only bulbs I plant, because I find that my local squirrel population eats any other bulb I put in. I’ve got quite a variety of them-early to late bloomers, singles, doubles, ruffles–whites, yellows, pinks, multi-colors. Many of them are what my grandma used to call narcissus, but now it seems they all get named daffodils. Soon I’ll be having to put the rabbit repellant on the new shoots of the perennials to keep the bunnies from bringing their friends to Mary Ellen’s rabbit salad bar.  The hellebores are unfurling; cutting off the weathered leathery leaves will be a chore soon. I enjoy getting out there in the dirt-I even have my nail girl trained now that when gardening season begins she needs to cut my nails much shorter and really lay on that top coat! Although I am not a “tanner” anymore, the warm sun really feels great on your back after our long cold winters.

Got those taxes done last evening! Phew!-it was close but I’m getting a refund. I was worried that I might be paying this year. I wish I kept my papers for my tax prep as well organized as I do my quilting supplies. I spent about 3 hours yesterday cleaning out my desk and organizing the papers that I had stashed in there to be filed. I often just put papers that I know I should keep for one reason or another on top of the file cabinet, telling myself I will file them in a day or two. (LOL!) Then when it’s the day before the cleaning lady comes, I stick them into my desk, telling myself to file them when I have to go into the desk the next time. Do you know you can just keep telling yourself all sorts of things and never get around to filing those papers!? I did take some time to clean out a few overflowing folders in the file cabinet yesterday. That has given me a bit of space in each drawer so I should be able to slip things into the proper folders with less pushing and squeezing. Hmm…I’ll see how long it takes until my rationalizing gets the better of me again.

I find this unlike my ways with my quilty stuff. Fabric gets put back in color order. At the end of each project fat quarters go into their bins, scraps into their bins, thread onto its stand or into its drawer, patterns back into the envelopes, etc.  Maybe it’s because I spend so much time in the sewing/craft room that I’d be buried if I didn’t keep it in relatively good order. Now as far as dusting the sewing machine and lamps,  and vacuuming that room as often as I should, that’s another story. Do you have any tricks for motivating yourself to keep your supplies (and paper files) in good order? We all know how to do it, the problem is more making ourselves take the time to do it.

Today I’m starting to work on some class outlines for a series of beginner/refresher quilt projects. My concept is to make small projects which teach or review one basic skill, with the option for some of my students to save the pieces to make into a sampler quilt if they prefer that to the series of small projects. This is not a new idea I know. What I am puzzling out is how to structure the classes to be beginner friendly, but also worthwhile for more experienced quilters. In my previous life as a math teacher, I believe the buzz word was “differentiating” the lesson. If you are a relatively new quilter, what skills would you want to learn first? If you are a self taught quilter, what skills would you want to go over? Any thoughts will be appreciated. The fabric for my first project sample is a veggie print-kind of like a tossed salad-with a bunch of coordinating fabrics. I think I was drawn by the fresh produce look on one of those blustery days not too long ago.

Stable

There are quite a few of these clever quilty quotes at the Quiltmaker web page. If you make cards for your quilting friends, you might find just the perfect thing there. Click here.

TTFN. Off to cut into the stash!

 

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