Monday, May 30, 2011

What will I do? Quilt, of course!

For various reasons I resigned from my job at the library. It was just a 10 hour a week job with little pay, but it was really getting in the way of my life. After almost 3 years it was time to call it quits. Someone asked me “What will you do”? I always think this is a funny question. I wake up every morning with a hundred things I would like to do. Aren’t we quilters lucky? We are never bored!

Another question I get and I’m sure you do, too, is “why do you quilt”? I use one of two answers – it keeps me out of trouble or it amuses me.

I’ve been working on various projects this weekend– made a couple more of the churn dash blocks, prepared a few more hexie blocks for appliqué, and stitched some crumb blocks. I have over 70 crumb blocks now. 

I decided I was spending too long digging in my scrap bin so I started organizing the scraps by shape. Some were too big and I’ve been cutting them down to 1 ½”, 2”, and 2 ½” for a scrappy 4 or 9 patch in the future.

I pinned the blocks into groups of ten and here they are in this cute fabric bowl my sister gave me.

I’m using my 4” square ruler to cut the crumb blocks down so they will finish at 3 ½”.

I’m thinking of using a zigzag setting with one of these fabrics. I think I like the turquoise blue the best.

I found the book Quilts An American Legacy by Mimi Dietrich at the library book sale. She takes 12 quilts from the Smithsonian Institutions collection and has her own version with directions.

I really like the quilt on the left and I’m thinking of using these old calicos that I love and have been picking up from chapter yard sales for about $1 a yard. I also have a few of my own and I love how they look with stripes, plaids and polka dots. My husband is doing the burn test on them so I know which ones have polyester in them. I’m separating those out and will probably use them in their own project someday.

I want to spend time this week before the quilt show just soaking in how much fabric I have and how many quilts I can make without purchasing any more. I’m even wondering if I will have much time to shop. In looking over notes from previous volunteer coordinators it looks like I will be very busy.

The lavender is starting to bloom. It’s a couple of weeks early this year. The bumblebees usually come when the lavender blooms. I hope to see them soon.

I don’t expect to post again until next week. We set up the quilt show on Thursday and the show is open Friday to Sunday. I expect to be very tired come Monday, but hope to have some quilts to show you.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Strawberry Time

I went strawberry picking with my husband and daughter on Wednesday. We go almost every year to Butler’s Orchard in Germantown Maryland- the same farm I’ve been going to since I was a little girl. The strawberries are fabulous this year. It was easy picking and look at the size - almost like California berries!

We picked 16 pounds. It took me a few years as a young adult to remember that picking is just the start. Once you get those berries home there is still more work to do! We made jam, froze whole berries for oatmeal (my favorite winter breakfast), sliced and sugared some and ate a lot while we worked.

We also like to eat our strawberries with this dip – mix together 1-32 oz. container vanilla yogurt, 1-3.9 oz. box vanilla or chocolate (we like the chocolate) instant pudding (not cooked, just the powder), and 1 cup mini chocolate chips. Yum!

Fabrics with strawberries on them were among the first I started collecting as a new quilter. I made the blocks in the quilt below a long, long time ago and they sat because I didn’t know what to do with them. The 2005 McLean QU challenge was to represent a favorite recipe in a quilt. So I put the blocks and sashing together and submitted the strawberry dip recipe for this cookbook.

Our challenges are almost always considered complete with just a top. A couple of years later our challenge was to use a technique you’d never used before. So I pulled out the strawberry top and added the borders – both the dogtooth border and scalloped edge were new techniques for me. This time my challenge was a completed quilt.


I think I started saving strawberry fabric because of a childhood memory. When I was about 5 years old I had a shorts set made of feed sack fabric. It was a beautiful cornflower blue with strawberries. My aunt had made it for my cousin and it was handed down to me. I loved it so much I wore it out.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Churn Dash Blocks

This past Sunday was one of those rare days that passed by slowly. I need to figure out how to get more of those days. It does my soul good!

Here is my progress on the churn dash quilt for baby Audrey. I’m very happy with how it is coming along. Am I the only one who likes how a project is looking on the design wall, but not so much when looking at a photo of it? I think I remember hearing that taking a photograph of blocks or looking at them through a reducing lens was a good way to – what – now I can’t remember - something with value? Can anyone enlighten me on this? It never made much sense to me, but maybe I should reconsider.

Beware of this Jo Morton for Andover fabric. Look what it did to this white plastic tub when I presoaked it! I never used to worry about testing for colorfastness, but then I got a front load washing machine that uses much less water to do the job. I ruined a few light colored fabrics and the culprit was a black print. I had heard the warnings about red fabrics, but never black. Since then I presoak my reds and blacks. This is by far the worst bleeder. I had a red once that took over a dozen water changes, but this black fabric released a lot of dye very quickly. I’m noticing some pink stains on the tub, too, and I’m trying to think if this tub was used recently in a way that might make it accept the dye more readily. Can’t think of anything and that water was pretty black. Still like the fabric a lot.

I sent out reminders to over 200 quilters about their volunteering at the upcoming quilt show – June 3-5. I’ve only received a few back saying they can’t do it so I’m feeling pretty good about being ready for the show. I know it is going to be a lot of work and I’ll be in the Dulles Expo Center for most of 4 days, but I’m really looking forward to it - my big volunteer job will be over and I always get super inspired being surrounded by all those quilts and vendors. Did I tell you Eleanor Burns is giving a lecture on June 2nd and teaching classes at the show? As a new quilter I used one of her “Quilt in a Day” patterns (which took me months), but haven’t used any since. I hear she is a lively speaker and teacher.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A New Project

My sister who was just here from California has a granddaughter who will be a year old in October. I’ve been thinking about the quilt I will make her ever since she was born. My goal is always to have it done by their first birthday. I know the nursery is black, white and pink, but I wanted to pull in some other colors. I picked up this floral fabric on my visit to the Manassas quilt shops. I haven't decided definitely how I want to set the churn dash blocks or use the floral fabric. I hope to make some more blocks this weekend. The calendar is pretty free, but you know how that goes. One thing leads to another and the weekend is over before you know it! We’ve had a lot of rain and the garden needs some serious weeding. Hope to do some of that, too. Here are just a few photos I've taken over the past week of flowers in my garden.

Have a good one!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A is for Apron

This past week has flown by. My sister from California is back east for a visit (staying with my parents) and my daughter returned from school. She is still scheduled to go to Japan this summer and leaves in about 3 weeks. We have a lot we want to do before her trip.

I took a break from all the activity yesterday and stayed home. I finished entering over 200 email address of the quilt show volunteers. I have reminders to send out. And, I made this apron-

I wanted something to wear at the show that would hold my money, camera, cell phone and maybe some purchases. There won’t be a safe place for me to put a purse or bags.

Do you think I can limit myself to what can fit in these pockets? They are bigger than they appear and I’ll have 3 days to fill them!

I used a pattern in the book A is for Apron by Nathalie Mornu.

I also finished A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley. This is the third book in a series about young sleuth Flavia de Luce - a light, but entertaining read.

My son’s jazz band concert was Monday night. He is a junior in high school and living near the nations capital offers some neat opportunities. Four members of the Army Blues band also played for us. One of them is the father of one of the school band members and he has worked with them throughout the year. This was their end of year concert and both bands were awesome! Living near the nations capital has some downsides, too – TRAFFIC. There is a 4 hour window during daylight hours when traffic on the beltway isn’t too bad -10AM-2PM. My mom and sister wanted to come to the evening concert so instead of possibly getting stuck in some horrible traffic jam and missing it they came early in the afternoon. We visited Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna and enjoyed some beautiful scenery and wildlife. Thanks to my daughter for taking the photographs.

 A red-winged blackbird posed for us.

Wish I knew what kind of birds these are. I can't see enough of them at this angle to identify them in my field guide to North American birds.
 Love the peonies in May...and the roses--

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Opportunities to Contribute

 This is a signature block (before sig) I made last night and it is on its way to Australia. Linda of Quilts in the Barn asked for blocks for a raffle quilt to benefit breast cancer research.  The quilt will be raffled off at Quilts in the Barn Exhibit in early September. Last year Linda and her friends raised $10,000 for this cause.  Check out her instructions and see if you can make a block by May 18th.

I haven’t made my patriotic pillowcases yet, but Carol of Brown Quilts has put the call out to help a friend in need. These pillowcases will go to service men and woman.

Thanks to Sue and Lori for letting me know about these opportunities.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Humbug Bags

These little bags were my weekend sewing project. I learned about these triangular “humbug bags” about a year ago and picked up the pattern at my local quilt shop. Finally got around to making one and once I got the hang of it, easily made two more.

I have to confess – I am pattern challenged. Don’t listen to me when I complain about a pattern. I was almost done with the large humbug bag late Friday evening and realized I put the zipper in upside down. There was no fudging it and had to rip out and start over. I was actually crying and laughing at the same time. Crying at my stupidity and laughing because I knew I needed to ‘fess up in blogland. I think this is why I tend to look at the pictures in quilt books and magazines, getting ideas here and there and then just doing my own thing. It seems I always make mistakes when trying to follow directions. In this instance, I read and reread the instructions, examined and reexamined the pictures and still didn’t do it right. Urrrgggh!! Oh, well. The other two went together pretty quickly – spent as much time quilting the fabric as making the bag. I strayed from the directions (intentionally) in two ways. I used fusible fleece for the batting and I made the handles with batting and fabric rather than ribbon. I didn’t think the ribbon would be very sturdy.

I was glad to use a recycled zipper on the yellow bag. I have several I picked up at a yard sale years ago.

The pattern I used is a product of Their description says the shape is based on a traditional 19th century English candy, from which the bag takes its name. I had wondered.

It was a beautiful day here on Sunday. Instead of traveling away from Washington, D.C. to take the dogs on a walking trail, we went toward it to Theodore Roosevelt Island.

The bridge to the island

 A view of Washington, D.C. from the bridge

It took about an hour to walk the trail. There were other walkers, but not too many. Planes taking off from National Airport were fairly frequent reminders we were near the city.

This is what the National Park Service pamphlet says about the island. “Memorial dedicated to the 26th U.S. president and conservation advocate preserves 88 acres of swamp, marshland, and forest. A formal plaza has a statue of Roosevelt with quotations from his writings carved in stone”.

Pretty yellow irises grew in the swampy area. I don't know if they are native to the area.

A view of Rosslyn, Virginia

Here are crumb blocks stitched on my featherweight. The featherweight is sitting on my dining room table with my container of scraps. It is very convenient to sit down and sew a few seams when I’m waiting for the water to boil for tea or dinner is on the stove.
Yes, I had to pry Len’s mouth open to retrieve that little block in the lower left corner. No harm done – just a little doggie slobber ;o)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Shooflies from France

A couple weeks ago Bea started a Contemporary Jane quilt and mentioned on her blog that she needed more Kaffe Fassett fabrics. I have a few and I told her I'd share with her. She asked me what I wanted in return and I said a few shoofly blocks. I fell in love with this block while making the quilt for Japan and thought it would be fun to include in my sampler quilt. Look what she sent me! Such delights! They are 3 1/2" and such perfect piecing! I said a few and she sent me 15! And she says there is another envelope coming. What a sweetie!  She also sent some beautiful Sophie Campbell fabric. In her note, Bea introduced me to  Sophie Campbell, an american quilter and pioneer for french quilting. She taught quilting in France, wrote a book and designed fabric. You can read more about quilting in France here. I googled Sophie Campbell and didn't find much, but check out this sampler quilt on the home page of France Patchwork.

What a treat! Thank you so much Bea!

Hope you all have a wonderful mother's day, whether it is celebrating as a mother, with your mother or commemorating your mother, I hope it is a special one.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Farmers Market and Linen Closet Finds

I went to the farmers market today. This is one of my favorite things to do from May to October. We have several in the county during these months and there are 3 that are fairly close to me - 2 in Annandale and 1 in Burke.  My purchases today included organic salad mix and strawberries from Hanover, Virginia. The farmer said his strawberries were ready 3 weeks earlier than last year. I don't remember where the apples and onions came from. I know the apples were stored over the winter, but they have only a few blemishes and the samples were still crisp and juicy. The wildflower honey came from Providence Forge, Virginia.

Today I visited the market in Mason District Park in Annandale.

I tend to over purchase, but I did well today. I kept reminding myself I will visit the Burke market on Saturday morning.

I found the quilt in the first photo in my linen close several years ago. I asked my mom about it and all we could figure was that I got it from cleaning a rental house in the early 1980's. My dad was a real estate agent and managed rental houses as a second career and I would sometimes do some cleaning to earn extra cash.

Then, last winter I found another quilt in my linen closet! They must be breeding in there! I really don't know what the deal is. I can see forgetting about where I got one quilt, but two?

Here are some details of the individual fabrics in the second quilt. Even though it has some serious fading issues it is in better shape than the first quilt.

 Love the geometrics
 great red and yellow paisley
 center patch is some sort of scroll and crown - click on any photo for a better view
 not sure what happened here, some of these patches aren't square
 this blue fabric reminds me of skyscrapers, not sure if that was the intent

 same fabric - one faded, the other not so much

 love the checks, plaids and dots
 too bad Dumbo is on the faded end

If you are like me and tend to have a bad memory I recommend you clean out your linen closet!