Sunday, March 24, 2013

Jenny from the Block...or Blocking by Jenny...or

Blocking is fun..or...Blocks R Us...or...Send in the Blocks...

Can you tell how much I love blocking? Not.

I blocked Autumn at Lost Mountain today. When you quilt a top, even if it was perfectly square before (which has happened, never), it won't be after...that's just a fact of life. For "Show" quilts, the judges expect to see dense, all-over quilting, which is going to make things even more out of whack. The way to remedy that is to wet the quilt (Aaaaugh!) and gently ease everything back in to shape...or in the shape you want it to be.  Some people throw their quilts into the washer, some steam, I've even heard of dry blocking. I do not block every quilt. Only ones that need to hang perfectly straight when they are being judged.

I block in the tub, throwing in some Shout Color Catchers, available at your friendly neighborhood grocery store in the laundry supply department. The tub just seems a little more gentle to me. The Color Catchers pull any excess dye into the catcher (they're like little color magnets!) instead of it going back into your quilt. Ever throw something red in with the whites and end up with everything pink? Color Catchers prevent that. For good measure, I also throw in some Synthrapol. No good reason, since the Synthrapol does the same thing as the Color Catchers.

Looking at this picture makes me dizzy! But can you see some of the green in the water? I washed these fabrics before using them, but there's still some excess dye. I forgot to take a picture of the color catcher to show how green they were (I used three).

I then threw the quilt in the washer on the spin cycle (gentle) to get the excess water out.

Then I laid her out on these styrofoam boards I bought at Home Depot. (You can get them at Lowe's or Ace or any place that sells insulation.)  Some people use the carpet, and I've heard of people using their hardwood floors. This piece was really poofy in the middle, so I smooshed the quilt out from the center. Yes, smooshed is a technical quilting term. True. Look it up if you don't believe me.
Smooshing photos by Al Walton
When I measured the inside border diagonally I got a measurement of 64 and 7/8. But when I measured corner to corner the other way, I got 64 and 3/8! Almost half an inch out of whack! All that smooshing, I bet. So I lifted the wet quilt up and eased in a little bit one way and out a little bit the other and ended up with 64 1/2 both ways. The smooshing and easing took about an hour. Then I got the borders straight, and now she is just drying her heart out. I might be able to get her squared up tomorrow. I leave Tuesday for Asilomar, and it would be great to be have something to work on on the plane.

Margaret from Mainely Quilts of Love also has an excellent tutorial on blocking. Here's another really good step by step tutorial here.  Or just Google how to block a quilt and LOTS of sites will pop up.

"I'm afraid I can't go. I've already taken my bra off, so I'm in for the night."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Paper Piecing Class

I taught a paper piecing class at KiwiQuilts today. Three people came to class. Look what we did!

That may not look like a lot, but when you consider all the cutting that we had to do before we started sewing, it's a lot! I can't wait to see the results - they're off to a great start! This pattern is Indian Summer by Judy Niemeyer.

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Then try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What I did at Quilt Class

On Monday and Tuesday I took a class at Quilting By the Bay. Judy was teaching the wedding ring class, and I just can not have another UFO (Unfinished Object, of which I can see 15 in just this room), so I did an easy project...a table runner. I actually got a lot finished...
This is made with a Brown Sugar Bali first I thought the brown and blue would not look good, but I really like it. What do you think?

Tomorrow I have to gather my materials for my class with Libby Lehman at Asilomar next week, and Friday I have to prepare for my class at KiwiQuilts on Saturday. Never a dull moment!

Before I go to bed...Judy and Dell really loved the quilting that Margaret did on the Feathered Star. And here's a picture with Judy and the quilt!
If at first you don't succeed, try having a drink while you do it. You'll be surprised how much less you care.

Best Weekend Ever!

(This post is out of order. I started it when I came back from North Carolina, but forgot to publish it. This took place the weekend of March 1st.)

I've just come back from a weekend in North Carolina with the African American Quilt Circle of Raleigh-Durham. I haven't said a lot (anything?) about it in case I was an abject failure...didn't want it widely known that I had fallen flat on my face...that would have just been between me and the ladies of Raleigh-Durham. was fabulous! And not so much because of what I did, but because these ladies are so supportive, so warm and welcoming...I had a blast!

Friday I stayed at the home of Kimberley Cartwright, and we went to the opening of their quilt show. My favorite piece featured some of their activities over the past 15 years. I sent Rachel a photo so she could see her place in the guild's history.



And now I'm a part of that history!
I taught a paper piecing class on Saturday. The block I taught was the New York Beauty, and I think the class was a success. Several people said they wanted to do more paper piecing, and I’ve had a lot of requests for the template we used. There were 25 people in the class! Here are some of the blocks completed.

After class on Saturday, I was soooooo tired. I went to Wish Upon a Quilt (great quilt store! Lots of fabulous batiks!), then went to the room and put my feet up until time for dinner. We went to P. F. Chang’s for dinner, then went to a dance show at . It was a wonderful show. Afterwards we went to the room with snacks and wine, and sat up drinking and talking until after 1AM. I thought I would struggle to get up the next day. I took a sleeping pill when I went to bed, and slept solidly, and I was in good shape Sunday morning. Kimbereley said I snored all night long.  Breakfast the next day, then we went to a great store called French Conections. Their sign says they sell French Antiques and African Art.  But it says nothing about the fantastic African print fabric they sell at great prices. Loved this store.
Then it was time to go back and get ready for the 15th anniversary luncheon. When they asked me to be their guest speaker, of course I was flattered, and then reality hit! It was a lot of work getting ready, but I think the presentation went well. My heart was so full from the generosity of spirit of the group that I think anyone would have done a great job. The food was delicious and the celebration was full of heart and soul. I stayed over Sunday night and just crawled in to bed after the luncheon was over. On Monday, I had planned to go to the Botanical Gardens, but I couldn’t get up, so I met Kimberely at the scrap store, then went to Thimble Pleasures, (another great store!) then came on home. It was a great weekend!
Friends are like the walls of a house. Sometimes they hold you up, sometimes you lean on them, but sometimes, it's enough to know they're just standing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Quilting Makes the Quilt!

Here is the flat out GORGEOUS Feathered Star. OMG - quilted by Margaret Gunn at Mainely Quilts of Love. She did an amazing job quilting it, turned it around really quickly, and she was priced reasonably for custom quilting. It turned out so much better than I expected. What a talent! 
The piece is called, "Autumn at Lost Mountain," and was inspired by the changing colors of the Maple Trees at Lost Mountain last Fall (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!).
I have a class with Judy Niemeyer next week at Quilting by the Bay in Florida, and I cannot wait to show the finished quilt to her. I really should block it tomorrow or Friday so I could work on the binding in car on the way down, but that would be too much like right. Besides, I don't want to take a chance on it not being dry and not being able to take it. You will recall that I started this when I went to Judy's retreat in Montana last September, and I know she will be pleased to see the finished result. And you know you're going to see a picture of me and Judy with this quilt when I get back. Just sayin'. 
According to this BMI chart, I am too short.