Friday, May 26, 2017

Bridge of Flowers - Shelburne Falls

On Wednesday, I went on a quilt adventure with my friend Edith who wanted to visit Quilts & Treasures, Inc. in East Longmeadow, MA.  It was a cute little shop in a very pretty part of our state. After a stop for lunch, we headed on to A Notion to Quilt in Shelburne , MA. Sad to say, this wonderful shop will be closing its doors this summer. According to a notice on the website, the building is being sold and the owners who are getting up in years have decided to retire. It's troubling how many quilt shops have closed in the last few years.

Our final stop was down the road at the Shelburne Falls Bridge of Flowers. The 400 foot bridge spans the Deerfield River and connects Shelburne Falls and Buckland. It's a lovely destination for a day trip. Here are some photos taken with my iPhone.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Productive Quilty Weekend

Overnight, a few of my irises bloomed. In between today's raindrops, I was able to capture this image with my 'real' camera. 

As mentioned in my last post, I was able to get quite a bit done over the course of Friday and Saturday. One of the ladies in the Crosstown Quilters coordinates making and delivering breast cancer comfort pillows to our local cancer center.  Being a blessed ten year breast cancer survivor myself, I am happy to periodically donate pillows. There are five this time.

This little preemie quilt will be donated to Floating Hospital for Children. I loved this bright, colorful little panel but moved the bottom row of the design to the top of the piece. After all, the king of the jungle wearing his crown should be at the top. Borders were added to make the quilt 24x24 which is the size requested.

Another member of our guild collects small quilts and pillowcases for the children of soldiers being deployed. She and the other members of her group do wonderful work, and so, these Star War pillowcases will be headed her way. 

Finally, this pink candle mat is for me and the Red Sox mat is for my neighbor. The pattern for these  "Simple Pleasures: Candle Cradles" is available from "The Teacher's Pet." These candle mats coupled with a battery operated candles make cute, quick gifts.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Shots in My Garden

Here are just a few quick photos from my garden this Sunday.  I spent Friday and Saturday quilting with friends, and I am happy to say that I was pretty productive.  I'll show some photos of what I accomplished in my next post.

The columbine and poppies have burst into bloom.

This evening I watched two of my little cousins take part in a track meet.  It was a beautiful night and I was very impressed at how well organized the event was.  Both girls, ages 11 and 8, did very well.

On Saturday morning I went to a plant sale run by our local garden club and am now eager to start working in my garden, however Mother Nature will be sending a bit of rain our way tomorrow, so I'll likely spend a bit more time quilting.  Have a wonderful week.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Raggedy Ann and Andy Quilt

The Crosstown Quilters Guild recently held a well-attended charity workshop. I was not able to stay as long as I would have liked, but I did take home some coordinated Raggedy Ann and Andy fabric which had been donated. I added a bit of fabric from my stash and was able to make a quilt and two pillowcases which I will turn in at our next meeting. It's a happy, cheery quilt which will hopefully put a smile on some child's face. :-)

In case you are wondering, the pattern for this simple child's quilt calls for five - 6.5 " strips, four - 3.5" strips, and eight - 1.5 inch strips. All strips are cut WOF (width of fabric).

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Spot of Color on a Gray Day - African Violets

While food shopping recently, this gorgeous African Violet caught my eye. Of course, it came home with me. My father's sister Alice was a gardener, a cook, and a lover of African Violets. She had a two-shelf white iron flower cart which was filled with African Violets in her dining room. When we were young, my aunt would allow my brother and me at the florist to pick out new violets to add to her collection. I guess that stayed with me as I also have a few African Violets in my home
. . . nothing crazy . . . just nine or so. When they are not blooming, they reside in my sewing room. Once they begin blooming, I move them to a table in the living room to enjoy them. Here are the rest of the ones in bloom right now. This top one has been in bloom for a couple of months.

I'll bring this one downstairs soon. Luckily, there always seems to be a few in bloom.

My African Violets seem to thrive on somewhat benign neglect. When I remove water from my fish tanks, I add it to my watering can with a pinch of "Jack's Classic Blossom Booster 10-30-20." They do get good diffused light for most of the day. I try to remember to water them on Sunday mornings after church, but sometimes that doesn't happen and it could be ten days or so before I get around to doing it. (I don't recommend that.) I water them from the bottom and let them drain well. They seem to take it all in stride.

One last photo from last week's visit to Jenny Pond, this little guy seems to be giving me the eye.

He was busy preening but paused long enough for this quick shot.

Exciting news!!! Harvey Leonard, Channel 5's crack weatherman just said that the sun will make a return tomorrow. O Frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Visit to Jenny Pond in Plymouth, MA

It was such a beautiful day that I called a friend and we headed to the Lobster Hut in Plymouth for lunch. Then we stopped by Jenny Pond where I was struck by this lovely reflection. 

I didn't even notice the cool pattern reflections until I viewed this image on my laptop.

It's definitely worth clicking on this mallard  to see the incredible detail in this handsome guy's portrait.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Steady As They Go - Follow Up

This morning, I am happy to say, I presented a well received Quilting 101 at the Crosstown Quilters Guild; the topic was how I transform my photos into art quilts. (In this guild, members often present mini quilt lessons or Quilting 101s. For example, last month a member shared her passion for scrap quilts and offered suggestions on storage and how to use all of those precious scraps. )

There were questions this morning about my latest piece which I promised I would answer in this post. "Steady As They Go" hangs very straight and flat. In January, our guest speaker at the guild was Nina Hunt whose topic was "Color to Impress, Design to Delight." After her talk, I asked her how she got her quilts to be so straight and perfect. She told me that she applied a piece of deco bond stabilizer to the back of the top, and so I did this with my latest piece. Next, I used a layer of Dream Fusion batting. At this point, I did all of my quilting. I stitched down each and every element on the top with a tiny zigzag stitch in a corresponding thread color. Later, I applied a false back to hide that stitching. I attached the false back by simply stitching in the ditch some of the larger seam lines.

I liked the addition of the deco bond stabilizer and would use it again in certain pieces. I would not use it if for example I was doing a flower piece as I would want that piece to be, technical term here . . . .  more puffy. :-) On second thought, perhaps I would quilt the top with the batting and then add a layer of deco bond. . . something to consider.

My next big decision was how to finish the quilt; add a frame, face it, or use a simple binding? I went with a simple binding using a light grey to charcoal ombre which I carefully pieced to place the dark charcoal along the bottom and gradually becoming lighter as it came up the sides and across the top.

Here's the label on the back of the quilt.  I discovered a new $.99 ap called PicFrame for your iPhone or iPad which allows you to make collages.  I selected a three part frame. On the bottom, I put a honeymoon photo from 1945; beside it I placed the photo that was the basis for this piece. Across the top, I placed four labels with pertinent info. Again, this ap is super simple to use. I emailed it to myself and printed out a 5x7" label on Jacquard Inkjet Printing Cotton. I have tried various brands of photo printing materials, and I find this brand to be by far the best. I had tested various products when I was starting my crazy quilt piece, Simpler Times - Photos from My Grandmother's Album.

I think that answers the questions, but if not, you may leave any questions in the comment section.

Now, about the pink tulip photo above. This just may be my next 'photo' quilt.  This sole, pretty little tulip was swaying in the wind Sunday when I grabbed a quick shot with my iPhone. I'll document my progress here.

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Steady As They Go

As mentioned in an earlier post, I was captivated by a quick photo taken by my friend of her parents while out shopping. They have been married for over seventy years. Her mom uses a cane, but her dad steadies himself by holding on to her pocketbook strap. There was just something so endearing about that photo that it made me smile and ask permission to turn it into an art quilt. The finished piece measures eighteen by twenty-four.

I'm glad it is completed as I have been asked to do a short talk later this week at my guild explaining my process of turning a photo into an art quilt. My process is always evolving, and I did a few things a bit differently in this piece than in previous ones. In my next post, I'll discuss some of those things and talk about an app that was new to me which made it super simple to create the perfect label for this piece.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Quilt for a Veteran

I am happy to report that I finally finished this quilt for a veteran. The pattern was Jennie Dolan's "Half Square Triangles Around the World Quilt".  This Missouri Star Quilting tutorial on YouTube can be found here. Actually, the top had been done for about a year, but I had not got around to quilting it until last week. I do tend to procrastinate and take on way too many projects. :-)

It was a lovely day on Saturday when my cousin Freddie received his first Holy Communion. He looked quite proud and handsome in his grey three-piece suit, and there was a fun party later to celebrate. Yesterday, two of my other little cousins were in a wonderful dance recital. I may be just a tad prejudiced, but I thought they were two of the cutest, most talented dancers. In truth, for each number the stage was filled with happy, confident, young dancers. The littlest ones were beyond adorable.

 As I mentioned in a previous post, I enjoy Anna's videos from her Woolie Mammoth blog. She sometimes posts videos of her visits to quilt shops while on her RV travels with her husband and dog Enzo and encourages viewers to contact the quilt shop if interested in anything seen in the video.  Well, I did just that after watching her visit to The Old World Quilt Shoppe in Cave Creek, Arizona. What a delightful shop! In today's mail I received these two kits that had caught my eye. The kits are a combination of both fabric and wool.

Here's a better look at Bless This House; isn't it cute! For now, I'll tuck these away in my wool projects drawer. Either would be a fun project to take along on a quilting retreat.

Finally, this blog is all about quilting, crafting, fun, photography, life, etc., and I for the most part  avoid any political comments. But, since this is my journal, I'd like to comment on our President's recent Reuters interview.

I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. This is more 
work than my previous life. I thought it would be easier.

He thought it would be easier . . . leader of one of the most powerful nations on earth . . . commander-in-chief of the mightiest fighting force in the free world  . . . He thought it would be easier. Later, the President stated he would be "honored" to meet with various brutal dictators who are universally condemned for their human rights violations. Still later, he praised President Andrew Jackson whom he greatly admires. He spoke of how upset Jackson was about the Civil War, and he wondered why the problems that led to that war could not have been resolved.  . . . Andrew Jackson died sixteen years before the Civil War.

All this in one weekend.
God help us, bless us, and keep us safe!!! End of commentary . . . 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Few Moments of Sunshine

The last three days have been wet, chilly, and definitely 'un-springlike."  So, when the sun made a brief appearance this afternoon, I took a quick shot of these grape hyacinths which have begun to naturalize in my backyard. The daffodils have been beautiful, but now most are mud splattered and wilted from the rain. If you are new to my blog, I think you would really enjoy reading the backstory of these daffodils, Full Circle, which I originally posted in 2011. It's a great story,  and if it hadn't happened to me, I might not believe it myself!!!

On the quilting front, today I finished all the quilting for my new art quilt based on a photo of my friend's parents. There were a few spots that still needed a bit of work, and then I attached a false back. Now I just need to get the right shade of fabric for the binding. I had considered doing a facing but felt this piece called for a regular binding. I'm also sewing down the binding on a patriotic  quilt for a veteran. This quilt will be ready to turn in at the next guild meeting of the Crosstown Quilters.

On another quilting note, I have added two new blogs to the side bar. I follow both of these blogs and love them . . . they are always day brighteners as both of these bloggers are positive, enthusiastic, happy, talented ladies - my kind of people!!! Bonnie Hunter of (Quiltville's Quips & Snips) is a rock star in the quilting world; sometimes I get tired just reading about all that she does! She is extremely generous with patterns, tips, and tutorials posted on her website. She teaches at guilds all over and posts about her adventures. She shares her fondness for antiques and if you love scrap quilting, she is definitely your lady. Anna at Woolie Mammoth offers wool and quilt tutorials and videos of her RV travels with her husband and faithful dog, Enzo. I particularly enjoy her videos of quilt shops that she visits. Quilter or not, check out both of these blogs, but be careful as you might just become hooked.

Friday, April 21, 2017

In the Nick of Time . . .

When I'm in the middle of working on a piece, I get a tiny bit obsessed. As noted in my previous post, I had completed the background and the figure of my friend's mother on Saturday. I had a lovely Sunday Easter afternoon at the home of my cousin's mother-in-law. That evening upon returning home I intended to spend a bit of time working on the other figure in the piece. That 'bit of time' ended up being about three hours. Did I mention that I get obsessed with a project? Anyway, toward midnight, I thought that I had everything in place the way that I wanted it, all set to be quilted. That is. . . until the light of the next morning when I took a closer look. Can you see the problem? The background seam showed through the slacks; in person it was even more noticeable. I caught it just in the nick of time before layering the piece.What was a poor quilter to do??? Having spent a fair amount of time on the slacks, belt, pockets, sneakers, etc. I didn't want to start completely over, so I came up with a solution.  I made a slightly smaller pair of the pants and then ever so gently and carefully lifted up the fused down slacks to just below the belt. Next, I slid the new 'pantaloons" under the slacks. It worked! No seam line . . . Whew!

FYI - Misty Fuse is my fusible of choice, and I really like to use this Fiskars Fingertip Rotary Cutter for small, intricate pieces.

On Wednesday, my cousin Kristin came with her girls for a visit. We went to lunch, checked out the herring run, made colorful bead bracelets, and had our first ice cream cone of the season at Hornstra Farm in Norwell. Fifteen minutes after I kissed them goodbye, a friend picked me up as we were heading to a restaurant to celebrate another friend's 60th birthday. It was a very, very fun, full day. On Thursday, I met another group of friends for a lovely lunch before heading off to my flute lesson. By the time I returned home, I was exhausted. :-) :-)

Today my friend Laurel came to quilt and I accomplished two things. I put the finishing touches on my latest piece which is now layered and ready to quilt. I also stitched the last three pieces of another block from Yoko Saito's Floral Bouquet Quilts.  This piece in the book had sixty-five pieces, but since I'm reducing the size of the blocks, I opted to eliminate a few. My block has a mere forty-seven pieces. :-)

Have a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Pansy Power and Work in Progress

Don't you just love the smiling, happy faces of pansies? It wouldn't be spring without them. At the garden center yesterday, I picked up a large pot of pansies to bring as a hostess gift tomorrow. As I was placing it in the car, I suddenly stopped and asked myself why I hadn't picked up a pot for myself. I turned right around and bought one for me, too! Pansies rule!

I spent most of today working on my new project.  As you can see, I use an x-acto knife to cut out the pattern piece on which I am working. For example, here I have divided and labeled this shirt in three pieces.

Next,  I audition fabric pieces by slipping them under the section that I have temporarily removed. I like to use batik fabrics whenever possible since the cut edges don't ravel and you can make use of the shadings on the fabric.  I usually cut a larger piece of the selected fabric and put misty fuse on the back. The leftover pieces of fused fabric I keep in a box for future projects.

When the main pattern pieces are cut out, I move them to a flannel covered board.

At this point, I am only interested in preparing these large pieces. The photo that I used did not reveal much background detail, so it took quite some time to come up with this design. 

Then it's time to begin adding some of the other parts. Here's a peek at part of the piece so far. At this point, the figure on the left has been fused down, and I'm pleased with how it looks. 

On another note; congratulations to April the Giraffe on the birth of her son. I may be sticking my neck out, but I bet no other giraffe in history has ever received this much media attention. It has been suggested that millions have been watching the live streaming videos in anticipation of the birth. Perhaps in this crazy world of ours, it says something positive about the desire to follow this sweet story.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Beginning a New Art Quilt

I'll talk about the new piece in just a moment, but first let me offer a book recommendation, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. Now, I am not truly a mystery fan, but this book had finally made it to the top of the pile on my bedside table, and I'm glad that it did. What a good read!!! The story is set in a small village in England during the 1950s, and the protagonist is one Flavia de Luce. Now, I won't give you any hints about the main character or the story other than to say that after the first few pages you will be absolutely hooked. Flavia is perhaps the most memorable character that I have come across in many years. Even if you never take any of my recommendations, do yourself a favor and check out this mystery.

Also, if you are looking for something fun to read, you might enjoy Tom Bergeron's I'm Hosting as Fast as I Can!: Zen and the Art of Staying Sane in Hollywood. In this memoir, the author recounts how he got into the crazy entertainment business from his early years as a TV and radio personality on Boston's WBZ Radio and Television station to his current hosting spot on "Dancing with the Stars." With his quick wit and charm, he is the perfect host to corral the bedazzled, spray tanned "celebrity" dancers. It's a quick, light, fun read.

Now on to my project. At lunch with friends a few weeks ago, my friend Kathy shared a photo that she had taken of her parents while shopping. I was so captivated by the photo that I asked if I could use it as the basis of an art quilt.  Her parents have been married seventy-two plus years.  Her mom uses a cane, but since her dad doesn't want to use one, he just holds on to the strap of her pocketbook. 

I started by printing out an eight by ten enlargement of the photo and then taped a sheet of clear plastic down upon it. Using an ultra fine marker, I carefully traced around the edges and various shadow areas.

Next, I brought the plastic sheet to Staples to have an eighteen by twenty-four inch enlargement. This will be my master sheet.

 The next step will be to make a working copy of the pattern out of freezer paper that I can then cut apart as I am building the piece. You might be wondering why I don't have two copies printed at the same time, but I find that the freezer paper pattern will hold up better.For now, I'm trying to decide how I will build the background for this piece. 

In case I don't post in the next few days, I wish all who celebrate it, a very Happy Easter.