Quilt Block Exchanges & CompuServe

I have been thinking about quilt block exchanges, which used to be a very popular activity for quilters. My friend Louann reminded me of the Christmas one I ran in Evergreen Colorado and ever since I have been looking for it! It’s somewhere but I don’t know where.

Flash back to 1990’s. I was weaving and spinning and dyeing. When my DH Peter informed me that we were moving to Singapore, I realized that big floor looms were not going to be reasonable items to move around the world. So oh gee, I started to learn how to quilt. I was so lucky that  Karen Buckley lived nearby and I took a lot of classes with her. And bought a lot of books. And began a subscription to the now defunct Quilters Newsletter Magazine. And collected all the supplies I felt I needed and in 1993 we moved to a small apartment on the 21st floor.

Before we left for Asia, Peter showed me the CompuServe Forums on our computer. I was not much interested or impressed. It took quite awhile to upload and I didn’t see the need for the content. Flash back to Singapore! There I was all alone and I realized that CompuServe was just the ticket! I joined the quilting group and it was wonderful. We were from all over – the U.S., expats like me in various countries and “real” foreign quilters. Paying for dial-up was very expensive for us and in China we had to apply for a license to even have a computer. It was such a treat to take my morning coffee to the computer after Peter left for work and download the forums. During the day I would read and reply to them and upload them at night. Most parts of Asia are 12 hours ahead of the U.S. so it worked out well.

The quilting group was full of organizer types and someone came up with the idea of a block exchange. The first one I participated in was Christmas blocks. There were two groups – one which made 12.5″ blocks and the one I chose, which made 6.5″ blocks. (And it was so much fun, that I did it for two years.) Though the rules can vary, generally each person makes a certain number of blocks, sends them to the organizer who divides them all up and returns them to each participant. So for instance, I made 12 blocks (plus one for me which I kept), sent them to the organizer nad she sent back 12 new blocks. It’s sort of like a birthday gift. I must say that the blocks varied in quality and if you were buddies with the organizer, you could persuade her to send you the “good ones”! After receiving the squares and choosing the ones I wanted, it was great fun to try to put them together to make a nice design.

The next exchange I participated in was called “Near and Far”. Each person was supposed to make a block (12.5″) that represented where they lived and had to include some green and white fabric. This is one of my favorite quilts as it reminds me of all the fun ladies I “knew” for a time. And even without knowing the people involved, I am sure you can tell where they lived at that moment in time. We did it two years in a row.

For the first year I made Singapore Island maps.The fish are stamped and the island is pieced and then hand appliqued.

The next year we lived in Shanghai and I appliqued a flower that looked like some cut paper pictures that I’d bought.

In Tokyo, I organized a quilt block exchange and it did not go well. When we lived there, somehow a group of Japanese quilters tracked me down. We got together often so that I could teach them what I knew. They thought the quilt block exchange was a fun idea and were eager to participate. Somehow, despite having a good Japanese friend who very carefully translated, the ladies did not understand. This was a Japanese American exchange, with the theme being flowers and I co-opted some of my American quilting friends. Each American quilter dutifully made and sent me 6 squares.  From the Japanese ladies I collected one, or two or three squares…. What a mess! The Japanese ladies were still confused but pleased to have a few squares and the American quilters were annoyed to have a few squares. I still have done nothing with the few I kept and mine is not among them. I made a lot of my design to compensate for the lack of Japanese ones and I can’t find any. There are some real beauties in this bunch.

Peter and I were talking about CompuServe recently, and he reminded me that CompuServe was not “the Internet”! I’d forgotten that detail. It was such a wonderful spot for me and the women I “met” online were so helpful and supportive. Here is an interesting article to remind you of how great CompuServe was.

Have any of you done quilt block exchanges? Or were you pioneers on CompuServe? Any interest in a quilt block exchange?

Nick is Home for Christmas!

Nick has spent the last year at Island Quilters located on Hilton Head Island. He evidently traveled with Owner Beth to several quilt shows and talks, though he hasn’t said much about that. I must thank Beth for giving me the pattern and many of the supplies. Fusing is not my favorite thing to do, but he was fun to make.

After lots of measuring and engineering, Peter got Nick hung in the great room! It is so fun to come into the room and see his funny self. I’m not sure the reason, but this is the first time we have ever hung a quilt over the fireplace. Next year I have several quilts that can rotate in this area.

Let the celebrations begin!

Hand Piecing Workshops!

Although I’ve been quiet on a daily dose, I’ve been working! It’s been a year full of deadlines for classes and workshops. All things that I wanted to do, but it’s kept me very, very busy.

I finally got myself in gear and offered two Summer workshops at Greenville Center for Creative Arts, where I volunteer. Much to my delight, I got enough students to run the class! I wasn’t at all sure – at present, most of the classes are of the fine art variety and who knew if anyone would be interested in making quilts.

The first workshop I offered was Hand Pieced Quilts – Grandmother’s Flower Garden. This will be no surprise to any of you who have been followers for a while – I love to sew hexies! I had a lot of samples and ideas and it was perhaps a bit much for the five women who hadn’t had much exposure to the world of quilting.

Olivia was a very enthusiastic sewer. She told us that she sewed a lot and enjoyed making dolls to sell. I am confident that she will get a throw made with the speed that she sews.

Sarah designed a very striking flower, didn’t she? It is fun to see how people put together fabrics.

The second workshop was Hand Pieced Quilts: 60 degree diamonds (or tumbling blocks or baby blocks). I have offered this before and wasn’t very enthusiastic about it. Though I like baby blocks, I’ve never enjoyed sewing them.

As I prepared for the class, I perused Pinterest and was reminded that a setting for 60 degree diamonds is called the Seven Sisters pattern. I noodled around with that and discovered that I really liked this version! (Perhaps because it makes a giant hexagon….)

Here is a starry, blocky setting for the diamonds. I like this variation as well.

Just about everything needed is included in my workshops. When working with new sewers, I don’t want them to have to run around and buy a lot of supplies. The quilt patterns I am offering are traditionally scrap quilts and goodness knows that I have a lot of fabrics! It’s been fun sharing my stash and seeing others incorporate the fabric in their own work.

I am very fond of holiday themed quilts so I was delighted to see that Shawn brought a Halloween selection to make baby blocks.

It’s been interesting to offer quilt classes to novices. In the past, I have taught in quilt stores and generally my students have had some sort of experience or exposure to quilting. Most of my students at the Art Center were very, very new! In the Grandmother’s Flower Garden class, I presented way too much material and I am learning to scale back what I initially present and see where the students want to go.

Next up; workshops that I hope to offer this Winter. ;-D

My Design Wall is Full!

Here is what my design wall looks like today! There is a lot going on…

The right hand side has to do with my two upcoming workshops at Greenville Center for Creative Arts. The first, covering hexies and Grandmother’s Flower Garden is on Saturday. Six pointed stars is in July. Click here to get more info.

At the top right, you can see a quilt emerging, made up of (hand pieced) half hexagons. There are many ways to sew them together, but this is by far my favorite. It’s such a strong graphic design. The two plain colored areas in each block are my hand dyed fabrics and I have them strewn all over the floor as I pick them out.

The black stars in the middle are six pointed stars hand pieced in a Seven Sister sort of design. Below them is a pattern, first published in Godey’s Ladies Book in the mid 1800’s, called bricks. It is also a 60 degree diamond, but the “sides” of the brick shape are elongated.

The left hand side of the board is devoted to a deconstructed lone star. Using Moda precut fabrics, I have cut out stacks of 2.5″ x 5.5″ fabrics to sew on a Quiltsmart base. I hope to be giving a talk about how to make this amazing design at Island Quilters this Fall. Lots more coming about this project!

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A Hand Quilt Along Goodbye…

… from me… My big handwork time of year is over and now the outdoors is calling to me. Time to weed and plant and dye and make the outside beautiful. I do intend to finish quilting that quilt, and when I do, I will let you know!

I do have some hand quilting for you to admire. My friend Louann (The Finisher!) has completed this lovely Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt that she began piecing some years ago. She started it when a friend taught us how to do English Paper Piecing, and she’s been hand quilting it on and off. Isn’t it lovely?

 

Happy Stitching ladies!

This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

KathyLoriMargaretKerryEmmaTracyDebConnieDeborah,  Susan, JessiscaSherryNanetteSassyEdith, and Sharon


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The Twin Bed Quilt

It has been some time since I did any machine quilting and the pile of tops hasn’t decreased. Yesterday I cleaned and oiled my Sweet 16, and Pfaff machine and added some “tattoo” decals from Urban Elementz for fun. I spend a lot of time in my studio on these machines and the tattoos tickle me!

Then I went to the unfinished quilt top cupboard and pulled out a twin bed quilt top. The (kids’) guest room quilt has been on the to do list for some time, to replace this Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt which really wasn’t meant as a bed quilt. Perhaps you can tell that I think of it this as a girl’s room…

Balsam Road Beauties

This top was finished some time ago, though I don’t think I posted about it being completed. It was in 2014, I am ashamed to say! I called the pattern structure, framed log cabin, though I will need to come up with a better name when it’s done. And now I am ready to quilt it. I consider it “cheating” to put a top on a bed before it’s been quilted, but it’s the easiest way to photograph it.

Framed Log Cabin

The inspiration for this quilt design was this cute floral print that I bought on a trip to Paducah. It was one of those times when I saw the fabric and I loved it so much, I had to stand there and think of a quilt to make with it. (Do you ever do that?) A log cabin with these small flowers at the centers was what I came up with.

Estrella by Vallori Wells

And look at the coordinating fabric for the back! I’m not sure which side I will like better.

The quilt measures about 66″ x 89″and though large, is manageable. How to quilt a top is always my dilemma… As I pin the layers together today, I’m mulling over ideas…

 

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HQAL – What’s Going On At My House?

Three weeks have passed again. I already mentioned that the cats made it difficult for me to quilt. I said that I would get lots accomplished during The Super Bowl, which I did not! Between the game being a good one and the fun commercials to watch and all the food and drink that Peter was plying me with, I didn’t put in a stitch. Now we’re up to the Olympics and I am not doing much either. Too much skating and speed skating to watch…And we have been busy during the day.

I am still quilting the third center quarter.

What I have been doing? Painting! We’ve been living with this dreadful color in the guest room for four years. It’s like a cave – a vampire’s cave. I like red, but this is a black red and nothing goes with it. Even my favorite red and white quilt is swallowed up in the darkness of it.

You can see that there was a large desk built in the nook area. Without the desk it will be a nice sitting area.

The desk is gone – Peter ripped it out! Then we painted the whole room with a primer so that I could “see” to audition paint colors. Over the years I have tried many colors. There were paint chips taped all over the room.

When I went to Sherwin Williams the other day to get some paint on sale, I looked at their color wall again. I wanted an interesting neutral. I came home with two more samples and fell in love with one. Look at this paint!

That is what I call an interesting color! SW6547 Silver Peony.

We call it Helio. Years ago, I bought a blouse and the color in the catalog said helio. I looked it up in the dictionary and it said helio is the color when the sun has set; it’s a pinky purple-ish blue. Very peaceful and it changes as the light in the room does. Now to arrange furniture and hang mirrors and pictures and look forward to our first guests in the brand new room…

oh…and to quilt…

P.S. I am sorry that I was in such a rust to post this that I forgot to add the links for the other quilters who are participating! Excuse me!

This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

Kathy, Lori, Margaret, Kerry, Emma, Tracy, Deb, Connie, Susan , Jessica  , SherryNanette, Sassy,  Edith ,  Sharon and Bella.

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Happy Chinese New Year…of the Dog

woof! woof!

If you were born in 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1942, etc, this is your year.

Here is a darling foundation pieced dog to celebrate the season. He is a very old pattern, which I found and ripped out from the November 1995 issue of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine! At the time, I really didn’t quite understand foundation piecing and I lived in Shanghai China so there was no one to ask. The pattern is by Helen Giddens.

I think he needs a bigger googly eye, but this was the only size I had for him. I don’t know if this pattern is copyrighted and I have not been able to find out about that. If you are interested in having a copy of him, let me know in the comments.

Go out and have a yummy Chinese dinner tonight, even if you aren’t a dog. ;-D

 

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HQAL – A New Tool!

First things first; here is my quilt. I thought I was on the last quarter of the middles, but it turns out that I have a half to go (the bottom half in the picture). Geez….I guess I dreamed that I was on the last quarter.

My general rule for machine or hand quilting, is to match the thread to the background. In the case of a dark fabric, it can be difficult to see where I’m going. Although I have Ott lights all over the house and right by my chair, I often have trouble positioning the light exactly where I need it to be. When I was in a toy store recently, I saw this,

and was reminded of a quilt teacher/friend, who uses a miners head lamp for applique and quilting! It works pretty well, though Peter is continually startled when I look at him and pin him in the spotlight. I think it will be great to take when we travel as hotel rooms rarely have decent lighting. (I also know a quilter who takes her own light bulbs when she travels!) Google miner’s lamp and you will find many options…

Despite the fact that I thought I was on the last quarter, I have made good progress – so many football games to watch. As I stitch along, I have been looking at the border and wondering what to do there. Borders always flummox me. I was hoping that the fabric print had a vine or some sort of pattern that I could follow, but it does not.

Stay tuned! And please check out the blogs of these ladies who are working away on their quilt tops! This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

Kathy, Lori, Margaret, Kerry, Emma, Tracy, Deb, Connie, Susan , Jessica  , SherryNanette, Sassy,  Edith ,  Sharon and Bella.

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A Pressing Station!

If you are a quilter, or do anything with large hunks of fabric, you know what I am about to say – an ironing board is not a useful shape or size. It’s pointy and narrow; good for ironing clothing but not for pressing* fabrics or quilt tops. Since returning from the river cruise, I have been in a fit of organizing and I looked at my ironing board and its space with a critical eye. I have had it in several spots in the studio and nothing has been right. When I complained to Peter about it, he offered to help me find a solution.

Initially we thought about reworking an existing table, and looked at work benches. Though they are about the right size, they are way too big and sturdy. We then looked at tables and couch tables. I thought it would be easy to add a sturdy top. Though many were nice, they were expensive and often rickety. So – Peter said he would make me one from scratch! In the studio, I had to decide where to put it. This is a spot where it’s been…

And it was here another time. The closet door is one of two into the dormer area and I don’t use this one. The new station will work well here.

Many years ago, I got a certificate in fiber from the Worcester Center for Crafts. In the fiber studio, we had huge work tables, made using 4’x 8′ plywood sheets with a felted fabric underneath, covered with muslin that could be taken off to wash. We silk screened and did any number of projects on them. It turns out that a pressing surface really shouldn’t be as hard as an ironing board typically is, so we stapled an old wool blanket to the top (a wedding gift from my mother…) and now I must make a muslin cover with elastic so that I can easily take it off to wash.

Here is the wonderful top getting its legs attached. We measured where my arms should be for pressing, or any work that I do standing up, and the table is the correct height. You can see that it is very sturdy! It is made of a composite top we found that’s 2’x4′. All the hardware that Peter found is sized for 2″x 4″ wood, so the construction was fairly simple.

One of the reasons that I began dreaming about a pressing station was because my iron started leaking. I did some online research as well as asking quilting friends, and decided to buy an Oliso. They are funny things – I used one at a workshop and could not figure out how to use it, but once I did, I liked it a lot. (I call it “the hopper” because that is what it does when you touch it!) When not being used, it wants to be horizontal to the surface, which is perfect for the pressing table. Most irons, if you leave them that way, will leak. It is not an inexpensive iron, but it is an important tool that I constantly use when I am sewing.

Thanks so much Peter! I am already using it and it’s perfect! If you have a handy spouse, I suggest you persuade them to make you your very own pressing station…

Pressing* is what a quilter usually does. We iron fabrics, with a back and forth motion like you would a shirt, but after sewing seams, we press them down and flat. 

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