Sunday, December 19, 2010

Class Fun at Inspirations

   Yesterday, my friend Jane, and I went to Inspirations (quilt shop) in Hills, IA, for the monthly Breakfast Club, which is the 3rd Saturday each month at 9 Am. Quilters bring their own breakfast and drink, see new items demonstrated, hear shop news, and have a show and tell time. It's always a fun time getting together with other quilters and sharing what we're working on. It's  a lively group and while some were missing, new ones took their place. It's a good cover story to give your husband too..."Honey, I'm going to the Breakfast Club on Saturday." It sounds so innocent instead of saying "honey, I'm going to the quilt shop Saturday", when he knows full well if you go you will shop! He may not be fooled for long, but if it works the first few times, then, hey, it's worth it. Of course, it helps if you don't go home and carry your purchases in immediately....that's what the car trunk was invented for! Wait till hubby is gone or not paying attention, then bring in your goodies. Once those fabrics are refolded and nestled amongst their "sisters" in your sewing room, he'll never even notice!
   Following the Breakfast Club I taught a class on my newest pattern, Fields of Blue and Gray. It's a 2 block quilt, one having some paper-pieced sections and one is easy assembly of squares and rectangles. A funeral kept 3 ladies away, but it was still a good-sized group of 8 enthusiastic quilters. Only 2 had prior paper-piecing experience, but the others caught on quickly. Despite the pattern's name there was a variety of fabric choices in the group. One chose to do hers using  all scraps. It's her quilt, her choice. There's never a wrong way to make a quilt, just your way, whatever works for you.  We talked about quarter inch seam allowances and I said everyone's 1/4" varies. It's more important to be consistent in your seam allowance throughout the entire quilt than to stress over whether it's a true 1/4". I told my students that I didn't use a rotary cutter till they had been on the market for 5 years because I had always used templates. The use of templates isn't "wrong", just a different method for achieving the same results. I happily use my rotary cutter now and haven't used a template in 15 years. I don't get hung up on how someone makes a quilt as long as they are  making quilts! It was a fun-filled day of teaching and sharing and making new quilt friends. Any day quilting is a good day to me. I hope you had a "good" day today!
Keep Stitching!

PS....Here are some pictures from my class:

                                       Paper-pieced block done, now hard at work on second block.

                                  One sister says to the other, "This is what your block should look like!"

            This is the look of a happy quilter when her block comes out exactly 10 1/2" square!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Good Weather to Quilt!

   This past weekend, we in Iowa, "enjoyed" bitter cold temperatures, snow, and high winds. In other words, typical Iowa winter weather. Ugh! The only thing I wanted to do was start a pot of homemade turkey noodle soup, stay inside, and quilt. That is exactly what I did. Once the soup was simmering on the stove, I retreated to my sewing room and only came out to stir the soup, get a cup of green tea, or use the bathroom. If I didn't work, I'd spend every day just like that.
   I got a lot done. I'm teaching a class this Saturday at Inspirations, a wonderful quilt shop in Hills, Iowa. I cut and sewed my sample blocks for class. I'm making a poison green and navy, not so crazy, "crazy quilt" and I got the biggest part of it done by Saturday night. My goal is to finish it by the first week in January. I finished hand-quilting a mini version of my "Reap the Whirlwind", sewed on the binding, and made a label for it. It was a Christmas gift to someone special and I needed to finish it so I could ship it today. As luck would have it, we had a 2 hour late start at school today due to the windchill so I even had the time to go to the post office to ship it. All in all it was a great weekend!  I'm posting some pictures of my Christmas village.
   Thanks for visiting! Keep stitching,


                                         Large view of what I call my Smoky Mountain Village.

                                                          The farming end of my village.

Coming down the mountains into the village.
                                                                Cabin in the mountains.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Surrogate Shopper

For the past 4 years, my sister, Sandra, who lives in Katy, Texas, has been the first one in the door for Bonnie Blue's annual warehouse sale. That in itself isn't remarkable, but what is, is that she's not a quilter and she's not buying for herself. She goes as my "surrogate" shopper. I give her my budget and she shops away! One year she used her cell phone while I was online looking at BB's website and choosing what she should buy for me. The gals at BB get a kick out of it and recognize her when she comes in. My favorites are the scrap grab bags. They are stuffed with yummidy fabrics of various sizes  and never fail to delight. This year was the best ever! She even bought for my friend, Kayla. She leaves the warehouse and goes right to the UPS store and ships it right away. The UPS truck delivered it yesterday and we opened it up today because we couldn't get together last night. It took great will power on my part not to look through it before she could be here. It was like Christmas came early! We each got 5 grab bags and we dumped them all out and sorted through them. Out of all that fabric there was only a handful of prints I already have. The "scraps" are anywhere from 3" strips to 12" squares and almost quarter yard cuts. Now we just have to decide what we'll make from these goodies!

                              This is only my share of the loot! These piles are 10-12 fabrics deep.

I reeeeally needed more fabric, no, really, I did....I'll let you know what I sew from these piles. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Keep stitching,

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Welcome to my blog!

   Welcome to all my fellow quilters and Civil War buffs! I'm new to blogging, so please bear with me as I learn. I've kept a quilt journal for 20+ years to keep a record of the time spent on my quilting. Blogging will just be sharing my journal with you, right?!
    I have to start with a big "Thank You" to Karen Valentine  ( who designed my blog and endured my endless questions and patiently explained to me in layman's terms how to navigate my blog site.
    My paternal grandmother, Della Lillard, was a quilter. She taught me to sew when I was 5 yrs. old. We made doll clothes together when I stayed at my grandparents' farm. She stopped quilting when her 9 children were grown, so I never saw her actually quilt. She had a large camel back trunk full of her quilts that I loved to admire. As a special treat when I spent the night, she would let me pick the quilt I'd sleep under. Oh, how I loved those quilts! Sadly, Grandma developed Alzeimers by the time I wanted to learn to quilt, so I am self-taught, but inspired by those beautiful quilts in her trunk. I own one of them, but the rest left the family to my deep regrets. Grandma made all her dresses and aprons out of calico fabrics and her quilts were sewn from the leftover scraps from her sewing. She would let me choose what dress and what apron she wore when I was there and, oh, how I loved that! The doll clothes we made were out of her scrapbag too. I fell in love with fabric thanks to Grandma. Thus, my favorite quilts are scrappy and even though I buy yardage, I usually use so many fabrics in my quilts, they look scrappy too.  Grandma used to tell me stories about the hard times in the Great Depression and how terrible it was to not be able to buy new fabrics. I remind myself of those stories every time I am in a quilt shop...I buy enough so if there is ever another depression, I'll have enough fabric to last me. Great excuse, don't you think?
   I started collecting antique quilts, quilt tops, and "orphan" blocks after I started quilting, always trying to "recreate" that trunkful of Grandma's "lost" quilts. I'm fascinated with old quilts and love to hear stories of their creation if known and fantacize what their story might be when no details are available.
  My lifelong love of history is intertwined with my love for antique quilts. My favorite period of history is the Civil War Era. In 2005 I gave my first "talk" on "The Importance of Quilts and Textiles During the Civil War" to the 8th grade history classes at our middle school. I showed some of my quilt collection, including a quilt made by a Union soldier and the students loved it. I soon was asked to speak to quilt guilds and other organizations. Since then, all the quilts I make are Civil War reproductions, with the exception of baby quilts I make as gifts for family. Those I make of 30's repros. I enjoy seeing quilts made by other quilters in modern fabrics and can appreciate their beauty, but I can't seem to put needle and thread to anything but reproduction fabrics.
   In future posts, I'll share pictures of my collection, as well as new quilts I'm working on, and all things "quilting." I see my first post is a bit rambling, sorry! I hope you visit again soon and share your own quilting experiences with me.
Keep stitching!