For those of you who may not understand the quilting terminology “start,” let me explain. A quilter purchases fabric for a quilt and/or pulls material for a quilt from her stash to begin a new quilt top. A “start” in quilting-land is when you take said-referenced fabric and actually construct the first block – hence a “start.”
The first start was this:
For those of you who are members of thequiltshow.com or have followed the life and blogs of Sue Garman, you will immediately recognize this as the center medallion of the last — or at least one of the last – quilts she designed called Halo Medallion. Sue lost her battle to lung cancer a couple of weeks ago. She was a non-smoker who managed to succumb to this horrible disease that has taken far too many wonderful people from us. She was an incredibly talented quilter and quilt designer and so very gracious. When my guild wanted to make her pattern, Ruffled Roses, for a raffle quilt, she generously gave her permission and encouraged us to send pictures after it was complete. Her loss will be profoundly felt in the quilting world.
The second start was this:
This is the first block of the mystery quilt my guild’s quilt club is making. I am not crazy about the quality of the picture – it makes the star point’s fabric look orange, when in fact it’s coral. This Martha Washington’s Star is constructed from the fabric I featured in last week’s blog. I swear it’s a love/hate relationship with my new camera.
I’ve really have a third start – a quilt I’m entering in a show this August, but again, I can’t put it on social media, as it’s against the rules. In due time I will show this, but it won’t be until next fall. But to give you an idea, it has a dozen Ohio Star blocks in it that are 1-inch, finished.
These small pieces are another component in my “Year of Quilting Fearlessly.” The smallest blocks I have ever made at this point are 4-inches, finished. I’ve loved miniature quilts for a long time but have never thought I had the skill level to complete them, or at least complete them well. In fact, I’ve always been a little daunted at the thought of anything smaller than the blocks I did for Dear Jane.
So again, I would like to challenge you…in 2017, quilt fearlessly. Don’t be intimidated by a pattern, a designer, or a color. Let each of these challenge you, but not intimidate or overwhelm you. Let them teach you a different skill set or improve a skill set you have. You can do this! It will stretch you as a quilter and improve your work.
I have been stitching my fingers off this week. I finished my entry for The Applique Society’s Postcard to Placemat contest. I think I’ve quilted that thing to an inch of its life, but as soon as I finish binding it, it will be photographed and shipped out. I wish I could show it to you, but the rules state it can’t be shown on social media until the winners are chosen. The top ten entries will be shown all over the country in different quilt shows. My fingers are crossed and time will tell.
Meanwhile, a quilt group I belong to has started a mystery quilt. According to the person that’s leading the bee, this one has a patriotic theme. However, since the last mystery quilt I did with this group was red, blue, and cream, I opted for other colors. Remember what I said in last week’s blog that this year my creed was “Quilting Fearlessly?” I backed up my words with action this week and chose colors that were totally out of my comfort zone.
This is the new collection from Connecting Threads. It’s called Firenze and the colors are darker than I typically gravitate towards. I’m anxious to see how this one comes out – both in the choice of blocks and how the colors work together.
I’m off to the Statesville Quilt Show next weekend with a busload of my closest quilting friends. Stay tuned…
Well I survived the 2017 Snow Apocalypse. According to my trusty quilting ruler, there was 10-inches of the fluffy, white stuff on top of my car by last Saturday afternoon – which meant I spent much of the weekend in my quilt studio. I accomplished a lot, but never as much as I want to. I’m starting three new quilt tops this year, and my challenge was to find the fabric and see if I needed to order anything else. Which brings me to the first point of this blog…
Always Shop Your Stash First
I only had to order some background fabric (11 yards – I rarely keep that much of the same kind of fabric in my stash) and two greens. Greens are kind of funny. I don’t care how many greens you have in your stash, the right shade or tone isn’t there. Remember what I wrote about several blogs ago: the average stash is worth $6,000.00. Use it and use it well. That way you feel much less guilty about purchasing more fabric.
Which brings me to my second point of this blog…
When you must purchase fabric, shop your local quilt shop or small, on-line business first
I know I sound like a broken record, but yes, this needs to be done as much as possible. Since my LQS is shuttered and Pineapple Fabric’s next warehouse sale isn’t until February, I did shop on-line for fabric for the first time in years.
The last point of this week’s blog is this – life is short. It’s way too short to drink bad coffee, wear ugly shoes, or put up with people that are continuously pains in the backside. And it’s way too short to keep making the same kind of quilt over and over again. I mean, all of us quilters are guilty of this. We get used to the same kind of pattern. We’re comfortable with the execution of the skill set and the technical difficulties of the same kinds of quilts. We can pick color palates in our heads when we’re doing something as mundane as flossing our teeth. In my opinion, at this point, quilters break into three categories:
Those that like to almost exclusively piece.
Those that like to almost exclusively applique.
Those that piece and applique in the same quilt, and the piecing is fairly simple.
You don’t believe me? Okay, take this challenge. Go to your quilting space. Pull out your patterns. Put all the pieced patterns in one pile, all the applique patterns in one pile, and the patterns that mix both techniques in another. The pile with the greatest number of patterns will tell you what type of quilter you are.
I have three challenges to my readers this year: First, look at that largest pile of patterns and vow not to do more than one of those types this year. We all need something we’re comfortable with to grab and work on when we’re too tired to think or when we just want to be pushing fabric under the needle. But this year, try a pattern you normally wouldn’t even dream about making. Whether that means an intricately pieced quilt, a paper-pieced quilt, an applique quilt, or a hand-pieced quilt, don’t be afraid to try something different. Personally, I don’t grow as a quilter unless I’m challenged – given something new and harder than I’ve ever tried before. I may not always be pleased as punch at the end result, but I learn a lot of lessons along the way that serve to make me a better quilter. I’ve got a couple of these on my table right now and will be sharing the lessons learned as I go along.
One of my challenges this year and probably next….
Second, work with a color either you don’t like or doesn’t play well with other fabric. Why? Because it expands your color vision and makes you play with colors that normally you wouldn’t give a second glance at. I know I tend to get locked into color schemes that I’m very comfortable with (purple/green, pink/brown, blue/green. And due to this, I have a lot of those colors in my stash please do not ask me how many purples are in my stash—it’s almost embarrassing. Which means when I need a yellow or an orange or a black, I’m scrambling to try to find some on my shelf. It also pushes you out of your comfort zone and dares you to almost fly by the seat of your pants. Don’t be afraid of orange or lime green or whatever color it is that makes you nearly cringe. All the crayons belong in our quilting box.
Remember this jewel from the “This Spoke to Me” blog? While I love it dearly, it does not play well with a lot of fabric.
Last, find organizations that need quilts and try to make at least one to donate to them. It could be a national organization such as Project Linus or Quilts of Valor, or a local hospital that needs small quilts for preemies or cancer patients. It could be the local police that would like to have a quilt or two in the trunk of their police cars to shelter and comfort victims of domestic abuse as they’re removed from dangerous situations. It could be a nursing home or Alzheimer’s unit that needs fidget blankets. The point here is that our kids and other family members can only inherit so many quilts. At some point, we need to quilt to give them away. The love and warmth and prayers that are in so many of our quilts go a long way to comfort folks that are in a horrible situation. Don’t be afraid to get involved.
Don’t be afraid, fellow quilters. This year – quilt fearlessly.
There’s the group of women I sew with on Tuesday nights. On any given Tuesday night, anywhere between 8 and 20 of us get together and sew and quilt. This Sit and Sew started at Dragonfly and now that the store has closed, we are continuing to sit and sew at Karen’s house. This tightly knit group of women were the core that started the High Point Quilt Guild.
Which brings me to my next group of quilting pals – my local guild. This group of women and men have an “official meeting” once a month, but a good number of us end up together once or twice a month to quilt, too. We’re a small and fairly new guild, so this too, is a great group of friends.
These folks are my rock…my support group…my therapy session…
However, there is one group of women that I have quilted with since 2001. This is a bee that sprang from Hancock’s Block of the Month Club. We call ourselves the Quilting Cuties. Once Hancock’s disbanded the BOM, we continued to meet to quilt and chat. This is the group of ladies I have known the longest. Since Hancock’s closed, we’ve gone down in number from seven to four, but this group is the group that knows me best.
And this is the group that is probably the most honest with me. Always.
So when Lisa, a member in good standing of the Quilting Cuties, called me out on last week’s blog, well…I had to listen. Because Lisa may be blunt, but she is always the most honest. Concerning last week’s blog, she commented, “Well, that was cheery.”
I went back and read it. And she was right. It wasn’t sunshine and roses and unicorns. But at the time, it did reflect my raw feelings about our present quilt world. It has collectively been turned upside down and inside out in many ways. However, perhaps I shouldn’t have reflected that on my readers.
So I do apologize and hope I didn’t discourage or offend anyone because that certainly wasn’t my intent. I just needed to regroup, reorganize, and re-orient myself. And I did. I finished a quilt top this week, but I can’t show it because it’s a present for someone that regularly reads my blog. I ordered the backing today and as soon as it gets in, it’s going on my long arm and will be quilted.
Speaking of which, I’m no professional at it at all, but learning how to deal with Loretta has been tons of fun and I’m getting better. I’m learning what thread she likes and which kind she spits back at me. I’ve learned to pantograph reasonably well, but find it rather boring. I am loving freehand work. I’ve yet to try rulers, but have purchased a few several and as soon as I can book another class with Shelle and/or Janet, I want to learn these. This is my latest pantograph work, although it’s kind of hard to see in this picture.
And I’m almost through with all my Farmer’s Wife blocks!
These were fun…
These were a bit more challenging…
And I fell in love with the colors on these…
These blocks are 6.-inches unfinished. But after working on Jane for so many years, they feel huge. And anytime I work with a 12.5-inch unfinished block — it’s ginormous to me. I’ve only got 15 more blocks to go and I can start putting this together. I love the Fig Tree fabrics and a huge thank you goes to Jill for “plumping” my stash with her leftover Fig Tree scraps.
The weather folks are calling for 6 to 8 inches of snow here tomorrow and Saturday. I’ve done my milk/bread/toilet paper/wine/coffee run, so after I finish some household chores (because I really need to clean the house since the Christmas tree is down and packed away), it looks like it’s quilting all weekend! Hooray!