Moving Along

It seems like progress has been slow lately, but if you just keep plugging along, eventually stuff gets accomplished.

I thoroughly enjoyed my quick trip to Santa Cruz for Maria Shell‘s workshop! I stopped at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and they had a brand new exhibit up–what a treat!

Maria’s workshop was great, and she had lots of ideas for us to try using solid fabrics to make prints.

I had this great grouping of fabrics in my tote bin, and right away I thought “wouldn’t those work together well?”

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So I used them to make these curved pieces. When I started working on them, I wasn’t quite so charmed with their colors. So I put them up on my design wall when I got home, and I am pondering the possibilities. Even if I don’t use these particular pieces, I love the technique that she taught, and I know I will use it again soon.

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My gardener was due for a visit, and so the pressure was on to finish the quilt for his first granddaughter. Do any of you have “issues” with charging for your work? I don’t ever want to do anything for free, but on the other hand, I would not pay what I charge for a baby quilt–I want to say “go to Marshall’s, you can get a great baby quilt there for a fraction of the cost.” Nonetheless, we traded work hours for the quilt. MLG has done a miracle in my yard–worth so much more than a quilt.

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Here is the finished quilt–I just quilted simply around the birds, put some radiating lines around the “frames,” and did simple wavy lines in the sashing. I ended up following the fabric pattern to quilt the border. I wanted it to be sturdy, but not too densely quilted for a quilt that I hope is used and loved for a long time.

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I had the idea to cut out one of the bird prints, and use that space for the baby name and info. I was really pleased with how this came out.

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In the meantime, mostly in the evenings, I kept plugging along at the little squares that I was embroidering. Last night I finished the 153rd square! Now I am going to quilt it, and add a backing fabric onto it. I had a muslin back on it, just for stability, but now for the first time I am going to try my idea of adding a second back so that the embroidery thread work won’t show on the back. I am only going to show you a few of the squares that I finished. You’ll have to wait until its finished to see the whole thing.

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(oops, I just noticed I didn’t finish the french knots on this one!)

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And now on to the studio!

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A Quick Note

I am back from the Houston International Quilt Festival, and leaving tomorrow for a workshop with Maria Shell. Houston was absolutely fabulous in so many ways. Of course, in Texas everything is bigger, right? Well, the biggest surprise to me was the way the quilts were displayed. There was so much room between the aisles, and even more room between the separate displays. Not once did I feel that I was “fighting the crowds” to see the quilts. Even the big winners were never that crowded.

I got to attend the show with my best friend, Robin Fouquette the absolutely fabulous long arm quilter. Robin lives in Oregon, and so we don’t get to see each other quite as often as we’d like. This picture also gives you a little idea of how well spaced the displays are.

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Sometimes they have a lot of instructions about which quilts you can photograph, and how or when you are supposed to share those with others. So I just picked out a couple that I thought would be okay. I have a definite love for Japanese quilts. Their workmanship and composition and use of color–everything about them just inspires me. This quilt was made by a mother for her daughter, and when I went by one time, she was there with her daughter. I just caught this candid moment, and I love it.

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Here are a few details of her quilt–I think all hand done, if you can imagine.

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Here is the other quilt I will share, because as you see, the quilt maker has done a good job of giving himself photographic credit. Luke Haynes works with used clothing as his raw material. Its just astounding what he can do with it. Oh, and in this picture you can see that they used clear plastic tape to block off the quilts. I loved that, as it allowed you to get a better view of the quilt as a whole composition.

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close-up.

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Saturday night there was a bit of excitement at our hotel. We got on the shuttle to come home from the show and dinner out, and the driver announced that he would not be able to take us back to our hotel. Evidently there was a fire. Yikes! Fortunately, he was able to get us within a block of it, and by then most of the excitement had cleared up and they allowed us to come into the hotel. Some of the younger firemen were posing with quilters and other guests, but I enjoyed this group, who were just looking on and having some coffee. The fire was actually outside the hotel, in a manhole or something.

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Oh, so bad blogger that I am, I didn’t take pictures of any of the people I was able to meet up with. Thursday night Robin and I were able to have dinner with Ricky Tims and his partner Justin Shultz. So fun to have a little time to catch up with Ricky (we were friends over 30 years ago, when we used to show dogs together!! so weird to say “thirty years ago…”) I got to chat with Jenny Lyons, my SAQA friend. And I briefly met Maria Shell when she gave a free demo at the “Meet the Teachers” area of the show. This was a great feature–they had ongoing 30 minute demonstrations by various teachers. All were well done, and it was also a nice place to sit and take a short break 🙂 Last but not least, I finally met up with long time friend and blogger, Kris from Australia! That is the fun of blogging–you meet people online that have similar interests, and then once in a while you are privileged to meet them in person. Kris had a beautiful quilt displayed at the show, and she won second prize in its category!!

On Sunday another blog friend picked me up and we got to spend a couple of days visiting–doing what we like best: talking, eating, stitching, and watching favorite TV shows. It was an absolutely great way to end this trip, with a day of relaxing before the long journey home. Shelley and I met because of our mutual interest in healthy living, and because we both have a Texas/California connection, we have been able to get together fairly often. One time we met at a frozen yogurt shop and I taught her to knit. One time she took me to her local quilt and knitting shops, and we had oh so much fun shopping, and then sewing together afterwards. This time I made a little quilt sandwich for Shelly to try the embroidery with perle cotton thread.

Shelley did some outstanding embroidery!

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She decided she wanted to make a sun in one of the circles. She did say that she might not be doing too much of that satin stitch in the future. But I love the way it looks!

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Before I left, I asked her to pick out some colors of perle cotton that she liked, and I picked out a few more to fill in light and dark values, and left her a little “kit” to continue working on her piece.

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While I was at PIQF and Houston, I was trying out a lot of long arm quilting machines. I have been thinking seriously about whether or not I “needed” one of these. At one booth at PIQF, they were using a frame under the sit-down long arm. I loved it, especially because of the knobs on the side. It seemed to keep my hands in a more ergonomically correct position. When I got home from PIQF, I investigated, and found out that this hoop/frame was made by Martelli. And then I realized that I could use it with my Janome sewing machine for free motion quilting. So when I went to Houston, I was on the lookout for this product, and with BF Robin’s approval, I bought a set (an 8″ and 11″ hoop.) When I got home, one of the very first things I did was to pull this out of my suitcase and give it a try. A very nice product, and one I think I will really use frequently.

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Oh, so as long as we’re talking long arms, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking. I had tried just about every brand of sit-down long arm out there. I did not like them, and so I was definitely investigating traditional frame long arm machines. On Robin’s recommendation, I tried the Juki, and I LOVE that machine. I spent a lot of time at the Juki booth in Houston, talking to the reps and the educators about the machine and how it works. On the last day, when we were both getting a little tired, I said I’d like to go back to the Juki booth one more time. And when we walked over, I said, “I didn’t even try their sit down machine. Well…..!!! I sat down, gave it a try, and suddenly there were angels singing in the convention center. I LOVED it!! In addition to loving how it sewed, there were a lot of other factors that made it “perfect” for me. For one thing, it requires way less space than the frame machine. I like the way my studio is set up, and if I did get a frame, I would have to rearrange the whole studio, and it would be pretty crowded. In addition, I have knee and back problems, so even if I did get the frame, I would be looking for a stool that would work with it. And lastly, no learning curve. As much fun as it is to watch other people using their long arm, it is a different quilting motion, and there would be some time before I would be able to quilt as well as I do on my current machine. Oh, and if I did ever want a frame long arm, this machine could be easily converted to the frame type.

I came very close to buying the machine that day, but I am going to wait. I like to think about big decisions. And that is the end of my Houston report! My bin is packed with solid fabrics, and I am ready to leave for my workshop with Maria, “Making Prints Out of Solids.”