Thursday, July 31, 2008

County Fair Results!

I got my quilts back from the fair yesterday and am very pleased at my results! I got 5 blue ribbons and 3 red ribbons. I won a special reward for the miniature category which was very nice - a $25.00 certificate from Threads That Bind. So maybe I won't end up owing my whole paycheck for a change!

I didn't get to see the exhibit, so I'm not sure how much competition there actually was, I am in the professional division, but I look at it as less competition (of a higher level!) We all know each other, so it's fun - especially trying your hand at something you know someone else is fabulous at!

I love that there are so many categories to enter in, there are 6 different categories for miniature quilts alone, so I may have to make a few extra for next year. These are the three larger quilts I entered the yellow one is Party Mints, it was entered as a lap quilt. The blue one is Baby Blues, it is a baby quilt, and the fall one is Grandmother's Flower Baskets and it is a sample for a pattern I am working on.

Then I entered an assorment of smaller items. The Eiffel Tower Journal Cover got a red ribbon, and my quilted postcard got a red ribbon. The rest were all blue, including my two miniatures! The yellow and blue miniature I finished the morning that the fair items were picked up. The scalloped binding was a last minute decision and not as well done as I would like it to have been, but it still qualified for the blue ribbon so I am happy.

It was a pattern from a Miniature Quilts magazine, but I made it in different colors. I love the blue and yellow combination, so bright and cheery. I ran out of fabric for the border, but had one in my stash that I loved, but didn't want to use. So I ended up running to the fabric store to look for more, and found the same thing, plus the cheery fabric I used for the back. I am going to make myself a quilters wallet out of the border fabric that I have left now!

Saving the best for last, the happiest thing I got from the fair is a commission to quilt one of the loveliest vintage grandmothers flower garden quits I have ever seen! It is a fabulous quilt and I know that not everyone is as thrilled as I am about getting to handquilt something like this, but it is such a wonderful quilt!

Yes, that is a quarter in the center of the flower! Each of the flower petals has a design from the fabric centered on it, and the green path around the flowers makes the whole quilt beautifully straight, not slightly skewed like most of these are. I think there is a special name for this variation, if you know what it's called let me know. It is in pristine shape, not a spot on it. I am so honored to be able to put my stitches in this quilt, I cannot even tell you! What a joy this will be!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Color Kazoo Blocks and Rails

I finished quiting the Color Kazoo quilt and it came out pretty well. I quilted the center with boxes, it wasn't as easy as stippling at first, but it got better as I went. It's probably easier on a long arm machine, but it wasn't too bad. I thought it looked better after washing, and I think it's a nice little quilt. I hope to get my next quilt basted tomorrow, but have to go get more batting first.
I had a good day Wednesday. I drove down to Gold Beach to judge the quilts for the fair. It was my first judging experience and although I was pretty nervous about it, everything went well and I learned a lot. One of the things I learned was that the reason judges pick on your batting is that may be the only thing to pick on! Luckily we didn't have too many categories with more than two quilts, there was one with 6. They were bed quilts. They were varying in difficulty, but all were well done, and the bindings were one of the big deciding points. Though each one looked like it was done with care, there were differences in the corners, the fullness of the bindings, and the way they were stitched down. So, make sure you take as much care in finishing your binding as you do in your piecing or quilting.

What I look for in a binding: The binding should be even all the way around the quilt, the batting should fill it all the way to the edge, the corners should be mitered, all the same, and nice and square. The joint should not be noticeable, and the general preference is stitched invisibly on the back. I do a lot of mine top-stitched to the front, though and generally get good marks for those! I think ideally the binding should be the same width on the back as on the front, but that's flexible as long as it is consistent in size on both sides.

Remember, the binding is your last chance to make a good impression, whether your quilt is judged or not. Make it as good as you can!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Jane block for July 17

Thursday I worked on the 11th triangle from the left on the top. I want to get this whole side of triangles done then I will be officially 1/4 of the way through this quilt. I started January of 04, so I hope it doesn't take me 13 1/2 years to finish this whole quilt!

Well, this triangle had some oddly angled diamonds in the middle, then from there the whole block was built around that. I strip pieced the diamond unit, using masking tape to mark the angle on my 6 inch square ruler. For the half diamonds at the top and bottom I made a strip of blue and white, the cut the diamonds using this angle also, then pieced the strips onto the sides. After that I made freezer paper templates for the triangles, pieced them onto the diamond, cut strips to add for the top sections and trimmed up with my triangle ruler after. The top diamond is appliqued on. Took me 2 1/2 hours, but it looks lovely and is done! The next triangle is just applique so I got that cut out and am ready to tackle it during any sit-down time I have during the week.

Yesterday I went to the quilt shop and traded patterns for fabric and got backings for two quilts. So now I have 4 quilts that are ready to go, but I need more batting. My goal is to get 1 done each week, so I have one lined up to work on this afternoon. It is Color Kazoo - pretty pinks and greens. The border will be fun to quilt because I'm just going to follow the lines in the fabric. The middle, I'm not sure yet. Maybe I'll try something different. Some boxy stippling might be kind of neat. We'll see what inspires me once I lay it out!

Well, time to get on with my day. Lots of altering lined up, but quilting breaks are planned, so I hope to have a very productive day.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What I did at work today...

I though it would be fun to talk about what I do at the quilt shop all day, and share some pictures. Today was the Farmers Market so I try to get there early because the Market opens around 9:00, and the earlier you get there the better the chance for a parking spot! I only have to drive about 5 minutes to work, and today I was busy at home so I didn't get there until 9:45. I unlocked the front door, and as I put my bags down at the desk greeted my first customer of the day. I went to the back, turned on the lights and picked up our cash box. While chatting, I set up the cash register for the day and read the notes Sharan left me.

Today's market special was Christmas in July, so I set up the table outside the front door, put two stacks of Christmas fabric out and a basket of McKenna Ryan Gingerbread Lane kits. Then I went back to the computer and made up the sale sign.

I waited on some more customers, then went to the back table to check in some bolts of fabric. Pretty new fabric from Alex Anderson in reds and blacks. I wanted to buy some so badly - they were lovely! Checking in means marking them off on the invoices, and initialling, pricing, and cutting four fat quarters from each bolt. In between waiting on customers I got this task done fairly quickly.

I visited with my friend Candy who stopped in to see what I was up to and tell me that she finished quilting her quilt. She has two days to bind it so she can enter it in the fair. Can't wait to see it hanging, it's a winner for sure!

The next thing on my list was to bind a quilt for Sharan. I trimmed the edges of the quilt, cut binding strips and ironed the binding. Before I knew it, it was 12:00! Since there was a lull in activity in the store I decided to try to finish the binding before I had lunch. I was actually able to sew the binding to the back by machine, then turn it and top stitch it in a little over an hour!

It was a good thing I got that done, because the minute I got my lunch sack out, the customers starting coming in and it was pretty much non stop until 4:00. My favorite cosutomers of the day was a family with grandma, mom, and two daughters. Grandma was the quilter, but they all got inspired by the fabrics (Amy Butler!) and left with patterns for tops, a laptop cover, and fabric for several projects! The farmers market starts shutting down at 3:00, but I had people in the shop one after the other until an hour later.

After that it was pretty quiet until closing. The phone only rang twice the whole day, which is very unusual, but we were way busier than usual with customers. I had my cup of yogurt for break, then got busy and sewed up some of my scrappy 9-patch blocks and made a set of disappearing 9-patches. Then I turned off the iron, straightened up, and was ready to close. The register was off by 6 cents, so I just put the extra in our back up and was ready to leave for the day.

I was glad to get home to dinner in the crock pot, a glass of cold ice tea and time to relax at the computer! Next time maybe I'll be able to take more pictures, today was too busy for that.

Monday, July 14, 2008

To wash or Not to wash, that is the Question?

As much as I love a freshly quilted quilt, the only thing better to me is the same quilt after washing. I just love the crinkles, and the softness. But the dilemma for me is, does everyone appreciate them like I do?

Just for the fun of it I decided to wash my latest quilt and take before and after pictures of the quilt to see how it looks without being able to actually touch it.

This quilt I am calling Country Garden. It is from Quick and Easy Romantic Quilts by Sandy Berry. This is a terrific book with a lot of fun quilts to make in it. I've made two of them as shop samples, and the patterns were great! I used warm and natural batting in this one, and backed it with a nice brown cotton. None of the fabrics were pre-washed. I used aurefil thread (another recommendation, love it!) I quilted it with my hearts and loops. Looks really good I think!

Overall - before washing:

Overall - after washing

Close-up before washing:

Close-up after washing:

Not too much difference in the overall view, but the close-ups really show the difference! I love how beautiful and soft it looks, very touchable! I think I will work on pre-washing some of the baby quilts I have for sale on Etsy, they just seem so much more lovable to me when they are washed, plus they are ready to wrap around the baby! Fabric, I'm not going to pre-wash, but quilts, I think so, now.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Top Left Corner

I had a nice thursday - did some cleaning up in the morning, then had the girls over for quilting. I decided that since I am about 1/4 of the way done with my Jane project that it was time to do one of the corners. When I looked over them I realized that the top left corner is the same pattern as one of the blocks I did last week, I decided that it was meant to be!

The story of last week's block is that I had been avoiding doing this particular block because I was intimidated by it. So I finally "manned up" so to speak and decided to do it. I sewed it on my machine, and it came out great - as as I noted in the book, this was not as hard as it looks! So, on to more of the same, the dimesions of the pieces are the same on both blocks, so it was just a matter of more blocks. A lot of 1/2 inch seams, but quite doable and it's another great block (sorry for the blurry pic). I haven't trimmed it yet, I'm waiting until I get them all done since I don't have a ruler for this one.

I also started a miniature to enter in the fair next week. I need to take a look through my fair book and see what else I've finished over the last year that I can enter. If it's not done now, it's not going to be going, the miniature I can finish, but I'm not working on anything else! I wish every day could be as fun and relaxed as today was, but for now I will just enjoy those days as they come, and work hard on the days I have to work!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Better late than Never!

I totally forgot that I never put a picture up of one of my secret projects! This is the Strip Robin we did in Quilt Guild. A super fun project, and it came out so well - I cannot say how pleased I am at the results! This quilt was blown up from a picture taken of my husband and our horse almost 2 years ago now - he's a much bigger horse now, almost ready to run in the races! Anyway, this is the original picture I used. It was sliced into 5 sections to give each person a 6 inch strip to work with.

This is the resulting quilt! It was so fun to see how everyone met the challenge of making their section in fabric! Anyway, I put the strips together and presented them to him for Father's Day and he was delighted! So now, all I have to do is quilt it and it will be ready to hang in his music room. I did the center section, and think I did a really good job - looks just like him! Every section went to gether well, and though the hills didn't match, the foreground did, and the horse was perfect so I am pleased.

Just for the fun of it, here is a picture of our traditional dessert for the fourth of July: Flag cake. It features whipped cream for frosting and strawberries and blueberries for the stars and stripes. This year it was frozen blue berries because the fresh ones looked totally pathetic. Oh well, it tasted good!

Monday, July 07, 2008

On-line meets IRL

Or In Real Life, as I'm sure most of you know.

I had the opportunity to meet someone that I've gotten to know through Etsy. Her name is Michelle and her shop is DragonflyStitches. We had a neat time meeting at Threads That Bind and getting to know each other a bit. She's a lucky lady, she has 25 quilt shops within 25 miles of her house! I have 1. Sad! Oh well, there are perks to living in a small town. Everything is only 5 minutes away.

We had a great visit, it was really fun to talk to her, and her mom. Her little daughter is a doll, too! Always fun to make a new friend.

The rest of the day I spent on the usual stuff. I altered a wedding dress, bound a quilt, went shopping and cleaned house a bit. Tomorrows a long day at the shop, so I'm going to close down early tonight and get some rest. Wonder what interesting things tomorrow will bring?