Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Quilting at the Castle with Jenny Doan (Warning--LONG post, lots of photos!)

This is the place--an event venue in our valley called "The Castle" (okay, technically it is named Castle Manor, but we just refer to it as The Castle).  My Girlfriend's Quilt Shoppe brought Jenny Doan of  Missouri Star Quilt Company to town and sponsored a 2 day event here.
On Friday there were two half day workshops where we were taught the finer points of the Disappearing Hourglass. There were 50-60 women in each session and I was in the evening group.

This is Jenny's Disappearing Hourglass quilt. It is very pretty and I was glad to try out this pattern.

These are the blocks I got finished. Some women made more, some made less. It all depended on how well you could focus in a room full of chatting quilters!

Jenny is just as genuine and friendly in person as she seems in her tutorials. I observed over the two
days that she never appeared weary of the endless signing of books, bags and anything else that would accept a Sharpie Marker. She never seemed impatient to be done and always responded with kindness to each request. She has a perpetual smile, a ready laugh, and an endless supply of entertaining stories.
Sarah, Jenny, Me, Natalie

Her daughters are cut from the same cloth, and were a delightful addition to the experience.
None of them ever complained about the endless photos they were asked to pose for--many of them by me.
These are talented, gracious women who are involved in a business that I can't even begin to comprehend--brick and mortar stores, a website, online tutorials, magazines, email newsletters, etc. My head swims at the thought of keeping all of that going, but they do it with a smile--and travel besides.

Saturday morning we were greeted by shop owner Kris (on the left), and her twin sister Kim (of Kimberbell Designs), two more remarkable women. Aren't they cute? They are pretty sweet, too. And if you can't tell them apart, they will each answer to the other's name, so you won't feel stupid. : )

Well over 300 women were there to enjoy the trunk show, lunch, and workshops. This is looking down from the mezzanine at just a part of the crowd.

The shop had put out a call a couple of weeks before the event, asking for quilts made from Jenny's patterns, to be on display. They were draped all around the railings on the mezzanine level. This is also where the shopping area was set up, and Jenny's daughters were demoing some products. So you could shop, enjoy the quilt show, and catch the demos. Doesn't it look fun? I made the loop several times!
Yes,  that is a Primitive Gatherings quilt on the railing at the right side of the photo. They had kits available for it in the shop, so it was on display. It is a gorgeous quilt named "Words to Live By",  I believe.
Here you can see my little Disappearing Pinwheel Part 2 quilt in the display.
I got my little quilt finished just in time to be turned in late. Does that make any sense? They asked for the quilts to be in by Tuesday, but I had just started it Monday. I called and was told that they could take it as late as Thursday night. As I walked in the store that evening to turn it in, I was surprised to see Jenny, Natalie and Sarah sitting there, visiting. Jenny had Sarah take this shot of us with the quilt.

Of course, I had to make some ornaments, but you probably already knew that. I reduced the 3" churndash/pinwheel blocks a little more and these ended up 2 1/4", before the borders. So the finished ornaments are 2 3/4"--just a little larger than I usually make, but I wasn't sure I could go smaller with the pinwheels. Now I want to see if I can.
I labeled the backs with the name of the event and date and gave one to Jenny and one to each daughter (didn't get a photo of the last one).

The trunk show was delightful. We saw a lovely collection of quilts, were taught with some "in person" tutorials, were entertained with funny happenings (like when she broke her leg making her first video for her shop--well, maybe that isn't funny, but it was the way she told it), and moved by stories of the people who have written with their thanks for what they have been able to learn and accomplish without ever leaving their homes. These letters have come from new quilters that don't know where to learn what they need to know, young mothers who can't get out to shops easily, people with handicaps who really cannot leave home, even a woman in a war torn country who said Jenny had added color to her life.

 We laughed, oohed and aaahed--and some even cried, as Jenny kept us hanging on every word.

In the afternoon we rotated through 5 stations. We did a service project for breast cancer awareness, had a chance to try the new Baby Lock embroidery machines while working on a cute Christmas mug rug from new Kimberbell software, had a class on Christmas gift ideas to sew, had time to shop and watch demos, and attended a meet and greet in the outdoor gazebo where Jenny continued to sign anything and everything, and we were able to get even more photos taken.

My daughter, Aimee, Jenny, and me, in the gazebo.
After we finished at The Castle, My Girlfriend's Quilt Shoppe was opened up for us to shop, have refreshments, win door prizes and visit one last time with Jenny and her daughters.

 It was an amazing weekend, made possible by some amazing people--the shop owners, Kris and Mike Thurgood, their incredible staff, Jenny, and her daughters.
Jenny, Kris, Sarah, Natalie

I am glad that I got to share Saturday with DD#2 and I wish DD#1 could have joined us, but NH is a long way from Utah.
Until next time,
Janet O.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I wondered--

...should you attend a retreat with Jenny Doan if you have never tried one of the tips or tricks in her videos? I didn't think so.
I have loved the Disappearing Pinwheel Part 2 that I have seen on a few blogs. Mary's (Quilt Hollow blog) version has been my very favorite. So taking my cue from her, I made mine in repros, I made it smaller, and I switched the center pinwheels around to make it look more scrappy, as she did.
The blocks are 3"finished, so the pinwheels are 1". If you look closely, you can see that there is a good deal of wonkiness to these little churn dash blocks. Lots of points went missing in action.

It is not an easy block to make smaller. I decided not to use Jenny's method for making the HSTs. Those bias edges could be so hard to deal with at this scale. As it was, just the process of cutting the pinwheel up (like the lines on a tic-tac-toe board), was a challenge. 
 As you have to keep lifting and moving the ruler, the fabric pieces shift ever so slightly, and that has to be fixed before you can make the next cut. The second two cuts are the hardest to keep straight. No matter how carefully I tried, once my pinwheel block was cut into 9 pieces, they were not all the same size. On a large block you have some wiggle room--you can be 1/8th inch off and it still works. But that much difference throws a block this small into a tizzy. But overall, I am happy with this little quilt.

Got the little Fall colored mini mostly quilted. Haven't done anything in the border yet. The rust colored fabrics behind it are the backing on the right and the binding on the left. As I look at it here, maybe I should bind it with the backing fabric.
The little blocks are 3/4". It makes me think of the golden glow of late afternoon in the fall, so I think I will call it Autumn Afternoon.

Got the binding done on the Civil War Churn Dash baby quilt made from the block swap I did last year with Maureen (Pursuit of Quilts blog).

Can you believe it? That's all--I'm finished. : )
Until next time,
Janet O.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Little Finishes Fill the Wall

WooHoo! The yardstick gallery outside my sewing room door is now completed. Another yardstick and three more little quilts have been added. (See the "how to" tab above for the source of this idea, and instructions on how to make your own.)
I love having this to greet me every time I go to my sewing room! : )

These are the three recent finishes, and they all involve batiks.

The  9" square Storm at Sea (which I named "A Little Squall") was a flimsy for my mini trunk show in May. I finally got it quilted. Since I pressed many seams open I couldn't SITD between rows.
But I did SITD around all of the lavender and marine blue pieces. The border is a swirly free motion design.

Terry (of Terry's Treasures blog) hosted a SAL for a quilt called "Goodnight, Irene." Terry didn't want the bonus triangles from her quilt, so I acquired them. I showed the top I made a little while back, but I didn't like my border, so it sat around for a while. I've remodeled it and am much happier with it. The hourglass blocks are 1".
I do a lot of straight line quilting on my minis, and this one was no exception. Here is a shot of the back before I stitched the binding down by hand.

That used most of the HSTs, but there were still a few left, so I put this together.
I started out just putting the pinwheels on point, but then I put the whole block on point, and that gave me a chance to practice feathers in the setting triangles.

And through all of this, I have actually made a little progress on big projects. I am currently binding the churn dash baby quilt (see the bottom of the post in the link), and I have the rows all made for my Garden Maze quilt. Now I need to sew the rows together and put some borders on it. It will be so good to get this done. I know I got the block pattern in 2006, but it was a little while before I started making the blocks. I finished them a couple of years ago, and it is about time they became a quilt!

And while I was making the rows,  I was itching to be sewing with some Fall colors, as I could feel the nip in the air as I sewed at night. So I grabbed some fall colored HSTs left from other projects, and I made a bunch of little blocks as leader/enders. 
When I had used up the HSTs, I trimmed the blocks to a uniform size and then cut some little squares from a beautiful Primitive Gatherings yellow my friend Annie M. sent me a while ago. 
The top is webbed and I am getting the rows sewn together. The little blocks finish at 3/4" and the whole quilt will be just over 5"x7", if I don't border it.

I just read back through this and it sounds pretty dry--sorry. But here is some exciting news--next Friday and Saturday I get to attend workshops with Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Co.! Looking forward to that!

Until next time, 
Janet O.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Lamb For All Seasons *

I'm sure you are all familiar with the free Old Glory Gatherings pattern from Primitive Gatherings.

After making mine, you may recall that I made a Christmas version for a small quilt swap with Gayle (The Middle Sister blog). This summer I had been thinking I needed to make one of those to keep. Well, that got the wheels in my head turning, and this is what resulted.

This one needs something. I am thinking about brown wool circles behind light ones.

 Nothing is final on these yet--nothing fused or stitched down. The wool pieces are not positioned exactly yet. The little lamb above doesn't really have a leg dragging behind. : )
There may be some other little elements added to these basic designs. I'm playing with some possibilities, but it won't be anything major on any of them--just little touches.

I'm almost caught up on the Primitive Gatherings 10th Anniversary SAL. Just need to stitch around the wool applique in the corners.
I am really liking this so far. I do wonder if I am going to have enough of the coordinating fabrics and wools to keep going as the rounds get bigger. 

Got one more mini Burgoyne Surrounded block made. The little 2 1/2 inch square ruler may help give you the size perspective. There will be sashing and 9-patch cornerstones between blocks.
Went to a sale at an almost LQS Saturday morning and got a few more small print blacks to use in the rest of the blocks. Four down, eight to go! No, Julie, I am not making a bed size quilt out of these little blocks, much as you want me to. : )

This little quilt of 2" pineapples finally got quilted. I made the top for that trunk show in May. It finishes at 9"x11".
The binding is only pinned down on the back. Purple may not have been your color of choice for the binding, but it was mine, and I love it! I've named this Pineapple Tidbits.

I've added another little quilt to my wall of quilts made by friends. I may not have shown the last couple, so I will need to get an updated photo soon. This little quilt was made from a Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses block that is so popular around blogland, so I thought you might like to see how sweet one block looks all by itself.
This was made by my friend, Carole. The colors are much richer (Kansas Troubles fabric), but I took it with the light shining across the surface so you could see the great texture of the quilting. It is beautifully made! Thank you so much, Carole. I love it!

There is more to share, but this was long enough. I'll save some for later. Until then,
Janet O.

*No disrespect intended to the book or movie "A Man For All Seasons." I own both and I really love the message of integrity and commitment in the story. But I couldn't resist the play on words for this title. That may reflect poorly on my integrity.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Progress report of an easily distracted quilter.

Two little quilts are finished.
From a 9-patch SAL at quiltsbycheri blog. I think she called it "Gathering Patches." She made 3 different 9-patch quilts. I only made the first two. This one has been a flimsy for quite a while. I may tea-dye it. Haven't decided yet, for sure.

This was one of the many little quilts I made in my one-patch frenzy earlier this month. Just got it quilted and bound.

And speaking of the one-patch frenzy--the smaller quilt in this photo is the last of the little one-patch quilts that I had laid out on a design board. Very random scraps. I hadn't machine quilted for a while, so I used this as a warm-up piece before moving on to quilt "Market Day" (the larger quilt in the photo, from Pam Buda's SAL). Yes, Kris, I kept that border fabric on Market Day. After three quilt shops and nothing I liked better than this, it stayed!
Both of these just have the binding pinned down, waiting for hand stitching.

The back of Market Day is a repro of a great old patriotic print that I received from Barb Vedder (Fun with Barb blog), whom I consider queen of the cool backing fabrics!

I am working on getting caught up with Lisa Bongean's 10th Anniversary SAL. (Click the links on her sidebar for the patterns)
I chose to do the light border in one print, rather than a collection of scraps. The flying geese will go all around, eventually. I am just taking one side at a time, doing them by paper piecing. I have a hard time getting  lots of flying geese in a row to end up the size they are supposed to be, so I opted to take this route, and it is slow going. The corners will have little wool appliqued flowers.

And I got one more little block (finishes at 3 3/4") made in my mini version of Lisa Bongean's version of the APQ SAL. I have the strips cut for more. Hopefully I can add one or two blocks this week

Finally, the big quilt is progressing. (Yes, I do make big quilts, too.)
Three of the rows are made--two more to go. Then a couple of borders and the hardest part of all--how to quilt it? I'm open to suggestions. : )

Until next time,
Janet O.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Making of a Mini Quilt

Did you see  Lisa Bongean's version of the APQ QAL posted in July? I was smitten with it. Burgoyne Surrounded has never grabbed me before like this one did. When browsing through some Miniature Quilts magazines one day, I came across a pattern for it in miniature (ETA--issue #11, Fall 1993), in red and white. I began toying with the idea of doing Lisa's colors in this miniature size. What clinched it was a Fat Eighth bundle that arrived one day from my sweet blogging friend, Julie at JulieKQuilts. It was blacks and golds. I put the magazine with the fabrics and it sat for a few weeks. As I have been doing some repetitive, boring piecing lately (still putting star points on my Garden Maze sashing), I wanted something fun as a leader/ender. This little quilt fit the bill. I have these two blocks made so far. It doesn't go together very quickly, but it isn't hard.
The hardest part is that the directions are for a red/white quilt, so I have to sub the black for the white, and then figure out if I am needing to sub the tan or the gold for the part that says "red".
I will be doing 12 blocks, using 6 different blacks to make two blocks each. The tan will all be the same throughout, and the gold/oranges will be scrappy.
Each block will finish at 3 3/4". Aren't they cute?
I've had lots of questions about how I make the mini quilts. I am no expert--many of you have made them far longer than I have. But for those of you who are like I was two years ago when I was first dabbling in minis, I will share a few tips.

Foundation paper piecing yields very accurate results, but I won't be addressing that method here. I still don't like removing the papers, but I use this method often for minis, because it is so precise.

When NOT using foundation piecing, here are some of the things I do.

Mini Quilt Tips

1. Make sure you are sewing with an accurate 1/4" seam. Being one or two threads off can make an obvious difference when dealing with such tiny pieces.

2. Pin profusely! I am not one who generally pins things together before sewing when working on large quilts, but I am completely opposite with minis. Keeping pieces perfectly matched up as you sew is critical with little blocks. I use slim, glass-headed pins, and I actually sew over them much of the time.

Which brings me to my next tip...

3. Slow down! If you are a speed demon, this may be difficult for you, but sewing at a slower rate allows you to maintain control and keep the seams straight. This is so much more obvious when going small. It also allows you to sew over slim pins, which keeps seams matched up.

4. Press consistently. With larger quilts I often just finger press my seams until I get a block finished, but with these small pieces, they don't finger press very well. Sometimes it even takes a damp press cloth with the hot iron to get a seam to flatten.

5. Square up each of the units as you go. If you are making HSTs or 4-patches, or 9-patches, etc., to go into blocks, square them up before assembling the blocks. Again, if you are off a thread or two it can make a big difference in little blocks. Where possible, I make the units a little larger and trim them down. This works great for HSTs and 4-patch blocks, but not so much for 9-patch blocks.

6. Trim seams where needed. For many patterns I leave my seams at 1/4", but when working with very tiny pieces (like the 3/4" 9-patch blocks above), the 1/4" seams in the middle of the block have nowhere to go if they stay 1/4". They just pile up in the back and create bulk. In such a case, I trim them to 1/8" as I go. Some people just sew 1/8" seams, but I find that more difficult to keep even.

7. Even if you take all of these precautions, be prepared for a little bit of wonkiness--and embrace it! When working on a small scale, every wobble will show, but it is part of the charm of tiny quilts.

8. Keep your binding small to keep it as close to scale as possible, and don't use the double fold--too much bulk. I cut my binding strips to 1", sew them to the front of my quilt with a hair under a 1/4" seam, and fold it under on the back side and stitch down by hand. It is a very snug fit to get it around to cover the stitching line on the back. I use binding clips on large quilts, but on my minis I pin it down with the slim glass-head pins to keep the binding precisely in place--especially on the corners. This little quilt (the squares are each 1") has the binding sewn on the front and pinned down on the back, ready for hand stitching.

9. One last thing, many miniature quilt makers like to press their seams open to lessen bulk. Before doing so, consider how you want to quilt the pattern. If you want to truly stitch-in-the-ditch, you will not want to press your seams open, or you will just be stitching over your threads--there isn't really a ditch if the seams have been pressed open. If you SITD by stitching just to the side of the seam, it won't be an issue.

If you have any other tips about sewing in miniature, I'd love to have you share them in the comment section.

(ETA--tips below about needle, thread, and stitch length are worth noting. I haven't been one to change needle size, though I should give it a whirl. I know many people do use a smaller than normal needle. I generally use Aurifil 2-ply, 50 wt thread. It is fine and strong and doesn't lay heavily in the seams. I have used the Mettler thread mentioned, too, but I do seem to get more lint with Mettler threads. My stitch length is set at 2 as well. Thanks for sharing your tips, Tina W.)

I've added another page to the tabs at the top. I've had many questions about the way I did my yardstick gallery, so I've made a page showing my method, and linked to Ann Hermes' blog page where the idea was spawned. I don't do mine exactly like hers, so you can see the two methods, if you are interested,  and decide what works for you. Have you a favorite method for hanging small quilts?

DH is camping with scouts tonight, so it is a late night blogging and sewing for me.
Until next time,
Janet O.

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