Museum Quilt Guild Challenge

“Fuchsias in Bloom”

Every January the quilt guild I belong to has a challenge. The challenge this year was called “Show Us Your Best Blooms”. All the participants were given a piece of the same fabric which had to be used somewhere in the quilt. In my wall-hanging it is the white fabric with the small blue flowers that is in the body of the pieced basket.

The pattern I chose is from a book entitled Grandmother’s Garden Quilt by Eleanor Burns and her sister, Patricia Knoechel. It has over a dozen different flower blocks with directions for both flat applique as well as 3-D applique methods for making the flowers. I remember buying it shortly after I had begun learning to quilt 15 years ago. I was mesmerized by the various flowers and all the different techniques to make each one. As fascinated as I was with the 3-D flowers in this book, I never made any of them until this challenge.

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The pink parts are made of tubes of fabric sewn right sides together, flipped right side out, folded in half, and tucked underneath the purple tops.

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The purple tops of the flowers are made by sewing 2 pieces of fabric right sides together, cutting a hole in the middle of the back, flipping it right side out, and stuffing with a small amount of cotton. The green stems and black pistals are hand stitched using DMC #5 Pearl Cotton

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I really enjoyed doing the quilting on this piece. I originally thought I would just do free-motion leaves all over the whole block, but when I finished the piecing and applique, I didn’t think that would add anything to the wall-hanging. The quilts that I like the most have quilting that enhances the piecing or applique. For a bed quilt, the quilting serves to keep the batting from clumping when you wash it, so it is functional as well as being an opportunity to add another artistic element. However, a small art quilt won’t get washed very often, so the quilting is purely artistic.

You can see “Fuchsias in Bloom” as well as all the entries in the challenge on display at the Richmond Library in Batavia, NY during the month of February. The quilts are being put up on February 2nd and will remain on display until March. I was unable to attend our monthly meeting this month to see the entries when they were turned in, so I am looking forward to going to see the display at the library myself.

For those of you who are pondering the quote from the last post, it’s from the television show The Honeymooners. “Pins and needles, needles and pins. A happy man is a man that grins.” is a phrase that Ralph Kramden (played by Jackie Gleason) is supposed to say to calm himself. If memory serves me, he has trouble getting it right and I’m not sure it had the calming effect that was intended.

Things that make me smile:

  • Participating in a challenge. I’m always amazed to see how different all the entries are.
  • Finishing a project more than 24 hours before it is due! This is the first time in 4 years that I didn’t take a vacation day (or two) to finish a challenge. On more than 1 occasion someone else has had to drive so that I could stitch the label on a project in the car. I know I’m not alone in the last minute crunch.
  • A day in the country!

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Let’s go spread some sunshine!

-Melanie

More Christmas Quilt Guild Exchanges

Cool Caddy from Kathi!

Cool Caddy from Kathi!

I love this cool bag that my friend Kathi made for me for our guild’s Secret Santa exchange! The fabric is beautiful. The photos just don’t do it justice.
Secret Sister Santa close-upKathi quilted the fabric using a serpentine stitch with her walking foot. I think it was a technique she learned in a Craftsy class. The hand-stitching is a wonderful accent. She made the straps adjustable so I could decide the strap length for myself.

Our guild has around 100 members. Not all of them participate in the exchange at Christmas. Some years we’ve done a Secret Santa exchange where we knew who we were making something for and some years we just make a gift not knowing who will receive it. Oddly enough, I have been the happy recipient of Kathi’s work on more than 1 occasion.

Needle case by Kathi

Needle case by Kathi

A few years back I received this cute needle case from Kathi in an exchange. I think she said she made it from a towel. She hand stitched the outlines on the cherries and leaves. Inside she put 2 pockes in it and a couple pieces of felt to store pins and needles. A pretty red ribbon keeps it tied closed.

I can’t help but think of a quote from a favorite t.v. show as I look at the contents:

needle case inside view

“Pins and needles. Needles and pins. A happy man is a man that grins.”

Do you have any idea what character on what show said those words? Think about it and I’ll reveal the answer in my next post.

Things that make me smile:

  • Seeing retirees and hearing how they are enjoying life! (This weekend I got to see my boss from 22 years ago and his wife. Even though they are parishioners at my church I usually only see them once or twice a year at fundraisers for local charities)
  • Having breakfast for dinner
  • Hibernating in the sewing room

Let’s go spread some sunshine!

-Melanie

Owl Be Home for Christmas

The Museum Quilt Guild which I belong to did a Secret Santa exchange once again this year.  I couldn’t post any pictures before the meeting, so here is what I made for my friend Donna, whose name I was happy to get.

Owl Be Home for Christmas

Owl Be Home for Christmas

I found this delightful pattern by Cherry Blossoms Quilting at Patchwork Garden Quilt Shop in East Amherst, NY.

Owl Be Home... close up

Owl Be Home… close-up

I used white fleece for the cap trim and the ball on the end of the cap.

Owl Be Home... another close-up

Owl Be Home… another close-up

I just loved the snow covered tree limb and the holly almost as much as the owl.

We are asked to list colors and a flavor we like when we sign up for the Secret Santa. Donna listed red and green as her colors and peppermint her flavor.

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Interesting panel … check out the peppermint in the top corner

 

When I started digging in my stash I found this interesting panel with ribbon candy and peppermint in my stash. Initially I had thought I could somehow use the red as a border because there were light blue splotches in it that would tie in to the background and still give me the red that I wanted. Along comes my mom and she suggested that I fussy cut the mint to use as the tummy of the owl. It’s amazing how two people can look at the same fabric and see two completely different uses for it in the same project! (The older I get, the easier it is to admit that mom was right, just don’t tell her I said so.)

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looking for just the right area to fussy cut

 

 

 

The pattern was done using the raw edge applique techinque. I placed the fusible web on top of the fabric to see if I could find a mint that I liked. If you try this but find that you can’t see through the fusible web very well, then use a light box if you have one. When you find the area you want to use, be sure to iron the fusible web to the back of the fabric, cut on the drawn line, peel the paper off, fuse down, and stitch!

Things that make me smile:

  • Quilting with my mom
  • Chocolate truffles
  • Exchanging clothes I received as a Christmas gift for a smaller size (it doesn’t happen often!)

Let’s go spread some sunshine!

-Melanie

P.S. Check back soon. My next post will show the beautiful bag my friend Kathi gave me in the Secret Santa exchange!

A New Year’s Day Reflection on My First “Quilt”

 

Do You See What I See? - my first quilt

Do You See What I See?

As one year ends and another year begins we tend to look over the past year to see what we’ve accomplished. This year I find myself looking back more than just one year to my early quilting days.  As we were getting out the Christmas decorations this year, I came across this wall hanging. I’m pretty sure this is my first attempt at “quilting”. Some people probably wonder why I would keep this disaster, much less hang it in my gallery.

It’s actually only a quilt in the sense that there are 2 layers of fabric with batting in between held together with thread. None of it is pieced. It’s nothing more than a panel that I bought from a large, well-known chain fabric store. I hadn’t taken any classes. I didn’t even know what “free-motion quilting” was, much less how to do it. I stitched on the lines as best as I could by machine and did some hand-stitching too. And the binding… well, I’ll just let you see for yourself…

My first binding...

My first binding… circa 1998

 

I think the words awful and disgraceful will suffice for my first attempt at binding. I’ve thought about replacing the binding, but really, after this many years, it’s kind of nice to see where I started. I share it with you to give new quilters hope and to give seasoned, veteran quilters a good laugh. It really is pitiful. But, the point is that I didn’t give up.

My binding in 2014

 

 

 

Now, more than 15 years later, I’ve learned to do binding both by machine and by hand. I really prefer to do hand work, if you are short on time, you can do it on the machine and still get great results. The binding in this photo was stitched on the back using a straight stitch and then stitched on the front using a serpentine stitch.

If you ever doubt that your quilting has improved, just take a look at your early work.

I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year! May you and your families be blessed with good health, much prosperity and happiness, and may you have plenty of time for quilting in 2015! Thanks for checking out my blog. Be sure to check back every Sunday for my weekly posts.

Things that make me smile:

  • Spending the holidays with family and friends
  • Teaching my mom quilting (She’s taught me so much in life, that’s it’s nice to be able to teach her for a change.)
  • Singing Christmas carols

Let’s go spread some sunshine!

-Melanie