Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Asilomar 2016 - Ann Shaw

I went to Asilomar Conference Grounds again this year to attend Empty Spools Quilting Seminars to attend Ann Shaw's class.  She teaches the Ruth McDowell style of quilt-making, as Ruth is no longer teaching.  I wasn't familiar at all with this style, although I had heard of Ruth McDowell.  I looked at the quilts on Ann's website.  Lots of animal quilts using lots of little pieces of different printed fabrics as a sort of collage.  Looked pretty interesting.

There I was, in my studio, packing up all my things for this class.  I had the class supply list that Ann had furnished, which had the {helpful} suggestion to bring LOTS of fabric--all different colors and prints.  But no solids.  At least I could rule out the solids!  I was checking things off the list, and getting down to the bottom when I realized that there was no fusible listed.  I double checked the list, but found no fusible required.  I thought maybe Ann had her own brand of fusible that she wanted us to use, and would furnish it for us.  

Boy, was I surprised when I got to class!  I saw Ann's quilts up close--beautiful, by the way--and heard her introductory remarks about making these quilts.  And then I realized that we were expected to actually sew together all these little blankey-blank tiny pieces!  I couldn't believe it!

Ann Shaw, instructor at Asilomar/Empty Spools.

Above is a photo of Ann.  Not the best picture, but we'll call it an action shot.

My original photo of California Poppies.
After a long process, I finally ended up with the pattern that you see below.  We traced our original photo onto tissue paper, divided it into sections and sub-divided it into pattern pieces for every little color change.  Each section, no matter how tiny, was numbered A-1, A-2, B-1, B-2, etc, etc.  Enlarged it by 300%, traced the pattern onto freezer paper, and ready to use templates.

Here is a close-up of part of my pattern.  You can see the letter-number labels.  We also drew many, many hash marks along each seam line so everything would line up ok when we got to the sewing.

Now I'll take a little time out from this boring pattern stuff to show you some photos of my classmates' work.

This cute little dog was made as a memorial quilt.

This woman from Colorado was building a gorgeous cactus.

A very wise owl. 

This woman had a lovely photo of a mama and baby elephant.

I had to add another close-up of the elephant quilt because it is just so stinkin' cute!

And this is the daughter of one of my tablemates.  It's amazing how life-like it looks with just a few pieces depicting the actual person.

Now, back to work.  After two full days of work on paper at our tables, we were finally able to touch some fabric!  We needed A Lot Of Fabric Pieces to make these quilts.  So we traded around the classroom.  You might hear, "Who has a lime green?"  There would be several answers and the person in need would try a few different fabrics, then choose one and be given a piece of the fabric.  Quilters are always eager to share fabric, it seems to me.

Here is a shot of just part of our table, where fabrics are spilling over each other.

This shows my design wall with my freezer paper pattern templates.  I've chosen some yellows, and oranges and green stems.  As the freezer paper gets cut out on the pattern lines, each piece is ironed onto the back of our chosen fabric.  Then we added a 1/4" all around and cut the fabric so we had our seam allowances.

This is where I'm starting to audition fabrics for the background and border.  I thought about greens for the background (after all, it is a flower growing in my yard), but that didn't jump out to me as the perfect solution.

Then I tried these bright blues and really liked that combination with the yellows.  And the bright yellow for the border will make this a sunshiny quilt.

Here I have it almost completely mocked up into how it will look finished.  Each of these pieces is pinned separately onto the design wall.

I'll keep you informed as I make progress on this.  By the way, my sewing machine stayed in my car the whole time.  Ann had told us to bring them, but that we might not use them.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Aprons for the Bakers

I recently sewed some new aprons for Margaret at Two Fish Baking Company.  It seems that several of the employees there are also "height challenged."  The aprons I make have nice full bibs, but are not too long, so they work well for the under 5'5" set.

Playing around with different strap widths.

Product works well for baking pizza!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Spring Training 2016

MisterStitches and I took our (seems to be) annual road trip to Scottsdale, Arizona for Giants spring training.  We had a great drive down, listening to Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith.  You may have seen the old Alfred Hitchcock movie by the same name.  The movie was based on this book.  

The next day I took a jeep trip to the Sonora desert, a little ways outside of Scottsdale.  That was fun!  Hot and dusty, as one would expect.  I learned a lot about cacti and desert animals and desert life.

And of course, we went to baseball games.  We were able to go onfield before one game and watch the Giants take batting practice.  It was really cool to be on the field, so close to the players.

Brandon Crawford (on the right) is one of my favorite players, in addition to being one of the cutest!  Joe Panik isn't too bad either!

MissesStitches and Hunter Strickland.
I got to have my photo taken with Hunter Strickland, one of the relief pitchers.

MissesStitches and Mac Williamson
After the next game we got to go on the field again, and I had my photo taken with Mac Williamson.    He also autographed my baseball hat.  Pretty nice guy.

With all this time in the car, I was able to get some hand-sewing done.  I hand-sewed the binding on my president's quilt, a good job done.

I can only show you a glimpse of this project, as it is for our guild challenge show in May, and I'll show you the whole thing then.  I was doing needle turn appliqué on this piece.

And here are a few Christmas ornaments that I made.  While at home, I did the pre-work of sewing two circles together.  Then in the car I sewed the openings shut, and folded up the sides to form these ornaments.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

My Portable Ironing Board

This is a project that I've been wanting to make for a while now.  We had a small tv tray (is that what other people call them?!?) whose top had seen better days.   MisterStitches wanted to get rid of it, but I knew that I wanted to re-purpose it.

First of all, for my fabric I chose Whispering Grass by HarmonyArt.  Choosing the fabric did take a little thought.  I knew that I wanted a print, but nothing too bright.  Certainly not a red fabric which might bleed onto whatever I was ironing!  Whispering Grass, as are all of Harmony's fabrics, is organic, and it's such a pleasant print.

I used one layer of batting and one layer of Insulbrite to cushion the fabric.  I simply cut the fabric and both battings a few inches bigger than the tray.  Then it was time to call in the staple gun!  I started by stapling in the middle of one side, then stretching the fabric tight and stapling in the middle of the opposite side.  Repeated for the other two sides, then I stapled all around the edges.  It was important to keep the fabric stretched while I was doing this.

I just did a sloppy sort of miter at the corners.  It did the trick!

The bottom of the tray is not going to win any beauty prizes.  No finished edges.  Uneven edges.  Questionable corner treatment.  But, ask me if I care!!

I love my new little ironing table.  I took it to our guild retreat with me in February and got lots of compliments on it.  In the past I've always taken my small ironing surface with me to classes, etc.  It works fine, but this way I can free up a little bit more of my table space.  Besides, it's very pretty!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Quilt of Valor

Last summer/fall I sewed this quilt top for a Quilt of Valor.  It was inspired by a picture I saw in a quilt magazine.  Someone's new fabric line, I think.  I started with 10" squares, laid one on top of another and free-hand rotary cut a gentle curve through the middle.

Then I switched around the two halves and sewed them back together.  It was a fun method for making blocks.

Here it is with two borders.

When I was ready to sandwich it, KittyStitches was right there to help me!

Now it's all sandwiched and KittyStitches is very happy with her work!

Friday, March 4, 2016

PPQG Retreat 2016

Our annual guild retreat was held during the second week of February.  We had a truly wonderful time.  There were 25 of us.  A good number. 

I wish I had taken more photos of our work room (aka sweat shop!).  We stay at the Dry Creek Inn Best Western in Healdsburg.  It is a very nice hotel with great amenities and employees.  This is the 5th or 6th year we have been here and we love it.  Our workroom is a large conference room (above).  Each person has a long table to work on.  They provide irons and ironing boards, and there is always coffee, tea, and water available.

A lot of great work gets done here, like this beautiful quilt above with purples and blues.  Lots of Harmony Art fabrics!

Here's a great triangle quilt top.

We even had live entertainment!  One of our quilters brought her guitar and played/sang wonderful music for us during our nightly happy hour.  Another quilter brought her ukulele and she provided us with lovely music, too.

I like this deceptively simple quilt with square patches, offset by uneven rail fence blocks.

Here's a real stunner.  Three-dimensional flours cascading down this beautiful quilt.

Here is some of what I worked on.  These are patches made with my father's shirts.  I was playing around with placing them on point on my design wall, just to see how it would work.

And I think this is the best idea I have ever had!  I asked every participant to bring two four-patch blocks with them, made with red, white, and/or blue fabric.  Each of the four squares measured 6" square to start with.  After we got to the retreat I gave them directions of make a disappearing four-patch.  Now they will all be put together to make a Quilt of Valor.  The above photo shows just some of the blocks made, but we have 49 altogether.  That will make a quilt top 6 blocks by 8 blocks, plus one on the back for the label.