quilting

  • Tis the Season!

    by Sarah Curry

    YEEEEE-HAH!  Major League pitchers and catchers arrive today for spring training!  Now, what does that have to do with quilting, you ask?  Well, it happened this way.

    I’ve been a rabid baseball fan since I was 7 years old.  And it was FINE with my daddy (who was a 4-letter jock in high school and loved all sports, for all his life) when I showed serious “tomboy” tendencies.  And so, Daddy played catch with me.  And showed me how to “get down on” a ground ball, and even how to bunt.  Back then, TV barely existed, and only for rich folks – but Daddy and I listened to the Baseball Game of the Week on the radio every Saturday afternoon.  In 1949, a lot of the broadcast games involved the New York Yankees – they were doing pretty well.  Maybe that’s why a little girl in Hobbs, New Mexico fell in love with the Yankees.  And I have no other reason to explain my lifelong love of “TTELTH” (The Team Everybody Loves to Hate   ).

    Back then, Little League didn’t exist (especially for us “delicate” girls), but I played a lot of street ball, and sandlot baseball, and pickup softball, and was even in a “mushball” league one summer while I was in law school.  I was a good infielder, a good hitter (never could hit for power, but I had a “good eye”, and nearly always got on base).  But unfortunately, my kids refused even to consider baseball, so I froze my butt off in a hockey rink for 11 years, grumblin’ and cussin’, and wishing to “have a catch” with my boys in the summertime.  Oh, well.

     

    In ’96 or so, I discovered the quilting newsgroup, RCTQ (which stands for rec.crafts.textiles.quilting), and after “lurking” for less than 24 hours, began to tell my stories there, and just chat about stuff other than bias binding and perfect corners.  That same year, Derek Jeter was a rookie.  I don’t remember how the subject came up, but one of the quilters near Seattle mentioned that the Mariners had a pretty good rookie, too.  We got into a little squabble about which was the better-lookin’ young shortstop, and when it turned out that my Yanks played Janet’s mariners the first game of the season, she said A-Rod et al would whup Jeter’s Yanks.  I suggested that she “put your fat quarter where your mouth is,” we shook virtual hands on the bet, and next thing we knew, the RCTQ quilters who were baseball fans came swarming out of the woodwork, wanting in on that action.

    Good grief.  There was a horde of them!  I had nothing to do with the mechanics of it (and was out-voted about the name – hmph), but out of that little snarl evolved the “Baseball Swap.”  Anyone can get in on it but for almost 25 years, we quilty baseball fans have picked a major league baseball team to back (one from each league if we wish).  We have a “Caller,” who announces things (including who’s playing who, today), and a “Statistician” who has designed a spreadsheet that figures out exactly who owes whom, for every single game of the MLB season.  EVERY SINGLE ONE.

    Squares

    Y’see, this isn’t really a “swap,” it’s a BET.  On every single game that’s played.  If my team beats your team today, you owe me one 6 ½” square of fabric.  If my team beats yours tomorrow, you owe me another.  If your team beats my Yanks tomorrow, it does NOT “work out in the wash.”  I owe you a square.  At the end of the regular season, the Statistician sends us the final stats, including what each person owes every other person.  She even sends labels we can print if we want to.  I bag up how many squares I owe (no duplicates in the baggies), put a label on a baggie to each person I owe.  Pack up the baggies (alphabetized) into a Tyvek Priority Mail bag and send them to the “Chucker”, who sets up paper bags and chucks the little baggies into the correct “bin,” then mails them all out to the individual “swappers.”

     

    We usually add a little “graft” (a fat quarter) into the bag for the three volunteers who do the work, often pay up some side-bets, add little prezzies like Cleveland Indians pencils (I still use mine), and what FUN it is, to open the “payoff” bag and find allll those little baggies of FABRIC!!!  And in all these years (I was the Chucker for several years, and got to see ALL the fabrics, not just the ones from Yankees’ opponents), I have seen only one duplicate in the squares.  Amazing.  Our Statistician hasn’t reported this year, but her figures show that we’ve “swapped” over ten THOUSAND yards of fabric over the years.  But best, we’ve swapped stories.

    Major League Baseball is about to begin again!  And while I like most all sports, baseball is this quilter’s game, and the Baseball Swap is a slurp of gravy.

    ...

    Our glorious guest blogger, Sarah Curry...

    "3d-generation quilter, 3d-generation grammarian/teacher, born and raised in Hobbs, NM. NMSU, twin sons (and when they started coming in litters, I was done with that sort of project), happily divorced since 1977, UNM Law School, civil litigation for nearly 20 years, now retired, 4 grandsons,  but still quilting – these days, almost exclusively from a legendary stash.  AllieCat and I grow old together, but she’s still an excellent “Quilt Inspector/Block Re-arranger”."

  • The Best of ...

    May is upon us!  And you know what they say about May, right?  April showers bring May flowers.  Blooming is one of the things our intrepid leader does best.  This month our own Patricia E. Ritter shares with us her "Best of ..." and her bio.  Her creative genius takes it roots in the world around her.  So, without much ado, we give you Patricia in her own words.

    I love you eyes by Zoey Zoey, Patricia's MVP

    Best quilting tool?  My imagination.  But it can also be my own worst enemy ... especially when I can't seem to execute what I imagine.

    Best inspiration?  Anything and everything ... from a trip to the hardware store to the pattern on a sheet of paper towels.  Design and patterns are all around us, and it's hard for me not to visualize them as quilts, applique or quilting designs.

    Diagonal Plaid by Patricia E. Ritter

    Best time to quilt?  Mornings.  I'm one of those crazy people (that you hate ;-) who loves waking up and getting started with their day.

    Best project ever?  Whatever project is next. I'm always evolving and always trying to think "outside the box", so my best project has yet to come.

    Best day off?  Hummmm ... this is a tough question.  I feel like I'm always "on", even when I'm sleeping.   I can't tell you how many times I've woken up from a dead sleep with a really cool idea. 

    Double Bubble by Patricia E. Ritter

    Best advice you ever received?  Strive to be the best at whatever you do. 

    Best advice you’ve ever given? When it comes to designing, don't "marry" your original idea.  You're only dating.  See where the design leads you before committing.

    Best road trip?  I don't think I can pick a best road trip.  I once drove from Florida to California and back, and that trip was amazing.  I also lived and worked overseas for 7 years and pretty much every weekend included a road trip that's worth noting.

    Best place to visit?  My house and studio ... LOL ... just ask any of my friends!

    Honeycomb by Patricia E. Ritter

    While pursuing her degree in Fine Arts, Patricia E. Ritter established her artistic voice as a ceramicist. Soon her talents expanded to include working with metals and bead work, and for the next 15 years she worked creatively and professionally as a jeweler and gallerist.

    Her relationship with quilting bloomed out of a need to strengthen her fine motor skills through needlework. With quilting, she found an art form that was simultaneously useful and ornamental. Her quilting experience quickly grew from dabbling on a domestic machine to acquiring her own longarm machine and sketching the pantographs she envisioned yet found did not exist.

    Inspired by the foliage and flowers within and around her native Miami, her original pantograph designs multiplied into a library of designs. It was a natural step to start a pantograph business, Urban Elementz, first selling to local quilt shops and soon after selling internationally online at her site www.urbanelementz.com.

    Now Urban Elementz's product line has expanded beyond pantographs to include original patterns, stencils, design boards, applique and fabric.  Patricia's multifaceted artistic experiences and entrepreneurial resolve ensure that Urban Elementz will continue to flourish alongside the ever-growing creativity of machine quilting.

    Vessel by Patricia E. Ritter

  • Spring Stash Cleaning

    by Valerie Smith

    Few things inspire panic like the disorganized stash of a fabric obsessed quilter. Whether doodling is your thing, tatting, or crochet, as a collective community, we all know that where there’s a sewer, crafter, or virtually any type of creative hobbyist: a supply of much needed accessories, gadgets, rulers, templates, and FABRIC must follow. We quilters know just how to hide, jam, shove, squeeze, tuck, and stuff our treasures into whatever sized space we may be fortunate enough to house it in. Some of us even have so many goodies tucked into that sacred space, our said treasures are literally overflowing into other parts of the house. If you find yourself overwhelmed with crafty clutter, then what follows may be of interest to your fabric collecting heart!

    Travel Project

    First, allow yourself to let go of your clutter anxiety. We all feel it from time to time, those pangs of guilt as we stand in the fabric store check-out line with a new basket full of must haves. We all are familiar with the “other room”, the one we often spend time dreaming up projects in. You know the one, that favorite back bedroom piled sky high with yard sale finds, fabric store sales, and the brand-new line from Moda that you just had to own, TODAY – yardage and precuts both. This is your sisterhood speaking (and your brotherhood too) – we sewers all have that room. We know it well. We love it. We spend hours daydreaming, rearranging, and adding to that room. It takes a little time and dedication to harness that creative tidal wave of a sewing room, but it can be done. Rest easy, and let’s tackle that tidying problem together.

    These days there are a multitude of stash busting and craft organizing systems around that can help eat up your overflowing fabric stash. With creativity, any space, big or small, can include an organized creative haven with which to work. But how do you keep from getting overwhelmed? What can we do to keep things neat yet at your fingertips ready for immediate use? What do we do to prevent the fabric mountain from migrating onto your sofa turning into a cozy new elevated cat bed? Well friends, you first need a plan. Think about the place that you have, the storage that can fit in that space, and how to most effectively utilize it. Take a walk through your local container store or even Wal-Mart and just see what is available to you in terms of storage. These days there are endless limits to our organizing needs, but if that is too overwhelming at this stage in your de-cluttering life, stick with simple. Plastic bins in various sizes and an area to stack them in. If you have a sewing table at all like mine, which is basically just a long eight by ten folding table with a cloth covering it, you can easily store organizing bins below.

    Bobbins

    Once your space is established, let’s get to sorting. Separate your fabric, notions, doodads, and thingamabobs into like piles. Head off into your sewing refuge and find an open place for fabric, thread, and notions – and establish a home for those items. I like to keep fabric in clear plastic bins so if my creative haven must for any reason move to say, the basement - then critters, spiders, and mold will be no match. What kind of bins you say? Well this girl likes options. I choose large bins for yardage, medium for cuts larger than a fat quarter, and both small and large bins for my teeny tiny scraps. The key here is to be flexible. Be willing to donate what you know you will not use or toss it in the bin until it is needed for a project. At times we may need to be a little ruthless with our stash. If it is outdated, donate it. Some may choose not to save the very smallest size scraps, and if you are ambitious like me you may appreciate onto them for “someday” scrap quilting. If you collect strings, those work well in a shoe box type of plastic bin so there is less folding, which means less ironing later. My first choice is always clear bins, for obvious reasons – I want to see the fabric! Not only will this inspire creativity, but it sure makes pulling colors for quilts easier! Occasionally it is good to go through that stored folded fabric and press it or re-fold it to prevent permanent creases, as well as color fading from uneven light exposure. Once a year is good for this refolding task, you can make it fun by declaring this your inspiring spring project. While we sewers love to be optimistic about the quantity of our production, however, very often at least some of that fabric will take a few years before making its way into the perfect project. Rotation and refolding are good habits to get into to preserve the longevity of those calicos and cottons.

    Cones of Thread

    A note on threads. My favorite way to store threads is on a shelf where I can see them. There is nothing like looking at a beautiful array of threads organized by color rather than tossed into a big box. If you are fortunate enough to store them in such a manner, I encourage you to choose one with a door to again prevent light exposure and dust accumulation. The next best place is a thread caddy. Generally, these are see through as well, and they prevent moisture or dust from damaging those precious threads.

    Trims and thingamabobs are a little different. Those items are better tucked off into opaque boxes with neat clean labels. Trims can get messy once you collect a few and so out of sight and out of mind is the idea.  Better neat and tidy out of mind so you aren’t off imagining the mess in your trim box. You can get fancy here when it comes to labeling if you like, but I tend to stick to a tried and true stand by – a black sharpie and blank side of an index card. If I decide I need that bin to house something different in the future, no harm no foul. I can easily repurpose the container.

    Rulers

    Rulers are always tricky for storage, but a couple of solutions have worked well for me over the years. Large bins from a three-tier rolling storage organizer is wonderful, especially if you are working at a long arm and using multiple rulers. Your rolling bin can roll right along with you down the length of the long arm machine. If your ruler stash is still modest and in the process of being built, a small three tier shelving united with clear drawers is another great solution.

    The key to maintaining organization is really a small amount of time dedicated daily or weekly to tidying. While often overwhelming at the thought, dedicating just 10-15 minutes of “clean-up” time into each project day  you plan to prevent the clutter from becoming overwhelming can work wonders. Make it habit so you do not feel any loss of sewing time. Above all else, take time to enjoy the organizing process! Let that color sorting and time spent playing in the sewing room add to your creative experience, even use it as the catalyst for creating something entirely new with items you forgot you already had!

    ...

    Valerie Smith is an Urban Elementz pantograph designer who lives in northeast Ohio on the coast of Lake Eerie.

  • Layer Cake Rag Quilt

    by Heather Spence

    Okay, I understand that the title may not be entirely inspiring.  At least you'll know exactly what you're making!!  :D

    A couple of thoughts about rag quilts:

    • They are very low on the perfection scale.  Because all the seams are on the outside of the quilt you don't really need to worry about whether or not seams are matching or even if the stitching is perfect.
    • In my opinion, the most time consuming part of making rag quilts is the cutting.
    • Rag quilts are super easy and great for beginners.
    • Great for scrap fabric and batting (can we please get an amen to that??)
    • The 1/2" seam allowance is super important.

    With that out of the way let's get started!  (oh ... you can also skip straight to the bottom of the post for the PDF version of the pattern.)

    Quilt Size:  48" x 56"

    Great size for snuggling under on the couch.  A little big for a lap quilt.

    Fabric:

    I used Little Ruby Flannels by Bonnie & Camille for Moda.

    You'll need:

    • 1 Layer Cake or (42) 10" x 10" squares
    • 3 yards backing of 44/45" fabric or 2 yards of Minkee (which is, generally 60" wide)
    • 1 1/2 yards 90" wide batting from a roll or twin size package ... or leftovers!  I used scrap batting for my quilt.

    Before cutting:

    • Separate the Layer Cake into two piles of 21 fabrics each.  One pile will be predominately one color (i chose red), which will be the large squares, and the other pile will be a mixture of all the other colors, which will be for the small squares.

    Cutting Instructions:

    Trim the squares that will stay large to 9" by taking 1" off of two sides that run perpendicular to each other.  Set them aside.  (you can discard the extras or make something out of them ... totally up to you.)  As a side note:  Do not try and cut the entire pile of 10" squares at the same time. I stacked 3 on top of each other and, as this is low perfection, didn't worry too much if they didn't line up perfectly.

    • Cut the other 21 squares in half vertically and horizontally to make eighty four 5" squares.

    From your backing fabric:

    • Cut WOF (width of fabric) six 9" strips.
    • Sub-cut into twenty-one 9" squares.

    Then:

    • Cut WOF eleven 5" strips of fabric
    • Sub-cut into eighty-four 5" squares

    Then from batting:

    • Cut five 8" strips
    • Sub-cut into twenty-one 8" squares
    • Cut eleven 4" strips
    • Sub-cut eighty-four 4" squares

    Done??  Excellent!  Let's get on to some sewing.

    1)  Lay one backing square with right (printed) side down.

    2)  Next center one square of batting on top of the backing square.

    3)  Lay one Layer Cake square on top of the batting, lining up the corners and edges with the backing square.  It's totally fine if it's too big or doesn't match up perfectly.  Just do the best you can.  Remember:  Low Perfection Quilt!

    4)  Sew diagonally from one corner to opposite corner.  Hint:  If the corners of your fabric are pushed down into the machine by the needle try running a piece of scrap fabric folded in your half through the machine first.  Do not cut it off!  This helps keep a tension on the fabrics and minimizes problems.

    5)  This a great time to chain piece.  Chain piecing is when you don't cut the threads between the pieces that you've sewn.  You'll have a really long chain of quilt blocks.

    6)  Once you've stitched all the squares in one direction, clip the chain apart, turn the blocks and stitch the other direction creating an X on the block.  Hint:  You may find the presser foot pushing the fabric towards you causing a pucker to happen at the previous stitching line.  I counter this by gently pushing the fabric back under the presser foot.

    7)  Repeat steps #1 through #6 with the large squares.  You should have eighty-four 5" blocks and twenty-one 9" blocks.

    8)  At this point, depending on what level of I-Just-Want-To-Finish-This-Quilt you are at, you can choose to square up the blocks to the backing squares. 

    9)  Next sort the little squares into the different colors.  My piles were blue, pink and green.  And ... there's no picture.  How I missed this I'm not entirely sure ... so imagine three piles.  One pile will be the bigger than the rest, in this case it was the blue pile.

    10)  Using the layout on the pattern (PDF at the bottom of the page) I decided to use the blues as my dark squares and the green and pink squares as my cream squares.  Pair one medium and one dark (in this case a green with a blue). 

    Layer Cake Rag Quilt Tutorial

    Hint:  Due to the nature of Layer Cakes there is an extremely high chance of a wide variety of colors...this is good!  It lends to the scrappy nature of these quilts.  Go with the flow of it and try not to get hung up on what will look good where.  The most important part is the contrast between light and dark so be consistent!

    11)  Put your two squares together with backings touching.  Line up the edges and the corners ...

    13)  Sew down the side using a 1/2" seam allowance.  Did you get that??  1/2" SEAM ALLOWANCE.  That's super important.

    14)  Repeat #11 through #13 with remaining green/blue and pink/blue squares.

    15)  Match two pairs turning the second pair so the blues are opposite of each other.

    16)  With backing sides together, match center seams by folding them opposite of each other.  Butt them up right next to each other.  Pin if you need to.  Sew according to step 13 with a 1/2" seam allowance.

    17)  Open that bad boy up!  Should look something like mine with those seams standing up for the whole world to see.  :D

    18)  Repeat #15 through #17 until all four patches are completed.  (btw ... you're more than half way finished!  congratulations!!)  You should have 21 four-patches.

    Take a moment ... get something to drink.  Stretch.  We're in the home stretch with the sewing but it's the perfect time to move a bit.

    Okay.  Ready??  Now we're going to make rows:

    19)  Lay out your blocks. Be sure to alternate one large square with one four-patch with six blocks in each row.  Make 7 rows.

    20)  Sew the the blocks together following steps #12 and #13.

    21)  Sew rows together following step #16 where seam allowances match up.  I like to sew a completed row to the rest of the quilt when I'm done sewing it together.  Gives me the feeling of progress as I move down the quilt!

    22)  Once all the rows are sewn together sew around the outside edge of the quilt with a 1/2" seam allowance.

    23)  I open up the seams as I come to them.

    24)  Don't forget to back-stitch at the beginning and end of each side of the quilt!

    Phew!  Almost.  Done.  I guess if you really wanted to not go any further you'd have a wonderful quilt but ... BUT ... it just wouldn't be finished.  Right??

    Okay ... grab your scissors.  But not any old scissors!  Spring loaded scissors are your best bet.  Though my very favorite scissors for rag quilts?  The Kai 5150 6-inch Rag Quilt Scissors.  Like cutting through butter.  I promise.

    25)  Now ... all those 1/2" seam allowances ... you are going to start clipping them.

    I keep my sections about 1/2" so they are square'ish.

    What NOT to cut:

    • The four actual corners of the quilt.  Don't do that.  Not good.
    • Any stitching lines.  Yeah ... don't do that either.  Really not good.
    • The quilt top fabric itself (it is possible to accidentally catch some of it when clipping).  That's not good either.

    What to clip:

    • The outside edges ... all four
    • All the seams that are sticking up

    26)  When you come to a seam that is sewn open, clip one side ...

    then clip on the other side ...

    and when the seam stands up continue clipping 1/2" sections until the next intersection.

    27)  I start at the top edge and work along each row until the row is finished.  Inevitably I miss a section.  But it's fine ... it's simple to clip it later (the wonderful part of having the seams outside the quilt).

    28)  When it's all cut (but not yet washed) it'll look like this.

    Thoughts on washing ... rag quilts create a huge amount of lint so I recommend that you take it to a laundromat to wash it the first time, especially if it's a larger quilt.

    29)  Throw it in the washing machine on regular cycle with whatever soap you use. LOTS of little threads will be in your machine when the cycle is done so be sure to wipe it out really good.

    30) Once washed put into the dryer.  Regular heat. BEWARE!  The lint trap will be super full of lint so change it.  (of course ... my quilt is flannel so there was an exceptional amount of lint ... if you use regular cotton quilting fabric you won't have nearly as much lint.)

    And here it is!!  All soft and warm and finished!

    Layer Cake Rag Quilt Tutorial

    You can get the downloadable PDF version here.

    Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you learned something new and enjoy the pattern.

    xo,

    ~ h

  • The Best of ...

    Welcome back to our new series called The Best Of ... !

    Every month we'll introduce to  you one of our designers, and they'll share their very Best's.  This March are thrilled to acquaint you with, Leisha Farnsworth and her "best of"!

    Leisha Farnsworth
    Best Quilting Tool ...
    My favorite quilting tool is my own circle set rulers, called Circle2, which come in a set of 6.
    Best Inspiration ...
    I get inspired everywhere I look. From color to texture to fabrics to patterns, inspiration is out there if you look for it.
    Best time to quilt ...

    I would love to only quilt during the day and be done...however evenings after dinner, I get the most uninterrupted work done.

    Best project ever ...

    I’m working on a hexagon flower quilt using the English paper piecing method, which I started back in the summer of 2015.  I have recently finished everything but the edge pieces.  Now it’s time to lay it out and sew the flowers together.
    Best Day Off ...
    I love Sunday’s every week.  I don’t work on Sunday’s so I can recharge by going to church and spending time with my family, which helps me continue to do what I love.
    Best advice I’ve ever been given ...
    Take care of yourself, so you can give to those who need you.  And do be afraid of using the word “no”.
    Best advice I can give ...
    Don’t let someone ... anyone ... tell you that you can’t do something.  If you have dreams, go for them!  Figure out what you need to do, to make them a possibility.  If it gets hard or you fail, don’t give up.
    Best Road Trip ...
    One of my favorite road trips was from northern Virginia (where I was living at the time), to upstate New York, to Boston, to New York City, and then back home.
    Best thing about quilting ...
    For me the most rewarding thing about quilting is seeing how much my clients love the quilts they made, after they are quilted.
    Best Place to Visit ...
    I’ve visited places all over the USA and a few places outside of the country... however my all time favorite place would be at a lake that is about an hour away from where I live.

    Birchwood Pantograph by Patricia E. Ritter and Leisha Farnsworth

    Although Leisha has been sewing since she was a child, her love for making quilts started in her early 20's.  In the summer of 2005, she started machine quilting her own quilts.  Soon the word got out and she started quilting for others.  In 2014 Leisha started co-designing paper and digital machine quilting designs, with Patricia Ritter from Urban Elementz, which has been an incredible opportunity.  Even with 13+ years of machine quilting experience, she still loves learning new things.
    Leisha has also taught one on one and group machine quilting classes, and loves teaching her students the techniques that have helped her in her machine quilting career.  She recently released her own circle ruler set of 6, called "Circle2".
    While quilting is her passion, she also enjoys water skiing, playing the piano, cooking, and spending time with her family.  She has 10 nieces and nephews, and being their aunt is her very favorite thing.  Leisha lives in beautiful Cache Valley, Utah, and thanks God for the talents He has blessed her with.  She is excited to see what comes next.  Her three best selling pantographs are Marmalade, Birchwood and Bubble Wrap - Double Take.
    *NOTE:  You can find Leisha's ruler's on her website quiltingit.com.
    Marmalade Pantograph by Patricia E. Ritter and Leisha Farnsworth
  • Hooked - How did y'all get here?

    by Sarah Curry

    Sarah Curry

    I don’t mean Here-here – I mean Quilty-here –Hooked-here; totally awash in books (usually bought for the one quilt with those “oooh” colors, teeny-tiny patches, and curves and angles inside); astonished and embarrassed at how those four Fat Quarters of fabric you bought that said, “Oooooh” apparently bred like rabbits (like those old wire coat hangers used to do) during the night, and you suddenly have a Stash.  Hooh, boy. 

    I guess I got the Q-gene from both sides, because both my maternal and paternal grandmothers were quilters – as was my mama before me. Mama’s mother (Nana) was built like a Pouter Pigeon - soft to cuddle up to.  Little wire spectacles. A cardboard box in the closet that held kid-stuff – old jewelry, most of a deck of cards, battered pot lid. She baked with cinnamon. And she made quilts.  Completely UTILITARIAN quilts, made of men’s WOOLEN suits and all were rectangles and squares. And they were tied with red yarn. H-E-A-V-V-V-Y. 

    Grandma Curry, on the other hand, lived in an old Victorian house in West Texis (not a typo – I spell it like it’s pronounced).  I remember the gables, the wraparound porch, the gingerbread, the “hidden” rooms, and that “children are to be seen and not heard". Grandma Curry looked like the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz” (squinchy eyes, hook nose, thin lips), and as far as the grandkids were concerned she was just about that distant and scary.  She made “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” and “Lone Star” quilts with patches that were about the size of a nickel - finished.  All cut with scissors, hand-pieced, and hand-quilted. E-X-Q-U-I-S-I-T-E. 

    Mama was a quilter, too, although she didn’t really enjoy the cardboard-template-pencil-scissors routine.  And her sense of color wasn’t the best.  But she quilted. Also hand-pieced, and hand-quilted.  And WASHED those quilts, every weekend, with the sheets. Not one of her old quilts survived.  But they were definitely clean! 

    By the time my boys graduated from high school and went to college (thank gawdess!  I got’erdun!), I was SO-O-O-O ready to begin the next phase of my life (after a 48-hour nap). That's when Mama burst into the living room one afternoon, laden with all sorts of bags and suitcases and more bags and an ironing board and what looked suspiciously like one of Daddy’s old tackle boxes. Mama travelled like that. She had “discovered” the rotary cutter and mat and was READY to make a quilt for the “Sweet Darlin’ Angel Baby Boy” who didn’t yet have one. 

    So the next morning off we shot to the quilt shop. By noon, we found appropriate fabric for a 6-log “Rail Fence” (blues for a hockey player – no florals), with 1 ½” finished “logs".  What?  Can’t start yet?  Gotta wash the fabric (with salt & vinegar)?  Geez.  Press same.  I became the “cutter”.  Woo-HOO!  Lookit how FAST that is (still don’t understand what I’m doing, but that’s OK)!  As I cut strips (fast), Mama sewed (slowly – she insisted on PINNING every seam).  Then I pressed the strips (Mama was always behind, still pinning).  Then I cut some more.  Mama pinned and sewed.  I pressed and cut.  And had a WONDERFUL time! 

    Finally, about midnight, Mama lurched up and announced that I could quit cracking the damn’ bullwhip, ‘cause she was tired and going to bed, and she did.  I did not.  How COULD I?  The pattern was REALLY starting to show!!!!  YOWZA!!!!!  So, when Mama arose the next morning, bleary-eyed and demanding coffee, there was a finished quilt top laid out on the couch.  Every time she told the story, Mama never forgot to mention the fact that I had pressed those seams “everwhichaway, bless her heart.”  Hmph.   

    And I was hooked.  Beyond just “hooked,” I had bumbled onto the fourth passion of my life. I haven’t a clue how much money I’ve spent on that stash (from which I am working, these days, almost exclusively), or even how many quilts I’ve made.  I did make 6 (SIX!) “Rail Fence” quilts before I “graduated” to “Double Irish Chain.”  Made 6 of those before I “graduated” to another level, and I reckon I’ve averaged a quilt every 2-3 months for 30 years.  Yeah, it’s a Passion.   

    So. That’s how *I* got hooked.  Passionate.  How did YOU find quilting? 

    ...

    Our glorious guest blogger, Sarah Curry...

    "3d-generation quilter, 3d-generation grammarian/teacher, born and raised in Hobbs, NM. NMSU, twin sons (and when they started coming in litters, I was done with that sort of project), happily divorced since 1977, UNM Law School, civil litigation for nearly 20 years, now retired, 4 grandsons,  but still quilting – these days, almost exclusively from a legendary stash.  AllieCat and I grow old together, but she’s still an excellent “Quilt Inspector/Block Re-arranger”."

  • The Best Of ...

    Welcome to our new series called The Best Of ... !

    Every month we'll introduce to  you one of our designers, and they'll share their very Best's.  To kick off our first month, we are thrilled to acquaint you with, Valerie Smith and her "best of" list.

    Valerie Smith

     

      Best Quilting Tool: Seam Ripper. We all make mistakes!
       Best Inspiration: Quilt Shows!
       Best Time to Quilt: Early in the morning. I am an early bird and get my best work down 5 or 6 in the morning.
       Best Project Ever: Whatever I am working on at the time.
       Best Day Off: The day after a big "whoops". We all need breaks even from the things we love. Then get back to it!
       Best Advice You Ever Received: "That's nothing anyone on a horse galloping by would notice" - Gal from my old quilt guild.  Let up on your mistakes and enjoy your beautiful creation.
       Best Advice Ever Given: Do what brings you joy!
       Best Road Trip: Hmmm ... my best road trip is yet to come! I don't travel much with small children, but I did take a trip to Gatlinburg, TN.  That was a lot of fun.
       Best Thing About Quilting: You get something cozy when you're done.
       Best Place to Visit: The quilt shop!
    Valerie has been quilting for more than 30 years, and many of her designs have been published in national publications.  She lives in the northeast corner of Ohio, on the shores of Lake Eerie, with her husband and four children.  Two of her most popular pantographs designs are Lather, Rinse, Repeat and Deja Vu.
  • New Quilting Toy

    by Brian Partin

    One of the first things that drew me to quilting was appliqué. I remember seeing a very simple primitive quilt at the Dade County Youth Fair. It was a red plaid angel quilt, and each angel was made up of a heart body, round head and a halo. I wanted to buy the quilt, but I couldn’t afford it. I kept thinking, “I could make that”. After taking beginning quilting, an Appliqué class was next on my list, and yes, I did make that angel quilt.

    Ever since then, appliqué has been one of my favorite types of projects. It addresses my need to be creative better than anything else. The only down side is the length of time it takes to crank out an appliqué quilt as opposed to pretty much any other type of project. The holiday and season quilts that I want to make keep stacking up, and the time keeps slipping away. Not to mention the long list of family members and friends that think they deserve a quilt from me as well. Something had to give.

    Purchasing laser cut and pre-fused appliqué soon became my "go-to" for putting together an appliqué project. The precision cutting made the shapes clearly identifiable, and the project's a breeze to snap together. Just peel, place and press. I only wished that I could get them in exactly the size that I wanted for my project. And wouldn’t it be great if I could get them out of the fabric that I already own to match collections that I have already bought?

    Well, it turns out I can. Enter fabric cutting machines. These new cutting machines allow me to buy SVG files and cut the designs at home, using my very own fabric, in any size that the machine will cut. It did take a bit of a learning curve, but that is a part of the journey, isn’t it?

    My Quilting Toy by Brian Partin
    Here are a few things I've learned so far:

    1. Designs don't always open the size that is specified, but I can scale and rotate them anyway I want. Pretty cool ... right?

    2. I have to “select all” so that I can ungroup the design. This allows me to separate the components of the design so that I can cut the pieces from various fabrics. The machine also cuts better when the cutting is separated a bit from each piece.

    3. Since I am cutting the fabric face down, I want to flip the design to keep it facing the right direction and the lettering readable, if there is any.

    4. Any items that are showing on the "mat" will be cut. Those that I drag off the "mat" will not cut. I can drag off items now while they are the right size and cut them later in a different fabric. I just go back to the design after cutting and switch the items that I want to cut next.

    5. When I load my fabric on the mat, I place the right side of the fabric face down on the mat. Using a lot of pressure I hand press that fabric onto the mat to make sure it is flat. If it is loose it will get pulled up while cutting and make a mess. I have pre-fused the Steam-A-Seam II onto the back of the fabric, and make sure that it is freshly ironed and the paper backing is still tight on the fabric. I will lift the paper, and re-iron it flat if there are any creases in the paper that might catch on the cutting knife during cutting.

    6. I have read that some people soak their fabric in Terial Magic, available at Amazon or at your local quilt store, to stiffen the fabric, but I have yet to try it.

    My Quilting Toy by Brian Partin

    Who knew that after quilting for 27 years that I'd find something totally new to learn? And it's a good thing because I think learning new things makes life more interesting, and it also makes me more interesting too.

  • Snip! Snip!

     

    By Sarah Curry

    They’re still there, dammit – a veritable herd of chain-pieced bias squares, draped across the ironing board, waiting to be clipped apart, pressed and trimmed into perfect 2 ½” squares. They glare at me as I pass through the sewin’ room on the way to the bathroom, like a bunch of sullen toddlers who’ve been put in time out.

    This is supposed to be a quilt for my younger Seattle grandson, soon enough a teenager. When I asked about fabric colors for his next quilt, Tyler wanted teal and hot pink. HUH? HOT PINK?! Visions of go-go boots and Laugh-In danced in my head as I processed the notion of a couple of big ol’ hairy-legged jocks wanting hot pink in a high school/college quilt. I couldn’t process it until I learned that the Adidas athletic shoe company had selected hot pink as its color of the year. Oh. Well then, teal and hot pink it is.

    I think I’m one of the few rare exceptions who don’t even think about starting a quilt specifically for someone.

    I begin a quilt just to see what develops.

    I like the old patterns with the fun names, like hovering hawks, log cabin, and puss in a corner - frankly, those patterns don’t have anything smaller than a 45-degree angle.  Those fancy ones are lovely to look at, but I cuss too often and easily as it is and I don’t want to work that hard. I am a big fan of the scrappy look and with a lusciously legendary stash, I have a nice variety to pull from.

     

    When I begin a quilt, I generally drag all the purples (or whatever color I’m feeling that day) off the shelf and start pressing, chopping, and dicing. I get completely besotted as the pattern and colors mesh together and become real. Somewhere along the process, the quilt decides how big it’s going to be, gives itself a name, and chooses to whom it wants to belong. What’s weird is that 95% of my quilts have that sort of beginning. Am I the only one?

    Another irking delay in this quilts progress is that I can’t stand as long to press, cut, chop and dice; can’t sit as long to do some mindless chain-piecing; I have a lot more trouble getting down and up from the floor than I once did (my days of measuring how big a quilt really is by how many beers it takes to pin-baste it – a 6-beer quilt is a king-sized quilt – are limited). I’ve realized that I will not be one of those who “go gentle into that good night.” I’ll have to be dragged, kickin’ and screamin,’ and cussin’ all the way, because everything takes me twice as long now, to do half as much. Probably never was very gentle, anyway.

    I digress. I’d better haul my butt out of this chair and get to clipping, pressing, and trimming or those evil toddlers are going to keep on glaring at me with their sulky, squinty little eyes.

     

     

  • Dare to Dream Big!

    By Patricia Ritter and Julia Mathis

     

    Dreaming big is a motivational push of positive encouragement, an incentive propelling growth and prosperity meant to freshen up your everyday – any takers? If answered with a fat ole’ yes – then hold on to your hat! All of us at Urban Elementz are eager and delighted to release our Dream Big Quilting Designs for long-arm and domestic machine quilters.

    Hoffman California Fabrics designs and manufactures innovative,  imaginative fabrics, including their beautiful digitally printed Dream Big floral panel. This product is STUNNING (in all caps)! The flower seems to burst from the fabric, stretching into each corner of the panel offering itself up as the perfect textural canvas for quilting. And has become all the rage of quilters all over the world!

    And just like every other quilter, we were bitten by the bug!

    So what did we do?

    We came up with twelve amazing Dream Big Quilting Designs. To encourage creativity and unique personalization each design is unique in arrangement and composition but configured to be "mixed and matched". Get more than one and release a current of possibilities and create your vivacious, exquisitely distinct, Dream Big quilt.

    Thank you for providing us with constant inspiration and as always, we love your feedback.

    Head on over to our Facebook @urbanelementzdesigns and our Instagram @urban.elementz to stay updated with our full week of deals.

    Living the dream never gets old.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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