In my quest this month to blast through my UFOs as fast as humanly possible, I’ve taken the time to use this exercise as a way to expand my horizons, creatively. Usually, I’ve been completing projects in a deadline driven way – which leaves little or no time to experiment with new techniques or tools, but not so much this month. I found myself staring at something in my sewing box, perplexed…exactly what is this and what is it used for?
I came to love sewing (and quilting) through a convoluted path ‘back in the day’, we had Home Ec, where a long line of sewing machines greeted me every week in 7th grade. I struggled with the mechanics of the machine for a long time, and barely survived the class with my blue floral mini skirt basted together. I have very vivid memories of playing with the tension a lot – so lets just say that a lot of the advanced techniques were skipped.
Today, I am able to sew on a machine which is well suited to my needs – my Janome 8900 is a wonderful creation, and it’s truly a joy to sew on it, and it’s given me the confidence to tackle attachments and feet which test my boundaries. Those needles in the picture above were something I tried for the first time when I was attaching the machine binding to the Hunter’s star runner this weekend.
Twin needles – size matters
I have several of the twin needles, and the first thing I determined was that there are various sizes which describe the distance between the needles. For the project that I was working on, I selected the red needle, inserted it into my machine, and then determined which thread to use.
I was working with a red, white and blue quilt, so I went with one thread blue and one red – both needles use the same bobbin (gray in my case), and I then needed to thread the machine. I had the blue thread in the regular thread holder in the machine, and installed the red thread (on a bobbin) on the smaller spool pin – the only thing that is recommended is to have the threads unspooling in opposite directions, so that you can avoid tangling, then thread as normal. The needle threader doesn’t work with twin needles, so you do have to thread each side manually. For this technique, I used the zig zag foot on my machine.
Test stitch front
I grabbed the closest quilt sandwich I had been working with, put the speed of the machine on low, and began sewing. It may be hard in the photo to see the blue stitching, but it definitely works and gives a clean stitch. I then turned the piece over so that I could see what was going on on the backside of the piece…clean and neat!
Test stitch back
I am really happy with how this came out, and I can see all kinds of ways to incorporate this into my quilting arsenal. Here’s a close up shot of the Hunter’s star runner.
Detail of Hunter Star binding
So inquiting minds want to know – what techniques/tools do you have in your room that you’re intimidated by? Let’s explore together – leave a comment below and we’ll play!
This headline comes from the fact that we’re getting our first really significant weather here in New Hampshire today as I write this. My desk faces two front windows in the room, and it could be Alaska out there for the snow flying past me all day…although Fairbanks is partly sunny today, with a high of -7. No thanks, I like February is New England.
Like many quilters at this time of year, I looked around my studio at the beginning of January – and pretty much wondered what happened. Where did all these bags, boxes, bins, etc come from? More importantly, how am I ever going to get it back into the closet so I can shut the door and pretend they aren’t there. The quick answer is…I’m not.
I became aware of the All People Quilt UFO Challenge on Facebook early in January (or maybe late in December…it’s all a blur), and I was intrigued. The premise of the challenge is that you select 12 UFOs from your stash (if you’re in this challenge, it’s a given), and then list them out in a linear fashion. At the beginning of the month, the people at APQ post which number UFO you’re going to be working on that month.
It’s a fun, encouraging group, and we’re clicking right along as of mid-February now. Here’s a picture of my ‘List’…some are older, some need a gentle nudge – but all of these will get done.
It’s humbling to list all the projects out there…and I know as I opened bins and bags, I did locate several projects that I forgot about originally. I have enough for several lists (would you believe 3?), but for now, I’m concentrating on just the one pager.
When I filled out my sheet (which is, by the way, completely on the honor system!), I knew that January was going to be #6, and so I plugged Island Star into that. I had a deadline of mid-January, so I knew that I wasn’t going to be working on anything else anyway.
The second column of the sheet (which might be hard to read) is labeled Status Before…it’s hard to measure your progress if you don’t know where you begin. For me, it was hard to miss that a lot of this group starts out as Needs Quilting. Wow – talk about a lightbulb moment…I’m very tentative with my machine quilting skills.
I use January as goal setting time for the business, and for the creative side of things, I am designating 2017 as my year to improve my technical skills. I do have all the tools I need to become a better technician…I just need to overcome some roadblocks. Every path starts with a single step, right?
Ugly Fabric Challenge, Flimsy done Jan 2017
I actually finished the January piece in the middle of January for the blog hop, and I found I actually did get into a rhythm with the sewing. I was missing something to just piece – I randomly picked up my Ugly Fabric quilt, named because you use your ugliest fabric as a foundation to piece on. By the end of January, I had pieced that one into a more contemporary flimsy than the original I had laid out, and it’s waiting to be scheduled with the longarm rental location. I have hours banked with them. So I have finished two quilts, and I’m now working on my February.
Hunters Star Runner – February 2017
My February pull was #8 – on my list, it’s called the Hunters Star Table runner. It can also be called the project from hell, and I really was uninspired by what I had done with the blocks. That’s totally fine – some of these are several years old, and my tastes have taken a more modern bent. The pitfall of letting a project sit dormant for so long is that you lose track of the pieces, you forget where you were, you lost the instructions for the tool. Another reason to bust the UFOs.
I’ll be continuing this theme throughout the year, and if you follow my on instagram at @patchworkpearl, you’ll get to see more of the fun with this project.
Hello…and welcome to February! I’m in New England, and if the rest of the winter is like what we’ve had so far (thank you, Mr. Groundhog!), this one won’t be all that bad. However, since I became engaged during the Blizzard of ’78, I know how unpredictable the February can be. Today is sunny out – but cold.
I had questions from several of you concerning how I adapted the original pattern from Jaybird Quilts, Night Sky to make the Island Star Quilt. I want to take you through the process that I used in this project – and share with you one thing that I wish I had done differently.
This pattern is constructed using a 3½” strip to make the basic star. The pattern gives directions for baby, lap, twin, queen and king sized quilts, but the star in all of them is made with the same size strip. The size variation is accounted for both in the number of stars made, and in the dimensions of the frame for each individual star.
The pattern is made using Jaybird’s SideKick ruler, which allows you to cut strips up to 4½” wide. I upgraded the ruler to the Super SideKick, which gives you the extra flexibility of cutting strips up to 8½” wide. We were originally asked to make a project at least 24″ in diameter, but with the bigger proportions, I wasn’t worried about that piece of it.
The quilt itself – after you add the framing strips to the star and add in the triangles (work with me)…actually finished to 40″ W x 46″ Long. When I measured it, that perplexed me (I didn’t think it was that out of square). When I did some checking, I discovered something unique about the pattern.
The diameter of the star itself – using 8½” strips instead of 3½” strips throughout the pattern – is not a true hexagon. The 6 star blades toward the front measure 31″ from tip to tip; the 6 split stars from the back (the purple and turquoise ones) measure 36″ tip to tip. In the original pattern outline, she assembles the stars in strips, and the difference isn’t noticeable. When I Supersized the star, I also supersized the proportions.
The star block isolated
I had to look at what size to make the frame. I knew that the resulting star was going to float in the background, and I also knew that the largest dimension given in the pattern for the frame is 3″, and that’s for a king sized quilt. I kind of arbitrarily decided to use a 4½” strip for the frame size – and that is one decision I would change. You waste a lot of fabric when you make the frame, and if the strips are cut with a 4½” strip, the excess can either be sub cut into (2) 2¼” strips or (1) 2½” strip and (1) 2″ strip. I will make this measurement 5″ the next time I make this variation – the leftover fabric will go further. Lesson learned – and note to self, order more of the background fabric.
Once the frame is added to the star, I was left with the question of taking a big octagon and turning it into a rectangle for hanging and display purposes. There’s probably a high tech method to show you where the setting triangles are in this quilt, but we’re going low tech here. We have 4 different right triangles added to 4 of the six sides of the quilt. I measured the two straight pieces of the sides, and used those dimensions to create the triangles – and yes, I was generous in the measurements.
I have a longstanding UFO for this pattern which I am now looking forward to unearthing and restarting – I have a lifetime membership of the UFO of the month club…maybe it’ll make it in sooner!
Congrats to Maureen for winning the fat quarter giveway as part of the hop last week.
Welcome to this Sunday Special entry on the blog – I’m thrilled to be participating in the Coastal Mist Blog Hop, hosted by Tammy Silvers of Tamarinis.
Coastal Mist Blog Hop
I’ve had the good fortune to collaborate with Tammy on a number of projects, and I was thrilled to be invited to participate on this latest venture of hers.
Coastal Mist Catalog page
Many of you will know my fondness (ok, obsession) for all things turquoise, and the colors in this line are a lot of fun to play with. Coastal Mist is now available for your local quilt shop to purchase, so it’s a good time to shop!
This pattern is the free pattern which comes with the ruler, and they do recommend making several trial blocks. This time I actually did follow the directions, and became more comfortable with the techniques before cutting into the fabric. I can say that I am looking forward to having this runner on my screen porch table this summer…the colors just make me happy.
This close up gives you a peak at the luscious colors of the fabric – I like the way they balanced out with the design.
I hope that you are following along with the other designers in this hop; I’m included with some very talented designers, and I’ve learned something from every one who is working on this project with me. Here’s the list so you can pull up a comfy chair, grab a cup of something hot (I’m writing this from NH, and in January, that’s the only way to roll…), and enjoy the eye candy.
Happy Hump Day, and welcome to my blog as part of the Island Batik blog hop for January…celebrating New Beginnings!
New Beginnings Blog Hop
I love the clean slate/celebration of new starts aspects of January (I’m not a winter girl!), and this gave me an opportunity to stretch my creative muscles a bit. I’ve known for a while that my quilter vibe was going to the more modern/contemporary side of things, and I found a great way to energize my 2017 with a new twist on an iconic design (if I do say so myself!).
The fabrics collection that I am using is called Surf and Sand, and it’s by Fourth and SixthDesigns. It’s a very rich, watery feeling palette which I had so much fun working with, I had a hard time choosing what to do.
In January, like a lot of quilters, I go through a periodic cycle of sifting through the piles of unfinished projects – and I do that just like anybody. I found my inspiration in an unfinished version of Jaybird Quilt’s Night Sky pattern. I took it out and looked carefully at the pattern, which as written, uses a 3½” strip of fabric. What would happen if I tweaked that? I played with smaller strips – and then I went in the completely opposite direction.
Island Star, 40″ x 46″
This is my interpretation of the pattern, called Island Star, using the biggest strip that I could (instead of the Sidekick ruler, I used the Super Sidekick) The center diamonds are made using 8½” strips. My only modification to this was in the setting of the star – I used a 4½” strip to go around the hexagon created by the star, and then used setting triangles to make the pattern float in a rectangle. As luck would have it, it’s 40″ wide…and I have a 42″ wide quilt rack over my cutting station – so this one has a home. I should note that the white background is made of the Sprinkles Neutral that Island has. One of the nicest things about working with Island Batik is their selection of wonderful lights!
I absolutely DID NOT quilt this – I am blessed to have a wonderful working relationship with a friend, and longarm quilting artist, in the absolutely fabulous Terry Burris of Merrimack – she’s about a 10 minute drive from my house, and she’s done several of my quilts. Her website can be found at https://terryburrisquilting.wordpress.com/.
I hope that you have had fun following along with our merry band of Ambassadors as we’ve worked through this blog hop. I’m always amazed at the talents that we possess…we always seem to complement each other…and the behind the scenes emails can be a sure source of inspiration and creative zing. The entire grouping of blog posts related to this hop can be found on this Island Batik blog post here.
Like many of the Ambassadors, I am Giving away Fabric as part of this event. This time, I’m using the Rafflecopter widget below…just follow the instructions – it’s easy!
Last fall, before Quilt Market, you may remember my putting an icon on my Facebook page indicating it was a Secret Sewing Day…well, now I can let you in on the secret.
I had been invited to participate in Tamarinis latest blog blog hop, the Coastal Mist Blog Hop…and my piece was walked to Market to be in the Island Batik booth to support the line. This blog hop highlight’s Tammy’s first major line – and the line evokes thoughts of Seashores, summertime (and everything else I want to see about summer). It was a fun line to work with, and Tammy gave me a blank slate to work with creatively. I can’t wait to show you my piece this Sunday, January 29th; it’ll be a very special blog post!
Tamarini’s post yesterday leads off with some of her projects, and gives you the chance to enter to win for prizes and giveaways too, so make sure you enter to win. Hint: I’m over on instagram as patchworkpearl.
Here’s a list of who else is participating in the hop…
What better way to start of 2017 than with a blog Hop? There is nothing, if you’re one of the Island Batik Ambassadors. We have a new year, a new theme, and new designs with which to entice you.
We’re ringing in the New Year with New Beginnings – our ways to use what we received in our Ambassador boxes last fall…these fabrics are available in your quilt shops now!
This is the last organized event for the class of 2016 Island Batik Ambassadors – and we’re a large group. We’ve got several posts planned on most days – we’re grouped by collection. I can’t wait to show you what I have planned (literally, show you…stay tuned!), but my post isn’t scheduled to go live until Wednesday, January 25th, when I get to talk about working with the Surf and San collection.
Island Batik wants our readers to share in the fun of the blog hop – they’re sponsoring a giveaway as part of the blog hop. Just follow the directions on the Rafflecopter box below, and you’ll be entered to win one of two fabric bundles that are being given away as part of the blog hop.
Happy First Monday of January! My wish for you is that this year brings you health, happiness and peace. I don’t know that we really can ask more from life than that anyway.
I am not in the habit of looking backwards (I’m not going that way), but I thought I’d start the year off by sharing with you an exercise I go through at the end of each year as part of my goal setting exercises…I empty my jar.
My I did It Jar – a gift from an old friend.
This jar was given to me by a good friend, and when you have a notable success in the year, you write it down and deposit it into the jar. At the end of the year, you take out the notes and review your accomplishments.
I have a bulletin board here in my space which I use to keep track of projects, prospects, generally anything I need to keep track of. When something is completed, I put it – the good and the bad into the jar – so this keeps me on track with both the highs and the lows of the year. It’s also a good tool to have when you’re looking ahead to next year’s business plans.
I will look back at 2016 at a year of innovation – some things worked quite well, and some things did not pan out. I don’t feel that I was spending the year standing still – and certainly not in the last half year. I’ve already put some changes into place for next year that I’m quite excited about – and I’ll be happy to talk about that next week.
Stars over snow covered fields
Just when I thought that I had all the information I needed from 2016…I received a very nice email from the folks at the Vermont Quilt Festival, indicating that my quilt entry into the show was featured in the newest issue of Simply Moderne magazine from Quiltmania…I do believe that I hit the eggnog early when that email came in. A very nice unexpected high note to end the year on.
The pages from 2016 will be put into a time capsule so that I can empty the jar out and pave the way for 2017 successes. I would love to know how you keep track of things?
Follow up to the last giveaway – congratulations to Lori Morton, Susan Stanton and Beth Burnett for winning the prizes. Lori’s prize is already in the mail to her, and I am hoping that Susan and Beth will contact me soon…I’d love to get their gifts over to them.
This month’s theme from Island Batik is to celebrate the season of giving in our own way. The blogs that have been posted throughout the month have shown me innovative ways to interpret the theme.
We are celebrating the holidays this year with a new family member, Weezy. Weezy is a 6 year old rescue cat that came to live with us through the local humane society, and she’s settling in here nicely. It is nice to have an assistant – now if she would just leave my printer alone!
In the process of adopting Weezy (and having met Nan Baker, another Ambassador this year at Market), I became much more familiar with the work of our shelters, and for this project, I wanted to give back to our local shelter. Last Friday night, I headed to open sew at our local quilt shop with strips in tow.
You can make a pet bed for a cat carrier with little fabric and less time…they really whip up quite easily, and I knew that they cats will need all the help that they can get in the cold weather.
In each of our Ambassador boxes, there are usually extra odds and bits of strips of fabric…which coordinate nicely when you put them together.
I took this set, which wound up measuring about 12 ” x 18″, and paired it with some batting scraps and some flannel for the back. It literally took very little time to make this – so I made some more…
OK…there is one that’s a little off kilter in that photo – please don’t tell the cat. Tomorrow morning, these are heading to my local shelter (which always posts a need for old sheets and blankets) to keep some kitties warm on the way to their new home.
Thank you, Island Batik for sponsoring this monthly theme. Merry Christmas!
The dictionary defines a connection as a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else. I believe that there are far more things that unite quilters than that separate them. I’m sounding a bit like Carrie Bradshaw here (ok, in my own head!), but why do quilters need labels of any kind? Why is there a competition – which is as old as the revival itself – instead of a lifting up of all things quilting? The celebration of all things quilting (without labels) was what we attempted to do last month at the Connections Quilt Festival in Nashua.
Apologies for the bluurry photo
We had antique quilts, hand quilts, modern quilts, art quilts, newbie quilts as well as quilts which have won awards – and at least one that was a magazine Cover Girl. We truly had something for everyone, and we had a lot of people come through the doors.
The quilting base in southern New Hampshire is very used to having a show at this time of year, and we were hoping that by reaching out (far and wide), they would come and find us. Our show was an open call for quilts of all kind – we didn’t set out to incorporate either a juried or judged process this year.
The response was fantastic,and several of the quilts illustrate links – whether they were across the miles, across the net or across the generations. There were a few antiques, and several handquilted as well…I always love to see that!
The show found many friends along the way, some in our own backyard, and others from across the quilting industry. One of our earliest friends was Mary Wilson Kerr – who I met first through Facebook, and then I had the opportunity to meet at the Maine show in person last summer. Through that connection, we were able to bring in the Dare to Dance Exhibit, a group of 30 art quilts made around a central theme. Marianne (the show’s founder) and I had the chance to travel to Market, just before Connections – and she and I had the chance to meet Mary there and congratulate her on her newest exhibit, Twisted.
In fact, keep reading…I have a giveaway opportunity for you this week! Mary donated an autographed copy of the book which accompanies Twisted to this blog. Twisted is an exhibit which showcases modern quilters paired with vintage quilts…and the book is eyecandy for quilters everyone. The information for how to win is listed at the bottom of this post.
We had wonderful support from the teaching community about our concept, and we are grateful for that feedback, even when tight timeframes made logistics difficult. Pat Delaney of Crabtree Lane Studio was our teacher this year, and she certainly set the standard for years to come.
Another set of friends of the show included the talented group of designers who work as Brand Ambassadors for Island Batik, along with me. Even with the crazy busy schedule we all have at this time of year, we were able to pull together an exhibit showcasing the indivual talents of the group. I have to say, I’ve met some of them personally, but most of them through the net only. Their quilts in person were absolutely amazing. If you didn’t get the chance to see the show in person, here’s a slide show of their quilts!
But what made this show so special to me was the support of the quilters from all avenues! They came, they shopped, they offered encouragement (and suggestions, we have a list!)…and they connected with each other. They were kind, respectful, generous (oh, my stars…thank you to each and every one who volunteered your time to help make this first show a success. It literally does take a village to pull something like this off! )
Our first show date fell over Veterans Day, and we reached out early to the Quilts of Valor organization to see if it was at all possible to have them with us. As it turns out, even though Veterans Day is their single biggest day for presentations in their calendar, they believed in us so much that they moved things around so that they could say yes.
This is the Mass Coordinator (and big ball of love) Darlene Coit making a presentation to John, the partner of one of our vendors. He had been around quilters a lot, but this came completely as a surprise to him. Very moving to witness.
There were many tales of connections that weekend – and I’m sure some I missed as I tended to the needs of the show. My name tag said Jane of All Trades (and trust me, it fits!). I can tell you that as I was witnessing one of the wrappings, I went over to offer a shoulder to his wife – it turns out she gave me a big hug – It’s me, Marian – from Facebook. One of my most active fans who I had never run into in real life. And yes, I have tons of those memories!
So wrapping this up, and putting the giveaway out there into the Universe. To win the autographed copy of Twisted, please leave a comment below answering the following: what is your favorite handmade holiday keepsake (it doesn’t have to be a quilt). I’ll select the winner and post it in a special blog post on Wednesday, December 21st.
In the meantime…there’s 13 days left – are you done yet?
Post edited on 12/18…I’ve added more swag to the giveaway
I’ve added two more items to this; winners will be picked from the comments below. The first item is a Threadcutterz, one of the hottest items when I went to Houston. This is the product that was pitched on Shark Tank; – it started life as a tacklebox item for fishermen, and was adapted to out industry. It’s great for travel, or for working with children – you can’t cut yourself with it, but you can sure cut your thread. One size, and one color fits all. I’ve been using mine since I got home.
And if you’re looking for some help designing your quilts – I have something for you as well – a set of QuilTiles, courtesy of Kits by Carla out of Monckton, VT. This is a great way to play with different shapes and colors, while sitting at a table instead of playing online…and like the thread cutter ring, it’s a great tool for working with children. It’s a great tool for expanding your designing techniques. I know you’ll enjoy working with this.