Friday, March 23, 2012

Inspiration From the International Quilt Study Center

I spent national quilter's day last weekend at the International Quilt Study Center on the campus of  the University of Nebraska, in Lincoln, Nebraska.  What a treasure this center and museum is.  One of the current exhibits is What's In A Name and the quilts have signatures or embroidered names.  I am drawn to the quilts from the mid 1800s and there were several but these two red and green applique quilts were just wonderful.  Forgive my blurry pictures, I was using my cell phone.  You may take pictures in the museum, but no flash photography, so I did not want to use my camera and risk the automatic flash going off.  You can see better pictures and more of the quilts in this exhibit at the International Quilt Study Center website.  You can also go to the study centers web site and search their collections and find these two quilts by their number on the quilt descriptions. 
The applique on the Hargest album quilt was exquisite, many 1/8 inch stems.  We counted 4 different reds and 3 different green fabric prints used for the appliques.

The next album quilt (seen below and in the post header picture) I loved for it's simplicity, plain  red sashing and borders, small 9 inch blocks, and not terribly intricate appliques.  Hmmmm, maybe something I could do. 
I have been looking for a hand applique projects ever since I finished the Civil War Bride Quilt last year.  I would love to make a Baltimore Album quilt with the beautiful bias stripped vases etc, but I think something like  this little album quilt is what I will work on next. 
 I have been hoarding a 10 yard piece of Kona cotton and I have finally made the commitment to start a new applique project and started cutting out the
 background squares.    (Thank you Janet  for the wonderful idea to use a pinking blade for less fray on applique background fabrics suggested in her Susan McCord trailing vine quilt along instructions). The graph paper is out, I have a plan. 

Happy Spring and Happy Stitching All

Friday, March 16, 2012

Feathered Stars Are Not For The Faint of Heart

One of the first of March blocks in the Just Takes 2 quilt is a feathered star.  I think sometime many years ago when I was a beginning quilter I tackled one of these and I thought, "oh that isn't so hard".  I have no idea what happened to that block but for the last couple days I have been working on this one. 

 As you can see by my sewing room, I have directions at the right of the machine, at the machine, and at the left of the machine. 
 I am taking it nice and slow and laying out each piece like a big puzzle. 
This post was almost named "how many ways is it possible to sew half square triangles together wrong".  I can tell you there are A LOT of ways.  My seam ripper is stationed right next to my scissors by the machine. 
I am having fun however,  being mostly an appliquer, the piecing of this quilt is good for me to keep up those skills.  I learned with this block that even if you press your seams open as the instructions suggest you can still see the points on the open pressed seams for accurate piecing. 

The next block for this quilt is a compass star!!!  Yikes!!!!

Happy Quilting Day (and St. Patricks Day)  to you all!  Bop on over to and enjoy some free shows this weekend, they are available Mar 16 -18.  I have my computer set up in my sewing room and am listening to shows as I stitch.

Monday, March 5, 2012

March Free Motion Quilt Challenge

The wonderful machine quilting information continues over at Sew Cal Girls free motion quilting challenge.  This month's instructor is Ann Fahl.  Her tutorial is full of good machine quilting review, tips, and new ideas. She encourages machine quilters to try some new background fills beside basic meandering and stippling.   The practice piece starts with loops and twists and continues on with adding stars, hearts, spirals, and eventually flowers.  This tutorial came along at just the right time for me.  I needed a background fill around the embroidered states blocks on the states quilt.  After practicing on a practice piece I developed my own sort of 3/4 spiral flowers and twists and loops.  I thought this pattern was just right around the embroidered areas and yet not to dense.
My favorite thing I learned from this tutorial was to use monofiliment in the bobbin.  I had never tried putting monofiliment in the bobbin.  It worked quite well, I had to fuss with the tension a little bit, but eventually did all of the red areas of the state quilt with monofilment in the bobbin and on the top.  Ann also suggests starting a notebook to keep your favorite quilting motifs and ideas in, and to use for practice with pencil and paper.  I have bits of papers here and there and notes from classes so the goal is to get it all together in the notebook.  I printed out Ann's 11 page tutorial and it is definitely going in the notebook.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Quilting Around Embroidery???

I followed thru on my intention to spend my quilt retreat putting the states quilt together.  It is pieced, sandwiched and the quilting has begun.  The quilt is much larger than I expected, about 90 by 100 inches, I think if I had added the red, white, and blue borders it would have been a queen size quilt with a full drop, the borders touching the floor.  I decided to leave the borders off and stop where it is.  I am presently working on the center eagle block, doing some diagonal lines for background fill.  I know what I am going to do in the red areas, but I am a little unsure of how I am going to quilt around the embroideries. 


I am very open to suggestions!!  I will definitely quilt in the ditch around the stars, but I am thinking maybe I will stitch over the state outlines with invisible thread and then some kind of background fill around the rest of the embroideries.  Because it is such a large quilt I do not want to do anything very dense. 

Last weekend I was at my annual retreat with my small group.  I was a little remiss about taking photos and I did not get everyone in the group.  We had a great cabin at the local state park and set up our tables in a nice way that let everyone sew relatively close to each other and allowed for great visiting. 

 The weather was great, we got a lot of quilt tops completed, a lot of catching up with each others lives, and a little shopping.  A great time as always, miss you guys already!
Happy Stitching,