Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Building my Best Log Cabin

It was probably the 5th grade when I last wrote a book report.   And, all I can think of is that, "It was good."   So here I am at age 60 (grade 50?) doing a book report on a virtual book.   I was asked by Eric Woolf, Online Media Coordinator of Fons and Porter to take a look at their free online book titled,
It's a great book, really!   The book addresses the three most popular types of Log Cabin quilt blocks: Traditional, Courthouse Steps, and Chevron.   But, more importantly, the book fills my screen (really big letters that older folks like me can read easily online).   It has lots of very colorful photos that  jump off the screen at you and tempt you to try just one of these blocks.  If you get out your stash and start making one block, I'll betcha you'll be making a lot more.   Log cabins are easy, addictive, and make you feel connected to the bunches of quilters who came before you.  

Now, I know there are a lot of you quilters out there that are computer phobic and the thought of reading an online book might send you hiding in the closet.   But, look at it this can keep it in your virtual library for access at any time without having to scrounge all around the house for the place you last left your book.   And, you only have to print out the pages you need to do the project you want.   It's as easy as "right click", select "Print", and make sure you tell your print menu to only print the current page.
You'll save lots of your expensive ink and won't have to ask your grandchildren to come over quite so often and fix your printer for you.

This book also includes side bars that explain (1) the history of the block and helpful hints, (2)diagrams that show how the quilt blocks are laid out, (3) tables to help you figure out how much fabric is needed and (4) numbered instructions to get you started. Easy, easy, easy! So, get your free book here:

I've got the Chevron block on my to do list.   Chevrons are making a comeback in the design world, so my finished quilt will have tradition and pizzazz.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Some good news and some plans

Fabulous news for me.  My quilt, "Dixon Family Escapades", has been accepted into the Lancaster show in March.    I made this quilt a few years ago for Debra Gabel's book, Quilt Blocks Across America.  I simply made blocks for every state my husband and I have visited.  The quilt was photographed for the book and displayed in the local Nimble Fingers Quilt Guild show in 2010, but has never been shown in a larger show.  Alas, the book is out of print now and there are only a few copies left on Amazon.  

In 2012, I made 189 charity quilts and over 200 preemie quilts.  This year, I hope to make less of each and spend more time working on my creativity.  I'm am enjoying my retirement.   So my next challenge is to get a quilt in the Sacred Threads Biennial Exhibition.  I finally have a design.   It is based on a picture I took of a dome in the Washington National Cathedral in 2011.  Here's the picture:

And, here's my design inspired by this picture:

I'm going to attempt to paper piece it.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Do you take your sewing machine on vacation?

It seems a little bit over the top....but since we drove to Hilton Head for vacation this year...taking my sewing machine with me was as easy as packing it for a retreat.   My husband and I love to go to new places and explore historical sites.  With our son in college, we are no longer burdened with finding some place to go that would appeal to teens.    So, we tend to take our vacations off season.   This year we chose the week after Thanksgiving.  We had to wear jackets every day but still managed to enjoy ourselves...riding bikes on the beach, visiting Savannah and Beaufort, and walking in the Pinckney National Wildlife Preserve.    And, with all that I managed to finish 7 service project quilts.
Here they are hanging from our balcony on the last day there.  All of them were donated cheater wholecloth quilts that I sandwiched and pinned before I left on vacation.   I have to say that combining vacation and sewing made it a relaxing week.   Do you take your sewing machine on vacation with you?

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Red Letter Day

Today I did 30 sit ups.  It's a red letter day because today I have finally reached my goal.  Why 30?  My father told me before he died a little over a year ago that he did 30 sit ups a day every day of his life.    So I thought, why not me.   I have to tell you that pitifully I could only do 5 sit ups the very first time and then I lay on the floor huffing and puffing.  So, I started at 5 and after over a year have made it to 30 a day.   And, in addition to the sit ups I have a regimen of exercises now that I do every morning.    Yippee!   It makes me feel better!

Of course, no red letter day would be complete without another milestone ... finding out that I am no longer the web mistress for Friendship Star Quilters.  Someone else has stepped up to the plate and I am delighted to have more time to learn Photoshop and Illustrator and Publisher, all tools that have the potential to take my creativity to a new level.

Finally, I have been encouraging my husband to expand the products he manufactures.  His new website is now up an running and has two of the products we have been working on together.  So if you need a way to keep those bobbin threads from unraveling try our Bobbin Keepers.  If you need to keep your pins and needles from pricking your fingers, try our PinStops.  These products are straight from the 20% quilt show mark up.   Check them out:


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

PNQE and a Wedding

YES!!!   My quilt "Defence of Fort McHenry" made it into the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza.   My local guild hired a bus to take us up to Oaks, PA for the day.   And, of course I had to get a picture of me next to my quilt.  I was thrilled to see my work hung with hundreds of fabulous quilts.

The Dixon Family has been invited to the wedding of my cousin's son.  Austin and Robert will tie the knot on October 6th in Richmond, Virginia.  While we won't be attending their celebration, I took some time to make matching throws for the couple.  Austin's quilt is white on black and Robert's (folded on right hand side) is black on white.  The material I chose closely matches the invitation.  I'll be sending them off later this week as soon as I find a gift bag large enough to hold them.  Hope the couple likes them.   
What's next for my creative endeavors?   I'm working on a quilt for my door that needs to be completed by November 1st.   In the meantime, I need to come up with a design for the Sacred Threads show next year.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why oh why do I get myself into these things?

Months and months ago, I decided to check out some of the challenges going on around the web.   I decided to try for two:  the Quiltcon challenge and the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza.  Intentions are wonderful things when you have creative ideas and a lot of time.  But, life sometimes gets in the way and then deadlines sneak up and hit you over the head.  Last weekend, I went the Hallowood retreat center with a fun bunch of quilting buddies.  The Quiltcon challenge was due August 15th and I went to the retreat with challenge fabrics and instructions and invited the quilters there to make a 12" square block.   On the second day, Twila began making a block.  This motivated me to throw together a block.  I mailed hers and mine on August 15th. Yeah!  Goal accomplished.  I did not take a picture of my block before I mailed it.  I'm sure it's going to be included in one of the charity quilts that will be made from left over was a last minute, get it done kind of thing.  Twila's block, however, might have a good chance of being included in the Quiltcon display quilt. 

So, all that was left was the PNQE challenge.  The theme was "Keystone".   Knowing that this year is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, I decided to design a quilt that reflected the event which inspired the Star-Spangled Banner.  I knew that from above, Fort McHenry contains a keystone shape.    What if I took the public domain drawing of the battle, portrayed it within the keystone shape and put the whole thing on a replica of the flag that was flown?   Fabulous idea on paper, challenging on fabric.  I left Hallowood with a half-finished quilt top and an August 18th deadline, at least that's what I thought.

Yesterday morning, I decided if I spent the whole day on the quilt, I could finish it, photograph it, and send off my application today.    I got out the application and was horrified to note that the entry must be postmarked by August 17th.  It was iffy that I would be able to get the entry to the post office by 5 p.m. but I did my best.  In truth, I had to pin the binding to take the picture...but the entry is on it's way.   Here's the original design:


And here's my attempt:
Now I just have to wait to see if it will be accepted.   If it's not.....well, I've learned a few lessons.   Twila taught me how to apply paint to fabric to lighten the color.   While I didn't have time to do that yesterday, her lesson is a tool I can use in the future.  I calligraphied the Star-Spangled banner on fabric that resembled parchment paper.  I satin stitched with metallic thread.  And, finally, I used a few of the quilting stitches I learned in Leah Day's book: 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs.  All in all, it feels good to achieve some goals and learn something along the way.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Enjoying My Projects

My house is one of those houses that doesn't have curb appeal.  We moved into it 19 years ago when it was a new home and quickly became best friends with the local nursery.   A blue spruce, a cherry tree, and a river birch block a view of our house from the street.  Some say this denies our house curb appeal.  I'm thankful for the shade.   Our front door is recessed into a little alcove.  When I first moved here, like many new home owners, I wanted to decorate the front I purchased a wreath and hung it.  It looked grand until some birds decided it was a wonderful place to build a nest. 

Back in 2006, I purchased 365 Foundation Quilt Blocks by Linda Causee.  I was really into paper piecing at the time and made my first quilt in October.  I tried adding magnets to the quilt so I could display it on our metal door....but strong winds just blew it all over the yard.  So, I purchased a magnetic curtain hanger.  This worked much better but sometimes it would remain on the door without a quilt because I couldn't bring myself to make the other 11 months.  My neighbor said to my husband that only Linda was have a curtain hanger on the front door.   That motivated me to make the rest of the month quilts.    Some are whole cloth quilts I purchased, others are applique patterns.  Here's the one's I've completed to date:
I  just finished the July quilt.
They're not perfect and mostly they're made from scraps but they make my ugly brown door come alive.  Every morning I take my dog out for her morning constitutional.  While she's nosing around under the shade trees for the perfect spot, I am just enjoying my "door quilt."