Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Making scarves

I had only a little time to sew last weekend, and so I dusted off my serger and made scarves. I cut 4 strips lengthwise of that beautiful red silk dupioni I bought in Des Moines, seamed two pieces together with a French seam, then serged the long edges and frayed the short edges. I also embellished the short edge of each scarf with frayed-edge squares cut from my new Cherrywood hand-dyed cotton, above.

I cut up some of the Liberty of London prints I’ve been saving, too. I made a couple of scarves out of each piece of fabric, cut 16 inches by 72-80 inches (with a seam in the middle), above. Then I came up with a variation: the last 20 inches at one end of each scarf is a different fabric. This variation looked really good when doubled up and worn around the neck with the loose ends pulled through the loop. It gave the impression of two scarves because you could see both fabrics—one around the neck and one hanging through the loop. I also experimented with “crinkling” the Liberty prints, which are finer than the usual quilting cottons but not as thin as a cotton gauze. I wet the scarf, blotted it dry in a towel, then twisted it up, allowing it to dry like that. I got a compliment on my crinkled scarf when I wore it Monday, a sign of success!

Coming up for Feltsey: Road trip to the family farm in Altamont, Illinois. My sister and I plan to search a few cemeteries for ancestors’ gravestones. (All the women were accomplished quilters, of course. Well, my own grandmother certainly was, anyway, and she got it from somewhere.) Looks like there are quilt shops in Shelbyville and Effingham. I make miniature Amish quilts for gifts, and I need to find some dark Amish colors. Shelbyville may be the place ….

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wedding dream

I’m sitting on my very pleasant porch, enjoying the welcome combination of cool air and sunshine, watching the manic squirrels chase each other up the trees, and wondering why we dream what we dream. My dreams are usually collections—bits and pieces—of things that happen to me during the day, plus a little fear and frustration thrown in. Sometimes a dream solves a problem for me or gives me an idea, but more often I have a recurring dream that I’m trying to go somewhere but I can’t get there. I had this dream frequently when I was teaching, since I was tired and stressed most of the time and was always afraid I would oversleep my alarm and be late for school. (This never happened.)

I had a version of this dream the other night about the wedding I’m planning for my youngest daughter, Libby, next September. It will be at my sister’s ranch in southern Colorado. Wedding plans are well under way, but there’s not much for me to do right now here in Missouri. I’ve been hard at work on my lone star quilt, and I’ve been calling it Ranch Wedding because the lone star always reminds me of Texas, which reminds me of cows, cowboys, and ranches. Plus, the colors are joyful like I know Libby’s wedding will be, the flowered fabric is pretty, and the brown and red paisley fabric in the center of the star and in the border looks kind of ranch-y.

So, one evening after a day of sewing I asked my husband, “What time IS it, anyway?” One clock said 9:00 and the other said 10:00. Don’t ask me how that happened. That night I had this dream: Everyone in the entire family, including my married daughters, their husbands, and my granddaughter, was milling around my house (not the ranch), talking. Suddenly I said, “What time is it?” It was 6:00 and the wedding was at 7:00! “We have to be there in 10 minutes, and we still have to eat and get dressed,” I said. General panic. I sprang into action and said I would get Danica dressed and everyone else should help Libby. Then I woke up.

Strangely, Libby had a wedding dream that night, too. She dreamed that we had forgotten to set the time of the ceremony, and everyone was at my house (not the ranch), wondering what to do. Crazy.

I suppose my hours working on the Ranch Wedding quilt have focused my subconscious mind on the real ranch wedding. It will be wonderful and we won’t have any crazy last-minute panic, I know. But I bet I keep dreaming about it for the next 11 months.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New products

The vendors at the Des Moines quilt show were marvelous--and numerous. I tried out new Bernina machines because mine is over 20 years old, after all, and I really should update once in a while. I wanted to get the feel of using a machine with a stitch regulator for free-motion quilting. Everyone says it’s great. But I concluded that I do just as well or better without the regulator—I don’t think I really need it. I’ve been free-motion quilting for a long time. I saw the super-top-of-the-line $12,000 machine (on special during the show for $10,000, ha ha) which has a longer arm and can embroider anything you can think up. Absolutely perfect machine quilting done by computer doesn’t appeal to me, though. So, despite the other things I purchased, this trip to Des Moines really SAVED me a lot of money, since I concluded that I don’t need a new sewing machine after all. (Are you reading this, honey?)

I decided to focus my dollars on items that I can’t find in quilt shops. I tried out and bought a “Supreme Slider” and “Quilt Halo,” above. The slider is a white Teflon sheet you place on your work surface to make free-motion work glide easily under the needle. The halo is an embroidery hoop that’s heavy, so you set it on top of your work. I have never liked using a traditional hoop, but this one moves quickly as you work, so I’ll give it a try.

I also bought two pieces of hand-dyed silk dupioni, on the left above, and some kitty cat batik blocks. That red piece of silk brought me out of the aisle and into the booth. It is too pretty to cut up (well, almost—I made some scarves today), as is the panel of fabric from the African Ashoke tribe, below, which I bought at the Yara African Fabrics booth. Go to to see some beautiful, authentic African fabric at reasonable prices.

And finally, I visited the Cherrywood Fabrics booth THREE times. Go to I HAD to go back once to get some blues and another time for light colors. These hand-dyed pieces are cotton but look like suede, and the colors are rich and saturated, below. Actually, I bought more than these three pieces, but you can see the marvelous texture in these very well. Cherrywood fabrics are sold only at quilt shows and online and are very affordable for hand-dyed fabric—$13 a yard. I was almost completely out of solid-look hand-dyed fabrics, so this is a welcome addition to my stash.

I came home from the show with dozens—hundreds—of quilt ideas. I’ve been so intent on working on my lone star quilt (working title: Ranch Wedding) that I actually had a dream about Libby’s wedding already—11 months in advance. Turns out she had much the same dream…

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Trip to Des Moines

Back from a great road trip to Des Moines to the American Quilter’s Society quilt show. I love road trips, especially when they involve quilts and fabric. I took two classes in Des Moines—one on “Quilting Outside the Box” with Diane Gloystein, who works for the Sulky thread company, and one called “Love That Lone Star” with Jan Krentz.

In “Quilting Outside the Box,” we played with decorative machine stitches on fancy fabrics to make the two small panels on the right. Diane showed us how to edge the project with silk cord (attach it with a zigzag stitch) for a small wall hanging. It was fun to play around with machine and thread without a big commitment of time and materials. The lone star class lasted all day, but I only finished ONE of the eight diamond points of my star, on the left.

I learned a lot, however, about precision piecing, and this is No. 1: Make SURE you are sewing a SCANT quarter-inch seam! I had a lot of trouble piecing on the machines provided in the class—very nice machines, but not my trusty old Bernina. Jan Krentz was a great teacher, and although I read her book Lone Star Quilts and Beyond before the class, she had extra tips to give us that were not in the book. And since the lone star is not an easy pattern, I think taking the class gave me enough courage to tackle it. I spent two full days in my sewing studio when I got home and finished my star and the setting blocks, below.

Originally I planned to feature blue flowers centered in 4 setting squares, and red flowers centered in the other 4. But the flowers are not quite large enough to do that—I got red and blue in every square. So I fussy-cut all the squares exactly alike to maximize the use of blue and yellow—and pretty much destroyed 3 yards of fabric in the process. (Oh well—that’s what it’s for.) I like the way it turned out. I think the setting squares kind of create a wreath of flowers around the star.

The next step is to make the trapezoid border pieces, but I want to add a narrow blue band of color all around the setting squares. This is going to be a bit complicated!

AND--Quilt Stories was named  "Blog of the Week" last Friday on the AQS Facebook page. Hurray! Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fun with purses

My daughter Anne and I made a purse/tote bag this morning from the book Carefree Clothes for Girls by Junko Okawa. (Which should be named Carefree Clothes Plus Other Things…. There is also a very cute idea for a scarf in this book that I want to try.) Anne was the “sous chef” or assistant, so it only took us 2 hours from cut-out to competed project. We used old pieces of linen from my scrap stash and embellished the bag with doilies from the crafts section at Walmart. We cut two 14½ by 18 ½-inch rectangles for the bag, plus two more for lining, and 2 pieces for the handle measuring 4 by 35 inches. I added batting to the bag and handle, which the pattern did not call for. I roughly quilted the batting to the outer bag, then sewed on the doilies before sewng the sides and top together. The pattern called for leaving the handle edges raw, so that’s what we did for a very “shabby chic” look.

This afternoon I made a second bag for a gift, leaving the top with raw edges, as well as the handle. This is in purple linen, an ancient item from my stash, and new fabric for the raw-edge appliqué and lining. Turned out quite cute, don’t you think?

The “leather” tab closures are actually two pieces of Ultrasuede scraps fused together with Misty Fuse. Buttonholes are a piece of cake to make on Ultrasuede because it doesn’t ravel. Just sew a tiny rectangle the length of your button and cut out the center with a buttonhole cutter if you have one. You set the buttonhole on the tiny block of wood, then punch straight through the cloth with the very sharp cutter.

Now I’m packing class supplies for the American Quilters Society quilt show in Des Moines. Sewing machines are provided for us, so I “only” have to take fabric, thread, rulers, cutting board, rotary cutter, iron, needles, etc., etc.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lone Star

Oooh! October already! I’ve been busy this week getting my materials ready for the Lone Star class I’m taking next week at the AQS quilt show in Des Moines. Last Saturday I bought the large-format (8 x 10 inches) hinged mirrors that are required, and I played with them for hours. What a lot of fun! I designed one-eighth of my Lone Star quilt in miniature, below.

Then I used the mirrors to see how the entire Lone Star will look when it is finished, below. Obviously, the flowers will be whole, but you can get a good idea of how the colors in the star will radiate out from the center. The large flower print, which you cannot get a good look at in this miniature format, has yellow, green, red and blue in it, which is why my Lone Star features those colors. I plan to fussy-cut the large flower squares to emphasize the green, yellow and blue.

Finally, I used the mirrors on the fabric to pick out a motif for the center of the star, and I fussy-cut the eight diamonds. Here is what I came up with:

I hope to get further advice on the border design from the Lone Star class teacher, Jan Krentz, next week. I bought her book, Lone Star Quilts and Beyond, and I’m so excited to try out her techniques. All my fabric strips are cut and ready to go to Des Moines. I've never made a Lone Star before, and I can't think of a quilt I've made that uses the diamond shape. So this will be something new for me.