Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Quilting in the Garden 2016

My husband and I have been attending this annual show for many years and I have blogged about it as far back as 2011. It is an Alden Lane Nursery annual event. Held outdoors beneath a stand of historic oak trees among flowering plants and decorative bushes, quilts are hung along clotheslines suspend between the trees. In the final paragraphs of this post are some links to shows from past years.

When we first entered I was tickled by this Christmas-like use of a dress form. I have a stylized mannequin at home and perhaps I will press it into service this holiday season in a similar "fashion". Her gold ball necklace is delightfully gaudy.

C&T publishing was one of the featured artists at this year's show. It initially seemed odd to me to have a publishing company as a featured artist; is that not usually a person? But in retrospect it is extremely appropriate since they have had a huge impact on the quilting movement and art. C&T publishing certainly found their niche in the book publishing world and I am sure many, many of us quilters have several books by them.

C&T also sells these eco-friendly zippered bags made from 100% recycled polypropylene water bottles and featuring quilt designs. I already own this elephant and staggered stripes pair and find its size and sturdiness are great. The texture was initially strange to me but now I love it. The other featured artist was Jennifer Sampou. She is actually the designer whose two patterns are behind the quilts featured on this two-pouch set. The large pouch is the Strips and Selvages pattern and the small pouch is the Elephant and I pattern.

At the show I bought this patchwork squares and climbing vine pouch set - my only purchase of the day. Yay for my restraint! Its featured quilts are by Cheryl Arkisan and Amanda Jean Nyberg from C&T's book Sunday Morning Quilts.

A guest artist was Freddie Moran Her series of four pear quilts, one for each season were hung over the entry to the nursery. Spring and Summer are 83 and 84. Autumn and Winter are 85 and 86.

I am having a hard time deciding whether Autumn with its deep plum leaves, or Winter with its delicately curving vine and little cardinal bird, is my favorite. I think it is Winter. Then again, maybe it is Autumn.

On this next billowing quilt, I found the bright lime green, deep purple, and bold blue tones to be very eye-catching in combination with each other. I did not realize until I was home that the breeze had prevented me from grabbing a number on this one so I regetfully I am unable to identify and give credit to its maker. My best guess is that it is a Dresden Plate variation but it is the color choices that make it so striking in my opinion. I tried to find the source by searching Google for an image match. Google thinks the best match is a lime tree or a coral reef. Go figure.

My head had been turned by the Christmas tree skirt on the way in and, on the way out, my eye was similarly attracted by this holiday themed Peppermint Pinwheels by Sujata Shah from the C&T book Cultural Fusion Quilts.

A closeup look shows the relaxed piecing that gives this quilt its organic charm. The prints are just so darn happy and call to my love of stripes and dots and whirls. Knowing me, though, I would fight to make all those points meet and I would lose the fun aspect of those cheerful candies in the process. If they all conformed uniformly, that carefree ambience would just be gone. Note that all those center squares are misaligned. I have to really study to be random. That is where I am striving for growth as a quilter. I had an entry in this show back in 2014, and I had to work at being wonky. The blog post for my Grinch quilt was July 2, 2014.

I have been attending this annual show for many years and have blogged about it as far back as 2011. For the curious I have supplied links to my posts about the show in past years. Some of my favorites from the Alden Quilting in the Garden for 2015 are here in my post for September 26, 2015. I had an entry (my Grinch quilt) in the 2014 show and I show other quilts from that year in my post for October 3, 2014.  My favorite quilts from the 2013 are shown in my post for October 2, 2013 and there was a quilt in that year's show made from the same quilt blocks as a quilt of mine but laid out very, very differently. A smattering of the quilts from the 2012 show are shown in my post for October 27, 2012. The topic of my second post ever, when I first started this blog five years was a brief description the 2011 Alden Lane's Quilting in the Garden. My very first post where I learned to upload a photo was October 3, 2011 where I show some metal sculptures I bought at the 2011 show.

This show is fun every year whether just touring the quilts, buying from the vendors, taking a class, listening to a lecture, or entering a quilt of my own. It is a fine September tradition my husband and I enjoy together attending each fall. Our anniversary is within a few days of this quilt weekend so we never miss our anniversary since the show is a reminder. By the way, this year is our 41st anniversary. We had a low-key dinner out last night. This morning, however, is time to share this perspective on the Alden Lane 2016 Quilting in the Garden, so I am linking up to Let's Bee Social #144.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Thoughts and Boughts

As I peruse my past posts I noted it was over a month ago that I had physically produced anything quilt related. In my August 10th post I blogged about finishing my Orange and Grey quilt but I have not worked on another since. Of late, my blog hardly merits the title DianeLoves2Quilt. I still do love it I just haven't done it! I am sewing sporadically; I have made pillowcases with my sister and I have finally - finally - started those master bedroom drapes I have been promising my husband I would. Those drapes are a candidate for another post topic in the future, but do not qualify as being quilty. But I continue to shop and enjoy the varied quilt related activites around me.

The last weekend in September is almost quilt immersion in Pleasanton, the town next to mine. The local nursery, Alden Lane, hosts an outdoor quilt show much like Sisters, Oregon but in a garden setting and not as extensive. I will be going there tomorrow, Saturday. There is also a quilt, craft, and sewing show this same weekend in one building of the county fairgrounds. The show admission is free and I've gone each year it has been there. I went there yesterday to browse and bought a few items that caught my fancy. My husband usually accompanies me but he had a schedule conflict and I went alone. I kinda missed him being there but it is still sort of a mini-social outing. Some of the vendors I see every year; they recognize me and we chat. I also crossed paths with a few ladies from my Handiquilter Longarm club and a member of my quilt guild so I was hardly isolated.

One vendor, in particular, was pretty special. It was the vendor from whom I bought my custom sewing room cabinetry in 2003, in February and April thirteen years ago, and I still recognized him and his wife. They are Unique Sewing Furniture based in Wyoming. They hand delivered the furniture to my home in California. I was their first cabinetry experiment in a white wash and now it is part of their line. I told them I had a blog and I'd bet their furniture was in it. I would send them the link. As you might imagine, my blog  contains  pictures of what I am making and those items inevitably cover the furniture I made it on. When I got home, I snapped a couple pictures of my sewing machine cabinet and cutting table. Obviously I did not stage and clear them for a photo session and the setting sun of the afternoon does not supply ideal lighting but here they are, still in great shape; they do not look beat up after thirteen years and are continuing to serve me well. The sewing machine cabinet has a large hinged area that I can put into service either down for more floor space or up for bigger projects and surface area for storage. The chair is shortened to match my 5'3" height.

The cutting table has two hinged surfaces. I usually keep one up and only raise the other when cutting backings or battings. It rolls out from the corner when I want to expand it and walk fully around it. The two long drawers pull out from either side. I keep it pushed into the corner when cutting so it does not "roll" away from me as I push forward with my rotary blade. Yes, I could engage brakes on the wheels but a corner position is so much easier and allows more space in the room for the majority of the time. It fits a large Olfa mat just fine.

Here is the obligatory part of my blog post where I describe  and share my show purchases with my daughter. First are two patterns from Twisted Scissor Quilt Shoppe. There are some stores that are not that big but you just seem to have the same tastes as the owner. This is one of those stores for me. The dress pattern on the left has elastic on the straps and a big bow on the bodice, medium bows on the pockets. The made up sample was really cute. With three granddaughters this is likely to get used. I bought the pattern on the right for the long pocket storage unit. I think, it will be useful in the sewing room for tools and gadgets that are best kept handy but often get lost under the project of the moment. The placemat in the lower right corner with its curved access pocket is really clever, also.

Also at the Twisted Scissor I found these two 1-yard cuts just as I was leaving the booth. No, I do not know what I will use them for but I could not leave them behind.

The Rabbit Hole Quilt Shop always has good quality fabrics at very discounted prices. I bought this one yard stripe for potential use as binding. I love striped binding and this one is so cheery. The Christmas tree mini-print I think I can press into service as white or light colored blocks or components in a Christmas quilt. It will add interest and is not too, too busy. The pink and red tree decorations add just a dash of color without being overwhelming. I bought two 1/3 yard cuts of it. I  really do not need any more Christmas fabrics, but this will be a good blender. Note that it sports two happy tones of green as well.

One booth was selling a kit for making an advent calendar. I told myself no more kits and besides I already have a lot of Christmas fabric. At another tiny booth not far away I found I could buy just the numbers alone and so I bought two packs for two families. I will supply the other part of the calendar from my stash.

At the Fabric Chicks I bought two kid oriented panels. One is for a cloth book with a construction theme.

I am not revealing the entire panel for this, but who could resist those kitty eyes peeking out from beneath her pink bonnet? I think it is destined for little girl sized bed pillows.

The Fabric Chicks also had a jelly roll of the Moda fabric line Coral - Queen of the Sea. I love the coral and aqua color combo and already have the mermaid panel to sew up for each of my three granddaughters. I passed on it though. I have a gift certificate to the Fat Quarter Shop online and felt I should use that up first instead of investing more money. I was feeling quite virtuous and guilty at the same time. I do feel a desire and an obligation to support the brick and mortar vendors.

My final purchase of the day before leaving the show was really quite frivolous - two cards of buttons, a bit pricey but oh so cute.

I have some lime-green, white, and black chicken fabric in my stash that just screams out for the buttons on the top row.

With three granddaughters I am sure I can find a use for pink and purple funky looking buttons.

When I went home I searched the Fat Quarter Shop online to buy that jelly roll. They were sold out. I should have suspected. They do sell out quickly. Silly, but I couldn't sleep last night because I really wanted that jelly roll. My husband said that he would drive me back to the show when it opened, drop me off so that I did not have to pay the $10 parking again, and wait for me while I ran in and did a commando raid with the Fabric Chicks vendor to get the prized Jelly roll. What a guy! I fretted. Would they have sold it before I returned?

Nope! I scored! First thing this morning my husband did drive me back to the show. I did run in and made a beeline straight to that booth. They had not one, but two left and I bought both just to be safe! Can any one else relate to this?

OK, enough show socializing. Let me now do a bit of online socializing at Let's Bee Social #143.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

My 2016 Kit Conundrum

One of my resolutions stated in my quilting goals for 2016 was,
     Assess my kits stash; limit impulse kit purchases to two maximum in 2016.
It was a rather stupid goal. Goals should be to do something, not to not do something.

Being optimistic, I had not figured out nor elaborated on what I would do if I had not met this goal and the year was not yet over. How do you undo doing something in order to still be able to achieve a goal? I had to rethink. The spirit of the goal was kit reduction. I needed to decrease my stash quilt kits by sewing up, giving away, or repurposing more than I had bought. See how good I am at rationalizing and wriggling out of something?

Well, I have bought three kits, sewn up two, and repurposed a third so I guess I am dead even, although counting the repurposing as a completion may be cheating a bit. I repurposed a kit titled Tessellation Zigzag. I recognize that my original purchase incentive had been the clearance markdown price. The kit was priced at less money than the fabric alone cost would have cost, plus it included a pattern. I liked the primary colorway and the concept of tessellation has always intrigued me. The kit has been sitting in my closet for years, I do not know exactly how long ago, but at least as far back as when fabric was around $8 per yard.

These were the fabrics that came in the kit.

There was a half yard of eight of them and a fat quarter of the purple. I folded each in my standard configuration for storage and segregated the batiks, on the right.

The one yard of batik fabric included for the wide border is really wild!

Then I opened up and read the pattern and had a bonus surprise. The pattern was for a paper-less chain paper-piecing technique that I did not know existed and to which I had never been exposed. I am curious to try it! Lesson learned: explore those kits that you buy for "someday" as soon as you get them. You may be seduced into doing them sooner.

I love the look of batiks but I am not a fan of working with them. I once bound a quilt with a batik and the weave was so tight I had to buy special needles to puncture it. My poor fingers hurt so from sewing on the binding by hand. As many years as I have sewn, I have never been able to get used to using a thimble. I will be sure not deploy any of these batiks as a binding fabric.

I have repurposed kits in the past. Here is one from a kit of batik fat quarters. I titled it Color Play of the Day's and blogged about its completion in my July 13, 2013 post.  The original kit is shown on the left with a French Braid pattern. I used all thirty fat quarters contained in the kit but with a totally different pattern, Dash in the Box from A Quilter's Dream. My repurposed version is shown on the right. It is the quilt with the batik binding that did in my fingers.

The three quilt kits I bought this year are Hedge Maze to expose me to Kaffe Fassett prints, Pixie Sticks to initiate me to using solids, and a study in blue and white Dresden Plate variation that will absolutely go with my living room couch. I had a reason to buy each - not just  the lure of a low price.

The two that I completed are Overlapping Squares 48" x 48" (June 8, 2016) and Orange and Grey 40" x 50" (August 10, 2016)

So now I have three and a half months to reduce my kits stash. With the busy holiday season, will I be able to sew up another kit... especially since I have master bedroom and family room drapes ahead of a kit project on my to-do-next list? Quite a kit conundrum. Aha! I have an idea. My daughter is a quilter. Perhaps I can gift her a quilt kit for Christmas, reducing my stash by one! Oh, no! What if she gifts me a quilt kit for Christmas?

I better get to sewing, not blogging. Right after I check out Let's Bee Social #142. Things there are happy, happy, happy this week!